Tears of the Ancient

By Cheryl

EMAIL: Cheryl

The mother called, softly at first, to her child. Her melodic voice caressed the heavens, winding its way around the stars, always seeking, always yearning, and eternally patient. With thousands and thousands of years of practice, she relaxed her mind and spread her call down to the lower plains, like fingers, gently touching billions of minds on thousands of worlds. It had been this way for her throughout time, and it would be this way until her call was answered. In a moment of utter despair, and there were many of those moments, she sent forth thousands of tears that sang of her loss, the same song that she had sung her child. They drifted amongst the stars and rained down on worlds, calling out to the child, their gentle tune gifted for his mind only.

Once more, the mother called, and once more, her call went unanswered.

……………………………………………………

Major Samantha Carter stared dejectedly at the small crystal housed in a containment unit on her work bench. All attempts at analysis had failed, and with the exception of the small EM field it was generating, she simply had no answers. SG-5 had unearthed the crystal while surveying a ruined temple on PC4-290 several days before and returned with the object in the hope it was the power source depicted in a badly deteriorated mural in the temple. Writings found on several partially collapsed walls at the site had been digitally recorded and passed on to Daniel for translation and Sam hoped that her team mate was having more luck than she was. As far as she could tell the crystal would make a beautiful, if not overstated, paperweight and nothing more.

She smiled to herself and wondered how far Daniel's passionate plea to let SG-1 return to the ruins had gone with Colonel O'Neill. The fact that SG-1 had been off world on their own mission at the time and had come back with nothing more than sunburn to report had annoyed Daniel considerably.

A small chime on her laptop broke Sam's daydreaming and she moved to check her in-box. High-resolution stills that had been taken of the crystal's many facets had finally been processed and she could hardly believe the picture that flashed onto the screen.

One of the faces had been blown up and enhanced, clearly showing writing engraved on its smooth surface. Writing that she instantly recognized. Daniel was just going to love this, she mused, as she reached for the phone.

……………………………………………………

"Where you headed?" Colonel Jack O'Neill asked as he quickened his pace to catch up to Doctor Daniel Jackson.

"Sam's lab. You?"

"She called you too, huh?"

"Yeah, something about writing on the crystal that SG-5 bought back from their archaeological trip to PC4-290." Daniel couldn't quite stop a whine from creeping into his voice.

Jack smiled at him, knowing that he was bucking for a return trip.

"Daniel, I said no."

"I know."

"But you're not going to let it rest, are you?"

"Nope."

When Daniel had his mind set on a task, he was like a dog with a bone, and Jack had dismissed his passionate plea for a return trip just to prolong the inevitable friendly argument. Hammond had already approved a second archaeological dig at the site, but watching Daniel squirm in frustration was worth holding that little piece of information back.

The door to Sam's lab was open, and the two men sauntered in to find her hunched over her laptop. Daniel took a quick look at the crystal contained in the shielded glass unit and then moved to join her.

"This is amazing, Daniel," she breathed, "The writing isn't engraved into the crystal as I first thought." Peering closely, she added," It appears to be part of the crystal itself, and it's obviously engineered. The technology level required to achieve such a result is way beyond anything that we can do."

"It's Ancient," he said, manipulating the screen to get a better angle on the writing.

"What does it say?" Jack asked, now propped on one of the bench stools.

Daniel took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes before putting them back on again. "Well, it's a request, actually, more of a plea."

"From who?" Sam asked, turning her attention away from the screen and on to Daniel.

"I'm not sure." He ran a finger across the screen, tracing the words. "Tears will sing for the child of my heart whose mind alone can hear the words."

"So, it's a family trinket?" Jack pushed off lightly from the workbench and spun himself around on the stool.

"Could be," Daniel replied. "Sam, were there any other stills?"

"Yes, but the lab said they were all identical. The message repeats itself on every facet of the crystal. I have all of the stills that were taken on my laptop and I've already emailed a copy to you. Want me to pull them up?"

"No, it's okay." Daniel paused, frowning at the screen." I can see some additional markings beneath the writing, but I don't think they're related."

"Yes, I spotted those." Squinting and chewing her bottom lip, Sam asked, "Think they could be imperfections in the crystal?"

"Maybe, any chance of taking a more hands on look?" he asked hopefully.

"Well, I've done every test I can think of but unfortunately we weren't able to glean any further information. However," she mused quietly, "it is emanating a very weak EM field."

"Dangerous?" Jack abruptly abandoned his stool spinning and walked over to the containment unit.

"No, sir."

"You're sure, Carter?"

"As sure as I can be with the tests that we've conducted, sir."

