Given that this community has dried up, this may be a waste of time, but I'm working on finishing my stories, so here's the next part, anyway.
President Laura Roslin drifted on the shores of nightmare. The doctor’s clinical pronouncement, “the mass is malignant”, echoed through his vaulted office. Then she was lying on her back with lights flashing overhead.
“Madame President?” came an unfamiliar voice. “Can you hear me?” It was a young woman in a white doctor’s coat over a colonial uniform, with short, dark hair and a very serious look in her strikingly green eyes. Roslin simply stared at this unfamiliar woman. “I’m Doctor Ash. Do you know where you are?” Roslin looked around at the well-lit room with the reinforced metal walls, shook her head, and closed her eyes. Dr. Ash said something else, but Roslin was already dipping her toes in the fountain, awaiting her meeting with Stans. Something important was happening in the background, and trying to see what it was proved so distracting that she could barely play out her part in the conversation. “I was a teacher long before I was secretary of education, and causes are only lost when we give up.” Then more lying flat, but moving, down a hallway. “Let’s make her as comfortable as we can,” came Ash’s voice. Was she strapped to a gurney? Then more of her oncologist’s echoing footsteps, and his strained “the mass is malignant”. And then, a sharp pain in her chest awakened her. “Oh gods,” she said as she came to and realized that she had collapsed and been taken to sickbay on Galactica. Though it was much brighter than she remembered it….
“Where am I?” she wheezed.
And then a woman in a well-kept blue uniform with tied-back dark hair took her hand. Roslin’s heart froze. “You are on board the Pegasus, Madame President,” said Admiral Cain, leaning in close. “You are under my protection. Don’t worry about a thing.”
“How the hell did this happen?” barked Colonel Tigh, glaring at Mr. Gaeta across the central table beneath the DRADIS console.
“Through careful planning,” the young lieutenant replied in an embarrassed voice as he stood next to the CAG. “When the call came from Colonial One for a raptor, the Tactical Control raptor the Pegasus had stationed in the center of the fleet immediately diverted to Colonial One, and got there before our raptor did. Meanwhile, Pegasus cut off our communications with Colonial One, and then successfully imitated our flight controller.”
“And how did they manage that?”
“There’s a remote interrupt shunt unit positioned on our hull near the primary communications array. It was probably placed there by a Pegasus EVA crew when they assisted us with repairs following the battle with the Resurrection Ship. They have been monitoring our flight control signals for the past two weeks, and apparently compiling voice simulations of our personnel.”
“It was a good impression,” Apollo added. “It really does sound just like Dee. We were all fooled. So, the President’s security detail bundled her aboard the raptor, thinking it would bring her here to Galactica, but instead it flew her to Pegasus.”
“Putting the TacCon raptor there was Starbuck’s idea,” the XO seethed. “I knew she was trouble, but I never thought she’d stab us in the back like this.”
“I don’t think she did,” Apollo asserted. “It was probably Cain’s idea, and Starbuck just told me it was hers to make it less of an issue.”
“It’s done, regardless of how it was done,” Admiral Adama broke in. “Now what do we do about it?”
“Short of attempting to mount a rescue, I don’t know that we can do anything except wait,” replied Lee.
“Wait for what?” snapped Tigh.
“For Admiral Cain to call.”
“She won’t,” Adama said. “She has the president. She doesn’t need to call us.” He looked at the officers—Tigh, Gaeta, Kelly, and, of course, Lee—standing around the DRADIS.
“Dee, put me through to Admiral Cain.” Turning to his officers, he added, “If she’ll guarantee me safe passage, I’m going over there.”
“That’s crazy,” said Tigh. “She’ll toss you straight in the brig.”
“I don’t think so. That’s too confrontational now. She’s got Roslin; she knows we won’t act directly. Instead, she’s going play it cool.”
“Sir,” said Dee, “Pegasus actual is on the line.”
Adama picked up his handset. “This is Galactica actual.”
“Good to hear your voice, Bill.”
“Helena. How’s the president?”
“She’s under the best care available, though as you know her prognosis is poor.”
“She should be here, under her doctor’s care.”
“Pegasus has the best equipped sickbay in the fleet. Roslin should be here, Bill, and we both know it.”
“I want to see her.”
“That’s fine. She’s asked for you, and Dr. Cottle.”
“Will you guarantee me safe passage?”
“Certainly, Bill. So long as you take no hostile actions, you may come and go freely from the Pegasus. I won’t try to hold you.”
“We’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”
Laura Roslin dozed fitfully, a tiny spot of awareness in an ocean of pain. She continued to relive her final days before the Attack. Occasionally, she would mutter aloud as she repeated her own words. “When I return, if you still want my job, be prepared to fight.”
