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08 November 2009 @ 09:02 am
The Thread of Ariadne, Chapter One  

Not All That We Are

PART III - The Thread of Ariadne

Chapter One: Where the Lion Leads

Sam stared at the lion sitting on the floor beside the bed. It blinked its eyes and shook out its mane, and Sam let out a groan. He turned his head and closed his eyes, then looked again, hoping it would be gone. Of course, it was still there.

"Come on," he hissed at it. "Come on. Stand up! Show me Earth, you stupid frakking thing. You're just sitting there! I know you know the way, so tell me!"

He raised his voice at the end, but the lion yawned, showing really big teeth and a long rolling tongue, to demonstrate how little it cared about Sam's frustration.

Then it laid its head down on its front paws to sleep.

"No, don't you dare!" Sam snarled. "You show me the way, right frakking now!"


He whirled, heart leaping at the sudden voice, to see Thea frowning in concern at him from the doorway.

Startlement turned instantly to embarrassment as he realized what he looked like. "I - uh, hey. I was just..." he trailed off and let out a sigh, admitting, "talking to my imaginary friend."

Her lips curled in a smile. "Sam -- "

"I know, I know," he cut in. "I'm hallucinating. It's not really there. Shouting at it makes me look crazy. Crazier," he amended with a glance at the now-empty floor.

"You are not crazy," she said tartly, crossing to him. "It's a vision," she reminded him. "It's the path to Earth."

He snorted. "It's a frakking lion that sits on the floor. Oh, and did I mention, no one else can see it?" he added, irritated.

She laughed. "You're on a Cylon ship. Most of the people you talk to are seeing things that aren't there."

He frowned, having no idea what she was talking about. "What?"

"Cylons project," she told him. "Think of it as a persistent daydream. We can see our surroundings as we choose. It helps us navigate around the ship and generally makes things more to our taste."

"Oh? So what do you see right now?"

"Forest," she answered. "A green forest with tall trees and golden sunlight slanting through the leaves..." She looked around with a half-smile, as if she could see the trees. "I - and most Sixes - prefer to surround myself with the wonders of nature." Her gaze returned to him and her smile widened again, as she trailed her fingers down his arm. "And you."

He blinked, wondering. Was that was the lion was? Was he projecting it, as a Cylon? Or was he just frakked in the head?

She interrupted his musing, "I think, if it was going to talk, it would have already. So it's probably a riddle."

"A riddle?" That was not what he wanted to hear. Why couldn't he just see the frakking path? Why did the gods have to make things so damned difficult? "Frak. Thea, I'm a ball player. I'm lucky I can name all twelve colonies and their capitals, and that's only because I used to play there. I don't solve riddles or do crossword puzzles or things like that."

She shook her head at him, frowning in disapproval but with a glint of amusement in her eyes. "That can't be true. I'm not the pyramid expert that Caprica is, but even I know Samuel T. Anders graduated university before turning pro."

That she wasn't playing along made him grumpy, and he turned away, folding his arms. "I don't like riddles," he muttered. "I want answers."

She chuckled and wrapped her arms around his waist, snuggling up behind him. "Good thing you have me, then, isn't it?" She kissed the bare skin of his shoulder, then instead of stopping there, she nipped across toward his neck, while her hands slid down his sides. "Mm, you taste good," she murmured, her lips making a little heated trail on his neck.

"Thea, we need to figure out the damn lion," he protested, taking hold of her hands in his. He knew where her hands were likely to wander and her touch was hard enough to resist already.

She somehow managed to slip her fingers under his shirt, despite his hands holding hers across his stomach. "Later. I'm busy."

"Thea. Lion," he tried to remind her. But she sucked on that place under his ear that made heat spark through him, and nothing else seemed important. He turned to catch her mouth with his, giving in eagerly.

When she pulled back, her expression was smug, as she licked her lips. "You're right, we should focus on the lion."

