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Hush

By Super Lizard

Word Count: 8,801
Date: 02/13/05
Series:
Rating: T
Category: Action
Pairing/Focus: William / Lee / Kara
Warnings:
Summary:
Spoilers/Disclaimers: season One / I don’t own much. Sue if you wanna. All original content copyright me. If you want to use the lullaby, ask me first, please.


Hush

Hush little child,

Don't shed a tear,

Your husher is by, now,

Husher's here.

But if against me you will fly,

Husher's gonna sing you a lullaby.

“Old man,” his voice growled across his quarters softly. “That’s what they call me, now days.” Commander Adama hadn’t meant to growl, per say, but his voice tended to come out as a growl no matter what he did. At one point he had worried that he was going to lose it for awhile, but that point had passed several years ago, and he was still speaking.

Colonel Tigh nodded quietly, seated near the table with a short, stemless glass of water in his hand. He was currently swirling the water around tiredly. “They’ve been calling you that for a long time. It’s a term of endearment.”

Adama moved to sit at the other side of the table. He settled with a slight exhale and leaned back against the seat. “But I never felt old, before.”

Tigh didn’t have to ask when ‘before’ was. He grunted an ambiguous reply and finished his water. He set the glass down with a resounding click. “We’re all tired, Will, don’t let it get to you.”

He mulled over his own thoughts for a moment before responding with a quiet, non-committal, “yeah.”

“You’re way too tense, you know that?” Tigh told him, voice louder and more resolute. “You oughta see if you can’t get that Roslin woman to give you a back massage.” Adama nearly choked on his own glass of water. After a few coughs, he stared in near-shock at Tigh, and began to laugh. Tigh grinned toothily back at him, then patted the table with one palm and stood. “I’m going to catch some sleep while the hunting’s good. You do the same eventually, you hear? I don’t want to have to do that whole saving humanity bit. Too much for this old warhorse to handle.”

Adama subdued his tired laughing fit and stood as well. “I hear. Get outta here.” He followed the executive officer to the door and saw him out.

The door closed with a resounding click.

He sighed and ambled over to his sleeping quarters, where he sat and removed his shoes. Idly, he ran his hand over the spot in the back of each heel where the standard-issue black patent shoes had worn against his skin and left a thick callous. He placed the shoes carefully by; the soles against the floor hit with a resounding click. He took to removing his day uniform and settling for the night. He moved to his bed, and sat on the side with a tired slowness. He let loose a long sigh of weariness; he moved his frame onto his bed and took a good long few moments settling. He pulled a blanket over himself. He reached over and shut off the lights with a resounding click.

The room went dark. No light at all found its way to his closed eyelids, not from an alarm clock or a floor light or the function light of any electric device. He didn’t notice when he finally fell asleep. But he did notice one final, resounding, click.

Chapter Two

Crack.

Lee Adama stood outside the door; he’d knocked several times in the quiet, studious way appropriate for summoning a commanding officer to the door, but finally he’d gotten fed up and pounded his fist into the door. For all the umph he’d put behind the blow, all it did was make a resounding click. He growled to himself in annoyance, and resolved to come back in the morning. On his way back towards his own quarters, through the metallic maze that was the Galactica, he passed Colonel Tigh. “Colonel, sir.” He stopped a few paces away from the colonel and snapped to attention, giving him a sharp salute.

Tigh returned the salute, slightly puzzled. “Captain Adama.”

“Have you seen the Commander lately? He doesn’t seem to be in his quarters.”

The colonel nodded. “I met with him in his quarters less than a half hour ago. He was on his way to sleep; maybe he didn’t hear you at the door.”

Lee tilted his head back a little in understanding. “Thank you. I won’t disturb him.”

“Yeah, the old man’s been having a bit of a rough week.”

Lee smirked, and then almost giggled. “Rough week. Right. Rough couple of weeks. Rough forever.”

“Well, it is the end of the world as we know it,” Tigh almost smirked back, but his tone was more than enough to indicate the joke. “I’ll see you some other time, Captain; the bunk is calling me with a vengeance.”

“Alright. Good night, Colonel.” They traded sloppy salutes and continued on their separate ways.

Lee wandered down the corridors a little further before reaching his own quarters; on a whim, he continued on around the corner and a ways around to the infirmary to visit his most disobedient and definitely the luckiest of his pilots. He peered around the corner of the infirmary before entering, dodging various doctors and medical staff rushing around on their own business. Carefully he crept over to Kara Thrace’s curtained space.

“FortheloveofthelordsIamSOgladyou’rehere,” she exclaimed all at once. “I’ve been so BORED. I need to kill something.”

Lee laughed a bit. “Hey, wait until after you’re released.”

She sneered good-naturedly and twisted part of the starched white sheets around in one hand while gesturing with the other. “Released? Whatever. I’m going to be here until the Cylons come calling. Doc says I can’t walk on this knee for a long time, and he doesn’t trust me to take care of it on my own.”

He almost laughed again, but quashed it in time to prevent an angry glare from Kara.

“I may as well start marking my territory on the curtains.”

Lee grinned and chuckled slightly. “That may be a bit of a health hazard.”

“Blargh!” She growled again, sitting back against the wall of overly-puffy white infirmary pillows.

“I’ll bring you a book,” he offered.

“That’s the old man’s domain, Apollo, I don’t read,” she replied. “He offered the same thing, though.” She wrinkled up her eyebrows and smushing up her face. “You know, you should try reading ‘Foole Upon Foole,’ it’s about people like you, going and getting yourself shot down like that.”

