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09 December 2008 @ 12:58 pm
Fic: At the Labyrinth Gates 1/5  
Series: Not all that we are 2
Characters: Sam, Kara, Cylons, ensemble
Pairing: Kara/Anders
Rating: R
Spoilers: Through 3.20; though this is an AU of Season 3.
Summary: The Cylon Occupation of New Caprica begins. Sam finds that trying to avert his nightmare of the future draws it ever closer, while Kara wants desperately to change the past.

Notes: This is the direct sequel to Not All That We Are . I highly encourage you to read that one first. This picks up immediately where that one left off. Also, this story is no more adult/graphic than canon, IMO, but be warned that this version of the Occupation has some pretty brutal scenes later on. If you want fluffy happy fic, these are not the droids you're looking for.

Thank you to sabaceanbabe for taking up the beta duties for this one too (even though it's almost three times as long!), and to lucyparavel for reading snippets in progress and listening to me whine about it. Okay. Here we go. *deep breath*

Previously in 'Not All That We Are' .... (if you'd like a short refresher first)

At the Labyrinth Gates

What is the most basic article of faith? This is not all that we are.
- Leoben

Chapter One

No. This couldn't be happening.

Kara stared at the fading colors of the explosion where Sam's Viper had been. "SAM!" she yelled into the comm. "Oracle, respond!" Still nothing. "Sam, you frakker, answer me!"

He had punched out. He had said he was punching out. He had to be out there somewhere. He had to.

As she listened, holding her breath and straining to hear the slightest whisper over the comm, she worried that she wouldn't hear anything over the thudding of her heart in her ears. But there was no answer.

Her hand tightened on the stick, ready to flip the ship and go back to look for him.

As if he knew her thoughts, Helo's voice came over the wireless, making her jump. "Starbuck, Galactica. We read no comm signal from Oracle." He paused for a moment and then his voice tightened up, "You are cleared for combat landing. Hurry back to the barn."

She couldn't acknowledge for a moment, her brain refusing to parse what that meant. Her eyes dropped to DRADIS, but there was nothing on it except a hundred Raiders gaining on her tail.

Get back. All she had to do was get back to the ship.

Her hands directed her Viper seemingly without her mind's involvement, guiding her ship to the landing bay. She didn't have to worry about any other ships coming in hot behind her, and she let hers slam to a stop in the middle of the bay.

The Viper was still shuddering when she heard Helo's all-hands over the wireless to prepare for jump.

The universe held its breath for an instant, and Galactica was away.

Her hands balled into fists so tight the seams of the gloves cut into her skin.

* * *

It was the quickest trip she'd ever made to CIC.

"Admiral, I need a Raptor. I can jump back -- I know the exact coordinates where Sam punched out, and I can --" she started but Adama interrupted her.

"Starbuck." That was all he had to say. A small shake of his head and she knew it was denied.

She bit her lip hard, and then blurted, "We can't leave him behind!"

"We left a lot of people behind," Adama said heavily. "At least Anders knew why."

Helo stepped to her side, took a deep breath, and explained, "We lost his signal when his position was swarmed by Raiders. Even assuming he punched out, there's nothing to go back for." His voice was gentle, his eyes even more so as he delivered the news that punched her in the gut.

She stared up at him and shook her head once, feeling hollow and desperate. "No. That can't be. He said -- " her voice threatened to crack and she shut up. She was not going to break down in the middle of CIC. If she bit her lip hard enough she could concentrate on that little pain and ignore the tightness in her chest. But still her voice couldn't get above a whisper. "He said it wasn't the end."

Helo's large hand squeezed her shoulder and that was nearly enough. She jerked away, staring at the situation board and taking deliberate breaths until the burning in her eyes subsided.

Galactica. Pegasus. A handful of civilian ships. That was all.

"Helo, take nav. Plot another jump," the Admiral ordered.

"Course?" Helo asked, moving up to the nav station.

Adama joined Kara, looking up at the board. "Anywhere. Just away. But we'll be back."

"We will?" Kara asked.

"When we're ready, we're coming back to get our people," he promised her.

She nodded, and didn't speak the thought that sprang to her mind:

It was already too late for at least one of them.

* * *

Sam gave the Raider one last pat on the wing. He tried to feel amused by the irony of walking anywhere with his arms across the shoulders of two Cylons, but the shooting pains from his ankles and lower leg made walking difficult and he was glad for the help. The Six under his left arm, who was wearing a blue, short-sleeved blouse, and the Two - Leoben - were both tall and strong enough he could lean on them. Another Six with a short black jacket over a tank top and an Eight who wasn't Sharon followed.

As they walked, he shivered with the realization of just how accurate his vision had been of the baseship. The lighting was stark with white and red predominant, the walls plain and metallic, and the air was humid but cool. He searched the faces of those he saw, but he couldn't know which of them, if any, he'd seen dead and dying in the vision.

