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DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and its characters do not belong to me. This is a work of fiction and no money has changed hands. This story has been written purely for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.
RATING: R (V) (L) ( Suggestion of Rape)
Set Season One:
"Sekhem represents the form of power of a man or woman. The Sekhem is associated with Hathor. Ones own individual power is reflected on one side of Hathors Mirror while the thoughts and energies of friends/enemies are reflected on the other." The Egyptian concept of Soul. (http://www.sacoriver.net/~anubis/soul.html)
For my daughter, Tate, who gave me the idea for the title and the story.
Betaed by Sue G and Luke 327, thank you both. The story is so much better due to your efforts.
Doctor Daniel Jackson looked up from his cluttered desk as two well built airmen walked into his office. Malone and Daniel searched his mind for the other mans name but he couldnt come up with it. He prided himself on his almost photographic memory but he had been working on this current translation for almost 48 hours straight and his weary brain was about to throw in the towel. Inscriptions had been found on the walls of two small pyramids on Altran, a small planet with a cultural basis still deeply ensconced in an Egyptian heritage.
He contented himself with his standard greeting. "Hi there, what can I do for you?"
Malone smirked at the archaeologist and winked slyly at his companion. "Captain Carter asked us to bring these readouts to you, Dr. Jackson. ASAP, that means as soon as possible."
Daniel smiled gently at the two men as he rubbed his smudged glasses on his shirtfront and put them on before squinting at the other mans name badge. "Thanks, Malone and Riley. I know what ASAP means. Im getting pretty good at picking up the military lingo."
He held out his hand for the thick sheaf of papers and cursed softly as Malones hand tipped up at the last minute and the notes cascaded to the floor.
"Sorry about that," Daniel apologized as he bent to pick up the scattered sheets. "Must be more tired than I realized. Ouch, shit," he exclaimed as his descending head connected soundly with Malones ascending kneecap, sending him sprawling backwards, his head thumping solidly against the corner of his desk.
He sat momentarily stunned, then rubbed the back of his head, frowning slightly when his fingers came away wet with blood.
"Gee, sorry Doctor Jackson," Malone said, humor evident in his voice as he extended a hand to help the archaeologist to his feet. "Dangerous place, military bases. Not the safest place for scientists to be, right, Riley?"
"Yeah, um right," Riley mumbled. "Are you sure youre okay, Doctor Jackson?" he asked quietly as Daniel swayed slightly.
Daniel pulled away from Malones grip and steadied himself by gripping the edge of the desk. "Yeah, Ill be fine, Airman."
"Well then, well leave you to it, Doctor Jackson," Malone said. "Watch your step, wouldnt want anything to happen to you."
"Is that a threat, Malone?" Daniel asked, trying to keep his voice steady as his eyesight blurred and wavered slightly.
"Course not," Malone snickered. "Accidents happen, just a few spilled papers, nothing threatening in that, is there, Riley?"
"Um, we should go." Riley squirmed uncomfortably, his eyes not leaving the floor. The two men turned and left the room. Daniel could hear laughter echo down the long empty corridor, Rileys voice sounding nervous and hesitant.
Daniel sat down heavily in his chair and reached for a tissue to blot at the stickiness on the back of his skull, wondering whether he should venture down to sickbay to get it checked out. The bleeding had almost stopped and aside from a pounding headache, probably brought on in equal measure by the blow to his head and two days and nights of reading, he felt fine.
Okay, he amended silently, not fine, just a little shaky.
He decided against sickbay, he still had an awful lot of research to get through before the team ventured off world the following day. The archaeologist figured he had three or four more hours of reading ahead of him, then he should be able to stretch out for a couple of hours sleep before the briefing at 7a.m. He sighed deeply and bent down once more to retrieve his scattered printouts.
Daniel awoke with a start and groaned as his neck protested the movement. Hed fallen asleep at his desk with his head cradled on his arms and his lanky frame was now stiff and sore. He had at least managed to translate the glyphs and was looking forward to returning to the planet to see if they could discover more on the history of the people who had built the pyramids. The local population, while friendly, refused to offer more information other than to say it was forbidden for them to speak of it.
Daniel stood and stretched extravagantly, then picked up his coffee cup and headed for the break-room. The room was deserted except for the two airmen from the night before and Daniel debated forgoing his coffee altogether. His caffeine addiction overrode his reluctance to mix with the two men and he made his way quickly over to the coffee machine. He groaned silently as he saw Malone stand and walk over to him. Concentrating on making his coffee, he felt the jogging of his arm and hissed as hot liquid soaked through his fatigues and burnt into his skin.
"Damn it," he exploded, his temper frayed by Malones attentions. "What the hell is your problem, Malone?"
The soldier shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. "No problem, Doctor Jackson. You walked into me, should be more careful and watch where youre going."
"I dont know what your beef is with me, Airman, but I suggest you get over it before I take it to your superiors," Daniel said, then he staggered as he was pushed back against the wall, the remaining liquid in the cup sloshing over his pants.
"Listen to me, you little faggot," Malone said menacingly, leaning into Daniels face, his breath hot and heavy. "Military barracks are not for scientists, its not my fault if you get in the way of the men here trying to do a job. I wouldnt advise you saying anything to anyone, Doctor Jackson, there are plenty of soldiers here whod be more than happy to give you a few self defense lessons, if you get my drift."
