This story takes place the day before Special Agent Duram gives the press conference to the victim's families in the pilot episode. Those who have read my previous Caprica story might note that I have spelled Duram's name differently. This is the actual way of spelling it. Apparently the production staff made a mistake spelling it in the TV sequence during the opening montage of the episode "Rebirth" and spelled it as 'Durham'.
I hope you enjoy.
13 Days since the bombing of the Maglev Train 23
I stood in the dank alleyway leaning against the back wall of a small Gemonese restaurant while silently inhaling a cigarette as I waited. It had been two hours since I had last spoken to my partner inside the bar on the otherside of the road at the end of the alley. I was getting agitated and only the taste of nicotine in my mouth seemed to calm me down. She was taking too long for my liking. She had promised me she could get our mark out of there and into this alley in under an hour, she had always been confident about her feminine charm.
As I reached the butt of the cigarette in my hand I threw the remains on the ground and stamped it out before reaching into the pocket of my C-Buccs sports jacket and removing another one - my forth in the last half hour. Having lit the fresh cigarette I checked my watch in a manner that I'm sure resembled someone waiting for a late bus to work. It was now fast approaching 0320hrs and there was still no word from Claire. I silently made a promise to myself that if she didn't appear within the next twenty minutes I was going back into the club to look for her and if there was no sign of her I was calling it in.
"Where the frak are you?" I mumbled causing the cigarette to dance between my lips as I spoke. "Come on Claire."
As I continued to wait I began to curse myself for having agreed to her idea. Once again her enthusiasm had been an overwhelming factor and I had begun to wish I had done more to curb it.
Two hours Earlier
"That's him," said Claire indicating with her eyes towards the man who had just walked into the bar and took a seat at the counter before ordering a drink.
Toby's bar was a stylish Aerilon-themed establishment located near Caprica City harbor. It was a weekend and as such the place was crowded and noisy being filled with people looking for a chance to unwind from the vigors of their working week before another week started the following day.
"Him?" I uttered at the sight of the scruffy looking short built man wearing an old grey cotton jacket over a pair of denim trousers and a red and white peaked cap. His face was covered in spiky and unkept ginger facial hair giving him quite a run down looking complexion. This, coupled with his unimposing posture, gave the impression of quite a pathetic looking figure. "You think he's STO?"
"Probably not," said Claire, "but surveillance has identified him as being present at several monotheist gatherings over the past few days. Chances are he knows some of them."
"You're beginning to sound just like Duram," I quipped knowing it would get under her skin. Agent Claire Ratliff was hardly Special Agent Jordan Duram's biggest fan. She loathed the guy likening him to some kind of bureaucratic snake.
"Oh really?" she asked with annoyance emanating in her tone. She had taken the bait and swallowed it whole causing me to retreat behind my beer bottle with a subdued grin of amusement which only enraged her further. There was a serious point behind my little joke however.
"Are we to assume all monotheists are terrorists now?" I asked her making my point clear. "Last time I checked there was nothing in the law that said you can believe in the Gods or you can be an atheist but you can't believe in one single God above all else."
"You sound like you have sympathies with these people?" she asked having been caught a little off guard by my comment.
"Oh not at all. I just think Duram is branding them all the same. The problem with that is that when people feel that they are associated with something even when they're not they tend to behave that way anyway. If all monotheists think they're going to be branded as terrorists and persecuted for it then I think it's just going to breed more acts of violence on their part."
"You know what, Jack," she sighed. "I don't give a frak what anyone wants to believe but if you're going to start blowing up trains full of people because of those beliefs then we have to shut them down. It's our job."
"You'll get no argument from me just as long as the ones we concentrate on are the ones who are genuinely guilty of something."
She didn't respond. She just looked at me in a way that I interpreted as her belief that monotheism itself was a crime that needed to be stamped out. I knew that she believed in the Gods but I felt that wasn't the cause of her prejudice. It was rather that her only experience with monotheists was a negative one. They did blow up a train after all and when a small minority of people behaves in such a way its Human nature to associate all the members of that group with the ones who are actually responsible.
"So who is this guy anyway?" I asked getting back onto the matter at hand.
