Important Notice: For those who are also following the main story, I posted a new chapter two weeks ago but the system did not send any alerts.
Author's note: I must admit, this was one of the most difficult chapters I had to write. It took more than two weeks, with many changes needed afterward. I think the point of view I've chosen simply didn't work for me. Well, I hope all the changing done was able to bring the chapter up to standard. As always, you'll have to be the final judges.
Q&A: There's not much point in answering individual reviews here because they are very similar. In short, this chapter will answer most of the questions still lingering. It is also the last part that will conclude the part that focuses on Nagala and the troubles he's having with the presidency. The following chapters will focus on other things, like what's going on with the Fleet, Cylons, and so on.
Thanks to my beta. Hope you'll like this chapter too.
Lira didn't know what to do. At the moment, though, she was glad for her diminutive size. It was allowing her to scrunch in the armchair she was seating in, which, she hoped, was making her very inconspicuous.
The more she spent time with the President, the more she learned of the many different layers the man was made of. There was no doubt in her mind that he was a very intelligent individual, knowledgeable and capable of rationally making decisions. She could almost see how his mind went through different scenarios, every time he did so, his eyes seemingly losing interest in the world surrounding him. He, even though in his late forties, also looked in better shape than many people she knew with ten years less under their belt. Then, there was the side of the President that wasn't afraid of admitting to having made the wrong assumption when new evidence pointed in a different direction. She was a scholar and she could easily detect someone capable of rational thinking, and even though the main focus of the president's education was related to the military, she knew Nagala was sophisticated in other ways as well. He also knew how to use humor at the right times. Not often, but when the tension in the room necessitated it, he was known to lessen it with a few humorous anecdotes.
She had to admit, she did not know many men like him.
At one point, she had also witnessed a plethora of different emotions on his face that the President had, probably unintentionally, allowed being seen. It was during their meeting with the Terrans when their wicked cousins had played them like fools without anyone realizing. Once he finally realized what the Terrans had done, his face first depicted surprise - maybe even a hint of fear - but then she also recognized something else. Something that she didn't expect. After the momentary stupor had dissipated, the President seemed delighted by these people. Thrilled even. As if he had finally found an opponent he could respect. She didn't know if the President had realized it or if it had been more on a subconscious level, but she was certain the man liked having their new guests there. She hadn't seen any anger in him either, as a reaction often seen in people when fooled by others. Instead, the man took it in stride, probably immediately thinking of how he would make sure things went differently next time they met.
And the Terrans were right too in their assessment of their unelected president. They did have an open-minded president this time around, ironically, also one who had taken power by force. He was a president who didn't have any qualms in changing his mind when evidence suggested that he should do so. The Terrans were not the 13th Tribe. That was clear to the President as much as it was clear to her, no matter how some members of the Quorum were discarding such a possibility. They had all learned there are other human worlds out there, with some of those called Earth as well.
'So, why was it that some people cannot simply say they've made a mistake and move on?'
Instead, their reaction was to immediately call the Terrans liars and provocateurs - usurpers even! Admittedly, her religious upbringing was at the moment screaming rebelliously that no one should ever question their religion. She had been taught what to believe since early childhood and after so many years someone coming and simply stating that they were believing in a fairy tale was a very cruel thing to say, as well as being blasphemous.
'After all, the Sacred Scrolls could not be wrong, could they?'
At best, she could think of interpreting them differently than what the mainstream interpretation currently was. She had to do it in order to explain the Terrans' claims, which she regretfully believed to be truthful. Better to say their interpretation of the Scrolls was somewhat wrong than the alternative. An alternative in which the Scrolls spoke of untruths.
'Can she, with an objective mind, reevaluate everything she was taught and has believed in since childhood and find a different interpretation?'
It was true that in recent editions of the Scrolls, editions all Kobolians were currently reading and believing in blindly, it was written that the Lords of Kobol had created mankind. However, the exact wording in the original Scrolls, those that had been written thousands of years ago in an archaic and today almost completely forgotten dialect, instead speaks of the Lords having created the 13 tribes of man. It was a distinction not many were paying any attention. Not today when only a few people even knew how to read the original Scrolls. The only place where someone could find a different truth if he were to look for it.
'Do these few different words in the Scrolls represent a small or a big difference?'
It was also written in several passages that 'life began out there', which had always been interpreted to say that the Lords had not been born on Kobol, but instead, they were beings who came to Kobol from someplace else with the specific purpose to create mankind. This part of the Scrolls had been debated so many times and for so long that any more debates would certainly be fruitless.
