So the Admiral made a decision. Military needs are a priority.
Day of the Dead
Willow and Tara walked quietly back from the officer's mess hall to their quarter. Even though there were several other people around, the mood in the hallways of Galactica was strangely quiet these days. The mood had started to change ever since Admiral Cain had started "integrating" the crews of the two Battlestars. For the Galactica that meant that both 'Apollo' and 'Starbuck' had been reassigned to the Pegasus and Chief Tyrol had been replaced by someone from the Pegasus.
It was all these changes to Adama's command that made Willow wonder that if it hadn't been for her injured knee, she might be over at Pegasus by now too. After all she had been supposed to serve aboard this Mercury class Battlestar after Galactica's decommission and a extended shore leave of course. Not for the first time since watching Admiral Cain and Colonel Fisk step out of that Raptor, Willow asked herself what had happened to Colonel Rupert Giles.
"Morning 'Red' what'd you hear?" a familiar voice behind her asked and without turning around Willow answered: "Nothing but the rain."
"Good. Then grab your gun and bring in the cat," said a female pilot of the Pegasus as she fell in step with Willow and Tara.
"'White Knight'!" Willow cried out and turned to Tara, "That's 'White Knight'! I mean Lt. Lucy Martin. Tara, she was my first wing man aboard the Battlestar Orion VII!
"Lucy, that's Dr. Tara Maclay, Secretary of Education and my girlfriend." The blond pilot and the blond secretary shook hands, both smiling brightly.
"Pleasure to meet you", Tara said.
"The pleasure's all mine," Lucy assured her, then turned back to where Willow was standing. "So, your girlfriend huh?" Willow nodded.
"And that would make you..."
"As gay as a picnic basket."
"I knew it!" Lucy Martin muttered under her breath and Willow's face turned into one big question mark.
"You knew?" The redhead asked. "Lucy it's been more then two years since we served together, and back then I even didn't know myself. Only found out when I fell in love with Tara, so how come you knew?"
"How could I not?" 'White Knight' asked back, and turning to Tara she said: "Back then she had a huge crush on me. And hadn't it been for good old Oz - who knows."
Feeling slightly confused, Willow shook her head. "Now you're telling me that you re gay too?"
"You have to tell me all about it," Willow demanded "As well as all about how you managed to escape destruction by the Cylons when every other modern Battlestar did not." Willow's babble came to a sudden hold when Tara pointed out to them that there were better places to have a talk than in the hallway.
"Do you have time?" Willow then asked, and Lucy nodded. "Then come along to our place." With 'White Knight' in tow, Willow and Tara walked to the visitor quarters and their official residence aboard this battlestar.
They sat down in the living room and after Tara had poured them all a glass of juice, Willow asked what she had been wondering about ever since they had been found by the Pegasus against all odds.
"Lucy," she asked. "What ever happened to Col. Giles?"
'White Knight' took another sip from her glass before she put it down on the table again. "Oh you mean Commander Giles?"
"Commander? Why, I thought he never wanted a command of his own!"
"That's what he said all right," Lucy answered. "But then he didn't have much of a choice." she paused for a bit, then started to tell the story: "It was about three months prior to the attacks. We where out on outer boarder patrol when Commander Taggert simply dropped dead in the middle of the CIC - cardiac arrest. Turns out he had a weak heart. However the ship needs a commander, even that far away from base. And so, via text message, Admiral Cain, as the head of our battlestar group, gave Giles field promotion to commander and the Pegasus as his command, with Fisk as his XO."
"So what happened to Commander Giles, did he get killed during the attacks?" Willow wanted to know, somehow she already knew that Giles had been aboard Pegasus when the Cylons had returned. Lucy Martin quietly emptied her glass and declined Tara's offer to refill.
"Well, we had completed our patrol and returned to Geminon. Giles had settled into his new job nicely. We were about to dock at the Utopia Plaintia ship yards for an extended overhaul. Admiral Cain had come aboard for a big inspection, as well as to discuss some other issues with Commander Giles..."
"And what did he do?" Willow asked, horrified.
