GALACTIC MADNESS By Kelly COPYRIGHT@APR 1998 [] "This is madness! I see no reason to continue traipsing through the universe in search of some mythological planet, endangering all our lives, while we pass many habitable planets, any one of which would make a suitable home for our people." The portly Virgon stood confidently in front of the Quorum of Twelve. His fleshy face becoming flushed with the vehemence of his speech. He regarded the Quorum intently, bringing his lush red cape across his body, like an actor finishing a soliloquy. The Quorum, twelve elderly statesmen, one from each of the twelve worlds, listened with respect to Councilor Dumas. At the head of the long polished table Commander Adama took a deep, audible breath and leaned forward in his high-back chair. He clasped his hands in front of him. His face etched with the lines of age and responsibility, but his eyes sparkled with an inner strength and intelligence. His mind drifted momentarily, thinking he needed to spend more time with his future grandson, Boxey. This brought a faint smile to his face and perplexed looks from the Quorum. Adama choose his words carefully, like a concerned father about to speak to an errant child. "I know everyone is tired and would love to get off these battered and cramped ships and start a new life. But to settle on a planet here and now would mean the end of us all." Adama paused a moment allowing this to sink in. "Any planet we settle will take years to build up the defenses. The Cylons would surely discover us." Adama stared sternly at Councilor Dumas who turned his head in disgust, again wrapping his crimson cape protectively across his ample body. Adama continued unperturbed by the Councilor's attitude. "Our only chance is to find Earth and hope they are technologically advanced enough to help fight the Cylons." The Quorum members mumbled and nodded amongst themselves in agreement. Councilor Yuni of Aeriana, the only female on the council and about half Adama's age gracefully stood. She was the only one besides Adama who had earned any measure of respect. She addressed Adama directly. "We know you're right Adama, but many people agree with Councilor Dumas. We've lost our homes. Many have lost family and friends." She bowed her head in a thoughtful pause probably thinking of her own family and loss. When she continued her voice was sadden. "The uncertainty of our lives now is very frustrating and disheartening for many." The Councilor turned to speak to the rest of the council her voice rising slightly, but remained steady. "But left with the alternative I vote we continue to follow President Adama. He has protected us and brought us this far safely I see no reason to change a good thing." Councilor Yuni flashed an amused smirked, bowed and quietly sat. The rest of the Quorum nodded in agreement, all except Councilor Dumas who vehemently declared, "You're all fools!" The Councilor stood abruptly slamming the palms of his hands down upon the table glaring straight at Adama with unmistakable disdain. Adama calmly stood clasping his hands behind his back. "You have the right to your opinion Councilor Dumas as does everyone else. But, the council has spoken. I must now attend to other affairs so this fleet can continue traipsing as you so put it, through the universe, if you'll excuse me." A faint smiled flashed across Adama's face as he turned and left, officially ending the session. The Quorum members filed out in pairs, some talking quietly between themselves. As the last of the Quorum members exited the council chambers Councilor Dumas stood and walked over to the view screen. The star lit sky interrupted by a Gemini barge cruising alongside the Galactica. The Councilor gazed dispassionately at the beaten relic which was never meant to travel through endless space. He contemplated his fate if they were ever to reach this fabled planet Earth. I'll just be another insignificant subordinate amongst thousands, and that is unacceptable. Worse we could end up traveling around the universe forever living out our lives on these damnable ships. Dumas clenched his hand into a fist and struck the viewport. Being the only surviving member of his planet's government he had grown accustomed to the finer things; like three square meals a day, the rare libation of ambrosia and the added company of beautiful and predisposed females. Even though their worlds and lives were destroyed people still respected his prestige even if it was more for the office than himself. He didn't care. He was a symbol of their previous lives something that many were not yet ready to give up. If they found Earth he would be swallowed up in the masses. Forced to comply to the planet's government, there would probably be no place for anyone on the Council, except of course, President Adama. He would become the emissary between the fleet and Earth. The Councilor continued to stare at the antiquated barge and the vast black space surrounding them. He was not willing to give up his position of power, at least not without a fight. ***** Apollo and Starbuck entered the Command Center making way for a large, ungainly man who rushed past them, head down. A momentary uneasiness flowed through Apollo and he turned to look after the stranger who quickly exited the bridge. He shrugged as his attention turned to his father who was in a conversation with Colonel Tigh in front of the navigation console. Starbuck paused at the communication console to talk to a young, female ensign. Apollo wrinkled his brow in puzzlement as he observed the sober expression on his father's face. He stepped up alongside Colonel Tigh hearing him exclaim, "So sir, we must act quickly, time is of the essence." Without even looking at his father Apollo knew that his father's left eye brow had raised slightly in contemplation. "Okay Colonel, make the necessary arrangements I'll take care of the rest," Adama replied. The Colonel nodded in acknowledgment smiled at Apollo and walked off. Adama took a sip of the hot coffee he held and smiled at his son. Apollo was one of the youngest and best pilot in the fleet. A father couldn't be more proud of a son. "Commander, is something wrong?" Apollo asked, refraining from family familiarity while in uniform. He maintained a straight military posture in front of the bridge crew. Starbuck looked up from his conversation and excused himself to move up alongside Apollo as Adama replied, "Yes, Colonel Tigh has