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05 October 2010 @ 11:50 pm
Under a Shadowed Sky, Chapter Four  
Under a Shadowed Sky

(Previous chapter)

Chapter Four

Gaeta came on duty and though he tried to hide it, Dee saw a strange resolute expression on his face as he took his station and glanced at Adama.

But then duty interrupted her train of thought as she noticed an odd launch. "Sir? Something launched from the flight deck and I can't authenticate in the flight log. And it has no transponder running."

"Are you sure?" Gaeta asked her. "I saw something earlier."

"You did? All right, I'll check again." She started to key through, looking for an updated log she might have missed. There was nothing. When she keyed the chief's line on deck, there was no answer.

She was about to report this, when Hoshi reported a fire near the wireless array.

"Admiral, it might not be an accident," Gaeta offered.

The admiral nodded agreement and ordered marines to accompany damage control. Then with a deeper frown, looked around CIC and then at her. "Lieutenant," Adama instructed her, "locate the colonel, remind him of his schedule."

The colonel was usually punctual. He was already ten minutes late. That couldn't be good.

"Yes, sir." No one picked up in Tigh's quarters. She tried the all-hands, calling for him to contact CIC. There was no answer.

Frowning worriedly, she turned, "Admiral? Sir, he's not responding to the all-hands."

"Order out a security detail to find the colonel," Adama ordered Gaeta. "It can't be hard to find someone with giant wings."

Gaeta sent out the order and they were all forced to wait. What could have happened to him? In conjunction with the fire, it couldn't be good.

When she got a response, it wasn't the one she was looking for. She listened to the report in horror and turned to the Admiral, and her hands were shaking. "Sir. Someone from Baltar's group found the colonel. He's ... he's dead, sir."

Adama stared at her for a heartbeat and barked, "Where?"

"In the head, two-alpha," she stammered.

Adama blanched and seized the edge of the counter, then recovered enough to order Gaeta, "Lieutenant, you have the conn. Contact Helo and have him meet me there." He left CIC, and she was glad to see Gaeta nod at two marines to follow him as a protective detail.

The room seemed much colder and quieter when he was gone. She keyed in the Agathons' quarters quickly, realizing that they might be in danger also. Sharon picked up. "Athena."

"Dualla in CIC. Admiral wants Helo at the two-alpha head. The colonel's been murdered. Watch yourselves."

There was a tiny hesitation and Athena answered. "Understood."

Dee clicked off, hoping they'd be safe. Gaeta glanced at her, looking irritated as if she wasn't supposed to warn Athena, a Cylon, that somebody had just murdered another Cylon?

Gaeta started murmuring into the wireless, and she realized he hadn't asked her if she knew more about the colonel.

Did he already know the colonel had been found with a rope around his neck?

But before she had a chance to do something about it, a group of armed marines, led by Lieutenant Aaron Kelly - who was supposed to be in hack - came onto CIC. "Nobody do anything stupid," he ordered.

"What are you doing, Felix?" she exclaimed, as the full realization came over her with cold horror. He had planned it all. "How can you do this?"

"I'm sorry," he said, not sounding sorry at all. "Take Lieutenant Dualla and any one else who doesn't understand what we're trying to do to the brig. Don't let them get in the way. We have a ship to take."

"Felix!" Hoshi protested. "No!"

Gaeta's face hardened. "I have to. It's the only way."

"You can't win," she protested loudly. "You won't. This is foolish!"

"We can do it. We'll clear the Cylon sympathizers and the dictatorship of Roslin and Adama out of the way and find our own path," he declared the words loudly.

"Oh Felix..." she started, helpless in the face of his despair.

His lip curled and he turned away from her sympathy. "Get them out of here."

Her last view of CIC was of Felix' haggard face and shadowed eyes, as he talked on the wireless to someone else in the middle of his coup.

* * *

After hanging around with Costanza in the mess, Sam grabbed the pyramid ball and went to the backstop to throw. Kara was off on CAP, and since he wasn't a pilot anymore, he didn't have much else to do. He'd rather fly, but at best he could glide down on the flight deck and he couldn't do that while the deck was busy. Pyramid was his next best choice for moving around.

He paused at the hatch, remembering long hours of obsessive crafting of the perfectly regulation backstop. Jean had helped -- staying with him, talking, doing things he couldn't with the brace on. But Jean was dead and this backstop was one of the last things she'd touched on this ship.

His fingers traced the edge, wishing she was there, even if he was glad she'd never known her teammate had turned out to be a Cylon. He wanted to believe she'd have come to understand, but he had never found a way to tell her, afraid her hate would turn against him.