Lee chuckled again. “Could be worse.”

“Oh really?” she asked sarcastically. “Do tell, because I’d be absolutely thrilled to hear how it could possibly get any worse.”

He tipped his head to the side momentarily and dragged a chair over to her bedside. “Alright, you asked for it.”

“Hurray,” she drawled. “Story time.”

“Quiet down. Back when I was in fourth grade, I was really into baseball. I knew all the teams and who played for who, and what their records were. But here’s the thing—I learned all this by sneaking into the attic and reading through all of Dad’s cards and magazines on the subject. He used to play for the Taurian team.”

“Tauria? But the Galatica is a Caprican ship.”

“Shut up and let me finish the story.”

“Yes, sir.”

Lee scowled a moment, then continued. “Dad was born on Caprica. My grandfather moved them because of the job opportunities there; he designed planes. When the market for planes that just flew in the atmosphere bottomed out, he joined the military to support his family. Grandpa never really liked it, but Dad was all about it. He enlisted when he was seventeen, and played for the baseball team there. When he was twenty, they transferred him back to Caprica.”

Kara nodded. “And that’s where he met your mom and they got married and had two beautiful children, yada yada yada.”

“Right. But he never even mentioned baseball again. They put him on the Galactica when I was about five years old, so all I ever heard about William Adama the Pitcher was from our neighbours on the base in Caprica. Apparently, he’d become a bit of a legend amongst the military’s teams. The civilian big leagues never heard of him, but the military tends to be a little isolationist. So anyway, I was playing a game with the neighbour kids, and a friend of mine’s dad came to watch us and pulled us aside after the game. He was like, ‘You’re Husher’s kid, ain’t ya?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, Husher’s my dad!’ and he kinda stared at me, then nodded and said, ‘You’ve got his arm.’ I asked him what he meant, and he laughed and told me to ask him. He wasn’t around, so I asked mom, and got an abbreviated story from her. I didn’t really worry too much more about it until just before mom and dad got divorced. She was cleaning out the attic and dividing up the stuff that belonged to her and the stuff that belonged to him; I snuck up there after she was done and found a box of old cards and magazines, and… I found Dad’s old glove.” He looked over to Kara, and smiled a bit. She’d fallen asleep somewhere between the game with the neighbour kids and the discovery of the glove. “Goodnight, Starbuck,” he whispered, standing and stretching. His knees popped, then his back.

Then there was a frightening crack.

The lights went out; vital signs monitors stopped beeping, life support stopped working, and the steady, reassuring hum of the Galactica itself ceased. Within moments, the secondary generators for the infirmary were back up, and every other light glowed at half capacity. People were shouting and shuffling around quickly, trying to ascertain what had happened.

Kara was instantly awake, and seized Lee’s sleeve in one hand. “What happened?”

“I don’t know,” he told her truthfully. “I’m going to head up to the CIC and see what’s going on. Stay put.”

“Oh, like hell,” she yanked him back by the sleeve when he attempted to leave. “Get me some crutches. If you’re going to the CIC, I’m going to the flight deck to prep our on-duties.”

“Kara, I can’t let you run off with an injured knee. Don’t worry, right after I find out what’s going on from the Commander, I’ll be on my way to the flight deck.”

She yanked him back again by the sleeve as he again attempted to leave. “If this is an attack, you won’t be on your way because we’ll all be dead. Now, get me some frakking crutches!”

Lee growled, then scanned the room quickly. “I’ll prep the pilots, you head to the CIC, it’ll be safer on your knee. All I see is one crutch, think you can manage with that?” He glanced back at her tooth-baring grimace, and nodded. “Okay, okay—easy there. Balanced? Good.” And he was off.

Lieutenant Thrace took a moment to balance on the crutch then hobbled out of the infirmary, glad to be on her feet and away from the doctors. She passed several harried-looking and crisis-ridden crew members and civilians on her way, one of which was a jumpy, nervous man by the name of Gaius Baltar. Alongside, unbeknownst to the preoccupied crew around her, strode an obscenely tall, perfect blonde woman.

“You never said they were coming,” he hissed at her. “You never warned me about this one.”

“I didn’t know about this one,” she shot back. “This may not even be us. This is the ship’s own malfunction, for all I know.”

He held both his hands to the sides of his head, entwining his fingers in his own hair and gritting his teeth. “So great, after all that work, after all your manipulating, trying to show me the best way to survive, I’m going to die because of some bloody ship malfunction? Is that all? Well, thank you so much for your intervention all those other times, it would have been nice to know all that work meant something!”

Six rolled her eyes. “The best thing you can do now is head back to your quarters and wait there until someone either calls for you, or until this whole thing is sorted out.”

“Yes… I’ll do that…” He stopped in the middle of a busy hall and stared over his shoulder. “Well, where are you going?”

“Ugh,” she replied. “I don’t know. There has got to be someone on this ship who is more fun to haunt than you.”

He muttered to himself in confusion, then power-walked to his quarters and locked the doors.

“Attention all on board,” a voice crackled over the intercom. “Attention all on board. Return to your quarters and turn off all non-vital electrical appliances. Turn off ALL non-vital electrical appliances. Wait for further instructions.”

