Finally figured out how to get Bold and Italics in, so I thought I would repost this so you could see it the way it was intended to be seen, though it's still not quite right.

In-between

Stargate/Highlander XOver

By Corwalch

(Author's Notes: I want to thank D. L. Witherspoon for letting me borrow her Restoration Universe. In order to help you understand some of background, it would help if you read these stories. They can be found at . I also want to thank her for helping to fix some of the errors I missed.

I am returning Duncan, Methos, and Joe to her, reluctantly. Can I keep Methos for a while longer please? I won't hurt him, I promise. Might smudge him a little bit though. (G)

This is a definite spoiler for Meridian. I consider the whole 6th season to be an aberration. This story is either taking place very late in the 4th season, or early in the 5th. Also in this universe, September 11th, NEVER happened. I just wish it had been the same in the real world. Also I would like to thank Sue Foster for checking this story over for me for plot holes. Any mistakes still in it are all mine.)

PX8267 - Oct 1, 2001

A never heard before whooshing sound surprised the birds, but it was the sudden appearance of four strange creatures that made them take flight.

The unexpected shrieks brought O'Neill's attention and his weapon to bear on the tree-lined path that led from the gate to the strange city. Watching the gray birds take flight, he commented. "So there is life of some kind on PX82-whatever."

"Sir, the fact that the MALP didn't indicate any signs of life in the city, doesn't mean anything. The buildings could be made out of a material that blocks the MALP's probes." Carter pointed out. "It did come through during their nighttime, after all. It's only a little past sunrise now, so the inhabitants may not be up yet."

"Carter, in a city that size, if it is a city, there should always be some kind of activity, no matter what time it is." O'Neill disagreed. "The gate isn't that far from the city and it does make a lot of noise. Someone or something should be coming to check out the new arrivals."

"Unless, they're vampires." Daniel put in jokingly.

Jack glared at him.

"Vampires?" Teal'c questioned. "I have not heard that term before DanielJackson."

"It's an old Earth legend from the area around Romania, Teal'c," Daniel explained. "According to the legends, a vampire is one of the undead, an evil creature. They survive by drinking the blood of the living. A new vampire is created when someone, who has drunk the blood of a vampire, dies and then comes back to life - forever changed. Vampires are only active at night or in total darkness. They are also supposed to be very fast and strong which makes them difficult to kill."

"How does one kill such a creature?" Teal'c inquired.

"The traditional methods are a wooden stake through the heart, decapitation, or by exposing them to sunlight," Sam told him.

"Teal'c, we'll introduce you to all the Dracula lore when we get back." Jack interrupted. "Right now, we have a city to explore, so let's go, kids."

"What is Dracula?" Teal'c asked, not understanding what that had to do with vampires.

"The most famous, or infamous of all vampires." Jack told him.

From where they were, the structures in front of them didn't look like a typical city. They looked more like a set of massive, fantastic sculptures, covered in gold, silver, and precious gems. They were shaped like spirals, pyramids, flowing curves or waves, and other extraordinary things.

"Teal'c, have you ever seen or heard of any place like this?" O'Neill wanted to know.

"I have never seen such a city, nor have I heard any stories of the Goa'uld encountering anything like it."

"It reminds me of the stories Mrs. Rierdon used to tell me about the Faery places." Daniel commented.

"Faery places?" Sam asked puzzled.

"The kingdoms of the Fair Folk." Seeing she still didn't understand, Daniel elaborated. "The most well-known of the Fair Folk are Oberon, Titiana, and Puck. In Irish and Scottish folklore, the Fair Folk are also known as the Sidhe. They are supposed to be a magical people and were said to bless or curse those they encountered. The Sidhe are also well-known for causing mischief, with Puck being the most famous or infamous mischief maker. Mrs. Rierdon used to tell me that some of the Sidhe were also known as protectors or guardians of a particular family or clan."

"Is there a point to all this?" Jack wanted to know. "I mean you start out talking about the buildings and end up talking about leprechauns and banshees."

"Not leprechauns," Daniel corrected. "Those are the Little People, Jack. We were talking about the Sidhe." At Jack's 'so what' glare, he continued. "As I was saying, this place reminds me a little bit of Mrs. Rierdon's stories of what those humans fortunate enough to go to the Faery Kingdom of Avalon, and return, reported. According to her stories, the Faery Kingdom is supposed to be reached by going between worlds and is rumored to be a glorious place, with fantastically shaped dwellings covered in precious metals and gems."

"You think this place could be the Faery Kingdom?" Sam asked as they headed toward the city.

"I don't know, but we did go between worlds to get here."

"We did it using the Stargate. The Sidhe are strictly a Celtic legend, aren't they? There were no Stargates in the British Isles, so if this is Avalon, then how did they travel between here and Britain? The Egyptian Stargate was buried almost 10,000 years ago and the one in Antarctica has to have been inactive for nearly as long."

"Can we save this discussion for later?" Jack interrupted. The last thing he wanted to do, was listen to a discussion of whether or not Faeries were real.

The buildings on the outskirts of the city didn't look quite as nice up close. On the outermost buildings, some of the walls were covered with a webbing of cracks, while on others, sections of the walls were completely gone. Through the gaping holes, they could see piles of leaves and grass, puddles of water, and other debris.

After going through several of the damaged buildings, SG-1 still had no idea what had happened to the inhabitants, or even what they looked like. While there were no signs of violence in the city, there was also no sign of life, other than animals and birds.

As they headed further into the city, Jack asked. "Well kids, any ideas on how long this place has been abandoned, or what happened to the former inhabitants?"

Picking up a piece of the rubble, Carter examined it. "This is a very durable material, sir. In view of the fact that there is no evidence of war, or prolonged violence, I would say that the deterioration is due to erosion. Since this material was probably designed to be highly resistant to the elements, I'd say this city has been abandoned for at least a couple of centuries, if not longer. As to why it was abandoned, I don't know."

"From the way this place appears to be laid out," Daniel added, "I think we'll find the buildings further in will have suffered little, if any, damage. Whoever the builders were, they designed this city well. Each building appears to protect most if not all of the next as you move in toward the center. If I'm right, the most important building or buildings will be in the heart of the city and the answers to who the inhabitants were and what happened to them, should be found there."

The building that was in the heart of the city was a huge pyramid made out of panels of a smoky colored glass like material, until you got about two-thirds of the way up where it changed to clear that covered the remaining surface all the way to the top.

"Goa'uld?" O'Neill asked.

"Doubt it," Daniel told him. "It appears to be about the size of the pyramid Menkaure supposedly built on the Giza plateau. Menkaure's pyramid is about a third the size of the Great Pyramid, only three hundred and forty-four feet on each side and two hundred and fifteen feet tall. More importantly, no matter how durable this material is intended to be, I don't think it would stand up to a mothership landing on it. All the Goa'uld pyramids we've encountered so far seem to be made out of stone."

"I agree," Teal'c added. "The Goa'uld would never build a structure that looks as fragile as this. It would be considered a sign of weakness."

"Well kids, let's see if we can find the door." Jack headed off to the right.

On the far side, a section of the wall slid up into the pyramid as they passed in front of it, revealing a passageway wide enough for three MALPs to pass through quite easily. The passageway had walls and a ceiling of the same smoky glass as the exterior and a tile floor.

"Very accommodating," O'Neill commented.

"Some type of automatic sensors, sir," Carter guessed. "Amazing that it still works, when you consider how long it's probably been since the door was last opened."

"Well, let's check it out. Teal'c, you take point. I'll be on your six." O'Neill ordered.

As soon as they were a few feet beyond the door, it slid back into place, leaving the bright light ahead as the only source of light. They waited a few minutes while Jack and Daniel made sure they could get back out again - if they had to leave in a hurry. It slid open again at their approach, confirming they could get out easily.

Daniel estimated that the passageway was at least a hundred feet long. As they came out into the light a wonderful sight met their eyes. Dominating the large atrium was a statue of a Pegasus, wings raised as if preparing to take flight. It was made out of a shimmery, pearl colored material. As they walked around it, the shades of rose, gray, and pale lavender in the material made the winged horse seem to move in the sunlight streaming down through the clear material at the top of the pyramid.

"The craftsmanship is remarkable." Daniel made sure he got all the details of the sculpture on video. "It seems to be carved out of one piece, of whatever this is, like a marble statue would be. The artist was brilliant. I mean to create something so lifelike. I almost expect it to take flight any minute now. If this is the level of what they considered important, I wonder what other treasures we'll find."

"Daniel," Sam called from the far side of the statue, "have a look at this."

Daniel went around to see what she wanted to show him.

As he studied the symbols on the base of the statue, Sam asked. "Can you read it?"

"It looks vaguely familiar," he told her. "I've seen something like it before. It's probably in one of my books back home. Since it's on the base of the statue, it should probably the name of the piece. That will make it a little easier to translate once I find the proper language reference."

After making a video record of the symbols, he took out his sketchbook and flipped a page sideways to make a rubbing of the raised symbols.

Turning his attention and camera toward the rest of the interior, Daniel could see that the designers had divided the interior into two sections; the atrium which was about the size of three football fields in width and galleries along each wall. The clear material that covered the top third of the pyramid, had also been used to create the gallery running along each interior wall. The galleries appeared to be divided into three floors, but from where he was standing, Daniel couldn't see any way to get from one floor to the next. He guessed that all four galleries were about a hundred feet deep on the lowest floor, based on the passageway.

Moving closer to get a better record, Daniel began to bounce. This place was the "mother lode". The gallery he was filming, appeared to be filled almost overflowing with artifacts. He could see things like; elaborate armor, jeweled swords, gem studded wands and staffs. He also thought he saw several bookstands with books on them. He had to get a look at those books!

"Daniel, wait," O'Neill ordered, determined to rein in his enthusiastic young friend as he headed for the entry to the nearest gallery. He hated to do it but he was going to have to lay down the Law to the over-eager archeologist, or else the only way they would get him out of there would be to carry him out - unconscious.

When confronted with a room full of artifacts, Daniel reminded him a lot of a kid in a toy store, not knowing which thing to play with first. Problem was that he tended to forget about being careful or sensible, unless he knew a Goa'uld was involved. Sometimes Jack wished he could put a leash on Daniel, just to keep him out of trouble.

"We're going to do this by the numbers," O'Neill ordered. "One side at a time, one hour each. Not one second longer Daniel. Teal'c and I will take the left side. Carter, you and Daniel take the right." He decided to make sure Daniel had understood his orders. "Daniel…"

"Only an hour, yeah I got it." The archeologist didn't look very happy about it.

Teal'c moved very carefully through the section of the gallery, O'Neill had assigned to him. There didn't seem to be any type of organization to the displays. The items appeared as if they had been set down for a moment and then forgotten. Some display stands were very crowded with items and there didn't seem to be any security devices protecting them. Obviously the inhabitants hadn't had to worry about thieves.

Earlier he'd picked up one of the daggers to examine it. While the dagger looked like a fancy toy, made out of an unknown silvery metal with jewels in the hilt, his expert eye could tell it was definitely the work of a Master Weaponsmith. The dagger's blade was exceptionally strong, not bending or snapping when he tested it. The edges of the blade were still very sharp, and he was certain it would have gone through Goa'uld made armor quite easily. He was kind of eager to see if the swords were as well made and well balanced as the daggers.

The path through the display stands to the swords was very narrow, and he had to move sideways between them, to avoid knocking anything off. His attention fixed on a sword with a large sapphire set in the hilt, Teal'c didn't see the silver bracer lying on the stand behind him suddenly begin to move. With the speed of a Goa'uld symbiote, the bracer fastened itself around Teal'c's left forearm in a death grip. Before he could try and get it off, Teal'c felt something pierce his arm and an agony worse than the Goa'uld pain stick engulfed him.

Boring. O'Neill was beginning to wish that he had taken the section he'd told Teal'c to check out. At least there was interesting stuff in there. As he was picking up a gold ring set with a rainbow colored stone, an earth-shattering howl filled the air.

Weapon out he ran toward the section the Jaffa was exploring, expecting the worst. He'd never heard Teal'c scream like that before and whatever could make him do so had to be bad.

O'Neill found him crumpled on the ground, pulling at a thick metal bracer on his left arm.

"Must… get… it… off…" Teal'c hissed through clenched teeth.

Jack could see a little blood seeping out around the snug edges as Sam and Daniel arrived, weapons out. "Let me have a look, Teal'c. There's got to be some other way to get this off, other than ripping your arm apart."

Teal'c released his grip, sagging back against Sam who had moved to support him. As Jack tried to find a seam or break in the band, Daniel asked, "What happened, Teal'c?"

"I was going to examine one of the swords, and I felt something wrap around my arm before I had a chance to try and get away from it." Teal'c told him, hoping it would provide a clue about how to get this bracer off. "Then something inside the bracer entered my arm."

"Do you know where the bracer came from?" Daniel asked.

"I think it was there." Teal'c pointed with his right hand toward a display stand, lying on its side, contents scattered all over the floor.

After a few minutes of checking, Jack announced, "We need to get back to the SGC. There's no way I can get this off here. Sam, get his staff. Daniel…" He looked around for the linguist and saw him heading back toward them, flipping through the pages of a book. "Daniel, put that down. We don't have time to waste on your books and rocks right now."

"You really don't want me to do that, Jack." Daniel disagreed.

"Daniel! Put that damn thing down and give me a hand!" O'Neill ordered.

"Jack, there are several of these books in every section, containing information on the items in that section… including that bracer." He showed O'Neill a picture etched on the thin, metallic page. It appeared to be identical to the thing fastened to Teal'c's arm.

"Can you read it?" Jack asked, looking at the squiggles.

"It's the same as the text on the statue. I know I've seen it before, but I can't place where from."

"Daniel! Are you going to be able to figure it out, or not?" O'Neill wanted to know.

"I don't know, but I do know that if I'm going to have any chance at all of succeeding, I need to bring this back with me."

SGC - Oct 4, 2001 10:00 am

Jack hurried to join Daniel, Sam, Janet and General Hammond in the briefing room, hoping that there would be some good news. He knew that Daniel and Janet hadn't left the base since their return two days ago. All their efforts to remove the bracer had failed and even Junior, Teal'c's symbiote, had been unable to stop whatever was killing the Jaffa.

Once they were all assembled, Hammond asked. "What do you have for us, Dr. Frasier?"

"Since we are unable to get the bracer off, we've been unable to get a pure sample of the poison that is killing Teal'c," she began her report. "From the blood samples, we have determined it is a complex poison and apparently it will work on humans and Goa'uld's. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to break down the composition, so that we can come up with an antidote."

"You said it will work on the Goa'ulds?" Hammond wanted to be sure he heard her correctly. This poison might be the weapon they'd been looking for.

