Author: Selena PM
William Adama goes through the looking glass. Or maybe he just needs a break. Lwaxana Troi certainly thinks so. Crossover with Star Trek: The Next Generation.Rated: Fiction T - English - W. Adama - Words: 5,969 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 2 - Published: 09-10-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3148482
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Everyone owned by Paramount and various corparations involved with Battlestar Galactica.
Timeline: set shortly after Baltar's inauguration in "Lay Down Your Burdens, II" BSG2003, post-show in TNG (during the Dominion War as described by DS9).
Originally written for the Multiverse 2006 Ficathon. The request was Commander Adama encountering any of the Star Trek verses. (Result: BSG/TNG)
Thanks to: Kathy for beta-reading
Assign himself a Viper to pilot was one of the first things Adama did after the inauguration. Everyone was still in shock and grieving for the dead of Cloud Nine or starting with the settlement, but he insisted there had to be regular patrols, to make sure there were, in fact, no Cylons tracking them.
Tigh said Adama just wanted to get a far away from it all as possible, and he wasn't wrong. Standing up for democracy was all very well, and he'd do it again, but seeing Gaius Baltar as president gutted him. Sitting in a Viper far away from anyone else, telling himself that at least was an action he knew would help protect what was left of humanity, he found reality a little easier to bear.
Naturally, that was when reality decided to roll over and spit him out.
He thought it was another peculiarity of this area of space at first, as he tried to balance the Viper and felt every decade as his body revolted against the additional gravity. Remembering how he had chewed out Kara for wanting to return to flying before her knee was healed properly, he started cursing. No fool like an old fool.
Adama wasn't an atheist; he wasn't sure whether he believed in the gods, either, despite having found Kobol, or maybe because of it. But he had always assumed that if he died, his last thoughts would be with the children, with Lee and Kara. Some kind of request to whoever was listening to watch out for them.
Instead, he thought: Oh, frak, and then unconsciousness claimed him.
Waking up from the near death Boomer had sent him to had taken Adama a long time. He remembered listening to the sounds of the Galatica's medical area, to Cottle's muttered curses and the quiet conversations between the other patients for nearly half an hour before being certain, this time, that he was awake, and life had reclaimed him. It seemed he had gone back in time. He recognized the taste of near death in his mouth, and the numb feeling of recent delirium. And someone was leaning over him.
"Do open your eyes," said the cross voice of a woman he had never heard before. "I know you're aware, and frankly, I need Mr. Homm to pilot my shuttle."
There was a low, almost subaudible hum in the background; engines of a sort, but he didn't recognize the type, and there wasn't a ship in existence William Adama had not flown with. He stopped wondering when he did open his eyes and found a man and a woman looking down on him. The man, who held what was presumably a medical probe in his hand and looked satisfied, was quite simply too tall to be human. His skin tone, his gangly form that resembled a drawing by a child more than anything else; there was only one explanation. He had to be an early prototype, some relic from the time before the Cylons had perfected the art of creating human looking models.
Adama had been captured by the enemy.
The male model turned away and left Adama's sight range, while the female continued to look down at him with crossed arms. She was unquestionably a current generation model, with no indication of her mechanical nature. They had made her look like a woman his own age, attractive though not in the immediately striking way the blonde model calling herself Shelley Godfrey had been, though her dark, elaborately styled hair looked similarly artificial. Her hands, her throat, the area around her eyes, all showed enough wrinkles to duplicate the symptoms of human age perfectly. And the eyebrows drawing together imitated the human mannerism of a frown to go along with the rest of her increasingly stormy facial expression.
"I," she said, "am Lwaxana Troi. Daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed. Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Riix. In the prime of my life. Not an android. And while I can't decide which assumption is ruder, I have a very forgiving nature. Clearly, something went wrong when we transported you out of that exploding ship of yours."
"I am too old and too tired for mind games," Adama said. "Just start with the interrogation."
Against logic, he hoped they had just found his viper, nothing else. It had been a long range patrol. He knew it wasn't likely; the planet everyone had dubbed New Caprica was already becoming the death trap he had always feared it would be.
It was the very fact he was still alive, and that the female model bothered to put up a charade that was the straw he clutched at. Why bother, if humanity was theirs already?
