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08 June 2008 @ 04:56 pm
BSG Fic: Not All That We Are (2/2)  
Header information in PART ONE, HERE






Part 2


The moment Sam stepped on the ground of New Caprica, his stomach lurched with revulsion. He staggered into the Raptor as his chest seized up. This was a mistake. He shouldn't have come.

He tried to pull himself together before anyone noticed, taking a deep breath and trying to calm his pounding heart. Cold sweat broke out on his face and he shuddered.

wrong, wrong, wrong

The awareness beat at him, frantic wings inside his mind. "Please… I know," he whispered, closing his eyes. "There's nothing I can do… Please stop…"

It didn't stop. The skin of the Raptor was hot against his shoulders, but he pushed back against it, sinking, until he was crouched under the belly. Nausea roiled through his middle, until he wanted to gag and just breathing required all his attention.

"Sam?" Kara asked, suddenly crouched in front of him. "What's wrong? You okay?"

He pulled his eyes open and grabbed her hands, "I can't live here, Kara. I'm sorry… I thought I could. I thought that feeling had gone. But this place…. All I can feel is how wrong it is."

"Sam --" She tried to pull away, but he held on. Her fingers were cool and when he focused on where he felt her touching him, the wrong seemed to be more bearable.

And he kept going before she could say anything, "I know you said you wanted to come down here, and we could try to be normal. But I can't. There's something frakked up in my head. So I -- I will totally understand if you don't want to go back up with me, but ---"

"Samuel." Her voice cut right through his anxious babble. "Shut the frak up," she ordered him and shuffled awkwardly closer, so their knees touched. She ducked her head to bring it close to his, her eyes searching his for a long moment. "There is nothing wrong with you."

He started shaking his head in fierce denial and couldn't stop, until she pulled her hands free and took his face in her hands and stilled it. "Nothing. Okay? You're having visions. It happens. It's normal."

"Normal?" he repeated.

She chuckled a little and teased, "Well, maybe not totally normal. But then you've never been exactly normal, have you?"

He flinched, his mind going straight to that 'Cylon' place, but he knew she didn't mean it like that, and calmed down with a few gasping breaths.

When he settled, she nodded in satisfaction and dropped her hands to his legs. "There. Better? Do you want me to steal this Raptor and fly us back up to Galactica?"

His lips twitched into a smile, because she'd do it too. But this was the Ground-breaking ceremony and they -- especially Kara -- needed to be here. It was supposed to be fun, with dancing and a party to celebrate the founding of the new settlement. And as much as he knew with every fiber of his being that it was the wrong thing to do, it wasn't as if he had the power to change it. If the people didn't listen to Roslin and Adama, nobody was going to listen to him.

The Fleet was stuck here until something made them move. Maybe if he could get some better idea of what was going to happen, he and Kara could stop it or prepare to face it.

But in the meantime, he wasn't going to spoil Kara's fun. So he pressed his lips together and shook his head. "No, no stealing Raptors. The Admiral will be mad if we steal his ride. But Kara…" He grabbed her hand. "Tell me, what do you want? To come down here? Stay on Galactica? Ignoring my issues, what do you want to do?"

She bit her lip and he saw that serious, thoughtful woman he knew she was inside, under the brash Viper jock. "I want…" she started. "I see the appeal, you know?" she glanced out from under the Raptor, toward the crowd forming around the banners in the sunlight. "A new start." She glanced back at him and smiled. "You convinced me of that. I could give up flying for the chance to build a life here. I could. But now you've gone and convinced me it's doomed, so what are we gonna do?"

"Get ready," he answered her. "When it goes wrong, we have to be ready."

"Then I think you should learn to fly." She grinned. "You wanna be my wingman, Sammy?"

He stared at her, taken by surprise. "What?"

"I bet you'd be a decent pilot," she coaxed him and leaned into him, arms sliding up his arms and around his neck. "You have good reflexes and spatial sense, and you certainly handle your weapon well…"

"It's real hard to say no to you," he murmured, threading his fingers through her hair.

"Come flying with me," she urged softly, right before she kissed him.

The kiss lasted until Costanza stuck his head underneath the ship and shouted, "Hey, guys, ceremony's about to start."

Mindful that Hotdog could be a fellow pilot soon if Kara got her way, Sam didn't tell him to frak off. Kara had no problem doing it though. Snickering, he left, but the mood was broken.

She regarded Sam. "Can we go have some fun?"

He nodded resolutely, hoping he could ignore the wrongness of this planet long enough to dance with her. "Sure. As long as there's lots of booze involved."

Taking his hand, she pulled him out from under the Raptor and they went toward the gathering.

Alcohol, a dance and her by his side helped quiet the wrongness and by nightfall, he was feeling very woozy and light-headed. Kara was constantly laughing at him, even as she yanked him out of the way of things he didn't notice and tried to keep him upright.

Finally, he lost his balance and went sprawling, mostly on top of her when she tried to catch him. It was kind of cozy there, and he smiled at her. "Hi."

"You're so drunk." She shook her head at him, amused, and shoved. "Off, Sam, can't breathe." With her help, he managed to roll off her and stared up at the unfamiliar sky. There weren't many stars visible, but the space gases glowed a pretty green.

Next to him, her hand touched his head and started idly petting his hair. "Sam," she murmured, "what's going to happen?"

"Don't know," he shook his head, enjoying how the sky seemed to whirl around when he did that. "Don't know anything. Don't know what I am. Just know … you make it better. Not so crazy."

