Joined: 15 Jul 2006
Location: Soviet of Washington, ex-USA
|Posted: Fri Jul 28, 2006 3:51 am Post subject: VS2 ep # 13: "Bones" (Part 2)
|Bones Ch. 5-8
“The odds are eight to one against me, guys. Sooooooooo, place your bets.” Starbuck told the assembled men as he lounged on his bunk with the cards in his hand. He fingered the cards as he waited while the pilots dumped their cubits in an impressively increasing pile on Boomer’s bunk and he lined up his angle of trajectory.
Giles practically climbed onto the bunk beside him as he minutely studied the shot. It wouldn’t be easy. The target, Boomer’s left combat boot, was angled in the opposite direction, therefore, he’d have to bank the shot off the bunk frame. “How many shots?”
“Three out of five to win, Giles.” Starbuck told him as inhaled deeply from his fumarello. As per usual when he was gambling, he was as calm as still water.
“Can we make it four out of five?” Giles asked.
“That would change the odds and increase my take, pal. Works for me,” Starbuck informed him rather indifferently. He didn’t care one way or the other. He was feeling that way about a lot of things lately, come to think of it.
“What do you say, guys?” Giles asked them eagerly. There was no way Starbuck could hit the boot four times. He doubted he could do it twice. This would be easy money sitting back and watching.
Starbuck watched them all check out the set up and discuss it among themselves. He was supposed to be doing a snap inspection of the billet. Tigh had mentioned it to him specifically when the Colonel had referred to the billet as the porcine pen that he had the displeasure to pass through. He had checked a few lockers and bounced a few cubits off bunks when something inside of him just snapped. Nope, he just couldn’t do this felgercarb anymore.
Lords, how long had it been since he had been demoted to Colonial Lackey? Third Class. Too frackin’ long! He had been given every mind-numbing assignment that had made it across Apollo’s desk in the last secton. A few of those duties had probably been pulled from deep within a dust covered archaic filing system, that now, by the way, was properly labeled, filed, and even color-coded by Squadron. Starbuck was certain that nobody even looked at it anymore. He’d even had to give the introductory speech to the latest batch of recruits, including one of those blue Zohrloch guys. Lords, he hadn’t joined the Colonial Service to fly a fracking desk!
Starbuck looked over at a bulkhead, wondered how hard it would be if he banged his head against it, then sighed as he thought back to his actions that had precipitated his restricted duty designation. It was still vivid in his mind, standing around the bridge scanning for some sign of Sheba in the asteroid field that had swallowed her whole. He had never seen Apollo so emotional on the bridge. Lords, Apollo knew they couldn’t search much longer, and clearly had begun to give up hope. Starbuck couldn’t fathom what Apollo must have been feeling as Adama had begun to call the search off, but he could swear that he saw something in his friend just . . . die.
Now, Apollo without hope would be a very scary thing indeed. Frack, it was the Captain that kept them all going on a cycle to cycle basis on this hunk of metal in the middle of nowhere. Starbuck for one was not willing to give up on Apollo or Sheba at that centon.
Okay, maybe he got a little out of hand. It could have been a lot worse though, and would have been if Rigel’s sudden announcement of picking up Sheba’s signal hadn’t stopped him from saying what was really on his mind. Yeah, he’d have been cleaning turbo flushes full-time if his temper had really had a chance to make itself known. Tigh knew it too. That was why as yet these fracking duties were unrelenting. Either that or the good Captain had just forgotten about him.
Starbuck clamped his teeth tightly on his fumarello as he thought about how it used to be him that was at Apollo’s side as his friend and wingman. Oh, it wasn’t like he was jealous or anything . . . well, not really. He just didn’t think Apollo would forget he existed. Watch out what you wish for, Bucko, or he’ll have you checking out leaking air locks next!
Then there was this new duty where he was suddenly personally responsible for handling the training of some Councilman’s brat named Pelius. Starbuck had his nose stuck in training manuals almost all of his “time off” to prepare for his imminent assignment. To top it off, Sheba had somehow finagled her way out of it. He’d even heard that recently she got herself replaced on patrol at the last centon to dash off with Apollo for something. Unfortunately, he didn’t know what yet. Apparently, she was achieving a new special status as Apollo’s fiancée!
Well, at least you’re not bitter!
Frack, he knew it had nothing to do with Sheba, or Apollo, or Tigh, or anyone else for that matter. It was his own damn fault he was in this predicament. The ridiculous thing was . . . he’d do it again if given the choice to go back and change things. As much as everyone else disagreed with him he still thought he’d done the right thing. Oh, sure, his timing was a bit off! If he could have just held his tongue for ten more microns he would have been on the rescue team that went to recover Sheba instead of fuming in the billet, staring at locker art. That was life. At least, that was Starbuck’s life.
“Okay, Starbuck, you’re on.” Giles told him as the warriors coughed up additional cubits to cover the new odds.
“Last chance, guys. Ante up.” Starbuck grinned as he threw his own cubits on the pile. He winked reassuringly at Boomer, Greenbean and Jolly who had agreed to back him, purely on the basis that he promised to pay them back if he lost. Boomer was looking a little nauseated, but face it, Boomer often did during a bet.
“Everyone ready?” Starbuck asked as he slightly adjusted his position. “Launch.”
It was a thing of beauty as he put the perfect spin on the card. It rotated perfectly through the air as it hit its mark on the bunk frame and rebounded into the boot.
“Frack.” Giles muttered as he realized that he’d been had. That had looked way too easy. He remembered Starbuck did have a lot of time on his hands these days and had clearly spent it practicing this seemingly impossible shot.
