Exaggeration and Blank Verse
Battlestar Galactica
Horatio Hornblower
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

The girl who gave him Tom Zarek's book had huge green eyes and wild dark hair. She was from Tauron, and it wasn't until well after they'd broken up that he found out she came from the high country, where the elite with more money than the Gods lived, and not from the swampy farmlands like she implied with her coarse earth-colored clothes and speeches about the coming revolution of the working class.

They met at a very boring party at a very small art gallery in Picon City, which Lee only attended because Zak was sick and Kara dragged him along as a sub. Marissa Bisse-- that was her name, although he didn't learn it until the next morning, when he was stumbling out of her apartment and saw it written on the mailbox-- had cornered him by the punch bowl, rolled her eyes at the uniform he was still wearing because Kara had picked him up straight off duty, and launched into a diatribe about how any man who flew a Viper was obviously attempting to compensate for tragic personal shortcomings.

"What about female Viper pilots?" he asked when she paused long enough to take a sip of her punch.

She didn't hesitate. "They're attempting to cover for a deep-seated emotional wound."

"You must have wanted to be a pilot very badly at some point in your life," he said, swirling his drink in its cheap plastic cup.

That threw her off for a moment. "What makes you say that?"

He shrugged. "Well, if you think flying's so wonderful it can make up for any inadequacy..."

"I hardly think buying in to an oppressive military mindset would be wonderful for me," she huffed.

"Ah, ah, ah," he said, shaking a finger at her. "There's no war, remember? Probably never will be again. It's hardly military, it's just...flying." He grinned at her, even though a little voice in the back of his mind was asking questions like if the Fleet is barely military, why did you spend the last week running drills over the desert? and where the hell are you coming up with this crap?

The answer, of course, was that he was a slightly drunk young man talking to a pretty girl who was starting to grin back at him and move a little closer.

"So flying's nice, huh?" she asked. "Maybe you can change my mind about Viper pilots, Mr...?"

"Lieutenant," he corrected her. "Lieutenant Lee Adama."

"Well, Lieutenant Adama," she said, moving decidedly within his personal space, "take me for a ride?"

"They're single-seaters," he said. "No passengers in a Viper."

"Who the hell cares about Vipers?" she growled, making her point by putting her hand on a very personal part of his anatomy. "I said take me for a ride."

He never quite remembered getting to her apartment, only that once they were there she mauled him like a tiger, abusing his uniform so badly in her efforts to get it off that when he stumbled back to base the next morning, he had to hold his pants closed with his hand the whole way. Kara laughed so hard at that, she almost forgot to give him hell for abandoning her at the party. Almost.

At any rate, he called Marissa the next day-- because he was a nice guy, and nice guys did that-- and she told him that she still wasn't convinced she'd been wrong about pilots, and that he had an hour to get back to her apartment and defend the honor of the gentlemen officers of the Fleet. Thus began the wildest two months of an otherwise sedate and well-behaved life, in which he ate things he never previously would have considered food, smoked things that probably left him very lucky that the War College had gotten so lax with its drug checks, and spent more time with his pants off than a professional underwear model.

And he also read Tom Zarek's book.

Marissa gave him a copy after an afternoon in her apartment that tested the limits of his flexibility both physically and mentally. "You've heard of him, right?" she asked, tugging a gauzy yellow dress out of her closet. "The prisoner of conscience? From Sagittaron?"

"He's a terrorist," he said, rolling his eyes at the frantic hyperbole printed on the cover. "A murderer."

"Oh, Lee, do you believe everything the press tells you?" She dropped the dress to the floor and flopped back down in the bed next to him. "They're all owned by the government, you know. All of them." She tapped the cover with her fingernail. "The truth's in here, Lee. It'll free your mind."

"That's what you said about those mushrooms you put in the salad last--"

"I'm serious!" She sat up, glaring at him, her hair flying around her face in a way that reminded him of the story of Medusa. "Lee, this book is very important. Tom Zarek is..." She sighed and shook her head. "You have to read it, Lee. Then you'll understand."

It would've taken a colder man than Lee Adama to refuse the request of a naked young woman, particularly one who owned the bed he was lying in and had previously proven more than willing to hold articles of his clothing hostage if he displeased her. "Okay. I will."

He did read it, and found that it made a certain amount of sense. Zarek sounded like a rational enough guy. His followers, on the other hand, were a bunch of wackos-- Lee accompanied Marissa to one meeting of Zarek supporters and very nearly called the police on the lot of them. But the man himself? Lee almost thought he'd like to meet him, someday.

He was perfectly content with the fact that his father would absolutely hate her, if slightly less so knowing that his mother would, too. Kara and Zak and the rest of his friends professed themselves baffled by the entire relationship, saying things like "She's just so not you, Lee," which was annoying and would have been more worrisome than it was if Marissa hadn't been able to say things like "I have double-jointed hips" and back them up with credible evidence.

They didn't last very long anyway. He invited her to a night out at the bars with his fellow pilots, and she got in a fight with Kara about "sublimating sacred femininity to adhere to a masculine ideal." Kara cold-cocked her in the middle of the dance floor, and confronted with the choice of which woman he wanted to have mad at him, he wasn't too sex-blind to know that Kara could make him far, far more miserable. That was the end of his delayed adolescent rebellion. But he kept the book.

Now he has to deal with Zarek on an infuriatingly regular basis, on Fleet and Quorum business. And it's just impossible-- first of all, because the man is a smug bastard, and second of all, because whenever he goes off on one of his speeches, Lee recognizes the riffs from Chapter 6, or 12, or 17, and it sends his mind flying back to long afternoons spent in bed and evenings absorbing bizarre art or food or music. Essentially, it makes him want to talk to a crazy woman and then have sex. So when he finally gets away from Zarek, it always feels like a desperate race to find a bathroom and jerk off before he accidentally runs into Ellen Tigh.

There it is, then, in a nutshell. Zarek isn't only morally and personally repugnant, he is damned inconvenient. Also, lazy, since he doesn't seem to have come up with any new material in the last twenty years.

Maybe Lee could work all of this into some kind of campaign, once the election rolls around. "Don't vote for Zarek, because it's the kind of thing your batshit crazy ex-girlfriend would do." Better than "Vote for Baltar, because his ego is a self-sustaining ecosystem and maybe we can find a way to plant crops on it."

Gods spare him from ever having to navigate a political career. He's a simple man; give him a Viper and something to shoot at, that's all he's asking.

"Captain Adama," Zarek says to him one day, with an excessively dramatic and dewy-eyed stare across a Quorum podium. "Don't you want to see all of humanity living in freedom and equality?"

Marissa asked him the same question once, and he very nearly gives the same answer. Mostly, I'd like my pants back, actually. But that's not exactly appropriate here. "I want to see humanity survive," he says instead.

"What is survival without freedom?" Zarek demands. "I think you have a terrible lack of imagination, Captain."

Survival without freedom was the theme of Chapter 9. Lee needs to get out of here. "That's why I became a Viper pilot, Mr. Zarek," he says, edging around the man and making a break for the door. "To compensate for my shortcomings."

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