Adrift

He went from sleeping to waking in the blink of an eye. He didn't move and didn't bother looking around, feeling too tired and too comfortable. He was aware that his surroundings didn�t feel familiar, though. The bed was airy and soft beneath him, the coverings light and warm. Somehow he�d expected a hard, thin mattress and scratchy blankets.

There were soft beeps and hums that didn�t quite muffle an underlying deep thrum that vibrated straight into his bones. It was familiar, and yet, wasn�t.

He heard a low moan to his right and finally, curiosity got the better of him. He opened his eyes and looked around. He was in a large, white, sterile room with beds along the walls. There were banks of machines around the beds, nothing that he could identify, though. He squinted, the rapidly blinking displays making it hard to focus.

Another soft moan caught his attention and he turned towards the sound. An attractive blond was lying on a bed a few feet away from him, apparently just waking up She rubbed her eyes, then dropped her hand heavily back onto the bed.

A tall man dressed in beige came over and spoke to her. She nodded after a moment, and he fiddled with some buttons on a keypad beside her. Then he turned to a console and handed her a glass of water.

Seeing her drink made him realize that he was thirsty. He licked dry lips, and at that moment, the man in beige turned to look at him. The man smiled as he walked over. He had large, wide set brown eyes and a pushed-in nose.

"Are you in any discomfort? Any pain?" the stranger asked, speaking with an odd accent as he scanned the readouts around the bed.

He thought about it a moment, assessing his body. He felt tired, his head felt fuzzy and he had a bit of a headache, and he also had some trouble putting thoughts together. But no, he wasn't experiencing any pain other than his headache.

"No, I'm not. But I wouldn�t mind some of that water," he added. The woman was staring at him and he turned his head to look at the featureless ceiling.

"Of course." A glass was handed to him and he noted the short, beige fur covering the hand that held it. Not hair, fur, which contrasted with his own pale, nearly-smooth skin. He took the glass from the long, slender fingers and greedily gulped the water down, surprised at how weak and shaky he felt.

"What happened? Where am I?" he asked, handing back the empty glass and settling among the pillows, seeing now that the man's face was also covered in fine fur. He rubbed a hand across his cheek, noting stubble in certain spots, smooth skin in others. He turned to look back at the woman. She didn't appear to have any fur growing anywhere.

"You�re on our ship," the man answered. "Please, forgive me." He looked back at the woman, including her in his apology. "My name is Keyon. I am Chief Medic here."

"Keyon�" Damn, he had no idea of his own name. Or where he was. He shook his head. "I don't remember my name." His headache suddenly escalated with his discovery, and he tensed to hold the panic at bay.

"Neither do I," the woman added.

"Please, do not be alarmed, it is a normal side effect of one of our medical procedures. Your memories will return completely in a short time. We found your ship adrift in space. It had been damaged, and life support had failed. When we found you, all of your body functions had ceased. A short while longer and my medical facilities would have been unable to revive you."

"You rescued us?" the woman asked. "The three of us?"

"Three?" He knew his brain was a little slow, but he only saw two of them lying here, him and the blond.

The medic�s gaze flitted past him, to his left. He turned his head and was surprised to see another person lying in a bed, apparently asleep or unconscious. A clear plastic-like band surrounded the man�s chest, another fit over his face, covering his mouth and nose. Muted lights decorated the plastic bands, like a display setting of sorts. This man wasn't sporting any fur, so he was obviously of the same race as himself and the woman. But his face was very pale, his lips tinged with blue. Wires and tubes were attached to his leg, snaking in beneath the blanket.

Somehow he knew that the man was being supplied oxygen through the plastic band over his face, and that fluids and medication were being pumped into the tubes attached to his leg. Maybe the thing over his chest was monitoring his heart and other vital signs. But everything seemed off, like they didn�t fit right. Like there should be more wires and stuff, not this clean, uncluttered, way too neat area around the beds. And the air wasn�t right; there was something in it he couldn�t quite identify, and something missing� the sharp telltale smell of antiseptics.

"This one was severely wounded," Keyon explained, moving over to the third bed. "He experienced exsanguinations and is not responding well to the volumizing fluids we are providing. It must be supplemented with more of his own kind for it to be effective. As our blood supply is not compatible with yours, I do ask your permission to retrieve some of your own life giving blood in order to treat him."

"Our blood won't do him any good if we're not the same types," the woman said as she raised herself on her elbow to look at the third patient. "But how do I know that when I don't even know my own name?"

For that matter, what she said made sense. His head was whirling with questions, but he was too tired to even try and form them into sentences. He nodded his permission for the blood taking and settled for lying back and listening to the medic talk.

"Making your blood types compatible with his is not a hardship," Keyon said as he pulled the blanket aside, baring his leg. "But I can only give him small amounts of the blood prepared in this manner. Too much would be harmful." The medic's hands were warm and soft on his skin. He felt a pinprick on the inside of his leg, above his ankle. He craned his head and saw the red fluid flowing down a tube into a small, clear bag. "We have healed the worst of his injuries, but he remains weak. As I said, he died due to extreme blood loss, but the circumstances in the ship were perfect for preserving his body. For preserving all of your bodies, for that matter."

Preserving all of our bodies? What the hell� "Wait, *we* all died? I died?" It wasn't bad enough that he had no idea who he or who any of these people were, but couldn't this guy just give them all the information at once instead of these little irritating snippets?

"Did I not mention that? I apologize once again. Your ship's life support failed. This one� bled to death, the remaining three crewmates died from lack of oxygen. But the cold of outer space preserved your bodies long enough that we were able to resuscitate you before your bodies had deteriorated to the point of no return. Your loss of memory, as I know I mentioned before, is simply due to the procedure when�"

"He died from blood loss and three of us died from asphyxiation?" the woman interrupted, asking what had been on the tip of his tongue before he could voice the question. "But there are only three of us in here. Where's the fourth?"

"Oh, yes, of course. He is in suspension. We were not certain if he was a friend or an enemy. You see, we have heard of these particular parasites which inhabit your galaxy. We deemed it a precaution on our part to separate him from you. He is a very interesting specimen, and�"

He closed his eyes and ignored the man's prattling. He'd died, and somehow he should feel shocked at the news, but instead he felt numb. Parasites? Friends, enemies, strangers? His exhaustion wore him down and despite all the unanswered questions, he felt himself drifting towards sleep. The droning voice soon faded, and he allowed himself to sleep.

- - - - - -

"What is this stuff?" he asked with a grimace, looking at the pile of yellow, gooey, short, curved noodles on the plate before him. He glanced at the woman sitting in the bed next to him, who was looking at her own similar meal with apprehension.

"It is from your supplies," Keyon said. "I thought perhaps if you were to eat your own food, it might help the process of triggering your memories."

He took a forkful of the stuff and teased off a few morsels, chewing thoughtfully. Cheese, and� something. Not bad. He swallowed and ate some more. He noted that the woman appeared to enjoy the food also.

He'd taken a good look at himself in a mirror earlier, hoping that seeing his face might help him to remember. What he'd seen was an aging, craggy face, silver hair, brown eyes� in effect, a stranger. If his own face couldn't help him remember, how would food manage that? Still, it was good stuff, tasty and comforting.

"Keyon," the woman said after a time, "you said you found our ship adrift. What happened to it?"

"Oh, it is in our hangar bay. Our technicians have been attempting to repair it. Indeed, it has been a thrill and a challenge for them to work with alien technology."

"Can I go and see the damage? Maybe I can help."

"Ah, I am pleased to see our guests up and about," a voice said from the entrance. A tall man entered the medical area, smiling widely at them.

"I am pleased to introduce our Captain, Alden," Keyon said.

Alden inclined his head as he stopped between the beds. "I have just come from your ship," he said. "The repairs are going well, and my technicians are confident that they'll be able to have her fully functional in a few cycles."

"That�s great. But how is it gonna help us if we don't remember where we were going or where we live?" He pushed his empty plate aside and sipped at some water.

"Please, your memory will return," Keyon said. "It will take a bit of time, when you are stronger."

"What happened to the ship so that it was damaged?" the woman asked.

"An explosion. Which we assume was the cause of your friend's injuries," Alden said, looking towards the still-unconscious man. At least whatever Keyon had done to him with their blood appeared to have helped. The man wasn't quite so pale and his lips were pinkish, no longer blue.

"What caused the explosion?" the woman asked.

"It is unknown at this time. I am sure when your memories return, your questions will all be answered. I, myself, am anxious to hear your story."

"But you haven't answered mine," she continued. "Can I go see the ship?"

"Of course, if our medic deems you strong enough, Captain," Alden replied with a smile.

"Why did you call me Captain?" she asked. He frowned, wondering the same thing. Somehow hearing the rank irked him, for some unknown reason.

"I assume you must be the ship's captain, you show a keen interest in her condition," Alden replied.

So just because he had no burning desire to go visit a ship's engine room or figure out how badly she'd been damaged meant he wasn't her captain? That made no sense. Instead, he'd rather know who these aliens were. For all he knew, they were the ones responsible for blowing up the ship and had taken him and the rest of the crew prisoners. Or, maybe the woman was simply an engineer and her innate sense of interest in her work was coming out. He couldn't help himself, and the words slipped out in a sarcastic jibe.

"Not especially, she might be one of those scientist types who just likes to work with engines."

// I like women, I just have a little problem with scientists. //

Whoa, where did that come from? A memory of this same blond, dressed in a blue uniform, eyes snapping, oozing confidence as she looked across a table at him, assured him that they really did know one another.

"Of course they may go visit their ship," Keyon said. "Just don't keep them too long. They're still not quite recovered and require rest."

The woman got up eagerly and he followed a little more slowly, feeling reluctant about leaving the other guy alone. As he put his boots on, he glanced back at the bed beside his and figured the man wouldn't be waking anytime soon.

He walked behind the two, noting that the blond was tall and slim, and somehow he knew she was taller than most average women of his world. He had also noticed that both he and the injured man were wearing clothing similar to Keyon and Alden's. Soft beige pants and shirt which caressed his skin, whereas the woman was wearing a black tee shirt and splotched greenish pants.

His legs were shaky but by the time they'd walked down the ship's corridor, he was feeling a little better. He looked around curiously, noting that all the crew on this ship were furred.

From what he could tell, this ship was enormous. Alden proudly stopped at a window and from that particular angle, the ship appeared to stretch close to a half mile before them. Okay, he was impressed. He had kind of wondered what kind of ship they'd traveled in, obviously it wouldn't be anything even similar to this one if it was sitting in their hangar bay. He smiled at the image of him sitting behind the controls of a sleek, fast jet, then shook his head, recognizing that the type of aircraft that had come to mind certainly wouldn't fly in outer space.

After several twists and turns and two elevators and a shuttle, they found themselves in an immense hangar bay. He immediately knew which ship was theirs. Its triangular shape stood out like a sore thumb among the more aerodynamic vehicles parked around it. With a sigh, and an embarrassed shrug at Alden, he followed the woman inside.

Dark and sparse, he wondered how the hell they had managed to live inside this thing. The damage from the explosion was evident in the control room, even though the surviving machinery had been taken apart by the technicians. The walls were darkened and gouged, and bits of debris still littered the far corner of the room.

As the woman immediately went to join the two technicians who had greeted them, he called out. "Hey." She turned to look at him. "See if you can figure out what caused the explosion." When she continued staring at him, he shrugged, "Wouldn't want it to happen again, would we?" She nodded after a moment, and knelt beside one of the open panels, discussing the damage with the alien working there. As he himself had no urge to do so, he wandered around, trying to see if anything felt familiar.