'Or is this maybe our greatest mistake? How long ago did we stop debating this part of the Scrolls?'
With the conflicting information coming from Earth now available, she was beginning to look at it with fresh eyes, which was causing a few questions to readily pop in her mind. Questions with possibly dangerous answers attached to them. Maybe now it was time to look at things without the preconception of the Kobolians representing all of humanity.
'What if the part that states that the Lords of Kobol created the 13 separate tribes of man shouldn't be interpreted to say that the Lords also created mankind?'
'What if 'life began out there' doesn't mean the Lords are aliens who came on Kobol from someplace else?'
'What if, not the Lords alone, but mankind too had begun out there and was brought by the Lords to a new planet they named Kobol. Could then the Lords have simply split mankind into 13 separate tribes?'
This would inevitably change the entire interpretation of their Sacred Scrolls. Suddenly, their entire belief system would be put into question. Everything their religion ever was, stems from this beginning. From their belief of the Lords having created the Kobolians and the Kobolians being the only humans in existence. There was great pride among the people in that belief. It was almost like saying they were the center of the universe. But, if this passage had been wrongly interpreted, then everything else they believed in could be wrong too. This galaxy wasn't theirs. The Lords did not make them. They, as a race, have existed from before Kobol and Earth wasn't a Kobolian lost colony but rather it was the other way around. The Kobolians were Earth's lost colony.
'Are we Kobolians special at all? Or are we mere lost sheep in dire need of a shepherd?'
Lira took a deep breath, desperately trying to calm down. If she even voiced such suspicions openly, there was no doubt in her mind what would follow. At the very least, she would be ostracized. She also suspected that her colleague Mithras, the Quorum member from Sagittarion, would readily attempt to strangle her right there on the spot, not minding at all if he went to prison for her murder. If returned to Sagittarion, Mithras would probably get a promotion and a commendation for having performed the vile deed of killing someone. Someone that everyone on the planet would readily agree was a filthy infidel, instead of receiving hard prison time for it. She was sure of it.
'What should I do then?'
It was with such turmoil in her heart that she had been living for the past few days. She wanted to tell this to the President, tell to someone who, she knew, would understand all of it with a cool and rational mind and agree what the indisputable truth was. Then there was also the fact that, not only she wanted to share this with him in order to hear his opinion, but she also needed to tell him because he was their elected leader. She wanted to know what their leader thought they should do next in order for the Colonies to progress and eventually take their place in this foreign and apparently very crowded galaxy. Yet, every time she'd tried to voice her concerns, no sound would come out of her mouth. No sound at all. Only a lump in her throat, as if it was there with the sole purpose of stopping her.
Of course, she knew why she had failed to speak. She already knew what the President would think of what they should do. Her mind was deadlocked inside a massive conflict, one in which it was desperately trying to weigh both sides of the coin. It was true that her president deserved to know all of this. After all, she was the utmost expert on the Scrolls, hence the right person to explain to him everything, including all the implications good or bad, all necessary for her leader to properly decide what to do next. And it was true that she desperately wanted to tell him, but if she did that she would be putting him in grave danger.
Maybe to such an extent to even cost him his life, because sometimes knowing something forces you to act upon it.
She thought she knew him well enough to know that he would use this information to start a debate on the issue with the others in the Quorum in an attempt to convince them how this was a good thing. To convince them that they had finally found a way to explain everything the Terrans had shown them without having to say that the Scrolls were wrong.
And that would be a grave mistake.
By just hinting at such a possibility, he would make enemies of people he shouldn't. People who would readily start a holy war if need be only to stop such sacrilege. But her President couldn't understand that. Not truly anyway. He couldn't because he wasn't a true believer. He could not understand to what lengths people with deep religious beliefs, beliefs they had spent their entire lives cherishing, can go in order to preserve them. The fact that he was the president meant nothing to them. The moment he was flagged as a heretic, someone who was spreading the wrong gospel to the Kobolians, he becomes worth less than a chewed and then spat piece of gum now stuck under their boots.
A nuisance that simply needed to be removed.
Therefore, she needed to prevent that from happening, but she didn't know how. Sure, she could keep her mouth shut and say nothing of her troubling thoughts, but she knew her president was a smart man. Maybe even too smart for his own good. The man had already requested the translation of the original Scrolls, the one that contained the least of changes from the original. He had been going through it with a fine toothcomb searching for the same things she had ever since. He was questioning the interpretation rather than the Scrolls themselves, just as she had done. Of course, he didn't have the same knowledge base on the matter as she did, but that, she knew, would in time change. There was simply no way someone as smart as he wouldn't eventually come to realize the same thing she did.