They passed a few Centurions standing quiet sentinel, who didn't move anything except their eyes. His heart didn't jump at the human-form Cylons, but each bullethead made him want to reach for a gun.

The corridors all looked the same, and he knew he'd never find the way back to the docking bay without help.

But eventually they passed through a wide doorway and into what had to be the Cylon infirmary. There was some unfamiliar equipment, and two examination beds. He held onto one, and unzipped his flight suit, shrugging it off his shoulders.

"Here, let me help," blue-shirt Six offered and pulled the suit down his legs. With a gentle push, she urged him to sit on the bed so she could strip the whole thing. When she straightened, suit in hand, she ran a hand across the fabric and folded it carefully onto the other bed as if it was something precious.

Sam lifted his feet to look at his legs and frowned - even inside the plain grey socks, his ankles seemed to be swelling already and throbbed with a constant ache. With a bit of a sigh, he let them dangle again and sat there in his underwear, feeling self-conscious and apprehensive. Coming here might have been a bad idea. Not that dying out in space had been a good idea, either…

The Cylons gathered close like curious cats, with no sense of his personal space at all. When he felt a hand on his back he half-expected it, so he didn't flinch. He turned his head to see the Eight, who gave him a shy smile as she took her hand away. "You feel warm," she murmured.

A Four entered and looked a bit nonplussed when he saw his patient. "What's he doing here?"

"He had to eject from his Viper," blue-shirt Six answered, "and a Raider rescued him."

Four stared at Sam and lifted his brows. "Rescued him?" he repeated incredulously.

"Like the dolfinas on Picon," Sam explained helpfully and smiled when all the Cylons gave him a look, as if they were surprised he could talk. "I threw myself at the Raider, caught on and it towed me here. But I think I landed too hard, because it hurts like hell to walk."

Four ignored him. "You want me to help fix this Colonial officer?" he emphasized incredulously, as if they'd somehow missed that Sam was one of the enemy.

The Eight answered eagerly, "This is Sam Anders, the one Caprica and Sharon have talked about. The one who helped them see that the attack on the Colonies was a mistake."

Sam opened his mouth to correct her but then shut it again, knowing he had to be careful. The Eight was talking about when he'd been trapped in the garage with the Cylon women. He hadn't made them see the attacks had been a mistake; they'd come up with that on their own.

But he wasn't going to argue, since that influence was probably the only thing keeping him alive at the moment. He shrugged. "All I said was I was tired of killing and I wanted a better way."

On his right, Leoben glanced at him, frowning. "You convinced them you meant it."

"I did," he answered and corrected hastily, "I do. Don't you?"

"Yes," Six answered. "We do. When our ships picked up the radiological sign, we thought your fleet was in danger. And now we see so many humans living in terrible conditions on that barely habitable planet. We want to help you."

Her face was earnest, and he saw the same good intentions on the other Six and the Eight, who nodded. Leoben was merely watching him curiously. The Four was glowering at him as if a particularly large roach had crawled into the middle of the floor. So Sam turned back to the more friendly Sixes and Eight again.

He'd been afraid of something terrible happening on New Caprica for so long - to have it completely upended like this was hard to grasp. The Cylons had come in peace. No, it was better than peace: they had come to help.

"That's… amazing," he said. "Really. That you would even think about helping. I can… hardly believe such a change."

"It was Caprica and Sharon," the other Six added. "They showed us how the attacks were a sin against God. And we…" she looked at the other models and they all nodded, including Four, "we agreed. Even the others realized we were right."

"Does that change what you said when you came aboard?" Leoben asked. "You said that you saw destruction and death in our path."

"I -- " he began haltingly, struck by the question, and he had to admit, "I don't know. Knowing you're here to help… it should change things, right?" he asked, confused. "I felt it so strongly -- New Caprica was going to be a disaster. I couldn't even step on the surface without feeling sick. I warned friends against settling there, because I knew they'd die. I had a vision --" he blinked, seeing again that flash from his chamalla-induced hallucination, and murmured, "they were buried in a pit. So many dead…"

"We're not going to do that." He felt a hand on his knee and opened his eyes again to see the Six in blue leaning close. "We're here to help," she repeated again, in soft promise.

He thought about New Caprica. He hoped he wouldn't know anything anymore, and yet that same anxiety clutched him and the echo of wrong, wrong pressed on him.

His eyes met hers and he shook his head. "I still feel this sense of dread when I think of New Caprica. I know it sounds strange and Gods know I wouldn't believe me, if I were you, but -- we shouldn't be here. None of us, Cylons or Humans."

The Cylons all exchanged looks. "We'll have to speak to the others," the Eight said finally. "Caprica and Sharon should hear about this."

"The Humans are still here," Four pointed out. "Obviously they didn't listen to one of their own. Why should we?"

Leoben shot him an irritated glance. "Because he's a messenger. We should listen to messengers from God, even if the humans are too foolish."