"Okay." He turned back to his team-mates, mulling over the situation in his mind. "But I want this lab sealed as a precaution, understand?"

Sam nodded and, closing the door softly, moved over to the containment unit and released the locks. Carefully lifting the heavy glass box away from its base, Sam groaned as she set it aside on the workbench. "That's heavy," she muttered.

Daniel made his way over to the bench, obviously eager to get his hands on the now exposed crystal. Coming within a few feet of the object in question, he stopped mid-stride, his brow furrowed in concentration.

"Something wrong, Daniel?" Sam asked.

"Can you hear that?"

Sam cocked her head to the side, listening to the noises in the room. "I can't hear anything, just us."

Daniel shook his head, as though trying to clear his mind. "Must be just me. It's gone now." Walking up to the bench, looking focused on the task at hand, he picked up the palm-sized crystal. "It's warm," he muttered distractedly, turning it over in his hands.

"Warm?" Sam repeated incredulously. "The temperature reading we took was consistent with the internal temperature of the containment unit." Her fingers flew across the keyboard, calling up the latest test results. "No change."

"Well, it's definitely warm." Daniel closed his eyes as he ran his fingers across one of the many tiny faces. "I can't feel the writing but it's as though I can sense its presence just beneath the surface. It's beautiful," he breathed. "I can hear music. Its faint but it's definitely there."

"Daniel." Jack's warning tones rang out. "You can put it down now if you want."

"No, Jack, just a bit longer."

The others watched as Daniel appeared to relax, softly humming what was apparently a familiar tune to him.

He smiled, "I remember this," he whispered.

Jack sensed something was wrong as Daniel's normally animated face took on an almost sleep-like state whilst his fingers danced over the surface of the crystal. "You said this was safe, Carter."

"Yes sir," she replied, "but perhaps he's handled it enough now." Abandoning her test results she stared intently at Daniel's perspiring face and holding the colonel's stare, said, "Okay, Daniel, that's enough for today."

Nodding and moving towards his dazed friend, Jack spoke in soft tones. "What's say I take that and put it down for you?" Reaching out his hand in an attempt to relieve Daniel of the crystal, he swore as a blue bolt of electricity arced out from the stone and threw him across the room.

"Shit!" Gingerly picking himself up off the floor, he growled, "Safe, my ass, Carter! Get a security team here now." Striding towards Daniel, and angrily pushing past her, he snapped, "Now, Major."

Jack made a grab for Daniel's arm, but stopped in horror as a bright searing light shot out from the crystal, enveloping his friend's body completely. The light appeared to have a life of its own, sending tendrils swirling around the room before finally collapsing back on itself.

"Crap!" Captivated and frozen with shock, Jack stared as Daniel stood trapped in his own light show. In a last minute effort to save his friend, Jack lurched forward and threw his arms around Daniel's torso, screaming with the unexpected pain it caused him. Writhing in agony, he felt Daniel's body slide from his grasp. "Shit," he moaned. "What the hell is happening here?"

The bright light immersed the men, turning a brilliant luminescent blue before shimmering and disappearing completely. Groaning, his nerve ends on fire, Jack struggled to catch his breath. Trying to lighten his grip on Daniel's squirming body, he looked into a pair of terrified blue eyes. "Daniel?" It took Jack's confused mind a few moments to realize that the hand his was holding on to was that of a small boy. Appearing traumatized and showing no recognition, Daniel snatched back his hand and held it tightly to his chest.

"Get a medical team in here, Carter." Jack whispered, never taking his gaze from the frightened child crouched on the floor. "Hey there, come on, take my hand." Smiling, and reaching out, Jack pulled the reluctant child close to his chest. "I'm Jack, and you are?"

…………………………………………………….

The lights in the infirmary were purposely dimmed, and the small crowd was subdued as they waited for Doctor Janet Frasier to deliver her findings. "Well, preliminary tests show that the child is Daniel Jackson. I won't have a full genetic profile for a few days but the results we have thus far are all positive."

Jack looked at Daniel's small body dwarfed in the full size bed. Hands in pockets, and listening to the monitor's steady beep; he heaved a great sigh. "So, anyone want to tell me what's going on here?"

Sam shook her head. "Sorry, sir, it doesn't seem possible."

"I cannot." Teal'c looked contemplative while General Hammond remained silent.

"No." Jack sighed," I thought not. He's healthy though, isn't he, Doc?"

"Yes, Colonel, Daniel appears to be a healthy five year old boy, at least physically. He was obviously very frightened when he came in, so I gave him a mild sedative to help calm him." Pocketing her thermometer and studying his chart, Janet added, "Lets just let him sleep for a while."

