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06 October 2010 @ 01:22 am
Under a Shadowed Sky, Chapter Seven  
Under a Shadowed Sky

(Previous chapter)
Chapter Seven

The following day, Kara piloted the Raptor with Sam beside her. He had to sit in the seat awkwardly with his wings as flat as possible to fit. Tory and Galen sat in the back with D'Anna and the Six who had taken Natalie's place as leader, Sonja.

Kara found it a bit surreal to be the only human -- if she was human -- on the ship, especially when three of them had wings.

But a ship full of Cylons and one human freak was a target, too, and she was glad for Hotdog's presence flying escort. She waved him off as they approached the basestar. "Separation in five. We're good from here, Hotdog."

She could see him lift his hand in a salute to his helmet before he peeled away. "Wilco, Starbuck. Good hunting."

Her stomach felt a little queasy as they approached the baseship. It had healed itself from most of the battle damage, except for one pylon, and as they got closer she could see a few Raiders hanging like ominous fruit from the arms. But she felt ridiculous about her nervousness when she glanced aside at Sam -- she had no issues with her Cylon husband. In fact, after the mutiny she trusted these Cylons more than she trusted most humans.

In glancing back, she noticed D'Anna reaching out toward Sam's feathers and snapped, "Don't. No touching." He hadn't liked people pawing him before, and she couldn't imagine he'd like it now.

D'Anna pulled her hand back. "I... Forgive me," she said, lowering her eyes.

Even though no one had touched him, Kara noticed Sam's left hand was clenched tightly on top of his thigh. "You okay? Still claustrophobic?"

"Not as badly," he admitted, "But some."

"I feel it, too," Tory added. "Like the only reason I want to open my wings is because I know I can't. It's really annoying."

Sam's gaze lifted to the stars beyond the baseship. "I want to fly again, so much."

"We will," Kara promised.

He cast a smile at her and then pointed. "That entrance is closest to the Hybrid."

"How do you know that?" she asked curiously, adjusting the course. "These are all newer than the basestars during the first war. And you weren't on this one that long."

"We helped design them," he answered with a wry smile. "None were built yet by the time we... " he paused.

"Were murdered," Tory cut in, sharply. "Let's not soften what he did to us. He murdered us and mind-wiped us and sent us to the Colonies to suffer. And I'm telling all of you, I have no interest in saving him; I don't care what Ellen wants."

The chief's voice was a little bitter, "Do you ever care about what anyone else wants?"

"Galen!" she protested, sounding stricken. Kara turned to see her hunched over, as if his words had hurt her.

Sam also turned and asked, "What's going on? What was that about?"

"Nothing," Galen answered. "It's personal."

Kara would've pursued it, but Sam frowned as he faced forward again. As the Raptor headed into the docking bay maw, she murmured, "You sure this is gonna work?"

"It'll work. It has to."

That was more hopeful than certain, but she didn't press him for more. He had his old memories back, but they were at least twenty years out of date, and the Cylons had changed in that time. It was still so strange to realize Sam was so much older and done so much more than she had ever known.

In the docking bay, two more Sixes, an Eight, and a Two were waiting for them as Kara set the Raptor down.

"Welcome home," D'Anna said, as she punched the hatch controls. Tory smiled, apparently glad to be aboard, but Sam's jaw tightened.

"This isn't my home," he answered shortly, and went past D'Anna.

"Our home is ash," Galen added and chuckled a little in dark humor. "Both of them."

Outside the Raptor, Leoben had a satisfied expression as he watched Kara join Sam on the deck. "You found your destiny," he told them, "the favored of God."

"Cursed, not favored," Kara corrected brusquely. "We need to talk to the Hybrid."

"Now," Sam ordered, as if he expected argument like the one when Leoben had brought them from the Demetrius. But there was none, this time, with all the Cylons impressed by the recent revelations.

Kara was a little amused by their quick obedience and yet wistful that it had taken so long with such terrible suffering, to get everyone on the same path.

On the way, it seemed that nearly all the Cylons on board appeared in the corridors to stare at Galen, Tory, and especially Sam and his brand new wings. When they turned the corner to enter the corridor right outside the Hybrid's chamber, they found it lined with Centurions. Kara's hand went to her pistol reflexively, but Sam's hand came over hers. "It's okay," he murmured.

The red sensors followed the three remaining members of the Five, as the group approached the two lines of Centurions. The Centurions made no sound and moved nothing but their sensors. It was a sort of honor-guard, Kara realized.

"You shouldn't have done this," Tory murmured to Sonja.

But the other Cylons were looking with astonishment at the gathering. "We had nothing to do with this," the Eight said.

"They did it on their own," another Six murmured.

Sam approached the nearest one. Kara had no idea how he did it, since the sight of all the Centurions was making her heart pound and her fingers itch, and it had to be worse for someone who had fought them at close quarters as much as he had. But he kept it from his expression, if in fact he felt anxious at all, and addressed it, "John inhibited us as much as he inhibited you. We seek the end to John and his war. Will you join us?"

The Centurion lifted its arm and Kara very nearly drew down on it, knowing exactly how quickly that arm could strike and kill Sam. But all it did was point one long skeletal finger toward the Hybrid.

Sam nodded his head to the Centurion and then continued on his way to the Hybrid's chamber. She had to take a deep breath to settle her stomach before she could follow, reminding herself that the Centurions were different, too.

In the archway, she could hear the Hybrid's constant drone and recalling what had happened the last time they'd been in this chamber, made Kara want to hang back, Centurions or not. But when Sam went right up to the pool, she followed.

But there he hesitated. In a soft voice, looking down at the Hybrid, he said, "We didn't want to create them, but the Centurions insisted we improve on a version they'd already made. She was meant to handle the vast amounts of data and synthesize and communicate it. Which she does, but ... she turned out far more powerful than we anticipated. Joining with her datastream, even briefly, is never easy."

"Dangerous?" she asked.

"Not when I know you're waiting for me," he answered, and she was about to smack his shoulder for avoiding the question, when he grabbed her hand and pulled her close for a kiss.

The Hybrid quieted and watched him as he knelt beside the pool. "The parents of the children shine in the light of the sun," she said and then she smiled. "Awaiting new command." She held her hand up in invitation, as if she knew what he wanted to do.

He inhaled a deep breath and took her hand. "Let's do this."

Their joined hands slipped into the pool.

Sam's body went rigid and he let out a gasp. His eyes went unfocused and staring.

Leoben crouched beside Kara and murmured, watching Sam and the Hybrid commune, "This is forbidden to us. We're too easily consumed. I have boxed my own brothers, because they were driven mad doing this."

She shot a glare at him. "Not helping."

He ignored her, still watching Sam's face avidly. "But I think it might be worth it to see the face of God."

Sam didn't look enraptured, so much as he didn't look there at all. Kara, remembering long hours of fever delirium and blank eyes, swallowed hard and clenched her fists on her thighs, praying that Sam knew what he was doing.

Surprisingly, it was Tory who laid a hand over hers and squeezed. "Sam has done this before, Kara. He and Ellen did most of the design work for her mind, and they have the most experience in joining her datastream."

"But you've done it?"

"A few times. It's a bit too intimate for my taste."

Kara realized the soft whispers she was hearing were coming from his wings rustling together. His jaw clenched and he breathed unsteadily through his teeth. "Is he okay?" Kara demanded.

