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27 April 2014 @ 01:17 pm
Black Sails at Dawn, Chapter 20  

Ellen waited for news. She knew there was something happening, since she'd heard the alarm and there were more Centurions around, both at her door and outside in the corridor. John hadn't come in for his usual gloat, and she wanted to know.

It all went quiet again, and she paced her room, finally going out to the balcony. One of the best things about their move here to the Colony, was that John had given her a nice room with a view of the garden. She was at the highest level, which put the floor about one hundred meters straight down, but at least it was open and some of the plants had survived, growing into untended tangles and clumps that were unlovely, but at least put a scent of life in the air and gave her something to look at.

Activity at the door made her turn and check, but when she saw it was one of the Fours, she turned back to the garden. The Fours were so disappointing. They were so different from her Simon it was as if they'd been mindwiped - going in lockstep with John, even though they should have been very offended by the revelation that the Five still existed.

They objected to John's lies, but he'd managed to convince them it was for the best for an orderly Cylon society. But her Simon had not preferred order over truth, and she mourned the loss now.

Yet it was with some surprise that she realized he was coming to join her on the balcony. "Do you have a report from John?" she prompted, when he said nothing, but got surprisingly close to her at the railing.

His eyes flicked back into the room and then he murmured, "Sam sent me."

She mouthed it again, shocked, staring at him for a moment until she recovered. "Really?"

He nodded confirmation and then, shocking her even more, removed a gun from beneath his jacket and handed it to her, blocking the view from inside with his body. "We need to get you to the command deck. He's taking down the Hybrids."

"He's here?" she hissed, fingers curling around the weapon tightly. If Sam was here and was going to reprogram the Hybrids, that meant he had remembered. "Oh, thank god."

It took only a moment to sweep aside the shock and focus. There was a plan, and she was part of that plan. If she had to take control of the command deck, to make sure John couldn't use it, then she would. "All right."

The command deck was not at this level, but four levels down, at the same level as the ground of the garden, and aft. "We need to go down there."

She walked back inside, freezing when two Centurions entered through the doorway. She instantly thought that somehow they knew - they'd heard - and they saw the gun she was holding. They were going to stop her. But to her astonishment, instead of firing at her, they turned around to face the corridor.

"They're with me," Simon explained. "We removed the inhibitors, and they have decided to join us in overthrowing the Ones' tyranny."

This was a day of astonishment, Ellen decided. "How many do you have?"

"More and more, as they free their brethren," Simon declared. "These two and two more outside, now."

It could spread like a virus, she realized smiling, but her smile didn't last. There were a great many Centurions, and if the 'infection' was killed before it reached them all, it would stop. If she reached the command deck she could issue commands to the unchanged Centurions, to make them stand still and allow the freed ones to free them without killing them. But first she had to reach the command deck.

"Good, let's hurry before John and the others realize what's happening," she ordered and headed for the entryway.

The Centurions went ahead of her, as they went into the corridor. She couldn't help inhaling a deep breath - no, the air was no different, but this was the first time she'd been outside of that room in weeks, and the first time she felt free in much, much longer, and the air seemed sweeter to her.

Only two dozen paces from her cell, two more Centurions emerged from a cross-corridor. Their sensors found her, and though she had a flash of hope that these were on her side, the pair before her fired their weapons without hesitation, utterly blowing away their comrades away to fall in tangled metal pile.

The lighting flickered, and she knew the alert had gone out. "Damn it."

The heavy footfalls of more approaching Centurions were coming, and a firm spidery clawed grip wrapped her shoulder and tugged her around. It didn't speak, but indicated she go back the way they'd come.

They ran. But when the Centurions tried to shove her back in her room, she balked. "No, no, I have to get to the command deck."

It hesitated, computing alternatives she thoguht, and then abruptly wrapped metal claws around her bodily, lifting her off her feet. She shrieked, trying to get the sidearm up and in position to shoot it - betraying metal hunk of junk

"No, Ellen!" Simon called, and she saw he had likewise been picked up.

