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10 November 2009 @ 09:13 pm
The Thread of Ariadne, Ch. 6  
Chapter Six

Sam had no idea how the word had spread, though he guessed it must have gotten into the datastream somehow, but first thing in the morning, Sharon and Caprica were waiting for them in the dining room.

Caprica gave Thea a hug and a kiss, grinning, "You are blessed, sister."

"It's a miracle," Sharon said.

"A sign of favor from God that our cause is just," Natalie agreed, embracing Thea as well, as another group came in.

Simon nodded and even though his lips turned upward only a little, it was enough to make him look profoundly pleased. "Indeed. We are following the correct path."

Leoben added, "Hera led the way, and she opened a door that has allowed for the continuation of our race in the way God intended."

Sam spread jelly on his crackers for breakfast and was amused that his own contribution was being utterly ignored in all the excitement about a second pregnancy. But that gave him the chance to watch the ebb-and-flow around Thea -- who came to congratulate her, and who did not.

None of the Fives came forward, though two different ones entered the dining room to look toward Thea and Sam and then left again. They didn't look pleased at all -- though how could they be? The child cemented this faction into believing they had their god's favor.

But D'Anna's reaction was the most disturbing to him. She knelt on the floor before Thea's chair and held out her hand, with an intense, eager glint in her eyes. "Sister, may I?"

"Sure, if you want," Thea said with a confused shrug. "There's nothing to feel yet on the outside. I merely know there's a new life there, and I feel the physical changes in my body. It's very early."

"Nonetheless, this is a miracle," D'Anna murmured and placed her hand gently on Thea's stomach. "A child for us all."

Sam tensed with the instinct to tear her hand away. Her words were reverent, but her expression was greedy. It wasn't a child for everyone - it was his and Thea's. "It's going to take awhile," he reminded her, not able to keep the sharpness out of his voice. "Almost a year for a baby to be born."

Baby. Damn, saying the word seemed to clog something in his chest. He cleared his throat and forced a smile. "Hopefully that's time enough to find a whole lot of diapers."

Thea put a hand over his and smiled. "We'll have plenty of time to learn what to do."

Simon added, in what Sam hoped was an attempt at being reassuring, "We know a great deal about the many things that can go wrong."

The reminder of the baby farms made Sam a little ill, but at least the Cylons weren't quite as ignorant about pregnancy as they were broken legs, even if it was worrying to realize they'd never brought a pregnancy to term successfully.

"Another hybrid child is a gift of God," Caprica declared. "A reward for your love. I have faith everything will be well."

Another Three entered, followed by a Five and Six. At first Sam figured they were coming to visit Thea, too, but they were urgent, addressing everyone. "We have a problem."

Doral stared at Sam accusingly. "We've lost contact with the baseship we sent to investigate the pulsars in the nebula. We received a garbled distress call, then silence."

The Three demanded, "What did you send them into, Anders?"

He stood up. "Nothing."

"'Nothing' doesn't attack a baseship," she retorted and turned on her heel. Doral followed her, glancing over his shoulder to glare at Sam as he left.

"Command center," Natalie said, and followed them.

Sam and Thea trailed behind, with Sharon, Caprica, and Leoben.

The command center was busy: every datafont had someone there reading data. Thea pushed her way in and put her hand in the liquid to get a reading, too.

"This is impossible," one of the Fives spat in incredulous dismay.

Simon shook his head a little. "It is not only possible, it may have been inevitable once we took human form."

"We're not human," Doral insisted furiously. "We're not like them."

"We're enough alike to bear children with them," Thea reminded him and he made a disgusted face.

Simon answered, "God chose this time, this place, to test us. You think it is a coincidence, brother, that we discover this thing which kills the same day we discover the gift of new life among our own?"

Doral looked as if he was going to throw up.

Sam leaned closer to Thea and murmured, "What's happened?"

She shook her head, looking distressed. "The baseship -- it's been infected by some sort of disease."

"It's killing them," Sheryl said from her datafont. "All of them."

"Disease?" Sam repeated blankly. "From what?"

"We don't know," Caprica answered, but couldn't finish.

"This was a trap all along," Doral accused, his gaze flinty.

"They're dying because you sent them there," another Eight added.

Feeling cornered, Sam backed into the datafont and protested, "It's not a trap! I didn't know this would happen!"

"You told us to go there," D'Anna reminded him coldly. "And now the entire baseship is dying."

He was going to object again but the back screen suddenly blanked and changed, catching his gaze. His voice wouldn't come out. He could see the frozen image of a very ill Six, who looked just like Thea. She had blood on her face, and if she wasn't dead, she was dying. Barely visible behind her in the gloom were others, pale and bloody. He stared, caught by some vague memory. Then he realized why that image looked so familiar. It hit like a blow.