Baltar recognized the voice as Colonel Tigh’s and vaguely wondered if the Commander was busy in the background, fighting some sort of Cylon attack. He hoped not. He paced up and down in the dark of his quarters for several minutes, unable to see but somehow avoiding all his furniture until—crack. Baltar whined and sank to the ground, rubbing his shin ruefully. “Frakking table.”

Six wandered further than she thought she was able to wander without Baltar. She wandered through the halls and passed the CIC, watching with some interest as the dimly-lit command centre buzzed with people trying to discover the problem.

“Alert me of any, I mean ANY incoming,” Colonel Tigh ordered. “Contact the maintenance crew and engineering; see what they can make of this. Where’s the Commander? Someone ring up the Commander and make sure he’s awake and moving.” He paused where he was, and shivered a bit. “Why’s it so damn cold?”

“Life support has failed,” Lieutenant Gaeta reported. “The heating systems are offline. All our heat will vent into space if we don’t get the heaters going again.”

“How long do we have before it drops to below human tolerance?” Tigh asked shortly.

Gaeta tapped a few buttons on the panel near his station. “Six hours from the time of failure.”

“Set me a clock! Patch me through to the main intercom,” Tigh hollered at the crew. He picked up a headset and waited for the standard click to tell him when the line had connected. “Attention all on board, attention. Those of you with outside walls in your quarters, please move to the recreation areas and non-vital offices on the interior of the ship. Bring with you any blankets or battery-operated heaters you can find.” He set the headset down and chewed on the inside of his cheek irritably. Where the frak is the Commander?

Gaeta ripped a printout from the printer at his station and reported, “Sir, there’ve been reports of people locked in their rooms. The electric doors on the officers’ quarters are working, but the locks have malfunctioned.”

“Just officers’ quarters?”

“Yes sir.”

Tigh sighed in annoyance. Well, that explains the Commander.

“Sir!” Lieutenant Thrace entered the CIC, saluted, and hobbled over to Colonel Tigh all at the same time. “What’s going on?”

“Shouldn’t you be in the infirmary?” Tigh berated her.

She grinned, more of a show of teeth than an expression of mirth. “Like hell. What’s going on?”

“We don’t know yet. No explosions were reported, and we’re not under attack.”

She squinted at the back-lit table, currently covered in transparent maps of the Galactica. “Electrical malfunction?”

“Possibly.” He lowered his voice so only she could hear him. “This ship is three days older than dirt, I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.”

“What can I do to help?” she asked amiably.

“Get a couple of the deck crew who know electrics and head over to the officers’ quarters. Start opening doors. I’ve already got Chief Tyrol and a couple of maintenance and engineering checking out the main generators and the battery.” He turned back to Gaeta. “Are engines still functional?”

“Yes, sir. 100 functioning and ready to go.”

“Can we use those to generate heat somehow?” Kara asked hopefully.

Gaeta squinted at his monitor, then wrinkled up his eyebrows in deep thought. “I don’t know, but it’s a good idea.”

Tigh nodded to him. “Start working on some theories. And get engineering on that, too. Lieutenant Thrace, don’t you have orders?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then get out of my CIC and get to work!” he barked.

“Yes, sir!” she saluted and hobbled out as fast as her one crutch could take her.

Colonel Tigh pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. It was going to be a long six hours.

Six, still hovering by the door, watched Lieutenant Thrace hop by, amused by the uneven noise the crutch made on the metal floor. Thump. Thumpthump. Thump.

Chapter Three

Smack

Thump thumpthump thump.

He vaguely remembered hearing his pulse in his ears and a shortness of breath. Then, he was running on a crunchy gravel trail, revelling in the sight of trees and the feel of his running shoes with tiny rocks rattling around in them. The gravel was wet from a recent rain, the smell of which lingered in his nostrils and chilled the air. It was a wonderful morning for a run. The rubberized soles of his shoes hit the ground in a steady, easy rhythm. Smack smack smack smack.

“He’s like a wolf,” he heard a man behind him huffing.

He chuckled. “Try to keep up, Jack.” He could hear the other two behind Jack, a woman named Klare—her callsign was Aunty—and one named Kayleen, callsign Pirate.

Jack responded by huffing even harder and attempting to step up his pace. “Why is it that you’re in such a hurry, anyway? Maybe we should call you Rusher instead.”

“You’ll like this, trust me,” he called over his shoulder. Smack smack smack smack smack.

They were running up a mountain on Caprica. He was twenty-five, maybe twenty-six years old; he couldn’t remember the exact year, but it was some time ago. He was on a camping trip with some of his buddies from the base. Their camp was almost seven miles behind him, and they’d been jogging the whole way—not a big feat for someone in shape, but Jack had been in a paper-pushing job since he got out of the academy.

Smack smack smack smack. They were getting farther up the mountain—he could feel the air becoming colder. Smack smack smack smack. Crack. A twig broke under his shoe.

Smack smack smack smack click click click— The gravel path became a metal flight deck. He was scrambling to his Viper with more speed than he though he was possible. Within seconds he was in the seat, taxiing to a launch tube, then he was in space. The Viper whizzed out along the track into space. The moment after his plane left the main ship, all was silence but for the beat of his heart. Thump thump thump thump.

Someone was screaming in his ears over the radio. “Whoooo, take that, you frakkin’ bastards!”

He laughed to himself and shook his head.

“Yeaaarrrrr!” Pirate hollered, catapulting at a group of raiders with more than a little vigor. “Prepare to meet yer makers, ye scurvy toaster dogs!”

