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11 November 2009 @ 11:42 pm
The Thread of Ariadne, Ch. 13  
Chapter Thirteen

It felt strange to be on the surface of a planet again. It didn't help that this one was barely habitable -- it was too hot and stank of the algae that was a thick sludge on the surface of the water.

But the Fleet needed food after the contamination of the equipment, and this was the only source they'd found. It had come at a high price, too, traveling through all that radiation.

Kara fought off disappointment that the Fleet had to stop, though, knowing the baseship was now going off ahead of them. Adama was concerned with the tactical implications, Roslin with the fear that the Cylons could find Earth first, but Kara hated knowing each day they spent here processing algae was a day farther away from rescuing Sam.

She spent as much time in flight as she could. But it wasn't enough. At least they were finally ready to leave this rock.

"Hey, Captain," Tyrol said approaching to her left.

"Chief." She turned, forcing a smile. She was about to ask if her Raptor was packed when he turned his head sharply as if he'd heard something.

"Chief?" she asked, and he jumped at the sound of her voice, still distracted.

"You hear that?" he whispered.

"Hear what?" she asked, listening closely, but she heard nothing but the wind.

He shook his head. "Never mind. Thought I heard something. Like a bell."

She shrugged. "Maybe the wind's blowing through a rock up there someplace." She gestured toward the high hills that surrounded the encampment.

"Yeah, I guess," he agreed, but glanced up at the highest hill with a frown as if there was something bugging him.

Kara didn't care about weird sounds on this pit. "Stuff all packed in my Raptor to go up? I don't want to be on this hellhole any longer than necessary."

"You that eager to start eating it?" he asked.

"Rather eat it than smell it."

He chuckled and wrinkled his nose. "I don't know about that. But yeah, you're all ready to go, sir. Sooner we get it all taken down, the sooner we can get out of here."

"Thanks, Chief." She slapped his shoulder and started back toward the Raptor, waving at Dee and Lee who were under the awning, overseeing the rest of the operation.

The return trip to Galactica was quick, though not as quick as it could've been, since she threw in some unnecessary maneuvers, unable to resist playing in atmosphere, daring gravity, thumbing her nose at the wind...

Feeling alive.

* * *

Sam listened.

The music filled him, taking over his mind, so that it became difficult to think of anything else and speaking required effort. But he could still hear everything around him, even if the Cylons seemed to believe he'd gone deaf on his perch at the front of the command center.

Behind him, he could hear Natalie talking to Thea, her voice low and urgent. "Sister, we can't keep doing this. When we knew it was a vision from God, it was one thing, but this..." she trailed off.

Sam could've finished it for her, 'This is madness.' He knew it looked that way - he had enough awareness to know sitting silently on the stool and occasionally lifting his hand so someone could adjust their course didn't look any kind of sane. He hadn't slept in the two days since he'd left the docking bay, he ate whatever they handed to him, and he left to wash and visit the head only when Thea pulled him.

"This is a vision from God," Thea insisted. "This is our path."

"But path to where?" Natalie asked. "He warned us we were going to die. Permanently."

"Some of us did, with the sickness," Thea reminded her.

Which was true, but Sam could've added that those were only the start.

"He led us into that. And our sisters want to know where he's taking us now," Natalie said. "Do we even know?"

"To Earth," Thea said, now sounding impatient. "He's our oracle, just as he's always been."

"Are you sure we're going to Earth?" Natalie asked. "We're following a sound that doesn't even exist. What if it's nothing more than the whim of someone our own kind drove mad? How long will we follow it?"

"We follow until our faith is proven misplaced," Thea retorted angrily. "But I still keep mine. Do you?"

Natalie didn't answer right away, and when she did, her tone was shaded dark in warning. "For now." She walked away, and Thea came close to Sam, resting her hand on his back.

She murmured to him, so no one else could hear. "If we're not going to Earth, I don't know what will happen..." she said, sounding worried.

He didn't know where they were going either, just that the music was pulling him and he had to go there. He couldn't speak to answer, but he leaned to the side to rest his head against her.

* * *

Kara went to report to the admiral after the Raptor was unloaded, finding him with Roslin in his quarters. He waved her in with only half his attention, listening to the wireless.

Roslin's voice was smooth, but Kara could see her face and the gleam of excitement in her eyes as she asked, "Do you really think you've found the Temple of Five?"

Tyrol's voice came back, "It sure looks like the pictures in my father's books. He was a priest and the temple was an important part of our faith. His faith."

Kara exchanged a shocked glance with Roslin at the news. The Temple of Five? Tyrol had stumbled on the frakking Temple of Five, in the time it had taken Kara to get to Galactica?

