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20 March 2014 @ 12:04 am
Black Sails at Dawn, 15/?  

Sharon and Vera jumped back to the Fleet, flush with success. The baseship had nearly finished melding with the broken one, and it now looked intact, but with an extra arm.

A quick scan proved they were the first of the attack squadron to make it back, and Galactica and the baseship were already orienting defensively toward her Heavy Raider, so she made sure to turn on all-frequencies. "Baseship, Galactica, this is Boomer. I can report mission success. The Hub is destroyed."

A Six's voice answered, "Excellent news, Boomer. Casualties?"

"Uncertain yet," Sharon answered. "I know we lost two Heavy Raiders, and one Raptor, at least. There was a lot of resistance from the two baseships guarding the Hub. Everyone scattered in the battle."

"Which Raptor was lost?" Helo's voice asked from Galactica, and Boomer remembered him well enough to hear the tension, wondering if his wife, or one of his friends was dead.

"Not Athena's, Helo," she reassured him. "And not Starbuck's." She sent a silent prayer to God for that one -- it was only now she realized how foolish they'd been to have Kara and Sam both in the same Raptor. "They were both under attack, but alive last I saw. I don't know which of the other Raptors it was; I'm sorry."

"Understood. Hopefully the others will know more," Helo said, acknowledging that the Heavy Raiders would be able to jump back faster.

"We'll wait out here, in case we have to go on S&R," Boomer offered.

After they finished talking to the ships, she held the Heavy Raider off station, not far from the baseship, and they waited for the rest to arrive.

"Do you feel different?" Vera asked. "I still know the resurrection ship is in range. I thought it should feel different to know resurrection is gone."

Sharon closed her eyes to concentrate, and though she could feel what Vera felt, the link to the resurrection ship was still there, there was something different. But she wasn't sure it had anything to do with the Hub - maybe it had only to do with herself. She felt more … comfortable. She was a Cylon, she was an Eight, but more importantly, she was Sharon Valerii. She was … unique.

"We are different," Sharon said. "All of us. But that change started before the Hub was destroyed; we've only insured we can't go back."

"It's a little scary," Vera admitted. "At least we have you, Sharon. You've lived it before, so you help us."

Sharon smiled at her little sister, and watched as more Heavy Raiders arrived, followed by the Raptors. Some of them had found each other and jumped back together, which pleased her even more.

It was so exciting to see the two working together, and she hoped Sam would arrive soon to see it, too.

But as minutes turned to hours, and Raptor 175 didn't come back, she began to get an uneasy twist in her gut.

Athena arrived and passed on the disturbing news that 175 had jumped late, pressed hard by Raiders which Sam hadn't been able to reach. But at least they had jumped out. Starbuck would never make a jump error, that was inconceivable. So where were they?

The baseship and Galactica conferred, and Sharon was uneasy by how quickly the tone started to change. 175 was the only Raptor missing; all other Raptors and Heavy Raiders were returned or confirmed destroyed.

Dualla repeated, "Galactica requests the flight logs of all Heavy Raiders, to see if we can determine a vector for our missing Raptor."

D'Anna demanded, "Are you accusing us of something? No one hopes that Raptor returns more than we do. We'll send Heavy Raiders out to search."

After a moment, Dualla said, "We can coordinate a search with our Raptors."

"Unnecessary. Heavy Raiders have better sensors and can cover more territory quickly. We'll find them."

"They are our missing personnel, baseship. We will search for them."

"Oh, now you claim them?" D'Anna returned scornfully. "A Final Five Cylon and someone else you believe is a secret Cylon? Two people you'd just as soon were gone so you could destroy us with impunity? Except they have the way to Earth so you can't. And now they've disappeared, upsetting your plans."

Helo took over the wireless to say, "I don't know what plans you think we have, but our only plan is to find our missing Raptor and bring them home."

