10.

Everyone in the mess hall stilled for a moment when Destiny left FTL. Chloe swallowed the slight feeling of nausea that change always caused. The lights flickered for a second, a sign that the 'Gate had started dialing and was drawing energy from their resources.

"Miss Armstrong," the voice of a man said and she looked at Airman Jennings who was handing her a bowl, smiling.

"Thanks," she said.

"Hey, I hear everyone's glad that Wallace was found," Jennings said, preparing another bowl for the next person in line.

"Yeah," Chloe answered with a smile.

"How is he?"

Chloe stirred her soup – not really in the mood for it. It tasted like paper and it was grainy like oatmeal. Chloe hated oatmeal. "He's fine. Resting."

"Do we know who did it?"

Chloe shook her head. "Not yet." She smiled. "I hope Eli will be able to tell us."

"Yeah. I think so, too."

xxx

"What have we got?" Everett asked, nodding at Camile who was standing next to Franklin and Brody, looking at the open 'Gate. Green and Rivers were holding their weapons at the ready.

Brody nodded at Everett. "Destiny stops regularly at planets where we can find food. It's the only resource she can't measure by herself like water or energy. We have a tropical world, high temperatures …"

Dr. Franklin looked at the Kino remote control in his hand. "A jungle. There's a river next to the 'Gate. Something that looks like fruit."

Everett looked at the clock. "We should go there. How long do we have?"

"Thirty-two hours."

"Good. Close the 'Gate. I'll assemble a team."

"Colonel Young." Rush hurried into the 'Gate room, his laptop under his arm.

"Dr. Rush?"

"Eli identified him."

xxx

Matt looked at Ronald and activated his radio. "Is that for sure, sir?"

"It is, Lieutenant. Is there a problem?"

Ronald checked his weapon and Matt pulled a face. "Just don't wanna grab the wrong guy, Colonel." He switched back to the channel every radio was tuned to and put it into his vest. "We arrest Jennings," he said to Ronald.

Ron smiled cynically. "My pleasure."

When they approached the mess, they saw Airman Jennings leave and walk down the corridor. Matt was glad that the arrest wouldn't be in front of everyone now. "Airman Jennings," he said. Jennings turned around to them. He seemed to be surprised, but then Matt recognized mistrust on his face. "The Colonel would like to talk to you." Before he could finish that sentence, Jennings had taken off.

"Damn!" Ronald cursed and readied his weapon.

"Don't! Ricochets," Matt warned him before running after Jennings. He grabbed his radio. "Colonel, he's running."

xxx

Chloe turned the music on her iPod up a notch. When she passed the 'Gate room she saw Young and Rush standing with their heads together, talking heatedly. She was just thinking about going closer and eavesdropping, when she heard fast footfalls behind her, loud enough to penetrate the music. Before she could turn around, she was grabbed. One arm looped around her shoulders, pressing her back against a man. The iPod hit the floor and something cold was pressed against her head. Chloe swallowed a cry, instead she kicked out behind her. The man cursed and hit her with the gun, smashing the butt against her temple. Chloe felt dizzy for a moment. When the world stopped turning, Matt and Greer were standing there, their weapons pointed at her attacker.

"Fucking hell!" Greer said.

Chloe strained against the grip of the man behind her. His hand grabbed her neck and squeezed against her windpipe. "Don't move."

She froze.

"Stay calm."

Matt said, "Airman Jennings, drop your weapon."

Chloe could hear his voice tremble. That alone let her drown in panic again. Jennings was walking backwards towards the 'Gate room now. Suddenly, he pointed his weapon at the two soldiers and shot. Chloe jumped, was turned around and found herself standing in the 'Gate room now, the gun pointed at her head again. She didn't know who looked more surprised – Young or Rush. But Young overcame his shock quickly and took a step forwards, stepping in front of Rush and raising his hands. "Airman-"

"Shut up!" Jennings screamed. He pointed his weapon at Dr. Franklin who was standing with his hands raised next to Brody at one of the control interfaces. Jennings was standing with his back to the Gate and he could see every door leading into the room. "Close the doors." Matt and Greer entered the 'Gate room, their guns pointed at Jennings, and when Young nodded towards Franklin and Brody, they came to stand in front of them protectively. "Do it now!" Jennings shouted. Franklin obeyed with trembling hands. Chloe was staring at Matt, tears in her eyes. "I'll shoot her …," Jennings said.

"No. C'mon, Airman," Young tried to reason with him.

"Open the 'Gate."

"Where are you gonna go? To the planet? Alone?" Young asked. Jennings seemed to hesitate. Young stepped a bit closer. "C'mon, Airman, we'll find a solution."

"Solution?" Jennings asked in disbelief and Chloe thought that she could hear a hint of hysteria in his voice. "As if you'd just forget what I did."

"You hurt someone and you stole. I don't think you wanna add murder to that list, Airman."

"You'll lock me up."

Young didn't seem to know how to answer that. Chloe felt Jennings tremble. She bit her lip, feeling more scared by the minute.

"I didn't want it to happen!" Jennings screamed. He whispered, "I panicked."

Rush asked, "Because Eli caught you with your hand in the cookie jar?"

"That idiot! He had no reason to be there. Nobody should have been there at this time of the day."

Rush raised his eyebrows. "That doesn't make your actions right."

"Rush," Young warned.

Jennings pushed the gun harder against Chloe's head. "Dial the 'Gate."

Young shook his head, but Rush said, "Dr. Franklin, do as he says."

Young's still raised hands balled to fists. "Rush, what the hell?"

