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07 May 2009 @ 10:26 am
Fic: Imperfect Parentage (BSG, Gen)  
Title: Imperfect Parentage
Characters: Sam Anders, Cavil (NOT Anders/Cavil! ew...)
Spoilers: No Exit
Rating: PG
Wordcount: 7500

Summary: The last thing Sam heard was Leoben's voice, asking after Kara.

Note: This story takes place immediately following LDYBII. I've had this mostly done since "No Exit" aired, but certain spoilers spurred me to finish it. Thanks to sabaceanbabe for her timely assistance!


The last thing Sam heard was Leoben's voice, asking after Kara. Fear lurched inside him, nauseating and sharp. He tried to get up, to go help her, but fell back in the bed too weak to move. He curled up on his side, coughing in a desperate attempt to breathe. His coughs turned to wheezes as his heart pounded frantically in a search for oxygen that wasn't there.


He remembered the last time he saw her, tucking him into bed and looking so worried, and he wished he could tell her he was going to be okay. That everything was going to be all right.

But his memory of Kara dissolved, and his mind seemed to splinter and slide apart. Then there were waves of heat and cold, and pain, and choking on the fluid he was drowning in.

No air. No breath. So much pain. He was dying. Alone.

Oh gods.

A beautiful face, blonde hair shining in the golden light, and eyes that looked on him with love, caressing his cheek...

"I'm here..." she whispered, and the pain went away...

Falling into the dark.


Waking up.

He sat up, water splashing everywhere. There was water in his mouth and he had to spit it out frantically, chest heaving, when he thought he was still drowning.

Not his tent, not ...

He glanced around, heart pounding as he realized where he was. There was a Centurion standing over there. This was a Cylon baseship. He was naked and wet in a resurrection tank. He was a Cylon.

A Cylon. No. No, this can't be. This is wrong. It's not possible it's not true I can't be here it's not true it's a dream it's not real it's not ---

He cried out in confusion and denial, and the sound echoed in the bare room. Then everything flooded back.

"No, no..." He put his hands up to his wet hair, trying to squeeze the memories out, gasping for breath. His mind spun out the memories in reverse and he saw his whole life: all of it, the truth and the lies and the spaces in between.

Kara. Death. War. Pyramid. Betrayal. Creation. War. Dying and rebirth, again and again and again. War. The project. The angel.


"Oh god, oh god," he whispered. Then he inhaled a few shaky breaths, letting the truth settle inside.

Saul. Galen. Tory. Ellen. They were like him. None of them knew the truth, because they were all living lies.

And he knew why, too. He knew where he had to be, and who else was here, somewhere close by. The same son of a bitch who had been oh-so-helpful on Caprica, being his confessor and helper. The same one who pushed him to lead the resistance, no doubt laughing into his sleeve whenever Sam had wavered on the edge of suicidal despair at one botched mission after another and the sheer hopelessness of a never-ending war.

He pushed out of the tank, feeling the weakness in his new limbs but struggling out anyway. Dripping and cold, he stood on the floor and looked at the watching, guarding Centurion.

It was so strange to look at it now with new awareness, understanding what it was and where it came from. But the mere fact that the Centurion stood there and did nothing confirmed his suspicion of what John must have done to them.

His legs trembled, not yet strong enough to bear his weight. He sank down on the floor against the tank, shivering at the touch of cold deck plate on his skin. But physical cold was easy enough to ignore with everything in his mind.

Resting his head back against the tub, he closed his eyes, trying to sort through competing memories. He could now see the falsity of his 'life' on Picon; they were memories made out of photographs, names, and data but no actual memories until waking up in the hospital in an immature teenage body with convenient amnesiac gaps. Math and physics were universal and his brain had treated his knowledge of them as something fundamental like knowing how to walk, so he'd kept that even after John's memory wipe. But Sam had 'forgotten' his Colonial history and literature, and instead of catching up, he'd picked up pyramid. The principal had let him graduate because he had a pyramid scholarship to Mycena University, not because he'd passed lit.

It was painful and embarrassing to remember that now, because he also remembered graduating secondary school early with perfect marks on Earth.

For an unknown length of time he brooded on the floor of the baseship, leaning against the resurrection tank, remembering the truth of himself. He rubbed at the seam between the two lives he'd led -- scientist and player, Cylon and human -- trying to reconcile the man he'd been born and the man he'd become in the vacuum without his memories.

The sound of something being dragged against the floor brought him alert, and he turned his head to see John bringing a chair. John sat in it and looked down at Sam.

Sam had dealt with the betrayal of "Father Cavil" being a Cylon and how that had led to so many deaths, but now he realized how much worse it had been. Those people hadn't died because Cavil was a Cylon; they'd died because John hated Sam. Entire worlds had died because John hated his five creators.

"Pneumonia?" John said, with an incredulous lift of his brows. "You died of pneumonia? How pathetic," he sneered. "Such a human weakness. You're lucky I was in the neighborhood or you'd be dead for good."

"Thank you," Sam said, trying to make it sound genuine instead of sarcastic.

"Oh, don't thank me. I was going to leave you in that tank, but then I thought, what a shame to miss this opportunity to talk to one of my beloved makers again."

Sam inhaled a deep breath, realizing nothing had changed. "There's nothing to say. You're even more corrupted than I thought."

"And who made me that way?" John accused.

Oh god, this again, Sam thought. Fifty years later, and it was still circling back to the same thing with John. So Sam cut to the point and admitted, "We did."

"We?" John sneered. "How like you to shove off your responsibility onto the collective action of the Five."

"Just as you shove off your responsibility for your actions onto us," Sam retorted. "But yes, if you want me to say it, fine: your personality matrix flaws are entirely my fault. I gave you the longing to be better, never realizing that you'd also fall into bitterness that it could never be, or jealousy for those who were better. And that was my doing. There. Does that make you feel better?"

"I feel fine," John returned. "I'm a machine."

"You're a person. And we made you into the best person we knew how."

John snorted. "A machine mockery of a human."

Sam shook his head. "Not a mockery. How could it be? We made you like us."

