“We’re going to have to do something with her, Everett.” Camile stood across from Colonel Young in his quarters as she watched him look out of the window into space. The colours produced by FTL were always mesmerising. Camile always associate them with the Northern Lights. Colonel Young secretly did too.
“I know, Camile, but seeing as we have no idea what’s going on with Chloe, it’s hard to make any real decisions.” Colonel Young turned from the window to look over at his IRA counterpart. He could tell by her tight lips and arms crossed he wasn’t getting rid of her so easily.
“You can’t just lock her away and ignore her. She’s getting worse.”
“There has to be something. Some sort of test or expert or –“
“Camile.” Colonel Young’s voice was abrupt and in command. His eyes held Camile’s gaze sternly. “I have a meeting with Stargate Command in an hour. I’ll ask for assistance then.”
Camile paused, looking at Young with a passive expression, then her features soften. “Thank you.”
Colonel Young nodded and watched as Camile leave before he walked to his desk to gather his thoughts. He was not looking forward to using the stones today.
“Sir, are you sure about this?” Mathew Scott said again as he watched Colonel Young pick up a stone in the communication room for a second time the day. Scott always felt uneasy when the Colonel used the stones because it usually left him in charge and Scott felt better if Young was running the show.
“It’ll be fine, Lieutenant. There’s no one with more experience both in dealing with Chloe’s situation and in combat situations.” Colonel Young looked at Scott who was about to open his mouth again when Camile came marching into the room and distracted him.
Young looked at Camile, “Ready?”
“As ready as can be.” She nodded.
“Wait.” Scott’s brow furrowed and he reached up to rub the bridge of his nose. “Camile’s going too?”
“Relax, Lieutenant. It’ll be fine.” Young understood how Scott would be apprehensive of both Camile and himself leaving the ship for a while, but it was a good exercise for the young future leader to take charge without constantly deferring to other people. Besides, he would have help.
Without any more discussion, Young and Camile placed their stones on the tablet. A split second later the bodies of Camile and Young blinked and turned, looking at each other, and blinked again.
“Do something with your hair?” The person in Young’s body spoke and addressed Camile who was currently looking down at her body.
Camile looked up. “Very funny.”
Scott cleared his throat and took a step towards the duo. He tried to put on his friendliest, but professional expression. “Welcome back on board of the Destiny General O’Neil and....”
“Daniel Jackson.” Daniel reached out and offered his now very feminine hand to the lieutenant who reluctantly shook it.
Scott nodded. “So... you’ll be shown to your quarters and then to Chloe.”
“Actually,” Daniel spoke up, “I’d like to speak with Doctor Rush before I see Chloe, if that’s alright.”
The request momentarily put Scott off guard, but then he shrugged and nodded. “Uh, yeah. Sure. Of course.” He paused, then gestured towards the door, “If you’ll follow me, please...sirs”
Jack stood in the hallway looking at the closed doors to the quarters of one Chloe Armstrong. He wasn’t sure exactly what he was going to say to this girl or if he could help at all and he was a little irked at Daniel for making him do this alone. Just be yourself, Jack.
“Yeah, right.” Jack muttered before he activated the doors and stepped inside to find a petite girl staring out into the nothingness of space. He looked back briefly as the door closed behind him before turning his attention back onto Chloe.
“They say you’ve been through this before.” Chloe spoke with a distance in her voice as she continued staring out the window at the stars streaming by.
“Uh, yeah. Something like that.” Jack couldn’t help wondering if this girl could be any creepier than she was at that very moment. He hoped he hadn’t been this bad when the Ancients stuffed him full of knowledge.
“Then you can explain this, right?” Chloe turned around slowly and then rolled back her long sleeve to reveal her arm. The skin on her arm had changed. It was now a tint of blue and green and wrinkled almost like scales.
Jack couldn’t help but stare for a moment in silence. The growth on her arm looked nothing like anything he had gone through before. He silently thanked the Ancients for not changing his looks with those database things – not that he would admit it to any of them if he met them.
“Okay... maybe not exactly like what you’re going through.”
Chloe looked at Jack with an almost sarcastic look, then turned back to look out the window.
