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Note: there are several key scenes that originally appeared in episode 2/13 “Epiphanies” that I haven’t included in this story because they break up the flow of the narrative I’m presenting, but that I do see as happening.  Most specifically, the scenes in which Baltar cures Roslin, Roslin visits Jahee in his cell, Baltar reads the letter from Roslin, and Baltar sends Jahee with a nuclear warhead for Gina.

Starbuck stepped from the Daru Mozu onto the raptor, sat down at the wireless controls, and put on a headset.  Apollo came and stood behind her. 


“This is Starbuck.  Go ahead Pegasus.”

“Starbuck, this is Actual.  Leave the investigation with Captain Adama for the moment.  I need you back here.”

 

“Admiral, these peace movement people pose a serious threat to the fleet, and Captain Adama and I have some promising leads…”

 

“Starbuck, if Lee Adama is as competent as you have made him out to be, I’m sure that he can handle things for a few hours without you.  Right now, I need my CAG back on my ship.  Am I clear?”

 

“Perfectly, sir.”

 

“A raptor will be there in eight minutes to pick you up.  Pegasus out.”

 

Kara slumped into the chair facing the wireless, her brow furrowed, her jaw set.  Lee came in behind her and put a hand on her shoulder. 

 

“You know what this means, Kara.”

 

She gave him the brittle smile that always pierced his heart.  “It means I need to take care of a few things on Pegasus for awhile.  I’ll be back to join you as I can.”  Then she pulled out of his grasp and stood up.  Lee bowed his head and, after Starbuck had left, he whispered: “Be careful out there.”

 

***

 

Admiral Adama and a squad of marines trooped into the Galactica’s sickbay.  The Cylon who wasn’t Boomer was lying strapped to a gurney, quite composed while two guards watched her.  Baltar was peering into a microscope with his back to the door, and did not look up from his work.  Turning to the prisoner, Adama said: “I take it that you have heard the President’s decision.”

 

Sharon pursed her lips and nodded.

 

“I want you to know, that I don’t agree with it.”

“But you’re still here to carry it out.”

 

He nodded.  “Apart from anything else, with tensions running so high in the fleet, I don’t dare disobey a direct order from the President.”

 

“Keeping my child alive is the only way to save the fleet,” Sharon snapped.

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“Roslin’s death will be the trigger for you and Cain to fight it out.  My daughter’s blood can keep Roslin alive.  You do the math.”

 

Baltar’s voice intruded before Adama could think of a response: “Admiral, you should come and look at this.”  Baltar had not looked up from the microscope.

 

“Doctor,” Adama fumed, “the time for research has passed.”

 

Baltar at last turned and faced him.  “Oh, I agree.  Come and look for yourself.”

 

Adama shook his head.  “I have other matters that require my attention, Doctor.  This procedure needs to go as quickly as possible.”

 

“Admiral,” Sharon insisted, “If you don’t want Roslin to die, look at what Dr. Baltar has to show you.”

 

Baltar held out a folder to Adama, who ignored it and stared deep into the Cylon’s eyes.  She met his gaze.  After about ten seconds, Adama turned to Baltar, took the folder and looked through the contents.  While he did so Baltar explained: “I decided to reexamine the blood test results that Dr. Cottle found so odd, in hopes of finding something that could allay the President’s fears.  Instead, I found something…astonishing.  After consulting with Sharon, I decided apply a sample of Sharon's fetal blood to some cancer cells I took from the President.”

Adama brandished a photograph at Baltar.  “What am I looking at?” he demanded.

“Nothing,” smirked Baltar.  “That's the whole point. The cancer was gone and it was gone within a matter of hours.”

“Are you saying you found a cure for the President's cancer?”  Disbelief stirred the gravel Adama’s voice.

Baltar shrugged.  “Well, it's untried and therefore extremely dangerous, but yes, it's possible. If you abort Sharon's fetus now, you'll never know.”

“Doctor, if you seriously think I am going to agree to this…”

 

“You haven’t any choice, for three reasons.  First, saving Roslin is your only hope of stopping Admiral Cain.  Second, when she dies, I become President.  Third, it’s perfectly obvious that you don’t want to kill Sharon’s baby, and this is a completely valid reason not to.”

 

Adama stared at Baltar for a moment while he considered this.  “All right,” he said.  “Pack up what you need, and let’s leave for Pegasus.”

 

“Of course, but first, have you considered what Admiral Cain might do when she discovers why we’re there?  Her plans all depend upon Roslin dying; what will she do when that changes?”

 

“Good question.  What do you suggest?”

