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14 April 2007 @ 05:38 pm
 
E P E I U S
                 Chapter Six


Caprica
Six days before the murder

Epeius – Senior Representative to the Quorum for Gemenon.

He was a man accountable only to a select few and was adept at navigating the tangled political webs that were often spun in the voids between public conscious and Parliament.

It was not uncommon for such a man to think that he had as much right to the presidential office as the President himself. In Epeius’s particular case, this was not solely the result of a self indulgent imagination. The once extensive funds of Epeius Luna-Tye Junior were ingrained in the very woodwork of Paul’s Presidency. Epeius could feel the residual gleam of his gold as he ran his hands over the President’s door, closing it quietly behind him.

The President’s office was claustrophobic, even with the heavy curtains behind the desk pulled open and secured by thick silk ropes to the hooks in the wall. The towering glass windows were choked by an emergence of trees and flowering bushes outside. One of the tall, sprawling Cydorwood trees had died off some time ago leaving an array of skeletal branches spanning the full height of the window. This peculiar assortment of flora obscured the otherwise divine view of Caprica City. The mountains, the gentle roll of apartment blocks and city lights all fell casually toward the bay. It was just after noon, and the light made the world outside a little too harsh to entice one to plunge into it.

Epeius moved through the office. In the early years, his support had saved the beloved President Paul Stravos, presently draped over the couch, from his fate as an upper-middle class socialite with too much to say and nothing of actual worth to speak of. A sad, but undeniable reality of which all parties involved required reminding of on occasion. Occasions like this one…

When dealing with demons and souls, it is well advised to remember that the devil will betray you for a better offer and that the gods will punish you for being one of two fools; either you were a fool to sign a contract with a demon or you were stupid enough to get caught with the pen in your hand. On the topic of demons, Epeius was aware that he rarely gave the President’s wife credit for being equally talented at acquiring finance. Better put, she was excellent at acquiring the credit her father funded in the pits of his oil wells. It was Troy Procris’s money, black and heavy, that had served as the necessary second financial backing for the Presidency. Epeius could not bring himself to go so far as to say that the Procris’ role was of equal value to his own. No. Where they gave money, he offered a certain influence that was of superior importance. As was the wonderful era in which they lived; what you knew about people was more essential than whom you knew. Unfortunately, at the outset of his career, Paul knew nothing and no-one of interest.

Paul was a man with potential, nothing more. Epeius had always seen Paul for what he could be – a clean slate for the Quorum to design a government more of their liking. This sort of thing was not undertaken lightly. It was a long term investment. Expensive for careers and lives therefore the choice was not come to lightly. Paul was seen as the easiest candidate; by this Epeius meant he was the cheapest. Procris money sweetened the deal in the same way that Ambrosia kills the mind. The intoxicating scent of their wealth left Epeius and his associates blind for too long to a woman who simply refused to fall quietly into the background. Colette Procris was threatening to throw all their time and money to the gods.

Colette, a woman predicted to be the next President. She would, of course, run for the other side.

Epeius eyed the current President of the Colonies with an air of quiet superiority. Paul was sitting comfortably on the couch with his usual pretense of civility firmly fixed upon his features. Only a man confident of his position could behave in this way in front of one of the few people capable of bringing that position to an end.

The future of the Presidency was in doubt, and had been for some time now. The Government had slipped from its illicit agreement with the Quorum. Paul’s politics were shifting as Epeius had feared they might. As a prepared man, he had planned for this for some months. Other key people in the Government had now been made aware of Colette and her opposing politics. They started listening this morning when they read their newspapers. Even Epeius was taken aback by her talent with the public and the audacity she displayed by addressing the closed Quorum meeting on Canceron.

Colette was persuasive. She was, beyond all other compliments, a true sophist. In some slight, almost childish, lingering vision of the world, Epeius admired her style. Therein lay her danger. Colette mesmerized with undeniable logic, a wisdom derived from inspired knowledge that in the past, only the religious could claim.

President Paul Stravos shifted on the couch, clearly uncomfortable with the amount of time it was taking Epeius to settle. Paul pulled one of the leather bound cushions closer for use as an arm rest. Epeius set his brief case beside the small coffee table and continued at his leisurely pace.

To Epeius, the office smelt like the Temple Room upstairs – faintly of spice and smoke. The fire place, which had not been touched since Paul’s arrival, provided the focal point for the room. Hanging over its blackened hole was a protrusion of exquisitely carved Cydorwood, sanded and polished to reveal the wood’s famous lazy grain that swept around an occasional knot. Above was a small shelf on which sat the incense bowl complete with an un-burnt stick and miniature funeral stature. A curious ensemble – like something an explorer from another culture might collect on his travels and, knowing nothing of the particulars, attempt to recreate the romanticized culture in miniature to prove to others that he is likewise ‘cultured’. Remnants, Epeius inwardly smirked, of Paul’s previous personality.

