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Old February 3 2013, 10:01 PM   #151
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Admiral Adama stood as the hatch opened, and with him stood Saul Tigh, Lee Adama, Elias Thorean, Mark Foeswan, Samantha Caldwell, Thomas Jayne, Laura Roslin, and Tom Zarek. He kept the expression from his face—but if there had been any way to keep Zarek out of this meeting, he would have. Unfortunately, thanks to the President’s jaws being wired shut, and his standing among the Quorum of Twelve—added to the current lack of a Vice-President—his presence was mandatory.

And at that thought, he looked again at Lee—still in uniform, but his son had already told Adama that he was resigning his commission to seek office. The Admiral exhaled deeply. As if he didn’t have enough problems on his plate! But there hadn’t been time for a proper discussion of that, not after Anubis had arrived.

Seeing who sat at the very end of the Colonial side of the table, now his expression hardened in a frown. Gaius Baltar. Once again, the need for his scientific knowledge meant that Adama would have to tolerate his presence, although at least this time, the Admiral thought with a snort, looking at Neil Sarris at the other end—as far as it was possible to get from the more famous scientific advisor—he had something of a counter-weight.

The two scientists also came to their feet as Galactica’s guests began to file in. Maya and Sharon had agreed to watch the little girl Rebecca—Newt, as she preferred to be called. And Bill snorted. He had actually feared that Sharon—Athena—would kill Maya, but Helo and Sidewinder had convinced her that she had known nothing. Along with Maya’s utter crushing despair at losing the girl she thought was her own. It surprised him, the way Helo—and Athena—had reached out to the woman, agreeing to keep her in Hera’s life, and even adding the name that Maya had given the child—Isis—to her official name. Hera Isis Agathon. Adama smiled. If that could be overcome, maybe there was still some hope for humanity after all.

Ellen Ripley entered the room, along with Carter J. Burke. The Colonial Marine—and Adama snorted in amusement—officer William Gorman came next, followed by the one they called Bishop and Corporal Dwayne Hicks. The other two—William Hudson and Jenette Vasquez—were being fested by Galactica’s Marines and pilots. All of them had seen the video images from the rescue Raptors; the Admiral shook his head and he sighed. Those two—these eight, including the girl—had gone through an utter hell that he was only starting to understand.

“Welcome to Galactica,” Adama said, motioning with his hand for the guests to sit as he did so, followed by his own officers and scientists—and the politicians. “I am Admiral Adama. I understand that you claim to be from Earth.”

Ellen Ripley nodded. “We are from Earth, Admiral Adama. But after speaking with your Major Caldwell, I fear that you are likely to be gravely disappointed.” She paused. “We have no records, no myths, no legends, of your Twelve Tribes—until we met, we had not imagined that other human cultures and civilizations existed out there.”

“None?” asked Elias. “I am Colonel Thorean.”

Ripley and Burke exchanged a look and then she nodded. “We recognize your Gods—as myth. But no one has worshiped them in nearly two millennia. And we most definitely did not come from any . . . Kobol.”

Laura looked sick, and she scribbled something on a piece of paper.

“I’m Tom Zarek,” the politician said. “A Delegate to the Quorum of Twelve—a legislative body—that approves laws and advises the President. If you didn’t come from Kobol, then where did you come from?”

“Earth,” said Burke. “We evolved on Earth—the fossil record is quite clear. And it shows that it wasn’t gods that created us, we evolved just like all of the species we share the planet with.”

“Then how . . .,” Lee started to ask, but he shook his head. “It isn’t important—not right now. What is important is that you need to know about the Cylons.”

Burke smiled. “Major Caldwell has briefed us on that—and I can assure you that our military can easily handle these . . . machines. What is important is that we begin discussions on how we are going to get you people settled and make certain that you are not being taken advantage of by our competitors.”

And Burke ignored a warning growl from Ripley to grin at their hosts.

“Your competitors, Mister Burke?” Adama asked. “What is your role here?”

“I am just a liaison assigned to this expedition to ensure that Weyland-Yutani, one of the largest and most successful corporate entities on Earth, had its interests in Acheron looked after. We were the ones terraforming the surface—and running the mining operations.”

“And other corporations are your competitors, Mister Burke?” the Admiral asked.

“Yes, and the national governments, I will admit. You people seem to have a united government of all Twelve of your Colonies. If I am understanding the briefing right, you had a dozen fully industrialized worlds with a total population of more than thirty billion, yes? That is rather impressive.”

“Earth is not united under a single government?” Lee asked.

“No, Sir,” said Lieutenant Gorman. “If I may?” he asked, holding up a small case.

Adama nodded.

“Thank you, Admiral,” he said laying out the case and pressing a button. A three-dimensional holographic projection sprang into life, showing the Earth. “This is Earth. We are members of the Colonial Marine Corps, a military branch of the United Americas Alliance,” and as he said those words, a large section of the land area flashed light blue, encompassing the full stretch of a southern continent, the connecting isthmus, and more than half of the northern continent, along with scores of islands near the isthmus.