"So, `til then we do what?" Jack`s stare never wavered from the sleeping little boy. "Does he know who he is? Does he know where he is?"

"I'm sorry, sir, "Janet replied, reaching down to smooth out a crease in Daniel's blanket, "we won't know until he wakes."

Sam ran a hand over her face, looking as though the weight of the day's events were wearing her down. "I'm going to head back to the lab and look over the data we previously recorded, sir," she shrugged, "maybe there was something we missed, but I doubt it."

"You do that, Carter."

Sam turned and walked out the infirmary, glancing back briefly at Jack. Jack knew she felt somewhat responsible for what had happened to Daniel. Problem was, he was finding it difficult no to apportion blame.

…………………………………………………………………

The mother was everywhere and nowhere. Her physical form no longer existed and her essence was spread across time and space, and still she called. The others had long since stopped trying to console her, sure that they had steered her from her grief. They were wrong. The tears that she had sent forth many millennia ago had wandered the stars, quietly singing, never wavering in their tune. Now one sung louder than the rest and the mother cried, she opened her mind and collected the tear in an emotional embrace, and the tear sung even louder.

The mother gathered her essence, and with the tear to guide her, she started on her way. She had waited for longer than most civilizations on the worlds below had existed and now her child was found and her journey would soon be over.

…………………………………………………….

Tired blue eyes peeked out from beneath long blonde lashes and gazed around the dimly lit room.

"Hey," said a hushed voiced to his right. He turned in the direction of the voice and was met by soft brown eyes in an unfamiliar face.

He watched as the man reached forward to grab at a small object by his side, pressing the top, and putting the object back down.

"He's awake, Doc," the man whispered, as a second person joined him.

"Hello, Daniel." This voice also made no sense to him, and he closed his eyes tightly and turned away from it.

"I don't think he can understand us, Doc." The second person, a woman, moved around the bed and bent down to address him at eye level.

"Daniel, my name is Janet. Can you understand what I'm saying?" She reached out to place her hand on his arm, but he quickly pulled it away and tucked it under the covers. Frightened, his small body quivered from the fear of the unknown. What was this place, who were these people, and where was his mother?

"It's okay, Daniel," she whispered close to his ear. "You're safe. Jack's here." She motioned for the Colonel to come closer. "You remember Jack?" As much as she tried to reassure him, Daniel pulled away, sinking further in to the bed, trying to make himself as small as possible. Soon his body felt heavy and relaxed, and his eyes, so desperately fighting to stay open, closed involuntarily.

"Mater," he whimpered sadly, as sleep took him completely.

……………………………………………………………..

"Mater? Did you hear that, sir?"

Jack, his face showing the strain of the day's events, nodded and replied, "It's Latin. It means mother."

"You know Latin?" Janet couldn't help the surprise creeping into her voice,

"Left over from the time Teal'c and I went time looping."

"And mother was one of the words that Daniel taught you?" Janet held forth two Tylenol and a glass of water. "Here. Take these," she urged, "I know you have a headache."

Smiling his thanks, Jack took the pills and water. "Oh, Doc," he whispered, "you'd be surprised at some of the stuff Daniel taught us back then."

"Oh yes, I'm sure I would be."

Rolling his shoulder, Jack lowered his voice, and replied, "I'd be more worried about who he was calling mother." ………………………………………………….

The mother was close now. The galaxy before her was beautiful and its ever expanding and spiraling arms were reaching out to embrace her. She danced amongst the stars and let herself drift on the solar winds as they guided her ever closer. No one was here to stop her. No one could stop her. The hurt of an inhuman lifetime of loss would be too much for the others to comprehend. The bond between mother and child was simply too strong to break. She smiled and let the winds carry her ever closer.

…………………………………………………………

Jack carried Daniel to the VIP suite that was to be his home for the next while, his friend's small and unconscious form resting limply in Jack's arms, with his head pressed into his shoulder. Jack had insisted on moving him this way, hoping that the close contact would be a comfort to his now downsized and confused archaeologist.

Though still hooked to the IV, currently being carried aloft by Teal'c, and once again lightly sedated, Daniel had started to respond to the ministrations of his teammates. Unable to communicate in English, his friends had resorted to using the Ancient language database Daniel had constructed to hold simple conversations. The fact that Daniel was currently the only person on the planet who could actually speak the language, a remnant from his time as an ascended being, was not lost on Jack.

"Grab the door, would you, T?" O'Neill gestured towards the door, pausing to let the other man past. Teal'c let the door swing open and O'Neill walked in and placed the slumbering child on the bed.

