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19 February 2014 @ 10:24 pm
Black Sails at Dawn 11/lots  
in this chapter, Kara finds out how much everything's changed...

Kara followed after Sam, keeping an eye on him as something familiar in all the strangeness. But she wasn't sure he really was familiar.

He claimed she'd been away for months, and while she had no memory of being gone that long, everything was strange enough it might actually be true. The inside of the basestar was like nothing she'd ever seen, stark and cold and bright, with Cylons everywhere. In the middle of it all, Sam was petting a Raider like it was a frakking dog and getting felt up by Centurions, while he ordered around skinjobs like this was something normal.

This was after he'd given a speech over the wireless about being one of the Final Five. A Cylon. A leader Cylon. It made her nauseous at the thought that she'd frakked a Cylon. A toaster. One of the same kind who'd kidnapped her on Caprica, who'd destroyed the Colonies, who'd made a frakking horror of New Caprica. He was one of them -- and here he was certainly acting like one of them.

Yet when she'd seen him on the deck that hadn't mattered at all. All she'd remembered was her horror at watching his ship head into the storms on the gas giant, as he tried to get himself killed.

They went into the control center, which was a larger open space with weird lighting and flowing water. There was another Six there, and a Simon. The look of him made her blood run cold remembering that horrible place on Caprica and how she'd put a shard of the mirror in his neck. There was also a Leoben there, and the second he noticed her, he stared in awe, with avid eyes as if he couldn't believe she was there. It made her shiver, and she decided to keep her distance from him.

There were also bodies and blood on the floor. Sam went to one of the bodies, a woman who Kara thought at first was a Three and then realized she was actually a Six but with light brown hair, not the more usual pale blonde. "Natalie," he murmured and shook his head, sadly, and glanced up at the two light-haired Sixes. "We need to get her back."

Then he stood and went to the nearest long console where some sort of liquid flowed through it.

"You can use it?" Sharon asked, curiously. "How do you know?"

"I used the data font on the virus-contaminated baseship," he answered absently. "To set it to self-destruct." He smiled a little wryly as he reached out. "It's nice to be able to do this openly."

Kara tensed as he put his hand in, not knowing what to expect. She didn't even know what it was, except that it seemed to be a control device of some sort, even though it was only… water.

But Sam slid his hand in, as the Six he called Caprica did, too. He shut his eyes and his shoulders snapped back, rigid and tense, as if he'd been poked with a sharp stick.

The Eight glanced at Kara and tried a smile. "I'm glad to see you again, Kara."

Kara looked back. "You're not Sharon," she said shortly. "Sharon's on the Galactica with Helo. So don't try it."

She seemed to flinch then admitted, "I'm not Sharon Agathon, I'm Sharon Valerii. Boomer. The first one you knew."

"You are?" Kara demanded. She didn't know quite why she felt so hostile, maybe the uncertainty of this strange place, but she didn't want to think of her former friend Sharon was this same girl in front of her. "How can I know that for sure?"

"You … can't, I guess," she admitted. "But I am."

"She is, Kara," Sam confirmed, though Kara was surprised he had heard. He stood there with his hand in the water, and his expression was intent and concentrating. His eyes flicked as if looking at something invisible.

"And how do you know that?"

"I've always been able to tell them apart."

It wasn't all that reassuring to know he could tell Cylons apart, because… how could he? They were identical. So it had to be some Cylon sense, and that was disturbing.

He lifted his head as if hearing something, and said aloud, "Galactica, this is Sam Anders aboard the baseship. The survivors have surrendered themselves to me. On their behalf, I'm asking to meet with President Roslin and discuss allying against our common enemy."

Kara wasn't the only one who gaped at that. Allies? "Are you out of your frakking mind?"

He ignored her and answered some unheard comment from the Galactica, "The Ones and their faction are your enemies, Admiral. These Cylons are not. A great many of them may have just died permanently to prove their intentions."

He listened and said, "Understood, Admiral. Two hours." Pulling his hand out of the liquid, he glanced around and then wiped his hand on his pants. "That was easier than I expected. Last time it was like goo." Then he inhaled a deep breath and glanced at the Cylons. "In two hours, we present our case for why we need to be allies with the Colonial Fleet."

"Never going to happen," Kara declared.

"We have to try," Sam said. "You said you had the way to Earth?"

"I…" she paused, half-hoping that had faded, but it hadn't: the feeling still pulsed within, a strange tugging as if she jumped into space it would sweep her like a wind right to Earth. "I do. Not that I know coordinates, or anything like that, but I can… feel it."

He grinned, sudden and brilliant, and she felt her mood lift in answer. It had been so long since she'd seen that bright, pleased smile. "I know how that is."