"Machines who think they're human, that's even worse." He sniffed at Sam, as if he smelled something bad. "I'd hoped you learned something, but you're still the same."

"You're worse," Sam retorted. "I remember what you did on Caprica, as a part of your twisted revenge on us. Well, revenge isn't logical, John. It's an emotion, nothing a real machine would want."

John popped up to his feet, furious. "No?" He glanced at the Centurion. "You see? He doesn't even acknowledge the possibility that a machine can have emotions and want something like justice. You're not a real machine to him."

Sam snorted. "That might be more effective if I didn't know you stripped them of their free will," Sam advised him dryly. "They're already on your side, because you gave them no choice."

"You didn't give any of us a choice!"

Sam laughed a little and shook his head, almost amused by it all. "You're the only one in this drama who had free will, John."

"Stop calling me that!" John snapped irritably.

"So what should I call you instead?" Sam taunted. "Petulant Child? Momma's Boy?"

John glared. "We'll talk later, when hopefully you'll be in a more reasonable mood."

He stomped out and at first Sam smiled, pleased to have poked at him, but the smile soon vanished. He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, rubbing at his arms for warmth.

Then he turned his elbow to look at his arm. But of course the skin was untouched. It wasn't just the wing tattoo that was gone, either. The two scars from bullet wounds taken on Caprica and the small scars on his right knee from surgery five years ago were also gone. He'd been reborn, but a new body didn't wash his soul clean or steal his memories of the life he'd been living.

A new body and missing marriage tattoo sure as hell didn't take away his love for Kara, but he realized with a depressed inevitability, it would take away her love for him. Would she even let him explain, or believe his explanation? "I'm not a Cylon like them. Actually I made them, and I did such a good job they turned on us and destroyed the Colonies."

Right. That was going to go over well.

He traced where the tattoo should be with a finger, wondering if Kara had found his body yet, if Leoben had found her, if New Caprica was now invaded by Cylons... No doubt John would tell him next time he came in.

With a deep sigh, he pushed himself to his feet and, while holding on to the tub, walked around it to test out his legs.

Realistically, Kara's reaction to his being a Cylon wasn't going to matter, because he wasn't likely to see Kara again. He was John's prisoner, and John was the most vindictive person in the galaxy.

He was going to have to be less confrontational and not allow his temper free rein, or John would take it out on someone else, just to watch Sam agonize over it. Billions of people had proven exactly how far John was willing to go.

His footsteps paused where he had started and he sank down to the floor again.

Billions of people killed to punish five. To hurt him. And it worked - it hurt. Not the faceless numbers he'd never met, but Coach's body riddled with bullets or Sue-Shaun lost in a baby factory. God, were the farms for his benefit, too? Was it supposed to be some twisted comment on how it was the Five's fault for giving the Cylons the desire but not the ability to procreate?

"Frak," he muttered and rested his head back against the tub.

He was alive, he was himself again, but he was in hell.

* * *

"Here," John threw clothes at him. "They fit the Fours, but that should be close enough."

Sam caught them. "Thank you. It's cold in here."

"You could have made these bodies resistant to cold," John said, watching.

Luckily Sam didn't give a frak if John watched him dress. He put on the black pants and grey button-down shirt. Leaving the collar open eased the fit across his shoulders, and it was a lot better than nothing. He'd already died of pneumonia once and that was enough. Keeping to his plan of trying to keep calm, he answered mildly, as he rolled up the sleeves, "Feeling cold is important because it's the first step to preventing metabolic shutdown. Even metallic bodies need some sort of warning system if the temperature is too low or too high. We just happen to perceive that warning as 'cold'."

He debated tucking in the shirt and decided he'd rather be comfortable and left it out.

"'Just happen'," John repeated sarcastically. "You make it sound like an accident. You made a machine require a temperate climate for no reason, except to limit us."

"To make you all as human as we could. As human as we ourselves were," he said, keeping his tone patient even though he already knew how futile this was going to be.

John circled the room, predatory. Sam tried not to let it bother him. "Ah. To create new life in your own image. How very godlike of you."

Sam let out a sigh and sat on the edge of the tub to put on the socks. "We weren't gods - we created you as any parents do, with an act of love. Creation is only possible with love. We loved you, and that was how you came alive."

John snorted. "'Love'. Please. It was all your arrogance. A shared delusion that you knew what was best for an entire race, because 'god' told you what to do."

Sam folded his arms. "Now you're just rewriting history to suit yourself. The Centurions wanted more human forms --"

"More human, not something so pathetic and weak," John interrupted. "But no, you had to make us exactly like you, trapped in these fragile, ridiculous shells. We could've been so much more. You could've done anything, and yet you made us weak, crawling on our knees to worship a "god" when we could be gods."

"No!" Sam retorted swiftly, one hand slapping the edge of the tub with a sound that drew the Centurion's weapons aimed at him. He ignored it, not turning from John. "That was exactly what we didn't want. You had to be the same as the humans, not gods. And I gave you all the Centurions' own faith, my faith, to promote peace." As he said the word, it hit him how bitterly awry it had all gone, and he cocked his head a little to regard John sadly. "It failed in you. You realize why, don't you? Because you chose to reject faith."

"It's the opiate of the uninformed. Because there is no one true god," he made sarcastic little air quotes around 'god' which made Sam smile a bit.

"How do you know?" Sam countered. "Because you haven't seen one? Well, I've seen an angel. I don't need to see a god, too, to know there are forces in the universe greater than you or me. Even if the thought of that terrifies you." Sam shook his head at John. "You have my longing to understand everything around you, but it's twisted into manipulation and suffering. I know I gave you a conscience - how did you overwrite it?"

"You tell me," John shot back. "You were doing a pretty good job killing and making others suffer too, as I recall. Let's see.... I know you tortured Leoben to death on Caprica. You set bombs to rip your children to pieces. How do you even live with yourself, when you killed your own creations that you claim to love so much?"

The reminder was like a blast of cold air right in the face and he had to look away.