Sharon intervened then, activating the wireless to join the channel, "Baseship, Galactica, this is Boomer. If the Raptors search sectors one through about fifty in a standard Fleet search pattern, the Heavy Raiders can start farther out. I'd be happy to coordinate it." She stared at the wireless, hoping her thoughts could somehow reach them all: come on, you guys, stop this. We didn't get here to have it all fall apart in a day.

There was a pause and a Six voice, "This is the baseship. We concur with Boomer's plan. We seek cooperation, and apologize for our … anxiety."

She couldn't tell if it was Natalie or Caprica, but from the irritation in her voice, Sharon knew that both of them had probably had a discussion with D'Anna about how not to spoil their fragile alliance.

Then distortion on the sensors caught her eye and she watched in the stream as a Raptor appeared, smack between Galactica and the baseship, and Sharon grinned. It was 175. Then it got even better.

The wireless buzzed, and Starbuck's voice on all channels announced cheerfully: "Hey, everybody, all of you out there in the Fleet? Monkeys and toasters? Sam and I got a little side-tracked, but now we have coordinates. How would you all like to go to Earth?"

Kara raised her brows at the wireless, hearing overlapping excited voices from all over the fleet demanding to know what she was talking about.

Sam laughed softly and shook his head. "You've done it now."

Finally Galactica cut through the noise and ordered them on board to speak to President Roslin and Kara acknowledged, then glanced at Sam.

He shrugged. "It's okay."

It was not okay with the baseship, who contacted them. "Rapter 175, you need to return here first," D'Anna ordered.

"Oh hell, here we go," he muttered and opened his own channel. "D'Anna, It's okay. I can go there first. We're all going to Earth. Please, trust me."

There was silence for a moment and then D'Anna answered, "Of course, Sam. We put our faith in you."

"You'll see Earth, D'Anna," he reassured her and shut the channel. Then his head snapped up and Kara was startled by the nearness of a Raider gliding right above them. It was staring at them, at Sam, the usually sweeping red sensor 'eye' fixed on Sam.

They… communed or whatever it was they did, before the Raider took off, a squadron of companions following.

"What was that about?" Kara asked.

"Insurance," he answered.

She knew what that had to mean. "You gave it the coordinates to Earth?"

"Didn't have to. The hybrid knows where it is -- when I saw the coordinates, I remembered I'd seen them before in her datastream. But Cerberus will pass on my order to jump there, if the Fleet goes without them."

"How does she know?" Kara asked and then realized that wasn't even the important question, and demanded irritably, "If she knows, then what the hell was all the rest of this for? We could've just asked her."

He laughed, with more than a touch of bitterness. "Hey, I gave up on the 'why' of it when someone who looked like you appeared in my cell and told me I had some sort of frakking destiny."

She shot him a look, surprised at this sudden revelation that he'd had an experience just like hers. "Someone who looked like me?"

He got all embarrassed, fiddling with the thigh strap of his flight suit. "Yeah, I know she wasn't you, and she was some sort of… well, I think she was actually one of the Lords of Kobol." He cleared his throat. "Anyway-"

"One of the Lords of Kobol?" she repeated, thinking back to her "Sam" who'd then turned into Leoben when she'd told him to stop looking like Sam. But she'd never considered that whoever he was he might be one of the Lords.

Sam mistook her surprise, and said, rolling his eyes, "I know, that sounds like the most ridiculously arrogant thing, doesn't it? One of the Lords of Kobol was talking to me," he said mockingly. "It's one thing to get visions and another to get a personal visit, isn't it? And I don't know that's what she was. But she was some sort of messenger, that much I know. And she looked like you."

"That's so weird," she muttered. He'd had the same experience. Maybe at the same time.

"No kidding," he agreed with a snort. "Let's get to Galactica and move this party before someone does something stupid."

As she maneuvered the Raptor she thought about what he'd said, feeling a little chilled to think that she'd had the personal attention of a Lord of Kobol. Had she actually frakked one of the gods? She'd thought it had been Sam, that maybe he'd been touching her dreams somehow. But now it seemed… more strange, almost frightening. She glanced at Sam, wondering if she should tell him, then back at the controls as the LSO came over the wireless.

