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Fanfiction: Making a Difference

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S6 Prophecy
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Jonas & Cassie friendship. Mild Sam/Jack UST. Teal'c and Bra'tac friendship.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.
 

 

Making a Difference


The infirmary was quiet. Too quiet. Jonas Quinn sighed and slapped shut the book he was reading with a grimace. His hand strayed up to the bandage on his head and grazed the rough fabric before falling back down to the bed. He'd had extensive brain surgery only seven days before to remove a tumour that had allowed him to see visions of the future.

He was bored.

Very bored.

The rest of SG1 were off-world attending a celebration feast with the people of the planet they had just liberated. Nyan, the Bedrosian archaeologist who had befriended him had stopped by earlier to visit but had left when Doctor Fraiser had arrived to examine Jonas. She had left him with the strict instruction to rest.

He had rested, Jonas thought defensively. But he was bored.

And lonely.

He sighed deeply.

Footsteps had him turning hopefully towards the door only to sink back on his pillows in disappointment when they went past. His fingers tapped impatiently on top of the scratchy blanket.

He was disappointed that he couldn't attend the celebration feast but even he conceded that he wasn't quite up to 'gate travel. But he'd also been surprised Samantha Carter had been allowed to attend given her own injury; the burn across her upper arm was a bad one, and her heart had stopped beating for a moment. It had been a week since it had happened though and Jonas knew the CMO would never have declared Sam fit if she wasn't.

They would be back in a few hours, Jonas reminded himself. Sam would tell him stories of the villagers; Teal'c would sit with him and the Colonel would...bring him jello.

He pulled a face. He had spent the better part of a year trying to impress his team leader; trying to earn his place on SG1. Jonas frowned slightly. At first he'd felt guilty about Daniel Jackson but he'd accepted that he couldn't take the other man's place after his old professor had given him some advice to be himself. He'd settled after that and he'd been doing a good job; the Colonel had even said so a couple of times. But he had still felt like he had a lot to prove, that he still needed to make a difference, and the ability to see the future had seemed like a gift; a gift that had almost killed him.

Jonas stared up at the ceiling. He really didn't have a death wish. He felt enormously guilty about helping his country build a bomb that had no doubt killed many on his homeworld but he accepted his responsibility to repair what he had helped to destroy. Working with SG1, finding a practical use for naquadria beyond blowing things up; finding a way to make a difference – to redeem himself...that's what he wanted.

He had come close to dying. He shivered at the thought. He had wanted so badly to see the future; to ensure the safety of the Colonel and Teal'c, of the SGC, that he had almost left it too late for them to extract the tumour from his brain. It was a sobering thought.

He picked up the book he had discarded, trying to distract himself. He turned the page back to the one he had been reading, ignoring the sound of footsteps in the corridor.

'Hey.'

The cheerful call from the doorway had him turning his head much quicker than he was supposed to; he winced as a twinge of pain skittered through him but he covered with a bright smile for the teenage girl entering his infirmary room.

'Cassie.'

She grinned at him but her eyes were serious as they took in his bandaged head. 'Mom said I could come bug you.'

Jonas's eyebrows lifted imperceptibly. 'Really?'

'Sam usually plays chess with me.' Cassie explained. 'But as she's off-world...'

Jonas hurriedly set aside the book and waved her over. 'I haven't played that often.' He apologised as she set her pack down on the bottom of the bed and pulled out a portable chess board.

'I can explain it to you if you get stuck.' Cassie said absently as she opened the board out on the bed – Jonas obligingly moved over to the other side.

They played for a while in silence; Jonas lying on his side with Cassie sat on the end of the bed cross-legged.

Cassie winced as Jonas took another pawn. 'I thought you didn't remember how to play this?'

'I'm a quick study.' He grinned at her and held up her pawn.

She rolled her eyes and made her next move.

Jonas frowned. She was good; very good. He debated briefly before he moved his next piece. 'So, it's nice of you to come and see me.'

Cassie shrugged. 'It's no big deal.' She gestured over at the balloons and cards on his bedside table. 'I should have brought you something.'

'You did.' Jonas pointed out. 'You brought chess.'

Cassie laughed before her eyes strayed back to the get well cards. 'Has Stacey been to see you?'

