Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Galactica Saga: Phoenix Rising - Part 1, Act 2

Galactica Saga

Phoenix Rising - Part 1, Act 2

By C. Demetrius Morgan

From the Aella Chronicle:

The location of the star system from which our ancestors emigrated has long since been lost to the mists of time and the obscuring fog of myth. And what is known of that distant mother world? A single word ran through the legends of the 12 Worlds and that word was: Kobol.

The Lords of Kobol, for lords they were, true masters of the sciences and their world, had spread out amongst the stars seeding many worlds. Yet, being merely human, and possessed of mortal frailties and faults they, too, over the course of time saw themselves grow decadent. Some say they foolishly attempted to harness powers man was not meant to possess. Others say that while the Lords of Kobol were still at the height of their power a discontent spread through them, a wanderlust, and that a great emigration began. Whatever the truth the facts, as best anyone can know them, are that the 12 Colonies were established and settled by the last of the great "tribes" to emigrate from that distant mother world.

Yet what will our descendants say of the colonies? Will they even remember the 12 Worlds? The Cylon tyranny? Perhaps our story will become fragments of myth and legend about a distant time and space, much as has happened with the memory of Kobol.

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The Phoenix, having taken aboard a number of passengers, including a Socialator and Colonial Warriors, at least one of which is a Gemonese female, begins it's disembarkation sequence as Sestina, the Phoenix's first officer, sat at her console plotting a course to break orbit and engage cruising speed to Caprica. Nor was the crew of the Phoenix alone in wanting to get out of Gemonese space as quickly as possible.

* * *

"Welcome aboard the Phoenix, lords and ladies," a voice spoke from the intercom, "This is your captain speaking, Talbot Chabrol, we're fueled and ready to go. Refreshments will be available for the next centare. So sit back and enjoy the stars for our next stop is the Inner Planets and peace!"

Niobe listened to the announcement with maudlin concern. Throughout the colonies everyone was hoping for peace. Yet their expectations ran far deeper than that. She'd already had a discomfiting encounter with a small group of passengers on her way to her cabin that eyed her uniform and sidearm with something approaching disdain. Nor was it entirely because of the Armistice. Warriors were ever increasingly viewed as aloof guardians of a antiquated social structure of an bygone age thanks to that pudgy merchant-prince Baltar, whose rise to prominence in the councils of the colonies was almost as meteoric as certain ensigns penchant for getting into-

"Trouble," Niobe muttered as she marched out the door.

Not for the first time since she'd been put in charge of cadet training Niobe wondered if her life wouldn't have been far simpler if she'd become a fire juggler. At least then she'd only have to worry about hot headed young males once every seven years.

* * *

Egg and Tychon barely took notice of the announcement as they hastily dumped their baggage in their compartments and made a bee line for the lounge, where they hoped to find more than just refreshments.

"Did you see that lovely brunette?"

"Easy, Ty, we're supposed to keep out of trouble, remember?"

"Oh, she's the kind of trouble I wouldn't mind getting into."

"Don't you ever think of anything else?"

"What's there to think about! Everyone's celebrating life, what with the armistice, and we are representing Gemini after all. How can we not share in that sense of jubilation?"

"Because it'll take more than fancy flying and fast talking to keep us out of the brig, this time, that's why you reprobate."

Laughing, "C'mon, I think the lounge is this way."

* * *

On the bridge Talbot smiled, knowing full well how his informal greeting and use of his full name would rattle some. Then he'd never much cared for the stodgy caste formalities. It wasn't his fault certain colonies developed cultures in which the use of any but proper familial names was considered impolitic. Besides he'd had enough of formalities when in colonial service.

"Well this ought to be an interesting cruise, too bad it's going to be a short one"

"If you say so captain."

"Where is your sense of adventure Sestina? Your spirit of. ."

"My desire to see men act like borays?"

"Why whatever do you mean!"

"Captain, I know as well as you who we have aboard. And while under different circumstance it might be amusing, entertaining even, to see what sort of mischief our mix of passengers gets up to right now all I care about is getting to Caprica and enjoying an extended leisuron of armistice celebrations."

"Fair point. Well then what are you waiting for Ms. Navigator? Plot a course and get us out of here!"

"Course set and getting us out of here, aye!"

"You know it didn't always used to be this way."

Sestina rolled her eyes. She hated it when Chabrol got into one of his waxing nostalgic moods.

"Did you ever hear about Dzihuth?"

"Odd name. Was he one of the colonial warriors you worked with when you were a marine?"

