How stupid of her not to have noticed the signs of something brewing behind the closed doors of the board of governors. Misplaced summons to a faculty meeting, other meetings that were unexpectedly brought forward... and it all had started shortly after Rene's visit to the campus of Oxbridge University. They surely hadn't wasted any time to get rid of the dyke that threatened the image of the great Oxbridge University of Geminon.
In Tara's mind however there was no doubt that she had only been fired for one single reason and that was that she was gay and not because of all these phoney reasons they had given her.
So here she sat in her apartment which she reckoned she would have to leave too and pondered what to do next. There were always other universities where she could work or maybe even at one of the more posh private colleges on the western continent of Geminon. In fact she had been offered a position at one of them but had picked the more prestigious post at St. Cedd's College instead.
But Rene would have never left Geminon City for another city, less another continent.
Somehow everything seemed to come back to Rene. She had outed her at the university and thus had set everything in motion that had happened since then, resulting in her getting fired.
The bell rang and Tara went to get the door.
"Delivery for Dr. Tara Maclay," said a young lad and handed Tara a big bouquet of flowers, white roses this time. Absentmindedly Tara signed for the delivery, tipped the delivery boy and went into her kitchen to put the flowers into a vase. Only then she extracted the card that came with the roses, signed by Rene of course.
Tara my Love,
Hope you didn't get into any trouble.
PS. Job or no job, I still take you back.
In one angry motion Tara hurled the vase against the nearest wall, sending water, roses and pieces of glass flying into every direction. Storming out of her kitchen Tara grabbed her coat and purse on her way out of the apartment. In no time she had reached the bus stop and half an hour later she stood at the Oxbridge Station, waiting for the next Transrapid bound for Geminon City. Tara's blood was boiling and if she had been a cartoon character no doubt steam would've come out of her ears by the time she reached Rene's flat in down town Geminon City.
"Hi honey, you're back!" Rene greeted her, not looking surprised at all at the sight of her enraged ex standing on her doorstep. Giving in to her most primal instincts, Tara slapped her ex right across her face, sending Rene stumbling back a step or two. She followed her into the hall and closed the door behind her.
"Never thought you to be one who likes it rough," Rene said holding her face.
"Who do you think you are Rene Snider?" Tara yelled, "marching onto my campus and making a scene!"
"Why, I haven't caused you any sort of trouble haven't I?" Rene asked so innocently and Tara wanted to slap her again.
"You knew what would happen even before you boarded that Transrapid in the first place!" Tara said angrily, "and this pathetic card you sent me with the flowers further proves that you very well knew what this little publicity stunt of yours would cost me. "Did you really believe I would be crawling back to you, begging for you to let me come back, if you lost me my job?" she asked and went right on, she wasn't at all interested in hearing what Rene might have to say. "Do you really think me that weak? Because if you do, let me tell you something about me! I'm no longer the insecure newly come out girl you could manipulate and order around. I've grown and I suggest you do the same Rene."
"I do not need to grow!" Rene protested.
"Rene look at yourself," Tara said more softly this time, "you treat women like you own them, you discard them once you get tired of them and you don't care if their feelings get hurt in the process when you move on to the next one. However this time I'll beat you to it and left you before you could dump me and your ego can't handle that. So you set out to ruin my career. But I'm assuring you, this won't work either!"
"But you did lose your job, didn't you?" Rene asked, clearly trying to hurt Tara.
However the blond woman wasn't to be hurt or intimidated by her ex anymore. "Yes they did fire me," she said calmly, "you managed that much. But I won't accept it. I will fight back and if they don't take me back and apologize, I'll make them pay dearly."
"Well look at that!" Rene mocked, "the mouse that roared!"
"You know I rather like the sound of this," Tara answered with a thoughtful smile.
"Of course if you had come out to your bosses in the first place non of this might haven't at all," Rene said.
"Perhaps not," Tara said, "but then this was my decision to make and I still believe that my sexual orientation is my business and my business alone. I did a good job and I will do so again if they let me return."
"Don't expect me to help you!" Rene shoot back, undertaking one last attempt to hold some control over her.
"I don't expect anything from you," Tara laughed, "but for you to stay out of my life Rene!" Rene wanted to object to that, but Tara cut her right off, "Stay out of my life Rene Snider, I mean it or I'll make you regret it!"
