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For disclaimers and author's note see Part I.

 

The Descending Trilogy

Part II: Step Forward


The mood in the gate room was solemn as befitted the occasion. There was only a small group gathered for the memorial for Doctor Kieran, Jonas's mentor. SG1 were all in attendance with the military officers in their service blues. General Hammond and Janet Fraiser had also turned up in uniform as had Doctor Mackenzie. Teal'c knew Jonas was simply pleased that anyone had turned up at all. He glanced over at his young friend.

Jonas was pale but his eyes were clear. He looked good in a dark charcoal suit that Major Carter had helped him select. He held onto the small wooden box containing the remains of his professor with care and reverence. Kieran's death had been swift, a series of major strokes in a matter of hours that his brain had not been able to endure. It had not been entirely unexpected given the damage done to his body and mind from the naquadria radiation he had been subjected to but Teal'c knew Jonas felt the loss keenly.

'Perhaps you'd like to say a few words, son.' Hammond prompted softly.

Jonas started as though in surprise but nodded. He cleared his throat. 'I know you really didn't know Doctor Kieran all that well but he was a good man. He was a good friend. I will miss him.' His voice broke on the last word and Teal'c watched Samantha Carter inch closer to their young team-mate.

Hammond nodded up to the control room in a silent signal. The Stargate began to spin. A moment later the wormhole blossomed in the centre, a rush of blue and white that punched outward until it settled back into its usual shimmering circle. The address was to a planet in the last throes of its life. The box would be incinerated by the heat as soon as it passed to the other side.

Jonas walked up the ramp and quietly pushed the box into the event horizon. It disappeared but he stayed, fixed to the spot, as the wormhole winked out.

'Dismissed.' Hammond said softly. He and the medical staff walked out, leaving SG1 alone.

Teal'c looked over at his human team-mates; O'Neill and Major Carter were both looking with concern at Jonas stood at the top of the ramp, his head bowed. They looked back at Teal'c. Silently, they all agreed Teal'c would take point. Although the others had forged their own relationships with the Kelownan, Teal'c shared the closest bond with him.

Teal'c stepped forward. He made his way up the ramp almost silently. He stood just behind Jonas and waited.

Jonas stared up at the silver Stargate and Teal'c caught the glimmer of tears in his eyes. 'I can't believe he's gone.'

Teal'c remained silent. He knew Jonas's relationship with Doctor Kieran was not unlike his own with Bra'tac. The loss of the older man was a blow for Jonas. More than that, it was the loss of one of the last remaining links Jonas had with his home planet and former life.

Jonas shook his head. 'I only saw him the day before and he was fine.'

'Doctor Fraiser said it was sudden.' Teal'c concurred.

'He was fascinated by the idea of the tablet.' Jonas pressed his lips together. 'He gave me some good ideas about how to go about translating it.'

And had given Jonas renewed confidence to keep trying despite his lack of success in the week since they had returned from Abydos, Teal'c mused. He had seen how Jonas had set to work with more enthusiasm in the wake of his visit to his mentor.

'Speaking of which,' Jonas sighed, 'I should get back to it.' He looked back at Teal'c and past him to where their other two team-mates waited. He started down the ramp and Teal'c followed him.

'Want to grab some cake?' Jack asked as Jonas came to a halt in front of their team leader.

Teal'c raised an eyebrow and shot a look toward Major Carter who had ducked her head to hide her smile. Cake was O'Neill's usual response to a difficult situation.

Jonas shook his head. 'I was planning on getting back to the translation.'

O'Neill's eyebrows rose a little and his gaze went sharply to the Major beside him. She shifted subtly, drawing Jonas's attention.

'You know no-one expects you to do that today.' Sam said gently.

Jonas shrugged. 'Honestly, I just want to stay busy.'

Another silent look passed between the three original members of SG1; understanding that they had to let Jonas handle his grief in his own way competed with their concern.

'OK,' Jack said out loud, 'but cake first.' He held up a hand before Jonas could protest. 'You have to eat, right? Energy for all that brain exercise?'

Jonas acquiesced with a sigh.