Sighing, he moved back to the penalty line and threw. He hit more than he missed, though his stats were bad enough to have sent him down to minors. His stance, balance, rotation -- all of it was slightly off. He knew he could correct for it with enough practice, but right now he threw no better than an average high schooler.

It made him irritated enough to throw again, trying to find that sweet spot, until footsteps in the open hatchway announced a visitor. He turned, curious to see who it might be.

Seelix came in. He wanted to smile at her, but he hadn't exchanged a word with her since the news that he was a Cylon or Earth. He was pretty sure she'd been avoiding him. He greeted, "'morning."

"You still play pyramid?" she asked, and moved farther in the room. He held the ball in his hand and turned to follow her. "I wouldn't have thought you'd bother anymore."

He gave a bit of a shrug. "It's what I know. My throw's changed, because of the wings. So I'm practicing to get my form back."

She ignored the invitation to banter with him. "Remember how we'd play in Joe's?" she asked.

Gods, he hated that stupid bar game. Everyone always expected him to do well, not realizing Pyramid X was only superficially similar to the pro version, and the two throwing motions were nothing alike.

She went on, "I thought those were good times. Were they good times for you?"

"I was drunk most of the time," he answered, not willing to classify them as 'good times' when Kara had been gone, his leg had hurt, and he'd thought he was going crazy from that frakking song. He'd done everything possible to try to forget all of it.

She stopped in front of the backstop and turned to face him. "I guess it was all a lie, wasn't it?" she asked.

It wasn't the question so much as the little smile on her lips that made his stomach tighten in visceral warning. He whirled around to see two armored marines come in and shut the hatch behind them. Both Nowart and Gage had the same eager looks on their faces.

"We have orders," Seelix said behind him, her voice turning cold as the pretended friendliness dropped away. "All you feathered freaks need to go. But nobody said how."

He didn't bother talking, knowing if he stayed in this room he was dead. He rushed them. He threw the pyramid ball at Nowart's face, and a fist into Gage's. He was almost at the hatch, when Seelix grabbed a handful of feathers. It stopped him and pulled him off balance, but he pulled free, staggering at the pain as the feathers were ripped out at the root. But then he was loose and got one hand on the hatch.

Gage tackled him into the bulkhead, and Sam struggled and fought to stay on his feet, clutching on the hatch wheel and moving the wings to keep them back. It worked for two seconds until someone grabbed the end bone, and in a sudden panic, he yanked free and turned around to protect the wings. A hard fist hit him on the side of his face and then his stomach, and he doubled over, gasping for air. They grabbed him again, and his return blows seemed to do nothing to them against their armor.

They dragged him across the floor and shoved him face-first into the backstop. He tried to keep them back, leave the wings alone, by beating them furiously.

But Seelix grabbed into his feathers, catching the middle bone in both hands. "No! Don't!" he blurted and froze, hoping the surrender would stop her. "Please."

The bone snapped. A sickening jolt of pain made him cry out and sag into the backstop.

"That's for my friend Gaeta," she whispered into his ear. "You toaster son of a bitch. But I've got parents, three sisters, and lot more family you toasters butchered. Maybe when we get done you'll get why I hate your kind."

Any attempt to move his wings made ribbons of fire shoot through him from the broken bone and he had to breathe through his mouth to keep from throwing up, as nausea came over him in waves. He could only weakly resist as they tied his hands together, over his head, securing him to the backstop.

When he was immobilized, Seelix's hands made a terrible mockery of the gentle smoothing motion Kara liked to pet his feathers with. Every breath and beat of his heart echoed in his broken wing, and he shivered convulsively.

"We weren't part of the attacks," he protested. "I'm from Earth, the Thirteenth Tribe--"

She grabbed the broken one and pulled it straight, making him choke out another cry. "You're worse than them. Sent here to destroy us. It's not going to work: Colonel's probably dead already. Vireem and some buddies are after Tyrol. Adama's taken. And Starbuck's on the list, too, when she gets back, so if you're dreaming of her rescuing you, give it up. She'll be dead before you."

Then she grabbed the chain and cord that held his tags, twisting it and snapping them off, burning a line along his neck. "Makes me sick thinking of you in the fleet, toaster." He heard the tags drop to the floor somewhere behind him and her fingers clutched into his hair, pulling his head back, and she whispered, "You almost got me to frak you. I’m gonna take my time."

As she started to yank out the long pinions, he bit his lip to keep back any noise, though he couldn't stop the flinch each time she wrenched one out.

His cheek was throbbing against the smooth surface. He shut his eyes, despair welling up inside the pain. They were going to kill Kara when she came back from CAP. He couldn't warn her, and she couldn't help him. No one could help him. No one knew he was here, and if they did, no one cared. No one was coming to rescue him.

He was alone.