A small crack in the ship's ceiling showed how they had lost their oxygen. He left them alone and wandered into the other rooms. As he stepped into a smallish room that was littered with various colored lengths of crystals, he froze.

Goose bumps flitted over his arms and he rubbed them away. He looked at the ground, expecting to see something there. But it was clean, the marble flooring pristine and shiny. Too shiny, he thought after a moment when he compared it with the outside hallway. There had been something here that had required cleaning, and he had the haunting feeling that it had been the blood that had once coursed through the body of the man now lying in the ship's medical facilities.

- - - - - -

He leaned against the bulkhead, hands in pockets, watching them work. When Alden joined him, he said, "I haven't thanked you for saving our lives."

"Please, don't mention it. It's the least we could do, and our encounter with you has enriched our lives. We hope to learn more from you, just the language we speak, for example, has enriched our libraries."

"How'd you learn to speak English?"

"Your books." Alden waved at several books neatly piled in a corner. With a frown, he left the Captain and picked up the top two. One was about ancient Babylon, the other about some ancient dead language.

"You taught yourselves to read?" he asked, stupefied.

Alden laughed. "No, we scanned the information into our computer, and we were lucky enough to have an oral recording of it. He walked over to some other equipment and picked up a small device. Pressing a button, a man's voice, speaking so quickly the words nearly tripped over themselves in his excitement, came out of the speaker.

"� unbelievable find. It's fourteenth Century, possibly thirteenth. Note to check against� damn, it's hockey night. Wonder if Jack might notice if I asked Sam to take my--"

"We assume this is your friend's voice," Alden said, clicking it off and placing the tape recorder back onto the pile of equipment. "It was found in his pant's pocket, and his words, along with the books, enabled the computer to teach some of us your language."

"Downloaded it into your brain?" he said jokingly.

"Exactly," Alden replied seriously.

The woman had stopped working and was staring at them. She met his gaze, and he shrugged, confused.

"Unfortunately, the language on the ship's console is not the same as the one you speak. The computer has deciphered a small portion, but not enough for us to fluently speak or read."

Alden pointed out the strange drawings which were supposed to be a language. He looked at them, and shook his head. "Nope, doesn't ring a bell."

"It sorta looks familiar," the woman said. "But at this point I couldn't tell you what any of it means."

"Another obstacle is that our technology is not easily adapted to yours," the Captain said. But we are working on it. Come, I should return you to Keyon before he sends someone in search of you. Otherwise he will make my next mandatory physical examination one of torture."

// Napoleanic power monger. //

He shook his head, the images of a petite, brown haired, brown eyed woman looking at him with concern flitted through his mind.

"I wonder who Jack and Sam are," the woman asked as she got up to join him.

He shrugged. "One of them could be me, both are guys' names." Or the other guy� Alden," he said, "what about our fourth? Can we see him?"

"Of course. He is in the medical bay."

Alden led them back to the infirmary, past where their third still lay unconscious, to a closed door at the end of a long hallway. The Captain pressed a button and the door turned from opaque to translucent. A large, black man with a tattoo on his forehead could be seen sleeping on a small bed. His eyes were closed, his face serene. As with their other colleague, clear plastic strips with flickering lights in their depths could be seen along the man's forehead, chest and abdomen.

"Look familiar?" he asked the woman. She shook her head.

"What's wrong with him?" he asked Alden.

"He is in suspension. We will not awaken him until proper precautions have been taken. Do not alarm yourselves, he is no danger to anyone at the moment."

// It can only accomplish its work if you put your body into a state of kelno'reem. //

Strangely, he saw his own image speaking the words, but knew they really came from the large man sleeping before them.

"I don't think he's an enemy," the woman said softly, echoing his sentiments.

"And you say he's a parasite?" he asked, looking at the still figure.

"No, he carries one in a womb." Alden placed a hand on his abdomen to indicate the placement. "Do not worry, the beast is also in suspension, and is no threat."

Disgust threaded through him, but he realized that the big man's earlier words somehow related to this parasite. This� symbiote. Now why was he remembering these weird names, and not his own?

"She's right, he's not a danger," he said after a moment, motioning to the prisoner. "Can't you wake him?"

"I would prefer not to. I hope you will forgive me if I do not release him until your memories have fully returned? I understand how disorienting it must be at the moment, and how you only perceive your recollections in small parts. This will resolve itself soon. Trust me, it shall not be long before your memories return."

They began walking back the way they had come, fatigue dragging their feet, the woman looking pale and wan beside him. It was with relief that they returned to the medical area and to their beds.

A pile of neatly folded clothes sat on the foot of his bed. He fingered them, noting that there was a tee shirt and two pairs of pants similar to what the woman was wearing.

"We washed your clothes," Keyon said as he sat on his bed to untie his boots. "They were soaked with his blood," he explained, taking the clothing and placing it on a table near the bed before leaving them to their rest.

His fingers were clumsy as he continued to fight with the laces. He hated this not remembering, hated the tiredness and the lethargy. He'd done nothing today, the woman had been in and around the broken machinery. He figured if he was tired, she must be exhausted. Finally he managed to kick his boots off and as he turned to lie down, he saw that the man next to him was awake.

Impossibly blue eyes were watching him. He smiled at the stranger and politely said, "Hello."

"Please, I'm cold."

He could barely hear the faint voice and he turned for Keyon, but the medic had left the room and there was no one around. The woman was already under the covers, her back turned to him. Grabbing the top blanket from his own bed, he got up to spread it over the injured man.

The memory hit him so hard, he reeled.

// "Please Jack, I'm cold."

"I know, hold on, Danny." He quickly shed his jacket before carefully pulling his friend up into his arms, away from the cold marble floor. Daniel moaned at the movement, and he knew he was causing his friend pain. "Sorry," he murmured as he tucked Daniel's head against his shoulder. He grabbed his discarded jacket and wrapped it around his friend's trembling torso.

He shivered, the quickly cooling air in the engine room sending goose bumps along his spine and bare arms. Daniel's chest and abdomen was soaked with blood, and the damp, clammy material was cold as it began to saturate his own clothing. But as Daniel lay against him, the fresh, hot spurts of blood flowing from Daniel's torn abdomen and thigh quickly drenched Jack's clothing, warming him despite the cold air in the room.

Jack could feel his friend's blood running down his own chest and abdomen. It pooled on the floor around them, and he knew without a doubt that Daniel's injuries were fatal. They'd tried to stem the bleeding, but an artery had been severed. It was only a matter of minutes now.

"Shau're's angry� I missed dinner," Daniel murmured.

"Shhh, it's all right. I'll talk to her, she'll understand," he whispered into his best friend's hair.

"S'cold, is it night?"

"Yep. Sun's already set," Jack lied.

"Shleepy."

"It's okay, Daniel. You can go to sleep. I've got you. You can let go." Jack forced the words out with a tightening throat.

"Th�ns." Daniel's slurred thanks faded as he lapsed into unconsciousness. Jack buried his face against his friend's shoulder, knowing he'd never wake again. Jack suspected he and the others would be following Daniel down that same path in a very short time. It was growing colder by the minute, getting harder and harder to breathe. //

"Are you all right?"

The softly spoken words broke Jack out of his trance and he met the other man�s concerned gaze. "Sorry, yeah. Flashback," he said as he quickly placed the blanket over the man's body. He was shaking with the aftermath of his memories, his throat still tight at the remembrance of his friend's death. His friend. Daniel. Who was lying in a bed right here beside him. Alive.

"Better?"

Daniel nodded. "Thank you."

"Remember anything?" Jack prompted, feeling strangely euphoric after the flashback. He smiled, he was Jack. Friend of Daniel. Daniel, who was miraculously alive!

Daniel's brow furrowed into a frown, followed soon after by a quick shake of his head. Jack quickly glanced at the woman who still had her back to them. He couldn�t tell if she was asleep, but he'd wanted to let her know that yes, their memories would return.

"It's okay, seems like we're all suffering temporary amnesia due to some kind of medical process. Your name's Daniel, mine's Jack. Give it some time, it'll start coming back soon. Want some water?" he asked, remembering how thirsty he'd felt when he'd woken up. At Daniel's tentative nod, he went to the small sink near the beds and returned with some water. He helped Daniel sit up, careful of the wires and plastic material surrounding his friend, and held the glass while the man drank most of it down.

Daniel was tiring fast and Jack tucked the blankets around him. "Got to sleep," he said. "I know you probably don't remember, but we're friends." Jack's earlier fatigue had fled upon his remembering Daniel, but it now came back full vengeance. "I'll be right here." He clambered into his bed, seeing Daniel following his movements with heavy drooping eyelids. "Sleeping," he added as he pulled the blankets over his shoulders. Daniel closed his eyes, and Jack followed suit.

- - - - - -

"You'll be pleased to know that our technicians have finally managed to find a way to merge our technology with yours," Alden said as he leaned against the pristine white wall, watching them eat their breakfast. He glanced first at Jack, before turning his attention back to the woman, who was quickly chewing her food, obviously anxious to get into a discussion about the repairs. Daniel had refused to eat, but was awake and was listening to the conversation.

"We've also managed to synthesize those damaged crystals, Captain, the ones that control life support."

"She's a Major, not a Captain," Jack snapped, irritated at the constant use of the honorific. Suddenly everything snapped into place; he knew who he was and he finally *knew* these people. His team. His family.

"I beg your pardon?"

"She's not the captain of the ship, Captain," Jack said, stressing the man's title, "there isn't one. She's a Major of the United States Air Force. Major Samantha Carter."

"Sir!" Carter somehow managed to sit up straight despite the tray on her lap. Jack was glad to see that his words seemed to trigger some trickle of memory on her part.

"And you are�?" Alden asked, his tone polite despite Jack's earlier sarcasm.

"Colonel Jack O'Neill, in command of SG-1. This is Doctor Daniel Jackson, and the Jaffa sleeping in that room over there is Teal'c."

" Jaffa ?" Daniel's voice, although still weak, carried easily to Jack.

"He's not from Earth, Daniel," Jack said gently. "He's got a Goa'uld larva inside him. Give it a little while, I'm sure you'll remember Junior with as much affection as I do."

The injured man shook his head weakly to indicate he still had no recollection.

"Don't force it," Jack advised. "It all came back just a second ago, and Alden did say our memories would come back once we were feeling stronger. You have a little ways to go yet."

Daniel had improved considerably overnight; his color was better and he seemed stronger, although from the way he was moving, Jack suspected he was in pain and wouldn't admit to it.

"Sir, how much do you remember?" Carter asked as she pushed the remains of her breakfast away and stood up.

"I know who I am, Carter, and who we are, but I don't remember what we were doing on that ship or much of what happened to get us here. You?"

She raised her eyebrows, smiling. "I know you and Daniel. And Teal'c. But I don't remember what happened with the ship. I know it's a tel'tak, but why we were in it and what our mission was is still a blank."

"You're military," Daniel said in a panicky voice. "What am I doing in the military?"

"Easy, Danny," Jack said as he threw his legs over the edge of the bed and leaned across the space separating the two.

"I know I'm not a soldier� why can I remember that and not remember who I am?"

"You're a civilian consultant, and you've been on our team for five years now. Please, don't worry about it. Just relax and concentrate on getting stronger. I promise you, it's not as bad as what you're thinking right now."

Daniel shifted under the blankets, the plastic bands on his chest moving easily as the man repositioned himself. Keyon had removed the oxygen thingie overnight. Jack thought Daniel stifled a gasp, and his face seemed to pale after a moment. He stilled, his breathing coming a little faster than before.

