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10 November 2009 @ 07:51 pm
The Thread of Ariadne, Ch. 4  
Chapter Four

She stood in a long hallway of a building. The place seemed rich to Kara, with thick carpet under her bare feet and a high ceiling hung with glittering chandeliers. She turned slowly, trying to decide which way to go, but either direction seemed the same.

A high-pitched girlish giggle surprised her and she spun around to find the source.

At the far end, she saw a tiny child standing alone.

“Isis?” Kara started toward the little girl with the distinctive dark curls, but Isis started waddling away. “Isis! Wait, honey!” Kara ran to catch her.

Kara reached the bottom of a set of wide stairs. Isis was above her, and as Kara started up, Isis crawled over the top one and out of sight. “Isis!” Kara chased her, unable to believe that a tiny toddler could disappear so fast.

At the top, Isis was nowhere to be seen in this upper hall. There was light streaming in through high narrow windows, almost as if it was a temple. On the opposite side, curtained archways opened inward, one after another. There were old symbols above each one, but Kara paid little attention, picking the first door and going in to look for Isis.

She realized this place was a theater, as she emerged into the back of a balcony full of padded seats. She went down the slanted aisle toward the front, looking around in amazement. She’d never been in a theater like this -- it was similar to the Caprica City symphony hall but much larger and more ornate. It probably seated as many people as the C-Bucs Coliseum, with rows and rows of seats on three levels, all facing toward the stage. There were even fancy boxes to either side of the stage for people to see and be seen.

The stage itself was immense and mostly bare, except for some hanging white drapes. Five white-robed and hooded figures stood on the trailing ends of those drapes. and they seemed to glow in the golden stage lights. Other than herself and Isis, they were the only people in this whole place, so she called out loudly, "Hey! Have you seen a little girl?"

They didn't move or seem to react to her at all, even though her voice echoed in the theater. "Hello!"

But she heard Isis giggle again and looked around, trying to find her. Movement caught her eye, and she watched as a Cylon emerged onto the box to the right of the stage. Given that it was an Eight in a Colonial flight-suit, Kara knew who it had to be -- one of them, at least. "Sharon!"

But Sharon didn't hear her either. She went to the railing of the box and her expression was frantic, as she called, "Hera! Where are you?"

Isis giggled again and appeared in the box directly opposite Sharon, who seemed to see her, too. "Hera!"

Isis laughed and said distinctly, "Mama!"

"Stay there, Hera! I'm coming," Sharon called to her and ran out of the box.

Kara was closer and hurried back to the hallway, running toward the last arched entry to the box. When Kara pulled back the curtain, bright light shone in her eyes.

* * *

Kara opened her eyes and saw the bottom of the rack above her.

The dream was still with her and though she wanted to dismiss it as just a dream brought on by seeing Karl and Sharon and Isis yesterday, she didn't think she could. The dream had the same hyper-real feel to it that some of her dreams about Sam did, and didn't seem like the usual surreal sorting of her subconscious. She remembered it all, as if she'd been there for real -- the hall, the lights, the strange white-robed figures, and Sharon calling Hera.

But if the dream meant something, the only thing that seemed reasonable was that Isis and Hera were the same person. She'd been chasing Isis but Sharon had been chasing Hera - and Isis had called Sharon 'mama'.

Yet that couldn't be. Hera was dead. Karl had spread her ashes in space. For it to be true, would mean that Doctor Cottle had lied to both the Agathons, and since Kara doubted he'd done it of his own volition, someone must have ordered him to do it. But who would do that? While Kara had no doubt many people would lie to Sharon, who would be cruel enough to Karl to tell him his baby was dead?

Cottle had needed to tell Roslin about Isis being alive. Roslin had some special connection to the little girl that seemed far more important than being just the orphaned daughter of a schoolroom assistant.

It had to be Roslin. The Admiral might go along with it, but she couldn't believe he'd choose to give Karl the same pain he'd felt when Zak had died. Especially not when he seemed to see Helo as something of a replacement for Zak anyway. So it had probably been Roslin's anti-Cylon paranoia that had started it.

But even if this was true, Gods, she couldn't accuse the president or the admiral of lying to the Agathons on the basis of a frakking dream. She couldn't tell the Agathons and raise their hopes. Frak, she needed to find out if it was true first.

