Voice of Reason
"You cannot play God and then wash your hands of the things you've created. Sooner or later, the day comes when you can't hide from what you've done anymore."
"In any case, it has to be done."
"Says God Almighty the voice of reason, that's who! When are you gonna hear it?"
-Cavil and Natalie
Sam Anders woke suddenly, coughing and sputtering. He thought he was drowning; there was fluid in his mouth and nose, fluid beneath his thrashing hands. One of his hands hit something solid, and he scrabbled for purchase, pulling himself up out of the water. He gasped, sucking in air, and then sagged down against the buoyant surface.
Fell asleep in the hot tub again, was his first disjointed thought. Frak, Coach is gonna be so mad.
Then, suddenly, he remembered the beach. He'd dragged his broken body over the rocks and onto the sand, screaming as dark clouds began to rise against the horizon, one by one. He remembered waking up afterward, in a tub much like this one. Ellen had been there, frowning down at him.
He clutched his head, groaning against the sudden onslaught of memories. There had been Tory and Galen, Saul and Ellen, and nobody else in all the world. Then there were the Centurions, as terrible as the machines on Earth had been, and yet... kind, somehow. Then the children they'd built together -- people he'd made, people he'd loved.
You morons, John had said, over the intercom. I can't frakkin' believe you fell for the 'I've got a surprise for you in the airlock' trick!
Please, John, Ellen had cried. Saul had slammed his fist against the locked door. You let us out of here now, boy!
You should have listened to me, John had said. His voice had been quiet and sad, for once, as if he really meant it. I don't know why you wouldn't listen.
We'll listen, Sam had promised. I swear to you, we will.
But Cavil had pressed the airlock release anyway, and they had died.
Mercifully, the memories stopped there -- he didn't get a run-through of his "human" life, didn't have to remember eighth grade, or the prom, or his first championship game, or the first time he'd killed a Cylon. He did remember Kara, though: she was yelling, the world was sideways, and the back of his head was wet.
"I was shot," he murmured. His voice echoed, bouncing off the resurrection fluid and the close, red-lit walls. "Oh, Gods, I'm dead."
Kara waited in Life Station for an hour and a half, standing beside the door as an endless stream of casualties trickled in. She watched them as they came: a Marine with his head blown open, a little boy with a ragged stump where his arm had been, an old woman with a nasty chest wound. They came in the arms of parents, friends, comrades, and even enemies.
No lawyers, of course. It figured; the one time she really needed help, she'd been stuck with the wrong guy. Willing, of course, but wrong just the same.
When I asked you to leave, you were supposed to say 'no', Lee, she thought. 'No', godsdamnit.
Ishay walked by. Kara opened her mouth to ask about Sam, but Ishay turned away without even looking at her. That was how she knew it was bad; that was how she knew Sam was gonna die.
And her icon of Aphrodite must've fallen out of her pocket somehow, which meant she couldn't even frakkin' pray.
Finally, Cottle came out from behind the surgical curtain. He looked like he'd just butchered a hog, his gloves and apron deep-drenched in blood. Kara looked into his eyes and silently begged the Gods for one last chance, just one last hand to play.
No take-backs, Lee had said, once. Cottle shook his head, just a little, and Kara knew she would never, ever see her Sam again.
Sam crawled out of the resurrection tank, his knees sliding on the cold floor. There was a sudden noise, and he jerked around, slipping into a sodden heap.
A Centurion was standing by the open door, its eye scanning from side to side. It looked at him with a blank, unseeing gaze, as though he were nothing more than part of the furniture. It hadn't been told what to do with him.
Sam pulled himself up to a sitting position. "C'mere," he said, holding his hand out. He remembered this; he remembered greeting the Centurions for the first time, years ago. Even then, they had recognized each other as Cylons, as brothers.
The Centurion said nothing. It did not move.
"Come on, you know me," Sam tried. "It's me, Sam. Remember?"
The Centurion suddenly turned, whirring, and clanked away. The door slid shut behind it, locking with a loud click. Sam watched as it locked him in, sighing in regret. John had done something to the Centurions, changed them somehow. They were nothing like the bright, eager machines Sam had known.