The question about his ex-girlfriend was delivered casually but Jonas could detect the hint of anger under the words. Cassie had helped him out with some good advice when he'd started his relationship with Lieutenant Rush and he suspected that the teenager was angrier about his being dumped than he was.

'She's not allowed on base since her transfer.' He replied easily. 'Angie, her house-mate, dropped a card in yesterday.'

Cassie snorted in disgust. She took his knight.

'You're too hard on her.' Jonas said as he made another defensive move. 'It's better that she ended it if she really couldn't deal with my work.'

'She knew you worked on a frontline team.' Cassie rejoined. 'It's not like she's the only one who has to live with the possibility that someone they care about might not come home.'

Jonas glanced up at her. She was looking down at the board with a faint frown. 'I guess you live with it all the time.' He mused out loud.

Cassie lifted a shoulder. 'It's OK.'

'Really?' Jonas asked, curious.

'Well, not OK, OK.' Cassie sighed heavily and moved her rook. 'I mean if someone gave me a vote I'd never allow you guys off-world but...' she looked up at him, 'then who would save someone like me on another world?'

Jonas gave a slow nod, mindful of his head.

'Plus, you know, I've kind of been through the whole thing already with Daniel doing his glowy thing.' Cassie said bluntly. 'It sucks but I have my Mom and I have you guys.' She shrugged again. 'I got through it.'

'I'm sorry.' The words tumbled out before Jonas could stop them.

Cassie stared at him, startled.

Jonas lifted a hand from the bed. 'I just...I think I'll always feel like it was my fault that he died...Ascended.' He admitted. 'I should have done something.'

Cassie gestured at the board and Jonas focused for a moment to make his move.

'I'm sorry too.' She said.

Jonas looked at her bemused. 'What for?'

'Nirrti.' Cassie flushed and looked down; her long hair falling to hide her face. 'It was my fault that she was...out there.' She turned a chess piece over nervously in one hand and her eyes darted back to his. 'They let her go because of me.'

'That wasn't your fault.' Jonas retorted strongly. 'You were ill.'

'It doesn't make me feel less guilty.' Cassie said simply. 'I mean, Sam almost died. You almost died. I know that Russian guy did and...'

'And that wasn't your fault.' Jonas reiterated. 'Nirrti was responsible for what she did. Not you.'

'And Daniel was responsible for what he did.' Cassie shot back.

Jonas's mouth fell open and he was certain he must have looked like a stunned bredden cat. He slowly closed his mouth. 'Sneaky.' He managed eventually.

Cassie smiled.

'So, you don't feel responsible?' Jonas checked.

'No, I do.' Cassie admitted. 'You know, sometimes. Like when I heard about Sam or you. But then...' she grimaced, 'you're going to think I'm odd.'

'I won't.' Jonas promised.

She looked at him carefully as though gauging whether to trust him and finally she sighed. 'I had this dream about Daniel and he told me it wasn't my fault.'

'So...'

'So, it just makes me feel better, you know?' Cassie said, gesturing with the chess piece she held. 'I mean, he's supposed to be on this other plane of reality and all-knowing, right?'

Jonas took a breath to answer and realised he didn't need to as she ploughed on.

'So if he thinks it wasn't my fault then maybe it isn't.' Cassie finished.

'OK.' Jonas said, moving a bishop into position. 'I get that.'

'Do you ever dream about Daniel?' Cassie asked suddenly. Her eyes were back on the board assessing Jonas's strategy.

'Sometimes.' Jonas admitted. 'I replay what happened in the lab mostly.' He watched as she moved her Queen out of harm's way. 'I wish I'd known him better.'

'He was so cool.' Cassie said. 'And sweet. Really sweet.' Her face softened. 'He would come over and help me with my homework or tell me stories about the digs he'd been on.'

'You miss him.'

'Yeah.' Cassie motioned for him to move.

Jonas looked at the board and shuffled his King to a different square.

'I would, maybe, kind of miss you too.' Cassie said quietly.

Jonas glanced at her sharply.

Cassie made a face. 'If you, you know...'

'Thank you.' Jonas said, unsure what to say.

'Mom didn't say much but I remember when I had powers.' Cassie commented as she took another of his pawns. 'I didn't want to give them up even if it killed me.'

'I didn't want to die.' Jonas denied. He moved a piece without thinking. 'I just...wanted to be useful.'

'So what was your thing?' Cassie asked brightly.

