Chapter Forty-Five.

Holding Cell Complex, Sandoval Hub.

Twenty-four hours had passed since the talks between the Imperium, the Colonials and the Cylons had been suspended. All sides, however, had used the time to prepare for the first round of interrogations that were to be conducted on the two Precursors who had been captured by the Inquisitors, and who were being held in a specially constructed holding cell.

It was no surprise to the Colonials that the Terrans had quickly agreed to their request to send representatives to the interrogation, and, after some discussion, it was decided that Saul Tigh and Tory Foster, who had recognised the pair as the "Messengers" who had helped them prepare their sublight ship, would represent the Colonies at the interrogation. And, as they approached the holding cell complex where the pair were being held, they were completely unsurprised to see Caprica Six there. It was pretty much a given that, seeing that she had also recognised the two Precursors, she would also have some questions, both as the Cylon representative and on her own behalf as well.

What they didn't expect was that Gaius Baltar would also be present. Nor did they expect that representatives from the Cylon defectors, with each type sending an individual representative, would also be present. As the One who was present (and who seemed to be the leader of the group) said to Tigh when he questioned why they were there, "We heard from our sister what had happened. We, too, have also read what the Terrans have on these 'Precursors'." Consequently, we, too, have some questions of our own, especially as it is beginning to look like that we were both manipulated into fighting each other." To Tigh and Foster, remembering New Caprica and the Cylon occupation, especially the attitude of the Ones towards the humans, this came as a complete surprise. And when Tigh commented that this was at variance with what the Colonials knew about the Ones, the One wryly smiled and said "Things change, especially ideas and opinions, when one gets new data. And if one is unwilling to change one's preconceived ideas in the light of new information, then one is an idiot. Which is, I should add, my and my brothers' opinion of those of my type who haven't changed their views on things."

When Baltar was challenged by Tigh as to why he was there, he simply gave a wan smile and said "I simply want to know just why they decided to frack with my head, of all people." To that, Tigh couldn't give a reply.

Baltar explained. "Not long after the Fall, I started seeing... well, at the time I though I was hallucinating Caprica Six. She had actually saved my life during the Fall. At the time I didn't think on what had happened, but... well, eventually I was able to get off of Caprica. It wasn't until I was with the Fleet that I started seeing something that resembled Caprica Six." His smile grew even more wan. "At the time I was starting to wonder if I was going mad, especially when my oh-so-realistic 'hallucination' started... toying with me." He looked at the entrance to the holding cells. "She claimed to be one of 'God's Angels.' Naturally I asked which god, and she said 'the only true god'. I kept seeing her throughout our journey here, but once we arrived at here she seemed to have vanished. Turns out that they, whoever or whatever they are, were frakking with my head all this time." He looked again at Tigh and Foster. "Just for my own peace of mind I have to find out just why they chose to frack with my head of all people. I hope you can understand that."

Tigh noticed that Caprica Six had been listening, and was looking at Baltar with a look of appalled horror on her face. "Somehow I think I do understand, surprisingly enough. I know that I want some answers, and not just on behalf of the Colonies, but on my own behalf as well." Again neither Tigh nor Foster could give a reply to Baltar's revelation.

A realization came to Tigh: He's as much a victim of all of this as anybody is. We're all victims. It made him somewhat uneasy to realise that.

One of the two doors to the holding cell complex opened and an Inquisitor stepped through. "If you could all follow me, please, I'll take you through to where the interrogation will be taking place." The group all looked at one another and then filed through the door indicated.

The Inquisitor indicated the direction they were to go in. "This way, please." They filed past what Tigh assumed to be holding cells of some kind. Much to his surprise, they were all closed by doors. When he mentioned his surprise that the Terrans didn't use "some kind of fancy force field", the Inquisitor said "Doors are far more practical and easier to maintain. Besides, what would happen if the power failed all of a sudden?" They eventually came to another set of doors. "Through here, please," the Inquisitor said, indicating one door.

They filed into what looked like some kind of viewing gallery. It was fitted out with comfortable chairs and the ubiquitous refreshments dispenser and, through an opening in the wall, looked out over a room that had, in its centre, what looked uncomfortably to Tigh like a pair of chairs of the kind usually used for executions in Colonial prisons.

Tigh turned towards the Inquisitor. "I thought this was an interrogation, not an execution." The One who was standing behind him raised an eyebrow at Tigh's statement.

The Inquisitor also raised his eyebrow. "Those are interrogation chairs. We place the subject to be interrogated in them and attach various instruments to their bodies. It's completly non-invasive and does no physical harm to the subjects."

"So how does it work?" asked a Four.

"It uses things like involuntary muscle movement, a change in the electroconductivity of the skin due to things like an increase in sweating, as well as a thorough reading of the subject's brain-wave patterns. We can tell if a subject is holding back or trying to steer away from an area of inquiry, allowing the questioner to be able to home in on that area. It's very effective and cannot be fooled. Additionally, we've been able to calibrate it for our two... guests." Indicating the other room, the Inquisitor continued: "That room is currently being bathed in a low-level field that interferes with our guest's abilities. This means that they will not be able to escape. The dividing wall also carries the field, thus creating a cage of sorts through which our two guests cannot move using their abilities. Since we know that the field also causes a mild headache in sensitive humans as well as Cylons, this viewing gallery is not bathed in the field. You can see everything that goes on in there, and the people can see you as well. You will also, if you wish, be able to ask the subjects any questions you may wish."

"Will we be limited in the questions we can ask?" asked the Four. "I, for one, would like to ask some questions about why they decided to... play upon our beliefs."

"You and me both," Tigh muttered.

The Inquisitor nodded. "I think you will find that we, also, will have questions along similar lines." His eyes went slightly out of focus, which told Tigh and Foster he was receiving a message. They came back into focus and he faced the gathering. "Please take your seats. The prisoners are being brought to the interrogation room." The group took their seats.

The door to the interrogation room opened and, escorted by several Inquisitors, the two Precursors entered the room. They were wearing wrist restraints but no collars, which told the observers that the part of the holding cell complex they were being held in was alsobathed in the restraining field.

Tigh turned to the Inquisitor. "How do you put up with the headache?"

"Training." They watched as the two Precursors were released from their bonds and strapped into the chairs. Once that had been done the Inquisitors attached various electrodes to the heads and other body parts of the two.

Chief Inquisitor Templar turned to face them. "As you may guess we have a few questions we would like some answers to."

"No doubt," the Baltar lookalike dryly said. His voice surprised the onlookers.

Frack, thought Tigh. Not only does he look like Baltar he even sounds like him. He looked over at Gaius Baltar, who, face pale, watched the proceedings.

"But can you be certain that this... thing will work on us?" the Precursor continued.

"Oh, I would have to say yes to that one," said a new voice from the entrance to the viewing gallery. Everyone turned to face the voice, and shock crossed the faces of the Cylons as an obvious One came through the door. "Especially given that I helped the Inquisitors to calibrate their instruments for our race."

The two look alikes glared at the newcomer, their faces a mix of hate and loathing. "Traitor," snarled the Six lookalike. "You have betrayed our people by doing that. I hope you're satisfied."

"I am. Remember how I said I was waiting for the Universe to reel in the rope you had fed yourselves? I was. Nothing, though, against helping things along a bit."

Templar gave the One lookalike an amused look. "Be that as it may," he dryly said, "I think we should get down to the business at hand. Shall we?"

The representative of the Ones nodded. "Although," he said, looking at the One lookalike, "I think we should also have a... talk with you about some things."

"No objections here," the One lookalike said. "I'm Mentor, by the way. And I think we should at least include the Terrans in any talks we may have." He looked at Templar. "And I also agree we should get this party under way."

"Indeed." Templar turned to the pair of Precursors in the room with him. "Like I said, we have a few questions to ask. And it's no good lying or trying to conceal things: we can tell when you try.

"But let's begin. Firstly..."


President Roslin's Quarters, Hours Later.

Roslin leant forward. "So. From what I can gather, the interrogation has pretty much verified everything the Terrans have been telling us." She was sitting behind her desk, with Adama, Tigh and Zarek also in attendance.

Foster nodded. "That, and more, Madame President. Templar said that what we learned today has added whole new layers of understanding to what has been going on: with us, with the Cylons and also with the Terrans themselves."

"Indeed." Roslin leant back and arched her fingers on her chest. "Interesting to learn that Kobol was an attempt to help evolve our branch of humanity by having our ancestors living alongside the Lords. Not to mention having what we were told being confirmed by what we could call 'the other side.' And that the Colonies were established as an attempt to save our branch of humanity, and that the thirteenth Colony was established to save the original humaniform Cylons."