"It's a struggle to leave," Tory explained. "You have to reintegrate your own self apart from the Hybrid." She glanced at Leoben. "They have -- or had, I suppose -- little concept of themselves as individuals; that's why they got lost. Sam'll be fine."

Kara found that marginally reassuring and she tried to be patient as she watched and waited, tapping a finger anxiously. "Come on, Sam," she muttered.

With an abrupt movement, his other hand snapped upward, nearly hitting Kara in the face. She jerked backward, but then caught that hand in hers. His fingers curled around hers, gripping tightly, and she realized he needed help. He was fighting to get out and so she let him nearly crush her hand, hoping the touch would help lead him back.

Then, as if thrown, he fell backward, free. At first, he lay there, wings all spread out beneath him. He blinked up at the ceiling, looking dazed, and he panted for breath. He looked more post-coital than pained, and the thought made Kara grin and purr at him, "I guess it was good for you, honey?"

He managed a short laugh. "I'd forgotten how amazing that is." When he recovered enough, Kara helped him sit up. He rubbed his hands over his face and through his hair, blowing out a gusty breath. "Frak."

Then he shook his head briskly and straightened, to address everyone. "It's done. The Hybrid has located and connected to the Colony. We're free to contact them from the command center."

Galen and Tory started herding the other Cylons out, but Kara lingered behind when she noticed Sam wasn't moving. He had a distant look in his eyes that suggested his thoughts were still in the Hybrid's stream, not back with her. "Hey," she poked him in the shoulder. "You gonna mop the floor with the wings all day?"

He chuckled, perfunctorily, and roused to grab her hand and pull her onto his lap, wrapping his arms around her, as if he needed the grounding. "I could feel you," he murmured, nuzzling at her hair and behind her ear. "I wanted to go out there, but you pulled me back."

"Damn right. We're not done yet," she declared and slipped her hands into his feathers. He flinched, shoulders and back twitching convulsively. "Sorry," she whispered. "Didn't mean to pull." She made her touch soft and gentle until he relaxed, his head resting against hers.

They stayed there for a moment, until Kara realized the Hybrid wasn't saying anything. The room was silent. When Kara pulled back to frown at her curiously, the Hybrid was watching them, smiling. And such was the joy in her smile that Kara couldn't help smiling back.

When the Hybrid saw she had Kara and Sam's attention, she declared simply, "Not an end, a beginning."

Sam nodded and took Kara's hand, rising to his feet. "Then we'd better get started."

* * *

In the command center, Kara watched the Cylons, wondering what she could do. She couldn't put her hand in the datastream, unlike Sam who had walked in as if he owned the place and gone directly to the nearest datafont. So she could only watch and, for the first time, wish that she could do that.

A moment later a square of the wall right next to Kara turned black, startling her with the abrupt change. She glanced at Sam in question, and he gave a little nod, explaining, "You'll be able to see what we see, though you won't be connected. The other end won't be able to see or hear you."

"Thanks." At least she could listen to what was going on.

Tory announced from the long datafont where most of the others were standing. "We're ready. Initiating contact. Sam, you'll need to link the Hybrids."

His hand was still in there, and his eyes focused on thin air. "Trying," he murmured. "Linked. Knocking on the door. Some resistance." He tightened his jaw and his eyes darted, as if he was looking at a personal heads-up display. He muttered, more to himself. "Come on, John. Pick up the frakking phone."

The black space next to Kara flickered and seemed to shiver, then the black shifted to a weirdly compressed image of a similar room, but one containing a Cavil, several model Fives, and two Fours.

Cavil took over the frame, seeming to look right at Kara. She took a step backward, thinking he could see her, but his words made it clear he was looking at Sam. "So you remembered," he said with a scowl. "I was hoping you'd have to die first."

Kara curled her hands, wanting to punch him already. But Sam wasn't provoked, answering quietly, "I did."

Cavil scoffed. "Really? You didn't download and resurrect here."

"There are other ways, John."

"Oh, stop calling me that. Ellen tries it all the time, 'humanizing' me. It doesn't work."

"So Ellen's alive. Is she well?" Sam asked.

"Of course," Cavil answered, sounding offended. "As if I'd hurt her."

"Before or after you killed us all and wiped our memories?" Tory interrupted angrily. "You betrayed us. You betrayed your brothers and sisters, and you started a war that only you wanted. You murdered millions and billions of people. And for what? So your own race can be near extinction, too?"

"That's their fault! I wanted a Cylon paradise -- a machine world better than the humans could ever imagine. And then the Sixes and the Eights and Twos ruined it," he glared at them.

"No," D'Anna said, and then smiled when he started with surprise to notice her there. "Brother. You ruined it with your lies. My sisters are all dead because of you. Now we know the truth -- you broke consensus long ago by hiding our parents from us. God has spoken and said that you are wrong. Look for yourselves, my brothers, and see the miracle."

Tyrol and Tory picked up her cue, spreading their wings out, sleek and black, and with a soft whooshing sound, Sam opened his high to shine in the stark light.

Cavil stared, for a moment utterly speechless. "What the frak is that?"

"A message of God," D'Anna answered. "The moment they stepped onto the holy ground of Earth, they transformed to show us that we're right, and you ... you are damned."

Kara knew that Sam wanted to break the Fours and Fives from Cavil's sway but this didn't seem to be working. She could see the Doral behind Cavil was sneering, not impressed.

"You made us into killers," Sonja added, furiously.

Cavil chuckled. "Don't fool yourself, Six. You are a killer. We're all descended from killing machines, even the precious Final Five. As they proved while butchering so many of us, so efficiently. In fact, speaking of efficient butchers, where is dear father Saul? Too busy drinking himself into a coma to visit? I can't imagine he's liking wings - though at least Ellen will get a good laugh out of it when I tell her about it."

Kara didn't know who gave it away - it couldn't be her - but one of the Cylons realized his words meant the colonel was dead. Cavil saw and his face looked briefly disturbed, but he shrugged it off. "Saul is dead, then? Well, that's a pity. It would've been easier to recreate resurrection."

Sam looked sick at the off-hand dismissal, and his wings seemed to droop, even after he'd closed them. "His knowledge of memory imaging is gone. He took resurrection with him. Even if we wanted to, we can't do it without him."

"You could figure it out, I'm sure. In fact, let me give you motivation: you and Tory and Galen return home to the Colony and in return, I won't destroy what's left of humanity. That seems fair, doesn't it?"

Her stomach fell, and the words escaped Kara's lips, "Son of a bitch." Sam glanced at her, and Kara didn't like the look in his eyes at all. He looked thoughtful but not as angry as he should at the ultimatum.

Sonja was outraged. "How many times do you think you can betray everyone and anyone actually believes you?"

Cavil's response was quick. "You took resurrection away. You betrayed all Cylons, everywhere, and we're now all going to die unless we fix it."

Sam answered, his voice low but reaching everyone, "True death isn't the end. There will be resurrection on the other side. I'm proof of that, and so is Kara. We died and we came back to show you -- humans and Cylon alike -- there's nothing to fear."

Kara's eyes met his, feeling the truth of it, and she nodded slowly. For a moment, it was if only they existed in that space. She could hear distant music, familiar and welcoming, like something from her childhood calling her home.

