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Old February 4 2013, 04:01 AM   #154
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Ripley woke with a start. The bunks were full, and the Marines were snoring—Newt was sleeping curled up with a stuffed bear that the Agathons had somehow scrounged up for her.

She rubbed her eyes.

“Where’s Burke?” she asked.

************************************************** **

“So what does this place have?” asked Burke with a grin on his face.

Joe looked at the guest and he shook his head. “I’ve got moonshine . . . and moonshine,” he said throwing a towel over his shoulder.

Burke cocked his head—with that smile fixed on his face. “Now that is a difficult choice . . . I’ll have the moonshine.”

“Good selection,” the bartender answered as he put a glass on the bar and poured a clear liquid into it. “Chase?”

“Water,” answered Burke as he reached into his pocket.

“Nope. The pilots and Marines started you folks a tab—this is your first. You’ve got plenty more coming if you want them. Besides, your money isn’t any good here, remember?”

“Thanks,” Burke said as he picked up the two glasses and made his across the dirty, dank, ill-lit hole in the wall on Galactica’s decommissioned flight deck. “Mind if I join you?”

Tom Zarek looked up. “Mister Burke,” he said as he stood, his smile as sincere as the one that the Company Man wore. “Have a seat.”

“I couldn’t help but notice that you and the Admiral don’t seem to care much for each other.”

“That obvious,” Zarek said with a snort.

“Not obvious, but I’m good at reading people. Just like, you and the President don’t care too much for each other either.”

“We don’t. What do you want, Mister Burke?”

“Well, it occurred to me, Mister Zarek, that perhaps I am setting my sights too high. I mean, Weyland-Yutani would to assist this entire fleet . . . but I fear that Adama and Roslin will reject our offer and you are not going to like dealing the squabbling governments. It might even precipitate a war on the colonies and Earth.” Burke shrugged. “But of course, maybe we do not have to deal with the . . . entire fleet.”

Tom Zarek didn’t say a word—he smiled. “What are suggesting, Mister Burke?”

“Well, I heard on Anubis that a number of people there and on a ship called Leonis Pryde and another called Astral Queen, and maybe two or three more want to see you in charge. My offer stands, Mister Zarek, whether or not it is to the entire Fleet—or a portion thereof. I will make certain that your people get to settle on Earth and enough funds to set you up for life. If, that is, you agree to provide Weyland-Yutani with exclusive rights to your technology.”

Zarek sat back and he nodded. “You realize that Adama and Roslin would be furious—and they will probably protest heavily against one ship captain signing such an agreement.”

“Oh, certainly. But by the time they know it will all be said and done, Mister Zarek. And once Weyland-Yutani files the paperwork with the ICC, well, neither Laura Roslin nor William Adama will be able to sell it to anyone else. It will legally belong to Weyland-Yutani, as far as Earth courts are concerned.”

“I see,” whispered Zarek. “Adama will be furious,” and he smiled. “Can I have some time to think this over?”

“Of course,” and Burke laid a fancy printed card on the table. “Just don’t take too long—other captains might be willing to jump ship, so to speak.”

“I won’t take that long at all, Mister Burke. But I need to speak with some . . . associates,” Zarek said as he lifted his glass.

Burke stood. He beamed a smile upon the Sagittaron. “Good. I will leave you to enjoy yourself. Good night, Mister Zarek.”

“Good night, Mister Burke.”

************************************************** **

It was strange to see Admiral Adama in a robe and slippers Zarek thought. Adama, on the other hand, glared at the former terrorist and member of the Quorum. And at Saul Tigh, whose expression was rather . . . pensive.

“This had better be good, Mister Zarek—you are the wrong gender and far too ugly to be waking me up at two in the morning,” he growled.

“You think I would have woken you up if it weren’t, Bill?” Saul asked. “Now fracking let us in, Admiral, Sir.”

Adama exhaled deeply, but the look on Saul’s face—and his use of his given name in front of a man that Saul absolutely hated—made the Admiral nod. He stepped aside, and they came in and Adama closed the hatch.

“What is that could not have waited until . . . later in this morning?” Adama asked as he sat, motioning the other two to take a seat.

Zarek leaned forward and he quickly explained his meeting with Carter J. Burke. The Sagittaron took no appreciation at seeing Adama’s anger being redirected—in fact, he made a note for future reference exactly what a true fury looked like on the man.

Why did you bring this to Colonel Tigh?” Adama asked, leaving unsaid that Zarek had also come to him—but his eyes acknowledged that.

“We don’t agree on a lot, Admiral Adama,” Zarek said bleakly. “But despite my past, I do want what is best for the Fleet. Not just my people, but all of the Fleet. But if Burke was telling the truth about their laws—and if so much as a single officer jumps away with him to Earth, accepting his offer—then all of the rest of us are well and truly fracked.”

“You could have gone to Roslin.”

She hates me more than you do, Admiral. And I realize that I took my life in my own hands waking Colonel Tigh—but he did give me a chance to explain and delayed the beating until another night. And then we came here,” Zarek shook his head. “There are elements in the Fleet that will sign any document Burke puts in front of them, if it means they can settle on Earth—and to Tartarus with the rest of us.” He paused. “I have some experience—before the Fleet—with making problems like this vanish. I won’t . . . unless you ask me.”

Saul sucked in his breath, and he looked at Bill Adama, and Bill looked at him. And both of them knew the other was seriously thinking about the offer.

“I think,” Adama said, “we might be able to handle this without arranging an . . . accident. A fatal accident, I presume, Mister Zarek. But you were right to bring this to my attention—and I will not forget it.”

Zarek sighed and he stood. “My offer stands. I was in prison as a political captive, Admiral, but I have gotten my hands dirty before for what I believe in. And if you need me, I have no qualms whatsoever about making Carter J. Burke vanish from the face of universe. Good night,” he said, and then he turned to go as Adama and Tigh stood.

“Mister Zarek,” Adama’s voice stopped him and he turned around. To see the hand that Adama was extending towards him. He drew in a breath and he took it, and they shook.
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