Joined: 15 Jul 2006
Location: Soviet of Washington, ex-USA
|Posted: Fri Jul 28, 2006 3:52 am Post subject: VS2 ep # 13: "Bones" (Part 3)
|Bones: Ch. 9-13
“Captain, you are one lucky fellow,” said Cassie, checking Apollo over with her medical scanner. Aside from a few minor abrasions, he was unharmed. Boxey, likewise, was, beyond a slight scratch to one hand, unhurt, although badly shaken up. Apollo looked up, to see Adama heading his way down the corridor, with both Boomer and Athena.
“Father?” he asked, and Boxey, with a cry of “Grandpa!” ran to embrace the Commander.
“Sire Solon granted me a brief release from quarters, Apollo. Extenuating circumstances, though I would have come anyway. What happened?”
“Boxey and I fell asleep on the couch, reading. Then, a few centons ago, something knocked us onto the floor. Hard.” Apollo turned as Sergeant Cygnus of the damage control crew came out into the corridor. “Well?”
“No accident, Captain,” said Cygnus. “It was a bomb, planted behind the bulkhead in the turboflush. It looks like it was clamped or taped to the water inflow pipe right behind the throne. It wasn’t particularly powerful, but the fragments from the ripped bulkhead would have killed anyone in the room at the time. That part of the bulkhead just there is pretty thin.” He showed them the damage. The small living room was largely intact, as was the kitchenette and bedroom, but the door to the turboflush was buckled outwards, and the one between the throne and the turbowash was ripped inwards, the room, ankle-deep in water, was largely destroyed.
“My God, Apollo,” said Athena, embracing her brother. “You could have been killed.”
“She’s right, Apollo,” said Adama. “This has gone beyond a mere old termination case. First someone tries to kill Sheba, now you and Boxey are almost blown to bits.”
“Sheba was right,” said Apollo. “We are getting close.”
“Yeah, too close,” said Boomer, surveying the wreckage. “And that means someone is scared mongless that you’re going to find them before they can erase both you, and their trail. Permanently.” The Lieutenant turned to his Captain. “Apollo, come one. Sleep in the enlisted barracks tonight.”
“It is so ordered,” said Adama, sternly. “Apollo, you’ll be surrounded by Warriors. The assassin won’t be able to reach you there. Not without exposing himself and risking his own life in the process.”
“But father, I can’t just…hide. I…”
“Ordered,” said Adama again, raising one eyebrow in that way.
“Oh gee!” said Boxey with glee. “Can I come too, Dad? Get to sleep with all the pilots?”
“Looks like it,” said Apollo, with a long sigh.
“Wow!” said the boy, jumping up and down, seemingly oblivious now to all else.
“Come on, kid,” said Athena, taking him by the hand, and leading him away towards the barracks. “We’ll get you a billet.”
“Tell Starbuck no smoking!” cried Cassie.
“Will Uncle Starbuck be there?” asked Boxey, even more excited. “He and Giles still owe me a whole cubit from last time.”
Athena’s words of reply were lost down the corridor, as Sire Solon appeared, and was filled in. He nodded sagely, arms crossed.
“The Commander is right, Captain. Whoever this person is, he is scared. And scared criminals do stupid things, as we can see.” He gestured towards the obliterated turboflush.
“Obviously he doesn’t care about the possibility of killing Boxey,” said Adama, clearly angry but controlling it. “Or the fact that removing Apollo in so unsubtil a fashion would only draw more attention.”
“Sirs,” said Cygnus, emerging from the savaged rooms, “we’ve pretty well recovered all the pieces we’re going to. I’m taking them to the lab right now.” Adama opened his mouth, but Cygnus was way ahead. “Consider it a rush job, Commander. In fact, I’ll do it myself starting now.”
“Thank-you, Sergeant,” said Adama.
“Yeah, a 'pretest.' One that'll blow their petty little minds,” grumbled Starbuck to himself. He glanced over at the chronometer. Lords, it was 2300! And here he was, stuck in the Strike Captain's office, writing . . . a lesson plan. Empty java mugs and training manuals cluttered the Captain's normally tidy desk. He noted a few java stains and wadded up papers that had missed the recycling bin . . . should he straighten it up? Naw, he reflected with a smirk. Apollo's office was always so neat that it was hard to believe that he actually used it. So, the messier the better.
The first session with the “rogue cadets” was the next day at 0900, and Starbuck had had every intention of just winging it – until Colonel Tigh had insisted on seeing a course outline, on his desk and in detail, by 0800. Originally, he had been assigned to instruct just one new cadet, Pelias, the pain-in-the-astrum-son-of-a-boray . . . uh, son of a Council member. But, after Sheba had been pulled for some other assignment, the details of which he was not privy to (all he knew was that it involved working along side the Good Captain), Starbuck had been given the whole lot of them -- Pelias and three women cadets – to either whip into shape or gather enough concrete evaluation on to toss them out on their astrums. At least, he would have help with this fun task, since Dietra, now Silver Spar's Deputy Squadron leader, had been assigned to assist him.
Could be worse, Bucko. You could be the one with a busted water line in their quarters! He chuckled mercilessly, thinking about the latest scuttlebutt to hit the lower decks. Finally, someone else could have some bad luck.
Well, he was almost there. This was the last duty assignment in what had been the most mind-numbing sectar of his entire military career. He'd jotted down a schedule for the secton-long training program, including the few specifics that the Colonel had dictated – including a three-day survival simulation (aboard the Agro Ship One's desert environment dome), and now he just needed to tweak a few more details. He chuckled dryly as he scanned the test that he'd already typed up. Oh, yeah, these cadets were going to realize from the first centon just how pleased he was to be stuck with this highly coveted assignment. With that thought in mind, and an evil grin on his lips, the Lieutenant quickly typed the rest of the daily outline into the computer and sent a copy off to Colonel Tigh.
“Done!” he groaned, giving a long, slow exhalation as he leaned back in the chair to stretch the kinks out of his back. Pop pop pop went his spine. He glanced again at his chrono. He needed to head back to the billet and get a bit of sleep, but after four cups of java – just the right amount of javeine to inspire him to write the lesson plan from Hades -- he was just too wired. Instead, he stared at the computer screen and shook his head. Bucko, how do you do it? He'd been on report before, and for as long as three sectars, but this one was by far the most frustrating period of restricted duties. And he knew that both Colonel Tigh and Apollo knew that, too. And, yes, well . . .that had been the whole point. But . . . frack! In the past, he would have at least known he deserved every micron of whatever punishment Tigh could dream up. This time . . . this seemed to be one more incident in a recent string of unfortunate events. The infamous “Starbuck Luck.” It either worked miraculously in his favor, or totally fracked him.
