“My gods,” whispered Laura Roslin as she leaned forward onto the conference table. “They claim that another ship survived, Bill?”
William Adama nodded and he took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “It’s a hell of a coincidence, Madam President,” he said formally. “And it is possible—possible
, mind you—that the flight recorder data and recordings are fabricated,” he scowled. “We have seen manipulation of recordings by the Cylons before. And we know that they can use our Raptors.”
Tigh snorted. “If it isn’t
fabricated than that pilot in there has balls of pure tungsten; firing a nuke that close and following it to jump to FTL at the last possible moment—damn if he’s not as crazy as Starbuck.”
Laura frowned. “Is there anyone aboard the Galactica
that might know them? I mean, if they are Colonial Fleet, someone surely has met them?”
“Madame President,” Lee Adama, newly promoted to command of the Battlestar Pegasus
, said, “we had one hundred and twenty Battlestars on active duty before the attack—five times that number including the smaller ships. Two point seven million people in uniform, for the Fleet alone, that is not counting either the Marines or the Army. I’ve got their pictures circulating on Pegasus
—and the Admiral and Colonel Tigh are doing the same on Galactica
—but the odds are, we might not have anyone who knows these two individuals.”
“I see,” Laura said. “Have they been int- . . .,” she stopped, and then shook her head. “Debriefed
?” she continued.
And Bill smiled slightly. “They haven’t been mistreated, Madame President. And no, knowing you, I did not want to begin questioning them until you could be here.”
“Where have they been all this time?” she asked. “How did they survive—and where are they?”
“Questions we do not yet have the answer to, Madame President,” the Admiral answered again. “I am holding them in isolation for now—no contact with any of the crew except their guards.”
“Separate from your pet Cylon, Bill?” Laura asked in a frosty voice.
“Separated from Sharon, yes, Madame President. She might be able to confirm or deny whether or not they are Cylons.”
“If we trust her,” the President snapped. “She’s a Cylon.”
Bill grunted, not wanting to spark yet another fight over the woman—the Cylon—that had so recently lost her child. He stood. “Madame President, if you want to question them yourself, you are welcome to join me.”
“Thank you, Admiral,” she said with a smile as she stood, “I think that I will.”
“So . . . you guys really are Fleet?” the guard asked.
Sidewinder just shook his head and smiled, but Kaboose snorted. “No, we just decided to steal a Raptor and a nuke and kill a Basestar for the hell of it.”
“No need to get snide about it, jailbait,” the guard spat. “You’ve been to the Colonies then?”
Silence descended on the room, along with a chill. And Sidewinder sighed.
“We have—it wasn’t pretty,” he said. “Where was home, Private?”
“Virgon,” he answered.
“No shit? Well, many have we got a surprise for you,” Kaboose perked up. “You’ll never guess who was running the resis- . . .,” but Sidewinder cut him off as the hatch slowly opened.
“Lieutenant Jamussa,” he snapped. “I believe that our debriefers are here.”
Colonel Tigh walked in and he glared at the guard and then made a jerking gesture with his head—his eyes promising retribution for holding a conversation with the prisoners. He was followed by a shorter, stouter, hard-bitten man wearing . . . the insignia of a Rear Admiral? Son of a bitch, Sidewinder thought. Then came a woman—a middle-aged woman—wearing a civilian business suit and skirt. Last, a younger man wearing a Commander’s tabs on his collar, along with a blonde haired Captain wearing the wings of a Viper pilot.
Sidewinder turned to Kaboose. “Michael,” he whispered, “keep your fracking mouth shut as much as possible.”
“Understood, Sir,” the EWO answered just as quietly.
“I understand,” the old man with glasses said, “that you two are claiming to be pilots from Battlestar Scorpia
—you understand that this is a difficult thing to believe?”
“Yes, Sir,” Sidewinder snapped. “When we left the Colonies two years ago, you were a Commander—not an Admiral, Admiral Adama.”