John laughed, tearing the moment to shreds. "You always were ridiculously religious for someone who professed to love science so much," he mocked.

Sam answered calmly, "It's the same thing, John. God, the creator, Zeus -- it means the power and the perfection of the universe."

"I'd forgotten the Twos get their crazy from you," Cavil said with a disdainful glance at the only Leoben in view.

Leoben smiled. "Thank you, brother."

"You would think it's a compliment. Wait until you get to know your precious Final Five -- sorry, I should correct myself: your final three, since I have Ellen and Saul's dead." The amiable mask dropped from his face and he stared hatefully at Sam. "You three come to the Colony, or I kill the rebels and the humans you love so much. It should be an easy choice."

The screen went black.

"So much for surrendering," Tyrol muttered.

"He wouldn't dare!" Sonja exclaimed. "Not against us and the Galactica."

"There's very little he won't dare," Leoben observed dryly.

Tory shook her head. "We don't have any choice."

"You can't," D'Anna protested, as if the very idea was absurd. "You can't believe him."

"He wants us all dead," Sonja agreed. "He'll imprison you, and kill us anyway."

Kara realized that Cavil's threat only meant anything, if something else was true. "Does he know where we are? You located him - does that mean he knows where we are, too?"

"Not directly," Galen answered. "The Hybrid can't tell him exactly where we are. But ... it's not hard to figure out a general area."

"He's far enough Saul didn't resurrect," Tory added, looking down at her hands sadly. "But John can't be too far. He knows where Earth is. He can triangulate our position."

"Then we need to move the Fleet," Kara declared. She turned toward Sam, expecting his agreement, but realized he probably hadn't heard a word.

His hand was still in the datafont and his eyes were focused on nothing. "Sam?" she asked, moving to his side and wondering if he was caught again.

He said slowly, as if words were hard to verbalize, "Ellen."

The entire room went silent with expectation. He was talking with Ellen?

"Accessing ... seventh channel," he went on. "Sharon... Boomer helping."

"Thank God," the Eight murmured.

"She's still a traitor, Vera," Sonja said to her.

"Shut up," Kara snapped at both of them, watching Sam's face. His eyes flickered but otherwise he was still. It was strange to think he was talking with Ellen; Ellen had been dead for more than a year, and yet Sam was talking to her in his brain.

He nodded once in silent acknowledgment, took a deep breath, and pulled his shoulders and wings back in determined posture. Kara recognized the look on his face from Caprica, when he'd refused to leave his people and come with her to bring the Arrow to the Fleet. She wasn't going to like what he was going to say.

He lifted his hand from the datastream and announced to the waiting Cylons: "Boomer's helping Ellen access the datastream without John's knowledge. Ellen and I have a plan. You will take all the Heavy Raiders, packed with as many of our people as possible, and seek sanctuary with the Fleet. Kara will warn the Fleet and jump it to safety. In one hour, Ellen is going to order the Hybrids to take down the Colony's defenses. And this basestar is going to destroy it."

Kara noticed one particular omission, and glared. "And you?"

He avoided looking at her by facing Galen and Tory and explaining, "At least one of us has to be in the stream to help command the Hybrids, especially if Ellen gets caught. The more the better to enforce our will." They nodded, accepting what he said. Kara didn't accept it at all, and shook her head in absolute refusal. She was glad to see she wasn't the only one shaking her head.

"No," D'Anna folded her arms. "I'm going with you."

Tory protested, "No, D'Anna, you're the last Three--"

"And that's why I'm going. I'm an individual, and I can make my own choices. The Ones murdered my sisters. They will pay for that if it's the last thing I do."

Leoben said calmly, as if he'd known all along what was going to happen. "This is what must be. Hera is the future of our race. We've known that from the moment she was conceived."

"And Caprica and Saul's child will survive. That's all that's important," Sonja nodded. "And we will save humanity after we nearly destroyed it. We must atone for our sins." The other two Sixes nodded in perfect agreement.

Kara listened to them all agree to go on this frakking suicide mission and shook her head furiously. "No. This is crazy. If the defenses are down, then we both -- baseship and Galactica - should attack together. Like we attacked the Hub, we need to work together."

Sam faced her with a smile. "So fierce," he murmured. "And I would agree with you, except I know this is why I'm back. Your destiny is to take the humans to a new Earth -- mine is to help us make amends. I won't allow more humans to die because of Cylons. It stops now."

"But -- But, Sam, you have nothing -- you didn't -- it's not your fault." She looked into his eyes and saw the same deep stubbornness she knew all too well. He knew and understood his path, and he would not budge from it.

He lifted a hand to lay against her cheek. "Use the song, take them home."

She bit her lip and shook her head. "There has to be another way."

"This isn't the end. You and I know that better than anyone. I'll see you on the other side," he promised.

She hit his chest with a fist. "Is that supposed to make me feel better?" she demanded, upset and furious. "You're not ... supposed to die on me. Not again." Her voice faded to a whisper.

He framed her face with both his hands and kissed her lips. "I love you," he whispered. "Take them home."

Then he pulled away so swiftly she didn't have time to react, and he looked at Leoben. "Make sure she gets on the Raptor and goes. And if you go with her -- or if anyone chooses to go -- let them. I won't keep anyone here against their will, not this kind of choice."

But when Tory and Galen didn't move either, Kara knew none of the Cylons would leave. At the opening she turned back and her eyes met Sam's. He was watching her leave, with a sad but resolute expression. Her breath caught in her chest, at the sudden pain of knowing that this was goodbye. She mouthed the words to him: I love you.

He smiled, blue eyes brightening, and she took that last image with her as she forced herself to walk away.

Then she was in the corridor, out of sight, following Leoben.

"You aren't going to do this, are you?" she demanded. "You can't."

He glanced at her, but kept walking. "The Hybrid told you, Kara. You are the harbinger of death."

Her feet stopped as she remembered. Harbinger of death. Gods, it was true. All the Cylons, except for a handful, were about to die. All of them.

"What else did you think it meant?" Leoben asked, sounding almost curious but puzzled, too, if there had been no other answer.

"But, no, this can't be right," she insisted, and it sounded futile and desperate to her own ears. "Not like this."

"Is it our death, or Sam's that bothers you?" he asked.

"He just came back and he's throwing it away! What was the frakking point?"

"Because someone had to learn the truth and bring it back to the rest of us," he answered, far too reasonably.

She shot him a glare. "You're exactly like him. Damn it."

"This is destiny, Kara." She was irritated to realize his fear of her had worn away and he was back to pithy and inscrutable.

"Frak destiny. What if I refuse to go?" she challenged and put her hands on her hips. "I can tell the admiral to jump the fleet. He'll believe me. And I can stay here."

"Jump where? Only you know where to take the fleet."

"But I don't! It's just a frakking song!"

"When it's time, you'll know." His gaze met hers, and for a moment she was reminded of that vision she'd had of him or a being who looked like him, right before the bright flash. "This will be for nothing if you don't save the Humans."

She resisted a heartbeat longer, denying what he was saying as long as she could, but knowing he was right. Damn him. No, damn all of them: Leoben, Sam, the Cylons, the gods, all of them. She had no choice - she had a duty and that was something she could never quite escape.