Carter came to join them and she picked up Daniel's hand. Jack saw Daniel stare at their clasped hands a moment before he returned his gaze to her face.

"I know how disorienting it is to not remember, Daniel, but believe me, you're not alone here. You're with friends." She smiled at him before letting go of Daniel's hand. "Are you okay?" she asked when Daniel seemed to wince.

"I'm fine. Maybe a little tired."

"Try and get some sleep," Jack suggested.

Carter glanced at the Colonel. "I hope Teal'c's not too upset with being kept asleep."

"Captain Alden, if you don't mind, I think that now would be a good time to wake our other friend up."

"Of course, Colonel O'Neill." He motioned to the medic, who nodded and began walking out of the room.

"We'll be back soon," Jack said to Daniel. His friend nodded and closed his eyes. Jack and Carter followed the medic and ship�s captain, and watched with concern as Keyon entered the small room and pressed a few commands into the console by Teal'c's bed.

�Sir, what if Teal�c doesn�t remember us?� Carter whispered in his ear.

�Then we wait for Junior to put his memories back.� The thought had flitted through Jack�s mind, but the snake in Teal�c�s belly had always helped the Jaffa recover more quickly than the humans.

The lights along the small plastic bands winked out, and a few seconds later, Teal�c opened his eyes. Jack did note that the doctor hadn�t removed the bands from Teal'c's body, and that he stood with his hands still on the controls. Jack hoped the precautions wouldn't be necessary.

�What if his symbiote also has amnesia?�

The large man sat up smoothly and gracefully, twisting his body around so that his feet were on the ground. He stared at the people in the room, oblivious of the medical trappings still stuck to his body.

�Carter�� Jack griped, then pushed into the room and stood before his friend, arms held out at his side.

�Hey Teal�c,� Jack said with a wide smile. "Remember me?"

He was met with stony silence. Jack pursed his lips together and shoved his hands into his pockets. He had to hope that if Teal'c didn't remember them, then he also didn't remember his time as a Jaffa , and so wouldn't see Jack as a threat.

"I guess you don't remember anything, huh? Well, that's okay, it's happened to all of us. It'll take a little while but your memory will come back. Now, I have only one word of advice." He leaned forward and lowered his voice. "Apophis is a false god. Just remember that before jumping to any other conclusions, okay?"

Their friend simply continued to stare for a long moment, and Jack began to feel uncomfortable. He turned to look at Carter, then at the two aliens, before swiveling back Teal'c.

"I guess Carter was right, looks like Junior might have amnesia also."

At his comment, Teal'c placed a hand to his abdomen. He raised his tee shirt and looked down at his pouch, and at the wires snaking into the opening. He lowered the shirt and said, "Those were five words, O'Neill."

"Buddy! Glad to see you remember us," Jack said, grinning and clapping Teal'c's shoulder.

�MajorCarter, I am pleased to see you also. Why did I not remember?� Teal�c asked as they waited for Keyon to disconnect the wiring and then Jack waved his friend out of the tiny room.

"It happened to all of us," Carter said. The alien doctor and Captain had left them alone, allowing them to bring Teal'c up to speed. As she explained to Teal'c the reasons for their memory loss, Jack couldn't help wonder why no one could remember why they were out here in space. And exactly where in space were they? And where had they been heading or coming from? Was Alden's ship traveling away from their home? Who were these aliens, were they really as friendly as they appeared? Of course, Jack and Carter had been too busy trying to remember who they were that the normal suspicions had flown right out of their minds.

"What of DanielJackson?"

Teal'c's words brought Jack back to the present.

"He was hurt a little more severely than we were," Jack explained, his voice tense as Daniel's death suddenly hit him once more. Yeah, right, like he bled to death in Jack's arms, that would constitute being hurt worse than running out of air.

"He's recovering," Carter added, "but they don't have any blood to transfuse him with. Sir, we need to find out exactly where we are and how long it'll take us to get home. Or at the least, find out where the nearest 'gate is. I think the sooner we get Daniel to Janet, the sooner he'll recover. He really needs a blood transfusion."

Carter's words paralleled Jack's earlier thoughts. He nodded, and was glad when they entered the infirmary once again. He wondered whether they'd continue to bunk in here or if they'd be assigned private rooms. He was feeling pretty good at the moment, although Keyon had warned him it would take him a while to get his full strength back if he didn't overdo it.

They went straight to Daniel's bed, and seeing that his friend was asleep, continued on through the medical area in search of Keyon. They found the man sitting at a desk looking at some kind of computer console.

"How is Daniel doing?" Jack asked when the medic turned to greet them. "Physically, I mean. It looked to me earlier like he was in pain."

"He has not complained of any discomfort," the medic replied.

"Well, that's just Daniel." Jack shook his head. "He wouldn't say much of anything, especially if he's not sure of what's going on. He doesn't remember, and even though we're telling him we remember him, he must be horribly confused and he doesn't feel safe, so he won't admit to any kind of vulnerability. I know I wouldn't. He's hurting, I'm pretty sure of it."

"His wounds have been healed," Keyon stated as he got up and began to walk in the direction of Daniel's bed. "What ails him now is the lack of red blood cells. But there are rare instances where patients experience residual nerve trauma after the resuscitation. The brain continues to experience the pain, even though the damage has been healed. Perhaps this is what is occurring with your friend." Keyon began accessing the console beside Daniel's bed. Lights lit up on the plastic band around his chest. "I did not think to check for this as he never mentioned any pain. You were right, there is nerve trauma."

"Ah, Danny," Jack sighed.

- - - - - -

The voices around his bed, although softly spoken, woke Daniel out of a light doze. The pain in his abdomen was getting worse, and was keeping him from sleeping soundly despite the overwhelming exhaustion that made his whole body feel like it was permeated in lead. The sounds quieted after a moment, and Daniel was too tired to see if the people had gone away.

He needed to move, to ease the pain in his belly. He shifted his weight onto his right hip, stretching his left leg, searching for some kind of surcease of the discomfort. He wished the contraption surrounding him would allow him to turn onto his side. He felt it would help if he could just curl around the pain.

He wished he were back home, in a hospital where someone could give him some kind of medication to ease the hurt. But the people here weren't human, and those that were, were military. Somehow he knew he should be shocked to be talking to aliens, but he wasn't. And the idea of a Colonel being his friend seemed more off the wall than a monkey-faced furry doctor.

A stabbing pain made him catch his breath, and he brought his hand up to massage the area below his right breastbone.

"Easy there." The words were softly spoken and a hand squeezed his shoulder. He finally decided to open his eyes and saw the Colonel, Jack, sitting on his bed watching him with what Daniel thought to be concern. He squeezed his eyes shut as another round of pain assaulted him.

"Doc," Jack said, his voice rising.

"It's okay," Daniel managed to ground out, not wanting anyone to make a fuss over him.

"No, it's not. You're hurting and you're just too damned stubborn to tell anyone about it. The doc's making adjustments to that computer thingie , just hold on a little longer."

He felt a hand on his forehead and opened his eyes again. The pretty blond, the Captain� no, she was a Major, wasn't she� pushed his short bangs off his forehead. Somehow her touch and the Colonel's words, their obvious concern, made him feel less alone.

He groaned at another stabbing pain. This time he managed to turn onto his side and brought his knees up to his chest. His shoulder bumped the plastic that had sat against his chest, and it slid down his torso. He felt hands grab his own; hard, callused fingers squeezed and encouraged him to squeeze back.

"Just hang on," Jack said as Daniel did exactly that, crushing Jack's hands involuntarily as yet another spasm of pain coursed through him. He panted through the worsening pain, feeling sweat trickle down his face.

He felt the plastic contraption lifted from his back and then somehow it was sitting against his ribs again. Something cold and wet was placed against his temple, and the plastic now surrounding his ribs felt cool.

"There." The pain was suddenly gone as the alien doctor spoke, leaving Daniel thoroughly exhausted and light headed. He realized he was still grasping at the Colonel's hands and embarrassed, he let go.

"Better now?" Daniel nodded, and Jack patted his hand. The bed dipped and a rustling sound indicated that he'd moved off the bed. Daniel realized that he'd been given some kind of painkiller, and suddenly his fear escalated. Wasn't pain a warning that something wasn't right?

"Maybe it's my appendix," Daniel said, his voice seeming to come from far away.

"Don't think so, unless you've suddenly grown a new one." Jack's voice held a hint of laughter, and Daniel cracked one eye open to look over at him. The Major, Sam, was standing next to him and a huge black man stood beside her. He must be the fourth of their team that Jack had mentioned earlier.

" DanielJackson." The man spoke Daniel's name as if it were one word.

"I, um, I'm sorry, but I don't know you," Daniel said.

"I understand. I myself had a temporary loss of memory."

"And you won't remember until you've gotten stronger," Keyon said, walking into Daniel's field of vision. He adjusted the cold thing on his patient's forehead and stood back. "This will ease the pain, until the treatment for the nerve trauma is completed. And rest assured that not informing me of your discomfort did not aid your condition. We could have prevented this suffering, had you but said you were in pain."

Daniel raised his eyebrows at the doctor's appearance. The fur around his eyes and ears was standing straight up. Daniel glanced at Jack, wondering if he was seeing things. But Jack was staring at the alien with a bemused look on his face.

Slowly, the fur settled back as the doctor calmed down. "Rest now, you must not tire yourself, as this episode will not help in your recovery."

As if the words were a hypnotic command, Daniel's eyelids drooped. He forced them open, only to see Jack bending down close. "Go to sleep, Danny. Let go, relax. We'll be here, okay?"

Somehow the words were comforting, and he believed him. He let his eyes close, sleep claiming him now that the pain wasn't holding him back.

- - - - -

Jack sat down on his bed, watching Daniel sleep. Damn, but he�d deteriorated quickly. At least Keyon was fixing that little problem, and hopefully Daniel would start getting stronger now. Or as quickly as someone could recuperate without an adequate supply of red blood cells in him. Carter had suggested they donate more blood, but Keyon had said it wouldn�t help. Without whole blood, there wasn�t much more they could do to help their friend.

"Colonel?"

Jack turned, seeing a young woman waiting nervously behind him. She had long striated gold and tan hair, with her fur a lighter golden color. Sand-colored eyes gazed at him owlishly.

"If you please, I can bring you and your crew to your quarters now. Unless you prefer to stay on your vessel; but Captain Alden has made rooms available for you now that Keyon has given you the all clear."

"Yes," Keyon agreed, "you may leave the medical facilities as long as you assure me that you will rest and not overdo things over the next few cycles." Keyon looked over at Daniel, adjusting a small panel by the side of the bed. "Of course you are welcome to visit at any time. I will insist that he begin taking meals, so perhaps you would wish to join him at mealtimes."

With a last glance at Daniel, who looked like he'd be sleeping for quite some time, Jack nodded. "Sure, lead on," he said to the woman. As he followed the young lady, Carter and Teal'c fell in beside him.

"If you need anything, please, just ask me. If I can't provide what you require, or don't know the answer, then I can always find out for you."

"Well, we could start with your name," Jack said with a smile.

The woman gulped nervously, glancing at him quickly, a mannerism that reminded Jack of Daniel. "I'm sorry, my name is Edolie."

"Edolie, can you give us the coordinates of where we are in space and where we're heading?" Carter asked.

