If Nicholas Rush still had dreams, he might have been annoyed with being woken up in the middle of the night, but as it stood, he was more annoyed with the fact that someone had the nerve to even knock on his door at all. He’d been under the impression that no one even knew where his room was, but that bloody pounding wasn’t letting up or going away.
“All right!” Rush roared into his pillow, rolling up and out of bed, groaning as his head swam for a moment. He rubbed his face, blinking the sleep out of his eyes before shrugging up, his shoulders screaming and rolling his head from side to side, enjoying the satisfying crack that shivered down his spine. He cuffed his fist against the switch, glaring as the door opened to reveal a very upset Eli Wallace.
Nothing he particularly ever cared to see.
“This had better be worth my time,” Rush growled, rubbing life back into his arm which was tingling and numb.
Eli opened his mouth to respond, but the black talkie he held at his side crackled to life and a panicked Chloe broke over the frequency, “Eli, get him here now!”
Rush’s eyes snapped from the radio back to Eli’s face as the boy sputtered his message, “Someone came through the Stargate, and we didn’t dial out. No one did.”
Eli swallowed thickly when Rush didn’t reply, only because the doctor literally did not understand the words the boy had just said to him. But the logistics of what seemed to be happening to them at that moment were pushed aside as Chloe’s strangled voice crackled over the radio again, “Eli!”
Rush and Eli jolted into action, running down the hall. Rush realized he was barefoot, only in jeans and his long-sleeved white shirt, but this information hitting him was washing away any of those precedents. Someone was on board. Someone had come through the Stargate. Without being dialed?
That was impossible.
Rush and Eli could hear the infuriated shouting and boisterous commotion before they hit the gate room, and it seemed that everyone on board was awake and very, very unhappy. And like in every other fucking situation, they all had an opinion on whatever seemed to be happening.
The minute everyone heard Eli’s voice, they turned, and suddenly Rush found himself surrounded by angry, upset faces and pointing fingers, accusations flying at him, things that didn’t make sense about dialing Earth, keeping secrets, and working late into the night for this purpose.
A typical day for Nicholas Rush, really.
Until someone he hadn’t seen grabbed his arm, twisting painfully, and hauled him off his feet.
A moment later, after a satisfying crunch and a loud muffled thud, everything fell silent.
Master Sergeant Ronald Greer stood between Rush and Sergeant Spencer’s fallen body, the butt of his gun slightly bloodied from the broken nose he’d delivered. The doctor stared, bewildered and dazed, trying to understand the scene that he was met with, that one of the most unforgiving of his fellow crew members had just saved him. Standing in the circle of disgruntled citizens was Chloe, Scott, and TJ, fixed like the Holy Trinity guarding a fallen angel.
For that was an accurate description of the girl crumpled on the cold metal floor. Her face, cut by shadow, seemed carved of porcelain, dappled in tears and loss. Her hair was wild, a mass of tangled dark curls, and Rush felt his breathing hitch seeing her smudged in soot, the ends of her tattered dress burning, the hem simmering and ruined by smoke. She looked like she’d stepped out of hell, burns across her arms and neck, and her palms were bleeding, leaving haunting, grasping hand prints on the cold metal before the gate.
She had literally clawed her way through the gate.
But Rush realized there were people talking to him when Camille’s tired face cut off his view of the little creature that had found her way onto Destiny, grinding out, “You fix this now!”
“I’d be happy to, Miss Ray,” Rush rumbled darkly, turning from her as he walked to the console, muttering, “As soon as I figure ou-”
Rush looked up from the monitor, his eyes ghosting between Colonel Young and Eli, stepping back a pace from the console. He flexed his fingers. His mouth had suddenly gone dry. “Which one of you did this?”
The system was completely fried, circuits hissing from behind the control board. Whatever had woken it up had ruined it. Rush stared at it, truly disturbed. He’d never seen the system so completely undone, literally unraveled from the inside out, as if something, some ribbon of infection had unwound all the alignments of the components and split it open like a boiled cauliflower.
When no one answered, he slammed his hand against the console. “Who fucking did this!”
