Issue #6: Learning the Lingo
“Mister Zachariah, that was an impressive display of… what are you doing with that drone?”
Rodney turned from where he was manhandling the intact robot onto the summoning circle. A somewhat familiar and statuesque blonde in white and grey was standing next to him. Having met her on previous occasions, Rodney was vaguely aware that she and her husband were big clients of his company’s services. Unfortunately, Rodney couldn’t recall her name at the moment, so he fell back on the well practiced habit of never using anyone’s names. That always worked well until someone asked him, “Who was that?”
“Oh, uh, I’m taking this thing home to tinker with,” Rodney replied.
“Why would you want to do that?” the woman asked. “It’s just a cheap drone like any other, and not a very well designed one to boot.”
“It’s got some interesting features,” Rodney old her with a shrug.
“Hmm, you know that my husband’s company owns the contract for this dig?” the woman continued. “That means that everything recovered here belongs to him and by extension, me?”
“Huh, really?” Rodney said. He shrugged. “Okay, then just mark this thing off as our fee.”
“Your whole fee?” the woman said, seemingly surprised.
“Sure, why not?” Rodney continued. “Just talk to Eve about the details. She usually handles all the business and finance stuff anyway.”
“Oh, I do believe I will,” the woman said with a wide smile. Gosh she was pretty. Too bad she was already married. What was her name again?Cradle of the Gods
Issue #6: Learning the Lingo
Lee Adama sat on a rock. Well, actually, the rock was a moldering, ancient stone pillar knocked on its side. Opposite him sat the woman who looked a little bit like Boomer. She had simply pointed at herself and said “Eve”. Lee assumed that was her name. Having pulled his gun on her, Lee had expected at the very least a rigorous interrogation. Instead, they sat staring at each other for the last five minutes.
They were alone, in as much that they sat out under the open sky in full view of everyone. Chief Tyrol and the marines had been more or less dismissed, sent off to join the rest of the Colonials by the grounded Raptors. The man who had held the sword to Lee’s throat was nowhere to be seen; but then again, Lee hadn’t seen him come or go. For all Lee knew, the swordsman was completely invisible and standing right next to him.
That left Eve, who was not saying a single word and staring at him with an armor piercing stare. It was unnerving.
“Look, uh, I’m sorry about the gun,” Lee said finally. “It’s just that you look a lot like a Cylon I know.”
Eve just continued to stare at him.
“So who are you guys?” Lee asked. “You’re not really Cylons, are you?”
Eve just continued to stare at him.
“Look, do you talk at all?” That was a silly question of course. Eve had already given a few short, sharp commands to the swordsman earlier. The problem was that Lee had no idea what she had said.
“Quiet!” Eve replied. The single word was spoken sharply, rather a lot like Lee’s primary school teacher.***
“The Chief’s not a Cylon!” Cally protested desperately. “He can’t be a Cylon!”
“You weren’t there,” Racetrack argued. “You didn’t see Boomer just up and shoot the Old Man out of the blue. And everyone knows that Boomer and the Chief were involved…”
“That just means the Chief was tricked,” Cally insisted. “Cylons do that, you know. Doc, tell them that.”
“Actually, I think we need to be a bit cautious here…” Baltar began.
“Why don’t we ask the gods?” Seelix interjected.
“I’m sorry, what?” Baltar said, thrown by the interruption. “What gods? If I recall correctly, the gods aren’t in the habit of answering prayers with straight up, unambiguous answers.”
“Well, there’s Zeus right over there,” Seelix said, pointing at the young man that had been throwing around lightning earlier. He looked singularly unremarkable if you ignored the fact that you could see his eyes glowing even from by the Raptors.
“Zeus?” Racetrack said surprised. “What makes you think he’s Zeus?”
“This is Kobol, home of the Gods, right?” Seelix said. “Well, there’s a guy over there that wields lightning and protected us… most of us anyway, from the Cylons. He also arrived in the middle of the battle through the Altar of the Gods. Ergo, he must be Zeus.”
“Okay, he’s not Zeus,” Baltar said. “He’s… he’s just a human,” he paused, as if listening to something only he could hear. “Yes, he’s a human being with… a few tricks… and abilities that we… we haven’t seen before. Yes, that’s it.”
“You just made that up just now,” Seelix said accusingly.
“That doesn’t invalidate my argument,” Baltar replied.
“Well, if he is Zeus,” Cally mused aloud, “then he could tell us if the Chief is a Cylon or not, right? I say we go ask him.”
“Oh, come on,” Baltar said, exasperated. “He’s not Zeus!”