Tara was about to walk to the door but paused."You know what's sad? Until today I still believed - hoped that the two of us could actually become friends." She stepped up to her ex and gently said, "you have to change Rene or I'll promise you, one day you'll find yourself old and all alone. Good bye." She then kissed Rene gently on her cheek and left.
She would never see Rene Snider again in her entire life.
It hadn't been easy, but because of sheer persistence on Tara's side, she managed to finally get an appointment with Dean Zaarin. Together with her lawyer Tara had decided to first present the dean her case and give him the chance, as the head of the board of governors, to settle the matter without involving a court of law. If he would not respond to that, Tara and her lawyer would move forward.
'What then,' Tara thought. She wasn't sure yet what was exactly happen next, if they couldn't talk reasonable with the dean. No of course she already did know all too well. Cory McNair, her lawyer, had already laid the following steps out to her in the meetings they had after Tara had hired her to represent her in her case against the University of Geminon. Tara just wasn't too sure if she really wanted to take her case to court.
"Dean Zaarin can see you now," the secretary said and Tara noticed that she didn't bother addressing her properly by name, she also did not try to hide her disgust when ushering her into the dean's rather spacious office.
"Please Dr. Maclay, sit down," Dean Zaarin said and pointed at the chair standing in front of his desk.
"Thank you, Dean Zaarin," Tara answered and took a seat.
"So," the dean said and put away the papers he had reading when Tara entered the office away. "What can I do for you?" He asked with a sickening false friendliness in his voice. "You found anything wrong with your character?" Hadn't she been her mother's daughter, Tara would've jumped over the table and slapped him for his disrespectful tone of voice, not to mention the so-called character, that wasn't really designed to recommend her to work as a teacher at any school. Not openly of course, they weren't allowed to, but between the lines the message was quite another one.
"Sir. I'm here to ask you once again to reconsider your decision to end my employment," Tara said, "I have done a good job and I do not deserve to be fired in such an unworthy fashion."
"Dr Maclay," Zaarin said patronizingly, "you know that it's not my decision alone, the board and I just think that you didn't do the job as good as we expected when we offered you the position. So you see there's nothing I can do about it."
Tara took a deep breath. "Sir with all due respect, we both know that I did perform as good as I promised, even better, the grades of my students prove that, especially if compared to my predecessor."
"Maybe," Zaarin said, "but there's also the matter of lacking discipline, after all you failed to attend to faculty meetings or arrived late..."
"Sir, that happened exactly twice and both times I was misinformed or informed too late, so that doesn't count at all," Tara cut him off and then got to the heart of the matter. "The real reason I was so unfashionably fired was the fact that neither you nor the board of governors can handle that I'm gay!" The way he twitched at the last word, told Tara everything she already suspected.
Zaarin started rambling away again on the so called real reasons and with every word he uttered, the more Tara's resistance against going public and calling on the courts of Geminon dissolved.
"It seems to me," she began slowly, cutting her former boss off once more, "that you are determined to not back down from your clearly homophobic and thus discriminating position towards me." The dean tried to object but Tara didn't let him get a word in. "And since discrimination is illegal, both according to the laws of Geminon and the articles of colonisation," she paused a bit and got to her feet, "we'll see each other in court. Good day." Without waiting for Dean Zaarin response, Tara turned around and swiftly left the office.
"In the case of Dr. Tara Maclay vs. Oxbridge University Geminon we the jury find the defendant: For the first charge, discrimination because of race, gender or sexual orientation, guilty. Secondly. Unjustified termination of employment, guilty as charged. We rule that Dr. Maclay is reinstated retrospectively as faculty head and is furthermore awarded 250.000 Cubits in damages."
'So weve done it again,' Tara thought, 'though the last jury didn't award us any damages.' She absentmindedly shook hands with her lawyer Cory. For the second time a Geminon court had ruled in her favour. She had won the very first trial but the university, as predicted by Cory, had appealed the verdict and won the following trial at the higher court.
Four months later this brought them to this court and Tara's latest victory. By now the whole thing had been going on for nine months. It wasn't over though, Tara knew that the board of governors was very likely to bring the case up to the High Court of Geminon and her chances of winning the case in front of these highest (as well as most conservative) of judges weren't exactly high.
However with every day that Tara kept her case visible to the public, she improved her chances and helped to create more awareness for LGBT matters in the Geminon public or so she hoped. But just to make sure Tara had held press conferences, gave interviews to independent Geminon news papers, TV and radio stations. Tara had even been invited to tell her story on "In the Spotlight - people making the news on Caprica"! and that certainly could be called a success on Tara's side, getting recognition beyond her home planet.