"Oh gods, I did know." He reached out blindly for Thea's hand, taking it in his. "I saw this months ago," he murmured. He blinked, remembering his chamalla-enhanced vision, in all its color and horror, especially the part about the suffering, dying Cylons. "I saw them dying. But I didn't know what it was. I didn't know when."

"Sam, we know you didn't send them deliberately," Thea reassured him, although not all the rest of them seemed nearly so sure of him.

Simon had more bad news to report. "It appears to have infected their Hybrid as well. If an infected Cylon dies," Simon added, "he might carry the disease into the resurrection ship and the hub. It could spread through our entire race."

Sam frowned, wondering how that could possibly work, but Sheryl added, "The Centurions shut down when the Hybrid was infected."

"And the Raiders and the ship itself, then," D'Anna said. "We're all susceptible."

"Then no Cylon can board that ship without risk of infection. But a human would not be affected," Leoben said and turned to Sam with expectation in his face.

Sam hesitated, as fear curled up in his belly, and he felt queasy. If he was Human, he shouldn't be affected. If he was Cylon, he would die. And … if he wasn't either… he had no idea what would happen.

"Then you can go," Thea turned to Sam, anxious and clutching him. "You can find out what happened to them."

"But if we're enough alike to have a baby..." he objected with a halting gesture to her belly. "How can you be sure a human won't be affected?"

Simon answered, "We were created in your image, but from the Cylon genetic pool. There is overlap, but the process of creating our bodies introduces significant molecular changes. There should be nothing to worry about for you."

That almost made Sam laugh. 'Nothing to worry about.' Right. He licked his lips, knowing he was showing his fear and it might make them suspicious, but he didn't want to go over to that ship. "I'm not a doctor. I don't know anything about diseases."

"You can at least board the ship," Simon told him. "We need to know where this infection came from."

"Unless you don't want to help us, after all," Natalie said, with a chill tone in her voice.

"You know some science," Thea reminded him, more kindly. "You can do it." Her eyes were less encouraging and more imploring, and her grip on him was tight. He had to do it - because not doing it was going to make the others' support fall away from him. Frak.

Glancing at the frozen image of the dying Six, looking so much like his vision - his heart twisted with pity and guilt. Because D'Anna was right - this was his fault. Without him, this wouldn't have happened.

"All right," he said, nodding. "You have a Colonial ship I can fly?"

"We do," Natalie said. "A Raptor."

"And we still have your flight-suit," Thea reminded him. "Just in case."

He took a deep breath, trying to quell the anxiety roiling in his stomach. "Then, let's do this."

They brought him down to a docking bay where there was a Raptor waiting, and Thea handed him his flight-suit. He gave her back his pants and outer shirt, leaving him his underwear and t-shirt, and zipped up the suit. He was chagrined to realize how loosely the suit fit - he still hadn't regained the weight he'd dropped in that cell.

Thea handed him his helmet and brushed his cheek with her hand. "Find out what happened, but don't risk yourself," she murmured.

He didn't tell her that the whole trip was risking himself; he just nodded and made a smile. "It'll be fine."

She leaned forward to kiss him. "Our daughter should know you," she whispered.

The news went through him like a burst of light, and he seized her arm in his free hand. "Daughter? You're sure?"

She smiled, eyes shining, and she nodded. "Come back to us," she murmured and let her fingers trail along his arm as she pulled away and walked down the wing to let him go.

Knowing about the child gave him some hope he wasn't going to get infected, and he carried that hope with him.

* * *

He jumped the Raptor into view of the baseship. It was obviously dying. Dead Raiders were floating around, and the ship wasn't rotating, as it
should be, but instead looked small and shrunken, its arms curved and twisted up like an octopus left on the beach in the sun.

Inhaling a deep breath, he muttered, "Oh gods. This is a bad idea."

"Yes, it is, Samuel."

The unexpected voice during what should have been a solitary mission startled him, and he turned his head to find Kara sitting in the co-pilot's seat. She was wearing Colonial tanks and lounging back, with her feet up on the console. She looked real, but these days that wasn't saying anything.

Since it was completely impossible that she could be Kara, he knew who she had to be. "You're back."

"You don't sound very excited," she observed dryly.

"You visit me in crazy visions or when I'm about to get tortured," he pointed out, "so I'm just wondering which it'll be this time."

She shook her head at him. "So little faith in me?" she teased. Her gaze went back to the front window and the dying baseship. "You're not going in there, are you?"

"Yes, I am."

She made a sort of disapproving humming noise.

He asked, "Shouldn't I?"

She didn't answer the question. "Why do you want to go?"

"Because I sent them here. They're dying because of me."

She murmured, "They're not the first, Samuel. They won't be the last."

"Maybe not, but I did this. They're dying, for good, without resurrection. And I have to find out why."

She said nothing for a little while, then turned her head to face him and warned, "There will be consequences, if you go on board. To you."

"There always are."