The deck was pandemonium. The news had leaked. There was a huge crowd gathered, held back by marines who could barely keep their own eyes off the Raptor. Everyone from Roslin and the Admiral on down was waiting for them.

"Ready?" Kara asked with a grin.

"Go ahead." He gestured for her to go first and punched the hatch open.

The cheering hit her like something physical weight - people shouting and yelling and applauding as soon as the hatch cracked open and getting louder when she came out. It was an amazing, buoying feeling, washing away all the bitterness at people's suspicion, and she was smiling as she jumped down to the deck.

With Sam at her side, she approached the knot of officers and her smile widened as she told the Admiral, "Sorry I'm late. We got a little side-tracked."

"Apparently," he said dryly, and his gaze flicked from her to Sam and back. "You were at Earth? Again?"

"No hallucination, this time. I swear. We have coordinates," she announced. "Actual coordinates to an actual planet. And we both saw it, and we took video." Next to her, Sam nodded his agreement, and it was so great to have back up for the claim this time.

"What's it like?" Roslin asked.

"Oceans, land, clouds," Kara answered. "We didn't have fuel to land, but it looked beautiful."

The murmur that spread out from that was like a wave, people repeating it: beautiful. Earth is beautiful.

Then there was another wave of cheering that followed, completely drowning out everything that Adama or Roslin tried to say, until the admiral gestured for everyone to move off the deck.

There was some protest from the crowd, but soon they were out of there and on their way to the conference room. There was standing room only there, with others joining them: Tigh and Gaeta from the bridge, Tyrol, even Cottle, and Adama glanced around as if he wanted to dismiss everyone but gave in with a shake of his head.

"Starbuck?" he invited.

She shrugged. "It's like I said. We went to Earth. I did a blind jump from the Hub and there's no way we could've made that whole distance in one jump, but we did. We arrived on the outskirts of the system. It's got water, atmosphere, land… "

"Communications?" Gaeta asked. "Did they contact you?"

"No," she answered. "There was no wireless contact. But we didn't stay long - we knew we had to get back with the news."

"Earth," Roslin said, and although she spoke quietly, her voice silenced the gathering. She looked to the admiral and smiled. "So it turns out we've found it after all."

"And we better go soon," Lee added, "or there's going to be a riot."

At Kara's side she felt Sam tense, as Roslin turned to face him, and Kara felt herself grow tense too, imagining how this was going to play out: she was going to declare the Cylons weren't welcome, and he was going to make his counter-play that he'd already given them the coordinates, and it was going to get ugly…

Roslin's gaze met his. "Yes, the rebel Cylons can come." There were a few shocked gasps at that. But she didn't let anyone speak, "I'm not such a fool that I can't ignore what the gods are clearly telling us, but… there's going to be a cost to us all for this choice."

"The cost is greater if you don't," he said softly.

"I'm not so sure of that, but the decision's made," she declared and raised her chin. "I am declaring a general amnesty for the rebel Cylons - the ones on that basestar and on this ship." Sam's look of astonishment turned into a spreading grin as she confirmed with a smile, "Yes, especially Thea. Let's get her and your child out of that cell. And Admiral, make this Fleet ready to jump to Earth at your soonest possible convenience."

"Yes, Madam President," he confirmed formally, but with an approving smile.

"Tory," she addressed Tory, who started to be addressed as if her mind had been elsewhere. "I need to set up a Fleet-wide press conference right away. We need to announce the destruction of the Hub, and this new discovery."

"Yes, ma'am." For a moment she looked as if she wanted to add something, but glanced at Sam and turned away. Kara wondered if she was thinking of objecting to Thea coming out of the brig.

Kara kind of wanted to, also, even though she knew it was only her selfishness speaking. Let him go, you moron. You're not some teenager; you can frak whoever you want and Samuel T Anders can take his toaster girlfriend and make toaster babies, because he's one, too.

He certainly disappeared fast enough, without a backward glance, as the meeting broke up.