"Look who's here Tara!" Cory McNair whispered, pointing to a middle-aged, well-dressed woman standing at the back of the Court room. "It's Laura Roslin."
"The Colonial Secretary of Education?"
"The very same."
Tara couldn't help but be very impressed that the sec ed to all the Twelve Colonies would come here. It meant that her case actually had sparked interest in the highest places even though her case was strictly speaking still in the jurisdiction of the planetary cords of Geminon.
"It has come as I expected, the Geminon High Court has sent your case back to the Geminon City High District Court," Cory broke the news to Tara. "That gives the board of governors of course the chance to further play for time. Clearly they are hoping that you'll be losing your breath, stumble and give in."
"I won't give in!" Tara said defiantly.
"Of course you won't," Cory said.
Tara wasn't finished yet. She was working part time at a private school and giving tutorials to some students and thus was financially secured. Furthermore she had been offered a full time employment at a private university, starting next fall, if things with Oxbridge University should not work out. So why did she continue to fight? Because she was right and they were wrong. Also, as good as her current part time job was or the offer of that other university, it just wasn't the same as being the faculty head of Colonial History at St. Cedd's College, Oxbridge University.
Another three months later it became clear that Tara would not be able to repeat her success at the Geminon district court. Out of the blue the private university had withdrawn their offer to employ Tara. Her part time job didn't pay the kind of money that could support her and keep her processing against the Powers That Be at Oxbridge University.
"I think I might have some good news for you, Tara," Cory said at their weekly meeting.
"And what would that be?" Tara asked. Instead of answering, Cory opened the door to let Secretary of Education Laura Roslin enter her office.
"Dr Maclay, it's a pleasure to meet you," Laura Roslin said and offered Tara, who literally jumped to her feet, her hand.
"The pleasure's all mine," Tara said and together they sat down in the comfortable armchairs in Cory's roomy office.
"I've been following your case ever since you took it to court for the first time," Roslin began, after Cory's assistant had brought them tea and some cookies. "Now as you know, Dr. Maclay, this is still a matter of the planetary government of Geminon, who say that they won't interfere with the jurisdiction on the matter. I can't make them or the board of governors change their mind." The tiny hope that Tara had felt by the Laura Roslin's surprise visit, dissolved and she wondered why the sec ed had come here in the first place if she couldn't help her anyway.
"However," Laura Roslin went on, "I have been meeting with the board of governors of Oxbridge and offered to negotiate a settlement between you two."
Tara looked at her lawyer, "Did you know about this Cory?" she asked.
"Yes, I knew," Cory answered with a guilty smile, "hope you didn't mind me keeping you out of the loop on this one? "
"Not at all," Tara assured her lawyer who had also become a friend to her. "So did you have any success Madam Secretary?"
"Well sort of," Laura Roslin said and began to tell Tara about her meeting with the board of governors. In order to settle the matter once and for all, they were ready to offer Tara her old position at Oxbridge University and compensate her on lost payments. However they would not admit to Tara's claims on her having been fired because of her homosexuality. Furthermore their offer required Tara to no longer talk publicly about her case. "I'm sorry but this is all they would agree too," Roslin said and took a sip from her tea.
"What d'you think?" Tara asked Cory.
"Well on one hand it is a victory for you," the young lawyer began, "to have them offer to let you return and pay you for the past months as well. "However, they won't admit to discriminating you as a lesbian and even expect you not to pursue that matter any further. Of course that would be a major defeat for you, since this was of special importance to you, as well as any other lesbian and gay person on Geminon." Cory paused for a bit, phrasing her next words carefully.
"Now as your lawyer it's my responsibility to advise you to at least consider taking that settlement because it's a good offer. I mean even though they don't admit to the discrimination, they are prepared to take you back, despite the fact that your homosexuality is well-known. That should count for something, doesn't it?"
"I suppose so," Tara said out loud and she was tempted to accept the offer because she felt very tired and longed for this fight to be over.
"But what if they only wait for things to calm down and then start looking for new ways to dump me for good?" she asked.
"Well I can't promise they won't try anything like this," Cory began. "But I do know that they will do all they can to drag this thing further out in court."
