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05 January 2009 @ 01:28 pm
At the Labyrinth Gates, Part Three  
At the Labyrinth Gates
Characters: Sam, Kara, ensemble
Rating: R

Thanks to sabaceanbabe for the beta, and to friends, old and new, who are reading along! :)

Previous parts:
Not All That We Are, the first story
At the Labyrinth Gates:

At the Labyrinth Gates

Chapter Three

The candlelight flickered over the table, casting a gentle orange glow through the otherwise dim room.

The Admiral was there, looking proud enough that this might be his own son's dedication. Lee was there, too, with Dee and Showboat to represent the Pegasus wing.

All the pilots still on Galactica were there. Helo stood next to Kara. Athena was in CIC -- Kara guessed the thought of being here was too painful for her still. She squeezed Helo's hand and he squeezed back, giving her a glance of thanks.

Everyone had crowded into the rec room, gathered before the makeshift altar. There were four idols on the table - two of them Kara's, lent to Nora. All the priests were on New Caprica, but Ishay had volunteered as a lay sister to direct the ceremony.

Nora came in, holding the baby against her, still so tiny that he disappeared into the blankets. Tucker walked beside her and when his gaze met Kara's, he nodded to her, though whether that was for the loan of the idols or being his CAG or to thank her for coming, Kara wasn't sure.

He was in uniform. Nora was not, even though she'd taken to training the four nuggets with enthusiasm. If anyone thought it was odd that their flight instructor was wearing a baby instead of a uniform, nobody had told Kara about it. Kara was just as glad, since she knew she couldn't handle looking at Barolay every day, sitting in Sam's place in the ready room. It was hard enough seeing her now.

Duck looked around at his fellow pilots and officers. "Thank you all for coming."

Ishay began the chant to Hera and Athena, Zeus and Ares to protect the child and grant him gifts.

When she finished, Tucker spoke again. "Nora and I had decided early on to name a son after her father who died when she was little. But more recently, we changed our minds. About a month before the Cylons came back, I really wanted to go down to New Caprica. I didn't want our child born on Galactica," he admitted, with an apologetic glance at Adama, who merely nodded his understanding.

Tucker took a breath. "But Anders came to us, and he pleaded for us not to go down. He said he had seen us dead on New Caprica: me, Nora, and my son. This time…" he trailed off and then added, "I had to believe. When a man warns you your whole family could die, you listen. He saved us. And so, it seems only right that, since we lost Sam Anders, my son carry his name. This is Samuel Theseus Clellan."

Kara started at the name, and her hand grabbed for Helo's arm, clutching his sleeve. Her chest seized up, unwilling to draw breath.

Nora held out the baby, adding in her softer voice, "And we pray that Samuel Theseus Anders will watch over his namesake from Elysium."

Ishay dabbed the sleeping baby's forehead with the oil. "With this mark, we dedicate Samuel Theseus Clellan to the service of Ares and Apollo. May he prove worthy of their blessings and those of mighty Zeus. So say we all."

Everyone but Kara echoed, "So say we all." She could only mouth the words, not speak them, since her throat had closed up. The candle-lights were smearing and turning hazy.

Nora held the baby close again and leaned into Tucker. Looking teary-eyed, she repeated, "So say we all."

Kat broke into the solemn silence, declaring loudly, "To Sammy Clellan, son of Duck and Buzzer, future Viper ace!"

There were chuckles from the gathered pilots along with good-natured grumbling from the Raptor crews, which erupted into catcalls and whistles as the Clellans kissed.

Kara turned, shrugged off Helo's hand, and made for the hatch to get out of there.

She wanted to be happy for them -- and she was -- but that didn't stop her from wishing violently that Sam had been there, and the baby had some other name instead.

* * *

Sharon took a left between the tents and picked her way through the shadows, counting four on the right. She fumbled for the flap, cursing cold-numbed fingers.

Pulling it aside, she poked her head in. "Are you here?" she whispered.

Galen's voice murmured, "Come in." He turned up a small lantern on a rickety table, so a soft glow spread through the tent. There was nothing else inside.

For just a moment, it felt like the old days, when they would go sneaking off to closets and pretend no one knew. But she looked at his unmilitary beard and civvy clothes, and knew everything was different. He was human, she was Cylon, and that was just the beginning of what kept them apart now.

"Here," she slipped a folded up piece of paper from her jacket and handed it to him. He put it away without looking at it or asking what it was.


"You have two days," she told him.

"Do you know what time?"

She shook her head. "No. No Eights are part of internal security. But you have to rescue him before then, or he's dead."

He nodded, looking grim. "Can you help?" he asked.

She stiffened, offended and angry. What the hell did he think this was? "I am helping," she hissed at him. "You wouldn't even know about this if it weren't for me."

He held up a hand. "Sorry. I just meant to get us in."

"No," she answered flatly. "We can't be involved. Do what you need to do. And so will we." She thought of the likelihood that at least one of her sisters was going to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and she was sad for that, but at least they would resurrect; the humans wouldn't.

She turned to go, but Galen called her back, with her name a soft murmur. "Sharon."

Lifting her brows, she waited, and he finally asked, "Why are you doing this? Why are you helping?"