“It’s all in the wrist, Giles ‘ol friend,” Starbuck winked at him as he launched his second card. It followed its predecessor into Boomer’s boot. There was a low groan of disappointment in the billet, but Starbuck did notice that Boomer was looking better.
“Okay, give, Starbuck. What’s your record?” Bojay asked in disgust as card number three hit the target.
“Bojay, I’m hurt you would think such a thing.” Starbuck stated dramatically as card four landed perfectly. “Truly, truly hurt.” Silence. “Eighty-eight consecutive,” he added and grinned as Boomer, Greenbean and Jolly whooped in joy. Yeah, this was definitely more fun than a snap billet inspection. “Later, gentlemen, I’ll be taking bets in the duty office on when Apollo and Sheba will have their first fight, who will instigate it, and who will be the first to cave . . . sorry, make that kiss and make up.” He swept up his share of the cubits and left the billet a much happier man.
"A Battlestar carries a large complement in its crew,’ said the Strike Captain, “but a list of people still on active duty who were serving aboard the Galactica back then, can't be that big a list to begin with."
“Can’t be all that many, no,” replied Sheba. “Almost thirty yahrens. A lot will have retired, been lost in combat, transferred before the Holocaust. I can’t imagine it’s going to be a long list.”
“Well, long or short, let’s hope our Electronic Oracle of the Ancient Mysteries still has what we need buried in it’s guts somewhere.”
“You said it,” laughed Sheba. “O Club, in a centar or so?”
“You got it.”
They split up, Sheba heading first for barracks, since she had an after-action report that was long overdue, then it would be off to “Corporal Komma’s Corral” as it was sometimes called. She had a few lines of research in mind, and if they led her to where she thought they were leading her…
Apollo found Wilker absent from his lab. Again. It seemed that the main computer system aboard the recently acquired Hegal was giving the crew fits, and he was there dealing with it. In his place, Apollo found Technician “Hummer”, manning the battlements in his place. Apollo didn’t mind; he found that he preferred the younger fellow’s company to Wilker’s anyway, in spite of his egregious taste in “music”.
“Anything new?” he asked the junior scientist, after he’d pulled off the fellow’s earphones. He’d been filled in on Adama’s story, but only the bare facts of the case.
“Well, none of this stuff is ‘new’, Captain. If you know what I mean.” He chuckled a bit, but Apollo just gave him a deadpan look in return. “Okay. First, the ID Pad.” He rolled his chair across the deck, retrieved the item in question, and rolled back so fast Apollo could scarcely follow him. “It is indeed Major Dorian’s,” he continued, plugging the device into a terminal. At once, information began scrolling up the screen at “Hummer’s” workstation. “I recharged the old power cell in it, and she fired right up. Here we have the fellow’s ID, his picture, and the usual felcercarb we all carry. He even had 6,237 cubits and 7 quantums left in his bank account when he was croaked.”
“Excuse me?” glared Apollo.
“Okay. Anyway, several of the files in it were encrypted, but I hacked them all. It seems he was logged in aboard the Galactica on the day in question. Only, according to this file,” he pointed to the screen, “he never left the ship.”
“But how is that possible? Our records show he logged off the ship about four centars after coming aboard. Have you double checked all the data in that thing?”
“Yes, and none of it has corrupted, Captain. The power cell seems to have been low when the Major died, and ran down soon afterwards. That was before the newer models came out, with a much longer cell life.” He clicked a few more keys. “My only suggestion, Captain, is that someone falsified an entry in the Galactica’s databanks.” He picked up the old device. “It was keyed to the Major’s right thumbprint, and no one else’s. Without machinery like this, it won’t work for anyone else. These things don’t lie.”
“Unless they’re helped,” replied Apollo. “Okay, what about the clothes?”
“No surprises. We found traces of the Commander’s blood on the uniform, in a spray pattern that matches his story. It all fits.”
“And the pistol?”
“Ah! Yes,” said “Hummer”, once more speeding across the deck, retrieving the weapon, and wheeling back in less than one breath. “The serial number checked, of course. Now these old guns didn’t record the ID of the last shooter, but they did record the number of shots. And from whenever the Commander last recharged it, it fired only a single shot. There was even some blow back.”
“Blow back?” asked Apollo.
“Yes. If I,” he said, pressing the pistol against Apollo’s uniform, “were to shoot you at point blank, or even within one or two centimetrons, the material of your uniform would actually blow back some onto the muzzle of the gun.” Apollo gently pushed the weapon away. “Here, let me show you.” He rolled to a test stand, inserted a power cell, and held the weapon very close to a piece of fabric. He fired, then showed Apollo the muzzle. “See?” Apollo looked close. He could just make out tiny fragments of the fabric, charred and almost invisible. “After thirty yahren it wasn’t easy, Captain, but we found blow back like that on the laser, and it was a match with the carbonized material in Major Dorian’s uniform.”
“I see, “ said Apollo, wondering how this was positive news for Adama. All it proved was that his pistol had killed the Major. Hardly exculpatory evidence to lay before a Tribunal.
“Yes, but also look at this,” said “Hummer”. He called up another file, and bade Apollo look at the screen. “We found another fingerprint, on the laser that killed Major Dorian. A print that overlay the Commander’s prints.” The younger man was silent for a few moments.
“Can you identify it?” asked Apollo.
“No, sadly. It was too smeared to get any useable data.” Apollo sagged. “But, never fear, Captain.” “Hummer” smiled at him. “There were, in the smudged print, microscopic bits of skin.”
“Meaning,” said the other, grinning like someone who really enjoys their work, “that whoever wasted this Dorian fellow, left what we in the trade call epithelials on it. Skin cells, containing the perp’s DNA.”
