Battlestar Galactica 2003 is a copyright of the Sci Fi Channel. Battlestar Galactica is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios. Ron Moore re-imagined Glen A. Larson's original idea; but then again, most people who would be reading this already know that. My use is in no way intended to challenge or infringe upon any established copyrights. This piece is not intended for any profit on the part of the writer, nor is it meant to detract from the commercial viability of the aforementioned or any other copyright. Any similarity to any events or persons, either real or fictional, is unintended.
Author's Notes: This story is a sequel to my earlier Battlestar Galactica fics, The Dark at the End of the Tunnel and Adrift in the Acheron. It is rather necessary to read those stories before reading this.
As usual, I've done a bit of research for my fic. From a BSG standpoint, I found The Battlestar Galactica Wikipedia to be an invaluable resource for all things Battlestar Galactica.
Breaking the Cycle
"All this has happened before. All this will happen again." – PythiaI – The View from the Frying Pan
"Absolutely not," Admiral Adama barked. He'd been forced to deny Tigh's requests to send a boarding so many times that he was finally starting to lose patience.
"I'm not saying we should send in the marines right now," Tigh argued, finally backing from the hard-line stance that essentially boiled down to, 'We don't negotiate with terrorists – we use them for target practice.' "I only want to sit down with Rutger – and maybe Starbuck – to see what our options are. If he forces our hand, we don't want to be flying by the seat of our pants."
"Fine," Adama relented, silently conceding his XO's point. The admiral glanced across at Lee, who seemed satisfied with the decision. "And now that that's done…"
"Informants," Tigh muttered.
"Right," Adama agreed. He bristled at the mention of this problem; it hadn't been a full hour after Galactica found the fleet when the wireless frequencies lit up with news that the cylon prisoner had given birth to a cylon-human hybrid. Only the people on my ship had access to that information, Adama knew, and one of them felt it appropriate to pass that on to a terrorist who fashions himself President. As much as the admiral was angered by Zarek's actions, he was immeasurably more infuriated by his own people's betrayal.
"We could assign Hadrian to the problem," Tigh suggested.
"We've been down that road before," Adama said. "As bad as it is now, I don't know that initiating an Inquisition is the best course of action."
"We can't do nothing," Lee said, pointing out the obvious. The admiral knew his son was new to his responsibilities, but he wished that Lee would be more assertive. He has ideas; he should share them. "News of the child is only making things worse for our position."
"That issue isn't the problem," Tigh responded with a sigh. "News of… that thing is only a symptom of the problem."
"If he knows about Sharon's baby, that means he has informants on my ship," the older Adama muttered under his breath, intense fury shining through in his tone despite the fact that his words were almost completely inaudible.
"And if he has access to information, he may have access to a lot more," Tigh reasoned.
The admiral didn't miss the implication – assassination and sabotage might be available remedies to Zarek's predicament. It wouldn't be the first time Zarek used violence to solve a problem. "Commander, I'm transferring Sharon and her child to your ship for the time being," Adama said.
It took a moment for Lee to realize his father was talking to him – he still wasn't used to being referred to as a commander or to having a ship of his own. "Yes, sir," he finally managed, though he immediately thought better of it. "You haven't forgotten the cylon prisoner on my ship, have you?" he asked, remembering the cylon that Caine's crew had brutalized for months before he took command. "Do you really think it's a good idea to have Sharon, her baby, and the other cylon on the same ship?"
"No," the admiral admitted, "but I don't see much of an alternative. We haven't mixed crews yet – except for Starbuck and Cottle, anyway, and I think we can trust them," he said with a conspiratorial smirk, "so it's safe to assume Zarek doesn't have anyone loyal to him on Pegasus. If things get bad, I may ask you to leave the system, maybe put Sharon and the child somewhere for safe keeping. It's not like we're going to be able to hide either of them anywhere else in the fleet."
"Understood," Lee responded. Put them somewhere else for safe keeping? he wondered. Like where, exactly? The Ceti Alpha system is one of two places we've found that actually has a habitable planet. The other is LV-426, which has a sacked cylon outpost that we can never return to, since you gotta know the cylons will be back eventually.
"If you send Pegasus away, even for a little while, it'll leave us in a less powerful bargaining position," Tigh pointed out.
"That doesn't matter," Adama replied. "Those are all that remain of our people on those ships over there – it's not like we can afford to start shooting, anyway. Pegasus's main value was in the initial surprise her arrival gained us. That didn't provide the breakthrough I'd hoped for, so now we have to find another way. This isn't something we can fight our way out of – we have to think, and talk, and bargain, and lie. Two battlestars or one, it'll make little difference; we don't need both of them to overwhelm an unarmed fleet of civilians."
