Birdie, she's called. It was Saul Tigh’s name for her, she thinks, originally. It was only natural that the thing took on a life of its own. Little Bird. Birdling. Birdie. She is a bastard, base-born, and a branded citizen of District Twelve. Which means that she has very few rights, many hurts, and no name to call her own. She might have been a beauty, someone from another district told her, once. (Rich people from capitol sometimes come into District Twelve to pick over the children’s home for a baby. Charitable. The Right Thing To Do.)
She cannot leave. She’ll never leave. She’s branded. "Dangerous." But the lady, bouncing some other government-owned bastard (no rights, no name, no freedom, but property for the government to pawn off onto people who can’t have their own children) in her arms had appraised her, not even knowing her. Knowing who she could have been. That she was born Eleanor Aurora Adama, daughter of the Admiral and the President. But her father is long gone, and her mother is as well.
Birdie the Bastard.
A child who shouldn’t exist, a child born of many improbabilities.
The people of District Twelve at least give her the name, Adama. Should they ever overthrow the cylons, she thinks she’ll take back Eleanor, too. Eleanor Adama. It rolls so nicely off her tongue. Better than Birdie, with no surname to call her own. (It struck her when she was thirteen that she was the reason that the cylon government stripped the rights of bastards.)
Eleanor Adama would have been a beauty. But Birdie is malnourished, too-thin, and barely five feet tall. Her hair is a flat brown—dark, long, and lank. Limp, but curly on bath days. District Twelve is the poorest, and gated off from the others. Last to receive rations and supplies. Highest suicide rate. The only district without a hospital, but two orphanages. There’s barely a school, the one her mother used to run (Laura, your mother’s name was Laura Roslin) before she was executed for high treason when Birdie was eleven. Green eyes. She has her mother’s green eyes. Her skin is olive-tinged, but sallow. Cheekbones thick, and high, jaw defined, but cheeks gaunt. Her nose is straight, and long, slightly curved at the end. Curved down. Her face is wide and angular in structure, but painfully thin.
The scars—the one that curves down the left side of her jaw, the lattice-work on her back, and her thighs. The ones below her right eye that would have blinded her had she not raised her arm in time, so instead in continue on the back of her right forearm. Claw marks, from a Three. The thumb-mark is a chunk out from under her right cheekbone. More probably, but she can’t see them, cannot be bothered to keep count. Her scars are a record of her. Proof that she has battled in life, and has come out the other side the victor.
She is slim, but muscular. Her hands are small, fingers long. She lets the tips rest on the table, palms suspended above them, fingers curved. They look like spiders. They’re surgeon’s hands, though. Not really, she thinks. Doc Cottle took her on when her mother left (be good, be smart, be brave, be strong) in his makeshift clinic. She ran out of medical texts to take home years ago, but she used to read them during the long, cold nights, from her pile of blankets on the damp basement floor. Crying babies. She could never sleep over the sound of crying babies. Read Hanbridge’s Anatomy and The Complete Medical Encyclopedia instead. Eventually found the word for her memory—eidetic.
She's good for trauma. They can’t do much else. Cottle is training her for his replacement, his vision fading and hands starting to shake. District Twelve hasn’t had antibiotics for years, or surgical equipment, at least officially, and she knows that when he dies she will be running more than a supply underground with Kara Thrace Anders. No one else on New Caprica may know her, but they do. They know what lies behind the bastard’s mark. They give her Adama. She knows that she is expected to be the symbol of the resistance in return. Like her mother before her, she will sacrifice her life to the cause. Like Saul Tigh. And Sam Anders. Cally Tyrol. Tory Foster. Felix Gaeta. So many more. So many names. So many faces. So many dead, so many taken, so many questions. So many so many so many so much.
And soon they’ll look to her.
The fight is over, each district is told. Divide and conquer, she learned at her mother’s knee, during one of the brief periods of time they had lived together in the small house with the red door. Bastards are wards of the government. They can be taken away from their parents at any time. Bastards can be sold. Bastards can be experimented on. Trained. Brainwashed. They are blank slates for the government.
That isn’t to say that all children can’t be reaped. All children are subject to the Hunger Games. And the cylons an force anyone’s hands. Who wouldn’t want their child to grow up in the capitol, or District One? District Two? Go to a good school. Receive an education. Never go hungry. Never go cold. Have a roof over their heads and shoes on their feet.
But District Twelve. Criminals. Dissenters. Conscientious Objectors. The branded, who will never go beyond the gates again. The born, who can only hope to be reaped for intelligence, or talent, or brute strength, or beauty. And the rest, who pray to the Gods for deliverance. Or at least District Eleven. But they’re good people, her people. It isn’t the den of sin and crime that the government pawns it to the other districts to be. District Twelve has almost no crime at all. Only the ones the cylons perpetrate. The residents of District Twelve are good, hardworking, gods-fearing people. Hardened, and quietly-broken people, who love fiercely and protect their families. They’ve protected her. The fight will never be over in District Twelve. That is why they are condemned to that slim sliver of land.
But there is no wall at the opposite end, keeping them in. Only the ones to separate them from Districts Ten and Eleven in the circular colony. They can leave, but only to wander the mountains and never-ended forests before dying of starvation, or returning. To the ocean that is rumored to be beyond. Her mother and Saul Tigh had once wondered what was beyond the ocean. More land, they knew, but had no way to get there. Perhaps all of Twelve could leave. Perhaps they could do it, together.
They had taken her mother the next week.
(Be good, be smart, be brave, be strong.)
Birdie still dreams of the land beyond the ocean.
(Eleanor, I love you so much.)
She dreams of a lot of things.
She is Eleanor Adama: soldier, surgeon, sinner, saint. The impossible girl with the mother who didn’t age. This is the story of what has been taken from her, and the story of what she will take back.