She poked him hard enough for him to feel it in the numbness. "I must be crazy, too," she muttered. "Gods, what am I gonna do with you?"

But she kept holding his hand, and he closed his eyes against the feeling that the sky might fall on him. When he woke up, dawn's light was shining straight into his eyes like a knife. He felt Kara cuddled behind him and he turned away from the sun and toward her to sleep again.


*

Now that so many crew had gone planet-side, the secondary rack room was deserted most of the time. He sat at the center table, a small cloth bag in front of him.

Sam opened the bag and the smell rushed out, earthy and green but with a tinge of foul and cloying. The smell clung to the back of his throat and turned his stomach, but he pinched some of the grayish green powder between his fingers anyway.

Gods, he hoped this worked.

He put the chamalla on his tongue and nearly spat it out - it was so bitter it turned his mouth instantly dry - but he let it dissolve and swallowed.

Nothing happened. He didn't feel any different. He waited, tapping his fingers impatiently. Maybe it wasn't enough. It wasn't as if he'd asked anyone about the dose when he'd gotten Gripkey to find him some in return for Galactica hooch.

Another pinch on his tongue, and this time, it hit him - the table seemed to jump away from him and the straight lines of the bulkhead supporters bent and wavered. He suddenly felt light as if he was going to float away, and the lights dimmed.

Gripping the edge of the table tightly, so he wouldn't fall off the chair, he shut his eyes.

"Show me something, damn it," he whispered. "Come on… this has to work."

Nothing.

"Frak. I need to know." He grabbed for the bag, fumbling across the table unable to touch it even though it was right there. A finger found one of the strings finally and he was able to pull it closer, even though it seemed like such an odd hand. Someone else's hand, maybe. Not his.

But that hand dove into the bag, scattering some herb all over the table, but enough to grab some in his fingers and put it in his mouth.

"Frak. Tastes like --"

His sight went black, and he realized he was floating in space. He thought he should be in a panic, but he wasn't - he was calm. There were stars all around him, the long white ribbon of the galaxy, and a cloud of ruby and orange gases like a cosmic flower.

Some stars were brighter than others, drawing his gaze, forming patterns -- an archer, a scorpion, but it wasn't until he saw a fish that he knew he was seeing the constellations that were the ancient symbols for the Colonies. As seen from Earth.

He looked past his feet and … there it was. Earth. The planet was huge, mostly blue and white with some green and brown, and it shone in the light of the distant yellow sun.

Earth. His heart ached at the beauty of it. He reached out a hand, as if he could touch it, hold it in his palm like a ball. He needed to get closer. But instead he got further away…. the great ball got smaller and smaller, pulled away from him, or he was being pulled backward… And he tried to scream in denial but he made no sound at all.

Something grabbed him then, and there was Galactica. Or no, it was the other ship. Pegasus. And it was exploding, blow after blow tearing it apart, all in terrible silence.

A Cylon Raider rushed past, chased by a Viper; the Viper's guns tracked right through him, and he flinched, expecting to feel the rounds hit him. Then space was gone and he was somewhere else. When he stretched out, he touched bodies -- there were bodies all around him with familiar faces, all dead and staring and empty: Jean, Gripkey, Cally, Roslin, pilots, all piled together without respect or caring, just thrown in a pit. He scrambled on top of them, to see shattered bits of wood strewn across bare dirt, and cloth rags blowing in the wind.

He saw nothing alive. But he heard a baby wailing in terror somewhere, and he took a step to search, but then everything changed again.

He was inside a warm humid place with cold sterile lighting. There were human-form Cylons crumpled on the deck, half alive and moaning in pain, drowning in their own blood. And then they all got up and ran into the walls, beating at the metal walls with their bodies until he wanted to scream at them to stop. Then they were gone, and instead he stood inside a grand stone building with an immense central column and a round opening in the roof. There were hundreds of the different models of skinjobs milling around him, and none of them saw him or noticed him at all. Yet despite the lack of attention, the crowd moved, and somehow he was in the front and stumbled into an open spot. There was a circular pattern in the floor, under his feet, and he seemed to recognize it, like a song he'd heard long ago.

When he turned back, all the Cylons were copy after copy of Leoben. As one they all smiled, and the one right in front of him said, "We've been waiting for you."

The circle on the floor dropped out from under him, and he was falling down a long dark shaft. The walls were alive, undulating in a sickening way. Then he realized the wall was full of snakes, curling around and over themselves. Two snakes, their skins gleaming in black and green, curled up his arms and caught him on either side. He hung there in their grip, knowing he would fall if the tight coils let go.

More coils spread to wrap his chest and waist, so tightly he couldn't breathe. He struggled but he was helpless in their tight grip. The snakes were lifting him up, raising him back toward the circular opening.

The light blinded him as he emerged. When his vision cleared, all he could see inside the streaming light was a little girl with serious dark eyes looking up at him. She held out her hand and he took it, her little fingers clutching his.

She said nothing, but his fear fell away, and he felt only peace.

*

A soft beeping woke him slowly, aware of a pounding headache that made him want to go back to sleep, but his head was waking him up anyway. His mouth tasted like something had died in there, and he tried to swallow, but his throat felt like sandpaper. He desperately needed something to drink.

Opening his eyes revealed the ceiling of the Galactica, and given the curtain to one side of the bed and the i.v. stuck in his arm, he was in the infirmary.