“Other governments include the Three Worlds Empire,” Gorman continued, and the rest of the northern continent turned gold, along with an extremely large and isolated island continent in the southern hemisphere, and more islands in both the southern and northern hemisphere—along with a triangular piece of land almost in the center of the largest land-mass and the southern third of the continent south of the large one.

“The China-Asian Congress,” and virtually all of the remaining islands in the wide ocean blinked crimson, along with most of the eastern portion of the largest land-mass, “and the Soviet Pact,” a long swath of territory reaching from the eastern-most tip of the largest land-mass and running along its northern shore almost all of the way to the next ocean turned orange.

“The Federated European Union,” and the western tip of the that same large land-mass turned green, “and the Pan-African Assembly,” and the rest of the of the continent south of the largest one turned purple.

“Finally, the Persian-Arabian Caliphate,” and the remaining central portion of the large continent flashed silver.

Burke nodded. “That is the major players and they all have their own armed forces and extra-solar colonies. Some are,” and he smiled, “well, let’s just say they are not as important as others. The PAC and PAA and Pact have lingered behind the UAA, CAC, TWE, and FEU in technology and overall power—but governments are not your only option. Think about it,” he said as Ripley ground her teeth. “They are used to taking what they want,” Burke continued with a smile. “Just like governments always do—but Weyland-Yutani? We don’t need to take from you—we can buy. Or barter. You want a world to settle? We’ve got dozens! Take your pick.”

“All for the low fee of everything we have, Mister Burke?” asked the Admiral, a frown upon his face.

“You know real life Admiral—everything is for sale. Everyone is for sale. The Company can offer you your own world, colonization equipment, provisions and medical supplies, education materials . . .,” he snapped his fingers, “a line of credit. And in exchange, we would only ask that we be allowed to have the exclusive rights to . . . distribute your technology. You win—you get a planet to settle, along with the protection of Weyland-Yutani and our friends in the UAA; and we win—we get a chance to get a leg up on our competitors and turn a profit, that will incidentally enough make you people rich beyond all dreams of avarice. I did mention that we would be willing to offer a royalty to you as well? Yes?”

“I was under the impression,” said Tom Zarek after he looked down at what Laura had written, balled it up, and threw it over his shoulder (causing the President’s cheeks to burn red!), “that none of you were authorized to negotiate?”

“We aren’t,” said Ripley. “Not even Mister Burke.”

“Why can we simply not settle on Earth?” asked Lee, who had read the note Laura had scrawled down before Zarek threw it away. He looked back up. “A lot of people are going to be expecting to see Earth for themselves; that is one of the few things that has kept them going has been the promise of Earth as a new home.”

“Out of the question,” answered Lieutenant Gorman—and this time Hicks stabbed Burke hard in the ribs as the Company Man began to open his mouth.

Hicks leaned over and he whispered in Burke’s ear. “Another word, and I will throw you out the airlock myself, Burke,” he warned.

Gorman continued, “The ICC—Interstellar Commerce Commission—would never allow it. Earth is very crowded and has a high level of pollution and damage to the biosphere. They never allow immigration to Earth—only emigration away. And there are the only international agency that is formed by all of the major states. They keep Earth—and the fifteen billion people there—safe from contamination by any alien lifeforms or diseases.”

“I understand,” growled Adama. “We will need to establish contact with these governments—and your corporations, Mister Burke—to see about starting negotiations. Where would be the best place for that?”

Ripley sighed and she slid a chart across the table. “Beta Virginis is the nearest. It is a major core world colony that has a sizeable Fleet presence. It has a UAA, TWE, and CAC presence there. We call the planet Beowulf.”

“One jump,” Adama said as he glanced down at the chart. “This is where you sent your message, Lieutenant Gorman?”

“There and a copy to the Corps HQ on Earth, Admiral.”

“Very well, I think we have some things to discuss among ourselves,” Adama said. He started to rise, but then sat back down as Ripley held up her hand.

“One last thing, Admiral; we are well aware of your—justifiable—fear and hatred of the Cylons. However, you need to realize something. We,” and she pointed to her fellow Terrans, “aren’t part of your culture and civilization, nor are we bound by your laws. And we have our own Synthetics.”

Jaws dropped. Well, except for the Presidents, whose eyes bulged and strangled sounds emerged from her throat.

“You have developed your own Cylons?” Adama asked.

“Not the same as yours,” Burke said. “Major Caldwell told us of how they are machines that desire flesh, but our Synthetic actually resemble human beings—but they are programmed only to serve mankind. Right, Bishop?”

“Yes, Mister Burke,” said Bishop. "Our behavioral inhibitors prevent any such rebellion as you Colonials suffered from the Cylons. It is impossible for me to harm or by omission of action, allow to be harmed, a human being," he paused, "I should add that I prefer the term Artificial Person."

Everyone on the other side of the table stood. “THAT is a Cy- . . . synthetic?”

“Is that going to be a problem?” asked Bishop.

Last edited by MasterArminas; February 3 2013 at 10:43 PM.
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