“Or both,” he snorted under his breath. “Let's see . . . “ Starbuck lit another fumerello, and then held up a hand to tick off the incidents. Broken arm on the Spica, courtesy of that lunatic Dravius. Nearly strangled to death by “Wilmer the Ursus” while working undercover on the Rising Star. Oh, and running into Dravius again – how lucky can one guy be? Then getting put on report for missing a fracking briefing after trying to help Mairwen on the Sagittarius. Yeah, I deserved that one, didn't I? But it had ended up being a two-secton assignment on the Orphan Ship. Okay, so that had not been that bad . . . but he would have preferred to skip the events that had transpired right before that particular assignment.
Chameleon. His feelings on that subject were such a tangled morass that he not only cut off the thought immediately, he bit almost completely through his smoke without realizing it. Yeah, he needed to deal with the situation . . . deal with his…his father. But not now. Not yet. And then there was Sherok. Lords, he would never admit it to anyone, but he still had nightmares about the madman. Coming face to face with a crazed Human, when he was injured and helpless, had been far more . . . difficult to deal with . . . than anything else he'd experienced in all the yahrens of battling the Cylons. Cylons were simple; deranged Human beings were not. If it hadn't been for Copernicus . . .
A faint smile touched Starbuck's lips. The man was a paradox. Outwardly, Copernicus appeared to be incompetent and even mentally deficient, a hopeless oddball. Yet, Starbuck knew, he was actually brilliant, a genius, but one who was forced to live with a neurological disorder that made interacting with people extremely difficult. And Starbuck owed him his life, which was not something that the Lieutenant took at all lightly. Thus, amidst all of the mindbogglingly dull reports and tasks he had been forced to endure over the past sectar, he had spent some of his time “arranging” for a transfer to the Galactica for both Copernicus and his helper, Tarnia. Copernicus, he figured, could work in Wilker's lab, and Tarnia, he discovered with some research, actually had medical training as a counselor. Surely, Dr. Salik could find a position for her among his staff. All that remained were two things: to somehow talk with Copernicus and Tarnia aboard the Sagittarius and to get the Commander's approval.
Starbuck sighed and ran a hand through his hair. The need for sleep was creeping in around the edges. With a long yawn and a stretch, he climbed to his feet, plopped his mangled fumerello butt into a java cup, and headed for the exit to Apollo's office. And as he left, he tossed one more piece of wadded-up paper onto the floor for good measure.
Apollo went to the barracks as directed, after checking into his office (“Starbuck!!!”), but sleep did not find him. Boxey, after being corrupted a little bit more by some of the pilots, had finally drifted off, three cubits and a quantum in his little hand. As he stretched out on a spare bunk in the dimness, the Captain tried to pull together all the pieces of this dizzy affair. Logically, it had to be someone who had both known Major Dorian, and worked closely enough with him to be able to access his ID pad with ease. The list Athena and Boomer had uncovered was pitifully small, so finding such a person should have been a very simple matter.
But no. The only member of that list unaccounted for, a Lieutenant Tabor, had turned out to be really unaccounted for. It was as if he had disappeared from the face of the Colonies. After being reassigned away from Major Dorian, the records just stopped. No medical records, no certificate of death, nothing. Athena though, bless her heart, was no more easily put off than was Sheba. Despite the dry well she’d come up with on this man, she knew a trick or two, and had yet to give up. Good old Athena. Never one to give up. Just like Zac. Just like Zac.
Apollo leapt up, nearly falling out of his bunk after bashing his head on the one above him, and realized he’d actually nodded off for a centar or two. After getting his bearings, he realized he could stand it no longer, and left the barracks, headed for the lab. Instead of Hummer, doubtless asleep at this centar that God had not forsaken, he found Sergeant Cygnus bent over the instruments. Unlike the other man, Cygnus preferred to work in silence, and so the lab was blissfully free of the usual hideous cacophony that resembled a major seismic upheaval somewhere in Hades. All that could be heard was the hum of the equipment, and the soft thrumming of the immobile Cylons in the corner.
“Ah, Captain. I was about to call you, sir. I have something.”
“I had no idea you knew all this stuff, Sergeant.”
“Part of my training was in forensic explosives, sir. I was the lone survivor of a hold-up at the chemical company defense contractor where I worked. The thieves used explosives to try and cover their tracks. I helped the authorities to reconstruct the devices used, and decided that I had found my niche. I joined the police bomb squad, made it off Leo when everything ended, and here I am.”
“I see. And?”
“And, our bomber is one clever fellow, Captain. As you can see, the device was clipped to the water inflow pipe with this.” He showed Apollo the spring-loaded clamp, well charred. “That whole area of the ship is a lepon-warren of access tunnels and maintenance hatches.”
“So someone would have to know the ship very well to find just the right spot.”
“Exactly, Captain. And with all the modifications and changes made in her design since she was built, the Galactica varies considerably in a few areas from the original blueprints. Our bomber obviously knows every tiny crawlspace and bulkhead, sir.”
“So, how was it detonated?”
“That, if you’ll pardon the term sir, is the beauty of it. Look.” He motioned Apollo closer, to where the recovered bits of the bomb were laid out. “This circuit? Part of an old-fashioned voice-activated audio circuit. The microphone was pressed up against the pipe that carried the water to refill the flush tank, right near a valve. As soon as the valve clicked, it triggered a microswitch in this circuit,” he indicated the area up on a screen “and that sent an electrical charge to the detonator, right here.”
“Oh, a piece of solonite no bigger than your little fingernail, Captain. There are a lot of pipes and electrical conduits running through those crawlways, sir. Anything much bigger, and it could have knocked out power and utilities to two decks. Maybe more.”
“Well, neither Boxey nor I used the turboflush. What set it off?”
“There you can thank your attending angel, Captain,” smiled the other. “You aren’t much on plumbing, are you?”
“Not really. Meaning?”
“Meaning, sir, that the backflow valve inside the tank was shot. Leaking slowly.” He showed it to Apollo. A rubber ring, it was tattered and cracked. “Once it got low enough, the system would trip, and the tank would refill, just as if it had been flushed.”
“Yeah. Boxey said it had been making funny noises lately.”
“Well he was right, sir. Obviously, maintenance isn’t all it could be. In any case, once the valve on the pipe in the service crawlway tripped, and they are kind of loud, it triggered the detonator, and boom. Anyone inside of that room when the bomb went off…well, we’d still be collecting your remains, sir. With tweezers.”
“Remind me to send whoever is slow in Maintenance a Yuleday card,” chuckled Apollo. “Anything to help identify our bomber?”
“Not yet. The bomb was attached using both a clamp, and a thin wire. The blast ripped the plastic covering off the clamp, and any prints it may have had, and the wire has nothing. Sorry, sir.”
“That’s okay, Sergeant. You’ve found out a lot already. Anything on the explosive? Where he got it?”
“Standard solonite mix from the cluster torpedoes we use for ground assault, sir. Anyone who knows even a little about them could have removed one charge from the warhead. This one was about that size, Captain.”
“Okay, Sergeant. Keep on it. Maybe we’ll get lucky on finding out who planted the bomb.”
“Malek and Cussler are searching the inside of the service crawlway, sir. They’re good men. If there’s anything to find, they’ll find it. We’ll let you know at once.”