"Sam? You're awake?" he heard Kara's voice to the other side and turned his head slowly. She was perched next to him, her eyes red and shadowed with exhaustion.

"Hey," he croaked and cleared his throat trying to find his voice. She didn't seem too glad to see him awake.

Her lips tightened and she reached across and slapped him hard across the face. The headache flared into a burst of pain, and his cheek stung. What the hell?

"That's for being a frakking idiot," she spat at him, furious. "Do you have any idea how much of that shit you took? When I found you, you weren't breathing. If Gripkey hadn't told Jean, and she hadn't warned me, you might be dead, you frakker."

"I …" he thought he should say he was sorry, but he wasn't. He was too tired to feel much of anything. "I had to see."

After a moment, she heaved a breath. "And? What did you see?" When he didn't answer right away, she prompted, "New Caprica?"

"So much. I saw so much. Ships, stars, Cylons…" The images were tangled in his his mind, so many, but one stood out in blue and white brilliance. "Earth."

"What?"

"I saw Earth, Kara."

"What did it look like?" she asked, something child-like in her curiosity.

His eyes felt hot with tears, as he answered hoarsely, "It was beautiful."

Her hand curled around his and she squeezed. "I'm glad," she murmured. "But Sam, no more. You can't do it again."

"But -- " he objected.

"No," she ordered, and her voice grew harsh, "You take that stuff again, and I will kill you myself. It's not worth it." When he opened his mouth to object that discovering Earth and finding out what horrible thing was going to happen was worth some risk, she shook her head once, glaring at him. "Not worth it," she repeated. "Not even Earth. Not when you almost died."

He subsided, knowing her urgency was coming out of worry for him, and he nodded. "All right." His voice splintered into a cough, and he asked, "You got water?"

She looked startled by such a mundane request and then reached for a cup with a straw. "Sure. Here." She held the cup even though he could hold it himself.

Then she relaxed and shook her head at him. "Only you would go overdose yourself on chamalla before we get the Admiral's permission to put you in uniform. What the hell were you thinking? Hopefully he sees you need something to keep you out of trouble."

Sam cleared his throat again and this time had some success, when his voice came out more normal, "Like it's worked so well with you?"

She grinned at him. "Just think what I'd be like without the uniform."

"The universe trembles in fear," he retorted dryly and lifted her hand to his lips, serious again. "You're always saving me. Thank you."

She snickered. "You seem to need rescuing a lot."

"Someday I'll save you again," he promised.

She left her hand in his and he closed his eyes, content to drift back to sleep with her beside him.


*

"Why do you keep coming to visit me?" Sharon asked. Sometimes she didn't even acknowledge his presence, but today she stirred and approached the glass and metal separating them. Her question wasn't angry or even particularly curious, but at least it was movement.

He shrugged. "You saved my life. I guess I wish I could do something to help you."

"You can't," she told him flatly. "No one can."

"Maybe not," he agreed. "But can I ask you a question?"

She folded her arms. "What?"

"How do you know you're not programmed to do something awful?" he asked. "Kara said you told the Admiral you knew you didn't have any hidden protocols. How can you know, when Boomer didn't know?"

She inhaled a breath and let it go in an impatient sigh. "Because I know what I am. I knew my mission."

"But how can you tell there's nothing hidden under that?" he persisted.

Giving him an odd look that made him wary, she explained, less irritably, "It doesn't work that way. We may be machines, but we're not stupid. If we know what we are, then we can fix ourselves and change the programming. We can choose," she said the last fiercely, as though trying to propel the word into his brain so he could get it.

He tried not to react, but something unknotted itself inside him. There was choice. There was free will, for Cylons, too.

"Much good it did me." After a moment, she added, more to herself, "I chose. And I got my daughter killed."

"No, you didn't. It's not your fault. You're grieving. I know what that's like," he murmured.

Anger now sparked in her face, as her expression tightened. "And I suppose your child died?"

"No. But I know loss. I was one of three who survived the Carathon Valley Avalanche disaster on Picon. Did you know that?" He didn't know it either, but he couldn't figure out how it could be false, with all the media coverage of his rescue. "I was thirteen - half the mountain fell on my parents, my sister, my whole town. I was buried in the rubble for eight days. After that I wanted to believe I was saved for a reason, that the Gods had saved me for something. Then I picked up a Pyramid ball and I thought I knew what that purpose was. I was good," he said with no false modesty. "For twenty years, Pyramid was my life. But it was never quite enough. I was always looking for something I didn't even know I'd lost."

During his story, Sharon drew closer and settled on the floor across from him, watching him with those dark, unfathomable yet beautiful eyes. She didn't prompt him, but she was listening.

"On the day of the attacks, I realized… everything had changed. I was different. It was like a switch turned on in me, and I knew."

"Knew what?" she asked.

He couldn't tell her everything - she might be an ally, but he couldn't be sure. But he could tell her the rest of the truth.

"I knew I'd found my true purpose. That first loss taught me how to deal with this," he answered and waved his hand around, meaning the rest of the fleet and his life after the Cylons had come. "I survived before, I knew I could do it again. So that's what I chose to do, to keep fighting even when it seemed so futile."

She shook her head, looking down, tears glimmering before her hair fell forward to hide her face. "And losing Hera?" she whispered.

He opened his mouth and hesitated, unsure of the right words, and her head snapped up, eyes now blazing, "What did you say?"

Jerking back from her sudden intensity, he answered tentatively, "Nothing."

"You did," she insisted. "You said Hera's safe. I heard you."