She folded her arms. "I can't believe you of all people would ask me that. Is that from Colonel Tigh?"

"The others don't know my source," he said, not acknowledging her guess. "I tell them it's someone in Baltar's administration. But, why? After Cally shot you, after -- after all of it, why help us?"

"Because…" she turned, staring into the darkness, away from the light. There were many answers she could give, but only one counted. "Because this is my fault," she whispered. "And I have to do what I can." She swallowed hard and turned her head to meet his eyes. "We're not all your enemies. Some of us want peace. We came here to help. But the others... don't understand."

He thought about what she said for a moment. "So, no chance the Cylons will pack up and leave?" he asked, with a rueful twist of his lips.

She snorted a bitter laugh. "Not any time soon."

"All right. I better get back. Be careful," he wished her, seriously.

She'd already had bottles thrown at her, and one of these days she was probably going to get shot by one of the humans who couldn't tell her apart from the other Cylons. So she knew the danger was real, if not all that significant. As much as she'd hated waking up in that vile goo, at least she would wake up. She nodded. "You, too, Chief."

She didn't wait to hear him disclaim the title, slipping outside. The chill wind bit at her cheeks as she found her way back to the main aisle and the path toward the secure area.

* * *

Kara was nearly all the way back to the rack room when she heard the voice. "Hey, Kara. Wait up."

Her mouth widened in a smile of anticipation. Lee was coming after her.

He trotted up. "Are you okay? You left the dedication a little abruptly."

She wanted to hit him for reminding her of the ceremony, but instead she waved her open bottle at him. "Just wanted something more to drink. Want to join me?"

She could see the urge to tell her she was drinking too much flit across his face, but he held his tongue and shrugged. "Sure. One drink won't hurt anything."

Snickering to herself, she handed him the bottle once they were both inside. "Here, I've already got a good head start." She spun the wheel to lock the hatch, and smirked when he didn't object.

Kara waited until Lee had taken a swallow and then pushed him by the shoulders into the wall. "Kara -- "

"Shut up," she leaned forward, and for an instant it was odd not to have to tilt her head back. Then her mouth was on his and she was kissing him feverishly. It took him less than a heartbeat to kiss back and put his free hand on her waist as she pressed into him.

She closed her eyes. Her hands moved on his body, across the tight muscles of his shoulders and arms.

"Kara - Kara, no," he objected, breathlessly, but didn't stop her or try to push her away.

"Shut up," she reminded him and kissed him again, making sure he couldn't speak and ruin it once more.

The uniform jacket was too thick, too annoying, too different. She needed skin. She fumbled at the clasps and finally just shoved her hands beneath the hem to touch his stomach - flat, taut, nearly the same. His mouth was familiar, too; she'd been here before and she could lose herself in it.

"Oh Gods," she murmured, when he finally pulled back enough to kiss her throat and got his hand on her breast. She closed her eyes, able to imagine other hands, another mouth doing this, a taller, heavier body next to hers. "Oh Gods, yes, please, Sam, please don't stop -- "

But he did stop, lifting his mouth away. "Kara."

"What?" she demanded irritably, as the moment's excitement fled and she felt cold again.

Lee blinked and inhaled a deep breath. "You said 'Sam,'" he explained.

She frowned. "I did not," she objected, even though she thought maybe she had. That was who she had been imagining.

"Kara." He took another breath and slipped out from between her and the wall. "I've been here before," he reminded her. "Catching you on the rebound. But things are different now. I can't do it. I can't hurt Dee like that, not for a quick frak."

"You certainly weren't thinking about Dee when your tongue was in my mouth," she sneered.

"I -- " He couldn't counter that, because it was true. He shrugged sort of helplessly. "I'm sorry. But I learned my lesson about competing with dead men already."

She flinched at 'dead men', and folded her arms. "Fine. You made your position clear. It won't happen again," she told him coldly.

"Kara - "

"Leave the bottle."

He put the bottle on the table and she turned her back, refusing to look at him. He kept talking. "I remember this from Zak. Do you really want to go down this road again? I know it hurts, but-- "

"Frak you," she spat at him. "Go back to Dee and your precious, shiny battlestar, Commander. There's nothing for you here."

Still not looking at him, she grabbed the bottle by the neck and took a swig, listening.

Lee stayed where he was for a long moment, and his eyes seemed to dig into her back. She didn't turn, and eventually he gave a sigh. "I'm still your friend, Kara. Please remember that." Then finally he opened the hatch and left.

Kara listened to his steps retreating, then let out an aggravated sigh. Stupid frakker. Like she needed or wanted "friends" right now - just a nice, uncomplicated frak.

Booze would have to do.

* * *

Sam typed in the code - the year he'd won the championship - and the tall wooden doors swung open silently.

Beside him, looking around curiously, Kara asked, "Where are we?"

"My place in Caprica City," he answered. He took her hand and gave her a proud grin. "C'mon, I'll show you."

He led her through the entryway with its white-and-black tiled floor and fountain in the corner, through the arch, and around the corner to the main room, which was dominated by panoramic windows with a view of Picany Bay and the towers of downtown Caprica City to the east.