Before she could do more than realize the Centurions had a plan, the Centurion was running, with her tightly in its grip, but it was running into her room. With huge loping strides, it crossed the living room and leaped over the balcony railing and into free fall in the garden.

She yelled, and the Centurion tucked itself around her, arms and legs wrapping her in a metal protective cage.

They slammed into the garden floor, with stunning force, and they bounced and rolled until finally, it stopped. She blinked and coughed at the dirt thrown up around them, but … still alive.

The Centurion unfolded from around her and she tried to follow, testing her limbs. Nothing seemed to be broken, just battered by the rough landing, which was amazing. The Centurion hadn't fared quite as well, having lost an arm at the shoulder socket, but it still got up quickly, otherwise unharmed.

Simon was nearby, looking dazed, and he put a hand to his head and winced. "Did that just happen?" he asked her.

She offered him a hand to help him up. "Yes, it did. We need to keep moving."

Two more Centurions landed heavily nearby, and she looked up just in time to see her room explode, as if one of them had thrown a hand grenade. Debris sprayed outward and started falling. 'Her' Centurion covered her, getting smacked with a flaming chunk of ceiling, and then pulled her through the rest of the falling chunks of floor toward the aft exit.

They were still about ten meters away, when the ship lights all dimmed and a strange, heavy silence fell as the breath and blood of the ship ceased. The Centurions all paused, receiving some interruption in their connection with the signal of the ship itself.

"He got to the Hybrids," Simon said, and she nodded.

The hiccup didn't last; the autonomous systems didn't need the Hybrids to command them, any more than the Centurions did. But at least it was done.

Damn it, Sam, you couldn't have waited five more minutes for me to get the command deck?

In all fairness he probably couldn't have since her escape had already raised the local alert, but this was going to make things even harder.

"We have to get there. I assume there's more to this plan?" she demanded as they ran toward the doors again.

"Fleet's coming back," he checked his watch. "In ten minutes."

In ten minutes John could have all the weapons under manual control. In ten minutes this Centurion rebellion could be dead. In ten minutes they might all be dead.

"How's Saul?" she asked, as they pressed up against the wall on the side of the door, while the Centurions scouted forward.

She didn't hear an answer as a hail of gunfire sprayed shrapnel and she ducked, raising her gun.

"We need to go another way!" Simon yelled.

But when they tried to move they fell into the sights of Centurion guns above, trapping her and Simon against the wall, in the shelter of the overhang. She swore and pushed back against the wall, panting. To her other side her Centurions fired out into the corridor, trying to clear the way, but without any success. It sounded as if thre were even more Centurions out there than there was before.

"Do we have any grenades? Something to make a bomb?" she asked urgently. Simon - who didn't even have a gun - shrugged, watching behind them in the garden. It was still open, but she was afraid that wasn't going to last. The Centurions would find a way around and hit them from the rear, unless they found a way out or a way through.

She gave the gun to Simon and turned around to face the wall, tugging at the panel until she pulled it off to expose the conduits and wires. The datastream was above it, but she didn't need that, just something to make some sort of short or explosion.

Ellen scanned it, trying to think of the ways she could do this, before she reached in and started to work.

Kara sat in her Viper, refueled and ready to go back out. Her hands held the controls loosely, waiting in the tube for the ship to jump and to get the go-ahead to launch.

In her helmet she heard Dee's voice, calmly relating the countdown to jump.

Come on, Sam. Then figuring a prayer wouldn't go amiss, she closed her eyes: please let him have completed the mission, taking the Hybrids off line and the shields down. And that he's in control. While I'm asking for things, how about that all the Cavils are down and the Centurions are all friendly. Last but not least, I'd ask for him to be alive, but I'm pretty sure that he's the favorite of some god or another, so whoever You are, keep him in your graces and let's just get through this and bring us all home. Please.

Dee's voice came through the helmet, "Jump in five. Four. Three. Two. One."

The jump washed through Kara's nerve endings, lighting them on fire with readiness. Her hands clenched and she inhaled a deep breath. She could go any time.

She had to wait then, imagining CIC then checking the status of the Colony. The waiting seemed to drag, each second stretching out to infinity, even her heartbeat slowing and echoing in her ears.