He shook his head, confused. "No, I didn't." But he could see from her face that he had. "Or at least I didn't mean to," he added hurriedly, as chills slipped down his back. On his feet before he could think about it, he told her, "I'm sorry. I don't remember saying that, but if I did, it slipped out. I'm really sorry, Sharon."

Hurrying to the door, he was almost there, when she shouted, "Sam!"

The leaden feeling in his chest almost kept him from turning around, but he figured he owed her that.

She was standing very close to the glass, with one hand pressed against it so hard her fingertips were white. "You know something about Hera. Is she still alive?"

He shook his head again. "I don't know. I shouldn't have said anything."

The only reason he didn't run out of the room was because he had to wait for the guards to open the door. But shame curdled inside him, and he wondered what the frak he was doing, giving hope to a grieving mother that her child might still be alive.

He started into the ambrosia the instant he got back to the rack room and didn't go see Sharon for a month.

*

"Oracle, Starbuck. Try to keep up, rook." Her voice on the wireless was challenging, and he took it up immediately, putting on the thrust to follow her.

"I'm not a rook anymore," Sam protested.

"You'll always be a rook to me, rook," she retorted and tried to lose him by going fast and looping, but he doggedly kept up. He felt clumsy compared to her, out here where she was so completely in her element, but he stayed on her wing more or less. She moved closer until he could see her grinning in her helmet. "Let's try something a bit harder, then."

She barrel rolled her Viper away and he turned quickly, nearly slipping into a spin when he over-corrected. "Frak." But he got it in gear, and soon was feeling more in the rhythm. Flying was nothing physically like Pyramid, but somehow felt the same, particularly when he was chasing her.

They were at the outer perimeter of the patrol zone, and even though he knew Galactica and Pegasus could hear them, it felt like he and Kara were alone in the universe.

Then abruptly he was alone. He looked all around, knowing she was close since he could hear her chortling with glee. "Where'd you go?"

Then the buzzer went off indicating someone had a weapons lock on him, and she said, "Didn't see that one coming, did you, Oracle? Tsk, tsk," she clucked at him.

"Damn it," he pulled the ship into a spin, trying to break the lock then hit the reverse thrusters, inertia throwing him into his harness. He'd feel that one tomorrow. Her ship coasted right across his canopy and he straightened to go right up her tail, in the reverse of what she'd done, crowing, "HA!"

Then she flipped her ship and they ended up nose to nose at four hundred meters. "Nice try. You're still dead, though. Oracle."

He shook his head. "At least I'm not 'Rookie'," he grumbled.

"I thought about it, but Helo got in first," Kara retorted cheerfully. She flipped the ship back on course again. "Form up and let's keep going.."

He maneuvered to return to position on her starboard side, wiggling the Viper's wings at her.

She wiggled back and then promised, "I'll take you up on that offer when we get back."

"It's a date. In the shower," he added, thinking longingly of hot water after the long CAP.

"On the table," she countered.

"In the rack."

"Against the wall," she lobbed back, snickering. "If you're feeling up to it."

"Oh, you know it, baby. Anytime, anywhere."

There was another click on the line. "CAP, Galactica." It was Helo's voice, and Sam groaned aloud, knowing Helo was going to be a wet blanket. "Not to spoil the fun and all but ---"

"But that's exactly what you're doing." Sam sighed, making sure CIC could hear it. "Spoilsport."

Helo sounded amused. "There are things CIC really doesn't want to know about. So wait til you're back from CAP."

"Aye, aye, XO," Sam responded, mocking him just a little. He might be in uniform now, and even promoted to lieutenant last week, but he saw no reason to change his attitude much.

"Come on, even Helo can't spoil flying. Catch me if you can," Kara called out and her burners flashed brightly in his eyes, as the chase was on again.

Her Viper dove and twisted, and he copied her, grinning at her delighted laugh when he cut her off, but she slipped past him like a ghost. One of these days, he wanted them to go try the ice canyons in the far north of New Caprica and really challenge themselves.

Cold

He shuddered as an icy wind seemed to blow across his skin. He checked his suit and cockpit life support by reflex, and then another colder sense shuddered through him, and he knew.

"You lost me!" Kara taunted from far away. "C'mon, Oracle, catch up. You're not even trying!"

He lifted his gaze out to the stars. "They're here. They've found us."

"What are you talking about? Who?" But he didn't have to answer, as it became all too clear. Their DRADIS lit up with multiple contacts. "Lords of Kobol…" she whispered.

Right in front of them … four base ships. So close.

She shook off her moment of horror. "Galactica, Starbuck. We have multiple Cylon contacts," she reported. "Four base ships. Raiders launching…"

After a moment, Helo ordered, "Starbuck, Oracle, back to the barn. Best speed."

"Understood," Kara answered and flipped her Viper back on a heading toward the ship.

Sam's scanner was solid at the outer range, there were so many Raiders heading their way. He could see them, so many…

His voice was hollow as his nightmare unfolded before his eyes. "Raiders lined up from here to hell…"

"SAM!" Kara shouted. "Move it!"

He snapped out of it, and turned to follow her, putting on all the thrust he had. But he didn't have to look to know the Cylon wave was gaining.

Galactica came into view, but it was still so far away…. The other ships started to blink out, as they jumped to safety, but the two battlestars stayed, and started to move into position to give the rest of the fleet cover.

Kara shouted, "FRAK!"

A Heavy Raider jumped in front of them, trying to cut them off.

