Nan Madol, Pohnpei,
The Senyavin Islands,
German Federated Pacific,
Terra, Taloran Empire
20 APRIL 2169 AST.
"Our skin colour is actually excellently optimized against A-sequence stars," Fraslia grumbled with a tinge of embarrassment. "Anywhere else, I would not burn and peel remotely this much." She was still slathering immense mixtures of sunscreen and moisturizers on herself, and granted, both were very good. It was however a bit funny that she was still burning--she could simply not tan under exposure to the yellow light of a G-sequence star. She had at least been utterly religious about covering her ears until every flick sent gobs of the stuff in various directions, though the whole process was a bit dodgy.
Which was the reason for the embarrassment. "You haven't answered the question, Fraslia."
"Oh yes, fine. They're an erogenous zone, yes. At least as much as my breasts, or human breasts I suppose--I don't know, human breasts seem so big and turgid all the time that I don't see how they could ever be pleasurable. I'd be very disturbed if any Taloran woman..."
"Okay, Fraslia, you went from not telling me anything to telling me... To much." Laura laughed again. "But, I can see why--hmm. Why don't you just cover up your ears?"
"I'd be rather harder to hear... But it's just getting hotter and sunnier, especially that we're in the tropics and the spring. I suppose you're right." She reached back into her pack and started fishing through it for what turned out to be some coverlets she could clip to the kepi with a long neck-flap of the type that they were both wearing.
That explains what the buttons are for, Laura mused. They had been camping out on one of the artificial islands of Nan Madol, and it was a strange and somewhat scary experience for the past night. The whole area was intensely remote; once, Pohnpei had been an extremely populous island, though Nan Madol, the mysterious Venice built out of stone off the island in the mid-pacific, had been abandoned for much longer. It had been chosen by Fraslia not only for its historical significance but also so she could demonstrate that the Talorans were taking care of the Earth as well as humans, and in that respect, Roslyn had to admit, they had succeded: The Earth, once in a process of runaway global warming, had seen it halted and stabilized, with sea levels (at least for the next few thousand years) being stabilized only several meters higher than they had been in the 21st century. This left parts of Nan Madol still submerged, and even the rest of it above water was only barely above water; their watertight tent had sometimes shuddered in the night from breakers hitting it at high tide (though it had been well-pennoned against that eventuality). It was low tide now, though, and they could hang their legs over the edge of the rock-hewn platform and eat breakfast, looking out at the half-sunken ruin of a city laboriously built by hand and rock, out of rock, thousands of miles from the other nearest true civilization.
It was breathtaking, and incredible, and made Laura feel proud of human accomplishments, even as she was respectful of the point that Fraslia had wished to make by coming here. The Talorans had done a great deal of good to the Earth already--even if, ironically, some of the efforts had been initially undertaken by the UTHP and their Green allies--and life was already beautifully again flourishing on the island of Pohnpei to which they'd traveled from New Guinea on a tramp freighter making the resupply circuit around the German Pacific Islands, though on the later regard, Laura was immensely glad she hadn't visited on her college days.So lucky that we don't have schnapps--I would have never graduated... The memory of the boisterous Captain's liquor cellar made her rub her head impulsively, even though it was a week gone: They were bound to board another such ship for the trip to China that evening.
"So," Fraslia spoke again, flexing her ears to make sure that the coverings were properly fitted, "time for us to be headed back, I would say?"
"Yes." Laura looked out to the sea one last time, and then pushed herself up. They'd already packed, and so they just donned their packs both and headed through the maze of rubble and remnant buildings until they reached the far side of the artificial island, where they'd placed their zodiac--whatever that was, it was just a rubber, electric-motor powered raft, simple and durable--and Laura loaded it while Fraslia carefully pulled out the pinion and then climbed in before it started to drift back. A few minutes later, they were on course to head back to the main village on the island, nimbly pulling away from the half-ruined and half-submerged city of Nan Madol.
