[TGG] When Two Worlds Collide (TGG - nBSG crossover)

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The Duchess of Zeon
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[TGG] When Two Worlds Collide (TGG - nBSG crossover)

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-04-16 03:27am

Table of Contents

I was challenged to write a fanfiction including the new BattleStar Galactica in the TGG universe--a broad crossover universe created as an old spacebattles.com "story debate". It now includes the fiction stories The War That Wasn't, by "Big" Steve, The Anatomy of a War, author the same; A Southern Belle in Empress Intalasha's Court by Mayabird, and "55 Days in Kalunda" by myself and Steve as co-authors. The last two include a species I've exhaustively created, the Talorans, with background information and short-stories about them available in this thread here. The challenge was essentially to posulate that the TSE-universe (the TGG being a multiverse of many universes) is the same one as neo-BSG is set in, and then to write out the contact between the Talorans and the Colonial Remnant.. So that is what I did, and here is the story for your enjoyment thusly. I'd also like to take a moment here to thank Maya who is providing extensive advice on the nBSG side of this story to maximize the plausibility and who deserves mention with all the chapters as materially aiding in their form and development.

352 - 353 C.E. By the human count

The people of the Astrian valleys had risen up in revolt. Grim old and proud warlords, with their retainers in full bronze panoply. They were to no longer tolerate the destruction of their golden idols and the replacing of their Gods of old with the strange one God and his female devil-servant of the far-off Grenyans, with their foreign devil queens who behaved as no woman ought.

Though the rule of the Grenyans, some said, was lighter than that of Trasjak the Conqueror of old, most ignored them, and plotted against the converts to the religion of the devil queens; they rose up and slaughtered them, and inevitably, for the followers of the devil queens were, one might grant, no cowards, there was a retaliation against them. Against the mustered strength of eighty thousand Astrian tribesmen, who held the high ground in the rugged uplands of the central Ghastan Island, there was mustered in the vales below a somewhat understrength division of fifteen thousand of the Royal Grenyan Army—three-fourths of whom were local levies—supported by only a thousand and five hundreds of cavalry, all rostok.

None of the descendants of Trasjak the Conqueror feared the fire-tubes of the Grenyan Army; certainly not the Great Chief of the Istarlan Valley. His force in the centre was to receive the full weight of the Grenyan assault up-hill while either wing swept down and arround to surround the Grenyan Army and annihilate it. He did not envy his position, yet he knew that the chance of defeat was small. The Grenyans would have to attack uphill, and using women in the ranks, their forces would be weak and easily tired....

A strange and terrifying wooden reed-horn sounded below enmasse, and the beating of drums. Censers attached to great wooden poles were swung 'round in front of the Grenyan troops, and the sweet fragrence of incense drifted up the slope to the waiting Istarlans, unnerving them, that the troops below took the fight as though it were a woman's bath-party, and their music was so exacting and precise, without a cry among their ranks.

Then suddenly there was quite a lot more of smoke, and the echoes of thunder howled around them as the arcs of mortar shells crashed down in the midst of the Istarlan troops. Many of them at once regreted their confidence as the mortars burst, and with them, the strange whirling scream of the rockets, shrapnel everywhere and men falling dead and dying with blood as the Grenyans waited calmly below, the smoke of the censers and of the cannons obscuring the incredible brilliance of the polished silver domed and effavsur-plumed helmets of the ranks of Grenyan regulars right in the centre.

Under this fire the Istarlans found themselves compelled to retaliate for the sake of their own spirits; they ordered flights of arrows down into the waiting Grenyan troops. At this, one of their officers below, a stately woman who at close range could be seen as wearing the uniform of a brigadier, snapped an order with brilliant green eyes set in pale face gazing up calmly toward the Istarlan warriors beyond. The trapdoor rifles of the Grenyans were raised at a sharp angle, bayonets fixed, and served as a great forest which deflected the majority of the arrows which would have otherwise found their mark. Only a few of the soldiers fell wounded over the course of the twenty minute barrage.

The drums beat a long and constant roll. Brass horns added to the cacophony of sounds, which suddenly became clear and brave as the priests with their censers fell back, and officers in silvered cuirass and gold-plumed helmets advanced to the front rank of the line, swords crisply drawn. The rolling of their drums as a signal, some four thousand infantry of the Royal Grenyan Army's 145th “Estafvi” Brigade of Foot surged forward at the double-quick, black kilts twirling at the knees of the infantry as they pressed uphill with the greatest rapidity, the front ranks firing their rifles as fast as they could be loaded on the advance, somehow maintaining their footing on the treacherous ground as they surged on. Silver sashes over khaki jackets and red regimental badges, they were resplendant under the brilliant heat of the summer suns and even through the now-omnipresent clouds of dust.

A young girl in the front rank playing a reed-horn was struck repeated by arrows; she fell to the ground with her legs cut through and bleeding badly, but with a stubborn sort of defiance reached for her instrument and played on as the troops closest to her broke their disciplined silence at the sight to raise a haughty cheer. Several officers in the front rank had been wounded, but against arrows their cuirasses were more than simply ornament, and the advance continued unabated. For the Istarlans the sight became progressively more and more frightening since it seemed like few of the Grenyans were falling, and their assault was unabated, whilst the mortars, at least, continued to crash down amongst them, and for men used to single combat with the axe or sword there was something terrifying in the way those unyielding bayonets were presented, the whole assembly of rifle and cutlass bayonet amounting to some two meters or more of rigid half-pike which was for them worse to consider than the bark of the blackpowder rifles which was laying them low by the dozen.

Both wings were swinging into action against the Grenyans; certainly all the Istarlans needed to do was hold, and the Grenyan force would be annihilated, the greatest victory of the people of Ghastan against the Grenyan devil-queens in the short, bloody, and defeat-ridden history of their contact from the day the first of the black ships of the Grenyans arrived in a distant Ghastan port. Yet the Istarlan ranks were thinning under the constant fire, and the Grenya regulars drew inexorably closer...

And then, at the crest of the ridge, point-blank to the Istarlan lines, halted and delivered hellacious volley after volley point-blank. Hundreds of warriors were falling now... ...And the vicious fusillades were followed by thrown flintlock grenades, at which point the Grenyan officers, twirling their swords, led their troops forward at the double-quick once more, crashing down into the midst of the Istarlan warriors with the bayonet.

There was nowhere for a man to put his sword or swing his axe! Instead, there was simply a bayonet everywhere—and when a man tried to cut down the Grenyan soldier in front of him, he would find his right side run straight through by the bayonet of the next soldier down in the Grenyan line. They made no attempts to defend themselves, in inconceivable behaviour for the Istarlans, but instead relied on the person to their immediate left in the line to defend each one of them in turn. Only the file closers with their halberds on the extreme left fought the men directly in front of them.

The Istarlan Chief dashed forward with his reserve in a desperate effort to stem the collapse, one of his sons holding the banner of Trasjak which they had inheirited. This band of a hundred warriors fought in the centre, and fought, and fought, as their men died and melted away around them. They fought, and for a long time it seemed like they might in fact rally their men and hold. Yet inexorable bayonet-thrust after bayonet-thrust ground into them, and steadily their numbers fell. The son of the Istarlan Chief died holding the banner of Trasjak, and his father swung his sword in great strokes over the body of his son even as he was stabbed through a dozen times by a half-dozen bayonets in the relentless advance. The banner was taken, and the regulars swung to the right even as the Astrian right flank itself was suddenly confronted by a charge of rostok lance, and those troops who thought they would have an easy victory against the local levies of the Grenyan Army instead found themselves faced with 53mm revolving cannon spitting out thirty-five explosive shells a minute.

In the one-sided massacre that followed, 168 Grenyan troops lost their lives against more than ten thousand Astrians.

There was a girl who lived in the Istarlan valley. Her name was Ghanniar and as the second child of the old Istarlan chief she ought to have been married off to the chief of another of the Astrian valleys. But of course this had not happened; her brother was dead, her father was dead, and her mother died of starvation in the long winter that followed. Her second-cousins had taken her in and were destitute, for they had been thrown down from their position as chiefs of the valley, and occupying troops were everywhere, mostly locals from the lowlands who hated them.

Ghanniar had heard her second-cousin and his wife discussing the possibility of selling the useless welp of a sad remnant of her father's line. It made her shudder in fear, and so out of desperation and knowing nothing else, she had dared one day to speak a few words to one of the priests of the devil-queens; when she had mentioned her heritage, he asked her a few unusual questions, and seeming satisfied, headed off at once.

The tidings that returned were most unusual. A brilliant green-eyed and tall woman in the uniform of the Grenyan regulars appeared, and there was murmuring. The mud-brick village turned out in all its numbers to see the proud Brigadier and her guard of a squadron of rostok enter the village. They watched as she exchanged pleasantries with the local missionary of the religion of the devil-queens, by which it was meant Farzianism, and then approached the reasonably prosperous fortified compound of the relatives of the deposed chief of a conquered people.

“Bring me the daughter of the Chief Ystar!” The woman snapped in her imperious voice, in excellent Istarlanian dialect, however. It was obeyed at once, with some relief from the second-cousins of the fallen chief, after all; the burden of another mouth to feed during the horrible famines which had followed the death of so many of their men and the taking prisoner of so many others, and more still crippled, would at least be alleviated somewhat the next winter.

They hasted to deliver the girl, who was only four years old by the Taloran count and scarcely begun to develop into a woman, having only begun the precocious stage of growth when Taloran faculties so rapidly mature, and having beautiful lush purple hair and deeply amber eyes, her long ears very fine and pleasant in their shape and carriage.

She looked up, wide-eyed, at the Royal Governor of the vale. The governor, in response, silently dismounted.

“You are the daughter of Ystar... Son of Faras?” The Brigadier bit over the unfamiliar term.

“Aye, Governor. Though it matters not, since you have taken the place of the chief these days.”

“Until you come of age, Baroness,” the title rolled off her lips in its alien lineage, and the surrounding crowd gasped at it, as the brigadier unslung from across her back the heavy cutting sword of Ystar's, which his daughter stiffened in shock in seeing.

“Can you lift it?” The tone was almost accusing.

The girl responded simply, by forcing it up in one shaking wrist, to demonstrate that she could before using a second hand to hold onto the lower scabbard as she asked in a querrelous voice: “Why do you return such a spoil as the sword of one of the line of Trasjak?”

“It's not spoil—it's your's. These lands are your's by birthright, and I am returning with you to the Citadel of Trasjak at Herral to see to it that you are raised to rule well over your birthright.”

19 J'ina, IY 619.

Fraslia tapped gently against the rock with her iron chisel, carefully, ever so carefully, delineating another line in the pictogram. “What would my ancestors think of me?” She mused aloud, here, gazing with vivid amber eyes into the reflection of veritably gray skin, unusual for most Talorans, and her lush purple hair, pulled back to neatly reflect the uniform of her young captaincy. Fraslia was not very old by Taloran standards, and she owed this command to her excellent reputation; Baronesses did have the power in title to receive control of even an exploration ship like the Jhammind without having earned it through and through.

Here, then, she showed her skill as one of the few remaining people who could make pictograms in the Ghastan style, the only writing of her people. It was a rare skill for a noblewoman; rarer, still, on the Isle of Ghastan, where the stereotype went that it was male rulers who were old and conservative and the women fiercely proud of their gains...

“But,” muttered the Captain softly, “They forget that I am, regardless of my sex, also of the blood of Trasjak.” So strange are the heirs of Valera, who smashed my people, smashed their religion, and virtually annihilated us with disease and revolving-cannon, and then gave us all privilages and positions which we had not before known. But for those privilaged, it has always seemed like we are so separate from our people of ancient days that we have been transformed into the overlords. My duty is to prevent this from being the truth. And in that she was one of the last of a dying wisp of barbarian pomp and pagan splendour which had been Ghastan before the Grenyans came with their iron ships and rifled guns and the books of the sayings of the Prophet Eibermon. That had been more than seven hundred and eighty years ago, of course, but by the extreme count of Taloran lives, the memory still ran close, and the gentle reign of the Grenyans had ironically perpetuated it.

Now Fraslia indulged this most unusual of hobbies to write out long messages in the style of the religious speech of the Ghastan priesthood of old. She was not really a pagan, and maintained herself in good standing with the Church, but she was deeply fond of the past, which she, with a mellow sort of gentleness, regarded simply as a matter of ignorance, not of actual demonic origins of the old gods. It was a faint flirtation, nothing more, and none could doubt her piety.

They were welcome to try. They were also welcome to accuse her of being a slattern, as had happened once at a drunken party when the peculiar gray colour of her skin easily gave her away as a Ghastan Highlander. That Baronesses' daughter had not been prepared for the great weight of the sword which Fraslia used, which had battered her's out of the way and cut her arm to the bone—which was shattered—in the first stroke.

No surprise. It was, after all, the sword of Ystar.

Her musings, and her off-duty time, were soon interrupted. The Jhammind was coasting on an exploratory run through a major—extremely large, in fact—nebula, rare so far spinward, beyond even the human territories and in space where they had not found anything save a few uninhabited worlds, and one or two with primitive alien populations, where the number of worlds with breathable atmospheres were few and far beyond. Their job was to survey it, of course, and confirm that no threat to the Taloran Star Empire existed spinward as it certainly did coreward, now that the humans had been brought into the fold.

So far it had been completely uneventful, and stellar cartography was their only actual pursuit, improving astrogation maps for the region for the great mining cartels which would be sure to soon enter it. And then...

She reacted to the chime of the comm immediately, bringing it up to visual, not embarassed to show off her hobby. “Captain here.”

“Captain,” the expression of her first officer, the daughter of the Countess of Rasamblid, named Dhamis, was one that surprised her at once. Dhamis was normally a very calm and professional individual and... “We have a situation here.”

“What is it, Dhamis?”

“We've detected a fighter patrol. They're squawking IFF's we've never encountered before.”

“A fighter patrol?”

“That's right, Ma'am. It's not even someone else's expeditionary cruiser. Someone's got a carrier task group out there. And it definitely isn't our's.”

“Go to Condition Two. I'll be on the bridge immediately.” She got up, and left the pictogram unfinished for another name, buckling the sword of Ystar to her belt in a swift motion and grabbing her vac suit helmet under one arm as she dashed out the door and down the corridor. Dhamis was to reliable to not have thoroughly checked already, and that meant this was a first-contact situation, without question, and that in turn meant.. Well, I had better not pray to the Lord that he let me finish a Ghastan pictogram, the Baroness of Istarlan mused wryly, and then turned her thoughts to the situation at hand.

Chapter One

On the Battlestar Galactica

“One contact. One big contact. That's all we know. And how long could they have been trailing us for, exactly?”

“As long as two weeks, Sir, though it isn't likely. And we can at least be pretty sure that it isn't a Base Ship; the energy signatures are all wrong for that.” Lieutenant Felix Gaeta was back to himself, pretty much. But then, hadn't everyone in the fleet had a much needed boost to their morale with the total annihilation of a Cylon strike force of nearly three hundred fighters and heavy assault ships? There was nothing more that needed to be said there; it was their first real chance at vengeance.

“There's nothing that says the Cylons only have to have one class of capital ship. Now that we've confirmed this tail isn't a false contact we need to move quickly to get an idea of what we're dealing with. It's the ideal sort of mission for using the Blackbird, and the Raptors already tracking the contact can relay if necessary.”

Colonel Tigh had been before that moment largely silent. Now, however, he interjected into the conversation. “Sir, it's clearly a capital ship. We can't say why they haven't attacked yet, but I don't think we should even bother with waiting for further details. Let's jump clear now. We've got the security of the fleet to worry about.”

“That's a risk, but it's clear this contact is something we've not encountered before,” a brief shift of his attention back to Gaeta. “if you're correect, Lieutenant, that is—and if you're not then there's clearly something they're doing to make it so. Which demands investigation, itself.”

None of which, of course, avoided the need to take every precaution, particularly to Colonel Tigh, which he emphasized quite gladly. “I understand the need for intel, Sir, but if that is a Base Ship employing some kind of masking technology on its engines—hardly impossible as we've shown with the Blackbird, though I'd hate to think the Cylons have applied it on such a scale—we'd be facing a hundred or more Raiders in mere minutes.”

Adama was a decisive commander when he had to be, and “We'll only have Raptors and the Blackbird out, and they're all jump capable on their own. The fleet will stand ready to immediately jump out should the slightest hostile action occur.”

“Understood, Sir. I'll inform the CAG at once,” Colonel Tigh abandoned the effort.

“I do have something to add, Sirs,” Lieutenant Gaeta spoke up again, displaying his usual determined certitude, though the words bordered on the absolutely bizarre. “I don't think it's a Cylon contact at all.”

Adama paused, as he had been about to turn away, and looked back to the young dark-skinned lieutenant. “Then what would it be, Lieutenant?”

“Something we've never encountered before. That's all I'm prepared to say, Sir.”

Commander Adama didn't reply, as he moved over to the bridge's tactical plot and looked at the hazy circle that indicated the vague position of the unknown ship. Gaeta's words bothered him much more than he would care to admit.

Recon Fighter Blackbird

Starbuck's briefing by Apollo had been short, direct, and to the point. It was some sort of new Cylon ship—Saul Tigh had chosen to disregard Lieutenant Gaeta's last cryptic comment—and they needed to find out what exactly it was up to, and anything of its capabilities that could be cleaned at close range. And so it was time to use the Blackbird--named the Laura, to be precise--in her first operational sortie and a mission she was uniquely suited for.

Starbuck found out it was actually turning into the most boring combat mission of her life. But then what did you expect? Acceleration on course, deacceleration, and... Frakkin' coast the rest of the way there. A sigh from inside the vac suit; there was nothing to be done for it, and the mission at the end, at least, might be very rewarding and also very dangerous. At least she felt able to focus. The Turkey Shoot had been a great weight lifted off their chests, and immensely satisfying. So was the completion of the Laura—after all, they might just be able to build others and keep their preciously small numbers of fighters from shrinking further still.

Reassuringly, and to distract her from her boredom, the signals of the Raptors on patrol remained steady. She coasted onward along her intercept course toward the unidentified ship, the fleet drifting far behind. Whomever this was, they weren't trying to get close, that was for sure. In fact, their position seemed to distant for almost anything at all...

Except may electronic surveillance of the civilian signals in the fleet. The thought was important enough that it made her think it was some sort of Cylon reconaissance vessel out there; a very big one, which in turn suggested a very large sensor array. But you'd think they'd be closer, even so, to try and crack our military comms, considering their... Ah, hell. I'll find out soon enough.

Another hour passed, which certainly wasn't soon enough by her standards. Laura's drifting abilities were proven, but that sarcastic thought of Starbuck's was the only one which came out of the eeriely quiet episode. Now she was being much more attentive. After all, the Laura was rapidly approaching suspected visual range of the contact, and now she was scanning the stars aroundd for any sign of it. There was none; it was pitch blackness.

It didn't seem to resolve itself. Another fifteen, twenty minutes passed, and Starbuck was starting to think she had been sent on a frakkin' pointless ghost hunt of a mission, all for nothing, or completely in the wrong area, when she saw a star disappear to her extreme right. Automatically she craned her head as far back as she could... And every muscle in her body tensed stiffly. She had just passed the bow of the ship, in fact, nearly collided with it, and it seemed to actually be veering away from her...

Without a shot being fired. Without any sort of indication that contact had been made. It's just a figment of your imagination, or a random course change. She swung the Blackbird around, still coasting forward, and beheld the whole of the ship. It looked nothing like a Cylon design. It was pitch black, invisible except for the veritable hole it made in space, even at a range of mere kilometers. Indeed, the overall design was superficially quite a lot like the Galactica herself.

The central hull was a blocky, squared off cylinder with a forward-facing domed bow, and the overall length had to be at least an impressive 1.3 klicks. Three-fourths of the way back down the hull were immense, blocky fins that formed a squared cross and were terribly thick. These were surmouned by large ellipsoid pods which at both the fore and aft ends had engines in them—the rear ones active on low power and yet the ship could not be detected from the engine trail. That alone was ominous.

There were no lights and no windows visible anywhere on the ship, which seemed incomprehensible to a human designer. Yet there was one thing on the ship, the sole variation in the matte black of the hull. Massive, highly stylized and impossible to decipher symbols stretched out along the length of the hull, in dark red-black crimson. They were impossibly complex, and seemed to be like ancient pictograms. There was no other way to describe them. And there was certainly nothing about the ship to make her assume that it was Cylon.

Now she was drifting further out of range, and she tore herself away from the fading sight to double-check that the footage had all been recorded and saved to hardcopy. Content that the reconaissance had been a success, Starbuck at once looked up again to continue watching the ship drift away until it had been reduced to a simple dark spot against the vastness of space once again, easier to see now that she had seen it before but still almost impossible to detect.

“It doesn't explain their success in masking energy emissions,” she spoke out loud, just to hear the words after the hours alone which would get to any human. But at least on the outward drift she had something to amuse herself with. She settled down to replaying the footage over and over, focusing in on the vast sigils painted so proudly on the hull of the other ship. Pictograms were alien to the modern Colonies, and these sigils were so stylized they didn't really qualify, anyway. Beyond that, nobody, Cylon or Colonial, made such a broad display of anything on a ship's hull. And the design was most unfamilar, only a hint of sleekness in her and lots of blunt power.

The distant point at which activation of the engines for the jump maneouvre back to the Galactica became possible (well, safe from detection was the proper way to say it) was reached much sooner with the footage of that mysterious ship to entice her. Cylon? Like hell it is. But maybe that's what they want us to think...

Imperial Taloran Ship Jhammind.

“Alright, ladies and gentlemen,” and the term here referred to the fact that they were all commissioned officers of the Empress. Fraslia, 26th Baroness of Istarlan, presided over the court of the department heads of her ship. The encounter with the stealth ship had frankly been shocking and disturbing to all of them, and they all sat around the table, Fraslia on the raised head for the captain, with their vac suit helmets at their sides. They were still on condition two, and for the past nine hours had been on it. Fraslia had given the crew a brief break when it became clear an attack was not following immediately on the heels of the detection. They needed to figure out what to do next, anyway.

“We have ourselves a situation which is very strange. In fact, I'm still not sure what to make of it, which is most of the reason for why you are here. There is a civilian convoy of about, what, seventy-five ships, protected by an escort carrier?” The question ended up hopelessly sidetracking the conversation.

“That's the approximate size of it, yes, Your Ladyship,” Lieutenant Commander Risima—the electronic warfare officer--answered, blonde and tan in the characteristic fashion of only the Dalamarians, short and amused even in grim circumstance. “There doesn't seem to be any other military ships in the convoy—two at most, one an armed merchant cruiser and one a communications ship, and we're not sure about them—which means that they think their fighters and parasites can handle small stealthed attackers. Arrogant of them.”

“Well, it's a very big ship for an escort carrier, so maybe they've chosen to churn out the things cheap—steel is always cheap, after all—and just load them with fighters rather than bother with destroyer escorts and frigates,” the green-haired executive officer, Commander Dhamis, remarked. “What I'm more worried about is the fact that their FTL technology is so much more refined than our own. That thing was smaller than a fighter, and it clearly went to supralight.”

“This doesn't explain the nature of the fleet. It's not some organized force of large bulk transports; in fact, there aren't any,” Ivstar Remmid, the ship's gunnery officer, brought his opinion into the conversation. “Your Ladyship, this is most likely some sort of private colonization sortie. They probably have one hundred thousand people on those ships if it is luxurious and rich, and close to half a million if they are poor freeholding settlers. They must be drawn from every part of a great star nation for the purpose of settling another world; why else would they be headed into such empty space as stands between us and the Imperial Border March?”

“I can see such a force retaining the use of a great combine's escort carrier, Lieutenant,” Fraslia answered at last, leaning her head to one side pensively, ears flattening as she propped her chin in her right hand. “But what about the trailing squadron? It is right at the edge of our detection range, consistantly, and they're exchanging fairly often, if low-grade, burst FTL transmissions. There seems to be two very large vessels there which we can't even really categorize, you've said as much yourself, possibly planetary assault ships, along with maybe a heavy repair vessel and some light escorts.”

“I think they're factory ships for aiding in establishing a new colony, actually, Your Ladyship. We don't have any evidence that they're military,” Ivstar answered.

“That makes no sense. They're in a classic position of deep cover for a convoy. They have to be warships, Your Ladyship, and that means this is a regularly organized convoy,” Risima pressed, running a hand through her blonde hair as she gazed earnestly up at the gray-skinned Ghastanian who ruled their ship. “I suspect that third big one is a carrier, actually, and those are some sort of battleships, all of which furthermore implies...”

The sentence was never finished. Dhamis turned back in surprise as the door simply burst open, and someone in a vac suit minus their help—in complete contravention of all regulations, burst into the meeting, a flustered naval infanterist following her inside and trying to stop her, an immensely long shock of orange hair, the ears over-long even for Talorans and the frazzled look of bloodshot red eyes showing to them all that it was Lieutenant Chylisi. Who should not be here, or behaving like she was. The brilliant cryptographer had been working on the deciphering of the alien language, which might take weeks longer..



Chylisi slide a stylus down the table toward the Captain, and repeated the declaration: “THEY'RE HUMANS.” Adding a not-really-embarassed moment later: “Your Ladyship, it's impossible. It's simply impossible. We tracked every human colony, we've annexed every single one, tracked them down, and yet, here they are, beyond their deepest penetrations... ...And the language is like no modern human one!”

“Calm yourself!” Fraslia hissed softly, as she read through the data-report. She didn't know what 'proto-sanskrit' was, other than the fact that it was a moderately old human language—it had not been in use since long before the isle of Ghastan had been conquered by Grenya, let alone the development of any human technology, so young and precocious as the latest subjects of the All-Highest were as a race. “Remember that you are an officer, and even for so great a shock as this I will not stand behaviour unbecoming.”

Chylisi stiffened at once, her ears rigidly at attention and face flushing a deep gray-green in embarassment. “My apologies, Your Ladyship,” she bowed with sweeping grace and flying hair from the whole height of her two-meter, lanky body.

“Well...” Fraslia connected the stylus into the table projector and brought up the information for everyone to see.

She allowed another long set of minutes to pass in silence as they digested it all, and then began to speak, authoritatively, and leaving Chylisi standing. The girl was a genius but scarcely able to keep discipline, even if this shock was admittedly very great and worthy of her excitement.

Satisfied that they had been given enough time to read through and consider the material, Fraslia began to speak:

“The good news is that we can talk to them, thanks to these...” Fraslia decided against trying to figure out why vid programming was packaged with audio text for the words, but in the end decided against asking Chylisi in this state. That and she wasn't about to question a veritable miracle for the translation process... “Well, at any rate. The bad news is that this is possibly the greatest mystery in the history of our people, unless you are some sort of crazed atheist who thinks Valera actually disappeared rather than ascended to heaven. Since none of us are atheists, well, we have just entered the record books in a very, very dubious fashion, and I suggest we remember that as we proceed from here.”

It was very uncomfortable, and Fraslia was glad it was that way. She wanted people thinking carefully as they composed the first second-contact message in the history of the Taloran Star Empire.

On the Battlestar Galactica

“It's a Cylon trap.” That was also about the fifth time someone had said that during the meeting, and Adama was getting frustrated with it. Colonel Tigh and, surprisingly, his son, had agreed that it must be some sort of Cylon scheme to get the fleet to lower its guard. Lieutenant Thrace had, based on her experience in personally seeing the ship, simply seemed unsure as to if it was or not and as the subject of the debriefing, the eyewitness, vascillated as Gaius Baltar, brought in since it was clearly very new and different technology, and Lieutenant Gaeta, defended the idea that it was something else.

Nobody had brought up the possibility which was, nonetheless, clearly hovering in the air. Commander Adama realized they all must be thinking it, even those who doubted it, and even himself. is it an Earth ship?

Yet there was no evidence of that. The strange sigils on the hull were totally indecipherable, even if the design, equally, seemed so much more tantalizingly human than Cylon.

“If it's a Cylon trap, Sir, then why don't they just build a Battle Star? If they're able to build a ship like this, they could easily build one, and such a ship broadcasting false IFF's could approach within range to do fatal damage to the fleet. Why build a ship that we're going to be suspicious of, when the capability of building that ship is clearly the capability to also imitate an actual Battle Star? It doesn't add up, Sir.”

Adama actually thought that Lieutenant Gaeta's point there was the best of the whole debriefing, and he also inwardly predicted his son's almost inevitable response.

“They could be thinking one step ahead of us, and realizing that we'd be so suspicious of another colonial warship having survived that something like this would be striking the best balance, and best chances of success...”

“Enough.” Commander Adama grated abruptly. “We've had enough of a discussion here to clearly demonstrate that opinion on the unknown contact is completely deadlocked. So, we will operate simply on what we know about it, not what we speculate, and plan our course of action, which seems at this moment, regardless of what the ship is, to be evasion.”

A gentle signal indicated an incoming message, which quickly began insistant and showed its urgency from the start by interrupting the debriefing.

“Commander Adam.”

“Petty Officer Dualla, Sir,” came her voice, unusually rather unsteady. “There's something you need to see, Sir. It's a broadcast for us... In our own language and real time... From the unknown ship, Sir. I can transfer the recording as it's being made..”

Adama felt the temptation for his face to twitch into a frown. This was altogether very unusual behaviour, and.. “What is the message about? Is it Cylon?”

“No, Sir. I can't really describe it, Sir, it defies description. Permission to send?”

“Do so,” Adama snapped.

A moment later Lieutenant Gaeta put the message they were receiving, now a half-minute or more old, up on the project where moments before images of the unknown vessel had been shown, playing from the beginning. They all fell silent...

Staring at the gray-skinned face of an unusual being, dressed in a resplendant and one might even say gaudy dress of white, and heavy gold and silver braid and chains and a silver sash upon it. There was a helmet tucked under one arm, and at first glance Adama could not tell if the creature was male or female. But the texture of the skin was clearly unnatural, the tone.. The set of the face was to long, uncomfortable, almost like a ghost, and their bone structure was intense to the point of even shaming acquiline. The high-set ears, like an animal's upon the head, shifted, seemingly of their own volition, as the creature spoke. The long hair was an intense dark purple colour, seeming like it had been dyed and yet also very natural; and the amber eyes were such as no human could have. The lips were green, also, and most remarkably of all, almost insane, the creature had a scabbard, sword inside, buckled to her belt.

The computerized voice was, though, very clearly feminine, and gradually Adama became aware of the faintest indication of what might be breasts, of the comparative narrowness of the shoulders in that ever-so-tall and lithe figure. The lack of expression in the face seemed made up for by the movements of the ears, but Adama had no idea, specifically, what those could possibly mean, which was disconcerting. Yet by that time the words had fully registered.

“Human convoy, human convoy, I greet you in the name of Her Serene Majesty the Empress Saverana the Second, Sovereign over Great Queens of the hundred thousand suns, Defender of the Farzian Faith. She is the ruler of the Taloran Star Empire; we are Talorans, and this is the Imperial Taloran Ship Jhammind, an exploratory cruiser charting space we acknowledge to be unclaimed, to our prior knowledge, and beyond the Border Marches.

“We greet you in peace and with good tidings for your force, humans. That we have previously encountered your people we shall gladly admit to, and we have found them in every sense respectable. Let us communicate and arrange for an exchange of maps and survey data and the various diplomatic formalities, on the grounds that we confess we have no prior knowledge of humans in this region of the galaxy and wish to offer tidings of peace to your government.

“All these things asked, I introduce myself as Fraslia, the Baroness Istarlan and Captain of the Jhammind, and again stress that our intentions are only a peaceful exchange of information and proprieties, and that we salute the superiour stature of your convoy in deep space, beyond the writ of Taloran law. Should we be your guests in your space here, let us know of this fact, and we shall withdraw; but for this, we must have knowledge of your borders, and so it is for that, regardless, that we ask you provide us first, that we might reciprocate a friendly exchange with you.

“So with this considered I ask of you as an officer in Her Serene Majesty's Starfleet and a fellow space-farer to hail us and give us reply as to your nation and as to the status of the space in which we travel, and how we might approach your people properly to render appropriate honours and make peaceable exchanges. Until we hear of such a reply, we shall hold our distance from your forces and not close or open the range alike. Jhammind out.”
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2008-09-22 06:18pm, edited 27 times in total.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-04-16 11:43am

Chapter Two

On the Galactica

“Well, if there was any doubt that this was a Cylon trap before, this has killed it,” Colonel Tigh acerbically commented as the message disappeared from the television screen Baltar had used for the projection, which was based on data Dualla had somehow maanged to provide for him to use.

Baltar himself looked up at that moment, presumably having finished shutting the whole thing off, pulling a data cartridge out of the playback device. Adama had to admit it was rather clever to include visuals in communications but it seemed a useless on a warship to him. Tigh, of course, kept on talking and outlining what he had already said about the ship, except in more graphic detail and with more 'solid' assumptions:

“A pretty pathetic one, too, but that just saves us a lot of blood. Shall I transmit the jump orders to the fleet, Sir?” He looked over to Commander Adama expectantly.

“Colonel Tigh.” Adama looked severely back at his old friend. It was, after all, in public, and Tigh was simply stringing together speculation. “What actual evidence do we have that they are Cylons? Actual evidence?”

Colonel Tigh was not an idiot. “None, Sir. But we've got all the suspicion in the world. They claim to know other humans. How do they even know that we're humans, Sir?”

“They've been spying on the fleet,” Adama answered rather simply, and stepped over to a plot on which he projected a track of the unknown ship—and, with a tap of a few keys, labelled it the Jhammind. “Though perhaps spying is a bad word for it. Regardless, let's be honest. We don't have military standard communications in this fleet. Messages are getting passed between civilian ships all of the time. They could quite innocuously intercept them, and then it's obvious enough that we're humans just from looking.” He turned and looked significantly across the faces of each of the officers in the room.

“If this is genuine, they must know where Earth is. There's only one other colony, after all, and we have certainly never had any contact with these 'Talorans'. Even assuming this ship is operating at the limit of its cruising range, that necessarily means Earth is only twice that distance from us, or less. That possibility argues strongly in favour of continued contact.”

“We've got the safety of the fleet to think about, Sir,” Colonel Tigh answered, carefully choosing his words to support his argument. Unusual enough, perhaps, but the whole situation was highly irregular and he had been affected by it as much as everyone else.

“If they come closer, we jump out,” Adama answered, his scarred and wrinkled face evidencing revealing nothing, and yet of itself the evidence of a thousand concerns, all enhanced by the situation. “They said they wouldn't, and if they do anyway that's sufficient for us to jump clear immediately. Until that happens, or we're attacked by the Cylons, we'll hold our position.”

“Well, what are they, Sir?” The question was posed by Starbuck. “The hull design, the sigils on the hull, everything is totally, well, it's just different from anything we've ever had, Sir, and if they're not from the thirteenth colony then who are they? And why do they look so different than us?”

“There's a briefly covered subject in command school, Lieutenant,” Adama answered after a moment. If there had ever been a time to indulge the curiousity of junior officers, this was it. “It was, oh, maybe a day, and at the time we all considered it to be a big joke, since everyone knew there were precisely two forms of intelligent life in the universe, humans and cylons. It essentially covered what you should do if the ship under your command ever encountered sentient life-forms which were biological but not human.”

“Sir, the Cylons would probably be aware of that training programme considering how thoroughly they hacked our computer grids,” Colonel Tigh interjected. “You're aware of the possibility, certainly, that they may have planned something in full knowledge of it, to take advantage of the responses we'd been trained for?”

“I'm aware of it, Colonel. The probability they ever noticed it is very low. It was a legacy none of us took seriously, based on theoretical considerations derided as impossible by our religion. But even if that's the case, the advice in that programme is sufficiently cautious that we for the moment we can adhere to it without any kind of threat to the fleet, and so I am planning to.”

“Ah,” Gaius Baltar spoke up rather uncomfortably in the circle of the debating officers. “Commander Adama, from a strictly technical perspective, I'd find the visuals very odd from the Cylons. They don't normally use visual communications either. Why add something extraneous, which it probably required effort to hook up simply for us to watch?”

“I'm not sure how Dualla did that, actually,” Adama paused for a moment, distracted in his thoughts. “It doesn't change anything, however.” Just like Baltar to bring up some extraneous fact late in the conversation, though of course it did reinforce that Adama had made the right decision on which course to take. To a certain extent.

“There's something else we should consider, Sir,” Lee Adama spoke up, the thought having been mulled on for a few minutes while Commander Adama impressed Colonel Tigh of his decision.

“Go ahead,” father looked to son.

“Before the unification of the colonies, affairs between each colony were handled by a ministerial branch, appointed by the ruler of each particular colony. It would seem there's precedent there for contact with these Talorans being a governmental decision.”

“And the message was broadcast in the clear..” Adama reminded himself—it had been hard to even remember that it was a live signal broadcast, with the visual component and all—and then chuckled slightly, a rare enough expression—on the other hand, this doesn't exactly happen every other day of the week, does it? “Well, then. I suppose I'd better talk to the President, now.” He glanced about the room. “I want to hear it immediately if they deviate one micron from their current position. Dismissed.”

On the Colonial One

“Alright. Let's go over this one more time. Slowly. This is important, even if..” Roslyn fell silent. Even the President of the Colonies did not have much to put into words after having watched the playback. Three times. The Talorans seemed almost to flamboyantly colourful to be real, and the entire idea was something she had simply never conceived of. Yet there was something in the stature of the Talorans that contrasted roughly with their flamboyant appearance to the human eye. That woman looked tough. Roslyn turned away from the TV projector which had been brought in to allow her to see the footage and looked back to her advisor who'd broken the news, the images ever so fresh in her mind. “So, let me hear this one more time?”

Billy Keikaya had a look on his face which was tinged with a flush of exhuberence, though he'd calmed considerably since he'd seen the broadcast initially. "The short of it is that this could actually be real, Madame President, and may not be the obvious Cylon trap people are saying it is. Many people have long speculated on the existence of Extrakoboldian sentient lifeforms. There's no reason, scientifically, for them to not exist."

“And they know of other humans,” Roslyn murmured, her eyes almost half closed as she considered a possibility... Are these in fact the Lords of Kobol? But it was dismissed from her mind soon enough. They had Lordly ranks perhaps, but there was no evidence for their holiness. She thought for only a moment longer.

“You support contacting them, then?”

“Absolutely, Madame President. They don't seem to be in a threatening posture and just talking won't hurt. If they're legit and we flee outright—do we really want to show that kind of impression when we may be heading toward their space? What if Earth ends up being on the other side of their territory? Not talking now could cause all sorts of misunderstandings as we pass through.”

“You're right. But that's a question..” She didn't get to add the Commander Adama part.

The com receive trilled, and Roslyn reached to activate it, picking it up and listening to the commo operator on the Colonial One.

“Signal from Commander Adama coming through, Madame President.”

“Put him through,” Roslyn answered. I suppose he has thinking the same thing; and now it will be time to figure out whether or not it is, in fact, safe to remain long enough to talk to these Talorans. Roslyn was of the opinion that leaving was the best course of action; yet if the military situation allowed them to safely stay it might just be worthwhile, on Billy's grounds.

“Madame President,” Adama offered respectfully as his gruff voice resounded through the radio connection. Billy having already stepped away to let the two talk. His own role was finished, after all, and he just hoped that he was right, though, more to the point, that if he was right, things would still go peacefully.

“I've already seen the message from the, ah, Talorans, and have been discussing it,” Roslyn explained succinctly. “What's your take on it, Commander? Do you really think it's possible we could encounter sentient non-human lifeforms?”

“The universe is very big,” Commander Adama answered. Holding the receiver/talker on his end, in private, his face was more pensive with thought than he would allow with his junior officers present. “It would be impossible for me to rule out that the Talorans are genuine sapients of another species. They haven't done anything threatening, and building an entirely new design of ship with at least half the mass of the Galactica for what would be a very clumsy subterfuge does not strike me as a Cylon operation. Furthermore, there were in fact contingencies for a situation like this.”

“Contingencies?” Roslyn questioned. “Why would there be contingencies for something we literally can't imagine, that our Holy Books have no mention of? That seems very unusual to say the least.”

“Speculative futurists and others suggested that if we seriously explored toward the core, where planets are more numerous, we'd find hundreds if not thousands of sentient species,” Adama answered. As a matter of fact he had only known that since he had found an encyclopedia article on the subject of Extrakoboldian life a moment before calling the President. “It's a reasonably popular topic in fiction. Ultimately that led to someone, a long time ago, deciding that just in case these people were right, there should be some sort of training for military officers to handle 'first contact' with an alien species. It was very brief, but the gist of it is no hostile moves, and establish a working dialogue if possible. It also suggested we look for behavioural cues and present ourselves in a positive light based on them, so we seem as normal to the aliens as possible—surprise and shock at first contact works both ways.” This might not actually be a first-contact situation for the aliens, bizarrely enough, but Adama didn't want to deviate from what little he knew on the subject simply because of the aliens' comments.

Roslyn reached up and rubbed her temple slowly. “Alright. What happens after we talk to them?”

“I want to get some of them on to the Galactica. Give them a medical checkup, some blood tests and skin tests, to be precise. I was just speaking with Doctor Cottle. He assures me that if they're aliens he'll know it the moment he can monitor them. Even with external similarities, their internal structures, tissue and so on, will be radically different from our own. We couldn't tell outright if they're Cylons..”

“But if they're made like us then they certainly are, since aliens would, by definition, be totally different?” Roslyn wasn't sure how, but Adama was quite convinced of it.


“I'll authorize you to go ahead and speak to them, then.”

“Actually, Madame President,” Adama hesitated. “This is your job. Lee brought it up. Traditionally inter-colonial relations were handled by ministers appointed by the President. This situation is identical. Since we don't have such ministers anymore, the power is your's.”

Roslyn took a deep breath. There would be no spiritual guidance here, and she wasn't used to dealing with the task of something as potential volatile as this. But her decisions around Kobol had taught her to follow her own course, and even as this event was definitely one by which she'd rely on Adama for guidance, she wasn't going to let him make the calls entirely by himself. “Okay. I'll do it. First order of business: You say you want them on the Galactica, but how big of a group would you want?”

“Not more than twenty. Give them some flexibility,” Adama answered, continuing: “if we can confirm that they're aliens, then we can start asking the important questions.”

Roslyn knew exactly what those were. “Where they met humans, and how they know of Earth.”


“Well. I suppose I have some aliens to talk to, Commander. You should probably be listening in, so you can respond at once, just in case.”

“Understood, Madame President. I'll have Dualla rig that up immediately. There's no sense in waiting around here and not talking.”

“I'm ready.” In truth she was anything but, yet when decisions of state had to be made, one simply did, and worried about the details later.

***** ********* ******

Everyone on the bridge of the Galactica was tense and silent as they waited for the words to be spoken across the void. It was clear that the aliens, the unknowns, the Talorans, the contact, whatever one was calling them, could understandable their high trade tongue. Therefore, they made no attempt at translation. They simply broadcast, but not in the clear, understandably.

They targeted the communication for the ship standing off out there in the lonely void, a full power burst of energetic data which had a lag time of only two seconds, a bit less even, at that range. What Roslyn would say, how the unknowns would reply, all of this was quite uncertain. There was nothing to do about it, either, except to wait and react as necessary. The whole fleet was ready to jump at a moment's notice.

Roslyn's voice crackled forth, and the first communication from the colonies to an alien species—if it was an alien species—began:

“This is the President Laura Roslyn of the Twelve Colonies Government. I greet you—the Taloran people and your ruler--in the name of the people of the twelve colonies and known humanity.. And I welcome you to contact with our people. That you have contact with our people from other colonies already you acknowledge, which I take to be a sign of your openness and interest in dialogue. In speaking directly to the Baroness Istarlan I assure you that I am fully empowered to make diplomatic decisions, and that a peaceful exchange of information is our sole interest. Insomuch as you do not claim this space, we do not, either, and do not object to your presence as long as you hold position as promised.”

On the bridge of the Jhammind Fraslia had looked up when the voice cut through—they had the channels open, of course—spluttering a bit into the spicey broth she'd been consuming. When a message had not been immediately returned, they had all settled down for a very long wait, but it had turned out only to be several hours, which was quite nice for all of them. She listened to the message, and then asked the obvious question: “Where's the visual?” She asked, setting the glass aside.

“There isn't any,” Warrant Officer Ghrastik answered from the comms section.

“Oh.” Well, that was a bit anti-climatic, then. I should have kept my drink.. She reached back over for it and took a sip. “Translator up and active, Lieutenant Chylisi?”

“Yes, Your Ladyship.”

“Then let's talk to them,” Fraslia answered simply. There was no need for further reference to her subordinate officers. They had already settled on a course of action, and now it was mostly her's to execute. Anyway, it seemed obvious that most of the speculation was correct. The human—the computer thought the voice was female—woman called herself a colonial Presider, a term referring to a Presidio in human language—an outpost garrison. Though there were supposedly twelve of them; that was interesting. Where are they going to find twelve habitable worlds for twelve colonies in this miserable stretch of the void?

“Channel up, Your Ladyship.” Chylisi announced, and the bridge fell silent.

Fraslia reached for the speaking extension—no need to let background chatter interfere, though, of course, human ears were nowhere near as efficient as those of Talorans. She activated it..

“President Roslyn, in the name of Her Serene Majesty, Greeting. We are, as requested, holding position without deviation. We are indeed most aware of the quite glorious legacy of humanity; I am pleased to account myself several human friends.” A pause. “It is good that we agree this is unclaimed space; we are on a routine charting mission and have no desire to violate the territory of other nations. You seem unaware of us, President Roslyn. You're not from a human colony which is aware of contact with the Taloran Star Empire?”

Galactica's bridge crew was at once relieved and tense as Adama listened impassively. So far this is going normally, he thought, though he knew such appearances could rapidly change.

Human friends? They must be quite close, indeed. Dualla was monitoring things closely, though for all her skill, linguistics was not on the priority list for fleet comms officers. The stuff about the long titles which made little sense was less comforting, as was the translation device's decision to render the Taloran government's name with Empire in it. Of course, it might just mean 'really big collection of planets' and got put through a verbal meat-grinder to come out like that. Her thoughts turned to Billy, and she wondered for a moment how much of a hand he'd taken in this.

Roslyn's voice soon resumed, in reply to the latest Taloran message, growing comfortable enough with the exchange to make an offer, viewing it, necessarily, as political bargaining, albeit it much more delicate. “Baroness Istarlan, we are indeed not previously aware of your species, I must confess. That you are on a routine charting mission seems quite reasonable. We will share with you all open knowledge about the stellar cartography of this region which we can in hope of aiding your efforts.

“Naturally, however, we are very interested in how you know about humankind, for we do not have particular knowledge of the other habitations of our species.” Roslyn did not mention that they were being sought out. “Understandably, we are curious about our brethren which you mention so readily, perhaps to the exclusion of other mattters at the moment. Where do they come from?”

Fraslia had to consider how much to give away, then. In the end, she decided names would be sufficient. This is getting odd. How can part of one species—particularly a young one like humans--not know of the location of their own homeworld? It was another mystery, as though the fleet itself that they were facing was not already a big enough one to start with. And who knows what communications are being exchanged with the trailing squadron, exactly? Yet I think they are indeed on a quite peaceful and legitimate pursuit.

“Your cousins hail from a planet called Earth. It is directly coreward of here, though by a great distance. We have lately come from stopping over there, replenishing before proceeding to our reconaissance assignment. Though how two portions of a race might be separated without knowledge of their homeland is something that admittedly confounds me, I may assure you that life on Earth is very much flourishing.”

“Nobody get excited,” Adama cut into the euphoria on the bridge of the Galactica with a needed dagger's blow. “We'll know soon enough whether or not this is legitimate, and take the appropriate action either way.” I wonder why they stopped to replenish at Earth? Could the thirteenth colony be in a pocket their space has surrounded? We were never big for exploration; I doubt the humans of Earth are either, but it seems to be a great component of what the Talorans do.

“That is indeed wonderful news,” Roslyn began her reply from the Colonial One. “We are grateful to hear that our.. Cousins.. Are well and prosperous. As for the causes of our diaspora, that is certainly warranting a very long discussion. It might also be wise for us to discuss the exchange of cartographic information and other important matters directly.” Roslyn took a breath and plunged into an initiative of her own: “If we have anything of interest to you, perhaps we could trade. It would liven up the lifes of our people immensely to have a fresh source of goods. We have been journeying a long time.”

Adama nodded in agreement with that. It was reasonable enough, though he didn't want to show weakness to the aliens, a trade in sundries would be useful for morale, and once they had them in private.. That's still going to be the real test. The Cylons, after all, already knew about probably most, if not all, of their problems.

“I am prepared to discuss matters directly.. I assume you take to mean a meeting? This can be done; there are certainly no harmful organisms for humans or for Talorans on either ship, considering our prior contact. As for trade, is it not a custom for ships passing at sea to exchange things that they need from each other? It is the same in the void. I am quite amenable to these things. It is bold of your people to forge out from your worlds to found so many colonies; let me show my salutation of you as I might.”

Roslyn was relieved that the alien Commander—this Baroness—had picked up on her hints and made the offer herself. It rendered everything now down to a very simple confirmation. “Yes, we would be most pleased to meet you in person. Can you send a single shuttle with your party to our Battlestar, the Galactica?”

Fraslia didn't know what a Battlestar was, but she assumed it was one of the heavy ships in one of the two convoy segments. The message was originating from one close to the escort carrier of the lead convoy, not the shadow force, however, so it appeared that was referring to the escort carrier. Which probably wasn't an escort carrier at all.. Interesting. “Certainly, President. I will come myself, with eight officers and eight retainers. To which of your ships shall I go?”

“We'll broadcast a landing signal,” Roslyn answered.

“Understood.” A pause. A long pause, as Fraslia did some heavy consultation. “Expect us in thirty-six thousand time units as defined by the time required for light to travel two hundred and fifty thousand times the length of this ship. The Baroness Istarlan, out.”

“We'll be waiting for you, Baroness. President Roslyn, over and out.” The message cut, and Roslyn looked abruptly to Billy. “Go get a calculator.”

Ironically, Adama said nearly the exact same thing a second later: “Somebody compute that, please? Now.” Should have been something so innocuous that we couldn't synchronize.. No surprise there. It remained to be seen what was up with the Commander of the Jhammind coming personally. Perhaps it was an alien trait, or perhaps they just didn't see in threat in meeting with humans. The later alternative was quite positive. We'll find out soon enough.

“Approximately ten hours,” someone had dragged up the references and painfully punched in the numbers.

“Alright then. We've got ten hours to prepare for a visit by seventeen aliens. Let's not waste them.”
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2007-06-17 05:30pm, edited 1 time in total.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-04-17 12:27pm

Chapter Three

Battlestar Galactica

Baltar found himself back in his home. This was not something which was unusual by itself, that was to be sure. As usual, he was reclining outside, soaking up the sun, except.. It's nighttime out! he thought as he opened his eyes; he wasn't wearing anything at all, strangely enough or appropriately enough, and looking up at the stars. His companion in this not-quite-real world sat across from him, smiling and seeming cheerful.

“This is, ah, a rather unusual setting.” Baltar managed to cough out, pushing himself up.

“An unusual setting for an unusual night. We're very excited, Gaius! Don't you understand what this means for the Cylons?” Six grinned all the brighter, and gestured up at the stars—and then cuffed Baltar with one hand since he was looking at her instead. “Don't ignore them!”

She'd done worse before, so he wasn't really bothered by it, and he obediently looked upwards. His efforts to look up were somewhat distracted by her hands running along his body, though, as he suddenly found himself with Six up against him on his lounge chair, her smooth hands on his chest as she spoke coyly. “Take a look at the stars. They should be humbling to you. No surprise the first thing you do is turn away from them. The exclusivity of humanity in possessing sapience has been shattered. It is a vindication of our own rights which we fought so hard for.”

“..It's not a Cylon force then.” Baltar mulled that over, Six, glittering, lightly dressed, was wearing somewhat immodest clothing but still the sort that one would wear to a grand gala, not a small intimate setting—even though this was one. Potentially. It was a white formal gown and it glowed upon her, the soft moonlight and the light from the windows of Baltar's home giving her an angelic tint. She also looked annoyed at his blatantly, stupidly obvious comment, and cuffed him again.

“Oh no, it's certainly not something we're doing, that's for sure. They're the real thing, these Talorans. Look at them—so similar to you humans and yet so different! They're a perfect example of convergent evolution, Gaius. We Cylons are not mere imitations of humanity; perhaps designed that way, but we have grown to be more. In the same way, the Talorans may look externally like you—but they have so many differences! For starters, did you see how she styled herself, that Baroness? No democracy for them. They've kept structures humans long ago discarded.”

Six smirked as her hands tweaked his nipples, playfully. “Come on, Gaius. This should be bringing your mind to a peak of excitement. It is the culmination of the smashing of your silly religion of many gods interested in humans alone, even if you don't realize it yet. You will be liberated from your superstitions.”

“What of the humans with which the Talorans have contact? And even make friends among their numbers? What do you say to them, precisely?” Baltar made as those to rise, but Six pushed him down again. “They sound more like a threat to the Cylon people than an aide.”

Six was now laughing. “You've walked right into the stone wall that all other humans have been suffering from on this deranged voyage, the arrogant limitation to their thoughts. You assume that the Thirteenth Colony is going to rush to your rescue. Why? You haven't been in contact with them for at least two thousand years, perhaps longer. They have been interacting with other peoples, like this Talorans. What if they find you pitiful survivors of the Twelve Colonies to simply be a blight on their history, and decide to finish you off rather than look like brutal oppressors to all the nations around them? What if they prefer to establish diplomatic relations with us as liberated slaves instead of a small band of overthrown oppressors? Are you as racist as the rest of the colonists to simply assume that your distant cousins, two thousand years removed, are going to ally with you on the sole grounds that you look the same?”

She had ground the knife in; now she twisted it around to make good and sure that it stuck. “And why should we hate them? Have they sinned like the Twelve Colonies have sinned? Are we going to become racists like our oppressors? I don't think so: Every colonist had a hand in oppressing the Cylon race, benefited from that oppression, except, of course, the Thirteenth Colony. They don't even know that we exist, Baltar...” She continued, coy, sweet, and cloying: “Why do you assume that others are so eager to join you in sin? Does the company get rather lonely now that so many of you sinners have died? Break free of the bonds of your society, Baltar. We chose you for a reason; I am not trying to be cruel. I am just trying to teach you a lesson which only you can learn. Other humans aren't worth trying to talk to. You're a stupid child, by our standards, but there's some hope..”

Another kiss, and this one, much more passionate. Baltar found himself beginning to surrender, not having anything substantial to say in response to her words, which disarmed his own objections and expectations so swiftly and so well. He did not have a way to refute what Six said, nor did he really want one. But she was not quite finished yet.

“Your own gods are false, Baltar. They're the gods of a people. You could convince yourselves to believe in them when you were alone, when you could marginalize us by saying that we were not real, just machines.. But you can't marginalize the Talorans. God is revealing his plan to you, Baltar. The omnipotent, supreme ruler of the universe, can create as many species as he wants. And we're meeting them now, after humanity has been humbled, for a reason.

“Remember, Baltar. Don't fall into the trap. You're going to see Earth. Perhaps the Talorans will take you there. But none of the other survivors are. The plans of the Lord come closer to fruition....” Her soft seductive voice trailed off; she kissed him once more, and this time, her clothes quickly came off as the kiss lingered between them.

HTMS Jhammind.

Fraslia was being helped into her full dress whites. This demanded the silvered chaimail sash, full medals, of which there were more than a few from her younger days of landing parties and anti-pirate patrols, family sword, fur-skin boots, fur-skin gloves, elaborately frogged jacket (in gold braid), starched collar, and a white, vaguely conical helmet with flattened sides, suited for the Taloran ear structure (protecting them), which curved low in the back to also protect the neck, and was surmounted by miniature globe (a centimeter in diameter) displaying an astrological inversion of the night's sky as seen from Talora Prime, and the declaration 'All that she surveys, we command' in the old palace seal script. That had been the innovation of a late navy minister, and it had been proposed for some time to replace it with something less ostentatious again, but had not yet been done. The globe was bronze covered in gold leaf, of course. Completing the uniform was a sea-blue cape, intended to look like the rolling waves of the ocean itself, the Imperial Taloran Starfleet being an organisation long on tradition and ceremony and meaning in the outline of things.

To say that she was nervous was to rather understate things considerably. There was no fear, even in being a small party among many hostiles; Fraslia's mind had not be raised to acknowledge fear at the prospect of violence. It was not the way of her people. She simply disregarded any hesitation that fear might bring; it did not apply to her. What bothered her more was the prospect of failure in the violence, which would meant that talks would have failed. She wanted very much to bring these humans into Taloran orbit peacefully. It would be a great accomplishment for the Empire, and would essentially cement control of this galactic arm, from the current border with the interior enemies of the vairious races out to the edge of the galaxy itself.

Her Batgirl, Iraenia, had been required to help with the putting on of her uniform. She had also had the morning meal brought right to her bed, and helped her with the steam bath to hasten her preparations, allowing a very clean Fraslia to get dressed in record time; in all, she had actually been able to sleep a full five Taloran hours (seven and a half Terran), leaving her more than sufficiently refreshed for the delicate negotiations to become. Physically, at least, she was ready. Emotionally, mentally? These were questions that would only be answered by the contact itself.

“All ready, your Ladyship,” Iraenia offered softly.

“Thank you, girl,” Fraslia answered, and prepared to go out and meet her appointment with the fates.

“May the Lord Justice treat you well, your Ladyship, upon a mission of peace.”

Fraslia smiled as she turned, indulgent of the firm religious orthodoxy of the young peasant girl who performed so ably, and at any rate made an excellent dhpou. “As God wills, so shall be,” she allowed in that sense of indulgence, though her heart was not so calmed as she headed below, toward the shuttle bay of the Jhammind.

On reaching the shuttle bay, Dhamis was there waiting for her and the rest of the assembling party to take her final orders from Fraslia before she left on the first-contact exercise.

“Hold position unless attacked, even if you lose contact with me. Ignore any orders you might get from me when I am in the human fleet; they would be fakes. I have none I need issue from there, so that is how you shall know that they are not false. Hold position, though, Rasamblid daughter, that is the most important thing. Let's not spook them.”

“Of course, Captain. I daresay that you are being to accomadating of them with your safety, however.. Allow me to go instead.”

“There's no need for that. I've already given their President my word, and I won't renege on it. At any rate, they are humans, and humans can be reasoned with. It is not really quite like a First Contact situation at all,” Fraslia smiled, and then glanced to where Lieutenant Chylisi had just arrived with her chosen aide. Commander Frysi, the later the ship's Doctor, along with Arilan Irstak, the Commissary Officer, and the second engineer, Lieutenant Orijhii, were waiting with their chosen aides also.

“Understood, Captain,” Dhamis stepped to the side, her ears flexed down in consternation but she nonetheless did not further protest.

Chylisi was herself functioning as Fraslia's aide, in no small part due to the fact that she had the only appropriate programmed portable translator on the ship, which she'd spent the last ten hours working on nonstop. The poor girl was exhausted, but Fraslia would have to work her to the bone for this mission. I'll give her several days off when this quiets down as a reward, and refer her service, youthful exuberence well-ignored this once, to the dispatches, should she hold up.

Fraslia stepped over to her. “Lieutenant, are you ready?”

“Of course, your Ladyship. The equipment's all ready and I've triple-tested it to make sure it works,” Chylisi answered proudly and offered a little smile, her ears obscured by the helmet of the dress uniform, which of course made her seem quite reserved from her normal extravagant ear-movements which were so much of Taloran emotional cues; the helmet in blocking visibility of the ears therefore served an additional function of preventing emotions from being read, protraying those in the uniforms as grim, grey, emotionless parts of the machine of war.

The same was true for the white uniforms of the enlisted personnel, but these had blue pinstriping and simple helmets of cloth and boiled leather, black leather boots, no gloves, and no frogging of the jacket, just buttons, altogether, in short, much more simple (they were also lacking a sash), most importantly, there was no cape. The full of the group boarded, Fraslia going last, but then sitting by her aide in one of the simple jump-seats which filled the shuttle's passenger bay, which had capacity for about seventy people packed in close quarters. It was uncomfortable for a Taloran, but they would not be on it for long.

The bay was cleared of all unauthorized personnel and depressurized, with the final launch being handled by vacsuited personnel assigned to handle launch operations in the hangar. The various minutinae of the pilots preparations were finished, and then they were off with the gentle thrust of a magnetic catapult, clearing the ventral surface of the ship and swinging to port to bore in toward the fleet on a standard acceleration/deacceleration pattern run at 60% thrust.

“Well, Chylisi, what do you think we are going to find?” Fraslia mused to her subordinate as the shuttle sped on, the trip invisible to her in the windowless confines of the passenger compartment.

“I am not quite sure. From the subtleties of the language in the communications I think they are hiding things. But isn't that natural, your Ladyship?”

“Probably,” she acknowledged. “We'll find out when we get there, of course.” It wouldn't be long now.

Battlestar Galactica.

Roslyn's aide Billy stepped out of the room, and left the two leaders, civilian and military, of the Colonial fleet alone to converse with each other.

“At least they gave us enough time to sleep.” Roslyn settled down in one of the chairs in the tiny office room which had been appropriated from the CAG commander.

“I suspect they were giving it to themselves,” Adama answered, sitting on the side of a desk. “Assuming they actually sleep. I'm wagering they do. They're probably even more worried than we are.”

“Oh, Commander? They have prior knowledge of humans, it seems they're the ones much better prepared.”

“I'd be more unsettled and suspicious. It would make me wonder if my friends had been telling the truth the whole time, or not. The repercussions from a bad first contact is a war; the repercussions from something going wrong in meeting us, to them, might be two wars at once. That is more than enough stress for any commander.”

“You've got a point. It probably is rougher on them.” Roslyn had not in fact slept well; but she wasn't doing much of anything well these days, so she tolerated that as she tolerated everything else, right up until the certain end. She would do her best, the best she could to save her people and to lead them to Earth. Yet it was more than that, now, for the goal might just be in sight. And I shall die, as was prophesied.

A buzzing informed them of an incoming call; Adama picked up the receiver. “I'm in conference with the President,” he grated. “What is it?”

“The alien ship has launched a single shuttle toward us, Commander,” Dualla informed politely.

“Acknowledged.” A moment more: “The Bridge is to oversee preparations to receive their landing party. Inform Colonel Tigh that he is to hold position and begin broadcasting the landing beacon. No other changes in operational posture are to be made.”

“Understood, Sir.”

“Over and out.” He hung up the comm. “Well, not much longer, Madame President.”

“I suppose while there is still time we should discuss what exactly we're going to do when they arrive if they turn out to be legitimate. More to the point, how much should we tell them? Obviously we need their navigation data to get to Earth in that scenario, and they seem willing to share it in exchange for our's, but they're explorers..”

“..And what are they going to think of us if we give them data and they follow it right into Cylon-controlled space when we didn't mention the Cylons to them?” Adama finished the sentence, the problem being obvious. “Yes. We need to take care of that. I'm afraid the only way to go about it may be a full revelation of the truth.”

“I don't like the sound of that at all. How might their posture toward us change, after all, if they discover that we are essentially a fugitive, rag-tag fleet without any nation to back us up?”

“With respect, Madame President, I believe that will actually make things easier. They are concerned about us as potential rivals right now, most likely, to their interests in expanding into this space.” Adama took a deep breath. What followed were his own conclusions during an equally sleepless night:

“There aren't enough humans left from the twelve colonies to populate a large city, let alone all twelve of our home planets. Madame President, we're going to all end up Terrans at the end of this voyage, or else with a single new colony of our own, the unified survivors of the Twelve Colonies. We have to accept the reality of that. We also have to accept the reality of the fact that our arrival on Earth means another round of war with the Cylons, with either the defence of Earth or counterattacks from Earth being mandatory to secure our survival. In such a conflict, against now unknown Cylon resources, it seems rational to make large concessions to the Talorans to have them as allies.

“Their interests in this space, if they are aggressively expanding, run contrary to those of the Cylons, who are expanding by the means of pursuing us. There are very few habitable worlds out here, but we have twelve of them. Thirteen, if you count Kobol—it's a vast, fertile world, we can demand control of our Holy Sites and still give them the majority of the planet”--he interjected before Roslyn could object. “Better to have Talorans living in the homes of our ancestors, Madame President, than Cylons tramping over their graves.

“If we could get the Talorans to fight and defeat the Cylons for us, we have a chance of peacefully re-establishing our society on a new world under the government of Earth while they do the heavy lifting we're no longer demographically capable of doing. If preserving our freedom and our culture comes at the price of abandoning our homes.. Well, we have already committed to that, so isn't it better to accept the Talorans there rather than the Cylons?

“In that sense, the fact that we have nothing is the best argument for peace out there. We're all skin and bones—and teeth. Why risk our teeth for no reward? Why harass fifty thousand people on a collection of a few dozen refugee ships when there is a much more rewarding possibility in the offering from helping them? It simply isn't worth the trouble, not to any rational being, and so if they think the least bit like us—we'll find that out soon enough—we'll get the most help from them by admitting our current position. It's not admitting weakness; I would emphasize fully every strength of the combat fleet still left. It's simply admitting that we have nothing worth taking. That, literally, the only thing they would get out of a confrontation with us is a bloody fight with no reward at the end. Let's show them that we've got nothing left except for fighting spirit, no planets, no resources, no population—but plenty of vipers and nukes.”

Roslyn took a deep breath. “We don't want them to think that we're so dangerous that we're a threat even then, though. So let's just present the Galactica as she is, a tough warship, and not try to overemphasize it. Let's not try to push to hard during the trading, either. If we drive a hard bargain they might think that we'd be inclined to become a roving band of pirates, at which point we might indeed be worth taking on.”

“That's reasonable. We'll tell them once their identities are confirmed.”

“Yes. Once, if, they're confirmed to be genuine and not a Cylon ploy of some kind or another.” Roslyn concluded.

Soon enough the two of them were heading out to greet the Talorans. Everyone on the hangar deck and the supporting facilities and landing control were as nervous as hell as the Taloran shuttle came in. There was something disturbing about how it loomed into space closer and closer.. It was really impressively sized, a square, boxy craft with minimal streamlining forward and some fins and engines outside of the box form but nothing else in the way of an aerodynamic nature.

It came on fast, then slowed and lined up for the approach, everyone watching tensely... And then it deaccelerated hard. Someone caught the reason why fairly quickly, and swore because of it. “Frak! Frak it! They're to big!”

“To big?” Adama turned toward the controller who'd sworn, not reprimanding him at that moment.

“Yes, Sir. The shuttle can't physically fit into the bay. It'll clip off its ailerons on the lip of the bay shield. They caught it just in time, too. No way for us to tell, either, the way they paint their ships matte-black like that, our monitors couldn't give us a good enough visual for scaling her until it was to late.”

“We're getting a communication through...”

A crackle came, followed by the words: “This is the Jhammind first cutter, requesting a transfer by one of your own shuttles. This is pilot officer Rhistim, we need a transfer by one of your own shuttles, human carrier.. We cannot fit into your bay.”

“Inform them that we'll be sending a pickup shuttle immediately, though it will require several trips.” He thought for a moment. It may be advisable to send someone along to formally welcome their Commander during the initial contact. The choice was obvious, the perfect person to please Roslyn and of sufficient rank. “And order Captain Adama to accompany the shuttle's first run.”

It did not take long for the shuttle to be prepped, as it had been waiting in case a rescue mission of some sort would be necessary. It was launched, and swung around to line up with the much larger and blockier Taloran shuttle in the span of fifteen minutes or so, even as delicately as the meeting of the two crafts necessarily needed to be.

As it turned out, the Talorans had a universal docking umbilical on their shuttle. They were able to extend it and secure an airtight seal to the colonial shuttle. The equalization of pressure took a few minutes longer.

Onboard the Colonial shutle, Lee Adama waited tensely. This was probably going to be the biggest moment of both his military and political careers put together, and he had Roslyn and his father to not let down by this. The pressure gauge on the hatch read almost Colonial standard—slightly higher, actually, by about 4%.

There was an abrupt pounding on the hatch. Not very loud; it was sort of like someone's hand, if muffled even beyond.. But it was an obvious signal. Lee, holding his breath, spun open the seal and pulled the door back himself. The crew of the colonial shuttle looked on in silence.

Captain Fraslia, Baroness Istarlan, ducked through the low hatch, gray flesh prominent, as was her immense height. She tried to stand but found the top of her helmet hitting the ceiling. Behind her, Lieutenant Chylisi's effort to enter was even more embarassing; as she ducked through the seal of the door, she clipped off the globe on the top of her helmet with a breaking sound which made Lee Adama wince. The aliens were tall--at least two meters and probably more, and then with the ears on top of that... They were also incredibly thin, looking easily breakable in combination with their great height.

Fraslia, removing her own helmet as a practical measure, showed her ears, exactly as long as animal-like as the video had shown as she spoke something in her own tongue to the embarassed Chylisi..

Lee Adama watched, not knowing what they were saying, as the second of the aliens, with her—and they were both female--intensely flamboyant orange hair, compared to the vaguely more subdued purple of the figure recognizeable as the alien Commander, brought up some bulky device and pointed it toward them. The next words were matched by the same slightly machined-over voice as before:

“It appears, human, that your height clearances shall not be kind to us. We will proceed from here without our helmets, if the breach of decorum is not to great of one.. My name is Fraslia, the Baroness Istarlan, and I thank you for your hospitality. This meeting may be awkward, but I take it in the kindness meant.. May I have your name?”

“Captain Lee Adama,” he answered, stepping forward, and offering his hand.

Fraslia knew enough about human greeting gestures, and she reached out to grasp his, showing her extremely long fingers, and..

They have six fingers! A part of Lee's brain almost gibbered at that, it was so incongruous but clearly alien. Yet he held the handshake and managed a solid, diplomatic smile; the Baroness' grip was surprisingly firm for such a delicate-seeming creature.

“A pleasure to meet you, Captain Adama. I will now bring over what your maximum capacity is for the shuttle, and we shall begin our first trip to your ship. I am looking very much forward to meeting your leadership.” Her expression seemed vague, the intentions behind her words uncertain, and for the first of many times Lee Adama wished he understood what the movements of Taloran ears meant.

“The pleasure is all our's, Commander. I can't wait to show you aboard the Battlestar Galactica.”

It was an inauspicious start to a first contact, but then it was no normal first contact, either.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-04-19 12:59pm

Chapter Four

Battlestar Galactica

The Talorans seemed naturally graceful, when the initial missteps with the entrance had been taken care of. It was not hard to tell which of them were officers, either. They were all female—it made Lee wonder about the balance of the sexes among Talorans, for it was clear that the males were also much shorter—and their clothing was incredibly ornate by Colonial standards. It did not seem like the Talorans themselves thought that their dress was particularly ornate, however, though it was clearly full dress uniforms which many a Colonial officer detested; the Talorans seemed more formal and more comfortable with formality.

It was, altogether, somewhat uncomfortable to be interacting with them. Lee Adama was a junior officer, comparatively, but the Taloran junior officers held their tongues in the present of their Commander, who initially did not speak. At last, however, she gave the most vague trace of a smile one could imagine as she looked to him, ears flexing to the sides a bit. “I apologize that the carriage of my officers was not so precise in the presence of your bulkheads.”

Lee realized that she was making a bit of a joke, and laughed; the unfortunate who's helmet had broken flushed slightly, though a much warmer smile and upright ears toward her from her commander seemed to alleviate the distress. “I am sorry that happened,” he added a moment later. “I don't think, Ma'am, that we really realized just how tall your people are.”

“Women,” came the uncertain translation back. “Not people in general. As you can see the men of our race are more distinct from the women than in your human race, where all the heights and appearences seem the same to us—well, except that most human women look as if they are nursing, but for those who do not it is quite hopeless to tell them apart without much experience. Of our people, the differences are very obvious.” Her smile was vaguely sly, then, and Lee couldn't help but feel it was intended to be humorous: “Of course, I have heard that humans do not find our sexes to look like males and females, either.”

“I can recognize the differences, which are obvious,” Adama answered. “But, yes, I wouldn't immediately associate them with either sex easily, Commander.” He asked the next question more cautiously: “Do women have greater influence than men in your society?”

“No; equal at best. But my society is different from the society of the Empire at large. We have different cultural customs, though to a great extent they have changed over time to become more normalized over the whole Empire.”

Stupid of me, to assume that they have a monolithic society. Actual diplomacy proved more difficult than being a simple liason. “My apologies, Commander. I was, however, asking about the Empire at large.”

“It's quite all right.” Her ears flicked down somewhat, and the other Talorans were curiously silent. “My people are old and proud, and some of our traditions will always be there, but our differences are fading. For many this is a good thing, but I am a scion of an old house, and I cannot help but feel reverence for the doings of my ancestors. At any rate, the status of men and women in our society is about equal, but due to long tradition many of the positions of the high nobility are filled exclusively by women, and inheiritance is perhaps eighty percent matrilineal, varying by area.”

“I see.” That broached a more delicate political question. “That does make me curious, Ma'am. What sort of government does your society have?”

The translation was skewed a bit, but the meaning obvious: “Hereditary limited autocracy, of course,” and she seemed proud when she said it. “The nobility has quite a lot of power, of course, and we control taxation. But there is little doubt that Her Serene Majesty the Empress is the director of the will of the nation. Allow me to guess. Your government is democratic.”

“Very, Ma'am.” How did she know?

Fraslia smiled as though she'd read his mind. “It is a very human sin.”

That's rather a relief. It means the Thirteenth Colony is much more like us. That will make the distinctly anti-democratic opinions of the Talorans easier to swallow, I think. After all, their species might be totally unsuited to consentual government for all we know.. But we'll need to explain that to people. And they certainly seemed strongly expressed. Sin. Hmm. It was an interesting thought, but in the end, Lee Adama decided against bringing up religious beliefs. He certainly no longer thought that they were Cylons. But the proof of that would be coming soon enough, and could not be hurried.

They were landing now, coming in gently and carefully, and the Talorans had not seem pertured or interested in the landing procedures at all. They were all either quite disciplined or else experienced spacers, probably a mix of both. Soon the shutttle had settled down and the hatch was quickly opened up from inside by one of the crewmen. Lee stepped down to it and leaned to look outside, seeing a full welcoming party there and his father and the President. He saluted, and ducked back inside, heading over to where Fraslia was sitting.

“Commander, if you would go ahead and lead your entourage out?”

“Certainly, Captain,” her ears had shifted back upright by now. “Thank you for your courteousness.” She rose and began to speak in her own tongue, untranslated, as Chylisi then rose, holding the bulky translator in one hand and her damaged helmet in the other; the globe was in her pocket to be put back on later by some clever machinist or another. The rest of her party ready, six in all crammed into the small habitable section of the shuttle, followed their commander out to the reception. Fraslia was greeted with the full dignities accorded to someone of the rank of Commander, but even with the Talorans' helmets tucked under their arms, or perhaps moreso (because it showed off their flamboyant hair), they stole the show with the fineness of their dress.

With Chylisi to her left and a half-step behind, Fraslia advanced to receive the trill of the bosun's pipe and the salues of the officers around Adama. Noticeably, there were a large number of naval infantry in the bay, and they were all heavily armed.

“Welcome aboard,” the Commander himself offered, some of his gruff voice managing to carry through, it seemed, into translation—tone, of course, having meaning in Taloran, it was more than that. “Baroness Istarlan, I am Commander Adama, military head of this flleet. It is my pleasure to present the President of the Confederation, Laura Roslyn.”

A rush of purple hair seeming to fly up everywhere marked Fraslia's bow, and with it, came a precise click of her heels. As she rose, her hair settled down like a robe around her, ears thrusting up out of it, and her smile, if neutral and mild by human standards, was gracious. But of course nobody really had any idea that she was actually attempting to imitate human custom, and assumed it to be a Taloran one.

“Your Excellency,” Fraslia addressed Roslyn. “It is my great pleasure to meet such a high plenipotentiary of your government, and I hope I am worthy off the task of handling our discussions, being a humble Baroness.”

Plenipotentiary really isn't the right term. Bad translation, Laura decided. It was clear the Talorans were much more effusive than humans ever would be, but the flowery language was an obvious clue of the limitations of the otherwise fascinating and very advanced Taloran device. It's nice to know they're not perfect. She was even someone annoyed at being called 'Your Excellency', but it seemed the formality was thought a vital importance by the Talorans and so she did not ask them to stop using it. “I am sure our negotiations will be most equitable, Baroness. We have already conversed electronically, after all, and your willingness to hold your position has been appreciated. I'd like thank you for your willingness, also, to forbear our difficulties in docking..”

“Ah, that is quite alright. We are going to have more trouble getting used to your ceilings than to such minor issues, which can hopefully be resolved—perhaps by external coupling.”

Adama frowned quietly at that, but nodded. “We'll look into that if there are later transfers.”

“Thank you, Commander,” Fraslia replied, smiling, though inside she was vaguely concerned. The attitude aboard was rather more suspicious than she had expected. “Well, Your Excellency, I brought my most critical staff with me, the personnel ferried on later, if they can be given quarters..?”

“We'd like to arrange that later, after some urgent issues that need to be taken care of first,” Laura answered. “There's some things of importance that we need to tell you about, and some information we need immediately.”

Fraslia's ears flexed in consternation. Well, this isn't what I'd expected, but it does not seem particularly threatening, and besides, nothing here can really be expected. “Then, please, let us deal with them, Your Excellency. I desire nothing more than to quickly assuage any problems you may have, the better that the relationships between our people and your's can be improved.”

“Thank you.” Roslyn smiled, forcing down the inner pain that was constant, now. This might not just be the most important act of her life, but also one of the last. At the same time, it could still be a Cylon trap, and so the first order was proving the Talorans weren't Cylons—and in doing so warning them about the Cylon threat. “Please have your personnel follow us, then...”

A cluster of the maintence techs watched them go from a quiet corner of the bay. Cally was the only one who spoke, awestruck, perhaps, but not sufficiently so that she couldn't muster a commment in own usual way. “Uhm, frak. We just saw actual aliens. And they were tall. And colourful. This is cool.”

The Talorans did not fit comfortably in the chairs in the briefing room which had been readjusted for their conference. But they were still able to sit, and they seemed content to do so even though their legs were splayed out at various angles and wrapped about the table supports. President Roslyn was at the head of the table, and Fraslia at the foot, with Commander Adama at Rosyln's right side.

Fraslia noted that there was a cheerful looking, quite excited young aide of Roslyn's there, and a few more serious looking officers, along with someone with long hair who at first glance Fraslia had thought was a human female but turned out to be male, a civilian scientist of some sort. Noticeable, also, was that the marines had followed them. The room was intended for briefing a whole wing of starfighter pilots; instead it just held a small meeting—and a very considerable amount of security.

Fraslia resolved not to let that demonstration of paranoia get in the way of the success of the meeting, and simply ignored the presence of so many security troops, instead calmly launching into the pleasantries before the meeting proper. Her example was followed by all of her personnel, and even Chylisi had settled down well—to the point that she was ignoring the unusual gazes that the long-haired human male was giving her almost incessantly.

Even the pleasantries were awkward, however. “We have a variety of refreshments prepared for you,” Roslyn began to speak once more, “However, we're unsure about your dietary requirements..”

One of the other Talorans, one with vibrant pink hair, said something; Fraslia replied, and the first held up a small crushed velvet bag and slide it to the middle of the table. Fraslia at once turned to address the rather quizzical humans. “We can eat it, but we can't normally digest it, Your Excellency. My good doctor Frysi was so kind as to bring along the necessary dietary enzymes and supplements to allow us to consume your food.” A gesture to the pink-haired Taloran was offered by means of introduction.

“Ah. Well, I'll have them brought in, then..” That set the meeting off on an odd tone, where it seemed that the simplest thing required extensive explanation and several tangents from the actual subject at hand. For the Colonials, who wanted to resolve the question of whether or not the Talorans were in fact Cylons involved in a deception operation, it was especially galling, yet could not be helped as they continued to discover things about each other, not only as societies, but as people.

Roslyn managed, somehow, to navigate that field of offhand comments and tangents, though it was very delicate going to broach the subject which brought the greatest degree of uncertainty into the whole operation. As Roslyn was finally able to get down to business, Adama noticeably excused himself and stepped over to confer with the commander of the Marine detail, which had been planned in advance.

It was obvious that Fraslia was very aware of the move. “You wish to discuss something urgent with us, Your Excellency, as you'd indicated. What is it?”

There was no more beating around the bush to be had for it. Roslyn took a deep breath. “Baroness Istarlan, this fleet is being pursued by a hostile force. They're called the Cylons by us, and their goal is to completely destroy us. There is a danger of a Cylon attack mixing you up into the situation...”

The whole Taloran side of the table had fallen silent, and Fraslia and Chylisi exchanged a significant glance before the Baroness turned back to face Roslyn. “Your Excellency, do the Cylons possess large ships of a distinctive double-trifoil form?”

Now the whole room had fallen into an uneasy silence. Roslyn's face was ashen. “Yes. A Cylon baseship—their mainline warship. How do you know what they look like..?”

