mr_gaeta: (composure shredded)
Felix Gaeta ([personal profile] mr_gaeta) wrote2013-03-17 05:46 pm

Blood on the Scales

1342 HRS

For a long time after he leaves Colonial One, Gaeta sits on the steps with his head nearly between his knees, trying to keep breathing. Out here, the air has nothing but the faintly stale quality of oxygen repeatedly recycled. If he can still breathe, he's still present. If he lifts his head and sees how far the hangar deck extends, he knows he's on Galactica.

The Quorum's dead. Everyone except Lee Adama, who must have gone to find his father before this whole frakking mess began. Eleven more people to add to the tally that will never go down, that he will never be able to fix and make right again.

This is a coup. He can't stop shaking; it's still too cold. That you began.

When he finally receives word that Lampkin and Adama are ready to continue, his leg hurts so much that he stumbles and almost falls down the stairs. But the movement does him good: it gives him something to focus on, a way to get his breathing back under control. By the time he makes it back to the Admiral's quarters, he's almost finished pulling himself back together.

Almost.

The Admiral still won't admit to any wrongdoing. He claims to have saved their asses after deserting them on New Caprica, he needles and provokes with more sarcastic comments about the comfort the enemy gave him -- the only thing that wipes the smirk off his face is the news, delivered to Zarek via the comms, that Saul Tigh was killed trying to escape the brig. His expression completely shuts down as Gaeta studies him.

"I'm sorry." He's a little surprised by how sympathetic he sounds; more than that, surprised to realize he means it. But once Gaeta takes a breath and pushes onward, the sympathy remains behind. "But you did give aid and comfort to the enemy. Saul Tigh was a Cylon, and even when you discovered that, you let him remain as XO, didn't you?"

Adama stays silent for a beat. With Tigh gone, all the fight seems to have gone out of him. "I'm not answering any more questions for you, Mr. Gaeta," he finally says.

For all intents and purposes, that brings the trial to a close. "The prisoner is guilty as charged," says Zarek, and Lampkin's head whips toward him.

"This isn't a trial," he says, incredulous. "This is an asylum."

As fast as he'd swung the wrench into Laird's head, Zarek lunges forward and snatches up the front of Lampkin's shirt. Gaeta backs away a step before he realizes he's moved; the room spins, his thoughts preparing to add another tally mark to the growing casualties.

But all Zarek's able to do is yell, "We're done here!" before the wireless turns on with a creak of electronic feedback.

"This is President Laura Roslin speaking from the Cylon baseship. Felix Gaeta has seized Galactica by force." At hearing his name spoken so plainly, Gaeta jerks back an inch as if stung. "The Cylons were defending themselves, they will not harm you -- I repeat, the Cylons will not harm you -- "

Zarek seizes the comm. "Jam that signal," he says. "Why the frak is she still broadcasting?"

"I am asking all ships' captains not to jump -- "

"Where's Hoshi?" Zarek demands, and Gaeta's hand convulsively tightens around the handle of his crutch, a cold lump hardening in his stomach. "Get that little frak back up to the CIC -- "

"No!" The word leaps from his mouth of its own volition; Zarek turns to him, taken aback. Gaeta draws in a breath and repeats, calmer, "No. Lieutenant Hoshi's part of the senior staff, and he will stay in the brig. Gage has jammed her transmissions before. He knows what he's doing."

As if on cue, the signal cuts out. Zarek stares at Gaeta for a long moment before hanging up the comm.

"I'll be in the CIC," says Gaeta, and turns to limp from the room.



1435 HRS

Ten ships out of thirty-five shut down their FTL drives after Roslin's transmission. On the surface, it seems like a defeat, but Gaeta reassures his crew that it's anything but: now they know for certain which ships are on their side. They can give the jump coordinates only to those ships, tell them to keep their FTLs online, and order them to jump immediately.

On Galactica, there are other matters to attend. Now that Adama's been sentenced, it's time to assemble an execution detail.

Gaeta turns that over to Narcho, remembering how he'd been more than willing to take the shot on Roslin's Raptor when Hotdog faltered. At first, though, it seems he may have chosen poorly: Narcho can't meet his eyes as Gaeta relays the order to secure the main hangar deck launch tube and take Adama down there. When he nods and starts to walk away -- still without looking up -- Gaeta asks, softly, "Can I count on you, Noel?"

Narcho pulls himself up and finally looks back. "All down the line, sir."

He nods, reassured, and watches Narcho go. From the corner of his eye, he sees Zarek step up to the CIC table. Lightly -- but still a bit acidly -- he asks him, "Spying on me, Tom?"

"Let's just get through this and move on, all right, Felix?"

At the plain annoyance in Zarek's voice, Gaeta shoots him a brief glare, but doesn't respond. He needs to get down to the launch tube, and gods know it'll take a while; by the time he's down there, Narcho'll probably already have the team assembled and waiting for fifteen minutes.

But he can't. His labored steps -- and gods, he can't tell if the morpha's wearing off or if the breakthrough pain is getting worse, but it hurts, it never frakking stops hurting and it won't stop -- take him not to the hangar deck, but down to the Admiral's quarters. Around him, he hears the echoes of another transmission from Roslin: Release all those being held against their will and return command of this fleet to Admiral William Adama. Surrender. You have five minutes!