"There's only one solution for this situation, Colonel. If he wants to leave, we should let him. Just as long as Miss Armstrong stays right here."

Looking back over his shoulder, Young seemed to find something in Rush's expression and nodded at Franklin. The 'Gate started dialing. Chloe felt Jennings relax a bit.

Rush stepped next to Young. "You're standing too close to the 'Gate."

Jennings tensed. Young glanced at Rush warningly. "Doctor-"

"He's standing too close to the 'Gate," Rush repeated.

Young looked at Jennings. "Step away from the 'Gate, Airman."

Jennings closed his hand tighter around Chloe's throat. "I'm not stupid enough to fall for that. If I do that, they …" He nodded at Matt and Greer. "… will be able to grab me."

Rush snorted. "That's not a trick. You're standing too close to the 'Gate. When it opens, you'll be dead." Determined, Rush stared at Jennings. "That's the truth."

Chloe tried to get away but Jennings held on to her. If he was standing too close to the 'Gate, then she was, too. She fought against his grip.

"Stop it!" Jennings screamed. Chloe tried to turn away, a shot rang out and Jennings let go of her.

Matt shouted, "Chloe, duck!" She fell to the ground, saw Jennings stumble backwards – there was blood on his chest. The 'Gate opened and Chloe pressed her body to the floor, her hands protecting her head. Heat caressed her back and she cried out softly, then it was over. "Chloe." Matt's hands pulled her up from the floor and into his arms.

She stared at the 'Gate and the open event horizon bathing the room in a peaceful shimmering. Jennings seemed to be gone. She clung closer to Matt. "Is he …" She saw Young and Rush staring at the 'Gate, then Young turning away.

Rush said, "I don't think he wanted to survive, Colonel. Everybody on Icarus knew the dangers of an opening wormhole."

Young turned to Chloe. "Are you okay?"

She nodded. Matt's hand caressed her back and she flinched. "TJ should take a look," he said and helped her stand up. Franklin and Brody were still standing at the control interfaces.

Greer tucked his Beretta away. "Good thing you turned away, Miss. I wouldn't have been able to shoot him otherwise."

Chloe didn't know if she should be glad about that.

xxx

"Wow!" Eli said, looking around his quarters. "Somebody cleaned up."

Nicholas smiled. "I think Miss Armstrong's responsible for that."

Carefully, Eli sat on the bed and leaned back against the wall. "I won't be able to find anything in here."

"Well, you have two days to revert the room to its usual condition," Nicholas said, grimacing.

"And that won't be enough time," Eli answered with a grin.

Nicholas picked up Eli's laptop and handed it over. "Dr. Park and Dr. Volker took the liberty to copy the Kino footage of the last few days onto your hard drive. For the documentary."

"At least I won't get bored," Eli said and gave Johansen, who was just entering his quarters, a pointed look.

"You're going to take it easy and stay in bed," she said. "Two days." She handed him two canteens. "I want those two be empty by this evening, understood? I'm not happy with your fluid intake."

He rolled his eyes. "Yes, ma'am."

"I'm serious. You eat here, you sleep here." She looked at Nicholas. "And you won't work for longer than three hours at a time." Her eyes caught Eli's again. "Take breaks. Chloe will see to it that you get your meals." She smiled. "I'll be back later." With that, she left.

"Just for a minute there, she sounded like my mom," Eli said.

"Yes," Nicholas said, remembering Johansen's words to him after his nervous breakdown, "sometimes." He dragged his thoughts back to the present. "You should listen to her. The sooner you feel better, the sooner you can return to work and help me find the master code."

"Do you miss me?" Eli asked with a smile.

Nicholas pulled a face. "Dr. Volker's not as good with numbers as you are." He sighed. "But at least he knows how to work without talking constantly."

"Got that hint," Eli said.

Nicholas nodded and turned to leave.

"Doc," Eli said and Nicholas stopped. "Thanks. For your help."

Nicholas crossed his arms. "You were the one who saved yourself. It was a good idea to trigger the alarm on the door."

"I mean during my stay in the infirmary. Aside from TJ and Chloe, you're really good at taking care of people."

Nicholas nodded and started to leave again, but then he thought better of it. "I nursed my wife," he explained. Eli looked at him, surprised. "Before she died," Nicholas added.

"I'm sorry," Eli said softly.

"Me too."

"I nursed my mom. When she got sick. I was fifteen when it happened the first time. My dad had just left us. Her condition was ... too much for him to take. He blamed me." He smiled sadly. "For her getting infected. He said that she didn't pay attention to what she was doing because school called her at work to tell her that I had been in trouble with a few bullies. He said that that junkie managed to surprise her because she was worried about me. About my problems." He stopped. "I know that that's not true."

Nicholas nodded. "Doesn't change the fact that we sometimes think it's true after all."

xxx

"You didn't want to do it yourself because you're a coward!" Young's words hung in the air and silenced Rush at once. Eli pulled up his shoulders and glanced at Matt who was standing near him with his lips pressed together.

Camile looked at Young then Rush and back again. "Stop it, both of you! I authorized it, so it's my responsibility."

Young glanced at her coldly. "I know."

Eli sighed and looked at Franklin's motionless body. He'd never thought that it would come to this. The last few days had been a nightmare. Spencer's death and Young having to take the blame, the court ... too much had happened, and the abyss between Young and Rush was only growing. The momentary peace had been destroyed and Eli tried to ignore the dread settling in the pit of his stomach.

The feeling that the fight between Young and Rush would take a turn for the worse.

END

03/10