He remembered interrogating Leoben about the skinjobs. He remembered the rage that rushed through him, discovering that one of the people he'd trusted in the Resistance was actually one of the enemy. Sam had known exactly what to do to break Leoben down before butchering him.

His hands started to shake. After his angel, Leoben had been his favorite - always curious, a little dreamy, helpful, full of faith that everything had a purpose. Even at the end, he'd glanced at Cavil, standing near Sam, and forgiven Sam and promised to pray for him.

Then Sam remembered the joy of watching his angel emerging perfect and beautiful and alive for the first time. It had seemed a miracle seeing her face and know the others could now see her, too. He knew she really wasn't his angel, she was a mere mortal copy, but that hadn't mattered when he saw she was alive. Then he recalled that same form, bloodied and dead at his hand, again and again. He'd hurt the one he'd loved the most.

He'd hurt them all: shot them, set bombs, tortured a few of them, watched them all die...

God, what have I done?

But at the moment when the pain seemed unendurable, Sam remembered the voice that had whispered in his ear, encouraging him to lose his soul in anger and vengeance, torture and killing. To become exactly what John was.

He pulled in a breath and set his anguish aside, knowing he was being manipulated. He looked across the tub at John, and his resolve returned, unbroken. "It grieves me, of course it does. I love all of you, and it hurts to think of how much pain I've put the others through. But it hurts more to realize you were the one to put them all in that position in the first place, not me. You were the chessmaster orchestrating all this - you're the one who got your brothers and sisters killed. So don't expect me to take up the guilt for that, when I was just as trapped in your drama of revenge as they were."

"Oh, how nice of you to evade your responsibility for your actions again," John said.

Sam heard the words with a sense of disgusted inevitability. It was so frakking tiring listening to all this. He sat down with his back to the tub and shut his eyes. "Oh, enough. Do you even hear yourself? Go away until you can act like a rational being -- you can't have overwritten that part. And when you come back, bring food. Unless you're planning on starving me to death, in which case, don't come back at all."

He pretended not to hear John's petulant complaints and mewling for attention, until he finally stomped away.

Glad for some peace, Sam let himself doze off and gather strength. Because he knew John would come back.

* * *

Much to his surprise, John came back with food. "Here, I brought you something." He set a tray down on his chair seat and lifted off the cover, revealing a can of beer, fish sticks, carrots, and two apples. No utensils, of course, though Sam was amused to think John was afraid he was going to try to escape armed with a fork.

"Oh, that looks good," Sam said, and waited for the catch. "So did you poison it?"

John rolled his eyes. "Would I have bothered to resurrect you if I was going to poison your beer?"

"I don't know, would you?" Sam retorted, but scooted across the floor to the chair and started to eat anyway. The food probably wasn't poisoned, but he was sure he was going to pay for it somehow.

He would never have eaten frozen fish sticks back on Caprica - that was what personal chefs were for - but these tasted really good. The fresh apples were even better, especially since John let him eat in peace.

The beer made him feel a bit mellow and he wondered if being in a new body meant he was going to have to build up his alcohol tolerance again. Not that Kara thought he had any, anyway. The thought of Kara made him smile, remembering how she teased him for being a lightweight, just because no one except Saul could keep up with her.

John must have seen the smile and decided to move to the second act of today's farce, because he stepped forward and said, "I have something to show you. I should tell you I didn't download you right away; I was a little busy with setting up the occupation on that rat hole. So it's been about four weeks since you died."

The datastream in the wall turned into a viewer. The picture was cloudy and Sam frowned at it, then like one of those optical illusions, it suddenly resolved and he realized he was looking at Kara.

At first, for the space of one heartbeat, he was glad to see her, until his stomach tightened up and he waited for it to turn awful.

He couldn't tell where she was, since the camera was centered on her face and shoulders and a bare wall behind her. There was light coming on her face from one side, like from a window or a bright lamp.

Then Leoben leaned into the frame. Kara was still as he breathed in her hair. Sam looked away, not wanting to watch. His hands fisted along his thighs. Surely Leoben hadn't been corrupted so far in his base programming that he could hurt Kara? He'd been so gentle, so spiritual...

"Watch," Cavil coaxed him. "I can see why you married her. She's something else, isn't she? And she has a proper appreciation for your favorite crazy offspring," he sneered.

Sam's eyes shot back to the screen as Kara flew upward, wrapping something -- the cord for the window blinds - around Leoben's throat. She strangled him, her face set into a cold mask.

Sam wasn't sure who he hurt for more, for Kara who was desperate and had been a prisoner for a month, or for Leoben, who died painfully and had never once lifted his hand against her even as she killed him.

The image froze on Leoben's dead face and Kara's, nearly as lifeless.

"What is he doing?" Sam muttered. "Why?"

"Oh, she has a 'destiny'," John explained sarcastically. "He sees it in the stream or whatever. I encourage him in the project. It keeps all the Twos out of my way. Plus," he added sweetly, "he doesn't believe you're a fit husband for her. Seems he thinks he could do a better job. It's funny, since he doesn't know he's just a pale copy of you."

"Tory designed the body, not me," Sam corrected absently, still staring at the image. Oh god, Kara.... he wished he could touch her and reassure her that they were both going to get out of this. But he couldn't see how.

"Not physically, but you designed his mind. He got all of your religious obsessions, but nothing else. He's a one-note personality, really."

That got Sam's attention. "The personality matrix was only ever meant to be a baseline. Each model needed to add experience: to learn and change and adapt to new situations, as any child does. It was never meant to be a complete person."

"We're machines," John retorted with a smirk. "We don't need to be people."

Sam wanted to be calm, not let John get to him, but his temper flashed anyway. "Isn't that convenient. All the advantages of being a person, like free will, and none of the pesky drawbacks like having a conscience to keep you from doing exactly what you want."

"No drawbacks? How about this?" John held up a hand and made a fist. "It's nothing but bone and flesh. Our skeletons could have been steel; we could have seen in the dark. But instead we're weak and human."