"It appears that way, since Teal'c's symbiote is unable to reverse the effects." Dr. Frasier chose her words carefully. "Although the time it would take to kill the Goa'uld host would be longer than the time it would take to kill a regular human. The symbiote slows down the effects and if a Goa'uld were able to get to a sarcophagus, it might be cured. I don't know for sure. What I do know, is that unless we find some way to get that thing off and counteract the effects of the poison, Teal'c will be dead in three to five days."

"I thought you said Junior was slowing the poison down?" Jack was confused.

"It is," Janet agreed. "If it hadn't been for his symbiote, Teal'c would've been dead within a day. Whoever designed this poison wanted to cause a lot of pain and suffering to whoever was given it. I'm doing what I can to counteract the pain and help the symbiote slow down the poison's progress, but eventually even the symbiote will be affected by the poison. When that happens they both will die."

"What have you learned from that book, Dr. Jackson?" General Hammond asked.

Daniel rubbed his eyes and took a drink of coffee before standing. "The language is called Sheemos. The reason it looked so familiar, was because there was an article about it in one of my archeology journals." He put an image of the article up on the screen. "This text was found by a Dr. Saliere in a previously undiscovered chamber in the Loughcrew Cairns in Ireland. This was the first chamber in Loughcrew that didn't have some kind of megalithic art..."

"So, will you be able to translate that page in the book in time?" Jack interrupted before Daniel could go off on a tangent.

"No." Daniel was adamant. "While the article contains the original text and its translation, the passage on the chamber wall in Loughcrew was sort of an equivalent to 'Kilroy was here', only in a slightly longer form. The basic alphabet or symbol translation wasn't included in the article. The sample of Sheemos I have here isn't enough to enable me to come up with a reliable translation in less than a week. I really don't want to take the risk of making a mistake and having Teal'c die because of it."

"You said this… Sheemos was translated," Carter pointed out. "Which means someone knows how to read it."

"Adam Pierson is listed as the translator in the article," he told them. "He did the translation while studying for his doctorate in Linguistics at the Sorbonne. According to a friend of mine there, when Dr. Saliere couldn't translate it, Pierson was brought in to see if he could figure it out. Pierson has acquired a reputation of being an absolute wiz at translating old and obscure languages."

"You mean he's like you." Jack quipped.

"But without the reputation of being a kook," Daniel muttered, before turning his attention back to the matter at hand. "Franz says the man's skill is phenomenal. In his words, it's almost as though Pierson had been alive when the languages were actually used."

"Do you think he might be able to read Goa'uld?" Hammond wanted to know.

"I don't know. We might want to try him on it some time." Daniel gave the idea some consideration before continuing, "Franz couldn't tell me where to find Dr. Pierson. The last, he'd heard the man was working for some historical society in Paris, translating old texts. When I called the number he gave me for the historical society, they told me he was no longer working there and refused to tell me anything else. I did a search and located a Dr. Adam Pierson at the University of Seacouver in Washington State. He is teaching Linguistics there."

"Are you sure he is the right Dr. Pierson?" Hammond knew he would have to run a basic background check on the man before he could even be brought in to the upper levels of the mountain.

"Fairly certain," Daniel told him. "There aren't that many Dr. Adam Piersons, and none of the others were listed as linguistics professors at any other schools. Nor is there one listed on any of the current digs."

"How certain are you that he will be able to read the book? I mean just because it looks similar to this… Sheemos, doesn't mean it is the same." Jack couldn't help playing devil's advocate.

"We have an easy way to find out." Daniel held up the rubbing he'd made of the word or words on the base of the statue. "If he has no trouble translating this, then he should be able to translate what we need from the book."

"Now for the $64,000 question, what do we tell him to get him here?" Jack wanted to know. "Assuming he passes the security check, of course."

"Jack, we don't have time to do that. You heard Janet, we've got maybe five days before Teal'c is dead. It's probably going to take Dr. Pierson a day or two to translate what we need from the book. We have to take the book to him. It also makes more sense security wise. We won't have to come up with a reason why the military wants a book written in a very obscure Celtic language translated." He had to convince the General and Jack to let him take the alien artifact off base.

"What are you going to tell Dr. Pierson, about how you came to be in possession of this book and why you need his help?" Hammond wanted to know.

"Part of the truth, sir." Daniel had already thought up a cover story. "I'll tell him that the book was found at a dig. One of the workers triggered a booby trap and that we need his help to save the man."

Hammond was silent for several minutes, then he said, "all right Dr. Jackson, I'll authorize you to take the book off base to this Dr. Pierson. But it is to be taken in a secure case and Colonel O'Neill will be going along to guard both you and it."

"Yes, sir." Jack would have insisted on going along whether the General ordered it or not. He knew from experience that Daniel could find trouble in the most unlikely of places.

"Thank you, sir." Daniel was grateful that the General had agreed so easily.

"I'll make the travel arrangements." Hammond told them. "Be ready to leave in two hours."

Seacouver - Oct 4, 2001, Early Afternoon

O'Neill landed the private plane, Hammond had arranged at an airport just outside Seacouver. After getting directions from the rental agency, they headed toward the University.

As they arrived on the campus, O'Neill asked. "Do you know where his office is?"

"No, but there's the Admin building. Someone in there should be able to tell us where to find him."

They pulled into an empty Visitor's parking space and headed into the Administration building.

"Excuse me," Daniel apologized for interrupting the conversation between the two ladies standing on opposite sides of the counter. "I need to locate Dr. Adam Pierson. He teaches linguistics. Can you tell me if he's on campus today?"

The woman behind the counter pulled a file out of a drawer, looked at a sheet and after looking at the clock on the wall, told him, "Dr. Pierson has office hours on Thursday from 2 to 5. He should be in his office in Thompson Hall."

Daniel looked at the clock. It was a little before 4. "Can you tell me how to get there?"

"I can show you," Dr. Victoria Moon offered. "I have a class to teach in a little while and it's in that direction."

As Dr. Moon led the two men in the direction of Thompson Hall, she and the younger of the two made small talk. Victoria couldn't help wondering what these two men wanted with Adam and would it involve his friend and fellow agent Duncan MacLeod.

She and a handful of the other faculty members were the only ones who knew about Duncan and Adam's other job as agents for Interpol. It was the only explanation for the sudden calls from Joe Dawson, who was their controller, that sent them scurrying to his bar; the sudden disappearances that often occurred after the calls from Joe; the odd meetings between Adam or Duncan and some total stranger: which led to conferences with Joe as soon as the one who met the stranger returned; and then there was the time they spent in Paris every year.

Those, who knew the truth about theirs' and Joe's secret lives, were very careful never to give away the fact that they knew. By doing keeping Duncan and Adam's covers intact, they felt they were doing their part to keep the world safe.

Victoria was a little surprised that Adam hadn't been called to Joe's to meet with these two. From what she and the others had observed, that seemed to be the usual procedure. She would've thought that such a direct and obvious contact would break the cover Duncan and Adam had spent almost two years building. It was definitely risky, especially if they were here to talk to Adam about a case he was currently working on.

The younger man didn't look like an agent, but then again according to her boyfriend and fellow teacher Gray Morgan, the best ones never did. As a matter of fact with his innocent looking face and lively blue eyes, she would have thought he should still be in college.

The older man had military stamped all over him. In some ways he reminded her of her older brother, who had made the army his career. She wondered if he was still in the service or retired from it. If he was still in it, then given his age, he was probably a Colonel or a General. And that meant the matter must be serious.

Stopping in front of the building that held most of the teachers' offices and the faculty lounge, Victoria told them, "His office is #404. Take the stairs to the top floor. It's at the end of the hall."

"Thank you very much Ma'am." O'Neill spoke for the first time.

"You're welcome." She headed off to her class, wondering if Duncan and Adam would be at Joe's tonight and would these two be with them if they were.

As they reached the landing that led to the last flight of stairs, Jack heard the metal briefcase hit the ground with a clunk and saw Daniel stagger back against the wall.

"Daniel!" O'Neill caught the archeologist before he crumpled to the ground. "What's wrong?"

"Don't know. Just felt real dizzy all of a sudden." Daniel slowly got back to his feet. "Now, I have a killer headache."

Having seen Daniel in research mode before, Jack had a good idea what caused the dizzy spell. "When's the last time you had anything to eat?" As Daniel started to say something, Jack held up his hand, silencing him. "I mean REAL food, not just coffee or chocolate."

Daniel mumbled something as he picked up the briefcase.

"What was that?"

"Day before yesterday all right!"

"Damn it, Daniel! Last thing I need is you passing out." O'Neill glared at him. "Understand this, Dr. Jackson, I don't intend to let you get lost in your research with Dr. Pierson. At six, I will be taking you out somewhere to eat and you will be eating real food."

Adam and Duncan were discussing plans for the weekend when they felt an immortal nearby, but the "buzz", indicating the immortal's presence, didn't feel right. It felt a little like fingernails on a blackboard, and the closer it got the more uncomfortable Duncan felt. From the look on Methos' face, he was having the same reaction to this unknown immortal. Duncan also noticed that the oldest immortal looked as if he were trying to remember something.

Before he could ask Methos about it, there was a knock on the door, signaling the arrival of the unknown immortal. A pale looking young man poked his head in the door.

"Excuse me, I'm looking for Dr. Adam Pierson." He announced stepping into the room, followed by an older man.

"I'm Dr. Adam Pierson." Methos was curious about who these two were and what they wanted.

The older man had clearly been in the military at some point and was probably still in it. The younger was definitely the more interesting of the two. You could feel the sense of innocence and wonder about him and yet there was a soul weary air of one who had suffered constant loss. An interesting contradiction.

The younger man was also the one with the off-key "buzz" and Methos could see that he was having just as bad a reaction to them. A new immortal… no that wasn't right. He wasn't an immortal, at least not a full one, Methos was certain of that. Neither was he a pre-immortal. No pre-immortal had that strong a presence, nor had one ever reacted to a full immortal before. The only thing he couldn't figure out was why the off-key "buzz" felt so familiar. He had never met this man before, of that he was certain.

"I'm Dr. Daniel Jackson," the younger man identified himself, extending his hand to Adam, who took it. Then he introduced his companion. "This is… Jack O'Neill."

"Mr. O'Neill," Methos was certain Jackson had been about to attach a military rank to his companion's name, but had managed to catch himself in time. That meant the military was involved somehow in whatever had brought them here. "What can I do for you, Dr. Jackson?"

"Can you tell me what this means?" Daniel handed him a folded piece of paper.

MacLeod moved a little closer to get a look at what was on it.

It didn't look like anything MacLeod had ever seen before, but after looking at it for a moment, Adam told them, "It says SunRider. What is it you really want, Dr. Jackson? Surely you didn't make a special trip just to have me translate that one word."

"No. I came because I need your help with a translation and time is of the essence." Putting his briefcase on the desk, Daniel opened it.

"That," he indicated the piece of paper in Adam's hand, "was a way of making sure that the language, I need your help with, and Sheemos are the same. You were listed as the translator of a passage of Sheemos found by Dr. Saliere in the Loughcrew Cairns. I am an archeologist and linguist myself, and I'm currently working on a dig in Central America. While excavating, we've uncovered a number of objects that may or may not be Celtic in origin. This is strictly a guess, based on the fact that the only other documented site that Sheemos has been found is at an Irish megalithic site. Unfortunately some of the artifacts were booby-trapped."

He flipped the stiff pages of a silver colored book, then handed it to Pierson, tapping on a section of the page. "One of the workers has this bracer on his arm and is slowly being poisoned by it. We can't get the bracer off, nor have we been able to identify the poison so we can administer an antidote. Ordinarily I would try and do the translations myself, but as I said time is of the essence."

Daniel looked at Adam earnestly. "A mutual friend at the Sorbonne, Franz Geisler, told me you were an absolute wizard at translating old and obscure languages. Would you help me? Please."

Adam found the contents of the book to be very interesting and for some reason vaguely familiar. "How much time, do we have?"

"According to the doctor's estimate, if we don't find the answer in the next three to five days, the man will die." O'Neill spoke for the first time since they'd entered the office.

Daniel added, "She is doing everything she can to slow down the poison, but…"

"Without knowing what it is she may do more harm than good." Adam finished.

"I'm afraid so."

Recognizing the expression on his friend's face as he caressed the odd metal page of the thick book, Duncan knew Methos was going to help with the translation. "I can see you're going to be busy for a while, Adam. Should I come back and pick you up for dinner, or will you meet me later at Joe's?"

"He'll be free by six," O'Neill spoke up before Pierson could. "Dr. Jackson has been rather busy for the last few days and hasn't taken time for a proper meal, so he needs to get something to eat."

"Great. Another mother hen." Adam muttered, going around to the other side of his desk. "Duncan, take him with you. I'm sure the two of you would love to compare notes on your techniques. Mr. O'Neill, the two of you are welcome join us for dinner. We're going out for Chinese." Then he pulled up another chair. "Have a seat, Dr. Jackson. Let's see what this book will tell us."

"I'm Duncan MacLeod," the Scot introduced himself to O'Neill. "Why don't we go get a cup of coffee?" He nodded toward the dark and fair heads bent over the book. "Don't worry; they're so busy with their research, they'll never even know we're gone."

O'Neill accepted the offer and let the other man lead him out the door. "I'm used to that. When Daniel gets involved in his research, a bomb could go off and he wouldn't notice."

"Adam's the same way." Duncan told him. "When he's involved in a project, he forgets to eat or sleep. I keep expecting to come into his office or apartment some day and find a skeleton sitting at his computer." He looked back at the closed office door. "You do realize that when we come back to get them for dinner, we're going have to drag them away from that book"

"I'm already planning my moves to get that book locked back up in the briefcase before they can stop me." O'Neill confided. "Can I count on you to run interference for me?"

MacLeod grinned conspiratorially and nodded.

"Mr. MacLeod…"

"Call me Duncan please, Mr. O'Neill"

"If you'll call me Jack." O'Neill agreed. "Duncan, Dr. Pierson was rather quick to include us in your dinner plans, and we don't want to intrude."

Knowing why Methos had issued the invitation, Duncan was quick to reassure him. "You won't be intruding. We're just going to the Emerald Dragon and then to a Blue's bar, owned by a friend of ours. You're more than welcome to join us at both places, unless you've already made other plans."

Adam's Apartment - Oct 5, 2001 1:00am.

"Well, Methos?" Duncan asked, as he pulled into a space in front of Methos' apartment building.

"Well what?"

"Have you solved the mystery of Dr. Daniel Jackson?" He looked at his friend. "I've never felt a Presence like his before, but you obviously have. So what's the story?"

Methos looked thoughtful as he led the way into the building. "I wish I could tell you but I just don't know. I do know I have never met Dr. Jackson before and yet that off-key "buzz" of his seems familiar. One thing I am certain of, is that I haven't encountered one like it in quite some time."

Given the Old Man's age, MacLeod knew that could cover centuries, if not millennia. "Just how much time are we talking about?"

