Welcome To The Fleet
To Dawn’s immense relief, they didn’t have to hike all the way back down to the Galleon Meadow to get off of Kobol. Commander Adama called for shuttles to come pick them up- all
of them. When she realized that they wouldn’t be going back to the ship they’d departed from, Dawn was worried until she discovered their Raider had also answered the call. Apparently it was a military asset, and a useful one, seeing as it could carry more people or cargo than a Raptor.
While the chief- who Helo had eventually introduced to her as Chief Tyrol- handled the logistics of assigning places on the various shuttles, Dawn retrieved her bags, hastily smushing her dirty laundry into her pack. Wherever she was sent, she wasn’t about to leave her stuff unguarded.
She noticed Commander Adama looked a little surprised to see she came with luggage beyond what she’d been carrying on the hike, but he didn’t say anything about it. Dawn was happy to find that she was directed back to the Raider along with the Commander, Laura, Billy, Lee, Kara, Helo, Sharon, and the Chief himself.
As they took their seats, Helo patted her knee.
“Don’t worry, Dawn, everything’s going to be fine,” he whispered.
Dawn wasn’t sure if he was saying it for her benefit, or for Sharon’s. Then again, maybe it was for his own. It sounded a lot more like a statement of hope than a statement of fact. She was pretty sure that he had to be just as nervous about what kind of welcome they would get on the battlestar as she was.
For once, she found Kara’s ‘within my sight’ decree reassuring instead of annoying- their reception on Laura Roslin’s ship had been disconcerting enough. She was not up for a better armed repeat on a much bigger-not to mention military- ship. She leaned against her sister as the shuttle lifted off and prayed that whatever else happened once they got there, she’d finally be able to get some sleep. Kara slung a comforting arm around her shoulders.
“It’s going to be ok now, Dawn,” she whispered. “You’ll be safe once we’re back on Galactica.”
Dawn was pretty sure that wasn’t strictly accurate, but she didn’t argue. She just focused on trying to stay awake. The view of the famous battlestar- or at least what she could see from her seat- wasn’t particularly impressive. Not that she expected it would be, really. Galactica had been holding her decommissioning ceremony the day the Cylons attacked. That the dated ship had survived when so many others hadn’t was nothing short of amazing.
And from what Billy told her, the Cylons had been stalking them ever since. Amazing wasn’t the word. Miraculous was more like it. Then again, miraculous was a word Dawn had learned to be very suspicious of …
“No one’s going to shoot at us this time, right?” she whispered to Kara.
Unfortunately, she hadn’t been quiet enough. Both Roslin and Commander Adama looked her way as Kara snorted softly.
“Always the optimist.”
Once the Raider was securely on Galactica’s hangar deck, Dawn hung back slightly as Kara and Helo followed the Commander and President Roslin out. She wasn’t sure if she should be bringing her stuff or not- would she stay on Galactica or go with the President to Colonial One? She really wanted to stay with her sister, now that they had reached the reunited fleet, but she supposed it would make more sense for her to be quartered wherever the President was. After all, she was Roslin’s aide.
“Dawn, come on,” Kara called, waiting for her in the hatch. “Bring your stuff.”Guess that answers that. And I somehow doubt Madame President will be hauling me elsewhere if Kara wants me here. She owes her one for that stupid arrow.
Dawn was uncomfortably aware as she joined her sister that their group was the center of attention on the hangar deck- particularly Kara, Helo, Sharon, and herself. She fought the urge to hide behind Kara- she wasn’t about to have her sister’s shipmates think she was a coward. But she was ill at ease with so many eyes on her, especially since she was well aware that she was pretty dirty and disheveled once again. She could hear the whispers starting.
Kara had jumped down to the deck, where there were plenty of people waiting to welcome her back. Fellow pilots, mostly, judging by the uniforms. To Dawn’s surprise, Lee was the one who offered her a hand down, gesturing for her to let him get her bags. She stood shyly beside him, Kara on her other side, as Commander Adama addressed the deck, announcing that the President had found the Tomb of Athena, a marker on the path to Earth.
She forced herself not to flinch or look for cover. She was safe here, as safe as she could be anywhere with Cylons still out there. She tried to focus on what Adama was saying. People were listening to the Commander’s words, but they were staring at her. Lee put a steadying hand on her shoulder.