"Doctor Frasier and Major Carter will be along momentarily, O'Neill. I believe they were checking over DanielJackson's DNA results," Teal'c whispered, closing the door quietly.

"Thanks, buddy." Jack turned his attention back to Daniel and reached forward to brush a stray lock of blonde hair from the boy's face.

"You do not believe that this situation can be resolved, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked, standing in place at the end of the bed.

"I don't know, T. We've contacted the Asgard and the Tok'ra and drawn blanks there. Carter has come up with nothing. So, divine intervention aside, I don't see what we can do to fix this."

"Divine Intervention?" Teal'c questioned, raising one eyebrow.

"Act of God, T, act of God. Don't think that's going to happen this time, buddy." Jack rose and moved around the opposite side of the bed and, unlacing his boots, curled up on the bed next to Daniel.

"Do you think that's a good idea, sir?" Sam commented as she and Janet made their way into the room.

"Don't know, Carter, but if he's stuck this way then we have to get some trust and bonding going sometime."

Janet took over the seat Jack had previously occupied and opened up the folder she had been carrying. "We have Daniel's DNA results back and he is Daniel Jackson. He still has the same slight changes in his genetic profile that we noted when we conducted a DNA study after he descended but-"

"But? There's always a but, isn't there?" Jack snapped, and then quickly looked down, hoping his brief outburst hadn't woken Daniel up.

"Well, Colonel, the PET scan picked up a marked increase in the electrical activity in his brain, similar to the increase we saw in you when you had the repository of knowledge downloaded into your mind."

"You think that crystal thing downloaded something into him?" he asked, covering Daniel with a blanket.

"I don't know, sir, it could explain the fact that he can only communicate in Ancient, but not the regression in physical age."

"So where does this leave us, Janet?" Sam asked.

"I'm not sure, Sam. Back at the start, I guess. We have a physically healthy five-year-old Daniel Jackson who can't speak English, but can speak Ancient. The fact that he is Earth's only fluent speaker of the language, and now can't even help himself, is going to make communication an issue. He keeps asking for his mother, but given that he's speaking in Ancient, we can't really be sure if he is referring to his biological mother or someone else. I'd say we have a steep learning curve ahead of us, made even more difficult by the highly sensitive issues surrounding the Stargate Project."

"Yup, back at the start," Jack grumbled.

……………………………………………………….

She was aware of another now. She was so close and there was nothing for them to gain by stopping her. Gazing fondly at the bright blue and white planet below, she knew her journey was almost over. So close, she was so close.

"You can not go to him, Tarhin." The voice spoke softly in her mind and she tried her best to push it away, to ignore it, but she could not.

"He is mine to love, Oma. I have searched for as long as I have been amongst the ascended."

"To love, yes. To have, no." Oma reached out to Tarhin with her mind, showing her scenes of a man well loved by his friends and family. A man who traveled to many worlds and brought peace and friendship to countless peoples. A man of words and history, of friendship and love, of pain and fear.

Oma felt Tarhin's anguish, and it was an emotion she knew well herself. She had watched this particular human for many years and had guided him in his own ascension, and grieved for him when the others had banished him into exile, descending him into mortal form, stripped of everything including his memory. She was filled with pride as he found the life he had lost and fought to regain the memories that were once thought gone. Yes, she knew Tarhin's pain as if she knew her own.

"You knew when you chose to ascend, Tarhin, that like all of us you had to sever your mortal ties even when those that we loved most had also ascended. We all knew the sacrifices and we all chose to abide by them."

"What are rules if not to be broken?" Tarhin argued.

"What is learning if the lesson is never taught?" Oma countered.

"He was but a child when he passed."

"I know."

"He was all that I had left. He was all that we had left. The last child born before the exodus," Tarhin cried.

"I know."

"Have you never loved so unconditionally that rational thought is nothing but a concept and irrational behaviour is all that you know?" Tarhin reached out to caress the clouds of the world below.

"I have," Oma replied, swooping down to dissipate the storm that Tarhin had started.

"Why are you here, Oma?" Tarhin sighed, listening to the sweet song of her tear.

"To stop you, Tarhin."

"You believe that you can?"

"The others are watching. Were I to fail, they would succeed." Oma opened her mind to the thoughts of the others and shared them with Tarhin.

"I sent out tears."

"I know. Your tears failed," Oma swept forward with her mind and silenced the tear.

"He is no longer who he once was. The process was interrupted."

"He will be so again."

"He is my child," Tarhin pleaded, allowing her mind to drift down to the lower plains.

"He is," Oma responded.

"He will never know my love." Tarhin held the silenced tear close.