'Thing?'

She rolled her eyes at him again. 'Power. Mom wouldn't tell me yours. The whole doctor confidentiality thing.' She held up the knight she had picked up. 'I had telekinesis.' She placed the knight down.

'I could see the future.' Jonas said, absently playing another move.

'Cool.'

'I thought so.' Jonas said.

Cassie took his Queen. 'Check.' She grinned. 'Bet you didn't see that.'

Jonas laughed. 'Another game?'

'I think you need to rest.' Janet's voice had them both turning towards the doorway where the doctor stood, hands in the pockets of her white medical coat, smiling indulgently at them both. 'Come on, Cassie.'

Cassie was careful to turn away from her mother before she rolled her eyes and Jonas stifled the smile it prompted as she quickly packed away the chess board.

'Thanks.' He said sincerely.

She leaned over and kissed his cheek briefly. ''Bye!'

Janet nodded at Jonas as she placed an arm around her daughter's shoulders and ushered her out.

Jonas yawned suddenly. He wriggled down under the blankets and settled back against the pillows. Maybe a rest wasn't such a bad idea...

o-O-o

Sam took a deep breath and determinedly ignored the way her arm was aching as she focused on the food in front of her. Sam's throat closed up against a piece of dry chicken and she hurriedly drank some fruit juice to moisten her mouth. She swallowed with difficulty; the meat scraping past the back of her throat uncomfortably. Although the SGC had sent food through the wormhole as the Earth contribution to the celebration feast, it was impacted from being transported and served cold hours after preparation. It was the food that was mostly causing her discomfort, Sam thought defiantly, refusing to admit even to herself that the pain might also be responsible.

But it could also be because she also felt a little out of place, Sam admitted silently. She had been excluded from the mission after Jonas's prediction had made it seem like she would be injured taking part. As it was she had been injured helping with the gate. She let out a small sigh certain no-one was watching her. The members of SG15, SG3 and SG10 and even her own team-mates were all busy on other tables laughing and joking with the villagers they had helped free.

But not her.

Nope. For one thing, it seemed like she was on a table with every other woman in the village. The separate table thing bugged her. She might have lost some of her feminist zeal with maturity but she still had enough that it bugged her. She also didn't understand it; she hadn't been excluded at the first meal SG1 had shared with the villagers. Added to that, she didn't particularly feel right being congratulated on a victory she had played no part in. Well, not no part, Sam corrected; she had argued to help the villagers after SG1's original meeting with them.

Natania, the daughter of the village elder who had led the insurgence against the Goa'uld, also looked highly uncomfortable. According to the Colonel it had been Natania who had helped free him and the rest of SG15 so Sam couldn't fathom why the other women were ignoring her. Still, Sam's own efforts to engage her in conversation hadn't gone well. Natania had slowly retreated behind a wall of dark hair.

Sam gave up on her food and pushed her plate away. She took another sip of juice. Natania reacted immediately. She stood up and swept the plate away, disappearing into the dwelling where SG1 had left their belongings earlier.

Her arm protested again and Sam grimaced. She had clipped her arm with her pack earlier and she had a feeling the walk from the Stargate had disturbed the bandage. She should probably check on it. She made her excuses and followed Natania into the small building. The front of the house was an open plan living and kitchen area.

Natania turned from her place at the rustic sink with its lever handle to pump water and deep trough. 'Major Carter.'

'Sorry.' Sam said, trying a smile. 'I, uh, was hoping there would be a bathroom or something private area I could use?' She pointed at her arm. 'I, uh, hurt my arm and I need to check on it.'

'You are injured?' Natania's face creased with worry and she left her dishes.

'Yes.' Sam pulled a face to lessen the bluntness of the word. 'If you...'

Natania waved at her to follow.

Sam hurriedly picked up her pack and made her way through the doorway to the back rooms. She stepped into a bright and cheerful bedroom. There was a beautiful turquoise quilt covering the bed and Sam exclaimed at seeing it.

'Wow, this is beautiful.' She placed her pack on the floor unwilling to set it down on the silken material.

'It was a wedding gift.' Natania explained as she closed the shutters. 'My mother and aunts worked on it for days.'

'It's stunning.' Sam said sincerely. She gestured back out towards the front. 'I have to admit I didn't realise that your village segregated the men from the women.'

