Disclaimer: I don't own SGU, just borrowing the characters for a little fun.
Characters: Destiny, Col. Young, Lt. Scott, Tamara Johansen, Eli Wallace
Summary: They just want to go home. Like children let free to do whatever they please, they walk along her corridors, touch every console they can find, override systems, complain about their fate. They're everywhere, and they don't have the right to be. And if they won't leave… she'll have to take the matter in her own hands.
Unbeta'd, so forgive my mistakes ; )
Note: The idea came to me during the first rehab session, grew bigger throughout the week and found a conclusion today. Like I needed proof that I shouldn't be left alone with myself in a dark room with machinery resembling a Cylon Centurion. Enjoy!
Destiny is old. She belongs to a distant time when Ancient ships were sentient and considered a member of the crew, not just a way of transport. A time when the Milky Way was a dangerous place, and her people, just arrived from another galaxy, needed all the help they could get to win their battles. Destiny is one of the last ones left to remember that period, though: the majority of her sisters have all fallen out of the sky millennia ago, burning like stars for a glorious instant before disappearing in the deepness of space. Heroes forever remembered but no longer needed, now that peace was finally achieved.
Destiny remembers her old crew and her commander. She proudly watched him and many of her crew ascending and disappearing in a shining white light, one by one, until she was left alone and with a mission to carry on. She barely remembers the blue planet she left, and the mute, deaf, and blind sister the other Ancients were starting to build when she left the galaxy. There's no point in remembering home and Atlantis, if she won't ever see them again. It's not the mission she inherited from her crew.
Destiny can't help but get her hopes up when she finally sees the Stargate activating. It took ages, but a new crew is coming; her mission was not forgotten. But then she observes those scared men and women appearing one after the other in the Gate Room, and Destiny immediately knows they're not who she has been waiting for all those years. Someone defines them the wrong people in the wrong place, and Destiny can't help but agree with that wounded soldier and his words. They don't want to be there. They don't understand the importance of the legacy left behind by her first crew. Her only crew.
They just want to go home. Like children let free to do whatever they please, they walk in her corridors, touch every console they can find, override systems, complain about their fate. They're everywhere, and they don't have the right to be. And if they won't leave… she'll have to take the matter in her own hands.
Destiny is a soldier at heart, and she never fought a battle that she couldn't win.
This time won't be any different.
"TJ… what does it mean you don't know? You're the doctor, you must have some ideas."
TJ shook her head, and looked at Col. Young in the eyes. "Sir, like I told you… All the sick people have eaten the same things, drank the same water and lived in the same areas as the rest of us. Apparently, there are no external causes for their coma. It could be just a matter of time before it could happen to all of us, or it could just end with them. It's too early, we'll just have to wait and see."
"But there must be something we can do."
"If we could locate the original sickbay on this, maybe I could run some more tests on my patients. But at the moment, my theories are as good as everybody else's, sir."
Young leaned on the back of his chair with his eyes closed, and took a deep breath. "Do what you can, TJ. Keep me posted on the situation."
"Yes, sir," replied the paramedic, and left the room. Young gave the communication stones a long glance. What was he supposed to say to his superiors on Earth? Three days after they restored the life support on the ship, people went to sleep at the end of the day to never wake up the morning after. Ten people up to that moment had fallen into coma, and if Johansen and the other scientists didn't isolate the cause, Young feared the number of comatose people would just get bigger and bigger.
Well, there was no point in postponing that moment any longer. Young lit the pad and put his hand on the stone, putting it into place, when a female hand stopped him. Startled, he looked at her right, and saw a young woman in a black leather military uniform with dark blonde hair tied up in a bun and big, brown eyes leaning against his desk.
"Hello, Colonel Young."
The Colonel looked at her in confusion. "What the hell…?"
"You've so much weight on your shoulders right now. And your superiors on Earth… They can do nothing for you. Except mining your authority, perhaps. That Telford… What does he know? He comes and goes. You're the one that stays here all the time."
"Who are you? How did you get in here?"
Destiny smiled. "It doesn't matter who I am. What matters is what I can do to relieve you of your burden. The question is… do you want it? Or do you have a glutton for self-punishment?"
Young frowned again, but for a second he found the suggestion of that young woman really tempting. A second in which he thought of his wife, of his life on earth, and what could've happened if Rush had never dialed that damn address.
"Just what I needed to hear. Thank you."
Young's frown deepened. Little he knew it was already too late.
Two hours later, when TJ knocked at his door to report two new cases, she found the Colonel unconscious on the chair, in the same position she had left him earlier that day.
Destiny remembers her old crew, but most of all she remembers her captain. He literally saved her life when she was considered too damaged from war to keep going. He probably recognized in her a kindred soul. Like her, Janek felt like he had nothing left to lose after losing Rani, one of her younger sisters, and so did what survived of his last crew. No one really thought their partnership could work; they proved them all wrong by becoming a living legend between the other crews and Alteran ships. And when the last great war was over, she was so close with everyone onboard that when she was destined to deep-space exploration and transformed in a scientific vessel and generational ship, they all joined the new mission and never regret, not even for an instant, their decision to leave their newfound home galaxy. She would've done everything for them.