"Break!" she called, and he did, as its guns lit up the blackness. He wrenched his Viper into a spin, trying to avoid the shots, but the ship came after him.

"Damn it!" It was still shooting at him, and he was evading, but it was right on his six. "Can't shake it."

"I'm on it," Kara said grimly. "On my mark, break one-four-six…. And three… two…"

Something whammed his ship and spun it out of control. "I'm hit!"

Fighting to get control again, he barely heard Kara call, "Got it!" A flare of light off to the left, told him the Heavy Raider was gone.

The universe stopped spinning and he set the Viper on a course back to Galactica. The Raiders were much closer.

Something beeped and turned red on his panel. He glanced down and saw the worst. His hands briefly trembled, but then stopped. He knew what he had to do.

Voice calm, he said, "My number two engine's gone and I've got a fuel leak."

Kara's voice snapped out, "Galactica, Starbuck. We need a SAR Raptor. RIGHT NOW." She paced her ship to his, a mother bird trying to cover a wounded duckling.

"You have to get out of here, before those things are on top of us."

"I'm not leaving you out here," she bit out angrily. "I can defend you long enough for Galactica to send a bird."

"From all those? Nobody's that good." He put his Viper into reverse to come to a relative stop and turned to face the Raiders. "I'll cover your escape. "

"Gods damn it!" she protested furiously. "No."

"It'll be okay," he promised. "But not if you die here. Go."

"But -- "

"Go!" He set his Viper in a reverse heading away from her and limping toward the Raiders. "Let me rescue you for a change."

The admiral's voice came over the wireless, "Starbuck, Galactica Actual. Return to the barn."

Her voice low and defeated, she answered, "Yes, sir."

Sam said to her, "This isn't the end, Kara." A new warning light appeared - an engine core temperature spike - and told him he was wrong. The other engines were about to explode. "Oh, frak me. Punching!"

He pulled the eject lever and the canopy exploded out of the way as the seat was shot into space.

His Viper went up in a fireball, a brief red and orange flower that died quickly in the endless darkness of space and the light of distant cold stars.

He heard Kara yell, "SAM!"

Wondering whether it would be kinder to let her know he'd survived the eject and was doomed to death by Cylon fire or suffocation, or let her think he'd been killed in the explosion, he hesitated but answered, "I'm here. Starbuck, I'm here."

"Sam!" she called again. "Oracle, respond. Sam, you frakker, answer me!"

His suit radio wasn't working; she couldn't hear him. More softly he said, "I love you, Kara. I always will."

He flicked the switch on his wrist to shut off the comm, so he wouldn't have to listen to her call for him. There was only the sound of his own breathing and his pulse pounding in his ears.

His chair had to be going at fairly impressive speed, but there was no sensation of movement at all. He could see the Galactica, gleaming in the light of New Caprica's sun, and some flashes of weapons fire exchanged with the enemy he couldn't see. Briefly he hoped that a Raptor might be heading his way -- if Sharon piloted, he'd know when she was close -- but then Galactica disappeared. He stared where the ship had been, trying to will it to come back. But space remained empty. The truth fell on him, heavy and slow. The fleet had jumped away.

If he turned his head, he could see the arc of New Caprica, tauntingly close with its atmosphere and humans on the ground. But he kept his gaze toward the stars and the glowing gases shrouding the system. Everything he saw was so far away …. He was less than a speck against the immensity of the universe around him.

He was going to die here, alone in the void.

Would he resurrect? Now that the Cylons had found them, was he going to wake up in a new body? He didn't think so, because surely if there were spare Anders bodies lying around on the Resurrection Ship, the Cylons on Caprica would have noticed.

But he found he didn't care. He wasn't afraid. He would be killed by the Raiders, who had to be close to his position by now, or he would die of suffocation when his air ran out. Either way he would die. He would wake up or he would not; he'd have a soul and would go with the gods, or he would not. None of it was in his hands anymore.

It seemed vaguely blasphemous to pray to the gods, when he didn't believe they existed, but he closed his eyes and murmured, "I don't know what I am, but I lived as a human, and I die as a human. I commend my soul, if I have one, to the Lords of Kobol. I pray for their mercy and guidance, and their protection for my friends in the fleet and on New Caprica." He thought about apologizing for being such a lousy human being when he'd believed he was one and for now even doubting that much. But if the gods were real, they knew all that anyway. And if the gods weren't real, confessing the rest didn't seem to matter. So all he said was, "So say we all."

The gods didn't answer, or if they did, it wasn't what he'd expected.

When he opened his eyes, a Raider was there, right in front of him. Its 'head' seemed large and its wings swept forward almost close enough to touch. He flinched and let out a gasp of surprise, grabbing for the sidearm strapped to his leg. But after a moment, he took his hand away. The Raider could've shot him from far away, and obviously had chosen not to. Was it curious about the lone human floating in space? Did it know?

The red sensor eye was bright when it went across him, then the light returned forward to fix on him. The Raider moved a little closer, matching his course and speed perfectly so it seemed they weren't moving at all.

He returned the look steadily, staring back into the reddish light. Was there some kind of connection? If he could just reach out somehow…. Was he really feeling its excitement or just imagining it?

No, it was real. The Raider had emotions, and he was feeling them, too. Because he was a Cylon. All his self-deception burned away in the light of that singular fire, and the truth he'd denied for more than a year was all that remained.

