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03 April 2014 @ 08:39 pm
Black Sails at Dawn, Chapter 17  

When Kara entered the conference room, it was already getting crowded. Apparently word had gotten out that Sam had something to tell the Admiral and Roslin, and everyone wanted to know what it was. So not only were there a lot of people in the room, but they were hopeful, which made her nervous because Sam had been gloomy on the surface, consumed by what he knew, until he'd stood up and walked away from the fire without a word. It wasn't good news.

There were a lot of Cylons there, too, Kara saw to her surprise. They were gathered in a group to one side, and at first she thought it was because they were worried about the humans, but then realized they were all gathered around Iris, watching the baby as if she was doing something remarkable like calculus or reciting poetry instead of sleeping.

Helo was also in the room, with Gaeta and Tigh, Lee and Dualla -- which made Kara wonder if they'd left Hoshi alone in CIC.

Sam was already in the room, but he wasn't with the Cylons, standing in the corner alone, looking vaguely ill and worn. His eyes met hers briefly and he tried to smile a greeting, but then his gaze flicked away to the hatch as Roslin came in with Tory's help.

The president looked terrible - frail and defeated as Kara had never seen her before. Even when the Admiral jumped up to help her to a chair, she barely smiled at him. Kara prayed Sam wouldn't hurt her more badly with whatever his news was.

Sam stirred himself from the corner to greet her and Kara moved nearer to listen. "Thank you for coming, President Roslin."

Roslin looked up at him. "I wasn't sure I should, since the last time I listened to you we found a dead planet. But Tory insisted you have important new information."

His eyes flicked around the room, and he gave a nod to someone entering. Kara turned to see he'd acknowledged Playa Palacios, who took the chair Tigh vacated for her. Apparently, Sam was intending to tell, not just the Fleet leaders, but everyone.

"I do," he answered. "I learned something you all need to hear."

"From a vision?" Roslin asked skeptically.

"No. From my memories. But I didn't remember it until I was there again." He waited until Palacios took out her recording equipment and gave him a nod that she was ready. He moved to the center of the room and inhaled a deep breath, and the room fell quiet.

"I'm going to tell you all a story. This story is true - I know it, because I was there. I lived it. The truth was hidden from me, my memories altered, but on Earth I remembered what had been hidden from me. You all know that I'm a Cylon, one of the Final Five, last of the Thirteenth Tribe, because I already told you that. What you don't know - and what I didn't know until yesterday- is what that means.

"So I'm going to start with the Thirteenth Tribe's journey from Kobol to Earth, and move toward our present. And I'm going to tell you truths that no one in this room or in this fleet, Human or Cylon, has known for more than fifty years."

Kara couldn't look away as he told the story of how religious opposition to resurrection led to the sabotage of their resurrection chambers, forcing them to all return to procreation as they settled Earth. Then the story got darker as war came to Earth and Centurions were created, because the people valued their lives too much, having only one. Five scientists came together to recreate resurrection, warned by greater beings that worse war and death were coming.

"But just as they did in the Colonies, the Centurions gained self-awareness," Sam said quietly. "And as in the Colonies, they rebelled. What had been war, became annihilation. We five were killed in a nuclear blast that destroyed the capital; we resurrected on the Colony. By the time we awoke, it was over. The planet was dead. Everyone was dead. We were… alone."

The room was utterly silent as Sam's voice choked on the last word, and he looked down, throat working. Kara felt frozen, stricken by the realization of what being one of the "Final Five" actually meant. It meant being one of five people left alive - not fifty thousand of the Fleet, but five. She shook her head, unable to imagine the loneliness.

From the group of Cylons, she heard Thea exclaim sadly, "Oh, Sam."

He glanced her way, unshed tears making his eyes bright, then he swallowed hard and took a deep breath, returning his voice to calm. "Then the messengers came to us again, telling us to find our lost cousins of the Twelve Tribes because it would happen again. So we began our long journey, traveling subluminal because the ship had no jump drive, heading back to Kobol. We arrived at the Colonies," he glanced at the admiral, and said with deliberation, "In the tenth year of the first Cylon War."