“Per-pet-ra-tor,” said “Hummer”, slowly. Sheesh! “Anyway, whoever it was left something of themselves behind.”
“Can you do a…”
“Already in the pot and cooking, Captain,” replied the other. “Since we don’t have the goodies to do a proper boost and scan here, I sent all our stuff to Doctor Paye.”
“Hummer? I’ve never heard a name like Hummer.”
“It’s not…common, Captain.” Silence. “Okay. Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Sir.”
As Apollo left the lab, armed with new information and possible new courses of action, his commlink beeped. It was Doctor Salik.
Sheba was in Life Station.
“I said I’m okay!” insisted Sheba, raspy-voiced, for the forty-somethingth time. “All it was was just a crack on the head.”
“With a heavy steel bar. And an attempt at strangulation,” Doctor Salik reminded her.
“I know, I know.” She looked up at Apollo. “We’re on the right track, Apollo.”
“Meaning that hardly have we started working on this case, then someone tries to kill me.” She stopped as Salik turned her head, running a diagnostic instrument over her skull. The results were shown up on a monitor.
“What did you see?” Apollo asked, perhaps a bit more sharply than he had intended.
“Well, I went into the barracks office, like I said, to finish up that last after-action report. I had no sooner reached the desk, when I heard a noise. I turned, and I saw stars. Someone bashed me across the head with something. I found this on the floor,” she said, pointing to a metal bar on the table. “I must have ducked at the last instant,” she finished.
“Which saved your life,” said Salik. “You narrowly missed having your skull caved in, Lieutenant.”
Apollo took a slow, deep breath. "What happened then?" he asked, fighting to
keep his voice level.
"The boray jumped me and tried to strangle me when I fell. I was dazed for a few
microns, so he got the advantage at first." Sheba cleared her throat and gently
rubbed her sore neck. "But that didn't last long. I broke his hold with a knee to his gut, and got in a few solid hits before the rotten coward got away from me. He took off like a
frightened lepon, and slipped out the opposite hatch. I tried to follow, but
by the time I reached the exit, he was gone. . . . the golmonging . . ." Sheba muttered in anger, letting her voice trail off.
Apollo felt his own blood beginning to boil. “Okay, the man you saw; was he tall? Short? Fat? Husky?”
“Hard to say. I couldn’t see a lot of detail, except that he was wearing a uniform jacket, and had a pilot’s helmet on.”
“Now there’s someone really likely to stand out on a Battlestar,” growled Apollo. He turned back to Sheba.
“I didn’t see a lot of his face, Apollo, what with the helmet and all. It was definitely a man, and he was around your height.” She paused to think, her brow knitted slightly as she rubbed absently at her throat. “I got the vague impression that he was older, somehow. I’m not sure. But beyond that…” She shrugged.
“Frack!” spat Apollo, the word exploding from his lips.
“Like I said, Apollo, we’re on the right track!” said Sheba, sliding off the examination table. She shook her head "But, sheesh! Maybe I need to reserve a permanent berth
in this place! Or maybe sign up for frequent flyer maxims.”
Apollo put a hand on the Lieutenant's arm. "Sheba, from what you've told me,
it could have been a lot worse." He managed a smile. "But that guy got more
than he bargained for.” He looked over at Cassie. “Don't cross the daughter of Cain!"
“Better believe it," Sheba grumbled, feeling more than annoyed that the man
had gotten away. It left her feeling…vulnerable. And she hated feeling vulnerable.
“I’m forced to agree with you, Sheba. But I think maybe you should throttle back on your playing detective for a bit. No pun intended.”
“Because I’m a wo…”
“No! Because you’re a target!” said Apollo, not anxious for an argument to start. “I don’t want you winding up like Major Dorian did, Sheba. If you’re right…”
“Which I am,” she shot back, arms crossed defiantly, scowling.
“Then the murderer of Major Dorian is still alive, and is still aboard the Galactica, as unlikely as that may have seemed a centar ago.”
“Well, then I had better get back to work,” she said, reaching for her jacket. “There’s a lot of stuff that still needs to be tracked down, and if I…”
“If I might have a word or two,” said Doctor Salik. “Lieutenant, you have had a blow to the head. A serious one.”
“I feel fine,” she shrugged.
“Perhaps, but feel and are can be two different things in medicine. While I see no signs of one yet, you could still develop a hematoma at the site of the injury, and that wouldn’t be good. So…”
“No buts. You are staying the night right here, for observation, Lieutenant.” She opened her mouth. “Medical order.”
“Arrrrrrrrrrrr!!!” she snarled, and sat down. She glared at Apollo, and turned away.
“Sheba,” Apollo started. Why did he suddenly feel like he was having an argument with a six yahren old boy? I’ll wager a secton’s pay Cain was like this as a kid! “Would you look at me?”
Sheba sighed loudly and turned around to consider him, eyes wide and glaring. Her head was throbbing despite her assurances to the contrary. Frack, why did this felgercarb always seem to happen to her? She had been injured too frequently lately and it was obviously making Apollo feel protective. Lords of Kobol, how wonderfully male of him! Well, she was an adult and didn’t need anyone molly-coddling her. Not even Apollo, and definitely not in a professional capacity! “Fine. I’m looking at you.”
“Sheba, for Sagan’s Sake, you’re acting like Boxey!” Apollo snapped, instantly regretting it. The stress of the situation was getting to him. Not only was his father up on charges for termination, but also someone had just throttled his fiancée after attempting to put a dent in her skull. Luckily, her head was as hard as rock, which was becoming abundantly clear to him.