Jack paused, staring at Chloe as he collected his thoughts. No one had said anything about the physical changed. He hated surprises.
Taking a step forward further into the room, Jack tried to look as sympathetic as he could. “Look. I remember what it felt like to have your mind slowly taken over. It sucks. But we found a way to fix it.”
Chloe turned again to face Jack. “This time though, there are no Asgards around to fix me. We’re out in the middle of nowhere on the other side of the universe and even if Stargate Command figures out a way to reverse whatever it is that’s happening to me, there’s no guarantee we can do it with the resources available to us on this ship.”
It was obvious to Jack that Chloe had been thinking a lot about this.
“Look, General.” Chloe’s expression turned almost pleading. She was resolved in her fate. “I know I’m going to turn into... something else. I just want to be of some help before I do.”
Jack wished Daniel was here. It was hard to argue with that.
Daniel was escorted to the main bridge of Destiny which was truly spectacular looking compared to the descriptions he had been reading about back home on Earth. It was funny to think anything could compare to Atlantis, but Destiny was a different entity of its own.
“Doctor Rush?” Daniel spoke as he passed through the doors to find Nicholas Rush sitting in the command chair doing what was no doubt complicated work.
Rush looked up at his name and paused, staring at who he saw to be Camile.
Daniel flushed and cleared his throat awkwardly. “I know my appearance is... unconventional. But it’s me, Daniel Jackson.”
“Yes, I know.”
“I wanted to talk to you about the aliens that experimented on Chloe.” Daniel walked over to where Rush was stationed and took the nearest seat. It was odd not to need glasses or contacts. Everything was clearer to him.
Rush pulled of his glasses and rubbed the corner of his eyes. “Well, I can’t be entirely certain... but if I had to hazard a guess, I would say that the aliens did something to Chloe to change her physiology.”
“Like what happened with Jack O’Neill with the Ancient memory device.” Daniel remembered those incidents vividly still.
“More than that.” Rush corrected. “Her mind is not the only thing changing. So is her body. She can heal rapidly and her skin is starting to change as well.”
Daniel tried to not look as surprised as he felt. Rush seemed to notice the surprise regardless and continued.
“But like the General, Chloe’s cognitive abilities are rapidly increasing. I’ve been giving her increasingly complex equations to solve and she’s often quite successful even though Chloe herself does not seem to understand them.”
Rush’s continuance gave Daniel enough time to recover.
“I see.” So it was similar to Jack’s former situation. “The report at the SGC said Chloe has been experiencing blackouts where she does things she can’t remember.”
“That’s correct.” Doctor Rush nodded.
“Any reason why?” Daniel was fascinated.
“There have been several theories tossed around. Some think she’s here to sabotage the ship. Others think she’s here to help us.”
“And what do you think?”
“I think it’s impossible to truly know until the change is complete.” Rush wasn’t about to sugar coat the situation and he wasn’t big on incessant hypothesizing if it didn’t gain something.
Daniel opened his mouth, about to ask another question, when the doors opened to the bridge and Chloe marched in quickly followed by Jack and then two other soldiers. Chloe headed straight for one of the consoles.
“Jack?” Daniel stood up along with Rush.
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t – ”
“I mean I don’t know, Daniel. We were talking and then she got a weird look on her face and tried to leave the room. Had to stop Rambo one and two here from shooting her.” Jack motioned to the two soldiers who had their handguns at the ready.
Rush walked over to where Chloe was. “And you just let her go?”
“Sure. Why not?”
Daniel joined Rush and Jack at the console where Chloe was. “Because she could be doing something to sabotage the ship.”
“It worked out well when you let me touch things.”
“That was different.” Daniel had known the context of Jack’s change whereas this change with Chloe was completely out of left field.
“Chloe.” Rush spoke to the girl, but his eyes were on the monitor. “What are you doing?”
Chloe didn’t answer. Her fingers continued to fly expertly over the buttons until she suddenly stopped and blinked. It was as if she just woke up from a dream. It took her a moment to figure out where she was.
“..Rush?” She looked from Rush to Camile and Colonel Young before remembering that Colonel Young was General O’Neill.
