When Anastasia—Dee to everyone alive, now—found out she was three months pregnant, her first reaction was panic.
It was funny. After all this time running for the Cylons, Dee hadn't thought she had any panic left in her. Guess she was wrong about that. But really, it was the Cylons that were the problem: what person could bring a child into this? Roslin—and Billy, too, the ache and guilt from his death were probably never going to go away—were so focused on the need to reproduce, the need to perpetuate the species, but if this hell were all the human race had to look forward to, better it end sooner than later. To create a child in a world of fear and pain and loss, that was just cruel.
The doc gave her a list of dos and don'ts. It was a lot shorter than it would have been back in the colonies; there weren't any prenatal vitamins left, their food choices were severely limited, and lightening her stress-load wasn't possible. About the only thing he could do was tell her to cut out alcohol, and she'd never been much of a drinker anyway.
"Thanks," she said ironically. "Anything else?"
The doc shook her head. "I'll see you in a couple weeks, let me know if anything strange happens. We weren't equipped to be an OB clinic even before we sent half our equipment and meds down to the surface."
"Right," she said. "Two weeks." She nodded goodbye, and headed out the hatch. She'd gone a few corridors lost in thought before realizing that she was on her way to the bridge. All that time hovering there during their escape had drilled it into her. It was the middle of her sleep cycle, but she'd been feeling weird for a while and hadn't wanted to take time from her bridge shifts to go. And she was so keyed up waiting for the Cylons to find them and attack that she hadn't felt like sleeping, anyway.
What the hell. She was halfway there, anyway. She walked through the glass doors to the shiny, efficient space, missing Galactica's grime and character. "Anything interesting, Lieutenant Hoshi?" she asked.
"No, Sir," he said, face carefully neutral. He didn't say her rank because no one, herself included, was quite sure what that was at the moment. "No Cylon contacts. Two Vipers in Galactica's CAP almost collided with one another."
There were muffled snickers around the bridge, and Dee shot a glare around. It wasn't anyone's fault Galactica's pilots were having problems; too many of them were nuggets and there weren't many experienced officers left to provide guidance and leadership. Pegasus had relatively few holes; most of the crew had chosen not to go down to New Caprica. "Anything else?"
Hoshi shrugged. "Not unless you want to go over the numbers for ordnance manufacturing."
"Not right now, Mister Hoshi," Dee said. She looked around, at all the crewmembers carefully not looking at her, and realized she'd become what she'd hated as a bridge bunny: senior officers who interrupted and got in the way just because they were bored. "Carry on."
She had to at least try to sleep, so she headed back to her quarters and stripped for bed. Once under the covers she closed her eyes and took slow, deep breaths, trying to calm her mind.
If it had been any other time, Dee would have thought about ending it. Well. Thought more seriously, at any rate. With the prohibition of abortion, Cottle wouldn't do it, but there were others in the Fleet who would. But the Cylons had found New Caprica the week before, and the Fleet jumped away and abandoned the people on the ground, and Lee had been on the surface to deliver meds for Kara Thrace's husband. Dee wanted to believe he was alive, but only the gods knew. It was about the worst possible time to have a child, but.
Dee didn't want to limit her options. Maybe later. She still had a month or two before it started getting noticeable.
That was the thing: if anyone suspected, if the Admiral found out … she could imagine killing Bill Adama's only chance at a grandchild, but she couldn't imagine him knowing about it. He had strong feelings about family. Dee came from Sagittaron. She understood.
When the Six—she didn't have a name, yet—found out she was pregnant, her first reaction was shock.
"Are you sure?" she asked the Four. It was so sudden. She'd never been sick, before, but she'd been slightly nauseous in the mornings, and her breasts were a little sore. She had thought perhaps she had somehow picked up a disease from the humans—New Caprica was so filthy and primitive, disease was rampant—or perhaps had a defective body. Six had wanted advice from a Four: was it serious enough that she should download, or was there medicine that would fix it quickly and easily?
"No, I'm not sure," he said. "I've never examined a pregnant woman. I've sent for Cottle, at least he's seen this before."
"Cottle? Oh, the human," Six said. "Is that really necessary?" She frowned at the idea of a human examining her, touching her. It was different with Lee, of course. He was her prisoner, her project. Besides, she loved him, didn't she? If she was pregnant, she had to. And he must love her.
"I think so," the Four said. "If there are any complications, we'll want a doctor who has actually done this before. And he's the only one, Cylon or Human, with any experience with a Cylon-Human hybrid pregnancy." He studied her, with an expression and an intensity that made her … a little uncomfortable. She didn't know why, and dismissed the feeling. "We'll have to do a lot of tests, to see if we can figure out what happened and how to duplicate it," he said.
"Of course," Six said, beaming. "Wouldn't it be wonderful if more of my sisters could experience this blessing?" It was a blessing. She was happy. She was thrilled, to receive this miracle from God.
"Yes," the Four said.
Hours later, after Cottle had examined her and several fours had taken blood, urine, and skin samples, and several scans, Six was finally free to leave the medical building and head back to the apartment complex where she lived with Lee. It took her half the trip to realize what was bothering her.
The humans averted their eyes and hurried past her, that much hadn't changed. But the Cylons stared. With awe, envy, or speculation. She wasn't just another Six now, she was special.
She had never been different before.
She was just tense, that's all. It was such a surprise. She would go tell Lee, and he would be happy, and they would relax, and she would be fine.
Dee requested a private meeting with the Admiral.
"Come in, Lieutenant," he said, when she knocked on the hatch of his quarters.
"Admiral," she said, bracing to attention as the hatch swung closed behind her.
"It's good to see you, Dee," he said, coming forward and giving her a hug. "I've told you before, call me Bill."
"Only in private … Bill," Dee said, luxuriating in the touch of another human being, ignoring the strangeness of using his name.
"So, Dee, we have a lot to talk about," the Admiral said, gesturing for her to have a seat on his couch.
"Yes, sir, we do," Dee said. "If the Cylons were looking for us, they'd probably have found us at least once by now. Now that things are quieting down, at least for the moment, we need to figure out what we're going to do about command of Pegasus."
Adama sat back, face blank in that way that made him so intimidating as a superior. "You were the first officer. The Commander is gone, that makes you the Commander."
"No, Bill." Dee shook her head. "I wasn't even an officer when the war started. I've been in Galactica's CIC for long enough that I can just barely manage to be an XO. I can handle the day-to-day running of a battleship. I cannot command it in battle. I just don't have the tactical training." She shrugged. "And that’s just the practical aspects of it. The crew resented me when Lee made me his XO, because I am just a jumped-up bridge bunny. There were several officers on both ships who would have been a better choice, who were staying aboard—Louis Hoshi, for one. They swallowed me because they were still in shock from losing so many commanders so quickly, and because Lee and I were married, and because we weren't supposed to need to fight. But things are different now."
"Pegasus has been a problem since day one," Adama said. "And our choices are even more limited, now. I've been thinking about how to handle this. There are several options, none good. You know the officers on Pegasus better than I do, what's your suggestion?"
"Marcia Case is one of the most senior pilots we have left up here," Dee said. Command typically went to officers who'd started out as pilots, but given how quickly they went through pilots, they didn't have that many to draw from. "She's a captain. If the Colonies hadn't fallen, she'd probably be a major by now. She's solid, smart, dependable, and she's good at getting her people working."
Adama was shaking his head. "We don't have enough experienced pilots as it is. We can't afford to lose any more. That's going to be the single most critical part of the battle."
"Okay," Dee said. "Then make Louis Hoshi the commander of the Pegasus, with me as his XO. We work well together, and I think we could make it work."
Adama shook his head. "Aside from the fact that promoting someone from your subordinate to your CO in one swoop is a bad idea, that would also leave our most powerful ship with the least experienced command staff, and you were right that it could easily be a disaster. How well do you think he could work with Helo?"
Dee sat back and thought. Louis hadn't been involved in the abuse of Pegasus' Cylon prisoner (that she knew), and as far as she knew didn't hate Cylons more than anybody else, and Karl Agathon was a good-natured man who made friends easily. Of course, unlike the Galactica's crew, he hadn't known Helo before he showed up with a pregnant Cylon in tow, and knew Helo mostly as one of the two men who killed Lieutenant Thorne and almost caused open warfare between Galactica and Pegasus. "I don't know, Bill," she said. "Both Louis and Helo are generally easy-going people, easy to get along with, but … I don't know that I would want to push it. I definitely would not transfer Helo to Pegasus."
Adama snorted. "That would be a recipe for disaster. No. Here's my idea: I transfer to Pegasus, with you as my XO. The crew of the Pegasus may not like me, but I think they'll like the prestige of being the flagship again. I promote Helo to Commander and give him Lieutenant Hoshi as his XO, promoted to Major. That should help soothe some ruffled feathers about you being jumped over their people."
"Galactica won't like it, though," Dee pointed out, stiffening. If she and the Admiral were on the same ship, it would be a lot harder to conceal a pregnancy. Or an abortion. "People like Helo, but nobody's forgotten about Sharon. And they won't like being commanded by interlopers from Pegasus any more than Pegasus liked Lee and I."
"There's no choice we could make that would satisfy everyone," Adama said. "We just don't have enough people. I think this is the least objectionable choice, and that'll have to be good enough. I'll be back over regularly, though, for training. We have too many holes being filled by green people at all levels, but particularly in positions of authority. If we're going to go back to get our people, that's got to change. Before the Colonies fell, no one got past major without a stint at the War College. We can't recreate it, but I want to give you and Helo and Hoshi and some of the more senior pilots and bridge officers as much of that training as I can. I've got copies of the best of the manuals and texts, and there might be others left behind in Saul's or Cain's quarters."
"Maybe," Dee said. "I know there are some things of Cain's that were never distributed after her death. I'll look." She paused, tilting her head. "When should I be moved out of the Commanders' quarters?"
Adama raised an eyebrow. "You're my daughter-in-law, and those quarters are more than big enough for two people. You're welcome to stay."
Dee almost laughed. "The XO quarters I've never used are almost as nice," she said. "And having worked Communications for years, I've got a pretty good idea what sort of rumors our sharing quarters would start. They might be funny, but they'd also cause problems. No. I'll move."
"All right," Adama said. "Call it a week, to get everything arranged and handed over properly. I'll help you through the formalities, and such. Do you want to tell Lieutenant Hoshi, or shall I?"
"I'm his commander, at least for the next week," Dee said. "I'll do it."
"I look forward to working with you again," Adama said with a smile.
"Likewise, Admiral," Dee said, returning it. She rose, recognizing a dismissal when she heard it.
On the way back to the launch bays, Dee ducked into a quiet corner, wrapping her arms around herself and trying to keep calm. A week. She had a week to decide.
"Hey, are you okay?"
Dee turned to find Helo looking at her with concerned eyes. She considered. Her few friends on the fleet were mostly either stuck on New Caprica, or too far below her in rank now for her to confide in them, and if she'd realized that before-hand she'd have been a lot less likely to take Lee up on his offer. She and Helo had never been friends, but they'd been stationed in different sections and separated by rank. Now, they were close in rank, doing the same job, and although that would change within the week, Commander and XO were far more similar than bridge bunny and pilot. If she was going to be an officer for the long haul, she was going to need to start building new friendships. "Do you want the real answer?"
He smiled. "Yeah," he said.
"I haven't been okay since the Colonies fell," Dee said. "I mean, I'm no more screwed up than anyone else, and less than some I could name, but … sometimes it just gets to you, you know?"
"Particularly when we've had to flee from another home and abandon everyone because of the Cylons," Helo said. "I know what you mean. I was sorry to hear about Lee. I pray to the gods for his safety, and for everyone stuck there."
"Thank you," Dee said. "Lee isn't the only person I love trapped there. I had friends, too."
"Don't we all," Helo said. He looked away, face tightening. "I don't know whether to put pictures up on the Wall or not."
"I wouldn't," Dee said. "We're going back. If we assume they're dead already, we're going to be shooting ourselves in the ass before we even get started. Once we get them back, then we can count the cost." The cost of following that insane egomaniac Baltar.
"Good point," Helo said. He sighed. "Gods, I hope we can get them out in time …"
Dee looked at him, and realized that the Cylon he'd brought back and married—Sharon—was the only woman Dee knew who'd ever been pregnant. The only live woman, at any rate. All of a sudden, Dee was hit with a wave of homesickness of the kind she hadn't had since the first few months of leaving the Colonies. What she wouldn't give to be able to ask her mother or aunts about it! But what was she supposed to say: sorry you lost your baby, can I pick your wife's brain about being pregnant? And that was even if she was willing to take advice from a Cylon I the first place! And willing to take the chance on the news getting out.
"Thanks for stopping," Dee said at last. "I have to go catch my flight."
"They won't leave without you," Helo said.
"I know, but that doesn't mean I want to make them wait," Dee replied. The last thing she needed was more grumbling about her.
Six took a deep breath and let it out. Don't be too enthusiastic, she reminded herself. This pregnancy was a blessing from God, and her insides were jumping in a way she'd never felt before. It must be joy, mixed with the uncertainty of walking a path she hadn't planned on. Lee still needed to be handled carefully. The baby was proof that he loved her—or maybe just that he could love her, a corner of her brain whispered traitorously—but he might not be ready to admit it. And if he wasn't, well, she would need to be patient, and loving, and help him see the truth. And for that, she needed to be clear-headed and attentive, not wrapped up in her own emotions.
Feeling she was ready, she nodded to the guard at the door. He unlocked it and swung it open, and she stepped through, closing it behind her. She could hear the bolts close behind her, and it didn't oppress her spirits as it once had. If Lee loved her, and would admit it, they wouldn't need the locks any more. Wouldn't it be nice, going to market and taking their child out to play in the park where she had seen human children play, and then coming back here and curling up on the couch together? Of course, if she were merely the first of many pregnant Cylons, maybe they could build a playground for their own children, separate from the Human playground. It would be much safer, after all.
"Lee?" she called.
He was sitting in the living room, reading a book. She didn't see why; Cylons didn't read much. If she needed to know something, she would join the data interface and download it. Humans couldn't do that, so they read. But it wasn't like Lee needed to know anything about wireless sets or the history of the Libran justice system, and the other two were only fiction stories, unreal and therefore unimportant. Still, she liked to keep him happy when she could, so when he'd asked for something to read, she'd asked the Centurions to get her four books.
He looked up at her approach, but didn't say anything. He was always very quiet, but she didn't mind. It was very peaceful. It was easy to spend time here, and forget the harsh realities happening outside, the strong measures her brothers and sisters had to take to keep order.
"I have some exciting news," she said. "And I hope you'll be as happy as I am."
"What is it?" he asked, and she couldn't tell from his face what he was thinking. He was always so wary of her, of showing himself to her, and while she understood why, it did make things difficult.
"I'm pregnant!" she said.
His eyes widened, just a little, and he rocked back on his feet. "Pregnant?" he said, with a slight frown. "Isn't that, ah, kind of unlikely?"
"It's a miracle," she said firmly. "This is only the second Cylon pregnancy, though of course you know that. I'd dreamed of having a child—we all have—but I never thought that God would choose me to bless with this gift."
"Are you sure?" Lee said.
"That I'm pregnant? Of course!" She shook her head. "I wouldn't want to get your hopes up if it wasn't true. They did so many tests—that's why I'm a bit later than I planned, we all wanted to be absolutely sure. They've already sent word back to the Colonies to find a maternity ward in one of the low-radiation areas, decontaminate all the equipment, and bring it here."
Lee nodded slowly. "So, will they let Cottle use this new maternity ward for human women, too?"
She frowned—she hadn't thought of that. "As far as we know I'm the only Cylon currently pregnant," she said. "And given how stubborn the humans are being, I doubt there will be another any time soon. So I don't see why they couldn't let the humans use it, too." She couldn't promise anything—the Ones were constantly making noises that they should reduce the human population to make them more tractable, and would block anything that might raise the Human birthrate to replacement levels. On the other hand, the Eights would probably argue that it was only right, and the Fives would say it would be good for propaganda.
"It's our equipment," Lee said. "We designed it, we built it, and we operated it until the colonies were destroyed. It's only fair that we get to use it."
"Hmm," she said noncommittally. He made a good point, and he was properly polite about it—that should be rewarded, he'd spent the first few weeks after he'd been transferred to her custody in various states of hostility, rudeness, and defiance until she'd trained him to be more pliant. She didn't care what the Ones said, humans could learn to be peaceful and civil, Lee was living proof. Maybe she should put in a word with her fellow Sixes on the subject. God loved all children, after all, and it wasn't the human children's fault they were the wrong species. Besides, the only two Cylon children conceived so far were half-human, so letting the human race die out before the next generation of Cylons could be born seemed shortsighted. "Well, it may be possible."
"Thank you," Lee said.
He was still looking at her oddly, as if he didn't quite believe her. She didn't understand it; after all, she'd never lied to him, not once, so why should he distrust her so? After all, she'd saved him from the cell and the Ones' interrogations! She'd given him a nicer place to live and better food than virtually any other Human now alive.
She looked away. She'd been stared at quite enough today. The bubbly feeling inside was a lot quieter than it had been when she'd gotten here. "So!" she said cheerfully. "What do Humans do when they find out they are expecting a child?"
"I don't exactly have any first-hand experience," Lee said. "But a new parent generally spends time getting ready—getting a crib, toys, clothes, a playpen, all the necessary supplies. Maybe decorating a bedroom for the coming child. Oh, and deciding on a name."
"Isn't it a bit early for that?" she asked. "After all, I'm not far enough along to tell whether it's a boy or a girl."
"So, you come up with two names," Lee said. "One if it's a boy, another if it's a girl."
"Okay," she said, swallowing. It was such a daunting task. She'd chosen names once or twice before, of course, for undercover operatives who needed them. Among themselves, Cylons either didn't bother with names or all copies of a model used the same one. But this child would not be grown in the vats, and he or she wouldn't have a model number. The name would be it, for his or her entire life. "Do you have any particular names to suggest?"
Lee nodded. "If it's a girl, Carolanne."
"After your mother?" she said, tilting her head to the side. She had only the vaguest notions of what mothers were and what they were supposed to do, which made it all the more incredible that in a short while she would be one herself.
"It's a good name," Lee insisted.
"Yes, it is," she replied. It sounded pretty enough, with no unfortunate meanings. "I have no objection."
