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Old February 14 2013, 01:59 AM   #176
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Samantha Caldwell braced to attention as the hatch of the Raptor swung open and Colonel—no, Commander—Saul Tigh stepped out briskly onto the deck. She took one step forward and saluted, which the old bald man returned solemnly.

“Walk with me,” he said without a single look at the receiving party, and Sam had to stretch her legs to keep pace with the old man as he began to climb the ladders en route towards CIC.

“How’s Lorne?”

“No word yet, Sir,” she answered, “he’s still being operated on.”

“Damn shame,” Saul whispered as he ignored the men and women gazing on their new Commander and his XO, “but he had—has,” he said with a wince, “the highest regard for you. Now, personally? I think your choice of an alternate career was abysmal, Colonel Caldwell—but that is water under the bridge. I am no Mathias Lorne, nor am I one of those rear-echelon mother-frackers that caused you so many problems. So starting right now, you and I are both getting a fresh slate—Pegasus is getting a fresh slate. I hope that you are as good as Lorne and Jayne claim you are, because I am going to work you, Colonel. If you have a problem with that, tell me now.”

“No problem, Commander, Sir,” she said as she half-jogged with her shorter legs to keep pace.

Saul’s lips twisted as they reached another series of ladders and ascended up through the decks towards the CIC buried in the center of the tremendous alligator head of the Battlestar. “Good. I’ve been an XO longer than you’ve been an officer, Colonel. I know every way an XO can slack off and frack up because I’ve been there; I’ve done that by the fracking numbers. If you have a problem that you cannot handle, you have no business being an XO on a Battlestar. Problems are your job, Colonel Caldwell, and I expect you to deal with them. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” she answered.

The two reached the deck where CIC was located and climbed through the hatches that sealed off the ladders during battle, and then Saul Tigh walked into CIC through the sliding glass doors as the Marine guards snapped to attention and saluted.

“Put me on the 1MC,” he ordered brusquely without a pause as he walked over the central console and lifted a phone.

“You are live, Commander,” a junior officer answered.

Saul raised the phone as he had seen William Adama do so very many times before—the cord wrapped around the handle, and the pick-up held close to his mouth. And he began to speak.

“Attention to orders!” he barked. “By direction of Admiral William Adama, I, Saul Tigh, Commander, Colonial Fleet do hereby assume command of Battlestar Pegasus and responsibility for all officers and crew embarked aboard. That means, for all of you who are lagging behind in the comprehension department, that I have just become your Master after the Gods—and on this ship, if it comes down to a choice between obeying my orders or following your gods, you had best be snapping to in order to carry out my will. Most of you already know who I am—and for those of you so clueless as to not know of me, I will now tell you.”

“I flew Vipers during the First Cylon War—I flew off of the deck of Battlestar Athena, among others. I have seen men and women die, I have seen my friends die, I have seen ships die, and I witnessed with my own eyes the death of our Homeworlds. Our Twelve Colonies. It has become evident to anyone looking from the outside at this ship, that you—each of you—are dealing with that same pain. Of losing friends. Lovers. Family.”

“I understand that pain—I have felt that pain. However, from this moment on, we are each of us putting that pain aside. We must—or the pain will consume us.”

“Do you believe that ships have souls?” Saul asked. “I do.”

Galactica out there, she has a soul. As maimed and butchered as she is today, she came home after every mission—she protected those under her guardianship. She remembers every single man and woman who served on her deck. I know that she does. I can feel it when I touch her frames, her bulkheads, her decks.”

“So to does this ship, Battlestar Pegasus, possess a soul. The soul of this ship is angry. It is bitter at what has been done. To her. To those under her care. To those held in her brig. By the men and women who served aboard her.”

“The soul of this ship cries out in anguish. Because this is not what Pegasus was meant to be. We cannot change the past—none of us can do that. But we can change the future.”

“Starting today, we will restore this ship her soul—and by doing so, we will regain a measure of our own. The past is over. Those responsible for crimes have been punished. There will be no more said. There will be no more scorn heaped upon you. There will be no more shame. Because we are going to show everyone in this Fleet, every creature in this universe, how bright the soul of Pegasus can shine.”

“Starting this minute, we are going to lay aside the past and we are going to restore to this ship and crew their honor . . . their pride . . . their souls,” and Saul looked around the CIC at the faces of each and every crewman, who stared back at the man they realized at last they had never truly known. “If you think this is beyond you, turn in your resignation. Otherwise, suck it up and do your duty. Colonel Caldwell will be your Executive Officer—she is from this moment onward the right hand of God on this ship, and she speaks with my authority. She will deal with each of you—and Lords help you if you come to my attention.”

“There are some who think me nothing but a drunk. A failure. A copy of Saul Tigh that they Cylons made. There are some who think this ship has disgraced herself so much as to be beyond all redemption.”

“THEY. ARE. WRONG!” Saul thundered into the pick-up, his voice echoing throughout the Battlestar. “And together, we will prove them wrong.”

“CONTACT! Multiple contacts on DRADIS!” one of the officers sang out, and his face blanched. “Eighteen plus Basestars—launching Raiders,” he reported.

“This is your Commander speaking. Sound Action Stations throughout the ship. Set Condition One in all compartments.”

And Sam unracked her own phone. “This is the XO. Sound Action Stations throughout the ship. Set Condition One in all compartments.”

Red battle lights replaced the normal illumination in CIC as the klaxon sounded.

“Flight, CIC,” Saul ordered. “Scramble our fighters—get them out of the tubes. Guns, clear for action.”

Officers raced around CIC as the ship’s gun turrets came to life and auxiliary monitors and stations were manned.

“Today we are not running. Today, we will make a down payment on retrieving our souls—and the soul of Pegasus,” Saul barked into the wireless. “There are two hundred and fifty-seven million people—civilians of the Thirteenth Tribe living on that planet behind us. And today,” he thundered. “Today! We will not run. Today we FIGHT!”

“My name is Saul Tigh. I am an officer in the Colonial Fleet. Whatever else I am, whatever else I was, whatever else this shit means, that is the man I want to be. And if I die today, that is the man I will be. And whatever else this ship has done, today, Pegasus will be the ship she was meant to be.”

Saul racked the phone and he turned to face Sam Caldwell, who nodded. “Orders from Galactica,” she said as she passed across a piece of paper.

Saul scanned the lines and then he smiled.

“Mister Hoshi,” he barked. “Pegasus will advance behind our fighter screen with Scorpia in support. Let’s go kill some fracking toasters.”
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