Daniel stood at the entrance of the network of caves willing the others to appear. Jack and Teal’c, along with Gregorios, had been gone nearly 4 days now. Sam was much stronger but still unconscious much of the time. It was Annalii that worried him however. She was nearly lifeless as she lay sleeping on the floor. Even in his attempts to speak telepathically with her he found it difficult to keep up a conversation. As the sun sank lower on the horizon, he turned back to the caves and returned to the room where Sam and Annalii lay.
“Daniel.” The weak but familiar voice of Sam greeted him as he entered the room. “Any sign of Jack?”
After a quick glance to ensure Annalii was stable, Daniel knelt beside Sam and adjusted her furs to keep her warm. “Nothing yet. How are you feeling?”
“Sore. Weak.” Sam nearly whispered. “Will you tell me now what happened?”
Although she had been awake much of the day, Daniel had been worried about worrying her with the details. Now he felt like the company would do him good, though and began to recount the events of the past few days. “Do you remember arriving?”
Sam shook her head. “Not really.”
Daniel continued, “We were taking fire as we dialed and entered the gate. Something went wrong by either a mis-dial or a DHD malfunction because we did not end up on Earth. You were hit as soon as we came through. That’s when Annalii,” Daniel paused to wave his hand in the sleeping woman’s direction, “and her father Gregorios appeared out of the forest. They brought us all into this cave for safety and Annalii began to heal you.”
Sam’s brows furrowed in confusion. “Heal me?”
“The people of this planet are greatly gifted in certain areas. Annalii is a powerful healer. She was able to use nothing more than her own body to heal you so far. Jack and Teal’c left with Gregorios to return to the village for fresh horses and supplies. Gregorios feared that travel would be slow because they would need to avoid detection. You see, the Goa-ould do not know these people exist. Well, they suspect but have never found proof.”
“Jack and the others left four days ago.” Daniel’s face was etched with concern as he looked at Annalii. He knew she required certain things to keep her strength high enough for the healing process.
Sam followed his gaze and noted his concern. “How is she?”
Daniel moved to sit beside Annalii. “She is weak. I don’t know what her father was bringing her to cause her to regain strength, but I fear the wait has been too long.” With uncertainty, he reached out and rested his hand on Annalii’s. Within moments, the rosy glow of her skin returned. This was soon enhanced with tiny dancing lights above her chest, shoulders and face. At this, Daniel withdrew his hand. Immediately the lights disappeared.
“What was that?” Sam asked with renewed energy at such a sight.
“I don’t know. It hasn’t happened before.”
* * *
Daniel hardly slept that night. He was constantly waking up to check on both Sam and Annalii. Occasionally he had been able to speak to Annalii with his mind, but she was so weak it was difficult for him to reach her. She occasionally asked for something called a tallith. To Daniel, it seemed to be some shawl or covering she used in her healing.
Daniel was standing at the opening nearest the room where they had been staying. He was at a cliff opening around halfway up the side of the hillside. The sun was just beginning to brighten the horizon when he heard, rather than saw, movement below. Quickly, he drew back to avoid being seen. He hurried back to Sam and Annalii to await whether this be friend or foe.
After a few agonizing minutes, the familiar face of Jack came into the room. Relief flooded Daniel and he had to keep himself from hugging the man. Gregorios followed behind. “Boy am I glad to see you. What t…”
Gregorios rushed past Daniel, cutting him off mid sentence. Daniel heard, even if no one else did, the anguished cry from the father’s heart. Annalii! My darling, no.
He rushed to her side and threw a large square cloth over her. The edges were lined in fringe of gold and silver thread. This must be the tallith Daniel thought.
Without a glance behind him, Gregorios silently answered. Yes. How long has she been this way? He continued to arrange the cloth over Annalii then sat at her head and lifted it into his lap.
“She’s been slowly growing weaker since the day after you left. She has been nearly unresponsive since mid-day yesterday.” Daniel answered aloud, knowing Jack would be wondering what was happening.
Gregorios realized the need for speech and when he spoke again it was out loud. In fact, it was nearly a shout. “She pushed herself too far. She always does that. How could you let her?”
At the noise, Sam awoke and glanced around as if in a daze. Seeing this, Jack knelt beside her asking how she was feeling. With weak reassurances, Sam convinced Jack she was better. Again Gregorios asked Daniel what had happened.
“I did all that you asked. I gave her the foods you prescribed, brought her fresh water, talked with her and tried to get her to walk. I didn’t know she was going beyond her limits until it was too late.”
“She… was… amazing.” Sam said, struggling to sit up. “I’m sure I wouldn’t be alive if not for her efforts.”
“Can we move them?” Jack, ever practical, just wanted to get them help. “There hasn’t been any gate activity for days. We can go there and get them to the infirmary at SGC.”
