Adama was angry—Sherman Cottle knew the man well enough to read him even when he tried to conceal it, but today, Bill Adama wasn’t trying to conceal anything. He shook his head. “She ruptured the knee again, Admiral,” he said as he lit a cigarette. “She won’t be flying anytime soon—but the good news? Once the swelling goes down and she rehabilitates the knee she should be back in good health. The bone didn’t break and none of the ligaments or tendons are torn—just badly bruised. Sidewinder has two bruised ribs, one might be cracked, and some fairly solid contusions as well. I’m surprised he doesn’t have a concussion from that kick she landed one he was down.”
The Admiral didn’t say a word—he didn’t have to. And Cottle sighed as he released an exhale filled with smoke. “He didn’t start it, Admiral—and according to Tyrol and the pilots, he tried to walk away.”
Adama nodded and he walked across the surgery to the bed where Sidewinder sat, a nurse tightly wrapping his ribs in a bandage. Saul Tigh stood there, along with the Sergeant Hadrian—the Master-at-Arms of Galactica
“Lords know I have wanted to take a swing at her myself,” he heard Saul say, and then the XO laughed. “Hells, I think I did
once. But, you went over the line, Captain Greene—what would your Commander do to you if you pulled a stunt like this on his ship?”
“Thirty days in hack, along with tearing a strip off of my ass,” the pilot said with a wince as the nurse pulled the tape tight.
“I expect better from my officers, Captain Greene,” Adama growled. “If you have a problem with Starbuck, you bring it to my
attention—you do not get into fisticuffs on the hanger deck.”
“I tried to walk away, Admiral—she wouldn’t let it go,” Sidewinder said, and Adama glared at him. The problem was, both he and Starbuck had very aggressive and dominant personalities—Lee had managed to avoid that (for the most part) during his stint as CAG, but from what he had seen of Stefan Greene, Adama doubted that he knew how to back down in the face of a physical threat. And Starbuck, he sighed. Starbuck knew how to push people’s buttons and she had an extreme
dislike for spit-and-polish officers, even before the Cylon attack. And a penchant for throwing away the rules when they didn’t suit her.
He shook his head. “I need to know two things: first, did you deliberately aim for her knee?”
“No, sir,” Sidewinder said softly, his face reflecting the shock he felt at the extent of Kara’s injuries. “I was on the deck, and she kicked at my head, and I just lashed out trying to get her off her feet. I did not deliberately attempt to break her knee.”
“Second, were you aware that Racetrack was already trying to scrounge the supplies and gear you berated Captain Thrace for ignoring?”
Sidewinder’s head popped up. “No,” he snapped, a hint of anger in his eyes. “Neither of them bothered
to mention that at the briefing before the incident.”
“She was getting everything except the fuel—you are aware that the Fleet has a fuel shortage, yes?”
“I am . . . but even sixty drop-tanks is a miniscule amount compared to the tylium the rest of the Fleet expends—and for an operation of this type, we need all the reserve we can get.”
“I would suggest, Captain, that in the future, you do not publically second-guess the CAG unless you know all the facts,” Adama said, and Greene’s eyes flashed.
“A question, Sir. Did Captain Thrace order Racetrack to prep the Raptors? Or was she just assuming
that someone else would do her job?”
“You are this close,” Bill growled, holding two fingers apart, “to an extended stay in hack, Mister Greene.”
“That wasn’t an answer, Admiral,” the pilot said. “Whether or not Racetrack was covering her ass—Starbuck
dropped the ball. And Racetrack should have informed me
—or did you just put in command of your Raptors as a token gesture to my rank?”
“Saul, get him out of here,” the Admiral growled.
“His quarters or hack?” Tigh asked with a slight grin on his lips.
“Put him back in his berth for now,” Bill ordered. “And Mister Greene, you stay
there until further notice.” And with that, he walked over the curtain surrounding the bed in which Kara Thrace lay.
