Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica
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Published Date:31-07-2017
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PROLOGUE The Cylons were created by Man. Created to make life easier on the Twelve Colonies. They began as simple robots—toys for the amusement of the wealthy and the young—but it was not long before they became useful, and then indispensable, workers. As their sophistica- tion grew, the Cylons were used for the difficult and dangerous work that humans preferred to avoid: min- ing, heavy industry, deep space construction. And finally, perhaps inevitably, they were used for war. Not against enemies from without, but by human against human, as the Twelve Colonies found reason to wage war against one another. The Cylons were the greatest soldiers in the history of warfare. They were smart, fast, and deadly. Successive models had become increasingly independent, capable of making decisions without human orders. And they were utterly without conscience. Killing, to the Cylons, was simply one of the functions for which they had been superbly designed. In hindsight, perhaps it should not have been a sur- prise that the day would come when the Cylons de-xii prologue cided to kill their masters. And when that day came, the horror of war was unleashed upon all twelve of the Colonies of Man. For ten long and bloody years, hu- manity fought—not just for freedom, but for survival. The Twelve Colonies, facing a common, implacable foe, at last came together and joined as one. Many fought, and many died, in the effort to destroy the mechanized race that humanity itself had conceived and brought into being. There would be no victory. But through valiant fight- ing, and with the mobilization of every available re- source throughout the human sphere, the Cylons were gradually driven from the immediate part of space oc- cupied by humanity. In the end, an armistice was de- clared. Humanity would live in peace, while the Cylons left to find another world to call their own. Live and let live was the philosophy...if “live” was a term that could be applied to the existence of the robots. No one knew the location of the Cylon world. But to maintain the peace, a remote space station was built in the dark emptiness between the stars, to be a place where Cylon and human would meet and maintain diplomatic rela- tions. Once a year, every year, the Colonials sent an officer for the scheduled meeting. After the first year, the Cy- lons sent no one. No one had seen or heard from the Cylons in over forty years. That was about to change.PART ONE IT BEGINSCHAPTER 1 Armistice Station The diplomatic spaceship emerged from its Jump with a momentary flash of light. Its prior inertia carried it like a boat on a river toward its destination. The only propulsion required was braking thrust. The spidery space station hung silent in the dark- ness, billions of miles from the nearest inhabited world. A row of navigational marker lights winked along its vertical spine, barely illuminating its outline. The approaching spaceship, an ungainly white trans- port, pierced the darkness with tiny flares of its ma- neuvering jets as it slowed. Nearing the docking section, it rotated and pitched upward to align itself with the station. Practice made the intricate ballet of the docking maneuver seem casual; the pilots had per- formed it so many times it was an automatic move- ment, like a hand slipping into a glove. The thrusters brought the ship to a halt a hundred meters from the station. A telescoping passageway4 jeffrey a. carver emerged from the side of the station’s docking port and stretched out, crossing the gap with a single glid- ing movement. It drew up into place against the ship’s airlock, and with a series of thunks, the mag-locks made it fast. Another scheduled meeting was about to begin. In theory. The intercom crackled to life, and the pilot’s voice filled the departure lock. “Colonel Wakefield, we are docked. You may enter Armistice Station at your dis- cretion. If you need anything, we’ll be here. I hope you don’t get too lonely over there.” The colonel pressed the talk button on the inter- com. “Don’t worry about me, Captain. I’m used to it by now. I’ll be back soon enough, no doubt with noth- ing to show for it.” With the sigh of someone who had done this job many times already, he drew himself up straight and stepped to the airlock hatch. The latch mechanism stuck for a moment, then swung open, re- vealing the interior of the passageway. Picking up his briefcase, the colonel stepped across the threshold and began the long, deliberate walk down the passageway and into the station’s interior. There was an unavoidable grimness to the job, but he vowed not to give