“It’s alright, Chloe. You’re in the bridge. You inputted something into the computer.” Rush responded as he motioned with his hand for Chloe to get up.
“What did I put in?” She got up on command to let Rush sit down in her place.
“Let’s find out, shall we?” Rush began back-tracking on the computer.
Suddenly there was a crackle on the radio. It was Brody’s voice.
“Uh, Rush? The gate is dialing.”
Rush, with a look of annoyance, lifted his walkie talkie to his mouth. “That’s impossible. You can’t dial a gate while in FTL.”
“...Apparently you can now.”
Rush pulled up another screen and sure enough, it confirmed what Brody had said. The gate had dialed and not only that, it had locked.
Jack, Daniel, Rush, and Chloe walked briskly into the gate room where Brody and Lisa were at the computer consoles while a few military personnel were hovering around the active gate ready for something to happen.
“Any idea what you did?”Rush spoke to Chloe as he walked over and replaced Lisa at the control terminal.
“No.” Chloe shook her head and frowned. “I’m sorry, but I don’t.”
Rush continued to search through the string of computer data as Eli Wallace and Lieutenant Scott walked into the gate room. What was most frustrating was there didn’t even seem to be any data on what gate they had locked on to. They were completely in the dark.
“Is it true we’ve locked onto a stargate?” Eli was fascinated and stopped in his tracks when he saw the active stargate for himself. “Wow.”
“How is this even possible?” Scott was similarly in awe, but he was able to tear his eyes away from the event horizon to look at Rush and the rest of the science whizzes in the room.
Brody up nodded in Chloe’s direction. “Why don’t you ask your girlfriend.”
Scott turned to Chloe. “Chloe?”
Chloe shook her head. “I don’t know.”
Before either of them could say another word, a kino floated between them in the air and was heading for the gate.
“Eli, what are you doing?” Scott turned to his friend.
“Yes. What are you doing?” Jack looked from the floating device to the plump kid he knew as Eli who was apparently a math genius.
Eli tensed a little and gestured at the floating device “Uh, Colonel – I mean, General – This is a kino and-”
“I know what it is.” Jack stared at the young man with a blank expression.
“Right. Well, I just figured, why not see what’s on the other side of the gate?” Eli paused, looking at everyone with a hopeful look that said ‘please don’t yell at me.’
“Couldn’t hurt.” Daniel looked over at Jack who looked back at him.
Jack shrugged, then nodded to Eli to continue. The kino floated to the stargate then disappeared through it. A second later the kino reappeared on the other side and Eli was looking at the live video feed.
It took a moment for the kino’s video to stabilize and then the small group of people looking at the feed were greeted to an enclosed space with metal walls. The event horizon of the stargate was the only illumination in the room and allowed them to see the sparseness.
“This... looks familiar.” Chloe finally spoke after a few moments of watching the kino hover around investigating.
“Indeed it does.” Rush concurred, taking off his glasses momentarily to rub his eyes.
Jack looked over his shoulder to Rush. “Care to elaborate?”
Rush put his glasses back on and after one more quick look at the screen, he looked up at Jack and a few other people who were clearly waiting for an answer. “If I had to guess, I would say we connected to an abandoned alien ship. The same aliens that we’ve run into before.”
“You mean the ones who kidnapped you and Chloe.” Scott wanted clarification.
“That’s correct.” Rush nodded.
“Are you saying we’ve somehow connected to an abandoned ship formerly occupied by an enemy?” Jack was looking at them and feeling thankful he had skimmed through all the reports filed from Destiny’s encounters.
When Rush nodded, Jack looked over to Scott. “Looks like you have your next mission, Lieutenant.”
“But sir, don’t you think it’s a little dangerous. I mean, we’re in FTL.” Scott shifted his weight with a questioning expression on his face.
“We’re not scheduled to drop out of FTL for another four hours.” Rush had left the console and walked towards Scott with the intent on joining the expedition. “We should be fine.”
“Uh.” Brody spoke up from behind his console where he had been watching everyone else make decisions. “Not to be a downer, but... how are you going to get back. I mean, it’s practically a fluke that we connected to a gate at all.”
