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06 January 2012 @ 01:46 pm
In the Whole World: Chapter 2, "Control"  

“Control”
Chapter 2/13
Word Count: 2,963

Lee restrained his urge to bury his face in his hands, wishing he hadn't agreed to a private meeting with Hylene Fauvre at the end of an excruciatingly long quorum meeting.

"I understand your concern, Captain. I understood it the first eight times one of the captains brought it up this afternoon. So let me say one last time: when our Raptors return from scouting the surface of this planet, they'll bring full reports on the wildlife, climate, and current human populations of all of the major landmasses and we'll draw up recommendations for settlements based strictly on sustainability. There won't be a lottery. Anyone will be free to go where they want to."

Fauvre opened her mouth to insist, again, that colonists be allowed free choice, and he forestalled her. "I've made every promise I can, Hylene. Take my word or don't. I'll see you tomorrow."

Lee leaned his head against the wall behind him. Why had he chosen to hold quorum meetings in what had been the pilots' ready room? The explanation he'd given the ships' captains been that it was the only room on Galactica equipped with sufficient seating for the seventy-four members of the captains' quorum, and that Galactica was neutral territory now that three quarters of it had been decommissioned and zoned for scrapping.

But the truth was that he had chosen this room because it made him feel strangely hopeful, and more in control than he probably was. It was here where, as CAG, he'd presided over a hundred desperate briefings of people willing and well-trained to do their duties. Everything—the enemy, the mission, the objects of mourning—had been stark and clear, here.

Getting nostalgic for the old days already, Major? He felt the taste of algae rising up in the back of this throat, and with it, a hint of the scent of Dee's hair. He clenched his jaw. There was too much to mourn, now. He couldn't keep track of it.

"Not sure you should be making all of those promises, Apollo." Saul Tigh, with Gaius Baltar, Caprica Six, and a Two behind him, stepped into the recently emptied room.

Lee held his calm steadily, knowing this would be no courtesy call. The sight of the Two confirmed it; this was the one still calling himself Leoben Conoy, who'd been designated by the others as their leader, much as Caprica had become the de facto leader of the Sixes.

There was a slow riot that started in him, each time he saw Conoy. He didn't know what Kara thought of it, anymore—"purgatory" and "punishment" had been her preferred nouns in the months after it had happened—but the thought of the months she'd been at his mercy made his brain hot and his heart cold.

Steady, Lee. One problem at a time. So he ignored Saul's jibe and gestured toward the empty chairs in front of him. "Have a seat, Colonel. Doctor, madame… Conoy." He unscrewed the top of his canteen of water, tossed some back. "What can I do for you?"

"We've heard the ships' captains are talking about scattering across the surface of this planet," Caprica lowered herself elegantly into the chair Captain Fauvre had abandoned, not deigning to notice as Baltar tucked the chair in behind her. "You can't let that happen, Major—President Adama. It would be a disaster."

Tell me something I don't know.Lee schooled his expression to neutrality, a trick he'd picked up from Laura Roslin herself. For the thousandth time that day, he wished she were here to handle some of the burden. "I can't stop that from happening, actually." That was true enough. "Many of the other ships are wholly functional, and nearly all of them have retained at least a few ship-to-surface shuttles. They don't need my permission to use them to settle elsewhere. And they won't be asking for it for much longer." He met her gaze evenly, saw the fear there. He gentled his tone. "The coalition is fragile. I can't hold it together through sheer force of will."

"We're concerned about our viability." Caprica cleared her throat.

"Because all this has happened before and—"

"I get it." Lee had never had much patience for worn aphorisms.

"It's only that we—the Cylons—aren't intermingled very well with the rest of the fleet." The fear in Caprica's eyes tugged at him, reminded him of the stakes. "They don't accept us as easily as the people on Galactica have come to. Half of those who want to leave mainly want to escape living with us. You know they already forced Saul out of the military, out of fear." Lee's eyes darkened sea-blue, at that, but he only nodded. "This isn't a recipe for peace and stability. If they leave, they won't forget that they fear us, that they hate us." She exchanged a wordless glance with Conoy, who gestured at her to continue, as Gaius slipped a hand over hers under the table. "I'm telling you that they'll come back—in a year or in a generation, or in ten generations—and there'll be war. Against us and everyone with us, here. War again."

Lee nodded wearily, and saw her eyes flicker. Did it surprise her that he had already made that calculation? "I know," he said tiredly. "It took all my powers of persuasion to stop the Sagittarons from leaving on day one. Then the crew of the Thera Sita voted to move northward—toward a sea they saw in their satellite images—and only a supermajority vote of the quorum gave them pause. That was eleven days ago. Every day, now, there's a new motion to allow for the dissolution of the fleet, of the quorum, and of the colony here. Unless our scouting reports come back showing terrible prospects for the whole rest of the planet—which is highly doubtful—then I can't see how we'll stay whole through the end of the month."

