The Curse / Absolute Power
Daniel tried to control his anger most of the time. What he hadn’t thought would work a whole lot better was pain. Sound was intolerable. Light was impossible. He downed two pills with old, cold coffee because he couldn’t bear leaving his office to get water from the bathroom only two doors down. He could’ve called someone but talking was just as horrible as sound. Janet had prescribed only six pills from a packet of strong migraine meds because they were hard on the kidneys. They weren’t going to work.
Despite his quip to her and Sam about getting used to the hand device, he was, instead, experiencing worse after-effects: the headaches were getting longer in duration. He knew he had to ask for an MRI but not now. It was bad enough that he couldn’t use complete sentences without massive pain stabs behind his forehead, never mind listen to someone else. The sound of the MRI would render him unconscious.
He was fairly certain what was medically wrong. A combination of a concussion and whiplash, but a thousand times worse, that had kicked off debilitating migraines. It had been a while since he’d had one. Now, given what had touched off this latest one, he was also afraid to ask for the MRI. What if the hand device had caused something that forced him out of the program? Like a tumor caused by naquadah-powered devices—like that goddamn hand device—which really needed a name—and the sarcophagus. The ‘gate he could dismiss since using it didn’t kill, unlike the hand device and addiction to the sarcophagus.
Unable to tolerate the low light of his cellphone, he focused enough to turn it way down, then walked over to the far wall to pull out the cot. But after bending over to unfold it, the pain in his head nixed the whole idea. The floor was concrete. But it was cold. He grabbed the cot’s blanket and pillow and eased onto the floor. Not too bad, since he didn’t have any muscle aches. He closed his eyes and prayed for the medicine to work enough so he could call a taxi to take him home. He couldn’t ask Jack or Sam. It required talking.
Jack frowned as he listened to Fraiser and Carter describe getting thrown against a limestone wall by Osiris’ hand device. Carter was ordered bed rest and Fraiser had to arrange another doctor to take her place while she followed her own orders. In the meantime, Jack was experiencing the fun of Guilt & Worry. He should’ve been with his teammates in Egypt.
“How’s Daniel doing?” Fraiser asked.
Jack had only just looked in on Daniel, expecting to find him at his desk, not on the floor with the lights out. He ground his teeth and said, “He’s lying on the floor of his office. He can’t stand light or noise and talking hurts. He’s waiting for the pills to work so he can go home. I’ll take him when he’s ready, though he thinks he’s taking a taxi.”
“Damn. I’ll have to order an MRI.”
“If you want it soon, you’ll have to knock him out,” Jack said. “He can’t tolerate the noise.” He made a face. “He doesn’t think I know all this. He just puts on a brave face and says he’ll be fine.”
“Then how—” Carter began.
“Carter. I know him. You know him. He always downplays pain and injuries.”
“I know. I don’t understand why.”
“Because he’s afraid of what the vulnerability will cause. Like getting booted out of the program.”
Carter looked at Fraiser. “Could that happen? Because of his migraines?”
Fraiser nodded. “People,” she began, making air quotes, “are looking for any reason to get rid of him.”
“You mean Kinsey or the NID,” Carter said.
“Yep, that’s who she means,” Jack said tightly.
“Why does Daniel think he needs a taxi?” Carter asked. “One of us would be glad to take him home.”
“Pain is meddling with his thinking,” Jack said in a dry tone.
“Okay then,” Fraiser said, taking a script pad out of her white coat’s pocket. “Ditch the pill packet I gave him. Get this filled instead and take him home.” She gestured behind her, where a short hall led to the SGC’s new pharmacy as she handed Jack a script.
He studied it. “A nasal spray?”
“Gets into the bloodstream immediately, particularly in the area behind the eyes and forehead.”
She tapped the paper to get his attention. “Get him in for an MRI in the morning, just to be safe. Have him take the spray before the test so he’ll be prepared and not trigger a migraine when the godawful noise of the scanner begins.”
“Sir?” Carter asked tentatively.
“What is it, Carter?”
“What happened two days ago, when you weren’t called in and Hammond sent Janet with me and Daniel instead of you and Teal’c?”
Janet cringed. “That was my fault.”
“How so?” Sam asked.
“I told the general that I wanted more field experience.”
“Yeah, but observing or assisting in a routine mission is completely different than throwing you into the middle of a Goa’uld situation.”
“I thought that was weird, too.”
