Phoenix Rising - Part 1, Act 1
By C. Demetrius Morgan
Galactic Saga is set in the Battlestar Galactica universe and draws it's inspiration from, and attempts to meld it's continuity with, the story as outlined in the 1978 novel Battlestar Galactica, the original series, specifically the pilot Saga of A Star World. While much of what is presented herein is original material built upon an extrapolation and expansion of events hinted at in the aforementioned sources and some characters from the novel/series do make an appearance this is entirely an original work with new characters, situations, and story arc. However nothing that occurs herein breaks the established canon, though it may bend it a bit in places.
* * *
Aella: A young Socialator well-versed in colonial history; especially it's myths and legends.
Brackett: Engineering officer of the Phoenix, male.
Egg: Colonial Warrior, male; Ensign. Cousin of Niobe.
Calybe: Socialator Attendant.
Cassiopeia: Socialator Attendant.
Creusa: Phoenix steward.
Niobe: Colonial Warrior, female; Lieutenant.
Sestina: First officer of the Phoenix, female.
Talbot Chabrol: Roguish captain of the Phoenix, male.
Tychon: Colonial Warrior, male; Ensign.
PROLOGUE - CIMTAR
There was jubilation throughout the fleet now that they had reached Cimtar without incident. But not all fleet commanders were greeting this moment with jubilation. For Adama, elected to the Quorom of Twelve as representative of Caprica, Commander of the Battlestar Galactica, knew all too well that Galactica's sister ship, Pacifica, would never be returning home. Her battered hulk was being salvaged, discreetly, in the naval yards of Orion. Her loss had been a devastating blow following so closely on the heels of the disaster at Molecay. Adama could still remember the after action reports from survivors of the Battle of Molecay yet he could scarcely believe the Battlestar Pegasus and the 5th fleet were lost. How had it happened? There were probe craft reports of tantalizing signals, sensor ghosts, but not even Cain would be this long overdue.
'Perhaps if the 5th fleet had not been wiped out,'Adama stepped on that thought.
Adama's trained warrior's mind sensed something was off about the timing of this Armistice conference. Yet even with the public story of Pacifica's destruction and the ever increasingly difficult to squelch rumors about Cain, the near legendary Commander of the Pegasus, circulating throughout the colonies there was no denying the sense of hope and palpable need to believe. A thousand yahren was a long time for any species to be at war. Adama knew the colonies had become insular, many looking no further than the skies above their heads, but that was a social problem for others to deal with, thank the Lords of Kobol, besides he had more pressing matters to worry about.
"How does the uniform look?"
It was a ridiculous question. Then that was precisely how Adama felt wearing his full formal dress uniform.
"It looks fine, Adama."
Adama turned to look at colonel Tigh, the man who was more than just his second in command, this was a friend, a drinking buddy, someone whom he trusted to have his back when the fecal matter hit the turbine intakes. But then he'd said much the same about President Adar, once upon a time.
"Doesn't feel fine," Adama replied as he unconsciously touched the seal of the Lords of Kobol that hung around his neck.
"That's because you can't relax. I've told you time and time again. ."
Adama held up a hand, "Point taken, old friend."
A tone beeped from the desk nearby.
"Looks like you better get going. Don't want to keep the president waiting."
"No," Adama replied with a curious expression on his face, "that would never do. Would you com Athene for me and let her know I'm on my way?"
And with that Adama was out the door and on his way to meet with the other members of the Quorum for a pre-armistice dinner. Life, he reflected, was much simpler when he was just plain old Captain Adama. No worries about politics. No need to have special dress uniforms for such occasions as this preposterous dinner he must attend.
'But,' he reflected wryly,'soon this will be over and I can get back to Ila.'
# # # # #
From the Aella Chronicle:
(Being a Socialator's Commentary on the Rise and Fall of the 12 Worlds.)
The Twelve Worlds' (of Man), or the Colonies as their inhabitants less formally referred to them- even though they had been settled by humankind for millennia- were approaching their seventh millennium of existence. Yet it was not entirely a joyous occasion for the colonies had been at war with an alien menace, the Cylons, for over a thousand yahren. Yet a bright day beckoned. Through a merchant-trader named Baltar word came that the Cylons were seeking an Armistice. It was hoped that this would lead in time to a fuller peace between our two species.