"At least a couple of millennia, but Jackson is not an OLD immortal." Methos was quick to assure him. "Judging by his reaction to us, I would be willing to bet he has never encountered another immortal before, so he doesn't know what he is. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say what he should be."

"Are you sure he is an immortal?"

"He is, and yet he isn't." Methos seemed at a loss for words to explain what he meant. "It's almost as if he's stuck in-between, if that makes any sense, Mac."

"How long do you think it's been since his 'First Death'?" Mac wondered.

"I'd say probably within the last five, maybe ten years. Certainly not more than that. I wonder where the military has been keeping him? He must have been living in a very isolated environment, if he's never met another immortal."

"Do you think the military knows what he is? Could they be using him to find other immortals? Do you think that's why O'Neill is with him?" MacLeod kind of liked Jack O'Neill and didn't want to think of him as some kind of "Hunter".

"The military doesn't know." Methos was sure of that. "If Daniel possessed any aspects of immortality, such as rapid healing, and they knew about it, they'd have him locked away in a lab some place, trying to figure out how it works. O'Neill struck me as more of a concerned friend than a guard. In fact, he reminds me a lot of you."

"Do you have any idea how Dr. Jackson got, ... stuck in-between?" Mac couldn't help being curious. "I always thought being an immortal was an all or nothing condition. You either became immortal, or stayed a pre-immortal."

Methos got beer out for himself and MacLeod. "Prior to the 1970's, you would have been right. Remember once someone has died their 'First Death', it does take a little time for their immortality to kick in. Given the advances in medical technology, it is possible to revive someone, before that can happen. Daniel would still feel like a pre-immortal, though, if it had been modern medicine that brought him back to life. In order for him to have even started becoming immortal, Dr. Jackson would've had to have been dead for longer than anyone would keep working on a deceased person. Or else died somewhere where there was no medical intervention available."

"There is nothing that I know of that can interfere with a person becoming immortal, once the process has begun."

"Apparently there's something out there that can, and I can't remember what it is, or even if it can be undone."

"Could it be something from the 'Time Before'?" Duncan inquired. "I mean after you died your first death?"

"Probably," Methos conceded. "I thought I'd remembered everything about that time, but apparently not."

"Well, I'm certain you'll remember it." MacLeod told him, and silently added to himself and figure out how to help Dr. Jackson.

Taking a long swallow of his beer, Methos told him. "I do know one thing. We'll need to keep an eye on Dr. Jackson as long as he's in Seacouver. If there is another immortal in town and they encounter him, they might not worry about why his Presence feels so odd. They might just decide to take his head, hoping for an easy Quickening. Once he's back wherever the military has been keeping him, he should be relatively safe, until I can figure out what happened to him."

SGC Briefing Room - Oct 6,2001, 8:00am

Hammond got right down to business. "Well, Dr. Jackson, what did you learn from Dr. Pierson?"

"The bracer is one of a pair. The book called them, 'Gauntlets of Death'. They were made by Morgan Le Fay -"

"The Morgan Le Fay!" Sam interrupted.

"That's what the book said," Daniel confirmed.

"Next you'll be telling us that Merlin was real." O'Neill muttered.

Daniel ignored him and continued, knowing that time was of the essence. "She created them to kill King Arthur and Lancelot, the two biggest threats to her gaining control of the throne through Mordred. The one intended for Arthur nearly killed him. According to the book, Merlin saved the King's life using this," a sketch of a wand appeared on the screen, "and a very precisely spoken spell."

"You realize what this means, don't you?" Carter sounded excited. "There has to be a third stargate. I mean, I've never heard of any tales in the Arthurian folklore about visitations from gods or fiery dragons in the sky. If they didn't come by spaceship, then the only way someone from PX8267 could have acquired Arthurian artifacts and the stories behind them, would have been to come through a gate. According to the stories, I've read, Arthur was King of Britain some time around the 5th to 7th century, which means this third stargate has been active within the last 1,500 years and will most likely be located in or near Great Britain."

"We'll worry about that later, Major. We have other concerns at the moment." Hammond reminded her. It wasn't that he wasn't worried about the possibility of a third gate on Earth; he was. However, until they located the stargate, there wasn't anything that could be done about it. The big problem was going to be locating a stargate not currently in use, and at the same time keeping its existence a secret from those who would like to get their hands on it so they could use it to steal advanced technology.

Once he had their attention again, Daniel continued. "If we're lucky, the wand should be in the pyramid on PX8267 where they kept the bracer."

"Do you have more of a description than just this picture?" Jack asked. "There were a lot of wands, staffs, and sticks in there.

Jackson checked his notes. "The wand is about a foot to foot and a half in length and made out of the same silver colored metal as most of the other things in the pyramid. It has a quartz crystal cluster at the top, and has amethyst, adventurine, and rose quartz stones, spiraling up the wand. Also there is a Celtic dragon engraved into the metal just below the quartz cluster."

"What is the procedure once we have the wand?" Dr. Frasier wanted to know.

"We have to take Teal'c up top into full sunlight. He'll need to be placed on the ground, but it can't be concrete or asphalt. There must be nothing manmade or synthetic between him and the earth, or between him and the wand. Holding the wand, I say the spell then place it on Teal'c's chest." He saw Jack wince at the word 'spell'. "That's what the book calls it, Jack. And since Merlin was, and still is, considered a magician, it is the only applicable term. Back then, things like psychic gifts or advanced technology were thought of as magic no matter where it came from."

"What is this spell supposed to do?" Jack couldn't help sounding sarcastic. He had trouble believing that magic actually existed.

"I don't know," Daniel admitted. "The wand is probably a piece of preprogrammed technology and the spoken words activate it. The book just reported that it cured King Arthur and destroyed that Gauntlet. How it does that wasn't made clear."

"What about Teal'c's symbiote?" Sam asked. "Will the wand cause it any harm? Or could its presence prevent the wand from working?"

"I was going to suggest that we temporarily remove it while the wand does its work," Daniel told her. "If the information in the book is correct, it shouldn't be for too long."

"How long?" Dr. Frasier wanted to know.

"There wasn't any indication on how long the process will take to complete, but it probably shouldn't be more than an hour." Daniel guessed.

Dr. Frasier looked thoughtful. "As long as they aren't separated for too long, I think they should be okay."

"There's one more thing, Janet," Daniel put in. "You'll need to make sure that Teal'c is wearing only 100% natural fabrics, like cotton or silk, when we do this."

"Why?" Jack couldn't see the point of that.

Daniel sighed, not really surprised that it was Jack who asked the question. "The first time this procedure was done, they only wore natural fabrics like wool and leather. According to the book, the wand uses natural forces to defeat the Gauntlet. If there is anything synthetic between Teal'c and the forces that the wand will call up, it may not work at all, so I'm trying to reduce the number of possible problems, especially since a lot of things are now synthetically made."

"I'll see what I can find." Janet agreed with the reasoning. This wand was a piece of alien technology and it was best to duplicate the conditions under which it had functioned correctly as closely as possible rather than take a chance and have it not work at all.

"Colonel, I want you and your team ready to go in one hour," Hammond ordered. "SG Teams 2, 4, and 7 will go with you to help in the search."

PX8267

Daniel paced around the Pegasus statue. Jack had ordered him to stay in the atrium, while he and the others searched for the wand they needed to cure Teal'c. Jack had told him it would be easier if the searchers knew where to find him, when they located a possible match.

He had put up a token protest about being excluded from the search, because if he hadn't Jack would have known something was up. He didn't need Jack suspicious about what he might be hiding. And he was hiding something, the warning Adam had found in the book - all magic comes at a price. Unfortunately, it hadn't indicated what the cost would be for using the wand and the only Wiccan he'd known about at the SGC, hadn't been able to give him a definite idea of what might happen, just a few possibilities. The reason he hadn't mentioned any of this in the briefing was because he knew Jack too well. If O'Neill thought there was even a hint of danger, he would insist on doing the job himself, and there was no way he could this time.

"Dr. Jackson." Ferretti came up behind him. "I think I found another possible match."

Daniel took the wand from him. It was the right length but the others had been, too. The problem was that while nearly everyone had an idea what rose quartz and amethyst looked like, not too many knew what adventurine looked like, including him. He'd borrowed a piece of adventurine from the extensive collection of raw gem stones and crystals Dr. Therrian kept in her office. As a Wiccan, she sometimes used them for various things like meditation and spellcasting. Comparing the deep green almost black silver flecked stone to the ones on the wand, he found a match. Now, did it have a Celtic dragon etched in the metal just below the clear quarts cluster? Taking out his magnifying glass, he looked for it.

Yes! There it was, a very small, detailed dragon in the Celtic style.

"This is the one we need!" Reaching for his radio, he called, "Jack, Ferretti found the wand."

"You're sure it's the right one?" Jack's doubt came through loud and clear.

Daniel rolled his eyes. "Yes, Jack. It matches the picture and has everything it's supposed to have. We need to get back to base ASAP. Sunset is around 5:30 today and in order for this to work we need to be able to place Teal'c in full sunlight."

He heard Jack issue the recall order.

SGC Gate Room - Oct 6, 2001, 4:00pm

"Off-World activation!" Lieutenant Harriman's voice announced over the loudspeaker. "Incoming traveler."

The alarm sounded throughout the base as the announcement was repeated. The General quickly headed to the control room, watching the remaining chevrons light up on the Stargate, followed by the huge plasma swirl that became the wormhole's event horizon. While there were three other teams off-world currently besides the ones with SG-1, who were due back today, Hammond was hoping it was SG-1.

His wish was granted, as a moment later the computer identified the incoming signal.

"It's SG-1, sir." Harriman relaxed slightly, removing his finger from the button that would close the iris.

Special Forces soldiers were standing ready in the gate room, just in case the returning group had brought back some unfriendly company. SG-1 was well known for being able to find trouble on the simplest missions and bringing it back with them. Hammond joined them a few minutes later.

As the four teams came through the gate, Hammond saw that Dr. Jackson was holding a gem-studded wand carefully in his hands. It looked like a work of art, not a useful tool.

"Is that it, Dr. Jackson?" Hammond asked.

"Yes, Sir." Daniel handed it over for the General's inspection.

"How long will it take you to get ready to do the treatment?" Like O'Neill, Hammond couldn't say the word 'spell'. It wasn't a term he wasn't comfortable with.

"We should be able to perform the spell today, unless there has been a sudden change in the weather," Daniel told him. "I checked earlier and sunset is supposed to be around 5:30 today, so it needs to be done before then. All I need to do is stop by my office and pick up the book."

"I'll notify Dr. Frasier and have her team meet you at the entrance to the mountain," Hammond told them. "Good luck."

"We can use all of that we can get." Jack agreed as they headed out of the gate room.

"You look worried, Daniel." Jack commented as they took the elevator up. He had gone with Daniel to get the book and at the last minute Daniel decided to make sure nothing he was wearing could interfere with the spell and had changed into jeans, a cotton tee-shirt, and a pair of sneakers he could slip out of easily.

Daniel didn't look up from the silver book, as he answered, "I am a little. While I am good with languages, speaking Sheemos is a little like speaking Chinese - how a word is spoken is just as important as the word itself. I can't afford to make any mistakes this time."

"You said Dr. Pierson went over it with you until you were word perfect. I've seen how quickly you can pick up languages, so I don't think you'll have any problems," Jack reassured him. "Just take it slow and easy."

The elevator came to a stop and Sam, Jack, and Daniel stepped out to see Janet and several orderlies waiting for them near the entrance to Cheyenne Mountain. Teal'c was lying on a gurney, and Janet was carrying a container that would hold the symbiote while the procedure was done.

"Let's get this show on the road." Jack ordered as he and the others took up positions around the gurney.

Shoving the gurney outside the fence, they looked for a patch of ground that would fit the requirements needed for the procedure. On the sunny side of the slope, they found a patch of largely rocky ground that fit the necessary conditions.

"Not the best option," Jack observed, "but we're running out of daylight. Let's do it, people. Get ready to do your thing, Daniel."

After Janet removed the symbiote, Jack and the four orderlies carried the unconscious Jaffa from the gurney to the sunniest patch of ground, setting him down where there were few rocks.

"Sam, will you hold the book for me?" Daniel asked, as he stepped carefully down the slope to stand barefooted beside Teal'c.

"Sure." Sam positioned herself beside him, holding the book the way he wanted it.

Daniel held the wand over Teal'c, making sure the quartz cluster caught the rays of the sun. Slowly and carefully, he recited the spell, with occasional glances at the book to refresh his memory. After the last word had been spoken, he placed the wand carefully in the middle of Teal'c's chest and braced himself for whatever would happen.

As Jack watched, the wand started glowing. The glow spread quickly over Teal'c's body, then spread over Daniel as well. "Daniel!"

"I'm okay, Jack," the glowing shape of Daniel told him. "Adam said this would happen."

Before O'Neill could say anything else, the glow became so bright that he had to shield his eyes against it. A moment later, the glare vanished and he was able to see the things around him. He quickly located Daniel, sitting slumped on the ground near Teal'c. After a few more blinks to clear away the sparkles, he could see that the bracer was gone from Teal'c's arm. In fact it was nowhere to be seen.

As Dr. Frasier moved in to check Teal'c, O'Neill shouted, "What the hell happened, Daniel?!"

"Could you please talk a little softer?" Daniel requested. "I've got a headache."

"What exactly did Adam tell you would happen?" Jack asked as he knelt beside the younger man.

"He told me that, according to the book, all magic comes at a price - usually for the spellcaster and that the person holding the wand is the spellcaster. He couldn't tell me what the price would be, so I asked Dr. Therrian in Geology. She's a Wiccan. She said that I would probably feel very tired, like I'd just finished running a marathon."

"Why didn't you tell us that this morning?" Sam demanded.

"Because Jack would have tried to stop me from doing it."

"Damn right I would have." Jack agreed. "I would have insisted on holding the damned wand myself if I'd known that was going to happen."

"Then Teal'c would be dead." Daniel looked up, his face wearing its most stubborn expression. "The person holding the wand has to say the spell and you couldn't have done that. I was the only one who could." He turned his attention to Dr. Frasier. "How's Teal'c?"

"Better." Janet came over to check him out. "I put the symbiote back."

"I am fine, DanielJackson," Teal'c interrupted. "How are you?"

"Just a little tired and hungry," Daniel assured the Jaffa as Dr. Frasier continued to check him over. "It's nothing that a very LARGE steak, a loaded baked potato, and three pieces of cheesecake can't fix."

"I would be honored to supply the meal as soon as Dr. Frasier releases us." Teal'c told him solemnly.

Joe's Bar - 11:30pm Oct 31, 2001

Joe came back from locking the front door and saw that Adam and MacLeod had already started with the clean-up after the University Faculty's Halloween party. Seeing Adam head into the back, with an armload of bottles, Joe headed over to speak with Mac before he got back.

