Fic: Tomorrow, I'll Know 1/1 BattleStar Galactica 2003
Title: Tomorrow, I'll Know. Author: Lopaka Tanu Disclaimer: I do not own BattleStar Galactica 2003. Characters: Lee, Gaeta, Tyrol, Helo Words: 9229 Prompt: VP Lee visits base for inspection, shit happens. Fandom: BattleStar Galactica 2003 Pairing: Gaeta/Lee Rating: Teen Warnings: Violence, Language, Character Death. Summary: Newly promoted, Lee goes to insure that his job is secure. Shit happens. Author's Note: AU where Cylons are just machines, not genocidal humanoids. ______________________________________
"Now boarding, stellar flight ceti, tau, three, three, three; all passengers with special disabilities."
Checking over his leather briefcase, Lee found the locks, hinges, and security seals in place. There would be no one breaking in to his shit this time. Then again, they had said Helion Industries would never promote an Adama either. For the kind of money he put down for the case, the odds had better not strike twice.
He was distracted from his inspection by a beeping near his hip.
Pushing back the hem of his jacket, he unclipped the pocket wireless from his belt. Flat and handle shaped, it was more compact than the originals. The screen flashed bright red to signal a non preprogrammed contact. That meant someone he hadn't wanted to speak to.
Hitting the activation button, Lee held it jewel up. There came a slight sting behind his left eye, making him wince. That shouldn't have happened. A holographic image appeared over the wireless, distracting him.
Looking up, the bust of a man smiled at Lee. "Hey, Mr. Bigshot!"
"Karl," he said the name with more exasperation than anything else. Lee should have known. "How did you get this call sign?"
"I know a person, who knows a person, who once slept with your brother." Which was his way of not mentioning the person neither of them wanted to talk about. Karl rolled his eyes, looking away in annoyance. "Look, I just signaled to congratulate you. Since no one else is going to say it, I will."
Which only confirmed every one of Lee's suspicions. Clenching his jaw, he nodded once. If they wanted to shun him, then they could all rot in Tarterus.
"Well, you're welcome." Snorting, Karl's image wavered a second.
"Thanks." Glancing up, Lee realized there was a slight hesitation in every electronic device, even the lights. He sighed, looking back to Karl. "Listen, I'm doing an inspection today. Part of the promotion is overseeing the facility on New Troy."
"You do realize that VPs don't actually do the inspections themselves, right?" Karl's voice had a tinny quality, sounding as if far away.
"Ever hear of something called Hubris? It's a little something my grandfather never learned." The lights above him started winking out one by one. Pressure built up inside his head, centering around his eye. Gritting his teeth, Lee clenched his hand around the wireless. "Thanks for the call, I have to go."
"Lee?" The image of Karl looked concerned, but before he could speak, it winked out.
Lee quickly shut down the device. Putting his fingers in his ear, Lee clenched his eyes shut.
A half second later, three high pitched shrieks split the air. People through out the terminal clutched at their heads, crying out in pain. A few even fell to their knees as it overwhelmed them. As the lights went out, people screamed for a different reason.
The building shook twice, causing some of the wall hangings to hit the floor. A large vending machine in the corner fell forwards, slamming in to the cement and shattering. Another shake caused the ceiling to vibrate, cascading dust and percussion tiles down upon the people.
Slowly, the rumbling stopped. The shrieks quieted down until nothing. Eventually, the lights came back on and emergency sirens split the air.
Pulling his fingers from his ears, Lee blinked at the world around him. Around the lounge, he heard screens come to life. His own wireless connection flickered in to existence. The symbol of the emergency alert appeared, signaling it would soon have a message.
It didn't matter, Lee and everyone else knew what had happened. They just panicked because of the severity this time. Well, he hoped they had braced themselves, because it was going to get worse over the next couple of weeks.
Stepping off the transport, Lee was never so glad to be groundside in all his life. There were some things one never wanted to do, space flight during a solar storm was one of them. It was hard to believe that they had at least four more months of the shit coming their way.
Then again, that's why he was here on New Troy.
Glancing about, Lee put a hand over his eyes to shield out the intense glare of purple and peach sunlight. The flare would pass in a few minutes, but he didn't want to be out in it any longer than he had to be. Behind him, the engines on the transport groaned as they powered off. A trolley would be along soon to haul it in the hangar.
Life on New Troy was just beginning. It had been ten years since the old star port was destroyed. A year of orbital pushes and two hundred billion cubits later, then suddenly the past was wiped away. So much for social justice.
Whatever had cost Helion Robo-Dynamics their previous premier satellite, it was Lee's job to ensure that the second didn't suffer a similar fate. He was admiring the massive gravity plates when a throat behind him cleared. Spinning slowly, Lee dropped his hand and held it out.
Taking the hand before the owner was even facing him, the large man grinned behind a metallic face shield. "So you're the big shot Terran sent up to ensure us space rats don't screw up."
"Actually, I came up on my own. But the job's the same." Chuckling more to himself than out of social bonding, Lee blinked watery eyes. "I thought this place had an atmosphere."
"We did, until the frakking storms started." The voice came out modulated through vocal filters, designed to carry over long distances without harming those close by. "Our main gravitation generator is on max plus, just keeping the air here is taking all we've got." He pointed to his mask. "We've had a few failures."
Lee shook the man's hand twice, then pulled back. "Sounds like fun." So, this was going to be another of those assignments. He hadn't been plugging since he was a teen, but nothing like life and death to bring back old habits. "Shall we adjourn to a more comfortable place?"