"His name is Jacob Ellis but people call him 'Ratty'. From his file we know that he has been locked up a couple of times for minor infractions; petty crimes and anti-social behavior mostly. He's never really done any serious time. He hasn't been able to hold down a steady job for about five years now. He lives alone, has few friends, no girlfriend."
"Sounds like someone who would find the idea of joining a close knit cult of monotheists appealing," I added.
"Now who's generalizing?" she said with a satisfied smirk on her face. "The thing with this guy is he goes about his life whilst being generally unnoticed by everyone else. That means people are more likely to loosen their tongues around him so he may have heard people talking at the meetings. We should put pressure on him, put the fear of the Gods into him and see what happens."
"First we need to get him outside and away from the public eye."
"I'll take care of that!" she said as she stood up. "Give me an hour and I'll bring him into the alley across the street. Wait there for me."
"You sure you can get him out there?" I asked feeling that she was being a little too overconfident. She just grinned whilst winking at me before turning around and approaching Ellis. I drank up the last of my bottle before walking out to wait for her.
Someone was coming!
I could hear voices echoing through the narrow alley. It was the sound of a man and woman enjoying their time together. I suddenly heard a loud chuckle that I recognized as belonging to Claire. That was her way of warning me they were coming. I threw away my latest cigarette and quickly stepped back up against the wall finding some cover in front of a fire exit while I waited. I could hear them getting closer and closer. Ellis was doing most of the talking and Claire was feigning laughter at everything he was saying. The poor fool must have thought his luck was in.
I waited until they were only a few feet away from me before I stepped out in front of them. Ellis, who had his arm around Claire's waist, came to a sudden stop but before he had chance to realize what was happening Claire had yanked his arm from her and launched him into the adjacent wall with ease. Ellis hit the bricks and mortar hard before ricocheting back and falling to the ground clutching his nose.
I looked at Claire in a manner that asked her if that was really necessary and she replied with, "He was getting fresh."
Still clutching his nose, Ellis clambered up onto his feet and turned to see the two of us staring at him. His panic stricken eyes raced back and forth from me and Claire as we both stepped towards him making him feel trapped. His hand released its grip from his nose before dropping to his side; he clearly had no intention of trying to fight his way out of this. Experience had taught him that it would probably be pointless to try and if anything would result in a harder beating. He couldn't have known we were GDD agents from the way we were dressed and that played into our hands.
"W-Who are you?" he asked. "What do you want? If it's money then-"
"We don't want your money," I interjected, deliberately cutting him off mid sentence to establish my authority over him.
"Then what do you want?" he asked again. "Who are you?" I reached into my pocket and took out my ID. I quickly flashed it in his face and he uttered, "GDD! Hey I didn't do anything wrong. Whatever this is about you got the wrong guy."
"Oh I don't think so." I said.
"We know you're a monotheist," said Claire which caused his heart to sink in terror before she really scared him by adding. "We know you're STO too. And we know it was STO who bombed the Maglev train."
"No!" he blurted terror stricken at Claire before turning to me and repeating desperately, "No, you've got the wrong guy."
"Are you a monotheist?" I asked.
"Uh, yeah but... Listen, I didn't blow up any frakking trains or anything like that."
"We know you didn't, that much is obvious, but just being associated with terrorists is enough to get you locked up for the rest of your miserable frakking existence."
"I'm not STO for frak sake!" he pleaded desperately.
"But you do know some of them, don't you, at the meetings you attend?" I asked offering him a chance to tell us everything. "Don't tell me you all just sit around with milk and cookies singing songs."
"I'm not STO, I swear to you. I just go to the meetings and stuff. I'm telling you the truth."
Me and Claire looked at each other in a well rehearsed gesture that indicated we were starting to believe him. It was of course all just a ploy to get him to cooperate.
"Alright then," I said to him. "From one law abiding citizen to another, why don't you give us some information that we can use to put some of these people behind bars?"
That suggestion clearly didn't sit well with him. "I don't know anything."
"You're lying," said Claire stating the obvious.
"You must know something?" I added.
"I don't!" he replied relaxing a little thinking he was almost off the hook.
"Alright, I'm bored now," I said grabbing hold of his jacket. "We're going to put you away."
"What for?" he asked as his terror levels soared once more.
"I haven't decided yet. Perhaps I'll make something up."