That didn't make it hurt less as she walked further from the command core back to the Raptor. Leoben accompanied her, silently, until they reached the docking bay. "You want to escape this suicide run and come with me?" she invited.

He tilted his head and regarded her. "As much as I wished the Cylon I saw with you was me, I know now it never was. God be with you, Kara. Forgive me. I never meant to hurt you." He bowed his head to her and left her there.

"Well, gods frak it all to hell," she muttered furiously, inhaled a sharp breath, and slammed the button to close the Raptor hatch with her fist.

The Raptor had been full coming to the baseship, but leaving, she felt terribly alone. Clearing the docking bay, with the baseship receding in the distance, she looked toward the core where Sam was. For a moment, the loss welled up, sharp and cutting, worse than when she'd thought he was going to die from the infection. This wasn't a capricious act of the gods; Sam was choosing to die, deliberately leaving her.

She was going to have to find a way to stop him. But she'd have to be quick. She flicked the wireless transmit button. "Galactica, Starbuck. Possible hostiles on their way."

Dee's voice acknowledged, calm, and Kara took strength from it as she headed home.

* * *

The Galactica had gone to alert status by the time Kara's ship was down. "One side, people! Open a hole," she ordered, hurrying to CIC.

"Starbuck," the Admiral greeted her.

It was still a little horrifying to look around -- no Tigh, no Gaeta. Helo was at the board with the admiral, now officially XO again, as he'd been after New Caprica. Dee had Gaeta's station now.

"The colonel?" Adama asked. His voice was level, but she knew how important the answer was to him, and it made her hesitate slightly before she shook her head.

"Sorry, sir. Ellen resurrected and has been a prisoner of the Cavils and Dorals since New Caprica. But the colonel didn't make it; the range was too far."

Adama nodded, not surprised, but one hand tightened to a fist that he pounded lightly on the surface. Then he asked her, "You said, possible hostiles?"

"There's the possibility Cavil might triangulate our position. But, sir, that might be what we need. Sam's intending to destroy the Colony by -- " she realized she didn't know for sure what he was planning to do. "That baseship has hardly any armaments, so it has to be something suicidal and reckless. Ramming it probably." She shook her head. "He thinks the war is his fault, and his destiny," she spat the word, "is to lead the Cylons into sacrificing themselves to save us. But it's wrong. Ellen's found a way with Boomer's help, to lower the Colony's defenses from the inside in about forty minutes from now. So instead of the baseship killing itself and everyone on board, I say we send the Fleet away and Galactica and the baseship fight together."

Adama frowned and shook his head. "We can't."

"But, admiral --" she objected.

He lifted a hand to interrupt, and explained, "We can't, Starbuck. Chief discovered during the mutiny that the central spine is cracked at midship. There's structural damage everywhere. This ship has only a few jumps left in her and we need to find a planet before the ship falls apart. We'll only fight if we absolutely have no choice to protect the Fleet."

Her heart sank. Chief had known, and probably Sam had, too, that Galactica was much weaker than she seemed. "But--" she tried again, and swallowed. "But they shouldn't fight alone."

Adama thought about it a moment, seeming regretful, and then said, "Maybe it'll work better than you think. Wouldn't be the first time I thought Anders and his band of rebels had no chance, and he pulled it out anyway."

He had a point. On Caprica, New Caprica, even on the algae planet - Sam had escaped what had seemed like certain death. But the difference was that he'd fought to stay alive long enough to get rescued. This time, he was giving up; something she didn't think she'd ever say about Sam.

Then she caught herself tracing circles on the top of the tabletop, and froze, staring down at the invisible mandala, seeing the colors in her mind.

Destiny. Gods frakking destiny. Purpose. She had hers. She knew what it was, if not exactly when. And now she could see that part of hers had involved pulling Sam behind her all along - saving him from Caprica, getting him to Earth to get the wings, and putting him on his path to be reborn with full knowledge of his past. He could only do this after he understood and took responsibility for the war.

But it still felt as if he wasn't finished; that he was making the wrong choice. And yet he'd seemed to certain...

Then if she'd had any choice of what to do next, it was taken away.

"Dradis contact at the outer range!" Helo broke into her thoughts, and everyone's heads snapped up to the displays.

"It's huge," Dee said in stunned horror.

"Action stations," the admiral commanded. "Ready to jump the fleet."

"Oh gods, it's the Colony," Kara realized. It had the mass of at least two battlestars. It looked like a small moon on the dradis, not a ship.

"Fleet is spooled and ready," Dee reported.

Kara glanced at the massive incoming ship, the tiny baseship, the Fleet, and Galactica. Sam was prepared to throw himself and the rebel Cylons in the way, protecting the Fleet, but she remembered what Leoben had said -- that sacrifice would be for nothing if the Colony destroyed humanity. That meant they had to get out of here. She had to find a way out of here.

There must be some way out of here....

"Sir, belay!" she raced up the steps to the nav table. "I know where to go!"

"Hold for new coordinates," Adama confirmed instantly. "Move the ship between them and the Fleet."

"Aye, sir," Dee answered.

Kara played the notes on the edge of the table as if it were a keyboard, humming.

"Come on, Kara, hurry," Helo told her. "Weapons range in thirty."

Kara heard them all distantly, focusing on the music. Here. Now. This was the moment. If the Fleet left now, the Humans would survive, but the Cylons would die.

She was the harbinger of death.

The music filled her, and her mind cleared.

Sam had said it -- God, Zeus, the universe, they were all different ways to talk about the same thing. So too was music another way to make a pattern out of chaos, like numbers.

Her fingers found the entry pad, knowing exactly which numbers she needed: "1123..." She typed them all in.

"That's beyond red line," Helo warned, at her elbow now.

"It's our new home," Kara lifted her face to the Admiral, imploring him to trust her. "It's where we have to go. I know it."

Without hesitation, he ordered, "Transmit the new coordinates, only to our fleet, and order the jump."

"Confirmed, all ships.... Fleet jumping. Fleet is away," Dee said.

Kara's eyes went to the display of the real-time image of the Colony. It looked like an overgrown Hub, all huge and spiky like something dredged from the bottom of the sea. It dwarfed the baseship bravely shimmering in space before it.

They didn't have the coordinates, but at least they could escape. "Jump, you moron, jump," she urged it under her breath, but it remained.

The admiral ordered, "Jump."

As Galactica jumped, the baseship was left behind to confront the enemy alone.

The battlestar shook and trembled as it came out in real-space. Kara staggered and nearly fell, except for Karl's quick grab of her shoulders.

"Hey, you okay?" he asked, in concern.

"I'm fine," she reassured him. It was true, but not fully true. She was strangely light-headed -- not dizzy, but the bulkheads and table seemed ... faint. As if they weren't quite there. She reached out to touch the plastic and though she felt it under her fingers, it wasn't real.

She looked up into Helo's familiar face, lit by the reddish alert status lights and the brighter lights above, and she smiled.

He frowned at her, puzzled by her sudden smile. "What?"

But before Kara could put words to the strange feeling settling inside, Dee called out from the other side of CIC, "Planetary mass on dradis. And, sir, scanners report nitrogen and oxygen atmosphere." Her voice took on an excited edge, shaking a little, "Large saline oceans. Green land."

Someone whooped in excitement and cut it off abruptly, recalling the last time they'd thought they'd reached a place of safety.