There were gasps at that, even one torn from Kara's throat as she realized: Sam looked in his thirties, but he was much older than that. He had been in the Colonies when her mother had been young.

But Adama nodded thoughtfully and said, "It was you. That's why they stopped."

Sam nodded back. "Yes. We made an arrangement with the Centurions - they would stop the war and withdraw, and in exchange, we would create them the more human-form bodies they wanted, and gift them with resurrection." Then in case they didn't understand yet, he looked at the Cylons and said, "The Five of us made you - in our image like us, from genetics we saved from our world. This world."

"You're the makers," D'Anna breathed. "The creators."

"Our parents," Caprica said, looking just as stunned.

Thea was staring at him, and Kara thought she looked strangely sad.

Sam went on, "We wanted to recreate our families, the Thirteen Tribe, to have our people around us again. And then, we planned to return to the Colonies, in peace, so we could all live together." He paused, and his eyes flickered with dark memories. "It didn't happen that way. Our first creation was John, the model you know as Cavil. At first he helped us with the others. We thought he had developed enough, but inside, he was still a child. He grew jealous of his siblings especially model seven, Daniel, who was gentle and kind and brilliant with art and music. John hated the idea that we wanted peace with the humans, who he saw as inferior, and most of all, he grew to hate us. So he made his plans and on one terrible day, he murdered his brother, and then he lured the five of us into an airlock and killed us. While he held us in resurrection stasis, he also killed the rest of his siblings so he could erase from them any knowledge of the Five or their missing brother.

"And then," he took a deep breath, "John sent us into the Colonies, our memories blocked, to live as humans, while he planned the destruction of the Colonies and annihilation of humanity. Something he intended the five of us to have front-row seats for, to punish us." He hesitated, and his hands fisted at his sides, brow knitting in pain. "I believe he caused the Carvarthon avalanche specifically to plant me there. I know that must seem ridiculous to be upset about that, when the attacks killed so many, but that was two thousand people he killed just so I'd spend three days buried under rock and snow. I …" his voice faltered, before he forced himself to continue, "I can only say, I still don't understand how he went so wrong, got so twisted and hateful. And 'I'm sorry' isn't enough, I know it will never be enough, but ultimately his existence and therefore all his actions are my responsibility."

"Our responsibility," Tyrol declared and stepped forward to join Sam. He raised his head to look at the others. "I don't remember any of this, not like he does, but I do know I'm also one of the Five."

There were shocked murmurs at that revelation, but Kara didn't feel especially surprised. It seemed like something she already knew, a feeling that grew as he wasn't the only one to stand up and declare himself.

"And me," Tory said, and after a glance at Roslin, stood up to stand beside Galen.

In a soft voice, Tigh said, "I'm sorry, Bill." Then he walked over to join them, glaring fiercely at the gathering. "I've been a Colonial officer for twenty years, that's true. That's who I am. I'm not a scientist, I don't remember any of this, but I do know I'm one of these Final Five, too. And Ellen, my wife, was the fifth."

The buzz after that was immense, that the XO was a Cylon, and the Admiral looked as though someone had kicked him in the gut.

When the wave of it had settled somewhat, Sam said, "I think that's all. Hell, it's probably too much to take in all at once, but I wanted you to know. I know relations are difficult right now, but at least you know the truth. I'm sure you have questions. They," he glanced at the other three, "can't help you, but I'll answer whatever I can."

Some stayed to ask questions, but Kara hurried from the room, needing the air.

Sam wasn't who she'd thought. It wasn't that he was a Cylon, that part didn't even matter anymore, but now he remembered this whole other life. He was different. She hadn't seen it as much at the fire, too consumed with herself, but standing there, he wasn't the same Sam Anders. He'd been certain, and that felt strange after Sam being unsure of so much. But not just the strangeness, but what he'd said: he had been in the Colonies. He'd ended the first Cylon war, for frak's sake. Hell, without him doing that, she might not even exist because her mother had been on the front lines.