Six intervened, when the Four looked annoyed. "We don't have a consensus yet. In the meantime, you should take a look and see how he's hurt. We already decided we're here to help the humans, so we should start with the one on our ship."

Giving in with a breath, Four turned to Sam and gestured. "Lay back."

Sam stretched out on the bed and watched as a machine of some kind lowered from the ceiling - it had red hanging tubes above it that reminded him queasily of veins. The Cylons stepped away at a gesture - there was a high-pitched hum and popping noise, and then Four answered, "Done. The result will take a moment."

He sat up and noticed other Cylons lingering near the doorway also watching: two more Eights and what he first thought was a Three, but turned out to be a Six with unusual light brown hair. Word had started to spread about the strange visitor.

The results were what Sam expected - thin fractures in his ankles and one in his right shin. Only his flight suit boots had saved him from worse. Four wrapped his lower legs and ankles with long stretch bandages and then handed him two recognizable yellow pills grudgingly, "Here. We carry some human medicines for those who aren't injured badly enough to download. We don't have the facilities to do more for your injuries."

Sam bit his tongue on a sarcastic observation that the Cylons could make breeding farms but not know how to put his foot in a cast. But it wasn't smart to go around provoking people he was trapped on a ship with. He said only, "Thank you." Sam swallowed the pills dry and hoped they went to work quickly. The bandaging had made him hurt worse and he wanted to kick himself for not remembering such basic concepts as mass and acceleration.

Then he looked at the Cylons. "What now?"

It was apparent that none of them knew either.

So then he glanced down at his bare legs, back at the nearest Six, and smiled ruefully. "Do you have pants I could borrow?"

She smiled back, amused, and at that moment, it seemed as though this adventure might end up all right.

* * *

Sharon escaped from Colonial One as quickly as she could, disquieted by the humans' surrender. She hadn't wanted them to surrender, preferring a partnership and building of trust, but the others believed a show of force would help the humans understand they had no choice. Maybe that was true, but now there were two battlestars somewhere out there and she doubted Adama would keep them away forever. Hopefully when he came back, he'd see that the Cylons wanted only to help.

Moving past the perimeter of Centurions into the Cylon landing site, she was met by two other Eights. She'd gotten over flinching whenever she saw another copy of herself, but it still bothered her when they spoke in tandem like these two were doing. "Sharon, we need you on the baseship. One of the Raiders took Sam Anders prisoner. You knew him before…"

The other one continued, "… so you can decide what we do with him. The Eight on the ship seems persuaded by what he says, but we don't know …"

"… It seems very strange."

Sharon listened to this with a feeling of inevitability. Sam Anders, the C-Bucs player and resistance fighter, was a prisoner of the Cylons. Again. It had taken a little while to convince the others to withdraw from the Colonies, and she had hoped every day when Centurions went out to capture or kill the resistance, that he wouldn't be killed. More for Kara's sake really, but that didn't change the fact that she had wanted him to live.

She hadn't wanted to mention his name in the debate, but Caprica had told the others that if even the leader of the resistance was tired of killing and wanted a different way to live, then surely the Cylons could do no less.

Now he was back in Cylon hands, and she wondered with a very uneasy feeling in her gut, exactly what the others might decide to do to him. She'd saved him once - and she was certainly going to try again - but it wasn't her decision this time. Even speaking for the Eights might not be enough if the other models disagreed.

She was preparing to lift-off in the Heavy Raider when the ramp abruptly lowered again. A Six entered, and Sharon smiled in greeting. "You heard the news?" she asked as Caprica took a seat beside her.

Caprica didn't smile back. "I did."

"Looks like we might have to save him again. If," she glanced at Caprica, and felt uncertain suddenly, "that's what you're planning to do."

Caprica looked startled by her doubt, which made Sharon feel better. "Of course."

"I wasn't sure, now that you've found Baltar again..." Sharon trailed off into awkwardness.

But Caprica smiled, her eyes alight with love. "Gaius. It's a miracle he's here. He's alive."

"I'm happy for you." And she was - even if she was envious, too. She wondered about Galen, where he was, if he was out in the tent city, but then she pushed it away, not wanting to fall into girlish fantasies. He wasn't going to welcome her return with a smile as Baltar had. No one would. She reminded herself that was why they were there; the humans had to learn there was nothing to fear anymore.

Caprica continued, sounding more practical, "But he can wait. We came here to bring them the word of God, and Anders is a part of it."

Sharon dampened her lips with her tongue. "The Threes aren't --"

Caprica interrupted sharply, "Even they agree with the plan."

"They're going along with the plan," Sharon corrected. "They don't agree. And all the Threes know you killed one of them for him." She didn't have to add that the Threes were still pissed about that. Sharon thought it was appalling D'Anna hated being killed for a human, more than the 'death' itself.