In real life this house was nothing but radioactive ash, but he ignored that, to imagine bringing her toward the windows. He picked up the wand from the table they passed and turned on the stereo. His favorite make-out song, "Under the Shady Tree" started to play softly from the speakers set in the corners.

"And to think I didn't always bother to pay my electric bill," she mused, gazing out at the expensive view from the Heights, and chuckled ruefully.

"I wanted to show you how it used to be," he murmured and tugged her into his body. "It's nice, isn't it? But it's even nicer with you here…"

He lost himself in kissing her, and how the bright afternoon sunlight made her hair and her eyes shimmer. Her mouth joined eagerly with his as her hands went around his back and under his shirt.

He skimmed his hands over her waist and hips, loving the feel of her, and how her breasts were pressed against him.

Then the door opened and harsh white light invaded his dream, which dissoved away, leaving him alone and cold.

He opened his eyes, blinking in the sudden brightness. His house and Kara were gone, replaced by the familiar hard floor of his cell. He straightened to see who was coming in, and held up a shaking hand to shield his eyes.

Cavil was standing there in the doorway. Gods, how long had it been since he'd seen anyone but frakking Centurions delivering him that shit they served up to keep him from starving to death? Weeks, he thought. And he was strangely glad to see the skinjob, even if the ache in his bones from the last time hadn't faded yet.

Cavil took in Sam's appearance and wrinkled his nose in disgust. "You stink."

Luckily, Sam's nose had stopped registering the odor, mostly, but occasionally he got whiffs of himself and the drain in the corner, enough to make him nauseous. It took him a moment to remember how to talk, and he had to clear his throat to find his voice, which still came out gravelly. "Yeah. Funny how that happens when there's no water."

Cavil smiled faintly, pleased by his handiwork. Sam wasn't sure if the pleasure gave him more chills because it seemed inhuman, or because it was very human and he knew what it foreboded.

But Sam gathered up his strength, not wanting to admit to fear with this predator watching him. He sat upright and eased back against the wall, demanding, "What do you want?"

"I thought you might want to know that Vice President Zarek was executed for sedition yesterday," Cavil told him casually. "A few insurgents tried to rescue him - it was really quite pathetic. They were all killed in the attempt, of course."

"Zarek?" Sam repeated, and remembered a flash of Zarek's dead eyes in the vision. He wasn't surprised, so much as horrified that it really was coming true. Everything he had tried to do to stop it, hadn't changed anything.

Cavil had a smirk on his face. The frakker was enjoying himself, taunting Sam. He continued, "We're beginning to recruit for our New Caprica Police force. Isn't that exciting? Humans can go places where we can't; they'll dig out the insurgents."

"Nobody's going to help you," Sam snarled.

"Oh, you'd be surprised what humans are willing to do if you promise them things they want," Cavil said.

Sam felt sick at the thought of any humans collaborating with the Cylons, but had to admit Cavil was probably right. Even in the resistance, there had been some willing to stab other humans in the back for advantage. He asked wearily, "Why are you here?"

"I came to find out if you were ready to tell my brethren that you were wrong," Cavil said.

"Why would I want to do that? When you just proved me right?" Sam asked. "You don't belong here. Nobody belongs here." He repeated the words flatly, the same words he'd said over and over again, knowing it was futile. "You're destroying our hope of peace."

Cavil snorted. "Just give it up," Cavil advised. "We're machines, you're human. There can be no peace."

"There can, but not here. I know. Saying anything else won't make it true."

Cavil sighed irritably. "Come on, Anders, do you want to stay in this shower for another month, talking only to Centurions? Slowly going mad?"

"Why keep me alive?" Sam asked. "Why do you bother?"

"It's not a bother," Cavil shrugged. "I don't even think about you most days. Except that your… followers have become something of a pain in my ass, protesting everything the rest of us do on New Caprica. They don't bend at all, and their incessant whining is irritating me. So, here's my offer - you tell them you were wrong and that the right thing to do is work with me, and I'll let you go live with the other humans on the surface."

Sam didn't have to think about the offer. "Frak you."

"But I didn't get to the part where I tell you what'll happen if you refuse," Cavil said, with bright menace.

"You're going to torture and kill me. Well, I don't care. Go ahead," Sam snarled at him, weary and impatient.

"Oh, not you. I figured you're noble and stubborn and would much rather die a martyr's death if it helps you get what you want," Cavil told him. Then his voice changed, became more of a purr, "But what about someone else? Do you know Cally Tyrol? She has a baby, and little babies need their mothers …"

Sam stared at him in dawning horror, remembering another flash from a vision -- Cally's face, her eyes wide and blank in death. "You frakking son of a bitch!"

"I believe that's the sound of an accord being reached," Cavil declared with smug satisfaction. "Excellent."

Sam swallowed hard and knew he couldn't let Cally die, if he could prevent it. Defeated, he said, "All right. What do you want me to do?"

"Oh, very little." Cavil bent down, grabbed Sam's dog tags and snapped them off his neck.

"Hey!" Sam grabbed for them, but Cavil stepped nimbly aside. "Give those back!"