"Humaniform Cylons who were fully capable of breeding, both amongst themselves and, as Galen Tyrol has demonstrated, with humans as well," Foster said. "And it is really interesting to see that the Precursors regard both Cylons and humans as being the same, with the humaniform Cylons that were created on Kobol being an experiment to try and create a tougher variety of human being, one that would be better equipped to survive in a universe that was a battlefield between the two Precursor factions."

"So one faction of Precursors were trying to engineer something like the Terrans?" Adama asked.

"And instead they got the first generation of humaniform Cylons," Tigh said. "The Colonies were intended as a control. But when the second generation of humaniform Cylons, created, admittedly by the Final Five after we arrived in Cylon space, nuked the Colonies, the inadvertently created a population of humans who would prove themselves to be survivors."

"Us."

"Indeed, Madame President. A group of survivors who have managed to impress their older, mor powerful cousins to such an extent that they have virtually given them an entire star cluster to colonise."

Foster stirred. "On that note, Madame President, I think I had better introduce an issue that we will have to deal with: namely, the request from the Cylon defectors to open direct negotiations with us. Given that they will be settled on the far side of the star cluster from us, I feel we should deal with this now."

Roslin rocked back in her chair and started to slowly swing it from side to side in thought. "I will admit that this is a very surprising development, on both counts." She stopped swinging her chair and looked at Foster and Tigh. "What's your take on their request? Are they sincere, or is this another trick?"

Foster sat back in thought. "I think they're being pretty sincere, Madame President. They were rather... astonished, shocked, stunned... at what the interrogation of the two Precursors revealed."

"I can understand that. And how do we deal with all of that?" Roslin, Adama and Zarek had been stunned when Foster and Tigh revealed the depth and breadth of what had been happening. One shock was that Zoe Graystone, who had created the avatar that eventually led to Cylon consciousness, and Vergis Corporation, which had developed the processor that was later stolen by Daniel Graystone, the creator of the Cylons, and Graystone himself, had all received visits from the two Precursors currently in Terran custody. "How do we tell our people about this?"

"Perhaps we should leave that up to the Terrans," Zarek said. "They have an education programme ready to roll once we reach Alquonde Node which includes information about the Precursors. And many of our people, especially those from the more tech-savvy of the Colonies, have been exploring the Terran data bases that have been opened to them, and they've pretty much worked out the truth about Terra, so that's out there in the population."

"That could work, Madame President," Foster said. "Especially if we ask them to include what we've learned into that education programme, it could make things a whole lot easier." She looked at Zarek. "What do your agents in the population have to report on what our people think of the Terrans, Mister Vice-President?"

"That our people overall are pretty much in awe of our cousins and would pretty much believe whatever they have to say. This is something I have brought before the Quorum, so they and the President are aware of this."

Roslin arched her fingers and sat back in thought. "That could work. However, I will insist on some input from us. Perhaps we could train some of our people to conduct some of the courses the Terrans are thinking of." She looked at Zarek. "Tom, do you think you could put a proposal together that we can present to both the Terrans and the Quorum on this? Between the two of us I think we could come up with something we can sell to them both."

Zarek wrote a note. "I'll get right on it after this meeting."

"That's settled then." Roslin looked at Adama. "Although I have enjoyed our stay here I must admit that I will feel much better when we get to Alquonde Node. At least that's now in the Terran's rear areas. With that in mind, how is the refit programme going?"

Adama smiled. "They've just finished the last of the refits for the civilian ships we will be taking with us. Give a few weeks for acceptance trials and ironing out any bugs that may have arisen and we should be ready to leave in a month."

"I know we're leaving ships here to help the Terrans finish off Sandoval Base's defences and facilities. Will that have any impact on the crowding in the Fleet?"

"None at all, Madame President. The families of many of the work crews are staying here and will follow on once they've finished. That alone will lessen crowding. But the best news is that the TIN has made available to us some troopships that are heading back to Alquonde empty and are accompanying us and the Revenge there. That will completely eliminate any residual crowding."

Roslin nodded. "Good to hear. And we are being accompanied by some Terran warships?"

Adama nodded. "The Revenge has been made spaceworthy and can fight if need be, but her captain would rather that we avoid any combat. She would not be able to handle anything beyond a small group of raptor destroyers or a Raptor heavy cruiser. Given the local strategic situation, however, the Terrans are pretty confident we won't encounter any Raptor vessels."

"Good to hear. And if we encounter any Cylons?"

Adama gave a wolfish grin. "Then Galactica and Nike would be some very nasty surprises for them."