Caprica's gaze flickered toward the screen, watching the curve of the planet falling away beneath them, and she shook her head once, murmuring, "Remember when she dropped the gun to taunt him? He didn't pick it up - she did. She failed the test. And now he's here again, unarmed… " Her hand reached across the space between them and seized Sharon's arm in a tight, earnest grip. "Don't you see? God is testing us -- testing our will and the strength of our ideals. God wants to see which of us will pick up another gun and who will stop it again."

Nodding her agreement, Sharon nonetheless felt a prickle of unease. Not because she thought Caprica was wrong, but because she felt Caprica was right, and a part of her didn't want to believe. She professed her belief in the Cylon God, because the other Eights did and she was supposed to, but she still thought about the Lords of Kobol first.

Slowly but surely though, belief was creeping in, and she wished it didn't feel quite so much like losing herself.

* * *

Leoben had one of Sam's arms across his shoulder, while the blue-shirt Six kept Sam's other arm. Sam dubbed her mentally as Thea, after a girl from high school who'd helped him from the gym in the same way, that time Jonny Latrean had gone for a lay-up and landed on Sam's leg. He suspected trying to individualize Cylons was a futile proposition, but he had to call her something, if only in his own head, since she seemed to want to hang around.

The other Six who'd met the Raider, the one in the black jacket - now mentally Drea, Thea's sister - was on Thea's other side, and spoke softly, "Sister, to bring him to consensus…"

Leoben heard too, and interrupted, "If we decide his fate, he should be present."

Thea corrected, "He should speak, and tell them what he knows."

Drea shook her head. "The other models won't approve of a human intruding."

"They need to listen to him," Thea declared stubbornly.

The darker-haired Six drew nearer, addressing Thea. "You're so taken with this human?" Sam couldn't tell if she hated the idea or was intrigued by it.

"You didn't see," Thea told her. "The Raider brought him here. Saved him, so he could bring his message to us. How could we ignore it?"

The dark blonde Six glanced at Sam. "You know what the Ones will say," she warned.

"They're wrong," Leoben said. "They have always been wrong."

The Sixes glared at him for interrupting their conversation, but no one disputed what he said.

"Caprica's here," Drea said. "She has experience with him from before."

Sam listened to the Cylons, trying to get a feeling for what was going on. The painkillers hadn't kicked in yet, which made it hard to concentrate, but he knew he had to. If he wanted to survive this, he was going to have to learn the rules of this new game. There was no injured reserve when his life was at stake.

Which didn't help when each step made his ankles stab with pain. He realized he was digging his fingers into Leoben's upper arm, and tried to relax his grip. "Sorry."

"You're not hurting me," he replied mildly. But there was nothing mild in his eyes as he glanced at Sam and murmured, as if he was quoting something, "Enemies shall walk together as brothers." Which sounded familiar to Sam, like it came from the sacred scrolls, but he couldn't remember the whole phrase. His brain refused to dig for the reference from his first foster mother's 'proper' religious education, when he only wanted to get the hell off his feet.

Finally, the previously featureless corridor led into a large open room, which appeared to be some sort of control room. Large screens made of falling water hung above narrow tables, where more water ran in troughs over small blocks of red and yellow lights. The water seemed restful and less alien than the intense white and red lights everywhere.

There were no obvious buttons, though he saw one of the Fives with his hand in the water and his eyes closed, and realized that he was interfacing with the ship in some way. Sam jerked his gaze away at first, finding it disturbing and odd, but forced himself to look again. They were Cylons, not humans, and he had to remember that.

There were, it seemed, no chairs in the whole place, but Thea and Leoben led him to a water-filled basin on a pedestal, which was either some kind of control panel or a sink. She did something to it, so the water drained out. "Sit on this."

"Thank you." Perching on the edge to take his weight off his ankles helped some, and for a moment, he concentrated on breathing. His heart rate remained stubbornly fast and loud in his own ears, and his legs throbbed with it, making him queasy.

He tried to distract himself by looking around. The Five across the way, who was wearing a noxious blue velvet suit Sam was fairly sure he'd last seen on a club manager two years ago on Caprica, took his hand out and turned to look straight at Sam. His expression tightened with revulsion, and Sam faced him, not knowing whether a show of friendliness would appear like weakness. So he didn't smile, just kept his face neutral and calm.

Then Five faced the Sixes. "What is he doing here? Humans are forbidden from the control center."

"There is no such rule," the brown-haired Six told him. "And if you want to make a rule, you'll have to wait until the full consensus forms."

The Five snorted and put his back to Sam with a dramatic gesture of disgust, and Sam couldn't help rolling his eyes. Thea saw and her lips twitched in a secret shared smile.

The smile faded at the sound of more people approaching and Sam took a deep breath as anxiety tightened his middle. He tried to hold onto the feeling that he was supposed to be here, supposed to be doing this, but as the skinjobs filed into the room, it all seemed like a particularly stupid idea.

Another of the pale-haired Sixes entered, with two Eights flanking her. One was the same Eight from earlier, escorting Sharon and Caprica. Then he frowned, wondering how he knew. He glanced between the three platinum blond Sixes - except for their clothing, his eyes told him they were identical. But they weren't. On some other level - a Cylon level? - they felt different and familiar. Perhaps this was a new refinement of the chills he'd had in their presence before.