“Really?” she drawled dangerously as her eyes narrowed and her teeth clenched. “Well, thanks a lot for bringing that to my attention! I can’t begin to tell you how much that helps.” She watched as he rolled his eyes in frustration. “Look, Apollo, I’m an adult and I don’t need you or anyone else telling me how I should behave. I’ve actually managed to conduct myself appropriately for quite some time now without anyone else’s supervision.”
“Uh, excuse me,” Dr. Salik muttered uncomfortable as he gave Apollo a sympathetic glance and hurried away.
Apollo looked around to notice all eyes in the Life Station upon them. “Sheba, could we do this later . . . maybe in private,” he muttered quietly, trying to minimize the attention that was on them.
Lords, raising her must have been fun!
Sheba snorted. How just like a man! Just as things start to come to a head, he was clamming up! She looked over to see Cassiopeia looking at her in sympathy. Well, it was good to see someone was on her side. “Let’s just get this straight, Apollo,” Sheba lowered her voice. “You may think I’m acting like Boxey, but that does not give you the right to treat me like a disobedient child!” As she spoke, she could feel her anger rising, not dissipating as she had expected. Lords, she just had so much tension inside her she felt like a rubber band that was about to snap!
Apollo just stared at her. He tried to remember that she had just been in a life-threatening situation and that this could possibly be shock . . . or genetics! He ground his teeth together and exhaled slowly as he watched her glaring at him. Lords, how could a Strike Captain and a decorated leader of men be struck dumb by the insinuations of one furious female? He finally realized that they both were doing a very good
imitation of a couple of quarreling children He noticed Giles had entered the Life Station and was watching them curiously. What the frack was he up to?
“Hello!! Are you listening to me??” Sheba asked in frustration as she caught him gazing intently across the Life Station. She turned to see a flustered Giles staring back looking entirely too guilty for some reason.
“Sheba, don’t take this the wrong way, please, don’t take this the wrong way . . . “ Apollo was trying to remember just how this argument had started. “I’m just concerned about you . . . I could have lost you . . .permanently.” His eyes pled with her for understanding. Frack, he didn’t want to be doing this at all, never mind here and now.
Something in his face stopped the retort on her lips. Frack, what in Hades was she doing? At a time they should be clinging together for support she was tearing them apart with petty accusations based on stress, frustration . . . and one Hades of a headache. Lords, she was supposed to be setting an example for Boxey in the future. Some ‘mother’ she was going to be. She closed her eyes.
“Sheba,” Apollo whispered tentatively.
She took another deep breath. When she opened her eyes, the anger was gone, replaced by regret. "Apollo, I'm sorry . . . Sometimes, I’m such a bovine-headed, rock-brained…"
“And the Cylons know it, and tremble!’ he smiled.
“Thanks, Apollo,” she laughed.
“I’ve got you,” Apollo murmured quietly. He smiled his thanks to Cassiopeia as the med tech pulled a curtain around them for privacy. “And I’ll never let go.”
“…eighty, ninety, a hundred,” said Starbuck, as the cubits clinked into Giles outstretched hand. “Lucky daggit!”
“Must be the company I keep,” said the other.
While Sheba remained under Salik’s watchful eye for the moment, Apollo headed out to follow up the various leads. With Sheba out of action for the moment, he decided he needed some help. Who? He considered Starbuck, someone who knew more than he ought to about finding things out. But the Lieutenant was still under disciplinary restrictions, and unless there were a sudden full-scale attack, he did not want to go against Colonel Tigh’s orders in that regard. Athena? She certainly had reason to want to help clear their father, but she was still assigned to bridge duty, and despite everything, something buried deep his atavistic self was reluctant to involve a woman, any woman, in something so risky. After all, whoever it was had tried to erase Sheba, and damn nearly succeeded; they would hardly balk at removing Athena as well, should she suddenly become an irritant. And, were Adama to lose another of his children, Apollo doubted if he’d ever really recover.
Of course! Boomer. He was an electronics genius, and knew almost as much about how to really search a data bank as Corporal Komma did. He was also one of the trustworthiest of people, whose loyalty to Adama approached near-religious zeal. Yeah, Boomer would do just fine.
“Okay, so,” said Apollo, as he walked the corridor to the computer room along with Boomer and Athena, “I need everything you can possibly dig out of those data banks.” He handed Boomer Sheba’s data chip. “Cross-checks, personnel records, medical data, anything and everything, the works.”
“You got it,” said Athena, smiling her “I got you” smile at her brother. “We’ll find everything you need to clear Father, Apollo. Tell him I’ll visit as soon as I can.”
“I will,” said Apollo. They came to the computer room, and she took the chip from Boomer’s hand, and sailed inside. Boomer stopped, and looked at Apollo.
“And I am needed why?” he asked, hands on hips, and the two old comrades smiled.
“Harder to keep away than a tigron from fresh meat,” said Apollo.
“I heard that!” came a shout from within.
The genetic evidence was ready, and Apollo tried to understand all the technobabble Medtech Waheeb was shooting his way. Plainly put, they had been able to boost enough of the remaining material in the cells found in the smudged print to get a profile.
“As you can see, Captain, we managed to get a full profile of this person’s DNA. Both nuclear and mitochondrial. It was a man, and from the scans, beyond question he was Sagittarian in origin.”
“Any identity, yet?”
“No, sir. However, the data banks retain a vast catalogue of genetic profiles. We keep them for purposes of post-combat identification of the dead, in the event a body should be unrecognizable, or incomplete. However,” Waheeb looked back up at the monitor, “this fellow was never a Viper pilot. I can tell you that much.”
“How can you tell that from a gene scan?” asked Apollo, eyebrows furrowed. He looked from Waheeb back at the screen.
