Author's note: Just crossed the ONE MILLION WORDS mark! I should go get a beer or something to celebrate.
Q&A: Here I'm going to quickly answer wherever I found a question in a review
ShadowClub: Well, I think all humans are good tech thieves, meaning, if there's an opportunity, they are going to take it. Earth too.
carmencami99: Unfortunately, my posting schedule is a complete mess. There is no saying what story I'll update first. Sorry about that.
PascalDragon: The last chapter was written from Nagala's point of view, therefore only his thoughts were depicted, his impressions, his understanding, and even what HE thought others understood. What the other truly got from the meeting is unknown to Nagala, therefore to us as well. At least that's until some more interaction occurs with those people.
Norjc: Exactly! Jack raised questions that need to be answered. Sometimes it is better to let people mull over problems on their own, rather than to impose your answers, or your interpretation, on them. Point out discrepancies, and let them find the answers. If they are still unwilling, whatever answers you give will probably be rejected, in matters of religion probably as outright lies. ;)
EvilTheLast: I think that the authors of BSG never put too much thought in the story beings consistent.
Ivy Gort: No, the assistant is a Colonial through and through. He has a peculiar way of doing things and he's very capable. No need to be an alien for that, though. Even Colonials can have a few brilliant people.
Thanks to my beta, and hope you'll enjoy this chapter.
It was another in an endless series of busy days that Nagala had to deal with, and he needed to do it with a smile on his face. His friend Norton has just been here - the only bright spot of the day - though with no good news to share. Thus far, the Raptors upgraded with the subspace jump detector haven't found any Cylons' base. The problem, though, wasn't in the new gadget the useful alien in the basement had come up with. The device was detecting ships jumping around as advertised, giving the exact location where a ship entered and exited the jump point. The problem was in the type of detected ships. Those had been raiders on patrols, unfortunately, capable of jumping faster than their raptors ever could. It took only a minute for a raider to recharge its jump drive and vanish, only to appear light years away. The raptors did not have the same range, and it took them almost three minutes to cool down before safely engaging their jump drives again. It was frustrating, and he could see it clearly on Norton's face. Thankfully, there was good news as well. Even thought they could not chase the raiders to their home base, or bases, they slowly were building a map where the raiders were jumping toward, which in time should lead them to their hideouts.
And when that happened, the Cylons would finally pay.
Norton had left, as the man was even busier than usual. He only had a few hours before his ship was slated to leave for Cylon infested territory. The reason he came back was to get the new batch of Raptors with the very useful subspace sensor installed onboard, and because the good alien had come up with another of his contraptions. If he'd thought about it for a while longer, he should have realized that the man's next invention should have been a rudimentary subspace communication system since communication and sensor based on subspace had many things in common.
No more Raptors would need to be used in order to deliver information or orders across vast distances measured not in kilometers but in light years instead. With this new gadget, information can be sent even a hundred light-years away. It was still technology at its beginning, and it didn't allow for large amounts of data to be sent back and forth, but for sending orders in real time, the new technology was a true stroke of luck. Coordination of fleet elements would also improve considerably, as raptors and other ships sent on missions could easily call for backup if needed.
The way they fought wars was changing and the change was happening at a frightening pace. He only hoped that, with the help of the alien in the basement, they would be faster than the Cylons in their process of upgrading their tech-base. He knew that the warstar Norton was commanding was the most powerful ship in their arsenal and one that even the Cylons could not take lightly. He could still remember vividly the warstar's first battle when the ship had killed a Cylon baseship with a single shot from its main forward plasma cannon. Many were talking about that having been a lucky shot, that it succeeded in destroying the enemy only because it hit its central strut, and that if it hit elsewhere instead the result would have been much less spectacular. What these ignorant morons didn't understand was that the frontal plasma cannon fired a plasma bolt that flew so fast that there was no practical chance of a miss happening. The bolt flew faster than any missile or bullet their warships had ever fired. He was certain the warstar could hit a Cylons ship in the right place every time, a sentiment that his friend Norton fully shared. The warstar's other attributes were not to laugh at either. Her defenses were above anything ever designed, and the ship's ability to create a defensive wall of high-velocity shards, highly effective at blocking plasma bolts the refurbished Cylon ships had fired at them, wasn't any less revolutionary than any other improvement.