'My father made an exception for you during your first meeting.' Natania explained as she gestured for Sam to sit on the bed. 'But it is not usual for our women to assume the roles of men.'

'Is that why the others are ignoring you?' The question was out before Sam could call it back and she grimaced at the shock on Natania's face.

'I killed a God.' Natania replied, dropping her gaze; her face was filled with shame.

'He wasn't a God.' Sam automatically corrected, sitting down gingerly. She looked at Natania's pale face carefully. 'You did the right thing.'

Natania breathed in sharply and suddenly looked up, her gaze fierce and determined. 'Have you killed someone?'

Sam nodded. 'Yes.'

'Do you believe you will be punished?' Natania asked bluntly.

'You mean...'

'Beyond this life.' Natania said.

Sam sighed and attempted a small smile. 'I don't know.' She rubbed a hand over her thigh. 'I was brought up to believe that I would be judged when I died.' She bit her lip. 'But I know I've only killed to save myself or others, and that I regret it every time so I hope that makes a difference.'

Natania sat down beside her. 'Do you...do you regret it even when it is the Goa'uld?'

'Even then.' Sam admitted. 'I killed one myself a few years back, Sethesh. He was going to strike at me and before he could I...I killed him.' She shuddered at the memory; of holding her arm out and the power streaming through her into the hand device, blasting out into Seth. 'I felt sick.'

'Me too.' Natania sighed. She wrapped her arms around her stomach. 'I wanted to kill Lord Mot for taking the life of my husband.' She confessed.

'I can't imagine what you went through...what you're going through.' Sam murmured. 'My friend, Teal'c? His people believe a lot in vengeance as a way of justice. He would understand your reasoning and more than that he would admire you for it.'

Natania smiled tremulously. 'I do not believe I can think that way.'

'I think you're right to feel bad.' Sam said quietly. 'I think if you don't then that would be wrong, but I think you have to know that whatever reason motivated you to kill him, his death means your people are free of him, and that will save lives.'

'My father called me a hero but I don't feel like I did something heroic.'

'You are a hero.' Sam replied softly. She held up a hand. 'Not for killing the Goa'uld but being brave and helping my people escape; in having the courage to stand up for someone else; to save the life of someone else even though you were scared.' She placed a hand on Natania's shoulder. 'That's what makes you heroic.'

Natania's eyes were bright with tears but she nodded, and swiftly swiped at her face as one or two fell onto her cheeks.

Sam squeezed her shoulder gently. Her arm twinged again and she didn't hide her wince quickly enough.

'You are in pain.' Natania said. 'I will leave you.'

'Uh, thanks.' Sam said, feeling a little awkward. She waited until Natania was gone before she unzipped her green jacket and shrugged it off with a wince. The white bandage peeked out starkly from under her black t-shirt. Sam frowned as she registered the yellow patch on the bandage just under the t-shirt.

The wound must have broken open and started to seep again, she thought with resignation. Janet was not going to be happy. The CMO had only allowed Sam off-world because it was ostensibly a non-risk mission. Sam frowned as she began to slowly remove the bandage. She struggled to reach the tape that disappeared under her sleeve.

There was a sharp rap on the door. 'Carter.' The Colonel's voice travelled through the wood.

Her head snapped up sharply. 'In here, sir.'

Jack opened the door and regarded her with concern before he crossed to her and gently took hold of her arm. He pulled a face at the sodden bandage. 'Doc's going to kill me.'

Sam's lips twitched. 'I was going to change the bandage, I'm just having some difficulty getting it off.'

Jack pushed her sleeve up to see the extent of the seepage. He sighed. 'Take off your shirt, Carter.'

Sam watched as he turned around to give her the illusion of privacy. She suppressed the urge to sigh. She slowly eased out of her t-shirt and held it over her chest. 'Sir.'

He turned back and she looked away as he stripped the bandage from her arm. She heard him rooting in her pack for the medical supplies they carried and flinched as he began to clean the seeping wound.

'How bad is it?' Sam asked when he remained silent.

'Bad.' Jack said.

There was something in his tone that made her look at him and she caught the guilt that swam through his eyes before he masked his expression.

'It wasn't your fault, sir, anymore than it was Jonas's.' Sam said softly.

Jack glanced at her. 'I supported the call to pull you from the mission, Carter. It kinda makes it somewhat my fault that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.'