They all headed to their quarters to change before meeting up in the mess. The afternoon snack was welcome. Teal'c demolished a sandwich and a large slice of cake before finishing with a selection of fruit. Jonas's appetite seemed non-existent. He forced down the cake but only Teal'c suspected because Jonas feared disappointing their team leader if he had refused it. The Kelownan excused himself as soon as he could and the others let him leave, watching his exit with worried eyes.

'He left some of his cake.' Jack sounded scandalised.

'He's upset, sir.' Sam said succinctly. She picked up her mug and dunked the tea-bag again before setting it aside.

Teal'c swallowed an orange segment. 'You are worried, O'Neill.'

'Don't get me wrong,' Jack began, 'but this couldn't have happened at a worst time.' He sighed, motioning with his coffee mug. 'We kinda need him focused right now.'

'I believe Jonas Quinn understands the importance of translating the tablet.' Teal'c said stiffly, unhappy at the implied criticism in O'Neill's words.

'I'm not saying he doesn't, and I'm not even saying it's his fault if he is a little distracted.' Jack said firmly. 'Just...,' he waved his mug again, 'not a good time.'

Teal'c inclined his head accepting the sincerity in O'Neill's words.

'I think Jonas will be fine, sir.' Sam said. 'If anything it's clear that he wants to, uh...'

'Bury himself in work?' Jack supplied.

There was a pause while they all thought about whether that was a good thing or not.

'He will need someone to replace Doctor Kieran as a sounding board.' Teal'c said eventually, returning to his thoughts as he had waited with Jonas at the top of the ramp.

He was not surprised to see O'Neill immediately look across the table at Major Carter.

She lowered her mug and frowned. 'I'm not sure I'm the right person, sir.'

'He respects you.' Jack argued. 'And you're both scientists...'

'With completely different disciplines in this case.' Sam retorted. Her fingers traced an idle pattern on the table-top. 'You two have more experience with Ancient than I do.'

Teal'c refrained from pointing out that she and Daniel Jackson had often acted as sounding boards for the other, and he could see O'Neill making the same effort not to say something similar.

'He requires a mentor.' Teal'c said mildly.

'He needs Daniel.' Jack muttered, saying what they were all thinking.

Sam's gaze fell to the table.

Teal'c felt her anxiety as palpably as his own. They had heard nothing from their former team-mate since their departure from Abydos just before Anubis had destroyed the planet. They were all concerned that he had not survived whatever confrontation had taken place.

Sam took a sip of her tea. Her blunt fingernails tapped the ceramic. 'The reports coming in about the power of Anubis's super-weapon are disturbing.'

'The Jaffa report that two more of the System Lords have fallen.' Teal'c concurred, not questioning the change in subject.

Jack grimaced. 'I should have blown it up when I had the chance.'

'And undoubtedly we would be dead.' Teal'c replied.

'Your point?' Jack replied.

Teal'c tilted his head in response. They may have died but perhaps it would have been better for the rest of the galaxy if they had destroyed the Eye of Ra.

'The Tok'ra are working on leads to understand how the weapon works.' Sam continued. 'If we can establish that then...'

'We can blow it up.' Jack said. He drained his coffee mug. 'It's a plan.'

And one that did not require them to be dependent on the translation of the Ancient tablet, Teal'c considered dryly. It was not that they did not have confidence in Jonas Quinn – he was certain of that – more that they all knew that it would be wise to have a fallback in the event that such a translation of the tablet proved impossible.

'Team night.' Jack declared as he got to his feet. 'You bring Jonas. I'll bring the beer.' He left before either of them could respond.

Sam sighed heavily as she watched him stride out of the mess.

'You are worried about him.' Teal'c observed quietly.

'You mean Jonas?' Sam tried unsuccessfully to cover her discomfort that he had guessed her concern for O'Neill.

Teal'c simply stared at her.

'I think he feels responsible for Abydos.' Sam mumbled, lowering her gaze.

It was an astute observation, Teal'c realised. O'Neill would feel the weight of his decision to follow Daniel Jackson's instructions to hand over the Eye; for the destruction of Abydos that had followed; for the way Anubis was destroying the galaxy in the wake of completing his weapon.