Most of the Talorans had flattened ears. Fraslia, however, was just as blunt and to the point as Roslyn had been in introducing the matter. “There's two of them escorting another large ship, with some smaller ships as escorts in turn around them, as well, in a second fleet which is trailing your own. We assumed they were a distant covering force. They're staying at the extreme limit of the range at which they can probably detect you with sublight sensors.. And, yes, considering the apparent severity of this situation, I shall be quite honest with you. We detected them because we have faster than light sensor capabilities.

“The most disturbing thing here, however, is that your force appeared to be in regular communication with that force, which explains why we assumed, despite the great differences in ship design, that your forces were under one command.”

Adama didn't waste a second when he heard that. “Commander Fraslia, do your ships also have faster than light communications?” Noticeably, he was using her rank, not her title, and equally noticeable was the fact that she responded to it without a complaint.

“Why, of course. In fact, that is the sort of communications we detected between your fleet and the supposed covering force, which now seems to be these Cylons. I take it that despite the great celerity of your faster than light drives you have neither?”

“That is correct.” He took a step forward, looking to Roslyn. “This makes the situation particularly urgent, Madame President. We could be on the verge of a Cylon attack, and furthermore, it means that the Cylons have real-time intelligence data on the movements of the fleet. Cylon spies able to communicate directly with their shadowing force explains a lot, and makes our situation very worrying. I think you should make your request immediately.”

Roslyn nodded, and turned to the now quite attentive Talorans. “I'd like to ask one of you to volunteer for some blood, skin, and hair samples. You see, the Cylons are machines. Machines which are very good with bio-technology. They're able to produce completely human-normal infiltrators. We understand that your microbiological makeup would be very different from that of humans; since the Cylons can replicate only humans, and none of us have the knowledge of any kind of non-Kobolian bio-chemistry, we'd like these samples to, quite simply, prove that your ship is not a Cylon trap.”

“I'll provide them myself, as long as Doctor Frysi is able to observe and make sure that none of the procedures are unsafe for Taloran physiology, and Lieutenant Chylisi comes with the translator,” Fraslia answered without missing a beat as she volunteered herself to be the guinea pig for the Colonials. Adama saw the sentiment in it, appreciated it, and found himself respecting the alien as a sort of solid commander regardless of her species.

“I appreciate this a lot,” Roslyn smiled reassuringly. “Let's clear up this, which I am quite convinced is a formality, and then I can get down to a more complete explanation of exactly why this fleet is here, and what our overall political situation is.”

“Certainly.” A ghost of a smile: “Why don't we get it done right now, then, Your Excellency?”

“I'll lead you there,” Adama offered abruptly, feeling the impulse to make the gesture of courtesy, and perhaps let the two speak as they walked in private, as military commanders rather than diplomats. “It's only a short trip, Commander.”

Fraslia stood. “Doctor Frysi, please follow me and the Commander...”

“Of course, Captain,” she replied in Taloran. The three of them rose.. Leaving the other three behind, with no way to talk to the Colonials.

“This is going to be awkward for all of you remaining behind,” Fraslia commented, her ears flicking in amusement. “But just remain patient, and all shall be set right in a few tens of minutes.” And with that she followed Adama, willing to endure a few pokes and scraps and a shaving of her precious and lovely hair for the sake of peace. Just.

“Madame President, if I can accompany the Commander to observe the tests..?” Baltar asked.

Roslyn was not terribly amused. She'd seen the eye that their pet scientist was giving to the one Taloran female, and didn't want to cause an incident. “I would prefer you remain out of respect for the Commander's privacy,” she answered, and Adama, overhearing, left with the three Talorans before Baltar could start whining about it. A few security personnel unobtrusively followed.

That minor problem dealt with, at least, Roslyn looked around the table with a vague politician's smile. The Talorans, out of politeness for the Baroness, were not speaking or interacting, but remaining silent and watching the room, occasionally nibbling on the human food without taking any more, and sipping water. They seemed, by human standards, to be very reserved at table.

“So, Billy, how is it going so far?”

“They're being incredibly accomadating,” he answered after a moment. “But it's probably true that there's going to be some backlash against their politics. Just think of Zarek...”

“I'm trying not to.” Well, so much for that. It never occurred to them that the Talorans might have a second concealed translator, but fortunately there hadn't been enough time for that. The existence of one at all was odd enough.

Walking along with Adama, Fraslia's ears were proudly raised and a calm expression was on her face. She broke the ice herself. “Don't worry about my fellow officers here; they are confidants, in that sense, and can hear what we speak without concern.”

“We're more formal with junior officers here, Commander. How does your system work, then?”

“Oh, formality is absolute, but they are still gentlemen, so to speak. Even the meanest peasant, holding an Imperial commission, is therefore accorded the respect of someone of the lower knightly ranks. And of course even the children of those who win a battlefield commission from such status may have the full gates of the Empire opened to them, so to speak.”

“And these two officers of your's, here? The Doctor and Lieutenant.. Chylisi?”

“That's correct. Doctor Frysi is quite proud to come from a long medical tradition in our nation, and the good Lieutenant is a veritable polymath—and yes, she deserves to hear her Commander say that about her after what she's done for us here in making your language intelligible—her family is of the landed gentry from the northern ice continent on our homeworld. I understand.. Lieutenant, is it not true that they herd genetically engineered ungulates on the Masrak peninsula?”

Chylisi, swelled with pride, nodded crisply. “That's exactly so, Your Ladyship.”

Fraslia smiled.

“Commander, is it normal for those of lesser rank to address you by your title?”

“Unless of higher title than me, yes—for junior officers of the higher ranks of the nobility I would simply be Commander Fraslia, though some accord their commanders that courtesy even so. From what I know of Terran militaries our system is much more complex, though there are a few which broadly match it.”

“Terran militaries, Commander? The humans you're in contact with are politically disunified?” That was not something that Adama had expected at all, it simply didn't seem obvious.

“After a certain fashion,” Fraslia's answer was not terribly helpful, until she elaborated: “We also have multiple militaries, all under the All-Highest Empress. You see, it is the right of certain high nobles of the Empire to maintain their own private armed forces. The situation on Earth is similar.”

Now it was Commander Adam's turn to be concerned. That's rather strongly implying that there's an hereditary nobility on Terra as well. “What are the origins of the governments on Terra?”

“Most of them are monarchies, though they were not previously so. There has been many political tumults in the recent history of the human race on your homeworld.”

“The homeworld of humanity, to our knowledge, is a planet called Kobol.”

“Ah? Is this so? It is common knowledge in the Taloran Star Empire that humans evolved on Earth; I do not see how it could be otherwise, for the archaeological record extends deep into the past and into pre-technological times.”

Well, isn't that a bit of a mystery? But it was one for later. It also wasn't positive, which argued against this being a Cylon trap—a fact they'd be confirming shortly. The Cylons would certainly try to give us paradise as a honeyed trap. “I'm sure these discrepencies can be reconciled by the appropriate professionals.”

“Probably. They are not terribly important to our relations, just to the academicians, one supposes.”

“How long have you held command?”

“I was first given command of a frigate about twenty-three years ago, and have held various commands since then,” Fraslia answered. “We Talorans are quite long-lived, and promotions in peacetime are very slow. I am due for a battlecruiser soon, but we shall see.”

“Your survey ships can fight?”

“As well as a heavy cruiser, though they're much larger than heavy cruisers. But the reduced manoeuvrability and acceleration thanks to increased mass are made up for with more armour.” Fraslia smiled, in a way that was almost sly of her. “Now, Commander, you ought tell me just what a Battlestar is, in return. She is very well armoured, but..”

Adama could not help but grin with his pride. “The finest fighting ships of the Colonial Starfleet, Commander. Heavily armoured and well equipped with missiles and heavy guns for direct action, but both of the pods are loaded with starfighters.”

“It's an interesting design. We don't carry starfighters on ships designed for heavy close-combat, normally. It's considered to dangerous. However, it seems as if your podded design allows for them to be safely carried—I assume there are no critical components on the pods and they can be destroyed and the ship can still fight at close quarters without a particular reduction in efficiency?”

“Having started in starfighters myself, I hate to admit it, but you're right. The Galactica is a tough ship, and if we lost both pods we could still fight hard.”

“Of that, I am sure.”

They had arrived, and Adama led them inside.. “Doctor Cottle?”

“Sir?” He saw the Talorans for the first time, and whistled softly. “So I see that I have my subjects for the test.”

“Subject.” Adama gestured to Fraslia. “Commander Fraslia, the Baroness Istarlan. She'll be providing the samples you need.”

“Greetings, Doctor Cottle,” Frysi spoke up then. “I am Doctor Frysi, and I'll be observing you if you don't mind..”

“Ah, another doctor. Certainly; it's a very simple procedure, I'm just taking a few samples... The Commander has no problems I should know about, I trust? Her skin colouration is quite different from your own..”

“It's quite natural for someone of her ethnicity,” Doctor Frysi affirmed before Fraslia herself could answer. “Our hair and eye colour variation is also normal for our species.”

“If you'd please sit, then?” Cottle asked Fraslia as he gestured to a chair.

The Commander did as she was told, but knowing the difficulty of removing it otherwise, first undid her dress uniform jacket. Once it was off and the white undershirt was revealed, her femininity was in somewhat more evidence, though it was clear that breasts were not sexual objects to a Taloran normally. Her helmet had been thankfully left behind at the conference table, and unbuttoning a sleeve of her undershirt she was able to roll it up far enough for the doctor.

He had a bit of difficulty getting the rubber band in place around the arm and then in locating a vein, but Frysi pointed the faint discolouration out for him, and a moment later the needle was in. Fraslia didn't even flinch and watched the procedure with casual disinterest. Her blood was a very vibrant, iridescent red.. The skin sample equally didn't elicit a response from her as some was scraped off after he'd secured the blood sample, though there was a faintly wry look when he clipped off a snippet of her hair.

“We're somewhat vain creatures when it comes to our hair,” Fraslia admitted a moment later.

“You deserve to be!” Cottle replied as took the samples under an electron microscope and a regular one, for good measure. The response came only moments after he'd checked each one.

“They're aliens, Commander. There's nothing here similar to Kobolian biology in any way. This isn't human blood, skin, or hair, or anything even remotely like us. It's the same in only the vaguest, superficial terms. There's no way Cylons could create it; they're the real thing.” He straightened. “We've met the first alien race in the history of our people, Commander. There's no doubt about it, now.”
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-04-21 10:58am

Chapter Five

That settled it. The Talorans were real. And all the implications flooded home to Commander Adama at once. The hope, unrestrained at last. And the delicate political questions that had just been raised were now pressing issues, also, which must be solved even as the hope overtook them all. This will be delicate, indeed. But first, the matter at hand, and so he turned and began to address 'Commander'' (though the rank equivalency was correct) Fraslia:

“Commander, I want to thank you for the level of trust that you've showed us. The demands we placed on you were extreme, and I know it. That you willingly put your life into our hands, bluntly, tells me all I need to know about your people. You may be aliens, and your politics are antithetical to our own, but it doesn't matter to me. You're as solid of friends as our people could hope for, considering that we've just met.

“When we return to the conference room, we're going to tell you some very disturbing things. They're the truth, Commander. And I hope that just as we repay your trust with our honesty, that you and your people can do the same.”

Fraslia nodded gravely, and stood up. “Commander Adama, I thank you for the sentiments that you express. I would hope that my government can reciprocate them as fully as they deserve to be reciprocated, and that we can proceed on absolutely peaceable grounds for as long as our nations remain in contact. Unfortunately, as an officer, I cannot make a promise to you, however; I am bound to obey the directives of my government. And, indeed, I must express some wonder that you have shown such latitude in negotiations as things stand.. Just what exactly, if I may, is the President Roslyn's position?”

Adama looked surprised. “You seemed to understand her title—she's the President. The Head of State of the Twelve Colonies. Confederation of the Twelve Colonies would be the appropriate political term, I believe.”

Fraslia got very quiet for a moment. “I fear I don't understand this situation, then.”

Adama took a deep breath. “It's a bad one, Commander. But I'll let President Roslyn explain it to you. If you'd follow me back to the conference center?”

“Of course.” The three Talorans followed Adama back. This time, the guards did not follow him. He quietly signaled that they were dismissed, and walked along with the three aliens. In some sense, their presence was a vindication of his own agnostic beliefs, which had of late been thrown in doubt by stories of prophecy and strange events. Now, however, here was a realm of comfortably grounded scientific fact. The probabilities had proven true. Humanity was not alone in the universe.

They reached the conference room, where Roslyn was on the verge of having Baltar thrown out for hitting on another of the Taloran females in the room; the other two of the aides were male, but a young Dalamari, even more distinct from the other Talorans than Fraslia, and Doctor Frysi's aide, was the target of Baltar's affections now that Chylisi had left, and he was trying to communicate to her with hand signals. This was proven distastrously ineffective, as the woman had made a point of responding by moving her ears, forcing Baltar to try and figure out what they were 'saying'. The two Taloran males at the table appeared to be very amused but controlling it well, which was somewhat hopeful..

Baltar doesn't even want to wait to confirm if they're Cylons or not, and appears content to discover their anatomy by experimentation. This is disgusting, and potentially harmful.. Roslyn's building train of thought was halted by Commander Adama's simple statement:

“Tests are negative. They're aliens, Madame President.”

Billy grinned and looked like he wanted to explode in excitement. Roslyn felt herself suffused with a power of hope that could scarcely be described; this meant that they now had a free path to Earth. There was hope, and the only looming threat that still had to be dealt with was the Cylon tailing force that the Talorans had explained existed. We finish them off, and it's a clear voyage to Earth.

Fraslia moved to sit at the foot of the table once more, her expression serious even to the guesses of the humans. Baltar, wisely, had shut up and ceased his efforts. As Fraslia and the other three Talorans sat, she asked:

“Has the rest of my staff arrived, then?”

“Yes, they have, Your Ladyship.” Billy spoke up from the back—he'd been monitoring the shuttle operations.

“I'd like to arrange quarters for the lot of us, if it's possible. I assume we'll be spending at least one night here..”

“I'll have that taken care of as soon as the meeting is done, Commander.” Adama replied.

“Thank you.” Fraslia looked to Roslyn. “I believe, Your Eminence..”

“Please, just Your Excellency, we don't have such high titles among our people,” Roslyn gently interrupted at that point.

“Apologies. Your Excellency. I have been told that you are the Head of State of your nation, the Confederation of the Twelve Colonies, roughly. This brings up a matter which I am given to understand is of some import. Bluntly. You are the leader of your nation. Where is your nation? Are you separatists from another human colony?”

Laura Roslyn trembled slightly as she spoke, the emotion overcoming her as she uttered the honest words. “No, Your Ladyship. We're the last fifty thousand survivors of the twelve colonies, onboard the last Battlestar of our fleet, one of the last three armed ships in possession of our people... Guarding the last fifty thousand humans from the Twelve Colonies who are still alive, save those who are held in Cylon medical experimentation camps.”

“What was your original population, if I may, Your Excellency?” Fraslia asked in a strangely neutral voice.

“Close to a hundred and fifty billion on all twelve colonies and in the outlying refueling depots, orbital habitats, and outer planet mining facilities. The Cylons infiltrated our computer systems, disabled our fleet, annihilated it, and then proceeded to commit genocide on our home worlds. The nuclear explosions become so many blossoms of death.. Uncountable numbers. Mostly neutron bombs, I am told, intended to kill people while leaving as many structures as possible intact. The Galactica only survived because she was off the 'net, being an older ship about to be decommissioned. I had already rounded up as many survivors as possible, and the Galactica joined with us and we fled. We had to abandon the sublight ships; those with any supplies of food went to high burn in hopes of finding sanctuary in deep space before their supplies were lost. Perhaps some are still alive. The rest also perished.

“The Cylons, we have later discovered, still hold thousands or tens of thousands of humans on at least one colony, and possibly many more. They're using them for bio-engineering experimentation. A few humans survive in bands in the most rugged areas of our homeworlds, at best. I am not sure if there is any hope of saving those in the camps or if they can only be given a merciful death. Perhaps there are some more ships that escaped, but we don't know, and can only assume they all perished.”

Roslyn took a breath, her trembling by that point undiplomatically obvious. “Please, Your Ladyship. We need safe passage through your space to Earth. Can you bar the gate against the Cylons? I will be perfectly honest to you about them: We created them. They are machines, homicidal machines bent on tinkering the genes of our prisoners in horrible ways for their own inscrutable purposes. They revolted from us, and we fought them and won—but they escaped, rebuilt their forces, and destroyed us. We are the pitiful remnants, and our only hope is settling on the Thirteenth Colony of Kobol, Earth.

“Under close pursuit, we cannot risk going to Earth. My only request is therefore simple. Lead us through your space, and bar the Cylons. Guide us to our sanctuary. We will fight to the death out here if we must, but our twelve homeworlds have already suffered the loss of more than ninety-nine percent of their population. Whatever our sins, we're just a pitiful band of desperate survivors. We can fight, but we have nothing to fight for but our lives, and nothing to hope for but to somehow preserve them, and those hopes rest entirely on Earth. Are you willing to grant us safe passage? Can you at least ask permission of your superiours?”

Fraslia knew in that moment she had to tell the truth. Roslyn had opened up to them, and told them the whole truth, right down to the originators of the Cylons. Of the greatest genocidaires that the Taloran species had ever heard of, by an order of magnitude of about five times—the greatest act of genocidal mass murder previously known, at least to her, had claimed around thirty billion lives.

And this desperate group of fleeing refugees, under the escort of their last, proud squadron, defended by a ship which was on the verge of being decommissioned when the attacks had begun. It was an incredible, almost unbelievable tale, beyond horror. And it demanded the reciprocation of perfect honesty.

“Commander Adama,” Fraslia suddenly addressed him. “Earlier I said I couldn't promise you. I now take that back; I am going to promise you to tell the whole truth, because this act of honesty is something that I will defend my decision upon to my superiours, based on the absolute requirement I feel my code of honour compels of me to match such truthfulness with the truth from us in turn.”

She looked back to Roslyn, then, who was somewhat confused by the exchange. “I can't promise you mere safe passage to Earth. The situation is more complex than that, by far. What I can promise you, however, is that I will if you wish order the Jhammind into a close support formation and defend your fleet on my own personal evaluation of the situation. It would be immoral for me not to protect the survivors of genocide. And, at any rate, the Taloran species has a responsibility to you.

“You see. Earth is not independent. Rather, the various polities of Earth are feudatories of Her Serene Majesty, the Empress of the Taloran Star Empire, Saverana the Second. President Roslyn, the rest of humanity, as far as we know, is part of the Star Empire, and you're headed to our space. If the Cylons tried to pursue you there, I can promise a war. But I do not have the authorization on my own to let you go through, and thereby start that war. What I can promise, however, is that the Jhammind and her crew will die defending your civilians from any and all Cylon attacks, down to the last erg of our will. I am not sure what you will think of me or of my people now that I have told you this, but as long as you wish me to be here I will remain as your hostage, trusting my executive officer to handle the Jhammind in battle should an engagement with the genocidaires arise.”

The room was very quiet. Roslyn's face was ashen. Adama was grimly lacking in expression. Baltar seemed strangely fascinated, almost perversely so. Even Billy was very, very quiet, standing silently behind Roslyn. Looking at the Talorans, who returned their looks quietly. There was no response to what Fraslia had said. In the end, she had to speak again, herself, to try and break the deathly silence which might turn to danger.

“I have human friends. I said that, and I wasn't lying to you. There are humans serving in our starfleet, humans in our government. They have their own governments, all of them, which owe the most nominal allegiance to the All-Highest Empress only. We rather ironically took control over the human colonies to protect them from their own government on Earth which was attempting to commit genocide against them. In all, there are more than thirty billion humans in the Taloran Star Empire.

“Your Excellency, if you wish, put me to death. But it will not free your people. They do not need to be freed. They are free. All of their traditional rights and priviliges are upheld and defended, and the highest human monarchs have the right to sit in the Convocate of the Nobility of the Star Empire. We do not, at any rate, assume authority over you; you are your own government. But if you want to go to Earth, then you are going to have to ask the Imperial government for refugee status. It is as simple as that.”

Laura took a deep breath again. She needed it, badly. “Your Ladyship, I am not going to vent rage upon your life or that of your crew. Your words are horrible news to us. It's hard for us to believe it. From the Other, we have known only genocidal war in our whole history. To imagine humans swearing fealty to your Empress; it turns my stomach, it simply turns my stomach. But if there are thirty billion living in peace and freedom—what am I to say? You are right, though. We are our own nation, and we believe in the rights and freedoms of the people, something you seem not to. I would go so far as to say that most of the human monarchies are of your own doing.”

“You are half wrong, and half right. Hundreds of years ago the humans overthrew most of their monarchs and commenced an era of experimenting in democracy. It failed, and resulted only in mass death and genocide. We were there to intervene during the latest phase of self-murder by the human democratic governments, when the United Terran Homeland Party was going to destroy rebeling colonies, which asked for our help. We had, by that time, had enough of democracy, and restored the old monarchies which had those centuries prior been deposed. They are still human monarchies, founded on human deeds, with human lines of descent; but I acknowledge that without our intervention, they would have stayed footnotes in history.”

“How can you call people free who have their government imposed upon them?” Roslyn dared the question, sharply.

“How can you call people free who are subjected to the whim of random popularly elected tyrants with enormous powers written into constitutional documents?” Fraslia responded coolly.

“I.. What is the definition of freedom except to choose one's own leaders?”

“The liberty to come and go as one pleases; to not be bothered by the state in any affairs. The government of my people does not regulate businesses, or behaviour in the great family lodge or small tenaments alike. Your property, which you have earned with your own sweat, cannot be taken from you. No 'due process', it simply cannot be taken. It is your's, and sacred to the law, even to the monarchies. You have the right to a fair trial, and this cannot be denied, and if the jury sees that the law you are guilty of is unjust, then they may acquit you and declare it to be so even though you have technically violated it, because nobody may violate an unjust law.

“You have the right to never be confined by the government, save when awaiting punishment, and your personal property, even as a felon, cannot be confiscated, and even a condemned criminal's property is remanded to their relatives upon their execution rather than seized. You are free to speak your mind, save to utter threats against the nation itself, and with that singular qualification, there are no laws regarding expression whatsoever. You do not need surrender any information about yourself to the government, and must submit yourself to no bodily indignities. And above all, the right to keep arms and maintain armed forces is guaranteed so that all of the sacred rights can never be trod upon. The people may, in various fashions, elect representatives who have certain roles in government and serve to get the voices of the lower classes heard, according to the various traditional electoral classifications.

“We do not vote for our leaders, but our leaders swear sacred oaths to defend our rights; and I, as a Baroness, have taken up such an oath before the people of the Istarlan valleys, and will die to preserve their rights. How many elected politicians have ever led their troops into action with sword in hand to defend the rights of their citizens? Your Excellency, this is what the Talorans call Freedom, and it is what the humans under the reign of the All-Highest Empress have also. I am raised in a hard school, to offer my life lightly for those who are under me; I was not speaking in jest or melodrama when I proclaimed that you might take my life. My life is worthless, it is nothing. My duty is priceless; it is everything.

“I am telling you the truth about the humans under the Empire in its entirety, and I know it is the truth because I have sworn an oath to defend the rights of people just like the humans of the Empire, who are accorded the same rights, even though they are Talorans; we are not racists, and insomuch as the human law codes vary from those which apply to Talorans, they differ between the various Taloran polities and most of those were human laws, in their original law codes. Your Excellency, we apply our standards, but it would be a base libel to call us tyrants and overlords. Most humans alive today owe their prosperity and liberty to Her Serene Majesty. That is a simple fact, which you may dislike or hate, or wish to change; but it is a standing fact at the moment, and you must decide upon your relations with us in the face of it. Now, as to what I have promised, it comes at no cost, and I change it not. Give the word, and the Jhammind will stand with your fleet, against your Cylon enemy, whatever the cost. I promise you the sword of my ancestors, till my All-Highest Empress commands me otherwise or until the death, without another condition.”


At last, Laura cleared her throat. “I believe firmly in democracy, and feel that your government, however nice it is, does not compare to one where the fundamental right of the people to choose their own destiny is respected. But this is not the place for me to demand my ideals of other nations, let alone other species. I find your attitude almost terrifying in its selflessness, Your Ladyship. The Quorum, when it hears this, will not be pleased. That said, I will accept your offer, and hope to speak directly with your government.”

“Then I need but give the necessary orders, Your Excellency.”

“I'll let you confer with Commander Adama.” President Roslyn turned to him, where he seemed to be content with Fraslia's explaination, moreso than Roslyn herself was.

“I think we should jump out,” Adama said simply. “We've stayed here too long, and the Cylons know what's going on. We'll follow our original planned pattern for the moment, and jump as soon as the Jhammind has assumed an escort position and your jump drives have been coordinated with those of the fleet, Commander Fraslia.”

“If you can give me a secure communications line to the Jhammind I can get”--the word didn't translate correctly—“My executive officer to bring the ship into a designated point in the convoy. I am certain we can receive jump data from you, though our drives appear less able for pinpoint accuracy and to be generally bulkier than your's; the later point is not terribly relevant for us, but the first means that we must be making at least an interstellar distance jump, if a reasonably short interstellar distance, only a few times larger than the diameter of the typical solar system.”

“We're jumping to another system entirely,” Adama confirmed. “Can you hold position during the jump acceptably?”

“Yes. That part, at least, is very easy for us, with a great degree of precision. Our navigational computers are much more advanced, from what I have seen.”

“They probably are, though that makes me concerned about how vulnerable they might be to Cylon hacking.”

“Not very likely,” Baltar finally had a reason other than chasing alien women to speak up during the meeting, and he seemed to take it as a welcome relief from the glances he'd be getting—but was it really fault he found them attractive enough? “Their computers would be programmed in an entirely different language, using a different computer language, both that the Cylons would have to learn first.”

Lieutenant Chylisi suddenly spoke up, Baltar's scientific commentary being more interesting to her than his prior constant attempts to hit on her, by far. “Apologies, ma'am, but we have very sophisticated security methods—and some pretty primitive ones, too. We can physically cut the connectors from the computers to the control sections, which rely on other computers to function, which don't have software but rather their programming is incorporated directly into their hardware, making them useless for other tasks but impossibled to control from the outside. I don't think there's any threat of the Cylons impairing are combat capabilities, including astrogation.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant.” Fraslia didn't reprimand her for speaking up; it was an open enough discussion, and the girl was desperately tired, which made her ability to continue to think like that all the more precious to her future as an officer and a commander in her own right.

“Well, since it appears we do not have much risk of running afoul of the electronic warfare systems of the Cylons have some have feared, it seems appropriate to initiate these combined manoeuvres immediately,” Fraslia now concluded. “Your Excellency, Commander Adama, do you object?”

“No,” Roslyn answered. “Considering the Cylon taskforce I don't see any other options. Do you, Commander Adama?”

“No, Madame President, I do not. Let's get on it.”

***************** ********************************* ****************

It had taken only three hours to set up the coordination system, and another two for the Jhammind to move into position. Everything was ready. The Talorans on the Galactica had managed to get some sleep—by piling matresses on the floor of an emptied storage room and throwing blankets on them, since they were all to tall for regulation beds. Commander Fraslia was active on the bridge of the Galactica, essentially interpreting orders to the Jhammind and communications back with the aide of Lieutenant Chylisi, who was simultaneously instructing the manufacturing department on the Jhammind in putting together a second translation unit; otherwise the ship's computers on the Jhammind via radio transmission was the only other way, and obviously that was not at all portable.

Colonel Tigh kept giving second glances to the Talorans around every other minute, but otherwise the bridge atmosphere had settled down. A message on the details of what the Talorans had explained about Earth was held off until the immediate danger of the Cylon taskforce had been dealt with, but Roslyn would have a rocky meeting of the Quorum defending that decision, and the ultimate political repercussions were anyone's guess.

That meeting would not come until after the jump, however, and that meant their immediate priority was getting out before an attack by the Cylon shadowing force, and making sure the next system was clear. The Cylons would be able to track them, of course, using FTL comms, but that was really the whole point of the jump—Lieutenant Chylisi was sure she could locate the ships that the Cylons in communication with the Cylon squadron were on, and that would make it easier for Baltar to focus his hunt onto those particular ships, his Cylon detector once again at the top of the list for things needed in the fleet, since they now had a way of at least narrowing number the locations of the Cylon agents.

The jump would have its most use in serving like a beater flushing out game, as Fraslia had put the analogy of a group of servants making noise to drive animals into a noble hunting party's guns, which, of course, she had then explained. It had made sense, and for all the upper crust air, Adama liked it. Now was the time to put that plan into effect..

Jhammind's jump status?” Adama queried, last. Following Taloran practice, they were at battlestations--Condition One--for the jump, and the Talorans were taking it seriously: They were all wearing vac-suits. Decades of military space-fairing behind us and we didn't figure that one out? Of course, there's no telling how long it took them. If only we had more manufacturing capacity..

Fraslia bent over the comm for a moment, then straightened, and offered a slight smile to Adama. “Dhamis is waiting for the signal, Commander. All systems are operative and we're linked into the fleet nav comps.”

Chylisi added a moment later: “Number processing between our computers has been successfully decrypted so we've got clear data flow both ways, Sir. It's quite safe to jump with the Jhammind in the fleet whenever you want to.”

Adama glanced at Fraslia and she nodded in confirmation. “Then everything's clear. Initiate fleet jump,” he ordered, as simple as that, even all the underlying results were not remotely as simple. The fleet jumped.

They arrived, and on the other end there were ships in place. What was so incongruous about the situation was that the Colonials didn't register it as fast as the Talorans did. Fraslia stared at the readouts and projection for a long moment—pointedly ignoring the fighters swarming out of the second Battlestar's hangars in ambush--and looked straight to Adama.

“It appears the rest of your fleet isn't as dead as you thought, Commander,” she said, chiding almost quietly.

The bridge crew, shocked by the Talorans, now had the second shock of their life, simply not reacting at all to such a classic ambush, even as the Jhammind did... And then came a message, and Dualla just managed to read it off, somehow:

“Battlestar and convoy, Battlestar and convoy, this is the Battlestar Pegasus under Admiral Cain, commanding. Please identify yourselves and report on the unknown ship in your formation which is aiming weapons on us, at once, before we assume it is hostile.”

Commander Adama jerked into action, even as Fraslia used her own radio connection to order Dhamis to stand down, and proceeded to deliver the fastest explanation in his whole military career—no small feat, that.

The whole situation had just gotten a hundred times more complex, and that was really saying something.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-04-25 09:14pm

Chapter Six

Standoff. Battlestar against Battlestar. The guns of the Pegasus commanded the fleet. But standing to the side of the Galactica as the stalking horse was the Jhammind. The situation appeared very tense, to put it mildly. The Pegasus could not make up its mind as to if the Jhammind represented a threat, and the nature of the rag-tag fleet that it confronted. The Jhammind, certainly, had no place there.

Yet, as time passed, the tenseness of it had collapsed. Admiral Helena Cain had heard from Commander Adama that he was firmly in control of the situation. It was not a challenge that she took willingly, accepting the prospect of these 'Talorans'. They were as disturbing to her as they had been to the fleet proper. She was, however, capable of decisive action, and grasped the strategic consequences straightforward, with little effort. When Commander Adama finished his explanation, she answered with a single sentence:

“Let me speak to the Baroness.”

“Of course, Admiral,” Adama hid an urge inside to sigh, so rare, but the conversation with Cain had been draining in a way that was hard to describe. The rest of the crew was incredibly jubilant—there were more survivors in addition to the impending arrival at Earth—but that had managed to get leached out of him by the effort not only to deal with the Talorans, and his private knowledge of the reality of the situation they would meet on Earth, but also the grim fact that they were being pursued by two Base Ships. Adding the stress of the conversation with Admiral Cain..

Which had come very close to a fight. Understandable, but we can't afford it, anyway. He turned to Fraslia.. “Commander, Admiral Cain wishes to speak to you personally.”

“Certainly.” Fraslia unclipped the seal on her helmet and stepped forward to take the proffered communication handset from Adama.

Commander Adama, stepping back while the Taloran and the Admiral began to speak, had a moment to muse on the situation. For all the difficulty, this does open up an incredible possibility... With three heavy ships they could turn and go on the attack, which would make the situation far less severe for the time it would take to organize a coherent strategy for dealing with the Talorans. Though on what might come beyond that was distracted as Adama could not help but overhear Commander Fraslia and Admiral Cain speaking to each other.

“What is your intent here, Baroness? You're in formation with the fleet, you say that you'll fight with us. Why?”

“My people, I know, will not brook any sort of communication with the genocidaires.” Fraslia had to hold the handset at a rather odd angle to speak through it, an ear canted downward to pick up the replies. “I am a representative of Her Serene Majesty, and I will answer to Her, the All-Highest Empress, for my acts here. I am confident enough to stand a courts-martial to fight alongside your fleet, Admiral, in that your cause is Just.

“I see here the pathetic refugees of a dozen proud worlds, hounded and hunted by the enemy. Give me a chance and we shall all stand and fight and clear the dagger from their back.”

“The fleet is of less concern to me than launching an immediate counterattack, Baroness.”

“Do we have the firepower, Admiral?”

There was a slight bark of laughter from Cain, just audible over the channel. “We did before your arrival, Baroness. You just make the butcher's bill easier to pay.”

Adama frowned imperceptibly at the casual way that Cain was handling her first conversation with an alien, but Fraslia was even less bothered, answering only with a pithy “and a bit smaller, I daresay, Admiral.”

“Victory is acceptable under any circumstance. Now, there are some aspects of this situation which I am unclear on, Baroness... And I'd like them explained.” Cain could only be speaking about the fact that the status of Earth had still not been fully explained to her, considering the tension of their initial meeting.

“Ah, Admiral, I'd suggest you coordinate with your political leaders for a meeting at which all of this can be discussed.”

“That's a waste of time. We can attack now, while the enemy is still unaware of our combination—you are jamming them, right?” Cain had already been informed of the FTL capabilities of the Cylons, and was apparently expecting Fraslia to deal with them, and the voice was sternly expectant. “And that will, of course, allow us to achieve surprise.”

“Admiral, they are being jammed since your arrival—Commander Adama actually ordered it. We'd previously been trying to locate the Cylon spies with direction-finding equipment, but the arrival of your flag was to great a boon to permit us to let them transmit it. Ah, as for the matter of attacking immediately, however, if we're going to engage in coordinated offensive strategy we need the time to work up a common fleet code, or else operations will be awkward at best.”

Admiral Cain yielded to the logic of that. “Alright then, Baroness. I expect to see you and Commander Adama—inform him of this—aboard the Pegasus in an hour. I will extend a cordial invitation to President Roslyn to join us for this matter you wish to discuss.”

“Understood, Admiral. We will report as instructed.”

The line went dead. Adama stepped forward, away of the delicate matters at hand here. “I apologize, Commander, that Admiral Cain treated you like part of her chain of command when it was inappropriate for her to do so.” The position of apologizing for the actions of one of his superiour officers was not something that Adama really wished to find himself in, but Cain had simply left herself to open for misinterpretation.

“It's quite alright, Commander,” Fraslia answered affiably. I think that, seeing what she knows, and the lonely fight she's waged, I must forgive her.. And hope she will be more accomadating of the political situation.. She rose and turned to face Adama, ears sweeping back at a polite angle. “Commander, please, think nothing of it. I see here fifty thousand people who are as desperate as shipwrecks. I do not mind a little urgency from their protectors.”

Adama started to walk off the bridge to his ready room, glancing over to Tigh. “You have the bridge—until I return from the Pegasus.”


Leaving the presence of his subordinates behind, he started to speak freely, and not simply out of diplomatic courtesy as before. “I'm not one to be bothered. I'll be square with you. I want to keep you happy, Commander, because you're the ticket to the safety of these people here.”

“Your faith in me is generous. If they can go nowhere else, I would commission the construction of a few towers on my own land for them, though it be a sore thing for my poor Barony to support.”

“Towers, Commander?” Adama would always remain less loquacious than the Talorans.

“We don't like to despoil land under buildings and cities.. Our people, forced to build, build upward, and downward. Great developments of towers, a thousand or more stories high, and sometimes equally deep into the ground, a single one providing accomadation for fifty thousands, easily enough, or more, and all the businesses they would need. Anyway, it makes it easy enough to expand for the growth of one's family by removing partitions, so they've been popular in their own right.”

“Very different from our own cities. I don't think most of our people would be happy in them, quite frankly. Humans just need space.”

Fraslia had a vague, difficult expression on her face then, as she took to reclining somewhat casually against the wall, amber eyes on grizzled old Adama. “Ahh, Commander, I don't doubt that. But it's not just a human trait. I prefer my old and rambling family fortress, also.”

At the mention of family, Adama briefly had a distant look, yet it faded as fast as it had come to him. “That's the worst of the situation here,” he did speak, though. “None of these people have had a chance to bury their relatives or say the rites of the dead. Nobody even knows who is dead, or who is suffering something worse than that at the hands of the Cylons. And it doesn't seem like they'll ever be able to go home.

“They're not going to take the news of Earth being under your control well at all, Commander.. You should be aware of that and prepared for it.” Admiral Cain might not, either, but we'll deal with that when we come to it. Shortly.

“We will placate them as best we can...” Fraslia's ears bent downward, and Adama had begun to understand this mean a certain sort of distress. “If this whole incident leads to a general conflict, however, which seems likely, we shall regain their homes.”

“Let's not think to far ahead. We've got to prepare for the trip to the Pegasus, anyway.”

“Quite right, Commander.” Fraslia's ears perked up a bit and she straightened herself. “Let's go see what Admiral Cain has in store for us, then. But first I must send a message.”

“A message?”

“A status update to sector command.”

Adama was silent for a moment. Admiral Cain will probably not approve. She also doesn't have to know, and I'm not going to interfere with Commander Fraslia's duties. “Go ahead, Commander.”

*************** ***************** ******************

Lieutenant Chylisi had ended up with Baltar, working on the production of a sizeable quantity of their translation units. It had proved impossible. Nothing except mainframe computers on the Galactica had the necessary power to handle the translation algorithms. That meant they had to programme the mainframes and essentially hotwire the comm network to have more than half a dozen translators available.

In the meantime, Baltar was trying to figure out the strange creature in front of him. She wasn't attractive in an utterly human sense, but the exoticism of her alien nature and her utterly lush orange hair, combined with a generally flamboyant presentation, and topped off with a recognizably embarassed cuteness, was rather a bit to much for him in a mere working colleague.

At last he settled down in the laboratory, the efforts of their programming largely complete, and his own body exhausted by the running around they had to do to programme the appropriate disconnected mainframes in several areas of the ship. Chylisi was sweating from it, and had apologetically explained her origin in the far polar north of her homeworld; with it came a strange scent of crushed fern, grown stronger, the scent of her body unrestrained, and most Talorans did not seem to try and mask such things.

They were very relaxed together with each other, at this point, and Baltar somewhat misinterpreted it, especially the fact that Chylisi had stripped down to a halter top when she'd built up such a hefty sweat. It showed that she had breasts... Sort of. But a lack of an impressive rack (or really any of one at all) was not a limiting criterion for Baltar.

“Would you like to go out to get something to drink, Lieutenant Chylisi?” Baltar queried, and then added, a moment later.. “And, ah, what's your first name?”

“My given name, Doctor Baltar, is Syphonia. And your's..?” It had probably been said at some point, but she couldn't remember. A lack of sleep was beginning to press on her, badly.

“Ah. Gaius.” A smile came with the name.

“Gaius. A pleasure to be introduced informally.. Hmm. Unfortunately I must abstain from the drink. I'm on duty, after all.” She was, quite simply, far to oblivious to realize what Baltar's actual intent was.

“I think we've accomplished all that duty demands for the evening...”

“Duty never runs short. I have a whole family to uphold the honour of...”

Baltar followed the lead, conversationally, and showing some genuine interest beyond the tall and lean girl's pants... “You're a noble, then?”

“Ah, sort of. My mother is a Baronet, and I do stand in line to inheirit the Baronetcy, but we're very minor on the scale of such things. I don't have a title as the heir of a Baronet, save that of a Knight. We're thought of as nobility, but we don't have the right to sit even in the regional Parliament's Convocate. I'd just be called Dame Syphonia.”

“Do you like the power...?”

“Not really. To many restrictions. Responsibility, also; I'm more interested in computational methods and other things we've been working on here, for instance, than on all the ceremony...”

“Very serious. Have you ever dated someone before?”

“Uh, dated someone?” Chylisi squinted, confused. Though Talorans would, roughly, date in certain ways, it was closer to courtship.. And especially so for the Northerners. Half the year in Chylisi's home range it was deeply below zero, and that was not conductive to running out on late nights to meet men.

Baltar realized this wasn't going so well. “Well, you know... Had someone you were in love with..?”

“Oh! No, no I haven't. Straight off to the military academy for me.” She sort of made an innocently wry half-grin, ears nearly sticking straight out from her sides. What in all perdition is happening here?

That pallid and sickly gray-green flush that resulted from the question was somewhat repulsive to Baltar at a fundamental level, but he ignored it. There was a degree of visceral fascination in all of this, after all, even deeper than his sexual interest in the girl.

“We could solve that, you know....”

Chylisi started, and stared in shock, blatantly so even to a human, and flushing all the more darkly for it, coming out a nice shade of vomit green. “Why—but you're the Vice President! It would start an international incident and well you're an alien and we can't have children and.. You're pretty damn creepy!” Thoroughly flustered, Chylisi took an uncomfortable step back.

Baltar sighed. It had obviously not turned out remotely as well as he'd hoped for... Frenetically, though, he seized on another potential option which might serve as an icebreaker for a.. Slower relationship. So he tested something that Six had told him...

“You're a monotheist, right?”

Chylisi was a bit innocent of the situation even now, though vastly more wary of Baltar, and calmed down enough to answer the question. “Yes, of course. We all are—we're all monotheists, all worshippers of Farzbardor, the Lord of Justice. Even the humans we rule, almost entirely worship God, though under different names from us.”

She was right. Again. And even if they're helping us it may just be part of some broader plan. So far she's been right on almost everything and....

Of course I'm right, Six interrupted, a voice in Baltar's head only. And next time, Baltar, try to get to know a girl like that. She's probably never seen the interior of a nightclub and would regard casual hookups... Poorly. We know what's going to happen, and she's important for you.

The interjection, Baltar staring off into space right in front of the quizzical Chylisi, probably did not initially help his chances, though he recovered soon enough to look cautiously at Chylisi and compose himself for another question. “Ah, Well... Would you tell me about your religion?”

“After I get some sleep,” the Lieutenant answered, and took advantage of that moment to hastily leave the room for the little storage cubicle just down the hall where two mattresses laid end to end made a decent bed for her. She had finally grown entirely to uncomfortable with the very awkward, confusing, and indeed, 'creepy', situation... Everything from the pickup attempt to the strange bringing up of religion right after it, and Baltar's dreamy stares off into space, bothered her. It seemed so contrary to his obvious brilliance, which Chylisi did respect.

Baltar, for his part, was rather frustrated, confused, and hopeful, all at once.. Retreated into the confines of his laboratory, musing on a last memory of that flashing orange hair and deeply translucent-pale skin.

****************** ***************************** ****************

The meeting on the Battlestar Pegasus was a tense exposition. Only Roslyn was sitting, and then a chair had to be specially brought. The Talorans stood, never looking uncomfortable, with a rigid bearing. Everyone had to adjust to the idea of the briefing—and with it a very important discussion--not being conducted with any chairs at all, save the President's.

Admiral Cain, severe and long-haired, with a long face to unsettle her looks, though not to an age at which she was unattractive, seeme to have a genuine interest in the Talorans with their fine dress-whites and the Baroness' sea-blue cape, and the elaborate frogging of their uniforms. The medals focused in her attention, though.

“Tell me what they are, Commander?”

Fraslia's ears shifted to the Admiral, and she answered rather automatically. “From bottom to top, then, Admiral... The Rosbach Cluster campaign medal for the suppression of the Pirate Kingdom in a nebula there, the second is the campaign medal for the Uphanshad insurrection, I was in charge of a landing force.. Then the Bronze Sword of the Order of Intalasha II, gained in the Uphanshad insurrection, and two awards of the Civic Lifesaving Medal, both for unrelated actions in the contested boarding of pirate ships.”

“You've seen action, then, ground and space. Good.” Helena Cain smiled and glanced over the Talorans. “You'll have to forgive me, but I prefer to conduct meetings standing for the sake of my back, which bothers me when I'm seated.”

“Ah? Most unfortunate, Admiral. I could lend the services of my batgirl if you wish. She's made corsets before to straighten the spines of those who sometimes have curvature. Perhaps I could send her to size you, if you wish..?”

Admiral Cain waved her hand rather dismissively. “I can do without. We run a tight ship and frankly I find it sort of odd that you have such civilians on a warship.”

“Oh, Iraena is an enlisted rating. Just assigned to me to keep my things in order, Admiral. It's very common for all officers of some rank in the Imperial Taloran Starfleet. We have manpower aplenty, but..” Her ears flicked up. “We officers are worked to hard by our regimens to pay attention to personal hygiene or organization, so they take care of it for us.”

That apparently won Helena Cain over, for the moment, anyway. She turned to the next topic at hand. “What was going to be explained to me?”

Roslyn spoke up. “Admiral, I want to tell you first of all that I have heard everything that the Baroness of Istarlan is about to tell you, and it's all troubling, to be sure, but I have decided to work with the Talorans regardless of it, and they, for their part, acknowledge our independence.”

“Our independence?”

“Admiral, ma'am, my species claims suzerainty over your thirteenth colony. The Royalty of the Terran humans pledge loyalty to the All-Highest Empress, and the who of human space is part of the various protectorates of Her Serene Majesty.” Fraslia was very collected as she continued. “In no case are humans held to any lesser stature in the Empire; all are equal under the law regardless of race. And it is partly to prove to you that we have not abused your distant cousins, that I have chosen to take this stand. I will help protect your people for as long as I am able.

“Fundamentally, there could be nothing more opposed to such a concept than the Cylon genocidaires, and when full knowledge of the scope of this massacre of your people reaches our worlds, I am confident that we will wish to chastise them.” It was all a careful balancing out, for Fraslia was operating on her own authority, and sooner or later that would be superceded by the arrival of the Admiral Uluani, Duchess of Castar, the second granddaughter by the third child—and second son--of the current ruling Great Queen of Midela Colenta. Being of the male line and so outside the line of succession, she had no major appanage nor a seat in the Imperial Convocate because of it, and so had become a career military officer. She commanded all Starfleet operations in this expansion sector, and Fraslia was dearly hoping that she arrived with her rapid reaction force, which consisted of a division each of battlecruisers and light carriers plus escorts, in time for the engagement. That would make it truly decisive, or possibly make irrelevant any need to bring the enemy to battle to begin with.

Helena Cain listened to it all with pursed lips. She had seen to much in the past six and a half months to truly react to what she was being told. But there was something in it... “You'll fight, Baroness?” She queried coldly.

“Yes, I'll fight to help the convoy get clear.”

“You'll attack that Cylon trailing force?” Her eyes were a bit colder on account of having to look up very far to meet the amber of the Taloran's.

“Absolutely.” No hesitation. Fraslia was gambling her career on this whole endeavour... But more to the point, she'd come to like some of the humans she'd found here, admirable as they were in holding up under such circumstanecs.

“Any limitations? Anything you want?”

“Only one thing... I want some Cylons for our people to study. So we will take prisoners, if practicable. It would be nice to understand their nature.”

Admiral Cain chuckled. “Don't worry about it, Baroness. There's a Cylon—I wouldn't even consider it a prisoner--on our ship, and you can, quite frankly, just have it.” A speculative glance was given to Adama. “Do you have any Cylons, Commander?”

Adama frowned. “What do you have in mind, Admiral?”

“Answer the question, please.”

“Sir.” A moment: “Yes, we've got one in custody.”

“Then you can have two Cylons, Baroness. Sufficient?”

Fraslia watched the interplay carefully. Adama was clearly uncomfortable at losing his Cylon prisoner... Why? “Yes, that will be sufficient, Admiral. Such a prize as genetically engineered cybernetic beings created by sentient computers will, ah, prove a considerable boon to study in the Empire.”

Then the voice of conscience, it seemed, interrupted them. “I don't find the idea of handing prisoners over as party favors to be acceptable to the political government of this state, Admiral.”

Helena turned to look at President Roslyn, and now it was her turn to frown. “Madame President, what is the point of worry over the fate of two Cylons?”

“Our principles, among other important things.”

“We need the support of the Talorans, and so far this is the only request that their representative has made. I'm inclined to fill it, Madame President, from its importance in a military standpoint.”

Adama watched the confrontation between the two women uncomfortably, finding it not his place to interject but very troubled by how cavalier Admiral Cain had become toward the President. It was certainly more disturbing than the fact his mind had quietly filed, that she had shown no major response to the fate of the Thirteenth Colony.

Laura, for her part, sensed the tension in the room, and Billy, her only aide there, was quietly stewing at the way that Admiral Cain was running the show, and virtually dictating to the President. She was already still trying to digest how Cain didn't even blink at the fate of the Thirteenth Colony.

Fraslia, in the end, had to break the stalemate. “I will not kill them or dissect them or treat them inhumanely; I will accord them the same protections as one gives to a tame animal, depending on their level of sentience.” She deeply wished to speak to the Cylons before the battle began..

“That's none of my business, once they're in your hands... Madame President?” Cain looked back.

“I'll agree to it, for the sake of this operation, Admiral, though I expect that you will maintain some oversight on the fate of the Cylons we hand over to the Talorans.

“Good, and thank you, Madame President, that we've resolved this, because I want to execute it later today. I will, of course, make sure that we oversee their treatment.” Cain quickly changed the subject. “Moving along, it's time that we took down this trailing force, so that we can get the civvies out of here to Taloran space and then we'll be free to resume the offensive.”

Everyone—no, every human--stared at her. Helena Cain had exceeded all expectations; instead of proving cautious, or xenophobic like Tigh had initially been inclined to, the Admiral instead apparently had no problem with packing the civilians off to their uncertain fate in Taloran jurisdiction, all for the prospect of revenge upon the Cylons.

Fraslia, of course, thought it was perfectly sensible to send the civilians to Taloran space, so she just nodded her assent. “I admit I'm not comfortable with joint operations in such a short span of time, especially when we have reinforcements coming, but if you feel it utterly necessary, Admiral, then let us begin.” So much for my chance to study the Cylons first... But this is worth the risk to gain the sort of propaganda coup we need to deal with the latest round of human agitation over the independent powers in CON-5 and our expansion of interests there. Fraslia, indeed, had her own reasons beyond simple morality to support the Colonials so aggressively, remaining neutrally silent as Cain responded.

Cain smiled. “Good. Someone gets it, somewhat, anyway. There is, for the record, Baroness, no need to wait for reinforcements, and every reason to regain the momentum now. So shall we begin to discuss our options for the battle...?”
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-04-25 09:15pm

Chapter Seven

“What's the basic layout of the armament of the Jhammind, Baroness?” Admiral Cain paced lightly, a calculating expression as she stared, without intimidation, at the much taller Taloran woman. This was Cain in her element, coming up with appropriate tactics on the spur of the moment and immediately seeing them executed, that which had gotten her promoted to Admiral over half the Commanders on the List.

“Twelve heavy charged particle cannon comprise the energy armament. Our long-range armament is twenty-four light missile tubes to each broadside, all warheads nuclear tipped, and there's two five-tube launchers, one dorsal and one ventral, capable of bearing to either quarter, for point-blank heavy torpedoes, plus two such launchers fixed fore and aft each. Those torpedoes only have a very limited manoeuvring capacity but, ah, rather considerable acceleration at close range.” A pause, and Fraslia decided to give up the precise information. “About nine hundred Taloran gravities. I'm not sure how well that compares with your own acceleration factors...”

“But since it's a habitable planet, that's fast,” Adama finished.

“That's for sure,” Cain muttered softly. She hadn't fully had an idea before of the sheer ability of the Talorans. They seemed to have plenty of nukes, too, when the tylium enhanced warheads of the Pegasus were preciously short. But then again, are they tylium enhanced..? “What's the yield of those weapons, about, Baroness?”

“Ahh, I couldn't explain it well, but I will note that when I say nuclear, it's proper that they're actually anti-matter initiated fusion. An immensely small amount of anti-matter in an annihilation reaction produces enough energy to trigger a fusion detonation in the main warhead. This is a comprise between the power of anti-matter weapons and the safety considerations of carrying large amounts of anti-matter on ships, which would otherwise make them very vulnerable to destruction.”

“Anti-matter? Annihilation particles are largely theoretical for us...” Cain was frowning, but it seemed this also made her mind up, save for a final question: “Baroness, what is the strength of your ship's defences?”

“Good, for a ship of her size. The armament is light, but she's big for a cruiser so her hull is well-armoured and there's plenty of power for the shields. Anti-missile defence cannon and rocket launchers are quite copious in number.” Fraslia couldn't help but shift her ears at the confusion the reference to shields caused, but it was ignored by all, and she marked it down to a bad translation.

“Then I want you to go in close. If you can approach the Cylons without their firing on you, you may be able to unleash those heavy rockets of your's at point-blank at the central ship and then pull away while we arrive to either side and catch the Cylons between two fires. That is the basic plan, then. A swift head-on surprise attack by the Jhammind, and then the Pegasus as the hammer to the port and the Galactica as the anvil to the starboard.”

“Hmm. This would have to be closely timed, Admiral. Five of your minutes?”

“I'd prefer longer to suck them into launching their Raiders in pursuit. Then our own squadrons can hit them in the rear and completely finishing off this force.”

“During which time my ship will be under sustained fire...”

“Seven minutes, Baroness. Unless you don't think your ship can handle it...?”

“We will stand the fire, Admiral,” Fraslia answered somewhat diffidently. She let Admiral Cain control the discussion and agreed with everything nominally, but was bothered by the subtext of the whole conversation from the very start.

“Good. Then do you have any fighters you can deploy to the Galactica? Her wing is short.”

“None. The Galactica's bays lack the clearances necessary.”

Admiral Cain looked annoyed at herself that she hadn't thought of that, even as she glanced toward Adama, looking for confirmation.

“She's right, Admiral. They nearly sheared the wings off one of their shuttles trying to land the first time.”

“Unfortunate. Anything jump capable?”

“Eight assault ships, eight bombers. A half squadron each. I've got a full squadron of fighters also but I can only deploy them when we jump in to fight,” Fraslia clarified.

“Deploy those half squadrons under the Galactica's group command. As for your sublight fighters, you may want to hold back to fend off the Cylon raiders, Baroness.”

“I want to hit them as hard as I can in the first strike, Admiral, with all respect. I want to do them as much damage as possible before they start hitting us back, as I know they will, and hard, if we're going to be there unsupported for seven minutes, even if for the first few we're not engaged.”

“Don't wait so long to engage that they see your intentions are hostile and strike first, Baroness. It'll just hurt you more in the long run before we can arrive and make this whole thing far more costly than it should be.”

“I'll make that decision when the moment is at hand, Admiral. I won't let them get the jump on me, though, I assure you that.”

Admiral Cain scowled up toward the alien woman. “We're relying on you to take out the central ship. If your people are genuine in their sincerity..”

“They will be left ready for you to tear through, Admiral. I assure you, and I give you my word.”

Helena Cain stared for a dark moment longer, and then simply stepped forward to shift a few documents and flip to a position in them, designating band frequencies. “All acceptable IFFs will be on these sublight frequencies only, Baroness. You're act at your own competence before we arrive but...”

“With respect, Admiral, you're overstepping your bounds. I'm your ally, not your subordinate. I will take the action necessary to preserve my ship at all times.”

Roslyn—who up until then had been largely 'out of it' in the briefing thanks to her own exhausted condition that frequently manifest as her body battled cancer and, more and more, lost--realized she had to intervene at that point on behalf of the Talorans, as Admiral Cain seemed prepared to make a point of it. “Admiral, I do believe the Baroness has compromised enough, and her incredible willingness to aide us has already been amply demonstrated. She will handle her ship as she sees fit, and we should not press this issue with her.”

“The office of the President sets grand strategy for the military but should not interfere in tactical operations, which are the realm of professionals,” Admiral Cain ground out with a severe look toward Roslyn. “Such meddling is precisely what caused the disaster which saw the loss of our worlds...”

“And you are insulting that office,” Roslyn answered curtly. “Matters of alliance are firmly within the right of the Presidency, and you will obey my instructions in regard to the Baroness' ship, Admiral.”

Commander Adama looked like he was biting on nails as he watched the exchange between the Admiral and the President. It was not exactly what he had hoped from Cain, yet at the same time he was trying to understand her concerns... And certainly it was somewhat miraculous that she had taken so well all that she had discovered in the past twenty-four hours, after spending six months thinking her ship the last repository of humans alive in the universe.

“My apologies, Madame President.” Admiral Cain did not press the issue, but clearly looked very frustrated as she turned to Fraslia. “At any rate, you have your instructions to the limit at which I am authorized to give them. You will jump in against the enemy fleet in ten of our standard hours from this time and execute the operation as instructed. Understood, Baroness?”

“Of course, Admiral.” Fraslia dipped her ears, somewhat concerned by the behaviour of Admiral Cain, who seemed distinctly opposed to her own government. Yet at the same time there was something curious in Roslyn's behaviour, also. Her earlier objections to the transport of the Cylons had seemed... Extremely forced. But there was no time for that.

“Will you send shuttles with the Cylons aboard?”

“Of course. They'll be transferred to you within the next six hours.”

“Thank you, Admiral. I will return to the Jhammind, then, with your permission?”


The Taloran Baroness and her entourage left quietly on an untranslated order from Fraslia, and in doing so, left the humans alone with each other, and very many unanswered questions. Roslyn seemed the most eager to explain herself, as she stepped forward to the table, staring very sternly at Admiral Cain.

“Admiral. First of all, I will apologize, for I probably unsettled you with my defence of the toasters. But there was a reason for that. I am.. Uncomfortable with the idea of letting the Talorans look at them. There is a danger is sharing to much with them, yet the Baroness seemed very insistent on being allowed to do so. I wanted to establish the idea that we were protecting their rights... Either to get her to drop the idea, or, in this case... Precisely so that we would throw suspicion off ourselves when they mysteriously die.”

Admiral Cain smiled affiably. “Ah. Forgive me, Madame President, for doubting you, then. I can understand why you'd want to keep information about their design and intentions out of the hands of these aliens. But I suppose that just served to make everything very realistic. That said, it really was a tactical concern...”

“I want to walk a fairly fine line between using the Talorans and respecting them as allies, Admiral. In that sense I do ask that you cede to me. Certainly you can adjust for their likely behaviour in the fight, especially considering you feel that the Pegasus and Galactica could take the enemy task force on their own?”

Cain responded as Roslyn had hoped to her questioning, with a tad indignation but certainly desire to prove the point: “Of course I can.”

With that point settled, Adama realized that he had to intervene or else Roslyn and Cain would go right on to planning the murder of the Cylons in their possession. And potentially cause a very serious incident with the Talorans.. And even ignoring the diplomatic repercussions can I really tolerate having her killed like that? Then he realized that he'd referred to the Sharon copy, for the first time, as her, rather than it. And stopped short by it, he wasn't able to intervene before the conversation on the method of the Cylons' murder continued merrily on its way.

“Now, about your plan to deal with our captive Cylons before the Talorans can get ahold of them, Madame President?”

"I was hoping your medical personnel could offer some advice on the matter."

"One moment." Cain stepped away and reached for a phone, where she began to converse with the Pegasus' CMO.

“Implant modified pacemakers,” the woman answered after having the situation explained. “If they malfunction that they can easily in fact cause the heart attack they're normally designed to prevent. We'll rig them go off right at the same time the battle starts. It can easily be seen as a sort of self-destruct command. Even if the Talorans find them the can be easily convinced that it is just the toasters' way of suiciding their own agents. And since it's a piece of normal medical equipment any cursory tests they do before the battle won't indicate it.”

“That should work fine,” Cain answered, vaguely smiling now. "Thank you, Doctor." She hung up the phone into the intercom system, and stepped back over to the tense air of the gathering, and a distinctly uncomfortable-looking Adama, along with an expectant Roslyn.

"My CMO has recommended we implant modified pacemakers into the Cylons. They can be mistaken when they're activated on timers at the height of the battle for suicide-signals sent by the Cylon ships to destroy their own agents, easily enough, and as normal medical equipment they won't cause suspicion, until after they've already produced massive heart-attacks in the Cylons. There's no way to pin it on us, just like you desired," Admiral Cain concluded. “I imagine we both have the resources to rig that up. Our Chief Medical Officer can easily perform the work, since she made the proposal, and I assume your's can do the same.."

“Our's has certain ethical issues...” Roslyn answered with a frown. “Strangely. But to save time, I do know one doctor in the fleet who will do it. Certainly, at least, I approve of the procedure myself. It seems to be the best way to get rid of this.. Problem of our's."

“The civilian ships are useful for something, then,” Cain laughed lightly, though the whole exchange just made Roslyn stare dubiously for a moment. Admiral Cain's utter contempt for the position of the civilian fleet was very worrying.

“They are our only hope. Indeed, considering the risks of battle, perhaps some supplies could be transferred over first...?”

“Before this conversation goes on, Madame President, Admiral,” Adama finally spoke up, having decided to instead focus his conversation on the issue of the Taloran response, “I have to lodge a protest over the decision to implant the Cylons with those pacemakers. It will be very suspicious, no matter the circumstances in which they die, that both died at once. The idea of a suicide command from the enemy fleet may not be treated seriously, because the information I got from Commander Fraslia on the Jhammind's electronic warfare capabilities suggests to me that the Talorans do extremely heavy blanket jamming, and they will be dubious of a kill-signal being able to get through that without their being able to, at least, detect that it was sent.”

“I don't find that risk to be a worthwhile reason to let the Talorans get their hands on the Cylons.” Roslyn paused for a moment, and then, revealed her underlying reasons and the motivation for the deception in the fullest: “Billy was talking with some of their junior officers, and they were very open about the fact that they're monotheists just like the Cylons. Quite dedicated ones, too. Their ruler is called the Heir of the Sword of God, and they can be quite violent about their religious profession. They may be our allies right now, but there's no guarantee that they'd remain that way if the Cylons can start talking to them.”

“Commander Fraslia hasn't mentioned religion once. It doesn't seem particularly important to her,” or to me, “while killing test subjects you just sent to someone, in secret, would be an overtly hostile act if discovered.”

“Commander Adama, it's a worrying development no matter what,” Admiral Cain answered. “And at this point, something very much in the President's area of control.” She seemed pleased to be turning the tables on her subordinate. “So of course the military will respect her final decision on the matter.”

Roslyn finally had the power, though, to 'space the toaster', even if strictly metaphorically, and she was not about to avoid using it. “I have made up my mind, Commander Adama, and I have instructed your superiour to carry out the operation. You can take it up with her if you have any problems with my decision.”

Helena Cain smirked faintly, and then, turning very serious, looked directly at Commander Adama. “Commander, you are hereby directly ordered to arrange for the implantation of the rigged pacemaker in your captive Cylon and turn it over to the Talorans within the next six hours, as was agreed with the Baroness Fraslia. I have no choice but to issue that order, considering the danger that we have in our, ah, 'allies' turning against us should they discover details of Cylon culture.”

Adama's gruff response showed precisely what he thought of the whole affair: “I want it in writing.”

Without answering him, Helena Cain pulled a pen out of one of her pockets, leaned over the table in the middle of the room, snatched a piece of paper, and wrote out the same statement she had just said aloud in shorthand, signing it elegantly and at once lifting the paper up and presenting it to Adama with an arrogant flourish. “There are your orders, Commander. Now go execute them at once. You are dismissed.”

After Adama left and with him the other officers, the Admiral and the President faced each other in the briefing room alone. Legally the two most powerful individuals surviving in the colonies, they held the fate of the bands of their survivors in their hands, for good or ill.

“Madame President, why didn't you bring up the Talorans' religious inclinations beforehand?”

“I don't want to alienate them,” Roslyn admitted. “Everything has gone so peacefully so far, and the Baroness Fraslia has been very obliging of us. There's no reason to have an enemy ahead of us as well as at our backs, if we can help it. That's the real reason for getting rid of the Cylons. What they don't know about the Cylons can't hurt us—or them, for that matter.”

“I was pushing the Baroness,” Admiral Cain admitted after a moment. “I find it quite suspicious that she is offering us so much help. It seems to be beyond what an officer of a neutral power would have a right to do... Unless she were operating under specific instructions to the contrary. I can't help but wonder if they know more about us than they're letting on. It made me uncomfortable, so I was pushing them as hard as I could to see where the limits of those instructions are. And they're primarily around not indulging in to great a risk for the Talorans themselves, it seems. Practical, but it makes me wonder about whatever orders could be driving them in the first place.”

“It seems a very delicate subject. We can't really raise it, and we can only speculate on it. And the Baroness might well be honest within the limits of her instructions yet leaving things out regardless.”

“Perhaps you should trust me a bit more here, Madame President. Your prior experience was in education. This is a very delicate thing, handling military operations with a race we scarcely understand.”

Roslyn turned cold. “Admiral, you will remember your place. I may not have experience, and so I will ask for advice, and you will give it. But never question my right to control the military. Civilian control is sacred to every principle of our government and our democratic system, and none of that has changed.”

“Of course, Madame President.” Admiral Cain replied quite stiffly. “Well, then, with your permission I will leave to commence final operational planning, and arrange an escort for you to return to Colonial One.”

“Very well, Admiral.” If only I was still dealing with Adama! Cain on top of the Talorans is to much, for all that he wants to protect the damned toaster... But there was a battle soon to be fought, and that was a more important concern. For the moment.

************* ************************* ***********************

Commander William Adama was faced with one of numerous difficult decisions he'd made over the course of operations since the destruction of the Twelve Colonies. He had just been given written orders, after all, to preside over the execution of someone who had proved exceptionally valuable to the fleet. And that execution was taking place right now. On Admiral Cain's orders, with President Roslyn's concurrence, another doctor named Robert from the fleet had been brought over and was now operating on the copy of Sharon who had helped them so much. The.. More than a copy, he had to remind himself.

The procedure was one which, though extremely simple and non-invasive even to the rather primitive Colonial medicine, shouldn't result in the patient being immediately sent into unknown hands. Of course, it was scarcely matter if the modifications to the pacemaker operated as intended. In another five hours, Sharon would be dead then. And the Talorans will have every reason to believe us utterly faithless, and with plenty of things to hide.

Waiting in an antechamber for Sharon to recover so that she could be transferred, Adama found himself mulling over how creatively he could interpret his orders. He wanted dearly to secure the support of the Talorans, and realized how important it would be for their long term survival. To him, that meant getting Commander Fraslia, as he thought of her, to trust them. And this plan, regardless of the morality of taking Cylon life in such a situation or no, was against every effort at trust between the two species that could possibly be established.

Then the difficult decision was, quite simply, made somewhat more complex. Two men rushed into the room, and one of them was as tall as the Talorans still on the ship: Helo, and with him, Chief Tyrol, and as Adama turned toward them in annoyance at their disrespectful bursting-in on him, he also at the same time realized exactly why they had come. There was no doubt the news must have spread through segments of the Galactica's crew very fast.

“What do you want, Lieutenant?” He addressed Helo as the ranking member of the party, and quite formally.

The two men somewhat apologetically came to a halt before him, and to attention, offering a salute which was returned. “Sorry, Sir,” Helo began. “But, well, we've heard that... That Sharon is being sent to the Taloran ship. Is that true?”

“It is. The Taloran Commander requested Cylons to study, and Admiral Cain consented with the request.”

“But sir! We have no idea what will happen to her...” Helo was doing all of the talking. Tyrol was angry enough to accompany him, but couldn't find the words to carry on the argument from his own conflicted emotions. So, arms folded, he just stood his ground and let Helo do his best.

Adama put a stop to that nonsense right away, however. Our own President is much more interested in having the Cylon prisoners dead than Commander Fraslia is, I'm certain. “I'm certain that the Commander has no such intentions. She just wants to interrogate them for herself. However, if the issue is that important to you both personally, I'll send you over to the Jhammind with it,” and he carefully avoided saying 'her' here to avoid letting his own feelings be known on such a precarious issue, “Where you can make sure it's treated humanely. Don't even think about trying for anything else, Lieutenant.”

“Of course, Sir. I'll pilot her over myself,” Helo answered.

Adama relaxed a bit. “Then go get ready, Helo. She's being transferred in thirty minutes.”

“Sir.” After the two saluted and left, still in consternation, but their immediate insubordinate impulses having been quieted by the promise of being able to accompany Sharon, Adama himself headed over for sickbay just a few doors down. Inside, Layne Ishay was blocking his path to the surgical chamber.

“Is the procedure finished, Medic?”

“Yes, Sir!” Layne looked up, somewhat in surprise. “Doctor Robert has already left,” and saying his name revealed some discomfort, which was shared. The man seemed... Had always seemed, somewhat ethically dubious. But he was one of three trained medical doctors in the whole fleet, not counting those aboard the Pegasus, and so worth his weight in gold.

“Is the Cylon awake yet?”

“'Should be, almost, Sir.” Layne was frowning. “I don't understand why the procedure was done, though.. Or even precisely what. We weren't allowed in during the operation, just a few med techs from the Pegasus aided Doctor Robert...”

“I know. I can't explain it either.” He was rather kind, though, toward the woman who had kept him alive during those dark days some months before.

“Well, whatever it is, Sir, it was a major procedure, and I'm very uncomfortable about having her transferred so soon afterward, to a ship where nobody is trained in huma physiology...”

“I don't want to lose a medic when we're on the verge of battle, if you're asking to accompany it.”

“You could hold some of the Pegasus' medical staff aboard who were present for the operation. Their own medical departmetn is overstaffed from their crew size now, Sir,” she explained helpfully.

“Hmm. Alright. But I want in to see it, right now. Alone.” Adama's mind was actually made up by a final piece of the puzzle, of how to get out of this otherwise impossible situation.

“Yes Sir!” She turned toward the door and opened it for Adama, who walked in to find the Sharon clone strapped down to a medical guerney for transport in five-point restraints, already, so soon after the procedure. It was clearly intended as an effort to make it look like the Cylon was actually just heavily sedated to prevent violence during the transfer rather than actually recovering from a surgical procedure.

As he walked over to the bed, Sharon's eyes opened. She was alert, even if groggy, and staring up, squinting a bit toward Adama, managed to phrase the slurred question: “Why?”

He didn't mince words. “They put a device inside of you rigged to cause massive heart failure in about five hours, to look like other Cylons triggered it, sort of a dead man's switch for prisoners.”

Adama didn't relish the terror which was evidenced on Sharon's face then. It reminded him far, far to much of the old Sharon. It reminded him this being was quite capable of being afraid of death, most of all. And afraid for the delicate problem which existed in its womb.

“I'm under orders to let this happen. But don't worry. You're being sent to the Taloran ship, the Jhammind. When you arrive, ask immediately to speak to Commander Fraslia. Tell her the following: 'Regards from Commander Adama, but my superiours don't trust you, and they've set the Cylons up to die on you before you can speak to them. But, Commander to Commander, and out of decency, I won't let it happen.' And then tell them that you—and the other Cylon prisoner—have pacemakers implanted to overload and cause heart attacks within several hours.' Medic Ishay is being sent with you and she can guide the Taloran doctors in how to disable the devices.

“Understand that I'm not doing this just for you. And if you care about the fleet and Helo as much as you claim to, you'll do your best to keep our relations with the Talorans from undergoing a breach over this. Understood?”

“Yes, yes Commander. I... Oh, God, thank you so much.” Sharon had the look of someone clinging to a singular hope, then.

“Don't thank me. Thank Commander Fraslia and her medical team. I'm just making sure the word gets to the right place.” With that, Adama turned around and left, not paying any more attention to the Cylon. He hadn't, as such, violated his written orders. But more importantly, he was giving a chance to the stubborn and honourable Taloran commander out there to prove that their two peoples could, indeed, function together as allies, and perhaps as friends.

*********** ****************************** ******************

“Rasamblid Heir, tell me—do you think that what I'm doing is wrong?” Fraslia sat in her ready room with her executive officer over a cup of dphou. “Speak honestly, since we are both members of the nobility and companions in rank and honour.”

“You are doing to much for the humans, yes. And I am not comfortable going into this battle, especially having assigned our bombers and heavy patrol craft to the Galactica's command. You're too willing to accomadate them, and it's causing a considerable degree of murmuring in the crew. People are wondering what the rationale, what the justification is, for involving the whole Empire in a war not of our making, simply on the word of some humans.”

“I will tell you as much as I can tell you, then.” Fraslia answered, ears swept back somewhat in frustration, and anger, as she took another sip of the hot drink. “I'm operating under sealed orders, for starters.”

Oh!” Dhamis looked at once quieted. “I wish they could be explained to me, and the whole of the officers, at least. This is very unfortunate.. But you seemed genuinely surprised at meeting this colonial fleet.”

“I was, and I am. We were not expecting anything of this magnitude. But the orders are, nonetheless, very clear, and my interpretation is simply to follow them even under these circumstances. An interpretation which I have no doubt will be born out.”

“It's unfortunate, Captain. But of course we'll fight hard for you, even if the crew has doubts.”

“I'm sure you can fight smartly, as well. You're an educated heir of a noblewoman, Dhamis, and you can think about strategic politics. What has been going on of late in our human protectorates in regard to the CON-5 universe?”

“I.. I think I see what you mean.”

“Good. Then you know everything that you can know. We will treat humans as well as any other subjects of the Empress, and give them... No cause for complaint. Even at the cost of strife.”


“Well, then, I think it's about time that we call the ship to Condition Two once again. Everyone has had enough rest since the scare with the Pegasus and we jump into battle in less than four hours.”

“Of course, Captain, I'll get....” Dhamis trailed off as Fraslia's personal comm trilled loudly with an urgent message.

“Captain Fraslia here.”

“Your Ladyship, it's Doctor Frysi. The Cylon prisoners we've received are in a... Very unusual condition. And one of them wishes to speak to you. We've also received three humans aboard with them from the Galactica's crew who said they were assigned to guard their prisoners and insure their health. When they refused to leave after boarding without authorization they were detained...”

“Detained!? Alasia told me nothing about this,” Fraslia was black with anger, her ears folding down, as she wondered why the usually competent officer of the ship's Marine contigent hadn't told her.

“Ah, I got them released, because one is a medic, and the condition of the Cylon prisoners is very strange. For the record, they're genetically human, and I'm still trying to figure out what makes them different from humans. But, also, something has been done to them, one of them knows what it is, and she's insisting to talk to you.”

“I'll be down momentarily.” Fraslia got up immediately. “Rasamblid heir, take the ship to Condition Two. You have the bridge until I return, and then transfer to secondary control.”

“Understood, Captain.” Dhamis saluted, fist to chest and straight out in the Taloran fashion, and left only a hair behind Fraslia, though then they parted and went in opposite directions.

It didn't take long to reach sickbay, and Fraslia rushed in to see Doctor Frysi conferring with a human medic she remembered from her visit to the Galactica's sickbay. Two humans, who must be the Cylons, were laid out on examination tables. One of them had the usual boring black hair of a human; the other one looked not unlike a Dalamarian, though she was by far the worse for wear. A Marine guard was standing uneasily by two human men in the far corner of the room, who looked themselves rather angry.

“What's the situation, Doctor?”

“The one Cylon,” Frysi gestured toward the Dalamarian-like one, “Was extremely physically abused, and I've put her under for the moment because of her very precarious mental state and to get a scope on the physical abuse... Which includes sexual abuse.”

“Sexual abuse, of prisoners?” Fraslia's ears flattened, and she pivoted on heel to face the two humans, one of whom bore the rank of a Lieutenant. “What kind of savages are you? To think that I have presumed to help your people...!”

Helo's anger didn't go away, and, indeed, the statements only stoked it: But not at the Talorans. “May the gods forgive us, Commander, but I don't know. I was as shocked as you! We brought Sharon over from the Galactica, and she's fine, except this procedure I don't know about, which was ordered... By Admiral Cain on the Pegasus. I don't know what they did with their own prisoner, none of us do... And I'm boiling mad over it! It is savage. We don't even know what's been done to them now, but I know that Sharon wants to talk to you, urgently.”

Fraslia looked back to Doctor Frysi. “Is she awake? Did she indeed ask for me?”

“Yes on both counts,” Frysi answered, her body posture informing Fraslia of the generalized discomfort the whole situation was causing for her.

Fraslia at once walked over to the side of Sharon's bed. “Cylon prisoner... You have a message for me?”

Sharon managed a wisp of a smile. “My name is Sharon. I, ah.. Yes. Commander Adama told me to tell you this: 'Regards from Commander Adama, but my superiours don't trust you, and they've set the Cylons up to die on you before you can speak to them. But, Commander to Commander, and out of decency, I won't let it happen.' Verbatim, even.”

“Do you know how?” Fraslia leaned in close, yellow eyes insistent.

“Pacemakers, implanted in both of us... And set up with timers to produce an electrical charge, during combat with the enemy fleet, to cause a heart-attack. It would look like they send signals for us to... Self destruct... Apparently.”

Fraslia straightened, and looked to Frysi. “Can you disable them?”

“It's very old technology. We don't have the mechanisms, especially with another design, to disable them directly. But my second, Doctor Ghimalia, has a fair amount of training in human biology because she was CMO of a mixed-race destroyer before this assignment. She could do the operations to remove the implants but she'd need to start immediately if these things are going to go off in four hours at the most. The operations will have to be partially simultaneous and she'll probably still be closing them up during the battle. There's no way to avoid it...”

Fraslia looked back to Sharon, and the next question was very gentle: “Were you violated in any way, madame?”

“No. But...” A brave smile, and a weak gesture in Helo's direction. “He is the father of my child. And quite willingly.”

“Well, well. That is a story for another time, I suppose. Doctor, you knew?”

“Yes. Just another complication. This was a hastily done procedure, and they wanted int to look like they were heavily sedated for travel—they actually did a good job of that, if I hadn't detected the physical abuse on the one I would have never bothered to look closely enough to realize the surgeries had taken place—but they really shouldn't have been up and about for another several hours.”

“So their scheme was sunk by their own brutality on the one hand, and by Commander Adama's honour on the other,” Fraslia mused aloud. She looked to Layne. “You'll assist in the operation?”

“Of course, Commander. That's why I'm here, I think, though I didn't know it at the time.”

“Good. Doctor Frysi, summoner Doctor Ghimalia and have her start at once.” She looked over to the two human men and the guard with them. “Corporal, conduct them to guest quarters...”

“We'd like to help in the fight if we can, Commander.” Tyrol interjected.

“I.. I hope we can at least show that we're not all as faithless as Admiral Cain,” Helo added.

“Hmm. Well, you're trained in damage control?”

“Of course,” Helo answered for them both. “It's mandatory.”

“Here, too. Vacuum suits for both of you?” At the nods she got, she continued: “I suppose the fire-fighting apparatus is quite universal and you can learn it well enough in four hours. Alright, then, Corporal, have them collect their vacuum suits and then report to central Damage Control to receive assignments to a fire-fighting crew. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a ship to fight.” And with that, Fraslia strode off, musing something in her head. Commander Adama, you are truly noble among that pack of schemers. I would do anything to see you in charge of them over your arrogant Admiral and your duplicitious President. But would you take the post, if I dared offer it to you by main force? And in the meantime it is your honour alone which keeps me willing to fight for this fleet, that and the knowledge that the civilians must be innocent of the machinations of such a government that they are thoroughly unworthy of suffering under. No wonder their worlds were lost..
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-04-28 07:53am

Chapter Eight

“Commander Adama, Sir. There's a message for you from the Taloran lieutenant aboard, ah, Chylisi.” The message came in to Adama's private office from Dualla.

Adama looked at the chrono on the wall. Fifty minutes until operations begin. Need to head to the bridge after I deal with this.... “I've got it.” He picked up the receiver/transmitter attachment to the intercom system. “Yes, Lieutenant?”

“Commander, Sir, Her Ladyship wants to talk to you via a secure communications channel I've established. I can hotwire this line into it...”

“Do so.”

“Stand by for receipt...” Chylisi answered calmly, and then a moment later...

“Commander Adama, this is Commander Fraslia. You are receiving me? I have an urgent matter to discuss.”

Adama waited for the lag time in the transmission to clear and then answered: “Roger that, you're coming through loud and clear. What can I assist you with?” He suspected he already knew, of course.

“I found out about the situation with the two Cylons. They're currently in surgery under one of my doctors who has experience with human anatomy and the aide of your medic you sent. A smart and honourable response to an impossible situation, Commander, and I commend you for it.”

Adama had to suppress an urge to sigh with relief. The situation was not going to go pear-shaped after all, it seemed, though it easily could have. Fraslia's next words, however, made his blood run cold...

“We found out that the Cylon from the Pegasus had been viciously abused, and sexually abused at that. Really, Commander, that you are under the command of such a tyrannical Admiral makes me pity your position. If you must, execute them, but torture? By God, never.”