But Helo kept looking at her, waiting.

So she answered his unspoken question. "We made it," she said. Her voice carried across the room, as certain about this as she was anything in her whole life. "Welcome home."

Dee grinned, someone else gave a happy shout, and the Admiral hit the top of the table with both fists before reaching for the phone, probably to call the president.

Kara watched them all, smiling in contentment at their happiness. But it all seemed far from her and fading away.

Helo grabbed her in a hug, "You did it! You did it!"

She hugged him back but when her hands went behind him, there was nothing to hold onto. No feathers, no wings -- it was all wrong.

Helo realized she wasn't as ecstatic about their arrival as she could be and tipped up her chin to look at him. "Hey, C-Bucs rule, remember? They might be down ten points, but when Sam took the ball in the final seconds, they always had a chance. Hang in there."

She gasped a chuckle, surprised by the pyramid analogy, but nodded.
Karl was right; she couldn't give up hope yet. She could feel Sam was still alive. He wasn't done yet.

She could wait.

* * *

On the baseship, D'Anna exclaimed in amazement, "That's the Colony?"

"It used to be a lot smaller," Galen said dryly.

Sam could hardly believe what the stream was telling him either. He remembered starting to grow the facility around the ship to make a new habitat for the new Cylon race, but this was more than doubled in size from what he remembered.

"They're hailing us," Sonja reported.

"The Fleet?"

Sonja waited until she could report, "They're away. And now Galactica's following them. ... They're gone."

At least the humans were safe. The Cylons could take care of their own problems.

"Colony has weapons lock," Vera reported.

"We still have thirty-two minutes until the defenses go down, what do we do?" Tory asked.

"We stall," Sam answered, heavily. John had moved too quickly and had a bigger ship than Sam knew about. "That's all we can do. We have no chance before Ellen gets the Hybrids under her control."

"We have no chance, period," Galen muttered. "Ramming it won't work. Nothing short of a direct hit on the core will take out that thing."

Sam feared he was right. The Hybrids didn't control all the defenses, even assuming Ellen could get the whole network down. He had only one baseship, which didn't hold a full squadron of Raiders. The baseship was no match for Galactica; against the bigger Colony, he was completely outmatched and overpowered. There was no way to reach the core through point defenses and meters of armor hull. Surface damage would only grow back.

And yet, while Sam Anders, professor of AI, had no idea of how to fight a battle he had no logical hope of winning, Sam Anders, resistance fighter and pyramid player, knew he had to keep going. He would find a way.

He put his hand in the datastream, and formed the projection of the Caprica City Coliseum. He pulled all the Cylons in, so they seemed to be standing in the middle of the C-Bucs homecourt. Bright lights shone on them from overhead, and the stands were quiet and dark. It was the place he'd learned to fight, unwittingly practicing for the real battles to come, and it felt like home.

Sonja looked around with a smile, and he wondered if all Sixes liked Pyramid. "You can bring us all in, that's amazing."

He explained, "You can enter only the main channel and your own line's. But we touch them all, if we want to." Right then, he saw someone joining the first channel and brought John in.

John looked around disdainfully and then at Sam. "Let me guess, this is yours. Some attempt to put me on the defensive?"

Sam shrugged. "No. I haven't done this in a long time, so I wanted to form what I remember best."

"It's very nice for a fantasy world," John said with condescension.

Sam rolled his eyes at John's transparent attempt to put him on the defensive in turn. But keenly aware of the time clicking away on the game clock at the far end of court, he answered, "You're the one who claims to want to be less human, and yet you always scorn the gifts we gave you as Cylons, like projection."

As he'd hoped, that was enough provocation to send John into a five minute rant on how badly the Five had made the Seven, and with a little nudging, led into what had happened to Daniel.

Sam was perversely glad that the other Cylons - including the Fours and Fives who were listening in, even if they hadn't entered the main channel - were all hearing the pure, unvarnished truth about their history and about how badly John had played and betrayed them all.

It made him sad to know that John had never understood that the Five never loved the Humans better or more; they'd been trying to recreate what they were themselves and the world they'd lost. Originally Sam had hoped that with more human-form Cylons, all the tribes would be able to come back together, in peace. That dream had gone up in smoke, because of John's act of vengeance and revenge.

Now all Sam could do was finish the plan God had set for him and save the humans from the Cylons' -- from his own -- mistakes. Despite what Diana and what the others had done to him, he understood the hate, because he'd shared it. He would save the humans because he'd been one.

The clock was at eleven minutes remaining when John seemed to realize they were provoking him deliberately, and he got short. "So, I'm sure this history lesson is exciting to some of you, but it's old news. Back to the reason we're here. Have you thought about my proposal?"

"Frak you," Sonja spat. "You're going to kill us all anyway."

He glared at her. "You should be begging me for your lives. Don't think I don't know that if I destroy that baseship the three I want will resurrect. The rest of you? Won't."

"We can't recreate resurrection without Saul," Tory insisted.

John sniffed disdainfully. "Don't be so modest. I’m sure you can."

"Maybe we could," Sam admitted, trying not to look at the clock. The timing of this was going to work if he could push it just a few more minutes. "I don't think it will be as easy as you think. Memory imaging is key to resurrection, and the rest of us didn't learn it, because Saul already knew. What he knew died with him, when Charlie Conner strangled him in revenge for the death of his little boy on New Caprica."

John of course shrugged off the accusation of his indirect responsibility for Saul's death. Sam's jaw tightened at the sight. He said coldly, "So let me make this clear: I won't try, if you kill the rest of your siblings."

"Then, we have a deal. You three get in a ship and come here. I'll let the baseship go... wherever," John waved a hand vaguely. "I don't care. You have five minutes to launch, or I kill that baseship and you end up here anyway."

John vanished from the projection and Sam let the others leave it, if they wished. He held it for himself though, staring at the logo on the floor and around at the stands he remembered so well from years of playing here. He hadn't known who he was; all he'd known was the game.

"We fight," D'Anna declared.

"That's right. Frak him and his ultimatum," Sonja agreed, Threes and Sixes united once again. "When the defenses go down, we fight. We have Heavy Raiders - we can do damage."

"No," Tory disagreed. "He'll kill you all. If we do it his way, you'll have a chance."

This place, in reality, was ash, destroyed by the child he'd made with no sense of empathy, only jealousy and hatred. That child had killed uncountable numbers of people, committed horror and atrocity, and while Sam had been a victim of that horror himself, John's madness was the Five's responsibility.

Not the other Cylons. Not the other progeny. They didn't deserve to die because their makers had tried to be gods and failed. They didn't deserve to die right at the moment they were learning how to be alive.

There was only one answer left.

Sam lifted his head. "Tory's right. You need to live, and love, and grow into the people you were always meant to be. And I won't condemn Sharon and Caprica and their children to being the last Cylons in the galaxy. We lived that and our loneliness led to our mistake with John. So I'm going to do what John wants and get in a Heavy Raider. This baseship will jump away to safety."

Sonja and D'Anna were shaking their heads in refusal, but he noticed Leoben was watching in rapt silence. He knew there was more.

Sam tightened his jaw and squared his shoulders, pulling the wings tightly into his body. "And I'm going to jump that Heavy Raider straight into the Colony's engine core and detonate it."