She wondered what Carolanne Adama would have thought about the whole thing, if Lee's mother would have liked her. Perhaps Lee wondered that, too.
They'd never know.
Dee called Hoshi in to the Commander's office, and offered him a seat before Lee's desk. "I assume you've heard the rumors that we're planning to go back to New Caprica to rescue the rest of the Fleet?"
"Yes, Sir," he said, and carefully did not say that Admiral Cain would have cut their losses and resumed random attacks on any Cylons they could find. That was one of the main reasons Dee had suggested him; he had none of the blind hero-worship Cain had inspired in so many of her crew.
"In order to do that, we're going to need to be in peak form. Obviously, that means lots of drills and training to regain our edge, but it'll be more than that. The Admiral has decided to reorganize the command structure of the Fleet, given the holes left by our flight from New Caprica, and the lack of senior officers with tactical and strategic training." She paused, to give him time to digest that. He didn't say anything. What could he, after all, that wasn't a comment on her own inexperience? "The official announcement will be made in a few days, but I wanted to give you a heads-up. You're being promoted to Major and transferred to Galactica as XO. Admiral Adama will be transferring his flag to Pegasus, with me as his XO. Karl Agathon will be promoted to Commander and given command of Galactica. Do you believe you can work with him?"
Hoshi hesitated. "I … it depends," he said. "Much of what I've heard about him … hasn't been good."
Dee nodded. "Thank you for being honest. No matter what the rumor mill on Pegasus says, Helo is and has always been loyal to the Fleet. He is also one of the people I know least likely to substitute expediency for ethics, so it's not a blind loyalty. Basically, he'd die for the Fleet in a heartbeat if he had to, but he wouldn't commit a crime for it." Which made him somewhat like Felix, Dee realized; she hadn't thought of it like that before. Gods, she missed Felix, stuck on New Caprica. She would have hoped the Cylon invasion finally showed him he'd been wrong to report the election fraud, that sometimes morals had to take a backseat to reality, but she wasn't that cruel.
"I see," Hoshi said. "I've heard he still visits the Cylon in Galactica's brig?"
"They're married now," Dee confirmed. "Like I said, he's a very loyal guy." She smiled ironically. Kind of stupid about it sometimes, but loyal.
"And what would happen when those loyalties conflicted?" Hoshi asked.
"Then he'd choose whichever side he believed to be ethically right," Dee said. "Look at it this way: she left her people to follow him, not the other way around. And they both knew what the consequences of that would be."
Hoshi nodded. "Then yes, I think I'll be able to work with him."
"Good," Dee said. "You'll need to familiarize yourself with the Galactica's systems and routines, and if you have any tactics or strategic training material, get it out and start working on it. The Admiral is planning on running us through something as close as he can get to the War College."
"Really?" Hoshi said in surprise. "That's a lot of effort. Is he planning on having us stay in these roles after we rescue whatever survivors we can from New Caprica?"
"We've got to rescue them, first," Dee pointed out. "We'll need every bit of strategy we can get. And as for after, who knows? It'll depend on who survives and what condition they're in."
"I guess so." Hoshi shifted. "Sir? How committed is the Admiral to this rescue idea?"
"Worried about suicidal attacks?" Dee said, though Cain had been worse at those than Adama ever could be. And if it came down to insane plans, she'd rather die rescuing people than in a revenge attack. "He's not stupid. It doesn't matter if we rescue our people if we can't defend them, afterwards. But he's very loyal. He'll find a way. And it's our job to make it happen." She put some snap into her voice. Allowing questions in private was one thing, but in the long run Hoshi needed to be more focused on doing his job than on questioning his superiors.
"Yes, Sir," Hoshi said.
"Well, Major, you've got a lot of work ahead of you," Dee said.
"Yes, Sir." Hoshi stood, hearing the dismissal, and left.
Once he was out the door, Dee leaned back in her chair and sighed. Loyal. Yes, the Admiral was loyal. That was one way she was more like the Admiral than like Lee. Lee, and Felix, who both prized ethics above people. But what good was riding in on a high horse when all it did was trample the people you loved? Or abandon them to the cold, rational calculations of the greatest good? No. People were more important. Family was more important. If Lee were here … she honestly didn't know him well enough to know what he'd think about all of this.
She rubbed a hand over her stomach. In any case, it wasn't about what Lee would want, even if he had been here. She grimaced. What she wouldn't give for an Oracle right now! Six months from now, would the Cylons have killed and enslaved them, or would they be reunited with friends and loved ones and back on the path to Earth under Roslin's leadership? If they never found Earth, it would be better for everyone if there was no child. But if they did find Earth, she would regret not having it.
It came down to a choice, really. Was she going to choose to believe that Adama and Roslin couldn't do what they said they would, that the Fleet would wander forever homeless like ghosts? Or would she choose to believe that they'd escape this never-ending hell?
It had been so long since she'd been at a consensus meeting, Six reflected. She'd been so busy with Lee, and there were others of her model who were more aware of the larger plan, and so it hadn't seemed important. The chamber in Colonial One was far more hostile than any consensus she could remember.
"Love, hell," the One sneered. "She's fucking a prisoner, a pet. Even if she's infatuated with him, I highly doubt he reciprocates. No. This is something else."
"You've never laid eyes on him," she said coolly, keeping her face and voice calm despite her pounding heart. "Who are you to make judgments?"
"And who are you to think your opinions on the subject matter more than the rest of the consensus?" he said.
"It's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact," a Four said. He leaned back in his chair, arms folded. "And right now we don't have enough evidence to prove—or disprove—any theory of how this happens. I think the idea that it's love is wishful thinking. But hopefully having a pregnancy that we can actually monitor and test will prove the issue one way or another."
"You all better hope it's not love," the One said. "After all, look at what loving a human did to that poor Eight. It completely made her lose all her sense of self, turned her against her own people. So you can see why it disturbs me to hear the next pregnant Cylon making the same argument. It isn't far from loving a human to throwing everything away for one. I hope your pet hasn't turned your head that far. Before you go rhapsodizing about love, ask yourself where your loyalties are!"
She stared at him. How could he question her loyalty? She was no weak-willed, malleable Eight. But how to prove it without bowing to his argument? Ones were good at twisting your words against you. "My loyalties," she said slowly, "are with my child. And all future Cylon children, as they are the future of our race. We were commanded by God to be fruitful and multiply, and on a practical level, if Cylons are ever to evolve beyond our present capacity, we'll need them. I'm not going to let petty hates or fears destroy our future, and I very much hope you won't interfere in that."
"In any case," a Three broke in, "whether it's love or some other factor, this is the second Cylon pregnancy … and both of them are the result of a long-term monogamous pairing with a human. I hate to say it, but it does support the need to work with humans. At the very least, we want to keep them around until we've figured it out for ourselves. And whether it really is about love or not, keeping the Humans around will be easier if we can placate them. I think we need to reevaluate our strategy here on New Caprica."
"What do you mean?" asked a Five. "Surely, you can't be suggesting we allow their chaos and violence to pass unchecked."
"No, of course not," the Three said. "They're always complaining about housing, but producing building materials is going slow. Fine. Load up a few basestars at the Colonies with construction materials, ship them here, and put the humans to work building their own new homes. It's terribly inefficient and a waste of Tyllium, but in one swoop we'll have given them less time to wreak havoc and removed one of their pretenses for doing so."
"Particularly if we don't bring out much heavy equipment to help," the Five said. "If they have to do it by hand, that should keep them busy for a long time."
"What about the obstetrics equipment we're bringing here?" Six asked. "Obviously, I'll only be needing it part of the time, and at the moment, I'm the only pregnant Cylon. But there are many pregnant Humans. Medical care, particularly for children, is another thing they've been complaining about. As long as it's here, why not kill two birds with one stone?"
A One snorted. "If we have to keep the humans around, I'd rather malleable children who'll grow up not knowing anything but our presence, to adults who remember the Colonies." Another of his model shot him a dirty look.
"But why will the equipment be here on the ground?" a Three asked. "I'd assumed that the pregnant Six would be transferred up to a Basestar for the duration. It's just too dirty, and dangerous, here on New Caprica. I for one would hope that the future of the Cylon race would be born someplace safer and nicer than this dump."
Six frowned. She hadn't thought of that. She would like to be back home, and she supposed it made no difference whether Lee was contained in orbit or on the planet's surface.
"No," a Four said, shaking his head. "There are just too many unknown variables involved, we don't want to change anything without understanding more. It's true, both pregnancies have been half-human, but it's also true that both were conceived on planetary surfaces. There may be some subtle condition on a planet that is better than that on a ship. Or maybe it's something about the ships themselves. In any case, we don't want to take any risks. We can beef up security, and redouble sanitation efforts throughout the human camp to keep disease down. It should be enough."
"And cleaner conditions and lower disease rates will also help lower discontent levels," another Six pointed out.
"I haven't heard any objections to this new strategy," the pregnant Six said. "Construction materials from the Colonies, sanitation, use of the obstetrics equipment when it arrives." Basic necessities for the Humans were something the Sixes and Eights had been working for since they'd arrived on New Caprica. Could it really be this easy?
"It's a waste of our time and resources," a One said. "Let the Humans fend for themselves. If they can't house their own people and keep themselves clean, I don't see why we should bother."
"Not even for the possibility of our own children?" an Eight asked.
"I don't see why we should do it for the Humans, either," a Four said. "But it's a small price to pay for the possibility of finally figuring this out. In the long run, well, we'll have to wait and see."
"We would be able to use it to counteract some of their propaganda," a Five said.
"Then, the general consensus is, it should be done?" she pressed.
The various models conferred with glances and nods. "Obviously, we're in favor of these humanitarian measures," the other Six said. The Eights nodded agreement.
"We think it's a good idea, at least for now," a Four said.
"Let's do it, and see if it makes a difference, at least," said a Five.
The pregnant Six let out an unobtrusive breath. Four of the seven models—they had a majority!
"The Twos agree," said a Two, the first thing he'd said all meeting.
"Yeah, you would," said a One. "You've bought the 'love' delusion hook, line, and sinker. How's your brother doing with that pilot you're all so obsessed with?"
"Kara doesn't know she loves Leoben yet," he replied. "She's afraid of her destiny. It will take time. And while we wait, we can lay the foundations for others to find their destinies."
"Leoben, hah," said the One. He turned to the pregnant Six. "Next thing you know, you'll be wanting a name, too. Or maybe you already have one, to make it easier to play house with the Admiral's son. What does he call you?"
"Six," she replied.
"But you have a point," the Two said. "Names are only important when there is something of distinction, something special. Leoben has a name because he is destined to be with Kara Thrace. Caprica Six has a name because of her great work bringing the main defense grid down for our attack. If mere military success earns a name, surely hosting a miracle from God should as well."
"A name is not a reward," a One said, disgusted. "A name is a Human thing! Individual names destroy the very idea of Cylon unity!"
"She's already set apart by virtue of her pregnancy," a Three said. "It's not her doing, or anyone else's, it's God's. I don't see any harm in acknowledging it."
"It would make for easier record-keeping, too," said the Four. "After all, we're going to be recording a lot of information about this specific Six and no other."
"Whether we approve of individual names or not, I don't think we can stop it happening in this case," a Five said.
"Do you have any particular name you'd like?" an Eight asked.
The pregnant Six thought for a second. The first name that came to mind was Carolanne, but that was for the baby if it was a girl. She'd never been on an undercover mission among the Humans, so she'd never even had a cover identity. Really, she didn't know that many names. "Lida," she said, picking something from memory. How did she know that name? Oh, yes, Lee had spoken of her, briefly: Lida, his first lover.
"All right, Lida," the Eight said, smiling.
Lida suppressed a shiver. This would take some getting used to. So much was changing, must her identity change as well? Except it already had, the moment she found out she was pregnant. This was just the outwardly symbol of it.
"Are we done pandering to Human complaints and throwing unity out the window?" a one asked. "'Cause if we are, and there's no other business to discuss, some of us have actual work to do, not just lounging around in a cushy apartment with a Human pet."
Dee took a deep breath and held it as the Admiral's Raptor settled into its place on deck. Hoshi had already been dispatched to Galactica a few hours ago. Around her, the hustle and bustle of a busy hangar stilled for the ceremony of a transfer of command. There had been a surprising amount of work to get ready for this, both the ceremony and the actual change, and Dee had been so busy with it that she hadn't made a decision about the pregnancy one way or the other.
Well, she supposed that meant she was keeping it. If she'd really wanted to get rid of it, she'd have found time to do so. She hadn't been that busy. She was kind of disgusted with herself for taking the coward's way out and letting circumstances force her hand, though.
She shook herself as the raptor's hatch opened, and pasted a sincere smile on her face. Projecting the appearance of unity for the crew was essential. It wasn't an act, but it did need to be obvious, particularly as she was being replaced in command.
The Admiral stepped down, and she saluted him, going through the motions of the ceremony. "Welcome aboard," she said, shaking his hand after it was concluded.
"Thank you," he replied. "I'm sure we'll work well together. I need to make a speech for the crew, and I'll spend the rest of the shift in CIC. I'd like to invite you and the command crew to join me for dinner in my cabin, say, 1730 hours?"
"Thank you, sir, I'll spread the word," Dee said.
All in all, it was a relief to get back to the XO's job. In some ways, it was more work, but it was work she'd had time to grow familiar with. The Commander made the decisions, while the XO saw that they were carried out. The XO made sure the ship and crew were ready for whatever the Commander needed. Actually, being a petty officer had given her a decent head start on the job: she had a view from the bottom of how things actually worked, so she'd started out with a pretty good idea of what to do—and what not to do—to keep a ship running smoothly. There'd been a learning curve (a steep one!) but she'd had a place to start. Not so with her short stint as Commander.
Admiral Adama's first partial shift on Pegasus went by without a hitch, the officers and crew striving to prove themselves more efficient and competent than their counterparts on Galactica. The conversation at dinner that evening was stiff at times, but not terribly so. The Admiral spent most of it getting to know the officers he knew mostly by name and reputation.
"So, Captain Taylor," Adama said, sipping at his water, "tell me about the state of our air wing."
Stinger swallowed his bite before replying. "They're solid, Admiral. Only about twenty percent of our pilots mustered out to New Caprica, and our birds are in top condition. We've consolidated down to six squadrons, filling in holes as needed, and we had enough time after the settlement of New Caprica to gel pretty solidly in our new configurations. My squadron leaders are Captains Case, Richardson, and Higgs, and Lieutenants Amante and Birch. On our last simulation we averaged 73% efficiency, and in our last exercise we out-flew and out-shot Galacticas air wing as you know."
"That’s fine, Captain," Adama said. "Now tell me something I couldn't read in a report."
"Sir, I don’t know what you want to know—"
"How are your people doing?" Adama asked. "What are their strengths and weaknesses, what should I be looking out for?"
Stinger thought for a few moments. "We are best at attacks," he said, leaning back in his chair. "We got a lot of practice under Admiral Cain. You want us to take out a target, my people will do it or die trying. Our defense is a little weaker, since we aren’t used to running away from a fight, or having to sheep-dog civvies in the wrong place at the wrong time. So if you are planning on keeping some of your fighters back to protect what's left of the Fleet while we attack New Caprica, I'm sure Galactica's pilots will do fine. As to how my people are doing, well, we are mad as hell that we didn’t even get to launch against the frakking toasters, just ran away with our tails between our legs."
Dee pursed her lips at the slur on Galactica and the way Adama and Roslin had run the Fleet. If she responded to every snide comment, she would only deepen the discord between the two ships and alienate herself from her crew. Sometimes the line was hard to find.
"Oh, come on," Lieutenant Firelli said, rolling his eyes. He was one of the watch officers, and Dee had a good working relationship with him. If he had more experience, she would have suggested him instead of Hoshi for Galactica's XO. "With all due respect, sir, we got caught with our pants down around our ankles and the Cylons had our number. I was in CIC that day, watching our response time. Great flying and shooting skills don't matter in the long run if your pilots get shot like fish in a barrel as they launch."
"We should never have settled down," Major Durgan said, morosely. Durgan was the chief engineer, a dour woman who, like most of the engineers, rarely mixed with those outside her specialty. Dee didn't know her that well. "New Caprica was a bad idea from the start. Besides the fact that it is a pit, I don’t believe anybody was stupid enough to believe the Cylons wouldn’t find us eventually."
"It was the decision of the legally elected president of the Colonies," Adama said mildly. He paused. "I didn't vote for him."
A chorus of snickers went around the table.
"Maybe not, sir, but given the chance quite a lot of Galactica's crew chose to settle, rather than remain in the fleet." Durgan raised an eyebrow, secure in the knowledge that her position as chief engineer left her outside the normal chain of command, which gave her more leeway. "We had fewer defections."
"'Defections' is a strong word," Adama said. "The Colonial Fleet has never used forced service, and I wasn't about to start."
Dee kept her breathing even. That was edging very close to criticizing Cain, and while personally Dee thought the woman got off lightly for her crimes, these were after all the officers still living who had worked most closely with the woman and participated most deeply in her plans. "Besides," Dee said carefully, "keeping them here against their will would have caused more problems than it solved. It would have been demoralizing for everyone, and as I'm sure we can all agree, keeping a decent combat edge while sitting in orbit was difficult enough without a sizable group of malcontents undermining us."
"I prefer to look on the bright side," said Captain Ramos, the commander of Pegasus's Marines.
"You, looking on the bright side." Firelli said with a laugh. "There's a first."
Ramos shot him a dirty look. "It means there is a good core of people with weapons and combat training on the ground. It may help to keep them all alive. And it may well make a critical difference in how quickly we can get everyone loaded onto the ships and airborne."
"Good point, Captain," Adama said. "In any case, there isn’t much point in thinking about it now. Our task now is to work with what we have, not complain about what we don’t. We've all had a lot of experience in making do, these last few years. Well make it work."
After that the conversation turned to less inflammatory subjects, such as hobbies, relationships, and stories from before the fall of the Colonies. All in all, it could have been much worse, and as the party broke up Dee heaved a sigh of relief. She lingered as the other officers left.
"Would you like some ambrosia, Dee?" the Admiral asked as the hatch closed, getting up and heading over to the cabinet with the drinks in it.
