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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.