Cavil went to the open doorway, where two Centurions waited. He looked at the tags cursorily and dangled them in his hand. "I assume Captain Thrace has one of yours? Very touching. I'll be sure to give these to her when I see her."

"Stay away from her!" He lunged to his feet and froze one step later, as one of the Centurions raised his arm and the hand turned into a gun.

"So impetuous," Cavil chided. "Especially when there's absolutely nothing you can do."

Sam clenched his jaw and glared at Cavil. He was going to kill the son of a bitch one day -- Gods and prophecies and the future be damned. "If you hurt Kara, I will see you wiped out of existence," he promised softly, meaning every word. "All of you. No matter what it takes."

For an instant, Cavil looked uneasy at the threat then he chuckled. "You know, I believed you, until I remembered you're my prisoner and you're not going anywhere. So I think I'll take the chance. But first, just for that, I'm going to go order the death of Callandra Henderson Tyrol."

Sam heard the words in horror. "NO! You can't."

"I can," Cavil said. "And I will. Unlike you, I don't make empty threats."

"But I said I'd do what you wanted!"

"So you did," Cavil said agreeably. "I wanted to know what it would take to break you. And apparently it's the life of one insignificant human. But really, Sam, why would I want to disturb my carefully nurtured balance of power on New Caprica? Everything's going exactly to plan. Better if you stay here, tucked very safely away. Guard him," he ordered the Centurions, who took up guard stances in the hall again, and the door slid shut.

"No, you can't murder her! You can't! Stop! You frakker, stop!" Sam yelled and pounded on the door. The panels looked fragile, but they merely quivered under his fists. "This isn't how things are supposed to be!"

He sank to his knees, fists still against the door but now holding him up, as his head dropped to rest against the door. He groped reflexively for his tags, but his fingers found nothing. His whisper echoed back to his ears, "I was supposed to stop this. Not make it worse."

* * *

Kara laid all her cards out, grinning. "Full colors. Read 'em and weep, ladies."

She grabbed her cup and drained it as Maggie and Kat groaned. But when she leaned forward to grab her winnings, Sharon put a hand on her wrist to stop her. "I don't think so."

Kara smirked at her and then down at the cards on the table's surface. "Highest hand. You can't beat it."

"Then tell me, Starbuck," Sharon said and pulled a card from her yet-unseen hand and smacked it down on the table between them, "where you got one of these, when it's been in my hand the whole frakking time?"

Kara's eyes fell on the card and then back up to Athena's face. "Oops?" she offered with a shrug and a grin.

Kat shoved back from the table. "You frakking cheater!"

"Like you weren't gonna lose anyway," Kara mocked.

"Well, we'll never know, will we?" Kat returned. She leaned down and shoved the rivets and bolts they were using as coin off the table into Kara's lap. "You want it so bad, take it."

She stalked out, and, hot on her heels, Maggie stood up, looking more disappointed than angry. "We're stuck out here in the black, rattling around in this tin can and you start cheating? You better get your head screwed on straight, Starbuck, and quick, or I'm sure the Old Man can find a new CAG."

She left, too, so Kara was alone with Sharon. "You had to be such a drama queen about it?" she hissed at the Cylon.

Sharon shrugged and gathered up the cards, tapping them on the table to straighten them with a sound that made Kara want to rip the cards from her hand and throw them on the ground. "It was the first time I could prove it, Kara. But you've been cheating for days."

"What, you can see my cards with x-ray vision or some freaky Cylon shit?" Kara sneered.

Sharon stared at her in unsettling silence for a moment, as if debating how to respond. Then she answered mildly, but with an edge to her voice, "No. You're just bad at it."

"Why do you give a frak?" Kara demanded impatiently. "It's not real. We're not even playing for fake money, just little bits of nothing. It's only a game."

"Is it?" Sharon retorted. "You had to know someone would catch it eventually. And nobody would want to play with a cheater after that. So I figure this is so you can sit around and pickle yourself in hooch and self-pity, in peace."

Kara shoved back her chair and jumped to her feet, quivering in fury. "Shut the frak up. You don't know anything, you toaster."

Sharon gave a little humorless smile, not surprised Kara would go for the slur, but she stayed in her chair and glanced up at Kara, with fearless black eyes. Her voice was cold and sarcastic. "No, I certainly don't know anything about losing someone I loved more than my own life, and sitting around consumed by my own guilt and grief, do I? Frak you. But don’t fool yourself - this is all about you, not him. He'd hate what you're becoming."

Ignoring the slice of hurt was easy when she was already nicely numbed. "Yeah, and if he was actually here, I might give a frak what he'd think about it," Kara shot back. She grabbed the bottle off the table and headed out to find clearer air. At the hatch, she turned and mused aloud, "I wonder what the rest of the Cylons would do to their traitor if she suddenly showed up in the resurrection ship?"

Then, satisfied that she'd got the last word, Kara banged her way out of the room to go back to her cold and lonely rack.

* * *

The Heavy Raider landed with a thump in the docking bay of the baseship. Sharon followed Caprica down the ramp to the floor.