And there's only so long I can keep radioing Helo and Sharon that they should delay returning with their reports.

Saul scowled. "Now, wait a minute, Lee. You can't tell me there's no way to hold together the coalition here."

"I cantell you that the last time we were all in diaspora—fleeing Kobol—it required no fewer than thirteen separate planets to maintain a fragile peace. As you all well know."

"That was no peace, Apollo, and if you took ten seconds to think through—"

"I know. I know. But there are no guarantees any way we go about this. The odds are that there will be another war one day."

Baltar's squint told him that the man of science wasn't convinced by Lee's reason. "And pray tell why you haven't asked your father to intervene in the fleet's decisions?" Gaius asked coolly.

Lee could see his own internal reaction plainly on Saul's face: a hard flinch. "My father is otherwise occupied."

Strange how quickly I've gotten used to saying that.

"We all have reasons to grieve, Major—excuse me, Mr. President." Something in Baltar's eyes told Lee that his misspeaking, unlike Caprica's, had been calculated to fluster. Lee shoved the tide of irritation welling up in him back down. "I would assume you'd agree, wouldn't you, that he shouldn't be allowed to wallow?"

Saul's eye on Lee said plainly: Don't rise to the bait, Apollo. Lee didn't. He kept his tone even. "He's had the weight of the human race on his shoulders for years. What he's dealing with… it's more than grief." It's the failure of inertia. The end of purpose.

"Surely it could be impressed on him that our total annihilation is still a very real possibility—"

"He can't be reached, Baltar, it's as simple as that," Saul cut in. "Bill Adama did the work of ten men to get us this far. We'll have to do the rest ourselves."

"Oh, very well, then, if you have any actual suggestions, Colonel, I'm sure we'd all be delighted to hear them?"

"Build something." Conoy cut in, his unnerving gaze never veering from Lee's face. "A capital city. Something that makes people feel connected to the place, to each other. Give them some sense of shared purpose, common identity."

"And is that your idea or Sarah Porter's?" Lee's eyes narrowed at Caprica's sharp question. So the alliance between the Twos and the Gemenese delegation is more than a rumor. What in the twelve colonies—what onEarth does this mean?

Conoy didn't falter. "I'm sure my Gemenese friends would agree that a new temple would be a fitting centerpiece for the capital," he said evenly. He turned his unsettling stare on Lee once again. "We even have a project leader in mind—someone the people can rally around, someone they trust." He smiled faintly, his eyes seeming to see something in a middle distant past. "Your friend Starbuck. Who brought us here to a new Earth and saved us all."

Lee's reply was swift and instinctive. "Absolutely not." Whatever his game is, he definitely isn't in it for Kara's sanity. She's too fragile for another round with him. He winced inwardly. Not that I'll be saying that to her face.

The Cylon replied as if he could hear Lee's thought. "We intend to approach Captain Thrace herself with our proposal." Conoy paused deliberately. "We also intend to approach her about a statue. For the altar."

"A… statue? Of what?"

Now the chill went straight to Lee's heart, because Leoben Conoy was smiling, slowly. "Of her, of course. Of the savior of humanity. Of our angel. Nothing could mean more to the people of the fleet."

"Are you… mad?" Lee breathed, his jaw dropping. "We don't build statues of living people, Conoy. It's offensive. Actually, it's sacrilege." He steadied his voice. "I would have thought your Gemenese friends would be particularly well acquainted with the chapter and verse."

"It was their idea, actually." Conoy cleared his throat. "Seeing as how Captain Thrace is not… quite alive, after all."

Gaius made a disgusted sound in the back of his throat. "Yes, well, as fascinating an ongoing theological discussion of Kara Thrace's mortality continues to be around the camp—I'm sure the discussions of the temple statuary will be particularly edifying—there are bigger problems, Major. Those of us who do settle here need to decide how we're managing the land and providing for the future."

"The quorum's working on it."

"And are they qualified?" Baltar leaned across the table, and Lee didn't miss Saul's defensive posture, arms over his chest. "There hasn't been the need for a homesteading act in twenty generations in the twelve colonies. Our lands were parceled out in the early days after the exile from Kobol. More to the point, no two colonies have ever had consensus on how land is to be owned and managed. Caprica allows corporate farms of unlimited size, while Canceron's farms are practically feudal, and Aerelon only outlawed sharecropping a generation ago."

Baltar's eyes were beginning to take on something of the zealous sheen Lee had grown accustomed to seeing in them. "I could go on, but the point is, we need to know before we plant: does the land belong to the state? To individuals? To families? To cooperatives? Who's in charge? What happens if we're attacked by the indigenous humans? What are our alternative plans in the event of famine? And those are just a few of the most pressing questions being asked each day on the commons."

"I keep telling him that we all work the land together. We grow enough, as a colony, to feed ourselves. Everyone helps." Saul's eye was steely over his set jaw. "We sink or swim together."