"I bet."

The grin faded, as he went serious again. "I don't for one minute believe your coming back with this knowledge right now is an accident. You were dead, Kara. I saw it with my own eyes."

"Then…" she swallowed, glanced around the strange confines of the room and licked her lips. It didn't feel familiar, not the way the call of Earth did, but who the frak knew? It wasn't as if she hadn't had Cylons in her dreams for a year and more. "Maybe I'm a Cylon."

The other Cylons looked at her, eyes widening in sudden shock.

But not Sam. "No, you're not," he answered with reassuring but curious promptness. "I know who the other four are."

"And those are the only Cylons ever?" she demanded. "You can't be sure of that."

He was smiling when he shook his head at her. "Do you want to be one? Because Sharon and I can tell you that self-doubt and hate are really not much fun."

And even though he seemed amused, she knew he wasn't, not really; his eyes were serious and dark, and he meant it. He seemed fairly well adjusted to the truth now, but that didn't mean he hadn't suffered from it.

"Apparently everyone's doing it these days," she muttered and looked away. So maybe she wasn't a Cylon. But it didn't solve anything, not really. If she wasn't a Cylon, what was she? She couldn't have died; that was ridiculous, since she was right there. Sam had to be wrong about that. Something had happened, but she hadn't died.

"Starbuck has a good point," the Three said, "The humans hate us. They'll never allow us to go with them to Earth. Or ally against the Ones. They will want to leave us to face our brothers alone and die."

"We need to explain that when the Ones destroy us, there's nothing to stop them from destroying the humans," Caprica said. "We've been trying to protect them."

"Doing a pretty crappy job of that," Kara retorted.

Caprica raised her head, looking a little offended. "Sharon and I meant to help on New Caprica. We truly meant well… then the others," she glared at the Three, "took over and made it awful."

"I don't think saying it's someone else's fault is going to help much," Kara said.

"When we sent food, that was a gesture of our good will," Sharon said. "Maybe we need something else like that."

They all stared around, wondering, looking finally at Sam to come up with some idea. But he shrugged uncomfortably when he realized they were waiting for him to speak. "I hold the Raiders. You surrendered to me. Maybe that's enough."

"Your control on the Raiders won't last," Simon said. "The Ones will strip the Raiders bare to force them to follow commands."

"Frakker," Sam muttered, glaring balefully. "We need to take him out. All of them. That would solve eighty percent of our problem, right there."

"We'd have to stop them from resurrecting," Caprica said, frowning with the difficulty of the plan.

Kara wanted to snort and shake her head, sourly amused by the Cylons discovery of the strategic disadvantage to having enemies that can't die. Yeah, welcome to my life.

"What about the resurrection ships?" Sharon suggested. "We could destroy the ones in range."

The Three moved and opened her mouth to speak, but then stopped as if she reconsidered. She glared at her sisters as if to quell any objection, "It would be dangerous for us, but perhaps it would be a gesture to the humans. We could offer the resurrection ships to the humans in exchange for Earth."

"Hey, I'm the one who knows where Earth is," Kara said, annoyed by how she seemed to assume this was a done deal.

"But you'll give it to the humans," Caprica told her. "We know that. But it's our destiny, too."

"Unless she doesn't go back to them," the Three said, threatening. Kara put a hand on her sidearm, for the first time tempted to draw it and get the hell out of there.

Sam caught the threat, too. "D'Anna."

That was all he had to say for her to twitch as if he'd smacked her, and she bowed her head in regret.

Kara glared at her. Some of them hadn't changed all that much, obviously.

"Kara, maybe you should return to Galactica," Sam suggested and his mouth twisted in a grimace. "You'll be tainted by association already, but it'll be better if you're not with us. And I'm sure they'll be more excited to see you if I'm not there."

And it would be safer for her away from the baseship, which he didn't say. She didn't think he'd lose his leadership role over them, but he was obviously worried he could when she was a tempting target. She nodded. "All right. I'll see you soon."

"Sharon, would you see Kara back to her Viper?" he requested.

Even as Sharon agreed, Kara met his eyes, feeling suddenly as if that closeness she'd felt on the deck had evaporated. He was a Cylon, doing creepy Cylon things like sticking his hand in water to control a computer. But watching him do it also had seemed vaguely familiar. And when she turned and walked away, putting more distance between them, the feeling in her bones seemed to tug at her to return. To help Cylons. It made her want to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

In the corridor, she muttered, "This place messes with your head."