The old man had been very quiet and solitary the last few weeks and that wasn't normal for him. Methos needed people the way plants needed sunlight, so he wanted to find out what was wrong. Methos probably wouldn't tell him, but MacLeod might and as long as it wasn't immortal business, he might be able to help.

"It was nice to see the old man enjoying himself tonight," Joe commented. "It makes a nice change from the last few weeks."

"Aye," MacLeod agreed, but said nothing more.

Since the subtle approach hadn't worked, Joe tried the direct one. "Is there a problem with Adam?"

Duncan looked up surprised, then told him, "Noh, he's just trying to remember something."

Knowing that an immortal's memory was damn near phenomenal and that the only period of his life Methos had ever had trouble recalling were his mortal years, Joe asked worriedly. "Is it something to do with Mael?"

"No." MacLeod was quick to reassure him. "It was after he became immortal..."

Before he could say any more, they were both startled by the sound of breaking glass. Lots of it.

Rushing to the back, they found Adam standing in the middle of a pile of broken bottles, righting one of metal storage shelves. His clothes were soaked with liquor, and there were traces of blood on his face and hands where fragments of flying glass had cut him. It was the ashen pallor of his face that alarmed his friends. He'd looked as though he'd seen a ghost.

Worried, MacLeod moved toward his friend. He couldn't remember ever seeing him look so pale or frightened. Nor had he ever seen him stand so still, almost like a statue, not even when he'd remembered his life with Mael. "Adam, are you okay? What's wrong?"

"They've opened the Stargate." Methos whispered. "Someone dug up that damned ring and figured out how to make it work!"

"What stargate? Make what ring work?" MacLeod questioned. "I don't understand what you're talking about."

"I'll explain later MacLeod." Methos moved past the Watcher and back into the bar. "Joe, I need to borrow your phone."

Still confused, Joe and MacLeod followed him into the office. The old man still looked pale and shaken, but he also looked determined as he dialed a phone number.

"Jarod? Hi, it's Ben Matthews," Methos identified himself. After a moment's silence, he said, "No, no, the boy is fine. Your father made contact with my people, and they got him safely out of the country. He is going by the name David now and the last time I heard from the couple raising him, David was having a wonderful time and learning a lot."

After listening for a minute, Methos replied. "If the Centre is stupid enough to try and take him, they will get a rather nasty surprise. Like me, the couple taking care of David are very good at dealing with problems."

Methos came to the point of his call. "Jarod, are you working on anything at the moment? ... I need a favor. I need some information and retrieving it will require a more delicate touch than I have with computers... I may be good, but I'm not good enough to get in and out of top secret files without being detected."

He laughed. "No, I'm not planning on destroying the world. I just need information on some very old artifacts that the military has in its possession and on a scientist who is working on them."

Methos looked relieved. "Thanks, Jarod. Is your e-mail still the same?" He grabbed a scrap of paper and scribbled something down. "I'll send you sketches of the artifacts and what little information I have on Dr. Daniel Jackson. Please get me everything you can on them."

"You've remembered." MacLeod was certain of it.

Methos nodded. "And it explains why Mael never ventured into Egyptian territory, even when he had me with him. I'd wondered about that. He always wanted to be worshipped as a god, and they would have done it."

"You mean there's something worse than Mael out there?" Joe had trouble believing it. What could possibly be worse than a man who for millennia had fed off the lives of others, caused all kinds of pain and suffering for Methos, and would have inflicted the same fate on the whole world if the old man hadn't killed him a few months ago.

"Yes, there is." Methos didn't elaborate.

The memories clearly weren't pleasant, so Joe changed the subject to give him time to collect himself. "Who is Dr. Daniel Jackson?"

"Dr. Daniel Jackson is someone who should be immortal and isn't." Rubbing his face, Methos grimaced at the smell of alcohol coming from his clothes. "Joe, if you don't mind, can we discuss this another time? I need to get cleaned up. I smell like I've been swimming in whiskey."

"How about the two of you joining me for lunch on Sunday?" Duncan offered. "We can discuss this then."

Joe nodded.

"Okay," Adam agreed. "Mac, would you drive me home? Smelling like this, if I'm unfortunate enough to be stopped by the police on one of their spot checks, they'll arrest me for DWI before I open my mouth."

MacLeod nodded. "Sorry about leaving you with the mess, Joe."

"That's okay, I've got people coming in early tomorrow. They'll take care of it." Curiosity was eating the Watcher up, but he knew the old man wasn't ready to talk about it.

Adam looked at the Watcher. "Joe, if you'll let me know how much I owe you for the stock I accidentally destroyed, I'll make it up to you."

"Sure." Joe nodded. "You just take care of yourself, Adam."

Once they were on their way to Adam's apartment, MacLeod asked. "Who is, or was, the Immortal?"

"Ramirez."

"So it can be fixed." Then MacLeod remembered how old Ramirez had been. "Methos, if this occurred about 2500 years ago, why couldn't you remember it?"

"Ramirez lied to Connor about his age," Methos told him. "At the time of his death, Ramirez was over 9,000 years old. Only I was older than him."

Flashback

Osiris' Temple, Ancient Egypt - Approximately 10,000 years ago

"Where are we, Ciron?" Methos asked following the Djinn into the ornate building.

"This is the temple dedicated to the false god Osiris. We came here, so you could see the truth for yourself, young one." Ciron told him. "Even though your head may believe what we have told you, your heart may not. The final phase of the Great Working will begin soon, and if there is even a moment's hesitation on your part, all will be undone. One of our seers told me that today the false god Osiris and his mate will be imprisoned by their fellows. You need to see them in their true form, Methos."

Methos looked around at the people passing by, some moving quickly as if they had important errands to complete and others moving carefully as if trying to avoid notice. None of them seemed to notice the two who did not belong.

"I have cast a seeming on us," the Djinn told him. "No one will see or hear us, unless I wish it, and then we will appear as if we belong here."

As they neared for the inner sanctum, Methos gripped his head as a horrible, discordant noise filled it, and an unpleasant itchy sensation moved up his spine to join the noise in his head.

"Methos, what's wrong?" Ciron held him up.

"My head feels like it's about to split apart."

Knowing what he was, the Djinn looked quickly around to see who else was reacting. There. It had to be the priest who was also crumpled on the ground, his hands gripping his head. Something was wrong with this immortal, but right now he didn't have time to figure out what it was. He had to get Methos to the inner sanctum so he could see the Goa'ulds true form. He quickly sent a message sphere to his sister to warn her of what was coming, then with a flick of his hand, the unknown man disappeared.

As soon as the man was gone, Methos was able to get back to his feet. Ciron quickly led his charge to a shadowed corner of the inner sanctum. There were four Goa'ulds in the room. Two were holding a third against the altar, while the fourth aimed a golden beam at the imprisoned host. After a few moments, the man's throat and chest ripped apart and a serpent was pulled out by the beam. The body was released and one of the other two held up a canopic jar. The one directing the beam, lowered the writhing snake into the open mouthed jar.

Methos stared open-mouthed at the tableau in front of him. He had thought Mael was evil, but Mael was a child compared to these things. He could feel the malevolence and hatred coming from the serpent that had just been imprisoned. He knew if it ever got out of the prison its fellows were putting it in, the universe would weep in sorrow because of the destruction it would cause.

"What will happen to the man, now that that thing is gone?" Methos wanted to know.

Ciron looked solemn. "He died the moment the parasite was removed. His ka is now at peace. It is time for us to leave."

Djinn compound near the Giza plateau

"You will need to prepare yourself, young one. The stranger from the temple is with Kiya," Ciron told Methos as he led him to Kiya's chambers.

Methos swallowed hard, then nodded. Kiya's chambers were at the end of the hall and he could already feel the unpleasant, itchy feeling creeping up his spine and into his head.

"Ciron." Hhis sister kissed his cheek as they came into the room. "Did it go well?"

"Yes, he saw their true form." Ciron turned his attention to the sleeping man. "What have you found out about this one?"

"His name is Ramessu and he serves as a priest in the temple of the false god Osiris." Kiya stroked the dark head of the sleeping man. "He died a few days ago, and Osiris revived him in the sarcophagus. Knowing that the Goa'uld don't care much for humans, except as slaves and hosts, I wondered why. Shemay looked into the past and told me that the Goa'uld Osiris intended to use this one as his new host, so he could hide from his fellows. Osiris didn't know that he was an immortal. The problem is that his immortality had begun to work its changes and the sarcophagus interfered with that, so he is trapped halfway - neither immortal, or completely mortal anymore."

End Flashback

MacLeod wasn't surprised by this revelation. He'd thought for some time that the ancient immortal was even older than he originally thought.

Methos stared out the window. MacLeod was certain he was seeing ancient Egypt and not the passing buildings. "In a nutshell, Mac, almost 10,000 years ago a race of parasitic aliens dominated portions of the Earth by pretending to be gods. Ramirez or Ramessu, as he was known then, was trapped in-between by an alien device used by the false gods. The aliens were driven from the Earth, and the stargate was buried so they couldn't come back."

Methos sounded slightly cynical as he added, "Remember when I told you that after Mael I was going to go back to being the same selfish, manipulating, beer-swilling, plain ol' guy I'd always been, and that I was no hero?"

MacLeod nodded.

"It seems I was wrong. Killing Mael wasn't the first time I've saved the world." Methos slumped down in the passenger seat. "I just hope it's not going to become a habit."

MacLeod wisely made no comment, deciding a change of subject was in order. "This David, is he the boy living with Gina and Robert?"

"Yes. And, Mac, for the boy's sake, please forget you ever heard that conversation." Methos sounded deadly serious.

"Does Jarod know about us?"

"He knows about Benjamin Matthews. Saw me die and come back to life."

"Aren't you worried he'll tell someone about you?" Duncan couldn't believe the old man could be so blasé about a mortal who was not a Watcher, knowing he was immortal.

"He won't." Methos was positive. "He has his own problems, because he is a very unique individual. He's a human chameleon. I've only met one other like him before and that was a very long time ago. Jarod would die before betraying me to the people pursuing him or to anyone else."

Duncan's Loft - Nov 4, 2001 2:00 p.m.

As he sprawled on the couch after lunch, Methos asked, "Where would you like me to begin?"

Since Mac already knew some of the facts, he gestured for Joe to go first.

"How can Dr. Daniel Jackson be an immortal and yet not be?"

"It would be more accurate to say that Dr. Jackson is trapped between being a pre-immortal and an immortal," Methos told him. "He died, and the process of his becoming an immortal began. But it was interfered with by an alien regeneration device called a sarcophagus. He is the second immortal I've encountered who was trapped in-between by the device."

"Who was the first?" Joe wanted to know.

"Ramirez."

"That's not possible," Joe disagreed. "The Watchers have Ramirez's 'First Death' on record."

Methos shook his head. "You have a death on record for him. Like me, he'd learned how to control his quickening so he could appear as a mortal, or as if he'd just had his first death if he had to. Ramirez died the first time almost 10,000 years ago. Immortally speaking, he was only a little younger than me."

Joe's jaw dropped. "You're telling me you're almost 10,000 years old?"

"Give or take a couple of centuries." Methos agreed.

"Did you know?" Joe asked MacLeod.

"I've suspected for some time that he was more than 5,000 years old," Duncan told the Watcher, "but I didn't know he was that old."

"Shall I continue, or would you two like to discuss my age some more?" Methos interrupted with a smile.

"Sorry, oh Great Storyteller," Joe gave a seated bow, "please continue. Do you know how Ramirez became fully immortal? I mean he had to finish becoming one at some point, or else the Watchers wouldn't have been able to record what we thought was his First Death."

"I killed him and shoved my quickening through him," Methos stated. "It was the only way to burn out the energy residue left behind by the sarcophagus."

"You said this sarcophagus was an alien regeneration device. How did it wind up on Earth, and how did Dr. Jackson come in contact with it?" Duncan asked.

"That's a bit of a long story, and if I hadn't lived through part of it, I would have thought it was a work of fiction, or that someone had watched too many episodes of the X-Files." Methos took a long swallow of beer before continuing. "Mainstream historians and archeologists all pretty much agree that Civilization began about 5,000 years ago, give or take a bit. They're wrong. Civilization really began about 10,000 years ago. At that time, most of southern Europe, the Middle and Far East were under the domination of a race of parasitic aliens, who maintained their influence by pretending to be the gods of whatever region they ruled. The sarcophagus was used by them to convince their slaves that they were Gods and could not be killed - at least not permanently."

Methos shifted so that he was leaning forward, his beer bottle dangling between his hands as he stared at the floor. "To the Goa'uld, humans are nothing more than chattel to be used as they saw fit. Many were taken off-world to serve as slaves on other worlds controlled by the false gods. And a few unlucky ones were either taken over and used as hosts by the parasites, or used as incubators for their larval children. I think that's the reason Mael stayed away from any area they ruled. He wouldn't have wanted to be controlled by anyone else, and they would have made him a host in a heartbeat because he did have the ability to do magic. The Goa'uld would have wanted the little power he did possess under their control. They took anything they wanted and destroyed what they couldn't have. Fortunately for humanity, there was another race on Earth. Otherwise we would probably still be under their control. They helped us drive off the Goa'uld, but it wasn't entirely altruistic on their part. They were saving their own lives as well as ours."

Joe stared at him in disbelief. "Are you telling me that 10,000 years ago, there were two alien races on Earth?"

"Neither was native to our world," Methos agreed, "but I don't know that humanity would consider the second group aliens. After all, they are a large part of the folklore of just about any country you'd care to name. Even Mac should know a few stories about the Sidhe."

"The Sidhe?" Duncan was startled. "They're strictly a Celtic legend. I've never heard any tales of the Sidhe in the Far East or the Middle East."

"Yes, you have," Methos countered. "Like the Celts, the Sidhe have clans and each clan had its own territory. While I don't know the name of the Far East clan, the clan in the Middle East was the Djinn."

"Why aren't there any legends or stories about these...Goa'uld? I mean, how could the whole world forget that they existed, especially since Egypt was so obsessive about recording its history?" Duncan asked.

"They were just as obsessive about eliminating history they didn't want to remember." Methos pointed out. "Akenaten was just one example. But they weren't responsible for wiping out all knowledge on the Goa'uld. When the Sidhe did the Great Working that drove the active Goa'uld off the Earth, there was a geas of sorts as part of it. Since most races at that time kept their histories orally, including Egypt, the geas kept them from talking about the false gods. Eventually all those who had lived during the time of the Goa'uld were gone, and since all traces of their occupation were also removed, later generations never knew about them. The Djinn even buried the Pyramids. Khufu and his successors just dug them out."

"When did you live through this?" Duncan asked. "Was it after you escaped the tomb, or before you joined the Horsemen?"