Laughing, "Goodness me, no. I'm old but not quite that old. Besides Dzihuth wasn’t a person, it was a ship. One of the last deep star exploration vessels. A great, great, great uncle or something of mine many times removed was attached to the project, I forget how. All this recent talk about an armistice got me to remembering about that bit of my illustrious family history."

"Oh," Sestina replied noncommittally, "so is that what you're hoping to do once the war is over. Pick up where your great, great many times removed ancestor left off?"

"That's not what I meant at all. You see the Dzihuth was launched, well, I forget when exactly but it was during a period of decreased tension early on during the thousand yahren war. We still didn't know much about the Cylons back then, thought we could peacefully coexist. But the lesson the Colonies learned seems to have been lost and forgotten, like the Dzihuth.

"Did you know we had just begun opening new frontiers and were establishing outposts before the outbreak of the thousand yahren war? Most colonials have become so insulated they don't see anything beyond the sky above their heads. They forget that, once, we were spreading out into other star systems when, wham, the Cylons came at us like rogue asteroids."

"Sorry to interrupt sir," Sestina said as she double checked the readings on her console, "We're well on our way now. ETA to Delos and Caprica 3 centare 28 centons, taking the quickest route possible at full cruise. There's a lot of traffic out there today."

"Still sounds like we should make our schedule."

"Depends on the traffic. I've plotted almost a straight line course but we'll need to keep a constant eye on the vectors of some of the smaller ships out there."


* * *

Meanwhile, in the observation deck lounge, Cassiopeia, a statuesque woman nearly as tall as most warriors, was wearing a smile of childlike glee as she stood, arms outstretched, and spun in a circle, "See how the color shifts subtly in the weave?"

"It's lovely," Aella commented.

"Orion silk, isn't it?" Calybe observed with a twinkle in her eye.

Aella's eyes widened, "Must have cost a small fortune."

Cassiopeia turned to Aella, "Now, now young lady what did you learn about discussing affluence. Remember your protocol lessons and mind your etiquette."

Blushing, "Sorry Cassiopeia, it was an importunate remark."

"Yes it was," she replied with mock sternness then smiled, "but you're right this marvelously flimsy dress is probably worth my weight in cubits!"

And it was flimsy, for Orion silk was sheer as gossamer, yet when fashioned by a master tailor it was a tantalizing sight to behold for it hid as much as it potentially revealed.

"So what's the occasion?" Calybe probed.

* * *

"See, I told you this was the way to the lounge."

"So you did. Wow, would you look at that!" Egg said in a hushed whisper pointing to the twirling woman across the room.

"She's a beauty, but blondes aren't-"

"No, not her, well I do mean her, but rather what's she's wearing."

Blinking in confusion, "It is nice but I'm afraid you've lost me."

"I swear that's the same dress they had at the dress maker's Niobe got her new uniform at. I teased her about getting something like that for herself, she elbowed me so hard I thought for sure she'd broken a rib."

Whistling, "Means cubits. Your sister never was one to skimp on clothiers Which reminds me, you still own me from-."

"They've noticed us, quick, let's move over to the bar before they get the wrong idea."

"And what's wrong with that?" Tychon replied with a leering smile.

* * *

A warning chime from the navigation station drew Sestina's attention away from the screen where she'd been monitoring Lyra's Armistice broadcast.

"Captain, looks like one of those craft you wanted us to keep an eye out for is almost directly in our path."

Talbot quirked an eyebrow, "We're barely 47 centons out, it's probably just a sky-bus full of people celebrating. Better warn them they've wandered off the regular route before they get lost out here."

"It's too big to be a sky-bus. Not getting a clear transponder signal and the guidebook is having trouble identifying the vessel."

"Give me a visual."

"Coming up, now-"

"Frak. That thing looks ancient. What's the guidebook's best tentative ID?"

"That's the interesting part. The guidebook gives a 20% chance it's an 5th millennium Orion freighter, a 20% change it's a old Colonial livestock transport, and a 10% chance it's a converted Cylon tanker."

"Not a lot of help there," Talbot replied as he glanced intently at the visual on screen.

"Well it's not a tanker, the engine configuration is all wrong, and that ship was built by someone with a sense of aesthetics, which rules out the Cylons. Almost looks Delphian."

"Delphian?" Sestina replied incredulously.

"There's a symmetry to her that looks like something from-"

A second chime from the navigational console drew their attention.

"About time," Sestina injected testily, "Captain we have an clear transponder signal, says she's the Demeter."

* * *

(To be continued in: Galactica Saga: Phoenix Rising - Part 1, Act 3)

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Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

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