just informed me of a situation that has arisen." Adama took another sip of his still steaming coffee. "The Picon barge, Bright Star, is losing power and there is nothing our engineers can do, the ship is just to old. We are reducing speed so she can keep up." Adama stared out the view port and looked upon his rag-tag fleet, 1500 battered ships of all sizes and shapes relying on him for their safety. "Colonel Tigh has people preparing to salvage her and siphon off the remaining Tylium. There are about 200 people who will need new accommodations. I need you to assign several teams to begin searching the larger ships for possible occupation. This must be done quickly. The engineers give us about three days before things start getting dangerous." "There goes our R&R," quipped Starbuck. Without looking or losing his military bearing Apollo shot an elbow into his friend's side. Adama stifled a smile at the young lieutenant. Starbuck was like a son to him, helping to fill the void left by the death of his youngest son, Zac. Apollo and Starbuck were best of friends, but couldn't be more different. Where Starbuck was outgoing and a bit devious, trailing close to insubordinate, at times. Apollo was very controlled and serious, a younger version of his father. Together they seemed to balance each other out or at least keep each other from being killed. "Don't worry, sir, we'll find a place for everyone. Come on Starbuck," Apollo replied eagerly. The two turned and started to walk out. Starbuck gave the cute ensign a conspiratory wink before exiting the bridge. As Starbuck and Apollo marched down the main corridor Apollo glanced over and mockingly remarked, "You love living on the edge, don't you?" A notoriously innocent look appeared on Starbuck's handsome visage. "Whatever do you mean, Apollo?" "Don't give me that innocent felgercarb. One of these days your amorist antics are going to get you in real trouble. And I won't be there to rescue you." "Apollo, how can you say that. I'm a complete gentleman, an open book. And what do you mean rescue me?" Starbuck stated sounding a trifle indignant. Apollo halted in the middle of the corridor turning to look the young, blond lieutenant in the eye. "What about Cassiopeia and Athena?" Apollo questioned with a knowing smile. The look of one caught with his hand in the cookie jar quickly flashed across Starbuck's boyish face as he answerd, "Er..well both women know I'm not ready to settle down yet." Apollo smiled at his gregarious friend. "You better hope they do, this isn't one of your card games. You could find yourself floating in space." Apollo clapped a hand upon Starbuck's shoulder as the two continued down the unadorned corridor, discussing the Picon's situation. When Starbuck and Apollo reach the turbo lift they stood off to one side, apart from the four young people waiting for the lift. A young, black pilot, his uniform distinguishing him as a member of Red Squadron, suddenly appeared from an adjacent corridor. "Hey you two, I've been looking all over for you. How about a game of triad? I'm ready to kick your butt, Starbuck!" "Sorry Boomer, we have an assignment," Apollo answered. Next to Starbuck, Boomer was the best pilot in the fleet and one that Apollo would want next to him in a fight. "Well then I'll let you two get to it." Boomer turned hoping to escape the inevitable. "Hold it, Boomer!" Apollo ordered. "Frak," Boomer murmured under his breath. He closed his eyes and dropped his head. He turned to face Apollo, his hands out in protest. "Ah, Apollo, come on, this is the first break I've had in five duty cycles." He gave Apollo his best give-me-a-break look. "Sorry Boom, we need to find accommodations for 200 people. Find Jolly and the rest of the squadron. Pair them up and have them search the larger ships. Starbuck and I will begin searching the Galactica." Starbuck placed a friendly arm across the black pilot's shoulders. "You should be grateful Boom, this saved you from the disgrace of me beating you at Triad." Boomer shrugged Starbuck's arm off his shoulder giving him a good-natured sneer. "Okay, but this is under protest," Boomer replied as he turned and walked away in annoyance. "Noted." Apollo smiled at the dark warrior's back. ***** Adama entered his quarters, stiffly removing his long fleet jacket and throwing it over a chair. An enormous bolt of pain went through his head almost forcing him to his knees. Bright dots flash across his vision in sync. Carefully he laid his body down on his bed hoping to vanquish the pain. Adama closed his eyes, flashes of pink and blues exploded in his head then swirled together in a cacophony of color. Adama doesn't know how long he slept, but he suddenly found himself sitting on the edge of his bed. The pain having subsided, his head still felt like someone was humming a morbid tune inside his brain. He sensed the presence of someone in the dimly lit room. "Who's there?" His voice coming out hoarse as he peered into the darkness. A voice came out of the shadows followed by the incandescent form of a woman. "Don't you recognize your own wife, Adama?" Adama's eyes opened wide, the color leaving his face, as a lithe woman came into view. "Ila, it can't be," he whispered staring at the radiant white-haired woman in flowing chiffon robes. "Why, because I'm dead," she answered sharply, her green eyes seemed to pierce his heart. He doesn't remember them being so vibrant. "Are you sure, Adama, were you sure when you left Caprica, left me to face the Cylons alone." The form halted several feet away, still in the shadows, but near enough for Adama to recognize the face of his wife. Adama tried to reject what he was seeing and hearing, but it was all to real. "No, you were dead. I saw the house, in ruin, you were there." Adama shook his head as he stared at the form of Ila. His hands holding onto the edge of the bed as if tried to save himself from falling into a dark abyss. "Was I? You left me behind to be tortured and put to death," Ila stated angrily, her face contorted in a way Adama had never seen during their forty years of marriage. Adama doesn't know what to say he can only stare at his wife, remembering. Finally he was able to loosen his tongue, his voice sounding distant and hoarse. "I'm sorry, I thought you were dead. You know I never would of left you if I thought you were alive." "You left me to die, Adama." Ila's finger came up pointing accusingly at the tormented Adama. His head