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10 January 2014 @ 02:15 pm
Hail of Shadows, 7  

One evening, in Sam's apartment, they were making out, when a sudden loud beeping sound made him stop. "No, no, no stopping now," she tried to pull his mouth back to hers, "Ignore them."

But it beeped again and he pulled away.

"What is it?" she asked, as he hurried over to the computer terminal.

"That's the alarm I set for a particular keyword combination," he answered absently, sitting in his chair and activating the screen. "Hopefully it's a false alarm."

"For what?"

"The war." A few touches of the flat screen input system and both screens on the desk blinked to life.

At first it was chaotic -- one screen was showing some sort of live feed from a place called Evinar, which she eventually gathered was in Piscia. And something terrible had happened there.

The other screen showed a low-quality video on a loop, of a squad of Centurions marching down a street, shooting everything that moved, including the camera operator before the loop began again.

Once they lost the images and all of it clicked over to a blank screen with a governmental seal. "Frakkers, no, they're not blocking this," he muttered and put his hand flat on the table. His face went blank but his eyes moved as if he was seeing something - meanwhile, on one of the screen, raw code streamed like a river.

She watched, stunned and uneasy. It wasn't something she'd seen him do before, but it was pretty clear what he was doing: he was hacking the system mentally ... through a physical interface connecting him to the computer directly. She vaguely knew of similar things in the Colonies, before the first Cylon War, but this felt more Cylon.

But then a new video feed, now from a foreign newscast, appeared on the other screen distracting her. Sam lifted his hand away to watch.

All too soon, the computer seemed unimportant. As the story unfolded, she at first stayed behind him, hands on his shoulders, but as he sat there and stared in horrified silence, she sat on his lap and took his hand in hers.

The news report, from Piscia, finally summed it up, the reporter's face bleak. "Evinar has fallen. We can get no confirmation of the numbers of the dead, but as the attack came with little warning, the entire population had no time to evacuate. The entire city is ... gone -- men, women and children. We have some video, taken by remote craft." She swallowed hard and said, with difficulty, "The footage is... graphic."

Buildings were toppled and smashed like toys, bodies lay crumpled on the street, fires raged uncontrollably sending up dark smoke that obscured the images, but not enough to hide the shiny metal forms of the Centurions everywhere.

"Oh gods," Kara whispered. It was like seeing the Centurions come into New Caprica, except worse, because she saw no one alive to watch them. One body moved and a Centurion shot him.

The video was less than a minute long, and then it stopped abruptly, freezing on an image of six Centurions in the street.

For what felt like a very long time, there was quiet.

"Eighty thousand people lived in Evinar," Sam murmured in a faint voice that drew her attention from the screen. His fingers were limp and like ice in hers. "I was born there."

She caressed his face, wiping away the tears slipping silently down his cheeks. "I'm so sorry, baby."

But he didn't seem to hear her, staring at the screens. "They're all dead. The Centurions and the Airbirds killed them, on orders of High Command. They had orders, so they slaughtered everyone."

He was trembling beneath her, as if an earthquake was occurring inside him, threatening to pull him apart.

"I ... I have to do something," he said and lurched to his feet, dumping her from his lap as if she wasn't there. "I need to stop this. I -- I have to stop this."

"How the hell can you stop any of it?"

He didn't pause for her question, or his shoes or a jacket; he headed straight for the door.

"Where are you going?" she demanded and hurried after. "Sam. Wait!"

Then, remembering she was a frakking intangible being, despite the tangibility she'd been enjoying with him not long ago, she willed herself to his side, out on the sidewalk.

"Stop!" she told him. "What are you doing?"

"I'm going to stop them." His blue eyes were fever bright, as he promised, "I will stop them. No more dying. This has to end."

He brushed past her, and she followed, soon realizing he was going to his lab.

The streets were quiet, under curfew since it was after midnight, but the patrol she saw missed him.

