Kelowna was in flames, all of Langara was burning. The Hrsul attacks had come swiftly and without warning. Not one of the factions was left unaffected by the devastation, the Hrsul cared nothing for Langaren politics, had ignored all attempts at diplomacy. It no longer mattered, there was no government any longer; no one was in control in this uncontrollable situation.
The building that housed the Quinn family’s business had been hit. His cousin Mik, his only remaining family, had been in the part of the building that had collapsed. Attempting to get to him, Jonas met a wall of flame. Just before the roof collapsed, someone, a stranger, had tugged him away by his good arm. He was pulled away from the ruins of the building; the stranger saved his life and then ran away.
Holding his injured arm as tightly against his stomach as he could manage, Jonas jogged across the park towards the military zone. Most people were running away from the center of the Hrsul bombardment, but Jonas had heard a rumor that the Stargate was still functional and that people were using it to get off Langara to the safety of other planets. He did not know if that was true, but it gave him something to do when the alternative was sitting down to die. Giving up like that just seemed wrong, he needed to be doing something, and so he ran.
Luck favored him, the rumor was true.
Jonas didn’t even have to show his identification when he ran through the checkpoint at the entrance to the building where the Stargate was housed. That was lucky, because he had no idea where his identification was, probably buried in the ruins of his office. Soldiers holding guns were waving everyone through and encouraging them to move faster. The soldiers were moving with the crowd, abandoning their security posts. Jonas assumed that meant there was no longer a reason to protect this location. He wondered what he was running towards.
He saw that there was a large line of people, all shoving and pressing forward to get through the doors of the building. One of the Earth SGO soldiers pulled him roughly along by the sleeve of his good arm and told him, “We might make it, if the front of the line moves fast enough.”
A Hrsul ship flew overhead, the engines screaming nosily as it rained destruction down on the Kelownan capital. Like the others around him, Jonas ducked as it passed, covering his head with his good arm. When the others surged forward, he ran along with them.
“Hurry, hurry!” an SGO soldier standing near the Stargate screamed. “We’re at thirty six minutes! Hurry people, hurry, we’re out of time!”
The few people behind Jonas began to shove, Jonas nearly stumbled, but a burly earth soldier grabbed the collar of his jacket and steadied him, while at the same time, shoved him forward. There was no one to catch him when he was pushed again as people desperately ran around him. He tripped and stumbled into the puddle of blue that promised safety.
Cold and injured, Jonas tumbled and rolled onto a cold steel ramp. Stunned, he stared up at the blue gateway as three other people, SGO soldiers, rushed through behind him, and then the shimmering puddle disappeared. Strangers came to Jonas’ side, helping him to stand. He let out a pained gasp as someone touched his injured arm; the person apologized and called for a medic.
“Let’s look at that, shall we?” A woman with a kind face wearing a white coat reached for his arm, examining it gently. “What's your name?”
“Jonas. Jonas Quinn. Where am I? There was no time to ask, I don’t even know where I am.”
“I’m Doctor Frasier. You’re at the Earth Alpha Site, Mister Quinn. This is broken, come with me and we’ll get you splinted up.”
A day later, his arm in a splint and sling, Jonas stood in the clearing with other Langarens as Commodore Kowalsky of SGO ordered the Gate to be dialed. An armed team stood ready to go through. They were going to check on the situation on Langara. There were still SGO personnel unaccounted for, and many, many Earth civilians had not made it in time to evacuate when the attack came. As the last chevron was dialed, many people held their breath in anticipation.
“Connection failed, Commodore,” the soldier that dialed the Gate said. He pressed the sigils for Langara again. “Reattempting.”
It was no use; the Langaran Gate would not connect. Dismissing the crowd, Commodore Kowalsky did not say what everyone knew in their hearts; the Gate, like most of Kelowna, must have been destroyed. If it had not, the SGO people would have dialed again.
His stomach got tight and he choked back a sob at the confirmation that his home and people were gone, just like Earth. Like the Earthers of this Alpha Site, the Langarens that had made it through the Gate were the last of their kind. The Hrsul had taken their home.
“I’m sorry Jonas,” Doctor Fraiser said. She had been very kind to him since his arrival, despite having a number of patients to care for. He had returned to the infirmary to have his arm checked over and to get a pain pill and had stayed, sitting beside the bed of a wounded soldier and talking with the young man for a few hours. Doctor Fraiser had come to tell him about the dial out and had walked over with him to watch.
He nodded sadly in acceptance of her sympathy. “It was a slim hope. What happens to us now?”
“The same thing that happens to the rest of us here, I suppose. You’ll be welcome to settle with us. Your people tried to help us, we will not forget that.”
After patting his shoulder, she left to check on her patients. Jonas stayed there for a little while, staring at the Gate. Mik, his only family, was dead. Unlike many of the other survivors, he knew that he hadn’t left anyone behind suffering, it was a small blessing. He and Mik hadn’t been close, but they had been kin. He said a prayer for his cousin’s soul.
What was he going to do now? Was this planet any safer form the Hrusl than Langara or Earth had been? Would the Hrsul come here too, eventually? As he stood there thinking about it, Jonas began to believe that no planet in this galaxy was safe. He had been lucky, but perhaps it was only a matter of time before his luck ran out.