"He will know he was loved."

"Who will he call mother?"

"You."

"I won't remember."

"No."

With all her powers, Oma took the non-corporeal essence that was Tarhin and drew it within her, guarding the essence and surrounding it with love. Tarhin had known nothing but sorrow during her stay as an ascended being and now it was her time for peace. However, before Oma could set Tarhin free from her sorrow, she had to repair the damage that had been done to her son, and to do that would mean facing the truth.

…………………………………………………………

Daniel Jackson might be in the body of a five year old and only able to communicate in the language of the Ancients, but as far as Sam was concerned, all of his other traits were intact. She sat facing him on his bed in the VIP suite, locked in a battle of wits over his dinner tray whilst Janet, wearing her most battle ready doctor's face, sat in a chair next to the bed patiently disconnecting the IV in his arm.

The man, er…boy, was being anything but cooperative and the two women had almost had enough.

"Eat, Daniel," Sam lifted the spoon to her mouth and imitated the chewing action. Daniel, in return, just sat there and shook his head.

Janet, meanwhile, had resorted to putting a small ace bandage around his arm in an attempt to stop the boy from pulling the plaster off in a temper tantrum.

"This isn't working, Sam," Janet sighed, pursing her lips in concentration, trying to keep a firm grip on the resisting child. "No, Daniel!" she chided, as he once more ripped his arm away from her grasp and picked at the edge of the bandage.

"This would be much easier if he wasn't so cute."

Janet paused in her ministrations and looked up at the child. "You know your right, Sam; no matter what age he is, he's just gorgeous."

Sam coughed. "Gorgeous?" she squeaked. "It's a good thing he can't understand us." She leaned forward on the bed, peering straight into his tired blue eyes. "You can't understand us, right?" Frowning at his blank expression, she wasn't truly convinced that he couldn't.

"Everything all right here, Carter?" Jack asked, as he and Teal'c entered the room.

"Fine, sir," she muttered, "Daniel is just being a tiny bit difficult." Rising to her feet, she politely made way for the Colonel.

"Ah, so, situation normal then." Jack tossed a small set of pyjamas on the bed, and sitting next to the mutinous little boy, said, "Time we got you ready for bed, sport."

Daniel just stared.

"You know, sleep?" Jack put his hands to the side of his head as if he was trying to sleep.

Daniel just stared.

"Ego dormada." Daniel tried to stifle a yawn as he crawled back to the head of the bed and made himself comfortable, totally ignoring the pyjamas.

"I think he worked it out for himself, sir." Carter smiled, watching as her small friend turned and settled onto his side, closing his eyes.

"He's good like that, Carter," Jack replied, covering the slumbering child with a comforter.

…………………………………………………..

`UNAUTHORIZED OFF WORLD ACTIVATION REPEAT, UNAUTHORIZED OFF WORLD ACTIVATION."

"Who is it, Walter?" General George Hammond hurried down the stairwell into the control room. There were three SG teams off world at the present time and none of them was due to check in for hours. He watched the titanium iris slide closed before the wormhole connected.

"No IDC, yet, sir," Sergeant Walter Harriman replied, looking down at the Gate room below. Suddenly the iris retracted, revealing the shimmering halo of the wormhole event horizon, bathing the entire Gate room in a stunning blue haze.

Narrowing his eyes, the General turned to the hapless Sergeant and barked, "I didn't order the iris open!"

"No, sir! It wasn't us, sir! The iris was activated externally."

"What? Well, get it closed." The General reached for the PA system and, leaning into the microphone, said sharply. "Unidentified incoming traveller. All troops stand ready." The marines instantly sprang into action and took up a defensive position, bringing their weapons to bear on the open wormhole.

Without causing so much as a ripple to the event horizon, a swirling mass of iridescent white cloud drifted through the gate, tendrils of light whipping about the central body suspended above the ramp. Hammond, recognizing the form of an ascended being from previous encounters, immediately ordered all weapons to be lowered to the ground and the gate room cleared. "SG-1, to the embarkation room immediately."

…………………………………………….

Within moments SG-1, sans one, made their way through the double blast doors into the embarkation room and came to a full abrupt stop at the sight of what was clearly an ascended being.

"Oh boy," Carter muttered.

"I'm not going to like this, am I, Carter?"

"No, sir, probably not."

They watched in silence as the being gathered in its undulating tendrils and slowly coalesced into the form of a human female.

"Oma," Jack whispered.

"You recognise this person, O'Neill?" Teal'c enquired.

"Oh, yeah." He took a cautious step forward and spoke up. "You're the one that helped Daniel to ascend, right?"