“I dunno,” Racetrack said thoughtfully. “That woman he’s talking to managed to fly without any apparent means of lifting off. If these guys aren’t gods, I don’t think they’re human either. If they’re human, then…“ Racetrack paused as she groped for the most outrageous analogy she could think of, “then Colonel Tigh is a Cylon too.”***“Cylon! Hold it right there!”
He was called “Lee”, “Apollo”, or “Captain Adama”. He was military, a pilot pressed into other duties. He was a hero, a mutineer, a brother, a faithful and disobedient son. But for Eve Shields, the most important thing right now was that he was a Leader, the one the other visitors would most unambiguously listen too and take orders from.
That was why Eve had singled him out.“What are you doing?” demanded a bald man in uniform as Lee held a gun to his head.
Obsessed with measuring things and classifying them, humans had naturally attempted to create ways to measure supers against one another. The most popular one was the American standard scale which basically measured a super by his or her firepower. In Eve’s opinion, the scale was seriously deficient because there were so many ways to measure power other than sheer destructiveness. Eve was a mere Gamma on that scale, but within her specialty, no other super could match her.“Galactica, Apollo,” Lee called as the fireball blossomed on the asteroid behind his fleeing Viper. “Mission… accomplished! Tell Baltar that he was right on the money!”
Back before Eve had been born, there had been a scare when everyone thought supers were some new evolving master race. Back then, supers had been classified by “Origin”. On the bad guy side had been the Mutants, those born with powers; back then, Eve would have fallen into this category. On humanity’s side were the Accidents and Artificials, the ones who got powers through Science. But science had marched on and shown that not only did all powers stem from the same, mysterious source, it also proved that there was no genetic difference between “normal” humans and supers of any origin. In fact, a majority of the population were actually latent supers, most of whom never manifested powers at all.
Eve disagreed. Her own power told her that most so-called latents did manifest powers. But their abilities were so weak and subtle that most people never realized that they had powers at all.“I think she’s wrong,” Lee was saying. “I think we have had time to deal with Zak’s death.”
“I haven’t,” replied the older man he had been walking beside.
Then there was the third scale. It measured a super not by fire power or origin, but by what he could actually do. It still wasn’t perfect, but Eve regarded it as the best one. Of course, it helped that Eve’s company’s entire business revolved around matching a super’s powers to the jobs they were most suited for.
Some supers like Rodney or Karen Anderson, got their high degree of firepower through severe specialization: Rodney controlled electrons and only electrons; Mrs. Anderson shaped inertial forces with all the subtlety of a baseball bat.
By contrast, Eve was a generalist, her strength divided up among numerous psionic abilities. She had telekinesis; but while Eve could levitate, she couldn’t throw a telekinetic punch more powerful than a human could kick. Her telepathy was a joke, barely adequate to read surface thoughts, and only if the thoughts were in a language she already understood.“Lee, your father didn’t get Zak killed,” said the woman sitting in a Viper’s cockpit. “I did.”
No, that wasn’t quite true. Eve did have a specialized power. She was the most powerful psychometrist that she knew of. A psychometrist was a super who could take an object and read bits and pieces of its past history. But where as most psychometrists needed physical contact and concentration to use their power, Eve didn’t. Eve could glean far more detailed historical information about a person or object merely by looking. Not only that, she could almost instinctively put the raw data together into a coherent picture and draw conclusive information from it.“Adama is it? Son of William Adama? Well lookee here, boys and girls, we got ourselves one high and mighty nugget here. You probably think you’re the son of Zeus, don’t you, Nugget?”
“No, sir…” Lee began, but was cut off.
“Yeah, son of Zeus. Okay, nugget, your call sign from now on is ‘Apollo’…”
So here Eve was, trying to learn a foreign language from a guy who apparently had never been around English speakers before. For that matter, as Eve probed his past, he had never even been to Earth. Lee Adama’s past was filled with conversations in gibberish, text in incomprehensible lettering, and customs that were at once familiar and alien.
But there was a way around that. Eve just had to probe very, very far back.“Gamma is for Galactica. Can you say Galactica, Lee?”
“Galaga!” repeated the very young and very little Lee Adama.
Ah, this looked about right.***
“I’m going to go ask Zeus to give us his wisdom,” Cally decided aloud.
“What? You don’t even know if he can understand you,” Baltar replied. “We haven’t been able to understand anyone here. I think their dialect’s drifted a lot in the past two thousand years. Oh, and that’s not Zeus.”
“It is Zeus,” Seelix insisted. “And it’s more likely that our dialect has drifted more than his.”
“And even if he’s not Zeus, he’s got to be a god of some sort, right?” Cally said thoughtfully. “Therefore, he should be able to understand me regardless of how much our dialect has drifted. He’ll understand us.”
“You’re making some rather unwarranted assumptions here…” Baltar began.