"Firstly," she said, "there is a long list of things I never do with strangers. Bondage scenarios definitely belong on that list. Secondly, in case you didn't get the implication the last time, I. Am. A. Betazoid. Which means I am a telepath, and really, while I'd dearly love not to read your incredibly paranoid and tiresome thoughts, you're broadcasting them right at me. What would I need to interrogate you for? And thirdly, I'm still waiting for a little gratitude. Mr. Homm took a considerable risk going anywhere near that ion storm, you know, and he did it only because I had picked up your thoughts. This is an ambassadorial shuttle, not a Starfleet ship. How hard is it to say thank you, hm? And you didn't even think it."
Suddenly, he had the awful suspicion that his original assumption was wrong after all. He hadn't been captured by the Cylons. He was dying, slowly going insane from lack of air somewhere, and hallucinating a bizarre version of Ellen Tigh. Adama narrowed his eyes and tried to focus, tried to see her as Ellen without disguise because that would at least go some way to restoring sense, and the woman's eyes widened. She reached down and slapped him. Her hand was warm and hard, and he felt the sting of it long after she had withdrawn.
"That's another thing I don't do with strangers," she said, and turned away in a rather convincing display of indignation.
After half an hour in which he was simply left to lie on what was something between a couch and a chair, no sign of the hallucination dissolving or new interrogators turning up, he cautiously decided to explore. Sitting up and taking a few steps, his impression that he was in a small space craft of unknown design was confirmed. The woman calling herself Lwaxana Troi was sitting in another chair, pointedly not looking in his direction, and the humanoid giant was at the helm, piloting. He didn't wear any kind of space suit or helm. Most disconcerting, however, was the fact they were clearly in flight, but he could not recognize any stars to make a guess to their position. In fact, it looked like the engine managed to keep them in the state one usually only remained for a few moments while using the hyperdrive, while jumping from one position to another. If the Cylons had managed to create such a different technology...
"This is becoming ridiculous," the woman said. "Look, I don't know where you are from. But in this part of the galaxy, there aren't any armies of androids running around. Certainly none who hit on humans to procreate, and thank you for that mental image, because now I'll wonder just what Mr. Data's intentions are the next time I visit my daughter on the Enterprise. After all, his thoughts are thankfully hidden. And do stop worrying about humanity getting wiped out. The last time I looked, they were all over the place, lecturing everyone from Earth to the Gamma Quadrant and back, and I should know. I was married to one. My, but you are a verbose species, and..."
Her ramblings stopped being bizarre and became the only thing that mattered the moment she said "Earth". Adama froze.
"Earth?" he repeated. "You know about Earth?"
The thirteenth colony. The refuge he had promised, trying to give everyone something to hope for, despite regarding it as a myth. The core of his bitter argument with Laura Roslin which had nearly split the fleet and what was left of humanity apart. The legend that had become real when, standing at Laura's side on Kobol, he had, for a precious moment, seen it around him.
He had not realized how much he had actually come to believe in what had once been a lie until he heard a stranger pronounce the name. Until he had to face the prospect that the Cylons knew all about that last refuge. Perhaps that had been the true reason for that strange declaration by the male model disguised as a priest. That they had given up Caprica. They had given up Caprica and its cities full of corpses because they had found the only other planet where humanity still flourished.
The horror and pain that engulfed him was so great that he had to sit down again. His eyes blurred, and he needed a moment to get his bearing back. Then he felt someone take his hands. He blinked.
Lwaxana was kneeling in front of him, clasping his fingers, her dark eyes fixed on him with an expression that mirrored compassion perfectly. Adama remembered the sadness and pain the eyes of the young woman he had known as Sharon Valerii, the one who had died on Galactica, and the challenge in the eyes of her counterpart, but right now, the memory did not provide the shielding it should have.
"I'm sorry," said Lwaxana softly. "I'm so sorry."
"Why?" he asked her, as he had asked both Sharons. It was something you can only ask an enemy; he would never have permitted himself a question like that towards any of the humans who looked to him to save them, or Saul, who needed a firm touchstone, or Lee who insisted on being lost. Laura, perhaps, but then Laura was in a category all her own, and enemy had been one of the names he had called her.
"I held the dead body of my eldest daughter in my arms, and nobody could tell me," Lwaxana said, and there was a harshness in her voice which had nothing to do with the irritation she had shown earlier. "There is no why for what life does to us"
It was then that he first considered that she might have told him nothing but the truth the entire time.
It kept him from trying to kill her, at any rate.