Everyone seemed to pause at the question and then turned to look at Rush.
Rush’s expression remained neutral. “I imagine whatever code Ms. Armstrong inputted into Destiny can be used to dial back when we need to.”
Jack had been around the block enough times to reply with a skeptical look. “Can you guarantee that?”
“Not 100%, but I’m sure Eli could make the necessary adjustments if needed.” Rush breezily replied.
“Me?” Eli pointed at himself. He realized quickly that meant Rush wanted him to go to the other ship too.
Jack paused as he considered the pros and cons. There were a lot of risks involved, but these people were stuck in the middle of nowhere and if there were valuable intel or resources on the other ship, then it might be worth it.
“Worst case scenario,” Rush added, “we have a second ship that we can use and we can navigate the new ship to meet up with Destiny.”
Rush’s additional consideration seemed to tip the balance positively.
Jack looked over to Scott. “Lieutenant, make your team.”
Daniel cleared his throat causing Jack to roll his eyes. “No, Daniel. “
“But – ”
“Do I have to remind you you’re not exactly yourself right now.” Jack turned to look at Daniel with a stern expression.
“I’d like to bring Chloe too.” Rush interjected before Daniel could plead his case.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.” Scott protested again.
“She could be helpful.” Rush interjected. “She is the one who made the connection between the two ships possible. If something were to happen on the other side, we might need her help to get back.”
Jack paused as he considered it. “Alright, but she doesn’t get a gun.” Jack looked at Chloe after a brief pause. “No offense.”
After the kino confirmed that life support was stable on the ship, the team which consisted of Mathew Scott, Nicholas Rush, Chloe Armstrong, Eli Wallace, and Lieutenant Vanessa James, walked through the gate. It was a larger group than Scott had wanted, but he had little choice in the matter. He had a lot of respect for General O’Neill, but Scott was beginning to wish that Colonel Young was back in his own body. He wondered if the orders would be the same. Maybe.
It was dark on the other side except for the illumination from the event horizon of the stargate, but it didn’t stop Daniel and Rush from heading off on their own to explore the room. Scott opened his mouth to suggest they stay close when Rush activated some doors and they slid open.
“Alright.” Scott said while trying to mask a sigh. “Let’s split up, but keep in constant radio contact and don’t go too far. This ship is old and there could be damaged parts. We’ll meet back in one hour.”
They were divided up into two teams. One team consisted of Scott, Chloe, and Rush. The other of Eli and James.
Rush headed left down the corridor, turned the corner and then paused in his tracks. When Scott caught up to Rush, he found the doctor staring out a window.
“Interesting.” Rush spoke quietly and mostly to himself.
Scott’s brow furrowed. “Rush?”
Rush didn’t respond immediately, but eventually replied. “We seem to be in FTL.”
He wasn’t sure why, but Scott didn’t like the sound of that. “What does that mean.”
“Well.” Rush began as he thought through the conundrum himself. “Considering we were also in FTL when we connected, it would explain how the lock between stargates is possible. Of course, it would take someone with considerable knowledge about FTL speeds and wormhole physics to calculate the correct coordinates.”
Rush looked pointedly over to Chloe whose expression was filled with bewilderment. Rush then looked at Scott. “Of course, it also means that either this ship is like Destiny, where it jumps from system to system on a predetermined path, or there’s someone driving it.”
Scott felt his muscles tense at the revelation as he reached for the walkie talkie. “Lieutenant James. Please be advised that this ship might be occupied. Use extreme caution.”
Ever since the threat of possible aliens on the ship, Scott had been counting down the minutes to when everyone needed to rendezvous in his head. So far they had explored some uninteresting, empty rooms with no other signs of life, but his gut was telling him this mission was a bad idea.
“Over here.” Chloe’s voice sounded from down the hall before she disappeared into another room.
When Rush and Scott got to the room, they were greeted with Chloe opening up a large black container.
“What is it?” Scott moved closer along with Rush as Chloe reached into the container.
“I don’t know.” Chloe produced a strange silver, rectangular object from the container and turned it over in her hand.
