“I know we haven’t much of a choice, Jon,” snarled one of the Saggitaron freedom fighters, “but working hand-in-glove with the Colonial Fleet? And now you want us to become Marines? Fracking Fleet Marines!”
Before Jon Namer could reply, another older man—a Tauron by birth, but a well-regarded member of the SMF regardless—snorted in derision. “Kurt, look at where we are. The Cylons have utterly gutted the Colonial government—including those tyrannical bastards on Saggitaron we fought against. That government is dead and gone—and so will we if refuse to adapt. We’ve got six hundred men, women, and children from the SMF left alive; six hundred
He glared at the individual leaders of the SMF cells that had gathered together under Namer’s command. “Not all of them are fighters—heck, we don’t have a hundred
fighters left, Kurt. And we are divided between Anubis
and Leonis Pryde
. Now, I don’t like the Fleet bully-boys any more than you do, but Jon has a point—this Commander Lorne has a point. We need to police ourselves, both to make sure our people stay alive and to keep us free. You don’t want to learn from the Marines? Kurt, they don’t want to teach us—but they will, because they have been ordered to do so. You don’t think there is anything they know that we can’t use
? And if we say no, if we refuse to cooperate, then others will form this new Fleet Police.”
“So? We fight them if they decide to crack down on our folks,” Kurt said stubbornly. “I’m not afraid of mixing it up, Callan; are you?”
“Callan has proven his bravery many times over,” Jon said as he stepped between the two men. “That was uncalled for, Kurt. And he is right—we either step it up and police these two ships ourselves or we get actual Fleet Marines in here to do it. Which would you rather have?”
“I’m not arguing against that, Jon! But we don’t need to have them train us—we’ve fought the black-legs for years and held our own!”
Jon glared the younger Saggitaron down until he subsided. “So we don’t need to be taught how to use non-lethal tactics? Close-quarters combat? What you can—and cannot—safely shoot on a ship? Folks, we aren’t on planet. We cannot go around and plant bombs without killing ourselves and our people in the process! We aren’t going to have the luxury of blending into a civilian population. We are going to have to step up and lay down the law, or someone else will do it for us.”
He waited until all of his top leaders nodded—some grudgingly, others more enthusiastic. And then Jon sighed and he ran his hand through his hair. “I don’t like this more than you do, Kurt—but what other option do we have? So far, Lorne has kept his word. He has left me in command of Leonis Pryde
and Sam Caldwell in command of Anubis
. He hasn’t split us up between the rest of the ships—with both these vessels, we are in the majority. He’s even given me—me and Sam—authority to decide who he assigns to the ship’s crews. But unless you want to see Laveride’s people get a stranglehold on ours again, what other choice do we have? Scorpia
can blow both of our ships apart in a single pass; hell, he can take us with his Marines if he has to.”
“We aren’t ending the fight by surrendering, Kurt. The fight is over because there is nothing left worth fighting for—Saggitaron is gone. All that is left of our people are here, now, aboard these few ships. We’ve got a new fight, and for this we cannot rely on terror and bombs and assassination. We need to prove—not to Lorne, not to the Fleet, but to ourselves—that we are not some nihilist group that only wants terror and bloodshed. That we did all that we have done for a higher purpose. That we are willing to step up and see to it that our people—all of our
people—can raise their children in safety.”
“I won’t wear a Fleet uniform—I won’t swear no fracking oath to the Quorum,” Kurt snarled softly.
“Who the frack is asking you to do either? The Marines are going to be training us—we aren’t going to join the Colonial Marine Corps, Kurt! We are going to be police, and if they need us to defend these ships from a Cylon attack, we are going to do that. We aren’t going to be used to break people—I won’t let us be used to break people!” Jon snapped. And then he stood up straight. “Unless you think I’ve gone soft? That I am willing to sell out my people for three hots and a cot?”
Kurt held up his hands as he winced. “Never said that, boss.”
“Fracking right, you never said that, because I’d kick your pale ass from one end of this ship to the other,” Jon barked and the compartment erupted in laughter—even Kurt chuckled and nodded in agreement. “Folks, the movement has moved on. We need to change—or we die out. Now, I’ve fought too long and too hard and lost too many friends to see us die out because we could not take the last step and become legit. Unless you want the Virgons put over us as police?”
“We step up, people, or we lose. And here, today, stepping up doesn’t mean targeting the Fleet and government—we have to become our people’s protectors,” Jon continued.
And his fighters and leaders of fighters slowly nodded. Even the hot-headed Kurt.
“Good. To start, that means we are going to stop harassing the Fleet personnel Lorne has assigned to these ships—I’m not joking around here. This cold war ends aboard our two ships.”
“Shit,” muttered one fighter, and low mumbles in the crowd showed that they didn’t like that.
“You want to add something, Jerem?” Jon asked. But the young man didn’t answer. “I thought not—this shit ends today
. Each of you has been entrusted with a group of fighters—make sure your people end this. Fleet and Marines gets treated just like you would treat any good Saggitaron—you got that?”
Slowly each nodded his assent, and Jon did the same. “Even if they are from Saggitaron, people—even if they joined the enemy, we start, today
, cooperating and working with them. Not fighting against them.”
Silence hung over the compartment, but they, one-by-one, nodded assent.
Jon sighed. “Good. Starting tomorrow, we begin training. So get it through your people’s heads—the war against the government is over. We didn’t lose, we didn’t win; the game got called early due to the Cylons. And we now have a new game, with new rules—and I sure as fracking hell don’t plan on losing because our people won’t follow the rules.”
He looked at his leadership and nodded. “Get on out of here, and get your fighters to understand what I just said. And enjoy tonight—because tomorrow, Hell’s coming to the Pryde