"You can't do that!" he argued clearly afraid of what I was going to charge him with even though I had no intention of falsifying anything. I've never once did anything of the sort in my career but he clearly believed I was dirty so I decided to use that to finally get something out of him. Claire wanted to put the fear of the Gods into him and that was exactly what I was going to do.
I pushed him up against the wall and I leaned in close to him as I whispered, "Do you know what they do to kiddy-fiddlers in prison?"
"What? No!" he screamed while Claire looked on with an amused grin across her face.
"If you don't tell us something useful, anything at all, then I will make sure that every big haired tattooed freak on the inside knows that you're a pedophile. Hell, we'll even say it was Tauron kid you abused. Do you have any idea what would happen if-"
"Alright! Alright!" he screamed before he started sobbing. "I know something."
"What?" I asked releasing my grip.
"Look, I overheard some guys talking at one of the meetings," he started whilst trying to recapture his breath which was proving a somewhat difficult task.
"Go on!" encouraged Claire. "What were they talking about?"
"They were talking about that kid who did it, y'know, the one who blew up the Maglev. Ben, something or other, Spark or Stark?"
"What about him?" I asked.
He took a deep breath to calm his nerves down before he continued, "They're saying that the bombing wasn't sanctioned by the STO."
"What do you mean?" asked Claire with confusion all over her face.
"I mean that most of the STO are pretty pissed that he did it!"
"Most of them?"
"Yeah, some think the guy's a frakking hero while the others think he's opened up a really bad can of worms! That's it; I swear I don't know anymore. Now I can I please just go?"
As I looked at him I knew he was telling the truth. This one fact changed my whole perspective of the case. The GDD investigation headed by Special Agent Jordan Duram had been laboring under the belief that the Maglev bombing was the first attack in a new offensive by the STO. That theory had now been blown to pieces and yet in a few hours Duram would be addressing the families of those who died as well as the press and tell them exactly that.
"Alright," I said to him finally. "You can go but if you hear anything else you call us. Here's my card. And Ellis; it wouldn't be smart to keep things from us."
I stepped aside and allowed him to leave. He didn't waste the opportunity and he walked away as quickly as he could. We watched him leave and when he reached the end of the alleyway Claire turned to me and asked, "What do we do now?"
"Call Duram," I replied.
"But it's three in the morning."
"I know," I replied smiling with glee at the thought of waking Jordan Duram up.
Caprica City Bureau
"This had better be good!" snarled Duram as he walked into the empty office where I was waiting for him. It was odd for me to see him wearing casual clothing having become accustomed to seeing him in his neatly pressed suits. He simply wore a grey pair of jogging trousers and a plain white t-shirt, obviously in an effort to get dressed and get to the office as quickly as possible.
"I think it is," I said to him as I watched him pour a cup of black coffee. Once he was finished he carried his cup over to my desk and sat on the opposite side.
"Where's Claire?" he asked noticing that she was nowhere to be seen in the office.
"I sent her home. I didn't see any point in her coming down here as well." That was actually a lie. Claire just didn't want to talk to Duram at the best of times to say nothing of doing it in the early hours of the morning. She truly hated the guy and was probably not alone.
"Did you two make contact with this, what was his name, Ellis?"
"Alright, what've you got?"
"Ok, here it is," I said. "STO aren't directly responsible for the bombing."
Duram gulped on his coffee with such force I could have sworn he swallowed his own tongue.
"What the frak does that mean?" he asked, his eyebrows curling inwards in confusion.
"We know Ben Stark was STO and probably Zoe Graystone as well and we're almost certain they were the ones who carried out the attack. Now if they did then they weren't authorized by whoever is running the show these days. They did it on their own."
I watched as he leaned back in his chair while his mind tried to assimilate this new information. He seemed to be searching for someway he could discard this information although I couldn't be sure why.
"This is what Ellis told you?" he asked to which I nodded. "Are you certain he's telling the truth?"
"I'm certain he thinks it's the truth."
"No," he murmured before explaining, "No, this doesn't make sense."
"Why not?" I asked curious as to what he was getting at.
"Even if Ben Stark and Zoe Graystone did take it upon themselves to act independently of the main organization they still had to have help from within. You can't just walk into a hardware store and buy a man portable bomb that powerful. You have to know what you're doing."
"Do you think they could be part of some splinter faction of the STO, one that doesn't want to stay dormant any longer?"