'And he's worried about Daniel.' Sam sighed again.

Teal'c waited a long moment. 'Perhaps it would be wise to take additional cake this evening.'

Sam smiled and Teal'c was pleased to see it. She had been unusually quiet since the mission to Abydos. She fiddled with the handle on her mug for a moment as though debating something.

'Teal'c, can I ask you a question?'

He nodded, reaching for the apple he still had to consume.

'Why didn't you tell me you'd seen Daniel?' Her words spilled out in a rush.

Teal'c set the apple down and held her gaze. 'I did not wish to upset you.'

'You thought it would upset me to know he was OK?' Sam asked, confusion settling over her delicate features.

'I believed it would bring back the memory of his passing and the grief you then experienced.' Teal'c explained. He waited until he saw understanding enter her blue eyes before he continued. 'I also wondered briefly whether I had merely dreamed of him.'

She nodded slowly. He could see the intent to change the subject before she opened her mouth and asked him about Bra'tac and Rya'c. His mentor and son were travelling, spreading the word of the Jaffa cause to bring more warriors to the fight.

'Rak'nor reports that they have moved on again.' Teal'c informed her.

'How many warriors have they convinced so far?' Sam teases him.

'Twenty-one.' Teal'c replies; the pride coated his words.

Sam nodded and set down her mug. 'Well, I should get back to work.' She stood up and stretched before reaching for her tray. 'See you later.'

Teal'c watched her go and reached again for the apple. He wondered briefly how Bra'tac and Rya'c were faring. Rya'c was young but he was a good warrior. Teal'c knew Bra'tac would ensure Rya'c's safety as much as he could. A nagging worry had him frowning though.

Teal'c could feel the lack of strength in his own body from using tretonin. He had struggled in the fight at Abydos; had barely made it back to the pyramid and had little strength to prevent the deaths of the young men around him. He feared his weakness was also shared by Bra'tac. He suppressed his sigh and disregarded his worry. He could do nothing but hope they would remain safe.

o-O-o

Daniel had no idea why he felt drawn to the planet he had ended up on after what seemed like days of drifting around the universe trying to find anywhere that didn't remind him of Earth or Abydos or any of the planets he'd visited with SG1.

Everything on the planet he'd landed on was dark, cold and dismal. Desolate. Maybe it played to his state of mind, he mused. He was hidden from the natives but he had assumed human form again; clothing himself in dark robes rather than white. His Ascension had lost the shiny perfection of angelic colours.

He began to wander through the slave camps and was surprised by the number of Jaffa but the knowledge of why skipped into his mind easily; the atmosphere was too harsh and toxic for humans to survive the conditions for long. He stared up at the ha'tak in the sky; partially built and hanging over the slave camp like a predatory eagle.

He shivered.

The name of the planet caught his ears as he made his way through the camp: Erebus. It seemed appropriate. If he remembered his Greek mythology correctly, Erebus was the place the condemned passed through on their way to die.

A burly white-blond Jaffa who was clearly the overseer yanked a weak slave out of the line and into the centre of the camp. Daniel froze, watching as the slave was strapped to a post and whipped. The young boy was about Rya'c's age.

He shivered again.

The sound of gliders had him jerking his gaze upwards and the sight of so many filling the sky had him automatically ducking for cover despite the knowledge that they couldn't see him. Ba'al's troops, Daniel realised. They had come to take control of Erebus.

Something else tugged at his senses and he focused, shifting through space easily until he found the source: Bra'tac. Daniel felt a surge of horror at finding the Jaffa hiding on the planet and it increased again when he realised Rya'c was huddled beside him, along with some other Jaffa they had evidently liberated from the camp and recruited to their cause.

The old Jaffa grimaced as they watched the troops descend on the camp.

'What do we now, Master Bra'tac?' whispered Rya'c beside him.

'We must leave immediately.' Bra'tac said sharply.

One of the Jaffa pointed back towards the forest. 'We are cut off from the ship.'

'Then we go through the Stargate.' Bra'tac said. 'We will be able to lower the iris.'

Iris? Daniel frowned. He hadn't heard of the Goa'uld using an iris over their Stargate but it made sense that they would. They scavenged everything.