Someone brushed against her hard, and Kara snapped, "Hey!" Before realizing it was someone familiar. "Oh. Sharon." Then came the belated realization that the Eight wasn't in uniform and had to be one of the others. "Sorry, I thought you were Athena. I know you're not all Sharon."

"It's okay, Kara. I am Sharon," she said. "Sorry I bumped you."

Boomer wasn't looking at her, and her voice was low and distant, and she looked unhappy.

"What's wrong?" Kara asked, then wondered why she was even asking.

"I -- Galen's one of the Five," she murmured, shoulders slumping and looking disheartened.

Kara frowned, curious that Sharon still had a thing for Chief, and even more curious why his being a Cylon was terrible. "I would've thought that'd be good news. At least you don't have to worry about him hating you, right? He's like you now."

Sharon shook her head. "No, you don't understand. He's one of the makers, the creators, Kara. He's not like me. Not at all. You heard Sam, too -- we're their children. It's … weird. Isn't it weird?"

"I guess it would be," Kara agreed. "It's weird to think about. They have this other life."

"I had no idea," Sharon murmured. "I feel like I should've known, like I should've felt it when Galen and I were together. But hell, I didn't even know what I was. And when Sam told us he was one of the Five, that seemed so miraculous, and now it's…"

"Ordinary?" Kara asked, wryly, thinking Sharon seemed disappointed.

"I suppose. I mean, it's wonderful to know our history, but I--" Sharon checked whatever she was planning to say and let out another sigh of resignation. "It sounds stupid, but it felt special to think Sam was chosen and we were chosen by God through him. But we can't be chosen by God when we're only reclaiming what we should've been all along, right?" Her hands bunched to fists at her thighs as if she wanted to punch something hard. "I hate Cavil, I knew he'd done horrible things, but I thought that was the worst of it. God, how could anyone be filled with such hate and evil? I don't understand it."

"Made wrong, I guess," Kara muttered in agreement. The Cylons were even more confused by the news than she was. Most humans probably wouldn't care about the history too much since it was all irrelevant now, but this news upended much of what the Cylons knew about themselves. All the secrets that had been kept from them.

"Yeah, no kidding." Boomer pulled in another breath and opened her hands. "Okay, I'm going back in. They might need my help."

Kara didn't go with her, wandering to the Memorial Hall, and looking at the photos of those lost to the Cylons. She wasn't the only one there, either, and tensed in case anyone recognized her. But if anyone did, she didn't face any angry confrontations; she saw only hopelessness and numb loss.

They'd found Earth and it was not only no paradise - it wasn't even home. The gods had tricked them, and the gift of the truth seemed a poor consolation.

She lit a candle under Cally's picture, but she didn't pray to the gods. They didn't deserve her prayers.

The day after Earth, Sam was starting to feel less as if his head wanted to explode. There had been so many questions, many of which he still couldn't answer, including the worst one of where to go now.

Playa Palacios had re-broadcast his entire speech with some summary of the follow up questions. He'd agreed to go on Colonial Gang to discuss Earth and the First Cylon War tomorrow. It didn't help erase the despair of having no path and no goal left, now that Earth had been found destroyed, but it seemed to offer some distraction at least. It didn't seem enough, but it was all he could offer. He was the only one who remembered, so it fell on him. So he answered questions, and told the important truths.

But not everything. A few things he held onto, unwilling to share the burden. There was more than enough.

He started to be able to think of more than the past, and went to find Adama in his quarters. He tried not to mind the guards, knowing he was still suspect and dangerous, and stood at something like attention. "Admiral."

"Lieutenant." Then Adama hesitated. "That seems… wrong, somehow. You're more than that now."

Sam's hand rose to cover the tags. "I… I'll resign if you want me to, of course," he murmured, feeling stricken. "Because you're right, being a pilot is somewhere down the list of things I can help you with. But I don't think it hurts to have me, and therefore all the Cylons, under your command."

Adama snorted. "You've never been under my command, Anders. Whatever you answer to, it isn't me. Never has been." Sam couldn't argue with that either, giving a bit of a wry smile of acknowledgment. "But all right," the Admiral said, "you have a point. We'll keep the appearance of it. Have a seat." As Sam sat in the chair on the opposite side, Adama put down his pen and regarded him. "I saw those experiments the Cylons were doing in the First War. They were trying to create some sort of human-cylon hybrid."