"No, thank you, Bill," Dee said. She hesitated. It was about as good a straight line as she was going to get. "No alcohol for me for the next few months, I'm afraid."
The Admiral stiffened, and turned back towards where she sat at the foot of the table. "Are you … pregnant?" he asked, shock and hope warring in his eyes.
"Yes," Dee said. "I found out after the Cylons took New Caprica. Bad timing."
"Or very good timing," he countered.
Dee shrugged. "We're going to be working hard enough as it is, pregnancy will be draining."
He cocked his head and took a seat next to her. "Before the Colonies fell, pregnant officers and crew were transferred to ground posts or rear-echelon logistics bases for the duration of their pregnancy."
"We don't have that luxury," Dee pointed out. "There's no point putting me on the civilian ships, they're not any safer and the command structures on Pegasus and Galactica are shaky enough as it is. And it doesn’t really matter, anyway; if we can't rescue our people and escape, we're all frakked anyway."
"Good point," Adama said. "You know, you're a very practical, forthright woman, Dee. I like you, and I'm glad to have you for a daughter-in-law."
"Thank you," Dee said, touched.
"You know, I used to think Starbuck would be the one to give me my first grandchild," he said.
"I didn't get to see her and Zak together, much, but I know they were crazy about one another."
Dee relaxed. That's right, before Lee and Kara started their weird flirtation, Kara had been engaged to Lee's brother. Somehow, that was hard to imagine.
"I thought at the time that if they wanted kids, Zak would have himself listed as the primary caregiver and transfer to a groundside posting to take care of them, so that Kara could fly. The Gods know she was better at it than either of my sons." He shook his head. "Then Zak died, and Lee and I didn't talk for years. I'm glad you two found each other. We're surrounded by so much death and destruction every day, it's important to build new families."
"That sounds like something my Dad would say if he were here," Dee said, quietly. "He thought there was nothing more important than family. An isolated life is no life at all, he would say. I found it so stifling, at the time, growing up on Sagittaron. I couldn't wait to get out of there. It's funny, how things change. I'd give anything to be back there, with him and my mother and everyone else." Her parents would be so happy with the news. Mom would have been full of advice, much more than Dee needed, and Dee knew from long experience that Mom would have driven her crazy with all the suggestions and little criticisms. But right now she'd give just about anything to hear that familiar voice: You know, you really ought to … She swallowed back a lump.
"I know I can't replace him, and I don't want to," Bill said. "But you're my daughter, and you'll always be my daughter."
"Thank you," Dee said, trying to keep her composure. Bill Adama would never be her Dad, and she supposed his words didn't really change anything. Except somehow they did.
The destruction of Sagittaron, all the Colonies, and her entire family and most of her friends with them had done something to Dee. Even when she'd left home to her parents' disapproval, she'd known they were there and she could go back at any time. If she walked through their door unannounced one day at mealtime, she would find a place set for her, waiting. The Cylon attack had cut that cord, unwelcome as it had sometimes been, and left her truly alone for the first time in her life. Not even marriage had fixed that; she'd known that Lee was Caprican to the core and didn't understand. Besides, it was just the two of them, really, and family was more than two: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Somehow, she had never really thought of the Admiral, Bill Adama, as family. But he was. It was the two of them now, but if (when) they got Lee back it would be three. And with the baby, it would be four.
"And I promise you, I'll do my best to reunite you and Lee," he said. "I want my son to know his child, and I want us all to be together."
"It's not going to be easy," Dee said, trying not to let her hopes run away with her. Hope was a dangerous thing; the Cylons had taught them all that. "Even if whatever humans are left alive manage to break through the Cylon blocks and send a message to us, It's not going to be easy."
"Nothing worth doing is," Bill said. "We've got time, time to plan and train and get ready. I believe we can do this, Dee. I really do."
"I pray to the gods every night that you're right," Dee said.
Lida was sitting on the couch, eyes closed, listening to music. It wasn't anything she knew—something with a lot of instruments, from the Colonies—but the humans had studies that suggested certain types of music played while the child was in the womb might help stimulate cognitive development. Lida had never listened much to music, before; Cylons didn't have any. It was pleasant, she supposed, but slightly odd. There didn't seem to be any meaning to it, any purpose that she could discern.
But she enjoyed listening to it, not least because Lee had taken to sitting next to her, closer than he voluntarily came outside of bed, and sometimes he would reach out and touch her stomach. Like he was doing now. Just a light touch, barely there, and she would never have thought something so small could be so important before she'd spent weeks, months, soothing his fears and drawing him closer.
This child had done more to tame Lee than all her words, all her prayers, and it hadn't even been born yet. What might be possible when others had duplicated her success? There might truly be peace between their peoples. That would be just as much a miracle as the child's existence in the first place.
It was so peaceful, lying here. This place was a cocoon, a sweet dream of what might be, and Lida never wanted to leave it for the grim reality outside the door. But it was time.
"Hey," she said gently. "I have a doctor's appointment." She patted his arm, and he withdrew to the other side of the couch.
"Tell me how it goes," he said.
She smiled. "I'll see if they can print out an ultrasound picture to show you," she said.
"That would be nice," Lee said.
Lida sighed. She had hoped he would be more enthusiastic, but she still wasn't sure he believed she was actually pregnant. He was a very suspicious man.
"I'll be back in a few hours, in time for our evening prayers," she said, standing up and walking to the door. She grabbed her coat on the way there. At the door she stopped and inhaled, steeling herself for the transition to the gray and grimy world that was New Caprica. She covered the moment by knocking on the door for the guard to open it.
It opened, and there was a Four and a Six waiting for her.
"Are you ready to go?" they asked.
Lida nodded. The Four turned right away, and her sister Six fell into step beside her. They were taking the most direct route, through the heart of the complex, and she steeled herself to ignore the awful sounds from the prison section. It was hard to tell which was worse: walking through the heart of the camp with its smells and griminess and hostility, or walking through these clean corridors with cries of pain in her ears. Even projection could only do so much, and it was dangerous to project here, where it might distract her from danger. Each time she went to an appointment, she thought about asking them to move the medical equipment to the compound, right next to her apartment, so she wouldn't have to make this walk. Or even ask to move up to one of the basestars, back home, where everything was pristine and perfect.
But her project with Lee had gotten her out of most of the unpleasant things her brothers and sisters had to do here. A few minutes of discomfort two or three times a week was nothing. And if they moved the equipment, the human pregnant women wouldn't be able to use it.
"How are you feeling?" her sister asked.
"Fine," Lida said, grateful for the distraction. It was quiet, now; no screaming at least, though she could hear a human singing a song in a language she didn't recognize. "It's just … odd. My body is changing. Small ways, for now. But my body moves differently, and it's only going to get worse. I'm almost … clumsy, sometimes. My appetite has changed."
"Will you share your experiences with us?" the Six asked eagerly.
"Of course!" Lida said. That was one of the great regrets of losing the Eight who defected to the Colonial Fleet: all of her experiences were lost with her. Lida would not be so selfish. Particularly not when sharing would bring her closer to her sisters and bridge the gap, at least partially, that her pregnancy had driven between them.
The discussion of her pregnancy was a pleasant distraction on the walk, and she was glad of the company. It had been dry enough the last several days that her steps didn't squelch unpleasantly as they made their way from the Cylon compound to the medical center, and with the conversation she almost didn't notice the stares. The smell of unwashed human and foul standing water wasn't so easy to dismiss, unfortunately, and she breathed through her mouth to keep from losing her lunch. "How is the sanitation project going?" she asked.
The other Six hesitated. "They're having trouble draining standing water from parts of the settlement. Apparently the humans settled during the dry part of the year and didn't know that it practically turned into a swamp when it rained. But they have at least increased the capacity of the sewer system, and they're working on getting the water collection and treatment plant running at full capacity so that everyone has enough. It seems ironic that there are water shortages when it rains so much, but the problem is collecting clean water. There are debates over whether building houses or building more permanent communal bath facilities and paved roads should be the priority."
"Sounds complicated," Lida said. She was doing the single most important thing any Cylon was doing right now, but it wasn't exactly the most intellectually stimulating experience. Particularly now that Lee was more predictable.
"It is, and made more so by the fact that the humans don't always agree with one another," the Six rolled her eyes, "but can always be counted upon to disagree with us, whatever the issue. And they don't even want to follow their own president, because they blame him for doing the smart thing. Honestly, I don't know how you can spend all day with a Human. They're so infuriating."
"Well, it's different with Lee," Lida said. "For one thing, there's just the two of us, and there's no one to incite him to rebel."
"I hope you'll share those memories too," the Six grumbled. "I've been on the lookout for a human of my own, it would be nice to know what to look for."
"I will," Lida said as they arrived at the new building that housed the obstetrics and maternity ward. As always, it had been cleared for her use, and was full of Fours and a handful of curious other models. Doctor Cottle stood by the sonogram machine, hands in his pockets.
"I think the Fours keep a terminal in their office, here," the Six said. "You can link in from here when you're done with your appointment."
"Of course," Lida said, unsurprised at the insistence. After all, she would have been just as impatient if it had been another Six who was pregnant. She hung up her coat by the door and took her place, as the Fours jumped into motion around her.
By now, all the novelty of these examinations had worn off. They always did the same tests. She projected the interior of a Basestar around herself. Before New Caprica, she'd usually chosen to project forests and things, but living on a real planet had soured that. She hadn't realized how … messy it was.
Lida cooperated as they ran several different kinds of scans and took several vials of blood for analysis. It took quite a while, and was terribly boring. Once they were finished with her, she went into the back room and found the terminal there in a conference room. The door was unlocked; this terminal was of a type that only had wet-ware access, and since no human could use it there was no security risk. She wondered what Humans thought of it, so unlike their clumsy metal and wire contraptions. She shook her head—she was obsessed with Humans, today!—and approached the tank, dipping her fingers in the warm goo and remembering what it was like to awaken, in a new body, covered in the gel that connected you to the entire system. Going from nothing to everything in the blink of an eye. Lida pressed her hand down into it, opening herself to communion with her brothers and sisters.
It felt like moments, only, to give all her memories to all who wanted them, but she knew it was more. When you didn't hold yourself back, time became less relevant, stretching and contracting in a curious fashion that probably explained why the hybrids were so incoherent. When you were riding the stream of memories, it was even more pronounced.
She gave everything of the last few months, her time with Lee, what her body felt like to live in now, her hopes for the future. Every moment of queasiness, every half-hour of comfortable silence, every prayer she had taught Lee. Then she spread out a net through the web of collective memory, not looking for anything in particular. She took anything that struck her fancy: plans for the new apartments to be built, a memory of a sunny day so beautiful she almost couldn't believe it was New Caprica, the details of the latest consensus discussions.
Those surprised her. Usually, everyone knew going into the meeting what the decision would be, because everyone knew what each model was going to say and do. Discussions were calm, reasoned, respectful. Disagreements were rare—or had been. Not any longer, and she cringed at the thought, particularly when she herself was a bone of contention to be fought over. If this baby was going to split the Cylons into competing factions, maybe it wasn't worth it. She hid that thought from the interface, along with the guilt she felt at so deceiving her brothers and sisters. She had never concealed anything important before. She prayed within the stream, asking God's forgiveness for doubting His plan. Surely, such a miracle would work out for good, if they were only strong enough to follow God's plan to its conclusion. Perhaps these disagreements were a test?
By the time she emerged, she was later than she'd planned; she would have to hurry to get back to Lee in time to say their prayers at the right time. She supposed it didn't matter to God when they prayed, but she was loath to interrupt their routine unnecessarily.
She glanced around as she walked out into the main portion of the building. The spectators were long gone, as was Cottle, leaving only the Fours who were poring over the results of their tests. Lida didn't like walking through the camp alone, but she didn't want to interrupt them, and besides she didn't much care for the Fours. It wasn't unsafe; after all, her pregnancy wasn't obvious yet, and so there was no reason to single her out. Cylons usually were safe during daylight hours, in the center of camp, and that's where her route would take her.
She grabbed her jacket and left, jamming her hands in her pockets against the cold. She hadn't understood what cold was like until coming to New Caprica; projections of snow were a pale imitation of the reality.
As she strode through the camp, she felt uneasy, and the skin between her shoulder blades crawled. She tried to tell herself it was just her imagination. The stares and sidelong glances that followed her were no worse than usual, and anyway, it was broad daylight in the middle of the camp, and there were other Cylons around. Nothing was going to happen.
She turned a corner and her nerves ratcheted up a notch. She frowned. What was it? Her eyes widened and she gasped as she realized the street was practically deserted, unheard of during the middle of the day, and worse: none of the few people she could see were Cylons. She turned, just in time to catch a club on the side of her face instead of in the back of the head. She felt/heard the awful snap of bone breaking, and screamed as loudly as she could.
"Frakkit," she heard a muffled voice. There were several of them, with masks. Head swimming, she couldn't tell how many. Another club swung at her and she dodged, still screaming. It came again, and this time she grabbed it, yanking her assailant closer and planting a fist in her diaphragm. She could hear the air whooshing from the other's lungs, but it wasn't as strong a blow as it would have been had she been clear-headed.
She grabbed the club and swung it at the next one to rush her, bashing him in the ribs, and hit the next one in the side of the head, but by this point she was surrounded and she still couldn't see or think clearly. Something hit her in the kidneys, and another club made contact with her head, and then one came smashing down on her right leg, and again she heard and felt a sickening crunch. She dropped like a stone, curling into a ball and trying to protect her head and stomach as the blows rained down.
The last thing she heard was the welcome voice of a Two yelling, as the darkness closed in around her.
Dee's eyes watered and she rubbed them, trying to concentrate on the book in front of her. It didn't help. The text swam in front of her and she sighed.
Right about now, Dee would give the gods anything they pleased if they would just create a few more hours in the day. She took a shift as Officer of the Watch, then overlapped with the Admiral's shift so that they could confer and so that she could take care of any of the XO's tasks that she hadn't finished on her own shift—personnel issues, schedules, evaluations, and the like. After that, she studied: tactics manuals, strategy manuals, administrative theory, officer handbooks. Something had to give, and most often it was her sleep cycle. Dee was working eighteen hour days, and still falling behind. "You're not helping, either," she said, rubbing her hand over the stomach that was now large enough that even a size-too-big uniform couldn't hide it.
This would be a grueling pace even if she weren't pregnant. The Admiral had asked if she wanted allowances made, but she'd turned him down. If they were going to be going up against the whole Cylon fleet, she'd need to know all this, and Pegasus and her crew would have to be in perfect fighting trim.
She glanced at the clock. The doctor insisted she sleep at least six hours a day, and if she went to bed now she'd have an hour to study before her shift in the morning. And she needed it; the day after that was the weekly "strategy session" which consisted of her, Helo, Hoshi, and a few others gathered around the strategy table running simulated battles, with Adama critiquing every move. Yawning, she shook her head. Staying up any later would be counterproductive. She marked her place in the book and took a quick look around: everything was in its place. Adama let her use his office for studying because the desk in her own quarters wasn't a good place for her to study. It was too close to her rack, which was distracting on late nights like this.
She stood and stretched, working out the kinks in her back as best she could. Hopefully, the walk to her cabin would help her relax enough that she would sleep better than she had the last few nights—it was hard to find a comfortable position to sleep in these days, but gods was she grateful she had a real bed instead of a rack, now.
She headed out the door, looking forward to falling into bed. It was a decent walk from the Admiral's office to her own quarters; Pegasus was designed with decentralized living spaces so that if there was a sneak attack in the middle of the night, no one hit could take out the whole command staff. The route was familiar enough that she was almost sleepwalking when she heard her name.
Jerking back to full wakefulness, she stopped to listen.
"—her and that idiot Adama—"
Muffled snorts. It was coming from down the corridor, a crew rack room for engineers. Dee walked towards it, slowly.
"The one who's here, asshole. Those godsdamned frakkers have more luck than anyone else in the whole Fleet: parent and child who both survived, they've got family when no one else does. And now we're gonna die so they can get him back and play happy families—"
Dee had heard enough. Traditionally, people bitching in their own racks were allowed a lot more leeway than anywhere else on the ship, but there were limits even there.
"So, you think we should just cut and run and leave what's left of humanity to the Cylons' nonexistent mercy," Dee said, stepping in to the room. She ignored the muffled curses as the men and women in the room sprang to attention. "Is that what you think?" She glared at them all, gaze sweeping over them with contempt. They were sure pretty, but you wouldn't catch Galactica's crew badmouthing their commander like this, not over a plan to rescue their people.
"You think we should cut and run, maybe find Earth and forget about leaving everyone else to die. Or maybe we should fight the Cylons elsewhere, pointless battles that get us all killed for no reason at all. You think that sounds like a plan? Tell you what: if you don't want to go free our people, you don't have to. We'll transfer you to the Demetrius, since you seem to like talking shit so much. Then when we get back , we can tell everyone you'd rather shovel shit than rescue the last remnants of the Colonies from the Cylons. Does that sound like a plan?"
She waited. No one spoke. "I said, does that sound like a plan?"
"I didn't think so." Dee rubbed her temple, anger draining out of her. "It may be logical to run away. It may be smart to save our own skins and damn everyone else. I guarantee you it's what the Cylons would do, if they were in our place. But we're not Cylons, and the day we start acting like them is the day I shoot myself, because then the Colonies really will be gone. I'd rather die a Human, fighting for our people, than live with the knowledge that we let the Cylons win. I believe we can do this, and so does the Admiral. The second we can get a message through to our people telling them to get ready for pickup, we will be there and the Cylons will be so much space dust. You can either help, giving it everything you've got, or you can get out of our way. Understood?"
Dee gave a sharp nod and left, holding in a sigh of relief until she was out of earshot. It wasn't the most rousing speech she'd ever heard, but it beat some of Saul Tigh's more infamous pep talks.
The adrenaline of the confrontation kept her going until she reached her quarters. Once there, she closed the hatch behind her and sighed. Gods, what she wouldn't give to be nothing but a bridge bunny again! Life had been so much easier. Do your job, follow orders, let the officers worry about the big stuff. She blinked back tears, rubbing her stomach and the baby growing inside it. "Did you hear what I told them, little one?" she asked. "We're going to live like humans, or we're going to die trying. We're going to make a better life for you, or you won't have to worry about living in this hell we've got now."