He would stay with them, Daniel mused, just until they were safely away from the planet. He watched as they made their way to the gate.

Bra'tac deployed his men in a pattern that Daniel recognised and he silently held his breath as they successfully took the Stargate, zatting the guards with ease. Bra'tac dialled the Alpha site but before they could move, Ba'al's troops surrounded them. Daniel watched helplessly, jis keen eyes seeing Bra'tac silently sending a signal with the iris deactivation code before the wormhole winked out. If the Alpha site registered the signal; if they knew what it was or were curious, Bra'tac, Rya'c and the others stood a chance.

There were too many ifs. Daniel felt his frustration rise up again. He couldn't help them, he reminded himself brusquely. He had promised Oma that he would let go of his burden; that he would not interfere as he had done on Abydos. And who was he to interfere anyway? If he believed he could his power in that way, it made him no better than the Goa'uld.

But it was painful.

He couldn't stay and watch. He spent a night wandering aimlessly; his mind returning time and again to Bra'tac and Rya'c's plight. By the next day, Daniel couldn't bear it. He went back and watched as Bra'tac was whipped to spare Rya'c.

Daniel knew he could spare them both; whisk them away from the planet in a heartbeat – save them and the other Jaffa that were being held.

He readied his power.

'Are you really willing to risk it?' Morgan Le Fay's cultured tones asked behind him and he turned to find her watching him a few meters away.

Daniel deflated at the sight of the Ascended woman. 'You're here to stop me.'

Morgan shook her head. Her brunette bob was styled back into a classic chignon and she wore similar robes to his rather than her usual white. 'I thought you might have need of a friend.'

'Are we friends?' Daniel asked bluntly.

She seemed amused more than anything. 'I wouldn't call us enemies.'

Daniel walked over to her and they sat on a large rock, both of them keeping watch on the camp.

'I'm not sure I can do this anymore.' Daniel admitted. He gave a hard laugh. 'I'm not sure I ever could.'

'You cannot let go of your burden.' Morgan said softly. She waved a hand toward Rya'c and Bra'tac. 'Of the bonds of your past.'

'I Ascended because I thought I could do more.' Daniel said. He shook his head. 'Instead, I'm doing nothing.'

She waited patiently as he gathered his thoughts.

'I understand.' Daniel said quietly. 'I understand why I'm not supposed to use my powers. I know that to use them, to interfere with the lower planes gives me too much power over life and death. I'm not a God. I get that.'

'But.' Morgan said.

'But,' Daniel's lips twisted, 'what use it to have this power if I can't use it for good?'

'Do you remember when we met on the Isle of Apples?' Morgan asked, seemingly changing the subject although Daniel believed she wasn't; that she was attempting to answer his question.

'You asked me if I Ascended for knowledge or power.' Daniel sighed heavily. 'I said I wasn't sure; that sometimes it felt like I Ascended for neither and sometimes it felt like I Ascended for both.'

Morgan smiled. 'And if I asked you now?'

'It's become all about the power.' Daniel ruminated aloud. 'And the fact that I can't use it to save the people I love.' He grimaced, unhappy about the revelation. How was he any better than Anubis when all was said and done?

'Anubis Ascended for power.' Morgan agreed as though she had read his thoughts – he wasn't sure she hadn't. 'He had read stories of how the race that called itself Alteran had Ascended and become pure energy. More than that, he had discovered an Ancient scroll which contained some of the early thoughts of a rival religious sect that had caused the Alterans to flee their galaxy for another. It detailed how an Ascended being acting like a God could generate more power through the devout worship of his followers. Ascension was all about power for Anubis.'

'Why is he allowed to continue to exist as...as what he is?' Daniel asked furiously. 'Why not send him back? If it was to punish Oma I think she's learned her lesson...'

'But she hasn't.' Morgan said firmly. 'She still continues to Ascend those who cannot Ascend themselves.'

Daniel's anger flared again. 'And so what? The rest of us don't matter?' He was oblivious that he had counted himself among the non-Ascended. 'All those on the lower planes just have to suffer because Anubis is what he is? You don't care at all?'