"I am," she stated simply.

"So? What? You're just going to take him again?" Jack couldn't ignore the gnawing sense of dread that suddenly settled in the pit of his stomach.

"I am not."

"Then what?" Jack was putting all his effort into trying to contain his frustration at this point. Previous encounters with ascended Ancients had been less than informative and Jack could feel his patience slowly frittering away.

"I am here to help."

"Help?" Carter asked, clearly surprised.

"I thought you higher beings had rules about helping us `lesser beings'?" Jack commented sarcastically, pointing his finger sky ward. "Something about non- interference?"

"We do." Oma smiled, "I see now what it was that kept Daniel so tied to this existence. His inability to turn and leave, when a solution could be found with simple intervention, was one of the reasons the others had descended him to his natural form. I have found myself tested in the same way many times, but perhaps, not so boldly. It is a line that over thousands of years is becoming finer and finer and ultimately harder to ignore. The time may come when the ascended will have to break these rules, if not for the sake of the lower plains, then definitely for the higher. What are rules but a set of ideals endorsed by the minority for the subjugation of the many." She held Jack's gaze.

"What?" Jack spat out in total exasperation and total confusion. Whatever it was that Daniel had seen in this woman, Jack knew without doubt he was truly missing. "You said you're here to help. So help."

"Very well. Take me to Daniel Jackson."

Jack stepped aside and swept one hand towards the blast doors. "After you."

…………………………………………………………

 

Jack watched from his seat on the opposite side of the room as Oma stood beside Daniel's bed, gazing down at his sleeping form. Janet, who had been left with babysitting duties when SG-1 was ordered to the gate room, was still seated to one side, looking at the woman as if she was some lab experiment gone wrong.

"You must understand that what I am about to share with you is something that has never been done since the time the first of the others ascended. I know you will have questions I cannot answer. Protection of this timeline is paramount, so I will speak plainly and simply." A brief flicker of a smile crossed Oma's face. "Something that I am sure Daniel would find hard to believe." She reached out toward the child, her hand wavering and then dissolving into a tendril of misty light that reached down to brush through Daniel's mop of hair. "I have come to heal a loss that cannot be repaired and to repair a loss that cannot be returned." She stepped back; the tendril withdrew and slowly formed back into her hand.

"Many, many thousands of years ago, there was a small group of Lanteans that ventured out to establish a remote colony for the purposes of studying ascension through meditation. Most of the research that had been conducted on ascension up until that point had been theoretical and not widely accepted. Amongst the colony's population, there was a family group, Tarhin and her mate, Andos.

"Despite being housed inside a self-contained defensive bio dome, the colony lived a relatively simple life, far removed from that which they had previously enjoyed. Meditation and quiet contemplation was part of their daily life and slowly over time, many achieved the self-enlightenment that was required to reach ascension.

"Families thrived inside the cloister, many children were born, and thus the cycle of life and ascension continued. As time passed, Tarhin and Andos were blessed with a son, Deshal. Deshal was to be the last Lantean child born in the colony. A few short years after Deshal's birth the home of the Lanteans came under attack from a ruthless and prolific enemy and many in the colony wished to return to the home of their birth, to aid in its defence.

"Those that chose to remain sought to protect the colony and a portal was created that would ensure that not only could their enemy not breach the sanctuary, but also any Lantean that wished to achieve enlightenment could still enter. Once inside the sanctuary the only way to leave was by achieving ascension.

"Tarhin and her family were amongst those that chose to leave the colony and return to defend their first home. During the return journey, the transport that they were using was attacked and Andos died instantly. Deshal, a boy of only five, was mortally wounded but lived to return to the home of his parents. He died peacefully in his mother's arms a short time later. It is told that to ascend, you must release your burden, but what burden does a child have? Those few years of meditation and love saw Deshal ascend, rising from his mother's loving embrace to walk the higher plains. The youngest Lantean to ever do so.

"Deshal's existence on the higher plain was difficult. The others having lived full lives as mortals had willingly accepted the rules that came with being one of the ascended, but for Deshal, a small child when he shed his mortal form, this proved impossible. Several of the others tried to console the child, but his mind could not comprehend the vastness of the knowledge that surrounded him. He endured a loss and loneliness so profound, it knew no depth. The others, not wanting to descend the child, placed his essence into a long and healing sleep.

"This action was proved to be justified, as Tarhin's grief was slowly consuming her.

"The war with the enemy was long and hard and many lives were lost. Very few ascended during that time. Eventually, when it was feared their land would be overthrown, the Lanteans chose to leave and find another home amongst the stars. Many years later, Tarhin was able to release her burden of grief and ascend to the higher plain.