He yanked his hands away from her and glared at her for being such a tease, but she laughed and patted his chest to pacify him. "Later. We should get Leoben to help us. The Twos interpret the Hybrid all the time."

"The hybrid?" he asked, frowning. "Hera?"

She shook her head. "No, not that kind of hybrid. The Hybrid is the ... mind and heart of the ship. She operates the ship; she is the ship, in a real sense. But her reality isn't ours and even though she speaks all the time, what she says sounds like complete nonsense. But the Twos manage to pull some meaning out of it. He understood what she told him about you. That's how we knew you were alive, after the Ones showed us the corpse we thought was you."

For just a moment, her eyes flickered with remembered horror and grief, and he realized how deeply the sight had struck her.

But he was interested more in the other part of her words. "And she - the Hybrid - told Leoben about me? What did she say?" Sam asked, trying to sound curious, and not worried. What did she know?

"That you were alive, but in trouble. Something about a fish. So if Leoben understood that, he might be able to figure out what your imaginary friend means."

He tried to hide his relief. "All right, that sounds like a good plan," he agreed with a nod. "And get Sharon in here, too. I don't want her or the Eights to feel left out."

She hesitated. "Anyone else?" He knew exactly who she meant and shook his head. Pressing her lips together, she touched his arm. "She found you and moved the consensus."

He shook her off. "D'Anna can go to hell."

"I know she hurt you, Sam, but without her, you'd probably still be in that hole, or dead."

He folded his arms and shook his head. "She did this to me. She broke something, Thea. She forced the vision, and now it's not... right. I'm not right."

She squeezed his shoulder in sympathy, but didn't argue about that. She said instead, "Caprica shot one of them in the head to rescue you. You're going to have to be the one to bend. If you shut them out, they'll turn against us again, and we need their support. We can't do this alone."

"We can," he insisted stubbornly. "We don't need them."

"Maybe we could get to Earth on our own," she allowed after a moment, "but why would we want to? You can't tell me you went through all that just for a few of us; you're here for all of us, Sam. All of us, even the ones doing their best to make you hate them."

She was right, but he didn't want her to be right. He didn't want to have to put aside his anger to take all the Cylons to Earth, because they didn't frakking deserve it.

He subsided into angry obstinacy. "I... don't want to see her." But he was giving in, and they both knew it.

"I understand," she soothed, and clasped his waist in her hands. "You'll be safe, I promise - and a lot safer if you keep her and the Fours on our side."

He hid his face in her hair, inhaling the clean lavender scent of her shampoo, and wrapped his arms around her. "Not Cavil or Doral. I ... don't know what I'd do." He hated to admit to the weakness, but his heart was pounding in his chest just from the memory of their faces, and he desperately didn't want to see them in person or listen to their voices yet.

"The Fives seem chastened," she said, rubbing one hand up and down his back. "They don't like you much, but they don't like being on the outside either. So there are a few of them here, but they've said they'll stay out of the way."

"And Cavil?" he asked, still tense. Funny, for someone who hadn't hurt him, the thought of Cavil anywhere near him was making him queasy.

"They're gone," she answered.

He wanted to be relieved, but anxiety still knotted his insides. "Just like that?" he asked, disbelieving. "He hates me."

"We know," she said. "That's why the consensus forced all of the Ones off this ship. They called us fools, but they went."

But it wasn't that much of a relief to know there were no Ones on this baseship, when there were plenty more of them on other ships. "They're going to plot against me."

"They didn't seem too bothered to leave, but my sisters will watch him," she reassured him. "The Ones lied to the consensus, something no Cylon should be able to do, so no one trusts them right now. He can't hurt you if he's not here." She lifted her head to kiss him lightly. "Do you want to bring the rest in?"

"No, I don't want D'Anna in here," he said right away, filled with revulsion at the thought of her stepping foot in the room where he slept. He needed some place safe from her, even if that safety was an illusion. "The control room is fine."