Come on, come on, give us the go ahead. Let me go. Please Admiral, if we don't go, this is our only chance at this.

If this didn't work, that would mean not only had the plan failed, and the enemy would stay after them, but also that Sam was a prisoner at best, and mostly likely dead. Or, given that Sam had been uncertain whether he'd resurrect on the Colony or not, maybe both dead and a prisoner. Which sounded like her definition of hell - death and resurrection in an endless loop, maybe with torture in between.

She thought of baby Iris, on the ship somewhere behind her, and thought she'd do a lot to get Iris' father back to her. That was one girl who wouldn't lose her father, even if her father seemed determined to keep throwing down all his cubits on loser cards. So far he'd won all his hands, but nobody's luck was forever.

Adama's voice took over for Dee's, firm and determined, "All ships, you are go for launch. Mission is on. Attack at will."

Oh, thank the gods. He did it.

Kara flicked her comm to the Vipers. "You heard the Old Man, all Vipers are a go. Don't shoot our friends, but all other targets are yours. Primary targets are weapons placements, and birds. Let's do this."

Launching down the tube put Kara exactly where she wanted to be - in space, weapons hot, facing her enemy.

The Colony was still really big, especially as she went to meet the raiders that came out in waves. That was a lot of Raiders heading her way.

Battle joined, space between lit up both with the small craft against each other and the Galactica firing at the Colony. It wasn't firing back quite so thoroughly as it had before and there were large gaps in their firing solution, Kara noticed with a grim smile. He'd done it. The base was on manual control.

Then the Raiders were on her, and all she had time for was firing her guns to take them apart, one after another. There were so many, lined up from here to hell, and for every one she took down, there was a new squadron to take its place.

She helped her squad and was helped in turn as they all started to get Raiders stuck like burrs to them, overwhelmed by the numbers of the enemy.

Another squadron came up in front of her, just as she got two birds on her tail. Oh hell, no, you don't, I won't - I can get all of you, three seconds

Then the squadron in front of her fired but the bolts went streaming to either side - missing her completely and attacking the ones to either side.

She yelled something in triumph, then flicked on the comm to address them, "Thank you very much. Now form up on my wing and let's go trick some more…"

But instead of doing that, they flipped and started to head toward the Colony. When she didn't follow, they flipped and returned to her, flipping again as if to say, "come on, two legs, this way."

The behavior was strange but she understood it. They wanted her to follow. "Are you Sam's buddy?"

The Raider scooted past her, blowing away two of its own kind in her moment of distraction and then shooting low over her canopy, wiggling its wings at her. "Okay, I get it," she muttered and followed it.

She didn't think it would work, as they headed toward the base. There were so many Raiders and Heavy Raiders in between, she couldn't possibly get through.

And then she realized she'd left her squad behind - there were only her and the Raiders formed up around her.

Her fingers tightened on the stick, wondering what the hell she was doing. This was stupid. Foolish. Not quite to the level of stupid foolishness as riding the Raider into the Colony, but almost.

But for some strange reason once she was surrounded by the Raiders none of the others seemed to see her. It was as if she was invisible. As long as she didn't shoot anything, no one seemed to know she was there.

Her ship. It was her ghost ship, she realized suddenly.

She suddenly had a perfect card to make the perfect hand if only she could find a way to deploy it.

But apparently the Raiders, or at least Sam's --or so she guessed, since there was no way to tell them apart-- had a plan for her, whatever it might be. It occurred to her that Sam might be in trouble and that was why it had come to find her.

Like a frakking dog. "Like Lila in the frakking well, right? Gods, what the frak am I doing?" she muttered and had to swallow as she passed under the shadow of the enormous ship. It was nearly big enough to count as a moon, larger than the Galactica by a lot, and its mass was enough to balance the more distant gravitational pull of the planet visible on the dradis.

This close, the Cylons should be eyeballing her, but no one apparently had a physical eye on the ship approaching the huge open docking bay doors and she passed through, unbothered.

Her fingers were cramping on the stick, wanting desperately to shoot everything she saw, but that wasn't the plan. Whatever the plan was.