"Could be. Or it could be that they have changed tactics. Instead of directing a campaign of terror they could be encouraging people to take matters into their own hands, make it more random and unpredictable. Now that's worrying. How do you fight something like that? It's easier to stem an organization's efforts but if you've got a whole host of lone suicide bombers we don't stand a chance. That's why we have to curb these monotheist scum right here, right now so we can save ourselves a lot of trouble in the future."
As I listened to his words I couldn't help but notice the fact that he said 'monotheist' rather than STO. It was the second time that night I had heard the two groups described as the same thing and to be honest it troubled me. I have long been an advocate for zero tolerance towards the guilty but there was always a danger that we might arrest the wrong person. That's why a good Agent needs to keep an open and objective mind at all times but as I sat there listening to the man who was leading this investigation I didn't detect a hint of objectivity in his voice.
"Jordan, are we to suspect all monotheists of being terrorists now?" I asked diplomatically.
"The STO are all monotheists!" he declared resolutely.
"Yes but are all monotheists STO?"
He looked annoyed with me for asking that question. To him it seemed stupid, almost naive. He could see I didn't understand his reasoning behind his own prejudice towards those who believed in only one God and so he felt compelled to explain it to me.
"We are talking about a group who believe in a single divine entity whose judgement cannot be questioned and whose will is interpreted by unscrupulous characters who lure weak minded people into believing in this one God just so that they can strap bombs to their chest and blow up a train full of commuters. Just by accepting the existence of this one God these people are opening themselves up to terrorism. Surely you can see the threat there?"
"I understood what you're saying," I explained feeling that my loyalty was somehow being questioned. "These people are in a minority so it's easy to see how certain other people could take advantage of that. All I am saying is we need to tread carefully on this and make sure we can separate the terrorists from the people who just have a different view from the rest of us. There's no law against being a monotheist and we have no right to dictate to anyone what they can or can't believe."
"That's not what we're doing here," he protested. "We are simply taking steps to eliminate the threat posed by a specific group of people who are a threat to our established way of life. A way of life that has endured for thousands of years."
"You know, some people might call that religious persecution."
"I think I know a lot of people who would call that justice. I'll be seeing most of them tomorrow when I address them at Caprica City Hall and explain how we know that the STO is the reason why their loved ones aren't with them anymore."
I could see I was getting nowhere with him on this subject. To him there was simply no distinction to speak of; if you believed in only one specific deity called 'God' then you were a terrorist and as such you were an enemy of the state.
"Are you going to tell them what we've learned tonight?" I asked him referring to what we had been told by Ellis.
"I don't see how it's relevant, do you?"
"I do," I replied honestly. "I think they should be told the truth."
"The truth? You want me to go up there and tell them that their loved ones died because of some spoiled little brat who felt he was doing a nameless God's work?"
"Well how is telling them that they died as part of a new terror campaign going to make them feel any better?"
"It wont," he answered quickly. "It won't heal any wounds but it will allow us the leverage to do the job we've been tasked to do. You don't seem to understand that when that train blew up we were put in the crosshairs from two different angles; the people and the politicians. The people want to be reassured that the STO are an enemy we can fight while we need to make the politicians realize that we can't do that without the proper funding that we should have had long before now. We go up there today and tell them what we've learned tonight then no one will take the STO threat seriously until the next time a bomb goes off. Now if keeping the whole truth to ourselves is what we have to do in order to get what we need to prevent that from happening then frankly I can live with it."
"Is that an order, Jordan?" I asked wondering if I was picking up on a subtle hint he was trying to throw at me.
"No," he replied. "I would hope that you would see things my way on this. It's late. Why don't you think about it on your way home?"
I didn't give him an answer. I simply got up and left. My conversation with Ellis and then Duram that night had left me a lot to think about regarding how I viewed myself in this whole affair. I wanted to fight the STO but it was becoming clear that the GDD investigation under Duram wasn't too concerned with differentiating between terrorists and those who just believed differently. Then there was the whole matter of keeping quiet about what we had learned in order to secure funding and support. A lie of omission is still a lie.
As I drove home that morning I came to one unfortunate conclusion; I didn't recognize Caprica anymore. It would never be the same again after the Maglev bombing and I wondered just what the future of this 'new' Caprica would bring.