* * * *

Dee prowled the brig restlessly, arms folded. Outside Gaeta was being stupid, and worse, she could hear gunfire and knew it was getting bloody.

Oh gods, Felix, what the frak are you doing?

In the corner, Louis was sitting, hugging his knees and staring at nothing. She opened her mouth to ask how he was doing, but then shut it again. As awful as this was, how much worse would it be to know his lover was doing this?

"At least we're safe," she offered him. He raised his eyes to her briefly and then dropped them again to contemplate his fingers.

"I think that makes it worse, actually," he answered. "He cares, just not enough to stop." He sighed and put his head down. "I should've known he was planning something."

"I did know he was planning something," she muttered angrily. "I didn't think he'd do something on this scale. Frak."

"Do you really think he had the colonel murdered?" Hoshi asked after a little while.

She pressed her lips tightly together and answered softly, "Yeah, I do, Louis. I don't know if he ordered it - I hope not - but he knew it would happen. He let the haters go after the Cylons. That means the colonel, the chief, Anders... Sharon. Hera."

She paced some more, shaking her head in despair.

A rattle outside made her freeze and move to the door to see if she might be able to get out. Hoshi stood up, but stayed in the corner. The door opened, and first she saw Racetrack.

"Hey, Racetrack!" Dee exclaimed, starting to smile, which lasted until two marines passed Racetrack and shoved someone inside the door. Dee instantly recognized the blue shirt and brown hair. "Lee!" Dualla rushed to him. "Are you okay? I thought you were on Colonial One?"

But he ignored her questions for a moment, turning his head toward Racetrack. "You know this will never work. And it's wrong."

"No, you're wrong," she retorted. "Giving amnesty to the Cylons, letting them crawl all over the ship! They're our enemy, Apollo -- but until you remember that, you're staying here."

Dee realized Maggie was on the mutiny's side. "Maggie! No! This isn't the way. Killing our allies only strengthens our enemies. And we'll never find the way to our new home if you murder messengers of the gods."

Racetrack glanced at her, with disdain. "And you used to be so level-headed, Dee. We're done here. Find the Agathons and bring them here!" She ordered the marines and the hatch slammed shut behind her.

"Damn it," Dee muttered. "She's Helo and Sharon's friend, how can she do this?" Then she turned to Lee and noticed a blood on his collar from a cut on the side of his head. "You're hurt."

"I'm all right. They were trying to make a point," he grimaced, a little wryly, then grew serious, glancing at Hoshi. "Zarek's free. I came here thinking my father had released him for some reason, but obviously that's not what's going on."

This was worse than she'd thought. This was what Gaeta had been talking about to Zarek. "Oh, gods, Lee, it's all frakked up. Gaeta took CIC."

He grimaced. "Dad?" he asked, and reached out for her hand. She twined her fingers in his, grateful for the touch.

She shook her head, worried. "I don't know. He left CIC when we learned the colonel'd been murdered."

"Murdered?" he repeated in shock.

"Strangled. The admiral left to look and soon after that, Gaeta had me and Louis taken out. That was... an hour ago, I think. We've heard a lot of gunfire. They're going after all the Cylons and the ship. It's a full mutiny."

"Frak." He heaved a sigh. "So, Gaeta's got control of CIC. Zarek's grabbing Colonial One. At least one of the Cylons is dead. My father's a prisoner or dead. And we're stuck in here."

"Racetrack said the Agathons were still free, and apparently not up for execution, if they're supposed to be put in here," she reminded him. She took a deep breath. "That's something I guess. Gods, I hope they're okay."

Lee barked a little laugh. "I almost feel sorry for any idiot who threatens Hera." He tugged her closer and wrapped his arms around her, resting his cheek on her hair. "I'm glad you're here. Well, not glad that you're here," he corrected, "but, with me."

"I know what you mean," she chuckled and rested her head on his shoulder. "Me, too."

After a little while, they let go to move to the cot and sit down. She examined his head wound and licked her thumb to wipe the blood away. "There. Any blurry vision or nausea?" she asked.

"I'm fine," he reassured her. "And you're all right?" His free hand - the one not holding her hand -- gripped her shoulder and slipped slowly down her arm. She'd taken off her uniform jacket for easier movement, leaving her in her tanks, and the touch of his hand on her bare skin made her shiver and smile at him.

Until Louis cleared his throat, reminding them they weren't alone.

Lee's lips twitched with a smile and he pulled the hand back. "What about Kara?" he asked, eventually. "I can't believe she'd get a free pass from Gaeta."

"She's on CAP. Not due back until 1200."

Lee checked his watch. "Damn. I was hoping she was out there with the Agathons. What about the baseship? Is Galactica attacking them, too?"