He parted the curtains and looked down on the woman that lay there, her right leg elevated, the knee swollen—again. She looked up at him and Adama could see the tear-stains on her cheeks. “I fracked up,” she said. “I know—I fracked up.”
“Cottle says you should recover fine, Kara,” he said. “But you won’t be flying for a while. You want to tell me what possessed you to confront Sidewinder in such a public setting—and why you took a swing at him?”
“I-I,” she started and then she sighed. “He’s a by-the-fracking-book asshole,” she finally spit out.
Adama shook his head. “No, he is an alpha-male, just like you—despite your gender. And you are used to having Helo or Lee as your equals and superiors, and neither of them are nearly
as aggressive as you are. They are willing to back down and let you have your way—most of the time. But he’s not. And he does believe in doing things by the book, Kara,” Bill said softly. “You don’t. You see the regs as hindrance that gets in the way, he sees them as a vital necessity to maintain order—and you don’t like that.”
“Sir, I,” she began, and Adama waved one hand.
“You don’t, Kara. It’s the same problem you have with Cole Taylor and that you had with Jackson Spencer before he bought it at Caprica. Is that why you went behind his back and assigned Racetrack to prep the Raptors—and didn’t tell him?”
She squirmed, but the harsh glare in her eyes died away, and she sighed. “I wasn’t even thinking about that, Admiral,” she said. “Since Helo got reassigned, I just let Racetrack handle the Raptor stuff, while I focused on the Viper pilots.”
“And so you cut him out of the loop—whether or not you realize it—because you don’t like him and see him as a threat.”
She stared and Bill and he nodded. “Why do you think I put him in command of the Raptor squadron, Captain Thrace?”
“Because you need pilots, Sir, and he outranks any other Raptor pilot on Galactica
“Did you ever consider that maybe I wanted some of the qualities he possesses to rub off on the Raptor pilots, Kara?”
She just stared at the Admiral, and he chuckled. “Oh, he’s an ass. But he also has a point about the . . . looseness
which we treat some regulations on this ship. But now, I’ve got a crippled CAG and a Raptor CO who put her in surgery—and that is because you pressed the issue, Kara. He gave you the opportunity to take it private, and you wouldn’t let it go. You took the first swing, from all accounts.”
“And he deliberately kicked my knee!” she snarled.
“He lashed out after you had him down on the deck and kicked him in the head, Starbuck,” Adama corrected, and he sighed. “And now I’ve got to clean up this mess again. He has a point about the fuel, you know.”
And she squirmed under Bill’s glare, and then she nodded. “Yeah,” she admitted. “He has a point—I originally planned this SAR to go back to Caprica. The Raptors have enough fuel to fly that mission and back, and I didn’t refigure my calculations for having to fly search patterns for Scorpia
Bill smiled. “For now, I want you to rest up and get better, Kara.”
“Are you putting that asshole in as CAG while I’m laid up?” she asked.
“Who do you think can do the job?”
“Kat,” she said. “Kat can do it.”
“She just made squadron commander,” Adama said. “And she’s a lot like you, Kara. Can she handle the paperwork?” and he shook his head. “I was thinking . . . Helo.”
“You grounded him,” she said, her eyes going wide.
“To give him time to get over what is going on with Sharon and his child—the child he lost. To pull him away from the whisperings behind his back,” he cocked his head. “You think he can’t do the job? I could always make Captain Greene CAG instead?”
“Oh, the Viper pilots will go nuts. Might as well transfer, Cole ‘my-shit-doesn’t-stink’ Taylor onboard and put him in charge. No, Sir. Helo will do fine.”
“One last thing, Kara. When you get on your feet, I expect both you and Sidewinder to publically apologize to the other—on the hanger deck,” he said sternly. “And I don’t ever want to see this happen again. Understood?”
“Understood,” she said.
Bill put his hand on her shoulder and he nodded. And then he walked away.