'And then he would tell everyone.'
He would not understand that people who have spent their whole lives believing in something wouldn't readily accept his new interpretation just because evidence pointed in that particular direction. He wouldn't understand that their pride was much more important than the truth could ever be.
'After all, he is an open-minded person, right? How can he ever understand such a different mindset?'
There was no choice then. The toss of the coin now pointed toward the other choice. Instead of hiding her findings, she needed to tell him everything, but also find a way to convince him to keep the whole matter quiet and to do so possibly for years to come. She needed to convince him that debating the issue with some people could get you killed. She thought that this was the only available option at her disposal and she knew she didn't have much time to act before it was too late. She needed to explain everything to him as soon as possible, before he realized everything by himself and recklessly decided to act upon it.
They were here in his office. The two of them. Alone. There wouldn't be any better moment than right now to lay it all bare in front of him. The ugliness of the situation he was in, with the only true choice at his disposal to, regrettably, remain silent. However, the more she stood in his office crunched in a, admittedly, very comfortable armchair, the more she wavered in her resolve. It wasn't without a reason either. The opposite actually. There was a very good one, the reason why she thought today of all days wasn't the best time to tell him. The little fact that the large view screen mounted on the wall behind her had three bullet holes neatly placed dead center suggested that this definitely wasn't the perfect moment. The president cleaning his .45 caliber service gun, obsessively it seemed, was cementing her belief that today wasn't the right day to bring her disconcerting thoughts forth. The man's face spoke of a man filled to the brim with boiling anger. It was the face of a man capable of killing someone without a moment's thought and with no remorse felt afterward. No remorse whatsoever.
'Can I truly blame him for feeling like this?'
It hadn't even been a full day from the press release, the one in which the President had given a very eloquent speech explaining how they might have been wrong in labeling the Terrans the 13th Tribe. He hadn't gone into too many details on the matter. First, he'd confirmed the sightings of an alien craft flying over the capital on its way to the presidential residence. He also explained that the craft belonged to the Terrans but that at the moment what had been discussed with them behind closed doors was still kept classified and would only be disclosed at a later time after a more thorough study of its content had been conducted. He had then stated how in addition to their claims to be a separate and sovereign nation with no ties to the Colonies, there are also some external indicators confirming it. He had explained the Terrans might not be related or at the very least not related in the way they thought they were to the Kobolians, and that the origins of the Terrans were, at the moment, still unclear.
As evidence, he showed images from the planet Cain had discovered while going after the Expeditionary Fleet. A planet with many humans already living on it. In the little time Cain's fleet spent there, their investigation concluded the inhabitants had settled on the planet in a completely different timeframe than when the Great Exodus had occurred. Although nothing was certain yet, this was enough to raise some questions. Questions like who these people were and when and how did they come to inhabit that particular planet? A planet located hundreds of light years away from the Colonies. He had also mentioned the inhabitants having spent untold years as slaves under someone who had been pretending to be a god, but without going into details or mentioning the Goa'uld by name. The information and pictures of the stargate as an example of the existence of technologies not of Kobolian origins – words that to all Kobolians had meant the discovery of non-human technologies - was the cake that left every reporter in the room clueless on what was truly going on.
Seeing their reaction, nobody could disagree that this amount of planet-shattering revelations was enough for now. It would take some time for people to digest what had been revealed before more could be put in front of them. This was only the first step among many. Steps that would serve to ease their people into the true state of the galaxy they were living in. A new truth of their existence that told of countless worlds with humans living on them, but also of worlds with aliens not related to humanity in any way. A tale of a galaxy with many space-faring races living in it, some – regrettably – with knowledge and capabilities far exceeding theirs. It was all meant to slowly tell their people that they might not be the center of the universe, as some might wrongly believe. It was all to explain to them that they might be the underdog in this strange galaxy. An underdog that would need the help of someone like the Terrans in order to survive in a galaxy full of powerful and, as it turns out, very hostile humans capable of, with no qualms, blasting them on first sight.
