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The Space Between Us

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The CIC was the hardest.

It was never left unmanned, and although there was this supposed alliance, Adama never let Cylons into the heart of the Galatica. It took her three days to figure out how to slip the virus in without entering the CIC. She actually had to upload from a disk.

Her Four would laugh his ass off at her, if he was here.

But she managed to do it, and managed to find a petty officer who believed she was Athena to load the new security patch into the system. And when she triggered it, there would be a supposed Cylon attack. Then she'd finally be able to leave, to get out of this place and go home.

***

The alarm went off, and Felix groaned. Beside him, Louis stretched, then reached up and smacked the offending clock hard. It didn't help, and he had to fumble for the right button. Felix watched him blearily, and then edged back as Louis nearly elbowed him in the nose.

"Good morning," Louis said, scrubbing at his face with his hands. "Sleep okay?"

"Yeah," Felix half-lied, and Louis propped his head up on his hand, draped his free arm across his waist, and eyed him skeptically. "The morpha helped," Felix admitted.

Louis sighed. "You know you shouldn't be taking that stuff," he said, but without any passion. Felix nodded absently, and Louis slid his hand over to entwine with Felix's fingers. "Maybe when you get back it will be better."

"Back?" Felix asked, quirking his eyebrows up. "Where am I going?"

"I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I saw Tigh's schedule for the next week, and you're not on it. I'm guessing they're sending you over to another ship for some R&R."

"Right," Felix scoffed. "Because Adama would do that right now."

Louis gave him a slightly admonishing look. "Tigh's noticed you need it. So has Helo."

Felix shook his head. "Are you on the duty roster?" Louis nodded. "Double shifts, right?"

Louis shrugged. "Well, what else am I going to do with you gone?" he asked, squeezing Felix's hand.

"You have friends."

Something indefinable passed over Louis's face and Felix regretted his words, reminding himself firmly that he wasn't the only one who was still reeling from Dee's death. But Louis just squeezed Felix's hand again. "I'll be fine working."

Felix forced a smile. "Just so long as you're not chatting up Stroud down on the hangar deck." He winced it as soon as he said it. Before he'd lost his leg, it would have come off as sarcastic and confident. Now it just sounded whiny. He started to draw away, but Louis released his hand and splayed his fingers over Felix's lower abdomen, and leaned down to kiss him softly.

"You know I wouldn't," he whispered as he pulled back, his lips still close to Felix's.

"I know," Felix answered, closing his eyes and tipping his chin so their lips met again. Their kiss was hesitant- a little too gentle and a little too unsure- but as they lingered it settled into something tender and comforting. Felix couldn't say that he felt stirred to anything else, but there was a flash of wanting to want to do something, and that was more than he'd felt since he'd been shot. "I wish we didn't have duty so soon."

"Mmm." But Louis gave him that skeptical look again, the one that meant he was seeing the exhaustion and the pain Felix didn't want him to see. Felix thrust his chin out, daring him to say anything. Finally, Louis just gave a small smile. "Yeah," he conceded. "I wish we didn't have duty so soon, myself. But we do, and I'll see you next week."

"I don't want to go," Felix muttered.

"You need it," Louis said. "If nothing else, just for the sleep."

"I'll come back to you," Felix promised.

"I'll be waiting," Louis answered.

***

"I don't know what you expect me to do without a condenser," a man was complaining.

"Well, make one," Laird- if the Eight remembered right from their brief introduction- argued, shrugging as if it was a small matter. "How difficult is a condenser, anyway?"

"One with enough cooling capacity to fit in the space of the scrubbers? Hard."

"Take the tubing benders."

"Great. Tubing benders. The solution to everything," The mechanic rolled his eyes. He glanced in her direction, and the Eight looked down, resisting the urge to tie her shoe. She didn't step away from the Raptor, that would be too obvious. Instead, she emphasized the fact she was studying it, like she was curious. She watched him from under her lowered eyelids; he'd already looked away.

Good. She flipped the panel shut.

***

"What time is it?" Shark asked Easy.

"We've got fifteen minutes until we have to make the Zephyr run," Easy said, glancing at her watch. "Want me to wake you?"

"Yeah, would you mind?" Shark asked, putting his feet up on the console. "I had CAP last night. First one flying with the Cylons."

"How was it?" Easy asked curiously.

"Fast."

"Fast?"

"As in, those frakkers fly fast." Shark yawned. "Worse than flying with Starbuck." He tipped his head back and closed his eyes.

Easy reflexively glanced down at the screen in the Raptor. As she did, the screen went blank. "What the…?"

Shark opened one eye. "Something wrong?"

Easy smacked the screen, and the display flickered back to life. "Frak. No, just… we've got to get Laird to take a look at this thing."

"Not sure he can do much. Anyway, it's back on."

"Well, good."

Shark yawned. "Thirteen minutes is enough time for a nap, right?"

***

She was a sister, a pilot who had served the Cylons well, both when they were united and in this stupid civil war. This war that ripped them down the center, breaking bonds that shouldn't be broken over matters that might well be words and phrases in the end. The Eight wanted to glare at her as she approached, but she would notice.

"Going back to the baseship?" she asked.

"Going to the Zephyr," her sister replied. She didn't say why, and when the Eight tried to connect, tried to reach up into the data stream and into her sister's mind, she found that it was closed. The Zephyr was a peculiar place for a Cylon to go, but it didn't matter.

The two pilots then. The mechanic. An Eight loyal to the others. And Felix Gaeta, the entire reason she'd chosen this Raptor when she'd overheard Tigh and Agathon discussing his leave. The man who'd sworn loyalty - not only to making the Cylon dream work but to her - and then had turned around and sold them all out. The man who was largely responsible for the humans escaping them. The man who'd screwed them all over.

She took a deep breath, put on her sweetest smile, and walked toward the Raptor.

***

The Raptor came out of the emergency jump, lurching to stillness again. The DRADIS screen was blank, the space around them was empty.

"Where's the Fleet?" the Raptor pilot asked.

The Eight turned her face to the wall and smiled.

***

Shark finished his calculations and sighed. "Enough food and water for two weeks if we're not fussy about waste recycling. So, our limiting factor is air. Twenty hours left." Felix's stomach twisted. "Every breath counts now, folks. We've got to limit exertion - sleep as much as we can."

"Twenty hours," Easy repeated. "Oh my gods!"

Felix turned back to the ECO console, trying not to think about it. Twenty hours. Adama had twenty hours to find them or they'd all be… gods, he didn't even want to think about it. The image of Louis smiling at him flitted through his mind and he pushed it away firmly. Now wasn't the time to think about what might have been and mourn, now was the time to plan and get them back. Twenty hours was enough time to do this.

Someone was over his shoulder, and he looked up. One of the Eights smiled down at him, and his throat closed again. It couldn't be… there was no way….

And yet, he knew it was.

"Don't you recognize me, Felix?" she said softly.

He nodded mutely- there was no other answer he could give her. She was from a lifetime ago, from the cold and rain and fear of New Caprica, from desperate times and desperate measures. She had been a lifeline, even though he'd been just as relieved to sever the tie. He'd never expected to see her again, even after Starbuck had brought that damn baseship into the Fleet. He wasn't altogether sure he was happy to see her, either, because New Caprica was meant to be over.

She put a hand on his arm. "Twenty hours isn't much," she said. "If we really did get hit and jump randomly, even the Cylons will have a hard time finding us. But there's something I can do. I can interface with the Raptor's computer and determine the corrupted memory address. I can jump us to the coordinates, and then I can send a pulse if I need to. They'll find us"

Felix frowned. "I remember, Athena did that once. Through your arm, right?"

She lit up. "Right. But the only thing is, I need your help. I can explain it to the others, but unless I have you with me, they won't believe me. They'll think I'm sabotaging the ship."

Which was a conclusion Felix could very well understand… for the most part. But he looked at the Eight and remembered all she had done for him, all that she had risked for humanity, and he nodded. "Right," he said. "We'll convince them."

***

It turned out to be remarkably easy.

Felix Gaeta would believe anything if it was presented right, the Eight knew that. The pilots and the mechanic were a little more worrisome, but they'd already reached the correct conclusion the Fleet had no idea where they were anyway. None of them wanted to die, and her supposed plan didn't cost them any of the air that was becoming so precious. The one she was really worried about was her sister Eight. But she said nothing, just nodded her agreement when the Eight explained her plan.

Although the Eight wryly noticed her sister didn't offer to do it herself. Just as well.

The insertion of the cable was painful, but as it slid up her arm she projected that she was surrounded by white marble and golden fixtures, her Four smiling at her from a red velvet chaise lounge. And it became easy.

They jumped, and she sent the pulse.

She was almost home.

***

"An hour already," Brooks said, his voice taut with nerves. "Why don't they come for us?"

"It takes a little time," Easy said defensively. "They'll come. They've got to."

"I guess." Felix rubbed at his forehead. The morpha had him light-headed, floating on a cloud where pain couldn't touch him and he couldn't pin his mind down. He thought he probably shouldn't have taken it, but this part would wear off soon enough, and then he'd be able to focus on the situation without the pain distracting him so badly. Right now, though… he pushed away from the ECO console as best he could and cradled his head in his hands.

Just a few feet away, he could feel the Eight watching him. His Eight.

He looked up and met her eyes, and she smiled at him, although her smile was tinged with concern. It occurred to him that she might not have known about his leg. A human soldier losing a limb would be low-level gossip to the Cylons. And yet, she'd come back with the baseship. She'd been there since the baseship had followed the Demetrius back to the Fleet.

"You never found me before this," he told her, his words shaky and slurred.

For a moment she looked confused, and then she shook her head. "I didn't want to disturb your life."

"It was pretty disturbed by the time you followed us to the Fleet."

"You were on the Demetrius?" she asked, and that answered the question in his mind.

"You never asked anyone about me, did you?" he said. At one time, he'd truly believed she'd cared about him, but now he realized that whatever she'd felt, it hadn't been that. It had been loneliness, desperation, like minds… but not genuine care and concern. And as if to highlight it, there was Louis. It was Louis who had come into the infirmary during stolen moments from the CIC, not her. Louis who, after two months of separation and a series of losses that Felix still could not comprehend, still took his hand, still didn't waver. As he looked at his Eight, he wondered if that was why her indifference didn't hurt, and exactly how he'd categorize what she'd been to him.

He sighed. Only he would think the word categorize high on morpha.

He saw her mouth move, and the sounds seemed to follow sometime after. "I didn't want to upset what you had built. Your life. Your stability." She looked uncomfortable. "I didn't think you'd mind."

"I didn't," he admitted honestly. "I just wondered."

"I think you need to sleep, Felix," she said softly.

"Yeah," he said, and was about to move away from the ECO station, but that was when the lights flooded the small cabin.

His heart leapt, beating madly in his ribcage, and he began to smile. "I knew it," he whispered. Brooks kissed his medallion and the pilot Eight whispered a prayer to the Cylon God.

Shark had started forward, but as he did, he froze. "Wait a minute," he said. "That's not a Raptor."

"It's not a Viper, either," Easy confirmed.

"Then what the frak is it?" Brooks demanded.

"I'm not sure I like any of the remaining options," Felix said. "But maybe it's one of your heavy raiders." He looked at his Eight. She was squinting at the light.

It was the pilot Eight who confirmed the truth. "That's not one of our heavy raiders," she said. "It's one of Cavil's."

Felix whipped his head around to study the raider, and never saw that his Eight smiled.

***

The Eight held her breath as the heavy raider forced their series of jumps, four all told. Closer than she'd thought, then. The comm unit was eerily silent, despite the fact that there were pilots in the heavy raider. She wasn't sure if that was a good sign or a bad one.

She was expecting the hive of baseships, and the swarms of Raiders. What she was not expecting was the huge, tentacled structure that awaited them.

"What the frak is that?" her sister breathed, leaning forward between the pilots' seats to get a better look.

"You don't know?" Easy asked, looking up at the pilot Eight in confusion. The Eight shook her head.

"No. I've never seen it before. But I don't understand how Cavil could have built something like this in such a short time."

"It's been over a year since New Caprica," Brooks said crossly.

The pilot Eight looked back over her shoulder at him. "And we would have known if something like this was happening," she snapped. "Something's not right here."

"What, the fact we're being captured by Cylons didn't give it away?" Brooks asked mockingly.

"Guys!" Felix broke up the fight with a sharp order. "Enough. Shark, what have we got as far as firepower?"

"On the Raptor or in it, Lieutenant?"

"In it."

"Not much," Shark said. "There's two rifles in the locker up there, and a few rounds of ammo. Easy and I have got our sidearms."

"We can't go in fighting," the pilot Eight said, but she fingered her own sidearm nervously.

"And why not?" Brooks demanded.

"Look, they aren't blowing us up right now," she pointed out. "They want us alive for some reason."

"Yeah, well then, wouldn't it be better not to give it to them? Either shoot ourselves now-"

"Suicide is a sin!"

"-Or take out a few dozen of Cavil's toasters with us? Get as many as we can get before they shoot us all?"

"Or get onto this ship and get a message back to the Galactica."

"She's right," the Eight said, stepping up next to her sister and making a note to tell Cavil. She glanced back at Felix. "If we pretend to cooperate, pretend to give them what they want… we might be able to help more, later."

He nodded, and a moron could figure out what he was thinking about, which meant even this Brooks character probably got it. And Brooks did back down, glancing at the others for orders.

A tentacle peeled away, leaving a yawning orifice behind it, and the heavy raider dragged the Raptor in. Shark gripped his gun, and Felix opened the locker. He gave one of the rifles to Brooks and one to her. "You two take them- I can't stay upright and shoot. Don't use them unless we have to," he said. "But let's see what we can get out of them, first."

She nodded, and Brooks said, "Yes, sir."

Felix sat down and began to put his prosthetic back on. The Eight noticed his movements were still clumsy and awkward, like he wasn't fully used to doing this. She also noticed that the stump was raw and dark with clotted blood. It made her sick, and she turned away.

The inside of the giant ship was not sleek and elegant like their baseships, but organic and clunky, heavy and old-fashioned. It made her itch just to look at it, and out of habit, she began to form a projection. But she reminded herself firmly that she couldn't afford that- not yet. Once she had convinced Cavil of her loyalty, once she was safely ensconced in the ranks here and accepted, then she could choose how she saw her surroundings. But for now, she had to accept the reality that was there.

The Raptor came to a stop, and the lock sealed. She wished she could lean out the front and look to see who would come, but there was no room. She braced herself.

The door hissed opened, and they faced the barrels of guns: an army of Centurions under the command of a One. The One glanced at the Raptor. "Search it," he ordered. The humans looked back at Felix with a mute plea for orders; he sighed and put his hands up in a gesture of surrender.

The search didn't last long. Felix looked at her, his face grim. She looked away. She didn't have to pretend to care anymore, and he'd know what she'd done soon enough. She supposed she should be worried, but the truth was she wasn't. Not in the least.

The Cylons that were in the heavy raider emerged, and she scanned them eagerly. She should have known he wouldn't be with them- he wasn't a pilot- but she hoped against hope anyway. There were two Fives and a Four, and they all had guns trained on them.

"What is this?" the Four asked.

"What does it look like?" the One snapped. "Four humans, two Eights, and a Raptor. Personally, I think we should just take care of them all right here, but Cavil says to bring them up."

"Well then… let's go."

***

John Cavil didn't look any different from any other One, but Felix knew him the second they saw him. It must have been the expression on his face. There was something… different… about Cavil. This Cavil. Whatever. Something aware, something malevolent. It sent chills down Felix's spine. He sat at a long white table, along with a few other Ones, Fours, and Fives as the prisoners were pushed in.

Next to him, Easy was trembling. She was sheet white but resolute, and he noticed her hand was drifting to where her sidearm would be if the Cylons hadn't disarmed them. He suddenly remembered Kara Thrace's reports on the farms on Caprica, and he stepped a little closer to her. He noticed Shark on her other side. The two men exchanged glances, and he could tell that Shark was thinking the same thing.

The pilot Eight and Brooks had gravitated toward each other. She was looking around fearfully, he was whispering a prayer. Felix sourly noticed that she didn't seem to mind so much now, but maybe she was too lost in her own fear to care.

And on his other side was his Eight.

She was calm. Far too calm. He tried to catch her eye, to let her know he had her back as best he could manage, but she didn't look at him. She was watching the Cylons that sat at the table, measuring each of them for their reactions. To him, they seemed like a wall of faces, set and angry and ready for blood.

A Four stood up from the table, and Felix watched him curiously. Instead of the conservative, professional clothing Felix was used to seeing the Fours in, he was wearing jeans and a tight black t-shirt. His attention was focused on Felix's Eight, and he looked her up and down, calculating and analyzing, exploring implications.

And then his eyes lit up.

He stepped forward more confidently now. The Eight gave a strangled cry and stumbled forward, and they embraced. His head bent protectively over hers, and Felix could hear her crying.

"I'm sorry," she was saying. "I'm sorry. You were right and I was wrong… I'm sorry."

"It's all right," the Four said, kissing her hair. "You're home." The others from his model line looked on. Some looked appalled, but some looked touched. All Felix could do was stare, even as his gut told him this was bad… this was very, very bad.

"Well, this is all very romantic and poignant, but if you don't mind me asking, what the frak is going on here?" Cavil demanded.

The Eight and the Four broke apart. They both looked radiant, and the Eight moved with new confidence as she took a step towards Cavil.

"You were right," she said, gesturing to the assembled Ones, Fours, and Fives, "About everything. About the Raiders and the Centurions, about the Final Five, about our place in the universe, about everything. I see that now, see the error in our logic. I see our mistakes. The way our race has been divided over petty philosophical distinctions-"

"Petty?" the pilot Eight demanded, but she shut up as soon as Cavil glanced her direction.

The Eight looked at her sister for a moment, contempt clear on her face. "Petty philosophical distinctions," she repeated, driving each word in like bullets. "It's deplorable. We should have… I should have seen that earlier. We should have predicted the consequence."

"So, you're saying that now that you know we beat you, you want to say you're sorry rather than face extinction? Forgive me if that doesn't inspire a great deal of faith in you," Cavil snapped.

"No," the Eight agreed hastily. "It wouldn't. It shouldn't. That's why I brought you a token of my faith." She gestured to the rest of the Raptor crew. "I couldn't bring any of the Five, but you know that four of them are in the Fleet. Adama," she spat the name, "loves his people. He'd consider trading."

"For what?" Cavil looked over the prisoners. "Two low-level pilots, a mechanic he's probably never spoken to, a twisted, half-…" Cavil's voice trailed off as he came to Felix, and then the light of recognition lit in his eyes. Felix steeled himself, gripping his crutches more tightly and raising his chin defiantly. "You," he said, and he began to laugh. "You." He turned back to the Eight. "You might have done something right after all."

"He's the reason the humans escaped New Caprica," the Eight said, her voice suddenly hard and bitter. Felix snapped his head around to face her. "He swore his loyalty and betrayed us for months, giving the Resistance information and releasing prisoners from detention."

Felix's mouth gaped open. "You… you were helping me!" he protested.

The Eight stared at him for a long moment, and then sighed in exasperation. "Do you really still think that, Felix? Look around you and see where you're standing, and how you got there. Think back to all those names on your lists- how many of them arrived on your Fleet? Think about all that, and ask yourself how you can believe that I ever meant to help you!"

Felix's stomach dropped out of his body, and his mouth went dry as red crept into his vision. They were all looking at him, humans and Cylons alike, but he was barely aware of it. "What are you…" he began, and then got himself under control. "No. You can't mean… you couldn't have…."

"I did," she snapped. "But it doesn't matter."

"No," Cavil agreed. "It doesn't." A gun went off, the sound echoing through the baseship. The Eight cried out, falling back into the Four's arms, her blood splattered on his shirt and face in tiny red pinpricks.

"No!" The Four eased the Eight to the ground while Cavil stood over them with his arms crossed, glaring down at them for wasting his time. She was gasping for air, tortured gargles that made it sound like she was choking on her own blood. The Four cradled her close, whispering to her. Felix could catch snatches in the echoing stunned silence… Forgive me… this never should have… don't leave me, not now… I love you, and I always will.

The strangled gasps stopped.

For two seconds, the silence only intensified, and then the Four began to cry. Felix looked away. It sickened him that the sight of grief from a Cylon could still affect him, but it did.

"Well." Cavil's voice jerked Felix's head back around. "Now that that's taken care of, let's resolve the rest of this mess, shall we?" He looked at the humans, tapping his gun against his palm.

They had no weapons. There was no stand they could take, no defense they could offer. Yet again, the feeling of being completely powerless swept over Felix, and all he could do was glare at Cavil defiantly. He pulled himself as straight as he could, even if the weight on where stump met prosthetic hurt like hell. If he had to die, this is how he would do it- proud and refusing to beg.

Cavil smirked, but didn't raise his gun.

He turned to the pilot Eight. "Are you going to tell us you're in on this, too?" She shook her head mutely, hate radiating from her eyes and her stance.

"Well?" Cavil demanded of a Five who was standing next to the Centurions. "What are you waiting for? Kill them."

"We think that it might not be the best idea to shoot them," the Five said. "The Eight might have been right about the bargaining power."

"We concur," a Four put in. "Especially the women. With the Hub destroyed, finding a way for Cylons to reproduce is the only way that we can ensure that we will survive. And frankly, we need research subjects."

Easy turned white, and she began to shake.

"That's a point," Cavil conceded. A One standing next to him nodded agreement. "Take the women, then," he said to a Four.

"NO!" Easy fumbled at her side, but her gun had been taken. Felix tried to step forward, but two Centurions moved to block him and he was forced to stop. One of the Fives grabbed Easy, and she screamed, kicking desperately.

It happened fast- so fast that no one could stop it. Shark lunged at Cavil, pushing him to the side as he grabbed the gun. He spun, took aim, and shot Easy right between the eyes.

Another blast went off in fast sequence, and Shark slumped to the floor himself. A Five held a gun, barrel smoking.

"That's enough!" Cavil glared around, sighing with exasperation. He wiped flecks of blood from his face irritably, and nudged the corpses with his toe. " Is this a shooting gallery? Can we just finish this up? Take the two humans to cells and the Eight-"

"You don't have to experiment on me," the Eight interrupted, all of the color drained from her face.

"Excuse me?" Cavil demanded, arching his eyebrows. "I hardly think that you're in a position-"

"You don't have to experiment on me," she repeated. "I'm already pregnant."

"Now that's the most ridiculous piece of bullshit I've heard today, and given what we've all just heard in the past five minutes, that's saying something."

Even Felix didn't believe her, but the pilot Eight clung to her story. "It's true," she insisted. "The doctor on Galactica just confirmed it a few hours ago."

"Well, we'll find out if that's true soon enough, won't we?" Cavil asked. He gestured to a Four, and he stepped forward and took the Eight by the arm. "See if she's telling the truth. As for these two…" he turned back to where Felix and Brooks were still standing, Brooks staring in horror at the corpses on the floor, "get them out of my sight."

A Five grabbed Felix by the arm. "Come on, Gaeta," he said, and Felix assumed that this Five had known him specifically on New Caprica. It was impossible to be sure, though.

They passed his Eight's body as they left the room, and her Four was still kneeling beside her, still crying.

Chapter Text

The Galactica had never seemed less welcoming than it did right now. The Raptor's engines faded down to silence, and the vibrations eased. Racetrack flipped a few switches, and then sighed heavily.

"I'm sorry," she said, when the silence must have become too overwhelming for her. "I'm really sorry, Hoshi."

Louis swallowed hard and then took off his helmet, wiping frantically at his eyes. "Thank you," he said. He took one deep breath, and then another.

"Do you want me to handle the report to Adama?" she asked.

Yes. "No," he said. "I'd better do it. They let me go, so I should at least…" his voice broke and he swallowed again. "I should tell them."

"All right then," Racetrack said. "But I'm going with you."

Louis nodded, and they both left the Raptor.

As it happened, they didn't have to go far. Louis had just jumped down out of the craft when he looked up to see Tigh and Adama coming down the stairs to the deck below. He stood straighter as they approached, and snapped off a salute.

"What's the status, Lieutenants?" Tigh asked, looking directly at Louis. There was sympathy on his face, and Louis realized he already knew.

"We failed in our mission to find Raptor 718, sir," Louis said around the lump in his throat. "I'm sorry."

Tigh stood still. It was the Admiral that nodded and said, "All right. Report to Lieutenant Burrell before your next shift, she'll help you arrange the funerals."

"Sir? Do you need a debriefing?" Louis managed to ask.

Admiral Adama's expression was strange. It wasn't quite sympathy, but his features arranged themselves into an expression that looked like it would have been sympathetic, if the Admiral could feel anything. "I'll get it from Racetrack," he said. "You're dismissed, Lieutenant Hoshi."

Louis nodded and saluted. As he walked past, Tigh reached out and gripped his shoulder. "I'm sorry for your loss, Lieutenant," he said quietly.

"Thank you, sir."

The corridors were crowded with people. People on their way to the mess hall, to the deck, to their racks and to the rec room. People with laundry, people with reports, Marines doing drills and pilots running their laps. People laughing, arguing, muttering, talking… life going on, despite the fact that Raptor 718 was lost. Louis watched them all as if he was the ghost that Felix now was, standing stock still as a solitary island in a river of life.

"Lieutenant Hoshi!" Fingers snapped in front of his face. Louis blinked and turned his head slowly, confronting Gage. "Sorry, sir, but you weren't answering. Do you have the manual for the tactical station? Adama told me to take a look at it."

Louis stared at him for a long moment, and then nodded. "Yeah. It's in my rack. Come on."

Gage fell into step beside him. Intellectually, Louis knew it would make sense to tell him about Felix's death- he was sure Adama had been anticipating the mission's failure and that was why he'd instructed Gage to study the manual- but he couldn't make himself form the words. Besides, he hadn't liked Gage since he first met the man, and the feeling was generally mutual.

Gage was oblivious. "Frakking skinjobs," he said as they passed a group of Cylons. "Did you hear Adama wants to upgrade the FTL drives with toaster tech? Worst idea I ever heard. I don't trust that shit. The baseships actually regenerate. That's just… it's wrong. Adama's out of his mind."

"Mmhmm."

Encouraged by the fact that a lieutenant hadn't called him out about speaking disrespectfully about a superior officer, Gage barreled on. "He's been drinking like a fish since Earth, too. He thinks no one knows, but everyone's talking about it. Have you seen him? Gods, Admiral Cain would never let that happen."

"Yeah."

"And he's still got Tigh on as an XO, even though the shithead's a toaster. Frak! What's the world coming to, Hoshi?"

"Lieutenant."

"Right. Lieutenant. When we've got frakking machines telling us what to do… the world is frakked up."

"Yeah."

Gage stopped, and looked up at him with narrowed eyes. "You aren't taking Adama's side, are you? Wanting that toaster shit, this godsdamned alliance?"

With no small relief, Louis opened the door to the officer's racks and the binder out of his locker. "Here," he said, thrusting it at Gage. "Go."

"Hoshi, you aren't-"

"I told you, it's Lieutenant. And right now, I'm not on anyone's side, okay? Gaeta's dead, Gage," Louis heard himself saying. "Leave me alone."

"Wait. Gaeta's dead? How?"

"I said, leave me alone. That's an order, Specialist."

Gage nodded tightly, saluted, and left. Louis sighed with relief, especially as the hatch slammed and the racks were quiet.

His own rack was one of the top ones, although he'd been sleeping in Felix's so much that his own was more a storage unit than a place to live. He slid into Felix's rack, closed the privacy curtain, and lay down.

Felix was dead.

It washed over him in waves, hitting him over and over as he repeated the words in his mind. When it became too much, he reached out and fumbled for the pillow, closing his eyes. His body shook as he held the pillow tight.

***

Specialist Brooks' funeral had been heavy on the gods and religion, with statues and incense, hymns and verses from the Scrolls. Lieutenant Gaeta's funeral looked to be the exact opposite. Saul led Caprica to a seat in the second row.

"I shouldn't be here," she whispered to him.

"It's fine."

"No. The front is where those closest to the deceased should sit. I know that, Saul."

She was right. But although a lot of the back seats were occupied, only Hoshi was sitting quietly in the front row, head bowed, fingering a set of prayer beads. Saul glanced pointedly at the empty chairs, and Caprica sighed her capitulation. They both slid into the second row.

The door opened, and Bill entered, Roslin leaning on his arm. Saul stood, but Bill just shook his head and slipped into the seat beside him. "Doesn't look like it's a very big turnout."

"People are tired of funerals," Saul grumbled. He glanced at Roslin, who was watching Hoshi with that same strange expression Bill had worn when Hoshi got off the Raptor. "And a lot of Gaeta's friends are dead."

Bill winced.

The door opened again, and Narcho, Racetrack, and Skulls entered, all in their dress grays. There was a quiet discussion, and then they entered the second row from the far side. Saul noticed that Narcho left several seats in between himself and Caprica.

"I always forget," Saul heard Skulls whisper, "is it Louis or Lucas?"

"Louis, I think," Narcho whispered back. His face screwed up in concentration. "I'm almost positive."

Saul leaned over Caprica. "It's Louis," he confirmed. Narcho stiffened, not looking at Saul as he nodded acknowledgement.

Bill looked over his shoulder, and then nudged Saul. When Saul turned around fully to see what had captured Bill's attention, he snorted. Of all people, Gaius Baltar was sitting in the back row. Gaeta would be spinning in his grave. Or his Raptor, as it was.

He turned back around, bowing his own head. Gaeta wasn't what Saul would call a friend, but he was part of the CIC family, and although they'd never gotten along, there had been a time he'd actually rather liked the kid. But New Caprica had destroyed so much, and-

"What is he doing here?" Roslin's hiss broke Saul out of his ruminations. He looked up to see Tom Zarek taking a place in the front row, two seats away from Hoshi. Hoshi didn't look up, but his shoulders tightened.

"It's a funeral," Saul muttered back. "Can't exactly keep him away."

Zarek heard them- Saul could tell by the way he was sitting- but he didn't turn around. Saul exhaled slowly, relieved as the brother came forward and started the service.

The brother served more as the glue to hold the ceremony together than a spiritual leader. That didn't surprise Saul. What surprised him was that it was Zarek, not Hoshi, who stood up to deliver the eulogy. He stepped to the stand with the confidence of a seasoned politician, but his hands shook as he gripped the edges of the podium.

"Felix asked me, if this day ever came, to keep this short," Zarek said, managing a grin. "He wasn't one for sentimentality, or for ceremony. I'll do my best, not only to honor his wishes, but because this is one funeral I did not want to see.

"I met Felix Gaeta when he joined Baltar's staff on New Caprica." There was a quiet murmur, and Zarek shifted into a slightly more confident stance. "I realize that many of those words bring back terrible memories for most of you, but when taken together, they signify the beginning of a friendship that I have treasured very much. I didn't expect to; Felix was not exactly my usual type, as our Madame President once said," he said, nearly winking at Roslin. She kept her face stony, leaning against Bill. "But I've always respected idealism and vision, and Felix had both in spades."

He continued a little longer in the same vein. Next to Saul, Bill shifted impatiently. "Man always was in love with the sound of his own voice," he whispered to Saul.

"Good thing Gaeta asked him to keep it short," Saul agreed. He glanced down at his watch. Zarek hadn't been talking that long… it just felt like it. Caprica discreetly wiped a tear from her eye before it fell, and Saul wished he could be moved. But as he listened to Zarek, he felt nothing.

"We are standing here at the end of the world," Zarek said, finally reaching his conclusion, "none of us knowing what possible future we may have. We've lost everything; we've lost our homes, we've lost our lives, we've lost all that we love. We've all lost survivors, and we all find fresh grief every day. And we've lost Earth. We've lost our direction, our goals. We've lost our hope.

"I don't know if I believe in an afterlife, and I know that Felix did not. But wherever his soul is now, I can only hope that the solace that eluded him in life finds him in death. So say we all."

"So say we all."

Zarek sat down, head high and looking like the image of a politician. But when Hoshi took the podium and read a Kataris poem in a breaking voice, Saul noticed that Zarek buried his face in his hands. His grief, it seemed, was actually real.

The service ended a half-hour after it began, and the mourners filed out quickly. Bill glanced at Saul, eyebrows raised as Baltar made his way to the front to pay his respects, and Caprica drew an audible breath. Neither Hoshi nor Zarek acknowledged Baltar, who stood with his head bowed for a moment and then slunk away. Interestingly, Hoshi and Zarek only fleetingly acknowledged each other with a brief handshake and a hug that was more just hands on shoulders and a foot of space between them. Bill headed over to Hoshi, blatantly ignoring Zarek.

Hoshi was standing stiffly when they approached. His face was schooled into a very professional, almost blank expression, even as the Admiral and then the President shook his hand and offered condolences. Saul wasn't sure what to say to a man he didn't know well and who obviously wanted to keep his grief private. He glanced over at Caprica, and she looked even more uncomfortable.

"I'm sorry for your loss, Lieutenant," Saul said, shaking Hoshi's hand.

"Thank you, sir."

It was a stock line, formal and impersonal, and it brought no comfort to either of them. In fact, Saul had said the exact same words earlier, when Hoshi had returned from his search. Saul fumbled for something more to say.

"He was a good man," Caprica put in.

Hoshi started, and stared at her for a long moment. She paled, realizing she'd spoken out of turn, and drew a little closer to Saul. But finally Hoshi just said, "He was. Thank you."

"Right. Take some time, if you need it, Lieutenant," Saul heard himself saying. "I can get Helo and Gage to cover communications for a few days."

Hoshi shook his head. "I'll be back on duty as scheduled, sir." He tipped his chin up defiantly. "It's best if I keep busy."

Saul grunted approval. "Very well. 0500 hours tomorrow."

"Yes, sir."

Bill was listening; Saul saw the spark of acknowledgment in his eyes. But there was nothing more to say, and he became aware that Lieutenant Thornton and Petty Officer Sian were standing behind him, respectfully waiting to speak to Hoshi. He nodded one more time to the grieving lieutenant and then followed Bill and Laura out of the room.

As they left, he noticed Narcho, Racetrack, and Skulls were talking to Zarek. Saul shook his head and continued on.

***

The picture they'd chosen was of both of them, because they figured if one of them died, the survivor might not have anyone close enough to remember to pin his picture up. It was a good picture- they were laughing at the camera, Louis's arms wrapped around Felix's shoulders from behind, the two of them cheek to cheek. Both of them smiling and happy… and whole.

Louis hated the Memorial Hallway, with all the faces looking back at him, the overwhelming reminder of loss. But it was a Galactica tradition, and Felix had been as firm on this as he had been on a simple ceremony. So Louis found the picture of Dee and pinned Felix's picture right next to it, and then stepped back. As he did, he bumped into someone. "I'm sorry," he began, turning around, and then froze.

The man he'd bumped into was a Cylon.

It was one of the Twos. Unlike most of the Twos, who were clean shaven, this one wore a goatee. His hair was slicked back, and he wore a plain button-down shirt which looked remarkably sedate for a Two. He had a gentler face than most of his brethren, but right now he looked stricken and sad.

"I'm sorry," Louis stammered again.

The Two looked at the picture that Louis had just hung. "I know who he is," he realized. "That's Felix Gaeta."

"Yes."

"He was lost on the Raptor 718 as well."

"As well?" Louis asked.

The Two turned and pointed, and Louis looked at the picture and did a double take. The picture was posed almost identically to the one of him and Felix, with the Two embracing an Eight. "Oh," he said softly.

"She was a pilot," the Two said. "She came over to Galactica for a briefing, and then she just… she never came home." He looked at the picture of Felix again. "Was he your…?"

"Partner," Louis supplied. "Lover. Boyfriend. Whatever… yes. We were together eleven months. Was she your…?"

"My wife," the Two said solemnly.

"Wife? I didn't think that Cylons married," Louis said with surprise.

The Two looked at the picture. "We watched the humans, and we thought it might help. That if love was what was needed for procreation, making a formal commitment might convince God that we truly…" he shook his head. "I suppose it doesn't matter any more… but nothing ever mattered to me more."

Louis looked at the picture he'd just pinned up. "I know."

"Is this grief?" the Two asked. "This empty, burning hole inside you when someone you loved so much is gone?"

"Yes," Louis said, his own throat closing.

"How do you bear it?"

Louis shrugged. "You just do. It's what you have to do."

"How long does it last?"

"Forever," Louis said, and then relented. "Although it gets easier with time."

The Two looked around the Memorial Hallway, at all the faces. "And this is what we brought to you," he said. "This pain, this grief…" He shook his head and looked directly at Louis. "I'm sorry."

For a long moment Louis couldn't speak. What could he say? That's okay, it's not a big deal? Hey, no harm done? Even You're forgiven? He thought of all the people he had lost before this- family, friends… everyone he'd ever known who hadn't been on the Pegasus… and there was no way I'm sorry could begin to make up for it.

And yet, it was more than any other Cylon had ever said.

Louis looked around at the eyes, the faces from the past watching him. He had to get out of here. He looked at the Two, a face from the future that was apparently being built, and he sighed. "Do you want to go get a drink?" he heard himself asking. "I could use one."

The Two gave a weak smile. "I could, too." He extended his hand. "My name is Jesse, by the way. Jesse Conoy."

Louis clasped his hand tightly. "Louis Hoshi. Come on," he said, gesturing for Jesse to follow him from the Memorial Hallway, "there are better ways to remember the people we loved."

***

Joe's was nearly deserted, but they sat at a corner table anyway, out of the line of sight of anyone who might come in. Joe himself hadn't looked happy about serving a Cylon, but he'd handed over the bottle without comment, just a wry expression. They'd had a good two or three drinks before either of them said anything, just eyeing each other speculatively, each trying to get a measure of the other man in silence. That silence had ended after Louis had poured them both their third shot, almost an hour ago.

They both bolted down their sixth whiskey, and Jesse laughed. "There was this one time," he told Louis, "that… oh God, it was on New Caprica. And she… she was shuttling back and forth between the baseship and the colony. And Sarah, she had to shuttle Cavil."

"A One?" Louis asked.

"No. Well, yes. But Cavil. He's sort of the… well, not sort of. He is the leader of the Ones."

"So the model lines have leaders."

"Not really." Jesse looked down at the table. "I mean, not as a default. The Twos don't, the Fours don't and the Eights certainly don't. The Sixes sort of did, the Ones do… the Threes most definitely did. And the Fives are kind of in between. It depends." Louis nodded like he understood. "Anyway," Jesse continued, "she was shuttling a One down to the colony after he'd downloaded. She was frustrated with the way all of the Ones spoke to her, and so she manipulated the data stream so that the only language he could interface with the ships was to use the language that the Raiders run on." Jesse laughed, and then caught Louis's expression of bewilderment. "The Ones always considered the Raider's language crude and… insulting, I guess, to have to use it."

Louis still didn't understand the implications fully, but he did understand that it was meant to be a funny story, so he smiled. Jesse's expression was far away, like he could see her behind his eyes, and a wistful smile was on his face.

"I've heard about projection," Louis began tentatively.

Jesse snapped out of his reverie, his eyes hardening. "No," he snapped.

"I'm sorry," Louis began. "I-"

Jesse shook his head. "No," he said, holding up his hand. "I apologize for snapping. You couldn't understand. When we project… we choose to see our environment a certain way. It feels real. I once believed it was real. But now… I know it's not. And when I end that projection and she goes away, it only sharpens the grief. We gave you the Hub so we could accept mortality. It's not a decision we made lightly, and projecting her again cheapens that."

"I see." Louis looked down at his glass. Although he saw Jesse's point, he wished he could project, just long enough to say all those things he wanted to say to Felix. I wish we'd had a better chance than this. I already miss you so much I can't breathe. I love you, and I wish I'd said that sooner. But then, it wasn't really Felix that would hear them, either. He forced the idea from his mind, pouring them each one more shot.

"To Felix and Sarah," he said, holding up his glass.

Jesse looked at him for a long moment, and then mimicked the gesture. "To Felix and Sarah," he agreed, and they both drank.

Much, much later, Louis realized that was probably the first time a human had ever deliberately included a Cylon in a toast.

***

Despite the fact that he was a grown man, a former Commander of a battlestar and a Major, the Caprican Representative to the Quorum of Twelve, and had been married, mostly divorced and technically widowed, Lee Adama still felt like a child when he was summoned to his father's study. The Admiral's study, he corrected himself firmly. He adjusted his tie and opened the hatch, walking in like the government official that he was.

Laura Roslin was sitting on the couch, sipping coffee and reading a book.

She looked at Lee and gave him a brief smile of acknowledgment, and then looked back down at her book. "Madam President," Lee said, automatically standing to attention.

Roslin raised an eyebrow. "Representative Adama," she said, smiling like it was a private joke between them rather than his actual title.

"You look good," Lee said. She did. She was wearing Galactica sweats and a scarf around her head, and there was a flushed glow in her cheeks and an air of serenity about her. Roslin's smile deepened, but not in pleasure. She turned her attention back to her book. "The Quorum has been asking after you," Lee said, a hint of firmness in his voice.

"Mmm." She turned a page deliberately.

"Zarek, specifically. He's been quite… concerned."

"I'm sure he has." There was a tinge of steel there now.

"He's been making noise about assuming the Presidency."

Roslin sighed irritably and set her book down, looking at Lee over the rim of her glasses. "When, in the past four years, has Tom Zarek not been talking about assuming the Presidency?" she asked Lee. "If he wasn't clamoring for it, I'd be more concerned."

"He's pushing for a vote of no confidence, and he'll probably get it."

"No, he won't." Lee turned to face the Admiral, and Roslin fled back to her book. The Admiral moved to his desk, a cursory glance at the papers on top. "The last time the Presidency was open, the Quorum wouldn't confirm him."

"This time they will," Lee said. He faced his father, leaning forward as he took the seat that was offered, across the desk. "I've been trying to sell the Quorum on the idea of upgrading the ships' FTL drives for two days now, and it's not going well. They have… concerns."

"Concerns," Adama said flatly.

Lee glared at him. "The thing is, these concerns are valid. How much do you understand the Cylon technology? How much does any human understand it?"

"After seeing what the Cylons can do to our technology, who's doubting their capabilities?"

"It's not the technical superiority," Lee explained. "It's how can we be sure that they're doing what they say they're doing to our ships? That the Ones, Fours, and Fives can't access the upgrades? That they aren't making any other… improvements?"

"We're going to have to trust them."

"And you don't understand why this is a problem?" Lee asked, his frustration rising. "The Cylons destroyed everything- everything- less than four years ago, and you're asking the Fleet to roll over and trust them, based solely on Tigh's say-so."

"I'm not the one who brokered the alliance in the first place," his father reminded him.

"An alliance to find Earth," Lee said. "There's a difference between trying to find Earth together and having Cylons do gods only know what to our ships. You're asking too much."

"I'm not asking," Adama said. "I'm ordering."

Lee sighed. "Then declare martial law."

"No." Roslin said it from the couch, even as Adama's brows furrowed downward in anger. "This is a single decision that falls into the military's jurisdiction."

"Including the appointment of a Cylon representative to the Quorum of Twelve?" Lee demanded. "Look," he rushed on before either of them could argue, "I'm not trying to argue against this alliance. It makes me sick that we have to do it this way, but it is the only way. But I've seen both sides of this. I've been in the military and I've been on the civilian side, and I get why they're scared. And they're scared enough of this idea that they will confirm Tom Zarek as President."

He watched both of their faces carefully. The truth was, Lee didn't think Zarek would make a terrible President, but if anything would rouse his father and Roslin out of these trances they'd been in since Earth, it would be that threat. And there was a flicker there- he saw it in the way Roslin's shoulder's tensed and the way his father reached for his papers again. But he was afraid it wasn't enough.

"Make it work," the Admiral ordered him.

"Give me something to work with," Lee pleaded. "Talk to the Quorum, let them meet one of the Cylon candidates for the representative, give us Presidential endorsement of the alliance, release the name of the Fifth… give me something. You were willing to work with Natalie, and Tory's worked closely with you for two years. Maybe something with you and her-"

Roslin sighed. "It wouldn't do any good, Lee. We're past public gestures."

"Fine," Lee said stiffly, giving up for now and rising to his feet. "I'll see you later,"

It was pretty much impossible to slam the heavy hatch to the Admiral's study. But he was positive that his father knew he wanted to slam it as hard as he could.

***

"What do you think?" Lee asked Zarek anxiously after the Quorum and their guest made their way out of the Presidential office. The Six had had platinum hair, an intelligent expression, and was dressed more conservatively than others of her line. She wasn't quite the speaker that Natalie had been, but she was close, and her arguments had been well-chosen and well-constructed. Not that any of it mattered.

"Enough," Zarek told Lee. "That's enough."

"You need to give it a chance," Lee insisted. "Did you even listen to what she had to say?"

"I listened," Zarek said, "but no matter what she says, it doesn't change the fact that she- and all of her brethren on that damned ship- voted to exterminate the human race four years ago. Forcing this alliance will not change that."

"We have to look past it."

"Well, you'd better start explaining to me how. Because let me tell you something, Lee. I'm not the only one not understanding this. The entire frakking Fleet doesn't understand it. If you put Cylons in boarding parties on other ships, I guarantee you that there will be bloodshed."

"Is that a threat?" Lee demanded.

Zarek stared him down. "No," he said. "It's a promise."

***

The DRADIS screen was blank. Louis stared at it for two more seconds, then swung in the chair and entered a code on the keyboard. The ship's pressure readouts danced before his eyes, nothing standing out. The phone buzzed, and he picked it up and fielded the call to the Colonel. A half a second for a sip of coffee and then Private Jaffee was at his elbow with a form and the phone rang again with a message from Deck Chief Laird.

"Hoshi," Gage called from across the CIC.

"Lieutenant Hoshi," Louis heard someone correct him. He shot a harried smile at the protocol expert and then went over to the communications console.

"What is it, Specialist?" he asked, deliberately stressing Gage's rank. Gage glared at him, and Hoshi suspected Gage was deliberately "forgetting" to address him properly.

"I'm stuck between frequencies again," Gage complained.

Louis sighed, and then adjusted one of the dials. Gage shook his head. Louis held out a hand, took the surrendered headphones, and then began working. When every known protocol failed, he sighed again. He checked to make sure neither Tigh nor Adama were looking, and then when he was satisfied they were not, he smacked the side of the console as hard as he could.

The static resolved into the chaos of voices that he was used to. He took the headphones off and handed them back to Gage. "You see what I did?" he asked. Gage nodded, a smirk on his face. "Don't forget it," Louis said, and then darted back down to the tactical station because a red light was flashing, and red lights were never good.

"Sir," Petty Officer Sian told him, "The Astral Queen isn't responding to our hails."

"I'm getting the same response from the Outlander," another voice put in.

Louis looked over at Adama, and Adama gestured with his head. Go fix it. But somehow, he didn't think the problem was technological.

"The frequency is open and operational, sir," he said, looking down at Adama. "But the ships simply are not acknowledging our contact."

"How many?" Adama demanded, looking at Gage. Gage began running through the frequencies, but not quickly enough. Adama sighed and looked over at Louis again, and Louis caught the unspoken message and darted back up to the Communications console.

"Twelve ships are refusing to respond to our hails," he said. "Transmitting the list." His fingers flew over the keyboard, and then he sprinted back down the steps to the tactical station.

"Ten ships refusing a direct order from the flagship," Colonel Tigh growled. "And twelve more that won't respond to our hails."

"Sir," Gage broke in again. "I've got an emergency hail from the Marines aboard the Hitei Khan. The crew is mutinying, sir. And they've killed a Cylon and two Marines."