"And Ikeep telling the Colonel that his idea, in practice, is precisely the definition of a dictatorship, as it can only be realized through force. If everyone's working the land, who will build machines? Who will uphold the law? Who will hunt and fish? And how do we choose which jobs fall to whom? If they stay put, of course." Lee was sure Gaius considered his skeptical eyebrow raise a delicate, even polite, gesture, but it made his fingers inch to become fists. Steady. Steady, steady.

"Spit it out."

"The survivors of the twelve colonies are not farmers. By and large, they've lived white collar lives. Someone will have to lead, and someone else, enforce, if they're going to be told what work they must do, day after day. And I'm not sure how that system fits into the spirit of your supposed democracy." Baltar cleared his throat. "Mr. President," he added belatedly.

Saul harrumphed at that. "Ask him what else he wants," he grunted.

Now Lee cocked his own eyebrow. At least the quorum pretends at negotiating. "Yes?"

Gaius glared briefly at Saul, then shrugged. "Yes. Well. With regard to our location. While I quite agree with my… lady colleague," he nodded to Caprica, whose pressed lips colored her unimpressed at the descriptor, "that the fleet should on no account split up, I'm not entirely convinced that we've chosen the best possible location for, well, frankly, for our survival. The soil isn't ideal, and all accounts are that the rainy season here borders on monsoon weather. We're almost sixty miles from the ocean, which would be disastrous should we need to depend on fishing. And—"

"Don't bother, I've told him already." Saul shot a disgusted look at Lee. "The fleet is going to split up. And when the next war comes, this is the best defensive position in five hundred miles."

"Happy to see that you're not letting your decommissioning get in the way of planning our next war, how charming—"

"We're not leaving." This time it was Conoy interrupting.

Saul narrowed his eyes at the man, obviously not liking that Conoy was the one who'd come to his aid. "What made you, of all people, see sense?"

"I don't see sense. I see divine plans." Conoy's shoulders were squared and comfortable. "That song, the one you Five remembered, the one Kara used to land us here—it set Galactica right here." Lee clenched his teeth at the Two's casual use of Kara's name, but he held his peace. "So exact a calculation—to land directly on the surface of a planet—defies any odds, any amount of calculating, all of our science. We are intended to be here. Here we stay." He looked at Gaius. "You can leave, but we Twos—and our Gemenese friends—will remain right here."

Caprica looked troubled, but when Gaius moved to bite back a reply, she placed a quelling hand on his arm.

"In sum, those are the concerns we all share, Lee." Her tone was earnest and calculatedly soothing. "That we stay together. How we do it. And where we do it."

He noticed that she'd dropped his supposed title altogether. And no wonder, with how bleak my prospects as a leader areNot to mention the little matter of how I was never elected.Lee would be more upset with Gaius's ham-fisted taunts about democracy if he didn't share the man's reservations about his own quasi-legal leaned forward aggressively, belying the conciliation in his words: "We've come to you for advice at how to manage these problems, Apollo. So what do you recommend we should do?"

"Write up a list of your questions and you can submit them yourself, with whatever solutions you propose, at the quorum meeting tomorrow afternoon." Lee shrugged. His irritation was abating. He was sick of this now, and in the wake of the anger, there were just nerves. "At the very least it will give everyone something new to argue about. Maybe distract them from leaving for a few more days. If you'll all excuse me, I'm hitting my rack."

He'd get a few hours of restless sleep before he got up to scan more of the reports that continually flowed onto his desk, to try to stay a step ahead of the coming brawls on the quorum floor.

"Your rack?" Gaius's brow shot up. "You're not still living in Galactica, now that we've landed on Earth, are you?"

Lee stilled. No one had confronted him about it yet, although he knew it was a matter of some curiosity. How can I tell them what I keep thinking—that if I leave Galactica, I'll just keep going? I wasn't holding out hope for Earth. Everything I was hoping for is already gone. Galactica's the only home I have left.

He thought of Kara, as she'd been the last time he'd seen her—maintaining her morning vigil at Sam's side, clutching his hand in hers, her forehead pressed to his temple, whispering something in his ear. His mind had flickered, remembering coming back to Zak's grave the afternoon they'd buried him to find her kneeling there, her head on the ground.

He'd walked away then, too.

You want to talk about seeing patterns, Conoy, he thought. I could tell you something about me, and jealousy, and dead men.

He looked up now, saw that the Two was watching him thoughtfully. "You should come outside, Lee. It's a beautiful world out there that she found for us." Conoy's tone was loaded with meaning Lee didn't entirely understand. But at those words, something sunken deep in his chest, which had been quietly shuddering, crystalized and emerged.

Ignoring Leoben, Lee turned to Gaius Baltar. "No. I'm not living here. I'm just looking for decent accommodations."

"A good tent is hard to find," Gaius humored him. "Now, since we're talking of delaying the dispersion of the fleet, would you allow me to suggest the possibility of an electoral campaign…?"

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