“Jack, I think they are both too weak to go anywhere.” Daniel cautioned. For the first time, he looked around and noticed Teal’c was not in the room. “I would suggest Teal’c carry one of them, but I don’t know how we would determine which should go. By the way, where is Teal’c?”
“He is down below with the horses.” Gregorios answered. “Annalii will be fine to travel by horse. I will take her back to the village myself. Sam may come as well. With the support of the village and the other healers, I am sure she will be made well again in no time.”
“Not a chance,” replied Jack. “We’re heading back to Earth. Daniel, go tell Teal’c to come carry Sam to the gate.”
Before long, Sam and Annalii had been carried down to the ground level of the caves.
“Jack, I’d like to stay.” Daniel spoke to Jack as Gregorios tried to arrange Annalii over one of the horses.
“Daniel, don’t argue. We’re already behind schedule, we don’t even have authorization to be on this planet.” Jack explained as he loaded more gear into his pack.
“Jack, I think it’s important. Besides, look at him,” he said, gesturing to Gregorios, “there’s no way he’s going to get her back safely on his own. I want to stay and learn more about these people. Besides, I think we owe it to the woman who saved Sam’s life.”
“Might have saved her life,” Jack muttered. “She’s not out of the woods yet.” The two men stared wordlessly at one another for a few moments. With a small nod, Jack finally assented and Daniel was on his way.
Daniel walked beside Annalii’s horse as Gregorios led his own stallion with his daughter laying across the saddle. The way was long and difficult. They were forced to travel the well concealed parts of the forest for fear of the Goa’ould’s return. Their stops were frequent, each time to adjust Annalii’s form.
Could you not ride with her in your arms? Daniel asked Gregorios.
Ah, I could. But I would fear leaving you to lead the horse alone.
Daniel considered this. He wasn’t much of a horseman, but he figured it couldn’t be that bad. I’ll ride. Annalii told me of Cupia and how gentle and responsive she is. We will get there so much faster this way.
Gregorios nodded and stopped his horse. Can you take her for a moment? At Daniel’s agreement, he slipped Annalii from his steed and placed her like a child in Daniel’s arms. As Gregorios turned back to the horse to climb into the saddle, a glow came again across Annalii’s features. Before the old man had fully settled himself into the saddle, the dancing lights were back as well. Even her breathing and heartbeat seemed to get stronger as she rested in Daniel’s arms.
When he finally turned his attention back to his daughter, Gregorios felt confusion and something darker in his heart. What are you doing?
Bewildered, Daniel looked up at him. Just holding her. I mean, nothing. I mean, I don’t know. What does this mean?
Just give her to me. If this is to be explained to her it will need to be from Annalii.
With a little effort, Annalii was placed upright in the saddle before her father. Soon enough, Daniel was in the saddle on the other horse and they headed swiftly for the village.
Daniel had never seen anything like it. In all the worlds and all the cultures they had found, he had never seen a complete village, actually more like a city, under a dome in the sea. When Gregorios led Daniel out over a rocky formation that jutted far out into the water, Daniel had thought him crazy. Before he had very much time to think on this, the transportation rings had appeared around them, taking them below the water, below the dome.
There wasn’t time now to thoroughly examine his surroundings. As soon as the rings cleared, Gregorios was on the move again. They were heading toward a tall silver building in the middle of the village. Without a sound people came from their homes and began to fall in line behind them. Many young men and women gathered, none seemed older than 20. Some were quite young in fact.
They continued without a work into the large building. Gregorios gently handed Annalii to one of the older boys who had followed them in before dismounting. Daniel also climbed off his horse and followed the crowd of people into a dark, inner room. As others flowed in around him, he saw that they each carried a candle with them. Once inside, they placed the candles on holders along the wall and stepped to the center of the room. With so many candles, Daniel could now see the room clearly. In the middle was a tall, ornate bed. The mattress was raised higher than any bed he had ever seen. It sat on top of four beautifully carved columns. Each column was nearly six feet tall and was covered with flowers, stars and abstract designs. Around these columns ran a half wall of about three feet. The wall was topped with a platform that looked to be about twelve inches wide.
As Daniel looked on, he saw Annalii being hoisted upon the mattress. Wordlessly, the girls and young women in the room climbed upon the half wall that surrounded the bed, reaching their arms out to lay one hand on Annalii’s still form. The boys and young men stood beneath the great bed. Those who could reach placed one hand beneath the mattress as though to support it. All reached one hand to one of the girls surrounding the bed. Over all of this, Gregorios stood at the foot of the bed and arranged the tallith over his daughter.
Soon, Daniel could feel something unlike he’d ever felt before. It was like when Annalii spoke to him with her mind, but it was more like a chorus. It was a loud hum that he felt rather than heard. The light in the room grew brighter and the temperature rose. He wanted to know so much, to ask so many questions, but he sensed that this was important work and didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize it.
Then he heard it, clear as day. Daniel? It was Annalii. She was awake and asking for him.