"If I might offer you another option," Laura Roslin asked, Tara nodded and so the secretary of education went on. "As I understand it, you want for things to change here, to make sure that no teacher must dread to be fired because he or she is gay, be it as a faculty head at a university or as a kindergarten teacher, is that right?" Tara nodded again.
"Then come with me!" Laura Roslin offered, "work from within the system to affect change not only for gay teachers on Geminon but all the colonial planets where being gay causes a problem. As staff member to my ministry you will have full excess to the legilatstive power of the Quorum of Twelve to implement change from above that will come to fruition here on Geminon."
"You really thing that's possible?" Tara asked.
"I don't promise it will happen overnight," the sec ed admitted. "But you can implement change in the long run if you're in the right place." For a long moment Tara thought about the new path that Laura Roslin had laid out down at her feet. It meant for her to leave this planet and everybody she knew behind. But that didn't pose much of a problem... so the real question was: Did she want to go back to teaching again or work to change the system for future lesbian teachers at Oxbridge University?
"Can I think about your offer for a bit Madam Secretary?"
"Yes you can, Dr. Maclay, and please call me Laura."
"Only if you call me Tara. I'll call you soon," Tara promised. Then the sec ed excused herself and left after she handed Tara's lawyer the written offer for a position as a staff member to the Ministry of Education.
"So Cory, what do you think?" Tara asked her lawyer once she had shown Laura Roslin out of her office.
"That's properly the best offer we could have hoped for," Cory said.
"And in case you decide to go with it, I could meet with my esteemed colleague for the Oxbridge BoG to draft an agreement that allows you to return to your old post at Oxbridge and that you won't discuss the alleged homophonic discrimination with the press anymore, once you return when fall semester approaches."
"What?!" Tara cried out in protest, but Cory put her hand on hers.
"Hear me out Tara," she said. "You'll return and thus get refunded the benefits they owe you. However, since the term is almost over anyway, they can't object for you not starting before fall.
"So if during summer break you and Laura Roslin announce to the press that you're taking up her offer to work with the ministry, they can neither prosecute you for it, nor for you using your platform to once again tell the press why you're not returning to the university after all."
"That sounds rather sneaky to me," Tara frowned, "you sure Laura Roslin will go with it?"
"I think she will."
"Won't the Board of Governors try to get back at us and regain their back payments?"
"Not if the agreement is written the way I'm planning to," Cory said and gave her a wink. "You'll be following that to a tee and keep quiet for the next weeks till summer break. Won't be difficult since interest has dropped a bit since the last trial and you have time to prepare for your move to Caprica and before you drop that bombshell on them."
Tara smiled at her friend and lawyer who already knew her so well.
"Very well Cory," Tara said, "if you're convinced that this can really work the way you described and if Laura Roslin really agrees to that little trick of yours, then close the deal. I mean the deals."
She flashed Cory a wicked grin, "you know I never thought you would be such a sly lawyer, my friend."
"Thanks for the compliment Tara."
Tara called Laura Roslin right the next day and as Cory had predicted she was game, letting Tara play that little trick on the governors. Once things with the University had been settled Tara had time to plan her future and with the back payment of almost one year worth of salaries, she had a sound financial foundation to do so. During the last week of summer break and a day before she was to return to office, Tara announced her decision to not return to Oxbridge but instead work with the Colonial ministry on Caprica.
After that, Tara packed up her few belongings, for which she only needed about half a dozen standard moving boxes, she wouldn't take any of the furniture with her since it would be less expensive to buy new furniture and household appliances in Caprica City. She'd already rented a furnished room in Caprica City and from there she would start looking for a new place to call home.
"Ladies and gentlemen and welcome aboard the Geminon Exxpress VII," came a friendly voice over the speakers while Tara settled herself into the very comfortable first class seat that Laura Roslin had insisted on, for her first of planet space flight. "My name is Ludimila Barkas and I'll be your Captain for our flight to Caprica." Captain Barkas continued the pre-flight announcements, while Tara looked out of the window wondering if she would ever return to her home planet.
15 minutes later the Geminon Exxpress VII lifted off and a few minutes later Tara Maclay looked down at Planet Geminon from outer space for the first time.
As the luxurious star liner quietly made its way through the darkness of colonial space, Tara slept peacefully, dreaming of her future and the beautiful redhead who she reckoned was to play an important role in it.
Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap
It's time to try
I think I'll try
And you can't pull me down
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Copyright 2003 Universal Music