"I've been thinking, Bill," she said, while the shuttle entered normal space, and there were only unfamiliar stars to greet him, " - it is Bill, right, not Will? My daughter Deanna's spare beau is called Will, which would make things confusing. So, Bill, I'm sure there is a horribly convoluted explanation on how you ended up here, full of boring technological details. That is exactly what we have Starfleet for, and I have contacted the ship my daughter serves on. They specialize in that kind of thing. But until they arrive and figure out how you got here and how you can get back, you can spend a few days on my home planet and just relax. Given the non-stop agony you broadcast, you dearly need a vacation." She eyed him critically. "You need to get laid, too, but mostly, you need a vacation. I'm thinking waterfalls and later on a beach."
If this was one elaborate mind frak, he would get asked for the coordinates of New Caprica as soon as this ship she referenced arrived, not before. If he was simply going insane, it didn't matter how he reacted. If she was indeed a woman able to read minds from a part of the galaxy apparently teeming with populated planets and a fleet, Lords of Kobol, a still intact fleet, then only one reaction was appropriate, and it was about time he allowed it to happen.
"Do you have any idea of the concept of tact and silence?" Adama asked witheringly.
"I most certainly do," she replied blithely, "but you don't. You keep using the most unflattering terms and images for me, and by the way, if I were this Mrs. Tigh, I'd suspect all this hostility hails from some kind of repressed issues you have about her husband, because you really are one of the most repressed men I ever met, except for Jean-Luc - wait till I introduce you to Jean-Luc. Or maybe I shouldn't. You'd be both so manly and stoic and silent and repressed that you'd turn each other into stone. In any case, you keep insulting me, and you keep bringing up all those horrible things which happened to you, so clearly, you can't shut up."
"I hardly said a word since - "
"No," Lwaxana interrupted him, "but you thought."
"That is not the same thing," he growled.
"It is to me," Lwaxana declared and proceeded to tell him how she knew the perfect place for a picnic once they were on the planet she called Betazed. Soon, he found out how she and her humanoid servant had transported him out of his exploding Viper without any visible space suits. The procedure she called "beaming" left him slightly sick in the stomach, and more in favour of his insanity theory.
If he were a religious man, a truly religious man, the planet Betazed might have made him suspect the Gods had decided to show him a glimpse of Kobol as it had been when they still walked among mortals. A promise, or a cruel joke. But he had never learned to trust miracles, not completely. Sooner or later, there always was a price to pay.
Still, it was a bewildering sensation to breathe natural, unfiltered air again, to find himself presented with food and drink almost as soon as he had thought about feeling hungry again, to find it tasting fresh and unrecycled. To be given clothes that somehow fit after Lwaxana had looked him up and down and typed something into a machine she called a replicator. To be brought to a waterfall which was beautiful indeed, and spotting various families and couples doing what even on Cloud Nine, destroyed, annihilated Cloud Nine, would have been unthinkable because of the limited space: having a picnic.
Adama remembered the last time he had tried to do something like this, on Caprica. It should have been a gesture to prove to Caroline and the children how precious they were to him, lack of time notwithstanding, but instead Zak had fallen from a tree and broken his arm and Lee had gotten sick and thrown up, and Caroline had glared at him as if to say this had been entirely his fault.
He would have given so much to relive that day again, in all its imperfections. But that tree Zak had fallen from must have burned like a cinder in the fire that had consumed a world, and his younger boy was dead and gone, just like his mother, who had left even before death had taken her.
"Have some synthehol," Lwaxana said, and nothing else. He remembered what she had said about one of her daughters dying, and how it had made her real and believable for a moment, with her eyes showing the same hollow wound he found in the mirror even now, every day. Surely a Cylon would not, could not understand what it meant to lose -
"You killed my baby," screamed the voice of the other Sharon in his mind, and he focused on the present, real or delusionary, with a vengeance.
"Your world is at peace then," he asked, allowing himself to believe just a little bit more for the sake of distraction, "all your worlds?"