started to throb again. He managed to bring his hands up to his ears trying to block out the sound of Ila's incriminating words. "Nooooo!" Adama cried then crumpled to the floor. The womanly figure melted away. ***** Adama stepped onto the bridge stopping just inside. He stood and stared, suppressing a shiver. It seemed like a darkness hovered just above him throwing a ominous shadow over his usually lucid visage. A young ensign brushed past the esteemed Commander. Adama's arm shot out grabbing the ensign by the shoulder. The ensign's boyish face turned to meet Adama's. For a moment it seemed that Adama was lost in thought then he aggressively blurted out to the bewildered ensign. "I want the navigational reports now!" The neophyte ensign wanted to shrink into the deck as he tried to answer the glaring Commander. "Ah, yes..yes, sir.." he stuttered. Colonel Tigh raised his head, breaking from the reports he was scanning. A confused frown on his dark face as he stared at the enraged Commander. Adama seemed to have aged ten yahrens over night. His uniform, uncharacteristically rumpled, like it had been slept in. His normally bright eyes, red from a lack of sleep. Colonel Tigh stepped up to the Commander and keeping his voice calm and steady murmured, "Commander." Adama continued to berate the ensign ignorant or uncaring of the Colonel's presence. "Those reports should of been on my desk first thing this morning!" The Colonel raised his voice. "Adama!" Adama shot the Colonel a look of disgust and doesn't answer. The Colonel waved the terrified ensign away, much to his relief. Tigh lowered his voice. "What is going on, Adama?" Adama's eyes darted from side to side as if searching or watching for something, he finally fixed them on the ebony Colonel. His voice is meditative, but beneath it Colonel Tigh could detect a deep, pulsing rage. "Am I not Commander of this fleet?" Colonel Tigh is taken aback by the malevolent tone as much as by the question. He has known Adama for many years. They have fought side by side against the Cylons. And were close friends before the war and all through the academy. "Yes, sir," he finally answered, a tremulous note in his voice. "Well, is it to much to ask for my orders to be obeyed?" Adama angrily asked. "This isn't like you, Adama," Tigh responded shifting nervously. He felt the eyes of the bridge personnel upon them. A sense of foreboding twisted at his stomach. Something was very wrong. "Well maybe this is the way I should be. I'm tired of people running all over me. I'm responsible for everyone's lives maybe it's time I tighten the reins." Tigh sees weariness, or is it remorse that flickers in Adama's now dark eyes? Adama turned away yelling, "Don't you all have jobs to do. I suggest you get to them!" The bridge personnel returned to their duties. ***** Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer rendezvous at one of the upper observation domes inside Beta section. "So how's it going, Boom?" Apollo asked. "The men and I have found one hundred and five places between five ships. It took a little convincing for some." Boomer gave a sly smile placing his hand on his holstered phaser. "Good, we've found fifty-five," Apollo added making a note on a clipboard. "Okay, Starbuck you start searching the lower decks of the Galactica. I'll go and inform my father. Lets meet up at the officer's lounge in a couple centons." "Now that's the best idea you've had all morning," Starbuck replied rubbing his hands together in anticipation. "Last one there buys!" ***** Apollo entered the bridge and stopped abruptly, like he just ran into a brick wall. He noticed the usual friendly banter among the bridge crew was absent. He could feel the tension and caught glimpses of the furtive looks of the crew. He sees his father staring out the viewport seemingly lost in thought. His hands behind his back, his shoulders hunched, giving him an aged and weary appearance. Colonel Tigh approached Apollo, following his eyes back to his father. "He's been there for over an hour, he hasn't moved or spoken." Apollo hands the Colonel his report his eyes never leaving his father as he absently reports, "We've found places for almost all the colonist from the Picon. Starbuck is searching the lower levels of the Galactica now. Boomer and Jolly are searching the last of the barges and smaller ships." Colonel Tigh nodded then placed his hand on Apollo's shoulder causing the young man to turn his head. Apollo looked into very distraught eyes matching his own worried look. Colonel Tigh swallowed then whispered, "Go to him something is wrong. He won't talk to anyone even me." Apollo walked quietly over to his father and stepped up alongside. It felt like everyone was walking on egg shells. Apollo stood at ease and turned his attention to the viewport hoping to see something that might explain his father's distant stare. The starlit space refused to give an answer. Without turning his head Adama spoke with a tiresome voice. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" Apollo nodded without saying a word. Adama continued, "She was beautiful." Apollo frowned not knowing who his father was talking about. "Father?" Apollo whispered turning his head to look at his father's profile. He glanced over his shoulder to see Tigh observing with the same worried gaze pasted on his face. Adama turned to his son, his face drawn and pale looking, like a man who had been beaten to the breaking point. Then his eyes suddenly blazed and his brows come together so quickly Apollo flinched. "Your mother. She was beautiful," he blurted out. "Yes, father she was," Apollo answered not sure where this was coming from, but realizing that something was very wrong with his father. Fear started to choke at him and he swallowed it down. "I left her to die at the hands of the Cylons." Any of the crew who could see Apollo saw the shock flash across his face like someone had just shot him. Adama stared down at his hands rubbing them together. "No father, she was already dead," Apollo finally replied. He went to put his hand upon Adama's shoulder, but stopped, not knowing why. This was not the competent stalwart man who commanded a fighting fleet and was responsible for the lives of thousands of people. This was a man wrestling with some unknown demon. Adama shook his head. "No, she wasn't." He stopped rubbing his hands and raised his eyes slowly up to meet Apollo's. "Why didn't you check?" Apollo was