"I'd prefer a problem that weapons could solve," Tigh admitted.
"Me too," Adama agreed.
Lee was surprised to hear his father say that – he'd never known him to favor a military solution when a peaceful resolution was possible – but after a moment's consideration he could see the logic in the statement. We're trained to fight, not to negotiate. We're stuck in a war of words and ideas, and Zarek's the enemy. I don't see how we can win without using force… he's got us right where he wants us right now.
"We can't start shooting," the admiral acknowledged, "but that doesn't mean we're going to sit on our hands, either. I'm going to order the Aether to spin up the white noise generator, have her cut off wireless communications between the other ships. Zarek's biggest weapon right now is propaganda… I don't see why we should make it easy for him to spread his ideas."
"More coffee?" Colonel Tigh asked, gripping the pot tightly in his hand.
"No thanks," Major Rutger answered. "If I have any more, I won't sleep for a week."
"Not like you're going to, anyway," Tigh muttered. He filled his own cup and walked back to the table. For the umpteenth time, he started looking over the schematics for Colonial One. "We can't do this without getting some people killed."
"No, we can't," Rutger agreed.
"Any new ideas?" Tigh asked. They'd been poring over the schematics and their rosters for hours, trying to find the perfect unit to handle the challenges presented by a raid on the president's ship. As large as the ship was, it had been thoroughly remodeled since the attacks in order to serve as an administrative ship. The vessel was now honeycombed with offices, cubicles, narrow hallways, and newly-installed blast-doors. Armor plating had been welded to the most vulnerable areas of the hull, complicating any entry, and the most capable men they could muster in the fleet now served as the presidential security detail. Any incursion would entail sending in a small number of men who would have to deal with an unknown level of resistance. And that's assuming Zarek's people don't just seal off and depressurize whatever section we enter, Tigh thought, not for the first time.
"They'll know we're coming," Rutger said. "They have the defensive position. And their security is run by a guy named Walter Matton. He's good, an ex-marine who went into private security before the cylon attack. If he has the time and materials, I'd expect him to make unexpected changes to the layout – even beyond the changes we already know about – maybe add or remove doors in unexpected places to throw us off. Just navigating through the ship will be a bitch."
"A frakking nightmare," Tigh agreed. "I can't believe it came to this."
"And of course, Zarek picked the best possible time to pull this off," Rutger added.
"He did, at that," Tigh muttered angrily. "And I guarantee it was no accident."
"It's something we were discussing earlier," Tigh explained, remembering the fleet command meeting. "Zarek has people all over the fleet who are loyal to him, who give him information that he uses to his advantage. Hell, despite all of our security precautions, he probably knew about our assault on LV-426 before Baltar did."
"Which means he had plenty of time to plan his coup before staging it moments after Galactica jumped away."
"Exactly," Tigh said.
"Maybe we should get Captain Kelly in here to join us," Rutger suggested.
"Huh?" Tigh asked.
"I think your wife mentioned one time that Kelly's first assignment was on the Nereus," Rutger explained. "That was a light tactical support ship; he must've sat in on tactical op planning meetings before."
"Humph," Tigh grunted. He waited a few moments, feigning renewed, intent interest in the schematics before he said anything else. "When did you have a chance to talk to my wife?"
"I ran into her a couple of times on Cloud Nine," Rutger said. "When I was on R & R. She plays her role well."
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Tigh snapped, turning toward the marine.
"She's the wife of a flag officer," Rutger responded immediately. "Like the old saying goes, behind every successful command officer is a spouse who understands politics. She can definitely work a room, Sir. I'd say that's a valuable asset. Or it was before everything went to hell."
"Yeah," Tigh muttered, pushing out of his mind just how good he knew Ellen was when it came to getting other officers to divulge their secrets. But then another thought occurred to him, and his stomach sank immediately. "So you've seen Ellen talking to Captain Kelly, too?"
"Well, not exactly, Sir," Rutger said. "I was over on the Myrmidon when she visited one time. My understanding is that she had a meeting with Kelly."
"Oh," Tigh said, satisfied by the tone of his voice that he was doing a good job of sounding disinterested, as if he was only making small talk while he continued making plans in his head. "When was that?"
"Not long ago. Probably a few days before the assault on LV-426."
"Uh-huh," Tigh said, though his mind was racing down an unsettling track. A few days before the attack. Which means she may have been able to get info on the attack from Kelly. Kelly would never have spoken to Zarek, but Ellen might have. If she got it in her head that supporting Zarek would be good for us, she might be foolish enough to make a move behind my back. I've overlooked a lot over the years, but if she had something to do with this, and if I find out she's the one who spread word about that thing that popped out of the cylon…
"What was that?" Tigh asked, realizing that he must not have been paying attention when the marine asked something.