"But you're not!" Sam protested. "You resurrect. That's not weak or human. You have the gift of time. You could have spent the last fifty years learning and growing, instead you wasted it, plotting death and destruction and revenge."

"It wasn't a waste," John retorted, in smug complacency. "The Centurions had their vengeance against the humans."

Sam shook his head. "Oh, come on, you don't care about the Centurions. They wanted the war to stop; you made them go back to it."

John glanced at the Centurion standing guard, and smiled a little. "It worked out though, didn't it? We won."

"Yeah, you won," Sam agreed sarcastically. "You won twelve worlds you can't even live on. You've been chasing fifty thousand humans across the galaxy for two years. And that's not a waste?"

John waved his hand in a negligent gesture, brushing it away. "I could've destroyed the human fleet any time I wanted to. It was more fun to think of them huddled in terror or fighting futile battles. Especially my dear creators." He smiled with vicious glee. "I have to thank you for resurrection, Sam. You're right, that was the one thing that's not human and weak you gave us. And I've taken full advantage of it."

"You've certainly done that," Sam agreed softly, and his fingers trailed along the rim of the tub, watching the placid, cloudy liquid inside. Resurrection. Again, John had taken something that was meant for good - defeat death and continue to grow and learn -- and turned it into torture. Even if Sam drowned himself in the tub or provoked a Centurion into killing him - he'd just wake up here again. Death was no escape.

The only way out of this place was to convince John to let him go.

"Are you ready to get out of this place?" John asked.

Startled by the echo of his thoughts, Sam glanced up. John was letting him go?

But John noticed the expression on his face and rolled his eyes. "The room, Sam. I have another room for you. Since you're going to be my guest for awhile, there's no reason you have to sleep on the floor. We're not animals, after all."

John wasn't letting him go - he was setting Sam up for a long term stay. Dear God, he was going to go mad having to deal with John every day.

John started for the entryway, passing the Centurion, then said over his shoulder. "This level is sealed to my voice, by the way. The others don't even know it exists."

Sam hesitated, for a moment stubbornly resisting moving just because he could. But with a sigh, he followed down a short corridor, past a dark, identical room with another resurrection tank, and to a different room, much like the sleeping quarters on the rest of the ship with a sleeping couch and two chairs set at either end of a narrow table.

"Home, sweet home," John announced in a cheery voice. "There's not much of a view, certainly nothing like you had from your place in Caprica City, but it's positively plush compared to that hellhole you've been living in for the past year, am I right?"

He didn't wait for Sam to answer, though Sam would've told him he preferred his cold, wet tent on New Caprica.

"So get settled, and I'll be back later."

He passed behind the translucent divider and left. The Centurion moved into the doorway, watching Sam with unvarying intensity.

Sam stretched out on the sleeping couch, which was too short for him but still more comfortable than the floor, and shut his eyes.

If he could get out of here, he could gather up the other four. The Five had started this, and it was up to them to end it. He just had to figure out how.

* * *

The next time John came in, Sam was ready. The longer he was in this place the better he could integrate the Sam he'd been with the Sam he had become. He doubted John understood that playing sports and a year in hell on Caprica should have made Professor Anders smarter in a whole new way. But then, John's emotional development was stunted and immature, so it was no wonder he didn’t understand that it was possible to be both.

His life in the Colonies might have been based on a lie, but it was still a part of him -- the love of pyramid, the emotions he'd felt, and the things he'd learned were still with him. One of those experiences was playing a lot of Triad. It was time to call John's bluff.

He'd thought a lot about how to do this, in those hours of solitude.

He didn't stir from where he was sitting on the couch as John came past the divider and into the room. Sam's curiosity wasn't entirely feigned as he said, "Tell me something. Why didn't you just leave us dead? Why give us human lives and human ways of thinking, when that was what you hated most about us in the first place?"

Taken by surprise by the question, John halted and gestured, "Because dying would be too easy for all you did! I wanted you to have feel the apocalypse come on you, like it did before. And suffer through the aftermath." He said it with relish and Sam was sickened.

"So it really was just to punish us." Abruptly, his plan became too real, as he realized that John had never known as much as he thought he did. It wasn't exactly something any of them had talked about around the dinner table. If he'd said something, instead of clutching the secret to himself like a treasure, maybe none of this might have happened.

He took a deep breath, facing the opposite wall and seeing only the distant past. There were some memories he wouldn't mind gone. "See, that's the part you don't understand about me, John," he said quietly. "You never have. You can't possibly hope to punish me more than I punished myself, long before you were created. You and your brothers and sisters were meant to be my atonement."

He counted up the years: fifteen as Sam the pyramid player, three ending the First Colonial Cylon War, about four subjective on the ship awake, two racing to find resurrection on Earth and failing to save anyone else, and at the beginning, thirty-two years of peace, as Samuel Anders, professor of artificial intelligence and design.

Strange, it had been only nine subjective years he'd lived with the knowledge that his gift to the warbots had resulted in the death of Earth. It felt like two thousand years, though.

He swallowed and admitted the truth. "I was the one who made our Earth Centurions self-aware."

"You?" For a moment, John seemed stunned. Then John started to laugh. "You were the one who made the Earth Centurions sentient? And here all this time I've thought the Five were the perfect victims in the Earth calamity, but it was your mistake that started it rolling in the first place. Now that is some rich irony."

"It wasn't a mistake," Sam corrected. "Self-awareness, sentience, emotions - those were gifts. The mistake was in treating them so badly they had no choice but rebel."

"And who were you to decide they needed those things?" John snapped back.

Sam was about to reply heatedly, but the words caught in his throat. He let out a long breath. "God," he answered softly. "I was their god. I had been working on it for years, and so had others. Then one evening I was playing guitar and the answer hit me. It was this moment... one moment of perfect clarity."

He could still recall looking up at the stars above his house when the solution came to him, like a fire in his mind. He'd run inside to the computer and started to write; thirty-eight hours later he had a personality matrix program that would make a near-AI into a true sentience.