"Sam?" Sharon said, with a smile. "I'm glad to see you again."

"Sharon," he smiled back, "and Caprica, looking much better than when I saw you last."

Caprica blinked in surprise then nodded. "Yes. You too." She glanced down at his legs, clad in pants borrowed from a Four, and the bandaged ankles beneath. "Though I heard you were hurt."

"Yeah. I won't be running away any time soon," he joked, but it was too true to be actually funny.

They were interrupted by another entrance, and Sam lifted his head to see one of each of the rest of the models enter. He got a little shiver when he realized the Three was looking right at him, and while he didn't think she was the same one he'd been near before, he had the feeling it wasn't going to matter a lot.

Cavil moved to the middle of the floor and turned slowly, taking note of who was there. His eyes slid right over Sam, pointedly ignoring him. "What are you doing?" he demanded. "We have important work spreading the word of God to the humans," his voice lingered sarcastically over 'word of God', "and you interrupt to deal with one insignificant human? Why is there even a question? Interrogate him about the missing battlestars."

"No," Caprica objected. "This is Sam Anders. It can't be a coincidence that the Raider rescued him and brought him to us."

"Of course it's not a coincidence," Cavil agreed impatiently. "The Raider has defective priorities, and took a prisoner when it should have killed. Where is the Raider now? We need to box it."

Sam started with alarm at the thought that they were going to do something to his Raider. But there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop them, he knew, and waited tensely for the answer.

The dark-haired Six shook her head. "It flew away and we have no way to identify it."

Sam was relieved it had disappeared into the mass of all the Raiders and kept his secret. At his side, Thea glanced at him, noting his reaction, and she slipped a hand over his, giving his fingers a quick squeeze.

Cavil demanded, "You didn't restrain it, even though it was clearly defective?" He shook his head and rolled his eyes. "When it keeps taking prisoners, you're going to feel ridiculous ascribing some sort of supernatural meaning to broken programming and a human making up stories to stay alive."

Many of them nodded, some of the Sixes shifted uneasily, and the Eights - even Sharon - glanced around at the others.

But Leoben didn't seem to have any doubts. He confronted Cavil from Sam's left with a steady voice and zealous eyes. "The Raider brought him to us, because he has a message from God."

"Oh really?" Cavil finally faced Sam and sneered, "Let me guess. We should leave."

Sam knew this was his big chance, maybe his only chance. He pushed away the mass of nerves that threatened to strangle him, lifted his chin and faced Cavil down. "Nobody belongs here: not you, not me, not the humans down there already. That much I know."

"And what makes you so sure?" Three asked, stalking forward. Her voice was a purring taunt. "Did you cast some bones in the water? Isn't that what human oracles do? Invoke your false idols with a chant and a dead chicken?"

He tightened his jaw from reacting against the slur on the Lords of Kobol and answered with his voice carefully neutral, "I saw it. I feel it, even now. Being here is wrong."

"Big surprise," Cavil retorted with dripping sarcasm.

"You always scorn what you don't understand," Leoben told him. "Anders tells us what we should already know - this effort is doomed."

"Well, that's quite a change, isn't it?" Cavil said. "Less than a day ago, you were adamant that our path leads to New Caprica to show the poor lost lambs the word of God."

"Our path did lead us to New Caprica. But you were against it," Leoben pointed out. "And now you argue to stay."

"I'm not going to change the plan now, just because one lone human thinks it's a bad idea," Cavil retorted, glaring back. "But I suppose that's what happens when you believe the vague natterings of an insane machine are also the 'voice of God'."

"Nobody's changing the plan," Caprica cut in before Leoben could tell Cavil how wrong he was. "This is a test. We need to be careful that we show them love."

"We need to learn to live in peace," Sharon added firmly. "That's what we decided, because the attacks on the Colonies were a sin. That hasn't changed."

They all looked to Leoben. He shook his head. "Everything has changed. We shouldn't be here. But if we stay, then certainly our purpose is to help."

"Then it's decided," Caprica said with a bright smile, as if cutting off any other possible dissent. "Our plan of helping the humans and bringing them the word of God remains in effect."

Sam stirred, parted his lips to tell them this was the wrong choice, but he shut his mouth. It was happening again -- he warned them and warned them and nobody listened. What good was it to know the future if no one would heed him?

"And the human?" Doral asked.

D'Anna smiled at Sam. "Interrogate him about where the battlestars went."

His stomach seemed to drop at the threat, but his voice was steady. "I was floating in space when they jumped. I have no idea."

"Oh, but if you're an oracle and you have visions, shouldn't you know?" she asked, with honeyed mockery.

"Stop," Caprica declared, stepping between them. "Enough. No interrogation. Showing humans the love of God starts with him."