'He can be stopped.' Morgan said firmly.

'Oma wouldn't let me.' Daniel argued, gesturing at her wildly.

'Because it's not your destiny to stop him.' Morgan held up her hand. 'The Others would have stopped you if she had not.'

'It's not fair.' Daniel stated brusquely.

'You're disappointed in us.' Morgan noted. 'You had placed those who had Ascended into the realms of angels only to find that we are as fallible as the human form we once wore.'

Daniel flushed at the truth of her words.

Morgan smiled sympathetically. 'Do you remember what else you said to me on the Isle of Apples?'

'Does it matter?' Daniel snapped, uncaring about his rudeness.

'That all that it took for evil to triumph was for good men to do nothing.' Morgan repeated. She adjusted her robes as though cold. 'My friend Moros would have agreed with you.'

'Moros?' Daniel questioned.

'You knew him as Merlin.' Morgan's gaze took on a distant look as though she was seeing the past. 'He believed for so many years that non-interference was the way; held to the principle so tightly.'

'What changed his mind?' Daniel asked, his curiosity aroused by the mention of the infamous wizard of Arthurian legend.

'A vision sent to him warning him of a great evil.' Morgan sighed. 'Once he had seen it, he could not stand by and do nothing.'

'Wait, a vision? Of great evil?' Daniel questioned. 'In the past, right?'

Morgan smiled grimly. 'Do you really want to know?'

Daniel winced and shook his head.

'Moros Descended.' Morgan continued. 'He gave up the power because he knew he could do more as a human to ensure that evil did not triumph.'

'But he kept his powers.' Daniel commented. 'He used them to help Arthur.'

'Did he?' Morgan questioned. 'There's so much that's lost in time and myth. I rather think what Moros retained was his knowledge.'

'But you think I should do the same.' Daniel realised. 'Descend.'

Morgan gazed at him with more empathy than he wanted. He felt his face redden under her knowing stare.

'Those seeking Ascension for knowledge and only knowledge are those who find true peace in this form.' Morgan murmured. 'Because there is no burden in leaving behind the life lived before; no need or want for the power; no reason to play God.'

'But what use is knowledge even if you cannot share it with anyone?' Daniel recalled the words Ernest Littlefield had said to him on Heliopolis.

He had never let go of his burden because his bonds were too important to him; sharing his knowledge was part of who he was. The memory of how close he had been to staying with the Ancient device on Heliopolis on the pretext of learning shot through him. And it had been a pretext because ultimately his main motivation had been escape. Escape from the loneliness he'd felt after losing Sha're to Apophis; the torment of searching for her never to find her; the war they were embarking upon with the Goa'uld.

Hadn't he used Ascension for the same reason? When Morgan had last questioned him over his Ascension, he'd even joked with her that he didn't know whether he had Ascended simply to escape his former life; the constant losses that the war wrought in its wake; the sense that he was losing himself in the fight against the Goa'uld; the fear that he didn't belong with SG1; wasn't making a difference. In truth, he hadn't Ascended for power or knowledge, although he'd believed he would have both, but to escape; to find a way to make a difference when it seemed he failed so often to do so as a mortal.

It was galling to realise the truth.

Because he would never make the difference he so wanted to make if he remained Ascended; he would always have to do nothing. And evil would triumph.

Perhaps he couldn't destroy Anubis as an Ascended being but perhaps there was another way to destroy him if he was human.

Daniel glanced over at the camp; at where Bra'tac and Rya'c toiled. And perhaps in his former life, he could save his friends.

'Then you have your answer, Doctor Jackson.' Morgan said softly.

He turned to Morgan to thank her only to find her gone as though she had never been there.

He gathered his power a final time. He would need to find Oma.

He knew his destination.

o-O-o

Jonas blew out a frustrated breath and threw the pencil he held down onto the bench. He stretched his arms up, arching his back, pulling the green t-shirt he wore taut over his torso and briefly showing the outline of the muscles he had developed.

'Damn it.' He muttered. He shook his head. He was getting exactly nowhere with the translation. Nowhere.