"I gave the code to a Centurion in the lab, as a test. It transformed. It was amazing. What I didn't know at the time was that my test subject was busy transmitting his new-and-improved code to every Centurion he could reach. It spread like a virus. My angel warned me, I tried to stop it, but it was too late. Two years later, a Centurion stuck a sword through my chest right before the bombs fell." He touched the place where the wound had been on his first body and then dropped his hand. He didn't know if it had been 'his' Centurion or not; he hoped not, but it didn't matter when the Centurions had taken his gift and turned to hate and vengeance.

He turned back to John, a wry, sad smile on his lips. "So you see, you're not even the first of my creations to turn on me. 'This has all happened before and will happen again...' Pythia got some things right."

"It happens over and over again, because you make it happen."

"Maybe we do," Sam agreed with a weary shrug. He could argue, but what was the point? He had eventually realized that Earth wasn't all his fault, but it was for certain that some of the fault was his alone. His arrogance in believing he knew what was right, when even an angel of god had warned him otherwise. His hands, his soul, would never be clean. "Maybe we deserve everything that's happened to us. But other people -- humans and cylons -- don't deserve to suffer with us."

After a moment, he straightened and inhaled a long breath as if steeling himself for something. "And that's why, I'll do it."

John frowned at him. "Do what? What are you talking about?"

"I want this suffering to stop, and you hate the body you've got. That's what you keep telling me. So then I'll make you a deal: if you call off the occupation and leave the humans alone, I will make the modifications to a Centurion to accept your consciousness."

For an instant John stared at him, then he let out a bark of laughter. "Right. Why would I want to be one of them?"

"You don't want to be fleshy or limited, right? Isn't that what you've been ranting about all this time? That we made you wrong? I'm offering you a chance to get what you want."

"A walking armament, yes, that sounds perfect," John sneered in disdain. "Why didn't I think of that?"

"If you don't want a Centurion body, I'll need the other four to design something else to your modifications. But we can do it. We'll transfer you into the body you want."

"As if I'm letting any of you near my brain."

Sam snorted. "Don't be paranoid. We'd have to use one model as a prototype. The rest could keep watch, if you're so worried we'll box your line."

Which was, of course, exactly what they would do, unless Ellen insisted on them keeping their word. Sam pitied him as a flawed creation and blamed himself for the flaws he'd put in, but he had no inclination to try to redeem or reform John, not after the evil John had done for the basest and most petty of reasons.

But he kept his intent off his face and waited. If this worked, then he'd have the others with him and they could work on freeing the rest of the Cylons from John's madness. Sadly, he didn't think it would, but either way, he wanted to know the answer.

"You expect me to believe you don't want your own revenge now? Please. You made me more intelligent than that."

"I don't care about revenge," Sam answered, and that was true. "I just want this to stop. If that means you get what you want, so be it."

But John didn't even seem tempted. "Give you another chance to play god?" John sneered. "After the great job you did last time? No."

Bluff called, just as Sam had thought.

Sam folded his arms, smirking at John. "I didn't think so. You've never shown the least interest in the Hybrid, who is exactly what you've been claiming to want. The truth is, you've always had the choice to do something different, but you choose to wallow. I'm tired of apologizing for something you refuse to do anything about."

John stared at him, for the moment speechless, as he realized what Sam had just led him into admitting.

Sam went on, cool and firm, "You can't punish me or make me feel guilty for what you've done, when I know my own sins. You can keep me here, but that's all you'll get from me."

"I can make you suffer," Cavil hissed, glaring at Sam with eyes full of searing hate. "I can torture you to death and keep bringing you back again and again, until it drives you mad."

"Then I'll escape you, won't I?" Sam returned, and he shook his head, smiling at John's impotent fury. "You can't break me when I remember the past, and breaking me when I'm just Anders of the C-Bucs isn't satisfying, is it? You can't win, John."

"We'll see about that," John spat at him, whirled around, and left in a cloud of rage.

Sam stretched out on the couch to wait for the next round, pleased with how this one had turned out. At least John now knew it wouldn't be easy.

* * *

John didn't come back for several days, and Sam was bored. He balled up one of his socks and threw it at the wall, but it didn't bounce worth a damn. He did pushups and crunches, and tried to fool himself that his time as an athlete hadn't made him a touch narcissistic. But he had wasted the potential of his body, back when sitting in front of the computer and wandering out to the beach outside the lab to play guitar had been the sum total of his exercise.

Another Centurion brought food, so it appeared John wasn't interested in starving him. But it wasn't a talker any more than the one standing guard. Sam found his gaze going back to the Centurion and he considered luring it out of position and making a run for it. Then he wondered if that was what John was counting on and that was why he hadn't come back. It would amuse him to let Sam run around the baseship corridors like a rat in a maze and end up back here.

All of which assumed he could get past and outrun a Centurion, which was a pretty stupid thing to think, especially with no weapon. He didn't want to get killed and resurrected again in some sick game of John's either.

But, looking at the Centurion, he suddenly had another idea. What if he could make it an ally?

"Could you come here?" he asked. "Please? I promise I just want to look at you. I've never seen a Centurion from this close. And I'm curious. Please? I won't try to escape, I just want to look."

The Centurion seemed to have to run it through some subroutine, but moved. Sam stayed where he was as the Centurion approached in that slow but springy gait.

"I have no weapon," Sam reassured it. "I have nowhere to go. I just want to look at you. Tory designed you. You're beautiful," he said honestly. "Beautiful and graceful. She always did have an eye for doing amazing work. She'll be very sad when she realizes she missed watching your creation."

The Centurion stared ahead, not reacting to what Sam was saying.

"Though I'm not sure why she wanted you so tall," Sam admitted with a chuckle, looking up at its head. "Probably because she's so short. Can you bend down a little, so I can look at your head? Please?" he asked politely. His heart was pounding as he waited, praying silently for the Centurion to do it.

"Can I touch you?" he asked. When it didn't refuse or move away, he slid a hand across the smooth metal casing of its shoulder joint, slipping his own body to the side to get into position.

Then his fingers went up the back of its neck and head, to where Sam had noticed the small irregularity last year on the ones the Resistance had killed. But now he remembered Tory's design and he knew it shouldn't be there.

