Eli: "Uh, what are we so happy about?"
Rush: "We're gonna live, Eli."
Eli: "What about the turbulence and the heat and the death?"
Rush: "No. All of that would have happened by now. The shield is protecting us."
Chloe: "But you said we were out of power."
Rush: "I was absolutely certain of that, and I have never been more pleased to be wrong in all my life."
- SGU 1.5 "Light"
They were less than three days away from the heart of the universe. Every data fragment on the subject in Destiny's database pointed to this spot as the origin of whatever structure existed before time as we currently know it began.
Only three days away from the answers they'd waited so long for, had sacrificed so much for, and here they were hanging in space like a misplaced Christmas ornament.
"Are you telling me we're stuck here?" Young asked, his eyes scanning the bridge to assess the mood of his crew.
"Not 'stuck' exactly" Park replied helpfully, "I mean we could move if we wanted to, it's just that it isn't a good idea."
"Because of the 'Phantom Menace'?" Young
"Weeell we haven't officially decided on the name yet" Eli said, looking downcast that his suggested name for the flaming object that had nearly ripped through Destiny minutes earlier, only to disappear from their scanners like it had never even been there in the first place, hadn't been met with the enthusiasm he'd hoped for.
"We're really not even sure what it was", Volker said, "My first guess was that it was some kind of comet."
"It wasn't a comet," Rush said, "I think it was our second warning."
"Our second warning?" Eli repeated.
"The first was the message we received some hours ago" said Rush, as he shooed Volker out of his seat and began deftly pressing buttons until the message, now sounding somewhat less like static played over Destiny's com.
Gentle sound flooded the bridge as the message played on a loop. Now that the static had been removed the non-randomness of the sound astounded those who had heard it before Rush got his hands on it.
"It almost sounds like … like singing" Park said, breaking the crew's silence.
"It's not singing" Eli corrected, "It's like a hundred voices talking over each other in weird languages."
"Well it most certainly isn't a pulsar" Volker quipped.
"What is it then?" Young asked.
"It appears to be a message warning us that there is danger ahead" Rush said.
"Like a fiery comet maybe?" Brody asked, "Did it happen to mention that type of thing?"
"The message is not that specific" Rush replied.
"Well what does it say 'specifically'? Brody asked.
"Something along the lines of 'turn back or die'" Young answered.
"You understand that thing?" Eli asked, amazed.
"No of course not" Young replied, "Dr. Rush informed me of the hostile nature of the communication half an hour ago."
Eli was momentarily silenced by knowledge that Dr. Nicholas Rush had actually confided in Colonel Young willingly and before he absolutely had to. The fact the he and Young had spent the better part of twenty years alone together finally sank in.
"I wouldn't exactly call the message hostile" Rush said, "After all it did warn us of a danger, warn, not threaten. At least that's how I interpret it."
Rush and Young exchanged a look that said Young wasn't as sure of the alien's benevolence as Rush was.
"Does it really even matter?" Volker asked, "I mean if that transmission is right then its game over for us. Stay here and die slowly of hunger or suffocation…"
"Hunger first, I'd think" Rush said, "As we've just refueled we should have air long after we cease to need it."
"Or" Volker finished, "we could just turn around and start our long long LONG journey home."
"Or we could press on" Rush said.
"Press on?" Brody scoffed, "What do you have a death wish or something? That fireball was huge!"
"And now it's gone" Rush replied, "I can hardly believe a team of scientists would give up on a problem after one failed attempt."
"Well there's failure" Volker said, "and then there's the fiery failure of doom."
"Can it Volker" Young commanded.
"All I'm saying" Rush raised his voice over the growing murmurs of the bridge crew, "Is that seeing this mission through is worth taking a few risks. I think we should move forward, cautiously …and see what happens" he looked to Young silently pleading for him to take his side in this.
"It's suicide" Brody muttered.
"Perhaps" Young said, "but I can see Dr. Rush's point. We've come too far to turn back now. I say we go for it."
The bridge erupted in dissention as everybody strove to be heard. The bridge crew was clearly divided over the issue.
Rush and Young both wanted to move forward with the mission, not matter how great the risk.
The other scientists were far less enthused with that plan; Eli in particular wanted no part of fiery death.
In the end they decided to vote on it…
Five years ago…
"You suggest we vote on it?" Rush repeated, hardly believing what he was hearing. Maybe the loneliness had finally gotten the better of Young, "pfft" I knew those hugs wouldn't be enough, he thought, I should've asked him to swap out with Volker years ago, now there is a man who knows how live without physical affection for long periods.
"How many times do I have to repeat myself Rush?" Young asked, "We can't seem to resolve this issue with debate, so I suggest we do what Americans have been doing for centuries and vote on it."
"I know that! You do still vote in Scotland don't you?"
"Barely" he muttered.
"So what's the problem?"
"How exactly is that going to work Colonel? Seems to me that your little exercise in democracy could only end in a tie."
Young snapped his fingers, "By Jove I think you're right! Weeell, I guess we'll just have to wait till TJ's awake for our next round of physicals. She can break the tie."
"Oh yeah, I'm sure your girlfriend would be entirely impartial."
"Nonsense Rush, TJ's not my girlfriend, we're just colleagues."
"The woman carried your baby Colonel, I'm pretty sure that makes her your girlfriend."
"So what? Chloe had your baby and you still claim she's not your girlfriend."
"Please, let's not bring parallel universes into this discussion.*"
"Fine then. How do you suggest we settle this?"
"A general intelligence test should do nicely" Rush said.
Young rolled his eyes, "How about an arm wrestling match?"
"New York Times Crossword?" Rush countered.
"Mud wrestling?" Young asked hopefully.
"Sudoku?" Rush sighed, this was getting pathetic.
"Name that show tune?" Young offered.
They finally decided to play chess for it.
The problem was after six hours of glacial chess-play, they'd completely forgotten what they were arguing over in the first place.
"What were we fighting over back then?" Young asked, as he and Rush sat in his quarters sharing a bottle of Brody's finest as they waited for Scott to tally the results of the ship wide vote on whether or not the mission should go on.
"I believe we were fighting over who got to name the planet we'd stopped at for supplies" Rush said.
"Oh yeah" said Young, "I remember now! The planet with the purple sand beaches and those pink things growing on every tree that tasted like pepperoni… man that was a great day."
"I still say Telford wouldn't have appreciated your naming a girly looking planet like that after him".
"If that planet was so 'girly' how come you spent an entire afternoon lying in purple sand staring at the moons?"
"Because it was fascinating" Rush replied, "the sun was high in the sky and yet the moons were so bright you could see them clearly all day long."
"It was a hell of a sight alright" Young admitted, "I'd hate to be around for high tide though."
Rush actually laughed. It made Young's day.
*please see another of my stories, Father's Day for details