"Scramble the mardet alert team and assault Raptor," Adama ordered.

"They're spooling up, sir," Louis reported. "Dropping out of formation."

"Frak," Tigh growled. "They aren't…"

Adama was on the line, but there was response. "Sir?" Gage interrupted. "They're communicating with Colonial One."

"Let's hear it," Adama ordered, and Louis stopped what he was doing as the transmission played through the CIC.

"The DRADIS shows a Raptor and Vipers heading straight for us! They'll be here any minute!" the captain was saying frantically.

"They have no right to board your ship without permission." It was Zarek's voice, calming and smooth, and yet so inflammatory at the same time.

"What should we do Mr. Vice President?"

"Every citizen has the right to protect themselves from oppression," Zarek answered. "Take whatever measures you think necessary."

Louis spun again to face the DRADIS. "They've jumped, sir," he informed Adama. Adama slammed the phone down in a burst of frustration and rage. He barked out orders and Louis responded automatically, not really hearing them.

The fuel ship was gone, over the alliance with the Cylons. He grit his teeth and cursed Zarek, although he found that there was a part of him that couldn't curse the bastard too much. As Felix would have pointed out, there was some merit in what the man said.

A hail came in from Athena that Zarek had been taken into custody with no resistance. Louis relayed the message, and then sat with his eyes closed for a long minute. No matter what Zarek had done, no matter what good could come of the alliance, arresting the Vice President was not going to be looked on favorably.

A blue light blinked, and with a sigh, Louis turned back to the station to face the next crisis that demanded attention.

***

Bill and Saul walked through the corridors, down to the brig. "We'll get the ship back," Saul said.

"I know that," Bill agreed.

It was odd, but Saul was almost grateful. Bill was walking with more purpose, and he wasn't gravitating towards the bottle as much. He needed something- anything- to focus on rather than dwelling on the disaster that was Earth, and Tom Zarek was filling that role nicely. "What are you going to do?" Saul asked.

"I have a few ideas," Bill said. "Things I think Zarek will respond to." He brandished a heavy folder. Saul raised his eyebrows, but Bill didn't elaborate. "It will take some time, but we'll get the coordinates of the ship out of him."

"Think he'll give them up willingly?"

"I think he'll give them up." They stopped at the brig. "I'll handle this one alone," Bill said.

Saul saluted. "Yes, sir," he said. And as Bill squared his shoulders and entered the brig to face Zarek, Saul couldn't help his smile.

***

Lee had been aboard the Cylon baseship twice before this, but it still disturbed him deeply to step on. The atmosphere was so serene that for a moment it was difficult to imagine that this was the environment where the near-extinction of humanity had been plotted. He angrily pushed the thought from his mind and followed a Centurion through the halls.

Sonja was in the… well, control room, he supposed, for lack of a better word. She smiled at him and extended her hand.

"Representative Adama," she said graciously. "What can I do for you?"

"I'd like to talk to Tory Foster," Lee said.

"Tory? Of course," Sonja looked a little troubled at that. "Let me see if she'll speak to you. Wait here."

"Thank you." He stood in the middle of the control room, looking around. An Eight had her hand in the water of the main… console? He supposed that was the nearest term he could get. Her eyes were closed and she looked as if she was praying as she worked.

To Lee's relief, he soon heard two sets of high heels, and Sonja returned with Tory in tow. Tory's eyes were cold as she looked at Lee, and he reminded himself again to tread very cautiously with this woman.

"What do you want, Lee?" she asked, without any precursor.

Tory had always been blunt. Lee decided to be blunt right back. "I need your help," he said. "The Fleet is not accepting the alliance well."

"Does that surprise you?" Tory asked.

"Not particularly, no," Lee agreed. "But a public gesture between human and Cylon would be beneficial."

"What, like a big, public 'I forgive you' love fest between myself and President Roslin?" Tory scoffed.

"Something along those lines, yes."

"No."

"Tory… I don't understand a lot of this," Lee began, choosing his words as carefully as he could. "But I do know that you and Laura were very close. If you-"

"You don't know anything, Lee," Tory said. She turned away. "This was a stupid idea," she told Sonja, and walked away.

"Tory, wait!" Lee called, but as he tried to follow her Sonja stepped in his path, and the Eight at the console opened her eyes, watching him warily.

"I can't let you follow her. You know that, Mr. Adama," Sonja said. The words were pleasant enough, but there was steel behind them.

"Can you talk to her?" Lee asked. "Can you make her see reason? If this is going to work, we need some sort of genuine cooperation."

"I can talk to her," Sonja agreed. "But I can't promise you anything. If I were you, I'd look for my symbol of alliance elsewhere."

"Yeah," Lee sighed, still staring at the corridor Tory had stalked down. "I guess so."

***

"So even though he gave up the coordinates and the Hitei Khan has returned, you're keeping him in the brig?" Saul asked.

"He interfered with a military operation," Bill replied, pouring himself another drink. He offered it to Saul, who started to shake his head, reconsidered, and accepted it. "And he's guilty as all hell."

They were sitting in the study, Saul in the armchair and Bill sprawled out on the couch. Saul couldn't blame him for his disarray; it had been yet another extremely long day in a series. But he couldn't make himself relax, not like he used to. Bill glanced at him expectantly, and Saul considered carefully before he spoke. "You know that won't be a popular move," he said slowly.

"It's not my job to be popular." Bill stared at the glass. "It's my job to protect this fleet."

"Be that as it may, he's still the Vice President. And with Laura stepping down…"

"She's not stepping down," Bill insisted.

"The longer she stays away, the less anyone believes that. I'm not blaming her, Bill," Saul said when Bill opened his mouth to defend her. "If I'd been what through what she's gone through, I'd be ready to say frak it all myself. But it leaves a vacuum."

"And nature abhors a vacuum. I'll admit that's the other advantage of keeping Zarek locked up. If he's in the brig, the Quorum has to find someone else."

"But what if they don't want to? From what Lee says, they're pretty gung-ho for Zarek these days."

"They're gung-ho for anyone who will speak out against the alliance," Bill said. "Give them a few days and they'll forget about Zarek."

"You might be right," Saul said. He didn't really think so, but the set look on Bill's face told him it didn't matter what he thought. Besides, while in principal he disagreed with Bill, in reality he couldn't help but think that the best place for Tom Zarek was behind bars… or out an airlock. "Any word from Lee on a reconciliation between Tory and Laura?"

Bill looked at his glass. "It's a definite no-go."

"Great," Saul drawled. "Really would help if we had something public. Some show of good faith."

"I know. How are the upgrades going?" Bill asked.

"Aside from the Hitei Khan, everything else is on schedule," Saul said. "I'll say this for the Cylons; they're organized."

Bill looked up at his phrasing, and Saul stared back at him defiantly. Bill looked down first, a hint of a smirk playing at his lips. "Right," he said. He sighed heavily. "We'll get it done."

"We will," Saul agreed. He hoped like hell he was right.

***

"I still don't believe," Louis panted as they rounded a corner together, "that Cylons need to run to stay in shape."

Jesse was breathing just as hard. "We have strength," he admitted. "That's different from endurance."

They ran through a knot of pilots, and Louis noticed a range of expressions, from curiosity to outright anger. He glanced back, and then turned forward when he nearly tripped over a crate. "So you don't have endurance."

"Does it look like it? I don't know how you keep talking me into this."

"Come on. We still have two more times around Galactica." Jesse groaned, but Louis smiled grimly. 'To tell you the truth, I don't mind. This is about the only time I've been able to do anything besides sleep or work the CIC."

"They've still got you on double shifts?"

Louis nodded. "I guess I don't mind it. It keeps me from thinking too much…" Jesse nodded empathetically, "but they really need a few more officers. Thornton covers my off-shift on tactical, but he's got a baby." He made a wry face. "And Sian does Communications well enough, but, well, given that she's the mom of said baby…"

"What about that other one? Gage?"

Louis rolled his eyes. "Gage did well enough on a Mercury class battlestar," he admitted. "But the Galactica is a whole different beast. It's amazing how quickly technology can change."

Jesse snorted.

"Yeah, right, I get it," Louis said. "Anyway, we need more people who understand the more complicated aspects of the equipment, and there's not enough time to train them up."

"I could do it," Jesse suggested.

Louis stopped cold in his tracks. "What?"

Jesse turned around, still jogging in place. "I could do it. Louis, I'm essentially a machine, and I specialize in machines. I'm an engineer. If I can't figure out Galactica's computer technology in a matter of minutes, I should just snap my own motherboard."

"You would do that?" Louis asked. "You'd help on Galactica?" He began to run again.

"This alliance is meant to help both sides," Jesse said. "And besides, like you said, the work would keep me busy. I still think about her all the time, and I need something."

"Well," Louis said, still dumbfounded. "I'll talk to the Admiral about it."

***

"No." Bill was flat and unequivocal. He looked up at the man standing in front of his desk, and then looked back down again.

Hoshi sighed, and looked at Saul, silently appealing to the man who'd granted his request last time. "Sir," he said patiently, "we need some solution. I feel like I'm running the CIC by myself."

"That's a little dramatic, don't you think, Lieutenant?"

"It is, yes. But when Sian or Thornton aren't on, I am largely running Tactical and Communications. If I can say so, sir, Specialist Gage just hasn't caught on to the intricacies of the Galactica system."

"He's a moron, you mean," Saul opined.

Hoshi shrugged in a I didn't say it, you did sort of response. "Athena is a pilot," he pointed out. "A Colonial pilot, not a Cylon one. You trust her."

"Sharon Agathon is a special case," Bill countered. "And she proved her loyalty over the course of a year. And she's not a member of the CIC staff."

"But Colonel Tigh is, sir."

It hung in the air, and Hoshi waited, tense and visibly nervous, his hands clenched at his sides. Saul almost found himself laughing. "He's got you there, Bill," he said.

Bill glared at him. "It's not the same thing."

"Then take Helo off CAG and put him back on tactical," Hoshi begged. "Or get Captain Kelly out of the brig."

Bill shook his head. "I'm not in the habit of rearranging the duty roster to suit one lieutenant."

"No, but sir, when I checked the jump calculations I did yesterday, I found several errors. Simple errors, sir, like six times seven is thirty-six. If I make a mistake like that and don't catch it-"

"Don't make a mistake like that," Bill ordered. "Anything else?" Hoshi bit his lip and shook his head. "You're dismissed, Lieutenant."

Hoshi saluted and then turned sharply, and fumbled with the hatch. If it had been any other officer, Saul might have thought it was for effect, but Hoshi had the look of a man who knew his case was lost.

"H's right about Gage." Saul said as the hatch closed behind him. "The man is a moron. And Hoshi looks like shit, Bill,"

"He's still not over Gaeta," Bill theorized. "It's only been two weeks."

"Two weeks that have made it clear just how much Gaeta ran in the CIC."

"Have you met this Two?"

"Only in passing," Saul said. "He and Hoshi have been fairly inseparable. Jesse- the Two- was involved with one of the Eights on Raptor 718."

"Common grief."

"Exactly. It can form strong bonds."

"Mmm." Bill took off his glasses and rubbed his nose. "Not enough to inherently trust someone, though. What do you think?"

"Well, it's not a bad idea." Bill looked up sharply, and Saul met his gaze squarely. "It could that public gesture that Lee's so convinced we need."

"So you're saying…"

"Check him out, and if he seems trustworthy, take a chance and swear the bastard in," Saul said.

Bill was silent for a long time. "I don't like it," he finally said.

"Like Hoshi said, what other options have you got?"

"I'll think about it."

Chapter Text

The Eight that Jesse called Sarah lay on her back on the examination table, watching the ultrasound screen intently. "Do you even know what you're looking for?" she asked.

"I was in charge of a Farm on Gemenon," the Four snapped. "Yes, I know what I'm looking for. But you said you're only five weeks along-"

"As near as the doctor on the Galactica could tell," Sarah interrupted.

"Yes, well, five weeks is really only three weeks since the egg's been fertilized," the Four said. He guided the probe over her belly, prodding a bit. "The bloodwork will be a better indi- wait." He paused and backed up. "There," he said, pointing at the display with dawning excitement. "There it is."

"I told you so," Sarah said smugly, her eyes fastened on the tiny swirl of dots that was meant to represent her baby. The Four stared for a long time before shutting off the monitor.

"So, who's the father?" he asked, cleaning the gel off the probe.

"Excuse me?" Sarah said, jerking back to reality.

"This baby was conceived after the war began… after your alliance with the humans." His face was marred with disgust. "So which one of them was it? One of the ones in your Raptor?"

"It was a Two," Sarah said dryly.

"It can't be. No Cylon-Cylon union has ever resulted in a viable pregnancy." There was something incredibly bitter in his face, and as he moved again to adjust an instrument, she caught sight of the dark bloodstain on the black t-shirt he wore under his labcoat. The reminder of her sister made her defiant.

"We're married," she emphasized. "A One officiated. He thought it was ridiculous, but we didn't. Given that it's the only marriage ceremony he's ever performed, I'm sure he'll remember it."

The Four glared at her. "You and I both know that vows don't equate love. When you're further along, we'll be able to ascertain the true paternity," he snarled. "That is, if you're further along and don't miscarry before then." He snapped his fingers, and a couple of the old fashioned, clunky Centurions lurched into life. "Take her to the cell," he ordered. "I'll tell Cavil we're done here."

***

"Gaeta?"

He was lying on a hard, cold surface, and the word came from across a chasm of pain and darkness. Felix dragged his eyes open, and then groaned and shut them again. He remembered pain convulsing his body and Cavil's face over him, angry and set, fascination in his eyes. It wasn't Cavil above him, and he wished he could believe that it was completely over.

A firm hand was under his arm. "Come on," the voice said again. "There's a bed in here. Well, sort of. Let's get you on it." The voice was male, and the owner had a long face and dark hair. For a wild moment, Felix thought Louis was hovering over him, and he tried to reach up to touch his face. But then his vision cleared and his heart slowed down as he realized that the voice didn't match.

"Give me a hand here," the man said over his shoulder.

Another pair of hands slipped under his other arm, and between them, they maneuvered Felix to something that felt wonderfully soft as he sank down onto it. "Where are we?" he asked blearily. His uniform jacket was off and his tanks were still on, and his prosthetic was off as well. But that was the extent of his knowledge.

"It's called the Colony," the man told Felix. "Apparently, it's where the Cylons began."

"I thought they had a planet," Felix said. "A home world."

The man shrugged, and Felix's eyes finally cleared enough to see Jim Brooks, one of the deckhands who specialized in air treatment technology. And the memory of the past hours came crashing down on him. He groaned.

"Are you okay?" Brooks asked.

Felix sat up slowly. Everything hurt, especially his leg, and he wondered how much time had passed and if Cavil had found the morpha hidden in the prosthetic's boot. "I think so," he said. "Nothing's broken, at any rate. Or missing." He glared down at his leg. "Where are we specifically?"

"It's what passes for a Cylon detention cell," a woman said. Felix turned to see the other Eight that had been in the Raptor, the one that had claimed she was pregnant. At least, he assumed it was her. She was out of her pilots' uniform and wearing an overlarge shirt and dark pants. She stood as far from him and Brooks as she could manage, her arms crossed. Felix looked around the cell.

"It's not too bad," he said, surprised. "Nothing like New Caprica."

"Well, we've never had much use for detention cells before," the Eight said. "That's not how it's worked."

The room was clean, with glowing black walls with squares of light. Red pulsed from the walls, felt more than seen. There was no furniture except for the bed that Felix sat on, a chaise-like affair covered in white.

"Gaeta," Brooks said, and improbably, he was smiling, "guess what we've got?"

Felix shook his head bewilderedly, and Brooks held up a roll of toilet paper. For a long moment, Felix stared at it, unable to believe it. "Where did you…"

Brooks pointed to a closed door. "There's a head right in there," he said. He handed Felix the roll, and Felix took it reverently. It was such a trivial item, but it was soft and smooth beneath his hands, and all he could do was stare.

"We have toilet paper," he said, and sharp, hot tears sprang to his eyes. "We're prisoners of the Cylons, and we have toilet paper."

"We haven't had toilet paper since New Caprica," Brooks confirmed. "We have toilet paper!"

Their eyes met, and the two of them began to laugh hysterically, until Felix was doubled over. It wasn't funny, he knew that, but it was laugh or cry, and they had toilet paper. The Eight just rolled her eyes.

The closed head door opened. "What's all this about?" a female voice asked smoothly, as if she was amused. Felix looked up and then did a double take, all of the laughter dying immediately on his lips and draining from his body, leaving him cold and chilled.

"Why, Lieutenant Gaeta," Ellen Tigh said. "I wish I could say it was nice to see you again, but under these circumstances, I'm afraid it's not, is it?"

For a long moment, Felix couldn't speak.

Ellen was wearing a black dress. She looked elegant, her hair curled and bouncing on her shoulders, heels emphasizing her long legs. She didn't wear makeup, and the lack of it flattered her, adding to the serene manner in which she carried herself.

"You," Felix said, wonderingly. "You're the fifth."

"You didn't know?" Ellen said, and then frowned. "I would advise not telling Cavil that. He's desperate to know if the Fleet has figured out who the Five are, or if they even know who they are."

"I should have figured it out." He looked around frantically for his crutches, but they were nowhere to be seen. Ellen was advancing on him fast. "I should have…" He clamped his mouth shut, because he couldn't give Cavil any information about the state of the Fleet.

Ellen raised an eyebrow at him. "That's right," she said, reading his silence correctly. "It's best that way." She knelt down in front of Felix and peeled back the shortened pant leg that covered his stump. "This looks bad," she said. "I'll make sure Cavil has a Four see to it."

"No," Felix said.

"You aren't going to have much of a choice," Ellen said. "And I don't want to explain to my husband why you died under my care." Felix snorted, but Ellen looked at him admonishingly. "Saul always did have a soft spot for you, Felix, although I'm quite aware that he was never particularly good at showing it."

"I… he…" Felix felt like he was rapidly losing the little control he had over the situation. Ellen stood up gracefully.

"It will be all right, Felix, at least for a little while." Ellen was soothing. She touched his forehead. "You'll all be all right for a bit."

There was absolutely no reason that Felix should believe her. But as he looked back down at the roll of toilet paper still in his hands, some part of him did.

***

Brooks had retreated to the corner to sulk, and Gaeta slept fitfully on the bed. The room seemed small and crowded for the four of them, and Sarah wasn't relishing being in such close quarters with two humans.

"Pregnant," Ellen said as she and Sarah sat on the floor together. She brushed a strand of Sarah's hair off her face. "You have no idea…"

She had a kind face, Sarah thought, far more so than Tory. Kind and wise and loving. "I'm not very far along," Sarah told her. "Just a few weeks."

"But still." Ellen smiled. "It's a gift. A wonderful, precious gift."

"I know."

"And the father is really a Cylon?" Ellen asked.

"Yes."

"I assume he's a Two?"

"Yes. His name is Jesse." It was the first time Sarah had allowed herself to think his name inside the Colony. The ache of being away from him, of him not knowing, was almost physical. "He uses the surname Conoy."

"The Twos always had a great sense of brotherhood," Ellen said, smiling fondly.

"You know? You know what each model line is like?" The realization was beginning to dawn.

Ellen smiled enigmatically. "Of course," she said. "The Twos were my husband's special pet project."

"You created us?" Sarah asked, but even as she said it she knew it was true. That was what was so special about the Five.

"Created," Ellen said carefully, cocking her head. "I'm not sure that's the word I'd use."

"What word would you use then?"

"Developed, I suppose. The Centurions had done most of the work, we merely… helped the process along. But once we gave you life… you create yourselves."

"I don't understand," Sarah said. She felt like she was hovering on the brink of something… something huge and important, something bigger even than the child she carried. She reached out and touched Ellen, and Ellen felt exactly like her.

"We gave you bodies," Ellen said, "and we gave you programming. But we also gave you free will. We gave you the ability to become who you want to be, to make your own decisions. And those decisions you make, those choices… that is what makes you you, what gives you your soul."

Sarah nodded mutely, unsure of what to say. Over in the corner, Gaeta groaned. Ellen looked at him, the expression of compassion deepening on her face. "It's going to be a difficult time for him," she said.

"Do you think Cavil will let them live?" Sarah asked.

"Yes," Ellen said, "at least for a while, or he would have killed them already." She looked at Sarah carefully. "You should get some sleep. Here." She patted her lap, indicating that Sarah should rest against her. "The floor is uncomfortable, but I don't think we should wake him yet."

"No, I'll be all right. You-"

Ellen smiled. "I'm not the one who's pregnant," she said. "You need your sleep; you're exhausted."

Sarah hadn't had time to think about it, but now that she was relaxing a little, she felt it. "Thank you," she said humbly, as she lay down on the floor, her head in Ellen's lap. Ellen bent over her and kissed her forehead softly.

"Sleep well," she murmured.

Sarah closed her eyes, and drifted off almost immediately.

***

Consciousness came painfully, and it took Felix a few minutes to assess his surroundings. Brooks had been taken from the cell, and Felix could guess what was happening. Based on his own recent experience, he really didn't want to think about it. Ellen and the Eight had fallen asleep against a wall, huddled together. He stared at them for a long time, and then slid off the bed and scooted in the most undignified manner over to a corner of the room.

The prosthetic and his crutches had been brought back, and the morpha was still in the boot. Felix looked at the four syringes, wondering if eighteen hours had passed since the last time he'd taken it. They must have, although he'd be the first to say that his view of the past hours was distorted. Right now, he wasn't sure enough that death wasn't the better option. With a sigh, he uncapped a syringe and carefully injected it.

The cell began to cloud and spin, a blur of blacks and whites and reds. He was vaguely aware of Ellen talking to the Eight across the room. But the morpha dulled those edges, and he didn't have to think about the details. He closed his eyes and curled up in the corner, letting himself slip into a semi-conscious state.

It couldn't last. A hand on him woke him up, and he opened his eyes to see a Four. The Fours had never had that much to say on New Caprica, he remembered, but they had been ruthless and creepy in their own way. He shrank back.

"Come with me," the Four ordered.

Felix wasn't exactly in a position to argue. He fumbled to a sitting position, and then began to tug on the prosthetic. The Four winced as he watched, and then handed Felix the crutches. It took a minute to register the simple act of consideration, but when he did, Felix nodded in acknowledgement. He wasn't going to thank a Cylon for making his life as a prisoner of war any easier, though.

Two Centurions accompanied them through the halls. It seemed a little excessive for an unarmed crippled man. He noticed that these Centurions didn't look like the ones he was familiar with. They were clunkier, with a golden hue to their metal. Felix tried not to stare at them. It was the strangest feeling, like seeing museum exhibits and history books come to life. But as they walked through the halls, he noticed a Centurion like he was used to seeing cross their path.

The Four led him into a room that looked exactly like the cell, except there was water running down the walls in a sheer stream and a table placed in the center of the room. The table had an odd blue glow to it, and Felix balked. The Four gestured to a Centurion, but Felix started moving before the Centurion could prod him. Strangely enough, the Centurion helped Felix climb onto the table.

The Four removed Felix's prosthetic and made a face as he examined the stump. "How long ago was this amputation performed?" he asked. Felix didn't answer, and the Four sighed. "Look," he said, "I need to know. This is not exactly information that's going to lead to the destruction of all humanity, all right?"

"About three or four weeks." Felix wondered if it was the morpha loosening his tongue, or the simple hope of healing.

"Four weeks?" the Four's brow furrowed. "And you're using a prosthetic already? No wonder the stump is in such bad shape. My understanding is that amputation patients aren't ready for a prosthetic for at least three months."

Felix shrugged.

The Four turned the fabric of Felix's uniform pants up, and began to probe the stump with a firm touch. There was a point when Felix's leg jerked with the pain, but he didn't quite actually feel it, just a morpha-induced blur. The Four frowned, and continued his exam.

"Lie back," he ordered, and Felix obeyed.

The ceiling looked very much like the rest of the place, Felix decided. The Cylons weren't much on décor, really. Although from what the Eight had explained to him on New Caprica, they could see their surroundings any way they chose.

"Does it make it easier?" he heard himself asking.

"Excuse me?"

"All the black and the white lights and everything looking the same," Felix said. The words danced off his tongue, barely under his control. "Does it make it easier to project?"

The Four shrugged. "I suppose. But I don't have much to compare to."

"No control," Felix murmured.

"No experimental comparison," the Four corrected. "The baseship would be the control."

"This isn't a baseship, though."

The Four didn't answer. Instead, he finished his examination, wrapped a blood pressure cuff around Felix's bicep and used his stethoscope to check Felix's heart and lungs. Finally, he picked up the prosthetic and studied it. Felix was hardly surprised when he found the packet of morpha in his boot. He flipped it open.

"Three syringes of five left?" he asked, raising his eyebrows. "You used one recently- I can tell. Judging by your vitals and your level of cognizance, I'd say three hours ago?"

"You haven't exactly put a clock in the cell," Felix muttered. But he didn't deny the accusation.

The Four sighed, and then signaled to a Centurion. "Airlock these," he ordered. The Centurion moved away, and Felix watched, puzzled. "I will be telling Cavil about your addiction-"

"I'm not addicted!" Felix protested.

The Four shrugged. "I'm sure he'll find the resultant withdrawal entertaining. But I think it's best for your health if you don't have access to any more of it."

Felix sighed. The Four extended the prosthetic to him again, indicating he should put it back on.

"All right," he said, when Felix was done. "Take him back to the cell," he ordered the Centurion.

The Four left, and Felix followed the Centurion. At least, if nothing else, this was someone who made more noise than him when he walked. When they returned, the Centurion nearly shoved him inside.

The Eight and Ellen had woken up and were sitting on the bed. Ellen looked concerned when he came in, but he shook his head at her and limped over to the corner that he'd been sleeping in before. He didn't think he'd be able to fall back asleep, but he was able to at least get comfortable and huddle in on himself.

The first duty of a soldier was to try to escape to rejoin his regiment. Felix knew that from basic training. But trying to escape from here… he tried to remember what Bulldog had said he'd done, but from what his mind would let him remember at the moment, the plague had been pivotal. He wondered if he could manage to sneeze on Cavil.

He didn't know how much time went by, but he heard the clunking footsteps of Centurions again. They brought Brooks back in, pale and shaking. He was walking under his own power, but he collapsed on the floor as soon as the Centurions left him the cell. Felix fumbled to his feet and hurried over as best he could, but Ellen was there first.

"He's all right," Ellen told Felix as he reached Brooks's side. She was checking his pulse and breathing. "He'll manage."

Felix nodded at her, and then knelt down beside Brooks. The position was uncomfortable, not the least because he remembered crouching next to Dee's body, but the thought fled his mind when Brooks opened his eyes.

"I didn't tell him anything," he told Felix, pride flashing across his face.

"I knew you wouldn't," Felix said. He hadn't been so sure- especially after feeling what Cavil could do- but he wasn't going to let Brooks know that. "You okay?"

Brooks nodded. "Think so. Frakker really got me though…"

Felix glanced at Ellen, and she nodded. "Come on," she told Brooks. "Your turn for the bed."

"You did good, Brooks," Felix said, squeezing his arm.

"Thanks, sir." Brooks closed his eyes.

It hit Felix that he was the senior officer here. Not that it meant much, but it meant something. He squared his shoulders and took a deep breath, and made more of an effort to pull his mind back together. He was the commanding officer, which meant that he was responsible for this man's welfare. The fact was oddly reassuring, if nothing else because it gave him a purpose.

He looked over at the Eight that was incarcerated with them. She was sitting with her back to the wall, her knees drawn up against her chest. She was the twin of Boomer, Athena, and his Eight from Caprica, and yet, with her face set in hard lines and the way her eyes flashed, he thought he might actually be able to tell the difference among them. He struggled to standing, adjusted his crutches, and limped over to her.

"Hey," he said. "Can I sit?"

"Can't stop you," she said.

He sat down beside her awkwardly. "I don't know if we've ever met before," he admitted. "I'm Felix."

"I know who you are." She was still staring in front of her.

He controlled his annoyance. "I figured. But I don't know who you are. I don't have the first idea. It's called an introduction."

He'd seen the look she gave him before, from Boomer and Athena. The you've got to be kidding me, I am not that stupid look. But she finally sighed. "I'm Sarah," she conceded. "We never met on New Caprica."

Felix nodded. "Well, Sarah, it's time to play catch up. I don't know the first thing about a Cylon baseship, but I'm guessing the odds of sneaking out of this cell, finding our Raptor, stealing it and making it back to the Fleet are extremely slim."

"Astronomically so."

"Right." Felix sighed. "You mentioned the idea of sending a message back to Galactica. What would that entail?"

"A lot." Sarah was softening. "I'd have to be able to get to a data stream, upload a message, encode it, and transmit it. There are firewalls on the baseships' systems. I could bypass them, but it would take time. And once Cavil knows I've accessed the mainframe, we wouldn't have much time."

"How long would it take him to find out?"

"With this many Cylons on his side? A matter of seconds."

Felix closed his eyes and knocked his head back against the wall. "We're frakked," he realized. "Unless we're rescued-"

"We won't be," Sarah interrupted glumly. She hugged her knees tighter. "They've got to think we're dead."

She was right. They had to be well past the twenty-two hours of air that had been in the Raptor, and even if… Adama wasn't looking anymore. Adama thought he was dead.

Louis thought he was dead.

The thought hit him with the impact of a Viper landing full speed, and he had to close his eyes for a long moment. "Gods," he whispered, and he wished there was something in his stomach to throw up, because he felt sick.

"You okay?" Sarah asked.

"Yeah, just…" He turned his head and opened his eyes. "You leave anyone back on the baseship?"

"Yeah," she said. "My husband. You did, too?" She cocked her head at the shared bond.

"My… boyfriend. Lover. Partner," Felix realized, and then shook his head. "Yeah. Louis."

She nodded. "Jesse."

"Two?" he assumed.

"Yeah. He doesn't even know about the baby yet," Sarah said. "I hope your doctor doesn't tell him. It's bad enough that he thinks I'm dead, but if he knew…"

Felix cringed. "Yeah." He sighed. "So no hope of escape, no hope of rescue, and no hope of sending a message. What do we do?"

"We sit here and wait to die, I guess. Or for circumstances to change."

"Great options," he said sourly. But he didn't move, and she didn't tell him to. They sat side by side in silence for a long time.

***

Sarah remembered when they'd held Baltar on the baseship. A few of the Ones had objected to the quarters, claiming that cells like those of New Caprica were far more appropriate for holding human prisoners, but their objections largely went unheeded, even by others of their own model line. The point, Cavil had said, wasn't to imprison humans but to exterminate them, so why build special cells?

Sarah had never been so grateful to Cavil in her life.

The head that was attached to the cell was rudimentary, but it had a shower, a toilet, and even soap and razors. Sarah had contemplated attacking the Four or Cavil with the razor and trying to escape, but they were such small things that she really didn't think she could do enough damage before someone pulled a gun on her or a Centurion fired. And Centurions weren't going to be threatened by a razor. Another bed had been put into the cell, given her pregnant status. And the Cylons gave them food. Not good food- moldy or stale bread, overripe fruit, and bland porridge or protein bars. It turned her stomach, although Gaeta and Brooks ate like it was the most delicious stuff in the world.

Other than that, there was nothing. But Sarah could project, and it helped a lot. She was lying on her back in a grassy field staring up at the stars when Ellen sat down beside her.

"This is beautiful," Ellen said, the breeze teasing her hair.

"Can you do it?" Sarah asked her.

"Not like this. It's far more primitive, what we do." Ellen looked around her with satisfaction. "This was Tyrol's idea, to give you all this ability to this extent. He was always more of a dreamer."

Sarah nodded and sat up. "Does Cavil know about Tyrol?" she asked. "And the others?"

"John knows," Ellen said, and her voice was thick with sadness. "John knows more than I ever dreamed he would."

"What do you mean?"

But Ellen didn't answer. Instead, she looked around Sarah's projection again, up at the twinkling stars. She smiled.

"You put the Fleet up there."

Sarah shrugged. "Of course."

"God, I'd give anything to be back there. I left so much…." Ellen looked over to where the men were lying, both of them asleep. Neither of them had any idea they were lying in the grass under a clear night sky. Her face was oddly tender as she looked at them, as if she actually cared about them. Sarah watched her in wonder.

"Ellen?"

"Yes?"

"Why is Cavil having Gaeta treated? The Four keeps coming back for him."

"I'd like to believe that John has a heart and is willing to keep him alive," Ellen sighed. "But I'm afraid the truth is that he's worried that an infection in his leg will kill him, and he'll lose any information or bargaining power. He's right that Brooks won't bring him much, although I've been telling him that Brooks is the one that really runs the hangar deck and that Adama desperately needs him. I'm not sure that he believes me. But he does know that Felix was high in the command structure.

Sarah worried her lip with her teeth, thinking about that. "But if Adama refuses to trade for him…"

"And he will," Ellen agreed. "Given what John will ask for. He wants the other Four. But we've got some time before then."

"Time?" Sarah asked, hope flaring in her. "Time for what?"

Ellen smiled. "Time to plan."

"Time to plan what?" Sarah asked.

"I'm still working on that."

***

"Right now they don't even know we're alive," Brooks said stridently. "There's no rescue coming because they have to believe that we're all dead of suffocation. If we don't send some sort of message, we'll be here until Cavil gets bored and decides to kill us. Could be days, could be months, could be years. I'm not sure which is the worst option."

"We got that, genius," Sarah snapped. "But the problem is that I'm not sure how to access the data stream in a way that Cavil won't detect. It's not that I'm afraid to die, although I'd really rather not. It's that if he detects us, he'll end the transmission before we can even send anything, and our deaths will be for nothing."

Sarah sat cross-legged on the floor. Gaeta was sitting across from her, his good leg drawn up and his arms wrapped around the knee. The stump was freshly bandaged by the Four, but outside of that, Gaeta looked terrible. There were dark circles under his eyes, he hadn't ventured near the razors, and he was paler than he'd been even when he got on the Raptor. His uniform jacket had disappeared somewhere, and the lack of sleeves made the bruises on the insides of his arms stand out. He was sweating, but at the same time he was shivering as well. But despite that, he was staring with interest at the rough floor plan that Sarah had sketched out on the pad Ellen provided.

"What if we could get Cavil distracted? It apparently isn't hard," Gaeta said. "Just give him me or Brooks."

To Sarah's utter surprise, Brooks shook his head. "Two problems. For one, it's not just Cavil specifically, and for two, I don't think it works like that." He'd lost his orange coveralls to wherever Gaeta's jacket had disappeared, and although Cavil had tortured him as well, he looked much healthier than Gaeta. "Is there any way you can disguise that you're sending the signal? Like, programming language or something like that, so you can make it look like a Four or a Five?"

Sarah stared at him for a long moment. It wasn't that it was the dumbest idea that she'd ever heard… it was that it actually had some merit. "I can try," she said finally.

"Even if it's crude, it could buy us enough time," Brooks pointed out. "The only problem is, if it's disguised as a signal from one of these Cylons, would the baseship in the Fleet even acknowledge it? What's to stop them from thinking it's a trap?"

"We can work around that," Ellen said smoothly. "I'm sure you each have any number of private, meaningful codes you could work out that someone back in the Fleet would recognize as yours."

Gaeta nodded. "I suppose there's one other option," he said slowly, shivering and rubbing his arms.

"What's that?" Sarah asked.

"See if we can convince the Four to help us."

Brooks raised his eyebrows, but Ellen shook her head and Sarah glared at him. "No," she said unequivocally. "It doesn't work that way. Disagreement between models is one thing,, but Cylons don't break from their model line."

"Boomer did," Brooks pointed out.

"The Eight that brought us here did, too," Gaeta added, looking positively miserable. "And Caprica didn't seem to agree with the Sixes all the time on New Caprica."

"One of the Twos explained to me that D'Anna got her whole line boxed," Brooks added.

Gaeta fixed his eyes on Sarah's. "And you married a Two."

"That's not going against my model line. They supported that decision."

"And if it came down to saving Jesse or saving a fellow Eight?" Gaeta pressed. "Who would you save?"

"That's all theoretical," Sarah said, bristling. "None of that will help us now."

"I'm just saying," Gaeta said, sitting back, "the Four seemed like he was pretty broken up about Cavil shooting that Eight. If Caprica shot Jesse, what would you do?"

I'd kill her. But Sarah couldn't say the words. She scowled at Gaeta and then looked at Ellen. But Ellen was watching Gaeta, a small frown line between her eyes.

"Are you all right, Felix? You look terrible."

"I'm a prisoner of war on a Cylon baseship who just had his leg amputated less than a month ago. I'll try to work out a song and dance number for you later."

Ellen sniffed. "No need to get so tetchy. A simple 'no' would have sufficed."

Gaeta glared at her. Discussion finished, he retreated to the corner of the cell, huddling against the two walls. Brooks hesitated, then stood up and retrieved a blanket off the bed and offered it to him. Gaeta took it, but it didn't seem to help.

Sarah glanced up at Ellen. "You still look worried."

"Well, yes. I wasn't lying when I said Saul always had a bit of a soft spot for Felix. He was such a dedicated young man. And something's going on with him right now."

"Medical, or psychological?"

"I don't know. I didn't really know him, just what he let people see. It's an interesting point about Boomer, though."

"You know about Boomer voting against the Eights?"

Ellen shrugged in a manner that clearly said of course. "You all started out the same, but as you make those choices, it changes you. I'm only surprised it didn't start happening earlier."

"But that's not the way God intended."

Ellen smiled. "Last time I checked, I wasn't God."

Sarah shook her head. "It doesn't make sense. Do you really think that the Four would turn on his own model line?"

"I don't know," Ellen admitted. "But I really think that you would. Gaeta's right. If you had to make the choice between an Eight or Jesse… or the baby you carry… whom would you choose?"

"He doesn't understand it. He's human."

"Which means he understands it all too well. It's not a bad thing, Sarah, to love someone like that." Ellen's face softened. "I betrayed everything I believed for Saul, and I would do it again."

"But he killed you for it."

Ellen grimaced. "There is that, yes. But he was working with very limited information."

"Sounds like a pretty weak rationalization to me," Sarah scowled.

"It's not. Love is a powerful force, Sarah. And love for a husband or love for a child… those are two of the most enduring, passionate loves a woman can know. But it unleashes other powers within you. It opens other strong emotions that the Cylons aren't familiar with. Anger. Jealousy. Greed. Pride. All of those reasons that you felt the humans deserved to die. "

"Lot of good love is, then." But her hand came to rest on her belly, and she thought of the child that she was carrying. What would she do to protect that baby? She still hadn't even adjusted to the news she was pregnant, she was still afraid to hope… but she knew the truth instinctively. She would do anything.

"The Four loved the Eight, didn't he?" Ellen asked softly.

"Yes. Very much."

"Felix might have a point," she said. "But we'll have to go slow with him. And we'd better keep a plan B."

Sarah wasn't sure she agreed, but she nodded anyway.

***

The blanket didn't really help. Felix pulled it tighter around his shoulders, trying to get comfortable. But the withdrawal tremors were bad and a simple blanket did nothing.

This wasn't how he'd pictured going through this. Somewhere deep down he'd known he'd have to do it, and he'd figured that he'd confess to Ishay- Ishay knew how much morpha he'd been taking, since she was the one giving it to him- and she'd be able to help. And Louis would be there with him, worried at first but willing to face the challenge with him. They'd look at it like everyone looked at basic- it had to be done, and it'd be hell now but one day it wouldn't seem so bad. And at the end, once he'd gotten through the worst of it, he and Louis would celebrate. In his better daydreams, he'd even feel like celebrating.

He turned over, struggling against the blanket. He didn't want to think about Louis right now, because somewhere across space Louis was grieving, believing fully that Felix was dead. But at the same time, it was impossible not to think of him, because there was no place that he wanted to be more.

He closed his eyes, bringing back a fantasy he'd patted into perfection during long, lonely nights on the Demetrius. They'd find Earth- Earth had always looked like Picon, just with a lot more top-heavy buildings in the cities- and he and Louis would find a small house. Somewhere in the country or the city or by an ocean… he'd never worked out those details. What he always imagined was the two of them lying in a bed, sunlight streaming in over the covers. Louis would be lying on his stomach, arms folded and chin resting on his hands, reading the paper when Felix woke up. He'd turn and smile, get a good-morning kiss, and then go back to his paper. Felix would watch him, then eventually he'd sit up enough to trace the tattoo on Louis's arm, his fingers light over the blue and red ink. And Louis would laugh and tell Felix he wanted to read his paper, but as Felix leaned over and kissed the freckles that were scattered on Louis's shoulders, he'd willingly put the paper aside.

And there it fizzled out. On the Demetrius, it had been plenty easy to keep that fantasy going, but then he'd had two legs, and Earth hadn't been a nuclear wasteland. He tried to cling to it now, to convince himself that those facets didn't matter, but he'd never been one for impossible flights of fancy. No matter what he wanted to believe, he had those two facts here in front of him, and he couldn't even erase them for a few untroubled minutes in his mind.

It's just like you. The voice in his head sounded like Dee, of all people. You're thinking too much to even think.

He shook his head to make the voice go away, and a gentle hand landed on his forehead. The hand was cool, and it cut through the feverish haze like water. He opened his eyes to see Ellen.

"Please, go away," he begged. "It's not anything."

"It's something," Ellen said. Her voice was soft, but there was something firm in it as well. "Do you need the Four?"

Felix shook his head. "Like he'd come."

"He might. If I asked him."

"If you could get him to do what you wanted-"

"There's a huge difference between providing medical treatment to a prisoner they want alive and letting me go back to the Fleet. Does Saul know about your little addiction?"

He stared at her. "You know?"

She didn't answer. She just fixed him with a look that reminded him strongly of his own mother, the silent threat that said Answer my question. He sighed.

"Doubt it," he finally answered, pulling the blanket more tightly around him. "He barely notices anything these days."

"He always liked you."

Felix glared up at her. "He nearly threw me out of an airlock."

"When?"

"After New Caprica."

Ellen patted his hand. "And he poisoned me, sweetie. Consider yourself lucky." Felix huddled deeper into his blanket, and Ellen settled down next to him. "Saul knows now, doesn't he?"

"Knows what?" Felix didn't really like the feeling that he couldn't keep up. "That I wasn't collaborating?"

"That he's a Cylon." Felix clamped his lips shut and stared straight ahead of him, and Ellen huffed impatiently. "Felix, if he didn't know it by the time the Fleet reached the Ionian Nebula, he should have figured it out by then. I'm sure of that."

"Did you know it on New Caprica?"

"No. We truly believed we were human." Ellen's smile was regretful.

"Why?" Felix asked. "Was it an experiment? Or a… a disguise?"

"A method of revenge." Ellen tucked her legs under her. "Our memories were wiped and we were put into the human world as a lesson. John did that to us. We forgot everything. Everything. Even who we were to each other." Her face hardened into an expression that made Felix shrink back into his blanket. "I can't imagine anything he could have done that would have been worse."

"He made you forget," Felix said slowly. "Could he do that to a person?"

"A human, you mean?" Ellen asked, a little smirk playing at the edge of her lips. The hardness was fading from her face, and she looked more like… well, not like Mrs. Tigh, but at least the Ellen he had known here. "No. Why do you ask?"

"Well, it's just that months ago, Starbuck disappeared. We all thought she was dead, but then she returned back to the Fleet two months after her Viper supposedly exploded."

"Kara returned to the Fleet?" Ellen asked.

"Yes. And she claimed she'd been to Earth, but she thought she'd been gone for six hours. She couldn't remember anything- or at least, she said she couldn't," Felix amended sourly. "But I wondered if maybe Cavil could have captured her and erased her memories."

Ellen shook her head. "He can't do that to a human."

Felix looked at her as steadily as he could manage. "Is it possible that she's a Cylon? Both Tigh and Anders insist she's not, but Anders would insist the sky was green if Starbuck said it was so, and Tigh…"

"You're very bitter."

"Airlocks make a person bitter."

"But they didn't throw you out."

Felix closed my eyes. "Ma'am," he said, "he was my superior officer. He should have…" he shook his head. "There are a lot of things both he and Adama should have done," he muttered.

Ellen considered him for a long time. "How did you lose your leg, Felix?"

"Ask your husband."

"Saul did this?"

"No. But he wouldn't be able to answer the question, either. He's still a Colonel of the Fleet, he's still Galactica's XO, and he's got no frakking clue as to why I'm hobbling around on a peg leg."

"And Adama?"

In this context, the name cut like a knife. He closed his eyes and didn't answer, shrinking back against the wall again. "Felix?" Ellen asked, but he couldn't even look at her. She loved the Admiral, he supposed, and if she saw what he was thinking… he didn't want to know how the Cylons would react to that.

"It's nothing," he said. "I need to sleep."

"I don't remember you being this much of a liar," Ellen said, but she stood up anyway. "Get some sleep, Felix. If you can."

He watched her go through his lashes, and then shuddered again.

***

Ellen followed Cavil out of the cell obediently when he came for her. Sarah sighed and sat down on the bed, changing the cell around her into a beach. Ellen had explained so much, and yet Sarah still felt like she knew nothing. She had all these facts about Cylon history, but she couldn't integrate them. She tipped her head back and listened to the sound of the ocean waves, but the regular rhythms failed to soothe her.

In the corner, Gaeta groaned. In her projection, he looked like he was sleeping in the sun on a towel, but even then he was still wrapped in the blanket, sweaty and half-sick. Ellen had told him that he was suffering from some sort of withdrawal, and Sarah supposed she was meant to feel pity. But he was the one who had gotten himself addicted to whatever it was, and Ellen said it would be over soon, anyway. She watched him with the detachment of a scientist studying a subject.

Gaeta turned over and opened fevered, frenzied eyes. "You," he gasped.

"Yes. Who else?"

"You said you never helped me. You said the lists… how could I believe you helped me?"

Sarah shook her head, recognition settling in. "I never said that. She said that. The Eight that brought us here."

Gaeta blinked, trying to orient himself. "You aren't her?"

"No," Sarah said, drawing herself up. "I'm not."

He sat up and rubbed his eyes. He didn't notice the beach, didn't feel the sand or hear the water lapping softly at the shore, and she felt those twinges of pity she meant to feel earlier. "I'm sorry," he said, as coherence returned to him.

"It's all right."

"It's just…" he shook his head firmly. "It's nothing."

"I suppose," Sarah said. She studied Gaeta again, curious as to just what impact her sister's actions had had, and not really sure she wanted to know. But the words came out anyway. "What did she mean when she said she never helped you? Why would you think she had?"

Gaeta shrugged and looked down at the blanket. "I knew her on New Caprica," he said. "She was… she was very kind."

Sarah smirked. "I think you're remembering things that don't exist," she said.

"I'm not." Gaeta lay back down. "I'm going back to sleep."

He wasn't, Sarah knew that. But she recognized that he didn't want to talk anymore, which worked out well enough because she didn't want to listen. She looked away.

Chapter Text

The room wasn't crowded, but it was hot. Lee, standing between the newly elected Sonja and the still-President Laura Roslin, resisted the urge to adjust his tie, especially as Bell snapped a picture of the three of them.

His father stood facing a Two, both of them in dress grays. "Raise your right hand and repeat after me," Adama said. "I, Jesse Conoy…"

"I, Jesse Conoy…" the Two repeated.

"Do now pledge my faith and my loyalty..."

"Do now pledge my faith and my loyalty..."