The metal was cold, but oddly familiar. She startled a little when her finger brushed along the side and the device began to transform. It was almost like watching a Transformer robot change from one shape to another.
By the time the object was fully transformed, it was pretty clear to Scott what it was. Anyone with a military background could recognize a barrel and trigger.
“Chloe,” Scott began with a cautious tone as he took a step closer to her.
Chloe’s eyes had gone blank as if someone else had taken over her body. She looked down at the device, then aimed it at the closed doors and fired the weapon at it. A thin yellow beam of light shot from the gun and when it reached the door, Chloe moved the beam in a circular motion creating a circle in the metal. Shutting off the gun, Chloe walked up to the door and pushed the inside part of the circle. It moved like a knife in butter through the door before it made a loud clang as it fell to the floor outside the corridor.
Rush watched with fascination. “It appears to be a hand held device similar to the ones on their ship which allowed them to gain access to Destiny through the haul.”
Scott ignored Rush’s fascination and moved to intercept Chloe. He took the gun from her and placed his other hand on her shoulder. His touch appeared to snap Chloe out of her daze as she blinked and then looked around, confused.
“It’s okay, Chloe.” Scott reassured. “It’s fine.”
The crackle of the radio dispersed some of the tension in the room and suddenly Lieutenant James’ voice sounded.
‘Uh, sir. I don’t mean to alarm you, but I think you’ve got company headed your way.’
Scott was immediately on red alert. “How could you possibly know that, Lieutenant?”
‘Well... Eli found a computer station and got into it and we can see the entire layout of the ship. I’m assuming you three are located in on room, right?’
‘Then what worries me is the four other life signs heading your way.’
“Alright, that does it. Lieutenant, head back to the stargate. We’ll meet you there.” Scott looked at Rush and Chloe to make sure they understood his orders were for them too. “We’re falling back to Destiny.”
There was a pause on the walkie talkie, then the sound of fumbling before Eli’s voice spoke. ‘Just give me a minute.’
Scott gritted his teeth. “Eli – ”
‘I found information on the whereabouts of every alien ship they have in this galaxy. I don’t know about you, but I’d sort of like to try to avoid another space battle. I’m uploading it to the kino remote. It’ll only be a few more minutes.’
Scott was put in a difficult position. He knew that if Destiny could avoid another encounter with the aliens it would help with their survival. He sighed with frustration. “Alright. You have five minutes.”
He didn’t know if Eli and James were immediate danger, but he knew that his group was. With that hole in the door, there was no way they could hide and pretend no one was there. They would have to try and run for it and hope a fire fight didn’t ensue.
“Okay, listen up. Rush, you’ll take the lead, then Chloe, and I’ll take up the rear. If they come after us, they’ll find me first.” It was a prospect which Scott was counting on since he could at least defend himself. Rush had a gun and knew how to use it, but Rush didn’t have nearly as much training compared to military personnel.
They made it down a few corridors before the sound of an alarm began echoing throughout the ship. That was not a good sign.
“Eli,” Scott’s voice was tense as he spoke into the walkie talkie. “If you’re not done, you are now.”
Even though there was no reply, Scott didn’t have time to find out why. A shot from an energy weapon rang out just as they turned a corner and hit the other side of the corridor. The aliens were behind them.
“Move!” Scott shouted.
They made it to the gate room and were able to close the door behind them just as the aliens appeared from around the corner. A shot was fired and it whizzed through the closing doors and hit the gate before they sealed themselves in.
“If they have any of those weapons like the one we discovered, it won’t be long until they get in.” Rush, ever the optimist, spoke as he tried to catch his breath from the running.
“What about Eli and Vanessa?” Chloe’s face was riddled with worry as she looked at the two men before her.
“We’re right here.” Lieutenant James appeared and gestured to Eli who was furiously tapping away at the kino remote. James nodded to Scott. “We got the intel, sir.”
“Good. Hopefully we’ll be alive to get it back to Destiny.” Scott was just glad to see that both of them made it back to the gate safely. “Eli, how’s it going?”
“Not good.” Eli didn’t even look up from the remote as he replied. “I have all the calculations, but I can’t find the right sequence. When it was copied into the kino, it somehow got mixed up.”