Returning to the control room reminded him of when the Centurions had come for him, but he resolutely pushed it away to walk through the room. Caprica was there and she smiled to see him. "You look better."

"I feel better, thank you." He touched her shoulder. "Thea told me about what you did on New Caprica for me. Again."

Her smile faded and she glanced at the entrance, as if to check if any Threes were there, but she answered firmly, "It had to be done."

There was already an Eight in the room, but Sharon came in, with Leoben beside her.

Simon entered, the first time Sam had seen one of the Fours since he'd been taken. Sam took a deep breath, reminding himself that the Fours had voted to imprison him, but they had done nothing to him personally and they had agreed to leave New Caprica. Nonetheless he waited to speak until Simon had approached, not knowing what to say. He didn't even know if calling him Simon would be correct, so he just said, "Hello."

Simon nodded to him once. "Anders." His eyes narrowed as he looked at Sam. "You look unwell."

"I... I'm recovering," he answered, surprising himself with the honesty when he'd intended to say he was all right.

"Good. It was never our intention that the others hurt you," he declared, "only remove your influence. But since it seems you influence us in even worse ways from captivity, it's pointless to try again."

Sam wasn't sure that was an apology or just an acknowledgement that the plan had gone pear-shaped, but Sam decided to take what he could get, and nodded. "Thank you. And I know you have trouble believing I'm telling the truth about what I know. I would, in your shoes -- which I'm actually standing in, so thanks for that, too," he said with a bit of a smile. He was going to add more, but the click of heels on the deck in the corridor outside wiped the thought from his head.

He glanced around to see D'Anna in the doorway. She paused there, no doubt feeling the same buzz of tension that Sam did, as everyone in the room looked at her. Thea moved closer to him, so he could feel her arm against his as a warm reminder of where he was.

Sam swallowed and wished D'Anna had worn something not white. But at least she wasn't one of the ones who had been there to hurt him. Keeping Thea's words in mind, he decided to make the first move. "D'Anna." And he took a breath and added, "Thank you for taking me from that pit." He clenched his jaw to stop saying anything more.

D'Anna's eyes scanned the room, lighting on Caprica, who returned her stare defiantly, and then set on him as she came nearer. "I understand you intend to share your vision of the path with us?" she asked. "The one my sisters helped you find, or a new one?"

His hands curled into fists, and only Thea's fingers slipping over his hand and holding tight stopped him from speaking the furious words that bubbled up. He clenched his jaw and answered flatly, "The one your sisters tortured out of me."

She hesitated, as if surprised Sam was still angry about that, even though it had been only a few days ago. "If you'd had the vision before, we wouldn't have had to resort to other measures. But you were blocking that knowledge from yourself. We helped you release it." Her gaze slid up and down his body and she observed with a bit of a smirk, "You seem at least as recovered as my sisters, who suffered death and resurrection for you."

He was going to snarl at her how the two things were not the same at all, but Thea intervened. "We're here to hear the details of Sam's vision, and help him interpret it. Sam, why don't you go ahead and tell us everything you remember about what you saw?"

Looking away from D'Anna and fixing his gaze on the falling datastream curtain, Sam took a deep breath. The Cylons fell silent, listening. "It started in the darkness. Like being blind. I felt something at my side. I held on, and it led me from the dark into a corridor of a baseship. I looked down and saw I was clutching the mane of a large lion. It led me into a control room just like this one, except there was a huge window right there," he pointed to the opposite wall, "and through the window I could see Earth. We have to follow the lion to Earth. I know that. What I don't know is what the lion means or how to follow it."

"You're sure it was Earth?" Sharon asked.

He nodded once. "I've seen it before."

"What does it look like?" Caprica asks, curiously.

"It's beautiful," he answers, softly, seeing it in his memory again. "Blue and white and green.... Like Picon from space, but different. I see it, and I know it's home."

Thea prompted, "Tell them the rest."

