mr_gaeta: (lieutenant)
Felix Gaeta ([personal profile] mr_gaeta) wrote2013-03-17 12:30 pm

The Oath/Blood on the Scales

0934 HRS

For a brief while after, the CIC falls into an eerie calm, like clear skies after a devastating storm. Gaeta can feel it washing over him, drawing up his back a little straighter as he watches the main screens. Even when Gage reports gunfire in the engine room -- even when the same gunshots start to echo outside the CIC -- he holds steady, creating a firm support for the rest of the soldiers around him.

This is how a leader ought to act. He has to set a good example from the outset. And it's so easy, he thinks; he almost feels like he's floating above the chaos, observent but untouched.

Soon, the ship's captains begin to call in, asking worriedly why Galactica won't respond to their hails. "Put them up on speaker," he says, and listens to the jumble of voices: Admiral Adama, do you read? Are they going to jump away like last time? Who's in charge of Galactica -- any vessel in communication with Colonial -- can't trust Admiral Adama --

"And get me a scrambled line to Tom Zarek," he adds after a moment.

Gage nods, shuts off the broadcast, and sets up the comm line. His movements have none of the finesse of a trained CIC officer, and it takes a few extra seconds of clumsy picking at the switches before he has Colonial One. That's...not surprising, but might be trouble later. Gaeta makes a note to himself before he picks up the comm.

"Mr. Zarek," he says, "I've taken command of Galactica. The Admiral and his senior staff are in custody."

"Adama's still alive?"

Gaeta frowns. "You sound disappointed."

Zarek sighs audibly, like he's just watched a child spill water over itself while attempting to take a drink. "It's a loose end," he says. "I'm sure you have your reasons. Still, congratulations are in order; with the future of the Fleet at stake, you've done a very courageous thing -- "

"We can fine-tune our rationalizations later," interrupts Gaeta, just barely restraining himself from rolling his eyes. "I'm still bringing communications back online, and the Fleet's in an uproar."

"Don't worry, they'll fall in line. Especially after I..."

Zarek's voice starts to warp on the last words, shifting to a higher pitch -- and then, suddenly, it's no longer Zarek's voice, but Laura Roslin's, echoing from every speaker in the CIC. He almost drops the handset.

"Women and men of the Fleet, this is your President," she's saying through the distortion of a badly-hacked comm line.

"What the frak?" he mutters. Into the handset, "Tom, are you hearing this? Turn on your wireless -- "

"Of all the decisions I've had to make since assuming the presidency -- "

"Where's this coming from?" Gaeta demands.

"I don't know," says Gage.

" -- none were more frightening or more difficult than agreeing to this alliance with the Cylons. But we have come to a crossroads in our long and painful journey. Cylons and humans have been at war for generations; we know nothing else. And we have been locked in a struggle that has seen both sides suffer unspeakable loss. But with our supplies running low, and our options limited, our former enemies may represent our last, perhaps our only hope. To those in the fleet and on Galactica --

"Find that frequency, Gage." Dammit, if Louis were still here, he would have shut the President off before she even -- no. This isn't the time. "Isolate the signal!"

Gage shoots him a helpless look. "Sir, I don't know how to."

Frak this. "Godsdammit," he hisses, hobbling over to Gage's station. All around them, Roslin continues her speech, talking of putting trust in those who have gotten the Fleet this far and rejecting the traitors who have taken over. I am not a traitor, he thinks furiously as he punches the switches, turns the correct dial, inputs a single command, and cuts the broadcast down into fragments of static and feedback.

For five seconds, there's nothing else to hear.

And then the flood of hails from the ship's captains begins anew: President Roslin, do you read? Galactica, do you copy --

Gaeta puts his head in his hand, praying for the calm to return.



1027 HRS

"CIC."

The only unencumbered lines at the moment run inside Galactica herself; that means the call Gage has picked up is either one of Gaeta's people looking for orders, or one of Adama's loyalists looking to threaten. But even considering the latter option, the look of dread on his face seems pretty extreme.

"What?" asks Gaeta.

Gage swallows. "It's Baltar."

