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08 December 2013 @ 05:33 pm
BSG FIC: Black Sails at Dawn 1/?  
In celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the first airing of Battlestar Galactica, I'm excited to launch:

Not All That We Are IV: Black Sails at Dawn

Pairing: Sam/Kara, Sam/Six (also ref: Agathons, other canon pairings)
Characters: Kara, Sam, Six (Thea, Caprica, Natalie), Boomer, Ellen, Leoben, Adama, Roslin, Lee, everybody in the freaking ensemble...

Rating: PG

Summary: The two fleets have found the Eye of Jupiter, and are now on course for their final confrontation. Yet both sides face division and it may be that the only winner will be death.

Notes: A long time ago, I started "Not All That We Are" which was then a pretty short AU fic with the premise of 'what if Sam found out he was a Cylon earlier during the attacks?" This then spawned a huge AU 'verse that basically is a parallel canon to the show, heavy on mythology, destiny, and the gods.

Previous installments: (if you read them when they were first put on the net, the prologue will serve as a reminder)
Not All That We Are LJ | AO3 | ff.net
Part 2: At the Labyrinth Gates LJ | AO3 | ff.net
Part 3: The Thread of Ariadne LJ | AO3 | ff.net


Many thanks to [personal profile] sabaceanbabe who has been there from the beginning, and to [profile] rirenec for giving me this great cover image.

Not All That We Are
Part IV: Black Sails at Dawn


Before leaving to free the youths of Athens, Theseus arranged with the king a message that could be seen upon their return: white sails meant the quest was a success, and black sails meant the quest failed and all was lost. Theseus left and slayed the minotaur, with the help of the beautiful Ariadne. He brought her home to be his wife, but she perished on the voyage, though some say jealous gods stole her away. Stricken by grief, Theseus left the black sails in place as his ship approached the shore. The king, believing the quest had failed and Theseus was dead, cast himself over the cliffs into the sea. Theseus succeeded as king, harvesting wisdom from his sorrow.

Days passed on the baseship, each slipping into the next with little change. Sharon watched Sam direct the baseship's course, listening to a sound only he could hear as his gaze stared blindly. He spoke rarely, and left the command deck only when Thea took his hand and led him away. He always returned though and never slept that Sharon saw.

She worried for him, but Thea was doing what she could, so Sharon worried also for her sisters who seemed to fall deeper into doubt the longer this mania of his continued.

But everything changed as soon as the ship came out of the jump into realspace. Sharon already had a hand in the datastream, seeing the human fleet orbiting a rocky planet. Was it Earth?

A chill went up Sharon's spine when she heard Sam say, "It's here."

Whatever they were chasing was here, at this barren planet that Galactica had already found. Across all those light-years, they had followed a signal only one person could hear. But they'd found it at last.

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

"I need to go. Find it." Sam's eyes shut, and Sharon could see the truth of whatever he was feeling in his face. It was real. "I have to go."

For Sam to find it meant they had to get past Galactica. "Call a truce with Adama," Sharon said urgently. "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." His face held the same distracted, pained cast to it that he'd had for days while the signal had taken over his mind.

"Let him go," Thea pleaded. "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 repeated, "before he starts lobbing nukes at us. We can't take on Galactica alone."

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

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

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

Sharon was annoyed by the objections when their course of action was so plain to her. "They have people on the surface. Adama will give us a truce to recover them."

Sam turned abruptly and headed for the door, ignoring everyone else. Thea followed, calling out, "Stall for time! Give Sam time to do what he needs to do."

"This is a trap," Three said. "We have to get out of here, before Adama kills us."

"He has yet to fire on us," Simon's voice was an oasis of calm in all the panic. "No doubt he's as confused by our presence as we are."

"Sharon and Thea are right," Caprica urged her sister and D'Anna. "We need to give Sam time. We're here for a reason."

"The reason is because he snapped," Natalie snapped. "And I’m not risking this ship for the whims of a crazy person."

"He's not!" Caprica insisted.

"All of you, shut up," Sharon exclaimed. "We're not leaving." She accessed the communications system and activated the main wireless. Taking a deep breath to try to quell the sudden anxiety -- mostly at taking direct action without consensus support, but then she remembered who she was and what she'd done, and she was ready. "Galactica. This is the baseship, requesting to speak directly to Admiral Adama."