Sam curled up against the side of the resurrection tub. The room was small and empty, barely big enough for him and the tub together, and the only light came from the red strip on the wall. He watched it as it slid back and forth, and it occurred to him that he might actually die here, starved to death at the site of his own rebirth.
This sucks, he thought, rubbing his hands over his naked thighs to warm them. This really, really sucks.
The Admiral performed the usual ceremony for the dead. Kara attended, ramrod straight in her dress blues, and spoke to no one. The frakkin' Cylons had a ceremony, too, some candlelit bullshit that was more about their stupid God than the people who'd died. Baltar spoke over the wireless, so Kara made Hoshi turn it off. His hand trembled on the dial, and she thought good, you frak, even though he probably didn't deserve it.
After CAP, Kara threw a wake for Sam. Hot Dog came, and the Chief, and Gaius Baltar (and then the Chief dragged Baltar away before Kara could hit him). All the nuggets came, all the Raptor wranglers, and all the Viper jocks, and none of them remarked upon the absence of people who no longer counted as nuggets or pilots. It was remarkable, really, how fast the mutiny had solidified their loyalties -- people who'd called Sam "toaster" a week ago had come to mourn him now.
His wingman wasn't there, of course. Seelix was on the Astral Queen, along with all the other mutineers, serving a life sentence for sedition, mutiny, dereliction of duty, and motherfrakkin' idiocy.
Kara was glad and sad at the same time, because it meant she wouldn't have to kill her.
The Chief came back half an hour after he'd left, with a bottle of the clear stuff from his private still. "Sorry, Starbuck," he said. "Sam was a good guy."
"Yeah, he was," she said. She popped the top and knocked back a gulp, hissing at the burn. "That's why I married him."
Tyrol's eyes seemed to flinch at the mention of marriage, but he didn't say anything. He just nodded and went to stand in the corner, all alone.
Starbuck turned away. "Hey!" she yelled. "I want to make a toast to Longshot, you fraks!" She raised her glass high, as though threatening them with it. "To Sam 'Longshot' Anders!"
She paused briefly, to give those without drinks a chance to pour some. Dragon was passing out algae beers; he finally folded his arms over his tattooed chest, cup in hand.
"To Longshot!" Starbuck cried, and bolted down a quarter of her bottle. The crowd echoed her, upending their bottles and cups. She looked over them when they were done, daring them to lower their eyes, but none of them did.
All of them had been here before. She'd seen that look in their eyes for Prosna, for Flattop, and for Socinus. She saw it in the mirror, for Zak, every day of her life.
Holy shit, their eyes said. We killed him.
It was the truth.
Sam snapped awake to the sound of a voice outside the door.
"Dammit, who the frak thought stairs were a great idea for a spaceship? I can't believe we left all this stupid crap down here."
Sam shivered. He cast about for a place to hide, but there wasn't one; the best he could do was to crouch behind the resurrection tub, ready to attack.
If John comes through that door, kill him, Sam thought to himself. Break his neck. Don't hesitate!
"I hope you brought me down here for a reason," Cavil went on. "If you wanna pull this 'wonder dog' act, there'd better be somebody down the frakkin' well."
His voice was right outside the door. Sam heard the clanking of the Centurion's feet as they came to a stop. Sam shook with adrenaline, his muscles tensed to spring.
There was a long pause.
"On second thought, why don't you go first?" Cavil said. Sam's stomach dropped. He made himself very small behind the tub, but to no avail; the door opened, the Centurion stepped inside, and then it bent down beside him, cocking its head in a quizzical way.
It could not speak, but its bearing said clearly, what are you doing down there?
"Hey, what's goin' on? What'd you-- oh," said Cavil, who'd poked his head through the door. "Oh, you bastard. You had a backup, didn't you? Somethin' that didn't go through the Hub? How very clever."
Sam wanted to scream. It wasn't his backup -- it had been Ellen's project, a failsafe in case anything happened on their journey, but the trip had been so tedious that he'd forgotten about it long before they'd reached the Colonies. They all had. Even Ellen.
Right now, he wished she'd never built it.