Tigh was watching with a guarded expression, but he stood stiffly at attention. A Six in Cylon uniform stood beside him, her face carefully blank. A Two stood beside her, and Lee thought he saw an edge of a wistful smile.

"To the protection of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol."

"To the protection of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol."

"And will carry out the lawful orders of my superiors..."

"And will carry out the lawful orders of my superiors..."

The only person in the room who was truly smiling was Lieutenant Hoshi. It wasn't so much his expression, but the entire lilt of his body. Lee had heard rumors that Lieutenant Hoshi had gotten close to this Two- even rumors that they were sleeping together, which he discounted- but it still seemed… odd.

"As an officer... "

"As an officer..."

"In the Colonial Fleet."

"In the Colonial Fleet."

"Congratulations, Lieutenant." Adama saluted, and the newly sworn in Lieutenant Conoy saluted back. Lee immediately started clapping, loud and hard, and after a brief pause that may or may not have been intentional, Roslin and Sonja joined in. Tigh stepped forward and shook Conoy's hand, and Hoshi followed, slapping him on the back companionably.

"You really did it," Lee said to his father under the congratulations. "You really swore another Cylon into the Colonial Fleet."

"Hope I don't regret it," his father said darkly.

Lee looked watched as the photographer snapped a picture of Tigh shaking Conoy's hand, Hoshi grinning in the background. "I don't think you will. This is exactly what we need."

"So you say," his father acknowledged. "But I think I'm happy that Tom Zarek is locked up for this one."

Lee laughed, although it was short and bitter. "Yeah," he said. "I'm sure he'd have something to say."

***

"Keep your enemies close, and your friends closer. It's been good advice, and believe me, I've used it over the years. But is this how we want to keep them close?" Zarek held up a paper, a picture of a Two being sworn into the Fleet blazoned across the front. "Is this the price our freedom demands, that we accept the help of the very ones who attempted to eradicate us? No. This is a price that is too dear to pay, a price that we can not afford. This is too much, and we must let them know no more!"

Helo leaned against the hatch, trying to count up the number of people listening. The Marine guards, for certain, which was how Zarek was able to address this audience. The room was full, and officers' duty blues mingled with deckhands' orange jumpsuits in a visual cacophony that must have made Zarek's heart swell.

"Understand this correctly, this is no longer a democracy. It is a dictatorship, albeit a benevolent one. But when we sacrifice what is most dear to us, the very things that we fight to preserve… freedom, honor, dignity, the Articles… ask yourselves, is the resultant life worth surviving for? Or is it a society of slaves, dependant on the aristocracy created by those with power, and existing for no purpose but to be subverted?"

One of the Marines leaned forward and touched Zarek's arm through the bars, and then showed him his watch. Zarek nodded at him. "We'll wrap this up," he told the people who had gathered. "I'm very glad that you've all come down, and I urge you to let your voices be heard. You might be soldiers, but you are also still citizens of the Colonies, and you have served us all. Your voices are crucial."

The crowd began disbanding. Helo noticed that some of them crept away, nervous to be caught by whatever brass was approaching the brig. Others lingered defiantly, and one of those was the one he was the most interested in.

"Narcho," he said, blocking his way as he started to leave. " Visiting the sick and imprisoned?"

"Helo," Narcho shot back, his eyes narrowing. "Didn't expect to see you of all people down here."

"Yeah, well, looking for intelligence. Not finding any, but what can you do?"

"Very funny."

"Just indulging in a little political discussion?"

"There's nothing wrong with that. Broadens the mind."

"Unless the politician is discussing mutiny."

"Mutiny?" Narcho asked. "Did you ever hear him use the word 'mutiny'?"

"'Let your voices be heard?'" Helo quoted back.

Narcho scowled. "Free speech is hardly the same thing as mutiny, Captain. Now move the frak out of my way. I've got a drill to run."

He started to move past him, but Helo grabbed him by the collar and thrust him back against the wall. "You're not fooling me," he snarled. "You don't come to an illicit talk given by Tom frakking Zarek just to get an education in his views. You're planning something."

Narcho pushed him away, twisting his shoulders out of his grasp. "Now that's conduct unbecoming of an officer, don't you think? Go lick Adama's boots, Agathon. It's what you're best at." He stormed away.

***

"So, the LSO on shift was Reingold, the NCO on astrometrics was Linstrum, and the lieutenant on helm control was Stewart." Jesse ticked them off on his fingers.

"Right," Louis said as they walked down the hall, side by side in duty blues. "The computers are no problem, it's just the people?"

"Something like that," Jesse laughed. "I think I've got-" Someone collided with him, and he cut off, rubbing his shoulder. Louis turned around.

"Just keep walking," he muttered to Jesse.

They'd only gotten a few more steps when someone ran into Louis, hard. This time the assailant stopped.

"Hoshi."

"Vireem." Louis had never liked the man, and did his best to step around him. "Move."

"Why should I?" Vireen demanded, stepping right up into Louis's face.

"Last time I checked, I'm your superior officer," Louis said, staring him down. Vireem didn't even flinch, and Louis was aware that Maguire and Lyle, two Pegasus Marines, had closed in. He tensed for action.

"Superior officer?" Vireem demanded. "My superior officer shouldn't be putting toaster scum like this frak into the CIC of a battlestar."

"Lieutenant Conoy is also your superior officer," Louis said, glaring daggers, "so if I was you, I'd watch my step, Specialist."

"And what are you going to do about it? Frakking toaster lover. Everyone knows what's really going on between you two." Vireem looked at Jesse. "Either you must be damn good or Hoshi here must not be picky if you can frak your way into the Colonial Fleet," he said. "Which one is it? I'm gonna bet the second one, cause after having a gimp for a-"

"Excuse me," a new voice broke in. "I can't help but overhear, and really, is this any way for civilized people to conduct themselves?"

Louis and Vireem both stared at the newcomer, and Louis had the feeling that a bad day was just about to get worse. "What do you want?" he demanded of Gaius Baltar. Baltar was flanked by two women, one of whom was wielding a length of pipe. He, however, didn't look nearly so fearsome.

"And what are you doing up here, anyway?" Louis demanded. "This section of the ship is restricted to military personnel."

"When a brother is in conflict, it is God's will that we should intervene," the woman without the pipe answered.

Louis opened his mouth to respond that he was in no way a brother, but Vireem flushed red. Louis raised his eyebrows. He wouldn't have taken Vireem to be a religious man, and if pressed, he would have put him more in the Sons of Ares camp than one of Baltar's cult members. He glanced back over his shoulder at Jesse, who shrugged.

"Go," Baltar was murmuring to Vireem. He gestured to the two women, and the pipeless one extended a hand to Vireem. The one with the pipe seemed much more cynical about the entire matter, but went along with it willingly.

"What was that all about?" Louis managed to say once Vireem and his cohorts were gone.

"If I'm not mistaken, Lieutenant Hoshi, I just saved you and your companion from a very unpleasant beating."

"Forgive me if I don't fall down in gratitude," Louis said waspishly. Every time he looked at Baltar, he could only see Felix, and all the pain that had still been there every time Baltar's name was mentioned. And although he could barely admit it, he couldn't shake the idea that when Felix had died in that Raptor, freezing and gasping for air, his last thoughts had been of Gaius, not of him.

"Lieutenant," Baltar was saying, oblivious to Louis's inner turmoil, "I did not mean to offend."

"You didn't," Jesse jumped in, although there was a muscle twitching in his cheek, and belatedly, Louis realized that Jesse must have had his own experiences with Baltar as well. "But I think it's best if you leave us to ourselves. As Lieutenant Hoshi pointed out, this is a restricted section."

"I see." Baltar stepped aside, and Jesse grabbed Louis's arm. "Lieutenant Hoshi," Baltar called as Jesse half-pulled Louis away. He couldn't help but turn. "I'm terribly sorry about Felix. I would like to talk to you about it at some time."

Louis stared at him, and then spun back around without a word and stalked off down the hall.

***

A private ran by him, and Noel watched him go, brows furrowed together as he tried to piece it together. The conclusions weren't good, and he followed the private.

Two more NCOs walked by, and he caught talk of a wager.

By the time that Noel had arrived at the scene, Twofer had Snake pinned against the wall and was pounding the shit out of him, cheered on by a knot of angry soldiers.

"What the frak is going on here?" he growled, although he knew. He knew all too well.

A few people quieted, and the wiser ones got the hell out of his sight. But otherwise, the fight continued. "Lieutenant!" Noel raised his voice to a full shout. Twofer didn't pause. Noel grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him back, sending him flying to the floor. That got his attention, and the pilot looked up at him angrily.

"What the hell are you doing?" Noel demanded.

Twofer glared up at him and answered, "Nothing, sir," between clenched teeth. Snake stumbled away from the wall, mopping at the blood on his face.

"Nothing?" Noel said. He looked at Snake, and then back down at Twofer. "Nothing usually doesn't get a man's face pounded in."

"It was just a disagreement," Snake muttered.

"Oh yeah?" he said, instead. "Well, when two pilots in my squadron are having a 'disagreement', I expect it not to result in losing one of them! You were about to bash his face in!"

"Want us to say sorry?" Twofer demanded. "Hug and make up, have a good cry?"

"I want you," Noel ground out, "to remember that you are Viper pilots in the Colonial Fleet, and I want you to frakking act like it! This is insane! I know that Earth was a wasteland, but this… this is not how we should be acting about it!"

"Then what should we be doing?" Twofer said, pulling himself to his feet. "Saying 'yes, sir' to the Admiral and the President after they led us to this hellhole, following them blindly while we wait for them to drag us to some other ass end part of the universe? Or huddle here on the ships like animals, too afraid to do anything? What the frak are we supposed to do, Narcho? Huh?"

The words hit him at the core of his soul, and he looked around at the faces that were unexpectedly awaiting his response. For a moment he just wanted to shout to frak it all, everything was a lie and nothing was ever going to get better. But he struggled and pulled himself together.

"We are the Colonial Fleet. Maybe just what's left of it, but that's what we are. And because we're all that's left, it means even more. It means more than it ever did right now.

"The Admiral will pull it together," Noel said, even though he had reservations about that himself. "He has to. He has to see what this is doing to the Fleet, what this alliance is doing to us. He's got to understand. We just have to hang on until he does."

"You've got a hell of a lot of faith in the Old Man," Snake said, wiping the blood from his mouth with his sleeve. "A lot more than I do."

"No," Noel said, "I don't. But I have a plan."

***

"We've got to do something," Lee said. "It's like dry tinder out there. All it needs is one spark, and it's going to all go up in flame."

"He's right, Bill," Tigh said. "It's getting dangerous to walk the halls of Galactica."

"I know," the Admiral sighed. "I've been getting reports." He gestured to the stack on his desk. "I've even been getting reports from Baltar concerning the situation down in Dogsville."

"Not even worth the paper they're printed on, coming from that pompous windbag," Tigh muttered. "Are you putting much stock in those?"

"I have to," Bill sighed. "They've been corroborated by several of my own officers." He sighed heavily. "Never thought I'd see the day when I admitted Gaius Baltar was right about something."

"He's not the only one saying it, if that's any consolation," Roslin said. But Lee noticed there was some steel in her voice, like she wasn't going to let the fact that the reports came from Baltar distract Adama from the matter at hand. "What are you recommending, Mr. Adama?"

Lee decided to shoot for the moon. "You step back up to President, we get this Fleet reorganized, and we find a habitable planet as fast as we can."

"And then what? Wait until the Ones, Fours, and Fives descend on us again, like they did on New Caprica?" Roslin asked, ignoring the first part of Lee's suggestion.

"Well, then, failing that we need some sort of security measures," Lee sighed. "The Marines are already overextended, and if the situation in Dogsville goes unchecked in such tight quarters, we could have a disaster on our hands."

Roslin sighed. "There aren't many options."

"No," Lee said.

She chewed on her lip. "I hesitate to bring this up," she said slowly, "and every fiber of my being goes against it, but…"

Tigh's eye widened. "Centurions?" he asked, shocked. "No. No frakking way."

"Absolutely not," Adama agreed.

"That would be our lighted match," Lee said. He picked up one of the reports that Baltar had sent up and sat back, reading it. The report- not presented in a military fashion but certainly organized by a man who'd written progress reports for a living- detailed how a new member of Baltar's congregation had exchanged words with two of the lieutenants, and Baltar had intervened. "Gods," Lee said, staring at the thing, "he makes himself sound like a savior."

"He thinks he is," Adama pointed out dryly.

Lee continued reading. "He's suggesting that his cult police Dogsville?" he asked incredulously.

"Now that's an idea," Tigh said. They all turned to look at him. "What?" he asked. "At least make the frakkers useful. Baltar's crazy as a loon, but they'll all respond better to a gun in his hands than they will to Centurions walking around Galactica."

"The Centurions or Baltar," Roslin said, closing her eyes. "Are we sure there are no more options?"

"We can wait a few days," Adama suggested, "see if one presents itself."

It wasn't the answer Lee hoped for, but bereft of any other options himself, he nodded. "There's one other thing," he said. "Helo told me that Zarek's been giving speeches from his cell. That some of the Marines are letting people in, and that he's giving them his old song and dance."

"The 'help, help, I'm being repressed version'?" Roslin asked.

"With a side of 'tyranny' and the 'aristocracy of the Adamas'," Lee added. He pressed his lips together.

"I'll change the Marines guarding his cell," Adama said.

Lee nodded. "Subtle enough to not be obviously trampling on free speech," he said sourly. He put the report back on his father's desk. His father made no move to dismiss them, and Lee sighed. "If that's all," he said, "I need to get back to work."

"Go ahead," Adama said.

Lee glanced significantly at Roslin and Tigh, and then sighed and headed for the door. His shuttle was leaving in fifteen minutes. At least this was one thing he didn't have to sell to the Quorum. Thank the gods (or Baltar's God) for small favors.

***

"Gaius Baltar," Roslin drawled. She looked bad, Saul thought, shaky when she stood, and too thin. But a spark was slowly coming back to her eyes.

"What do you think?" he asked, leaning forward. Bill was in the head- they didn't have long.

"I think Bill will never allow it," she said. She sighed. "But I'm thinking he might have to."

Saul nodded absently. "He's drinking a lot more these days," he ventured. "Not that I'm one to talk, but…"

"I've noticed," Roslin said. Her eyes dared him to say more, and Saul had a feeling this wasn't a good time to push his luck.

"All right then," he said. He sighed and sat back on the couch.

"I guess it's just a good thing that Zarek's still locked up," she said. "This is the sort of thing that's bread and butter to him."

"The problem doesn't go away without Zarek," Saul said.

"No," Roslin agreed, "but it does seem to become easier to contain."

***

For the most part, the Admiral put Jesse on the same shift as Louis. Louis was fairly certain that wasn't accidental, but he didn't comment. Jesse also moved over to the Galactica, taking a bunk in the officer's quarters and only occasionally returning to the baseship. And even when they went to Joe's, Jesse had a tendency to wear military clothing rather than the clothing he'd worn in his civilian life. There were only two things he didn't change; he kept the goatee as it distinguished him from other Twos, and he refused to remove his wedding ring.

But despite Jesse's efforts, the crew of Galactica either avoided him or treated him extremely cautiously, like they were afraid he would blow them up. And as Louis stubbornly stuck by Jesse's side, people treated him much the same way. Which was why he was completely shocked when they were playing Triad one night in the rec room, and Amy Sian and Abel Thornton approached their table.

"Got room for two more?" Thornton asked.

Louis blinked. "Sure," he said, glancing at Jesse. He moved over a little. "Jesse, you've met Abel and Amy, right?"

"Yes." Jesse smiled as he pulled all the cards in and began to reshuffle. "Although I haven't seen either of you around much."

"We aren't," Amy admitted. "We have a one year old, so we have family quarters, and not a whole lot of time. But every now and then…"

"Family living can get a little crowded?" Louis asked.

Amy sighed exasperatedly. "It's just nice to talk to someone about something besides communications or what color the ducky is and what sound a cow makes!"

"Doesn't Abel make the farm animal sounds?" Louis asked.

"He does an excellent pig," Amy admitted, and Abel made a face at her. An awkward silence descended for a moment, and Jesse dealt the cards.

"So," Jesse asked, after the first round had been played, "how did you two meet?"

Abel was studying his cards. "Well, Amy's been on the Galactica for five years or so. I was on the Pegasus. Hoshi and I have worked together for, what, eight years?" he asked.

"Something like that," Louis agreed. "Both of us used to be NCOs before we finally went to OCS, so both of us were older than most of the lower-ranked CIC staff. And we were both did stints on smaller vessels, so we had quite a bit in common." He shrugged.

"But anyway, when the Pegasus found the Galactica, I found Amy," Abel said. Amy smiled, and Louis resisted making a face. "It's kind of boring, really- we both work in the CIC. I was doing off-shift tactical and she does communications and…" he trailed off, glancing at Louis.

Louis tried to smile. "Adama gave orders," he said, "tactical officers have to be involved with communications officers." But his voice cracked a bit, and the table fell silent again. Abel shot an apologetic look at Louis.

Jesse cleared his throat. "Did you go down to New Caprica?" he asked.

Amy shook her head. "No, we stayed up here. It took us a while to get our act together, but then I got pregnant with Nora, and hey, nothing like a shotgun wedding." But her smile and the look in Abel's eyes made it pretty clear that they'd only been hesitating on the formalities, not the feelings. She drew another card and rearranged the hand. "I understand you were married," she began. "If you don't mind me asking, how did that come about?"

Jesse tapped his fingers on the tabletop, formulating his answer as he contemplated his cards. Finally, he made his play and tossed in a marker. "It's funny. I'm not really sure how I met her or how it started. I just remember always knowing her. We had an affinity for each other, and it just developed from there. Not very dramatic, I know-"

"But about the same as working together in the CIC," Amy finished with a smile.

Louis looked away for a moment, and as he did he realized that several tables were watching them. The best expressions were curious or furtive, but there were some that were outright dark and angry. He caught Racetrack's eye, and she looked away. At the same table, Showboat whispered something to Skulls, and he laughed, looking at Jesse. After the accusations Vireem had thrown in the hallway a few days ago, Louis could guess what sort of rumor that was. He flushed and focused on his cards.

Amy and Jesse were still talking, and their conversation had become much more fluid. Louis glanced at Abel, and saw that his shoulders were tense. "You don't have to sit with us, you know," he said quietly. "I know what it's going to do to people's perceptions of you both."

"We know that," Abel said, and his face hardened. "We're sitting here because we chose to. We're all CIC, and that should mean something. I'm not going to lie and say I'm okay with him being a Cylon, but damn it, he's one of the few that's done something to show us that they aren't all just piss and wind when they talk about allying with us." Abel looked back down at his cards. "If we aren't going to blow them all up, then we need to come to some other solution."

Louis nodded. "Okay, then. I'm not going to argue with you about it, that's for sure." He and Jesse had gotten so close that Louis hadn't realized just how rarely he socialized with anyone else anymore, and even sitting here with Amy and Abel he suddenly had an intense surge of loneliness. "I'm just glad you've joined us."

"Me, too," Abel said, and then raised his voice. "I'm going to have to fold. That means the hand goes to Amy, and I believe it's my turn to deal."

Jesse smiled at Louis, and Louis smiled back. A card game with coworkers wasn't much, but it was definitely a start.

***

The baseship was the most unnerving place that he'd ever been in his life, and the woman he faced was easily the most intimidating he'd ever seen, although he never would have thought that before. But she was a Cylon, and she found the idea of the alliance just as repugnant as he did.

"After everything that's happened between our two races," he said, shifting uncomfortably on the strange, sleek furniture that the Cylons favored, "there is absolutely no way we can trust each other. The idea is too frakked to be comprehensible."

"I agree," she said smoothly. "But there are details of your plan that I'm not particularly fond of."

"Like what?"

She crossed her legs, in control. "If we need to kill any of the Final Five, we need to kill them," she said matter-of-factly. "There's nothing special or sacred about them. But the Cylons don't believe that. I want to go with the Cylons when this is over. If they know I even threatened to kill one of the Five, they would turn on me. They can't know."

"We can work with that. If either of us want integration back into our societies, we can't let this be public. We're trying to get the leaders to step down, not effect an all out civil war. You have a list of prospects?"

"I do. And you?"

He nodded.

"So this is what we'll do? We're in agreement?"

"We do this," he said, "and we both go our separate ways. As little violence as necessary, and once we've parted, we don't hunt the other side down. Just a clean break."

"Agreed." The woman stood up. "I'm glad there's at least one human with some sense."

"And at least one Cylon," he said, standing to face her. As the walls of the baseship flared red, Tory Foster and Noel Allison shook hands.

Chapter Text

The private opened the hatch. "Your coffee, Colonel."

"Thank you." Saul hadn't slept, but Caprica was stretched out on the bed. The pregnancy was still exhausting her, and the nausea wasn't really improving. Cottle had said that medicine could be dangerous, and the normal prescription would be bananas, rice, apples, and tea… none of which came in algae flavor. Saul sighed and poured her a cup of coffee and took it over to the bed.

"Sleep all right?" he asked as she woke up, rubbing her eyes.

"Yes, thank you." She took the coffee from him carefully, readjusting the sheets a little. "It smells…"

"It smells like algae," he said, and Caprica laughed.

"I wanted to say swamp rot." She blew on the mug and then sipped it cautiously. "It actually tastes a bit better today."

"Yeah?" Saul retrieved his own cup and tried a sip. It was searing hot, but Caprica was right. It did have a slightly more pleasant flavor. "Well, I'll be damned. They must be getting better at it."

"Your mess staff has really had their hands full, haven't they?" Caprica asked. "They really haven't found any other food source?"

"They've had a little luck with hydroponics," Saul said, "but nothing yet that will feed an entire Fleet. If we find a place that's got better food, my guess is the Old Man will have us settle there."

"As long as the system isn't about to go supernova," Caprica said wryly.

Saul laughed. "Well, yeah."

They drank their coffee companionably, and she felt it first. "Saul?" she said, reaching out. He stared at her, wanting to speak but unable to form words. Her face blurred, and he felt the burn as he dropped his cup of coffee and it soaked through his pants leg.

His last conscious thought was that whatever these frakkers had put into their coffee, it had better not hurt the baby.

***

There was a loud scuffle outside the door. Sharon looked at Helo, trying to simultaneously broadcast her concern to him and hide it from Hera. Helo caught the message and moved nonchalantly towards the door, picking up a sidearm as he went. A clatter, a clang, and a scream… Helo whipped the door open.

"Captain Agathon." It was Lieutenant Thornton, from the CIC. There was a nasty-looking wound on the side of his head, two unconscious deckhands on the floor, and he was holding his sobbing one-year old daughter on his hip. "You've got to get out of here. Right now," he said.

Sharon stood up. "Abel? Where's Amy?"

"They took her," Thornton gasped. "It's okay, baby. We'll get away from them," he said to the sobbing child. He hugged her close, and she clung to his tanks. "And they're coming for you."

"For us?" Helo asked, looking back at Sharon and Hera. "Who's coming for us?"

"I don't know," Thornton said, batting irritably at the blood trickling down the side of his face. "I couldn't see their faces. Amy handed me Nora and told me to run, and she took the gun and tried to fight them off. I wanted to help her, but…"

"It's okay," Helo said soothingly. Sharon began putting a few things into a bag. "Let's get you to the infirmary."

"But-"

"The infirmary can be locked down if we need to," Helo said. He looked over at Sharon. "You getting Hera?"

Sharon scooped her up. "All ready. Lieutenant Thornton, how do you know they're coming for us?"

"I heard them talking about it," he said. "You, the Tighs, Anders, Lee Adama, Lieutenant Hoshi…"

"What do they want?"

"I don't know."

There was a click as Helo turned the safety off his gun. "We'll figure it out once we're at sickbay," he told Thornton and Sharon. "Let's go."

***

Eight full hours of sleep. If nothing else, it had been worth having Jesse work in the CIC just for those eight wonderful hours of sleep.

Louis rounded a corner. It felt good to be back in this routine of a run before early duty. Galactica was as quiet as she ever got, and it was actually possible to think. And he found that when he ran, especially when he ran alone those days that Jesse was working the graveyard shift, he could actually think about Felix. It still hurt just as much, but when he was running, it was a little easier to bear.

Felix used to run with him occasionally. Louis smiled grimly. If he didn't turn his head, he could almost make himself believe that Felix was right there beside him.

"You can't tell me you believe that the gods are controlling everything we do," Felix panted as they ran. His words might have sounded harsh, but he was smiling.

"Of course I don't," Louis agreed. "Destiny is bullshit. But when you look at the billions of steps that have to happen for life- any life- to come to fruition… there are so many ways that it can go wrong. Really, it's nothing short of a miracle that life exists. Something must guide that process."

"What's wrong with randomness?" Felix laughed. "Survival of the fittest? Adaptation and all that?"

"But why emotion?" Louis pressed as they rounded a corner.

Felix shrugged. "Ever had a dog? They have emotion. Not sure they believe in the gods. If emotion is proof of the gods, then why don't dogs worship Zeus?"

"Maybe they do. Do you speak canine fluently?" They both laughed at that.

"I've got a way we can settle this once and for all," Felix said, coming to a stop. Louis stopped as well. "From here to the corner up there. We race. If you win, it's because the gods exist and they're proving themselves in your victory. If I win, the gods don't exist at all."

"That's a fallacy in itself. You could always-"

"Ready, set… go!" Felix was off.

They pounded down the hall, startling a petty officer out of their way. Louis won, just by a step or two. He pumped his fist in the air. "Score one for the gods! Get out your prayer beads, because they're coming for a reckoning."

Felix laughed. They were standing so very close, and this close Louis could see a little stubble where Felix had missed with a razor. Felix met his eyes, and the laughter faded. But he didn't step away, and Louis knew he wasn't imagining the sparks between them. They were almost touching. He bent his head down, just a little, and Felix tilted his face upwards and-

Someone grabbed him from behind. He turned with the force of it, and met immediately with a punch to the gut and then to the face.

He tried to fight back, but two other masked figures had grabbed his arms, and he wasn't strong enough to break their grip. He struggled, but they pulled him back into an empty storage locker, and the hatch slammed shut.

"What the frak?" he demanded as Gage appeared in front of him. The other three took off their masks, and Louis recognized them all. Vireem, Maguire, and Lyle. He wasn't sure if things had just gotten marginally better or much, much worse.

"What's the meaning of this, Specialist?" he asked, addressing Gage.

Gage grinned. It was an ugly, angry smile, and it sent chills up Louis's spine. "You're a traitor," he told Louis.

"Oh, really?" Louis answered, with a confidence he didn't feel. "Because last time I checked, attacking a superior officer would be the definition of traitor."

Gage nodded to Vireem, and the side of Louis's face exploded with pain as Vireem struck him again. The punch was hard enough that it would have sent him to the floor if the Marines weren't still holding him by the arms. He came up slowly. "You listening, Hoshi?" Gage asked him.

"It's Lieutenant Hoshi," Louis corrected him. And he wasn't surprised when Vireem hit him again, but this time in the abdomen. Something cracked, and he doubled over in pain.

Gage stepped closer, so he was right up in Louis's face. "You're a frakking traitor," he repeated. "Wouldn't have ever thought it, given that you were one of Admiral Cain's pets. But you put that frakking toaster in the CIC, at my station in my shift. You allied with the enemy. You gave them comfort. You betrayed us, Hoshi, and you're going to pay."

Louis swallowed hard. "Oh yeah? How?"

"You know how traitors were punished on the Pegasus," Gage said.

"What, you're going to take my own sidearm and shoot me in the head with it?" Louis asked, trying to keep his voice steady. "If you are, you've got quite a walk to go and get it."

Gage looked at the others, and they all laughed. They laughed. "No, you stupid frak," he said. "That's how Cain punished people who didn't obey her orders. Traitors… people who betrayed her trust… she punished them a whole different way." It took a minute of wide-eyed, growing terror for Louis to comprehend what Gage meant. It was only when Gage began undoing his own pants that he realized this was real and began to struggle again. "Not that you'd get it," Gage continued casually, "you were enough of a pussy that you never went down there. But let me tell you… there was no better revenge on that bitch, and you're about to find that out." Louis's struggle became even more desperate, panic lending him strength. But he still couldn't get free- they had him too tightly.

"What's the matter, Hoshi?" Vireem sneered. "Your toaster boyfriend isn't here to save you, is he? Well, don't worry. You'll be seeing him soon enough, and you can cry into his shoulder about how life's not fair and you need the big strong Cylons to protect you. Frakking collaborator." Vireem punched him across the cheek, and the sharp, ferric taste of blood filled his mouth. He tried to kick, to punch… anything, but nothing worked.

"Hold him down," Gage ordered. Louis's face was slammed into the metal grating of the wall, and Maguire and Lyle pinned him down tight. Gage kicked his legs apart and yanked down his sweats. "Get ready, boys," he said. "This is gonna be fun."

***

The cell door swung open, and Lee looked up from where he knelt over Tyrol, who was sprawled on the floor. A masked man in a pilot's uniform carried in a prone body, dumped it on the bed, and then left. "A Six?" Anders said from where he was sitting on the floor, propped against a cot, his voice a little slurred from whatever drug they'd given him.

"That's Sonja," Lee said. "She was with me on the Raptor. They told us that we were meeting with some of the ships' captains on Galactica for security purposes. Security." He looked around the room. Against the far wall, Tigh was huddled over Caprica Six, who still hadn't woken up. Not far from them, Private Jaffee was helping Amy Sian staunch the flow of blood from a nasty looking wound in her thigh. In the opposite corner, Jesse Conoy was sitting in the corner, still in his duty blues, holding Anders' sweatshirt to his bleeding forehead. Another Two was stretched out on a cot, and another Six was lying on the floor nearby. Lee backed away from Tyrol and leaned against the wall, as close to the door as he could get.

"They get you?" Anders asked him.

Lee winced as he tried to move his arm. "Dislocated my shoulder," he scowled. "The bastards followed me when I got off the Raptor; got me in the head of all places. I don't suppose you'd feel like causing me excruciating pain by helping me pop it back in."

"Well, when you put it that way…" Anders said. He blinked, and then scrubbed his face with his hands. "Yeah. I think I'm coherent enough to do this."

"Just the words of confidence I wanted to hear," Lee muttered.

"Relax," Anders said. "I used to do this all the time for the C-Bucs." Oddly enough, that was reassuring. Anders gestured for him to sit, and then took his forearm. "You ready?"

"Yeah." Lee grit his teeth.

Anders wasn't lying. Lee yelled as Anders rotated his arm, but the shoulder immediately popped into place, and the relief flooded his entire body. "Thanks," he said, rubbing it.

"Don't use the arm too much for a bit," Anders cautioned. "Not that we're going anywhere. I-" The cell door opened again, cutting him off, and man in a mask brought another captive in, this one in tanks and sweats, his face a bloody mess.

"Now just sit tight," the captor ordered. "Not that you'll want to sit any time soon." The hostage turned and spat in his face, a blood-red froth that hit the mask and dripped down. The captor struck him across the face, and he collapsed on the floor as the door slammed shut again.

"Good gods," Lee breathed, as he and Anders cautiously approached. "Is that…?"

"Louis." Jesse scooted over, worried.

"What the frak?" Tigh demanded, actually leaving Caprica's side. He turned the man over. "Hoshi? Lieutenant Hoshi, on your feet." Hoshi didn't move.

"He's breathing," Anders said.

Tigh quickly did a rudimentary check. "Clear a bed," he ordered.

Jesse tried to struggle to his feet to help, but Anders gently shifted Sonja to the floor before he could stand. "Take care of her," he ordered Jesse. Between Tigh and Anders, they got Hoshi to the bed. Lee watched anxiously, still rubbing unconsciously at his shoulder.

Tyrol groaned, and Lee hurried back over and helped him. "What's going on?" Tyrol asked as he tried to sit up.

"We're hostages, as near as I can figure. What happened to you?"

"I was down on the deck early, and one of my guys gave me coffee…" Tyrol rubbed his head. "I just remember everything getting blurry. Frak! Nicky-" he looked around frantically.

"He's not in here," Lee reassured him. "Whoever's running this is targeting very specific people. They're all Cylons or people who've spoken out for the alliance."

"Hmm." Tyrol looked around at the cell, his face darkening. "What about Tory?"

"She hasn't set foot off the baseship, and everyone here's been taken on Galactica, I think," Lee said. "She should be okay. I haven't seen the Agathons, either."

"Yeah, and they'd be favorites," Tyrol sighed. "Frak!" he swore, slamming his open hand against the floor.

"Yeah," Lee sighed, sitting down beside him, "my thoughts exactly."

***

"Abel's a good guy. She'll be safe in the sickbay," Helo said to Sharon as they made their way down the hall. He had the air of someone trying to convince himself.

"I know," Sharon said. She gripped her gun tightly, watching every face that passed her, wondering how many people were in on this thing and who they could trust. "Cottle said he'd lock down." She didn't voice her worry that someone in sickbay might be in on this whole mess- not so much for Helo's sake, but because if she did, she wouldn't be able to focus on what needed to be done.

The CIC wasn't any more heavily guarded than usual, and Sharon slipped her gun into her belt. Whatever was going on, it wasn't centered in the CIC.

"What the…?" Helo began. Sharon followed his view and her own eyes widened as she saw Admiral Adama sitting in Gaeta's old seat, typing something into the console. Starbuck was standing at the center console, watching the DRADIS screen.

"Sir," Helo said, darting down the stairs. "What's going on?"

"I'm hoping someone can tell me that," Adama said, standing up. "Take the tactical station, Mr. Agathon." He turned around. "Specialist Gage, have anyone found Colonel Tigh?"

"Not yet, sir," Gage said from the comm station. "Deck Chief Laird says he hasn't been down there, and Cottle says he hasn't been in sickbay."

Sharon narrowed her eyes, but before she could say anything, Helo spoke up. "Sir," he said, even as he adjusted a dial, "Lieutenant Thornton was attacked. He said that Petty Officer Sian was taken."

"Taken where?"

"No one knows, sir."

Adama scowled. "How many does that make that we know of, Starbuck?"

"At least six missing, sir."

"This shouldn't be happening on my ship," Adama growled. "I want names, and I want them now!"

"Admiral," Gage shouted. "There's a communication you'd better hear."

"Put it on speaker," Adama ordered.

"Adama?" a voice on the other end asked. Sharon cocked her head, listening. Whoever was speaking was disguising their voice somehow, and the words were fuzzy.

"This is the Admiral," Adama bit out. "You have my attention."

"I'm sure I do. I'm sure you've noticed that some of your people are missing."

"Where are they?"

"You know I'm not going to tell you that, Admiral. You're not stupid."

"I'll play along long enough to ask who you've got," Adama growled. "Give me the list."

"Jaffee, Sian, Hoshi, Conoy, Tyrol, Anders, and Tigh," the voice said. "As well as a few you shouldn't care quite so much about."

"Cylons?"

"You figure it out."

"What do you want?"

"We want the alliance ended. We want Laura Roslin to step down as President, and for Tom Zarek to be sworn in as the rightful president. We want the Cylons- all of the Cylons- out of the Colonial Fleet. And you will surrender yourself to us. You have one hour to accomplish this. If you refuse, Jaffee dies."

"You son of a-" the line went dead before Adama could finish his sentiment. "Frak!" He slammed his fist against the console, his face contorted in rage. He took a few deep breaths, and then spun around. "Specialist Gage! Where did that transmission come from?"

"Um… I'm not sure, sir."

"Well, find out."

"Yes, sir."

"Has there been any suspicious Raptor traffic?" Sharon asked the LSO.

Captain Reingold shook her head. "I've been checking it over, and confirmed it with Deck Chief Laird. All of the Raptors are accounted for."

"They've got to be on this ship," Helo said. "It's a safe bet that if they've got Jaffee, they've got the others."

Adama nodded.

"What are you going to do, sir?" Sharon asked.

"We've got to find our people," Adama said. He glanced back at Starbuck. "Let's get on that right now."

***

Saul stared down at the officer on the bed. To his relief, Hoshi opened his eyes. He blinked uncomprehendingly up at Saul.

"Where am I?"

"We're in the brig. I need a sitrep, Lieutenant. What happened?"

"I was running," Hoshi said. "I was running and…" the memory was coming back to him, and he turned white. He began to shake, and Saul cocked his head. Hoshi wasn't someone he'd put money on in a Dance, but you also didn't survive the CIC of the Pegasus by being a coward.

"You got names for me?" he asked.

Hoshi nodded, and Saul could see him struggling to pull himself together. "Yeah," he said, biting it out. "Gage, Maguire, Lyle, and Vireem."

"All Pegasus guys," Saul observed. "And none of them the type to dream something like this up on their own. That's more than anyone else has gotten, anyway." Hoshi looked away. "Can you move?" Saul asked him.

Hoshi started to sit up. Saul grabbed his arm and helped him. His face looked bad, but all of the damage looked fairly superficial- a cut lip, a swollen eye, a cheek that was already bruising. The worst was a gash on his forehead, but the blood was already clotting. Hoshi tried to take a deep breath, and winced as he did so, his hand flying to his ribcage. But he was able to slowly get to his feet.

"Can you walk?"

Hoshi took a step and involuntarily cried out. Saul caught him by the arm. "Leg?" he asked, but it didn't look like it. There was a bloodstain on the back of his pants.

Hoshi shook his head. "No, sir. It's nothing," he said, not looking at Saul. He sat back down.

"Louis." Jesse came over. He reached out, but Hoshi flinched away.

"Stay away from me," he snarled.

Jesse jerked back, hurt written all over his face as he looked pleadingly at Saul for answers. Saul shook his head. "Louis, I just wanted-"

"I know," was the tiny allowance that Hoshi made. "But you're the reason they did this to me. Get away from me. Now. Before they come back. I don't want them to-" he broke off. "Just get away from me. I can't…" A spasm of pain crossed the lieutenant's face.

That was when the pieces fell together, and Saul had a damn good idea of what had happened. And he sure as hell didn't want to know any more about it. He reached out and gripped Hoshi's shoulder sympathetically, but Hoshi shrugged him off. "Come on," he said to Jesse. "Give him some space, son." Hurt and confused, Jesse backed away as well. Looking at the blood still trickling from his forehead, Saul sighed. "You've got problems of your own. Sit down and keep pressure on that wound."

"Yes, sir."

"Is Hoshi okay?" Lee asked when Saul moved over to check on Tyrol.

"Yeah," Saul lied. "What have we got?"

"No more than we started with," Lee said. "We've got twelve unarmed people- five humans and seven Cylons- in a big box. I'm not sure I can come up with much more."

Tigh looked around and sighed. "Well, frak."

***

"Sir?" Helo said, entering the war room. "I've done a few inquiries and I've found out that there some Cylons missing."

"Who?" Adama asked.

"There's a Six that's been working with Deck Chief Laird on the FTL drives, and a Two that's been working with Cottle as a nurse."

"The ones I shouldn't care so much about," Adama grunted. He looked down at the table.

"There's only so many places they can be," Starbuck said. She, Adama, and Sharon were studying the blueprints of the ship, spread out over the war table. Helo took his place between Starbuck and Sharon. "The problem is, I don't know who the frak we can trust."

Sharon rubbed her forehead. "Oh, frak," she said, finally putting the pieces together.

"What?" Starbuck asked.

"Gage."

"What about him?" Adama cut in.

"I think he lied about talking to Cottle."

"Yeah," Helo agreed slowly. "Cottle would have told you that Thornton was down there with Nora and Hera."

"Unless someone down there's got a gun to the doc's head." Kara looked at the clock. Ten minutes and change left before the allotted hour was up. "But we don't have time to search all of these places, and I'm not sure who we can trust to search them. They've grabbed enough people that this isn't just one or two kidnappers, sir. This is organized."

"I know," Adama ground out.

"Sir," Sharon began, "I have an idea."

"Go ahead, Lieutenant."

"I can interface with Galactica. When the kidnappers call back, I can figure out where they're calling from. We can go from there."

"It's not fast enough for Jaffee," Adama said.

"We don't have much of a choice," Kara pointed out. "Gage already said he can't trace the call. Either he's completely incompetent-"

"Not an implausibility," Helo muttered.

"Or he's lying," Kara finished. "Do we take him off Communications?"

"No," Sharon said. "If he's in on it, it will alert the kidnappers that we're on to them, and they might just shoot all of them. If he's just dumb… well, they've got Sian, Hoshi, and Conoy. We can't do anything about him until we know where the calls are coming from and what we're doing."

Adama considered. "All right," he said to Sharon. "Do it."

Sharon looked at Helo. "Get me a knife."

***

And you will surrender yourself to us.

Through all the fury, all the anger and planning he knew had to be done, a whisper of that kept cutting through to Bill's consciousness. He stared down at the war table, his fingers tightening on the edge until the knuckles became white.

His life for theirs. He could feel the well of guilt, rising up and threatening to drown him. He pushed it down angrily. This was not a time to feel responsible for these lives, because he was not the one putting them in danger. His only responsibility was to rescue his men, not hand himself over to a rat of a terrorist.

He tried to piece out which of his men could be behind this. At one time, he would have had a good guess. What alarmed him now is he really had no idea.

***

Noel paced the office that was used to observe prisoners in the reinforced cell. "Would you relax?" Tory demanded. "You're driving me insane."

"Sorry if I'm not resting easy knowing that I have to kill a man in…" Noel glanced at his watch, "seven minutes."

Tory shrugged. "Sacrifices must be made. That's how it goes. But I suppose the possibility exists that the Admiral or the Cylons will listen. The Eight that I've been communicating with is extremely practical, I think. She might surrender, even if the Admiral doesn't."

Noel glared at her. "You know they won't. Not until we show them we're serious."

Tory shrugged again. She'd always known that, Noel realized. It was him who kept hoping that the Admiral would see reason.

Noel looked into the cell. The hostages were huddled in groups, no doubt trying to figure out how to escape. They wouldn't… he knew that. He looked away.

At a table by the door, Vireem, Maguire, and Lyle were playing cards to pass the time. They seemed to find something extremely amusing, and Noel stepped closer to pick up the conversation.

"Did you hear how he squealed?" Lyle was saying, and Maguire and Vireem were laughing, especially as Lyle began to make sounds that made the hair on the back of Noel's neck stand on end. "Never heard a man make a noise like that."

"Almost sounded like he was enjoying it," Maguire added.

"Well, when all you've been frakking is a toaster for the past few weeks, a real man's gotta feel different," Vireem said. "Gods, you really think he let that toaster-"

Noel swallowed his nausea and found his voice. "That's enough," he ordered in a voice that could cut stone. The specialist and two Marines jerked to attention guiltily. "Tell me you did not do what I'm thinking you did." No one answered, but Maguire looked down at his cards. "TELL ME!" Noel roared, slamming his hands down in the midst of the game.

It was Vireem who met his eyes. "What's it matter? We're only going to kill him anyway."

"There's a difference between killing a man and destroying him first," Noel snarled. "We're still human, Specialist. That's the whole frakking point."

"Narcho," Tory interrupted, her face unreadable as she watched the tableau in front of her. "It's just about time."

Noel shoved away from the table, scattering the cards. "When I'm done with this…" he muttered, and then shook his head. "Go get Jaffee and the Two that's in there. Not the one in the Fleet- the other Two. Bring them out into the hall, and make sure they're cuffed." The two Marines stood and saluted, but Vireem skipped the salute as he slunk out the door. Noel watched him go, wondering just how bad an idea it was to bring this crowd in on this.

"They're right," Tory said. "You're going to have to kill him. You know the Admiral won't back down in time for Jaffee, and he probably won't for Sian or Hoshi, either. He won't back down until you've got someone he actually cares about under your gun. But he's got to believe you will shoot them."

"And what about you?" Noel fired back. "Is this really that easy for you? You're a Cylon, and you're killing your own."

"I'm a Cylon who remembers nothing about being a Cylon," Tory riposted. "But believe me, I remember being a human under the Cylon occupation. Which, might I add, is more than you can say."

"If you hate the Cylons so much, then why go with them?" Noel asked. "Why not stay with the humans?"

"With the way the humans treat Cylons? Even the Final Five?" Tory snorted. "Give me a reason why I should want to stay with the humans."

"The destruction of the Colonies means nothing to you?"

"I guess not, considering it wasn't really my home." Tory glanced at her watch and then held out the phone. "Make the call," she ordered. "It's time."

***

The phone rang. Sharon 's eyes glazed over, and Bill knew she was chasing the signal.

"Admiral," the voice on the line was saying, "are you ready to agree to our conditions?"

"Never," Bill answered, fury coursing through him. "You won't get away with this."

"It won't matter," the voice said, a tinge of sadness in it. "Jaffee will be dead."

"You don't have the guts."

A gunshot.

"Yes, Admiral. I do. You have one hour, and then Petty Officer Sian dies."

The line went dead, and a part of Bill did, too.

***

The body slumped to the floor, and Noel stared at it. He should be shocked, horrified… but he felt nothing.

This is what being dead must feel like.

Jaffee's eyes were still open. Noel knelt beside him and closed them.

"It was a merciful death," Tory said, standing over him. "The human condition is never going to improve. You spared him that."

"Forgive me if I don't feel like the pinnacle of benevolence," Noel snapped. "Make your call."

Tory took the phone. She'd been the one to manipulate the wires in the receiver so their voices were distorted, with such ease that Noel wondered if she'd done things like this before. She didn't look at all surprised when the Cylons refused to end the alliance as well, and the Two joined Jaffee on the floor, his eyes open and lifeless.

Tory stepped over the body as she left the room, barely glancing down. Noel stayed by Jaffee's body bowed his head.

***

"The brig," Sharon gasped, pulling the cable out of her arm. Helo helped her, immediately covering the wound with a bandage. "Not the one on B deck, but the one down on the C level. The one built for Cylons." She didn't say my cell, but she couldn't help thinking it.

"Sir, we could take a Marine detachment-" Helo began, but Adama shook his head.

"No. We can't send a large detachment in. They'll see us coming and they'll kill all the hostages before we get there."

"Sir," Kara was still studying the blueprints, "we could send a small force in via a… less conventional route."

"Less conventional?"

Kara looked like she was struggling to keep a straight face. Sharon grinned as she saw it, because whenever Kara got that expression, she knew the resultant idea would work.

"Air ducts, sir. Ventilation shafts."

Helo stared at her. "You're joking. Kara, this isn't a bad Virgon space opera."

"Could have fooled me," Kara said, with a spark of life in her smile. "But look, sir," she said, pointing again to the plans. "The ducts cut straight through here. If the captives are in the brig, the leaders are likely to be in the observation room here. There's a vent right down the hall from it. We should be able to get down the hallway before they can kill the hostages. Position the Marines here," she indicated a spot just around the corner from the brig, "until we have the leaders secured. Once we've got them they can come in and take out the other guards."

Adama studied the blueprints and nodded. "All right," he said. "You have your orders. Secure the hostages, and I want the kidnappers in custody. Use of lethal force is authorized, but only if absolutely necessary."

"Are you staying in the CIC, sir?" Sharon asked.

Adama shook his head. "I'm getting the President and we're going to the holding cell up on the B deck," he said. "I think I know who's behind all of this."

***

The Marines were still outside the hatch to his quarters, and Bill breathed a sigh of relief. Whoever was behind this hadn't gone after Laura… yet. He opened the hatch and went back to his personal quarters, where Laura was still lying in bed, the covers wrapped around her.

"Bill?" she murmured, opening her eyes. "What's going on? Why are you here?"

"I'm not sure," he admitted. "But I need you in on this."

"Trouble?" she asked, like it was a curiosity.