The press was to put the truth finally in the open for their people to hear, but also for the Terrans to hear it as well. Maybe if they openly spoke of them as of a sovereign nation rather than of a world that needed to follow the laws of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, maybe then they would be more willing to open a dialog and share some of the knowledge they clearly possess and that the Colonies desperately needed. It was this the main reason for the press release and the delivered speech had halfheartedly been approved by all members of the Quorum - except for Mithras who had vehemently condemned the idea of going public with any of this, also going insofar as to blatantly call it sacrilege. Still, the decision was made by the vast majority to go public with these minimal set of information while keeping the focus on explaining how maybe the Terrans weren't the 13th Tribe. It was what they all believed the Terrans wanted to hear.
The president wanted to give more to the people, hiding only the truly controversial data that should probably be kept classified even for decades to come, like the encounters the Expeditionary Fleet had with various aliens and with the Terrans. However, some had voiced their reluctance into giving out so much, stating that it would be too much for this first delivery of the unwanted truth of the universe to be told. She couldn't disagree with that sentiment of the majority of the Quorum member either and yesterday's address to the Colonies had confirmed it. There had been many who had already voiced their concerns even with this first diluted version of the truth.
The newscast from Sagittarion were the loudest, showing many known religious figures and other people on the streets with concerned or angry faces readily condemning Nagala's speech. Some were saying that his explanations were vague and hence proof some kind of deception is afoot, while others that his interpretation of whatever information he had must be wrong, as the only plausible explanation. After all, the Terrans must be the 13th Tribe because there's simply no other choice in the matter. The Lords created mankind on Kobol and the 13th Tribe was the only one that had left the planet before the Great Exodus. The planet discovered by Cain must have been colonized by a lost ship during the Great Exodus and the investigation that concluded the planet hadn't been colonized at the same time must simply be wrong. All on Sagittarion readily agreed with their religious leaders, many condemning the president for even coming out with information that was clearly incorrect. Some of them even questioned the President's motives in calling the press release for such a matter. There were also those who believed the evidence found must be a complete fabrication.
Other worlds were more refrained, only voicing their concern with the amount of data revealed since it was clear to them that a lot was still being kept hidden from the public. All things considered, at the time it had seemed that most worlds were taking it as expected or maybe even better than anticipated, which made the President hopeful. However, it did not last long. It all went south this morning when all of the data related to the Terrans and the Expeditionary Fleet was leaked to the public in a massive dump.
There was no doubt in her mind that the President wanted to kill whoever had leaked the data. He probably wanted to do it in person too, the reason why he was currently cleaning his service pistol so diligently. He probably didn't want for it to misfire. Top secret data related to the Expeditionary Fleet had done the most damage in this early stage. It was what the news were talking the most, about what the fleet had gone through, what they had learned out there, and of course the informal meeting between Roslin and Daniel Jackson, the Terran representative present on their vessel. The meeting the President had with the Terrans only days ago and that didn't go very well was the cherry on top. It was bad and the timestamp showing the public that the government had known about most of it for more than a year wasn't helping either. There was disbelief, there was mistrust, and there was also a lot of anger. And they didn't even know about the conflict the Expeditionary Fleet had with other aliens and that Jack only spoke to the President in confidence.
The worst was that it had been only eight hours since the first news hit the ether.
There had been no warnings either. Usually, a reporter would ask for confirmation before going out with whatever he had. Someone would then promptly tell them that the information they had was highly classified, hence any dissemination of it represented a crime punishable by imprisonment. Instead, after the first hour in which the biggest newsgroup in the Colonies had constantly talked about the scandal, the entire content had been dumped on the Datanet to be freely downloaded by whoever wanted to read about it. It was simply too late to do anything to stop the dissemination of the data. It was out there, everywhere, on countless sites and servers, half of which hidden in parts of the Darknet it would take years to search through. The President had quickly accepted that the cat was out of the bag and that no one could put it back, no matter how much they tried.
However, that didn't mean the same as saying that he wasn't going to use his authority to find whoever was responsible.
The President had never used his true power. The Colonies were not a democracy anymore. Instead, they were now a dictatorship with the President having the full power of the Colonial Navy to back him up when enforcing whatever decision he would make. And the Navy would not ask and would not question. They would only act and do whatever he'd ordered them with no complaints.
And he did order them.
Presidential Order 298 was issued three hours after the first news had broadcasted parts of the stolen documents. Inside Order 298 it was stated that whoever was involved in the theft and dissemination of the top secret data were to be treated as traitors, as this was a clear and blatant attempt at destabilizing the Colonies during a difficult time of war with their greatest enemy, the Cylons. Furthermore, the culprits must be found and punished by any means necessary. In short, all those suspected of any involvement now had the same amount of rights as a cockroach. The only thing now was to find who they all were and then they would probably get a bullet in the back of their head. At least, that was what she'd thought would follow.