taken aback by the question which stabbed him like a knife. He's wrestled with the lost of his mother ever since Caprica was destroyed. "Father? I did. Her body was under the rubble..." "No. She was alive." Adama's voice rose causing the crew to pause in their duties and turn to the Commander and Captain Apollo. Adama doesn't seem to notice or doesn't care as he continued, "You left your mother, just like you left your brother to die!" Apollo felt his knees weaken, but managed to continue standing. Colonel Tigh immediately broke in, "Adama, enough! How can you say such things?" Adama seemed to forget that Apollo was standing near by as he lashed out at the Colonel. Adama swept his arm across the whole bridge. "You're all out to get me. "You..." Adama glared directly at Colone Tigh who could only stare in stunned silence. "You want my command don't you Colonel, admit it!" Adama's face reddens in anger. "Father, what's got into you?" Tears began to form at the corner of Apollo's eyes. "Leave me alone. You're not my son." Adama huffed and turned back to the viewscreen. Tigh reached his hand towards Apollo then dropped it to his side. For a moment time stopped. Apollo remained solidly erect, motionless, head up. He does an about face and walks off the bridge. No one sees the single tear fall down his cheek. ***** Starbuck entered the crowded Officer's lounge scanning the crowd of off-duty pilots and fleet personnel. He catches sight of the same ungainly man who was on the bridge yesterday. This time he takes notice of his fine clothes and neatly trimmed hair. He looked to be a man of importance, wearing a dark blue tunic and pants. He watched as the man conversed with one of the waitresses kissed her hand and left. Starbuck approached the tall and well endowed waitress who gave him a lustful once over. She smiled, her voice taking on a lascivious tone. "What can I do for you, handsome?" The word handsome was drawn out like a hot summer day. "Ah, yeah could..." Starbuck cleared his throat and began again. "Could you tell me anything about that gentleman who just left?" "Who? Mircos?" The waitress snorted. "He's a very important Virgon. He's Councilor Dumas's attaché. He also tips good." The waitress smiled in a way that told Starbuck that Mircos's tipped in more than mere cubits. Starbuck turned to look back the way the man went. "Anything else, handsome?" Starbuck blushed and gave the attractive waitress a dazzling smile. "Well, was he acting strange or anything?" "Now that you mention it, yes. He paid me to let him serve Captain Apollo over there." The waitress pointed to a center table where Apollo and Boomer sat, slumped over mugs of ale. "He paid you?" Starbuck asked. "Yeah, said something about it would be an honor to serve his hero." The waitress shrugged. "If someone wants to do my job and pay me who am I to argue." "Well, thanks." Starbuck turned to leave then felt a light hand on his shoulder. The waitress leaned into him. Her perfume caused Starbuck's head to swim a little as she pressed her ample breasts against his back. He turned his head slightly and gazed down to where she hid her tips. "Hey cutie, how about me and you getting together sometime?" She took a deep breath causing her breasts to heave. Starbuck took a deep breath then turned to face the voluptuous woman. He assumed a mask of naiveté. "Ah, sorry I'm a one woman man." The lie almost caught in his throat, he smiled and walked away giving the waitress a wink. Starbuck plopped down between a very despondent Apollo and a bewildered Boomer. He ran his hand through his hair as he released a breath of frustration. He reminded himself to look up Cassiopeia during his next rest cycle. Starbuck suddenly felt the somber mood at the table, he looked towards Boomer who shrugged his shoulders. Starbuck placed his hand on Apollo's shoulder. "Hey buddy, what's the matter?" Apollo took a gulp of ale and turned his head slightly to look at Starbuck. Starbuck had never seen such a look of total despair on his friend's face before. "You haven't heard, it's all over the fleet. My father is crazy," Apollo answered trying to keep the remorse out of his voice. Disbelief widened Starbuck's blue eyes. "What, the Commander? Come on Apollo your father is the most rational person I know." Apollo stared down into his drink, his tone laced with bitterness. "He's mad, Starbuck, you didn't see him, ranting and raving. He blames me for my mother's death and for Zac's." Starbuck can't believe it Adama would never say that to Apollo not if he was in his right mind that is. Apollo took another swig of his drink, then leaned back in his chair, And closed his eyes. It took a long time for Apollo to stop blaming himself for Zac's death. His brain told him he had no choice, he had to leave Zac and warn the fleet of the Cylon attack. His heart was another matter it doesn't understand duty and sacrifice. "Maybe it's just stress," Boomer added not truly believing it and slumped down in the chair with his drink. Apollo raised his hands and pressed the heels of his palms to his eyes. He took a deep breath and swallowed hard. "I'm going to lay down I'm getting a headache." Apollo stood, wavered a little and walked away without even a glance back towards his two friends. He walked through the crowd in hollow despair. The emptiness inside threatened to envelop him. As soon as Apollo was out of ear shot Starbuck leaned across the table. "Boomer, something funny is going on. I don't know what, but this Mircos who is Councilor Dumas's attaché..." Boomer's eyes widened as he interrupted, "Councilor Dumas?" "You know him?" Starbuck asked. "I know of him. He's a blowhard, believes we should settle on the next habitable planet and stop searching for Earth. Uses his position to get special favors." Starbuck sat back in his seat thinking about what Boomer has just told him. More pieces to the puzzle. He only wished he could put them all together. It's hard when some are still missing. ***** Apollo laid carefully down on his bunk, thankful that the sleeping quarters were deserted at this time. The pain in his head had grown steadily worse since leaving the officer's lounge. He closed his eyes and slashes of color, like lightening bolts, flashed across his vision. Apollo suddenly sat up striking his head on the upper bunk. He tried to hold on to the last remnants of a fading nightmare. And a nightmare it was, evident by the sweat glistening on his face and