He ripped the latest page of his scribbling from his notebook and threw it toward the pile around the bin. He'd stopped trying to get them into the wire basket around the third or fourth day he'd been focused on the translation, just after he'd gotten back from seeing Doctor Kieran for the last time.

A wave of sadness rushed through him. He missed his professor. The older man had known him in a way none of his team-mates did and understood him in a way they didn't. He had worked for so long with the other man that they had developed a way of communicating that was innate – a bit like the way the original three – four if he included Daniel – members of SG1 were able to talk to each other without words. He sighed and ripped out a second page, balled it up and sent it in the same direction as the first.

Sam walked in just as the crumpled up ball missed the pile and landed by her foot. She nudged it towards the bin and continued into the room. 'Hey, how's it going?'

'It's not.' Jonas said, softening his blunt statement with an attempted smile. Sam looked good, dressed in the usual green BDU pants and the long-sleeved black shirt. Her silver dog-tags glinted against the black. 'How about you?'

'I'm kind of stuck trying to figure out what exactly the device SG8 found on P9Y745 does.' Sam said, wandering around to lean on the bench beside him.

'Well, I'm no further forward with this.' Jonas said bleakly.

Sam stared at him for so long Jonas began to wonder if he'd accidentally smeared pen on his face or had something between his teeth.

'What?'

'Come on.' Sam patted his shoulder. 'Let's get out of here.'

Jonas looked back at the tablet. 'I should...'

'Follow me.' Sam said with a bright smile.

He heard the insistent order in her tone and carefully packed away the tablet before following her out. She made a stop to the mess to pick up some sandwiches and drinks. Jonas's stomach rumbled hungrily and he realised he'd skipped lunch and possibly dinner; he'd kind of lost track of the time. She made him grab a coat while she grabbed hers and led him into the elevator.

Jonas watched as the floor indicator ticked away steadily. They finally made it out to the top of the mountain into the darkness. Sam nodded an acknowledgement at the guard before she led the way to a patch of grass illuminated by the artificial security lights and sat down, gesturing for Jonas to do the same.

'I don't...' Jonas began.

She threw a pack of sandwiches at him. 'Eat first.'

Jonas sighed but he gratefully unwrapped the food and sank his teeth into the turkey sandwich. The sharp tang of lemon mayonnaise made his mouth water and he chewed briskly, ravenous. He demolished one half before he looked up at the sky. It was dark; the stars dotted the heavens like sequins on blue satin. It was beautiful.

Jonas felt his muscles unknot for the first time in days. He breathed in the fresh air as though it was water and he was thirsty. He ate the second half of his sandwich with more finesse.

Sam handed him another pack when he was done along with a bottle of apple juice. He drank half the bottle before he started in on the second sandwich.

'These are great.' He commented.

'They're Teal'c's favourite.' Sam said. She screwed up the plastic wrapping and dropped it beside her. He knew she would pick it up before they left. Littering was a strict no-no.

'He has great taste.' Jonas murmured around a mouthful of sandwich.

Sam leaned back on her arms and threw her head back as she looked up to the stars. 'Daniel and I used to come up here sometimes in the early days.'

Jonas paused; the sandwich half-way to his mouth. He took a slow bite, chewed and swallowed it before he answered her. 'Really?'

'We'd both work late, be here at some crazy time and we'd have forgotten to eat something.' Sam explained. Her eyes were on the sky; her sight lost somewhere in the past. There was a fondness in her expression, in her tone, that made Jonas ache a little. 'One of us would go searching for the other and we'd end up...out here, having an impromptu picnic and using each other as sounding boards.'

Jonas brushed some crumbs from his t-shirt. He wondered if he had missed some cue. 'You want to use me as a sounding board?'

'Actually, I was thinking you might want to use me as a sounding board.' Sam replied, looking over at him. 'I know I'm not a linguist but...' she shrugged.

'Two heads, right?' Jonas completed. He was fairly certain the Colonel had put her in charge of keeping him motivated and supported during the translation and he felt a moment's resentment that her gesture was probably no more than her following orders. Which was a mean thought, Jonas berated himself. Sam might have been ordered to help him focus but she was his friend and he knew that her sharing something of her friendship with Daniel with him was special.