'Sir, it's possible that I might have been injured by a staff weapon if I'd been assigned to the mission.' Sam argued. 'We have no way of knowing whether the decision to pull me led to the injury Jonas actually saw in his vision or whether...' she stumbled to a halt.

'You were destined to get injured?' Jack said caustically.

Sam smiled tentatively. 'Well, maybe not destined...but yes; maybe it was always in my future.'

There was silence while Jack continued to clean her arm. He smeared some cream over the exposed flesh and she looked away as he replaced the gauze and began to wrap her arm in a fresh bandage.

'We should ask Dad to heal it.' Jack said conversationally.

Sam stiffened. 'With respect, sir, I can't run to my Dad every time I get injured.'

'I was thinking of asking him to help out Jonas too, Carter.' Jack said mildly. 'Teal'c wants to go to the Alpha site tomorrow so it's not like we'd be making a special trip.'

She felt him secure the bandage with tape. 'Well, I guess that would be OK.'

'So glad you approve, Carter.' Jack smirked back at her.

'Oh, I'm sorry.' Natania's voice had them both turning to the door. The dark-haired woman gestured at them. 'I did not realise you were bonded.'

'Bonded? Us?' Sam stuttered. 'No, no, we're not bonded, we're...' she darted a glance at the Colonel and found him grinning back at her stumbling explanation. She glared at him.

'Friends.' Jack supplied easily, stepping away from her. He gestured back at Sam. 'We're friends, right, Carter?'

'Right, sir.' Sam ignored the ache of disappointment his words evoked. She knew she shouldn't want more from him than that but it seemed her heart still had to get the message.

'I was just helping her the way a friend helps another friend.' Jack explained to Natania.

Natania raised an eyebrow.

'Well.' Jack clapped his hands together. 'I'll be outside.' He gave Sam an apologetic smile and made a swift exit.

Sam hurriedly replaced her t-shirt. 'So, here...' she began.

'Only a husband may see a wife so undressed.' Natania confirmed.

Sam sighed. 'Yeah. That's what I thought.' Great, she mused; she'd probably just broken a dozen respectability rules being partially naked in front of the Colonel. She replaced her jacket and gestured at the door. 'Shall we rejoin the others?'

Natania looked as pleased as Sam felt about the prospect.

'Or,' Sam suggested with a smile, 'we could stay here and talk.' She smoothed a hand over the quilt. 'Perhaps you can tell me of your husband.'

Natania hurried over to sit beside her.

o-O-o

Once he had known that he would stay at the Alpha site for an extended period of time, Bra'tac had erected a large tent in the area designated as the Jaffa quarter. He preferred it to the barracks that the Tau'ri had constructed. The material was hard-wearing and water-proof; there was a brazier in the corner to warm the air. He had covered the ground with the rubber sheeting the Tau'ri had provided but had strewn bright rugs over it to provide warmth and comfort. The camp bed was also covered with soft blankets and coverings that he had recovered from his home on Chulak.

A small table and two chairs took up another corner of the large space. Bra'tac often had someone call in on his dwelling to talk. Most nights, the Tok'ra Selmak and her host, Jacob Carter, would visit. Other times, it was Rak'nor, M'Zel or another of the men who had stepped up to take the place of the fallen at Kresh'tar.

The thought made him pause momentarily in the act of packing his bag. He had come close to dying but Teal'c had saved him by sharing his Goa'uld symbiote, and then a new drug had saved them both. Bra'tac reached for the vial of tretonin beside him and slowly turned it over in his hand.

It was strange to be without a symbiote. The balance of his body had changed; the strength imbued by the Goa'uld's healing capabilities gone. It was different. Yet Bra'tac had never felt more alive. He had known that another young symbiote would not accept him when his own died; he had been counting his days but no longer. He was free of the Goa'uld and he would live many more days because of that. He clasped the tretonin to his chest before he placed it carefully into his pack.

He could hear approaching footsteps and waited patiently for the tap on the front pole that would signal the request to enter before he called out a welcome.

'Bra'tac.' Jacob ducked under the open flap and walked over to Bra'tac. The Tok'ra liaison wore the green fatigues of the Earth BDU. They showed his rank and Bra'tac knew gained the other man greater credibility with the warriors of the Tau'ri than the beige and stone colours of the Tok'ra.