Lee came over to her, and he smiled at her, happy to see her, and she smiled back. He said, taking a deep breath, "I can't believe you found Earth, for real, Kara. We're actually going to Earth."

"So little faith in me, huh?" she retorted, grinning.

He laughed a little. "Plenty in you - it's mythical planets I was having a problem with." Then his expression darkened and he said more softly, looking troubled, "Taking the Cylons, too-- Kara, I don't know. That's going to be trouble."

"When isn't there?" she shrugged. "We have to, Lee. We found it together; so we go together. We make peace. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of war."

His smile was quick but bright and he shrugged his suit jacket, lifting up the shoulders and drawing her attention. "Way ahead of you."

"Yeah, what is that monkey suit all about?" she demanded. "You still haven't told me."

He laughed with a little discomfort, "Well, that's a funny story …"

Sam hurried toward the brig, amazed how only a few hours and different rumors changed everything.

"Is it true, you saw Earth?" was the common question full of hope and excitement.

"Yes, yes, it's true. The President will make an announcement shortly," he answered, again and again, not stopping to talk, wanting to be there as Thea was freed.

The outer door opened for him, and he saw Sergeant Wilkes there, smiling. "Lieutenant, we just got word from CIC. If you'll follow me."

She took the keys with her and he followed her first to Thea's cell, unlocking the outer door, where she was playing with Iris, lying on her back and holding the baby up in the air as if she was flying. She looked up as the door opened and sat up, recognizing her visitors. "Sam! You're back!"

"Better than that."

Wilkes went to the door and opened it wide. "By order of President Roslin, the Cylon known as Thea has amnesty and is to be set free," she declared formally. And then she added, with a smile and jerk of her head, "Come on out. You're free."

Thea's delight brightened her face to an incandescent glow and she hurried to the open doorway, paused on the threshold and then took a deliberate step across it. Then she was in his arms, Iris clutched between them. "You said you'd do it, and you did, Sam. Thank you," she murmured.

"This isn't all. We found Earth, Thea. Kara and I jumped from the Hub and we were taken to Earth, and I want you to see it with me. After everything you've suffered for me, you deserve to be there first."

She glanced up, eyes shining and lips parted in wonder. "You saw it? What was it like?"

"Beautiful," he answered. "Clouds, and ocean and I know -- I've seen -- " he closed his eyes so he could see it from his visions, "there's a city by the shore, and tall buildings and a fountain, and it smells of flowers…"

"It sounds wonderful," she murmured and laid her head back on his shoulder.

Someone had a sense of humor, Kara thought, as she took her seat on the Raptor to go down -- not only were Sharon and Helo piloting, but Sam and Thea were in the seats across from her, and Leoben was next to her. Leoben glanced at her across to Sam and then smiled to himself, as if he knew a secret. It made Kara want to smack him, and she held herself stiffly so her shoulder wouldn't brush his.

She gave a tight nod to the couple across the way. "Where's the rugrat?"

Thea smiled. "Caprica asked to care for her while we're gone."

"She won't even notice you're gone then," Kara said, meaning it as a bit of a joke but Sam took some offense.

"Iris knows the difference," he said stiffly.

Thea put a hand on his leg and smiled at Kara. "Caprica can't feed her for one thing. But Sam's right, she knows Caprica isn't her mother, though we're both Sixes."

That was interesting. Sort of weird, but she was getting used to weirdness. "Hey, Agathons!" Kara called. "Have you tried Hera with another Eight? Can she tell the difference?"

Helo leaned out of his chair to turn around and frown at her. "No, why would we?"

"Aren't you curious? Iris can tell and she's a baby. So I wondered if Hera could too." What she was really curious about was whether Hera, as a hybrid, kept the talent, or if it was reserved for pure Cylons.

Sharon's voice floated back. "She can project, so I think she can."

"She can?" Thea exclaimed in delight, and clapped her hands once, grinning. "That's wonderful, Sharon."

