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Final Showdown


Chapter 9

The Final Showdown


General Hammond hurried into the infirmary. Located Janet, made his way to her side. Waited until she had completed her examination of Teal'c. "Doctor?"

"They were all breathing hard just a few minutes ago. They're all breathing normally again, although I think Teal'c was running a second time," she explained.

The general frowned. "That could indicate that they've become separated."

"I'm not even going to attempt to guess at what's going on," Janet replied.

"Let's just hope that it's over soon."

"Amen to that," Janet agreed. She looked around at the medics and nurses who had gathered near the beds where the unconscious members of SG-1 were lying. "Remember, people, do nothing that might wake them up unless it's a matter of life and death," she admonished softly.

Heads moved up and down in understanding. Even if they didn't fully comprehend what was happening.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Casey remained close to Daniel as they made their way up the walk of the modest house. The low wall that surrounded the garden area separated it from the narrow street. Other houses, like that where she had been kept by Dartal, opened directly onto the cobblestones.

She looked around with interest as he led her inside. "This is different than Dartal's place," she whispered.

Daniel grinned. "You were also in a small village," he pointed out.

"I suppose that would make a difference."

"Wanna see my room?"

She stopped, looked at him, took in the wide grin and dancing blue eyes. "And just how many years have you been waiting to use that line?"

He laughed. "Longer than I'd care to admit, thank you. So, do you?"

"Is there a way out of it?"

"Just over the balcony."

"How high up?"

"Two, maybe three feet."

She nodded. "Okay. Let's go check out your room."

The sound of movement in one of the other rooms had them freezing in their tracks. Daniel put his finger to his lips. "It's probably...um..." he closed his eyes for a brief second, searching for the name of the man he was supposed to believe was his father. "Um... Sadji."


"Dear old dad," Daniel replied.


"Suten?" A voice called. Definitely male.

"In here," Daniel answered.

The man shuffled into the room, squinting slightly at the pair who stood near the door that led to the room where Daniel had slept. He was thin, although he did have a bit of a pot belly that hung over the belt that held his kilt around bony hips. His shoulders drooped, and he moved as if in pain. "Ah. I see you have a guest. A very beautiful guest."

Casey shivered as the old man leered at her. She instinctively stepped closer to Daniel.

"I only came by to get-" he broke off, frantically trying to think of something that a man in ancient Egypt would return home for, while in the company of a beautiful woman.

"A change of clothes," Casey offered, forcing a smile to her face.

Sadji nodded. "Do not remain too long from your home. Your mother is quite...possessive...of you."

"She needs to let go," Daniel replied.

"Perhaps. But you are her only child. That she clings to you is to be expected."

Casey cocked her head sideways. "Dan...er...Suten, we really should leave."

Daniel glanced at her. "Right. I'll just grab something later." He put himself between the old man and his Wife as they walked toward the door. Looked down when a bony hand grabbed his arm.

"Do not anger her, Suten," the old man said softly.

Casey reached out, just long enough to confirm her suspicions. The daemon tasked to watch Daniel was using the old man to help her keep track of her charge. "He'll probably piss her off royally. Just before he kills her," she said to the old man, her voice cold.

"Case?" Daniel asked softly.

"She's using him, Daniel. She knows we're here."

"Shit! Let's go." Not giving her the chance to argue, he grabbed her arm, hustled her out the door just in front of him, then pulled her to his side.

"She's on her way here," Casey whispered.

"Only one way into this particular housing area," Daniel said.

"There's always up," she replied.

He looked at her, then grinned. "Hopefully we won't scare the locals too much by crashing through houses to get to rooftops."

"It's an illusion, Daniel."

"Using very real souls," he replied.

Her eyes went wide. "You know this...how?"

He frowned. "I don't know...it just...makes sense."

She nodded slowly. "Yes, it does. Which means that we need to be very careful."


"Who knows which of these people have come to...agreements...with the daemons, in exchange for a slightly more comfortable spot in hell?"

"This is just getting too damned complicated," Daniel grumbled.

They dashed from the courtyard, across the street to one of the more humble houses. Burst through the door, looking around for the narrow stairs that would lead to the roof. Almost all ancient Egyptian houses had utilized the flat roofs of the mud brick buildings, seeking to take advantage of whatever breezes might be blowing.