She was still trying to figure out how to find out if it was true when she went to see Kelly about moving the Brynn family -- a mission that had become more important after finding out that it might be Hera now living in “Camp Oilslick.”

"Starbuck, there's no space - we are stuffed to the beams - " he complained.

"Kelly," she glared at him, not willing to take that crap excuse. "Two tiny toddler girls are bunking on the hangar bay. It's not right, it's dangerous, and Cottle says it's not healthy either."

He groaned and rolled his eyes. "It's not that simple--"

"Sure it is. You move them."

"So what's your interest anyway?" he asked, letting out a disgruntled breath.

For an instant Kara considered telling the truth, that she thought Isis might be Helo’s daughter, stolen from him and Sharon, but bit her lip. Not yet. She shrugged. "Julia asked for my help to find the littlest one's family, if she has one left."

"All right," he gave in with a sigh. "I'll switch them with someone in the starboard pod, but you know conditions suck there, too, right? Hopefully we can clear some of the crowd out to the fleet soon before conditions get worse."

She smiled brightly at him. "Thank you." He irritably waved her to go away, and she left, to go back to the hangar bay and tell Julia the good news.

In the hangar bay, she paused, curious, as the president's aide, Tory Foster, and two marines of the presidential detail came out of Racetrack's Raptor. Instead of heading for the exit and the command staff, Foster headed for the far corner where the refugees were housed.

Kara frowned. Her dream was starting to look more true.

She hurried toward them. "Ms. Foster? What brings you to Galactica?"

Foster turned and smiled a greeting. "President Roslin sent me to retrieve the child Isis. And her foster mother," she added, almost as an afterthought. "I'm bringing them to Colonial One. You're acquainted, I believe? Would you escort me to them?"

"Sure, I'd be glad to," Kara said and led the way. Then, just to see what Foster would say, Kara asked, “So Isis has family?"

"No, she's an orphan," Foster told her. "But the President intends to ask Ms. Brynn if she would continue caring for the child on Colonial One."

"On the president's ship? She must have been very close to the girl's mother," Kara said.

"Maya helped us in the school."

Kara frowned at her, in pretended confusion. “Doctor Cottle said Maya was a foster mother.”

Foster glanced at her, as if starting to sense that she knew something. “That’s right. Isis was already orphaned, and Maya’s own child had died.”

“So her baby must have died about the same time as my friend Helo’s baby girl Hera, then,” Kara said. “How very sad.”

Foster looked uncomfortable, and faced forward to avoid her gaze. “The child was half-Cylon, Captain Thrace."

“And half-human. Hera’s also Captain Agathon’s child,” Kara corrected, looking for evidence of guilt. "Helo's my friend and I can tell you her loss hurt him, a lot."

"I'm sure it was difficult for him," Foster said, as if she knew it was the right thing to say, but it didn’t actually mean anything to her. She walked faster, as if to get to Camp Oilslick and steal Hera again and be done with it. Kara glared at her back, now pretty sure it was true and Foster knew about it.

Kara glanced at the marines who were following them, and wondered what orders they had, and how she was going to do this. Hera needed to go home - she remembered how distraught Sharon had been, and Helo less so, but only because he'd been fighting so hard to keep Sharon from leaving him, too. But Kara had seen him, in those months afterward, and knew the loss had hit him, too.

"I need to talk to Chief Tyrol for a moment . Be right back," she said to Foster and hurried to the side of the deck, before the other woman could say anything.

"Captain," Tyrol greeted her, looking confused.

"Get Sharon here," Kara murmured to him urgently. "I think Hera's still alive."

Tyrol stared at her, as if she'd gone out of her mind. "What?"

"The dark-haired girl with Julia Brynn is Hera, I'm sure of it. Tory Foster is here to take her again, and never tell Helo or Sharon she's alive."

"Do you know what you're saying?" Tyrol demanded.

Kara returned his stare levelly. "I'm saying President Roslin faked Hera's death and stole her from the Agathons, Chief. And that's not right. Are you gonna help them get her back?"

Tyrol glanced over at Foster and leaned closer. "If the Old Man knows, Starbuck…"

She hoped he didn't know, because she didn't think her faith could take that big of a hit where the admiral was concerned. But she answered confidently, "Then he'll tell the truth if we make him. But we need some kind of proof or confrontation. Get Sharon down here and we'll see what happens. Don't tell her why."

