the life effect
PG, gen, Battlestar Galactica. What happened to Lee Adama.
Starbuck has a way of always being right. She once asked him, "Do you believe in
nominative determinism?" and then disappeared back under the Viper undercarriage
she was working on. When she re-emerged, he asked her what the frak she was
talking about, and she reminded him of the call sign that remains his glory and
bugbear - he remains among the gods.
No, is the answer. He doesn't believe in any kind of determinism; that would
mean Zach's death, the holocaust, the Cylons, they were meant to happen, and Lee
won't accept that. He would tell her, but she's dancing with Doctor Baltar - she
looks over his shoulder at Lee, and gives him a thumbs-up. He grins back. And
there is his father, commander of the fleet, dancing with the President of the
civilian population. It's a pretty picture and the press will love it. Lee
Suddenly everyone at the party is having a better time than him.
Starbuck appears, in a rush of perfume and colour in that gorgeous, swirling
blue dress; it’s an amazing transformation under any circumstances, but
particularly now (Where did she dig up that dress? What did she have to go
without for that perfume?) but he’s too preoccupied to enjoy it. In another life
he would have danced through the night with her and hung the consequences, but
now he’s military adviser to the President as well as the CAG and he couldn’t
and wouldn’t forget it for a moment.
Yes... he is responsible and dedicated to his cause, even though the President
herself seems to have relaxed, moving in slow, graceful circles around the dance
floor with his father. His father, Commander William Adama, who wouldn’t
understand civilian considerations if they hit him in the eye, but somehow
learned to dance without his son noticing. He drifts by like a stately galleon
and gives Lee a brief nod and mock salute; Lee is too surprised to react at all,
blinking like a surprised codfish.
That’s when Lee decides to stop thinking and just dance with Starbuck, with
Kara, and screw everything else. Innocently, she asks him: “What are you
“Nothing,” he says. “Nothing, nothing.”
She isn’t listening, though, and he doesn’t blame her.
At the oracle at Delphi, Pythia was the priestess of Apollo. She breathed the
mystical vapours of the earth and gave Apollo’s wisdom to the people. It is a
part of the scripture, holy and sacrosanct, and yet Lee puts his book down and
blushes thoroughly. Colonial One is still and silent at this time of
night; there are people moving like peripatetic ghosts around the seating and
laying papers on the desks, but they make almost no sound and the lights are
Above the President’s head is the big whiteboard with the big number, that tells
them exactly how many humans of the Twelve Colonies are alive out in space.
There has been no occasion to change it today, and for that Lee is grateful. Not
because it means there have been no deaths, not because there will be more of
them to seed their new race, but because the silence has been maintained, with
the equanimity, and Laura Roslin has not had to get to her feet and draw a new
figure with shaking hands.
Lee wonders in passing if his priorities are changing.
Billy, the President’s aide, who always looks to Lee as though he should be in
school uniform, like one of the kids Starbuck used to push around when they were
all younger, ventures up to Roslin’s desk and says something. They converse in
quick, low voices, shuffling papers, and he glances meaningfully up the clock,
but their words shift to become part of the background hum and Lee does not
worry that he cannot hear what they are saying. He picks up his book again,
reads of Apollo as god of sunlight and prophecy, and takes himself away from
this dim and drifting ship.
Time slips on by. Gaius Baltar, brilliant scientist, vice-president and madder
than a bat out of hell, clambers to his feet, swats an insect only he can see
and ambles in ungainly fashion out of the main cabin and towards wherever it is
he sleeps. Lee ignores him. At length even Billy moves, although his gaze
remains on Roslin, noting her every move with wide, sad eyes.
She stands up, and stops beside her military adviser. “Burning the midnight oil,
Lee?” she asks quietly, and Lee looks up.
“I’ll go back soon,” he says.
“You should. Get some rest while you can.” She smiles, and leans slightly on
Billy as she walks towards her own quarters.
He’d do anything for her. Lee watches her go.
Starbuck teases him about his new, almost civilian post. That he can understand,
and almost welcome, because it makes the whole thing seem inevitable and normal
– Kara’s teasing is part of the natural order of things. His father, however, is
a different story; he is unhappy about his son’s allegiance and hides that fact
from no-one. He has defined Lee’s life, in his presence and in his absence, and
it is he who is commander of the fleet. Lee may be Apollo, may be the CAG, and
Roslin may be the democratically elected President of the civilian population,
but it is William Adama who is ruler of all he surveys.
So in quiet moments when he isn’t flipping a Viper or losing all his money to
Starbuck or shouting at one of the civilians spreading Cylon rumours, Lee
worries that he might be turning his back on all that has made him what he is.
And then he reasons that he was trained for a different sphere, a different
universe, one where they weren’t on the run from their own creations, where the
sun was bright and Zach was alive and Starbuck ate pistachio ice-cream by the
litre – that if this brave new world has not changed him, than he should worry
about his own humanity.
Lee is stubborn, he knows what he wants and what is right. His father represents
the past, and Laura Roslin the future. A schoolteacher guiding the fleet makes a
certain amount of sense to Lee; as before, she is shaping the future and he is
following her beyond the end of the world.
But in the end, the President sends Starbuck for the arrow of Apollo. I’m here,
he wants to say and doesn’t. I’m here, I’ll go. But Kara is gone and Roslin is
close to death and his father is William Adama. This is not how the world ends.
That happened a long time ago.