She tried to ignore the knot of apprehension in her stomach, which grew when she saw a pair of Ones waiting for them. The One on New Caprica had been annoyingly mysterious, saying only that they should go above and see it for themselves. These nodded in unison, a polite greeting with grave faces, but there was also a touch of smug satisfaction in their expressions that made her temper prickle.

"So we're here," she snapped. "What is it we have to see?"

"Near the control center. This way." The pair of them turned and after sharing a glance, Sharon and Caprica followed.

On the way they met up with another Six - one from the other baseship who had been close to Sam - and a Two.

"Do you know what this is about?" the Six asked Caprica, who shook her head. "They asked me to come specifically… It must have something to do with Sam."

"Yes," Leoben said. "And they wouldn't bring us here because they intend to release him."

Six grabbed his arm. "What if he's sick? Caprica and Sharon are here, maybe they can bring him down to the human doctors."

The knot in Sharon's stomach grew, because that seemed unlikely. The Ones had stashed Sam somewhere for the past two months, blocking his location from the data stream and the rest of the consensus. The Threes had claimed even they didn't know where he was, trusting the Ones to keep him secure. Sharon wasn't sure she wanted to find out the truth; she knew what Cavil had done to some of the humans on New Caprica.

Bracing herself to find Sam broken by torture, confessing a multitude of sins, Sharon took a deep breath and entered the room.

It was a bare room, empty of all but a few other Cylons, and a table. There was something lying on the table - a long, dark, twisted shape that her eyes refused to recognize for a moment.

Until the Six gasped in horror. "No!" She pushed past Sharon and rushed to the table. "No! Sam!"

It was a body, Sharon realized, wearing the remnants of black pants and Colonial Fleet tanks. Her stomach heaved, and she coughed, lifting her hand to her mouth.

Because the clothes were all that was recognizable. His face was gone, blasted by what looked like a Centurion plasma cannon, and the rest of him was horribly burned. There were only a few tufts of hair and his body was shrunken and arched in an unnatural angle. The skin, what there was of it, was blackened in parts, while in others, the bones were exposed beneath.

"Oh, dear God," Caprica whispered.

"What did you do?" the Six at the table whirled and demanded of the Ones. "What did you do, you frakkers?"

Cavil held his ground. "Anders managed to escape and got hold of a weapon. Two Centurions shot him. One of their shots hit a power conduit and he was caught in the electrical fire. We barely recovered this much," he nodded to the corpse on the table. "Don't look so distressed, Six; he was dead already."

"You did this! You murdered him!" Six accused him.

"If he'd stayed in his cell, he'd be alive," Cavil returned calmly. "If he hadn't shot at us, he'd be alive. But you know the Centurions act to defend us automatically. We didn't kill him. But we thought you should all see the body for yourselves, since you're still so… attached."

Leoben moved past Sharon, pacing slowly toward the corpse. He circled the table slowly, staring at it. Sharon followed, worried for him. He'd believed so strongly in Sam being a messenger of God, how would the Twos react to seeing their messenger dead?

Dead. God, how could this be? She stared at the remains, nauseated and saddened, trying to see Sam in the ruined shell. But she could barely tell the figure used to be human. She desperately hoped this was a mistake, because it simply couldn't be true. Then she noticed the glint of brass by the side of his neck and moved forward curiously. Swallowing and trying not to smell it, she bent close and gasped in disbelief. There were dogtags, burned into his flesh. She gently tugged them free, expecting them to be hot still, but of course they were cold. They were miraculously untouched by the fire.

One of the hexagonal tags read 'Samuel T. Anders' and the other read 'Kara Thrace'. She clenched her hand around them, a surge of pity welling inside for her former friend who didn't deserve to lose another person she loved.

"God will punish you for this," Six spat at Cavil in a grief-stricken fury. "Sam was in your keeping, and you let him be killed."

The Ones didn't seem bothered, shrugging it off as though it didn't matter. And to them, it didn't - it was one less human to worry about.

"Sister," Caprica put her hand on Six's shoulder, but she shrugged it off.

"He's dead, Caprica," Six said. "Do you understand that? Sam's dead, and he's not like us. He can't come back. And it's all their fault."

"It was an accident, just a tragic accident, sister," Caprica soothed her, tugging her into a hug, where she cried into Caprica's shoulder.

"Accident?" Leoben repeated. "The Centurions opened fire on him. There was nothing accidental about that." He circled the table again, and reached out once, without touching, as if he wanted to wake Sam. Then he stopped and raised his gaze to address the nearest One: "Anders knew Centurions would react to a threat with deadly force, so he must have provoked them deliberately. What did you do to him these last two months that he preferred death?"

One arched his brows at the corpse. "Does it matter now?"

Leoben's gaze dropped to the body again and he answered softly, "No, I suppose not." With his line's odd formality, he bowed his head, closed his eyes as if in prayer. The others remained silent, giving him his moment, and Sharon joined it, closing her eyes against the sight.

She prayed: 'Mighty God, I ask your blessings for Sam Anders. Bring him to rest with you, where he will be without pain or fear, and know only peace. Give us the strength to follow where he pointed, even without him. So say we all.'

Leoben opened his eyes and walked out without another word. The other Six pulled away from Caprica and ran after him.