"I'm just fine." This was belied by the fact the man's muscles were tense. They flexed with each shift in color and light flash. "But, with the radiation bursts, you might be uncomfortable in that suit."
"I am." It was the truth, at least. Lee had been wearing them for almost a month now, but still wasn't used to the material. Without his flight suit, he felt naked and unprepared. But, the promotion required a change in uniform, mainly giving up his skiff and everything that went with it.
"Good, let's go." Rubbing his hands together, the man turned towards a building behind them. As he walked, he gestured over his shoulder for Lee to follow.
Seeing the building's heavy shielding didn't inspire much confidence in Lee. Still, he went where bid.
For a modified asteroid, New Troy was surprisingly planet like. Sure, the atmosphere was artificially held in place. The gravity was nothing to sneeze at, but it felt just slightly below Aerilon normal. Unlike the old planetoid, New Troy boasted a nickel/iridium core. There was no chance of this one coming apart under gravitation stress.
Not that the original Orbital had succumbed to gravitation sheer. It was just a theory. Completely unprovable, but who was going to give it a chance? Certainly not the ruling board of Helion Industries.
Glancing about him, Lee admired the massive duratran alloys used in the support columns. The over head beams were hidden behind tiles, but he knew they were there. In the past eight months of construction, no expense had been spared for the main terminal. Hell, in the distance, he could even see massive gardens.
The light coming through the windows was brilliant yellow, which meant it was either being filtered, or was artificial. More than likely, it was filtered. They saved money on energy concerns that way. Excess waste was frowned upon, even in a purely luxury satellite.
Well, Lee reasoned, there was an advantage to have their own planet. The only laws they had to obey were those set forth by interplanetary treatise. With that only on matters concerning the exchange of goods and money, that left one hell of a gray area.
He supposed that was why Helion Robo-Dynamics was centered here. No chance of running in to those animal kissing psychos who threatened to blow up advanced technology. Like their ancestors hadn't used a computer to fly from Kobal.
It always amazed Lee that someone could be so blind.
Then again, his own grandfather had nearly destroyed any future his family might of had. Thankfully, the name Adama hadn't been tied with every major anti-technology law, just ninety-five percent of them. Clenching his hand around the handle of his briefcase, Lee forced his thoughts back on track.
So far, so good, the terminal checked out. The massive destination screens were in working order. Baggage claim was set up, complete with gravity wagons for large loads. Large comfort stations were set up to ease the hassle of space travel.
Everything was in pristine condition. He would expect nothing less from a orbital station that hadn't been declared operational yet. There was a reason he had come in person, aside from what his friends had called 'an anal need to fix everything himself'.
His first sight of the heart of his visit was a single metallic creature. It was small, no bigger than a mouse. Still, in a society where most technology was relegated to hulking transports and industrial sized air conditioners, something like this stood out.
Moving about, it dodged from place to place. It paused only long enough to check the pathway for its next target.
Lee watched, entranced by the movement. He had only seen such things in laboratories. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his guide approaching, but spared him no mind.
Another of the small machines appeared around a row of chairs. Then another about twenty feet away. Still more glittered in the low lighting.
It was then Lee realized he was surrounded. He should have known. The Mouzer were a communal creation. No single one had enough processing power to work independent. They had to stay close enough that their wireless network could stay connected. If one went off the grid, its power cell shut down.
Watching, he saw them pick at fibers in the carpet, repairing and stitching as they went along. Most of their bulk was for thread storage. Lee allowed himself to watch them for another minute, feeling giddy at their start and stop movements.
"If you think that's impressive, you should see the Tech Tochs." Stopping just on the edge of Lee's field of vision, the man had his mask pushed up. Around his face was dark skin, but that protected by his mask was almost pale white. "They live in the core, ensuring the cables between power stations and generators are well kept. A thousand times more advanced, they'll suss out a potential problem and fix it long before we'd even notice."
"I know." Grinning, Lee nodded. He looked at the man, then paused at his appearance. "I helped design the original model."
"You don't say." Noticing Lee's hesitation, the man snorted. "Give it a few days here, you'll look like a Empyra too."
This gave Lee his first genuine happy smile since the start of his assignment. "How long until I can begin my first inspection?"
"Two hours. The crew on Bophor is unloading new supplies and my monkeys are tied up until then." Scratching at the back of his head, the man removed a small patch with adhesive from the back of his neck. His hair had almost been completely removed, but a raising of stubble colored his scalp. "You should have come here a month ago, we were still getting the round the clock drops."
"Being near complete has its advantages." They were standing there bullshitting. It was an unfamiliar feeling to Lee. Having spent the better part of the last ten years rocketing from colony to colony, socializing had been cut to a minimum. He decided he liked it. "You like it here? I remember Troy from before, the place was like a dream."
"I was there once myself. You're right, all that technology, it felt like being in an alien world." The man's voice took on a nostalgic quality. Closing his eyes, he took a heavy breath. "My father worked the Cross Colonial Express, I rarely saw him. But when he took me to work with him, the places I saw."
"My father, who knows." Lee waved it off, wrinkling his nose in disgust. "My mother, now she knew about automatons. Helion contracted her to design a new robo for them. I was her unofficial assistant. Which translates in to lab slave, chained under the workbench until needed." Chuckling, he felt a blossom in his chest when he heard the other man's laugh.
"Yeah, I know that one." A smile coming to his face, the man crossed his arms. From one hand, he dangled the mask. "My dad taught me everything he knew about this business. I don't think I had much choice in the matter of what I became. It's just lucky I actually like it."