adrenaline pumping through his veins. The pain in his head had subsided, but a slight buzz remained. Apollo stood grabbing hold of the bunk to steady himself. He took a deep breath and went over to the nearest Communications console. After pressing a button he asked, "Messages for Apollo, RED5456." An emotionless voice responded, "One message." Serina's soft voice replaced the grating, detached accent of the computer. "Apollo, I'm sorry to tell you this way. It's over between us. I'm in love with Starbuck." Apollo stared at the console unsure of what he heard. His eyes flared as he backed away from the console as if it had turned into some vile, distorted creature ready to strike. Apollo ran his hand through his dark hair trying to comprehend the message. Images of Starbuck and Serina together danced before his eyes fueling his anger. Why had he never seen it before? Of course, Starbuck planned it all along. Cass and Athena were just diversions, used to keep him from discovering the truth. Apollo strode down the corridor his ears still burning with the message Serina left. His eyes set, piercing with a sole purpose. Several people turned at the determined footsteps behind them and pressed themselves against the wall to get out of the way as they saw the maniacal expression on Apollo's visage as he passed. Apollo turned the corner to see Serina and Starbuck near one of the turbo lifts. He stopped at the corner, the two unaware of his presence. Apollo clenched his jaw and balled his fist as the rage crept through his entire body taking control. He yelled out his overflowing fury and charged down the corridor. Starbuck and Serina turn in unison at the fierce yell, not realizing what they were seeing until it was to late. Apollo rammed into Starbuck's chest with his arms up, slamming him into the far wall. The impact took the breath out of Starbuck who was stunned and unable to react to the attack from his long time friend. Apollo's forearm came up across Starbuck's throat and began applying pressure. This brings Starbuck out of his stupor. He peers into the wild eyes of his friend, seeing madness in his dark globes. Starbuck is overwhelmed by the immense strength Apollo seems to have acquired. In a strangled voice Starbuck tried to speak, "Apollo...what the...?" Apollo administered more pressure to Starbuck's throat cutting him off. Apollo's eyes break their gaze as an image of Starbuck and Serina in a passionate embrace floats over Starbuck's shoulder. Still staring at the ghostly figment, he murmurs between gritted teeth. "Why, you can have any woman. Why Serina?" His heart pounded inside his chest threatening to explode or break. The feeling of betrayal all to real. Keeping one arm across Starbuck's throat Apollo reached down and pulled out his phaser pointing it at Starbuck's stomach. Serina screamed and grabbed Apollo's arm trying to force it down. "Apollo! What are you doing? It's Starbuck!" Apollo looked at his friend jabbing the phaser into his stomach, causing Starbuck to wince. Apollo released some of the pressure from Starbuck's throat. Serina hung on Apollo's arm as he continued to stare at Starbuck who saw the anger suddenly wash away from Apollo's face, replaced with confusion. Not sure if Apollo really would kill him, Starbuck took advantage of the sudden hesitancy, bringing his arms up he breaks free. Apollo staggered back, his weapon held loosely at his side. Starbuck rubbed his throat as the strength ran out of Apollo's legs and he sank to the floor like a marionette who's strings had been cut. Serina goes to Apollo, putting her arm across his shoulders, he looked up at her seeing her hurt an puzzled expression. "What...What was I doing?" he asked.

"That's what I'd like to know?" Serina could hear the slight tinge of anger in Starbuck's voice. Apollo took a deep breath and leaned his head against the wall. In a curiously flat voice he replied, "I remember having a terrible headache and laying down. I had an awful nightmare and woke up. Then I checked my messages." Apollo looked into Serina's troubled gaze, swallowed and shot Serina a look of disgust which quickly faded and continued, "You left me a said it was over between us that you were in love with Starbuck." Serina pulled her arm away and looked at Apollo like he just slapped her. "Apollo, I never sent you a message like that," Serina adamantly replied. Starbuck extended his hand down towards Apollo. Who looked at it then forced himself to look up into his friend's face. Starbuck gave Apollo a forced, but understanding smile as he took his hand helping him up. Apollo leaned against the wall bringing his eyes to meet Starbuck and Serina's. "I couldn't help myself. I felt such rage, hatred, I just wanted to kill you." Apollo locked eyes onto his long time friend. "Can you ever forgive me, Starbuck." Starbuck gave Apollo a crooked grin and replied, "Don't even think about it. What are friends for if you can't threaten their life now and then. Anyway I don't think you were responsible. Come on." Starbuck walked down the corridor as Serina folded her fingers around Apollo's gently pulling him forward. They stopped at a communication's console set in the wall. It's orange light blinking in greeting. Apollo approached the console and gave his access code then ordered, "Retrieve previous messages for the past centon." The same indifferent computer voice immediately replied, "No messages." "That can't be." Apollo shook his head in bewilderment. "I heard it." Starbuck leaned up against the wall placing his hand casually upon his phaser. He caressed the weapon as a thoughtful gaze appeared on his face. "You just think you heard it. I knew something funny was going on," he said. Serina turned to Starbuck still a little disturbed by everything that just happened. "What do you mean, Starbuck?" "I'm not sure." Starbuck bowed his head in thought. "But the Commander going crazy, now Apollo. It's all tied together somehow and I believe Councilor Dumas is a big part of the puzzle." Both Apollo and Serina exchanged disbelieving looks at Starbuck's accusation. "Councilor Dumas? What has he got to do with Apollo trying to kill you," Serina asked. Starbuck related what Boomer said about Councilor Dumas. Apollo straightened as he contemplated what Starbuck was telling him. "I have to go and see my father. If he really is losing his mind I need to deal with it. But, if some force is controlling him?" Apollo placed his