Together with the warstar, the fleet under Norton's command had more than fifty other ships, all upgraded to the latest standards. Even if the Cylons noticed the fleet in their territory, he was certain they would keep clear of it rather than engage in a battle they would certainly lose. By now the war had inexorably turned into their favor, with their ships having a massive advantage on the Cylons' counterpart. With their industry now fully devoted to building new ships, there were talks of having double the production compared to the Cylons. At least that was the prediction their experts were giving. In a year's time, they would have three hundred capital ships at their disposal, in addition to fully functional planetary defenses. The Colonial military buildup was already such that the Cylons had completely stopped any kind of incursion into their system, as more and more of their raiders had been downed before they could reach any of their targets, like malls or hospitals. In a little under a month, the subspace sensor array would be brought online as well, which meant that nothing in a five light years radius would be able to jump unnoticed. Soon, the Colonies would become completely safe from any Cylon incursion. One of the promises Nagala had given to his people when he took office by force was finally coming to pass. He was happy the day was nearing, although, he was going to be even happier when the day Norton informed him of the Cylons' complete demise finally came.
He hoped it wouldn't be long now.
A knock on the door made him stop daydreaming about a beautiful, yet still undecided future, and instead to rather focus on the present. "Yes?"
The assistant opened the door. "Mr. President, the Quorum Representative from Geminon, Lira Machen is here."
"Let her in," Nagala ordered.
"Good day, Mr. President," Lira said, as she walked in front of Nagala's table. Upon reaching the table she immediately proffered her right hand.
"I'm glad you could make it, Ms. Machen," he responded while shaking her hand. "Please, have a seat."
Lira sat on one of the two armchairs in front of the table. "Thank you, sir."
"Well, I hope you had enough time after we saw each other the last time, when the Terrans came to visit us, to give it adequate consideration," Nagala said, wanting to push the conversation in this direction. They were here to talk about the promises he had made to the other representatives in case they didn't side with Cyrus, the representative from Tauron. However, that wasn't the topic he liked to discuss right now - or ever, really. He knew she would ask of him at least a piece of his liver and two liters of blood anyway.
"I see you prefer to discuss this particular issue first. I have no problem with that… as long as we don't forget the other reason why I'm here," Lira responded with a wicked smile.
"I would never," Nagala responded with a mischievous smile of his own.
"So, you're eager to hear what I think about the meeting we had with the two representatives from Earth," Lira stated, clearly in the process of collecting her thoughts on the matter.
"I am eager to hear what each of the members of the Quorum think on the issue. Well, maybe not what Cyrus thinks, but I do want the opinions of all other members, yes. However, your opinion is especially important to me in this particular case," Nagala explained. These people were the voices of their respective worlds, which meant they were the ones to be asked what the Colonies would think about all this, and especially now while they were still at war with the Cylons and still in a bad situation, economically speaking. The crisis wasn't over just yet.
"I see. Aren't you worried that my religious stand will cloud my ability to rationally analyze the situation?" Lira asked with a smile.
"One of the reasons why I value your opinion more than of others is because you are a very religious person and are from a very religious world, yet, you just used words like 'my-ability-to-rationally-analyze-the-situation', which betrayed you. I am fully aware that you are a scholar with doctorates in ancient history and archeology. Maybe I'm wrong, but I believe that you have no problem in keeping a rational mind no matter what you're challenged with or how deep it goes against your religious beliefs. In addition, in the meeting we had with the people from Earth, you looked like the only person who actually enjoyed Daniel Jackson's lecture on the history of their planet, which means you're the only one who listened carefully."
"It is true that while he was talking about the amphora and the empire where it was found, I was entranced by it, and not only by the content but also by the passion the Terran displayed."
"Hmm, yes. You also took the vase to be analyzed, if I recall correctly. Did you have enough time to get the results back?" Nagala asked. It was one of the most important points. The test could show the age of the vase. Then the only thing that remained was to understand if they had faked it somehow.