"No," she said sharply, and her face was hard in a baleful warning. "Not like this. Listen to me. If I have to intervene, it will change you." Her expression softened and she reached across to brush his cheek. "You're mortal, Sam. Knowing too much is a burden and you're not ready for it yet."

He swallowed hard and watched the listing baseship and the dead Raiders aimlessly floating. He took her seriously; whatever she was, she was clearly connected to the same force giving him visions. The thought of stronger visions, and possibly losing his mind, filled him with fear. But there were Cylons dying on that baseship, killed by something which might still threaten his allies and his child unless he found out what it was. He'd already had a vision of this, almost a year ago, and he knew he was going to have to pay the price she demanded.

"I understand. But I have to do it." He scrubbed his hands across his face and through his hair, before lifting his head again to look at the baseship. He remembered the image of the dying Six and thought of all the others aboard. They were dying without resurrection. What happened to their souls, if their souls couldn't resurrect in new bodies? But above all, he realized, he cared; their lives and their deaths mattered to him. In a softer voice, he added, "They're my people, aren't they?"

"There's the one I love," she murmured. "Yes, they are. They always have been, and in more ways than you understand right now." She swung a leg across his and settled on his lap. Her weight felt real, and her touch was warm. "I miss you," she whispered, hovering above him. Her face and body were familiarly Kara's, and she touched him like Kara did, so even though he knew better, he could pretend she was really there.

"I miss you, too." He shuddered with sudden need for her, trying to kiss her and touch her, as his hands rubbed her bare arms and slid under her tanks. Her hips rolled against him until the layers of cloth between them were too much. She opened his flight suit and rose up enough for him to push her pants down. She shoved his t-shirt up, out of the way, and the touch of her hands on his bare stomach was like fire. He let out in a groan when her hand groped inside his undershorts and brought his firming erection out to stroke with knowing fingers. Then still holding him beneath her, she teased him with sliding movements of her hips and rubbed herself on him.

"Kara, gods," he murmured and grabbed for her, trying to coax her to come down on him.

"So impatient," she taunted, but even she couldn't keep up the teasing for long, as her breath grew short and her fingers trembled on his skin. Then finally she took her hand away and eased herself down on him, arching her back in pure delight.

Her movements were slow and steady, and he wanted to go faster, but he had no leverage in the chair, at the mercy of the rhythm she wanted.

"You want it, baby? You want it? Then you gotta stay with me. You feel so frakking good."

His eyes were slits and wanted to roll back in his head, as she kept him hanging on the edge, grinding into him. He could feel the sweat pooling in the back of his shirt, under the flight suit, dampening his face and neck, as he started to lose it.

She came first, her rhythm breaking into frustration and want, and she tightened on him so hard he couldn't breathe. He held her down, skin to skin, straining into her, as the pleasure shuddered through his whole body like a wave.

Then, energized, he pulled her down to kiss her hungrily. "You're so beautiful." But then he seized her shoulders keeping her above him, so he could look at her face. "Who are you? Really?"

She traced a finger down his nose, smiling mischievously. "Once you called me your angel."

"I did?" he asked in confusion, trying to remember ever calling Kara that, and she shook her head a little and put a finger across his lips.

"Hush. It's there inside you. And you'll get it back, sooner than you want. But remember, I'm always with you," she told him and then, with one last brush of her lips against his, she disappeared.

He blinked, shocked by the abrupt abandonment. Straightening up in the chair slowly, he looked around the empty Raptor. His flight suit was open, shirt and undershorts shifted out of the way, and he felt that sweaty lassitude of a good frak still humming through his body. But he realized he didn't smell Kara at all. It was a little embarrassing to realize anyone looking in the cockpit window of the Raptor would've had a fine view of him squirming around, as his imaginary Kara frakked him.

Yet, if he'd been projecting her and really been getting himself off alone, he should have to clean up more. So had she been there in some physical way, after all? What would someone else have seen if they'd watched?

Sighing, he realized there was no point in wondering about questions that no one was going to answer, and pulled his clothes back where they should be and zipped his flight suit. Then, not sure whether the visitation had made him more nervous or less, he piloted the Raptor toward the baseship docking bay to do what he'd come here to do.

On to Chapter Seven: In the Place Between
Merry F: sam andersivanolix on November 27th, 2009 12:41 am (UTC)
Like Sam, I'm amused by his being ignored as part of the pregnancy. *smirks*

Sam's so very caring about everyone, poor man, and he can't do much. I have a feeling head!Kara can do something, however, other than frakking him (not that she should stop doing that, though...)
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on December 1st, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
That comes from personal experience, by the way. Men are often ignored by all the pregnant lady's friends.

And yes Head!Kara does... quite a lot more than frak him, even when she's not visible. She really is helping more than she should, but she's bound by some rules. She doesn't LIKE the rules though, and works around them when she can, in inimitable Kara fashion. :)