When Two Worlds Collide (TGG - nBSG crossover) Completed.

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The Duchess of Zeon
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When Two Worlds Collide (TGG - nBSG crossover) Completed.

Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

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 Vehrec »

I'll try and hold back my utter distain for any system with a. . . NOBILITY.
The Tallorans think the Galactica is an Escort carrier? I thought its size and armament would make it more of a Dreadnaught-carrier. Or maybe it's somthing else. And they obviously haven't been looking to closely at design asthetics in the two fleets.

One more thing vexes me, I can't place this at a definate point in the BSG timeline. They have the Blackbird, but not Pegasus. That lasted for all of. . . what, 3 minutes in the actual series? And after the bird was shot down, we never heard from it again.
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Post by fgalkin2 »

It was actually built an episode earlier than "Pegasus." And yes, that's the period where this takes place.

A dreadnought carrier? WTF is that? The very name is a self-contradiction. You probably mean Fleet carrier, which the Galactica is most assuredly not, since fleet carriers in TGG-verse carry hundreds of fighters. And the Taloran cruiser is approximately the same size, so it's not exactly drednought-sized, either. So, escort carrier it is.

Oh, and Mari. None of the links in your post work.

Have a very nice day.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

fgalkin2 wrote:It was actually built an episode earlier than "Pegasus." And yes, that's the period where this takes place.

A dreadnought carrier? WTF is that? The very name is a self-contradiction. You probably mean Fleet carrier, which the Galactica is most assuredly not, since fleet carriers in TGG-verse carry hundreds of fighters. And the Taloran cruiser is approximately the same size, so it's not exactly drednought-sized, either. So, escort carrier it is.

Oh, and Mari. None of the links in your post work.

Have a very nice day.
I'll fix that.

And, remember, for chrissakes, these people are going off of incomplete scanning data and random guesses. They're making assumptions based on what they see and their own operating systems; a lot of them are going to be simply wrong. That's part of the way first contacts would really work.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Vehrec wrote:I'll try and hold back my utter distain for any system with a. . . NOBILITY.
You may disdain them, which is fine; nonetheless, as it is said, they are there.
One more thing vexes me, I can't place this at a definate point in the BSG timeline. They have the Blackbird, but not Pegasus. That lasted for all of. . . what, 3 minutes in the actual series? And after the bird was shot down, we never heard from it again.
Fima is correct, it's between the episode where the Blackbird is built and before the Pegasus is contacted. Future revelations will ultimately be factored in, but for the moment, that is where things stand.

P.S. the links are now fixed.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

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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Post by Vehrec »

fgalkin2 wrote:It was actually built an episode earlier than "Pegasus." And yes, that's the period where this takes place.

A dreadnought carrier? WTF is that? The very name is a self-contradiction. You probably mean Fleet carrier, which the Galactica is most assuredly not, since fleet carriers in TGG-verse carry hundreds of fighters. And the Taloran cruiser is approximately the same size, so it's not exactly drednought-sized, either. So, escort carrier it is.
I couldn't find the exact outro-intro segway, but as I recalled the Pegasus showed up while Apollo and Starbuck were still in the air after the first flight of the Blackbird. Hence why Apollo was the first pilot from Galactica to reach the Pegasus. Checking back, I find that they gave it its first flight BEFORE the naming of it. Now I feel like an idiot, especially comparing the two life-totals. They lost almost 200 people in the time between those episodes.