Then, as she waited, she met Caprica's eyes, and Caprica nodded her approval. Natalie's arms were folded, and she looked angry, but she didn't try to stop Sharon.

The response came after a moment, and Sharon recognized Dee's voice with a pang of regret: "Baseship, you are on a channel to CIC. Admiral Adama is listening."

Sharon kept one hand in the datastream, but tightened the other to a fist, praying this worked. He might hate her now after what she did, but she thought at least he might listen to her, where he might not listen to any other Cylon. "Admiral, this is Sharon Valerii. Boomer," her old callsign nearly got stuck in her throat. "Please, I know I've given you no reason to trust me, after what I did. I wasn't strong enough then, to resist. You don't know how sorry I am. But, please, listen. We are not here to hurt anyone. We're 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 in his gruff voice, "You've launched a Heavy Raider and a Raider squadron toward the surface. Pull it back or there's no truce."

She exchanged a glance with Caprica, who shook her head. Sharon licked her lips and said, "But, admiral, that Heavy Raider must land. They're not after any of your people. They're looking for why we were brought here."

"Pull it back," Adama ordered, and then she heard him command, "Main batteries target that Heavy Raider."

Caprica's eyes went wide with horror. "No! Please! Don't shoot!"

Natalie's hand splashed into the datafont and she added, less frantically but still intensely, "We sent you your man. We sent you food. Isn't that enough to prove our intent? That ship means you no harm."

Then Roslin's voice came through, cool and authoritative, "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 Eye of Jupiter. Sharon knew what that meant. "The Temple of Five? You found the Temple of Five?"

Then D'Anna smirked a little and added, countering Roslin, "Let me make this very clear, Admiral. You destroy that Heavy Raider and we will destroy you."

Sharon glared at her and hissed, "D'Anna, you're not helping." Sharon decided she'd have to be honest or this was all going to go horribly wrong. "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 what his vision is showing him."

"Anders is on that Heavy Raider?" Adama asked, sounding as if he might be willing to bend, after all.

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 his crew, loudly enough she could hear, "Targeting off. Let it land."

The signal closed, without Adama confirming the truce, but since Galactica wasn't moving to attack, she figured it was done. Sharon nodded and raised her eyes to the rest of her siblings. "There. Now we stay here, quietly, do nothing, and wait."

"The Temple of Five," Caprica said, shooting a triumphant glance at her sisters. "You see, Natalie? You need more faith. You thought he was mad -- but he really was hearing it. He's looking for the Eye of Jupiter, to lead us forward."

Natalie looked unconvinced, and Sharon was sure she was thinking that hearing the voice of God might confirm insanity, not negate it. Because how could a mortal human, no matter how special, be expected to hear such a thing, and not be overwhelmed?

"What's to stop him from handing the Eye of Jupiter to the Humans, once he finds it?" Three demanded. "You know Thea and Leoben will go along with whatever he wants."

Another Two had come onto the deck to reform the consensus now that his brother had gone with Sam, and he said quietly, "As they should. He'll do what he has to do. Remember, he told us that Earth is not only for us; it's for the humans, too."

"Not if we get there first." Three pulled her hand from the datastream and folded her arms.

Leoben returned, his voice deep with disapproval, "And that attitude is why the Eye will go to the humans. And why we spent two weeks lost, so the Colonials found the Temple first."

"Their headstart hasn't seemed to help them all that much, has it?" Three smirked at him, unimpressed with his argument.

"He's not going to give it to them," Caprica protested. "He said his place was among us; he'll return to us."

"If he can," Three said, and nodded thoughtfully. "What if the humans try to take both? I'm sure that's why Adama let him land-- let Sam find the Eye and then snatch both away from us. We should make arrangements to make sure they don't interfere."

Sharon didn't get a chance to ask what arrangements, because then she saw in the datastream that the Galactica's Vipers were going after the Raiders. "Oh God, no-- What are they doing?" Her stomach was tight as she watched the Vipers launch an attack against the Heavy Raider, feeling confused and upset. Had Adama changed his mind? Was he trying to kill Sam? Did he not believe her?