in to a sense of futility. If the Cy- lons did not show up—and he fully expected that they would not—he would not let that reflect on his own performance. His footsteps echoed in the silence of the station as he left the passageway and airlock and passed through the long corridor leading to the meeting chamber. He shivered a little, and wrinkled his nose at the musty smell of the place. There was dust in the air—the fil- ters must be in need of replacement—and a patina of grime everywhere. The maintenance robots must bebattlestar galactica 5 breaking down, he thought. They were Cylon-built ma- chines, of course—humans no longer had robots—but really, the wonder was that they still functioned at all. He doubted they’d been serviced since the station was built. What did that say about the endurance of the Cy- lon technology? The thought caused him a little shud- der, which he did not allow to the surface. Only once a year was there any official activity in the station. And that activity consisted of the colonel arriving, waiting three days for his Cylon counterpart to show up, and then leaving. Not once in the last thirty-nine years had a Cylon representative appeared, to meet with him or with any other member of the Colonial delegation. The colonel often wondered why they bothered. But he knew the reason: Even if the Cy- lons did not honor their commitment to the armistice terms, at least the Colonials were keeping up their end of the agreement. And how else could they maintain vigilance, since they did not even know in what direc- tion to look for the Cylon world, or even if it really ex- isted? The colonel came to the massive closed doors of the meeting chamber and pulled them open. The sound re- verberated in the room as the doors slammed closed behind him. He strode forward, heels clicking on the broad-tiled deck. The chamber was itself practically a hallway—long, widening slightly toward the center, with outward-canted walls and steel support beams arcing low across the room in closely spaced rows. It was a spare space, devoid of decoration or color, lit along the edges of the floor and by widely spaced ceil- ing lights. Its very shape seemed to suggest the meet- ing of adversaries: long, to permit ample time to view the approaching opposite, and barren, as if to deny any possibility of emotion or warmth. A narrow table stretched most of the way across the center of the room, a single chair on either side. The6 jeffrey a. carver Colonial flag hung at rest on its pole at the left end of the table; there was no flag for the Cylons. The colonel sat down in the chair and snapped open his briefcase. With efficient care, he removed two framed photos from the briefcase—one of his son, and one of his wife—and placed them at his left hand on the table. He gazed at them for a moment, allowing himself the reminder of home, of what he was here to protect— before firmly assuming again an attitude of detach- ment. Then he took out a sheaf of papers and began leafing through them: briefing documents on the Cy- lons, as they had last been seen, forty years ago. He knew the documents by heart, but he reviewed them nevertheless, with the steady weariness of someone who has done the same thing over and over, year after year, for a very long time. Nothing had changed, he thought, except him. A year older, a year closer to retirement, a year wearier of this charade. The Cylons would never come. For all he knew, for all anyone knew, they were extinct. Maybe they had turned on each other and annihilated their entire mechanical civilization. Wouldn’t that be justice. Or maybe they had set off across the galaxy in search of new realms to conquer. But how would the Colonials ever know? When the robots departed the star system forty years ago, they hadn’t left a forward- ing address. The colonel sighed and closed his eyes, resting his head against the seat back. It was silent here, but he was used to the silence. It was restful, in a way. Later, when the wait got to be too long, he would catch up on some reading. Or return to the transport ship for rest and relaxation. But for now, he would just sit here as a representative of his worlds, and soak in the solitude. It wasn’t long before he caught himself nodding off, and he drew himself up with a deep breath. It wouldn’t do to nap. He was on watch—even if he was here as abattlestar galactica 7 diplomat, and even if he passed the three days alone. He glanced at the photos of his wife and son, and then looked over the Cylon briefing sheets once more. After a few minutes more, he closed his eyes again. He jerked awake. Maybe he was getting old. It used to be he could stay alert on marathon watches with the best of them. He blinked and stretched his mouth in a yawn, shifted uncomfortably