The Navy was swift. From orbit above all planets in the Colonies, raptors descended with a clear purpose. Their first target were the various news stations from which the data had initially leaked. Lira could not believe how fast they had been. In less than one hour, all news stations had been stripped of all electronic devices, camera recordings, laptops, datapads, servers, and phones, all were taken as well as many people who had been suspected of disseminating top secret documents without informing the authorities. By performing the raid, the military had effectively shut down those news stations since without servers and other equipment there was no way they could function. She didn't know how those that were taken into custody would be interrogated in order to uncover the truth, but she knew it wouldn't be very pleasant.
After all, they were cockroaches now and nothing more.
In her humble opinion, whoever was behind this, they must be a bunch of veritable morons. Maybe the fact that the Colonies had been a democracy for so long had blinded them from understanding the reality in which the Colonies were currently in. The President had been nice in these past few months. After the coup, he had made peace with a lot of people in the previous administration, those who had been under Adar's leadership. He had also reinstated the rule of law only two weeks after having taken the presidency by force. By all accounts, the appearance was that the Colonies were still a democracy with due process still very much in effect.
'How wrong could people be?'
The President wanted the Colonies to be a democracy and he wanted it badly, there was no doubt in her mind about that. The moment the war with the Cylons was over, he would not hesitate in bringing new elections to as quickly as possible give the people the ability to select their leader. Yet, right now, he was still a dictator who held absolute power in his hands.
'And what does a dictator do when he gets royally pissed off?'
Whoever was behind this, they should have known better than to poke the bear while it slept.
"Miss Machen, you may speak freely," the President said while still cleaning his gun. "I won't bite."
'Says the wolf to the lamb,' she thought. She then turned to look at the view screen full of holes, smiling. "The display behind me would suggest otherwise. I see its death was swift."
Nagala looked at the defunct display. "Yes, well, at the time the face of the major shareholder of Tauron's largest newsgroup was on it, so…"
"I gather, Mister President, you believe the man's behind this?"
"I don't believe. I know he is. We have been investigating the CID for months now and we have uncovered a few things that suggest his involvement, as well as of other industrialists close to him. Dubious transactions, some decisions during Adar's administration that greatly favored a few individuals from Tauron, even catching a few CID agents with clear ties to Tauron and those same individuals. It all gives a pretty clear picture."
"So, why haven't you arrested them?"
"Barely enough to indict them, much less enough for a sure conviction. They are powerful people capable of bringing untold lawyers and even able to manipulate a judicial proceeding in order to get exonerated. We needed certain proof of their involvement before we went after them."
"But that is still the case, isn't it?" she added.
"True, but now I'm pissed. Now I don't need certain proof," Nagala said while finishing assembling his gun. "Or due process."
"Meaning, they will be found guilty of treason against the Colonies and then as a reward for their deeds, they'll be shot in the head."
"Mr. President, you still need to prove they are behind this, no matter how certain you think you are in their culpability."
"Ah, but this is where you are wrong, Miss Machen. I will be certain of their guilt before I shoot them," Nagala said, putting a wicked smile on his face.
"I don't see how except maybe if they are leaving incriminating evidence everywhere to be found. I think they must be at least smart enough to not do that."
"You're right. They are probably at least that smart. However, it appears that I'm not the only one who's royally ticked about this clusterfrak. A few hours ago my assistant came back from lunch and found some strange device on my desk with a note attached to it. The note said that it's an early birthday gift to me. A lie detector with a hundred percent success rate."
"Is such a device possible?" She didn't ask for whom it was. She could guess, though.
"Currently being tested. Thus far, not even the most hardcore spies we have around here were able to lie while under it."
"I suppose there's no point in asking who you believe is behind this."
"Don't know of anyone else who could have done it. Security is having a fit because of it. No clue how the device was brought inside my office. Not easy to smuggle it either. It isn't exactly small," Nagala explained, with his hands showing the approximate size of the device. The way he was showing it, it seemed the device must be bulky enough to necessitate two hands in order to be carried.
"Definitely not pocket size then."
"The cameras in the office went on the fritz when it happened and those in the halls haven't picked up anything, which doesn't mean much since we know races out there have the technology to make individuals completely invisible," the President explained.
"Invisible, sir?" Lira asked, not knowing exactly what to make of it.
