Gaius leaned back in his chair and he took a sip of cold cocktail. And Tom Zarek just kept on grinning.
“You hammered her, Gaius, oh, but for the love of the Gods, you hammered here in there. And it went out live to the Fleet—that woman is done . . . Mister President.” And he raised his own glass.
The door to the private suite opened and Laura Roslin walked in, trailed by Admiral Adama and a team of black-clad Marines. Tom’s face grew still and Gaius almost dropped his glass.
“Ah, Madame President, Admiral Adama. Laura, I do want to apologize if I came off as . . . overly hostile, but I have a duty to the people who elected me,” Gaius said. “Don’t you knock by the way?”
“Why would I be offended, Gaius?” Laura asked. “You just accused me on live video and in front of the Quorum of being a monster—what would possibly make you think that would in any way offend me? Although I will note that you did not tell the Quorum that it was your data—and conclusions—that finally convinced me to issue that order.”
“So this is how you are going to play it, Laura?” asked Tom, jerking his head at the Marines. “Which one of us are you planning to arrest?”
“Oh, I have questions for the Vice-President here, Tom. Or rather, Admiral Adama has some questions for the Vice-President.”
“This is a civilian ship, Admiral,” Gaius said trying to show no fear on his face—and failing. “And I am the elected Vice-President of the Colonies.”
“Where’s the nuclear warhead you needed for your Cylon detector, Doctor Baltar?” Adama snapped.
Tom’s eyes grew wide, and the blood drained from the face of Gaius as he bolted to this feet and dropped the cocktail on the expensive carpet.
“In my lab, Admiral,” he stammered. “It’s in my laboratory on board Galactica!”
“Your lab has been searched and inventoried, Doctor—you told me eight months ago that you needed the plutonium for your Cylon detector which failed to identify any Cylons in the Fleet after we left Doral at Ragnar Station. You tested Boomer and she came up clean—and I want to know where the rest of the plutonium and all of the other pieces of that warhead are—NOW.”
“You searched my lab? Without a warrant? This is an invasion of privacy! It is a blatant disregard of the campaign I am waging for President! I had every right to be present as you searched that area!” Gaius stuttered and sputtered.
Laura smiled at Gaius and then at Tom Zarek. “Gaius, Galactica is a military ship of the Colonial Fleet. No one onboard her has a right to privacy—the Commander . . .,”
“And Executive Officer,” Adama interjected, and Laura nodded.
“. . . and the Executive Officer have the right to search any compartment at any time. Without a warrant—it’s part of the Fleet Regulations, is it not, Admiral Adama?”
“It is, Madame President.”
Gaius gaped like a fish out of water, and he seemed to be looking away, looking at someone that wasn’t there and he nodded, then blinked. “It should be in the lab, Admiral—that is where I left it!”
“Secured, in the safe, Doctor Baltar?”
“Yes, yes, it is always secured in the safe!”
“Actually it wasn’t always
secured in the safe,” said Felix Gaeta as he walked in. “Admiral, Doctor Baltar left the case and the fissile material sitting on his work bench on numerous occasions—I had to secure both in the safe when he just walked out and left them.”
“This is,” Gaius said and he shook his head, “you are attempting to frame me. Someone on Galactica
took the warhead, and you are trying to frame me!” He turned to Laura and he clasped his hands. “Laura, please, don’t do this—don’t let them do this. I told the Quorum nothing but the truth, and now you and the Admiral here just want revenge—that is it isn’t it? You want to frame me, throw me in the brig, and make it seem as if I am a terrorist!”
“Gaius,” Laura laughed. “Who would ever think that you of all people would associate with terrorists,” and she cast her gaze on Tom Zarek.
Who backed away and held up his hands. “I didn’t know he had a nuclear device, and I certainly do not have a nuclear device—I have given up that part of my former life. Feel free to search my suite here and search the Astral Queen
“That is already being done, Mister Zarek,” Adama said in a very stern voice. “Doctor Baltar, I have a missing plutonium core, a lead-shielded case, a tungsten cradle, and the very toxic beryllium coating that covered the plutonium—where are they?”
“THEY WERE IN MY LAB!” he yelled.
“Put him in the brig!” Adama snapped and the Marines stepped forward and grabbed his arms. “Madame President, I request permission to perform chemical interrogation of the Vice-President of the Colonies.”
“Granted, Admiral,” Laura said.
And Gaius’ eyes grew wide as saucers. “It was stolen, Admiral!” he blurted out. “It was stolen six weeks ago!”
Everyone stopped and just stared at Gaius in dawning horror. Adama stepped up and grabbed him by the chin and he drew in a deep breath and stared him right in his eyes. “You didn’t tell me, for SIX FRACKING WEEKS
, that someone has stolen a plutonium core for a fusion warhead
“In hind-sight . . . ,” Gaius began, but Adama cut him off.
“GET HIM OUT OF HERE!” he roared.
Zarek sat down and his mouth hung open. “Laura, Admiral Adama, I had no idea,” he said as he poured a glass of whiskey with a shaking hand.
“We have to keep this quiet,” Adama said. “How do we do that without telling the Quorum? They will automatically suspect you and I did something if Gaius does not attend the session.”
“Your Marines are using the service corridors—cleared corridors, Admiral?” Zarek asked.
And Adama nodded.
“Okay, if no one sees him being hauled off, I might—might—be able to head off any inquiry,” and Tom snorted. “I will inform my fellow Delegates that Gaius was . . . distracted someone young and nubile and willing,” he swallowed the entire glass in a single gulp. “But that will hold off their inquiry only so long.”
“Admiral,” Laura began, but Adama was already nodding.
“I have a team from Galactica
searching her from stem-to-stern—Captain Gaeta, get back to Pegasus and very quietly inform Major Shaw of what has happened. I want an armed detachement on every ship to conduct a full search and I want it yesterday. Coordinate with Colonel Tigh.”
“Demand Peace?” Laura asked, and Tom winced.
“I was a terrorist—in your view, Admiral. But these . . . idiots
aren’t fighting for freedom or equal rights or representation; they actually believe that the Cylons will just let us go despite all the evidence to contrary. None of my people were behind this—and if they have a nuclear weapon . . .,” his voice trailed off.
All of them knew well just how far they had already gone.
“They do not have a functional weapon,” said Adama. “I stripped the warhead of the explosives and electronics required to initiate a detonation—but they still have almost six kilograms of plutonium. If they are very, very good and have access to the right explosives, they could rebuild a weapon—but right now, they don’t have one.”
Laura released her breath and so did Tom. “That’s a relief,” she said.
“But they could also reduce the plutonium to a powder and introduce it to the atmosphere circulation system aboard any of the ships in the Fleet—which wouldn’t be an as fast or dramatic as an explosion, but would be just as lethal for those who inhaled the plutonium particles, even if it takes them weeks to die.”
He shook his head. “Madame President, Delegate Zarek; I need to get back and coordinate this search.”
And he left, leaving Laura and Tom alone.