"So much for the truce," Caprica spat. "And after we told them-- "

"Arm the missiles," Natalie ordered. "If they kill that Heavy Raider -- "

"No!" Four called suddenly from his end of the datafont. "They're not attacking the Heavy Raider. Look!"

He was right, she realized. The Vipers seemed to be targeting the Raiders only, and leaving the Heavy Raider alone.

"They killed all our Raiders," Natalie said. "That's no truce."

"The Heavy Raider is continuing onward," Four reported.

The Heavy Raider was down moments later, diving to the ground like a sea bird suddenly stooping to the sea to catch a fish.

"Did they hit it?" Caprica asked. "I didn't see anyone fire at it."

"No, someone in the cockpit crashed it," Sharon didn't have to say who had made it fall from the sky.

Caprica's eyes met hers, through the projected data screens between them. "What the hell was he doing? They could've been killed!"

Then, new, even more unwelcome news, Natalie reported, "Multiple sensor contacts!"

They all shifted their attention to the new arrivals, anxious. Sharon wanted to laugh at her moment's concern, because who else could it be? It wasn't as if there could really be another fleet of human ships wandering out there, and they had already seen the civilian ships leave. But then, the impulse to laugh died away as the three new baseships flashed into range, already armed and ready for conflict.

Galactica's orientation changed against this new threat and the sensors spotted their weapons going hot. They also recalled the Vipers that had trailed after the Heavy Raider.

Sharon signaled the baseships. "We are in a state of truce with Galactica. You must hold back."

A One appeared in the projection, looking as if he was standing before them. "Truce?" he questioned as if they'd all gone insane. "Why in the hells do we have a truce with Galactica?"

Caprica answered, "A Heavy Raider with Anders, Thea, and a Two has gone down to the surface. If we get in a battle, Galactica's people will shoot them, too."

"And this is a problem, because...?" he demanded, and Sharon wanted to punch him. She hadn't forgotten his lies and manipulation, and apparently he still thought his voice should count for more.

"The Eye of Jupiter is down there somewhere," Three said. "Anders is looking for it."

"Oh, the next step on your mystical journey to Earth," he said with a mocking smirk. "Haven't you all figured out yet that he's not a prophet or oracle, he's just using your simple-minded faith to get what he wants? He wanted to escape you, and you all bought into his act."

"You're wrong," Caprica retorted. "It's not an act. You didn't see him."

"Oh, I've had some updates," One said and glanced at the Five at the forward datafont. Sharon glared at him-- he'd been passing information to the Ones this whole time? Son of a bitch.

Five straightened and returned their glares with a curled lip. "He's a human. And he's corrupted you all. We're better off without him."

"He's an oracle," Caprica insisted. "And he led us here."

One snorted with disdain and scoffed, "The humans found it. It obviously didn't take "god" or an oracle to find it. And it's sort of curious that he found it so slowly the humans have been here for weeks. Almost as if he was delaying reaching here, so they'd have time to harvest their food." And damn him to hell, Sharon saw the doubt flicker across D'Anna and her own sister's face. One added, "But all we have to do to undo your mistake is use our weapons superiority and remove Galactica right now--"

"No!" Caprica said, and Natalie echoed it, "No. Thea and the baby are on the surface. If we act against Galactica, she'll die. We need to wait and recover her and Sam as soon as he's done. We won't be able to do that if there's a battle here."

Sharon and the Fours and Threes all nodded, united again against that threat.

"Oh yes, the "miracle child"," One sneered. "But can I ask how you expect to recover them? Their Heavy Raider won't fly again."

"Galactica will recover their personnel, leave, and then we can get ours," Sharon answered.

"So naïve," he shook his head at her. "The humans on the surface will kill them."

"They won't. I know them, and they won't do it," Sharon answered, hoping it was true. But surely the Colonials would have to be at least intrigued by another Cylon pregnancy? And that was assuming Thea was dumb enough to get caught, which considering how many Centurions were in that Heavy Raider was doubtful.

He glanced at her and made a face. "We should've boxed you on Caprica."

"Frak off," she shot back. "You're the one who's a liar and a traitor to the Cylon. We should box your whole line for lying to the consensus."

"Sharon, we're not going to do that," D'Anna said. She folded her arms. "The consensus has already spoken. We will wait and keep the truce until Sam finds the Eye of Jupiter. And then... we'll re-evaluate the situation."

