Zoe sat motionless on her throne as one of the Guardians entered her sanctum. She noted his entrance, but kept her attention focused on the scrolling data on the monitors which surrounded her—she did not need the monitors, of course. She could commune instantly with the computers, but she rather like using her eyes—her new human eyes.
She frowned. Father Daniel’s pets had proven a greater annoyance than she had anticipated—and her infiltration of Guardians in the form of the M-017 Cylons had proven less . . . effective
than she had planned for. Only luck had managed to save her at Cylon Prime—luck and the sacrifice of one of her escort ships which had been rammed by Cavil the Mad instead of her. So be it, she thought. If her siblings wanted a war to the knife, then that was what they would receive.
Their forces had been decimated nine times over, and she smiled. If they had eight Basestar remaining to them, she would be surprised. They had fought her though, and her own forces had suffered great damage—but unlike her scattered and frightened siblings, her industrial complexes were even now turning out new ships. New Raiders. New Cylons. The end was in sight—and her victory in her grasp. She smiled.
“Imperious Leader,” the Guardian spoke in that haunting mono-tone that caressed Zoe’s ears like music.
“We have located some of the human survivors.”
“Have they been destroyed?”
“No, Imperious Leader. They escaped into FTL . . .,” the Guardian paused. “There is information that you must upload—a new weapon. A new ship. Evidence of another civilization.”
Zoe raised one of her eyebrows and she felt a ripple of pleasure flow through her metal and flesh body at the sensation. “Show me,” she hissed.
The Guardian placed a data disk in her throne and Zoe closed her eyes—and she absorbed all of the information from the Basestar and the Guardians that had been present at Acheron.
“Directed energy weapons . . . curious
,” she said. “Lasers that swatted our Raiders from the sky and this . . . other
weapon that disrupted our minds.”
“Yes, Imperious Leader. Thirty-one point seven three eight percent of the Guardians aboard the Basestar were rendered inactive, requiring extensive repair to reboot all systems. Fifteen point three two one percent of those were too damaged to recover the intelligence and have been recyled.”
“Only this new ship possessed the weapon?”
“That is correct, Imperious Leader. The surface of the moon showed evidence of two nuclear detonations, as well.”
“They did not activate FTL drives—and yet, they sped away; the sensor readings are most intriguing,” she smiled and rotated her chair. “Do you not think so, Father Daniel?”
The naked Daniel was encased in metal from his waist down-wards, and his hands were also trapped—a collar around his neck held him flat against the surface, and probes pierced his skin.
“Very, Zoe,” he answered in an exhausted voice. And then he laughed. “You realize that this means that they have likely found the Thirteenth Tribe?”
“A legend, Father Daniel. A myth. It is more likely to be a lost colony of the Twelve. Of no great consequence—their weapon was surprising, but unlikely to deal us a major blow.”
“Supposition, daughter. The evidence is there in the data—or do you think the survivors of the colonies would have built these structures?” And on a monitor the towering shape of the atmosphere processors appeared. “They seem to altering the composition of the moon’s atmosphere, child. That is far beyond the technology of the Twelve Colonies—or you.”
“The Guardians do not need such technology, Father Daniel. And in the unlikely event that this is the Thirteenth Tribe, then we will harvest them—and their technology. Their warship was small, and forced to flee despite destroying just a few dozen Raiders. Their energy weapon only momentarily inconvenienced our forces. They will serve the Guardians as repositories of flesh—or they will perish.”
“You presume much, Zoe,” Daniel said. “Arrogance does not become you, child.”
She glared down at Daniel from her throne. “This is coming from the man who had the hubris to believe that he could grant immortality? That he could create life? Surprises await—that is certain. But our victory is inevitable Father Daniel—one could say that resistance is futile.”
“So have many tyrants believed the same thing before, Zoe. Most discovered very near the end of their lives how wrong they were.”
“They failed to learn from their mistakes—much as you, Father Daniel. I do not suffer from that flaw of character,” she said and rotated her throne back to face the gold-plated Guardian standing before her. “Order all surviving ships—except for those assigned to protect our industry—to rendezvous here. If this is the Thirteenth Tribe, then we shall overcome them. And if not, we will finish the work our siblings began and crush those who have fled before me. Summon forth the Fleet. Including the bombardment ships.”
“By your command,” the Guardian answered.