"Yes, there has been an attempt at our scientist Doctor Desai by someone who used cloaking technology to infiltrate the mansion where he was residing."
"There was?" Lira asked starting to feel more and more confused with each passing moment. It hadn't been made public, and she wasn't told in private either. Actually, it was ridiculous how little information about their greatest genius scientist Dr. Desai there was out there these days. It seemed as if the man had simply vanished right after Adar was dethroned.
"Well, since all this is classified information still collected during Adar's reign and the CID's always watchful eyes, I'm certain soon some news station will start broadcasting that information too. Therefore, no point in not telling you even if it is, technically, still classified information. It happened almost half a year ago. A Cylon tried to kidnap our greatest scientist and was stopped by an invisible man. We are assuming it was the Terrans who had heard of the assault and intervened," Nagala explained.
She was pensive for a moment. On one hand, it seemed the Terrans have been helping them from the very beginning. On the other, they were displaying an amazing level of penetration into the Colonies. "It seems the Terrans are not shy about showing us what they can do."
"No, they are not. They are doing it with class too. Usually, we'd get angry at someone for such blatant disrespect of our space. But, it is difficult to get mad when every time they do it, they help us or leave gifts, like with this lie detector. If proven infallible, it will not only help us in rooting out the bad weed. It will probably change our society after we reverse engineer it."
"I can clearly picture it, yes. People who are running for public service or maybe even high positions in the private sector must first answer a few simple questions before getting the job. For example, what are the goals you plan to pursue once you take office? Or, do you have some ulterior motives besides the betterment of the Colonies and their people? I think you, Mr. President, are among the very few who could answer those questions in front of the gifted lie detector without turning out to be a liar or, otherwise, people wanting to lynch you for being an egotistical prick."
"Thank you. I appreciate your trust in me not having any ulterior motives."
"Well, you'll need any support you can get, Mr. President. Now that all classified data is out, there will be unrest, people will be laying blame, and you'll have to be the one to explain everything, somehow, while attempting to calm people down." She didn't envy the task ahead the current administration would have to deal with. There was also to see how many would jump ship, leaving the president to fend for himself.
"I'll start feeling depressed over it from tomorrow. Today my goal is to find those responsible and to end them, swiftly and permanently," Nagala responded with finality.
"Yes, this is also the reason why I'm reluctant in bringing another subject," Lira said, then taking a deep breath.
Nagala was looking at her without saying anything for a long moment. "Please explain what the reason for your reluctance is."
"Your anger. I believe that the state you're currently in will negatively influence your ability to make a rational decision. Even if not in such an angered state, I'm not sure if you'd make the right decision. In the state you are, I'm almost certain you wouldn't," Lira said, not looking directly at the president.
Again, it took a long moment for Nagala to respond. "All right. I concede that I'm angry and that now is not the best time to make important decisions. However, since you brought the matter forth regardless, I am convinced that whatever you want to tell me you deem it very important. In light of that, I promise not only to listen carefully to what you have to say but also not to make any rash decisions for at least a few days."
Now it was time for Lira to stare at the President without saying anything. Was he telling the truth? Would he wait before acting, or was this just a ploy to make her talk? She was leaning to believe the President would truly make an effort to hear her out and not jump the gun while still angry at those who have disseminated all those classified documents. "All right, I'll trust you, Mr. President."
"Spill it then. What is eating at you this entire morning? You've been all scrunched up in that armchair and deep in thoughts since you got here."
Lira took a deep breath. She had made the choice to tell him everything. There was no going back now. "Mr. President, a few days ago, I began going through the original Scrolls in an attempt to find something that would explain what revelations we are receiving from the Terrans mostly, but also from evidence found by the Expeditionary Fleet. Upon reaching one particular passage, I have discovered that our interpretation…"
'Ah! Freedom at last!'
Those had been the words often thought - and sometimes even happily spoken out loud - in recent days. It had been a grueling six months, he had to admit it, the time he'd spent with the Colonials doing their bidding. Not something he'd wanted or planned for when he first came here in the Colonies, but what else could he have done? The Colonies were in a war with their creation, the Cylons, and they were far from ready for it. They were in dire need of technologies that would speed up their production process, as well as make a few breakthroughs that would give them a decisive edge in the war, and maybe one day to prepare them for other threats present out there in the galaxy.