“Thank-you. Good night, Sergeant.”
“”Good night, Captain.”
Sheba was about ready to start climbing the nearest bulkhead. Or the farthest. Or any bulkhead for that matter. Not only did she have a deep and long-standing aversion for anything remotely resembling a hospital, but enforced inactivity of any kind, for longer than about, oh, one centon, made her about as sociable as a Boray with a rash. Apollo had stopped by briefly after leaving Wilker’s lab, and filled her in on the latest. It seemed that she was right. They were getting close, and the killer was frightened. Frightened enough to try and remove Apollo and Boxey in a violently open fashion. She kept going over everything he’d told her, and that which her own researches had uncovered. They were close. She knew it. Athena and Boomer, following her lead, had burrowed deeper, and come up with a list of potentials. It had to be there, she told herself over and over again. The answer was staring them in the face, if only…
She sighed, and rolled over in her bed. She looked at the table besides it, and briefly toyed with picking up one of the old, pre-Holocaust magazines again. One of them, Classical Stage, had frequently graced the java table in the living room when she’d been little. Her mother, one of the greatest stars of stage and screen the Colonies had ever produced, had frequently written for it, finally becoming associate editor the last few yahrens before a terrible and incurable illness had so cruelly ravaged and then destroyed her.
No, she decided. She’d already read it through, along with the fashion rag, the sectonly news magazine, Newssecton, a medical/genetics journal, and even a somewhat worn copy of Colonial Geographic, dated the sectar before the Holocaust had stopped the presses forever. How annoying, she told herself, that the best article in it was part one of a two-parter.
She let out a loud blast of air, pounding the mattress in utter frustration. Damnations of Hades! She should be out there, with Apollo, finding the Boray-breath who had done all this, and put her in Life Center to boot! Or at the very least flying a patrol! The scum might hang for killing Major Dorian, but she would personally see to it that he suffered for this!
“Oh why in Hades does all this have to keep happening to me?” she asked the ceiling, the tension in her denying her sleep. “If I’m not catching some damn bug, I’m either running into Count Iblis, getting blown up by a missile, plowing into an asteroid, or getting my skull dented! Sheba girl, you’ve got a serious jinx problem. Mong! I’m a Colonial Warrior, and a damn good one, and I can’t even protect Boxey! How in God’s name…”
Able to stand it no longer, she got up, tossed on her robe, and left her small ward. She went into the Nurse’s Station, but Cassie had long ago logged off, and Medtech Tone was on duty. Yeah, Cassie’s off, fast asleep in her own bed. Skull intact. Lucky girl. She exchanged pleasantries with Tone, as he made adjustments to some of the equipment. Then he picked up a small bowl, his meal from the smell of it, and proceeded to stab the contents with two wooden sticks.
“It’s a traditional way of eating, where I’m from, Lieutenant,” he told her, seeing her confused look. “We did it this way long before more modern utensil ever came along.” He extended the small bowl to her. Peering in, she saw some sort of gooey bits of…something, in a sauce. While it smelled good, she wasn’t too sure, and shook her head politely. “Do you need another pain killer, Lieutenant?”
“No, I’m fine,” she answered him. “Just so unutterably bored, I may go slightly berserk before much longer.”
“I know the feeling, Lieutenant,” said Tone, shaking his head. “I can’t stand being bedridden for any reason. When I was a boy, I would drive my mother to distraction by never staying in bed when I was sick.”
“Ah, a kindred spirit!” chuckled Sheba. “To tell you the truth, I’ve seen enough of the inside of hospitals to make me seriously consider surrendering to the Cylons at the thought of any more time in one.”
“Hopefully, we’ll never have to worry about them again,” said Tone. “I’ve certainly had my fill of the disgusting monstrosities.” He said it with some heat, and Sheba moved closer.
“Your whole family?”
“Yes, Lieutenant,” said the other, finishing and setting his bowl aside, next to the medical textbook he had been reading. “My parents, grandparents, all my cousins and other relatives. And my wife and baby, too.” His face grew dark a moment, as old, ugly memories passed over it. “We were a big family, all living in the same house in the same little fishing village on Cancera, on Hama Island, where our ancestors had lived and fished since before the various Colonies even rediscovered each other.”
“I take it you didn’t like fishing.”
“It was okay, the only life we knew, really. I grew up helping my father and older brother, out on the water every day. But I wanted something more. I was always interested in medicine, so, I took a gamble, and tried for a scholarship. By a one-in-a-million chance, I got it, and was accepted to the Cancera University Medical School, the best on the planet, though I still spent all the holidays at home with my family. It was sheer luck I survived, Lieutenant. My shuttle home at the end of term was delayed. Just a couple of centars, but that was enough.”
“And they hit your home.”
“Yes. Obviously, the spaceport on Hama was a target, small as it was. One of their BaseShips blasted it from orbit. When I finally got there, there was nothing left. Our home, our village, nothing. I’m not sure how I made it to a refugee staging point, but I did. When the call went out after fleeing the Colonies for anyone with medical training, I answered.” He turned away, to check the equipment again. “I take it it was similar for you? Everyone?”
“Well, I was aboard the Pegasus when the Colonies were destroyed, but my mother had died a few yahrens before that. I was an only child, so it was just my father and I.” She thought a moment. “When we saw the transmissions from home, we couldn’t believe it. A few…a few lost hope completely. One went insane, another killed himself as I recall.” She took a deep breath. “If it weren’t for my…the Commander’s strength, I would never have made it. None of us would have.”
“Same here, Lieutenant. I was there, in the conference room, when Commander Adama told us he was looking for the Thirteenth Tribe. I had felt so…empty. Useless, right after it all. His certainty, his passion, gave me a new hope. Gave us all hope that we still had a chance in this…this insane zoo we call the universe.”
“I understand. As a matter of fact…”
“Hhmm…” said Tone. “Looks like the computer has found something.”
“As long as it isn’t me!” smiled Sheba. “I don’t want another moment in Life Station.”
“No, Lieutenant,” smiled Tone, “it’s that genetics scan Waheeb was working on earlier.” He moved to the computer workstation. “Well, it seems…” He stopped, as the telecom beeped. “Yes, Life Station, Medtech Tone here.” Sheba noticed his frown, then look of concern. He tensed, as if preparing himself for action. “I see. Very well, I’m on my way.”
“Accident, Lieutenant,” he replied, grabbing a medical kit, and placing a call. “Seems someone got in the way of a bursting steam line in the ship’s laundry, and is pretty badly burned.”
“Clear across the ship,” she noted.
“Yes. I must go. Doctor Paye and Medtech Cassiopeia will meet me there. Since you are the only patient in here at the moment, I presume I can trust you not to go wandering off this time if I leave you alone?” he asked with a smile.
“Warrior’s honor,” she replied, holding up a hand. She watched him go, and then seated herself at his small station. Medtech Sheba, ready for action! Remembering herself, she looked at the terminal Tone had been reading from moments ago. It seemed as if the computer had come up with some kind of results on Waheeb’s research on the unidentified cells. She sniffed the air, and looked over at the bowl Tone had left.
Hhmm…smells good. I wonder…She put her finger in what was left, and brought it to her lips, but it never made the rest of the journey. Sheba leaned in close to the monitor to read the information…
“Oh my God!” she breathed, as she what she saw hit her like a laser blast. She dropped the bowl, and slapped her forehead, snarling. “Of course! Idiot! Why…” She stopped, the hair on the back of her neck prickling. The Life Station was silent, unnaturally so. Something was not right; she could feel it . . . she turned slowly, listening, poised to react. . .
Apollo woke again, sleep still elusive. As before, he rolled over all the data he had in his mind, trying to find the truth. He looked at his chrono, for the nth time, and found himself counting down the centons until the Tribunal must convene. He was worried, unsure, doubt and outright fear beginning to gnaw at him. He was certain Sire Memnon would allow no more continuances; the man had made that plain. So how…
He turned, and noticed Boxey’s bunk was empty. He reached out, and sure enough, the boy was gone. A tiny spark of concern began to grow as he got up, and checked the turbo flushes. All of them were empty. No sign of Boxey anywhere in the barracks at all.
“Where in Hades…” He went to the telecom. He hated to do it, but with all the recent happenings…
“No, Apollo,” replied Adama, sleep for him also elusive it seemed. “I have not seen him. Have you called security?”
“Well, try Athena, first. Then, if he’s not with her…”
His footsteps seemed unnaturally loud in the empty Life Station. Empty, but only for a few more centons at most, until that Med Tech and the rest figured out it was a phony call. He looked about, seeing the empty admitting station, and smiled. Yes, it had worked to perfection. He moved to the comm terminal, and with a little adroit manipulation, wiped all record of the call from the computer’s memory. He smiled mirthlessly, as he slowly drew his weapon, and headed for the inner ward, where he knew Sheba to be. He paused a moment, just outside, as he fitted a flash-suppressor onto the muzzle of his pistol. While there was no one around but himself and his victim to hear it, there was a risk the internal sensors in here might pick it up. No sense having it all go to pieces over so…careless an oversight.
The door slid open, and he took in the scene. The medical monitors were doing their thing, the dim lights, and the form in the bed, hair askew over the pillow and covers. Perfect. He raised his pistol, and holding his breath, fired into the form before him. Once. Twice. Three times. Then, his vile task accomplished, he slipped back out, leaving the room in darkness once more.
“Mom?” asked Boxey, as he wafted into Life Center, Muffit in tow as usual. He stopped, looked around, and saw no one. That was funny. Usually somebody was there, at the desk by the door. Why wasn’t someone there right now? “Mom, are you here?” he called again, and moved towards the inner ward. As he did so, Muffit began growling. “What is it, Muffy?”
“I don’t,” began Boxey, when he bumped into someone around the corner. He looked up to see a man, about Adama’s age, perhaps a bit younger, dressed in a maintenance worker’s uniform. He had thinning hair, and eyes that made the boy feel uneasy. “Oh. Where’s M...uh Lieutenant Sheba?” he asked, as Muffit continued to growl at the man.
“What the…how in…Uh, I wouldn’t know, kid,” replied the man, one hand mysteriously concealed inside his heavy clothing. “I was just here for a…” He stopped, turning, as the door to Sheba’s ward slid open, and she stood there, very much alive, a weapon of her own in hand, a pair of very sharp scissors. For a moment, three faces registered only shock, and there was silence.
“But you…how in Hades…”
“What’s going on…”
The moment was broken by the intruder grabbing Boxey up off of his feet in his left arm, and pulling the weapon he had used earlier from the inside of his uniform. He pressed the muzzle against Boxey’s head, and took a step back.
“Drop it, Lieutenant. I SAID DROP IT! Or I blow his brains out all over the floor!” Slowly, her eyes burning with rage, she did so. The man kicked it aside, to slide off somewhere across the room. “You are turning out to be one big fat pain in the astrum, lady. How’d you do it?” He motioned with his head towards the ward, the door still open.
“Let me go!” howled Boxey, seemingly oblivious to his peril. He struggled, but his captor pistol-whipped him across the cheek, drawing blood.
“Shut the frack up or I shut you up, kid!” he snarled.
“Let the boy go,” said Sheba, furiously trying to come up with a plan.
“Oh yeah, sure. Let him go, and have no way out. Pull the other one, Lieutenant.”
“And just where in Hades do you think you’re going, huh? Lieutenant Tabor?” She watched his startled expression. “Oh yes, I know who you are. Or were. A long time ago, when you were assigned to Major Dorian by the Thirteenth Directorate.” She stopped, taking as big a breath as she dared. “Why did you kill him?”
“Smart, aren’t you, lady? Way too smart for your own good. You just had to keep sticking your nose into things after they found those damned bones! You just couldn’t keep out of it!” He was shouting now. “I’d almost begun to forget! I’d almost…Why couldn’t you and that hot shot fiancé of yours just let sleeping daggits lie?”
“You know why. Commander Adama…”
“The Commander. He…”
But Tabor never got to finish his sentence. Boxey, small but full of fury, gathered up all his anger in one powerful kick with his right leg. Backwards. Right where it counts the most. Tabor bellowed in pain, and his grip loosened, which saved Boxey’s head as the laser went off at that moment, blowing one of the monitor’s to Kingdom Come. Sheba recoiled…
But Muffit did not. Knowing only that Boxey was in trouble, his data banks gave him but a single option. Remembering what he’d done to a Cylon on Carillon, the daggit opened his mouth, and bit down as hard as his servos would permit on Tabor’s right ankle. The killer yelped in pain, dropping the boy. He turned and shot Muffit point blank.
Which was to prove a bad idea, in the end. Filled with rage at this savaging of his beloved daggit, Boxey attacked the other with both fists, plowing into him with surprising force. Tabor was forced back against a table, but he managed to get hold of the boy by his hair. Shaking him violently, Tabor kept Sheba at bay with the laser, kicking Boxey to regain control. The boy stopped, and Tabor growled through gritted teeth: “Hold still, you fracking brat, or I’ll blow the Lieutenant here to Hades right here and now. GOT ME?” He glared into Boxey’s eyes, then made him look at the weapon, pointed at her. “Got me? Give me any more trouble you little piece of mong, and I will burn her down right now, and then you. Understand?” No answer. “DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?”
“Yes,” replied Boxey, barely audibly.
“Good,” smirked Tabor, then turned back to Sheba. “Like I said, I’m out of here, and this little twerp is my ticket off the Galactica.”
“To where?” said Sheba, almost laughing. “Another ship? Where in Hades do you think you are going to go, Tabor? We’re in the middle of nowhere!”
“There are habitable systems within shuttling range of the Fleet, Lieutenant. Even down in maintenance we know a lot of what goes on, up on the bridge. That’s where we are going. And you are going to fly me there.”
“Kidding? Not at all, Lieutenant. With you as my pilot, no one will dare shoot me down. And with this one,” he shook Boxey again, “you will do whatever I tell you once we launch. Then, once we’re down, he’s all yours.”
“You’ll never make it, Tabor. Get real! This will never work.”
“Well, you had better hope it does, Lieutenant. Remember, the Council re-instated the death penalty. I have nothing more to lose, by killing either or both of you.”
“Alright,” said Sheba, slowly, still trying to figure out what to do. “I’ll do it. But if you hurt Boxey again…”
“You’ll what, huh?” He fired another shot, narrowly missing her feet. “Throw your hair pins at me?”
“You Boray’s astrum,” she seethed. “I…”
“NOW!” he growled, pistol against Boxey’s head once more.
“Alright. Boxey…” she began, when the door swished open, right behind Tabor. He half-turned, to see Boomer and Athena coming through. He turned, trying to level his weapon at them, but Boxey acted quickly. Twisting his body, he brought his teeth down on Tabor’s wrist, and with a growl of pain, the killer let him drop. Both Warriors, taking the scene in quickly, moved to try and surround Tabor, who, back to a wall, still held his weapon.
“You can’t get away, buster,” said Boomer, seriously wishing he’d brought his own pistol with him. “You’re trapped.”
“Maybe, maybe not, but I’m sure gonna try, hot-shot,” snarled Tabor. “I’m the only one in here with a gun. And if you try and rush me, somebody’s dead.” He made an adjustment to the laser, and grinned. He noticed Athena looking at him, and glared back. “What are you looking at, huh?”
“You. You did a good job, changing your face and appearance.”
“Didn’t he though,” said Sheba, slowly microning her way along the counter. About an arm’s length to her right was an intercom switch. If she could just reach it…
“That’s it!” said Tabor. “Now, gimme the kid, or I swear I’ll…”
As if to cause yet more confusion, the doors whooshed open once more, and Medtech Tone rushed through, Apollo on his six. “Lords of Kobol!” said Tone, “when I catch whoever called in…a false…”
But he got no further. Panicking, Tabor fired at the Medtech, who along with Apollo, toppled right into Boomer. In that moment’s confusion, he once more grabbed up Boxey, and then fired again towards the door. He missed a frantically ducking Athena by a hair, and was out into the corridor, trampling Apollo, Boxey a hostage.
And almost at once, the ship’s klaxon began to blare. Sheba hit the intercom, and called Security. Within a centon, the entire ship was on the alert for Tabor and his hostage.
But Tabor, given his position and many yahrens of work and experience aboard this ship, knew nooks and crannies unknown to most others. Once those inside Life Station moved out into the corridor, the malefactor was nowhere to be seen.
“Frack my arm!” said Apollo, as Salik scanned it. It was broken by Tabor’s boot, but aside from still-scrambled senses, he was alright. Medtech Tone was unconscious. Fortunately, Tabor had reset the weapon for a wide-field shot, and the bulk of the laser bolt had hit the edge of the medkit Tone had been carrying, dissipating a lot of the energy from what had been a “kill” setting. Still, he was in a bad way, and Salik was keeping his fingers crossed. Likewise, Athena’s near-miss had put her in a bio-bed too. “I’ve got to go after him.”
“Captain, you’re still groggy from a near-miss, the pain-killers are kicking in…you are in no shape to go chasing an armed man through the ship.”
“Damn it, Doc!” shouted Apollo. “I swore to Serina I’d look out for Boxey! I have to do this!” And without another word, he slid off the table and out the door, deaf to all, including the Commander. Adama moved to follow him, then turned back to the doctor. But his words died aborning, as he noticed something.
“Where is Sheba?”
Boxey had never been in or even heard about these parts of the Galactica. After fleeing Life Station, Tabor had cut a sharp right down the corridor, and then opened a storage closet, where cleaning supplies were kept. Behind a rack of towels, virtually invisible, there was a metal ladder bolted to the bulkhead. He ordered Boxey to climb, following him with the weapon still threateningly pointed at him. Once up, Tabor closed and sealed a hatch, then moved his hostage along a low, cramped service crawlway, lined with cables and pipes and other things Boxey didn’t recognize. From there, it was more hatches, more crawlways, until Boxey was utterly lost. Then, Tabor stopped, hand over Boxey’s mouth. Right in front of them was a heavy grill, opening onto the corridor below.
“Make a sound, and I’ll burn you right here and now,” whispered Tabor. Fearful, Boxey nonetheless was able to look down. In the corridor, he could see black-shirted Security men, no doubt looking for them. One was talking, and he recognized the voice as that of Reese.
“One, this is Four. No sign of them on Deck Three. Moving on to the next area.”
After a few moments, Reese and the others moved on, and Tabor continued his journey through the guts of the ship.
“Where are we going?” Boxey was able to get out at last.
“To get off this ship, kid,” answered Tabor. “And you are my insurance policy. They won’t dare try and stop me with the Commander’s grandson under the gun.”
“You killed Muffit!” cried Boxey, barely keeping the anger inside. “You shot my daggit!”
“Big deal! One thing you learn in life, kid.” Tabor turned to look down at him. “Always look out for Number One. Nobody else will.”
“They won’t let you get away!” hissed Boxey, determined not to cry. “My dad and the rest won’t let you get away. Ever.”
“If it’s a choice between my freedom, or your shattered skull on the deck, they’ll let me go. Bet on it kid.”
He pulled, carrying Boxey even further along the labyrinth of passageways, until they came to another hatch. Passing through, Boxey found himself in a far roomier corridor, painted a gleaming white, brightly lit, with one wall covered in hatches fitted with small portholes. Boxey at once recognized them, from the required safety drills. The escape pods. They were one deck above the landing bay.
“These won’t go very far,” said Boxey, who in fact knew well from his lesson that they could go quite a ways.
“Don’t try and bovinemong a bovinemonger, kid. I know these pods inside and out. Once we’re off this ship, I can get us to one of the habitable planets nearby. With you aboard, they won’t dare harm me.”
“But I don’t want to go to some planet. I…”
“Tough felcercarb, kid. You’re coming.” Tabor turned to the nearest pod, and activated the power unit. Obediently, it lit up, inside and out. But, when he pressed the hatch control…”What the Hades…? Come on, you piece of mong! Open!”
But the hatch would not open. Not that one, nor the one next to it, nor, in fact, any of them. A quick check told Tabor why. All of the pods had been remotely locked out! None of them would do a thing now, without an override code. A code which he did not have.
“Sir, all the escape pods just went off-line,” said Wu, on the bridge. “Completely locked out.”
“What?” said Tigh, clearly surprised at this news. “How? Is it a systems malfunction?”
“No, sir,” replied the Petty Officer, after a check. “Someone has entered a command-level override code into the system, sir. I can’t re-activate them without a corresponding code.”