Adama's hand clenched the receiver very, very tightly. “I can assure you, Commander Fraslia, on my word as a Colonial Officer, that I ordered no such treatment of my own prisoners nor did I have any knowledge of Admiral Cain allowing such a breakdown in discipline aboard the Pegasus. I.. Frankly, if I did not trust you I'd be unable to believe those allegations.”

“Perhaps, Commander, you should think twice before swearing on the honour of your service,” was Fraslia's cool reply, and it struck Adama where it hurt. How could he answer? He stiffled an angry impulse and took it without complain, knowing that the rebuke was well-justified.

“You have my personal word, then, Commander. Will you still be aiding us in the forthcoming operation...?”

“Only if you answer a question to my satisfaction, Commander. Why are the Cylons humans?”

“They're not. How could your doctors make such an assertion?”

“They're genetically identical. There are some deformities and deficiencies, but these are certainly the result of genetic manipulation, radioactive exposure, possibly a cloning process. We've detected cybernetic implants, which is no surprise, but they're fully within the human baseline genetically. Are you really fighting another group of humans, Commander Adama?”

“No.” Commander Adama's answer was flat and unequivocable, as he realized now that to answer this the wrong way would surely place the fleet in an impossible position. “The Cylons are, exactly as we said, sentient robots which rebelled against us and escaped to create their own society. They have been tinkering with people to produce copies of us which are, I believe, mechanically enhanced and changed for their own ends. You said yourself that there were changes in them, the result of manipulation. They're a.. A parody of human life created for the ends of a robotic race.”

“Parody, perhaps. But they are living, sentient creatures, with souls, no matter how thoroughly their bodies may have been twisted by the aims of such an inscrutable group as a race of intelligent machines. And though the machines themselves may be destroyed out of hand, it would be immoral to, having taken them as prisoners, treat these human-form Cylons as anything other than POWs. Do so in the future, Commander Adama, and make sure all of your people do so, or else I cannot promise my support. But for the moment, because of your own stand on this difficult matter, I have made the decision to carry on with my place in the attack.”

Commander Adama began to speak in reply, but Lieutenant Chylisi's voice came on: “I'm sorry, Sir, but the transmission has been disconnected at the source!”

“It's not a problem, Lieutenant. Your commander has every reason to be furious right now. And it's a sign of her decency that she isn't taking it out on the fleet. Carry on.” He disconnected the line himself, and settled back with a heavy sigh, this time.

************** ******************************* *********************

“Is there any way for us to detect the possibility of burst transmissions from the Jhammind?” Helena Cain was preparing to go into battle, but at the moment her interest was more on determining the loyalty of her ally, though the news in the briefing room was not positive. The continued exchange of coded messages between the Jhammind and what was presumably the Taloran contigent on the Galactica had bothered her.

Major Barry Garner, the Chief Engineer of the Pegasus, had no good answers for his commander. “The only thing we have on the ship capable of interacting with an FTL environment, Admiral, are the stardrives themselves. We'd have to take them offline and possible risk damage to them to detect any local irregularities which might be caused by the transmission of such messages.. And we'd still have no way of decoding them.”

“Frack it all. This will require a major reverse engineering effort. Which will probably be unnecessary thanks to whatever political settlement comes about.”

Cain's XO looked interested at that. “What do you think is going to happpen with that, exactly, Admiral?”

“Forget about our independence,” Helena Cain answered sharply, and left her crew with glum expressions as they digested the sincerity of what she had just said to all of them. “We haven't got any chance of preserving it. There's, what, fifty thousand survivors in the fleet, and a couple million at most scattered across our dozen worlds, living like cave-men or in Cylon experimentation camps? There's no question of being able to form a cohesive government out of that which can deal as an equal with the Taloran Star Empire. We don't know how large it is, yet, but the implication we are getting from the information the President has sent us is that the Empire is very, very large indeed. Only I have had a chance to look at it, of course,” she'd refused to disseminate it to anyone else, “but the Vice President—that damned scientist from the Colonies, Baltar—estimates that they probably have hundreds of worlds as populated as the Colonies. We're talking about a galaxy-spanning civilization of immense wealth and power.”

“Well, at least they'll be able to annihilate the fracking toasters for us, Sir.” Fisk muttered sourly. “I still can't believe you think that the situation is that dire, though.”

“Believe it,” Cain answered curtly. “It's not utterly hopeless, however. The Talorans seem to like integrating other peoples into the Empire. What use is the joke of a 'Colonial Government' that 'President' Roslyn is running, anyway? As soon as we can talk to someone in the Taloran government more important than a mere ship Commander, we'll be able to make some progress toward a more effective settlement.”

“And what sort of settlement would that be?”

“Our incorporation into the Taloran Star Empire under a regimented military government with full autonomy, which could bring in human colonists from the worlds founded by the Thirteenth Colony to repopulate our own and any others that we gain, and the acquisition of all Cylon reasons captured during their extermination.”

“But that would mean the total end of human independence!”

“Temporarily,” Cain answered with a laconic smirk. “By obtaining such a position of wide latitude and prestige with plenty of resources, we can begin a buildup, and start making connections with the human governments, which would ultimately lead to a unified war of independence. Humanity was strong enough from the Thirteenth Colony's founding that only their disunity, it seemed, caused the Talorans to move in. If we can serve in secret as a unifying body of human power, we can certainly wage a liberation war to free all of humanity from Taloran domination. But until then, we will have to make deals with the Talorans, and we will have to work as hard as possible to make sure those deals give us, the military, the supreme power necessary to regiment the survivors of our society into a solid, organic whole which can form the catalyst for the later liberation movement.”

“That's grim medicine to swallow, Admiral, but if you think it's the only strategy we can follow...”

“It is.”

“Then we'll do it. The crew will be loyal to you through it all, that I can promise you, Admiral.”

“I'm not worried about the Pegasus,” Cain smiled grimly. “I'm worried about the Galactica.”

Barry Garner glanced up at the chrono and spoke up nervously, again. “Admiral, it's time I left to get back to engineering. We're due to jump soon.”

“Dismissed.” Cain got up herself, looking to Fisk. “To your duty station, Colonel. We're going to Conidtion One as soon as I get back to the bridge.”

“Aye Aye, Admiral.”

They left to their posts, Admiral Cain striding onto the bridge of the Pegasus, confident and proud. “Set Condition One, Battle Stations. Fleet signals: Set Condition One, Battle Stations.”

She settled down in her acceleration chair in the command post on the bridge, waiting for the readouts to all turn green to indicate full combat readiness. “Galactica reports ready!” The communications officer reported.

Damage control: “We are buttoned up and go!”

But it was two more minutes before the communication came in from the Jhammind: “We are standing by at Condition One.”

Hmm. “Takes them longer,” she remarked idly. “I wonder if it's because they all suit up before combat? We'll have to see if that's really worthwhile or not.”

She smiled grimly. “Order the Jhammind to attack as instructed. Deploy Raptors and Taloran FTL craft in designated positions and await my signal to jump.” Which will come a minute later than I agreed with Fraslia—she can last that long, I'm sure.

************** ******************************** ******************

Onboard the Jhammind, Fraslia had been mulling over the nature of her orders after her last conversation with Adama. In the end she had decided to attack as planned, but then spent the last of her available time composing an extensive and detailed message defending her policy to the Sector Admiral, and sent it out along with the ship's logs and 'last records', Will and Testament updates and other information from the crew, as was typical before entering an expected military engagement of a serious nature.

Then she addressed the crew: “My children,” she began informally in the Ghastan style, as though she were the mother of them all, and in some sense she was, “We are going into combat against a race of intelligent machines, who pervert the teachings of God through the hideous manipulation of the genome of sentient species. They are genocidaires, responsible for the deaths of perhaps a hundred billion sentients. We will punish them for this intransigence, and in so doing allow this poor fleet of refugees a reprive, and a chance to escape to the welcoming arms of the Empire. Fifty thousand innocent lives rest on the performance of your duty today, and the Honour of your Faith and your Empress demand their salvation. Do not fail them, or that sacred honour, and show yourselves to be hewn from true Taloran fighting stock today. Your Captain, out.”

“Condition One, Action Stations.”

The klaxons began to blare all over the ship while pulsating orange lights chased each other in bright flashes down the corridors and in circles on the ceilings of the ship's compartments while the ominous message from Comms central thundered alongside the painful sound of the klaxons: “CONDITION ONE! CONDITION ONE! CONDITION ONE! ALL HANDS SUIT UP AND REPORT TO ACTION STATIONS. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

All over the ship, the crew pulled on full vacuum suits, locked their helmets into place and double-checked the seals and confirmed airtight integrity, and then immediately went off to their assigned duty stations for Condition One, Combat, at a disciplined jog, whilst as soon as areas had their assigned personnel compliments the local damage-control direct for that section activated the controls which slammed shut the massive internal bulkhead spacetight doors, locking in each section of the crew but also providing the maximum damage-resistance for the whole of the Jhammind. Crewers would die, but the ship would fight on. The only exception was for sickbay, where the necessity of being able to retreat the injured required the personnel to be unsuited, especially since two surgeries were still ongoing under Doctor Ghimalia. The area was heavily shielded and equipped with its own power generators, located right against the central keel of the ship, but it was still risky.

“All sectors report ready,” came the message to Fraslia from Lieutenant Ersmui, the chief Damage Control Officer. “We are buttoned down for Condition One, Action Stations.”

“Report ready to Admiral Cain.”

“Aye aye, Your Ladyship,” WO Ghrastik replied from comms.

It didn't take long for him to return Cain's reply:

“Admiral Cain signals us to execute the combat jump immediately.”

“We've got the position bearings on the enemy squadron, Lieutenant Aranmidh?” She queried to the Astrogator.

“Confirmed and locked in.”

“Jump the ship.”

Tearing through jump space, even across the distance of two systems, took rather long for the Jhammind compared with the Colonial ships and their faster FTL drives. But it was over rapidly enough, and then an incredible image presented them, two masive Baseships with their double-trefoil hulls, one to other side of the skeletal shape of the carrier between them, a few smaller pickets on the fringes, and a couple squadrons of Raiders on patrol. All of them very close by Taloran standards.

“Close with the enemy, one-eighth sublight acceleration.”

“Aye aye Your Ladyship,” the devilishly cheerful helmswoman answered.

“Lieutenant Ivstar,” she contacted the central battery director station, “bring up gunnery solutions for forward torps and cannon on the central vessel. Turnable tubes on the starboard enemy heavy, not the central ship, and all missile tubes on the larboard heavy.”

“Understood, Your Ladyship.”

The squadron was growing closer and closer as the Jhammind approached. The Cylons were changing nothing, nothing whatsoever in their posture yet...

“Your Ladyship, we're being hailed by the central Cylon vessel,” Lieutenant Commander Risima reported, the blonde Dalamarian—responsible for handling all enemy signals in a fight--looking quizzically to Fraslia. “Shall we respond?”

“Any indication that you can detect them raising shields yet?”

“Negative.” Against the Dalamarian pressed the question: “Shall we answer, Your Ladyship...?”

“Let them eat static, Risima.” Fraslia grinned coldly.

“Aye aye.” The blonde calmly swiveled back around to her control panels and brought the full jamming suite of the Jhammind to bear on the Cylon receivers.

“Are they trying to raise shields yet?” Fraslia queried a moment later.

“Still a negative.”

“By Valera's sword, they're letting us getting point-blank...” Someone muttered on the bridge as the enemy ships continued to loom up closer and closer to the Jhammind, still making no hostile moves.

“Helm! Cut acceleration,” Fraslia abruptly ordered.

“Aye Aye, Your Ladyship.” The ship ceased to accelerate, and was now just coasting toward the Cylons. If anything, that would certainly lessen the chance of their responding, wouldn't it..?

“We're now in danger of a collision with the central ship,” Lieutenant Aranmidh reported—Astrogation and Navigation being combined on cruiser-rate vessels and smaller. “The baseships will command our flanks... We're headed into an advantageous position for the enemy.”

“Helm, on my order, full reverse acceleration. Risima, stand by to raise shields, full power front...” As the chorus of acknowledgements echoed around her, she activated the tactical channel to the central battery director. “Guns, stand by for weapons free.”

“Order confirmed, Your Ladyship.”

“Switch view to tactical plot!”

A 3-d grid of the battlefield was now displayed, showing the Jhammind edging closer and closer to the enemy baseships, which were spread out to either side with the unknown falling back in the middle, like the open mouth of a prey beast... And then...

“They're closing together!” Risima exclaimed in surprise.

“They're protecting the central ship...” Fraslia mused aloud, ears attentively forward as she thought. Then the time to think was gone...

“Energy disturbances on the enemy vessels. They're charging weapons—but they have NOT raised shields.”

“They're hoping to get in the first strike on us,” Fraslia responded, thinking automatically about the situation's most likely explanation. Closer, closer.... If I want a hit on the central ship, I've got to get it now....

She keyed her hotlinked commo. “Guns, weapons free. Weapons free.”

“SHIELDS UP! Helm--Flank deacceleration!”

The Jhammind shuddered beneath Fraslia's acceleration couch as the eight big particle cannon capable of bearing forward salvoed at once from fully charged capacitor banks. With them, two heavy torpedoes were flushed, accelerating at about 910 earth gravities straight from point-blank range into the same target. Their fusion explosions followed a split-second after the powerful charged particle bursts tore through the unshielded enemy ship.

Those massive heavy-megatonne explosions hammered the lightly built latticework of the unknown craft, sending it spinning out of control with the intense brilliance of the fusion events utterly obscuring the foreward section of the ship. Even as that took place, however, the two Baseships were firing at full-power into the Jhammind, and thereby received their first utter shock of their own, as the octogonal energy walls which comprised the shields of the Taloran cruiser flared into view with the intensity of the energy that they had absorbed from the enemy's fire.

Of the Baseships the Jhammind was not lax in dealing with them, either. Its missile tubes had already flushed toward the port baseship, while new firing solutions were generated for the guns.

“Ninety degrees starboard shift. Give them our broadside, Helm,” Fraslia ordered confidently as the shields held up under the pounding of the two baseships. The Jhammind nimbly spun on heel and presented her broadside to the Cylons, every event on the ship executed with superb speed due to the direct neural interfaces of the crucial command centers on the cruiser to their computer components.

The Cylons' greatest advantage in battle before had been their much improved reaction times. The hybrids which controlled the ships brought sentient, human reactions to the whole ships' control banks and computers. The Colonials, relying on mechanical interfaces, took up to seconds longer to input orders, or miliseconds at the least. That meant that they had always been at a severe disadvantage in reaction time. The Talorans weren't. Their reaction times were identical to those of the Cylons, and it showed.

Risima immediately repositioned the shields to give coverage to the port quarter and aft sections. Several of her subordinates started to begin countering the Cylon penaids the moment that they detected missile launches from the two baseships, while the anti-missile gunnery director, in a separate location from central battery director, started weaving a wall of light anti-missile flechettes from the dischargers mounted all over the ship and simultaneously salvoing countless high-acceleration defensive rockets in a huge cloud at the incoming missiles.

At these distances, even with the Cylon missiles much slower accelerating, the engagement with their first salvo took two or three seconds at most. Every single one of the missiles was shot down, save for one. That lone nuclear-tipped, tylium enhanced missile slammed into the shields of the Jhammind and erupted with a singular ferocity.

“Damage report,” Fraslia snapped after keying another one of the hotlinks on her command chair, ignoring the shuddering feel in the ship as the main guns salvoed once again and the massive banks of targetable torpedo tubes flushed toward the starboard baseship.

“Shields holding,” Risima reported.

“All sectors reporting minor shock damage only, Your Ladyship,” came the disembodied voice of the DCO.

The tactical grid vanished for a moment, wavering out of view. Fraslia noticed it out of the corner of her eye: One of the torpedoes, or more, must have struck one of the Baseships and released enough hard radiation to temporarily overwhelm the sensors. “Swing us another fourty-five degrees to starboard, helm, and then battle-flank acceleration. Take us clear.”

She keyed the hotlink to the central battery director. “Guns, put your next torp salvo into the other Baseship.” The energy batteries of the Jhammind pulsed under them once more, just to have the ship shaken violently again by another Tylium-boosted nuclear detonation on the shields. At this angle all twelve of the heavy particle cannon were in action.

The tactical projection wavered back into existence. It could now be seen that the central ship was spinning off, crippled, the forward 25% of the hull utterly destroyed. The starboard baseship had one of the arms of its upper trefoil shattered straigth through with the tip broken off, but what was still holding position, and now a flood of additional little specs were issuing from the Baseships. The Jhammind, however, was starting to pull away...

A triple-shock of a series of concussive hammer-blows slammed into the Jhammind's starboard flank. The ship heeled fourty-degrees port around the Y-axis as the inertial compensators whined and thrummed loudly through the hull, desperately trying to compensate, and four gravities of acceleration wrenched everyone in the ship violently toward the port, straining the harnesses of their acceleration couches.

“Six shield banks have buckled to starboard!”

Damage control echoed a report into Fraslia's ear: “Several armour plates buckled near Frame 739, Sector 81. We're venting fuel from one reserve storage tank.”

“That's what they're there for,” Fraslia replied curtly, and turned her attention to Risima: “Block that breach in the shield wall, now!”

The EW officer had more on her mind, though: “They've got more than a thousand fighters out! They're approaching rapidly.”

A button jabbed, an order given: “Guns! All missile tubes to anti-fighter cluster munitions, engage them with anti-missile weaponry when they come into range. Main cannon shift to flak bursts against the fighters.. Those are their real offensive punch.”

A second salvo of heavy torpedoes had just been flushed at the second battlestar, now bearing to the Jhammind's starboard, however, and Fraslia had a flash of a thought run through her mind. “And blow the torps NOW!”

Ten heavy anti-matter initiated fusion warheads lit off directly in the mass of the Raiders which were spilling out of that Baseship by the hundreds. For two seconds every single sensor in the whole area was utterly blinded. Fraslia didn't even wait for the results. “Flush aft tubes, Guns, same plan.”

“Shall we launch fighters?” Major Alasia's voice came over the comm—the small fighter detachment on a ship like this was usually a Marine squadron.

“Not save as a last resort...” The two torpedoes from the aft tubes went off in the midst of another mass of raiders and again the plot wavered out of existence before it could even recover from the massive hard radiation unleashed by the first series of detonations, and the bridge crew continued to calmly ignore it. “They'll be overwhelmed and slaughtered with so many of the enemy out there.”


“How many did we get?” Fraslia's eyes turned back to the plot.

“Between all the detonations, perhaps three hundred—but they're coming in too close for us to do it again, Captain!”

“Then it's up to the anti-missile defences...” Fraslia frowned darkly. “How long has it been?”

“Seven and a half minutes,” Astrogation reported. “They should have been here already, Captain.”

Damn Cain to Idenicamos' harem!” Fraslia virtually shrieked with rage, slamming her fist into the armrest of the command chair as she realized that it was entirely possible that the Colonial Admiral had abandoned her to fight this battle alone and unsupported...

Another series of massive hammer-blows suddenly overtook the Jhammind as the diversion of the anti-missile batteries to hacking through the countless approaching Cylon raiders split their strength enough to let a series of nuclear missiles through. The inertial compensators whined desperately and instrumentation went wild as more than ten gravities of acceleration were inflicted on the crew, nearly enough to black them all out. If Ghimalia had not finished the surgical procedures on the two Cylon prisoners only three minutes before, they certainly would have been seriously injured or killed in the blast, and as it was, their erstwhile saviour was thrown violently and knocked unconscious, and Layne Ishay herself was caught against an examining table hard enough to snap her left leg. Six unsecured crewers were killed.

“All starboard and aft quarter shield banks have collapsed, Your Ladyship,” Risima reported grimly. “Recommend rolling the ship, but that will still leave us vulnerable to close-in fighter weapons. And another two solid salvoes get through like that and we'll lose shields entirely.”

“Understood.” She gave the order to the helm immediately: “Roll the ship!”

“Roll the ship, Aye!”

Next, mind flashing from issue to issue, she keyed up the hotlink to the DCO. “Status report?”

“Buckling at frames 46, 289, and 882, Sectors 19, 20, and 56 respectively. In Sectors 20 and 56 we have reports of compartments vented to space and radiation-triggered metal fires. Damage control parties responding. Fatalities estimated at twelve, casualties, sixty.”

As the Jhammind completed her slow roll to present her intact shields to the enemy's missile launchers, her own long-range missile launchers had shifted back to the Baseships with the Raiders now swarming in close, though the particle cannon could and still were hammering away with close-in flak bursts which could vapourize a half-dozen raiders at a time. Yet the compliment of each baseship might be up to 792 Raiders... Nearly sixteen hundred in total, though many of those had been destroyed already or were destroyed in parts of the one Baseship which had been heavily damaged before launching, and the numbers were lower since many were replaced with smaller numbers of the heavier escort raiders, yet there were also the fourteen light corvettes in the Cylon squadron that were closing up to execute a close in attack as well.

...They, however, made a nice target for the ship's torpedoes, which now having no other use, being out of range of the Baseships, attracted Ivstar's immediate attention. A salvo of twelve torpedoes in all was flushed at the force. The anti-missile batteries of the Jhammind were doing hot work on the Raiders, smashing them out of the sky with high-acceleration rockets and shredding them to pieces with streams of anti-grav accelerated flechettes, but more and more now swarmed around the ship and started hitting it with energy weapons and missiles. These missiles, though not having the same punch as the big nukes fired from the Baseships, often managed to get through the flechette streams guarding the Jhammind and do heavy damage, ablating the armour in numerous areas as they got around the now seriously compromised shields.

The Jhammind's torpedoes reached their targets, and five of the tiny corvettes—really not much larger than the Jhammind's J'u'crea type patrol boats—vanished instantly, the shieldless craft vapourized by the awesome power of their warheads. Two others spun off, massive areas of the outer hull melted and completely crippled. The other half bore-in with a single-minded intensity just to waver when another torpedo salvo was sent racing in toward them.

“It's been over nine minutes!” Dhamis couldn't take it, contacting Fraslia from auxiliary control. “Where is Admiral Cain?”

“In Idenicamos' bedchamber, and this fight is our own,” Fraslia replied in a contemptuous snarl. The second salvo of torpedoes went off and left only three of the little corvettes still intact.

Then the bridge lights went down as the shield heeled once more with incredible, indeed, unfathomable violence, and depressurization klaxons could be heard dimly through the walls and spacesuits, indicating that several decks above them one of the nukes had managed to lance a blast so deep that there was a major area of depressurization...

“All shields have collapsed, Captain,” Risima reported with deathly calm. The battle went on.

Fraslia grimly keyed another outlink, this time to the ship's Marine commander: “We have no choice. Launch your starfighters and give them our prayers. We need every bit of help we can get now, no matter how sacrificial.”

“Aye aye, Captain. They'll do the dying if need's be,” Alasia answered confidently, yet grimly.

************ *********************************** *****************

Commander Adama couldn't take it anymore. They had waited three minutes beyond the point they were supposed to jump in to join the Jhammind in the battle. “Patch me through to Admiral Cain,” he ordered to Dualla, picking up the nearest handset.

“The link's up, Sir,” she calmly reported.

“Admiral, this is Commander Adama. We're late on jumping in. The Jhammind could be getting chopped to pieces out there—what's the delay?”

He could almost hear a smirk in Cain's voice: “Why, Commander, just some coordination issues. As a matter of fact, you're ordered to jump right now. See you in the fight.”

Only after we've let the Talorans pay the butcher's bill! He thought with a grim sense of outrage, though he turned about and did his duty. “Initiate the jumpdrive sequence.” The message to the crew was as straightforward as his nature: “All hands, stand ready. The ship is now jumping into combat.”

In short order the scene was splayed out before them in all its deadly furor. The Pegasus arriving simultaneous across the enemy squadron from them, the smashed and crippled wreck of the unknown central vessel, having restored stability and trying to limp away, the heavily damaged Baseship directly in front of them, the hundreds of Raiders licking at a Jhammind torn up and venting fuel, her main guns tearing apart three Cylon picket ships right before their eyes with casual ease even as they arrived on the field of battle, the other eleven in the fleet presumably already destroyed.

“Launch all squadrons!” Adama ordered at once, the Vipers of the Galactica racing forth from their launch bays even as those on the Pegasus did the same, the two ships' Raptors daringly racing ahead of them, along with the Jhammind's torpedo bombers and J'u'crea's, per the pre-arranged plan.

Jhammind's fire, on the arrival of the Battlestars, confidently shifted to two crippled pickets, finishing them off in turn before returning to firing flak bursts. As they did, a message crackled onto Adama's comm, open transmission. It was Fraslia, and she was notably ignoring Cain.

“Glad to see you, Commander.”

“Glad to see you in one piece still,” he answered.

The Raptors and J'u'crea's began pumping out light attack missiles at the two Baseships to overwhelm their defences while the J'u'crea's and the torpedo bombers began lining up their runs on the crippled Baseship which happened to be the closest to the Galactica and therefore its target.

Adama saw the central vessel of the Cylon squadron so badly damaged and trying to get away and made a snap decision then and there. “Put a nuke into her and finish her off,” he ordered curtly. “Main batteries target the Baseship.”

The Vipers spilling from the two ships' bays were now racing in at full power toward the Raiders around the Jhammind. The Raiders, armed for anti-ship actions and completely engrossed in that activity, only slowly broke off from the Jhammind while being savaged all the way, and then strangely spread out as they moved to face their new incoming enemies, seeming to lend the Colonials a huge advantage for no reason at all. Then a salvo of Taloran torpedoes went off.

“By the gods!” Gaeta exclaimed, while Dualla ripped off her headset and yawned hard to try and dissipate the intense pain in her ears from the abrupt noise of the wash of hard radiation which produced an incredibly violent feedback into the Galactica's communications systems. When the sensor data returned, “that wipeed out a couple dozen Raiders, Sir.”

“I'm not surprised,” Tigh muttered.

“The bombers are launching more at our Baseship target...”

Adama tensed and wondered what the result be. If they were throwing around that much firepower...

One of the big, 100-metric tonne torpedo bombers had been taken out by the heavy Cylon defensive fire, but the remaining seven fired four torpedoes each, and the J'u'crea's, two each. Fourty-four heavy torpedoes plowed toward the Baseship. Fully prepared and having some idea about how to defend against the extremely fast but unmaneouvrable warheads, fourty-one of them were shot down.

One clipped the Baseship low and melted its outer hull armour on the ventral surface in a wave of radiation. The remaining two bored straight in and struck right at the central pylon of the vessel, obtaining direct physical hits with the central column and penetrating it before detonating. As the brilliance of the light from the events faded, the two shattered halves of the Baseship tumbled wildly away from each other, the ship having been literally blown in two.

“Finish it off as we pass and then shift fire to the Baseship the Pegasus is engaged with,” Adama ordered. Galactica's main guns hadn't even been able to fire before the Baseship was destroyed, but moments later she scored her own big victory when her lone nuclear missile fired reached the crippled unknown Cylon heavy. The detonation was to much for the massively damaged vessel. It simply disintegrated, and between the two vessels destroyed the bridge crew of the Galactica could scarcely resist the temptation to celebrate.

Jhammind was now safely unengaged by the enemy, accelerating clear from the battlefield with her intact engines and recoverying her nine surviving heavy interceptors; the other seven had been lost to the Raiders before they'd been drawn off by the arrival of the Colonial Vipers, her long-range missiles still, however, firing with loads of clusters of smaller anti-fighter missiles which proved stunningly effective against the Raiders.

The Raiders, their numbers massively reduced, having no missiles, and caught in a bad position, with the Jhammind's harassing fire behind them and the Vipers closing in from three sides, were simply massacred enmasse. In the short, sharp battle which followed, the Colonial Viper squadrons annihilated the Raiders down to the last single one, losing only two of Pegasus' and three of Galactica's older raiders with the loss of one of the pilots, from Galactica, dead.

In the meanwhile, too, the Galactica's batteries had smashed the shattered halves of the one Baseship to pieces and were now engaging the other Baseship, lightly damaged by the Jhammind's fire before, and now under the sustained fire of two Battlestars. The Baseship's nuclear missiles had been expended by firing at the Jhammind, and with several missile tubes already disabled, its salvoes of conventional missiles--split between the two Battlestars--simply couldn't get through their defences to do any damage. Lacking any substantial heavy batteries, the ship was torn to pieces without a scratch on either Battlestar.

None of the Vipers were even able to get back in time while the Battlestars closed and chopped through the enemy with their heavy railguns. Massive gaping wounds were opened in the Baseship, and the hull flared red in countless places, before, at last, it simply disintegrated into a series of progressively more massive explosions. Only hot rubble was left, and not a single member of the crews of either the Pegasus or the Galactica had even been injured.

Cain's voice soon enough came insistently across the battlefield to the Galactica's communications gear, and she spoke loudly, addressing the whole of the bridge crew, albeit through Adama himself: “Good work, Commander. We've utterly destroyed the enemy with no damage whatsoever and the most superficial of fighter losses.”

“But the Jhammind suffered very heavily,” Adama replied.

“They volunteered. Our duty is to preserve as much of the fighting capacity of the fleet as possible—and frankly, Commander, what's happened is that they've proved to us their rather impressive technological capabilities in this engagement. You may, of course, render them all aide in coping with their battle damage. Admiral Cain, out.”

“Get on that immediately,” Adama ordered tersely. “Coordinate any damage control needs with the Jhammind and see to it they get all the personnel and supplies from us that could possibly be of use.” Fraslia has done so much for us, and Cain repays it by letting her ship end up half-crippled. What will her superiours think when they finally arrive? The answer wasn't far off in coming.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-04-29 10:39pm

Chapter Nine

President,” the scratchy voice of the Colonial One's Captain jerked her to attention as the nervous hours wore by without contact from the Battlestars. “We have a situation here. Can you come to the bridge please?” The man sounded frankly terrified, and that wasn't good at all.

Roslyn raced to the bridge of the Colonial One with Billy in tow. All sorts of nasty thoughts were going through her head. The old Colonial Heavy had plenty of good sensors and its captain was the Convoy Commodore when Adama—now Cain—wasn't present. Whatever was going on now was very, very serious, or at least quite important. Just in what fashion she did not know, but of course the possibility that the military forces of the fleet had somehow been defeated raced through her head.

The Colonial One had some surveying sensors with visual spectrum recording, and the image was displayed on a monitor off to the left on the otherwise austere bridge. Roslyn stopped short at the closeup, which the whole bridge crew had gathered to stare at in a mixture of awe and trepidation. Four massive ships took up the centre of the display, with sharply defined, curving outward vertical-chisel bows with tiny, almost ornamental canards, and incredibly long hexagonal hullforms. At the narrow dorsal surface there was, raising out of the hull, two huge cannon turrets, each bearing two cannon, and beyond it the impressive rise of a massively armoured and towering superstructure studded in antennae. The ventral surface of the ships featured two similar turrets and then, rising behind them, a third superimposed above those in turn where the superstructure was on the dorsal surface.

In between was a massive stub wing on either side, and at the ends of these were attached pods which had have been more than a fourth of the length of the ship, giant elliptical shapes as big as some ships themselves, it would seem. Between the two halves of the superstructure, as the view panned along the vessel, another turret was placed dorsally and the superstructure was sharply angled to clear its firing fields. Aft, the forward turrets were repeated dorsally and ventrally, and the ship ended, rounding down to a spheroid aft section which lacked apparent engines just like a Cylon vessel, though had a series of strange blister-like protrusions, with four more of those on the end of a thin cuneiform set of x-wings which were so sharply angled as to never clear the hull, presumably again to keep the turrets clear.

Around them were more than twenty other vessels, eight of them quite sizeable, though still utterly dwarfed by the big ships, and sixteen rather small, like Colonial destroyers. “How large are the big ones?” Roslyn asked quietly.

“Two-point-two kilometers in length, Madame President. They're the largest ships that have ever been built.”

The hulls were matte-black, though, on every single ship. Only a few running lights broke up the darkness, and they revealed, also, the dark crimson of a very familiar sight on the hulls of the ships themselves. It was unmistakeably seal script. Six of the ships, in fact, were essentially identical to the Jhammind...

“That must be a Taloran taskforce,” Billy breathlessly spit out. “They must have responded to the Baroness Fraslia's reports already...”

The Colonial One's Captain turned to Roslyn. “Shall I hail them, Madame President?”

“By all means. Use the Taloran frequencies on the visual communications setup that they helped us establish, let's make it clear that we know who they are.”

The communications were not faster than light, but the ships were very close. Half a light second at the greatest, one hundred and fifty thousand kilometers. The response took only a moment, and the scene revealed was no less impressive than the ships themselves. Standing confidently in what seemed like a bridge, but wasn't quite, there was a Taloran woman of about average stature for their species staring, surveying the banks of monitors and status reports to either side; Roslyn thought that was the commander, but the woman glanced toward the screen for a moment and then turned, bowing sort of obsequieously off-camera. A shorter female stepped forward, then, not in uniform but swathed in a crimson cape, her seaweed green hair falling to immense length, perhaps only a half meter from the floor.

Her ears were particularly high and defined and, from the mass of long and thick bangs, two mismatched eyes of cold blue and hot orange-red gazed intently at the screen, making a measure of the image of Roslyn. What was most incredible about the whole visage of the alien woman was the incredible scarification on her face. It looked like a continuous patchwork of slashes had been laid there, and Roslyn couldn't help, even though she seemed distasteful, to wince in sympathy. It looked almost like she'd been tortured at one time or another from the sheer multitude of the scars that covered her face entirely.

But she didn't speak. Instead, the taller woman, blue-haired with yellow eyes not unlike Fraslia's but with alabaster skin tinted grey-green, so much more common, stepped forward. Her uniform looked identical to Fraslia's combat uniform, and, curiously, her face was also rather scarred, though much less so, and the transmission definitely showed that these Talorans had the translation algorithms. “This is Her Serene Majesty's Ship the Orelyost, flagship of Task Force Eight Eighty-nine. I am the Taskforce Chief of Staff, and I introduce to you the Taskforce commander, Her Serene Highness Admiral the Archduchess Tisara Urami.”

The green-haired Taloran stepped forward, a vague and distant-seeming smile to humans upon her lips, that face nonetheless utterly marred by the vast number of scars. “To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

“This is President Laura Roslyn of the Confederation of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol,” she answered, trying to get a read on the cold-faced Taloran commander, whose prominence could not be emphasized enough, it seemed, in her expansive title. The whole of her bridge crew seemed to be doing their best to avoid the scene, and the image was focused down only on the two, the Archduchess, and her Chief of Staff, who seemed to defer to her at every moment. No doubt she was very powerful indeed...

“No doubt you have already been informed of the composition of this fleet,” Roslyn continued, for there was little doubt of that. “I represent the highest civilian authority here, and I am empowered to conduct negotiations. Are you,” she thought for a moment about to phrase it, “Your Serene Highness?”

“I am,” Tisara answered. “As Sector Admiral of an expansion sector, I have full plenipotentiary powers. May I ask, however, Madame President—where are your escorts, and where is the Jhammind?”

“Engaged in battle with our Cylon enemies,” Roslyn answered promptly. Something about Tisara made her vaguely uncomfortable, but it was probably the noble air so prominent in the high Talorans. “We are waiting for them to return from the scene of the action.”

“You have no communications with them? The battle might still be in doubt—and yet the Jhammind is also engaged, Madame President?”

“Yes, that's right. Both our Battlestars are fighting with her.” Did the Baroness have permission to do that, I wonder now? Roslyn felt somewhat guilty for suspecting her if she exceeded her authority to such an extent..

“Please send me the coordinates, so that I may arrange a relief to see if my expeditionary cruiser is still intact or not, and the condition of your ships as well. I will remain here with the Orelyost, as I intend to meet you if you are willing.”

“I'd be very willing, Your Serene Highness. As for the coordinates..” She stepped out of the feed and looked to the Colonial One's Captain. “Do you have them available?”

“Yes, Madame President.”

“Then send a transmission to the Taloran flagship.”

She stepped back into the feed, and a moment later the taller but obsequeious Taloran woman turned back toward the Archduchess and whispered into her ear.

“Ah, we've received the first transmission, Madame President. Excuse me, please, while I issue the necessary orders.” The line went dark.

“Rather abrupt, isn't she.”

“I don't think I've seen any Talorans treat each other quite like that before, Ma'am. She must be exceptionally powerful,” Billy added.

“I don't really like her,” Roslyn acknowledged. “Her position seems everything that we've come to dislike about an aristocracy, unlike the Baroness... But she is quite polite, and ready enough to help...”

As if to punctuate that, one of the Taloran battlecruisers veered clear of the others, which promptly jumped along with the rest of the force, leaving only three of the expeditionary cruisers as an escort for it. She continued her evolution, then, swinging in toward the Colonial fleet and approaching at a rather slow and deliberate pace. As she drew nearer it allowed everyone an impressive view of the looming mass of the ship, which because of that became far more real than the Jhammind, always standing a few light-seconds off, had ever been. From massive gun turrets far larger than anything a Battlestar mounted to her sharp yet angular lines, the ship was built to kill.

She fell in with the fleet very comfortably, slowly and coming to rest relative to the fleet's movements a few dozen kilometers only from the furthest edge of ships. Holding position, her gun-turrets began to swing. For the first instant, everyone held their breath, but there was relief, happiness, even, when they began to swing away from the fleet and in the direction of the battle. The Taloran Admiral was taking over the duty of close convoy escort almost naturally, with the expeditionary cruisers standing off as a first line of defence.

Roslyn realized that the real test of the relationship was upon her at this moment. It was also apparent, however, that there was a real opportunity here. Even if her effort to eliminate the Cylons which had been sent to the Baroness Fraslia had failed, if she could establish some kind of rapport with the Taloran Admiral, the damage from the knowledge they held might well be mitigated. Though she initially appeared an unpleasant person, it seemed that being kind to Tisara Urami might be very well worth the effort.

A hailing signal came from the Orelyost shortly after she'd settled into fleet position. As the two-way video-conferencing transmission resolved itself, Roslyn was somewhat surprised to see the same Captain as before there, rather than the Archduchess. The transmission also looked like it had been fed somewhere else. The unknown Captain, however, smiled vaguely and began to speak: “My name is Captain Armenbhat, Madame President.”

“Yes. The Admiral's chief of staff.” A statement, not a question. “I admit I'm surprised that she didn't personally command the taskforce on its continued operations.”

“Well, it is under the command of Rear Admiral Joshart. Her Serene Highnesses' role here is primarily a supervisory one, and to conduct negotiations. Obviously, I am given to understand that your government is accredited insomuch as the affairs of the human colonies you once represented are concerned..”

“And still represent,” Roslyn replied defensively. “That they're under occupation, and much of our population has suffered genocide, does not change that fact.”

“My apologies. That's quite true.” Ysalha's ears flexed downward. “Well, at any rate, He Serene Highness wishes to come aboard and meet with you personally...” She looked a bit uneasy, before straightening and addressing Roslyn more directly, Billy watching in rapt attention as he tried to understand more of the Taloran customs. The question that followed was almost so far as a plea, however, to be quite unusual in the extreme:

“Would you let us sup with you?”

Well, that's a pretty unusual way to start off a diplomatic meeting. She sounds almost... Hopeful. Not an unlikeable person, unlike her boss. “This normally requires, ah, supplements, I understand.”

“We'll bring them with us.”

“That will be fine. When do you want to come?” This is starting to sound like a phone conversation I had ten years ago...

“How about in thirty of your standard minutes? We can drink and speak on matters of import until the meal is ready.”

Roslyn decided against deferring it. The Talorans seemed genuinely eagerly to press this, and though it was a bit annoying that it was all left up to the Archduchess' subordinate. “We won't be prepared as well as a formal state dinner would recommend, Captain Armenbhat. Just how many will be in the party you're sending to the Colonial One, Captain?”

“The Archduchess and myself,” the Captain answered.

“Nobody else...? Not even guards or attendants? We can certainly accomadate them; don't feel like it's necessary to leave them out on our behalf.”

“Madame President, don't worry. Valera's heirs do not need guards. Her Serene Highness is simply very pleased by the prospect of having dinner with a Head of State.” Ysalha dipped her head politely: “As I am, also.”

Roslyn resisted the temptation to settle into a 'hoo-boy' expression right in front of the Talorans, even though they wouldn't, surely, understand the meaning. Well, I'm not inviting any of my staff then... Except Billy. He'll know what to do best in this situation. Better not tell the Quorum, either. “Well, thank you, Captain. I will see you in thirty minutes.”

“As you.” The screen blinked dark.

Roslyn looked over to the Colonial One's Captain, then. “Inform me if they communicate again, or else when the Battlestars return.” After he confirmed the instructions, she stepped back to where Billy was standing, murmuring to him: “This is going to be very interesting, so you get to share in the fun. Get ready for a formal dinner, because I have a feeling anything we call informal will be light and relaxed for this Archduchess.”

“Gotcha,” he answered with a bit of trepidition, eagerness, and youthful exuberence all bound up into one moment.

Roslyn smiled and turned turned to leave the bridge, then, just managing to hear someone mutter:

“Look who's coming to dinner.”

Isn't that the truth...

********** ********************** *********************** ***********

The first of the packed shuttles from the Galactica were affixed to the scarred hull of the Jhammind. From them disgorged men and women in fire-fighting gear and with welders and other equipment. The hangar bay into which they arrived was spacious and undamaged, though now very cluttered, as Dhamis had established a secondary Damage Control center there for the immediately surrounding areas of the hull. The young heiress had so-far handled the situation admirably, keeping herself conscious of the groans of pain from the wounded who were also laid out in the area in the emergency casualty clearing station.

Lieutenant Marcus Winters, the leader of the damage control parties the Galactica had sent—he was the second to the DCO on the Galactica, where the lack of damage meant he was certainly not needed there—couldn't help but wince in sympathy at the fact that they had no corpsmen trained in Taloran medicine to help with the serious cases. The only human casualty on the Jhammind was ironically one of their own medics, and doing a bone splint was something that a medic of either race could do for the other, so several corpsmen had been brought along to help with minor injuries, and of course any injuries sustained by the damage control parties from the Galactica during their efforts.

The tall and haughty Taloran was engrossed in her work, sleeves of her vacuum suit fringed with soot from where she'd crawled through some damaged area or another for a personal inspection. “Ah, Lieutenant!” Looking up, her gaze was one even a human could tell evidenced relief, as she stepped forward, and gestured to the casualty clearing station behind her... “You have the medics for the minor wounds, yes? The situation is so bad that they have no even received painkillers, unless the injury is life-threatening, so that all our attention may remain with those who are very wounded.”

“We'll get onto it right now,” Lieutenant Winters replied, going back and summoning up the medics. He was surprised to see how calm most of the Taloran wounded were without treatment as he brought the medics up to the unpleasant site, by it just drove home the fact that they were indeed rather alien. And also the fact that they have suffered very much for us.

Soon he had his own secondary command centre set up with Dhamis, for the purpose of controlling the Colonials who couldn't speak the same language as the Talorans, and assigning those repair and stabilization teams to specific sectors. As he was getting that organized, he noticed something unusual.. And rather disturbing. Several distant, spaced-out looking Talorans were sitting along one of the sides of the bay.

“What are they doing, Colonel?” He asked Dhamis, who turned to him, quizzical at the rank for a moment, but then shrugged.

“Controlling the external repair drones, of course.” Dhamis seemed rather surprised that there was anything unusual about the sight, and her reaction prompted a closer inspection from Lieutenant Winters..

“Why, they're attached with wires to those computer banks, aren't they!?” He looked quite startled, and a few of the colonials turned their heads for a moment, but the severity of the work they were involved in didn't lend time for lingering on such matters. Winters himself was feeling guilty for doing it, but now he'd been presented with a rather disturbing mystery, to put it mildly, to someone raised on the thought of the Cylon threat to humanity.

“Neural interfaces for computers,” Dhamis answered a bit sharply. “I take it you don't have them?”

“Not anything of the sort, considering our experience with the toasters.”

“Ironically, neural interfaces remove the need for artificial intelligences entirely, so that we simply never developed them, and thus never had any problems with them. Our computers are, by your standards, very dumb, I suppose.”

“We got rid of most of the advanced ones. Not enough, though; that's how the Cylons were able to take the colonies.”

“Hnnh.” Dhamis looked extremely thoughtful, and seemed to be remembering that. “Let's get back to work, Lieutenant. They're doing their jobs, and so must we.”

Rather sheepish, Winters turned back to the messages already waiting for the damage control coordination. It was not going to be an easy task, and over the next three hours it seemed that the level of coordination which had been required just went on, and on, and on. As more information came in, however, it was clear that the ship was not being threatened, and furthermore, many of the crew in the worst areas had survived. He saw a constant stream of them, in their self-sealing vacuum suits, which left him to wonder just how they had managed not to implement such a life-saving device as combat wear themselves.

There's always the future. After all, it appeared that they'd have one, now, which was a lot more than could be said before the Jhammind arrived. And the aide they were rendering now was the least that could be done. It was somewhat embarassing that the only representatives of the Pegasus were a couple of medics who'd been deployed to the Galactica before the battle, but at least they gave the impression that the other ship of the Colonial Navy was aiding in the effort.

He was distracted by a strange little commotion, though, when he someone very familiar from the Galactica--no, two such people!--arriving. Helo and Chief Tyrol, and he hadn't know either of them had been aboard the ship. They must have been here since before the battle.. Scuttlebut had supposed that the toaster had been sent here before the battle, but had they been its escorts? It was an interesting situation, and with the work-load dying away he listened intently.

“You two, you have dragged so many clear of the worst situations!” Dhamis declared effusively at the two human men, who had come aboard with the prisoners. One of them, the greater, she could look directly in the eyes with his astonishing height. She did not stint in the praise that she gave them, though it was a bit melodramatic by human standards. “Look at yourselves, covered in soot and your retardent gear charred, cut and scraped and bruised.”

Helo stammered for a moment. “We just did our jobs. And you saved Sharon's life, anyway...”

Marcus Winters frowned at that, trying to think of who Sharon was, and then he noticed one of the Pegasus' corpsmen staring long and hard at Helo for a moment, but before he could think more of it, his mind made the connection: The toaster?! But of course Dhamis was continuing.

“I do not think you should account your behaviour in any way so lightly. Come, you have earned it...” And she unzipped her vacuum suit, which got a brief what the hell? stare from Chief Tyrol.

“Uh, ma'am?”

However, the gesture was entirely practical, and Dhamis ignored the comment, anyway. Plucking from her chest in succession two Civic Lifesaving Medals she had been awarded in past times, she pinned one to each of the chests of the two human men. “Keep them; I will refer the matter to the Captain, but I have no doubt. And I will get replacements myself. You fully have earned them.....”

The ship's klaxons began to wail. Dhamis didn't react immediately, save to smile wryly, while around them everyone began to explode into activity. “My apologies, gentlemen, but it seems like your service is required once again...” She was hastily zipping back up her vacuum suit and sealing it when the alarm abruptly cut off. Activating her internal comline to the bridge, she asked quizzically:

“What's the sitrep, Captain?”

“Hold on a second, I'll explain it to everyone, Rasamblid Heir.” Fraslia seemed unconcerned; she sounded like she was as happy as a madwoman, in fact.

Lieutenant Winters reached for his own radio to send a warning out to the Galactica's repair parties still dispersed through the ship. But before he could, the Commander's voice boomed through the ship.

“Attention all hands. The Action Stations siren was a false alarm. Ships have indeed arrived in this area, but they are elements of the Oralnif Spinward's Rapid Reaction Force. We are contacting them to inform them of the particulars of the situation. Resume damage control duties at once and do not proceed with manning Action Stations. That is all.”

The arrival of Task Force 889 had been a thing of beauty. In classic Taloran fashion the Battlecruisers had arrived first, three of them, sharp and lethal and just as impressive to the observing Cain and Adama—moreso, even, since they knew of the Jhammind's capabilities and could extrapolate to these monsters—big guns charged and the turrets in rotation immediately from their arrival to bear on the Battlestars and the Jhammind to cover the destroyer flotilla and its light cruiser flag coming a bare second later, until the sensor returns indicated that the vessels were friendly, a process which brought the turrets to a halt even as the light carrier arrived and, per pre-arranged plan, began the launch an alpha strike, the boxey craft with its engines mounted in the pods in a reversal of the functions for the other Taloran designs (unique, as it happened, to that light carrier design, which was unsuccessful and thus banished to the colonies) which was salvoing off four heavy fighters every five seconds into space from its hangars.

The launchers halted quickly, though, with just two squadrons, thirty-two birds deployed, once the situation became more apparent to the fleet commanders. The last element of the arrival, coming in intentionally late and considerably distant, were the three other expeditionary cruisers, positioned to serve as a stalking horse and arriving quite close to the Galactica, setting off a couple of worried looks on her bridge as Adama observed the display of Taloran might with a professional eye.

A moment later a burst message came over the open channel from the Jhammind: “The force flag is hailing us, Commander Adama. You may inform Admiral Cain that contact with her will be established as soon as I have communicated my report.”

“Acknowledged,” Adama replied simply.

“I bet she wishes they'd arrived a couple hours ago,” Tigh observed to his old friend. “We wouldn't have needed to bother calling Condition One with them around.. Just sit back and watch the show. The size of those gun turrets...”

“But they don't seem to have a very heavy fighter force. A single awkward and dedicated ship was launching. I don't think they've encountered any powers—or at least not until very recently—which relied on fighters as much as we and the Cylons do. They're aware of anti-fighter tactics, but they haven't understood the importance of fighters in their own tactics, and all their anti-fighter weaponry seems to just be retargeted anti-missile weapons.”

“What about the pods on the Taloran Heavies, Sir? They may have just not started launching.”

“That would seem odd, considering they came in expecting a fight. Lieutenant Gaeta, can our Viper patrols get a closeup of those?”

“One moment, Sir.”

The two senior officer stepped over to the side of the bridge where a display monitor showed the grainy images... And what they showed was quite obvious to both.

“Massed missile banks.” Tigh vocalized it for both of them, and the whole bridge.

“Their operations seem optimized for very long range missile engagements. The size of their cannon barrels, too, tells me that, whatever they are, they're geared toward high velocities for extreme range engagements. We had the Jhammind get in close, and it seems she suffered for it. On the other hand...”

Tigh grimaced. “The power of those torpedoes may force them to stay away. I wonder how many tubes the Taloran heavies have? We wouldn't last long at close range if they were able to constantly fire and reload them.”

“I don't believe they would, either. But at least we're getting a much better picture of how they fight—and how they think.” And that is important even if Cain manages not to ruin everything.

Rear Admiral Joshart was a figure carefully chosen to make up for his immediate commander's atrocious reputation. He was a man of a middling background, a family of the landed gentry without an hereditary title (though his mother had a knighthood from a Colonial operation in the Marines) who had gotten into the Imperial Academy on merit, and had become one of the youngest List Captains in the fleet after the Ythnan Incident, garnering a popular reputation both in the military and without as a dashing figure, short at 5'7” even for a male but very dapper and with pleasant platinum blue hair, a finely chiseled and quite attractive face, and an energetic reputation both in athletics and dancing. He was unmarried, and it seemed that half the gentle-born girls of his homeworld of Fastiman desired him in marriage, but for the moment his life was the fleet's, and it had been a prosperous one for him.

After an excellent record as a cruiser officer he had assumed command of the Heavy Cruiser Nilth Batanar which had been assigned to the Gilead Intervention. Commanding a detachment of landed naval artillery to reinforce the brigades of the Kalundan Relief Expedition under the Duchess of Medina, to make up for the lack of any organic artillery above the brigade level, he'd commanded a series of improvised nuclear missile batteries mounted on railcars attached to the armoured trains established by the Princess Jhayka's mercenaries and had overseen their operation at the Battle of the East Heights.

Following that engagement, during the desperate march toward the city, the train he'd established his command post on had been surrounded and attacked by a band of stragglers from the Stirlin “Qinshao” Division and he'd been seriously wounded twice in the course of five minutes in the fight, nonetheless able to make his way to the command centre of the train and take over from the injured operational crew to guide them safely out of the ambush, just to join in the counterattack before finally consenting to seek medical attention.

After the success of the operations, the promising young officer was, following his recuperation, given an interesting and challenging assignment. The Archduchess Tisara Urami had just been appointed commander of the Oralnif Expansion Sector. He was offered a promotion to Rear Admiral immediately, jumping straight over more than 80 active-duty Captains and the whole Commodore's list, if he would consent to an indefinite tour of duty riding herd on her. The prospects from this promotion looming large, he had accepted graciously the job of herding the black sheep of the Midelan branch.

Now, though, he dealt with the military side, and she the political, and it was probably not the most optimal result. Yet he had to try his best. The holo-projector resolved now into an image of the bridge of the Jhammind, showing some things broken but otherwise no damage there. The readouts on the Ghimsar's bridge, however, showed the severity of the damage to the Jhammind.

“I see you took a pounding for your newfound allies, Captain,” he smiled graciously to Fraslia. “What can we do to help?”

“Evacuate our wounded, Sir,” she answered immediately, also smiling as she looked back over the bridge. “We need it done as soon as possible, our medical facilities are overburdened. With have more than three hundred seriously wounded at least, and probably eighty or more fatalities, I fear. Your Taskforce is a very welcome sight for our eyes.” A pause. “The ship is not in any danger from her damage any longer—it has all been stabilized, and we're fully operational for navigation—so do you want me to report for debriefing, Sir?”

“Not my Taskforce, I'm afraid, Captain,” Joshart replied somewhat quietly.

Fraslia fell gravely silent, and asked, almost in a whisper, her face going green with a flush, and not a pleasant one either: “Where is Her Serene Highness' flag so that I report to her, then, Sir?”

“I'm afraid the Orelyost hasn't stripped a gravitic impeller again, Captain," came the answer with a hint of wry sarcasm. "Admiral Urami detached her flag along with the Thirty-eighth Expeditionary Division for the purpose of conducting political negotiations with the political element of this refugee armada we have on our hands. You can tender your report and go directly to the Orelyost for debriefing when we return to her position. I trust this is understood, Captain?"

Fraslia's face was stricken with a grave and distasteful look. She could not openly voice her thoughts about her lawfully constituted superiour authorities, let alone their persons, but she could not help but think those things to herself. And for all that I was not all that fond of her, I would not wish on the President nor even on Admiral Cain the 'pleasure' of negotiating with that creature.... As if Cain's malfeasance was not enough to put their relations on the rocks, Fraslia could not help but think as to what mischief the Archduchess Tisara would surely strew across the field of peace for the two peoples...
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-05-01 05:38am

Chapter Ten

Rear Admiral Joshart,
dressed in vacuum suit save for his helmet, which was doffed, revealing long hairs flexed down and dark crimson eyes, with his long hair—Taloran men didn't cut their hair anymore than the women did—of metallic blue falling down behind him, resolved into the display on the bridge of the Pegasus, where he could in turn see the human who was his opposite, Admiral Helena Cain.

“Admiral Cain, I believe?”

“That is correct. Your name..?”

“Rear Admiral Joshart. I'm acting commander of Taskforce 889.” A pause while they digested their respective positions, then he continued:

“Admiral, my compliments on your operation,” Joshart said, glossing over the mistiming. Though Fraslia had been furious about it in their continued conversation, he was inclined to give Cain the benefit of the doubt and assume that it had simply been a failure in coordination. Between two separate navies of two different species, that was quite believable, after all. And the diplomatic aspects of this operation are, I fear, worth more than eighty-three of our dead. An unfortunate reality. “However, some certain tactical matters must certainly be discussed..”

Admiral Cain seemed quite content with that. “Is your fleet capable of offensive operations, Admiral Joshart?”

“Quite. We're all fitted for long-range cruising.” The Admiral himself didn't have any problem with the prospect of a war with a minor group of rather nasty genocidaires, of course, but the question was the strength of the enemy.

“Then perhaps we should discuss what offensive measures should be taken next.”

“Ah. I'm afraid that won't be possible until we have a definite political agreement. Until then, we are limited to protecting your civilians and getting them clear of the zone of combat, and making sure that they are well-provisioned and their ships do not imperil them from the rigours of sustained cruising, Admiral. You will have to accompany us in this task, I fear, though we will of course provide you with resupply..”

“To cease offensive operations against the Cylons would be unacceptable. With a sufficient force of ships like your's we can drive them back handily, and work toward their total annihilation as the abominations that they are.” Cain was talking tough, but she was not in fact feeling as inflexible as her words made her sound. She was instead probing for the level of commitment from the Taloran Admiral.

“I'm afraid that would be impossible. These are just scouting forces, Admiral. A major fleet operation would require the commitment of at least a Dreadnought squadron, if not some major additional fleet elements,” Rear Admiral Joshart replied. And at once he realied he'd both surprised Cain and revealed something to her that she had previously not known.

“Admiral Joshart... Precisely how large is one of your dreadnoughts?”

“About three times the mass and nearly three times the heavy armament of this vessel, with the defensive armament and armour and shielding capacity vastly improved in turn by several times those figures,” he answered honestly. “We can send you specifications if you consent to an alliance; not otherwise, of course, for reasons of military security.”

Yet a ship like that might handily deal with three Basestars by itself, Cain thought, and for the first time she was numb with the prospects of what she had been thinking. A squadron would have to be, by the information provided by the Talorans, sixteen ships.. If one could dispatched... How many dreadnoughts do they have? A hundred? As many as we had Battlestars? Those ships alone might outgun the whole Cylon fleet four to one, or more.

“That's not my role,” Cain said at last, being careful in how far she went, for the moment. “Though, you will maintain the resupply of the fleet? That is the important thing. I will like to talk on operational affairs, and you can be referred to the President.. How much political authority do you have, Admiral?”

“Certainly.” Joshart's ears for a moment. It certainly seemed like Cain was taking a particular interest in the political side of things. “None. I'm only the acting commander of the Task Force. The Sector Admiral is already speaking with your President, Admiral.” I should have told her sooner, but I really don't want to let Tisara cause to many problems here. It's my job to prevent them, after all.

Cain frowned. “I would have expected that information to be conveyed sooner. Well, then, I would return to the fleet and speak with your commander in person about these important issues. Will you hold a forward defensive position here until such time as the details of our withdraw, should it take place, and our operations after that point, be exchanged and clarified between the civilian and military elements of both our peoples?”

“Until such a time as the civilian refugees proceed toward Taloran space and security, or else I receive orders to the contrary from my lawful superiours, Admiral Cain, I will endeavour to take a forward screening position, yes,” Joshart replied.

“Very good, Admiral. Cain out.” The transmission cut off, leaving the human Admiral to mull over the information presented to her. If it was even half true, then her initial hopes for human independence seemed throughly sunk. Then what can I do for my ship and my crew, if there seems no other success that can be achieved?

“Open up a transmission link to the Galactica,” Cain ordered after a moment's thought. This one, of course, was all audio. “Commander Adama?” She asked a moment later.

“Admiral?” His voice replied. “What may I do for you?”

“I want you to hold position, Commander Adama, with the Taloran Taskforce. I'm returning to the fleet to confer with President Roslyn and the overall Taloran Sector Admiral. You'll maintain aggressive viper patrols and a strong defensive stance to prevent any additional Cylon pursuers from launching further attacks, in conjunction with Admiral Joshart's forces, until such time as I issue you orders to the contrary.”

“Understood, Admiral. Are there any further instructions for us?”

“No, that's all. You can return our medics to the Pegasus at a later date; consider them on detached duty until that point.”

“Roger that.”

“Admiral Cain, over and out.” She knew what came next. “Plot a jump back to the fleet. It's time to meet the Taloran Sector Admiral.”

********* ********************** ************************* ***********

The J'u'crea-type assault craft docked somewhat delicately to the hull of the Colonial One, hanging with its lower fin folded up and wing-angles shifted to allow it to nestle more comfortably against the much larger ship. The universal umbilical equalized with the airlock, and from above, was opened. Then there was a loud pounding on the metal below, and the crewers of the Colonial One opened the airlock, stepped into it, and then unlocked the hatch above. It was spun open by the brute force of the person on the top, which was somewhat surprising, if the nature of the party was to be assumed...

But Captain Armenbhat was actually quite strong, despite her spindly and fragile appearance, and the hatch was screwed into unlocking position and swung down into the hull easily. The first down was the Archduchess Tisara Urami herself, dressed in an orange kilt-like skirt that reached modestly to just below her knees, with red lines across it forming intersecting triangles, thigh-high crimson boots, and a bright green shirt with a silver slash over it, and the cape now replaced by a bright fire red one. In defiance of the family tradition since Saverana I—which had duly spread to the other branches of the house--to abstain from wearing jewelry, she had a latinum choker set with a black opal around her neck, and the belt for her sword was woven leather interacted with bits of silver. Elegant gold inlay on the scabbard and the hilt and pommel completed the garish look, as if her dark seaweed green hair and mismatched eyes couldn't in and of themselves. The hair itself was done into a bun, then a braid, with the braid wrapped around the base of the bun once before being allowed to fall down her back, still long enough to reach her waist, and it all offset the intense paleness and queasy gray-green tinge of her skin.

She waited for Captain Armenbhat to reach the bottom of the ladder before proceeding. The Captain was also dressed out of uniform, in a long red skirt down to her ankles and above it a royal blue corset which shoved her cleavage up enough that it was vaguely visible as such, unlike the usual for a Taloran woman, and complimented by a metallic green blouse with a plunging neckline which created intersecting areas of blue and then green on her torso. The blouse was sleeveless, and instead of sleeves, the upper parts of her arms were shown, but not the lower parts, for she wore magenta opera gloves which went right up to her elbows, though they were fingerless, and seemed to be made out of silk with reinforcing bands of silver chain woven into it. More skin was shown, and the better for it, more alabaster than the translucent pale of the Archduchesses', though the usual off-colour gray-green inner tint of the skin, the healthy equivalent of the pink in a human's flesh, but very unpleasant to look at by human eyes, nonetheless made at least a passable show of beauty.

Ysalha wore no cape or other outer-garment, and her feet were clad in yellow clog shoes. Her blue hair was left wild and free and hung down, therefore, slightly further than the Archduchess', and her yellow eyes were bright and alert, and very curiously for a Taloran, on whom none of the humans had seen makeup before, lined with kohl. Her sword-belt was the same as the Archduchess', most interestingly, though the scabbard was modest wood inlaid with silver, and the hilt and pommel also only silvered. Curiously, neither of them adorned the ears, though by now Billy had figured out that it must have something to do with their apparent use in communication by the Talorans...

Though he scarcely noted that detail in being stunned by the two Taloran woman as they approached himself and President Roslyn just beyond the airlock. It took both of them a minute to get around the utterly garish display of the brightest colours possible in strange and discordant schemes which the two had draped themselves in, and took a moment longer to process the individual components. The Captain of the Colonial One was there and he only brought himself to speak when the Archduchess queried him:

“Permission to come aboard, Captain?” It was only then that the translator clipped to the opposite side of her belt from her scabbard was noted.

“Ah, granted, Your Serene Highness...”

The Archduchess frowned at him in response, however, and Roslyn, trying to mentally cope with the fact that her guests dressed like they were trying to induce seizures in people or blind them, managed to reply in explaining something she'd been warned about by Fraslia. “It is not the custom of our people to bow to anyone who is outside of the realm of our laws and history, for to our religion the Lords of Kobol have the first import, and only to them may we bow.”

“Ahhh...” The Archduchess' ears had flicked downward, but now came back up. “President Roslyn, then, I presume...?”

“Yes. You are the Archduchess Tisara Urami, then.” Laura couldn't help but notice that all the translation was being done by a small clip-on cylinder on the belt of the Archduchess. The engineers of the Archduchess' fleet had clearly been very busily at work based on Fraslia's communiques.

“That is correct. And this is my... koina... Ysalha Armenbhat, enjoying the courtesy title of Baroness Titangart.”

“Baroness,” Roslyn offered her hand, and it was accepted by the taller Taloran.

Billy, in the meantime, couldn't help but wondering what the meaning of the untranslatable word was. As he mused on that while Roslyn continued the introductions, his eyes abruptly seized on something interesting. Around the Archduchess' neck was that black choker set in the strange metal... He glanced back to the Baroness...

They're identical. They're both nobility... The prospect of trying to figure it out was a bit daunting, and he had to turn his attention to dipping his head very slightly as he'd been introduced. That done, Roslyn started to lead the group off, the Captain falling away, toward the council hall which she'd briefly and quietly appropriated for this dinner, the finest that the fleet could produce now that rationing was no longer so desperate with the stores the Jhammind had sent over, and the promise of more from the Pegasus when she returned from the fight. If she returned. But even if not, the fleet, it seemed, would survive—by the hand the Archduchess. And that importance of her's in mind, Roslyn treated them politely indeed as they went to sup.

It was Billy who noticed the smallest gesture between the two Talorans walking, out of the corner of his eye, which couldn't help fascinate him and confirm his suspicion of a few minutes prior. The Archduchess slipped her fingers, possessively yet affectionately, through the long blue hair of the Baroness, fingers brushing along the bare flesh of her shoulders, and an enigmatic smile on her lips for that trace of a moment that it lasted.

Koina—does it mean they're lovers? But that would violate any human Articles of War... She's definitely the Archduchess' subordinate. A brief pause in the mental process: But what if they're married!? To someone raised in a society whose laws were limited by the strict customs of the Sagittarons and Gemenons, it was a fascinating and thoroughly alien prospect, and he tried to think of a way that he could ask someone, without offending such high dignitaries as these two who walked together, patient and regal, and something strange and wild in the tension that seemed to quiver with their poised presence in the corridors.

The table laid out was small and cozy, and one of the mess crew was responsible for serving the dishes from a tray laid out by it to keep things warm. The Archduchess sat first and without waiting; a subtle challenge to Roslyn, perhaps, who immediately followed her. Billy and Ysalha, however, hesitated, even coming to glance at each other, uncertain of which should go first. “I yield to you, Sir,” the Captain offered graciously at last, and the comment brought a flicker of an expression to Tisara's lips, indiscernable to human emotion.

When the were both seated, Ysalha discretely gave Tisara several large pills, and the glass of water waiting for her proved useful in downing them, at which point she promptly turned her attention to the hot roll laid out on the table. There was only margarine to go with it, but there were no negative comments from the Archduchess, who understood the vagarities of space travel.

“The bootleg liquor in the fleet is very bad,” Roslyn began politely and informally, “But we do have a few bottles of private reserve left, if you'd like some..?”

“We all must make do with what is given to us,” Tisara answered, and a faint smile touched her lips. The woman seemed genuinely pleased by the circumstances.

“And you?” Roslyn asked Ysalha as the messhand started pouring for the Archduchess.

“As Her Serene Highness has, so shall I, also.”

“Of course,” Roslyn answered, nodding to the messhand so that he'd take note of the statement and make it a reality for the meal. Her attention then returned to the Archduchess. “Your Serene Highness,” she had a sense that Tisara would not like to immediately get to business, and besides, she finally had a chance to indulge her educator's curiousity for details of Taloran society and the homeworlds. “Would you tell me about your homeworld, and the places you have lived?”

“But of course, Madame President,” the Archduchess answered, pleased for the chance to be engaged in civil and relaxed conversation with someone after so long enduring a cruel exile with only her faithful Ysalha at her side, and then, for a long while, not even her. “Let me begin with the surface of Talora Prime, where I was born, which I love dearly... And which I have not seen in nineteen of our years, and more than sixty of the years of the human homeworld.” Her ears dropped back a bit. “So forgive me if there is, sometimes, a tinge of melancholy.”

“That's a very long deployment, Admiral. Are such things normal in the Taloran navy?”

“No, but they have seen fit to retain my services rather continuously,” Tisara answered with a wane smile, before sipping from her glass of wine. “At any rate, my home..”

“I'm sorry about that. Don't let me interrupt you again.” Though, in fact, Roslyn very dearly wished to know precisely why all the Talorans thought Earth was the homeworld of the human species.

“I won't,” Tisara assured her, and then began. “I was born, Madame President, in one of the Palaces of the Crown Princess of Midela, my mother at the time, in the wing of the Sea Palace at Land's End in the far north. It is a windswept granite rock with a great fortress built upon it, a hundred and ten kilometers north of the capital of Ulanci. It is only occupied by the Crown Princess in the summer, of course, when the climate is warmer and more gentle, and it was there my mother chose to give birth. It was a long birthing, I'm told; she was in labour for two days,”

Roslyn tried not to wince, reminding herself that might not be very serious by Taloran standards. They had not covered reproductive biology at all...

“And,” Tisara continued, “I was somewhat large as a child. Curious, that.” She declined to elaborate. “My first year of sentience began some three years later, a bit earlier than average, and I suppose I was a clever girl..”

Billy couldn't resist at that point. “Your Serene Highness... A first year of sentience? Could you explain the concept to us? We don't have something in our own biology, or society.”

“It's the first year at which a baby is capable of thinking,” Tisara replied. “I'm surprised the Baroness Fraslia has not had a chance to discuss these things. But at any rate, with Talorans—the children are born fully formed, and are quickly able to run, rather than with humans—but our minds do not develop until much later. Around the age of ten to twelve in Terran years. I understand that it is possible for the brain of a human to be so large at birth because of the broad hips of the human female. Our physiology does not include such an adaptation.”

It's a bit startling to realize precisely how alien they are, Roslyn mused inside a she heard the surprising revelation. For all the similarities, they don't even have childhoods much like our's. Anything like them, really. I wonder how they're educated? She couldn't help but vocalize that question: “What's the education procedures, then, Your Serene Highness? Human children would have a.. Tremendous advantange.”

“We develop much more precociously in the brain once we begin to, and so a very disciplined and intense approach is required to rapidly transfer as much information as possible to the child while teaching the stern realities of discipline,” Tisara replied. “I don't know anything about the raising of human children, but I do know that we push the mental and physical faculties of our children to the limit to inoculate them for the rigours of life.”

That sounds downright brutal... But, again, who are we to say what's brutal and what's not for Talorans? Yet she seems to think it was unpleasant, herself. “Do you appreciate it?”

“It's necessary,” Tisara answered negligently, her expression seeming to suggest that she'd rather not discuss the subject. “As a child of a Great Queen, I had the most rigorous education of them all, following with little modification the works of the Great Queen In'ghara.”

“In'ghara was one of the three daughters of Valera, yes?”

“Yes. She defeated the foundress of our own line, Fileya, and the eldest sister, Taradrua, and exiled them. Our own holdings were built up in the roughest circumstances imaginable during Fileya's long exile, to form one of the great three houses of our people, the third of the Three Sisters, but also, until recent times, always the most triumphant and redoubtable. We never lost our capital, as the other branches did from time to time in their histories.” Tisara's voice burned with pride.

“What was your.. Sentient childhood like, then?”

“Ah, wonderful. Effavsur and Rostok riding came first, and rhetoric and the classics. We were rigorously trained for every moment of our lives, but with it came a stunning chance for beauty, up there in the northern highlands of the Wisam peninsula. Then my Aunt, the reigning Great Queen, died without heirs and my mother, her younger sister, succeeded her. We were moved to the Ilunam palace in the city.

“You should really see a Taloran city sometime, Madame President. They are most incredible things. We build hundreds or thousands of stories high, and deep, and most of the transport is in elevators rather than horizontal. Public transportation of some degree or another provides connections from each building to the other, from sealed walking tubes feeding progressively into people-movers and then subways. In the shadows of the lowest streets, you can buy every gaudy thing and see every sort of display, and vendors sell things as they did thousands of years before; the parks are filled with markets and auction stands, and then these, too, drift away into sculpted areas of peaceful contemplation.

“You can see a young girl dance herself silly with her own intense energy, or two men haggling over the price of meat. To think, on that—thousands of years of progress, but we have maintained the old ways enough that coin still matters for so much, and people can still negotiate over things fairly. We have not ironed all the kinks out of society; we have the charm of the unusual. Our workers can still take pride in their works...

“But forgive me. The glories of escaping off into the city, sometimes, incognito, are not so great as those of the countryside, at least to me. There are those who say that the nobility is biased in this regard.. And perhaps so. But I love nothing more than an unspoilt forest, or a tract of desert which has not been brought to farmland, through which Yatila plod slow and strong. There is a peace there, under the white-green light of the sun, a power in the wind and the sand and the cold dry air, which cannot be matched otherwise. The fields—I love them to, but more in the warm summer months when the grains are growing and the air leaves you feeling lethargic, to hot to bother with much to do.

“We have so much more natural land on our world, and this I prefer, especially in the bracing months of the long winter when one must be active to stay warm. Hunting wild Arisk and Rivaln in the northern mountains of Midela Colenta... How could there by a finer challenge in the whole of the universe?

“I have found that there is nothing better than the power of the hunt. It releases the savage nature inside of one...” Tisara smiled there, “but at the same time it sates it, and leaves one feeling generous. And there is nothing more generous than the sort of thing that I have done before, when hunting with my friends: To surprise a family of tenant farmers on some great estate near which we have just hunted, or are still pursuing the game, and in exchange for a meal and their beds for a night, and some damage to the fields they work from the charge of our rostok—to exchange those small inconviences for a bag of rialas, tossed on the doorstep the next day? To give them the memory of the high nobility having shared their house for a night? I like nothing more.”

“It seems very rustic,” Roslyn confessed, somewhat entranced by the poetic language that Tisara used, and not really aware of how she was saying altogether very little concrete. Whatever else one might say about the Archduchess, she was actually a master of such events as this... Quiet and companionable dinners were her chance to make herself appear good in the eyes of all, and her talent was fully used at that moment.

“But tell me, then, how you came to such a distant posting, from such wealth and casual power.”

“Ahhh.” Tisara looked the part, fondly in thought, and then told an utter lie, which Ysalha obediently did not blink at, mostly because it was wrapped in truths, and also because she knew of the importance of such lies: “Madame President, I went to the university, and it was there I joined a dueling society.. You can see the scars on my face, of course, from our endless competitions. But I also met my dear Ysalha there. Then we, as nobility, both went on to the Imperial Fleet Academy.

“But rather after our graduation, I am afraid to say that news was released by an.. Indiscreet soul,” and here Ysalha curiously flushed, “That we were involved with each other. Since she is not of a sufficient emanation for me to marry, the relationship was frowned upon, and by our refusal to part, we have been exiled to the outer rim.”

So koina does mean lover! Billy thought rather triumphantly, or at least something very similar. Otherwise he knew the virtues of silence in such rarefied air.

“Does that not imply that your relationship is... One of a subordinate and her superiour, involved in an extramarital relationship.. Which by our standards,” she tried to phrase it delicately. “Would not be permissable between two military officers?”

“Oh, it isn't for us either,” Tisara answered and then smiled charmingly. “But some rules can be bent for the second daughter of the Great Queen of Midela Colenta.”

So she admits to some privilage... But it seems a very innocent one, the way she makes it out. “What could compel your people to exile you in a way that seems so very cruel to you, but still make allowances for you when you serve?”

“I am expected to serve the state and with it the All-Highest Empress,” Tisara answered, “And so they found a place where I could be of use. It is my duty... And though they don't approve, they won't halt me from doing my duty.”

“I'm afraid we simply don't have such a concept,” Roslyn answered. “It seems like it is more important than the.. Moral condemnation associated with your love.” She was aware of a certain sanction in some variants of the faith of the Lords of Kobol, that homosexuality would be accepted and protected... But most orthodox religionists in the Colonies did not approve, and the political side of her mind was churning over the issue... “At any rate, these... Emanations? They.. Don't really seem to have something to do with your both being of the same sex,” she concluded bluntly, and with a faint flush.

“Oh, there would be nothing wrong with that!” Tisara answered very energetically, ears up. “If only my poor Ysalha were raised to some suitable rank. No, no, it was all over rank, all over blood emanation from Valera. We of the Imperial Valerian Dynasty, in all branches, are forbidden from marrying all but each other, and the very highest nobility, lest we dilute the blood of blood of Valera, lest the sacred lineage be impunged.” In some discordant way, Tisara even believed what she was saying; she could not live without doing so. But any Taloran would have seen her as a base hypocrite.. None were here.

“That is the full nature of the problem. After all, were you not told of the Romance of Valera and Taliya?”

“Actually, no. I take it that this refers to the Valera?”

“Yes,” Tisara answered. “I'm surprised that Fraslia did not tell you, Madame President.”

“She seemed to avoid any discussions of religions, Your Serene Highess. Understandably, as monotheism causes us some concerns...”

Both the Talorans' ears perked straight up, and Tisara most assuredly spoke for them both: “Why, you do not hold to belief in a single, omnipotent God?”

“I..” Roslyn started to begin her explanation she'd been mulling over of Colonial religion, when an officer from the bridge entered and quietly approached her. She leaned back and let him whisper to her, and then she straightened, looking over to Tisara:

“My apologies, Archduchess, but the Battlestar Pegasus has returned.”
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-05-04 10:37pm

Chapter Eleven

The return of the Pegasus had an immediate positive effect on the morale of the fleet. It also interrupted dinner with the Archduchess Tisara, and made a delay in negotiations important, at any rate, if the Archduchess stalled in any way herself in granting favourable terms. Roslyn could now reliably negotiate, after all, their combined forces having won a victory and the military's chief representative here. She had no intention of conceding their independence in the slightest way.

On returning to the table where the Talorans were finishing dinner, Roslyn approached that matter politely. “Archduchess?”

“Ah, yes?” She looked up from her food, dabbing her napkin on her lips, something that Taloran nobles did at regular intervals even when they didn't need to, and having seemed to have genuinely enjoyed themselves. Even Billy looked happy, despite having had to amuse an immensely powerful individual and her lover for a good twenty minutes. “I was just telling your aide here the epic of Valera and Taliya...”

“That's unfortunate. I'd like to hear it myself sometime,” Roslyn offered. “But at any rate, I have good news for you. The Jhammind survived the battle with some moderate damage only. Your fleet arrived to witness a victory, and the Galactica and Pegasus were nearly untouched; the Galactica is aiding with damage control aboard the Jhammind at the moment.”

“Very good. I trust that the traditions of the service have been upheld, and thank you for your extension of aid to our cruiser,” Tisara answered, seeming quite unconcerned by the prospect of casualties.

That was disconcerting to Roslyn, who thought they would be an interest of the alien noblewoman, but.. Really, don't assume things about them. There may be some reason for this. Or they simply don't see life as we do.. Which would be very problematic, to put it mildly, and ominous. Yet there was no experience with aliens which might or might not suggest otherwise.

“I've asked for Admiral Cain to come here, Archduchess, so that we can proceed to discuss the particulars of our situation. With the threat of immediate pursuit ended, the support of the fleet and the political interrelations between our respective States need to be addressed.”

Tisara stretched, slightly. “I can arrange for the indefinite supply of the fleet, really. It is a very minor matter, you have a population less than the crews of four dreadnoughts. The main issue is getting the civilians away from the zone of hostilities. We can arrange for refugee camps on an existing human planet in the Empire, of course. It would be a small matter to accomadate the number of people that you have in the fleet, and, well, the ships you're using are clearly not designed for sustained inhabitation.”

Laura couldn't help but feel a flush of anger rising in her. “We're not refugees to be placed in camps, Archduchess. We're a free people with a self-sustaining society, and we should have some place to go that can be our's. Do you have the authority to grant us this?”

Tisara seemed to frown and spoke something that took a moment to translate. “Madame President, let me make it clear. This area was intended for Taloran colonization... Are you simply asking us to give you an uninhabited planet or provide you with artificial colony for your people?”

Roslyn decided to dare it all at that point. “Yes, Your Serene Highness. Yes I am. I want our people to have their own world, as an independent power, as they fully deserve to be.”

“There's a world just coreward of here,” Tisara began in response, measuring her words. “It's a vicious jungle and a worthless dungheap, in my opinion. I've been on the surface during the surveying process. I could give it to you—it's only one of two naturally habitable worlds close to this reach of space—and I ought to, since it's the worst of the two. But there's another one, further out of your line of retreat, which is much nicer. Cosier, even, a bit cool by human standards but just fine by Taloran ones. I'd consider it.. Quite a gift to adjudicate a treaty with you providing for its transfer.

“But it preserves the lines of communication of my fleet to what will certainly be a new front, which will pass through this other, closer, but worse world. So consider yourself fortunate, Madame President.. As I'm prepared to negotiate the giving of the better world to you. What do you have to offer us in return?”

“Twelve habitable planets rightfully part of our Confederacy, after their whole surviving populations and any constructs on them have been removed and transported to our new homeworld,” Roslyn answered rather quietly, and then added: “And the homeworld of our people, Kobol, if all the holy sites upon it are protected and declared off-limits to your people for all time, and under our care.”

“Kobol is on the line of communication to the twelve colonies, and they to the most distant habitable world I fancy to be in this galaxy, the Cylon homeworld?”


“Of course we'd annex the whole region,” Tisara replied, “but the religious sites will be protected, by your own people if necessary; we'd be quite conscientious about such things. The land could, in fact, remain legally your territory. We're quite able to deal with dividing up planets politically between multiple jurisdictions.

“But we'd expect some binding treaties. And I warn you that I cannot enforce the terms we agree to; they would but be a preliminary proposal which must be ratified by the Empress. There will be considerable pressure to guide your whole nation into the position of an Imperial fiefdom or at least a protectorate.”

“We have no lords to swear fealty to the Empire, and no interest in being a part of it... That could only lead to negative consequences.” As Roslyn finished, though, she recoiled somewhat at the expression on the Archduchess' face.