The motor was very quiet, and there was just the sounds of the water in the lagoon against the hull as they powered their way back. It gave Laura some time to reflect. Certainly she was healthier and happier than she'd been since the attacks, and even before, recovering her strength and managing to get in shape during their aggressive exploration of South America. And it was indeed South America--even beyond the incredible cultures of New Guinea, the countless variations of this world in comparison to the nominally larger twelve colonies with their comparative, and strangely limited, monocultures, which drew her back. The flutes in the hills, eerie in memories that they brought back, the stunning work of the Nazca Valley that she saw as religious, and Fraslia had respectfully avoided commenting upon.
But most of all the strange enigma of the pyramids and what they meant, of the incredible age of the structures in the Casma Valley, that the very, very first civilizations of Earth should mimic the immense and perfect Pyramids of Kobol. And what, beyond them? The immense earthen Pyramid-tombs of China would be their next stop, then the Hindu temples of India, the citadel of Arg-e-Bam, the ruggedness of Central Asia and the Caucasus, the fertile crescent, the Great Dam of Yemen, and then the Pyramids of Egypt and Nubia, worthy of comparison in design and execution to the structures of Kobol itself, and beyond that, Jericho and Catal Huyuk, the first two known cities in the human history of Terra: The beginning of a story which should have shown humans to be sophisticated, not stone-tool-using primitives who had nonetheless crafted such incredibly fine and intricate structures.
And then, just to finish things off, the megaliths of Europe, and back down through Central America to the mysterious pyramids and bloody legacy of human sacrifice. It was all a bit overwhelming, and more to the point, quite frequently frustrating. After all, there was no evidence at all for the human settlement of Terra--and plenty of evidence for humans settling here, at every single museum (and they'd been to a dozen) of natural history that they'd stopped at along the way. It seemed absolute fact that humans had come from Terra originally--but then what was Kobol to them? Or more precisely, how did we get to Kobol from Terra thousands of years ago? The Terran humans didn't have the technology then. It works both ways--and that's as disturbing as hell.
One possibility which she could not help but think of was of direct divine intervention, which was part of what disturbed her--frightened her. As the Gods should frighten someone when they were confronted with their power. What did it mean for their future and fate? And how do the Talorans fit into it all? They were certainly, she had concluded, not the enemies of humanity, if cynical and manipulative in their own ways, cloaked in observance of their monotheistic religion. Fraslia herself was decent, principled, and a fine traveling companion, even if Laura was sometimes ashamed of the looks they got and the expectation that Fraslia had a lover in her from the sometimes bigoted humans about.
Strange, to call them bigoted when I fracking nearly thought the same things myself. She was smiling wryly, then, and Fraslia caught it.
"What are you thinking of, Laura? Everything alright?"
"Oh, very much so. I was just laughing in my mind at a few of the adventures we've already had."
"It's been nice," Fraslia agreed, "And we've only started, too--which I'm glad of. I needed this: It's clearing my head, getting me away from Starfleet and Barony alike for a while. And, recently," a wry flick of covered ears, "hospital beds."
Laura laughed. "I think I have you beat there, Baroness."
"Point readily conceded. I wouldn't wish that on anyway. And that, I suppose, is part of why I got you out. Injustice.."
"..Is intolerable. Whatever else I've learned, Fraslia, you are true to your word. We'll find a way to set things right--when the gods want them set right. Until then..."
"..We've got a freighter to catch," Fraslia finished for Laura, and respectfully not bringing up the issue of Gods, they maintained a companionable silence until they arrived at the main village.
The Planet Oralnif,
Colonial Refugee Arcology,
24 APRIL 2169 AST.
"So you're sure that you can get me to Universe Designate CON-5 and the Alliance territories?" D'anna leaned back, legs crossed, somewhat suspicious of the pallid and tiny little lady--nonetheless quite attractive--in front of her. "When you first met, you said that you were just a contractor for the Taloran government bringing in supplies here from Earth, you know? How does that work?"
"I have dual-citizenship; the Talorans don't care about these things. You must be aware of it by now. Their society has virtually no restriction and no control. The only security network is the social one that the Farzian Temple Orders run. The function of government is primarily War; the Empress is still fundamentally a Grand Feudal Lady and this nation is still based on those ties. It makes crossing the borders pretty easy, and people like me, who have personal contacts, all the more useful," Lucianne d'Orvilliers smiled back reassuringly and brushed away some of the locks of her dark hair, held in place by a simple band and hanging about a shoulders.