“A command-level code?” said Tigh. “The only person aboard…Get me Commander Adama, at once,” he said to Geta, the night-shift comm officer.
“Yes, sir,” replied the female Nomen.
“Sir,” said Wu, looking up from his instruments once more, “It wasn’t Commander Adama’s code, sir!” Tigh’s brow’s furrowed. “It’s Commander Cain’s!”
Sheba pumped along the corridor, both her blood, and her head, pounding. She kept telling herself it was with fury, and not pain, but part of her was beyond pain, now. So full of wrath was she now that anyone seeing her face at this moment could be forgiven for believing they were looking upon the face of Commander Cain in his youth, or even one of the ancient warrior angles in the Book Of The Word.
She came to the hatchway, and thumbed the door. It opened, the lift taking her down. As she waited for it to deposit her, she tried to review all the information screaming through her head. Obviously, from their rudely interrupted conversation in Life Station, Athena had come to the same conclusions about their quarry as she had. Yeah, she’d always known Apollo’s sister was smart. Too smart to be wasted on just bridge duty. What that girl needed was to grab…
The lift stopped, and the door swooshed open. As she expected, it was dimly lit in here, and there was no one else about at this centar, with all the shuttles nicely tucked away for the night. She stepped through the door, and allowed her eyes a few moments to adjust to the gloom. She took a deep breath, and let her senses spread out, working to both calm her fury, and to “feel” the area around her.
He’s here! I know it! He has nowhere else left to go, now. I…
She stopped, as she heard a distant sound over the ubiquitous rumble of the engines. A hatch being opened, somewhere above her. She smiled. He may know more ways around a Battlestar than most people, but the daughter of Cain sure as Hades Hole knew her prey. He was not only coming through the hatch, he was coming to her. She ran a hand through her hair.
You’ll pay for this, too! she swore, and slipped in to shadows.
“You can’t get away!” said a voice. Young. Boxey’s. “You…”
“I told you to shut the frack up, kid!” shot back his abductor, slapping the boy once more with his weapon. “You give me any more trouble, and I’ll fry your eyes out. Got me?”
Without waiting for an answer, Tabor moved along the upper gantry that held the huge crane that lifted the shuttles from their berths, and set them on the slip down to the launch bay. The felinwalk came to an end, and he shoved Boxey ahead, to move down the ladder to the shuttle deck.
“I said no!” shouted Boxey, once more defying his captor. “I’m not going with you, you golmonging snitrad!”
“Look, you puke,” said Tabor, gripping Boxey cruelly by the throat and pressing his face against the steel bulkhead, “some people take certain things for granted in life. Like the ability to chew solid food!” he smacked Boxey’s head against the bulkhead again. “Do you get my meaning, kid?” Squirming, Boxey kicked back at him. “Apparently not. Okay, have it your own way, kid. I guess you’ll go stunned, just as well as not.” He looked down to reset his weapon, when suddenly, the lights went up. Tabor grunted as the brightness stunned his eyes, and he lost his grip on Boxey.
Not waiting for any further encouragement, Boxey obeyed, but not without a parting token of his regard for Tabor. He kicked the other in one leg, and Tabor fell backwards, grabbing the railing next to him to stop his fall. With a snarl, he righted himself, and fired after him. He missed, his shot pinging off a bulkhead. He let loose a torrent of curses, then looked around him.
“You’ve had it, Tabor,” said Sheba, her voice echoing over the hangar PA. “You’ve lost your hostage, and the launch bays are locked down. You are going nowhere.”
“You frackin…” He broke off, firing at one of the speakers. It died spectacularly, but the voice did not go away. “I will get off this ship, you bitch! You hear me? I will, or I’ll take you with me!” He moved quickly along the gantry, following Boxey, hoping to find and recapture the boy. As he did so, he shot out another speaker. “Shut up! Shut up!”
“No way, Tabor. You’ve come to the end of the line,” Sheba went on, taunting him with her tone. “You’re a murderer, and you’re going to pay the penalty. Murder, kidnapping, attempted murder. You are dead, Tabor.”
“Why couldn’t you just leave those damned bones alone?” shouted Tabor angrily. “It was all so long ago. Who gives a frack about Dorian? He was fracking murderer himself, the little thief! The whole universe is better off without him!”
“Not your decision to make, Tabor. Not your decision.” As she spoke, Sheba was lowly creeping along, moving closer to her prey as stealthily as she might. If she could just keep the miscreant talking… “So, why did you kill him, Tabor? He was a beaten, unconscious man, yet you gunned him down like a dying daggit in the road. Even Ortega got a better deal than that. Why?”
“A rabid daggit! Hades Hole, he deserved it, the filthy little crawlon!” shouted Tabor. “Destroying other people’s lives wasn’t enough for him, corrupt or not. No, he had to ruin mine. My whole world! I decided to stop him, there and then. I had no idea the Commander had…”
Sheba swore, as she knocked something off onto the deck below in her intense focus on Tabor. He turned, and fired. The gantry over her head erupted into sparks, Tabor’s shot barely missing her head. Her nostrils filled with the reek of singed hair. Obviously, he had set the weapon back to “kill”.
Keep your head girl! Otherwise, you stand to lose it!
She fired back, sending up a cloud of smoke and sparks in her own right. She heard Tabor grunt, and the scuffle of fleeing feet. Frack! Swallowing her torrent of colorful curses, she went after him.
“Sir,” said Wu, on the bridge. “I have located the lock-out point.”
“Yes?” asked Adama, now on the bridge.
“It was from one of the terminals in the computer center. According to the logs, Lieutenant Sheba logged on in there a few centons ago, then entered Commander Cain’s override code, then locked out all the escape pods.”
“Locked out…of course!” said Adama, looking at Tigh. From his eyes, Adama could see that his Exec had reached the same conclusion. “She’s herding him where she wants him to go.”
“The shuttle bay,” said Tigh.
“Exactly. She knew he’d try for an escape pod, after we heard what he’d said in Life Center, and with Boxey as a hostage…Wu, anything else?”
“No, sir, except for the port side shuttle bay. Power is up, but computer indicates that the internal sensors are off-line.”
“Commander Cain’s code?”
“No, sir. Just cut off at the source.”
“Reactivate them from here. Colonel, get Apollo and Croft’s team, and meet me at the hatch to the shuttle bay.”
Tabor ducked, just in time to avoid being hit by a shot from Sheba. He stumbled, almost dropping his weapon. Breathing hard, he stopped for a moment, and looked around. As the smoke cleared, he had a clearer vision of the bay below him. There were the shuttles, including that alien one they’d flown up from Ki. Yeah, that one was closest to the ramp. He’d take that one, since it had no transponder in it. No sense saddling the Fleet with some old clunker like that. He…
He heard a sound, and turned as fast as he could. He raised his weapon and fired directly towards Sheba. There was a loud burst of sparks, and he heard her cry out. He fired again and again into the smoke, ducking to miss a shot in return, determined to make sure. He smiled, as he both heard and saw her pistol fall to the deck below them. He slowly raised up, and turned…
To face Boxey, metal rod in hand, barring his path. Before he could even draw breath to laugh, Boxey swung, cracking the fugitive across one knee. He staggered, pain ripping up his leg, and Boxey swung once more, the pipe’s end ripping the fabric of his pant leg, and drawing blood.