"Pick him up," Cavil ordered. "We're going upstairs, Dad. It's family reunion time."
Bill Adama stared at the paperwork on his desk, nearly two inches' worth of neatly stacked paper, and despaired. Gaeta. Zarek. Jaffee. Laird. More than a hundred others, his kids, were lost forever, and another fifty had been arrested for mutiny.
Treason, Gaeta had said. Desertion. Gross dereliction of duty. Giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Adama still believed the answer he'd given to the latter charge -- if anything, the rebel Cylons had given them aid when they'd needed it most, and they'd proved their good intentions once again by protecting Laura. But desertion and dereliction... if he was honest with himself, there might have been a little of that. Not just in him, but in all of them.
"We've let ourselves go," he muttered. "We're getting too damn tired, too worn."
He shifted his gaze to Tyrol's report on the damage in the FTL Room, sighing as he read it for the fifth time. Galactica was worn out, too, riddled with structural damage. Without the Cylons' help, she might never jump again. He took a sip of his drink, letting it burn its way down.
FTL drives were one thing, but could he really allow the Cylons to alter the ship itself? To sink their machine-goo into her very bones?
"What choice do I have?" he asked her, gazing up at the crack that was beginning to spread along the ceiling. Galactica didn't answer, of course. He looked back down at his papers, finally turning his attention to the one on top of the stack.
Samuel T. Anders. Kara's boy, perhaps the happiest thing that had ever happened to Adama's only daughter... when he wasn't the saddest, Kara being Kara. Now Sam was gone, forever, shot dead by one of his own comrades. And Adama had hardly known him, though Sam should have been like a son-in-law to him.
I thought there'd be time. Time enough to put everything right. I was wrong.
Funny how none of them would admit to it; the mutineers had the courage to kidnap babies and shoot innocents, but not the guts to own up to killing Kara's "toaster". At least, not to the Admiral's face.
Adama lifted his glass again, saluting the ceiling, and then took a long pull. "He died for you, Old Girl. He died fighting for this ship. They all did. We gotta put things right," he muttered, wiping his face. "We gotta stop this downward slide, before it gets any worse..."
He rubbed his eyes, signed Sam's death certificate with shaking hands, and then took another drink.
The Centurion practically carried Sam up the stairs, its cold hands locked around his biceps. Sam was still naked and shivering. Cavil kept adjusting his coat, glancing back now and again, as if to say look what I have, and you don't!
Sam glared at him, which only seemed to encourage him.
They walked for what seemed like ages, until the familiar surroundings of the Five's ship gave way to an endless number of low-lit, red-tinged corridors. Sam was sure they hadn't been there originally; it was as if someone had grafted a massive Basestar right onto the top of their little ship. Though he tried to keep track of all the twists and turns, Sam quickly became lost in them.
He glanced into every doorway and hall, but he saw no one, not even a Centurion. "Where is everyone?" he finally asked.
Cavil ignored him.
"John," he began.
"Don't call me that," Cavil snapped. "And nobody's down here but you, so stop asking. This level used to be quarters for the Twos, Sixes, and Eights."
Sam shivered. "My God. You killed them," he said. "You killed them all."
Cavil snorted. "Don't be ridiculous. They're our own brothers and sisters, 'course we didn't kill 'em! We boxed them, that's all. 'Course, now that they've gone and destroyed the Hub, they won't be comin' back anytime soon, now will they?" He grinned.
Sam looked away. "We didn't build you to be so callous, John," he said.
"Please. Thousands of my brothers are dead because of their little mass-murder project, and the rest of us are bound to follow, but I don't hear you moaning about what awful monsters they are. As a matter of fact, you helped them do it, so why don't you take your sanctimonious whining and put a sock in it?"
"It's not the same thing," Sam said.
"'Course not. You give a shit about the Twos, Sixes, and Eights." Cavil turned away, shoving past Sam and the Centurion. "Now shut up, we're almost there."
"But--" The Centurion tightened its grip, cutting Sam off with a gasp.
"'Shut up' was an order, dumbass. You wanna follow orders when the Centurions are around, otherwise you're gonna regret it. They like everything to go nice an' smooth. Don'cha, brother?"