Tyrol gave her another look as if to make sure she was serious, then he nodded and moved toward the phone. Kara returned to where Foster was waiting impatiently and hoped her smile looked somewhat sincere. "Sorry about that. Here, I'll show you. Julia's a friend of mine."

She went the long way through the camp to give Athena more time to get there and got "lost" once down the wrong aisle. "Sorry, it’s a bit confusing," she explained to Foster.

They went past many other refugees and finally got to the rack where Julia was sitting, showing Kacey how to knit while Hera sat on the bed playing with a length of string.

Foster recognized the child and smiled, striding forward purposefully. "Isis! There you are!" The girl didn't look or seem to know Foster was there, but Julia glanced up.

She seemed pleased to see Kara, smiling. "Kara?"

"This is Tory Foster," Kara introduced. "She's President Roslin's aide."

"Yes. And I'm here to offer you and Isis and your daughter a berth on Colonial One," Foster said. "Isis has no other family, so if you'd be willing to take care of her, we'd love to have you on the president's ship."

Julia looked pleased for a moment before she frowned and glanced at Kara. "I… That'd be nice, and of course I remember you from New Caprica. But I don't understand why…"

"It's important that Isis have a parent who understands children, and since she's already bonded with you…" Foster shrugged a little.

Julia said, "But I've already got Kacey, and I know there are others who have lost their children. Like that Captain Agathon, I know he and his wife might like to take care of her instead."

Kara couldn't hide her grin as Foster tightened her lips as if she might throw up at the innocent suggestion. "Well, that might be, but for now the president thinks it's a better idea to keep the disruption in Isis' life to a minimum--"

Little Hera looked up, past Kara's shoulder and smiled.

A soft voice whispered, "Oh my God... Hera?"

Kara turned to see Sharon standing there in tanks with her flight suit folded down, gazing in wonder at the girl. Tyrol was at her side, also staring at Hera.

Foster took a deep breath and took two steps, to stand between Sharon and Hera. "Lieutenant Agathon," she greeted, curling her lip in utter distaste. "This is Isis. She is not your daughter. I don't mean to be cruel, but Hera is dead."

Sharon shook her head, not taking her eyes from Hera. "No. I know her. I've been seeing her in my dreams every night since we left New Caprica..."

Every night? Kara realized she'd also had one of those strange, vivid dreams about Sam every night, except last night when she'd dreamed of Hera. Her stomach made a slow turn of apprehension, realizing these dreams had to be sent by the gods. Accustomed to thinking of Sam as the oracle, it felt unsettling to realize he wasn't the only one.

And somewhere in the back of her mind, she heard her mother's voice telling her she was special. She really didn't want to think about that.

Luckily Foster drew her attention by scoffing, "Oh, dreams," in a tone of voice that suggested Sharon was crazy. The woman had never had dreams like this, or she could never say that.

Foster turned imploring eyes on Tyrol. "Come on, Galen, after what Cylons did to Cally and your baby, why are you even listening to this toaster's delusions?"

"This toaster saved your ass by getting the launch keys," Kara cut in, disliking Foster more and more by the minute.

"Which we only needed because her people made New Caprica into their playground," Foster snapped back.

Tyrol lifted both hands. "Stop. Just stop, both of you. Is it true?" Tyrol demanded roughly of Foster. "I was there when Helo dumped Hera's ashes into space. Were they fake?"

"Of course not!" she exclaimed, throwing up her hands in exasperation. "Why would you even begin to believe the ravings of this mad Cylon?"

"'Mad Cylon'?" Sharon's dark eyes slipped to Foster, hard and sharp as lasers. "Roslin stole my baby. You haven't even begun to see a mad Cylon."

"Is that a threat toward the president?" Foster asked with cool aplomb.

"If she tries to take my child again, you can bet on it," Sharon retorted.

Julia was on her feet, glancing between Foster and Sharon. "This is your baby? Why would they pretend she was dead and lie to you?"

"Because she's a toaster," someone else called out, and Kara realized that other refugees were listening. This could all get spectacularly ugly real fast, and she realized the hangar deck might not have been the best choice of place. Her gaze met Tyrol's and she nodded in answer to his silent question. He backed away, hopefully to get some deck hands or find a phone to call for some backup.

"She's a mother!" Julia called back, incensed.

"Of a child that died," Foster insisted. "This is Isis, Maya's daughter, not hers."

"Oh, stop," Kara snapped, well past annoyed now. "You know you've been found out, so give it up."