"I didn't want to believe it, and I still don't understand, but it's true, isn't it?" he asked aloud. "Nobody else knows, but you do." He laughed a little at the irony. "Well, are you going to shoot me, so I can wake up in a new body? Isn't that how it works? It would be better than suffocation…"

The Raider didn't shoot him and it didn't move away.

A moment later, he noticed more red flashes reflecting on the metal wings, and looked around to see that he was surrounded by Raiders. He could see six at least, all gathered in tight formation around him like a crowd of hungry sharks waiting to tear apart dinner. He shivered and his hand crept toward his sidearm, maybe to shoot at them, or maybe just shoot himself and get it over with.

The others backed off, widening their circle around him by at least ten meters, as if to say they meant no harm. He gasped out a breath, blinking because he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

He turned back to the one in front of him, which was still just as close, but now seemed more eager than threatening. He took two more deep breaths, calming down and keeping his gaze on the Raider. The communication deepened, and not only did the Raider not intend to hurt him, but he could feel its joy that he had finally returned home.

He wasn't sure whose crazy idea it was, but he knew what he was going to do. But he first warned the Raider aloud, "You can't tell the other Cylons what you know. You have to keep quiet, or I can't go with you. It has to be a secret."

The Raider seemed quizzical, not understanding why he would want something so wonderful kept a secret, but it gave a sense of agreement, and that told him he was safe to do this.

"Here goes nothing." Taking a deep breath and swallowing hard, he opened the release on his restraint harness and kicked free. His seat dropped away and he headed straight for the glowing light like a Pyramid ball heading for the goal.

He floated toward the narrow gap between the Raider's wings. With a frame of reference, his speed turned from theoretical to real, and the Raider got too close too fast. But his aim was true, and he hurtled between.

The metal skin of the Raider and the red light filled his vision.

He folded to let his legs take most of the impact, and hit to one side of the front intake, below the sensor slit.

"Oh frak!" he swore loudly as pain shot up his legs and then his hands, before his helmet smashed into the metal. And even though the breath had been knocked from him and his hands hurt like hell, he scrambled to find a hand hold before his momentum pushed him along the body and off the back.

He found the ridges where the wing joined the body and held on, pulling himself back into contact with the skin when his body tried to bounce away. With a bit of twisting, he managed to pull his legs up onto the wing.

Resting his helmet against its body, he breathed for a moment, eyes closed. His whole body throbbed, but he was alive. There was a faint rumbling sound under his ear, and he smiled tiredly to think it might be purring. "What the frak am I doing, hm?" he asked and freed one hand to rub it against the Raider's metal skin of the side of its head.

He slid a bit sideways as the Raider moved and lifted his head to see what was happening.

Light as a butterfly, the Raider banked in a turn, and he could see behind them, a formation of other Raiders as escort as far as he could see, red eyes sliding in unison.

His mouth dropped open and he felt light-headed. "This is crazy…" he whispered.

But it was happening anyway.

They flew on, until one of the base ships came into view, a gray spider gleaming with lights and windows. His heart was thumping and a bit of sweat trickled down his temple, but he held on to his ride and they kept going.

The base ship loomed hugely, blocking the stars. He looked in wonder at the graceful arms and shining lights. Some squads of Raiders hung in dock like strange spiky fruit on smooth grey branches.

His whole body hummed with the presence of Cylons. His enemy? His kind? Some frakked-up mixture of the two?

The Raider escort peeled away, as soon as he was on approach to a dock opening in the central stem.

The tiny ship flew inside, through a massive corridor that felt like being swallowed alive. And still they flew, onward, through more gates, past things that looked alive and other things that looked machine, and other things that looked unsettlingly like both.

Shudders wracked his body, as that sense of nearby Cylon gathered to a crescendo inside, and then faded away, overwhelmed or unneeded anymore.

The Raider slowed and floated down to land on a platform where Centurions waited.

There were also human-looking ones - two of the champagne-haired Sixes, a Sharon, and a Leoben. They were staring at him, surely a strange apparition in a Colonial flight suit riding a Raider. He opened the seal and took off the helmet. The Sixes and Sharon stepped back.

Four Centurions raised their arms in unison and pointed weapons at him.

The Raider beneath him screeched in warning, something high pitched and electronic and demanding, and Sam could feel it quivering beneath him, as it jumped a few feet up in the air.

"Stop!" Leoben called. "Stand down," he ordered the Centurions, who obeyed, putting up their weapons and standing still. He frowned up at Sam, and then gave a small contented smile. "Sam Anders. I knew you would come."

The Sixes shared a glance of recognition, and Sharon put a hand to her mouth in shock.

Sam patted the Raider, and it landed again. He rolled off the wing and onto the floor to stand in the strangely comforting safety in front of its head. Shooting pain went up his legs and he threw out a hand to catch himself, gritting his teeth. "I'm here," he called back. "I made a new friend."

"We can see that. How did you do that?" the Six in the black jacket asked, face furrowed in worry and confusion.

Sam shrugged. "I ejected; I was going to die. This one came to my rescue." Which was true, and then he lied: "I thought one of you must have sent him."

The skinjobs all shared another glance. "We didn't," the Sharon answered.

Leoben stepped forward. "I told you, you were special. And now even your eyes are opened to that truth. "

Sam met his gaze, and he nodded once. "I know what I've seen," he said, lifting his head to direct his words at all four of them. "I know your current path will lead to death and destruction and horror. I know it will cause more hatred between Human and Cylon, not less."

They looked troubled by his pronouncement, and then the Six in the blue shirt challenged, "How can you know that?"