In the beginning, his work as the emergent genius scientist Robert Desai had gone smoothly. Adar's greed had prevented the man from questioning who Robert Desai truly was and how was he able to so readily come with new amazing inventions after mere weeks of haphazard research. It worked for both sides, though, as he too enjoyed greatly dealing with blissfully ignorant people who didn't question and were rather happy to reap the benefits. However, the happy times did not last long. President Adar had decided to use Dr. Desai as his poster boy in an attempt to boost his popularity, allowing the president to stay in power for one more mandate. Little did Adar think of the safety concerns inevitable to surface when the person who was to change the course of the war was to suddenly become a very public and a very exposed individual. An attempt at kidnapping was quick to follow and Ba'al had to – regrettably - thank the Terrans for their swift response. An invisible man had saved him at the eleventh hour by knocking down the Cylon beast that was trying to drag him out of the villa. Ah, the humiliation of being so powerless. Not only couldn't he use his full abilities and gadgets that in normal circumstances he would always carry on his person, but he also needed to thank the likes of Jack O'Neill for having placed agents to monitor Dr. Desai, the only reason why he wasn't currently strapped to a table on a Cylons ship ready to be dissected. This was definitely stirring mixed emotions inside of him, especially after he had learned that the Thirteenth Colony were, in fact, the Terrans.
His greatest enemy.
From that point on, it had been a steady decline, with imprisonment in a deep bunker as a reward for his hard work. As if working as a scientist wasn't punishment enough. He was then pressed to deliver even more so that the Colonies would progress at an almost unattainable rate for a time and before anyone discovered who he truly was. He was terrified of Jack O'Neill suddenly beaming inside the bunker saying – Hello Ba'al! Long time no see! – with a wicked smile on his face and a pain stick in his right hand. It didn't come to that. Instead, the Colonials were the first to understand that he was an alien. They still came short in understanding how much of an alien he truly was and he was also uncertain how much of the concocted story he told them they'd truly bought. Frankly, he thought they bought too much of it, a belief supported by the fact that nobody put him under some scanning equipment or began dissecting him in an attempt to understand what made him tick. There was also the chance that they didn't care if he were a green and ugly alien inside, as long as he provided them with a plethora of new inventions on a regular basis. Another reason why he had to start thinking about his future.
Sooner or later, one of these two things would come to pass if he did nothing. The Terrans would come knocking, or the Colonials would decide to understand more about what made him an alien. Both reasons were highly unpleasant and the mere thought of it made him enter a frenzy of thought in which he was desperately trying to find a way out of this mess. However, before getting out of this whole mess, he first needed to get out of this bunker. He would then think of how to proceed further.
Sometimes having limited options forces you to quickly find a way out since it is the only one available to you. There were only on thing going in his favor. There was a pattern to the guards that were bringing him the food. It was a schedule in which he knew Guard A would bring him lunch on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday, while other days Guard B would be the one to serve him. Guard B was an asshole Ba'al wanted to kill, but, unfortunately, he wasn't the right fit. Guard B would drop his food tray and leave immediately every time and without saying a word. Guard A was much friendlier, which meant he would be the one to serve him better during his escape.
Ba'al had to be quick. The moment his food tray had been placed on his desk, he grabbed a piece of a vegetable from the plate. Twenty seconds later, he grabbed his abdomen in apparent pain. A quick look at the guard showed his concern at him suddenly feeling ill. He rushed into the bathroom and there he began making strange sounds of pain and vomiting. A few minutes later, he was certain the guard would take the bait. He called him and the man came rushing inside.
The symbiote ambushed the guard from behind with a precise leap to the back of his neck.
Ba'al had quickly taken control of the guard, his newest host, and quickly proceeded in killing his former one. He didn't like Desai anyway. An overweight person who made him think of Nereus every time he looked in the mirror. He really didn't like to think of Nereus, in any context or for any reason. With this part completed, there was no chance of Desai coming out of the bathroom in a room where there were cameras everywhere. Moving quickly, Ba'al went back in the lab, straight for the shield generator he was working on. If he pushed the generator to full power without actually generating the energy matrix, the device would eventually overload. It would result in an explosion strong enough to incinerate the corpse in the bathroom, the only place where there was proof he had escaped and who he really was. He figured the overload would take around ten minutes. More than enough time to leave the premises when nobody suspected you've done anything wrong. Of course, he needed to work quickly in any case. You never knew if somebody suddenly decided to view the feed from the lab and understand something was awry.
It felt like an eternity while he moved from the bunker to inside the presidential palace and then out in the open. Many doors, all needing an access code to open and a few checkpoints with guards there were making him nervous. A stupid error and he could end up detained. It would be all over then. Eight and a half minutes later and he was on the street in front of the presidential palace, finally free.