in the chair. Gradually, he closed his eyes once more. And began to dream of a place, more than a light-year behind him, where the sun streamed down onto a beach on Caprica, where he and his wife, both younger then, had played with their two-year-old son. That had been a happier time, per- haps the happiest of his life. That was before the stresses of parenthood, and those of the military and diplomatic life, had combined to take their toll. He loved his wife and his son, of course. But still, there were times in his dreams when... Boom. The colonel started awake again. What was that? He jerked up straight. The doors in front of him, at the Cylon end of the hall, were swinging open, split- ting to reveal a blaze of light. Sweet Lords of Kobol. It couldn’t be... The sounds of footsteps were soft, but unmistakably metal on tile. Two huge chrome robots marched in through the open doors, then stepped to either side as guards. Cylon Centurions. Modified, but clearly recog- nizable. The colonel blinked, every sense afire now. The robots raised their arms, which appeared to end with the barrels of built-in weapons; the weapons folded back suddenly, revealing long, talonlike fingers that flipped forward to form something like hands. The colonel stared at them, pulling momentarily at his collar before catching himself. The robots stood ut-8 jeffrey a. carver terly impassive. Each had a single crimson eye that slid back and forth across the angular brow, scanning, scanning. Something else was coming; the colonel could hear the footsteps. Another robot, he assumed. The two standing guard did not move an inch. The colonel licked his lips nervously, waiting. A shadow moved in the light, a figure coming to- ward him. Walking. Emerging from the light... It was a blonde woman, dressed in a crimson jacket and skirt, and elegant boots that came nearly to her knees. She was stunningly beautiful. She walked to- ward him with a precise, confident stride, one foot in front of the other. The closer she came, the more un- nervingly beautiful she looked. She exuded sensuality. Her hair fell in loose waves and curls to her shoulders; her figure was riveting, her eyes sharp and probing. He drew a hoarse breath, only half-believing what he was seeing. But what he was thinking was, A hostage of some kind. They’re releasing a hostage. But why? Why would they do that? And why now? The woman walked directly to the table, then came around the end, without a word. She leaned against the edge of the table, directly in front of him. Can’t get much more direct than that. She might as well have been in his lap. His heart began pounding. On her face was a hint of a smile, rather pensive. She cocked her head and listened, or perhaps was wait- ing for the colonel to say something. She leaned for- ward, bringing her face close to his. And she spoke the first words the colonel had heard since leaving his ship. In a low, sultry voice, she asked, “Are you alive?” The words went through him like electricity. He stammered, trying to reply, and finally managed, “Yes.” One hand on his shoulder now, she leaned closer still. He could feel her breath, warm and sweet on hisbattlestar galactica 9 face. So beautiful, so... Before he could complete the thought, she said, just a little more forcefully, “Prove it.” And then, in an exquisite torture of slow motion, she moved her hand to the back of his neck, drew him to her and kissed him. Kissed him. But why? His mind went utterly blank, then returned with an awareness only of this moment. There was a power in this kiss, almost a supernatural power, that made other thoughts and cares flee. Her lips were afire with pas- sion; they worked to discover the exact shape of his lips. Her breath was hot on him now. Lust, awakened from a deep slumber, began to flare to life in him. He returned the kiss now, answering passion with passion. Her grip tightened on the back of his neck. All thought of his mission fled, all thought of his wife.... In the deep, deep darkness surrounding the station and its docked spacecraft, another ship was moving. It was immense, and shaped something like two sea stars joined face to face, kissing, their arms twisted at odd angles. It was, unmistakably, a Cylon base star. Beside it, the Colonial ship and the station looked like tiny plastic toys. It was now moving away from the station, gaining a little distance—but not too much—before a single white point of light streaked out from some- where within it, and began to turn in a graceful curve around the extensions of the base star’s arms. Then the light whipped back inward, toward the little space sta- tion. As it struck the station, there was a blinding flash.... The colonel felt the deck shudder beneath him, as the kisses came more and