"Of course," Edolie replied as she led them down the corridor to stop at a shuttle post. "There's a computer in your suite, I can bring the coordinates up on it and show you. The ship isn't moving, though. Captain Alden wasn't sure where you were heading and didn't want to chance bringing you too far out of your way if your destination didn't coincide with ours."

"We haven't put your people out, have we?" Jack asked, wondering if the Captain would expect payment for this delay.

"Oh no," Edolie answered as she waved them into an arriving shuttle. "We're explorers and scientists, and the opportunity to meet new cultures is always worth the time to explore it fully."

Jack grinned at her words and looked at Carter and Teal'c. Carter grinned back at Jack and Teal'c raised an eyebrow, acknowledging again similarities to Daniel's eagerness in learning new cultures expressed by this young alien woman.

"Our last mission was to study a red dwarf in a binary system that had unusual qualities. We're on our way home, but we detoured into this galaxy at the rumors that there was much diverse life to be found here. So far we haven't been disappointed. You're the fourth race, oh, sorry," she said as she looked back at Teal'c, "fifth race we've encountered since we've been here. And we've heard of so many others, it's incredible. Where we come from, we have only two other races who share the galaxy with us. Learning about new cultures and life forms has been even more exciting than the red dwarf."

The shuttle came to a stop and everyone filed out. Edolie led them through a warren of corridors until she stopped at a door. She waved her hand over a light in the center of the door, and the door disappeared.

"The sensors are keyed to you," Edolie explained as she entered the room. "All you need to do is activate them and you will have access to anything here." Quickly and efficiently, she instructed them on the use of the various gadgets and facilities. She also led them on a very short tour of the four bedroom suite with a spacious living area which had an enormous picture window displaying the dark vista outside the ship.

"Here is the computer," she said, sitting at a small console, and after punching a few controls, she pulled up a star map on the wall display. "And here is our location," she added, isolating a small group of stars to the right of the map.

"Look familiar to you two?" Jack asked.

Carter shook her head. "I'll need to check the ship's navigational computer when it's back online and see if I can correlate the stars with planets having any known 'gates. And that's only if the computers are working. I have no idea how much damage they might have sustained."

"I believe that the technicians will be restoring power in the next cycle," Edolie said. "Perhaps then you could test your computers?"

"Cycles, that would be ahhh� days?" Jack asked.

"Yes, Sir," Carter replied. She checked her watch. "Local time on the ship makes it about 8 pm , Sir."

"And you know that, how?" Jack asked as he sat down on the soft sofa facing the stars.

"I asked, Sir," she said with an impish grin.

"You asked," Jack repeated.

"I will leave you now," Edolie said, after having powered the computer down. "Press this button to contact me in the morning. I will be at your disposal. If you wish, I will take you to your ship when they test the engines."

"Thank you, that would be great," Carter said, walking the woman to the door. Edolie left the room, flashing a smile at them before the doors reappeared, hiding her from view.

Jack sighed and laid his head back on the sofa. God, he was tired. He wondered if he should just go straight to bed. He thought of Daniel sleeping in the ship's infirmary and hoped that he wouldn't wake during the night and wonder why he was alone.

"I wish I could remember why we flew here in a tel'tak," Carter said as she dropped heavily into a padded chair.

"Why a ship, why not a Stargate?" Jack added.

"Perhaps if we compare our last memories," Teal'c suggested.

"Right. What's the last thing any of you remember?"

"Scrambled eggs," Carter said. "Orange juice, and coffee."

"Feeling hungry, are we?" Jack asked.

"No, I mean, I remember eating that for breakfast. That's my last memory."

"Indeed. I recall leaving the commissary to gear up for our mission. O'Neill, we did leave through the Stargate."

Jack rubbed his palms over his eyes, making little squelching sounds. "Okay, I remember going through the 'gate, too, but who's to say that that was the start of this mission, or one that happened last week."

"Right," Carter said glumly, closing her eyes and letting her head fall back on the cushions.

"What about the explosion?" Teal'c asked. "Does anyone recall DanielJackson being injured?"

// "Please Jack, I'm cold." //

For a moment Jack could feel Daniel's bloodied body warming up his chest and abdomen while the cold leached the heat from Jack's back. Daniel's limp weight was heavy in his arms. He felt intense regret and hopelessness at their situation and knew they were all going to die. He could see Carter's agonized expression when she informed him there had been too much damage to repair, and Teal'c's tireless attempts at barricading the door to maintain as much oxygen as possible in the small room finally had Jack ordering him to cease and rest.

He had felt Daniel slip away from their world with a soft sigh, and still he had refused to let go of his friend. His teammates had curled up around the two of them, huddling close to maintain body heat, their hands curling around Daniel to hold him in place close to Jack. The gravity had felt weird; he had been strangely buoyant, like he was floating in water. His ass was had been planted on the cold marble floor, but every so often he had felt something like a wave or current or gust of air that would lift him up and gently set him back down.

"Sir, are you all right?"

Carter's question jerked him back to the present, and at that moment, Jack wanted nothing more than to go to bed. Instead, he turned to look at her, and said, "I remember Daniel dying."

"In the tel'tak?"

"Yeah. He went first, but we weren't far behind him," Jack said. He stood up. "Look, I'm going to bed." He didn't want to talk about what he was feeling just now. He headed for the bedroom nearest to where he'd been sitting.

"I'm right behind you," Carter said, standing up and heading in the opposite direction.

"As am I," said Teal'c, taking the room between the two.

Jack quickly stripped to his underwear and slid beneath the soft sheets. As he turned onto his side, he was sure he was going to be haunted by dreams of Daniel's death. Instead, he slept peacefully, knowing nothing until he woke twelve hours later.

- - - - - -

Daniel tried not to look at the greenish-grey glop sitting on the tray that Keyon had brought in moments earlier. Just the color and consistency turned his stomach. Hell, he was sure it would put anyone off his food, even if he were healthy and not feeling nauseated.

He'd only been sitting up for several minutes and already he was tired. Keyon had insisted he try to eat something this morning and although Daniel had no appetite, he did realize that he needed food in order to get his strength back. But he was positive this supposedly nutritious *stuff* the medic had brought him would make a repeat performance if he did try and eat it. Finally he shut his eyes, hoping that when he opened them again, someone would take the food away.

"Hey Daniel."

"Colonel." Daniel smiled at the older man, happy to see him and at the same time, a little embarrassed at the comfort he'd needed last night when he'd been in such pain.

"Jack."

"What?"

"You usually call me Jack. You haven't called me Colonel for years now."

"Oh, okay. Jack."

"What's this, breakfast?" The man who proclaimed to be his friend, and who had proven to be so last night, leaned over to peer at the tray. "You gonna eat that?" he asked, making a face.

"No, do you want it?" Daniel asked hopefully.

"Um, not really," Jack said after sticking his finger into the glob and tasting it. He picked the tray up and moved it to a table, out of Daniel's sight. "We had some crunchy stuff for breakfast, I think I'll pass on the� gruel. I'll be sticking to MREs from now on so, maybe you'd like to try something a little more familiar?" Jack dug into a pocket and pulled out a small object. He tore the wrapping off one end and handed it to Daniel. "It's an energy bar, extremely nutritious and tasty."

Daniel broke off a small piece from the sticky bar and tasted it. It was sweet and tasty, and much preferable than the food Keyon had wanted him to eat. Apples and cinnamon, Daniel decided. A great combination, almost as good as coffee and chocolate.

"I know you're probably better off eating something other than solids right now," Jack said as he handed Daniel some water to wash the bite down with, "but just that one serving packs enough calories for a day. So if you just nibble on it every few hours, it might not tax your stomach too much."

"Thanks," Daniel said as he took another bite. "But weren't you planning on eating this yourself?"

"I just packed it as a snack." He tilted his head, looking at Daniel. "I've got more, don't worry."

With shaking hands, Daniel pulled the torn wrapping over the uneaten portion of the bar. With the water and the couple of bites he'd eaten, his stomach was already feeling full and he was afraid he'd be sick if he ate more. He dropped the bar beside him and closed his eyes, wishing he didn't feel so weak and exhausted.

"You okay? You're not in any pain, are you?"

He opened his eyes to see Jack leaning forward over the bed. There was genuine concern showing on his face.

"I'm fine, just a little tired," he said as he fingered the small device stuck to his temple. Whatever it was, it was doing a great job keeping the pain away.

"Okay, get some sleep. I'm gonna go join the others and see how much longer before we find out exactly where we are. With any luck, we'll find a planet with a Stargate and get you home to Fraiser in a few hours."

"Stargate? Fraiser?"

Daniel wished he had the strength to question Jack more fully on these words or names, but sleep was pulling him under and he was helpless to resist. Jack might have answered, but Daniel was asleep before the other man opened his mouth.

- - - - - -

Jack thought nothing could be more boring than watching a bunch of people trying to fix a broken computer. Well, maybe sitting in at one of Daniel's or Carter's archeological or scientific briefings came a close second. He checked his watch and decided he'd go sit with Daniel. Watching him sleep had to be better than this, didn't it?

He felt a little uneasy with the idea of leaving Daniel alone in the care of these people. Sure, these aliens had been friendly and had saved their lives, but since none of them recalled the actual explosion that had eventually led to their deaths, they had no proof that the aliens weren't behind it for some yet undiscovered reason.

Leaving Carter was okay with him, though, Teal'c was there to watch her six, and vice-versa.

"Carter, are you nearly done yet?" Jack asked, knowing he'd been nagging them every few minutes for the past couple of hours, but boredom had a tenacious grip and he couldn't seem to help himself. It seemed that the alien technology couldn't quite fuse with the Goa'uld technology. What had been assumed to be a couple of hours' work had turned out to be going on close to ten.

Carter was lying on her back, half her body swallowed up inside a console with wires, crystals and doodads scattered around her. Two of the aliens were sitting cross-legged beside her, working on the electronic portions of the computer. It appeared to be painstakingly precise work, and Jack wasn't immune to the looks they'd been casting in his direction for the past while.

Teal'c raised his head from where he'd been peering into the innards of a console. He was kneeling before the opening, body twisted awkwardly in an attempt to work at a hard-to-reach area. Sweat beaded his head, shining in the harsh lights placed to illuminate the small work areas. Jack swallowed a little nervously at the glare his friend gave him.

"I do not believe we are any closer to accomplishing our tasks tonight, O'Neill. Perhaps you might wish to go stretch your legs."

"Yeah, I'll go check on Danny if you guys can do without me," he said with relief. "You guys gonna quit soon? It's way past suppertime, you want me to bring you something to eat?"

"Go ahead, Sir," Carter said, her voice muffled inside the console. "Teal'c's right, we won't get this finished tonight, but I'd like to at least replace the rest of these chips before we quit. We won't be much longer than an hour. How about we join you and Daniel when we're done and heat up a couple of MREs?"

"Sounds good," Jack said as he walked towards the exit. Anything was better than the aliens' food. The taste, texture and color were all unappetizing and unsatisfying. They'd turned to their own provisions instead, eating what was familiar and nutritious.

He made it to the medical area this time without getting lost or making a wrong turn. He could have asked Edolie to guide him, and he had the first few times. But he hated having to disturb her and then wait for her to join him from wherever she'd been attending her duties. He silently applauded himself, but thought it was about time he find his way since he'd made this trip a good dozen times already today. As he approached Daniel's bed, he noted that his friend was sleeping once again. He did see that two thirds of the power bar was gone, the excess wrappings peeking out from underneath Daniel's pillow.

