“I don’t like this!” Laura snapped. “With both you and Pegasus
here, the Fleet is undefended.”
“Not exactly, Madame President,” Admiral Adama said. “Our Raptors discovered an interesting nebula nearby—it absorbs artificial emissions at all but the shortest of ranges. The gas clouds are too thin to present a hazard to the civilian Fleet, so they are now hiding within that nebula. And they are accompanied by a full squadron of Pegasus
’ Vipers and ten Raptors. The Cylons would have to stumble blindly across them in order to discover their presence. And that, Madame President,” he continued, “means that both Galactica
can be here for these negotiations.”
“Negotiations!” she snorted. “They’re fracking Cylons, Bill! This is a ploy, a ploy to destroy your Battlestars and leave the Fleet defenseless.”
“Which is why we are keeping our FTL drives spun up and our pilots are ready to make combat landings, Madame President. You agreed to speak with their representatives.”
Laura shook her head and here, in private, she did not bother to keep the angry expression from her face. “After Zarek informed the rest of the Quorum of their ‘offer’? I didn’t have a choice—these two Cylons are smart ones, by offering to ‘surrender’ to us, they play us against each other, raising hope that perhaps they can be reasoned with. They are machines—programmed machines, and they will never change.”
“Look on the bright side, Madame President,” Adama said as he walked her out of his quarters and down the corridor towards CIC. “At least this has taken the minds of the Fleet off of Baltar’s accusations against you—or questions as to where exactly the ‘recovering’ Vice-President is.”
“You always seem to find that silver lining, Admiral,” Laura laughed and then she held her hand before her mouth. “Shall we?”
“Why not?” he asked in answer and the Marines opened the hatch for their Admiral and his President.
“DRADIS confirms three Nova
-class Basestars—two match the signature of those we met earlier, the third is heavily
damaged, Admiral—and three Obelisk
-class Freighters; they are holding range as agreed. So far, no additional ships or Raiders on DRADIS,” Saul reported as the Admiral entered CIC. "CAP is deployed, and I've got the whole gods-damn airwing sitting in the launch tube on plus One."
“At least they are punctual,” Laura said as she nodded to Tom and the other members of the Quorum who were gathered in CIC.
“Madame President,” the former terrorist said and then he stepped in close and offered her a sad little smile. “I don’t trust them any more than you, Laura, but on the chance that their offer is genuine, we have a responsibility to hear them out.”
“Mister Zarek, I do not need you to lecture me on my responsibilities—and we are here. Against my better judgment, but here nonetheless as the Quorum has decided.”
Tom stepped back and he shook his head. But he didn’t say a word.
“Admiral,” said Dee, “we have the Cylons on wireless.”
“Madame President,” Adama said and he offered her the phone.
“This is President of the Twelve Colonies Laura Roslin. To whom am I speaking?”
“Caprica—my brothers and sisters have decided that I shall conduct these negotiations. As a gesture of our good faith, I am willing to release the POWs which we currently hold—provided that we can come an agreement on transferring them,” she chuckled in a sad tone. “I somehow doubt that you will allow any Raptor or Heavy Raider to land on Galactica
“You are holding prisoners?” asked Laura, her expression grim.
“We are, and we are willing to release them into your custody—no parole, they will be free regardless of the outcome of these negotiations.”
“Admiral,” Laura began, casting a glance at the Quorum and Adama picked up the phone. “Your doubts are correct. Have you environmental suits for the prisoners?”
“And how many are there?”
“Sixty-four in total.”
“I will send a shuttle, two Raptors, and four Vipers to rendezvous with your Heavy Raider half-way between the fleets. They will not dock. We will extend a line between the shuttle and your Heavy Raider, and the POWs can cross over in that manner. Any attempt to infiltrate a Cylon among them will result in the immediate end of these negotiations.”
A pause. “That is acceptable. How long will you requi- . . .,”
“ADMIRAL! MULTIPLE CONTACTS ON DRADIS!”
“It’s a trap!” snapped Laura.
“Saul, beginning spinning up FTL to rendezvous with the Fleet—inform Pegasus
and recall the fighters. Talk to me, Dee.”
, Kat,” the wireless crackled. "Multiple Gemini
- and Wishbone
-class Basestars have jumped in near the Cylons—they are launching Raiders . . . HOLY FRACK!” she cried. “They are firing into the Cylons! They just killed one Nova
“Confirmed, Admiral,” said Dee. “Six Gemini
- and four Wishbone
Bill and Saul looked at each other and then the Admiral sighed. “Madame President, we do not have the firepower to intervene.”
Laura smiled. “This is not our fight, Admiral. I trust the Quorum agrees?”
“It also corroborates—in part—their story, Madame President,” said Zarek. “But I agree—engaging this number would be foolhardy.” And one-by-one, the others also nodded.
“Admiral,” Laura said in a formal tone. “Withdraw to join the civilians.”
Adama put his arms behind his back and he stared at the DRADIS icons, the icons so familiar to him from so long ago. They had returned.
“Combat landings, we are leaving as soon as all fight-. . .,” but again he was interrupted.
“NEW CONTACTS! They appeared beyond the Cylons, right at the edge of maximum DRADIS range. I’m reading Colonial transponders!” Dee cried and then her face fell. “Admiral, its Battlestar Scorpia
,” and then she blanched. She looked up and said in an unwavering voice clipped of all emotion. “Admiral, she’s moving to engage the enemy.”
“BELAY THAT ORDER!” Adama barked. “Launch everything we and Pegasus
have on the deck and move closer to engage the enemy!” He looked at the President. “Madame President they will require time to recharge their FTLs, if we leave now . . .,” and his voice trailed off because no one present—military or civilian—failed to understand the consequences of leaving now
. And more icons began to appear as Scorpia’s civilians
jumped in behind her.
“Major Shaw is asking for confirmation, Sir.”
Saul Tigh snarled. “Inform Major Shaw that The Beast is to close and engage hostile Cylons—and if she doesn’t, I’ll fly over there myself and kick her ass the length of her flight deck!”
Dee blinked and she activated the comm. “Orders are confirmed, Pegasus
—advance into the attack. Launch all available Vipers.”
“It never rains but it pours,” the Admiral whispered to Saul.