"I did test the artifact, and the results are troubling to say it mildly. We are talking about an object that was created more than four thousand years ago."
"I see. Do you believe that the Earthers made a fake somehow?" It was the logical next question.
"I cannot respond to that question. I do not know the capabilities of these people. Hence, there's no point in me guessing. Of course, as an advocate of the Sacred Scrolls of Kobol, I cannot but believe that these people have faked it," Lira finished sternly.
"And as an advocate of the scholar inside you?" Nagala asked another pointy question while putting another mischievous smile.
Her face expressed her undeniable wish to strangle him - very slowly - for asking that question. She sighed, resigned. "If I look at it rationally, I cannot find a valid reason why these Earthers would have faked it, even if they had the means. In the end, we would ask them to be allowed a visit of their homeworld, at which point the truth would come out clearly enough."
"Hmm, yes. That is in line with my own way of thinking," Nagala replied while rubbing his chin. "Well, now comes the big question. Do you believe that they are the 13th Tribe or not?"
Lira sighed. For some reason, she was taking her time to answer. "You do not ask easy questions, Mr. President."
"These are not easy matters. It is only logical that there would be fewer topics that wouldn't give us a headache. Although, I suspect I already know what your answer will be."
"Oh, and how do you know that?" Lira asked while putting a defying smile.
"Since we started this conversation you referred to them as 'these people' and 'Earthers'. You even referred to Daniel Jackson as a 'Terran'. Yet, you have never called them the 13th Tribe. Not even once," Nagala explained knowingly.
Lira seemed taken aback for a moment. There were many ramifications to think about if they were not their lost cousins. "It seems that, even on a subconscious level, I have already decided that they are not the 13th Tribe, but instead some other human race with no ties with us whatsoever."
"So, you believe them?" Nagala asked.
"I do. Something about them inspires trust somehow, no matter how weird or unorthodox they seemed. At least that's how I see it."
"I had the same feeling. Well, that means that we should tell our people publicly that we made a mistake and that the people who helped us are not members of the fabled and still missing 13th Tribe, and instead are an independent and sovereign human race we could and should befriend," Nagala continued, but suddenly stopped when he saw Lira visibly stiffening. "What is it?"
"Mr. President, we can do what you said, but we have a big problem there."
"What problem?" Nagala asked. He didn't need any more problems. He could also predict with a high degree of certainty how little he was going to like this particular one.
"I believe that our public would come to terms with the fact that there are human worlds other than ours and of the 13th Tribe. Although, even here I would refrain from mentioning that there are thousands and much less that some have aliens living on them. Aliens who have nothing in common with humans. But even these facts are not as damaging as another one."
"Let me ask again, now by putting, even more, dread in my voice than before," Nagala asked, this time leaning forward. He was steadying himself for the blow he knew it would come the moment he repeated the question. "What problem?"
"Humanity began on Kobol, by the will of the Gods," Lira explained, candidly and without any preambles.
Nagala knew exactly what she meant. "I understand. If we begin negotiations with Earth, the problem isn't that they are not the 13th Tribe. They could be explained as a lost colony ship somehow drifting in that direction. Or maybe there's no need to explain anything at all. People are good at self-deception when it suits them, in their minds quickly fabricating whatever story fits into their belief system easy enough. The problem is the evidence on their planet that directly contradicts the Sacred Scrolls that speak of Kobol as the cradle of humanity. It is the cornerstone of our religion, and what people had spent more than 2000 years believing in."
"Yes, and that is what will make some religious people blow a fuse for certain, but that isn't the only problem. It is not only religion the problem here, but also pride. People's pride that the Gods themselves created us on Kobol. Instead, the Earthers have images of primates that are supposedly our distant cousins!" Lira said skeptically. Even she wasn't able to easily chew this part of the Earthers' story, much less swallow it. "I have no notion on how to spin this to alleviate the blow, Mr. President. If the evidence on Earth that speaks of millions of years of evolution is real, a few smart people will soon derive a very dangerous conclusion. If evidence shows of humans' evolution on Earth going back millions of years, that also shows that life couldn't possibly have begun on Kobol. Which begs the questions, were we even created by the Gods as told by the Scrolls and how did we end up on Kobol then? There is no way of the same species evolving on two distant planets without some kind of interaction. DNA doesn't simply fly through space on its own."
