A land of endless dunes stretched out before a lone figure. She stood stock still, just staring over them. Her clothes, robes of brown that blended with the sand, billowed around her. Her honey colored hair, streaks of blond and brown blending together, blew in the wind behind her, sometimes straying in front of her and whipping her across the face. Aqua eyes stared across the dunes as if searching for some sign. The desert was vast and dry, not exactly her type of place when it came down to it. She preferred rolling hills of green, but this was the place that had held a part of his heart. It was no surprise that he had tried to save it.
Behind her a voice commented, “What he did was wrong.”
“Was it?” Tara turned to the being that had just joined her. “Not standing by when a whole planet was going to be destroyed? For some reason that feels right to me.”
“We are not supposed to involve ourselves. That is one of the rules.”
“Then why are we around if all we do is watch and not help? What kind of existence is that?” Hugging herself, Tara whispered, “Where we came from, if you could help, you did.”
“It is the rule. You know that.”
“And you never break rules?” Tara looked at the desert around her again and slowly smiled. “You helped the people here. I’m sure that was getting involved.”
“And what would you have me do about all this?”
“Allow him to continue ‘his’ journey, not that of ours.”
“Ours?” The being lifted a sculpted eyebrow. Shaking her head, she made sure she held Tara’s gaze. “The Others are allowing him to go back to a human existence, that is his punishment. What he does with this journey can be none of my doing, for I have intervened on his behalf already.”
Slowly nodding, Tara stated, “I understand.”
“There is a fine line. I would suggest not crossing it like he did.”
In front of Tara the woman transformed into a light of whisps. Watching it float into the sky and then disappear, Tara turned back to the direction she had been staring at. Her hand stretched out, more for show than anything, and in front of her appeared a large pyramid. Sighing, she whispered, “Danny would want them to know.”
Arrom lay quietly in the tent that had been set up for him. Candles burned around him, comforting him. Their glow soothed him, and he stared at them in wonder. What was it about them? What was their significance? Closing his eyes, he tried to understand, to come up with a picture that would describe the feeling they gave him. He came up blank, as he had been all day. There was nothing of his life that he could remember. Turning away from the candles, he sighed and then tried to shut everything away, along with his frustration.
As he drifted asleep a woman walked into the tent, glancing around as if checking to make sure no one was seeing her. Her eyes took in the candles burning and a smile formed on her lips. One by one the flames seemed to go out by themselves. Taking soft steps towards him, she leaned down. Pulling back her long hair with one hand, she leaned down towards him. Her lips brushed right through the top of his cheek, pretty close to his ear. Then, moving over his ear, she whispered, “Remember.”
Jonas Quinn sat in the office that had once belonged to Dr. Daniel Jackson. In front of him sat several pictures and papers on the language found at the library of the four races. Among the pile was also the stone tablet found in the pyramid on Abydos. A strange breeze filled the room, but Jonas didn’t notice it. Instead, he kept his attention on the script in front of him, his hand playing with his tall mug of coffee. Then, slowly getting up, he went to the shelf, pulling out a book. Opening the book, he ran his gaze down the pages, a grin spreading across his face. In a split second he was running down the hall, “I got it!” echoing through the corridor.
From a darkened corner of the office, seemingly out of nowhere, stepped forward a woman dressed in civilian clothes. Walking to the desk, she studied the tablet and then slowly smiled. She knew exactly what he had found. Hadn’t she whispered it in his ear earlier, planting the seed? Then again, his translation would be wrong, but it was close enough for them to not know the difference. All that mattered to her was that they found their supposed ‘City of the Lost.’
Pushing a branch out of his way on a walk to gather his thoughts, Arrom came out of a wooded area into what looked to be a clearing. At the edge of the clearing stood a woman, her back to him as she stared at a pond in front of her. For a second he didn’t move, not sure if he should interrupt her thoughts or not. An itching feeling at the back of his mind kept on nagging him, as if he couldn’t help but want to talk to her. Was it that he should know her or that he had the type of personality that wanted to meet people? He opened his mouth, about to talk when…
“Are you lost?”
The woman turned, and her bright eyes bore into him. A smile played on full lips as if she knew something she couldn’t share with him. “I know where I am, or at least how to get back to the village.”
“You’re new around here?” she asked.
It sounded like a question but for some reason he thought with her it might be more of a statement. “I think you know that.”
“When a new person arrives, we all know.” Tilting her head to the side, she added, “Did you come through the Stargate?”
“No. Do many people come through to this world?”
Simply smiling at him, she remarked, “People come and go.”