Jack grimaced. “Maybe our dear leader needs to retire. And that’s all I’m gonna say on the subject, clear?”
Carter gave him a strained grin. “Clear, sir.”
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get our injured archaeologist home.”
He turned for the exit doors but Janet grabbed his arm. “Get the prescription first. No sense trying to get him home without it.”
Daniel felt someone nearby. It was probably Jack, right? His sleeping self said it was. The thought was followed by a dip in the bed, jostling him to roll on his side.
“You’re messing up my sleep,” Daniel said in a groggy voice.
“Sue me,” Jack said as he looked into drug-addled sleepy blue eyes. “How you doin’?”
“Better,” Daniel said, sighing with relief. “But geez, I wish the damn meds didn’t make me sleepy. Might as well enjoy it since the future doesn’t guarantee adequate sleep.”
Jack leaned in and rubbed his nose over Daniel’s, making him smile. “You just jinxed it. Now we’re gonna be in for some serious stress that robs us of sleep, never mind time off. Don’t you know better by now?”
“You’re the one who jinxed it. You don’t mention a jinx. Dummy.”
Jack grinned. “Glad you’re feeling better. And now that you are, Fraiser wants you in for an MRI.”
Daniel groaned and squeezed his eyes shut. “Think I’ll fake pain for two more days.”
Jack’s grin grew impish. “You took the words right out of my mouth.”
“Aren’t those lyrics to a Meatloaf song?”
Jack groaned in return. “Why’d you have to go and ruin it?”
Jack folded his arms and leaned against the door frame of Daniel’s office, watching him at his lab desk as he wrote in his journal. After a while, he said, “You should get a digital journal so you can lock it up and make sure no one reads it.”
“Unnecessary,” Daniel said. “Come look.”
Jack straightened and walked over. When he was alongside Daniel, he looked at the journal entry. It looked like it was written in secretarial shorthand. “Ah. When’d you learn to do that?”
Daniel fidgeted on the stool. “Yesterday.”
Jack’s brows went up. “I know you’re a fast study, Daniel, but twenty-four hours ago?”
“Courtesy of Shifu.”
“So he actually told you stuff we can use? Why the hell didn’t you say s—”
“No, Jack. He didn’t.”
“Then how in the hell . . .”
“It’s some by-product of what happened.” Daniel sighed and let his arms rise and fall in a gesture of frustration. “I used to know this stuff a long time ago, then I ditched using it. I don’t know how, but after the . . . dreaming, I can remember things I’d forgotten over ten years ago.”
Jack stares hard at him. “Weird, but whatever. Now, what happened? Out with it.”
Daniel set his pen down and looked at Jack. “Shifu touched my forehead.”
“And I fell into a dream state.”
“And in the dream, we got what we wanted. Knowledge to fight the Goa’uld. But it was all in my head, not something I shared with the Pentagon.”
“I don’t follow.”
Hammond appeared in the doorway then entered. He was followed by Carter and Teal’c. “Doctor Jackson, we need to know—”
“I’m about to explain, sir.”
“I see,” Hammond said, looking at Jack. “Don’t you think a debrief in the briefing room would’ve been better?”
“Care to explain?” Hammond asked.
Daniel rubbed his forehead with one hand while pointing at the only light source in the room: the lamp on his desk. “I need to take my migraine medication, but it makes me sleepy, so I have to wait till I get all this out. And please, don’t anyone turn on the overhead lights.”
“Very well,” Hammond said. “Continue, Doctor Jackson.”
Daniel sighed. “When Shifu touched my forehead, I went into a dream state. What would have happened in reality happened in my head instead. What happened was this: I was given the knowledge that Shifu suppresses. All of it. In that knowledge was a weapons platform via a satellite network.”
“How’s that dangerous?” Hammond asked.
“The knowledge changed me.”
“Changed you how?” Jack asked warily.
“The knowledge didn’t come by itself. It was tainted by . . . a personality shift. They’re tied together. I lost my humanity. Empathy. In other words, I turned into a psychopath.”
“I’m sorry, Doctor Jackson, but I don’t follow,” Hammond said.
“The knowledge came from the minds of Apophis, Amaunet, and all those related to them. I was given their personality type. To be more specific, the knowledge made me very suspicious of the Tok’ra, the Russians, China, and anyone who didn’t do what I told them to do. I put together teams of scientists and engineers who created the weapons platform, and most of them had no idea what the others were doing. When people got in my way, such as Sam figuring out what I had in mind, I had her imprisoned.”