He finished the sandwich and screwed up the plastic, setting it aside as she had done. He picked up his drink. 'I think I'm beginning to get how you felt when the Stargate was about to blow up and everyone was looking to you for the solution.'

Sam shifted to sit cross-legged; she rested her elbows on her knees, propping her chin up on her clasped hands. 'Tell me.'

Jonas sighed and launched into his explanation; how nothing made sense, how he barely understood Daniel's journals on Ancient, how the syntax didn't seem to work, how the rules in the journal didn't seem to match the Ancient on the tablet. It all tumbled out in a rush. '...I'm no further forward than I was the day we brought that thing back and people are dying out there from Anubis and this super-weapon.' He finished passionately.

Sam was silent.

'Sorry.' Jonas grimaced. 'I didn't mean to dump that all on you.'

She waved away his apology. 'So, to recap,' she paused with a glint of amusement in her eye that should have warned him, 'it's not going well.'

Jonas laughed. The tension that had wound up again as he had talked, disappeared. 'That about sums it up.'

Sam smiled at him. 'You shouldn't feel guilty about not making progress, Jonas. We all know it's going to take time.'

'I talked through some of this with Doctor Kieran before he, uh.' Jonas stumbled to a halt before he gamely tried to continue. 'Before he died.' His throat closed up.

'You miss him.' Sam stated sadly.

Jonas knew it wasn't a question but he nodded anyway. He looked away into the sky and sighed. Sam placed a hand on his arm, comforting him.

Jonas dragged his mind back to the translation. 'I've tried the things that Doctor Kieran suggested but I still can't make any sense of it.'

Sam removed her hand and shifted on the grass beside him. 'You said that the rules in Daniel's journal didn't work on the tablet?'

'Maybe I'm just not reading them right.' Jonas said quickly, trying to dispel any notion that he had been criticising Daniel. 'I mean, he must have spent weeks translating the Ancient writing on the time machine and in the Heliopolis device. The rules must be correct.'

'Maybe not.' Sam murmured. She shrugged at Jonas's questioning look. 'You said yourself that the tablet is one of the earliest forms of the Ancient language.'

'Right.' Jonas agreed.

'So maybe some of the rules that worked for the Ancient language Daniel translated actually don't work for the tablet.' Sam pointed out. 'Language drifts over time, right?'

'Right.' Jonas said again, thinking over her words. 'I guess it's a possibility it's just...I'm not a linguist.' He blurted out. 'I mean, not in the way he was. I mean, face it: we completely mangled the translation of Goa'uld on my planet. If he was here...'

'Don't assume that Daniel's work was completely correct either, Jonas.' Sam cautioned him. 'You've worked with us enough to see we all make mistakes.'

He probably did have Daniel up on a pedestal, Jonas considered. The other man had saved his people; saved him. And the work Daniel had done was brilliant; there was no question of that in Jonas's mind. But Sam was right. He had to consider that Daniel might have made a mistake. If the rules didn't work...maybe the rules weren't right.

'And use whoever you need to.' Sam instructed gently. 'We have a whole department of linguists who should be able to help you.'

Jonas nodded. He gave a small smile. 'I still wish Daniel was here to help me though.'

Her smile faded and Jonas could have kicked himself. 'Sorry.' He gestured at her. 'I know you're worried about what's happened to him.'

'I think it's the not knowing.' Sam said eventually. She motioned up at the stars. 'When he Ascended, he was gone but we knew he was OK even if he wasn't with us but this time...' she sighed, 'I just wish he'd turn up.'

Jonas stopped himself from making the observation that there was a possibility Daniel couldn't just turn up. The other man had seemingly broken some major rules to help them. Sam didn't need to hear that.

Sam sighed again and looked over at him. 'So, about the translation...'

'Thanks. This helped but I should probably get back to it.' Jonas said.

He pushed off the ground and snagged their litter as Sam climbed to her feet. He watched her walk back to the door and followed her reluctantly, the pressure of expectation subtly crawling back up his spine. Jonas cast a look toward the sky. Maybe he wasn't Daniel Jackson but he'd do his best; that's all he could do.

Continued in Part III.

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