Even to Nagala, it was weird to think about them as anything other than Kobolians. The first, if not the only humans in the galaxy who had been created by the Gods themselves. And he wasn't a religious man by any stretch of the imagination. If you added that the public would be swayed like leafs in a storm by the news spitting half-truths, thinking more of sensationalism and of selling more copies and having better ratings than of presenting the truth in a calm and rational manner, the situation could easily degenerate into complete chaos. It would be enough for a few religious zealots to start a campaign against the heretic Earthers and twelve worlds could easily blow as if they were made of one hundred percent pure Tylium.
"Well, let's say that we first release some information to the public to prepare people for the idea that Earth is not the 13th Tribe, without mentioning any sensitive information. Then we try to contact Earth and ask them to allow a few people to go to their home planet to check their claims. Only then we try to come up with a way of slowly introducing this possibly and probably a very volatile set of information to the public."
"Your plan is sound. And when I say that it is sound, I mean it is the only way to proceed if you want to mend relations with the Earthers. Of course, there is the other option," Lira said as if wanting him to take door number two.
"Which is?" He was playing dumb. He knew exactly what the other option was.
"Which is to not tell our people anything more than the bare minimum and if that is not enough for the Earthers to continue diplomatic relations, so be it. We isolate ourselves from them until the day when we think the news of the Earthers won't cause a crisis in a time when a crisis is the last thing we need."
"Yes, while the Cylons are still out there, the last thing I need is for riots to start and our industry to slow down. However, you are not aware of this, but from what we have learned from various sources, it seems there are many advanced races in the galaxy. Races with warships more powerful than ours. Warships with impenetrable shields, at least by our standard weapons, even our most powerful nukes."
"Excuse me?" Lira asked. Her eyes were blinking at a dangerous pace. She probably didn't like what she was hearing, not only because of the content but also because she hadn't been informed earlier.
"Ms. Machen, there are things that are classified and I'm telling you this only because I want you to give me an informed opinion and not one based on only half the information. The truth is that our Expeditionary Fleet has met aliens that, with only one ship, would have been able to destroy our entire fleet if it hadn't been for the intervention of the Terrans. This data still needs to be vetted properly of course. Once the Expeditionary Fleet returns, of course. However, I personally believe this information to be valid."
"I… I don't know what to say."
"Trust me, most of the times, neither do I. However, as you can imagine, having relations with someone as powerful as the Earthers, could be very beneficial for us. Maybe even lifesaving."
"I can't give you an answer to that. First, I don't believe that what you just told me should be made public in any quantity or form. It would only instill panic while we are still dealing with the Cylons. Gods! What would people do if they knew the Earthers are not the 13th Tribe and that there are many times worse hostiles in the galaxy than the Cylons? If you want to create panic this is the right recipe, I assure you," Lira responded. Her stress level was definitely on the rise.
"Ms. Machen, we truly have a hot potato on our plate. The galaxy is a scarier place than anyone thought possible, and we, as it turns out, are the underdogs. To make things even more difficult for us, our people's beliefs are in contradiction to what we are learning about our history and ourselves. I am fully aware that at some point we should, calmly, reevaluate what we know of our past spent on Kobol. However, I'm also aware that now it is not that time. And then, when I'm sure that I have finally come to a satisfactory decision on how to proceed, I remember that there's another factor I haven't properly taken into account."
"Which is the Expeditionary Fleet that, at some point, is going to return, with alarming news about the galaxy at large," Nagala explained.
Lira went pale. "If almost a hundred thousand people come back with information about the Earthers that contradict our history, there won't be a way to contain it. The news will blow across our worlds in no time, and then it will be panic, and chaos, and anger. Gods! I think I'll have trouble sleeping tonight," Lira responded.