"They'll check us when leaving this universe, though?"
"Of course. They're just looking for Communitarians who may be trying to flee the Imperial ban, though. We'll have forged papers for you showing your Catholic birth records in Ireland, however. Those will be accepted without question." The conversation was being held after dinner in D'anna's small suite, though the Amaretto was Lucy's; a gift to a prospective lover. So far the evening had been lovely, the food that D'anna had made was excellent--it really was perfect.
"Tell me about religion back in the Alliance?"
"Well, it's a pluralistic society, so all religions are tolerated. Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhs, the main monotheistic religions. Hinduism represents polytheism though only in an abstract sense. Notice that the Talorans here do see Hindus as monotheists in a theological sense. Buddhism is more complex, but together with Hinduism and some refined eastern beliefs represents what's called the Dharmic, rather than Redemptive religions. Your own strict-polytheistic religion here is only followed by a few groups in the Alliance, though some are numerous. Asatru, Wicca and so on. I can introduce you to them..."
"I'd actually like to study monotheism," D'anna answered with a certain gleam in her eye.
"It isn't terribly accepting of people like us. Of course, your polytheism isn't, either, and I don't find myself particularly religious in any case. But I'll certainly accompany you for a while, D'anna. I have business to do in the Alliance, anyway, and you're certainly one of the more interesting people I've had the opportunity to meet in my life."
Lucy shrugged rather sadly. "I came from a very primitive world. I got out, and got longev treatments, but they didn't. Dead in their fifties."
"Some of the colonies are that bad, yeah. I'm already older myself--seventy, to be honest."
D'anna goggled for a moment across the table and then laughed. "Oh wow, you're older than my mother .. was." Her face fell strategically for a moment and garnered a sympathetic look from the tiny woman across the table. "I was not expecting that from someone who looked..."
"...Fifteen? That's a family trait, my mother may have died young, but she looked even younger when she did. It can be useful sometimes, though." Lucy didn't elaborate on how, because she'd rather not talk about it.
"You are very pretty, regardless. Uh, most fifteen year olds don't have curves nearly as nice, we'll put it that way." She leaned like a predator across the table. "And that is really what you came here for? A bit of an escape from stifling religious puritanism..."
"...And this from a student of religion," Lucy shivered. "But. Yes." The words were tinted with a trace of nervousness, then forced down. But that only encouraged D'anna. "I know so many beautiful places in the alliance," she started to say, seeming to gain confidence as she did, "to which we can travel while on my business arrangements and then I can help you settle down and when I return from the Empire again, we'll have months together every year. You're young enough that you can easily afford rejuv, and you've got the face and experience to charm every Alliance media outlet there is. They'll be fighting over giving you a contract, and even if human religions don't accept homosexuality, the Alliance government certainly does..."
"You're babbling," D'anna smiled and got up, even as Lucy sank back into her chair, and let the much taller and incredibly beautiful woman step closer to her, lean down over her, and bring their lips together in an exploratory kiss. The moment Lucy's lips parted and her tongue slipped out, though, the whole nature of the embrace changed. She wrapped her arms around D'anna and pulled in her, sucking on her tongue, her own rolling along the length of her newfound lover's before thrusting forward into D'anna's mouth.....
...And so they kissed for quite some time, the tall blonde finally parting in a bit of surprise. "So coy, and then you prove that you're as skilled as any older lover I have. C'mon. A journalist's boudoir isn't that scary." She tugged Lucy up, and the smaller woman followed, shedding her clothes as she went, a salacious look on her face.
It was two hours later when they were finally finished making love, and got into the shower... Just to mess around a bit more. Lucy, who had no shortage of partners in her life, was still surprised by the verve and intensity of the Amazonian figure she was making love to, and left fully exhausted to many smiles and promises of returning the next day to finalize the escape for D'anna out to the broader world.