"No, Felix wouldn't do that," Louis declared staunchly. "He knows the baseship will fire back on the civilians."

"I hope you're right," Lee said. "Because we are frakked if they find out about Tigh. And if the other two are dead, too... it's gonna be bad." He trailed off and shook his head.

"If they're dead, we're frakked anyway," Dee added softly. "Those wings were a message from the gods, and Felix is holding so tight to his hate he can't hear it."

"What message, Dee?" Hoshi asked, sounding depressed. "Other than we're all going to die?"

She shook her head. "No. It's the opposite, Louis. To work together, to forgive, but most of all, to hope. The gods are still looking out for us, if we listen to them."

Lee's arm tightened around her shoulder, and he kissed her cheek. "You make me a believer," he murmured.

She nudged him with her elbow. "After all we've seen, how can you doubt?"

"I don't like to think the gods really give a crap about us," Lee admitted. "Because then where does that put the attacks? Why go through all this effort to save us now, when they could've stopped the destruction of the Colonies?"

She hesitated and then laughed softly. "Beats the hell out of me. Do I look like a priest?"

"You look -- " Lee began, in quiet admiration, but was cut off by gunfire outside.

Immediately they both stood up and went to the door. Faintly, through the door, Dee heard someone shout, "Frak you, Toaster!" Then another shot made the door quiver, and Dee exchanged an excited glance with Lee.

Keys rattled in the lock and then the hatch was yanked open. Dee saw Sharon's face, and her dark eyes flicked around the cell. "The admiral's not with you?" she demanded.

"No, he was never here," Dee confirmed.

Sharon grimaced. "Frak. Move - we gotta get out of here." She hurried back toward the entrance, stepping over the two bodies on the floor. "He's not here," she told Helo, who was standing watch outside, armed and ready.

"Move it, people!" Helo snapped. "We've got a mutiny to put down."

Lee grabbed a gun from the fallen guard, and Dee did the same with the other, and they rushed out into the corridor with Hoshi at their heels.

Dee found Caprica there, also armed, and looking very grim. She'd taken some hits to the face and her knuckles on the hand supporting the weapon were scraped as if she'd hit someone repeatedly. "You okay?" Dee asked, coming up beside her.

Caprica didn't look her way, keeping her eyes on the corridor. "I'm fine. They thought they could come in and gloat over Saul. They thought wrong," she answered in a level, cool voice. "Where to?"

"We need to find the Admiral," Helo said. "If he's not here, Gaeta must have stashed him near CIC. I'd rather not run at that until we have more people though."

Hoshi suggested, with an apologetic glance at Lee, "No, we need Roslin. I know she's sick, but she's the only one who can prove to the Fleet the civilian government is still intact and Zarek has no legitimacy. Felix--" he hesitated and then forced himself to finish, "won't hurt her. And he might listen to her, if we can find her. He won't listen to the admiral."

Lee clenched his jaw, sorting out being a military commander from being a son, but he had to admit Hoshi had a good plan. "To sickbay, then?"

Dee almost smiled. "She's been in your father's quarters since Earth."

He was comically gobsmacked. "What?" he blurted. "I mean, I know they've gotten close -- I'm sure that's part of the problem, but -- really?"

"I saw her there. And she's not sleeping on the couch," she added just to watch Lee's expression twist at the innuendo.

"Talk later," Sharon snapped. "We can't linger. Let's go."

They moved out. Dee got next to Helo and asked worriedly, "Where's Hera?"

"We left her with Jeanne, one of Baltar's followers," he explained. "They've barricaded themselves in. I don't know where they got guns, but it's probably the safest place on the ship."

"Thank gods. Don't trust Racetrack," she warned them, "She's with Gaeta, and last I saw was ordering people to find you."

He nodded, looking briefly disappointed. "Thanks for the warning," he added with somber tone, "This morning, too."

"Did you see the admiral?" Dee asked.

Helo shook his head. "No. We figured it was a trap, so we went to Baltar instead. They already knew bad things were happening, since Jeanne saw Zarek kill Laird on the flight deck."

Just when Dee thought the news couldn't get worse, there was more. "Zarek killed Laird? Oh my gods," Dee repeated, horrified and sick. Sweet Chief Laird -- one of the few survivors from Pegasus' atrocities had been murdered on a ship where he should've been safe.

"I should have let that bastard rot on the Astral Queen," Lee muttered angrily, and Dee held her tongue on saying she told him so, knowing it wouldn't help.

She squeezed his shoulder in sympathy. "Roslin will hand him his ass."

"I hope so," he agreed, but raised his weapon as a group of four armed people came around the corner. Dee recognized Conner from Joe's, and thought for a moment he might prove to be an ally, but his face twisted and he fired.


