“Everybody, just stay still a minute,” the priest sighed. “Need to shift a hold.”
Making sure his grip was good, Daniel used the respite to revisit that first, impulsive conclusion. It rang true, unfortunately.
See Jack. See Jack meet suspected telepath. See Jack test suspected telepath to destruction.
And how better to do that, than drag up a memory any rational person would recoil from?
Only Sanzo wasn’t rational. Not by SGC standards. A rational person would never have launched that assault on the Centipede Clan castle-
Well, maybe Jack would have. Which wasn’t exactly a good argument for sanity, either.
And one thing Jack never counts on, Daniel admitted ruefully, is somebody else being as good and crazy as he is.
But Sanzo’d not only launched it, he’d carried it off. And gotten his people to safety, and run over a year of search-and-destroy missions after that, all the while working with a group of people that could only charitably be described as a rag-tag group of misfits. Which meant that outside of the obvious anger management issues, Sanzo had a trained, practiced self-control that made SG-3’s Marines look like tired kindergartners.
And Jack – just handed Sanzo exactly what he needed to Ginsu him. Oh. Hell.
Reasoning ahead of his facts, Sam would say. Though she’d probably be a bit more blunt, and sprinkle in a Holy Hannah or two. He didn’t have any proof. None.
But it fits. The NID guys? Paralyzing fear. Hakkai in the infirmary? Janet felt safe. And she says half of healing is believing you will make it. The way Sanzo can sense enemies, the way he can read youkai instinct even though it’s not human-
Oh. Oh, gods. No wonder the priests would rather die than talk.
After all, if for some reason the Tok’ra had one Dr. Daniel Jackson with intent to use him against the SGC, and he knew it….
Still – speculation. He wouldn’t have even considered such a crazy idea, if he hadn’t met Thor. But given Kanzeon had-
“That which is Lost.” What if Sam and Janet are right? If this is some kind of species reconstruction, using human DNA to fill in the gaps? If you’re trying to get something that works, you’d test all kinds of mixes. And – this isn’t exactly Buddhism, not by a long shot, but monasteries? Groups of people organized into communities, praying and meditating. Mental training.
And I’d bet anything that Sanzo aside, not all the monks and nuns have to be celibate….
“Oh, Daniel,” Jack’s voice floated down, dryly exasperated.
“Ah, right,” the archaeologist stammered. “Moving.”
A few more scrapes, and familiar hands pulled him up. Giving Jack a shy smile, Daniel shook out his arms and walked clear of the edge. Jack could say climb with your legs all he liked, sometimes you just had to reach, and-
Catching everyone else’s focused attention, he whipped his head around to see two robed, shaved-bald figures approaching. The older one carried a ring-topped staff, and wore layered robes in something close to saffron; the other looked to be mid-teens, wearing only a shorter, belted tunic.
Monk, and acolyte in training?
Whoever they were, they didn’t exactly look happy to see visitors. Daniel squared his shoulders, started to step forward-
Sanzo breezed past, face expressionless – yet Daniel could have sworn he saw a glint of mischief in violet eyes. “Acolyte. Arms out.”
“Revered Sanzo, I- ai-yi-yi….”
Brown and tan scales, faintly diamond-patterned in dusty rose, slipped out of the folds of Sanzo’s rain cloak into the acolyte’s nerveless arms. The older monk gulped, and stood perfectly still.
Behind him, Daniel could almost hear Jack not cursing.
“Careful,” Sanzo warned. “Don’t drop her. All the little mother wants is a warm spot to curl up and incubate. She won’t bite you if you’re calm. Be calm.”
“Y-yes, sir.” Pale and wide-eyed, the teenager cradled his armful of venomous serpent.
Sanzo’s gaze weighed him; the priest nodded, and took a step back. “You’re getting a bit lazy, little mother. There’s not always a priest to catch a ride on when you need one.”
If snakes could flick their tongues innocently, this one did.
“You picked that up on the way up here?” Jack demanded.
“Would you rather she bit you?” Fingertips on the acolyte’s shoulder, Sanzo steered him toward one of the higher rock piles. “Down, gently, hands out….”
The snake uncoiled down, slithering up and out of sight in the rubble at a measured pace.
The acolyte sat down, hard.
“Now, if you can just keep the same level of concentration in your chants, you’ll get somewhere.” Sanzo eyed the monk. “Escort us to the high priest. The villagers of Takei have been murdered.”