"Welcome to my world, Ms. Machen. I don't remember the last night in which I slept for the full six hours, as it was my norm before I took office," Nagala said, he too feeling frustrated by the whole situation. He slept better during the coup than now. There was also another factor that he didn't like. This whole ordeal with the Terrans was a powder keg ready to blow if it were to become public. On the other hand, he knew that some shady elements that were part of the CID had some if not all of the same information as he did. Which meant that there were people out there who could use this to incite unrest among the people when it suited them. Those were people he more and more believed to be behind some powerful industrialists on Tauron, as well as the people behind Cyrus. "There's also another problem that could make my decision if I choose to hide the truth backfire on me."
Lira squinted. She was clearly puzzled by the way he had phrased the last sentence. "This sounds very ominous, Mr. President. The kind you usually read in spy novels."
"I am fully aware of that, believe me. As you know, our dear ex-president Adar created the CID, an organization that was disbanded the moment we took Adar off the throne. However, it seems the CID was never fully under his control, or at all, but rather under the control of some wealthy and unscrupulous people," here he coughed a little before proceeding, "Evidence suggests they are from Tauron and have used the CID for their own agendas. It is also more than just probable that these individuals have enough knowledge about the Terrans to discredit me if I were to try covering it up."
Lira's jaw dropped by an inch and she didn't seem able to speak anymore, at least if her transfixed posture was any indication. I took a while for her to regain her ability to process thoughts in a coherent fashion once more. "This is a can of worms I'm ill-suited to deal with or give advice on. On one side, you just told me that behind Cyrus there are people we should be very wary of and that knew things about the Earthers that until moments ago I didn't know anything about. These people could use this information to discredit you if you lie publicly about what we know of the people from Earth. On the other hand, the Expeditionary Fleet must have collected a lot of information about the galaxy and will collect much more once they reach Earth. When they come back, a hundred thousand people will spread rumors that nobody will be able to contain. Mister President, from this I now believe that you have only one possible choice."
"To tell the people nothing, and also to never lie about it if asked or otherwise you will get caught, which could be disastrous. The people must never think that you're lying to them," Lira explained.
Nagala smiled. "Even after all that I told you, you still think that telling the truth as we know it to our people is not a good idea. It would solve my problems perfectly to plainly tell everything we know."
"Mr. President, we haven't even touched the problems we had with the one rising monotheistic religion some fifty years ago. Although they had been labeled as nothing more than terrorists and eventually were arrested or killed, the revelation that Earth isn't the 13th tribe and that life didn't begin on Kobol can be enough for the group to reignite again, with the knowledge that they were right all along in not believing in the Lords of Kobol."
"Yes, wait if they learn that most people on Earth have religions with only one God," Nagala said half-jokingly."
"What?" Lira spat the word, angrily.
"Oh, yes, you're not aware of that because Daniel Jackson talked only about their past in terms of the evolution of the human species. However, when he met with vice president Roslin, he did mention that on his planet there are countless religions, but that the most followed ones are monotheistic," he explained, immediately noticing the red face of the representative from Geminon. Maybe he should have started the meeting with that bit of information.
"Mr. President, you told me that I needed to know everything so that I can give you an informed recommendation. This is an important fact that I should have been privy to from the beginning," Lira explained the core reason for her anger.
Nagala tapped quickly on his computer's keyboard, scrolling quickly until he found the documents. With a tap, he instructed for the documents to be printed. "I apologize, Ms. Machen. I sometimes forget that Adar kept you completely in the dark about what was happening with the fleet. The files that I'm printing now are the reports from the time the Expeditionary Fleet was still in range for a CID raptor to return to the Colonies in order to report back. I must caution you that in my opinion, these reports are grossly biased. I think that neither the people at the CID or our former president were capable of thinking objectively. These reports are full of assumptions and paranoia. However, they do contain the transcripts of admiral Adama and of vice president Roslin about the incident in which they met the Terrans for the first time. Again, I apologize, but on many occasions, I assume that you and the other members of the Quorum were informed on the progress of the Expeditionary Fleet."
Lira took the proffered papers. "I'll read this today. Is this all, or are there more surprises?"
Nagala became evasive all of a sudden. "Well… yeah… not much more to say."
Lira sighed, closing her eyes for a moment. "Mister President, I need to know everything."