“Here,” said Waheeb, pointing to part of the graphic. None of it made the slightest sense to Apollo, but obviously Waheeb was reading it like a book. “The owner of this particular DNA was colorblind, Captain.”
“Completely. Utterly unable to perceive colors, the way you and I do.” He pointed to a small something-or-other on a screen. “This is the X chromosome, and the photopigment genes lie in a head to tail tandem array on the q-arm of the X-chromosome. Our patient seems to have a substitution of amino acids in the codons, similar to the L1M2 hybrid…”
“Please, Tech. None of this means a thing to me. Simply put, you are saying what?”
“Simply put,” said Waheeb, a bit deflated at having his lecture curtailed, “he couldn’t see any color at all, the rarest form of the disease. As you know, that would disqualify a person from Viper pilot training, as well as most other military functions. It can be cured, now. A new gene replacement therapy became available, a few yahrens before the Holocaust. But given the date of this sample? Our mystery man never served a day aboard any military vessel or base. Not in any regular military capacity, at any rate, Captain.”
“Which will make him a whole lot harder to pin down,” said Apollo. “What else did you find?” He indicated the screen.
“From the state of the telomeres on the chromosome ends, he was reasonably young. No more than forty, Captain.”
“The telo…uh, yeah. Anything else?”
“Well, he had albinism.”
“Albinism? He was white?”
“As the driven snow. No pigment in his skin, and his eyes would have been white as well. He also carried a recessive gene for Pelion’s Syndrome. That’s a serious respiratory illness affecting newborns. But he didn’t suffer from it. He was just a carrier.”
“Well, we’ve got to search anyway, Tech. Run him thorough the database regardless. And we don’t have a lot of time, remember.”
“I understand sir. The Commander doesn’t really have the flu sir, does he?” Apollo turned, and glared at the other fellow.
“No one from here has been to see him, sir. Unusual in a patient with Sagittarian Flu, given the possible complications in a man the Commander’s age. Besides, we hear things, even down here, Captain,” said Waheeb, dropping his voice very low. “Don’t worry; my medical oath extends to this as well.”
“Thanks, Tech.” Apollo visibly relaxed.
“Waheeb. And call me if you get anything. No matter the centar.”
“You can count on it, Captain.”
Armed with this new evidence, Apollo informed Athena and Boomer of what Medtech Waheeb had uncovered. Someone as different as the mysterious man surely must have been would have stood out anywhere.
He also found a clue in regards to Sheba’s attacker. A complete inventory check had turned up one laser pistol missing from the arsenals and unaccounted for. The number of people with access to the lockers was limited, and a search of the logs was in progress. A pilot’s jacket was also found, dumped in a storage closet, one deck above the barracks where Sheba had been attacked. It was being examined, but so far it was as clean as they come. The helmet’s location was still unknown.
Apollo checked his chrono; he had twenty-nine centars to go, before the Tribunal must convene, and the whole ugly mess would become a matter for public scrutiny. While he knew beyond all doubt his father to be innocent, he also knew that the law would, and indeed must, take its predetermined course. If only he could get a continuance. A brief one, to give himself and his team more time to dig up what was turning out to be a very confusing mass of data. Continuances were rare, but not unheard of, “in extraordinary circumstances” in Colonial jurisprudence. Moreover, he could argue that trying to collect meaningful data from a crime scene after a nearly thirty-yahren delay was quite “extraordinary”.
He checked in with Sire Solon, and learned that Sire Memnon, a long-retired member of the Arean Senate as well as a highly respected former Supreme Tribunal jurist of enormous experience, had been approached, and had said that he would agree to act as Chief Magistrate in this case. It was a good choice, Apollo decided. No one on the Council could in all probity do so, since they were either friends (or enemies) of Adama, and Solon had flatly refused to even consider Colonel Tigh for the position. Memnon was well known for his conscientiousness, and utter fairness, and had the added benefit of having never met Adama. No one objected to his appointment.
Thing was, would he agree to grant Apollo more time?
“I think my eyes are going to shrivel up if I have to stare at this screen for much longer,” said Boomer, as the data scrolled by.
“Mine too, but we can’t stop, Boomer.”
“I have some eye drops,” said Komma, suddenly hovering near. Athena just scowled at him, and the Corporal moved away.
“The evidence to clear father is in here,” she continued. “We just have to dig it out.”
“I just hope we dig it out in time, Athena.” She turned to scowl at him. “Sorry, but you know what I meant.”
“I know. I didn’t mean to glower.” She turned back to the equipment. “Ah.”
“Maybe. From what I remember at the Academy, those Intel creeps tended to work in pairs, Boomer. Major Dorian must have had someone assigned to work with him on his investigations.”
“Yeah, I remember that, too. Good idea.”
And here…yes. Here we have a list of them.” She pointed to the screen, and there were displayed several faces. She squinted, studying the fine print. During his career with the Thirteenth Directorate, Major Dorian had had four “assistants”. The first two, a Lieutenant Norton, and a Sergeant Validus, were deceased. The third, a Lieutenant Tabor, was listed as “whereabouts unknown”, the fourth, a Lieutenant Abe, was listed as retired, and was not among the survivors of the Holocaust.
“The first died of natural causes, the second in a hovermobile accident about thirty yahrens ago,” said Boomer.
“Sounds like being around this guy was none too healthy,” observed Athena. “Two dead, one missing. Doesn’t sound like someone I’d want in my barracks.”
“Same here.” Boomer scrolled a little further. “Okay, now we try and correlate them against who was on the Galactica that day. We need their photos, hon.”
“No sooner said than done, Boomer,” smiled Athena, and returned her attention to the keyboard.
“A continuance?” said Sire Memnon, seated across from Apollo in the small office Solon had provided him for the duration.
“Yes, Sire. I am formally requesting an extension of the time until the Tribunal convenes.”
“You must realize, Captain Apollo, that in order for me to permit such a thing, you would have to present compelling evidence to justify this departure from long-established legal procedure.” The old man, skin like parchment and obviously frail, leaned across the table, hands folded, and locked gaze with Apollo. “Are you prepared to submit such evidence, Captain?”
“I am, Your Honor,” replied Apollo, and began to unfold his material. He went slowly, remembering that this sort of battle wasn’t like being in a cockpit, where actions and decisions could mean that lives hung upon the merest of microns. On this battlefield, it was the clash of slow and reasoned arguments, supported with information presented in accordance with strict and narrow rules of engagement. One had to think, to reason with a complexity rarely seen in brute-force military engagements, and from the first few words, Apollo understood that Sire Memnon might be old, but his mind had certainly lost none of the razor-sharp perception that had both outwitted many a political foe, and had made him a legal legend.
“I must protest,” said Sire Solon, looking at a hardcopy of Apollo’s material. “By your own data, the blood splatter found on Major Dorian’s uniform matches the Commander’s genetic profile, Captain. And the fingerprint that was found on his ID pad was deemed unidentifiable. Nothing you’ve shown me in here justifies a call for more time, Captain Apollo.”
“But the genetic material found in the epithelial cells in that print was not Commander Adama’s, Sire Solon,” replied Apollo. “And it overlay the Commander’s fingerprints.”
“Most likely, Major Dorian touched it again before he died, Captain.”
“Not at all, Sire.”
“Please, Captain,” said Memnon, eyes keen as he looked at the Strike Captain, “explain your reasoning.”
“Simply this, Sire.” For a moment, Apollo felt like he was back at the Academy, taking his first oral examination. He’d sweated like mad then, and was doing so now. He picked up a data chip on the Sire’s desk with his right hand. “The thumbprint found on the pad was left by a right thumb. According to records, Major Dorian was left-handed.” Memnon’s eyebrows went up a notch. “Also, the pad was found in his belt pouch, as if he had returned it there. Commander Adama says he tossed it onto Major Dorian as he lay on the deck.”
“Well, as the accused, he would naturally say that,” offered Solon. “Besides, after so many yahrens…”
“Yes, but, Sire, even if Major Dorian had used his right hand to return the pad to his belt, why would he have held it like this?” Apollo demonstrated, trying to slide the chip into his own belt, with his hand turned round. “It’s difficult, so why even try? But, if the pad was put back, by someone holding it this way,” and he turned it around, sliding it into his belt, thumb inwards, “then the print would have been Major Dorian’s, as would the DNA found in it, sir.” He set the chip back on the desk. Sire Memnon looked from the chip, to Apollo, then back to the hardcopy.
“And you believe you can find this person, given more time, Captain?” asked the old jurist.
“I do, Sire. Searching all those records is time-consuming, however, and my co-council is in Life Station at the moment.” He explained the attack on Sheba. “So you see, I am convinced, Sire Memnon, that the killer of Major Dorian is both still alive, and still aboard the Galactica”.
“I see,” said the Sire, leaning back and considering. After a few moments: “And there is no sign of her attacker as yet?”
“None, Sire. We found a stolen uniform jacket dumped in a storage closet, and a laser pistol is still missing from the inventory.”
“Sire Memnon,” began Solon, but the old jurist raised a hand. He continued to think in silence, sparing a glance at the data from time to time.
“Yes?” he said at last, to Solon.
“Sire, we have no proof this attack upon Lieutenant Sheba is in any way related to Captain Apollo’s defense of the Commander.”
“No other circumstance explains the attack upon her person,” interjected Apollo, growing annoyed with Solon, and trying not to show it. “It is pushing the boundaries of belief to suggest it is somehow co-incidental, Sire.”
“Perhaps, Captain, but it is a tenuous argument, nonetheless. And there is no precedent for a continuance, based on the genetic evidence. In fact…”
“There I must correct you, Sire Solon,” said the older man. “Check your legal history. On Ares, Hue-Fe vs. Theron, one of the most celebrated trials of the year 7289. Indeed, that entire century. A continuance was granted to the defense, over the vociferous objections of a young, somewhat full-of-himself young Assistant Opposer, on his first case, who objected to the admission of the genetic evidence in that trial, also one of willful termination. He was overruled by the Senior Magistrate in that case, Sire Solon.” Memnon took a breath, and was quiet for several moments. “As you are, now.” He turned to Apollo. “Captain, I am going to grant your request for a continuance in this case, to pursue the evidence as you think best aids your client.” Apollo almost visibly slumped, letting out a deep breath. “However,” added the other, extending a finger to make a point, “as there is no precedent whatsoever for a continuance longer than an extra forty-eight centars, I shall not deign to create such a precedent. You shall enjoy no greater time here. You have forty-eight extra centars, Captain. Not a single centon more. Am I clear?”
“Yes, Sire. Quite.”
“Excellent, Captain. “Use them wisely.”
“My thanks, Sire Memnon,” said Apollo, rising. “I know we can show the Commander’s total innocence in this case.”
“I trust so, Captain. Given all he has done for our people, it would be indeed tragic to see such a man destroyed.”
“Yes, Sire. I agree completely.” Apollo gathered up his material, and left the Sire’s office.
“Well, Solon,” said Memnon, when they were alone, “you disagree? You think I ruled in error?”
“I would not have ruled so,” replied Solon, with a long sigh. “I don’t think anyone, regardless of their status, should be allowed an exception.”