Daniel pushed Malones hands from his shoulders and sidled around the bigger man. "How about you keep to yourself, Malone and Ill do the same, okay?"
"Everything alright here?" Colonel Jack ONeill asked as he leaned casually against the doorframe, watching the proceedings with interest.
"Everythings fine, Jack," Daniel said calmly. "Airman Malone here accidentally knocked my arm, thats all. No big deal." He glanced down at his soaked clothes and grimaced. "Guess Id better change. Ill meet you in the briefing room in ten minutes." With a final hard look at Malone, Daniel pushed past the colonel and headed back to his office.
"You sure everythings okay, Daniel? Nothing here I can help you with?"
Daniel shook his head. "I can handle it, Jack. Please, just let it go."
Jack nodded and walked back to the break room. Hed been watching the tension brewing between some of the servicemen and knew many resented the presence of scientists on the base. Hell, he wasnt that fond of them himself but Daniel had proven himself several times to be more than capable in a crisis. Jack and several others owed the archaeologist a debt of thanks when his quick mind and encyclopedic knowledge of languages and cultures had extricated them from sticky situations. He was beginning to see General Hammonds reasoning in having nonmilitary experts working side by side with servicemen. Hed seen many examples where the two groups complemented each other.
He was quite sure Daniel would have no trouble talking his way out of his problem with Malone. Still, Jack thought, a quiet word in the airmans ear wouldnt go astray. Let him know where he stood. With that thought in mind, he sauntered into the breakroom and headed over in Malones direction, an easy smile on his face.
Both men stood stiffly to attention as Jack approached, Rileys eyes flickering nervously over him. Jack smiled a sly grin and perversely wheeled away from the two and made himself a cup of coffee, but did not tell the men to stand down. Blowing at the steam that curled from the cup, Jack walked up to the men and stood before them, eyeing them both as one would an interesting bug under a microscope. He smiled, complimenting himself on the obvious analogy.
"You having problems with Dr. Jackson, Malone?" Jack asked quietly.
Malone looked relieved at the friendliness in Jacks tone while Riley merely looked confused.
"No, sir, I dont have a problem with Dr. Jackson," Malone said, a knowing grin creeping across his face. "Just scientists, in general. I know you have similar ideas about their usefulness." Malone sniggered and Jack cursed the inane comment hed made to Sam Cater, when hed first come back to the SGC. Not only had he told her that he didnt like scientists, but hed said it in a room full of people. Both Sam and Daniel had proved him wrong in his judgement many times since then, and hed had reason often to regret the comment privately. Now, it seemed that the throwaway line had come back to bite him on the ass.
"How long have you been here, Malone?" Jack asked, placing his coffee cup on the table behind him.
"Right from the beginning, sir," Malone replied, more than a hint of pride evident in his voice.
"You started here under General West, didnt you?"
"Yes, sir, I did."
"The General wasnt known for his fondness for scientists either, was he?" Jack asked carefully. He watched Rileys eyes begin to bug out and revised his opinion that the man was only functioning with half a brain and was a pawn in Malones vindictive act against Daniel. Hed always thought Riley was decent enough though, in fact had caught him out once or twice defending female personnels honor from the advances of a drunken soldier. Malone, on the other hand, was well known around the base as a bigoted, arrogant bully, caught up in macho posturing and his own self importance.
Something nagged at Jacks memory, rumors of a secretive group who made a habit of hassling the non-military personnel, initiation was supposed to be sexual or physical harassment of some kind. Evidence had been scant and information on the gang even less however, because of the reluctance of victims to report the attacks.
Malones eyes narrowed. "Im not sure I know where youre going with this, sir."
Jack took a couple of steps forward, forcing both men to back up against the wall. "Leave Dr. Jackson alone. If I catch even a hint of you harassing him, or anyone else on this base again, Ill see to it you both face court martial. Thats if theres enough of you left to stand trial."
"Youd better be able to back that threat up with action, ONeill," Malone growled, his face suffused with an angry red.
"Oh, Ill back it up, Malone, dont worry. For now, well keep this conversation between us, is that understood, airmen?"
Malone pulled himself up to his impressive 6 feet 5 height, and saluted, his gesture sloppy and mocking. "Sir, yes, sir!"
Jack wheeled on his heel and walked out, not bothering to look back. If he hurried, he could catch General Hammond before they went off world again. He might have averted trouble for a while, but he didnt want to take any chances and he wouldnt be surprised if Malone took it upon himself to target Daniel, simply as payback.
Jacks satisfaction at halting the ugly situation before it got out of hand was tempered by the uneasy thought that a few short years ago, he would have been slapping these men on the back, buying them a beer and complimenting them on a job well done. A few short years, that is, BD. Before Daniel. Then he recanted that, knowing that he would never have condoned Malones behavior. The mans whole attitude to others made Jacks stomach churn.
"Look, General, theres got to be someone else we can take besides that goon, Malone."
"Im sorry, Colonel, but if youre not prepared to give me reasons for not wanting Airman Malone, then Im not going to accede to your request." General Hammond sat back in his chair and folded his arms across his chest.