"Upon ascending, Tarhin called for her son, letting her essence spread amongst the stars, touching many worlds in her endless quest. The others warned her. It is against our rules to maintain our mortal bonds. Ascension is the act of achieving enlightenment and the gaining of knowledge through experiences. Still Tarhin called, and eventually the others ignored her calls safe in the knowledge that Deshal was protected.

"A great many millennia passed and it was decided that Deshal was to be descended. His essence could not remain suppressed and yet he could not be left to wander the higher plains for fear that Tarhin would find him. It was left to me to descend Deshal. So it was that he was gifted straight into the womb of his new biological mother, his memory stripped bare, ready to receive the experiences of a new mortal life.

"I have watched Daniel since his birth, never once showing my presence, and never once interfering in his mortal life. His ascension nearly cost me my own, as once again the others were left to hide his existence on the higher plain.

"His own life would have continued without ever knowing the truth of his real mother, but Tarhin was cunning. She sent out tears, the crystal that came into your possession was one of them. They are an Ancient device that was banned from use, because the power they wielded could not be contained and many were misused. I was not aware of Tarhin's tears until Daniel activated the one you had found. Tarhin had coded the tears with a song only his mind could hear. When Daniel held the tear, it should have sent him back to the age that he was when he ascended, and then of course it would have ascended him fully. I suspect the process was interrupted at some point. Tarhin was nearby waiting to reunite with her son and that was where I stepped in."

"So you're saying that Daniel was originally an Ancient who ascended, was then descended into Claire Jackson, then many years later ascended again, and then was once again descended only to wind up once again as an Ancient?" If ever there was a day Jack felt very confused, he had to admit that this was it.

"Yes, though it is more complicated than that," Oma replied

"This home of the Ancients that you spoke of, can you tell us where it is?" Sam sounded hopeful.

"I can not. As I stated earlier, you will have many questions I cannot answer. I have told you all I can in the hope that you will be able to help Daniel when he wakes."

"So I'm guessing at some point you can fix this height problem that Daniel's got? Jack said sarcastically.

"He will be as he was soon, and all I have shared with you will be known to him when he awakes. The truth can no longer be held back."

"I have to know," Janet asked. "Why did you let this Tarhin ascend in the first place? As I understood it, no one person can ascend on their own, and yet it appears, according to everything that you've just told us, that this is not the case."

"No lower being can ascend without the help of an ascended. Tarhin was Lantean, she did not require an ascended being to help her ascend."

"Lowers meaning us," Jack stated and Oma merely nodded in response.

Jack rose from his seat and moved over to Daniel's bed. Sitting on the edge, he placed a hand on his friend's small shoulder. "I think it's time you took care of this, so we can take care of him, don't you think." He turned his gaze away from Oma and held it steady on Daniel.

"If you would release your hand, I will return him to his natural form."

"Ah!" Jack stood and moved away from the bed.

Oma approached the sleeping child and held out her hands just above his body. As before, her human body wavered slightly and slowly dissolved, taking on her non-corporeal form with long tendrils that danced around the room. Daniel was at first bathed in the brilliant light that Oma's transformed body threw off but in the next instant, he was totally consumed.

Jack, Sam, Teal'c, and Janet could do nothing more than stand by and watch the amazing spectacle before them. Two bodies seemingly merging into one, throwing off a light that illuminated the entire room.

Slowly the glare that illuminated the room started to recede like a light dimming incrementally and soon, the only thing that they could see was the full sized but very naked form of Daniel Jackson still curled on his side on the bed. Without hesitation, Sam quickly moved to cover him with a blanket, while Janet took his pulse and put her stethoscope to his chest and listened.

"No Oma," Jack commented, looking around the room.

Teal'c cast a critical eye over his surroundings. "Perhaps the ascended do not need to be visible to move about in this realm."

"I need to get him properly checked out, but from what I can tell, he's fine." Janet announced. "Pulse is a little slow, but that could just be his body reacting to the changes it's gone through. My best guess is he's just sleeping."

"How are we going to deal with this when he wakes up, sir?" Sam asked.

"Not sure, Carter. I guess we wait and see how much Oma really left him with. In the meantime, I'm going to report to the General and I suggest everyone get some rest. It's been a hell of a day."

"I will stay, O'Neill." Teal'c took up the chair Jack had just vacated.

"You sure, T?"

"I am, O'Neill."

…………………………………………………….

Daniel stretched and became acutely aware that he was stiff and sore all over. If he hadn't known better, he would have sworn he'd gone one too many rounds with Teal'c in the gym. Opening his eyes, he tried to work out exactly where he was, and the slumbering form of one Jack O'Neill was the first thing that greeted him. One snoring Jack O'Neill.

