Mallory was reviewing old surveillance footage when she saw it. She almost missed it, was half asleep.
Was that Joon?
There he was, in Ops. A couple weeks ago. Middle of the night. He strode in with purpose and none of the night staff paid any attention. Made some adjustments at a control board, walked over and took some readings on a tablet next to the Gate.
Attached an object, where no one would see. Returned to the panel, adjusted some dials, went back to retrieve his device. An alarm telltale went off but he deactivated it before anyone noticed. Took a look around and exited.
Mallory about spilled her coffee.
Stella looked up at the immense tank. Deep in the bowels of Sanctuary, where few had access. Even Mallory had never been here. The thing within thrashed weakly in its holding fluid. Was it awake? Sentient even, or just a bug? A Chaos tadpole, or so Hillier had named it. If it was a tadpole, what would it... become?
She seemed to remember that tadpoles changed into frogs or something. But they changed. She looked closer. This thing had what looked like multiple eyes. Otherwise it was all slime and head and tail. It was immense, as well. She had no idea where it came from. It preceded her time here. Supposedly the holding fluid kept it in stasis, prevented it from growing. But how did they know?
Stella rubbed her eyes. She was fatigued. They'd been running for days with barely any sleep. Hillier worried her. And Grant was taking a much greater interest in the goings-on here than had previously been the case.
Joon had gone from being a trusted but lower level member of Command to being her go-to time traveler. Funny the difference a few weeks could make. Who could she trust though? Maia had stepped up, but what did they truly know of her? She made a note to look deeper into Maia's background. She hadn't gotten where she was by not being informed.
Would Hillier betray Joon? Could they trust her? Probably should have slapped an inhibitor collar back on her, and fuck what Joon thought. Was she getting weak, she wondered?
There was movement in the tank. Not unusual, but eerie. Thrashing. Stella had the distinct impression it was watching her. She felt a stirring in her mind. Nerves, surely. There were few other people here, a few technicians to monitor the tadpole, and a few guards. The chambers here were immense and cold. Shadows. The barely discernible hum of equipment.
Stella turned and left. She was thinking of people in the past, sent back to a place and time where there were no people. Where people were unnatural.
Behind her the thing in the holding tank thrashed.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm positive," Mallory replied. "It has to be Joon."
"And we just sent him back to eliminate the other team."
Stella raised her eyebrows.
"You may want to sit."
"Just tell me," Stella snapped.
Mallory took a drink of her coffee.
"I did some digging, asked the computer to cross reference..."
Stella was getting impatient.
"Alright, here's what I found. There was a point a week and a half ago where Joon was in his quarters. But he was also in Ops."
Stella looked up.
"Right. And... he came out of the Gate before that and went back through afterward. How no one noticed this is mindboggling."
"He may have picked slow periods..."
"He did. And with the artifact retrieval forays we've been doing, I think it was a no big deal reaction for anyone who did notice."
"So we have our saboteur."
"But we don't know why."
"We could ask him... if he returns."