"Zarek."

She sat up. If he wasn't so worried and the situation wasn't so precarious, he'd be amused at how the mere mention of Zarek's name could stir Laura into action. "What's happening?" she demanded, reaching for her glasses.

"We're missing people. Sian, Hoshi, Jaffee, Tigh-" the last two particularly hurt to say.

"Saul isn't working with Zarek," Laura immediately denied, and then the realization of what he really meant dawned. "But someone else is. Who is it, Bill?"

"I don't know," he admitted. "But they're holed up down in the detention cell we built for the Cylons, and they've already killed Jaffee. They want an end to the alliance, Zarek's instatement as President… and me."

"You?" Laura eased herself out of the bed and reached for her wig. "They want you to trade your life for the hostages?"

"Death wasn't mentioned, but I'd presume so." He looked away. "I feel a little guilty for not even considering it," he admitted.

"Don't," Laura ordered. "This administration has never negotiated with terrorists, and we're not going to start now." She pulled her shirt over her head and zipped up her skirt. "Besides, if Saul Tigh found out that you gave in to them to save him, they wouldn't have to kill you. He'd do it himself."

She smiled as she said that, but her words cut through the doubt he was having and solidified his resolve. He nodded and squeezed her arm, and then held her suit jacket for her. "We have to hurry," he said. "They're executing a hostage every hour, and I've got every reason to take them seriously."

Laura nodded. "It does sound like the sort of underhanded thing that Zarek would do," she agreed. "Let's go."

***

"I'm sorry, but you think I what?" Tom Zarek stared at them incredulously for a long moment, and then began to laugh.

Bill glanced at Laura, and she wasn't amused either. She stood with her hands on her hips. The wig made her look sterner than her natural hair did, and she had put on a suit for the first time since the Fleet had found Earth. "I'm not joking, Tom. You're perfectly capable of engineering something like this."

"Well, yes, but from a jail cell?" Zarek shook his head. "You're giving me too much credit, Laura."

"Call them." Bill picked up a receiver. "Call them and tell them to end this madness."

Zarek leaned his arms on the cell bars. "Now why would I want to do that?" he asked. "They're calling for my confirmation as President and an end to the human-Cylon alliance. Give me a reason I would want to call them."

"It's called an airlock," Laura said shortly.

Tom considered that. "It's not going to work, Laura," he said.

Laura raised her eyebrows. "Oh, no?"

Tom sighed. "No. I know you both think I'm a power hungry maniac," he said with a little smirk, "but I'm realistic enough to know that whoever these people are… they aren't loyal to me. They're looking for a leader, for hope, for a system that works. They're looking to make sense out of this mess, and they're looking for anyone who will give them that. So me calling them from a brig cell and telling them to obey the nice dictators isn't going to drive them to free these people because they love me. It will convince them that they were wrong about me, and then they'll start calling for someone else's confirmation. That's all it will do, is change the terms of the surrender." He shrugged. "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to look somewhere else."

***

"We're going to have to go into the cell ourselves next time," Tory said. "Now that they know what we're doing, they'll fight us. We've got to make it quick." Noel watched the prisoners in the cell and didn't answer.

The door opened, and Racetrack and Skulls came in. Racetrack took a step back as she saw the bodies in the next room.

"This is real," she murmured.

Noel watched her carefully, alarm bells going off in his head. He really, really didn't want to have to deal with one of his people changing her mind. It could blow everything, and this was too important. But Racetrack swallowed hard.

"We need to get these two up to the B deck where they can be found," he told them, pointing down at Jaffee and the Two. "Immediately, so Adama knows this isn't a joke or a setup. As close to the CIC as you can manage."

"Yes, sir," Skulls said. He looked grim as well, but determined. "I'll get the bags."

"Racetrack," Noel asked as Skulls left the room. "You okay?"

"Yes, sir," she said, but he noticed that her eyes kept drifting to the bodies. She snapped back to attention. "Sir. What if Adama and the Cylons both refuse to negotiate? What if they don't give in?"

"That won't happen," Noel said firmly. "Someone will give. And if they don't, we'll just get more hostages. And if we have to, we'll take Adama by force. The Galactica bridge staff doesn't carry sidearms," he reminded her. "It's not what I want to do- I'd rather he came willingly, it will make things much easier later on- but I will do it if I have to."

"Have you told him you have Lee?"

"No. That's a last resort. He's predictable with the others. He's not predictable when it comes to his own son."

Racetrack nodded, but she was biting her lip. "Do you really think…?" she trailed off.

"Do I think we're doing the right thing?" he asked. "Yes. You've seen what this Fleet should be, and you've seen what it's becoming. The alliance and the leaders are destroying the Fleet. Frak, I understand if they want to lay down and die, but they should be giving the people who want to live the chance to fight for it."

"That's not what I was going to ask, sir."

"What, then?" Noel asked her sharply.

She took a deep breath. "Do you really think you can kill Apollo?"

"He's just another person, Margaret." Noel clenched his fists. "If that's what it takes to end this madness and get Fleet back to what it should be- get Galactica back to what it should be- then yes, I can kill Apollo. After all, he's the one that sold us to the Cylons in the first place."

The door opened and Skulls came in with the big heavy laundry bags. "We're going to need another set of hands," he said.

"Take Corporal Kressler and Sergeant Emmis," Noel ordered. "And get it done as soon as you can. We don't have much time."

Skulls and Racetrack both saluted. Noel wasn't sure if he was relieved or even more worried as he watched two of his pilots pull on their masks.

***

Caprica had woken up, but she still looked pale and weak. Saul didn't like it at all. He also didn't like leaving her side, but it wasn't like he was going far.

"What have we got?" he asked, sitting down with Anders, Jesse, Lee, Sonja and Tyrol.

Tyrol sighed. "I'm not sure what you're expecting us to get," he said. "The situation hasn't changed much, except now we're ten people in a big box with no weapons, and the stakes have been upped a bit. We've thought about rushing the Marines as soon as they come in, but they'll shoot us before we can get to whoever the leaders are. And I'm sure they're watching us." He gestured towards observation window. "Frankly, sir, our best chance is to sit and hope to be rescued."

"Like a princess in a tower," Saul muttered. He glanced over at Jesse. "How's that head wound, Lieutenant?"

"The bleeding's stopped," Jesse said, but his pupils were starting to dilate oddly.

Saul grunted. "Don't fall asleep," he ordered. He looked around the brig. Sian was still sitting against the wall, her face ashen. The Six had woken up and had pressure on Sian's leg, but she looked worried. Caprica was huddled on her cot, her arms wrapped protectively around her middle. And Hoshi was still lying on his side, eyes closed. Saul didn't think he was really asleep, but he was probably best left alone for the moment. "They must have killed Jaffee and the Two."

"Can't think of another reason for a gun to go off," Tyrol said. "Got any idea what they want?"

"There's always the possibility that-" Lee began, but the hatch opened, cutting him off. The Marines scurried in, guns pointed at the prisoners, and Tory entered.

Tory looked at Saul, and he thought he should be amazed at the expression of hate on her face, but to his mild surprise he felt like he'd known it all along. He tried not to show it. "Come to kill a few more of us? You know this isn't going to work. The Old Man won't listen to you."

"The Admiral can freeze in space for all I care," Tory said, shrugging. "I don't care what becomes of humanity. I only care what becomes of the Cylons, and being tied to this mess is the last thing they need."

"Oh, the Cylons are going to love hearing about this," Saul pointed out.

"Especially if you really kill the Final Five," Lee pointed out.

"If I kill them," Tory pointed out, "they aren't exactly alive to tell anyone." But her eyes weren't on Lee as much as they were looking between the Six and Lieutenant Conoy.

"And what are you going to do?" Saul demanded. "Take the baseship and run away?"

"Exactly. A single baseship would be able to evade Cavil. And now that resurrection is gone, he won't come looking for us. The Cylons could find a habitable world and live out the rest of their lives as they see fit… without the troubles of the humans."

"You wouldn't last a minute out there," Saul sneered.

"That's not going to be your concern," Tory said. "You'll either stay with the humans, or you'll be dead." Narcho came in, and Tory turned to him. "Did you make your call?"

Narcho nodded. "The Admiral still refuses to listen. I'm sorry, Amy," he said, and before anyone could move, he pulled out his gun and shot Amy Sian in the head.

The Six screamed.

Sian slumped over, and Saul lunged at Noel, who was still standing with the gun up. Three Marines caught him immediately, and three more caught Tyrol. One stuck a needle into Tyrol's neck, and he fell heavily to the floor. "Don't even think about it," Saul ordered the Marines, going limp and stopping his fighting.

"Make your call," Narcho ordered Tory. She nodded and left the room. The Marines released Saul, and he stumbled over to Tyrol.

Jesse knelt beside Sian and eased her down to the floor, shutting her eyes. It was a mark of respect, of compassion, and one Saul wouldn't have ever attributed to a Cylon before the Ionian Nebula. Or even after it, if he was honest.

From the floor, Tyrol groaned.

"What'd they get me with?" he asked, his voice slurred.

"Tranquilizer, I think," Saul said. "You okay?"

"Yeah." Tyrol closed his eyes. "She never liked you," he said.

"Yeah. I know that."

"No… even… before. On Earth."

Something lurched in Saul. "You remember?" he asked, kneeling down.

"Only a flash," Tyrol said, rubbing his forehead. "Just her face… I think we were arguing…. I-"

The door slammed open again, and they all jerked to watchful attention. Tory strode back in, pointed her gun, and fired directly at the Six. This time, no one screamed. They all just looked away, and silence echoed through the room.

"All right," Narcho said. "Let's get the bodies out of here. Restart the clock. They've got another hour." Masked Marines began to drag the bodies out.

Saul glanced at the hall. To his disgusted surprise, he saw Racetrack standing by the window, staring in. She looked horrified, but when she saw him watching, she turned away hurriedly.

Saul shook his head and turned back to the people that needed him.

***

"This is it," Kara said, looking at the blueprints and at the corridor. "Just around this corner."

"Did I hear those two kuckledraggers we passed right?" Helo asked. "They found two bodies near the CIC? Jaffee and a Two?"

"Never thought they didn't mean business," Sharon said. "Guess they wanted to show everyone else that was the case, too."

"Well, if we- what the frak?" Kara came up short.

Racetrack was standing there, a gun trained on them.

"Don't," she said. "Don't go down there."

Kara raised her own gun. "You'd better be able to shoot faster than me if you want to stop us. You're with them, aren't you?"

Racetrack didn't answer. Her gun began to shake, and Sharon stepped forward. "Put your gun down," she said quietly. When Racetrack didn't obey, Sharon reached out and pushed the gun down. "Come on, Maggie," she said, her voice soft and reassuring. "You don't want to do this."

"They killed Jaffee," Racetrack said. "And they killed Sian. And if we're not in time, Hoshi's next. And then Tyrol, and then Sam, and then Tigh, and then Lee."

Kara stilled. "They have Lee, too?"

"Yeah. He's holding onto Lee as the ace up his sleeve, but he knows that if the Admiral knew…"

"You'd be dead in an instant," Kara growled, and grabbed Racetrack. She nodded at Helo and Sharon, who both trained their guns on her. "You're coming with us. You're getting us into the prisoners. Got it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good answer. Helo?"

Helo finished unscrewing the vent cover with the screwdriver he'd brought with him, and then looked into the ventilation shaft and groaned. "Ladies first," he said.

Kara nudged Racetrack in. "You get in, and you keep crawling until you get to where we're going. Got it? You're coming out first."

Racetrack nodded, and then dropped down and began to shimmy through the vent.

"Think we should be trusting her?" Sharon asked Kara.

"Think we have a choice?" Kara shot back. She dropped to her stomach. "We can't let her go- she might go straight back and warn them we're coming. We can't leave her here- we need the Marines we've got stationed. So we make her crawl through first, so she can't shoot us in the back." She began to crawl through the ducts. "Let's get moving. We don't have a lot of time left."

***

"You're back," Zarek said, standing up. "Good."

"Good?" Laura asked, raising her eyebrows. "Now that another human and another Cylon are dead?"

Zarek winced. "That's not what I meant. I know how you can make this stop."

"So do I," Bill said. "You're making that phone call."

"No, Admiral, I'm not." Zarek glared at him. "I told you-"

"You'll make the phone call, or we'll airlock you," Laura said coolly.

"No," Zarek said. "You'll call them, and tell them you're airlocking me."

That was unexpected, and Bill raised his eyebrows. "I'm listening."

"I told you, if I order them to step down, then it will look like I've joined your side. Whoever this is, they aren't looking for me to be President, just someone who's not an Adama or a Roslin. But if you threaten to airlock me, then it's a whole different ballgame."

"Unlock the cell," Adama ordered the Marine. "Let's go."

Zarek grinned sarcastically. "Do you want dignified, or a little screaming about tyranny? I've got a couple of fantastic speeches prepared."

"You're going to your death. You choose."

The Marine unlocked the cell and cuffed Zarek and led him out. "Is this a good idea?" Laura murmured in Bill's ear.

"Either we get the kidnappers to stand down, or we airlock him. The only drawback I can see is that we need to time it right. We don't know how many hostages they have yet. And we've only got one. We've got to make it count."

Laura heaved a sigh. "I suppose it would be completely immoral to airlock him if the kidnappers do step down."

"Don't think the thought hasn't crossed my mind," Bill said seriously. "But we can't."

"When do we make the threat?"

"We know they've got Hoshi, Conoy, Anders, Tyrol, and Tigh. That's about the order they'll kill them in, too. When they get to Tyrol, they're running out of hostages."

"I hope this works," Laura said.

"I hope it doesn't have to."

***

"We're here," Kara whispered over her shoulder.

"We're here," Sharon told Helo, who was struggling just to move in the tight space.

"Thank God," Helo said. "Whose bright idea was this again? Oh, that's right. Someone without shoulders."

"Stop complaining and call the backup," Sharon hissed. "This is it."

Helo swore and fumbled for the walkie talkie he'd left in his belt. A little more swearing and groaning on his part, and Sharon heard him quietly giving orders to the squadron of Marines that was stationed a corridor over from the brig. He signed off and gave them a thumbs up.

Kara undid the grate as quietly as possible, and they all crawled out. "All right, maggots!" Kara shouted. The guns all clicked as they trained on her, but she had Racetrack in front of her, her own gun to Racetrack's head. Sharon and then Helo struggled out of the vent, their guns raised. The Marines hesitated.

"You know the orders," she heard the commanding Marine say, "don't let anyone through. If we have to, kill Lieutenant Edmondson."

"You won't have to," Kara said, and she threw a grenade. "Now!" she ordered Sharon and Helo.

"Take cover!" the commanding Marine yelled. Sharon ran down the hall as fast as she could, Helo calling in the backup on a walkie talkie behind her. She braced herself, but oddly enough to explosion came. But there was not time to dwell on it. She kicked the door of the observation room open, and found herself staring down the barrels of two guns. Narcho held one, Tory held the other. Sharon hesitated, but her own gun was trained on Narcho. Then Helo was right there beside her, his gun aimed at Tory.

"Order them to stand down," Sharon ordered Narcho. "We've got Marines are coming."

Narcho glanced at Tory, and then at the door. There was still no explosion from the grenade, but they could hear shouting and one or two guns going off. The door slammed all the way open, and Starbuck pushed Racetrack in, Racetrack's arm twisted up behind her.

"End this, or I will shoot her," Starbuck growled, her gun pointed at Racetrack's head.

Narcho stared at the three of them, his eyes wide, and then lowered his gun. Tory glared at him, and fired. Racetrack cried out, jerking around, and then falling against Starbuck. Tory pushed Sharon aside and ran out of the room. Sharon followed her.

The skirmish in the hallway was ending quickly; there were Marines on their knees already, and barrels of machine guns. Sharon was only vaguely aware of it as she chased Tory into the cell. The flesh on her arms raised as she sprinted through the door; she'd spent a year in this cell and vowed never to return to it. But that faded immediately when Tory aimed at Tigh, and Sharon realized exactly what Tory came in here to do. The gun went off at the same time that Anders dove at Tory, knocking her to the ground.

They rolled over, with Anders landing on top. He pinned Tory's wrists to the ground, and Sharon got close enough to kick the gun out of her hand. It went spinning across the floor, landing at Tigh's feet. He grunted approval and bent down to pick it up. As the Marines came in and the barrels all pointed at Tory, she sighed and surrendered, stopping her struggle.

"Get her out of here," Helo ordered as he entered.

"Starbuck?" Sharon asked.

"She's fine. Racetrack got hit in the shoulder. She'll make it."

Sharon nodded, but she was scanning the hostages. They looked like they were in bad shape. Caprica Six was ashen, curled over on herself in an ominous sort of way. Tory's bullet had gotten Jesse in the leg, although at a quick glance the wound looked like it was a graze. Sonja was trying to help Caprica, and Lee Adama was kneeling over Tyrol, whose eyes were unfocused. And Hoshi looked about as bad as Thornton had when he'd shown up at their door a few hours before.

"We have the enemy troops secured, sir," a Marine informed Helo.

"Good. Let's get them in here. They can cool their heels and wait for the Old Man." The prisoners filed in, their hands on their heads. "Is this all of them?" Helo asked the Marine.

"This is the Marines that were down here, sir. I wouldn't put money on them being their entire force."

"Frak," Helo muttered, and Sharon shivered. The thought that there were others out there, willing to go to these lengths… it made Sharon sick.

But that was nothing, absolutely nothing, as to when she saw the face of one of the Marines being led in. It was a face she could never remember by day, but she saw in nightmares clearly. Sergeant Maguire, the Marine that had held her down when Lieutenant Thorne-

Rage swept over her, thick and black and clouded, and she raised her gun and fired it into his face.

"STOP!" Helo lunged for her, but she evaded him. "Frak, Sharon, what are you doing?"

"That frak deserved to die," she said. "Him and him…" the other Marine- she'd never heard his name- was right behind where Maguire had fallen.

Tigh's voice overrode the commotion and the roaring in her ears. "These men have stood down, Lieutenant. You're out of line. Give up the gun."

"No." She aimed it at the Marine. "No."

"Sharon," a much quieter voice said. She turned her head and saw Hoshi standing right next to her. This close, she could see how bad his face looked, and the blood that had dripped onto his tanks, and the expression in his eyes. It sent chills down her spine.

"You don't want to do this, Sharon," he said, his voice calm and soothing. "They've surrendered. If you shoot them now, the Admiral will be forced to take action, and you'll be locked in the brig again, away from Hera."

"You don't understand," Sharon told him. "I deserve this."

"No," Hoshi said. "You deserve better. Give me the gun." His eyes locked with hers, and something in them made Sharon's resolve weaken. "Give me the gun, Sharon," he repeated, his voice trembling and hypnotic. Slowly, she lowered her gun, and then handed it over to Hoshi.

"Thank you," he said, and before anyone could stop him, he shot the Marine, and then turned and shot Specialist Vireem right in the face. The two bodies fell to the floor before the echo from the gunfire faded in the small room. The twisted, angry look on his face took another moment to fade. The other prisoners tensed, waiting for him to fire at them, but he simply turned the gun so the pommel faced Sharon, offering it back to her. She stared at him incredulously, and he met her eyes.

"You don't deserve it half as much as I do," he said, and tried to walk out of the cell. He didn't get far before he had to fall against the side of the hatch. A Marine glanced to Helo for permission. Helo nodded, and the Marine helped Hoshi out of the cell.

Silence echoed for a long moment. "All right, people," Helo finally said. "Let's get this sorted."

***

The phone in the launch tube control room rang. "This is Adama."

"Sir?" It was Kara's voice. "We've got the situation under control. The ringleaders are in custody and the hostages are being taken to sickbay."

"How many hostages?"

"Eight, sir." A long pause. "Lee was one of them."

Laura could hear the conversation; he saw her eyes widen. He focused on her horror, because it helped him get through his own. "Is he all right?"

"Probably in the best shape of the lot of them, sir."

"I'll be down as soon as I take care of this."

"'This', sir?"

"Our own hostage." He looked at Zarek, who was still standing in the launch tube, head raised and a defiant expression on his face. He looked much like the descriptions Bill had heard of what had almost been Saul's last moments. The comparison didn't exactly please him. "Starbuck? Who were the ringleaders?"

"Narcho and Tory, sir."

Bill closed his eyes. "All right. Hold them in the cell. I'll be down right away."

"Yes, sir."

"Tory," Laura said, her face even paler than normal. "My gods."

"We're going to have to speak with the Cylons about that one," Bill said. "Come on." He pressed a button and the launch tube bulkhead opened.

Zarek looked relieved when they entered. "They stood down?"

"Our rescue team got there before we even had to make the threat," Bill said. "What do you know about Narcho?"

"Narcho?" Zarek's brow furrowed. "He was a friend of Felix's. I met him once or twice before Felix died."

"And what about after Mr. Gaeta died?"

"I've seen him around here and there, especially when I'm over on Galactica."

"Seen him around. When you were making speeches from your jail cell?" Bill demanded. "I know he came down."

"Are we regulating speech now? Taking away one of the most inalienable rights protected by the Articles?" Zarek flexed against the cuffs, and Bill had to bite down on the urge to leave the launch tube and just send this bastard out into space. He looked at Laura, who cocked an eyebrow at him and gave a barely perceptible shake of her head.

"Get him back to the cell," Adama ordered the Marines.

Zarek's eyes flared wide. "What?" he demanded. "I helped you! This was my idea- it could have easily ended in my own death!"

"And then you would have been a martyr whose death sparked a revolution," Bill growled. "Not an unappealing idea to you, is it? Take him back to the brig."

"But I didn't do anything!" Zarek shouted.

"After hijacking the Hitei Khan, I'm not so sure I believe you," Bill said. He watched them go, and then turned to Laura.

Laura's face was lit with relief. "I can't tell you," she said, "how glad I am that we ended this before you found out they had Lee."

"I wouldn't have given over," Bill said, but he honestly didn't believe it, and neither did Laura. But she just smiled wryly, and then took his arm. She was shaky, Bill noticed, although he could understand. The events of the past few hours were enough to drain anyone, and Tory….

"What are you going to do about Tory?" he asked her.

He half-expected a deference of the answer. But Laura just lifted her chin. "That's going to have to be up to the Cylons," she said. "Just like Narcho will have to be left up to you."

"We'll have to take care of it quickly," Bill muttered.

"I'll contact the Cylons," Laura offered.

"All right." Bill remembered something, and turned to one of the Marines escorting them. "Go up to the CIC," he ordered. "And bring Specialist Gage down to the brig as well. He's got some questions to answer."

"Yes, sir."

"And call the press, Laura," Bill said. "I want it known what happens to people who undermine this alliance and the goals of this Fleet."

Laura nodded. "Tory," she sighed, shaking her head. "Who would have thought it?"

"The next few hours aren't going to be pretty," Bill told her.

Laura shrugged. "But we'll do what's right. Let's go- we've got work to do."

***

Noel sat on the cot in the brig, leaning against the wall, one foot on the mattress, arm dangling off his knee, one foot on the ground. When Adama came in, he didn't move.

"You've got questions to answer," Adama told him.

"I know," Noel said tiredly. "I'm ready to talk."

Adama's face was set in hard lines. "Cooperation isn't going to get you out of what's coming. You're guilty of mutiny and of murder."

"I know. But it will get me out of torture." Adama's eyebrow raised, and Noel smirked. "What? You really think you wouldn't do that? Gaeta told me about Baltar. He was never sure whether Baltar was lying or not when he said he was tortured, but of course he wasn't. Not after Baltar was in possession of so much information." He took a deep drag on his cigarette. "Can't say I blamed you, then. Felix might have, but I sure as hell didn't. I would have done the same thing, and you'd better believe Admiral Cain would have, too. And if I were you, I'd be doing it now if I refused to talk."

"Then start talking," Adama said. "I want names, and I want to know what else you've set up to happen."

"There's a stock of explosives in locker 514," Noel admitted. "They're ready to go. We hadn't done anything with them yet, but if we'd killed the hostages and you still hadn't surrendered, we were planning on using them. That was all."

Adama nodded tightly. "Names."

And this was why Noel was so willing to talk. This was where it was so important that Adama believed him. "We had Gage up in the CIC," he said, because after hearing Maguire, Lyle, and Vireem and seeing Hoshi, Gage deserved whatever was coming to him and more. "And I didn't see Virinas and Remells in there. Other than that, you got them all. We had everyone down here."

"No, you didn't," Adama said. "For exactly this reason. You wouldn't have wanted them all caught if this ended."

"I certainly didn't want it," Noel agreed. "But I didn't have the numbers to do anything else." He didn't dare to even think of the people who had helped him set this up, or who had been active and elsewhere when the cavalry had arrived. He had to believe his own lie for Adama to believe it, too. "And we were desperate."

"Desperate."

This was his other last chance, and the other reason Noel had been willing to talk. He leaned forward. "I've always respected you, sir, but I can't not fight the Cylons. They've taken too much. And I'm not the only one. And every single person I recruited- every single person that's standing in that cell waiting for judgment- feels the same way.

"This isn't some petty difference to be set aside, sir. They destroyed everything. Not just everyone I've ever loved, but everyone I've even known. And for what? I wasn't even alive during the first Cylon War. Billions of the people they killed weren't. Maybe you remember, maybe you're carrying some sort of guilt or something that makes you understand their point of view, but I do not."

"It's not about that."

"It is for me."

"You worked with a Cylon," Adama pointed out. "Tory Foster did not have humanity's best interests at heart."

"No," Noel agreed, "but we wanted the same thing. We wanted an end to the alliance between the Cylons and the humans."

"And so you kill humans in order to accomplish that."

"You put them in danger every day." Adama gave him the death glare, but Noel continued, unaffected. "What do you even know about the Final Five? Why are they so special? What did they do? You can't answer any of those questions, and yet you act as if they are human. I can understand Anders; if a pilot turned, we could handle it. I can understand Tyrol, because you never promoted him back to Deck Chief or anything stupid like that. But I can't understand why you keep a Cylon in a position to destroy us all."

"I trust Saul Tigh, and that's all you need to know," Adama growled.

"No, it isn't," Noel said. "Because you trusted Boomer, too, and look where that got you."

Adama struck him across the face. Noel's head snapped back against the wall, bone meeting metal with a loud thunk. He stayed there for a long minute, letting the pain fade and reminding himself that he'd killed two people, and had been willing to kill more. Finally, he opened his eyes.

"Do what you want," Noel said. "Because the fact is, sir, that I'm right and you're wrong, and my dying only spares me from having to live with the consequences of your mistakes."

Adama's eyes narrowed, and he turned away. "Enjoy your cigarette," he said as he stalked out of the cell. "It's your last."

***

Laura and Sonja were waiting in his study. Sonja looked a little worse for the wear, but she didn't seem to have sustained any lasting injuries.

"I've conferred with the baseship," Sonja said. "The models are all in agreement. We'll follow your lead."

It always spooked Bill how the Cylons could do that sort of communication, but he suppressed his shiver. He wasn't quite sure what to say, but it was Laura that spoke up.

"You realize that the Admiral needs to execute his soldier, am I right?" she asked. "You are truly prepared to follow that particular lead?"

"We are," Sonja said. "I can't say we like it, but there must be justice."

"Tory is one of the Final Five." Bill bit off the words.

"Yes, and she was willing to kill the other three," Sonja pointed out. She sighed heavily. "For everything they did wrong, your pilot was right about one thing, Bill. We don't know anything about the Final Five. We know we've been programmed not to think about them, and obviously we can override that programming now. But at the same time, for the life of me I have no idea why. I don't understand what it means. But when a line like this is crossed… we can't afford not to question it." Sonja lifted her chin. "This alliance must be equal. I know it's costing you to execute your pilot. It must cost us as well."

Bill didn't say anything, but Laura managed a smile. "I think that the Cylons made a very wise decision when they elected you," she told Sonja.

"Thank you," Sonja said, "but there are days I wish they hadn't."

To Bill's surprise, Laura reached out and patted Sonja's hand. "Believe me, I know the feeling. And I promise you, it will never, ever go away."

***

The cell door swung open, and Adama strode in again. "Let's go," he ordered Noel. Noel stood obediently, the end of his life hanging before him like a big dead end. He almost couldn't wait to meet it.

The Marines cuffed him. Noel wasn't surprised about that, but he was mildly surprised about the small contingent of press that they passed. He wasn't sure if Adama would want this weakness exposed, but then at the same time, this was a golden opportunity to show the Fleet what happened to those that didn't fall into line. Practicality overcame pride. Again.

An airlock. Noel smiled grimly. The firing squad was half human, half Cylon. And from the other direction, he saw the Cylon representative leading Tory in.

Their eyes met, and Tory raised her chin to him, a small gesture of acknowledgement. Noel smirked at her. He hadn't liked Tory, had never felt any sort of affection whatsoever for her. She was a Cylon, and the only thing they had in common was the undying belief that human and Cylon should leave each other the frak alone. He didn't particularly want to die with her, but it didn't matter. They might die in the same airspace, but Noel had always believed that everyone dies alone.

Adama led him to the end of the tube, put his back against the bulkhead. Tory stood next to him. "Any last words?" Adama asked him.

For a minute, Noel closed his eyes. He forced himself to see Jaffee's face, then Sian's, and then Hoshi's. Their blood was on his hands, and he knew it. But Adama wasn't the one he needed to apologize to. He shook his head grimly, and faced forward. He thought of his family, his friends, Admiral Cain, pilots from the Pegasus, Kat, Felix… all of the people he had loved and lost. He could almost see them waiting for him, just behind the Admiral. "No," he said. "I said what I needed to say."

Adama grunted, and then stepped back to the firing squad. His face indicated no mercy, but Noel was ready. And out of the corner of his eye, he saw Tory take a deep breath and raise her own chin. She was ready, too.

"Ready… Aim…"

"Fire," Tory whispered next to him, and then it all went black.

Chapter Text

The infirmary was quiet. After the excitement of the past few hours, it felt like it should be busier, but Sharon realized just how few people knew exactly what had happened in the brig of Galactica.

"You all right?" she asked Kara.

"Yeah," Kara said, flexing her shoulder. "Bitch took the bullet."

Sharon sighed. "Is Racetrack all right?" she rephrased.

"She'll live." Kara's face was hard and angry, and Sharon couldn't blame her in the least. "At least until the Old Man sees her."

"Hey," Sharon asked, "what happened to the grenade you threw?"

"Never pulled the pin," Kara said, with a huge grin. "Threw the frakkers off, but didn't damage the ship. It was hysterical."

Sharon managed a smile in response, although she suspected that later, she'd think it was pretty funny as well. But right now she really didn't feel like laughing.

Kara boosted herself off of the exam table, her hospital gown fluttering with the motion. She pushed it off and began shrugging on her uniform. "How's Hera?"

"Fine. Thornton isn't doing so well, though." Sharon glanced across the infirmary. "Or Caprica Six."

"Yeah, well, that's the price, I guess," Kara said.

"The price of what?" Sharon demanded sharply. Kara shrugged. "Kara, what's been going on with you?"

"You care?" Kara asked sharply. "After convincing your husband to mutiny against me?"

Sharon bit down the response she wanted to make to that. "I meant since Earth," she said. Kara didn't answer. Instead, she just fastened her pants and began to lace up her boots. "Kara-"

"I'm fine," Kara snapped. She glanced over at where Cottle was treating Lieutenant Conoy. "Frakking freaks me out to see a Two in uniform," she muttered, and then stalked off to where Adama was talking to Lee.

Sharon found herself drifting over to Conoy. She remembered him from her days before Galatica, vaguely, as a part of the Two line. He hadn't had the goatee then, or the look of grief he had in his eyes. He sat on the examination table wearing Fleet tanks and underwear, idly playing with his dog tags as Cottle stitched his leg.

"Are you all right?" she asked quietly.

"I guess," Jesse said. "The wound's not bad."

Cottle looked up from his stitching and gave Sharon a quick nod. He didn't shoo her away, so Sharon leaned against the wall, watching the process. "You going to be in here overnight?"

"Yes," Cottle answered for him.

"I need to-"

"You need to rest, and I need to keep an eye on you, Lieutenant," Cottle said sternly. "Now hold still."

"Will I be able to see Louis tonight, then?" Jesse asked Cottle. Cottle's didn't look up, but his face darkened. "I'm worried about him, and I really would like-"

Cottle continued stitching. "Lieutenant Hoshi has asked for no visitors," he said. "I'm going to respect his wishes on this one."

Sharon looked at Jesse, and she saw the frustration there, that dedication and determination that seemed to be a part of the Twos' programming, almost to the point of obsession. She reached out and touched his arm.

"Give him space," she said softly. He opened his mouth to argue and she changed the subject. "You've taken your first bullet for the Colonial Fleet," she said. "Are you regretting it?"

"Not at all," he said.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"Why did you do it?"

"Why did I take a bullet? It wasn't exactly my choice."

"No. Why did you join the Fleet? You didn't have so much as a memory of what the humans are like or being a part of them, and you didn't have any real attachments."

Cottle tied off his stitches, but he stayed on his stool, not interrupting. Sharon had the impression he very much wanted to hear Jesse's answer as well. Jesse was silent for a long time. Finally, he said, "When I voted for the plan to eradicate humanity, I could only see what they had done wrong. The enslavement of our Centurion brothers, the violence, the pettiness, the way they treat each other… it's all there, in gory pulsing reds, in patterns like water on glass. I was convinced that what we were doing was right.

"I never thought much about humans until we were on New Caprica, and I began to see different patterns. Sarah saw it, too. And when we made that commitment to each other…" he shook his head. "I knew it was the most important thing I'd ever done in my life. And humans had conceived of it. And I began to wonder what else we hadn't imagined that humans had."

"New Caprica," Cottle snorted. "Funny place to find the good in humanity."

"I found a lot, you know, although it took me a long time to believe it," Jesse said. "We'd seen the depths they could sink to, but not the heights they could rise to, and as I began to open my eyes and pay attention to those, I had the uneasy feeling that I'd been wrong. That we'd been wrong. That what we'd done…" He shook his head. "It was unspeakable. That was why I voted for our mortality, why I was willing to make the break with our brethren."

Sharon nodded.

"And then when I lost Sarah…" he shut his eyes. "It's been like no pain I've ever imagined. To know that I'll never see her again, that I'll never hold her… it's like a piece of me is torn away. It hurts, but God, it's sacred. This is what it means to love, and for all that it hurts… I'd never give it up. But when I walked through our baseship, they didn't understand. Mortality is still so new to us- loss and grief and even pain are still so new to us- it was only among the humans that I learned how to cope with it. They gave me the inestimable. I was ready to give back."

Cottle wound Jesse's leg with a bandage. "You're all set, Lieutenant," he said. "I want you to rest. I'll check in on you later." He patted Jesse on the shoulder. "And if Hoshi wants a visitor, I'll tell him you're here."

"Thank you." They watched Cottle leave.

"You should rest," Sharon said. "Cottle knows what he's doing."

"I will," Jesse said. Sharon helped him lay down. He smiled grimly at her. "We are a sight, aren't we? Who would have ever thought?"

Sharon leaned over and kissed him on the forehead like a proud older sister. "Get some rest," she said, and drew the curtains around him as she stepped away.

The heights that humans could rise to. Sharon thought of Helo, thought of the CIC, the pilots who accepted her, her callsign and the family that was formed on Galactica, fractured as it was. She thought of Racetrack changing her mind, of Kara risking everything, of Adama ensuring justice, even though it cost him a piece of his soul. The heights and the glories and the good in humanity. With a deliberate effort, she consigned the memories of the cell and Lieutenant Thorne back to the recesses of her memory, pushing them down and leaving them there, hopefully never to look on them again.

***

Lieutenant Hoshi had said no visitors, but there was a difference between a visitor and a commanding officer. Bill pushed the curtain aside and entered the cubicle.

Hoshi was lying on his stomach, a sheet pulled up over his waist to protect from the inevitable gap in a hospital gown. His chin was resting on his crossed arms, and his was staring into space. There were no monitors in here. Bill pulled a chair over and sat down.

"Lieutenant."

Hoshi glared at him, but apparently knew better than to comment on the intrusion. "Admiral."

Bill had had many difficult encounters in his life, but this one was already ranking up there in the top ten. He had absolutely no idea of what to say to the soldier in front of him. "I'm sorry that this happened on my ship."

Hoshi shrugged. "Thank you, sir." The words hadn't touched him. But then, Bill didn't expect them to, and there were other matters to deal with.

"I understand you shot two of them after they stood down."

"Yes, sir."

Adama sighed. "I can't let that slide."

"I know, sir."

"I also need you on duty. With Sian dead and Gage in the hack, we've lost two of our Communications officers," Adama sighed. "You've got a month of sewage shifts on top of your CIC shifts, once you're approved for heavy lifting.

"Yes, sir."

Bill was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. "Cottle's given you clearance to leave the infirmary after tonight. I expect you to report for duty in the CIC at 0800 hours tomorrow."

"Yes, sir."

Bill stood up. "Get some rest, Lieutenant." He left the cubicle with a sense of relief that he didn't want to admit to himself.

Cottle was watching him. "You're putting him on duty?"

"Don't have much of a choice," Bill said. "I'm down two Communications officers, and Thornton's not going to be in any position to come back on for a few days. You said he was cleared."

"I said I could clear him." Cottle's voice was firm. "There's a difference."

"Will it harm his physical health?"

Cottle sighed. "No."

"That's all I need to know, Doctor."

Cottle looked like he was going to argue, but Bill fixed him with a glare, and he nodded, although it was clear from the set of his eyebrows that he was still unhappy about the decision. "It's not all you need to know about, though," he told Bill. "I've got some more bad news."

"What is it?"

"We've done some of the analysis on the patients' blood," he said. "The humans were just taken by force. Most of the Cylons were given some sort of narcotic. I don't know which one yet, but it shouldn't have any lasting effect. But Caprica Six and Tigh both had mifepristone in their blood."

"What does that mean?"

"Well, two things. One, Caprica Six is almost certainly going to miscarry her baby. There aren't many other uses for mifepristone. And two…" Cottle took a step closer to Bill. "We've got these drugs under lock and key," he said. "But somehow, these bastards were able to get their hands on them."

"Someone in the infirmary was in on this," Bill realized.

"Someone in an infirmary was in on this," Cottle confirmed. "The hostage takers might have gotten it from another ship. But someone gave it to them, and none of the prisoners on your list had that kind of access to these drugs."

The thought chilled Bill to the bone. "Any idea of who?"

Cottle shook his head. "Not without starting a witch hunt."

"Frak." Bill wanted to hit something. As he stood there, he could see the other implications unfolding as well.

Cottle clapped him on the shoulder. "I've got patients, Admiral."

Bill nodded to him, and Cottle moved off to another cubicle. Bill continued his rounds.

Caprica Six was sleeping, which was small mercy. Saul was sitting anxiously by her bedside, but when he heard Bill enter he stood. He looked terrible, but he also looked uninjured, much to Bill's relief.

"How is she?"

Saul shook his head. "Doc says it's only a matter of time before she loses the baby."

"I'm sorry, Saul," Bill said.

Saul nodded, his expression very far away before he pulled himself together. "I hope you're going to shoot the bastards."

"I'm sending most of them to the Astral Queen."

"Most of them?"

"Racetrack's been busted down to ensign and lost her flight status, but once she's out of the infirmary she can still serve as an ECO." Saul nodded approval. "I'd like to airlock Gage, but I can't."

"Why not?" Saul asked. "After what he did-"

"If we just execute Narcho and Tory, we can minimize the deaths. If we execute Gage, we have to start answering questions about why him and no one else. Seems unfair to Hoshi."

"Ask him first," Saul pointed out. "But if you're so concerned about it, make something up." Bill glared at him, but Saul was unaffected. "What about Narcho?"

Bill closed his eyes. "It's already done."

"Good," Saul said, although there was an echo of sadness in his eyes. "Do you need me right now, Bill? If you do, I can…"

"No. Stay with Caprica. That's only right."

Saul looked haggard as he clapped Bill on the shoulder. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." Bill left the infirmary and headed down to the CIC.

***

It was mid-afternoon when Caprica opened her eyes. Saul only knew because he'd been watching the clock so intently.

"Hey," he said gently, squeezing her hand.

"Saul?" Her free hand flew to her belly. "The baby…"

"I know." His throat closed. "I'm sorry."

"What… does Cottle know what happened?"

The curtain pushed aside, and Cottle entered. "I do," he said, looking at his chart. "It was a drug called mifepristone. It was in both of your blood streams, so I'm surmising it was in the coffee you drank this morning."

"What kind of sick frak-"

"The kind that doesn't want to see a baby come to term," Cottle said. "There's only one use for mifepristone." He moved over to the monitors and checked the numbers. "How's the pain?"

"Not bad," Caprica admitted. "Shouldn't it hurt more?"

Cottle shrugged. "I put pain meds in your IV. I figured that you'd be hurting enough."

"What happens next?" Saul asked.

"We're going to have to give you another dose of the miefpristone," Cottle said. "Although there's no chance the baby can survive, the uterus won't contract hard enough to expel the pregnancy. Leaving matters as they are will compromise her health as well." He nodded towards Caprica. "It won't be comfortable, but we can ease that to an extent. There'll be some bleeding, clotting, and cramping, but the exact extent of it is hard to determine." He sighed. "But given how far along you were, it's not going to be fun."

Caprica nodded. "It's just… this baby was the future of our race. It was proof that we were going to survive."

"This baby was a baby," Cottle said, his face closed. "Colonel, I need to speak to you." He gestured for Saul to precede him from the cubicle.

"What is it?" Saul demanded once they were out.

Cottle took a deep breath. "There are several things. The first and foremost… I know that Cylons have this idea that love is required for procreation," he said. "I'm not a psychologist, but even I can see this one coming. Love wouldn't have overridden biology. There was nothing that could be done to stop this miscarriage, short of her not being given the drug in the first place. Make sure she knows that. And while you've never seemed the sentimental type to me, Colonel, gods know what's going through your brain these days, either. Make sure you know that."

"I do." Didn't make it hurt any less, that they were losing this child. But even in the midst of it, Saul could see the wisdom in Cottle's words. "There's something else, isn't there?"

"Yeah." Cottle lit two more cigarettes, and gave one to Saul. "This 'future of our race' thing that Caprica's worried about…. There's been another Cylon-Cylon pregnancy."

Somewhere deep inside, Saul felt a flicker of triumph, and the oddest sense of relief. But more importantly… "Who? And why didn't you tell us?"

"Well, the first leads into the second. The who is an Eight who called herself Sarah." Cottle glanced over his shoulder. "Jesse Conoy's wife."

"Frak…"

"He doesn't know. I confirmed the pregnancy right before she got on that Raptor. Never told anyone because I didn't think it would do much good. I wasn't sure if the Cylons could get pregnant and just never carried to term, or what the situation was, and it seemed cruel to tell the man that he'd not only lost his wife, but that she was pregnant."

"You could have told me or the Admiral."

"I am telling you. No other Cylons have come to me reporting pregnancy symptoms. I've also had a chance to talk to a few of them about the history. Sarah's situation was unique, and she may have been able to carry the pregnancy to term if she'd lived. I don't know how much that will help Caprica's mindset- you'll have to be the judge of that. It might only hurt her to know another Cylon baby was lost- I don't know. But there it is."

It wouldn't help her. Not right now. Because even if every other Cylon got pregnant, none of those babies would be this baby, and this baby was the one they were losing right now. Saul just nodded, staring at the doctor.

"I'd better examine her again," Cottle said, clapping Saul on the shoulder. "I'm sorry again, Colonel. This won't be easy on either of you." He pushed aside the curtains and disappeared into the cubicle.

It was strange. He'd only begun to get used to the idea of being a father and having a baby, and now it was being taken away.

He set his shoulders and went back into the cubicle.

***

It happened a little after 0300 hours, in what should have been the dead of the night. The baby that Caprica Six considered the savior of the Cylon race was miscarried, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. It was a boy, and he would have been healthy if he'd come to term.

They sedated Caprica. Saul wished they could sedate him, too, as he staggered out of the infirmary and to the one place he knew he could find any sort of solace on this boat.

Bill was awake. Waiting, reading a book. Saul staggered in and Bill stood up to catch him, just like it had been for so many years now.

"He's dead," Saul told Bill. "The baby's dead."

And Bill held him as he cried.

***

The clock said it was 0500 hours. There was no dawn, but Louis could almost imagine the sunrise he remembered from Virgon, the light creeping in through the cracks in closed curtains.

His sleep had been fitful at best, punctuated with nightmares that required no interpretation whatsoever. He eased out of bed. A pair of clean sweats and tanks had been placed on the nightstand, and he put them on cautiously. Cottle had given him medication; he stuffed the bottles and tubes into his pocket. He moved the curtain aside and picked up his shoes, walking softly in stocking feet.

The halls of the Galactica were never empty, but reveille hadn't been called yet, and the crowds were thinner. The few people he passed had duty on their minds or alcohol in their systems; few people noticed him, despite the fact that he was still carrying his shoes.

He opened the hatch of the room set aside as a temple. It was empty at this hour, but two candles flickered on the altar. He walked in and laid his shoes down gently, then approached the altar.

The altar had been cobbled together from pieces found throughout the ship. Candles, prayer icons, rosaries… black velvet cloths and a copy of the Scrolls. He picked up a rosary.

"I've prayed to you all my life," Louis whispered. The beads were smooth under his fingers, worn by countless grieving hands. "I've always believed in you. Even after the Cylons attacked… maybe their God was stronger than you. Maybe you had your reasons. Maybe I just prayed because that was what I had done my whole life and I had no other answers, no other recourse. Maybe I just prayed out of habit."

He looked at the rosary. "Maybe there's justice in this. Maybe you look at me and you see the Pegasus or the Scylla. Maybe you see some other crime I committed. But it doesn't matter anymore. I don't worship you anymore."

The beads blurred under his eyes, and he looked at the altar. He saw the flickering lights of the candles, the faces carved into metal and stone, and he threw the beads as hard as he could. "I don't worship you anymore." He said it with more confidence. "I don't know if you weren't there when I needed you, or if you brought this down on me yourselves, but I will not bow my head to you anymore!" The anger surged up, and he swept his arm over the altar. The artifacts fell to the floor with a loud crash. He pulled the cloth from the altar and tore it in two. It came apart with a satisfying rip, the fabric wound around his hands. He knocked the table over, kicked it and regretted that as pain shafted up his body.

"Hey!" An older man stood in the corner, disheveled and wearing night clothing. Some rational part of Louis realized he must be one of the priests, sleeping in this room because there was nowhere else. He began to back up. He couldn't face people… couldn't face what this man would say.

The priest saw something in his face- the cuts and bruises, or the damage that went deeper- and he gentled. "Son," he said, obviously gathering his patience, "do you need help?" He approached slowly, like he was approaching a wounded animal. "The gods can help you, son," he said softly. He touched Louis's bare arm.

Louis shoved him away. "No," he said. "They can't."

He couldn't run, but if he could, he would have fled. As it was, he walked out of the room, picking his shoes up as he left.

***

"Seventeen of my men," Bill said, staring moodily at his liquor.

"It couldn't just be seventeen," Lee insisted. "They took too many of us for that."

"Were any of the Cylons involved as well?" Laura asked.

"Don't know," Bill said. "Couldn't get an answer out of any of them."

"It would make sense if they weren't," Sonja said. "Tory wouldn't have wanted them knowing that she was responsible for killing any of the Final Five."