"Neither." Methos could see his answer had confused them and proceeded to explain. "Ciron, the Djinn I spent the most time with, told me some of the history and what would happen if the Goa'uld weren't driven from the Earth. They needed my help in their Great Working. It was a spell they had created, using all the powers and skills they had at their disposal. But in order for it to work they needed a human capable of performing magic to bind it to the Earth, and it had to be one who was capable of handling a great deal of energy being poured through their body, on the level of that Dark Quickening in Italy. I agreed to do it, partly because they promised I wouldn't remember anything of my life with Mael, and at that time I really wanted to forget ALL of it, and partly because I wanted to atone for what I had done to Inna and the children. They removed me from the tomb - when, I don't know - and after the Great Working, they put me back."

"Why?" Joe was shocked.

"They told me it was so the path my life was to take wouldn't be changed." Methos smiled. "But I think they did bend the rules a little, destroying the stones sealing the tomb so that I could escape when I awakened. The reason I think this is because I have no memory of waking up in the tomb with it still sealed, after I left them."

"What does all this have to do with that stargate you mentioned? Or those artifacts you wanted your friend to research?" Joe wanted to get back to the matter at hand, Dr. Jackson.

"They are one and the same." Methos pulled a sketchbook out of his satchel and flipped it open to a pair of pages. "Joe, I need you to promise that none of this will be written down anywhere. Not in any Chronicle, or even in your private journals. Most of Humanity isn't ready to handle it, no matter what some may believe."

"You have my word," Joe promised.

"This is the stargate." He pointed to the detailed drawing of a large elaborately carved ring. "It was used by the false gods, and probably by others before them, to travel from this world to others. When the Goa'uld were driven from the Earth, the Djinn and the Egyptians buried the Stargate along with its control mechanism in separate locations. Each had a coverstone," he tapped the other drawing, "placed over it with a warning, to try and stop anybody from using it. Unfortunately, the stargate was found in 1928 by a Dr. Langford and the U.S. military got hold of it during World War II. They finally figured out how to make it work a few years ago and have been using it ever since. The end result being that they've brought the attention of the Goa'uld back to Earth."

"Why bury it?" MacLeod asked. "If the stargate was that dangerous, why didn't the Djinn just destroy it?"

"I suggested that to them, but they said, if they did that, a large part of the Earth would also be destroyed." Methos told him. "The material the Stargate is made out of acts like a superconductor. It is capable of absorbing and discharging large quantities of energy. If the Stargate were destroyed, the devastation would be like at least a hundred nuclear warheads going off all at once. Life for about a million miles in every direction from the blast would be completely decimated. Safer to bury it and hope it is never found. As I recall, it was buried very deep, along with anything Goa'uld that wasn't a technological device. The Sidhe destroyed every sarcophagus they could find. Ciron told me that while they could repair any injury and even bring someone back from the dead, they have a very nasty side effect with repeated use. From the descriptions they gave me, Kronos would've looked like a very devout Catholic priest when compared to someone who has used a sarcophagus repeatedly."

"Where does Dr. Daniel Jackson fit into the picture?" Joe asked.

"Dr. Jackson is a archeologist and linguist, quite a good one. Mainstream archeologists won't associate with him because they consider him a nut case for insisting the Pyramids are older than the more famous archeologists say they are. He speaks at least 23 languages, including oddly enough, Goa'uld. He was brought onto the Stargate Project by Catherine Langford, the daughter of the man who found the stargate. He correctly translated the warning on the coverstone and helped them figure out how to make the stargate work," Methos told them. "When the military sent a team through to the location listed on the coverstone, Dr. Jackson went with them, to get them back home. Dr. Jackson died on Abydos and was revived by Ra in his sarcophagus. I don't know why he did it. Ra was the worst of the Goa'uld. When he was killed by Dr. Jackson's team, the humans on Abydos were freed from Goa'uld domination, but that one action was enough to bring the Goa'uld's attention back to the Earth. Remember that fireball in the night sky a few years ago?"

Both men nodded. It had made the news and there was still a lot of disagreement among astronomers as to whether or not they were asteroids that had collided outside the atmosphere, or something else much more dangerous to Earth. Astronomers had also taken a lot of flak for not warning the people of Earth about the asteroids when they were still a long way off.

"According to the reports Jarod got for me, it was two Goa'uld motherships being destroyed. They had come to conquer the Earth and bring it under their control," Methos informed them. "They were stopped by SG-1, a small 4 person team that managed to get on board their ships before they left their staging area. Jackson was part of that team."

"I don't want this to sound cruel," Duncan began, "but given that Dr. Jackson is actively fighting these Goa'uld, do you think it's wise to make him fully immortal? I mean what would happen to him and us if the Goa'uld made him a host?"

"Being immortal would be the one thing that would be in his favor, if they tried." Methos smiled for the first time. "Ciron told me, we are the only ones on Earth truly safe from that particular threat. No immortal can be made a host. I don't know if it's because of our immune systems, or our quickening, but if Goa'uld tries to make a host out one of us, they die. A pre-immortal can be made a host, but then they would never become immortal."

"There are a couple of other things to consider as well," Joe pointed out. "Even if you do manage somehow to get Dr. Jackson away from the military long enough to correct the problem of his immortality, how are you, or any other immortal, going to train him? There's no way he can disappear for several weeks or months and come back without being considered a security risk. There's aslo the other problem of what happens if the military sees him die and come back to life. They may start hunting for others like him."

Leaning back against the sofa, Methos told them, "There's another problem to add to this mix. When my quickening goes through him, it's going to wake up his ability to do magic, which means he'll also have to be taught how to use that as well."

His friends stared at him open-mouthed.

"Just like Cassandra knew about my ability when she bothered to 'see' it, I knew about Daniel's when I met him. Why do you think I taught him how to do that Spell, Mac?" Methos asked. "Merlin's spells can't be done by anyone who doesn't have magical ability, even if that ability is latent. Which is a good thing considering how harmful some of them can be."

"Does he know he can do magic?" MacLeod asked.

"No, it's under his unconscious control." Methos proceeded to explain "If he believes strongly enough that something should happen, then his latent ability will make it happen, even if it doesn't quite take the form he wants it to."

Daniel's Apartment - Dec 6, 2001 6:30pm

There was a knock at the door.

"I'll get it," Jack called out to Daniel who was in the bathroom.

"Thanks, Jack. The money for the pizza is on the coffee table."

The person on the other side of the door wasn't the pizza delivery guy. He was a dark haired man in a Fed EX uniform. His badge identified him as "Jarod Walker".

"I have a package for Dr. Daniel Jackson," he announced.

"Dr. Jackson is a bit busy at the moment. I'll sign for it." O'Neill held out his hand for the clipboard.

Walker glanced at the package. "I'm sorry sir, but only Dr. Jackson can sign for the package, after I have verified his identity."

"Please wait there." Jack didn't invite him in. Too many years in covert ops, had made him wary of letting strangers in. Especially when they were wearing a uniform that normally would have gotten them invited in without a second thought.

"Danny," Jack called. "There's a Fed EX guy at the front door for you. Were you expecting a package?"

"I forgot about that." Daniel hurried out of the bathroom, zipping up his pants. "Wouldn't he give it to you?"

"He said you are the only one who can sign for it, after he has confirmed you're you, so you'd better bring your wallet."

"Dr. Daniel Jackson?" The Fed EX man asked when Daniel opened the door.

"Yes." He opened his wallet and allowed the man to compare him to his driver's license photo.

"Thank you, sir." The dark haired man handed his wallet back with the clipboard. "If you'll just sign on line five, I'll give you your package."

Once he had the flat parcel, Daniel thanked him and closed the door.

"What is it?" Jack wanted to know.

"I don't know." Daniel stared at the flat Fed Ex mailing envelope. "My next door neighbor gave me the delivery notice last night when I got home. I called Fed Ex from the SGC to arrange to get this redelivered. They said they could try and redeliver it today since they were going to have trucks in this area. I told them I wouldn't be home until about 6:30. They said they would have one of the drivers who did the picks up from the late drop boxes bring it by."

Before Jack could comment on how unusual that was, there was another knock.

"That's gotta be the pizza." Daniel announced as he ripped open the seal on the Fed EX mailer.

When Jack turned away from the door, pizza boxes in hand, he saw his young friend standing there, his face extremely pale as he stared at the piece of paper in his hand. "Are you all right? What's wrong?"

"Ummm...uh...," he shook his head as he slid the piece of paper back into the mailer, "nothing's wrong. I just got something unexpected. The son of a friend of my parents' found some of their papers in his father's personal effects and thought I might want them."

"How did he find out where you lived?" Jack was suspicious. He knew that most of Daniel's former colleagues wouldn't have anything to do with him, fearing that the taint of his heresy would rub off on them.

"Probably from the hospital my grandfather was staying at. I left a contact address and phone number with them in case something happened to Nick." Daniel's hands fidgeted with the mailer. "Since Nick is with the giants on '377, I told the hospital he was going to be staying with me. This Jason Vinetti probably tried to contact him to see if he could tell him how to reach me, and the hospital gave him this address."

Before Jack could make any comment, Daniel looked at his watch and announced, "the hockey game is starting. Turn on the TV while I get the plates and beer."

When Daniel returned with the paper plates and beer, but without the mailer, Jack was certain something was going on. Daniel had never been a very good liar. He vowed to keep a close eye on his archeologist for the next few weeks.

Daniel's Office, SGC - Dec 7, 2001 9:00am

Daniel opened the folder he'd stuck the contents of the mailer in for the third time that morning and studied them again. He was still trying to figure out who on Earth knew as much as those who had worked on the original Stargate project.

The letter that had accompanied the contents of the mailer was written in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, probably to insure that if anybody else saw the contents they would think it was research.

Daniel's mind automatically translated the hieroglyphs as he read the letter again.

Dr. Jackson,

I realize the contents of this packet must come as a surprise, but let me assure you that I am not a member of a foreign government, nor do I work for any US government agency, and last but most importantly, I am not a Goa'uld.

Also we have met before. It is because of that meeting that I learned something very important about you, and you need to hear it for yourself so you can decide what you want to do about the information.

You're probably saying to yourself, why didn't this person just put the information in this letter? Well, I couldn't take the risk it would fall into the hands of someone like the NID, nor could I just give it to you over the phone. This must be discussed - in person.

If you want this information, please call 888-555-3522 and ask for Nanny Joe. Nanny Joe will arrange a meeting between us.. You may choose the time and place. The only conditions I put on it are that it be in a public place, and that it not be in Colorado Springs. Also, you must come alone.

There was no signature or cartouche to identify the sender.

Three sketches had been included with the letter. One was of the coverstone, showing some details that had been eroded to the point where they could barely be made out by the time he'd seen it. The sketch also included the same translation he'd come up with for the hieroglyphs: "A million years into the sky is Ra Sun God. Sealed and buried for all time Stargate."

The second one showed a detailed sketch of Stargate as it was probably set up back when Ra was using it. The three pyramids on the Giza plateau were behind it and a DHD was in front of it, with a set of steps leading up to the gate. There appeared to be people stepping through it.

The third one was the one that had convinced him to make the requested call. It was a sketch of Ra in full regalia as he had seen him on Abydos. There were only three Tau'ri still living who had seen that particular Goa'uld. He knew from reading the post-Abydos mission report that Jack and the surviving SF soldiers who had gone to Abydos had only given a general description of Ra to their debriefers. There was no way it could have been used to produce a sketch this detailed. Besides who would want to go to all the trouble of drawing a dead Goa'uld.

After two rings, the phone on the other end was picked up. He could hear a guitar playing a slow, bluesy kind of music in the background as a voice said, "Hello."

He felt stupid saying it, but he had to know what was going on. "Is Nanny Joe there?"

"It's for you," the voice hollered and he heard the music stop.

A moment later, a different, but slightly familiar, husky voice asked, "Dr. Daniel Jackson?"

"Yes and I have a number of questions."

"Which I unfortunately can't answer. All I have been asked to do is arrange the meeting," the voice told him. "You can call me Joseph, if you want. Do you know where you would like to meet the person who can answer your questions?"

Jack started to push Daniel's office door open wide, when he heard him say, "I will be at the Cherry Creek Mall in Denver on the 15th. We can meet in the food court at 1."

Who was Danny arranging to meet? Was it the sender of that Fed EX packet? Jack carefully pushed the door open a little more, so he could hear a bit better without revealing his presence.

"Let me give you my home number, just in case there's going to be a problem meeting on the 15th." He heard Daniel rattle off his home number.

There was more silence, then Daniel said, "I'm looking forward to it."

"Setting up a date, Danny boy?" Jack asked as he came into Daniel's office, in time to see Jackson hang up the phone. "Who's the lucky lady?"

"No one you know," Daniel mumbled, picking up a picture of wall carvings brought back by SG-6. "I asked one of my neighbors for help shopping for my Angel, but she's leaving town to visit her family back in Virginia. She gave me the name and number for a friend of hers in Denver who said she was willing to help me."

"I thought you did that with Sam." Jack was more certain than ever that something was going on. Daniel always took Sam with him when he went shopping for the Angel he'd selected from the Salvation Army's Angel Tree. He did it partly because he wanted her help and partly to con her into getting an Angel of her own. It was a yearly Christmas ritual with them.

"She isn't going to be able to go this year and the presents have to be returned by the 17th, so I had to find somebody else to help me." Daniel didn't look up as he made notes about the carvings.

Realizing Daniel was on his guard and wasn't going to give anything away right now, O'Neill changed the subject. "I'm going to the commissary for some breakfast and thought I'd see if you wanted to join me?"

Food Court, Cherry Creek Mall, Denver CO - Dec 15, 2001 12:15pm

"There he is." MacLeod watched as the young man Adam was here to meet juggled several bulky bags and a tray to one of the few empty tables at the far end of the large food court.

"How do I feel?" Methos asked in Gaelic

"You barely feel like a pre-immortal to me. How long can you keep your Presence suppressed?" MacLeod looked at his friend concerned.

"Long enough. We don't want him collapsing in pain, and he will if I feel even remotely immortal. Keep an eye out for O'Neill. Jarod said he was there when Daniel got the packet, so he may follow Jackson." Methos scanned the area one more time, before heading into the food court.

MacLeod nodded. "Good luck."

12:30

"I thought you might decide to show up early."

Daniel almost choked on a mouthful of Chinese food. "Adam!"

In the past week he had considered a number of people as the possible sender of the packet and Dr. Adam Pierson hadn't even been on the list. "You sent that packet?"

The other man nodded as he set his tray down across and slightly off to one side of him, as if he were a complete stranger sharing a table in the crowded food court.

"Why?" Daniel asked in ancient Egyptian.

"It was the fastest way to get your attention." Adam replied in the same language before taking a bite of his pizza. "I needed to speak to you - without your guard dog around."

"How do you know about the Doorway to Heaven?"

"Is this a test? You know perfectly well that I didn't use Budge for the translation I sent you. Didn't need to. I was there when they buried that damn Stargate." Normally he wouldn't have made such an admission, especially to another immortal, but he had to convince Jackson he wasn't a security threat, and that he could trust him.