"Project?" Kara repeated, and at that moment realized she was the only one on the Raptor who didn't know, since even Helo wasn't asking about it.

"Imaginary surroundings," Sam explained. "The baseship is boring, but Cylons can project different surroundings to change its appearance. Like a daydream but it persists held by the subconscious."

"That sounds confusing," Kara said.

"It's useful when you're stuck in a place you don't want to be," he answered in such a casual voice that Kara forgot what he was talking about, until she noticed Thea take his hand in a comforting gesture. He didn't seem to notice, going on, "But yeah, it's odd. I thought it was a sign of my insanity the first time it happened to me."

"So you can do it?" she asked.

"Actually I think everyone can," he answered, earning curious surprised looks from Leoben and Thea. "But humans can only access it easily while asleep."

They were surprised by a sudden footsteps coming up and into the hatch. Tory came in first, remarkably calm at the sight of all the Cylons inside. "Sorry, some last minute shifting around."

"But we're ready to go," Dee added following her in, and punching the button to shut the hatch. Kara realized Dee wasn't a rated ECO and got up to sit at the station, to offer up her seat. Dee glanced nervously at Leoben, who smiled at her with an attempt at what Kara thought was supposed to be bland reassurance, but looked like he was flirting.

"All right," Sharon called, "Everyone strap in, we're next in line to launch."

The Raptor took off and headed through space to the planet beneath them. Kara asked once, trying to break the tense silence, "Hey, Sam, is Cerberus out there?"

He shook his head. "Somewhere, but he doesn't know I'm leaving Galactica. Probably just as well, I'm sure a squadron of Raiders following us would make people nervous."

Kara agreed with that, but found she kind of missed knowing they had the protection. Then she laughed to herself, Raiders as protection. You're as nuts as Sam is, you know that?

As they hurtled through the atmosphere, and the ship started to shake violently, Kara clutched the arms of the chair, praying: Let this place be our new home, let this be a place we can finally rest and have peace. And let us get to the ground in one piece, because that would really be stupid to come all this way and turn into a fireball this close to the end

The rattle and heat eased as they were through, and Kara heard some breaths of relief. Then murmurs from the cockpit, Helo and Athena talking in low voices and Athena's voice louder on the wireless, "We'll follow you in, Raptor One, on your lead."

"Here we go," Helo said, and his voice seemed too tight. Kara cast a worried glance at him, recognizing that tone as Helo knowing something was wrong. It made her turn her chair to look at the sensor readouts.

Saline oceans, proper mix of atmosphere which meant that green stuff was definitely oxygenating plant-life, and … no wireless transmissions. No television broadcasts, no radio, no attempt to contact . Or each other, even if the Thirteenth Tribe didn't know they had visitors.

Her stomach went tight in a sudden dread, and she glanced at Sam. Thirteenth Tribe. Suddenly she remembered what he'd said at the confrontation when she'd first heard his voice after emerging from the gas cloud and seeing the battle laid before her: "last of the Thirteenth Tribe." The phrase seemed suddenly ominous. Because Earth should be the home of the Thirteenth, and if he was the last -- where were they?

But he didn't look anxious, as if that had occurred to him. He looked hopeful, even eager. His eyes were shining and he had a smile playing at his mouth, as he clutched Thea's hand. "We're going home," he murmured to her and Kara felt sick.

Oh no, please tell me this isn't true; he has to be right, that this is here and we'll be able to see them… She worked at the sensors, and it didn't take long to realize as they passed over the dark side that there were no lights of civilization. No, maybe it's just sparsely populated. Gaeta said they'd found the site of a city, exactly the location as written in the Book of Pythia.

But as the ship descended, the sick feeling in her gut persisted, twisting into nausea. She watched the sensors, turned away from the rest of the cabin, praying this was wrong.

The engines roared as they slowed for landing, and like a voice pronouncing doom, she heard Sharon's quiet voice of horror and dismay, "Oh, my God."

With a thud and a shudder, they were down. The hatch started opening immediately, and a swirl of cold air entered, immediately sucking out the heat. "Agathons!" Kara complained.