It was his time now to sigh in resignation. "Well, after we ended the meeting with the Terrans the other day, I walked them back to their craft. Jack O'Neill understood even without me asking anything that I wanted to learn whatever he could tell me about the wellbeing of the Expeditionary Fleet. After all, they were following our fleet, which meant they know more than we do. Anyhow, what he told me didn't make me very happy, or optimistic that our future relations with Earth would go smoothly. It appears that there was an incident in which our fleet was attacked by an alien race and would have been destroyed if it weren't for the prompt reaction of a Terran warship that came to their aid. As the Terrans destroyed the alien ship, they did so but not without incurring crippling damage. At that time, rear admiral Cain ordered the surrender of the Terran ship in order to get her hands on their more advanced technology."
"Gods, please save us from fools with guns," Lira shouted.
"Yes, well I have to agree with you on that one, except that, this time around, it weren't gods that saved us from a war with the Terrans that we would have certainly lost, but rather aliens."
"The Terran ship had its shields on its last leg but still working, and it was able to survive blows from the battlestar Pegasus for long enough for a race called the Asgard to come to their aid. Their ship simply stood in front of the Terrans much smaller and, as Jack O'Neill explained, ten times weaker ship in a protective fashion, taking blows instead. Well, to make a long story short, the result was that that incident didn't help our relations with Earth one bit, of that I'm certain, and we are now probably on bad terms with an alien race we know nothing about other than they are as powerful or probably even more powerful than the Terrans are, and that they are called the Asgard. Even the wish of the Asgard for our people to punish the transgressor who dared attack a crippled Terran ship by ourselves wasn't accomplished, as the judges found Cain not guilty for reasons of temporary insanity," Nagala concluded, baffled on how Cain had been able to fool the jury. He knew the witch wasn't insane.
He didn't want to say anything about the last thing Jack told him before they left. About how to his wish for humans to stay together, the man answered that such thinking didn't work on him simply because he wasn't human. He didn't understand what the man had meant then and he didn't understand it after two more days and nights spent thinking about it still. Therefore, there was no point in burdening Lira with it.
Since Lira wasn't talking anymore, he decided to say something. "I think that sums it up pretty neatly."
"More and more I'm starting to think that the Cylons are the least of our problems. They are an enemy we can tackle and the enemy we have known for a long time. Thousands of human worlds and other alien races, many of which are armed to the teeth, that's what I do not know how we can confront. I'm clueless on how to bring this new reality to our people. This is something maybe the Librans can absorb, but my people won't be able to. I can only imagine the reaction of the Sagittarians," Lira echoed her thoughts at loud.
Geminon was the nest of the now gone terrorist group that fifty years ago had started a new religion on the basis of there being only one true god. Sagittarion, on the other hand, was full of fanatical believers who punished their people for skipping the weekly gathering in Dionysus temple. Somebody saying that Kobol wasn't the cradle of humanity was cause for a holy war. "I think if I went in public and said that Earth is where humanity began, the Sagittarians would send somebody to assassinate me."
"Yes, they would probably be the first in a long line of people all wanting to burn you for your misdeeds. The only question is if they would want to save your soul or wouldn't even care," Lira said. She then smiled apologetically. "Probably I would be among them as well. You know, for appearance's sake."
"That wasn't funny, Ms. Machen. My thoughts of being hated by the people went as far as thinking they'd hate me because of my policies, or at the worst by thinking of me as a tyrant. But never as a heretic or traitor to everything the people believe in," Nagala stated half-jokingly.
"Yes, I don't think that any president thinks of that when they take office," Lira informed. "Even those who do so by force."
Without notice, his assistant entered the office. "Sir, there is a situation that necessitates your immediate attention."
Nagala sighed. He knew his assistant well enough to know when a new problem has arisen. One he needed to deal with promptly. "Ms. Machen, we will have to cut this meeting short, I'm afraid."
"We still haven't talked about what you've promised, Mr. President," Lira accused.
"We will, I promise. The first free moment I have it will be yours."
"Very well," Lira said reluctantly while getting up. "I will hold you to that promise, and I will think a little more about everything that we've discussed today. Good day, Mr. President."