Destiny wonders what they would think of her now. She watches the ship doctor tend to the people she visited in their sleep, struggling to find a solution, a cure, anything that could help them wake up. She doesn't seem to suspect what – who – is behind this situation. She's not surprised; if they knew about her, they would've been more respectful in her regards from the start.
Destiny was the perfect match for her crew, but they're long gone. And maybe, just maybe, Destiny should've known better than trade for them part of her logic for human emotions. With human emotions come irrationality.
And more human flaws than she's willing to admit.
"Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…"
Lieutenant Scott turned immediately, and asked the tall, brown-haired girl on his bed how she got there. And most of all, why she called him that way. No one but Chloe knew about his past, and he didn't picture her as someone that would talk with others about something so personal.
"I've heard you pray, when you recorded that video message. It was a nice prayer. There are not many religious people around here… Maybe you want to hear my confession?"
"I'm not a priest."
"Oh, I know that very well. The way you look at Chloe says it all. But she's asleep now. I don't think it matters anymore, does it?"
"No. No, she's not, I've talked to her just a few minutes ago…"
Destiny shrugged and gave Scott an apologetic smile. "It doesn't take long. It never takes long. She's with her father now. Nothing ever happened to him..."
"What the hell are you talking about? Who are you?"
"That's for me to know and for you to wonder about."
"There are only eighty people on board this ship, I'll figure it out pretty fast."
"Good luck with that."
"You're going to need it more than me," he hissed.
Destiny tried to keep a straight face, but she end up laughing. "Oh, you're threatening me! That's so cute. But maybe now you want to reconsider."
"Look around you, Lieutenant."
At that point, Scott renounced to understand what was going on. He was in his quarters onboard the Destiny, and in a blink of a eye he was in the garden of a huge mansion. He could feel the sun on his face, the light breeze on his skin. In front of him, that mysterious woman was still smirking, like she knew something he ignored.
"I said," repeated Destiny, "Look around you."
Scott obeyed. He would've loved to ask that woman again who the hell she was, but she would've probably ignored him. And what he was seeing at his right made him forget all his questions and doubts for at least one second. The one second Destiny needed to lock him inside his reverie, and inside his own mind.
Chloe smiled to the soldier, and the two hug while Chloe started to explain what happened to her, that her father was alive and well, and asked him about the brown-haired woman that brought her there.
"Did she tell you who she is?"
"Ask her yourself. She's right here," Scott said, turning to look at Destiny. But Destiny was already gone, ready to visit someone else.
Two minds locked up in the same reverie.
She was improving with practice.
Destiny is unhappy. The more people she puts to sleep, the more the still awake ones become annoying and whiny. She thought that taking the Colonel and the Lieutenant out of the picture would make the chain of command fall apart, but apparently the most annoying one, the scientist blamed by everyone – including her – for bringing them there, put himself in charge of the survivors. Destiny hoped he would go to sleep, sooner or later, but apparently that nervous, crazy man doesn't feel the need to rest. She tries to get in his head during the few seconds he allows himself to relax, but she's immediately thrown out the second he regains control.
Destiny has finally found her match. That pleases her; she will keep that man for last.
There is another brilliant mind aboard ,though, someone the scientist needs more than the others.
For the moment, Destiny will settle for him.
Eli threw himself on his bed without even removing the shoes. He never thought he would actually beg for another system failure… but at least, that kind of problem he could solve. That mysterious illness that showed no symptoms and wasn't caused by any detectable virus or toxins was the only thing everybody talked about. But apart from talking, they couldn't do much more to help the sick people. TJ and the other civilians made sure the comatose people were comfortable, but the medical supplies were running out and in three days time they would run out of IV bags. People would start to get dehydrated and die.
And there was nothing they could do, beside standing there and watch them die.
Eli sighed, and closed his eyes. He just wanted to sleep for a few hours and forget everything. Maybe he would be lucky and dream of his mom…
Eli opened his eyes and stared at the girl sitting on his bed next to him.
"You're not Tricia Helfer. Weird…"
Destiny raised an eyebrow. "Who?"
"Well, see, usually there's this hot girl in your place... Not that you're not hot, I mean, you totally are… Oh God, did I just said that aloud?"
"So you know you're dreaming. I'm impressed."
"Do I know you? I don't dream of people I don't know, or I've never seen before."
"You never met me. But this is also a very strange dream," said Destiny with a smile.
"Are you my subconscious talking? Cause that would be really cool."
Destiny suppressed a laugh. She touched her lips briefly, almost surprised by her reaction. Why she couldn't just go ahead and do to that child what she did to the others?
"Nope. Other theories?"
"My own personal Head!Six."
"Red is not my color," replied Destiny, after Eli explained her what was an Head!Six.
"Alien life form accidentally taken onboard from the lime planet?"
"No, it just stayed there."
"What? There was a real, honest-to-God alien there and I missed it? Damn!"