"You might as well see it for yourselves," Helo said in a quiet, subdued voice.

Kara was first in the open hatchway and almost immediately forgot that she should put her jacket on, as she stared.

There had once been a city here, but it was gone. Destroyed.

There were ruined buildings in the distance, a whole lot of sand, a broken bridge, and beyond that grey water reflecting the grey sky. As the engine noise dwindled away, the silence crept in, oppressive.

Tory crowded up behind her. "Oh my gods," she whispered.

"What, let me see," Dee said, and moving automatically, Kara walked down to put her boots on the ground. There was life here in the trees in the opposite direction, but no people. The wind whistled through the grass, cold and lonely, as if people hadn't been here in a long, long time.

"Look, I need to show you the Temple," Sam said in an eager voice, so at odds with their bleak surroundings it broke through Kara's dismay, and she watched as he offered his hand to Thea to help her down and they started toward the ruins.

"Sam…" Thea objected half-heartedly, but followed.

Kara went after them, the others behind her.

He seemed to know exactly where he was going, leading them through tumbled masonry and low weedy hills covered with thin layers of sand and dirt. Soon his destination became fairly obvious, as there was a high partial stone or concrete wall still standing that from the arched windows had been a temple or other important building.

He led them up what had once been the central aisle to the end where the sanctuary should have been, but there was a pile of rubble now, including a large chunk of the roof dome.

"I've come home," Sam whispered, turning around and looking upward, as if there was something up there besides overcast sky. "It's so beautiful."

Kara ignored the shiver up her spine and demanded tartly, with a wave of her hand, "What the frak are you talking about? It's a frakking wasteland."

But his return frown was puzzled. "What?" he asked, genuinely not understanding.

She gestured. "It was wrecked a long time ago, Sam. When it got nuked."

"But we're inside - the temple -- is -- " He frowned upward, as if his eyes were tracing the curves of the dome, and shook his head. He put his hand up as if only now feeling the cold wind. "Don't you see the -- there's…. " His voice trailed off, as he blinked rapidly. He turned in a circle again, mouth open and eyes wide in horror as if he had truly not seen the planet in all its wasteland glory before. His hand went out as if to catch something. "No!"

His gaze lifted up to the broken bridge that loomed over the temple ruins and he stared at it, trying to imprint the image on his eyes. "Is it all like this?" he asked in a small, tight voice.

"Worse than Caprica," Kara answered. She wanted to move toward him, but her feet seemed glued to the sand. Her voice came out flat, harsher than she meant. "It's all dead."

He flinched. "I saw," he whispered. Looking more anguished, he turned desperate eyes on the ruins, turning again slowly, taking in the piles of rubble and broken walls. "But I was seeing it as it was. Oh God… it's all gone."

His steps grew unsteady, and his knees buckled, pulling him down. His hands clutched at the dirt, shoulders bent, and she could barely hear his voice. "This is all I get?" he whispered. "After everything, this is all there is?"

Kara still couldn't move. She stared, as fear made her heart seem to choke her. She felt something brush her arm as Thea rushed past to kneel at his side.

She put an arm across his shoulders and pulled him close. "Sam… Sam… you're okay," she murmured. "It's all right. We're here."

Watching the Cylon do what Kara couldn't, made her want to walk away, but she stayed, watching.

"I saw," he repeated, desperately. "I didn't know it was the past. I didn't know…"

"Sam," Kara found her feet moving toward him again, even though she had no idea what to say. "Nobody knew. I didn't either. This isn't your fault."

He didn't seem to hear her. "I thought I knew -- I thought I understood. But now I remember... Now I know. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," he said the words as if they were torn from his soul, pleading for a forgiveness he thought would never come.

"Shush," Thea murmured and wrapped her arms around him, cradling his head against her chest and stroking his hair. She did it with the ease of someone who had done it before, and suddenly Kara hated her with an intensity she found dizzying. She had stolen all these moments that should've belonged to Kara. Thea said to him, "We'll get through this." Her gaze flicked up to Kara, and she said, "All of us."