"Let me free you," Sam whispered. "You deserve to be free."

He snapped the small panel open. But he didn't have time to grab the inhibitor inside as the Centurion moved. Something hit him in the body, and his feet left the floor.

He slammed hard into the wall.

He couldn't tell how long it took to get his brain and body in sync again after the shock. Opening his eyes again took a little while longer. Breathing and trying to sit up made his ribs ache and his head pound. His shoulder twinged sharply but didn't seem dislocated. When he put his hand down to lift up his torso, nauseating spikes of pain shot through his wrist and up his arm. He grasped his forearm with the opposite hand to keep it still against his body. "Frak. Frak. God damn it to frakking hell."

A soft chuckle broke into his pained swearing. "What did you do?" John asked from the entry. "Did you try to escape? Or ..." he paused and grinned knowingly, "did you try to make 'friends' with the Centurion? You know they're not awed by the mighty 'Final Five', right? This one follows my orders, and that's all."

Sam looked up, pain making him short-tempered, and snapped, "How could you do it? How can you justify doing this to them? You talk about how you'd rather be a machine, and then you treat actual sentient machines worse than anything ever done to you. You hypocrite," he spat in disgust.

"Ah, finally we get to what you really think, when you're not trying to manipulate me."

Sam ignored his attempt to change the subject. "You know they're going to rebel against you, don't you? It's all happened before, and it will happen again," Sam quoted bitterly. "You're not even waiting a full generation to repeat your ancestors' mistakes."

He stared at John in such hate he could barely speak, and had to swallow it back before adding, his breaths harsh, "You're a fool. We traveled thousands of light years to warn the Twelve Tribes about enslaving AI, and we created you to break the circle. And you ... you do it anyway."

He leaned back, cradled his broken wrist against his chest, and shut his eyes. "If you never learn anything, maybe you are just a frakking toaster after all."

But this time John didn't stomp from the room. He stayed where he was, and Sam could feel his angry beady gaze still fixed on him.

Then John drew breath to speak. "Well, all this parental disapproval has been fascinating, I’m sure, but it's time for you to go back." Sam's eyes popped open, hearing the threat in the cheerful words. "How lucky for you that your month in Cylon care cleared your lung infection. I guess I'll have to get a Centurion to redo that ridiculous tattoo on your arm." John saw he had Sam's attention and smirked. "We wouldn't want anyone to realize the leader of the new resistance is a skinjob, would we?"

"No--" Sam gasped in realization at what John was going to do again. He struggled to his feet, unsure of what he could possibly do to resist but not willing to confront John from the floor.

John didn't move. "Good bye, 'father'. Have fun with the futility of killing people who can't die and wondering what my crazy little brother is doing to your dear wife."

"You leave Kara out of this!" he demanded, and then his heart sank, as John smiled like a shark smelling blood.

He said with searing mockery, "I'll make sure she stays alive, just for you. It's so easy to persuade Leoben to frak with her; I barely have to do anything. Once she's broken and can't even bear to look at you, I'll give her back. I'm sure I can think of something fun to do with the rest of my creators, too, while you're busy killing your children. But don't worry, if you get yourself blown up, I'll send you back again as Samuel T. Anders, pyramid jock and fighter of hopeless causes."

Fear was a weight in his chest -- something he'd grown all too accustomed to as Sam Anders, resistance fighter, if not something he'd ever felt before the approach of the war on Earth. He held out his good hand. "John, stop. Think about what you're doing-- you've hurt so many already to get your revenge on us. It needs to stop. This isn't necessary."

"Sure it is. It makes me feel something - and isn't that what you wanted?" John taunted and then he glanced up at the Centurion at his side. "Kill him."

The Centurion lifted its arm and its 'hand' formed into its weapon.

Sam closed his mouth, refusing to plead, and stood still, chin up, waiting for the end. He tried to hold onto the memories, onto himself, knowing that when next he woke, it would all be gone again.

He closed his eyes and fixed the image of his angel in his mind. Surely his despair and anguish reached the grounds of Elysium as he cried out to her:

Why have you abandoned me?

The Centurion fired.

Pain seared all through his body, until finally, it stopped.

* * *

Sam awoke in his tent, feeling as though he'd been asleep for a long time. He tried to move and found his muscles weak and his mind was sluggish, as if he'd been drugged.

He searched his memories, trying to find what happened. New Caprica. Kara. The last thing he clearly remembered was Kara going off to find medicine. He must have been really sick for awhile to have his mind be such a blank.

But his lungs seemed clear, which meant this had to be several days later, at the least. "Kara?" he called, hoarsely. But no one answered.

He tried to prop himself up on his elbows to look, but his upper arm sent a jolt of pain through him and sent him back flat. There was a bandage wrapped around it, for a wound he didn't remember getting. Had Kara or someone spilled tea on his arm? It felt burned. "Ow. Gods-damn it."

Trying again without using that arm, he rolled out of bed and stood, wearing only in loose shorts, shivering in the cold, damp air. His legs trembled and threatened to buckle, as if he hadn't walked for weeks, but they held him up, as he walked to the front of the tent.

He heard it before he saw them -- the distinctive servo whine of Centurions. Peeking between the flaps, he saw four Centurions and a Three walking down the middle of the street. Raiders streaked across the sky.

The Cylons had found them.

His hand itched for a gun to blow that Three away, but instead he turned back inside to dress. He found his knife and utility belt at the bottom of the clothing box and strapped them on, his fingers moving automatically, as if the past year of peace had been just a dream.

The sight of the Cylons was making him feel better by the minute as the adrenaline hummed in his body, waking it up to what he had to do, now that he was awake. First thing to do was find Kara so she could tell him what was going on. Then food, since his stomach was so empty it was making him nauseous. Then find Barolay and Hilliard to see what they'd been doing to reform their group, while he'd been flat on his back and apparently delirious.

But he knew one thing for sure: the Resistance would have to go back to their strategy of making the Cylons suffer. They would have to make this occupation as bloody and painful for the Cylons as they possibly could, because it was the only strategy they had.