"Well, if you are to believe the pythians, we are all destined to become what we are." Lee rolled his eyes. It was good to be able to talk with someone without having to watch every word that fell from his lips. "If I listened to the Oracle, I'd be back on Caprica with three kids and eyes going bad from working the microcircuitry."
"Don't knock the oracles, my mom's one!" He stared Lee down for several seconds, before snorting and hitting him in the gut with the mask. "Just jerking you. She's the first to tell you not to take their prophecies too serious. What she sees is only a probable future."
Lee was impressed. "So your mother is an Oracle. What's that like?"
"I dunno, I've just grown up with her all my life. Where some kids saw their moms every day, I saw mine six months out of the year." The sound of an air horn ripped through the terminal. The man nodded to several guys as they appeared through side doors. "I suppose I had it better than most these grunts. Half them didn't know either parent. The other half wish they were so lucky."
"It could be worse." Waiting until the other man looked his way, Lee felt a bitter smile start. "They could be an Adama."
The man blinked. Snorting, he shook his head. "I guess you'd know about that one."
"Get back here you little bastard!"
Lee was so shocked by the sudden battle cry that he whipped about to face the source, his briefcase up to defend himself. Instead of finding someone hellbent on killing him, he saw someone close to murdering the floor. He amended the thought when he saw the man get up and lunge again.
The target of his ire, a Mouzer.
Crawling forward, the strange man in a Tech's green overalls launched himself at the tiny robot. Arm out stretched, he cried his frustration when he encountered only empty space yet again. Having fallen face first in to the carpet during the last attack, he slammed his fist down on in anger. "Damn it!"
"Is there something we can do for you, Gaeta?" The man scratched at the skin behind his ear, trying desperately to keep a smile off his face. He failed miserably when the Tech glanced up at him through wild curls.
Hair having long since broken free from its gel prison, the Tech appeared half crazed and unkempt from his prone position. Blowing a curl out of his eyes, the young man sighed. "Hello, Chief."
"Chasing mice? The last time I checked, that was the business of cats." The laughter was highly evident in the Chief's voice. "You know you'll never catch them that way, they're programmed for evasion."
"Ordinarily true, however, this group is malfunctioning." Pushing himself up off the floor, the Tech ran a hand through his hair. This seemed to not only sooth his appearance, but his nerves. Calming down, he glanced about for the Mouzer. "They are tearing out all Blue three-eleven threads and replacing them with Orange two-eleven. Jammer's programmed the subset to think the Blue three-eleven is a physical malfunction."
The humor of the situation seemed to leave the Chief's face. Reaching down in to his uniform with his free hand, he pulled out an old model wireless. The pen shaped instrument glowed yellow as he activated. "Jammer!"
While the wireless squawked, Gaeta focused his attention upon movement in the corner near a lounge. A particularly large gathering of the Mouzer were gathered there. Glancing about himself, he appeared dazed and pale. Spinning, he found something.
As the Tech approached him, Lee realized he had been staring the entire time. Clearing his throat, he tried to look away embarrassed. This proved difficult when the man was suddenly upon him. Before Lee could ask him what he wanted, the briefcase was snatched from his fingers. "Hey!"
"I apologize, sir, but I need this." Not bothering to physically acknowledge Lee, the Tech ran across the lounge towards the Mouzer. With a battle cry, he threw the briefcase with all his might at the center of the swarm.
Lee stumbled forwards, desperate to stop him, but too late. Coming to a halt, he watched in horror as his new briefcase came down hard upon the tiny machines. All but three escaped. The unlucky ones screeched as they were smothered under the durable metal.
Bouncing up, Gaeta flailed his fists above his head. "Yes! Yes! Yes!" He knelt down upon one knee, punching the air. When he stood up again, he ignored the cheers about him and went over to inspect his kill.
Caught between horrified and pissed, Lee quickly tagged after him.
Just to make sure the new VP didn't kill one of his Techs, the Chief followed along.
Surrounding the briefcase, the still functioning Mouzer went about their task of dismantling and resewing the carpet with Orange two-eleven fibers.
A wave of the Tech's hand sent the Mouzer scattering. He smirked at them, enjoying the way they shot off in every direction. Lifting up the briefcase, he set it aside. He had what he wanted with the broken bodies of the tiny robots.
He reached in to the front bib pocket of his overalls and pulled out a small wireless. Quickly, he flicked open the bottom of the cylinder. Gaeta scooped up one of the dead Mouzer and squeezed the head off. The small red eye died as it hit the ground, green poli-electrical fluid dripping from the circuit endings.
Lee came to a halt half a step away. Watching with a sick fascination, he remembered what exactly the Tech was doing. He himself used to do the same thing years earlier.
Jamming the bottom of the wireless in the neck of the dead Mouzer, Gaeta activated it. The top red crystal lit up, signaling it was working. Smiling, Gaeta pulled out his wireless, and shoved it back in his overalls. A second later, all around them, the sounds of tiny confirmation screeches echoed.
Sitting back on his ass, Gaeta took a moment to enjoy his victory. That was short lived by the arrival of Lee to pick up his briefcase. He stared in horror at the man, having realized what he had done and to whom. "Sir! I am so sorry, I should not have done that."
Checking the security seals on his briefcase, Lee was happy to find them still intact. Dusting off Mouzer bits, he found no other form of nicks or dings. Lee quirked his lips, the relief overtaking any anger he had felt. "It's okay, no harm done."