“Flight A, fall back to the Pegasus,” a woman’s voice ordered over the radio. “Flight B arrives in two minutes.”

“Adama, can’t you get ‘em here any faster?” Pirate’s voice chided him. “Aunty and me are the only ones who haven’t sustained any damage—frak. Okay, Aunty is the only one without any damage.”

“Flight B ETA one minute,” he said quietly into the comm. He saw the sparks in the distance; the glow of fire, exploding planes. He turned to the digital clock set in the console on his left. Click click click click click.

“We’re headed for you, Flight B, we have a visual on—what the frak?”

He punched the thruster petal and zipped forward at top speed, against standard operating procedures, straight at Flight A and the pursuing raiders. He shot forward until he was just in front of the raiders, then orchestrated a dead stop, a straight drop, and a ninety degree yaw; he was now alone with the enemy, directly below them, and his targeting system was struggling to catch up. He ignored it and squeezed the trigger.

The ship above him exploded, then the ship above it. He shot forward again, then made a falling left and came up behind the still-surprised raiders. They split into two groups, three to the left and five to the right. He spun right and pursued, knowing the three behind him would be turning to follow him. Voices shouted from the radio frantically.

“What are you doing!”

“You’re in way too close, Adama!”

“You’re using fuel like a mother-frakker, you’ll be dead in space!”

All was noise and chaos. He ignored them; he fired at the raiders. One. Two. Crack. Three. Clickclickclick—pieces of exploded raiders rained on the hatch. He ignored them. Four.

Fire and metal whizzed past his Viper, barely missing. Some shots left burn marks. He made another unexpected dead stop, then yawed another ninety degrees and shot above them. He sailed like an acrobat, rolling, then dove like ghost back among them as they struggled to keep up with his move. He fired at them all on instinct and marksmanship. Five. Six. Thump.

His right wing disappeared into smoke and fire.

“Adama!” a voice shouted frantically.

“No, Captain!”

“Will!”

Seven. He kept firing. Come on, you mother-frakking son of a toaster and an arc-welder.

He jerked to the right, the only direction he could move in freely and, fortunately, the direction of the remaining raider. He felt his engines sputter and die. The raider was coming right at him, and had every advantage over him.

Except blatant audacity.

He fired a shower directly at the raider, refusing to give up.

“Captain!”

“I’m sorry, Will, we can’t—“

“Goodbye, Adama!”

Boom.

“Hush,” he whispered into the comm, more to the pieces of the raider as it exploded than to the screams of the other pilots.

There was the sound of rain on his Viper’s hatch, then silence but for the sound of his own heartbeat. Thump thump thump thump thump thump. He vaguely knew he was supposed to hear the voices of the pilots and his commander over the radio, but he heard nothing. He vaguely knew he was supposed to feel the heat of his stalled engines at his back and the exploded raider over the top of his Viper, but he felt nothing. Only the cold of space.

Thumpthump thump… thump thump thu-thump… He vaguely remembered hearing his pulse in his ears and a shortness of breath.

Lee Adama heard the report of Colonel Tigh over the ship’s communications and ordered the deck crew away from the Vipers and off to help locate the electrical problem. The pilots checked their craft for any malfunction or tampering. Chief Tyrol had taken command of the deck crew with ease given the crisis nature of things. That left him to reorganize. He commandeered Tyrol’s office and dialled up to CIC on the phone there.

“Colonel Tigh,” Tigh’s voice answered back at him.

“Colonel, this is Captain Adama, what’s the situation?”

“Aside from an unknown electrical malfunction? No Cylon attack, no explosion reported, no nothing. The lights went out, but everyone’s still home. Your guess is as good as mine.”

“Did Starbuck make it up there?”

“Yeah, she’s off towards the officer’s quarters to help the crew there knock down some doors.”

“Doors, sir?” Lee wrinkled his eyebrows.

Tigh grunted an affirmative. “Doors. Whatever happened not only knocked out the engines and primary life support, but it shorted out the electronic locks installed on the officer’s quarters.”

Lee thought quickly. “Those locks are the same kind of locks as are on the munitions lockers and for some reason the officer’s mess.”

“Well, at least no one is going to get at any bombs. Or any of the good food, for that matter. Are you free of orders?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Get yourself up to the officer’s quarters and see what you can do there.”

“Yes, sir.”

Click. Tigh and Lee hung up nearly in unison. Lee sprinted out of the office and across the deck, into a corridor, around some quarters, up some stairs, and across several more halls. Before he reached the darkened officer’s corridor, he heard the sound of hot gas torches cutting metal. He slid around the corner and to a stop beside Starbuck. “What’s your status here?”

Kara turned to him and knocked on the metal door. “Frakkin’ doors. We’ve got four open already; two were empty, so we knock first and skip the ones where no one answers.”

“Uh, good. Anything I can do to help?”

She shook her head. “Only two torches, and there’s four of us here already. I sent two lieutenants to start making a list of people in each of the interior rooms we’re evacuating to. See if you can’t help out there.” She shivered. “Damn, it’s cold.”

“I hear that. Did you get to the Commander’s room yet?”

She shook her head again. “Passed it. He didn’t answer, he’s not in his room.”

“Where is he?” he wondered.

She shrugged. “Gotta be up in the CIC by now.”

Lee nodded. “Alright, I’m heading to the evac spaces. Uh, keep up the good work.”

She gave him a nod and turned back to watch as the last edge of a door cut clean. With a mighty thump she pounded the door in with her crutch.