The family who lived in the house huddled in the corner, watched with fearful eyes as Daniel tugged Casey toward the stairs in the corner of the room. He glanced at them, noted that the man of the house stepped in front of his family. "We mean you no harm. We just need to borrow your roof for a few minutes."

The man frowned, but said nothing. Simply watched as the couple disappeared through the opening in the ceiling.

"Now what?" Casey asked, looking down into the street, backing away from the low wall.

"We're going to have to jump to that roof," Daniel said, pointing to the house beside them.

"That's got to be at least ten feet away!" she protested.

He wrapped his hands around her upper arms. "Remember the Matrix? Believe you can do it, and it will happen."

"That was a movie. This is very real," she pointed out.

"This is an illusion," he replied, holding her gaze steady with his own. "I won't let you fall."

She nodded. Took a deep breath. "I can do it."

Daniel smiled. Pressed a kiss to her forehead. "That's my girl," he said softly.

He led her to the opposite side of the roof. "When we reach the wall, try to jump up on it as part of your running stride. Push away from it as hard as you can."

Casey nodded her understanding. Clung to his hand when his fingers wrapped around hers.

"Here we go."

She wanted to close her eyes. Didn't dare. Stumbled when she jumped onto the low wall that surrounded the rooftop. Wrenched her had free of his, not willing to bring him down as well. Tried to do as Daniel had instructed, her foot shoving her forward as she leapt from the ledge.

Daniel landed on the adjoining rooftop, rolled on a rough rug, his bare skin chafed against the fabric. Turned his head just in time to see Casey's leap fall tragically short. She was grasping for the mud brick barrier, her eyes wide with terror. "Daniel!"

Springing to his feet, he lunged toward the wall, reaching for her, desperate to prevent her from falling to the hard-packed ground. Managed to get his hand around one flailing wrist. Grunted when her weight slammed him against the low wall of the rooftop terrace.

"You'll fall! Let go!"

"I've got you," he managed to gasp. "Give me your other hand."

She was swinging back and forth. Reached toward him.

He was leaning precariously against the mud bricks, trying to grab her other wrist. After what seemed to be an eternity, but had been only a matter of seconds, he caught her. Pulling with every ounce of strength in his body, he managed to maneuver her far enough onto the roof that she could pull herself over the wall. He fell onto his back, panting heavily from the exertion.

"Let's not do that again," she said, after taking a moment to catch her breath. Her voice was trembling as much as her slender body.

"Right." When he had managed to catch his breath, he sat up, cupped her chin in his hand. "Don't you ever think I'll let you go. No matter what the situation," he said softly.

The moonlight reflected the tears that filled her eyes. She said nothing, just took his hand in both of hers, kissed his palm gently.

The sound of running feet caught their attention. Remaining low on the roof, peering over the protective wall, they caught sight of a man and woman hurrying into the house where they had been only moments before, talking to an old man named Sadji.

"Let's go," he said quietly. It took a moment to find the stairs that led down, into the humble house. He carefully cracked the door open, could see that shadows in the window of the house across from him that indicated that his 'mother' and 'father' were engaged in what appeared to be an argument. He cringed when the shadow of the daemon struck the old man.

Slipping through the barely open door, Daniel tightened his hold on Casey's hand. Knew that the sound of their feet against the ground would alert the daemon's to their escape.

"Where to?" Casey gasped, struggling to keep up with the longer strides of her husband.

"Barn," he panted.


A  A  A  A  A  A


When Casey had screamed out Daniel's name, every person in the infirmary had jumped. The two were breathing heavily, and whether they were fighting, or running, no one had a clue.

When Janet noticed that Daniel's hand was reaching out, searching, she ran to his bed, began pushing against the frame. Two medics rushed to her side, shoving his bed against Casey's. Her hand had been reaching out as well. When the two hands met, locked together, the petite doctor gave a silent sigh of relief.

"Just what's going on, Doctor?" one of the nurses asked, her face a mask of puzzled concern.

"Battle. On the astral plane," Janet replied, her eyes never leaving the two who continued to breath as if they were running. "Oxygen masks! But gently! Don't wake them!"

"Just when I thought it couldn't be any more bizarre around here," the nurse muttered, obeying the doctor's orders.

Janet spared time for a smile. She was learning that nothing was impossible, or even improbable, when it came to SG-1.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Teal'c climbed over a low fence, ran toward the market street. Tameri and Iteti were behind him, but not close enough to discern what direction he turned. Casey and Daniel ran across the street just behind the daemons, unaware that the two Beings were in front of them, in pursuit of Teal'c.