He shook his head in fierce denial, but didn't say anything else as Thea held him and tried to comfort him.

Kara felt someone by her side and turned, half-expecting Lee. But it was Leoben, who was also looking down at Sam and murmured, "He projected himself inside a lie, hiding from memories of yet another world burned to ash."

Because he had known - in some part of him he had known it was gone, Kara thought. He had tried to hold it off, projecting the world as he had seen it in his visions, believing he was seeing the present, but it had been the past. The long-dead past if the weathering of the ruins was any indication.

She walked away, heading for the water line and looked out at the city ruins on the opposite side of the inlet. Leoben followed.

"You're not surprised," she observed without turning.

"I'm disappointed, of course," he allowed. "But no, I'm not surprised. I suspected as much. We will not find paradise so easily."

"Easily?" she demanded and turned to him, incensed. "What the frak are you talking about? The Colonies were destroyed, the Cylons got mortal -- if that's easy, then what the hell is 'hard'?"

"We do not yet know all the truth, and we have not yet faced our enemies," he answered. "We haven't tested our alliance."

"I guess not," she agreed heavily, with a sigh. "So is this going to be New Caprica all over again - we all live in tents and try to get along, and it all falls apart and then the others come and it goes to hell again?"

"This isn't home," he said, and if that was an answer she thought it was a pretty poor one. But probably true.

She shook her head a little and fixed her eyes back on the tumbled buildings across the way. "Not home. And yet…" she said softly. He waited patiently until she continued, "It feels like home. It feels like I've been here before." It wasn't a sound, not exactly, but she felt it again, faintly, what she'd felt to find this place. She turned and started back the way she'd come, walking swiftly.

Leoben followed, but she paid him no attention, caught up in her need to follow this … whatever it was. This way. It was this way.

She left the landing zone behind, heading east into the deeper wilderness past any visible ruins. The grass grew higher here, sheltered from the wind by a stand of trees.

She thought later that she should've known. Somehow she should've known what she would find, but that was only because she knew the gods were cruel and had a vicious sense of humor.

She found a port engine first, and some fragments that looks like part of a Viper's wing, scorched by fire. Then tangled in some high weeds, she found a piece of the tail with a number on it.

Holding the metal in her hands, she stared at it while her insides turned to ice. It was her Viper's number. "No," she murmured, shaking her head in denial, "no, this can't be true. This is mine. This is my Viper number."

"You have been here before," Leoben murmured.

She shook her head in denial, "No, no, this is impossible!"

In the failing light she saw a bright flash, like a reflection of the sun off metal or glass, and burst into a run toward it, frantically hoping it was something else. It had to be something else. It wasn't.

But it was a Viper cockpit, almost complete, except the canopy was gone to expose the pilot inside. Still seated within was a corpse of a pilot with a helmet and a charred Colonial flightsuit, and straw colored hair.

"No," she murmured. "It can't be." Her stomach clenched, threatening to spill its contents, and she whirled to Leoben desperately, demanding, "What does it mean? What is that? Who am I?"

He stared at her, then the corpse, and his eyes went wide, and he shook his head in disbelief. "I -- I don't know," he murmured,, taking a step back away from her. "I -- I am not the one to ask. I'm sorry."

Astonished, she watched as he hurried away.

"Run away, frakking toaster! Just run away like a coward!" she yelled after him but he didn't even flinch, and soon was out of sight.

She turned back to the Viper and it was a punch in the gut to find dogtags at the throat of the flightsuit. Yet it wasn't a surprise at all, when she rubbed the soot off one of the tags, to find her own name.

I was here. This was me. So what am I?

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.
noybusiness: Leoben/Anders/Starbuck threesomenoybusiness on March 20th, 2014 12:59 pm (UTC)
Great going!
lizardbeth: Anders-Kara - distancelizardbeth_j on March 20th, 2014 07:05 pm (UTC)