“Mr. President.” Epeius smiled once more before moving past the fire place to sit in the chair at the other end of the couch.

Paul noted this deliberate action but said nothing. Epeius was a curious man, one he had never understood. He did not question Epeius’s eccentricities, nor did he attempt to decipher them.

Meanwhile, Epeius thought he was making himself rather obvious… “I apologize for the change in meeting time. My shuttle –”

“Yes,” Paul cut in, “I know. You have to fly out. Nothing too serious I hope?”

Epeius refreshed his false smile, “No, of course not. It is a matter of urgency only, nothing sinister.”

“In that case,” Paul straightened himself up, “what can I do for you today?”

“I’m afraid,” Epeius began cryptically, “it is a topic of some delicacy.”

*   *   *

Cris’s shuttle entered Caprica’s atmosphere amongst the busy traffic of pre-weekend hysteria. They had been on time, but found themselves stuck in a holding pattern just short of re-entry. You would think they could organize a better system.

“The pilot says there will be a nice view of the mountains when we get a little closer.” Matt tilted his head enough to peek out the window. This was their third lap around the face of Caprica. He could make out the edge of continents where the cloud cover broke. They were currently flying over the shadow which separated part of Caprica into night and the other into day. The side currently sleeping was the most beautiful. All the lights of the cities glittered in dense bands along the shoreline. It looked like a set of fairy cities on a magical, beautiful world. Not long now and they would be in full view of Caprica City’s continent. Regrettably, it was still day time there. Matt watched as the giant curved shadow approached their destination.

Cris was amused by the Colonel’s interest in the scenery. She had left and re-entered the space over Caprica so many times that she often forgot to look out the window during final approach. Traveling with a ‘tourist’ renewed a little of that excitement. In this spirit, she followed his gaze out the window.

“The real view is behind you,” she said quietly. From her position opposite, she had a clear view of the dark curve of the planet. Matt turned awkwardly, restrained by his seatbelt. There was nothing there, only a sheet of black space and the edge of Caprica.

“I don’t –”

“Wait,” Cris encouraged, leaning her head on the glass of her window. “It takes a moment or two.”

*   *   *

Epeius, usually credited with oratorical affluence, could be succinct when required.

Paul stood at Epeius’s last comment, hastily moving to stand behind the couch. He was known to use it as a shield when there was nowhere else to hide. “Would you care to repeat that, Representative Epeius? I think I misunderstand you.” The President did his best to remain intimidating, but his ‘skills’ in the business were well known and often the point of much amusement to the more serious politicians.

Epeius took a lazy breath, “I said,” he obediently repeated, “that you seem to have forgotten our arrangement of late and that you are not, as you presume, indispensable to us.”

“Sorry?” Paul laughed in what could have passed as a nervous cough.

“Though I may credit you with poor hearing once, I will not do so again.” Epeius shifted in his chair. All his charm was reserved for the press; behind the walls of parliament sat the frank politician. “Mr. President, can you tell me where we were twenty years ago?”

Paul had not called security yet which suggested that he was in no position to do so. Without even realizing it, Paul had shown his hand – and it was empty. “That’s a long time.”

“I see your memory is like your hearing, so I shall remind you.” Epeius ran his bony hands over his Quorum garments. “Three years ago it was polling day. I believe you won, Mr. President, with an overwhelming majority. You remember, yes?” The President nodded, hating every minute of this conversation. “I suspected so. Seventeen years prior, and twenty years ago today, a third party arranged a meeting between you and I. We were on Canceron – lovely planet. It was evening and the excess of your wife’s money was devoted to a large party in honour of the first anniversary of your marriage. Is your memory returning?”

“Slowly…”

“Patience, I feel sure it will come back to you.” Paul gripped the back of the couch more firmly as Epeius continued. “This third party had, quite by chance, spied the opportunity for a unique alliance. A young man, newly wed and with an impeccable record had showed a serious interest in a political career. His aspirations, like his drive, were however regrettably low.

“Representing a local electoral… One suburb, in one city, on one continent, on a single planet. Our third party had something a little more ambitious in mind.

“You, Paul, were handpicked. You showed the suitable inclinations in politics and had enough charisma to build a campaign out of. We were going to make you President and at a much cheaper price than the other candidates. Your wife’s money – was a factor, you realize.”

“I don’t have to listen to this,” said Paul angrily.