"We saw them, too. They were terrible," Sam said, blinking back the memories. So many failed, horrific experiments. "That's one reason we made our offer."

The other reason being that they hadn't had much choice but make the best deal they could. The Colony had been boarded by Colonial Centurions. The Five had been very careful, since numbers and strength had been stacked against them and they remembered how easily their own Centurions had turned against them.

"We had tissue samples and gene sequences of family and friends, so we didn't need Humans," he added quietly. "We wanted our people to live again, even if they were only pale reflections of people we'd lost. Maybe we'd have recognized what was happening earlier if they'd looked like strangers."

Or, really, if John hadn't looked like Ellen's father, maybe then Sam would've tried harder with him, instead of remembering how much he'd hated the bastard every time he looked at John's face. He wished futilely for a drink, knowing he could never wash this away, and rubbed his face.

Adama frowned at him. "I appreciate you're taking responsibility, but I don't think you should take it all, Anders. We - the Colonies- made the Centurions and sparked that war on our own. You wouldn't have needed to intervene if we'd treated them well in the first place."

Sam shrugged. That was true, but it didn't take away his fault and failure with John.

Adama didn't pursue it. "But I don't think you came here to talk about those days."

"Funnily enough you're one of the few I could," Sam pointed out. "But no. I came to warn you that you should move the Fleet. I realized today John must know where Earth is. He's always held the Colony and it was never a secret there."

"He could come here?"

"He's probably already on the way." Sam leaned forward clasping his hands earnestly. "He hates us. And I mean not just me, Tory, Galen and Saul - but the rebels and the Humans. Everyone. He's probably furious at the thought of Iris existing, especially after blowing the Hub. We shouldn't stay here."

Adama laid down his pencil and leaned back. "Where do we go?"

"Anywhere, away from here."

"So you have no… messages? Visions?" Adama asked, and the very level gruff voice didn't cover the distaste for having to follow invisible paths and feelings from the gods.

"No. Nothing. Maybe finding Earth was all I was used for. And I don't recall anything about the local star systems, unfortunately." He hesitated, realizing the Colony had taken astronomical data on the voyage, especially in the acceleration phase when the distortion had been far less. "That data is all on the Colony."

"You think the Colony is a threat to us?"

"It didn't have weapons last I saw, but that was more than forty years ago. I'm sure it travels with baseships whether it's armed on its own or not."

Adama nodded, reluctantly. "It's going to be hard on the Fleet with no course. Supplies are running low, and unrest will become violent with no end in sight. We can't settle here, but we need to see if there's food here."

Sam shook his head, having not realized the situation was so dire. "Still, the Fleet's a sitting duck."

The Admiral's expression was enough of a clue that the obvious hadn't escaped him. "How much time do you think we have until Cavil's faction gets here?"

"I don't know that we have any," Sam answered. "I'm going to the baseship and see what I can get from the Hybrid." Not that he was looking forward to that, even with his memories intact. It was always a frightening, exhilarating yet agonizing experience.

Sam was at the hatch before Adama called, "Anders. Tell me, how old are you?"

Sam added it all up, "I was thirty-four on Earth. Twelve years subjective on the ship. Seven years creating the Eight. And about twenty in the Colonies that I remember." He smiled, teasing, "So yes, Admiral, I'm older than you are. And Saul is older than I am, though he doesn't remember it all."

Adama got a chagrined look on his face as if he hadn't expected Sam to figure out why he wanted to know, then shook his head and waved Sam out. Sam's amusement lasted until he was in the corridor. More than eighty years of memories, all linear now, all where they should be, and a body that felt half that, which was one of the blessings of resurrection. But then it occurred to him there was still a gap. What had happened to him in between John's airlock and waking underneath the avalanche? Had he not existed, sleeping in resurrection stasis? That seemed too merciful for John. Had Sam had another life he didn't remember in those twenty years? Had he endured several deaths and resurrections as John attempted to make the brain block work?

