mr_gaeta: (you punch above your weight)
Felix Gaeta ([personal profile] mr_gaeta) wrote2013-03-17 04:08 pm

Blood on the Scales

About the only good news to come out of the debacle was learning Adama and Tigh weren't aboard Roslin's transport. Even that wasn't wholly good news -- it meant they'd somehow slipped free of their Marine escort -- but at least they're safely back in custody. Tigh will continue on his trip to the brig.

Adama, on the other hand, will be escorted up to the CIC.

"Welcome back," says Gaeta as Aaron Kelly and a new set of Marines bring in the Admiral. He stands as straight as he can manage, even now, even with the anger on a low simmer that he refuses to turn off. Adama's more than matching that anger as his eyes bore into Gaeta. "I had a feeling you wouldn't be on that Raptor."

Adama's lip curls. "I care too much for this ship to let it be overrun by rats."

"Right," Gaeta scoffs, looking up at the screens. "If only you cared as much about the people on it."

"You have no frakking idea -- "

"Well, then show me." Gaeta rounds on the Admiral. "You want to save some lives? Get on the wireless and call Roslin. Tell her to come back and surrender."

Adama doesn't move. "No."

"I'll ask you one more time, Admiral -- "

"Admiral?" Adama echoes. "Admiral." In a slow approach, like the movement of an iceberg, he crosses the remaining feet between himself and Gaeta. None of the Marines move to hold him back; a flicker of uncertainty crosses Gaeta's expression as the Old Man touches the collar of his own uniform. "You're the Admiral now."

One by one, he unpins the rank stars on either side of his collar: three diamonds to Gaeta's one, the Colonial phoenix surrounded by a sunburst in the center.

"So you call up Roslin," says Adama. He tosses the pins onto the table with an almost musical clink. "Make her laugh."

Gaeta looks down, but makes no move to retrieve the pins. Adama keeps staring at him, gaze unbroken even when Gaeta finally gives the order to turn their gun batteries toward the baseship. Before they can fire, though, the DRADIS chirps again as it registers the baseship's movement across the screen.

They're moving into the Fleet. Hiding in the Fleet, predicting Gaeta would never turn Galactica's weapons on them if the potential for collateral damage was too great. And godsdammit, they're right.

"Battle stations, stand down," he says, puffing out a frustrated breath. "Marine launch, blue squadron. Have them quarantine the baseship. Gage, spin up our FTL, alert the ship's captains to do the same. Kelly, prepare for Mr. Zarek's arrival."

Adama inclines his head, very slightly, in a parody of curiosity. "Are you going to shoot me, Mr. Gaeta?"

Gaeta studies him, long and hard. "No," he says after a moment. "Not yet."

1116 HRS

He meets Zarek in the Admiral's quarters. Though he swept up Adama's pins as he left the CIC, he still hasn't dared to put them on; other amenities of the Old Man's, however, remain up for grabs.

Gaeta can tell from the outset that Zarek hates the idea, but as the current head of the military branch, Gaeta insists it be done: they will give Adama a trial before his execution. He's dealt with too much injustice in the Fleet over the years he's served, and he will not stoop to the same levels inhabited by so many others before him. Executing Adama straightaway would be butchery. A trial makes it justice.

"We can't move on until people have answered for what they've done," he says. "Which begins with Adama."

Romo Lampkin will be their best bet -- their only bet at the moment, considering the dearth of lawyers available in the Fleet. He arrives escorted by Marines and looking a bit disheveled around the edges, as if he'd been woken rudely and dragged from his bed. Gaeta turns the Admiral's stars over in his hand and tries to pay it no mind.

"The Admiral is charged with treason, desertion, giving aid and comfort to the enemy and gross dereliction of duty," says Zarek, reading from a brief document prepared during the time it took to fetch Lampkin. Across from them, Adama sits in silence. "Punishment for these crimes is death by firing squad."

Lampkin lifts an eyebrow. "Well, I'm not a very good shot," he says.

Zarek shoots him a look. "The Admiral is entitled to a court martial. We need a lawyer to handle his defense."

"They need a pimp," Adama clarifies. Through the entire proceedings, he hasn't once looked away from Gaeta.

Having passed the document across the table to Lampkin, Zarek gets to his feet. "Commander Gaeta," he says -- and despite himself, Gaeta feels a tiny frisson of shock, a part of him believing Tom must be referring to another Gaeta somewhere in the Fleet -- "will represent the people."

"'Commander Gaeta,'" Adama scoffs under his breath in mimicry of Zarek.

"Uh..." Lampkin looks back and forth between the assembled, finally settling on Gaeta. "Why are you doing this?"