"Good day, Ms. Machen," Nagala replied politely, patiently waiting for her to exit his office before turning to his all-knowing assistant. "What is so urgent?"
He did not answer. Instead, his assistant walked closer to the table while tapping on the tablet he was holding. The large view screen on the other end of the room sprang to life with images of the lab where the alien worked was shown. As usual, the alien was doing things that bored Nagala to death. "What am I looking here?"
"Please keep watching, sir," his assistant urged.
It took a minute or so more before the guard stationed outside brought the alien his food tray. The alien grabbed something from it absentmindedly, chewing while still working on the contraption standing in front of him. Seconds later, the alien was clutching his stomach. He immediately went to the bathroom. Whatever he ate must have disagreed with him. Seconds trickled by, with the camera showing the guard alone, seemingly uncertain on what to do except to look toward the bathroom where the alien had disappeared. There were no cameras in the bathroom. Privacy issues and all. Then, the guard seemed to notice something and he bolted, quickly entering the bathroom and disappearing from view. For a long minute, there was nothing to see. Just the empty lab.
The guard came out alone and immediately went for the device Dr. Desai had previously been working on. He was doing something to its control interface, but Nagala couldn't see what. The thing that puzzled Nagala was not just that the guard was working on it, but also that he knew what to do. He was far from qualified to operate the prototype machine, as very few were. Less than a minute later and the guard was running out of the lab. "What the frak?"
"I am going to fast-forward this part because it takes around ten minutes, sir."
Nagala waited, less and less liking where this was going. Because he knew the images on the screen were moving faster than in real-time he expected to see Desai coming out of the bathroom any moment now, but that sadly did not come to pass. Instead, the only difference he could notice was the weird glow the contraption on the large table was emanating. He wanted to ask his assistant why it was doing that, but before he could the assistant slowed down the recording back to normal. The device was glowing more and more. As far as he knew, Desai was working on a prototype shield generator. Nothing that their ships could be retrofitted with, but a scaled down version of it. The real thing would have trouble fitting in the lab.
That was the moment when all that he could see was a bright light and then replaced by static. "What the frak?"
"This, sir, is the moment when the device overloaded. The alarm informed the secret service immediately, however, except for this recording, it is a complete mess down there in the bunker," the assistant explained.
"The lab blew up?" Nagala asked.
"Yes, sir. We still can't get inside, unfortunately."
"Isn't that located exactly below us? Why haven't I felt anything?" Nagala asked.
"There was a small tremor, but too weak to be sensed. The lab was a revamped nuclear bunker, sir. The explosion was not near powerful enough to be felt up here."
"Where's the guard now?" he more or less could imagine exactly what had happened down there. He didn't know why, though, but it appeared that the guard had brought something that made Desai sick and then he followed him to the bathroom. There he incapacitated the alien, or maybe even killed, before setting up the device Desai was working on to overload. That was what he thought had happened, although, there were some minor details that somehow didn't fit, and especially the missing motive for such an act.
"Gone, sir. Ten minutes between the sabotage and the explosion were enough of a headstart for the guard to slip out of the building and head in an unknown direction."
Nagala felt confused. This whole thing did not make any sense. Except maybe that the guard wasn't just a guard. The only thing that could make sense was if the guard was a CID agent. An infiltrator with the task to kill the alien and the work he was doing.
Was this the result of him opposing Cyrus? Were these people showing him their incredible reach? Were they so stupid as to murder the biggest asset the Colonies had in the war against the Cylons just to spite him?
So many questions. No answers whatsoever, though.
"We lost the alien and the work he was doing," Nagala said, flatly. He wanted to punch something.
"The alien, yes, we lost him. The work, we did not. All data is automatically backed up on multiple servers, there are cameras following the work of the alien and each and every keystroke he makes is logged."
"Still, no matter how many scientists we put to work on what Dr. Desai was doing, they'll take an eternity to understand it."
"It is a setback, sir, there's no doubt about it. It seems that from now on we will have to work with Colonial ingenuity alone instead of relying on alien knowledge. The good thing is that of the most important projects, all were in the final stage of testing except for the shield generator prototype," the assistant said, clearly trying to lessen the blow.