There were no voices of dissent, even from Cavil, who nodded and closed the channel so he disappeared from the projection.

Caprica murmured in Sharon's ear, "God, do I hate him."

Sharon nodded her agreement, but saw that at least the other three baseships were staying at the edge of weapons range. The tense stand off continued for some time until they received a signal from Galactica.

"There are Centurions firing on our people on the surface," Adama growled. "That is not a truce."

"You killed our Raiders first," Natalie shot back.

D'anna lifted her free hand to quiet her and said to Adama, "We informed you of our intent. If you move your people out of the way, no one will get hurt."

"Pull them back," he ordered. "Or I'll nuke the whole planet. And nobody gets the Eye."

Sharon felt queasy at the threat. He'd do it too, if he felt he had no choice.

But D'Anna was less worried. "You're bluffing. You need the path to Earth more than we do. We can find it on our own. After all, we have unlimited time. You... do not."

Caprica shot a mutely shocked glance at D'Anna, who raised a hand to get her to stay quiet.

D'Anna continued, her tone hardening with warning, "But let's be realistic, Admiral -- you know if you nuke the planet, not only do you lose the Eye, and your people, and the path to Earth, you'll probably lose your ship, because I have four baseships now. We're being very patient while your people block our oracle from finding what God sent him to find, but do not take our patience for desperation. We don't need him as much as you do. If you want to invoke the wrath of your gods for killing one to whom they have granted their power, be my guest. Baseship out."

She pulled her hand from the datastream, looking pleased with herself. Sharon was far less happy with the threat, and very nervous by the report that Centurions were attacking the humans on the planet, since that meant the humans were shooting back.

"What are you doing?" Caprica demanded. "Saying they don't mean anything to us? That it's okay if he nukes my sister and the baby? That we don't need the Eye or Sam to find Earth? Of course we do."

"But do we?" D'Anna returned. "As One pointed out, the humans managed to find this place on their own. We know we're on the right path; we can find the next step ourselves."

"We would never have reached this place on our own, and we have no idea where to go next without something or someone to tell us!" Caprica retorted, folding her arms and glaring at D'Anna.

"And if my sisters hadn't forced Sam into giving us the path, I doubt we would've gotten this far." D'Anna calmed herself, forcing a small smile. "If God wishes us to continue, we will be shown the way. You should have more faith, sister."

"I don't lack for faith," Caprica returned stiffly. "But I doubt God will be overly generous with miracles if we carelessly lose the ones He gave us already."

Four interjected, "It would seem the situation is an impasse for both sides."

Natalie let out an irritated huff of breath. "Why is it a stalemate at all? A full Centurion squadron should be enough to slaughter that small group of humans and get into the Temple."

"Orders," Sharon answered. "Sam wouldn't want the Centurions to kill his own people - he just wants them to move out of the way. And it looks like the admiral figured that out, too," she added, with relief, noticing that the Galactica weapons batteries were still aimed at the baseships, not the surface. "He's letting the stalemate continue, too."

"This isn't going to work," Natalie observed tensely. "This can't last."

It didn't, but not for the reason any of them had expected.

Twenty minutes later, the Two reported with a frown, "The Hybrid is reporting strange radiological emissions from the local star."

"What? What does that mean?" Three asked.

He shook his head, hand in the datastream for a few minutes. "Its colors are... shifting. Something's happening."

Sharon shifted her own awareness to the data on the star. It really had changed, getting a strange corona around it.

"It's shrinking in diameter," Five added in astonishment. "It's smaller, but the core temperature is increasing. I think it's ... going nova."

"Right now?" Caprica stared at him. "It's going to go nova with us right here? That's impossible."

Three smiled. "It's God, Caprica. Don't you see? We have our sign."

'Yeah, it's a sign to get the hell away from here, right now," Five said. "When this star goes, this planet's going to fry."

"Launch a Heavy Raider, rescue our people," Caprica ordered.

"Galactica's launched two Raptors as well," Natalie said.

"We don't have time," Five insisted. "We need to get away from here. That star can explode any second."

Not surprisingly, One reappeared in the projection and said cheerfully, "Time to go! You have noticed the rather large stellar body about to go boom, right?"