“Okay, let me stop this right now,” Racetrack interrupted. “No one is going anywhere or talking to anyone not a Colonial. No offense Cally, but god or not, I really don’t want to risk provoking a guy who can swat Cylon Raiders out of the sky like he did.”
“No buts, Cally,” Racetrack said firmly. “When Apollo… er, Captain Adama gets back, we’ll put the question to him. He’ll decide what to do.” She looked over to where Adama was sitting. He must be in deep conversation with that woman; he almost certainly wouldn’t just be sitting there doing nothing all this time.***
“Captain Lee Adama, callsign Apollo,” Eve said finally. “Welcome to Kobol.”
“Er, thanks,” Lee said cautiously. Her accent was horrible and barely understandable, but at least she was speaking.
“You’re here to rescue your people who had been shot down by your enemies, the Cylons,” Eve continued. Even as she spoke, her accent improved noticeably. “Also, you think that one of these people you’re here to ‘rescue’ is in fact one of these Cylons despite possessing no evidence supporting a conclusion based on paranoia, grief, anger, and an emotional need for revenge.”
“Er, yes,” Lee said lamely. What else could he say? Wait; there was something he could say. “Who are you people and how do you know so much about us? Are you Cylons?”
“Well, in reverse order,” Eve said, now looking a bit embarrassed. “No. How I know so much about you is my little trade secret. As for who we are, we’re people from the place you guys are trying to find: Earth.”
“You’re from the Thirteenth Colony?” Lee asked in surprise.
“No, we’re from Earth,” Eve corrected. “Although there are other worlds that call themselves ‘Earth’ – the one with the cat people and the mummy with delusions of grandeur come to mind – the Earth I’m from has never been anyone’s colony so far as I know. The Earth your people are looking for might not be our Earth.”
“Oh.” Lee turned that over in his mind. The explanation made no sense to him at all. Cat people? “Look, if you really are from Earth, my people need help. We’re on the run. We need refuge. Can you help us?”
“What? Why not?”
“For one, I have no authority to be giving your people asylum or anything,” Eve told him. “And on the flip side, you have no authority to be asking it either even if your little fleet wasn’t going through a military coup.” She beamed at Lee. “But, hey, I’ll put in a good word for you.”***
“What’s the word, sir?” Racetrack asked as Captain Adama rejoined the Colonials.
“These people are… strange,” Adama replied. He shook his head. “I’ll tell you about it on the way back to Galactica.”
“That’s one way to put it,” Six commented with a laugh.
“We can’t leave yet, sir,” Cally interrupted. “We have to get Zeus to verify the Chief’s innocence!”
“Zeus?” Adama replied, confused. “What Zeus? Who’s Zeus?”
“Y’know, sir, Zeus the Lord of Kobol,” Seelix added. She pointed. “He’s right over there.”
“Look, they’re not gods,” Baltar repeated with exasperation.
“That’s right, Gaius,” Six said encouragingly. “Show them how false their gods are.”
“Gods, huh?” Adama said thoughtfully. “That… would explain a lot, actually.”
“So we can get one of them to verify that the Chief’s not a Cylon, right sir?” Cally asked.
“Hmm, I think we’ll ask them that later,” Adama said slowly. “I’m not sure we should bother them with this. I’ve already asked them to give the Fleet refuge.”
“They don’t deserve refuge,” Six scoffed. “All of you are sinners deserving of punishment.”
“What did they say about it?” Baltar asked, ignoring her.
“They’ll think it over,” Adama replied. “I’d just as soon not aggravate them with trivia.”
“The Chief is not trivia!” Cally objected.***
“Miss Shields, welcome back,” Karen greeted as Eve Shields joined them. Eve was rubbing the bridge of her nose and barely looking where she was going. “Are you all right?”
“Ugh, learning a whole new language under an hour isn’t what I call relaxing,” Eve replied. She looked up. “These people are sorely in need of help and…” She trailed off as her eyes locked on Karen’s. They widened in shock, then whipped over to her partner. ”Rodney! What did you do?”
“Huh? What?” Rodney said, startled.
“You… you took a stupid drone as payment?!” Eve sputtered. “Our entire
payment? What the hell were you thinking?”
“What’s wrong with that?” Rodney said defensively. “I am your partner, you know.”
“Right, and you have no idea how much you just screwed us over!”
Karen settled back to watch the ensueing fireworks, quite thoroughly amused. She could afford to be, after all.***
“Okay, that doesn’t look good,” Lee observed as the distant argument broke out between Eve and “Zeus”.
“I’m guessing this means no refuge?” Baltar asked.
“Given how much firepower these guys can throw around, I don’t think we want to stick around to find out,” Lee concluded. He raised his voice. “Everyone in the Raptors now! We’re lifting off, ASAP!”