"Should I contact Captain Kelly and see if he might be able to help us?"
"Not quite yet," Tigh answered. The last thing I want right now is to see his face. Not if he gave Ellen any crucial information that resulted in this mess. "Let's go over it all again, first." Before I waste my time chasing false leads, I'll track down Ellen and just ask her outright. I'll know if she's lying. And after she proves she had nothing to do with any of this, I'll be able to focus on work again.
"I don't see why you're requesting a transfer," Lee said, getting right to the point, leaving everything else for later in their meeting.
"Sir?" Kara asked, seated perfectly still, her hands clasped atop the folder on her lap.
"You don't have to 'Sir' me in here, Kara," Lee told her.
"With all due respect, Commander, I think we should keep our relationship as formal as possible," she replied. "You're in command of a battlestar now, and I command your air group."
"Fine," Lee sighed. "Captain." He looked Kara over, wishing that he had the vaguest idea what she was thinking. So often he could read her like an open book, even when others were cursing her for being too guarded. He'd always wondered how people couldn't see every single one of her feelings put out there for all to see, spelled out in the lights dancing behind her eyes. But now he finally saw what everyone else had apparently been seeing over all those years. She's a mystery to me now, he admitted to himself, wondering how in hell that had happened in the matter of a couple of weeks.
"I think it's more appropriate for me to be assigned primarily to the Galactica, and to stay there unless there's a pressing matter that requires me to come here temporarily," Kara said. "It's the logical decision."
"How do you figure?"
"Admiral Adama is the battle group's commanding officer, and the Galactica is his ship," Kara pointed out. "Since all of our fighters have been rolled into one air group, it makes sense for the CAG to be on the Galactica, with the admiral."
"And you already spend half your time there," Lee responded. "You've asked to be assigned there permanently. You've asked not to come to my ship at all unless you absolutely have to."
"Yes." Kara concentrated on taking a deep, relaxing breath, making certain Lee never noticed. She didn't want him to know how much trouble she was having with this meeting. My ship, she noticed Lee call Pegasus. Another deep breath. She knew that he hadn't adjusted to having a ship yet, and thus when he said 'my ship,' he meant 'my home.' He was taking this personally, and she didn't know whether to feel good or bad about that.
"So that's your reasoning?" Lee asked.
"There's also the current instability," Kara added, choosing the next item on her disappointingly short mental list of half-assed excuses to get off of Lee's ship. "If the Admiral decides that some type of assault is required, it'll obviously use Raptors and probably a few Vipers as air cover. As the CAG, I'll be in on those meetings and probably a part of a strike team. It makes no sense to have me on another ship."
"There's always going to be a crisis of one sort or another," Lee said. "The Admiral and I knew that when we assigned you this duty and decided to rotate you between the ships."
"This isn't just another crisis," Kara argued. "We're talking about the possibility of an assault that could start a civil war. That's a bit more serious."
"More serious than what?" Lee asked. "When we assigned this position to you, we contemplated crises ranging from a disabled freighter to an all-out cylon attack. You're an excellent pilot and a fine officer, Starbuck. I don't see why you're asking for this."
Please don't make me beg, Kara pleaded silently. She was thankful that as of yet Lee hadn't mentioned the fact that all of the nuggets had been transferred to Pegasus to train on the ship's state of the art Mark VII simulators, or that the Pegasus had a whole ship's worth of pilots she had a responsibility to get to know, or even that she, herself, could do with some simulator time to get re-acclimated to a Mark VII's controls. He could shoot this down any time he wants, but he's giving me the option of withdrawing my request. Just like a good commander should. Bastard.
"Is something amusing?" Lee asked, noticing a flicker of a smile pass over Kara's lips, never reaching her eyes.
"No," she said. "No, Sir."
"You're not the only one who has to adjust to new responsibilities," Lee said.
"I know," Kara said. She saw the doubt in Lee's expression, the uncertainty and stress. And she saw how hard he was trying to hide it all, even from her. But then Lee's expression turned back to stone, though now Kara realized she wasn't alone. In fact, it's probably worse for him, she admitted to herself, disappointed that empathizing meant admitting that she was actually better off than the man she was angry with for not giving her a release from unwanted responsibilities. Although it's not just the responsibilities, a voice whispered in the back of her mind. She dutifully chased that thought away.
"I'll consider your request," Lee finally said. "Let me know if you change your mind."
"Yes, Sir," Kara said, noting the translation to Lee's words was, 'You have a short time to withdraw your request, and I think it's best if you do that before I have to deny it outright.'
"Is that all, Captain?"
