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A Prayer for Felix Gaeta

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I’m so sorry.

Please, let me start by telling you all how sorry I am. I never should have left you in this time, when you needed me the most. It wasn’t because you failed me. Please do not think like that. You have all been so kind to me; such good friends to me. It was my own selfishness and cowardice that led me to abandon you in the midst of this awful mutiny. I promise you now; I will not desert you again. I won’t betray the love you have shown me. You are all my very good friends.

Now if you’ll forgive me…there is something else need to speak of this night. I lost a dear friend of mine today. You all know his name, of course. Indeed, I have heard many of you cursing his name and I would beg for you to stop. Those who have paid do not deserve further condemnation no matter what their crimes. There is so much more that you do not know. I would ask you to sit and listen a while. I hope that my words might even reach the ears of those in the chambers above us; those who may be listening on the wireless and who may tell their friends what they have heard me say. Because truly I believe this is something that you all need to hear.

I knew Felix Gaeta. I knew him. He was my friend.

Please listen while I tell you of the man I knew.

Felix was the first person I spoke to when I boarded the Galactica after being rescued from the ruins of Caprica. I can still recall how helpful and considerate he was to me that terrible day. I remember how capable he was as he kept a Watch over the CIC, holding himself together while many of his colleagues were breaking down at their consoles. I was surprised by his strength and efficiency; I could see that he was very young. In spite his years and relative inexperience I’m aware that the Commander relied on him to plot our first jump from the Ragnar Anchorage, beyond the red line, to the Prolmar Sector.

Do not underestimate the work of a fleet’s navigator. The slightest error in his calculations could have been the end of us all. Be sure that when Adama asked Felix to plot that jump…he was asking him to save the human race. Felix did his job that day, delivering us from a genocide and that was only the beginning of it. In that deadly chase after the first wave of the attacks, Felix Gaeta would stay at his post for some 130 hours and program 238 jumps, one every thirty-three minutes. Felix told me afterwards that he didn’t ask to be relieved. I imagine Adama didn’t trust his other navigators to avoid mistakes. Felix said that if he managed to complete his calculations in fifteen minutes then he had ten minutes spare to sit with his eyes closed. He never spoke like he had done anything heroic. He was just doing his job.

I think these things should be known.

Felix Gaeta saved the human race 238 times.

And that was only in the first week.

As some of you will know Felix was once my lab assistant here on the Galactica and later served as my Chief of Staff on New Caprica. During these times when I knew him I witnessed so many good deeds from the man. Good services for humanity that are not set down in Colonial records. Felix never drew enough attention to his goodness. Did you know that he saved my life when the leaders of this fleet would have executed me over a photo forgery? Did you know that it was Felix who held the CIC together when his Commander had been shot and the XO was too drunk and dismayed to pick up the pieces? Did you know it was Felix who held the civilisation of New Caprica together while his President sat drunk and paralysed at his desk? Did you know that Felix knew the name of every last person in that settlement and would have done anything to help them? Did you know we all would have died on that planet if it wasn’t for the risks he took? Do any of you know this?

No words, no records, no honours have ever been made to the goodness of this man. Now our history books will only note that he was executed as a traitor. Traitor. This word is a brand I have carried myself for so long and so often I still feel its burn. It shames me to admit it, but I was the first one who cast the word ‘traitor’ at Felix Gaeta. It was on the night when he was sent to see me in my cell, acting under Adama and Roslin’s orders I’m sure. Yes, I realise now. He was just following orders. But I was tired. I had been tortured. I wanted another person to share in my hell. So I tried to drag Felix down with me. I spat the word ‘traitor’ back at him and whispered accusations into his ear. Things that Felix should never have been blamed for. Things that he never intended. And now I fear I placed that word inside his head until it became a bitter reality; an itch that he could not relieve. I dearly wish I could take it back. For I still believe that Felix Gaeta had more virtues and less sins to his name than I. Yet I'm the one who has been spared, not him...

Oh God...I called my friend a traitor and I’m afraid that he believed me.

Felix always said he believed in me. He shouldn’t have.

The truth is I was never a very good friend to Felix. But was there anyone who ever did as much for him as he was prepared to do for others? How many of us heard him singing in the infirmary? How many of us questioned who had wounded him, but never sought the answer? We listened to his voice, the hidden gift of his voice…an exquisite cry for help that none of us were prepared to answer. Felix was sick with a despair that we dared not touch lest we were pulled under its waves. We knew who he was then; a man broken by the system, by the secrets and lies of his leaders. His song echoed through our halls and through our hearts, but we never answered. We never granted any of its wishes. We left his pain to fester like the crew of the Demetrius left his wound to fester for over twenty hours, it is said, before bringing him home. They always left it too late for Felix. They waited till he was incurable. They all chose the easiest and harshest resolves for this man.

Felix’s wound went bad so they took his leg.

Then Felix went bad so they took his life.

I have spent the most part of this day trying to find one clear reason for Felix’s fall. Too many reasons I have found; too much for one person to endure. A few hours ago I spoke with a CIC officer named Louis Hoshi. I met him in the corridor outside the execution chamber where he stood tearful and shaken after hearing the gunfire inside. I took him aside to speak with him. He confessed he had been close with Felix in recent months. He had seen Felix struggling to carry on working after the loss of his leg, still depending on medicines to numb his phantom pains. Then there had been the sudden alliance with the cylons and the crushing waste of our promised land. It troubled Felix as much as any of us. But Mr Hoshi believes it was the suicide of Lieutenant Dualla that was really the start of it all.