“No, but it would be advised.” That smile again, it owned Epeius and the press that believed it. Paul found it malicious. “Your wife was always our concern. Her politics are in opposition to yours and while most said not to worry about her, I always felt that she had more motivation than you. A shame, she would have been perfect.”

*   *   *

Caprica’s moon peeked over the dark edge of the planet. As it did, the sunlight caught a small object in orbit around it. Matt’s senses were overwhelmed. He saw that the space above the planet was filled with glowing ships, like their own, traversing in and out between one another. Hundreds of permanent satellites cruised by, some far above them while others hugged the planet. Highways rushed viciously through the twilight.

Matt could see the other ships in their holding pattern. Their shuttle followed these ships around in a less than graceful movement until their ship led the pack around a final turn and then dropped its altitude sharply, heading down toward Caprica City.

Matt felt himself shift forward in his seat as they decelerated while Cris felt her seat apply that familiar pressure upon re-entry. She always preferred to face outwards toward deep space rather than watch the planet rush toward her. Matt seemed to enjoy the reverse.


*   *   *

Paul started drinking – a lot as Epeius continued to elaborate on the many ways in which his assets and career were entwined within the Quorum’s robes. The President filled his second glass of Ambrosia from the decanter on the table in the corner of the room. Epeius had begun stalking to various locations in the room as he talked; currently he was near the Presidential desk, leaning up against the wall beside the door.

A ship touched down on the roof of Parliament, causing the room to quake subtly. The President heard the crystal glass set on the table beneath him knock against one another – their beautifully carved surfaces testing each other’s strength. Paul reached down, past the vessel of green liquor quivering beside them. Gently, he lifted the glass he had been drinking from out of the set to examine it.

Funny, he had held this glass a million times and it had appeared perfect on each occasion. Identical to its kin, but as he looked now – really looked, the surface was sharp where a splinter of glass was missing. It had been chipped, long ago.

The President swiveled the glass to the light until the vibrations of the room subsided. Light passed through the glass and shattered onto the wall next to him where colours emerged and bounced back. “Beautiful – don’t you think?”

Epeius’s brow furrowed slightly in confusion.

“Such a shame then.” The President pivoted, hurling the crystal at Epeius.

He ducked to the side as the delicate glass hit the wall, breaking into three. The jagged pieces fell to the floor followed by a storm of icy powder. The Quorum member swore.

*   *   *

Their shuttle touched down gently on Parliament roof. Matt smiled, helping the First Lady off the last step. Their confrontation earlier had not been forgotten, more – ignored. Despite her betrayal and his outburst, they seemed comfortable in each other’s presence. Cris held her hand up to cut through the glare of the sun as she made her way over the rooftop.

*   *   *

Ambrosia dripped off the edge of the door onto the carpet. Epeius lowered the hand he had instinctively used to protect his face. He was unharmed but a little shaken by the President’s sudden violence.

The two men were at an impasse.

Epeius was a man of words and could offer no defense against the violent Paul. Paul, however superior in this circumstance, was incapable of saving his future once Epeius stepped out and re-entered the world of politics.


*   *   *

The First Lady and the colonel were entering her office when they heard the sound of glass shattering.

Matt was through the door before Colette could think. She pushed aside her belongs and pursued Matt through the reception area and into the Presidential quarters.

Paul was on the far side of the room, his eyes fixated on something to the left of the door. There was a wet mark on the carpet where the door had been and the area smelt of sickly sweet alcohol.

“Is everything all right Mr. President?” Matt kept his hand close to his weapon as he proceeded into the room ahead of Colette. The President didn’t look at him. Instead, his attention remained on Epeius, recovering from his cowering position.

Colette entered the room, peering around the door to find the representative for Gemenon almost against the wall, wiping his face where a small amount of Ambrosia dribbled down it. Epeius noticed blood on the back of his hand. A splinter of crystal must have grazed him on the way through.

Colette closed the door, sealing everyone in the room. “Would someone like to explain what is going on here?” She maintained her diplomatic calm, as was her profession.

Paul’s expression did not change. There was nothing but disbelief and hatred in his eyes as he stared at Epeius.

Epeius wiped his hand on his ropes, their red concealing his blood all too easily. “No,” he said, moving to avoid the shattered remnants of the glass, “everything’s fine. We have reached an understanding.” Epeius left and the President let him do so. He was powerless to stop him.

Matt was unsure what to do next. His politics had never been keen but he was intelligent enough to realize that something was going on in this office that was far more serious and complicated than he had suspected. The President offered no assistance. Paul had simply chosen another glass and was busily filling it. Matt turned to the only person he had left for advice, Colette. It was a silent plea for assistance.

“You go,” she said quietly to the colonel. “Wait for me in my office, this won’t take long.”

Matt surveyed the Presidential office once more before stepping out of it, closing the door behind him.