"What could he do?" Lucy said, secret tears glistening in her eyes. "Fisk ordered the marines to deploy. And they stripped the civilian ships of everything useful.
"The Admiral then looked through the civilian ships passenger list and those she deemed useful to fill the losses of Pegasus where... recruited."
"Recruited?" something in Lucy's voice had Willow made ask.
"They recruited them with force," Lucy explained with a hurt voice. "Some of them refused... the Admiral put the families of those up at the wall... The marines executed two whole families."
Her voice broke and for a long moment she fell silent.
Willow and Tara were silent too, not knowing what to say. There had been rumours about how Admiral Can was running things aboard Pegasus ever since the attacks but they hardly compared to what they had just heard from 'White Knight'. They talked some more until Lucy Martin had to report back for duty aboard Pegasus.
Later that day Willow told Col. Thigh about what she'd learned form Lt. Knight and he said that he would relay this information's to Commander Adama. But because they where just about to commence a attack on a very important target within a pursuing Cylon fleet, he couldn't tell when or if the commander would act on it.
Two days later, they had succeeded in destroying the Cylon Resurrection Ship and that meant that until they could replace that ship any Cylon who got killed - including the living Raiders - would stay dead. It was one thing to go into battle knowing that if you get hit, you would wake up in another body than knowing that your last breath might actually be the last.
There was also no longer any need for Adama to confront the Admiral with her actions because Helena Cain was dead. Killed by Pegasus' very own Cylon prisoner who somehow had managed to escape from the brig and even got off the battlestar after she had shot the admiral with her own gun.
Willow Rosenberg stood silently in a sideway of the port hangar bay. Leaning heavily on her crutches, she looked at the Viper that had been with her ever since she had reported for her first assignment aboard the Battlestar Orion VII. For almost three years this Viper had been hers. But this part of her military career was now definitely over. Today she would hand over her Viper to another pilot - who she didn't know yet.
"Should I leave the two of you alone?" asked a familiar voice right into Willow's ear, the warm breath letting the little hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
"Tara!" Willow beamed. "I didn't think you would make it because of the Quorum meeting." She gave Tara a light kiss on her cheek.
"I managed to postpone my part of the meeting until tomorrow," Tara explained and put her arm around Willow's hip.
"Plus her customary pilot was needed here too!" Came another familiar voice from behind them, making Willow jump.
"Why's everybody sneaking up on me today?," Willow wondered and turned around to see Lt. Dana Kim coming her way.
"You, 'Rice-Pattie'?" she asked astonished. "You are taking over my Viper?"
"Yep," Dana said with a grin.
"I didn't knew you were qualified to fly a Viper."
"It's been a while," Dana answered. "But not that long that I couldn't convince 'Apollo' to let me handle your bird."
"You know, now I can sleep well, knowing that my Viper is in the hands of a good pilot," Willow said, surprising herself with how attached she had grown to her fighter.
By now Specialist Cally had arrived, carrying the new plaques for Viper 1701. After she greeted Willow, Tara and Dana, Cally moved a ladder to the Viper and climbed up to the cockpit. There she replaced the plaque Lt. Willow Rosenberg 'Red-Dyke' with Lt. Dana Kim 'Rice-Pattie'. It was the most simple procedure, not even part of military protocol.
But it brought some kind of closure to Willow as she felt a few tears running down her cheeks, that Tara secretly wiped away with a tissue. "Thank you," Willow whispered.
In no time Specialist Jessica Cally had changed the plaques on the other side of the Viper too. She walked up to Dana, Willow and Tara, stood to attention and saluted Willow sharply before she handed her the two old plaques.
Willow handed Tara her right crutch, and returned the salute before she took the plaques. "Thank you Jessica," she said feeling like she would break out crying any moment now.
"You're welcome sir," Cally said with a friendly smile and walked away.
"Well, better get ready," Dana said. "Need to get to the briefing before I start out on my first patrol." She shook Tara's hand, then turned to Willow. "Don't be a stranger down here, okay?" she asked.
"I won't, " Willow promised, "good hunting 'Rice-Pattie'."
"Good hunting 'Red-Dyke'."