Roslin asked eagerly, "Do you think it's related to the Eye of Jupiter?"

"You got me, Madam President," Tyrol answered, "All I know is stuff I kinda remember from sneaking into my dad's study when he wasn't looking."

"The Eye of Jupiter? What are we talking about?" Adama asked.

"A marker left behind by the Thirteenth Tribe," Kara answered. "Like the beacon at the Lion's Head nebula. It's supposed to point the way to Earth."

The words had barely left her mouth when the alarm blared.

"Chief, we're on alert." The Admiral switched the comm to internal communications. "This is Adama."

Gaeta's voice came through. "Admiral. Lieutenant Gaeta, CIC. We have dradis contact. One Cylon baseship jumped in system."

"On our way," Adama returned and stood up.

Kara followed him and Roslin to CIC, unwilling to go back down to pilot quarters if she could listen in CIC. Because one baseship this close to them? Who else could it be?

It was dangerous, it might be a trap, and Lords knew they still had people down on the ground, so this might get really ugly, but she couldn't help smiling to herself on the way to CIC and touching the extra dog tag at her chest.

"Sitrep!" Adama demanded as soon as he came through the door.

"One baseship inbound at high speed," Tigh reported. "Bastard practically jumped right on top of us."

Hoshi added, "Fleet is spooling up their FTL, ready to go at your command."

Adama looked at him. "Do it."

Hoshi acknowledged and turned to the console, hand on his headset to announce the order. Kara watched on dradis as the fleet started to jump out.

"We have to hold this position until the ground crew can be recalled," Adama said tensely, looking up at the dradis as well.

Roslin said, "Admiral, if the Eye of Jupiter is somewhere in that temple, and it really is a marker of the way to Earth… We can't let the Cylons get their hands on it."

He nodded and ordered, "Stand by to launch Vipers. We can take one baseship when they're in range."

Tigh frowned. "Something's odd. They've stopped, holding at outer range. They're not launching Raiders, but they powered their weapons batteries..."

"It's them," Kara said softly, but her voice seemed to echo in the room.

* * *

When they came out of the jump, the music changed to a single tone straight into the middle of his brain as loud and clear as a bell.

It was here.

Sam stood up and turned to leave.

But no one noticed his movement, because there was suddenly shouting and alarm. Natalie announced, "The Colonial Fleet's here!"

"Fleet is jumping away," a Four reported. "Galactica hasn't spooled their drive yet."

"Galactica's seen us. They're arming weapons!" an Eight called.

"Arm ours right back!" Three ordered. "He brought us here to them! It's a trap!" Three pointed an accusing finger at him.

He looked at her finger for a moment and made his mouth move to talk. "It's here."

"This isn't Earth," Natalie said, shaking her head and looking betrayed. "There's nothing but algae here."

He shook his head once. "I need to go. Find it." His eyes shut, and it was as if there was a physical cord between him and ... whatever it was. "I have to go."

He felt their eyes on them, weighing his words versus the weight of the threat outside.

"Call a truce with Adama," Sharon suggested. "We're not here to attack them."

"We don't even know what we're doing here," Natalie objected. "We should jump out."

Sam spoke, "No. It's here," he insisted, wondering why they couldn't hear it. It was so frakking loud.

"Let him go," Thea pleaded urgently. "I'll go with him, we'll take a Heavy Raider. But we need time to find out why we're here."

"Call for a truce," Sharon suggested again, more loudly, "before he starts lobbing nukes at us. We can't take on Galactica alone."

"And tell him what?" the Three demanded. "That our human brought us here to be slaughtered?"

"That's a lie!" Thea objected. "He brought us here because this is where we're supposed to be."

"He's going to get us all killed," Natalie said.

"They have people on the surface," Sharon said. "Adama will give us a truce to recover them."

Sam decided all the arguing was beside the point. He knew where he had to go. He started for the doorway.

Thea hurried after him, calling over her shoulder to the other Cylons, "Stall for time! Give Sam time to do what he needs to do."

In the corridor on their way to the docking bay, Leoben intercepted them. "Here?" he asked Sam. "You're sure?"

Sam took a moment to find his voice. "Here."

"Then we go." Leoben fell into step and the three of them went to the nearest docking bay, where a Heavy Raider was waiting.

"I'll pilot," Thea offered, and Sam followed her forward. The cargo area was packed with silent, still Centurions. Leoben moved up behind Sam, hand on his shoulder to steady him as the ship rose and darted for the outside.

"If they get in a shooting war, we're in trouble," Thea murmured.

"They won't," Sam said. "This is too important."

He sat in the copilot's chair. Without his hand in the datastream, he couldn't see anything. But that didn't matter. "Give me control."