“Things change, Captain Greene,” Adama answered. “You have already met Colonel Tigh. Allow me to introduce Laura Roslin, the President of the Colonies. Commander Lee Adama of Battlestar Pegasus, and Captain Kara Trace, CAG aboard Galactica
“Ma’am,” Sidewinder said to the President. “Captain Stefan Greene, Lieutenant junior grade Michael Jamussa,” he nodded at Kaboose.
“I believe that you were telling the guard you had a surprise from Virgon, Lieutenant Jamussa?” Laura said with a sweet smile. “I love surprises.”
Sidewinder sighed. “Ma’am, Scorpia
has recovered a number of survivors from the Colonies—including Virgon. Prince Hamish, Lord Malcolm, was among them.”
The blond pilot—Kara Thrace—jerked at the mention of survivors from the Colonies, but she got an elbow from Lee Adama and kept her mouth shut.
Laura blinked. “Really? I’ve never understood the Virgon fascination with archaic forms of monarchy—but it will make the Virgons in the Fleet happy; if it is true.”
“How about we take this from the beginning,” Adama said.
“Yes, sir,” answered Sidewinder. “One question first: where is Admiral Cain?”
Bill Adama pursed his lips and Roslin kept that thin smile on her face. “Captain Greene,” she said, “Admiral Cain was murdered by a Cylon agent two months ago. I promoted Admiral Adama to his current rank, and Apollo proved to be the most qualified person available to take command of Pegasus
Sidewinder released the breath he was holding. “That will make things easier once Scorpia
and the ships she is escorting arrives,” he said. But then he shook his head.
“The long story short? Two years ago, Fleet Headquarters dispatched Scorpia
to carry a scientific team to a distant system to research an interesting stellar phenomena. We returned to the colonies seventeen days ago—which was when we discovered that the Cylons had attacked and the Fleet had been destroyed. We originally arrived at Typhon Station to find it abandoned with signs of an internal fight—we topped off our tanks and took the remaining supplies; Commander Lorne doesn’t like it when unexplained events happen, Admiral, Madame President.”
“We jumped into Scorpia about an SU out and discovered that the Fleet was gone—the Cylons were on top of us in minutes. We withdrew, and acting on the advice of one of our scientific personnel, we proceeded to an . . . unsanctioned
colony. Criminals and terrorists, in the most part, but the world had ended. We came to an agreement and they had a couple of ships—including an old Orion
Saul and Bill both jerked and Sidewinder nodded. “She’s ancient and she’s small, but she flies and her guns work. Turns out their leadership had a lead on some more ships,” and Sidewinder pursed his lips. “Ships that Admiral Cain stripped of their drives and then departed leaving their passengers to die in deep space.”
And at that, even Roslin looked down—Saul winced, and Bill Adama just nodded.
“We recovered the video evidence of the crimes aboard those ships—and the mass suicide of the survivors after Cain left them behind,” Sidewinder paused. “I believe that Commander Lorne intended to arrest Helena Cain for her crimes if he ever found her.”
Saul Tigh snorted. “Pegasus
outguns a Valkyrie
-class ship two-to-one, easily, Captain Greene.”
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, Colonel; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. And trust me—all of the Scorpia
’s crew has plenty of fight over this . . . atrocity
she committed on our own civilians.”
“We had plenty of fuel and supplies—we could have run,” Sidewinder continued, “but Commander Lorne felt we had a duty. To the survivors. We went back to the Colonies and by some act of the gods, we managed to make the Cylons pull back—long enough to recover survivors from nearly every world. There are almost fifty-five hundred aboard the seven ships we have.”
“Including Caprica?” Kara Thrace asked, brushing off Lee’s hand on her arm. “What about Caprica.”
Sidewinder smiled. “We’ve got your boyfriend Sam Anders aboard Scorpia
, Starbuck,” he said lightly. “The man cannot stop talking about you.”
And then the smile faded. “Information from the resistance fighters on the different worlds led us to identify one human-form Cylon—a Brother Cavil, a priest.”
Lee Adama jerked. “What was that name again?”
“John Cavil,” said Sidewinder.