more urgently. It was almost as10 jeffrey a. carver though she were trying to draw something out of him, some passion no human had ever touched before. Something terrible was happening—of that he was certain—but his mind was too fogged by her raw, com- manding sexuality to focus and comprehend. And not just her sexuality, but a feeling that she was touching him in some inexplicably deep way, drawing from him emotions he could never express. Another shudder shook the room harder than before, and he tried to break from her kiss. For a fraction of an instant she smiled, a bit sadly and sweetly perhaps, and with a probing gaze, murmured, “It has begun.” He struggled to pull free, but there was an inhuman strength in the hand pulling him back toward her lips. Her mouth met his again as the papers on the table be- gan to flutter and fly away. As she breathed in his mouth, he felt all the air rushing from the chamber. If he did not break free and get to a safe place, he would die. The third and final shudder jarred his senses, but only for an instant—before he, the woman, and the en- tire space station exploded in a ball of fire and hull- metal shrapnel. In the silence of deep space, there was no sound of the explosion. No human still living was close enough to see the flash of the fireball. And no warning signal was ever sent. Its single, simple mission concluded, the Cylon ship quickly moved away and vanished back into the dark- ness of the interstellar void.CHAPTER 2 Warship Galactica Thump, thump, thump, thump... The rhythm of the running footsteps echoed in the spaceship’s passage- way, a high, trapezoidal corridor lit by regularly spaced, vertical blue-white light tubes along the slanted support beams. The passageway was spotlessly clean, but well worn with use, and now, as always, full of people. Kara Thrace rounded a corner, jogged past a handful of crewmen coming the other way. Kara was an ath- letic, short-haired blonde woman in her late twenties, and a fighter pilot. She bore down on a knot of tourists gathered in the passageway ahead. She was already breathing hard, but that didn’t stop her from yelling, “Make a hole” That produced some startled looks from the visitors and their guide. They hastily backed to either side of the corridor and made a hole. Kara plunged through their midst and never looked back, though she shud-12 jeffrey a. carver dered a little at the tour guide’s voice, telling the peo- ple about the history of the Galactica, the sole remain- ing battlestar from the era of the Cylon War. “Originally twelve battlestars,” he said in a perfect mu- seum guide’s tone of voice, “each representing one of Kobol’s twelve colonies... Galactica represented Caprica...” Frak, Kara thought as she left the tourists behind. Wait until the ship is a museum, will you... Such thoughts were very much in Commander William Adama’s mind as he walked the ship’s corri- dors. He had a speech to give, and he still hadn’t quite worked out what he wanted to say. The Galactica’s stocky, craggy-faced commanding officer didn’t much like giving speeches under any circumstances— throughout his long years in the service, he’d managed to avoid that duty whenever possible—and he cer- tainly didn’t like to dwell on the reasons for this partic- ular speech. Nevertheless, it had to be done, and there was no getting around the fact that as Galactica’s final master, he was the one who had to do it. Glancing down at the paper in his hand as he walked, he tried once more, in his deep, husky voice. “Though the Cylon War is long over, let’s not forget the reasons why—” A voice from behind him interrupted. “Commander Adama, if I may” It was Captain Kelly, the Landing Signal Officer. This was the third time he’d been interrupted before getting through the opening paragraph of his speech, but Adama didn’t really mind. He glanced back as Kelly caught up with him. “Captain?” Kelly appeared to feel awkward now that he had his commander’s ear. “Well, sir, I...just want to say what a pleasure it’s been...serving with you, under your command, sir.”battlestar galactica 13 “Kelly.” Touched, Adama turned to shake the offi- cer’s hand. “It’s been my honor. Good luck in your next assignment.” Kelly was only the latest of many members of the crew to approach him with such senti- ments today. Adama felt touched by all of them. “Thank you, sir.” For a moment, Kelly looked as if he might have something more to say, but finally he just nodded and turned down a side corridor. Adama kept walking, trying to remember the open- ing line of his speech without looking down. Murmur- ing, he began, “The Cylon War is long over. Yet we must not forget...” Jogging footsteps behind him, coming alongside. “Morning, sir” called a familiar voice. “Good morning, Starbuck,” he