He knew Jack ONeill well enough by now to know that the man would have a good reason for not wanting Malone along. The General had been on his side of the desk for too long not to know that the Stargate program was a thorn in the side of some of those higher up and Jack had made himself a few enemies there as well with his less than military attitude. George Hammond also knew whom hed want by his side in a crisis and he leaned forward, steepling his fingers on the desk and looked at that man now.
"Come on, Jack. Level with me here and Ill see if I can cut you some slack."
Jack groaned and scrubbed a hand through his cropped hair. "Okay, you know theres been some harassment of personnel going on."
The general nodded and interrupted. "Thats a pretty common occurrence on any military base." He raised a hand as Jack looked as though he would protest. "Im not saying Im condoning it, Colonel. Unless the victims themselves swear out complaints against their attackers, my hands are tied. Or if theres a witness to such an attack?" He raised an eyebrow questioningly at Jack.
"Daniel and Malone were having words in the break room. Im pretty sure Malones giving Daniel a hard time and Im convinced that hes the brain child behind the other attacks but I dont have any evidence."
"I told you I could handle it Jack, and I will."
Jack turned at the voice and saw Daniel leaning against the doorjamb. Sam Carter and Tealc stood just behind him. All three walked in at the Generals invitation and sat in the chairs he made available.
"Look, Daniel, Im sure you can handle it but if theres a problem, Id prefer to have someone who at least likes you to be watching your back."
"Dont treat me like a two year old, Jack," Daniel said angrily and even the General straightened in his chair in surprise. "What happened this morning was a simple accident, so just forget it. Im perfectly capable of looking after myself." He stood up and walked to the door. "Can we get going on this. Ive got a lot to study on Altran today."
With that, he walked out the door and moved rapidly down the corridor. Jack stood and looked at the startled expressions of the rest of his team. "Lets get going then."
Sam sidled up to Jack as they waited for the Stargate to power up. "Is Daniel okay, sir?"
Jack shrugged. "I dont know, Carter but do me a favor and keep an eye on him. Im going to watch Malone personally."
"Yes, sir," Sam answered. She moved up then to stand next to Daniel, offering him a friendly smile. Daniel grinned back and together they walked up the ramp and stepped through the gate.
Jack followed them with Tealc at his side. "If I can be of assistance in protecting Daniel Jackson, please tell me, ONeill," the tall Jaffa rumbled.
"Thanks, Tealc, I might just take you up on that," Jack said, slapping the other man on the back. "Lets get this over with, Ive got an awful feeling that this is far from finished."
Together, the two men approached the Stargate, Jacks discomfort at the man following him growing by the minute.
"They asked us to leave, sir. Aban said that we cannot be trusted and we have offended his people. Were no longer welcome here," Sam Carter answered, looking as puzzled as Jack felt.
"Oh, for crying out loud," Jack shouted. "Where is he? Ill go find out what the hell is going on."
"Abans in the temple, sir. Daniels talking to him, trying to find out what the problem is."
Jack felt an irrational anger flare at the mention of Daniels name and fought to clamp it down. It seemed like every bit of trouble he encountered today was attached to Daniel. The colonel hefted his pack and swung it from his shoulders to the ground. He motioned for Malone and Riley to stay near the gate and help Sam with the equipment.
"Come on, Tealc. Lets go see whats up with Aban."
The two men walked down the steep stone steps that led from the mounted platform that housed the Stargate and crossed the wide courtyard to the temple beyond.
"Daniel, what the hell did you do this time?"
Daniel started at the harsh tone, then pushed himself up from where hed been kneeling deep in conversation with the High Priest. The archaeologist walked back to Jack and Tealc, a worried frown deepening the lines of exhaustion already evident on his face. Hooking his hand under Jacks elbow, he turned the colonel back towards the entrance and motioned for Tealc to follow.
As they cleared the doorway, Jack wrenched his arm from Daniels grip and spun to face him.
"Whats the problem, Dr. Jackson?" he ground out, impatiently.
"Aban says that when the attendants came in yesterday to prepare for the feast of the Sahu, there were certain items missing from the altar."
Jack scrubbed a hand through his cropped hair and groaned. "And, of course, theyre blaming the tourists, right?"
"Right," Daniel agreed. "Well, it stands to reason, Jack. These are a very devout people. The Altrans entire life revolves around their faith. They are still firmly entrenched in, what to us, is a primitive time. Their beliefs closely follow the Egyptian concepts of the nine bodies bound as one." He paused for a moment, his elegant hands sketching the air ineffectually before descending to lie over his heart. "What we know as the soul."
Tealc nodded his agreement. "I concur with Daniel Jackson, Colonel ONeill. From what I have seen in other cultures such as this, the local villagers would be too afraid of incurring their Gods wrath. Even if one among them stole the items, he would have no hope of exchanging them for other valuables or food. His fellow men would give him up to the authorities in fear of attracting that same retaliation."
"Well, I know I didnt take any of their stuff," Jack said. "It doesnt go with my décor." Failing to raise even a chuckle from either man, he looked again at Daniel. "Those things they let you take, it was all above board, was it? Didnt get tempted to take a little sample, did you?"
Daniel raised shocked eyes to his friend. "I cant believe youd even think that, Jack."