“Madame President?” came Billy’s voice. He was important enough to her that she was able to open her eyes and focus. “Madame President, Admiral Cain needs a word.”
“Thank you, Billy.”
Admiral Cain, accompanied by a red-haired aide and Doctor Ash, entered the private recovery room in which Roslin lay. The aide stepped to the window and closed the curtains, fiddling with the drapes as they hung on the rods. None of the other four noticed when the aide placed a small surveillance unit on the ceiling.
“Madame President, Adama, Cottle and Baltar are on their way. Before they get here, we should talk.”
Roslin pulled herself a bit more upright in her bed. “Talk?” she said, fixing her gaze on Cain, her tone suggesting ironic amusement.
“Yes, “ Cain replied, deadly serious. “Privately. About the future of the fleet.”
“We have nothing to discuss, Admiral. I have orders for you and Admiral Adama, which I shall impart to you both when he arrives. Once I have done that, however, I shall be departing with him for the Galactica. Please make the necessary arrangements.”
Cain smiled hollowly. “I’m afraid that’s impossible. Madame President, you are too sick to be moved. Dr. Ash can confirm that.”
The earnest young woman next to the Admiral nodded, opened her mouth to speak, and then simply closed it as Roslin briefly narrowed her eyes. Then Laura allowed herself a soft, breathy chuckle. “I think I’ll let Dr. Cottle be the judge of that,” she said.
“As you wish, Madame President.” Turning to her aides, she said: “Dismissed.” Without a word, the captain and the doctor left the room. Cain turned and looked pointedly at the tall young man standing to Roslin’s left. He met her gaze nervously, but did not move. After a long moment, Roslin said: “Billy, will you give us a minute?”
“Of course,” he said. “Madame President. Admiral.” He nodded to each and shut the door behind him.
“I’ll be blunt, Laura,” Cain began. “In the end, it makes no difference where you are when you die. The fleet will still be thrown into chaos.”
“It doesn’t have to be.”
“Yes, I’m afraid that I does. If I’m going to save the human race, I need to be in command of the whole fleet. Adama will never step down voluntarily, and Baltar is too spineless to impose a settlement. So, blood shed.”
“Are you really prepared to kill people just so you can seize power?”
“Yes, Laura, I am. Because that is the only way I can lead us to victory over the Cylons.”
“Admiral, I’ll tell you what I told Admiral Adama in our first meeting: the war is over. We lost. Now we have to survive. Victory over the Cylons is a mirage, a fantasy.”
“You’re a school teacher who became a politician. I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”
“Politics is the art of the possible, Helena,” Roslin chided, “a lesson that you clearly need to learn.”
“I understand better than you know,” Cain snapped. “Let me outline two ‘possibles,’ one of which will lead to the death of hundreds of military personnel and civilians, and another which will not.” She held up two fingers and then ticked one of them off with her thumb.
“In the first, you proclaim me Fleet Admiral and issue a statement supporting my authority. I then outrank Adama and, following the proper chain of command, I assume control. To show that I’m a reasonable person, I release Lieutenant Agathon and Chief Tyrol and forgo charges of mutiny and insubordination against Adama and other Galactica personnel.”
Cain thumbed her second finger. “The other possibility—you won’t like this one, Laura—is that I am forced to act before your ill-advised promotion of Adama takes full effect, and I attack Galactica. Many people die in the fighting. In the aftermath, I am forced to execute Admiral Adama and a number of Galactica officers as mutineers, and a number of civilians as traitorous sympathizers.”
Roslin glared silently.
Cain pressed on: “If the abstract prospect of so many casualties doesn’t move you, consider the individuals you’ll be leaving to a tragic fate if you don’t cooperate. Lee Adama put a gun to Colonel Tigh’s head on your behalf. Mr. Kikeia there is so devoted he won’t leave your side. Without your blessing, they’ll keep working against me out of respect for you long after you die. That will get them executed for treason.”
“Are you through outlining your proposed reign of terror?”
“Whether it is a reign of terror or not depends entirely upon you. I will only do what I must.”
“Get out of my sight,” Roslin growled.
With a regretful nod, Admiral Cain turned and left the room. Billy immediately rushed back to Roslin’s side, but she had closed her eyes and drifted back into her personal sea of memory. Immediately, she heard again: “the mass is malignant.”
When Admiral Adama and Dr. Cottle stepped out of the raptor, Admiral Cain was waiting to meet them. Adama saluted (as did Cottle after a moment) and said in a formal tone: “Request permission to come aboard.”