Sharon wanted to follow, but she was still too stunned to move. Somehow, this felt like her fault. If she hadn't defended him on Caprica, would this have happened?

Caprica said to the gathered Ones, in a hard voice, "I don't believe you were careless. That's unlike you. Did you let him get his hands on a gun?"

"We wanted to see how far he would get," One admitted.

Another added, with a tinge of admiration, "He brought down two Centurions first, with only a pistol. But then he started shooting at us."

"No one expected him to do something so irrational." The first waved at the table as if to say 'that's where irrationality gets you.' "We would've stopped the Centurions, but it all happened too quickly."

A third shrugged. "It's probably for the best." The other Ones nodded their agreement, looking remarkably unperturbed, even smug, about how it had turned out.

Sharon wanted to hit them. 'For the best?' They had wanted Sam dead from the beginning and now they had what they wanted by playing their game. Damn them.

She shoved the tags into her pocket, clutching them in her fist, sickened by the cruelty. Suddenly she couldn't bear to be in that room one moment more and headed for the door. "Caprica, are you coming? There's nothing more to see here."

At the entryway, she glanced back once at the body on the table, knowing she would never describe this sight to any of his people, but wanting to imprint it on her memories. A Raider had saved Sam's life, and Centurions had killed him - but it was her people's fault. They had murdered God's messenger.

Six was right. God was going to punish the Cylon for this sin.

* * *

Kara sat at the table, flexing her sore hand and bruised knuckles, and drank from a cup of fake ambrosia that tasted like tylium. She should've hit Kat, not the wall. Kat certainly deserved it more.

The stuff was disgusting, but at least it burned pleasantly in her stomach. She watched her hand flex some more, liking the way the ache felt far away, but close enough to tell her that her hand was still there.

The hatch opened and she didn't bother to look up, figuring it was Helo coming in to lecture her again.

But the steps weren't Helo's and when the chair across from her was pulled out, she glanced up.

Admiral Adama sat in the rickety chair across from her, and watched her for what felt like a very long time. Kara was determined not to speak first though, and picked up her cup to take a long, insolent swallow.

He watched, calmly regarding her through his glasses, and folded his hands. When she put the cup down again, he said, "I need my CAG."

She stared at the cup. "Duck can do it."

"Duck is doing it," Adama said. "But that's not fair to him with a newborn in his quarters, is it? Making him do your job and his?"

She shrugged. "I didn't ask him to do it. So give it to 'Track or Kat. They can do it, too. Hell, Ninja can do it. His dragon tat can do it." She snorted, amused by the idea.

But Adama didn't play along. "I need you as my CAG, Kara."

She shook her head. "No. You don't. You really, really don't. And I don't want it."

"We're going back to New Caprica," he declared and she laughed at him.

"There's nothing to go back for. They're all dead. And we're just sitting here, waiting for the Cylons to find us, too. Which they will. They're gonna find us, and game over."

He took a deep breath. "The Cylons are still at New Caprica. So our people are still there. But if we have any hope of pulling this off, I need you and your out-of-the-box mind to plan me an op."

She took another swallow, thinking of the ways that her 'out-of-the-box' mind got people killed. But never the ones she didn't give a frak about.

"We're going back to rescue the ones we left behind," Adama said, as if trying to coax her, but the words hit her like a blow.

Her gaze snapped to his, abruptly furious. "Now you decide we should go back? Now? When it's too late?"

Adama narrowed his eyes at her, her words striking a defensive chord in him, too. His voice sharpened, "We're at war, Captain. People die in war. It's sad and it hurts, but if we're to save the human race, we don't have the luxury of indulging in grief. Anders understood that."

For just a moment, the words reached her, because she knew he was right. But at the same time, he was wrong. They weren't at war and they weren't fighting; they were floating in a tin can in the deep black, doing nothing but endless CAP and pretending they weren't a few thousand people waiting for the lights to go out.

She stood up, fists on the table and her whole body quivering. "You know what else Sam understood? He knew New Caprica was going to be a disaster. He told you, he told Roslin, he told everyone, and nobody believed him. All those idiots who went down-- why should we risk our lives because they were stupid and didn't listen? I say, frak them all." She drained her cup and slammed it down, glaring defiantly at Adama. "You gonna fire me from CAG? Fine, do it. I don't want it."

"No!" he slapped a hand on the table, making her jump, and his voice was an authoritative growl. "I'm not giving you what you want. You need to straighten up and remember that your duty is to the living, not the dead. I want you back tomorrow, an officer in the Colonial Fleet. Do you hear me, Captain?"

She couldn't meet his gaze and dropped her eyes to the table. She remembered the oath she'd sworn, the oath she'd watched Adama give Sharon not that long ago.

She just.... couldn't do it right now. Sitting in her Viper and killing Cylons, she could do that, but this endless nothing just reminded her of what was missing.

But a lifetime of obedience won out, and she answered dully, "Yes, sir."

Adama's voice softened. "Come on back. We need you." His hand fell on her shoulder and gave her a squeeze before he headed for the door.

When he was gone, she took a few minutes before she sat in her chair again. Her hands were shaking as she poured another shot.

