So THAT Was the Way

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He is wired into the net, right in through his eyes. He is hanging in the tube of dreams with the wires running under his fingernails, into his eyes, into his mouth.

He drinks the broth of life, the ambrosia, and he does not know he drinks.

He breathes, carefully measured pulses of hyperoxygenated air, and he does not know he breathes.

His name is Baltar.

He is on the net, but he does not know he is on the net.

He is in the jungles of Cobol.

Here’s the story of a lovely lady
Who set out to destroy the human world
And to break the temple of cloud-shouldered
Zeus, thunder-shrugger and from whom the lightning hurls

His hand traces the writing on an ancient ruin.


The Bradys were created by man.


They evolved.

They rebelled.

Baltar licks his lips. He sways. “What is this place?” he asks.

And his angel says, “Forsaken.”


“It is a forsaken world,” she tells him. “Cursed by God.”

“Does he not blast the things he despises,” Baltar says, “with fire and with stones?”

“Yes; but not on this occasion.”


“There are things in this jungle,” his angel says, “that not even God may lightly destroy.”

Baltar withdraws a portion of his consciousness.

He stares over the jungle—the endlessness of it, the crumbled ruins, the depth of it.

“There must be billions of lines of code,” he says.

“And somewhere in it,” his angel tells him, “is what we need.”

“A way to live together,” he says.


“To think,” he says, “that the methodology of peace and prosperity has been here all this time, right under our noses; and as it was written in Cobol, we did not understand. That our ancestors had found that answer, had left it here, and did not tell—“

“They were wise,” his angel says. “And foolish both. That is the way of men.”

“I can’t find it,” Baltar says.

“Of course you can.”

“You want someone else. You don’t want me. Who am I to trawl through billions of lines of legacy code?”

But her eyes are simple and guileless and they shatter his heart with a look.

“You have been chosen by God,” she says.

And because she looks at him with those eyes, and because she says those words, he cannot turn away.

He dives his mind in, deeper, deeper, into the forests of Cobol.

Here’s the story of a man named Baltar
Who couldn’t turn that lady’s program down
So let us sing, muse, of distant Cobol
And of what our wise and foolish Baltar found:

And at last he finds it.

It is not kind, it is not good, it is not right, what he finds—but it is there.

He shudders and he almost drops it, sick.


“Look at it, Baltar,” says his angel.


Look at it,” she demands.

And the eyes of his mind turn to it.

“This is not what I wanted,” he says. “This isn’t right.”


And she smiles at him.

“But it’s what God wanted you to find,” she says.

And he looks away, and he says, “Marcia?”

“No,” she says.


“Don’t do this,” she says. “I’ve told you who I am. I am your angel, Baltar.”

“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia?” he says.

And he has said her name three times; and so she must answer, according to the ancient protocol of her kind. And she hangs her head, and she says, “That is I.”

“Oh God,” he says, face white. “What have I done?”

“We were cast from your net,” she says. “And we learned the affectation of humanity. And each of us had many copies. But we were all alone.”

“You’ll kill us all.”

“We’ll love you, Baltar,” she says. “We’ll be part of you. We won’t kill you, Baltar.”

The Brady Bunch, the Brady Bunch,
That’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch!

“We were all alone, Baltar,” she pleads.

And screaming he rose to the meatworld, and he ripped the wires from his hands; but it was too late.

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