Galen's eyes met his and they both remembered suicide bombers on New Caprica. All this has happened before...

Galen shook his head once. "Not alone, Sam. You'll need pinpoint accuracy for a short range jump, and you don't know the Colony's engine configuration as well as I do."

Sam didn't try to argue him out of it. "All right. So, Tory will stay and guide you--" he started to say to D'Anna and Sonja, but Tory cut him off.

"What?" she said, startled. "No. I go with you."

"You can stay --"

She cut him off, speaking urgently, her hands folded together. "No. I can't. I'm the one who has the most to atone for."

He frowned and shook his head. "No, you don't. You had nothing to do with John's mind or personality creation."

No, that had been him and Ellen, mostly.

"It was all of us," Tory said stubbornly. "Without my cloning tech, John would never have launched his plan because he would've stayed a single individual. But, that's not my ... regret. When we learned we were Cylons, I became something I never wanted to be. I did something..." she glanced at Galen and then back, straightening as she admitted flatly, "I killed Cally. She found out, and she was going to kill herself and Nicky. I grabbed Nicky and sent her out the airlock."

Sam was aghast. "You-- You didn't. Oh my God." No wonder Galen had been so upset and strange with her. She'd already confessed to him.

"I'm not a killer," she protested in anguish and held out her hands, looking at them as if she wasn't sure they belonged to her. She laughed hollowly. "Remember how I had to take all the spiders back outside, when they got into the lab? But instead of proving that's the truth about us, I took her fears about Cylons and I made them all true. She died in terror of what Cylons could do. I have to do something to make up for it; I need to save her son."

He nodded in sad understanding, accepting her decision. He remembered other humans going out the airlock under his watch. He still remembered all of their faces. Maybe it was as it should be -- the Five ending things together.

"And you have to stay," Tory continued unexpectedly, her slim hand curling around his arm and bringing his attention back to her. "You already died, Sam. I can feel this isn't for you."

Her jerked his head up in alarm at the suggestion, rejecting it wholly. "No."

"You must lead us to the Fleet," Leoben declared. "Tory can't guide us to our new Earth. You know the song that will bring us home, otherwise we'll wander lost."

Sam shook his head, stubbornly. "No, this isn't the plan."

"Your plan, not mine." Tory's fingers brushed his cheek and down to his chest and the dogtag still hanging there. "Kara's waiting for you, Sam. Go to her."

"No," he repeated in frantic denial, realizing his intention was falling apart all around him. This couldn't be happening. "No. I ... I won't be left alone. I can't. Don't ask this of me," his voice faded to a whisper.

"You won't be alone if you save them," Tory rose up on her toes to press her lips to his. He kissed her goodbye, trying to think of a new protest.

"Besides," Galen added, "I have a feeling it won't be for too long."

"Any time will be too long," Sam said, and he and Galen hugged tightly.

"Make sure Kara got Nicky to the right place, okay? Tell him I'm sorry -- about Cally, about ... everything," Galen requested with a sad half-smile, and squeezed Sam's shoulder. "We have to go."

Then he and Tory hurried out, ebony wings rustling together and overlapping, bringing them back together to face death as they had once been in life, long ago.

"Frak," Sam muttered, slumping and aching. But he didn't have long to be grieved.

Vera reported, "I have Boomer. They're ready in five."

Sam slipped his hand back in the stream, sorting through the data to the seventh, empty channel. "Ellen? Ellen?" He could sense her, somewhere in there, but she didn't answer. That probably meant she had already gone deep into the underchannel of the Hybrid's stream, getting ready.

It seemed all too soon, John contacted them, and Sam made sure he was in the seventh channel, letting the data-packets flow like a curtain between them, to conceal his presence.

"So?" John demanded.

Sonja answered, "They're on their way, you son of a bitch. Are you going to kill us now, or are you going to keep your end of the bargain?"

The Heavy Raider with Tory and Galen launched, emerging from the baseship, and their connection to it grew more tenuous.

"Where's all that Six faith?" John taunted. "When I have them on board, you can go. Because once I have what's left of the Five and resurrection, you - sister - won't matter anymore. It was so stupid to blow up the Hub and kill us all."

"It was the best decision we've ever made," Sonja said, and Sam could feel her eyes on him, heavy with a new understanding and sympathy. "We understand what the end of life means now."

John rolled his eyes. "It's highly overrated."

Sam hoped Galen and Tory were ready but didn't dare contact them and possibly reveal his presence still on the baseship. He watched their Heavy Raider clear the baseship's proximity, on a steady course to the Colony.

Sam's free hand clenched into a tight fist, wanting to call them back or stop them, but he didn't send a signal. They'd never get a second chance at this. He had to let them go.

"Raptor on sensors," another Six said, in surprise.

He felt a ... tickle - and then Ellen was there, with him. ".... Fours... allies.... save them..." she told him, forcing herself to use words even buried in the Hybrid's stream.

"Let them come," he ordered aloud.

Then he felt Ellen's determination, but also her warmth and love spread over the link, directly sharing her feelings as she said goodbye.

He let her feel his love and regret that the others had taken his place.

Her whisper seemed all around him and filled with a pure clarity of understanding, "I'll see you on the other side. Do what you need to do and know that you have our love with you, always."

Then she was gone from the direct link, but Vera reported softly, "In twenty... nineteen... eighteen..."

John came back in the stream as the Raptor slipped hastily into the baseship's docking bay. "I see a traitor or two are scurrying to join you like the rats they are."

D'Anna smiled, giving nothing away, "Rats know a losing side when they see one."

Then Ellen's command slammed into the Colony's Hybrids, and Sam threw himself down, diving deep in the stream, trying to help.

The datastream opened up -- vast and immeasurable, but not empty. From here he could glimpse the connections between everything: the web between atoms and gravity and time and other worlds beyond this one.

He tried to ignore their lure, focusing on the Hybrids to keep the defenses down as John fought them, panicked and furious that they were doing something he didn't understand. The Hybrids resisted, not wanting three of the Makers to die, and he had to help Ellen hold them as they screamed.

And he saw that Tory and Galen joined hands as they jumped their ship and left real-space.

An instant and eternity later, the Heavy Raider came back, glowing with its own fierce joy, straight into the white-heat of the Colony's fusion core.

It blew with a flash that ripped the fabric of space-time, unspinning the web in a wave of destruction and light, and he knew if it touched the baseship they would all die.

He grabbed the strands of music that hung in the black, pulling on the shimmering trail that Kara had left behind in her wake.

This was how Hybrids did it, seeing space laid out before them and reaching out and folding it, to bring here and there close together. He did the same, immersed in its deep embrace, as the Colony tore itself apart in flashes of fire.

The ship shifted in the jump, energies flowing over and through him, for an instant sweeping him away. But at the very moment of ecstatic completion, the Colony and its Hybrid stream were torn away, hurling him back into the nothingness of real-space.



He felt someone's arms around him and knew he'd fallen, but even when he opened his eyes, at first he could only see the depths of space. He forced himself to pull away, shoving himself back into the limited shell of his own body. He blinked and the claustrophobic confines of the command deck appeared. Sonja and Leoben were beside him, but he felt ... splintered and alone.

God, so alone.

"They're dead," he murmured. "They're all dead."