She and Sam had done shots when she brought the resistance back from Caprica. She'd sat on his lap - one of her favorite places since she could tease him so easily there - and they'd laughed and kissed and ...

Later, in this very room, before they'd moved into their own quarters, they'd celebrated his first flight in a real Viper. He hadn't even wanted to wait for the rack, frakking her right on the table. His eyes had been alight with the same joy of flying she felt, and while she'd teased him about his rookie excitement, she'd also been content. All the pieces in her life were in place and right.

And now, nothing was right.

"Gods..." she muttered and rested her head on her hands, trying to push it all away, not think about it, not remember... But the alcohol seemed to be making her feel everything more, not less, making her remember so clearly it was as if he was still in the room.

Some unknown time later, the hatch opened again, and she jerked her head up, angry that someone was coming in.

It was Helo. And he was a safe target. She snarled, "What do you want?"

He ignored her hostility and stepped aside once he was through the hatch. "I have a visitor for you."

"Yeah? Well, you can both frak off."

But Nora ducked inside, holding something in her arms. She smiled at Kara. "You haven't come to visit," she said. "So we came to you."

Kara stood up, a shot of alarm going through her. "No, I don't think -- "

But like Helo, Nora also ignored the attempt to make them leave her alone and cornered Kara against the table. "Here, you should hold him."

"I don't want to hold him." She folded her arms, and refused to look at the tiny, blanket-wrapped bundle.

Nora pressed him into her arms anyway. "Hold him."

"No, I can't." Kara shook her head, knowing she was being ridiculous and yet unable to do anything else with a strange sort of panic licking at her insides. "I'll drop him, I will - "

"Of course you won't," Nora said, with absolute certainty, and she let go.

Kara had no choice but to grip the blankets, holding him stiffly out from her body. He barely weighed anything.

Nora spoke softly, "I look at Sammy, and I know a part of Sam lives on in him, Kara. I can feel him."

Kara's gaze was pulled unwillingly down. Her hands somehow knew what to do and brought the baby closer to her. He had a little round face and giant blue eyes that stared at her without fear. She looked back at this new life Sam had saved, so tiny and precious and fragile, and felt something deep inside crack. That little bit she had tried so hard to keep intact broke all the way through, and suddenly she was raw and bleeding...

It was through a haze of wet eyes that she looked up - saw Nora's gentle smile, and Helo standing by the hatch with his arm around Sharon's shoulders.

Even though Kara had been so horrible to her, Sharon was watching her with understanding and compassion. Kara stared at her, forcing the tears back. "How?" she demanded, in an angry voice that wasn't whole either.

Sharon didn't ask what she was talking about, knowing exactly, as she answered, simply, "I had to forgive myself. You have two paths: you can let it continue to eat you up, or you forgive yourself and go on. I think you know which one Sam would want."

Nora added, "He gave us a miracle," she nodded toward the baby in Kara's hands, "and left work undone on New Caprica. There are still people there to save."

Nodding slowly, Kara swallowed hard, not taking her eyes from Nora. "You believe that?"

"We weren't the only ones he warned," Nora murmured. "But we were the only ones who listened."

The reminder was soft, but went through Kara like a blade. She remembered finding Sam passed out on the floor of the head, the night Chief and Cally had left for New Caprica. He'd never told her what he'd seen, but it had obviously been terrible.

Maybe there was still a way to save them, if the fleet went back as the Admiral wanted.

Her gaze went from Nora, to Sharon, and then Helo -- all of them waiting patiently for her to get her act together with a kindness she didn't at all deserve.

She inhaled a ragged breath to speak, and her voice still cracked. "I hate you all."

"We love you, too, Kara," Helo returned, unperturbed by her words when her meaning was so obvious.

Kara shut her eyes and held Sammy against her, letting her cheek brush his downy hair. Somehow, despite being so tiny, he seemed to fill all the empty spaces within her, and she thought she felt Sam's spirit, watching over them both.

to be continued...

Go on to chapter four

comments are always adored. :)
emmiere: andersemmiere on January 6th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Oh, now that's just evil.

And really, really good, your imagery is just killing me over here.
lizardbeth: Anders - no shirtlizardbeth_j on January 6th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)

*ahem* sorry, couldn't resist. :)

thank you

patron saint of neglected female characters: starbuckrose_griffes on January 6th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)
Yay, more!

*sniff* I take back my yay. *cries*

You had me devasted when Kara couldn't look at Barolay. Then it just got worse. Oh, Kara.
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders Rapturelizardbeth_j on January 6th, 2009 03:22 am (UTC)
aw, you took back your yay... *sniff*

*hands you a tissue*
Silver: BSG - Sixsilverblade219 on January 6th, 2009 01:01 am (UTC)
You know, for a minute I thought that you did kill Sam (...you didn't, did you?). Poor Kara and the others, thinking that he is dead, and poor Sam, as he can't do anything to stop the extra deaths. And then you kill Zarek, which is probably going to change a bunch of things...

One yay moment of this chapter is that Boomer is Galen's source. Does this mean that Gaeta is no longer leaking information or his more like a secondary source?