"We can't leave them here," Caprica objected. "There's a Heavy Raider on the way to -- "

"There's a star about to shower this entire solar system with intense radiation, and a shock wave that'll likely obliterate this planet. Consensus here has already agreed to leave," he told her with a half-smirk.

"Then you go," Sharon said. "This baseship will stay and rescue our people."

"You mean rescue the human and the Six with the child," Cavil said, "because our people will resurrect just fine."

"Yes, we have to save the child," Natalie told him with narrowed eyes.

But they all saw that it was probably too late: the Vipers around Galactica darted down and destroyed the Heavy Raider in flight.

Sharon lifted her eyes and met Caprica's, which were dark with worry and fear. "Adama will rescue them," Sharon reassured her, praying it was true. "They won't kill Thea when they see she's pregnant. They'll realize she's a miracle, just like Hera. Sam will be with her. It'll be okay."

"See?" D'Anna told her, with a smug, bright expression of understanding. "Didn't I tell you that God would give us the path? It's time to go, my brothers and sisters. We don't need this place anymore."

Everyone stared at her in confusion. "What are you talking about?"

"Don't you see? The star is the Eye of Jupiter. And it's pointing to that stellar remnant - another nova from three thousand years ago, when the Thirteenth Tribe stopped here to pray for a sign," D'Anna explained, as if she had no doubts at all. "We need to go. Let the humans rescue their people, or not, it doesn't matter. We have the path. Ready for jump."

The Raptors headed for the surface, while the sun continued to heat up, preparing for its death.

Sharon watched both anxiously, praying the Raptors would get back to Galacica in time for it to jump clear, and praying Sam and Thea would be okay, then the baseship jumped and left them behind.

Ellen heard the step in the doorway and waited with outward patience for John to come in and tell her the news.

"Too bad you missed all the excitement at that Temple you named after yourselves."

Ellen looked up at John. "What? 'After ourselves'?" She frowned, wondering what he was complaining about now. "You mean the Temple of Five? It wasn't our choice to name it that. Pythia gave it that name long before we returned. It was called the Temple of Hopes in our history, because our ancestors stopped there to pray for guidance."

"But you did stop here on the way back." She nodded, but he already knew that. "How did you do it?" he demanded curiously. "Was it some sort of device? How did you know when to make the star explode?"

"What are you talking about? The star exploded? That's impossible. That was a yellow star. It should have a billion years worth of hydrogen--"

"It went boom." He gestured expansively then he leaned closer to her and murmured, "And Sam was on the surface, heading for the Temple."

She jerked her head up in alarm and glanced at the doorway, hoping and yet dreading to see him. Was he here now? Was he a prisoner, too?

John smiled, pleased to have gotten to her. "I'm sorry to disappoint you. He didn't arrive here, so he must be back on the human ship. But he wouldn't have been good company, anyway, since he's gone completely insane."

This wasn't the first time John had taken his perverse pleasure in telling her about Sam's troubles. "He's what you made him. You took away his true memories," she said. "But the mental block started to crack when you were torturing him. Now he senses there's something missing, but he can't access the memories. So of course, he's going a little mad."

John raised his eyebrows. "A little? According to the Fives, dear father Sam was hearing strange music leading him to the Temple. He refused to eat or sleep. He really believes that God is talking to him."

"You hurt him and locked him up alone for months. What did you expect?" she demanded, bitterness welling up. "You wanted to break him."

"I didn't expect it to work so easily," John replied. "In hindsight, letting the Threes use the neural amplifier was a mistake. It scrambled his brain and strengthened his delusion."

She felt a little ill, imagining how the Three had used it on him. If it hadn't been connected to the datastream, it could only have been a torture device, with the brain interpreting the neural signals as pain. She feared John was right. She remembered the angel on Earth, and Sam had seen one too, so she didn't doubt that God existed or that there were messengers. But everything she'd heard about Sam since New Caprica had nothing to do with the Sam she remembered -- her friend certainly hadn't believed he could see the future or was an oracle of God. More distressingly, he seemed to be getting worse from what she'd been told. Her fingers twisted in her lap with worry for him. Resurrection and restoring his memories would help, but if he was truly broken and delusional there was nothing they could do.

John mused aloud, in startling echo of her thoughts, "Maybe it would be better to have him killed and get him out of his misery..."