D'anna herself had no more shut the door than she had sighed with relief that things were going so well. She had, after all, been cut off under jamming fields from all contact with any other Cylons for more than a year, and it was wearing on her. Meeting with the other active fleet Cylons they'd managed to put together a small computer virus which might affect the Taloran fleet, and successfully implement it. But no data could be sent back without being intercepted and all of them taken and shot, or spaced, and that had been that.
Yet D'anna had always been curious, very curious, of the origins of the One God and the One Religion, and after so long without contact of her fellows on a regular basis, had resolved to both make a reconaissance of the broader world, first thinking of Earth and then, of course, immediately seizing on the broader repercussions of the 'multiverse.' She must learn what humans were like elsewhere, and the nature of the human religions that seemed common to all universes, but not to the humans of Kobol. Lucy d'Orvilliers, in addition to being an enormously skilled lover, had fallen right into her lap in that regard, and D'anna would push the relationship to the hilt, even if it meant driving the coy and clever smuggler into betraying her own race. However impressive, she was only human, after all.
An hour and a thousand klicks away, Lucy d'Orvilliers had just stepped off a jet-hopper to the main Taloran military base on the planet and was walking over to the single officers' quarters, a series of apartments that, with two bedrooms (one for the officer, and one for her batgirl), were reasonably spacious and large. The shower had been necessary, considering she was getting home late to her other lover, who had before D'anna been by far the most important. Major Najhakia Ruhaliyu was certainly a major source of information, and a somewhat careless one at that. Most paedophiles were. Lucy however had been involved with her for two years now, and knew intimately every single detail of the Starfighter Corps' (she was, of course, a gunboat officer, since Taloran females were generally to large for the fighters themselves) officer, who commanded a squadron of sixteen J'u'crea type heavy assault gunboats. Every single detail of her personal life, in particular, and most of the professional ones.
Sometimes, she actually felt sorry for Najhakia. It was a dangerous emotion in most people in her line of work, but Lucy had always been unique like that. The stems added distance right now--one of the wonderful luxuries of the Taloran Empire was that nobody thought the slightest of it if she shot up in public on a public flight, and the drugs had removed the exhaustion from her body, removed the chary look in her eyes and gave her the perk and vigour that would shortly be required. When she got home late, Najhakia always demanded sex.
And Lucy was consummate at providing it. "Love," she offered with a soft and relaxed smile, a bit timid as she always was, but then opening up.
"You've been gone late." The tall Taloran swept her small body up and carried her back into the bedroom; Najhakia's batgirl, whom Lucy found enormously sweet, honest, and possibly the only decent person she could call a friend from the past three years, was certainly already asleep, and the walls had been built to provide blast protection in the case of a surprise attack, so at least the guilt of waking up someone who didn't need to hear sin in action could be avoided.
"Taking care of business..." Lucy sighed and smiled, and worked the buttons on her blouse as Najhakia veritably ripped her trousers off. "As I often do. But this time, unfortunately, it means I need to go back to Earth in a Terran fortnight, give or take a day. Three weeks, my love...." Her head, twisted to the side, gave her the opportunity for a flicker of involuntary shame as her panties were stripped off.
"Then I better make up for lost time.... You need a ship?" Najhakia slipped a hand between her legs and so the first answer was a moan as Lucy's hands tightened against the blankets.
"The independent contractor, Vern, he'll be fine?"
"Mmnnn. Of course. Now..." She pushed herself up and grinned, their eyes meeting for a moment as she reached out to wrap her hands around Najhakia's head and encourage her upwards to where that finger was diddling her already, suitably wet to the stimulus. "We've talked business enough. Less teasing and more sex, please."
"...Always a pleasure, you little minx."
Lucy abandoned herself to the moment. There was nothing else to do, though the worst part was how she'd lost track of when she was faking sex and when she was actually enjoying it; it sometimes made her very disturbed at the prospect that she had ended up bisexual after all these years of sin. But no matter, it was part of the job; and what made her so convincing was how she really did seem to enjoy it once she got over the first wave of fear and shame, and threw herself into the act, into the relationship in turn even in the small and intimate moments, with a wild abandon. As she did now, as she always had. But reminding herself it was just part of the job was what helped her keep track of reality in the tangled web of her life, and she did it one lost time before she lost herself to Najhakia's passion.