"They were mostly Marines, too, except for Racetrack," Lee observed sullenly. He slumped down further into the sofa in his father's study. "I can't believe that Narcho wouldn't have recruited more pilots."

"There had to have been others," Laura said.

"Skulls," Lee said.

His father looked up. "We don't know that."

"You ever know Skulls and Racetrack to do much separate from each other?"

"They all wore masks."

"You really expect me to believe that Racetrack wouldn't recognize Skulls through a mask?" Lee demanded.

"I can't convict a pilot just because he happens to be friends with someone who is proven guilty. Racetrack and Gage both swear that they don't know who else was involved. Cottle pointed out that pursuing anything more thoroughly will basically be starting a witch hunt."

Lee glanced at Laura. "Are we back to absolution and forgiveness, then?"

"Do you see another choice?" Laura asked. Her voice was firm, but her eyes darted away from Lee's for a moment, and he knew she didn't like the idea, either. This wasn't like New Caprica, where people had collaborated to survive. This was human turning on human, bent on violence and revenge. Lee threw his hands up in the air.

"We could try. I know it wouldn't be easy, but with the right amount of-"

"We don't have much of a choice," Bill overrode him. "We punish the ones we've got and let it go at that."

Lee saw the look on his father's face, and realized he had to back down on this one. It was the wrong decision, he thought, but there was nothing more he could do.

***

We still don't know who they all are. We still don't know who gave them the drugs they used. And there's no way we'll find out if we got them all.

For the first time since Earth, Laura felt fear.

Not fear for herself. If they came for her, so be it. But fear for the people on this ship, for the people in this Fleet. People who needed protection. People the dying leader had failed, yet again.

Believing in the gods had been one thing, day-to-day religious devotion had been another. She'd never had much time for it, to be truthful. But now something was drawing her towards one of the rooms used as a temple on Galactica. She opened the hatch and stepped inside.

The room was almost empty, except for a brother patiently gluing the pieces of statue back together. He looked up and smiled, although it was a motion of his lips that did not extend to his eyes. "President Roslin," he said gravely.

"Brother…."

"Brother Niles. What can I do for you?"

It wasn't a question she was prepared to answer. Instead, she stared at the statue he was carefully mending. "It's a beautiful piece."

"I know," he sighed. He gestured for her to have a seat, and she took it. "I plan on working it into my next sermon, how something beautiful can be shattered, but when put back together, we only appreciate the beauty more. Not very subtle, but then, subtlety is lost on so many." He had very kind green eyes, Laura noticed, set off by crows' feet and gray eyebrows.

"What happened to it?" Laura asked. Brother Niles didn't answer right away. She looked around the room and noticed other signs of damage, and the fear she'd been feeling sharpened. "They didn't attack here, did they?"

"They?" Brother Niles asked, confused. "Did the Cylons attack?"

"No," Laura began, and then shook her head.

"I heard there was some commotion earlier," Brother Niles said, turning back to his work, "but these days, such commotion has become common. But this was nothing to worry about."

"If someone is harming you-"

"No. This one meant no harm to me, I think. Only to the gods." His eyes turned piercing as he looked at her. "These days, he's far from alone."

Laura flushed. "Earth," she said, and the very word burned her soul.

"Earth," Brother Niles agreed, and he said it far more easily. He picked up another piece of the sculpture and began meticulously applying glue to the broken edge. "I always wondered why you put so much stock in Earth. There was never any guarantee. Granted, I didn't expect what we found, but the Scriptures indicate that the Thirteenth Tribe did not leave us happily. I have always doubted that they would welcome us with open arms."

"It was a risk," Laura admitted, although it was not one she'd allowed herself to think of often. There were a lot of risks that she hadn't let herself think of often. She sighed heavily. "I don't even know why I'm here."

Brother Niles smiled. "You're here because the gods put you here. You are the dying leader. Did you think it would be easy?"

"It hasn't been easy."

"No. No, I didn't say it had been. It hasn't been easy for anyone left alive in this Fleet, and least of all for you. But it is your destiny."

"Destiny," Laura scoffed. "Do you know what happened here on Galactica yesterday, Brother Niles? I tell you this in the nature of confession. Two humans and two Cylons were killed. One of the humans was a mother. One was a young man just serving his commanding officer. And they were killed, not by the Cylons and not by some grand war, but because a group of thugs decided to take their lives to make a political point. How is that anyone's destiny? How can the gods sit there and make those plans for people?"

"Because destiny doesn't work like that," Brother Niles said. "We have free will, Madam President. Do you know what happens when we do not? We become what we made of the Cylons; slaves to the gods. And if we were slaves to the gods, believe me, I would not be sitting here mending a statue broken in anger and despair." He smiled at her, and then carefully dribbled some glue along the edge of a piece. "But sometimes, the gods make choices. They choose people for tasks, and entrust them with responsibilities. How those people carry out those tasks… that is their decision. The gods have not forced any decision you have made on this journey- you have made those yourself."

"So it's all my fault, and not the gods' fault. Forgive me if I don't find that very comforting," Laura said, stung.

He pressed his piece to the statue, holding it tight as the glue bonded. "It wasn't meant to be comforting. I hope I'm not giving you that delusion. You have people to comfort you. But apparently you don't have anyone to kick you in the ass hard enough to make you sit up and take your responsibilities seriously again." Laura raised an eyebrow, but Brother Niles just chuckled. "If you think that just because I'm a brother that I don't pay attention to politics, you've got a very naïve view of religion. I've been dying to say this to you since Earth. And not as a brother, mind you, but as someone who voted for you."

Laura snorted. And yet, although she didn't want to admit it, something in what he was saying resonated with her. Not because she hadn't heard it, but maybe, because after seeing what she'd seen yesterday, she was ready to listen.

"You want to give up," Brother Niles continued. "You want to let your life end, to live what you have left. I understand that, I really do. But the fact is, Laura, you can't. And not because of what some prophet said or because some gods put you in your role, but because of the people."

She raised an eyebrow. "Technically, I was never elected President," she said with a wry grimace.

"That's right," he said with a smile. "But if I stood up in front of the Fleet and announced my Presidency, I'd be laughed off my podium, because I am not the one the people trust. I have not done the work, shouldered the burdens, or spoken with the people. And those people deserve the best that you've got left."

"I didn't come here to be scolded like a child," Laura said.

Brother Niles turned solemn, pausing in his work and looking directly at Laura. "Then what did you come here for?"

It took her a little off guard. "I… I came looking to find my way again, I suppose."

"Well," Brother Niles said, sitting back, "I'm going to be egotistical and say that your prayers were answered. Now all you have to do is decide if you're going to listen."

***

"Baltar," Bill said flatly.

Saul had never liked Gaius Baltar, not from the moment he'd gotten on the blasted ship. And he liked him even less now, standing in front of Adama's desk with a look on his face that was half trembling weasel, half righteous indignation. He glanced over at Laura, and she smirked at him in solidarity.

"Admiral," Baltar said, in the tone of someone granting a favor. "I hope that you have given thought to my proposal-"

"I have," Bill grunted. "I don't like it."

Baltar sniffed. "But Admiral, after the recent situation, surely you must agree that we need to protect the civilians that are on this ship. Order must be maintained, especially at a time like this."

"The situation was a military one," Bill replied darkly. "The military will take care of that."

"But you are right," Laura said stiffly, with her most gracious, put-on smile. "The civilians require protection." She looked tired and strained and defeated, but she looked more alive than she had since Earth. "And I realize that it is in your best interest, Doctor, to have order and protection in your… area. After all, you can't have followers if they're all dead."

Baltar drew himself up indignantly. "That is hardly why I am asking this. There are… there are children! Yes! There are children down there-"

Laura spoke over him. "And you've always excelled at acting in your own self-interest. So the answer, Doctor, is yes."

"-have you considered that? Children having the food snatched out of their very hands. Not to mention some very disreput- what?"

"She said," Lee spoke up for the first time in the meeting, "the answer is yes."

"With some conditions," Bill amended.

"What conditions?" Baltar asked warily.

"For one, we want regular patrols," Saul said. "We want schedules. Who's patrolling where, when. So that way, if something happens on your watch, we know it."

"Patrol leaders will report to Sergeant Norton." Bill said.

Baltar nodded. "That seems reasonable."

"We're limiting your munitions as well," Bill said.

"Limiting munitions?" Baltar asked. "But if my people need-"

"We're not being unreasonable," Saul drawled. "We just don't want any firefights in the bowels of the ship."

Baltar turned to face him. The look on his face was one of wounded pride. "I assure you, Colonel," he said with as much dignity as he could muster. "Our intentions are only to protect those who require it, and to-"

"I don't care what your intentions are," Saul said, thinking of Ellen. "Everyone's got good intentions. Now get the frak out before we change our minds."

Baltar looked at Bill, who looked down at his desk, and at Laura and Lee. Laura nodded imperiously.

"As you wish," Baltar said, with not a little mocking. He gave a half-bow, and retreated from the room.

"I can't believe it's come to this," Laura sighed. "The lives of the people truly are in Gaius Baltar's hands."

"The whole world's upside down," Lee agreed. He glanced at his watch. "I need to be at a Quorum meeting in a half hour. Madame President, will you be joining me?"

Laura didn't even glance at Saul or Bill. "Yes. I'll give you a hand. There's still a lot of smoothing over to be done concerning the situation on Galactica…" She kissed Bill on the cheek, and then Lee held the hatch for her.

"So we've given guns to the devil," Saul said once they were alone.

"Better the devil you know, I suppose," Bill said, sitting down. He poured them each a drink, and pushed one across the table to Saul, who took the seat opposite. "For all his faults- and there are many- Gaius Baltar is not a violent man."

"No," Saul agreed, "it takes a certain amount of courage to shoot a man."

Bill sipped his liquor. "How's Caprica?" he asked.

Saul studied the glass. "She's recovering."

"Mmm." Bill paused, as if waiting for Saul to say more, but it was too raw, too painful. "Losing a child…" Bill began.

"You would know," Saul cut him off. He thought about it. "And you almost lost two."

Bill didn't look up; a sure sign if any that Saul had hit his target. "I don't know what I would have done if I'd known they had him," he said moodily, slumping in his chair.

"Probably better not to dwell on it," Saul said.

"They might have won."

"Yeah, well, they didn't. It was an error on Narcho's part… or just as well for the sake of the ship." Saul sipped his drink. "Has Laura started her diloxan treatments back up?" Bill shook his head, and a shiver ran down Saul's spine. "You know, if she doesn't, we're going to have to deal with Zarek sometime."

Bill gave him a don't even talk about that sort of glare, but Saul didn't flinch. It was Bill who looked down first.

"One thing at a time," he said. "Arming Baltar was enough of a disaster for one day." He swallowed the last of his drink. "At least I don't have to worry about him shooting any Cylons on sight."

Saul snorted. "No kidding."

***

"Thank you," Laura said as she let go of Lee's arm and settled down into her seat on the Raptor. "Walking longer distances is getting a little tiring."

"You're shaking," Lee pointed out. "Madam President-"

"Don't nag me, Lee," Laura said with a sigh. "We don't have much time before we get to Colonial One and start having to answer questions. They'll be on us the minute we get off this Raptor."

"All right." Lee looked concerned. Laura wanted to wipe the look off his face, or failing that, close her eyes. But there was too much to do.

"The first thing we must do is reassure the Quorum and the press that the command of Galactica is secure, and that this incident has only cemented our alliance with the Cylons. I hate to say it, but this might have been the expression of unity that you were looking for."

"Not really quite how I planned it playing out," Lee admitted.

Laura tried not to think about it, because thinking about Tory still stung. Instead, she smiled. "Well, what has been working out how we planned?" she asked.

"Madam President… if I can ask, are you returning to your position?" Lee asked.

Laura wanted to cringe at the phrasing, but she couldn't deny the truth in his question. "I am," she said. "I should have a long time ago; maybe this could have been averted."

"They still would have wanted an end to the Cylon alliance," Lee pointed out.

"Perhaps," Laura agreed, although she didn't really know what to think. But speculation wouldn't get anyone anywhere. "But I've lost my aide, and I'm rapidly losing my strength. I'm going to be relying more and more on you."

"I see," Lee said, his eyes narrowing.

He was thinking about Zarek, Laura could tell it. But she wasn't sure how she wanted to handle that yet, perhaps because she wasn't sure if Zarek was involved in this or not. The answer made a world of difference, and Laura didn't feel like pushing the subject with Lee right now.

"You'll do well with it, Lee," Laura said quietly. "You have the best interests of the people at heart. But remember what I said, about the difference between what is right and what's best. Sometimes, there is no right, and sometimes, what is just harms the whole too badly. It's a distinction that can be tough to draw, but it is necessary."

The Raptor was beginning its docking procedures. Lee looked like he wanted to say something more, but had decided to hold his tongue. Laura was glad. The less time she spent justifying and the more time she spent preparing, the better off everyone would be.

***

The last time Gaius had been in the sickbay, it had been when Felix Gaeta had lost his leg. Gaius hadn't actually approached him, but he had at least come up to visit.

This visit was no easier.

She lay sleeping in the bed… or, at least, her eyes were closed. It made it much easier to approach than it had been when Gaeta was awake. Gaius quietly pushed the curtains aside and walked in on velvet soft feet.

"I can hear you, you know," Caprica said without opening her eyes. "You never were as stealthy as you would like to imagine."

"Yes, well…." Flustered, Gaius fell back on manners. "I just came by to see how you were doing. I'm terribly sorry for your loss, you know. Terribly sorry."

"What do you want, Gaius?" Caprica asked, her voice weary and cutting through pretension.

"Nothing, I just wanted-"

"Tell me, or I will call the medics and have you ushered out of here."

Gaius sighed. "I recently lost someone very dear to me," he said softly. "Someone I cared about very much."

Caprica's brow furrowed in concentration, and then her eyes widened in recognition. "Are you really talking about Gaeta?" she said incredulously. "You never gave him a thought."

"Exactly," Gaius admitted, stepping closer to her bedside. "That's my point exactly. There was someone who meant a great deal to me, and I lost any chance to make things right between us, to say those last words, because I never gave him a thought. I'll have to live with that knowledge the rest of my life. I don't want to make the same mistake again."

Caprica stared at him. "You're joking," she said, disbelievingly. "You're choosing this moment- now, when I've just lost…" she shook her head. "Get out," she ordered him.

"I'm not trying to seduce you!" Gaius protested. "I honestly only meant to-"

"Get. Out."

"But I-"

"I have a call button," she said. "I will use it."

He had to relent. "Fine," he muttered, stepping away from her. "But I want you to know-"

The curtain pushed open, and Ishay entered, looking from one to the other of them with a stern expression. "Is something wrong?"

"Dr. Baltar," Caprica said significantly, "was just leaving."

"Right," Ishay said, grabbing Gaius by the arm. "Come on. Let's go."

Resigned to the inevitable, Gaius followed Ishay out of the cubicle. But when he turned around one last time, Caprica was still watching him.

***

"I don't like it," Galen said as he poured out a drink for him and for Sam.

"What, Tory being shot?" Sam asked, taking the drink moodily.

Galen's shook his head. "No. I mean, I'm not exactly turning cartwheels over that, but it is what it is." He shrugged and fiddled with the glass. "I don't like not knowing who else was in on that frakking caper."

Sam shrugged. "Any word on Caprica?" he asked, rather than answering Galen's last comment.

Galen grimaced. "Yeah. She lost the baby."

"How's Tigh taking it?"

"How can he take it?" Galen knocked back his drink. "He's Tigh."

"Right." Sam sighed. He ran a finger around the rim of his glass. "Galen, when we were in the cell, you said you remembered Tory and Tigh not getting along."

"Pretty much hating each other," Galen agreed.

"How did you remember that? I mean, was it like on Earth, where you got a flash?"

"Something like that, but not as sharp and intense." Galen studied the alcohol in his glass. "More like… you know that feeling when you've been trying all day to remember a song, and you just get a lyric or two in your head?" Sam nodded. "Like that."

"Was it before or after they got you with the second tranquilizer?"

"After." Galen frowned. "You're not suggesting that we all start hitting the tranqs in order to bring back memories, are you?"

"No," Sam said. "Just… wondering if there's another way to access them. Chemical, electrical… I don't know."

"Well, go stick your finger in a light socket and see if that works," Galen suggested. "Or, failing that, get really, really drunk."

Sam knocked back his drink and extended his glass for a refill. "Let's try that route for now."

***

Saul thought he wouldn't be surprised to see Caprica packing up her meager possessions, but when he opened the hatch to their quarters and found her doing just that, he was.

"You don't have to go," he told her.

Caprica smiled at him. "You and I both know that this was about the baby." The last word landed on an open wound, and he winced. "It's best if I go."

"We could try to make it about more," he offered, but his heart wasn't in it. She wasn't Ellen, and he wasn't… whoever. She smiled, and didn't answer, only slipped another shirt into her small bundle. Saul cleared his throat. "What are you going to do now?"

"It's a good question," she admitted.

"Will you back to the baseship?"

She slipped her last piece of clothing into her bundle and sat down on the bed. "I don't know," she admitted, looking a little lost. "I could. But I don't really feel at home among the Cylons any more."

"Are you at home on Galactica?" he asked, sitting down beside her and taking her hand.

She turned her hand over in his, lacing her fingers through his in a helpless sort of gesture. "No," she admitted. "But at least I don't expect to feel at home on Galactica. I'd like to stay here, but I don't want to go down to Dogsville."

He thought about Dogsville and the periodic reports they were getting from Baltar. "No," he agreed. "You don't want to do that. And it's safest if you stay on Galactica." The obvious answer hung between them. "We've sworn two Cylons into the Fleet," he finally said. "Lieutenant Agathon and Lieutenant Conoy. We could talk to Bill- make it a third."

"What would I do?" she asked.

"Could always find a place for you in the CIC. We're getting desperate in there."

Her smile turned sad. "I don't think you want me anywhere near your computers," she said.

"Pilot?" he asked. "Deck crew?"

She shook her head, biting her lip. "I just want to fight."

"I can talk to the Marines," he suggested. "They can always use a few more soldiers. Once Cottle's cleared you for that kind of work."

"I'd appreciate it," she said formally. "It won't be long."

"I'll see what I can do."

"Thank you." Caprica stood up. Despite her grief and her exhaustion, she was still beautiful, especially as she smiled at him. "Well, goodbye, Saul," she said, extending her hand.

He took it. Another man might have hugged her, but Saul thought even if the beginning of the relationship had had no dignity, the ending could. "Goodbye, Caprica," he said. "I'll be in touch."

She smiled again and walked out the door. He watched her go, and then sat down in on the bed. She hadn't taken much, but he had to admit the room felt emptier.

But no matter. The room had felt much, much emptier before.

Chapter Text

"Does the Fleet know who the Five are?"

Pain coursed through Felix's limbs, like fire racing up and down each nerve. His back arched and a scream tried to rip from his throat, even as he fought it. He tried to hold on to something, but there was nothing to grip on the smooth surface under his hands.

The pain eased, and the red blur in front of his eyes faded until he could see Cavil looking down at him. "Does the Fleet know who the Five are?" Cavil repeated.

Felix pressed his lips shut, because otherwise he'd tell him. He took a deep, shaking breath and tried to focus his thoughts elsewhere. When this had begun, he'd tried thinking of Louis, but he'd found that that didn't work during the torture. It was only a comfort after, when he was back in the cell and the others were asleep. Imagining himself on the Galactica didn't work, and neither did anything from Picon. So he cast his mind back to New Caprica, calling up the cold and the anger and the fear and the hate, because that was the only thing that took him away.

"I'm getting tired of asking this," Cavil told him, picking up the electrode. "Do the Fleet know who they are?"

Felix didn't answer, and the pain began again. New Caprica, he thought. New Caprica. And this time he could taste the cold air on his tongue, smell the settlement, and feel the ground under his two feet. The wind whipped through, stirring up dust and kicking the tents. A silhouetted form hunched over as he hurried by, turning up its coat collar and trying to block out the wind.

"This is how you escape?"

The voice was real. Real, female, and familiar. Felix turned to look, and his eyes widened. Dee was standing beside him, her BDU jacket wrapped around her, her hands shoved in her pockets as she looked at the settlement and the wind teased her hair.

"Dee?" he said incredulously. "You're dead."

"And you're not on New Caprica, either," she pointed out. She looked around. "Why New Caprica?"

"It works," he said. It was funny. With Dee here, the pain faded into something… like a part of his mind was still screaming, but the rest of him was far distant. New Caprica became more real, more solid by the second. "I don't know why, but it works. But why are you here? You were never even on New Caprica. Not for long, anyway."

Dee considered for a long moment before answering. There was something about her, something that Felix couldn't put his finger on, but she was different than the Dee he'd known. Not more confident, not more serene… more calculating, that was it. "You'll figure it out, I guess," she said eventually.

He nodded absently, and then reached out a tentative hand. He had to touch her… had to see if… Dee noticed, and she reached out too, her fingers lacing through his.

And somewhere, out of his mind and back in reality, he finally screamed.

***

The Four hadn't examined Sarah in a while, and she was hardly surprised when he came for her.

"It's a delicate balance," he explained as they walked to the examination room. "We don't want to poke and prod too much, especially in the early stages. But at the same time, we want to make sure the baby's healthy."

"Right," she said sourly. She studied him out of the corner of her eye. Like all the Fours, he wore that smooth, amiable, professional mask that often his what he was thinking. "If you were so concerned about the baby's health, you wouldn't be keeping me in that cell."

He smiled. "The Eight that now calls herself Agathon bore Hera in a cell. And by all reports, the child is remarkably healthy."

She swore to herself.

He found the fetus much more easily this time, either because he knew where to look or because she was further along. She was losing track of the hours and the days, not being linked in to any sort of datastream.

"Looks good," he said, finally pulling away. "In another few weeks we should be able to see the heart."

Sarah swallowed hard. For some reason, just hearing the Four refer to a heart made it feel so much more real. "I don't understand," she heard herself saying.

The Four was preparing a needle and syringe. "You don't understand what?" he asked.

"Why me? What was so special about me that I got pregnant?"

"That's part of what we're hoping to find out. Believe me, this has only just begun." His face was serious as he slipped the needle into her vein.

"Do you really think it has anything to do with love?" Sarah asked. The Four didn't answer, just focused on her blood flowing into the vial. "You don't, do you?" she asked quietly.

"She did get pregnant, you know," the Four said. "On New Caprica."

"She did?" Sarah accessed her memories of that time, and then extended her search to shortly after. And yes, now that the Four mentioned it, she remembered whispers about her sister being pregnant. But some people said they were rumors, and… "It was a hybrid child," she remembered.

The Four nodded. "It made people believe that she loved him. But she didn't. She loved me, and I loved her. I don't think anyone ever believed that, but I know the validity of the statement. She couldn't stand him."

"Who?" She was almost sure she knew.

He looked up at her and raised his eyebrows. "Gaeta." He withdrew the needle and placed a small patch of gauze over the wound. "Hold that."

Sarah obeyed, turning the implications over in her mind. She looked at the Four, calm and logical, with clean lines and structure, and she thought of Gaeta. Gaeta, who was messy and coming apart at the seams, a ball of pent up emotion and anger and grief. She nodded absently. "She miscarried though, right?"

He shrugged. "When one considers all of the divisions and recombinations that must occur in order for a fetus to come to term, it's mind boggling that there are any babies at all. But yes, I'm not quite sure what to make of this particular data."

It seemed odd that he was willing to talk to her about it. Sarah thought that that might be the most interesting data of all. He didn't look at her face as he taped the gauze pad down on her arm. "You're all done. Everything seems to be progressing as it should."

"Thank you."

"They'll take you back to your cell." He walked over to the wall and touched the datastream, and she saw that concentration. And as she left, he didn't look at her at all.

Gaeta was insane if he thought this was going to work.

***

He was back in the cold bleakness of New Caprica, and Dee had been waiting for him. Today she was wearing a black coat with a thick gray muffler. She looked lovely and serene, waiting for him outside his tent. He pulled the flap aside and let her in.

"This was your home?" Dee asked, looking around.

"You never saw it, did you?" Felix answered. He winced and rubbed at his shoulder and arm. "That one hurt." Somewhere far away he could see Cavil leaning over his spasming body, electrode in hand.

Dee took his elbow, bringing him more firmly back to the projection. "Were you happy here at all?" she asked.

Felix frowned. "A few times," he said. "Galen visited me here, you know. Back before the occupation, when we were really friends. We had a few drinks, talked about the union. But mostly I just slept here. All of my happiness was on Colonial One."

"Baltar?" Dee asked, far more sympathetically than she might have in life.

"Some. And Zarek. Don't even say it," he warned, but Dee just smiled.

"That's the thing about being dead," she said. "It does sort of grant a greater understanding. I'm glad you had that friendship, Felix."

"Or I desperately want you to understand, so my subconscious is adding that as I hallucinate you," he said wryly.

"No. I'm real," Dee said. She walked over to the desk. As she opened the drawers idly, Felix noticed that they were empty.

"There's a reason we're here, isn't there?" he asked her.

There was a piece of paper on the work surface of the desk. Dee picked it up and read it. She turned and handed it to him, her face pale and stricken.

It was a death list.

Felix had only ever seen one official death list, but the sight was forever emblazoned on his brain. He took this one from Dee's cold hand, and slowly dropped his eyes to study it more carefully. It didn't take long for the meaning to sink in… on it were the names he'd given his Eight.

The projection faded, and he saw Cavil watching him as he screamed.

***

"Gaeta." Brooks knelt down beside the man and turned him over. "Are you okay, LT? Sir?" He drew back suddenly, and stared at his hand. "Oh gods…"

"What's wrong?" Sarah asked. She glanced over his shoulder, and saw that the palm of his hand was smeared with blood. As painful as Cavil's tortures were, neither man ever came back with blood flowing. "Where's it coming from?"

"It looks like his ear," Brooks said.

"That can't be good," Sarah said, and Brooks shuddered. "He's getting angrier."

"Maybe we've misjudged how long he's willing to let us live," Brooks said, going pale.

Sarah looked down at Gaeta, and then back up at Brooks. She couldn't say that she'd particularly grown to like either of them, but she was mildly surprised to find she did care if they lived or died. It was strange to know that. Brooks didn't register her pensiveness; he was too busy trying to figure out if Gaeta was okay.

They heard footsteps.

"Not already," Brooks whispered, and Sarah put a hand on his arm.

"Calm down. It's probably the Four." She tensed, waiting, praying to God that she was right. But it was a shock when she saw the face of an Eight she'd once considered a sister, a part of her. "Boomer."

Ellen had been sitting on the bed, watching silently. She stood now, taking in the Eight. "Boomer," she said, smiling. "It's been a while."

"I didn't quite believe Cavil," Boomer said, her eyes fastened on Sarah, who stood up. "Is it really true? That you're pregnant?"

Sarah nodded. Boomer took a tentative step forward, and then another. She reached out and placed her hand on Sarah's still-flat belly. For a moment, her face flashed wonder, and then she turned away.

"It can't be real."

Sarah shrugged, feeling sick to her stomach. She never even should have let this traitor near her, much less near her baby. She knelt back down beside Gaeta, who was lying on the floor. "He needs medical attention," she told Boomer stiffly.

Boomer knelt on Gaeta's other side, taking in his face. Her eyebrows went up. "Felix?" she asked.

To Sarah's surprise, Gaeta's eyelashes fluttered open. "Sharon?" He stared at her, and the realization changed his face. "Boomer."

"It's me."

Gaeta closed his eyes again, growing. "The names," he said. "Dee showed me the names."

"That's he first thing he's said since he's come back," Sarah told Boomer, but Boomer looked as confused as she felt. Gaeta closed his eyes again.

Boomer sat back on her heels, looking over at Ellen. "Dee showed him?" she asked.

Ellen shrugged. "He keeps talking about Dee."

"They're very close."

"Were," Brooks corrected. "They were very close. Dee's dead. He's been hallucinating her."

"That can't be good," Boomer said, frowning.

"What do you care?" Sarah asked. "You've sided with Cavil now. All your lofty talk about understanding humans and living in peace… and here you are, nothing but a machine."

"And that's all you are as well. The difference between us is that you see it as a sort of defect," Boomer said. She was trying to maintain a cool demeanor, but underneath it was cracking. She turned away from Sarah and looked back at Brooks. "I know you." Brooks nodded. "You always fixed my scrubbers when I'd damage them in my landings. And you'd never tell Chief."

"Yes. And then we found out what you really were, and all those good times were gone. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane."

Boomer looked troubled. "I'll get the Four," she said finally. "But I'm not sure how much he'll be able to do for Felix." She glanced anxiously at Ellen, and Ellen smiled in approval.

Not for the first time, Sarah wondered what pressure Cavil was using on Ellen, and for what purpose. He didn't appear to be torturing her, at least not like he did with Gaeta and Brooks. And yet, Ellen was most definitely a prisoner. But while Ellen had been extremely forthcoming, she hadn't mentioned much about that.

"Boomer," Brooks said, his voice hard and angry. "Didn't expect to see her here."

"She sided with the Ones," Sarah replied, equally hard. "She cast her lot in with them, and now she has to live with her decision."

They exchanged glances, a moment of solidarity that neither of them were expecting. Ellen cleared her throat, and Sarah turned to her. "How long has she known about you?"

"You're asking me about time?" Ellen laughed. "Before you came here, but not the entire time I've been here. But for a long time." She sighed. "Those choices, that free will we gave you… it can come back to bite one in the ass."

"Well, why didn't you tell me?" Sarah demanded. "She's… she's my… you and I… why?"

The mirth left Ellen's face. "I keep my own counsel, Sarah."

"What else aren't you telling me?" Sarah demanded. "You hid the fact that she's here-"

"You should have known that."

"And that she talks to you. That you've had contact with her. What else are you hiding? Where else do you go when Cavil takes you out of this cell? Frak, should I even be trusting you?"

Brooks put a hand on her arm, but Sarah shook it off, glaring at Ellen. Ellen held her gaze easily, her arms crossed as she drew herself up. "Whether you trust me or not is your own decision," she said haughtily. "I can't do anything else to convince you otherwise. But the people I love are back there on that Fleet, the same as you, and our end goal is the same. We both want to rejoin the Colonial Fleet. I think that's quite enough to be going on."

Sarah looked at Brooks, but before he could say anything they heard footsteps again, and Boomer returned with the Four. Sarah stepped back as he knelt down by Gaeta. They waited in silence.

"He'll be okay," the Four finally said. "It's not as bad as it appears. Boomer said that he said something?"

"He said that Dee- one of the humans- showed him the names."

"The names?" The Four sat back on his heels and got very still.

"Babble," Sarah dismissed.

"No. Not babble." The Four looked down at Gaeta, and squeezed his arm. "This Dee… who is she?"

"She's no one special," Ellen said. "But she and Gaeta were very close before she died."

"Was she on New Caprica?"

"No. I don't believe she was."

"Then how could she know?" he wondered.

"Know what?" Sarah asked, although she already knew the answer.

"The names… my Eight was getting them from Gaeta. It was her mission." He looked deeply disturbed.

"The mission that got her pregnant," Sarah muttered. She glanced down at Gaeta again, and couldn't help a shiver of disgust that he'd let himself be taken advantage of so easily. "No wonder you believed that she never loved him."

Brooks and Ellen exchanged glances, and Boomer looked uncomfortable. The Four simply shook his head.

"I'm guessing that some psychological trauma is occurring," he said. "I suspect, Gaeta being what he is, he did not fully realize that the names he was giving us were people that we were eliminating. At least, he never consciously realized it. But he must have had some idea, some hint, and I would imagine he's flipped off that circuit in his mind and deluded himself into believing it didn't happen."

"She said she never helped him," Sarah said. "When we were brought here. She almost told him."

"She said enough that he couldn't keep it down anymore," the Four mused. "I see. And he's conjuring this… this avatar in the form of someone he trusts to help ease him through it." He shrugged.

"Or it's possible that she's a messenger from God," Ellen said. Brooks snorted, and even Sarah and the Four stared at her skeptically. "Stranger things have happened," Ellen said.

"Have you ever seen a messenger from God?" the Four asked.

"Yes," Ellen smiled. "On Earth, before the attacks. And he looked like you."

"I'm hardly a-"

"We designed the Fours to look like the messenger that had spared our lives, Saul and I."

"You… you designed…" the Four stared at her incredulously.

"Yes," Ellen said. "That's where several of the humanoid models got their form from. Saul and I saw a messenger that looked like a Four, Galen and Sam saw one that they tried to recapture in an Eight. Tory saw one that looked like a Three. But that's neither here nor there. The real question is, how is he controlling you?" Ellen asked the Four. "How is he buying your silence to the rest of your model? I can't imagine that it's anything like with Boomer, here." She glanced sidelong at the Eight, who looked down.

The Four stiffened. "I don't need to tell you that."

Ellen raised her eyebrows. "It's Sarah, isn't it? He told you that he's kept a download of your Eight's memories, and after Sarah gives birth or miscarries, he'll wipe her mind and give her your Eight… and you'll have her back."

Sarah's stomach lurched dangerously, and the Four only looked away, his lips pressed together so hard that they turned white.

"That's… that's sick," Brooks said. "That's just not right."

"It won't really be her, you know," Ellen continued. "It doesn't work that way."

"Keep Gaeta lying down for a while, if he tries to get up," the Four said. "And wake him up periodically. If I'm wrong about the damage that Cavil did, then he's bleeding inside his head, and he won't last much longer." He grabbed Boomer's arm. "Come on," he ordered. "You're wanted elsewhere."

Sarah didn't realize that she was shaking until Ellen put an arm around her. "He can't do it, Sarah," she said. "It won't work out right."

"But he doesn't believe that, and he'll try. He'll try… and then there will be nothing left of me." Sarah looked at Ellen. "You've had your memories taken from you. You know what that feels like."

"Yes," Ellen said. "And yet, despite the fact that he took them… Saul and I still found each other. There were billions of men to choose from, and I still chose Saul. He couldn't take it all." Ellen's face hardened. "But yes, he took more than enough."

Sarah sat down on her bed, hugging her arms. "Hey," Brooks said, "let's look at it another way, okay? The Four was really upset when Ellen said it wouldn't work. We've got our in with him. We found a chip- with the gods' help, we can get him to turn on Cavil."

"With the gods' help," Sarah echoed sourly. She glanced over at Gaeta, who was still unconscious. "Your gods had better work fast, because he doesn't have much time. And if I miscarry, I don't, either."

***

Felix and Brooks had pooled the three socks they had between them, washed them in the head, and tied them into a ball. They then sat on the floor, leaning against opposite walls and counted how many times they could toss the ball back and forth without missing. Their current record was two hundred and ninety four.

"You know what bothers me about all this?" Brooks asked, tossing the sock ball.

"What specifically?" Felix returned.

"Have you noticed that, on a physical level, our lives are better as prisoners of war than they were when were in the Fleet?"

"No algae, plenty of sleep, soap, toilet paper, and clean water, and I've actually been off my leg," Felix agreed. The ball went back and forth between them with an easy rhythm. "The thought has occurred to me. Although I wouldn't mind some pain meds for my leg. And maybe a little less physical torture."

"Your leg still hurts? You haven't said anything."

Felix shrugged. "What's the point? It's hard enough all of us being stuck in here without me complaining about it." He sighed. "But yeah. It still hurts."

Brooks didn't answer, probably because there was nothing to say. Instead, he looked over at Sarah. She was sitting, her knees pulled up to her chest, staring into space. "She's been awful quiet since Ellen figured out what they're going to do with her," he said.

"Wouldn't you be? Having everything ripped away from you like that?"

"Well, yeah. But still. She doesn't seem the type to give up."

Sarah looked up. "I'm not giving up," she informed them. "God, you two really think I can't hear you? I'm sitting right here!"

"We didn't think you were listening," Felix said.

"I do have ears and they function just fine," Sarah snapped.

Brooks tossed the sockball at her, and she caught it reflexively. "So, any idea of what they're doing with Ellen?"

Sarah shrugged. "I don't think he's torturing her, although I've yet to figure out why."

"There's got to be a line that he won't cross somewhere," Felix mused.

Sarah stared at him in disbelief. "You really think that? About Cavil?"

No. He thought he saw Dee out of the corner of his eye, but he didn't turn his head to look. Instead, he just shrugged. "It's about the only reason I can come up with."

"Or he can't run the chance of the others finding out," Brooks corrected with a note of sternness in his voice. "If they find out that he's been holding one of the Final Five, they probably won't like it, but they'll adapt. If he finds out they've been torturing someone that they practically worship…"

"Unless he gets desperate," Sarah said.

"Do you have any idea what he wants?" Gaeta asked.

"It's not like he's sat down and told me, and Ellen's keeping her own counsel," Sarah said bitterly. She couldn't believe how much that still hurt. "But a logical guess would be that he either wants to create more models of Cylons or recreate the resurrection technology. The Five put both in place."

"I didn't know that," Brooks said as he caught the ball and sent it flying towards Felix.

"Me, either," Felix said.

"I just found out myself."

"Anything else about Cylon history we should be aware of?" Brooks asked, his eyes narrowing. "Like why there are models One through Six and Eight, but no sevens?"

He said it mockingly, but Sarah looked down, and Felix gripped the ball. "You're kidding," he said. "You know? When I asked Caprica Six, Boomer, and her on New Caprica, they all swore they didn't know."

"Ellen told me," Sarah admitted. "She said John destroyed the Daniels- the Sevens- because he was jealous."

Felix's brow furrowed. "And what else have you and Ellen been talking about?"

"It's not necessarily all your business," Sarah said.

"I wouldn't know. It's not like you've been giving us any insight into the matter." He threw the ball to her.

"And how does knowing that there used to be Sevens change what you know about Cavil? Forgive me, but I figured your little torture sessions with him had already clued you into the fact that he's a sadistic creep. Cylon history doesn't concern you."

"Well, technically, it does," Brooks pointed out, "since humans created Cylons."

Sarah threw the ball with more force. "Not exactly something to be boasting about in here."

"Fine, since the Cylons frakking destroyed humanity."

"We saw the error of that decision. We came to New Caprica to build an era of peace."

The lists seared into vivid fire in Felix's mind. "Peace?" he said. "You really think we had peace on New Caprica?"

"I didn't say it worked," Sarah snapped. "But it was meant to."

"Might have had a better chance if you weren't killing off humans left and right," Felix sneered.

"You were the one handing them over to us," Sarah pointed out. Felix stared at her.

"No I wasn't," he said. "Baltar-"

"Speaking of things that were never mentioned…" Brooks said. Felix turned at attack from this unexpected quarter. "What the frak were you thinking?"

"I wasn't the one thinking. Baltar surrendered to them, not me."

Brooks stared at him. "I'm not talking about that," he said slowly. "I'm talking about trusting a Cylon. Frakking her."

His stomach dropped out and he stared at Brooks, his mouth nearly hanging open. "How do you know that?"

Brooks shrugged. "It wasn't that hard to guess, and the Four confirmed it. Wouldn't have thought it of you."

He remembered nights on New Caprica with the Eight… punctuations in long, lonely, fear-filled days. She'd been… he didn't know. He'd never envisioned a future with her. He'd done his best not to even think about her when he was back on Galactica.

The names, Dee whispered in his mind. The lists. He turned his head sharply to the side, but she wasn't actually there.

"She…" Felix began slowly, "she was kind. Or I thought she was. I…" he couldn't say much more, because the truth was he'd told himself this was significant and it had been, even if it was too messy to untangle.

"She used you," Brooks said simply.

Felix shook his head. "No," he denied. "There was no reason for her to. It doesn't make sense."

"You were the Chief of Staff to the President of the Colonies."

"Not exactly a position of power when the Cylons came."

"Not power. Information."

"Of which the Cylons had access to on their own." His heart was speeding up and his palms were beginning to sweat. Brooks was watching, his mouth a straight line and his eyes dull and hard as he tossed the sockball from hand to hand, still sitting with his back to the wall. "Why are you doing this?" Felix asked.

"He didn't know," Sarah said, looking at Brooks. "He doesn't know about it all."

Felix looked at Sarah and heard himself asking it. "What don't I know?" The words fell in distinct droplets from his lips.

Sarah opened her mouth, but before she could respond the Centurions came in, leading Ellen. She looked flustered but unharmed, and extremely agitated. Cavil smirked at her as she stepped back into the cell with as much dignity as she could manage, and then nodded at the Centurions.

Felix swallowed hard as they approached, blind fear almost overwhelming him. He bit his own tongue and raised his chin, because he was not going to beg. Not now, not ever. One of the Centurions gripped his arm and hauled him to a standing position, and then committed that incredible humiliation of throwing him over one shoulder. The others looked away out of courtesy, and Felix closed his eyes.

It was terrifying, humiliating, and he knew that hours of pain were in front of him. And yet, he couldn't help but be relieved that Sarah had never gotten a chance to answer his question.

***

"Maybe we shouldn't push him," Brooks temporized. "We should probably both shut the frak up about New Caprica."

"Everyone paid for what they did on New Caprica, on both sides," Sarah said. "There's no reason that Gaeta should be any different."

"Well, that's just the thing," Brooks said. "I think he's been paying ever since he got back on board Galactica."

"He played both sides," Sarah said with a shrug. "He'll pay a worse price than most. That's what happens."

"What did New Caprica cost you?" Brooks asked her. "If everyone paid, what was your price?"

She thought of New Caprica, of the cold and the stink and the rain… and Jesse's face smiling at her as they made their vows alone on a river bank, in the presence of a One. She'd come so close to losing that, to losing everything she had.

"It's not your business," she told Brooks. "But believe me, I paid, too."

***

This time the settlement was empty, the aftermath of the rescue. Even the Cylons had abandoned it. The wind kicked up dust, whistling through the spaces between the tents.

"It's eerie," Dee said.

"Says the hallucination that tells me she's a messenger of God."

"Come on."

"Where?" Felix asked, but Dee took his hand. Their feet crunched in the dust, the sounds loud in his ears. It amazed him how this could seem so real, rendering the pain his corporeal self was feeling almost irrelevant. He clung to Dee's hand as she led him through the broken city.

They came to the edge of the settlement, and a hole opened up before him. He looked down into it and then drew back, choking on bile as he turned away, closing his eyes.

"Felix, open your eyes and look around you," Dee urged, her voice gentle but firm. She tugged him to the edge of the hole. "You need to see."

He tried to go back, tried to return to reality and the pain and Cavil's face above him, the shouted questions and the anger and the desperate desire to just die and end it all there, but Dee's hand was firmly in his and she wouldn't let him go.

"Why are you doing this to me?" he shouted at her. "Why are you dragging me out here, why are you…" he couldn't finish. Dee blurred in front of him, not because the vision was fading but because he was crying. He wanted to stop, but he couldn't. He was being broken from outside and in, and he wasn't sure he could take it anymore.

Dee stepped closer. He could feel the heat of her body, even through both of their clothing. Her eyes were large and expressive, just like they'd been in life, and in them he saw the most profound sorrow he'd ever seen in his life.

"Come look," Dee whispered. "You can't hide from it anymore, Felix.. Come with me." Her voice was soft and hypnotic now. "You're almost there."

He tightened his grip on her hand, and let her lead him back to the hole. He followed slowly, unsteady despite the fact this was all a hallucination and he had two perfectly good feet. They crept to the edge of the hole, and he leaned over and looked.

It was an open mass grave, and the corpses numbered by the thousands.

He squeezed Dee's hand so hard the fragile bones ground together under his fingers, but she didn't cry out. She just stared into the grave herself, tears lingering on her lashes. And he saw what she wanted him to see.

So many of the faces he didn't know, corpses whom he had never met during their lives. But here and there, he spotted the ones he knew. Eyes were frozen open, lips parted in silent screams, flesh in various states of decay. He sank to his knees, staring at the faces.

"I know some of these people," he told Dee as she crouched beside him. "But they aren't dead. They shouldn't be dead. I got them out of detention. I… she…"

"She never helped you, Felix," Dee said, taking his arms and turning him so he was looking at her face. "She never helped you. She took your lists and she used them. She killed almost everyone on them."

"No. Not everyone. I saw… I saw people." The tears were flowing freely down his face now, and his nose was clogging up. "I saw Heather Redman and I saw-"

"She let some of them go, so you would believe her. She played you, Felix." Dee reached out and ran gentle fingers through his curls. "Shh. I know." She pulled him close and he held on to her, his face buried in her shoulder. "I know. It's going to be okay."

New Caprica faded around him, and he found himself back in his cell, on a bed and tears streaking his face. He opened his eyes fully, and saw Brooks sitting beside him.

"Hey, LT. It was time to wake you up. You okay?"

Felix nodded silently, although he wasn't sure he'd ever be okay again. Brooks gave a grim smile and then backed off, giving Felix space.

But when Felix looked again, Dee was standing beside Brooks, wearing a white dress and a serene smile.

He closed his eyes again.

***

Boomer hadn't entered their cell since the first time, but Sarah was aware that she spoke with Ellen frequently, when Cavil took Ellen out of the cell. This time she entered unaccompanied, glancing around her like she expected to be attacked.

"You're not welcome here," Sarah told her.

"Like you have any say in the matter," Boomer countered. She looked at Brooks, who was sulking in the corner, nursing his wounds, and Gaeta, who was huddled in the opposite corner, eyes closed. "Look, I came to see if there was anything you needed."

"Anything we need?" Sarah demanded. Brooks looked up, and even Gaeta managed to rouse himself to a glare. "You're joking, right?"

"Look. I know there's not much I can do, but there is a little. A little extra food, or clothing, or… I know it's not much. But it's something."

Sarah pounced before she could think, slamming Boomer back against the wall. The Centurions lurched forward, but Boomer put up a hand to stop them. "What are you playing at?" Sarah hissed at her. "What the frak are you doing? You picked your side. You can't just turn around and say, no, I'm going to be on this one today."

"I'm not," Boomer said. "But there are things you don't do, even in war. Even your enemies deserve a little consideration." She glanced over Sarah's shoulder at Gaeta and Brooks. "I learned that from Adama."

"Well, we don't need your consideration. So unless you plan on handing us guns or escorting us to a Raider to escape, get the frak out."

Boomer glared at her and pushed her off, then stormed out with her head held high. Sarah watched her go, swallowing to try to get rid of the bad taste in her mouth.

Brooks approached her. "You don't think that was a bad idea?" he said mildly.

"There's nothing she would have done for us that they aren't doing now."

He nodded. "Is it just me, or did that sound like a goodbye to you?"

Sarah cocked her head. "Now that you mention it… that can't be good."

They exchanged glances, both of them frustrated with their own impotence, both of them worried and having no idea of what was going to happen. Brooks sighed.

"We've got to get out of here."

***

I killed them. The thought played on a loop in his head, and now that he knew it, it wouldn't go away. I killed them. I handed them to her, gave them her names, and I killed them.

Dee sighed. "They were all in detention, you know," she said, sitting down beside him on the cold metal of the cell floor and adjusting the folds of her dress.

"People survived the detention center," Felix muttered.

"Yes," Dee temporized, "But given enough time, they wouldn't have. And if we're going to bring up surviving the detention center, can I point out two hundred people you saved?"

"It doesn't balance out."

She draped an arm around his shoulder, and he found he could lean his head against her. But it didn't bring comfort in any way.

The Four entered. Felix jerked up, but Dee didn't disappear as the Four approached. He knelt down in front of Felix, Brooks and Sarah watching from across the room.

"Let's see the leg," he ordered, his voice clipped and brusque.

Felix obediently extended the leg. "It looks better," Dee said as the Four prodded at the stump.