“Just let them see you now, scuttlebutt will take care of the rest,” he whispered.
Dawn nodded ever so slightly to show that she’d heard.
Then the Commander mentioned her.
“As you can see, Starbuck found more than just the Arrow of Apollo on Caprica- both Lieutenant Agathon and her younger sister, Dawn Thrace, survived the Fall of the Colonies. They evaded Cylon capture ever since the Attack and were hiding in the ruins of Delphi!”
Kara reflexively clamped a protective arm around her, which was good. Suddenly being the total center of attention was not a happy place. But there was a ragged cheer at the commander’s words, and Dawn was relieved to see that at least some of the curious were looking slightly impressed. Impressed was better than skeptical or ‘that chick is crazy’.
Commander Adama wound down his remarks by saying he hoped the crew would help the newfound survivors adjust to life in the Fleet, and save the questions about Caprica for later after they’d had a chance to rest. Dawn noticed the Commander hadn’t said anything about Sharon.
As if on cue, a squad of Marines appeared to escort Sharon away, and several more took up positions around Dawn and her sister. She was nervous until she realized that they were there to keep Galactica’s curious crew from mobbing them. She followed the President numbly to what looked to be a conference room. Lee set down her bags and excused himself with a sympathetic smile. She suddenly realized that now they were back to ‘normal’, he would have duties to attend to- as would Kara.Now what?
Roslin dismissed the Marines with a gesture. When she saw Kara hadn’t budged, she frowned.
“Lieutenant Thrace, I strongly suspect you have somewhere else to be right now,” she said.
Kara hesitated, but at a stern look from Roslin, slunk out with a backwards glance that just missed nervous. Roslin turned to Dawn.
“All right, Dawn, we need to get you cleaned up. There’s going to be a press conference, and as one of my aides, you need to be there.”
“I don’t have to talk to the press, do I?” Dawn asked warily, hoping not. The last thing she should do in her current frame of mind was take on the media. She’d never done press conferences as anything more than a flunky, and she knew better than to think it was as easy as good PR people made it look. There was a reason media wranglers got paid megacubits.
Roslin shook her head.
“No, you just need to be visible. I don’t intend to let reporters interrogate you any time soon. The Commander and I will want to hear a report from you about the situation on Caprica.” Eying Dawn closely, she added, “But that can wait until you’ve had a few decent meals and a good night’s sleep. I’ll have quarters arranged for you while you shower. I’ll also have to think about what your official duties will be. Having more than one aide is something new.”
Dawn nodded gratefully at the mentions of shower and sleep. She was fairly sure she was back to ‘looks like hell’. There was a knock at the hatch, which opened to reveal a petite crewwoman who couldn’t be much older than Dawn herself.
“Petty Officer Dualla reporting as requested, Madame President.”
“Officer Dualla. I doubt Miss Thrace has much in the way of clothing, and I was wondering if you would be able to locate any presentable civilian clothes for her?”
Dualla sized Dawn up with a look, and then offered somewhat reluctantly, “I could loan her a dress, Madame President.”
Dawn suspected from Dualla’s hesitation that she was probably offering up the only nice dress she had. She was sure most of Galactica
’s personnel wouldn’t have much in the way of civilian clothes. From what Kara had told her Before, after the decommissioning, all crew had expected to be rotating to new assignments. Many of them probably would have already forwarded most of their personal effects. All they’d have was whatever would fit in a regulation duffel.
“Just for the press conference,” Roslin said encouragingly. “After that, we’ll take stock of what she has that’s salvageable and see what we can find for her in the fleet.”
“Actually, Madame President, Officer Dualla, I have clothes with me that would be appropriate. If it’s possible to get them pressed, anyway. They’ve been in my bag for a while.”
“I can have them cleaned and pressed while Miss Thrace showers,” a visibly relieved Dualla said to the President, who had turned a pleased smile on Dawn before answering the petty officer.
“Excellent. Dawn, I’ll leave you in Officer Dualla’s capable hands. She’ll show you where to get cleaned up and then escort you back here to accompany me to the press conference.”
“If you’ll follow me, ma’am,” Dualla told Dawn.