A man sat a little ways from the door, wrapped in blankets and huddled in front of a battery-operated heater.

“Next,” Kara ordered, hobbling over to the next door and giving it a good thumping with her crutch. A second later, another set of thumps answered her.

The torch operator, commandeered from the deck crew, moved to the next door with her, while another man from the team helped the officer in the opened quarters to stand and exit. As the officer unfolded himself and stood, the batteries in the heater went out.

The crewman struck up the torch again and started on the next door. Lieutenant Thrace gazed down the corridor and counted the other doors. Seven more. She turned back to watch the metal melt and separate, the torch working with a hiss.

Chapter Four

Hiss

Hiss. The airlock opened on the Clipper, a large passenger ship designed for a touring band who, luckily, happened to be en route on the day of the Colonial Holocaust. Thirty people disembarked—all members of the non-essential crew of the Galactica. On the orders of Colonel Tigh, with the approval of President Roslin, the non-essential crew had begun to evacuate the Galactica to civilian ships in hope of keeping as many people warm, safe, and breathing as possible while the analysis and repairs were underway.

Colonel Tigh turned from the seventh call to Roslin in three hours to take a report from Gaeta.

“Sir, they’ve found the problem. The output electrical conduit leading out from the converter on the main engines seems to have melted clear through. The melt is outside of the artificial gravity and in the maintenance crawl-space between the ship proper and the engines. It’s difficult to access, but not impossible.”

“Fixable?” Tigh grunted.

“Yes, sir; we’ll be running completely new wires and replacing the casing. We just need the wires.”

“Wires, huh?” he asked, more to himself than to Gaeta. “Put a call out to all fleet ships and see if they have what we need. Call maintenance and Tyrol, have them put together their least claustrophobic crewmen and brief them on the job.” He lifted the phone set back to his ear. “You get all that, Madam President?”

“I heard,” her voice confirmed. “I don’t know what all of it means, but I trust your soldiers to figure it out. Have you located Commander Adama yet?”

Starbuck chose that moment to hobble into the CIC.

Tigh looked at her meaningfully.

She shook her head.

He near growled into the phone. “No. We’re still looking.”

“Could the situation with the electricity be linked with his disappearance?”

“Most likely,” he conceded.

“Do you have any ideas?”

“We don’t guess, sir, we wait until we have evidence.”

There was a moment of quiet, then, “Ah. That’s right. I’m sorry. I’ll have Billy continue looking for space aboard other ships. Call me again in thirty minutes, Colonel.”

“Yes, sir, Madam President.” He hung up and turned to Starbuck. “He wasn’t in his quarters?”

“He… he hasn’t reported here?” She shivered for a moment, more afraid than cold but unwilling to admit it. “We knocked, sir. There was no answer, so we moved on to the next door.”

Tigh ran an open palm over his sparse hair. “Get back there. Open the door of his quarters and investigate, see if you can’t find out where he’s gone off to.”

She made a crooked salute, then hobbled back out of the CIC.

Tigh let his hand down onto the backlit table, over the section of the maps indicating the engines; it landed with a smack. He gritted his teeth and let out a breath with a hiss.

Lee Adama checked with all of the evac spaces to see what the status was; the officer’s mess had been evacuated, as had most of the food service and janitor personnel, to the officer’s gym. The servers and janitors shortly after evacuated to the Clipper. The night shift security set up shop in the officer’s gym, setting out bedrolls and battery-operated heaters. The room stayed at a pleasant 50 degrees; as long as no one opened the door. A crime which Lee committed and was soundly berated for it. Other personnel took up residence in the Enlisted Rec Room, the junior pilot racks, and a few non-essential offices.

He had a copy of their personnel lists, with which he reported back the CIC.

“Colonel, sir,” he entered and saluted simultaneously, and handed the reports to Lieutenant Gaeta.

“Where’s the old man?” Tigh demanded.

“He didn’t report back here?” Lee asked, crestfallen.

Tigh sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. “Not yet. Starbuck is opening the door to his quarters; she’ll try and track him down from there. I just got a report from the Korrigan; they have the cables we need to fix us up. Take as many hands as you need and get to airlock B. Their crew will be here within twenty minutes.”

“Yes, sir,” he replied with a salute, turning on his heel and moving out quickly.

The colonel turned to Gaeta. “Have someone run those against a list of current personnel, and figure out who we’re missing.”

Gaeta raised an eyebrow.

“Besides the Commander,” he amended.

“Gods DAMN it’s cold!” Kara shouted to see if it made her feel any better. It didn’t. Her shout just echoed around the corridor.

The deck crew had taken a few minutes to bundle up in winter gear; their shoes weren’t sticking to the metal floor. Kara had wanted to abandon her crutch long ago, but her hands stuck to the walls when she attempted to steady herself there.

“Shoulda gotten the frakkin’ gloves when I had a chance,” she berated herself, then after a moment, added, “And the coat.”

The torch melted a layer of frost before it even started on the metal.

“I don’t think he’s in there,” one of the extra hands told her. “He’d have made a lot more noise earlier, when he figured out how cold it was getting.”

Kara snorted. “He woulda made a lot more noise when he figured out the electricity was out.”

The extra hand chuckled and nodded. “Lieutenant, you should probably get out of here. We’ll check the room when it’s open, but it’s way too cold for you to be here.”

“If it’s too cold for me, it’s too cold for him,” she replied. “I’m staying until this door is open and this room is checked.”