Then he sighed in resignation, figuring he knew more than enough already.

Kara went to the mess reluctantly, knowing she had to eat something. Though really it wasn't the food that sucked, though it did; the whole aura of the ship was terrible. People stared at her or glared, blaming her for this pit not being what they were promised until she wanted to punch them and yell back that it wasn't her fault the gods were cruel.

She got in line behind Narcho, who glanced at her and said nothing before returning to his bitching about tomorrow's assignment of running Cylons to ships of the Fleet. The rebels had volunteered, through Chief she'd heard, to help some of the ships that needed maintenance.

Duck, in front of Narcho, snorted. "You want to swap? I'm taking people fishing tomorrow, and that's some long tedious shit, man."

Her lips twitched in a smile. One of the Admiral's thoughts had been to test the fish in the hopes that if they couldn't live on Earth maybe they could find some food that wasn't horribly contaminated. Sam had offered locations of some prime fishing grounds two thousand years ago, which they were dispatching some smaller ships and Raptors to go down and try to net some samples.

Fish. Kara would kill to eat some fish, and she didn't even like fish.

Narcho muttered, "I'd rather be shooting Cylons."

Duck let out a sigh. "They're trying to help, Noel."

"Sure they are. Just like they helped on New Caprica. Or in the Colonies, where they killed everyone," Narcho retorted. "Why is it nobody remembers that?"

"Nobody's forgetting," Duck said. "But holding onto it doesn't do any good. Not when these weren't part of it."

"How do you know that?" Narcho demanded angrily. "Because Anders said so? He's not only a toaster frakker, and a toaster, he's the one who started the whole horror show by making the monsters in the first place. And you're gonna take his word for it?"

Kara had enough. She overturned her glass of water on Narcho's tray, making him jump out of the splash and swear. "Frak, Starbuck, what the hell?"

"Shut up," she snapped. "He also saved your ass how many times? He stopped the Cylon fleet at the Nebula. He tried to tell people not to go down to New Caprica, and nobody listened. And you know what, it's the gods who made all this happen, Narcho. Not him, not me -- the gods manipulated all of us. So be angry at them, not the people trying to help you, you ungrateful frakker."

She grabbed her tray and stalked over to the table with Dragon and Hotdog. "Are you two going to be a pain in my ass, too?" she demanded.

Hotdog's eyes flared with surprise and he shook his head. "No, Captain."

Dragon snorted and kept eating. When it wasn't pissing her off, she loved how he was so laid-back about everything.

Duck sat down next to her and told her in a quiet voice. "That's not the only time I've heard that. I was going to warn Sam, but I haven't seen him since this morning and he's not on the roster."

"He's on the baseship," she answered. She'd heard he'd taken Thea and the baby to visit his pet Raider. Inwardly she shook her head -- only Sam would want to take a baby to visit a Raider and not get locked up for insanity.

In the docking bay, Sam took Iris from Thea and walked across the deck to where Cerberus was waiting.

Cerberus noticed he was carrying something, and its emotions grew curious and excited, watching as Sam approached. Then standing within the circle of Cerberus' great wings, Sam unwrapped the blanket and held her in both hands around her tiny ribcage.

'This is my baby, my child, my offspring, she's my heart and my soul and I will die the day she does. There is nothing and no one in the universe I love more than her," he told Cerberus. "Iris, this is Cerberus, my friend."

She looked at the giant head of the Raider and grinned toothlessly, waving a fist and burbling happily.

And while before he'd always felt affection from Cerberus, for the first time, he felt something even stronger, as Cerberus reflected Sam's own love for Iris back at him. 'Yes, I love her. I need her safe.'

Cerberus' emotions grew intense and protective, as if in oath. Sam set Iris down on Cerberus' wing on her tummy and she started grabbing at the smooth metal, wriggling around curiously.

He watched, smiling. This told him Thea was right -- the past was in the past, and Iris was the future. He had to fix it all for her, give her a future without fear in life and without an ending in the void. Elysium for her, too.

"Sam!" Thea called and he turned.