'My friend.' Bra'tac responded warmly, clasping Jacob's extended forearm firmly. 'You have come to wish me well, hmmm?'

'Are you sure this is wise?' Jacob asked, immediately getting to the point of his visit with a bluntness that Bra'tac appreciated.

'We must regain our numbers if we are to win our freedom.' Bra'tac replied mildly, his dark eyes twinkling. It was an old argument between them since Bra'tac had first proposed setting out on a recruitment campaign.

Jacob sighed but he reached into his jacket and pulled out a package wrapped carefully in brown paper. 'This is a gift from Selmak.' He handed it to Bra'tac. 'It's more tretonin so you have spare if you get caught up somewhere.'

'It is appreciated.' Bra'tac said warmly. He inclined his head. 'My thanks to Selmak and you.'

'Actually, I think we're jealous we're not coming with you.' Jacob admitted with an edge of frustration that seeped through the light tone.

'Problems?' Bra'tac probed gently.

Jacob shrugged. 'Council meetings.'

'Ah.' The word held a wealth of understanding. It seemed bureaucracy was a universal irritant to progress no matter what the race.

'Good luck.'

Jacob offered his arm again and Bra'tac patted his shoulder as he clasped it. He would miss his discussions with Jacob and Selmak. They had become close since they had both stayed on the Alpha site to ensure that their respective camps of Tok'ra and Jaffa continued to remain civil towards one another.

He waited until the other man had left before he packed the rest of the tretonin away and continued his preparation for the trip. He had almost finished when he heard more footsteps approaching the tent. Perhaps more than one approached, Bra'tac mused, tilting his head as though uncertain. He made out Rya'c's footfall first; the young man had not quite mastered the technique of giving no warning unlike the person with him who was barely distinguishable. It must be Teal'c, Bra'tac determined, knowing there were very few warriors who could achieve such a feat. His brow creased. He had not expected his protégée to visit the Alpha site before he and Rya'c began their trip. His two visitors swept into the tent before Bra'tac could consider it further.

'Tek ma te.' Teal'c said as Bra'tac greeted him.

'I was not expecting you.' Bra'tac admitted.

'I would not have missed wishing you both safe journey and success on your endeavour.' Teal'c replied stiffly.

The two of them had already disagreed over Bra'tac's plan when he had originally made the suggestion.

Bra'tac glanced over at Rya'c. 'Are you ready to depart?'

'I have a few more things to pack, Master Bra'tac.' Rya'c said, inclining his young head in respect.

'Then go finish your preparations.' Bra'tac instructed. 'Return here when you are done.'

Rya'c left swiftly, leaving Teal'c and Bra'tac alone.

'If you have come to dissuade me...' Bra'tac began, placing his hands on top of his small pack.

'I have not.' Teal'c denied.

Bra'tac waited patiently; observing the way Teal'c's jaw clenched and unclenched; the barely restrained urge to move that tensed his every muscle.

'We need warriors.' Teal'c conceded gruffly.

'I am glad you see that.' Bra'tac said mildly.

'I am not convinced this is the way.' Teal'c shot back. He clasped his hands behind his back; his chin inched up a notch belligerently. 'If I learned anything from Kresh'tar, it is to be cautious in trusting other Jaffa with our cause.'

'We cannot allow one Jaffa's betrayal to prevent us from trusting those who would join us, Teal'c.' Bra'tac contradicted.

'We were lucky to survive.' Teal'c rejoined. 'Had I allowed Rya'c to attend with us...' he stopped abruptly.

Bra'tac raised his eyebrows as Teal'c's real concern became evident. 'Your son does you proud in assisting me.'

'He is young.' Teal'c said.

'And yet he has proven himself committed to our cause.' Bra'tac argued. A thought startled him and he spoke it out loud angrily. 'Do you not trust me with his safety?'

Teal'c held his fierce accusing gaze with his own. 'We are not the warriors we once were.' He looked away from Bra'tac. 'Tretonin has changed us.'

Bra'tac felt his own ire seep away at the unhappiness Teal'c could not hide and concern for the Jaffa he considered to be a son to him rushed through him. 'You are troubled.'

'I am concerned.' Teal'c snapped back.

Bra'tac refused to let Teal'c's anger spark his own. 'With or without the Goa'uld symbiote, Teal'c; we are warriors.'