Gaeta exhaled loudly, seeming to sag in on himself. The feeling of elation over his victory came back to him in bits. Beaming proudly up at Lee, he gestured at the damaged machines. "This is what I do, sir. Give me a half day, and even these three will be back to fixing snags in the carpets."
"I am sure you will." Stepping in, the Chief bent down to take the Mouzer from Gaeta. Tossing it back to the pile, he helped the Tech to his feet. "But, that's not important right now. Our new VP here is in need of a guide to the facility. You've just volunteered."
"Sir?" Gaeta stared in horror at the Chief. At his nod, he sighed. There was no getting out of it. After a moment, he turned to Lee. "Where would you like to begin?"
"Uh, how about a place I can freshen up first?" Looking at the two of them expectantly, Lee clutched his briefcase. There was no second chance with this one.
Stepping back as the doors opened, Gaeta gestured for Lee to precede him in to the room.
Lee entered almost hesitantly. There was nothing wrong with the room, but after their first meeting, he was a little weary around the Tech. The room turned out to be comfortably furnished. Soft floors, warm colors, even paper covering most of the wall panels.
"I hope this is to your liking. I'm afraid we haven't much else in the way of amenities yet." Walking in, Gaeta stopped just inside the door. He winced as the doors closed behind him. "The suites are scheduled for next month, that's all I know about it."
"This is fine." Lee walked over to the one table in the room. Setting down his briefcase, he continued to study the walls. "Where is the screen?"
"Far wall, the painting is actually a holo." Raising his hands, Gaeta looked like he wanted to go over, but held himself back. The light reflected off his hair as he tossed it back behind an ear. "Is there anything else you need from me before the tour?"
"Not really. Just let me change and wash my face, then we can go." He understood the Tech's nervousness. It wasn't every day in a corporation of literally half a billion employees that one of the big bosses came for a visit. Smiling in an attempt to put the man at ease, Lee headed for the only other door in the room. "Be ready in just a sec."
"Take your time." Gaeta closed his eyes. Counting down from a hundred to himself, he slowly brought his pulse under control.
The lights came on in the bathroom the moment he entered. A quick glance about told Lee where everything was. The mirror was directly opposite him, which was what he was hoping for. Tugging the knot of his tie, he quickly loosened it.
The buttons on his shirt swiftly came undone under his fingers. Tugging the tail of his shirt from his pants, he allowed it and the jacket to slide off his shoulders. After hanging them on the bathroom hook, he stood there examining himself in the mirror.
The white of the tanktop was the only thing giving him color. Too many long months in space did away with any pigmentation he might have gotten from sun exposure. He supposed he could do what Kat and the others chose, but the risk of cancer was high in his family. Even skin cancer was too risky.
Still, he must have gotten some light because there were freckles on his shoulders and upper arms. Lee stretched them over his head, first one, then the other. Yawning, he whistled. "Gaeta, can you bring my bag?"
"Uh, yes, sir." The sound of footsteps echoed in the bathroom until the Tech appeared in the doorway. Upon catching sight of Lee, he froze. "Here is your bag."
"Thank you." Lee twisted enough that he could see Gaeta. Finding the man's cheeks darkening, he grinned in response. "I just need a new shirt, then we can go."
"Yes, sir." Propping the briefcase up, Gaeta held it flat on its side.
Lee reached up to the case and placed his hand on the metallic disk in the center. The case chirped, then the latches on the side released. Opening it up, Lee pulled out one of his three folded shirts. He closed it, then winked at Gaeta.
Closing his eyes tight, Gaeta shifted slightly in his stance. "Stellar forecasters have warned that we should expect electromagnetic disturbances for tonight. Chief Tyrol may cancel all non emergency flights." Swallowing, he braved the embarrassment and opened his eyes. "If you wish, I can have your shirt and jacket cleaned just in case."
"Thank you, but later. I have a few changes prepared." Carrying his shirt, Lee laid it out over the toilet tank. Then he walked back to the sink and started the water. As he bent down to wash his face, he caught the Tech watching him in the mirror.
"Level thirteen." Watching as the screen flashed the numbers in confirmation, Gaeta ran a hand over the front of his overalls. They were holding up all right, but he felt a little self conscious in them thanks to his company. He sent a nervous glance over to his left.
Standing in the corner, Lee braced himself against the walls.. "Are we going to see the gravity generators or the gyro synchronizer?"
"You know the base." Gaeta was impressed. This was far more than he had expected anyone aside from a few diehard suits to know. Then again, knowledge of their location wasn't available to the general public. "Our first stop will be Generator Control, it gives you a general overview of the entire moon."
Gaeta grabbed the hand rail beside him as he felt the lift descending. The elevator took several hesitant jumps as the lights flickered. He tried to smile reassuringly, but a rumble in the frame took his calm away. Quickly turning in alarm, he reached out to touch the panel.
Unlike before, the panel didn't light up. Instead, the floor number disappeared. A half second later, the entire lift came to a halt, jarring them from their holds.
Thrown from his corner, Lee came flying towards Gaeta. The Tech had only a heartbeat to react, catching Lee before they collided. The impact threw them both against the wall. As they bounced off, Lee tripped, taking Gaeta with him to the floor.
While Lee crashed down on his back, Gaeta dropped on his side, beside him. Groaning, the Tech closed his eyes in pain. "That wasn't supposed to happen."
"I certainly hope not." Wincing, Lee laid there for a moment. When he opened his eyes, he found the lift car bathed in red. The lights in the walls had gone out, leaving only the emergency beacon above them on. "Great."