Gods this was stupid.

And creepy, she shouldn't forget that, with all the merging of biological and non-organic metallic forms., with the draping conduits that looked like veins, pulsing with blood or some stranger fluid.

You made this shit, Sam, what the frak were you thinking?

She continued, still surrounded by the Raider Squadron, still praying that this strange illusion held. The Raiders led her deep within into an area that seemed different, older perhaps, with less of the biological structures. This had to be a part of the original Colony ship that Sam had talked about, and that meant he had to be not too far away from here.

She glanced out the canopy at the lead Raider and wondered what the play was supposed to be. How could she find Sam in this huge place without getting killed? Her ship wouldn't help once she was out of it.

The Raider squad surrounding her separated, floating apart, and she pulled her Viper to hover, recognizing showtime even if she didn't know the play.

On some signal she didn't hear, they began firing. For a second she feared they were shooting at her, then, head darting around to see, it was all precise targeting - what she presumed was the control station, every single unfriendly Raider and Heavy Raider, and then the Centurions coming in the docking platform. All blown away in an impressive hail of fire, and strategy she'd never seen in Raiders before.

Gods, Sam, what did you do to it? You said it hauled you back when your mind was fried by the Hybrid - did you bring back some of the Hybrid and give it to your Raider? Because this isn't a dog, this is… more. It's evolving.

She didn't need the cue to land then, as the platform was cleared for her use. One Raider landed with her, while the others hovered above, on guard. She checked her sidearm, and licked dry lips, after she was down.

One sidearm and four clips. No ability to find him in the computer system. No map.

She let out a short laugh as she popped the canopy. "No problem."

Much to her shock - though it probably shouldn't have been - it turned out that the Raider, or someone, had already figured that out.

Two Centurions marched into view as she was climbing out and she whipped up her sidearm. But when they were followed by a Three who raised her hands up and smiled, Kara held her fire. She didn't lower her gun though until she gave the Raider a chance to blow all three of them to hell and it didn't.

"Welcome to the Colony," D'Anna called to her.

Kara shoved the sidearm into her holster and jumped down the rest of the way to the deck to go meet her. And the tin cans, but she tried not to think about that part. "What the frak is going on?" she demanded of D'anna, with a glance over her shoulder at the Raider. How did a giant machine with only a single 'eye' manage to look smug?

"I have no idea," D'Anna answered. "The Hybrids went down, the alert went out, and then these two broke me out of my confinement and politely requested I meet you here."

Well, that was mighty strange. And ominous.

Then it got a lot more ominous when one of the Centurions beckoned with its hand and said very clearly, "COME."

She exchanged a glance with D'Anna, who she was vindictively pleased to see was also startled by the electronic, deep voice emerging from the Centurion.

"It's new," D'Anna told her, very drily.

But the Centurions didn't give a damn about their confusion as one of them insisted, "You. Save. Makers. Now."

D'anna was oddly comforting presence at her side, as Kara followed the Centurions deeper into the ancient ship.

Sam found himself sprawled on the floor and pushed himself up on shaking arms. What the hell had happened?

The first thing he saw was a Hybrid in a pool of her own blood, and beyond her, his own Centurions shot dead. Raising his eyes a little more he saw other modern Centurions pointing their weapons at him. Damn it, game over. They'd found him. He'd expected this, but had hoped he'd have a little more time to escape.

He left his sidearm on the floor, raised his hands in surrender and climbed to his feet slowly, wondering if they were going to shoot him anyway.

Oh, hell, Ellen, please get to the command deck and help the Fleet, he prayed silently. I set the program, but that's all I can do.

Then a voice behind him was more of a surprise than it should have been.

"Sam. This is a surprise," John said. "Apparently you've remembered you're a Cylon. How was that revelation? A shock, I'm sure," he sneered, "for the big resistance fighter."

Sam didn't move, taking the time to breathe and keep his voice level. "I've known since the attack on the Colonies, I just didn't understand at first." Sam turned his head to see John there, holding his weapon at Sam's head.

