Aboard the prison-ship-cum-evil-lair Astral Queen, subversive mastermind Tom Zarek addressed his inner circle. Unfortunately, since his last right-hand man had very inconsiderately gotten his brains blown out on Kobol, and because most of his other followers were none-too-bright convicts who could barely be trusted to handle objects with moving parts on the ship without causing a reactor failure, Zarek's inner circle at the moment consisted of one individual. The good news was that this individual was one of the most trusted beings in Tom's life, having been with him since his childhood, back when little Tommy was amusing himself with sparking paper-airplane revolutions in his first-grade classroom. The bad news was that the individual in question was Walter, Zarek's stuffed daggit.

Alone in the room with him, the battered, ancient toy sat at a table facing Tom as he spoke. "Gentlemen- well, gentledaggit. I have a plan. A plan for casting down the corrupt sub-fascist militarist system in power, and replacing it with a more enlightened leadership." He clasped his hands to his chest modestly. "Namely my own."

The toy's flat, black eyes stared into his own. Probing. Pointing. As they always had. Tom shifted uncomfortably. "I know I already had the Presidency and willingly handed it back to Roslin. But I didn't exactly have a lot of options. Roslin has Adama's backing, and after that stunt he pulled during the Exodus from New Caprica, his popularity in the Fleet was so high that he could have ordered every single person in the human race to fellate him and they would have simply lined up on Galactica's flight deck to get on their knees. Thank the gods he isn't the sort of man who would go overboard with his power."


"You wanted to see me Admiral?" Chief Tyrol asked apprehensively. Ever since the act of sheer badassedness he'd performed with the Galactica over New Caprica, everyone in the Fleet- Tyrol included- had been taking Adama's unofficial nickname of 'Zeus' more seriously than usual, and there were signs that the 'Adama Fan Clubs' springing up among the children of the Fleet were beginning to erode the Admiral's natural modesty. Naah.. thought Tyrol. It's Adama. He would never let anything go to his head.

"Stay standing Chief, this won't take long," Adama said. "It's about my Vipers."

"Gods, what now? If Starbuck and Kat got into another one of their "I'm more psychotically reckless than you are" contests-"

"It's not that Chief. It's just that they're dirty."

Tyrol blinked. "…Dirty, sir?"

"Filthy," Adama said. "Inexcusably filthy. Every part and member of this ship combines to form an image, Chief. That image has to be good. If some parts of that image contrast with each other- like, for instance, dirty Vipers under the command of a brilliant, physics-defying Admiral- people might get confused. We don't want people confused, do we Chief?"

"Um… no, we don't want confusion, sir," the Chief replied, despite currently suffering from that very same ailment.

"I want them cleaned. Every single ship. The Raptors too. From the landing gear wells to under the seats, I want them all to be frakkin' spotless. So that they'll be worthy of this ship. And its commander. Do you understand, Chief?"

"I'll… tell my people to get right on it," Tyrol said, suddenly wishing for a drink, and a competent psychiatrist.

"No, no, Chief. Your people aren't touching my ships. Oh no," Adama shook his head. "I want only the best touching the ships. That's you Chief," he pointed at Tyrol, whose heart was currently sinking. "You're the best. You're the only one who gets to touch the ships. Aside from the pilots, obviously. But you're the only one who gets to fix them and clean them, get it?"

"Admiral, I don't think… Well, permission to speak freely, sir?"

"Oh, by all means Chief," Adama made an inviting gesture. "No doubt you want to thank me once again for kicking the asses of both the Cylons and the laws of physics, and in doing so saving you, your wife, and your child from a lifetime of Cylon occupation on a mudhole planet under a weasel President. That is what you want to say, isn't it Chief?"

Tyrol hung his head. Even sanity was powerless in the face of overwhelming badassery. "Yes, sir."

"Well, you're welcome. One more thing, Chief."

"Yes?' Tyrol's body went rigid. Surely it couldn't get any worse…

"Like I said, nothing but the best touches my ships," Adama said. "That means none of your greasy engineer's rags. Only pure silk."

"I… Where would I find…"

"There are exactly two silk handkerchiefs in the entire Fleet." Adama held up a small square of silk. "I use this to clean my glasses. No one lays a hand on it but me." He held up an even smaller square of silk. "I was planning to use this one to polish my boots, but nowadays I can get folks to do that with their tongues. Sometimes I make them fight each other for the privilege. So you take this," he tossed the silk to Tyrol, "and you just scrub your little heart out on my ships until they are all as beautiful as their commander. The handkerchief will probably get dirty eventually, so wash it as many times as you need to."

"Thank you, sir." Very carefully, trying to hold back tears, Tyrol pocketed the silk. "Will there be anything else?"

"Well… now that you mention it, I have been a little bored…" The Admiral's eyes narrowed. "Dance." The Chief's eyes widened, and Adama nodded. "You heard me. Dance. Sing, too. Something uplifting. Now dance!"