"Do not worry, in case of emergency, the doors can be pried open." Rolling up, Gaeta held the skin just above his hip. "An emergency pressure release can be found at the base of the control console."
"That's nice to know. How about we do something instead of just discuss it?" Sitting up, Lee bit his lip and tugged his shirt back in to place. The soft material was supposed to be comfortable in all occasions, but that was not so when it was bunched around his arm pits.
"Aye, sir." Getting his feet under him, Gaeta spun around. Releasing his side, he used both hands to pry open the control console's bottom. The moment he did, the lights came back on at a lower level. "Emergency power has been rerouted to the lights. We only have a few minutes of illumination unless we shut this panel."
"Just pull the switch already!" A pain in his temple meant he was going to suffer from headaches later. Right now, Lee had other things to deal with, though. Reaching to the pocket wireless on his belt, he tugged it off. He tried to activate it, but the gem only flashed. "No service, great."
"Then the main generator complex has been cut off or shut down completely. Atmosphere will begin to quickly leak from exposed or unfinished areas." As he spoke, Gaeta grasped the handle. "So long as we stick to the lower levels, our chances of exposure are minimal." Pulling on it, he winced at the sound of a metallic screech. "Locks disengaged. We are now free to open the doors."
"All right." Stumbling to the doors, Lee placed his hands against them. He started to brace himself for a struggle, but the doors slid back quickly with a click. The suddenness of it caused him to waver. Only an arm around his waist prevented him from falling forwards in to the hall.
Lee stared in shock, the arm around him forgotten. Red emergency lights revealed that the lift had stopped flushed with the corridor. "Luck must be on our side."
"Not really. The moment I opened the panel, the lift automatically went to the next level." The Tech glanced over Lee's shoulder. They were almost pressed against each other. "This is level four, we must descend the rest of the way by emergency ladders."
Lee's back twinged in anticipation. "Great."
Back aching, Lee stepped off the rungs too early and jumped down the rest of the way on to level eleven. The moment he landed, he staggered a couple steps and bent over. His lungs were hurting as his muscles screamed their abuse. It had been a very long time since he had done so much climbing.
Gasping for breath, he watched in not so little envy as Gaeta didn't seem to suffer the same problem.
Coming down the last couple rungs, Gaeta checked to make sure his way was clear before he stepped off. A fine bead of sweat had formed across his brow and under his arms. As he turned to face Lee, he used the hem of his shirt to wipe the sweat from his face.
Lee decided it was okay to enjoy the view while he noisily died from exhaustion. His coughing came out hoarse and throat straining, but he started to gain enough breath to speak. It took several swallows before he could speak, though. "Does this happen often?"
"Only in the last month, but never this severe." Bending down, Gaeta stretched his arms out at his sides. "My work depends upon my ability to move about in tight spaces. The lifts do not go in all the places our robos do. Since it's my job to fix the robos, I don't usually get to enjoy their use."
"I think you're due for a raise." Lee didn't have the breath to chuckle. He started to smile over his own joke, until he heard something behind them.
Gaeta immediately went on high alert. Glancing down the corridor, he seemed to stare at it for a long time. "Sir, how soon do you think before you're up to moving again?"
"Uh, now, I guess." Alarmed, Lee tried to see what held the Tech's attention. When he failed, he glanced down the other way. This time, he came up with something. There was movement in the shadows of the emergency lights. "Mr. Gaeta."
"I know. Get to the ladder, now." Gaeta was already backing towards the rungs.
"What is it?" Despite his curiosity, Lee picked up his pace. His back started to protest the movements, but he wasn't taking the risk.
Even though he was making sure Lee was at the ladder, the Tech refused to break eye contact with what he was watching. "Centurions."
It was like his words flipped a switch in the dark. All of a sudden, Lee could hear their footsteps. Grabbing the closest rung, he put his foot on the one beneath it. His heart nearly skipped a beat when he heard a motor kick on. "What the hell are they doing here?"
"Security level four threat. Something must have breached the inner core!" Taking the ladder behind Lee, Gaeta didn't have time to wait for the other man to lower himself.
Already, they could see something moving through the red light towards them.
"Sir, might I suggest picking up your pace." Only a slight crack in his voice revealed the emotions running through Gaeta.
"I'm going!" And he was, but his body would only go so fast. Lee skipped the next rung, trying to get down faster. His exhausted arms shook from the strain, causing him to clutch at them harder. Straddling his waist from behind, the Tech's knees bumped against this arms as they moved.
They were moving a rung a second, but not fast enough.
Gaeta nearly screeched when it became visible.
Red eye flashing across the center of its face, the drone raised its arm. Drawing closer, the Centurion lowered its hand, exposing a barrel.
"Move!" Gaeta hadn't time to think. Grabbing Lee around the chest with his legs, he snatched him off the rungs. Gaeta twisted his lower body, pulling the other man completely away from the ladder. Arms straining, he relied completely on his upper body to get them down below the visual range of the Centurion.
Dangling between Gaeta's legs, Lee clung desperately to his ankles for dear life. They were moving between decks now. His head banged against the tools in the Tech's overalls. "Set me back against the ladder."
"Not yet." Taking the rest of the ladder down, Gaeta was breathing heavy by the time Lee's feet touched the airlock. The moment the other man was able to support his own weight, the Tech released him.
Lee over estimated the strength of his own legs. The adrenalin high was starting to wear off. His legs, already weakened from the trek, lost what little energy they had left. This caused him to fall down upon his ass against the airlock.