Daniel had been asleep most of the times Jack had wandered into the medical bay to check in on him. He was constantly tempted to wake him, to see if Daniel's memories had come back, and if not, to attempt to nudge those memories to the fore. But Daniel was still very weak due to the blood loss and Jack knew he needed the rest. So he swallowed back a sigh and sat on the chair that had been provided by Keyon.

He'd listened to Daniel's tape recording that Alden had played back for him earlier, to see if there were any clues to why they'd been in the tel'tak in the first place. He'd also resorted to reading Daniel's journal, albeit only the last pages, again searching for hints, but there had been nothing in either other than long-winded, boring gobbledygook.

"Did they fix the computer yet?"

Jack smiled down at his friend and shook his head. "No, it turned out to be a more complicated job than they'd first thought. Actually, it was kind of an impressive light show when they tried turning the power on, nice sparkage and sound effects. They're in the middle of replacing all the computer chips, and Carter thinks they've gotten the power flow sorted out, so they'll try again tomorrow. I'm afraid a few of your books have a few more scorch marks, sorry 'bout that."

"Books?"

"Text books. But nothing that can tell me what our mission was all about. I think you probably just brought those along to kill time."

"What kind of books?" Jack could see the interest shining in Daniel's eyes, and he smiled.

"Oh, you know, the usual. Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, some languages books� but there are a couple of papers on an ongoing excavation about a tomb discovered in Giza called KV5, and something about a mummified lion just recently discovered in another tomb. You know, some of that stuff is kinda interesting. I can bring those over next time I'm in the ship, if you'd like."

Daniel nodded. "I get the feeling that I like archaeology?"

"Well, I would think so, considering that you're an archaeologist."

"Oh. Right." Daniel shifted in his bed, trying to sit up. His eyes suddenly widened as he looked up at Jack. "I am?"

Jack smiled. "And a linguist."

"I see. That would explain the language books you mentioned."

Jack tilted his head and smiled. "Yeah. Oh, and you're also an anthropologist."

"You are kidding me, right?" Daniel said, looking owlish as he peered at Jack.

"Nope, scout's honor. I told you that you weren't military. You're a civilian consultant, and damned good at what you do."

"I just wish I could remember," Daniel said with a sigh.

"You will. As soon as you're stronger." But Jack knew that his words couldn't quite ease Daniel's probable fear that his amnesia was permanent. Jack himself had gone through that concern when he couldn't remember anything, even with the alien's assertions that his memory would return.

"That doesn't look like it'll be happening any time soon."

"We'll get you home in a few days at most, don't worry about it. That's my job."

"Sounds like you got the short end of the straw," Daniel answered as he picked up the power bar and peeled back the wrapping. Jack could see how Daniel's hands trembled and he wished that Carter could pull off a miracle and set them on course for the nearest Stargate. Unfortunately, she was only human, and he knew she was working as fast as she could. And it wasn't like Daniel's life was in danger, it wasn't. Given time, he'd slowly gain his strength back. It was just that Jack hated to see his friend so weak and listless.

As Daniel nibbled at his meager meal, Carter and Teal'c came in, followed by Alden.

"Sir," Carter said as she approached. "Alden just informed us that they found another bomb."

"Bomb?" Jack glanced over at the captain, who was nodding at him. "And what do you mean, another?"

"We discovered the explosive device floating outside our ship a short time ago, Colonel O'Neill. Analysis has shown that it is made up of the same components as the fragments we found in your friend's body, and also embedded in the walls of your ship, as well as in the debris outside the ship."

Jack winced at the words, knowing first hand the amount of damage the shrapnel from the explosion had done to Daniel. His friend was rubbing his abdomen where he'd been pierced with the sharp metal.

"Wait a second, you said there was debris inside AND outside the ship? Was there that much damage?" He couldn't envisage how that could have happened; the bomb would have had to blow a hole right through the bulkhead.

"Sir, the teleportation rings were totally destroyed. At first I couldn't figure out why, but now I suspect that we were trying to transport the bomb outside the ship when it went off. It must have exploded at the precise moment it was teleporting, so the damage to the ship was much less severe. I suspect that otherwise, the bomb would have probably blown the ship to bits. Actually, it's a miracle because the odds of the bomb going off at that one instant are astronomical."

"Does anyone even remember a bomb in the ship? Or a bomb going off?" He looked at his team, and they all shook their heads.

"Perhaps if Captain Alden permits us to examine this second explosive device, it may well trigger our memories," Teal'c offered.

"That is my hope," Alden said as he smoothed the fur along one cheekbone. "The bomb is being retrieved and a lab is being set up in a hangar bay. They will be ready by the time we arrive. Perhaps you may also be able to answer my question as to why the device only now began transmitting energy waves, alerting us to its presence. Its size is too small for us to have detected it otherwise from the usual flotsam in space; it almost feels as if it wished to be noticed."

"Maybe it's programmed to turn itself on when a ship approaches it," Carter supposed, shrugging.

"Maybe," Jack said thoughtfully, but he could think of a few other scenarios that made him a little suspicious of this second bomb showing up now.

Daniel was flagging, and Jack could tell by the way his eyelids were drooping that he was fighting sleep once more. Jack reached for the remaining piece of the power bar in Daniel's lax hand and wrapped it up before placing it beside his pillow. He pulled the pillow down onto the bed from where Daniel had jammed it against the wall, and said softly, "Get some rest. We'll tell you all about it next time you wake up, okay?"

"I wish I could get up and go with you," Daniel sighed softly as he slid down the mattress.

Jack adjusted the blanket, pulling it past Daniel's shoulders. "I know."

Carter moved forward and pushed Daniel's hair from his forehead. "We'll get you home soon, Daniel. You'll get your strength back in no time."

They stood before his bed, watching as Daniel closed his eyes and his body relaxed into sleep. Jack met Alden's gaze and the alien Captain motioned they should leave. Glancing at Daniel's sleeping form one last time, Jack followed them out of the medical area.

"I'm confident we'll get the computer working by tomorrow," Carter said as she paced Jack down the corridor. "If there's a Stargate anywhere close by, Alden's offered to take us there, whether or not the tel'tak's repaired."

"Good, then at least we'll get Daniel home soon," Jack answered.

"Colonel," Alden said as they approached the now familiar signs of a hangar bay. "If you and your team will wait here, I'll go inside and ascertain that all the safety features have been installed."

Left alone for a moment, Jack turned to Teal'c and Carter. "You don't think this is all an elaborate set up in order to bring these aliens to Earth, do you?" Jack finally asked , voicing one of the concern's he'd been mulling over for the past while.

"Until we are able to recall exactly what occurred to damage the ship and accordingly resulted in our deaths, it is always a possibility," Teal'c answered. "But I have seen nothing to make me suspicious of them or to cause alarm in any manner."

"Me neither," Carter added. "But I sure wish I could remember what did happen. Keyon says it's due to the shock of the explosion, because it's the last thing that happened before we� died, and that often those are the last memories to come back."

"Then why do I remember Daniel dying?" Jack said softly. His friends' response was interrupted with Alden's return.

"You may enter," he said, waiting by the entrance. Jack looked around the hangar bay, noting it was similar to the one where their ship was docked. He saw a table by the hangar doors, and Alden led them to it. A small innocuous-looking sphere floated three inches off the table.

"There is an energy barrier around the bomb," Alden explained as they approached. "Should the device detonate, the barrier will safely contain the explosion." Jack raised his eyebrows doubtfully. "The barrier will contain five times the amount of energy unleashed by the explosion."

"Who says that this isn't five times bigger than the bomb that damaged our ship?" Jack countered. "This *is* a bigger ship, and if the bombs *are* being deliberately sent, who says they haven't made sure it'll do some real damage here also."

"Are you always this pessimistic?" Alden asked with a grin. Jack noted that the Captain's incisor teeth were long and pointed, a fact he'd missed until now.

"It's my job," Jack answered with a shrug. He noted Carter's smile and the fact that Teal'c's lips twitched at his words.

"This explosive device is a more powerful one, that we have already ascertained from our scans. I assure you, there is no danger. Our only concern at the moment is to discover who is sending the bombs and to what purpose."

They dutifully gathered round the sphere, looking at it from all angles.

"There's something that looks like writing," Carter said, leaning closer. "Teal'c, do you recognize it?"

Teal'c moved around the table and bent over to examine it. "I do not. Perhaps DanielJackson will be able to decipher it."

"He's too weak to come all the way here," Carter said, straightening up. "Alden, can we take a picture of this?"

"Picture? Ah, a photograph. Yes, it has already been done." Alden picked a small square device from the table and clicked one of two buttons. A holographic image of the bomb appeared, floating above the square device. "You wish to show this to Daniel?"

"He's our language expert. If anyone will recognize this, he will, that is, if his amnesia doesn't prevent him from remembering all the languages he's learned." Alden turned the holographic projector off and handed it to Jack.

As they returned to the medical area, Jack asked, "You're gonna keep that thing on the ship, knowing what it is?"

"It is safer to know where it is, so that it cannot do any damage. Were we to detonate it, its maker could always send another and we might not detect it in time to prevent its detonation."

Jack silently thought that they could just as easily be another bomb, or two, or a hundred, floating out there in space. The ship was so huge that it was probably impossible to keep track of what was nearby.

"We are in the process of scanning the area immediately outside the ship. As it is vast, it will take time, but we are taking precautions, Colonel."

They spent the next three hours waiting for Daniel to wake up. They ate their supper and sat around the holographic image, hoping for an inkling of memory to appear.

When Daniel finally stirred, he showed a keen interest in the writing that was on the bomb. Carter, with Keyon's help, managed to enlarge the text, making it easier for all to see.

"It's kind of familiar," Daniel said as he peered at the alien language floating before them. "I know I've seen it, but I can't begin to tell you where. And how can I know this when I don't even remember you guys?"

"Either you're beginning to remember things, Daniel, or the amnesia is affecting only certain parts of our memories. Like how we all remembered how to speak English, or weren't freaked by the fact that we were in a ship in outer space. You know languages and probably haven't forgotten them."

"Was this writing on the bomb in our ship?" Daniel asked, his fingers tracing a shaky path along the air below the script.

"I don't remember," Carter replied. "Possibly."

Suddenly she swayed, her eyes widening in surprise.

"Carter?" Jack asked worriedly.

"I just remembered something," she said breathlessly, staring at the hologram. "We did have a similar device on the ship." She waved at the projection. "Daniel was handling it and a light on it started flashing." She pointed at a small dark panel to the right of the writing. "He suddenly cried out that it was a bomb and that it was counting down. He yelled for us to get out and pushed me out of the room while he ran to the rings with the bomb and tried to transport it outside." She looked up at Jack, her visage expressing her horror at the recollection. "It must have gone off while Daniel was at the controls. That's why he was hurt. He saved our lives."

"No, I didn't, you� we all died anyways." He lowered his hand and fiddled with the blanket. "So I'm the one who set the bomb off," Daniel said softly.

"Daniel, it's okay," Carter replied, putting a hand on Daniel's foot.

"I'm sorry, I guess I must have triggered it somehow. I don't remember�"

"You know, I keep telling you not to go around and touch things," Jack said as he turned the projection off and placed the controller device on the table. He sat down on the chair beside Daniel's bed. "You�ve managed to get into countless scrapes over the years, but you've also managed to pull our skins out of the fire even more times than I can count. Even if you did trigger that bomb, you saved our lives."

"No, I didn't, Jack. You all died, remember? Lack of oxygen and all that?"

"But we're alive now. If you hadn't transported the bomb outside, there'd have been nothing left for Keyon to revive. And imagine this, Daniel. Maybe if you hadn't triggered the bomb, we might have unknowingly brought it home and it could have gone off beneath the mountain, destroying everything there."