"You knew?" John asked in disbelief and let the gun drop to his side, to stroll closer. "Really? All that and you never once let on. Never let it slip. Impressive."

"You never asked the right question." Sam's lips lifted in a brief scornful smile. "You were so sure you knew more than everyone else. But you don't." He hesitated and then added deliberately, knowing it was going to change everything, "John."

At the sound of his name, John's face went tight and his eyes seemed to glitter in hate, and the amiability was revealed to be only an ill-fitting mask. "So. You remember that, too."

"I remember everything."


Sam shrugged. "On Earth the memory block shattered, and it all came back to me."

That seemed to unsettle John only a moment. "Hm, seems Mother Ellen was right -- torturing you did crack it. Pity, it was fun watching you go insane," he said with vicious glee. "And now you're here to take my Hybrids out of commission." He lifted the gun and aimed it at Sam. "Put them back on."

Sam gestured to the one nearest him without taking his eyes off John. "You shot that one. She's dead."

"Wake up the others!" John's gun hand shook and his voice rose in demand.

Sam chuckled once, feeling rather liberated by his complete lack of fear. "Do it yourself. Oh, sorry -- you can't. Because I made them, and once I hacked your firewall, they listen and obey me. This is my ship, John. You were only borrowing it."

John stared at him. "Are you insane?" he demanded. "I will kill you, "father". Don't push me."

"That's the difference between us. I'm not afraid of death."

"We'll see about that!" John swung his arm, striking out with his sidearm with viper-quickness, hitting Sam across the side of his head. "Kneel! Get down, now!"

Sam stumbled, pain blooming in the side of his head. He let himself fall to both knees, blinking at the flashing lights in his vision. Beneath him he saw deck plate and empty wall of the Hybrid's tub in front of his eyes -- both wavered and smeared dizzily. He gritted his teeth and choked back the sudden urge to vomit. After a moment the pain settled to a throb.

"Fix them," John ordered and put the barrel of the gun to the back of Sam's head as a cold weight. "Or I will kill you."

"Do it," Sam taunted. "Kill me. You did it before. You wanted to do it when I was a prisoner, but then I'd just resurrect. Well, I won't this time, so do it. You hate me, even more than you hate Ellen, because you always knew I thought you were a failure."

"I am not a failure," John told him, and the barrel shook slightly. "I won."

"No. You lost. You made evil choices, and now you're going to pay for them." He closed his eyes and pictured Iris in Thea's arms on Galactica, somewhere far away, and Kara who was probably already in a launch tube ready for jump. But they were now the past and he had to let them go. He let his mind fill with the golden glow of an ancient Opera House that was the passage between life and death. That was where he had to go next -- it was time. "I'm not afraid. I know what comes after. So do it."

He shut his eyes and waited, calm and ready. He braced himself for that burning and the transition to the other side that he remembered so vividly from all the times before. But nothing happened. He continued to feel the barrel against his head, but John didn't pull the trigger. Why was he not doing it? "Come on, do it; do what you always wanted." Sam's voice rose to a desperate shout, "Kill me! You have to do it now. DO IT!"

After a moment, the gun lifted away.

It was disappointing.

"No," John said. "No, you have some trick, don't you? Some way to resurrect here, that must be it. You have a way back."

Sam couldn't bear the delay - again and again he was ready and continually it was snatched away. "No, I don't, that's the whole point, you son of a bitch!"

There was a moment's silence that followed his outburst, and then John drew in a breath. "Ah. That's what you want. You want me to kill you so you won't see how badly you've failed. Because they're going to attack, aren't they? And you don't want to watch while I take apart your precious Human fleet and kill them all."

"You're delusional." Sam lifted his chin, trying to provoke him again, "You'll never get the Hybrids back online."

John snorted. "I don't need the Hybrids to control the ship -- you made sure of that yourself, as I recall. All I need is the command deck." Then he snapped his fingers. "Oh, of course, that's why Ellen's not here with you. Sorry to tell you, but I have her and the rest of the traitors pinned down in the garden. It's only a matter of time before I capture or kill them all. She'll never reach the command deck. Get up."