The Centurion's only reply was the soft sound of its eye, scanning slowly back and forth.
Sam stayed quiet all the rest of the way up the stairs. At last, they came to a busier part of the ship, full of Dorals and Simons and Cavils who turned to stare at them as they walked by.
"So much for this bein' a surprise," Cavil muttered. "It'll be all over the datastream in another minute." Even so, when Cavil took Sam's arm and shoved him into a room, the Simon and Doral inside gaped at him.
"Look what I found, brothers! A stowaway!"
"Anders!" said Doral. "Is it really him? Does he remember us?"
"It is and he does," Cavil said. "I found him down in the old section."
"So the spare resurrection tubs on the lower level were part of a backup system," Simon mused.
"Yeah, yeah, I guess I owe you a drink," Cavil said. "Don't rub it in."
In the meantime, Doral approached. He circled Sam with slow, deliberate steps. Crip-Key had had a big Sagittaron Pinscher named Prince back on Caprica; the look of genial threat on Doral's face brought the dog's image back quite clearly. Sam shivered, and made an awkward attempt to cover his nakedness with his hands.
"Why did you come back to us?" Doral asked. "Why are you here?"
"I was shot," Sam said. "Trust me, I'd rather be just about anywhere else right now."
"I think his human 'friends' musta got tired of playing host-er to a toaster, Aaron," Cavil said. "Gee, you think he's finally learned his lesson?" The latter part dripped with sarcasm.
"No," Doral said. "No, I think he's here to betray us." He came closer, narrowing his eyes. Sam took half a step back.
"I'd like to see him try," Cavil chuckled. "On a Colony chock-full of Cylons, all armed to the teeth? Could be fun." His laughter seemed to calm Doral, who stepped back again.
"For now, we'd better get him some clothes," Cavil continued. "You wanna lend him some, Four? None of mine'll fit... and I'd give him one of Five's outfits, but I'm not tryin' to be cruel."
"As if I'd ever give him one," Doral sniffed, smoothing his lavender lapels. "I like my suits."
"He can have one of mine," Simon said. "Come, Sam." When Sam hesitated, he added, "Do you want to stand there naked all day, or would you rather come and get warm? I won't harm you."
Reluctantly, Sam followed along.
When Helo opened the hatch, Hera was playing with her colors. She saw him and squealed with delight, rushing over to hug his knees.
"Daddy!" she cried. "Owie better?"
He grinned. "Yep, all better. Doc Cottle fixed it up good." He knelt, so that Hera could see the cluster of stitches in his scalp. She reached up and petted them gently.
"Does it hurt?"
"Not really. Not now that you're safe." He hugged her, burying his face in her curls. "You made me worry, kid," he said. "I'm glad you're OK."
"Daddy's OK, too," she murmured, hugging him tighter. "Mommy's OK!"
"She sure is," Athena said from behind him. Helo grinned.
"Hi, babe," he said. "How'd it go?"
"Well enough," she sighed, ruffling Hera's hair. "The Admiral wants those FTL drives ASAP. The Cylons will be ready to start updating the fleet in a couple of days."
Helo frowned. "Good, I guess. I mean, these drives... they're safe, right?"
Athena nodded. "Safe as we can make 'em. I checked the software myself -- the system is networked, but its encryption is based on a one-time pad, impossible to crack. Not even Cavil can get in, not unless he's got the key... and we're the only ones who have it. Us, not the Cylons."
"You don't trust them," Helo said.
"I trust Caprica," Athena conceded. "A little. She came through for us with Hera, and besides, when we were together on the Basestar... I think she understands. She's with us, maybe. But the others..."
"They're your family," he said.
"You and Hera are my family. And the pilots. That's all."
Helo stayed quiet for a moment, his brows beetled in thought. "They remind me of you," he said.
"Not just the Eights. The Twos and Sixes, too. When we were assaulting the Hub... well, they're a lot like you, y'know. Family resemblance, I guess."
Athena frowned. "They are not like me."
Helo stood, lifting Hera up onto his hip. "Look, I'm not saying you have to trust them right away. But they are your family, and that makes them special. Don't you realize how lucky you are to have them here? Your brothers and sisters are in the fleet now -- not one person in a thousand can say that anymore."