“Wait, what?” Sam blurted out.
“Further,” Daniel went on and looked at Teal’c. “I sent Teal’c on a mission I knew would get him killed because I wouldn’t trust a Jaffa who had turned on his master. When the weapons platform came online, I took control of it because other countries started issuing threats of retaliation. After all, we had a clear advantage over them. So I began to destroy those cities who became a threat to my plan.”
“What plan?” Jack asked.
Daniel said flatly, “To destroy the Goa’uld in exactly the same manner as a rival Goa’uld. I aimed to rule the planet.” He looked at Hammond. “Shifu taught me that bearing that knowledge—knowledge of all the Goa’uld who came before—would change me because the personalities of all those Goa’uld before comes with the knowledge of weapons platforms. It can’t be separated. So if Shifu shared that knowledge, whomever he gave it to would turn on us.
“Do you understand what I’m saying? The personality can’t be separated from the technical knowledge. Shifu couldn’t sum up the knowledge without turning into a psychopath, all while trying to assure us that everything was fine. With the powers he has as an ascended being, it would be catastrophic. To illustrate the point, Shifu gave me the knowledge in a . . . testing dream, I guess you could call it. I was given the knowledge. And in doing so, I turned into someone I hated.
“Hear what I’m saying. If someone like me turns, then imagine what that psychopathic transfer would do to someone like General Vidrine or the President. The bottom line is this: the Goa’uld learned by stealing their knowledge. We would be vastly better off trying to find another Ancients’ database and using the knowledge it contains . . . before it kills the person who downloads it. The results would be the same, either way.”
“I’ll need all of this in a written report, Doctor Jackson,” Hammond said.
“I’m preparing it now, sir.”
He left, leaving Janet, Sam, Teal’c, and Jack behind. At that moment, the Tok’ra Aldwin came in and stopped suddenly when he found that Daniel wasn’t alone. “Hello. Uh, Doctor Jackson—”
“He’s writing it all down, Aldwin,” Jack told him. “You’ll get a copy when he’s finished.”
“C’mon,” Sam said, taking the Tok’ra’s arm. “I’ll explain it all in the meantime.”
Confused, the Tok’ra allowed Sam to lead him out of the room.
Daniel looked at Teal’c, who was studying him. “What is it?”
“What you described is precisely what I have been trying to explain to everyone about a Harcesis child. Most of the time, their knowledge drives them insane.” He then bowed and left the room.
Jack walked over and leaned on the lab table, his forearms propping him up. “I sense there was more to it than just turning into a Goa’uld.”
“You tried to stop me from using the weapons platform on our own people,” Daniel shared quietly.
“How?” Jack asked just as quietly.
“By trying to kill me. Except I had a Goa’uld shield built around the controller’s chair—something used for when the weapons platform came online.”
“And you killed me in return?” Jack asked, grimacing.
“No. I largely ignored your attempt because I felt . . . above you.”
Jack grimaced. “Ouch.”
Daniel nodded slowly. “Yep.”
“You okay?” Jack asked, looking at his body language.
“No, not really. I know it all happened in a dream, but I literally went through all that stuff, living through a year of my life.”
A long minute’s silence passed.
“Feel like eating?” Jack asked.
Daniel smirked at him. “You’re so practical.” Jack grinned as he rolled his hand in a “please answer the question” gesture. “Yes, I’m hungry. But I have to finish this report before I forget anything important.”
Daniel leaned on the table, resting the side of his head in his hand. “It was scary. I never thought I could turn into someone like that. Guess it proves Shifu’s statement and that age-old adage we usually spout without knowing exactly what it means.”
“What adage is that?”
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely. In that dream, it took only a few minutes.” He stared back at Jack. “No one can withstand that knowledge, to come out of it whole and sane.”
Jack straightened. “I’ll let you get it done. Give me a shout when you’re ready to go home. What do you want for dinner?”
“Surf and turf?”
“O’Malley’s to-go then?”
“Thank you,” Daniel said.
Jack came around the table and kissed Daniel on the cheek and gave him half a hug. “Sounds like you need some slow time tonight.”
Daniel nodded slowly. “You could say that.”
“You spoil me, you know.”
“All in a good cause,” Jack said, rubbing his back. “I’ll be back in an hour.”
Before Jack could leave the office, Daniel called to him. “Jack?”
“I love you.”
“Right backatcha,” Jack said with a reassuring smile and left.