hands on Serina's shoulders. "Serina, I need you to go and see if you can dig up any information on Councilor Dumas." "Sure, Apollo." Apollo wrapped his arms around Serina's waist pulling her close, relishing her firm body molded next to his. He breathed in the scent of her hair and kissed her neck. Starbuck cleared his throat. "I'm coming with you, Apollo. Whatever is going on I'm now included." Apollo nodded his head in agreement, secretly thankful for Starbuck's loyalty. He hoped Starbuck's suspicions were right because the alternative was more than he could handle. ***** Even an actual morgue wouldn't of been so disquieting as the bridge at the moment they entered. For one thing the bodies wouldn't be standing. Apollo noticed immediately that his father was absent. Both pilots approached Colonel Tigh who rose up out of the command chair, his face impassive as Apollo approached. The Colonel was an inch shorter than the two pilots, but this did not detract from his commanding stature. "Colonel, sir, where is my father?" Colonel Tigh looked the young warrior in the eye, a remorseful expression replaced the apathetic look on his dark features. "I'm sorry, Apollo. I had to relieve him of command." "What!" Both Starbuck and Apollo cried out. "He wanted to speed up the fleet and leave the Picon behind, there are still over fifty people on board and several engineers. I couldn't let him do it. I don't know what's come over him. He's not himself, the Adama I knew would never leave anyone behind." "Do you know where he went?" Apollo broke in trying to maintain his military posture. "I confined him to his quarters until a formal hearing could be convened to assess his competence." Tigh paused a moment. "I'm sorry, Apollo. I didn't have any choice. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do." "Sir, there's something going on that we don't know about," Apollo remarked. Apollo has been like a nephew to him he hated to destroy his belief in his own father. But the safety of the fleet came first. "Apollo we might have to face the fact that your father has had a mental break down and will be unable to command this fleet." "Please Colonel, just give us a little time," Apollo pleaded. Colonel Tigh placed his hand upon Apollo's shoulder. "You have two duty cycles. I hope you're right Apollo," Colonel Tigh replied without much conviction. Starbuck noticed Adama's coffee cup sitting precariously on the arm of the command chair. He picked up the cup, a small swig of the dark liquid still at the bottom. Apollo came up alongside. "What is it, Starbuck?" "The Virgon, Mircos, was on the bridge and he served you a drink in the officer's lounge. I think we should get this coffee tested." The two hurriedly exited the bridge leaving behind a very confused Colonel Tigh. Apollo and Starbuck headed to the Science lab on the lower deck. They entered to find Dr. Payne, a small, fastidious man bent over a microscope. He looked up to see the two warriors standing over him. "Oh, I'm sorry I didn't hear you come in. When I get involved with my experiments everything else ceases to exist." Apollo interrupted, "Doctor, we need your help?" He took the coffee mug from Starbuck and handed it to the doctor who peered at the dark liquid and swirled it around. "We need this tested right away, it's an emergency." "Why, did someone finally die after drinking this vile concoction?" The doctor chuckled until he noticed he was the only one laughing. "It'll take a few microns, if you want to wait." After almost a centon Apollo and Starbuck stood in front of the doctor who now sat behind a very clean and organized desk reading off a computer screen. "The coffee was laced with RH54, better known as AfterLife. A strong hallucinogenic." Apollo and Starbuck turned to each other then Apollo brought his surprised eyes around. "Doctor, what is Afterlife?" Dr. Payne scrolled down the screen the lines of text reflecting in his eyeglasses. After a moment he sat back pushing his glasses up to rest on top of his thinning pate. "Psychiatric hospitals used it for their more unresponsive and violent patients. The drug made patients very susceptible to suggestion, effecting the part of the brain that controlled memory. This was very useful when working with despondent patients. A patient's memories could be manipulated in a way to make him placid or bring him out of despair." "What would this drug do to a normal person?" Apollo inquired. "Well, it could cause psychotic episodes, distortion of memories or enable a knowledgeable professional to plant false memories," Dr. Payne explained. "Could it make them do things they wouldn't normally do?" Starbuck inquired as the pieces began falling into place revealing a sordid picture. "Most certainly, a person would become very susceptible to suggest, that's why it was outlawed on the twelve worlds several yahren ago. Only trained psychiatrists could get the proper results with the drug." At that moment Serina entered the doctor's office giving Apollo a warm smile. "Apollo, Starbuck I got all I could on Councilor Dumas. I don't know how much help it will be." Dr. Payne smiled as Serina approached holding a sheet of paper in her hand. "Well, as you know Councilor Dumas is the only surviving member of Virgos' government. He was only an aide-de-camp to Councilor Tomas. He had a wife who died in the attack. He has a degree in political affairs. He was ambitious, but lazy, he basically got the job through his father who apparently called in some favors within the Virgos government. The rest is just some of his accomplishments most minor probably just to help Councilor Tomas buy votes. Due to the war Dumas has been promoted to a status that he never would of reached on Virgos." "Is that all?" Apollo asked hoping there had been something that would of explained the recent events. Serina flipped the page over unconsciously skewing her mouth in concentration. "Well there is one other thing, he recently hired an aide by the name of Mircos. It says here that Mircos used to be a psychiatrist at the Virgos Asylum for the Criminally insane. He was fired for inappropriate behavior with a female patient." Apollo and Starbuck raced out of the center leaving a puzzled Serina in their wake. They heard the doctor's anxious yell, "What was this doing in coffee?" "So now we know Mircos had access to the drug and knew how to use it," Apollo questioned as the two loped down the hallway then turned a corner.