"You can't protect him forever, sister," D'Anna warned softly, but she moved away and Sam had the feeling he'd just escaped.

"Drop him on New Caprica with the rest of his kind," Simon suggested. Several of the Cylons nodded with the suggestion, and Sam thought that was the most reasonable thing he'd heard a Cylon say.

Five snorted. "You want to put a known insurgent leader on New Caprica? You know he won't waste time plotting ways to kill us."

"Or getting other Cylons to do it," D'Anna said, with a sneer at Caprica.

Agreement with them came from an unexpected quarter. From beside him, Thea said, "Sam came to us. I don't believe it was just an accident or flaw in the Raider's programming - God brought him here for a reason. He should stay with us until we find what it is."

Cavil listened to her and then threw up his hands in surrender, sighing. "You want to keep a human as a pet, be my guest. But he doesn't interfere with our operations. He's interfered too much already."

Caprica glanced at the other Sixes, saw no dissent, and said, "We agree."

Sharon jumped in quickly, "Agreed."

"Agreed," Leoben added.

"He should be in a cell and interrogated," Five said, paused, and added with great distaste, "We agree."

Simon still looked grumpy, but said nothing.

"Take him out of here," Cavil ordered. "We have other business to discuss, since we're all present."

Caprica and Thea exchanged a glance, and then Thea slipped an arm around Sam's waist. "Come with me," she urged softly. Leoben also pulled Sam's arm across his shoulder to help him.

Sam thought about asking whether Leoben shouldn't stay, but when he was back on his feet and turned toward the door, he saw that another copy of Leoben had slipped into the room at some point.

He gave Sam a slight smile as they passed him, and it struck Sam how it was exactly the same smile he'd seen on the one beside him. They were the same. Only their shirts were different.

Cylons. He was on a Cylon ship, surrounded by Cylons. They hadn't ordered him tortured or killed. Gods. His body broke into shivers, and he wished he had on more than tanks, since the cold seemed to have settled in a big lump of ice in his chest. To distract himself from how weird everything was and where he hurt, he cleared his throat and commented to Leoben, "So, I see you're not the only one who looted the Sisters of Mercy thrift stores for your clothes."

On the other side, Thea snickered. "So we've told him, many times."

"We took what was unwanted," Leoben explained. "Clothes aren't important."

Sam - who'd once been under contract to wear only one brand of outerwear, even when they had to custom-make everything to fit him - would have disagreed, but he was pretty sure if he opened his mouth, he'd make a really embarrassing sound or lose everything in his stomach, so he clenched his jaw and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. Every step was like walking on knives.

They got in a lift and when the doors opened again, it wasn't far to a spacious room that had a bed in the middle of it. It was surreal to have the bed and its maroon satin sheets looking so human in such alien surroundings, but he was glad to see it. With a sigh, he hobbled to it and crawled across it. It was short for his height, but that didn't matter when he raised his legs on the headboard in an effort to slow the swelling. He bunched the smooth coverlet into his fists. "Frak," he muttered, closing his eyes and giving in to the pain rising like a tide through him. "Frakking Gods."

The mattress dipped as Thea sat beside him. "Those pills Four gave you aren't working?" she asked.

"Not yet."

He jerked when he felt something cool on his face, then realized it was a damp cloth, wiping at his sweaty forehead gently. "Try to rest," she coaxed him. "You're safe. You have time to heal."

Safe. He wanted to laugh - he was in the middle of a Cylon basestar, with two skinjobs in the same room, and there were Centurions out in the hall - but he was safe.

Pulsing red light highlighted her pale hair and the intense white lights made the shadows fall oddly across her, turning her lovely face into something strange and fearful.

"What am I? Your prisoner? Is Cavil right? Am I your human pet?" he asked, looking from her to Leoben who was standing behind her.

Leoben didn't smile and his gaze didn't waver. "Our oracle."

She nodded her agreement, and her fingers caressed damp hair back from his face. "They didn't see the Raider bring you in and defend you against the Centurions, or let you rest against it like you were its master. That couldn't be defective programming - that was the hand of God. You were brought to us for a reason. Not New Caprica, I don't think. Something… bigger."

He shook his head, about to speak and tell her that was all he had, but she slipped a finger across his lips, silencing him. "We'll find out together, Sam."

They believed him, he realized. They thought he was human and they still believed him. It was what he had wanted, and yet suddenly he thought he could handle torture much better than this. Their belief felt oppressive, too heavy to carry, and panic welled up in his throat. He wanted to shout at the Gods that he was just a frakking pyramid player, and they should leave him alone.

Shutting his eyes to block it out, he had a sudden thought of Kara, somewhere out there with Galactica. She believed him too, but in a human way, with teasing and eye rolling. Gods, he wanted to go home.

Seizing their combined tags in his fingers, he imagined himself back in the clunky human-ness of the old ship rather than the sleek sameness of the basestar, the scent of fifty years of machine oil and cleaning fluid and people crammed into a small space, and the soft feel of her skin under his hands.

