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Old February 14 2013, 12:22 AM   #175
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

“We got it!” shouted Lee after the hatch on his father’s cabin was closed behind him, “We managed to hammer out an agree- . . .,” and he saw the looks on the faces of Admiral Adama, Colonel Tigh, and Romo Lampkin, and he sighed. “What has gone wrong now?”

“Commander Lorne was shot by one of his officers aboard Pegasus during your meeting, Lee,” the elder Adama said bluntly.

“WHAT!” snapped Lee and Tom at the same exact time, and Saul Tigh snorted.

“Myklos Zahn confronted the Commander, in front of witnesses, and when Lorne walked off,” Tigh explained, “he pulled a pistol from inside his jacket and shot him in the back.”

Lee just stood there and his jaw worked. “Captain Zahn? He mostly stayed in engineering! I don’t think I saw him except on three occasions during my stint aboard Pegasus.”

“His brother is one of those that Cain’s recordings confirmed took part in the rape of Gina Inviere,” Romo Lampkin said in a melancholy voice. “Witness statements show that he was rather . . . confrontational about his brother being sentenced to fifteen years and discharged without honor from the Fleet.”

Lee blinked. He had signed off yesterday on the plea agreements—all eighty-one of the accused had accepted the deals. And then he closed his eyes and quickly recited an old half-remembered prayer under his breath.

“He was shot? Not killed?” asked Tom quietly.

“He is in critical condition in the surgery on Pegasus,” whispered Tigh. “Fifty-fifty if he lives or dies through the night. Either way, we have problems—more fracking problems.”

“This cannot go unanswered,” Tom said just as quietly. “Jon Namer and his people—my people,” the Vice-President stressed, “think the world of the man. If this incident is covered up . . .,” and his voice trailed off.

“Captain Zahn is under close arrest and will stand a courts-martial—and probably a firing squad,” Adama snapped, his face flushed with anger and frustration. “Rest assured, this is will NOT go unanswered, Mister Vice President.”

“We need to find a new Commander for Pegasus, Bill,” Saul said softly. And then he laughed bitterly. “Lords of Kobol, I think that ship is cursed. This will be the sixth commanding officer in just eighty-three days; gods be damned.”

Lampkin snorted. “Gods help whoever you put in there—you are averaging what? Sixteen or seventeen days between leadership changes?”

“The question is who?” asked Adama. “Thorean is still recovering from his incarnation by the Cylons on Caprica—Foeswan hasn’t served aboard a Battlestar in twelve years and his temperament isn’t right for that ship anyway. He’s an excellent officer in his current role, but he is an engineer, not a pilot or tactical track. Caldwell?”

“She was just promoted to Colonel as XO of Pegasus, right?” asked Tom, and Adama nodded. “I like the woman—Namer says she’s good, but . . .,” and once again, he did not complete his thought.

“But she’s been out of the Colonial Fleet for too long and isn’t quite ready to step in as Commander, Pegasus,” said Colonel Tigh sourly. “I know she was wronged, but damn if I am not still leery of her after her association wi- . . .,” and his voice trailed off, before he shook his head and nodded at Tom Zarek. “No offense, Mister Vice-President.”

“None taken, Colonel Tigh,” Tom said.

Lee cleared his throat. “Actually, I have a suggestion, Admiral.”

Bill Adama looked up and he raised an eyebrow. “Planning on dropping out of the Presidential race and resuming command?”

“No, Sir,” Lee said. “I am actually happy now—and I have the time to spend with Gianne and Evelyn Sophia,” and the Admiral’s expression softened at the mention of his daughter-in-law and grand-daughter. Then Lee winced. “You aren’t going to like it, Admiral.”

“Spit it out, Lee,” his father growled.

“Transfer and promote Colonel Tigh,” he said breathlessly and then shut his mouth.

Saul Tigh stared at him—the Admiral stared at him. Romo Lampkin and Tom Zarek stared at him.

“I utterly fracked up the last time I commanded a Battlestar, Apollo!” Tigh thundered. “I’m not fit for command!”

But the Admiral merely held up on hand and Lee drew in a deep breath before he continued. “Colonel Tigh, you are—with few exceptions—perhaps the most experienced officer in this Fleet. Yes, when my father was shot, you fracked up badly. By the Demons of the Underworld,” Lee said with a grim smile, “I mutinied against you. But since Scorpia and her ships arrived, you have sobered up—you have thrown yourself into this job as the XO of Galactica. How much of that is due to you wanting to prove that you are Saul fracking Tigh and not some Cylon creation—that doesn’t matter. What does matter, Colonel, Admiral, is that you are the best candidate for this job.”

“Leave Caldwell as his XO?” the elder Adama asked, and Lee nodded.

“Bill you cannot be serious,” Saul began, but Adama held up his hand again.

“Colonel Tigh,” Lee continued, “this is not like the last time. Admiral Adama is still here, he is still in command—you aren’t alone. And you won’t frack this job up.”

“The Gemenons will go ape,” Tom said as he shook his head, “but if we play this right, we can get most of the rest—most of them—behind this. Emphasize that Admiral Adama remains in control and that we support Tigh—fully. All four of us will have to,” he added, looking at Lampkin and Lee and Bill Adama. And each nodded.

“It is a military decision, but for what it is worth, I will endorse it—so long as the good Commander Tigh isn’t planning on declaring martial law again,” Lampkin said in a sour voice.

“It all comes down to this—Saul, are you willing to finally take the last step and assume command of your own ship?” asked the Admiral.

Saul Tigh sat down and he exhaled heavily. “I was never going to get a command in the Fleet—this was my last post, and only because you pulled the strings. I have never wanted command,” and his expression died, “not since the end of the First War, when I realized how hopeless that dream was,” he finished quietly.

“Want a drink?” asked Bill softly.

And Saul’s eyes flashed and he licked his lips. “Damn straight—but I’m not going to have one.” He stopped and the room was silent for a minute, then two. And finally he nodded. “Is this what you want, Bill?” he whispered in a very quiet voice.

“No, Saul, this is not what I want,” answered Bill Adama, looking at his friend. “But I am afraid that this is very much what Pegasus needs.”

Another long pause, and then Saul Tigh nodded. And suddenly he began to laugh.

As everyone stared at him, he leaned back and smiled. “Thank the gods we lost fashion stores and strip malls—otherwise Ellen would spend every last penny of my paycheck on a new wardrobe. She will be speechless—after all these years, she will finally be the wife of a Battlestar Commander. You do realize that she is going leaving Galactica and heading over there with me, right?”

“That, my friend,” said Admiral Adama with a smile of his own, “is what I call a benefit of inestimable value,” and he laughed. Saul Tigh joined him, and then soon enough, did the other three men in the room.
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