So a convoy of vessels was assembled to meet with mankind's ancient enemy. Because this was a mission of peace and so many people throughout the 12 worlds had high hopes the armistice would ring in a new era the Star Kobol, a vessel that served with distinction and honor, one of the first Battlestar's ever constructed, was re-commissioned from mothballs and designated the official council ship of the Quorum where the armistice treaty would be signed. The Star Kobol had been there at the beginning of the war and she was to be there at the end of this terrible cycle of violence. We colonials were taken with such gestures, alas it was a gesture lost upon the impenetrable alien mind of Cylons.
Yet we would not have been who we are had we not tried. Alas it was a fool's hope, though we did not know it at the time. Had we known the Star Kobol might not have been shepherded by our five most modern Battlestars and their escorts. They say pride precedes the greatest falls, and perhaps it was our smugness and conceit in our own lofty power that doomed us. For the fleet assembled was designed to convey strength. Battlestars are imposing vessels with an array of deadly armament that only the most brazen of outlaw traffic would dare approach. Alas we forgot we were not dealing with simple smugglers or pirates, these were Cylons.
* * *
ACT I - GEMONI
Sunfall across Gemoni is a beautiful sight. The wave of light washes across the dark arc of the planet like a brilliant multi-colored curtain parting the darkness. So very similar, yet unlike, sunfall across Caprica. There's no cluster of high orbitals, no clutter of ships in parking orbits, it's a serene likeness of tranquility. Of course that serenity might have been shattered if the Gemonese realized that the transport Phoenix, now slowing to dock with the lone Colonial orbital port marring that otherwise picturesque view, was carrying a delegation of Socialators.
Talbot Chabrol took all this in with his usual quirky sense of the absurd. Then when he retired from the colonial marines, not by his choice but due to wounds received, he never in a million yahrens would have pictured himself as the captain of a cargo hauler, much less a luxury liner. Even a small luxury liner such as the Phoenix. Yet he'd been both. And he'd been in this job long enough to know that the young woman lost in thought by the portside view port was trouble. Not because of who she was, the Lords knew he would never hold that against anyone with such a cute ass. No Chabrol was worried she was too young to be fully aware of the intricate social dynamics about to be unleashed when he opened the airlock and the passengers from Gemon boarded. Besides he'd hate to see anything happen to that cute behind of hers.
Had Aella, the young woman at the view port, been aware of Talbot Chabrol's thoughts she may have laughed out loud. Despite being a "profession" sanctified by the elders for well over 4000 yahren Socialators, and their craft, were not universally respected, or even tolerated, throughout the colonies. In fact their very existence had become something of a political and religious point of contention amongst certain Gemenese; especially those of the Otori Sect. And if anyone knew the sorts of problems that might produce it was Aella. True, such fervor was usually fleeting, but with the rites associated with the Worship of the Sunstorm coinciding with the recent resurgence of fundamentalism backlash against Socialators amongst the more xenophobic was sure to be on the rise.
Aella shuddered. Conceptually it shouldn't bother her, she was an orphan after all and knew nothing of her birth world, yet she couldn't help but wonder; what if. What if she were Gemonese? She'd studied them and was both fascinated and appalled by their culture.
'Nevermind that the the ancient functions of certain High Priestess' was not dissimilar from that provided by modern Socialators,' she thought.
Then times change and, if she were to be honest, there was a time that Socialators were little better than the kept courtesans of the ancient legends. Not that anyone would confuse the two now, at least no one who could truly see. But then the first thing every socialator learned was that people often saw what they wanted to see, or expected to see, not always what was really there. The truly astute socialators learned how to discern the difference and play to those expectations, or exploit them, as the situation required.
"Cubit for your thoughts, Aella."
"What, oh, hello Calybe. Nothing."
Calybe exhaled in that way she had when something (or someone) annoyed her.
"Don't give me that. I know that look all too well. You're over thinking something again, aren't you?"
"No, well not really. I mean, even the Gemonese have to admit there's few more learned women in all the colonies, right? Yet that's also a fact used as fuel by the Otori sect to "prove" how unnatural the entire "business" is whenever they. ."