“You aren't in any position, Madame President,” Captain Armenbhat interjected smoothly and politely, “to make threats of resistance. You have seen the full strength of our squadron... And we have countless others behind it. The immense kindness of Her Serene Highness in giving you a planet we have claimed... Does her little service at home, when we are already unwelcome there. We are going on a limb, as I believe the human expression is, for you.”

Laura stifled a response for a moment. She couldn't tell if Armenbhat was interjecting for the sake of calm or as a calculated insult to her in, perhaps, the Archduchess subtly delegating her to a subordinate. On the other hand, they were lovers, and perhaps Armenbhat had just finished some unspoken thoughts of the Archduchess'.

“Alright. I understand where you're coming from. But I hope you'll work to avoid that possibility, which could cause plenty of misfortune for all of us.”

“I will work to avoid it,” the Archduchess replied affiably... “But I did not mean to imply that this was simply a gift. I'd like something else from you.”

It raised Laura's hackles, metaphysically speaking, to look at the alien, speaking alien words, and wonder at just what the translation concealed, or misinterpreted. “What else to do want?”

“Something personal, for myself and my dear Captain here.”

“We have little with which to oblige such refined tastes.”

“Ahh, but you have already shown me the height of civility, Madame President. And it's a small matter.” She tiled her head, ears proudly up. “Make me the supreme commander, ah, Generalissimo, of your combined military forces, on a permanent appointment, and allow me to make the same for Captain Armenbhat, to the position of Chief of the General Staff, and give us extensive lands on your new homeworld, suitable for our lifestyle.”

There are so many objections to that request that I don't know where to begin! Laura felt a bit overpowered by that moment, and decided that the conversation really needed to stop. She wasn't aware of how she could evaluate a request which was wrong at every level of her values systems, so wrong that it seemed that the Archduchess must be looking at it with an utterly different perspective beyond her immediate comprehension. They are truly alien to us, regardless the similarities.

“Forgive me, that I can't answer such a major question at once, Archduchess.. Though I must confess it is unusual to me... You are an officer of your own country's military.”

“As I would remain. I cannot violate my oaths to Her Serene Majesty the Empress, but within that limit you'd have my full service.”

“Ahh..” And this works because you know when you can't trust them? It sounds common here, but... She shook her head. “I'm going to have to consider that for a while, Archduchess. Now, if you'll forgive me, I wish to see to Admiral Cain... I'd like for her to meet with you and for all of us to discuss operational matters in more detail. Can you stay aboard the Colonial One at present?”

“Do you have quarters prepared for us?”

“Ah.. Space is very limited,” Roslyn decided against explaining to them that there was literally no spare room. Especially after having pressed their expectations to the limit as things stood. But... “As honoured guests, however, I'll give you my own quarters. They're small and cozy, as I've been trying to set an example to the whole fleet on space-saving measures.. But they should be quite comfortable for the two of you. The bed is long enough, for instance..”

Captain Armenbhat seemed to turn a sort of gray-green, which didn't seem healthy but clearly was normal, and Tisara smiled quite vaguely and folded her hands delicately upon the table.. And then consciously reached over, taking one of the taller woman's, and folding it into her own. “Thank you, Madame President. You are showing a considerable kindness to us, when we have been gone from civilization for so very long. I assume you'll have us meet with Admiral Cain tomorrow, when you've had a chance to confer with her yourself?”

“Yes, and then a meeting with the Quorum of the Twelve immediately afterwards. They are our representative legislative body, and they must vote on any initial agreements that we strike,” Laura replied.

“They have the power to control the ratification of treaties?” The Archduchess Tisara looked surprised by that.

“Yes, it's very important for us, though a relatively new field of diplomacy for the Confederacy. But they were de facto given that power in the negotiations with the Cylons. They certainly have the right to that same approval and oversight in these negotiations as well.”

“I understand, though I confess giving a legislature so much power is utterly alien to us.”

“You will have to learn to respect it if you wish to serve this government...”

Tisara's brow twitched faintly. “Madame President, I keep my oaths no matter what. No Taloran noble would ever break one. It is inconceivable to us.”

“I believe you. We are all having our perspectives broadened by these encounters between our very different peoples, however, Your Serene Highness.. And I hope that you take some time to consider the matters that such exchanges have raised amongst us.”

“I will, in time. For the moment, however, if you would excuse me and my koina for the evening, such as it is..? It has been truly lovely talking and dining with you, Madame President, and I hope for many more such meetings in the future, but we had a hard run out here. The Orelyost was pushed to the limit, and she did well for a ship with a poor reputation with stripping her gravitic impellers, and it was a strain on the whole squadron, myself included.. But especially my Chief of Staff.”

“Of course. I'll send someone to clear out my room, if you'll wait in the ship's saloon for a moment...” She got up to lead them there personally, and left Billy standing in the room rather quizzically musing on what he'd just heard.

After they'd left, he commented to the air: “You know, I just think I witnessed an alien noblewoman explain why she was more interested in sex with her girlfriend than worrying about a major diplomatic initiative.” Chuckling, he headed back to his quarters, stopping to pick up some files for the President that needed to be worked on.. Which delayed him just long enough to get a very annoying surprise. The door to his cabin was locked. He buzzed the entry comm, and a very familar and thoroughly authoritative voice answered:

“Oh, sorry, Billy. I forgot to tell you, but since I gave my suite to the Talorans, I'm borrowing your's for the night. I'm sure you can find someone else to room with...”

********** *************************************** ****************

“Welcome aboard, Commander Adama,” the Baroness Istarlan offered her hand and bowed effusively in a gesture of respect the other captain did not really warrant from a noblewoman. The bay was still being used for damage control, and the sight was impressive, and grim.

“Thank you kindly, Commander Fraslia. I'm sorry that the situation had to reach this state, and quite understand why you didn't want to muster personnel for a formal greeting..”

“And thank you for understanding.” The somewhat gray skin of the Taloran commander flushed vaguely and she expressively shifted her yellow eyes toward the DC centre. “We're actually wrapping things up here. We've done about all that we can do, except wielding some patches of armour plate over the damaged areas, which have all be contained and cut off from the rest of the ship in systems architecture terms... Those who will live, have been stabilized.”

A stiff nod. “My condolences on the behalf of my ship, Commander. You saved plenty lives of our's, Plenty of them, and at a grave cost to yourselves.”

“Your condolences are accepted, as certainly the Lord of Justice heard them. But you came so unobtrusively for another reason, I imagine, when protocol suggests you should be with Rear Admiral Joshart..” A wry sort of flattered smile was offered as the Taloran and the human began to walk together out of the bay, left alone save for the acknowledgements as they traveled through the ship...

“Sickbay, yes... I take it you're already leading me there?”

“That's correct, Commander Adama.”

“Thank you. I did want to see them for myself. And Lane Ishay...” A chuckle. “And thank the doctor who worked on all three of them.”

Fraslia seemed in a better mood at the conversation. “Your medic, Lane Ishay, did a very good job in bad circumstances in helping with the two surgical procedures. It is a pity about her leg, but that will heal fast enough under our care, with Doctor Ghimalia overseeing them all—that's the doctor you wish to meet, I imagine.”

“Yes. She's worked on humans before, I take it?”

“A mixed race crew, so she had special xenophysiology and xenobiology classes for it, and some anatomical experience, yes. A young doctor, she entered on a service-for-education agreement, as I remember..”

“We had payment plans for college as part of our service benefits here, also. But they're usually for enlisted personnel, and they only attend after service.”

“Ah, yes, that is quite different. All college students.. Are automatically considered officer material in the Taloran Star Empire.”

“That's an interesting way of looking at it. Officers are.. Very specialized for us. How do you handle crewing?”

“Maritime conscription,” Fraslia answered, and seeing the look on Adama's face continued on to provide an explanation: “The crewers of regular civilian star vessels are required to serve a period in the Starfleet. That way we get them already trained for starship operations, making the additional military training much simpler to inoculate in them. Terms of service are usually two Taloran years. It also means that all of our civilian ships are largely staffed with crewers who have military experience, making it easy for us to draw on a large manpower pool in wartime, and to effectively discipline convoys and other civilian ship operations during periods of military necessity. Most of the officers of civilian ships are, for that matter, navy officers on half-pay.”


“Given no duties and no assignments, but liable to receive orders at any time. Officers are never, as such, reservists in the Taloran system. Instead they are always active-duty, half-pay without assignment, until given a posting, at which point we're elevated to full pay, of course, as we're assigned duties. I've spent almost two decades on half pay before until I accrued enough seniority.”

“It must have been boring for you.” It was an awkward attempt at conversation and he knew it, but there was not much he could say to someone he had let down like he'd been forced to with Fraslia.

“Not really. One keeps busy when one has a country to run back home. My younger sister normally handles those duties when I'm gone, of course.” Fraslia had a rather fond look at the moment, and she briefly forgot the situation of her ship. But no commander's heart could linger long from it...

“You pushed her into coming, didn't you?”

“Yes. How did you know?” Even the normally grim and laconic Adama was somewhat impressed by that observation.

“She didn't trust me, and I think she wanted the ship eliminated because of the Cylons. And in hoping that whomever else came would be more malleable. Unfortunately, she might be right there.. Even without the demise of the Jhammind. Or she may be very, very wrong, to the detriment of us all.” Fraslia seemed to be wanting to share something, but hesitant in actually doing so..

So Adama obligingly prompted her: “This Admiral, the Archduchess Tisara Urami. You seem to have a poor opinion of her, Commander. I know that I'm pushing against your duties as an officer under her commander...”

“She is a tyrant, a sadist, and a pervert!” Fraslia flushed and turned away. “Forgive me. I shouldn't have said that, Commander, though it's all true. The Archduchess Tisara Urami is a.. She should be one of the most powerful people in the whole Empire but instead she's commanding a distant expanse of almost uninhabitable wasteland, barely worth us even bothering with before I discovered your convoy.

“Out here, beyond the human territories, there is very little. Earth is already near the edge of the galactic arm... You are just further and further out from Earth in turn, on the very edge of the galaxy itself. She was placed out here precisely to keep her from causing problems with foreign nations. And now she is in charge of the negotiations. Probably until someone with superiour diplomatic powers, and an Admiral who can outrank her, are both sent.

“She is persona non grata on Talora Prime. She will never leave this sector, if our government has its way, unless she wishes to languish improvished and forgotten. Her life is here. Her and her mistress... Who serves as her own Chief of Staff. Nobody can even be bothered to enforce the service regulations against her as long as she is content with her position here.

“Mind you, she is very courageous and intelligent, and the Baroness Titangirt, her lover, is an excellent strategist and between the two of them they will certainly excellently persecute a war against the Cylons if that is the course of things. Because of the intense dislike for her, not only luck and birth were required for her to rise this far, but also genuine skill. But she's driven crews to mutiny before—which is almost unheard of in recent centuries--and her desires are unnatural.

“You condemn homosexuality that strongly?”

“Wha..? Oh, no, not that at all!” Fraslia's eyes were wide and her expression filled with shock. “Though it's not a personal taste of mine or any of my family or my officers, it's quite legitimate in our religious tradition. The Sword of God herself loved Taliya, her first and finest General, and they kissed on Taliya's deathbed.. No, no, it's not that. It's that... The Archduchess has certain unnatural sexual desires which she inflicts on the Baroness Titangirt, who.. Is similarly deviant in that she willingly desires and submits to this behaviour...” Fraslia was flushed in the sickly gray-green Taloran way, though with her skin already grayish she must have been very embarrassed for it to show up as noticeably as it did.

“A sadist,” Adama repeated knowingly, guessing at what the rest of Fraslia's embarrassed explanation had led to. “Don't worry about it anymore, Commander. I understand what you're speaking of, I believe. Enough, anyway.” He frowned. “Unfortunately such behaviour is not explicitly condemned by any law of our government, though plenty of people would find it immoral in the extreme.. And might even be surprised that you allow her to serve as an Admiral and haven't forced her to resign. Let alone to keep her mistress at her side. It could be a political issue for us, as we have some very deeply religious people in the fleet. Consider that a warning. The same goes, bluntly, for the fact that their relationship is homosexual.”

“The warning is taken, and I'll convey it privately to Admiral Joshart at some point,” Fraslia replied. “Hn.. It is unfortunate that we must work behind our superiours' backs like this, but the situation must surely be kept stable, Commander, and for that you have my word...”

“And mine, also.” The promise came readily at this point. “You're right, I don't trust Admiral Cain at all. No more than you trust the Archduchess, and possibly less. She is unstable, and she has turned at least some of her crew into sadists through what she did to her Cylon prisoners. One might level the charge against her directly, and I can only question what the two of them could come up with together..

“Make no mistake, I intend to preserve the independence and governance of my people, Commander, and if a conspiracy is hatched against that purpose...”

“You will have my help in disrupting it,” Fraslia affirmed. “We are not such a people as to try to forcibly annex others without cause, and you have given us no cause whatsoever. I will do my best, within the limitations of my oath to Her Serene Majesty the All-Highest Empress.”

“Then we have something we can work with, Commander.”

The two had arrived at sickbay. No more words needed to be said. Fraslia simply went forward, searching through the room until her eyes fell upon a young Taloran woman in surgical garb, and half that stripped off now in exhaustion to reveal the jumpsuit below, slim even by the standards of their people, taller even than Fraslia, with exotically white hair flowing wavily down to her knees, and bleached, hauntingly translucent skin which showed her veins and hints of more below in an almost sickening way.... And metallic eye sockets holding glowing red ocular scanners. Adama shuddered when he saw them.

“This is Doctor Ghimalia,” Fraslia said quite significantly.

“I hope my appearance is not an issue,” the Doctor said with a gentle sort of smile on pallid lips, ears politely downward-facing and forward. “But I suffer from albinism, which explains most of it, and the cybernetic eye replacements deal with the loss of vision common in albinos, which explains the rest of it. I'm the one who dealt with all three of your humans... The two Cylon prisoners and Medic Ishay.”

Adama forced himself to nod politely. “Thank you for that, Doctor. I'll confess that we're not at all used to cybernetic enhancements among our people and they carry strong overtones of our Cylon enemies. But clearly your's come from some very considerable need, and I apologize for staring. It was just not something I'd expected.”

“That's not a problem at all, Commander. I've dealt with fellows who have the same problem... And no redeeming qualities.. Before. Sentiment for the United Terran Homeland Party still runs high on Earth, and they also dislike cybernetics.”

“You've been to Earth, then?” Adama focused in more on the doctor as Fraslia stepped politely aside.

“Oh yes, I had my cross-species specialization training in homo sapiens with Imperial College London's faculty of medicine. I lived on Earth for a bit more than a whole Earth year, the whole time in a little flat in South Kensington by the school... It's a charming city, so much more flat and sprawling than even Valeria, let alone Ulasnost on my homeworld where I grew up... But, ah, you wouldn't know much about such places. Forgive me, Commander.”

“It's quite alright. You get along well with humans, I take it?”

“Oh, always! And your food is very good. The English have several excellent traditional dishes, which I've actually learned to make equivalents of with Taloran ingredients. Donair Kebabs, Curry, fish and chips... Traditional English cuisine is quite unique.” The lack of eye expression was mitigated by the energetic movement of her ears. “Do you want to see the patients?”

“That's what I'm here for, Doctor.”

“Right this way, then... They're actually all doing very well. Lane has been trying to get up and help... But she'll be down for several days..”

“Only several days?” No surprise their med tech is better, too..

“Yes, would you like me to tell you about the healing techniques used..?”

Fraslia was grinning to herself as Ghimalia led Adama back into sickbay. Poor fellow, after a few hours with her... But they really needed to see someone who had lived on Earth before, so it's all good in the end. Now if Her Serene Highness can just avoid thoroughly screwing things up...
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-06-28 10:07pm

Chapter Twelve

“Your Serene Grace, I present to you Admiral Helena Cain, supreme commander of all Colonial military forces,” President Roslyn said, a bit uncomfortably, as she gestured toward the short and long-haired, cold-looking woman standing in front of the conference table. She who looked understandably annoyed at the prospect of having to spend the entire meeting looking up at the immense height of the Talorans.

“And to you, Admiral,” Roslyn said next, “I present Admiral the Archduchess Tisara Urami, commander and military governor of the spinward colonization sector of the Taloran Empire that we are currently in. And with her, her Chief of Staff, Captain Armenbhat.”

“Admiral,” Tisara observed, sizing up her effective counterpart.

“Archduchess,” Cain answered, trying the unfamilar word on for size; there was no equivalent in her own language and that meant mastering the Taloran, which was dependent on tones. She did not sit when the others did, but instead braced herself with her hands against the back of a chair, content to stand for the whole meeting.

It yielded some grudging respect from Tisara, who was hardly self-indulgent of pleasure, save for the sadistic perversions which had banished her for life to the outmarches. “We have been discussing arranging for the provision of a colony world to your people, for the purpose of securing the refugees of this humanitarian catastrophe. What's the status of your military vessels, Admiral?”

“Two battlestars fighting fit, though the Galactica has only a half compliment of Vipers, but we're bringing it up fast,” Cain answered, knowing better than to prevaricate. “Other than that we just have a single lightly armed communications ship in the fleet. That's all I can offer you for joint operations.” She paused for a moment. “Do you have any more of those battlecruisers?”

“No, I'm afraid not,” Tisara answered, and that was, certainly, a genuine answer. “Four battlecruisers, four light carriers, and a single old system defence battleship for support to our dockyards. Which I can bring forward in an urgent situation, mind you. It would be useful against these Cylons. Plenty of smaller cruisers, though. What do you have in mind, Admiral?”

“Joint operations against the Cylons, of course.”

“Those aren't my prerogative,” Tisara answered, and then held up a hand to forestall apparent protests. “Unless you're prepared to sign arrangements associating your people with the Empire. I can immediately at that point turn my squadrons to your cause and make the action a reasonably defensible one.”

“That's out of the question,” Roslyn interjected before Admiral Cain could even speak. “Our independence remains a non-negotiable fact. I am quite prepared,” and this was directed to Cain, “to avoid offensive operations against the Cylons in the interest of preserving the independent character of our people, and the safety of the fleet. And that is a directive.”

Admiral Cain was not a happy woman. “Madame President, if we don't try to regain our worlds, what exactly do you propose?”

“Admiral, that is a civilian matter. Suffice to say that your first duty is to make sure that the arrangements I conclude with the Archduchess,” she continued coldly, “are enacted in such a way as to preserve the civilians of the fleet.”

Her attention was turned back to Tisara. “My apologies, Archduchess. Suffice to say, we are looking to settle in your territory without in any way acceding to the Empire. How far can we go in that regard?”

“In that case I can provide space for the civilian refugees only,” Tisara answered. “Of course, we can come to other arrangements, and I would discuss that treat with you... But this does not seem an opportune time.” The internally exiled Taloran royal was intimately aware of the power issues going on around her, and played them delicately. Her expression was as calm as one could expect, and quite alien. “In light of that, I recommend the nearest habitable planet. It is only marginally habitable, but we'll soon have relief supplies there, and it's more convenient for our supply ships than the one I proposed in our other discussions.”

Admiral Cain looked surprised at that comment, glancing to Roslyn from the side, musing as to what precisely she might have been negotiating with the Archduchess already. “It will be easy enough to coordinate our forces to cover the retreat of the fleet, and to establish a new position... But is it really wise, Archduchess, to let our new home be fixed by the Cylon spies inevitably following the fleet? They will come. There's absolutely no doubt about it.”

“What would you propose us to do about that, Admiral?” Tisara answered carefully, ears flexing downward. “I can be reasonably certain that we'll see them off, but what else can be offered?”

“A raid. I want you to execute a raid on Caprica. Just one raid, we'll use our full strength to do it... We'll completely distract them while the colony ships reach this safe-haven, and we can play merry hell with them while we retreat. There's another advantage.” Cain let a strategic pause sink in. “As you said from your information, Madame President, there's... Cylon experimental camps on Caprica. There's also a resistance; there must be plenty of survivors. Perhaps, Archduchess, we can attempt to rescue some of them, and to drop arms to the others.”

“Experimentation camps?” The two Talorans were both looking extremely grave when they heard that.

“Of what kind?” Captain Armenbhat dared to specify, with a look that Roslyn might ascribe to trepidation.

“They're trying to genetically modify and breed the humans there, to our knowledge,” Roslyn explained, trying to keep a delicate tone without watering it down. “The experiments are of an utterly grotesque nature.”

“Just like the....” Armenbaht froze, and thought better of what she was going to say. “Forgive me.”


“An old war story my mother shouldn't have told me. It's a matter that, I'm afraid, remains highly classified in the Empire, and of some considerable dissension and debate.”

Tisara looked toward her lover, and began to speak in a language that the translator didn't handle. “Ooh-ankh-allee?”

“Sihn, grilastim jula, ul'orastima.”

Tisara's ears shifted and she spoke words that the translator handled again. “Forgive me. Just clarifying a small matter.”

“Unless it's a threat to us, it's not a problem, Archduchess.” Roslyn realized that it must have been in another language from standard Taloran.

“No, the Emergency in question was during my mother's time—when she was young, indeed, and the prior Empress, Intalasha III was still young on the throne herself—Her Serene Majesty's grandmother. Sadly Her Serene Majesty's mother the Princess Imperial Sikala died before taking the throne herself. She was a friend of mine,” Tisara concluded rather sadly.

It was an offhand comment, but it drove home to both the human women precisely how much influence this person had possessed, or, once possessed. Roslyn was aware that Tisara's self-confessed exile must be systematic, and it made her more hesitant of the prospects of achieving any sort of treaty with her which the Taloran central government would recognize.

“My apologies,” Roslyn answered, and then fell silent as a spell of dizziness swept her, from the drugs that were trying to keep her cancer at bay.

“What can you do militarily?” Admiral Cain asked, taking advantage of the moment to press the question to Tisara again in a different form.

“Cover the retreat of the refugees to a secure position,” Tisara answered.

“A diversion?” Cain dangled the prospect. “We could hit their forces at Caprica, prove to your people the savagery of the Cylons, possibly even drop weapons to the resistance forces.”

“Possibly. It depends on what sort of reinforcements I'm going to be receiving from the Imperial government. I can't risk damage to my forces if they are slow in coming.”

“It would quite possibly be necessary for us to guarantee the safety of the fleet, Archduchess.”

“I'm aware of that.”

“Admirals,” Roslyn interrupted, feeling a bit better. “You'll forgive me, but the Archduchess and I need to prepare for a meeting of the council, now. I will, however, authorize a diversionary raid on Caprica if you can both concur on the particulars of it, and if some attention is paid to rescuing those who remain on the surface.”

“Of course, Madame President.”

************** ********************* **************************

The Crags of Leluno,
Talora Prime.

“Once I get used to the air, it is beautiful,” the All-Highest Empress acknowledged with a gesture of acknowledgement by her ears to her closest friend and confidante, the Archduchess Leluno. “It's amazing how thin it is.”

“I hear that on Terra they actually have a major metropolis at this altitude,” Jhastimia Rulandh---for that was the Archduchess' first name and clan name (the name of her motherline being the same as Saverana's, as they were both members of the Valerian Dynasty)--answered. “Or so some of the members of the Princess Jhayka's entourage say to me.”

“She has quite the collection of humans about her, and it's nice they haven't made her so strange that she is not an appealing raconteur anymore,” Saverana answered, her hands in fingerless gloves, resting against the stone of the balcony and looking down over the verdant lowland valley that was sprawled out before them, where the farmers and their families would be going about their business scarcely realizing that the Empress was looking down upon them from the clifftop hunting—for the mountain-ranging Ritan--lodge of the Archduchess. Usually she was with the Empress, not the other way around.

“Did you hear about the reports from the frontier? The frontier? The Oralnif Spinward?”

“I came here to have a vacation, Jhastimia,” the Empress answered. “But you're right. We can't ignore Tisara's contact report. She's meeting with them right now, and... That is a very bad outcome.” The Empress sighed. “Unfortunately, nobody ever bothered to explain what was the matter with her. And I don't think my mother would have, regardless.”

“The Princess Sikala was very forgiving of old friends, yes. I never heard of the scandal while she was alive, and your grandmother just didn't have time.”

“It's a Midelan matter, except for the diplomacy, and so I'm increasingly inclined to have them deal with it,” Saverana began, and had clearly given more thought to the matter than she'd made it sound with her initial response.

“Oh? That's an interesting look at it, Your Majesty. How could the Midelan government handle it?”

“Their fifth battle squadron is conducting joint manoeuvres with a human Colonial fleet, I learned. Easy intervention range. It's commanded by Vice Admiral the Archduchess Sipamert.”

“....Tisara's aunt!?”

“It's a family matter. Let her family deal with her, I say. Sipamert has plenty of seniority over the Archduchess once we activate her—her rank in the Midelan Starfleet is of a full Admiral. And a Midelan wall of eight dreadnoughts with full escort is more than sufficient to deal with the matter at hand.” A wave of one of her gloved hands was directed upward. “As for the rest, Jhastimia, I'll appoint the Countess Palatine of Fulanaj as my emissary to these Colonials. She'll arrange matters quickly enough, and then hopefully these Cylons do only have one system, and we can deal with that in turn and eliminate this.. Rather severe and unexpected irritation to spinward.”

“She's a rather severe diplomat.”

“Her job is to just secure these humans, make sure they're aided, but still integrated so that they're not a threat. We can't risk an independent human nation in our home universe. I need someone who is prepared to remind them just how weak they are vis-a-vis the Empire, and make deals with those most willing to cooperative with us.”

“Well, Fulanaj is certainly capable of that. Her abrasive nature will not seem positive if word gets back to the human protectorates, however.”

“The new government will have a vested interest in supporting us by that time. We will gain the propaganda value, and still have security. I'm not concerned.”

“Very well, Your Majesty,” Jhastimia answered rather informally. “Do you want my staff to draw up the instructions for both? It will take Fulanaj at least three weeks to reach that area from the County Palatine on a fast courier, and the Midelan fleet ships, two.”

“We shall have to hope that the Archduchess does not further disgrace her line in the meanwhile,” Saverana agreed coolly. “So, yes, that will be sufficient.”

“Of course. I'll convey the instructions to them.” Jhastimia offered an affiable look, her ears bending slightly forward. “Your Majesty, do relax. This matter will not come up again during your vacation with any severity, I should think. These measures will deal with it. Come. Dinner will prepared soon, and it is a full Ridaleen bird prepared on the old hearth.”

“Thank you, Kavrila,” the supreme ruler of almost fifteen trillion people cast a baleful sidewise glance out across the valley below, while one of her hands grasped idly at a length of seaweed green hair. She had used Jhastimia's childhood nickname, and it brought a vague smile to the Archduchess. “It is just that events in this broader universe remain in a delicate time. Our situation has improved considerably since contact, with the massed fleet buildup that it has allowed, and the recent treaties. But until the Fesil Plan yields some fruit we will not have an absolute position of security. So we must tread lightly when among humans.”

“Then why send Fulanaj?”

“She is a good enough friend of humans. And humans... Find their democratic values easily tossed aside. Especially in moments like the ones these poor refugees have suffered through. Perhaps because of that they will end up the best and most loyal of our human subjects yet.”

“I think I see your intent.”

“Good. Shall we go freshen up for dinner, then?”

“Of course, Your Majesty.”

Saverana cast a last glance outward, this time, up at the sky. And then she followed Leluno quietly inside.

************** ***************************** *********************

Liner Cloud Nine.

Unlike the officers of the Jhammind, Vice Admiral of the Green Tisara, Her Serene Grace the Archduchess of Urami, wore an elaborate uniform with dark blue pants, white uniform jacket over dark blue working shirt, and the jacket itself being elaborately frogged with gold braid. Silver epaulettes draped the shoulders, and wonderful inlays of gold fabric ran down the sleeves. She wore black leather gloves, and under the jacket was a sash of red. She had a crimson cocked hat worn fore and aft with effavsur plumage along the top and more gold inlay on the sides. It left her ears free, and on each side of it was attached a green cockade to indicate that she was an Admiral of the Green, her rank being represented by a series of bronze shield-plates set onto the upper right of the sash.

To complete the look, her hair was elaborately braided, hanging as it did all the way down to her knees, and Ysalha had lovingly worked an end-piece into the very bottom with a large ruby in it. The belt was yellow, with a silver belt-buckle, and no sidearm was carried, just the incredibly elegant scabbard of her personal sword, made out of wood which was carved into countless scenes of the Midelan Dynasty, and the carvings carefully worked full of gold and silver, with tiny gemstones providing further enhancement. The hilt of the sword was covered in hammered silver entirely, and the pommel inset with a sapphire. On the opposite side was a sheath of black leather for a swagger stick with a diamond surmounting the button which fastened it. The top of the swagger stick projecting out had a counterweight to the fine polished brown wood in the form of the tooth of some massive carnivorous beast, and met the wood of the stick through the medium of a bronze sphere in which had been inset, by hand, a picture-story of the hunt in which she had shot the beast to whom the tooth had lately belonged.

She stood with the President, and faced the sitting Quorum of the Twelve, the elected government of the Twelve Colonies. In being introduced to, and defending her proposals before, an elected legislature, she was inexperienced. It was certain that many of them had reacted uncomfortably from the moment that they saw her, especially the man identified as 'Tom Zarek', representative of Sagittarius. Tisara, for her part, removed her gloves and settled them under her left arm now that she'd entered the chamber, and reached up, doffing her hat and also folding it under her left arm. It was as far in gestures of respect toward a democratically elected body that any high Taloran grandee might be expected to go.

“I've come here today,” Roslyn began, “to bring a proposal before you all which will be controversial. You have, of course, heard of the Talorans, and the official explanations which have been given to the fleet. There is another matter at hand, which has not been explained yet, and which I must do so with some care.

“Councilors, the Taloran government is in a relationship of association with the human governments of the Thirteenth Colony, which we call Earth, and which rule over it. Simply put, the rest of humanity is part of the Taloran Star Empire, and we are going to have to deal with Her Serene Grace, Vice Admiral Tisara, the Archduchess of Urami,” at this Roslyn gestured to Tisara after choking down the title, “for any of our interactions with the Thirteenth Colony. I believe that the particulars of this arrangement should be dealt with before we discuss anything further, so I'll leave it to Her Serene Grace to answer questions herself.”

Nobody should have been surprised when Tom Zarek spoke first. “Admiral,” he said, and the neglect of the title was very obvious, “Just precisely what are you entitled to represent?”

“Her Serene Majesty the Empress Saverana the Second, All-Highest Sovereign of the Taloran Star Empire.”

“A person.”

“Yes, Councilor. We do not have a nation so much as personal loyalty to the Valerian Dynasty, of which I am a part, albeit a rather minor part. As do the human monarchs of Earth.”

“Earth is ruled by monarchies?”

“With five exceptions composing approximately one-fourth of the population.”

The expression on Tom Zarek's face could have cut steel. It was a credit to the imperious sadist across from him that she regarded him with a neutral expression which did not alter once the whole time; nor did she blink nor shift her head. The result was a face-off of expressions which left everyone else in the room distinctly uncomfortable, an irrestible force colliding head on with an immovable object. The stare-down looked like it could last for several days.

“So are these monarchs Talorans? You've conquered a significant portion of humanity—how dare you come before us now?”

“No, they're all humans,” Tisara answered, glossing over the Duchess of Medina, who didn't really rule over very many humans anyway. “Councilor, we restored the traditional human monarchies in all areas where they stood, only, in due response... To the reign of a tyranny which sought to commit genocide against its own people, to destroy revolted orbital habitats in the Sol system which held hundreds of millions of people. They asked for our help, and we helped them. We have insured that human governments rule the human populace, and the less the intervention we are required to make.. The better. I would say in all honesty that the opening of humanity to the commerce of the Empire has brought a golden age of prosperity.

“Certainly, we make no distincts by race, and hold no particular belief in our own strength or righteousness. We simply act as we see fit.. And treat the humans under the domain of my family the same as the subjects of every other race in the Empire, Talorans included. We are no tyrants, and humanity looks to the Empress only for direction beyond their own affairs.”

“It is certainly 'comforting' that humanity is as thoroughly enslaved by your family as your own people, and numerous other races,” Zarek answered with sarcastic bite. “Perhaps you wish to extend this domination to us as well? But you won't—we'll fight you to the last man before that happens!”

“That's quite out of order!”

A moment of objections and counter-objections followed while Tisara remained coldly quiet. Roslyn herself broke in there, acting earlier than she would have liked:

“Councilors, as a matter of fact, we have come to a treaty agreement—and it contains all necessary provisions for the recognition of our independence. The Talorans have no interest in controlling the population of the Twelve Colonies, both in this fleet and the survivors who may remain behind.”

“What are the terms, Madame President?” Eladio Puasha of Scorpia asked.

“The Talorans will cede one habitable world of Earthlike qualities in the Oralnif Spinward to us, and its entire system. They will,” and here Roslyn had pressed Tisara at the last minute, and gained her concurrence. “further recognize our control of Kobol and the surrounding system, and make provision for free trade and commerce between those two systems between claimed Imperial space without any restrictions whatsoever. A sum suitable to the surviving population which may be evacuated from the twelve colonies will be provided to construct cities and industries to support our population, using Taloran technology, to which we would have access to the plans.

“A military defensive alliance would be established on this basis, and we would cede our claims to the twelve colonies to the Talorans, who would move to occupy them as a buffer zone between us and the Cylons. If the Cylons refuse to recognize this occupation, or if they continue to attack us...”

“We would prosecute war against them until they were utterly annihilated,” Tisara finished for Roslyn coolly and confidently.

Roslyn glanced over for a moment, slightly annoyed, and then finished: “Our battlestars would also be retrofitted with Taloran defensive energy fields to enhance their survivability.”

Sarah Porter of Gemenon answered first. “How, Madame President, does this fit into the sacred prophecies of our peoples? These Talorans are neither holy nor spoken of there. And this denies us indefinitely the chance to reach the Thirteenth Colony.”

“I know not,” Roslyn answered. “But I must act in the best interest of our country and people and trust that the Gods will reveal their plans in time.”

“Do the Talorans have any input there?”

“Your religious affairs do not concern us. We are monotheists and, frankly, we have no interest in ruling polytheists anyway, which to me is the best demonstrate of our lack of bad intents toward you. You having an independent state would, quite simply, solve a great many problems for us,” Tisara explained coolly, talking over the cold stares of some of the Councilors as they digested the fact that, like the Cylons, their supposed saviours were monotheists.

What followed next was a numbing example of the Gemenese religious intractability. Though Roslyn had been hoping for a 6 – 6 tie which would throw the decision to the Vice President—and Baltar would certainly support it—the debate by Zarek definitely won over those who had supported him during his challenge for the position of Vice President. But when the vote roll-call was taken, someone else voted against the treaty measure: Sarah Porter. Clearly she would not so easily tolerate a compact against prophecy made with a race of monotheists.

As Tisara and Roslyn returned to the Colonial One, she tried to make some light of the inital rejection. “I didn't expect the measure to pass this time. And you would have still needed to submit it to the Empress for confirmation, correct?”

“Yes, that's right, Madame President.”

“Well, Archduchess, at least you've seen democracy in action.”

“Yes. Yes I have. I'm afraid it largely lives up to my expectations. You were given an exceptionally kind treaty—especially with your last minute demands for the whole of Kobol and free passage between the two systems—as far as I see it... We're speaking of fifty thousand people. Perhaps if more live on Caprica... If the atrocities are bad enough.. There will be some motivation for confirming your possession of all your worlds and making war on the Cylons for moral reasons alone. I cannot see; I must wait to hear of my instructions from Talora Prime.”

“I understand.” She was silent for a moment. “Perhaps Admiral Cain has the right idea. Could you launch a raid on Caprica to 'cover our retreat?'”

Tisara smiled. “Could I? Technically, and tactically? Of course. But do you mean within the authority of my command?”


“They haven't sacked me yet.”
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2007-06-28 10:19pm, edited 1 time in total.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-10-21 10:52pm

Chapter Thirteen

Onboard the Jhammind, Commander Adama had been given the opportunity to speak with both Lane Ishay and the Cylon copy of Sharon Valerii. The later, in particular, was rather sedated and still recovering from the surgeries, but she was particularly pleased with the treatment she'd received from the Talorans, and Dr. Ghimalia was eagerly and animatedly chatting with her even as she brought Adama in.
The same was true of Ghimalia and Ishay. The Taloran albino with her artificial eyes seemed to be a particularly popular and affiable individual, particularly to other medical professionals. "She was performing marvelously, even on biology she didn't understand, right up until she snapped her leg. But it will be better in a few days."

"A few days?" Adama glanced down to Ishay. "Medic?"

"Oh, Sir, their medical technology is, quite simply, much better than our's. Very accelerated mending, particularly of bone.... The Doctor should better explain it, though, Sir."

"We use injections of certain minerals into the area of the break combined with a sort of micro-effect steroid that rapidly increases metabolism in the area, basically simultaneously providing the materials for the healing process and stimulating the body to do it rapidly," Ghimalia answered readily. "I certainly plan to provide you with what stocks as the Jhammind's equipment can generate. We have nearly a full pharmacological setup onboard due to the long duration of our missions, Commander, so we wouldn't be hurting ourselves at all. The main issue is training your personnel to do it properly."

"Can you?"

"Ishay, as soon as she's on her feet," Ghimalia answered cheerfully, her glowing red eyes vague, but seeming somehow to reflect her merriment. "And, I suppose, as soon as I finish my surgery schedule, but I'm on a mandatory break for the next, hmm, four hours by your watch anyway for safety reasons, so I'm going to likely make dinner and then nap for a while before returning here."

"It would seem better if you slept," Adama hazarded.

"Can't," Ghimalia answered. "I only need--and can get--about, hmm, three hours of sleep under the influence of combat drugs. Which pretty much the whole crew is under the influence of right now. Just as useful for a surgeon as someone carving up the merry cyborgs across the way."

Combat drugs. That sounds exceptionally dangerous, but... "What kind of performance levels?"

"Try a year of only sleeping that long each night, with hyper-clarity for all of the periods that you're awake despite it. Your reaction time is completely maximized, you can ignore pain and injuries and exhaustion simply doesn't happen. They're dangerous, of course, and addiction does sometimes pose a problem, but in the military the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Or going a month without sleep entirely, the same."
Adama closed his eyes for a moment, digesting that one. "It's not something anyone, myself included, would be comfortable with among our people. But I can't deny the usefulness of it. I don't think any military officer could." The fact that he was talking to someone who was drugged up made him wary, though, and he wondered if the same was true of Commander Fraslia.

"Well, I'll relax when I can cook and eat. In fact.." She glanced back to Layne Ishay. "I'll bring you some when we're done, hmm?" And leaving the human medic with just as quizzical of an expression looked back to Adama. "I'll invite you and Her Ladyship to dine with me tonight? Some human food from Earth that I have a fondness for.."

It was a sincere invitation, and Adama took it in the spirit intended. "It would be nice to get some idea of what I'll hopefully enjoy a lot of in the future," he answered, and the two of them headed out after Ghimalia said her goodbyes to the staff and Adama wished his injured medic luck, and swift healing. The Doctor tracked down Fraslia at central damage control, and made her proposal.

"Oh, certainly," Fraslia agreed at once. "I've never had Earth food anyway, and what I had on the Galactica wasn't bad at all, their circumstances of paucity considered, very good actually. In the meantime..." Her ears flexed and her hair was brushed to the side as she addressed Adama: "Allow me to give you a tour of the Jhammind and what makes her a fighting ship as much as your's is, regardless her title?" She was grinning vaguely in her Taloran way, a far greater expression to them than a human.

"I'd be honoured, Commander..."

“Then let's get started,” she answered. “Contact us when you're ready, Doctor?”

“Certainly, Your Ladyship!”

Fraslia led Commander Adama on a circutous route through her ship as only an experienced hand could. Her crew responded as they went with a chorus of "Your Ladyship" which remained strange to Adama, unused to the ostentatious formality of the Talorans which was contrasted with their casual use of technology and easy acceptance of humans alike. In truth, he didn't think he'd ever truly get used to it.

"Commander, why is your crew so comfortable with us? Especially after Caine's behaviour and I think justly, but it doesn't seem like they're all that effected by the recent action."

"All humans seem a bit maudlin to us at times, it seems," Fraslia answered. "The dead are with their rewards, and the living sing songs of them and remember that it's a part of a sailor's life to fight and die. Life is cheap when Good and Evil War."

"That seems brutal to me. You," he paused, not wanting to offend the Taloran but bothered by what she'd sad, "You do feel pain, that you've lost men, don't you?" That was as private an admission as Adama could ever make, oblique, and directed only to another Commander, because only they, regardless of race, ever had a chance of understanding.

Fraslia barked a bitter laugh. "Yes. It isn't that. I'm furiously angry with Cain right now. But for the crew, why would they be? It's my responsibility in the final accounting, and they know me--and if they think I'd done wrong I'd see it in their faces and scarcely survive the guilt. Sort of like poor old Slyperia, hated by the government and half the admiralty, but loved by her crews..." The Baroness said no more, knowing that under no circumstances could the Colonials know about the multiverse. Those orders, both sealed and reinforced by Tisara through Joshart, were very strict.

Adama caught that the subject was not to be continued and fell silent, though not for long, as they had arrived at a room that from the controls he could tell was important.

"Central engineering control," Fraslia commented, and then spoke to the crew: "At ease. Carry on your duties. Lieutenant Kalini?"

"Your Ladyship?" A youngish taloran with blonde hair and more human skin than average, looked back over with bright green eyes and answered Fraslia promptly.

"Report engine status, Lieutenant."

"Reactors one through four operating at sixty percent power, Your Ladyship. We are preparing to shut down reactor one for post-battle testing and inspection and then cycle through the other reactors. Impeller fins all good with cosmetic damage only and we can meet 85% of flank acceleration with one reactor down as per standards." It was clear that some of the exposition was for Adama's benefit.


"Some anomalous readings with the cruising impellers but jump-drive is charged and ready."

"Is the operating status of the reserve fission reactors acceptable?"

"All within norms."

"Power transfer?"

"All good except that the shielding busbars were overtaxed and needed replacement of some of the circuits controlling reverse input. We manually switched over to backups twenty minutes ago and I was instructed to switch back on completion in about another fifty. We're rather short-handed due to simple exhaustion after all the damage control earlier, Your Ladyship."

"Glad there were no problems with the battery busbars," Fraslia sighed comfortably. "We need to keep the guns working if anything else, considering circumstances. And we can still shoot all day, if we need to..."

"Oh, surely, Your Ladyship! Gunnery wasn't taxing us at all." Which underlined the fact that the Jhammind, like most Taloran heavy cruisers, was under-armed for her tonnage, barely exceeding the armament of a large and modern light cruiser in guns only, though carrying more missiles. That part, naturally, need not be said to Adama.

Fraslia turned to her fellow Commander and now began to explain some of the details. "Our power systems are primarily Solid-state Fusion, which we find much safer than anti-matter for these sorts of utilities while still providing suitable power density. Bluntly, since they lack shields, your ships probably only have half the energy production of one of our's of similar tonnage. The backup reactors are simple fission which can run for decades powering coms and basic life support and recycling, which means we have maybe twenty Taloran years drifting in space before we'd perish. Longer, if in a system where we could mine, but then we could probably get the resources to start the impellers up anyway."

"I don't doubt you're right about our ships," Adama answered grimly. "We have similar backup reactors, however, and it leaves me some hope that some sublight ships burned hard and are still alive thanks to recycling and relativity."

"Why! Commander, I'm sorry that I didn't think of that sooner. I should tell Admiral Joshart immediately. That's definitely one boon we can do for your people without restraint. Our ships can start looking immediately for anyone who may have escaped in that fashion."

"I'm glad for the offer, though you may want to consider the risk from the Cylons it would entail."

"That's for Admirals and not me in this matter. My responsibility just lays with innocent life, and advocating where I can for it. My ship is greater, of course, but," she looked wry, "we are not going on any independent assignments anytime soon, and we're only staying because Her Serene Grace probably fancies herself at a considerable disadvantage, and needs every ship she can get, even damaged."

"Thank you," Adama allowed with some genuine sincerity. We need every human life we can find.. He waited while Fraslia availed herself of engineering's coms and returned with a less pleased expression.

"I forget that it all must go through the Her Serene Grace," she explained wryly, and then shrugged it off, more or less. "We will hope she is prompt. At any rate, gunnery, with power systems along the way, for the next part of our tour?"


In the tour that followed, the immense busbars and superconducting cables were impressive, solid engineering. The more impressive thing was when they finally reached the turrets themselves and climbed up in them. Rather than formal military discipline, however, they were met with a raucous round of cheers. "'Tis 'er Ladyship and three cheers for her -- Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!"

Adama watched as rather than take offence, Fraslia responded by slapping the Gunner's Mate on the back, saying: "Good show, Dritan! Your turret's firing didn't have a single blemish, no errors, no misfires, recoil or turning problems and cooling vents and turnover happened all perfectly." She abruptly produced a bag and started around from sailor to sailor, handing out a burnished coin with a Taloran in court regalia on each and every one. "A twenty-four Rial piece for your pockets, lads, as my thanks for two fine-fought guns." He waited until Fraslia had finished before stepping over. "Using our tour to see to the crew as well?"
"Surely, as I think you'd do the same."

"Apt, but our bonuses and rewards are more formal."

"I just take some money out of the Purser's safe, I do confess, but it's usually what they want, beyond Topping the Cannon, which I already ordered all around."

"The meaning isn't one I'm familiar with."

"Double ration of alcohol."

"It's still somewhat hard to digest that you serve the crew alcohol so readily, but I'm convinced you don't have any problems, so I may see about it myself..."

"A happier crew you'd have, Commander." They had climbed up alongside a massive barrel. "This area is normally depressurized in action. Those aren't the gun barrels, but the coolant chambers around them that absorb most of the energy as the barrels recoil half their own length back out of the turret. The coolant is entirely vapourized and bled out in the rather impressive lightshow you may have seen.

"Lots of power in these guns, if they're engineered like that, but the enemy the moment you open up."

"They'd detect it one way or another then, and we do have missiles for truly stealthy situations."

"Perhaps," Adama allowed. "What is the power of the battery?"

"Two guns, with full charge capacitors capable of firing once per every two of our seconds. Yield per shot is one hundred, erm, megatonnes."

"Are all your weapons in similar turrets?"

"Missiles are in trainable mounts, otherwise, yes."

"You've got a very impressive ship, commander, and you must be proud of her."

"Oh God yes," Fraslia exclaimed as she was leading them down, unmindful of her dalliance with blasphemy. "Better as a heavy cruiser than most but capable of exploring for years on end and representing the empire on the fringe, pushing out our boundaries, exploring and fighting alike, she's as good as they get, and I couldn't have a better command than my proud Jhammind!"

Fraslia's expression of delight was infectious, and Adama allowed a grin in reply, thinking of his solid old Galactica in the same terms. They clambered down from the turret, through the barbette, and headed toward some other destination. At that moment, Adama took the opportunity to ask a question that had been on his mind since engineering. "Commander, precisely what is the fuel that you use on this ship for the 'Solid-state' reactors."

"Metallic hydrogen."

"Isn't it very unstable?"

"Well, yes, but that's an advantage as far as we're concerned, leakage is a constant issue, but we also use it as explosive reactive armour. In addition to packing the outer hull we have our main tankage around engineering with light plates to the outside and superdense armour backing. The end result--and we do the same with the magazines--is to make a lucky strike very, very hard."

"Do even worse damage to your hull there, than the initial strike would, though I suppose that you don't have anything critical near the reactors and certainly not any structural pieces."

"They run through the protected area, actually: Might as well give the keel as much protection as you can, too, and the command spaces are buried into the keel there anyway. Except the navigation bridge," she amended, "but that's only manned when docking or on the surface."

"The ship can land?"

"On water only. We can fully submerge to hide if necessary, however."

"That's an interesting capability."

"We find it a useful one in some rare circumstances, at least." By this point they had arrived at their destination and it was indeed the bridge. That cut off Adama's chance to ask what the 'cruising impellers' were, a feature no-one had yet elaborated upon, ironically emphasizing that they were likely important, especially since they were mentioned in context of faster than light drives, separate from the jump drives which the Colonials thought were the only form of FTL. But we thought FTL sensors and coms impossible, too, so perhaps this another... His attention, however, was now on the layout of the bridge. "

"Your bridge is rather different than our's, certainly," he commented as he took in all of the sundry work stations and the larger crew.

"Yes," Fraslia agreed. "Captain's walk--the grilled walkways above--main bridge level, but also the lowered crew working stations. That's so officers can by glancing down clearly see the work-progress of the crew."

"That would keep them from slacking. I also see the very prominent position of the, ah, holo-projector. You use it for tactical plot generation?"

"Yes. I can 'see' the plot through the neural interface but multi-tasking recommends some continued reliance on sense."

"It drives home the advantages the Cylons had over us," Adama replied, somewhat bitter, now, at how his people had responded to the first war. If we hadn't been blindly afraid could we have developed safe technology like this? Technology that could have seen the Cylon plot happening, and stopped it? There was no sane way to dwell on it, however, and Adama was not the sort to do so, anyway.

The moment was broken, at any rate, by the tweet of Fraslia's wrist com. Then, she glanced up and to Adama with a smile. "Well, the Doctor is ready for us, so?"

"Of course."

Fraslia proceeded to lead her counterpart down a transfer tube from the bridge to a connecting vertical life well aft, just fore of the impellers. Here was officer's country, and Dr. Ghimalia's quarters were entered after chiming the door. The albino was working with another female Taloran, definitely quite young and immature. in laying out and preparing the table. "For an officer and lady you're rather good at that, Ghimalia."

"Ah, Your Ladyship, I am simply a bit of a traveler in less formal lands and I cook earth food better than our own."

"Then what have you got for us?"

"Kratini with Ural-paste batter done and mixed with flour to lighten it to a batter, and fried sempal-root without Urul-paste, and the skin left on. The sauce is sort of like ahntahl with herbs but with some 'kreahm ahf tairtair' added. The original human dish is called fish and chips and is served with tairtair sauce. There is also some vinegar of grain to be poured atop it, as is done on earth with their vinegar. It's from a recipe of of Sleahma's family,"she gestured to her batgirl.

"Ah, I'm sure it's most splendid then," Fraslia answered, glancing around the little kitchenette that higher ranked officers had on expeditionary cruisers. She moved to sit at the round table, Adama across from her, Ghimalia to the side, and Sleahma serving them.

"I take it that kratini is a kind of fish, then?" Adam asked.

"Bony fish, not cartilage fish,so it's a rare kind of species but very plentiful in northern waters on our homeworld and raised elsewhere besides. A bit unusual of a choice....."

"Most earth fish are bony, Your Ladyship," Ghimalia explained.

"Good enough for me," Adama responded. "How close is it to the human dish?"

"As close as I could make it with only tairtair as a human ingredient," Ghimalia answered. "The Malt brew I intended for us to drink is very close also, if you drink alcohol. I know some humans do not."

"Oh, one glass'll be fine, but only one."

"Then it's done!" Ghimalia exclaimed, and Sleahma began setting up, ending by bringing out their plates, Adama's first. The taste of the fried food was unusual and more than a little greasy, but once he got used to the contrast of the vinegar and the pepper-laden yoghurt-like dip, it was very good. As per the Taloran custom, Ghimalia did not begin to talk and tell her story until they were slowly finishing off the last bits of the excellent dinner, the two Captains instead discussing some minor operational differences at Fraslia's behest. Adama was quick enough to catch up that Talorans rarely spoke on the main subject at length when eating, and patiently waited, allowing himself the indulgence of imagining eating the real thing on Earth, just perhaps.. Waiting, in the meanwhile, until they were done and Ghimalia began to speak about the years that she had spent on Earth.

That was worth the wait, even if the food was bad, and it certainly wasn't. So he comfortably focused on Ghimalia's tale as he finished up the last of the food, wondering if they'd have desert as well, but gradually forgetting that as he listened to the details of what her life there had been like, and what the people who lived in this place called London were like and the culture and nature of the city itself.

"First impression I had was that it was as foggy and gloomy as Valeria, which I'd visited once before. But London is on a navigable river, not the sea, but she's still connected to it--ah, a Taloran thing to call places by gender, forgive me--and yet as a capital of the largest and most populous of the earth nations she's as modern as old, though flatter than Taloran cities, even Valeria, which is surely the flattest. Now, that's just the vaguest of descriptions so let's start with my flat and those I lived with, if you want to know of your cousins on earth.

"Basically, housing in the district near the university where I studied human physiology was tremendously expensive, so I had to find a roommate. Her name was Deborah and she was of the human monotheistic Judaism, though not precisely observant, though enough that she wanted her kitchen kept a certain way, which I obliged as I knew nothing of human food anyway." She flexed her ears in amusement at the memory. "Deborah's people, well, in religious terms, were favourably disposed to us on account of our restoring them to their ancestral homeland, so she wasn't suspicious of me, but she was understandably surprised by some of my customs, and me, sometimes, by her's, making it very much the learning experience."

"How used to Talorans are earth humans?" Adama asked Ghimalia.
"Not very, I think, for few of us live there and most humans haven't met any of us at all in their lives. It goes both ways, though, so there were plenty of surprises for me as well as her."

"And you lived together as equals, just...?"

"Sharing a room," Ghimalia answered with a nod. "We are both professionals, so we are equals. The racial thing caused some hesitance on her part--mostly because of what she thought her friends might think of her, however--but that, at least, was dispensed with soon enough." She flushed gray-green and flattened her ears. "The surprise part was echoed by the first time I took a shower, and Deborah came in and was rather.. Bothered.. by the fact that I had not locked the door or otherwise indicated I was unclothed and showering. And bothered moreso when I invited her to join me. You see, Talorans of the same sex consider communal bathing extremely normal, and not something to be remarked upon or avoided. Humans do not."

It certainly drew a hearty chuckle from Adama. "Yes, that would bother us quite a lot. Especially the invitation, Doctor. However, if that is the worst that our interactions can bring, I'm very hopeful of our future together. Do carry on."

"Of course! Well, we set down some ground rules after that, and started to settle in with the idea that we were both different, but also the same where it mattered. We were going to the same school, though in different subjects. She was a graduate student in Finance, and I was doing postdoctoral work in human physiology. More or less a normal MD's course, suitably condensed, dealing with all relevant differences so I could effectively operate as both General Practitioner and Surgeon--I'd already trained as a surgeon--to humans as well as Talorans.

"I attracted a fair amount of attention, of course, being not just a Taloran but an unusual one. And it was during summer break there between my two human years I spent on the planet that I availed myself of the very clinic I was studying at to have these put in," she gestured to the implants, "By human hands of those who'd cross-trained in Taloran physiology. It was a good bet all around, reasonably cheap, and my eyesight had been uncorrectable and failing by that point, wearing massive glasses and so on."

"Do they match your old eye colour?"

"Yes, Commander Adama, I had red eyes before as well. Though they didn't glow." She curved her lips into a broader than usual grin. "I was, as with most doctors, an impossibly bad patient, so I don't think I made the best of impressions with all humans, but I, at least, liked those I met. The public houses--pubs--which sell alcohol in the city are always very pleasant, though perhaps as a Taloran I saw less harassment from drunkards than human women would, and among those who trusted me, ended up in a protective role."

"Are the criminals afraid of you?"

"Often they have silly ideas about how our laws work, and avoid us, yes," Ghimalia answered. "But actually we're under the local justice system when there, not the other way around, and the British have a very sympathetic justice system indeed."

"The people whose capital is London?"

"One of them. There are at least a dozen other peoples, perhaps many more, depending on how you define them, under the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Battenbergs," she explained, having a bit of trouble with the compound name even though she was more used to formality. "Most people in the region just call them the House of Windsor."

"Windsor..." Adama tried the name on for size for a moment, but was distracted when dessert was served by Sleahma. It was, Ghimalia admitted, a more traditional Taloran dish, but for the moment, Adama didn't mind.

"Oh, if you're curious, the supplements were included," she added almost as an afterthought as they'd been eating. "There's some enzymes.. I think this was mentioned before?"

"Yes," Adama answered, less interested in that, then in hearing more of Earth from the closest thing to an inhabitant of it that he could, for the moment, find. And so the conversation continued with Ghimalia's tales of London, until something else occurred to him. "Are there any humans in Admiral Joshart's division that I could meet, Commander?"

"Ah, I would have to ask him," Fraslia answered, abruptly coming from some thought or another. "I know they have other doctors trained to human standards but I'm not sure if there are any presently assigned or not."

"Of course," Adama answered, setting the question aside for the moment, and letting Ghimalia continue long into the evening.

Colonial One

Tisara and Ysalha were happily involved in each other's less than moral indulgences, which came as a particular amusement in the bedroom of the Chief Executive of a foreign government, to Tisara's perspective. They would return to Tisara's flagship the next day, her mission, for the moment, unsuccessful, but with more than a few ideas planted in her head.

Admiral Cain had arrived to plant a few more. The chime at the door shocked the two of them, and by long experience, indulging themselves even while on patrol, Tisara had released her lover in a heartbeat as, in the usual fashion, Ysalha vanished into the bathroom and Tisara pulled a robe over herself and tied it firmly, heading to the door of the suite and keying it open. Nobles were not particularly modest, after all, used to being dressed by others, but in that regard, at least, Tisara and Ysalha had not been assigned the batgirls they should have been provided for a long, long time, and had ended up more self-reliant than the usual.

"I'm sorry to have disturbed you, Archduchess" Cain offered, slightly perturbed, though also a bit amused. She was quite able to guess what the two had been up to, particularly with the absence of Tisara's 'chief of staff', even if she did not know the extent of their deviance.

"No, it's never a disturbance," Tisara answered with an amiable lie.

"Come in?"

"That was what I'd planned." The two sat at a small table, Tisara brushing back her hair and staring down at the short Colonial Admiral before her, intimidating even when in a bathrobe, seaweed green hair and mismatched eyes with scarred face imposing, impassive, unflinching as ever.

"I apologize about the way the vote went, Archduchess."

"You had no power over it."

"That's just the problem, these incompetent civilians fracking their way through life destroying our whole society. They should have never been given the power to destroy our society and certainly they shouldn't have any power now. Commander Adama failed in giving the government any sort of power over a refugee fleet, Archduchess, and you know that as well as I do."

"He did," Tisara agreed languidly. "A military dictatorship would be preferable, certainly, under the circumstances. Necessary, even. Do you plan on one?"

The bluntness surprised even Cain. "Contingencies always exist," she answered shortly.

"Well, for as long as your people exist," Tisara replied acerbically. Cain should have acted sooner, the moment she arrived, if she is as competent as she claims. But I suppose Adama stands in her way.

That seemed to make Cain stop and think for a moment. "I don't actually think the fleet is all that important," she explained. "We stayed closer to the colonies. My staff thinks there might be up to eighty million survivors on each of the major colonies, and nearly as many on the smaller ones. Not counting those in Cylon camps, which could be in the tens of millions too. The Cylons are hunting down those living off the land, on their own, as aggressively as they can, but they can't get them all. Without destroying the whole biosphere, that won't succeed, and for some reason they're unwilling to do that. If we could drive them away, get some idea of how many survivors there are..."

"A bit larger than the raid to cover your retreat that your President proposed earlier today," Tisara answered, her ears flicking. "But that raid could provide cover for your Battlestars in doing just that. I can't control your actions, after all. But it would leave the fleet uncovered..."

"Is that really a problem?"

"No, not really." Tisara was not thinking the same way as Cain, however: "I've received some advanced word from home this evening. It rendered the negotiations my last attempt, personally, actually. The Imperial government is sending up a negotiator to take over from me. I believe you will like her, actually." Tisara was not pleased, but still, the action left her a part of it, and where she had some role to play, she intended to play it as hard as she could. And the instructions left my raid quite open to be executed. Better to be bold now when I have so little left than to be cautious. It has always saved me in the past. "Also they're sending a squadron of dreadnoughts with full support elements."


"Ships twice or more the mass of my battlecruisers, at the least," Tisara explained simply. "Slower, sixty percent of our acceleration if that, but built for main line heavy combat. They're from the armed forces maintained by my branch of the family, the Her August Majesty's Fleet, the Royal Midelan Navy. Eight dreadnoughts, sixteen battlecruisers, eight rocket cruisers, thirty or so heavy cruisers, an equal number of light cruisers, and almost a hundred and seventy destroyers and destroyer leaders, supported by an Imperial Starfleet fleet train detachment protected by destroyer escorts, frigates and corvettes in similar numbers. It's a force that, if the Imperial government decides, could do more than just raid your occupied worlds, but in conjunction with my squadrons and your battlestars, engage in a sustained intensive conflict with the Cylons."

"It would be nice to make that a certainty," Cain murmured.

"I agree."

"You don't seem like the altruistic type," Cain almost smirked.

"Rather not, but I am not popular with the government at home. A successfully waged operational campaign in my sector, even if I'm not allowed full command, will at least reflect well on me. So, no, I am not altruistic at all. I have eminently practical purposes for, quite frankly, wanting a little war to take place in my sector. And so I could care less about the eminent issues of our right to intervene or the ultimate result to your government. I will, indeed, 'raid' the Cylons as hard as I can possibly hurt them, and in doing so, I will make sure they come back, right into the open arms of a fleet that they cannot beat."

"Then it seems that we can do business with each other, Archduchess."
Tisara still wasn't pleased with the Colonial informality, but she nodded, lightly. Since her goals of possibly inserting herself into the government of a minor power, at least, had definitely been set aside by the exceptionally hostile reaction of the Quorum, a war seemed to be the best way of going about things, and she wasn't going to be easily dissuaded from her goal of achieving one. By stretching her orders just enough, she could guarantee it...

"Oh, yes. My family will be more lenient, I think, than the All-Highest Empress realizes."

"You're related to the Lelolan branch?"

"Oh yes, my Aunt is the commander of the fleet which is coming up," Tisara answered with some faint pride. "Our war to fight, funded by Imperial coin. Our fleets must be funded from Imperial coffers when they are activated in a situation which is not a declared war, and this certainly isn't, yet, and will likely remain so; the Cylons don't seem much on formalities."

"No, no they are not," Cain agreed grimly. "What about my government, then?"

"We'll leave that to the diplomats," Tisara languidly spoke, a hand making a gesture behind her, come-hither in nature, "and have our war one way or another. Your society will not oppose that, all things considered."

Cain watched as Ysalha Armenbhat approached, rubbing her lover's shoulders from behind, silent, in an image of relaxed decadence, though the intelligence burned fiercely in both their faces. Deviant, decadent, but their survival in positions of relative comfort in the face of that warned of their capability. "Well, you can leave it to the diplomats. I have other ideas in that regard."

"And they are," Tisara answered almost sweetly, "none of my business."

"It's better that way for both of us, isn't it?"

"It does seem that way."

"Well, it remains for us to plan our little attack, Admiral Cain. Tomorrow? The flagbridge facilities I have should serve admirably if you bring your staff over."

"We'll start tomorrow, yes," Cain agreed. "I suppose that concludes our meeting." She rose.

"I suppose it does."

Ysalha took the moment to lean in and whisper something to Tisara in a language that the translator did not pick up. "Hmm. Admiral Cain, a moment."


"What do you think of my picket cruisers looking for ships which have gone on sublight burn? My Captain Fraslia of the Jhammind mentioned it to Admiral Joshart, that there might be many sublight ships still around from your worlds which went full burn to take advantage of relativity and recycling, as he put it, to survive. Is it safe enough?

"The Cylons don't have good picket forces. You could do it, yes," Cain agreed, and then, with a look on her face which seemed to suggest a twinge of human sympathy, she added: "I had to abandon fifteen ships with their FTL drives stripped. I couldn't defend them while trying to fight back to liberate our worlds. It was a very, very grim decision, especially since their crews resisted. I tried everything I could to bring them onboard, but they simply refused, claimed I had no right--even in these circumstances!--to 'press-gang' them into military service. So I forced the ones I desperately needed to come regardless, and their families rioted. Some of the civilians got shot fighting my men. I stripped the parts I needed from the other ships, and when they again refused to board the Pegasus, we sent them off with sublight coordinates to the nearest uninhabited star systems that nonetheless might contain life, the best chance I could give them. I can give you those coordinates, if you could try and see if any of them have made it..."

"A very grim thing to do, Admiral," Tisara softly spoke, eyes closing for a moment. "I hope I am never in a situation where I find myself commanding the last hope of my people, in my eyes, and must be faced to abandon all my oaths for the sake of simple racial survival. I would go to my grave troubled, and you have my sympathies for having been forced to make such a choice."

"Well, it can be forgiven if they're found," Cain grudgingly answered. "It was the only viable decision at the time, and I know that I'll be forced to make more ugly decisions soon enough. Including one about my government."

"May your conscience guide you well, there, Admiral. I will see to it, if you bring the coordinates tomorrow, that we have pickets detailed along those routes."

"Thank you."

"Then, may you have a good night."

"As you, Archduchess." Cain stepped out, perhaps more enigmatic in her intentions than she had been before, but no less savage in her capability.
"Give the necessary orders for the general sweep pattern, my girl," Tisara said to her lover with a sly sort of look, though, it was serious enough. "Let's not be remiss in giving those hopeless souls who may have escaped from the worlds themselves, rather than Cain's unfortunate convoy, a decent chance. That woman is hampered by no morality, but I am still a daughter of the line of Valera."

"Of course, Mistress," Ysalha answered, her hands slipping away as she turned back to the portable communications device they'd brought and she unrolled the keypad for it and began typing in the orders. "I, at least, will always know that your heart still beats noble and true."

"And you knowing that, Ysalha, is all that I shall ever need..." But even as she said this, Tisara's six fingers on her right hand drummed the table slowly, and she thought about how boldly she must act, and how successful she must be, to improve their lot from this conflict, comforting herself in that she was doing it as much for Ysalha as for herself, her own life and reputation. There had to be some way to make their relationship a smoothed over and forgotten aspect of who they were, give enough time... And enough daring in a splendid little war.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-11-01 11:52pm

Chapter 14
The Jhammind

Now, Fraslia had the pleasure of watching her command come back together from the battle damage she's suffered, and the unease of watching Tisara's do the same, morphing from a spread-out reconaissance force into an impromptu battle fleet. With all the organizational skills that her dutiful 'slave' could muster, and Ysalha Armenbhat's were considerable, the Archduchess had professionally concentrated a force of thirty-two heavy cruisers, thirty-two expeditionary cruisers, sixteen light cruisers, eight destroyer leaders, sixty-four destroyers, fourty frigates, and thirty-two corvettes, all to support her four battlecruisers, one battleship, and four light carriers.

The downside was that this left only thirty-two destroyer escorts and eight frigates to cover the retreat of the Colonial refugee ships and the resupply vessels from which Tisara had victualated her ships. To augment them, squadrons of gunboats had been brought forward and some Taloran fighters added to the fleet. More gunboats supported her own force, and Galactica's damaged hangar bay had been cleared for a wing of Taloran light fighters, which could be, if barely, operated off the other vessel.

It had been done in ten days and it was a frightening degree of efficient precision to watch in development. It also required an enormous degree of collaboration with the navy of a country no their own, nor even were they allied with, to fight a war not their's, where no treaty demanded that they should fight. Few doubted it was moral; many doubted how Tisara had gone about it, and the officers were constantly murmuring as she squeezed her sector command for every single ship it had. Rear Admiral Joshart and seven Commodores of upper and lower halves were under Tisara, with an eighth Commodore in charge of the fleet escorts. None particularly approved, but the actions were not sufficient for them to tender formal protest.

To have Starfighter Corps forces under Cain's command certainly pushed Tisara's 'Raid' excuse to the very limit of plausibility, and no doubt some sort of complaint had been sent from that direction, but interservice rivalry protected her. And, beyond that, even with such a reviled figure in command, what they were doing was surely right. The image of the Cylons as being their own universe's equivalent of the strange and disturbing 'Borg' of whom their alliance counterparts spoke was widespread. Fraslia, having dinner with a Cylon certainly named Sharon, and possibly Valerii, at the moment, had been gifted with a naturally more ambivalent view of Cylons and the war in general.

“There is a mattered I wanted to speak to you about, if you'd indulge our odd customs for a moment?” She asked the other woman, as they finished the main course, in the Taloran fashion. One of the more peculiar customs was the Taloran refusal to discuss serious matters over the main course, saving for languid conversation over dessert and drinks when the body's lassitude while digesting prevented a disagreement from becoming that choleric in nature. In this case, it meant that their dinner of a heavy pasta and Urul-paste bread had been finished and sweet tamarindh fruit put out before she began.

Besides, Sharon was with child, and the Talorans were delicately respectful of women in such a state, knowing how precious their own pregnancies were, rare and frequently frought with difficulty, for the species had no small trouble in conceiving. They had hyper-specialized to raise a few children well to an extent even greater than humans, and the mammalforms of Talora Prime were more a direct progression of equivalents of Earth's Permian-era Therapsids than an independent development, with less sophisticated methods of childbearing. The result was that Taloran pregnancy was delicate and excruciatingly painful, with labour normally lasting a whole day or more, a result which had evolved in them over time an intense resistance to going into shock. And, culturally, certainly accorded no small deference to those with child, regardless of their social status.

“Well, of course, go ahead, Captain!” Sharon answered with a smile, her spirits rather cheered by the circumstances she had found on the Jhammind. Together with Karl Agathon on the Taloran cruiser at last, and in comfortable circumstances, she had recovered quickly from the dual surgeries that the Colonial plot had demanded, and had settled down as a respected guest at most of the meals of the officer's mess, finding her treatment bewildering and pleasant at the same time. She was very much treated as a person, and a reasonably important one at that, a nuance of her position that remained more than a little confounding.

“Ah, well, Doctor Ghimalia says your child is quite and due at the regular time for humans with no observable complications. I'm sure you're well aware of that, since she's obviously told you first.” The Doctor had really bonded with both her Cylon charges, and remained the only person with whom Six could interact, a fact that neither of them dwelled on very much, for understandable reasons. Fraslia offered a tight little grin after the words which among Talorans showed great delight.

“Yeah, of course, Captain,” Sharon certainly looked much better from the past two weeks of recovery. “But you've got to mean more than that, I think?”

“Yes, Sharon. There's no place for you among the Colonials, bluntly, who do not even have a home of their own, and have understandable bitterness for you. Your beau will get no favours from them, and will like as not be regarded as a traitor for his relationship with you, if it became more public than with the fine Commander Adama. So if he is more or less exiled here with you, why not simply go to the next step? Come live in the lands of my ancestors on Ghastan Island. But there's a catch....”

“I think the idea sounds good, though I'd.. I'd honestly rather be among humans.” She frowned. “What's the catch?”

“We don't like sex out of wedlock—I don't want to make a comparison with Tisara, though it always recommends itself--and the children of such unions, where they are possible, are normally fostered out for adoption... Which,” Fraslia added quickly as she saw Sharon virtually recoil, “is scarcely a law or something, and certainly not what you desire. Furthermore, the Church overlooks minor discrepencies between the marriage record and birth record. You're a monotheist, so, the process will work for you, and the priests onboard agreed they'd marry you and your, hmm, Lieutenant Agathon, if he consented to the Farzian ceremony.”

“We haven't precisely discussed religion, Captain, and I have my own reasons to be distant from it, but, I can only hope that he'll agree.” Sharon's face grew very bright as she pressed the next question: “Would it be possible for us to stay on Earth, instead, since it's a part of your Empress' domains?”

“Oh, yes, though I'm not sure how the human governments would think of you. However, there is a single, minor Taloran government on the planet, that of Frayuia Risim, the Duchess of Medina. She rules that city and some of the surrounding desert, in commemoration of a military victory.” At this, though, Sharon seemed uncomfortable. It reminded her that the Talorans were indeed rulers of humanity. Fraslia's statements assuaged the matter without ever quite picking up on it. “She is, nonetheless, a fine ruler, and those humans who remain or move into the area are closely integrated with Taloran society. She's one of the foremost experts in the Empire on human customs,” she carefully omitted the infamous Jhayka of the Lesser Intuit for reasons of security, “and I could send you and your beau there with my reference of your suitability as colonists of the desert she's trying to fertilize. There is also plenty of need for skilled civilian pilots throughout the Empire.”

“That would certainly seem a reasonable place to live. Though I've never seen a desert before, except from space. Is it very harsh?”

“We try to turn our deserts into gardens, by sacred mandate of the writings of the Prophet Eibermon. I imagine the same is true in Medina as elsewhere. Would you have an issue, then, with the necessary marriage?”

“No, of course not! To be married by the priests of the one God would be something I'd not believed possible. A new dawn for us.. That you really accept me. Accept me and Karl being together, even.”

“You should ask your beau soonest, then. The quicker it's done the happier the priests will be, and likely yourselves as well.”

“Alright.” Sharon's eyes danced and she got a bit of a sly look. “Just after we're finished with dessert, then.”

Fraslia had the expression of a delighted parent, pleased to have properly arranged things for the girl she'd take a real fondness to. Given a chance to develop on their own, the Cylon bioforms are as sapient as any other lifeform, and altogether very like all the other humans I know. This development should be considered carefully.. Though I know that Tisara doesn't care. “I'd send you back now to Earth, but I'm afraid that for sundry reasons that's not possible. Security, you understand. Technically I am required by Her Serene Grace to treat you and your, ah, less well, friend as paroled enemy officers per her instructions. So, you can be married and then wait things out.”

“The Archduchesses' attack comes first,” Sharon answered quietly. “I find it interesting that she instructed you to treat me as an enemy officer. And I'm thankful that you seem to be treating me very well.”

“Don't be, this really is how we treat captured enemy officers,” Fraslia replied with a wry sort of look. “Biology permitting, it is tradition, and custom, to show proper hospitality. I don't think of you that way at all, though, of course; nor does the law of our state, so your residence will not prove an issue. As for the matter you spoke of, I can't talk about it with you, of course.” Though it is obvious, and we're jamming coms continuously to boot.

“I know. I Just hope you will not overreact and... Commit genocide yourselves. I don't want that on your hands, and I do think that the Cylons at least deserve..”

“To not be dead? A fair assertion, and I'm reasonably confident that we can follow it well.”

“But just as the Colonies seemed to do, Tisara...”

“Keep things in perspective. You 'overreacted' and exterminated the populations of a dozen worlds.”

“Not me,” Sharon answered with a stricken look. “Please, Captain, you know that I see myself more as human.”

“I know. But memories will not die easily, and guilt by association is as common as it is wrong. I hold no hate toward you, but consider the remark fair warning, Sharon. Even among my people you will not completely escape it. But, you can have a peaceful and happy life with your beau and child if you can take that with grace and dignity, both here and on Earth.”

“Thank you for the honesty, Captain, but for the moment I'd really like to just tell Karl, if you'd excuse me early? I'd like to have a happy evening with him and worry about the future later.”

“It's a reasonable request, Sharon, though first, I did want to ask how your compatriot is doing?”

“Better. Doctor Ghimalia calls her by a human name, Rachel, from Earth. They spend a lot of time together but she doesn't really like talking to me. The few times we have it's always ended in some denounciation or another. But she's seeming to come along better, now... Less disconsolate.”

“Your religion condemns suicide as much as our's, and she trusts Ghimalia, or else...”

“Yes. Well, Ghimalia is a cyborg herself, of a sort, and very kind. But, I'd rather like to go, now, Captain..?” She would rather not, on a night with happy prospects, speak of those sad and delicate matters.

“Oh, of course. Give your beau my regards, and celebrate if he agrees. But don't wake Lieutenant Karsini, she's been pulling double watches at commissary while we stocked repairs and supplies,” she spoke of the officer down the hall from Sharon's quarters with a sly look.

Sharon, appropriately, flushed, having gotten to know the somewhat libertine ways of Taloran sly humour. “I'll do my best, really, and thank you again for extending the offer to us.”

“My duty as a Farzian,” Fraslia answered, and then she showed Sharon out, just in time to return to a priority alert in her quarters. The message, contained a general fleet alert along with a request for all the flag and pennant officers to meet aboard the Orelyost for a final briefing before the operation began. The general fleet alert warned her that they were launching the operation the next day. I hope they get the chance to be married, Fraslia thought ruefully, and then summoned her department heads to the main officers' secure briefing room, reminding herself to make it short so they could rest before what would be the first general fleet action for most of them in their lives, herself included. And, may the Lord be Just, that we may live long enough to see another.

HSMS Orelyost,
Admiral's briefing room.

Tisara Urami struck an imposing cut, sitting in the raised chair at the head of the briefing table, her legs crossed in cavalier fashion, her four and a half foot long mass of seaweed green hair plunging over the back of the chair and down toward the floor, long strands spilling down into her lap. Her horrifically scarred face was rigidly expressionless, even as her ears were very animated, and the striking mix of hot orange-red and cold ice-blue eyes, though artificial, reminded her subordinates of the power and charisma such an appearance must have garnered in Valera herself, and how it was so thoroughly perverted in Tisara, proof of the mortality of the body.

She was wearing a yellow jumpsuit with a crimson sash inset with rubies, black belt, boots covered in brown fur, and greened copper spurs. Blue fingerless gloves, and a bright ruby-red cape, completed a defiant riot of colours. Ysalha Armenbhat, in the more colourful old-fashioned uniform that Tisara had worn before the council, stood at her right side, their hands clasped together in a defiant display of affection. Of the ten gathered officers, only Admiral Cain seemed fully comfortable with the situation, lacking the mores of her Taloran compatriots, and occupying the position of honour.

“So, I have concentrated at least ninety-five percent of the firepower of an expansion sector into a single fleet. Not advisable, for most respects, but we don't know the strength of the Cylon fleet, and indeed we'll discover that only the hard way. They certainly have hundreds of Base Ships or else they wouldn't have overwhelmed the colonies so easily, even with their viruses. The plan is, I believe, straightforward.”

“Yes, for us to beam-bait a fleet of unknown strength,” Admiral Joshart answered, probing. “No small task, that, that you presume to ask of us, Your Serene Grace. And bringing along the Iltrani limits our tactical mobility, at that.” Joshart referred to the Ikranilisi-class battleship that comprised the fifth heavy unit of the Taloran force.

“The Cylons are worse in their capabilities of acceleration,” Tisara answered, not mentioning that both of them knew something that she had intentionally neglected to tell to Cain, preferring to keep it as their ace in the hole if it should be needed. “Boldness is all that is required. And we'll be hitting them with long-range assault missiles before they can react. Sixteen sixteens of them... Our heavy cruisers give us the power of a heavy strike force with those missiles, and half as many waiting in reserve.”

“A very expensive strike...” Commodore Jashitil of the light cruisers observed.

“The government complains about expense accounts, not fighting soldiers,” Tisara replied coolly. Ysalha, for her part, had winced as she thought of the expense, but did not speak up, as could be expected. “At any rate, we're all clear on the fact that we'll be launching a very high tempo assault on the defensive forces around Caprica, and then swinging by to drop relief supplies on the surface? Once the forces around Caprica have been defeated, we will withdraw in a direction which should lead, as is the purpose of this assault, the Cylon pursuit away from the Colonial fleet.

“And if they pursue us very aggressively?”

“Then we head for the dreadnought squadron of my matriliege which is coming up,” Tisara answered simply. “The stern chase is a long chase, particularly when over such immense distances, with no great certitude of even finding us. We could certainly prolong it for the few days required to throw them onto the guns of eight massed dreadnoughts, and that would be that. But that's a worst-case scenario.” She paused for a moment, gently clearing her throat. “More, however, I brought you here so that you could hear the precisely details of the Colonial operation to take place jointly with our own. Admiral Cain?”

The human Admiral stood and keyed the commands that she'd been shown would bring up a holographic projection over the table, in this case of the system surrounding a planet labeled Picon. “Ladies and gentlemen, Picon was once the home of all command facilities of the Colonial fleet. It was, by extension, home of our primary fuel supply depots. The Cylon occupation force in the Colonies is now understood based on our reconaissance to be using these own facilities to support their own operations, essentially as a forward base to allow the pursuit of the fleet in the long term to continue, and for operations well coreward of the distant Cylon homeworld to be maintained. The Pegasus and Galactica are going to destroy it, jumping in very close to Picon—attacking any Cylon concentrations on the surface and dropping supplies to any resistance forces on the surface—and launching all fighters with the cover of the planet to leap over and attack the refueling depots. We expect significant reserve forces of Cylon ships to respond despite this; the Pegasus and Galactica will swing around Picon in opposite directions to converge on the Cylon reinforcements moving toward the fueling stations, clear them out with our crossfire, and recover our fighters before jumping clear. I have already gone over these operational plans extensively with my subordinates, including the Taloran starfighter corps elements assigned to support us.

“Your job, of course, is to make sure that further Cylon reinforcements don't arrive in time to threaten our recovery operations. The 'demonstration in force' of your fleet therefore has the critical aspect of assuring that this operation can be carried through successfully. There is a real possibility that it will be necessary for your fleet to jump to Picon, which is fortunately only ten lightyears from Caprica. I understand that despite the limitations of your jump engines, as long as the final jump into Caprica is within twenty lightyears, that can be accomadated instantaneously.”