"Mountain?" Daniel glanced up at Jack quickly, his gaze flitting back down to the blanket after a second.

"Our base is beneath a mountain," Carter explained. "You'll re�"

"Right," Daniel said, interrupting her. "I'll remember as soon as I'm better. I know, you've said it before. That, I remember." He stared at the bit of blanket that his fingers were worrying, not raising his head.

"Okay kids, I think we need to let Daniel rest a bit." Jack knew from his attitude that Daniel was tired, and that he needed to process the fact that the exploding bomb was his fault. As the others moved away, Jack said, "Danny, you did good. There's nothing to feel guilty for. And yes, I know what you're feeling. I know you, and I know how much you feel responsible when things don't go right. But let's just try and concentrate on the fact that we're alive, we'll be home soon, and that probably someone or something had to have sent that bomb to us, as well as the one in this ship." Daniel finally looked up at Jack, smoothing out the wrinkles he'd just made in the material.

"So we have an unknown enemy?" Daniel asked.

"Oh, we've got plenty of known enemies, it's just a matter of trying to figure out which one is responsible. Look, it's late, you're tired. Go to sleep and we'll see you in the morning."

"I'm not tired," Daniel argued. "All I do is sleep. Can I see that thing?" he asked, waving towards the hologram's controls. Jack handed it to Daniel, and as his friend turned it back on, Jack stood up.

"Look, if you want to talk�" Daniel pulled his gaze away from the display before him and looked at Jack. His lips curled into a slight smile and he nodded.

"Thanks, but I'm fine."

He zoomed in on the text once more, and Jack muttered a goodnight and joined the rest of his team, who were waiting by the door. Daniel didn't look at them, his attention focused on the bomb's display.

- - - - - -

The next morning they all smiled when they found Daniel sleeping with the hologram floating a few inches from his nose. Several sheets of papers, spread over his bed, and a couple of textbooks piled up on the table beside him, revealed that Daniel had been hard at work at some point during the night. One book was propped open, numerous scorch marks marring the pages within.

Teal'c gathered the papers while Jack moved the textbooks aside, making room for their breakfast MREs. He heated their meal while Carter turned off the hologram and woke Daniel up. At Daniel's ready smile upon seeing them, Jack realized that although he had no recollection of them, their friend seemed to be enjoying their company. It made Jack proud of his team. They were a family, and their care for one another was apparent to Daniel.

"Brought you breakfast," Jack said as he offered Daniel an egg and ham omelet with sausage links, biscuits and fruit salad. He knew Daniel could never manage to eat the whole thing, but still he nagged and prodded until Daniel managed to take a few bites of each serving.

Jack handed Daniel's leftovers to Teal'c after snatching up the barely touched biscuit. The Jaffa offered the fruit salad to Carter while he polished off the meat and eggs. While they ate, Daniel turned the hologram back on, and picked up the discarded papers.

"I think I've managed to translate this," he said with a wave at the floating bomb.

"Really?" Carter quickly swallowed her mouthful of food and leaned forward. Jack shook his head; Daniel never failed to amaze him.

"Yeah, well, I was thinking last night that if I'm a linguist, I must have been trying to translate the first bomb, right? So I asked Keyon for the books that had been in the room, and figured that the one with the most damage to it would probably have been what I'd been using, because it would probably have been opened to the pages I'd have been looking at."

Jack reached for the one with the most scorch marks in it and opened it. "This one?" he asked.

Daniel nodded, and turned his attention to his notes. Jack could see how pale Daniel looked today, with dark rings beneath his eyes. Jack figured the time spent doing this translation had taxed Daniel's already meager strength.

"It took me a while, I kept falling asleep. But unfortunately, the translation really doesn't help us. I think it's simply a manufacturer's name." He held up a paper with several untranslatable words written on it.

"Come again?" Jack said.

"Its meaning translates to something similar to 'made in the USA ', or like that TV cartoon of the roadrunner, the coyote always bought stuff made from 'ACME' products. I guess you could probably trace where the bomb came from, but it probably won't tell you who bought it."

"Damn," Jack muttered. For this, Daniel had lost precious sleep. "Teal'c, you ever heard of this?"

"I have not. But if the Goa'uld are behind this, it is all too possible that they have taken them from a new source that I am unfamiliar with."

"Colonel!"

They all turned around to see Edolie rushing into the room. Their young guide stopped by the bed.

"Two ships have been hiding behind a cloaking device, and have suddenly materialized. Captain Alden wishes your presence on the bridge. The aliens do not speak any languages we are familiar with and he hopes that you might help." As she spoke, she moved to a computer console and typed a few commands. Two Goa'uld vessels floated before them, looking deceptively small against the multitude of pinpoints of lights shining against the deep black of space.

"A Cheops Warship and a Ha'tak," Teal'c said as stood with his hands behind his back.

"The Goa'uld speak English," Jack informed Edolie. "They just don't want to stoop down to our level and admit it. Teal'c, could you talk to this snake?"

"I could, O'Neill, but I believe that most of the system lords will most likely recognize me. One must certainly have been behind the bomb that damaged our ship. Do we wish this Goa'uld to know that we still live?"

"Ha'tak� that's an attack vessel. I know this. I speak this language, don't I?" Daniel had pushed himself up onto an elbow, trying to peer at the monitor.

"Indeed."

"Then maybe I could talk to the person in charge?"

"Daniel, I don't think that's a good idea." Just the thought of Daniel undergoing the stress of sparring verbally with a Goa'uld in his weakened condition worried Jack. Let alone the physical stress of getting him to the bridge.

"Jack, from what I can see of those ships, that big one, it looks powerful and dangerous."

"Sir, there might be more than one out there, and if they're cloaked, we'll never know until they decide to open fire. We need to talk to those ships. The people here saved our lives, we can't let them be hurt because of that."

"Would a system lord know me?" Daniel asked.

"Oh yeah, they're all pretty familiar with the four of us. We've kinda got a reputation with them."

"Edolie, can we transmit with voice only, so that they don't see our faces?"

"Of course, Daniel. If you wish, I'll see to Keyon and get you a transport chair." She rushed out of the room and returned shortly with Keyon, who was pushing a wheelchair-type of conveyance.

They quickly moved Daniel onto it, Jack making sure that he had a couple of blankets to keep him warm. The trip to the bridge was one that seemed to take forever, Jack constantly checking on Daniel. He needn't have worried, Daniel was looking around with interest, not having seen any parts of the ship except for the infirmary.

Alden came to meet them as they entered the spacious bridge. A dozen people were stationed at various consoles and panels. Several were moving from one console to another. The atmosphere appeared relaxed, and Jack could tell that Alden seemed to have everything in control.

Very evident on several monitors was Apophis' face, his eyes glowing occasionally as his anger seemed to mount at the lack of communication from Alden's ship. His voice droned on in the background, its mechanical sound grating on Jack's already tense nerves.

"You should know that we have discovered fifteen bombs outside the ship," Alden said as Daniel was wheeled to a small console. "Do not fear, they pose no danger to us."

The functions of the console were simple, press the blue button to transmit, press it again to end the transmission.

"The snake's name is Apophis, Daniel. He's one of our worst enemies," Jack said.

"Since you say he knows me, I can speak the language with an accent so he won't recognize my voice so easily," Daniel suggested. Teal'c nodded as he pulled up a chair to sit beside Daniel.

"Just remember," Jack said, placing a hand on his shoulder for support. "Apophis is ruthless, and you're not to believe a word he says."

Daniel looked up at Jack, and nodded, his eyes narrowing as he turned back to the visage on the screen. Daniel reached out with a shaking hand and pressed the button to transmit.

"Apophis, kree."

Jack smiled at the look of shock that spread over the handsome face on the monitor, silencing him. But he winced inwardly when the Goa'uld's expression spread to anger.

// Who dares address me so? //

In a soft voice, Teal'c translated the conversation for the others.

Daniel glanced quickly at Jack, then over at Alden. // My name matters not. Why have you come here, hiding like a coward? Do you think we are Ha'shak? //

"Kegalo!"

// No, I will no be silent. You have made an overt act of war by sending your bombs against our ship. Do not press us, Apophis. My patience wears thin, and we will strike back. //

// Why do you hide your face? Are you a coward? Why do you now transmit with audio only? //

// Your ships' shields are affecting our communications device. Turn off your shields and you will see my face. //

Daniel sagged suddenly, and Jack grabbed Daniel's arm while Teal'c ended the transmission. Daniel was sweating profusely, and Jack ignored Apophis' wild ranting on the speakers while Daniel blinked several times.

"I'm okay," he said. "Just got a little dizzy." Jack could feel him trembling and he hitched the blanket up closer to Daniel's shoulders. Daniel looked up at Alden. "I don't know what the hell I'm doing here. I was bluffing, I'm sorry. I thought if he believed we had superior firepower to his�"

"Do not worry, we are capable of defending ourselves," Alden replied.

"Against one ship, maybe," Jack said. "But there are two out there, and he's probably got several more cloaked."

"DanielJackson. Apophis speaks of the tel'tak."

Daniel turned his attention to the words coming through the speakers, then pressed the transmit button, cutting the man off.

// The ship is ours. We claim salvage rights. // Daniel pressed the button off.

// I care naught for the ship, but its three occupants are my sworn enemies. I demand you return them to me as my prisoners. //

"Three?" Daniel mouthed at Jack, obviously confused.

"He is testing you," Teal'c answered very softly.

// The occupants did not survive. We have disposed of all four bodies. There is nothing to return. //

// You lie! The ship was not that badly damaged. //

// Believe what you will. There were no survivors. // Daniel's voice was growing weaker, and Jack knew this had to end soon. Daniel's hand was shaking so badly over the transmit button that Jack reached over and held his own hand over it, ready to turn it off.

// Very well, if you will not return the bodies of the Tau'ri and the Shol'va to me, I will take steps to guarantee that they have not survived. //

His image disappeared, only to be replaced by the images of the warships. Suddenly four more Ha'taks decloaked. Jack had been right, they were surrounded.

The ship suddenly rocked violently. Jack grabbed onto Daniel's chair, barely keeping his footing while Teal'c took Daniel by the arm, ensuring he didn't fall out of the chair. The lights went out, coming back on seconds later in a strange, dim, yellow cast.

"He detonated the bombs," Carter said in an unbelieving voice. Alarms sounded, but the crew continued going about their duties, appearing as calm as when they'd first entered the bridge.

Several crew members came to Alden, and Jack heard them talking for the first time in their native tongue. It flowed smoothly, almost musically. Alden listened, then spoke briefly to them.

"There has been no damage," Alden informed SG-1. "There were three more undiscovered bombs outside, but our shields were able to deflect all the blasts. Now, watch," he said, smiling again, his incisors bared. Small whiskers that had lain hidden against his fur stood out from his face. There was an animalistic feel about Alden, almost as if he was enjoying this.

Jack felt something begin to thrum beneath his feet. The engines, or something very powerful, was powering up. The yellow lights dimmed even more, and in the monitors, streaks of green could be seen stretching out towards three of the five warships.

Explosions were clearly seen where the green lights touched upon the Cheops and Ha'tak vessels. Jack knew that these Goa'uld ships had shields that could deflect atomic blasts. He was in awe at the power Alden's ship must be generating to get through those defenses.

The two undamaged Ha'taks fired back, and small shivers could be felt beneath Jack's feet. Two more warships decloaked, but before any could fire upon them, the green lights once again filled the screens. The ships began moving out of the way, but they weren't quick enough. Explosions wracked the Ha'taks, the battle ending in less time than it had taken Daniel to try and bluff their way out of it.