 

“Order us up one of  your raptors while I make a quick phone call.  I know just the person to tip the balance.”

 

***

 

Admiral Cain stood in the Pegasus CIC, watching the fleet on the DRADIS display.  Starbuck arrived, still wearing her flight suit, stepped right in front of Cain, snapped to attention and saluted.  “Captain Thrace, reporting as ordered, sir.”

 

Cain did not return the salute, instead looking “Starbuck, I need you to ready our fighters for a tactical strike.”

 

“Have we located another basestar following us?”

 

Cain looked directly into Starbuck’s eyes.  “No, Captain.  Our target will be the battlestar Galactica.  You will prepare an all-out attack on her, designed to cripple her with minimal casualties.  We need every available warship.  We have to take it down quickly, so that Bill Adama has no choice but to surrender.”

 

Starbuck frowned.

 

“Is there a problem, captain?”

 

“Sir…” Starbuck paused, then took a breath: “Galactica is a colonial ship.  The men and women flying her planes and manning her battle stations are our comrades.  We can’t kill them.  We need them.”

 

“I understand, Captain, and I share your sentiments.  Nevertheless, we have to prepare an overwhelming attack against our sister ship, because the one thing that endangers us more than the enemy is mutiny.  And make no mistake: Bill Adama is a mutineer.  He’s a good man, and a hell of leader, and everyone who serves under him is fiercely loyal.  I respect that.  But he’s a still a mutineer, and I can’t allow him to continue to challenge my authority.  He needs to be removed from command, but that won’t happen until we take his ship—which means fighting our fellow soldiers.”

 

Starbuck did not move or speak, remaining at attention, only looking at the Admiral because she was standing directly in front of her.

 

“I know they used to be your shipmates, Kara.  I know that it’s especially hard for you.  But I need you—they need you—to plan an attack that will be so swift, and so devastating, that the fight is over before they can react.  That will spare most of them.  Then, once I have undisputed command, we can get back to winning this war.  We’ll start by returning to Caprica and rescuing those resistance fighters you found.”

 

Cain paused just a moment, then added: “Now, Captain, you have your orders.  Will you do your duty, or do I need to find a new CAG?”

 

Starbuck turned her head slightly and met Cain’s gaze.  “I’m your CAG, sir,” she snarled.

 

“Good.  Dismissed,” Cain said.

 

Starbuck saluted, turned, and left the CIC.  Cain caught Colonel Fisk’s eye and allowed herself a small smile.

 

“Admiral,” her comms officer broke in, “the Vice-President is on the line, he’s inbound on Galactica raptor Sierra Two-Five.  He says he needs to speak with you urgently.”

 

Cain’s eyebrows rose, and she shared a look with Colonel Fisk.  “Put him through,” she said.  Then, “This Pegasus actual.  Go ahead Sierra Two-Five.”

 

“Admiral,” came Baltar’s voice, “Please meet me in your hangar bay.  I have to see the President right away, and it’s important that you be there, too.”

 

“What’s this about, Doctor?”

 

“I can’t discuss it over the wireless.  Just meet me when I arrive.  And make sure Captain Thrace is with you.  Baltar out.”

 

Cain stood very straight, arms crossed, looking at the DRADIS display with smoldering eyes.  After a moment, she turned away.  “Captain Quisling, you have the conn.  Colonel, you’re with me,” she ordered, striding away from the CIC.  Fisk scrambled to keep pace with her as she strode into her office.  There, she picked up the phone and punched in a number. 

 

“Dr. Ash, this Admiral Cain.  Do you recognize my voice?  Good.  I have a critical mission for you.  You will need to act quickly and carefully.”

 

There was a brief pause, then Cain continued: “If we are going to win this war, Bill Adama can’t be allowed to take control of the fleet.  I can’t act while Laura Roslin is still alive, and time may be growing short.  I need you to make sure that she succumbs to her cancer sometime in the next few hours.  Make sure the doctor from Galactica doesn’t catch on.”

 

Another pause: “I know it’s asking a lot of you, lieutenant, but it’s absolutely the most important mission you will ever have.  I’m putting the safety of the ship, the survival of the human race, on your shoulders, but I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t know I could count on you.”

 

A final pause, then: “Carry on, Lieutenant.”  Turning to Fisk, she said: “Let’s get to the hangar deck.  I didn’t think he had it in him, but Baltar’s up to something.”

 

***

 

“Doctor,” said Admiral Cain, “I don’t think President Roslin would agree to this reckless course of action.”