“Not even the Commander?”
“No one is above the law, Sire Memnon,”
“Nor should they be, Solon. But this is a nearly thirty-yahren-old case. The principles are not going anywhere, given our situation. And while I have never met Commander Adama, I realize what a potentially divisive blow to our people’s morale his conviction for termination would be.” He took a long breath. “I may be old, Solon, but even I have heard tales of what goes on, both in and out of Council meetings. That young serpent Antipas would sell out his own mother to the slavers on Cordugo Pit for the sake of sating his own ambition, and the Commander being destroyed like this would give him, and those who follow him, the very spade they need with which to bury Adama. If at all possible, within the bounds of law, I will do nothing to help bring about what could rip our fragile unity to shreds, Solon.”
“I see, Sire Memnon. I understand your reasoning, though…well, I must say I can’t find a flaw in it. And while I have a job to do, I will admit that this is one case I would not mind losing.”
“You should never say that to the Magistrate,” replied Memnon with a barely perceptible smile, shaking a finger admonishingly. “I shall expect you to pursue this case with all the vigor which it calls for, if it comes to Tribunal.”
“And I fully intend to, Sire.” Solon rose, gathering up his papers. At the door, he turned back. “Sire?”
“Just who was that ‘young, somewhat full-of-himself young Assistant Opposer, on his first case’ that you mentioned?”
“Really, Sire Solon,” smiled Memnon. “You expect an old man to remember things that far back?”
“Of course,” Solon smiled back, and left the room.
Almost as soon as he had left Sire Solon’s office, Apollo got a break. Or rather it had seemed so at first. The missing laser had been traced to Flight Sergeant Oswy; his ID number had been used to access the arms locker from which the weapon had been removed. However, it turned out to be a dead end. Not only did a double scan of the logs reveal the time-codes had been tampered with, thus confusing the trail, at the time the laser in question had actually been removed, Oswy had been out on patrol with Greenbean, and had been for over a centar. Nevertheless, Apollo called him down to his office, and checked his weapon, as a matter of routine. The serial numbers weren’t even close, and the one Oswy was wearing was in fact the one originally issued to him when he’s been accepted by the Service.
“Any idea who might be using your ID number, Flight Sergeant?” asked Apollo, handing the weapon back to the younger pilot.
“None, sir,” replied the other, reholstering the laser.” As per regs, I’ve never given my ID number out to anyone. Of course, it’s in the computer, along with everyone else’s, Captain.”
“I know. Well, that’s all, Flight Sergeant,” said Apollo. “Dismissed.”
“Sir,” saluted the other smartly, and left Apollo’s office. Once alone, Apollo leaned back, rubbing his eyes, and went over all the data he had so far. Twice.
It’s in here! I know it is! It has to be! I’m as blind as a newborn daggit! Someone used Oswy’s number to steal a weapon, then tried to alter the records. Who in Hades…
“Captain Apollo,” came a voice over his telecom. He answered it so fast he nearly broke it off the mount.
“Technician Hummer here, sir. Could you come to the lab? I think I may have found something.”
“Whaddya got?” asked Apollo, as he turboed into the lab. As usual, the young tech was completely deaf to him, ears plugged with his horrid choice in music, chewing gum. “HELLO???” he yelled at last, gripping the other’s shoulder.
“Oh, Captain. Yes. I finally found something on that jacket you brought me. The one Lieutenant Sheba’s attacker was wearing when she was assaulted.”
“And?” he asked, almost breathless from the tension.
“Okay, I scanned it at first for all of the usual things. Blood, hair, skin, blah blah blah. Zilch on that stuff. Not even a speck from the Lieutenant herself, which was kinda weird. I mean, if this was the attacker’s jacket, then he was one lucky son of a…”
“Okay, it didn’t have certain things on it,” said Apollo, trying to keep both his temper even, and his voice down. “So what in Hades Hole did it have, Tech?”
“Well, when it turned up clean for all the stuff that shouldn’t have been there, I went looking for what should have been there.”
“Meaning?” wheezed Apollo, like an annoyed dragon.
“Meaning, I found this.” Hummer pressed a key, and something came up on one of his monitors. It was a graphic representation of some kind of molecule. Apollo leaned closer, squinting to read the tiny print next to it.
“Yup. Tylium, Captain. A tiny stain, on the left sleeve. More like a smear, really. The difference, actually, is…”
“A Viper pilot might have tylium on their clothes, Technician. How…”
“You are so right, Captain, so I ran a series of spectral and molecular analyses. This tylium is fresh. It comes from the stuff we found and refined back in the Ki system. There were some odd impurities in the ore, that set it apart from what we used to mine back home, or even from the stuff we got from Gamoray. Some traces remain in the refined fuel; we’re talking in the PPB range here. In addition, there’s too much of it for a random contact any Viper pilot might accidentally get on their uniform.”
“ ‘PPB range’?” he asked, sighing loudly.
“Parts per billion, Captain.” Hummer put his thumb and forefinger close together. “Like we’re talking really tiny tiny stuff. And, before you start drowning me in flowers and accolades, there is also this.” He switched views. This time, the scanner was zooming in on a piece of fabric, the magnification running higher and higher.
“And that is?” asked Apollo, rapping his fingers rhythmically on the counter much too loudly.
“Grease, Captain. In actuality, Type VI Polylubrisol-Beta. Industrial grade lubricant. Manufactured by the Trans-Colonial Chemical Company, and never sold commercially.” Apollo opened his mouth, but Hummer was faster. “And I checked. The only use for this particular lubricant aboard the Galactica is on Viper and shuttle landing gear. This is highly toxic crud, Captain. It’s used only down in the maintenance bays, where the shuttles and fighters are serviced. In fact, engineering regs specifically forbid bringing it into any other part of the ship.”
