“And the result of this interrogation?” asked Laura.
Adama shook his head negatively. “Baltar insists that both the sidearm and the nuclear weapon were in his lab—he claims that he forgot the pistol was in his possession and he put inside a filing compartment and left it after Kobol, Madame President. Either he has an exceptionally strong will, or he actually believes that someone stole the device from his lab.”
“But the coincidences . . .,” started the President.
“Cannot be proven to be active lies by Baltar,” said the Admiral. “It strains the imagination that they are coincidences, but even under chemical interrogation he has stuck to his story,” the Admiral shook his head. “Although, I do believe the good scientist really has need of seeking professional help. One or two times, it was if he was answering questions someone else was posing—not us. And the new Court that the Quorum put into place will not allow us to continue to hold him, not on the full array of charges we wanted.”
He frowned. Newly installed High Justice Romo Lampkin—one of the few professional attorneys-at-law remaining in the Fleet had, on behalf of the Quorum, issued an order demanding that formal charges be filed or the Vice-President released.
“Without corroborating evidence,” Adama sighed, “there are only two things I can charge him with. The first is failing to inform me immediately that he lost a nuclear weapon. And that is only if we consider him part of the Fleet—as far as civilian law goes, technically his only crime in that regards, as the Justice told me earlier today, is improper storage and disposal of hazardous materials. The second is possession of handgun without a proper permit.”
Laura threw up her hands and cursed. “We know that he had to play a role in this—and we cannot do a thing to him?”
“His political career is over, Laura,” Adama said and he had a crooked smile on his lips. “Someone released to the Fleet that a nuclear weapon for which he was given responsibility found its way into the hand of terrorists—he will not be President.”
“And legally he will get a slap on the wrist!”
“And so will the majority of the Pegasus
crew,” said Adama. “Lampkin and I had a little chat about the matter—and he has pledged, publically
pledged—that he will investigate the accusations against the Pegasus
crew. Privately, he told me this entire thing is a bloody mess. Before the attack, if something like this would have happened, every man and woman on that ship would have been cashiered or incarcerated—or shot. He knows we cannot do that—we cannot afford the luxury of doing that—and while is conducting a judicial review of the situation, most of the crew will receive nothing more a note in their file. He did tell me that if he feels that the charges of rape can be proven, the individual in question will stand trial. And Major Shaw will probably be standing trial as well for her role on Scylla
; the recordings were rather damning in that regard.”
“I noted that you assigned him a security detail,” Laura said quietly.
“Yes. The Gemenesse are furious that he invalidated your order over abortion. He’s already been hung in effigy on several of their ships—and I don’t want them moving from an effigy to the real thing.”
“Your Commander Lorne will be happy,” Laura said bitterly.
Adama said nothing, until Laura got herself back under control.
“At least we are safe from the Cylons at the moment,” she said.
Adama shook his head. “That is a pipe-dream, Madame President. Once the Guardians discover the properties of this nebula, they will search meticulously—I know them. It is only a matter of time before they find us, which means as soon as our repairs are completed, the Fleet needs to move—and move fast.” He paused. “We have the coordinates where Caprica suggested for a rendezvous—and they still have our POWs, Laura.”
She glared at Adama, but he sat there unfazed until she looked away.
“We need to get those people back,” the Admiral said softly, “and if they are serious about combining forces against the Guardians, we need to consider their offer.”
“But this ship you found—the one you sent Anubis
to investigate,” Laura began.
“Could be anything, Madame President. We won’t know until Caldwell returns. And there is another matter we must address—soon.”
Laura frowned and she nodded. “Joyita
. I’ve heard that certain reporters are asking questions.”
“Right now, Scorpia
’s people are keeping their mouths shut, but that won’t last. We need to get ahead of this, Laura. And we owe it to Tory and Saul and Galen and Ellen that the news is broken to them gently before they get ambushed with this.”
She fumed, but she nodded. “And that ass Lampkin has already informed me—Commander Lorne gave him a full briefing, were you aware—that there is no charge which he and the Court will sustain against them,” she said bitterly.
“At the least, he delayed the elections for four weeks—eight weeks from today. That gives you an opportunity to repair the damage that Baltar dealt you, Laura,” Adama said with a grin.
“But now Zarek has thrown his hat into the ring—and there are rumors that Prince Hamish is considering a run as well,” and she paused, then chuckled. “Here I am, after we have united with nearly fifty-five hundred new survivors, worried about an election for an office I never dreamed I would hold.”
Adama just waited.
“What if that ship belongs to the Thirteenth Tribe, Bill?” she asked.
“In that case, Madame President, the election will be a foregone conclusion—if you are the President who managed to guide us to Earth.”
“The thing that worries me about that,” Laura said softly, “is what if they are not ready for the Guardians or the Cylons? What if we lead them there—and see the slaughter repeated?”
The Admiral frowned and he shook his head. “If—IF
—that ship belongs to the Thirteenth Tribe, then at the very least they are a space-faring civilization. An interstellar civilization—there is no world in the system that Racetrack surveyed that could support a sizeable colony able to build a ship,” he sighed. “But we will not know until we make contact—we have no way of knowing at this time how long that distress beacon has been activated.”
Laura nodded. “Send a Raptor to meet with Caprica at the coordinates you gave her, Bill. And arrange a new rendezvous to continue our discussions,” and she sighed. “And release Gaius fracking Baltar from the brig.”