Teal'c turned to him and Bra'tac held a breath waiting for him to confide whatever troubled him. But a rush of footsteps had them both turning to the tent entrance and a moment later Rya'c's beaming face appeared.

'I am ready.' The young Jaffa said gleefully.

'Then we will depart.' Bra'tac said. He glanced at Teal'c expecting him to protest but Teal'c simply moved to join Rya'c outside of the tent. Bra'tac looked around briskly, checking to ensure the brazier was cold before he picked up his pack, slinging it cross ways over his torso. He took hold of his staff weapon and joined them.

He found Teal'c and his son in the midst of a discussion about Jonas Quinn and an ability to see the future.

'It is a shame such a gift could not be saved.' Bra'tac remarked as they made their way to the Stargate. 'It would provide a formidable advantage in battle.'

'Indeed.' Teal'c agreed.

They all came to a halt beside the DHD.

Bra'tac provided the coordinates to the young Tau'ri guard on duty and he pressed the symbols allowing the small group of Jaffa to say goodbye.

Teal'c hugged his son fiercely before pulling back, his large hands on Rya'c's shoulders as he gazed at him. 'Listen to Master Bra'tac.'

'I will, Father.' Rya'c promised eagerly. 'We will bring many new warriors to join us; you'll see.'

Teal'c squeezed his shoulders; his expression softened with paternal love and pride. 'I have no doubt.'

Rya'c stepped away from his father and Teal'c stepped forward towards Bra'tac.

The two men clasped the other's forearm strongly. Bra'tac swallowed his words of reassurance that he would look after Rya'c; Teal'c was already aware that he would do so and he saw no need to say it out loud and embarrass the boy.

'We will keep Rak'nor updated to our progress.' He said instead.

Teal'c bowed his head in understanding that it was as much reassurance as he would get. He let go of Bra'tac's arm as the wormhole blossomed out in front of them.

Bra'tac hovered momentarily. He considered his own struggle to reconcile the changes in his body from using tretonin. For Teal'c – a Jaffa at the height of his physical prowess – the difference would be even more marked. He wished for a second that he had the time to reassure Teal'c yet he was not certain the other Jaffa was even ready to hear such a reassurance. And the mission awaited. Rak'nor had arranged a contact on the planet they were travelling to who would provide them with a ship; they could not tarry.

'Ral tora ke.' Teal'c said softly as though understanding Bra'tac's thoughts.

Perhaps he did, Bra'tac thought with a touch of amusement at the simple wish of good luck; of acceptance that the mission was important if the Jaffa were to make a difference in the fight against the Goa'uld, and took priority no matter how much Teal'c may wish it otherwise.

Bra'tac had no doubt that Teal'c would find peace with the changes tretonin had made to his body eventually. He inclined his head and nodded at Rya'c. It was time to leave. They moved forward together. Bra'tac did not look back as he entered the wormhole but he knew without a doubt that Teal'c watched them until the last possible moment.

o-O-o

The Jaraesh were a primitive species; ape-like in appearance with bodies covered in thick pelts of black hair. The men were indistinguishable from the women and Daniel was beginning to suspect they were androgynous. Fascinating, he considered as he leaned on the sandy temple wall and watched the battle between the Jaraesh and Anubis's forces on the steps of the temple with interest.

The Jaraesh were making up for primitive weapons – some kind of spear and a variant of a club from what he could make out – with sheer numbers. The Jaffa were barely holding their own. It would have amused him if he hadn't known that sacrificing the contingent of Jaffa attacking the front of the temple was part of the plan. It drew attention away from the small group sneaking in the back through the jungle-like forest that surrounded the crumbling structure. He might not like Herak, Anubis's First Prime, but he had to concede the Jaffa had come up with a good strategy even if a number of the Jaffa would die meaningless deaths because of it.

Depressed at the thought, Daniel phased through the wall and into the inner chamber. He was alone in the dark space. He absently lit one of the wall torches. The Eye of Apophis sat on an altar alongside a number of other ornaments. He sighed and approached it. He picked it up and examined it. It looked remarkably similar to the fake a conman had tried to sell to Herak but he could feel the power humming through the crystal. The Eye was real. He set it back down.