"Oh God! No!"

Daniel's cry brought Jack's attention back to his friend. His gaze was fixed on the scene before them. He was leaning forward in his chair, gasping for air, his face pale and damp with sweat. Belatedly Jack remembered that Daniel didn't recall the years of fighting and loss of life they'd experienced throughout their battle with the Goa'uld.

"Daniel, it's okay. It had to be done. The Goa'uld would have destroyed this ship without a second thought, just because they wanted the four of us dead."

Daniel continued to stare at the continuing explosions, the devastation to the seven warships obvious in the floating debris surrounding them. Small bursts of flames, quickly smothered in the airless space, were reflected in Daniel's glasses. Jack turned back to the monitor, where tiny shapes could be seen leaving the ships; some of the Jaffa had survived the damage. Jack wondered if Apophis had been killed. He certainly hoped so.

Jack tore his attention from the screen once more and took Daniel's chin in his, forcing his friend to look at him.

"Danny, it had to be done. Apophis would never have let this ship go free. He'd have tried to steal it for himself, and if that weren't possible, he'd have destroyed it. That's what the Goa'uld do. They take, they destroy. Believe me, they've taken more from you that anyone deserves to experience."

"I�I� I tried, Jjjack," Daniel stammered. "I dddidn't imagine, I never thought�"

"Shhh, it's okay. You did the best you could, but Apophis was never one to be reasoned with, and even if you'd been at a hundred percent, he probably would never have listened."

The yellow lights dimmed, and the regular illumination returned. Jack could see the monitors out of the corner of his eye, and suddenly the scene of battle disappeared as the ship began moving in space.

Daniel tore his head from Jack's hand. "I thought you were explorers," Daniel said to Alden accusingly.

"We are, Daniel. Believe me, we are peaceful. But we will defend ourselves if provoked."

"That sounds familiar," Jack mumbled to Carter and Teal'c. He turned again to Daniel.

"Alden did what needed to be done. If I'd have had access to that kind of firepower, I'd have done exactly the same thing." Daniel turned his gaze back to Jack, his expression reproachful. "You can't tell me you believe we should have just sat back and let Apophis throw everything he had at us?"

"This ship was obviously well shielded. You could have withstood the attack," Daniel gasped.

"Ah, but now these Goa'uld know that we are not a race to be taken lightly," Alden said. "Hopefully we shall continue exploring your galaxy without being bothered by these parasites."

Daniel continued to tremble, his breaths still coming in short puffs. Keyon fiddled with a panel in the side of the chair, and brought out something that looked like a half grapefruit, placing it over Daniel's nose and mouth.

"You must try and relax, Daniel," he said. When Daniel tried to push the item aside, Keyon grabbed his hand gently. "This only provides a greater degree of oxygen. You need to relax now, my friend."

The medic looked to Jack and Jack reached over to hold the item in front of Daniel's face. Keyon then adjusted the chair until Daniel was in a semi-reclining position. "Since you are no longer needed here, we shall return to the infirmary."

They waited several minutes until Daniel recovered. Their friend sat back in the chair, limp with exhaustion. Jack could still feel the tremors that coursed through Daniel's body as he kept a hand on his friend's shoulder. Daniel finally closed his eyes, either falling asleep or passing out. Keyon checked a small instrument panel at the back of the chair and nodded.

"He sleeps," he informed Jack. "Come, we shall put him to bed."

- - - - - -

Jack was mighty tired of staring at the bare, white walls of the medical area, or at Daniel's unmoving form in the bed beside him. He glanced at his watch, noting that only several minutes had passed since the last time he'd checked.

Upon leaving the bridge three hours ago, Jack had ordered Teal'c and Carter to go work on the tel'tak's computers. He was tempted now to go and see what kind of progress they'd had, but he figured he'd be a hindrance to them more than anything. They'd let him know the moment they had some news.

Jack heard footsteps approaching and he straightened up from his bored slouch. Alden entered the room and came to join him.

"Your friend has impressed me," he said to Jack, looking down at the feverish man. "He gave much of himself today, unknowing that he, or we, were never in any danger."

"You knew all those ships were out there?"

"Yes. At first here were only two, but this Apophis did not show himself until the last of the vessels had arrived."

"So this was, what, a test?" Jack asked, a little angry with the Captain. He couldn't blame him, though. For all that Alden might have known, Jack and his team were really the enemy and the Goa'uld and Jaffa the good guys. Well, actually, to the snakes' point of view, that was the way they perceived things.

"A test, yes, partly," Alden replied. "But I also wished to see how far these Goa'uld would go. I must say they did not disappoint. From the tales I have heard so far in our explorations, they have been described fairly accurately."

"And for this you allowed Daniel to go through all that�" Jack couldn't help himself, he sneered the next question. "I bet you speak the Goa'uld's language."

Alden smiled gently. "Yes, I must admit I do. I regret now that I put Daniel through this grief. Your friend is truly special, that he gives so much of himself for the sake of others."

"Yeah, well, that's Daniel for you." Jack turned away from Alden and looked at his friend once more. He looked wasted now, the toll from that short time on the bridge having seeped all his remaining energy from him. Twin spots of color indicated a fever in a too-pale face. His breathing was shallow and rapid, and Keyon had replaced the portable oxygen mask with the clear plastic band which now stretched over the lower part of Daniel's face.

"So, did we pass your test?" Jack couldn't resist asking.

"Indeed. The caring and diligence of your team had already convinced us that you were trustworthy. There is one more thing I must admit to you, before you take your leave of us. The amnesia was deliberate, it is not a part of the healing process."

"Why am I not surprised," Jack grumped.

"Again, we wished to see how you would react when your truest selves were revealed. Your friend, Teal'c, had to be neutralized as the symbiote interfered with the process. And Daniel, as Keyon stated, will recover his memory as soon as he is stronger. Of that, you have my word.

"As restitution for what we have put you and your friends through, I will gladly take you to whatever planet you wish. Your navigational computers have located a nearby world with this Stargate you have spoken of. I shall take you there, or I will take you to your home planet, if you prefer.

"But believe me, it was always my intention to aid you. We did save your lives willingly, we are explorers, and have learned much with our time with you. It is my only regret that our schedule will not permit us to learn more about your people. So I have a proposition. Perhaps your team, or someone from your world, might wish to stay on my ship while we explore the galaxy, and we could both learn from one another, and at the same time, join us in our exploration. Once we are ready to leave, or at anytime prior to that should you so wish, we would arrange for your return home."

"That's a mighty tempting offer," Jack said, surprised. "But I don't have the authority to say yes or no. If you're willing to wait a little while, I will bring it up with my superior officer and perhaps he can assign a team of scientists and diplomats who would be happy to spend time gallivanting around the galaxy with you."

"I am willing to wait, Colonel." He smiled at Jack. "My wish would be that your team is the one assigned to my ship, but I assume that is not to be. Perhaps we will meet again, somewhere, in your galaxy."

He left quietly, leaving Jack alone with his thoughts. Jack was pretty sure Hammond would be agreeable to the offer, and would do everything in his power to get the President to agree to it. Just the possibility of learning about the superior shields and weaponry on this ship wasn't something the General was about to pass up. He was certain SG-1 wouldn't be the team assigned, though, and he was quite relieved about that. Although Daniel, on the other hand, would be disappointed, once his memory returned.

- - - - - -

He woke to waves of nausea punctuating hot, acrid bile that spewed from his mouth. Someone was supporting his head, while a cool cloth wiped the sweat from his face. When finally he was able to take a breath without choking, cool water dribbled into his mouth. He closed his eyes, and the swaying movements began again.

- - - - - -

He woke again as his stretcher was being positioned along several seats. Teal'c was leaning over him, fastening something at his waist. The large man rested a hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently, and smiling down at him.

"Rest easy, DanielJackson. You are safe."

- - - - - -

He moaned his discomfort as he was carried along uneven ground. The motion made him dizzy, threatening nausea once more. He felt a hand on his arm, and he turned his head. Jack was walking beside him; Teal'c was in front carrying the end of his stretcher.

"Hey," Jack said as he turned to look at Daniel. "Hang in there, we're almost home."

- - - - - -

They were moving up to a bright blue puddle of water, which stood sideways, defying gravity. He raised his arm, wanting to tell Jack that he was dreaming. Instead, Jack took hold of his hand and held on to it as they entered the fluctuating puddle. He went in, but didn't remember coming out the other end.

- - - - - -

The sounds were loud, the lights were bright, the area too crowded. Where was Keyon? Where was the quiet of the medical area? Shadows moved around him, a hand forced his eyes open and a bright light was shined into his eyes.

"Jack!" he called out repeatedly. Had their enemies captured his friends? He fought the hands that held him, growing weaker and weaker with each struggle. A loud, irritating noise nearby kept beeping more and more rapidly. The voices around him were strident, making his head ache.

"Jack!" he called out, his voice now only a whisper.

"Danny!" Jack's familiar figure pushed through the crowd of white-garbed strangers huddled around him, and his hand was enveloped by warm, callused fingers.

"It's okay, relax. You're safe, I'm here. Nobody's going to hurt you."

- - - - - -

Something was stuck into the back of his hand. There were tubes there, with needles at the end. He raised his other hand, intending to pull out the sharp implements when small, cool fingers caught his.

"Don't."

He turned to look at Sam, who wrapped her hands around his.

"Remember we said you needed blood? That was why you were sick?"

He remembered vaguely, and nodded.

"That's blood in those bags. Janet's already given you three of those; she said it was a miracle you were still alive."

Sam's smile was tremulous, her eyes strangely bright and shiny.

"You're gonna be okay. We're gonna be just fine."

- - - - - -

He woke up shivering, his body drenched in sweat. Impartial hands stripped him bare, a gentle voice explained his fever had broken and they were going to make him feel better. A warm, wet cloth washed the sweat away. He fell asleep again before the hands finished putting clean, dry clothes on his body.

- - - - - -

Voices surrounded him, but he relaxed when he made out Jack, Sam and Teal'c. They were talking to the one called Janet. He remembered his friends talking about her. Maybe he'd open his eyes and see who she was.

Later.

- - - - - -

Daniel stirred on the bed and Jack put down the paperwork that he'd been working on. He smiled at his friend, waiting for him to close his eyes again and go back to sleep, like he'd done for the past three days.

But instead, Daniel stretched and yawned. "I had the strangest dreams," he said as he turned onto his side, facing Jack.

"Really. Anything to do with furry aliens and Apophis?"

"No. That really happened." Daniel frowned up at Jack. "Didn't it?"

"Yeah, it did. You just missed the send off of our new ambassadorial/scientific team assigned to the Seddish."

"The furry aliens?"

Jack smiled. "Yep. They'll be roving the galaxy on their ship, trading cultural information, learning about one another."

"And getting the lowdown on those weapons they used against the Goa'uld?"

"That too."

"I guess General Hammond didn't have too much trouble convincing the President when those weapons were brought up."

"No, unfortunately, he�hey, you remember the General?"

Daniel smiled. "Yeah, I think I remember just about everything. This place is kinda like my home away from home, how can I not remember it?"

Jack laughed. "Hang on, I'm gonna go get the doc. She'll skin me alive if you fall asleep on her again knowing you've been awake for more than thirty seconds."

Jack returned with Fraiser and was relieved to find that Daniel hadn't gone back to sleep.

"Hello, Daniel," she said as she began checking him over. "How are you feeling?"