He reached the tower and accessed a side door with his palm. She hoped security would come running to stop him, but the corridors were deserted. The lights came up automatically for him as he hurried.

"Sam, don't do this. Whatever you're going to do, don't do it," she warned. "Think it through."

He whirled to face her, desperation shining in his face. "I could've stopped this weeks ago," he grabbed her shoulders. "I hesitated then. I won't hesitate anymore. I'm going to do what I should've done a month ago when I figured it out -- I'm going to give them choice."

He let her go and started down the corridor again.


And she realized the terrible truth.

It was Sam. He already knew how to make the Centurions self-aware. Just as they had done on the Colonies to start the First Cylon War.

She leaped after him and grabbed his arm, swinging him back around to face her. "No, don't do it, it's going to make things worse!"

"Eighty thousand people are dead. Piscia will retaliate. There is no worse," he spat at her in fury and shoved her off.

She stayed frozen, shaking her head in desperate denial. He was going to do it, and she couldn't stop him. But maybe he was right; how could it be worse than the war they already had? And maybe, like in the Colonies, the Cylon war would reunite the squabbling humans.

Leoben appeared next to her and let out a soft sigh. "Again and again, he takes the wrong path."

"Wrong path?" she repeated numbly, wishing she didn't feel so helpless. "How can you say it's wrong? He just watched his home city obliterated. He's not even trying to avenge that. He's trying to stop it, by giving the Centurions a way to say no to killing."

"But they won't. Because they know nothing except hate and death. Eighty thousand is only the beginning."

She shut her eyes, imagining it happening. Again. She'd walked through fallen Caprica; seen the broken and deserted Delphi streets. Sam had told her the Centurions had gathered and buried the dead. He'd had nightmares about being buried in those pits.

"Why are you showing me this?" she whispered.

"Because you have to understand that he is wrong He has always been wrong. Creating life artificially and avoiding death are wrong, and a sin against God, and it is always punished. The Colonies died of it, and Earth died of it; and the forty thousand remaining humans may yet die of it unless you and he undo what you have done."

"Me? What did I do?"

"You help him. Come; it's time for you to see."

He held out a hand and she shook her head in refusal, not wanting to see what new horror he was going to show her.

Instead she turned away and ran.

In an eye blink she was elsewhere, and her footsteps faltered. She looked around, realizing she had ended up inside a temple. It was a beautiful place and instantly soothed her with its soft light and the high vaulted roof. There was a painting above, a starry sky that brightened with the dawn, all above a dark sapphire and pearl sea. There were high windows, an altar, and many flowers with a scent that somehow reminded her of her father playing piano.

"Well, this is interesting. And a little awkward," a woman's voice said in dry amusement. "Hello, Kara."

Kara turned to find… herself. It wasn't exactly her .. The woman facing her had longer hair than Kara had worn in many years, but everything else about her, down to the dog tags hanging in front of her military tanks, was the same.

"Who the hell are you?" Kara demanded, and her stomach seemed to flip and knot, because she knew. A Cylon. This was a copy.

The other Kara smiled and sauntered closer. "I'm you. Or you're me. Depending on how you want to look at it. I hope you realize I had to leave him to come back here, and you know he'll try something stupid without us."

"What the hell are you? Why do you look like me? Am I … am I a Cylon?"

The other Kara burst into laughter. "Oh, Kara, you are so much more than that. 'A Cylon'," she repeated and laughed again. "You don't even know what that is."

Kara stiffened, offended. "Of course I do."

"No, you don't. But at least you're beginning to understand, and that was why I brought you here."

"So you brought me here; Leoben said I brought myself."

"You did. I am you, you are me; we are one, Kara. But you have to accept that before we can continue with what we must do."

"I'm not you; I don't even know what you are!"

The other Kara rolled her eyes. "You really are intentionally obtuse; open your mind, Kara. This is not all who you are. It's time to leave behind Kara Starbuck Thrace, galactic frak up, and embrace all of who you are. This place… is yours. And the sooner you realize that, the sooner you can go back and save them."