"Again, good to hear. Back to an earlier topic: this request from the Cylon defectors to open up negotiations with us." Roslin frowned. "I must admit to some rather strong... feelings about this." Everybody understood Roslin's observation: any Colonial who had lived through the Fall of the Colonies or New Caprica could understand what Roslin was referring to.

"Again, I would say that it could well be worthwhile to meet with the defectors," Foster said. " As I mentioned earlier, they were pretty shaken up by what the interrogations revealed. In particular they were shocked at the news that colonel Tigh and myself were members of the Final Five."

"The Simons were very disturbed, angry even, that their religious beliefs had been manipulated, twisted even, by the Precursors," said Tigh. "We could use this to our advantage, given that we will be sharing the cluster with them."

"And as I said, I find that disturbing, especially given our shared history," Roslin said. "I do not find myself comfortable with effectively sharing a cluster with Cylons, even if they are defectors from the main Cylon civilisation. And I am fully aware that even with the help of the reproduction tech the Terrans are giving us it will take us a long time to occupy even a fraction of that cluster, whereas the Cylons simply crank up their reproduction technology."

"Completely understandable, Madame President," said Foster. "But this time we know exactly where they are, and their numbers appear to be somewhat lower than ours, plus our new home will be housing a Terran naval base. Somehow I doubt the Cylons will want to provoke the Imperium by launching an attack on us. And then there is their request for negotiations with us. From what I understand the Cylons are talking about negotiating reparations... reparations they wish to pay us."

Roslin sat back in her chair. "Interesting." She looked at Zarek. "And something I suppose we had better bring up at the next meeting of the Quorum, Tom."

Zarek nodded. "I think that we should mention that the Cylons are being quite generous in even offering to negotiate reparations, and that being too greedy could be a drawback. Also, we can mention that even offering to pay us reparations is an admission by them that they were in the wrong when they attacked us."

"And that does make the idea of sharing a star cluster with the Cylons somewhat more palatable," Roslin said. "Which may well be a good thing. Perhaps we may be able to avoid a repeat of the fall altogether. A good thing in itself, I daresay."

"Indeed, Madame President."


Cylon Defectors' Quarters.

The representatives of the Cylon defectors sat opposite Caprica Six and Boomer. "Thank you for sharing your plan with us, sisters," said the representative of the Ones amongst the defectors. "Given what we have learned over the past few days, I can say that those of my line here in this settlement are ready to carry out our part, whatever it may be." One by one the other representatives also indicated their willingness to carry out the plan Caprica Six had put forward.

Caprica Six bowed her head in acknowledgement. "Then it is agreed? That I should approach the Terrans and tell them of what we intend." She frowned. "Of course, this means that cylon society will be split, perhaps irrevocably. But I feel that this is the only path we can take in order to ensure that the Cylons as a people survive what is coming."

"And I also agree that this path means that we must reconcile with the Colonials," said a Conoy. "Hopefully the Terrans will be able to help us in that regard."

The One gave a wan smile. "Personally I think that placing us on the other side of the star cluster the Terrans have basically given the Colonials does indicate a willingness to help us reconcile with them. And it may also be sending the Colonials a message that they think that they should work out their differences with us. And I think that Adama is smart enough to work that out. The Final Five are definitely smart enough to work that out and, being in positions of trust, are in a good position to point that out to the Colonial leadership. I for one, strangely, am pretty optimistic about this."

Caprica Six and Boomer stood. "Then I think we should go and put the next step into operation. That Boomer and I take those of us who wish to return to our brothers and sisters back, taking the Terrans up on their offer to help out on that. Then, once things are settled, I will put the penultimate stage of the plan into action."

The others also stood. "We're having what the Terrans call a movie night this evening," the One said. "You are both welcome to stay and watch. It is an... interesting way to learn about Terran society."

Caprica Six inclined her head. "Thank you, but I must decline. Although, if you give me a copy of this 'movie' I may view it while we return to the Colony."

"That I can do." The One walked over to a cabinet which contained a large media viewer. He reached up and pulled down what Caprica Six recognised as a media slate. He plugged it into a socket in the media player, stroked the screen and, after a while, removed it. He then walked back and handed it to Caprica Six. "It's on this device. I've included a copy of the novel that it's based on as well, plus some general works that you may find illuminating. And, before you ask, the Terrans don't mind if we have access to their commercially available tech." He gave a small smile. "They've even offered us technology transfers to help us settle on our new world. Naturally, we've accepted."