What? Gaeta's eyes narrow in disbelief. He looks away, considering his options, trying to figure out what the frak kind of game Baltar could be playing at this juncture. It would be best not to pick up the call at all -- he's not sure if he can trust himself to handle anything Gaius might say. After a moment, though, he slaps a hand onto the phone and pulls it to his ear.

"What do you want, Gaius?" he snaps.

"What do I want?" Baltar's voice -- as raw as ever, full of emotion and seeming sincerity -- sounds incredulous. It's like he can't even comprehend how Gaeta could know so little of his intentions. "I want this to stop. Now. Right now. This is madness -- this doesn't become you, you know. Treason. Or whatever they're going to call it when this thing is through."

Gaeta's teeth creak with the force of his jaw clenching together. Months ago, Baltar had been so willing to hurl the same accusation Gaeta's way, and over so much less. Now, to claim it never suited him, as if such an action would be inconceivable --

"I know you, Felix. I know you're a good man. You're an honorable man," he pleads. "You want to do the right thing. Even your failings have been understandable."

As dry as he can, Gaeta says, "What, like serving in your corrupt administration?"

"You know exactly what I'm talking about," says Baltar. "Our little secret."

Gaeta's leg seizes up. His vision narrows to a point, and for a moment, he can only stand frozen, the air too thin to breathe and the room too cold to tolerate. One of the CIC officers raises her head, and under her straight dark hair he thinks he sees an Eight smiling down at him --

and then Baltar goes on, "Sealed with a very special pen," and the CIC begins to warm again. He closes his eyes, presses his mouth tight to regain his sense of equilibrium. Of course. Baltar has no reason to concern himself with anything but personal betrayal: a pen through the neck, not the deaths of gods know how many beyond him. Distantly, Gaeta can still hear him talk of forgiveness and redemption, but it doesn't matter. He doesn't care.

"Goodbye, Gaius," he says, as flat as before.

Just before he slams down the comm, he hears Baltar say, "Felix, wait, please -- " but he's long since stopped listening.



1041 HRS

Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

As innocuous as DRADIS may be, the noise rings in Gaeta's ears and makes his head pound. He rubs one temple in an effort to clear it, looks up -- and frowns at the blip currently crossing the screen. "What's Raptor six-one-niner's mission?"

"Transporting human crew from the Cylon baseship," says Gage.

Gaeta's frown deepens as he marks the Raptor's movements. "They should've checked in with the LSO by now," he mumbles to himself. Then, as the dot veers in a direction it shouldn't go, realization dawns. "They're not headed for the hangar deck."

In fact, they're headed for the aft airlock, and within minutes the Raptor's taken off again. When they refuse to respond to any of Galactica's hails, that cements Gaeta's suspicions: it's not a Raptor under their control, and it's likely transporting someone of high importance. Trying to ignore the ringing in his ears -- and the way everyone in the CIC is looking at him, hanging suspended as he tries to think through his orders -- he kneads his forehead again, staring up at the DRADIS screen.

Who's on board? Roslin? Adama and Tigh? Has Starbuck managed to hijack a shuttle herself to get out of there?

Either way, there's only one real option: arm all weapons, engage the target, and destroy.

The objective would be a whole lot easier if the pilots on CAP would follow their frakking orders, though. Narcho's on his game, but Hotdog keeps erring too far on the side of caution, demanding the Raptor identify itself before he engages. It only gets worse when the shuttle does identify: Roslin returns to the comms, telling the Vipers she's aboard.

"Do not fire," she calls. "I have escaped from the mutineers who have taken over Galactica. They're firing -- "

At least it doesn't take as long for Gage to jam the transmission this time. Not that it helps; Hotdog, now that he knows the President's in the Raptor, flies into a panic of uncertainty. "I don't know!" he yells. "That was the President! She's on board the target!"

There's too much hesitation, too much ingrained in them all. Narcho tries to take the shot, but it's too late -- the missile goes wide and hits the Cylon baseship instead. Everybody watches DRADIS as the dot labeled RAPTOR 619 folds into the larger mark reading ENEMY BASESHIP.

"Missiles missed the target," says Gage unnecessarily. "The Raptor boarded the baseship."

Gaeta sets down the comm, resigned, then gives in and slams his palm against it as hard as he can.