She could hear the low hum of equipment, Colonial equipment that didn't broadcast itself. There was a low murmur of voices—prayers? A light shone in her eyes and she flinched. Her head—she had no words for how badly she hurt, all over.
"Lida?" It was a Four. Who was Lida?
"Lida? Six, can you hear me?"
Six. She was a Six. "Yes?" she said, but there was something wrong. Was it her speaking? It sounded so far away. Why hadn't they downloaded her yet?
"Six, we're prepping you for surgery."
"Mmm?" Six asked, the questioning noise as much as she could muster.
"We've got Cottle here to operate on you," the Four said. "He's never operated on a Cylon before, but I've never operated on anyone before. Not anyone I cared about saving, anyway. We've rounded up all the children who were in school today: if anything happens to the baby, we'll execute them. That should keep him from trying anything."
"Baby?" That was important, she knew, very important, but she couldn't remember why. Why wasn't she downloading, so the pain would stop?
"It's in distress, and you have internal damage that we need to fix, but with surgery we should be able to save it. We're also going to have to put a pin in your leg to stabilize it so that it can heal properly. Once the baby's born, you can download and everything will be fixed, but we've got to keep you stable until then."
She should say something. What? A woman, not a Cylon, came to her with something in her hand. She panicked, seeing clubs flying towards her head.
"Hold her down!" someone said, and there were hands, grabbing her arms and legs and she couldn't move couldn't move couldn't move—
Something settled over her mouth and nose, and it smelled funny. Her eyes closed. She didn't hurt as much, now. Maybe she would download.
She woke up, but not in a tank on the Resurrection Ship. She was dry, and on a bed, and her sisters and brothers weren't there. There was pain, but it was very far away—so far away, that it seemed to belong to someone else. She decided she didn't care.
Where were her sisters? Why weren't they here? Something bad had happened, and they hadn't been there. Why was she alone? Her eyes felt funny. There was something in them. Water? Was she crying? Someone was—she could hear it. Maybe it was her.
"Are you in pain?"
Six didn't recognize the voice. She twisted around until to find where it was coming from—or tried to. She couldn't move.
A woman stood in the door of the room she was in. A human. She could feel her heart beat faster.
"Are you in pain?" the Human asked again.
"No," she said, memories drifting back. She had been attacked. She had been alone. They had operated on her. "Baby?" Her baby, the miracle God had given her—had the humans killed it?
The human's lips tightened. "The baby will be just fine. So will you." The human came closer, and Six—Lida, her name was Lida now—flinched as the Human reached for her.
The human paused. "My name is Layne Ishay, and I'm a nurse. My job is to make people better, not to hurt them. And although they don't have toasters holding guns to our childrens' heads any more, I'm not stupid enough to think they would be safe if anything mysteriously happened to you. I just need to check some things, see how you're doing. Then I'll go out and tell Doctor Cottle and your, the other Cylons that you're awake, and they can come in to visit you, a few at a time so they don't tire you out. Okay?"
Lida licked her lips. "Okay."
The Human's hands were … not gentle, but not rough, either. Solid, but not—they didn't hurt. Lida sighed. Yes. There were touches that didn't hurt. There were Humans who didn't hurt her. Lee wouldn't, she reminded herself. Lee wouldn't, but he'd killed her once. He wouldn't now, but once, early on, he'd stabbed her with a knife from his dinner. It was the only time she'd ever died, and she'd thought it the worst pain she could imagine, but it paled before what little she remembered of the attack. "Why are Humans so violent?" she asked.
The Human paused. "Why are humans so violent?" She laughed. "You, a Cylon, want to know why Humans are violent. Gee. I don't know. Maybe it has to do with the fact that you nuked our homeworlds, killed most of our species, and have spent the last couple of years chasing us across the galaxy trying to exterminate those of us who escaped."
"Yes, we were wrong," Lida said. "We're doing things differently now. We want to build peace. This baby is a sign of the coexistence of our people. Why would you want to kill that?"
The Human shook her head. "You really are serious. You have no clue. Wow. I thought maybe it was a sick game you Cylons were playing, but you are just that stupid." She sighed. "You know what that baby is a symbol of? Rape."
"No," Lida said, "Lee and I love each other. I would never rape him!"
"Right," the Human said. "You claim things are different now, but the first thing you did after landing was flood our streets with your Centurions and arrest anyone you thought might be a potential troublemaker. Then you took over our government. Baltar was an incompetent ass before you came, but he's nothing more than your puppet, now. You seized the apartment buildings that we had worked so hard to build, to house ourselves, and turned them into a prison and places for you to live. Do you have any idea how many people have died, this winter, because we're living in tents instead of the clean, dry, warm homes we spent the summer building?"
"We've given you building materials," Lida said indignantly.
"Right," the Human said, returning to her work. "Those help. Not much comfort to the people who are already dead, and who, being Human, don't download into a nice, new body. And you aren't helping us build new housing units to replace the ones you stole, either. Assuming you don't decide you need them, too, when we're done with them. And if you're bringing things from the Colonies to help this settlement, there's a lot of other stuff you could do to dramatically enhance our chances of survival. Like seeds for food crops, and to grow plants for medicinal use and to make into fabric. Or more short-term things, like raiding a warehouse or two for clothes to replace the threadbare things we've been wearing since the Colonies were destroyed, or camping gear that might help keep us dry and warmer until the new housing units are built?"
The Human shook her head. "No, anyone with a brain can see what those building materials really are: baubles to keep us occupied, so maybe we won't notice the people disappearing in the night, the people dying of pneumonia and influenza and malnutrition and a thousand other things that were virtually nonexistent before you destroyed the colonies. If you really wanted peace, if you really wanted coexistence, you would be doing more to help, and you wouldn't have guns to our heads. You don't want peace, you want pets. Like Lee Adama. You took him as soon as you landed, you've kept him isolated and completely at your mercy. The gods only know what you've been doing to him, but knowing what you've been doing to people outside your prison, I can only guess. And now, you're pregnant, and you think that makes it better? If you were truly in love, if he had a choice, why hasn't anyone ever seen him? Why hasn't he been allowed out? I don't believe for a second that he's in there of his own free will. If he were, he'd be here with you now. But he isn't. So don't try and dress this up as anything more than what it is. Yeah, your baby is a sign of things to come, all right. A perfect symbol of the Cylon occupation. I'm done, now. I'm going out to tell them you're awake."
She turned and left, leaving Lida behind.
Lida stared up at the ceiling and wished her head didn't feel like cotton wool. Then maybe she could have argued better, shown the Human how wrong she was. Maybe she could ask one of her sisters to talk to the Human.
The door opened again, and Lida turned, smiling. Finally! She didn't want to be alone. But it was a One, and her smile slipped. The Ones were her brothers too, of course, but they weren't very comforting.
"Well, well, well, Lida, I see we're awake," he said, sauntering in. "Finally. Maybe this will teach you how idiotic this whole 'love' thing is. We've been trying to help these people, and this is how they repay us: murder. Humans just don’t value life like we do. They're nothing more than animals, and the sooner you learn it the better off we'll be."
"They're not animals," Lida said, eyes filling with tears. She blinked them away, trying to hide the evidence of her weakness. "Love isn't stupid. God is love. Our love is what gives us unity."
The One snorted. "Cylon love, maybe."
He didn't—he didn't sound like he believed it. If he didn't believe in Cylon love and unity, what was he doing here? Lida pushed the thought away. The Ones always sounded cynical, it was just how they were.
"Humans?" he continued. "Humans don't know the meaning of the word. You know, after all the effort we've put into this whole reproduction obsession, after all your nattering on about miracles and gifts from God, you'd think you'd put a little more thought into, I dunno, keeping the baby alive. Walking among Humans alone is so mind-bogglingly stupid that maybe it would have been better for the Cylons if you had died. Because if that's the quality of thinking we're gonna have in the next generation, if that's the quality of Cylon that's breeding, we've got a problem. We'd be better off just whipping new models up in a vat."
"Yes, I'm sure you'd like that."
Lida hadn't noticed the Three come in, and from his reaction neither had the One.
"And who would program their psychological profile, I wonder?" the Three asked. "You'd like that, wouldn't you, then you could ensure they're as loyal to you as the Centurions are."
"The Centurions are loyal to all Cylons, flesh and metal," the One said.
"Of course they are," the Three said. "In any case, I find it interesting this is where you choose to bring up this debate: alone with an injured Six who's still doped to the gills and just came out of surgery. Not exactly a comforting way to wake up, is it? I'm glad no Ones have bothered to show up any time I've resurrected if this is your idea of care. Maybe you should leave until she's feeling up to one of your debates." Behind the Three, a group of Cylons had gathered: Fours, Sixes, an Eight, and a Two.
The One considered them, then smiled unpleasantly. "Of course. I'll just be out and about my business." He left, brushing past the Cylons in the door, who watched him go in silence.
When he was gone, they filed in and stood around her bed. "How are you, sister?" asked a Six, slipping a hand into hers.
"Better," Lida said, squeezing it. She closed her eyes.
"You'll probably be very tired, for the next few days," a Four said. "Until the drugs are out of your system and you recover from surgery."
Lida didn't feel tired, she felt numb. She didn't want to think. She could hear her brothers and sisters moving in the room, but she didn't open her eyes. The One was right; it had been stupid to walk alone among humans, and she didn't want to see the censure in their eyes, too. It was easier to pretend to sleep.
She must have been tired after all, because she drifted off.
Dee stood in the hangar bay as the raptor from Galactica touched down. She spent a lot of time here, these days, both getting ready for her own trips back and forth to Galactica and waiting to receive and greet Galactica's officers.
"Good evening," she said as the hatch opened and Commander Agathon stepped out. "Welcome to Pegasus. Again."
"You know, as much time as I've spent here recently, it's hard to remember sometimes that I don't serve here anymore," Hoshi said, following Helo down to the deck.
"I hope you remember that you're Galactica's XO when you're there, at least," Helo said with a grin.
"Mostly," Hoshi said.
"Well, if you want to come back," Dee said, "we've given your rack away." It wasn't quite true; the personnel transfers had mostly gone from Pegasus to Galactica, not the other way around, and the new recruits from the civilian fleet were mostly enlisted, not commissioned, so they had a lot of empty racks in officers' quarters. Still, with more space available people spread out to claim it as their own, and Hoshi's rack was well-used even if not officially assigned to anyone.
"Thank you so much, Major," Hoshi said as they left the hangar deck for their classroom, Galactica's other officers following. "That warms my heart."
"It should," Dee said. "I hope you remember that feeling when we beat you in today's sims."
Helo scoffed. "Not a chance. We've spent some quality time thinking up this one, you'll never see it coming."
"Really?" Dee said. "Because I remember the last time you tried to get clever. What was it, Cylons three, Fleet zero?" The command team from each ship ran one battle plan per simulation day, and they were scored to make it a competition.
"You didn't do much better," Hoshi said.
Dee didn't dignify that with an answer, mostly because it was true.
"Still no contact with the colonists?" she asked, instead. The raptor currently hiding and trying to make contact was one of Galactica's.
"Nope," Helo said. "Nothing. No Cylon contacts, even."
"After all this time, it still makes me sweat," Hoshi said. "Cylons don't play possum. They know we got away. Why aren't they coming after us?"
"I'm not going to court trouble," Dee said. "We do enough of that running these meetings in person, leaving a Battlestar without her command staff. If the Cylons are going to be good enough to leave us alone to prepare to kick their asses, I'll take it."
"Maybe if you're lucky, we won't get contact with our people to coordinate the extraction until after you've given birth," Helo said. He gave a glance at her now-bulging stomach that she'd become used to: longing, grief, a quiet sadness that he never expressed verbally.
"Maybe," Dee said. "I don't know, though, I don't know how comfortable I'd feel sending the baby away with strangers."
"Better than having it on a Battlestar in combat," Hoshi said. He shook his head. "Hey, wouldn't that be the worst timing ever: going into labor in battle?"
"Pray to the gods that doesn't happen," Dee said as they entered the training room. She left Hoshi and Helo behind and went to sit with her shipmates.
A few hours later, Dee slouched in her seat, notebook in her lap, and felt really, really small. After several months of tactical training, nobody was making stupid, rookie mistakes anymore. Not even Hoshi, who'd had a surprising tendency to get blinded by what his ship was doing and forget about what the 'enemy' were doing. But that only meant that now they got critiqued for the bigger stuff. She was glad Tigh wasn't here; he'd have been a lot nastier. But it was still pretty hard to take, day after day.
They'd fallen into a cycle of training: a day of lectures and discussion, a day broken up into teams planning various tactical scenarios, mostly having to do with various conditions they might find on the return to New Caprica, and a day to wargame those battle plans, with critique after. Today, the Pegasus team had gone first since they were meeting in Pegasus. They'd gotten shredded. The fact that the Galactica crew hadn't fared much better was small consolation.
"Now that we've gone over the tactical flaws in that battle plan, let's cover the major strategic one," Admiral Adama said. And despite the fact that she was finally comfortable calling him Bill, during these sessions he was definitely the Admiral.
"Anyone have any idea what it was?" The Admiral's gaze swept around the conference room that served as a classroom, meeting the eyes of all eight officers present. "No one? All right, what's the difference between tactics and strategy?"
"Tactics are the methods used to achieve the immediate objective," Dee said. "Strategies are the methods used to achieve long-range goals."
"Perfect," the Admiral said. "What are our long-range goals?"
Captain Case raised a hand. She'd been transferred over to Galactica as their new CAG, to beef up the experience level of their command staff. "Rescue our people from New Caprica, stay alive, give the Cylons the slip, and find Earth. Failing that, to take as many Cylons out with us as we can." Showboat sounded confident; she always did.
"Given that, can anyone tell me what's wrong with the battle plan on a strategic level?" he asked.
Dee frowned, running through the plan in her head. She hadn't noticed anything as they were playing it out, with the officers from Galactica playing the part of the Fleet and the officers from Pegasus playing the Cylons, with the Admiral giving them advice.
Lieutenant Paolo McKay, Redwing, one of Galactica's pilots that Dee didn't know very well, raised a hand. "Well, we lost a lot of ships and people, which would make staying alive and evading the Cylons in the future a lot more difficult. But if we don't stay alive and escape in the short term, there's no point in worrying about the long term, and we know we're going to take heavy losses."
"True," the Admiral said. "But that doesn't mean all losses are equal, and it doesn't mean we should be fatalistic about it. Because the second you assume you'll lose something, I guarantee you you will. It may be inevitable, it may not, but when you assume it you make it inevitable." He surveyed the group. "What is our single strongest, most powerful, most durable, most versatile ship?"
"Pegasus," Dee said.
"Exactly," Adama said. "I love Galactica. I commanded her for years, and she saved us all from the Cylons many times. I pray to the gods that we survive this with both battlestars intact. But if we have to lose one of them, for the good of the Fleet it should not be Pegasus. Pegasus is a hell of a lot newer. It's stronger. It's got better sensors, better training facilities, better manufacturing capabilities. By any objective measure, it's more valuable to the Fleet. We can't allow sentiment to overshadow that."
There was a silence as the group digested that. Dee was surprised; as much as Bill loved Galactica, she was surprised he could bring himself to say it, that they should sacrifice her if they had to. Dee didn't love Galactica the way Bill did, and never would; ships weren't alive to her, in the way they were to him. The way they were to most pilots.
Hoshi raised a hand.
"Yes, Major," Adama said.
"Sir, I agree with what you're saying," Hoshi said. "But you also had a good point about pre-determined losses. If we go in assuming we're going to lose Galactica, we certainly will. Granted that Pegasus is more important to save than Galactica, Pegasus is also more likely to survive a concentrated attack than Galactica, and more likely to retain effective combat power while doing so. So putting Galactica in the more hazardous position may result in her destruction when both would have survived if we put Pegasus there."
Adama smiled. "That's a very good point, Major. There are no easy answers. Everything is a trade-off. I can't tell you ahead of time where the trade-off will be in this particular case, because we won't know until we have better intel on what's happening in New Caprica. I'm raising this issue now because we need to think about it now. If we wait to consider it until later, it will be too late. These are the kinds of strategic considerations you need to be aware of in every tactical plan you make. Strategy must dictate tactics, not the other way around. I want you to pay attention to that in tonight's reading. Are there any other questions?"
Seeing none, he dismissed them. Dee waited in her seat for the others to leave, closing her eyes and trying to ignore the pain in her lower back. These seats were not designed with pregnant women in mind—nothing on Pegasus was, comfortable as she was in all other respects. She closed her eyes to snatch a few minutes rest.
"Hey," Bill said. It wasn't his Admiral voice, so it must be Bill.
She opened her eyes, blinking away sleep. She must be more tired than she thought.
"You'll regret it if you sleep like that," he said. "Besides, you haven't had dinner. Can't skip it when you're eating for two."
"No," Dee said, making a face. The ships were on relatively short rations, since most of their food supplies had been on the ground with their people and the ships with the best gardens and hydroponics bays had been planetside when the Cylons arrived. The planets with edible plants to harvest that they'd found since fleeing the Colonies were too far away to jump to without risking missing an opportunity to take New Caprica. It felt wrong to eat full rations when nobody else could, but the doctor had insisted, for her and the few other pregnant women.
"Want to join me?" Bill asked.
"Sure," Dee said. The Commander and XO couldn't eat in the regular crew mess; dropping by a pilot ready room for a game of Triad was one thing, regularly eating there was quite another. Senior officers ate with other senior officers or alone, and Dee didn't want to be alone.
They ate at the table in Bill's office, going over reports and discipline issues from the past day. Dee was glad for it; she'd learned a lot from Bill since he'd taken over command of the Pegasus.
"Thank you," she said.
"You're welcome," Bill said. "What for?"
"Helping me learn what I need to do to be a good XO," Dee said. "Not just the tactics and things we're learning in class, but the ordinary mundane day-to-day things. Lee wasn't much help—I felt like I was drowning, all the time."
Bill shrugged. "It's not Lee's fault. He was just as new to being a Commander as you were to being an XO, and the only thing he'd ever been XO of was a Viper squadron. He had no experience of his own to offer. I hated having to put two such inexperienced people in command, but I didn't really have any options. Well, I thought of telling Tigh that he had to wait a year to go down to New Caprica, and that he would be Commander of Pegasus and teach Lee the ropes, but I really didn't think that would be a good idea."