Jack held his hands up in surrender. "Just checking, Daniel. Maybe you took something you didnt know was off-limits." Looking at Daniels angry face, he shook his head. "Why dont you go talk to Aban again. Tell him well leave now and get to the bottom of this."
Jack felt his anger flare once more as Daniel spoke. "For Gods sake, Daniel, just once, do as youre told. I could have sworn I was in charge here. No wonder Malone " His mouth closed with an audible snap as he fought to clamp down on the rage running rampant through him. Finally, he counted to ten quickly then took a deep breath. "Just do it, Daniel. Okay?"
Daniel nodded, his face suddenly pale. Then he turned away, going back into the temple.
Jack felt an enormous lassitude course through him. It was turning out to be a very bad day.
"With respect, sir, I resent the fact that we get accused of stealing this stuff just because were enlisted men." Malones words were directed at the General but he glared at Daniel as he spoke, his voice tight with anger.
Daniel shivered a little at the look and wished suddenly that Jack were here instead of down in the locker rooms, conducting a search.
General Hammond sighed. "At ease, Airman. You havent been accused of anything. Anyone who has been to Altran is being questioned and their personal effects searched."
"Why dont we just forget about it, General. Theres no reason for us to want to go back there. If you ask me, theyre no tactical use to us. Just dirty back woods kind of people, theyve got nothing to offer us."
"Theyve got a lot to offer us, Malone," Daniel interrupted. "Every planet we go to that has been affected by the Gouald in some way has information that may help us fight the Gouald or at least give us a method of removing them from their hosts."
Malone glared at him. "I dont need a lecture, Dr. Jackson," he spat. "If you ask me, if these people have got what we need, we should just go in and get it."
"Well, lucky for us, no ones asking you," Daniel replied.
The phone rang before the General could calm things between the two men and he turned to answer it.
Malone sidled closer to Daniels chair and bent down, his voice low. "You want to know what I think, Dr. Jackson? I think your wife went with Apophis because you werent man enough to give her what she needed."
Daniels temper flared and he was out of the chair and barreling Malone to the ground before anyone could react. Pain exploded up his arm as his fist connected with the soldiers jaw, then hands were on him, pulling him away, Hammonds voice loud in his ear as he ordered the two men away from each other.
"Dont you talk about her like that!" he shouted as he struggled to free himself from the restraining hands. His throat tightened and he choked as he fought back unwanted tears.
Malone scrambled to his feet with help from Riley and rubbed his jaw where a red mark was already forming. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, checking for damage before addressing Hammond. "Is that all, sir?"
"Dismissed, Airman, but I will be talking to you again. Do you need to report to the infirmary?"
Malone snorted then shook his head. "No sir, Im fine."
As the men left, Hammond spun to look at Daniel. "Do you want to tell me what the hell that was about, Dr. Jackson?"
Daniel shook his head and cradled his throbbing fist against his chest. "Its private, General."
The general glowered at him, then sighed, knowing hed get nothing further from the man. "Get this thing between you and Malone sorted out. I will not allow personal grudges or prejudices to undermine the task at hand. Ill stand Malone down and reassign Riley to another duty roster pending an investigation."
Daniel nodded and headed for the door.
Daniel looked back as Hammond motioned at his bleeding knuckles. "Get your hand attended to."
The archeologist shook his head. "Its fine," he said softly. He pushed past a surprised Jack who had just been apprised of the ruckus by a shocked Samantha Carter.
George Hammond sank back wearily into his chair and looked at ONeill. "Anything, Colonel?"
"No sir, nothing in any of the lockers."
Jack looked back to see Daniel stride angrily to the elevator and punch the button. He gestured with his thumb. "Do you mind if I ?"
"Get to the bottom of this, Jack."
Jack paused at the entrance to Daniels office and contemplated knocking. An image of the archaeologists furious features flashed into his head and he shrugged and pushed open the door.
Daniel sat at his desk, his head, face down, pillowed on his forearms. He didnt acknowledge Jacks presence and the Colonel wondered if he might be asleep. He wandered over to the desk and picked up a small funerary statue, then placed it back on the desk with a solid thunk.
"Come to gloat, have you?" Daniels voice came soft and slightly muffled from the cocoon of his arms.
"Usually its you getting ripped a new one by Hammond."
"Ouch," Jack said, frowning at the abrasions and swelling across the knuckles of Daniels right hand.
"Look, Jack, Im sorry if Ive hurt your feelings but Im a little angry right now and Id appreciate you leaving me alone."
"No, I meant Ouch, as in your hand," Jack replied.
"What?" Daniel asked, finally looking up, his face flushed and sweaty from his attempt to hide away from the world. "Oh, its fine." He flexed his fist carefully, wincing slightly and failing miserably to cover it up. "Okay then, it hurts like hell, all right. Happy now?"
"No, but I will be after Ive patched you up." Jack held a hand up as Daniels mouth opened. "You wont go to sickbay, sickbay will come to you. Besides Ive got a lot better bedside manner than Frasier does."
Seeing the dubious expression on his friends face, he relented. "Okay, the General asked me to come talk to you and I thought while I was at it, Id patch you up."