"Hungry, actually."

"He sounds fine to me," Jack teased. Daniel swatted his friend's arm, and Fraiser smiled at their banter.

"Hunger's a good sign. I'll go see what I can scrounge up for you," Fraiser said, having finished her examination and raising the head of Daniel's bed. Daniel sat up gingerly, Jack knowing from experience the discomfort of a Foley catheter.

"Just� no energy bars or MREs, if you don't mind?"

Jack looked innocently up at the ceiling. When he chanced a glance at the doc, she was looking at him with raised eyebrows.

"Well, the food there was really awful," Jack said, trying to explain. "We were all eating MREs, and we knew Daniel needed food� hey, he ate without complaint even when he wasn't hungry. Give me a break."

"I'm not saying anything, Colonel. I'm just amazed you got Daniel to eat in the condition he was in. And I promise, no MREs. How does some broth and Jello sound?"

Daniel made a face. "I take it back, MREs sound kinda tempting right now."

"I won't be long," Fraiser said with a smile.

Jack tilted his head, looking at his friend. "I guess I made quite an impression on you, huh?"

"Yeah, actually, you did. You were always there for me. At first I thought maybe I was your prisoner, but there was something in your face and your voice that was different when you spoke with Alden. I guess I trusted you, even without knowing you. Thanks for that, Jack."

"Hey, anytime. What are friends for?"

They sat in silent contemplation until Fraiser returned with a breakfast tray. As Daniel sipped the warm broth, Fraiser watched with an eagle eye to make sure he wasn't experiencing any discomfort. Once Daniel began to dig into his strawberry-flavored Jello, she winked at Jack and left them alone.

"Daniel!" Carter's voice showed her pleasure at seeing Daniel awake. She and Teal'c hurried towards them. She perched on the far side of the mattress and squeezed Daniel's leg, Teal'c standing beside her at the foot of the bed. "Janet called to say you were awake. You had us so worried."

"Sorry about that. But I feel a lot better." He brought a spoonful of Jello towards his mouth, frowning as the gelatinous glob threatened to topple from the spoon.

"You look much recovered," Teal'c said as he smiled down at their friend. "You have been asleep for three days. You should be feeling better."

"Three� three days?" Daniel exclaimed around his mouthful of Jello.

"Slept round the clock, and round, and round," Jack teased.

Daniel finished off the last of his meal, and picked up the glass of juice. He sniffed the contents, then took a small sip, obviously trying to digest the amount of time he'd lost.

"You know," Daniel said, placing the juice back onto the tray, "you guys were always talking about not remembering what our mission with the tel'tak was. I know now that we were supposed to meet a Tok'ra operative at specific coordinates�"

"You remember?" Jack exclaimed.

"You still don't?" Daniel looked around at the three of them, who all shook their heads.

"General Hammond filled us in when we got back," Carter explained. "But we all still have very little memory of the mission itself."

"That's strange. I know we waited out there for several hours, and then we discovered an object floating in space giving out some kind of signal. Well, actually, it's what we now know was a bomb." Daniel rubbed the back of his neck before taking another sip of juice. "But at the time we thought it was a message or a sign from the Tok'ra. Sam spent hours trying to figure out how to open it, with me trying to decipher the writing on it. Which, incidentally, reads the same as the bomb that was sent to the� Seddish ?"

Jack nodded at Daniel's uncertainty at the name of the race that had saved their lives and had played host to them.

"I guess Sam finally hit on the right pressure and twist combination, because suddenly the object began glowing and a panel with script began flashing on it. By the time I figured out it was counting down, I barely had time to push Sam out of the room and yell at you and Teal'c to get out. I remember activating the transport rings, but� things are a little� hazy, after that."

"I triggered the bomb?" Sam said in a small voice.

Daniel shifted his foot until it was pressing against her hip. "Hey, we didn't know it was a bomb, Sam. It was a trap. It wasn't your fault."

"But I triggered it, and I made you think you had when I remembered. I was responsible for your getting killed. For all of us dying."

"But I'm not dead. None of us are. And I'm guessing Apophis was sitting out there in his warship the whole time, gloating at our stupid Tau'ri curiosity getting the best of us. For all we know, he might have set the bomb off with a timer or remote control."

Jack saw Carter relax slightly at Daniel's words, the somewhat haunted look on her face fading.

"So why do you remember all of this, and we don't?" Jack asked.

"Perhaps we simply do not wish to remember," Teal'c said. "We all saw our friend die a horrible and painful death," he said, looking at Daniel. "It is my conjecture that we are all blocking that memory to avoid it."

Daniel tapped his fingers nervously against the glass, then looked up at Jack. "I don't remember much about the�dying, it's like bits of a dream. I do remember pain, and feeling very cold. But what comes across the strongest is being grateful that I wasn't alone." He held Jack's gaze for several seconds longer before turning to look at Carter and Teal'c.

Although Daniel still seemed willing to talk, Jack could tell his friend was tiring. His hand shook slightly as he drank the last of the juice, and he rubbed at his neck once more. Daniel closed his eyes and Carter caught Jack's eye.

"Daniel," she said softly. Daniel looked at her, his eyes half open. "You're tired. We'll let you rest. We'll come back after supper, okay?"

"Perhaps you will feel recovered enough soon to play a game of The Jackal and the Hound?" Teal'c suggested.

"Wait, don't go yet." Daniel shifted, trying to sit up straighter. "I want to thank you guys. You have no idea how scared I was when I was... fading." Daniel clutched the edge of the blanket, his knuckles sticking out sharply through the skin. He looked up at Jack. "There were times like I felt like I was adrift in the middle of nowhere, and I'd reach out and you were all there, anchoring me, reeling me back to safety. And I know you don't remember that part, but I meant what I said, about being grateful I wasn't alone at the end� you know, when I� died."

"We all perished on the ship, DanielJackson. Even though I have no recollection of the event, I am confident that my only regret would have been my inability to save my friends. But I am comforted to hear I was able to ease some of your fear."

"I remember," Jack said softly, reaching out and rubbing the back of Daniel's fisted hand. "It was one of my first memories."

"Oh." Daniel let go of the blanket, and when Jack removed his hand, Daniel started worrying at the worn edges.

"But as painful as that was to remember, I knew from the way we were trying to help you that..." Jack swallowed, the words seeming difficult to find. "With the� emotions I was feeling, that one memory of you convinced me that we were close, a team, a family. And that even though I didn't trust the Seddish, some of what they were saying was true. And that I knew I had to keep you safe, Daniel. Heck, I knew I had to keep all of you together, and that way I could keep you all safe. Like it was some ingrained part of me, knowing that our strength was in our ability to work together."

Daniel's face had paled, whether from his fatigue or from the emotions that he must have been experiencing. Jack reached for the bed's controls and began lowering the head.

"Get some rest, one of us will be here when you wake up."

Daniel nodded, closing his eyes for a moment as he shifted to make himself comfortable as the bed descended. "Teal'c, considering you won the last game of The Jackal and the Hound, I'll want a rematch soon."

"I look forward to it."

"Sam, bring your supper with you. We'll have a picnic here on my bed."

"It's a date," she replied as she leaned down to give him a quick peck on the cheek. Daniel put an arm around her and pulled her into a hug before she could straighten up. "It wasn't your fault, Sam," he said softly.

She nodded, and smiled. "Sleep well," she said when Daniel let her go.

"What he said, Carter," Jack told her when she straightened. "We couldn't have known it was a setup, and I'm betting that bomb wasn't on a timer. Apophis could have taken a shot at us any time he wanted. We were sitting ducks. He was probably counting on us to bring it home and setting it off here. He underestimated both Daniel's and your curiosity."

"I guess if you look at it that way, Sir."

"I do. You did good, all of you."

She nodded at Jack and Teal'c inclined his head before both left him alone with Daniel.

Jack adjusted the blankets around Daniel, who was watching him, half asleep. He picked up his discarded paperwork and began reading where he'd left off earlier.

"Jack?"

"Yeah, Danny?"

"Thanks. Just, thanks."

"Anytime."

He could see Daniel out of the corner of his eye, and his friend fought sleep for a minute or two. But soon his eyes closed, and his breathing slowed. When he was sure Daniel was asleep, Jack put the papers down and sat there looking at him. Even weak, sick and without memory of his team, Daniel had still accomplished that which most people would have had to work hard to achieve. They now had new allies, with the possibility of gaining new technologies to help fight against their sworn enemies.

Jack fought the frisson at the remembered feeling of Daniel slipping away from him as Jack had tried to comfort him in the frigid ship. His friend was alive, healing and getting stronger. He smiled to himself, and decided he and Teal'c would join Daniel and Carter for that impromptu picnic later that afternoon.

 

FINIS!


Author's Comments:

 The gang, as usual, has kept me on the straight and narrow, informing me with no holds barred if our Daniel isn't quite whumped enough. Thanks, guys!

My heartsisters, who have made me laugh and smile, and who I have come to rely on so much in my writing, always hold a special place in my heart.

And a special thanks to Mira, who as usual, has done a wonderful beta.

 

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DISCLAIMER:The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.

ether from his fatigue or from the emotions that he must have been experiencing. Jack reached for the bed's controls and began lowering the head.

"Get some rest, one of us will be here when you wake up."

Daniel nodded, closing his eyes for a moment as he shifted to make himself comfortable as the bed descended. "Teal'c, considering you won the last game of The Jackal and the Hound, I'll want a rematch soon."

"I look forward to it."

"Sam, bring your supper with you. We'll have a picnic here on my bed."

"It's a date," she replied as she leaned down to give him a quick peck on the cheek. Daniel put an arm around her and pulled her into a hug before she could straighten up. "It wasn't your fault, Sam," he said softly.

She nodded, and smiled. "Sleep well," she said when Daniel let her go.

"What he said, Carter," Jack told her when she straightened. "We couldn't have known it was a setup, and I'm betting that bomb wasn't on a timer. Apophis could have taken a shot at us any time he wanted. We were sitting ducks. He was probably counting on us to bring it home and setting it off here. He underestimated both Daniel's and your curiosity."

"I guess if you look at it that way, Sir."

"I do. You did good, all of you."

She nodded at Jack and Teal'c inclined his head before both left him alone with Daniel.

Jack adjusted the blankets around Daniel, who was watching him, half asleep. He picked up his discarded paperwork and began reading where he'd left off earlier.

"Jack?"

"Yeah, Danny?"

"Thanks. Just, thanks."

"Anytime."

He could see Daniel out of the corner of his eye, and his friend fought sleep for a minute or two. But soon his eyes closed, and his breathing slowed. When he was sure Daniel was asleep, Jack put the papers down and sat there looking at him. Even weak, sick and without memory of his team, Daniel had still accomplished that which most people would have had to work hard to achieve. They now had new allies, with the possibility of gaining new technologies to help fight against their sworn enemies.

Jack fought the frisson at the remembered feeling of Daniel slipping away from him as Jack had tried to comfort him in the frigid ship. His friend was alive, healing and getting stronger. He smiled to himself, and decided he and Teal'c would join Daniel and Carter for that impromptu picnic later that afternoon.

 

FINIS!


Author's Comments:

 The gang, as usual, has kept me on the straight and narrow, informing me with no holds barred if our Daniel isn't quite whumped enough. Thanks, guys!

My heartsisters, who have made me laugh and smile, and who I have come to rely on so much in my writing, always hold a special place in my heart.

And a special thanks to Mira, who as usual, has done a wonderful beta.

 

Top

to contact me

Home

 

 

DISCLAIMER:The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.