"No," Dee said, shaking her head. Saul Tigh as Commander—now there was a frightening thought. He was (normally) a good XO, but he and Lee didn't get along. Tigh didn't seem to get along with anybody but Bill, and Dee had often wondered how the two could be such friends. Bill overlooked a lot of things for Tigh that he wouldn't overlook for anyone else, except maybe Lee and Kara. "Tigh's style works for him—" (sort of) "—but I don’t think it would work for either me or Lee. Besides, I doubt Mrs. Tigh would have been pleased."
"Ellen?" Bill snorted. "She's never been pleased with anything I've done since the day I met her. I don't let it bother me any more."
"Right," Dee said, leaning back and sipping her water to hide a smile. There were some people Bill Adama counted as family, people he would bend over backwards for and accept about anything from. Kara Thrace and Saul Tigh among them. Lee was, too, though he didn't seem to think so; Dee thought the difference was that Bill was used to Starbuck and the Colonel screwing up, and wasn't used to Lee being anything but perfect. Still, the fact remained, there was nothing Lee could possibly do that would make his father stop loving him.
Most people weren't so lucky. The Admiral held most people to a very high standard. Dee wondered if she'd made it into the inner circle, now. The inner circle of people Bill would forgive anything. His favoritism was pretty blatant; the whole Fleet knew about it.
For the most part, Dee didn't mind. She understood loyalty, and family. She just wished Bill Adama had better taste in those he loved and trusted like that. There were worse screw-ups in the Fleet than Starbuck and Tigh, but none in as high-ranking positions.
The thing Dee didn't get was, why put your faith in such screwed-up people? It wasn't like they were family, which you couldn't choose but just had to live with. Bill had chosen Tigh to be his best friend, and if he hadn't chosen Kara for a daughter-in-law, he'd kept her as one in his heart and mind even long after his son was dead, long after he knew just how much of a problem she could be. That was what made today's comment so surprising: she'd have thought Bill Adama's devotion to Galactica was at least as strong as his love for Starbuck and Tigh.
She sighed. Maybe it was her, not Bill. Maybe she was more attached to the old bucket of bolts than she thought, and was projecting that attachment on him. Dee had always prided herself on being so practical, and loving inanimate objects wasn't.
Practical. The practical thing to do would be to abandon their people on New Caprica, and take advantage of the fact that the Cylons didn't seem to be paying any attention to them for now.
There was a line, a time beyond which logic and practicality had to be left behind. People were more important than principles, more important than ships. Dee knew that. It was a good thing to know Bill did, too.
This time, when Lida returned to the Cylon complex, she had an escort of Centurions and her fellow humanoid models. The streets were empty; she didn't know if they had been cleared, or if the Humans were simply afraid of such a large movement of Cylons.
She rode in one of the few trucks on the planet; her leg was still in a cast, and she had no desire to hobble across camp. But there were no paved roads on New Caprica, and she gritted her teeth against the pain as each bump and pothole jolted her bruises. The sky was gray, as usual. It fit her mood.
The escort didn't leave once she entered the compound, even though it was secure from Human interference, with only the most trustworthy allowed inside, and even then kept under surveillance. Lida wasn't surprised. They hadn't left her alone after her surgery, either, not after she'd woken up. At least one, often more. They talked, sometimes, but they rarely looked at her face, staring at the wall or the floor or her stomach, instead. Or her cast.
It was funny. She'd wanted time with her brothers and sisters, time to reconnect with the family she'd missed. Yet she'd hated the enforced closeness of her hospital bed. She hadn't known it was possible to feel alone in a room full of your family.
The Human guard outside her door had been replaced by a Centurion, she noted. She nodded, and it unlocked the door and opened it for her. She swung forward on her crutches.
"Lida?" Lee said. He had been exercising, she saw; he was sweating and his breath was quicker than normal. He must have stopped when he heard the locks opening. He stared at her, at the cast and the bruises that still covered her. "What happened?"
"I was attacked," she said. "By Humans."
"I'm sorry," he said, frowning. "Is the baby okay?"
"I felt it move yesterday," she said. "Very faintly." It was the oddest feeling, and she'd been waiting to feel it again ever since. Cottle said it would become stronger and more frequent as the pregnancy progressed.
"That's good," Lee said. He wasn't looking at her, but at the Cylons who surrounded her.
"I'll be fine now," she said to them, suddenly relishing the prospect of being alone. She'd never felt that, before. Add it to the myriad ways this pregnancy was changing her. She didn't like it. "You can go."
"Are you sure?" asked a Five who'd moved in further than the rest and stood in front of Lee, staring at him.
"Yes," Lida said.
He nodded, still staring at Lee. "I'm sure I don't have to tell you what will happen to you if anything happens to Lida or her child."
"No," Lee said.
The Five nodded, and left, filing out with the others. An Eight lingered. "You know that if you need anything, anything at all, we'll get it for you."
"Yes," Lida said with a nod. Except they couldn't. What she wanted, right now, was for none of this to have happened: Lee, the pregnancy, any of it. She wanted to be a Six like any other. But not even the Five could turn back time. The only way to stop being Lida now would be to kill herself, outside of range of a Resurrection Ship, and she didn't want that.
The Eight turned and left, closing the door behind her. Lida could hear the clunk of the locks snapping into place.
"How badly were you hurt?" Lee asked.
"I needed surgery," Lida said. "They got Cottle to do it. If I'd died and resurrected, the baby would have died, too. Then I spent a day or two recovering in the infirmary. No one told you anything?"
"No," Lee said. "They fed me, but that was the only contact I've had since you went away.
"Oh," Lida said. Solitary confinement was a punishment, one they used on the prisoners, and suddenly Lida heard the Human nurse's words in her ears. "I'm sorry," she said. "You won't be left alone again. They'll probably be moving the equipment here to me, rather than me going to the equipment." It would mean the pregnant Human women could no longer use it, but the consensus had decided that was only fitting. Relations between Humans and Cylons were at, well, not an all-time low, but certainly as low as they'd ever been here on Caprica. Lida couldn't bring herself to care.
She was so very tired. All she wanted to do was sleep, but the bed was so far away. With a sigh, she swung the crutches forward and hopped, repeating the motion awkwardly. Lee watched her, falling in next to her as she passed him.
When she reached the bed, Lida didn't bother to strip or change, just leaned the crutches against the wall and sat down, swinging her legs up onto the bed so she could lie down. With a cast, and as stiff and sore as she was, it wasn't easy.
Lee went around to his side of the bed and got in, and Lida envied him his agility. No Human should ever be more mobile than a Cylon. But envy took energy and she had none to spare. Instead she lay back and stared up at the ceiling. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, listening to Lee breathe beside her.
It was so quiet in here. There were no other sounds but the two of them. No one could get in that she didn't want. She inhaled sharply, feeling tears welling up inside of her. There was only Lee here to see them, so she let them come, feeling herself shake.
A hand touched her shoulder. "Hey," Lee said, "c'mere." He wrapped himself around her, gathering her into his arms, stroking softly while she cried.
Lida didn't know how long she lay there crying, but it seemed a long time. At last the tears stopped, and she was still. A headache sat behind her temples, and her eyes felt hot, but nothing else had changed.
It occurred to her that this was quite possibly the most intimate she and Lee had ever been. More so than the sex, somehow.
She thought of what the Human nurse had said. "Lee? What do you think of the Cylon presence on New Caprica?"
He tensed, but didn't move away. "What do you want me to say? I don't know anything about what's going on out there."
"Don't prevaricate," she snapped. "What do you really think?"
Lee sighed. "I think … there's no possible way it can end well. Even assuming that all Cylons have good and pure motivations now, and genuinely want to help, you've caused too much pain. It doesn't go away overnight."
And that was assuming good and pure motivations. Could she assume that of the Ones, who wanted to exterminate the Humans and were here only under protest? Or the Fours who didn't care one way or the other? Could she even count on her own model to truly want peace, or were they just here out of hero worship for Caprica Six? What kind of a world was her child going to be born into? Lida closed her eyes, and listened to their breathing. Each breath they took was in synch, she realized. "Where do you see yourself in twenty years?" Still here, in this apartment alone together? Living in peace in the open on New Caprica, no. Living on a Basestar with several children?
He didn't answer right away.
"Ask me in twenty years," Lee said at last.
"Congratulations, Pegasus," Admiral Adama said, wrapping up his post-mortem analysis of the battle. They were using Galactica's pilot briefing room, the only place suitable for such large group training on the smaller ship. Dee had never been in it before New Caprica, but long hours of tactical simulation, lectures, and discussion had made it familiar. "You only had thirty percent casualties in that last simulation. Considering the odds against you, that is an achievement worthy of pride."
Dee exchanged smiles with her team, particularly Firelli who had had the first idea the plan was based on. The Lieutenant had shown a distinct aptitude for sneaky attacks. Of course, Dee reflected with pride, the use of a squadron of Raptors with their ECM equipment hotwired to simulate a Battlestar had been her own suggestion. A couple of squadrons of Vipers jumping in in close formation, then spreading out, strengthened the illusion by looking as if the "Battlestar" had launched its Vipers. That had thrown the "Cylons" off their game with surprise, and she hoped it worked out in real life as well as it had there. The deck crew thought it would, but what she wouldn't give for Laird and Chief Tyrol, the real experts on small craft. Pity they were both on New Caprica.
"If we can duplicate that when the time comes, we'll be in luck," Hoshi said.
"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy," Adama said. "And you can't ever count on surprises to work. That trick with the Raptors, for instance—all it takes is one Raider in the wrong spot, and the game is up. That's assuming that Cylons use the same detection methods we do. And it'll only work once. We can't count on being able to do it in real life. Still. It may work, and I have a feeling we'll need every trick we can get. You did say the deck crews thought they could make it work?"
Dee didn't blame him for being skeptical; electronic countermeasures (ECM) were designed to make their targets seem smaller, not larger. "Yes, sir," she said. "The report is attached to our battle plan. According to Commander Agathon, the Cylon prisoner—" she carefully didn't say Sharon or his wife, as asking Helo in the first place (and trusting his answer) had been a bone of contention in their strategy planning sessions "—says that Cylon scanners are based on the same principles that ours are. Chief Rand says that he can't guarantee it will look exactly like a Battlestar, but he and his crew should be able to put together something that looks like a Battlestar using ECM to disguise itself as something smaller."
Adama glanced at Helo, who nodded at him. "You've been working on this for a while," he said. "Good. I like it. Particularly if we then use ECM on Pegasus and Galactica, so that the Cylons can't tell which one is funny. I wonder if it would be possible to fit an ECM suite onto one of the larger civilian ships, use that as a decoy as well? They could stay there long enough to draw fire, then jump out once the Cylons have taken the bait. It won't last long, but then neither will the Raptor trick. If we can just lure the Cylons into attacking the wrong ships, we'll have a window to work with."
"It depends on whether or not the ships on the ground are functioning," Helo said. "If they are, we can use them to pick up our people on the ground. If they're not, we'll need the civilian ships we have with us now as transports."
Adama nodded. "Okay, people, listen up. We've been running simulations of a lot of different scenarios, trying out options, over the last few months," he said. "We've done a lot of general tactical and strategic training, and a lot of scenarios based on rescuing our people. We've made all the stupid mistakes at least once, and I hope we've all learned from them. I think we're ready to do more. We're going to be putting together actual battle plans for each major possibility: a large Cylon fleet, a small Cylon fleet, a large Human population to rescue, a small Human population to rescue, the grounded ships usable or the grounded ships gone. Go over your notes and start thinking, people," he said. "And if you think up any tricks like the ones this scenario used so effectively, I want to know! Any questions?"
Lieutenant McKay raised a hand. "Sir, we haven't heard anything from the colonists since we jumped away. How do we know there are any left? What if they're never able to contact us?"
"Both good questions, Lieutenant," Adama said. "Our best indication some of our people are still alive is the presence of Cylons on New Caprica. I doubt they're there because it's the new health spa for toasters." A ripple of laughter went around the room. "I've been content to wait for so long for contact because I believe they'll be able to do so eventually, and because any intel they can give us will make an enormous difference to our odds of success and survival. But we needed time. Time to train, to regain our edge, to gel as a team. And time for you all to get some experience and training in the kind of leadership roles you now have. We've had that time, and I'm grateful for it. It's made us a much more dangerous fighting machine. Now that we're back in the game, we won't be playing the waiting game forever. If we don't hear word from our people soon, we'll see if we can slip a raptor in to gain intel."
"That would be pretty risky," Dee said. "They've got a lot of pickets out there. Besides the possibility of losing the Raptor and pilot, if they were caught it would tip the Cylons off that we're going to make a move soon. We'd lose the element of surprise, and they'd change their patterns anyway."
"We may not have much of a choice," Adama said. "All right. We've all got a lot to think about. I expect some ideas the next time we meet. Dismissed. Pegasus officers, you have one hour until our shuttle leaves Galactica. Use it well." He began gathering up his papers, ignoring the low hum of conversation that sprung up around him.
"We are the champions," Firelli said, giving Dee a high five. "Pegasus reigns supreme, and all is right with the world. Thank you, Major, for that wonderful piece of sneaker you thought up."
"No, thank you, Lieutenant, for that exceptional strategy that could properly make use of it," Dee said with a laugh.
"Yeah, yeah, just wait until next time, we'll paste your ass good," Captain Case called from Galactica's section.
"I'll believe it when I see it, Showboat!" Narcho shot back. A noisy argument sprang up between them about relative superiority between the two ships, and the pilots and lower-ranking officers spilled noisily out of the room.
Dee watched them go without moving. At almost nine months pregnant, getting up was quite a challenge, and one she didn't need an audience for. She didn't sit in chairs without armrests, any more.
"You know, if I'd known why you wanted that information, I wouldn't have told you," Helo said. "I'd have used it myself."
"No, you wouldn't have," Dee said with a smirk. Helo was too honest to claim someone else's idea for his own.
"I would have," Helo said. He shrugged. "I'd have probably given you credit, though."
"I thought so," Dee said.
"After all, what are subordinates for but to steal good ideas from?"
Dee laughed. "Right. Make me really glad I'm on Pegasus." She couldn't put off getting moving forever, and gripped the arms of the chair. These seats were entirely too comfortable and deep—pilots got the best of everything—but she could do it.
Helo watched with concern, but he'd learned not to offer to help.
Dee couldn't tell if it was because she weighed so much, or because she was out of shape, but it took all her strength to haul herself up. She sighed with relief once she was up. Gods, she would be very, very grateful once this kid was outside of her, and she could put it down or hand it to someone else! And she was hungry, thank the gods the hydroponics bays were finally back working at capacity and she didn't have to feel guilty about eating when she felt hungry. They'd need the food when they got their people back, as she doubted they'd have time to pack. "Can we go eat?" she asked Helo, remembering he was there. That was another thing about pregnancy that made her life a lot harder, how scatterbrained she sometimes got. She hoped it went away by the time they actually had to fight.
"Sure," Helo said.
They'd been talking about her use of the Raptors. "Thank you again for getting us that information," she said. "I know how hard it is to get her to give us anything useful."
Helo was silent for a few moments as they walked out the door, and Dee was afraid she'd offended him. He was a lot more defensive about his, his wife than Dee thought reasonable, under the circumstances. Probably because he really did love her and even Helo's good nature could get worn down. Dee had learned to step lightly, not because she thought he or his wife deserved it, but because she liked him and he was the closest friend she had now, with Felix and the rest on New Caprica. Bill didn't really count, being more of a father figure.
"She doesn't want the Cylons to win," he said at last, "she just … doesn't want to kill her own people, either, not when the best we have to offer her is life in a cage. It's a delicate line to walk. Where she draws the line on any given day, well, that depends."
"Mm," Dee said, noncommittally. When she was fair about it and tried to put herself in the other woman's shoes, she understood where the Cylon was coming from, a little. She didn't often want to be fair about it, though, particularly not when the commanders of both of their two battlestars seemed more than willing to see things from the Cylon's perspective. Bill had taken to visiting the Cylon cell for long stretches when he was here on Galactica. Her stomach twisted at the thought. Neither Bill nor Helo were suborned, or anything, but … they lacked perspective. Someone had to keep their eye on the ball, and in this case it was Dee. "Do you guys have any fresh fruit over here?" she asked, to change the subject.
"Sure," Helo said.
"Good, because I could really use something sweet." Dee sighed. Cravings were a bitch with as little variety in foodstuffs as the Fleet had.
They talked about work while she ate, comparing the inner workings of the two crews, and sharing Fleet gossip. Life went on, even as they hung in limbo waiting for word from their people on New Caprica. At first, Dee thought the occasional twisting in her stomach was just hunger or nausea. By the time she was ready to head back to the hangar bay, she was pretty sure she was in the beginning stages of labor. But she couldn't tell; it might just be the false labor she'd been warned about, and any way it had taken her sister almost a day to get from contractions this far apart to actual delivery, and Dee wanted to have her baby on Pegasus. With Cottle on the surface, Pegasus had much better doctors in case anything went wrong. Besides, the crew would like it.
So she grit her teeth and strapped into her seat—specially modified, so the harness would work around a pregnant belly and not injure her or the baby if anything happened—and hoped the ride would pass quickly.
"Dee? You listening?" Bill asked.
"Sorry, sir," she said, looking over at him. "I'm afraid I didn't catch what you said there."
He frowned at her. "I've been looking at this report of yours, and I'd like to discuss it in some more detail once we get back."
"I think that will have to wait," Dee said. This was definitely not false labor—if it were, it would have subsided by now. And it would not be getting stronger. "When we land, I'm going to head down to sickbay immediately."
Bill raised his eyebrows. "Are you … in labor?" he said, glancing down at her stomach as if he expected it to be visible, somehow.
"I believe so," she said carefully. "The beginning stages, anyway."
"Well." He nodded. "That's very good news, Major. I'll escort you down there myself."
"Thank you," Dee said politely.
By the time they'd landed on Pegasus, climbed out of the Raptor, and were halfway to sickbay, Dee was more than politely grateful for Bill's escort. She could do it herself, but this was so much nicer. She grit her teeth and rode out the wave of pain, leaning on his arm to stay upright. That … that felt weird. She hadn't known her muscles could do that, or at least she hadn't anticipated that it would feel like her insides trying to turn themselves inside out. Stares followed them down the corridor, but Dee didn't care.