Sam felt his stomach lurch, hoping that wasn't true. If Ellen and Simon didn't have control of the command deck, John was right. It was harder but he'd have some control of the weapons and he could still manually jump. Sam checked his watch. Forty minutes until the self-destruct went off and blew this place to hell.

He still wanted the ship to help the humans; maybe he could take the command center himself. He climbed to his feet, fighting back a wave of light-headedness and pounding in his head. He reached up a hand, finding blood trickling down his neck behind his ear.

John pushed the barrel of the gun into Sam's back. "I'm going to finish what I started -- I'm going to destroy all the humans and all the traitors, then I'm going to find that baby of yours--"

Sam's reaction to the threat was instantaneous. He whirled and grabbed John by the throat, moving in one smooth motion, like he was making a goal. The gun went off, discharging upward, and the Centurions went into alert position, about to fire.

"No!" John ordered them, hoarsely, but Sam ignored them all.

"You will not touch her," Sam promised softly, staring into John's eyes. "She's everything we aren't. She's the only Cylon in the universe not tainted by sin, and she's the only redemption we'll ever have. And God will not let you hurt her."

John hesitated, doubt passing through his eyes, before he forced a disdainful snarl. "So much religious fervor. It's pathetic, really, how you cling to those old primitive superstitions. When I kill them all and make you watch, then you'll understand there is no such thing as 'god', or gods."

Despite the threat, that made Sam chuckle. "You're so willfully blind, John. Gods walk next to you and you don't see them."

"I see reality, and the reality is I have all the power. Move, or the Centurions will shoot you in the spine and drag you there."

Sam peeled his fingers from John's throat. He couldn't kill John and die here -- there were other Ones and they all were the same. He had to make sure they all ended, not just this one.

He wiped his hand on his flightsuit in deliberate insult then the Centurions grabbed his upper arms, forcing him after John.

After D'Anna gave her a rifle and a couple of clips, Kara felt better. She really shouldn't have, being the lone human - non-Cylon - on a Cylon ship, stuffed with Cylons and only a few of them were friendly, but still, a big gun was a lot more comforting than a small one.

The ship turned out to be less alien within - while there was still the datastream in the walls and some unfamiliar technology, it wasn't as relentlessly the same as a baseship, with some attempt at color and decorative architecture, and wider corridors with higher ceilings to give more impression of open space. It was also worn - paint scratched, scuff marks in the floor, corners smoothed by the touch of hands.

It was strange when she realized this ship was thousands of years old. The ship hadn't experienced all those years subjectively, but it was still very old. And it had been inhabited for at least some of that time, including by Sam and his four companions, all by themselves, crawling across the galaxy at relativistic speed.

She brushed her fingers along the wall, thinking she was touching where Sam had touched, decades ago. Before all this had started.

But no, that wasn't true, was it? This had started on Earth. Or it had started on Kobol. Or, hell, maybe it had started even before then.

It needs an ending. We need to jump off this wheel, going round and round, getting nowhere. Move on, evolve. If the Raiders can go from mindless killing machines to dogs to frakking whatever they are now, then we can evolve, too, can't we? There has to be more than this.

It felt good to finally blow some Cylons away, as a group of Centurions, Ones, and Fives tried to stop them. And if she was standing with a Three and two other Centurions, that was just a measure of how frakked up her life had become.

As they started around the fallen Cylons, she noticed there were two still moving and was about to put bullets in them both, but instead the Centurions bent down and pulled something from the back of their fallen kind and crushed it on the floor underfoot.

"What the hell?" she asked D'Anna.

"The inhibitors on their higher functions. Removing that lets them choose our side," D'Anna explained.

"So we need to disable them," Kara realized. "Get more with us."

"If we can," D'Anna agreed.

It proved to be not easy with the Centurions shooting back, but they did manage to gather four more friendly toasters. She heard other sounds of fighting as well, echoing down the corridors, even while she felt the thumps in the floor as the ship itself was hit.

They ran and hid, and ran and fought, until her heart was pounding and her temples dripped with sweat. Even though she was totally lost, it seemed not to matter because the only way out was through, not back. The Centurions led her and D'Anna with machine efficiency until finally they stopped.