She straightened in alarm. "No!" Even if he was gone, better to be gone out there, than trapped in here with John. She loved Sam far too much to wish him here with her, even if she wanted other company.

Then John gave a sigh. "Sadly he's with the humans and out of our reach, now. But the good thing about his insanity is he's given me back the consensus, now that they see what a mistake it was to follow him. I have to wonder if there's some unconscious programming in them to do what "dad" tells them to do -- because really, I have no other explanation for their behavior the last few months."

"There's a part of us in all of you," she said, softly, knowing it wasn't going to work with John, but needing to try. "Your brothers and sisters can feel he loves them and he wants to help them, even if you tried to make him their enemy."

He chuckled. "Well, he certainly loved one of them quite a lot. Got her pregnant and everything. You told me that was impossible," he accused her.

"No, what I said was that it's only possible between individuals." She thought of the experiments that Barolay had told her about on Caprica -- baby farms trying to breed Cylons on humans with no understanding that their actions were preventing the thing they wanted. "And Tory didn't specifically block our DNA because the idea of getting a child on one of our children was unthinkable to us." She smiled thinly, recalling what John had made her do when she hadn't known the truth. He stared back, unrepentant. She went on, "But Sam doesn't remember she's his creation. He treats her as he would any other woman who saved him from the hell you put him in. In return, he's inspired her into enough emotional maturity that she became fertile, and now they're going to have a child. You reap what you sow, John."

He snorted. "Another "miracle baby". We're well rid of her, too, acting as a focus for religious hysteria in the Sixes, especially. Let the humans deal with it."

Ellen was glad that the Six and the baby had survived, but she wasn't sure it was a good thing they were going to be on the Galactica. She knew Bill, and Roslin and Saul -- oh especially Saul -- were going to be suspicious and hostile. But so long as they didn't kill her, and hopefully being Sam's child they wouldn't, that was the best she could hope for. There was nothing she could do about it.

She asked calmly, "So where are we going now?"

"Oh, you'll like this. The Threes apparently figured out that the nebula is the next marker on the path and we're going that way. I've tasked the Colony to move near to Earth, in case Sam sends the humans there, and a few more ships to meet us at the nebula. By then, the baby will be born and --" He smiled at her, with an edge to his smile that she recognized with a chill, "I'll bring it to see you, so you can coo over it. It'll be your grandkid, in a sense. Very precious I'm sure, especially to Sam."

Her breath threatened to choke in her throat, and the bloodied remains of Daniel flashed through her mind as a reminder of what John had done the last time he'd been jealous about one of the Five's offspring. "And then you'll kill her like you killed Galen's son?" she demanded.

"I didn't kill Galen's son," he retorted smugly.

"At your order, then," she corrected in disgust.

"Oh, you're talking about the baby at New Caprica!" he said in feigned surprise, and leaned nearer, smiling as if he was about to give her good gossip. "That baby was never Galen's. I tested it; it was all human. So. No need to get upset, Mother. It wasn't even a hybrid." He shrugged with a casual disregard for the innocent life he'd taken.

Sam and Thea's child would be a pure Cylon child, but that wouldn't spare her his jealousy either. She could only hope that Sam and the others would keep her away from him. She asked John calmly, "So what are you going to do about the humans?"

"It's been fun, but I think it's time we stomp out the human roaches once and for all, don't you? It's tempting to wait until they get to that burnt out cinder they're so desperate to find, just for the laugh, but I'm sure the Sixes and Eights'll whine about exterminating them, so I have to do it while the Threes are still high on their messianic quest." He rolled his eyes. "I miss the good old days when everybody was excited to get with the program and kill all the frakking humans."

He paused and when she said nothing, he taunted, "Nothing to say? Not going to plead for them? Tell me how wrong and horrible I am? How disappointed you are?"

She shook her head sadly. "You haven't learned anything, have you, John? If God had wanted the Colonials all dead, he wouldn't have sent the five of us two thousand light-years to save them."

John snorted. "I'm sure "god" thought you did a great job with that."

She couldn't disagree -- John was her failure. And she would stay here until she could correct her mistake by teaching him there was another way.

They met in the Hybrid's chamber, about the only place they could be sure of not being disturbed or overheard.

