Warriors and Sentinals

Warriors and Sentinels
Penname - Rap, Rap541, Raichu541
Email: Smoffett12@cox.net
Word Count - 2332
Rating - PG-13
Characters - Gaeta focus
Catagory - Action, although this part is slow
Story timeline/Spoilers - After Home part 2

Author's note - I like Gaeta. Seems like there's a story behind his calm exterior.

Bio - I'm an ex-reservist/college grad who works a job that a monkey could do and yet pays while. I actually am an oldschool galactica fan at heart and my first childish scrawls were galactica fanfiction. I have written extensively in some other fandoms, ER, Power Rangers, Gilligan's Island, Stargate and Jeremiah.

Why am I writing this fic? I like Gaeta because he seems to exemplify the best in the colonists. He works hard but he's not a martinet. He clearly worries a lot and yet seems to have a very dry sense of humor. He's not a pilot on a ship where pilots are king, a techie among luddites. Gaeta has saved the fleet several times over and rarely gets a thank you. He seems as smart at Baltar but in his shadow. Seems like there's a story there.

The ship had many secrets. Gaeta doubted that anyone knew them all. He knew more than most, because he watched things a lot more closely than people suspected. Sometimes, late at night, he wondered if anyone else had noticed the secrets that surrounded them all. He doubted it. Hardly anyone had time to breath, let alone worry about the oddities around them, but he did worry. He suspected that the Old Man worried as well, but he had been on the Galactica long enough to know that the commander had a number of blind spots when it came to the crew. Not that he faulted the man. After all, Commander Adama had never mentioned his secret as far as he knew.

The irony, Gaeta thought as he looked around the CIC with tired eyes, was that he was never supposed to be assigned to the Galactica. He hadn't even considered it. The Galactica was for those who were close to retirement, or unwilling to change with the times. Commander Adama was reputed to favor officers who had been Viper pilots. As an Academy graduate, he had qualified to fly a Raptor, but it was the one area in the Academy that he had struggled with. He hadn't even come close to qualifying for Viper training and he was glad he hadn't. He had done the obligatory tour at Picon Headquarters and was confident that the promotion to lieutenant was going to come with an assignment to the tactical officer spot on the Battlestar Atlantia. It was a plum assignment where he would learn and use the newest technological toys.

The real irony was that the scion of a rich upper class Caprican family who has pulled political strings to get the post on the Atlantia was dead, and Gaeta, who had viewed being ordered to the Galactica as a fate worse than death, was alive. Oh, everyone said that class and position had no bearing on assignments but he knew what had happened. No matter how competent or gifted he was, he was backwoods trash compared to a minor member of the Moyson family. And Adama knew that, and that Gaeta was being punished for the crime of doing better than he should.

" Mr. Gaeta, isn't your shift over? Col. Tigh rasped.

Gaeta looked at the time displayed on the wall. His shift had finished almost two hours ago. " Yes sir."

" Then get out of here. Its not like we give you an excessive amount of time to sleep." The colonel smiled tightly. Gaeta nodded and quickly left. Tigh wasn't a man to disagree with.

Tigh was also a drunk. If it was a secret, it was an open one. He had discovered it his first day on the Galactica, when Tigh walked by reeking of alcohol. The drinking had eased off a bit since the colonies had been destroyed, and then gotten much worse since Ellen Tigh had been brought aboard. Ellen, when not drunk herself, had a tendency to proposition anyone she fancied. She had cornered him in the officer ready room once. He doubted that he had been the only one. He also knew that she wasn't always turned down. Tigh was going to find out eventually. Gaeta doubted that he would do much officially, although there were some pretty strict rules about adultery. Unofficially Tigh could and would make the offender's lives a living hell. And it wasn't like life on the Galactica was such a treat.

Colonel Tigh was the Commander's biggest blind spot. Gaeta dreaded the fact that there was no way to override the seniority system. Having Tigh in charge of the fleet had been a disaster. A disaster that he had mitigated slightly by ignoring the obvious escape plot. If Adama died, Ellen Tigh would not allow the man to step down. That would be a real disaster.

Of course, he thought as he trod down the hallway towards his quarters, it wasn't like that was the only disaster they faced. On any given day, everyone in the fleet risked death. It was so stressful he hadn't been able to keep anything but sugary candy down since the disaster. Dr Cottle was sympathetic in his way. He had given Gaeta some antacid tablets, a box of candy and the suggestion to suck it up since life wasn't likely to get much better in the near future. That was much nicer advice than the people who were depressed got. Rumor was that Cottle wasn't above just tossing those people out with the admonishment of "I'm not a shrink".

If Cottle died, there would be no doctor at all. Every necessary profession was short staffed. Some of the fleet ships had engineering staffs that consisted of retirees and talented children. He personally did the FTL jump calculations for over half the ships in the fleet. There were people who could take over that chore, like Dr. Baltar, but they had other jobs to do as well.

And Dr. Baltar had his own problems and secrets. Gaeta had been pleased and honored to be assigned to work with him, but as time had worn on, things that had been odd at first had become…. Disturbing. Dr. Baltar talked to himself, and not just in a cheerfully eccentric way. Gaeta knew that intellectuals could be strange. It wasn't just the talking or the masturbation, or even the talking while masturbating. It was that Dr. Baltar seemed to be completely crazy. He didn't know what to do. There was no psychiatrist, there wasn't even an under qualified group counselor for the fleet, and Baltar was more than suffering from shock. But… Dr. Baltar was also the most brilliant man in the fleet by far. They needed him. So he made sure to keep an eye on Dr. Baltar, even though he was pretty certain that Dr. Baltar resented his presence more and more.