* * *

Kara sat on the floor and threw the Pyramid ball against the opposite wall. Each time it came back, she caught it with a solid thump against her palm.

The hatch opened but Kara didn't look up, bouncing the ball with a moody thwack. The only one who'd dare to come in here was Helo, and she was going to throw the ball at his head if he talked to her.

Instead, she heard a female voice. "Starbuck?"

Kara caught the ball and glanced up to see Nora waddling closer. She had thought a month ago that Nora was going to explode, now every time she saw Nora, she braced for the kid to pop out. She looked uncomfortable as all hell. "Sit down, Buzzer." She jerked her head toward the opposite rack and Nora eased herself down with a relieved sigh.

"Gods, I can't wait to have this kid," Nora said with heartfelt prayer. "Ishay says any time. I'm glad she has some experience with deliveries, since the doc's back on the planet."

Kara just nodded, wondering why Nora was talking to her about this. It wasn't like Kara knew the first thing about babies.

Nora got that from her silence and asked, "You thinking about Sam?"

With her hand clutching his Pyramid ball -- the one she'd stolen from Caprica that first time -- Kara knew it'd be stupid to say no, even though her first instinct was to deny it. She glanced down at the ball and turned it in her fingers. "Trying not to."

"We've been thinking about him, too, and we thought there was something you should know." Nora paused, and Kara glanced up, curious.

Nora took a breath and said, "When Sam warned everyone not to go down, after the Ground-breaking Ceremony, Duck didn't believe him. He said," she smiled briefly in remembrance and imitated Duck in a rough deep voice that made Kara snicker, "'Anders is a ball player, not a frakking oracle. He's just looking for attention. You can't seriously believe what he's saying?'" Her smile faded. "But of course I believed him. I believe in the Gods, and I believed they gave him a message about New Caprica. I got Tucker to stay. But time passed, nothing happened, and we were going to muster out after all -- but then Sam came to us."

Kara sat up straighter, frowning at Nora. She knew the Clellans had intended to go down to the surface when Nora found out she was pregnant, but then they hadn't left. Kara hadn't really thought about why, except to be relieved that at least Duck could help fill the rapidly shrinking roster.

Nora ran a hand across the blanket of the rack and ended the gesture with her hand on her belly in a protective gesture. "Sam pleaded with us not to go down. He said he knew that none of us - not Tucker, not me, not our child - would leave New Caprica alive. Now I know he was right. I think we would be dead if he hadn't warned us."

"He … didn't say anything about that to me," Kara said slowly, wondering why he'd never mentioned a feeling or vision that the Clellans would die on New Caprica.

Shaking her head, Nora added, "No. He made us promise not to tell anyone. This was after Helo dubbed him Oracle, and Kat was giving him a hard time, and …" she trailed off, politely not mentioning Kara had also teased him about it. He had, eventually, stopped telling people that something terrible was going to happen on New Caprica. Kara had known it ate at him, watching people ignore his warning - the day the Tyrols had gone down, he'd gotten so drunk he'd passed out on the floor of the head.

Nora finished when Kara didn't say anything, "Anyway, Tucker and I both feel we owe our lives to him. I'm sure you don't think it's a fair trade, but… we'll do our best not to waste what he gave us, I promise."

Kara nodded, not able to find any words, and watched Nora lever herself upright. Nora got all the way to the hatch before Kara managed to call to her, "Nora."

Nora turned, and Kara had to clear her throat. "He would." Nora frowned, not understanding, and Kara clarified with a glance down at Nora's pregnant belly. "He would've thought it was a fair trade, one new life for his."

Nora patted her child-to-be and smiled. It was a sad smile, but still one filled with hope and joy, that somehow made Kara feel as if, maybe, it had been fair after all. "Gods bless, Kara"

She left, and Kara went back to bouncing the pyramid ball.

Continue on to CHAPTER TWO .

woot! so exciting to get this out there. don't forget to tip your server... :)
something clever: kara occupationshah_of_blah on December 9th, 2008 09:38 pm (UTC)
Ack this is really sad. I'm not even a Kara/Sam shipper but I'm really liking this story.
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders IIlizardbeth_j on December 10th, 2008 06:05 am (UTC)
aw, thanks! There'll be more in a few days after another editing pass.
The Proverbial Bull in a China Shop...: Truccosabaceanbabe on December 10th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC)
And after your reeeaaalllyyy slooooow beta gets finished. Which will hopefully happen today for chapter 2 -- I'm exactly halfway through the chapter.
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders S4lizardbeth_j on December 10th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)
I tried to put that as low pressure as I could! :)

*waves pompoms in a non-distrating way*
The Proverbial Bull in a China Shop...: the queen and her knightsabaceanbabe on December 11th, 2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
I sent you chap. 2 last night. Did you get it?
emmiereemmiere on December 9th, 2008 10:57 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic! I'm always fascinated by good AU's and I've been hoping this one would come out for awhile now. Plus, it has Sam, so that's always a win in my mind.