Five minutes won't even get him to the racks nowadays.

At the entrance to Adama's quarters, Gaeta pauses to take in the Admiral's desk. It looks like something dragged from a planetside home, not the utilitarian battlestar furniture almost everyone else deals with. Several desk lamps -- the Old Man didn't even have time to turn them off -- light up the dark wood and the piles of neatly stacked reports. It's hard to make out through the blur in Gaeta's eyes.

One painful step at a time, he limps over to the chair stationed behind the desk. He can barely keep himself upright anymore, but it's as if the chair has been covered with a dome: he can't bring himself to sit there any more than he could bring himself to put on the stars he's still holding. He uncurls his fingers. Underneath the dim illumination, the pins glint, gold light trembling a little as his hand shakes.

His eyes won't stop burning. His leg won't stop hurting. Blinking hard, trying to swallow down the lump in his throat, Gaeta lets the pins fall to the Admiral's desk. Going downstairs to ensure they're on Adama's jacket would take too long. Zarek's right: they need to get through this and move on.

This is as close as he can come to returning them. To letting the Old Man die with his pins on.

He reaches for the comm and dials down to the launch tube. "Lieutenant Allison," he says quietly. "Carry out the execution."

"Yes, sir."

It's too much by the time he hangs up: he has to sit down, thumping gracelessly into the Admiral's chair so he can take off his prosthesis. Futilely wiping his eyes, he tries to coax the pain away, knowing he can't; knowing every touch will only make it worse.



1528 HRS

When Gaeta finally makes it back to the CIC, he's greeted by Tom Zarek, comm in hand, standing where Gaeta himself stood as he delivered his earliest orders. He braces himself on the door, staring.

"This is Tom Zarek, President of the Colonies," he's saying to the baseship. "It's over, Laura. Saul Tigh was killed attempting to escape. Bill Adama was tried and found guilty of his crimes. A firing squad executed him this morning. It's done, Laura. You need to think about the people of this fleet now and surrender."

A horrible silence fills the air. And then, utterly ferocious, the angriest Gaeta has ever heard, Laura Roslin says, "No. Not now, not ever. Do you hear me? I will use every cannon, every bomb, every bullet, every weapon I have down to my own eyeteeth to end you. I swear it! I AM COMING FOR ALL OF YOU!"

It's like the rolling thunder of a detonating bomb, sending a shockwave through the CIC. More than one person rears back as if trying to put even more distance between themselves and Roslin. Even Gaeta's struck, frozen, eyes locked on the comms as dread roils in his stomach.

Then his gaze shifts back to Zarek, and the spell breaks. Frustrated, he hauls himself forward to put himself alongside the other man. "So now we have a military leader and a president all in one?" he demands.

"And how would you have answered her, if you would have been here?" There's an undertone of accusation, questioning where Gaeta went, but Gaeta has no time to defend himself: true to her word, the baseship has begun arming itself. He braces an arm on the table and struggles to bring his focus to bear.

"Are we jump ready?" he asks.

"Affirmative."

"Set the rendezvous jump coordinates; set your board to green." He breathes out; quieter, "There's been enough killing. I'm leaving them behind -- " Anger still simmering, he fixes Zarek with a look. "Unless you object."

"Galactica, this is President Laura Roslin. Surrender!"

"Sir, the board is green," says Gage.

He nods. Tightly, "Count it down."

Gage flips on the comms -- he's getting faster, Gaeta notes distantly -- and begins the countdown, calling out each number in a steady beat. That lasts until he reaches three, where he abruptly stops and whirls to face Gaeta. "FTL just went offline!"

Gaeta's eyes widen. He looks up as the warnings start to beep across every screen in a large red banner: FTL OFFLINE. Zarek whips around to stare, panic mounting in his eyes as he takes in the scene.

"Get a crew!" he yells. "Get someone down to the engine room, right now!"

Gaeta still watches the screen, but it's as if a haze has quietly embraced him and pulled him back several feet. Every sound in the room seems blurred and indistinct. The FTL OFFLINE banner looks like nothing but a small smear of blood on the bottom of the monitor.

Zarek's yelling at him. Maybe. He can't quite tell, can make out about every third word or so: wake up...defend...launch your birds. But he doesn't get it. No defense they mount will ever defeat the full power of a baseship. Look at what happened four years ago.

The tension's seeping out of him. It's nice, actually; less tension means less pain. He can even put a little bit of weight on his bad leg now. Gaeta closes his eyes to let reality continue to sweep over him, carrying the ache downstream and too far away for him to reach.

One day soon, there's going to be a reckoning.

It's over.

And it's a kind of relief, he thinks, to know he's finally done fighting after so many years of war.

When he gives his last order as commander -- weapons hold -- he makes sure he's looking right at Zarek to allow for no mistake.



1532 HRS

It turns out Tigh was still alive after all: he busted out the Old Man before Narcho could carry out the execution. When Adama arrives with a squad of Marines, they make very short work of the CIC.

Gaeta doesn't struggle as he's detained.

He doesn't look away from Adama until he's led all the way out of the room, and no longer able to see the stony blue of the Admiral's eyes.