A heartbeat of the heaviest silence he’d ever heard passed, and TJ spoke from the middle of the room, “Eli found it that way… when he found her.”
Rush glared at the small trio standing around the broken, bloody girl on the floor, and Rush was charging through the people, his vision red and black with bile at the back of his mouth. He wasn’t conscious of the decision to smash the girl into the ground until Scott slammed him back in the chest with his gun, but even that-for once-barely had an effect on him. He shoved against the first lieutenant, who growled like a trained German shepherd. “Get back, Rush!”
A weak, hoarse voice from behind the three protectors cried out like a falling bird, “I’m sorry!”
Everyone froze, and Rush could only feel the burning blood in his veins heating the back of his neck, heard it roaring in his ears as the girl looked up at him pleadingly. Her eyes, such pale blue they looked grey, like opals, stared up at him.
“I didn’t… I didn’t mean it,” she whispered, her smoke burnished face crumbling.
Rush wanted to break her.
Young’s voice cut through the quiet like a dagger, asking the question everyone wondered but were not brave enough to offer. “Can you fix it?”
Rush continued glaring at the girl, wishing he could grab her by the nape of the neck and throw her back to whatever pit she came from. This had been her doing, somehow, this impossible thing. Whoever or whatever she was had taken away their only means of survival and their only chance of gaining ground on earth again. Without this system, how was he supposed to be able to work on Destiny’s other problems?
“Yes, of course I can,” he growled, his hackles raised, all teeth and spite and hunger to punish. “But it’ll be days before we can dial out again.”
Colonel Young walked closer, leaning heavily on his makeshift crutch as Rush continued glaring at the girl. The colonel took Rush by the arm but the doctor shoved him off, taking a step forward. Greer put a hand out, but the doctor spat, “At ease. I’m not going to hurt her.”
He stepped forward, and Scott and Chloe both tensed on either side, but he ignored them as he knelt down, his elbows against his thighs as he peered at the new arrival’s face. Her head was bowed, her arms curled against her chest protectively. She was shaking, and the low, rough tenor of his voice bit at her.
“Look at me.”
The girl raised her eyes hesitantly, tears streaking trails over her soot stained cheeks, her cracked, dry lips. Whatever planet she had come from had suffered some sort of explosion or disaster. Any normal day, he’d be very interested in questioning her on the subject, but as it stood she’d somehow single-handedly managed to destroy the only system Rush could get his hands on, that was able to function. For the most part.
“Where are you from,” he leveled his voice, but he wasn’t sure how long that would last.
The girl’s eyes widened, stones darkening from rain as she looked up to Chloe. The late senator’s daughter’s gaze flickered from the girl to the doctor. “She-”
“I don’t believe I asked you, Miss Armstrong,” he snapped, glaring now at the young girl in front of him and barking. “Answer me.”
“I don’t know,” she whispered. If he was any judge, her throat was bleeding.
“You don’t know?”
“I don’t… I don’t remember,” she whispered, curling closer in on herself as his hands fisted tightly against his knees, whitening the knuckles. She closed her eyes against him. “Please, I… I didn’t mean it.”
“That makes no bloody difference,” Rush barked, his voice so much harsher, so much rougher than he’d ever heard himself speak with before. But this girl, this anomaly had nearly taken away their only source of life beyond Destiny. That could not be overlooked, and it could not go unpunished. “You’ve nearly destroyed our most important source of communication,” the girl opened her mouth, but Rush snarled ferociously, spitting anger, “No- you keep your mouth shut and you listen to me, now. Whatever you did, whatever you’ve done- it will be reverted, do you understand?”
The girl stared at him, her lips parted in utter fear, and he saw tears well up in her eyes, her shoulders trembling. The singes were blackening the hem of her skirt, crawling up and opening holes along the bodice of her gown, charring and dissolving as if she’d been plucked with cigarette burns. Morbidly, he hoped she kept those scars for this. He hoped it was worth it.
Rush pushed himself up, towering over this frightened, burning child. He knew then that he would stub her out.
“And when that is done, you will be sent back to wherever the bloody hell you came from.”