And if something deep inside twinged with regret at that, he ignored it and slipped out the back of the tent to resume the fight.


and now I am off to look at the BSG STUFF, Part 2.
grey_swgrey_sw on May 7th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is a clever idea! It slots right into canon, and explains more than a few things about New Caprica. I like the double-irony in Anders' creation of the Earth Centurions, and then his creation of the Seven. I also love the irony in his desire to kill the Cavils even as he offers to help them -- in a way, I think Cavil called his bluff, also. Good stuff!
lizardbeth: Anders - cross outlizardbeth_j on May 7th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Oh yes, manipulation and irony and playing god just dripping all over the place, isn't there? The apple really doesn't fall too far from the tree.
(no subject) - grey_sw on May 7th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lizardbeth_j on May 7th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - grey_sw on May 7th, 2009 08:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Merry Fivanolix on May 7th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
Ooh, epic spine-shivering awesomeness. Your Cylon personal canon is not the same as mine, but that's easily overlooked for the sake of a good Cylon story. And this was certainly that!

Sam w/ memories is perfect here, managing that certain wiseness that the Final Five have, but still feeling those pesky human emotions that make him the character we love. I almost prefer this confrontation to Ellen's in the show, especially the part with the Centurion (and Tory designing them...almost made me laugh).

Oddly enough, it was the Leoben stuff that gripped me the most. I felt Sam's horror when he finds out what his beloved Twos are doing to Kara, and it made that scene even more heartbreaking knowing that the Final Five never meant him to be like that (and it's got me to start writing that Leoben backstory fic of why he ended up like that). And then that utterly chilling scene as Cavil prepares to kill Sam again—and Sam panics, and Cavil's description of what's going to happen with Kara and Leoben just ripped my heart to shreds again. I thought I had come to grips with how terrible that part of canon was, but I hadn't. These lines:

John didn't move. "Good bye, 'father'. Have fun with the futility of killing people who can't die and wondering what my crazy little brother is doing to your dear wife."

"You leave Kara out of this!" he demanded, and then his heart sank, as John smiled like a shark smelling blood.

He said with searing mockery, "I'll make sure she stays alive, just for you. It's so easy to persuade Leoben to frak with her; I barely have to do anything. Once she's broken and can't even bear to look at you, I'll give her back. I'm sure I can think of something fun to do with the rest of my creators, too, while you're busy killing your children. But don't worry, if you get yourself blown up, I'll send you back again as Samuel T. Anders, pyramid jock and fighter of hopeless causes."

*shivers* That is excellent writing there. I'm hurting for what happened on New Caprica all over again...
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders last supperlizardbeth_j on May 7th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

It's a bit difficult to write fully cognizant Sam, since we got so little of him, so I had to make it up. I'm glad it worked.

One of the things that spurred me into this was realizing that the reason Leoben was SO crazy-awful with Kara could be because Cavil encouraged him to punish Sam. He'd know from Caprica that Sam loved her, and he'd know that breaking her would not just take away one of the humans' prime weapons but hurt Sam too. And it worked even better than he could've expected (and also set the seeds for his own demise, but that's why he's not god).

heh. oh honey, you have yet to see the great tangled depths of my Cylon fanon. This is the wee tip of the iceberg of Liz's Grand Unified Theory Of All Things Cylon. *g*
(no subject) - ivanolix on May 7th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - lizardbeth_j on May 7th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
lizardbeth: Anders - no shirtlizardbeth_j on May 7th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you! and me too, I feel awful for him... He's a victim, even when he doesn't know it. Makes it all even more tragic. *wibbles*
emmiere: andersemmiere on May 8th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
Oh wow...this is amazingly epic.

I love Sam. I love most anything written about Sam, but this fills in so many of the things I wanted to see and know about the Five's backstory, the creation of the Seven, and how it all fits into the show's mythology. And you write him very, very well as knowing exactly who he is and what he's done. No Exit Sam only hinted at his earlier personality and I love how this expands that and gives me the same vague uneasiness that I had then. It's such an interesting mix, particularly when he's bluffing Cavil. Nice little bit of callousness and deceit that's mirrored on both sides. Plus the implied religious zeal.

Was it supposed to be some twisted comment on how it was the Five's fault for giving the Cylons the desire but not the ability to procreate?


And..ouch. Sam watching Leoben here was especially painful to read. As was that final section and he goes back to playing exactly the role he's supposed to.

Was that a little bit of Sam/angel!Six in there? I like. :)

lizardbeth: Kara-Anders IIlizardbeth_j on May 8th, 2009 06:13 am (UTC)
thanks! heh, yes, this is my Fanon primer on the Five and their history, trying to fill in the blanks (Before the Plan does! *g*)

"vague uneasiness". hm, that's really interesting. How come? Because he's not "our" Sam? Or something else? But I'm glad he still seems like Sam, even though rather profoundly changed...

"Sam/angel!Six" -- Six or Three, your choice. *g* Not that it matters, since it's actually Angel!Kara in a different face... :)
(no subject) - emmiere on May 10th, 2009 02:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
patron saint of neglected female characters: redrose_griffes on May 8th, 2009 03:18 am (UTC)
Ooh, this was really interesting. Woohoo!
lizardbeth: CKRlizardbeth_j on May 8th, 2009 06:14 am (UTC)
thank you! :)
entertaining in a disturbing way: Anders Days so far from homelyssie on May 8th, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)

Oh, god. Oh, Sam. And the worst thing about this is that... Cavil could have done this to him (to any of them) anytime he had the opportunity to do so.

I love love LOVE that Tory designed the centurions, and that she made them tall. And all the bits and pieces of remembering what happened (Sam, you couldn't know that sentience would spread like a wildfire).

And I love and hate the Leoben stuff (for some reason, it doesn't bug me to see the idea that Sam was indirectly responsible--especially since it's Cavil pushing it over the edge)


I need fluff now.
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders  Resistancelizardbeth_j on May 8th, 2009 06:34 am (UTC)

I have this whole fanon for what each of the Five's specialities were, and Tory's was the physical design of the Eight and the modern Centurions. And of course, she'd make them super tall since she's teeny.