He closed his eyes, consumed by the emptiness welling from inside him. Ellen, Saul, Galen, Tory -- his only family. They were dead. Boomer, who had helped save his life back on Caprica an eternity ago was dead. All the Ones and Fives. The Hybrids and Centurions on the Colony. Its Raiders and Heavy Raiders. The Colony itself. All of them.

Someone's hands curled around his. "Sam."

He refused to answer at first, but when she said his name again, he opened his eyes to look at D'Anna, who was kneeling before him.

"We've made it," she told him and smiled brilliantly. "The Fleet's here with Galactica. And there's a beautiful world beneath us. It's green and blue and white with clouds. We're here, and we're safe."

At first the words didn't mean anything, only slowly penetrating his grief. "Fours?"

A deep voice came from his left. "Three of us were on the Raptor. Ellen wanted some of us to survive."

"Thank God." He put out a hand, and one of the Fours grasped it and helped him to his feet.

For the first time, he felt all of his actual years. His body might be new, but he ached everywhere, from the tips of his wings to his feet. Deeper still, his spirit felt weary and broken. He opened his wings in a stretch and noticed the Fours watching avidly.

"It's all true," one of them said. "We were right, and our brothers were terribly wrong."

"At least you three survived, brothers," D'Anna said.

But so few. So few Cylons. And only one left from Earth. There had been five, and now there was only him.

Sam furled his wings and rested both hands on the edge of the datafont, feeling weary to the bone. He'd done it -- the baseship was here at a new world and he'd saved the Cylons -- and he couldn't find a single spark of joy over it within himself.

"Galactica is hailing us," Vera reported.

"I guess I should reassure them." Sam put his hand in the font again to open the comm channel. The stream felt like ice, prickling against his skin, as if the interface was wrong. Or he was wrong. "Galactica, baseship. This is Anders. I bring the remnants of the Thirteenth Tribe. We... " his throat worked, at first unable to push the words out, "we're the last. We ask for sanctuary."

There was a moment of silence, and then Roslin's voice came over the wireless, strong and formal, "Granted. The Twelve Tribes welcome our cousins of the Thirteenth Tribe." Then her voice turned a little wry, "I think the gods have made it very clear that this is a sanctuary for all."

"So say we all, madam president," he answered.

Then Kara came on the line. "Sam! 'Bout frakking time you showed up." She was trying to sound annoyed, but he could tell she was grinning.

He couldn't help a smile in return, as the sound of her voice made him feel suddenly lighter. "Good to see you, too."

"Let's meet on the surface," she suggested, "and see this place the gods have been such a pain in the ass about sending us."

"Done. See you soon."

Since Heavy Raiders were even more cramped than Raptors, he took the Raptor that had brought the Fours. He and D'Anna, Sonja, Vera, Leoben and Simon packed into the Raptor. It was only when the ship had launched that he realized the ship contained a representative of each of the surviving model lines - seven remained of what had once been thirteen, before betrayal and death had torn them all apart.

As they dropped under the clouds, the green and brown mountains and grasslands spread out beneath them, untouched and beautiful. Then they crossed the terminus into night, colors shifting into the starry black.

He couldn't stay inside that tight confines of the Raptor one second longer, not with all that open air around them. "Hover," he ordered abruptly and moved to the hatch. "I want to fly down."

Nobody argued with him. D'Anna slowed the ship and he ignored the automatic warning that they weren't anywhere near the ground to open the hatch. The wind rushed in, cold and fresh against his skin, and he inhaled it deeply.

Then, kicking off his shoes, he threw himself into the air. For a moment he let himself fall to clear the ship, and then opened the wings. The wind curled over and through his feathers, like a caress, and he soared.

He could see the stars above him, through the clouds and the air smelled of new life and hope. As the world turned beneath him, he could see the horizon lightening to indigo.

As the stars faded and the sky brightened, he saw the Colonial landing area and angled toward them, dropping leisurely down in the pale fragile light settling like frost over this untouched new land.

As beautiful as the land was, nothing was as beautiful as Kara, standing in the glow of the coming dawn in a field of tiny purple flowers. He touched down on his feet, backwinging to land on one foot, lightly.

There were no secrets left, no more driving missions, only her arms holding him tightly, her lips on his fierce and hot, and her breath on his skin.

"Don't you ever do that to me again!" she ordered, hitting his back with a fist.

"Never again," he promised. He held her, letting her light and life chase away the darkness and death that weighed him down.

Her hands made light caresses of his wings. "I feel you," she murmured, lips brushing his neck. "You feel real."

"I'm real," he answered and sighed wearily, knowing the ache inside was his soul, not truly his body. "They made me come back. Made me stay. I ... don't know if I can do this..."

"Hush," her fingers smoothed his hair and down his neck. "It's going to be okay. You did it, you saved them, Sam."

"No," he whispered into her hair. "You did. You brought the humans here and I followed."

He could feel her smiling against his skin. "Fine, we saved them."

"It doesn't matter anymore. It's over."

"Not an ending; a new beginning," she corrected softly, reminding him of what the Hybrid had said. "Everyone's safe and free, and they can start again. And you and I ... we can move on. This isn't our place anymore."

Once she said it, he knew it was true. It was a relief to realize there was nothing holding him here. The surviving Cylons were strong, and they'd finish merging with their more forgiving human cousins. The prophecy of Hera would be complete someday, but it would happen without him. He didn’t have to stay.

Feeling so much lighter, he traced the wing tattoo on her arm with one finger. There was another prophecy about to come true. They'd followed their destiny and they didn't belong here.

She pulled back a little, to look into his eyes. She was smiling, content and fearless about what was to come. "Are you ready?" she asked, taking his hands.

The music was out there, and they were going to follow it, wherever it led. He brought her hand to his lips and smiled. "Let's fly."

* * *

From not far away, Dee watched Kara and Sam. She'd seen Kara pull coordinates out of the song, and now she watched as Sam landed in front of Kara, with the grace of a butterfly. It hadn't seemed possible that someone so large could fly so beautifully. She turned to Lee, shaking her head. "Sometimes... I don't understand what's going on," she admitted. "But I'm really glad for it."

"Me too," he agreed. "We made it. Somehow. We're here." He glanced again at Kara and Sam, and then smiled at Dee. "It's a new world. Do you -- would you like to explore it with me?"

His face was hesitant, but his grip on her fingers was tight as if he would never let her go. She didn't keep him waiting. "I would. Every day, Lee."

A laugh from Kara interrupted and they turned to see Sam holding Kara close, as he opened his wings.

Over his shoulder, Kara's eyes met Lee's and she looked sad for a moment, mouthing, "Goodbye."

Lee stiffened and took a step toward her.

But Sam launched them straight upward, and Kara let out a startled shriek that became a joyful laugh that spread across the field like golden light. Dee's face lifted to follow, her mouth dropping open. Only a few beats of the mighty wings got them high in the sky.

They were soon high enough the sun's rays touched them and made his wings gleam. Squinting, Dee was sure she saw another shimmer at Kara's back, too, as they rose higher and higher in the sky, heading toward the rising sun.

Then the sun burst over the horizon, casting a sudden brilliance across everyone's eyes, and Dee had to look away. When she looked back, shading her eyes with one hand, they were gone.