"Save who?"

"The Fleet?" she raised her brows. "You know, those forty-three thousand humans who are looking for a new home? We're going to save them, Kara, but only if you let us. Do you want to save them?"

"Of course, but I don't understand…" But looking around she was starting to feel that maybe, just maybe, she did. Her place - the apparition had said - this was her place.

It was the same temple she'd been outside before, she realized, the one with the priestess Sam had talked with. Her eyes met the identical eyes across the altar and it was like looking in a mirror.

"Yes," she answered the silent question. "I helped him. Them. All of them. Trying to avert what would come," she added sadly. "But that won't happen, not here. It's too late. The best I could do was make them wait until resurrection was rediscovered so they'll have another chance."

Kara swallowed and she suddenly knew. It felt as if she'd always known. "You're Aurora."

Aurora nodded her head and then grinned. "And so are you."

"That doesn't make any sense; we're obviously two different people." She reached out a hand, and Aurora mirrored the gesture perfectly. Whatever Kara did, Aurora did also, except with a mocking smile.

"You are a pain in the ass," Kara declared in disgust.

Aurora grinned unrepentantly. "Of course. I'm you. You're my reflection. Or at least you were. Now? We're the same." The grin faded and her eyes grew serious. "He needs us."

Kara knew who she was talking about but stubbornly shook her head. "He doesn't need me. He has Thea and Iris; and even if he wants me, I don't want to destroy that little girl just because I can. I … I know what that's like."

Aurora moved away from her mirroring position across the altar, making the candles in their tall stands come alight as she passed. "I've done what I can to help, but the rest of his path is barred to me. But if I send you back, you can lead them to where they must go."

"Where?" she asked.

"Here, of course. They want to hide the truth from him; but I want him to remember it all. But I can only give it to him here in our place."

Aurora turned around abruptly to look Kara in the eyes, her own burning intensely with a deep passion. "Will you do this, Kara? I fear sending you back is the only way we can save them."

"All right," Kara started and then frowned. "What's the catch?"

"You won't remember, either. It's … not an easy thing." Her lips quirked. "Ask Sam about being an oracle. I don't think he finds it easy."

"This is ridiculous," Kara protested. "I'm not you; I can't be."

"You were born to try to save them, Kara," Aurora told her. "I did that. I put a part of me into you. I made you my mortal reflection, so that you could be here, in this time, in this place, to take up this destiny. But … it's your choice. I can't force you to walk this path."

"Say I do it, then what?"

"You guide them here - all of them. Then, eventually, they will find their home. And, with a little luck, Elysium will open, and the universe will be restored. I … have big plans," she added with a grin.

Kara hesitated, still unsure, and then Aurora said with a glance to the far wall, her gaze distant. "It's begun. The AI code has uploaded to the Centurions. The war has now become inevitable. They will die, Kara. Not just this world, but everyone, all the people everywhere, including the handful of your Colonial Fleet. They will all become extinct for eternity, unless you do this."

"Okay, but … Sam …" she objected, imagining how horrible his guilt was going to be when his Centurions started slaughtering everyone. "This is going to kill him."

"Yes," Aurora agreed sadly. "Yes, it will. But he will resurrect to have one last chance, Kara. And that's the one you must save. I'll look after him until then, I promise."

"All right, do it." Kara raised her chin and faced Aurora boldly. She still didn't entirely understand, but she knew enough to know this was right. "Send me back."

Aurora put her hands gently on either side of Kara's face and turned her to the east and approaching dawn. "Face the light, Kara, and it will take you back."

The light grew in those eastern windows lighting the colored glass, brightening and shining above in the dome, strengthening until Kara stood bathed in the glare of the focused light. It seemed to be stripping her away, wrapping her up, surrounding her, until all she could see was that brilliance. The brightest part was in front of her and she knew that she had to take that final step herself, to walk into it of her own will.

To save them, she would do what she had to do. No matter what.

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.