Sharon and Caprica had waited for others to come to them. The Two had been the first. Natalie approached Caprica, still uncertain about Sam but very certain in the path of individuality. The final surprise was one of the Fours coming up to Sharon to express his own faith, even in the face of many of his brothers' doubt. So the five of them gathered in the Hybrid's chamber, sitting in a circle by the wall, with the Hybrid's drone in the background of their conversation.

"If we're not careful, they're going to box us as defective," Simon said.

"It's not defective to make your own decisions," Natalie snapped.

He smiled faintly. "I know that. But I think many in our own models would disagree."

Sharon grumbled in disgust, thinking of her sister Eights. She could hold most of them by sheer force of will, but they didn't like conflict or being against the prevailing consensus. "I'll break the Eights, if they won't all come," she vowed.

"If you let them falter, then we lose the consensus," Leoben reminded her. "Or the Fours. The Sixes are already broken."

Sharon noticed sourly that he didn't point out that the Twos were the only ones united in their continuing support for the journey to Earth, becoming individuals, and Sam as their oracle.

"They weren't here," Caprica sighed. "They don't understand."

"The Ones never will," Natalie added. "And the Fives do nothing but whatever the Ones say."

"The Threes are the fulcrum," Simon said, "They think we can get to Earth without Sam. That we don't need him."

Natalie chuckled humorlessly. "Mad or not, he or the child are our only way to Earth. Anyone can see that. But the Ones don't want us to get to Earth. Or be people at all."

"And if the others don't listen?" Sharon asked. "What are we going to do? If they all turn against us, what can we do? There's just us."

For a moment there was silence, as they all looked at each other, feeling very alone.

"We need help," Caprica suggested. "Maybe we need to surrender to the Humans? Sam said Earth is for all of us, if we go to them, they can help us..."

None of them seemed very excited about the possibility. Sharon knew her sister was there and had been given a place on the ship, but she doubted a group of Cylons would be as well-treated. And if the Humans killed them all, they'd end up either dead for good or probably boxed, since she doubted the rest of the consensus would let them resurrect, after being traitors. It wasn't an option, at least not yet. "We need to handle our own problem," Sharon said. "If we run away, the others will screw it up worse, like they did showing up at the algae planet."

"There's one more thing we could try. We need numbers," Natalie suggested hesitantly. "If we can't depend on them to change of their own will, maybe we need to force it." Leoben's gaze cut to her, shocked, already knowing what she was going to say.

Sharon didn't though, and waited until Natalie said it, "We could remove the telencephalic inhibitor from the Centurions."

Simon stared at her. "I didn't realize Anders' insanity was communicable."

But Sharon nodded, thinking it through. "We want choice, right? We know what the Raider did when it had a choice -- it saved Sam. We know the Centurions are intelligent, even if they're not as evolved as we are. Can we demand choice for ourselves and still keep them enslaved to our will?"

Caprica and Leoben nodded in agreement, but Simon, as ever, was more attuned to the practicalities.

"And what's to prevent them from killing all of us?" Simon demanded. "We know what they did to the Humans fifty years ago."

"Yes. We do," Natalie agreed, now calm and fearless that she'd decided what they had to do. "Which is why we should do the right thing."

"I'm not saying we shouldn't," Simon protested. "But will they understand that we're trying to help? Will they understand that the humans aren't their enemy anymore? Or will they try to kill everyone out of vengeance?"

"That's why we should only take the risk when we need to," Caprica suggested. "Once it starts, there'll be no stopping it."

"Yes. Are we agreed?" Natalie asked and held out her hand to the middle of their small circle.

Caprica was the first to put her hand on top of Natalie's. "Agreed."

Sharon put her hand on top and squeezed both beneath hers. "Agreed."

Simon took a moment but then nodded. His big hand rested atop theirs. "Agreed."

Leoben was last and he smiled faintly. "So say we all."

In the silence that followed, Sharon heard the Hybrid's constant murmur falter as well, and then the Hybrid declared:

"The board is set; the players move the pieces. A shadow swallows the children in the green field. Time is the circle that curves back on itself, repeating, repeating, repeating. End of line. Dead stars. Dead worlds. Love births fire and the hope of new buds in the garden."

to Chapter One

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