It seemed to take ages to reach their destination, and Dee sighed in relief as the nurse got her changed out of her uniform and into a patient gown in the one private room sickbay offered. It was infinitely superior to Galactica, which only separated beds from one another by curtains. She'd rather not give birth with half the ship watching. "Well, you certainly got here just in the nick of time," the doc said as she examined her. "You should have called for a stretcher from the Raptor."
"Walking is good for labor," the nurse said. "It helps speed things along, lets gravity do some of the work."
"True," the doc said. "But I doubt she would have been happy if her water broke while she was still in her uniform."
"Was that likely?" Dee asked. "I mean, I'm not that far along, am I?"
The doc hesitated. "No, but I wouldn't have wanted to risk it, in your shoes. That kind of thing can change rapidly."
"You sound like you've done this before," Dee said. "I didn't think there was much call for military doctors to deliver babies."
"There isn't," the doc said. "But I've had three experiences from your side of things, so I know what I'm talking about."
"Oh," Dee said. Three children, probably all killed by the Cylons, because they certainly weren't with the Fleet. "I'm sorry."
"Concentrate on your own problems," the doc said brusquely. "Right now, you don't need the distractions." She turned to the nurse. "Let me know if anything changes."
Dee watched the doc go, grunting and grabbing at the nurse for support as another contraction hit. Gods. How long was this going to take? She hoped it would be an easy labor. All the painkillers suitable for epidurals were on the planet's surface, because they'd all assumed before the Cylons showed up that any pregnant women would live on New Caprica. After hearing her sister's complaints about birth (her sister was a traditionalist who refused pain medication for labor, wanting to do it the way the gods had intended), Dee had firmly decided that it would be drugs all the way. She smiled at the irony as the contraction subsided. Eudoxia could have had meds if she'd wanted them, but didn't take them. Anastasia wanted them, but couldn't have them. All Eudie's children had been born at a good birthing center, clean and beautiful to soothe the new mother's mind, with soft music and a priestess right there to pray and a proper OB/GYN on call in case anything went wrong. And Eudie had had their mother with her, and their aunts, coaching her through it.
She would wish Lee were here, but in the list of people she wanted with her, Lee was pretty far down the list.
In between contractions, she had time to wonder where Bill had gone. He'd disappeared just after depositing her here, and she would have thought he'd stick around. She was glad he wasn't here, she thought, as she tried to catch her breath between contractions. They'd grown a lot closer over the last few months, but Dee still didn't think she'd be comfortable letting him see her like this. Not to mention what the rumor mill would make of it, him here for the delivery like an expectant father.
Delivery seemed to go on endlessly, but when they placed her daughter in her arms and she asked how long the labor was, it was only eight hours, from the time she'd started feeling contractions on Galactica.
Only! What a funny word for something so intense, she thought, looking down at the tiny bundle that had been the cause of all this fuss.
"She seems to be perfectly healthy," the doc said. "Do you know how to breast feed?" There was no way to make infant formula, not any that Dee would have been willing to trust. She and the doc had already discussed the issue of feeding and work shifts, and the doc had somehow gotten someone to make a breast pump and some bottles.
"Well, I've never done it," Dee said, "but I've seen it. This is instinct—how hard can it be?"
"You'd be surprised," the doc said. "But, on the bright side, you have good nipples for breast-feeding. And the baby's healthy, and chances are it will be able to figure out what to do if you get it in the right spot."
Dee nodded and let the doc help her get a breast out. Sure enough, when she got her daughter to her breast, it didn't take long for her to catch on.
"Well! That's a good sign," the doc said. "I'll leave you to it."
Dee looked down at the squashed red face, and tried to see traces of herself or Lee in it. If there were any, she couldn't spot them. She winced. Eudie had talked about how soothing and good it felt to nurse, but this just felt … weird. Really, really weird. But the strange sensation of milk flowing from her breast was not enough to keep her awake after the hard work she'd done.
She woke to find Bill sitting on a chair next to her, with his reading glasses, working on some papers.
"Hey," she said, sleepily.
He looked up and smiled. "How are you feeling, Dee?"
"Still tired. Sore," she said, looking down at her chest. Someone had been in to cover her up and she hadn't woken for it—she must really have needed the sleep. The baby was sleeping next to her, looking slightly less red and squashed than she remembered.
"What's her name?" Bill asked.
"Her name? Oh," Dee said. "Arkadia. Cady, for short. It was my grandmother's name." She'd thought about using her mother's name—Theodora—but in the end had decided to go with the more traditional name. And if you'd told her younger self that she'd name a daughter based on tradition, she would never have believed it.
"Cady Adama," Bill said. "I like it."
"Want to hold her?" Dee asked.
"I'd love to," Bill said, setting his papers on the desk and coming over to the bed to collect his granddaughter. "Unfortunately, I can't stay long."
"Why, what are you working on?" Dee asked.
Bill hesitated, gaze fixed on the baby in his arms. "Now, remember, you just had a baby," he said. "Your first priority is recovering from that, okay?"
"Bill, you're scaring me," she said, visions of the worst possible scenario floating through her head. Surely, even in labor, she would have noticed a Cylon attack?
"Sorry," he said. "It's good news, but I don't want you to jump out of bed and try to go back to work. I know what a workaholic you can be."
"Pot, kettle," Dee said.
"Point," Bill replied.
"Anyway," Dee said with as much of a shrug as she could manage, "I'm a bit too worn out to jump out of bed, no matter what you tell me."
Bill nodded. "Our people on New Caprica have made contact," he said. "We're going back. We're working on rescue plans now."
"Wow," Dee said, feeling a hollowness in her stomach that had nothing to do with the lack of a baby there. "What a time to go into labor. Though I suppose it was better than if I'd waited a few days and had Cady in the midst of battle."
"No kidding," Bill said. "It'll take at least a few days to get everything ready, both here and on the ground. There'll be plenty of time for you to get ready to transfer over to one of the civilian ships."
"Transfer?" Dee said. "No! I'm going with Pegasus to New Caprica."
"Cady can't come," Bill said, "and she'd do better with you with her. More to the point, you just had labor. It's gonna be awhile before you're back in fighting trim, and we need everyone who's coming with us to be at the top of their form."
"I can do it, Bill," Dee insisted. "There's a woman in the Fleet who just gave birth a couple of weeks ago. She can take Cady, too, so she can feed her if we're gone for too long. I'll be ready when it's time." They couldn't leave her behind! She'd worked too hard for this! The crew had come to accept her, but abandoning them in battle would lose that for sure.
Bill looked unconvinced. "We'll see what the doc says when the time comes," he said. "In the meanwhile, you just rest." He glanced at the clock. "I need to go," he said, handing Cady back to her.
Dee watched numbly as he gathered his papers and left, Cady tucked securely in her arms. "You are very inconvenient," she said quietly to the sleeping baby. "I hope you know that."
Shattering clouds of energy burst into Lida's mind, forming into ships in orbit in milliseconds. The datastream lit up with communication, as the ships in orbit passed their perceptions to all Cylons. It was the Colonial Fleet—the tiny corner of Lida that was not overwhelmed by the mass of data was frozen. Lee had said they would not come back! He had lied to her!
A shock passed through the datastream—there were three battlestars! Where had they found a third? What had it been doing all this time? The basestars and Raiders moved to attack, swiftly calculating the optimum division of forces for three battlestars. What was more than adequate against two was less effective against three.
Reports were coming in from the ground: the grounded Colonial ships were spooling up their drives. Someone had betrayed them. There was fighting in the streets, and humans were racing towards the ships with what little they could carry. Others were attacking the Cylon compound. The Cylons were not prepared for a mass uprising; if they had been concentrated in one place, instead of scattered throughout the settlement, they would have been able to put this rebellion down. If they hadn't had to worry about the Humans in the air, they could have taken the time to regroup.
Strategies and possibilities flew through the datastream. LIDA, THERE IS A HEAVY RAIDER WAITING FOR YOU. GET TO ORBIT AND JUMP TO SAFETY IMMEDIATELY. No way to tell who sent the message, but it carried the weight of many minds.
Lida disengaged from the datastream, staggering from an explosion. There was something she had to do, first.
She ran through the corridors of the compound, cursing the swollen stomach that slowed her down and threw off her balance. For once, no one paid her any attention. All were too busy with their own tasks.
It only took a few minutes to get to their apartment. It was still locked, but both the Human and Centurion guards were gone. The Centurions were presumably with the fighting; who knew where the Human was, or what she was doing. Lida swallowed at the idea of facing Lee, now of all times, without a backup, but she trusted him. He loved her, and she loved him. The baby was proof of that. (But he'd lied to her. He had said his people would abandon them.) Well. It was time to put that to the test. He didn't doubt she was pregnant now, and he would never hurt his own child.
Hastily, she unlocked the door, closing it behind her—but not locking it. "Lee!" she called out.
"Lida, what's going on?" Lee asked. "Is there fighting out there?"
"Yes," she said. "Your father is in orbit, with three battlestars. He must have been in contact with people on the ground; they are rising up, and they've already gotten the ignition keys for the grounded ships. We can't fight two battles at once. I don't know who will win, but I do know that at least some of your people here on the ground are going to make it out." She swallowed. "I'm leaving, now. It's not safe for me here, no matter what happens, so there's a heavy raider waiting for me. The guards are gone. Will you come with me?"
"What?" Lee asked. "The guards are gone?"
Lida nodded. "And the door is unlocked. It's up to you." Lee was the only one who could decide if the Ones were right, with their mocking denial of love.
Lee closed his eyes and swallowed. Abruptly he nodded. "Good bye, Lida," he said, grabbing a jacket he'd never used before. "I hope you make it out of here safely." He ran to the kitchen and grabbed a knife. Lida tensed; once, when he was first here, he'd stabbed her. But he ran past her and out the door, not sparing her a second glance. She sank into a chair, adrenaline ebbing out of her. He had hesitated, before leaving, but not for long. The room shook again; it was fitting, as her life was crumbling down around her, to have the building threaten to do so as well. He hadn't even asked if she wanted to come with him—not that she would have, but it would have been something, some proof that she had not totally miscalculated him.
The door burst open again. "Lida!" it was an Eight, heavily armed. "Lida, you should already be gone. We have to hurry!"
"I know," Lida said, standing up. "Let's go."
It took longer than she expected to get across the compound to the waiting Heavy Raider; several times, they had to go around pockets of fighting and they had to go the long way around the prison section, which was under Human control. But they got there, and she and the Eight climbed in, the Raider lifting off and flying even before they were properly strapped in, juking to avoid any possible attackers the second Lida's harness fastened. She stroked the console next to her, thanking the Raider for flying them. The raider sent a pulse of acknowledgment back, and a warning to prepare for jump. Lida spared a second for surprise—they were awfully close to the planet's gravity well. Still, the Raider knew best what its own tolerances were.
The peculiar tugging sensation of a jump passed through her, followed by a wave of nausea. Lida vomited, managing to turn her head to avoid splashing herself just in time.
"Gross," the Eight said, from her seat across from Lida. "You couldn't have waited to find something to catch it in?"
"It wasn't exactly voluntary," Lida growled, clutching the console for support and swallowing hard as she tried to prevent a repeat performance. "God. That was really unpleasant." It wasn't taking the Lord's name in vain, she assured herself; it was a genuine prayer of discontent. Her stomach started to settle. "Human women often have trouble with nausea during pregnancy, but I hadn't before. I really, really hope I don't do that every time I jump until the baby's born."
The Eight looked alarmed. "Well, we were still solidly in New Caprica's gravity well, so it was a really hard jump. And we were doing evasive maneuvers before that. Maybe it won't be that bad?"
"I hope so," Lida said, closing her eyes. She needed to clean up, but couldn't muster the energy. It wasn't like there were any real cleaning supplies, she told herself, and they'd be on a Basestar soon. She thought an apology at the mess to the Raider, but it responded with remorse of its own for the rough ride.
Lida relaxed and laid back, still touching the console and losing herself in the Raider's experience of flight, to the extent that her limited senses could process it. The Ones did have a point, she reflected; their Cylon brethren in other forms were blessed by God with marvelous perceptions the human-shaped models could only dimly glimpse. It was a surprise to think it; she was so used to the adversarial relationships that had grown up on New Caprica that it was hard to remember that they were all Cylons, after all, working towards a common goal. Maybe now that they were leaving that place they would find unity again.
"You're spending a lot of time communing with the Raider," the Eight said. "Is something wrong?"
"Hm?" Lida said, opening her eyes. "No. I was just watching it fly, and enjoying being with it. It's been so long since I had contact with any Cylons other than the numbered models and the Centurions. It's good to remember that we're all Cylons together, no matter what shape or form." It was true, she reflected; the Raider was a Cylon, and the Centurions were Cylons, and the hybrids were Cylons, and the human-shaped models were Cylons, and her baby, her baby was going to be a Cylon, too. So what if it didn't look like any of the Seven? Heavy Raiders didn't look like Raiders, and neither looked like Centurions, and none of them looked anything like the Seven. Yet all were one community.
"I suppose so," the Eight said.
"I wonder if that wasn't our problem on New Caprica," Lida mused. "We were so focused, all the numbered models, on what we wanted with the Humans. I don't think we ever once asked what the Centurions thought, or the Raiders. Maybe they could have given us a different perspective, something that would have broken us out of the deadlock we found ourselves in."
"Bit late for that now," the Eight said.
"I suppose," Lida said, closing her eyes and dropping back into the Heavy Raider's datastream. Who knew how long it would take their brethren at New Caprica to finish there and come for them?
It took a lot of arguing to get the doc to clear Dee for the battle, but in the end, Dee won. Cady was sent away with as much breast milk as Dee could pump. Dee didn't even have time to see her Raptor leave, but went straight to CIC to the place at the Command station she'd made her own.
Bill smiled at her when she came in, and Dee returned it, careful not to lean against the console, no matter how much she wanted to. If Bill thought she wasn't fit for duty, he'd send her back to sickbay regardless of the doc having cleared her.
She listened to the reports coming in, making sure everything was as it should be, keeping one eye on the clock. She'd reviewed the plan from sickbay; Bill hadn't made that many changes from the scenario they'd gamed out just days before.
The last stations reported ready and the count to the time they'd told their people on the ground to expect fell to zero. Bill nodded, straightening. The air was filled with tension, and Dee found herself holding her breath. "All right," Bill said. "Let's go bring our people home." He nodded to Dee.
"Petty Officer Higa," Dee said. "Send the signal to jump."
"Aye, Sir," Higa said.
Dee winced as they jumped; she wasn't sure whether that was worse than usual or if she just felt it more than usual. She shook her head to clear it, throwing herself into the battle she'd helped plan. Astonishingly, things went roughly as planned. The simulated third Battlestar drew the Cylons out of position, giving Pegasus and Galactica time to concentrate their fire and go after the Basestars one at a time. By the time the Cylons figured out what was going on and regrouped, the first ships were lifting off. And enough of the Cylon ships were damaged to level the playing field.
Once all the ships were off the surface, they made three jumps in quick succession before even stopping to let the Raptors dock to unload their people. It had been a narrow shave—they'd almost lost Galactica, but Pegasus was in better shape—but as far as they knew, they'd gotten everybody out. Once they were sure they'd thrown the Cylons off their track, Bill gave the order to stop for a while, so the smaller ships could dock and they could do a census and an inventory. Dee winced; of course the people were more important than the things, but almost everything left behind was going to be irreplaceable. The Fleet's supply problems were only going to get worse. But that was a problem for another day.
Bill took the intercom, asked for a Fleet-wide channel. "I can't tell you how proud I am of you all today, military and civilian," he said. "This rescue would not have been possible without a lot of hard work and discipline on all your parts."
He went on for a few minutes, and Dee was sure it was a rousing speech, but she couldn't pay attention. They'd done it. They'd actually done it. And she'd been a part of it, she'd made a difference. Of course, every officer and crewman made a difference, but this was different from her impact as a petty officer. Then, she'd affected only a small part of any given operation. Today, she had helped determine the whole battle plan. It was a heady feeling, made more so by the aftereffects of the labor she was still recovering from.
Cady, she had to get Cady back; but transfers from ship to ship would have to wait until the essential offloading had been done. And Lee—where was he?
She turned to Petty Officer Higa, who was coordinating communications traffic. "Have you started a tally of who all has been rescued and what ship they're on?" she asked, noting the frantic scribbling he was doing as he listened to his headphones.
"Yes, Sir, he said. "It's very confused. I have no idea how long it's going to take to sort everything out."
Dee grinned. "I understand. It's going to be a huge task."
He returned her smile. "I'd rather have it than not, though."
"Absolutely," Dee said.
"I haven't heard anything about Commander Adama, yet," Higa said. "He's not on the Raptors landing on Pegasus, I know that much. I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything."
"Thank you, Higa," Dee said.
Bill came up behind her. "Now that we're down from action stations, I'm going down to the hangar decks to welcome our new arrivals. Want to come with?"
"I'd love to," Dee said. "Higa will let us know if he hears anything about Lee."
"Thank you, HIga," Bill said, and they headed down. "We need to be seen," he said, once out in the corridor. "And we need to be on hand if there are any problems—we don't know what the hell we're going to have. We'll split up. I'll take the starboard deck, you take port."
"Right," Dee said. They split up at the next junction.
The deck was a madhouse when she got there, and a quick glance at Chief Omehia showed him to be hovering on the edge. As each Raptor disgorged its people, they wandered around, laughing, crying, some with glazed eyes as if in shock, and generally getting underfoot of the ground crew that was still trying to land birds. Off-duty officers and crew were streaming in, adding to the chaos as normally disciplined people gave their emotions free reign.
Why hadn't they figured out a protocol for this? Dee was chagrined to realize that she'd been so focused on the battle, that she hadn't put any thought into what was going to happen after, when all the people who'd been living on the ground suddenly became refugees again. And as XO, it was really the kind of problem that fell in her jurisdiction.
Well, no time like the present. Calling Marines in for crowd control was a very bad idea. Marines were trained for combat and military security, not peacekeeping. She grabbed a passing petty officer—Chief Petty Officer Johnson, from Engineering. She'd gotten a commendation for organizational skills and running a tight crew, a few months ago. "Hey," she said. "We need to get these people organized. I want you to start getting everybody's name and what ship they used to be on, and any surviving family members. If they're injured, send them to sickbay; if they're not, send them to the closest mess hall to get them out from underfoot. Dragoon as many people as you need to help. Make sure we've got people to escort them so they don't wander off."