Of course she didn't. "We're under orders to bring Isis back to Colonial One," Foster said. "I suggest you come with us and we'll discuss it there."

"We're not going anywhere," Sharon declared in a tone of voice that Kara had never heard from her before, wintry and absolute. Her hand settled on her sidearm, and the two marines with Foster grasped their weapons, too.

Kara saw it and swallowed. "Sharon, no," Kara shook her head. "Don't."

"They stole her, Kara," Sharon said and for an instant, her lips trembled, before she pressed them together and swallowed. "They'll have to kill me to take her again. And if they do, I'll come back for her." She glared at Tory, while clutching her sidearm in her fingers, still in its holster. "That's Hera. I know it; I can feel it. And she's not going anywhere."

"Actually, she is," Foster said and gestured to the marines. "Lieutenant Agathon is clearly delusional and obstructing a presidential order. Restrain the Cylon if she interferes."

"Stand down," Kara snapped. "There'll be no restraining an officer under my command. And you, lieutenant, keep your weapon holstered. Nobody's doing anything with the kid until we get to the bottom of this."

For a moment all was still, until Julia's diffident voice said, "Uh, Captain? Kara? She's gone."

Kara glanced at the bed, and sure enough, Hera wasn't there anymore. Kara spun around, frowning, looking around. Both Foster and Sharon became frantic, calling out 'Isis' and 'Hera', running in opposite directions, while Julia looked under the cot and talked to her neighbors, trying to find where the girl had gone.

"She's over here!" a voice called from an aisle over. Kara ran to get her. Not quite there, she heard, "She went under the cot!"

And Foster's voice was sharp, "Isis! Stop this at once!"

A giggle soared out above the melee, and another voice exclaimed, "What the hell!"

"Someone get a hold of her!" Kara called out.

She followed the noises, ducking rudely underneath other people's curtains and stumbling on their meager belongs with a muttered 'sorry', before continuing. For a little thing, Hera was fast in real life, too.

Finally, she had Hera in sight. "Hera! Sweetie, stop! Stop her!" she shouted at the marine in the door.

But the marine stepped aside, like a moron. At least Kara thought so until she realized he'd moved because the Admiral, with Helo behind him, was stepping through. His gaze dropped to the toddler wobbling pell-mell right to him, and Kara and the crowd following her. He bent and scooped up Hera into his arms with a father's familiarity. He settled her onto one side, and directed his lowered gaze at Kara. "Captain! What's going on here?"

She took a deep breath, glanced at Helo and wished there was an easier way to say this, "Sir, we believe that's Hera Agathon."

Adama's eyes widened and he looked at Hera. She reached for his glasses and he absently pushed her hand away.

"What?" Helo looked clubbed. "But that can't be... How can that be possible?"

"It's not," Foster said, coming up beside Kara. "Her name is Isis."

"You liar!" Sharon spat at her. "That's Hera. That's my daughter, and all of you lied to us!" She was rigid, glaring at Adama.

"I never lied to you," he said. "As far as I know, your daughter died. What makes you believe differently?"

She relaxed slightly with relief, hearing he didn't know, and she explained, "I've been dreaming of her. And here she is. Now Roslin wants to take her from me again."

Foster's voice remained deeply respectful. "Sir, President Roslin grew close to Isis on New Caprica; honestly she just wants to see the girl is safe."

Adama's gaze flickered to Hera in his arms, Helo hovering at his shoulder and to Kara and Sharon, then back to Foster. After a moment he said, "Ms Foster, it's been my experience when people say 'honestly' they are being anything but honest."

She straightened as if slapped, but didn't dare say anything.

"But this isn't the place for this discussion," Adama continued. "Chief, get your deck back in order. Starbuck, Helo, Athena, and Ms Foster, let's go."

Karl and Sharon could barely take their eyes off the girl in Adama's arms, as he turned away, but still managed to hold hands as they hurried after.

"Oh frak," Foster muttered under her breath, but Kara caught it, and had to smile a little, as she followed behind them.

On to Chapter Five: One Comes Home
Merry F: helo athena heraivanolix on November 27th, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
Yay! Family restored—awesome! Also...Kara having visions, yes, yes, yes. Love it!
entertaining in a disturbing way: Kara and Sam are in loooooooovelyssie on January 10th, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)
but still managed to hold hands as they hurried after.

*giggles like a small child* So cute.