Two Centurions were standing beside her, but looking at him. One of them, once it saw it had his attention, raised spidery claws in a distinct 'come here' gesture. Curious, since they rarely seemed to interact with any of the flesh models, he picked up Iris - who started to complain upset about being removed - and he hushed her against his chest, while approaching the Centurions.

"What's going on?" he asked Thea.

But she shook her head, just as puzzled. "I have no idea. I know what the others did to free them, but … this is just as odd to me. I think they want us to follow."

As they followed, Cerberus screeched and the Centurions faltered a step.

Thea leaned close and murmured, "Did Cerberus just warn the Centurions?"

Sam chuckled. "I think so."

She shook her head. "I suppose it's no wonder knowing who and what you are, now, but it's still amazing to me."

He shrugged. "It's new to me, too. There's nothing I remember about the Raiders being capable of this much independent reasoning. And I shouldn't be able to communicate with him at all; that's new." He glanced at her, thinking that he wished she was new, too. He shifted Iris to one arm and she grabbed at his hair, as they followed the Centurions into the lift.

One Centurion put one hand on the panel and the lift slowed and stopped, at what appeared to be between level fifteen and sixteen. The door slid open.

"Be careful," Thea urged, "We're between floors, and…" her voice trailed off as it was clear they were not actually between floors at all. The corridor was like any other, but dim and empty. "What is this place?" she asked stepping out and looking around. "This level can't exist."

One Centurion stepped out of the lift and planted itself there, to wait.

Sam and Thea moved down the corridor, curious. At first they passed an open and empty living chamber, containing a couch and a bed. Then at the next chamber, Sam poked his head in to check it. It was dark, but the lights came up at his movement and he saw a resurrection tub.

His chest seemed tight as he moved closer to look inside. There, floating in the milky water and sound asleep, was Saul Tigh.

"Sam!" Thea called distantly from another room. "I think I found Ellen!" He hurried to the chamber on the opposite side of the hall to stand next to Thea and look down. "She's so young…" Thea murmured.

Sam's voice was flat, as he explained what he knew, "John could stop the growth at any point. This is how I was a teenager on Picon."

Then he whirled around and ran from chamber to chamber until he found his own. And he stared at his own face, which looked close in age, feeling numb and sick. "Oh my God."

Thea stood at his shoulder. "So you could have resurrected before we destroyed the Hub," she murmured. "The Ones must have kept these secret levels on every baseship, in case one of you died."

"So he could resurrect us in secret. And he could wipe our memories and try again." His voice was like sand, and he couldn't blink, staring at the proof that everything he believed about John was true. It was horrifying to look at that blank face and know it was waiting there for John's cycle of torture to begin again.

"I know it's not you, but could you wake him up? He could be your brother?" she asked wistfully.

"No. They're empty shells. You and your siblings were created with the personality baseline matrix already a part of you, but the five of us developed ours organically. So that… it's just a body unless my memories are downloaded into it. We didn’t want to create duplicates of ourselves."

He handed Iris to Thea, bent down and pulled the power conduit from the back. The lights around the rim of the tub went dark and milky liquid turned utterly still.

"What are you doing?" She asked, sounding horrified as if he were murdering himself.

But he knew he wasn't. That thing in the tub wasn't a person and never would be. "No matter what happens with John, the Fleet, or resurrection for everyone else, this is it for me. No more cheating death."

Then bitterly, if only to himself and the gods, he added, I understand the lesson. I know what my destiny is, if only to stand before all of you and spit in your face.

The head slipped underneath the surface without a ripple until it was gone.

It wasn't any easier to give his hand to the Hybrid this time, Sam found. He still felt sick and his heart started to pound the instant he saw the chamber. Catching his breath seemed difficult.

Thea's hand closed on his arm. "Are you sure you should do this?"

"I need to find a planet or the Colony. It went okay last time," he said, more to convince himself of it than it actually being true. Brushing his fingers on Iris' cheek to remind himself of what was important, he inhaled a deep breath to settle his apprehension and walked across the deck to the Hybrid's tub.

The Hybrid's eyes found his and he knelt beside her.