"You claimed not to be a Goa'uld in the letter you sent, and now you're telling me you're almost 10,000 years old. How is that possible?" Daniel eyed him with suspicion.

Adam sighed. "That's what I needed to talk to you about. You and I should be the same, but that sarcophagus you were put in when you died, interfered with your metamorphosis."

Before Daniel could make any comment to this, a throbbing pain suddenly ripped through his head. As he dropped his fork and gripped his head, a tall person wearing a jacket with the hood pulled up passed their table, making an odd hand gesture.

Adam looked around. "Did you set me up, Dr. Jackson?"

Daniel took several deep breaths as the throbbing pain disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. "What are you talking about?"

"Did you tell the military you were meeting me?" Adam inquired. "Or about the contents of the packet?"

"Why would I do that?"

"To alert them to a possible security breach in your Stargate program," Adam pointed out. "The military would love to know how I know what I do about the Stargate."

"Well, I didn't say anything to anybody," Daniel told him. "I wanted to hear what you had to say before I did anything. Especially since you were able to reproduce the coverstone and Ra so exactly."

"Then your guard dog must have overheard you setting up this meeting and decided to follow you," Adam concluded "And he brought some company.".

"What are you talking about?" Daniel was even more confused.

"Colonel O'Neill is on the second level, looking for someone... probably you, and he brought someone, with him who looks like he could give Arnold Schwartzenagger a run for his money."

Daniel looked around and spotted O'Neill and Teal'c in the glass elevator, getting ready to come down into the food court.

Adam stood up and put on his coat. "I have to go. If you want to hear the rest of this, then you'd better come with me."

"Surely Jack can be trusted to hear what you want to say to me," Daniel argued as he put on his coat and gathered up his shopping bags.

"If you want him to know that's up to you, but you should hear all of it before you decide whether or not to tell him. Our kind likes to avoid attracting the attention of any governmental entity."

"You make it sound like you're not human." Daniel muttered.

"Oh, we're quite human, just different." Adam took some of the bags and hustled the younger man toward the back way out of the food court.

They only had a few minutes to get out of sight, while O'Neill was delayed getting off the crowded elevator.

"I thought you said you said you saw Daniel down here." Jack was feeling a little frustrated. He hated going to the malls during the last two weeks before Christmas because the malls to him always resembled war zones, especially with those people who waited until the last minute to do their shopping. They all had a 'take no prisoners' look to them.

"I did, O'Neill," Teal'c assured him. "He was at this table and apparently left rather quickly."

Jack saw what he meant. There were two partially eaten meals sitting on the table. "Do you see him?"

"I do not," Teal'c answered after sweeping the entire area. "O'Neill, are you certain DanielJackson may be heading into danger?"

"No. I am not. It's just a feeling I have," O'Neill told him. "That, combined with how secretive he's been about that packet he got a few weeks ago, has me convinced that something is going on. I'm certain that whoever was meeting here is involved with that packet."

"If he was being threatened, I don't see why he would willingly meet this person," Teal'c pointed out.

"He may have thought he could handle it himself. You know how self-reliant Daniel wants to be," Jack countered, then a thought occurred to him. "Or maybe he isn't the one being threatened, and Daniel's trying to protect someone who is or would be."

"That is indeed something DanielJackson would do," Teal'c agreed. "He often puts himself in danger to protect others, even those he does not know."

"Well, let's see if we can find our wandering archeologist." O'Neill ordered, after taking a final look around the food court. "You take the upper level and I'll take the lower."

Outside the Cherry Creek Mall

As a Jeep Cherokee pulled up, Daniel dropped his bags. A blinding pain, similar to being on the receiving end of the beam from a Goa'uld ribbon device, ripped through his head for the second time today.

"Easy, Daniel." Adam caught him before he crumpled to the ground. "Take a deep breath, and let it slowly out."

He complied, then Adam softly told him, "Take some more deep breaths. Slow and steady. In and out. That feeling in your head will get better and you'll be able to function as you get used to it."

As he was helped into the back of the Cherokee, he heard a familiar voice assuring unseen others that he was alright, that he was just suffering from a bad migraine. He knew the voice wasn't Adam's, but because of the throbbing pain, he couldn't quite place where he'd heard it before. Daniel was fairly certain that this felt worse than any migraine and that he never wanted to get used to this much pain.

As the car started moving, Daniel heard the other person ask, "Where to, Adam?"

"Some place quiet, where we won't be disturbed but Dr. Jackson won't feel threatened or trapped."

A short time later the throbbing pain receded to the point where Daniel could function again. He looked up into the front seat to see who the driver was, and was surprised a second time. "Mr. MacLeod?"

"Hello, Dr. Jackson." MacLeod kept his eyes on the road. "How far did you get?"

"I'd barely gotten started when O'Neill decided to crash the party," Adam told him.

"What are you two talking about?" The pain was making Daniel's patience very thin. "Just tell me without all the cloak and dagger routine."

"All right." Adam looked him straight in the eye. "You're an immortal, just like Duncan and I."

Daniel laughed, staring at the other man in disbelief. "You've got to be kidding. What kind of joke is this? There's no way I'm immortal."

"You are," Adam insisted, then added, "or rather you should be. You were born with the potential to become immortal. It is triggered the first time you die. Normally, from that point on, you no longer age or get sick. You'll heal very quickly from any wounds even those that would normally be fatal, with one exception."

"You really expect me to believe that?" Despite all he had seen on his travels through the Stargate, Daniel couldn't help being skeptical.

"God, I hate doing this." Adam startled Daniel by pulling a knife out of his coat.

"What are you going to do with that?" Daniel pulled as far away from Pierson as he could get, the pain in his head forgotten for the moment, as he wondered what kind of lunatic he was trapped with.

"I'm not going to hurt you. I'm only going to use this to prove a point." Adam assured him.

"Might want to do that outside," MacLeod suggested. "Or do you want to explain the blood stains to the rental company?"

Adam just glared at him as the car came to a stop in a snow covered park near a church. The only ones around were a couple of snowmen. The snow that had come down the night before made the park looked untouched by human hands.

After he and Mac got out of the car, Adam asked, "Are you going to join us, Dr. Jackson?"

Reluctantly, Daniel got out of the car.

"Watch," Adam instructed.

Daniel watched. shocked as Pierson used the knife to cut a deep gouge in his palm. As the blood welled up and dripped into the snow, he couldn't believe that Adam's friend would stand there so calmly while he mutilated himself.

"Are you out of your mind?" Daniel pulled out his handkerchief and grabbed Adam's hand, intending to use it to try and stop the bleeding. Instead, he stared in amazement as little blue streaks of lightening zipped along, repairing the gash in Pierson's hand.

"How? What?" Daniel looked at the two men stunned. "Are you like him, Mr. MacLeod?"

MacLeod nodded.

"He's still a baby, immortally speaking," Adam quipped.

"Watch it, Old Man," MacLeod warned.

"You claim I'm immortal, but I don't heal that quickly and I do get sick. I had my appendix removed last year," Daniel felt compelled to point out.

"I said you should be immortal." Adam reminded him. "You are only the second immortal to be trapped halfway in-between because of a Goa'uld sarcophagus. When you died the first time on Abydos and Ra stuck you in his sarcophagus, your body had already begun the process of becoming immortal. The transformation process was interrupted by the sarcophagus, leaving you stuck in-between. Not what you were, a pre-immortal and not fully immortal either."

"What makes you so sure I'm supposed to be immortal?" Daniel persisted.

"You remember that sharp pain you had in your head a little while ago and at the food court when Mac passed by our table?" When Daniel nodded, Adam continued. "I'm willing to bet you also felt it the day you came to see me at Seacouver University. It probably would have hit you about the same time you reached the floor my office is on."

Daniel didn't know what to say to this, because he was right, and there was no way Pierson could have known.

Adam went on. "After a pre-immortal dies their first death and become an immortal, that sensation acts as an early warning system. Normally it isn't as painful as it is for you, but you've only come halfway. We call it the "Buzz", because to most of us, it feels like being in the middle of a hive of bees."

"What is it supposed to be warning you of?" Daniel wanted to know.

"The presence of another immortal." Adam looked solemn. "It's supposed to put you on alert, because that immortal may want your head."

SGC Gateroom - Dec 18, 2001 10:00pm

In the empty gateroom, Daniel sat against the wall beneath the control room window, staring at the gate. He knew he should be getting some rest because they had a mission tomorrow, but his mind wouldn't shut down. It kept going back over all the things Adam Pierson had told him. Was it only three days ago that his world had been turned upside down - again?

Ordinarily he used his office for his private meditations, but he didn't want to be disturbed tonight and he would be if he were in his office. Jack would come by and make a nuisance of himself until he did what Jack wanted. He didn't need that right now. He needed to come to a decision about what Adam had told him was the only way to correct his halfway state. He required a bit of peace and quiet so he could come to a conclusion about whether or not he trusted Adam Pierson enough to be willing to let the man kill him, even if his death was only supposed to be a temporary condition. Not to mention what his life would be like once he was fully immortal.

He still had trouble believing that there were people on Earth who were immortal, despite the evidence Adam had shown him. Or that he was supposed to be one of them, or more accurately, he would've been one of them, if he hadn't been revived in Ra's sarcophagus.

He found it an interesting contradiction in terms that, according to Adam, an immortal could not die, and yet they could be killed - he shuddered at the thought - by decapitation. And if that happened, it was usually because another immortal wanted their quickening.

Adam had also given him the immortal version of the "Facts of Life". They were all orphans, who lived ordinary mortal lives, with nothing to distinguish them from anybody else, other than the talents they were born with or acquired as they grew up. They aged and were susceptible to all the same diseases and medical problems as other mortals - until they died their first death.

The fact that had made him the saddest had been when Adam had told him that immortals were sterile, even when they were pre-immortal. He and Sha're had wanted lots of children, and now he knew that even if Apophis hadn't taken her for Amaunet's host, he still wouldn't have been able to give her the children she wanted and deserved.

Daniel's thoughts wandered back to what Adam had told him about the first immortal to be stuck in-between by a sarcophagus.

"Who was the first?" Daniel didn't have to ask how long ago it had happened, because he knew roughly when Ra had been driven off the Earth and the gate had been buried.

Adam didn't pretend to misunderstand. "His name at that time was Ramessu. He was a priest in the temple of the false god Osiris. He died as the result of an accident in the temple, but because Osiris intended to use him as his next host, he brought him back to life with his sarcophagus."

"Did Ramessu know he was stuck halfway? Did he believe you when you told him what had to be done to fix it?"

"Ramessu was never told. He slept through the whole thing."

"You could've done the same thing to me. Why didn't you?" Daniel asked.

"Your circumstances aren't the same as his," Adam explained.. "Ramessu spent most of his time on holy ground. As an immortal who was also a priest, he would've been relatively safe until another immortal came along to teach him the rules and how to survive as an immortal."

"You weren't his teacher?" Daniel interrupted, surprised.

"No, I was a relatively new immortal myself. I didn't have the necessary skills or knowledge at that time to teach him. I was told by someone else how to make him fully immortal." After a moment's silence, Adam picked up where he left off with the original question, his expression serious. "It wouldn't have made any difference, even if he had known. Like you, he would've only had two choices: stay as he was and either die of old age, or because he lost a fight with an immortal. Or take the risk of dying at my hands and coming back to life as a full immortal."

He also remembered the last thing Pierson had said to him as they dropped him off by his car in the mall parking lot.

"Until you decide what you are going to do, any time you leave that base of yours, don't go anywhere alone, if you can avoid it. There's safety in numbers." Adam sounded very serious. "And, if your head starts hurting like it is now, head for the nearest piece of holy ground. It doesn't matter what religion it belongs to, because it will be the only thing that's going to save your life."

There was no going back to being a pre-immortal. He either stayed the way he was - and risked losing his head to an immortal, even though the immortal would gain nothing from it - or he could become fully immortal, which meant immortals, at least some of them, would still be after his head from the moment they met him. It also meant he would have to get used to the idea of carrying a sword and using it to cut off another person's head, and he would also have to get used to seeing those he cared about grow old and die.

On the up side, according to Adam, once he became fully immortal, he would no longer be in danger of becoming a host to a Goa'uld. Apparently something about being an immortal killed any Goa'uld that tried to possess them. That fact alone had him seriously considering letting Adam kill him. Not to mention the fact that he could really freak out the Goa'uld or Jaffa any time they killed him, unless he were zatted three times, by coming back to life, without the aid of a sarcophagus.

"You look like you're doing some pretty deep thinking there, Danny boy." Jack's voice interrupted his musings.

Daniel looked up. "Hi, Jack."

"What'cha thinkin' about?" Jack asked as he sat down beside him.

Daniel knew that Jack was trying to find out who he had met on Saturday. The man had shown up at his apartment about an hour after he returned from Denver, claiming he wanted to know how the "shopping" date had gone.

He hadn't told Jack about meeting Adam and Duncan or about what they had told him. It wasn't that he didn't trust Jack, he did. It was just that he knew Jack too well. Despite all they had seen and done since opening the Stargate, Colonel Jack O'Neill was still a 'feet planted firmly on the ground' type of guy. If he didn't see or experience it himself, he had trouble believing in it, and Daniel knew he could never convince Adam or Duncan to give Jack proof that there were immortals in the world.

He could understand their reasons. From experience, Daniel knew that if any government agency, like the NID ever found about them, they would be hauled off to Area 51 or god knows where to be experimented on. Daniel wouldn't wish that on any human being.

His friend was waiting for an answer, but the archeologist knew he wasn't a very good liar. Jack had certainly told him so often enough. But after all their years together, he knew O'Neill fairly well. Put anything in scientific or metaphysical terms and Jack sort of glazed over. Either he quickly lost interest or tuned the speaker out, so he hid the truth in a philosophical package, "Life, the Universe, everything."

"Meaning of life stuff, again." Jack guessed after a few moments silence.

"Sort of," Daniel admitted. "Just wondering if life would've been better or worse if Apophis had never come to Earth or Abydos. Or if we'd never met Ra when we went to Abydos."

That wasn't a lie. Among all the other things he had been thinking about tonight, he had been wondering if he would've been better off is Apophis had never shown up. If that damned snake had just stayed away, then he wouldn't have to be wondering whether or not he was willing to let someone kill him just so he could 'maybe' live forever.

"Whoo," Jack whistled. "I don't know what to say, Danny. What I have learned during my lifetime, is not to look back or spend a whole lot of time in what ifs. You just have to play the hand you're dealt and try to make the best of it."

Daniel stared at his friend, amazed. While he sometimes played the dumb soldier for all he was worth, Jack had an amazing way of cutting through the bullshit. He couldn't go back to what he had been, and he really couldn't stay stuck halfway. He needed to complete his metamorphosis.

"Thanks Jack." Daniel got to his feet.