Caprica too the slate and looked at it. "Access to Terran technology. That should make things a lot easier." She looked at the One. "How do I use this device?"

"It has a physical on/off switch, and can go on standby. To operate it, you stroke the screen and touch menu options." He demonstrated as he spoke. "It should be able to plug into our power outlets: the power inlet has the ability to mould itself to different types of outlet. You can also hook it up to a hardcopy printer if you want, but you can also use this as a book. You simply turn the pages by stroking the screen." Again, as he spoke, he demonstrated.

Caprica nodded. "What is this work you recommend?"

"The novel's called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Android, I've learned, is an old term for a theorised artificial human, something like us. That alone should give you an idea of just how... sophisticated Terran culture is, especially in relation to artificial intelligence. I should add that this work dates from their Twentieth Century CE, around the time that they were beginning to venture into space."

"Impressive that they were able to imagine something like us at such a primitive stage in their technological development."

"If you think that's impressive, read another work I've put on there: Frankenstein. That was written when they only had candles for artificial lighting and were just beginning to discover electricity."

"No wonder they've developed such a sophisticated way of viewing artificial intelligence if they've been pondering it for such a long time!" said Caprica Six. "And the 'movie' I should watch?"

"It's called Blade Runner. And I should add that it has given us a lot of food for thought."


Roslin's Quarters.

"You know, Tory, watching this film makes me begin to understand just why the Terrans have their attitude towards artificial intelligence," Roslin said.

Foster nodded. "I've heard some Terrans say that the author of the novel was, in a sense, one of the great unacknowledged philosophers of their late Twentieth Century CE. That he wrote about something akin to Cylons is... pretty... unsettling. So to speak."

Roslin nodded. "I'm not really inclined towards philosophy, but I can understand some of the implications of the questions being raised here. Such as, if you build something that so closely resembles a human being as to be virtually identical, what does it mean to be human? And is that creation human or a machine, especially if it can think and feel like a human being? No wonder the terrans decided to treat their AIs and equals." She looked at foster. "Think we could get the Terrans to show this film to our people and lead any discussions that may come about once we reach Alquonde Node?"

"I'll ask them about it, Madame President."


CIC, Colonial Fleet Battlestar Galactica, Three Weeks Later.

"Mister Gaeta, what is the condition of the Fleet?" Adama asked.

"The Fleet is ready to go at our orders, Admiral. It's in formation. Nike and Revenge have taken up their escort positions." After spending the better part of a year at Sandoval Base, the Colonials were ready to take the next stage of their journey towards what was going to be their new home.

The Fleet, however, was not quite the same as it had been when it had first arrived. Every ship had been overhauled by the Terrans, and some of the Fleet's construction and mining platforms were remaining in the system to help the Terrans finish off the base's defences and other facilities. They had, however, been replaced by several troopships that now, instead of Terran Army troops, contained much of the Fleet's civilian population in, what was to them, some comfort, something that spoke volumes about the conditions they had endured on the long trip from the Colonies. In addition, they were being accompanied by the Terran battlecruiser HMS Revenge, which was being sent back to Alquonde Node for major repairs that could not be carried out at Sandoval. But, even though there was a Terran capital unit with them, overall command had been given to Adama.

"Sir, we've just gotten our exit vector from Sandoval Control," the helm reported.

Adama looked around the refurbished CIC. His gaze rested on Saul Tigh. "One more stage, eh Admiral?" Tigh said.

"But this one takes us that much closer to our new home." Adama turned to Gaeta. "Mister Gaeta, let's get the Fleet underway."

"Aye-aye, Admiral. Sending course vector to the Fleet now. Fleet acknowledges receipt of course vector." He opened a channel. "Attention, fleet. This is Galactica. Begin movement according to course vector on my mark: three, two, one." He turned to the helm. "Helm, ahead by one-third thrust until we exit the defences."

"Ahead by one-third thrust."

Adama sat back in his flag officer's chair. "And so we move off on the next stage of our adventure." He looked at the tactical repeater that showed the positions of the various ships of the Fleet in much greater detail than the old DRADIS displays ever could.

"Admiral, message from Sir Simon. 'Good luck and good sailing'."

Adama grinned. "Send back this reply: 'Thank you. For your best wishes and for all you have done for us during our stay. Good luck, and good hunting'."

They soon exited the system defences, and once they were in formation, they jumped out on the next stage of their long journey.