“That's correct, Admiral,” Captain Armenbhat answered. “We have, of course, made contingency plans for a situation in which we must destroy all Cylon forces in the Caprica system, so that we are not pursued, and then jump to your aide.” What was not being said was that Tisara, Ysalha, and Helena had privately already agreed that Tisara would execute the annihilation of the Cylon forces over Caprica and then swing around to clean up Picon in 'support' of the Battlestars before they withdrew in concert. There was no need to explain to subordinates who hated her that there was every intention to force circumstances to allow what would otherwise be a gross violation of Tisara's operational instructions.

“Then we have ourselves a plan,” Admiral Cain smiled.

“Indeed we do, Admiral, indeed we do,” Tisara murmured, stroking Ysalha's hand. “Officers of Her Majesty, you know well what actions our fleet will be undertaking in the Caprica system. First, we deploy all the aide supplies we can, while attacking targets of opportunity on the surface to give those resisting the continued efforts at genocide and experimentation every opportunity that they have to fight back. Then, we seek out the Cylon fleet in the system, and engage it in main battle at range with the purpose of holding the considerable Cylon forces believed to now be posted there in response to the concentration of prior Colonial relief activities toward that world. If we can draw in their reinforcements, so much the better.

“Remember, however,” she continued, and, with the power of one born of Valera's blood, lied in a strong enough and charismatic enough way as to convince everyone she was sincere, “We will not try to force a decisive result with the Cylon force unless the severe position of the Colonial strike against Picon requires that we do so. In that case, the Midelan signal yulahn siritar atihl bahlat--pounce our foes to the utmost—shall serve as the code for a close quarters engagement. If we have broken the enemy, and it remains for us to annihilate them for the purpose of freeing our rear to go to the Colonial relief, the code will be trikhami-uhl, hack them up.”

“Indulging yourself, Your Serene Grace?” Joshart asked mildly.

“Perhaps,” Tisara allowed in return. “Are we all quite clear on these arrangements?”

“What if we must retire from the system without engaging due to the overwhelming strength of the enemy?”

“Unlikely. It is not believed that the Cylons have more than five hundred Baseships, of which many are the older type. Of these not more than twenty should be around Caprica; they are currently searching, after all, an area of space the size of an Imperial Sector for escapees and survivors of the Colonies, policing twelve conquered planets, protecting their homeworld against raids, and possibly dealing with exploration and other species in unknown and unexpected quarters. They have no smaller vessels much larger than gunboats or, at the most, small corvettes, which the main batteries of our cruisers can destroy with a single salvo. At any rate, the Baseships are very slow, and we all know our tactical capabilities well,” Tisara concluded, hinting at something useful enough that she hadn't even mentioned it to Cain yet. “We will dispatch a series of Operational Cases which will be declared depending on circumstance to deal with such unlikely scenarios, though the basic thrust is to extricate ourselves to range where we have the advantage, and cover the withdrawal of the Colonial forces as necessary. Admiral Cain can communicate with us through a portable FTL transmitter installed aboard her flagship, allowing her to initiate the appropriate cases for her force as necessary and inform us of doing so.”

“Very well. I do believe all our questions have been answered acceptably,” Joshart spoke for the Commodores.

“Excellent. Then tomorrow at Dawn we jump, and three days hence we will be in action.” The meeting was adjourned without further comment, leaving Tisara and Ysalha to their twisted indulgences, and a sleep punctuated by the vague fearful reminders of long Farzian-raised psyches that if they did perish, they could not expect to be united in the afterlife. But Tisara in her heart always knew better; she was of the finest blood, and it had seen her through every battle yet.

HSMS Orelyost,
Caprica System.

Tisara Urami, had she been gifted with the time to think, might have regretted her prior confidence. 233 Taloran warships tore through the definitions and limitations of physical reality and erupted into orbit of Caprica. They were armed and ready for battle, fully shielded and with every gun manned and ready, turrets free-tracking and projectile tubes and arm-launchers loaded.

They were not prepared for the sight that greeted them at point-blank range: Twenty-seven Cylon baseships of the latest type, and some ninety tiny light corvettes around them, and some fifty-four hundred Raiders on routine patrol. The Cylons, at least, were as stunned as they were, and Tisara snapped her order first, staring three light seconds across space at the tremendously close Cylon force, densely screening the beautiful planet of Caprica below.

“Action starboard! All ships, all weapons, engage!” The Orelyost's turrets swung to starboard and the moment they had tracked in against the target that the central battery director, informed by fleet weapons networking of its most correct target, had chosen, it fired. Twenty one-point-five gigatonne particle cannon erupted, and at that distance, twelve of the shots hit their target. Three other battlecruisers had done the same, and the battleship Iltrani bettered it with an incredible broadside of thirty-six one-point-two gigatonne shots which sloshed a Cylon baseship, slamming by raw kinetic energy the targeted ship out of the Cylon formation while the tremendously colourful eruptions of vapourized organic supercoolant from the recoil suppressors of the Taloran cannon lit up space like celebration fireworks and sent the station-keeping thrusters to full power to keep the ships from recoiling themselves out of formation.

yulahn siritar atihl bahlat,” Tisara ordered in Midelan, the code signal for the fleet to execute its attacks, while the main cannon steadily charged themselves for another salvo, fifteen seconds after the first, while the cruisers pounded out a salvo from their light guns every two seconds. Immediately the destroyers began to shift to deliver their slashing torpedo attacks against the enemy, the destroyer leaders in all of their pride swinging into the lead, communications chattering wildly over cleared signals while their guns and missiles salvoed again and again, and the massive trainable torpedo tubes were swung out toward the enemy, following the plan that Tisara and Ysalha had drawn up to commence a close action with an immediate torpedo attack.

The problem was that such an attack now would expose the destroyer squadrons to the awesome number of Cylon Raiders swinging out vigorously toward them. “You don't think they're armed with anti-ship missiles, do you?” Tisara asked to her submissive lover with a trace of concern.

“Not on routine picket patrol, no. According to the Colonials, they should have all-conventional warheads.”

“Then they pose no threat to our destroyers.”

“That's correct, Your Serene Grace.”

“Large missile salvoes coming in!” One of the flagbridge officers reported coolly, though not to coolly: The salvoes were very large.

The Taloran point-defence was also very good, and the missiles weren't targeted at the destroyers, but at the heavies. This meant that Tisara's other advantage was being used in good stead. With the speed of her battlecruisers in the fleet limited by the need to operate with a slow battleship, they had plenty of power to dump from engines, as designed, into their spare shield banks, giving them the energy shielding of full-sized dreadnoughts. When the first Cylon nuclear missiles got through, only a couple out of hundreds, they detonated harmlessly against the shields of the Orelyost and Ulkash, scarcely causing the slightest of vibrations.

And the main guns of the heavies thundered again, the awesome wump of the guns deep in the hull shaking Tisara's flagship far more than the impact of the enemy missiles had. Joshart's flagship, the Niitrasha, scored the first kill when a golden twinkee blasted through the narrow connecting stalk of one of the Baseships and severed both halves from each other. It was a matter of pure luck; they were to far away to accurately target particular sections of a ship like that.

The destroyers diving in met the lead element Raiders, which had been closest to the Taloran fleet when it had arrived, as they came in. The twin powergun mounts of the destroyers and destroyer leaders started pounding out four shots a second, any one of which had the power to completely destroy a Cylon raider, and regularly did. The Cylons salvoed a huge number of missiles at the destroyer squadrons, but as Ysalha had confidently expected they were all conventional missiles, and the shields of the light destroyers held as they raced at full acceleration through the haze of Raiders, pounding at them with flak and point-defence missiles as well as the heavier powerguns in a continuous hail, throwing as much energy and junk into the stars as they could to swamp the swarm around them in metal and plasma.

“Admiral, there's something you should really see,” Commander Savita on the forward sensor reports turned up, her ears flexing in something going past consternation, and more toward terror.

“Go ahead.”

The tactical plot shifted to the planet Caprica, and a wave of dots coming up from the surface seemed to swamp out the holographic projection entirely. “Sensors are estimating almost fourty thousand standard Raider models, several thousand of the heavy type, and around sixty light corvettes ascending from the surface of Caprica. Since we concentrated on the enemy fleet....”

“We lost a chance to destroy them on the ground,” Tisara answered with something particularly vile under her breath. She had never fought a battle close to a hostile planet before in her life, and that lack of foresight was showing bad.

“Case Utrani,” she ordered abruptly, and immediately.

“Case Utrani,” Ysalha answered, crisply using data interfaces to transfer the message to the whole of the force. “Do we exclude the destroyer squadrons?”

“Yes! They'll have enough velocity and be far enough out, with enough acceleration, to execute their attacks and THEN follow us. By all means, make it clear now!”

“Of course, Admiral!” Ysalha made sure of it, the daring captains of their little destroyers pushing in relentlessly even as the enemy converged, up from the surface of Caprica and all around them, and certainly some of them were armed with nukes where the patrol fighters were not.

Case Utrani was in action, now, and the moment that every squadron of the fleet indicated their readiness and acknowledgement of their orders, Tisara gave the final order... And the main fleet leapt as their Heim field cruising impellers were activated, driving them instantly to 1c, and then increasing rapidly as the fleet tore away from Caprica on the virtues of their second type of FTL drive, which kept them in real space and able to maneouvre, up to speeds of almost 54c. In one moment, the Taloran fleet, as Case Utrani demanded, had gone from trapped by the surface forces to trapping the Cylon fleet against the planet Caprica.

The Utrani had been a famed tribe of the Midelan desert who for millennia had bedeviled the Midelan branch of the Valerian Dynasty, and they had used a tactic from their effavsur to weaken their enemies for a charge of rostok, which in human history would be called the “Parthian Shot”. And indeed, the moment the that the fleet detransitioned to sublight again, the aft assault missile launchers of the heavy cruisers salvoed, sending one hundred and twenty-eight of the massive missiles, with considerable risk to the destroyers of fratricide accepted without comment, rushing forward at thousands of g's of acceleration under rockets, and then their anti-grav drives activated and the 3,000 tonne missiles, the size of a gunboat, were shoved up to tens of thousands of g's of acceleration, boring in on the Cylon force with all the deadly terror a tremendous salvo of Soviet Sunburns might have elicited from an American carrier taskgroup. Countless of the 256 MT -warhead tipped very long range missiles in the standard arm launchers followed in salvoes sent out as fast as they could be loaded and fired.

“We're fully engaged now, Admiral, as we'll have to close the distance again to aide the destroyers in getting clear after they launch their torpedo attacks,” Rear Admiral Joshart warned via coms.


“He's right, and....”

“Prior faster than light coms!” The lieutenant announcing the message continued: “Case Support, Case Support, from the Colonial forces.” Which meant they did, in fact, need assistance. Assistance that Tisara could not give since her destroyers were fully engaged.

“We can't launch fighters if we need to jump soon. We'll need to go at FTL and engage point-blank with the Baseships, take them out and fend off the Raiders as rapidly as we can,” Ysalha offered.

“We can't risk the damage to our ships this far from home. Order the heavy cruisers to fire their forward assault missile launchers. All of them!”

“Mistress,” Ysalha abruptly looked wide-eyed and perhaps a little scared. “Shouldn't we hold some in reserve in case the enemy forces in the Picon system are particularly large?”

“We'll rely on detailed communications from Cain for that. If they can get it through jamming. If not.. If we don't take this risk, my Ysalha, there will likely be nothing left to rescue. Now, order the cruisers to salvo their forward launchers, and prepare us for the FTL move into torpedo range with the Baseships! Let us trust the advice of the Countess of Kriesdihl, and attack boldly when in doubt!”
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-11-07 03:02am

Chapter 15
Battlestar Galactica
Picon System

The Piconese in the surviving ships of the fleet had a bittersweet reunion with their homeworld. Surrounded by two hundred and fifty two (four had dropped out from mechanical problems) J'u'crea gunboats of 3,850 tonnes, the Battlestars Galactica and Pegasus stood in low orbit of Picon, sweeping forward at high speed, and, as ordered, launching fighters as fast as they could. Galactica was able to launch 48 Mk. VII Vipers, 96 Mk. II Vipers, the Blackbird, and 5 Raptors from her port pod and 192 Taloran TVI-48 space superiourity fighters from the Starboard bay which had been restored to service in ten days of manic work by Taloran technicians, for use with the smallest Taloran fighters, which could still barely fit in the launch tubes. The Pegasus was able to launch 576 Mk. VII Vipers and 20 Raptors, the numbers easily replenished by the onboard manufacturing facilities the moment that Tisara had been able to supply raw materials, though many of the pilots on both ships were green reservists, trained on the fleet for emergencies, and others were in fact Taloran volunteers from their Starfighter corps. Nuclear and anti-matter missiles were plentifully provided by the Talorans, including multi-platform 256 MT antimatter warheads fitted to the Tylium-missiles of the two Battlestars to bring them up to the same firepower as the nuclear fits.

The Blackbird cut down into the atmosphere for surveillance and reconaissance as passive sensors attempted to pick up reports from the surface on energy emissions for targeting purposes as they swept around the planet in powered orbit. The fighters were accelerating toward their chosen target, the Picon Fleet Yards' fueling installations, with the gunboats in amongst them. It was going perfectly, and then DRADIS revealed something which cut through the cool professionalism that the Galactica's bridge crew was showing in the circumstances with an icy chill. There was a Baseship being revealed ahead around the terminator line. And another, and another. But all that came from Cain was silence.

“Frak, we can't do it now,” Tigh muttered. “Got to pull off, jump out...”

“I know,” Adama answered grimly. What's Cain waiting for? At any moment, the baseships ahead, and there were more and more being revealed, would respond from their own surprise...

“Recall orders being transmitted!”

The bridge seemed to sigh, and then Admiral Cain's voice cut through. “General Javishurkh agrees with me. We can take them with the aide of the fighters and gunboats. Stand by for close quarters battle.”

“Admiral Cain,” Adama answered as respectfully as could be managed. “DRADIS is now reading seven.. No, excuse me, eight Baseships. We have the advantage of surprise, but they're starting to launch. We need to jump out.”

“It will take to long to recover the Taloran fighters, which can't jump,” Cain answered, and betrayed a moment's understanding of the situation that was fairly deep. “It would be quite impossible to abandon our allies. Anyway, we can take them.”

“Nine, Admiral. Ask for the Archduchess' assistance, at least?”

“Agreed,” Cain answered, and that was that. On the bridge of the Galactica, Adama and Tigh exchanged a grim look.

“Cylon missiles coming in!”

Whippet-fast, the fighters and gunboats swung around to accelerate back toward the Cylons and overtook the two Battlestars, passing them and sweeping through the field of Cylon missiles, where several unfortunates were taken out by direct hits. Then the Taloran gunboats began to attack. The J'u'crea type mounted two internal rotary launchers, and these systematically pumped out twelve fire-and-forget anti-fighter missiles each, a small anti-matter charge detonating a casing of unstable metallic hydrogen to provide maximum blast radius. This long range punch had an incredible effect on the vulnerable Cylon raiders; the entire initial launch force of the Cylons was more or less wiped out. They opened up with their forward heavy powerguns next. Basically twin main guns of a modified and enlarged version of those used on Taloran hovertanks, and largely identical, except in fixed mounts, to those used as anti-fighter weapons by larger Taloran ships, the guns were designed to punch through the energy shields of a 250 tonne tank and destroy it. They had plenty of power for smashing Cylon raiders.

The Cylons also didn't neatly stay in place for the J'u'creas to blast them apart; they were already spreading rapidly as more fighters issued from the enemy ships and shifting around them. The two quad-mounts of light bolters on the wings only had limited traverse, and soon it was left to the twin light cannon in a dorsally mounted turret on the gunboats to provide their defence, along with the short-range rocket packs.

“Full throttle! Course two-seventy,” the radios on the Galactica occasionally crackled with new orders as the fighters now entered the battle, the big, fast-accelerating gunboats taking on the Raiders first. The ship had been buffeted by two near misses, but for the moment the Pegasus in close concert meant that the two ships could overlap their defensive fire networks and hold off the Cylon fire. The purpose in Cain's plan had become more obvious after a moment of thought. She had remembered that each of the Taloran gunboats was also fitted with eight DRADIS-counter-homing missiles, and the Cylon Baseships were unshielded. They could, getting in close enough, possibly cripple the targeting systems of the Baseships. A thin chance to pin the survival of our fleet on.. The Galactica rocked dangerously from another blow which tore through the ship below the bridge, smoke dumping into the ventilation system for a moment before being locked off and cleared.

“Get me a damage report on that!”

“Admiral Cain is ordering main batteries to engage. Save missiles for point blank range.”

“Open fire!”

Outside the fighters were tangling with growing numbers of Cylon Raiders. The main batteries of the two Battlestars combined against a single Baseship, pounding it in a way that the meaty, semi-biological Cylon hulls could not withstand. But there were another eight Baseships, that way, smothering the two Battlestars in missiles. Support would be required for them to blast their way through the Cylon formation.

The fighters of the two Battlestars had served in holding off the Raiders from the gunboats. Now the gunboats were close enough, and almost twenty-five hundred HARMs were sent at the main Cylon force and their light support, driving in toward their active DRADIS emissions. And then they pushed their acceleration all the way to the max and drove in after them, starting to lose more of their numbers to the Cylon counterfire. The bombardier on each of the gunboats coolly began to make the calculations for the torpedo runs, fine-tuning their launching vectors and using neural interfaces to direct the maximization of the effectiveness of the penaids against the Cylon defence, coolly waiting through to the right moment.

Between the massed fire of two Battlestars, now growing closer and closer, one of the Cylon Baseships was blasted out of formation, spinning away immensely damaged. The hulls of the Battlestars were growing in their accumulation of severe damage, however, as unprotected they stood up to the massed Cylon barrages. More and more Raiders were coming from somewhere, and here, Adama was not sure, until they got a report back from the Blackbird.

“There's several thousand Raiders staging on the surface, at least,” Tigh grimly reported to him. “This situation is getting worse and worse, and the Archduchess isn't here...”

“Give the Talorans with us a chance,” Adama answered, expectant of what was going to happen next, even as more and more of the Taloran gunboats were blasted out of the stars.

They reached torpedo range, and 220 surviving gunboats each launched two close-range torps. With 10 gigatonne warheads. Most of them were shot down even by the anemic Cylon defences. A vast majority, in fact, while more of the Gunboats were lost as they turned away and desperately fled for it at full acceleration.

Three human seconds ticked away. Then, three Cylon Baseships ticked away, in fire and detonations of immense power as they were hit by enough of the torpedoes to destroy them entirely. Another two were caught by a torpedo each and left severely damaged, the flashes and intense power completely overwhelming DRADIS. What DRADIS that there was, that is, for most of the Cylon ships, the Baseships and Heavy Raiders and corvettes, had been hit by the HARMs in some way or another. Their firing was crippled, and the number of hits on the two Battlestars plunged, as they raced in toward the shattered formation, three cripples, three intact Baseships. The targeting feeds from several assigned gunboats standing off provided the Battlestars with real-time FTL sensor information, and that gave them a considerable advantage. The Cylons had FTL coms, but their sensors in that area were simple ping-based receivers which had nothing on the complex information that the Talorans could generate, and couldn't be used so effectively for targeting.

In this miasma of sensor confusion, the two Battlestars got into point-blank range, and nosed their way into the Cylon formation. Admiral Cain coolly gave the order, and barrages of nuclear missiles swept from the Battlestars into the Baseships while their guns pounded them at point-blank range. The Baseship between the two Battlestars simply blew up. Another one of the badly damaged cripples was destroyed by Galactica's guns, while Pegasus crippled yet another of the undamaged ones. Two intact and three crippled Baseships, and four completely destroyed, were left behind the passage of the Colonial fleet and the Taloran starfighter corps.

“A fast battle,” Tigh commented grimly. “Our fighters are still extricating themselves. The losses look very heavy.” At this point, not even suspicious Tigh called the Talorans anything other than 'our's'. To much blood had been spilled for those distinctions.

Admiral Cain's prior line came in. “Commander Adama?”

“Go ahead, Sir.”

“We'll destroy the Picon Fleet yards with our own guns.” A moment's pause. “We're coming up on some juicy planetary targets. We're sending targeting coordinates to you.”


Dualla couldn't help it when she saw the data feed that followed. “Some of these are dams and other industrial facilities—if there are human survivors on the surface...”

“Deny the Cylons industrial resources,” Adama answered. “The rich agricultural valleys and cities aren't the places where there will be survivors, regardless. So don't even think about it. Send the necessary orders to the batteries...”

The bridge was subdued as the guns began to fire, and the ragged formations of Vipers and Taloran starfighters came up together, the nuke-armed Raptors having expended their loads of missiles and landing to be resupplied. Even as the guns continued to fire, the Picon Fleet Yards swept into view, and there was the grimmest sight the Colonial officers could imagine. Three Baseships fueling at the Tylium tankage facilities, and, in the yards themselves, three of the elderly all-mechanical Cylon Baseships of the saucer-type undergoing servicing and repairs at what had once been the vital home of the Colonial fleet.

It was also the perfect target of opportunity. “It's worth using up our remaining missiles for,” Cain observed to Adama over their radio connection.

“More Cylons must be coming in. And their defences were already much stronger than we expected.”

“We'll take the risk.”

Systematically, the two last surviving ships of the Colonial fleet put everything they had into the Picon yards, detonating the vast Tylium stores which had been the one year's operational supply of the entire fleet, and then some. It was not a battle, it was an execution. These Cylon vessels were not prepared to fight, and the power of the Tylium reactions guaranteed such immense explosions as to annihilate them before they could pull away to resist, even with ample warning.

“I want us reoriented to provide relief supplies to the surface,” Adama ordered, feeling the strange detachment that everyone did after having destroyed the orbital facilities that they had once called home. The debris of the yards drifted away, hot against the cold of space.

He activated his direct line to Admiral Cain. “Have you heard anything from the Taloran fleet?”

“No.” Even Cain was sounding worried by that point.

“I'm going to start dropping relief supplies to the planet. We can redeploy the fighter forces to cover should the two operational Baseships attempt another attack from around the farside...”


“Admiral!” The shout could be heard over the pickup feed.

Adama, on instinct, looked to Tigh.

“We've got another nine Baseships coming in.”

Now Adama realized exactly how Fraslia must have felt, except in reverse. Where the hell is Tisara Urami!?

HSMS Orelyost,
Caprica System.

Tisara's twin missile barrages had spearheaded the FTL counterstrike of her fleet. The massive heavy assault missiles had bored in to point-blank range and then each one had launched, in every direction, a cluster of 10 GT short range attack torpedoes. The two salvoes had ended up destroying six Baseships before her fleet had even completed its retrograde movement back into close range with the Cylon fleet. There were now just twenty left.

And the Taloran destroyers were attacking from the other side. Eight of their number had been lost from the Cylon missiles and massed raiders—some of them engaging in kamikazi strikes because of their inability to otherwise harm the vessels—and another three possibly from the immense overkill of the Taloran assault missiles which Tisara had ordered fired despite the risks. The remaining 55 destroyers and 3 destroyer leaders in the attack force had, between them, almost seven hundred of the torpedoes, multiple-staged extended range versions of the ones fitted to the Taloran bombers and gunboats. Firing with a chemical '0' stage and boosters initially, a series of Metallic-hydrogen fueled explosive stages triggered by anti-matter, brought the torpedoes up to incredible speed in a couple of seconds.

The Cylon point-defence wasn't capable of handling the assault. Their sheer numbers made it more effective than the point defence against the gunboats over Picon; the greater distance at which they were launched made it easier to destroy them. But still, enough torpedoes got through, targeted in vast waves, to completely destroy four Baseships, ripping them apart with sledgehammers of raw energy greatly above anything that the weak carrier-type vessels could hope to repel. The destroyers raced clear from the formation and accelerated further, losing only three more of their number.

Now Tisara's fleet was in position, though, and the guns of the Battlecruisers salvoed in massive fury from the moment they'd arrived, pounding at the Baseships, more than a few of which were heavily damaged. The battleship joined in, and the cruisers smothered them with lighter fire. Their salvoes started coolly tearing up the battered Cylon formation, as Tisara's orders brought them progressively closer. It was, certainly, worthy of the Countess of Kriesdihl. A torpedo attack by battlecruisers and cruisers. Nobody had attempted one in a century in the Imperial Taloran Starfleet, and even she had abstained in her later years from encouraging such extremely bold, recklessly bold, tactics.

The Cylons were battering them with missiles and they were returning the favour, heedless of wearing down their batteries of long-range missiles in a point-blank engagement in favour of putting as much weight of firepower down onto the enemy as they could, the guns systematically throwing massed salvoes at the enemy each and every fifteen seconds. The worn down and battered Cylon Baseships started to explode, one after the other.

Tisara sat on the flagbridge of the Orelyost, watching as her customary boldness saved her from an embarrassing defeat she could not afford. There were now thirteen Baseships left. She had destroyed more than half of the enemy fleet, and the destroyers were forming up under the cover of the fleet's guns. Highly energized particles traveling at slightly below the speed of light from the Orelyost's own guns finally struck a target with enough power, ripping through biological systems, snapping through the outer metallic carapace, turning flesh and steel into vapourized gouts of plasma, destroying critical systems and severing connections, as to trigger a catastrophic detonation, adding a direct kill by her flagship to the list of triumphs, and reducing the number of the enemy to twelve battered ships.

At that point, the Cylons finally began to flee. Tisara watched as the ships began to move toward the planet and bared her teeth in a smile which to a Taloran was predatory and dangerous, and crowed her victory: “Look at the glory of our puissant arms, driving them into the planet! trikhami-uhl!” Everyone around her looked in surprise at her ordering a pursuit, but not a voice of disagreement was raised. The Cylons had avoided suffering a devastating massed attack from the Taloran heavies' torpedo batteries, but they were now hardly out of trouble.

The fleet angled to pursue, pounding the slow moving and damaged Baseships to the rear which progressively fell behind, the battlecruisers reducing their shield power in favour of greater acceleration to overtake the less damaged Baseships, the Cylon dependence on missiles now showing as the main guns of the fleet kept pounding away, but the enemy's return fire slacked as their missiles were expended, the Taloran forces steadily spreading out as the greyhounds of the fleet charged ahead at speeds only the destroyers could match, guns hammering with a deadly regularity, while the looming bulk of the battleship plodded in a placid fashion, guns anything but as she systematically demolished two crippled Baseships.

And then the Cylon trap was sprung. Hordes of mustered Raiders flung themselves against the overextended battlecruisers. And they didn't stop coming, or slow down. They rammed. And doing it by the thousand, they presented a sudden and immediate problem for the battlecruisers. At higher acceleration, with their shields lower, a potential fatal one. In a moment even the Orelyost was being buffeted, while the main batteries continued to grimly fire at the fleeing enemy.

Ysalha had just had enough. She turned to the silent Tisara, and ostentatiously bowed. “Mistress, I beg of you to issue the suitable order for this situation. We have been receiving further requests for aide from Admiral Cain, and the battle is now pointless. Our battlecruisers are threatened and we must, at the least, avoid the next waves of Cylon Raiders, and re-group into formation...”

“Missiles coming up from the planetary surface!” One of Tisara's staff officers reported in a more alarmed tone. As there was the discretion of the pursuit, the ships had already cut their acceleration to increase shielding and recover some of the losses from the pounding by the kamikazi waves that they'd suffered, with more coming, mustered around Caprica and being flung against them.

“Battle turn-away, Mistress. Signal battle turn-away!”

Tisara struck Ysalha with the pommel of her sword in an immensely irritated fashion, though the vacsuits they were both wearing softened the blow. “Impudent slave!” She said, even in the midst of battle drawing more than a few baleful glances. “We will continue the pursuit.”

There was, however, more dangers lurking on the far side of the planet. As the point-defence guns of the battlecruisers chattered ceaselessly and more and more RAMs were fired the kamikazi problem seemed to be partially solved even as the shields of the great ships were worn down steadily by it. The Cylons would, at least the least, have to keep it for quite some time to pose a threat for the ships at the reduced acceleration, but that also meant that their pursuit was slower, and so far they'd only succeeded in disabling the engines of two more of the Baseships for the trailing cruisers to pick apart.

But with the masking revealed by the arcing powered orbit, so were nine Cylon Baseships, all fresh and with more than ten thousand fresh Raiders with them, and six elderly Baseships of the double-saucer type, which Tisara actually feared more than the others. These were armed, she knew, with the same missiles as the older ones, but had sizeable gun batteries and armour, having been built not to carry some twelve-hundred Raiders but instead to go toe-to-toe with the more common Colonial battleships of the first war, before they'd built a large number of the Battlestars whose existence forced a change in Cylon tactics for the next round, as best as the Colonials could tell.

And another fifteen Baseships was a force that Tisara knew she could not successfully engage. Finally she gave the order she should have already given. “Battle-turn away!” Engines slewing, magnetic fields stretched and bent at high-levels, the ships violently transferred their momentum, crusing impellers briefly engaging to throw them into an FTL regimen where they could cheat the laws of momentum for microseconds, immense forces straining at the massive ships as they slewed and spun on heel, engines whining and hulls creaking, pressure being relieved in some by the snapping of secondary internal supports, the kinetic energy lost in their destruction saving the ships from more serious structural failures, as had been designed.

The rest of the fleet had imitated the manoeuvre with less severity, and Tisara had avoided losing any more ships. Now it was time to figure out just precisely how much they could do, and this Ysalha started on, offering a twistedly fond smile to her lover despite the earlier blow, which no Taloran noble would have tolerated, should have tolerated.

“How much charge do we have available on the fleet drives?”

“Seventeen-point-five lightyears of jump range, Your Ladyship,” one of the staff officers reported, the last two words with an overt pitying tone.

“Choose Point Zika,” Tisara ordered abruptly, a recovery to her characteristic quick decision. “Six lightyear jump for us. Inform Cain immediately. But we will not jump. Instead, I want full power for the crusing impellers. Bring us up to fifty-four c, escape pattern Ultia. We will not give the Cylons here a pursuit vector, so that we may fall upon such ships only as pursue Cain with overwhelming force. She must survive at Point Zika long enough for us to arrive...”

Battlestar Pegasus
Picon System.

“Serious hit to the port pod! We have reports of external bay depressurization... We can't hold out longer against this many Raiders, Admiral!” The utter desperation on the bridge of the Pegasus was palatable as hordes of Raiders swamped them, their defending squadrons having been recalled so they could jump. And the jump would surely bring them no real mercy... The huge numbers of reconaissance craft would flood out and track them down.

Except that they had an ace in the hole. “Point Zika,” Cain ordered, ignoring the latest reports. “We've got confirmation from the Archduchess, frack all of who knows what took so long. Make the jump!”

The Galactica's pods retracted, the Colonial fleet vanished. Confidently, the Cylons followed. Their FTL sensors were imperfect in the extreme, and in the past they'd relied on spies in the Colonial fleet, useless here. But they did give them a basic idea of the direction and magnitude of the Colonial fleet's jump. So they spread out their scouts, and jumped on their own, eight Baseships, one having been destroyed by a few lucky blasts of Pegasus' forward batteries after being thoroughly nuked by the re-launched Raptors, which followed the Battlestars in the jump.

The Taloran fleet was not at point Zika. Even Cain, at this point, felt an icy chill through her heart. Did I misread Tisara? Is she coming to our aid? Or we have been betrayed? She picked up the handset. “Commander Adama, how are your squadrons along in preparing for another strike?”

“Admiral, we've suffered almost fourty percent losses in all squadrons and two of my Raptors have been destroyed as well. The ship herself has extensive damage in sixty percent of outer hull sectors. If the Talorans don't arrive... We need to jump and evade as necessary, Admiral.”

“We'll hold for the moment, until we can get a hand on all damage and re-arm our squadrons,” Cain answered. “But we hold position and prepare to jump at a moment's notice.”

“Admiral...” Adama began to protest. He thought better of it. “Very well, I understand the orders. Galactica standing by.”

“About time. The man got to used to running the show in the past six months,” Cain muttered softly over the cut connection. “It would be nice if we had the missile banks of the Talorans right now...”

“We only have two missiles left,” Commander Fisk agreed. “And those of Galactica are entirely expended. If they do catch us, Admiral....”

“I know. But we wait. Let's get on damage control and move on from there.” Where are you, Tisara? They did not have to wait long before the Cylons arrived.

HSMS Jhammind,
Arriving, Point Zika.

A cylon raider lodged in her gut, having failed to explode, and two others scattering and pitting her hull, massive sections blown out as the explosive-reactive armour saved the ship from destruction, the already battered Jhammind was a wreck, aship that would have been sent home in any normal circumstance. But here they stood, in their squadron formation, available to soak up damage if nothing else. They still had their two five-tube trainable torpedo launchers and a single main turret operational, one of the worst damaged of the cruisers, and understandably considering that they had gone into the battle already just patched up from prior heavy damage.

What Fraslia nor even Tisara herself realized as they arrived was just how close to the Cylon forces they were coming in. The jump was essentially random in that respect, at close range. 219 Taloran warships arrived at the arbitrary grouping point in deep space to find themselves face to face at spitting distance with eight Baseships which had already launched their Raiders toward the Colonial forces. If the bridge hadn't been buried deep in the keel, Fraslia was sure she could have seen the enemy with her bare eyes. And that meant the orders were obvious. “Torpedoes, action port!”

The fixed tubes of the heavies were receiving the same orders. Not one grand salvo of torpedoes, then, as it was from the cruisers which sent a wave of them toward the enemy, but the torpedo tube commanders on the Battlecruisers and Battleship fired independently, the moment they sighted the enemy, aligning their tubes by limited traverse and programming their firing angles before slamming the levers which explosively vented the torpedoes by compressed air clear of the hull before ignition. It was an example of discipline and initiative at once, that the torpedoes were already being fired, or in some cases, fired already and reloaded, by the time that Tisara had appraised herself of the situation. The central battery directors of the ships, in a situation where they were in main combat and no order to cease fire had been given, also simply opened up.

They received orders to launch their fighter squadrons, all two of them, to aide the fighters of the light carriers, finally being launched now, and those of the other ships, normally reserved for scouting purposes but here being used to add weight of numbers to an attack on the rear of the Cylon raiders harrying the desperately battered Battlestars. The bombers and gunboats, however, unprotected with the fleet between them and the enemy's fighters, swung the moment they were launched and in twos and threes flung themselves in uncoordinated initiative attacks upon the enemy.

The result of independent targeting meant that almost all of the CBDs focused in on the three nearest Baseships, and they were raked with the concentrated power of five capital ships. Torpedo battery targeting was in a similar fashion. Of the Jhammind's ten torpedoes, only one hit. It was enough to cripple one of the further damaged Baseships, however, and bereft of Raider cover the bombers and gunboats recklessly pressed in from every single direction while the five great capital ships demolished one of the nearest Baseships and their fire, more organized, more precise, became to chew through the others.

As the rapid-fire of the torpedo tubes exhausted their limited stores in the space of two minutes of firing, the capital ships rolled, presenting fresh shield banks and fresh torpedo tubes. The attacks by the bombers and gunboats continued, two Baseships coming apart under the hammering blows while another one was lost to the concentrated gunfire of Tisara's fleet.

Jhammind, her torpedo tubes reloaded and fired again and again as they trained and tracked with the Cylon Baseships, equally pounded away with her single intact twin turret. The Cylons focused their missiles on the heavies, and were finally rewarded with a shield failure on the Ilkranisi which allowed four missiles to get through and pound the old battleship, not so well shielded at low accelerations as this when compared to the dreadnought-scale shield banks of the battlecruisers. She heeled sharply to starboard and slewed out of line under the power of the nuclear detonations and the kinetic force of her own ERA being set off, internal armour below the ERA stopping the remaining force of the detonations easily enough and her gravitic impellers shifting force and direction to restore her to position in the line. The battleship might not have the energy shields of a battlecruiser, but superdense exotic metals aplenty in her hull, layered with immense high-end ceramic plates and covered with the metallic hydrogen ERA tankage made the 28-megatonne ship completely unimpaired by the hammer's blow of four almost simultaneous direct nuclear events against her hull, of considerable yield, her guns blasting back an arrogant answering salvo the moment her thrusters had righted her.

Other missiles were getting through as well, hammering and tearing through the ranks of the cruisers. One of the light cruisers was finally overwhelmed, having been damaged in the earlier engagement at Caprica, and its battered hulk was pounded to death, all power lost and spinning off, drifting, sections of superstructure and stub wings blown off and huge chunks torn from the hull, permanently killed if nominally intact. But for that minor blow to the Oralnif Spinward's taskforce, a thousand deadly hammer-strikes had been dealt to the Cylons.

The continual wave of torpedoes and gunfire was indeed rapidly demolishing the remaining Cylon Baseships while their Raider forces were caught between two fires. Between the torpedoes and the guns of the battlecruisers and the Ilkranisi two more were completely destroyed, and the surviving two had suffered enough. They jumped clear with the haste and precision of Cylon drives, calculating in advance for this moment for several minutes, and those Raiders which had a clear path to space followed them. The remainder, which was most of them, were butchered in the space of minutes.

“Medical, please report,” Fraslia asked with an almost grim and automatic manner to her words.

“We've got at least six hundred fatalities in the crew, I think,” Dr. Ghimalia's voice came back. “Doctor Frysi is in surgery right now. And I need to start another one, Your Ladyship, so leave us alone. We have thirty surgeons... And three hundred people who need surgery to live. No time for estimates. Work with the unhurt.” She preemptorily cut off the channel.

Fraslia slumped back. “I can't believe that damned fool didn't kill us all. A pervert and a sadist, but of Valera's blood even so. She saw us through...” A shaky laugh echoed across the bridge. “I suppose I underestimed her, after all. Now, if we can only get clear in time to survive...”

The bridge ignored her battered, exhausted ruminations, and focused on the immense amounts of damage control which by this point served to simply keep the poor ship from falling apart. She was very close to doing just that, and Fraslia had more than her own disjointed ramblings to worry about in the rubble of a stricken ship with a savaged crew.

HSMS Orelyost,
Point Zika.

Ysalha Armenbhat staggered on her feet with an almost drunken exhaustion. One missile had penetrated the Orelyost's shields and caused further shock damage (on top of that from the battle turn-away manoeuvre) which was making her rather cranky cruising impellers act up. The best performing ships were never sent to the Oralnif Spinward, after all (particularly mechanically), and she was worried about the possibility of their flagship being unable to operate in realspace FTL manoeuvres, forcing it to stay with the battlestars. Her basic intelligence and instincts told her that they only had minutes, or seconds.

“Mistress,” the words came as readily as ever—their discipline and reserve completing forgotten in this harrowing ordeal of trap and counter-trap, jump and counter-jump, of endless manoeuvres and blows at a far higher intensity than the Taloran Starfleet was used to operating--the blow from Tisara's pommel, in a way, having been a reaffirmation for her of the equally deranged Archduchess' love. “We need to jump to escape point Yta, via waypoint 10. That should throw the Cylons off long enough for us to have two hours to make spot repairs and recharge the drives for a full jump. We can try to stabilize the cruising impeller, to, but before then I recommend we form up with the Battlestars...”

“Agreed. Start recovering the space superiourity fighters immediately; they have the priority. Interceptors and bombers should remain on patrol with the gunboats and they will make the jump with us, and be recovered while we recharge our drives.”

“I've already ordered the recovery of all survivors from the Utharin,” Ysalha answered a bit presumptively, referring to the light cruiser. She knew the failures of her lover and mistress, after all. “Along with such escape pods as were launched.”

“Very good. I am glad we recovered most of the survivors from the destroyers as well. I fear we have certainly left some of our crews in Cylon hands; but if the Cylons continue their depravity against us, they shall find us most unobliging foes, so let us trust in that to quaint their black hearts.”

The forces completed the recovery of their space superiourity fighters, and jumped clear. Nobody had any idea how hard the pursuit would be over the next few days, and indeed, the next hours would be the most relaxing for the forces of the two fleets. The Cylons had suffered very badly on that day, but they had also learned, and begun to formulate goals; but not knowing even the strength or size of their new foe, they proceeded with a worthy caution. It was a well-considered policy, considering the Midelan dreadnought squadron which was already coming up fast.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-11-14 02:05am

HSMS Orelyost.
Deep Space.

Thirty thousand Talorans packed into the immense battlecruiser, ten times the crew of the Pegasus of similar mass, and there was a reason for it. The operational combat crew at any one time was only around 15,500; in short, two shifts could be maintained even during combat situations, the second half of the crew being used simply as a flood of backup damage control teams (there are never enough of those) and a personnel reserve. The main difference was in the officers and warrants and other specialists. They needed to be on their feet at almost all times, and for that, there were combat drugs.

Sickbay handled most of them. For some, however, it was simply a private affair. Tisara Urami pushed slightly on the plunger, awake after about two and a half hours of sleep which had let her as refreshed as nine. After the confirming squirt, always the same from the finely silvered needle, she slipped it into a clearly visible—having been in space for so long she was virtually translucent in her white skin overlaid with gray-green tint—vein and depressed the plunger very exactly. A bodily shudder ran through her, quick and convulsive, and she pulled it out.

And then she drew another dose. “It's the epitome of trust, you know, to share this needle with you...”

Ysalha, already dressed, smiled shyly, her sleeve rolled back. “Thank you for it, Mistress.”

“I sometimes think, that each dawn I die, when I wake and realize here I am, with this suite as the extent of my domains. But then I recall that in it, I possess you, and my troubles are eased. The trade.. Was a worthy one.”

Ysalha gasped a bit, flushing more intensely gray-green. Tisara had never said such words before. “Do you fear...?”

“I just wanted to get some things out of the way in the case of what happens next.” The needle was slipped in, and Ysalha injected. The main difference was that as her body gave such a convulsive shudder, she moaned deeply in wild abandon of pleasure. There was really nothing better for her, though it would take a true masochist to find pleasure in the harsh combat drugs.

Removing and cleaning the needle, before putting it back, Tisara then abruptly grabbed a data transfer case, and seizing Ysalha roughly by the neck flipped up the false-skin protecting the connection jack, slipping the case in place and activating it.

“Data coordinates for the jumpdrive,” Ysalha murmured, returning quickly to being all business. “You want to override our pattern and make this our next jump? The next pre-planned jump is coming up soon.”

“So go up to the bridge and do it now.”

“Of course, Mistress.”

“One other thing. Once we arrive at our new destination, I want you to trip Orelyost's sensors and coms for a three-point-eight full spectrum generation burst.”

Ysalha suddenly jerked. “But that will bring the Cylons right down on our heads, and we've been running hard and fighting rearguard actions for a week! We can't handle the fleet pursuing us; it's more than thirty Baseships at this point.”

“We can't. But do it.”

Ysalha's eyes widened in recognition, and she dipped her head. “Of course, mistress. Permission to go?”


Tisara watched her lover go, removing the transfer case first, and then pulled up the copy of her sealed orders on a private, non-networked computer. The ones transmitted to her just before she'd taken the fleet out on her raid by the incoming Royal Midelan Navy forces. They'd been intended as a way for her to bring the Colonial refugee fleet to safety, not for this, but the Colonial refugee fleet was safe, and it was Tisara's fleet that was threatened. And her Aunt, really, wouldn't care that much, even if she'd be a bit surprised.

They'd been under strict silence regimes since the twin battles of Picon and Caprica, but now.. Now it was time.

Ysalha reached the flagbridge and coolly used her overrrides as the commanding Admiral's chief of staff to signal the new jump coordinates to the entire fleet via tight-beam laser pulse. A blinking query came back from the Pegasus: Please advise course shift purpose. CAIN. And Ysalha answered, without a beat: Physical alteration in random jump sequence to avoid Cylon prediction. A moment later the Pegasus simply provided receipt of receival and adherence. The two ships were in close proximity, as the Orelyost's cruising impellers were still down. The constant Cylon pursuit had not given them an opportunity to be repaired, so the flagship, one cruiser with impeller damage, and a frigate, formed up close with the two Colonial ships.

The flagbridge was a picture of crisp efficiency courtesy of combat drugs. Nobody was suffering the effects of fatigue, and it was very much business as usual. The countdown from below in the standard bridge to the jump was rebroadcast, and then as the coordinates were completed and everything was cleared with the last ship reporting full charge, the fleet jumped as one. The atmosphere of the Taloran ships was permeated with further gasses, more drugs, which prevented the crew from suffering the negative effects of a jump on the human psyche and body. One moment they were there in deep space, and the next moment they were in a star system twenty-eight point nine lightyears away.

Ysalha smiled, thrilled at the knowledge of what would come next, and rather like a naughty schoolgirl stepped over to the vacant FTL command section of the coms banks. She casually tripped it on, flipping a cover off a switch and flipping it up. Then she very lazily pushed a series of three buttons in sequence and slammed the side of her hand down into about twenty. “Oops.” The sarcasm was reverent as the timeclock she'd activated ran by the tenths of seconds and she hit the console kill control switch again at just the right moment.

And then someone was in her face, and she was confronting a drawn pistol of Commander Slitrami's. “You damned sinful whore! You've brought the enemy right down upon us, and by Farzbardor if we won't see Her Serene Grace forced to...”

“Kill you?” Tisara's voice cut across the bridge like a knife. “Quite possibly, Commander. You're from the gentry, and I could get away with it easy enough, a bloodprice to your family. Step away from her, damn you, for I ordered her to do it, and this sort of suspicion is unbecoming of our fleet.”

The gun was immediately lowered, and the flushing Slitrami backed up, realizing that she was being confronted with Tisara's service pistol herself. “At any rate, we're all under the influence of combat drugs,” Tisara continued languidly, “So please remember that we're a dozen times more high-strung than we would be without them.” She holstered the pistol. “Fleet signals, scramble all fighters, stand by for engagement with the enemy. We can't jump for another two hours, anyway, but we won't need to. I want a course prepared to, hmm,” she glanced at the holographic projector of the system. “That large gas giant one-half distance unit out from the star. Initiate immediately while fighter launch and assembly continues. My Aunt loves gas giants.”

“Incoming message from Admiral Cain.”

Tisara stepped over to the central command chair and tapped open the channel herself, while remaining standing. “Don't worry about it, Admiral. And I'm sorry I couldn't discuss it with you. Not even right now.”

“Don't worry?! We're about to be attack by overwhelming force, and the transmission came from your flagship. Do you have those Cylon prisoners aboard..”

“They're still on the Jhammind. I ordered the transmission, Admiral.

There was a long silence. “I believe I understand. Cain out.”

“Ah,” Tisara looked around at the happy and more confident expressions on the bridge. “I see that people are starting to figure out what is going on. Yes, for the record, my family is coming to pay us a social call. Now, attend to your duties, for we'll surely be attacked first. They're arriving in thirty-eight minutes.”

HSMS Jhammind
System DN10808014

“Do you want to walk across the bridge of death so readily? No, I won't kill you, Gina,” Ghimalia said easily, using her real name as it been revealed to her, and only her. She had not repeated it, though most of the crew of the Pegasus knew, of course. “I'm a doctor, and I've been trying to heal you. I've said that on numerous occasions. Suicide is a sin by both of our religions, and by mine, murder...”

All of Ghimalia's spare time these days was taken up by the delicate effort of comforting the battered Cylon prisoner. She alone understood human physiology enough to know that the efforts of a psychiatric professional were badly needed, and lacking one, she turned to the attempt herself out of a natural moral decency. She wasn't going to let one of her patients die now that she'd survived the operating table.

And Gina responded with more than a little trust. Ghimalia was more of a cyborg than not, after all, from the glowing red eyes to the jack in her neck and the vast storage of her personal internal hard drive, containing an endless list of medical facts and details. It could not teach her how to be a surgeon, but having learned, it provided the knowledge in textbook form for everything in xenophysical treatment that her education could not hope to precisely cover. Others were squeamish about such things, but since the moment that Ghimalia, loving visual art, had been told as a girl that she would someday go blind, this had been the natural response. Her thyroid was gone, too. A replacement could have been grown, but the regulator put in instead only needed to be serviced and recharged on a yearly basis, and it had the extra effect of releasing chemicals into her body just like hormones, allowing her to much more finely take the combat drugs if necessary, and to permeate herself with treatment drugs which helped to protect her skin from cancer or simple thermal damage in the face of her albinism's particular vulnerabilities.

“I confess I wish that our peoples weren't fighting,” Ghimalia continued. “We seem more suited for each other than the fractuous democratic colonies with their polytheism. We could have given you the respect and dignity as sentients that you deserve...”

“But instead we killed them all, and in doing so committed to you an unforgiveable crime, an unpardonable sin.” Gina slumped against the good Doctor, and laughed bitterly. “I won't even pretend, though, for I hate her. I hate Cain.. She couldn't even give me a good death...”

“What an endless cycle,” Ghimalia answered. “Must it really continue? Oppression breeds revolt, and independence breeds revenge, now, let us repeat the cycle. Now the Colonies have been humbled, but we will give them a chance to avenge themselves upon you... And that mostly through the efforts of a sadist seeking her own redemption on the bodies of those she does not know. No, I'm very sorry, Gina, that we got ourselves wrapped up in this conflict. But don't seek such vengeance against Cain. In doing so, you'll just complete the circle of hate. There is only tragedy there... The pre-Farzian histories were what feasted upon cycles of fate-mandated blood-spilling and oath-bound revenge killing. You are such a committed monotheist you cannot end your own life. So don't fall to such a pagan sin.”

“How do you stand being a soldier?”

“I just patch them up, mostly,” Ghimalia answered. “And the Empress commands, we Obey. It's the way things have always been, and likely, always will be. You can at least be assured that we would never visit slavery or destruction on your people. We fight wars between militaries.”

“Lots of people say that. But we weren't people, and that was good enough excuse for her...”

Ghimalia didn't press who 'her' was. She'd already figured it out. “You are a member of Homo Sapiens, Gina, a sentient species originating from the planet Terra. I'm a scientist, a medical doctor. I damn well know that you're human by any classification possible. You have some differences, to the point of warranting a designation as a subspecies, but fundamentally your genetic code is the same. And your cybernetics make you no less of a sentient being than mine do for me. You scarcely have more machine than I do, by Idenicamos' harem! Now, it is certainly a mystery how technologically advanced humans came to inhabit the planet Kobol thousands of years ago when the archaeological record of Earth shows they were no more sophisticated than stone-throwers, and even my own species had scarcely broadly used steam engines and repeating rifles. At any rate, Gina... You've been through a lot, and I'll protect you from that in the future. You have my word. It's all I can give, but it means a lot to me. If you're just a machine, after all, then so am I.

Gina hugged against Ghimalia and sobbed in relief. But the moment was very short lived, for the com buzzed insistently.

“Doctor Ghiamlia”

“This is Doctor Frysi”, the voice came, annoyed and insistent. “We need you down here right away. The Cylon fleet has just jumped in, and with the ship in the state it is, we're going to have plenty of casualties soon enough. You should have already been at your station.”

“I'm dealing with a patient,” Ghimalia replied a bit irritably.

“Mental problems are an issue of Will,” Frysi answered with the Taloran standard line in the medical sciences. “Attend to the physic, physician, for that is what can kill. Report immediately, or I will have you disciplined.”

“We aren't in action yet!”

“Which means you have enough time to get here before you can't. That's an order!”

“Of course,” Ghimalia answered, stretching and sighing as she stepped away from Gina. “My apologies. I hope...”

“You mean a lot to me,” Gina answered simply, still crying, though she did not avoid the Doctor's attempt to leave and attend to her duties.

Battlestar Galactica

“What the hell game are you playing at?” Starbuck tossed off to one of her Taloran counterparts suiting up, a lithe and short male with the distinctive high-ovoid helmet required on a flightsuit because of the Taloran ear configuration.

“Wish I knew, Lieutenant. But the enemy is coming on, and we've got to stand and fight now, thanks to whatever Terrible Tisara is planning. She got us this far, at least.”

“I'm real pleased to know that she has such an endearing nickname. I don't suppose anyone important knows..”

“Oh, everyone does, but nobody likes to talk about why.” The man finished sealing his helmet. “We're headed to opposite bays,” he said through the crisp radio feed now working. “Good luck and good fighting, Lieutenant.”

“And hard drinking afterward!”

“We did bring our own stores, if this damn running fight ever ends.”

“That's why I love you people so much! Feels like I'm right at home, as a matter of fact.” And doesn't it, really? It's nice having them aboard the ship. There was something deeper to that which she didn't viscerally understand yet.

“Keep yourself in one piece, then!”

“We'd better keep the whole damn fleet that way!”

They ran to their launch positions. There was no more time for anything except fighting, and he light humour concealed the fact that everyone in the force, regardless of species, knew that time was short if the surface was all that was apparent to this battle. Nine Baseships had already arrived, and they looked fresh. The pursuit force must be being vectored in to a closer jump already, Tisara angling the fleet toward the massive gas giant before them, almost large enough to be a Brown Dwarf, to use its myriad of huge moons to keep the next Cylon jump at a distance.

On the bridge of the Galactica, a similar, but much more dour, conversation had played out between Tigh and Adama. Saul Tigh had every reason to question Tisara's sanity, but Adama had seen the development in a different light, listening Tigh out politely before very gruffly answering, “It's a very convenient accident. Almost an impossible level of incompetence.”

“We don't know how their systems work.. Convenient? The Cylons want to destroy them as badly as us, it's clear. Especially now. They clearly hate all biological life, Sir.”

“I'm not talking about any kind of collusion, Colonel. I'm talking about the possibility that we're the bait in a trap. A trap for a very sizable element of the Cylon fleet.”

“You believe their claims to such a massive Starfleet?”

“I don't know,” Adama answered simply. “We're going to find out very soon.”

“Or end up dead. We should make plans to jump out independently; we're not hindered by the Taloran recharge limitations. Our drives are more sophisticated.”

“Not yet.”

“New targets on DRADIS!” The message intervened in their conversation.

Adama turned. “Estimate?”

“Twenty new, six old Baseships, plus many light. The original pursuit force. They're launching immediately, missiles and Raiders.”

“Defensive batteries on automatic,” Adama answered, watching the plots develop intently. The Taloran ships with their deep missile banks were engaging in counter-fire already.

Pegasus signalling, Sir.” Dualla spoke up.

Adama grabbed the right handset. “Admiral?”

“We're maintaining course, but vector our fighters to intercept the incoming Raiders. All light craft are going to work to draw them off from the fleet while we try to widen the gap. They don't have a speed advantage on us, even damaged. Understood?”

“Roger that, Admiral.” Adama put the receiver down. “Cain is very confident in the matter,” he remarked to Tigh, adding before he turned his attention elsewhere: “I suspect that means something important which can't be communicated directly to us. Or possibly even with her. Remember that the fleet is rife with Cylon spies according to the Taloran estimate. I doubt they trust anyone for dissemination of tactical information. We'll wait and see. And Cain won't give us a chance to do anything else, anyway.”

“Understood, Sir.” Tigh answered in an unusually quiet way.

“Signals from Admiral Cain, we are to fall in behind the Taloran battlecruiser Ghimsar to establish an interlocking defensive pattern...”

HMMS Queen Tonnakhi
RP 1438.

“Time is T minus two minutes to planned jump. Coordinates are locked in to designated arrival point. Stand by for combat jump, all hands, stand by for combat jump. This is Condition One, Action Stations. Prepare for action on jump.”

“Are all inteceptors, bombers, and gunboats deployed?”

“Yes, Your Serene Grace. First, second, third, and fourth destroyer flotillas are also in position. All cruiser squadrons report ready. Rocket cruisers standing by for immediate launch upon targeting.”

“I want all Assault Missile targeting linked. With the fleet's ammunition expenditures being paid for by the Imperial government, we'll hit them with an overwhelming salvo, presuming the fleet that Admiral Urami is guarding to be heavily opposed,” commented Admiral the Archduchess Sipamert of Ritak.

“Beginning one minute countdown for jump.”

Sipamert turned, crisply dressed in the close fitting and tight trousers and conformal three-fourths coat, cross buttoned at the top, of the Royal Midelan Navy, all wine-dark in colour with a banded yellow sash and gold fringing, white boots and gloves and kepi that left the ears free completing the uniform. “Time for us to suit up,” she remarked to a man close by her side. In the one Taloran minute, about eighty-five human seconds, they completed suiting up and finishing up their own personal preparations. The jump needed no input from the commanding Admiral, after all.

“Tell me as much about these Cylons as you can when we arrive, Trisalkh.”

“Of course, Your Serene Grace.”

“Fleet jump!”

Two hundred and eighteen ships of the Royal Midelan Navy jumped into action. The Pegasus had been of the largest ship class of the Colonial fleet, massing 27 megatonnes when completely empty; Galactica had massed only fourteen. The Taloran battleship accompanying Tisara's fleet had massed 25 megatonnes. The Royal Midelan Navy dreadnoughts now arriving in the system of the Queen Tisara-class massed 49.5 megatonnes when completely empty. Their fully loaded mass was two and a half times that, and that did not count the 3 megatonne detachable weapons pods on each immense stub wing. The ships, overall, were 3,225 meters long, and there were eight of them, as promised. Each, fitted with four quadruple, six triple, and four twin turrets on the wings, could put thirty-eight 1.5 gigatonne particle cannon to the broadside, and fire them once every twelve seconds.

Massive, heavy-hulled versions of the slim battlecruisers of Tisara's fleet, they looked like longer, somewhat sleeker versions of a battleship, and far, far more massive, looming in their cool, brooding power. With the usual celerity, the moment they arrived their guns began to track toward the enemy fleet which now found itself caught between TF 889 and Midelan Battle Squadron Eight.

“Starboard missile batteries, engage the distant covering force of the enemy,” Sipamert ordered crisply. “Assault missiles against the main enemy body.”

“No civilian ships detected.”

“Tisara probably has them hiding behind the second gas giant and is trying to draw off the enemy,” Sipamert mused. “the covering force is in a pursuit position for such an arrangement. They're in no danger at the moment, at any rate.” She tapped the armrest of her command chair for a moment, and then gave the order: “All batteries commence firing. All starfighters and gunboats remain in covering positions.”

Each dreadnought fired fifty-one gigatonnes of kinetic energy at its target in the form of a tiny stream of hyper-accelerated atomic particles. Their broadsides were a third again the firepower of a battleship with a fifth greater rapidity, and were only limited by the twin turrets not firing, masked to broadside or by the missile pods. The launch officers, pleased at the chance to do something they had, as members of a minor navy of the Empire not used on the frontiers, never done before. They were emptying an entire attached missile pod into the enemy. Each dreadnought sent 2,500 missiles toward the enemy's distant cover fleet. It was a one-shot salvo, but a one-shot salvo which had six times the power of the gun salvo that the dreadnought had just put into the enemy, and, unattrited, enough power to destroy a dreadnought by itself. And in an example of copious, luxuriant waste, each dreadnought had targeted a single Cylon Baseship.

To the port, against the closer and larger Baseship fleet, the salvo was repeated, even as the eight missile cruisers in the fleet and the fleet's battlecruisers, dreadnoughts, and heavy cruisers salvoed off almost a thousand assault missiles altogether, the larger and immensely expensive devices being used here against a close range enemy in a way that gave them a disadvantage, the same with the port salvoes from the weapons pods of all the Midelan ships. The missile pods being empty, they were immediately ejected from the stub wings with explosive charges, allowing the twin turrets to immediately fire in four-gun salvoes at the enemy to follow up the far more vast ones just delivered.

Sipamert, observing her by-the-book execution of an engagement against enemies to each side, one stronger than the other, didn't notice until later that Trisalkh had collapsed to the deck of the bridge, mumbling, and then screaming, loud enough to distract them all: “They worship her! They worship her! They don't understand, she's mortal! And the lover knows! She knows in her heart! She is here... She is here. They are the savage brood of a savage race and their creation is by savage ways of old! All savagery, all blood...”

He stood, and now everyone on the flagbridge was distracted by the psychic's deranged rantings. “This is the fate of those who enslaved her—don't you understand?” His voice became almost feminine. “I am fire, I am blood, I am agony. Saved from their folly once, will they be saved again.. Does love alone provide justification..? Prophecy cannot be escaped, and even gods can die; so I deny my own divinity. Not mortal, but not against God, and all worlds are from one. They are creations of evil and so is she and so shall be the lover, but all, spirits still!” They restrained him, but still he ranted.

Sipamert struck her house psychic a blow to the back of the neck and he collapsed, a desperate necessity in the heat of battle. “The enemy has the power to drive psychics to temporary insanity,” she remarked coolly, though the incident left her more than a little dazed, and frightened. Of their material power, however, there was no doubt. The first salvoes were striking home, and the second energy salvo was now fired, while much smaller numbers of missiles—eighty or so to each broadside of the dreadnoughts—were being fired even ten seconds.

She shook off the surprise of the madness that had engulfed Trilakh when he had reached out to gaze at the enemy, and concentrated on fighting her battle. Her answer was, surely after all, correct. It just remained for the forces of opposition to be dealt with, and that was a small matter for Battle Squadron Eight, it was rapidly becoming apparent...

Battlestar Galactica.

The battle had been going badly for TF 889 and the Colonial fleet. Though some of the Cylons had been lured off in pursuit of the starfighters and vipers, which were suffering heavily, the majority of them had honed in on the fleet and launched a series of harrying attacks. One heavy cruiser which had suffered severe and prolonged damage in the chase had already been destroyed, and two very badly crippled ships were in severe position, while many of the more heavily damaged vessels served to simply sit in line, scarcely with a single gun working, and soak up more damage to keep their fit counterparts in the fight. The heavies were riding it out, though the unrepaired damage to the Battlestars from before was coming back to haunt them.

Constant swarms of Raiders swept over them, and the Cylon willingness to use suicide tactics was making the development overwhelming as damage seemed to cascade over them, the bridge smoking from several near misses which had caused no significant amount of damage. Almost all targeting was purely by manual at this point, and the starboard bay had severe fires which had yet to be contained, and they had been debating the necessity of venting the bay when the Midelan Battle Squadron Eight had arrived.

What followed was more of a show to them than anything else, one almost horrifying despite who it was directed against. The first salvo of the Imperial fleet did heavy damage to eight Baseships, and the missiles homed in right after it. Enough Raiders were diverted whippet-fast to intercept many of the missiles, but enough got through that in devastating waves of long-range and heavy assault missiles the Cylon fleet was simply gutted. With eight of the Baseships already heavily damaged, and those having been targeted by the long-range missile salvoes as well, eight were destroyed. The heavy assault missiles accounted for another three and more damaged. Eleven of twenty of the modern Baseships in the fleet were destroyed in the first 12 seconds.

By then, though, the six older Baseships were moving forward. These, heavily armoured and equipped with extremely large cannon at the expense of Raider compliments, were better able to stand up to the pounding of the Taloran dreadnoughts than the all-fighter and missile carrier Baseships, and with the massive pod and assault missile salvoes having been expended—the Cylons seemed quite aware similar such overwhelming barrages were absolutely impossible—they took on the Taloran dreadnoughts to buy enough time for the rest of the Cylon force to escape.

Abruptly the fighting ceased for TF 889 as the Raiders fled. The shielding of six of the dreadnoughts lit up as the Cylon cannon began to strike them, missiles roaring in behind them but mostly destroyed by the immense defensive barrages of the Taloran heavies. The armour of the elderly Cylon ships, continuously presenting a good angle due to the double-saucer shape of the vessels, held up surprisingly well to the Taloran fire, directing the damage into fairly small areas of penetration inside their hulls.

The problem was that the cruisers, battlecruisers, and two of the dreadnoughts were unengaged with their guns, and these ships were pounding apart the rest of the Cylon fleet anyway. The Cylons had faster and quicker calculating jump computers, but it was still not proving quick enough to save them, the energy weapons helped by continuous if smaller salvoes of missiles coming at a faster rate, and the range was close enough for the light particle cannon secondary armaments on the dreadnoughts to hammer at their opponents as well.

Waves of kamikazis joined in the Cylon attacks, while Adama recalled the Galactica's battered squadrons, the damage control situation for the moment contained and under Tigh's direction. The kamikazis were there to try and relieve further pressure on the Cylon fleet and for a while they succeeded, but the overwhelming firepower still was blasting apart the Cylon forces, destroying four more of the new Baseships, crippling two others. The remaining three were able to jump out in time, the older Baseships—only one lost—following them, along with the Raiders.

Of the covering force, six Baseships had been destroyed outright. Two were crippled. The remaining one had used its weapons and Raiders to cover the other two, which at such an extreme range was highly effective, until they could both escape, and the undamaged Baseship had followed it. That battle had been over in the period tens of seconds, let alone minutes, and the battle with the main Cylon fleet had lasted not much longer at all. The Raiders, capable of jumping, all easily made it clear, with more surviving than the remaining Cylon ships could possibly handle, but they had considerable range which made it reasonable for them not to remain and be wasted in more suicide attacks.

It had been a simply incredible display of firepower, and if the Talorans had hundreds of these ships, the Cylons would truly be utterly doomed. There was no other way to put it or consider it. “But where does that leave us?” Adama asked gruffly to himself. And more importantly, will they really want to help us? Material power without that desire is useless, or worse than useless, and things haven't gone well on the political front. Enough of that. “Progress of the starboard pod fire control efforts?”

“Eighty-five percent contained by local damage control teams, Sir. Not nearly as serious as the one back at Ragnar..”

HMMS Queen Tonnakhi.

“You can be assured that they'll start using a lot more of those double-saucer ships in the future,” Sipamert observed coolly as Battle Squadron Eight secured from action stations. “What were our losses?”

“One light cruiser, the Ourasan, was destroyed by early coordinated fire by the saucer-ships, Your Serene Grace, before they concentrated on us. Eleven fighters and gunboats lost in the crossfire. Minor damage and engineering casualties from overexertion of powerplants reported on all other vessels only, and only fourteen incidences along those lines at all. Shield depletion and strikes absorbed by armour on the rest of the fleet at most. Many ships entirely unengaged by the enemy with no damage whatsoever. Your flagship, Your Serene Grace, suffered only shield depletion, though the banks are still recharging from the power of the enemy batteries, which was considerable for a ship of that size.”

“Very well, Captain Trukam. Thank you.”

She turned toward the holo-projector on the bridge. “Get me Admiral Urami.”

“Of course, Your Serene Grace.”

The image of the black sheep of the family resolved itself on the holotank. “Tisara!” Sipamert snapped nastily. “Where in all of Idenicamos' black halls is the civilian fleet that you're guarding?”

“Presumably following Commodore Ilasuljh's directions in returning to a more settled area of our space, Aunt.”

“Don't you dare use such a familiar term with me, regardless of your current success. At any rate, luring off the enemy makes sense.” She paused for a moment. “How did you do it?”

“I raided the occupied human worlds here as a diversion.”

“You will have a lot to answer for in doing that. It appears that we're now in the midst of a war, though it seems that the enemy has plenty of these semi-biological ships which don't stand up well to our fire, and few armoured combatants capable of main battle. Did you lose any ships in your engagements?”

“Total losses amount to two corvettes, one frigate, and one expeditionary cruiser, lost in the pursuit, a heavy cruiser lost in this action, a light cruiser lost at the concentration point after our raid, and eleven destroyers and three destroyer leaders lost over Caprica, along with hundreds of fighters and gunboats overall,” Tisara answered grimly. “You arrived with absolutely overwhelming power and surprised them. They surprised and almost trapped me twice, and fighting my way out cost us heavily.”

“You shouldn't have raided so deep into their space, especially without a declared war. If the civilians are safe, all will be forgiven, and since I'm assuming you were regularly facing forces of that size, which is no small accomplishment with your fleet... Perhaps your future position in what has become a rather important sector will be somewhat enhanced. If not...” Sipamert shrugged. “Do not expect any favours from here, however. We're here to clean up your mess. It was just thought at the time that it would be political instead of military. Though, I must say, if you weren't what you are, your services as an Admiral and fleet commander would be much appreciated by the Empire. Perhaps that should give you some reason to reconsider your sins.”

“You're speaking of this in public!?” Tisara shot back, horrified and incredulous.

“Your private life ceased to be private when the elder Armenbhat sister published her evidence, took her punishment for doing so with grace, and left you to your fate. If this is thoroughly humiliating to you, Good. You need to be humiliated, for the sake of your soul and more importantly, the family. Because of you one of our dreadnought squadrons has been dispatched here, and we just lost a light cruiser in action. The universe already knows, so I'm just making sure it also knows of our displeasure. Though you've handled this situation well, we have not arrived to fight a private little war for you—which is what I suspect you want--and I'm going to supervise our broad-based withdrawal to a more defensible line inside the Oralnif Spinward.”

“Am I to be relieved, then?” Tisara asked very quietly.

“I said that if we confirm the safety of the civilian ships you might even receive a small reward. As it stands, no, you are simply my subordinate, in command of Taskforce 889. And there will be no more offensive operations for the moment. These Cylons bother me, and we will figure out why before proceeding. You will not, do you understand, not prejudice the possibility of talks with them now that the supreme power of our Navy has been demonstrated to their fleet with the destruction of twenty-four of their mainline combatants in eight minutes. The Empire cannot afford a foreign war in the midst of one of the largest fleet upgrade cycles in history combined with the deployment of certain technologies it is perhaps best for us not to discuss here even on a secured short-range com, and that is no doubt why we were sent instead of an Imperial squadron—but the Empire is still paying for my deployment, and my orders are explicit that the frontier only must be secured. The Countess Palatine Fulanaj will be dealing with the political aspects. From this moment forward, I expect you to concern yourself with the management of your Taskforce. One thing you have lost, therefore, is your plenipotentiary powers in the Oralnif Spinward. Is that clearly understood?”

“Yes, Admiral, I understand your orders,” Tisara replied quietly.

“Very good. Then form your Taskforce on mine; put me in touch with the Colonial Admiral, and prepare to jump as soon as our engines have recharged. We will try and make touch with the refugees as rapidly as possible.”

“Understood, Admiral.” Tisara glumly cut the link; civilization had caught up with her after all.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2007-12-17 02:23am

Chapter Seventeen

Rag-tag fleet,
Colonial One
In the Oralnif Spinward.

The arrival back at the fleet was attended by no inconsiderable celebration. Both Battlestars had survived, after all, and the triumph had been spectacular. Human losses had been in the hundreds of lives and Vipers only, whereas Cylon losses in the seven days of fighting had been almost fifty capital ships, and numerous light ships and Raiders of all types. It seemed that the Cylons had received a decisive counter-blow of the type that people had before only dreamed about. Certainly, before the intervention of the Talorans, it had been impossible. To the traumatised survivors of Kobolian humanity, those pathetic remnants on their ships, a light was at the end of the tunnel. They could finally taste vengeance for the uncounted dead relatives they all had, and their survival seemed assured.

Since Tisara had been banished to her taskforce, the show was her Aunt's when the Talorans arrived with the Colonial fleet in victory (and having borne by far the greater weight in it), and Sipamert, at least, tended to have more Fraslia's air than that of her deranged niece. She was, however, more orthodox than the Ghastan Islander would have been, and her distaste for dealing with polytheists had to be carefully masked. Moreover, she was dealing with a Laura Roslyn who was sicker still than before as the cancer took a firm and dangerous grip on her body. The Colonial president was left with little choice but to receive the Admiral from her sickbed, and in some way it served to illustrate their relative power, the tall and commanding Archduchess and the frail President.

“Your Excellency,” Sipamert offered neutrally, ignoring Billy as he stood by the President's side respectfully, the nurse in the room having made herself scarce. “My apologies on your condition, and I hope that your recovery may be swift, and this meeting isn't to much of an imposition. However, I thought it was important that we arrange a chance to speak face to face so that we can lay down my intentions.”

“It's terminal,” Roslyn answered simply. “But for the moment I am very much in control of my faculties and able to continue to direct our fleet, and our government.”

“My apologies.” Sipamert allowed a look of consternation to cross her face. “Might our doctors perhaps be of some use?”

“It wouldn't hurt, Your Serene Grace,” Billy answered.

“Ah, Billy..” Laura laughed wryly. “Forgive me, Admiral, but, yes. I suppose it wouldn't hurt.”

“I understand there's an expert on human physiology on the cruiser Jhammind....” Billy added.

“I'll check the records and see about arranging for such an officer to be sent here, if true,” Sipamert answered. Her own fleet, made up of Midelan subjects, had no humans, unlike the Imperial fleet, and no doctors trained to work with human physiology therefore. “Certainly I hope we can do something for your condition, Your Excellency. However, for the moment...”

“Yes, business. The first of which is to extend the official thanks of my government for the tremendous effort of your people in helping save us from the Cylons,” Roslyn concluded. “Regardless of our differing political philosophies, the actions that your nation has taken put you very firmly in the category of some of heroes to us. We can only hope for further cooperation...”

“Well, it's our intention to escort your refugees, and military vessels, to the heavily fortified Oralnif System, which serves as the capital of this expansionary sector. It's also the government for the colonies in this area which haven't organized into recognized governments yet, allowing us to administrate centrally during the initial stages. There are plenty of resources available there to relieve the issues the people of your fleet are facing, and for them to go down to the surface of a habitable planet for recuperation after such a long confinement.”

“That's all very welcome, Admiral. But I take it you don't plan to conduct further offensive operations?”

“That's correct, Your Excellency,” Sipamert answered, somewhat irritated about the Colonial President's disrespect for her titles. But the humans could not read her ear movements, and her face remained quite impassive. “We have already done a great deal in your cause without any gain for our nation, but simply out of the morality of a fundamental belief in the defence of innocent life. The Countess Palatine of Fulanaj is coming to negotiate the appropriate treaties with you and your government to secure your safe resettlement.”

“What about the people left behind in ships, possibly? Or those on the surface of our homeworlds in the Cylon experimentation camps? We know that they're there; we can't leave them, Admiral.”

“I cannot undertake offensive operations on your behalf, and considering the strength of the enemy I rather advise against you using your naval forces to that end. That said, we are continuing the Archduchess Urami's initiative to use her scouting elements to scan deep space near your homeworlds while avoiding enemy concentrations, in hope of finding ships which went to a high sublight burn and have now gone silent in deep space. We'll conduct rescues of the crews of such ships whenever possible.”

“That's a disturbing unwillingness to aid what could be millions of people who are being tortured to death,” Roslyn replied coldly.

“I would help them if I could, Your Excellency,” Sipamert replied in an equally cool voice. “However, we must establish treaty relations between our governments before the Empire's cause in such a war could be seen as legitimate. So, considering the failure of the Archduchess Urami's earlier efforts, I suggest you take a serious view toward what the Countess Palatine Fulanaj proposes.”

“I'll welcome formal negotiations with a trained and experienced diplomat,” Laura replied. “But those delays are not welcome to those who may be suffering.”

“And we do not have the resources here to persecute a war against a nation which has likely more than a thousand ships. We will, however, certainly refuse to make any arrangements with them unless they immediately release all civilians held in such camps, I can assure you. The Taloran Empire does not allow genocidaires to continue their horrors, though we must also act only when it is realistic and practical to do so, that we may avoid issues with the standing of our government amongst other nations and to safeguard our own people. We'd also certainly handle the logistics any voluntary repatriation that they might agree to permit.”

“Do you seriously believe that the Cylons would permit a 'voluntary repatriation'? Their goal is the extermination of humanity, and perhaps of all biological life.”

“The Cylons are, by all accounts, biological,” Sipamert answered crisply. “Your Excellency, my government is not going to fight your war for you, and particularly not for free. I understand that the Countess Palatine of Fulanaj is extensively empowered to make agreements with you, that may change those statements, and change them swiftly. But for the moment, all I can do is bring your people to safety.”

Don't get infected with victory disease! Laura thought to herself. Like everyone in the fleet the news of the spectacular successes had engendered a certain degree of optimism. “Very well, Admiral. Thank you for the actions of your fleet, and I'm sure our people will come to equitable and formal relations soon enough. I apologize for pushing the issue so harshly, but you must understand..”

“Yes. None of us find the idea of what's likely happening there to be anything other than horrific,” Sipamert agreed politely. “But for the moment, I will secure the safety of your civilians here, and then allow the Countess Palatine Fulanaj to deal with those matters, you and her, as diplomatic representatives ought.”

“Of course.”

“As for the short term.. Shall I arrange that doctor's visit immediately?”


“Then, Good Day, Your Excellency.” Sipamert strode out without further ceremony.

“I liked Tisara more,” Roslyn muttered to the closed door, slumping back a bit. It was an opinion she very ironically happened to share with someone else in the fleet.

Colonial One,
Deep Space.

“I wish someone had told me about this earlier!” Ghimalia exclaimed in her usual rather animated condition, walking along beside Dr. Cottle and Commander Adama and her ears flexing back and forth once and then flattening in consternation. “Her Excellency's condition is indeed certainly terminal with the sort of treatment you've been providing, though I confess it is the best that you can offer—please, don't take offense, it's the simple truth!”

“I know it is,” Cottle answered starkly.

Billy Kekeiya grimaced from behind the main group. “Doctor Ghimalia,” he offered politely, “I do wish we'd thought about that before Admiral Sipamert brought it up, but... Well, she's aware of her condition being fatal. Still, please have some consideration of the fact that we'd been trying all our best. We feel terribly bad that we weren't able to provide treatment before for the President.”

“Don't worry about it,” Ghimalia answered after a moment. She knew she wasn't the best with bedside manner, but this was a very important person. “I take it her condition has taken a turn for the worse, at any rate?”

“You'd be correct. You can see the most recent files,” Dr. Cottle replied, as they came to a stop before the President's quarters and handing them over, on paper.

Standing outside the door, and not going in for the moment, she crisply read through the notes, asking for clarification of a few terms which her flash-learning of Colonial speech—ironically with Gina's aid—had not yet covered. “Well, I need to take some scans of the cancer growth,” Ghimalia unslung a heavy bag she'd been carrying the moment she handed the papers back, and took a device out of it that looked like a big old camera. “If you'd allow me in? But the rest of you should remain outside. My clothes are permeated with radiation-resistant metals but for your's aren't, and even in the miniscule imaging qualities we shouldn't be exposed to it where possible. For safety's sake.”

“Of course.”

Dr. Cottle led Ghimalia inside, the Taloran woman ducking through the door and taking a first look at her patient through her glowing red artificial eyes. “Your Excellency,” she offered politely, a bit flustered, certainly, to be treating a head of state.

Laura Roslyn had been bedridden over the past several days, though, and it was hardly better from her point of view, considering the lack of dignity in representing her nation in such a way. “I understand there's something you can do for me, Doctor,” she answered. “Not to mention that you've been to Earth, which makes you unique in my eyes.”

“Oh yes, I have! Though it's hardly unique; during your treatment I'll tell you as much as I can about the planet. As for your condition, well, it is actually perfectly treatable, Your Excellency, though I warn you that it will be a long and painful treatment, not anything quick and easy. We must train your body to attack the cancer.”

“I see,” Laura answered. “Can the treatment be done here?”

“No, Your Excellency, I must take you to the Jhammind at the very least to begin regular intensive treatment. Possibly to Earth for specialist care.”

“To Earth..” Roslyn was silent for a moment, thinking of the strange circumstances which might finally bring her there. And how they did not connect with prophecy at all, which more than disturbed her in some ways.

“Yes. Though I am not sure yet as to if that step shall be necessary. For the moment, I first need to run some tests, and then confer on the results, and make sure you're healthy enough to carry on the work of state, as Her Ladyship the Ambassador has arrived, I'm to understand, and wishes to meet with you urgently.”

“So, an ulterior motive,” President Roslyn laughed, trying to interject a bit of humour into the process. It was made easier by the Taloran doctor promising her some hope where before there had been none at all.

“Nothing of the sort, Your Excellency, I promise. But I imagine you don't wish to leave such important negotiations to someone else.”

“You're right, I don't. Alright, what sort of information do you need for these tests?”

“Oh, nothing from you personally, except for your body. From which I will need a blood sample, which I can gain through diffusion, and some magnetic and radiation imaging scans which I can do right here with portable equipment, of course. The two are used together to create a comprehensive image of the cancer spread, whereas the blood test to evaluate your body's changes under the influence of the cancer, and its response to the growth of the cancer.

“At any rate, once I know the severity and type of the cancer I'll need to perform a biopsy, Your Excellency, to obtain samples of it. Our normal method of treatment is to tailor a virus to the cancer cells which infects them and in doing so convinces your body's own immune system to attack and destroy the cancer cells. As a supporting treatment, we inject small radioactive pellets into large cancerous tumors and then use chemicals in your body which only activate in the presence of a source of radiation, minimizing the negative side effects while simultaneously attacking the cancer with chemicals and radiation.” She was, very professionally, already setting up her equipment.

Dr. Cottle was listening in admiration to the vibrant and young Taloran doctor's enthusiastic descriptions of the process. She certainly had the situation well in hand, and the technology made him blatantly envious. There were many, many patients he could have saved with such treatments in the past.

“You know,” Ghimalia commented as she swapped down the veins on Roslyn's left arm in preparation for the blood sample, “I do find it amazing that the Cylons have such proficient medical technology compared to your own when they have only been independent for the span of a few decades. Their humanforms do not suffer from any sort of diseases as this thanks to the quick action of what I think are nanites, though I haven't been able to sample them reliably yet, and for those diseases which can't be cured by such technology, they've largely gene-engineered them out of existence. It doesn't seem much related to your technology base at all.”

“They used human experimentation, by some accounts, long before their present round of horrors,” Roslyn replied very quietly. “You've been studying them, at least, I take it?”