"Well," Lwaxana said, and for the first time showed symptoms of downright uneasiness. "Well. Not at the moment. In a manner of speaking. As Betazed is a member of the Federation, and the Federation is now at war - " she pronounced the word with extreme distaste - "with the Dominion. But our planet itself, as you can see - " she made a wide, engulfing gesture with her arms - "yes. Thankfully. We're not a part of the war effort, we don't even have our own fleet. If you ask me, the whole problem with the Dominion was that they sent the wrong people to negotiate. Starfleet Captains, male Starfleet Captains. Naturally, it became all about territory and pissing contests. Clearly, the situation needed a woman's touch. You see, I happen to know a shapeshifter - did I mention they are the leading race of the Dominion? No? Well, they are - I happen to know him very well. I even was married to him, briefly. He's a darling. But when we met, he was growly and if anything even more repressed than Jean-Luc. I imagine they're all like that. Now I did volunteer, and you know, I actually Iam/I an Ambassador, but did anyone at Starfleet Command listen? No. They're both sexist and speciest, and that's the truth. And now we're at war."
After a pause in which he felt overwhelming compassion for whoever had to deal with her at Starfleet Command, if such a thing existed, she added: "And my only living child is serving on the flagship of the Fleet."
Adama didn't say anything. He just regarded the waterfalls, the cascades thundering down, and thought about Lee on Pegasus. At least now Lee would have the chance to drink natural water again, once he had resupplied Pegasus from New Caprica. For however long New Caprica would last. He thought of Lee, and of the many ways to lose a living child, and after a while, he found his hand was covering hers in the grass.
The assumption of the reality of his situation became less and less avoidable. He did, however, keep the knife form the picknick basket. Letting it vanish into his sleeve was very easy. It just would not do to be unarmed. Of course, if Centurions did show up, it would be utterly pointless, but the flesh of the new models was as vulnerable and pumped with blood as any humans. Almost. The image of Sharon plugging communication cables into her arm came to mind, ordering all those raiders to destroy themselves.
Any illusion had to betray itself sooner or later and remind you of its artificiality.
Artificiality seemed to be Lwaxana's passion. After the picnic, she insisted on changing clothes and, as it turned out, wigs, becoming a tawny blonde with an equally elaborate hairstyle in a red dress that looked as if it was made of velvet. All this, as it turned out, as preparation to go to a beach where, she announced, they would swim.
It did occur to Adama that he could test what she claimed to be real by just leaving. There was ostensibly nothing she could do to stop him, and she had no reason to, if he was her guest as opposed to her prisoner, simply a man she had rescued from an exploding Viper. Presumably, he could find some method of transport off planet, if this was indeed a planet belonging to a vast interstellar Alliance. But what then? He had not recognized any of the constellations before they landed, which meant he could not find his way back to New Caprica on his own. Maybe he could go to Earth, which she claimed was the Federation's central planet. The irony nearly made him choke; he, who had not believed in Earth when he pronounced it humanity's last haven, would see it now that humanity had given up on it.
But if she did speak the truth, then staying made equal sense. If she spoke the truth, that ship her daughter served on would come, though he did not quite comprehend how this should be possible in the middle of a war. ("Bah," Lwaxana had said, "it's not that long a trip, and they can do without the Enterprise at least for two days or so"; her eyes had gleamed in satisfaction, and he suspected it might be because that meant two days of her daughter not involved in any fighting, a tactic he could not approve of, but understood. He would get an explanation and hopefully a way back; the idea of never seeing anyone he knew ever again, of leaving humanity in Baltar's less than trustworthy hands without being there to check and balance was something he refused to contemplate at all.
So he remained with Lwaxana Troi, and tried to make the best of the situation. Which meant a picnic, meant letting her talk and, apparantly, go with her to a beach. When he breathed in salt and some unfamiliar mineral in the breeze coming from the sea, he acknowledged to himself there might even be something in her orginal diagnosis of needing a time to unwind. He would have ordered it for any of his people who had served as long.
"Of course I'm right," Lwaxana said. "If more people admitted it, the universe would be far better off. Now, be a dear and help me out of this dress."
"No," she said impatiently, "I'm not going to ravish you. Have you ever made love on a beach? I have, and I can tell you, the sand gets everywhere. Very uncomfortable. Unless you're in a holosuite, but in that case, you're really lying on steel, and probably end up with a cold. But we're here to swim, and you don't expect me to spoil my dress by dragging it to the water, do you?"
He could not help himself. He had to ask. "So you changed your dress just for the brief walk...?"
"Because I have a sense of style, and because its fun," Lwaxana replied while unlacing her dress in the most casual manner possible. "You could do with both. You know, I could see you as a pirate. Did I mention I once was kidnapped by a Ferengi pirate? Disgusting little troll. But he was madly in love with me, and he had some beautiful textiles lying about on his ship, so he wasn't completely hopeless. You, of course, would make a dashing pirate, if we dress you in black and, hm... maybe a moustache to cover up some of these big pores? Now, Bill, don't just stand there and stare at me, get undressed yourself. I'm certainly not going to help you."