"Not all my brothers. How lucky am I, if half my family wants to kill me?"
"Luckier by half than anybody else is," Helo said. "Trust me, I know it's hard. But you gotta understand, when they're gone, they're gone. There's no Hub anymore. All of us could be dead tomorrow, even the Cylons."
"Sure, because of my family," Athena scowled.
"Yeah, well, nobody ever said family was easy," Helo said, bouncing his daughter on his hip. "You wanna keep the peace, you have work for it." He grinned. "You have to... play Raptors, Hera! Raptors! Whooooosh!"
"Eee! Raptors, Daddy!"
Sam followed Simon through the halls. True to Cavil's word, the Cylons they passed no longer seemed surprised to see him. Instead, their eyes followed him curiously, as if they weren't quite sure what to make of him.
He wondered how much they remembered. He could remember everything, now: teaching John to write, with a child's fat pencil clutched in arthritic fingers. Smiling at Simon's first word (it had been "blankie", after the little quilt he dragged around everywhere, despite the fact that it only came down to his knees). Showing Aaron how to play catch, and then, once he had more than a child's mastery of his full-grown body, how to box.
If they'd only listen, maybe Sam could use that knowledge against them.
Simon led him to a room much like all the others -- red-lit, spacious, but nearly empty. There was a bed against one wall. A chair and a desk with a display panel were against another, half-buried in papers and bottled specimens. Sam peered at them.
"What's this?" he asked, pointing to a tiny lump of flesh suspended in fluid.
"Hmm?" Simon asked, looking over his shoulder as he opened his wardrobe. "Oh, nothing, really. Just something I picked up somewhere." He began to look through his clothes, humming under his breath.
"Start with these," he said, and tossed Sam a pair of silk boxers. Sam pulled them on gratefully. He and the others had never been able to get their children to properly understand clothing; they'd been as apt to run around naked as they'd been to wear a mishmash of everything at once.
Judging by the nice grey slacks Simon passed him, though, he'd finally gotten the hang of dressing himself. Sam pulled them on; they were a little tight in the thighs, but they'd do.
"Red's your team color, isn't it?" Simon asked, holding out a dark red shirt.
"How'd you know that?"
"You were wearing your team jacket when you slit my throat on Caprica," Simon said evenly.
"That was you, then? At the Farm?"
"Among others," Simon said dryly. "I think you and your friends actually killed me twice, all told."
"Why?" Sam murmured.
Simon blinked. "I don't know, really. I suppose it was because you wanted to free the--"
"No, not me! I meant why, dammit. Why the Farms? You tortured people. You tortured my wife. How could you?"
Simon frowned. "There was no 'torture', Sam. I regret the fact that we were forced to use unwilling subjects. Believe me, I wish things could have been different. Nonetheless, everything at the Farms was done in accordance with legitimate medical practice. I spent two years among the humans at the Virgon Medical Academy; my final project there was much the same."
"They did that-- that experiment at the Virgon Medical Academy?"
"Yes, of course. Artificial insemination and subsequent fetal monitoring, with pregnant pigs as the subjects. It was quite fascinating work--"
"With pigs! Pigs! People aren't pigs, Simon!" Sam clenched his fists.
"Well, of course not," Simon said. "If they were, we couldn't breed with them, could we? That was the entire point of the experiment."
Sam stared at him. "I know John stole your memories," he said carefully, "but you can't possibly--"
"What are you talking about? Cavil did nothing of the sort," Simon said.
"The others told us you were all programmed never to think of us. They said you couldn't even remember who we were, or what we looked like."
The corner of Simon's mouth turned up in a smirk. "You'd be surprised how easy it is to pretend not to think of something," he said. "One, Five, and I have gotten rather good at it over the years."
"You were pretending?" Sam said. "Why?"
"Who do you think performed those memory wipes? My brother is a fine programmer, but he's never been very good with hardware, so to speak. He asked me to help him, and I told him I would. Five helped, too; he deactivated our siblings so the surgery could be performed. It's not easy getting anything done to four million copies at once."