The four were on the ground in only a few seconds of gunfire. Dee turned her head to make sure her side was all right, which they were, so they kept going toward the admiral's quarters.

There were guards there, though Dee wasn't sure whether they were there to keep people in or out of the area.

From behind a support pillar, Lee called, "This is Lee Adama. I order you to stand down, soldiers. Any interference is an attack on a civilian authority and military chain-of-command and both will be punished to the full extent of the law when order is restored."

They hesitated and Dee burst out impatiently, "This is the Caprica rep to the Quorum, you idiots. Let us pass, and no one has to get hurt."

"Too many have been hurt already," Helo added. "But we will not hesitate if you interfere."

"Stand down," Lee repeated.

The two lowered their weapons, and still keeping theirs up, Sharon and Helo kept them at gunpoint, while Dee and Hoshi went forward to take their weapons.

"You can join us," Lee offered. "Or you can find a quiet place and stay out of the way until this is over. Pick one."

The two glanced uneasily at Sharon and Caprica.

"They're crew. Our friends," Dee insisted. "Mothers. Everything's changing, and I know that's hard. But it's a test. We need to pass it, not fail and get everyone killed for nothing."

"Decide," Lee ordered. And despite his non-regulation dress shirt, the two marines stayed at attention.

"We won't stand against you, sir."

"Good," Lee said. "Where's the admiral?"

"Not here, sir. We haven't seen him."

"Damn it." Lee's fist hit the bulkhead, and Dee frowned worriedly. They needed to find the admiral soon. She pushed the button for access, but it was locked.

"Lee, you need to use your code," she told him, getting him to move and open the door to the admiral's quarters.

Weapons up, Lee was first through the hatch, and Dee went on his heels as they rushed inside. It appeared to be empty, at first.

Until they heard a weary woman's voice call from the back, "Bill?"

Lee stopped, lowered his sidearm and gave Dee a look that suggested he'd rather fight a squadron of Centurions than go in that room. She suppressed a smile and went forward.

"Madam President, it's Dualla," she called and went to the hatch between. She found Roslin sitting up in the admiral's rack, wearing a loose shirt and running pants, with her head wrapped in a scarf. Her feet were bare as she tucked them up beneath her.

"Lieutenant?" Roslin seemed tired, as if she'd been asleep, and confused about why Dee was there, and not the admiral. She clearly had no idea about what had been going on.

Hoping Roslin was up for this, Dee went closer, held onto the back of the admiral's desk chair, and reported as concisely as she could. Lee joined her to help fill Roslin in on Zarek and the Quorum.

Roslin listened, not asking any questions until they finished, but Dee watched in amazement as the weariness fell away from her, revealing the steel beneath.

"We need you to speak to the Fleet," Lee said. "Tell them what's happening here on Galactica and not to listen to Zarek."

Dee went to the admiral's terminal and accessed the comm system, hoping she could access the inter-ship wireless from here without having to go through CIC. But the ship was not designed for a situation where the admiral would want to avoid CIC.

"We have to do this from CIC," Dee reported, disappointed. "Or the wireless array. I can't do it from here."

"Or," Roslin started thoughtfully, as she started taking her clothes from the cabinet, "what about an illicit wireless transmitter? Baltar has one."

Dee felt herself break into a smile. Because that was exactly what they needed, and she felt like an idiot for not having thought of it herself, after spending hours listening to his transmissions. "Yes, I think that would work. They can jam it, but it'll take a minute."

"Let's go see Baltar then."

* * * *

Getting aft to Baltar's followers' compartment was quicker than Dee expected, but they had enough people in their group that some saw them coming and ducked out of the way. One marine saw them and tried to get to the phone on the bulkhead -- Sharon shot the handset right out of his hand, making him yelp.

But then they approached the cross-corridor and Helo moved up to the fore. "They're armed. Let me." He held us gun out and shouted, "Dragon! It's Helo."

"Come," Dragon called back. "Hurry."

Dee heard the hatch opening, as she went around the corner, following Helo, with Roslin, Hoshi, and Caprica following after her. Lee and Sharon brought up the rear -- Hoshi had tried to take Lee's place, since Lee was a civilian now, but Lee had given him a non-civilian look and told him to help the president.

They all went past the crates piled up around the hatch, providing cover, and Dragon and a long-haired civilian woman, who were both carrying weapons. The woman first saw the Cylons and started to object, before a look from Roslin made her hold her tongue.

"I wll see Gaius Baltar, right now," Roslin told her.

Dragon nodded his head toward the hatch and returned his attention to the corridor, continuing to guard the civilians and Hera inside.

Inside the hatch the room was so unexpectedly strange that Dee had to hover at the top of the steps a moment to get her bearings. There were curtains and it smelled of incense, and there were people everywhere - mostly women, but a few men, too.

Baltar was in the middle of it all, packing something in a box. And, to Dee's surprise, Tyrol was there as well, wings in silhouette in the dim light, as he spoke to Baltar.

"Chief!" she blurted, happy to see him here, free and unharmed.

Both men turned and their attention caused most everyone there to quiet down and look also. Roslin walked down the few steps to the main floor, looking at them. "Chief, I'm pleased to see you well."

"You, too, madam president," he returned.

A sudden whirlwind with curly hair burst from a girl's lap and ran straight to Sharon, who hastily handed her weapon to Helo and picked Hera up.

"You have a wireless transmitter," Roslin stated. "If we're to stop this ridiculous mutiny before everything gets worse, I need to borrow it and speak to the people of the Fleet, especially the Quorum."

At first Baltar didn't seem to hear her, too busy staring at Caprica, and then he shook himself and faced Roslin. "Transmitter? I don't know --"

"You have a transmitter," Dee told him sternly, in no mood to put up with his crazy babble. "I could've shut you down any time in the last six months, you know that, right? I didn't because the admiral told me not to." She got very close and stared him right in the eye, angry. "And he didn't vote to have you thrown out the airlock. You owe him."

"Of course," Baltar agreed, eyes darting to Lee and then Caprica and off to the side. "Of course, I owe him. And you're right, I'd forgotten all about the transmitter --"

Galen rolled his eyes a little. "We've been using it to communicate with my staff and overhear CIC," he told Roslin. "But I could modify it back to broadcast to the Fleet."

"Do that," Roslin ordered him. "We need to bring this to an end, Chief."

"What else do you know?" Lee asked him. "Anything about the admiral?"

"All I know is Gaeta intends to put him on some kind of trial. They sent a few people out to find Lampkin."

"That means he's still alive," Dee pointed out.

Caprica moved near. "What about Sam and Tory?"

"Tory's on the baseship, with Sonja. But Sam..." Tyrol looked down at the homemade transmitter on the table and shook his head, pressing his lips together. "I don't know. I hope he's holed up someplace safe." Then his head lifted as if reminded, "I did hear them recall Starbuck from CAP. She'd heading into the barn."

"Frak. They're going to take her, when she lands," Lee said, and his jaw tightened. "She has no idea about any of this. Can you warn her off, Chief? Tell her to go to the baseship."

"I can try," Chief started, but Dee put a hand on his arm, wishing she didn't have to say it.

"You can't. If you remind them about the transmitter, they'll jam the signal, and the president will never get through to the Fleet. We have only one chance at this."

"We have to warn her," Lee insisted. "She's walking right into a trap."

"I'll go get her," Helo offered.

"No, I'll go -- "

"No," Helo shook his head and looked adamant. "You're civilian authority now, it's my job. You have to stay." Lee looked about ready to spit with frustration, since he knew Helo had a point -- Lee was out of the Fleet technically and a sitting member of the Quorum. Helo declared, "I'll get her."

He grabbed Sharon's extra clips, brushed her shoulder with his fingers, and kissed Hera's hair. "Stay safe. Be back soon as I can."

Helo was out the hatch and gone before Dee realized that he was XO again, and somebody else probably should've gone. But it was too late now, and she had her own duty in helping Tyrol with the transmitter.

* * * *

The wireless clicked on and Kara heard, "Starbuck, Galactica," an unfamiliar voice said, "Actual orders you back to the barn."

Frowning, wondering why that wasn't Dee's voice and why the Admiral would order her home, Kara acknowledged and turned back toward the ship. It had to be something serious, and finally her curiosity got the better of her and she signaled again, "Dee, Starbuck. Any reason for the recall?" Dee didn't answer. "Galactica, Starbuck. Do you read?"

There was no reply, so she shifted frequencies. "Baseship, Starbuck, do you read?"

The answer came back promptly, in a Six's voice, "Baseship. We read you, Starbuck."

"Galactica isn't responding to me. Can you reach them?"

"Negative," Leoben's voice answered, "Their comms have been inconsistent for some time. We were informed there was a fire near the wireless array."

"Understood." She clicked off and regarded the ship as she circled aft for landing. All looked peaceful, but strange voices in CIC and communications blackout made a suspicious tingle slip between her shoulder-blades.

There was no voice in her ear guiding her in, but the navigational markers were there, making it easy enough to land. As the landing platform lowered her ship, she looked around as soon as she could.