"Okay, this isn't good." Jack, next to him, usually meant that something had gone wrong and he'd ended up in the infirmary again. Admittedly, since he'd descended, he'd managed to keep himself out of trouble. Mostly. Thus avoiding spending too much time in Janet's tender care.

VIP suite, he thought, taking note of the usual blue floral comforter set that decked out most of the suites on the base. Now how the heck did he end up here and why did he hurt so much?

"Jack?" he whispered, without getting a response.

"Jack?" This time he added a thump from well placed pillow at the other man's head to get his attention.

"Wha?" Jack snorted, and sitting up with a start, palmed his eyes with his hands. "Daniel?"

"Yeah. Wanna tell me what's going on?" Daniel struggled with the covers then pulled himself upright.

"You don't remember what happened?"

Daniel shook his head, frowning as glimpses of Sam's lab popped into his mind.

"We went to look at the crystal that Sam had in her lab?"

"And?" Jack urged.

"And," he paused mid sentence, "Oh, God!" Daniel slid his legs out of the bed and stumbled in the direction of the small en suite bathroom. Dropping to his knees, he retched violently, his memories and thoughts chaotic. Barely aware of the gentle hand that rubbed his back; Daniel closed his eyes and felt the room spin.

"Colonel?"

"In here, Doc," Jack replied, toeing the bathroom door open a fraction to let Janet know what was going on.

Peering around the half open door, she raised an eyebrow, and asked, "What happened?" Passing the Colonel a cool washcloth from the basin, she edged her way closer to her patient.

"Daniel got a present from Oma," Jack replied sourly, running cool water onto the cloth and leaving it on the shivering man's neck. "Think you're finished there, buddy?"

Daniel nodded and tried to stand. "Easy now," Jack whispered "Can you make it back to your bed? Doc's here to check you over."

"Yeah."

Jack guided Daniel back to his bed, and helped him to lie down, handing him a glass of water.

"No," Daniel said, his face pale, "I don't want it." He reached out and pushed the glass away.

"It's either drink the water, or I'll be forced to start another IV, Daniel, the choice is yours." Janet finally managed to insinuate herself closer to her patient, and taking the glass from Jack, pushed it into Daniel's hand. "Here, drink! I mean it." She held out the glass to him and this time he took it.

Reluctantly stepping away to give Janet room, Jack took up his spot on the chair next to the bed. "I know it's hard, Daniel, but we need you to tell us what you remember."

Daniel looked up, a flicker of anger registering in his eyes. "I'm sick of having my memories tampered with! It's not enough I'm still struggling from being ascended, and now it appears that I have a whole new set. Only it's not like a memory, is it? It's more an awareness of, of…" He stopped, swallowing as his stomach churned rebelliously. "Another set of events. God, this can't be happening." He ground the heel of his right hand to his head trying to push the information away.

Jack looked at Janet, and with a slow shrug, added, "She was here, Daniel."

"Who was here?" Daniel asked, his gaze shifting between Jack and Janet. "Oma?"

Jack nodded and straightening up, he said. "She planted the information you now have in your mind and she told us the complete story. Well, as complete as we're going to get from an ascended Ancient. You need to know, Daniel. You need to know what happened after you touched the crystal. Do you think you can listen to this?"

Daniel nodded his head wearily, his body exhausted, but his mind in utter turmoil. "Do I have a choice?"

"No," Jack responded sympathetically, "Not this time."

…………………………………………………….

"Hey, sir," Sam greeted Jack and made her way into Daniel's VIP suite, and sat down on the edge of his bed, gazing fondly at her slumbering team mate.

"Carter."

"How is he?"

"He knows. He found their little deception almost the moment he woke up. It wasn't pretty."

"Must have been rough."

"Yeah. I told him what Oma told us." Jack reached across and pulled the comforter up a bit higher to cover Daniel's shoulders. "Doc just gave him a sedative. Let him rest for a while."

Sam looked down at her friend's peaceful face and smiled. "Janet was right," she muttered under her breath.

"What was that, Carter?" Jack asked.

"Nothing, sir, nothing at all."

……………………………………………………….

The blinding flash of lightning tracked downwards from the heavens in a graceful arc, illuminating the surrounding area as it kissed the ground in the middle of the village square. When the glow had died and the dawn sky once again took on its red hue, the villagers found not destruction, but a naked woman, her face full of fear and confusion.

"Who are you?" one of the villagers asked, daring to approach the woman.

"I don't know."

………………………………………………………….

The End