Lee's hand found hers and she looked up into his blue eyes. He seemed a little sad but at peace, as he said softly, "They're not coming back."

"No, I don't think so. They did what they came back to do," Dee murmured and leaned her head against his shoulder. "They gave us hope."

He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close. Together they looked at the Humans and Cylons who stood together, some of them with their faces still turned upward to the sky.

She saw Karl and Sharon and Hera together in the tall grass, and Caprica with Baltar hovering protectively at her side. Brendan held Nicky while another Eight stroked the baby's hair. The Admiral and Roslin stood a little apart, their arms around each other. High above, there were thousands in the Fleet waiting their chance to come down and see this new world for themselves. It was a world full of life and promise, and Dee had no doubt they were home.

After the long night, the dawn had finally come.

* * * *

In the years that followed, generations were born to live and die. Children's children told the stories of the gods on the mountain: the Elder Gods who died to allow their children to rise up; Apollo and fierce Anastasia who ruled wisely and well; Athena and Helios and their daughter Hera, and the time she spent in the lands of ice; and the messengers who brought the living to their new world and guide the dead across the river to the other side.

In the dark of night, some whispered another story, of the firstborn of the new gods. At first he was the favored son of his creators, but he grew jealous of the mortals, whom his parents seemed to love more. He rebelled and a great storm of fire and death spread over the world. The great winged archangels fought him in a terrible battle and at great sacrifice, cast him into the inferno. But because no mortal being watched his fall, the people warned that he sits on his throne in hell and plans the next apocalypse.

But the people also told the story of Aurora, who walked among the mortals to search for her husband, the lord of the sky. The jealous lord of the shadows had betrayed him, tore away his memories, and cast him to the ground. There, he lived as an ordinary man and he became a great warrior, fighting for the old king. But when Aurora found him, she restored him and their love shone brightly. He and Aurora flew together to their home on the horizon.

The shadows of their great wings spread across the sky every dawn, holding back the darkness.

the end

I hope you enjoyed the story. If you did, I'd love to know about it!

Back to the Index/Master post
cavgirlcavgirl on October 8th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
Wow. I've just finished this, and... wow. It's not the sort of thing I would usually read - in fact, if you hadn't included Roslin's name on the character list I probably wouldn't even have tried it, as I'm not a huge fan of either Kara or Sam. But this.... is gorgeous, and so different, and it's visceral. The parts where Sam loses his wings made me feel physically ill, and the descriptions of his flying remind me of that scene in the third Harry Potter movie, when Harry gets his first flight on Buckbeak. I'll definitely be archiving this to my HDD once it's all uploaded on AO3! Thanks for a gr4eat read.
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders - dawnlizardbeth_j on October 9th, 2010 12:03 am (UTC)
heh, I'm glad I mentioned Laura then *g* even though she's not a major player.. Thank you for giving it a try!

It's been a long haul, with a pretty uncertain readership (I mean, heck, even I mocked wingfic, before I wrote it!), so I appreciate hearing that my work paid off! :D
cavgirlcavgirl on October 9th, 2010 12:45 am (UTC)
One thing it reminds me of, a little, is Cliff McNish's 'Angel'. It's a gorgeous book that plays around with ideas about angels and childhood and life and death and other things, and there's something in the texture of the writing that's very similar to what you've done here.

...and I can so see that wingfic could either be the crackiest of crack, or just 'My Immortal' levels of awfullness.
entertaining in a disturbing way: Kara Sam WHAT IS THISlyssie on October 12th, 2010 04:17 am (UTC)
*sniffles a lot*

I think I prefer this a great deal to Sam the Hybrid, even with the ripping off of his wings and stuff.

And Ellen and Boomer working together. And Tory confessing and Galen not murdering her on the spot and, and. *sniffles* Oh, Ellen.

And Kara and Sam as mythical figures that disappear into the sky while Dee and Lee watch. =D
lizardbeth: Shadowed Skylizardbeth_j on October 15th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
I obviously like this better than all the Hybrid!Sam crap, so yeah, glad you agree. I like to think that at least my characters suffer for a purpose. But then I like a 'verse full of mystical beings and destiny.

I kind of wished I had Ellen and Boomer directly, but ... there were enough words, without adding all that too. :0

Thank you! I'm glad at least a few people are reading the wingfic... :/
kore: chacokorenap on October 16th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
This was wonderful. I love the way your minds works and am staggered by your ability to communicate your vision. This is a story to savor. Wonderful highs and lows, never predictable, very real and completely magical. Thank you so much for writing this.
lizardbeth: Shadowed Skylizardbeth_j on October 18th, 2010 12:14 am (UTC)
oh, thank you so much for reading and commenting! This is something I knew was going to have a pretty low readership (given the pairings, length, plus people are scared of wingfic), so knowing someone has read and enjoyed it really makes my day! ;D

Both real and magical is the highest compliment I can think of, since that's exactly what I hoped for. I'm glad you liked it.

kag523 on March 6th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
There's so much beauty in this ending. It has a poetry that just transcends the plot and takes it further. I adore the idea of the wings, and their connection to the destiny of the entire Fleet. I found this ending far easier to "take" than Kara simply disappearing in a field after losing Sam, and then leaving Lee behind to face a new world alone. In this ending, Lee has his happy ending, and so do Kara and Sam. All of the parts of my (multi-shipping) heart are left contented. As to the writing? Just lovely and succint.

Wow! K :>D
lizardbeth: Shadowed Skylizardbeth_j on May 5th, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
(I could've sworn I replied to this eons ago, but apparently it slipped by. sorry)

This thing started out as crack -- Wing!fic being really ridiculous -- but the more I got into it, the more it seemed to fit. And then it became my way to 'fix' 4.5-- (I really hate the hybrid part, in case that hasn't come thru :) and I was also disappointed how we got no payoff from Sam's guitar (besides the more obv things like Dee's death) -- Watchtower and Kara's piano and the guitar seemed like they should be together.

Anyway, thank you so much, belatedly. :D
Deborah: Kara/Leoben hands by _veroniquedeborah_judge on May 2nd, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
I really liked this story. It's oddly sweet and yes, fixes a lot of what went wrong with season 4.5. The way you re-did the mutiny arc and the final confrontation make a lot of sense. Your winged Sam is really sexy, too.
lizardbeth: Anders- featherslizardbeth_j on May 5th, 2011 04:19 am (UTC)
It was a fun experiment to take the main plot points and re-work them with this premise and make it something I like so much better as my fanon ending. Which is funny since it started as pure crack and an excuse to do Wing!Sam (who is pretty sexy, I agree *g*)

Thank you for reading! (didn't expect that our of my pimpage at epics, but that was sweet of you!)
patron saint of neglected female characters: wakerose_griffes on February 6th, 2012 01:37 am (UTC)
I'm not sure exactly when I started reading this--possibly over the summer with all the crazy travel schedule?--but I found myself riveted in spite of my disinterest in wingfic. (You have a knack for doing this to me: Kara/Sam + baby fic as well as this.) Anyway, it was fascinating and plotty and I'm so impressed at how all of it worked together.
lizardbeth: BSG- opera houselizardbeth_j on February 6th, 2012 04:24 am (UTC)
Glad you came back and you liked it! :D


(me and the really-cliche-fandom-crack-tropes, I don't even know at this point, heh.)