Eli let his defenses down, and in that moment Destiny could see clearly in his head… He longed to see his mother and his home again, like the others. But he also knew that was the trip of a lifetime. No one onboard was that positive about their future; Eli, on the other hand, really thought they could make it. And he thought Destiny was a really cool ship. A little old, but definitely cool.
"Did Rush have any idea about the position of the bridge, or how to access the core systems?"
Now was Eli's turn to look surprised. "Why are we talking about him in my dream?"
"Get up, Eli, I have to show you something before I change my mind," she said, getting up from the bed and walking to the door. Eli sat on the bed and gave her a dubious look.
"What are you? For real?"
"I'd like you to keep using 'Who', if you don't mind. I stopped considering myself a thing many thousands of years ago."
"W-Wait. Just wait a tiny, little second. What did you just say?"
"Oh, come on. You can believe I'm a figment of your subconscious, or an alien, but you can't believe this? I'm disappointed, Eli."
Eli got up and moved a few steps towards the brown-haired girl of his dream. She was waiting for him to say it, he knew that. But all things considered… he was on a ship several billion light years from home, he set foot on an alien planet, and he saw with his own eyes that very ship flying into a gas giant's atmosphere and then into a sun to recharge its batteries. Right, wrong pronoun. Her batteries.
Destiny smiled again and bowed her head.
"You're the artificial intelligence controlling the ship."
"And you're talking to me because…?"
"Because I changed my mind about you. You want to be here. A part of you does, anyway. The others just wanted to go away… I merely granted their wishes."
"Sorry… did you just say all those people are not sick? It's been you all the time?"
"I didn't want them here as much as they did."
"But they're gonna die! You must let them go, now!"
"They're not my crew."
"Ok. Right. Fair point, Destiny. But we can become your crew. Give us a chance. I get it, you've been on your own for a really looooong time, but now we're here too. Maybe we didn't give you a great first impression, but we're not that bad. I mean, you're talking to me right now…"
"Actually… you're currently sleepwalking."
"I'm trying to keep you all in one piece here, Eli. That doesn't help. Besides, I can't interact with people when they're completely awake. It's a compromise."
"Ok. Compromise. Compromise is good. Where are we going?"
"Wait and see."
"Just to clarify… Don't think I've forgotten about the coma thing."
"I don't expect you to."
"Good. Then… Let's go."
Destiny should've known better than give it to her curiosity. Talking with Eli is changing her perspective, and she's starting to feel… guilty. Eli seems sure that's because she has been alone for all those years and she forgot what's like to be around real people. He's probably right.
Eli cannot be silenced; he's asking her a million things all at once, and Destiny enjoys the attention while answering the best she can to all his questions. He doesn't know that all the people she's already visited are waking up as she speaks, but he will when he wakes up, too.
Eli's face when they finally get inside the bridge cannot be described. He's completely in awe in front of everything, but when he asks her how to change the ship's course and go back to Earth, Destiny doesn't reply. It's not the mission, and they're not her crew yet.
Only time will tell.
And her time with Eli has just run out.
"Eli? Eli, wake up! Are you alright?"
Eli grimaced in pain and brought one hand to the back of his head. Just then he realized he was lying flat on his back, and the voice he was hearing belonged to TJ.
"My head is killing me but I'm fine, yes. I think. Ouch."
Eli's grimace was enough of an answer for the paramedic; TJ made him sit against one of the walls and checked his pupils and head, looking for sign of a concussion.
"What are you doing here? I thought you were in your quarters."
Eli gave a look around, felling slightly confused. Then, a second after, he remembered his dream. And a certain brown-haired girl that promised to do something for him.
"How are the others?" he asked.
Eli looked at the young woman; in the little time he'd known her, TJ never looked that relieved or happy as she was looking in that moment.
"They all woke up by themselves half an hour ago. They're all fine. No one could give me an explanation about what happened, though… Guess we'll never know. And hopefully, it won't happen again."
"Nah, she likes us now. Sort of."
"What are you talking about, Eli?"
"Destiny. That was her doing," he said, getting back on his feet. "Destiny wanted to give us a lesson because she didn't like us, but now she changed her mind. She showed me the ship!"
TJ decided not to say anything; everyone reported to have experienced weird, vivid dreams while they were unconscious. Even Rush, but his was more a case of hallucination than a real dream.
"You must've really had a very interesting dream, Eli… But it's hardly possible. Destiny might be a very advanced ship, but… it's just a ship."
"And I've watched too much sci-fi," said Eli, finishing TJ's thought. "Well, thanks for the reality check, TJ."
"Anytime. Do you need help to go back to your room?"
"Nah, I'm fine. Thanks for the help."
TJ nodded and disappeared behind a corner. Eli watched in that direction for a second, then he started walking towards his quarters. He just wanted to lie down and make the pain stop.
Eli threw himself on his bed, ignoring the weird déjà-vu feeling that just came to him, and he was finally ready to rest for a few hours when he felt a piece of paper cracking in his pocket. He read the few words and numbers he scribbled on it during his 'dream'– or better yet, Destiny made him scribble on it while he was under her control – and two seconds later he was already out of there, looking for Rush.
That was bound to become a very good day.