He shrugged. "I know. I knew a year ago when people settled on the planet." Straightening he started to walk toward the Cylons, and every step sent stabbing pains through his ankles and up to his hips, getting worse, until he was clenching his jaw and his eyes were watering. He caught himself on a wing tip and lowered himself to the deck. "Frak."

Leoben was the first to approach, confidently walking up to him and kneeling at his side. "What's wrong?"

"I rammed feet-first into my new friend." Sam leaned back against the wing. "I think I was going too fast."

He rubbed at his legs, and Leoben's gaze flicked to his sidearm, a brief moment of doubt flashing through his expression. Sam fumbled with the holster, hands aching with the effort, and pulled out the gun by his fingertips, before sending it spinning away from him across the deck.

The Cylons all seemed stunned by his voluntary disarmament, watching the gun come to rest not far from a Centurion's foot. Then their eyes swung back to him, confusion and a little wonder creeping in to their faces.

"Something doesn't want me dead," he explained. "And I'm not here to hurt anyone."

"Why are you here?" Leoben murmured and his gaze was full of that same messianic light as when he'd seen Sam the first time.

"I don't know," he answered honestly. "But I know I should be."

The Six in blue stood at his feet, looking down at him with her arms folded around herself. Her sister in the black jacket and Sharon knelt on his other side, across from Leoben. Sam was sitting on a base ship with a frakking Raider at his back, and he hurt every where, but he knew this was right. That empty feeling that had dogged his soul since childhood was gone, replaced by absolute certainty.

"This is where I'm supposed to be."







The end of Season Two (Redux). Stay 'tuned' for Season Three:

Not All That We Are 2: At the Labyrinth Gates .

Notes for the story if you're interested in writerly mutterings about this story and its 'verse and things like that.

-
 
 
 
Kali: Anders- wisteria_altorogue on June 9th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
Oh I LIKE this! I can't wait to see how you're going to continue this- I always want more Sam Anders!
lizardbeth: Anders with ciglizardbeth_j on June 9th, 2008 03:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! It'll be a bit of a wait.
patron saint of neglected female characters: anders-musicrose_griffes on June 9th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
This is awesome. I loved it!
*does happy dance*

and maybe more in the future, woohoo!
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - Believethlizardbeth_j on June 9th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
Thank you! It was definitely fun for me, to create this new 'verse.

And yeah, definitely more, since it's EATEN MY BRAIN. :)
entertaining in a disturbing waylyssie on June 9th, 2008 03:31 am (UTC)
siiiiigh. You know I want more of this, right?

I think. I think the best bit is Sam taking the chamalla (STUPID BOY), and I'm not sure why, and--

Flying.

And Kara still being Kara, and him not wanting to settle on NewCap (yay).

And.

That there will be more.

Are you sure this was 16,000 words? It seemed to be much less. *pouts* (in other words, I finished it too fast).
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - Believethlizardbeth_j on June 9th, 2008 04:06 am (UTC)
*GRIN* Thanks!

The chamalla part is not at all careless or irrelevant, so I'm glad you liked that. :)

It's not even not wanting to settle; it's a literal physical aversion. He couldn't have done it, not for Kara, for nothing (except maybe drunk/stoned all the time, I guess).

And yeah, more. I've had dreams about this 'verse and the things that are gonna happen. Craaaaazy...
entertaining in a disturbing way: anders starbuck mk2lyssie on June 10th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
I didn't think it was irrelevant. I'm good with it being prophetical/future visions. Because drugs do wacky wacky things to you.

He couldn't have done it, not for Kara, for nothing (except maybe drunk/stoned all the time, I guess). Oh, I know. I was just being short-hand about it. Also. Possibly amused.

*makes grabby hands and pouts*
Mayhem Parva: (ls-silence) Kara Sam tattoosraincitygirl on June 9th, 2008 03:47 am (UTC)
Eeeeeek! I hate cliffhangers.
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders -Demetriuslizardbeth_j on June 9th, 2008 04:07 am (UTC)
Hopefully this was enough to tide you over for a bit - I am not very quick, I'm afraid! :)
Silver: BSG -- Sharonsilverblade219 on June 10th, 2008 06:41 am (UTC)
This is very interesting. Glad to see that there will be more eventually.

Though I'm kind of curious on how/if he reacted to the other 'five' cylons.
lizardbeth: Anders with ciglizardbeth_j on June 10th, 2008 06:01 pm (UTC)
thanks!

The answer is no, the other four are not 'online' yet, so he doesn't know who they are. There is a hint of them, and if he knew what he was looking for he could probably figure it out, but he's not ready yet.
Artemisartemis_90 on June 10th, 2008 07:49 am (UTC)
Oh my, how incredibly original - I'm curious about the next season (but please, do not take so long as SciFi hiatus ;> )

lizardbeth: Anders with ciglizardbeth_j on June 10th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
thanks! heh, no, MY hiatus will be (knock wood) not Skiffy-length!
alle, alle auch sind frei: BSG//i'm leoben.thedaytheystop on June 10th, 2008 09:59 am (UTC)
Oh, I LOVED this! Everything fit together so well--the reasoning for why he is how he is, why he does what he does, all just shifted that fraction because of what he learns when. I love the details about his life and his conversations with Sharon and the ending - I'm so curious now about how much the other cylons know. This was excellent and I hope you continue it at some point! :) :)
lizardbeth: Anders - with youlizardbeth_j on June 10th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
thank you, I'm glad everything seemed to work well! These are the kind of fanfic that I really, really love to write - taking that one change and then seeing how the dominoes fall down.

