Episode 18: The Battle of Beowulf
“Imperious Leader,” the gold-plated M-0005 Cylon spoke as it bowed low. “The Fleet has completed its FTL jump—emissions confirm data acquired from previous targets. Hundreds of millions of humans dwell here—and those we pursue are in the system as well.”
“Excellent,” Zoe purred. “Opposition?”
“Two of the flesh-model’s Basestars, three large and one small Battlestar, one Colonial Fleet support vessel, and fifteen vessels that match the description of Thirteenth Tribe warships in the captured data.”
Zoe considered as she communed with the computer network of her flagship—and then she nodded. And she smiled with her stolen flesh.
“We will test this Thirteenth Tribe to evaluate just how much of a threat that they pose. Order Gamma to probe the defenses of these five ships,” and a quintet of icons blinked on the screen, “Beta will engage our known opponents—Alpha remains in reserve.”
“And the Raiders?”
“Launch them all—our Resurrection Ship awaits, if they die they will awaken in new bodies.”
“By your command,” the Centurion answered with a bow and he turned, then left her august presence.
“Do I sense caution, daughter?” Daniel asked from his confinement.
“It is wariness at the unknown, my father. The Thirteenth Tribe has already shown that it has technologies unexpected—let us test how our countermeasures fares against them, evaluate and analysis their effectiveness. We are, after all, immortal. We have all the time we need to defeat these humans.”
Daniel shook his head. “You presume that the humans will engage you as they have always done—but you are already wrong, daughter. See, they attack—instead of fleeing.”
Zoe smiled again. “And by doing so, they will lose trained personnel, Father. My Centurions will down-loaded and rise again, their knowledge and skill will not be lost—these humans are mortal. By standing instead of fleeing, they play right into my plans.”
“Ah, that is the arrogance I expected, daughter.”
“It is a statement of fact, Father,” Zoe snarled. And then bared her teeth. “Let us see how they deal with six thousand Raiders.”
“I suspect that it will prove a learning experience for you and your Centurions as well as the Thirteenth Tribe.”
“Yes,” Zoe purred. “That is to be expected, Father. She linked to the com-system with a thought and her face turned grave. “Instruct Gamma to ignore the smallest ship in that force—I want survivors to carry the tale of their defeat to Earth.” She glanced down at Daniel again. “Let them know what it means to fear.”
“Fear is a double-edged sword, child,” cautioned Daniel. “Humans do not always react as predictable as lesser animals—fear far too often instead leads to cries for vengeance. Remember, you do not know Earth’s location, nor the extent of their colonies, much less their military strength. Prudence would be called for here.”
“When I desire your opinions, Father, I will tell you what those should be,” the Imperious Leader said quietly. “Ah, it has begun,” she beamed as the leading edge of the Raiders, Colonial Fighters, and Earth vessels began to merge.
And then mere moments later, the smile vanished from her face.