"Yes, Sir," Kara said, turning crisply on her heel, walking out into the hall. She started walking briskly toward the gym, hoping that maybe she could fit in a short workout to burn off her frustration. Then I may as well go back up there and give Lee what he wants, she decided, hating the thought of withdrawing her request less than a day after submitting it.
"Hey," Billy said, his eyes alight when he noticed Dee in the hall.
"Hey," Dee replied. "Got a few minutes?"
"For you? Always."
Dee felt sick as she looked at Billy, as she noticed the affection in his eyes, his joy at having some time to spend with her. She hoped he couldn't see through her as easily. Dee walked slowly through the familiar corridors of Galactica, finally opening a service hatch and leading Billy into a maintenance tube.
"So what's up?"
"We need to talk," she said. She saw the look on Billy's face, the curious, expectant gaze that was confirmation that he'd never been dumped before. If he had, then he'd know what was coming as soon as he heard me say those words in that tone. She sighed lightly, wishing that Billy wasn't such a nice guy, that she didn't still love him to death. As a friend, she reminded herself. He's smart, he's good-looking, he's a good guy… and he just isn't my type. She cursed herself again for having taken so long to admit the truth to herself, reminding herself of the excuses she'd created in her own mind. I was just so emotional over the cylon attack that I needed someone, and Billy was there. I genuinely care, but just not in that way. I would never be sad with Billy, but I'd also never really feel that kind of thrill that I want… that I get with Lee. All of these thoughts raced through her head, and she forced herself to label them for what they were – excuses. He's a good guy, and I really do care. He deserves better than what I'm doing to him. But I can't force this relationship to work, and I know better than to try.
"So?" Billy prompted.
"I can't do this anymore," Dee said.
"Us," Dee clarified. "I can't do this. I can't be with you like that anymore."
Billy just stared at her, a stunned expression falling over his face as he struggled to process her words. "I, umm…"
"I'm really sorry," Dee apologized, feeling tears well up in her eyes when Billy's mind obviously registered what she was saying. His jaw dropped, almost imperceptibly, and there was a look of pure shock that eclipsed anything she'd ever seen before. Which is saying a lot, since I watched countless people process the fact that the Colonies had been wiped out.
One simple word, and Dee was swept up in a maelstrom of confusion. She could, of course, answer with the simple cliché of, 'It's not you, it's me,' or she might offer some kind of vague, half-ass excuse. She could tell Billy about Lee, using him as a convenient pretext that she knew would at least give Billy the comfort of knowing that he'd been betrayed by the woman he'd hoped to marry, and that he was certainly not the bad guy in the situation. But the truth is so much more complex than any simple answer could explain, Dee knew. The truth is that I just don't feel we work. At least not like that. And how can I explain that without making him feel that he's somehow responsible, which totally isn't the case?
"Look, Billy," she said hesitantly, knowing she'd let the silence drag on too long and that it was time to say something, though she still had no idea what that something should be. "I…" She looked pleadingly at Billy, wishing he would give her a word, a phrase, even an expression that might inspire her with something to say. But he stood there silently, countless hours around politicians having schooled him in the art of interrogation through silence. He would give her all the time she needed to say what was on her mind, and he had no intention of helping her along.
Dee had no idea how long she stood there, lost in a nightmare she'd never wanted to live, trying to get back on track toward the conversation she'd planned. Finally, Billy turned to leave, and Dee found her voice. "Wait!" she practically shouted, grabbing his elbow and turning him back to face her. "I didn't mean for this to happen," she told him.
"I never said you did."
Something in Billy's expression reminded Dee of a kicked puppy, which led to her realization that she was the one who'd done the kicking. "I'm not saying I don't care about you."
"Okay." He still looked more stunned than anything, but there was a hint of sorrow and anger creeping into his eyes.
"I just… I…"
"Did you ask for a transfer to Pegasus to get away from me?" Billy asked.
"I never asked for a transfer," Dee replied, hoping she didn't actually sound as defensive as she thought she did. Does he know about me and Lee? Has he heard anything? "I was transferred after Commander Adama requested me. Starbuck, Doc Cottle, and I are going over."
"So that has nothing to do with this?"
"It might make it easier for us to move on," Dee admitted, "but no – I didn't request a transfer to get away from you, and I'm not breaking up with you because I'm getting transferred."
"Okay," Billy grumbled.
Dee almost started to feel better about the low-burning fire in Billy's eyes, the incredulous anger stoked by ego as he asked himself, 'Why does she think I'm not good enough?' She found herself surprisingly comfortable with the idea of taking the blame. After all, this is all on me, she admitted. Just like everything I've done behind Billy's back is all on me, too.
"I'll see you around," Billy said, turning again to walk away.
This time Dee let him go, and she remained behind for a long time, indulging in the misery borne of a dead relationship she herself had ended.To be continued……………………………