"But what does Councilor Dumas have to do with this? Why would he hire someone like Mircos as an assistant?" Starbuck asked as the two slowed to a brisk walk. "I think we'll have to ask Dumas about that," Apollo answered. He stared ahead barely noticing the people they passed as he tried to understand all the implications. He continued, "We have to get my father to the life center and under guard. We also have to inform Colonel Tigh about our suspicions." The two men stopped at a three way junction. "You go inform Colonel Tigh and take care of your father. I'm going after Mircos," Starbuck replied. Apollo placed a stopping hand on Starbuck. "We need to find Dumas." "I think if we find Mircos, we'll find Dumas," Starbuck stated matter of factly. Apollo bit his lower lip torn between helping his father and helping his friend find Mircos. "I'll meet you at my father's quarters in a centon. Be careful, Starbuck." "Don't worry about me, you just take care of Adama." Starbuck headed down the right hallway as Apollo continued on to the bridge. ***** Starbuck strolled down one of the lower levels his heels echoing off the bare walls. Down here he could feel the vibration of the engines through the floor. The waitress at the officer's club was able to tell him some of Mircos' hangouts. Of course he had to promise the libidinous young lady an evening out on the Tauron Amusement Barge. He was just thinking about how he was going to explain this to Athena and Cassiopeia, as he turned a corner a flash bit off part of the wall. Starbuck threw himself back against the wall drawing his own phaser. "Frak! Well that can only be one person, I hope," Starbuck whispered to himself. He shouted down the corridor. "Mircos, it's over we know everything. Turn yourself in!" Silence. Starbuck waited a micron then cautiously peered around the corner. Seeing no one, he took a deep breath and rushed down the corridor throwing himself inside a doorway. He closed his eyes trying to slow his racing heart as he listened for any sound. The lower levels were usually unoccupied at this time, used mostly by fleet personnel only. Starbuck raced to the next fork and peered down the hall in time to see a door slide shut. He noticed the sign above the door restricting access to launch bay personnel only. He wondered how Mircos would know the access code for the bay.

Starbuck stepped up to the door trying to visualize the layout of the bay. He gripped his phaser securely and punched in the access code. As the door slid open Starbuck dove to his right where several fuel receptacles lay stacked a couple feet from the wall. The bay was deathly silent with any number of places to hide. The dim red lighting cast dark shadows upon two vipers that sat off to one side. Starbuck sat with his back against the fuel canisters. He took a deep breath and slowly poked his head above the cans. He immediately felt the heat of a phaser blast pass by him, striking the wall and creating a burning black hole. Starbuck dropped back down behind the cans contemplating his next move. He decided to try the diplomatic approach and yelled out, "Mircos listen, Dumas is probably already in custody. It's over. Where can you go?" He is answered with another blast over his head. Why can't they ever just give up Starbuck thinks to himself. Then added, I'd make a terrible politician. Starbuck's foot kicked a metal rod which he picked up. He examined the forked steel rod which was used to pry open the steel fuel drums. He tested the weight of the bar. Peering around the cans he flung it over to his right. The bar clattered on the floor bringing a series of blasts from Mircos enabling Starbuck to discern his position. Starbuck quickly rose and returned fire. He sees the dark form of Mircos bolt out from behind a dismantled shuttle door and Starbuck continues firing. Mircos stopped in front of the door and returned fire. A shot ripped through Mircos as he fired one last shot which struck Starbuck in the shoulder. Starbuck was slammed against the wall his shoulder a white hot knife of pain. He remained standing fighting the weakness in his legs. He tried to pull back the burned material from the wound. Then made his way to the prone form of Mircos. He knew the Virgon was dead. The smoldering, black hole in his back attested to this. He made his way over to an intercom and struck the unit with his fist.