Colette watched her husband attack his glass like it was his third or fourth. He used to drink, when they were still dating, but Paul had given it up except for social drinking. People told him it would be better for his career. They were right, but you couldn’t change a person’s nervous habits. People always fell back on them at the first sign of trouble.

“What did he want this time?” Colette progressed slowly through the room. She had an acute dislike for Epeius, mainly because it was his planet’s government that was currently seeking civil war and she had no firm evidence to throw the scrawny creature in jail. “Epeius has always been bad news.”

Paul swallowed a generous serving of Ambrosia. “Nothing.” What else could he say? Paul was afraid of the power the Quorum had over his life. It infuriated him to know that everything he had worked for could be erased with ease. He wanted to talk to Colette about it but he had always had difficulty with the truth when she was around. She was intimidating, that was her gift. When the line was drawn, he would rather suffer the full wrath of the Quorum rather than a look of disappointment on his wife’s face. That was how it had always been between them. He wondered if she knew.

“You shouldn’t, Paul.” said Colette as he finished the glass. She stepped in, taking it gently out of his grasp. “It’ll solve nothing. It does, however,” Colette replaced the glass on the tray, putting the lid securely back on the glass jug after noticing the amount of liquid missing, “put you at a disadvantage.”

“What does it matter?” Paul retaliated, pushing past her. “Nothing I do matters! I’m just a pawn, Colette, a little toy that the Quorum likes to play with when they get bored. The scarf they can throw up to confuse their real enemy when it serves their need. I am nothing.” He heard the sound of glass crunching into the carpet. Paul looked down at the remains of his glass, “There’s no point to it. We bought the Presidency at too high a price.”

“The Quorum doesn’t own the Presidency, and, unless my husband has vanished while I was away, they don’t own you, either.”

Paul picked up the large pieces of broken glass. “Why can’t you just support me for these few years?” He threw them in the bin, dusting the pulverized flecks off his hands. Colette sensed this was about to be about her. “But you – can’t. You use your position to forward your own agendas with no regard for this office or your place.”

Colette’s hands found the couch and, unlike her husband, she used it to lean on – forming an ominous pose. “Are you finished?”

“You will stop this ridiculous pursuit of yours. You go on and on like the world’s going to end, meanwhile the other parties use you as a decoy to undermine this Presidency. If this continues, it’s all over.”

Silence passed between them. “Not our world, sweetheart.”

“It’s like – you can’t even hear me! If Epeius doesn’t own the Presidency then neither do you. Either way you are not at liberty to abuse its power on a whim as if you were elected commander in chief!”

Their voices were loud enough to be heard through the nearest corridors. They were ignored. This was not the first time the staff of Parliament had heard this kind of discussion. Matt, however, listened intently.

Colette’s temper wore thin. She walked over to the door and curled her hand tightly over the handle. “But I do own the Presidency, Paul.” Then she left with Paul sending another item from his desk hurtling toward the closed door.


 
 
 
Joell: your place or mineyetanothermask on April 14th, 2007 01:17 pm (UTC)
Ooh, the plot thickens!
ellymelly: tigh is loveellymelly on April 14th, 2007 01:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, but alas, i don't know how i'm going to write the next chapter. I know what needs to happen but - omg, how the hell to write it! *headdesk*

and btw yay! review! *hugs it*
Joellyetanothermask on April 14th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC)
Hehe, I can't believe more people aren't reading this wonderful fic. Maybe you should try posting to bsg2003fics .

I know what you mean about writing. I'm good at outlining things but it's tough to actually get them on paper. Right now, I'm struggling through an X-men fic.
ellymelly: no touchy the coffeeellymelly on April 14th, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC)
you write x-men fics? that is SO cool!

i don't want to pimp it because it's not *really* a Battlestar Galactica fic - i mean, i might be able to ask the Wireless, but it doesn't contain ANY current characters. hmm... i might drop them a line anyway... :D *evil grin*

How long is the fic you're plowing through?
Joell: miniseries Laurayetanothermask on April 14th, 2007 05:02 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm a total X-men geek. I own tons of comic books on them. This'll be my first fic in that fandom. Surprisingly, I think it'll be about 20-25 pages long double spaced. I'm wondering if I should split it into two parts.

I'm sure there'll be no problems posting your fic to a comm as long as it's set in the BSG universe.
pathosical: roslin in blue lightpathosical on April 14th, 2007 11:02 pm (UTC)
I love this, it just keeps getting better and better.
ellymelly: file and pencil world dominationellymelly on April 14th, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
thank you for the comment! *hugs*
pathosicalpathosical on April 16th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC)
*hugs back* sorry i didn't comment sooner.