The flight deck seemed mostly deserted, except for Brasko and Figursky standing with two armored marines, waiting for her. Brasko's usually cheerful face seemed pale and distressed as she watched Kara's ship come in. As soon as Kara was down, Brasko crossed her wrists in front of her in a secretive version of the flight deck signal to stop. It was a warning.

Kara groped under the seat for her sidearm with one hand and put it in her lap, as she popped the canopy.

The two deckhands rolled the ladder into position, and Brasko climbed up to help Kara out. Her face was worried. "The marines say you're under arrest," she whispered urgently, taking Kara's helmet. "Chief Laird's dead. Chief Tyrol's in hiding. The colonel might be dead, too."

Kara took all that in, feeling terribly calm. "And Sam?"

"Don't know. What do you want us to do?"

"Don't get killed," she ordered. Brasko started back down the ladder and Kara rose, as if to follow. Instead, she raised the gun and fired once, hitting the one on the left in the head and dropping him like a stone. Her aim switched to the other. "You're next unless you tell me who's running this treason."

He sneered. "We're cleaning house, you Cylon bitch." He shot at her, missing completely. She didn't. With a quick look around, seeing no more of them, she jumped down the ladder, to scavenge the guns and ammo.

"Frak. Where's the admiral? " she demanded of Brasko.

"Don't know, but Lieutenant Gaeta seems to be running CIC."

"Gaeta," Kara snarled. "Should've known. You two hide and stay safe," Kara ordered them. Then she started to run.

The first person she found was Helo and she nearly shot him as he came out of the passageway at her. "Helo!"

"Thank the gods I found you," he said urgently, falling into step with her. "They've taken the admiral."

"Frak. Sharon and Hera?" Kara asked.

"They're safe as they can be. Dee, Apollo, Roslin, and Caprica, too. I knew you'd be a target, so I came to get you."

At least all of them were somewhat safe. "Is it true about the colonel?"

"Somebody strangled him in the head," Helo answered.

Kara's stomach lurched. "Oh gods. If Gaeta's running this thing, you know he targeted Sam." Her hand trembled briefly on the gun. "I said I wouldn't let anything happen to him."

"Let's get to your quarters."

It took them twenty minutes of hiding and creeping and gunfire to get to their quarters. She tried not to hope he'd have barricaded himself inside, but it was still disappointing to open the hatch and find it empty.

Their extra gun, ammunition, and Sam's knife were still in the cabinet, so she knew he hadn't been there since the mutiny had started. The pyramid ball was gone She put the extra clips into her pocket. "Come on. Maybe they couldn't find him either and he's still throwing the ball below."

But she had a very bad twisty feeling in her gut.

Alive, please, lords of Kobol, please let him be alive, she prayed silently as she glanced at her idols on the shelf. Don't let me be too late.

They ran into more traitors on the way, and there was a firefight. Even though her heart was pounding with anxiety, her hand was steady.

Her first indication she'd found the right place were the feathers on the floor outside the hatch. She picked up one as long as her forearm, silver grey shading lighter toward the tips -- it was one of Sam's flight pinions. "Frak." It couldn't have come out by accident, which meant someone had attacked him. "Bastards." But underneath the anger was a knot of cold fear in her belly -- if they'd plucked his feathers, what else had they done to hurt him?

"I'll check inside," she told Helo, who nodded and kept watch on the corridor. Then, sidearm ready, she spun the hatch and darted inside. But there was nobody in there to shoot -- only the aftermath of someone's sick game in the pale yellow light.

Her eyes grew wide and horrified. Her hand with the gun dropped to her side. "Oh my gods, no... Sam, oh Sammy, how could they do this...?"

Sam was there, tied to the pyramid backstop, facing away from the door, giving her a full view of the horror show. There were jagged ends of bones sticking out from the open wounds on his back. His wings, those beautiful reminders of grace and miracles, were on the floor, mangled and stained by the blood that was still flowing sluggishly down his skin. They'd had to cut him to get the wings off.

Her heart was beating too fast.

"Those frakkers, those frakkers, I will see them all dead for this, Sam, I swear it," she whispered harshly. Because one thing was for sure -- they had tortured him and then left him here to die, and she was going to kill all of them for it.

She scooted to the side to look at his face. His head lolled, and his eyes were shut. Her voice gentled to a whisper. "Sam? Sam, baby, can you hear me?" There was no response, even when she touched his cheek. His skin was cool and clammy, and she could barely find the fluttering pulse in his neck. His breathing was weak, too, shallow pants through his parted lips.

He was still alive, thank the gods, but it was going to be a close thing.

She yelled, "Helo! I need some help in here!"

Helo ran in and stopped abruptly. "Dear Lords of Kobol. Is he still alive, Kara?"

"He's breathing," she told him, shoving her gun in her waistband. "Don't walk on his wings!" she ordered sharply, when Helo looked as if he was going to tread on them.