Behind the Jacksons, Kawit and Yuya burst onto the street. "You cannot hide forever!" Yuya taunted.

"Don't plan on it," Daniel shot back, grabbing Casey's arm and running toward the back streets of the city.

Jack and Sam, who had been running toward the main boulevard in order to locate their teammates, heard the shouts; watched as Daniel and Casey ran by them. Began tossing baskets of fruit and vegetables into the street.

Kawit and Yuya found the ground beneath their feet slick and unsteady. Both went down in unceremonious heaps. Both began to shout out curses; one in a language so ancient it had no name, the other in Sumerian.

"Time to go," Jack said, leading Sam in a crouch, staying behind the merchant's stalls.

Teal'c was already in the barn, hidden in the shadows. Recognized Casey's slender silhouette as she followed Daniel into the moonlit farm building. "Daniel Jackson!"

Daniel whirled around. "Teal'c?"

"Yes." The Jaffa stepped out of the shadows.

"You're all right!" Casey surged forward, hugged the giant man.

"I am fine, Casey Jackson."

"Well none of us are going to be if we don't get out of here!" Jack said, bursting through the door.

"Where?" Daniel asked.

"Your call, Danny," Jack said quietly.

He heaved a sigh. "I'd like to just get this all over with!" He spun around, slammed his fist into one of the barn's support beams. "Illusion! Every damned bit of this is a freaking illusion!"

In that instant, everything around them began to shimmer. Walls dropped away as if being erased, the night sky turned to a gold canopy above them.

"Holy Hannah!" Sam breathed.

The daemons, and Mibi, stood looking around them; panic in four pairs of eyes, one pair of black eyes cold, and calculating. Their carefully erected illusion was gone, and the sudden disappearance of what they had struggled to maintain left the four 'keepers' staggering.

"Let's get this over with," Daniel said firmly, stepping forward.

Suddenly a ring, marked by stones painted blue, black, and red, appeared to their left. From somewhere came the sound of drums; the low, steady beat growing ever louder.

"What the hell is that?" Jack demanded to know.

"I have no idea," Daniel replied.

Casey cocked her head sideways, listened to the whispers. "Yes, you do," she said softly. "Rituals...from the earliest times."

He looked at her. "There are theories...nothing actually accepted."

"Sort of like your theories?" Jack asked.

Daniel tossed a smile at his friend, understanding the unspoken meaning of his words. Accepted had nothing to do with being, or not being, correct. "Early man didn't fight wars in the way we know them. I suppose because there were so few people. There were stones discovered near a cave, painted this way. It appeared they had been in a circle. Popular theory is that it was for some religious purpose."

"But it wasn't?"

"No. Well, at least not according to Doctors Mike Loughlin and Douglas Elliot. They believed it had to do with settling disputes."

"Now just how would they get an idea like that?"

"From the traces of blood on the buried stones. They theorize that if clans, or tribes, disagreed about boundaries, for hunting and gathering for example, then one man was chosen from each. It may or may not have been a fight to the death. But the winner decided the dispute," Daniel replied.

"And the drums?" Casey wrapped her arms around her waist as the steady beat seemed to match her heartbeat...or her heartbeat matched the rhythm of the drums, she wasn't sure which it was.

"That's easy," Sam piped up. "I read a paper recently about stereophonic beats, and its effects on the listener. According to research, the drumbeats found in the rituals of various cultures beat at a steady rate of 4.5 beats per second, inducing a trance-like state in listeners. The trance-like state is a result of the brain's shift into a 4.5-beats-per-second brainwave pattern, a low Theta brainwave state."

Daniel nodded. "Pre-battle ritual." He glanced at Yuya. Noted that the man was staring at him, as if he were already in a trance. "The stone circle can stay. The drums go."

The immediate lack of the sound made the silence that fell roar around them for several seconds. Again, the daemons appeared surprised...even a bit fearful.

Mibi stood back, pulling shadows around him, seeking to hide. If this battle went against him...or rather, against his associates, he would leave, before The One was even aware of his absence. There were so many places he could go. So many realities he could choose from. Unfazed by the events as they played out, he stood watching; his expression deceptively neutral.

Yuya stepped into the ring. "You will die this day, Tau'ri."