"You're welcome," Jack muttered to the rapidly retreating back. He couldn't help wondering just what he was being thanked for, as he got to his feet and followed his teammate. He wanted to make sure Daniel was going to bed.

Adam's Apartment - Dec 20, 2002 6:00pm

The phone rang just as he felt Mac's "buzz" coming up to his door. Even though he couldn't feel another immortal with him, Methos still took his sword along as he went to the door.

Seeing no one else with MacLeod, he said, "Come in, Mac," and went to answer his phone. "Pierson."

"Hello, Dr. Jackson. Have you come to a decision? Or did you have some more questions for me?"

The name of the person calling brought Mac's attention away from the small boxes wrapped in silver paper.

Methos chuckled. "You're right, there really wasn't much of a choice, but I know from experience that if you tell someone they have no choice, they immediately dig in their heels and start looking for that non-existent option. It's always better if you come to that conclusion yourself."

His face took on a thoughtful look at something Jackson must've said. "Well, it can't be done before the end of the year. As strange as it may sound, there are only certain times of the year and certain places where it can be safely done."

Looking at his watch, Methos said, "Daniel, I have an appointment I have to get to. Can I call you later, and we can discuss this in detail then?" He must have gotten a 'yes' because his next question was, "Is your phone number still the same?... I'll give you a call around 1pm your time on Saturday, unless you are going to be - out of town, and we can iron out the details then."

As he hung up the phone, Mac told him, "We're not late, in fact we're going to be early. You could've spent some more time sorting out those details with Dr. Jackson."

"I don't have a death wish, MacLeod," Adam told him as he slid his sword into his coat. "If we're late for the rehearsal, or the wedding, Rose and Victoria will kill us. You're the Best Man, remember? Though why Morgan chose you when he could've picked me..."

"It's because he knows I'll get him to the church on time, and he won't be drunk or hungover when he gets there." MacLeod interrupted dryly.

"Where's the fun in that?" Adam complained as they headed out the door. "Some of the best weddings I ever attended were the ones where the wedding party was quite tipsy."

"You're giving the bride away," MacLeod reminded him. "Do you really want the groom getting sick all over her? Victoria and Rose really would kill us if that happened."

"You're right. We can't have that." Adam looked a little smug as he added, "You know, Mac, you've got the harder job. All I have to do is make sure the lovely Victoria makes it down the aisle. You're the one who has to make sure Grey doesn't faint when he sees his bride coming toward him."

MacLeod decided to change the subject before the old man's warped sense of humor came up with a way to insure that Morgan did faint. "What kind of ritual is involved in fixing Dr. Jackson's problem? All you told Joe and I was that you had to shove your quickening through him. You didn't say anything about it having to be done at a special time and place."

"Oh, it could be done anywhere at any time, but if Dr. Jackson and I want to come out of this intact - meaning mind, body, and quickening - then there are only three places that are easily accessible, where it can be done." Methos sounded deadly serious.

"What do you mean 'come out of it intact'?" MacLeod risked a glance at his friend. "Exactly what does this procedure entail?"

"Remember how the double quickening felt?"

"Yes," MacLeod replied tersely. That Double Quickening was not an experience he wanted to repeat again any time soon. He'd fought Kronos' invasion of his mind fiercely, and without Methos' help, he would have lost the battle.

Methos stared out the window, but MacLeod was certain he wasn't seeing anything passing by them. "What I have to do to Dr. Jackson is even more invasive than that. It's part of the reason I have to kill Daniel before I join with him. Otherwise, given his fear of being controlled by the Goa'uld, his mind will fight mine. Also, I'm not too sure how his mind will react to having almost 10,000 years of memories dumped into it." After a moment of silence, he continued, "My 'immortal abilities' are active, while Dr. Jackson's are not. In order to burn out the last remnants of the sarcophagus' energy, I have to literally join my mind and quickening to his. In essence, I will become one person in two bodies, then my immortal healing will view his body as an extension my own and deal with what the sarcophagus left behind."

He paused again. "The real problem is going to be when it comes time to separate. Since we will have become one person, on my own I can't guarantee to get all of me out of his mind or our quickenings completely separated. When the time comes to separate us, I need to be able to bring the power of the Earth's ley lines to bear. There are only a few places on earth where there are a large group of ley lines coming together to form a nexus: Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid, the Mayan pyramid at Chichen Itza , and very sacred place in Tibet that has no name, and hasn't been visited by a Westerner in over 1000 years."

"And just when would this have to be done?" Mac wanted to know.

"The dates when it could be done correspond to the holy days of the Wiccan/Druidic calendar and only because those correspond to the flow of energy through the earth. It can't be done on the Winter Solstice because that's tomorrow. The next holy or sacred date on the Druidic/Wiccan calendar would be Imbolc in February."

General Hammond's Office - January 26, 2002 9:00 am

The unexpected knock at his office door was a welcome interruption. He had been catching up on all the paperwork he kept putting off because of one emergency or another.

"Come in," he called.

Dr. Jackson started to enter, but when he caught sight of the pile of papers on the General's desk, he said, "I can come back later."

"That's not necessary, Dr. Jackson," Hammond was quick to assure him. "It's just routine paperwork. I was hoping for a chance to take a break. What can I do for you, son?"

Daniel pushed to door shut as he came in but didn't notice that it hadn't closed all the way. "I need to have some time off to take care of a personal matter."

Hearing Daniel's voice requesting time off through the slightly open doorway brought O'Neill to a halt just outside Hammond's office door. He knew it was wrong to eavesdrop, but something had been going on with Daniel for awhile now and Jack knew exactly when the change had taken place. It had started when Daniel had gotten damn packet. For over a month now, whenever they were back one Earth Daniel had been pre-occupied and quieter than usual. When they were off-world, Daniel was his usual eager self, exploring whatever world they were on with childlike enthusiasm and curiosity.

What really worried Jack was the sudden change in Daniel's choice of reading material. Jack was very familiar with Daniel's favorite choices for reading material. He would read dusty tomes on long dead languages, the occasional science fiction novel, and Jack had even caught him reading the Harry Potter Books, but until last week, he had never seen Danny reading a book on weapons.

If there was one thing Jack O'Neill knew about Dr. Daniel Jackson, it was that he didn't like using weapons. When they were off-world, he only used them when he had no other choice. When he'd found Daniel deeply immersed in a book on swords and asked him about it, he had said something about doing some research for a neighbor who'd inherited a sword and wanted to know if it was worth anything. When he'd asked to see it, saying he could give him an idea, Daniel had told him he didn't have it handy. Jack knew he was lying, either about having the sword or why he was reading the book. He had seen Danny in artifact research mode before. Daniel always kept whatever artifact he was working on close at hand so he could refresh his memory about any markings that the artifact might have. O'Neill pretended to believe him, because Danny didn't know that a few days before that he'd also seen the book on fencing that his friend had buried under a pile of papers and books on his coffee table.

"A friend of mine, Charles Barton, called this morning from Salisbury. We roomed together while I was studying at Oxford. He and his father treated me like family and continued to do so even after the rest of the academic community shunned me. Anyway, Charles call to let me know that his father is in the hospital and that unless there's a miracle he isn't expected to live."

"And you'd like to go and see him before he dies," Hammond finished. "How long do you think you'll need?"

"I don't think, I should need more then a couple of weeks," Daniel answered after a few moments thought. "I checked with a couple of airlines and if I can get a flight to Dallas today, I can catch a non-stop flight to London around 5. That should get me into Gatwick some time tomorrow morning."

"Well, there's nothing critical going on here at the moment that requires your presence, Doctor, so go ahead and take care of whatever you need to, so you can catch your flight. Just be sure to let us know where you'll be staying and how we can reach you, in case we need you back here in a hurry," Hammond told him.

"I'll call you with that information as soon as I've seen Charles. I'll probably be staying at an inn, unless Charles wants me to stay with him. I figure he'll be staying at the hospital for as long as they let him," Daniel told him as he headed for the door. "Sir, will you let Jack know what's happening?"

"I'll take care of Colonel O'Neill for you," Hammond promised.

Hearing Daniel's voice come closer, Jack quickly moved away from the door. The last thing he wanted was for Daniel to catch him eavesdropping. Daniel thought he had been thrown off the scent, and for the moment, he wanted to keep it that way. He was fairly sure that since the General had given Danny time off, the chances were pretty good the rest of SG-1 would be given time off as well. They were long overdue for some downtime.

He wondered if Teal'c would like to see England.

Nottingham England - Jan 31, 2002 6am

"I thought we were meeting Dr. Jackson in Salisbury on the 2nd." MacLeod's lack of sleep was starting to catch up with him. He'd had a very busy and sleepless week and had been looking forward to some sleep, when Methos had shown up at the loft early the day before. All he'd been told by the oldest immortal was to pack a bag because they needed to catch their flight which was leaving in a couple of hours. Joe had been waiting down in Methos car when he got there.

"We are," Methos confirmed as he turned off onto a dirt track that led into the forest near Nottingham.

"Then what are we doing here?" MacLeod kept his voice down out so he wouldn't disturb the sleeping Watcher in the back seat.

Stopping the Land Rover once they were well out of sight of the main road, Methos told him, "We're here to borrow a sword."

"You already have a sword," MacLeod pointed out reasonably.

"Yes, I do, and I'm as fond of my Ivanhoe as you are of your katana, but this one is much better for our purposes."

Following him into the trees, MacLeod asked, "What's so special about this sword?"

"Albion was made by Wayland back when the world was young. It was made for Herne's Son and imbued with magic to aid him."

"Is Herne's Son an immortal?" MacLeod had never heard of Herne's Son, but he had heard tales of Herne from those who still followed the Old Ways.

"No, Herne's Son has always been a mortal. Herne is one of the Old Gods, and in times past he would chose one very special mortal to be his Son and the protector of the people."

"Is there a current Son of Herne?" MacLeod wanted to know.

"No."

"So who has the sword?"

"Herne."

As soon as he said that one word, fog began swirling around them and the forest became deafeningly silent. The fog rapidly got so thick, they had to stop moving because they couldn't see what was in front of them.

"Herne," Methos called into the fog.

The forest remained silent and there was no movement around them. It was like they were in another world.

"Herne," Methos called a little louder.

"Hello, Blaise," a slightly echoing voice spoke out of the fog. "I see that you have remembered all of your past. We all felt your victory over Mael and were pleased that you won."

"Did you know that the Stargate has been found and opened?" Methos countered stiffly. "The False Gods have turned their attention back toward Earth, and the protections put in place by the Sidhe have faded to the point where they will no longer entirely prevent the Goa'uld's conquest of the Earth."

"Yes, we know," the male voice answered. "While we can no longer intervene directly, we Old Ones have done what we could to insure that the right elements are in place when needed to keep the Earth as safe as we can make it, given that they are constantly using the gate."

"Am I one of those elements?" Methos asked curious and a bit annoyed. He hated being manipulated. He much preferred being the manipulator.

"After a fashion, but there is still the matter of free will. Once you remembered Ramessu, you could have ignored Dr. Jackson's situation, but you chose not to."

"Then you know what I have come here for." Methos in no mood for puzzling homilies from one of the Old Ones.

The fog retreated from the nearest tree and revealed a sheathed sword leaning against it.

"Return it when you are done," the unseen person ordered. "The sword will guide you to me. And, Blaise, come back some time when you can stay for a while. I miss the discussions we used to have."

The fog vanished as if it had never been there. MacLeod remained where he was even though he was very curious to see what a magical sword looked and felt like.

As if he were reading MacLeod's mind, Methos said, "It won't bite."

"Are you sure you're going to be able to wield it?" MacLeod wanted to know. "You said it was meant for only one person, Herne's Son."

"It can be wielded by another, just not against Herne's Son." Methos pulled the sword from its sheath, showing MacLeod the runes carved into the blade.

"What do they mean?"

"Herne's Son is my master. I can not slay him." Methos recited, tracing the line of runes.

District Hospital, Salisbury England - Feb 2, 2002 6:00pm

O'Neill glanced at his watch, then back to the hospital entrance. The sun was starting to set and if Daniel stuck to the schedule he'd been following for the past week, then he would soon be leaving to get something to eat for himself and his friend. Even though nothing bad had happened to Daniel so far, O'Neill still had the feeling his friend's life was in danger.

"There he is," Jack announced to his companion.

Looking up from the book he had purchased on England, Teal'c observed, "He is looking for someone or something."

Jack had to agree with that assessment. Instead of heading for his rental car as usual, Jackson was standing on the sidewalk, checking his watch, then looking around the car park.

A few minutes later, they both saw the Land Rover enter the car park.

"O'Neill!" Teal'c called, seeing DanielJackson grab his head and start to crumple to the ground.

Before either man could go to his aid, they saw a man get out of the Land Rover and go over to help Daniel to his feet. However, instead of helping Daniel into the hospital as one might expect, the person led him to the waiting Land Rover. In the dusk light it was hard to make the man's features, but something about him seemed familiar, so Jack grabbed his binoculars so he could get a better look at him.

"That's Pierson!" He took a look at the driver and the bearded man sitting in the back seat. "The driver is MacLeod. I don't know who the third man is, but he looks familiar."

"Who are Pierson and MacLeod?" Teal'c asked as they started following the other car. "Are they and this unknown man working for the NID?"

"Pierson is the linguist who translated that language from PX8267, so we could get that thing off your arm few months ago." O'Neill told him absently, all of his attention on keeping up with the car carrying his friend who knew where. "MacLeod is his friend and teaches Art History at the University of Seacouver. While they both were definitely born outside of the U.S., as far as I know neither of them have any ties to the NID. I don't know about the third man. I can't place where I've seen him before, but I'm certain it was while I was in the company of Pierson and MacLeod when we were in Seacouver."

"Could one of the other government agencies involved in the Stargate project, or another of the Tau'ri governments be behind this?" Teal'c was well aware that there was no unified government on this world, and that even within the various governments, sometimes things were done that the leaders had no knowledge of, and would probably be horrified of if they did.

"There are 2 reasons why none of the other US government agencies involved would try to get hold of Daniel. 1) They know how important he is to the project, and 2) they know that we would rip them apart if they tried. We've messed up their plans every time they've tried to destroy the SGC or its personnel." Jack gave the matter some serious consideration. "As for other countries, unless Maybourne has been talking out of turn again, the Russians are the only foreign government that knows about the Stargate. Daniel wouldn't willingly agree to work for them."

"Could the illness afflicting the father of DanielJackson's friend have been created so that he would be isolated from those who would come to his aid?" Teal'c inquired. "After all, it is far easier to make someone disappear when they are in unfamiliar territory. There is less chance of aid being provided to a total stranger."