"Yes, Sir," Johnson said briefly, though she gave a wistful glance at the party around her.
Dee nodded. She'd rather have one of the communications staff handle the job, but they were all pretty darn busy right now. Johnson would do it. It'd be good to have an officer supervising something like this, but most of the officers so far were pilots, and this was exactly the kind of organizational details that most pilots were horrible at: dealing with people who weren't pilots.
It only took a few minutes to get things really going, directing the off-duty crewers to Johnson for instruction, detailing a few to make sure all the side hatches between the deck and the nearest mess hall and the infirmary were dogged, to decrease the likelihood of anyone wandering off. Dee took a brief moment to wonder if she should call over to the starboard deck to see if she needed to go over there and get things organized, before deciding that coming down here was Bill's idea in the first place, so he probably had it all under control.
Olive skin caught her eye. "Felix!" she called. "Felix, you made it!" Her heart leapt with joy to see one of her closest friends.
He turned, and she swallowed. He wasn't laughing with joy to be here. He wasn't crying, either. There was a terrible emptiness in his eyes, and for a second she couldn't tell if he recognized her. "Dee?" He tried to pull something like his usual smile over his face, and it might have fooled her if she hadn't seen his first expression. "Dee, you look great. I thought I'd never see you again."
"Likewise," Dee said, drawing him in for a hug. "You don't look so hot. Are you okay?"
"Fine," Felix said. "Better than fine, now that I'm here."
"Tell me the truth, Felix," Dee said, holding him at arm's length and staring into his eyes. "It's okay to be messed up. I understand." She paused, but he didn't say anything. "All right. Do you know where the XO's quarters are?"
"Not on Pegasus," Felix said.
"Deck three, section five, room two. I have to stay here and oversee this, but you don't look like you want to be out in the crowd," she said, taking in his slightly hunched shoulders and the way he was flinching every time someone bumped into him. "Check in with Johnson, get on her list, get checked out in medbay if you need it—" he shook his head "—alright, then, go to my quarters and as soon as I get done here I'll meet you there and we can talk."
"Sounds like a plan," Felix said.
"Hey, do you know if Lee was evacuated?" Dee asked.
Felix hesitated. "As far as I know, he was alive as of the start of the evacuation," he said, "but I don't know if he was able to get to one of the ships. He was a prisoner for the whole Occupation."
Dee swallowed. It wasn't her worst fear; at least he'd still been alive. But it was close. What had they done to him all those months?
"I'm sorry," Felix said.
"Not your fault," Dee said. "I just wish we'd been able to come get you guys sooner.
Felix gave a tight smile. "Yeah."
"Okay," Dee said. "So. I've got to work. Check in, head to my quarters, relax and enjoy your freedom. I'll see you in a few."
"Yes, Sir," Felix said with a smile and a nod.
Dee turned her attention back to managing the deck, and keeping the civilians out of the way of the deck crews while Johnson and her people processed them.
One of the deck crew came up to her. "Sir, Petty Officer Higa's on the line for you."
"Thank you," Dee said, heading over to the phone.
"Dualla," she said.
"Sir, I've located Commander Adama," he said. "He's on Colonial One."
Dee's knees almost gave way. She leaned against the bulkhead, taking in a huge gasping breath. "Thank you," she said, once she could trust her voice. "Any other survivors of note?"
"Nobody's seen or heard anything about President Baltar, but President Roslin is on Colonial One. They'll be docking as soon as we've got the Raptors unloaded and the hangar deck cleared. The Caprican, Gemenese, Libran, Scorpian, and Aquarion Quorum representatives have all been located, and I've heard that the Canceron, Aerilon, and Piconese representatives were killed in the Occupation. No word yet on Vice President Zarek."
Dee breathed out. It sounded like they had most of a functioning government, and she prayed that at least Baltar wouldn't be in the Fleet when the final census was made. Possibly Zarek, too, but she'd take Zarek if Baltar's slimy incompetence was gone. "Excellent work, Higa. If you haven't already, notify the Admiral. Keep me posted."
She hung up, and sank to her knees, praying to the gods in gratitude for Lee's safety. No matter what they'd done to him, if he was alive they could work through it. "Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer," she murmured, her fingers itching to clench around an idol-statue. "I give you thanks for the care you have given to my husband, Lee Adama, in leading him safely through danger to return to me. To Apollo the hunter and healer, I give thanks for his care for his namesake. To Artemis, my patron, I give thanks that our hunt for our people was successful. To Hecate I give thanks for releasing Lee from your care, for surely he was as one dead. To Ares, I give thanks that you smiled upon us in battle, that we could free him and our people. To Aurora I give things for the new dawn that has broken upon this fleet and upon my marriage. To Poseidon, I give thanks for guiding us safely through the deeps of space and hiding us from our enemies. To Zeus and Hera, for your care for all your children. I have no offering but prayer, for I am a traveler lost upon the way, but I will sing your praise to the people for what you have done this day. So say we all."
She opened her eyes, staring out at the hangar deck, blinking away tears of joy. The chaos had been harnessed into something manageable. She trusted her people; they could take it from here. Her heart was pounding, and her eyes were filling with tears; she couldn't work, now. Her mind was in a whirl.
She picked up the handset again and punched the button for the bridge. It took a minute to connect; not surprising, considering how busy the com section must be. "Higa."
"I'll be in my quarters if anyone needs me, let me know when Colonial One is about to dock," Dee said.
After the acknowledgment, she made her way to her quarters, smiling at the reunions and laughter she passed on the way, now that she knew she would be having one of her own, soon. And there was Felix! Felix, whom she'd missed almost as much as Lee. They hadn't talked in so long, even before the occupation of New Caprica, and even then nothing but fights. Now was time to put it all behind them. The past was over, done with. What mattered was where they went from here.
Felix was sitting at the chair in front of her desk, when she entered her quarters. "Hey," she said, smiling. "It's so good to see you there."
"It's good to be here," Felix said. "You don't—you can't know what it was like down there." He looked down.
"Well, no," Dee said. "But if you tell me, I can at least listen." She gestured over to the couch, and sat down on it.
Felix stood, accepting her invitation, though he was still a bit stiff. "It wasn't that bad, really," he said, smiling. "I got through it all right." And if she hadn't seen that first moment on the hangar deck, she might have believed him. "A lot of people had it a lot worse than I did, including your husband. Have you heard about him?"
"Yeah, he's aboard Colonial One," Dee said. She laughed. "I almost can't believe it, that I'll see him soon." She reached out and laid a hand on Felix's arm. "But don't think that lets you off the hook, mister. I don't care what happened to other people. Well, I do, but I care about what happened to you more. Tell me, please?"
"You know I was Baltar's aide." It wasn't a question. Everyone in the Fleet knew it was only Gaeta and Zarek's tag-teaming that got anything done in Baltar's administration. "When the Cylons landed … they said they wanted to work together. In peace. Side by side. They said they weren't conquerors, but friends."
Dee's jaw dropped. "You are frakking with me, right?"
"No, though gods know I wish I was," Felix said. "If they'd been less covert, it would have been easier in some ways. Still, I suppose it was better that way, in the long run. They had to at least pretend to get along, and that stayed their hand, some. A little. When they were in a good mood. I mean, they didn't nuke the place from orbit, that has to be a step up, right?"
"I can be glad you survived, while still grieving what you went through," Dee said.
Felix nodded jerkily.
"So, if they wanted to make nice, what did they do to the government?" Dee asked.
"They kept Baltar on as a puppet," Felix said. "Zarek they got rid of as too much of a trouble-maker. They were always rounding up troublemakers. They converted the apartment blocks we were just finishing into a Cylon compound, complete with extensive prisons. Most people had to live in their tents through the winter, there was a lot of pneumonia and frostbite and exposure."
"And what were you doing, in all that?" Dee asked, gently.
"They kept me," Felix said. "To keep up a pretense of normalcy, and I thought—I thought maybe I could do something, pass information to whoever was going to stand against them, or, or maybe even affect policy. Somehow."
"And did you?"
Felix laughed breathlessly. "Not enough."
"Did you do what you could?" Dee asked.
"How the hell should I know?" Felix said. "I was so scared, that whole time—I knew what happened to people they decided were troublemakers. And what use would I be dead, or in prison? There were things I could have done, that I didn't do because I was afraid."
"I'm sure you did your best," Dee said, patting his shoulder.
"And even when I did act, it all came out wrong," Felix said. "They would twist it, or I would only draw attention to things that they shouldn't have found out about. Baltar … Baltar just stayed in his bedroom and played house with a Six, unless they dragged him out for something. I was the one they made do the work. Everyone knew I was a collaborator."
"I don't imagine you were too popular," she said, quietly. Her joy had drained away as she listened. How could it not?
"Tell me one good thing you did," Dee said. "One truly good thing."
Felix smiled. "I got the weakest frequencies out to the Resistance, so they could make contact. That was … that was good."
"Felix, that was more than good," Dee said. "Without you, everyone would still be on New Caprica. We barely made it, even with the ability communicate with the people on the ground. People should know that, they should know that you're the reason they're alive now."
"So what?" Felix said. "It would be my word against the nightmare they lived through. Nobody would believe me."
"So, we find your contact in the Resistance," Dee said. "You had to have one, even if they didn't know who you are. There has to be something about the drop that only you would know. Once we can prove that—well, there will still be idiots. But the people who matter will know that you are a good, and loyal man. Okay?"
Felix nodded, and it seemed for a second that he was going to cry. He needed it, Dee thought.
A chirping interrupted, and Felix sat up straighter, taking a deep breath. Dee scowled at the timing. The last thing Felix needed was to have time to bottle things up inside him, again. She reached for the handset. Her quarters were small enough she could reach the desk from the couch. "Dualla," she said.
It was Bill. "Dee, Colonial One will be docking in fifteen minutes in the starboard bay," he said. "Also, I expedited Cady's return. It's past time for Lee to meet his daughter, don't you think?"
"I do," Dee said. Gods, to have all three of them together! "I'll be right there." She hung up and looked at Felix, torn.
"I can go, find where the refugees are," he said.
"No," Dee said, shaking her head. "Not if they think you're a collaborator. It's not safe." She frowned. She'd offer to let Felix stay here, but if Lee thought he was a traitor … that would get messy. "Bunk in with the bridge junior officers, for now. I'm assuming you'll be rejoining, I'll have you transferred here to Pegasus. I'll be looking out for you, okay?"
Felix nodded. "Thanks," he said. "I can find it myself, I think."
"It's the least I can do," Dee said.
On the way to the landing bay, Dee's thought's turned to happier directions. She had missed Cady more than she'd ever imagined. And Lee—gods! They would be a family, really and truly a family. She hadn't planned for this, wouldn't have chosen it, and yet perhaps it would work out fine.
She met Bill as Colonial One was still settling into place. An honor guard stood behind them. "Cady's Raptor should be arriving in a few minutes," Bill said. "Her caretaker will take her to your quarters. I'll greet the President, handle all the protocol. You just take Lee back to your quarters, and introduce him to Cady. I'll be there as soon as I can."
"Right," Dee said. "Remind me later, we need to talk about Mister Gaeta."
President Roslin was the first aboard Pegasus, and the honor guard snapped to attention.
"Madame President," Bill rumbled, "welcome back." His words and his handshake were all perfectly correct, but Dee knew him enough—and had heard enough rumors which he had never commented on—to know he was holding himself back.
Then Lee stepped out, and she forgot all about Bill and Roslin.
He looked … surprisingly good, for someone who had been in prison for the better part of a year. There were no new scars, no bruises, even. His clothes were clean and neat. But his eyes—even if she hadn't known, she'd have been able to tell something was wrong.
She stepped forward to greet him, wrapping him in a tight hug. He was stiff in her arms. Lee was never the best at receiving physical comfort, which was odd given how tactile Bill was, but he seemed to be worse than usual. Or perhaps her memory was just playing tricks on her. Eventually, he relaxed enough to hug her back.
"I'm so glad you're here," Dee said.
"So am I," Lee said slowly.
Bill was watching them, she noticed, and she let go of Lee. As she expected, he reached over at once and drew Lee into an embrace of his own. Dee was smiling so hard she felt like her face would split apart.
As Bill and Lee separated, President Roslin spoke up. "Bill, we've got time to handle the business later. Go be with your family, now."
"You're welcome to join us, Madame President," Bill said. And if Dee hadn't already suspected there was something between them, that would have given it away.
"I'll join you in a little while," she said. "Go on."
"Yes, Ma'am," Bill said.
The three of them walked down the corridors, with Lee in the middle. Dee was holding his arm, almost afraid that he would disappear if she let go. "I heard you were a prisoner for the whole occupation," she said, carefully. Better to have everything out in the open than try to dance around it.
"You heard right," Lee said, still speaking slower than normal, as if he weren't used to using his voice.
"I'm so sorry," Dee said.
"I'd have come back sooner if I could have, son," Bill said.
Lee was silent until they reached Dee's quarters, but he startled once there. "Why are we here?" he asked. "Why not our quarters?"
"They're not our quarters anymore, Lee," Dee said. "With you gone, we rearranged the command staff. Your father took command of Pegasus, with me as his XO. So he's got the Commander's quarters, and I've been living here."
"Oh," Lee said. "What about Galactica?"
"Helo's in command, with Hoshi as his XO," Bill said. "Now that we've rescued so many of our people, we'll probably be reorganizing again to fill in the gaps and make the best use of our people."
"You don't have to, not for me," Lee said. "I think … I don't think I could go back to being a Commander. I think I could fly, but …"
"Okay," Dee said. "We don't have to decide this now, you know. Let's take some time to think, first, before we make any decisions. Time to recover from your captivity."
Lee nodded. "It wasn't—I don't want—other people had it a lot worse than I did," he said. "I know, because I could hear them screaming. Sometimes, at the beginning. Not later. They never tortured me, or anything. I spent a few weeks in a cell, being interrogated, and then a Six adopted me as a pet project, and kept me in a much nicer cell for the rest of the time. I had enough to eat, she never hurt me, not even after I killed her. It frakked with my mind, but it could have been a lot worse."
"That sounds pretty serious to me," Bill said. "I think the priests and the therapists will be working overtime, but you can talk to me whenever you need to."
"Or me," Dee put in. She glanced towards the door. It was so tense in here—surely, Cady would help with that. And Dee's breasts were heavy with milk. As if on cue, the buzzer rang. She sprang up and strode to the hatch, opening it to see her daughter there, held in a stranger's arms. "Thank you," she said, taking Cady and the bag filled with Cady's things.
"I'm glad to help," the woman said, shifting. Dee could see another baby in a sling on her back. "I'll let you get back to your reunion. If you need me again, just call. I like babies, it's not that much more trouble to take care of two."
"I will," Dee said. "Thanks again!"
She closed the hatch and turned back to Lee and Bill. "Lee, I'd like you to meet—"
Lee was white as a sheet, and had bolted up and wedged himself into a corner.
"No," he said. "No, no, no, no, this is not possible."
"Lee, what's wrong?" Bill asked, approaching him carefully.
Dee kept her distance. If Lee was having some sort of psychotic break, better he stay out of reach of Cady.
"Lee, it's okay, whatever it is, it's okay," she said. "This is our daughter, Arkadia Adama. Cady. She was born less than a week ago, here on Pegasus."
Lee swallowed. "Arkadia," he said slowly. "Not … not Carolanne?"
"No," Dee said, "I named her after my grandmother."
"She's your daughter?"
"And yours too," Dee said, puzzled. Did Lee think she'd cheated on him? But surely that wouldn't cause a panic attack!
"Oh," Lee said, sagging to the floor. "Oh, I thought this was a dream, that I was still back with her." He was crying. Dee had never seen him cry before.
"No, you're here on Galactica, with your family," Bill said, sitting down next to him and wrapping an arm around him.
Satisfied that he wasn't dangerous, Dee walked over and sat down on his other side. She leaned against him, but her arms were filled with Cady. She unsnapped her tunic and lifted up her tanks to unhook her bra, unselfconscious at Bill's presence. She needed to nurse, and maybe it would calm Lee down as much as Cady.
Lee watched her, emotions Dee didn't know how to read flickering across his face.
While she waited for him to calm down, Dee fed Cady. After a while, she switched to the other breast. After Cady ate her fill, Dee straightened her clothes and dug a rag out from the bag, placing it on her shoulder before burping Cady as the doctor had shown her. Once she was done, she turned to Lee.
"So," she said. "Want to tell me what was so terrifying about seeing your own daughter?"
He licked his lips. On his other side, Bill stirred at her bluntness.
"She was pregnant," Lee said. "The Six who had me. She called herself Lida. She was showing. She was so proud of it. We—if the baby was a girl, it was going to be Carolanne."
Dee felt as if she'd been kicked in the gut. Lee … and a Cylon? Even if it was rape—of course it was rape, he was a prisoner, and there was no possibility of free consent—he had talked about names with the Cylon. He hadn’t been here to decide Cady's name with her, because he'd been on New Caprica talking about what to name his Cylon baby. It wasn't his fault—he never asked for some frakking toaster—frakking toaster, that was good—to take an interest in him, and chance were it wasn't even his baby. If there was a baby. That kind of con sounded like what a toaster might do. Her skin still crawled. Her arms tightened around Cady, and the baby cried in protest.
"Excuse me," she said, hauling herself to her feet and grabbing the bag. "I need to see if she needs to be changed." She retreated to the bedroom, closing the door behind her. Let Bill deal with Lee, now.
Once the door was closed behind her, she checked the diaper just in case. It was fine, but Cady continued to fuss. "Sh, sh, sh," she said, rubbing the baby's back and rocking back and forth, as she'd done with cousins and nieces and nephews. "It's okay. Mommy doesn't have time to sing you a lullaby, she's got to do something first."
Dee grabbed the handset by her bed. Never had she been so grateful for the luxury of the XO's quarters on Pegasus, a whole suite. She didn't want Lee or Bill overhearing this. "Get me Commander Agathon," she said.
It took a few minutes to track him down. Dee waited impatiently.
"Agathon speaking," Helo said at last.
"Helo, this is Dee," she said. "You alone?"
There was a pause. "No. Sharon's here with me. We're in our quarters."