"Yes, Norton visited Dr. Desai yesterday evening and reported to me as much. With the work done so far, we can expect to have limited subspace communication capabilities and the next generation of jump drives with an increased range. The newly developed photonic computers should go into production soon, which should give us the ability to calculate jump coordinates much faster," the photonic computers could, of course, be employed for a myriad of other practices. However, people were still leery of using them against the Cylons, fearing they could be hacked. The jump computer would be a separate system, non-networked, and hence the chances of being hacked were nil. All in all, Desai's death wouldn't be as much felt as he thought. If his work on the shield generator was flawless as the rest had been, it would only necessitate to be duplicated and then proceed from there. The alien had fulfilled his purpose after all. He had given them the means to defend themselves before being killed and then blown to pieces. Talking about overkill. Except…
"I will assume that the guard killed the alien in the bathroom, and since everything is recorded, I will also assume that the guard knew he became the prime and only suspect. Furthermore, I can then assume that setting the lab to blow up would not change any of that, which would indicate that whoever wanted the alien dead also wanted to destroy the lab. There is no other reason to destroy the lab. It is not like the guard covered any important evidence by doing so," Nagala summarized what he knew and believed.
"It would appear so, sir, yes."
"Then who in his right mind would hamper our efforts to win this war against the Cylons… except for the Cylons of course?"
"I do not know, sir. However, you are making an assumption that forces you to think that only someone who's working in the Cylons' best interest could ever do something like this."
"What assumption would that be?"
"That the people behind all this are smart and rational people rather than idiots. If you allow for idiots to be behind this, then you must allow for the existence of idiotic reasons as well."
This focused his suspicions back to the CID and those behind them. "Yes, idiotic reasons like for spite, or as a warning. This still could be the work of the ex-CID. For a moment I thought they couldn't be behind this, just to pressure me."
"Exactly, sir. This could be an idiotic way to pressure you."
"For frak sake! They are risking the safety of the Colonies!"
"The only way to truly understand how idiots think is to be one of them, sir. The rest of us can only speculate. I do believe that as a motive, your refusal of Cyrus's proposal could have angered them enough to prompt such a reprisal. I am more troubled by the fact that even after thoroughly vetting people, we still missed exposing the guard for who he truly was."
"Yes, especially the fact that he had the expertise to set the shield generator to overload."
"Nothing suggested any background in science. However, he could have simply been instructed to max the power intake and hope it would result in an explosion. Not much knowledge is needed to bring a slider up as far as it goes, sir."
There was that too. He didn't even think about that possibility. An idiot-proof interface that allows saboteurs to easily accomplish their mission. Ah, the irony of it.
"There's not much to do now other than catch that bastard and make him talk, and then shoot him for treason," Nagala said pensively.
"He is now on the most wanted list, sir. He will not get far."
"Good. I am going to call Norton now and explain him all this before he leaves the Colonies. Oh, he will be so ecstatic when he hears this."
"I do not envy you, sir," the assistant said sincerely. "If that is all?"
"Yes, you may go."
Nagala watched as the man exited his office before slumping back in his chair. This day wasn't going as well as he had hoped. His talk with Lira had left him clueless on how to proceed. He was now leaning toward keeping the existence of the Terrans away from the public. If everything went well with the war effort, in a year's time maybe, he could calmly reevaluate the situation and decided to disclose everything they knew about them. He knew there would be some strife, and maybe even riots in the streets, but if at that point the war with the Cylons was at a close and their economy was out of the crisis, he could survive any malcontents and the troubles they'd cause. Better than he could now anyway. He could then also end his autocracy with new elections that would end up passing this hot potato to the newly elected poor shmuck. It would be his problem to deal with then. He would be glad to just continue to drive a warstar around the galaxy. Maybe seek new people and go where no Colonial has gone before.
It was now time to stop dreaming and instead start dialing his friend Norton's number in order to give him the bad news. He really didn't look forward to the call, though.
Norton liked to yell at him, a lot.
Thank you for reading my story. Reviews are always welcome.