“You got it, Captain. Our perp has been mucking around in the undercarriage of fighters and shuttles. And not too long ago, either, from the state these samples were in.”
“But mechanics and service techs don’t wear pilot uniforms,” said Apollo.
“I can’t help that, Captain. I can only go where the evidence takes me. He stole it from one of the pilots, swiped it from the laundry. Whatever. But he had traces of those compounds on his skin or other clothing when he put the jacket on.”
“We have over a hundred technical support personnel aboard the Galactica, serving in both the bays and ship’s maintenance. Did you find anything we can use for a biological trace?” Apollo asked hopefully.
“Sorry, Captain. Aside from this stuff, the jacket was clean as a whistle. Like I said, this guy was one lucky perp.”
“Thanks, Hummer,” said Apollo, then he broke into a massive yawn. He looked at his chrono. Lords, had it been that long since he’d had any sleep? He yawned again. “Oh, sorry.”
“No prob, Captain. Maybe you ought to go hit the hay.”
“Oh, right. Colloquial expression from home. Get some sleep.”
“Maybe I should, Technician. Okay, you keep at that jacket. You found that stuff,” he pointed at the monitors, “maybe you’ll find something more personal.”
“Lords willin’ and the crick don’t rise, Captain,” replied the other. In a heartbeat, he had the earphones back on, and was bent over the jacket as if it was some ancient Holy Text. Apollo shook his head, and left the younger man to his arcane work. Once out in the corridor, he yawned again. Damn! All he needed was to get tired, and maybe miss something. He checked in with his “staff”, brought them up to speed, then headed towards his quarters. Maybe a short rest period would help his brain work a bit better.
“Hiya, Dad!” chirped Boxey, as he entered the cramped quarters he shared with the boy. Boxey had been reading, and slid off the old worn sofa, open book falling to the floor, to run and embrace him. “What’s going on? I haven’t seen you all day.”
“Well, I’ve been busy, Boxey. Lots to do, uh, with this new region of space we’re moving through, plus the new Warrior recruits that have to be supervised and all.”
“I thought Starbuck was doing that, Dad,” replied Boxey.
“Reeererp!” said Muffit.
“You stay out of this.’
“Is this because of that old skeleton they found down inside the ship?” asked Boxey bluntly. Something in his tone, and gaze, reminded Apollo of Serina.
I think he inherited all her journalator genes. Lords, I hope that nothing of Anglin’s…
“Where did you hear about that, Boxey?”
“In instructional period. Several of the kids were talking about it. They said you were down there with Grandpa when it was found.”
“Well, uh, yes, Boxey. I was, but you shouldn’t be talking to people about that. It’s something we’re still…looking into. And it has to be kept as quiet as possible.”
Oh yeah. Journalator for sure.
“Well…because some people…might try and use what has been found as a way to hurt other people.”
“But how? It’s just a bunch of old bones, isn’t it?”
Lords, how do I lie to Boxey? Serina…
“Yes, but they’re the bones of someone who was…important a long time ago. And we have to find out all we can about them and how they got into the void, before we can go around listening to or spreading rumors, Boxey.” The boy seemed deflated somewhat, and Apollo felt a stab to the heart. Then, as if in answer to prayer, a sudden thought sparked to life in Apollo’s mind. “Boxey,” he said, settling them both onto the couch, “remember how your mom used to interview people, and report the latest news, back on Caprica?”
“Yeah. She was the best journalator the Network had,” he answered with pride. “She was on the Vidnet the night…the night the Cylons came.”
“Right. And you remember how, sometimes she would wait to reveal a story, until she had all the facts correct, and was sure there were no mistakes?”
“Well, kinda. I was little then, but sorta.”
“This case is kind of like that, Boxey. Before we can talk about it very much, we have to do like mom did. Investigate. Make sure we have all the facts, and that innocent people won’t be hurt by the truth coming out.”
“You mean I could hurt Gr…people, if I talk too much?”
“Yes it could hurt people, Boxey.”
“Like…like Grandpa?” Boxey looked at him with pained eyes.
“Yes, Boxey. Like Grandpa.” Obviously, someone somewhere had a big fat mouth. “So you can’t go around talking about it. Not to anyone. Okay?”
“Yes, sir. I’ll be just like mom, and wait till we get the truth.”
“Good kid,” said Apollo, feeling enormous relief flood him inside. Once more, he’d managed to leap the hurdle of parenthood without making a complete mess of things. He looked up at the ceiling, and sent Serina a silent Thank-you! “Now, did you eat?”
“Not yet. I was waiting for you.”
“Okay, kid. Let’s grab a bite.” Apollo got up, went to his tiny kitchenette, and made dinner. Then, they both settled onto the sofa, and Apollo picked up Boxey’s book. It was The Book Of The Word. Well, that boded well, he decided, if the boy was interested in the Faith and beliefs of his people. “Okay, whatcha been reading, eh kid?” He peered closer…
“It was great, Dad. The part where this General, back on Kobol, the one who looks kind of like Starbuck, kills this Prince, so he and the Prince’s wife can run off, and…”
“Uhh, Boxey, maybe we…should discuss a few things. You know, a nice long talk?” He set the book discreetly off to one side. Boxey picked it up again.
“You mean like all the parts in there about sex?”
Oh, Serina….Yeah, a looooong talk.
Within a half centar, both he and Boxey were fast asleep on the sofa.
Until a loud explosion rudely woke them up sometime in the night
"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.