 

Baltar looked up from where Dr. Cottle and Dr. Ash were ministering to an unconscious Laura Roslin.  The room was actually a bit crowded, with the two doctors, two admirals, two marines, Baltar, Starbuck, Billy and Colonel Fisk all standing around Roslin’s barely stirring form.  Still holding his chin thoughtfully, he replied: “You think she would rather die than be injected with an untested, experimental remedy?”

 

“Rather than be contaminated with Cylon blood, yes.”

 

“The blood is as much human as it is Cylon,” Baltar admonished her.

 

“Any Cylon at all is too much.”

 

“I don’t agree.  And since the president is in a coma, it’s my decision.”  Baltar turned back to watching the monitors next to Roslin’s bed.

 

Cain’s face stiffened for a moment, and then she said, “No.  I can’t allow this.  You don’t see the line between the Cylons and us clearly enough.  Guards …”

 

From his place at the back of the room, Adama spoke up: “Don’t do it, Helena.”

 

“Cylons are the enemy, Bill.  We can’t have a president whose been infected with their taint.”

 

“There are more important things than blood that make a person what they are.  The choices that we make are what really count.  Laura Roslin’s made some good ones under a lot of pressure.  We need her.  Let Baltar save her if he can.”

 

“Choices like abandoning everyone still alive back on the Colonies?  Like leading this entire fleet in pursuit of mythical people on a mythical planet?  Like promoting you?  We need leaders who will fight to save us from the Cylons, not run from their responsibilities.  We don’t need school teachers in over their heads and second-best commanders.”

 

“Maybe I am second best.  But you forget that we’re servants, Helena.  You abandoned transports with civilians aboard, stripped them of the equipment they needed to survive, and left people to die because you focused too much on your immediate military needs.  But the whole point of having a military is protecting our civilization.  We’ve already failed at that mission.  President Roslin helped me to see that.  Now, we just have a large crowd of frightened people who count on us.   Until you accept that fact, you aren’t fit to lead us.”

 

“As it happens,” Baltar declaimed in his best lecture voice, “it doesn’t matter who either of you think should command the fleet.  President Roslin has chosen Admiral Adama, and that’s end of the matter, unless one of you wants to stage one of your little coups.”

 

“Roslin may have chosen Bill, Doctor, but until the Quorum ratifies his promotion, I’m still the senior officer here.”

 

Baltar met Cain’s gaze for a moment, and then glanced to her left, where his private Number Six lounged against the crash cart, wearing her usual red dress.  She smiled at him, and then nodded at the door.  He looked back at Cain.

 

“Well,” he shrugged, “if it’s all down to the Quorum…”

 

The door opened and Tom Zarek stepped in, followed by a camera crew.  “Mr. Vice-President.  The Quorum received your message, and I have come as quickly as I could.”

 

Cain’s mouth tightened as comprehension dawned on her face.  Adama remained poker-faced.  Zarek paused a moment to take in the various expressions of puzzlement, wariness, and dismay and excitement looking back at him.  He smiled at Cain, and then stepped up to Adama.

 

“Admiral Adama, on behalf of the Quorum of Twelve, I’m here to inform you that we have formally ratified your promotion to Fleet Admiral half an hour ago in special session.  Congratulations, sir,” Zarek declaimed, offering his hand.

 

Reluctantly, Adama took it and accepted Zarek’s congratulatory handshake.  Then, squinting slightly in the glare of the camera’s lights, he turned to Cain and said: “Helena, a little while ago, you made me a take it or leave it offer.  Now I have one for you.  Stand down your men.  Accept the fact that I now outrank you, and that I am in command.  Do that, and Pegasus is yours.   Keep fighting me, and I’ll strip you of your command and lock you up.  It’s your call, but you have to make it right now.”

 

Helena had had a moment to think while Zarek had been speaking to Bill, and she was again composed.  She nodded graciously and opened her mouth to reply, but before she could speak Tom Zarek interrupted.  “That’s very generous of you, Admiral Adama, but I suspect that Admiral Cain has everything to lose if Dr. Baltar can miraculously cure the President’s cancer.  You should make sure that no one has spiked her IV.”

 

Every eye in the room turned to Dr. Ash, who turned ghostly white. Adama stepped forward and glared at her.  “What have you done?” he grated.  She gaped helplessly for several moments, before Cain spoke up: “She hasn’t done anything, Bill.  Stop bullying my officer.”

 

Adama spurn and faced Cain.  “So you haven’t given any orders to make sure the President wouldn’t recover?”  Cain stood silently, eyes locked with Adama’s.  “Yes,” she admitted, “I did.”  Adama’s faced tightened with anger.  After several moments, he ordered: “Captain Thrace, arrest Admiral Cain, escort her to the Galactica, and place her in confinement.” 

Looking stricken, Kara walked stiffly to Cain’s side and gestured towards the door.  Cain frowned at her for moment, then looked at Colonel Fisk and the two marines stationed by the door.  None them could meet her gaze.  After a moment, she shook her head, and trudged out.  Starbuck followed.

Adama glanced at the camera crew.  “You can go, now.  We’re done.”  Then he turned to Cain’s still-gaping XO.  “Colonel Fisk, I have never taken a tour of the Pegasus.   Now that you are in command, perhaps you could show me, while we leave Dr. Cottle and the Vice-President to care for our President.” 

Fisk pulled himself to attention with a start, and said: “Certainly, Admiral.” 

 

***

The door to the Galactica’s brig opened, and in came Laura Roslin, dressed once more in one of her power suits and seated in a wheelchair pushed by Kara Thrace.  Helena Cain stood in the center of her cell, arms folded.  Roslin regarded her for a minute, and then broke the silence.

“I thought we should talk.”

“What is there to say?” Cain drawled.

“I’m trying to decide whether or not to execute you for treason and attempted murder.”

“You should,” Cain smirked.

“That’s the consensus in the Quorum, lead by Tom Zarek.  Colonel Tigh made a strong case for it, as well.”

“But you and Bill haven’t made up your minds.”

Roslin nodded.

Cain shook her head scornfully.  “That’s why you are, neither of you, fit to lead. You flinch at the crucial moment.”

“Tom Zarek said almost exactly the same thing to me not half an hour ago.”

“He’s right.”

“He’s a monster,” Roslin corrected.  “An unapologetic, mass-murdering terrorist.  His cause was just, but he wasn’t.  And you are no different.”

“Maybe not, but our backs are to the wall right now, Laura.  Maybe monsters are what we need.”

“I think we have enough of them to deal with in the Cylons,” Roslin replied archly.  Turning to Starbuck, she added, “Do you still think I should spare her?”

Starbuck swallowed hard, but she met Roslin’s eyes and at last nodded.

“Behold, Admiral, your sole advocate.  You think you understand Admiral Adama, you think you understand me, but you are wrong.  I’m perfectly capable of behaving monstrously if I feel the need.  I ordered a transport with over a thousand people aboard destroyed, because the Cylons were tracking it.  I had someone blown out an airlock only moments after promising to spare their life.  I ordered the execution of a war hero’s unborn child solely because I have a bad feeling.  I don’t need you to play the monster for me.”

“Then why do you need me?”

“Because you have vision, Helena.  Bill Adama has guts, determination, and experience, but he’s a “one foot in front of the other” soldier.  That’s something we desperately need as a leader of this fleet, but as you demonstrated, we need someone who thinks bigger, who sees what’s coming over the hill and lays the plans needed for it.  If it weren’t for Baltar…”

“I hadn’t planned on him achieving a medical miracle,” Cain confessed.

“I don’t think any of us really know what Dr. Baltar can do if he feels sufficiently motivated.”

“All of which makes him the least trustworthy man in the fleet,” Cain declared.  “You can’t rely on him.

“Perhaps not,” Roslin agreed.  “We need your talents, Helena.  We don’t need your strategy for the winning the war, because we’ve already lost.  We need you to help us find our way through the defeat.”

Cain stood in silence for almost minute.

“No,” she said at last.  “I can’t accept defeat.  We have lost so much already.  To give up on the war…it’s like losing all we have left.”

“It isn’t, though,” Roslin insisted, “and unless we win through to earth, it won’t be like losing anything.  Despite everything, we still have everything left to lose—help me to preserve it.”

Before Cain could reply, Starbuck broke in, “Sir, please, we’re safer with you than without you.  I don’t know if we can make it if you won’t help us.” 

Cain stared at the younger woman for the space of three breaths, with an unwonted softness in her eyes.  Then she shook her head.  “I’m sorry.”  Turning to Roslin, she added, “I’m sorry, Madame President, but I cannot do that.”

Roslin nodded.  “I shall pray that you change your mind before it’s too late.”  Tilting her head back, she asked, “Captain, if you please.”

Kara wrenched her gaze from Helena and rolled the president from the room.  After they had left, Cain remained standing for several minutes, then lay down on her bunk, closed her eyes, and did the only useful thing she could think to do.  She waited.

 

 THE END

Helena Cain's AU story continues in Safer With Her


[livejournal.com profile] whatever_lj  has written a fabulous companion story to Hubris as part of the 2011 BSG remix challenge, Out Of The Loop.

Thank you!
 
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