Lee rapped on the hatch to his father’s quarters on Galactica
. He had a feeling that he already knew what this was going to be about—scuttlebutt had spread the story of the fight between Starbuck and Sidewinder over to Pegasus
within a half-hour of the incident—and Kara was laid up with her knee dislocated again. In fact, he and Kendra Shaw and Cole Taylor had been going over personnel to assign to this mission—possibly to take command of the mission—when the call from the Admiral had come to shuttle over for a personal meeting.
“Come,” his father’s voice was muted through the door, but Lee opened the hatch and walked in—and he smiled as he saw that Laura Roslin was already sitting down opposite his father’s desk.
“You wanted to see me, Admiral?” he reported, and then he nodded to Laura. “Madame President.”
“Take a seat, Lee,” the Admiral said. “You’ve heard about the frack-up on the hanger deck?”
Lee nodded. “Sounds like the old Kara came out,” he answered.
Bill snorted. “She won’t be flying for a while—and that leaves me with a problem. I need someone to lead the mission. Sidewinder is going—so is his EWO—but frankly, I’m pissed at him for letting this escalate and I want one of my
people in charge.”
“I’m appointing him CAG, giving Kara a chance to heal up and cool off. He’d fly it, but right now he’s trying to calm down the pilots who want to ‘avenge’ Starbuck,” Adama said sourly.
“Oh Lords,” Lee whispered. “Let me guess? Kat? Hotdog? Racetrack? I can’t see Duck getting involved—but to the newer pilots, Kara is queen of the hill.”
“I’ve got Helo and Saul,” and Laura pursed her lips at the name of the Colonel, “both working on getting them sorted out—there won’t be any ‘accidents’ on Galactica
. And the pilots have been told I am going to come down like the hand of the Gods if one more person starts something.”
Lee nodded and he looked at the President. She hadn’t breathed a word about the Hidden Five as he and his father had dubbed the Cylons that weren’t aware they were Cylons. But she had assigned Tory Foster as Gaius Baltar’s chief of staff—ostensibly to make sure he didn’t pull any dirty tricks in the election, but actually to get her off of Colonial One
. Her new aide, Maya, wasn’t as sharp politically as Tory was, but Laura had insisted to her old aide that she needed her to watch over Gaius.
It was a lie, of course. The truth of the matter was that Laura simply could not ignore that Tory was a Cylon—but to keep the secret she had found a way to get the woman away from her. A way that made sense, after a fashion.
“I thought that may be why you wanted to see me. How about George?”
“Catman? You want me to put Captain George Birch as the command pilot on this mission when he can’t even conduct in-flight refueling without fracking up?” Adama asked.
“He wasn’t qualified for CAG when I . . .,” and Lee winced, “staged my mutiny to support the President, Admiral. You put a lot of pressure on him—but he’s a good pilot.”
“That may be, Lee,” said Laura, “but there is another factor we need to consider, which is why I asked your father to bring you across. We have to consider the . . . politics
of the situation—military politics as well as civilian. Certainly the force we send to make contact with this Commander Lorne must represent us at our best—that is why I want you
to command the mission.”
Lee blinked, and then his face contorted into a shock and surprised look. “I am the commanding officer of Pegasus
, Madame President. I have responsibilities.”
“You do—to the Fleet as well as your ship, Lee,” she said and looked at his father, who sighed.
“Major Shaw should be able to handle Pegasus
in your absence, Lee. And from what little Saul and I know of Mathias Lorne, you will be a far more convincing ambassador than Kara Thrace—or Karl Agathon. I am promoting Felix Gaeta to Captain—he’s past due for promotion anyway—and will assign him to Pegasus
temporarily as Shaw’s second,” the Admiral said as he looked at his son. “And when this mission returns with Scorpia
and her ships in tow, I have to be certain that the person leading my pilots will tell me everything
I, and the President, need to know about that ship and her crew. I can trust you
, Lee—far more than I will ever trust George Birch. Besides, you are far more likely to get their people to open up than George or Kara. You are our best face, as the President put it, and I am asking you—not ordering you—to do this.”
Lee exhaled and he sat back in his chair. “I need to get with Kendra and Cole then—and Felix—and get them up to speed. And then, I probably need to look over the mission plan,” he snorted. “Knowing Starbuck, it is drawn up on cocktail napkins.”
The Admiral chuckled. “She’s in the surgery—Sidewinder is in his berth. Lee, you know how important this is—good hunting,” he said as he stood.
Lee stood as well. “Madame President, Admiral. When do we depart?”
“Twenty-four hours, so get things squared away, son.”
“Can do,” he said and he nodded again, walked to the hatch, and into the corridor. And he exhaled again. Right, he thought, time to get to work.