He had hoped that the search for the Eye of Apophis would prove fruitless. Herak had already travelled half-way across the galaxy in search of it. Unfortunately, it seemed that Herak would finally be successful and Anubis would have five of the six Eyes he needed to recreate an Ancient weapon capable of destroying planets.

The gold that edged the Eye glinted with the light from the torch. He could destroy it so easily, Daniel thought tiredly. He could reach out with his mind and drain the crystal of its power; he could shatter it into tiny fragments; he could erase its existence from the universe as though it had never existed.

For a second, power hummed through him; tempting him...

It would be so easy...

He sighed heavily and turned away; the power draining away and leaving only frustration.

He hated not being able to do anything. Having to stand back and watch people being slaughtered. Seeing friends tortured; dying. He had Ascended in the mistaken belief that he could do more, that he could make a difference. He hadn't Ascended to stand on the sidelines and do nothing.

Daniel took a deep breath and tried to calm down. He could already sense that his tumultuous emotions had created a storm outside that was drenching the Jaffa and Jaraesh.

He was bound by the rules, he reminded himself. And despite hating his inability to help, he was learning so much, gaining so much knowledge...

A sound caught his attention – the rough grate of stone on stone – and he made himself invisible, shifting into the Ascended plane where he couldn't be seen. He hurriedly snuffed out the light he had lit, plunging the room into darkness.

A young Jaffa entered the chamber first; Herak sending him on ahead in case there were booby traps. The torch he held lit up the dark interior again. Herak himself entered a moment later. The blond-haired Jaffa made straight for the altar and the Eye. He picked it up and held it aloft before giving a grunt of satisfaction. He whirled around and left.

Daniel followed him back to the alkesh. Herak placed the Eye in a large ornate box and placed it in a secure drawer before he made his way to the front and punched in the command to open subspace communications.

Anbus's image flickered onto the screen; the Goa'uld was partially turned away from the camera so only his dark cloak was visible. Daniel rolled his eyes. He could practically hear Jack muttering about clichés and over-the-top villains.

'My Lord Anubis.' Herak bowed sharply. 'I bring you good news. We have found and retrieved the Eye of Apophis.'

'As I knew you would.' Anubis said smoothly. His hand waved towards the camera. 'There is now only the Eye of Ra to be located.'

Daniel stiffened with surprise. Ra?

'Yes, my Lord.' Herak said formally. 'Would you like me to begin enquiries?'

'That will not be necessary. I have already searched through Ra's territory. As I know Ra brought the Eye with him when he left the Tau'ri, there is only one place left.' Anubis said. 'The Eye is on this planet.'

Daniel read the gate address over Herak's shoulder as it appeared on the screen. He froze with horror.

It was Abydos.

'Rendezvous with my ship.' Anubis ordered. 'We will leave when you arrive.'

Daniel didn't wait; his decision made without thought. He phased out of the alkesh and into the sky above where he transformed into his Ascended form; a glowing light that winked out in a moment as he made for Abydos.

He was there in barely a heartbeat; an intake of breath. He stood for a long moment, invisible but inside Kasuf's tent.

Apprehension suffused him. What could he do? He was bound by the non-interference rule...but he couldn't do nothing. It was Abydos. The planet where he had met and loved Sha're; where he still had family in Kasuf, Skaara and the other Abydonians.

It was time to tell Earth about the Eyes, Daniel surmised with determination; time to warn them. Maybe it was interfering but maybe he could try and pass it off as a bending of the rules. But he would not, could not, simply leave the Abydonians to face Anubis alone.

The other men left the tent and Kasuf was alone. Daniel solidified in front of his father-in-law, causing the older man to gasp and fall to his knees.

Daniel held out his hand and helped him up. 'Good Father.'

'My son.' Kasuf placed his hands on Daniel's cheeks. 'They told me of your death, of your Ascension. How is this possible?'

Daniel took hold of Kasuf's hands and lowered them. He smiled warmly at the man who had adopted him into his family; who had given him Sha're. 'It is good to see you again, Good Father.'

'It is good to see you!' Kasuf grinned at him. 'Wait here! I will send for Skaara! He will want to see you and...'

'Good Father,' Daniel interrupted him briskly, 'I bring urgent news. You will need to call for the other elders.'

'For what reason?' Kasuf asked, halting his own exit to stare at Daniel with trepidation.

Daniel met his gaze grimly. 'Anubis is on his way to Abydos.'


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