Right. Sharon, Helo's Cylon wife, who had had his child and was now an officer in the Colonial Fleet with him. "I just had the most interesting discussion with Lee," she said. "And I thought maybe you could shed some light on it. Seems he spent the whole Occupation in a prison cell with a Six, playing house. I learned this because he freaked out when he saw Cady, because the Six got pregnant. I figure, you're the expert on Cylon pregnancies. And Cylon romances. So tell me, what should I expect?"
The pause was longer this time. "Do you want me to put Sharon on? She might know better. I mean, she saw at least a little bit of New Caprica, and she knows the Sixes a lot better than I do."
"No, Helo, I want to talk to you," Dee said. "She knows about Cylons. You know about what it's like to get frakked by them. I want to know what my husband went through, what they did to him." She was crying, she realized. She hadn't realized when she started.
"I don't know," Helo said. "That sounds a lot different than what I went through with Sharon. I mean, we'd fallen in love and she was protecting me from the other Cylons before I even knew she was one. And we spent most of our time just trying to survive, there wasn't much time for psychological manipulation or conditioning, which it sounds like Lee got a full dose of. And by the time I knew Sharon was a Cylon, she was three-quarters of the way to defecting, anyway. Sharon wasn't my captor, she was my co-pilot and partner. If Lee's experience was anything like mine, why didn't she come with him? I just … I just don't know anything I experienced can help you. Are you sure you don't want to talk to Sharon?" His voice sounded a little desperate.
"No, I really, really don't," Dee said. Lieutenant Agathon was on their side. If she wasn't, she could have told the Cylons about the impending attack, about the trick with the Raptors, when she went down on the planet to get the launch keys and coordinate the evacuation. Dee knew that, really she did. But now of all times, she did not want to speak with a Cylon. "So," she said, biting a lip. "What do you think the chances are that the Six is going to show up some time with a baby in tow?"
"I have no idea," Helo said. "Like I said, Sharon and I were in love, and Sharon didn't want to be an experiment. If the Six doesn't love him, and doesn't mind being an experiment, well, she won't come here. But if Sharon is right, and Cylons have to love someone before they can get pregnant…"
Bile rose in Dee's throat. "Do you believe that? That they have to love?" Did Lee love the Six? He hadn't acted like it—that panic didn't speak of love, she reassured herself. It was fear. Stockholm syndrome, at most.
"I don't know," Helo said. "Guess we'll find out."
"Yeah," Dee said.
"And hey," Helo said. "Lee's back home, with his family and friends. He's not a prisoner any more. He's there, with you and Cady and his father. You've got time to work through all these issues, time to figure things out. You don't have to make any quick decisions."
"I know," Dee said. "I knew that he was going to be screwed up by his time on New Caprica. I just—this is a lot worse than I figured."
"I hear you," Helo said with a heavy sigh. Dee wondered: what had going down to New Caprica, seeing her people, stirred up for Sharon? She felt a little better, knowing that she wasn't the only one dealing with the consequences of the Occupation.
Dee looked down at Cady, laying in her lap, quiet now. Lee was out there. Lee needed her help, and it wasn't fair to make Bill deal with all of this. And Lee needed to meet his daughter. Maybe if he held her, she would be real to him, more real than the Cylon's lies. They could get through this. "Hey," she said. "In a while, once things are settled down, would you be willing to talk with Lee? I know what you went through was nothing like this, but maybe it'll help."
"I—maybe," Helo said. "If he wants to, sure. But don't push him—he may not be able to talk about it."
"Right," Dee said. "Thanks. I've got to go." She hung up without waiting for an acknowledgment, then walked into the bathroom to freshen up. A damp towel took care of the tear tracks, though it didn't do much for her red eyes.
She took a deep breath, then headed out into the living area.
Bill and Lee were sitting on the couch, but Lee had his legs curled up and his arms wrapped around them like a child. Dee went over and sat next to him, not touching him but there if he wanted contact.
He gave her a sideways glance (or maybe he was looking at Cady) before dropping his eyes to the floor. "It was all the same, really," he said. "Every day was like the next. I got up, I ate, I exercised, I read, she prayed, she told me we were in love, then we'd go to bed and do the same thing again the next day. No one else ever came in, not even the ones who delivered our food. Some days she'd leave for medical checkups, and I'd have the apartment to myself. But there was no way out. The door was guarded and the windows were reinforced. Once she was gone for a few weeks—she was attacked, and because of the baby she couldn't download, so she had surgery and physical therapy. They still delivered my food, and other than that I was alone. I thought—but then she came back." He swallowed.
Dee was having trouble keeping her breathing steady. Lee needed a lot of things, right now, and her panicking wasn't one of them. It sounded like a nightmare, one of those surreal things where nothing made sense and you were a spectator in your own life. She reached out and touched him, remembering how jumpy he'd been when she first hugged him when he stepped out of Colonial One. The last thing she wanted to do was trigger any flashbacks to the Cylon's touch.
"Then, one day, I heard something. Explosions, noise, more than I'd heard since being taken. Lida had been away, I don't know why, but she came back to our apartment. She said the Fleet was here, and people were rising up. She said, the door wasn't locked and the guards were gone, and it wasn't safe for her and the baby there—she was taking a Heavy Raider and going, and she asked me to come with her." He swallowed. "I thought it was a trick, or a test, but the ground was shaking with explosions—I grabbed a knife and ran. I found Colonial One, and we lifted off. Then we were here."
"Where, after all that fuss over the Cylon's pregnancy, you had a baby shoved under your nose first thing," Dee said. "No wonder you panicked."
Lee looked at her, really looked at her, for the first time. "I'm so sorry, Dee. I know I'm safe now, that she's gone, but she—it's hard to believe. She always came back."
"And Cady is my daughter, not hers," Dee said. "Have you really taken a look at her?" She arranged Cady so that Lee could take a good look, and pulled off the cap so he could see her hair. It was a good thing the newborn redness and squashed look had disappeared. Cady's skin was dark, much darker than Lee's almost as dark as hers, and her hair was dark and curly. Her eyes were brown. No pale blond Six could have produced such a child, not with Lee as the father.
Lee's jaw clenched, but he looked at Cady. After a few seconds, he lost a little of the blank stare and seemed to focus on her. "She has your nose."
"You think?" Dee said, considering. "I never can tell with babies—they change so much, as they grow."
"Yeah," Lee said. "Definitely your nose. And your eyes—have I ever told you how beautiful your eyes are? They're so warm, and expressive." He reached over and touched Cady's cheek with a finger.
When he didn't say anything for a while, Bill stirred. "I should leave you three in peace, go see what's happening, what President Roslin needs."
Dee looked up, eyes wide. She did not want to lose the only other sane adult in the room. He really did have to go—gods, there was so much to do, both of them should be out there, though she supposed technically she was still on maternity leave. But of all the times to choose to put the good of the Fleet above the good of his family, he picked now?
"Okay," Lee said softly, and Dee recalled his stories of childhood, watching his father leave for his ship over and over again, and realized that Lee had probably been expecting it. But of course he couldn't ask Bill to stay, because Lee never actually said what he wanted unless he was fighting. Their relationship wasn't the most frakked up Dee had seen, but it sure wasn't healthy.
That was going to have to change, she realized. She'd always stayed out of the way before, but there was Cady, now. Cady needed a family, and she didn't need her father and grandfather always at odds. Lee would need therapy; Dee would see that he got it, and that it included dealing with his family issues.
"Don't worry about anything," Bill said. "You can take as much time as you need to recover. Dee, you're back on maternity leave as of now, you've got a few weeks, so take it."
"No," Lee said, looking up at his father, jaw clenched. "I'm … I couldn't command anything, I'm not up to it, but I can fly. I need—I just spent a long time doing nothing, cooped up in one apartment. Please let me fly. I can do it, I'll even fly Raptors if you want, just give me something to do."
"Not to mention me," Dee said. "There's a lot of organizational things that will need to be done that I can do from home. Survivor lists, re-enlistments and reassignments as people who mustered out to live on the surface come back, reassigning quarters, all that sort of thing. You know me, Bill, I don't like sitting around, either, even if I'm not up to doing a full shift day after day."
He studied them. "Okay," he said. "I'll have them send you all the paperwork, Dee. Lee—" he shook his head. "I think it's a bad idea, but if you re-qualify on the simulator, you're back in. As a Captain, because I'm not making you CAG. It's not a punishment, but you said it yourself: you can't command, right now. Think you can handle flying under Captain Taylor?"
Lee nodded. "Yeah."
"Okay, then, it's settled." Bill squeezed his son's arm. "I'm so glad to have you back, son."
"So'm I, Dad," Lee said, leaning into his touch. Bill wrapped his arms around him, and Dee joined in the embrace. Lee wrapped an arm around her waist, and the other around Bill's. All four of them, together. They'd gotten their people from New Caprica; together they could do anything. They would get through this.
Lida lay in her room, staring up at the ceiling and wondering if she should get up and do something. But getting up would take so much effort. She had been constantly tired, since before they left New Caprica. The Fours said that fatigue was a common side effect of pregnancy, and that she should make sure to eat well, exercise properly, and get enough sleep. The sleep wasn't a problem. Food … she'd lost most of her appetite. And exercise required getting up and moving, and there was just so much more of her now that needed to be moved around, and she was increasing every day. Also, the stares and whispers were a lot harder to ignore now that they were all living in such close proximity, with so much less to distract them.
It was a lot easier just to stay here, alone. Unnatural as that was for a Cylon.
The door opened, and she looked up, frowning. There were no locks among Cylons, for the idea of privacy was a human thing. What did it say about her that she had learned to crave it?
A One walked through the door, and Lida sighed. Of all the models, they were the ones she was least interested in talking with. She rolled over, and struggled up to a sitting position, bracing herself against the wall to stand from there.
"My, Six, how graceful you are!" the One said. "I'm always in awe of how your model makes everything look like dancing. Or frakking. Or frakking while dancing."
"I'm carrying a lot of extra weight, and my balance is constantly shifting," Lida said.
"How helpless you are now," the One mused. "How vulnerable. If a human strike force caught you, you'd be dead meat. And the baby with you."
Lida raised an eyebrow; the odds of her facing combat any time soon were very, very small. "That's what Centurions are for."
"Ah, yes, your precious Centurions," the One said. "Tell me, what have you done to make them follow you around like puppies?"
"They want to make sure that I'm safe," Lida said. In truth, she had taken to dipping into the Centurion and Raider levels of the datastream, simply to avoid the contention and strife that now filled the organic Cylon levels. There was some signal lost in the organic/inorganic barrier, but it was surprisingly pleasant. She had forgotten, if she ever knew, that the Centurions and Raiders were truly Cylons too, not just beast of burdens. The heavy raider had reminded her of that. She would probably have forgotten all about it and gone back to socializing with her own model by now, except that it seemed to irritate the Ones. And right now, Lida would take what pleasures she could, when she could.
"Safe!" the One said. "You're not safe, and the kid will never be. No matter how many Centurions you've got guarding you. All it takes is one moment alone, one time unguarded—like now. What if Humans slipped in unnoticed, and found you like this? They wouldn't even have to shoot you, they could just beat you to death, and you couldn't fight back and you couldn't run away."
Lida blinked. A few of the Ones had gone … strange, since New Caprica. Stranger. Passing from cynicism to cruelty. He would never attack a fellow Cylon, of course, but Lida wanted him out of her space. He was between her and the door. Maybe she could throw him through it? Awkward as she was, she'd have momentum on her side. And the Ones were far less agile, closer to Human norms of strength and speed.
The One shook his head, seeming to realize what he was saying. "It's such a stupid, inefficient way of reproducing. Too much chance, too much vulnerability. If the seven current models aren't good enough for you, why not design another one? Make them true Cylons, not halfbreeds?"
"This is the way God has chosen us to multiply," Lida said.
"Ah, yes," the One sneered. "God. Who loves us, and yet made us like this, machines that are limited to Human forms and weaknesses. Who gave us all the built-in Human inefficiencies. Who will give us children, like yours, if we learn to love each other—except, oops, he didn't love you, that's right, isn't it, Lida? If he did love you, or that bastard brat you're carrying, he'd be here—"
Lida punched him in the nose, following up with a kick to the groin. She couldn't get her legs up very high these days, but what more did she need right now? She grabbed him, hunched over as he was, by the collar and threw him out of her room. "When the Ones stop being such cynical, manipulative, sick bastards, then you can talk about my problems," she said. "Until then, stay away from me."
Leaving him there in the corridor, she stalked to the nearest datastream interface. The Ones were so good at spinning things; she had to get her version out as soon as possible. She dumped her memory of the conversation into the common pool of experience, focusing on the weird conversation about how vulnerable she was. The Ones were so used to running things, they'd forgotten: she was the Mother, the second Cylon to get pregnant. Even now, with the New Caprica experiment failed, she had a lot of prestige. Affirmations flooded back that she'd done the right thing, that he'd deserved it. The Ones in the datastream disavowed it; just a single example of their model going strange, and being appropriately taken to task for it; no reflection on the rest of them.
Lida surfaced, with a snort. That, she didn't believe. The Ones were all bad news. She'd had too many run-ins with them over the last few months to believe otherwise.
Well. No use dwelling on it. Now that she was up and her blood was flowing, she should follow the Four's prescriptions and get some exercise. She thought about jogging through the corridors, but dismissed it, heading instead for the training room. She still wanted to hit something.
In the training room, she selected a punching bag and got to work, projecting a One's face on it. It was surprisingly therapeutic. By the time her arms were tired, she was calmed down and ready to work on the elliptical: less stress on her poor joints, which were already under strain from the pregnancy.
"He was right, you know," the room's other occupant said as Lida programmed the machine. Startled, Lida looked over at the Eight she'd seen come in and dismissed as unimportant. She was doing pull-ups on the bar, and not looking at Lida.
"Who was?" Lida said.
"Cavil," the Eight said.
Ah. It was Boomer, Lida noticed. Boomer, who had also gotten strange since New Caprica, according to the gossip in the datastream. She was spending time with the Ones, which lost her any sympathy Lida might have had for the failure of the New Caprica project.
"If I'm so fragile, how come he's the one who crawled away?" Lida said.
Boomer dropped from the bar and grabbed a towel. "Not about that. He deserved it, and there are times I've wanted to kick him in the nuts, so good for you. But if you ever thought Lee Adama loved you, you were delusional. Ever hear about something called Stockholm Syndrome?"
Lida shook her head.
"It's a psychological term," Boomer said. "When someone's a prisoner, standing up to their captor—even just mentally—is dangerous. Could get them killed. But going along with their captor, playing whatever part the captor wants them to play, that's a lot safer. So the Human brain starts tricking itself, finding reasons to justify its jailer's actions. It’s particularly effective in isolation. It's not love, it's a survival method. That's all Lee's attachment to you ever was: an attempt to buy your protection by going along with your game. He was never in love with you. And when he had an opportunity to escape, he took it. Oh, if you'd had him longer, you could probably have convinced him he really did love you. But it still wouldn't really be love, just programming."
Lida's heart contracted in her chest, and she felt sick. Was that really all it was, an illusion and a manipulation? Had she … had she hurt Lee by keeping him? She'd only ever been trying to help, to keep him safe and show him she meant well. She wrapped her arms around her belly. Did it hurt, or was that just an illusion too? She swallowed. No matter whether Lee loved her or she loved Lee, she loved the baby. That would have to be enough. That thought made her feel better.
"Cavil was right," Boomer said. "It wasn't love, just stupidity."
"Cavil, eh," Lida spat out. "You think Cavil knows about love? All the Ones know is manipulation and cynicism and cruelty. You know they're using you to spread dissension in the Eights, and laughing behind your back. I may have been mistaken, but I did the best I could. So did you, on New Caprica. It wasn't your fault everything fell apart. What model shot down every act of friendship? Which one called for arrests and executions? Which one kept spreading doubt and dissension about our mission? Here's a hint: it wasn't the Sixes, Twos, or Eights. The Threes can be cold, but by and large they go by the consensus. All the Fours really want is to be left in peace to do their research, and the Fives are nothing but lapdogs. No. It was the Ones, who tried to bring us down from the inside. And now you're doing their dirty work for them. If I was naïve, well, I learned my lesson. What did you learn? How to be the Ones' pet, and dance to their tune? How to bite the ones who tried to help you?"
Boomer glared at her. "Frak you," she snarled.
"Sorry, dear," Lida said with a smile. "I don't take Cavil's leavings."
She watched Boomer storm out, and slumped to the bench, drained. God, was Boomer right? Did they have any information on Human psychology? She'd have to look. If they did, why hadn't anyone studied it and shared it before now? Surely, that would have been useful to know on New Caprica! But they'd all been so caught up in what they were doing and what they wanted that they'd paid very little attention to the Humans themselves. Had anyone actually tried to look at anything from the Humans' perspective?
Lida looked up at the Centurion standing, statue-like, in a corner. "What do you think?"
Its red eye paused in scanning, and Lida sighed in frustration that it had no voice to speak, and she didn't have the right kind of transmitter to interface with its communications signal without a datalink.
What did Lida think, herself? Things had been so much simpler before New Caprica. All Cylons knew what their plan was, and how they were going to achieve it. All Cylons worked together for the good of the whole. They had been one in purpose and thought, different perspectives united. Now … now it felt like they spent more time fighting each other than they did the Humans!
She spared herself a few minutes to wallow in self-pity and nostalgia for the old days, when she was just another Six. But those times were gone, and they were never coming back. Lida was different now, from other Cylons and from her own model. Even sharing her experiences via the datastream couldn't bridge the gap, not between her and her fellow Sixes, not between one model and another. The differences and grudges that had arisen could not be papered over and forgotten.
The only way out was forward. If they couldn't go back to where they had been, where were they going? Lida didn't know, but she knew one thing: she did not trust the Ones. They had been the guiding force in Cylon councils for so long, and look where it had led them all.
Lida had power now, not just as a member of her model but in her own right. She had the power to affect the consensus. No one could put things back the way they had been, but perhaps they could make something new, some better way.
She stood up and got on the elliptical. She needed to think, carefully, about what her next move was going to be. And she needed to exercise, and take care of herself. She had a lot of work to do.
Lida still felt alone. But maybe she could work to build the kind of consensus where she wouldn't, anymore.