Reluctantly, he added, "I've been seeing the same lion since I woke up." He looked around and shrugged a bit. "I know it's not real, but that doesn't seem to stop me from seeing it. But it doesn't do anything; it just sits on the floor and blinks at me and sleeps a lot. I think it's a side-effect of the neural thingy, but I don't know for sure."

"You will lead the Cylon to Earth, and the lion will show you the way," Leoben said. He had his arms folded, and was listening with a look of curiosity and satisfaction. But then, he'd given a lot to the belief that Sam was an oracle, so Sam supposed being proven right was a vindication. "That much is obvious."

"But what could the lion represent?" Caprica mused. "Leonis? Maybe there was a clue left there, like the Arrow in Delphi?"

"There are bronze lions at most temples of Zeus," Sharon suggested.

"And ancient ones at the Delphi museum, supposedly from Kobol, if I remember right," Thea said.

"There were live lions at the Caprica City zoo," Simon offered.

"They're not alive anymore, are they?" the other Eight scoffed. "It can't be so literal. There's a lion sacrificed in Killandris' opera about the war of the gods. Some people think it represents Athena's death so maybe we should be thinking about Athena, Sharon Agathon, not the mythical one."

Sam wandered away from the group, knowing they were all wrong, but having no idea of the actual answer. He trailed the tip of his finger through the liquid in the datafont, wondering if he could use it. It felt a little thicker than water, and was warm and tingled on his skin.

"It started in the dark, you said," D'Anna's voice sounded very close to him, and he yanked his hand away, startled by her nearness. His gaze snapped up to find her across the datafont. "Like space."

He answered, trying to keep his voice level, "It was just very dark. There were no stars."

"But still, it seems more likely to me that what we want is here, in space, not back on the Colonies."

"I guess."

She frowned at him. "You need another vision."

His stomach tightened, and he thought he was going to throw up. "No, I don't. Not your way." Abruptly anger boiled over and he hissed at her, "You broke it. I don't know what it means because you forced it."

She didn't seem bothered by his sudden temper. "Or you don't understand it, because you need practice," she retorted. "Or maybe some of that herb the oracles use -- chamalla, is it?"

"You don't know what the frak you're talking about." He turned away, to find the others were watching him.

"You need clarity," Leoben observed. "Perhaps a visit to the Hybrid would help."

"No, what I need is for everyone to stop telling me what I need," he snapped. "Gods, I just wanted some help to figure this out. It's a lion - and no, it's not a dead lion in a zoo, or a bronze lion on Picon, or the frakking Golden Lions pyramid team, all right? We have to follow it to Earth, not go find it. That means it's here."

No one spoke for a moment after his outburst, and he folded his arms, thinking wistfully of pyramid. Throwing the ball at the goal was easy to understand, and he could get better at it with practice. But there was nothing definable about this oracle business, like playing pyramid in the dark.

"Maybe it's a star," Sharon suggested. "Leonis was named for a constellation. Maybe we have to figure out what stars were in it."

"We have the image from Kobol, maybe we can figure out a star in old Leonis and go there," Thea said, excitedly, and started to put her hand in the datafont, until Leoben spoke.

"Leo," Leoben corrected. "It was called Leo. The star patterns from the tomb on Kobol are as seen from Earth - they're not going to match anything until we get much closer to Earth."

"It must be some other kind of lion then," Thea said. "I'll check the database for lion references."

"We can make a list," Sharon agreed. "And see if something jumps out at you," she told Sam.

Sharon and Thea both slipped a hand into the datafont.

D'Anna muttered drily, "Are you sure you don't want to try a hallucinogen? It might be more useful than this."

He snickered, and then felt disloyal to Thea and looked away from D'Anna, resolutely not amused.

Later, after dinner, a four-page list of lion references, and several fruitless conversations about where they should go, he sat heavily on the bed. "D'Anna's right about one thing. I need another vision. Is there chamalla on this ship?"