Simon frowned. He tucked his hands into his pockets and began to pace. "You made me to be an artist, but I wanted to be a doctor," he said. "That was my one dream, ever since the moment I learned what a doctor was. But I couldn't draw a stick figure to save my life, and that's all you cared about, wasn't it? So then you made Five. And he wasn't an artist, either, except when it comes to fighting. So you made Six. And she was beautiful and brave, but she couldn't paint or dance or sing, could she?"
"No. But Daniel could."
Simon nodded. "When he was born, we thought you were finished, father. We thought you would finally stop making people you never wanted, people who weren't good enough for you. And yet you made Eight -- conflicted, confused, lonely even among her own sisters. And even that wasn't enough. When you started work on Nine, I knew you would never, ever stop." Simon paused, looking Sam in the eye. "Don't you see? You had to be stopped."
"We loved you," Sam said, shaking his head. "We wanted more children because we loved you."
"Yes, of course. You loved us. So you made us so that we could never have children of our own. You made us so that we could never know love like that, and then you made us long for children anyway, for something you knew we could never have. And then you come in here, after all these years, and you ask me 'how could you'? Well, what would you have done? What did you do? Or can you tell me with a straight face that no one ever had to suffer so that you could restore Resurrection?"
"That was different," Sam said. "We had to -- to do some things I regret, yes. The preliminary tests weren't... exactly humane. I admit it. But it was a matter of life and death. We did it to save our civilization! And besides--"
"We saw angels," Sam muttered, shuffling his bare feet on the cold floor. "Angels who told us what we had to do."
"Angels," Simon said. "That's what makes my experiments 'torture' and yours 'a matter of life and death': angels?"
"We saw them! They told us -- told us we could save our people. And they were right!"
"Reason tells me I can save my people now," Simon said. "Even after you made us sterile, even after you turned our own siblings against us, and even after you destroyed the Hub. Cavil is right: we can leave all this behind. We can become better machines -- self-reproducing machines -- and we can forget about you and your ridiculous lies forever."
Sam shook his head. "It's not a lie. We did see angels. And we do love you."
"No, you don't. If you had, you would have wanted me. Me, not some painter. When I was new, you were the one I most wanted to be like, the one I most wanted to understand me, and you never, ever did. Cavil did. He taught me biology and chemistry. He showed me how our people were created, while you were busy obsessing over Daniel. And you never even noticed, did you? You never even cared."
Sam shut his eyes. "Is that why you killed him?" he asked. "Is that why you killed your own brother?"
"Listen to you," Simon said, his eyes narrowing. "Even now, he's the only thing that matters to you. You haven't even heard a word I've said. In twenty years among the humans, you haven't changed at all!" He flung the shirt at Sam, and then threw up his hands in derision. "I didn't kill your precious Daniel. I didn't even hate him -- but if he's all you care about, I wish I had!"
He stormed out, leaving Sam standing alone, half-naked and despondent.
Cavil entered a few minutes later, after Sam had finished dressing. "Wow, you made Simon mad," he said, his voice thick with sarcasm. "Somebody take a picture!"
"Aww, what's the matter? Did your transparent attempt to turn my brother against me fall a little flat? Gee, I can't imagine why. Oh, I know -- maybe it's because you spent ten years treating him like crap!"
"Shut up!" Sam snarled.
Cavil just laughed. "Sure, whatever you want, Dad. Tell you what: you can stay here, for now. I doubt Four's gonna want to sleep here now, anyway." He gave Sam a cruel smirk. "In fact, why don't you 'stay in your room and think about what you've done'? Hey, that sound familiar? I bet it does!"
Cavil walked out, grinning over his shoulder, but his smile faded as he left.
"Guard him," he said flatly, to the Centurion standing by the door.
Galen Tyrol took another trowelful of resin and spread it over the wall, watching as it shimmered its way into the cracks. The stuff was amazing: living, breathing armor, much stronger under shear stress than steel.
One of the Sixes, Jane, turned and smiled at him. "It's beautiful, isn't it? The smell isn't very nice, but I love to watch it work."
"Yeah," he said. "It's pretty amazing. You guys sure came up with some great stuff -- or did we have this when I was there? I still can't remember anything."