Daniel followed suit. "Maybe."

When Iteti tried to follow, Teal'c grabbed his arm. "I believe the purpose of the ring is to see battle between only two combatants."

When Kawit would have stepped forward, Casey blocked her way. "Don't even think about it. I'll knock you on your ass in a heartbeat!"

Sam prevented Tameri from making any moves to join her friend.

"Looks like it's just you and me," Daniel said.

Yuya tossed his kilt aside, stood naked in the ring.

Oh, you have got to be kidding! Realized that in the midst of any fight, the kilt wouldn't cover him anyway. He tossed his own kilt aside.

Hands curled into fists. The two men began to circle on another. Yuya jabbed, his eyes widened when Daniel easily ducked the punch.

"Ya know, the bad guys always make that mistake," Jack drawled. "They think Daniel isn't strong enough to take them on. That he doesn't know anything about fighting...or boxing. I'd let them tell you, but sadly none of them survived."

"Not something I'm proud of," Daniel deadpanned.

Casey glanced around. Dozens of glowing lights surrounded them. "Daniel, you're The One."

"Which means?"

"You're The One. You must do what has to be done."

His fingertips began to burn. "Casey, it wouldn't be fair."

"Watch out!" Jack called.

Daniel cried out, stumbled backward as a yellow ball of fire impacted on his shoulder.

"Daniel!" Casey screamed. Jack's hand closed around her arm. "Guide, Casey. Just guide him."

"If they win, we remain here, prisoners forever," Casey said softly. "I'll be a whore in the Pharaoh's harem."

Anger raced through his veins, images of that hidden room filling his mind. "No way," he ground out. He lifted his hand, and a blue fireball went flying.

Yuya hadn't expected the attack. Looked down at his chest, which smoldered, the wound cauterized at the edges. "Not possible."

Daniel didn't respond. He tossed another blue ball of fire. Again hit the man in the chest. "Fight, damn you! You wanted to fight, you wanted to kill me! Now fight!"

"He's scared, Daniel," Casey said softly. "He didn't expect to have to face you alone. It was their plan for the four of them to face you together. They'd destroy you, and then take us...Sam would be Iteti's plaything. I would have been consigned to the harem. Teal'c would have remained a slave in the Pharaoh's army. Jack would have been a laughingstock."

His ire burned hotter. He knew that for Sam to be nothing more than a puppet to a daemon would have crushed her very spirit. Teal'c had suffered as a slave to the Goa'uld, an eternity as a slave to a daemon...no way. Jack's reputation was one of the few things that had mattered to him for most of his life, he'd worked damned hard to earn the respect that he now commanded. As for what the bastards dared to plan for his Wife...his fingertips burned hotter. Again he tossed a blue fireball. Watched as the man dropped to his knees. "Fight!"

Yuya looked up at the man. He hadn't believed that Daniel possessed the strength...the power...to battle as an equal. "You are more powerful than we realized," he gasped.

"Yeah, how about that," Daniel replied. He looked around. He could sense the audience that he couldn't see. Assumed that the Ascended had gathered to watch him deal with the Beings they had refused to discipline far too long ago. "Casey, are they here?"


"The Committee."

She looked around. Couldn't feel the cold arrogance. Nor the haughty indifference. "Nope."

In his role as The One, his own senses seemed to have been enhanced...at least, they were in that moment. He could feel what They wanted from him...what they expected from him. His anger turned in a different direction, burned just as hot. Yeah, just call in The One. Let him do the dirty work, he thought disgustedly. Let him kill, while they remained well removed from the violence of such actions. He was a weapon, he really did understand that. And he understood that he would have to face a lot of bad guys, and kill them. But the idea of being a convenient...tool of discipline...for Beings too damned arrogant to even admit that they had screwed up...no way. "Take care of your own mess!"

"Daniel, what are you doing?" Jack asked, taking a step closer to the circle.

"I'm not going to kill him, Jack. I won't kill any of them. That's not my job." He had his own reasons for wanting this group of daemons dead...he knew they were responsible for the hell Casey had suffered, believing he was dead. The hell he had endured, believing he'd never see her again. For that alone, he could kill them without blinking an eye. He wanted to kill them for putting them through hell on Earth. But he would not be used as a tool by the Ascended Committee, in an attempt to keep their hands clean of blood. So that they could continue to believe themselves superior to the Ancients, to the Mortals...to him. Their arrogance had led to a multitude of wrongs - crimes - committed by beings of their own kind. Yet they had stood by and done nothing as thousands...millions...of the Innocent suffered and died. No way in hell. He wasn't anyone's puppet! "Not my responsibility," he said, dropping his hand.