He nodded. “Alright, sir. Your call.”

She bounced her crutch on the ground in agitation. Thumpthumpthumpthumpthumpthump.

Crack. The first side came free.

Kara shivered.

Airlock B wasn’t very far from the melted conduit; Lee made a note to thank Colonel Tigh for the proximity as he helped to roll the massive spool down the hall. He felt very much like a mouse rolling a spool of thread along in a maze. A section of the crew of the Korrigan, a salvage ship, helped with the grunt work, but they were at a loss once they reached the airlock leading to the maintenance crawlspace.

“We’ll take it from here,” Chief Tyrol told them with amazing calm; he and two others were already geared up with EVA suits and their toolkits. Another crew of three had already disconnected the cables from the converter and begun removing them. The Chief watched out the airlock window as they worked; the only tension he displayed was in the tight clamping of his jaw.

Click click click. The lead of the other team knocked on the airlock door. Tyrol and the other two fastened their helmets, and motioned for Lee and the crew of the Korrigan to back out of the airlock antechamber. Lee pushed the door shut after them.

Tyrol knocked twice on the airlock door; click click: keep clear. He jerked the latch free of the door; with a hiss the airlock opened. The door swung out with the pressure of the air inside, and leaving a walkway free. Tyrol spoke into the radio transmitter in his helmet. “How long is the break?”

“Thirty feet,” the lead of the other team reported. “We removed five feet in either direction of the melted section, just in case of structural damage.”

Tyrol signalled a thank you with one hand, then lent a hand to his two team mates as they unravelled thirty feet of cable and passed it out to the other team. It was damn heavy in the airlock, but once outside the part covered by artificial gravity, it floated as if it were made of nothing. Tyrol motioned to one of his team. Cut it.

She cut the cable where it was, and followed it out of the airlock and off gravity. Tyrol’s crew exchanged places with the maintenance crew, then closed the airlock from the outside. He knocked three times on the airlock door. Click click click: We’re in place. The other team locked the hatch. The antechamber filled with air; hiss.

Tyrol nodded to his crew. They moved forward about ten feet, one by one entering the enclosed crawlspace, the cable toted between them. Tyrol moved in second, knowing he would need a crew mate on either side of him as he worked. Lords, let this work. It’s so frakking cold.

Their workspace was just big enough for them and their toolkits, as if the designers of the battlestar had known that one day, this conduit would burn out exactly where it did, exactly how it did, and it would have to be fixed by exactly three people of exactly their build with exactly the tools they had. Tyrol cursed to himself and used a magnet to anchor himself to the metal behind him. There were four feet between the metal behind him and the end of the cable in front of him, and he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to use all four of them.

He motioned to the man on his left, and received the open end of the cable and a tube of heat-shrink piping with enough diameter to fit easily around him. He pushed the heat-shrink over the existing open end and held the cables together. He nodded to the woman on his right, who anchored a gas tank to the metal behind her, connected it to the arc-welder, connected that to a battery powersource, and set the end to the cable.

Tyrol nodded once, and deemed it okay to use precious battery power on a radio command; “Go.”

She hit the button; the welder expelled heated gas, closing the electrical circuit between the two parts of the cable and the string of metal wire she was using. The electrical current made enough heat to melt the cables together at a pace that Tyrol would best describe as slower than his dead grandmother—if he was in a joking mood.

Lee dismissed the shivering crew of the Korrigan and helped the other team dismantle their EVA suits and stow their tools temporarily along the bulkhead outside the airlock. “How long?”

“We’ve been out there for about three hours,” the lead of the team reported gruffly, setting her helmet next to her tools. “We were hoping it’d be warmer in here, but no luck.”

He nodded impatiently. “How long do you think it will take for them to fix the connection?”

She laughed. “I’d give them an hour if they’re as good as everyone says they are. Then we switch back out with them and take the new conduit cover in, and weld that in place. That’s another two and a half hours, at least.”

Lee shivered almost spasmodically. “I’ve got to get out of here and get some warmer gear. I suggest you do the same, you all look half-frozen.”

A sharp-looking woman pulled off an EVA glove and flexed her bluing fingers. “Haven’t seen this since I was serving ice cream out the back of a truck as a punk teenager.”

He nodded. “Yeah. Frakking nuts. Let’s get out of here.”

The team leader stuck around in case the other team needed to re-enter the airlock; the other two left their EVA suits in the hall and took off running, attempting to use movement to keep warm. Lee ran alongside them down the hall and towards his quarters. He ran into Kara Thrace and her team as they worked on yet another door.

“You haven’t gotten that thing open yet?” he jibed, ducking into his already-opened quarters and retrieving gloves, boots, and a thick coat.

“If you had been in your quarters,” Kara yelled after him, “we wouldn’t have thought of knocking on every door to see if there was an answer, and we wouldn’t have had to come back to this one, it would already be open.”

“And the three or four officers at the end of the hall would’ve frozen to death, waiting for you to get there,” he pointed out, emerging again from his quarters.

“Fair enough,” she agreed. “Shut up.”

He smiled crookedly at her. “You know, seeing as your quarters are still sealed, and I’m the one between us who has a spare standard issue cold-weather coat in his open quarters, I don’t really think you should be talking to me that way.”

The torch hissed nearer to it’s starting point; the door began to shake. Kara balanced on one foot and began pounding on the door with her crutch. Thump thump thump thump.