Thea glanced at him in surprise and dismay. "No. You said chamalla nearly killed you last time."

"I took too much. But a little won't hurt." When she looked as if she might be wavering, he added, "I don't know how else to get a vision that might help us."

Her eyes searched his for a lie, but not seeing one, she nodded reluctantly. "All right, just a little," she agreed. "Tomorrow. For now," she straddled his legs and looked down into his face, "I have something else in mind. Remember I said later? Well, it's later." She pulled off her tank top and grinned at him. "Do you see a vision yet?" she teased, and then gave him a slow lingering kiss. "How about now?"

"Mm, I think it's getting a little clearer." His hands caressed her bare back, and her lips came down on his again, as she squirmed around on his lap.

He fell backward, pulling her, laughing, down on top of him.

But she wasn't enough to keep the nightmares away.

... He's in a small, bright white coffin with a transparent lid. Cavil stands above him, smiling with sheer sadistic pleasure... Sam pounds on the lid with his fists, as the space shrinks, smaller and smaller, and steals his air...

On to Chapter Two: A Ray of Hope
noybusiness: lolcatbsgnoybusiness on November 23rd, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
"Later. We should get Leoben to help us. The Twos interpret the Hybrid all the time."

"The hybrid?" he asked, frowning. "Hera?"

I have this image of Leobens trying to interpret "Gooh gooh gah gah".
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on November 24th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
that would be the wrong hybrid, yes. *giggle*

Enjoy the rest.
noybusiness: lolcatbsgnoybusiness on November 24th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
"Bah Bah"

"That either means she wants her diaper changed or this sun blown up."
Allisonfrolicndetour on November 24th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
Ooh, very exciting! The nightmare is so ominous. Cavil is a fantastic baddie. I'm glad your version of the Team Pretty alliance includes the Fours.

And Sam/Six is pretty damn hot, even if I'm dying for the OTP to hook up again. Threesome? ;)
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on November 24th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
Team Pretty is very pretty, yes. (I always feel vaguely mean to Matthew Bennett when I say things like that... *g* )

Cavil is indeed a baddie, though he's lost quite a bit of the rest of the Cylons' unquestioning obedience right now so he has to find other ways.

Have fun!
Merry F: sam andersivanolix on November 26th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
Finally I have time to read this! Sorry for the wait...

You know i love Kara/Sam to death, but I'm feeling all conflicted about the almost triangle. I want Thea to be happy, whatever happens, and I'm not...gah, you'd better not kill her or break her heart!

I just love watching the Cylons strategizing; they're so calm and a little clueless and yet so earnest, it makes me giggle.
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on December 1st, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
I have read all your comments, thanks so much! It's always fun to hear what people are thinking as they go.

But let me tell you, if you're sad about this messed up triangle, you should be me. :)
Merry Fivanolix on December 2nd, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
Yes, but when I write romantic conflicts, at least I know that I can make it all turn out all right if I want...it's torture to read it in someone else's fic! (*cough*especially given my knowledge of some of the angsty fare you've written*cough*) The mythology, on the other hand, I don't mind being teased about, since I know you'll take it somewhere I'll love. ;-)
emmiere: Samemmiere on November 29th, 2009 04:13 am (UTC)
I am free to read this now, yay!!! :)

I like the Cylon dynamics still set up and I'm curious what Cavil's up to elsewhere, I'm putting in my vote on Ellen right now. And Sam/Six is filling my Sam alterna-ship veerrry nicely. Guh. :)

Edited at 2009-11-29 05:02 am (UTC)
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on December 1st, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC)
yay! hope you enjoy/enjoyed. :)

Cavil is pulling some strings, and of course, we know (even if none of the characters do), that he has another project, besides messing with Sam after New Caprica. That's one of the things I love about that particular retcon- it fits with MY fic so perfectly, I didn't have to change a single thing...