“Sir. Commander Lorne from Battlestar Scorpia
,” Spence reported after opening the hatch to the Admiral’s very spacious office.
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” a voice came from within. “You may wait outside—I will speak with our guest alone.”
“Commander?” Spence said as he held the hatch open.
Mathias nodded. “He doesn’t post Marines on his hatch, Lieutenant?”
“Captain Malcolm,” Mathias said. “Your detail will remain—for the moment. You are in command until I return,” he smiled slightly. “Hopefully, I won’t need you to come rescue me.”
“Aye, Sir,” Hamish answered as the Commander stepped over the coaming and the hatch shut behind him.
Rear Admiral Carson Trahn sat behind his desk and he didn’t look up at Mathias’s entry. “Commander, I have new orders for your command—effective immediately your Battlestar is now assigned to this station. Have you supply requirements that need to be met?”
“No, Sir, Admiral; nothing pressing, that is; however, I think you are laboring under a misconception—Scorpia
is not here to serve as your guardship. The Colonies are gone, Sir. The Cylons are in pursuit and they will eventually find us—probably quite soon. It is our duty as Fleet officers to safeguard what is left of the human race . . . not to defend a station full of secrets that no longer matters.”
Trahn looked up and his eyes narrowed. “Commander, it is not my habit to issue orders a second time—be warned I can have you thrown in the brig.”
“Admiral, with all due respect, Sir, you are a staff officer—not a line officer. And regulations stipulate that in a combat situation, which this situation is liable to result in when the Cylons do locate us,” if not sooner, Mathias thought to himself, “command devolves upon the senior Flag Officer of the line
, or lacking such, the senior Battlestar Commander on scene. Which would be me. Admiral Trahn, Sir.”
“Except that the Cylons will not be attacking us, Commander. They are well aware of the effects of this star’s radiation output. Only shielded vessels and stations such as this are safe for Cylon technology.”
“The radiation effects are not instantaneous, Sir. Tests at Ragnar showed that beyond all doubt more than forty years ago. The radiation takes time to degrade the Cylon effectiveness—time in which they can and will launch an attack to destroy my ship and the civilian vessels that are under my protection.”
Trahn snorted. “None of which matters, Commander. I have taken measures to ensure that this Anchorage will remain safe from Cylon predation.”
“Sir?” asked Mathias as he felt his skin crawl at Trahn’s words.
“Did you think that Cerberus went unnoticed for seven months, Commander? No, I am quite aware that the Colonies have been destroyed, but to protect my people, I have established a . . . dialogue with the Cylons. My research interests them greatly,” he said as he removed one glove to reveal a gleaming chrome prosthetic limb. “We can no longer fear the integration of man and machine, Commander,” and from the shadows at the rear of the office, a single red-eye woke to light—and a Centurion, an old-model
Centurion, stepped forward.
“You will remain here—or you will die.”