"For justice," he says, ignoring the bitter smile Adama gives in reply.

"Justice," says Lampkin dryly. "Uh-huh. So it'd be fair to assume that should I choose to pass on this field trip for justice, Winkin' and Blinkin' over there -- " he nods to the Marines, " -- will use me instead for target practice?"

Zarek sighs. He may have already been clear about how little he wanted to be in this room, but the sound still makes Gaeta's chest knot with new frustration. "Just get on with your job."

"Fine." Lampkin tips his head in a sarcastic nod before skimming the paper. "Bring in the judges."

Zarek hesitates for the briefest moment before saying, "I will be serving as judge."

Both of Lampkin's eyebrows go up this time. "I see!" he says. "So we've run out of ship's captains, then."

"Captains are too busy protecting their vessels from the Cylon baseship Admiral Adama welcomed into their Fleet." Gaeta starts out stiffly, reciting the words like an order delivered, but he can't keep the venom out of his voice by the time he reaches the end.

"Shove it up your ass," growls Adama. "I don't need a frakking lawyer."

"You are charged with treason -- "

"By who?"

" -- desertion, with giving comfort and aid to the enemy -- " Gaeta plows on, voice rising to try and override Adama.

"This is a joke."

" -- and you will answer for these crimes!"

"'Aid and comfort.' Oh, yeah." Adama sneers at him. "I did bathe and wash them. Made their meals. I love the enemy -- "

Before Gaeta can respond, Lampkin raises a hand partway, as if trying to catch the attention of the teacher in a crowded classroom. "Could I...have a few minutes with Mr. Adama?" he asks. "Just to impress upon him the gravity of these charges? Please? You want him to understand, I know you do."

Gaeta straightens up, regarding Lampkin, thinking it over. Finally, he gives a curt nod. "Make it quick."

Outside the Admiral's quarters, he clutches the pins a little tighter, feeling the sharp corners bite into his palm. As if trying to harmonize, his leg begins its dull throbbing anew, the ache radiating all the way from his hip down to toes he no longer possesses. Gaeta closes his eyes and tries to keep the anger burning.

1245 HRS

An hour and a half later, Lampkin and Adama still aren't done talking. Zarek peeled off some time ago to go speak with the Quorum, who stayed on Colonial One while it was parked in the hangar deck. When Kelly comes to fetch Gaeta to the President's ship, he's not too surprised; Zarek did mention wanting the Quorum to meet him.

When he can smell copper yards away from the main room, he knows something has gone horribly wrong.

It's a massacre. Red spatters the walls, puddles on the carpet and oak desk, flecks the giant Colonial seal hanging at the end of the room. Every single member of the Quorum sprawls unmoving where they fell; some of their eyes are still open, locked wide in horror. A huge smear of blood drags across the nameplate of the Scorpia delegate.

And in the middle of it, Tom Zarek stands calmly, watching Gaeta take in the scene.

With every breath, all he can smell is blood. Soon, Gaeta's dizzy with the urge just to stop breathing altogether. It has to be better than this. It has to be -- gods, it's so cold, and he can't frakking breathe, they're dead, no, no, you killed them all --

"I never agreed to this," he manages, staring at the Picon delegate. He thinks if he says much more, he might vomit.

"Yes," says Zarek. "You did."

"No!" In an instant, he turns, almost overbalancing, and seizes the front of Zarek's jacket. "This is murder!"

"This is a coup," corrects Zarek. He still doesn't flinch. "That you began."

Gaeta's mouth compresses harder. He can almost hear the words being spoke in Boyd's broad, rhotic accent; shaking his head, he loosens his grip an inch, too stunned with pain to do much more.

"To take command and destroy our enemies before they destroy us," Zarek goes on.

Enemies? Oh, gods. His hand slips away entirely. Gaeta can feel himself trying to shape words, failing utterly as he takes a step back, then another. His crutch bumps against a lifeless hand; when he tries to shift away, a small, red, circular print stays behind.

"What have you done?" he whispers.

"This," says Zarek, nodding to the carnage, "is what happens."

"No," he repeats helplessly. Gaeta starts to shake his head again: slow, at first, then more vehement. "No, it's a lie, this -- " He points to the bodies. "This is all based on lies. Don't you get it?" He turns back to Zarek, faltering, his voice starting to clog with unshed tears. "We had the truth on our side."

His throat closes up entirely.

Zarek waits a moment, as if making sure he really isn't going to continue. Then, quietly: "The truth is told by whoever's left standing. Adama has to go." His gaze flicks to the lifeless men and women behind Gaeta. "There's no turning back now."

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