That was the first thing O'Neill had checked on a after hearing Daniel request time off. Charles Barton Senior was dying from a malignant tumor that was growing in the portion of the brain that controlled autonomic functions such as breathing. "They couldn't have arranged it, but Pierson and MacLeod are certainly taking advantage of it to get their hands on our Daniel. What has me baffled is what they want him for. It can't be because they need a linguist. According to what Daniel told us, Pierson is supposed to be as good as he is."

"DanielJackson is the only real expert on the Goa'uld language and history that the Tau'ri have," Teal'c reminded him. "This Pierson might have originally been hired to translate Goa'uld text on a recently uncovered cache of weapons or artifacts, and when he couldn't, he thought of DanielJackson."

"It's possible, I suppose, but that would mean that Pierson was able to tell the difference between Ancient Egyptian and Goa'uld." Jack gave the matter some thought as he exited near a sign that proclaimed that Stonehenge was a few kilometers away. "It doesn't explain Daniel's odd behavior, though, or why Pierson wouldn't just attempt to contact him. And if Pierson did contact him about a cache of newly discovered artifacts/weapons, then given our past experience with Goa'uld on Earth, Daniel would have told us. There is no way he would just allow himself to be taken, or go off on his own, if Goa'uld's were anywhere in the picture."

"True." Teal'c found O'Neill's reasoning sound.

Stonehenge – 7:30 pm

"I didn't know it was possible to get access to Stonehenge outside the normal visiting hours," Joe commented as the four men walked up the Avenue toward the stone megaliths that stood as silent, dark sentinels against the fading light of the western sky.

"For a small fee and a written statement of what you want to do within the site, people from certain religious groups such as the Wiccans and Druids are allowed private access, if it doesn't conflict with scheduled events, such as the Summer Solstice festival." Adam told him.

"And what did you tell them you wanted to do?" MacLeod asked as he shifted the heavy bag Adam had given him to carry.

"I told them I wanted to perform a healing ritual." Adam managed to sound very pious. "It's not that far from the truth, not that they are going to be seeing anything we will be doing in the inner circle."

"Adam, do you know why Stonehenge was built in the first place?" Joe figured that if anyone would know the answer, it would be someone who had lived almost 10,000 years.

Adam looked thoughtful as he touched one of the sarcen stones. "It was built to fulfill a number of purposes and still serves some of them. It is a place of worship. It's a celestial observatory and calendar, tracking the major days of the year such as the summer and winter solstice. And last, but certainly not least, when it was intact it was a gateway."

"Gateway!" Daniel pounced on that word. "Gateway, as in a Stargate?"

"Not the way you mean," Adam disagreed. "It went to only one place. At certain times of the year, when the stones that used to make up the outer rings were touched in a particular order, a gateway could be opened to the home of the Sidhe."

"Did you ever go there?" Daniel wanted to know.

"No, but I was here when they sealed the gate, by removing the outer two rings of stones."

MacLeod could tell from the tone of his voice, that Adam didn't want to continue this discussion and so quickly changed the subject. "Adam, how long do we have access to Stonehenge?"

"I told them it would take a couple of hours to do the ritual." Adam turned to him. "Let's get the torches set up."

"Adam, how are you going to keep the guards from seeing you kill Daniel?" Joe wondered.

"I know a few tricks," Adam assured him. "Once the last torch is in place, no one will be able to come within the boundaries of the circle, and the guards will see only what they expect to see. As long as we leave within two hours, looking none the worse for wear, they just think we're like the rest of those who practice the old ways. You know, a little nuts."

Watching as Adam took the lit torches one by one and placed them in a rough circle in front of the blue stones that surrounded the altar stone and lintels, Joe asked, "Do you need me to do anything?"

"We've got it covered." Adam put the last flaming torch in place, before he pulled a sword from inside his coat. "Are you ready, Daniel?"

Now that the moment was actually here, Daniel suddenly felt a little nervous as he looked at the rune covered sword. "I think so. It's not like I've really got a choice, now is it?"

"True," Adam agreed. "Do you want to see it coming?"

Daniel was confused. "I didn't think I had a choice."

"I can put you to sleep like Ramessu was, so you won't see death coming."

Daniel could tell that Adam seemed to be uncomfortable at the thought of looking into his eyes as he delivered the killing blow and knew that if he had a choice, he would rather not see it coming. "I think that would be the best for both of us."

Jack and Teal'c crept quietly up to the outer ring of stones, watching as torches were set out.

"What are they doing, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked

"I have no idea, but I have a bad feeling about this."

When Pierson pulled the sword out of his trenchcoat, Jack's level of worry increased.

As they continued to watch, MacLeod and the third man moved behind Daniel. Pierson touched Daniel's face and a moment later, their friend crumpled into the waiting arms of the men behind him. Both stood there stunned, watching as Daniel was laid out face up on the altar stone.

When Pierson took a couple of practice swings with the sword, O'Neill stared at him in disbelief. "They're gonna kill him!"

Both men pulled out the zat'nik'tels they had brought with them, and Jack hissed, "You take MacLeod, and I'll take Pierson."

"What about the other man?" Teal'c whispered.

"I don't think he'll be any problem, once we take out the other two." Jack could tell from the way the bearded man moved that he had at least one artificial leg. That meant he wouldn't be able to move very quickly, so they could get the drop on him, once they had taken out the two on this side.

MacLeod head a sudden rustling from outside the stones, as Methos swung the sword into position over Daniel's chest. Seeing his friend's attention was on the task at hand, Mac drew his sword and prepared to defend his companions. Two men came rushing toward them, weapons drawn. One of the men fired a strange weapon at him and the energy blast from it enveloped him. It was far more painful than any quickening he had ever taken.

Seeing the other man aiming at Methos' unprotected back, Joe shouted, "ADAM! Behind you!" Then Joe saw Mac stagger between his friend and the energy blast.

The unexpected shout pulled Methos' attention and the sword away from the sleeping man, in time to see Duncan get hit by a burst of energy, then crumple to ground. A quick glance at the two intruders, and they were frozen in place.

"Joe, wake Daniel!" he ordered before kneeling down to check on Duncan.

Daniel's eyes opened. His head was still hurting and he didn't feel any different. "Is it over?"

"It didn't even get started," Joe told him.

"Your guard dog decided to crash the party. And he brought a friend." Adam added sourly, pointing with his sword toward the two men standing motionless a few feet away.

Recognizing them and the weapons, Daniel asked, "What happened?"

"They shot MacLeod." Adam told him curtly.

"They have some kind of strange gun that fires bursts of energy. Mac was hit twice by them." Joe said, supplying more details.

Daniel knelt down and put his fingers on MacLeod's neck. As he expected, he found no pulse. "He's lucky. I don't think even an immortal could recover from being zatted three times."

"What?!" Adam and Joe stared at him in astonishment.

"That's what we call the effect of that weapon. One shot incapacitates. Two shots kill. And three shots... disintegrate."

"You're right. An immortal wouldn't recovering from being... zatted three times, but I can't help wondering what would happen to their quickening, if they were?" Adam got to his feet, looking thoughtful.

"What happened to Jack and Teal'c?"

"I froze them," Methos stated matter of factly, "before they could do any more damage."

"How? Do all immortals have this ability?" Daniel stared back and forth between Adam and his motionless friends as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing and hearing.

"It's something I learned how to do a long time ago. And no, not all immortals can do it. Like playing a piano, you have to be born with the ability."

From the expression on his face, Daniel could tell that Adam didn't want to discuss it any further. "Can they see and hear us?"

"I don't know, maybe."

Daniel looked at his friends worriedly. "How long are they going to stay like that?"

"Until we're done." Adam got to his feet and went over to disarm the two immobile men.

As he joined Daniel and Adam next to the two unmoving men, Joe commented, "Adam, I thought you said once the last torch was in place no one would be able to come within the circle."

"They must have been inside the boundary I set when I closed the circle." Adam removed the weapon from Jack's hand and studied it for a moment. "This didn't come from anywhere on Earth. What is it?"

"It's called a zat'nik'tel. We call it a zat for short." Daniel's attention was fixed on his motionless friends. "Adam, would you please release them?"

"No. Not until we are done." Adam was adamant. "O'Neill is very protective toward you. Those instincts won't let him stand by while I kill you and we don't have time to convince him why it has to be done."

"Who are they?" Joe wanted to know.

"This one is Colonel Jack O'Neill. " Adam indicated the grey haired man. "You may have seen him at the bar last year." Then he pointed to the one wearing a knit cap, "And while I have seen this one before at the mall in Denver with O'Neill, I have no idea who he is."

"His name is Teal'c. He works at the Mountain with Jack and I," Daniel told them. Then hoping to distract Adam before he examined the Jaffa too closely, he asked. "How long before Duncan recovers?"

"I don't know. I don't think any of us has ever been hit by an energy weapon before. Recovery time depends on several factors: the age of the immortal, how the immortal died, and how many quickenings the immortal has taken." Methos refused to let himself be distracted. All his instincts were telling him there was something not right about the black man. In the flickering torchlight, he caught a glimpse of something golden on his forehead, just below the edge of the cap.

Before Daniel could stop him, Adam pulled the knit cap off Teal'c's head and stared at the raised gold tattoo on his forehead. The tattoo was familiar. It took him a few moments to place it - Apophis!

The false god, Apophis, used that as his symbol and marked all his soldiers and servants with it. Ciron had given him lots of information on the Goa'ulds and he had personally seen this design in two different forms; this raised gold and an inked in type like a tattoo. He remembered Ciron telling him the ones with the gold tattoos were like Generals, only they were called First Primes.

"What is Apophis' First Prime doing on Earth?" Adam asked Daniel. "Don't tell me you're dealing with Apophis."

"Not exactly," Daniel answered cautiously, not really surprised that Adam knew about Apophis since he'd lived during the time Apophis had probably been on Earth. "It's more like we're trying to survive his attempts to kill us and the rest of planet Earth."

"What is a First Prime? And who is Apophis?" Joe looked back and forth between the two men.

When Daniel didn't say anything, Adam told him, "Remember me telling you about the false gods? Apophis is one of them. If I remember correctly, the servants of the Goa'uld are called Jaffa, and they serve their masters in several ways - as an incubator for their young, and whatever other functions the Goa'uld need from them. This particular servant is called a First Prime, which sort of translates into the General of the Armies."

"Teal'c is no longer the First Prime of Apophis," Daniel told him. "He joined us several years ago. He is fighting with us so that his people can be freed from the dominion of the Goa'uld. The Goa'uld consider him a traitor."

"You're telling me this man is carrying one of those parasites?" Joe back away from him a little concerned.

"He doesn't have a choice, unless he wants to die," Daniel told Joe. "And you don't have to worry, the larval Goa'uld Teal'c is carrying, isn't yet ready for a host."

"You haven't told me where this came from." Adam indicated the weapon.

"And I can't." Daniel told him. He wasn't going to risk giving Adam any more information than he already had. Pierson already knew enough about the Stargate and the Goa'uld to be considered a security risk by both the NID and the Air Force.

A cough and a moan behind them diverted their attention back to the now moving body of Duncan MacLeod.

"Mac!" Adam and Joe hurried over to the recovering immortal. "How are you feeling?"

"Like I got trampled by a herd of elephants while caught in the middle of a lightening storm." Mac told them as they both helped him get to his feet.

Looking over to where the intruders standing there immobile, with Daniel Jackson staring anxiously at them, he asked, "What was I hit with? I can still feel some of the effects of it."

Methos handed him the weapon. "According to Daniel, it's called a zat'nik'tel or a zat for short." As MacLeod studied the weapon, he warned, "Be careful with that. Daniel said that one shot will incapacitate, two will kill, and if someone is hit three times, they will disintegrate."

"Nasty little thing," was MacLeod's only comment as he made sure to keep the weapon pointed toward the ground. "How long was I out?"

"Not long," Joe told him. "Five, maybe ten minutes."

"Did you finish your ritual?" Mac asked the oldest immortal.

"No, and we need to." Methos checked his watch. "Daniel, we're running out of time, and we need to get this finished."

Daniel came slowly back over to where the other three men were waiting by the altar stone.

Adam touched him as soon as he was in range, and Duncan caught him as he collapsed. The two immortals positioned him on the altar stone again, then MacLeod stepped back from the foot of the altar stone to let Methos work.

Albion cut cleanly into Dr. Jackson's body and into his heart. The sword was not withdrawn, and as Joe and Duncan looked on, Methos wrapped both hands around Albion's hilt and closed his eyes.

For the second time in their lives, both men got to see the Light Quickening pour from Methos' body and flow slowly down the sword. While the light was nowhere near as bright as it had been on that Italian plain, as it flowed down the sword toward Dr. Jackson's body it revealed a previously unseen, sooty colored shadow that covered the dead man from head to foot.

The light paused for a moment as it met the shadow, almost as if it were encountering resistance. If there was resistance, it was quickly overcome as the light flowed out like a pool of water from where the sword pierced Daniel's body. The shadow was banished completely as the light that was Methos' Quickening covered Daniel, joining the two men together.

Joe was a little surprised when the Methos based light didn't continue flowing over the altar stone and down to the ground. Instead after a few minutes, a gentler light flowed up from the ground, over the altar stone, and began to cover Dr. Jackson's body. As they watched, it reversed the trip the Methos-based light had taken down to cover Jackson's body, and back up the sword to cover Methos. The light reminded Duncan of a warm gentle fire that soothed and comforted on a winter's night.

The light that had come from the ground continued to cover Methos and the altar stone for several more minutes, then vanished entirely. The Light from Methos' quickening was also gone. The old man released the sword and sank to the ground.

"Joe, take the sword out," MacLeod requested as he knelt down to check on Methos. "Are you okay, old man?"

"Yeah, it's just a little draining," Methos assured him as he slowly got back to his feet.

"Now what?" Joe inquired.

"Now we wait for Dr. Jackson to recover." Methos collected the small bag he had brought with him and pulled out a bottle of beer.

"How long will that take?" Joe was curious.

"Shouldn't be too long the death wound wasn't that bad."

"When are you going to release them?" Mac motioned toward the two men still standing immobile near the current outer ring of stones.

"I'm not," Methos told them. Before they could protest, he added, "I thought I'd let Daniel do it."

At their dumbfounded looks, he told them cheekily. "Can you think of a better way to prove to him that he is a Wizard?"

Daniel noticed the difference the minute he awoke. The pain in his head was completely gone and had been replaced by a sort of buzzing sensation at the base of his skull. "It worked!"

"Yes, it did." Methos smiled as the younger man got to his feet. "How are you feeling?"

"Good." Daniel looked over at his friends who were still frozen. "Aren't you going to let them go?"

"You can do it." Adam told him.

"What are you talking about?"

"Just think of them as able to move again," Adam instructed.

"But... but you said you have to be born..."

"And you were." Adam grinned. "As Hagrid said to Harry Potter, Daniel, yer a wizard!"

(I know it is tacky to end it here, but Methos refused to say any more right now and the others were equally silent. I know there is a sequel in there somewhere, but I have to wait until they tell me what happened next.)