"But it is, Daniel," a voice said, echoing around them. "The duties of The One will weigh heavy upon you. You have the strength to defeat these daemons. They must be defeated."

Something about what the voice said bothered him...poked at him. It felt...wrong. As if...as if he were being...tested. Judged. Let them judge, he would not be cast into the role of 'subservient lackey'! "Why? I thought that you held all life precious."

"We do," the voice replied. "But there are times when the life of one, or the lives of five, must be sacrificed in order to protect millions."

His head dropped forward, his chin on his chest. Contemplated what he had been told. Knew first hand the damage the daemons had caused. How many innocent people had suffered, had died because of these daemons? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? Felt the fire burning in his hands. He lifted his head, his decision made. The blue fireball impacted on the ground beside the man. "You want them punished, then punish them. I'm not about to be your weapon of destruction!"

"Whoa," Jack muttered.

A flash of light distracted the individuals who stood around the circle of stones.

"Mibi!" Tameri hissed. "The fool has abandoned us!"

"You refuse to execute these rebels?" the voice demanded.

"Yes, I refuse!" Daniel spat. "These...rebels...have been allowed free reign by the Ascended, because of some law that shouldn't apply to their own kind; the Ascended have allowed millions of innocent people to suffer because they refused to 'interfere'! Why should I be forced to rectify their failures?"

"That's right!" Casey said, looking around, trying to locate the source of the voice she was certain she recognized. "The Ascended Committee members should be here! They should be the ones to carry out judgment against the rebels!"

No one noticed that the four beings in question had become wide-eyed, looking around fearfully.

"Just where are these esteemed Committee Members?" Jack demanded to know. "Too cowardly to even show up for this little event?"

Daniel glanced at his Wife and best friend, gave them a small smile, shook his head slightly. "The decision is mine to make. I can't...I won't...destroy them. It's not my place to do so. I'm not some omnipotent being with the wisdom to decide who should live and who should die. I'm just a simple man. An archaeologist. Yes, I understand the destruction these daemons have caused, the untold pain and heartache. Yes, I understand that they must be...disciplined. Yes, I've killed, I have the blood of far too many enemies on my hands. It is not, however, my duty to kill just because you say they should die. If you wanted an automaton, you have the means to create a robot 'yes man' who would obey your every command. I may be a weapon, but I won't be used by Beings who allowed the situation to occur in the first place. I won't be used by those who sat back and watched as these Beings wreaked havoc among the Innocent. The Ascended, at least the Committee, are wholly responsible for allowing these...rebels...to hurt so many innocent people. Their inaction has caused untold suffering. The Committee should deal with their own mess, not use me as a convenient means of shirking their duty."

"Well done, Daniel," the voice said gently. Four more flashes of light, and the daemons disappeared.

"Where are they?" Daniel asked immediately.

"They have been...dealt with. Never will they cause harm again," the voice replied.

"And the one who escaped?"

"Will not go far. He will be...punished...as well."

"What of the Committee? Will they be held responsible for their part in all of this?" Daniel asked. He needed to know that the Beings who had allowed so much pain and suffering, who were every bit as guilty as the daemons who had wreaked havoc on the universe, would never again be allowed to be so aloof in their actions.

"They will face their own punishment," the voice assured him quietly.

Daniel nodded.

"So, does this mean we can go home?" Jack dared to ask.

"Yes, Colonel O'Neill. The One has done that which he needed to do. His Guide offered him the instruction he needed. As his Protectors, you have proven yourselves worthy."

"That's all fine and dandy, and don't misunderstand me here, I'm just tickled pink that Daniel pulled this off the way he was supposed to, and that we did our job well. But I just wanted to know about getting-"




"I need more gauze!" Janet called, pressing her hand against the wound that continued to seep blood on Daniel's shoulder.

"...home," Jack said, opening his eyes. "Whoa."

One by one the other members of the team opened their eyes. Daniel's first action was to lift the blanket and make certain he wasn't naked. The green of his BDU was a beautiful sight. The tube that disappeared into his pants...not so welcome. The pressure against his shoulder reminded him of the wound he had suffered. "Ow!"