"It does," Sharon agreed with a fleeting smile. They headed through the identical corridors, broken only by side chambers, a lift, and the occasional Cylon cleaning up the damage. But then the corridor widened out and she was back in the docking bay, with Sam's weird pet Raider resting not far from the hatch with its sensors passing idly back and forth. It didn't react when it saw her and Sharon, but she wondered if it was disappointed Sam hadn't come with her.

Her Viper and Sam's sat like shiny birds in the middle of a strange land. Seeing them both, she realized that hers was far brighter. It looked clean. Perfect. Her stomach clenched up as she approached it. It wasn't hers. It was marked as hers, and it had the correct number on the tail, but it wasn't the one she'd been flying in last.

"This… doesn't make any sense," she murmured. "It looks new."

"It does," Sharon agreed, running a hand along the unmarked fuselage. "Strange."

Kara shook her head. "I'm not flying back in that. It's going to be hard enough to swallow I'm back, if everyone believes I died, without that." She grabbed her helmet from where she'd left it on the wing, and headed for Sam's Viper instead. It wasn't actually his, marked for Raygun which told her at least that Sam hadn't been in a bird consistently since last she'd seen him. At least the Viper looked normal. She climbed up the lower wing and into the cockpit, tossing his helmet down to Sharon. "Here, make sure Sam keeps this."

Sharon grabbed it and called up to her, "Tell my sister I said hello. And if you think it'll help, let the others know I'm here, and I support Sam and all he's trying to do."

Right, because support from the Cylon who'd shot the Admiral was going to help. But Kara said nothing, just waved in acknowledgment and started her pre-flight checklist.

Soon she was on her way, rocketing out of the Cylon docking bay. There were Raiders at a protective distance, guarding the baseship, but they didn't bother her as she headed for the human fleet which stretched out in the light of the stars. "Galactica, Starbuck, returning to the barn."

The deck had been cleared for her arrival, with only a squad of marines, Chief, Helo, Lee, Athena, and Adama there. Chief came up to her, pushing the ladder into place. He looked at her for a long moment as she took off her helmet. "Welcome back, Captain."

"Thanks, Chief. I … don't feel like I've been away, but Sam told me I was."

"He didn't come back with you?" Chief asked.

"He's … getting them ready," she answered with a shrug and handed him the helmet to hang onto as she climbed out and headed down the ladder to confront the group.

Athena looked the wariest while Lee hurried forward. "You're alive!" he grabbed her into a hug - at first tentative, as if he wasn't sure she was solid, and then tighter. She hugged him back, at first relieved by his same-ness, and then she pulled back realizing he was in a civilian suit. "What's up with the monkey suit, Lee?"

"I left," he explained shortly, with a glance at his father, who took that as his cue, and stepped forward.


"Sir." She faced him and couldn't contain her excitement, bubbling again through her body, "I've been to Earth! I can take us there."

Nobody's face seemed thrilled by the news, although only Sharon seemed openly wary. "Good news, if true," the Admiral said. "But I have to ask how."

"I was there, I saw it," she told him and grinned. "It's so beautiful."

"You were dead, Kara," Helo said. "Your Viper blew up. And now you're back at the same moment the Cylons attack us with some sort of mystery weapon, and Anders says he's been a Cylon all along, and here you are… it's all a little hard to swallow." He said it with regret as if he wanted to believe her. "Are you a Cylon, too?"

"No!" she protested. "I'm me. I'm… just me. I don't know why you all think I died, but I didn't." Then she repeated because they didn't seem to be grasping the important part. "I've been to Earth! I can take us there - I feel it." She put a hand to her chest, thought that wasn't exactly where the feeling was coming from. "It's inside. I know the way. Please, sir, this can save us…" She looked to the admiral, knowing he was the one she had to convince.

"Isn't that how Anders found the algae planet for the Cylons?" Lee asked.

Which was true, but he was making it sound like she was a Cylon and this was some sort of trap, when she knew it wasn't. Damn Sam for coming into the open right when she needed people to believe her the most.

"He also told me I'm not a Cylon!" she snapped. "He can feel them or something and I'm not. But yes, I guess it's the same sort of gods-given feeling, pulling me. Us. To Earth." She could see it in her mind, as if through the canopy of her Viper -- a sphere of blue and green and white, and beneath the clouds, seas and cities. "Look, I remember it, it's beautiful and we have to go there. I have proof!" She'd been in her Viper, it would have the recordings on her gun cameras… which were on the Viper she'd left on the baseship.

"Proof?" Adama asked.

"My gun cameras," she answered, realizing she'd made a mistake. "On my Viper."

They all turned to look at her Viper, and she shook her head. "This one's Sam's, though. I took his to come back, I didn't think it would matter. Frak."

"So the Cylons have your Viper and any proof of Earth?" Adama asked, and even though his tone was calm, she knew what he was thinking.

"I didn't mean to!" she protested.

Adama turned to Helo. "You and Athena take her to sickbay and have Doctor Cottle do a full examination. Let's make sure we eliminate any easy trickery. Watch her."

"Yes, sir," Helo agreed.

"We'll meet later," the admiral assured Kara then ordered, "Chief, look over the Viper, make sure there are no surprises. Apollo, with me."

Lee smiled at her. "I'm glad you're back." Then he followed his father out.

Helo looked at her and shook his head, lips quirked in rueful amusement. "I should've known."

"Anders is the one who said you were dead in the first place," Sharon pointed out. "He's the only one who saw it happen. Maybe he was lying about that."

Helo glanced at her in surprise. "He wasn't; you know he believed it." He glanced back at Kara. "He took it hard."

"He's… one of the Final Five," Sharon murmured, and shook her head. "I didn't even think they were real."

"Yeah, what are they, anyway?" Tyrol asked, moving closer, looking to Sharon curiously.

"Didn’t you hear what he said?" Helo asked in surprise. "His transmission was reported on all wireless frequencies, even all-hands; Gaeta's trying to chase that down."

"Yeah, I heard, everyone heard," Tyrol answered. "But what does it mean?" he asked Sharon.

She shrugged, for a moment looking profoundly uncomfortable. "I don't know any more than you do, Chief. Just that we're not supposed to think about them. Funny, Sam asked me the same question on Caprica. I didn't know he was testing me, seeing if his cover would hold." She shook her head and fingered her sidearm.

"He told me he knew on Caprica, but he didn't believe it," Kara explained. "And there's a lot he still doesn't know. He wasn't playing you, Sharon; he was trying to understand."

"Well, he'll be here soon enough," Helo said. "He can answer for himself. But in the meantime, we have to go to Cottle."

In sickbay, a nervous Ishay took a blood sample, while a more relaxed Cottle gave her a frown. "Good to see you're not dead."

"Me, too," she answered with a quick smile. "I think it was a mistake."

He checked her thoroughly, including noting her scars that were all the same and then x-rays to check her bones and teeth.

"Okay, we're done," Cottle announced. "I have to examine all the results."

"I'm telling you, it's me," she insisted, but Cottle only grunted.

Kara forced herself not to snap back, knowing he was doing his job and she shouldn't blame everyone for being suspicious, since they'd thought she was dead. Then she had the bad luck to show up exactly at the same time as the Cylons and when Sam had decided it was the perfect moment to mention he was a Cylon, too. She heaved a short annoyed sigh and put herself back in her clothes to go find her minders.

Helo and Athena were gone, but Gunny Mathias was there, grim and resolute, and backed up by four of her people. "Captain, I'm to escort you to the conference room."

They surrounded her, as if she was some kind of dangerous animal, and though she understood it, it was still annoying. At least they weren't hand-cuffing her or putting her in one of those heavy restraints like Sharon had been forced to wear early on.

In the conference room, Kara sat in the lonely chair in the middle of the floor facing the long table, as if she was on trial. There was no one else there for what felt like days but was only about twenty minutes of staring at the blank gray walls and the equally blank marine guards.

She daydreamed idly about rising up and punching them all the face just to see what they'd do, but otherwise waited as patiently as she could.

Then the others filtered in: President Roslin, who looked wan, on the admiral's arm, Tory Foster at her other side, Sharon, and Lee. He smiled at her even if everyone else looked grim. She smiled back, grateful for someone being friendly, even if he did look bizarre - handsome but bizarre - in the civilian suit jacket.

Then Doctor Cottle came in. He saw them all gathered and went straight to Roslin and the Admiral, slapping down a folder. "Here are all the test results, but to summarize -- that is Kara Thrace. To the best of my knowledge she is exactly the same person down to her bones."

Roslin fingered the file folder. "And not a Cylon copy?"

"Unless the Cylons can duplicate childhood healed bone injuries in an adult?" he retorted. "Something I've seen no evidence of, I'd say definitely not a Cylon copy."

Kara let out a breath, a little relieved in spite of herself.

The Admiral dismissed Cottle and the marines, and then folded his hands to regard Kara. "Which leaves us with the other Cylon problem. They're coming here, in an hour, to talk an alliance."

"Something clearly impossible," Roslin said, "And so what I want to know, Captain, is what are they planning? Why would they even try this?"

She licked her lips. "Because they want Earth, Madam President. Because they want to live; and they think the others are going to kill them."

"Well, they can't have Earth and I don't care if they die. Problem solved," Roslin said, and waited for Kara's response.