Thea paused, uncertain and worried. "Are you sure?" She glanced at him and then at Leoben.

"It's okay," Leoben murmured. "Let him do what he needs to do."

With obvious reluctance, she opened Sam's manual controls, and he gripped both control sticks as if he'd done it before. He couldn't see with his eyes and he didn't know where he was going, but he knew how to get there.

* * *

Hoshi turned again in his chair. "Admiral. It's the Cylon baseship, requesting to speak with you."

"They've just launched a Heavy Raider and a squad of Raiders. Course looks like it's going down to the planet," Tigh reported.

The admiral took that in with a nod and then glanced toward the comm station. "Mister Hoshi, go."

They all heard an anxious and familiar voice. "Admiral, this is Sharon Valerii. Please, I know I've given you no reason to trust me, after what I did. I wasn't strong enough to resist. You don't know how sorry I am. But please listen. We are not here to hurt anyone. We are not here to attack you. We're here because God brought us here. We ask for a truce."

There was a pause and then Adama responded on his gruff voice, "You've launched a Heavy Raider and a Raider squadron toward the surface. Pull it back or there's no truce."

"But admiral, that Heavy Raider must land. They're not after any of your people. They're looking for why we were brought here."

"They're looking for the Eye of Jupiter," Roslin murmured. "We can't let them have it."

"Pull it back," Adama ordered into the wireless, and then more loudly to CIC at large. "Main batteries target that Heavy Raider."

"No! Please!" another female voice came through the wireless urgently. One of the Sixes, Kara thought. "Don't shoot!"

A similar voice, but cooler and more controlled, added, "We sent you your man. We sent you food. Isn't that enough to prove our intent? That ship means you no harm."

Roslin leaned forward toward the wireless receiver. "Let's dispense with the posturing and begging. Your ship is going toward the temple, and you want the Eye of Jupiter, same as we do. You may not have it, no matter how many treats you throw our way."

"The Temple of Five?" Sharon asked, sounding amazed. "You found the Temple of Five?"

Then a Three came over the wireless, "Let me make this very clear, Admiral. You destroy that Heavy Raider and we will destroy you."

"D'Anna, you're not helping," Sharon hissed, probably not meaning to be heard, and then addressed Galactica again. "Admiral, Sam Anders is on the Heavy Raider. I don't know if he's looking for the Eye of Jupiter or not, but I do know he needs to find whatever he's trying to find.."

Kara's gaze was pulled irresistibly to the image on the dradis of the ship and its escorting Raiders going down to that planet. He was there. It was as if she could tell it was him now, by the way it was flying.

"Anders is on that Heavy Raider?" Adama asked for confirmation.

Sharon answered, "Yes, he brought us here, but he's the only one who can find whatever it is that he's seeing. Please. I beg you, for all our sakes."

Adama hesitated for a moment, then ordered, "Targeting off. Let it land."

"Admiral!" Roslin exclaimed in protest.

"I'm not killing one of my men," he said and then toggled off the wireless.

"You can't do this," Roslin protested. "We don't even know if she's telling the truth!"

"Mister Hoshi, get me Chief Tyrol and Apollo on the ground," Adama ordered.

Tyrol answered immediately. "Galactica, Tyrol."

"Have you found it, Chief?" Adama demanded.

"Sir, I don't know what I'm looking for."

"We have company who are looking for it, too. So you are to wire that place to blow."

"But, sir, I just need time to look for it!" Tyrol objected.

"Chief, wire it. The Cylons can't have it. And they can't have Lieutenant Anders either - he may be inbound to you."

Tyrol sounded briefly stunned by that news. "Sir? Yes, sir."

Then Lee's voice, "Admiral, Apollo."

"Apollo, you're about to get company. You need to use all the personnel you have to guard Chief and his people until that temple is ready to blow. And if you get the chance, grab Anders and bring him home. But above all, keep the Cylons from the temple."

"Aye, sir."

Adama closed the transmission and met Roslin's look. "We won't let them have it, and I intend to take my lieutenant back as well." Then his gaze went to Kara. "What are you waiting for, captain? Take out the Raiders, but make sure the others understand the Heavy Raider is not a target, until someone eyeballs what it's carrying. Go."

"Yes, sir!" She ran out of CIC, racing to gear up and hearing the call for the alert pilots to go.

In the gear room, she met Duck, who gave her a grin. "So, is it true?"

"All of it, including the news that Sam's on that Heavy Raider. So let's go make sure Apollo and Tyrol can get to him."

"Got your six," he promised.

"Let's go."

On to Chapter Fourteen: Reborn in Blood
Merry F: sam andersivanolix on November 27th, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
No, they can't grab Sam! That's not the way this is supposed to go!