Lee retrieved the other coat from his quarters and approached them, his shoes making crunching noise in the layers of frost the torch had thrown off the door. It reminded him of snow. Smack smack smack smack.

The deckhand shut off the torch with a click and stood back; the other hand helped Kara beat on the door. The rigid frozen metal groaned, then came apart with a loud crack. With little more help from them, it fell inward and landed with a resounding

Boom.

Chapter Five

Rush

He vaguely remembered hearing his pulse in his ears and a shortness of breath.

The CIC was sealed and heated on orders of Colonel Tigh. Reports came in by radio or phone. More than half the ship evacuated to civilian ships; the remaining crew rattled around, as the XO put it, “like BBs in a boxcar.”

The second repair team reported in, then rushed to the officer’s gym to warm up and recover. Dr. Cottle was on hand to check them over for hypothermic symptoms or frostbite. The tough, sharp woman and the team leader showed no ill results, but the young man had the beginnings of frostnip on his nose and ears, and poor circulation in his hands.

“He won’t be able to do much good without his hands,” the team leader acknowledged. “Daws, you’re staying here.”

He grinned crookedly at her. “Can’t say I’m disappointed much.”

She mirrored the grin partially, then turned to the other team member. “Think we got it, Kaz?”

The wiry woman nodded. “We got it. What’s our time?”

“22:00; we’ve got forty-five minutes until go.”

The door fell in, pushing air out of the way with a rush. It landed with a bang. A gust of frigid air flowed out and struck the cutting crew, Lee, and Kara full on. They stood for a moment, shivering.

Lee handed Kara the coat and dug around in his coat pocket for a flashlight. “Let’s check it out as quick as possible and get out of here. Hopefully he left a note or something.” They started in and spread out, Lee moving right towards his desk, and Kara moving left towards his bedroom. Lee flipped on his flashlight and pawed around in the mountainous stack of papers, only finding day old reports and census data from the civilian ships.

“Uh, can we go?” the man with the torch requested.

Lee and Kara exchanged glances, then Lee nodded. “Get out of here.”

“Thank you, sir,” he replied, saluting and hauling off with the torch in tow.

Kara pushed open the door of the Commander’s room and hobbled it, wishing she had a flashlight. She quickly found she didn’t need one. “LEE!”

Lee heard the tone of near terror in her voice and dashed the few yards across the proper room, putting a hand on her shoulder and peering around her. “Lords.”

She shrank back against him for a moment, covering her face with one hand. “Lords, no.”

Lee pushed past her and rushed over to his father’s bed, where the Commander lay, half-covered with blankets, perfectly still. Kara chucked her crutch and ran up behind him, instantly kneeling at the side of the bed and frantically checking for a pulse. Lee held the flashlight and tried of be of help.

“No, no no no!” she cried, putting her hands on both sides of the old man’s face and burying her face in the side of the bed.

Lee snatched his father’s spectacles and unfolded them, holding them below his nose. He froze, eyes riveted on the lenses. He waited for a moment. Two moments. Three. “Come on,” he whispered.

Four.

A tiny spot fogged up momentarily.

“He’s alive!” Lee told her, physically moving Starbuck to the side and slipping his arms under his father’s shoulders. “We have to get him out of here and warmed up. Get the coats tied.”

They tied their standard issue coats together and made a bit of a stretcher. She flung the blanket away and scooped up his legs under the knees. Together they hoisted him into the air and set him on the rigged stretcher; Lee took up one side, leaning his father’s head and shoulders against his chest. Starbuck snatched up the other side of the stretcher, leaving both of the Commander’s ankles to rest on her right shoulder. They lifted him again, and rushed off as quickly and gently as possible down the halls.

The door of the old maintenance office swung open, and hit the wall with a smack. They set the Commander on the empty desk and stretched him out full-length. Starbuck rolled him on his side and removed the coat-sling, ripped it apart, and threw a coat to Lee. “Get the doctor.”

Lee stared at her, dumbfounded.

Starbuck cursed internally. “Don’t you dare frakking shut down. Get the doctor.”

He nodded and ran out the door at top speed towards the officer’s gym.

She closed the door after him and turned to the other occupants of the room, a man and a woman who looked a lot alike. “Set up your heaters and aim them on the Commander. I need any blankets or coats or whatever that you have.”

They quickly and willingly complied, pointing the two tiny, battery-operated heaters at Commander Adama’s deathly still form. Starbuck commandeered their coats and threw them over him along with her own. This done, she sat alongside him on the desk, took his hand in her own two, and checked again for a pulse. Unevenly, and almost unnoticeably, it was there. She put the icy hand up to her cheek and attempted to warm it.

A minute or two passed. The door opened more tamely this time, and Dr. Cottle entered, followed by an anxious Lee carrying blankets. The doctor moved to the Commander’s side, putting two fingers on his throat. He paused a moment, frowning, then rested a hand on the left side of the Commander’s chest. He turned to Starbuck.

She stared back in open fear. “No.”

He shook his head. “No promises. But we can do what we can.” He turned to the man and woman standing helpless to the side. “Boy, run to the LifeStation. Get the electric blankets, heating pads, and an ear thermometer. You, girl, run to the officer’s gym and get two battery power sources, on my authority.”

They nearly disappeared in their haste.

“Lee, help me sit him up. Okay, now sit where he was. Careful. Here.” The doctor set the Commander in Lee’s arms. “Keep him warm.”

Lee stared at his father’s bluish face in quiet shock.