At Roslin’s nod of permission, Dawn retrieved the outfit she wanted from her duffel and started to follow the petty officer out the hatch.
She stopped at Laura’s call.
“I think it’s safe to leave your other bag here,” Roslin said gently. “I’ll look after it until you get back.”
Looking down, Dawn realized she’d completely forgotten her messenger bag. It had been like a second skin for so long now that the idea of taking it off had never entered her head. She slipped it over her shoulder and tried not to let it show how jumpy letting it out of her sight was making her.
Laura took it from her hands and set it on the table.
“It will be right here, Dawn. I won’t let it out of my sight.”
Dawn nodded and turned to follow her guide. One of the Marines guarding the door trailed them down the hall. Dawn wondered how long she’d continue to rate a security detail.
“This way, Miss Thrace,” Dualla said.
“You can call me Dawn, Petty Officer,” Dawn replied, unused to so much formality. She tried to keep track of the various corridors and turns she was led down. She could tell she was going to be hopelessly lost as soon as she didn’t have someone to show her the way. She comforted herself with the thought that if Kara could manage to navigate the ship, she could too.I wish Kara didn’t have to run off to do whatever she does here. It would have been less weird if she was the one showing me where the showers are.
Dualla led her to a shower room, telling the Marine trailing them to clear it for her. She waited until a few hapless crewmembers had been chased out, one wearing nothing more than a towel, before she led Dawn in. She opened a storage closet and grabbed two towels and a washcloth.
“Here,” she told Dawn. “While you clean up, I’ll run your clothes to the laundry. Usually it takes a day or two for them to get things back, but for this they can make an exception.”
“Thanks, Officer Dualla,” Dawn said sincerely.
“I’ll be right back. Corporal Venner will be outside, so you don’t have to worry about anyone else walking in on you while you shower.”
Dawn watched the petty officer disappear with her clothes before she turned toward the shower. Gods, they might even be hot showers. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had one. In the fallout shelter, maybe? She knew better than to think she could take a long shower- water would be rationed on the Galactica
, even if they weren’t an unknown distance from resupply- but even a quick hot shower would be the closest she’d come to civilized living since…well, in months.
She peeled her clothes off, reluctantly piling them to one side. Even though she knew the laundry would be able to clean them, it was tempting to trash the filthy things. But she knew without being told that there were people in the fleet who would kill to have as many changes of clothes as she currently did. She wasn’t going to be wasteful. Swiftly unbraiding her hair, she turned the shower on.
Stepping under the hot water was, for one split second, like stepping into heaven. It didn’t change anything, really- Dawn still felt exhausted, on edge, and nervous about being in the fleet- but it did make it all a little more bearable. Dawn washed herself as best she could, using the standard issue soap and combination shampoo/conditioner from the dispensers. She smiled as she imagined what Buffy would have to say about the lack of hair care products.
She was just wrapping herself in a surprisingly soft towel when Dualla returned, hairbrush in hand.
“I got this from Starbuck, since I didn’t see you bring one down. We have to do something with your hair before you go near the press,” she said, eying Dawn’s head critically now that her hair was down. “It looks like someone hacked it off with a knife!”
“That’s because I did,” Dawn said quietly, contemplating her own reflection. Dualla paused just long enough for the words to sink in.
“Well, we’ll just have to see what we can do. Can’t have you looking bad for the cameras, can we?” Dualla asked brightly, recovering as best she could. She gestured for Dawn to seat herself on one of the footstools by the sinks, and began to attack her hair with the brush.
Dawn gave her a slightly shaky smile. She was relieved Dualla hadn’t asked. She suddenly realized everyone was going to want to know, and she was way too tired to tell the story.
“You can call me Dee, by the way,” Dualla added. “Most people do.”Billy’s Dee?
“Nice to meet you, Dee. What do you do on Galactica
When he entered the room, Bill Adama found Laura Roslin alone with Dawn Thrace’s bags. He almost didn’t recognize the second bag, the one she hadn’t ever taken off that he had seen.
“How did you get her to leave that behind?” he asked, somewhat amused. He’d decided it must be her lucky charm.
“She couldn’t very well take a shower with it on,” Laura replied with some asperity. “And believe me, she needed one.”
Then her tone softened. “Can you guess what’s in it? And yes, I peeked.”
At his shrug, she answered.
“Photos. The entire thing is filled with photos.”
Adama looked at the bag with new respect. No wonder it was her most precious possession. Unlike most in the Fleet, Dawn had known when she left her home in Delphi that she was seeing it for the last time. She’d gotten to bring the things she would want most with her. The gods had been kind enough to grant her that.
From what Kara, Helo, and his son had just told him before he’d sent them back to their duties, it didn’t sound like they’d granted her much else. None of them had been able to say much about where she’d been when the Cylons attacked or how she’d survived, but Helo had said she’d been hiding out alone in Delphi when she’d run into them at Kara’s apartment. Poor kid had actually thought she was hallucinating when she’d walked in and found the two of them there.
Kara had also explained the jackets- the idea of the C-Bucs as partisans had given him a badly needed laugh. He hoped they were better guerrillas than they had been pyramid players. When pressed- privately, when Lee was out of the room- Kara had also told him the story of the boy her sister had fallen for in the resistance camp they’d stayed at.
“Has anyone told her about the Memorial Hallway?” Adama asked, sure without needing to ask that beyond Kara, anyone in Dawn’s photos wouldn’t have made it.
Roslin shook her head.
“Not yet. I’d like to suggest Petty Officer Dualla show her around the ship later. I think they’re the same age.”And the girl could use a friend who isn’t a Cylon.
The unspoken words hung in the air.
“Are you planning on keeping her with you on Colonial One
“I thought about it, but I think as often as I go back and forth, I could leave an aide here and save space on the shuttles. If you can find somewhere for her to stay, that is.”
“I think we can do that,” Adama agreed, privately relieved.
He doubted Starbuck would have been too happy about having her beloved kid sister on any other ship. It could easily have led to an ugly outburst. She was already worked up enough as it was, having been rushed straight back to duty. He’d regretted the necessity, but regardless of what punishment detail he’d eventually work out for her going AWOL, he needed every experienced pilot he had available.
“Good. It will also be good PR- a family miraculously re-united against all hope is not something I want to break up. I just have to find a pretext now.”
“A pretext?” Adama said, bemused. “You’re the President, you can deploy your aides as you see fit.”
“A pretext Dawn will accept,” Roslin explained. “She and I did not exactly get off on the right foot. I don’t want her to interpret this as her being frozen out- or worse, coddled. There’s already a simmering issue on that score between her and her sister.”
“That’s almost enough to make me separate them just to keep the peace,” Adama muttered. “But you can probably take your time coming up with an excuse. We’ll need to debrief her on her experiences on Caprica, but not until she’s rested. I doubt anyone would find it strange for you to leave her here with her sister for a day or two rather than ferry her back and forth- I assume you were planning on being present when we talk to her?”
“I’m quite curious to hear what happened. I suspect there are things we didn’t hear about from Lieutenant Agathon or Lieutenant Starbuck.”
“Something more than just the dead boyfriend?” Adama asked.
“Dead boyfriend?” Roslin said, surprised. “I didn’t think she had a serious boyfriend. Not that I was up on the interns’ gossip…”
“I’ll let her tell the story when we talk to her. Assuming she’ll mention it. Lee thinks it’s part of the reason she’s so fragile right now.”
“Fragile? Dawn Thrace? Are we talking about the same girl?” Roslin asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Lee says she had at least one flashback while she was down on Kobol. He was a little nervous about her having a weapon. But he decided it wasn’t worth the fight with her or Starbuck to try to take it away.”
“I doubt he could have,” Roslin said. Her tone was amused, but also held a note of warning. “Flashbacks or not, that is one resourceful and determined young woman, and she’s gotten very used to taking care of herself. Captain Apollo would do well to remember it- as would Lieutenant Starbuck.”
Adama sighed heavily.
“I’d be just as happy to have her on Galactica
where we can leave it to the Marines to take care of her. The kid’s never done Basic, I don’t like her carrying a weapon.”
“I think we can consider it settled that she’ll be here indefinitely,” Roslin said. “That will also have the happy side effect of keeping the reporters away from her. She’ll be visible at the press conference, but she won’t be taking questions. I don’t want anyone grilling her about conditions back on the Colonies or fishing for stories of whatever horrors she may have witnessed.”