He pulled a small first aid kit from behind his back and waved it in Daniels face. When Daniel didnt answer, he sighed and pulled up a chair, reaching out to gently take the bruised hand in his. He used some premoistened wipes to clean the dried blood from the split knuckles, then applied a sliver of antibiotic cream.
Daniel was silent as he worked, hissing slightly as the wipes caused the flesh to sting.
"Jeez, Daniel, youre going to have to let me give you some boxing lessons," Jack said, smiling slightly. "If youre going to go around punching out the non-coms, its a good idea not to hurt yourself in the process."
"Thanks, but its not something I want to make a habit of," Daniel replied. He sat back in the chair once Jack was finished and cradled his hand to his chest.
"So," Jack said. "Now the good part. What the fuck was all that about, Daniel?"
"I already told you it was nothing and I can handle it."
"How do you handle nothing?" Jack asked.
"Okay, then, Malone has been on my back for a while, but I can handle it," Daniel amended. "Its not as though this is new territory for me. From the day I put on my first pair of glasses and picked up a book instead of a football, Ive been dealing with Malones kind of shit."
"Theres no shame in letting a friend back you up, you know."
"If I do that, Jack, hell never let up," Daniel said. He got up from the desk and walked over to pour more coffee. Turning, he offered Jack a cup.
"No, thanks. Im going to head home for some shuteye. See if I cant come up with a solution to this thing with Aban."
"Youre going to play mediator?" Daniel looked skeptical.
"Yeah, well, our cultural liaison officer seems to have his mind on other things right now."
Daniel had the grace to look abashed.
Jack yawned mightily, then stood up to leave. "Look, Daniel, just keep in mind that youre not the only one being harassed by Malone and his buddies. If Malone isnt stopped soon, its only a matter of time before someone gets hurt. If anything else happens, go see the general, or come to me, okay?"
Daniel nodded. "Okay. Thanks, Jack."
Jack smiled and headed for the door. "Get some sleep, Daniel. I have a feeling Im going to need you in the morning."
Daniel sat back in his chair and stretched mightily, then cracked a jaw-popping yawn.
Hed stayed up all night working on the last texts that hed been given by Aban, hoping to glean some more information regarding the origin of the Altrans and whether they had a history with the Gouald. The information he was slowly deciphering and the nature of their religious beliefs gave him cause to think that they were linked to Hathor. Just the thought of the name caused him to shudder with revulsion.
The Altrans however had proven to be incredibly reticent in sharing any knowledge of their heritage. Jack had eventually convinced them, in what Daniel considered to be a particularly sneaky and underhanded move, that if they allowed Daniel to read the texts from the pyramid, then they werent freely offering information on what to them was a taboo subject. Daniel just hoped that the tactic would not bring Hathor or any other Goualds wrath down upon the peace loving Altrans.
Despite his overwhelming need to discover some way of finding Shauri and removing the Gouald from within her, Daniel worried more each day whether their forays onto other worlds was not more damaging than it was helpful. He knew it was only a matter of time before their presence would lead to a catastrophe of one kind or another.
He shook his head as though to banish the morbid thoughts and got to his feet to pour himself another cup of coffee. He doubted hed get any sleep tonight but he was so close to unearthing the mysteries of the Altrans. He knew too that if they didnt find the person responsible for the theft of the items from the temple by morning, chances were strong that Aban would demand the texts and other artifacts back and perhaps even ban them from ever returning.
Disappointed to discover his coffeepot was empty, he made his way out into the corridor leading to the break room to replenish the water. The walk would clear his head a little and refresh his thoughts.
He was halfway up the passageway when he heard a soft voice calling to him from the darkness of a linking corridor.
Daniel turned in the direction of the voice, squinting in the dim light. "Who is it?"
A figure detached itself from the adjoining corridor and stepped into the light. "Its me, Airman Riley. I wondered if I could talk to you?"
"Its late, Airman," Daniel said, fighting back another yawn. "Cant it wait until morning? Ive still got a lot of work to finish up."
"Its about the theft from the temple, Dr. Jackson." Riley looked around fearfully as though the walls had ears and Daniel felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise up.
"What do you know about that, Riley? You should be talking to General Hammond or Colonel ONeill."
Riley shook his head vehemently and sidled up closer to Daniel. "If he finds out Ive ratted on him, hell kill me. I can show you where hes hidden the stuff too."
"Not here," Riley whispered. Taking a firm grasp on Daniels elbow, he began to push him along the corridor hed just emerged from. "The stuffs in a storage room. Ill show you. Just let me leave first, then you can call the General."
Riley didnt wait for Daniels agreement but simply moved him forward, then punched the button for the elevator that led to the sub levels. The door opened straight away and he ushered Daniel in. Daniel felt his stomach do a slow somersault that left him feeling queasy and he had a feeling that it wasnt entirely due to the rapid downward motion of the elevator.
As they exited the elevator, Daniels nervousness was appeased somewhat by the presence of two security guards, who stood to attention at the far end of the corridor. Riley continued to push him along until they came to a large storage room. He pushed open the door and motioned Daniel through.
Daniel paused with a restraining hand on Rileys arm. "Look, I really think we should let Colonel ONeill handle this."
"Were here now," Riley said softly. "Wont hurt for you to take a look. My buddies there will let us know if anyone is coming."