“You fracking bastard!” snarled Tabor through the pain. “You are dead, you frackhead brat! Dead!”
“You hurt my mom and dad! You killed Muffit!” screamed the boy. “I’m going to get you!” Boxey swung again, once more striking the partly fallen Tabor. He raised again…
And Tabor fired directly at him. The bolt struck the pipe, knocking Boxey off his precarious balance. With a cry, he dropped it and fell off the gantry into the bay below.
Tabor tried to stand, and almost screamed from the damage Boxey had done to his knee. The fracking little piece of Boray mong! Felt like it was broken, and…
“Okay, big man!” said a voice, and he turned as best his savaged knee would permit. “Time to pick on someone your own size.” It was Sheba, robe torn, armed similarly to Boxey, standing not an arm’s length from him, face like the Wrath of Heaven. As he took it in, a thrill of real fear coursed through him. She swung before he could bring his laser to bare, and missed. He fired, the shot going wild, over her head. She did not even blink as she swung again, this time striking his weapon’s hand with a loud pulpy crack, sending his laser skittering across the walkway, dropping to the bay below. He howled in pain, and she laughed through gritted teeth, her backswing catching him under the jaw. “If he’s dead, I’ll personally rip your jewels out, Tabor!” she hissed, and attacked again. “Hades, I just may anyway.”
But Tabor was not entirely out, yet. He slid back along the gantry, and grabbed up the pipe Boxey had used in his left hand. He blocked a blow from Sheba, then swung down. Barely missing her head, he struck her shoulder a glancing blow. But Sheba seemed oblivious to the injury. Her eyes ablaze like her Viper’s guns, she attacked again, driving the man back. Farther, farther, till he was able to get a blow in, She ducked, then slipped. He struck a blow, smacking hard against her ribcage, then she twisted her whole body, just as the next fell, and his bludgeon cracked into the bulkhead to her left…
And ruptured a line full of some kind of liquid. It sprayed all over him with great force, and he bellowed as his eyes were stung by the foul gunk. Sheba stepped back, as he swung again, blindly, his weapon drawing a spark from the metal wall.
“Boxey!” cried a voice, Apollo’s, as the hatchway slid open, and Croft’s Security team poured in, followed by Adama and the rest. “Boxey? Can you hear me?”
“Boxey, answer me!” shouted Adama. “BOXEY?”
“There she is, sir!” It was Croft, pointing up at the two combatants. “Lieutenant Sheba? Lieutenant, duck now!” He raised his rifle, and fired at Tabor. He missed, but his salvo ignited whatever it was spewing all over the man.
With a truly hellish scream of agony, Tabor lit up like an exploding Raider, swirling around madly in a futile attempt to escape the flames that were chewing into his clothes and flesh. He dropped the bar, and with what thought remained to him, grabbed Sheba with what was truly a death grip. She felt the flames bite into her clothing and skin, her hair begin to smoke, and she fell backwards, Tabor over her. Almost at once, the boraton mist nozzles opened up, spraying them both.
“Take…you with me!” he croaked, but Sheba refused to give up. Drawing her legs up against her chest, she kicked the Human torch, desperate to get free.
“I...” thwack “have had…” crunch “enough…” kick “of you!” she screamed, and landed one last hard kick to Tabor’s face. With a shriek that pierced all that heard it to the soul, he toppled over the railing, crashing on to the deck below.
“Doc?” asked Apollo, standing over Boxey’s biobed in Life Station. His eyes were big, and pleading as his glance flitted back and forth between his son and Dr Salik.
“He’ll be okay, son,” replied the Galactica’s CMO, hand on Apollo’s shoulder. “When he fell off that gantry, he landed on top of the scaffolding erected over that alien shuttle Starbuck flew back from that planet. It not only made his fall shorter, but for some reason it had matting all over it. Cushioned his fall enough to save him. He’ll be up and around in a day or so, although he’ll feel like the underside of an avalanche. But don’t worry, Captain. They heal fast at that age.”
“Oh God…thank…” Apollo tried to get out, but couldn’t finish.
“Hey, don’t forget me, Buddy,” said Starbuck, as usual irreverent. As part of his many and exciting new duties, Starbuck had had to supervise and evaluate a trainee maintenance crew, working in the hangar. Chosen since it was he who had flown the shuttle up from Ki, he had soundly chided them all for not covering the scaffolding and top of the ship with anti-fire matting, as per regs, before beginning modifications. Thick, spongy, and resistant to high temperatures, Boxey had landed right smack on top of it.
“Thanks, Starbuck,” said Apollo, oblivious to the tear in one eye. He would have to remember to thank Starbuck in some meaningful way.
“Hey, any time, Apollo,” said Starbuck, more seriously.
“Doctor?” asked Adama, standing over another biobed. Salik moved over, to check the readouts. He looked up from the patient, to the Commander, and shook his head. “How long?”
“A few centons,” replied the doctor uncertainly. He could give them an educated guess, but that was it really. “A centar at the most, Commander. The injuries are far, far too extensive. That and the toxicity from that waste line, plus the boraton. I’m surprised he isn’t dead already.”
“I see.” Adama looked back down, at the burned and dying form of Tabor, now openly identified as “Chief Technical Sergeant Decker”, who had served aboard the Galactica in the hangar/maintenance area for longer than anyone else. His service history, it turned out, had begun bare sectars after the death of Major Dorian, and the “disappearance” of Lt. Tabor.
Now, he was a burned, shattered, dying wreck of a man, trying to look up at Adama with his one remaining eye peering through the bandages covering his horribly charred face. His breathing was slow and labored, and the Commander could see a slight movement from his burned, blistered lips. For a long moment, he just looked at the Commander, and Adama looked back. For his part, Adama was torn between fury at what had been done to his family, and pity for the broken piece of Humanity in front of him. Then, the ruined lips opened, and he took a wheezing breath.
“Commander,” he rasped, at last finding the strength, or the will, to speak. “They were right…your son. Lieutenant Sheba. I did kill Major Dorian.”
“Sire Solon,” called Adama, and the Chief Opposer was suddenly at his side, Sire Memnon with them, recorders on. “Go on.” But Tabor did not at once reply, his strength seemingly gone. Then, he opened his eye again.
“I had served with him for several yahrens, as part of the Thirteenth Directorate. But I hated him. I hated him enough to…” He broke off, coughing sharply. For a moment, Adama thought they were losing him, but no, the fit passed, and he seemed to settle down. “He was a snake, and I kept looking for an opportunity…to kill him.”
“Why?” asked Solon.
“He…and my wife. He…bastard! I found them together. He just laughed at me. I tried to…get away. But he wouldn’t let me go.”