"Kara, they're--"

"Shut up. Sam, if you can hear me, we're going to free you. It's going to hurt, I'm sorry." She knew he couldn't hear her, but she had to warn him anyway. "I'll untie him, you catch him."

Helo got ready and Kara went on tiptoe to try to undo the knots holding his hands at the top of the backstop. Gods-damn they'd been tied tight, and she was alarmed to see how raw his wrists were, chafed deeply by the rope. He had struggled for a long time before passing out.

Then she pulled the rope free, and Sam sagged into Helo's grip. Helo staggered under the weight, but stayed upright.

She yanked off her upper tank-top, and used that to press against the raw wounds, while Helo held him from the front, under the arms, with Sam's head on his shoulder. "Kara, we've gotta get him to Cottle," Helo said. "He's in shock. He lost a lot of blood."

"Don't you die on me, baby, don't you dare," she ordered Sam, feeling the unaccustomed welling of fear in her chest and the all-too-familiar feeling of guilt. She'd promised no one would hurt him. What the hell had she been doing while people had been torturing him? Going on CAP in the middle of a gods-damned mutiny, looking for Cylons, when the only Cylon she gave a damn about was getting butchered? Frak, was this her punishment for being so stupid and blind and not noticing the hate building?

She swallowed it back, trying to focus. They had to get Sam to Cottle. "Can you hold him like that? I can get his legs."

"Got him," Helo confirmed. "Let's go."

They carried their awkward burden toward sickbay. Kara kept an eye out, half-hoping there were people to shoot, but no one bothered them. "We need help!" she called out as they entered.

Ishay hurried close and she blanched when she saw who they were carrying and what had happened. "Dear gods. I knew it was bad out there, but this? Who could do this? Put him on there," she pointed to the nearest gurney and Kara and Helo put Sam down on his side.

Ishay grabbed two folded pads and handed them to Kara. "Apply pressure."

Kara did as she was told, pressing the cloth to the terrible wounds trying to get them to stop bleeding. Ishay pulled the oxygen cart over and put a mask over Sam's nose and mouth and then started to take his vitals. She put a monitor on his finger, got his blood pressure and shook her head at the results. "Definite shock. Pulse rapid, blood pressure dropping." Then she swabbed the back of his hand and swiftly shoved a needle into his vein, locking an iv shunt into place and hanging a bag of saline.

Cottle came over, and Kara let go of the cloth, so he could peek at the wounds. He shook his head in momentary pity, and ordered, "Transfuse one liter and scrub for surgery."

Ishay prepped another line for blood. When she and an orderly were about to wheel him away, Kara bent and whispered in his ear, "I'm waiting right outside, Sam. I'm right here. You hang on for me."

She found a small grey feather in his hair and held it tightly in her fingers, as they took him away. She folded her arms around herself, feeling cold down to her bones. Helo - who she'd forgotten was still there - put an arm around her shoulder. "We got here in time," he reassured her. "Sam will be fine."

"Fine? Karl, they pulled out the feathers, broke the bones, and ripped his wings out. They tried to torture him to death. He's not going to be 'fine'." Her voice had stayed cool and flat, until the last word when it broke and she swallowed. Then hardening her tone, she declared softly, "I'm going to find out who did it, and I'm going to kill them."

He squeezed her shoulder. "We'll find out. We need to know what's going on, and I have to go find Sharon and the Admiral. Will you be okay?"

"I'll be fine, Karl. You go. Be careful." She sat on the edge of the chair outside of surgery, two guns on her lap with full clips, determined that nothing and no one would get in there to hurt him again.

On to Chapter Five
entertaining in a disturbing way: Kara cartoonlyssie on October 12th, 2010 03:17 am (UTC)
*winces* And here's where it gets painful and messy. I feel like I need a teddy bear to cling to.
korekorenap on October 15th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
Ouch. Very good and very brutal. once again your version makes so much sense.
kag523 on March 1st, 2011 05:02 am (UTC)
Oh god - this chapter hurt so badly... and yet it felt so "real" as a reaction. (Actually, more real than some of the reactions in canon.) I hated having to witness the hatred, but it makes sense given the background of the story (and the destruction of the twelve colonies.)

Powerful stuff. Now I'm just hoping the next chapter is the salve for my soul. :>)
lizardbeth: Shadowed Skylizardbeth_j on March 1st, 2011 07:13 pm (UTC)
Overall my thinking was that there are fewer mutiny participants (the wings confuse people since they don't make any sense and seem miraculous to some), but those who participate are angrier and brutal. So they weren't going to wait to execute the Cylons, but some would go ahead and do it.

Keep on, more to go! :)