Her physical form was adapted from samples of a co-worker at Dominion, he now remembered. The Centurions had wanted an improvement on their own attempt at a humanoid control center for the ship. He hadn't wanted to do it, not seeing the necessity for any physical form at all if there was a computer core, but the Centurions had insisted. They'd all received more than they ever expected.

He rubbed at his forehead, a seed of a headache already forming, then slipped his hand in the water to grab her hand.

The datastream opened up, one small room blossoming into the universe.

Earth. His home. Hung tantalizingly close. The ship. The past. It sucked him in, back and back, as the clouds swirled angrily and the storms raged for decade after decade, back and back, into deepest winter. The land and sea and clouds all were gray and lifeless, until he cried out in anguish, watching it die.

He shoved it away, unable to bear more, tossed on chaotic waves without direction. Piece by piece he recollected what he was supposed to be doing.

The Colony. Where is it?

He groped through the stream, like trying to catch a fish by hand. He brushed it, but it eluded him, wriggling free. Where are you? I know you're not that far away… He searched again, found it again, but it resisted his grip, pushing him away.

I'm the maker, you answer to me. Where are you?

But the other Hybrids, John's Hybrids, resisted him, blocking the Colony behind a net of their minds and they didn't obey. He could unpick the net, unravel the programming, but he was too far and it would take too long. Damn you John.

He turned away, and bit by bit, pulled himself back in, tighter and smaller, until he could step out.

The ceiling lights seemed too bright as he opened his eyes, finding himself on his back. Thea hovered over him, her expression worried. "How are you?"

He sat up, stomach heaving with sudden nausea at the movement and his head pounded. "I think that went better."

Her hand was gentle on the back of his neck. "I still don't like seeing you hurt like that."

"I'm okay." He straightened, hoping his headache would pass if he ignored it. "The Colony has multiple Hybrids. They're defending the datastream and don't listen to me."

Thea sat back, settling Iris in the basin of her crossed legs and Iris gummed at her fist with slurping sounds and looking all around with big, curious eyes. "How is that possible? Shouldn't they all listen and obey you?"

"There's some sort of programming firewall. I could break it, but it would take time and would probably warn John that one of us is aware again. That might be the only advantage we have, so I don't think I should spend it so soon."

"So you don't know where it is?"

He shook his head a little, wincing at the resulting throb, and shrugged instead. "No. Not specifically. It can't be too far, though. This side of the Temple, I'm sure. Struggling with them meant I couldn't sift the datastream for a new planet either." He let out a sigh, realizing his head was killing him for nothing.

"I wonder," she said softly, glancing down at Iris. "I know we need food, but how could we dare to settle with the Ones and the rest still out there?"

"We couldn't," he agreed and stared across the room blankly, remembering those first days on the Colony with John. He'd been their first, their success, their son … until he'd become their failure. "I have to end him."

He started at the touch of her hand atop his. "We," she corrected. "We have to end him. All of us."

His lips made a wry smile and he pulled away. "Now if only I had the least frakking idea of how to do that."

"You'll find a way," she declared. "But I think you need rest first. You have that interview with the reporters tomorrow." He groaned and she laughed. "That's what you get for telling a reporter that you have a secret."

He took Iris to help Thea get to her feet, and her eyes met his, smiling slowly. "This is our baseship," she reminded him. "With our bed…"

The panic was instantaneous: near revulsion swept through him, followed by the harsh reminder that she wasn't the same. It wasn't the same. It wasn't wrong.

But the memory of a sweet smile and shining eyes as she proudly showed him the first small fruit forming on her very own plant in the Colony's garden made the thought of going to bed with her impossible, no matter how many times he reminded himself that Thea wasn't the Six he'd thought of as his daughter. She was a mother, not a daughter. She wasn't a child.

None of it meant a damn thing to the anxious coils in his stomach. He licked dry lips, and found an excuse. "I -- we should go back to Galactica. Iris' things are there, and I told the Admiral I'd report as soon as I knew something."

Her eyes searched his, knowing something was wrong, but thankfully she didn't insist.