"You know Tara," Willow said, as the two woman made their way out of the hangar bay. "I think I will miss being called 'Red-Dyke'"
"I can call you 'Red-Dyke' if you like," Tara offered with a seductive smile. "You know on special occasions. Very special occasions." By now her voice was no longer suggestive but showed only too clearly what she was 'suggesting'. Willow was just about to take Tara by her word when the newly promoted Admiral Adama stepped around the corner in front of them.
"Ah Lt. Rosenberg," Adama said, "I was just about to send for you."
"Admiral Adama" Willow said and saluted her commanding officer as good as it was possible without letting go of a crutch.
William Adama returned the salute. "If you would come with me to my office Lieutenant, there's something I need to talk about with you."
"I think that would be my cue to go and attend to my own duties," Tara said and was about to excuse herself.
But Adama raised his hand. "You don't need to Dr. Maclay, you can come along - if your girlfriend doesn't mind." Of course Willow didn't mind and so they soon sat side by side in front of William Adama's desk. While Adama was sorting through some papers, Willow found herself both assured and proud of Tara's presence at her side. Assured because she felt much calmer with having her girlfriend at her side as the future of her military career was about to be decided. And proud because of the way Admiral Adama simply accepted Tara as her partner in life.
"Lt. Rosenberg," Adama said putting his glasses aside. "when you reported for duty aboard the Galactica, nineteen months ago, I knew from the start that you had all the potential to become not only a great pilot but an outstanding officer as well. I dare say, you exceeded in all my expectations. That was why I recommended Commander Giles to keep an eye on you. And I knew that if he saw the same in you as I did, he would make you CAG as soon as the position would've been open aboard the Pegasus." The admiral fell silent for a bit, remembering his comrade with whom he had fought side by side during the Cylons Wars.
William Adama put his glasses back on and then seized the document lying right in front of him. "As Col. Tigh informed me you've lost your flight status due to the knee injuries you suffered on Kobol."
"That's correct, sir," Willow acknowledged. "Doctor Pulaski told me, that even though I will regain most of the mobility within my knee, I will no longer be able to produce the necessary thrust with my leg to fly a Viper."
"A real pity," Adama said. "You always where among the finest pilots. Nonetheless, I never saw your potential limited to mere flying and I would hate losing a valuable member of my crew." He let the peace of paper drop to his desk again and looked right into Willow's face whose heart started to beat much faster.
"Lieutenant, as soon as Doctor Cottle declares you fit for duty again," he said in the most official tone of voice. "You will report to flight control for duty as a flight officer."
"Yes Sir," Willow answered then frowned. "But Sir, wouldn't that be a Captain's position?"
"That's right," Admiral Adama agreed and seemingly out of nowhere produced a small black box, opened it and handed it to Willow, who accepted it with trembling hands. The box contained two pieces of rank insignia.
"Congratulations, Captain," Admiral Adama said and offered Willow his hand which she shook absentmindedly.
Tara smiled proudly at her newly promoted girlfriend. "Admiral Adama, may I?" she asked, pointing at the insignias in Willow's trembling hands.
"Be my guest, Doctor," the Admiral answered with a barley notable smile.
Carefully Tara took of the lieutenants pins from Willow's uniform collar and replaced them with the new ones. She then placed the old ones in the box and handed it back to the admiral.
For Willow this was all like a dream. There had been a part of her that had already accepted the possibility that her service as colonial officer might come to an end. But she never had even dreamed that, if she was to remain with the colonial forces, she would actually rise in rank, now that she was slightly compromised in her physical performance.
"And now if you would excuse me," Admiral Adama said and stood up.
Willow too got to her feet and took one crutch that Tara handed her. She stood to attention and raised her hand in salute. "Admiral."
"Captain," he said and returned the salute. Willow took the other crutch and was just about to turn around and leave the office together with Tara, when William Adama added one last thing.
"Since you still have some time to spare, I suggest that you get up to speed with your new position and duties."
"Of course sir."
"Good. I'll have Lt. Benson bring you the guidebooks and instruction manuals. Dismissed."
Willow stood to attention once more. Then Dr Tara Maclay led the very proud Captain Willow Rosenberg out of Admiral Adama's office.