Laughing, "Is that all? You know better than most that's one argument that's never played very well with all Gemonese women, thank the Lords of Kobol."
"True, but it's bad enough that any think that. Doesn't it bother you Calybe?"
"What's to worry? There's room enough in the colonies for people to live their lives however they want, wherever they want, and to expect to be left to do so in privacy."
"But if they only knew how many yahrens we spend learning the histories of all the colonies, not just our birth worlds maybe. ."
'Some of us more than most,' Calybe thought.
"Aella," Calybe made a throwing away motion with her hand, "You worry too much. Try to remember we're on our way to Caprica to attend the most prestigious armistice celebration to be held in all the colonies. This is a joyful time."
"Yes, of course, you're right. I'll try."
Chuckling, "Good girl. Now then. ."
A familiar feminine voice shouted from the direction of the airlock.
Aella smiled, for if anyone should have been worried about the Gemons it was Cassiopeia, who knew first hand how trying the hectare ahead could be. Yet there she was, in full makeup and wearing the sort of dress that would be conservative in every other colony but most certainly was not on Gemoni. Which perhaps explained the looks on the passengers faces embarking Phoenix just behind her. Even the colonial warriors seemed a bit flustered, then one of them was female, which may explain the exaggerated affronted look the Gemons wore.
* * *
Creusa stood patiently by the hatchway. As steward he was responsible for greeting passengers and directing them to their quarters. Most people, if they thought about stewards at all, assumed they were merely ship's cooks. And while there were some sectares he'd rather have been working as a cook he knew that he was the face of the Phoenix, and that he must extend the hand of hospitality to her guests. No matter how tardy they were.
"Ah lady, sirs," Creusa held his hands out in way of gesturing a need for introductions.
"Ensign Tychon," a young warrior replied without any hint of being remotely aware they'd been holding up the Phoenix's departure.
"Ensign Egg," the shorter of the two men proclaimed proudly, "And this lovely lady is Niobe. That's Lieutenant Niobe," Egg intoned with a casual quirk of his brow as he leaned toward Creusa in a manner that wasn't quite menacing but insinuated that if anyone thought to address her with anything less than formal regard they'd answer to him.
Bowing formally, "Creusa, chief steward of the Phoenix. Sirs, Lieutenant, I must respectfully inform you that sidearms must normally be checked with me for the duration of the voyage. However, given the current situation, and the fact we're scheduled for a least time course for Caprica, the Captain has waived this restriction. So long as you agree to keep your sidearms with you at all times and holstered."
"That shouldn't be a problem," Niobe replied flashing a stern glance in the direction of the ensigns.
"Apologies for our late arrival bu-"
"Ma'am, please, no apologies are necessary." Creusa said with an affronted tone that wasn't as forced as it might have been.
"In that case," the Lieutenant said shooting a quelling glance toward the young warriors, "here's our boarding passes. I believe all is in order."
"Indeed. Shall we proceed to getting you all comfortably situated in your accommodations?"
Niobe turned to pick up her duffle only to see Egg hefting it already.
"All ready, ma'am."
Niobe turned a glaring eye on Egg, "I can hold my own, cousin."
"Never said you couldn't." Egg smiled ingratiatingly as Tychon looked everywhere but at his friend or Niobe.
"But there's holding your own and hefting your own, and you are senior officer and," Egg paused winking at Creusa, "how would it look if you carried your own duffle while in the company of two strapping junior officers such as ourselves."
There were times Niobe wished she wasn't Gemenese. But she knew better than to argue with her tenacious cousin.
"You'll make a fine warrior, someday."
"You really think so?"
Rolling her eyes, "Get to quarters!"
"Ma'am!" the ensigns said simultaneously sketching a salute and immediately withdrew laughing about the Lords knew what.
Turning to Creusa, "Make sure they get to where they are supposed to be, will you?"
"Of course ma'am," Creusa said with a tolerant smile that indicated he'd had to look after such recalcitrant youths many times in his career.
# # # # #
(To be continued in: Galactica Saga: Phoenix Rising - Part 1, Act 2)
Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan