For TtH 100 - Xander/Galactica
Disclaimer: I own neither BtVS nor Galactica, nor do I make any profit from this story. Please don't sue if you do.
Rating: FR15 - not yet, but may get there eventually
Spoilers/Timeline: Post "You Can't Go Home Again" for BSG (mid-Season One); Post "Chosen" for BtVS, but I'm blatantly ignoring any Scooby info given in Angel S5 or the book "Queen of Slayers". Mostly because I didn't see the last season of either show. (Please don't throw things, I know! I know!)
Notes: Xander doesn't speak in the first few chapters, but if you can't recognize the one-eyed man in outer space... ;-)
Feedback: Yes, please, especially to correct egregious mistakes or give constructive criticism. This is my first crossover fic, so please be kind. Thanks!
Prompt #14 – Earth
“I don’t like this,” Colonel Tigh growled from his standard position behind Commander Adama’s shoulder. “We don’t know anything about them. They could be Cylons for all we know!”
Doc Cottle, the grumpy ruler of the Battlestar Galactica’s Life Station, removed his cigarette from his mouth and blew the smoke almost directly in the XO’s face. “We won’t know anything about them if we don’t keep up with their medical treatment. Dead men tell no tales.”
A brief smile lit Commander Adama’s weary features. The military leader of the last known remnant of humanity had an arid sense of humor that never failed to prick his shell of detachment. The smile flickered off as he turned slightly to watch the armed Marine guards protecting the quarantine-gowned medics inside a hard plastic partition. His officers would argue incessantly until he announced his agreement with one side or the other, but he was in no hurry to declare a winner. Let them explore all the facets of this unexpected situation for him while he tended to the truly important matters.
Commander Adama’s main concern was and always had been the soldiers under his command. Soldiers like those medics and guards in a hermetically sealed room with two unconscious aliens. He shied away from his instinctive wonder (humans not from the Twelve Colonies? How was this possible? Could they really be from…) and evaluated the strategic potential of the aliens for his ragtag fleet.
“Dead men don’t betray secrets to the enemy, either! I say we put them out an airlock before they bring a Cylon fleet down on top of us. They’re both too dangerous!”
“I doubt that very much, Colonel,” President Laura Roslin’s cool soprano calmly challenged her least favorite military officer. Recent truce or not, the abrasive, in-your-face Tigh had alienated the newly empowered President only hours after she had taken office and their relationship had gone downhill from there. “The male has been unconscious since he was retrieved and the female has responded well to the sedatives. Neither one has the capacity to be a threat at this point. Do they, Dr. Cottle?”
The aged medical professional blew another lungful of smoke in Saul Tigh’s direction. “No, ma’am. He’s still got four broken bones and enough head trauma to blank out a squadron. I’d be surprised if he remembered his name right about now. And she’s sleeping peacefully.” His confidence didn’t visibly waver as he looked over the dark-haired woman triple restrained on the cot, but he kept his eyes from meeting either Tigh’s or Roslin’s gaze.
The grizzled officer snorted. “She should be sleeping peacefully now. You dosed her with enough tranqs to take down a small mountain! Am I the only one here who remembers her taking out three armed pilots and half a squad of Marines before you managed to get her down?” Before either of the others could offer a retort, Colonel Tigh offered his most pressing rationale to sway his oldest friend’s decision. “We know the Cylons come in human form now. We know they’re stronger and faster and have more endurance than humans. Can you, even taking the Marines’ stories with a grain of salt, tell me she’s not one?! He could have the same abilities she has when he comes out of his coma. Then we’d all be able to tell just how dangerous these toasters are. We can’t take that chance!”
Commander William Adama heard the honest concern under his first officer’s bellicose growl. The colonel may have been rude, short-sighted, impatient and unpopular with the rank-and-file, but he was genuinely convinced that the strays they’d picked up were a threat to Galactica’s safety. Tigh would argue his point passionately until he heard Adama’s decision, and perhaps even thereafter in private. The Old Man had to concede that his first officer had a point. A very good point. But not the only point.
Roslin’s soft, clear voice rang with authority as she picked up the debate. “No, Colonel Tigh, from what I’ve been told we have to take the chance.” She met Tigh’s slack-jawed astonishment and lowered her voice. “Billy gave me the latest census numbers just before I came over here. We’ve had 12 more deaths in the last two weeks and only one birth. From all available evidence, the human-model Cylons were introduced to the twelve colonies years ago as orphans or drifters. These two people were found alone on a planet hundreds of FTL jumps from the Colonies just two days ago. If there’s even a remote possibility that they represent a lost colony, we need to keep them alive until they can tell us where it is. Their people may have a refuge or a weapon that lets them live without fear of the Cylons. But even if that were not a consideration,” she barreled through the second-in-command’s attempted interruption without even a glance his way, “we could certainly rule out the male as a Cylon. He only has one eye.”
A brief look of sympathetic pity showed on the middle-aged woman’s face. This young man held hidden meaning for her that only Adama and Cottle could currently appreciate. Colonel Tigh wasn’t among the vanishingly few intimates trusted with her terminal diagnosis. If they were back on Caprica she, too, might have been missing an important body part or two by now as her fight against breast cancer progressed. The frailties of the human form were one weakness the human model Cylons never possessed.
“Yeah, one eye.” Colonel Tigh snapped, “just like the old Cylon centurions! And you remember what we did to them? Are you so baby-mad that you can’t see what a risk these aliens are?! What does it matter if we add them to the population chart if they turn around and bring their metal buddies back here to kill us all? Where’s your precious census then ?!?”
Even the ever-jaded Doc Cottle stepped back as the ex-Secretary of Education’s face reddened to match her hair color. The current President of the Twelve Colonies had a temper equal to her determination and limited patience with Adama’s Executive Officer on the best of days. His brusque one-liners abraded her newfound sympathy for at least one of the alien refugees. Cottle paled as his current cigarette smoldered to ashes. Their current lively debate was about to turn into a free-for-all between two of the three most powerful people left in the human race.
“Alright, wait.” Cottle infused his most soothing tones with the strength of thirty years of Colonial service. He could turn this around if the right argument would just pop onto his tongue. He offered a brief, cynical mental hello to the Lords of Kobol and plunged into the silence. That was as close as he could currently come to prayer.
“Let’s separate this out. We have two aliens here, one of whom is in critical condition and poses no possible threat to the fleet.” Cottle raised his arm placatingly to forestall Tigh’s objections. “Leaving aside whether or not the female is or could be a Cylon, the boy is unconscious with serious head trauma and will be for the next few days. He hasn’t been able to communicate anything to me or the medics, much less broadcast our location to a waiting Cylon Basestar. The medical points in favor of him not being a Cylon are that he’s physically imperfect and would certainly stand out in a crowd of colonists with his missing eye. From what I can tell, the eye was removed by non-surgical means and the trauma is not reparable given our medical technology. Can we at least agree that until he regains consciousness we should continue to treat him for his injuries?”
Roslin waited expectantly. If she gave her agreement first, Tigh was likely to argue just for the sake of… well, whyever Tigh seemed to contradict every word that came out of her mouth. She watched the faint reflection of Adama’s face in the scuffed plastic partition and tried to figure out what he was thinking. The commander of the last remaining Colonial Battlestar had proven himself unexpectedly sentimental recently. He and his son, the Commander of the Galactica’s Air Group of fighter pilots, had used up over half the fleet’s fuel reserves to search for one missing pilot. As much as the pragmatic President in her abhorred such waste, she couldn’t help but feel secretly comforted that the two military men she relied on most showed some softer feeling she could understand.
Adama’s face gave away nothing as Colonel Tigh grunted reluctant agreement. Roslin murmured her own assent and kept her eyes locked on the hastily arranged quarantine cubicle taking up a sheltered – and easily defensible – corner of the Life Station. Her ears were attuned to every nuance of Cottle’s logical propositions as the doctor tried to sway his stubborn security-minded audience.
“Now, as for the female - ” Cottle didn’t get much chance to offer alternatives before Tigh jumped back into the fray.
“Alright, you want to do this the scientific way?” Tigh’s intonation made the adjective into an obscenity. “Number one: human model Cylons are stronger and faster than normal humans. Doc Cottle, from the wounds our Raptor pilots and Marines sustained and the explanations of their damage can we assume that this… female is both stronger and faster than your average Colonial woman?”
Cottle pursed his lips and drew in another lungful of smoke. Tigh, unfortunately, was never as stupid as he seemed. “Well, given the tendency to exaggerate when trained personnel are bested by a civilian - ”
“Yes or no, Doc?” Tigh demanded.
“Yes,” Cottle admitted. “But - ”
“Number two: human model Cylons would have a different reaction to drugs than real people. It’s most likely that drugs used to subdue or interrogate a human would be less effective on a Cylon.”
Roslin interrupted. “Colonel, we only recently learned that human form Cylons existed. We can’t possibly know their reactions to Colonial drugs.”
Tigh glared at Roslin and resumed hounding Cottle. “Doc Cottle, didn’t you do the autopsy on the Cylon we picked up at Ragnar?”
“Leoben Conoy,” Adama murmured, putting a sudden halt to all conversation.
“Sir?” Cottle asked a bit desperately. “Can’t we just keep treating them at least until the Cylon test is available? For now?”
Adama swung around to face the only other people within earshot. Cottle was here because the aliens were under his care for now. Tigh was here because Adama trusted him to put forth the most expedient, most cold-blooded option available and to fight for it unceasingly. President Roslin was here, despite conceding that prisoners captured by military personnel and held on a military ship were beyond civilian authority, because she would argue the humanitarian side if it had any value whatsoever. He looked each one in the eye, knowing their various devil’s advocacies hadn’t moved him at all.
“Doctor Cottle,” Adama rumbled in his serene baritone, “you will continue to treat the aliens until further notice. Retain all current precautions with regard to quarantine and the safety of medical personnel. If the Marine guards are attacked, they are authorized to respond with appropriate force, up to and including lethal force. I want briefings on their condition every hour and I’m to be notified the moment anything changes. Is that understood?”
Cottle gave a casual salute and agreed with relieved alacrity. He lost no time in crossing to the far side of Life Station and beginning his afternoon rounds early. The good doctor wasn’t a coward or a shirker, but he knew that for all his world-weary attitude and medical skill he was currently out of his league. Who would have thought that Colonel Tigh would’ve been the worst opponent to face out of the three? That was at least as surprising as The Old Man’s decision to keep the aliens in Life Station.
Commander William Adama looked both the remaining debaters in the eye and continued. “I know there are parts of my decision that both of you disagree with and I understand your points of view. Whatever or whoever these aliens turn out to be, they represent an intelligence windfall we can’t afford to ignore.”
“What? - ” Tigh’s confusion cut through the air just as Roslin voiced her own surprise. What information could these raggedy, combative aliens from the blasted surface of a barren planet have to offer the Colonial Fleet? What could they possibly know that would make Adama completely disregard their long moments of hard-fought persuasion?
Another secretive smile cut through the Old Man’s stoic expression. “She said the magic word.”
Tigh was rendered speechless, so it was up to Roslin to stammer out their mutual confusion. “W-what magic word?!”
If anything, Adama’s smile got broader. In fact, it verged on becoming a boyish grin. He said the word that saved these aliens with particular relish: