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26 February 2014 @ 11:18 pm
Black Sails at Dawn 12/somany  

On the baseship, Sharon swallowed back her amazement that this had happened. They'd won -- not the war, but they'd won a battle. The rebel Cylons had won against Cavil and his minions, and they'd found one of the Five, who had been under their nose the whole time. She wondered how they hadn't figured it out, and caught herself smiling at the memory of Sam's time with them before. A Raider had all but glued itself to his side that day and somehow they'd all decided that was perfectly normal thing for a human.

He'd known the whole time. Even without understanding, and while learning about them as they'd learned him, he'd started to shift them into something new. And the Ones had fought him every step of the way.

"They know, don't they?" Sharon blurted. Her sister Vera and the others frowned at her, not understanding. "They've always been afraid of you."

"Who?" Simon asked.

But D'Anna glance at Sam and then nodded slowly, in agreement. "Yes. I think you're right. The Ones know the identities of the Five. They've always known more than us."

"So why not kill Sam? If he was such a threat?" Sharon persisted. "I mean kill for real, not as a ploy."

"Great, thanks, Sharon," he muttered dryly.

"Because even my brother fears offending God," Leoben answered.

"No, the Ones don't fear God," Simon corrected. "They believe in no god. Isn't that their main flaw?"

D'Anna snorted. "Among many. But I think what they feared is that Sam would rise again, in full power and memory."

Sam shook his head. "If you've seen proof I resurrect, I'll hear it, but he told me he was stashing me away as a card to play later. Can't play a card if you throw it away." He made a face, making light of it, but added, turning away to hide a suddenly pale face, "And he wanted to make me suffer."

Caprica put a hand on his arm and squeezed gently, murmuring, and he turned to her, suddenly stopping as if for a moment he'd expected Thea instead.

That seemed to remind him of his priorities, and he faced them again. "So these resurrection ships… how many do we have to destroy to put a dent in his ability to resurrect?"

D'Anna smiled with a zealous gleam in her eyes. "Not resurrection ships. I didn't want to mention it in front of Starbuck, without a consensus on what to do, but a better idea is to destroy the Hub."

The Sixes stared at her in shock, Sharon and Sam both frowned in confusion, with no idea what she was talking about. She often ran into these odd empty spots in her knowledge, as if her undercover identity and lack of knowledge had permanently altered what she knew, even though resurrection had restored much of it.

"The Hub?" Sam repeated blankly. "What's that?"

Caprica shook her head, and folded her arms, looking cold. "The Hub is the central … processor for resurrection. We can't resurrect without it."

"Where is it?" Sharon asked.

"We don't know," D'Anna said. "It's a ship. It moves frequently, and its location is secret. But if we destroy it, we become mortal. All of us." She glanced at Sam. "That would demonstrate our sincerity."

"The Ones and Fives, and everyone who split, too?" Sharon asked.

"All of us," Leoben confirmed. "Forever. I believe it is heavily defended. We would need help from Galactica."

Sam frowned, looking deeply disturbed by this new revelation. But Sharon thought it was a good - if frightening - idea. Destroy the Hub and become mortal was the biggest gesture of their sincerity Sharon could imagine offering to the humans. But even more importantly, it was a strategic victory that Adama would be a fool not to do, and Adama was no fool.

Caprica looked at D'Anna with big eyes, impressed, "When you change sides, you go all in, don't you?"

D'Anna answered, "We have to atone for our sins. Didn't you say that, back in the Colonies, Caprica? What better way to atone than to become what we harmed?"

Her words seemed to fall like a stone in the room, leaving silence behind it.

"This is a decision we can't make lightly," Simon said, after a moment. "It alters who we are."

"For the better," Caprica insisted.

"Perhaps, but we shouldn't rush into it in a blind fervor either."

"Well, this is all very exciting," Sam said, "But if you don't know where it is, does it matter?"

For a moment silence fell, and all the Cylons looked at each other in dismay and disappointment, except for Leoben, who said quietly, "The Hybrid will listen to you. She can find it for you."

Sharon remembered Sam's screaming when the Hybrid had held him in her datastream, and by his sudden pallor, he was remembering worse. He looked about to vomit but nodded. "Maybe. I can try. But first I want to make sure you understand," he said. "If we destroy the Hub, all the Cylons become mortal." He swallowed. "And if you're right, and your souls don't move on, that's it. One life."
"Children," Caprica said. "Isn't that the way humans continue? That's how we can do it, too, but it can't happen unless we get rid of resurrection."
He shook his head. "Perhaps, but two babies are a slender thread to hang our people on, don't you think? Iris is her own miracle, and a fully Cylon child won't happen again. Hera is the shape of things to come, but she may be her own solitary miracle as well."
"Are you sure about that?" Sharon blurted, disappointed, thinking about Galen on the Galactica as her vague hopes of the future popped like soap bubbles.

Sam glanced at her and his blue eyes seemed to touch her deeply, understanding. "Even if there are more, you all know damn well that the humans fear and hate us for the most part, so most of you will die alone. So think carefully before you agree to this. Once done, it can't be undone."
"That makes it sound as if you're saying we shouldn't do this," Sheryl said, sounding confused.
"I'm not telling you either way," he insisted. "I just want you all to understand the cost. If you do this, it's forever. Maybe that's a good thing; maybe it's not. If I tell you what to do, then it won't be your choice anymore. And this has to be your decision, not mine."

"Then, we'll take a consensus-- " D'Anna said, but he interrupted with a shake of his head.
"No. Everyone on the ship gets one vote. Dissenters need to be heard too. I don't want just us choosing this. It isn't right to have a decision like this made for everyone else. If Cylons are going to be individuals, they need to start learning to be individuals."

"You want… a vote?" D'Anna asked, her tone unsure. "Everyone?"

"Yes, everyone gets heard," he declared, growing more certain. "I don't want a repeat of what happened with the Sixes when some of them felt shut out. This is a big decision, the most important one the Cylons may ever make, and I won't dictate it."

Sharon thought it was fair and a good idea, even though it also showed how little Sam understood them. He was used to the rebels who genuinely tried to think as individuals, but there were a great many more, even on the ship and among her sisters, who would never vote against a prevailing consensus. They were even less likely to vote against the wishes of their oracle, one of the Final Five, and father of the only full Cylon child in the universe. It would be like voting against the wishes of God and Sharon didn't think she was ready to do that herself.

"It will be as you wish," Leoben said. "We will all vote." His promise made her want to laugh, since she would have bet all her cubits on none of the Twos voting against an attack on the Hub either.

"Good but not yet. First we need to deal with the Fleet. I'm going, but I don't know who else to bring." His gaze settled first on Sharon and he looked uncertain. "I'd like to bring you, but I don't know how Adama would react."

She didn't know either, but she pointed out, "He did listen to me at the algae planet. And Athena is there." And Galen, but she kept that to herself. She wanted to see him, even if he didn't want to see her.

"All right," Sam nodded. "And Caprica. You two started this with me, seems right that we go together." He faced Leoben and cocked his head a little, regarding the Two. "I'll try to get your brother freed to come back here."

"If he desires it. But I think it will depend on where you choose to be," Leoben said.

Then Sam turned to D'Anna and let out a sigh. "A wise woman told me once that I need the Threes. So I want you to come. But if you start coming unglued or threatening them, I'll send you home." Then he held out his hand to Simon. "Another time, Simon. You went against your brothers, for me, and that's worth something. You're my second on this ship."

His eyes wide with surprise, Simon looked down at their clasped hands and back at Sam. "I am?

"You." Sam clapped him on the shoulder with his other hand. "Welcome to individuality. It means someone gets to be in charge."

Simon still didn't seem to believe what Sam was saying, but Sharon thought it was a good idea. Simon was the chanciest of their allies, since he was the only one of his model to cross over; she trusted him, but it was difficult for a Cylon to be alone. It would be much harder to fold if he knew Sam was depending on him.

Then that disposed of, Sam said, "I don't suppose you picked up another Raptor? Because I'd rather not take a Heavy Raider if we can help it."

"We don't have another, no," Drea said.

"But the other ship does," Caprica added.

"The other basestar is heavily damaged," Sheryl said, turning from the forward data font. "The Hybrid isn't certain whether it can be made FTL ready."

Simon suggested, "Perhaps while you're gone, we should begin the process to merge the ships. There are few survivors over there, which can be easily integrated, and this ship can use its material to recover more quickly."

"Merge the ships?" Sam repeated, in astonishment. "You mean, actually put them together somehow?"

Caprica's delighted smile brightened the room. "Yes. Damaged ships can unify to become one healthy vessel."

"That's… amazing," Sam said and shook his head, running his fingers down the edge of the data font and his face was quietly wondering, like he thought the ship might be feeling his touch.

Sharon had a good idea what he was feeling. Like him, she still thought of herself as human, because that was what she'd known first. They'd both had to accept the truth, but his came with greater uncertainty and greater loneliness, she thought, since at least she'd had her sisters.

"It'll take time," D'Anna warned, "and leave us vulnerable during the process."

"All right," he said finally. "let's do that. I'll inform Galactica of the plan so they know what we're trying to do. Have the other baseship send us the Raptor."

Forty minutes later they were in the docking bay ready to enter the Raptor. First Sam greeted the newly arrived Cylons - two Threes, three Sixes, four Eights, and another Two, who all watched him hungrily, not as used to the idea of one of the Five among them. She saw disappointment as he asked, "No Fours?" and got a negative response. Then he stared at the Raider, before smiling and shaking his head with rueful affection and went into the Raptor to sit in the co-pilot seat, while Sharon took lead.

She handed him his helmet. "Ready?"

"No," he admitted, "not really, but what choice do I have?"

"Not much," she agreed. She touched the liftoff controls and headed out, with Sam's Raider and its squadron following in a protective shadow. They peeled away when Duck's squadron approached, staying back, but not leaving entirely.

It was, Sharon thought, a rather pointed reminder to Galactica to be careful with her new guest.

As the Raptor approached Galactica, she swallowed, remembering her last moments on this ship, how Cally had shot her, and the pain, and Galen holding her as she'd died…

Sam's touch on the back of her hand brought her out of her dark memories. "I won't let them do anything to you, Sharon. You're with me."

"But who's with you?" she asked. She said it lightly, but she wanted to know how he could really protect her when he was very possibly in big trouble himself.

"Aurora," he answered, with perfect and comforting certainty, "and God. One thing I know for sure in all this, Sharon -- I'm not alone."

The tightness in her chest eased and it was with renewed confidence that she spoke to Galactica for permission to board and landing directions.

The deck was cleared for the Cylon party's arrival -- not because the Admiral was worried about the Cylons, or at least Kara didn't think so -- but for their protection. Word had somehow gone around already that the Cylons were coming to talk, and this, on top of Baltar's acquittal, was causing unrest.

So Kara was there, with a small detachment of marines, Sharon, and Helo along with Tyrol and Brasko.

The Raptor landed with a bump, and Kara couldn't help a little smile once she saw the pilot in the cockpit. "Never could land worth a damn," she muttered to Sharon to her right, and on Sharon's opposite side, Helo snickered.

Once the Raptor was down, the hatch hissed open and Sam, wearing his flightsuit, was first out. He didn't say anything at first as he stood in the hatchway to look at who was there to meet him. She noticed he'd removed his sidearm from the holster on the suit, so he was unarmed, and he gave each of them an assessing glance as if hoping to get a clue about what his reception was going to be.

On the deck itself, he waited as other Cylons emerged and joined him on the deck, and he introduced them quietly, "I think Sharon - Boomer - you already know; And Caprica, and D'Anna."

Athena glanced at her sister. "Boomer."

"Sister." Boomer looked up and tentatively smiled. "Helo. Good to see you again." But her eyes were drawn irresistibly to the other side and Tyrol. He was standing a little far to be greeted but she looked at him. He looked back, his hands clenched to fists at his side, and there was such a look of uncertainty on their faces it hurt a little. But there was no hatred on the Chief's, Kara noticed. Whatever he still felt for his former Cylon lover, it wasn't hate.

"Anders," Helo said, as if he wasn't quite sure what to feel either.

"I …" Sam cleared his throat. "Did my, uh, announcement cause any problem for Thea and Iris?"

"No, they're safe."

"Good. I -- I was worried about that."

"You knew all along," Helo burst out, sounding hurt. "You didn't tell us? I think - gods, Sam, did you think we wouldn't understand? Of all people?"

Sam sighed and looked weary. "You'd have told the admiral, Helo. And everyone would've wanted answers from me I don't have. But I am sorry, if it helps."

Helo hesitated for a moment then let it go with a nod. "All right. Fair enough. We should get you to the conference room. Be on your guard -- we cleared the deck but not the halls, and your announcement went out on the all-hands somehow, so everyone knows."

"Well, that's great," Sam muttered.

"C'mon, Oracle, buck up," Kara said. "Not every ship is going to treat you like you're one of the frakking Lords of Kobol."

"No, I didn't think they would; I just hoped it would take longer," he answered heavily, resigned to distrust and hate and fear.

"You had nothing to do with the attacks," Caprica comforted him with a hand on his shoulder. "They shouldn't blame you."

"But they will, Caprica," he answered and shrugged off her hand. "Come on, let's do this."

"I'm going the other way," Athena announced. "I'll meet you at the conference room."

She dashed off, to Kara's surprise, but Helo didn't appear to mind as he ordered the marines into position to escort the group. At the hatch, Boomer looked back and waved to Tyrol, who raised a hand to her.

Outside the deck wasn't too crowded with not as many people cleared to come near, but there were still pilots and crew who turned to stare as the group went by. Kara spotted Skulls fingering his sidearm, and she glared at him, while moving to Sam's side defensively.

But that was the worst of it, until they went into the main corridor where more of a crowd had gathered.

"They don't belong here! Get them off the ship! No toasters!" people yelled. And one person threw something which hit D'Anna in the back of her black leather jacket, making her stumble. Luckily it turned out to be an empty metal can, and D'Anna waved off their concern, so they kept going.

"It's Anders! " The cry went up as he was recognized. "Traitor! Always knew he was one of them!"

Kara glanced at him to see his expression carefully blank, staring out ahead of them.

But to Kara's surprise there were people who shouted more supportive things in response. "He saved us!" a woman called out. "Don't you understand that? He saved the ship! He made them stop, you all heard it."

The crowd parted enough for Kara to see that it was Julia Brynn, who had managed to silence the people near her with the force of her outrage.

But not everyone. "He's one of them!" someone yelled. Something large and metallic was flung out of the crowd at the back of Sam's head. Kara shoved him out of the way. He crashed into Caprica and both of them fell against two marines, as the wrench passed to the side and hit someone in the crowd.

Helo ordered anxiously, "Let's go, people! Marines, fall in, protective detail."

Kara stayed close to Sam, as the marines drew together, ushering the Cylons through the crowd. She watched the crowd, worried about something worse than a wrench, and worried about the whole thing turning into a riot. Fortunately there were never so many people that they had to push anyone out of the way, but it was still a few nerve-wracking minutes before the group passed into the secure operations area and left them behind.

Boomer was ashen and trembling. Caprica hugged her quickly, "It's okay, sister. We made it through."

D'Anna said a little dryly, meeting Kara's eyes, "It's not the most pleasant thing to remember dying."

"Isn't it better than just dying?" Kara retorted.

D'Anna smiled back. "I don't know -- why don't you tell us?"

Kara flinched, and reminded herself that they were wrong. She hadn't died; it had been a mistake and her two month gap was some sort of weird, but perfectly explainable phenomenon, as soon as she figured it out.

"We'll all be the same soon enough," Sam said cryptically. "C'mon, I hate waiting around."

They all entered the conference room, where Roslin, the admiral, Lee, and Sharon were already waiting. Kara almost smiled, thinking Sharon must've run the whole way to beat them there. Kara and Helo both went to join the Colonial side of the table; there were four empty chairs on the other side, with marines taking up a station at the wall behind them.

Sam went straight to the chair directly opposite Roslin without hesitation. He seized the back in one hand and greeted her politely, "President Roslin."

"Please, be seated," she invited, and the group all took seats. Kara knew she wasn't the only one who looked between the two Sharons, as alike as twins, but subtly different as well. It wasn't just their hair was a little different with Athena's trimmed more precisely for Fleet, or their clothing, but Athena's face was harder and more controlled, while Boomer's held a trace of uncertainty and youth to it that Athena's didn't.

It was, at least to Kara's eyes, a pointed reminder that they might talk about the Cylons as identical copies, but they weren't. At least not anymore. Still strange though.

Roslin looked at Sam across the table for a long moment before pressing her lips together and speaking, "You lied to me."

He answered, "No, I didn't. Everything I told you was the truth. I just… kept the rest of it to myself."

"That you're one of the Final Five."

He quirked a half-smile, wry, "Nobody, including me, knows what that actually means."

"It means you're some kind of Cylon," Lee said impatiently.

Sam let out a low sigh and probably would've rolled his eyes if he'd been more relaxed. "Yes. But it's not the same."

"You're certainly cozy with them," Roslin pointed out. "They claim to follow you."

Caprica shot her a look, chin tilted in offense. "We do."

Roslin ignored her. "You have a Cylon lover and a child. Your loyalties would seem to be pretty clear. So forgive me, Sam, but I have to wonder how much humans matter to you anymore."

"Of course they matter," Sam protested. "That's what all this is for. Let me tell you what I want - since that'll be more useful. I want the people of this fleet to be safe and protected. I want them not to have to fear Cylons anymore. I also want my Cylon daughter Iris to grow up -- to be safe and free, and not hated for things she had no part in. And most of all, I want all of these people, Human and Cylon, to find their home on Earth, because that's our destiny. I believe none of us will find it unless we do it together."

Roslin nodded, giving nothing away. "And ultimately? Which side would you pick, if you had to?"

"Ultimately…" he hesitated, and absently tugged on his dogtags with his left hand. "I'm one of the Final Five, President Roslin. I can't choose because I'm both. My side is the side that wants peace, with everyone else who wants to join me. Right now, that's these Cylons, because what I am is more impressive to them and they need me, but I'm not on their side; these Cylons are on mine."

"And the rest of the Five?" Roslin asked. "Where are they?"

"They know now," he said. "Though they're steps behind me, so they don't know much more than that."

"Who are they?" Roslin demanded.

Kara briefly wondered if he would reveal their identities, but since he hadn't when the Cylons had asked, she wasn't surprised when he didn't.

He smiled and leaned back in his chair. "It's not my place to tell you. When they feel safe and ready, when it's time, they'll reveal themselves." His face darkened and he glanced away. "One didn't make it."

That meant he knew one was dead, and in holding that identity back, suggested it wasn't a random person on another ship or killed in the Colonies. Then she realized his words meant the Five could die; he wasn't going to resurrect. She was glad all over again that she'd stopped him at the gas giant. Glancing at her side of the table, she wondered if any of them understood, and thought only the Cylons did. Both Sharons seemed surprised, and the Six glanced at him in alarm.

Sam didn't appear to notice their worry, focused on Roslin.

"I could make their identities a condition of our coalition," Roslin threatened.

"You could. I'd still have to refuse. I knew when the time was right for me; I believe they'll know when it's right, too. Maybe it'll be soon, maybe you'll never know, I don't know. But it's not my choice."

Inwardly Kara shook her head - she'd known he was stubborn before, but she wouldn't want to be the one telling Roslin no.

He sat up again and glanced at D'Anna, before returning his attention to Roslin and Adama. "But right now they aren't important. They'll continue doing what they were doing before and they're no danger to you. We have a better offer than their identities. There is something called a Resurrection Hub, which is the central facility that directs all Cylon resurrections. Resurrection isn't possible without it. It's a ship of sorts and currently in the hands of our enemies. The rebel Cylons are willing to destroy the Hub in exchange for going with you to Earth."

Utter silence fell at that, and even Kara regarded him in surprise at the words. She'd never heard of such a thing, and she wasn't the only one who looked at Athena after the offer.

"Lieutenant?" Adama asked. "Is this place real?"

Because if it was real, Sam had just landed the most significant tactical target in their laps in this whole war.

Sharon didn't meet anyone's eyes as she answered, "Yes. The Hub exists. But it jumps randomly and no one - no Cylon- knows where it is. Unless the rebels have a way to track it, their offer doesn't mean anything."

"I think I can find it," Sam declared, and for a moment his face turned pale as though the thought of finding it was very disturbing to him, until he shrugged it off, "but that's not the only problem. It's heavily defended and the rebel baseship doesn't have the capacity to destroy it. We need nukes. So I propose both groups attack it together."

"This is our atonement," Caprica spoke from her seat beside Sam. Her voice was quiet but strong. "We offer you the end of resurrection for all Cylons, everywhere. We offer permanent death to us all, and give up one of the things which makes us Cylons." Her voice and face softened with deep regret, as she said, "We know we can't ever make up for what we've done, but at least we can do this. And when we end resurrection together, we'll also erase something which makes understanding between our peoples so difficult."

"But," D'Anna added, with a fierce look in her bright blue eyes, "we'll only do it on the condition that we - our ship - journeys with you to Earth."

Roslin's eyes blazed in return, "You surrendered. You have no right to issue conditions."

"We surrendered to Sam," D'Anna corrected, narrowing her eyes, "Not to you."

"D'Anna," Sam warned softly then addressed Roslin, "Look, no one's trying to say what the Cylons did wasn't terribly wrong. They know that. Or at least some of them do. But there's nothing greater than resurrection that they can give up. And they can't - and won't - do this without some sort of promise that it won't be for nothing. Trust me, there's no one more aware than I am about how difficult and painful the idea of Cylons on Earth is. But isn't it a small price to pay for the end of resurrection forever? If, as seems likely, few of them are able to have children, the Cylon race will become extinct. You'll have your revenge eventually, if that's what you want."

It sounded so wrong when he said that, somehow, though it hadn't been long ago that Kara would've wanted that. Extinct. Revenge. She thought about tiny Iris in Sam's lap and wondered how he could even bear the thought of her being the last of her kind.

Caprica and Sharon both looked worried as if they hadn't considered all the consequences of destroying the Hub, then they looked terribly sad, but resolute, willing to pay the price. D'Anna's face was harder to read, but she didn't seem surprised.

Adama asked, his voice gruffer than usual, "What sort of plan of attack do you have?"

"Your nuclear devices in missiles, attached to powered-down Raptors," D'Anna answered promptly. "Heavy Raiders jump them together and tow them in. Defenses won't go live until the system reads non-Cylon transponders. Then together they blow the hell out of the Hub."

"Won't the other Cylons be expecting an attack?" Lee asked. "After your rebellion?"

"No," Caprica answered. "I don't believe so. Even if he believed we had a way to locate it, attacking the Hub is… madness. The Ones would never believe we'd do it."

"Even if they do, there's little they can do except depend on the Hub's own defenses," D'Anna clarified. "But I agree with Caprica -- the Ones may expect us to attack the resurrection ships, or his ships, but not the Hub. To his mind, that's the same as killing ourselves."

"He doesn't understand the value of a single life, or lifetime," Caprica said softly. "The Ones want us all to be nothing but machines, unfeeling and obedient, but that's not what we are. It's not what we want to be."

Adama spoke brusquely. "We need to discuss this offer. If you four would step outside?"

The Cylons all stood and D'Anna asked, "We would like to see Thea and the child, to make sure they're well."

"Lieutenant Anders can visit them as usual," Adama declared. "The rest of you will have to wait until we decide what to do."

"I appreciate that, admiral," Sam told him, silencing any objection, and with a gesture, urged the three women to precede him, and the marines surrounded them and they were led through the far hatch.

The hatch had barely closed, when Adama stated flatly, "We have to do it. Strategically there's no other choice but take out this Hub and destroy their ability to resurrect."

No one disagreed with that, and Kara nodded.

"There's got to be a catch in it," Lee said.

"There is, they want Earth. And I'm not inclined to give it to them," Roslin said. "Once the Hub is destroyed, how will they insist?"

"You're going to betray them?" Tory demanded incredulously. "After everything they said? After Sam saved the Fleet?"

"I … don't think that's a good idea," Kara said slowly, wishing she had Sam's confidence in his instincts. Give her a battle and she knew what to do but this? This whole situation was frakked up and weird and she didn't know what was right. No, she realized, that wasn't true; she knew Roslin was wrong. It was finding the words that was difficult.

Then she found an argument that was better than any vague claims of the gods or her feelings of discontent. "Do we want the Cylons unified against us again?" she asked. "It's a civil war; There were bodies all over the place. Everyone over there right now wants to be friendly. But if you betray them, they'll react. And while Sam wouldn't want them to attack, especially if it puts Iris in danger, they might stop listening to him, if you snatch Earth away."

Adama listened to her and then asked, "Athena?"

Sharon lifted her eyes to him, ignoring everyone else, and she shook her head. "This is new, Admiral. I didn't think that sort of civil war could happen. When I rebelled, I was the first. And I could only do it because of Hera. This is … immense."

"You believe them," he stated, "that they've changed."

"That they're trying," she said carefully.

Lee knew his father, and he shook his head, "No, you can't be thinking we do this… The Fleet will never stand for Cylon allies."

"They will for us to destroy resurrection," the admiral declared. "We'll deal with the rest afterward."

It was a harsh reminder of how much life had changed: it wasn't that long ago he'd been able to visit the brig on his own, at will, and he'd mostly been ignored. Now, he had two guards, and reactions were far more tilted to the hostile than before. At least no one threw anything this time.

It was a bit of a relief when his passing brought indifference. But then he ran into a small knot of people arguing, and when they became aware of his presence, they all looked at him with such intensity he stopped, wondering if they were going to attack him.

One of the people was Bulldog, and he took a step nearer. "Sam. I've been reminding them how you freed me, and you've been teaching these Cylons to change. Not all of them," he raised a hand to put a halt to someone else's attempt at interruption, "but this one ship's worth. That you've been helping us all along."

"But the Colonies--!" someone objected.

"I saw it!" Sam interrupted harshly, silencing the objection. His voice grew stronger, reaching down the corridor. "I was there, on Caprica. I fought them there. I faced their ability to come back, over and over again, on the ground. I saw the ruins of Caprica City, and the empty streets of Delphi. I was there. I'm not asking you to forget what happened. Because I can't either. And I hated them, same as you do." His words were gathering a larger crowd, he realized, and swallowed back the nervousness. He might not get a better chance at this.

He continued, trying to be only himself. Better to be human at this moment, not the oracle. "But things are different now; they're different. This one ship of Cylons, of Sixes, Eights, and Twos -- they changed for me. They learned compassion, they want to start making amends. They let Bulldog here go, they sent food for you, and now they're offering an end to resurrection. They have a way to make themselves mortal, and they want it. There are only ninety of them, that's ninety out of thousands, willing to give up eternal life for their entire race. And all they ask in return is a chance to prove themselves your friends." His voice softened a little more earnest, "Please. I'm just looking for a future where my daughter can grow up safe and loved, not hated for things she didn't do."

"And why should we listen to a toaster?" someone yelled.

But Bulldog answered for him, "Because he's not. Didn't you hear what he said?"

"Like we should believe that," a young man sneered.

Sam held his eyes. "It's the truth. I'm one of the Final Five of the Thirteenth Tribe."

It felt strangely good to speak the words aloud again. The burden of the secret had lifted from his shoulders, and with acceptance had come a feeling of liberation. He knew what he was. He didn't understand it yet, not entirely, but at least denial and secrecy weren't weighing him down any more.

"What does that mean?" a civilian woman wearing the beaded necklace of a lay follower of Demeter asked. "The Thirteenth Tribe? They left Kobol… they went to Earth…" Then her eyes widened in realization. "You're from Earth."

"Then are you a Cylon at all?" another asked, in confusion. "Why are people saying you're a Cylon?"

"Because that's what we call people who aren't human. When we reach Earth, everyone will understand," he assured them. "But first we need to get there, by making Cylon friends and attacking Cylon enemies. People want easy solutions, but this isn't an easy time. But it's all the sweeter to win a difficult match, isn't it? Try the hard thing."

He moved toward the crowd, his guards following him belatedly, and with a squeeze of Bulldog's shoulder in thanks, he went through, as people moved aside. Some moved more grudging than others, but some also seemed more thoughtful than they had been.

At the brig as the heavy door clanged shut behind him, for a brief, uncomfortable moment, Sam wondered if they'd let him out again.

Iris was asleep on the cot, and Thea was reading a book with her legs curled up beneath her. She smiled at him and put the book aside. "I heard what you said in flight," she told him. "I'm so proud of you. They told me the Raiders came to your call."

"They did. All of them. It was impressive." He leaned down to kiss her, letting out a deep breath to try to unknot the anxiety in his shoulders. She patted the bed next to her.

"Tell me what happened," she requested. So he told her, not leaving much out. The only reaction she showed to Kara's return was a tightening of her lips, and he felt guilty all over again, remembering how he'd embraced Kara on the hangar deck.

But that moment passed when he reached the part about the Hub and how they were going to destroy it, and she turned to look into his face with big shocked eyes. "But how will anyone find it?"

"I will. From the Hybrid," he said, and had to swallow at the memory of last time.

She seized his hand and shook her head frantically. "No, Sam, there must be another way."

"I don't think there is. We have to destroy it, and I'm the only one who might be able to find it. I've been in the datastream now --"

"That's not the same!" she interrupted fiercely. "You barely got out last time. You almost died. You have to find another way."

"I could use chamalla," he suggested. "That might work. But to go deep enough, it'd be just as dangerous, I think." He held her hand and raised her fingers to his lips. "It'll be okay, Thea. Have faith."

She picked up Iris and cradled her against her chest, while she leaned back into his arm. "I have faith in you. And in God," she murmured after a moment and added with reluctant acceptance. "You need to do this."

He kissed her hair. "I won't get lost when I have so much to pull me back this time. "

Another moment passed while the three of them cuddled together, trying to stay in their small bubble of peace. "And Kara? Does she really know the way to Earth?"

"She said she had a feeling pulling her there," he answered. "It sounds like what I felt calling me to the Temple. But… I don't know." Leaning against the wall, he shut his eyes, seeing it all again in his memory. More softly he said, "I watched her die. I knew her destiny was incomplete, but I thought I was wrong and she was gone. But… now she's back. Somehow. They all think she's a Cylon, but she's not; I know she's not. But what is she?"

"Is that all the choices there are, Sam?" Thea asked in a murmur. "You're more than that. Why not Kara, too?"

"She's not one of the Five," he insisted and opened his eyes when he felt her hand on his cheek and she laughed softly.

"So many miracles in your life and you want to quantify this one?" she chided.

"Iris isn't the same as coming back from the dead without resurrection," he returned dryly.

"It's the exact same thing," Thea insisted. "They're both life, Sam."

The words struck him and he nodded slowly, accepting what she said as true. He took Iris from her, to look into her little face, thinking that she was like Kara in more than being an inexplicable miracle. They were both living, where they shouldn't be.

"Things are different," he told Thea, in warning. "They're changing. Everyone knows what I am now. There's so much confusion …. People don't understand, and they're afraid. And Earth is coming. We're on the right path, but I'm not sure we'll like what we find. Or that we'll all survive to see it."

"You know not all will. But you can only do what they let you," Thea reminded him. "Let the rest go, Sam. My sisters and brothers have to sacrifice; you can't save us from that. And you shouldn't."

He had to admit she was right, even though it twisted somewhere deep inside to know what he was condemning them to. It had to happen, he knew it, he believed it -- for peace, ending resurrection was the only possible sacrifice they could make; but even so, would that doom all of them to final death and no possibility of a new life on the other side? Would there be rebirth or were their souls utterly extinguished into nothingness?

Was he dooming them all to death and extinction? And if he was, was that wrong? It felt wrong, but that was only when he didn't consider how close the Humans had come to extinction themselves.

He stroked Iris' cheek with his finger. At least she was innocent. She was the only purely innocent Cylon life in the galaxy. Maybe she was the only Cylon who would survive to see the new land, and maybe she was the only one who should.

Kara watched as the Cylons returned and filtered back into their seats. Sam took his and didn't speak, watching them all with a distant look on his face as if his thoughts were somewhere else entirely.

"We accept your offer," Roslin announced, and managed to make it sound not quite as if she was choking to death on it.

"We will plan and execute a join mission to destroy the Resurrection Hub," the Admiral clarified.

"And Earth?" D'Anna asked. "Because we won't do it if you intend to destroy the Hub and turn around and kill us."

'We won't do that," Roslin said. "I promise."

"Swear it," D'Anna insisted. "Because our brother Leoben already discovered that you don't keep promises to Cylons."

"We have no intention of destroying all of you," Roslin said steadily, looking at D'Anna. "I swear by the Lords of Kobol."

"Well, good," Caprica said with a pleased smile. "We want to be friends."

"Should've thought about that three years ago," Lee snapped.

For a moment, harsh silence fell, and Caprica swallowed. "Yes, we should have. But we didn't understand."

"At least a few of us were friends," Boomer added, glancing down at the table with a sad look. "I'm sorry I ruined that. I never wanted to hurt you, Admiral. I fought it as much as I could."

Adama's look turned a bit fond as he looked at her. "I know."

She glanced up at him, confused, with a hopeful smile. "Sir?"

His smile widened a bit. "You missed."

Sam inhaled a deep breath and put his hands flat on the table. "I don't know how you want to handle mission planning, Admiral. All of you know more about space battles than I do so I think I'll be more use finding the Hub. I'll leave Caprica, D'Anna, and Sharon here for the planning if you like, or your people are welcome on the basestar."

"Leave them here," Adama said, and his gaze met Sam's. "They will be protected." He glanced at Kara. "Starbuck, you should go with him; return the other Viper, we may need it."

"Yes, sir." She knew what he really meant -- bring your proof of Earth.

Sam stood, held for a moment by Caprica's hand on his arm. "Not alone, Sam," she advised. "Have Drea or someone there to remind you of the path."

His lips tightened and he swallowed, but nodded.

"I'd like to speak to Sam for a moment, alone," Roslin said.

"No," Adama said, looking at her in alarm. She put a hand on his arm.

"I need to ask him something. It'll be fine. Won't it, Sam?" she asked.

"Of course," he answered.

Reluctantly, Adama agreed, and ushered everyone out. Kara turned at the door, frowning, and the Cylons seemed reluctant and curious, as well. But they all went.

Sam waited as everyone else left, wondering what Roslin wanted to ask him in private that she wasn't willing to talk about in front of the others.

When the hatch shut, leaving them alone, she didn't speak at first. He waited, wondering if she planned to accuse him of being a traitor or tell him the whole plan was a lie and she was going to have them all killed.

Instead she folded her hands on top of the table. "You probably didn't hear what happened at Baltar's trial."

"I know he was acquitted," Sam answered, now thinking that she was going to bring up what she knew about Caprica and Baltar and how he had to know about that and had lied to Cassidy.

Roslin shook her head. "Lee revealed that my cancer's returned."

"I - I'm sorry to hear that," he answered, not knowing what else to say. Now he had no idea what she wanted to talk to him about at all.

"That means, I don't want to wait to get answers," she said. "I have this dream. I think … you're in it. I'm chasing Hera through a large, beautiful theater and there are five robed, glowing figures up on the stage. I think they're the Final Five. So now that I know you're one of them, what is that place?" She asked the question as if she expected an answer, but he was at first stunned to know she had seen it.

"You… you see it, too?" he asked, surprised.

She nodded. "I dream about it. What is it? Why is it important?"

"It's… it's not real," he answered. She nodded again, impatient with the obvious. He continued, speaking slowly as he laid it out for her, and for himself. "As far as I can tell, it was an Opera House on Kobol. It's a … memory … a shadow… of what happened back then. During an opera about the war of the gods - when the rebel lords of Kobol gave fire to humanity and were punished by their brethren -- five scientists created the Psi Alliance. They made an agreement to join their research to transfer memories from death to new bodies."

Her lips parted as if she would speak, but the words didn't come at first, until she whispered, "Resurrection."

"Yes. So I know why I saw it - it's the beginning of the Thirteenth Tribe. My people." And there was more to it, but he didn't think it was his place to mention the rest to her. "I don't know why you dream about it."

Her eyes widened with sudden realization and her hand shot out across the table as if she wanted to clutch at something, finding only her pen. "So then it's the beginning of how the Cylons learned how to defeat death."

"Yes. And now they -- we have to learn to accept it again." He remembered the words of the other Kara to him before Kara had gone, and added softly, "I do. No more cheating death. It has to end."

Her eyes met his, suddenly sympathetic and she smiled at him. "I don't think any of us accept death easily. I don't. But I can fight and fight, hold on for one more day, but in the end, my time will come. Not long from now."

"I hope not too soon," he murmured.

She made a gesture with her hand as if to accept and dismiss his words, and went on, "But it makes me wonder how anyone who can live forever could actually give it up for the uncertainty and finality of death." She stared at him, as if thinking he was going to reveal that it was all a trick.

"Because they have nothing else to give," he answered. "To prove they want peace; that they've changed. To make the teams more even." He swallowed. "You realize all of those killed in the civil war may not resurrect. The others on other ships where they weren't as prepared may have been murdered. The only Cylons left in the universe may be the few on that ship out there, and the Ones and their minions."

He leaned closer, staring into her eyes, "You have gone from an enemy of thousands, perhaps millions, to many fewer. But if you betray them - if you break your word to us --" then he reconsidered and clenched a hand on top of the table. "No -- if you break your word to me, remember Kobol and what happened when the thirteen tribes fell apart in distrust and hate. There was fire and death. And that, President Rosin, is not a threat," he added, when she drew back a little in alarm and her features tightened. "That's what I know will happen, because that's what happened before. And if we don't break this circle of death and hatred of things that are different, this time there'll be no coming back. There'll be no peace, no new colony, there'll be nothing. Human and Cylon will cease to exist. That's the ending we face and the only way out is together."

He stood up, preparing to leave.

"You believe that?" she asked, her face drawn and pale with her illness but still shining with determination and strength.

But he had his own and his own knowledge, and he could answer honestly, "Yes. One of the Lords of Kobol told me this. I didn't understand at first, but I do now. We have one more chance, Laura. And then, we're done. The slate will be wiped clean and everything we ever were, everything we could ever be, will be gone."

He inhaled a deep breath and said in a steadier voice. "And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to the basestar and put my hand in the central core and maybe not ever come out again. So I hope you listen."

He'd reached the hatch when her voice stopped him. "I'm listening," she told him. She had to clear her throat and she added, "But realize what you want isn't going to be possible for everyone. Some won't ever accept peace, not after what happened."

He remembered a sharp knife and blood and a man with fevered eyes who refused to accept peace. The low, metal bulkheads seemed to melt away for orange torchlight and stone all around, and the echo of chanting voices rang in his ears. "No, they won't," he agreed. "Maybe they shouldn't, I don't know. But I do know, if we listen to the voices of vengeance, we'll all pay the price this time."

"But there's hope." She didn't say it as a question, but a statement, as if she knew it. She believed, and for that moment, she made him believe, too.

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.
noybusiness: AndersGrievingnoybusiness on February 27th, 2014 01:39 pm (UTC)
A great story! Keep it coming!