"Yeah, well, I've been staying off of it," Felix said, wincing as the Four hit a sensitive spot. He looked up.

"Excuse me?"

"Nothing." Felix tried not to move, but it wasn't easy when the Four was pressing against the stump. "Where's Ellen?" The Four glanced up at his face, and then looked back down at the stump. A lump of fear formed in Felix's throat. "Is she alive?" The Four didn't answer, and Felix leaned in, grabbing his shirt. "Is she alive?"

The Four disengaged Felix's hand. "She's alive," he said gruffly. "But only because Cavil came up with a better idea than cutting open her brain."

Felix gaped, but Dee just shrugged. "He might have had a shot at reassembling all of the electrical impulses into something he could read," she admitted, "but it's not nearly as sure a thing as he would like. Ask him if he would have had to do the cutting."

"Would you have been doing the cutting?" Felix asked. The Four didn't answer, and Felix leaned in. "You would have, wouldn't you? You didn't want to cut into one of the Final Five's brains."

He didn't look up at Felix. "Would you want to cut into a living brain?"

"Never seen a Four be squeamish before."

"Be careful on the whole individuality thing," Dee cautioned. "He's not ready for that, and you know how people react when they're not ready to hear something." Felix glared at her, but she smiled and twirled a pen between her fingers. He focused back on the Four. "So, are you being given orders to cut us up? I've wondered about that."

He smirked. "Cavil thinks that if he took your other leg, you'd find a way to kill yourself."

"Well," Felix said, with an intake of breath, "he doesn't think much of me, does he?"

"Of course," Dee muttered, "he'd be right. And if you're dead, you've got no value whatsoever to him."

The Four blinked slowly. "He only thinks that because I told him that."

Felix heard Sarah take a slow breath, and step closer. He shook his head at her as imperceptibly as possible. Her mouth nearly disappeared into a hard line, but she took a step back. "You're not happy with any of this," Felix said softly. "Not with how Cavil's treating a member of the Final Five, not with the idea of torture, not with incarcerating the first Cylon to be carrying a fully Cylon fetus, and most definitely not with Cavil shooting her, after she'd made her decision to come here."

"Shut up," the Four growled.

"So where did Ellen go?" Felix said softly. "What happened to her?"

"She went back to Galactica," the Four said. "With Boomer." He finished up and stood up hastily. "I have to go," he said, and hurried out of the cell.

Sarah stared at him, and Brooks began to smile. Dee grinned proudly. "Good job, Felix," she said.

"For the first time, I actually really think this might work," he told her incredulously.

Chapter Text

The stitches were out. There had only been seven of them, but they were no longer there under Louis's fingers, which meant Cottle would no longer yell at him for playing with them. The gash had healed to an angry red scar above his eyebrow.

The DRADIS beeped, but it was just Starbuck flying CAP. Louis stared at it, his eyes feeling like burned holes in his head. He hadn't slept in the week since… it had happened- not really.

The phone buzzed, and he picked it up. "Louis, I'm showing a docking, and I don't have a code. You got anything?" Jesse asked.

Louis stared at the DRADIS, trying to will his mind into activity. "I've got nothing, Jess," he said. He glanced back over his shoulder out of habit, and was just in time to catch the spark in Jesse's eyes. He sighed. He'd agreed to eat dinner with Jesse after this shift, for the first time since the… whole thing. On the one hand, he was looking forward to it, but on the other, facing Jesse was hard for so many reasons. He thought that-

The DRADIS beeped again, and this time, it wasn't one of the Fleet ships.

"Incoming, bearing seven six two," he said, snapping into action. "Single ship."

"Raider?" Adama demanded.

Louis shook his head. "No, sir, squawk's Colonial."

"Confirming," Jesse interrupted. "It's Colonial, sir. It's not one I recognize, but…" he quickly typed something and then nodded, "it's an older code. But it's authentic."

Louis stared hard at the screen, and then as the DRADIS picked up some more identifying information, his eyes flared open. "Sir," he said his voice sounding strange to his own ears, "I think that's Raptor 718." He turned in his seat and looked up at Jesse.

"Well, I'll be a son of-" Tigh began, but Adama cut him off.

"Who's out there?"

"Starbuck, Hot Dog, Twofer, and a Cylon patrol, sir."

"Have them bring it in."

"Yes, sir."

"And let's get down to the hangar deck."

Jesse and Louis exchanged glances again. Louis's heart was pounding so hard that his chest was starting to ache. Don't get your hopes up, don't get your hopes up, he told himself. There were a thousand reasons that it could be showing up as Raptor 718, and the most plausible was that the Cylons had found the dead Raptor and stripped the codes or were using it as a subterfuge.

But there was that one possibility… he stood up.

Adama shook his head slightly. "Mr. Hoshi," he said loudly. "You have the deck." He gestured to Tigh, the two of them striding out of the CIC, leaving both Louis and Jesse at their stations.

Louis stared after them for a long moment.

"It makes sense," Thornton said grumpily from the LSO spot.

"It does?" Louis asked bitterly.

"If it really was them, do you think you could ask the hard questions? The ones that Starbuck couldn't answer?"

Louis realized what sort of reception had to await this Raptor and shuddered. "No," he whispered, settling back down into his chair. "I don't know if I could."

He turned back to his station.

***

"You saw the looks on both their faces," Saul muttered as they strode down to the hangar deck.

"That's why they're both still in the CIC," Bill answered. "Who knows what we're going to find in that Raptor?"

"You think it's a trap?"

"I think that if Gaeta was in that Raptor, we would have had a more recent code, along with five ways of verifying it." They hurried down the steps. The Raptor was docking, along with the three Vipers and the heavy raider that had escorted it in. "Something else is going on."

Laura met them at the bottom of the steps, Lee at her elbow. "Raptor 718?" she said. "You can't be serious."

"I almost wish I wasn't."

The Raptor hatch opened with a hiss, and Bill pulled himself up, gesturing to the Marines. The gun safeties clicked, and they aimed at the door, ready to shoot if necessary.

From the corner of his eye, Bill saw Kara, Hot Dog, and Twofer approaching, as well as the Sixes who had been piloting the heavy raider. All of them looked apprehensive and alert. The deck crew had stopped as well. Both Laird and Tyrol were coming forward.

An Eight stepped out of the Raptor.

For some reason, Bill's stomach tightened, although he couldn't tell one Eight from another. This Eight was wearing a Cylon flight suit. For a moment he almost believed that the Eight was the one called Sarah, and then memory triggered as to who else it could be.

Boomer.

His body tensed in remembered pain and anger, but before he could say a word, a passenger stepped out as well. Tall, slim, blonde, and beautiful…

Laura's jaw dropped. "Ellen Tigh," she whispered.

Ellen's eyes were fixedly on them. "Bill Adama," she said, with that smile he always thought meant trouble.

"How many dead chicks are out there?" Bill heard HotDog ask. Ellen ignored the aside.

"I can't tell you how happy I am to see you," she said. "Aren't you going to help a lady down off this thing?"

Bill glanced at Saul, who immediately moved forward. He held out his hand, and Ellen took it, her smile lighting up for real, reaching her eyes. And he supposed it was no surprise when Saul and Ellen ended up kissing, even though in some ways it should have been.

Tyrol approached the Eight, recognition lighting his eyes. "This is Boomer," he said.

"Take her into custody," Bill ordered the Marines.

"Wait!" Boomer called, but Bill ignored it. There were bigger problems at hand. He looked at Laura.

"I think I'm glad this is officially a military decision," Laura said, a smile tugging at her lips.

"Huh." Bill was saved from saying anything by Ellen apparently breaking off the kiss and turning to look at the crowd.

"It's so good to be back," she said. "You have no idea."

Saul had still had his arm around her, but he pulled himself together, a furtive glance at Bill as he straightened into military posture. "Well, we need an idea," Saul said. "Let's go…" It was technically a command, but it had a tone of a suggestion. Bill didn't like it.

He didn't need to worry, though. Ellen practically sashayed towards him, all cooperation and smiles. But to his surprise, she stopped in front of Kara. Her face changed for a brief moment, becoming serious and wistful, and she reached out and touched Kara's cheek. Kara stared at her. "What the frak?" she began, pulling away.

Ellen just smiled serenely. "I'm just glad to see you, Kara," she said. "We'll have to catch up later." Then the moment of seriousness was gone, and Ellen smiled at Bill over her shoulder. "Since my place is out, I believe yours is in order," she said. "Let's go."

***

Kara was staring after the brass, her mouth hanging open. Sam approached her. "You okay?" he asked, touching her elbow.

"We have to catch up?" Kara repeated incredulously. She turned and looked up into Sam's face, confused and angry. "What do we have to catch up on? Maybe you and she can have tea and chat about old times' sake but I've barely ever…" she trailed off, shaking her head. "What the frak?"

"Thrace!" Laird called. "You need to take care of your bird!"

Kara started automatically towards her Viper, and Sam followed her. She looked over her shoulder at him, rolling her eyes. "I don't need a nanny, Sam."

"I'm not. I'm finishing a conversation. So you never really knew Ellen?"

"No more than anyone else on this hangar deck did," Kara muttered. But she looked thoughtful. "Do you… remember anything?"

"About Ellen from Earth?" Sam shook his head. "No. I assume she was married to Tigh there, too, but that's really it." He sighed in frustration. "I don't even remember hints or feelings or… or even have any guesses about what I might remember. All I remember is what I told you."

"That you were a frakking musician." Kara shook her head.

"Lead guitarist in 'Kara Thrace and Her Special Destiny'," Sam quipped.

Kara stopped in her tracks for a moment, and then stared up at him. Sam smiled at her, and she actually laughed. It wasn't much- short and dry and bitter- but it was more than he'd gotten out of her since Earth. For a moment, she looked like herself again.

It faded fast, just like Sam knew it would, and Kara turned around and began walking again. But she didn't yell at him to go away, and she didn't shake him off as fast as she could.

A Six caught his eye, and she smiled at him tentatively, with that reverence he didn't understand. He looked back at where the brass had disappeared, and he really, desperately hoped that Ellen would be able to shed some light on what the frak was going on.

***

The reunion of Saul and Ellen Tigh felt like it should be one of the sweetest things that Lee had ever seen. Instead, it was one of the most uncomfortable, and not only because the Tighs (or at least Ellen) had always been prone to public displays of sexual affection. Interrogating Ellen was a lot harder with her nestled firmly against Colonel Tigh, him half-glowing, half-glowering like a pit bull if anyone dared to attack her. Lee glanced at Laura and Sonja in time to see them exchanging significant glances. None of them liked this situation at all.

"So Boomer helped you escape," his father said dubiously.

Ellen nodded. "You didn't have to lock her up, you know."

"That's not for you to say," Bill said. "This is my ship."

Ellen raised her eyebrows. "Touchy, are we, Bill?" She snuggled closer to Saul, who still had his arm draped around her. "As long as she's treated well."

"She will be."

"Until her trial," Sonja put in quickly. "Boomer is a traitor."

"And we'll see to it that justice is served," Laura said smoothly, before Ellen could react. "What does Cavil want?"

"Resurrection," Ellen sighed. "I tried to explain to him that each of the five of us hold a piece to it, but… what?" she asked, as they all shifted and looked away.

"Tory's dead." Saul was the one to say it, his hand stroking Ellen's hair.

Ellen gaped at him. "Tory's dead? What happened?"

"I'll fill you in later," Saul told her.

"What's of concern now is if Cavil will come after the Fleet," Bill said. "I've already had Lieutenant Hoshi start the next few sets of jump coordinates, but we're in the middle of performing upgrades."

"They're doing the Outlander right now, right?" Lee asked. "I'll have them send the passengers over to other ships and leave a skeleton crew, just in case. But otherwise, we can jump as soon as the upgrade is complete."

His father nodded, but it was an absent gesture.

"You showed up in a Colonial Raptor," Laura said. "Raptor 718. Where did Boomer get it from?"

Ellen straightened up. "Right. That's another part of the story. One of the Cylons- an Eight- was unhappy about the alliance. She wanted to defect to Cavil."

"An Eight," Lee said with a dry mouth. "Did she go by Sarah?"

"No. It was a different Eight, but Sarah is alive."

Tigh's eye widened. "Sarah's alive?" he said, with far more emphasis than Lee would have imagined. "Is she still..." he trailed off, looking guiltily at Bill.

"She's still pregnant," Ellen confirmed.

"Pregnant?" Laura asked. She sat down slowly.

"You knew about this?" Bill demanded of Tigh.

"Cottle told me," Tigh said. "When Caprica was losing the bab…" he trailed off, obviously aware of his wife right beside him. "Oh, frak."

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Lee couldn't help a smirk, especially as Ellen narrowed her eyes. "Caprica Six was pregnant?" she said.

The temperature in the room dropped a few degrees as Tigh nodded.

"Interesting that Gaeta never mentioned that," she said, her words chosen as barbs.

"Gaeta?" Tigh jumped at the new topic eagerly. "So Gaeta's alive as well?"

"What about the others?" Lee asked.

"There's a deckhand called Brooks. Unfortunately, the two pilots were killed. So why didn't Gaeta- or Sarah, for that matter- mention to me that Caprica Six was pregnant?" She was catching on, Lee could see it. 'There must be some reason, and I'm sure it's quite interesting, isn't it? Let me think…"

"Ellen," Tigh said, his voice half-pleading, half-warning.

Ellen closed her ours. "She's like our daughter," she said. "We created her."

"I didn't know!" Tigh protested.

"This is getting off the subject," Adama interrupted. "You two can fight that one out on your own. So Brooks, Gaeta, and this Sarah are all still alive?"

Ellen finally dragged her dagger-laden glare from Tigh. "Yes," she told him. "Although I hear it's been a close call on Gaeta's part. Between poison and airlocks, New Caprica was not kind to people."

"Ellen!"

"However, I guess being a prisoner of war has its silver lining for him," Ellen continued, her voice taking on the blithe tones of a woman gossiping at a tea party. "He's at least off that leg, and it's healing better. How did he lose it, by the way?" A loaded, uncomfortable silence filled the room, and Ellen raised her eyebrows. "I see."

"The matter at hand," Laura said, her voice sterner than her body seemed to allow, "is where we go from here."

"We'll jump, of course, as soon as we can," Bill said. "Other than that, I'm not sure there's much more that we can do."

"Bill-" Laura began.

"No," Lee broke in, "he's right. Cavil's been after the Fleet anyway. Having Mrs. Tigh here doesn't really change a thing." As long as we can trust her, he thought. "More of the questions we have to answer involve what we tell the Fleet. We've withheld the information that Ellen Tigh is the Fifth Cylon for so long that we need to figure out exactly what to tell the Quorum and the press. It's not going to go over well."

"It was a military decision," his father said.

"That doesn't mean people are going to like it," Lee contradicted.

"They don't have to like it."

"But now that it's coming out-"

"It doesn't have to come out," Adama growled.

"What are you going to do? Keep her in the Cylon holding cell until we find a planet to live on? Which is probably what you should do, at least for a little-"

"Shut your mouth," his father said, glancing sidelong at Tigh. Tigh, who was glowing with happiness, despite the likely threat of castration hanging over his head once he confessed to Caprica Six's baby being his. Tigh, who had been forgiven for being a Cylon after a few drunken arguments, who still stood in the CIC and practically ran the ship. His father was never going to take Ellen away from Tigh… not unless there was concrete, undeniable, black-and-white proof that she was a threat to humanity.

"We have to tell Lieutenants Hoshi and Conoy," Lee said resignedly. "And if Specialist Brooks had a family, we'll have to-"

"No."

"What?" Lee gawked at him. "They deserve to know. You can't-"

"I can. It's kinder this way."

"You're not going after them," Lee realized. "But we haven't even looked at the feasibility of-"

"It's not feasible," Ellen said. "All of Cavil's baseships, Raiders, and Centurions are there. There's no way anyone could sneak in, much less launch a full assault."

"You snuck out," Lee pointed out.

"That was a one time only opportunity, and a huge risk. I didn't even know it was happening until Boomer put me on the Raptor."

"It doesn't matter," his father said. "This discussion is over." He glanced at Lee over his glasses. "You're dismissed. Why don't you escort Ellen down to the medical bay? Have Doc Cottle make sure she's okay."

"Oh, Bill, I'm fine. Really, if you're trying to get rid of me, why don't you just have Lee escort me to wherever my quarters will be?" she asked, with a level glance at Tigh. He squirmed.

"I want Cottle to check you over," Adama insisted. Lee understood- he was giving Tigh time to make up his own mind. He sighed heavily.

"Mrs. Tigh," he said, opening the hatch for her.

"Thank you, Lee," Ellen said, gracefully stepping out. She glanced back over her shoulder. "We'll finish catching up later."

***

"Bill," Saul said as the hatch slammed shut. "What the frak is going on?"

"I was hoping you could tell me that. Start talking."

"About everything Ellen said- creating resurrection technology, downloading, creating the Seven, and being boxed? I really don't remember it, Bill. Frak, you've known me for years- have you ever seen me set foot near the lab?" Saul brushed it aside.

"Is it true?"

Saul shrugged. "Probably. It makes sense, anyway. And to tell the truth, Bill…" he frowned. "It feels true."

"You're not just saying that because it was Ellen talking, are you?" Laura asked.

Saul glared at her, although rationally, he could admit there was good reason for her skepticism. Frak, he was skeptical himself. But there were other things to discuss. He turned to Bill. "You're really not going to tell Hoshi and Conoy that Gaeta and Sarah are alive?" he said.

"I'm not," Bill said, sitting down at his desk. He poured three whiskeys out of a bottle that was already two-thirds empty. Laura refused hers, but Saul bolted his down neatly. The return of Ellen definitely required a drink. Bill set the glass down. "If Hoshi and Conoy know that Gaeta and Sarah are alive, they'll want to launch a rescue mission."

"Can't say I blame them," Saul said.

Bill glared at him, his eyebrows furrowed down. Even though Saul was his best friend and XO and should be above being frightened by that glare, he had to admit it still made him sit up a little straighter sometimes. "If it would be anything but a suicide mission, I'd do it," Bill said. "But that's all it is. A suicide mission. We're too short on people and resources."

"So explain that to them. But they deserve to know."

"They deserve to not have their hopes raised falsely," Bill snapped. "That's all that telling them would do."

Saul looked at Laura, but her eyes were closed and the lines on her face seemed deeper. There would be no help from that quarter, he realized. He shook his head. "Yes, sir," he muttered. "I've got to get down to the infirmary. I need to catch up with my wife."

"You're dismissed."

Saul glared one more time at Bill, but Bill wasn't looking. It didn't particularly matter; when he stepped out and closed the hatch behind him, the matter left his mind.

Ellen.

He could still smell her hair and feel her against him, even as he hurried down the corridors of Galactica alone. Ellen was alive and had returned, and right now, that was all that mattered. She seemed so serene and confident….

"Now, really, Doctor," he heard her saying as he opened the door to the sickbay, "surely you can think of better places to stick that."

Then again, some things never changed.

He found the cubicle where Ellen was tormenting Cottle, as he tried to insert a thermometer into her mouth. "She won't shut up long enough for it to work," Cottle told Saul as he entered.

"Don't you have instantaneous ones?" Saul asked.

"I needed a minute of quiet."

"Good luck," Saul muttered. Ellen huffed, tossing her hair over her shoulder and crossing her legs, and then took the thermometer from Cottle. She eased it into her mouth in the most suggestive manner possible, but Cottle just shook his head.

"Cute," he said, slapping a blood pressure cuff around her arm.

"Aw, you're no fun," Ellen said. "Do I get a lollipop if I'm good?"

"Keep your lips closed," Cottle ordered. He looked over at Saul. "I'm pretty sure she hasn't been harmed," he scowled. "She's certainly not on death's door." He checked the blood pressure reading and sighed. "She's fine. Get her out of here, unless there's any reason for her to come back."

Ellen slowly spit the thermometer out. "Good," she said. "Let's go get a drink."

People were watching them as they walked back to Saul's quarters. Expressions of hate, surprise, fear, disgust… Saul tried to ignore them all. And as the hatch shut behind them and Ellen was on him, none of it frakking mattered.

***

"Ellen Tigh."

Sam was leaning against his bird as Galen tried to recalibrate the oxygen sensors. "Yup," Galen said, focused on the intricate wiring. "Ellen Tigh."

"Suppose we should have seen that one coming."

"We have seen it coming, dimwit. We've known Ellen Tigh was the fifth since Earth."

Sam sighed. "That's not what I mean," he said.

"Yeah, I know." Galen put down his pliers. "This is frakked. I'll tell Chief Laird, and he'll get you another unit. You can't fly without the oxygen sensor"

"I wonder what she remembers. Have you remembered anything else from Earth?"

Galen shook his head. "Drank enough of Joe's brew, but the most I've come up with is a pounding headache. What about you?"

"Nope." Sam sighed, sliding down the Viper and sitting on the floor. "Can't remember a darn thing, no matter how hard I try."

"Have you tried picking up a guitar?"

"Can't find one to pick up. But I thought about it, and…" Sam shook his head. "Whatever I might have known, I've forgotten it completely."

"Well," Galen sighed, wiping a little oil off the console, "It's not like we haven't been trying to remember."

"Yeah." Sam looked far away.

"What?"

"You gone down to see Boomer?"

"Frak off."

"What? Oh, wait, that's right." Sam sighed. "I forgot."

"You've got to be the only one on this blasted ship that forgot," Galen muttered.

Sam shrugged. "Thing is," he said, "the Cylons are calling for a trial for her."

"So?" Galen said.

"You think the Cylons are going to give her a fair trial?" Galen didn't answer that; he just looked down at his tools. Sam leaned in. "Remember what happened the last time we didn't give someone a fair trial?"

"Shut the frak up," Galen growled.

"I'm just saying," Sam said. "I know she's made some big mistakes, but she also helped Ellen escape. That's big, too."

"And you made such a great advocate last time," Galen snapped back. "As I remember it, you walked out rather than fighting."

"That's kind of my point. One action hardly defines everything about a person."

Galen stared at him. "You really are a doormat for her, aren't you?"

"Who, Boomer?"

"Starbuck."

Sam shrugged. "Call me that if you want, but at least if she dies, she'll die knowing that I've got her back. And if I die, I won't have any regrets about it."

Galen scowled. "Do you want me to get this frakking sensor fixed or not?"

"Sorry," Sam said, backing off and holding up his hands in mock surrender. "I'll let you get on with it."

"Good. Now get the frak away." Galen turned back to the offending console. He didn't look back up until he was sure that Sam had left.

There was no way he was going down there. Absolutely no way.

***

"So," Ellen purred, in a way that sounded a lot more dangerous than it should when she was curled up in post-coital languor in the crook of Saul's arm, "Caprica Six was pregnant. Well, well, well."

"Ellen…."

"It didn't take much to figure out that you're the father, you know. I can believe that Brooks didn't know, but I can't believe that Gaeta didn't. Or Sarah, for that matter."

"They knew," Saul admitted. "Everyone knew." He steeled himself against the hurt in her eyes and the loss in his soul. "If I recall," he said, before she could say anything, "you don't have much room to talk."

"Now there's a way to claim the high ground," Ellen mused. "Blame the victim."

"Oh, come on!" Saul protested. "How many affairs did you have?"

"So that makes it all right for you to sleep with what amounts to our daughter?"

"I didn't know that! But you damn well always knew you were married to me!"

Ellen opened her mouth to retort, but then stopped. "What are we doing, Saul?" she asked, reaching up and touching his face. "We've been together less than an hour and we're arguing already."

"Don't try your tricks on me," Saul said as her eyes widened and did… that thing, and she looked soft and vulnerable in that way that made him feel like he was the strongest man in the world. He cleared his throat. "When we hit the Ionian Nebula, all any of could remember was that we were Cylons. That was it. And on Earth, all we remembered was the moment we died. This whole frakking thing about creating the seven models-"

"Eight models," Ellen corrected.

"Eight? You didn't tell Bill about that."

Ellen shrugged. "I didn't need to," she said sadly. "The Sevens were destroyed long ago."

As she said it, he felt a flash. He remembered rage, rage so great that it make him shake and ripped him apart… and yet, something else. Something more. Understanding, perhaps. Something deeper.

Ellen smiled. "You remember?"

"The Ones," he said slowly. "That's all I… the Ones."

Ellen nodded.

He shook his head. "So we tried to create a new race that wouldn't turn on their maker, and what we managed was a race that not only killed off billions of humans, but turned on each other." He sighed heavily. "Maybe it's just as well Caprica lost the baby. Looks like there's plenty of evidence that I'd make a lousy father."

"No," Ellen said, her hand on Saul's arm. "Your intentions have always been good. But parents can't control their children, much as they would like to." She smiled. "If they could, your parents never would have let you marry me."

Saul smiled at that. "That's one I wish I could remember," he said.

"You made your mistakes, Saul. We all did. But you loved your children dearly. All nine of them."

"It's nine now? How many Cylon lines did we create, anyway? Straight answer, Ellen."

Ellen sighed. "We created the eight," she said. "But we had our daughter as well."

"What the frak?"

Her eyes filled up with tears again, and she laid her hand on his cheek. "Daughter," she whispered, smiling radiantly. "We named her Kara. After your sister."

The bottom dropped out of his stomach as he felt it all fall into place.

"Well, frak me. I need a drink. I really, really need a drink."

***

"Are you really comfortable with this idea? Letting Ellen walk around?" Laura was lying on the sofa, her feet in Bill's lap.

"Not really," he confessed. "But there's nothing I can hold her for." He sighed. "Aside from Tory, none of the Final Five have appeared to be a threat to us."

"Boomer didn't appear to be a threat, either," Laura said firmly. "And she did more damage than any other single Cylon. At least to Galactica."

He tried to think if that was really true. So many other problems had taken their toll, from outside and from within. He rubbed his head.

"We'll deal with it," he finally said.

Laura made a face. "Ellen Tigh has a tendency to create situations that need to be dealt with," she murmured.

Bill ran a hand over her ankle. "How did the meeting with the Quorum go?"

"We're waiting until we know a little more," Laura said. There was energy and life in her face now when the Quorum came up, but it wasn't a new passion. It was a remembered one, as if she was going through the motions out of necessity and love for what that Quorum had been to her, not as something she wanted to keep. "The Cylons will certainly react, and I'm not sure what they will want to do once they have the Final… well, Four now… in their grasp. They could easily decide to part ways with the Fleet."

"A lot of people would be happy to see that," he admitted.

"Yes, but the Fleet would suffer. The FTL upgrades are essential."

"I know," he said with a heavy sigh. "The truth is, Laura, I don't even like it. I don't like having them on Galactica, I don't like having them tamper with the engines… and it galls me to no end to have one serving in the CIC."

"It's worked out though, hasn't it?"

"Better than I could have hoped," Bill admitted. "At least from his side of things. But that doesn't change that he helped engineer the destruction of the Colonies."

"So did Athena." She nestled back into the couch. "There's no easy answer, Bill, and we can't dwell on the past if this is going to work. And it has to work, because we have absolutely no other choice. This alliance is the only hope for humanity."

"At least we know who they all are now," Bill said. "And where they are. That's something, anyway."

***

"Kara," Saul slurred for the eighteenth time. "Kara Thrace."

"Kara Tigh, originally, but yes." Ellen ran her fingers delicately around the rim of her glass. "The two of you always did butt heads, but you adored her."

"Care to explain how the frak she doesn't remember any of this?"

"Do I really need to? Cavil wiped all of our memories. Yours, mine, Galen's, Tory's, Sam's… is it so hard to believe that he wiped Kara's, too?"

"Does she know?" Saul asked. "That she's a Cylon, I mean?"

"I'm her mother, Saul, not a mind reader. Ask her."

"What, just stride up to Starbuck and say, 'hey, kiddo, got a hug for your old man?'" Saul took another drink, only to discover the glass was empty. "Frak. This whole damn mess is insane."

Ellen reached over and poured him another glass. "Was she in the Fleet when you reached the Ionian Nebula?" she asked.

"In the Fleet… Good question. That's when she returned in her Viper, but… she wasn't on Galactica yet. She came back as the Cylons were attacking."

"I was able to send a pulse to you all then," Ellen said.

"A pulse?"

Ellen shrugged. "Cavil gave me a razor," she said. "It wasn't hard, and I had help. A Five that…" she trailed off, and then shook her head sadly. "It doesn't matter. There was a cable in the head. It was for regulating the water supply, but with a little reprogramming, I could access the mainframe."

"Right," he said, shrugging.

"I would have preferred something a little less… mundane, but you work with what you have," Ellen sighed. She turned her arm over, and Saul saw the faint scar running up her forearm. "I wasn't sure how much sending the pulse would accomplish, if it could bring back your memory or if it would work at all." She shrugged, her thin shoulders moving gracefully.

"Kara's a Cylon," Saul said slowly. "Bill won't be happy to hear that."

Ellen frowned. "I'm not really concerned with what Bill Adama thinks right now," she said. "You're her father. What are you going to do?"

"I should tell Bill."

"What, and get his sage advice?" Ellen asked sarcastically.

"No, and alert him. I should have told him I was a Cylon, back when I first found out. If I had…" he trailed off and shook his head.

"Saul," Ellen said, "this is between you and Kara. And me, for that matter. We're the family, not Bill Adama. You, me, Kara, Galen, Sam…"

"Galen and Sam are family?"

Ellen nodded. "We helped Galen through college when his father- your brother-in-law- died," she said. "And Sam married Kara a year before the attack."

Saul rubbed his face. "Any other apples hanging off this family tree that I should know about?"

"Galen was engaged to Tory, which you were quite opposed to. I never did quite understand why. It took him long enough to find someone after Anne broke his heart."

It was all coming too fast, too overwhelming, and for a moment he just wanted to stop swimming and let himself be pulled under. And the worst of it was that he remembered nothing- not a word of what she was saying. It could all be true, or it could all be a complete fabrication. He rubbed his forehead and examined his glass again, as if it held the answers. As if it would help him even ask the right questions.

"Are you all right, Saul?" Ellen said. She rubbed his arm. "You really didn't remember any of this, did you?"

"You think I've been pulling your leg?"

"No," Ellen said sadly. "I was just hoping… when I sent the pulse, I was praying that maybe you'd remember more. Just a little."

He shrugged. "Sorry." He reached out, took the bottle, and poured them both another glass. "I think it's going to be a long night. All right, Ellen. Fill me in on my life."

***

The ball thunked against the hangar deck wall, making a satisfying metallic noise. Sam caught it easily as it bounced back at him. It felt good to be down here in the hangar deck at night, when it was quiet and mostly empty. There was room to move, and he could just play without having to worry about tripping over someone's feet or crashing into a passerby.

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.

"What are you doing?"

He started at Kara's voice. "I couldn't sleep," Sam admitted, hurling the ball against the wall with a little extra force. He had to jump a little to catch that one.

"Can't just flip a switch?" Kara asked. "Power down for the night?"

"Funny." He threw the ball again at an angle that sent it bouncing towards her. She caught it, and then threw it back without really looking at him. "What are you doing up?"

"I couldn't sleep either."

"Yeah, I kind of noticed that. I know you haven't been able to sleep well since you came back, but it's gotten worse, hasn't it? Since Earth?" She nodded. "What's going on, Kara?" he said. "Talk to me."

"What's going on?" she laughed hollowly. "I disappeared for two months that I don't remember, I led us all to a nuclear wasteland which was nothing like what I saw when I went there, and my husband is a Cylon. And you wonder why I'm not sleeping."

Sam ignored her sarcasm. "Can I ask you another question, then?"

"Can't stop you."

"What happened to Leoben?"

Kara threw the ball against the wall harder, and Sam had to lunge to catch this one. "Haven't seen him since Earth," she finally said. "I asked one of the Sixes, and she said he's under watch over on the baseship."

"Under watch?"

"He's gone crazy, Sam," Kara snapped. "Just like the rest of us. The Six told me that he won't leave the room… he just sits there babbling like a hybrid, but with even less sense." She clearly didn't want to talk about it any more. It was there in the tension in her arm as she threw the ball, in the way she wouldn't look at him. "What were you thinking about when I came down?"

The question caught him off guard; it was more than she'd asked him since… he couldn't even remember. So he told her. "I was thinking about Jean."

"Jean? Jean Barolay?"

"Yes, Jean Barolay." He caught the ball, wound up, and threw it again. "Look," he said, "just because I'm a Cylon doesn't make the things I felt before that switch went off any less real. You should know that by now. Jean was like a sister to me. I miss her."

Kara nodded. He glanced over at her, and he saw that she was watching him. "What?"

She tossed the ball up and caught it, and then managed a fake smile. "Want to quit farting around play for real?"

"You're on," he said.

They chose their goal posts and faced off, and even though it was improvisational, it was good. And it was exactly what Sam needed. There were few people left alive that could play pyramid like Kara could. Even though he was a Cylon, she challenged him physically, and mentally… well, few people could out-strategize Kara.

But he was one of them, and he beat her by a point.

"Best two out of three?" Kara asked, wiping away the sweat that dripped down her nose.

"At least," Sam agreed as they took their spots again.

It felt good to run, to dodge, to jump. Life on Galactica was full of sitting- sitting in briefings, sitting in meetings, sitting in a Viper… this was real. This was…

"This is the lab," a woman's voice said, as she walked beside him. "I'm sure that you'll find that the technology here exceeds your expectation."

The door opened, and they entered a sterile white environment. A woman wearing goggles was huddled over a work bench, and a man in a blue lab coat was standing at a plasma board, writing equations and then wiping them away in frustration. His hand was precise and neat, and when he turned, his smile was friendly.

"You're Sam, right? McGurk's student."

"I am. It's an honor to be working here, Dr. Tigh."

He fell to the floor, tripping over his own feet in the confusion. Kara vaulted over him, laughing as she scored a goal.

"That's three for me and- Sam? Are you okay?" She bent over and grabbed his arm, helping him to his feet.

"Yeah," he said wonderingly. "I…"

"What is it?"

"I remembered something." He looked up, looked into her face. "Kara, I remembered something. I mean, what would you say if I told you Tigh was a professor?"

"Tigh a professor?" Kara repeated incredulously. "I think I'd laugh my ass off."

"Right," Sam agreed. "There's no way I could make something like that up. And I was there. I remember now."

"How much?"

"Just a little. Just being taken into the lab and meeting Tigh- Saul, anyway- for the first time." He realized something. "I'd already met Ellen."

Kara's eyes narrowed. "What made you remember?"

Sam looked down at the ball in his hands. "You know how when you run, or when you play, you hit those… those moments?" he said slowly. "The ones where you can feel the perfection of creation? The elation of action and reaction?"

Kara stared at him. "That's why I fly," she said.

"Scientists call them endorphins," Sam said. He took the ball from her, passing it from hand to hand. "A chemical reaction in the brain."

"Runner's high. Yeah. So what?" Kara asked.

Sam shrugged. "That's what I was feeling when I had the flashback," he said. "Like someone unlocked something inside me, just for a minute, and a connection in my brain sparked back to life."

"So… you're saying that the solution is to play more pyramid?" Kara said skeptically.

"Hasn't it always been?" And Sam couldn't help but smile.

***

"All right," Sam laughed, facing Kara yet again across the court. "You're going down."

"You talk the talk," Kara taunted. She'd discarded her tanks and was playing in her bra, sweat sluicing down her hair and back. "But can you walk the walk?"

"Oh, you know it baby," he said, and dodged her.

It was frustrating. Whole games went by where he couldn't connect, couldn't access a thing. All he saw were the gray walls of the old hangar bay. Occasionally an image or two would flit through his mind, but sometimes he wondered if they were even things from this life, things he already remembered from Caprica.

"What the frak's going on?"

Sam caught the ball and looked over. Figurski was watching them, a toolbox in his hand and an incredulous expression on his face.

"Pyramid game," he said cheerfully. "Want to play? I think Starbuck here is about ready to poop out on me."

"You wish," Kara laughed breathlessly.

Figurski shook his head, a wistful smile on his face. "My playing days are long past," he said ruefully. "Although I used to be pretty good. I could ref for you, though. If he's cheating, that is," he told Kara.

"That's the only way he'd win," Kara said.

Figurski looked around the landing bay wistfully. "You know," he said, "there's enough room in here that you could get a proper tournament going. Get a few more players, enough room for people to watch… kind of like when we had the Dances."

Sam cringed at the mention of Dances, but at the same time, he knew Figurski had a point. "A few more players would be a good idea," he told Kara. "More of a challenge."

Figurski grinned. "You're looking for a challenge? Give me a few days, and I'll have a little league going for you."

"Thanks, man," Sam said, clasping Figurski's hand. Figurski waved and headed back to whatever he'd been repairing before he'd heard Kara and Sam. "This could be good," Sam told Kara. "Anything I can recover is more than I had. I'll take all the help I can get."

Kara nodded. "But until then," she said, holding up the ball, "got one more in you?"

Sam grinned. "You'd better believe it, baby."

***

Saul and Ellen found Kara and Sam on the landing deck. They were sweaty and laughing, and from a distance, they almost seemed like a normal, happy couple.

Ellen cocked her head. "They're happy, then?"

Saul snorted. "Like hell they are. They're miserable. But who on this blasted ship isn't? What's this, Thrace?" Saul asked, gesturing to their makeshift court.

"Pyramid game, sir," Kara answered. She glanced at Sam. "Sam thinks that…" she trailed off, shrugging as she tossed the pyramid ball from hand to hand.

Saul looked at Sam. He didn't seem embarrassed at all. In fact, he looked flushed and happy. "I've been able to remember a few things," he said, excitement in his voice. "Things about life on Earth, about what we did before the attack."

"You don't have to do it that way," Ellen volunteered. "I remember everything. I could fill you in."

"You're kidding." Sam looked from Saul to Ellen. "Do you remember everything, too?"

"No. Just Ellen."

"That's…" Sam glanced at Kara, who was watching Ellen skeptically. "Wow. Listen- if you don't mind sticking around, I'd just pulled up one. Not a very useful one- just playing under a tree with my best friend when I was a kid- but a memory all the same. I'm kind of in the zone. And it's different, remembering things myself instead of being told them. But after Kara and I finish this game, I'm going to sit down and get my history lesson, okay?"

"Of course," Ellen said.

"We'll watch," Saul said, leading Ellen over to some crates that could serve as seats.

"You could play shirts against skins!" Ellen suggested. Saul stared at her, and she looked at him innocently. "What?"

"Frak, woman, that's your own daughter's husband! Have a little decency!"

"Oh, please. It's just appreciation." She settled onto the crate, but as they sat together she became pensive. "She really did make it back. I didn't imagine it. She's here and she's safe, and we have another chance."

Saul nodded.

"I still love John," Ellen said, watching Kara. "I could have forgiven him for what he did to me, and even for what he did to you. But he took," she choked and steadied her voice, "he didn't just take our daughter. He took even the memory of her, that we forgot she even existed. And so help me, Saul, I'm not sure I can forgive that."

"I'm not sure we're meant to," he answered.

Her fingers laced through his, and he squeezed them gently. They didn't look at each other; only watched the game in silence.

***

There was a knock on the hatch, and Bill sighed in frustration. "It's late," he said. "Who could it possibly be?"

"It can't be that important, or they would have called," Laura pointed out, but Bill was hauling himself to his feet anyway. When he opened the door, he almost groaned.

"What do you want?"

"Excuse me for interrupting, Admiral," Baltar said, "but you wanted to know about any incidents that happened down in Dogsville."

"Great. This is just what I needed," Bill grumbled. But unfortunately, Baltar was right. "Sit down," he ordered, "and make it quick."

Baltar sat, slumping in his chair. To Bill's mild surprise he looked tired. He hadn't shaved in a day or two, his hair was not neatly groomed, and his clothing was rumpled. "Since you ask so kindly, I'll keep it short. Two of my followers were attacked by five of the Sons of Ares the other day. They were able to fight them off, but I'm afraid that their escape did not come without cost, to either side. One of my followers is in sickbay, and two of the Sons of Ares are dead."

Bill sighed heavily. "I see." He glanced over at Laura, who was listening. "I'll want to speak to your two… followers," he said heavily.

"That can be arranged. And they have descriptions of the Sons of Ares, as well. I know one of them was Charlie Conner."

"You know that?"

"It's a description I'm quite familiar with, Admiral," Baltar said stiffly.

"I see." Bill decided he really didn't want to know. "Anything else?"

"I understand that Ellen Tigh and the Cylon known as Boomer have rejoined the Fleet."

Bill raised his eyebrows. "It's not your business, Doctor," he said. "If you have nothing more to add-"

"It's a valid position, Admiral. Especially since I must assume that this means that Ellen is the last of the Final Five, and that you must have known this."

"It doesn't matter."

"Oh, but it does. You've lied to the press and to the people. What else are you lying about, Admiral? What else are you hiding?"

"I don't answer to you," Bill growled. "You've made your report. Now get out."

Baltar glared at him, but stood up and gave a mock salute. "Yes, Admiral," he snapped. The hatch couldn't close fast enough, and Bill turned back to Laura.

"Helo's done a lot of things that I've questioned," Bill said. "But nothing is quite as bad as him giving Gaius Baltar his seat on that Raptor the day the Cylons bombed Caprica."

Laura giggled, but her face turned serious quickly. "We should have seen this coming, Bill," she said.

"What, Baltar? Or the Sons of Ares?"

"News about Ellen and Boomer getting out, and the Fleet putting all of the pieces together. It destroys trust."

"They don't have to trust us," Bill said.

"No," Laura said carefully. "They don't have to. But it works a lot better if they do." She sighed. "We've made a lot of mistakes, Bill."

"Don't I know it."

"It's not too late to fix them."

He dropped his arm around her. "What happened to wanting to live a little?"

Laura's smile was the saddest one he'd ever seen. "This… this Fleet. This is living, Bill."

"So you say." He sighed. "It still just feels like existing to me."

He wondered why she looked so concerned, so worried. But she smiled then, and kissed his cheek softly, and he decided to forget it.

***

They all sat on crates, Sam and Kara facing Saul and Ellen, the landing bay quiet now except for the sound of their voices.

"You know, it's funny," Sam said, leaning forward eagerly. "Every time you say something, I can almost feel like it's true. I don't actually remember it, but I know you're not lying."

"It could just be that you want to believe it," Kara pointed out. "You're convincing yourself."

"I'm not," Sam insisted. "I… I can't explain it. But she's right."

"We always did get along rather well, Sam. Ever since you started working for us," Ellen beamed at him. "In fact," she said, looking at Saul, "why don't you and I take a walk, and we can catch up a little more?"

Sam glanced back at Kara, who shrugged. "Do you mind?"

Kara shrugged. "I don't care, Sam. Unless you wanted to play some more."

"You need a break, Kara," he said. "You're good, but you're not a Cylon." Ellen took his arm and nearly pulled him out of the landing bay, leaving Saul and Kara alone together.

Saul cleared his throat. "Well, I'm not gonna get a better opening than that," he admitted.

"What?" Kara scoffed, "you're going to tell me I am a Cylon?"

"What would you say if I did?" Saul asked.

He expected either anger or scorn. The Starbuck he knew would either get in his face and demand that he take it back, or her laugh her ass off, depending on her mood. But this Kara just looked at him. "Am I a Cylon?" she asked. Saul couldn't answer for a moment. "Am I?" she asked again, her voice rising. "Tell me!"

"Yeah," he said quietly. "You are."

She took a step back, her hands falling helplessly to her sides. "Frak me."

She smiled up at him, luminous in her white dress, her hair in an elegant twist. It wasn't what she had wanted, this wedding, but looking at her, you'd never know it. The orchestra started playing, and he placed one hand on her waist, caught her hand in the other. They moved awkwardly, the eyes of every guest in the room on them.

"Still wish you eloped?" he asked her.

Her smile was radiant. "Absolutely," she laughed.

But he tightened his hand around hers, and even though he'd offered to help her do just that, he was so glad that she hadn't. Because he never would have had this dance otherwise.

He was back in the present, with his daughter standing in front of him, trying to make sense out of her life. "Yeah," he said. "You're a Cylon. But you're not one of the ones we built."

"You didn't create me?" she asked tentatively.

"Well, now, I wouldn't go that far," Saul said, bracing himself. "Because actually, we did. Me and Ellen."

"But if you didn't… wait, no. Frak, NO!" Kara stared at him. "You've got to be joking. There's no way…" she trailed off, trying to form coherent thoughts and failing utterly.

And then exploded into laughter.

He joined in, and soon they were laughing so hard they had to hold each other up, choking on it.

"It's not a joke," he told her. "I'm serious. I'm your father."

That only sent them into fresh gales of laughter. Finally, Kara wiped her eyes, calming down as she clutched her sides. "Tell me you have a flask on you," she begged. "Because I really, really need a drink."

***

Yet another knock. Bill closed his eyes and groaned. "Can't this ship run itself for five minutes?" he asked.

Laura, who had stood up long enough to get a glass of water, glanced at his desk and then at the clock. "This one's actually scheduled," she informed him. "It's Chief Laird."

"Well, at least it's someone who talks sense," Bill muttered.

Laird looked tired when he entered; Bill wondered if there was anyone on the ship who wasn't about ready to keel over from exhaustion.

"I'll keep it short, sir," he said. He had saluted when he walked in, but now he stood with his hands in his jumpsuit. "I've run some diagnostic tests on Galactica."

"Diagnostic?"

"Yeah, well, after our last jump, I was hearing some hiccups in the FTL drive. I told you that." Laura raised her eyebrows. Bill had mentioned it in passing, but there had never been much follow up.

"Yes," Bill said. "But you said the drives were fine. It was a problem with the coupler."

"Yup, and it was. The drives are fine. But when I was down there, we found structural damage to the hull of Galactica."

"And we've had teams fix that," Bill said. "Get to the point."

"Yeah, well, that damage is mainly because Galactica's so old," Laird said. "No matter what we do, ships don't last forever, and Galactica was ready to be done four years ago. So I injected-"

"What are the results, Chief Laird?" Bill said.

Laird sighed, shifting from one foot to the other. "There are hairline fractures all through the superstructure and the hull," he said. "The drives are fine, but the ship herself… she's not going to take much more."

Bill's face paled, and for a long moment he couldn't move. It was Laura that leaned forward. "How much more can she take, Chief?" she asked, keeping her voice as calm and even as possible.

"Five or six jumps, I'd say. That's all." Laird shrugged. "And that's assuming that Cavil doesn't find us before that." When neither of them said anything, he continued, "You have to remember, Galactica is a very old ship. She was ready to be decommissioned before the attacks, and all the nukes and the dropping into the atmosphere on New Caprica and escaping supernovas and wild goose chases have taken their toll on her."

"That's enough," Bill said firmly. Laird fell quiet, looking back and forth between them. "Is there any way to fix it?"

Laird shrugged again. "I've been talking a little to some of the Cylons, and they've told me about this resin they use on their baseship. It's possible it could work on the Galactica, but honestly, sir? We'd better be prepared that it won't. I've seen the stuff and I've seen what it can do, but I've seen the damage, too. Galactica doesn't have much longer."

"Thank you," Bill said quietly. "You're dismissed."

"Yes, sir." Laird inclined his head and left the study. The clang of the hatch echoed behind him.

"Bill…" Laura began, her heart aching for him. She put her hand on his arm.

Bill shook his head. "Don't say anything right now, Laura," he said, and his voice shook with emotion. "Let me just take it in."

Laura tightened her hand sympathetically. Galactica was dying, and there was nothing she could do to help, because she was dying, too. And she'd never wished it could be different more than she did in that minute, when Bill first realized he was losing both his girls at once.

***

They sat on the crates together, and Kara passed the flask back to Saul. "Are you going to tell the Old Man?" she asked.

"I don't know," Saul admitted. "Don't think I should keep it a secret."

Kara snorted. "Figured as much." But she didn't argue.

"You're taking this a lot better than I thought you would," Saul said carefully.

Kara took the flask back, and took another deep drink. "Yeah, well. It makes a lot of things make sense," she said. "I resurrected, didn't I?"

"Ellen says you did. That Cavil was holding you on the baseship."

"How'd I get back to the Fleet?"

"None of us are really sure. Cavil released you or you escaped, I guess."

"But… I remember. I remember my mother, and believe me, she wasn't Ellen Tigh. And I remember-"

"And I remember fighting in the first Cylon war, when apparently I was one of the people who helped end it," Saul growled. "False memories. He put them in all of us."

"But they're so…" she shook her head. "The Four on Caprica, he said that he could tell that my hand had been broken."

"Doesn't mean you didn't break your hand with me and Ellen," Saul pointed out.

"But I remember my mother slamming it in the door, and I remember…" she shook her head. "It's all so real."

"I know."

Kara looked down at the flask, rolling it from side to side in her hands. "We don't even like each other," she finally said. "Do you think we did on Earth?"

"Don't know," Saul said, rubbing his chin. "Probably not." They both grinned ruefully. "But I'm pretty sure I loved you."

Kara slipped the flask into her pocket. "And I'm pretty sure you've had enough of this if you're saying crap like that," she said. "It's not like you at all."

"Suppose not," Saul agreed. Not that either of them truly knew what he'd been like, or what she had been like for that matter. "We'd better talk to the Old Man," he sighed. "This isn't going to be a fun one."

Kara took one last swig from the flask. "Not at all," she agreed.

***

Kara had her hair slicked back and was wearing her dress blues. Saul's uniform was freshly pressed, and he was standing at attention. And Bill was sitting at his desk, staring at them both.

"You're joking," he ordered. "You're joking, and this isn't funny."

"Wish we were, Bill," Saul said. "But we're not."

Bill pinched the bridge of his nose. "You're joking," he repeated.

It bothered Saul how calm Bill was. This wasn't the sign of a man accepting the truth; this was the sign of a man too tired and broken to care. "Bill…."

But Bill ignored him. He looked up at Kara. "You're a Cylon. You almost married my son, and you're a Cylon."

"I didn't know, sir," Kara said. There was a serenity about her that hadn't been there since her return. She might not have liked the answer, but at least now she had one.

"And if you had known?"

Kara shrugged. "I might have remembered I was already married to Sam. But it doesn't change that I did love Zak."

"Neither of us remember it, Bill. I'm still not quite sure I believe it," Saul said.

"I do," Bill said. He slammed his hand down on the desk. "Frak!"

Kara cleared her throat. "Nothing's changing, sir," she said.

Bill looked at her. "Do you really think that?" he demanded.

Kara raised her chin defiantly. "Yes, sir, I do," she said. "Everyone already thinks it anyway."

Saul raised his eyebrows, silently conceding the point. Even Bill nodded slightly. It was just a tiny motion of his head, but it was something- something besides anger and coldness.

"What did you think, when I came back?" Kara asked him. "What did you think I was?"

"I really didn't know," Bill admitted.

"Did you think I was a Cylon?"

"The thought certainly crossed my mind."

"Well, then," Kara said, like that proved something. What it was meant to prove, Saul had no idea. But Bill seemed to accept it.

The silence between them all stretched, poised and poignant. Finally, Bill sighed and stood up. He retrieved a bottle of liquor and three glasses.

"I think," he said, pouring generous glasses, "that this is one of those occasions where a drink is required."

"Couldn't agree with you more," Saul said. He waited patiently until Bill finished pouring and handed him a glass.

"Have a seat," Bill finally ordered them.

They sat, but they all finished their drinks in silence.

***

The five of them sat in Joe's.

"Would you stop grinning at me like that?" Kara said crossly. She knocked back her shot of whiskey. "It's not like it's this big accomplishment."

"I didn't say it was," Sam said, trying to fight the smile back. But he couldn't help it. It was a big deal, because he'd known it. He'd known it. Not that Kara was a Cylon specifically, but that there was some connection between them, right from the start. Something that was bigger than lust or mutual admiration, something deeper.

Tigh just shook his head. "Glad someone's happy, anyway." He looked over at Tyrol. "Did you see the report from Laird?"

"About the cracks in the ship? I did the injections. Hairline fractures all over her," Tyrol said gloomily. "She's not gonna last much longer."

"Bill must be devastated," Ellen said, although her voice wasn't at all sad at the thought. Tigh glanced at her darkly, but didn't comment.

Kara raised her eyebrows, but just took a drink. Sam touched her shoulder. "Hey. You all right?"

"Of course, Sam. It's my first night drinking in the secret Cylon club. And it's everything I ever dreamed, ever since I was a little girl."

"No need to bite my head off," he said affably.

Kara sighed, leaning her forehead on her hand. "At least this takes care of Leoben's 'special destiny.'" Ellen opened her mouth, apparently thought better of it, and closed it again. Kara noticed. "What?"

"No, it's…."

"No, you know something. What?"

"It's just…"

"Come on, Ellen," Tigh said. "We've all been in the dark long enough. If you know something, spit it out."

Ellen took another swallow of her drink. To Sam's surprise, she looked genuinely distressed. "When John modified the other six models to take away their memories of a Sixth," she said slowly, "he started with the Twos. He mostly knew what he was doing, but…" she took another drink, grimacing not so much at the taste as at the memory. "The first Two he was successful with eventually took the name Leoben. Well, mostly successful. At least Leoben survived it. But when John did the modification, something was corrupted in Leoben's memory. Leoben had an echo of a memory of a sixth, and that Kara was somehow associated with that. But what he could remember was very vague. Eventually, he must have decided that it was God talking to him, and that Kara was… special."

"So you're saying that this guy's obsession with Starbuck was a programming glitch, not the voice of God?" Tyrol asked.

Ellen shrugged. "The voice of God is a peculiar thing, and rarely straightforward. There may be a reason that his memory corrupted the way it did." Tyrol glared at her, and Ellen sighed. "But yes, Galen, his obsession with Kara was likely borne from what John did to him."

Kara was still staring at her drink moodily. "At least you have an explanation," Sam told her.

"Yeah." She took a deep breath. "Yeah," she said again, with more confidence. She was looking at something else now. Sam followed her gaze. "When did Joe get a piano?" she asked.

"Huh?" Tyrol glanced over his shoulder. "Oh, yeah. They moved it on board after the Outlander developed engine trouble. I guess no one wanted to leave it." He paused. "Do you play?"

Kara nodded. "My father… well, the father that Cavil made up for me," she amended bitterly, not really looking at Tigh, "was a concert pianist. Anyway, he supposedly taught me."

"Think you really can play?" Sam asked.

"Don't know."

"You could go over and-"

"No." Her voice allowed no argument. For a moment, Sam considered, but he looked at her face again and changed his mind. Instead, he picked up the bottle and poured her another drink.

"There's something else that needs discussing," Tyrol said. "The Cylons are talking about leaving the Fleet. Especially with Galactica in such desperate condition. It's not like we- they- can provide them- us- with much protection."

"Wait, I thought this was an alliance," Sam said. "I thought that they gave their word."

"Yeah, but if the Fleet can't live up to theirs-"

"You don't know that they can't," Tigh broke in. "If we get the Galactica fixed or find a new planet, we'll be able to protect them all right."

"I'm not leaving," Kara said. "Not as long as Cavil's still out there."

"I'm not leaving, either," Tigh said. "Not as long as the Old Man needs me."

"And I'm not breaking my word," Sam said. "Or leaving you." Kara rolled her eyes, but at the same time, he was pretty sure he saw acknowledgement there- acknowledgement and gratitude. "That's three to two. I suppose you two are welcome to go with the Cylons-"

"I'm not leaving my family," Ellen said stubbornly.

Tyrol shrugged. "Guess that's it," he said. "We're staying with the Fleet." He knocked back his drink. "Probably for the best anyway."

But the reservations were clear on his face.

Chapter Text

"Cavil sent her back to the Galactica," the Four assured her as he did her ultrasound. "I've told you that."

"I don't understand why though," Sarah insisted. "He was determined to open her head and-"

"Sarah," the Four said, exasperated, "do you really think that that would have worked?"

"Of course it wouldn't have worked," Sarah said. "But that doesn't mean he wouldn't have done it. Even you have to admit that."

The Four didn't answer, but his silence was agreement. He looked at the ultrasound screen again. "The fetus is thriving so far," he said dully.

"Can you tell if it's a boy or a girl?" Sarah asked.

"Too early." He was dismissive. "But you're past the worst danger. It may be that this pregnancy is viable after all." He frowned. "Sarah? Do you believe that you were chosen?"

"No," Sarah said definitively. "I know I should, but I don't. I really don't."

"Why not?"

She shrugged. "Ellen told me something. She said that when they created us, they made us all the same, but gave us free will. Those choices we make shape who we are. And when she said it, I could see the truth in it. What made me so different than the Eight that loved you? What makes us so different from Boomer? But I was chosen, just not by God. Jesse chose me, and I chose him. To have all that we are together reduced to a decision a deity made, rather than the accumulation of our experiences together… it devalues what love is."

"I see." The Four studied the screen a little too intently.

Sarah sat up. "You loved her, and she loved you. I know that. I've never questioned that, even though she brought us here. Do you want everything about her, every decision she made concerning you to be an act of God? Or do you want it to be an act of her?"

"Which all makes sense for love. But you're pregnant."

Sarah shrugged. "Maybe it's a reward," she offered. "Or a blessing. Or even a curse, if Cavil takes this baby and then wipes my memory. But that's the best I can do."

"A reward," he said hollowly.

"Or maybe it's all random and completely luck. How the frak should I know?" Sarah snapped.

The Four leaned over and snapped the sonogram monitor off. "You're done," he said.

Sarah bit her lip. "I didn't mean to offend you," she said, which was about the closest she could come to an apology to him.

"You didn't." He walked over and put his hand to the data stream. "Get dressed. I'll take you back to your cell."

***

Dee was sitting on the floor cross-legged, playing with a set of jacks. Felix watched her, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders as he sat against the wall. Across the cell, Brooks snored and turned over. Sarah slept quietly, her cheek resting on her neatly folded hands.

"It wouldn't kill you to talk to me while the others are awake," Dee said.

"You understand why I don't," Felix responded.

"Yes. Did you ever actually walk in on Baltar with her?"

"A few times. I pretended I didn't notice."

"But you totally checked him out," Dee said with a wicked grin.

"Stop that," Felix said, feeling sick. Dee gave him one of her looks, and he sighed. "Look, it's not that I didn't, because we both know that I'd be lying. It's just… gods, Dee, I don't even want to think about it."

"You're good at that."

"Come on. It's not like you thought about Billy a lot once you got together with Lee."

"I didn't say you didn't have good reasons." Dee bounced the ball and scooped up four jacks. "You do still think about him though."

"Well, yes. He was a big part of my life," Felix said disgustedly. "That doesn't mean I want to go back to it."

"Do you think about Louis?"

"Dee, for a messenger of God, if that's what you are, you're pretty stupid."

"I know the answer," Dee said, bouncing the ball again and going for fives. "I just want to see if you do."

Felix sighed. "All the time," he admitted, closing his eyes. "Gods, Dee, if I could just see him once more…" He fell silent, thinking of all the things he wanted to say.

"You'll see him again," Dee said casually.

"I don't think so, Dee. Unless you're about to give me a lecture about God and the other side."

"No. You'll see him again in this world."

"No I won't. Adama thinks we're dead by now. If he ever launched a rescue mission, it failed. He's not coming after a pile of corpses."

"No, Adama knows you're alive. Ellen's on Galactica, remember?"

Felix froze. "Oh, gods…" he whispered, when he found his voice. If Ellen was on Galactica, that meant Adama would know they were here. That they were alive. And if they could manage to send a message…

"What would that message say?" Dee asked him softly. "He knows you're alive now. It's not a beacon anymore."

"We could… we could tell them how to get to us. Tell them where we are. Tell them…"

"Tell them you could take down the defenses, if only for a short time. After all, the Colony must have a hybrid, right? And if the Colony is essentially the Cylon base…"

"The other hybrids would be linked to her. Like a master and a slave drive." Felix's eyes widened, and he reached over and grabbed his crutches. "Sarah," he called, before he even managed to stand. He hopped over, leaning heavily on the hated crutches, and then bent down and shook her awake.

"What is it?" she asked, coming awake slowly and rubbing her eyes.

"We need to talk," Felix said. "I've got an idea, and I need to know how feasible it is."

***

"Shut down the hybrids?" Brooks asked. "How the frak are you going to do that?"

"I'm hoping Sarah can tell us. Do you think it's possible?"

"Shutting down a hybrid is easy," Sarah admitted. "There's a plug. It's that simple- any moron could do it. That is, assuming we can get to the hybrids, and the hybrids for the Colony are configured like the hybrids for the baseships."

"One step at a time," Gaeta said, but Sarah could see he was already thinking they could.

"The thing is," she said, "that would simply disarm the Colony. Those baseships, the Raiders, the heavy raiders… they're all still active."

"What if we did more than just shut down the hybrids?" Brooks asked. "What if we shot them?"

Sarah shook with the effort to restrain herself from punching him. "You don't shoot a hybrid," she said through clenched teeth. "There are just some things that you do not do." She ground out the last three words like they were bullets.

Brooks was unperturbed. "You wouldn't. But as far as I'm concerned, nuking twelve worlds full of people- many of whom weren't even alive when your gripe with humanity began- is just something you don't do, either. If you can't shoot one of them, I will."

She saw red, and she was frozen in her seat. But Gaeta shook his head.

"It's probably not the best idea," he told Brooks. "If she's so against it, there are two answers: either they've been programmed to think that way because shooting the hybrid would destroy everything, or it truly is sacred to them, and therefore it's never been tested. And I'd say one answer is as likely as the other. What we need is to shut down all of the hybrids, disable all of the ships." He looked at Sarah. "Can you program a hybrid?"

Her anger had receded a little, but it flared again. "Program a hybrid?" she demanded.

"Hey, I was only asking!" Gaeta said, holding up his hands. "Would you remember for two seconds that we're human?"

"It's kind of hard to forget it," Sarah growled. She reined her temper in. "A hybrid doesn't work that way," she said. "You can communicate with it, you can interface with it, but you can't program it." She thought about it. "A hybrid takes orders when all of the models are in agreement. It can be overridden, but I'm guessing that it requires the input of a One."

"Although it can act on its own, right?" Gaeta pushed. "That's what happened when the baseship jumped away when Roslin was on board." His recollection of that was fuzzy, but he was almost positive that's what Louis had told him.

"It can," Sarah agreed. "But we can't dictate how that will happen."

"Well, what if we shot one of them?" Brooks asked. "Would that throw the others into enough of a state of panic that it would shut things down?"

"Or jump us," Gaeta said. "And that sends any hope of rescue right out the window." He stared into space for a moment, and then jerked back to reality, eyes wide. "But what about the fact that you're pregnant?" he asked Sarah. "Is that something a hybrid would acknowledge? Something that would give you some sort of higher status in the Cylon world? Can you play the destiny card? Touched by God? Vessel of love, save the baby, shut down the Colony long enough for the shape of things to come to get the hell out?"

"That's probably the best thought you've had yet."

They all turned, and for a wild moment Sarah thought that they were done. But it wasn't just any Four, it was their Four, the one that had been treating them since they got here. His eyes were dark and angry, his arms crossed. But what caught Sarah's attention was the way he was dressed. He'd always favored tighter clothing than most of the Fours, but it still had the same conservative professionalism to it. Now, he was wearing jeans, and his shirt was a green that the Fours normally wouldn't consider wearing. She moved over.

The Four came over and sat down beside her, folding his legs underneath him. "If you can figure out a way to shut down the hybrids, I'll get you to the first one, at least," he said. "And I've also got a way for you to send a message."

"What?"

"There was a Five that found out about Ellen," the Four said, leaning in. "He was helping her a bit. He didn't think that Cavil noticed, but he did. Cavil had him boxed, and had his memories wiped. But he saved them, just in case he needed them. I accessed the file, and I found that the Five modified one of the cables in here. It's meant to regulate the water supply in the head, but with a little tweaking, we can get it to access the mainframe. If you send the signal," he said, nodding at Sarah, "I encode your message, shroud it. The baseship will realize it's truly yours, but we'll be able to get it out of the Colony without Cavil realizing that it's an Eight's handiwork."

Sarah nodded, but Brooks and Gaeta both looked wary. "Why are you helping us?" Brooks asked. "I mean, what's in it for you?"

"Well, let's be clear on this. My Eight tried to come back to me. She saw that love was more important than the petty differences we had, and she came back. She was willing to make an effort. Cavil couldn't forgive. And when he shot her…" the Four broke off, shaking his head. "It's not the grief for her that drives me to do this. It's the grief for what Cylons have become. We've taken all of the worst from you humans, but none of the best. I can't stay here knowing that.

"So this is what I want. I help you get off the Colony. When we get to the Fleet, I am a citizen. I have complete clemency for everything I've done in the past, and my way is free to make my own future."

"That's all?" Brooks said, when it became apparent that the Four wasn't going to add anything else.

"That's the most you've got to give me," the Four said.

Gaeta leaned forward, his hand extended. "I'm the Senior Officer of the Watch," he told the Four. "It's not command, but it's high enough in the command structure that I can talk to Adama. I can't promise you that Adama will listen, but given what he already promised the Cylons, I think there's a good chance. If you help us out, I will do everything I can to make sure you get what you ask for. We need a partner."

The Four nodded, and then took Gaeta's hand. "You've got one."

***

"Don't send the message quite yet," Dee told Felix. She watched as he limped from one end of the room to the other on his prosthetic, leaning heavily on the crutches. The Four was strict about the amount of time that Felix should spend on the prosthetic- no more, no less.

"Why not?" Felix asked. He had to admit that this was easier now, and didn't even want to think about how much time that meant they'd been in this room.

"There's another way to shut down the hybrids," Dee said. She sat down on the bed that Sarah slept on. "Someone they'll listen to even more readily than Sarah. Someone they revere more than they revere Sarah."

"Revere?" Felix asked, limping. "The only person I can think they would actually revere more would be a member of the Final Five."

"Nope. Guess again."

"Oh, this has become a guessing game now?" He reached the wall and turned around. "Well, not the Final Five then. Starbuck? Everybody worships her."

"I could trip you, you know," Dee said.

"Joking." He thought about it, and then shrugged. "Hera," he said finally. "If there's anyone the Cylons worship, it's Hera."

"Exactly," Dee said smugly.

"Well, yeah, but it's not like Hera's going to show up on this ship," Felix said. "Even if she dies, she can't resurrect, even if she could have before. And Cavil isn't going to be able to have people walk right onto the shi… oh my gods." He froze. "Oh, gods, that's why they went back to Galactica, isn't it? They're after Hera!"

"The shape of things to come," Dee agreed. "I really don't know what Cavil will get out of her, to be honest. She's a little girl."

"Is she special?" Felix asked.

"We're all special in the gods' eyes," Dee sing-songed.

"You know what I mean."

"I do. The answer isn't really simple. But it makes sense."

"Mmm." It did, but Felix wasn't sure how to talk the others into it. Explaining that he'd been hallucinating his best friend and she told him that Hera was coming didn't seem like the best idea. "How long do I have to wait?"

"Just hold them off for a few days," Dee said. "It won't be long."

A few days. He thought of the way things were coming together, of the fire that was animating Sarah and Brooks now. There was no way he could get them to hold off based on the word of someone they couldn't even see. "No," he said. "I'm not sure I can."

Dee looked up at the ceiling.

Felix sighed. "Oh, gods," he muttered. "I have to try, don't I? This is why you showed me…."

Dee smiled at him. "I'll help you through it. But if you do it, Felix… I promise. You'll get home."

***

The Four slipped in, carrying a medical bag. He checked Sarah's vitals with a bored expression on his face, and then glanced back over his shoulder. The Centurion guards had retreated back to their posts.

"We're going to have to reprogram them," he said.

"Or you could remove their inhibitors," Sarah shot back.

The Four glared at her. "Because that would ensure that they're going to do exactly what we need them to do," he said mockingly. "We can't be fooling around with free will at that particular moment."

Sarah pressed her lips together so hard that her mouth turned white at the corners. Felix swallowed hard, hoping that they'd disagree enough that he wouldn't have to… over in the corner, Dee shook her head at him. She was dressed in her duty blues today, her hair slicked back into her customary neat ponytail, all business. All warrior.

"He's right," Brooks put in. "I mean, chances are if we tell the Centurions that Cavil's enslaved them, they'll help us. But it would be our luck that they'd shoot us first, or not believe us." He was fingering his Poseidon medallion as he spoke. He'd been doing that more and more since they'd struck their alliance with the Four, Felix noticed. Sarah nodded tightly, capitulating.

"All right," Dee told Felix. "It's time."

He glared at her. The Four came over and gestured for Felix to sit. Felix obeyed. As the Four pushed up the ragged, frayed cloth that covered his stump, Felix took a deep breath. "Here's the thing," he said. "I'm starting to think we should wait a few days."

"Getting cold feet?" Sarah said. Brooks stared at her. "What?" she asked, and then realized what she'd said. "Oh."

"It's not cold feet," Felix spat out, annoyed that Dee was even smirking. "It's something else."

"Well?" Brooks asked, when Felix didn't speak.

"What if Ellen didn't really escape?" Felix asked. "What if she and Boomer went back to Galactica for a reason?"

"We haven't heard of any plans for an assault," the Four said. "Cavil wouldn't be keeping that so close to his chest, believe me."

"I don't think it's an assault," Felix said. He looked at Brooks. "Has Cavil ever asked you where the Fleet is?"

"No," Brooks said cautiously, "but I just assumed he figured we didn't know. They must have jumped by now."

"And he's never asked me, either. He knows where the Fleet is, I think. And he must have had a reason for not blowing us all up."

"Of course he did," Sarah said. "The Final Five and Hera Agathon."

"Hera Agathon," Felix agreed slowly. "How much do you want to bet that Cavil sent Boomer and Ellen after her?"

"No," Brooks said. "That can't be right. Cavil's got to know that the minute Boomer sets foot on Galactica, the best thing that could happen to her is that she'll end up right down in the brig. And that's only if someone doesn't shoot her on sight. How can he possibly expect her to get Hera?"

"And is it so hard to believe that she's not Cavil's unthinking minion?" Sarah demanded.

"Maybe Boomer's the distraction," Felix said. "Maybe Ellen will bring Hera back here."

The Four's eyes lit with recognition. "You think Hera is going to be on the Colony?"

"Yes." As he said it out loud, Felix was relieved to find that it sounded less ridiculous than he thought it would. "And I think that if she is, the hybrids will listen to her." That, on the other hand…

"No, it's okay," Dee reassured him. "You're doing fine."

The Four smirked. "I'll concede that Cavil may very well be after Hera. It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility, and he wouldn't tell any of us in case he fails. But that the hybrids would listen to Hera? She's just a little girl!"

"I've seen how the Cylons treat her," Felix insisted stubbornly. "She's not just a little girl to you."

"LT," Brooks jumped in, "even if you're right about that, it's what we were talking about before. Too much uncertainty. Too much risk."

"That whole part of the plan is risky," Felix pointed out. "We don't know that the hybrids will listen to Sarah, either."

"But we at least have Sarah," the Four pointed out. "Look, the longer we delay this, the more of a chance Cavil has of catching us. And if he does, none of it will matter anymore. Unless you can offer me a more compelling reason-"

"A messenger from God told me so," Felix blurted.

The room was filled with the loudest silence he'd ever heard.

The Four spoke first. "Aren't you an atheist?" he asked.

"Agnostic, but…" Felix's eyes narrowed.

"Hmmm," Dee said. "Wonder how he knew that. Might be a good time to find out, don't you think?"

"How did you know that?" Felix asked. The Four didn't even have to answer; Felix knew. He'd always known, he realized, ever since he'd set foot on this Colony and seen his Eight die in this Four's arms. "She told you, didn't she?"

"Maybe she did," the Four said. He looked away.

"She told you a lot of things about me, didn't she?" Felix pressed. "You knew that she was helping me. You knew about the lists." A cold chill passed over him. "And you knew what she was doing."

"I did."

She killed them. She killed them. I killed them, I handed them all right to her

"No, Felix," Dee whispered. She was suddenly at his side, her hand on his. "Stay with us here."

"Did she tell you that I didn't know? She probably thought I was quite a sap, didn't she?"

"She was pretty sure you didn't know," he agreed. "That was kind of the point. It crossed her mind once or twice you might have known, but were playing along because you saw which side was going to win and were cementing your allegiance, but it didn't fit with all of the other data we'd collected about you."

"Like that I was a frakking idiot and a sap."

The Four sighed. "Well, you're the one that just announced that a messenger of God told you that Hera will be on the Colony, so I'm going to come out and say 'yes'." He shook his head. "When did you catch on, anyway? When you got back to Galactica? When you looked over the manifests?"

Brooks was looking back and forth between them. "What are you talking about?"

"The Eight," Felix said, turning to him and Sarah. "The one that brought us here. I told you I knew her on New Caprica. She told me she'd help me… that she'd get people out of detention, if I only gave her names. And like an idiot, I believed her." His throat closed up.

"You did more than believe her," the Four scowled. "And what does all this have to do with your messenger of God?"

"She's the one that told me about the lists," Felix ground out.

"Come on," the Four scowled. "You could have easily figured that out yourself. Even if you say you had no idea, you must have had some clue. After all, we're all quite aware that you're the one who handed over information to the Resistance. And you never told her, never trusted her. You must have had your reasons for that. You easily could have conjured this all up from your subconscious, and manifested it in a human form to make it more palatable to yourself."

"Tell him you know about the baby," Dee prompted.

"I know about the baby," Felix repeated without thinking, and then turned to glare at her. "Wait. What baby?"

"Gaeta?" Sarah asked. "Who are you… oh, my God."

Dee ignored her. "The Eight was pregnant," she prompted. "She didn't know it on New Caprica. She found out on the baseship."

"Oh, gods," Felix whispered. "The Eight was pregnant," he said to the Four. "And she didn't know it on New Caprica."

The Four was staring at him, his lips gaping open.

"She miscarried at eleven weeks," Dee told him.

"She miscarried at eleven weeks," Felix said, and he didn't even have to look at Dee to know what she was saying. "And when they did tests, they found out the baby was mine, not yours." He desperately wanted to throw up.

"But I knew that," Sarah protested. "And Caprica Six did, too."

"Yeah, but Gaeta really didn't," Brooks said as Felix sat down.

"It's a logical conclusion. A lucky guess," Sarah insisted.

"Or a miracle," Brooks said. "For someone who's so convinced that there's only one God, why is it so hard to accept that he's seen a messenger?"

Sarah shook her head frantically, but the Four was shaking. "What does it look like?" he said, peering over at where Dee was standing and seeing nothing. "Is it a shining being of light? A halo?"

"It looks like my best friend from Galactica," Felix said quietly, his eyes back on Dee. "I think it really is her."

"She died by suicide," Brooks said softly, sitting down. "This might be some sort of redemption."

That was the moment that Felix knew that Brooks believed him. It was the strangest feeling, to tell someone that he'd been spoken to by God and have them believe, even though there was no real proof. After all, Sarah and the Four had only used arguments Felix had gone over in his head hundreds of times before.

"Why me?" he asked Dee suddenly. "I'm the one standing in this room that's never really been sure if there is a God, or gods, or anything like that."

Dee just smiled.

The Four was still staring, as if staring harder would make Dee appear. "All right," he finally said. "I'm willing to wait. At least for a bit. Because if God is telling you to wait, it might be a good idea to listen. And worst case, I don't think we stand to lose too much."

Dee smiled. "It won't be long," she said to Felix. "I promise." She walked over, kissed him on the forehead, and then disappeared.

Brooks cleared his throat. "So, we're in agreement, Sarah?" he asked. "We'll wait?"

Sarah shrugged. "I guess so. God can't be ignored." She sat down slowly next to Brooks. "I was just really ready to get home."

"Yeah," Felix agreed. He limped over and sat down beside her. "Me, too."

The Four looked at them sympathetically. "Hang in there," he told them, as he gathered up his things. "We will get there." He turned around and left.

The three of them sat together in silence.

***

"Are we crazy?" Sarah asked Brooks quietly while Gaeta was in the head. "Trusting him?"

"No," Brooks said. "I think the better word is 'desperate.' Or do you mean Gaeta?"

"I mean Gaeta. A messenger from God?" Sarah was still dubious.

Brooks shrugged. "It's not like she's telling us to create a diversion by running naked through the Colony while Felix plugs himself into the ship because he's really a Cylon," he said. "What he's saying makes sense."

"But do you really believe-"

"I don't know what I believe anymore," Brooks cut her off. "At least, not about this. But I do know that Gaeta is one of the sharpest guys I've ever met. Maybe it's a message from the gods, maybe it is his subconscious that worked all this out and he's quietly going crazy. But I trust the gods, and I trust Lieutenant Gaeta. Either way, I'm willing to follow."

For some reason, that made Sarah feel better.

***

The other two were asleep, but Felix couldn't drift off. He couldn't move, couldn't close his eyes, couldn't do anything but sit there, with his good leg drawn up against his chest.

"Are you okay?" Dee asked softly, sitting down beside him.

He didn't look at her. "I've still been trying not to think about it," he said quietly. "You showed me, and I still kept it from myself. All of that… all of those names… and now it's real."

"It's always been real," Dee said.

"How can I live with myself, Dee?" he asked. His eyes were burning, and his nose was beginning to clog up. "I killed them. I killed them just as sure as if I put the guns to their heads and shot them all myself."

"I'm not going to absolve you," Dee said, "but you didn't kill them."

"But I-"

"Felix, they were already in detention. They were already under the Cylons' thumbs and the Cylons were killing prisoners anyway. You were a convenient excuse, not an executioner."

"I singled them out."

"Your intentions were good."

"The road to Hell-"

"Your intentions were good," Dee repeated. She ran her fingers through his curls and pulled him so his head rested against her breast. "You made mistakes. You trusted her too easily, and she fooled you. But what happened wasn't black and white. You weren't completely innocent, but you were nowhere near as guilty as you're making yourself believe. She killed them, Felix."

She might not really be there, but she was solid under his cheek, he was sure of that. "I don't know what I'm going to do when I get home, Dee. How will I face anyone ever again? How will I face Louis again?"

Dee was silent for a long time, her fingers playing with his hair. Finally, she said, "Louis loves you. And no matter what you think, he's never been under any illusions about you. He knows who you are, and he has his own past."

"The Pegasus," Felix murmured. "And the Scylla."

"See?" Dee said. "It will be all right. Go to sleep, Felix. You need it."

He wanted to, but as he lay against Dee, he felt the hot tears began to spill silently down his face, and he knew that this was really the rest that he needed.

Chapter Text

Louis and Jesse sat at a corner table in the mess, out of the way, but Louis still felt everyone's eyes on him.

Collaborater. Ingrate. Traitor. Deserved what you got.

He looked down at his plate, clenching his fork in his hand.

"You okay?" Jesse asked.

Louis nodded. "Yeah." He looked up again. No one was looking at him. The pilots were laughing uproariously over some joke that HotDog was telling. A pair of knuckledraggers were arguing companionably about a pyramid game that had taken place years before. And the Marines were discussing guns. Life was going on. He focused back on Jesse. "Yeah," he repeated. "Sorry about that."

"It's all right." Jesse stirred the green glob in his bowl. He leaned his chin on his hand, looking around. Finally, the words burst out of him. "It really was Raptor 718 the other day, wasn't it?"

Louis's throat closed off completely, and he had to take a drink of water before he could answer. "It really was," he said.

"Has the Admiral said anything to you?"

Adama hasn't so much as looked me in the eyes this past week. "No."

"I just thought… when it really was, that maybe they…."

"Yeah," Louis said. "I thought so, too. I guess not."

"I guess not," Jesse echoed hollowly. "Could we ask the Admiral-"

"What would we ask him?" Louis asked bitterly. "He won't know anything more than what Boomer and Ellen told him."

"Then let's ask Boomer if she knows anything. What's the worst we can hear? That Felix and Sarah are dead?" Jesse's eyes flashed defiantly. "But if they're alive…"

Louis put down his spoon. "You're right," he told Jesse. "Let's go."

***

Louis was unable to walk by the causeway where it had happened without shaking and fleeing to the other side of the hall, and he avoided that part of the ship whenever he could. But that was expected. What he hadn't expected was the way his hands began to shake as they stood at the window of the Cylon brig, or the sudden, overwhelming need to vomit. The Marine guard managed to hand Louis a wastebasket just in time. He finished and wiped his mouth on his sleeve, resolving to get his uniform to the laundry just as soon as this was over with. Jesse watched him sympathetically.

"Are you all right?" he asked, yet again.

"No," Louis snapped. "Let's do this."

They approached the window.

Louis had never actually met Boomer. He'd heard of her, and Felix had once said that Boomer had been a really good sort, and he'd liked her very much before they'd found out she was a Cylon. She didn't look any different from any other Eight, to the point where Louis had to remind himself it wasn't Athena in there. She was sitting on the cot in the cell, staring into space.

"She's projecting," Jesse told Louis quietly. He rapped on the glass to get her attention.

"Can you see what she's seeing?"

Jesse shook his head. "Not unless she chooses to let me, and I doubt she will." He rapped again, and this time Boomer snapped out of her trance and turned to face them. Her eyes widened when she saw them, and she came over and picked up the phone. Although Louis wasn't the one holding the receiver, he could hear her voice, muffled but the words still discernable.

"What do you want?" she asked, but her voice wasn't at all accusing. Jesse regarded her evenly, but Louis could see that he wasn't quite breathing. Boomer pulled back as she took in his uniform. "I'm not talking."

"We're not here to interrogate you," Jesse said. "Only to ask a question. I'm Lieutenant Conoy, and this is Lieutenant Hoshi."

Her face lit with recognition, and Louis's heart speeded up into a strange, syncopated tempo. "I should have known you'd both be down here."

Jesse and Louis exchanged glances, and Louis felt a shock so warm and painful that it brought tears to his eyes. "They're alive?" Jesse asked.

Boomer nodded. "Felix and Sarah are both alive. So's Jim Brooks. Cavil's keeping them prisoner."

A tear coursed down Jesse's cheek. "Are they all right?"

"They are." Boomer put her hand up on the glass, and Jesse hesitated, then laid his own palm over it. Louis watched them with excited confusion, and Jesse gasped. He stood still for a long moment, and when Louis looked at Boomer, she had her eyes closed. Finally, Jesse dropped his hand.

"They're really alive," he said, his voice hoarse with tears he was refusing to shed. "Or they were, when you left."

"Sarah still is," Boomer confirmed, "no matter what. The baby-"

"Baby?" Jesse went stiff.

Boomer looked confused. "Well, yes. The baby. Didn't you know… you didn't, did you? Sarah's pregnant. She'd just had Cottle confirm it before she got on that Raptor."

Jesse's mouth dropped open.

Boomer smiled. "You look like a landed fish, Lieutenant," she said. "It's not very Colonial."

Louis nudged Jesse, and he at least shut his mouth. Boomer looked at Louis and pointed to the phone, indicating that she wanted to talk to him directly, rather than Louis simply overhearing from a very old technology that didn't allow for much privacy. He took the receiver. "You're not going to tell me Felix is pregnant," he said, attempting a joke and failing miserably. This place was still getting to him, but Felix was alive. It was like sunlight. "Please tell me that he still has the other leg."

"He does," Boomer said. "Although I wouldn't count on that for too long. Cavil's been trying to get information from him, and Felix doesn't have a fetus to protect him."

As quickly as the sunlight had come, it dimmed. Felix was alive, yes, but he was being tortured for information. Louis closed his eyes.

"He's holding up well," Boomer told him. "If you can believe it, he actually looks better than when Cavil first took him prisoner." Her face was sympathetic. "It's okay, Louis. I don't think Cavil's going to harm him quite yet."

"It's a stupid question…" Louis began.

Boomer smiled. "I knew who you were the minute I saw you," she answered. "And I knew your first name, didn't I?"

She did. A guilty feeling of relief began to wash over him, and for a moment he relaxed and looked away from her face. It was a mistake. Because when he looked carefully, he could see the blood where they'd shot Amy Sian, and the crack in the glass from when they'd shot the Six. Boomer was using the cot that Caprica Six had been lying on- the one he'd used was bare. He could see a bloodstain.

The world began spinning.

"Louis?" Jesse's voice was very far away.

"We've got to get out of here," Louis said. "We've got to go see the Admiral."

Jesse caught his arm. "Easy, Louis," he said. "We'll go see him. Thank you," he said in the phone to Boomer. "Thank you. This means more than you can ever know."

Boomer's lips were set. "I'm not so sure about that. Good luck."

***

Laura knew it was trouble as soon as the door opened and Lieutenant Hoshi and Lieutenant Conoy walked in together. Hoshi was sheet white, sweating , hands shaking, and a slightly sour odor clung to him. Conoy was resolute, his face set into hard lines. Laura felt for them both; human and Cylon, both grieving lovers. Because she knew what they were coming to say, and she knew Bill's answer before a word was said. She curled in the corner of Bill's sofa and tried to turn back to her book.

"They're alive," Hoshi said with no preamble whatsoever. "Felix and Sarah are alive, sir."

Laura kept her head down, but she could see Bill look up from his desk out of the corner of her eye. "May I ask how you know this for certain?"

"We went to see Boomer-" Conoy began.

"A Cylon who managed to put two bullets in my chest and then eventually went against her whole model line to side with Cavil. Boomer has no love for the Colonials, and she has no love for the Twos. Why would you possibly trust a word she says?"

"She brought back Ellen," Conoy pointed out. "And if Cavil had caught her doing that, he would have killed her."

Laura couldn't resist. "That is true, Bill."

Bill put his pen down and sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Have a seat," he told both Hoshi and Conoy. They obeyed. "You're right that they're alive," he told them, "as best as we know. Ellen's confirmed that, independent of Boomer. However," he said, and he glanced at Laura as he said it, "just because Ellen's agreeing to it doesn't mean it's not a lie or a trap."

"But if it's not…" Hoshi began. "Sir, we can't leave them there. Not without a fight."

"We have to, Mr. Hoshi." Bill sat back. "Boomer claims that the precise coordinates of the Colony were something that Cavil kept from her. He wasn't willing to trust her that much. Both Ellen and Boomer also say that all of Cavil's baseships are there at the Colony. Multiple baseships, countless Raiders…"

"We could take a heavy raider," Hoshi said. "Just one. There's got to be a way that we could sneak in and get them out. We're talking three people. We've accomplished things that seem more impossible than that, sir."

"Lieutenant Hoshi," Laura said, laying her book in her lap. "What do you think the odds of success are for such a mission?"

Hoshi sighed. "A million to one, sir," he said, in a near-sarcastic, duty-bound voice.

"It would be a suicide mission," she emphasized.

Hoshi slumped in his chair, arms crossed, but looked Laura straight in the eye. "And what makes you think that I'm opposed to that?"

It hung in the room, heavy and angry, and for a moment Laura couldn't speak; she could only stare, all too aware that this was not a road she wanted to go down right now. Conoy was gawking at Hoshi, and even Bill raised his eyebrows. Laura tried to form an answer, but nothing was quite coming out.

"You might not be opposed to it, Mr. Hoshi," Bill cut in when it became apparent Laura wasn't going to say anything, "but I am. I seem to remember you asking me to put Lieutenant Conoy in the CIC because you couldn't run the CIC alone. I agreed, because you were right. If you die, or if both of you die, then the Galactica- and the Fleet- are in a rather precarious situation."

"The future of humanity does not hang on my shoulders," Hoshi snapped. "But apparently Felix's future does."

"How will your dying save Mr. Gaeta?"

"About as much as your dying in a Raptor would have saved her!" Hoshi snarled back, pointing at Laura.

"Be careful, Lieutenant. You're on very shaky ground," Bill said, his eyebrows meeting in the center of his forehead.

Hoshi's face twisted into a sneer. "Gods," he spat, "no wonder Felix lost so much faith in you. We argued about it all the time after the Demetrius mission, did you know that? I kept telling him that the only reason that you'd never bothered to investigate how he lost his leg was that everything was so busy, and once there was a moment you'd do it. And Felix said you wouldn't, because that meant you'd have to take his side over Starbuck, and you'd never do that."

"Kara has nothing to do with this, and you are out of line!" Bill rose to his feet, and Hoshi stood up to meet him.

"I am not! If Kara Thrace was over on that baseship, we'd be launching a full-scale assault to get her back! Or Lee Adama or Saul Tigh or Laura Roslin! But no. It's just Felix Gaeta, just an Eight, just Jim Brooks, and so you can't be FRAKKED to get off your DRUNKEN ASS long enough to let me go get him back!"

That awful silence raged through the room again, and this time, Bill's expression was not remotely sympathetic. "You want to leave this room, Lieutenant," Bill said. "And you want to do it now."

There was no contrition on Hoshi's face. He stormed out of the study. But at the hatch, he paused. "It was Sam Anders who shot Felix, by the way," he said. He stepped out, slamming the hatch behind him. Conoy winced.

"Do you have anything to add, Lieutenant?" Bill said, turning his gaze on Conoy.

Conoy lifted his chin and met the Admiral's gaze squarely. "Just, sir, that it's my wife and child on that Colony. If you do decide to launch a rescue mission, I'll put my name in now as a volunteer."

"If circumstances change, we'll let you know," Bill said. "We'll let you both know."

Conoy nodded, and then stood up and saluted. He left the study smartly, his uniform crisp and his boots shined, looking the picture of the Colonial soldier, and Laura could almost forget for a second that he was a Cylon. She looked at Bill, wrath still dark on his face.

The silence stretched, and Bill finally sank back into his chair.

"Let it go, Bill," she said as gently as possible.

Bill startled. "You agree with him."

"I didn't say that. I said let it go. You want to toss him in the brig, I can tell. But you can't. Like you said, you need him in CIC." Laura paused, shutting her eyes for a long moment. "Do you have him on a suicide watch?"

"He wasn't that subtle about it, was he?" Bill sighed.

"I suppose it's to be expected," she agreed. "But really…" She trailed off, remembering the look on his face the moment he'd walked in that door.

He gave her a small smile. "What are you thinking?"

Laura raised her eyebrows. "You're not going to like this one."

"Hit me with it."

"Let him go after Gaeta."

"No."

"You can't be that desperate for navigators. If we have to, I'll get the Quorum to declare a martial emergency and conscript the navigator from any civilian ship you want. But let him take a heavy raider and try."

"Laura… it's not going to work."

Laura chose her next words very carefully. "You saved me when it seemed impossible. You saved Kara. You tried to save Raptor 718 once before, and you saved the Pegasus. You saved every soul on that cursed, gods-forsaken rock we called New Caprica. They're your people… our people. It's not so much about Mr. Hoshi, Bill. It's about Gaeta and Sarah and Brooks. Maybe we can't rescue them. But they're our people. They deserve to have us try."

She meant it. Every word. Because that was what did differentiate Bill from someone like Cain, from all of the other leaders that could have handled this assignment that had been laid on his shoulders. He cared. Sometimes to the detriment of the Fleet, sometimes too much… but he always cared. That was what she couldn't let go. That was what she had to save and couldn't let die. That part of Bill that had always put his "kids" above himself, that had always been willing to die for them. Because without that, he wasn't Bill Adama.

But Bill sighed and sat back. "If I thought there was a chance in hell, Laura… I'd send someone. But there's not." And there was finality in his voice.

"We all have to die, Bill," she said softly. "Isn't It a kindness to let him choose how?"

It was a calculated statement, and Laura was relieved to see Bill shake his head. "We're not all going to die, Laura. It hasn't come to that."

"It has, Bill." She sat back. "You know, if I could choose my death, I wouldn't go out like I will, sick and weak and gasping. I think if I could choose I'd want-"

"Laura," Bill interrupted her. She could see the revulsion on his face.

"I'd want something strong," she overrode him. "I'd want to make a difference. Even if it was just saving one person… just saving one single soul… I'd want my life to mean something."

"Your life does mean something," Bill protested, picking up her hand and kissing it.

"I know that. But it's not my life we're arguing about, Bill. It's Hoshi's. He's lost too much. Let him go after Gaeta."

Bill laid her hand against his cheek. "You're right that I want to be able to save my people. And I am. Maybe we can't save Gaeta, or Brooks, or this Eight. But that's not who I'm trying to save right now. It's Louis Hoshi that needs saving, Laura. That's who I'm protecting. I can't get the others back, but I can save him."

It was final; Laura could see it in his eyes. And maybe he was right as well, she honestly didn't know. And the truth was she was tired, and wanted nothing more than to curl up in his arms and sleep. "All right, Bill. Save who you can." Because the gods know you won't be able to save the Galactica or me. Take your victories where you can.

***

Jesse found Louis sitting in the officer's quarters, which were mercifully empty. He'd stripped off his uniform jacket and it was puddled on the floor by his feet as he sat at the table. Jesse sat down across from him.

"Am I demoted?" Louis asked sourly.

"The Admiral didn't say," Jesse answered. That perpetual frown of worry he'd worn every time he looked at Louis this past week was back, deeper than ever. Louis looked away.

"The Admiral," he said softly, snorting. "You know, every time I hear the Admiral, I still think of Admiral Cain." He shuddered. "And right now, I don't want to think of her at all."

"She wouldn't have approved of what they did," Jesse said hesitantly.

Louis looked at him sharply. "She would have. Especially since I worked with her so closely."

"Louis-"

He shook his head. "You know, after the attack on the Colonies- after I lost everything I loved- Admiral Cain told us to stay alive for vengeance. That's what kept me going, at least until I could feel hope again."

"I see," Jesse said, and it was as if a wide gulf opened up between them for a moment.

"What's the point?" Louis finally asked. "What are we staying alive for now? We find a habitable planet, we settle… and what? Cavil comes along and blows us all away. And then there are no humans, and in a few years no Cylons because I don't think you guys are ever going to figure out asexual reproduction or male pregnancy, and all of the females are with us. So the universe just becomes this vast, empty waste of space, with no intelligent life anywhere. So what's the frakking point?"

Jesse sighed, and then stood up and got his gun from his locker. "If you really feel that way," he began, sliding the gun across the table, "go ahead. I won't stop you, even though I want to."

Louis picked the gun up and turned it over in his hand. It was smooth and heavy, and he thought of death and release. But he just couldn't do it. He couldn't lift the gun to his head, much less fire. How had Dee had the courage to do it? He was mildly surprised that he even thought that, given how angry he'd been after she had. He slid the gun back to Jesse.

"There's a difference," Jesse said as he picked up the gun and examined it, "between a suicide mission and suicide. You're ready for the first. But you can't do the second because you have hope. You still have hope, Louis. And you're right. Vengeance won't get you through this time, and neither will love. But hope will." He smiled. "Humans started to show me that, on New Caprica and beyond. But you… you're the one that made me really believe it."

Louis shook his head. "Hope," he said hollowly. "You're wrong. I don't have it anymore."

"You do." Jesse hesitantly reached out, and then laced his fingers through Louis's.

"What are you doing?" Louis asked.

"Let me try something." Jesse closed his eyes.