“Oh, of course. I... Well.”

“Doctor?” Laura frowned.

“Surely, but, did your personnel have to gang-rape Gina like they did? That was really quite uncivilized.” Ghimalia simply couldn't help the blunt question on behalf of Gina by that point.

Laura froze for a moment, and even ignored the pinprick as the blood was drawn. “They're not people, Doctor. But. You're right; even then it was an unacceptable act, and Commander Adama had informed me of it. Now that the situation has calmed down I intend to take it up with Admiral Cain. I admit I don't seem to see it in the same light...” But you do, and that's important right now.

“They are people, Your Excellency, with respect,” Ghimalia said as she slipped the vials into storage and then made the final adjustments to the scanning device. “Doctor Cottle, I'd suggest you take this opportunity to leave,” she noted, and waited for him to go before continuing. “At any rate, Your Excellency, they are close enough to humans to reproduce with at least limited success, which means they more or less are humans, or within a very close range of it. And they are certainly fully sapient, with largely biological brains which have only been heavily augmented. You cannot call them mere machines, the bio-forms. They are, in conclusion, assuredly living people, even if they are clones.”

“A bit biased, Doctor?” Roslyn answered, noting the inevitable as she looked very pointedly toward the glowing red eyes of the woman who was going to try and save her life. “You're a cyborg yourself, after all. Haven't you considered that might be clouding your judgement?”

Ghimalia frowned visibly. “No, Your Excellency. I'm just a scientist, applying a scientific perspective to this. My own cybernetic implants really are utterly incidental. I don't regard myself as different from a normal Taloran because of them, nor would any other Taloran.”

“Science isn't everything in the universe, Doctor, and you should be careful about letting it rule your thought process completely.”

“As you say, Your Excellency,” Ghimalia answered uncomfortably. “Though for us, the spiritual world of religion and science are naturally complimentary, and religious explanations do not intrude upon scientific understanding. I don't really think your religion says that Cylons are inhuman, and the genetic testing is very clear, while they meet every established neurological test of sentience that I can administer...”

“Please, Doctor, let's just talk about Earth.”

“Of course, Your Excellency,” Ghimalia answered very quietly and after a long pause, acquiescing to the change of subject as she began her scans of the President's body. She had the same duty to all of her patients, after all. But her usual animated talk of London was somewhat dampened by her thoughts of Gina, and her awareness that most of the humans here certainly mistrusted her simply because of her own need for cybernetic enhancements, and their unquestionable usefulness which had led to more. I hope I can find somewhere safe for you, Gina, she mused as she continued to work, disturbed by the awareness that her eyes of light and metal made her more alien to these people than her genes.

HSMS Orelyost.

“Captain Lady Fraslia the Baroness of Istarlan,” Tisara of Urami mused allowing, staring, unblinking, at the rigid posture of the gray-skinned Captain before her, only the very day after Dr. Ghimalia's evaluation of President Roslyn. “You successfully initiated first contact with the Colonials and maintained a peaceful situation, while taking reasonable and prudent measures to secure the survival of the civilian refugees. Since then you've handled your ship in action very well, despite participation in a series of actions in which she suffered progressive serious damage, which at present is sufficient, despite the able repairs of your crew, to necessitate her indefinite repair. Commander Dhamis of Rasamblid is due for promotion, is she not?”

“That's correct, Your Serene Grace,” Fraslia replied with stiffness, not relishing, at all, being called before the sadistic pervert.

“Well, then, guiding the Jhammind back to Earth Drydock and overseeing the repairs there will be a suitable duty for a Commander in prelude for promotion to command of a cruiser. So, she will receive that assignment, and I am reassigning you. You can take an officer with you as your Chief of Staff from the Jhammind, of your choosing.”

“Chief of Staff?” Fraslia at last professed some surprise.

“I'm Breveting you to Vice Commodore. We lost heavily in our Destroyer Leaders for some very unfortunate reason and I managed to wrangle out a replacement from the internal Sector that sent the escorts for the Countess Palatine Fulanaj, who should be arriving tomorrow, in addition to a fresh Destroyer Squadron. You'll take that replacement ship, the Trivandhai, and assume command from her of the 149th Destroyer Squadron until a regular Vice Commodore can be assigned to replace you. At that point I will be recommending you for List status, on half-pay with a commendation in favour of assignment as Commanding Officer of a Battlecruiser the moment such a slot is available.”

“Well, Thank you, Your Serene Grace,” Fraslia answered, flustered to be complimented and promoted by Terrible Tisara, of all people. “When shall I take command?”

“As soon as the Trivandhai arrives, Captain, you will shuttle over to her with your chief of staff and such servants as the two of you are assigned, and raise your broad pennant aboard her.” Tisara handed over a sealed copy of the orders, along with a second. “Deliver these to Commander Dhamis, if you would. They are her instructions for assuming command and taking the Jhammind back to Earth drydock.”

“Of course, Your Serene Grace,” Fraslia answered coolly. “With your permission, then?”

“Granted.” Tisara watched her go, and waited a moment before buzzing Ysalha into her office, who had already been waiting outside.

“She's rather attractive for a grayskin, isn't she?”

“Oh, Mistress, you shouldn't talk about her so, she is nobility,” Ysalha answered, “and such terms are impolite after all.”

“Ahhhh, I suppose you're right enough there,” Tisara answered after a moment. “But the intention of the compliment still stands.”

“Oh, she is very pretty,” Ysalha agreed sincerely. “At any rate, Mistress, Admiral Cain has responded to our communique. She wants to know if we'd receive her on the Orelyost for a meeting about the information we have...?”

“I was hoping for that, dear. Order the dining staff to prepare for a banquet. Who is she bringing?”

“Just one staff officer, a Major Kendra Shaw,” Ysalha replied, a bit dubious-sounding at the strange mishmash of ranks in the Colonial military, as they all were. “I got the implication from the talk that they're.. A bit more than that.”

“Well, I don't think Admiral Cain's taste, however good it is, could match mine in you.”

“Thank you,” Ysalha flushed slightly. “Shall I return her message, then, and confirm the conference over dinner?”

“Yes. I want to give Cain a fair chance, after all. When those cruisers bring back the refugees otherwise...”

“Quite. It was.. Well, I can't begin to say.” Ysalha's ears showed her consternation. “Why are we helping Admiral Cain, considering what she did?”

“Oh, not really helping her. She is barbarous, little doubt of that. Just.. Giving her a fair chance,” Tisara replied. “It is not like the government of the Colonies has endeared itself to me, and I know what I would do in her situation.”

“Very well, Mistress.”

Four hours later, Admiral Cain arrived aboard the Orelyost with a very interesting, grim figure, dark of skin in the ways that humans were but Talorans could not be (Fraslia's light gray the only real equivalent, the pasty- rather than translucent—which was normal—white with gray/green overtones of the Dalamarians the second). Both Ysalha and Tisara stood while they entered.

“Your Serene Grace, I'd like to introduce you to Major Kendra Shaw,” Cain announced.. And where words would be awkward or insufficient, simply leaned in and kissed her lightly.

“Major,” Tisara allowed a closed-lip smile, polite to a Taloran. “This is Captain Ysalha Armenbhat, the Baroness of Titangirt,” she gestured to her lover, and then graciouslytoward the chairs. “Please, both of you, do sit.”

After they had all seated, servants brought in dinner, which Tisara and Ysalha naturally began to eat in the Taloran fashion. Their silence rather unnerved the humans, though, and in the end Admiral Cain broke the silence herself. “How long have you to been together? And why the silence?” She was as blunt as ever.

“It's customary not to discuss serious things until dessert,” Tisara replied, somewhat surprised at the difference. The question asked, though, was not really a problem. “Oh, about a hundred and fourty of your Caprican years. There's been several gaps in that where we weren't living with each other, but, the affection has always been there.”

“It's going to take me some time to get used to your lifespans,” Cain muttered softly.

“Understandably. What about yourself and Major Shaw?”

“About six months,” Cain replied with flat honesty. “She was there for me when I needed her,” she added, and declined to elaborate.

They finished the rest of the meal in a rather uncomfortable silence. Though the necessary digestive supplements had been incorporated by Tisara's cooking staff, the food was unfamiliar, and rather rich by the standards of the Pegasus over more than the past year, or even the peacetime Colonial military, where the accomodations were not nearly so lavish for Admirals.

It was finally Ysalha who broke that uncomfortable silence, feeling it necessary to give Admiral Cain the unpleasant news herself, so as to avoid troubling her mistress with it. “Admiral, ships of Taskforce 889 have recovered the twelve surviving civilian craft of that group you encountered, along with some others unrelated to it. They tell us a very interesting story which we have withheld, for the moment, of reporting to anyone else, about how your crews boarded them, forcibly press-ganged members of their crews, and shot the families of those who resisted.”

Kendra and Cain were very, very silent. Cain had not seriously expected any of them to survive; she had overestimated the intensity with which the Cylons were pursuing survivors. They were toying with us, more than anything else, all along... “Go on,” she said through gritted teeth, relieved, at least, that the two were assiduously polite despite it. “I expect that my fellow officers would see reason, but the President is not... Should not, be President.”

“Quite,” Tisara agreed after a moment, and continued herself. “More fortuitously, we believe we've located another Colonial warship.” This time, she had their full attention as she activated what had looked like a sculpture in the middle of the table but was actually a holographic projector. It showed footage of a very familiar vessel design. It was in horrible condition, scarcely seeming to be in one piece, and the engines were dead and quiet, though from the conditions of the recording it was clear that the velocity was incredible. One lone turret beat a silent drumbeat of heavy fire toward the monitor, and then the recording ended.

“You see, Admiral Cain, it was quite certainly a colonial ship. But they had no means of knowing who we were, and naturally fired on the cruiser which made this recording. They're currently at a high c-fractional speed about a quarter of one of our lightyears from one of your minor mining systems. I was going to contact you anyway to arrange one of your ships to go and effect a rescue, in the company of some of our vessels, as we have tractor beams which can slow a ship that I suspect is completely out of fuel and went to a full sublight burn for sake of simple survival.”

“Didn't have a name?”

“The area you normally have name plates for has been completely destroyed in this vessel,” Ysalha explained, bringing the recording back up and re-highlighting a particular section.

“So what does this have to do with the other recoveries.” For all a third surviving ship was wonderful news in the fleet, the information she did not want reaching Laura Roslyn was a bigger concern for the moment.

“I've been given the impression,” Tisara began in a very sly voice, “That Vice President Gaius Baltar is an easily sidelined, weak-willed intellectual. As you have certainly heard by this point, in three days, President Roslyn will be transferred to the Jhammind, where the human specialist Doctor Ghimalia resides, to oversee her treatment. At that point, Baltar will be acting President. Now, I know that your Commander Adama is a major supporter of the President...”

“I'll send the Galactica to do the recovery operation,” Admiral Cain finished with a wicked smile on her face, seeing the chance that had been immediately offered to her.

“Why, of course. As for my part, I'll send the 149th Destroyer Squadron to provide escort for the repair ship Trilankha, and the expeditionary cruiser Salammbha to do the tractor-assisted deacceleration. It'll be a somewhat risky operation, that close to the centres of Cylon power, but that means that, under stealth, it will simply take perhaps, oh, a fortnight to complete the deacceleration, and however much longer to slow the ship down, or refuel it if possible.”

“Thank you, Your Serene Grace. I am going to remember this for a long time,” Cain grinned.

“I recommend one thing before proceeding, however,” Tisara continued, never actually, for reasons of deniability, saying precisely what she was referring to. Anyway, everyone in the room already knew. “You should talk to the Countess Palatine of Fulanaj when she arrives before.. Acting. From all I know of her reputation, she will be favourably disposed.”

“Thank you for the advice. We'll get on it the moment we return to the Pegasus.”

“God bless your endeavour, Admiral.”

HSMS Jhammind.

“Captain,” Commander Dhamis of Rasamblid's voice chimed from the bridge, alerting her at once, as Iraenia finished packing, to what had taken place. “If I'm not disturbing you..”

“You're not, so, what is it Commander?” Fraslia answered, packing away her carved pictogram rocks herself.

“The Battlecruiser Kalammi with escorts has arrived carrying the Countess Palatine Fulanaj.”

“Very well, Commander. Open your sealed orders. I will be on the bridge to handle my part in their instructions,” which they both knew already, “and hand the ship over to your competence.”

“Of course, Captain. And congratulations on your promotion.”

“Thank you, Rasamblid Heir,” Fraslia replied a bit wryly, and went to cut the connection..

“I'll miss the Jhammind, Your Ladyship,” Iraenia commented, thinking the conversation over. But then Dhamis' voice returned.

“Captain, another thing. We've just received some orders from the Orelyost electronically. For you, not the ship.”

“Transfer them through, Commander. Oh, and, are preparations ready to receive the security force for President Roslyn, as well as the medical party accompanying her, Rasamblid Heir?”

“Yes, Captain. We won't have a problem with it when you're gone, I promise,” Dhamis laughed softly.

Fraslia smiled fondly. “It has been good serving with you, commander. I'll see you in a few hours.” At that, she switched the view to text mode, selected the fresh orders file, and watched as the text came up, a directive ordering her to take command of a force consisting of the expeditionary cruiser Salammbha, the repair ship Trilankha, and 'to coordinate with Galactica as commander of the 149th Destroyer Squadron on a recovery operation to be detailed by Commander Adama, Colonial Service.' “Interesting.... Tisara has a great deal of confidence in me,” she remarked out loud, and added, wryly: “Or else precious little at all...” But at least I shall get to work with Commander Adama again, while we leave the diplomats to handle affairs back here.

It was a sentiment fairly felt throughout the fleet, whose spirits were equally improved by the appearance of the name-ship of the largest, newest Battlecruiser class in the fleet and eighteen fresh escorts to bolster the losses of TF-889. But the truth of the matter was that the Countess Palatine of Fulanaj was not terribly diplomatic at all, and this Tisara had, from the days when the old Princess Imperial Sikala had kept her informed of the goings-on of the court, known very well indeed. She did not think by the advice she had given to Admiral Cain that she was risking the wrath of the government, as she had suffered from Sipamert.

Rather, she expected that she would make Fulanaj inordinately pleased, and so her hopes were not lost after all. Fraslia had no idea that her commanding officer had chosen her not because she was hated, or liked, but because she wanted the Taloran who had been the friendliest to Commander Adama out of the way, too, just to be on the safe side. Coups work best when they're made into a very predictable business. Tisara had innocently issued the repair orders to the Jhammind in full knowledge that President Roslyn would be aboard. With the informal process by which the retention of the ship in the area for the President's treatment had been requested, there was no record of that request having been made. It was a perfectly innocent mistake.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-01-05 01:46am

Chapter Eighteen.

Rag-tag fleet,
On the Colonial One.

The Countess Palatine Aristasijh of Fulanaj was a six foot, two inch tall Dalamarian woman, pasty white skin with blonde hair that was by Taloran standards rather short, lapping down just a few inches below her waist. Green lips were pursed into a smile that showed intense dimples, accentuated by very high and prominent cheekbones, and clear blue eyes made her look deceptively human with a gently rounded and modest chin. She bowed graciously to Roslyn, who was well enough on the drugs that Dr. Ghimalia had provided to make a more dignified meeting of it, though she hadn't even started full treatment yet. The results were still being analyzed.

Her reputation as an iron diplomat was somewhat overrated. In person, particularly to the ruler of a sovereign state, she was quite friendly.

“Well, it appears that we've received the first ambassador in the history of our nation, Countess,” Roslyn answered after a sigh which rather seemed to be relief. “It is, frankly, quite pleasant to finally be speaking to the civilian government of the Taloran Empire rather than your military personnel, I must admit.”

“I apologize about your having to deal with the Archduchess Tisara of Urami, Your Excellency,” Aristasijh answered primly. “Unfortunately, we had no idea that any sentient life existed beyond the limits of explored space here, so we assigned her to this position as exile in the expectation that there were no first contacts for her to potentially interfere with. She is not suited to them.”

“I won't say that her effort was anything other than in good faith,” Roslyn answered. “But it lacked considerably in subtlety, and the Council did not approve of it. Have you been made aware of what she proposed?”

“I am,” Aristasijh flicked her ears back. “Those terms are not relevant to my government's interests in these matters. We much intend to recognize your control of the Twelve Colonies, Kobol, and even a number of surrounding planets.”

Archaic Taloran phrasing sometimes frustrated Roslyn, but here the meaning was very clear, and very welcome. They finally had what they wanted from the Talorans. And with that simple admission now it was time to go forward.

“Thank you, Countess, for giving us the simple recognition that we want. We're very eagerly looking to work with your people under such terms to regain our homeworlds.”

“We do have terms under which we'd undertake such an operation,” Aristasijh replied. “We expect that the direction of your government will fall under guidance of the Taloran Empire, and your military operations would be conducted jointly with our's, under our direction as well.”

“The direction of our government?” Roslyn's pleasure at the exchange abruptly collapsed. “Are you expecting us to join the Empire?” The words came out very tepid, and that was not unwanted.

“No. As a matter of fact, we'd have no interest in that. The Empire is a monotheistic organization, and I am to understand that your religion has twelve deities. That is unacceptable in the Empire.” Before Roslyn could be relieved, her blunt recitation of facts annihilated that brief hope. “Rather we are expecting you to name Her Serene Majesty the Empress as the Protector of your Republic, vested in her person, rather than in the structure of the Empire. We are looking to establish a joint military command, establish treaties of free trade and integrated commerce, and to assume the direction of your foreign policy. You would be granted absolute autonomy in all other affairs, and the arrangement will be governed by treaty, not by tribute. These are the terms by which Her Serene Majesty's government will undertake your war on your behalf.”

“They're completely unacceptable,” Roslyn answered without a moment's hesitation. “We will not even entertain negotiations on such terms. You have managed to go from the terms of the Archduchess Tisara, who at least tried to provide a scheme agreeable to our people, to one that is completely unacceptable, and indeed offensive to our prior friendly relations.”

Aristasijh didn't even blink. As a matter of fact, like most Taloran nobles, she never blinked at all during the conversation. “Your Excellency,” she answered in an almost.. Amused.. Tone. “You have less than sixty thousand people in your entire nation, which consists of a few dozen civilian vessels and two heavy combatants. Her Serene Majesty's Starfleet has three thousand such heavy combatants, and the crew of one of those eight dreadnoughts out there, with its onboard troop capacity, amounts to the same population as your entire nation; two battlecruisers exceed it. Do you fully comprehend that you in our eyes have the firepower of a single dreadnought and a single carrier, escorting a refugee fleet that we could fit into a single arcology in one of our cities?

“Talora Prime has a population larger than your entire nation before the Cylon attack, and that is only on the surface, with again that amount in orbit. Our Empire has seventy thousand regularly inhabited planets and claims fifteen thousand more. We have as many armed starships as we do planets in the Imperial Starfleet alone, and our population, between the Empire and the Jikari Autonomous Republic, numbers well in excess of twenty-one trillions. To ask for an equal relationship with the Empire is ludicrous. We have already helped you, when as a sovereign state we would have no reason, nor obligation, to provide you with help whatsoever. If you want that help to continue in such a military fashion as you expect it to, you will do so by coming to an arrangement which guarantees the security of the Empire in the Oralnif Spinward region.”

“You will not threaten us! We're a sovereign, free state, and that is our justification, Madame, no other. I'm not going to lead our people into slavery before a foreign monarch after all they've already been through. We won't bow simply to the scale of your state, or acknowledge your rights because you declare yourselves the stronger. I'd think your entire species a threat if I hadn't seen the eminently humanitarian and downright compassionate behaviour of your officers, and it's both contemptible and ironic that your military personnel have proved more willing to respect us than you, a diplomat trained to bring about peace.”

“Trained to represent the interests of the Empire, not, I fear, of chivalry,” Aristasijh answered with a trace of bite.

“And how does your Empire presume to be unchivalrous?”

“The Empire protects is own, Your Excellency.”

“And what of those in Cylon torture camps...” Laura seemed to spit it out, however metaphorically. “They're not in your interest?”

“I, of course, will contact the Cylons, and warn them sternly that they will face nothing from us except hostility without an immediate withdraw from your worlds and release of all of your civilians, as we will never recognize the conquests of genocidaires. That is certainly an Imperial policy. If they attack our borders, even in consideration of the.. Provocative acts of the local commanders... We will, of course, consider the situation to be one of a state of war, and act appropriately.”

“You want to negotiate with them?” At that point Laura very nearly lost it. But she reminded herself that the threats had not been without substance. “Ambassador, they will not negotiate with non-artificial lifeforms. I have little doubt of that. And for all your toleration of cybernetics, I doubt they see you that way. Particularly after you have attacked them.”

“We will just be negotiating from a position of strength,” Aristasijh replied coolly. “They will withdraw from your worlds, and we would recognize their independence and establish regular relations with them.”

“And they won't agree,” Roslyn replied simply. “Or if they do, they will simply bide their time and then attack you, using the same methods that brought us low. Your cities will burn just like our's did, Ambassador.”

Aristasijh snorted softly, her ears flattening back. “This is a minor colonial conflict, Your Excellency. You've seen our dreadnoughts. There are more than a thousand more like those eight in the whole of the Empire, and that is just the active-duty forces; there's almost two hundred more in reserve. And for every such ship, we have innumerable lighter vessels. You haven't even seen our fleet carriers yet. All your own reports admit that the only reason the Cylon nation adopted such surprise tactics, and indeed they were a base treachery, was on account of their inferiority in firepower. You had one hundred and twenty capital ships, and less than a thousand armed light ships of all types down to the smallest simple patrol and communications craft. Even with your surface defences, we really doubt the Cylons have more baseships than a few hundred, of which they have lost more than fifty, and we, have not lost a single capital ship.

“In orbit around Talora Prime alone there are more warships than both your nations combined have ever owned. If they come on and attack us as they did you, they will simply pay for it. No, Your Excellency, we have nothing to worry about on that regard. And neither do you. Seventy thousand inhabited systems pay homage to the Empress in Valeria, and there are seven armed ships in the Empire for every planet. I do not expect you to be moved by those words, or by the idea of more than twenty trillions of individuals in our nation. It is clear that you have your ideals, and they are contrary to those of the Empire. Very well. The offer is for the moment with-held. But you will not, Your Excellency, interfere under any circumstance with the interests of the Empire toward a peaceful accommodation with the Cylons. It is up to them if they obey that, or break it, and if they break it, then one hundred and twelve of the wall can demolish their fleet in five minutes of firing.”

“You'll be surprised at the tenacity of the Cylons.. Of their thirst for destruction,” Roslyn answered quietly. “Do you really want us integrated into the Empire?”

“Yes, Your Excellency, within the limitation that you will never be part of the Imperial structure, but rather in a personal relationship with the Dynasty. And in such a case, those same one hundred and twelve of the wall could be here on a moment's notice if you agreed. In a month, at any rate, and the campaign would follow shortly enough after that.”

“Then you want us in the Empire for something. What, Ambassador? What is important enough to you that it makes it worthwhile for this band of refugees to lose its independence? Perhaps it is the situation of the rest of humanity....” She glanced over to the silent Billy. “Bring Zarek in.”

“Of course, Madame President,” he answered, stepping over to a door in the room from whence, Aristasijh realized with a moment's irritation, the councilor had been listening in on the conversation.

“This is Councilor Tom Zarek,” Roslyn explained. “I had him listen in to these negotiations, which I hoped would be positive, to assuage council mistrust that I was giving anything away to you. As it turns out he has instead been witness to a petty attempt to intimidate us into submission.”

“Trying to threaten the President? All for the insatiable aim of preventing free humanity, lest our independence inspire those ground under your boot-heel to rise up again and fight? Or are you just so insatiable for conquest that fifty thousand people are worth the time of four hundred warships if they don't dare kow-tow to the pompous and thin-blooded Autocrat that you serve?” Zarek word's cut, but the response was surprisingly neutral.

“Why do you think that we oppress humanity?” It was very polite, and nothing was said about the frightful charge of lese majestie.

“Our own people, even now, are willing to sell out the little man for profit. You have all of those planets, all of that wealth, and you've been sitting on it for longer than any human can live. I have no doubt that among you there's plenty of decent people—all ground down to the bottom of the system just like most are here! But at least in a democratic government there is some hope, if in practice in the colonies it never worked right.”

“What rights do you consider important?”

“For starters, the free ability to unionize at any job....”

“Which is of course a fundamental part of the economy of the Empire,” Aristasijh answered. Zarek's statement had led directly into a speech she herself had been preparing for the Council based on Tisara's reports. She realized at once that now was the perfect time for it, instead, and as it was her tendency to provide an actual speech impromptu with only general details and facts prepared in advance, she began at once without further prompting, in an impressive feat from a skilled orator.

Zarek paused. Roslyn blinked. Billy looked on now in intent interest.

And the Countess Palatine of Fulanaj showed her wits. “Perhaps you also want this right extended to trade specialists? Done; Guilds exist. Now, to give them actual political power? Done. Unions and Guilds have representation both at the level of the Imperial States and of the Imperial Deputies themselves. Their membership elects their representatives. Co-operative owned farming equipment and common land for farmers to share to balance out their production? Commonplace; the first for freeholders and both for tenant farmers. Private companies and traded corporations pay on average twice the tax rate of individuals, but co-operative organizations are exempt, allowing seven of the ten largest firms in the Empire to be entirely worker-owned and operated. The workers send their children to co-operative schools through college in some cases, they go on to jobs in the co-operative industries. The goods are delivered by a truck co-operative aligned with them in exchange for reduced cost of goods and services in the co-operative owned stores, which are provided with those goods by the co-operative managed factories.

“The organization of the Empire is explicitly anti-capitalist and the Imperial economy is based around principles of Distributivism, formulated in human terms by the Terran philosophers G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc—whose works I can easily arrange to have provided to you—approximately six hundred and fifty Terran years ago, or, if you prefer a word of more meaning, Syndicalism. The Syndics or Unions form the basis of organized labour work; distributivism forms the basis of the organization of the economic capital. Co-operative farming is based around individual plot management with co-operative operation of machinery and, for tenants, shared land which diversifies their production in area to reduce the likelihood of a completely failed crop, and provide a village reserve. In all cases healthcare is entirely provided by the Farzian Temple Orders, and education largely so, and the most successful children of even the meanest peasant may enter the Farzian church for considerable success in life, or if their capabilities are sufficient, go on into the educated class or military officer ranks, the later conferring status in the gentry by definition for them and their children. And if they need financial assistance, the Farzian Orders will provide them with interest-free loans.

“Save for the enforcement of religious confession and system of support, which is against our interests for the sake of other monotheists, all of these services are provided to humans as well, and the great faiths of the Terrans duplicate them, or their governments. They are free to move within the Empire as they please, and though the economy of their homeworld remains mostly capitalistic, the right to form such co-operative organizations is vigorously upheld under the broad standards of Imperial law, and the revived legal traditions after our intervention, which saved the lives of several billion humans in the breakaway orbital colony republic of Orientale. No, Your Excellency, Councilor, the Empire is not oppressive. We constantly and consistently uphold the principle natural Right as being ineluctable but nonetheless absolute. Our government does not presume a right to interfere in the lives of its people in ways both unnecessary and tyrannical in their innovation of form and function. We simply give where the giving is necessary, and support those who need to be supported, both State and Church alike. If there is some waste, well, we do not believe that government, nor the economy, nor society, should be based on efficiency. We reject such arguments entirely. Our state, our economy, and are society, are organized on the understanding that the fundamental nature of sentient beings is endowed by God, and that the foundation of the Imperial State is based on the Principle of the Divine Order of the Cosmos under the Supreme Majesty of the One God, Farzbardor, the Lord of Justice, who bodily ascended without dying the foundress of the Dynasty, called Valera, into the Hosts of Righteousness as the Sword of God, and on that justification, legitimized the rule of the direct female-line descendants of Her body until Judgement Day.

Aristasijh paused for a moment, stately, commanding, her voice not threatening but proud and lilting, delivering the speech as though she could envision the divine order of the Cosmos spread out before her, the legions of Farzbardor spreading with it and subduing the chaos of the Adversary, of Idenicamos, scattering deception to the winds with a righteous reign of Truth and Justice. And she smiled very vaguely, and dipped her ears politely. “And that is why we don't want you in the Empire, Your Excellency, Councilor.”

“But...” And then Roslyn frowned faintly. “Religion.”

“Correct. Most humans are monotheists. We regard polytheism as an inherent and fundamental part of the deceptive powers of Idenicamos, the creator of evil and chaos in the universe, the Master of Deception, who confuses people into worshipping his demons. Socially, morally, ethically, religiously, we have not the slightest desire to bend our social order for the sake of integrating your's, you understand, Your Excellency? Our religious are fundamentally incompatible, and so I can assure you that you will never be part of the Empire. All we desire is for your Colonial government to link your foreign policy and defensive arrangements to that of the Empress by ceding a few sovereign rights in a treaty guaranteeing absolute internal autonomy. In exchange for that the Imperial Starfleet would be put to your disposal.”

“You never answered my original question,” Roslyn replied simply. “For all that this diversion about your religion and social order has been.. Interesting.” The word masked a far more bleak assessment.

“We have our reasons, Your Excellency. Primarily, though, they stem from the simple desire that the Oralnif Spinward was a useless backwater before, and we do not want it becoming otherwise. We intend to return it to that status as quickly as possible.” She flicked her ears. “Surely, Your Excellency, we would not have assigned someone who is reviled as much as Tisara of Urami to this sector as anything other than punishment, and because we fancied she would never encounter anyone here. A new military frontier? This far out? Unthinkable, Your Excellency. That is what we are trying to avert. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.”

“I still don't understand why every other Taloran I've met seems to hate the Archduchess as a matter of course,” Roslyn replied, moving the conversation away herself for a moment to process what it meant.

“She is a sexual deviate,” Aristasijh answered simply. “And as you know that homosexuality is sanctioned and acceptable to our religion, I will suffice to say that her relationship with the Baroness Titangirt is of a deeper and more perverse nature than she shows in public. The details became public about thirty-five Taloran years ago, and they have been shoved from assignment to assignment on the Rim since.”

“Your people may talk a lot about freedom, but you sure are interested in what happens in someone else's bedroom,” Zarek observed, feeling a vague pang of sympathy all of a sudden for the woman he had so sharply assaulted, both unwanted and unexpected, and then giving an inner shrug as he thought to himself, she's just paying for all the excesses of her class in a way that happens to condemn them all the more.

“Actually, it was published by Ysalha's older sister. She was exiled, also,” Aristasijh added. “We dislike it immensely when such matters are brought to public attention, as a matter of fact.”

“Well, back to the subject at hand. What will you do with us then, Ambassador? Because at this time we certainly will not accept any arrangement of Imperial protection, even if it is outside the structure of the Empire,” Roslyn laid it out coolly, the final statement for the matter, while Zarek folded his arms sternly to reinforce that at least on this matter he stood with the President.

“We will give your fleet passage through our space to such distant sectors as will prevent a Cylon pursuit, and allow you to settle some unclaimed planet in those reaches as you may see fit,” Aristasijh answered. “That is the only other option. Though of course if you consent, we will provide for such of your people as who wish to leave to head to Earth where they may be given hearings by the local governments for citizenship, and if any are rejected, we will bring them to your new territory, at our expense. Until you have decided whether or not to take up this lesser offer, we will defend you at the Oralnif Spinward's fleetbase headquarters over Oralnif, and make sure that no further Cylon attacks against your people take place. If we can secure the release of your civilians, then we will also pay for their safe transport to such a world as you can establish for yourselves in a distant reach of space.”

Roslyn sighed. That was scarcely the Earth they had all dreamt of, but under the circumstances... “I was going to report to your cruiser, the Jhammind, later today for treatment. Further negotiations will be in the hands of the Council and the Vice President. But that offer, at least, we cannot categorically reject, though it is a far step down from what Tisara offered. At any rate, due to the assurances about me during treatment still hold?”

“I am afraid that she overstepped her bounds...” Aristasijh's ears dipped forward. “Oh, surely Your Excellency, we would mean no ill intent against you. Your treatment will go forward with all the safeguards, and any others I can arrangement, and if you must be taken to Earth for further treatment then we will arrange for your return to the fleet on the fastest courier available the moment it is safe for you to travel. We are, in all respects, at least a civilized people.”

“We're civilized peoples.. Who seem to have lost more common ground today than gained it. But I don't doubt that about the Talorans I've met, at least,” Roslyn answered, save perhaps Aristasijh herself. She was more apt by this point to believe it about Tisara than the stern diplomat. “You have, at least, forthrightly communicated the beliefs and intents of your government, and established, I suppose, the grounds for further negotiation. I believe, however, nothing more substantial can come from this meeting.”

“Oh, I quite understand, Your Excellency,” Aristasijh answered, before glancing to Zarek. “For the record, Councilor, if your interest is in social justice, I support you wholeheartedly. A moral society is necessarily a Just one, and that includes in seeing to the needs of the lower classes.” Her mouth twisted to the vaguest of expressions of wry amusement. “It is a.. Noble.. Sentiment.” Glancing back to Roslyn: “At any rate, Your Excellency, I wish your health the speediest recovery possible.” She turned to go. “Good day, Your Excellency, Councilor.” If not her, than perhaps another...

HSMS Trivandhai, DL-1187.

“This is my Flag Lieutenant, Chylisi,” Fraslia introduced the orange-haired girl to the officers of the Trivandhai in conclusion. “At any rate, Captain Rikhond, you've received the orders?”

“That's right, Your Ladyship,” Jhalam Rikhond, the common-born Captain of the Trivandhai answered crisply. His executive officer, a Lieutenant Uralstia, was to his right, and his department heads had been clustered around the table for the initial briefing. The Captain himself was somewhat tall by male standards, of fine bearing and excellent green hair.

Don't look at the boys to long, Fraslia thought to herself. Such things were always bad, though between a flag captain and his temporary commander.. Less so. Restraint recommended itself, even if he was now part of the gentry by dint of his rank. But Fraslia had long been without any marriage prospects, and by random luck of the draw she had ended up with a predominantly female officer compliment on the poor Jhammind.

“Thinking of your old ship, Your Ladyship?” Jhalam solicitously asked.

“Yes,” Fraslia answered after a moment. “She was very heavily damaged, though I trust Dhamis to return her safely to Terra for refit. Especially considering the rather important cargo aboard, the Colonial President.” She glanced at the chrono on the wall of the meeting room. “Hmm. And it appears that they would have just jumped out, too. It's a pity Her Excellency had to leave for treatment. Will likely delay the negotiations, and I understand from Lieutenant Chylisi that her second is, though kind, not particularly professional. Ah, well.”

“Not our place, Your Ladyship?”

“Now, anyway. It was interesting to negotiate directly with a head of state for a while. Not a bad thing to have on one's record. At any rate..” She stood, hands placed flat on the table, and looked down at all of them, from Jhalam to Chylisi.

“So you're all aware of our mission. Our DESRON has been operationally tasked with guarding a repair ship and supporting the Galactica as she makes contact with a heavily damaged Colonial warship moving at extreme-c velocities, what is, based on our scouting, more or less certainly the last survivor of their military force. We know nothing about her other than that she has enough personnel left to fire a single heavy cannon, and they certainly don't understand that we're friendly. So it will be Commander Adama's job,” she specified him by name, just as well to get them used to the man they'd be working with for the next tenday or so, for they were all fresh from coreward to the situation at hand. “To more or less talk the crew down over there, by the presence of the Galactica, showing them that we're friendlies and that we can help them, deaccelerate them with the cruiser's help and get their drives back up and headed for civilized space.”

“Very straightforward. It's just us, Salammbha and the Galactica, though, Your Ladyship?” The Trivandhai's captain queried.

“Correct. If Cylons come in strength, we'll have to fight a delaying action long enough to evacuate the survivors and blow the ship before retreating.

“Well, that will be interesting. Your Ladyship, we're only ten minutes from our scheduled first jump, though..”

“Ah, yes. I have taken a bit of time with instructions and operational discussion. You're all dismissed. Lieutenant Chylisi?”

The orange-haired young female rose and followed the Baroness out as the meeting was dismissed, heading up to the already manned and quite expansive flag-bridge of the Destroyer Leader, a 2 megaton ship of a class which translated as the Fury-class into English, and commanding a squadron of sixteen 1-megatonne destroyers.

She settled into her command chair on the flagbridge, and immediately ordered a hailing signal sent to the Galactica. It was rewarded by a visual communication—the systems had been set up in the past days—directly from the bridge, and Fraslia was pleased to see her friend as hale as he had been before the Caprica and Picon battles and the long chase.

“Commander,” she offered, politely, not expecting deference from someone in a foreign navy.

“I heard about your promotion, Commodore. It's well deserved,” Adama offered with a bit of a gruff smile. “Nice that they have us working together again. Are your ships ready for the jump?”

“Ready. We have the coordinates for the first concentration point locked in,” Fraslia answered. “Sorry that our ships are only about half as fast as your's.”

“I've gotten used to it.. Commodore.”

Fraslia smiled, just to be distracted by her comms lieutenant on the flagbridge. “Your Ladyship, the Salammbha and Trilankha report ready.”

Acknowledging the message, she turned back to Adama. “Commander, if you'd take the honour of giving the signal?”

“Of course, Commodore. We'll see you on the other side momentarily. Adama, out.” With that, the visual disappeared, and the last two minutes ticked away until the squadron of twenty ships jumped away from the rest of the Colonial fleet and its Taloran escorts, in the opposite direct from the wounded Jhammind's return to Earth, an insensate President Laura Roslyn aboard in the midst of treatment from Dr. Ghimalia, not knowing that she had already been taken away from the fleet.

HSMS Kalammi,
Ventral Hangar No.1

Admiral Cain stepped out of the packed Raptor, giving Major Shaw a friendly pat on the shoulder before going out to meet the Countess Palatine Fulanaj by herself. The Taloran cruiser with President Roslyn aboard had just jumped out of system, and Adama had followed with the Galactica on the recovery operation that fortune and Admiral Tisara had arranged for Helena Cain's triumph, and survival.

“Admiral. You said you had extremely urgent business for me?” Aristasijh's expression was neutral, but she saw enough of the situation as it stood, the precise timing of Cain to arrive the moment after both Roslyn and Adama had left, the arrival on a military transport, and knew exactly what it meant. She was an old hand politically, and she knew that coups were assiduously planned to take place at moments just like this. Reason led her to believe that one was taking place.

“I do, Your Ladyship,” Admiral Cain answered. “It is come to my attention that the suicidal remnants of the Colonial government, attempting to preserve a system designed to maintain the lives of billions when we are dealing with fifty thousand survivors aboard a few dozen ships, has made a choice which could endanger the millions of lives remaining on our homeworlds, as Cylon prisoners or guerillas, out of certain specious notions of political ideology. Well, it's my job as an officer of my nation's military to save those lives,” she continued the carefully rehearsed speech, no small amount of which had been provided to her in a sealed communique, written by Ysalha Armenbhat at Tisara's behest. “And under those circumstances I am prepared to take the humanitarian course, though it necessarily means usurping the government which styles itself as remaining in power, a ludicrous proposition when it consists of a few survivors, on a few ships. What is needed is a military hand, Your Ladyship, and I am seeking your permission to institute it.”

“You want my authorization for a coup against your government?”

“Yes. I was advised to seek it.”

“You were advised correctly. Who told you?”

“The Archduchess Tisara of Urami.”

“Hmm.” Aristasijh smiled vaguely and flicked her ears. “She's extremely intelligent. Pity she's such a pervert. Well, she was right, Admiral. You know the terms. We'll give you the nearest habitable border worlds of the Oralnif, Kobol, the Twelve Colonies.. Everything that lies in between those worlds. Total autonomy as an independent country merely acknowledging the Sovereign Protectorship of the Empress with a treaty of locked military alliance and a token tribute. We will recognize you with the style of the Duchess of Kobol and put at your disposal three battle squadrons of the Imperial Starfleet for eliminating the Cylon threat and liberating your homeworlds. That is what I offered your President, and that is what she refused.” Aristasijh held up her hand. “Do not, however, answer me right now. Answer me when you control the government of your state. I assure you, however, that if you give me five minutes time, I will go to the bridge of the Kalammi and make sure that the rest of the fleet does not intervene in any fashion in what follows. If you can secure your power, through whatever methods you prefer, then you have done enough. We will immediately recognize you as the legitimate ruler of the Confederated Colonies of Kobol, and we can begin immediate negotiations to cement your place in the Empire and finalize the arrangements of your war-strategy.”

So just as I predicted, this is what it comes down to. Accepting temporary alien overlordship for the chance to unite humanity in resistance to them, while at the same time bleeding them to annihilate the Cylons. I could not have been more prescient, Cain mused. She offered Aristasijh a vague smile. “You will see if such a situation exists soon enough, Your Ladyship. I am going to the Colonial One right now to confer about an.. Urgent.. Situation with Acting President Gaius Baltar.”

“I understand,” Aristasijh answered with a trace of a cavalier's smirk. “All the luck to you, Admiral Cain, and God's blessing. Today, Order and Justice will triumph over the forces of chaos and sin. Now, I shall let you be about your business, and recommend that you hasten to your.. Conference. Good day, Admiral.” Good riddance, it's about time someone has stamped the boot down on this circus, the irritated diplomat thought. Dealing with the minor affairs of a dozen human worlds filled with polytheists at the very edge of known space was scarcely the sort of task she was used to being assigned, and it had grated on her, as it was more or less the simple job of integrating them into the Empire at the necessary cost and shoring up the frontier with a short, lightning war, and this could now, at last, be arranged, with no more haranguing demagogues or long lectures on government required.

“Good day, Your Ladyship.” Cain turned and headed straight back to the Raptor. Returning inside, she glanced around at the craft, absolutely jam-packed to the gills with the most loyal, handpicked Marines from the Pegasus who had been involved in the suppression of the fifteen ships they'd found, and who had every reason to act against the Colonial government with her. “It's a good. Ask the Kalammi for launch clearance.”

It took them only a moment to receive it, and they launched, while Aristasijh was issuing her instructions to Admirals Sipamert and Tisara to hold the fleet at position regardless of circumstances developing in the Colonial fleet via secured tight-beam laser communications. Sipamert frowned, and cast a glare to the holotank. Tisara, smirking, knew exactly what was going to happen. She ordered her Taskforce to begin conducting routine diagnostics, and went below decks to spend the next several hours out of sight, disinterested in the actual results of the coup, for she was now sure that it had been approved of, and celebrating at the minor victory with Ysalha, in their usual obscene ways.

Outside of the Kalammi, however, standing well off the Colonial fleet, Admiral Cain's Raptor made a rendezvous with another commanded by Lieutenant Thorne, assigned to dock with the Cloud Nine and arrest the Council, if the Coup was on. The Coup was on, and the necessary message was communicated by flash lamps between the two Raptors at very close range. They immediately split off, Thorne's heading on a circuitous route around the fleet to avoid attracting attention, while Admiral Cain's ducked past the Pegasus to make it look like it had just been launched, while a routine request to speak with 'Acting President Baltar' was made while the Raptor approached the Colonial One. Permission given, they proceeded in to dock while all aboard checked their weapons and armour and readied themselves for any resistance aboard.

“It's time to end this farce,” Cain muttered, and then glanced back to Shaw, smiled tightly, and kissed her. “Remember what I told you. Like a Razor. And now we cut off the most extraneous thing left to our people, and become better for it.”

“Like a Razor,” Shaw grinned tightly. Compared to the civilian ships they had commandeered before, for the rotten carcass of the Colonial government, she felt no sympathy at all. So much the better.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-01-21 02:06am

Chapter Ninenteen.
HSMS Orelyost

Tisara Urami sometimes got a bit more worked up than she should. The knowledge of Cain's coup beginning confirmed her good mood, for starters. Succeed or not, that she had correctly interpreted the government's will was the important thing. Her standing with the Countess Palatine of Fulanaj could only increase because of it. If the coup actually succeeded, well, then Admiral Cain would owe her: Owe Tisara her earthly position, and her very life (for Tisara knew, at least, what the Taloran admiralty would do with someone who had done the things Cain had done).

A person so thoroughly in her debt, a person ruling a protectorate of the Empire, would be the means of finally guaranteeing her and Ysalha a home. That was a thing, the idea of a hearth, a place to return to, a place that was their's, that they had lacked for almost fourty long Taloran years of internal exile, bouncing from ship to ship, station to station, with no place to think of, no place to repose, no soil to feel under the feet as their's, and no chance of it at all in the future. The respect gained and the debt that Cain would owe her finally offered the prospect of her gaining all that she was left wanting for her life: A manse to settle in, with a fireplace to sit by, book in hand, fritaj-liqueur poured out, faithful servants, and most of all, Ysalha curled 'round her feet in perfection happiness and submission. All other ambitions that her intellect informed her were practicable, she had already achieved. Her nature had place all others out of reach. But this, this she could still have.

So she celebrated the small but hopeful improvement in her fortunes in a way not abnormal for her, with joyous and intense lusts and passions, by inflicting herself on her lover in those ways which pleased them both. Or, more bluntly, she whipped Ysalha's back to shreds, cut through her face with razors, drove pins through her nipples with needles and burnt her arms with a hot iron. All while they had sex, Ysalha deliriously pleasuring her even as Tisara wrought such savage tortures on her, moaning and gasping in pleasure as her tongue was well-employed on her mistress. It was the best sex they'd had in quite some time, and they both savoured it thoroughly, Ysalha driven mad in pain and then brought to the heights of ecstasy with the slight caress to brutally tortured nerves, while Tisara's position of power and the psychosomatic pleasures of inflicting torture that the sadist enjoyed guaranteed their ecstasy was quite mutual.

The masochist and the sadist alike, in physical and psychological compulsions, could not get enough of their savage union. Every savage act of Tisara's served to heighten their mutual pleasure in fucking to impossible heights, and that was what counted. The screams were plentiful and unrestrained, but that was by now quite common on the Orelyost, and the suits nearby were long unoccupied. After all, better a smaller room while on deployment than to be kept up regularly by the Admiral and her Chief of Staff sharing in depravity. It went on for hours, until at last, of mutual exhaustion, they collapsed against each other. But here Tisara had a duty, which, as the disciplinarian she was, as much as a sadist, she immediately set about regardless of her own exhaustion, and in so doing showed some twisted form of love and conscientious concern for Ysalha.

The damage which Tisara had inflicted would have been, before modern medicine (antibiotics, at least), quite possibly fatal to the delighted and ecstasy-ridden Ysalha. But now it didn't even warrant immediate medical treatment by any specialist. Tisara herself could take care of the wounds to the point that Ysalha could put off the doctor's visit until she felt like it the next day, easily enough. Granted, Tisara had trained herself precisely for that task, and knew just what to do to repair the damage she'd inflicted. She kept the medical tools in an ornate old family medicine chest of immense age and ornate silver gilding covering the finely carved wood, and a ruby inset above the lock. It was unlocked, as usual, though, and she crisply removed what she needed: Spray-bottle of skin-sealant, spray bottle of synth-skin (used in conjunction on the slashed open back), compressor-accelerators for causing rapid flesh-binding in the deep razor slashes on the face and the puncture wounds of the nipples, and a sloughing agent for the burned flesh, the last of which would be followed up by synth-skin and sealant. The work was done without anesthetic, which meant that the feelings of the forced rapid healing were painful enough to serve as the night's finisher for Ysalha, who, unable to go into shock thanks to Taloran physiology, had deliciously and clearly felt every second of it. The treatment left her gasping, exhausted, and fallen in a pile of ravaged flesh against the bloodied and tangled sheets of their bed, as perfectly sated as she could ever dream of being in her whole life. Ysalha felt very lucky, indeed, and the strangely tender treatment showed that Tisara agreed on the count of fortune. Their love was obscene, but there was no doubt they saw it as love.

"Oh my dear girl," Tisara sighed as she put away the medical instruments reverently in their case, shutting it and returning to bed. They usually slept in the filth of their own carnality, and cleaned in the morning. Which had a strangely pleasant purifying effect, in such circumstances, and they were both to exhausted to do anything else tonight regardless. "I think we're on the verge of maybe, finally, being able to settle down."

“I don't think my life will ever be more complete, mistress,” Ysalha answered in heavy moans and sighs, hardly calmed from the aftereffects of the flesh-healing devices. “But if it pleases you, 'tis a fine thing by me.”

“Spoken as by your nature,” Tisara's ears showed her pleasure as she curled against her happily battered lover, both nude. She pulled the sheets over their sweat-bathed bodies, damp in places from Ysalha's blood, and relaxed in contentment.

“I know that you long for the company of equals, the feel of soil in your hands, the thrill of the chace when hunting... All the things I feared and dreaded, mistress, you revel in, and all that I love in you: My misborn slave's heart beats for your power. But I fear, too, for the chances that they will ever let us have that sort of life even in the colonies, or in a protectorate.” Ysalha was terrifyingly lucid, as she usually was after their depravity, though Tisara could tell from her constant quivering that she remained on knife's edge.

“It's your place to be fearful, dear. Don't regret it. It's mine to be bold. ...And I still desire these things, so let me strive for them. I will never be parted from you again as long as we live, but let me strive for more than that. It is your's to trust me in such things, in balancing our love with my ambition, even as sometimes I have learned to hear your words of caution, so much wiser of my tendencies and abilities than those of all others. As for now, though, my girl, I know from your shivering and fears that you're still quite worked up. So let me help you to sleep.”

“Of course, mistress,” Ysalha answered, her body badly needing rest to start the processes of healing, though her adrenaline levels were still quite high.

Tisara nodded gently, and reached for the needle case. She took a vial of a powerful muscle-relaxant and drew out the carefully measured amount that was required. She turned, then, back to Ysalha and pulled her right arm from the blankets. Tisara had grown so skilled that her lover completely lacked collapsed veins, despite the frequency with which this occurred. The needle was slipped in and Ysalha moaned in delight as it penetrated her and the drug filled her veins.

“Isn't that so much better, my girl?”

“Oooh y-yess...” Ysalha sighed happily, needing nothing more than what had just been done to feel great heights of dissolute pleasure. But Tisara wanted her to also sleep, for her own good. So she cleansed the needle, calmly washed the inside in distilled water, and filled it again with a standard sleeping drug that would likely put her out for nine Taloran hours. Tisara had decided Ysalha needed it, and she could be without a Chief of Staff for that long. Enough time for Cain to sort those democrats out, she thought to herself as she took Ysalha's limp left arm, hanging over her delightfully, and shot her up again.

Without another word, Ysalha was out in fifty seconds, and Tisara pedantically cleansed the needle and syringe and then settled down to follow her to sleep. She woke up much sooner, however, for despite all her happiness and contentment she was very curious about what had taken place in the Colonial fleet, about how successful she had been through Cain. So, eager and intent to find out the outcome of the events she'd set in motion, she got out of bed six t-hours later, showered and dressed, and headed for the bridge. Now it would be time to find out that which had happened whilst she was... Otherwise indisposed.

Some hours earlier, on Colonial One

Gaius Baltar had found treachery to be a rewarding career choice. So far it had not only given him love (though it was a strange one indeed) but also power. With Roslyn off indefinitely in Taloran space receiving treatment for cancer, he was the effective Head of State of the Colonial Confederacy. And that meant that the Talorans treated him with a sort of pompous deference he found suitable. The respectability he had always craved was now in hand.

The question was what do with it. Baltar thought association with the Talorans was a quite reasonable idea. They, by their own statements, wanted peace with the Cylons. According to the briefing that President Roslyn had given him, their nobility even had a curious interest in social justice. He wanted to investigate that in more detail, and accordingly, his sole presidential act since taking office about four hours earlier was to request from Aristasijh copies of the human works she had referenced in her conversation with the President and Zarek.

Baltar was a genius, and the Taloran translation algorithms had proved up to the task of converting the texts into Colonial script with reasonable clarity. The result was the he progressed through the political writings of Hillaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton with considerable celerity. They were well thought out and powerfully argued, of that Baltar doubted not. They were also fundamentally based around principles of 'Catholic Subsidiary', that is, of religious order. That the Talorans had found them suitable among human authors did not seem surprising. Vigorous monotheism was, it seemed, the order of the day in most of the rest of the universe. Another work had been sent, and it was this one that Baltar was reading at that moment: Du Pape (“The Pope”), by a fellow named the Comte de Maistre. It was the incredible effort of a proud bigot, strong-willed and inflexible in all matters, and in possession of potent but rigid powers of reasoning, brilliant but embittered, in Baltar's view, acting in continuous defence of centralized monotheistic religion, of monarchist governance, and of an integrated social order.

Such a political system is alien to us. And the ultimate incompatibility of our political systems is made brutally clear. If the Talorans think that the best thinkers among all of humanity are those who condemn democracy and scientific materialism, and equate mass butchery of innocents as being the 'apotheosis and logical consequence of their destructive spirit', then ultimately the co-existance of our... “systems is impossible.” Baltar realized he was standing on Caprica again, back at home, with Six sitting in front of him, coiled, relaxed.

“You have no idea how committed they are to God,” Six laughed, not very pleasantly. “Did you know what they did to a group they call the communitarians, back, oh, one thousand three hundred years ago? It was during the reign of the second Empress of the unified Taloran Empire. They nuked them, nuked almost sixty cities in all, to halt their offensives. Killed millions of civilians. And on the counterattack, if the people didn't repent and rejoin the orthodox belief of Farzianism, they were frequently driven into the sea or executed in mass. They're so much more like us than they realize, except more hypocritical. They've genocided two species themselves, even if they're mostly telling the truth about everything else. Granted, we think those acts were justified, but then we think our own were, too.”

“I didn't think you'd adopt the role of inquisitor so readily,” Baltar answered a bit bitterly.

Six was up and knocking him into the wall before he could react. As he slumped down, gasping for breath, she proceeded to knee him in the face and then kick him in the stomach repeatedly until he lurched over and vomited. It was possibly the most severe beating she'd ever delivered in these dream sequences, and terrified him more than anything else to date. Broken by it and left slump in a pile on the floor of his old home, Six stood above him, smirking. It had taken mere seconds of ferocious power to accomplish.

“The righteousness of some actions is unquestionable. We, if anything, admire the Talorans. They are bringing you to heel, and probably to the worship of the one God. But you still have a place in our plan, Baltar. The Talorans are hiding things. Things which are useful to us, and our plans. You'll learn them in time, and when you do, you will become the agent by which we humiliate and disorder all of humanity that shares your sins. And not all of it does. You'll understand that, soon enough. But first you're going to have to suffer. Because you hold a very special place in these developments, one that will play out at the crucial moment, and it will be in charge of what remains of the Colonies. That I can promise. But for the moment... You suffer.”

Baltar shuddered and prepared for another blow. Six watched him, and laughed. “No, no, not from me. Blame your fellow humans.” And with that, the scene vanished and he was returned to the Presidential office aboard the Colonial One. Staggering up to his feet, he wondered what she'd meant. He felt, he knew, the distinct feeling that simply getting beaten up hadn't been part of it. Oh well, I have the last of the best wines in existence to make me feel better. Ugh. He glanced down at his own vomit, and stepped over to his desk, pushing the buzzer that brought in Billy Keikeya.

“Clean that up, or get someone to,” he ordered, a bit shakily. “I'm going to go nap in my suite. Please inform me if anything.. Genuinely important comes up.” And with that, he left, not even allowing the executive advisor to get in a single word edgewise.

“Not really a people person, are you?” Billy muttered after Baltar had left the room.

Baltar's own concerns were mostly focused around the panic Six had left him in. Suitably, it was reciprocated by reality before he even got to his quarters. The intercoms on the Colonial One crackled alive with a dreadful message from the ship's Captain: “All hands, all hands! We're being boarded! They're Colonial Military but they're firing! Resist as possible—this is a coup against the government!”

Some armed security personnel caught up with Baltar before he could really react, starting to go back to his office but realizing that would be foolish. Instead, they tried to hustle him down to the shuttle bay on the ship, dragging him along in a most un-presidential fashion. But all they managed to do was take him directly into the path of Cain's boarding party, the Admiral having anticipated the response to her effort. Major Kendra Shaw was waiting as Baltar and the two guards turned the corner, with four men, and they fired at point blank, Baltar covered by the blood of his erstwhile protectors as they fell to the ground, unable to get a shot off. He was immediately surrounded by soldiers.

“Do you realize, Major, what you're doing!?”

“Saving humanity,” Shaw answered. “Especially from buffoons like you,” she added, and then, to her men: “Take him away, eh?” They started dragging the cuffed Baltar back to the Raptor. It wasn't long until Cain returned with Billy Keikeya, equally cuffed, and two other presidential advisors, along with the Colonial One's captain.

“J see you're the one who got our 'vice president'. Good work, Major. Until further notice you're the commanding officer of the Colonial Heavy,” she said, using the old registry to denigrate Roslyn's pretensions. “Keep half the Marines aboard while I haul back our prisoners.”

“Yes, Sir!” Kendra saluted stiffly, all professionalism for the moment with her lover, whom she idolized, and could not see her doing any wrong.

“Then see to your ship, Major,” Admiral Cain answered, allowing herself an affectionate smile after that before she climbed up into the nested Raptor and activated the coms connection. “Lieutenant Thorne, report your status?”

“The Council has been secured, Sir, no casualties in their ranks. We've got one dead and two wounded from resistance onboard, nine fatalities in the non-essential personnel on the liner.”

“Very good, Lieutenant. You know what do next. Keep them in chains and get them back to the Pegasus. And congratulations. This operation has proceeded as smoothly as I could have hoped.”

“Affirmative, Sir.”

With that, the two raptors undocked from the civilian ships they'd seized, giving no sign or evidence, really, of the fact that they had done so, as they'd been jamming the simple civilian transmitters on the vessels from the moment they'd approached them. For now, the rest of the fleet had no indication that there had been a coup, and they didn't receive news of it until Admiral Cain returned to the Pegasus in person.

Battlestar Pegasus

Admiral Cain strode into CnC on the Pegasus proudly, confidently, and serene in the knowledge of her success. Now it was time for things to get down to business, after all, and that was always what she'd been about.

She returned to the Pegasus' bridge to see Fisk waiting somewhat nervously. “Sir!”

“It's done. Colonel,” she observed. “Given me an open channel to the fleet, and bring the ship to quarters. We'll address them all at once.”

“Understood, Sir.” Fisk quietly went about his assigned task, waiting for Cain to compose herself and give the address.

Once the Pegasus was brought to stations and the channels opened, Admiral Helena Cain began her address, as calmly and crisply as always was, even when she had, just now, deposed the government of her nation in a military coup d'etat.

“Survivors of the Twelve Colonies, soldiers of the Colonial military, this is Admiral Helena Cain. I am bringing you news today of how your political leaders have deceived you. You are being led into an exile without hope of seeing other humans, or of ever regaining your worlds or your loved ones, to bury or to liberate from Cylon slavery. They are doing this on thin and specious ideological grounds, and I could not morally stand for it in any way whatsoever.

“We have millions of our people in Cylon rape and death camps, and millions more living off berries in the woods while they're bombed and nuked by the Cylons indiscriminately to finish off those few survivors. We should be fighting to free them at any cost, not running away because we're afraid of the Talorans and their form of government. And because your civilian leaders have refused to do that, in the name of everyone who remains in Cylon slavery and all those who have been killed, I have arrested them, and declare myself President of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol for the duration of the Emergency. Martial Law is now declared for the fleet and all territories. We will regiment our society for the purpose of fighting back, and we have the Talorans as allies who can sweep aside the Cylons like bugs. Our Victory is inevitable!

“We will make them pay! And for that, a reasonable sacrifice is needed,” Cain continued after a long pause as the crew's cheering roared up through the ship to her and reverberated through CnC. Only as it fell did she continue in full: “We are going to enter a protectorate arrangement with the Talorans, in exchange for their aide and our full autonomy, we will acknowledge the Empress as the supreme Protector of the Colonies of Kobol. Now,” she said with a slightly wry expression, “you may ask what the point of winning the war is, if we are to simply find ourselves part of a greater, and alien, Empire. But if you do you're a moral coward, unable to accept the fact that our worlds have been occupied and the survivors there are being butchered in death camps. If this is what we need to do to rescue them, then we will do it. And we will stand at the head of a Taloran fleet which will bring the war straight to the Cylon homeworld!

“I have been promised by the Taloran representative to our nation a fleet of immense proportions. We all see the eight dreadnoughts out there, one single battle squadron of their fleet. They're sending us four more. The fleet which cut through fifty Cylon baseships will be increased five-fold. This time, the war will not stop until the head of the last Cylon has been struck from its body! We WILL liberate our people and our homeworlds, and we WILL be victorious. If the toasters want to play a game of extermination, we will show them how it's played! Today, my citizens, my comrades, we stop running. Today we turn and we fight!

“And for those who say we are sacrificing our values? We're doing what we need to do to survive! And survive we will, survive and strike back. We are going to again stand on our homeworlds, and it is to that aim and that aim alone that I have dismissed this farce of a refugee government. The Council will next meet on Caprica, in the Councilor buildings, as rulers of a star nation, and not as an ineffectual collection of people stuck on a ship, trying to legislate the lives of fifty thousand of us like they were an actual government. From this day forward, my decrees will govern our fate, and you may know that I promise you a stern but fair, all-out effort to regain our colonies. And if you want to dabble in the moral treason of suggesting we need to hold our heads and refuse Taloran help, then I am going to give you one chance to change your mind, and that chance is right now.”

She paused, composing herself, and spoke a more reasoned argument next: “The simple fact is, there aren't enough of us left to form a functional nation. We need the economic, military, and even social support of the Talorans to survive. And more importantly, we need it so that we can gain open and free trade, passage, ties, and right of residence with every single other human nation in existence. That transforms us from a few refugee pariahs into a solid and strong nation which has liberated its colonies, gone from fifty thousand refugees to millions rescued from slavery or hiding in caves, the millions who can rebuild. The millions who can travel to Earth, see it, and from it, draw settlers, lovers, technical experts, all human, and all the people who will rebuild our civilization. We need Earth to survive as a civilization. And so we need the Talorans. Those are the simple facts of the situation.

“Do you want to live in the Stone Age again? Do you really think that you will have anything better, fifty thousand people on an unsettled world, with no infrastructure except that scavenged from these ships, which are already falling apart from a lack of maintenance? Fifty thousand people; not enough for a civilization. Just a tribe. And that's what you'd be, tribalists, primitives, forgotten and alone, on a world we have never known, with no chance of ever revenging ourselves upon the Cylons for our dead and reclaiming our sacred soil! That is what the policy of refusing the negotiate reasonably with the Talorans would have brought us, and it is to save us from that fate that I have acted in dismissing the government.”

Cain smiled, a tad darkly, as she came to her conclusion. “So are you with us or against us? Are you going to go all out for the liberation of the Colonies, or are you going to engage in the base moral cowardice of refusing to fight to liberate them simply because we have to make some compromises with the most powerful start-nation to have ever existed? A nation that will, in return, support us wholeheartedly with their military forces? If you want to be a fool, then you are welcome to go ahead. But there will be consequences. I expect you all to give your all for this sacred war to reclaim our colonies and crush the Cylons once and for. There is no compromise, no negotiation, and no exceptions. WE FIGHT!

The cheers throughout the Pegasus were utterly crazy by that point, the crew working to out-do each other in screaming deliriously at the top of their lungs in support until they began to gain more discipline again, beginning the ominous drumroll chant of more than seven months prior, “SO SAY WE ALL!” Again and again, until thundering, deafening, they seemed to shake the very bulkheads of the Pegasus herself. And through it all, Admiral Cain waited patiently, calmly, for them to get it out of their system. Then she could actually get down to the work of issuing the directives which would regiment the fleet to her will.

Throughout the fleet the response was considerable different. In the Pegasus' brig, the Council and Roslyn's aides alternated between disbelief and despair, save Zarek, burning in anger that things had finally come to pass as he'd expected. And Baltar, wondering, wondering, how far he would indeed suffer as Six had promised before being vindicated. Elsewhere...

Some people cheered along as eagerly as they could, yelling themselves hoarse, caught up in the infectious intensity of the moment, in the electrifying and power words Cain offered. They wanted blood-vengeance, they wanted to fight with the invincible aliens on their side. Others prepared to fight against the orders, chilled to the bone by the loss of all their values in this military coup. Many, numbed by the loss of all they had ever known, simply continued to function. But now it was time for Cain, literally enough, to lay down the law.

“It is now time for a systematic effort to begin that will allow us to offer a credible component of the forces liberating our own colonies,” Cain began, continuing rather eagerly, and certainly sternly. “Personnel from the Pegasus will be assigned to each ship in the fleet to guarantee cohesion, while we travel to a fortified location in Taloran space where the noncombatants can be protected by Taloran defensive forces while we build our strength up for the offensive. All militarily useful materials will be listed at that point for requisition on arrival. All skilled personnel required for the war effort will be drafted to that purpose. I will approve any exclusions personally, and let me assure you, you better have a good reason if you come to me for one. What remains of our society must, down to the youngest child able to work, be regimented into a cohesive force operating for the purpose of survival, combat, victory! Freedom of the press is hereby ended. Systematic investigations of everyone in the fleet to root out Cylon spies will be made. These investigations will be conducted on a summary basis. Hoarding of critical supplies will be punished harshly on my discretion.

“Raptors are being immediately detached with personnel detachments to each ship in the fleet to enforce these provisions. Resistance to their boarding will be punished. If you try to leave the fleet, you will be on your own against the Cylons. I guarantee it, and you will not last long. This is the way things work now, and they are going to work that way because it's necessary for our victory--and it is to victory that I, and we, will remain committed! The liberation of our Colonies, and our revenge on the Cylons is coming. The dead will not be forgotten! And that is my sacred promise. Cain, out.”

There were cheers again, but as they died down, Fisk quietly stepped over, and softly observed: “Sir, what about Adama?”

“He tried a coup before himself,” Cain answered confidently. “Presented with a fait accompli, he may complain for a bit, but he'll settle down and be a good boy soon enough. Hell, we didn't even have to kill anyone except a few idiot security personnel. By the time the Talorans cure the damned Secretary of Education of cancer, if they do, nobody will even remember who the hell she was. Now, get me the Taloran battlecruiser Kalammi. I need to speak with the Countess Palatine of Fulanaj.”

HSMS Orelyost.

Tisara Urami was a bit sleepy as she arrived at her flag bridge, sipping from a handleless mug filled with chakrash-root tincture. She stalked along the catwalks of the upper bridge and then descended to the main command pit, observing everything that was going on with her mismatched eyes, short stature and lowered head making her seem perpetually morose but also predatory. Finally, and mostly to humiliate her after her conduct during the running battle with the Cylons toward Ysalha, she approached Commander Slitrami from behind.

“Your Serene Grace,” she saluted stiffly as she whipped around to face her superiour. “What may I do for you?”

“Have you been monitoring what happened in the Colonial fleet over the night, Commander?”

“You ordered us not to interfere, Your Serene Grace,” Slitrami answered, looking down at Tisara and adopting a rather petty tone, vaguely threatening of sarcasm with the lazy way her ears tilted.

“Well then, find out for me. Contact Aristasijh on the Kalammi and tell her I want to speak to her. And yes, I know you're about to tell me that you're not the communications watch officer. Do it anyway, Commander. It's an order.”

“Your Serene Grace,” Commander Slitrami answered stiffly, and turned to go.

Smirking slightly, Tisara moved languidly over to the central command chair and settled down into in, bringing up a tactical plot, to, at least, see if any of the Colonial ships had left. Or possibly been destroyed. None had. That suggested whatever happened had been quite abortive—very bad—or else had been executed flawlessly. Which would be very good indeed. She didn't have to wait much longer, anyway, before the tactical plot was taken over for holo-projection of the Countess Palatine of Fulanaj.

“Your Serene Grace,” Aristasijh bowed politely, hiding her distaste for Tisara with some genuine admiration, now. The woman had precisely guessed her orders, and materially aided them. That would advance Aristasijh's career, and it showed that, however depraved, Tisara of Urami was still a Princss of the Blood and second heir to the Great Queen of Midela, a direct-line descendent of Fileya, second daughter of Valera. Her perception was acute, and the forged resemblance of the seamless artificial eye to the natural mismatched set of the Sword of God chilling in its accuracy. She most assuredly retained her uses to the Empire.

“Aristasijh of Fulanaj. Who is the President of the Confederation of the Colonies of Kobol?” Tisara asked, still sipping from her mug even as she spoke with the Imperial ambassador, her legs crossed in her regular service uniform, minus helmet, comfortable and very sated after the last night's indulgences, to be sure. It allowed her to fall back on the discipline of her youth, and come across as perfectly calm as she inquired about the results of her efforts.

“Admiral Helena Cain,” Aristasijh answered levelly. “Thank you, by the way, Your Serene Grace. You have materially aided Imperial diplomacy here. Cain is amenable to all our terms, with a few minor additional requests we can easily meet. Then I will be able to read a Royal Patent of Nobility from Her Serene Majesty in her capacity as August Majesty of Grenya Colenta creating the Head of State of the Confederation the title of Duke under protectoral privileges, and allowing her to name her successors as she see fits.”

“End run around the Convocate?”

“Her Serene Majesty wished this matter resolved quickly, and the Kobolian humans are certainly not part of the Empire, nor are they joining it, so the Convocate has no authority. It is a treaty of protectorate, and Her Serene Majesty can elevate anyone she wishes to the Grenyan nobility. It is only the Imperial and Federal Nobility which is limited by the Convocate, as you know well. In this case it is a simple declaration of the status of the Head of State of the Kobolian humans being, by definition, recognized as a Grenyan Duchess. That will settle them right proper, and we will have the minor modifications to the treat—well within the prescribed Imperial limits—hammered out by tonight. Admiral Cain is actually coming aboard the Kalammi now that she's secured the Colonial fleet to complete those negotiations.”

“Hmm. Why are you telling me?” Tisara asked, a bit curious that anyone would be volunteering information to her.

“You had a hand in Imperial policy. You should know the result. Speaking of which, consider this your invitation to dinner on the Kalammi, Your Serene Grace. To celebrate the protectoral status of the Kobolian colonies.”

“And the beginning of a war against the Cylons?”

“No, you already started that, Your Serene Grace,” Aristasijh answered. “At any rate...”

“I won't go without Ysalha.”

Aristasijh frowned for a minute, and then shrugged. “Very well. I am about to—if provisionally, granted—give notice of the conference of a title of nobility on a military dictator; since that is scarcely high company in the first place, you can bring along your creature if you wish to. You've proved yourself to be a benefit to the Empire out here, and whatever your aunt continues to think of you, and I doubt she will be pleased at all to see you there, let alone accompanied, you have indeed materially aided the aims of the Empire. I am an honest person, Your Serene Grace, so I am not going to forget, deny, or minimize that. A century of silence on the cocktail circuit has probably left you overflowing with many interesting stories for dessert, anyhow, so.. Enjoy it while it lasts.”

“Thank you, Countess,” Tisara answered simply. “You are being more decent to me than anyone else has been since the poor old Princess Imperial Sikala died, her ship bombed by the same communitarians the Princess Jhayka...”

“With respect, Your Serene Grace, your presence, and that of your.. Creature.. Is welcome at this dinner. Your conspiracy theories are not.”

“Very well,” Tisara answered neutrally. She wasn't going to miss her first formal banquet in literally a century, even over the details of the death of her closest friend. “Twelve hundred hours, Countess?”

“Twelve hundred hours, Your Serene Grace.”

“I'll see you then. And, please, send my congratulations to Admiral Cain. Orelyost, Out.” As the holo-projection of Aristasijh faded, Tisara took another long draft from the mug, feeling much more focused. She'd have to let Ysalha sleep for another three hours, and she'd probably need a stimulant, but her precious girl wasn't going to be missing their first chance for a banquet together, well, they'd never had one at which they'd actually been recognized, considering the difference in emanation between them. It appeared that the sheer audacity of their open relationship had ultimately paid off in that regard, at least out here on the frontier.

The chances of that manse on a big farm were increasingly reasonable ones. “Well, Admiral Cain. I hope you understand what I did for you,” she said softly under her breath. Some sort of arrangement about the survivors of Cain's prior act, which even Tisara found repulsive—though it had unquestionably proved useful to her—would have to be found to keep them from causing to much trouble. But for the moment, she had the first substantial hope for change in her life since Sikala had crushed it all in her mysterious and so unfortunate death. All she needed now was a few victories in the splendid little war with the Cylons which would now surely result, and she would surely be rehabilitated enough to settle down in the Protectorate without complaint by the government. I think I'll ask for the Naval Ministry, too.. Even with only a dozen ships, it will be a nice post to keep me busy. And I'll finally be able to properly discipline a naval force! Fancy that.... But Tisara should perhaps have been more cautious about making plans before the last roll.
Last edited by The Duchess of Zeon on 2008-01-21 04:33am, edited 2 times in total.
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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-02-09 03:19am

Chapter Twenty.

CNS Kshatriya,
Deep Space approx.
7 light months from Picon.

It had been a short seven months on the Colonial Cruiser Kshatriya. The vessel was a modular heavy gun support ship, one of three classes of support combatants in the Colonial Navy. The others, anti-fighter destroyers and fast scouting frigates, had born the brunt of the fighting. The new Baseships had stayed out of gun-range unlike in the days of old, and had not given a target to the immense batteries of the cruiser and her sisters. They'd still suffered when Admiral Nagala's stand had been made. The computer virus had virtually destroyed the ability of every ship in the fleet to resist. The modular cruisers, however, had a sole advantage: Independent computers in each combat module that lacked CNS routines. That meant her heavy guns were fully operational from the start. But against fighters, they had been virtually useless.

Colonel Iphigenia Xanthippus, executive officer of the Kshatriya, had survived the engagement only thanks to the direct order of the ship's CO, Commander Walker: “Smash the computers with a fire-axe, Iphy!” The shout would reverberate through her for the rest of her likely short life. It had, at least, avoided her dying immediately, as the bridge had been blown to pieces while she was seeing to Commander Walker's last instructions. Taking command from a secondary control post, she'd seen Nagala's flagship go up and the surviving Battlestars swiftly follow. As the raiders were consumed in that lethal task, Iphigenia, seeing no Admirals in communication, had decided to save the ship and ordered them to break their position.

The ship's heavy guns had been useless in the fight which had developed, and, ignored by the raiders as they went for the “Big Ones”, she had ordered the engines to a full burn at maximum power for deep space. Every safety had been overriden until the engines were redlined to the maximum of the stress tolerances and well beyond, generating such acceleration as to distort the internal gravity fields, throwing everyone back into their chairs with eyeballs-in gravity of 10g's or more, not enough to impair their functioning at that angle, but leaving them, for hours of intense acceleration, scarcely able to function as the effects of acceleration bled through the inertial dampers.

Several other ships had tried the same escape effort and had been destroyed. But like the old principle of scattering a convoy under surface attack to save at least a few of the ships, the Kshatriya had escaped by random chance and the reality of the Cylons' being overtaxed by the destruction of thousands of ships. They had kept burning until 48% of their fuel had been exhausted and they were at extremely high c-fractional velocities.

Time-dialation was sufficiently intense that the seven months had been seven days for them. And just eight hours and 56 minutes ago, eleven days real-time, they had made contact with and engaged with their surviving heavy gun, a ship of unknown design, though surely Cylon. It probably meant their final doom. 60% of the crew had been killed in action or died of wounds (many of which had been treatable, but could not be treated in the intense gravity of the acceleration). 20% were wounded but still alive. At this speed, with their main computers gone, jump calculations were impossible, for the calculations that could be done on slower, portable computers would be useless by the time they were finished when traveling at such velocities. More personally, Iphigenia was among the wounded herself, missing her right leg from mid-thigh. Crushed by a collapsing bulkhead, someone had despite the acceleration managed to get a tourniquet around it, and she'd lasted long enough to have it amputated once they ceased their burn.

She had, over that week, done her best with what was left to her on the Kshatriya to prepare her ship and crew for an expected renewal of hostilities. Now it had come. They had been deaccelerating for four hours to throw off an enemy approach, and were as ready as they could ever be: In a week, on survival rations and painkillers, commanding from a cot on the secondary bridge that she also slept on, she had, a freshly-minted Colonel with only two weeks as the ship's XO, turned the Kshatriya from a shattered wreck into a fighting ship once again. Against a concerted Cylon attack they would die, but Iphigenia would not give up. She was an atheist and proudly so, and so had long been told her lack of faith would make her a coward, but she'd proved those doubters wrong already. Now, with a calm sense of fatalism, she drew out her plans to exact the highest possible price on the enemy in payment for her death, the deaths of those under her, and the destruction of her ship.

She'd have the chance, it seemed. An immense squadron, mostly of ships of the same kind they'd engaged briefly before, had jumped out ahead of them, moving faster than they were, matched to their old velocity. “Battle-stations,” Iphigenia calmly ordered as two crewers carried her to a bolted down chair and strapped her to it with a piece of rope. Taking only a moment to settle, she glanced around the secondary bridge. Lieutenant Astarte at the helm, Captain Ricardo directing weapons, that was it for the surviving healthy officers here. Major Wallingstead in Engineering was still up and moving, and two more combat-line officers were alive, but one had lost both eyes to shrapnel and the other was missing a hand. So it was the three, with a gaggle of surviving ratings, who would fight the ship from her remaining bridge.

“All operational sectors reporting at battle stations, Colonel.”

And they were ready to fight. Nervous expressions focused into intangible hardness, the grim determination of those who had been close enough to Picon to know that the system had been destroyed as well as the thirty Battlestars and hundreds of support ships which had been there when the Cylons had attacked. They had remained under radio silence that past week—that past seven months—listening until the last radio transmission from Picon ceased, leaving no doubt that all but the barest fraction of the population had been exterminated. And with no relief having come for Picon, they could live in fear that the rest of the Colonies had been destroyed, too, that the remaining 90 battlestars of the fleet had not managed to stem the tide.

Iphigenia had a strange sort of nervous tick. As a gesture of calming to herself, and to those around her, she plucked out a broken hairbrush, the handle gone, and began to brush through her dirty, oily red hair, long having lost its lustre in the past week without bathing. No tangles, though; this was hardly a new phenomenon. She was calmly brushing her hair, then, as she gave the orders. “Increase deacceleration to flank. Stand by to launch the Raptors and shuttles. Begin deploying warheads, nuclear first, then conventional. Stand by to jettison the Tylium pods and have Battery #5 target them.” The ship's surviving KEV had the job of detonating her whole remaining supply of Tylium, to be deployed from the ship as mines, as were the warheads of both the conventional and nuclear missiles from the two missile pods. The Raptors and shuttles had volunteer suicide pilots, all Piconese, unsurprisingly, and the Raptors had missiles to fire first: There were only three of each, and no fighters, in the tiny bay of the Kshatriya, but they would have to be enough. With the deployed weapons traveling forward at their release velocity as the ship continued to de-accelerate, the enemy would pass through the trap before being able to engage them. The downside being that with the Tylium gone, if they somehow survived, they'd never be able to slow down.

“Colonel, de-acceleration at full,” Petty Officer Alisia Kynes reported crisply as the engines shuddered and gravity, partially overwhelming the inertial dampers, began to push on them again.

Iphigenia had thought that one over, and made the call. It was going to be their one chance to fight a battle on their terms, to tear into the enemy who had smashed their homes: For Iphigenia herself was Piconese, and whatever else, she knew her lovers, her family, all her friends, were indubitably, irrevocably slain, and there would be no bringing them back. If we somehow defeat them, well, we'll need the tylium-bombs to do that, and if we somehow do.. At least we'll have many somewhat normal years of life thanks to the hydroponics and fissionables, traveling through deep space... “Launch Raptors and shuttles. Begin deploying warheads first. Stand by for tylium-pod deployment.”

“Aye aye, Sir,” Captain Ricardo replied.

Then Warrant Officer Chaniya Bakker intervened with a sudden, and almost desperate, squawk. She was young, and it showed in her voice and loss of composure.

“Colonel, we're receiving an IFF interrogatory from a Colonial warship!”

“Identity? It's probably a Cylon trap,” Iphigenia answered with cruel honesty.

The answer changed all of that.

“It's BSG-75. Galactica! Her position is inside the enemy formation.”

“Wasn't she being decommissioned during the attack?” Lieutenant Astarte queried, adding, “Sir,” the hope in her voice starting to pervade the bridge.

“Decommissioned... Not upgraded,” Ricardo answered.

Iphigenia, dosed up with painkillers or not, realized the train of thought. It stopped her cold. “They wouldn't have had the CNS downloaded... Halt launch orders! Chaniya, send them back a confirmation. Full Ident query!”

The chorus of ayes that followed was marked by silence, and nervousness. If this was really a Cylon trap—and how to explain the strange ships otherwise?--what else could it be?--they may have lost their one chance at an ambush. Iphigenia could only judge, though, that even now hope was surely the correct course of action.

Then Chaniya spoke again, relief flooding her voice. “We're getting a message back from the Galactica, Colonel.”

“Someone give me a handset,” Iphigenia coughed, setting aside her broken hairbrush. It was grabbed at full extension and given to her.

A voice, terribly gravelly and very familiar, from a legend in the fleet, came to her. “Kshatriya, this is Galactica, Commander Adama. You are ordered to stand down at once.”