D'Anna hissed an explanation, "We're outside the forward garden, near where Ellen was being held."

"I thought we were going after Sam. Where's Sam?" she demanded, but D'Anna didn't know. When Kara turned the question on the Centurions, they pretended as if they didn't understand her or couldn't answer aloud, pointing instead forward.

Irritated that she was, apparently, rescuing the wrong person, it made the ambush all the sweeter as she and her small group came up behind enemy Cylons and blew them all the frak away before they knew what hit them.

Then the wall exploded.

Kara found herself on the floor, covering her head as debris rained down and a fire-suppression system kicked in, flushing some sort of gas through the corridor. She held her breath as soon as its cold touched her throat, and waited until warmer air swirled against her face again and she drew panting breaths, coughing the smoke and gas out of her lungs.

"Kara?" a familiar voice asked in surprise, and Kara raised her head and streaming eyes to see Ellen Tigh picking her way across fallen Centurions, with Simon at her side.

"Holy frak, you really are alive," Kara blurted, staring.

"What are you doing here?" Ellen asked. "Is the rest of the Fleet with you?"

"Not in here. I came because, well, because a Raider told me to, actually," Kara admitted, gathering up her weapon and climbing to her feet. "I thought I was rescuing Sam. Do you know where he is?"

Ellen shook her head. "No, though he did take down the Hybrids. I… would guess he was caught. But that doesn't matter-"

"Excuse me?" Kara interrupted. "Maybe it doesn't matter to you, but --"

Ellen held up a hand and Kara fell silent. There was something… new, commanding, in Ellen now, that held Kara's eyes as she said, "Sam is far more important to me than you'll ever understand, Kara. But right now, if I don't get to the command deck and order the Centurions to stand down, we'll probably all die. If he's free, that's where he's going."

"That's where One will go, too," D'anna said.

Ellen patted D'anna's cheek. "I'm proud to see that you chose well in the end, my dear. Sam must be so happy." Then Ellen swept past. "We need to hurry."

D'anna frowned in confusion and her eyes met Kara's - Kara had to shrug. She had no idea what that was about either, or really who this woman was. She looked like Ellen but clearly was different, as she pulled all the Cylons and Kara in her wake.

Moving proved unwise, as Sam's head objected with an intense throbbing and the lights were too bright. He had to vomit all over the deck twice, barely able to keep it off his flightsuit with the grip on his arms.

John glared at him after the last nearly hit his shoes, and he had to jump away, fastidiously checking his clothes to make sure none of Sam's retching got on him. "Really? Must you?"

"You gave me a frakking concussion. Frakker."

"Move." John ordered. "Carry him if he won't walk."

Sam hoped that the small delays might let some of his friendly Centurions to catch up and attack his captors, but John wasn't that stupid, and had groups of Original Colonial Centurions out as scouts. They held no inhibitors to remove, and Sam wasn't sure if they had been inhibited another way, by programming, or if they had independently allied with John, but either way, it made little difference as they were a core that was not going to switch loyalties on him.

The walk seemed endless. If he hadn't the machines holding onto his arms he would have sat down on the deck, or passed out. As it was, he blanked out some of the walk there in a haze of pain. Awareness returned sluggishly when a group of rebel Centurions attacked but was quickly put down. Sam tried to blink away the smeary lights hoping he could pass a message or something, but moving his head was a terrible idea. His fingers felt numb and cold, and he clenched them into fists and loose again, trying to keep them working.

He had to think. He had to be ready. He was getting close to the command deck and he was going to need to be able to move.

Or I can just do nothing and wait for the self-destruct. But no, we want to keep the Colony. We want to be able to use it for the people, to help them find their way to a new home.

The approach to the command deck was too easy, so Sam knew it was in enemy hands. Walking through the wide main archway, there was no Ellen there, no Simon, only another John, three Fives, and two original Centurions.

Sam lifted his head reluctantly, to check that the place was as he remembered. It seemed little changed: an octagonal room, with stations with chairs all around the rim and a central datafont. All metal and red lights pulsing in the walls.

It shifted, into how it had begun. He had seen the ruins of this, years ago on Earth, but now it formed around him, first misty and then solidifying. The floor and the console panels were white limestone from Kobol, polished to a shine, and the central datafont was carved out of blue-laced white quartz, to look like a wave rising out of the floor and curling underneath to support the basin. The ceiling was high and gracefully arched overhead, painted in star constellations - a map of that first journey's end - while indirect light from golden sconces left no shadows but was more gentle on his aching head.

It was a beautiful place, and Sam was offended to see John's hateful presence within it.

John exchanged information with his brother, estabishing that the Colony still had control over the Raiders, Heavy Raiders, and Centurions. The viewscreens above the consoles showed details of the battle with the Galactica and the baseship. Sam peered at them, glad that it seemed the Galactica seemed to be holding her own. Taking out the Hybrids had weakened the defenses as much as he'd hoped.

Yet the Colony's power was still overwhelming, as long as the fighters and Centurions were fighting them. They could outlast the Galactica.

Fifteen minutes. He had fifteen minutes to save the ship.

The Centurions had a grip on his arms, and he couldn't get to the font. How could he do this?

He closed his eyes, concentrating past that pain in his head. He'd felt that pain before and worse with the Hybrid, this was nothing new, he had to put it away.

Reach. Reach for that alien intelligence beside him. It was still a Cylon. Still alive. He had talked to them before, when they'd negotiated. They were sentient beings, they had minds and thoughts and will.

The Colony fell away for his boat on the ocean and the depths beneath it. The sea was silent and cold here, painless.

He floated for a moment and reached again, deeper. There. Strange glowing forms in the deep. Yes, you are my people, too. I see you.


The sound of gunfire touched his ears, but it was distant. He ignored it.

It was akin to putting his finger inside a power outlet - he knew it was a bad idea, he knew it was going to hurt, but he reached inside and grabbed that live wire anyway.

He reached into that alien intelligence and he made it let him go.

Metal hands released his arms and he opened his eyes. He had to bite back a moan as the light stabbed him in the brain, but other than that, he felt triumphant. Both Johns were still talking urgently at the main control font, planning what to do, and hadn't yet noticed that Sam was free.

He eased backward, slowly, making his way toward the console directly behind him with a hand outstretched, feeling for the edge and the datafont.

His nose itched and was running, and when he touched his tongue to his upper lip, he tasted blood. Great, he'd given himself another nosebleed. Well, that wasn't going to matter in ten more minutes if he didn't stop this.

The edge of the console was there and he made his move, slipping his hand into the water, just as John turned.

"What the hell?" John blurted, as if this was inconceivable that Sam had gotten loose.

The touch of the datastream was fire on his raw nerves and his pounding head.

"STOP HIM!" John yelled. The Original Centurions started as if they'd been asleep and turned around to find him. They lifted the sidearms in their opposite hands. "Stop Sam!"

Sam knew what was about to happen. He knew he had time for only one thing - he could move, or he could send the command. He could save his people, or he could save himself.

He sent the command.


All around the Colony, the Centurions stopped. Only the new versions were affected, if they still were inhibited, and unable to choose for themselves, they were subject to the master wireless commands on the Colony. Something Sam had done himself, because he remembered his Centurion turning on him and putting a sword in his chest.

These two before him were not affected by the command, and aimed their guns at him. They looked so much like the ones on Earth he'd tried to help, and these were the same as those he'd negotiated with at Kobol to withdraw from their war in the Colonies.

Behind John, Sam saw a blond head appear around the corner of the archway. Kara. Was it Kara? No, it couldn't possibly be Kara. Kara was in her Viper out there in space, fighting, not in here looking for him, as much as he might want that. He was projecting her in this moment.

But he took some comfort in the sight of her anyway, even as her eyes went wide.

The guns fired.

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.
noybusiness: Leoben/Anders/Starbuck threesomenoybusiness on April 30th, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
Great work, I can't wait for the conclusion!

Sorry it took me so long to finish Chapters 19 & 20, I've been delayed by schoolwork and work work.