I'm working on the sequel now, so hopefully it won't take TOO long (though I am possibly the slowest fic writer on the face of the Earth, so it won't be, like, tomorrow either!)
Jeffrepr0b8 on June 10th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
Really, really enjoying what you've done here. This is the 2nd time you've created an AU that I want to write in. Mad props, and I'm looking forward to the rest.
lizardbeth: Anders - with youlizardbeth_j on June 10th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
thank you, dude! *grin* That's a very high compliment that you want to write in it! :) (and if you really want to, let me know - lord knows I've left gaps aplenty that I wouldn't mind someone else filling in...)

cujoycujoy on June 11th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
That is awesome. And just like BSG to end us with a cliffhanger. ;) I can't wait to read the rest.

I have also been very intrigued by the hints dropped by Leoben about Sam and his destiny. And seeing Sam dealing with his Cylonicity from the beginning puts such a cool spin on the idea.

I can't wait for the rest.
lizardbeth: Anders - with youlizardbeth_j on June 11th, 2008 07:38 am (UTC)
Of course, I had to end "the season" on a cliffhanger! I'm just as big a tease as Ron and Skiffy - if not more so! :P

Thank you! I swear more is in development, but Lords know, encouragement is always a good thing to make sure I finish.
Allison: k/a helmet-headfrolicndetour on June 12th, 2008 06:59 pm (UTC)
Finally! Okay:

Man, I can't get over all the details from the show you've included, and shown how they were changed (or not) by Sam's self-awareness. I particularly loved the scene with him and Kara listening to the election results.

Good call that Kara would be more or less down with Sam having visions. I love the way you write her. Still snarky. ;) And the way their relationship is somewhat different with Sam a bit more clued in.

The vision is so spooky, and reminds me that Sam isn't going to be in the Resistance, so that would change things too. The part with the dying Cylons is chilling... the virus? Hmmm.

I also liked the scene with Sharon - I like those kinds of conversations where one party has an agenda that the other is completely unaware of the other level they're operating on.

"The universe trembles in fear," he retorted dryly and lifted her hand to his lips, serious again. "You're always saving me. Thank you."

She snickered. "You seem to need rescuing a lot."

"Someday I'll save you again," he promised.


I loved this part the first time I read it. Not so much after that. ;) Damn foreshawdowing.

The end is just thrilling - you did a great job of describing the "battle" scene and the raider recognizing Sam and the encounter with the Cylons. I'm so excited! I hope your hiatus is shorter than Skiffy's. Or I'm going to have to starting writing speculation meta about your AU. ;)

Edited at 2008-06-12 07:04 pm (UTC)
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders -Demetriuslizardbeth_j on June 13th, 2008 04:53 am (UTC)
Thank you! *preens* :) yay, lengthy comment means I can natter on... *g*

And the way their relationship is somewhat different with Sam a bit more clued in.

Yes. I struggle to DEFINE how it's different, but it is. His being an oracle definitely changes how he relates to her (not to mention the secret) and she to him. But I think she would definitely appreciate and understand the visions as coming from the gods and therefore something to be protected and listened to, rather than dismissed.

heh, foreshadowing. :) My favorite technique .

I hope your hiatus is shorter than Skiffy's. Or I'm going to have to starting writing speculation meta about your AU. ;)

You made me laugh with this. Spec meta!!!! Wow, no one's ever said that before. Cookie?

Seriously, I'm glad you liked it. And as soon as the finale is over with, I'll get back to it. Feel free to poke me every once in a while, too - prodding helps.

mneiaimneiai on June 17th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
Ooh, I really liked this. It was great to see your take on Sam's Cylon-ness, and the visions were interesting, too. I'm really interested to see how the third season is going to go!
lizardbeth: Anders with ciglizardbeth_j on June 17th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC)
thanks! :) It was fun to write, so I'm glad it was fun to read too!
The Incurable Weirdness Poster Childhobbit_feet on August 17th, 2008 06:06 am (UTC)
OH MY GOSH! That ending was amazing and perfect, I can't wait to see how you continue this 'verse. I absolutely loved everything, but in particular parts that stuck with me were the chamalla bit, which had such beautiful description, Kara's reaction to the chamalla overdose *g*, and Sam's interaction with the Cylon Raider. This is a very cool piece of writing and I can't wait to see the third season.
lizardbeth: Anders with ciglizardbeth_j on August 17th, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
thank you! I'm glad you tried the story!

The chamalla vision and the end with the raider were the two scenes that pulled me into writing this - they were so vivid and complete, I knew I had to write them. So it's very gratifying to know I was able to share MY vision and have it appreciated. :)
kag523 on June 15th, 2011 02:28 am (UTC)
More fantastic twists! I really love how you've taken bits and pieces of canon and made them mesh together into something absolutely new. Really wonderful! Everyone FEELS like they should! I could totally buy into something like this happening! :>D
lizardbeth: Anders-Thealizardbeth_j on June 15th, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you

I'm happy you're enjoying it, I hope you like the rest, too!
kag523 on June 15th, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)
Honey - YOU wrote it! *grins* Of course I will! :>D
Deborah: K/L w/cylon by lisbuffdeborah_judge on June 28th, 2011 04:16 am (UTC)
This is all very interesting. I like the idea of cylon!Sam making a connection with the other rebel cylons.