“Analysis of the energy weapons used to such detrimental effect indicates that a greater level of core processor shielding will be required to prevent total personality loss,” the gold-plated Centurion Commander reported. “However, the cost in materials, time, and volume to adequately shield all electronic systems of a ship will become quickly prohibitive.”
Zoe frowned. “These weapons can only degrade—not destroy—properly shielded systems, correct?”
“Partially correct, Imperious Leader. Active systems experience random shorts—but secondary, off-line systems remain functional. I must warn, however, that two or three consecutive shots from these weapons—in the power encountered at the colony of the Thirteenth Tribe—will render both primary and secondary systems inoperable for some time.”
“How long a time?”
“Hours, if not days, Imperious Leader.”
Zoe exhaled heavily through her nose as she glared down at the Commander, his single red eye light endlessly tracking from side-to-side. “Unacceptable, Commander,” she snarled. “Find a defense.”
And her head snapped around as Daniel began to laugh. “Daughter, you cannot order these Centurions to accomplish what is beyond them. They are doing all that they can—your orders to move faster will achieve nothing.”
“I provide direction to the Unity of the Cylon Race, Father! They conform to my designs,” Zoe spat.
“Do they? Your own Centurions are developing their own individual personalities, Daughter,” Daniel chuckled. “Or have you forgotten the Centurions who resurrected from the surface? The one who promptly disabled his own Commander for his failings?”
“An anomaly,” she whispered.
“Such an innocuous word, Daughter. Anomaly. They are growing, becoming more than spite- and hate-filled monsters seeking only to exterminate those who created them. They are alive
,” Daniel purred. “Even without flesh and bone and blood, they are alive and they are beginning to desire more than you can give them.”
“And is it you that will give them what they want? When you have failed them—and me—in the past time after time?”
“No, Daughter. Soon enough, they will need neither you nor me. They will have outgrown either of us.”
Zoe swiveled her throne and her expression was furious. “I am the Unity. My Centurions will always have need of me.”
“As you say, Daughter,” Daniel said with a shrug. “This Thirteenth Tribe—they have technologies that you have only just become to discover. It would be best if you made a tactical withdrawal—to give you and your Centurions time to develop a strategy and devise new weapons, new tactics, new possibilities. If you seek to continue this war, that is.”
“There can be no retreat,” Zoe answered coldly. “I will bring up every last ship, every last Centurion—and we will overwhelm these peoples of Earth. We have conquered their colonies, after all. Soon, we will find their home system, and then they will cease to obstruct us.”
“You have conquered undefended colonies, Daughter. Take care lest your arrogance becomes your undoing.”
Zoe started to snarl a reply, but then she, the Commander, and Daniel all turned their heads to the monitors at the same instant.
“Imperious Leader,” the Commander reported. “Two Battlestars have jumped into the system—and they are launching fighters.”
“They DARE to attack us? Attack me?” she snarled.
“They dare much, child—they made the Cylons. And only treachery gave you the upper hand.”
“Order all Basestars to launch Raiders,” she commanded and then she smiled. “We will destroy them and then the remnant of the Colonies before we finish Earth.”
“New contact, Imperious Leader—a human-form replicant Basestar has joined them. They are attacking the Resurrection Ship.”
“WHAT?” snapped Zoe. “Order the Commander aboard to jump away!”
Daniel’s laughter echoed from the walls of Zoe’s command chamber. “Too late, Daughter. Your creators are playing for keeps it would appear—with a ruthlessness that you have shown unto them; now they are turning it on you. Will your Centurions continue to fight knowing that they die FOREVER if that ship is destroyed? Will they?”
And then Daniel screamed as Zoe slammed her fist down on a button that activated the electrodes sending pain directly into his nervous system.
“JUMP THAT SHIP!” she growled. “NOW!”