Also, since there are only 2 more parts for this story which will probably cover getting out of New Caprica, will there be more stories after this one to cover the aftermath?
lizardbeth: Anders - cross outlizardbeth_j on January 6th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
wait and see. :P

But yes, this story ends with the exodus from New Caprica. I have two more planned to follow, which should wrap it all up. But that won't be until after canon finishes, since the next part in particular is very mythology-heavy and I want to see how close I am first.
cujoy on January 6th, 2009 02:00 am (UTC)
Oh my. ::sobs::

I know this story is good, because I find myself theorizing about how it's going to be resolved, and how Sam will get out of there :sobs again:

Also, Kara is breaking my heart.
lizardbeth: Anders - armpornlizardbeth_j on January 6th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
*hands you a tissue, too*

Thanks. just wait! :)

all. will. be. revealed. *snicker*
Allison: K/A Homefrolicndetour on January 6th, 2009 03:32 am (UTC)
Oh, the wonderful angst!

I have no idea why Cavil would want to make everyone think Sam was dead and not kill him, rather than vice-versa, but I know you well enough to know it's all part of your evil brilliant play. And poor Kara! :( And Sam, imagining being with her back on Caprica - that part just killed me, knowing that it had to be a dream or hallucination.

I can't believe you killed my Cally.

The scene at the end with little Sam was lovely.

I can't wait for the next installment!
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders  Resistancelizardbeth_j on January 6th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC)
Heh, probably more evil (as in "banality of evil") than brilliant, but we'll see.

of course you can. No sparkly ponies for ME, yo.


clezzy.: you will be the death of meclez on January 6th, 2009 05:07 am (UTC)
Gaaaaaaah so good. I really can't wait for more, as I'm sure you know, just from my last review. I'm enjoying this way too much, and this really did make my day, so thank you for that! ♥ I'm really looking forward to the next part :D

I would say more, but it's 5:06am for me and I'm typing in a rush before I get discovered XD!
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders S4lizardbeth_j on January 6th, 2009 07:24 am (UTC)
Glad I could help out! ;)

More in a few days.
zahdahezahdahe on January 6th, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC)

You evil woman! You killed Sam! Now I know you are a n awesome writers specially for Sam, but now you are respecting my authority!.

This series is just great. Poor Sam he has some boo boos!

Deep Sigh!
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders  Resistancelizardbeth_j on January 6th, 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
ow! :D

but thank you just the same!

And yes, poor Sam. poor Kara. Poor everyone. *sigh*
zahdahezahdahe on January 7th, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC)
Can we have flashback HOT sex for Kara and Sam! (cough they *we* deserve it).
entertaining in a disturbing way: Boomer Angstslyssie on January 15th, 2009 05:58 am (UTC)
*grabs tissue* Damn. Maybe it's me and babies?

Or Kara crying. Or Kara forgiving herself. Hrm.

Sharon taking Sam's (and Kara's, and OMG HOW ADORABLE THAT IS) tags is awesome.
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders Rapturelizardbeth_j on January 15th, 2009 08:23 am (UTC)
*hands out tissues*

It could be babies helping Kara forgive herself while trying not to cry and failing miserably?

Then Sharon keeps the pair of tags in her pocket, every day, after that. And she thinks it's a miracle that they're not burnt up. *pets Boomer*
imelda72imelda72 on April 27th, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
Jeez, I know there's plenty more story to read (luckily), but I want to pause here to comment. Because this is so damn good. Your fic reads as quickly and fluidly as watching a BSG episode. And I find myself constantly in awe at how good you are at mimicking the characters' voices, as writing them exactly as they sound on the show.

Some examples:

"I believe that's the sound of an accord being reached," Cavil declared with smug satisfaction.

Kara shoved back her chair and jumped to her feet, quivering in fury. "Shut the frak up. You don't know anything, you toaster."

And pretty much everything the Cylons say is spot-on, too. This is so great; such a convincing AU. The bit about Sam's drug history is interesting. I don't know how I feel about it, but I don't deny that it's possible as part of his backstory. But overall, most of what you write is completely convincing, which, when it comes to fanfic, is one of the most difficult things to achieve. You're clearly a very skilled writer!
lizardbeth: Anders- b&wlizardbeth_j on April 27th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC)
aw, thank you! (and for the previous comment too!) and oh yes, there's LOTS more. *looks at WIP folder guiltily*

The stim habit is mostly to underline that Sam was lost before the attacks. He was burying that part that knew his life wasn't quite right.. And drugs continue to play a bit of a role later, as well, so this is kinda laying the ground for that.
kag523 on July 1st, 2011 04:47 am (UTC)
Oh honey - you have me in tears on this one. The baby named after him and Kara's reaction? Gah! So painful. And then Lee and the whole Scar scene all over again. OMG - ANGST! And then Sam (apparently) dead and Thea's reaction.... and then the confrontation with Kara and her holding the baby. *sniffs* Seriously, girl. This chapter was ALL ABOUT THE ANGST AND I LOVED IT! You have completely convinced me that Kara loves him and that somehow, things will work out. (After much more angst, I'm sure hee hee!) And actually, on that note, I'm stopping for the night. This is lovely. Thank you!
lizardbeth: Anders-Thealizardbeth_j on July 1st, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC)