Recap: Eric and Anna are part of a team charged with surveying and evaluating the world gates that are scattered throughout known space. However, not everyone agrees with their mission, and after a disastrous encounter on Tantalus IV, the two find themselves on the run. After being separated for a time, they are now back together- but have just been captured by a strike team sent to take them down. This isn't any strike team though- it's headed by a man named Andreas, who happens to have a history with Eric. A history neither wants to talk about...
Eric was thinking about what Andreas had said. If their reception at home was going to be as rough as Andreas said, he had to wonder what had happened. Was Moira outed? She had been very particular about staying quiet, not being in the spotlight, but she was their ace in the hole- and if Andreas had found them, then someone had been compromised. Just the fact that it was Andreas who had been sent after them gave him pause. Who knew about their history? Had Tantalus been a set-up?
He was still mulling this over, while keeping an eye on Andreas' men at the control board, when he heard shouting down the hall. Then gunshots. Two, three, four. What the...? He tried to get up, cursing the flex cuffs that kept his hands out of commission, while Riggs and Taylor bolted for the door. Riggs yelled at Taylor to watch the prisoners while he flew out of the room, only to return almost immediately with Andreas right behind him. Andreas was armed and not happy. There was blood on his tunic and scratches on his face, and Gillian was with him, the female trooper, with her pulse rifle at the ready.
Andreas came right up to Eric and backhanded him across the face, sending him sprawling against the table. Anna jumped up and lunged forward, but Taylor grabbed her collar and hauled her back down again. The atmosphere had turned dangerous.
"What-exactly- is on this planet, Eric?" Andreas asked through gritted teeth. "I've just lost a man- another one- thanks to you, and I want answers. Now."
"And I already told you- I don't know. You can try to beat it out of me, but I do not know. Okay?"
Andreas looked like he was going to hit him again- clearly he wanted to- but he turned to Riggs.
"Where are we with the jump? This just turned into a priority evac."
"We need a few minutes. Thirty, maybe, at least. You know how long it takes. We just started before you left."
"Fuck that, we need to get out. Get on it." As Riggs and Taylor went back to work Andreas sat down next to Eric, looking suddenly tired. He placed his pistol down next to him and for a moment Eric considered going for it, but now was not the time. Gillian was watching them closely anyway.
"What happened, Andreas?"
"Russell. He's gone. Never seen anything like it. I got to the medbay and he had his gun somehow, was beating Garcia with it. Blood everywhere. Took four shots to take him down, and he still got close." He dabbed at the scratches on his face, came away bloody. "Fucking better not be spread through contact."
"You need stitches," Anna told him.
"Yeah." He wiped the dripping blood on his sleeve. "Listen, this isn't funny anymore. Do either of you know anything at all about this?"
Eric and Anna just looked at him.
"All right. Well I don't know what those technicians were doing, if they unleashed something or what, but not only do we have to get out of here, we don't even know if we're carrying something. By rights we shouldn't just gate home with a possible pathogen among us."
Eric nodded, he'd been thinking the same thing. "So what do you suggest?"
"I don't know. The medbay has decent facilities, we could scan all of us and see if anything shows up. Start with Russell- what's left of him- for a baseline. It will take a while though. I'm not sure I want to stick around that long." He paused. "Did either of you go and see what the fuck happened to that tech on the ramp?"
"No. We stayed out of there, and didn't have time to do much before you lovely people showed up."
"We kind of assumed the other guy was down there further," Eric added. "Think they're related?"
"What do you think?" Andreas asked sarcastically. "No, I'm sure it's all just a coincidence. That's what you keep telling me, right?"
"Cut the shit. This affects us too. The only reason we were in that ruin was to look for the techs- that, and the fact that the alarms went off, announcing your arrival. Forgive me if I didn't want to wait around for your welcome committee."
Andreas just waved his hand- he was tired of arguing. "Regardless, we're all in this now. Right or wrong, any of us could be carrying... whatever... and any of us could go like Russell did at any time. I would say that calls for a truce. Agreed?"
"Sure," said Eric. "Let's get these cuffs off and we'll get to work."
"Fuck you Eric," Andreas said with a smile. "We'll see what you have to offer before we take that step. Nice try though."
"Sir," Riggs cut in. "Twenty minutes, roughly."
"Have you considered..." Anna asked slowly. "If maybe we should know what we're dealing with, before we go blindly back home? Infected?"
Andreas looked at her measuringly. "Are you suggesting...?"
"Maybe we should find out what happened to the techs... and your man."
"Well, you and Eric happened to three of my men," he replied dryly. He held up his hand as she was about to protest. "Yes, I know I had something to do with it. Enough. Are you suggesting we go back there?"
"Well, it wouldn't be my first choice of things to do. But... we do kind of owe it to these guys, don't we? And your man?"
Eric hid a smile. This was a turnabout- he remembered a similar conversation not long ago, and Anna arguing for them to gate out. Where was this coming from?
"We don't owe the techs shit," Andreas rubbed his eyes. "Not our thing. But..."
"Sir," Riggs called over.
"What is it?" Andreas snapped.
"Taylor doesn't look so good, sir."