Summary: Politics is sometimes the art of the oblivious.
Characters: The Quorum of Twelve, Tom Zarek
Beta Thanks: mascaret
Title, Author and URL of original story: Hubris, or the Downfall of Helena Cain by wyrdwritere at http://wyrdwritere.livejournal.com/3680.html
Author Notes: Hubris by wyrdwritere is a long and wonderfully plotted story of underhanded struggles for power in an AU where Cain was not killed at the end of the Pegasus arc. It is a thrilling read and it was a pleasure to remix.
Back home -- on Canceron, in Wobassi Province, the city of Mangala -- I served two terms on the local school board. Mangala is -- was -- a large city, and the school budget was millions of cubits a year. The amount was really unimaginable to us mamas and papas on the board.
I remember one meeting that went long into the night, a meeting that led to yelling and fist-pounding and name-calling. What about? About chartreuse, puce and ochre crayons. Yea or nay: To spend two-hundred additional cubits a year in order to provide all of our elementary school children with twenty-four colors rather than fifteen. With all the issues before the board -- teachers, buildings, administrators, student achievement, curriculum -- we fought about mauve.
As we say -- said -- on Canceron, sometimes it is easy to miss seeing the ocean because of all that water in the way.
How I miss the oceans.
The school board was my only experience with politics before the end of the world and my absurd elevation to the Quorum of Twelve.
Zarek is talking.
Or maybe still.
I imagine him at a Canceron school board meeting, smiling his oily smile, "There will be burnt umber, or there will be… consequences."
With all we have to deal with -- food rationing, water shortages, Cylons, battles, leadership -- and what is Delegate Zarek talking about? He is again -- still -- talking about his prisoner training program.
"Next I need to update you on Passenger Joe Halley," Zarek is saying.
He has already updated us in tiny detail on each of the Astral Queen "passengers" who are taking part in the maintenance training program on Pegasus. Passengers to him, they are still inmates to me.
I zone out again, thinking of Canceron's oceans. But I wink back to awareness when Eladio Puasha of Scorpia starts beating his shoe on the table.
I'm right next to him. The shoe smells wicked ghastly.
"Mr. Zarek! Delegate Zarek!," he bawls.
Zarek looks surprised and stops talking. Finally.
"You're stalling Mr. Zarek," Puasha hollers.
"I'm talking about the freedom of men. I'm talking about new lives. What is more important?" Zarek asks.
Puasha shakes his finger at Zarek in frustration.
"We've been trying to take up the matter of Commander Adama's promotion to admiral for three meetings now," he says. "And you, Delegate Zarek, have been stalling the motion with your pointless updates."
He spits a little on the p in pointless, and it hits my left cheek. I wipe it off on my sleeve. At least he's putting his shoe back on.
"I agree," I say quietly. "There are important matters to take up. We must discuss leadership. While our president lives."
There is silence in the room. Laura Roslin lies sick, perhaps dying, on Pegasus. With some of her last strength, she has named Adama an admiral. So now we have two admirals, Adama and Cain.
I remember once at the ocean, my little boys found a white speckled crab on the sandy shore. It had two huge claws and each claw was clamped to the other, the right fiercely attacking the left and the left fiercely attacking the right. It struggled with itself, hopping and thrashing on the sand.
My older boy -- a jolly child -- clapped and laughed at the folly of the crab fighting itself. But later, my younger boy -- the grave child -- went back to the spot and found the creature dead.
I speak again.
"It is time for us to vote on ratifying the promotion, and it is time to name Cain or Adama the Fleet Admiral," I say.
Vice President Baltar should be running this meeting in Laura Roslin's absence. But Baltar, too, is away. It is always clear that he much prefers his scientist hat to his politician hat, and he uses every excuse to miss these meetings.
In both their absences, Safiya Sanne of Picon is supposed to chair the Quorum. But he is ancient and near-deaf, and never steps in to guide the meetings.
"You don't have the floor, Delegate Wenutu," Zarek says to me.
"You don't have the authority to give or take the floor, Passenger Zarek," I counter.
His eyes narrow, "That's Delegate Zarek," he says, and his voice is frosted.
"My error, sir," I say, and I turn to Sanne to implore him to call for a motion on fleet leadership, and the meeting starts to devolve into agitated calls for action and order.
And the comm buzzes.
Sanne lifts a hand to quiet the assembly and answers it. Then gives the handset to Zarek.
We watch. We listen.
Zarek says, "Yes, Mr. Vice President, we can handle that right now, actually. The Quorum is still in session and I can arrange a special vote."
He hangs up the phone and surprises us all. "I would like to offer a motion that Commander William Adama's promotion to Admiral be ratified by this body, and that he be named the Fleet Admiral."
There is so much I don't understand. The Quorum of Twelve is supposed to be the ultimate governance left in the world of humanity. But too much goes on in the Fleet. Behind our backs. In front of our noses. For me, my husband is dead. My sons also. I care little, but I know -- I just know -- that we are all missing the ocean but for all the water.