Arrom started to reach out for her, pausing as she backed away. “I won’t hurt you.”
“It isn’t about trust.” Tucking hair behind her ear, she then started to walk off. “I must return home.”
“You live in the village?”
As she walked off he started thinking of one of her questions. She had asked about the Stargate, but hadn’t all the villagers called it the Chappa’ai? Then again, even though he had walked by the Chappa’ai on his walk, how had he put a name to it, let alone known that it was also called a Stargate? Turning to ask, he looked towards where she had walked away. There was no sign of her, not even a branch swaying from her walking into the woods. Then turning back to where she had stood, he froze. On the ground were several stones positioned to where they spelled out a name: Danny.
For several minutes he stood, just staring. Arrom knew that there was some significance in what he was seeing, as there was with the girl, but he just couldn’t place it. Running a hand through his hair, he turned and headed back towards the village, taking the route towards the Chappa’ai – a large, round, freestanding, stone structure.
As he neared the Chappa’ai, Arrom slowed as a voice remarked, “Maintain a secure perimeter, 50 meters radius from the gate.”
A female voice added, “Yes, sir.”
Arrom stepped forward, closer to the structure, when he noted people raising their guns at him. “Sir…” one of them was stating. Then, as if they knew him as someone safe, they lowered their guns.
Colonel Jack O’Neill stood in the middle of a town square on a planet that Jonas had theorized was home to the ‘Lost City.’ All around him were structures of clay, almost like terracotta. Villagers stood to the side, talking amongst themselves about their new arrivals. It was a scene that Jack was used to, but still gave him a feeling of unease at the same time. From one of the arches leading out of the square he heard the familiar voice of a villager he had already spoken to and watched him emerge into the square with an older man of white hair and a slight beard. “They are travelers like us. They say they are friends.”
The older man, dressed in robes of black and light blue, eyed Jack and commented as they approached, “No one can be a friend if you know not whether to trust them.”
As if he was pointing out something, Jack remarked back, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
The man countered back, “Enemies’ promises were made to be broken.”
“And yet,” Jack smiled sarcastically and nodded to his friends, “honesty is the best policy.”
“He that has too many friends has none,” the man stoically replied.
“Ah, but…” What would he say now? “…birds of a feather.” He grinned, proud of what he came up with as the rest of his team merely looked at him as if he was being strange in his usual ‘Colonel O’Neill’ way.
“I’m unfamiliar with that story.” The man looked a bit interested and perplexed. Stepping closer, he asked, “What lesson does it teach?”
“It has to do with flocking…” Jack tried to look like he knew what he was talking about, but he was searching for an explanation. “…and togetherness… and… to be honest, I’m not familiar with the particulars myself. The point is we’re not your enemy. Give us a chance to prove it.” By now he was back to being serious, Colonel O’Neill, in his element and not trading sayings back and forth with the natives.
From where they had entered the village square earlier, steps leading down into the area, Pierce called out, “Colonel, we found something you might want to see.” The rest of his group came down the steps behind him, and then, following, was a familiar face dressed in robes of blue – Daniel Jackson.
Walking forward, Jack, not sure what to say, asked hesitantly, “Daniel?”
As Daniel walked down to meet them, a strange look of detachment on his face, the older man from the square supplied, “Arrom.”
“Arrom?” asked Jack, turning to the man.
“It’s what we call him,” answered the villager that Jack had first talked to.
“It means naked one,” the old man supplied.
The villager continued, “It is how we found him in the forest two moons ago.”
“Seems he doesn’t remember who he is,” explained Pierce.
“Daniel?” Carter slowly stepped forward. After losing such a great friend over the last year, and seeing that he didn’t appear to be ascended, she reached out towards his shoulder while he blocked and moved her hand away, “It’s me, Sa…” For a few seconds time seemed to stop, Daniel’s hand still held out to keep hers away. Not only did he not know her, but he didn’t trust her enough to let her have a second of just feeling his shoulder, of proving to herself that he really was standing right there. It hurt, and she looked down to keep the disappointment from showing in her eyes.
As Sam looked back up, from just behind her Teal’c asked, “Do you not recognize us, DanielJackson?”
Slightly shaking his head, he remarked before stalking away, “I’m sorry.”
He walked into the crowd of villagers that were watching and left the square as Jack called out, “Not even me?” How could Daniel not know him? They might have had their differences and were complete opposites, but when it came down to it, Daniel had been one his closest friends these last few years, if not his best.