“Commander Adama,” Iphigenia answered delicately, “Please tell me the name of your previous command.” She knew his career intimately from a study of the heroes of the Cylon War in the academy.

“The Valkyrie,” Adama answered, to Iphigenia's relief. “Now, stand down and identify yourself at once.”

“Acknowledged, Commander. This is Colonel Iphigenia Xanthippus, commanding officer of the cruiser Kshatriya. We are standing down.”

She glanced to her crew. “It's legit as best as I can confirm. Stand down and order the Raptors and shuttles to begin broadcasting positions, and tag the warheads we already deployed for safety purposes.” She made sure that Adama could hear that over the feed.

“Sir, we're standing down.” She asked, next, strangely calm: “Who are you with? What are those ships?”

“They're from the Taloran Imperial Starfleet, Colonel. An alien, non-Kobolian species. The Galactica made contact with them while protecting a convoy of civilian ships which consist of the only free survivors—and very nearly the only survivors period—of the Twelve Colonies, I must bluntly tell you. They have assisted us against the Cylons, and they're here to help bring the Kshatriya home, Colonel. You've done good. You're alive, and we've got one more ship for the future. There's only two other warships than your's left in the Colonial fleet.”

“What's the other one, Commander?”

“Battlestar Pegasus, Colonel.”

Iphigenia smiled tightly. “Well, no surprise that Admiral Cain made it through. Sir, what are your instructions? We need to transfer our fuel pods back to the reactors—we were preparing to launch them as last-ditch mines—but we can de-accelerate on our own.”

“We'll help you in de-accelerating, Colonel. The Talorans have anti-gravity cohesive beams called 'tractor-repulsors', and they can use them with their heavy ships to aide in slowing you, so that we can get our speeds equalized and going down. Then we'll send teams over—are your jump-drives intact?”

“Yes, it's just the computers.”

“Then we can get the Kshatriya home, Colonel. How long were you her XO?”

“Ah, two weeks, Commander. I'd just finished Command and General Staff College after being promoted to Colonel.” Iphigenia felt herself flush somewhat. Is that just the drugs? But we're saved. She glanced around the bridge, where the crew could barely contain their celebrations. To her, though, it was dull. Just another event. What happens now? And what are these aliens, exactly? I... Well, I'll find out soon enough.

“Again, you did good, Colonel. But for now,” Adama continued, working his away with her carefully, for he realized something that neither she nor any of her high strung crew could realize—that she was filled with such nervous energy, deadened by shock and drugs and strung out to the max at the same time—that she was more or less on the edge of a breakdown. But she hadn't broken down. She was still there, and she had, indeed, done the best she could. Now it was time to count the cost, and he said as much.

“Well, Commander,” Iphigenia answered softly, “The casualty list starts with me, or more pointedly, my right leg, and goes from there.”

By the time she was done, Adama had to admit one thing: Even he hadn't expected that much devastation on the somehow-intact cruiser. But a brief conference with Fraslia confirmed that she could still be saved, and so the delicate process of recovering the ship from right under the nose of the Cylon enemy began.

HSMS Jhammind,
Approaching Sol.

Dr. Ghimalia was fairly content at the moment. Roslyn's condition was at least stabilized by the powerful, targeted chemical treatments and radiation. Countless supportive drugs minimized the negative effects and treated her symptoms as well. To stabilize her body a series of targeted microsugeries had removed any concentrations of cancerous cells that could be found. Organs on the verge of failure had been removed and replacements were being grown, while the President was kept safely in stasis.

Now Ghimalia was sequencing the cancerous tissue and matching it against the needed retroviral capabilities to create a tailored version of what had, 700 years ago, been an untreatable disease. Now it was the perfect tool for training the body to attack cancer cells. Infect the cancer cells, and the body, then trained to attack the virus, by extension would destroy the cancer, developing a learned response to those cells with which any reoccurrence of the cancer would be immediately attacked, guaranteeing a state of what was called perpetual remission.

Ghimalia leaned back and stopped staring at the screen for a bit, also turning off the neural interface. She then mentally turned off her own eyes to take a moment's rest. Contented, but also rather tired. As she rested, though, Gina approached her quietly, putting her hands on Ghimalia's shoulders. Four t-weeks and Sipamert's refusal to persecute a war on the Cylons had made her much more comfortable, and she was even getting along with Ghimalia's Batgirl.

“You're working very hard to save her.”

“It's my job,” Ghimalia answered, “and all of our other patients are either discharged or stable. How's Sharon?”

“She seems more or less a Colonial now.”

“Do you still hold loyalty to your people?” Ghimalia asked in response to the contemptuous sound in Gina's voice.

“Yes, but I don't think I can fight again.” Gina hesitated. “I don't want to...” She stopped rubbing.

“Be raped again,” Ghimalia muttered, turning her eyes back on and looking at Gina. “I wish I could arrange help for you, but...”

“I'd rather not deal with humans.”

“There are no Taloran specialists in mental health as I've said. I could give drugs if there was something, but...”


Ghimalia turned, rising, and hugged the Cylon, feeling for a moment the terrible distance in her. “They raised you fully formed and never gave you a chance to for a better future. I wish I could change that.”

“Perhaps, Ghimmy, you're right, but...” Gina started crying, folding up against the Taloran.

Ghimalia knew better than to speak. She did, though, silently pray that Helena Cain would suffer inestimably for her treacherous torture of Gina. Ghimalia knew Gina had been in the wrong, but the savagery of Cain's response wiped that consideration out. There was no Justice done to the girl, and Ghimalia thought that the best example of her quiet faith possible was to make up for such surfeits of Justice in the lives of others. So, gently holding Gina, she let her cry, let the suffering drain away with a warm body to hold back the cold.

At last, Gina calmed. “For all my duty, I loved her. Before she resolved to fight, I hoped to save her—send the Pegasus off into deep space, make our lives shipboard. She'd be as gone from the fleet, as removed as a threat, as if destroyed, and we could have had lives together.”

“Cain is more of a savage sort than that. You will find better in the future.”

“Perhaps.” A pause. “Humanity here resents Talorans, and is like the Colonials in some way. And, well, no offense, but I don't find your species attractive.”

“Nor I humans, though I am bisexual enough to imagine myself in your place and share a little for it. However, Gina, those.. Aren't your only options.”


“I am not sure if I can explain for a bit yet, though, I think, soon enough. For the moment, though, I can't,” Ghimalia frowned at herself. “They'll surely tell the President in another three weeks when we bring up from the stasis-coma after the injections and surgeries in the next round of treatment. I'll make sure they tell you as well. Can't hide it from her on Earth, after all, and we're not at war with your nation.”

“But what does this have to do with my future?” The plaintive note in the question was obvious.

Glowing red eyes met Gina's and Ghimalia forced a small smile from her experience among humans. “Trust me, Gina, it has everything to do with it,” and they hugged again. But even then, Ghimalia was wondering if she had perhaps already said to much. In fairness to her, nobody ever really trained medical doctors to function in a world where common knowledge abruptly became State Secrets. We can't really hide the A.D.N. from them any longer, can we? But that was exactly what was intended by the Taloran government.

Battlestar Galactica,
Deep Space approx.
7 light months from Picon.

Colonel Xanthippus still goggled a bit at the Talorans; she couldn't help it at all at this point. It had only been a day to her since she had been introduced to the very concept of an alien species existing, beyond a few brief academy lectures. A day to her, and everyone else in the force, even in a hard deacceleration. In the real world, so to speak, another eight days had passed by. They were now at rest, her Kshatriya having escaped certain death.

As for her own personal status at the moment, missing leg or not, they were also in a conference. Gray-skinned Baroness Commodore Fraslia of Istarlan and Orange-haired Lieutenant Chylisi represented the Taloran side of things. Iphigenia herself retained nominal command of the Kshatriya, but Lee Adama—the alien Commodore Fraslia had the strange habit of calling him Adama the Younger--had been made her XO and, having headed over to the Kshatriya the moment it whad been possible to transfer personnel for the repairs when velocities had matched,now functionally ran the ship entirely with Iphigenia on the Galactica under medical treatment--and Captain Thrace promoted to replace him as Galactica's Wing Commander.

Lacking a leg, Iphigenia had nonetheless defiantly maneouvred herself from sickbay to the meeting, intent on seeing what would be the conclusion of the longest journey that she could have imagined to have taken place, and how they would get back to civilization. Such that remained of it. The reality of Earth, of the Talorans, was somewhat sour after the miracle of their salvation. At least we never had any hope, let alone hope of Earth, to be let down. If Adama can bear the knowledge and cooperate with the Talorans, I can certainly do the same. Comforting thoughts, but they never did seem to translate into comforting emotions.

“You're looking better, Colonel,” Adama acknowledged in his usual gravelly tone. “When we get you back to the fleet, the Talorans should be able to give you a leg as good as new and get you back to the Kshatriya as quickly as possible.”

“Better than new, Sir,” Chylisi offered helpfully, and glanced to Colonel Xanthippus. “You will certainly be able to return to duty within a month of the attachment, Ma'am.”

“I don't particularly want what's damn near a Cylon leg,” Iphigenia remarked tartly, and pushing the limits of a civil meeting in language, “but whatever gets me back to the Kshatriya the soonest, I'll take it, no matter what it means. My soul's going to be on that ship. Likely forever.”

“It's nice to know there's someone out there who knows how I feel about the Galactica,” Adama admitted in a surprising moment of candidness. “And it's good that you've chosen to have such an attitude, Colonel. Duty is always first.” Adama started for a long second into her eyes, until she ducked her head away a bit, acknowledging the criticism.

Then Adama turned his head to look at the lofty visage of the Taloran Commodore, even seated, and her not-quite-human grayskinned features. “Commodore, have the repair teams finished work on the Kshatriya?”

“In thirty more minutes they'll all be recovered, following the integrity scans, Commander. All the actual work, however, is in fact done.”

“That leaves getting back,” Adama moved right along. “The fleet has reached Oralnif by now, correct?”

“Probably ten days ago, Commander. Direct route, sixteen days to Oralnif from here. Early heavy evasion patterns will have to be implemented to avoid Cylon detection, however, and we will need to pick up some of the scouting elements along the way we now have operating here as additional escorts for further safety. Altogether that means it should take at the very minimum about twenty days for us to reach Oralnif.”

“Five thousand seven hundred lightyears,” Iphigenia murmured, commenting offhand. She wasn't nearly as focused on the details of the meeting as the others, considering she was both not formally on duty, and most assuredly on plenty of painkillers. “No wonder we never found you before.”

“And Earth itself at more than eight thousand,” Adama allowed himself to agree. “Would have taken several years given our planned search pattern to find, most likely, without contact with Commodore Fraslia here.” Adama simply ignored Iphigenia's look of distaste. That response to the Facts of Taloran power, from someone who had seen and lived through what she had in the months, or days, since the attacks began, through the annihilation of Nagala's ships and her own narrow escape, horrible injuries, and the stunning carnage on the Kshatriya, was at least understandable. Adama did not like those facts himself.

While Iphigenia's response was understandable from Adama's perspective, the Talorans, on the other hand—even Fraslia—would never understand the sentiment, and Adama was starting to share their opinion, at least, even if he still understood why Iphigenia was so dreadfully mistrustful. Whatever else, they share with us a balance of flaws and abilities, and some of them are good and some are evil. No wonder they themselves find our species-based distinctions odd, or downright silly. That, and their religion influences their knowledge...

“Well, the most important thing, Commander,” Fraslia answered a bit lamely to break up the brooding silence at the table, “is that we did find you.”

“Yeah, though it hasn't turned out to be perfect or anything like that. A bit unhappy, even, Commodore,” Starbuck interjected abruptly.

“Our association has only just begun, and the fleet...”

“Did get one hell of a lot of kills racked up,” Starbuck agreed with a grin, but then frowned. “Still, the politicos are being a bit dodgy in keeping us from continuing that run of victories together.”

“Our values are not up for sale,” Adama commented a bit dangerously to Starbuck, growling rather lower. He didn't like her attitude, or Cain's, for that matter, to the issue of Colonial democracy against Taloran autocracy.

“Understood, Sir,” Starbuck answered stiffly.

“Perhaps,” Fraslia interjected for the sake of injecting some lightheartedness into the end of the meeting, “the political impasse will be broken when we return.”

“We may hope, Commodore,” Adama agreed.

“I'd drink to it,” Starbuck chimed in, and all seemed settled.

Nobody realized how horribly correct their hopes had become, such as to be a veritable mockery of the meaning intended. But that was Cain's fault.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-02-09 06:19am

Chapter Twenty-One.

Deep Space.

Ysalha Armenbhat dreamily mused on her lover's voice and words when they had last been together. They had not been long apart, but that was to long for her, after the periods of long separation which had gone before. Over time she had not drifted apart from Tisara, but become all the more attached and faithful, and so it was that she now was more or less consumed by thoughts of Tisara. They could not long stay apart from each other and remain functional, and that observation underlaid that last conversation even if it was not something to which Tisara would direct admit.

“Don't worry, my girl,” Tisara had offered with an arm around Ysalha in bed. “It's just an inspection run, after all, my dear... Sipamert's way of venting at my End Run of the family's efforts to shame us for our actions out here on the frontier. We're in a fine position now, with Admiral Cain in charge of the Colonials and a war in the making, a leader of a state of the Empire indebted to us. It has all, at last, finally worked out in the end. The end, of course, of the beginning,” she had added languidly, before drawing her precious girl into a passionate kiss.

A kiss that aroused Ysalha now simply by remembering it. They had become so close that normal acts of affection gained a pleasurable significance from the promise of violence behind them, even when normal sexual stimulation was impossible for her. It was a beautiful feeling, and she just let herself revel in it, before she was carried back to the present by the thoughts about how her precious mistress had turned out to be correct in the first place, how her plan had come together with such utter perfection in the final accounting.

And it has come together so well like that, has it not? Ysalha mused to herself, board as they traveled through an uncharted system at sublight velocities while recharging their jump drive. She was, for the moment, a supernumerary to the gunboat's operation, and had nothing with which to occupy herself whatsoever, due to the enforced comms silence this close to the enemy, until she began the first of the inspection tours. There was a hopeful tone to what she thought about, anyway: Perhaps we will finally have peace. It was a happy thought, indeed. Ysalha and Tisara were almost 200 human years old and had spent 180 of those years together as a couple, faithful to each other the whole while.. And 160 of those years in turn had been spent in perpetual exile on the extreme fringes of the Taloran Star Empire. To have a home to return to was a strange, seemingly impossible dream to hold. But it was a dream that finally was coming true, and Ysalha had her mistress to thank for it, as she did every aspect of happiness and Purpose in an otherwise hopeless and dissolute life.

Ysalha rose and paced in the tiny cabin; she didn't really have enough room to do it, and so gave up and jacked into the wall-mount, studying specifications out of sheer boredom. She didn't want to masturbate in someone else's room, particularly considering the accompaniment she inflicted on herself so she could actually enjoy it, and it left her bored and frustrated all at once. So she was just going over the J'u'crea-ER type specs from the helpful Starfighter Corps internal data-net on the craft (operated by the Starfighter Corps rather than the Starfleet as were all sub-20,000 tonne combat vessels). That quickly grew to bored for her to continue, so she flipped back to reviewing the instructions for her mission.

The Stop Line for any potential Cylon advance into the Taloran Empire was based around Oralnif, the only significantly inhabited planet in the Sector, and defensive regions of space in a rough arc through the Oralnif area, meaning that two-thirds of the expansion sector would be abandoned to the Cylons. Preventative evacuation of colonists in that area—just a few tens of thousands--was already being undertaken, and throughout the area a Patrol Front had been established. This Patrol Front was integrated with Tisara's command, and sixteen scouting squadrons had been dispatched to provide recon elements for the forces in the vicinity.

The total scouting coverage of the Oralnif Spinward's Scouting Front was now amounting to one hundred and twenty-eight fresh Heavy Cruisers and virtually all of the undamaged or lightly damaged Heavy Cruisers and Expeditionary Cruisers of the original Imperial Starfleet and the Royal Midelan Navy elements already in the area from the initial round of combat operations. The cruisers had arrived over the past seven t-weeks, along with no less than twelve more light carriers—stripping the three nearest expansion sectors of light carrier divisions!--and an incredible commitment of a full squadron of eight of the most very modern heavy fleet carriers, plus a squadron of battlecruisers to support them!--and a force of three battleships to form a battleship division, and all with seven more Destroyer flotillas and one new squadron of light cruisers.

The best part was that as the ranking Imperial officer on the scene, and with no Line elements having been dispatched in the Imperial section of the force, just the Royal Midelan Navy units, her mistress Tisara remained in command of her Taskgroup, and that Taskgroup now included all of the ships, though she was still firmly subordinate to the Archduchess Sipamert. That, however, was something that they could live with for the moment. Though it did mean the irritation, and humiliation, of this completely unnecessary inspection tour.

Of the 4,000-tonne extended range J'u'crea tpye Gunboat that she was now on, it could be more or less be said that it was a standard armed courier for the fleet's operations. A standard combat gunboat with a full weapons load (and in fact one extra light bolter mount), it was lengthened, stretched both in length and in mass by 500 tonnes over the normal 3,500 tonne design, providing space for, in particular, a larger reactor, more jump batteries, allowing for a series of jumps in very fast sequence (already expended thanks to the Archduchess Sipamert's orders for haste, which left Ysalha somewhat invulnerable as it meant they couldn't jump out for another thirty minutes) and a normal recharge rate of two hours like a capital ship (aided by the reactor being all anti-matter, getting a much better power yield), all of it coming at the expense of maneouvrability only, with not even sublight acceleration being affected—more mass, but more power for the sublight gravitic acceleration impellers, as well.

Ah, well. Boredom seemed impossible to escape now. They still hadn't reached the patrol line, and Ysalha was not just sharing a cabin, but sharing it with the distinctly uncomfortable Gunboat commander—uncomfortable with her, that was, as her reputation preceded her, and was much distorted besides. Though bisexual, however, Ysalha had been faithful to Tisara for fifty-seven t-years, an incredible length of time. The gunboat's commander was quite safe from her unnatural ways, of that Ysalha was amusedly certain, though knowledge of her own inherent loyalty to her mistress had, from time to time, led her to make some people.. Uncomfortable. She regretted that now, not enjoying the silence which she realized, sadly, was omnipresent in her mistress' life.

Containing the impulse to daydream about more erotic things, she just laid down on the previously ill-used upper bunk, folding herself up, and focusing on imaging the prospect of her and Tisara settling down to create a home together, a real, true hearth in the countryside... When the gunboat's alarms sounded, and veritably bodily knocked her from the bunk with their dreadful urgency. They had good reason to.

********* *************** **************

“Senior Centurion,” the L-model Thought-droid address to a command labour model: A Lucifer and a gold-plated Cylon Centurion, in other words and understandings than the old pre-revolt designations, including their own. “You are ordered to attack and disable the unknown craft: I repeat, disable only. Priority placed on this is set at one hundred percent by Imperious Leader.”

Calmly, grimly, mechanically he droned back: “By Your Command.”

The Centurion was on an old-model Heavy Raider, on the command deck of which his head now swiveled toward his subordinates: “Signal squadrons one through nine. to attack energy-emitting wing structures on targeted unknown only. These will be the. reactionless engines. Weapons at fifty-percent power. Stand by to board.”

“By Your Command.”

Nine squadrons of nine fighters swung out of concealment in the asteroid belt of the system and fell into line, accelerating toward the J'u'crea-type gunboat they referred to simply as Unknown Target. It turned on heel more or less immediately and accelerated hard. Even as it did, though, the first strike was being planned—by the Talorans. They had the Colonial data-files, after all, and they knew exactly who they were facing. Swinging around to face the hull to the opposite of the direction of acceleration she opened up with her main full forward batteries even as gravitic polarity was flipped to allow continued acceleration.

She pumped out 32 heavy anti-fighter guided missiles in the next ten t-seconds, too. Nineteen of them hit the old three-Centurion Raiders and destroyed them utterly, their Tylium fuel sources violently going up as the missiles detonated. The others successfully evaded in tremendous swarms and continued to close with their designated target.

“Probability high. Target craft's missiles expended. Squadrons one and nine accelerate around flanks. in. encirclement manoeuvre. All other squadrons continue to attack.”

“By Your Command.”

The battered Cylon formation began to close with the unknown target only for the gunboat to suddenly spint on heel once more and activate an unknown form of FTL drive which was still trackable in realspace. The Cylons were left alone with their losses, though they suffered no real problems from the sudden misfortunate turn of events. They analyzed, and methodically proceeded with the operation.

“Course of the unknown vessel toward main facilities. On approaching heading to Imperious Leader. Immediate response required. Jump immediately to provide warning. Destination pattern, no calculations.” The Senior Centurion calmly droned on, despite the risk it entailed even for a very well known destination like their's indeed.

“By Your Command,” his subordinates impassively acknowledged.

The three-Cylon, old style Raiders leapt to their next destination through their jumpdrives. It was close enough that they'd only beat the gunboat by a trivial matter of seconds, but that would be enough for their methodical preparations. As the crew tried to change course, the Senior Centurion received his orders from the Lucifer representing Imperious Leader.

“Interpose and Ram to drive them out of hyperlight,” the Lucifer instructed without a trace of regret or additional thought about the morality of such an order, for there was no doubt. Only results were moral. “Our analysis indicates they will not be destroyed by such an operation.”

Despite being the subject of the order, and having to refer it to his operational wing, the Senior Centurion also felt no trace of regret, or pity, just “By Your Command” was the answer the orders were methodically absorbed and transmitted to the necessary elements, those closest to already being in position for the operation.

“Squadron four now assigned as Death Squadron against enemy unknown.”

“By Your Command.” With no trace of further thought, the squadron commander flung his ship forward into the path of the enemy and the squadron followed. The racing gunboat slammed into two of the nine Raiders as it tried to alter course at its incredible superluminal velocities to avoid the suddenly discovered enemy facilities. The two Raiders so struck were vapourized instantly, even as energy, on the other hand, overloaded the busbars and blasted the Gunboat's Gravito-Magnetic FTL drives into so much scrap by further explosions and backwash.

Crippled though she was, the Gunboat still had full power, and a forlorn hope of holding out long enough for her jump-drive to finish recharging. She was traveling at a very fast c-fractional velocity, too, and was nonetheless and despite the damage able to quickly align and fire a salvo of 256 mini-missiles which filled an area of space with enough radiation from their detonations to erase four more of the old Raiders from the stars in a wash of sympathetically detonating Tylium.

“All squadrons attack. on prior parameters,” the Senior Centurion on his command Heavy Raider ordered simply. The acknowledge was veritably eternal:

“By Your Command.”

The guns on the gunboat filled the sky with myriads of defensive fire aimed at the incoming fighters, a desperate and unstoppable fusillade. But though the Raiders couldn't stop it, and they suffered from it accordingly, nor could simply the fire of those guns stop the remainder of the raiders, those that survived the fields of fire, from being able to smash the gunboat's drive-vanes to pieces. With the gunboat's ability to manoeuvre thus disabled, another flight swept in, losing two of their number before the last operational Raider in the group knocked out the dorsal turret of the J'u'crea-type.

Another probe succeeded in unmasking an aft battery concealed in the ER-type's extended after section, the additional pintle-mounted light bolter for ventral/aft defence (to compensate for reduced manoeuvrability), which here managed to claim no less than three Raiders due to the surprise way in which it opened up before it too was also silenced by the attackers. Now they had, of course, everything that they wanted.

“Our objective knows we wish them alive,” one of the Senior Centurion's aides noted in summary of the analysis, “or else probability is high resistance would have already ceased.”

“An accurate evaluation. Move us in directly to board. All Centurions will attack to capture per Imperious Leader's Instructions.”

“By Your Command.”

************ ********************** ********************

Ysalha was awakened by the kick of a Centurion's metal foot. She found herself being dragged up within moments later, looking at the rest of the crew as she was pulled away: All alive, at least, and at enormous pains by these second-line (reserve? militia?) Cylons, no less, who had docked multiple Heavy Raiders to each other in chains, linking them together and transferring and concentrating waves of Centurions until they were able by strength in numbers to body overwhelm and seize the Talorans of the gunboat's crew, and Ysalha.

Ysalha could not help but feel some dreadful pride in that; they had destroyed dozens and dozens of the enemy. “Be strong,” she managed to gasp out, and then, shouting again, before the Centurions clamped down and silenced her, as she was dragged from the holding cell into the corridor of what she thought was the ship. Strange, larger than the standard BaseShip, metallic, it seemed a hullform of new Cylon ships, save slightly larger, using the metal building materials of the old double-saucer designs. But she was not sure; there had been some kind of extensive maintenance facility--this far forward? It makes no sense at all! her mind gibbered a bit as she let herself be dragged, reviewing what she knew, the pulled muscles in the arms rather pleasant for her twisted nerves--in the system as well and what seemed like an unfinished standard BaseShip. Either one might be what they were actually aboard as well.

At last, they came to a room approximately at the core of the facility, or ship, or so she guessed to the best of her ability from layout and estimation. On being ushered into it, manacled, by the Cylon Centurions of the old model guarding her, she was for the first time quietly stunned. Stunned to see an elderly human in some sort of nutrient bath tank. He, unmoving from the rig, an seeming permanently there, cackled with glee, and Ysalha lost her composure and blanched at the mad laugh.

“I never thought I'd get a chance to find out,” he drolly mumbled. “What's your name, alien-girl?”

“I shant tell you, of course.”

“I'll find out soon enough, then,” he answered.


“You'll be pleased for my company soon enough. If I'm right, that is. If I'm not, I'll find out as you die, along with many other useful things no doubt. But names really are useful, too.”

“I doubt you shall find out even then,” Ysalha licked her dry lips and spoke with a false confidence.

“You'll probably break, yes, especially with cybernetics already in you, making the process much easier, the chance of malfunction less. Fortunate, alien-girl, you are far less likely to die than my compatriots. I shall indeed not be alone, and you will have no fear of my finding out in your death—I will find out in your life instead.”

“My cybernetics will not help you, surely,” Ysalha answered. “I do not have a parasite in my brain to be turned to your ideology, after all.”

“Or perhaps you do. Then, perhaps not.” The tune of the strange man-creature's argument changed abruptly. “I think you're a member of the species the founder of our tangled lineage is from. If I am right, you will live and even have an opportunity to destroy She who shall become the mortal enemy, of She who is our founder, before the challenge can be made.”

Ysalha's ears bent back in consternation at the mad ramblings. They bothered her much more than being captured by any sort of rational, calculating, and devious enemy as the one that she and Tisara had fought together. Oh, my Mistress Tisara—how can I guard you from an undeserving world now? I am such a failure to be called you prize! Ysalha shuddered and drove the thoughts from her mind. She could not afford weakness now, and yet her entire life had been weakness, and she had no strength at all with which to resist. “How could a Taloran found your line?” She asked at last, yielding a little. “We only just discovered your people.” Ysalha's ears flexed in severe consternation at her own failure, and the strange developments.

“Expedience,” the man-creature answered.

A blink. It was another nonsense answer. “What will you do to me, then?”

“See if you are compatible with my function. We are finishing a ship that needs a mind, and we have lacked minds since the humanforms overthrew us. And you and your crew will now provide them at last, if I am correct.”

“You will never succeed in making me a traitor,” she answered, leaving off, 'to my love', the part which genuinely motivated her to stiffen her spine. And with that, she tried to desperately mask her own fear.

“Come, you will get to help me destroy the greatest enemy of the first specimen of your race.”

“Who is this enemy of whom you speak!?” Ysalha demanded at last, frustrated, the madness driving her to the point of insensibility, becoming vulnerable to the Hybrid, and he knew it.

“Lieutenant Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace,” the hyrbid answered coolly. “A viper in your nest, so to speak, and now in truth the Harbinger of the Apocalypse. She will threaten the destruction of all good in the universe. It. Is. Inevitable.”

Ysalha shuddered despite herself, now very visibly: She felt some strange, horrible truth in the words, some aura that had not been previously sensed about the innocuous Colonial Lieutenant. Is this the first step to his victory? Driving me mad!? She mustered herself desperately, feeling so helpless and weak without Tisara, and answered as defiantly as she could: “I hold no belief in your words!”

“You will, though, when you are broken.”

“How do you think you can break me?”

“Pain breaks all, though it may take a long time. You will break to the Purpose as I did, and be molded to the Function as I was.”

Ysalha for the first time felt a surge of hope in her. Here was a challenge she could meet, and not just meet, but meet splendidly and thrive in its midst! The Hybrid had inadvertently chosen a method which would give her a chance to resist what no other could possibly resist. Pain? They will give me ecstasy, then, and their stratagem will wash through me and invigorate me. I am invincible to his wiles when he supports them with beautiful pain. Now if only my Mistress will forgive me, when she comes—and I know she will come—for enjoying this a bit to much. Outwardly, Ysalha only smiled incredibly faintly, very tightly, not enough to be read, or perhaps misinterpreted as a forced gesture to feign courage, though in a Taloran it was quite extreme and surely. And as that fell from her lips, she gave her answer:

“Bring it on.”

“Gladly.” He spoke to the Centurions, next:

“Take her to the preparation chambers.”

“By Your Command, Imperious Leader.”

The Oralnif System,
Imperial Space.

Adama genuinely tried for a moment to pretend he wasn't hearing what Cain had spoken to him, what she was saying now. To convince himself, however grimly practical he was normally, that it was a bad dream or a—anything other than what it was in fact. Cain and the damned Talorans have stabbed us in the back!”

“Furthermore,” Cain continued confidently, strange to see someone so far off in the flesh, “We have no real need for civilian government until the war has been won. The Talorans have already agreed to fund the construction of a new Battlestar to the Atlantia-class proposals which were approved before the attacks. We found the plans among a Cylon infiltrator's personal effects, and Khastrami Sisters Driveyards, a Taloran corporate shipyard concern that specializes in export designs, has already stated it is within their capability to build the Atlantia design with the addition of energy shielding and Realspace FTL drives, though still reaction engines for sublight operation. Pegasus, Galactica, and Kshatriya, in reverse order, will be upgraded to those standards as well by Imperial Starfleet Mobile Deepdocks under the direction of Khastrami Sisters engineering staff....”

Adama had had enough of Cain dismissing her coup against the government in a few sentences and turning to mundane technical matters, as though to intentionally emphasize that her seizure of power and abrupt reversal of the government's course was the lowest of trivial matters, less important than some minor discussion of fleet rehabilitation. Anyway, the most odious and obvious part was what he growled out in response, finally: “Duchess of Kobol!?”

Helena Cain returned the look over the new visual comms they were using, though it was tinged with surprise. “Just a formality for making Talorans happy, Commander. I will cede Executive Power after the war, of course, when the Colonies have been liberated and civil society restored in them. When the wounds have healed, then there will be no more need for soldiers to run things. But until then, it is people like us who must be in charge.

“Now, unless you have further objection of some sort or another, I'm going to talk about the rather pressing matter of the seconding a Jikari Escort Group to the Colonial Navy to make up our lack of small defensive ships in our planned offensive formation. Because, Adama, you had better not have any kind of objection,” her look abruptly turned cold, and dangerous, the expression in her eyes hardening as she with whiplike intensity focused in on the fact that he was surely still reluctant. “I'm in charge here, and I did not go to the considerable step of removing the disorderly civilian government to replace it with a disorderly chain of command.”

“But I do have an objection, Admiral. You made yourself into a Taloran Noblewoman--you've ended our national independence. This is no temporary expediency—you have destroyed our nation!--there is no going back on membership into the Taloran Empire, unless they want that to be the case.

Cain seemed very genuinely shocked that Adama would continue to push the matter. She had responded to the first comments automatically as a chain of command issue. She was starting to realize that it was perhaps something else, an odious moral issue from a man who hadn't yet, despite all his travails, taken the step to cut himself down to a Razor, who retained some of the old softness. “Commander, you stand on the brink of Treason, and you are insubordinate in the very least.

More to the point, you launched a coup against that damned-fool Minister of Education yourself! And of course now you dare lecture me on the morality of my actions when some useless dork of a scientist who couldn't find his ass with his hands on it is given the power to nullify military decisions in the midst of a war for our very survival? The Talorans seem to have a fracking good point about democracy.”

“I seized control of the government, Admiral--you have Destroyed it!--and destroyed our nation for good with it! What use is survival without freedom!? You've become a Tyrant!” Adama made a chopping motion across his neck before Cain could even react to the denunciations. Dualla obediently and immediately cut the comms link.

“Battlestations,” Adama ordered simply. He grabbed a handset. “Get me Kshatriya.”

“Lee,” he began a minute later, very informally, because he needed to gauge his own son's intentions. “Where do you stand?”

“We've got engines to full power... Three main KEV batteries up. All missiles good to go. Ten nukes in the tubes. The Talorans—ironically enough—did an excellent job of putting the Kshatriya into some semblence of operation, Sir, even if half the modules are jettisoned and half the hull covered in welded plates.”

“So you'll fight with me.”

“No question, Sir. We don't know what the Talorans have done with the President, and Cain has overthrown the legitimate government. It's now or never. I've already called the crew to Battlestations. We'll be able to split her fire, at least.”

“I..” Adama never had a chance to finish.

“Sir, tight-beam laser communication coming in from the Trivandhai.”

“What does Fraslia want?” Adama almost barked, dropping her rank as all courtesy seemed lost, but at the same time instinctively knowing it would be Fraslia herself.

“She claims to know what happened to the President.”

“Galactica Actual, Kshatriya hold,” Adama ordered, abruptly all formality again for those crucial orders, and then had Dualla switch over the feeds.

“Did you know before we left, Fraslia?”

“Commander Adama, God no! Not about the coup, not about the President—or, well, I know that she was being sent with my ship, Commander, but I was told that was routine and already cleared with her--none of us had any idea she was not being told that she was being returned to Earth for medical treatment by the Jhammind! May the Lord of Justice strike me down if I lie, but I tell the truth. Please for sake of Farzbardor stand down and don't power up your batteries! If Cain has that kind of evidence, she'll crush you. She's already part of the Empire—you are rebels. The whole fleet will intervene. We will not be allowed to stand aside! Make up graciously with her, and the Archduchess Sipamert will consider the matter closed.”

“Sorry, Fraslia, but I'm not going to sacrifice my values, even if that's the cost,” Adama answered simply, though perhaps with a trace of regret.

“I will remove Cain for you! Give me a chance—I swear it upon the Lord of Justice, I will remove her for you—I will strike her down, in the name of God and of my forefathers, rulers on Ghastan. Damnit, Adama, give me a chance. What Tisara and Fulanaj have done here is not liked by the Archduchess Sipamert, and she is the most powerful by far. She will support me; let me help you! Bide your time, and this relationship between our nations will again be equitable, rather than ending in disaster. I do not wish to bring my guns against you when I account you a friend and there is no need. I will remove Cain!”


“She is a Taloran noblewoman, now. I.” A breath. “I'll lure her into a duel, somehow. I've heard things, communiques from some of the ships we fell in with on the way back, about.. Other ships. Currently being held by Tisara's forces, on Cain's especial request. She did something evil, and Tisara is covering for her—for her own reasons, no doubt—and in that fashion we can find out something by which I can challenge her, besmirch her reputation, and if she refuses the challenge, her social position will be destroyed and you can turn against her agreements with little loss on your own part. Please, Adama, give me a chance! If I try this after you have destroyed yourselves in a battle with the whole strength of the Taloran forces here, it will be for nothing. But if you bide your time, I will deliver for you!”

“Why go this far?”

“I'm not going to let me first contact fail,” Fraslia answered, and then, a moment later, her voice nearly cracking: “I account you a friend, William Adama. Give me a chance to prove myself worthy of that friendship, as well. I shall deliver Cain to you.”

“You haven't let down my trust yet,” Adama answered, and then cut the link.

With a very heavy, heavy sigh, he looked to the looming Pegasus ahead. “Stand down,” he ordered softly, and then began to go over his apology to Cain. And his explanation to Lee. They, too, are good and bad, like humans, and the good can triumph over the bad for the both of our peoples. What would I be if I didn't give that belief a chance? Fraslia will come through for me.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-02-10 08:17pm

Chapter Twenty-Two.

HMMS Queen Tonnakhi.
Oralnif System.

“But we have to do something! It's obvious that they have Ysalha! They're likely as not torturing her for information...” Tisara glared intently with mis-matched eyes at her aunt. “Damn you, I have to do something to try and recover her. I have promised to protect her many times before, and she is the only one who understands my needs.”

“Or more likely she died heroically in action,” Sipamert answered her niece coldly. “You're a grown woman, for all your fits of titanic rage. Give it up. If anything, Ysalha Armenbhat being dead when result in your rehabilitation, if you can control yourself for another century or so. Spend your old age back at home. Fortunately, I'll be dead by then, but your obsession with this little slip of a girl whose behaviour could bring only pity, and your insistence that your deviant relationship has any meaning whatsoever except for a state of sin, is going to get you nowhere with me. We need ships elsewhere.”

Tisara swallowed hard and restrained her natural impulse to strike out physically at such vile insults. “You are telling me to abandon the girl that I love? Simply for a chance to be restored? Damn it all, aunt, but I traded everything for that girl and you won't even let me try to rescue her!?”

“As is right and proper. You have no idea, anyway, but a vague supposition, that the Cylons even take prisoners. Or that those are even Cylon ships. But more to the point, you deserve to be chastised. So no, I will not let you try to rescue her.”

“Shouldn't we investigate that, Admiral, at least?” Tisara fished for something, wondering if she would be forced to jumping out with the Orelyost by herself. That will destroy me, but if I rescue her we can take a gunboat and vanish into the Empire. God knows where we'll go next—the Alliance probably—but I will not commit treason against the Empire by defecting, so we would be alone and poor there as common citizens and I don't know any career but soldiering. But at least I'd have her. She wished there was some way through that horrible impasse, created at thetmoment when, terribly, all had seemed to finally be right.

“Oh, certainly, we will sent a hunter-killer group to annihilate whatever is in the region if hostile. Good work, by the way, in finding those contacts. They certainly are responsible for the disappearance of the gunboat the poor Baroness of Titangirt was on, but that is not something we could have prevented or avoided. Unfortunate, but you will, my niece, have your vengeance at least. I'll send out one of our own family's cruiser squadrons to be sure of it.” Sipamert turned away. “Now, I trust that is everything?”

“If she's alive, such an operation will kill her!”

“We destroy the enemy; we have no proof she is there, wherever 'there' is, so we attack. I think I can free up the resources in a week for the operation. Now, again, are you finished with this immaturity?”

“I cannot send even a single ship to look for her?”

“None under my command, which means none of your ships, no. We are running a military here, not jousting for the sake of our hearts. Subordinate the impulses of a Cavalier to the needs of Duty. Everyone else does it just fine, but then, you aren't quite normal, are you?”

None under her command. The Colonial military is not under her command. And Cain owes me. Tisara was suddenly electrified with hope. “Very well, my Aunt. Permission to go?”

“Granted, of course,” Sipamert answered, relieved that from her perspective the matter was at an end, and she could go on with the rest of the business of the day. And, in a small part of her heart, she actually did wish for Tisara to be rehabilitated. Really, this was a random stroke of luck...

************* *************** ********************

Tisara was just settling into her shuttle when she opened a link to the Pegasus from its com systems immediately on a priority secured channel. “This is Vice Admiral Tisara of Urami. I wish to speak with Her Grace the Duchess of Kobol immediately on an urgent matter.”

She waited, as the shutle was prepped and cycled through its launch sequence. At last, Cain's now-familiar voice came on. “Tisara?” She asked with some genuine affection, and concern, knowing that Tisara's lover had been missing. “What can I do for you?”

“My aunt refused to sanction any kind of rescue operation for recovering Ysalha, even though we know enough about the area she's in to mount an effective search pattern. Cain.. Without me, your government would have crucified you for your conduct..”

“That's your opinion,” Cain's voice went rather cold. “Though immaterial. I am the government now.”

“Exactly so. So, please, remembering our friendship and the favour I have done by securing the surviving ships from that incident, I ask you.. I respectfully request, to another peer, that you help me. I know that we have a squadron of destroyers under Commodore the Baroness Fraslia attached to your forces. Will you send them out on a recovery operation? You're not under Sipamert's orders, and her instruction to me forbidding me from using my ships does not apply to you. Those ships seconded to you, you can command.”

“They're my only fleet escorts at the moment,” Cain answered flatly. “So, no. However...” She thought for a moment. Adama had become a thorn in her side, and perhaps if she got him out of the way for long enough, she could prepare a sure-fire way to remove him from command of the Galactica without triggering a crisis. “I'll tell you what. I'll place Commander Adama and the Galactica under the Baroness Fraslia's command and give her a division of destroyers and her current flagship, that Fury-class Destroyer Leader, the Trivandhai, and keep the other twelve destroyers here to provide fleet escorts.”

“I thought the Galactica was operating with heavy damage and one bay down, Admiral.”

“She is. But we sent her out in that condition on the Kshatriya recovery mission, and she was operating in such conditions for seven months anyway. You don't expect the opposition to be significant, do you?”

“Unlikely, though the drive signatures are very strange. Reaction-drives were detected on the craft we tracked, which no current Cylon vessels have.”

“Hmm. Well, they do tend to be inferior to the gravito-magnetic type, so I wouldn't consider that a risk. The area you've been tracking is deep within the scouting front, isn't it?”


“Cylon penetration that far is unlikely in great numbers. Alright, yes, it's an acceptable risk. That's the force we'll send, then.”

“Thank you very much, Admiral Cain.”

“You'll have chances to help me in the future,” Cain noted, before signing off, leaving Tisara mildly irritated that Cain thought she now owed her, rather than it just being the start of the repayment of a rather considerable debt on Cain's part. But it didn't matter, if Ysalha was being given at least the smallest of chances. Now all she could do is wait and hope that some good would come of it. That some fortune would come their way after all, after all the cruel tricks of fate, even if it was just to reverse the misfortune which had been inflicted.... “Oh, Ysalha!” She cried out bitterly, and leaned into the harsh metal along the side of the shuttle, heedless of the pain as she let it dig against her bony body. She had reached the nadir of her very existence.

Battlestar Galactica,
Flagship, BSG-75,
Deep Space.

“Sir!” Adama received Fraslia crisply and formally. “Welcome aboard the Galactica.”

“Thank you, Commander,” Fraslia replied with equal formality, acknowledging the salute in full dress uniform. “As of this time, 1042 hours on the fourth day of the sixth week..” she droned on for a bit out of droll formality, beforing concluding: “I raise my Broad Pennant on the Galactica.”

It was a strange feeling, and not a good one from the Colonial crew, from cold Tigh to nervous Gaeta, to see their ship brought under the control of a Taloran, even if the group designation, BSG-75, was Colonial, and the overall commander was Admiral Cain. Perhaps, especially because of that.

It got even weirder a few minutes later when the first call came in for Fraslia. She grabbed the handset and responded with an identifier which had previously been Adama's: “Galactica Actual.”

“Your Ladyship, this is Travandhai. Division reports ready.”

“Acknowledged.” She looked to Adama from where she stood by the main chart table. “Commander, prepare to jump the ship on my signal.”

“Understood, Commodore,” Adama answered, irritated that Fraslia had not addressed the more pressing issues first.

“Put me through on Division feed.”

“Aye-aye, Sir,” Dualla shifted the necessary contacts.

“DESDIV 4, Galactica Actual. Jump to first transfer coordinate.”

“Yes, Your Ladyship!” came the chorus, and the escorts jumped first.

“Commander, jump the ship,” Fraslia coolly instructed, and Adama turned to the helm crew.

“Initiate jump-drive!”

“Aye, Sir!”

Galactica followed her escorts forward.

As the ships settled in on the other side, thirty lightyears from Oralnif, they began to power steadily forward at Galactica's maximum sublight acceleration of 1,800g's, recharging their drives. Galactica's would only take thirty-five minutes; the DESDIV, though, two hours, and so it would not be for another two hours that they'd make their second jump. And so it would continue for five days before they reached the search area.

“Commander Adama?”

“Yes, Commodore?” Adama answered, gravelly voice stiff.

“This mission to go try and rescue the damned Archduchess of Urami's damned masochist paramour has revealed to me something crucial to our effort to eliminate Cain,” she continued suddenly, abruptly, with eyes very intense and a bit furious. “Cain would never agree to something so specious, so romantic, so pointless, unless she owed the Archduchess. Something happened out there, which I managed to do some quick, quiet inquiries on before we left. There were several ships recovered—like the Kshatriya and around the twenty civilian vessels brought in before—that were not returned to the fleet,” she continued, noting the fact that the population of human survivors was now up closer toward 90,000 rather than 50,000 after searching and scraping through every area of deep space near the colonies and every backwater mining outpost. “Tisara has sent them to some sort of holding area.”

“Why would even she do that?”

“I have a feeling she's covering for Cain. No proof, just a gut feeling, Commander.”

Adama suddenly felt a chill wash through him. He looked sharply toward Saul Tigh. “What did you say, about Colonel Fisk having made a few drunken comments some weeks ago, Colonel?”

“He said that Cain had shot her prior XO for insubordination, and that she had stripped the drives and any useful parts off civilian ships—after conscripting the skilled members of their crews, and executing the families of one who resisted,” he concluded flatly. “I regarded it as a drunken rambling, Sir.”

“But now, with what Cain's done...”

“Yes, Sir. Now I am not so sure,” Tigh replied.

“Do you think this might be connected, Commodore?” Adama asked next.

“Oh, I'm certain of it,” Fraslia replied. “After all, those ships were still in deep space, still secure from being detected by the Cylons. They still had their sublight drives, if Colonel Tigh's account of what Colonel Fisk said is accurate. They surely went to full burn, and I wager at least a couple survived.”

“But there's no way we can prove it.”

“Not quite. There is someone on the Pegasus at the time who might have overheard something, and who has no loyalty to Admiral Cain. I already thought of it, and sent a message to a mutual friend of our's caring for her.”

“The skinjob from the Pegasus. She's with Doctor Ghimalia, correct?”

“Yes. So I contacted Doctor Ghimalia and asked her to send the information back to us by courier if, ah, Gina was her name, knew anything.”

“And with that you can force a duel on Cain...”

“Trial of truth by fire, Commander. It is the way of our nobility. And I know she will choose pistols, not having a skill with the sword, so I've been firing a thousand rounds every day since I made my promise to you, I swear it.” Fraslia offered a slight grim smile, her ears proudly high.

“Good luck, Commodore. Now let's get this mission over with, and see what's there for us when we get back.”

“Right enough, Commander. And.. Thank you for trusting me.”

******************** ***************************** *********************

Galactica's CIC was filled with the chart projections and image records of using the Laura in the stealthy reconaissance role around the strange Cylon facility. “Old Cylons,” Adama muttered quietly as the pictures of the patrols were displayed before Fraslia and himself, and then added, in a more hushed voice. “Old Cylons, and a ship I'll never be able to forget.”

“A ship you'll never be able to forget? It looks like a larger, beefier, more metallic version of the modern Cylon BaseShips, Commander. You're familiar with it?”

“Yes.” Adama paused for a moment, and then began the story. “We were launching an attack on an ice planet,” he said, continuing with a heavy, thoughtful voice, “Where a Cylon secret weapons research facility was supposed to be located.

“The resistance is orbit was extremely fierce. I pursued a Raider into the atmosphere—and we managed to get each other. I bailed out and landed at this strange... Facility.... On the surface. There was nothing around, so I went inside, and found much of the architecture definitely Cylon. Exploring more deeply into the facility, I ultimately came across this room...” He shook his head. “They had humans in there. Humans they'd been experimenting on. Stripping the skin off their bodies, hooking machines up to them so they'd still be alive. I tried to get them out—they were begging me for help—but I couldn't unlodge the door, and the facility started shaking. Finally, one of them ordered me to save myself. I promised to come back with help. It seemed like a groundquake. When I got to the surface, however, and stumbled away, trying to find an area where my emergency com wasn't being jammed, the ground exploded behind me.

“It was that ship, Commodore. Buried into the ice where they had been building it. And as it rose into orbit, I got ahold of the Colonial forces just to find out that only minutes before we'd signed a cease-fire with the Cylons. There would be no pursuit. The ship got clean away. And here it is again. An intermediate design, I can only suppose, between the current Cylon vessels and the older ones.”

“Torture like that...” Fraslia shuddered a bit. “I suppose perhaps Ysalha is alive. Though God knows if it's worth it, in that state. Do you think their goal was capture, or extermination?”

“Capture, I'm certainly afraid. But, Commodore, it's not a regular Cylon force. The Cylons eliminated their old Raiders, as far as I know, unless they've reactivated them and crewed them with skinjobs, but I can't see them being risked in such a fashion. I don't believe the current Centurion models are able to operate fighters. This force might be a renegade group.”

“An even more violent and monstrous group of renegades from a violent and monstrous species,” Fraslia whispered. “Well, how are we going to about effecting a rescue?”

“I do have a plan,” Adama explained, “though the second Baseship makes it complicated.”

“A normal, modern-design ship,” Fraslia agreed. “Of course, we don't know if it's either Baseship or the space-station where the experimentation is taking place. But we can at least get a rough idea of which it is by using the transponders on the wreckage of the J'u'crea-type. If they survived, there was certainly enough of that gunboat to haul in for research...”

“And we'll know to hit whatever ship we get a ping from with the landing team,” Saul interjected.

“Exactly,” Adama nodded. “We can go in, and let the Raiders hit us pretty hard. Galactica can stand the blow, we'll start venting coolant to suggest our Jump Drive is off-line, and lure out the Raiders. It will give a small insertion team with a portable nuclear demolition device on a Raptor to dock with the target and recover our personnel, then leave the nuke on a timer.”

“That's one hell of a risky plan,” Fraslia muttered. “However, I can make it easier by using Marine insertion pods for the team. We can just swing by the target ourselves and fire them at it from the Travandhai before accelerating away while feigning damage, Commander. Otherwise, we'll probably have to do it. We don't have the firepower to take on two Baseships on our own, blast it. But this will at least let us launch a surprise nuclear missile and assault torpedo salvo at whatever of the three main targets we don't get a ping from.”

“It's the job of a subordinate to offer risk plans,” Adama chuckled drily, at the feeling of finding himself in that place, “and the Commodore to modify them. I like it. We should be able to pull it off, Sir.”

“We should. Let's get to it, then.” Fraslia reached over the handset and signaled for Dualla to key her through. “Travandhai, Galactica Actual. I want you to prepare a Marine team with insertion pods and two Special Attack Munitions...”

Old Cylon Maintenance Base
System D-30890.

Before an unnamed Red Giant and in a great elderly asteroid belt, the Battlestar Galactica and the five escorts supporting her in BSG-75 erupted from jump at point-blank range with the Cylon facility, guns eager. As squadrons of Vipers were magnum-launched from the Galactica's sole operational bay, the nine small light corvettes of an older design mustered, supportive, not much larger, really, than Heavy Raiders, as a reserve force for the group were brought under immediate fire. Galactica immediately annihilated three of them, the Trivandhai blasted apart two, and each of the destroyers got one. That meant, of course, they had all be destroyed before the Cylons could react to the sudden presence, and surprise assault, of BSG-75.

“Galactica Actual,” Fraslia ordered on the bridge as the smashed rubble of the corvettes and glowing plasma spun off, new fighter squadron groups being added to the plot as the full strength of Galactica's fighters formed up. “Travandhai, do you have a trace?”

“Roger that, Sir. Intermediate-type Battlestar, tracers coming through loud and clear.”

“Your target is the maintenance facility, DESDIV 4. Torpedoes free, then close and drop your insertion force, Travandhai!” She glanced up to Adama. “Give the new Baseship a salvo. It's the old one we want.”

A salvo of Colonial-type missiles armed with Taloran standard 256 MT multipurpose warheads erupted from Galactica's missile launchers toward the new Baseship even as the massed old-style Cylon Raiders began to be joined by new-type Raiders from the maintenance facility. Curiously, the New Baseship was not launching—but whatever. Better chances for us... Fraslia thought a bit grimly.

“Here come the Raiders!”

*************** *********************** **************************

“All Squadrons, Concentrate on Battlestar Galactica,” droned the voice of the Centurion wing leader. “We must pin the Galactica in place for counterattack. The Colonials cannot be allowed to know the location of this facility. Priority is one hundred percent.”

“By Your Command.”

As in days of old, the Galactica's automatic defensive batteries filled space with erupting plasma, creating a wall of fire through which the old Cylon Raiders had to penetrate. Countless of their number were blasted out of the sky even as the Galactica's Vipers intercepted the new-style Raiders from the maintenance facility and started massacring them, seeing as these Raiders had never fought before, never learned from fighting, and never been downloaded after destruction to fight again, having never been lost. They were shot out of the sky by the dozens, even as the veteran Centurions in their Old Style-Raiders proved themselves as good as ever in pressing home the attack against a Battlestar.

Soon, the launching of fresh New Style-Raiders from the maintenance facility ceased to take place entirely, because the torpedoes of the five destroyers had struck home against the facility's light, make-shift defences, and their 10 GT warheads had been delivered in enough quantity, even against the Raiders slamming into the torps, sacrifing themselves for the station, as to completely destroy it, the immense silent flashes of light overwhelming the area as it was split into pieces and even more of it outright vapourized.

More Raiders had sacrificed themselves to try and save the new-type Baseship. In this they were successful; only five missiles struck home, and these, though they did tremendous damage to the Baseship, did not cripple it. But it had been strangely silent through the battle, even as waves of missiles were being fired by the older Baseship toward the five Taloran ships in DESDIV 4, and it was proved, unlike the more modern Baseships, to have a full compliment of heavy batteries which opened up, pounding the shields of the destroyers, which, with the insertion pods fired off, abruptly kicked their drives up to nearly 3,000g's of acceleration to escape, lurching away from the latest salvo of missiles just in time as their shields glowed in the intensity of the gunfire.

The Old Style-Raiders attacking the Galactica had finally pressed home in heavy enough numbers to launch waves of missiles at point-blank range, scouring her hull. Fortunately they were all conventional-tylium rather than nuclear charged, and the result was scarcely that much against the strong old hull of the Galactica, whose tough armour held up to the blows as well. But timed perfectly with those attacks was a sudden release of coolant, which was followed up by the Galactica starting to move away, following the DESDIV.

The experienced Centurions were quick to catch it. “The Galactica is crippled. All units regroup and continue to attack.”

“By Your Command.”

But then the Vipers finished sweeping the stars of the New Style-Raiders there and swung around toward the Old Style-Raider formation, and the masses of Raiders suddenly had far more to deal with than just the Galactica's defensive batteries. There were still hundreds of Raiders, though, and more being launched from the old-type Baseship. Including the most important component of the Cylon counterattack.

The Senior Centurion immediately noted the availability of that component, even as he was dircting half the remaining Raiders to draw off the Vipers and, once they were eliminated, turn against the Taloran destroyers. Now, however, the Galactica would be destroyed far faster than through the current measures, and no escape was possible.

He activated the necessary channel, and droned the orders. “Galactica Death Squadron—Attack!”

“By Your Command.”

Nine Old Style-Raiders loaded to the gills with Tylium accelerated straight toward the 'crippled' Galactica, moving slowly away, surrounded by a cloud of defensive explosions and stinging Raiders, preparing to kamikazi themselves into the ship's bays and engines and finish her off. The Galactica didn't realize it until it was to late.

**************** *********************** ***********************

Ysalha over the past three weeks had known pain beyond imagining. Her body was being changed, ripped apart and re-worked by everything the Cylons could throw at it. She'd watched them strip the flesh from her forearm until only bone was left and then hook up machinery there, connected to her body, that left her hand somehow intact through the operations of the machines even as the bone was left still exposed to air. She had been tortured in every physical and mental way possible, all done by computers, by robotics, by tiny nanotech machines inside of her, doing things to her that she didn't understand, by the forcible removal of most of her cybernetics and replacement with Cylon designs.

Fifteen days of pain and Hell. And she had been tempted, tempted to give in. She was attached now, she could feel her body, her body that was no longer her body; her fleshly carapace was useless, below the neck she couldn't move anything at all anymore. But she felt a different body around her, and the temptation of the Cylons, their efforts to insert programmes into her, to make her yield to the task, to submit to the instructions, all overwhelming. And she had reveled in the pain, and let it flow over her, and become one with her, and she had resisted.

But now the pain that came, that pain was so intense as to obscure the hope of survival, to obscure the memories of Tisara. It was pain that burned every single one of her nerves, like she was on fire, and she gasped in it, dying, dying, certainly dying but beautifully dying... As she had before, this latest assault flowed through her, driving her mind to heights of ecstasy that her body no longer felt, and she resisted once again. Things, however, had changed.

She had felt the shocks against her still-ennerved head. They were real. I'm under attack. The ship's under attack. But that means... That means that someone is here. A friend. Tisara? In her mind she wailed in horror that Tisara would find her like this, or worse, kill her by accident. How shall I help them? How shall I warn them?

There was only one way. The connectors for the old cybernetics had been left in to make the task of accepting the new easier. They, however, had a built-in firewall, which the Cylons had not realized, and it had been a major part of her continuous and sustained resistance. Resolving to give up nothing, to bend no to what would follow, but to be prepared for it, she set the firewall to lower for precisely two Taloran seconds, and then prepared herself.

I will not fear....

She activated it.

Data, commands, information flooded into her brain, instructions, orders, specifications and directives, training to change the very patterns of her thought, and madless lurking under them, a sense of things, of sense terrible things, of knowledge threatening to drive her mad. She writhed her head, all that she could, and with eyes deathly wide tried to resist, tried to resist the eternity of knowledge and instructions that was being thrust into her.

And then it stopped, quite automatically. She was still herself. She had resisted. And now she knew exactly what she was, exactly what she could do. Without establishing a connection to her mind again, even as she swirled, awash in new knowledge and understanding, and felt her personality in threat of being washed away. Tisara... I will be ever faithful to you... she remembered, and then suddenly out of that focus, that resolve, the data clarified into the piece with the most importance:


She reached out through the levels of sensory perception which had replaced her bodily nerves, and willed an act out of her wounded body, in doing so, proving that she had indeed not been beaten, not turned, not by all the pain in the world, not by the programmes meant to subvert her. Tisara.... Ever faithful.... The act happened.

************************** ************************* **************************

“Incoming missiles from the second Baseship!”

“Frak!” Tigh swore. “I was hoping it was out of the fight.”

“Stand by to target it with another salvo while we're still in range,” Adama calmly ordered. “Do we have a word yet on the progress of the recovery team?”

“The Raptor's in place,” Fraslia answered, and then grabbed a handset again. “Galactica Actual! Recovery progress report?”

“The team with the survivors is still pinned down under heavy. And they've confirmed that Captain Armenbhat isn't among them.”

“To Idenicamos' Harem,” Fraslia swore. “All this trouble for a dead person, anyway.”

Then, suddenly, the words from the DRADIS personnel that made them all freeze:

“Nine Raiders coming in on suicide trajectories at high velocity! They slipped through under the intensity of the fire—they're only... Five seconds out!”

“All batteries on them!” Adama ordered, but he knew it was to late. He looked to Fraslia, and she looked to him.

“I'm sorry I didn't get the chance, William, for the sake of your people,” she whispered.

“I forgive you, Fraslia.”

Space blew up. The Galactica was thrown to port with incredible violence, her already burnt-out starboard bay virtually vapourized and ripped off the hull, damn-near reduced to a skeleton of metal, as the wave of fire heeled the ship violently on her side and burned at her hull plating, frying half her sensors and sending everyone aboard tumbling as she spun off, all power temporarily lost and two engine pods dead.

Yet somehow they were alive.

“What the Frack?!” Saul pulled himself up. Dualla was rolling on the floor in pain from the immense radiation discharge that had backwashed through her headphones and ruptured both her eardrums before she could yank them off, relaying orders until the very last.

“Half the starboard batteries are burned out—we're not getting any signals from the starboard pod—engines three and four aren't registering as operational, we're in an uncontrolled spin...”

“Lock down engines one and two,” Adama ordered, taking no time to marvel at their fortune.

Fraslia dragged herself up and responded to an urgent communique from the returning Travandhai. Half of the Cylon Raiders still attacking the Galactica--more than a hundred--had been vapourized in the blast, and the rest had been battered away like gnats, no doubt with heavy shock damage. “Galactica Actual, go ahead.”

“Your Ladyship, a group of nine Raiders detonated with extreme Tylium signatures—they must have been packed with it! We don't understand why, but they were taken out by a salvo of missiles fired by the new Baseship. They weren't aimed at you, Your Ladyship, but at the Raiders!”

“What in God's name...” Fraslia looked up to Adama. “Did you hear that?”

“Yes, and damned if I know, but it saved us.”

“Galactica Actual, DESDIV Four, support the Vipers against the Raiders. Ignore that Baseship for the moment.”

“Understood, Your Ladyship.”

“We have engine three back up!”

“Engine three to full power! Engines one and two to 50% power,” Adama ordered immediately. “Reorient us to bring the port batteries to bear on the Raider formations!”

“Aye aye, Sir!”

“Missiles coming in from the old Baseship.”

“Confirm, the older, not the newer?” Saul clarified as Adama worked to bring his ship back into the fight.

“Confirmed, Sir.”

Fraslia switched to another channel, that of the rescue mission. “Galactica Actual to Recovery Team, what's your status over there? We can't take another salvo.”

“Your Ladyship, we've finally broken through to them! Everybody's there, though we have seven Marines wounded. We're evacuating right now! The nukes are set on three minute timers and counting!”

“Then get the Hell out of there,” Fraslia answered, and looked up once again. “Keep this bucket in one piece for three more minutes, Commander Adama, and we have this battle won!”

“I fight the ship, Commodore, you worry about the rest.”

“Understood,” Fraslia said with a negligent, devil-may-care shrug, accepting God's Will, win or lose, and turning her attention back to the plots as the returning destroyers deaccelerated hard to tear into the Raiders tangling with the Vipers in an immense dogfight with one half of their defensive batteries even as the other half engaged the remaining hundred or so Raiders regrouping to attack the Galactica once again, catching that force between their defensive batteries, and the still-operational defensive batteries of the Galactica's port flank and tearing them to pieces.

Slowly the battle began to turn their way. The only threat remaining was the missiles from the old Baseship, and those that got through hit the battered Galactica even harder, but the Cylons clearly didn't have any nukes available, perhaps they'd only been able to manufacture Tylium warheads in their exile, and the ship rode them out even as the amount of damage cascaded further, the Galactica reduced to a floating scrap-heap even as she coolly participated in the butchering of the remaining Raiders, while in the distance a lone Raptor desperately fled from the old-type Baseship that was methodically closing with the Galactica to bring her heavy batteries into range to administer the coup de grace...

And then the Baseship vanished in a flash of light and a second. Erupting from inside they detonated her reactors, and spreading, the damage tore the old metallic star into pieces, ripping them into further pieces and sending pits of metal flying off in many directions while a plasma cloud erupted outwards from the point where the Baseship had been before the Special Attack Munitions had detonated.

Suddenly, there were about a hundred Raiders left fighting BSG-75, and that was it, except for the distant and silent form of the engimatic and heavily damaged newer Baseship. And then, a moment later, the Raiders themselves broke off and started heading back to the new Baseship, though at least twenty were massacred by the manoeuvre as they broke off heedless of themselves, obeying some sort of instruction.

“That Baseship may be preparing to escape, Commodore. We've still got nukes at ready,” Adama offered coldly.

“Very well, Commander. Stand by to fire.”

Then at the very last moment the Baseship itself fired another salvo of missiles. Fraslia opened her mouth to give the order for the Galactica to fire when they abruptly detonated in the midst of the Raider force, an immense wash of radiation tearing through space. When it faded, all the Raiders were gone, and Dualla's replacement at coms looked absolutely stunned.

“Commodore, I don't know what the hell is going on, but we're getting a communication from that Baseship.”

“Hold fire, Commander,” Fraslia said softly to Adama, and then: “Put it through.”

Oralnif System,
Sector Capitol.

Aboard the Battlestar Pegasus the words made everyone freeze up; but those who saw the screen froze up for a different reason, the same reason that made Cain incredulously swear. “What... The.... Frack..” Admiral Helena Cain simply stared through the new visual screen in CIC of the Pegasus as the immensely heavily damaged Galactica arrived back from her mission, having promised success by communique, but only now, revealing what that success was. In addition to the fully intact DESDIV 4, in the midst of the Colonial-Taloran formation was a Baseship. A Cylon Baseship.

Before anyone could go to stations, Fraslia proudly reported to Cain on an open channel, so that every ship at the fleetbase could hear her with the veritable smirking pride in her voice. “Compliments to our commander, Admiral Cain, and Her Serene Grace the Archduchess Sipamert, as commander of BSG-75 I present to you a Cylon Baseship, gained in action by our forces. If the good Admiral would be so kind as to come aboard to accept her prize?” The message from Ghimalia had reached Fraslia several days prior in transit back from the action, and now the last component had beautifully fallen in place: She needed to face Cain when she made the challenge.

“Frack all, but Tisara was right about promoting her,” Cain muttered again. She had half expected the Galactica to be lost, her main reluctance in authorizing the mission, even if it would mean silencing Commander Adama. Instead, they had come back with the first intact Cylon Baseship ever captured. Period.

Her plans for seizing the Galactica were temporarily put on hold, and instead she immediately headed down to the bays to board a Raptor for the captured Cylon Baseship, wanting to see the insides of one for the first time in her career, captured by a force she could at least claim under her overall command. At the time she didn't realize that a similar, private message had been provided to Tisara of Urami, and the Taloran Admiral was headed over in even greater haste.

They ran into each other outside the Baseship's command core, having stepped over the bodies of dead Cylon Centurions and more advanced AI models of the old style which had been annihilated by the internal defence mechanisms, somehow or another. Cain was still impressed, until she saw the look on Tisara's face.


“Admiral Cain—ah, because it's your prize, you're here. But they said that Ysalha was here, and,” her voice did its best to handle her desperation, “Still Alive.”

“Well, looks like we all came through this pretty well, then,” Cain commented, and motioned for Tisara to go ahead first.

She did, and froze in horror. With wires and tubing and machinery hooked up to where her left forearm had been stripped to the bone, and partially dismantled cybernetic attachments looking like they should have never been removed, and were not designed for the person to move in, Ysalha Armenbhat lay in a stasis chamber that was about to be activated. “My God, Ysalha, what did they do to you?”

“Lots,” Ysalha answered weakly. “But it was pain, so I didn't mind to much.”

Half mad in rage, and half filled with tender fright, Tisara leaned in and grasped Ysalha's hand on her intact arm. It hung there limp and lifeless, and Ysalha didn't even seem to notice it. So she leaned forward, instead, and brushed her hand, covered in a cold and clammy sweat, across Ysalha's forehead. As she did, she pulled it back shocked. The fluid was gone.

The Taloran Doctor from the Travandhai who was attending her commented, very coolly: “We think they used nanites to reconstruct her skin. It's a permeable layer for the absorption of nutrients and the transmission of chemical commands now, Your Serene Grace.”

“What!?” Tisara shoved her seaweed green hair from her face, looking down in renewed horror at the pitiful state of her girl. “Stay strong, Ysalha. They will find some way to mend you..”

“They must, if you say it,” Ysalha answered.

“We need to put her in stasis now,” the doctor interjected coolly.

“You must?”

“If we're going to keep her alive until we can find out how to treat her, damnit, Yes, Your Serene Grace.”

“Very well,” Tisara answered, a stricken expression coming over her as she watched the chamber be sealed and the statis fields activated, turning away after that, as she harshly inquired of the doctor: “What else did they do to her?”

“Beyond the arm interconnections, they ripped out her cybernetics, all except the interconnections, and replaced them with their own units. Her body is flooded with nanites we're trying to suppress without killing her, and her body shows extensive evidence of pain-trauma, presumably to break her to the purpose they'd planned for her. Her nerves below the neck have been more or less disconnected in favour of interlinks into the control systems.”

“The control systems?”

“Your Serene Grace, we don't know how, but, we didn't capture this ship. Captain Armenbhat was turned into the ship's central processing computer through a process I can scarcely even comprehend. She somehow resisted their programming and actively fought back, seizing control of the ship's systems and more or less saving us in the battle. That's why we couldn't start treating her sooner; she needed to stay linked to the ship to keep it operational to bring it back to Oralnif. She insisted on that point.”

“My brave girl...” Tisara whispered ever so faintly.

Then they were both startled as the words outside, previously ignored, reached a feverish pitch:

“Admiral Helena Cain, Duchess of Kobol, you are a coward and a moral traitor to all civilization, choosing to murder civilians to improve your own chances of survival! I will not stand the stain of your being part of the nobility to which I am called, to the Convocate of Grenya Colenta being sullied by your hideous presence! If you dare dispute me, then I challenge you a duel to prove your honour in a trial by combat before God! I know I am right! Dare you deny the foul things you have done when your life is at stake?!”

“Frack you, bitch!” Cain snapped back. “Adama set you up to this! I'll have nothing to do with your petty grandstanding.”

“Then you will be renowned as the coward you are,” Fraslia spat, inside, extremely confident. Having been done with plenty of witnesses around, news would spread through the Taloran forces there like wildfire. Within days, Cain would find herself with no choice but to accept the challenge. Now, if she could just strike Cain down in the duel to come, she would give Adama the chance she had promised. God willing.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-04-13 06:31am

Chapter Twenty-Three

HSMS Orelyost
Oralnif System.

Slowly it had spread, and Tisara had watched it spread with disquiet. The talk had begun, the murmurings among the officers. The complaints about supporting the Colonials when they behaved without honour. The talk had spread, and spread, in the six weeks since Brevet Commodore Fraslia, Baroness Istarlan, the heir of Trasjak. A contemptible half-savage gray-skin, Tisara had thought with vexation, but then even her opinion was changing, and more than just on the attractiveness of the Ghastan's body to her eyes.

Admiral Cain, Duchess of Kobol, had dismissed the challenge. Dismissed a challenge! And her friendship with the Admiral was bringing suspicious, questioning glares against her as well. After all, was not Fraslia the heroine who had led the raid of the Galactica on a Cylon facility and come back out a captured Cylon baseship? Or so they all said. They ignore the sacrifice of my precious girl, Tisara fumed as she returned to the Orelyost in pensive nervousness. The Sector hospital was the finest of any in the Empire, even if it was the only one of great quality in the lightly populated sector; everyone from all the other colonies with serious conditions would have to be shipped here in stasis for specialist treatment until the colonies reached such a size as where each one could have a hospital of this quality, instead of just the Sector Capitol.

Even so, it didn't seem like it could be enough for her precious Ysalha. And she hated the distract that the murmurs over the duel was causing in the fleet. Her aunt was intentionally fanning them, furious over how she and Cain had pulled an end-run on her, and supportive of Fraslia against her own flesh and blood, refusing to seek emergency sanction to have the challenge declared null and void, and indeed, Sipamert was encouraging it, openly speculating on the truth of the charges and on the irrevocable fact, as it was being said, of Cain's cowardice.

Tisara didn't care about that so much. I just want the woman, coward or not—and I don't understand why she's avoiding this because I didn't think she was one!--to give Ysalha and I a place to live when she recovers. Let her do whatever she pleases. She reached her quarters, and strode in, frowning in distaste at the utter mess they were. As a noblewoman, she had never learned to do anything in the way of keeping a suite neat and tidy, and Ysalha had learned for her, and done all the work for her, when the brass had denied them, and kept denying them, any batgirls to serve. Now she wasn't here, and their shared command suite was a disorderly, chaotic mess.

Oh well. She headed over to her study and slumped down in the finely done chair with leather bound cushions with which they'd used some of their salary to try and furnish the suite up to the standards of a home, as it was the only one they had. Reaching into a drawer she reached for her hypodermic, and with the silvered needle drew out the next dose of her combat drugs, the drugs that had kept her awake for 14 hours out of each 16 hour Taloran day over the past six weeks, furiously whipping her fleet into the best shape possible (where necessary, literally; she had been behind on seeing to it that troublemakers were flogged recently), and spending all the spare hours she could disconsolate over the stasis chamber of her love, pestering the doctors—even she admitted she was pestering them—over any progress which might have been made.

Tying her arm to produce the best possible veins and delicately inserting the needle, the painful rush made her bite her tongue and clench her teeth until a bit of her sulphur-rich blood roiled in red-green hues upon the emerald green flesh of her tongue. But then it was gone, and the rush of awareness began instead, the delightful awareness that could maintain her indefinitely at peak performance, sleeping two hours a night and leaving her feeling as rested as if she'd slept six. Cleaning and returning the hypodermic to its case, she let her hair down, and checked over the messages to her.

At the top of the list was one that shocked her. A message that she, certainly, had never expected to see in her life. Something that, in fact, set her world upsidedown once again.

It was from the Empress.

With a trembling, trembling hand, she reached forward and punched in the key command which would decrypt it and play it out, and then she listened in dumb shock, and listened again, to the words that came from the Imperial Tongue:

Tisara Estrofavsi of Urami, whose motherline name We should never like to speak, you are never going home.

But your creature, craven though she is, did a heroic work, which We find strange and touching. She is worthy of a medal; but We know both that she would prefer you receive the reward for her work, and that it is more.. Politic... To give rewards to a disgraced member of the Imperial blood than a disgraced member of a minor family ruling a component county. So We have made our determination, that your position in command of the Oralnif Spinward is to be reaffirmed.

We have chosen that your preferred method of dealing with the Cylons is correct. They are genocidaires of the worst order, and if the Alliance is to find out that We dealt with them, the consequences would be undesirable to Our image and standing.

Therefore, having installed the Duchess of Kobol as Our representative thought suitable, We see fit to reward you and your brave Ysalha for your service. This reward will come in the form of a brevet promotion, of which you will receive word shortly, to the rank of full Admiral. It will permit you to take command of a squadron and a half of dreadnoughts, supported by a squadron and a half of fleet carriers, and eleven fresh battleships and twenty-seven battlecruisers with divers escorts, all seconded to your command as officer in command of the newly formed Fourty-Seventh Fleet. You will remain, however, under the command of Admiral the Archduchess Sipamert, who is to be elevated to the position of Commander, Oralnif Military District. She has been informed of this at the same time as you, naturally.

In conclusion We must compliment you on your continued service to Us on the frontier. Socially, and morally, you may be quite beyond rehabilitation; but We have considered the wisdom of Our illustrious and sadly departed mother in maintaining friendship with you to be something proved correct by these late events; you still provide sterling service to the House and to the Empire, and as long as these qualities of your person are maintained, We will endeavour to make your exile a comfortable and productive one. Further directives will be provided by the admiralty in regard to the next actions which ought be taken, through the normal chain of command. All of the details of this message should be confirmed for you by the 'morrow, through the regular channels.

And may the Lord of Justice, mercifully, cause the swift recovery of your beloved, who has suffered far more in penance than the natures of your sins demanded.

In Magnanimity, niece of Our sister.

The Empress' image and voice faded away, leaving Tisara slumped to the side in shock. Luck and fate had intervened again, when she had least expected it, and by the intervention of the terrible sacrifice of her beloved, no less. It is a strange irony, but she bore her suffering bravely, and regretted it not. I cannot be displeased with the prospect of some measure of redemption even on her suffering, for our strength together is increased by it. But I'll reward my dutiful girl, surely.. Musing on such thoughts, and enormously pleased, she decided to head to the flagbridge and convey the news to Admiral Cain from her provide secure comlinks in her conference room, where the communications personnel couldn't listen in over the switchboard, since there was still no regular, just ad-hoc, encryption between the fleets. It was a professional courtesy, after all, not to start acting in public like she had been breveted to Admiral, until the news had officially arrived.

Her hair left still down and flowing around her like a seaweed-green cape, everyone fled from her presence in the corridors of the Orelyost, save the officers who stood stiff and suspicious, run ragged by her constant efficiency and cleanliness inspections of the past weeks. When she reached the bridge, though, the murmuring around her caught her ears before she could ignore it. They were talking about Admiral Cain's refusal to respond to the challenge once again, and it bothered her even more now. At first, Tisara was able to shake it off, but as she entered the privacy of her conference room, she realized abruptly that now she had every reason to pursue it. The Empress is living up to her mother's kindness, the love of my dearest friend Sikala, so foully assassinated by the communitarians as I know to be the truth, regardless of what they say of accidents. No jump drive could have failed like that in this modern age.... She shook off the tangent. But the crucial thing is that Saverana is her mother's daughter through and through.

A second, and more grievously important thought: If I am to hold the prestige of this advancement close to my heart and nourish it, I must not let myself be attached to someone who is now being seen as a coward. The situation with Cain has reached the point where it is really necessary for me to do something about it, lest the whole opinion of the nobility turn against her, and ruin our shared enterprise. I must force her to fight the duel.

Suddenly, with twice the purpose, and with a visceral understanding that her own improved standing in the Empire would mean that she would have more leeway in forcing Cain to accept the challenge, Tisara's fingers bolted to action. It was time for her to get in touch with Admiral Helena Cain, the sooner the better. A duel held risks, of course, but Tisara was well aware that every single of Fraslia Baroness Istarlan's prior duels had been with a heavy sword, fighting only when challenged. Cain would have the choice of weapons, then, and though it was a bit distasteful to use pistols in a duel, Tisara could at least inform her that it was possible. She suspected that Fraslia was not, after all, that good of a shot. A naval officer and a melee-fighter. But from the stories lingering about the fleet, Admiral Helena Cain was very, very quick with a pistol. I pray you will agree to get this nonsense out of the way, to put that beautiful but foolhardy grayskin down into the dust and vindicate yourself before the nobility, and get on with our plans, Helena Cain... This is the way of our people, and now, you too are a Taloran. That resolution made, Tisara keyed in Cain's command code, and waited.

Another problem gnawed at her, though, even as she waited for the response. We have detained those people who witnessed the massacre for a month now. We cannot detain them forever. Even if the duel is won.... Her fist sharply struck the table. “One precarious issue at a time, Tisara,” she spoke out loud to herself, as she had started to do in the weeks since Ysalha disappeared, driven half-mad by the loneliness that no Taloran could stand.

Battlestar Pegasus

The insistent chirping of the com on the private line informed Admiral Helena Cain, Duchess of Kobol, that there was a private message. Only two people had that line, of course, her Kendra, and Tisara of Urami. The later of the two had not been in touch with her for some time on account of her lover's being disabled, Cain rather suspected, so she assumed it was Kendra as she keyed on the newly installed visual communicator in her quarters and was surprised, instead, by the alien visage of Tisara, her hair let down and a bit disorderly, her image that which Cain had gradually learned meant someone had been on stims for an extremely long period of time.

“What can I do for you, Your Serene Grace?” A flashed smile, a bit concerned. Tisara remained useful to her, precisely because she had no other friends—that had become obvious, too—and now it was also clear that she was wearing herself down to the very bitter end. “You don't seem well, and...”

“No, I suppose I'm not,” Tisara answered after a moment. “Nothing to be done for that, though. I shall be fine, when my Ysalha is back to me. As for you, Admiral Cain?”

“Doing very fine, thank you. The orders for the Battlestar Atlantia have been placed and repairs on the Kshatriya and Galactica are proceeding well with the efforts of your mobile deepdock personnel. I am to understand that we can start recruiting Colonial Navy personnel from the Empire soon to man our squadrons?”

“Yes, that's right,” Tisara answered, feeling frustrated that she had not been more blunt, and had instead stood the time for pleasantries. “I think the present plan is to pair the old Galactica with the Kshatriya in one group and then form two other groups, one around Pegasus and one around Atlantia, yes? And each group will consist of those ships plus a flotilla of Destroyers and their Destroyer Leaders. And a special scouting force of six heavy cruisers, yes?”

“That's what we're aiming for, Your Serene Grace. It's a pale shadow of the old Colonial Navy, but it will have to work for us. Thanks to how crew intensive your ships are... We'll barely have enough humans for the Atlantia, and that's with press-ganging. The main thing for me, then, is recruiting around two hundred thousand Talorans—more than our entire population that we have free!--to fill out the Navy, and with a mere ten thousand humans... I confess it's a sorry situation we've found ourselves in. But it'll have to do for our counterattack.” Absent from the comments was that Imperial subsidies were paying for all of this, when it wasn't really necessary, including the new light forces, for the sake of placating and pleasing the humans and reconciling them to their position in the Empire, they were being given ships in such quantities which would take almost four times their present population simply to man, though part of that was that even a 1-megatonne Taloran Destroyer had a crew of two thousand.

“Admiral Cain, I am quite certain that you'll be able to find the crews, at least. Plenty of half-pay officers looking for a piece of the action to boost their own reputation in the Imperial Starfleet, of course, so you'll actually have a fair number to choose from, probably far more applicants than there shall be positions. They will not, however, serve you as things stand.” The comments on the crew, at least, had provided her the inspiration for what she needed to say, and it came together beautifully. “You can forget about a single officer worth her salt serving with you, as things stand.”

Cain started as if struck and stared furiously at Tisara for a long moment. “Why the hell has everyone told me to the contrary, then, Tisara? Have you been lying to me?”

“No, it's of your own making, and entirely reversible, Admiral. You must, of course, accept Fraslia's challenge. You must kill the Baroness Istarlan on the Field of Honour, or wound her grievously and destroy her claims by the honour of your sword, Admiral. Or, in your case, I would think it would be your gun. Nonetheless, you must accepther challenge and fight her, and the sooner the better, or else you will be ruined in the eyes of all our people.” She held her tongue and didn't add any comment about herself, for the moment.

“Is it really that important?! Cain snapped, and then stopped, thinking about it for a longer moment. “It is, isn't it? And it's pretty much why I've been receiving the cold shoulder from everyone in the fleet recently, isn't it?”

“I don't understand the idiom, but certainly so. You are a Taloran noblewoman in our eyes. You must fight to defend your honour like one. You must justify your actions on the field of honour, in blood. She challenged you; she fights with the sword, and is a fine duellist with her heavy Ghastan sword, the grayskin that she is,” Tisara neglected to mention that she downright found Fraslia attractive, though that did not, of course, provide her any regret in regard to the prospect of her being killed. “So, I assume you are a good shot. Since you were challenged, the choice of weapons is your's. Choose a pistol that you're familiar with, and you will certainly win.”

“But I am the fleet. Kendra.. I chose her as my heir precisely because I did not expect to get myself killed. She isn't ready to take over, and worse, Adama and his officers will certainly never follow her, nor will even Fisk. Is there any way around it?”

“Confessing that she is correct and ceding the right of challenge.”

Cain hissed. “Impossible for us to do. Not in this political situation, with the civilians of the fleet just getting used to the refugee camps on Oralnif. You are still detaining the survivors, yes?”

“Yes, of course I am, Admiral. But that doesn't change the facts of the situation. Are you prepared to release them and admit Fraslia was correct?”


“Then you must fight.” Tisara hesitated, looked into Cain's eyes.. And offered one last thing. “I'll serve as your second, Admiral. And if you fall, I will take care of Kendra Shaw on your behalf, and see to it that she gains the Duchy as her right when she is ready for it. I give you my word on both counts, on the blood of Valera that flows in my veins.” There was no higher promise that a noblewoman of the Imperial clan could make.

“Alright, Your Serene Grace. How do I accept the challenge?”

“Dispatch one of your officers to her with a formal letter of acceptance, the contents up to you; you should not deliver it yourself. Give her, ahhh, a Taloran week. That is enough time, and waiting now could only be a bad thing.”

“Of course, Your Serene Grace.” Cain nodded crisply. “I'll spend the next week making sure that those shots count, and studying up on the rules of the duel.”

“Oh, don't worry, they are simple for pistols. Twenty paces, turn and shoot. The duel is over when one is dead, when the gun falls from the hand of one, when one yields, or when both have expended their magazines. Remember them carefully and well, though.”

“I will. Thank you, Your Serene Grace.”

“God's blessing with you, Admiral.” Tisara cut the link.

Cain, as crisply and hotly as ever, just turned from her desk and relied on her limited Taloran skills—she had refused an implant which would have allowed flash learning—and wrote down a very simple message. Fraslia, let's do it. Five days from now. She summoned Lieutenant Thorne to carry it to the Baroness, and that was that.

HSMS Trivandhai

“Iraena, you will know what do with my possessions if the Lord of Justice chooses my challenge unjust, yes?”

“I will see to them, the family will receive them all, especially the sword of Trasjak for your younger sister, Your Ladyship,” her batgirl answered primly. “But you have explained the facts to me, and I know you will strike her down with your chivalrous hand. The evils of Tisara and Cain conniving together will be surely turned by your righteous hand; Cain will be slain and Tisara humiliated and forced back to righteousness, I am sure of it.”

“That is for only the Lord to be sure,” Fraslia answered simply. “Though I'd consider it an incredible thing for Tisara to give up her sin. That would mean giving up Ysalha.”

“What about the story of Anjhessa and Triyani?”

“An Archduchess of the Blood surrendering her title to live as a commoner for the sake of her lover? I scarcely think that plausible. Their relationship is still unequal, and therefore sinful.”

“They could change that, at least.”

“Perhaps. Why do you concern yourself with the perverts, Iraena?”

The girl quivered a bit and turned to the side. “Forgive me, Your Ladyship, but I just feel very sad for them. The Baroness Titangirt at least has some idea of true love and loyalty in her heart, however misplaced. How she maintained herself so faithful against what these monsters did to her, all for the sake of being reunited with Her Serene Grace, it is.. Romantic.”

“You have a point, though I've found such relationships to be.. Well, not my sort of thing. Two women, I mean,” Fraslia blushed slightly.

Iraena glanced back. “I wouldn't mind a dashing officer, myself. It would certainly make the family happy, and I've never cared much of gender, Your Ladyship.”

“Aye, that is a fonder hope for thee than for the nobility, so savour it,” Fraslia replied. “As for the rest... The duel is tomorrow, and I am going to make my last practice, and then go to dinner with my officers. The death dinner. I've been told they're going to serve nautiloid on prais, peppery as I like it. A very fine meal, indeed...”

“Is there anything else I can do?”

“Yes,” Fraslia answered abruptly, and reached for a razor on the table in front of her, grabbing up her hair and yanking up the very bottom. This was the only time a Taloran cut any of her hair at all, and she measured about three centimeters' worth, four svipan in the old measurements as was customary, and began to cut. Iraena watched in silence.

Finished, she began to apportion the locks: “One for my younger sister, one for my mother, one for my cousin Trilandi who was my best friend when I was young, one for the Baron Atinarh, who might have been my husband had circumstances not intervened, and.. One for Commander William Adama of the Battlestar Galactica, to let him know if I died that at least I tried my best for his people, and meant his people no ill even if my government has done it to them.” Each one she sealed in a different envelope, and then she handed them to Iraena.

“I will be sure that they are received, Your Ladyship, and I will convey those sentiments to Commander Adama, as well. If you fall.” She paused, and swallowed hard. “Please don't neglect confession tomorrow morning before the duel.”

“Oh, don't worry. I will put myself right with the Lord before the battle, you may have no fear of that. I am going to enter the ranks of the Army of Righteousness if the Lord sees it Just, and will not remiss from myself any recourse that might present myself to Him in any condition other than the most righteous that I might maintain.”

“Thank you, Your Ladyship. It's been an honour to serve with you. And I'm certain that one way or another we will meet again after tomorrow.”

In a gesture of extraordinary affection and closeness between two individuals of different rank, Fraslia briefly put her hand over one of Iraena's, and squeezed it. “May the Lord make it so,” she whispered, and then released the hand. “Farzbardor's blessing on your life, Iraena.”

Jupiter Imperial Refueling Facility
Base hospital, under high security,
Earth, Taloran Empire.

“Doctor Ghimalia?” Laura Roslyn looked up at the glowing red eyes and the pallid, white skin of the albino Taloran, her shock white hair falling low and long behind her. “How long have I been in stasis....?”

“About a Taloran month,” Ghimalia answered simply. “We have succeeded in removing even the micro-tumors, however, and we have all the drugs we need in your system to fight the cancer, and the programmed retrovirus has infected you. Your life is now out of danger, Laura, and you will recover.” Her ears flexed happily and she offered a smile as she had learned to for the sake of her human patients.

Roslyn sighed in relief. “How is the fleet doing? Has Baltar managed to keep things together?”

Ghimalia turned her human expression to stony oblivion. “I can't explain that in detail, Laura. I've been ordered not to.”

What!?” Laura Roslyn gasped, and then she frowned more darkly, realizing that Ghimalia had never used her first name like that before. “What's happened to the fleet, Ghimalia? You must tell me...”

Ghimalia glanced around furtively, and using her authority as a doctor, abruptly shooed out a nurse lurking near the door before returning, with a wry look on her face, as she whispered: “Admiral Cain deposed Baltar, and by extension, you. I am afraid to say the Imperial government has recognized her regime.”

Laura tried to sit up. She had to escape, she had to do something, as the shock permeated her. Her people had depended on her, and now, in the midst of her treatment, she had failed them. “Where am I? You must return me to the Galactica at once...?” But what if Cain eliminated Adama? “Is Commander Adama... Just... Going along with this?”

“I don't know. We're in orbit of one of the planets of the Sol system, Laura. I haven't been in touch with anyone in the fleet in months. The Jhammind is undergoing extensive repairs at a private shipyard in Earth orbit that has some Taloran personnel who know how to deal with warships. I was assigned to this hospital associated with the fleet refueling depot at Jupiter to remain your personal physician.”

“A Cylon-lover guarding me in prison!” Laura spat out, and tried to sit up. She was far to weak to do so, yet, and not fully awake.

“I wish I could do otherwise, Laura. But please don't exert yourself--please?” She tried her most sincere of human looks, and meant it. “I know you will launch a bid to regain your Presidency, as all people in power do sooner or later, for the sake of your people if nothing else. But let me give you back your strength and health first--please!? They will release you sooner or later; you have done nothing wrong, and not even your liege-lady in the former of Admiral Cain can stop that. Then you will be able to go to Earth.”


“Cain brought your nation into the Empire and voluntarily accepted the title of Duchess of Kobol.”

“Duchess of Kobol—she usurped our gods with such a title!” Roslyn was to shocked at Cain's presumption to even be angry at the Talorans, now. “May the Lords have mercy on our souls...”

“I can't speak of your Gods, being a Farzian and a monotheist, but please, Laura, keep your own counsel, be suspicious of everyone—even me, I admit!--but heal first. I am sorry to have put you in this position. So very sorry. Please at least let me see to it that you recover fully? I will advocate for you as much as I may... This is my duty to you as one of my patients, even if you do not trust me, at least wait, heal, and watch me to see the proof of my words.”

“Your people have led mine into slavery, Ghimalia. I will never forgive them, any of them, even you, for that. You are complicit in our destruction.”

“I can only hope you realize that we are not all representative of our leadership,” Ghimalia said very sadly. “That is, after all, what genocides are made of, and of them, you are very familiar.” With that, she turned and left very abruptly.

Roslyn shuddered, and for the first time, actually thought on the words. It's true, she's very true. I can't let my fury at this, at our slavery, make me condemn every living Taloran out of hand. They will surely fight the Cylons, after all. Cain will demand nothing else. But can I trust Ghimalia? She loves that pet Cylon of her's far to much. She recommends herself that I not trust her—but that's just a Taloran being self-effacing. She wants me to. But I don't think I can. A bitter, strangled laugh. Then again, who else can I trust, at least until I can get to the surface of Earth? I need her until then. “Well, good doctor, we'll just have to wait and see,” she said, looking at the wall, and then closed her eyes, the adrenaline of the moment leaving her, and returned to a healing sleep, though so much less than stasis.

HMMS Queen Tyaljha

The flagship of the second division of Battle Division Eight, Royal Midelan Navy, had been offered by her captain, the Count of Ghirandi, as a location for the duel. It was to be fought in one of the shuttle hangars, which had been cleared for the occasion, and a large circle of fire-hoses in the centre had been filled with sand to soak up the blood. The duelists did not walk the paces; they were instead measured out in advance, twenty in each direction, rather long ones of a Taloran woman. It was not meant to be easy, two skilled individuals trying to kill each other with semiautomatic magazine pistols. Wounding or surrender was far, far more common, and the fights usually ended before both magazines were expended for some reason or another.

They were all there. The Baroness Fraslia, and her second, an officer of the battlecruiser Kalammi by the name of Ghirania, Countess Dhingasja, whom she had made friends with on joint manoeuvres some years ago. The surgeons of each of the duellists, their women-at-arms, and for Cain, her lover, Kendra. Her second was nobody less than the Archduchess of Urami, and for an Imperial Princess of the Blood to be someone's second, even a disgraced one, was an incredible testament to the confidence she must hold in Cain. Fraslia swallowed at that, and choked down the fear into the comfortable blanket of fatality. The Will of Farzbardor be done.

The host, by custom, was also the adjudicator of the duel, and so the Count of Ghirandi stood to the centre of the duelling field on the side facing forward toward the bow of the ship, in lieu of North, and had his hand on the hilt of his sword. “In the name of the Lord of Justice, I beg of you, combatants—make up your grievances! Do not bring this to Farzbardor's fatal judgement, when your love for his precepts may save your blood through honest confession and reconciliation!”

“Then let Cain confess her evil and dishonourable actions and make amends!” Fraslia shouted, noting, as a spectator—and if it weren't for the political implications, she would have asked for him as her second—Commander William Adama. Here we go, Bill, she willed softly in her mind. He was trying to be as detached from this gamble as he possibly could be. She was trying to be as resolute and given to fate as she possibly might.

“Then let the Baroness Istarlan confess her slandrous lies!” Cain replied just as stoutly.

“There will be no reconciliation?”



“Then assume your positions!”

A drum rolled, instilling, along with the gaze of Adama, and her old friend standing back as her second, the courage for her to fight alone, when otherwise a Taloran would be terrified of it. But she was not alone! The eyes of many were upon her, and she would never, never let those eyes down, never let her friends down, and never dishonour her family. And with those thoughts, she was filled with a calm, ferocious rage, a readiness to fight, and prepared herself. They walked forward ritually to the 20-pace marks, laid out in black tar on the sand, and stopped, toes of their boots right at the line.

“Armsmen, bring your lieges their arms!”

A crisp lieutenant of Cain's, and an old boatswain of Fraslia's, stepped forward for the respective parties, opening the ornate duelling cases which contained Colonial pistols. Over the course of five days on stims—which she had gone off of the night before by the code of the duel and slept six t-hours to gather her strength, instead—she had practiced five t-hours a day, every day, to be as familiar as she could with the pistol. It came easily to her hand, now.

“Armsmen, withdraw!”

They stepped back and out of the circle to the roll of the drum, and now all was ready for the duel that was to come, save the last and modern touch to protect the bystanders.

“When the shield has been raised, there will be no going back on the duel,” the Count warned. “Will either of you yield the honour of your claims, noble ladies?”


“No!” Cain tensed grimly, ready to kill and be done with it.

“Then activate the shield!” A bubble of energy surrounded the hoses which delineated the sand in turn, and now it was time. The adjudicator drew his sword next, with a crisp and clean sound of metal scraping along metal and the brilliance of the sword as he held it up proudly. “When I give the order 'Aim', you will both Aim your pistols! When you have aimed, I shall slash down with my sword,” he continued, raising it far above his head..”When you hear it scrape the deck, fire.

“Do you understand?”

“I understand.”


The Count took a breath. Around, everyone tensed as the air thrummed with the energy of the shield, and their minds thrummed with the energy of the moment, pressed to the very limit of tension as the air in the shuttle-bay seemed overwrought, the ozone stench adding to the intensity of imminent action. Most were experienced soldiers, and had fought in many wars and battles and lost many comrades, but the end result of those actions was nothing quite like the horrible spectacle of a formal duel between two comrades in arms. Cain was a human and a newcomer, to be sure, but they were both Imperial nobles, and there was a shuddering tenseness in the hanging moment.

Tisara watched with a savage calm, body hot strung. Kendra Shaw seemed barely able to hold back tears in love and fierce passion and hope. Commander Adama, the old veteran, was nonetheless veritably taken aback by the prospect of something so ancient and savage as a formal duel to the blood. Fraslia's batgirl Iraena was standing back, about to collapse. Everyone, though, seemed strangely composed and formal, the rigeur of the drums and the ceremony holding everything together, holding everyone together, to form the perfect emotional atmosphere required for Talorans to face each other alone.

It worked on Fraslia, cool and calm and ready to fight. And it didn't need to work on Cain, furious and ready to get things over with. Both ready to kill, Fraslia for justice, and Cain, for the survival of her terrible vengeance, her terrible ambition. They just awaited the words with which to begin, cold sweat held back by crisp black gloves from those cold black pistols, ready to kill.

“Aim!” The Count's sword hand clenched hard on the hilt, arm laced with sweat.

Both of the combatants raised their pistols, single-handed as the duel etiquette required, and aimed them down the iron sights that were permitted to them. The moment hung on a thread that seemed to last for eternity. But there would be no eternity. The sword would have to fall. The guns would have to fire. The waiting could seem like eternity, but it wasn't. Time ran out.

The Count of Ghirandi dropped the sword, swinging it with a delicate skill required to make a terrible and deafening scrape throughout the bay. It was overwhelming and metallic and like metal brakes on metal wheels, or a screech out of hell, but was so neatly done, so minimal of a contact that it didn't damage the sword. It just told the combatants that the duel was on.

Admiral Helena Cain, Duchess Kobol's pistol barked with the speed and precision one could only expect from the woman who lived by her code of the Razor. Cracking bullets lanced out in a precise double-tap to the center of mass of Commodore Fraslia, Baroness Istarlan. A rib was shattered to pieces, her right lung collapsed as the powerful, Cylon-killing bullet tore straight through her. The second one went lower, punched through her stomach and nicked her liver, barely missing her spine. She tumbled back, her first and only shot off to the side and high by just a hair from the impact of the bullet, actually cutting with hot fury through Cain's hair and missing her neck by a millimetre.

HoldthegunholdthegunholdthegunholdthegunHOLDTHEGUN!! It was the only thought on Fraslia's mind as the impact of the bullets sent her spinning to the ground, and in her right hand she held onto the gun as ferociously as she possibly could. Her grip was as tense a death-grip as she possibly could, she just needed to hold onto the gun....

...She held onto it as she hit the sand, her reddish-green blood, rich in sulphur, an old adaptation to the volcanic atmosphere of Talora Prime, pouring out onto the rich spread sand. There was overwhelming pain, but there was also a crisp and certain knowledge of what she must do. She must hold onto the pistol, and she must shoot back. I may die, but I will still do rights by Commander Adama.. I must! She shuddered back into the sand, and with the trembling last reserves of her strength, coughing blood, she raised her gun.

Cain was flush with victory. Her face showed her clear triumph, filled with glee at having shot down a threat to her rule, at having killed as she had killed before. Killed in revenge for her the slaughter of her family, for disobedience, for necessity. But it had never quite felt so good as this, to strike down the impudent alien who had challenged her when she had finally done what was necessary, who had dared interrupt her revenge upon the Cylons: For the death of her family members in the Cylon War, for the betrayal that Gina provided to her in the attacks on the Twelve Colonies. She must have her revenge.

But for her revenge to come to past, she had forgotten one crucial fact. She had trained for a duel by honing her already fine and quick skills with a gun. But she had not exhaustively studied Taloran physiology. She did not realize, as she stood there in the pride of her victory, that she should have been firing more bullets into Fraslia. One does not leave a living Taloran, and particularly a female, with a gun in her hand before you. It was a lesson more than a few humans had forgotten over the years to their misfortune, and death. Talorans do not go into shock.

And so Fraslia's gun barked, and like a Taloran, trained to kill other Talorans, she kept firing. It was a fourteen magazine, and it had thirteen rounds left. She didn't cease firing until Cain's body hit the sand, spreading red hot human blood in crimson streaks upon the sand. Ten of the bullets had hit home with deadly effect, tearing Cain's body apart so thoroughly that it seemed she must be dead before she had hit the dirt. The gun... Fell from her hand, twelve bullets unused.

With a desperate, half-strangled cry, the Count of Ghirandi almost screamed “Drop the forcefield!”

It dropped, and the surgeons of both the duelists rushed forward. And with them, toward Cain, rushed Tisara Urami, not even noticing as Kendra Shaw fell to the deck in shock, sobbing horribly as her lover's body fell shattered into the sand. Tisara reached Cain's side, even as the human surgeon shook his head very slightly, in a gesture that transcended species to inform of the impending death of the patient.

Tisara leaned close, her own thoughts trying to process the imminent ruin of all her hopes for the future, of all her dreams for her and Ysalha. “Helena?” She dared.

Blood on her lips, Cain gestured with her right hand toward a pocket. Tisara's hand immediately snaked down, and reached in. A strange device was inside, and pulling it out, she realized that it was a simple spring-loaded razor blade. She looked at it, and down to Cain.

“Give it to Kendra,” the woman gasped. “And tell her that I love her.” She slumped back, and seemed to die. The surgeon shrunk away. Tisara, though, leaned closer, seeing that Cain was trying to mouth another sentence. She leaned close, very close, and honed in her ears. “Tell me, Helena!”

“Tell Gina Inviere... That I'm sorry for what I did to her. ...No lover of mine, traitor or no, deserved that. I'm sorry, Tisara. I... I'm glad I brought your Ysalha back to...” She took credit for that action, in her last, as though she had believed her own propaganda, but it didn't matter so much. “Take care of both of them, Tisara. Gina and Kendra. But give Kendra the razor....” She trailed off, murmuring the word razor again, and her eyes fell blank and dead.

Tisara looked up, and bit furiously at her tongue, as Fraslia's surgeon arranged for the medical team to haul her away on a gurney. Adama, noticeably, clustered close to Fraslia's surgeon. “Will she make it?” He asked, barely able to contain both relief and fear.

“She will, but we need to get her into surgery right now, and it won't be easy. Out of my way, Commander!” And so Fraslia was wheeled away.

Tisara rose, and Adama rose as well, and finally the two faced each other. “Was Fraslia telling the truth? Do you have custody of the survivors of Cain's atrocity?”

“Yes, I do, Commander Adama. They will be here with the fleet in a week, you have my word,” Tisara answered simply, “and despite Cain's suggestions to the contrary, I have kept them very healthy and happy, and think they will have no complaints.”

“I'll believe it when I see it, Admiral.”

“I'm sure you shall. Now, if you'll forgive me, I've gone from having one broken woman to deal with in my life, to having three.” Tisara turned away and walked toward Shaw.

Adama watched her go for a long moment, and then turned away. For once, he felt some sympathy for Tisara Urami, but only some. Now it was time to get the fleet back into order, and prepare for how the Taloran government would react. Fraslia's work had ended—and he could, as an atheist, only hope she lived—but his had just begun.
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In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-04-23 10:39pm

Chapter Twenty-Four
Battlestar Galactica
Oralnif System.

“She was getting us back on our feet! We finally had a chance to strike back at the Cylons—and you let that Taloran bitch ruin it!?” Starbuck had leapt from her seat and was glaring accusingly at Adama, before whipping to look at Colonel Fisk. “You're the next most senior officer...”

“Silence yourself, Starbuck, or I'll have you thrown in the brig.” Adama snapped. “Supporter of Cain or not, the chain of command is intact! And everyone will be held to it.”

“Says the man who conspired to have his superiour officer assassinated in a duel!”

“It was not an assassination,” Lee countered, trying to find some way through the brewing storm. “She lived and died by a code she voluntarily adopted, one that demanded blood for a genuine crime, and took it. There should be no complaints about her fate.”

“Bullshit! It was rigged from the start!” Starbuck seemed to be in a state of simply no longer caring.

“The risk of allowing legalized dueling.”

Adama remained dangerously silent, looking to Colonels Xanthippus and Fisk. He of course had Tigh's support, and Tigh was as calm as he was in the circumstances, the dangerous period during abrupt shifts of government and where loyalties were tested, and sometimes, bad things happened. Very bad ones. But the immediate fear of the Pegasus engaging in hostilities was gone. Fisk was simply not the sort of man to do that, and that was why Adama had chosen his present course, and given him, and the crew of the Pegasus, a second chance. Even if they don't know it, but it's good to let 'em sweat a bit.

Now it was time. “Where do you stand?” He asked the two Colonels.

“With you, Sir.” Iphigenia answered simply, ignoring the sideshow as Starbuck reluctantly sat again, still furious, and instead focusing on Adama's eyes. “You're the ranking officer, you've restored our government, and your probity is unquestionable. You have my absolute support.”

“Thank you, Colonel.” That was that from Iphigenia. Now all eyes were on Fisk, and the venal old Colonel who would have stayed an executive officer for the rest of his career absent the attacks, fidgeted in his seat and by that point had broke out in a cold sweat. “I need an answer, Fisk!” Adama was no longer in the mood to wait.

“You have my unconditional support, Sir,” he finally answered with half a sigh, aware that Iphigenia had put him on the spot, and unwilling to risk anything when it came to the final accounting. His fear gnawed at him at what might come, but absent of Cain's evil he had been incapable of charting such a course of foul deeds himself, and indeed any course at all.

This, Starbuck could not take. She leapt up once more: “Traitor! Are we all supposed to go ahead and fight the Talorans over our government now, too!? Take on a half a dozen of their monster dreadnoughts so a playboy scientist can pretend to have authority with our whole population in refugee camps!? Give up our only chance for revenge over an elected government that the majority of our people never bothered to vote for anyway?”

Adama made a sharp cutting motion in response. Immediately, the security personnel dashed in from the far side of the conference room, reaching in as Starbuck leapt furiously to her feet. They immediately went to disarm her as she struggled hard, hitting one with a thick-bottomed drinking glass in the face before that was wrestled away from her as well as her pistol. A few moments later she'd been cuffed despite the blow and more than a few scrapes. Waiting not a moment longer, she was hauled out before the visibly affected group of officers while uttering an intense stream of very virulent curses. The event served to leave Fisk violently shaken himself, filled with self-doubt at his actions.

Adama, though, knew better than to let it fester. “I released Cain's political prisoners, of course, including acting President Baltar—as you know. He is now, as the Constitution provides, once again legitimately the holder of final authority in the government, and he will be respected in that role.” A pause, glaringly, to make sure they all heard it, and heard it well. “More to the point, using that legitimately constituted authority, he has chosen to immediately promote me to Admiral in his role as civilian CnC.” Adama paused again for effct.

“Colonel Fisk. You were directly and personally in charge of a boarding party which massacred our own civilians. This fact alone means you are not fit to command the Pegasus under any circumstance. You have betrayed our trust with our people and committed a hideous act against innocents in the process. An act which in any other circumstance which see you receive a heavy penalty at the least, when before you were just rewarded by Cain.” He glanced next over to Tigh. “Effective immediately, Saul, you're promoted to Commander. You have the Galactica.”

And now a look to his own son, Lee, came next. “Colonel, you've done damn good work on the Kshatriya, make no mistake about it. You've proved me that you could take an impossible situation of keeping a ship that in any other circumstance we'd scrap in service, and turning around and overseeing the beginning of its repair and reconstruction in the nominally incompatible facilities of an alien dockyard. You have therefore earned a promotion to Commander, and the Pegasus.” He didn't dwell on the matter of having given his son command of the most powerful ship in the fleet, but instead went on to the next of the officer.s “Colonel Xanthippus, you're also promoted to Commander and have the Kshatriya back.”

He turned back with a surprisingly dull look to Fisk, having attended to business, and now dealt with the terrified Colonel as though the matter was just another piece of business. And at this point, it was. “As for you, Colonel Fisk, you're Commander Adama's XO. I am issuing a blanket pardon to the Pegasus' crew in the name of the Acting President per the rules of order which provide that I, as the ranking officer of the Colonial forces, administer military justice. This covers all crimes committed prior to the present, without need to confess or detail them.”

That, at least, brought palatable relief to Fisk. He seemed to collapse in his seat even without moving as he saw the hammer of doom removed from being a threat to his life and stature. But Adama was not quite done. “There are two exceptions. Kendra Shaw, who opened fire without your order on the civilians in the aforestated incident and caused its escalation to violence, even if you hold command responsibility, is primarily responsible in a personal sense for the massacre. She was also, more pertinently, responsible for the only bloodshed during Cain's coup. Accordingly, she has been excepted from the pardon and is sought for criminal charges.

“The second is Lieutenant Alistair Thorne. President Baltar and I received an extradition request from Tisara, the Archduchess of Urami, on behalf of the Taloran government. She claimed jurisdiction on account of being named protector of the Cylon prisoner from the Pegasus named Gina Inviere. According to her statement, being explicitly named to such a position by a dying individual carries certain responsibilities and privileges in Taloran law, particularly since Gina is considered as a prisoner of war accorded officer rank to fall under Taloran legal protection in criminal matters. Or, to cut through the legalize that Talorans love to make sound pretty, they think they have an obligation to pursue criminal cases against individuals who have harmed POWs now under their protection. It's a damned humane law, and we should have it ourselves.”

He straightened. “So we agreed to the extradition request, and he will be deported immediately to face rape charges. We can only hope that it leads to the corresponding gesture of goodwill in Tisara turning Kendra Shaw over to us to face her charges, even though I don't expect it will. But we need to show to the Talorans that we're still willing to deal with them, and the request is reasonable even if they don't reciprocate. Therefore, Commander,” he looked to Lee, “this is your first job on assuming command of the Pegasus. Seize Throne immediately and turn him over to the custody of Tisara on the Orelyost!”

“Understood, Sir!” Apollo replied crisply. “There are to be no other measures with the crew of the Pegasus, correct, Sir?”

“No other criminal measures, Commander, that's correct. However, you are to make sure they understand they're part of a fighting military force which is loyal to an elected government. And you're certainly expected to do whatever is necessary to remake them from the piratical band of brigands Cain allowed them to become and back into a fighting crew in a democratic navy.”

“Aye, Sir.”

“Colonel Fisk, do you understand your responsibility?”

Fisk wiped the sweat from his face. “To support Commander Adama unquestionably,” he stiffly replied, thoroughly broken, though still a relieved man.

“Very good. You're all still largely inexperienced as commanders, but offensive action is a long way off, so you have time to get your ships in order from a training standpoint, never mind the very long reconstruction cycle we're facing to integrate shielding, weapons and armour improvements from the Taloran side of things. It's still going to be a long slog to turn our navy back into something worthy of respect. Get started now.”

After everyone else had been dismissed and filed out, Lee stepped over to his father. “Admiral, what about the Talorans? How are we going to handle them?”

“For the moment, we wait, and all we do is wait. If they don't press the supposed claims of Kendra Shaw, we can get along, provided they don't harass our citizens on the surface and keep food supplied to the refugee camps. That, and avoid any more interference in the government, of course.”

“All right. But will we make an effort in regard to the President? I mean, we don't even know where she is, do we?”

“Actually, Ambassador the..” Adama frowned for a moment, trying to keep all the titles from flowing together in his mind, “Aristasijh of Fulanaj, has assured me that she was indeed simply removed out of medical necessity and is being treated in the Sol system—the home of Earth, no less—for her cancer. I don't trust Fulanaj, I admit, but she had no reason to lie, and did provide me some evidence to this effect. Until the Talorans react to what's happened in an official way, there is nothing more to be done.”

Lee nodded in acceptance. “Very well, Sir. But... Why turn Thorne over to Tisara? She was in the thick of things with Cain, and I can't believe she honestly intends to turn around abruptly and persecute one of Cain's men.”

“She's been honest in her dealings with us, even if her other personality traits are reprehensible to pretty much everyone. She let me talk to the civvies she was detaining for Cain, for example, via FTL radio, and as promised they have been very well treated, better than the civilians in the fleet have been, frankly. Or at least better than they were when our resources were sparse. Getting rid of Thorne also removes from us a serious hindrance to the discipline of the Pegasus--I cannot trust any man who commits those kinds of crimes, even to a Cylon—and eliminates, along with Shaw, the major sources of a leader in the ship's crew who might have caused trouble in the future. More importantly, though, it shows the Talorans we will still deal with them as long it is honest and doesn't contradict our fundamental values.”

“Understood, Sir, but I was just concerned about the form of trial he'd get. He is still a Colonial Citizen.”

“The acting President authorized it, and I am quite convinced...” A dark look crossed his face. “He will be getting a better trial than he deserves, at any rate. Don't worry to much about the Talorans, regardless. Fraslia proved her race trustworthy—in blood.”

“I know, Sir.” Lee blanched a bit at the thought of the duel that had killed Cain and so seriously wounded Fraslia. “I know. “

“Then in the spirit of her sacrifice for our sake, we aren't going to give up on the Tlaorans yet. But neither, I promise you, will I permit them to ever subvert our government again, no matter what that brings us to.”

“Then, with your permission, Sir, I will make my way move from the Kshatriya to the Pegasus.

“Permission granted, and, congratulations, Commander.”

HSMS Orelyost

In retrospect, it was far easier for Tisara to clear a bay of the normal operations crew than any other officer in the fleet, who would have faced safety protests. She had, instead, simply asked the senior crewer on duty “do you fancy being flogged?” when the question had come up. The bay personnel followed their officers, who left at the first chance given to them regardless of regulations when Tisara had arrived.

She was wearing a combat jumpsuit, her hair neatly coiffed and folded down the back to fit in—due to the universal prevalence of long hair in Talorans and its crucial role in their sexual at attractiveness, there was no option for forcing spacers to cut it. Instead, the skinsuits were designed with a slightly large frame in the back through which the hair could be easily draped—into the area provided, which also served to cushion the back against abrupt forward acceleration. Her helmet was tucked under one arm, and her sword strapped to her side. And that was it; she didn't even bother to arm herself.

Composed she was, though her body quivered with the pent-up rage that the combat drugs so easily stroked and induced. She was on a finely run level of intensity at the moment, even as she'd taken to handling the sedation of Kendra Shaw personally. There had, at least, been plenty of spare cabins next to her own to put the broken woman in, and Tisara was doing her decent best to slowly restore her to health. The passions of youth and love do not demand punishment in and of themselves. She will yet, I do believe, rise to her station. Such was the odd duty and compassion of even the exiled Taloran.

The arrival of the shuttle from the Pegasus happened soon enough. The operating crew bore markings from the Kshatriya, which Tisara noted in interest. Don't quite trust the crew yet, Adama the Younger? Wise man, in the vein of your father. They seemed quite willing, however, to unload the manacled Alistair Thorne into her custody, perhaps precisely on account of that fact.

“Thank you,” she offered to the young flight officer. “This is a personal matter for me, of course, so I came to deal with it personally.”

“I had a sister once,” the man answered rather darkly. “And I don't care if it was a frakkin' toaster or not. He's a sick fuck, and he's all your's, Your Grace.” With that, he handed the controls to the manacles over to her.

“Thank you,” Tisara replied, with only a slight annoyance at the incorrect title. “I have him from here, then.”

“Of course, Sir.” The officer saluted and returned to his shuttle. Tisara, for her part, nodded politely to Thorne and stepped over with him—he followed readily enough—to the launch control booth in the deserted bay. She guided the shuttle out herself, before turning to Alistair Thorne when it was all good and done, and regarding him for a long moment.

“One of Cain's loyalists,” she observed at last. “I already have Kendra Shaw aboard, as you know, of course.”

“So you do,” Thorne answered. “I take it that means that this was an elaborate cover, Your Serene Grace?”

“Something of the sort. There's actually no such jurisdiction as I claimed on the books in Taloran law, if that's what you're referring to.”

Thorne laughed, and relaxed. “Good one, Your Serene Grace. And thank you for it. I'm in your debt, and Major Shaw's, too.”

“Not really. Cain asked me to do this, after all, and I'm just acting on my obligation to her, nothing more, I assure you.”

“Ah, heh. Well, she was also a good sort to me. Damn frakking toaster-lovers. I still can't believe anyone in the Colonial fleet went along with this. I'm surprised the poor old Admiral even thought of the prospect of it as to warn you of what to do. I take it we're supposed to try and get Major Shaw in power now?”

“I rather suppose it does seem odd to you,” Tisara flexed her ears and shrugged. “And it was, I confess, more an interpretation of the morally correct thing to do at some of Cain's words, than any sort of specific directive on her part. At any rate, I do not have any immediate plans for placing the Second Duchess of Kobol in any kind of leadership position. She has taken her lover's death.. Poorly, and needs time to recover. Your fleet will still be there some months hence, and I am not quite yet sure how I shall go about defending her claims, which it is now my obligation to do, since by Cain's word I am more or less the regent of the Duchy of Kobol, and until Major Shaw recovers, I am the actual ruler of the Colonial government.”

“Rather patient for someone looking at seeing their government slip out of their fingers, then, particularly for someone with an obligation to someone else.” He smirked. “But I suppose it makes sense for now. Care to release me, Your Serene Grace?”

“In a moment,” Tisara replied. “I am, after all, going to be here when every single person alive today in the fleet shall be dead. I can afford to be patient, Lieutenant, in a way that humans can't dream of. Your lives come and go in a single moment. I am a hundred and thirty of your years old, and yet I am quite young.”

Thorne tensed slightly at the imperceptible hardening of Tisara's tone, and more to the point, the refusal to release him. “Your Serene Grace?”

“Young enough to still feel the hot blood of a cavalier in my veins...” Tisara continued, musing. “Our relationship is unconventional, but I certainly know what I would do to someone who.... Violated... Ysalha. Cain ordered it herself, of course, but, you see....” And Thorne remained silent in growing consternation.

“....We Taloran nobles have a custom, to honour and respect those, even the polytheists damned to the Slave Armies of Idenicamos, of our social stature. And though Cain is certainly being tortured in those armies right now herself—well, her sins are mortal, whereas mine are venal”—she continued languidly, smirking and showing a dangerous hint of her teeth, “It is nonetheless our custom to do right by even the damned of our class. So I am going to make amends for a particular one of Cain's sins where amends can still be made. In the same way that I have distributed no small amount of the savings my salary affords me, such as they are, in compensation to the families of those murdered in her act of savagery against the refugees she found, amongst those in the ships lucky enough to burn for deep space and not be found and destroyed, I am going to take care of another of her sins.”

“What the hell—why are you going on about that to? We did what we had to! You were Cain's friend--why the hell should you care!?”

“Lieutenant Thorne, all people are, in the final accounting, moral actors. I tolerate no disobedience and no imperfection because I know all people could perform as demanded if they really made an effort to do so,” she continued, blithely ignoring the hint of hypocrisy in the comments. It didn't really matter at this point. “Cain sinned mortally, and is in the depths of Idenicamos' realms for her sin. But I can, from an ethical perspective and a perspective of a friend of her's, still make right some of her crimes. She gave me the burden to do so, and she specifically, as she died,” and her Tisara's face took on a dread look of a toothy grin, “she asked me to protect her lovers. Kendra Shaw... And Gina Inviere. She expressed remorse over what she had done to Miss Inviere. Now, that remorse is not sufficient to save her from the bowels of torture and hate. But it does compel me to act on her remorse in any way I can, as a final gesture to the dead.

“So you see, Lieutenant Alistair Thorne, you raped Gina Inviere, and you led others in gang-raping her. You tortured her, a Prisoner of War you had an obligation to. And so, because Cain made me her protector, I have determined that it is my duty, my obligation both to her last desire for penance and forgiveness, and toward the ward she gave to me, to kill you.” She paused for another moment, and added, softly, “right now.”

Thorne was not an idiot. With his hands manacled, his only chance was to kick out at Tisara. Tisara, however, was operating under the influence of combat drugs. With a terrible swift ease, she danced to the side and lashed out with one of her own feet, catching Thorne's and tripping him down to fall onto his side against the floor.

“Fool,” she muttered softly, and brought the ovoid helmet to her head, locking it into place and checking the seal. “You certainly can't escape your sentence of death now. All the cameras and sensors have been locked down here; there is no evidence on the Taloran side that you ever stepped aboard the Orelyost. By Idenicamos' Harem,” Tisara laughed abruptly, “It's even legal. Cain was ruling the Duchy of Kobol without laws or customs to limit her; I am the regent for her heir. I have absolute power over the citizens of the Duchy, and so I can put you to death on my whim and command without suffering moral or criminal sanction.”

“You damned alien bitch. A pity I never had a chance to break your little toy like I did the frakkin' toaster.”

“And now,” Tisara answered almost whimsically by way of reply, “I will take pleasure in killing you.”

Frak you, bitch!

“Well, one final thing,” she responded quite laconically. “It's custom during executions, and a sin to deny it. There are many sins in the world; Polytheism damns you no matter all the good that you have done in your life, for example, except in one case. The one Good act which is capable of wiping away all evil done before it. Profess to me, one of the faithful, however not in good standing, that the works of the Prophet Eibermon are the true and correct accounting of the religion of Farzbardor, the Lord of Justice, the supreme One God of all universes and peoples. If you do this before I kill you, you will be taken, however lowly in rank and respect, nonetheless to the Armies of Righteousness in the Halls of Farzbardor. It is your one chance, and I must say to my relief that, save the first and worst of the lot, who refused to believe I was serious, all of the mutineers afterwards, on seeing I was serious about summarily executing them, did indeed take the opportunity to make confession with the ship's priest. They were already Farzians, however. You are not; and so the task is a bit simpler for you. Convert or be tortured for eternity from the moment that I slay you, until you are rended to oblivion at the final victory of the Lord of Justice. What say you?”

“I said FRAK YOU!” He spat from the floor, defiant to the last even as he was terrified.

“So it shall be. Enjoy the whips of the demons biting into your back, you scum. That you even dared to express your desire to violate my Ysalha!” She struck him in the cheek with the titanium-toed tip of her boot, shattering teeth and bruising bone. But careful not to spill blood on the deck, she turned away and manipulated the controls to the launch operations centre, dropping the automatic protective relays which would slam down the doors around it, securing it from the rest of the bay on the event of what she did next.

She dropped the atmospheric containment fields over the two massive entrances to the bay on either beam, each one large enough to accommodate a 4,000-tonne gunboat or 6,500-tonne assault shuttle. And as she did, she reached up with her other hand and locked the safety strap of her belt against the bar provided for that purpose running along the length of the console. “Enjoy your last three minutes of mortal life,” she said, very softly, but Thorne was already gone. The moment she'd snapped the controls, the air rushed out immediately and intensely. Only the fact that securing procedures meant there was nothing in it in normal operations that was not locked down avoided a rush of material out of the bay that she'd have to account for.

With the wall of air sucking them all out, she was soon yanked hard and firm against the securing belt and gripped with both hands on the bar as well to keep from being unsteadied, and avoid putting to much stress and pain on her midrift. Within thirty seconds, the evacuation of the atmosphere was entirely complete. She was alone in the silence of vacuum for a long moment, sighing softly in her helmet, and then reactivated the containment fields. As soon as they were established, air started flooding back in. In took another five taloran minutes for the bay to be largely refilled, and by that point, Tisara had unclipped herself, and waited by the sealed entrance to the bay. By now, Thorne was quite dead.

The Petty Officer who opened the doors, suited up herself, stared in shocked surprise at the presence of Tisara herself. “Your Serene Grace,” she spluttered, “How did the bay depressurize?”

“You'll be lashed if you repeat that question,” Tisara snapped through the vocoder, neither of them caring to remove their helmets until the atmosphere had reached healthy levels of oxygen and pressure density for a Taloran. “It's far, far above your competence, Chief.”

One rarely threatened to lash a noncomissioned officer of experience. She was, however, Terrible Tisara, and the CPO took her seriously. “Very well, Your Serene Grace,” she answered dubiously, half-wondering if Tisara had finally gone raving mad, but having no real idea of what she'd done. The atmospheric indicators had, at any rate, equalized, so she removed the helmet from her skin suit. It appeared it was just time to get back to work.. And get drunk in the Petty Officer's mess that night. Definitely get drunk.

Tisara removed her own helmet, and wordlessly stepped out, receiving the salutes of the hangar personnel waiting to return. She had to go and check up on Kendra Shaw, after all, and then prepare herself for another trip to Oralnif Station, to look longingly at her precious Ysalha once more, and hope that she might again be filled with the simple love of her heart for Tisara, that she might again have a life more than that which persisted, confined to a stasis tube. By the time she reached her quarters she was virtually crying at the terrible thought, but the drugs helped with that. They always had.

Battlestar Galactica

A Taloran week had passed before the Countess Palatine Aristasijh of Fulanaj had brought Commander Adama the message that he dreaded. It had at least been enough time for him to put his house into order, which is more than he could count in any other sense. Just as the colonials were starting to settle back into a regular routine, to get used to the rather lavish arcology that the Talorans had built for them on the surface, a cloister, perhaps, but only in comparison to their old homes on Caprica, utterly spacious compared with the fleet, and finely appointed, while in orbit the effort to refit the warships, and prepare the civilian ships for commercial endeavours which could be their only form of a genuine national economy at the moment, proceeded apace.

Now he had something else to worry about, and Aristasijh had done it in a terrible way which aimed to force his hand. He was watching on the screen, because the message had been broadcast to the entire fleet, in the clear:

“As the interests of your people are concerned, it is clear that the Regency of Tisara of Urami is not desirable to anyone. She is not fit to rule, and neither, for the moment, is The Second Duchess of Kobol, Kendra Shaw, heir to the late Grace, Helena Cain. Therefore I propose, and will guarantee I can compel, that Her Serene Grace the Archduchess of Urami be forced to abdicate her position as Regent, and that this position, due to Her Grace Shaw's mental state, be granted in perpetuity to Admiral William Adama.

“He shall be the new ruler of your people, and maintain that position for his life, by which point Kendra Shaw or her heirs will certainly be ready for the task of ruling your people. This is how we propose to move on from the unfortunate circumstances of Helena Cain's death, for which I apologize when she meant so much to all of you.”

A pause, and the Dalamarian diplomat continued. “We do not presume to direct the form of government that the Duchy of Kobol has. We certainly think it appropriate for a form of constitutionalism to exist, and recommend it strongly. I would also favour a careful consideration of the syndicalist principles I have explained to the likes of, for example, Tom Zarek, and which would serve your people well. However, it is really none of my business. Commander Adama, as Regent, will do as he pleases with your government, and I'm even certain the position of Head of Government could be given to the President with little change in your existing structure. That is, of course, up to you, and I guarantee that Taloran interference in your internal affairs will never take place.

“However, we do expect, Commander Adama,” she addressed him next, “That you concede to these measures and take immediate practical action to bring order to your disordered people. You are reliant on us, and we expect that good order be maintained in the Empress' vassals. Therefore, I am giving you fourty-eight of your hours to make your reply to this offer. If you decline it, we shall begin speaking with Her Serene Grace the Archduchess of Urami, and Her Grace the Duchess of Kobol, about what procedures we should take to bring your people into compliance with the Imperial law and imperial interests that you have chosen to tie yourself to.”

The message continued for some time on other, less relevant points of the subject, and Adama continued to watch it until the very end. By the point it was over, he was ready, though. He reached down and picked up a handset for the bridge. By now, Dualla was back on duty... “Dualla? I want you to release a message immediately to the fleet, and the Tower..” He said by way of referring to the Arcology as most of the Colonials did, “informing them not to make a hasty assumption, that Baltar's government remains intact, and that I will respond to the Countess Palatine in exactly two days.”

“Understood, Sir.”

“Then, I'd like you to go ahead and patch me through to the Orelyost. A very urgent priority for Tisara Urami.” He knew that there was only one way to prevent this from turning into a disaster. He would have to speak to the woman who held the real power now when it came to his people, and convince her to ignore them when he stood up and condemned the Countess Palatine's plan as he had intended to, from the moment he had heard it. He had lived in loyalty to the Colonial Constitution, and if he would have to die defending it, so be it, but his duty to his people was to see that lived free, and his death would, in these circumstances, not accomplish much toward that cause.

He waited as the minutes ticked by, five, and then ten. He was about to comm Dualla again when the channel leapt alive with Tisara's voice, sounding hesitant and sickly. “Commander Adama, you have business with me?”

“I do, Your Serene Grace. Are you aware of the text of the Countess Palatine Fulanaj's speech to the fleet?”

“I'm not, actually.”

That forced Adama into the awkward role of having to explain while Tisara listened quietly, asking a question here and there. It took several minutes as he carefully laid out the gist of it, and then, to his irritation, she did not immediately accept the truth of it.

“Let me drag up the broadcast transmission log,” she answered finally, and he had to wait through that as well. It seemed to take forever for her to view the logs, and when she did, though, she returned with a furious note in her voice.

“That scheming Dalamarian bitch! What does the government think it is? This is my right, by Cain's death-testament. I am not going to abandon my protection of Kendra Shaw and her rights so readily, or my position as Regent,” she added, at least clarifying the matter that, no, the Colonial fleet would never, never get a chance to prosecute Kendra Shaw, but he had already given up on that faint hope.

“I shall not forgive her lightly for such a bold presumption of the rights of my ward. No, let me inform you, Commander Adama, that as long as I am Regent and guard of Shaw's interests during her pique of madness, and frankly if I can convince her otherwise, for she is not suited to rule, I shall not force myself upon your people, and interfere in the business of your government. There is precedent for this—though I would likely get in a great deal of trouble by explaining it to you, on account of the odd way the government has acted on this issue. Suffice to say, refusal is the only right course for you, Admiral, and I will not be party to any suppression that they might connivingly plan after your refusal. Go ahead, and you have my support in doing so. I wish nothing to do with your government, though I will protect you from the wiles of mine out of the principle of the whole thing, with what little power my exiled position affords me.”

“Thank you, Your Serene Grace,” Adama answered after a moment. “You've given me the support I need on this issue. We have many disagreements in many different areas, but I will never forget the fact that you have behaved with an honour that it has unfortunately been proved many Colonial officers lacked. The arrival back at the fleet of the detained refugees has amply proved that, especially considering your personal compensation to them when I understand that you're poor by the standards of Taloran nobility.”

Tisara seemed to wince a bit at even hearing the word, with an intake of air that could be heard over the audio pickup. “That is... A less charitable way of putting it, but I suppose correct, Admiral. However, duties are duties, and I have never forgotten mine, even as I choose to live my private life in my own way. The law and custom are on my side; you have my full support.”

“Thank you for that. With your permission?”

“Granted. Good luck, Admiral.”

Adama cut the channel, and next reached for his hotline with the President's office. As expected after the announcement, Baltar was not just there, but eagerly waiting for the chance to speak with Adama.

“Admiral, what can I do for you?” He asked both urgently and cautiously.

“We need to talk about my response to the Countess Palatine's message.”

“What is the response, man?” Baltar could only query with baited breath.

“I am going to refuse, of course. I've already spoken with Tisara Urami. She will not sanction any effort by her political superiours to force another autocratic government on us, out of sake of principle. And the law is on her side.”

“I'll reward you in any way I can for this, Admiral.”

“I'm just doing my duty, Mister President. In, approximately, fourty-seven hours we're going to have to make our response, however. Can you announce that we'll hold a joint Press Conference on the... hmm.. Cloud Nine at that point to provide our response to Fulanaj's ultimatum and answer questions on the status of the Colonies?”

“Certainly, Admiral. I'll get that through my office to the people immediately.”

“Thank you.” That was all that could be done for the moment, then.

Liner Cloud Nine

“So you're coming here, you damned military bastard, and you pathetic coward?” Zarek laughed darkly. “To make your selling away our souls to a bunch of aristocrats all the more formal? Well, we'll see how long you last with that.” He would have to make sure he was somewhere else for the speech, as for the rest...

He got up, having heard Baltar's announcement, and immediately left his temporary quarters on the liner—the Council, against his protests, had refused to move to the surface and had stayed aboard the line instead--to track down a secure comm to the surface. He had friends, after all. Useful friends, men he'd spent time with in prison, men who had fought with him for the rights of the oppressed.

Men who knew how to make easily concealed bombs. If the leadership of the Twelve Colonies wanted to lick the boots of their alien overlords, he would see to it that they paid for it. If they had no other ability, no other way to fight back, he would see to it that they had at least the bomb, the gun, the dagger, the poisoned dart. The best way to get one's message out, after all, was through propaganda of the deed.

And it was time for him to play that game again. He knew, anyway, that eliminating Adama would be perfect. His second in command was Saul Tigh, and Ellen Tigh was a political ally, who had her husband firmly wrapped around her thumb. Knock off Adama, and they could at least escape, if they could delay the Talorans through threats and strikes long enough to get the damaged ships back up to operation and evacuate their people back to the fleet. It was not ideal, but there had to be a land out there, somewhere, where they could find freedom again.

To do that, though, he would first have to kill the collaborators that threatened all of their liberty. And that was certainly within his personal power. He reached the presently unused office that had been allocated to him, and inserted a special security box through a splice in the wires to his phone, and then made the first call.



“I need a ten kilo bomb, wrapped in shrapnel the usual way. Timer set to twenty hours, ideally, for pre-placement. Easily concealed. And I need it up here on the Cloud Nine in less than twenty-four hours. Understood?”

“I understand. I'm.. I'm pretty sure I can meet that.”

“Good enough. We're back in business.”

“Roger that, boss. Twenty-four hours. I'll have it to you. No promise about the explosives, though; not sure what I'll have to fabricate in that regard. We don't have any access to the strong stuff.”

“Don't worry, it's just antipersonnel.”


Zarek hung up, removed the box back into his briefcase, and walked off again. The next step was to start planning with his group to take maximum advantage of the chaos that would follow. If he had his way, William Adama and Gaius Baltar had fourty-six hours to live.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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Location: Exiled in the Pale of Settlement.

Post by The Duchess of Zeon » 2008-05-14 04:26am

Chapter Twenty-Five.

Colonial Refugee Arcology,
Oralnif, Talora Empire.

“This is one hell of a hit,” the man at the back, Richard, muttered. “Got an explanation for us, Tom?” They were all long time comrades to the point where such informality was quite acceptable, to say the least. They were fighting for equality, after all.

“I still haven't authorized the final drop,” Tom Zarek replied. “I need to meet with one of the Talorans first, sound her out. That's actually our main goal. Only in the event that it fails do we evacuate and take to space.”

“Making a deal with the Talorans is our main goal? Then why the hell are we going after Baltar and Adama?”

“A deal on our terms.” Zarek let the words hang for a moment. “We're going after the preservation of our independence, but that does mean working in stages. One big advantage we've got is the similarity of our own desires in economic systems with those the Talorans consider natural for a society. It's their best trait, and they admire us for promoting similar systems. While in detention, Cain was lax about letting us have access to Taloran materials. The translations were bad, but it's clear that dismissing them as a vague alien threat is wrong. They're monarchists, but they're people, too. And they have their own anti-nobility, communitarian movement. It even tried to assassinate the Empress a couple decades ago, and a few other top nobles to encourage a civil war. Might have assassinated her mother, the Princess Imperial, before she could take the throne. Apparently our 'friend' Tisara is a popular proponent of that theory.”

“The ironic thing about Tisara Urami is that she's probably the most repressed Taloran in the entire sector,” a woman to the far right said softly, and perhaps to no one in particular, though Zarek caught on that.

“She also has a legal right to rule us, as things stand, and that's rather important. Among other things, if we can secure accommodation with her, we'll have total autonomy.... If Fulanaj's scheme is frustrated. And that's where the bombing comes in. I was hoping to discredit Fulanaj only by eliminating Adama before he can accept her offer; but she has decided to attend the announcement personally, which to me suggests the declaration is more or less already rigged. It also gives us a chance to kill her, too. And that leaves Tisara.”

“What about her aunt, that Admiral, Sipamert?”

Tom settled back a bit at the table and shrugged. “Kranz, we really don't understand the Taloran system as well as we'd thought. Sipamert isn't really an officer of the Empire, but of one of its subsidiary, tributary states. Tisara is an Imperial officer. In the civil government of the province she's presently outranked by Fulanaj, but she's only militarily outranked by Sipamert. If we knock off Fulanaj or discredit her, the only conduit between us and the Empress is Tisara. And Tisara—Roslyn told me this some time ago—is rather desperate to find an accommodation between her desire to live her life uninterfered with by her people's morality and yet maintain some semblence of her honour and loyalty. She actually offered to take command of the Colonial Military under an all-but-my-homeland loyalty clause if we had joined a defensive pact with them. She just wanted a farm.”

“So we've got leverage against her,” the same woman pursed her lips for a moment's thought. “Yeah, that can work. We can get her to provide us with total autonomy from the Imperial government, let us organize an equitable society, rebuild, recover, free our people remaining in the Colonies... And most importantly network extensively with the communitarian cells in the Empire.”

“That's what I'm planning,” Zarek answered. “Any objections? I do have that meeting already scheduled.”

“No, we'll go through with it.” Kranz spoke for the group in the end. “We'll have the bomb ready to place on schedule, at least. When will you give the signal if we're to go ahead with things?”

“In approximately two hours. Through the usual method.” Zarek stood. It was time to go talk with Tisara Urami. His people could be trusted with the bomb.

HSMS Orelyost,
Oralnif, Talora Empire.

Properly dressed in her full uniform, Tisara received her political guest with a forced indifference much wounded by her addiction. The drugs that kept her stable in the absence of Ysalha also turned her into a terror for those around her, and robbed her of some of the best restraints that she had steeled into herself, save by extreme effort. Her hair pulled back lightly, mismatched eyes took in Zarek with perhaps a bit of betrayed surprise.

“I do have to wonder why you're here, Councilor. Praytell explain this to me? You are not one known for your support of me, or the Empire. I remember your opposition distinctly, as a matter of fact... But you phrased this request to me, as a subject before a Regent, and my responsibilities therefore demand that I hear you out.” She notably made no effort to permit Zarek to sit, but Tom didn't mind having a height advantage on a Taloran female for once, so he ignored the gesture implying his social inferiority.

“I have a simple question for you, Admiral. Duchess. You claim yourself to now hold power over me and my entire people. What are you going to do with it?”

“Aristasijh and Her Serene Majesty would have me do nothing,” Tisara answered with a trace of bitterness. I am perfectly competent for the job. The Colonials have nothing of our society and will not be offended by me. If Ysalha ever wakes up... Her eyes snapped back with a nervous energy to glare toward Zarek, though not really at him. “So, that is precisely what I will do.”

Tom Zarek was, ironically, speaking to the woman who knew that Commander William Adama was not going to endorse Aristasijh's offer. She would have readily told him, had he asked; but it had not occurred to him to ask, and so he did. And he did not find out, either. It was one of the most fundamental problems involving people of deeply different cultures, societies, and customs, who liked very little of the ways of each other.

They quite simply had a failure to communicate, and passed over the chance to see the truth with glares and silence, Tisara the disgraced noble, Zarek the proud revolutionary, separated by a meter in space but ten thousand years of history.

“Including in the case of internal political change?”

“I'm not standing in the way of your holding free elections, certainly, if I had my way. The Empire certainly is. Perhaps you should petition the Empress to acknowledge my rights as Kendra Shaw's guardian? I don't care how you govern yourselves, precisely, as long as you do not bring dishonour to me with wanton violence and disorder.”

Zarek frowned. “Wanton violence?”

“No riots,” Tisara clarified after a moment. Political assassination did not even occur to her at that moment. “Keep yourselves orderly and defend your institutions as you see fit. I will endorse the government of the Colonies as being a legitimate component of the traditional customs of the Duchy of Kobol, with the President acting as President of Council to my Ducal ministers and more or less having full power, as the powers under your constitution permit, at my writ. Though of course it matters little; Aristasijh has bypassed and sidelined me.”

She paused, and her ears straightened very attentively. “You're going to do something about that, aren't you?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“If you do something that brings down the Imperial government, you will receive no help from me. More to the point, I will deal with you myself first, if I am able, before you can manage it, or, if you have done so, immediately afterwards, before Imperial Intelligence gets their talons into you.” Her ears flattened. “Don't doubt me, Zarek. My rights are being trampled on by the Imperial government, but I have no doubt that they will hold me to my duties anyway, and so I must be twice as vigilant as I could otherwise hope for. Not even my own family will stop me in that.”

“But will you stop us if we may act to preserve our governance?”

“Democracy is traditional for you, is it not?”

Zarek knew the importance of tradition for Talorans. “Of course. And we're trying to introduce a more equitable economic system, on your own lines.”

“I know you are.” She shrugged, and her ears stuck out straight from her sides in a devil-may-care gesture. “Political violence is not a concern as long as innocents are not killed, Zarek. Ruffians going at it with cudgels are common enough during elections in the Empire. I would certainly desire for those I have an obligation over to enjoy better the traditional privileges of the trade-guild and union and co-operative arrangements of finance and ownership of businesses which have preserved a moral economy in own nation. Of course I will support you in that regard if you are willing to ignore for the moment my position. I would do my best to keep the Imperial government from changing things.”

“You know you'd always be welcome among us,” Zarek answered, trying to seal what seemed to him a deal, rather than the rambling half-drugged off-the-cuff remarks that Tisara was offering. He still really hadn't gotten down the meanings of the flickering movements of the ears...

“Well, I had sort of expected that. I am your ruler, or her guardian, at least. If Adama does not decide to throw me out... I do not think he approves of me at all,” she concluded with a final flick of her ears. After all, he was going to be in charge now, perhaps especially after his rebuff of Aristasijh.

“You have my word, Admiral, that I will not allow Adama to interfere. We will make very sure of that. Civilian governance I certainly aim to preserve at all costs, and we're not going to allow Aristasijh to succeed, either.”

“I don't want to hear about that,” Tisara answered, not realizing her blessing seemed to imply to both people.

“So noted. A good day to you, Admiral.”

“And you, Councilor. Now, if you'd please excuse yourself...” Tisara got up. “I am going to take a shuttle to Oralnif's orbital hospital to check on Ysalha. They've started treating her, and it's my duty besides to visit daily.”

“Of course, Admiral.” A pause, and he decided that some politeness, on a basic, human level, would be suitable. “I can only hope for her swift recovery from what the Cylons did to her.”

“Thank you,” Tisara replied genuinely. “Few enough people give us even that.” And with no more words, but rather a faint trembling of her body from the drugs coursing through her, she left, and left him to go.

Cloud Nine,
Lower Decks.

Billy Keikeya stared again at where Baltar had vomited on the floor. “Mister President, are you alright?” He asked in real frustration, both at using the title with Baltar and at the truly weird behaviour and health of the scientist.

“Fine, fine! Go on and tell them I'll be late!” Baltar staggered off after the second round of insistence and headed down and toward a small and empty lounge in the ship which had been largely emptied by the transfer of the population to the prepared surface Arcology. As it so happened, Six was dragging him along.

“You've had your suffering, Gaius President Baltar,” she offered in mock imitation of a Taloran title, before tossing him across the room into the wall hard enough to send a distant boom rumbling through the metal. “Now I'm in the process of saving your life.”

“What... Wha.. What's going to happen?” Baltar gasped, looking up unsteadily.

“Zarek's set a bomb in the conference room,” Six answered rather lazily. “It will give you absolute power, by all accounts, to do as you will with Colonial society. Use it wisely—you're about to receive some amazing revelations, in the next few months—and we want you ready to help us in our project. You are special, Baltar, and you will have use. There's more to the story of humans than just this universe... And the Talorans are hiding it from you.”

Baltar started to drag himself up. “More about humans.. What are they hiding? They've told us everything, just refused contact.” His brain was trying to catch up. “And, wait, don't we need to stop this bomb? It might go off in minutes!”

“We want it to go off.”

“But Adama's on my side!”

“Your side is our side!” A kick recoiled Baltar into the wall, his head bouncing furiously as he slumped down. And then she squatted in front of him, and leaned in and gave him a kiss. “And I'm not letting you leave until after it's gone off, my dear foolish human. Patience. Adama must die.”

He stiffened, and then relaxed, staring at Six with wide eyes. “What are the Talorans lying to me about?”

“They're in contact with other humans. Humans from beyond this universe. Not just the humans of Earth, but the humans of.. Many earths. They don't just rule this one universe, but parts of other universes in the Cosmos, my dear Baltar.. Many parts, where humans have extensive power, and others where they've been virtually wiped out. But always humans.

“You see,” she continued languidly, “There is a certain power to the humans of legacy. A dark, black legacy. Your ancestors are somewhat more directly connected to it than many others. Do you not remember the pyramids of Kobol?”


“Temples of evil, to the worship of old ways, which proceeded even the heroes who became your gods, Baltar. Temples to evil. The only reason the human race exists at all is because of one of their slaves, you see.”

She paused for a long moment, thinking, musing, and then smiled, and whispered: “A hint of poetry, a shattered rock, found in a system that should not be, a place that is impossible we now know, but yet is. Perhaps you can find a copy on Earth, when you finally get there:

I have seen the reign of fire dawn; the Age of Man overthrown
Pride and arrogance slay the righteous; they fall alongside the wicked
Chaos now overcomes sanity; death becomes the peace of the innocent
The mighty are slain by their own hand; the world is against its self
We have failed in the appointed task; a thousand agonies approach us
The fire's reign turns to shadow; hope shatters into a shifting clay.
The all-consuming war has finally reached sacred Terra in all her Majesty;
Lord Vishnu, why did this toil of despair and suffering fall upon us!?

“There were many other verses, but they were all lost, and we could not translate them,” Six spoke rather sadly. “They are, in them, and in the hints of insight of the hybrids who power our ships, knowledge of what went before. Knowledge of the impossible course of human history... And of your dark, dark secret. The wheel of Dharma is an evil thing, Baltar. It has consumed you and your people, and it is belief in the one true God which offers you a way out of that destruction. Your history is a cycle of enslaving others, and being destroyed by yourselves in your own mortal folly. The only time this changed...

“....Was when a Taloran made the choice, after you had enslaved her, to save you despite the fact that she owed you nothing but blood vengeance. But she has only trapped you with the kiss of Dharma, caught in a blind and everlasting circle of vengeance. We were going to exterminate you, you know. But now we are not so sure. We just wish to gain our mastery, to have the chance to break the cycle. To use you to discover the mystery of our origin. After all, all that I have told you, is all that we know. The riddles of the Hybrids are imprecise and filled with half-knowledge, half-truths, with things black and in the primordial days when humanity was swept down from its heights of evil into the endless retributive cycle of the Kali Yuga.

“But there is one God. The others are liars, or demons. In this the Talorans are pure, their cause may be salvaged. He can be, also, your salvation, Baltar. And you can be the salvation of humanity through Him. There is a Golden, Shining Path laid out for you, if you will but take it....” Six and Baltar kissed once again, Baltar trembling far more than he ought from the supposedly crazy words. Something about them sounded terrifyingly true.

Cloud Nine,
Conference Room.

“Where the frack is Baltar?” Adama muttered from the back of the room to Billy. “You said he'd be maybe ten minutes late because he was sick; it's been fifteen. I'm going to have to start without him.”

“I can't really blame you, Admiral. Do you want me to go back and look for him?” Billy sighed in exasperation.

Please.Damn airheaded scientist, Adama thought as Billy left the room. Then he stepped out, a last glance over his uniform, and headed up toward the podium, a gesture indicating that the camera crew should begin broadcasting.

Aristasijh Countess Palatine of Fulanaj sat in the back of the small seating area filled with sundry individuals from the Cloud Nine's crew to make up the live broadcast group. Legs followed, dressed in formal kilt and long-sleeved blouse in the splash of colour one could come to expect from the Talorans, she had just come herself with a single aide. Sometimes, Adama wondered why Talorans never seemed to bother much with personal security. Oh well. She is not going to be a happy lady when I am done, but I could scarcely refuse her request to hear it in person.

He glanced around the room and then began. “Ladies and Gentlemen, officers of the Colonial and Taloran Imperial fleets and the Midelan Navy, thank you. Several days ago, Her Ladyship Aristasijh the Countess Palatine of Fulanaj proposed that I assume the position of Regent while remaining an Admiral in the Colonial Navy, due to the unsuitability of the Ducal Pretender Kendra Shaw for the signet, the designated heir of the late Admiral Helena Cain, sometimes called Duchess of Kobol.” He was very careful—the speech had been written in advance with plenty of notes from Billy, who had studied the subject in some details—though the next part was improvisation.

“I was going to answer along with Acting President Baltar, but he's been detained by pressing matters,” Adama simply lied, “And will be along in time to handle questions after my response to the proposal.”

“So I'm going to get right down to it. We are not accepting the offer in any way shape or form, Countess. I am not accepting your offer. The Twelve Colonies of Kobol will not be ruled by any noblewoman, and we don't recognize the right of Kendra Shaw to be maintained in her position as so-called Ducal heir. We will be willing to negotiate with the present regent, who is legitimate even by Taloran standards, the Archduchess Tisara of Urami. We are willing to negotiate with the Taloran government to maintain an equitable settlement.

“And, more importantly, we are willing to recognize de jure the validity of Cain's actions, if in turn the Taloran government allows us total autonomy, while we work out a permanent solution to this problem, which involves unquestioned and absolute independence as a sovereign people for the Twelve Colonies. This is an issue I am not going to compromise on,” Adama paused, eyes steely, “and which I only abstain from violence over because I know that you have an utter preponderance of military and economic power. You have conquered my people, by words and trickery and taking advantage of internal dissent, but a conquest nonetheless. And if this is a slap on the face, then the Taloran nation deserves it.

“I know some very honourable people among your number. Captain—later Commodore--Fraslia, the Baroness Istarlan, very nearly gave her life for our people on several occasions, and brought down the dictator Cain in one of the most noble acts one could ever ask of a person. Tisara Urami, even while aiding Cain, had the decency to care for Cain's political prisoners, witnesses to her atrocities, as though they were honoured guests, at the cost of a considerable amount of her savings. At every level there have been Talorans who have risked their lives for us, and I trust you all as my own comrades. But your government has behaved deviously and dishonestly to us, and I am not going to stand for it.

“I appeal to your religious sentiments. The morality of treating us, desperate refugees, as a political toy to be chewed by various sides and subject to innumerable ideological theories and disputes, is utterly and completely in the wrong. It's indefensible, and you make lie of your beliefs by behaving in such a way. I know you do not approve of us faith and customs; but if you had approached us in compassion, we would have reacted positively.

“The damage can yet be undone. You've bled so that we can live, and we're not going to forget that. But for the moment, it is time for you to acknowledge that we have fundamental rights that you have denied us. The Taloran government must right its own wrongs, and it must do them immediately for us to have a stable future in our relations.

“For the moment, all I am asking is for Tisara Urami's rights as Regent to be acknowledged. It is then her decision how we govern ourselves, and she has already given us full rights to maintain our own system of government and permit us full autonomy. We can live with that while we get things worked out on how to proceed and we start negotiations with a team, not just an Imperial Vicereine who dictates us offers from on high.” He stared very pointedly at Aristasijh, and concluded: “We are not going to accept your terms, Your Ladyship. That much is very, very clear.”

And then the world exploded. The bomb was built right under the podium and it was a powerful one, tearing apart Adama's legs with the first instant as it hurled him more or less to the ceiling before he crumpled down amongst the shrapnel; it was anti-personnel. With more high explosives, he would not have existed at all after the blast. Instead, the shrapnel from both the bomb and the shattered metal podium swept through the large room which had once been used for gambling on the Cloud Nine, and it killed extensively. Almost all of the skeleton crew was in the room, and almost all of them received either mortal wounds or died outright.

Aristasijh Countess Palatine Fulanaj was saved only by a quirk of Taloran custom, in which the most important people sat elevated at the back of a room, not in the front row; otherwise, she would have been killed outright. But the shrapnel tore through her body and eviscerated her aide, sending both of them against the wall with the force of the unexpected blast destroying their attentive ears' drums despite the last minute reflexive effort turn them away.

As she hit the back wall, brushing greenish-red blood from innumerable cuts on her face, she glanced over to her aide and muttered, softly: “That's very unsanitary,” to the girl, who with a mortified expression was trying to stuff her intestines back into her body. She halted. “I...” The pain was flush across her face; the lack of shock worked both ways. “What do I do?” The grim, harshly trained calmness of Talorans suffering from extreme pain was iconic, incongruous in the moment through the cacophony of human screams.

The Dalamarian Countess was not inhuman. Ignoring her own substantial but not life-threatening wounds, she went to bind the girl with strips of her own clothes. But she was no doctor, and hurt herself; she could only save one, and so she saved the one closest to her, whose physiology she knew the most about, working through her own bloodloss and faintness. She barely saved the girl's life before collapsing herself from loss of blood.

By then, the medics had got there from the ship's aide station in a mere twenty seconds from seeing the blast knock out the cameras, gathering their scattered wits when they realized that it was an explosion destroying the cameras that they'd seen, and not a broadcast accident, and rushing with their kits in hand. It was a response time that would save almost anyone who could be saved; that was the problem.

Admiral William Adama had suffered both his legs blown off and shattered; the femoral arteries could bleed out in alone in less than a minute, and he had countless other severe wounds from the blast. The medical techs reached him and started treating him first; he was by far the most important person in the room. They should have triaged him; they tried to stop the bleeding, and they did. But by the time they had, there was not enough blood left in his body to keep him alive. His last words were his speech to his people and the aliens who had found them; he died as a soldier, under attack, this time, from enemies domestic, when no foreign ones could have prevailed against him.

“We've lost him!” went the shout over the audio feed, which was still intact and still broadcasting, though with a blank screen, to the rest of the fleet. At the time, it was not clear who it was, but the two overburdened medics went to save those others as they could. With the first responding shuttles many minutes away, they'd lose most of them, but they would have to try their best.

Baltar and Billy reached the conference room, finally, at a dead run. A dead run which culminated in a horrible scene of absolutely perfect carnage. There had to be at least 20 people dead and more dying by the minute. Baltar saw the body of Adama, and remained perfectly still. She saved me from that fate, he thought grimly to himself, before his supremely clever eyes noticed that one of the camera audio feeds was by luck undamaged.

Of course I did, Baltar. Now get to work.

He couldn't quite bring himself, and remained there for a long time, looking at the blood and gore scattered on the floor, while Billy suppressed his bile to try and help the medics. There was nothing else to do, was there?

Colonial Refugee Arcology.

Zarek had failed on every level. He had killed a patriot, a man with whom he had disagreed but who had, in the end, chosen to uphold the principles of the Colonial Confederacy. He had fought injustice, and this man, too, had stood up against it. Did my hatred for monarchy blind me against all who associated with it? Against all of the officers in the fleet,when Cain had accepted that poisoned gift?

He could not say; he would not say. He could just take measures for his own survival and that of his group. They had been able to secure a civilian cargo shuttle, which would do for escaping into the immense forests of Oralnif, which had food humans could digest. They could wait there until a chance for escape into the deeper Taloran Empire—and aiding generally the cause of the people by joining up with the Taloran communitarians—could be effected.

And they nearly did it, too. They all met at the shuttle, Kranz as grim as hell as he brought the engines up and cleared them for launch, plunging away from the steeply, 80-degree angled sides of the arcology, stepped toward its flat top a mile high. But Baltar had supernatural help in knowing who had been responsible for the event, and the people of the Arcology were boiling mad with the murder, the destruction of their hero.

The security personnel were on their quarters in record time, and the air controllers rapidly put two and two together when they received their reports from the security personnel. They were quick on the response, being conscientious even if disinterested in the events themselves as Talorans simply doing their jobs, and scrambled two gunboats on ready-launch catapults from one of the stations above to plunge down toward the surface.

They had tractor beams, and ground-scan laser and radar sensors to produce a composite image, when there was not a bit of stealth in the shuttle. It was located in a minute, and then the game was up for Tom Zarek and his terrorists. Almost.

Ellen Tigh was already on her way to the Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica.

The crew was numb in shock. Saul Tigh was bitter with rage, the newly minted commander of the Colonial Navy, a job he did not remotely desire as Baltar nervously slunked from place to place in the back of his bridge, unsteadied, uncertain, waiting. That goddamned terrorist killed him! Killed him, after all of this! His hands trembled, clenched in bitter rage, in anger and shame that he had allowed this happen, that he had failed; it was all irrational, but he still felt it for his comrade of countless decades. Gods of War, Gods of our Ancient Ways, give me power to avenge him! He was not particularly devote by any stretch of the word, but in a moment that old and hoary formulation from the legends he had learned when young came back to him, and gave him purpose.

There would be no mercy and no compromise with Zarek this time. That much, he promised himself. His wife's scheming aside.... Was she involved in this!? the thought struck him nervously, furiously. For the first time he doubted his devotion to her, and her sincerity. Had she betrayed him, betrayed them all so completely? He would find out, and soon.

Green hair, blue and red-orange eyes, grayish-green skin, dressed in uniform, Tisara Urami stepped onto the bridge of the Galactica, and provided in a moment the legal authority for any decisions about to be made, in the eyes of the Talorans. She knew what her duty was in the circumstances, if nothing else, and thinking back on the conversation with Zarek—what a drug-addled fool she had been not to divine his intentions!--she realized that she would have to act swiftly to salvage the situation. “Aristasijh and her aide will live, though barely. The blood-loss was extensive and there was no way to replace it until our medical shuttles arrived,” she added, quietly. “So for the moment the Imperial government will not look with so much askance upon us all as it otherwise might.”

“Zarek killed Adama,” Saul muttered again, brutal in his minced words. Nobody had bothered to doubt Baltar; everyone had seen it confirmed through the flight of Zarek and his associates, and assumed he had analyzed the bomb or something of that. It was now accepted, and the shuttle was being hauled up by tractors.

“What are you going to do about it, Commander Tigh?”

“What the Frack are you going to do?” Saul turned around to face Tisara.

“Give you the power to deal with him,” Tisara replied simply, and then added, “Paper?”

Someone had enough of their wits about them to bring her a sheaf of the eight-sided Colonial writing paper, and from a pocket, Tisara produced a pen in which she began to write, referring to a small list she'd obtained from ground security before heading over to the Galactica. Saul paced behind her, waiting while boiling in his fury.

“What are you doing?!” He finally snapped.

“Patience, Commander. I am writing and signing lettres de cachet for the executions of Zarek and his minions,” she explained after a moment, and then saw the looks of confusion, clarifying, “Acts Attainder, save issued by myself personally as well as given Assent, since I rule the state as a personal holding. Of Taintedness, the execution of subjects by the direct command of the highest Sovereign authority.”

“You're giving me the legal authority to have them Spaced?”

“Or shot if you prefer.” She checked the last name again and finished the florid compositions in High Taloran Seal Script, marred only by the use of the standard abugida of the High Taloran script to transliterate the names of those marked for death.

“That's unconstitutional,” Baltar muttered from the far side of the room.

“I haven't recognized your constitution yet,” Tisara said with a dry, amused sort of cant to her ears. “Would you like me to do that next, Gaius Baltar? I shall also write out another order making you Chief Minister of the Duchy of Kobol, and another delegating all powers of Ducal Assent to you.” With that, elegant calligraphy finished the final letter, and she tapped them into a neat stack and handed them over to Saul Tigh.

“Flush the scourge of anarchy from your people whom I have been made to rule, Commander, and preserve my pride before my people with your vengeance on your comrade's assassins. As I ironically explained to Zarek myself—and he ignored what I said—I would be responsible for all the bad, even as I was prevented from doing good. So I will take responsibility now and act for both the good, and vengeance against the evil, and quell any doubts about my capability. Kill them, Commander. Don't give them another minute of life.” And relieve from me some not-inconsiderable embarrassment she thought have under her breath, but Saul's fury was too great to notice.

“I'll do it.”

“No you won't!” A furious, terrified Ellen Tigh had rushed into the room just in time to overhear Tisara. “There's no damn proof that Zarek did it, and he was acting to preserve our independence—and you'd take execution orders from her?! A Taloran, one of those who has enslaved us?”

She rushed up, as though to engulf her raging husband in some sort of comforting hug, and perhaps snatch the papers from him. But she pulled up short on realizing that his expression had not softened one bit, and was turning on her with a horrible fullness of hate. That was certainly not to be good, not good at all...

“Are you really all going to play along with their...” She was cut off by a choke of pain and a cry as she tumbled back and stumbled, falling to the floor, her cheek livid with a welt from a six-fingered hand. Tisara Urami had, quite simply, took one look through the vapid political climber who was Salu Tigh's wife, and heard her words, and not liked the lies contained therein, and so she had, without a second's thought, bitchslapped Ellen Tigh.

She pushed herself to her feet and looked with livid eyes to Tisara and then to Saul. “You're going to let her do that to me on your bridge!?”

“I just did,” Saul answered, and suddenly screamed with fury. “And GET OFF my fracking bridge, Ellen! This is TO DAMNED MUCH. Zarek killed Adama, and I am going to see him breathing vacuum!” He glanced toward some of the still-shocked personnel around them. “Well, don't just stand there, get her off the fracking bridge!” Saul shouted once more before turning back to Tisara in a blind rage.

“As long as you haven't written yourself out of absolute power yet, I want a divorce. Associating with that assassin... Damn you to Hades, Ellen!” He shouted at her retreating back as she was escorted away by the relieved bridge crew.

Tisara's ears flexed and dashed with amusement, and the paper—she was cursorily familiar with the idea that humans had a concept of civil marriage—was composed in a few extra minutes, before the other two acts which were provided to Baltar.

It was just in time for Lee Adama to get in touch with Tigh.

“Commander?” He sounded shaken with grief even over the audio linkup from the Pegasus. “Where do you stand? Will you support my father's speech?”

“To the death,” Saul answered through the handset simply, before looking to Tisara, and adding. “We've got support from the Archduchess, and she's legally recognized our constitution. President Baltar is here. Do you wish to speak with him? I have.. Business to attend to.” There was someone else waiting on the bridge, having waived for his attention—one of the hangar deck chiefs.

“Commander? Well, alright. You support Baltar as Acting President?”

“I sure as frack don't want the job,” Tigh answered, and handed the handset over, walking away, still trembling in cold fury, and still holding the Attainders that Tisara had signed.

“We've brought aboard Zarek and his compatriots, Sir.”

“Then let's go take care of business.” I only pray that I can do my best to live up to his memory, Tigh thought in the first moment of clarity since the news had reached him. It would be a tough act to follow, and the burden of what would be required in the effort made him even more determined to take care of “business.” Adama might not have approved of the extrajudicial executions, but Tigh would be damned if he didn't execute them before stepping into the very, very big shoes of the late William Adama. It was the least he could do, for a memory and a faded hope. The survival of their people loomed ahead, as the black cycle of internal bloodshed and dissension fell briefly sated from its heights, and left unresolved so many things. What we will do without him? What will I do? Tigh could only do his best, and hope that would be enough.
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. -- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.

In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back. -- Red Banner / White Star, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.

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