The Legacy of Honour
Starbuck dropped into a chair beside Boomer, pulling a fumarello out of his flight jacket and clamping it firmly between his teeth. The taste was like an old friend, offering familiarity and comfort, yet demanding nothing in return except perhaps to be lit. It was such a little thing, really.
He patted down his flight jacket, pulling out a match and striking it on the arm of his chair for the sake of expedience, ignoring the disapproving glance his buddy tossed him. The match flared to life, burning hot and bright for the briefest of moments as Starbuck gazed into the fire. Momentarily mesmerized, he silently puffed on his fumarello, drawing in the intoxicating vapours. For a centon he was back in Serenity, the ground shaking beneath his feet like it was the end of the world, as they stood in the torch-lit street facing down a hoard of stampeding Borays. The heart of the flame flared, pulling him further into his recent memories, and he was once again standing in Nogow's lair, surrounded by the porcine-like beings, negotiating for the terrified Belloby's release, trying to talk his way into convincing the Boray leader that they really weren't so different after all. The long and the short of it was he'd done it. Suddenly, the flame licked his fingers. With a flick of his wrist it was dead, extinguished for all of eternity, nothing left but a smouldering wispy trail.
Boomer hadn't bothered to wait for a reply before signalling the barkeep to send over a round. Some things were a given, and after their mission to the little agro community to obtain planting seed for the Fleet after two Agro ships had been destroyed and the third had lost its air lock, a drink was definitely in order.
"To your , uh . . . poor character," Boomer said, raising his refreshed glass to his friend.
"I'll have you know I've spent yahrens perfecting it," Starbuck replied in mock indignation, picking up on the reference to Apollo's words in the Serenity saloon.
"And a fine job you've done," Boomer quipped. "Just ask Siress Belloby."
Starbuck winced in memory at what had almost befallen the boisterous woman. Bogan had said that the Borays had taken their "females" in the past, but none had been in evidence in Nogow's lair. It didn't bode well for the missing women. Wild porcine in the colonies were known to eat flesh, did the Borays as well? It was horrifying to even contemplate, but other possibilities were equally repugnant. It was no wonder that Belloby had kissed him so effusively later in the saloon. Starbuck caught Boomer's amused glance and grinned good-naturedly. Oh well, at least she'd bought him a drink afterwards.
"Siress Belloby recommended me for a commendation," Starbuck said aloud.
"Commendable of her," Boomer replied, taking a long drink, before leaning closer to his friend. "I'm still trying to figure out how you managed to convince Nogow to trust you."
Starbuck shrugged. "Boomer, if I put my mind to it, I could talk a novice Kobollian Priestess into skinny dipping with me at the Sacred Aerian Wellspring the day before taking her final vows."
Boomer raised his eyebrows. "Are you claiming . . .?"
Starbuck grinned, taking a sip of his drink. Now that was a path down memory lane that was more worth pursuing, and certainly evoked more pleasant emotions in him. At least . . .
"I don't know how you do it." Boomer shook his head, rolling his eyes.
"It's a gift." Starbuck shrugged, looking up to see Apollo standing at the entrance, scanning the room. He held up a hand, drawing his friend's attention to them. The captain frowned, before heading towards them. "Here's Apollo."
"He doesn't look too happy."
Boomer was right. Apollo's frown quickly turned to a glower the closer he drew to them.
"Why do I get the feeling he's not here to tell me they're going to decorate me?" Starbuck quipped, his gut twisting into a knot. Even with the planting seed they'd managed to get from Serenity, they were still down two agro ships, and repairs hadn't been completed on the third. In a situation where food supplies were already tight, the disaster had only been ameliorated to a certain measure.
"Better get those delusions of grandeur out of you head, before Apollo does it for you," Boomer commented, sitting more erect as a similar tension affected him.
"Take away my delusions of grandeur, and there wouldn't be much left," Starbuck returned, his anxiety rising with each step his captain took. What the frack had happened now?
"There's a disconcerting amount of truth in that statement, Starbuck," Boomer rambled.
"I might be shallow, but at least I'm honest," Starbuck replied.
"Shallow and honest: weren't those qualities part of the recruitment ad of 7339?"
"I stand corrected. That makes all the difference."
"You're sitting actually, but why quibble . . .?"
"Did you actually just say 'quibble'?"
"According to Greenbean, it was the Colonial Lexicon Word of the Day . . ."
A micron later, Captain Apollo was standing in front of him, his features like a Scorpian firestorm as he glared at the lieutenant. Suddenly, Starbuck had the idea that this newest disaster was one of a more personal nature. The problem was he couldn't think of a single thing that he'd done lately that would warrant his commanding officer's apparent anger.
"What's going on?" Starbuck managed, swallowing hard when Apollo's green eyes flashed dangerously at him. He hastily added, "Captain. Sir."
"Commander Adama wants to see you, Lieutenant. Now."