Arrom sat in the dark of the tent they had allowed him to stay in. First there was the strange woman in the woods and now these people, dressed strangely, saying that they knew him. Hadn’t they called him Daniel? Was that related to the ‘Danny’ the young woman had written in stone? He was confused. All he wanted was to be left alone, to think everything through. Unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen, as one of the men that had called him Daniel was walking into his tent. Holding out a hand to ward the man away, Arrom remarked, “Please leave me alone.”
The man ignored him and walked in, sitting in front of him as he explained, “I’m Jack O’Neill. And, barring some freakish similarity, you are Dr. Daniel Jackson.”
Daniel, hands now clasped in front of him and resting on his knees, surprised himself by speaking quietly to this Jack O’Neill, letting him know things that he hadn’t expressed to most, trying to keep his thoughts behind a mask of not caring, “This tent is all I know. These people, they’re all I know. Before I woke up in the forest, I don’t remember anything. I’ve tried… I’ve tried to remember who I was before. Sometimes I think it’s right there, floating in front of me, and all I have to do is reach out and grab it. I try… and it’s gone.”
“You were a member of my team, SG-1. You’re a friend of mine,” Jack explained. “Last year you died.”
“I’m dead?” Arrom wasn’t for sure what to think of this. People just didn’t come back from the dead. Even if he had no memories, he knew that for a fact.
“Obviously not. You just sort of died.” Daniel was looking at him like he was crazy, and in all honesty, Jack didn’t blame him. The story was quite a bit far fetched. “Actually, you ascended to a higher plane of existence. Last time I saw you, you were helping us fight Anubis.”
“Anubis?” What kind of name was Anubis?
“Yeah. Kind of an over-the-top, cliché bad guy: black cloak, oily skin, kind of spooky. Anyway, obviously since then, you’ve retaken human form, somehow. I…” Jack could tell that Daniel didn’t believe him and shook his head. Could he blame the man? Come on. Who would believe someone that was telling them they had been dead but were now alive and human again? “Actually, I can see how this might sound a bit unusual.”
“A bit,” Arrom confirmed. “Why am I here?”
“Hey, why are any of us here? Honestly, I don’t know. But, you’ve gotta trust me. You are Daniel Jackson. Think of it this way: out of all the planets in the galaxy, why this one if not for us to find you?”
“So, you’re saying a higher power had a hand in putting me here?”
Jack could tell that Daniel wasn’t buying it. “I don’t know. That was usually your department.”
“Us, uh…no. No. Not in that way. We… we were really, really good friends.”
Arrom watched as Samantha Carter smiled warmly at him, even though her eyes seemed sad, and stepped out of his tent. One candle was already burning, and he turned his attention to it for a minute before going to light the other one when a voice commented, “She’s right, you know.” In the doorway of his tent stood the young woman he had met in the woods earlier that day. Stepping into the tent, she added, “You were the type of person who would give his own life for someone he didn’t even know.”
“How do you know?”
“I can’t say, but one day, hopefully, you will even remember me.”
The look on the woman’s face was very sad as she stepped forward. “They are good people, Daniel.”
“You are.” Frowning, she sighed and then commented, “You should want to know who you are, as they need you to.”
“If it was that easy…”
“It won’t be easy, but unless you go back to the life you once lived, there will not be much to help with your memory. Go with them, discover who Dr. Daniel Jackson was.”
“You’re not from around here, are you?”
“No. I’m not.”
“Then where are you from?”
“Maybe one day you will remember, when you have recalled all of your life and there is only that one year missing.”
“I don’t understand.”
“And I can’t help you understand, not like you can help yourself.” Smiling sadly, she added before stepping out of the tent, “I’ll miss this, Daniel Jackson, but you need to find who you are, without me”
Samantha Carter stepped out of Daniel’s tent and headed across the square she was now in as Jack and the old man they had met earlier walked up to her. Jack, apparently just humoring the man, commented, “Carter. Shamda here was just telling me a story about a dog and some dancing monkeys.”
Shamda explained, “The moral of which is appearances can be deceptive.”
Placing his hand on Shamda’s shoulder, Jack commented towards the man, “I got that. Very good story, wonderful, full of nuances - I like that.”
Joining the group from one of the arches leading into the square, Jonas Quinn stated, “We, uh, just sent up a UAV.”
“The ruins are quite extensive,” added Teal’c behind Jonas.
“Yeah, it’s gonna take us weeks to scour this place properly.”
“What of DanielJackson?” asked Teal’c.
Samantha went to shake her head when behind her a voice commented, “He’s going home.” Daniel walked out of the tent, placing bag on his shoulder and looked at all them. It was time to discover who he was.