Now, he only needed to stay that way.
It wasn't all that difficult. What he did next was to go straight to chart a private flight to the nearest island. He had paid in cash and brought some nice weights and some cord with him. Once inside the charted plane, he switched host before killing the previous one. Now as a pilot, he flew as planned towards the nearest island where he would land. Half way there, he tied the weights on the dead guard before tossing the corpse in the ocean. With this, the only remaining connection with his previous life was gone. The guard would never be found and without the guard, there was no way to find him. Especially not for the Colonials who did not know of his ability to swap bodies. Soon, he would swap to a new host, probably doing the same thing several more times just to be sure.
Unfortunately, though, he wouldn't be inhabiting the final host he had planned to take.
He wasn't sure if it was fortune or misfortune. The news were talking about the Expeditionary Fleet, the Terrans and the evidence of other inhabited worlds. Even the little that he had learned as Dr. Desai was enough to know that the government had suffered some massive leakage of classified data and from what he could see, behind it were the same people who had been in control of the CID. He didn't know how to feel about that. On one hand, if they were so stupid to make Nagala their enemy, so openly, they were not the people he wanted to take as a host in any case. If so stupid, then they must have made too many other mistakes in the past and Nagala was probably already onto them. Now, with this last stunt, Ba'al was sure they would be found and shot for treason. At least that was what he would do if he were in Nagala's place. On the other hand, having taken the boss behind the CID as host would have opened a plethora of possibilities, making him among the ten most powerful people in the Colonies. Then he would have befriended the President providing him with whatever aid he needed. Why make the most powerful man in the Colonies your enemy? In time he would become the power behind the man, what he believed was the best option. While Nagala controlled the Navy, he would control the media. Investing in a tech company that under his patronage would in a few years reach Greystone Industries was another option to boost his power he was also contemplating. After all, now that Greystone had lost their greatest scientist and all research he had done was actually owned by the Navy, a friend of the President could get the next contract to produce the next generation of whatever the Navy wanted to be built.
However, this had all gone down the drain because the people behind the CID were morons who thought they could deal with Nagala in such a stupid way. They had disseminated classified data thinking that this would teach Nagala not to confront them. How stupid could these people be? If it were an attack on Nagala alone, the man would probably let it slide. However, this attack was putting the Colonies in jeopardy because it was destabilizing their economy and was creating unrest when they clearly didn't need it. A race in disarray could not effectively fight a war. Nagala would never let this slide. Such blatant attack on the Colonies he had sworn to protect and these people should have taken Nagala's character into account. Since they didn't, they would soon find out what Nagala is capable of when the Colonies are threatened. It would be a purge, swift and merciless, and afterward, nobody would ever attempt something as stupid as this ever again.
All this was fine and good, but it left Ba'al with a sour taste in his mouth. Who was he going to take as a host now?
He really did not know. As his final host, he wanted someone who can be the power that ruled from the shadows. After all, the Colonies would eventually go back to being a democracy and in a democracy, the most powerful person is elected and stays in power for only a decade. A pitiful timespan for a Goa'uld. Better to find a rich industrialist with strong connections inside the government and maybe even more importantly inside the military than instead to go into politics and have to deal with their endless politicking on a daily basis. He would probably get the urge to murder his opposition rather than to argue with them. As a politician, he would have to do menial work even more boring than the research he'd had to do as Dr. Robert Desai. He was certain Nagala didn't like that part of his new job demanded of him. He knew he wouldn't. Instead, as an industrialist, he could mostly do as he pleases and be the power behind the current administration.
In the end, the decision on what to do was in front of him the whole time. If he weren't sure on who to take as his final host, he could - and should - wait for an undetermined amount of time until he found the right fit. It was decided then. He would wait and see who the people behind the CID were and once Nagala purged them all, he would see who remained, clean of any wrongdoing. Those were the future candidates to choose from as his newest host. He just needed to fight his urge to quickly become powerful. A genetic defect that had ruined the Goa'uld race. Or rather, an intended shortcoming placed on purpose in their genes by whoever manipulated them sixteen thousand years ago. After all, the research he had done in order to create clones of himself had proven without a doubt that the Goa'uld did not evolve to where they were now by natural means. There were discrepancies in their genome that could not be accounted for in any other way. Someone wanted them to be a race of power-hungry egotistical individuals who could not work among themselves, much less with other races. He really wanted to know why, though.
Why would someone do this?
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