Cain returned the salute, and said: “Granted.”
Adama strode up to her and looked her in the eye. She stared back. Neither spoke. After a long moment, Cain said, “Bill, before we go to see the president, you should know that I have just received word that two of our raptors on CAP, one of yours and one of mine, have had an accident, and both have landed safely on Galactica.”
“Who are the pilots?”
“Captain Thrace and Lieutenant Katraine. We’re launching another viper to maintain CAP, and so is Galactica.”
“Good. Thank you for informing me, Helena. How is the president?”
“She’s waiting for us. If you’ll both come with me?”
The sickbay aboard the Pegasus was equipped with the latest diagnostic and life-support beds, was capable of handling fifty more patients than Galactica, and was, like everything else aboard, lit with a bright, clear light that made it seem much cleaner and healthier than Galactica, even though it was equally sterile.
Dr. Cottle examined the intermittently conscious president, and sourly agreed with Dr. Ash that Roslin was too ill to move. While he did so, Vice-President Baltar arrived and ostentatiously looked over the president’s charts.
After waiting discreetly for Cottle to finish, Adama, Baltar and Cain filed into Roslin’s room. Adama quietly asked: “How's the President doing, Doc?”
Cottle grimaced. “She's dying... and she knows it. I offered her a shot of morpha to ease the pain, but...she wouldn't hear of it.”
“She’s a very determined woman,” observed Cain.
“Yes, she is,” Adama agreed. “If she wasn’t, none of us would be here now. Losing her is a heavy blow.”
“She’s done quite well for someone so ill-prepared to have command thrust upon her.”
“I can’t speak for her preparation, but since assuming the office, I believe Laura Roslin has been the best president I’ve ever seen.”
“Bill, you sent marines to arrest her and then imposed martial law. She’s been a joke, and we both know it.”
Before Adama could respond, Roslin rasped: “Don't talk about me as if I'm not here. There'll be plenty of time for that soon enough.”
The others all looked chagrined and turned to look at her. “Billy, could you…” she started, but Billy was already adjusting her bed for her so that she could face everyone.
“Gentlemen,” she said. “I called you here to discuss the Cylon. Dr. Cottle...would you please tell them what you told me earlier?
“I'm no expert in genetics,” he allowed, “but I can read a blood test. That Cylon fetus is showing some very peculiar genetic abnormalities. “
“I haven't seen any of this on your report, Doctor,” said Adama, turning to Baltar.
“No, um. Well, as Dr. Cottle says, he's- he's not an expert, and I am. Um, I've been through the tests and I-I wouldn't say that there was anything conclusive.”
“Didn't say conclusive,” Cottle snapped, “just damned odd.”
Baltar glanced sidelong at Cottle. “Right,” he said dismissively. Without having actually looked at Cottle, focused his gaze squarely on Roslin. “Madame President, as you know, the Sharon Cylon is of considerable tactical value to the fleet—“
Roslin cut him off: “Perhaps you've gotten too close to your subject, Doctor. This is difficult, so I'm going to cut right to it. Allowing this thing to be born could have frightening consequences. For the security of this fleet, I believe the Cylon pregnancy must be terminated before it is too late.”
“Madame President,” Adama interjected, “I'd like—”
“I thought you of all people would understand, Admiral,” she chided.
Cain simply watched Adama, disdain writ clearly on her face.
“Madame President,” Baltar pleaded. “I don't understand. This makes no sense.”
“One of the interesting things about being president is you don't have to explain yourself to anyone. Thank you, gentlemen, I'm-I'm a little tired.”
“Gentlemen,” Billy said, smiling graciously, but gesturing firmly for them all to leave. Cottle shrugged and lit a cigarette, ignoring the shock on Dr. Ash’s face.
“Bill,” said Cain, “why don’t you and the Vice-President join me in my office?” Cain, Adama, and Baltar all walked out together.
In the hallway with the two admirals, Baltar continued to argue his point, addressing himself generally to both but specifically to neither. It made him seem all the more tentative.
“I don't want to seem alarmist, um, but I am perturbed. I think that the, uh, the President's illness is affecting her judgment. Especially when it comes to the subject…”
Adama cut him off: “She seemed reasonably coherent to me.”
“Well, then I'll have to appeal to you on scientific grounds. Destroying this child would seriously impact my studies of the Cylon sub-species.”
“The President made the call and I'm backing her,” Adama said.
“Look, with all due respect, the President made the call based on evidence presented by Dr. Cottle, and he's medicine's…”
Again, Adama interrupted: “Pull yourself together. You're about to become President of the colonies. You're going to be asked to make some very hard decisions. Act like you can handle it.”