Daniel didnt feel any relief at Rileys words but reluctantly followed the soldier into the darkened room. After he had walked three or four paces, Riley moved away rapidly. "Stop there while I get the light."
Daniel nodded, then stiffened as he noted movement directly behind him. As he began to turn to face the intruder, a rough cloth hood was thrown over his head and his arms were pulled tightly behind his back. He panicked as the overwhelming blackness seemed to suffocate him but as he opened his mouth to cry out, a hard fist to his stomach stole his breath.
He felt his knees give out as punch after punch was delivered to his stomach and chest and he fought to catch his breath. He was given no time to recover from the onslaught before a particularly brutal blow to his face caused his vision to gray out. Suddenly the hands left him and he dropped heavily to the concrete floor, the remaining air in his lungs driven from him in a low groan.
Then the torture was back, in the shape of heavy steel capped boots that showed no preference for where they landed. Several kicks crashed into his face and he could feel his eyes already swelling, his lips and tongue leaking blood where he had bitten them. The assault continued for several more minutes but Daniel was no longer registering the single blows. His entire body was a mass of pain, every nerve seeming to writhe in its own private agony.
He was not even aware when they had stopped until he felt someone roll him to his back, one arm thumping to the ground causing a single streak of fire to run the course of his entire body and causing him to cry out weakly.
He began to struggle in terror when he felt rough eager hands at his pants but he had no strength left to protest. As though from a great distance, he heard several voices at once.
"Just hold his legs up."
"No way, man. I am not getting involved in that."
"Yeah, Im with him. You said you wanted to teach him a lesson, but thats going too far. I didnt think you liked that stuff."
"Fine, get out all of you. Ill finish the job myself. Little faggots just getting whats coming to him. You remember our agreement; well split the stuff up tomorrow night at my place. Then everyone is on their own."
Then a familiar voice sounded close to his ear, though his whirling thoughts would not give it recognition.
"Dont bother pretending to fight. I know you like this. Thats why your whore of a wife left you, went to find herself a real man."
The voice became muffled and Daniel allowed the darkness to carry him away. He slammed back to consciousness with a hoarse scream of agony as he felt his legs pulled up toward his chest and something hard rammed into his center and threatened to tear him in two.
Jack arrived back at Cheyenne Mountain at 6a.m.feeling no better than when he had left. Hed tossed and turned most of the night trying to come up with a solution to their problem with the Altrans. His reasoning had constantly been thwarted by other concerns crowding his mind and pulling his thoughts back to Daniel and Malone.
Despite Daniels insistence that he could handle the soldiers unwanted harassment, Jack held a very real concern that Malones vindictiveness toward Daniel appeared to be escalating and if something were not done very soon, blood would be spilled.
Jack was also reasonably sure that Malone was involved somehow in the theft of the relics from Altran, although a search of his quarters and personal locker had revealed nothing. He decided to approach Tealc with the suggestion of a little late night surveillance work, now that Malone had been suspended from duty. Maybe Malone would slip up.
First of all, though, he proposed to put some pressure on Riley. Jack was sure that Malone had some kind of hold over Riley and he resolved to do a background check on the man as soon as he got back to the base.
That brought him back full circle to his initial problem and Jack gave up the pretense of sleep and dressed quickly in the gray dawn of morning. He knew of only one way to keep Aban and his friends on side until he could discover the whereabouts of the holy items. He needed to grovel and for that he needed the full and undivided attention of one Daniel Jackson, master in the art of appeasing the natives.
Daniels office was empty and Jack headed up the corridor planning to stop by and see if Sam or Tealc had seen him. He stepped back as the elevator doors opened as soon as he punched the button and Riley ran out of the car looking as though the devil himself were after him. The airmans face was ghost-white and soaked with sweat, his breathing coming hard and rapid.
"Whats the problem, Riley?" Jack asked, grabbing the mans arm and halting his progress past him.
"Too far," Riley whimpered. "Hes gone too far, hes crazy."
His knees buckled and he began to slide slowly to the floor, his frightened moans becoming tremors that shook his whole body. Jack hauled him back up by the lapels of his shirt and pushed him back to lean against the wall.
"Whats going on, Riley? Whos gone too far?"
Riley continued to mumble somewhat incoherently, his staring eyes fixed on a point over Jacks shoulder and Jack shook him impatiently. "Answer me, Riley."
When he still failed to get a response, Jack opted for a more direct approach. "Wheres Malone?"
"What?" Rileys eyes finally snapped back to Jacks face, his pale features taking on a less confused look. "Storage area 4. Hes crazy. He made me help him. He knew I took the things from the Temple. Said hed turn me in if I didnt help him get Jackson."
Jacks body tensed at the mention of Daniels name. "Wheres Dr. Jackson, Riley?"
"Malones got him."
Jack let the whimpering man slip to the floor and watched as he curled in on himself. He slammed his hand down on the alarm button and ran for the stairs, gesturing over his shoulder as two security guards approached with weapons drawn. "Take him into custody and get a security detail and medical team down to storage area 4 on the double. Detain Airman John Malone for questioning."