He almost went to bed. As the tactical officer, he was a member of the senior staff. He had a cabin to himself, one of the few times that being a bridge officer led to more privilege than being in the flight wing. He was tired, and the colonel hadn't been lying about how much he got for sleep. But… he wanted to be around people, at least for a while. There wasn't a formal officer's club on the ship, but there were any number of recreation areas that had been commandeered by the various different groups. The rec room that the bridge officers used was always empty. Most of the CIC staff had been reassigned before the Galactica's retirement ceremony. The few that were left were enlisted people and a few junior officers. Everyone was so busy, it was rare to see anyone relaxing in a public area. It wasn't like there were all that many bridge officers to begin with. He usually socialized with the enlisted staffers. On a more strict ship, that would have been a problem. On the Galactica, as long as he continued to avoid the colonel's wife, playing Warriors and Sentinels with enlisted people was fine.

Still, he hesitated before he entered the rec room that the air wing generally used. He wasn't really a pilot, and he wasn't in the mood to deal with the snippy comments of the junior pilot officers. He took a breath and went in. At worst he could make a quick exit. At best they might have some bottled fruit juice to drink. It would be nice to relax.

Kara knew she was frakked as soon as she looked at her cards. She was the queen of triad, no one disputed that, but some frakking bastard had decided to bring a kiddy game to the table and now she was losing badly. Worse, she was losing to one of the nuggets, a smug bastard called Smash. She was certain that he had suggested Warriors and Sentinels just to get a win he could crow over. It made her want to win that much more.

She just wasn't very good at Warriors and Sentinels. She had played before, of course. The strategy game had been popular for years. There were world tournaments, or at least there had been, complete with board, pieces, and specialized decks. There were even professional players, although it wasn't nearly as popular as triad. When Smash had managed to produce not only decks, but playing board and figures, she knew she had been had. The question was how to salvage the situation. It was understood that she would easily outfly Smash on their training flight the next day. However, it would hurt her rep to walk away from a card game the loser. " Ok boys, I'll concede this battle but how about best two out of three?"

Smash snickered at her. " I beat you once, I can do it again. Say, why don't we play doubles? Maybe partner play will make you more of a challenge." He leaned back in his chair and waited expectantly. Kara wanted to punch his blocky face.

Instead, she quickly scanned the room. Partner play was easier, she knew that, and Smash was being more arrogant than smart. However, her first choice for partner play was Lee and he was on patrol. Lee had the right sort of mind for the game. She understood strategy, but it wasn't a thinking process for her. She could make a split decision and know it was right. Lee was more methodical, but could weigh all the actions and pick the best one. There was no real bluffing in Warriors and Sentinels. Just straight thinking. Smash however wasn't thinking strategically at all. The smart thing would be to continue playing singles. He was preening like he had already won.

That was her advantage. That and the fact that the second smartest person on the ship just walked into the rec area.. She grinned. That was the Starbuck luck coming through, she thought as she stood up. " Gaeta, get over here, I was looking for you."

The dark haired man seemed to blush with surprise as he waded through the crowd to the playing table. She was surprised to see him, the CIC staff was generally too busy for much other than work and sleep and Gaeta more than most since he was assigned to assist with Dr. Baltar as well. She had played triad with him few times. He was a good player but not terribly daring.

However, that didn't matter. What mattered was that she knew that underneath the eager workaholic façade, Gaeta was a sharp thinker with tactics and strategy. Before the holocaust, he had been friendly and up for a good time as long as it wasn't too extreme. A goody two shoes, but all right. Funny even. He hadn't been much fun lately but hardly anyone had been. And hadn't the rumor mill been quite hot on who won the battle group amateur contest? " Come on, sit down. You're my partner for a Warriors and Sentinels match with these frakking idiots."

Gaeta looked at her and then at Smash, and finally at the board on the table. Then he smiled slightly. Kara winked at him. Gaeta was a by the book sort, and usually too busy and uptight for real fun, but she had heard things. Dee said he was wickedly funny when in the right mood, and Dee was a good judge. " Come on," she wheedled, " I'll buy you a drink."

" I can't drink, I have watch in twelve hours," he said quickly as he scanned the playing pieces and strategy board. " But if you can find me some juice, I think I could play for a little while."

She grabbed him by the arm and pulled him over to her side of the table. " You're a cheap date, Gaeta." To Smash, she said, " So who's your partner?"

Smash snickered again. " It doesn't really matter. Anyone can beat a CIC deadwing." He gestured to Gaeta's wing pin. Kara almost raised her fists, but stopped herself just in time. Smash was looking for a fight, that much had been clear to her, and she realized that he didn't really care who that fight was with. What he said was insulting, but only to Gaeta, the only one in the room it applied to. She wasn't in the mood to throw fists over it. Gaeta's eyes narrowed a bit but his pleasant smile did not leave his face.

Instead he gestured to the table. " I see you're using the midlevel tech deck with no modifiers for higher level space anomalies. That makes for a refreshingly simple game. Partner play requires a ten minute strategy session before the opening move. Lt. Thrace? We need to plan." He pulled her towards the back of the room. She would have been worried except that Gaeta's eyes sparkling with amusement.

"Funny, I would have thought you'd be pissed off." Kara said after a moment. Yes, she had made the right call. For the first time in a long time, Gaeta looked relaxed.

" I have two questions for you," Gaeta said firmly. " The first is how badly do you want to win?"

She grinned. Definitely the right call. " I want it bad."

Gaeta's grin broadened, giving his face an almost devilish cast. " Good. Now how badly do you want him to lose? Because I can make this long and painful or short and totally humiliating."

" Gaeta, I had no idea, that underneath your calm, cool exterior, there was a total asshole waiting to slip off the leash." Kara chuckled.

" Believe it." In a flash, his face became completely calm and serious. " Now shut up and let me talk. We have eight minutes left and it'll take that long for me to show you why you lost.

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