answered, without looking up. “What do you hear?” “Nothing but the rain,” answered Kara Thrace, keeping pace beside him. “Then grab your gun and bring in the cat,” Adama said, completing the ritual exchange he and Kara had shared for as long as she’d been a pilot on his ship. Kara grinned and pointed a finger at him. “Boom boom boom,” she said, and accelerated ahead to finish her morning jog. Adama watched her with a smile as she disappeared around the bend. There went one of his top pilots, and one of the biggest hell-raisers on his ship. Practically a daughter to him. He shook his head and went back to rehearsing his speech. This time he made it to the fourth sentence before he looked up to see a trio of enlisted crewmembers from the hangar deck, a woman and two men mutter- ing to each other with some urgency. Adama just caught the words “...wrapped that yesterday,” and some under-the-breath curses, as Specialists Socinus and Prosna passed something behind their backs, while trying to look innocent. “Too late,” Adama said. “What’s up?” He wasn’t14 jeffrey a. carver worried; every commander should have such a reliable crew. The three crewmembers saluted. Socinus made the quickest recovery. “Nothing, sir, just another leak in that frakkin’ window.” The young man hesitated. “Par- don me, sir.” Prosna, hands still behind his back, added, “This is supposed to be a battlestar, not a museum. Sorry to say so, sir.” “I couldn’t agree more,” Adama said. “Be careful out there, all right?” Letting them keep their secret, he turned back toward his destination. As he neared the Combat Information Center, he tried one last time to rehearse his speech, but it was no use. Once he stepped into the CIC, there was no such thing as a private mo- ment. The CIC, located deep in the belly of the massive ship, was the battlestar’s nerve center. It was the center of both flight and combat operations—a huge, dimly lit room filled with consoles and overhead monitors, work counters and not enough seats to go around. Dur- ing normal operations, there could easily be thirty or forty crewmembers moving about here; today, there were maybe a dozen. You could feel the coming de- commissioning hanging in the air; it made Adama sad, but also proud to be here at the end. Greeted by the Officer of the Watch, Lieutenant Gaeta, Adama kept walking—casting a casual but per- ceptive eye over the various workstations as Gaeta briefed him from the stack of papers in his hands, printouts of the day’s comm traffic. This was the only battlestar in the fleet that still kept everything on paper, and that was exactly the way he wanted it. “Anything interesting?” Adama asked, looking up to scan the overhead monitors. Gaeta was young, efficient, and usually a good judge of what Adama was likely to consider interest-battlestar galactica 15 ing. Adama was going to miss him. “Mostly just housekeeping,” Gaeta said. “Though there is one sort of odd message we were copied on.” He handed Adama the printouts. “It’s the one from Fleet Head- quarters. The courier officer’s overdue coming back from Armistice Station, and they’re asking for a status report on all FTL-capable ships, just in case they need somebody to jump out there today and see if his ship is having mechanical problems.” Adama chuckled as he flipped through the printouts. “I think we’re a little busy today. Wouldn’t you say so, Lieutenant?” The watch officer grinned. “Yes, sir.” “I’m glad we agree,” Adama said wryly. He handed the stack of printouts back to Gaeta and prepared to walk on. Before he could take another step, though, Gaeta continued, “May I take this opportunity to say what a pleasure and honor it’s been to serve under you these past three years?” He gestured awkwardly, pushing the edges of the paper pile together. “It’s my honor, Lieutenant Gaeta,” Adama replied, saluting. Lords of Kobol, was everyone on the ship go- ing to say that to him today? Perhaps he had better get used to it. Turning, he glanced back at the piece of paper he’d been carrying for the last hour. To himself, he repeated softly, “The Cylon War is long over . . .” For Aaron Doral, the day had been a nonstop series of encounters with the news media and other VIPs newly arrived aboard Galactica—all of them here for the de- commissioning ceremony scheduled for tomorrow. For today, his role was to explain and extol. His role was to interest the press and to lay the groundwork for the tour guides who would indeed be giving this spiel once16 jeffrey a. carver the old crate was officially what it had been in reality for years now—a museum piece. But making the old seem fresh, and the ugly beautiful, was what Aaron Doral was good at. Aaron Doral was thirty-two, nattily dressed in a blue civilian suit, and a fast talker. Aaron