Truly, she couldn't be a Cylon. No Cylon could be as irritating. She made him remember just why he had been so glad to turn his back on civilian life and return to the fleet after that period of exile during which he had met Saul. They might have a few things in common, and there was the odd moment when he was grateful for her presence, but all in all, he still suspected a cruel joke by the Gods. And yet he found himself getting out of the pants and shirt she had given him earlier. Feeling the warm sand under his feet was good. Walking towards the ocean, cool water awaiting, was even better.
"Come on," she called, having raced ahead of him, completely unembarrassed by being nude. Swimming. The sheer luxury of swimming was incredible, and for a while, he let himself float, soaking up the sensation of being surrounded by nothing but water and free of the demands and burdens of gravity. Then he started to swim in earnest, and found something unclenching which had been tight and coiled for a long, long time.
Well, Doc Cottle had warned him he needed more exercise.
By the time he got out of the water, Lwaxana was on the beach again, wig restored, though not her dress, lying on a towel. She smiled at him.
"Thank you," he said, and meant it. Infuriating as she was, that had been a good experience to have, and William Adama believed in courtesy.
"You're welcome, Bill," she said. "Does that mean you'll also let me take you to the Charian ball tonight? I hadn't planned on going at first. After all, I did just return to the planet, so they don't really expect me. But now I have an escort, and unless you can't dance..."
"I can," he said, almost amused, and then remembered Laura Roslin and the inauguration of the Vice President, almost two years ago. Of Baltar. He remembered dancing with Laura, he remembered seeing Lee dance with Kara, and something of the salt in the water burned in his eyes. He wished for his glasses. Lacking them, he turned and looked towards the horizon, expecting the sensation to be gone soon.
There were tiny dark dots appearing, and he felt a chill. "Didn't you say," he remarked, while kneeling down to pick up his clothes and the knife he had hidden in his sleeve, "your planet did not have a fleet of its own?"
Lwaxana frowned. "We don't."
The tiny black dots grew larger. And multiplied.
"So this is it," Adama said. "The end of the masquerade. What was the point?"
"Bill, you idiot," she said, and there was a note of panic creeping into her voice, "for the last time. I'm not an android, and we don't have - "
She grabbed her dress and pulled it over her head as well.
"It can't be," she said. "It can't. No."
There were the tell tale tiny flickers of ships firing within planetary atmosphere. But they weren't firing anywhere near the beach. Adama turned around, full circle, and in three directions, he spotted similar signs. And more black dots on the horizon.
This must be what Caroline felt, he thought. What any of them felt, when the Cylons came to Caprica, and we failed to protect them.
"The Dominion," Lwaxana whispered. "They're here. On Betazed."
He felt the knife in his hand, still hidden, looked at her wide eyes, seeking the horizon, and realized she knew about the ridiculous weapon he had equipped himself with, had known all the time, and did not care. Of course. She Iwas/I a telepath.
She was a woman whose planet was getting invaded, or this was the most elaborate pointless mindfrak of all time. Adama made his decision and threw the knife away.
"Are there really no planetary defenses?"
"No," she said. "We're a core planet. We're so far from the front lines. We're - safe..."
She swallowed. "Maybe there aren't any front lines anymore. Maybe Deanna..."
Making a step towards her, Adama put his hands on her shoulders. "Lwaxana," he said, "your daughter is well. Wherever that ship of hers is, it has to a lot safer than this planet; it is prepared and armed."
She bit her lips, then nodded. "Well," she said, voice seeking for a semblance of calm, "maybe I will get to negotiate with the Dominion after all."
Her shoulders beneath his hands shook. Adama, who had guided so many young recruits to their first encounter with warfare, recognized the symptoms.
"Look at me," he said. "Look at me." Then, slowly, pronouncing each word very clearly, he added: "They don't stand a chance."
The corners of her mouth twitched, and then she laughed. It wasn't without hysteria, but it was short, and her body grew still after.
"Liar," she said without rancour, then took a breath. "Bill, I must contact my government. Ask whether there is anything I can do. But I expect... I expect there is nothing but surrender. At least for now."
Surrender had not saved Caprica or any of the other eleven colonies, which was a point he did not make. Instead, he offered her his arm, and they walked back to her house, the sand suddenly very heavy on their feet.