The Planet Oralnif,
The High Orbitals,
25 APRIL 2169 AST.
"Admiral to the bridge! Admiral to the Bridge! Your Serene Grace, your present is requested on the bridge immediately!" The urgent message woke Tisara Urami in her quarters on the poetically named Kyla the Harrier, named after a general of Saverana the First's in her late reign who was famed for her relentless long-distance rostok pursuits of enemies that the Great Queen had broken in the field. The Empress Mikela IV-class dreadnought was one of thirty-two dreadnoughts of the Imperial fleet--four whole battle-squadrons!--which had ultimately been posted to Oralnif with the withdrawal of the Midelan forces commanded by her Aunt. Tisara was once again comfortably in command of her province, and this time as a brevet Admiral with an equal number of fleet carriers, sixty-eight battlecruisers, sixteen light carriers and sixteen battleships for the defence of Oralnif also provided. Certainly all the ships were, except for a single squadron of Kalammi-class battlecruisers and a second squadron of Kriulosh-class battlecruisers (such as her old Orelyost), of the very oldest types.
Yet they showed that, considering her success in delivering intact a living example of a biological warship (so useful, when the Empire had only encountered biological ships once before, and the Istegard incident had seen them all completely vapourized when found) that would provide information on the capacities and limitations of the type which was apparently prevalent and threatening in some other universes in the cosmos, she had been somewhat rehabilitated. Oh, she understood that if at that moment she had chosen to cast Ysalha loose, she might very well have been promised rehabilitation in the near future. But she had refused to do that, and...
...So though her cage had gotten very gilt indeed, Tisara Urami was still the Admiral in command and governor in charge of the Oralnif Spinward Sector and also the informal prisoner of the sectorial borders. And the enemy operations zone to spinward, naturally. As a Princess of the Blood and close friend of her mother, Saverana the Second had ultimately come through for her in one major way--she had overruled Sipamert and conceded that Tisara could, indeed, competently represent the interests of the dynasty within the newly created Cylon Military District.
So the actions came naturally, too, even with the painful absence of Ysalha. Stims slipped into a vein with a grimace of pain, and then she was dressed in her vacsuit while the ship was called to stations, and crisply headed out of officer's country to the flagbridge--which was intentionally posted nearby, of course, making the whole affair take about three minutes until she was standing before hologram, frightfully alert, though still fidgeting with the clasp of her Prussian blue cloak, a feature of the uniforms of Regular Starfleet Full Admirals that she had not yet gotten used to, and which was worn over even vacsuits as a symbol of rank and authority.
Her Acting Chief of Staff, the ethnically Dalamarian Captain Ilahmbh Xinojha (Dalamarians having a unique branch of the Taloran ur-language where feminine names ended in consonants whereas virtually all other known language families saw them end in vowels), ran down the situation with an ornate speech that was somewhat less concise than Tisara approved of. Then again, Ilahmbh had the disposition of a saint to keep her sanity intact when replacing Ysalha even in a professional capacity, and Tisara was a reasonable enough person to appreciate her for it. "Admiral, the situation is that we've got a lone penetrator coming into the system at extremely high velocity. They jumped in on the outer approaches but they were already clearing .995c on their jump and now they're deaccelerating at three thousand gravities on target for orbital insertion. Sensors estimate tonnage about ten megatonnes, energy readings dreadnought-level."
"Anti-matter reaction." The statement was as flat as it could be; nothing else was possible.
"Yes, Admiral," Ilahmbh said a bit unnecessarily. "We've already run a check against all known designs. Nothing checks out."
In the background, readiness reports droned proudly on: "Battle Squadron Sixty reports ready. Battle Squadron Twenty-three reports ready, Battle Squadron Seventeen reports ready, Battle Squadron twenty-nine reports ready... Carrier Squadron thirty reports ready.."
"One moment, Captain. I had not expected them so soon, and.." Tisara stepped forward and, accessing her cybernetic data storage, jacked into the consoles around the holoprojector, displaying from it detailed imagery of a ship and its specifications. "The Synthetic Control Cruiser Dhirisma. She was due to arrive four days from now. As you know, Ysalha is aboard. About ten megatonnes and capable of two thousand, nine hundred gravities of acceleration."
"She's redlining to get here if that's the ship," Ilahmbh adapted quickly enough, brushing back her blonde hair and frowning intently. "Your Serene Grace, why haven't they contacted us if it's the Baroness Titangirt?"
"Give me an exact read on her g's of de-acceleration, Captain," Tisara answered instead, very, very tautly.
"One moment..." The figures were drawn up from the computer and Ilahmbh flexed her ears oddly. "Three thousand seventy-four gravities. If she's on overdrive, why isn't she going three thousand eighty-one? That's within the..."
"Seven marks off. Code Seven, Captain. It's an old trick we learned along the frontier back when I was a cruiser captain. Since we normally accelerate in hexadecimal fractions of our maximum rated power, varying the ship's acceleration by a few gravities up or down could itself be a simple fleet code to other ships when all other forms of communication were impossible or unreliable. It's a marvelous trick, and I don't know why those fools back at central haven't put it in the book."
"Code seven means that the fleet is to observe total communications silence due to enemy electronic surveillance."
"Exactly, Captain. Now you know why she isn't signalling."
"By Idenicamos' harem!" Ilahmbh flushed at the outburst, then was crisply back to business: "Orders, Admiral?"
"Bring the battlefleet to interpose between the Dhirisma and the planet, standard intercept. And as we initiate the manoeuvre, I want every ship and every station in the system to engage in maximum electronic warfare jamming, optimized against communications surveillance and passive ship tracking."
"Of course, Admiral. You want them to think we're making a hostile intercept, and then lose all data."
"Precisely," Tisara smiled languidly. Ilahmbh had prospered under her wrath in the past months precisely because she was very very quick on the uptake. "Then, once the situation has been dealt with, we can drop jamming and resume normal operations--well, officially. We'll be waiting for them."
"You suspect it is more than just surveillance?"
"What do you expect that ship is arriving for so quickly? I rather do indeed, Captain, I rather do indeed. Inform me when we've matched velocity with the Dhirisma, and prep a shuttle. I'm going over personally." She strode off the bridge, the grand cloak licking at her heels while inside, her heart pulsed with happiness. A fight was in the offing, and Ysalha had come back to her. A year of misery was lifted in a drug-adled flash of fortune and promised glory.
It had taken hours for Dhirisma to accelerate, but now she waited tensely with Ysalha inside of one of her airlocks, waiting for her first encounter with the woman who dominated the heart of Ysalha, the extension of herself. The AI had very, very mixed emotions about Tisara Urami.
Then the massive inner door was unlatched and slid open, and there she stood, short but enormously proud, blue-caped, mismatched eyes arrogantly set like Valera herself, with the seaweed green hair that tended to run heavily in the heirs of Valera--and had also been a feature of the founder of the dynasty, who about matched Tisara's height. The resemblance between the portraits of the Sword of God and Tisara was marked even to Dhirisma, but the personal behaviour.. Could not be more outrageously different.
"Your Serene Grace, my compliments. I am Dhirisma, and welcome aboard my hull."
Tisara ignored her and moved immediately with a desperate passion to sweep Ysalha up--and slam her into the back bulkhead rather hard as she did so. Tisara was strong, particularly under the influence of combat drugs, and Ysalha, though larger, had been enormously fragile since the accident. The breath left her in a cry, and they rebounded into each other as Tisara kissed her lover's lips passionately and then trailed her lips down her mouth to start gnawing on her neck. Of Tisara's new aides that had been provided with the expansion of her staff to that suitable for a full Admiral, only Ilahmbh seemed unflappable.
Or so it lasted for only a moment longer until Dhirisma grabbed her by the shoulder and pried her away. "Tisara. We need to talk." The AI was looking down very seriously at the shocked Taloran Admiral. But it only lasted a moment.
"Dhrisima! Turn off that damned tractor beam!"
"Sorry." The pressure was released immediately.
"Ship, you had better explain.."
"You could have given her a concussion!" Dhirisma shouted angrily. "Look, now, without her I'd die, and she would have never been whole without me, ever again. So we're going to have to settle this quickly but one key thing is that I don't want her ever seriously hurt. And call me Dhirisma. She does."
"She defines what's serious for her," Tisara remarked coolly. "And I just give her what we both need. A tossed glance to Ysalha. "You do call her Dhirisma, girl?"
"It's her name, Tisara. And I'm going to have to stand up for her, you know. Even to you. She's as real of a person as I am, and you're going to have to get used to it. You did get the cybernetics upgrades I requested?"
"Yes. Parallel processor and some algorithm translation software, a memory expansion--all fairly extensive, sophisticated work. But you asked for it..."
"Then access Dhirisma's network."
The exchange that followed took several minutes--Tisara was nowhere near as proficient as Ysalha and Dhirisma and nowhere near as connected--and required some explanation occasionally, anyway. In exchange, Dhirisma was somewhat fearless in attacking Tisara's stored memories and ferreting out things about Ysalha. But Ysalha's protestations, she began to realize, had been true--it had all always been consensual, even if the risk was severe from some of the stunts.
Neither one liked the other, particularly, but in that electronic exchange, conducted while Tisara's staff looked on in abject horror, a truce was settled on for the sake of their shared object of affection. The last bit of data, however, spurred Tisara into action.
"Transfer over the rest of the staff at once, Captain Xinojha, and all our belongs. Dhirisma is designed both the fleet flagship and the fleet Captain," she chuckled dryly at that. "And there is plenty in the way of quarters here for a staff of one hundred and fifty-two."
"On a ship fueled by anti-matter, Your Serene Grace?"
Tisara turned around coldly. "On a ship with the firepower of a dreadnought and its shielding, but capable of the acceleration of a destroyer, and with a dreadnought's ECM and communications power as well. We can place ourselves with any element of the fleet in the coming engagement and direct actions from considerable safety as long as we do our best to avoid direct battle. You may recall it was once a custom for admirals to command fleets from detached cruisers to stay out of the heat of the battle and allow their decision-making to be more cautious."
But you are not renowned for cautious decision-making, Ilahmbh thought, though she didn't elaborate. "Is there anything else, Your Serene Grace?"
"Issue a War Warning to this sector, the Terran Confederation territories, and the Earth Sector, and all seven adjoining sectors. Inform them that large-scale surprise attacks by Cylon forces are expected within days or possibly hours. The information was obtained by Special Technical Means of the Sectorial Governor of Oralnif Spinward, myself," she concluded simply. "And then order the fleet to enter position Epsilon-Trianguli and stay continuously at Condition Two."
"Of course." Ilahmbh, to her credit, never questioned the orders. "Captain Dhirisma," she decided on politeness in that moment to the AI, and didn't regret it, "I'll need access to your communications facilities for myself and the staff."
"Of course." Dhirisma tore herself away from Ysalha, led to the staff away.. And then popped up another hologram of herself back in the corridor. "Alright. Tisara, I apologize for being so overprotective. Can we go... Back to your and Ysalha's quarters, and talk over how we're going to do this?"
"She can really never leave you?" Tisara was suspiciously, fearfully eyeing her almost catatonically withdrawn lover.
"Not without insanity leading to death," Dhirisma replied simply. "I wish I was sorry, but..."
"There's no need to be. I'm here, after all," Ysalha said softly, smiled, and curled herself into Tisara, brightening the Archduchess' mood in a fraction of a heartbeat. "But yes. Let's go and try to find a working arrangement, for the moment. I will indeed never leave Dhirisma's embrace... But I'll never leave your's, either. We may be in combat within hours, days at most, so..."
"Find something that works, and stick with it until we can get to know each other better?" Dhirisma offered.
"Fair enough," Tisara answered, having decided from the moment she'd authorized the procedure that no matter the outcome, she'd stay with Ysalha. Now that meant accepting a nosy AI as a permanent participant in her personal life, and the vicious noblewoman was as resigned to its inevitability as she was snappish in the present. Tisara Urami, whatever her flaws, loved Ysalha with a singleminded devotion that hadn't swayed yet. But she also had a war to fight once again, and that consideration rapidly overwhelmed all others.