Dropping down to stand next to Lee, Gaeta's sweat soaked shirt clung to him. His chest contracted and expanded quickly, mesmerizing the other man. "I do not believe that we are on the correct path any more."
"What do you mean? The Generator Control is the place to start if we want to get this rock back to working." Lee hoped he was remembering right. He had been weeks studying the blueprints, security protocols, and general information. There was too much for one person to memorize in that short of time.
"Power hasn't been cut. It's been locked out." Leaning back against the airlock wall, Gaeta put a hand to his side. "Security ascension protocol. We have our own paramilitary commandos to repel pirates. This is something else. The Centurions are only deployed in the event of a major security breech."
"Then how do we find out what is going on?" He hated to sound like he was whining. There was nothing to be gained by complaining. Yet, nothing he knew of was helping, and he hated having to rely upon someone else in tight situations. He was supposed to be the boss, damn it!
"We've got to get to a security node." Wincing, Gaeta slowly lowered himself down to the floor. His face contorted in pain as he closed his eyes. "The closest one is on the next level, two sections over. Patrol routes would place at least ten Centurions between us and the node."
"Frakking great." Kicking out with his shoe, Lee glared at the marred surface. Some where between the levels, he had scuffed up the shine job he had done on the way over. "If we're stuck here, how long before we can expect rescue?"
When there was no response, Lee looked sharply to his left. Much to his surprise the Tech's head was dropped forward. Alarmed, Lee leaned over to press his fingers against Gaeta's neck. His breathing returned to normal when he found a steady pulse.
The Tech was asleep.
Lee gave a hysterical giggle. Putting a hand to his mouth, he realized he must be a state of mild shock. They were stuck in an airlock between levels. Machines designed to kill anything upon sight without proper authorization were roaming the halls. And to top if off, neither of them knew what the hell was going on.
Yeah, now was the perfect time to sleep.
Easing himself over to Gaeta's side, Lee tugged him against him. It took a supreme effort, but he got them away from the wall. Now free of support, he eased Gaeta and himself down to curl on their sides. Lee was mindful of the hitch he knew was in the other man's side as he moved.
Now facing each other, he could feel Gaeta's breath upon his skin. It some how felt reassuring in the darkness. Reaching out, Lee draped an arm around the Tech's ribs, drawing him even closer.
Sleep was quick in coming. Just so long as Lee made himself forget about everything else.
As it turned out, that was easier than he thought.
At first, Lee wasn't sure what had awakened him. The air was slightly stale, but still a faint trace of flow as felt. There were several aches in his body and sleeping on a hard surface hadn't helped. It wasn't until he was trying to clear the cotton from his mouth that he realized what it was.
Heat, pressed against him.
Looking down, he found Gaeta draped half over him. His heart seemed to be keeping rhythm with the pulse he could feel against his chest. It was rather peaceful, if one didn't think about the killer robots several feet above and below.
Running a hand through the other man's hair, Lee took the time to enjoy the feel of it under his hands. He had been wanting to do that since he first saw him.
Had it been mere hours earlier?
After their little adventure, it felt like days. Lee wasn't quite sure what to make of this. There wasn't a relationship forming, but he could feel the inclination to try. Did he even want to? Certainly, he could see the appeal.
As an executive, he now had the time to settle down. It was something he hadn't done since he was extremely little. The last time he could remember having a stable home was before the Commander had left. Those were times he didn't care to recall.
A contented sigh from the other man made him realize he was still petting the Tech. Grumbling to himself, Lee let his head lay back against the deck plates. And as he closed his eyes, if he tugged Gaeta closer, that was just because he was cold.
Hanging upside down from the airlock, Lee glanced up and down the corridor. The red lighting was still on, which meant the problem hadn't been resolved yet. Each light had a power pack with a life span of two weeks. Life support would run out three days before the lights went out. Not seeing anything, he tapped the edges of the airlock.
Receiving the signal, Gaeta tugged on Lee's belt until he pulled the other man up back in to the airlock. Once he had him over the hole, he shifted his weight until they were back against the side. "What did you find?"
"Nothing. The patrol must have moved on." Lee rubbed his lower back where the belt had bit in to his skin. It was far from the most noticeable pain. The throbbing was just the only one he could readily take care of.
"That makes one every fifteen minutes. A standard rotation. Either there is a minimal threat, or the Centurions were deployed automatedly." As he said the last part, Gaeta's voice took on a flat quality. "I do not care for this situation the more I learn."
"You think I'm thrilled we came under attack during my first visit?" Snorting, Lee glanced back down the hole. The next Centurion would be along in five minutes. "Do we go, or do we wait?"
"We must go. Ascension protocols are definitive, there is no one in charge of the situation." Glancing to his wireless, Gaeta keyed up the holo.
Lee couldn't see the image projected as their ocular implants weren't synched. Still, he knew the man was counting down the time. "How much longer?"
"Two minutes. We leave in three." There was no need to ask if they thought they could do this. Neither of them were leaving the other behind.
Watching Gaeta's nervous twitch against the wireless, something occurred to Lee. "What happened to the rest of the crew? In seven decks, we should have seen someone, right?"
"Most likely dead. The Centurions are very thorough." He said it in such a matter of fact way that it struck Lee.
Blinking in surprise, Lee couldn't hardly believe it. There were half a million people stationed here on permanent rotation. That didn't include the deck crews from up top in transit, or the contractors and vendors. "Everyone?"