Not waiting to see the men acknowledge the order, Jack pushed the stairwell door open and threw himself downward at full pelt. He slowed as he reached the exit to the sub-level, and drew his sidearm, then pressed himself against the wall as he reached out and slowly pushed open the door. He risked a quick look into the corridor but could see instantly that it was deserted. He crept out of the stairwell and began to make his way along the passageway, methodically checking each storeroom as he passed, constantly looking behind him for signs of either Malone or Daniel.
The snick of a lock just ahead alerted him to company and he moved rapidly to take cover around the corner. He watched as Malone exited the small room, first wiping the doorknob over with a rag before scrubbing in some agitation at his hands then stuffing the bloody cloth into his pocket. Jack heard the thunder of approaching feet and as Malone looked around in panic, he stepped out from his hiding place.
"Hold it, Malone. Stay right where you are," Jack commanded.
Malone sneered at him. "I knew I couldnt trust the little weasel. You know it was Riley, who stole the things from Altran, dont you?" he asked as he began to shuffle slowly back the way he had come.
"Dont move, Malone," Jack ordered again. "Get down on the floor."
Malone began to shake now. "Riley and Jackson were in it together. I found the stuff in there. I was coming to report it." He motioned over his shoulder then threw himself sideways suddenly, his hand a blur as it moved to reach for his sidearm. Jack fired once as Malones hand came up with his weapon already firing and the soldier flew backwards to land in a sprawled heap, his sightless eyes staring vacantly upward, blood streaming from a hole in his chest.
Jack moved quickly around the body, stopping only momentarily to call out to the approaching security detail to secure the scene. He pushed open the door and moved slowly into the darkened storeroom.
There was no reply to his call and he squinted in the darkness before feeling around for the wall switch. As light brightened the room, Jack stood frozen to the spot at the sight before him, bile rising rapidly into his throat.
"Oh Jesus," he whispered hoarsely.
Giving himself a strong mental shake, he moved forward rapidly and knelt at the archaeologists side. His shaking hands wavered helplessly over the shuddering body before finally coming to rest on Daniels head. A black cloth hood covered Daniels features and Jack took a slow deep breath as he pulled it gently away.
"Daniel?" he whispered.
Daniel moaned softly, and shifted slightly on the cold floor, the movement causing him to arch his back in agony as a hoarse scream was torn from his throat.
"Easy, buddy, helps on the way," Jack soothed as he pulled off his jacket and draped it over Daniels naked body, the nausea threatening to overwhelm him as he made out the word faggot smeared in blood over his friends torso.
Daniels scraped hand caught at his own and he bent low to catch the whispered words. "Please Jack, out."
Jack shook his head. "Out? Danny, I dont know "
He watched as Daniel shifted once more, biting back another cry of pain. "Get it out, Jack, please."
Jacks eyes traveled the length of the beaten body and his eyes widened in revulsion and shock as he spied the metal cylinder protruding from between Daniels thighs.
"Oh God, Daniel," Jack said, beginning to rise to his feet. "Ill get Frasier."
"No," Daniels protest was full of anguish as he reached once more for Jacks hand. "Dont let them see. Please, you take it out."
Jack looked up as a sudden noise at the door caught his attention and Tealcs head appeared around the edge.
"Give us a minute, Tealc. Dont let anyone in until I say so."
Tealc inclined his head and disappeared from sight and Jack looked back down at Daniel.
"I could make things worse if I remove it. It would be best to leave it for Frasier to take out. You could bleed to death."
Daniel was already shaking his head. "Take it out," he repeated. "Take the words off too." He indicated the bloody writing on his chest and began to wipe at it with a shaky hand, the still wet blood smearing grotesquely across his body. He looked up at Jack as tears began to track slowly down his cheeks, leaving a white trail amidst the blood and bruises. "Please."
"Okay, Danny, okay."
Jack searched the shelves above him then in frustration, pulled Daniels discarded shirt toward him and wadded it up. He wiped gently over the blood stained torso, relieved to see that the words had only been smeared there and not carved into the skin as he had first feared. He stroked Daniels sweat damp hair back from his face and soothed him softly as the archaeologist quietly sobbed his distress.
Without preamble, not wanting to think about what he was about to do, he took a deep breath and wrapped the smooth metal of the cylinder in another portion of the shirt. He grasped it firmly and pulled it from Daniels body, desperately trying to block out Daniels moans of pain. He watched in apprehension then relief as only a small trickle of blood ran down Daniels thighs, and released a shuddering breath, feeling the sweat on his body turn cold.
"Oh God, oh God. Thank you, Jack," Daniel whispered, his eyes finally closing and his grip on Jacks hand relaxing as he slipped into unconsciousness.
Jack wiped impatiently at the tears that wet his cheeks and continued to stroke Daniels head.
"Tealc, I need a medical team in here now."
Jack stood and allowed himself to be pushed back as Frasier and her team took over and Daniel was lifted gently on to a stretcher before being rushed from the room. As the doctor stood to follow her team, Jack pulled her aside.
"He was raped," he said softly, his voice breaking, "with this." He held up the cylinder recognizing it now as one of the containers that had held papyrus texts from Altran. This time he didnt fight the nausea that rose up in waves. He ran from the room and just made it to a nearby restroom before the heaving threatened to rip his insides out.
Jack sat forward and placed a hand over Daniels as the other man began to shift restlessly in the bed. He watched as blue eyes made cloudy from drugs opened slowly, then shut again. He stroked along Daniels hand, hoping that his presence would soothe him back to sleep.
As he began to lean back in his chair to resume his vigil once more, Daniels hand clenched in his, then his body arched as he flailed weakly about, the return to consciousness bringing with it remembered terror and the agony of his injuries. The monitor next to the bed set up a frantic beeping and Jack struggled to hold the frightened man still without further aggravating his pain or pulling loose the myriad tubes that snaked across his body.
"Shh, Daniel, easy, easy. Youre safe now. Its over." He continued to repeat the calming litany, lifting one hand from its hold on Daniels shoulder to halt the medical staff he could hear scrambling up behind him. Jack watched out of the corner of his eye as Janet dismissed the nurses and then moved silently up to stand by him, taking Daniels wrist in one hand to check his pulse.
"Everything okay?" she whispered.
Jack nodded and sat on the side of the bed, shifting his comforting stroke to Daniels forehead as he relaxed back into the pillows, his breathing evening out once more.
"Ill send a nurse in with some pain relief for him in about ten minutes but Ill withhold the sedation for a while. See if he settles down," the doctor said.
Jack nodded again, not willing to take his eyes from his sleeping friends face.
Janet patted Jacks shoulder and left. "Let me know if you need anything."
Daniel slept through the rest of the night, waking sporadically to mumble incoherently in his sleep and moan softly when the pain became unbearable.
Jack sat at his bedside, watching him sleep and catalogued the damage caused by Malone and his gang.
The archaeologist had been beaten with fists and boots, one eye was almost swollen shut, his left cheekbone fractured and the skin over it split. Most of his ribs and abdomen were deeply bruised as were his kidneys necessitating a catheter to remove the bloodstained waste from his body. His left arm was broken and immobilized in an incongruously bright blue fiberglass cast. Then there were the injuries caused by the rape.
Jack shuddered and felt the burning of bile rise once more in his throat as he remembered pulling the cylinder from Daniels trembling body. Janet had said that the physical damage was minor, a few stitches, some bruising. Jack didnt need to be told the extent of the psychological damage inflicted. He was certain it was reflected in his own eyes.
Riley had been interviewed whilst Daniel was in surgery and confessed the ugly story of greed ill met by jealousy and hatred. Jack was surprised to learn that Malone had not been involved in the theft of the Altrans precious items. Riley had recognized the gold and precious stones inlaid on the altar sacraments and had decided to fence them in order to settle a longstanding gambling debt with a local moneylender.
Malone had caught Riley trying to stash the gear in the storeroom and blackmailed the soldier into sharing the wealth.
When Malone decided to get back at Daniel, who he blamed for his suspension, he threatened Riley with exposure once more unless he lured Daniel into the trap. As part of John Malones base of bigots, the security guards had been ordered by him to participate in Daniels beating to prove their allegiance to the secret society and its leader. Riley was ordered to join in as well, Malone thus ensuring that the other three would be equally guilty and not likely to turn him in.
Malone had not counted on Rileys squeamishness when his thoughts had turned to rape to better teach Jackson a lesson.
Riley had decided that a jail term for theft was preferable to one for attempted murder and rape and his lawyer was already setting up plea bargains. Jack was more than willing to let the bastard fry in Hell for his part in Daniels assault but had backed down when he was made aware that Rileys confession meant that Daniel would not have to testify.
He was startled from his revelry to feel a hand squeezing his and he looked over to see swollen blue eyes gazing steadily at him.
"Hey," he said quietly.
Daniels eyes crinkled as he smiled and he winced at the action. "Over?" he whispered just loud enough for Jack to hear.
"Yep, its over," Jack said, nodding, the relief evident in his voice.
Daniel was obviously restricted to one-word questions for now and Jack sought to reassure him. "Hes dead, Daniel. He pulled a gun, I had to shoot him."
Daniel nodded slowly, then closed his eyes once more. "He raped me."
"Itll be okay, Daniel. Well get through this," Jack replied.
"Youll help me?"
The room was silent for a time, and then Daniel spoke again. "What about the Altrans?"
"We got lucky there," Jack said.
Daniels eyes opened briefly and watched him quizzically.
"Riley had the goodies stashed in the storeroom where they . Well, where we found you. All present and accounted for. I gotta admit, Danny, I was getting worried there for a bit. Thought I was going to have to do something that is totally alien to a guy with my capabilities. I was prepared to do it though, for the safety of this great nation."
"I was going to send you over there to grovel a bit," Jack said, a ghost of a smile flitting across his weary face.
"Jack!" Daniel admonished, wincing as increased movement reminded him of his injuries.
"Face it, buddy, you do it so much better than I do. Anyway, Ive got a reputation to defend." Jack sat back and smiled at Daniel, relieved that he could deflect Daniels memories for a short while at least. There would be plenty of time later to face the emotional demons, and hed be there to help him through it.
Janet paused on her way in to check on her patients condition and listened to the soft but welcome sound of lighthearted bantering coming from the cubicle.
Given time, care and Colonel Jack ONeill, she was confident that Daniel would indeed be okay.
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