"Life center this is Lieutenant Starbuck in Launch bay Alpha requesting assistance," he gasped, smelling the burned flesh of his arm beneath his jacket. He brought his arm slowly up, placing it against his chest and winced at the pain. "Please state the nature of your request," A young apathetic voice responded. Starbuck gaped incredulous at the intercom unit and shook his head trying to keep back the darkness threatening to overwhelm him. He tried to keep his voice steady. "There is one dead and one injured in Launch bay Alpha, request assistance." "Who is injured and what is the nature of the injury, Lieutenant?" The voice continued with the same lack of emotion. Starbuck paused, dropping his head, sweat running down his face. He barely heard the voice over the intercom. "Lieutenant, I repeat, who is injured?" "I am you moronic daggit," Starbuck gasped out as he slowly sank into oblivion. ***** Apollo paced the corridor outside Adama's quarters. He was unable to locate Councilor Dumas and was waiting for Starbuck. He finally decided that his wayward friend was not going to show up, he entered. Apollo stopped just inside the door feeling the light breeze as the door quietly slid shut, blocking out the light from the corridor. The room was dark, except for a circle of light coming from a brass lamp on Adama's huge wooden desk. He could barely make out the still form sitting in the chair behind the desk. "Father?" Apollo quietly said. There was no response. A shadow moved off to the side drawing Apollo's attention. He drew his phaser. "Now, now Captain Apollo. That would not be a wise choice." Councilor Dumas appeared, a phaser in hand pointed at Commander Adama's head. Apollo slowly lowered his weapon. Dumas gestured off to his right. "If you don't mind, Captain." Apollo tossed his phaser over against the far wall. He noticed that Adama had not moved. "What have you done to my father?" "Well, Captain Apollo, it's really quite simple." Dumas walked to the front of the desk and sat down on the corner his phaser now trained on Apollo. "I had to discredit your father. I knew simply killing him wouldn't change anything, someone else would of taken up his foolish quest. But, if he was proved to be insane." Dumas tapped his finger on his head, smiling. "People would start to think that maybe this planet Earth was just a delusion of his broken mind. It would then be easy to convince the council to settle on the next habitable planet." Dumas grinned. "I will be a hero." "We discovered the drug you used," Apollo stated matter-of-factly. Dumas rubbed his chin. "I see, I guess it was only a matter of time." Dumas looked straight at Apollo and continued, "You were suppose to kill Lieutenant Starbuck, which would of taken care of both of you at the same time. Mircos apparently didn't use enough of the drug. I'll have to deal with him later." "So now what are you going to do, Dumas?" "Well, I'm a man who can improvise. What would be better to further my plans than Captain Apollo killed by his own father." He gave Apollo a sardonic smirk. "You're mad, Dumas!" Apollo replied calmly keeping his eye on his father. Adama slowly stood and walked over to Dumas a phaser held loosely at his side. A sly smile materialized on Dumas's face. "Adama, there is the man who killed your wife, you know what to do." Adama looked at Apollo, a glazed, uncomprehending expression on his face. He took a couple steps forward leveling the phaser directly at Apollo. Apollo straightened staring directly into Adama's glassy eyes. "You see Apollo, I still win." Adama stopped several feet in front of Apollo. "Father, it's me, Apollo," Apollo said in a soft, steady voice. Adama blinked. "Do it Adama, now!" Dumas ordered. "Father you don't want to do this, fight it, fight the drug." Adama closed his eyes and swayed slightly. Recognition lighted up his face as he looked at Apollo. He turned to face Dumas who stepped back. Dumas brought his own phaser up, but Adama fired. Dumas crumbled to the floor gripping his arm, an incredulous look on his face. Apollo dashed forward picking up Dumas's weapon. Adama's knees buckled and Apollo rushed to his side grabbing his arm. He helped him up and over to his desk for support. Adama leaned on the desk turning his head to look into the brown eyes of his beloved son.

Dumas groaned and peered up at Adama and his son. "How, how did you overcome the effects of the drug?" "I guess the power of love and friendship can overpower any drug," Apollo replied as he looked lovingly upon his father, who returned a bewildered smile. ***** At Life Center Apollo stood between two beds, one holding his friend the other his father. Cassiopeia monitored the complex machines keeping track of their vitals. The soft blip sound of the heart monitors the only sound as Cassiopeia flipped through several papers. She looked up and smiled. "How are you feeling, Father?" Apollo asked. "Fine, fine when can I get out of here?" Adama demanded. "Sorry, Commander we need to make sure all of the drug has left your system and that there is no lasting effects," Cassiopeia replied as she moved to stand between the two beds. "Well you'll be happy to hear that Councilor Dumas is confined to quarters, under guard. They'll have a trial for him soon," Apollo said with just a hint of amusement. "I never would of thought Dumas would go so far. Trying to prove me insane so the fleet would abandon their search for Earth." Adama shook his head in disbelief. Then looked up at Apollo, a sadness in his eyes at the thought of almost killing his son. "When can I get out of here, Cass?" Starbuck broke in, an engaging smile on his face. He took Cassiopeia's hand and played with her fingers. She pulled her hand away to flip through the chart. Cassiopeia's tone was laced with mock concern as she answered, "You can leave anytime you want. Your arm will be stiff for a few days and the Doctor wants you on light duty for awhile." Starbuck sat up and swung his legs over the bed. "Great!" "Oh, by the way, since you're feeling better maybe we can discuss a certain waitress who has been asking about you." She glared down at a sudden abashed Starbuck, like someone examining a new kind of fungus. Apollo and Adama exchanged smiles as Starbuck sank back down on his bed. "You know Cass, I think I need some more time to recoup, I'm feeling pretty tired." Starbuck feigned a yawn and grimaced in mock pain. Cassiopeia seemed to enjoy making the brash pilot squirm under her gaze. She turned and walked away a sly smile on her face. She threw a wink to Apollo, who hid a smile. "Starbuck you can't stay here forever," Apollo declared, stopping just short of saying I-told- you-so. Starbuck folded his hands behind his head. "Well, maybe if I hang out a couple days everything will be forgotten." He looked to Adama and Apollo for assurance, seeing none his optimistic smile left his face. "Maybe not," he murmured. Starbuck was not amused by the chuckles from Apollo and Adama and rolled over onto his side. THE END (Apr 1998)