He was a man of action. He always had been. Fleeing, as Laura Roslin had told him to do, had been one of the hardest decisions of his life. But he had been aware then, as he was now, that it had saved what people were left to save. Still, there had not been a day when he had not thought about what the few survivors on the colonies must have felt, surrounded by corpses, and left by their only defenders. Knowing that their life, too, would end very soon.
Perhaps that was why he was here. He had not been able to be on Caprica, but he was here now, on a planet with skies darkening, with a woman who had no way of defending herself save a sharp tongue.
"Oh, nonsense," said Lwaxana. "This isn't all about you, Bill. And I'll have you know that a Daughter of the Fifth House is no one's damsel in distress. But I will admit I'm still glad you are here." There was a distinct twinkle in her eyes now.
"After all, I still have to ravish you, don't I? Or you would be too disappointed for a telepath to bear."
For the first time in months, he could not help himself. A gurgle burst from his throat, and he needed a second or two to recognize it as helpless laughter. Lwaxana raised a brow, and then she grinned as well. It was a flood breaking free now, laugh after laugh, and if there was a sob in between, he could not stop that, either. In an imitation of his earlier gesture, she put her hands on his shoulders, and he held her while the sky reigned fire, laughter and tears unreigned.
Lwaxana's servant came running towards them from her house, and she turned around. "Ah," she said. "Are you sure, Mr. Homm?" The man nodded.
"My presence has been requested," Lwaxana told him. "In the capital. I'm sorry, you'll have to stay here, they just want Betazoid representatives with diplomatic experience."
"It is surrender then," he said, and she nodded.
"Keep your planet safe," he said, and would have said more, but her form next to him began to blur, then faded into energy. There was a strange sensation in his head, as if he did and did not hear her voice, telling him something, but he could not understand what it was. When the last trace of her had gone, he and Mr. Homm looked at each other.
"Well," Adama said, "I don't suppose your shuttle is still available?"
It was a civilian shuttle, and he had only a very vague idea how to fly it, based on his observations of Mr. Homm on the way to Betazed. There were no weapons he could use to fight anyone. But he remembered Boomer - Sharon, dead Sharon, Sharon the desperate, Sharon the betrayer - using her Raptor to save what civilians from Caprica she could, and given this vehicle even had this miraculous "beaming" ability, Adama saw no reason not to do the same for various inhabitants of Betazed. Starting with children.
Homm was surprisingly easy to communicate with, given that the man did not speak, pointed him to the flight console and worked the transporter while Adama did his best on the helm. They flew to the next bombed city, and by the time they left, the shuttle was full already. Adama decided to break atmosphere, which turned out to be a bad idea. As soon as he left the planet behind, the shuttle ran straight into a battleship which made Galactica - well, made Pegasus look small. They didn't even broadcast a surrender option. They just started firing.
This is it, Adama thought, and, this time around: Lee. Kara. Laura. Unfortunately, these still weren't his last thoughts. Amid cries around him and the stink of explosions, his mind, seeking escape, finally supplied what Lwaxana had tried to tell him, and rather inappropriately, he thought: Well, yes. We should have done that instead of swimming.
Then the shuttle took a direct hit, and he didn't think anything anymore.
"Of all the idiocies," Cottle said. "How old do you think you are, Admiral? Next time you want to act out your midlife crisis, don't use a Viper in a nearly unscannable area of space. After all the trouble I had to keep you alive earlier this year, it's sheer bloody minded ingratitude."
His head hurt. There was Cottle's voice ranting at him, and the slow, almost subaudible noise, of engines running. Not any engines. His engines. Galactica's. Slowly, Adama opened his eyes.
Cottle was looking down at him, irritated as hell, which was the normal state of affairs.
"Starbuck found you," Cottle said. "Had to talk with you about whatever she's gotten herself into with that Anders boy, said it couldn't wait, and that she wanted to be alone with you anyway, to she took off after you. Lucky thing, too. Your spacesuit had almost run out of oxygen, and I don't think anyone would have found the debris of your Viper for weeks. Just goes to show that romance is good for something, I guess."
"Brought in the cat," Adama croaked. There was salt on his lips, and in his mouth. As if he had swum in an ocean for a very long time, just an hour ago.
"Never say the gods don't do anything for you, Admiral," Cottle continued, but he moved away from Adama's bed already. There were other patients, after all. "Every now and then, they give you a miracle."