"Exposure most likely took care of the main crew. Their airlocks are secure, but without the generators, that means very little. No gravity for an atmosphere in the solar storm means radiation shields will eventually fail. The quick death of exposure is preferable to being cooked alive." Pressing his thumb to the wireless cylinder, Gaeta turned it off. "Those below, like us, were more than likely hunted down by the Centurions. Prepare yourself for bodies."
As Gaeta swung in to position to drop below, Lee felt himself grow numb. Over half a million people, dead. This had to be a mistake. Gaeta had to have his facts skewed. "Are we alone?"
"No." Raising his face, the Tech smiled. "We have the Centurions for company." Then he pushed off from the deck and fell down to the corridor below.
Moving quickly, Lee kept his head down and his ears trained for any sound. Behind him, he could sense more than hear Gaeta coming along. So far, none of the Centurions had come near. Every time they heard something, they ducked in to alcoves and hid. Since it was the level above the generator complex, there were many maintenance alcoves.
After near twenty minutes of ducking and dodging Centurions, Lee was surprised they hadn't even reached the end of the first section. According to the maps he had seen, it shouldn't have taken them long. Then again, the maps always made things look small. He should have paid more attention to the map key.
Gaeta's hand on his shoulder drew him up short. The other man dragged him in to a nearby alcove. They huddled close, pressing in to the corner to keep from being caught in the Centurion's heat sensor.
Lee heard it a short moment later. The mechanical cry of the servos echoed in the corridor as the killing machine drew near. Heavy thumps were felt as it walked passed them. They were pressed so close, that Lee felt the shiver of Gaeta's skin against his chest.
He drew the other man closer to him, pressing his lips to the Tech's cheek. Lee felt Gaeta's breath hitch. Closing his eyes, he prayed the machine hadn't heard. Luckily, it continued on down the hall.
When the drone of its parts could no longer be heard, Lee felt himself sag in relief. The monsters had sunken back in to the shadows. Holding tight to the Tech, he tried not to let his desperation translate through his grip.
"The Centurion has passed." Standing up, Gaeta swallowed. "We must go now."
"All right." Lee smiled at him. They would talk about it later. Apparently, he had made his decision.
Ducking around the last corner, Lee felt his heart threatening to tear itself from his chest. A red sign proclaimed for all to see that the hatchway led to a security node. Relief poured through him and he latched desperately on to Felix.
They had made it!
He tried not to feel disappointed when the other man shrugged him off. They had a job to do, after all. Still, it was a time for celebration.
Walking up to the control panel, Gaeta pulled out his wireless. He turned the bottom over, pulling off the protective cap to reveal a plug. The Tech pushed the plug in to a groove in the control panel's side. A red light flashed on the control panel once it made contact.
Pressing his palm to the control panel, Gaeta waited for it to scan. When the scan was complete, the doors hissed and cracked open. Gaeta jerked his wireless free, sliding the cap back on. Pushing it down in his overalls, he gripped the edge of a door.
As Lee moved to help, he heard it. A cold hand gripped his heart, making his breath hitch. They had to hurry. Grabbing the other door, Lee put all his strength in to pushing it open.
The doors gave a groan, but held fast.
Closing his eyes, Gaeta pushed Lee out of his way. He put one hand on either side of the crack. With a loud groan, he began pushing.
They groaned again, desperately trying to hold their ground. But it was too no avail. With a loud shriek, they were torn from their tracks and pushed in to the walls.
The doors were opened, and with no time to spare.
Grabbing Gaeta from where he had been resting, Lee dragged him in to the security node. They had barely cleared the hatch before the telltale thump of the Centurion's footsteps became audible. Lee dropped them to the floor, and rolled them under the nearest surface, which happened to be a control console.
They both held their breaths as the Centurion came near. The mechanical whine filled the chamber as it came to the doors.
Beneath him, Lee could feel Gaeta go completely still. Looking down, he found the other man staring up at him with wide, terrified eyes. It was the first time he had had actual confirmation just how scared the Tech was. Unable to stop himself, Lee lowered his lips to Gaeta's.
He was burning hot. Soft and moist, Lee felt himself grow hard just from the gentle touch. Much to his relief, Gaeta opened his mouth. Lee could feel their pulses speed up, matching the other's heartbeat in a frantic race.
Pressing on, it took all he had not to moan. He ran his tongue gently over the inside of Gaeta's mouth, tasting every flavor that was unique to the man. This caused the other man to exhale in to his mouth.
Lee breathed him in, taking his air and his mouth. Eventually, the strain became to great, and he had to shift. As he broke apart, he saw that the Tech was no longer afraid. At least not of the Centurions.
Smiling, reached up to push a curl from Gaeta's face. A quick glance out of the corner of his eye revealed that there was nothing in the doorway. It took a force of will, but he dragged his attention from the man beneath him.
A quick search of the room from under the console revealed the Centurion had not entered. They were home free.
Reluctantly, Lee slid off of Gaeta. He crawled out from under the console, careful to keep down just in case. Standing up, he stretched his back. Several of his vertebrae popped as they settled back in to place.
Easing out from under the console, Gaeta sat up more slowly. His hand was once again back at his side. "The console behind us controls the security monitors. I will attend it and see if I can bring up information on what happened." He pointed to one across the room. "That is the Centurion deployment controls for this level. Patch in to the main Cylon net. Your security codes will deactivate them."
"All right." It wasn't what Lee had been hoping to speak about, but he recognized that this might be hard for the other man. Adjusting his pants, he realized how hard it was for himself.
Nodding, Gaeta stood up, his hand clutching at his side. He used the console to support himself as he moved. As he touched them, they lit up from within.