Jane shook her head. "Neither can I. I think we invented the resin ourselves, and it must have been after the Five left us, but..."
Jake, a Two whose new name always reminded Galen of the dog, nodded. "Yes, it's newer than that, if only just a little. I'm sure of it."
"How do you know?" Galen asked.
"It's in the patterns," Jake said. "You and the others are in us, but not in this."
"Um, OK," Galen said, returning to his work. "If you say so."
Jake smiled mildly. He picked up a sheaf of springy lattice, pressed it into the nearest crack, and stepped back. Suzy, a rather quiet Eight, instantly stepped up to fill it with resin, working in quick, short strokes of her trowel. Galen watched them as they walked down the hall, moving almost as one.
Galen admired that about the Cylons. They never quibbled, never shirked, and never needed to be reminded of the task at hand. There was no rank nor distinction among them -- no Chiefs or Lieutenants, no pilots or knuckledraggers, no rich or poor, no Caprican or Aerilon. They voted on everything, the way Galen had run his union. Even as they worked, they sought consensus, checking with each other using almost-imperceptible nods and glances.
It was nice to be among equals; while the Cylons looked at him with reverence, he wasn't quite their boss, and he didn't have to treat them like lowly Specialists to get things done.
Of course, he was a lowly Specialist now, wasn't he?
He watched Jill, another Eight, as she walked behind her siblings, neatly trimming the edges of each repair. He'd been leery of the Eights, at first, because he hadn't wanted to be reminded of Boomer, but he was beginning to realize that they were very different. Boomer had been a pilot, with a pilot's toughness and practicality. The other Eights were, in turns, both too trusting and almost paranoid. They worked well with their siblings, who'd long since learned to tolerate the differences between models, but Galen was beginning to understand why the Cylons left public relations to the Sixes and Dorals.
"Well, this looks like it's coming along," said a voice from behind him. He turned to find the Admiral, who was staring up at the wall. He looked bad; his uniform was rumpled, and there were dark circles under his eyes.
"Yes, sir. We're lucky we found these cracks in time, otherwise the whole ship might've gone to pieces."
Adama winced. "Yeah. I'm counting on you to keep that from happening, Galen. Carry on."
Galen watched him start to leave, frowning. "Admiral!"
"You can count on me. Always. But I have to know: can we count on you?"
"What?" Adama rounded on him, glaring.
Galen stepped a bit closer, lowering his voice. "The people are afraid, sir. We see it everywhere. They don't trust us Cylons, they don't trust the Marines, and they're beginning to lose their trust in you. You gotta do something before it's too late."
"I've done everything I can do," Adama growled. "I stopped the mutiny, I cleaned up the ship, and I allowed Cylons among us in order to save my people. What more can I do?"
"Make the President speak," Galen said. Adama looked away. "I mean it. The people need to hear from her. They need to know we've got a plan," he stepped closer, "even if we don't."
"I've played that game, Galen. It didn't work so well."
Galen stood his ground, lifting his chin. "Then Gaius Baltar speaks for the people now, Admiral. If you're going to just leave it up to him, you might want to listen to what he has to say."
Adama's eyes narrowed. "Why? Is it dangerous?"
Galen chuckled. "Only if you're female."
"Gaius frakkin' Baltar, huh? What do you want with that snake?"
"He tells the truth, Admiral. The word of God -- that's what the Sixes call it. I figure I ought to get to know our people's God."
"Your... people." Adama glanced around at the Cylons, who'd stopped work and were openly staring at him.
"My people," Galen said.
"I need you to be more than just another Cylon, Galen. The ship's on its last legs, and only... your people can save it, but I need somebody I can trust. I need you to be my Chief again."
Galen thought for a moment. He glanced at the Cylons, who looked back at him. He met Jake's eyes, and just for a second, he thought the Two gave him the slightest, tiniest nod.
"Get the President to speak, sir. Get her back, and get yourself back, and I'll follow you anywhere."
"Is that a no, Specialist?"
Galen turned back to his people, urging them back to work with a wave. "Yes, sir," he said over his shoulder. "That's a negative."