There was some obvious movement on the other side of the door. Rush glanced at it before looking back at the group. “Let Chloe take a look at it.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” It was Chloe’s turn to express doubt.
Rush shook his head. “At this point, I’m not sure it would hurt.”
Chloe went over to Eli and took the remote. A brief moment looking at the code caused her to go back into a daze and she suddenly started typing away. Eli watched her and tried to keep up, but she was too fast. The only thing he could tell was that she apparently knew what she was doing. So much for being MathBoy.
The lights on the stargate suddenly started flicking and then the device began to dial.
Scott smiled impulsively. “Good job Chloe.”
Chloe backed up from the stargate before it connected. The large Kawoosh took up most of the too, but everyone got out of the way in time. Rush went first and then Eli before Scott noticed Chloe was still typing away on the kino remote.
“Chloe?” Scott took a step toward her while ignoring James’ prompt to continue filing into the stargate.
Chloe glanced up briefly, then kept typing. “I have to keep changing the variables. Destiny and this ship are no longer going the same speed.”
“What?” Scott didn’t understand.
“Lieutenant – ” James stood anxiously by the stargate with her eyes on the door where the aliens were trying to get in.
“You have to go,” Chloe said, looking up at Scott. “I need to stay here to make sure you get to the other side safely.”
Scott’s expression changed, his lips pressing into a frown and his stomach turning to knots. “No. We go together.”
Chloe shook her head. “I can’t.”
“Yes, you can.” Scott argued.
“No, Scott.” Chloe’s voice was hard and distant.
“Chloe - ”
“Scott, you need to go.” Chloe’s eyes pleaded to him.
“I won’t.” Scott stood his ground.
“Lieutenant!” James shouted when there was a small explosion from the other side of the door.
Scott shouted over his shoulder. “Go!”
James hesitated, but Scott shouted back again and made it an order which caused her to step through the stargate and disappear.
Scott looked back at Chloe. “There has to be something we can do.”
Chloe shook her head. “No, Scott.”
Chloe could tell she wasn’t going to win. She began walking towards the stargate while she spoke, causing Scott to slowly walk backwards in the process. “I don’t know what I’m doing, except I know it’s important.” He fingers continued to manipulate the buttons on the remote. “You need to go. They need you.”
Scott’s eyes were glued to Chloes and the softened, pleaded. “I need you.”
Chloe pressed her lips together. She felt her heart sink. “I’m sorry.”
Before Scott could say or do anything else, Chloe used all her might to push him backwards. Whatever it was that was changing her also made her stronger. Scott was pushed far enough that he stumbled and headed backwards into the event horizon. He couldn’t stop the motion his body was in.
As he stumbled backwards, Scott realized he was holding onto the remote and she was stepping back. Chloe had lied. She said something to him, but he couldn’t hear her. The last thing he remembered before he fell onto his back on Destiny’s gate room floor was shouting her name – a shout which carried over onto Destiny.
Scott was on his feet just as the gate lost its connection. His eyes locked onto Brody. “Dial it back up.”
“I – can’t.” Brody was taken aback by Scott’s sudden forcefulness. “Even if I could, I –”
“I ordered him not to.” Colonel Young appeared from around a pillar. His face was neutral, but stern. “Yes, Lieutenant. I’m back.”
“But sir – ” Scott pleaded.
Young shook his head. “It’s too dangerous.”
“Chloe’s on the ship.” Scott argued.
“I know.” Young walked up to Scott and placed a steady hand on the young man’s shoulder. He lowered his voice to talk more like a friend than a commanding officer to him. “We’ll find a way to get her back. I promise.
Scott looked at Young for a long moment as if considering the colonel’s words. Scott finally nodded. “Alright.”
“Good.” Young spoke with a nod of his own and a pat on Scott’s back. “Then let’s get the intel on the aliens analyzed and see what we can do.”
Young watched Scott head out of the gate room. The intel they picked up would prove useful and Rush brought back that alien gun. The only thing that Colonel Everett Young was not so sure about was their ability to find and rescue Chloe. But he had hope.
They always needed to have hope.