Outside the Admiral's quarters, the crew of the Galactica went about their daily business. Through the door, a voice could be heard belting out "At first I was afraid! I was petrified! Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side…" while another voice cried "Excellent! Keep it up! C'mon, put your legs into it! Dance! Dance!" If any of the crew heard this, they gave no sign.


"Look, the point is, if I'd made a move to hold onto power after the Exodus, I would have had zero popular support. In the 'angry mob throwing me out of an airlock' sense of the term. But now, thanks to my plan, that will all change." Zarek paused dramatically. "It's called blackmail."

The empty eyes across from him looked unimpressed.

"Hear me out here." Tom held up his hands as he tried to justify himself to a stuffed toy. "Despite what the mindless masses have been taught to think, the people on Galactica and in the government are not perfect. On the contrary. They are, in fact, the most frakked-up bunch of motherfrakkers I have ever seen, in all my life, ever. And I've been hanging out with terrorists and criminals since I was twelve. And in their imperfections and failings lies my victory." He started counting off scandals, oddities, embarrassments, and lunacies on his fingers. "First, no one seems to have held the President to account for taking hallucinogenic drugs, and everyone's taking it for granted that she's quit now that the cancer's gone. I'll have to fix that. Second, the sexual tension between her and the Admiral is through the roof, which is a potentially disastrous conflict of interest in more ways than one. Speaking of which, how the frak did Adama get away with putting his own son in command of the Pegasus? Hello, nepotism! And why's Tigh still in command after everything…"

Time passed. The Fleet moved on through space. People worked, played, slept, and angsted. Zarek's followers aboard the Astral Queen wondered where their leader was. Considering that they were all anarchist follower types, it wasn't long before a conspiracy theory began to spread, namely that Adama and Roslin had arranged for Cylon agents to infiltrate the ship and murder Zarek so that they could start a war for oil. Deciding to search the ship for the agents, the convicts distributed flashlights amongst themselves. The ship was very well-lit, but everyone knows that when conspiracies are involved, a great deal of running around with flashlights is only appropriate. Unfortunately, the switches on the flashlights counted as moving parts, rendering them unfit for safe usage by the convicts. A great many painfully pinched fingertips later, the plan was abandoned.

Meanwhile, Zarek, who had long since run out of fingers, continued to talk, building up a head of rhetorical steam as he paced back and forth in front of the stuffed animal, whose black eyes never closed or strayed. Always watching.

"…married to a Cylon; hell, the whole ship's practically an orgy, the Comm officer used to be frakking the President's aide, but now she's frakking the Admiral's son, who wants to frak Thrace, who once frakked Baltar, which just proves something's wrong with her- yes, I know Baltar's attractive, but still…"

Zarek pushed his oratorical skills to their limit, and more than once almost collapsed on the floor as he gasped for breath, struggling to finish listing the sexual scandals, psychological issues, sexual tensions, unanswered crimes, sexual affairs, sordid secrets, sexual complications, interpersonal conflicts, and sexual sexy stuff which seemed to characterize every waking moment of the lives of the people on whom humanity's survival depended. Outside the room, wild accusations were traded between the Astral Queen's crew regarding the identity of the government spy who had surely sabotaged the flashlights. And the whole time, Walter sat there, wide black eyes taking it all in. Seeing. Understanding.

"…gods damned amateurish way to run a terror cell, if you ask me, everyone knows you get results by blowing up buildings, not people, but has anyone mentioned it? Noooo. And he killed his wife, who frakked half the Fleet if you believe the stories, and Specialist Cally murdered a prisoner in cold blood, and Tyrol, who was frakking the prisoner, beat her to a pulp, and then married her, don't know how that works, and none of the members of that death tribunal I set up have been brought to justice. Which they should be, in a way which in no shape or form implicates me." Another deep breath. "Oh, and Adama's moustache was hideous. We can use that against him."

At last, his long labour over, Zarek collapsed into a chair, panting. "So you see it. The political ammunition the sordid freaks at the top have gifted us with is almost limitless, and is all the more potent considering how high the populace's opinion of its leaders is right now. A few harsh reminders of mistakes made, an affair or two revealed for the tabloids, and the entire political structure gets shaken to its core. Unless, of course, my demands are acceded to."

The toy facing him was still not looking impressed.

"Look, I'm not talking about causing a society-wide revolution with a few pieces of gossip," Zarek protested. "Just some mild political concessions to start with- a high-profile advisory position next to the President for example- No, I am not doing this to get close to Roslin! She will be overthrown like the rest of the corrupt government power structure when the time is right." Zarek paused, considering. "Though it might be good to keep her alive and nearby. Just as a figurehead of course…"

The look on Walter's face transcended the unimpressed, and told Zarek Be glad that I can't move my eyes, or else I'd be rolling them right now, lover-boy.

"Oh, to hell with you!" Furious at the lack of sycophancy from his childhood toy, Zarek stormed out of the room to relate his plan to the rest of his minions. Little did he know what he was about to set in motion. If he had known, surely he would have turned around and… oh, who the hell are we kidding? It's chaos and Tom Zarek. It wouldn't have made a bit of difference.