That answered Lee's one question. Apparently power wasn't cut off from every part of the base. Making his way to the far side of the chamber, he heard Gaeta moan in relief. A quick look revealed the other man had found a chair to sit in.
Smiling to himself, Lee walked up to his console. The controls lit up under his touch. On the single screen, a security prompt appeared with a blinking cursor. He immediately typed in his password.
The screen flashed, then was replaced with the images of several boxes. This Lee knew. It was the base's intranet, hard wired through out the entire asteroid. There was no part of the planetoid that would not receive his commands.
"You were right, I can do it from here." Grinning, Lee found the Cylon control grid. Selecting it, he brought up the command prompt window.
"I knew you could do it." Gaeta was busy in his own work. Fingers flying over the keyboard, he summoned up the information. "I am activating the scanners and Dradis. If there is a threat to the base in orbit, we best know of it now."
"Good idea." It took Lee a second to remember his basic. Apparently while the robos grew more advanced, their programming was still behind. Figured. When he did recall, his typed out the code string. "Any idea what happened yet?"
"Processing." Glancing up at the screen Gaeta checked the data scrolls.
"Almost done." When Lee finished typing in the command, another prompt came up. This one asked for his authorization code. He didn't hesitate to type this in. Once done, he hit the enter key with a vicious snarl.
The image on Lee's screen blinked twice. A confirmation beep chirped from the console's speakers. Finally, a dialog window opened to show the status of all Cylon models on the base as shut down.
"I did it!" Throwing his arms up in triumph, Lee cried out his victory. He had done the impossible, he had survived and defeated the machines! Relief coursing through his veins, he took a moment to savor the feeling.
His heart hurt. Chest tight, Lee sagged against the console. He spun slowly to lean back against it. "We did it, Gaeta."
There was no response.
It took several breaths for Lee to realize he didn't hear the other man. Alarmed, he raised his eyes to look at Gaeta across the room.
The Tech was still sitting in his chair, eyes trained on the screen. His fingers were poised over the console, ready to begin typing. And he wasn't moving.
Lee felt like someone kneed him in the gut. Shaking his head, he pushed off from the console. He carefully made his way around the consoles to Gaeta's side. Reaching out shaking fingers, he touched the other man's cheek.
His skin was still warm, but slowly cooling.
Letting his eyes drop, Lee couldn't bare to look at his frozen face. As his eyes started to sting and tear up, he took in the other man's body for the fatal wound. The only visible wound he could see was Gaeta's side, where he had kept holding.
Reaching out, Lee had to know. It took several tries, but his fingers finally found purchase in the slippery material. The cloth was damp with still warm fluid, smelling faintly metallic. Lee raised it up to inspect the damage.
Then he nearly dropped it.
Eyes wide with horror, he glanced up at Gaeta's face.
The Tech was still staring up at the screen unmoving.
Swallowing, Lee forced himself to look back down at the wound. He pushed a probing finger in to broken skin. It came away with green fluid.
Sobbing, Lee wrapped an arm around Gaeta's neck. He tugged the other man close to him, not caring that he was unresponsive. As he slid to the deck below him, he heard something from the console above them beep.
"VP Adama, is that you?"
Clenching his eyes shut, Lee shook his head. He didn't want it to be him.
"If that is you, sir, you saved all our lives! Damn glad you came over to inspect us, I don't care what the others say."
Lee didn't care.
"Frakking Gaia Movement." Shaking his head, Chief Tyrol stood with his hands on his hips. A smudge of grease took up half his forehead. Lee stood beside him as they watched the unloading of the Bophor. "I thought Helion Transports screened the backgrounds of every crew member thoroughly."
"They are supposed to." Lee felt no sympathy for the men who labored to unload the cargo. Their number was down by half, and it was their own fault. "If you wish to arrange an accident, the extra paperwork wouldn't bother me."
"Nah, not worth the spot against my record." He waved off the crew. If he continued stew on it, he would do something stupid. "The Centurions took care of the stupid fraks who tried taking over. I'm just so gods damned embarrassed we let them in to a security node."
"It wasn't your fault. Their Identa Chips checked out." Having had enough watching over the crew, Lee turned away. Walking towards the opposite hangar, he saw the Chief follow along. "How long before I can get off this rock?"
"Two more hours. The latest wave is one of the worst." Tyrol continued on towards the hangar, until he realized that Lee had stopped. "What?" Following the other man's line of sight, he frowned. "He's fixed, good as new."
Seeing Gaeta monitoring a group of Mouzer, Lee swallowed hard. "How did he come about?"
"Your mother. He's one of the new models she and the design team have come up with." Coming up stand beside Lee again, Tyrol put a hand on his shoulder. Grinning, he tried to lighten the other man's mood. "You should call your mother. I'm sure there are a few other things she hasn't told you."
"I'm sure." Lee started to turn away, but the Tech looked up. The moment their eyes met, he felt himself freeze.
Gaeta smiled at him, warm and inviting.
Unable to breath, Lee felt himself return the smile.
Seeing the VP's expression, the Chief shook his head. He slapped Lee on the back, then wandered off back to the docks. After yesterday's events, he wasn't so certain he wanted to let these assholes near his base again. The sooner they were off New Troy, the better. If they left now, and were caught up in the solar flare, well, only they would be blamed.
Still stuck in place, Lee felt his stomach try to practice bow making. The Tech was clearly offering him something. He could tell it was curious by the way it kept glancing back to smile at him.
Looking up from his monitor board, Gaeta found Lee staring at him still. This sent a shiver down his spine.