Admiral Cain smiled scornfully at this.
While Baltar stared in shock at Adama, one of Cain’s aides came up and whispered to her for a moment. “Excuse us, Mr. Vice-President. Bill, we’ve just heard from Galactica: they found evidence of sabotage. My people have set up a teleconference in my briefing room.”
Without a word, Adama followed Cain swiftly down the hallway.
Admirals Cain and Adama entered her conference room. Colonel Fisk stood when the admirals entered and said: “We’ve just set up the link. The CAGs are ready to report.”
“Excellent. Bill, please sit there.”
“Thank you, Helena. Lee, carry on.”
“As I was saying, sir,” Apollo said, “someone sabotaged Kat’s ammunition, and that means we have a serious problem.”
“Are you sure it was sabotage?” Colonel Tigh demanded.
“Shells don't unload themselves,” Starbuck replied scornfully.
“Anyway,” Lee interjected, “Captain Thrace and I have grounded all fighters on both Galactica and Pegasus until further notice.”
Cain’s eyebrows shot up. “Starbuck, is this true?”
“Gotta do it, Admiral,” she replied wryly. “Fact is, we've been sharing stories between the ships. And Apollo and I agree that nobody flies combat until our ammo supplies check out.”
“Leaving us defenseless if the Cylons decide to pick a fight,” groused Tigh.
“We were defenseless before this, we just didn't know about it,” said Adama. “Lee, find out who did this.”
Admiral Cain turned on him. “I want Starbuck to take point on this investigation,” she declared.
Adama was silent for a moment, then nodded. “Fine. Apollo, please coordinate your efforts with Captain Thrace.
The two CAGs shared a look, and then said, in unison, “Yes, Admiral.”
“Pegasus out,” Cain said, and pushed a button on the table. Without moving, she said, “Jack, will you excuse us?”
Fisk was out of his seat and out the door so quickly that his muttered “of course, Admiral” was barely spoken, much less heard. Once they were alone, Cain turned and looked Adama full in the face.
“Bill, I’m going to tell you what I told Roslin earlier: I believe our only hope for survival is victory over the Cylons, and I don’t think you have what it takes to lead us to that victory.
“What did she say to that?”
“She didn’t want to hear any of it, but that doesn’t really matter. I am going to take command of this fleet, Bill. That’s inevitable. All you can control is who dies when I do so.”
“Pegasus is a fine ship, but don’t be so confident that you can beat Galactica.”
“Bill, stop thinking like a squad leader and start looking at the big picture. I have more Vipers, more guns, better guns, better DRADIS, better armor, and we’ve seen today that I’m a better strategist than you. You need to stop thinking that you might win and start thinking about what will happen when you lose.”
“All right, Helena. I’m thinking about it. What will I lose?”
“In addition to your command, and your life? How about your son? Your best friend? Agathon and Tyrol? Starbuck? What do you think will happen to them once you fail?”
Adama remained stonily silent.
After a moment, Cain’s voice softened. “Bill, you can save them all. If you resign, I give you my word that I will drop all charges against Agathon and Tyrol, and that I won’t bring any charges of mutiny against anyone from Galactica because of the ‘rescue mission’ you attempted a month ago.”
“Do you really expect me to believe that you’d let them all stay in service?”
“No, of course not. Agathon and Tyrol will be dishonorably discharged. Tigh can stay on as XO if he can get his drinking under control. Captain Thrace continues to impress me, and, based on her say so, I’m willing to give your son a chance to do so, as well. Certainly, they seem to work very well together.”
“I’m not stupid, Helena. You will never trust them not to betray you.”
“Not so, Bill. I’m sure that most, if not all, of Galactica’s personnel will become loyal to me, in time. Kara’s already made a start.”
“She’s like a daughter to me. You may make her CAG, but you can’t trust her. If you’ll gun down your own hand-picked XO, you’ll never trust anyone that close to me.”
“Not so long as you’re around to divide their loyalties.”
“What are you suggesting?”
“I’m not suggesting anything, Bill. If you want me to spare the lives of Captain Thrace, your best friend, and your son, you will resign your commission, publicly admit that you were wrong to mutiny against me, urge your subordinates to obey my orders, and then you will go back to your quarters and shoot yourself.”
“That’s not a very tempting offer.”
“Best one you’re going to get, Bill. Either you throw yourself on your sword to spare your men, or they all die along with you.”
“I’m going to need some time to consider your proposal.”
“Bill, once Roslin dies, I will have to strike quickly and this offer will be off the table. Don’t take too long.”