In the morning, Kara glared at the board in the pilot's ready room. Lacking Raptors was the problem. Vipers did a bit of the fishing assistance and CAP, but they needed Raptors to transport people and there just weren't enough. The Cylons were sending out Heavy Raiders to use their longer-range sensors to look for habitable worlds around potential nearby stars, but it was going to take a while.

In the meantime, the fishing expedition was coming up with nothing. There was no lack of sea creatures, but too close to shore the fallout washed down and into the entire food chain. Duck and his squad were turning their attention to the deeper oceans, where heavy isotopes would sink to the ocean floor, but even she knew deep water had fewer fish, so she had a bad feeling it wasn't going to be enough. Though gods knew, even a little bit would be a welcome addition. And maybe if they could find some small ones they could put them in water tanks to breed and eat on the way…

She wrote down her idea while she listened with half her attention to Colonial Gang on the wireless. Palacios and McManus interviewed Sam, as he mostly confirmed and elaborated on the story he'd told. He seemed comfortable talking to them, confident in what he was saying, until the conversation turned toward the making of the Cylons and she could hear the regret and guilt coming through.

"Do you regret the making of them?"

He struggled to be coherent. "Of John, yes. Something we did - some flaw - I don't know why, but … he went terribly wrong. And there's so little I can do… I want to help, I want the Cylons to help to try to-- I can't fix it, or undo the attacks or the deaths. I don't know if there's ever anything we can do that can really make amends. I think ending resurrection was a start, but… all we can do is offer our help. A few of the ships in the Fleet have contacted Chief Tyrol to find out if Cylons can help with ship repairs, so later on today, we'll start that. And perhaps if all goes well, we can help with other things also. Also Heavy Raiders are searching nearby stars for habitable planets."

"And what would you say to those who think you and the Cylons should be punished? Even killed for the atrocities committed by them?" Palacios asked.

Sam didn't answer immediately. "I would ask in return what would you gain? Vengeance? And against whom? The Cylons here aren't the ones who were the architects; these are the ones who fought a civil war, trying to protect the human fleet. They gave up resurrection, accepted death, so they could understand humans and what they'd done. And as for me --" he paused and added more softly, "there's no punishment anyone could give me greater than remembering Earth die, and the knowledge that I helped it happen again. I was there when the Colonies fell; I saw it, I lived it - I felt that same anger and grief. I still do. To know that John did it because of me, because I failed… it's a heavy weight. And I'll welcome the day I don't have to live with that anymore."

Kara put down her pen, a chill gathering in her chest and slipping across her skin. For her, it hadn't been that long since she'd heard him say similar words, as he tried to throw himself into the gas giant. And that had been before he knew one of his creations had murdered billions of people.

But he went on, slipping past the implication hurriedly, as if he hadn't intended to say it aloud, "But what I want to do is try to make amends as best I can. I consider both humans and Cylons my people, and I want them to live together in peace. That's all I've ever wanted from the days I was one of five people crawling between the stars, trying to find the Twelve Tribes. I believe we can only go forward together. That's why I came to tell the truth as soon as I remembered. I wanted the people of the Fleet to have more understanding of Cylons and what really happened. It's only through understanding the past we can avoid making the same mistakes."

McManus asked, "After all that's happened, do you really believe that peace is possible?"

"I have to, don't I?" Sam answered. "My baby daughter's a Cylon. I want her to grow up and be loved, and have family. I was one of five; I don't want my child to be alone. She's innocent of the sins of her parents, and I want her and Hera to lead the way to a time when the Thirteen Tribes are united. I know it's asking a lot. But I believe together's the only way we'll ever find a new home."

They ended the questioning then, and Kara flipped off the wireless before the reporters could discuss it among themselves.

His words seemed to echo inside of her, somewhere deep inside hitting her as something true and right. Something she also believed, but she hadn't yet put into words. As if it he was speaking directly to her.


She tried to shrug it off, tell herself she was imagining it, but the feeling lingered.

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.
noybusiness: AndersGoldnoybusiness on April 4th, 2014 02:07 pm (UTC)
Good work!

Nice Dragon reference.