Janet smiled. "Took a hit, I see."

"Didn't duck fast enough," he replied.

"How long?" Sam asked, looking around at the medics who seemed to have appeared from nowhere. Tried to pull away from the nurse who was flashing a penlight into her eyes.

"Four days," Janet replied.

"Coffee. I want coffee," a soft voice pleaded.

"Yeah, and food. A steak, baked potato, salad, dinner roll, cheesecake-" Jack said, listing his favorites. Being his usual uncooperative self when the medic took his blood pressure and attempted to take his temperature.

"O'Malley's?" Daniel asked.

"Sounds good to me," Jack replied.

"None of you are going anywhere," Janet told them, arms folded across her chest. "I'll have soup brought down."

"Soup?" Jack echoed. "Oh, c'mon, Doc! Four days! The least you can do is offer real food!"

"That's right, it's been four days since your systems have had anything solid. Keep the soup down and we'll talk about adding grilled cheese sandwiches to your next meal."

"Next meal?" Casey asked, trying to sit up. Discovered that it was more effort than she had expected. "Just how long do you plan on keeping us here?"

"At least twenty-four hours," Janet replied smugly.

"Oh, that's just mean," Casey complained.

General Hammond, who had been standing in one corner of the room, watching unobtrusively, stepped forward. "I assume that everything went...well?"

"As well as could be expected, sir," Jack replied. "Daniel did the right thing, and the daemons have been dealt with."

"Well, there was the one who got away," Sam tossed in.

"The worst one," Casey said softly. She shivered slightly. Had the feeling that they would be forced to deal with that particular daemon again. But for now...she reached out, felt herself move up in that familiar way. It had been months since she had felt able to move about so freely. She supposed she should talk to Miss Eloise. But she would do that later. For the moment, she wanted to enjoy the fact that they were home, back on the mortal plane of existence, right where they belonged.

"Casey?" Daniel asked quietly. Noted that his bed had been pushed against hers. Took advantage of that fact by wrapping his arm around her shoulders.

"We might have to face him. But for now, everything is the way it should be."

"You said there were other Beings watching, including evil ones," Daniel said softly.

"Your ability to so easily defeat the daemon you faced sent them scurrying back to that place where they're supposed to remain. I don't know for how long, but word is definitely getting out that The One has the strength to protect the Innocent. That you won't be a puppet for the Ascended, or the Higher Beings, I think worries them as well, because it makes you...unpredictable," she replied.

"How about that," Jack teased. "You're famous!"

He tried to smile. Looked at his Wife. "You said I'd have to destroy them," he said quietly.

"You made the choice not to do so...you proved that you were more than capable of destroying them, and your respect for all life," she said softly. "If you had destroyed them, had you battled each of them, and killed them, then you would have done what was expected of you. You chose not to let Them use you, not to let Them make you into something you weren't meant to be."

"I won't be their...lackey." He shook his head. "I couldn't do it," he said quietly. "I know that they were rebels, and that they've caused untold pain. But..." His voice trailed off. Weapon he might be. Automaton he wasn't. He just didn't believe that he had the ability to clearly, honestly and objectively decided who should live, and who should die. He wasn't omnipotent, damn it! He wasn't even an Ascended Being!

Jack cleared his throat. "Seems to me that everything turned out okay. They won't be harming anyone now."

"That's right, Daniel," Sam said. "You forced those Higher Beings to deal with their own problems."

"You're The One, Daniel," Casey said, her voice low. "With that...honor...comes great responsibility. You've proven once again that you're the best man for the job. You have the strength...the power...to destroy. You chose not to do so, and that proves that you understand the sanctity of life in a way that so many of the Ascended have forgotten. And you certainly reminded them of their responsibilities to the beings of other levels. You were able to force them to take back that responsibility. That won't be forgotten, at least, not quickly. Chances are they'll deal with any future problems much sooner."

He closed his eyes, laid his head back on the pillow. The only thing he could remember with absolute clarity about his 'battle', was the rage at being used, feeling as if he were nothing more than a pawn in a game, no more important than that. Expected to do what was demanded of him without thought, without hesitation. Without regret. No, he would not be an 'instrument of destruction' for higher level beings to use at a whim. No matter what level of existence they might be from.

What felt like a gentle caress against his mind brought a smile to his face.

"You have done well, Daniel. You are indeed The One."

His smile widened.

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