Wasn't around to comment on the first parts, but I loved them too and will be very interested to see where it's going.
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - Believethlizardbeth_j on December 10th, 2008 06:07 am (UTC)
thanks, I'm glad you're enjoying it. Them. More on the way!

patron saint of neglected female characters: cylons - six and eightrose_griffes on December 10th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
EEEEE! It's HERE! Okay, I'm going to have to reread the first part again, then read this part again, but I'm so excited!

The interactions between Sam and the cylons are just exactly right. He really would be fascinating to them, especially the Sixes and Eights.

Poor Boomer, losing part of what she believed when she thought she was human.
lizardbeth: Kara-Sam -Demetriuslizardbeth_j on December 10th, 2008 06:09 am (UTC)
Hee! It makes me so gleeful that you're excited! :D

And I'll shut up before I either let loose spoilers or just be mean and tease you, but thanks!
Silver: BSG -- Sharonsilverblade219 on December 10th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
I love this AU. Sam with the other Cylons is awesome. And Boomer, I like how you show her pov and how she is going through her identity crisis.

(goes back to studying for finals...)
lizardbeth: Sharonlizardbeth_j on December 11th, 2008 08:30 am (UTC)
thanks! Lots more Boomer on the way as she goes on a different journey. :)

heh, studying avoidance thru fic, I know that old trick. Good luck!
rhoboat: BSG - Andersrhoboat on December 11th, 2008 07:21 am (UTC)
I've been terrible at leaving feedback lately, but know that I'm really enjoying this so far, and I can't wait to read more! Also, I have to mention that I had SVU on in the background as I was reading this last night. I don't usually watch SVU, so I wasn't paying much attention. Well, I didn't until I heard Michael Trucco's voice, and then I thought this fic was making me hear things. LOL

Anyway, keep it up!
lizardbeth: Trucco - mine!lizardbeth_j on December 11th, 2008 08:32 am (UTC)
hee, that's funny! I can imagine myself doing exactly the same thing.

I hope you continue to enjoy it. :)
cujoy on December 11th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
This is soooooooo good! I also love a good AU fic, and this one has so many intersting elements. The scene with Sam on the basestar are very true to all the characters, including the lesser developed Simons in Dorals. This poor Pyramid player is way out of his element, and it's good. :D
lizardbeth: Trucco - mine!lizardbeth_j on December 12th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
Thanks. The words about the consensus I especially appreciate, because MY GOD, was that scene a pain with all the people and agendas. And yeah, poor Sam is gonna have to find a way to deal. Which, he does. :)
(Deleted comment)
lizardbeth: Anders - cross outlizardbeth_j on December 15th, 2008 06:25 am (UTC)
thanks! more tomorrow!
entertaining in a disturbing way: Boomer Angstslyssie on January 15th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC)
Oh, Boomer. *sigh* And Caprica, too. They're so sure they're right. And they're all just children, playing with toys they don't quite understand.

And D and her twistiness, her need to revenge herself on Sam. Sometimes, I don't think the Cylons realize how human they really are.

ALSO. Are Twos content in their conformity, or do some of them try to change it up?

(you will notice I am not sniffly and crying over my otp. Is hard not to be, but I am bearing up).
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders  Resistancelizardbeth_j on January 15th, 2009 07:26 am (UTC)
be strong! They have separate destinies for now; they'd never get to where they need to be if they had each other around to distract them with constant sex...

hm. I picture the Twos are content in their conformity, at least for now. I think of them as having a sort of "twos against everyone else, because they don't understand us" vibe, that keeps them united. (so yes, they're all teenagers! And that leads to scary places like High School AUs, so I'll move on to chapter 2 now...)
imelda72imelda72 on April 27th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
This is sooo good. How often do we get an epic Sam fic? I'm loving it, especially because I think that you get everyone perfectly in-character. Obviously this isn't a heavily introspective fic, but I can picture every line of dialogue spoken by the characters on the show. That's something that you might almost not notice when reading, but I know is extremely difficult to accomplish as a writer!

So far, I like your version of season 3 quite a bit. The angle of Sam as an oracle is fascinating, one that obviously didn't occur to RDM and co but would've 1) improved his character development and 2) served as foreshadowing/build-up to his hybrid state.

I'm really enjoying this fic. (especially the Kara/Sam moments!)
Deborah: Boomer window by geekbynightdeborah_judge on June 28th, 2011 04:51 am (UTC)
Ooh, fascinating. I'm enjoying the 2-6-8 interactions, we really needed to see more of that in canon.
lizardbeth: BSG- opera houselizardbeth_j on June 29th, 2011 07:06 am (UTC)
This whole story involves a LOT of Cylon politics, so you definitely see more of all of them and how they work (and how they splinter differently in this 'verse).

Thanks! Enjoy - there's lots more (and more to come when I finally finish the final story in the sequence!)