They say Felix was the one who found her. She was dear to him as a sister, you know. He stood in silent vigil for her outside the morgue. He listened to the Admiral boozing and muttering over her body. He heard his leader sinking deep into a well of loathing and despair. I’m told that later that night Felix came to Mr Hoshi with these words; “It’s happening again. He’s leading us to the apocalypse. The Old Man's becoming just like Baltar…”

Are you listening in with us tonight, Admiral? Did you ever listen? Let me tell you, sir, you were not the first to have your trusty Mr Gaeta turn against you. I suffered his righteous fire a long time before you did. Did you truly not see it coming? I saw it. I saw it every day of the occupation from my chair in the Colonial One and yet I did not take measures to prevent Felix from unleashing his reckonings upon me. Maybe because I felt I had done something to deserve it. Yes, I've had Felix raise his guns to me just as you have. I’ve had him read me an account of my sins and I did not reject his words. I knew that he was right. He had the opportunity to kill me too, but he gave me a chance. Did Admiral Adama never ask himself why this man, this loyal lieutenant, took up arms against him...yet did not shoot? Plainly, he did not know Felix as well as I did. He may not have understood that this was just Felix’s little way of saying: “You have one chance to put things right…”

Of Felix’s actions during the mutiny, I cannot even begin to explain. I only protest that this was not the Felix that I knew. You need not condone the choices that he made or the conflict that he caused. They are not excused by his naivety or the way one Tom Zarek could bend the purest ideals to his own deadly purposes. Still I doubt that Felix was in his right mind when he did this. Those who witnessed his ever so brief command in the CIC said they could see it for themselves. Oh, they tell me he was capable and efficient as only Felix can be when all else has broken down. He was all those things the military trained him to be, conditioned in his body and soul. But in those long silences between orders they say Felix would stare vacantly into space; his face pale and weary, his mind seeming adrift. Too often his hand would reach down to claw at his stumped leg. They all noticed it. They knew he was fading fast and the mutiny would soon be quelled. I’m told he had already surrendered when the CIC was reclaimed and he spoke no words as they led him away.

You all know what has followed. You know how the Admiral did what Felix could not do and dispatched his enemies without hestitation. What you may not know is that this was not the first time Felix Gaeta was faced with execution. Mr Tyrol, a friend to our congregation, has confessed to me that Felix was once convicted by a secret jury known only as the Circle. The Circle; another dirty little secret kept by our dear administration. Much like a certain Raptor incident that Mr Hoshi has insisted I must not discuss in this broadcast. But let me tell you about this Circle; a death squad that kidnapped their victims in lonely corridors, dragged them down to the nearest airlock, forced them to their knees and told them to beg for their lives which would not be spared. Mr Tyrol has told me that when they took Felix he did not speak a word in his own defence. It seems he was resigned to leaving this world even then. Only an accidental slip about his secret spy work earned him a reprieve. Once they tried to kill Felix for collaborating with the cylons and now they kill him for his resistance against cylon collaboration. It hardly surprises me that Felix felt his world was upside down.

The world is upside down for all of us. I really think we must try a little harder to understand each other. Mr Tyrol confided to me that after leaving New Caprica he was just as angry and as vengeful as our recent mutineers. That’s why he joined the Circle after all. Though he admits that he never felt right about the vote on Felix’s execution. He told me that he didn’t feel right about his execution today either. When I asked him why our Deck Chief simply shrugged and said “He always seemed like a good kid.” I hope you will believe that. He is not wrong.

I don’t believe Felix’s heart was in this mutiny. I think that was largely why it failed. In his time Felix Gaeta has been many things – the tool of a dictatorial military, the tool of a corrupt administration and the tool of a bloody rebellion. He served them all because he wanted to believe. He revolted against them all because his soul was sickened by what they led him to. Felix fought to break out of all his systems. I think he broke himself in the process.

But, I tell you, for those brief moments when I last spoke with him Felix Gaeta was entirely himself. A romantic boy with a head filled with hopes and possibilities. If you could have seen him then, I think you would have been as fond of him as I ever was. You might even have forgiven him if only to grant him a little peace in the end. Felix said that he was content to have lost this last stand. Maybe he sensed some greater purpose in this that I cannot perceive. He was not a religious man, but if you ever heard him singing you might believe he shared some secrets with the divine.

I feel the loss of Felix already, even though it's been so long since we called each other friends. I mourn for him and I know I do not mourn alone. I can feel Felix in the walls of this ship. Can't you feel it? On the cylon vessel there is a being called the hybrid; she is the veins of their ship, the central nervous system from which all its power fluctuates. If she becomes damaged or distressed she will start to malfunction; spewing out senseless orders, putting her ship and its crew at risk. The Galactica doesn’t have a hybrid of its own, but it did have Felix Gaeta, the man who kept this ship and all its functions and all its jump drives running smoothly for so many years...until the day that he malfunctioned and threw us into turmoil.

Now Felix has been shut down. Now the cracks are forming in the walls. Now the hull is groaning all around us. This ship is breaking like an old iron heart; like the heart of a soldier who has seen too much; who is sick of this war.

I fear no good can come of this. We must all hold together now.

Please…please do not be afraid. Forgive me, I have spoken too long and my mind is darkening. I lost a very good friend today. There has been too much loss already. Take my hands, won't you. I can no longer make promises to you, from our God or our leaders, for our uncertain future. But I can promise you this; you are my friends. I know who you are. You are the last dreamers and believers of this world. You are idealists and there is no sin in that.

There is no sin in that.

 

The End