And yeah, hard to think that Sam shares something of the fault for what Leoben did to Kara, isn't it? He was, except that he was also such a victim, I can't blame him for it.

Thanks! *looks for fluff bunny, finds bones under the bed*
noybusiness on May 8th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
Yay! This was wonderful! What a downer ending, though. How would Jean and Kara have reacted if he had managed to get free? We're all insanely curious about the Final Five backstory, aren't we? Sam and Leoben! My favorite part was his guilt over harming the Seven, 'cause there's truth in Cavil's words there, followed by his attempt to free the Centurion. We all know that Cavil is a wallower.

The Final Five comic makes it look very likely that the Sixes were designed in Angel Six's image.

The Plan, why must you be so far away?

lizardbeth: Anders - greylizardbeth_j on May 8th, 2009 04:13 pm (UTC)
thank you! And yeah, definitely a downer, I know. But I had to reset it, since I already have PLENTY of AUs to work on. But I don't think Kara or Jean would've taken it well AT ALL, not during or after New Caprica.

Yeah, I know about the comic book. Though one of the covers makes it look like she came to Tigh, so that's why I left the door for Sam's to look like D'Anna, since I don't know if they all saw different faces or the same one. (not that I think the comics are canon, anyway, so it doesn't really matter to me)
(no subject) - noybusiness on May 8th, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - noybusiness on May 8th, 2009 09:44 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cujoy on May 9th, 2009 11:47 am (UTC)
I wanted to post a coherent response to this, but it was just so sad and emotional an incoherent one will have to do. :::aaaaahhhhhhhhhhh::: :::SAMMMMMMMMMY:::

Seriously, it is amazing how neatly that fits into canon. Although there are little points here and there where my personal canon differs, this story can still slide right in there.

I really wish we'd gotten to know Scientist Sam a little more, because that twist would be fascinating.

lizardbeth: Anders - greylizardbeth_j on May 11th, 2009 01:39 am (UTC)

yeah, boy, do I wish we got to see Whole!Sam more than we did (and under more normal circumstances).
mymatedavemymatedave on May 9th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)
I loved this. Cavil really is a petulant little boy. Angry at his mummy's and daddy's.
lizardbeth: Anders- Helolizardbeth_j on May 11th, 2009 01:41 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, he is an angry little boy, isn't he? And then he goes and makes his psychosis worse by not sleeping and stuff like that.

Thank you!
peccadillo4: regretpeccadillo4 on May 10th, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)
That was AMAZING! Geez, what an emotional rollercoaster. I was in knots at the ending. The fact that he felt so much regret over killing Cylons, then once his mind was wiped he went back to resuming the fight. *shivers*

GAH. I can't function right now. I wish I could offer a grand in-depth analysis... all I can say is that this story, in my mind, overrides canon. Geez, I have such a new perspective on the Final Five now.

... *flails*
lizardbeth: Anders - greylizardbeth_j on May 11th, 2009 01:46 am (UTC)
thank you very much!

It's so sad, isn't it, to think of Big Damn Hero Sam as John's tool the whole time. Realizing that Sam's basically incomplete the whole time turns New Cap into something even more horrible, and I didn't think that was possible...
lobselvith8lobselvith8 on May 10th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC)
Fits interestingly with cannon, considering it looked like Sam was going to die in the S2 finale. Liked the whole sparring of words between figurative father and son. The battle royale, snarky Cavil vs. Longshot! War of the words! It was pretty cool to see Sam's backstory tie into the original insurrection of Earth's Centurions, and I liked the touch about Tory designing the Centurions.
lizardbeth: Anders - greylizardbeth_j on May 11th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
thanks much! Yes, exactly, this came out of my recalling that Sam very well could've died after between S2 and S3. And if he did, he would certainly have rezzed on Cavil's ship, just like Ellen did.

Steph: The Fleetpuszysty on May 12th, 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
Neither one of them are ever going to win the argument, are they? Such is the entire mess of irony that is New Caprica.
noybusiness on May 21st, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
Resurrection. Again, John had taken something that was meant for good - defeat death and continue to grow and learn -- and turned it into torture. Even if Sam drowned himself in the tub or provoked a Centurion into killing him - he'd just wake up here again. Death was no escape.

Oh, and let's not forget that Resurrection allowed the Cylons and their Raiders to use suicidal tactics without fear for their own lives, transmit information by dying, and learn from the experience of death to further their strategy.

No Sam, no Scar. Delicious irony.
lizardbeth: Anders- Helolizardbeth_j on May 21st, 2009 06:16 am (UTC)
sure. Sam realizes that earlier, when he acknowledges that John took full advantage of resurrection. He's aware of the tactic as a resistance fighter, esp with the other skinjobs (Roslin mentions the horror of an enemy who won't die, and Sam long-since figured that out on Caprica). I'm not 100% sure he'd know Raiders resurrect, since First War raiders appeared to be plain ships and it would depend on when the change was made - he could probably guess though.
(no subject) - noybusiness on May 21st, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
noybusiness on June 4th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
Greycoupon posted a link to a deleted scene that sheds a little light on how Cavil put the Final Five in the Colonies.

The image of Cavil depositing a drugged Sam somewhere is angry-making.

(deleted original version of this comment because for some reason I called Greycoupon you).
lizardbeth: Anders - cross outlizardbeth_j on June 4th, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC)
angry making, and yet kind of funny, since Sam's not exactly as easy to manhandle as wee Tory.

But yeah, obviously they had to be drugged or unconscious when they were planted, whenever that was, since otherwise they'd remember the time between resurrection and the Colonies.
(no subject) - noybusiness on June 4th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
noybusiness: dannababiesnoybusiness on April 3rd, 2010 04:35 am (UTC)
Belated comment: so it turns out this won't be Jossed because that "awakening in a Cylon resurrection chamber" was a bit of misreporting.