Galactica isn't a standard class of ship that's for sure. It has more armor than a cruiser, more guns than a carrier and more parasite capacity than a battleship. It's a generalist design, and one that seems tooled for survivability considering the sheer amount of punishment that she's taken since the start of the series. I would guess one way to figure out how much mass a ship has would be to observe how much acceleration it gets out of its engines, who's thrust can be measured. And Galactica seems a bit . . . slow to be classed as an escort carrier. Maybe that impression just comes from her size but it seems like a slow ship, not a persuit vessel.
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Post by Xon »

When you have FTL drives which can spinup in under 5 minutes, and once spinup are purely limited by computing speed on how fast and how far you can jump, high sublight preformance isnt as great a goal any more.
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Post by fgalkin »

Vehrec wrote:
Galactica isn't a standard class of ship that's for sure. It has more armor than a cruiser, more guns than a carrier and more parasite capacity than a battleship. It's a generalist design, and one that seems tooled for survivability considering the sheer amount of punishment that she's taken since the start of the series. I would guess one way to figure out how much mass a ship has would be to observe how much acceleration it gets out of its engines, who's thrust can be measured. And Galactica seems a bit . . . slow to be classed as an escort carrier. Maybe that impression just comes from her size but it seems like a slow ship, not a persuit vessel.
Well, you have to remember two things. Firstly, the Galactica was escorting civillian ships, and moving at the speed of the slowest of them. That makes any observation of her speed meaningless. Secondly, as Marina pointed out, it was what the Talorans thought at first sight. It doesn't mean that the Galactica is an escort carrier, but that's what they thought they saw when they encountered it.

Have a very nice day.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

fgalkin wrote: Well, you have to remember two things. Firstly, the Galactica was escorting civillian ships, and moving at the speed of the slowest of them. That makes any observation of her speed meaningless. Secondly, as Marina pointed out, it was what the Talorans thought at first sight. It doesn't mean that the Galactica is an escort carrier, but that's what they thought they saw when they encountered it.

Have a very nice day.
That is correct, Fima. Thanks for putting it in. The Talorans were basing their observations on the fact that the ship was operating in a close-escort role with a slow convoy.
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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.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Vehrec wrote:
Galactica isn't a standard class of ship that's for sure. It has more armor than a cruiser, more guns than a carrier and more parasite capacity than a battleship. It's a generalist design, and one that seems tooled for survivability considering the sheer amount of punishment that she's taken since the start of the series. I would guess one way to figure out how much mass a ship has would be to observe how much acceleration it gets out of its engines, who's thrust can be measured. And Galactica seems a bit . . . slow to be classed as an escort carrier. Maybe that impression just comes from her size but it seems like a slow ship, not a persuit vessel.
In WW2, Escort carriers were actually small, slow carriers for convoy escort, which is basically what Taloran escort carriers are, also. The Galactica is not all that small, but based on her role, it seemed a close enough fit.

Also, as an OOC note, Taloran heavy ships feature detachable mission-specific pods (multi-hundred meters long, for the record) on extended support pylons. They'd be inclined to interpret the Galactica's bays similarly.
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Post by Coalition »

Very nice story. I especially liked how Six reminded Baltar that Earth humans might not sympathize with their plight.
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

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.”
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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 pieman3141 »

Goddamn, I haven't been this giddy about a fanfic in a long long time. You sure can write!

I don't really have any criticism for this story, and the style is straightforward, which is definitely geared towards my own preferences when it comes to, what appears to be, a long epic of a story.

So, to conclude, keep it up! I'll definitely read more.
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Post by Enforcer Talen »


Ill be following this one.
This day is Fantastic!
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I'll post another chapter this evening.
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 »

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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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

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...?”
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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 »

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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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Do enjoy the double-header!
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 Alan Bolte »

Wow, awesome read. The characters are all quite well written, though that pick-up attempt seemed a little extreme, even for Baltar.
Any job worth doing with a laser is worth doing with many, many lasers. -Khrima
There's just no arguing with some people once they've made their minds up about something, and I accept that. That's why I kill them. -Othar
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The Duchess of Zeon
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Post by The Duchess of Zeon »

Alan Bolte wrote:Wow, awesome read. The characters are all quite well written, though that pick-up attempt seemed a little extreme, even for Baltar.
Lesbians probably just fail at writing guys picking up girls. We have negative perceptions there.
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 »

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 »

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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