Doral was a public relations man. As he strode through the ship’s passageways, lead- ing a cohort of media reporters and others lucky enough to have wangled passes, he spoke energetically about what the ship had meant to the Colonies through the years, and why she was the way she was. Doral was a hard man to impress, but even he felt twinges of pride in this ship that had served for nearly half a cen- tury, at one time the flagship of the fleet, and now the oldest of all the battlestars. Also, a flying anachro- nism... Doral gestured as he led the latest group through the public portion of the ship. “You’ll see things here that might look odd, even antiquated, to modern eyes,” he said, turning to face the knot of people following him. “You’ll see phones with cords, all kinds of manual valves in the most awkward places, computers that barely deserve the name.” After confirming that people were nodding in ac- knowledgment, he continued, “It was all designed to operate against an enemy who could infiltrate and dis- rupt even the most basic computer systems. Galactica is a reminder of a time when we were so frightened of our enemies that we looked backward to our past for protection. Backward to simpler computers, and away from the networking of the day, networking that at the time made us so terribly vulnerable to the Cylon threat. Of course”—he paused to gesture toward the CIC, which they would not be walking through— “modern battlestars resemble Galactica in only the most superficial ways.”battlestar galactica 17 Doral paused to say hello to an older gentleman with thinning gray hair—Colonel Tigh, the ship’s Ex- ecutive Officer—but he got only a pained scowl in re- turn as Tigh stalked past. Good God, the man looked hungover. Lucky he wasn’t going to be serving on board much longer. One thing Doral knew was that he wasn’t going to say anything about that to his audi- ence. No, smile and show respect to the old fossil, that was the way to keep this audience pleased with their tour. “Next,” he said, looking back over his shoulder again, “we’re going to walk down the port side of the ship to get a view of the real meat and potatoes of a battlestar—the hangar deck, where her real fighting force, the Vipers and Raptors, are serviced and kept ready for action at a moment’s notice....” The hangar deck was precisely where Commander Adama was headed at this moment, having completed his round of the CIC. The crew chief had asked him to come down to see something special. Adama stepped down off the ladder onto the hangar deck, to be greeted by Chief Petty Officer Galen Tyrol. The chief was obviously working to keep a sober face as he called all hands on deck to attention. Adama saluted and as quickly put the scattered crew members back at ease. “Morning, Chief. How are you, today?” Tyrol, a seasoned leader of the hangar maintenance crews and one of the most respected noncommis- sioned officers on the entire ship, wore an uncommon expression of eagerness and maybe a bit of nervous- ness. “Thank you for coming down, sir. We’ve been looking forward to showing you this.” “Well, so have I, Chief. Whatever it is,” Adama said.18 jeffrey a. carver He kept a dry expression on his face, but his curiosity was definitely piqued. “If you’ll just follow me, sir.” Tyrol led him around an array of machinery and spacecraft with mainte- nance panels propped open. A small crowd of enlisted deck hands accreted behind them as they proceeded. Tyrol brought Adama to a craft covered from nose to tail with a black tarp. It was clearly a Viper, the lines of the space fighter unmistakable under the covering. “What’s this, Chief?” A grin twitched at the corner of Tyrol’s mouth as he stood in front of the craft, waiting for the rest of the crew to crowd around. He seemed about to speak, then simply gestured to several of the deck hands, who hur- ried forward and swept the tarp smoothly off the con- cealed craft. Adama stared. It was an old-style Viper, a fighter from the days of the Cylon war. “Mark Two,” he said, in genuine wonder. “I haven’t seen one of these in about twenty years.” “If the commander will take a closer look...” Adama shot Tyrol a puzzled glance and stepped closer. Then he saw it—the name, stenciled on the hull, just below the lip of the cockpit canopy: lt. william adama “husker” He laughed. So that’s what they’d been up to, paint- ing his name and his old call sign on the vintage war- bird. But Tyrol was still talking: “. . . at the tail number, Nebula Seven-Two-Four- Two Constellation.” Adama’s mouth dropped open, as he read the regis- tration markings on the Viper’s tail. N7242C. They hadn’t just painted his name on any old warbird. “Oh my God. Where did you find her?”

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