His face paled. “Admiral, there is a John Cavil aboard Galactica
—he’s conducting services in the chapel.”
“Go,” Bill Adama growled. And both Lee and Kara took off from the brig at a run.
“We nuked Delphi,” Sidewinder continued, and Laura gasped.
“Did I understand you correctly, Captain Greene? You used a nuclear weapon
on the sacred city of Delphi
“Yes, ma’am. There was a large concentration of Cylons there and Commander Lorne hoped that the sudden death might disrupt their networks—it did, and allowed us to retrieve the survivors. After that, we jumped out. We proceeded to a star emitting Ragnar-type radiation, where we thought we could take a moment to gather ourselves and decide on what to do. But we discovered Cerberus Station—a secret Fleet research base. Long story short, Admiral Trahn was working with the Cylons—we destroyed Cerberus and the Bezrek
joined our flotilla.”
“You’ve got a Bezrek
-class Fleet Operations Support vessel in your group?” Saul snapped, his eyes going wide. “With full tanks and holds? The industrial fabrication plant? The tylium processing plant?”
“Far from full, Colonel—but she has enough.”
“Continue,” Bill Adama said.
“The Cavil that we have cooperated with us; he provided us with information that allowed Commander Lorne to identify all known Cylon models—and he informed us that Galactica
had survived and were on the run with a sizeable number of civilians. Using his information, we launched attacks on two of their Resurrection Ships—we got ours, but I don’t know if Scorpia
’s attack was successful or not,” and he snorted. “But considering how agitated they were when my Raptors jumped in, I’d bet the Commander got his as well.”
“Then we misjumped and your pilots found us.”
Laura and Bill looked at each and then the Admiral nodded. “You know what all of the Cylon infiltrators look like?”
“I do, Sir—I was part of that briefing.”
“And there are Twelve of them?”
“Thirteen, actually,” Sidewinder said. “Admiral Adama, Madame President, may I speak with you in private?” he asked.
Laura cocked one eyebrow and she looked at Bill. “Saul, could you give us a minute?” the Admiral asked.
“I’ll be outside with the Marines,” he said, glaring at two prisoners.
Sidewinder waited until the hatch had closed and then he sighed. “Admiral, check your archival records for a civilian shuttle named Joyita
doesn’t have it, Pegasus
had them, at least.”
“And the records will show us . . . what, exactly, Captain Greene?” Adama asked.
“Look at the passenger manifest—the photos of the passengers, Sir. I . . .,” he paused. “I don’t want to go further without proof in hand. Sir. I do ask that only you, or the President, examine the records. No one else, Sir.”
“Very well,” said the Admiral. He turned to Laura and he shrugged. And she shook her head.
“I want to believe you, Captain Greene—believe me, I do want
to believe you. But I find it hard to imagine that one ship managed to accomplish so much in such a short time.”
Sidewinder snorted. “It’s true. If I were lying, wouldn’t I have come up with something simpler?”
“You might have,” Laura said with that crooked smile of hers. “Or you might believe that such a convoluted tale might have more credibility.”
There was a rap on the brig hatch and Bill walked over and cracked it; he whispered to Saul outside and then he opened the hatch and Karl Agathon walked in—he looked at the prisoners and he smiled, “Hello Stefan.”
Sidewinder’s face split into a grin. “Hiya, Karl—been a while. Those captain’s tabs look good on you.”
“Admiral, Madame President,” Karl said. “I went through Raptor School with Captain Greene—we were roommates for the EWO course,” he paused. “I never seen the other officer, but I know Sidewinder.”
Laura blinked and she drew in a deep breath. Admiral Adama nodded and then he smiled. “Madame President, I think that we can let them out of the cell, now,” he said with a broad smile.
She nodded, not trusting her throat all of a sudden, and when the cell was unlocked, she walked up and hugged—hugged—Kaboose, as Sidewinder and Helo shook hands and then clapped each other’s shoulders.
“You have no idea, how happy I am that others have survived,” she said.
Kaboose just stood there, and finally he said, “No, ma’am,” and he hugged her back.