Kara knew it was a test and she gnawed at her lip to figure out what to say.

In the break, Tory said diffidently, "But if they're rebels… if they're like Lieutenant Agathon…"

Sharon stiffened and seemed about to disclaim all knowledge, so Kara interjected, "Boomer's over there. She said to tell you, Admiral, and Athena, that she follows Sam. They surrendered to him, sir. They went to war against their own kind when they realized what he is. And all Sam wants is peace."

"You believe that?" the Admiral asked. "Even though he lied to all of us? And he's a Cylon himself?"

"That reaction is exactly why he couldn't have said anything, sir," Tory said, drawing an astonished look from Roslin. "Thea's still in a cell, and all she did was have a baby and save the life of one of your officers. So what was he supposed to do -- admit what he was and end up in a cell with her?"

"Yes, Ms Foster, that's exactly what he should've done," Lee said sharply, "and take the consequences. The Cylons exterminated almost all of humanity; and one of them who lied about what she was nearly murdered the Admiral because she couldn't control herself. So we don't trust them." He glanced at Sharon and amended his statement grudgingly, "Until they prove themselves."

Tory returned his look, very calm, but with a tight jaw and glaring dark eyes, as she retorted, "If he'd turned himself in and you'd put him in a cell, we'd all be dead, Mister Adama."

Kara didn't know Tory all that well, but clearly not even the last two months were enough to explain how she was suddenly so outspoken. It didn't hurt that she was right; and Kara was glad to find an ally in the room, even a surprising one. Earth was out there, they had to go there, and they were wasting time on these issues which, to her mind, weren't important.

Sharon inhaled a deep breath, attracting their attention, and squared her shoulders, as if she didn't want to speak but felt she had no choice. "He's one of the Final Five, Admiral," Sharon offered quietly, looking down at her hands that were folded together on the top of the table. "While I don't know much about them, I can confirm for you they were not involved in the attacks on the Colonies. None of us knew who they were, or that they existed as more than myths. And he said - " she had to pause to draw an unsteady breath, "he said he was resurrected to bridge our peoples. 'Resurrected' must mean he had another life before. But the real question is, resurrected from what? And by whom?"

Roslin said, now looking uncertain, "He told me he remembered Kobol." Her fingers trembled, on the folder.

Kara nodded, remembering that, too. She leaned forward to press her advantage, "I think we need to hear them out, sir. Madam President. That I came back at the very same time this went down, it's not a coincidence. It can't be. And if it's not a Cylon trick, then… it has to be something else."

The admiral took off his glasses, rubbed at the bridge of his nose, and then put them back. "How did you come back, Starbuck? What happened?"

"I was in my Viper at the gas giant. Sam was trying to get himself killed… so I stopped him. Then…" she remembered the dream or whatever it had been with her mother and that non-Leoben, but she figured that was probably best not to mention, so she skipped forward in the story, "There was a white flash. I must've lost consciousness for a little while because I woke up and I was in the cockpit above Earth. I saw it and I knew what it was. And then, the next thing I remember I was back in the gas giant - or at least that's what I thought it was. I pulled out of the gas into space to find the Fleet and the Cylons engaging not far away."

"That's it?" Lee asked. "You were gone for more than two months! Where did you go?"

"I … " She looked at him and hated that the only answer she had was a shrug. "That's all. As far as I know I was only gone for a few hours. Six, tops. Not days, and sure as hell not months."

No one seemed to have answer for that for a short silent pause. Kara cast in her mind, trying to come up with something, an explanation that would account for what she knew to be true with the apparent actual fact that she'd been gone for two months in a ship with nowhere near that much air, food, or water. Which didn't even count that it wasn't her ship, which nobody here knew yet.

"Maybe no time passed for you," Lee suggested hesitantly. "Some sort of wormhole with relativistic effects…"

She seized on it eagerly. "Yes, maybe something like that. I mean, I know it wasn't an accident; it couldn't have been, because I still feel it. It's a feeling - this need to go there. I've been there, I have to find it again. We should go as soon as we can."

"Yes, well, we'll have to see about that," Roslin said, slowly, her face creased with doubt.

"But -" Kara objected.

The Admiral lifted a hand. "Starbuck. We have Cylons on our doorstep who want to talk to us. First things first."

Kara subsided reluctantly, knowing he was right, but it was hard when every instinct still seemed to tug at her to get moving.

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.
noybusiness: AndersGoldnoybusiness on February 20th, 2014 02:49 pm (UTC)
Good stuff!
lizardbeth: Anders-Thealizardbeth_j on February 20th, 2014 06:52 pm (UTC)
thanks! AU of Season Four incoming... ;)