“Why not?” asked Memnon.
“I…I was the best cryptanalyst and electronics expert… he’d ever worked with. He would have been a mediocre nothing without me, and he knew it. He…forced me to stay with him.”
“How did he force you?” asked Apollo.
“He set me up…for a crime I didn’t commit. Termination. Held it over me. For yahrens. Forced me to…to work for him. I wasn’t fit for regular duty. I’d…been turned down by the service because of my illness.”
“Yes, your albinism,” said the Captain, clarifying the statement.
“But I don’t recall ever seeing anyone like that with Dorian,” said Adama. “Ever.”
“I…I wore contacts, Commander. And I had my skin artificially darkened…looked like anyone else.”
“It was that which made you unfit for regular duties?” said Colonel Tigh, quietly standing at Adama’s side.
“Yes,” replied Tabor, bitterly. “Then, I had a chance.” Tabor stopped again, grimacing as he tried to garner his strength and work through his pain. The attending tech quickly medicated him and slowly, he resumed. “The day he came aboard, to go after your father, Commander…”
“Did he really have anything against my father?” asked Adama, voice tense.
“He said so, sir,” rasped Tabor. “Something about… a cheating scandal at the Academy, when your father was a cadet. But it was false. I…I checked the file…behind his back. It was all lies! Lies…a scheme to get to you, Commander.” Tabor stopped, breathing hard. “He never forgave you…for…your wife…”
“Gentleman,” began Salik, but Tabor spoke.
“Please. I…have to.” He took another ragged breath, then resumed. “My…my wife…we separated, and she and Dorian…but he threw her out. Tossed her over as if she was…was trash. She couldn’t take it, Commander. She…killed herself. I decided that I had to get…away.” He was quiet again as his breathing and talking both became more difficult due to his inhalation burns. “I saw you and he… leave…leave the Officer’s Club, sir. After a few more rounds of…of liquid courage, I went after him. Someone said they had seen him heading for the orlop, so I went down there. As soon as the lift opened, I saw him, lying there, looking like someone had beaten the frack out of him.” His lips cracked as a faint smile appeared at the memory. More wheezing and gasping followed. “I never knew it was you, sir, until he was found. Suddenly…it all clicked. I…saw what I thought was his laser… laying next to a stack of machinery. I picked it up, and just as I aimed it at him, he opened his eyes.” Tabor tried to laugh: “He started to beg, the filthy, groveling coward. It was music to my ears, hearing him beg for his life… just like…just like all the others he’d ruined or destroyed. I laughed in his face, and then I shot him. Then, I heard the lift again, so I put the laser and the rest… of his stuff back in his belt, and stuffed him in the open section of the void. I ran for the opposite lift, and got out of there.”
“How did you escape the Cylon raid?” asked Adama, aware that the health team were watching him and the bio-monitor carefully. There wasn’t much time left.
“Pure…pure luck, sir. I missed the shuttle by a couple of centons. I hid aboard one of the other shuttles, and after the engagement…with the Cylons, I got off the ship by putting on a cargo handler’s uniform, and disappeared once we’d landed. In all the confusion, it was easy. First…chance I had, I hacked the computer records… made it look as if he’d left the Galactica on the destroyed shuttle. Then…then I erased all traces of myself that I could find, and sealed his records with a phony… Presidential order.”
“No one ever did that before,” said Apollo.
“No one was looking. Or cared. A lot of folks…weren’t unhappy to see the Major gone. I…created a new identity for myself. I had plastic surgery, had my fingerprints altered, and underwent the new…new genetic therapy to cure my albinism and colorblindness. It was…still illegal then, but I was desperate. Then I…I forged a whole history for “Decker”, and got into the service. Pure dumb luck…that I was assigned to the Galactica. All these yahrens…knowing that he was down there. You have… no idea. Dreams. Haunting me…” Tabor stopped for a moment, and only the blinking monitors showed that he yet lived. “I tried to forget…sir. I was serving my people…and doing what I loved most. Tech…machinery…keeping the boys flying, when I could never fly.” He once more erupted into hacking, this time blood spattering his lips. Clearly, the end was near.
“Gentlemen, please…” said Salik, all Doctor, as he advocated for his patient.
“And when they were found?” asked Solon, all Opposer, as he pressed Tabor for every detail.
Tabor feebly held up a bandaged hand to Salik to stay his protests. He clearly wanted to come clean before it was too late. “I panicked…Sire. I’d almost…begun to forget, after all these yahrens. Finally, to forget.” He looked from Solon, to Sheba, herself a mess but in decidedly better shape than he was. “I…please, forgive me, Lieutenant. I…panicked when I heard, and I hacked the system and discovered…what you were learning, I could only think of silencing you.”
Sheba considered his plea for forgiveness. It was just too soon after too much. “Your knowledge of all the Galactica’s internal crawlways. That’s why we could never find how you escaped,” she said.
“Yes,” he nodded, barely audible. “I’ve…spent more time in them than any…of the rest…”
“And my quarters?” asked Apollo. Though he realized that the man was near his end, he still had to know.
“I…helped redesign that area, when it was refitted a few yahrens ago, Captain. I know it…better than anyone. I’m…please forgive me. I…” He rasped again, then looked at Adama. “Forgive me, sir. I never meant…to harm you. …How could I? You…saved us…our people…never even knew it was you who’d…beaten Dorian. Beaten him…needed beating…needed it…needed…couldn’t bring myself…forgive him…forgive…forgive? Sorry…about the daggit…” Tabor was clearly raving now, mind going, yet as he looked up at Adama, even in the one bloodshot eye visible to him, the Commander felt sure he could see yahrens of hatred, guilt and fear sloughing away. Tabor tried to lift his head, looking from side to side. “Is the boy alright?” Then, he began to hack violently once more, his whole body convulsing.
“I…” began Adama, but the monitor suddenly went flatline. He looked back down at Tabor, but Tabor was now still, his last breath sighing away, eye staring sightlessly back at him. Adama felt his tensed muscles relax, and exhaled.
“Captain Apollo,” said Sire Memnon, in a brisk, dispassionate tone, “the bench will entertain a motion for dismissal at this time.”
“The Protection so moves, Sire.” Apollo spoke after a moment’s pause as he looked down at the man who had almost destroyed his father and his family.
“The Opposition has no protests, Sire,” replied Solon quietly.
“It is so recorded. Commander Adama, in accordance with the evidence presented here, I hereby declare that all charges and specifications against you in this matter are dismissed. You are free to go.”
“Thank you,” replied Adama, looking from Memnon, to his son. Slowly, his arm went around Apollo.
“Unless there are any further motions, I declare these proceedings closed,” finished Memnon.
“As do I,” said Doctor Salik, drawing a sheet up over Tabor’s face. “Alright Cassie,” he said. “Let’s call it. Time of death, 0400 centars.”
"The dull mind rises to Truth through that which is material." -Suger
Et verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi Unigenti a Patre, plenam gratiae et veritas.