The doctor helped lift Adama again, allowing Starbuck to take a place next to Lee, with the Commander’s kneecaps stuffed up against her stomach. “He probably fell asleep in his quarters before the electrical failure.”

Starbuck nodded. “We… we found him in his bed.”

“And those doors were shorted out, hm?”

She nodded again.

“If his temperature dropped as quickly as I think it did, he wouldn’t even have woken up.”

The door opened, and the man entered with the medical supplies. Cottle removed the thermometer from the stack of things in his errand-boy’s arms, and capped a little plastic cover over it. He turned and put it in the Commander’s ear and hit a button.

Lee watched him do this, then turned to Kara with a half-hopeful look of astonishment. “You’re out of the infirmary finally. You left your Crutch of Death in dad’s quarters.”

She nodded. “You called him dad.”

He managed a little smile, which she returned.

Dr. Cottle read the thermometer and paused; the lines in his face seemed to deepen, and he shook his head, removing the thermometer and placing it aside.

Lee and Starbuck stared at him.

“Twenty-six degrees,” he muttered, not making eye contact.

“Normal is thirty-seven,” Lee said to no one, holding his father’s frozen form a little tighter. “C’mon, dad, you’re the meanest son of a bitch I know. Don’t let this be it.”

The other soldier returned with two battery sources and a huge fluffy blanket. The doctor relieved her of both, setting one up and plugging in the heating pads. He tossed two of them to Kara. “Get his feet. Leave them on low. If we don’t warm him up slowly, a whole mess of things could go wrong.”

Kara wrapped the heating pads as best she could around the Commander’s feet. The doctor set another one across his kneecaps, and motioned that Kara should attempt to warm his hands. He threw the huge fluffy blanket over all three people on the desk.

“Make sure those heating pads don’t get too hot and burn him. The last thing we need is to have him warm up, wake up, and find himself covered in burns.”

“The warming up and waking up part would be fine, though,” Kara mumbled, more to Adama than to Cottle. She concentrated on warming his hands.

“Aren’t there more vital things to be warming up than his hands and feet?” Lee asked. “I mean, he’s dy- he’s… he’s got hypothermia, and you’re worried about frostbite?”

“No,” the doctor replied, raising an eyebrow at Lee’s impudence. “I’m worried about pulmonary edema. As it is, his circulation is bad enough to cause blood to pool or stop in his pulmonary arteries. If we warm him up unevenly, his heart won’t be strong enough to handle the rapid change in blood flow, and the blood pooled in his pulmonary arteries will cause those arteries to clog, or worse, burst. Either way, his heart stops and it’s over. If I put a heating pad over anything but extremities, he’ll warm unevenly and die anyway.

“What’s here to warm him other than the heating pads?”

“What do you think I put you there for? I certainly didn’t do it for a frakking photo opportunity.”

Lee shivered and looked down at his father.

The doctor turned to his two errand-runners. “Thank you both for your help. If you would, report to the officer’s gym and stay there,” he jerked his head in the direction of the Adamas. “I think this family needs some time alone. Phone the CIC from the gym and tell Colonel Tigh we’ve found the Commander, and if he has a spare moment to please come down the maintenance room 213. Don’t tell him what’s happened, except to say that he’s alive; if the Colonel pushes it, just tell him you don’t know.”

They nodded, snapped to attention, saluted, and left.

The doctor turned back to his patient and his patient’s family. He moved closer and removed a section of the blanket, setting his hand on Adama’s chest. “Thank the Lords. His breathing is deeper.”

“What—? Does that? Does it mean?” Starbuck stared at him, all hope and worry.

“It means he’s doing better, but still no promises.”

She lowered her eyes to study the dark blue fabric of the blanket, unable to look on anything else.

He pulled over the chair that went with the desk and sat down, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “Let’s talk about what’s going to happen. You’re both fairly mature adults, and I think you can handle it. If he doesn’t die, his health is probably going to suffer for the rest of his life. I know him, I’ve treated him for injuries and illnesses before; the Old Man is as stubborn as a flea on a camel’s back. He won’t recognize that he’s ill or injured until he’s completely incapacitated or until it starts to interrupt his routine. I’ll need you two to look after him. Short term; when he wakes up, he may not be coherent. He probably won’t know where he is, or even who you are. Don’t let this rattle you, though, when he recovers he’ll remember. He may also not make a whole lot of sense. He won’t be able to move around very much, but he’ll more than likely try. A little later, he’s going to start shaking severely. It will seem like he’s having a seizure sometimes, but don’t let that rattle you, either. Essentially, that’s just really severe shivering.”

“How long until he wakes up?” Lee asked quietly.

“Could be anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Hopefully they’ll have the lights back on by then.”

Tyrol’s crew entered the airlock to trade out with the first crew, now two-person. “Do you need some extra help?” Tyrol asked over the radio. “I can take the place of your third person.”

The team leader answered with a nod. “Sure. Thanks.”

Tyrol let his own crew depart, then examined the conduit cover as the airlock sealed and the other team opened the outer door. The air escaped with a hiss. The conduit cover was twenty feet in length and at least seven feet wide and two feet high. It was going to take up a lot of their working space.

Together, they hoisted it off of the airlock platform and into weightless space; the wiry looking woman went in front, and the team leader stayed on the other side with the Chief. They manoeuvred the huge piece of metal to the conduit, and spent the next half hour getting it into position. It fell with, if they hadn’t been in space where no sound travels, should have been a deafening boom.