A shock of pain flared up Louis's arm and into his brain. He cried out, trying to pull his hand away, but Jesse's strong grip held him tight. "Sorry," Jesse muttered. "Too much." Then there was a tingle, coursing up his fingers and his arm and his neck and into his brain, and like a TV being tuned, the room began to flicker. Frustrating images, just for a moment, snapped in and out of view all around him, until suddenly, they stabilized.

And they weren't on Galactica anymore.

They were sitting on a boulder, hands still laced together, under a cloudless blue sky. The trees around them had turned the brilliant reds and oranges of fall, and the leaves drifted down on a gentle breeze. They were sitting beside a stream, wide but shallow and reflecting the glory of the sky and the trees, geese floating on the current. There were stones under his feet, sun on his shoulders, wind in his hair. Louis's heart jumped into his throat, and his eyes teared up.

"What is this?" he whispered, and then it dawned on him. "This… this is projection?"

Jesse nodded. "You can see it?" he asked.

"The stream and the trees and the sky and… I'm there, aren't I? I'm really there." Louis looked around. The projection felt like it truly stretched forever, and it was impossible to believe that they were really still seated in a room on a ship.

He slid off the boulder, but Jesse didn't let his hand go. They walked the few steps to the stream, and Louis knelt down to touch it. The water was cool and wet against his fingers.

"Could I drink it?"

"I don't know," Jesse said. "I mean, I could, and I would feel the sensation of water in my mouth and down my throat. But I wouldn't consume anything, and when I let go of you you'll find that your fingers are dry. But I've never shared a projection with a human, so I don't know." He tightened his fingers around Louis's. "But this is hope, Louis. The way your breath caught, the way your heart jumped, the way that just for a moment, you felt like this could be real. You still have it somewhere inside you."

"I don't want to," Louis whispered, still looking at the stream.

"But you do. It's what makes you worthy of staying alive." When Louis looked up, Jesse was smiling down at him sadly. "I have to disconnect this now." Louis nodded, and Jesse let his hand go. The picture cut off abruptly, and Louis was kneeling by one of the racks, back in the dingy grays of a Galactica bunkroom. The pain of losing that beauty and that vision was almost physical, and he collapsed to the floor, shaking.

"Was it too much?" Jesse asked him.

Louis shook his head, and shakily stood up. "No, it's just… is that what you see all the time?"

"No. I find myself projecting less and less these days. It seems a method of delusion, rather than the gift I once believed it was. It makes it harder to accept what's real."

"You told me that the first time I asked," Louis remembered. "I suppose it is still true." As the vision dulled to a memory, he felt the energy drain out of him as well. "I need to sleep," he told Jesse.

Jesse nodded. "I hope I helped."

"You did." Louis wasn't sure if he was lying or telling the truth, but it was certainly the easiest answer. He kicked at his uniform jacket. "I'd better take care of this as well."

The memory of Jesse's projection sustained him as he went through the motions, cleaning up his jacket, himself, climbing into his rack. But when he slid under the cover, the framed picture of Felix he kept on his shelf caught his eye, and everything crashed down on him again.

He closed his eyes, but he knew he still wouldn't sleep.

Chapter Text

His father poured them both a drink.

"This is your solution to every problem now?" Lee asked, pushing the glass away.

"Kara's a Cylon. I think that's cause for a drink."

"I'd think more the fact that Saul and Ellen Tigh managed to reproduce would be cause for a drink, but that's just me, apparently."

"Not funny." Bill sat down heavily.

"I wasn't really intending to be," Lee said. "Dad, this isn't really a shock to you, is it? I mean, yes, we hoped otherwise. But when she came back in that Viper… really. How many explanations could there be?"

"I was hoping for others."

"I haven't come up with anything that's less terrifying than she's a Cylon," Lee said. "But Dad, there are other problems that need to be dealt with. Like the Quorum is getting increasingly agitated that you're holding the Vice President in custody."

"You've seen the reports. Gage's testimony strongly implies that Zarek was helping them with the hostage situation."

"And Racetrack's testimony flat out states that he wasn't. And Racetrack's the one in a Raptor and not cooling her heels on the Astral Queen."

Bill took another swallow from his glass. "Wish we could have gotten an answer out of Narcho," he sighed.

"Yeah, well, we didn't, and unless you've got a secret weapon or are willing to torture a human, I don't think we're getting anything out of Zarek, either."

"Wouldn't mind torturing Gage," Bill admitted. "I'm sure I could get a few volunteers."

"You're getting off the subject. What do I tell the Quorum?"

"Frak the Quorum."

Lee barely restrained a scream. "You can't keep doing this!" he shouted. "Look, I know you're upset about Earth. We all are, okay? But every wake up call you get- Narcho and Tory, Jaffee and Sian, Dee- you just keep ignoring them! You know something, Dad? Narcho had a point. You are not the leader that you were when we started this journey."

"Maybe I should have just left you in that cell then," his father growled.

"Maybe you should have, because then I would have died honorably. If I'd died because you refused to negotiate with a terrorist, I could respect that, that you did what you had to do. But we're all dying now, and all you're doing is drinking to cover it up from yourself! For crying out loud, Dad, can you at least act like you care about anyone else? The Quorum is well within their rights to be asking questions about Zarek's release!"

"If you think I'm going to let Zarek out near the Quorum to undo everything that we've been doing, then we're done here."

"But the people-"

"You know what the lesson of New Caprica was, Lee? The people don't always know what's best. Gaius Baltar won that election fair and square, and look where it got us all. People don't want to make the hard decisions. Someone has to make those decisions for them."

"And you get to do that," Lee said, nodding like he'd always known it.

"That's what I've been doing this entire frakking journey. And that's what you have to start doing. Make the Quorum swallow this, because this is how it's going to be, Lee. This is the decision. Make it stand."

"And Kara?" Lee asked. "What do I tell the Quorum about her?"

Bill snorted. "Might as well tell them the truth. They'll find out anyway."

"Very pragmatic approach to honesty," Lee said sourly. "I'll go now. Unlike you, I've got work to do."

He slammed the hatch shut as hard as he could.

***

At least Laura Roslin was acting like a President again.

Lee sat across from her, in the place that Tory should have been occupying. "You really should have a new aide," he told her.

Laura shook her head. The straight black hair of her wig made her look exotic and dangerous. "I don't intend to be holding office long enough to need an aide," she said.

"And if you step down, Zarek will be-"

"No."

Lee sighed. "Yes, he will. Look, Madam President, you and my father managed to circumvent the Quorum once. But I think the only reason it worked is that Zarek truly believed you'd come back. He's saving his fight for when it actually matters. If you're stepping down-"

"I'm not stepping down," Laura said firmly. It took a minute for Lee to realize what she meant, but only because he didn't want to. She smiled softly as the recognition hit him. "I will, however, be delegating more of the heavy lifting," she admitted. "And it will be to you."

"Madam President-" Lee tried again, but he was interrupted by a knock at the door.

"Madam President?" a young woman asked, her face smooth and professional, "Sonja is here for your meeting."

"Send her in," Laura ordered.

"I should leave," Lee said, beginning to stand, but Laura shook her head.

"No, please stay seated, Representative Adama." She pushed herself to her feet. "Sonja," she said, and Lee thought her smile actually passed for sincere. "Please, come in. Have a seat."

Sonja glanced at Lee for a moment, and then moved swiftly to the offered chair. "Thank you, Madam President," she said, settling gracefully into the seat.

"How are things over on the baseship?"

"They've settled down," Sonja said, "or at least, they had. But there are a few things that need to be discussed." She extended a sheaf of papers. "These are for Boomer's extradition."

Laura accepted the papers and sat back and read them, her mouth narrowing. Lee thought she didn't look thrilled about the idea, but at the end, she put the papers down on the desk and signed them with a bold signature. "That should be in order," she said, handing them back. She folded her hands. "What else?"

Sonja leaned forward. "A Two has told me that there's another problem," she said.

"A problem?"

"The Twos keep in very close contact, even with those that spend more time in the Fleet than on the baseship."

"I see," Laura said, sitting back. Lee wasn't sure where this was going, but it looked like Laura knew, and he had a very bad feeling about it. "I'm assuming that the Two you're talking about specifically is Lieutenant Conoy."

"Yes. He confided in one of his brothers that his wife Sarah is still alive on the Colony." Lee's eyes widened. "And what's more, he confided that she is pregnant."

"We don't know that she's still pregnant for sure," Laura said.

"Ellen is one of the Final Five," Sonja said firmly. "She wouldn't lie to us."

"Tory was one of the Final Five as well. I don't think that's the argument you want to use."

"Do you believe Ellen, Madam President? That Sarah is alive, and that she is pregnant?"

"I believe she was pregnant when she left this ship, yes," Laura allowed. "Doctor Cottle has confirmed that."

Sonja waited, but Laura didn't say anything more. Finally, Sonja sighed. "I understand that the Admiral has not launched any sort of rescue mission."

"And I'm sure your information has told you that he is sacrificing two of his own men because of that." But Laura's tone was gentle, and her face was sympathetic.

"Yes. But I would like to obtain permission for a Cylon rescue mission to be attempted, if I can find volunteers."

"I'm not the one you need to be taking this up with," Laura said. "This is a military decision, and we must treat it as such."

"Very well. If I approach the Admiral, will you back me up?"

"I'll do what I can," Laura agreed.

Sonja studied her for a long moment, and then stood. "Thank you, Madam President," she said. "I won't take up any more of your time." She turned to Lee. "Representative Adama." She gave a little bow of her head, and then left.

Laura sighed and slumped in her chair, rubbing her temples. "I don't remember such occasions being so exhausting," she said.

"You didn't fight her on Boomer's extradition," Lee said.

"Why should I? The Cylons need to dispense justice as they see fit," Laura pointed out.

"It's essentially a death sentence."

"Yes."

He decided to leave it. "I hadn't heard anything about Sarah and two humans being alive on the Colony."

"Mmm." Laura continued massaging her temples, but opened her eyes. "It was meant to be classified, but Lieutenants Conoy and Hoshi realized Boomer and Ellen returned in Raptor 718. It was enough to make them ask questions. Boomer and Ellen both say that Sarah and Gaeta are alive, along with a deckhand named Brooks."

"And my father isn't launching a rescue mission?" Lee said incredulously. "The same man who jumped back to New Caprica-"

"For thousands of people," Laura said. "This mission would only be for three. And it would not be without cost." But her voice lacked the sternness that Lee would have anticipated.

"You don't agree with him," Lee realized. "You think that someone should try."

Laura sighed, and pressed the palms of her hands together, leaning her face against her fingers. "You know," she said, and she sounded so tired, "this is one of those times I wonder why I don't step down and let Zarek take the Presidency."

"Why don't you?" Lee asked.

"It's a fair question, especially now. Zarek would agree with you and me, and he would have the energy to fight. But then I remember that he would fight it for the wrong reason. He would fight because it was Bill saying no. And that's how it would go, every decision, every move Bill makes. Zarek would challenge it, and vice versa. Bill would interfere with the Quorum more than he does, and that… that would be the end. Ironically, Zarek coming into power would destroy the one thing Zarek claims to want more than anything: a voice for the people."

"It's still not right to leave them out there," Lee said.

"Nothing ever is," Laura said. "It's not right to take away a woman's option to choose. It's not right to hand Gaius Baltar and his followers guns. And it's not right to forge an alliance with the very people who have nearly destroyed us. But it's what we have to do. It might not be right, but it's best." She looked at Lee darkly. "Remember that."

Lee nodded, but a shiver passed up his spine. Not for the first time, he wondered how President Roslin and Admiral Cain would have fared if his father hadn't been alive.

He suspected that he was glad he'd never found out.

***

TWEET.

"That's a penalty!" Figurski shouted. He pointed towards the team in shirts. "Take your shot."

Dragon lined up the ball and fired, and an Eight jumped up and blocked the shot. The spectators groaned and cheered. Sam bent over, stretching out his hamstrings.

The ball rolled over to where a bunch of pilots were sitting. One kicked the ball back to Figurski, and he caught it with a deftness that belied his age. "All right, take your spots." Sam eagerly crouched in his corner, and Figurski tossed the ball into the air again. "Game on!" he shouted, jumping back out of the way.

Sam lunged into action, his legs and arms responding in perfect concert to the game demands of his mind. His lungs expanded, the air turning hot as he sucked it in, the familiar constriction of his abdomen driving him as he stretched up. The ball was everywhere, passing from player to player, and the excitement from the people watching was almost tangible. For him, it was an exercise in memory retrieval. For them, it was the first moment of light in the bleakness since Earth.

Earth…

He jumped up to catch the ball and he felt his mind unlock again. He was walking through a hall, down towards the cafeteria when a young woman approached. She had dark hair and almond shaped eyes, and he assumed that she was one of his students. But no one looked at her as she walked by. That should have been his first clue.

"Sam Anders?" she said.

"That's me."

"You need to come with me." She grabbed his arm and her hands were cold, ice cold. She pulled him out of the flow of the students, into a small alcove. "I have a message for you."

"A message?" His heart accelerated in anticipation. "Is this about the grant proposal I submitted?" he asked.

The woman smiled sadly. "It's not that sort of message. I'm a messenger from God."

"Sam?"

He shook his head, and saw the same woman's face before him, with slight differences. Her smile wasn't quite the same, and her haircut was different. The shape of her face was a little more oval… he'd gotten that wrong.

He patted the Eight on the arm. "I'm all right," he said.

"What's going on?" Freaker asked. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Sam said, finding his footing in the present again. "I'm fine."

He looked over at where Kara was sitting, talking to Helo, drinking a glass of water as she waited for the next game. Kara winked at him, a friendly, open gesture, and then returned to her conversation with Helo.

Sam smiled and turned back to the game.

***

Tried for treason. The words wouldn't stop burning in Galen's brain. A trial. A fake, cursory examination of selected evidence to salve their consciences before they tossed her out the airlock.

Like father, like sons and daughters.

Galen rubbed his face. In his mind Jammer was begging, Anders was walking out the door, and Gaeta was on his knees, head bowed in defeat. That was what waited for Boomer, that utter lack of justice.

He threw down his wrench and strode out of the hangar deck.

The two Marines guarding the cell were ones he knew, and he noticed that neither of them looked surprised to see him. "Go on in, Chief," Grannis said.

"It's not Chief," he answered automatically, but he headed towards the phone. They shut the door behind him.

Boomer was lying on her cot, but she wasn't asleep. Galen wasn't sure how he could tell, but he could, even though he couldn't see her face. He rapped at the window.

And when Boomer looked up and saw him, her face lit up.

***

Gaius had never liked pyramid. He'd never liked any organized sport, with the sweat of human bodies hanging in the air and the crowd mindlessly cheering in chaos. But something drew him into the landing bay, despite what he considered his better judgment.

"It's always amazed me that you don't favor these matches more," the Six in his head purred. "They're such places of passion."

"Yes, well," he demurred, looking around.

"Of course, one must first find likely prospects," the Six continued. "And just because a prospect is attractive, doesn't mean it's likely."

Gaius followed her gaze, and spotted Caprica sitting on one of the crates set up for spectators, next to a few Marines. She was wearing Colonial tanks under an open BDU jacket with the sleeves rolled up, and cheering viciously for one of the teams. He sidled up to her.

"Come on!" she was shouting. "Get your ass in- yes! Interception!" The whistle blew.

"Yes!" Gaius shouted, eyeing Caprica nervously. "Great job." He applauded. "Excellent… excellent interception."

Caprica sighed. "You can stop making a fool of yourself, Gaius," she said without looking at him. "I already know you're there."

"Oh, well, yes," he said, and then straightened himself up.

"What are you doing here?" she asked. "I didn't think you cared for the game."

"Well, that shows just how well you know me. I'm actually very passionate about all sorts of athletic endeavors, including pyramid. Let's go!" he shouted, clapping again. "Show some hustle! Yes! Goal!'

"Gaius," Caprica said matter-of-factly, "the team that just scored is not the team you were cheering for a moment ago."

"Oh, well, you see… fine," he said, deflating. "The truth is, I'm not sure what pulled me in here."

"I can venture a guess," the Six in his head volunteered. Gaius ignored her.

"Well, enjoy the game," Caprica said, turning back to watch. But a whistle blew, and the players began to leave the court.

"What's happening?" Gaius asked.

"Skins won," Caprica said. She rummaged through her pocket and handed a cubit to the Marine sitting next to her. "I'm out for this next game," she said.

"So," Gaius said, before she could get up and leave, "how have you been?"

Caprica glared at him as if he'd asked an inordinately personal question. "Fine," she said curtly.

"You've heard the news, I imagine."

"What news?" Caprica said.

"About Ellen Tigh returning."

"And Boomer, yes. And that Cavil is holding three prisoners, including…" she trailed off, seeing the expression on his face. "You haven't heard, have you?"

"Haven't heard what? I knew about Boomer."

"But Cavil's prisoners. There's a deckhand, an Eight, and Felix Gaeta."

The sound of the crowd shut out for a moment. "Felix?" Gaius said, shocked to the core. "Felix is alive?"

"Yes." Caprica tipped her head, and he was only barely aware of the sympathy flaring in her eyes. He swallowed hard, trying to absorb all of the implications. "Are you all right?" Caprica asked, her hand resting for a moment on his arm. When he looked at it, she snatched it away.

"Yes, yes. I'm fine. It's just… I know that Felix probably has nothing left to say to me, but it is so indescribably good to know that he's alive, and that maybe…" Gaius shook his head.

"Maybe you'll have your chance at redemption?" Caprica asked mockingly.

"Maybe he'll have his," Gaius said quietly, thinking of the Eight on New Caprica. He jerked himself back to the present. "You said that one Eight is a prisoner as well."

"Yes. Sarah. She's married to Lieutenant Conoy." Caprica bit her lip. "She's pregnant," she said, the words in a rush.

"Really? Interesting. How far along is she?"

"Apparently, Jesse didn't know about it before she left. So she couldn't have been that far along then."

Gaius did some quick calculations in his head. "Lieutenant Conoy is now a member of the Colonial Fleet," he mused.

"Yes," Caprica said, her tone guarded.

"As is Sharon Agathon. As are you."

"Yes…"

"What about Sarah? Do you think she might have joined?"

Caprica shrugged. "It's possible," she admitted. "I've been told she was the one of the first Eights to volunteer for the Hub mission. Why?"

Gaius shrugged. "I'm beginning to think that love has nothing whatsoever to do with Cylon pregnancy," he said.

"Joining the Colonial Fleet does?" Caprica asked sarcastically.

"No, but embracing one's mortality. Think about it," Gaius said, warming to the subject. "When Sharon Agathon rejected her own race and cut herself off from the collective, she was able to conceive. You took your own risks in helping Agathon escape the baseship with Hera, and putting yourself into the hands of the Colonials. You essentially defected. And then this Sarah and Jesse… they both must have supported the assertion that to live means that one must die, if she could volunteer so quickly to destroy resurrection and he could swear his allegiance to the Colonial Fleet. There is a common ground there, and something tells me it's not love."

"You don't know that," Caprica said, looking toward the pyramid court where two new teams were taking their places.

"No. But I can make an educated guess," Gaius agreed. "I don't think you ever loved Saul Tigh. Not the way that Sharon loves Helo or that Sarah probably loves Jesse." Caprica was silent. "In fact," Gaius continued. "I'd venture that there's only one man that you ever-"

The whistle blew and the teams sprang into action again, and Caprica watched them intently, ignoring Gaius. "Come on, you frakkers!" she shouted as they thundered past her. Her fists were clenched at her side.

"Hmmm," the Six said. "I think you might have lost her for now, Gaius."

"But-"

"Let her go," she advised, smiling slyly. "You've scored a point, but you've got a long way to go to win the game."

Gaius stepped away from Caprica. He could see her shoulders relax, sense her relief. Besides, he still had a patrol to do. With a sigh, he tightened his grip on the gun tucked into his pants and headed out of this haven and to the rest of the ship.

***

It was their house. Galen had buried that memory deep in his past well over a year ago, but here it was in, in bright, glorious color, all around him.

Sharon was watching him, her face hopeful. He smiled at her, trying to contain the tears but failing. "This is…"

"I know."

The details stood out to him; the wedding picture on the shelf, the vase with the flowers, the couch with deep cushions. How life could have been. Of course, that was more of a dream than either of them had realized.

"Galen?" Sharon stepped up to him, took his hand as they looked out over the garden.

"Yeah?"

"Before I show you the rest, there's something else I thought I should tell you."

She looked worried, and he tensed. "What is it?"

"Ellen wasn't Cavil's only prisoner," she said. "He's holding two humans and a Cylon as well."

"Really?"

"Jim Brooks, Gaeta, and an Eight."

Galen gaped at her. "Wait, Brooks is alive? One of my guys is alive and we aren't-" he stopped, because Brooks hadn't really been "his" guy since he'd found out that Galen was a Cylon. But then, an Eight was a prisoner as well. "You're sure about this?" he asked her.

"I've spoken to all of them."

"Sharon, they think they're dead here."

"I know. Louis Hoshi and Jesse Conoy came to see me." She cocked her head. "Adama didn't tell you?"

"No, but…" he shook his head. Adama wouldn't necessarily tell him anything. But the ship hadn't been buzzing with the news, which meant Adama was keeping it close to his chest. And the only reason he would be keeping it so quiet was if he didn't plan on going after them.

"Oh, frak."

"Listen," Sharon told him. "I have an idea for how we could get in there and get them back. But Adama won't listen to me, you know that. But he might listen to you." She looked so earnest. "Will you help me talk to him?"

Have hope. We're coming for you. He still remembered the shock those words had sent through him, the confirmation of what he'd always known. Adama would come for them, or die trying, because they were his people.

Even in the projection, her hand felt real. He squeezed it tightly. "I'm listening."

***

It hadn't been that long since Galen had been doing shifts in Sewage- only a couple of months, in fact. If he was really being honest, it wasn't quite the punishment the military envisioned it to be. Yes, the work was physically hard and disgusting and the smell would knock a horse over, but there was a camaraderie down there that made it tolerable. He still saw the guys from down there on a regular basis, so he'd known that Lieutenant Hoshi was pulling shifts with them. It made good gossip. After all, it wasn't often that senior CIC staff got stuck shoveling shit.

He managed to be there when Hoshi got off for a ten minute break. He came out of the room wearing a dirty coverall and heavy boots, and slumped down against the wall. Galen extended a wrapped algae bar to him.

"Hungry?"

"No thanks." Hoshi waved it away. He rubbed his forehead, leaving a grimy streak across his face.

"So," Galen said awkwardly. "How are you?"

Hoshi shrugged.

Galen wondered if everyone who'd been in that cell at the end of the… mutiny? Situation? Whatever the frak the Old Man wanted to call it- had such a hard time talking to Hoshi. Hoshi hadn't said anything out loud, but he'd also never had to. The beaten face, the blood on the back of his pants, and the way he'd fallen against the hatch after he'd shot two soldiers and then told Athena he deserved it more than she did had told the story louder than any words could. He cleared his throat and looked away.

"I went down to see Boomer," he said.

Hoshi's head snapped up, and there was spark of interest in his eyes. "Yeah?" And right there, Galen knew not to bother with preliminaries or beating around the bush; this fight was already won. He looked around. No one was paying attention to them, so he crouched down next to Hoshi.

"You know about Gaeta and Brooks and the Eight, right?" Hoshi nodded. "Boomer's got an idea on how she can sneak in to the Colony and rescue them. I ran it by Helo first, and he said it seemed like it was tactically sound. But when I took it to the Old Man…"

"He said no," Hoshi said flatly.

Galen had thought he'd lost any fear of Admiral Adama, but the feeling he'd gotten at the receiving end of that death glare was not one he cared to repeat. "Yeah."

Hoshi narrowed his eyes. "What's your interest in this?" he asked. "I'm guessing you want me to vet her plan, and then help her break out so that we can do this. If we're caught, it means…" he shuddered at the thought. "No offense, but somehow, I don't quite believe that you care that much about any of the three of them to risk what we'd be bringing on our own heads."

"Well, the worst Adama can do to me is stick me in the brig and strip me of my rank, which is pretty low as it is. He won't airlock us over this. It's you that stands to lose more. But you're right." He sighed, shifting in his stance because his thighs were cramping up. "I care about Gaeta and Sarah, and especially about Brooks because he's been one of my guys for years. But I care even more that the Cylons are going to execute Boomer for treason without any sort of fair trial, when she's risked so much…." He trailed off, not liking the look on Hoshi's face, and willing to bet every cubit he had that Gaeta had told Hoshi exactly what had happened in the launch tube that day. "But yeah. I'm committed to this. Are you in?" He looked straight at Hoshi.

Hoshi had expressive eyes, and right now he was stripped open, angry and bleeding. This man was willing to go to the end of space for this mission to work, Galen could see it. So he already knew the answer when Hoshi extended his grimy hand, closing his fingers hard around Galen's in a handshake.

"I'm in."

Chapter Text

"All right," Galen said, standing in their house of dreams for a moment. "You're clear on how this is going to go?"

Sharon nodded. "I am."

"We'll meet you at the hangar deck. Hoshi will be your ECO, and I'll make sure you guys get away. You really need to pick up that equipment?"

"They'll let me take it as long as they think I'm Athena," Sharon said. "They aren't going to let you in, and they'd ask Hoshi too many questions first."

"Right." Galen looked around the house, trying to memorize every part of it. In the corner, Dione smiled at him, and his heart melted. "Sharon, I-"

The front door opened, and Hoshi walked in. It was strange that he was actually in the house, but just from his posture and his expression Galen could tell he couldn't see it. He was holding a Colonial flight suit, and he was white and shaking, wiping his mouth on a rag. Sharon dropped her hand, and the house disappeared. They were back in the gray surroundings of the brig, and Hoshi glanced at the Marine on duty.

"You ready?" he asked them.

The Marine nodded, and braced himself. Hoshi looked at Galen. "All right. Do it."

It wasn't a part of Hoshi's plan that Galen particularly liked, but it cast all suspicion off the Marine. "Sorry about this," he said, then punched him across the face. The Marine slumped to the floor, unconscious.

Hoshi stepped over his body and quickly keyed in a code. They heard the locking mechanism click, and Sharon opened the door. Hoshi handed her the clothing and then turned away. "I'll meet you on the hangar deck," he said as Sharon hitched the pants over her hips. "I've got to get a flight suit for myself."

"Right. I'll get what I need and meet you there. We've got," Sharon checked her watch, "fifteen minutes at most. Let's go." She pulled up the suit and zipped it up, and then hurried out.

"Hey," Galen said, as they gave her a head start, "are you going to be okay to do this? You look like shit."

"I'll be fine once I get out of here," Hoshi said. He pulled the door shut and began tapping numbers into the pad. "Okay. That should cover us for long enough. Once we're gone-"

"I'll tell the Admiral I couldn't stop you. Who's hitting me, you or her?"

"Any requests?"

"Yeah. No offense, Hoshi, but you aren't the one that's going to split my head open."

Hoshi grinned humorlessly. "Good point. Let's go."

***

Louis was pulling on his flight suit when Boomer found him. "I'll get the ammo you need after this," he told her. "And I was able to get us some rations. I figured we don't need much."

"No." She knelt down, readjusting her boot. "Do you fly much?"

"Raptors, you mean? No. Don't even have my wings. I have to admit it's been years since my ECO training."

"Great," Boomer drawled. She looked up at him appraisingly. "It's a long trip. I know this sounds silly, but did you drink enough water? The recirculated air in a Raptor can really dehydrate you, and you looked like you were sick earlier."

"I should be all right," he said tentatively.

She gave him an exasperated glare. "Here," she said, tossing him a bottle. "Drink this."

He opened the bottle and took a long sip. "Thanks." The water helped the sour taste in his mouth. "I can't believe we're really going," he told her. "It doesn't seem real."

"It will seem real soon enough," she said.

"Yeah. I guess." He turned around. "Could you help me…" he had to stop and steady himself, because the world began to spin. "Could you help…" he tried again, but the spinning accelerated and he pitched forward.

He was unconscious before he even hit the floor.

***

"Daddy!" Hera shouted, running to Helo.

"Captain Agathon," Lloyd said, stepping up behind Hera. "You're early."

"I am," Helo agreed, scooping up Hera into his arms. "I thought Hera might like to watch what's going on in the secondary storage airlock."

"Oh?" Lloyd asked, raising his eyebrows. "More Raptors?"

"The biggest knock down, drag-out pyramid tournament you've ever seen. It's pretty exciting." He shifted Hera on his hip. "You ready?" he asked.

Hera made a face. "I have to go potty."

To Helo's mild surprise, Sharon appeared. "I'll take her," she said, smiling that smile he loved. Her eyes twinkled. "I know I wasn't supposed to pick her up right now, but I heard about this pyramid tournament…"

"Great minds," Helo said. He handed Hera over, but Hera clung to him until Sharon extended her cup.

"I assume you're playing," she said, taking Hera into her arms and urging her to drink.

"What gave it away?" Helo teased, indicating his sweat-soaked clothing. "Should I wait for you?"

"No, go ahead," Sharon said. "I also want to stop back at our quarters and pick up a sweater for her. I'll meet you down there."

"All right." Helo leaned over and kissed her again.

"Eww, yuck," Sharon laughed, pushing him away teasingly. "You really need a shower."

"We can always get one later," he said suggestively.

She rolled her eyes, but her smile said yes loud and clear. Helo smiled back, and then headed back down to the pyramid tournament.

***

"Where is he?" Galen demanded, as Sharon helped him heft the chest of rations, spare parts, and ammunition onto the Raptor.

"I couldn't take him," Sharon said. "Galen… you know how this could go. And as I thought about it…"

"I know," Galen sighed. The last thing any of them needed was more blood on their hands. "I just wish…"

"I wish, too." She smiled sadly. "Are you sure you won't come with me?"

"I… I can't," he said, looking around Galactica. "But you are going to do it, and you'll do great. I know it." He took in her face. "There's something I want you to remember. I mean this, with all my heart." He leaned down and kissed her, and their house sprang into being once more. It couldn't last long enough, and he had to break away.

The hatch shut on her Raptor and it began to taxi away. A part of Galen wished he could go with her, but he kept telling himself that this was for the best.

But he sure as hell didn't know exactly why.

***

"He's got one!" Kara said, holding up her hand to stop the others. She bent over, gasping for breath, sweat dripping down her chin. Helo took advantage of the downtime to scan the spectators again.

"Anything good, Sam?"

Anders made a face. "Flying a class M5 Greybook for the first time," he said, shaking his head. "Powerful. Euphoric. But not remotely a help for anything else." HotDog tossed the ball over, and Anders tossed it from hand to hand. "I think we need a water break."

"And maybe a roster change," Twofer agreed.

Helo wiped his brow on his arm, still searching through the spectators. "What's wrong?" Kara asked him.

"Nothing big," he said, shaking his head. "It's just that Sharon said she'd be down with Hera, and that was four or five points ago."

"Maybe she needed a nap," Kara suggested with a shrug. Her smirk mocked his concern, and she clapped him on the shoulder. "Keep your head in the game."

He did just that, and played for another hour. Truthfully, if he really admitted it, it was nice just to play pyramid for a while. He didn't have to think, he didn't have to plan, he didn't have to worry he was sending pilots to their deaths or that he wouldn't come back. Just jump and catch, throw and run, tackle and block and score. The motion of bodies, every once in a while finding that perfection that Anders was searching for.

Then he saw Sharon standing in the entry to the landing bay, and a cold feeling blossomed in the pit of his stomach, even though he didn't quite know why.

He jogged over to her. "Hey," he said, leaning in to kiss her. She smiled and didn't push him away this time. "Where's Hera? Did you get Kayla to watch her while she slept?"

"Hera? You picked her up from daycare," Sharon said.

"Yes, and then I gave her to…" Helo looked around. Here and there in the spectators there were Cylons; Twos and Sixes and Eights watching, some even laughing and cheering. The cold feeling bloomed fully and he shivered. "You took her," he said through numb lips.

Sharon glared at him. "No," she said, "I didn't."

Panic. Absolute panic, because this couldn't be happening again. "Let's keep our heads," he said, trying to convince himself. "I'll try the day care, you try Kayla. We'll just keep looking every place she could be. It's a big ship. She's got to be somewhere on it."

But as he searched place after place, talked to person after person… it began becoming increasingly clear that she was not.

***

"She did what?" Galen's mouth hung open, and Hoshi was sheet white. They'd finally found him sitting on the floor in the ready room, still groggy from whatever Boomer had given him. Adama was glowering at them both, and Galen shook his head. "No. No, she couldn't have. We saw her off and Hera wasn't with her. She wasn't." He looked frantically at Hoshi, but Hoshi's head was bowed and he wouldn't meet Galen's eyes.

And then he remembered the trunk. The trunk that was supposedly filled with equipment and supplies, but just the right size to hold a little girl… if you were sick enough to put one in there.

The Admiral glared at them both, thunder in his face. "Don't give me any frakking alibis," he said. "You two let that thing out. Between sworn statements from the guards, entry codes that only a few soldiers know, and both of you being seen by her Raptor, you both had better give me a very good reason why I shouldn't be putting you in the brig for the rest of your lives."

Neither of them answered. There was nothing to say.

"Take them to the brig," Adama ordered the Marines. "The one on C deck."

Hoshi's head shot up. "Sir, no," he said, if possible going paler. "Please, don't. Not there. Please don't put me back in there." Adama glared at him and turned away, and two Marines stepped in, grabbing his arms. "Please, Admiral!" Hoshi called after him as he retreated. "Put me anywhere else. That's fine. Just not there."

The Admiral kept walking.

"DON'T DO THIS TO ME!" The scream ripped out of the man's throat, and Galen cringed. It finally dawned on him exactly why Hoshi was fighting this particular punishment so hard.

"Sir," he shouted at Adama's back. "Come on. You've got to be-"

But Adama was already gone.

***

"How could you?" Sharon shouted, pushing Helo back against the wall. "How could you just hand her over to someone else?!"

"I thought she was you!" Helo protested, although he felt like throwing up. "What do you want me to do, Sharon? She was wearing a Colonial flight suit. Here didn't even seem to know…" and he stopped, remembering that Hera hadn't stretched her arms out to that Sharon, that she'd clung to him until Sharon had offered the cup.

Sharon saw his hesitation. "She knows me," she told him furiously. "She knows me, and you should, too."

The guilt and shame swept over him, and all he could do was stand still, fists clenched as he thought about how he'd betrayed his own daughter, and his wife.

Sharon was crying. He tried to reach out and hold her, but she yanked away. "We'll get her back," he told her. "I'll go to Adama and he'll see reason. We'll get her back.

She shook her head angrily. "Boomer's taking her to Cavil," she spat. "There won't be anything left to get back. You know that's what he wants her for- he wants to figure out how she works. What makes her so special."

Helo wanted sit down and cry with her, wanted to scream and rage, wanted to punch things. But none of that would help Hera, and for Hera he had to be strong. "No, he won't. Because we're going to get there before he can. I promise, Sharon, we're going to get her back. Or I'm going to die trying."

***

"No."

"Sir, please. Just one Raptor. Sharon will pilot, I can be the ECO. We won't risk anyone else."

"Just two of my best pilots, and a Raptor I can't spare. And that puts the Fleet at risk. No."

Helo grabbed Adama's arm. It was a huge breach of military protocol, but he couldn't bring himself to care. "You don't understand," he ground out through gritted teeth. "She's my daughter."

"And she's gone. I've lost a son, and you've lost a daughter. But I can't condone a suicide mission. So let it go." Adama stepped away.

"She's not gone!" Helo insisted. "And neither are Brooks or Sarah or Gaeta!"

Adama froze, and turned back to Helo. "Go to the brig and ask Lieutenant Hoshi how likely I am to change my mind. Let it go."

"She's just a child!" Helo snapped. "A child, and I'm supposed to protect her! Let it go? Now is the one time I should be doing anything but letting it go! My child is out there, alive and at the mercy of Cavil. You talk about how this ship is your home and this crew is your family, but that's not true, is it? This ship is your family, and we're just convenient passengers."

Adama's face darkened. "I understand your pain, Captain, but don't lecture me. You're here to take orders. Do you understand?"

Helo wanted to take the man by the arms and shake him until he saw reason, but all that would do would be to land him in the brig with Tyrol and Hoshi, and that would be no help to Hera at all. So for Hera, he controlled himself, reined in his rage and anger and pain.

"Yes, sir," he managed to say.

Adama softened. Not much, but a little. Enough to squeeze Helo's shoulder in sympathy before he walked away, leaving Helo standing in the hall, bereft of anything but empty hope.

Chapter Text

Louis didn't want to see anyone, not now. But when Jesse tapped on the window of the cell and motioned for him to pick up the phone, he couldn't stop himself from complying.

"Hey, Jess," he said quietly.

Jesse looked tired. His face was pale, his eyes were puffy and red with dark circles underneath, and he hadn't shaved or trimmed his goatee in a day or two. But his uniform was still neat, and when he looked at Louis, he smiled.

"You holding up okay?"

Louis opened his mouth to lie, but nothing came out. He couldn't tell Jesse of all people he was fine, and yet, after what he'd allowed Boomer to do, he didn't feel like he could complain, either. Instead, he leaned his forehead against the barrier, one hand resting on the glass, the other still clutching the phone.

He felt that electrical impulse again, and the world around him changed. The sky was blue, the stream burbled by him, the trees rustled their leaves in the wind. "Don't," he whispered into the phone.

"I have to," Jesse said back, his voice clear and calm. "You tried to save her, Louis."

"I didn't. I tried to save Felix."

"You wouldn't have risked it for her," Jesse agreed, "but you wouldn't have left her stranded on the Colony if you'd gotten there, either."

"No," Louis said.

"You tried to save her," Jesse repeated, "and that's more than anyone else has done. I will never forget it."

"Yeah, well, I'm afraid you won't be the only one." Louis said. He looked around the creek once more. "Don't do this again, Jess. Please. I can't… I don't…."

The creek faded, and the loss of it was a pain that was almost physical. "I'm sorry," Jesse said. He looked at his watch. "I can't stay," he said. "But I wanted… I just wanted to see you."

"I'm glad you did," Louis ground out. He didn't deserve it… but then he hadn't deserved to lose Felix like this, and he hadn't deserved what Gage had done, either. He put his hand to the glass again. Jesse understood, and put his own against it, although this time he didn't project. "Thank you."

"I'll come back. And this time, when we lose them again, we'll do it together."

***

There were only three people who would have any clear idea of where Boomer might have gone. Helo decided to ask the harder two, first.

He went down to the brig during his lunch break. Tyrol was sitting on his bed, stirring his algae with a fork, but Hoshi was sitting on the floor, sheets of paper spread out before him and a pen in his hand, his lips moving silently as he worked through calculations. The bruise on his cheek had blossomed into spectacular purples and greens. Both men were wearing tanks, with no signs of their ranks.

Helo rapped, and Tyrol looked up. For a long moment, he just stared. Then he heaved himself to his feet resignedly, and came over to the phone.

Hoshi didn't even glance at them.

"All right," Tyrol said, his voice slightly distorted by the phone. "Go ahead and yell at me. Frak knows I deserve it."

"I didn't come down here to yell at you," Helo said.

"Yeah, well, you should. We should have known that Hera was what she was really after. Never occurred to either one of us. Hoshi was so focused on getting Gaeta home, and me…"

"Yes?" Helo prompted.

Tyrol shook his head. "They're all the same," he said. "The Ones. The Twos. The Eights. They're all the same, and that's how I ended up in here."

"No, they're not. They're different. That's how I ended up here." Tyrol shook his head, and Helo plunged on. "How you felt about Boomer, that was different. That's why you did what you did."

Tyrol's laugh was hollow. "No, I did what I did because I was a frakking idiot. A two thousand-year-old idiot who cannot learn the simplest lesson: Machines are not people, they're just machines."

Helo shook his head. "If Cylons are nothing, if their feelings mean nothing, then Thorne died for nothing and you are nothing. If Cylons mean nothing, then you didn't hurt anyone but yourself. My wife. Athena? Is a person."

"She's a blowup doll. Athena, Sharon, Boomer, Sarah... Call them what you will, they're all the same. They're all the same because we made them the same." Every word hurt, not just for Sharon's honor but for Tyrol's. The pain and disgust were clear in his eyes. "Don't blame yourself, but you can't trust them. You can't trust any of them."

"I need to trust this one, Galen," he said, leaning in. "Where did Boomer go?"

"The Colony, I assume," Tyrol said with a shrug. He glanced back over his shoulder at Hoshi. "That's where we thought she was going. Hoshi was going to go with her." He shrugged again.

"Where's the Colony?"

"I don't know. Frak, I wish I did, because I'd tell you and you'd just get the frak out of here, but I don't know. She was the only one that knew."

"Did she tell Hoshi?"

Galen looked back at the man still sitting on the floor. "No. Doesn't matter anyway. The man's gonna lose his mind if Adama keeps him in here much longer."

"What do you mean? He's doing jump calculations, isn't he?"

"And coming apart at the seams when he's not."

A shiver ran down Helo's spine, not just at the truth of the statement, but at the dead, unflinching look in Tyrol's eyes as he said it. It was conversation, not something he cared about. Hoshi wasn't the only one close to losing his mind, or his soul. And as he watched, Tyrol retreated further into his misery. "Any chance I can talk to Hoshi himself?"

"If he'd known the coordinates, believe me, he would have told. Don't torture him just for what you already have."

"But I-" Helo wanted to finish, but there was nothing more to say. It was there in Tyrol's face, in his eyes. He didn't know if the man he'd known was dead, but he was certainly buried.

He turned and left them in the cell.

***

"What do you think, Sam?" Kara asked.

Even Sam was tired. Tired and frustrated, because while he'd managed to pull up a handful of memories, none of them really managed to satisfy him and tell him anything real about his life. "I'm ready to pack it in for the day," he conceded.

Kara smiled. "Did it work?"

"Well enough," he said with a shrug. "But something tells me the Admiral isn't going to sanction a week long pyramid tournament."

"Yeah," Kara sighed, drinking a swallow of water. "Especially with Hera going missing."

"What?"

"You didn't hear?" Kara asked, surprised. "You must have really been concentrating. It sounds like Boomer took her."

Sam shook his head. "Good gods," he said. "What else could go wrong?"

***

The dream was the same as it ever was. Hera running through the Opera House, Laura chasing her, calling to her. Athena doing the same. Both of them too far away to catch her, even as they knew there was danger. A Six picking Hera up, turning away, Gaius Baltar at her side. And nothing she could do, no way she could stop it even as Hera was carried into the light….

But this time, the dream started when she was awake, and ended with Laura crumpled on the floor, the water glass broken and the liquid soaking the papers she'd been carrying.

***

Saul flung the hatch open as hard as he could. "What the frak are you thinking?"

Bill barely looked up. "You'd better have a damn good reason for that kind of entrance, Saul."

"I just talked to Helo."

"I've been over this with him already." Bill took a drink from his flask. "We don't have the resources for a suicide mission."

"That's not what I'm talking about, but we'll get to that in a few minutes. Why the hell did you stick Hoshi in the Cylon brig?"

"He let that thing out of its cell, and it's because of him that Helo was even in your office begging for a Raptor in the first place."

"But the Cylon brig?"

"He cast his lot in with the Cylons," Bill said glumly, "he can be punished like one." He lifted the flask to take another drink, but Saul swung and knocked it out of his hand.

"You bastard," Saul growled. "There are other cells, and trust me, Hoshi's not going to rip the bars off any of them. But the place where those frakkers dumped us all after they took us hostage? For God's sake, Bill, if you hate the man so much, why don't you just lock him in the causeway where they raped him in the first place?"

"I didn't hate him. I don't hate him."

"Then move him!"

"The other cells are full, and I'm not sending him over to the Astral Queen. Gage is there."

"So give Zarek a roommate. Let them stay up all night having slumber parties and doing each other's nails."

Bill glared. "I'm not putting one of my officers into a position to be influenced by Zarek again."

"Because Hoshi's singing your praises right now."

The phone rang, harsh and shrill. Bill glared at Saul. "This isn't over," he said, and he strode over and picked up the phone. "Adama," he said. The color drained from his face. "What? When?"

"Bill?" Bill held up a hand.

"I'll be right down."

"Bill-" Saul tried to catch him, but as Bill turned to face him and he saw the stricken look on his face, Saul knew the words before Bill even had to say them.

"It's Laura. She collapsed. Cottle says it's almost time."

***

"Well?" Bill faced Cottle, prepared to battle the man to the death if possible to save Laura.

"I'm sorry, Bill, but it's too late to do anything," Cottle said, looking back at the bed where Laura was lying.

"Can you restart her on the diloxin?" Bill asked anxiously.

"Won't do any good, even if she'd let me. We're past that, now."

"But-"

"Bill, it's not that this is what she wants. It's that this is what's going to happen. It's a miracle that she's held on as long as she has."

Bill relented. "Can I see her?"

"Would anything I said stop you?"

"No."

Cottle grunted. "Then why bother to ask? You're the Admiral, after all. Go ahead."

As he walked into the cubicle, Bill realized that Cottle hadn't been smoking a cigarette. And that, even more than Laura lying in the bed or the IV hooked to her arm, made this real.

He expected her to look small and withered in the bed, but when he walked in, she didn't. She opened her eyes, and when she saw him, she smiled.

"I figured you'd be down," she said, her voice low and soft.

He sat down beside her and took her hand. "Of course. Where else would I be?"

To his surprise, the look Laura gave him was stern. "Running the ship."

"Tigh can handle it for now."

"Mmm." Laura opened her mouth to say something, but was interrupted with a fit of coughing.

"It's more important I'm here," Bill said as the spasm eased. "You know that."

"And I'm grateful," Laura answered. She reached out and twined her fingers with his. "But Bill, there's something I want you to do for me."

"Anything."

Laura smiled. "I'll hold you to that, because you won't like what I'm going to ask."

"What is it?"

"Go after Hera, Bill. Go after Gaeta and Sarah and Brooks. Maybe you'll fail, but at least you'll be able to live with knowing you tried."

"Laura-"

"I know why you haven't. It's easier to have the people we failed far away from us, isn't it? To never look at them again?" Laura's fingers tightened around his. "It's easier. But it's not who you are. Go after them, Bill. Promise me."

He had to swallow three times before he said it. "I promise."

***

If he focused, if he only thought the calculations, he could pretend he forgot where he was. He couldn't, of course, but he could pretend. Just focus on the numbers. Just focus on the stars. Angles and integrals, degrees and radians, functions and-

"Hoshi!" Tyrol's voice broke into his monologue, and Louis looked up from his seat on the floor, the pen clutched tightly in his hand. Tyrol gestured at the door. "The Colonel," he said.

"Oh. Right. Sorry, sir," Louis said, pulling himself to standing. It was still cold in here, and gooseflesh was standing out on his bare arms. He rubbed them, shivering. "Sorry, sir," he repeated.

"Lieutenant," Tigh said, and gestured. "Come with me."

Louis glanced at Tyrol, but he just shrugged. "Good luck," he said as Louis followed Tigh and several Marines out of the cell.

Tigh turned around. "Are you going to give me trouble, Lieutenant, or can we skip cuffing you?"

"It's not Lieutenant anymore, is it?" Louis asked. "I'm not sure what my rank is anymore, but it's not Lieutenant."

Tigh looked at the lead Marine. "We don't need to cuff him," he told her, and she nodded. "Come on," he ordered Louis curtly.

"Yes, sir." As they left the cell, Louis felt his hands shaking again, but this time in relief. Relief and dread, because whenever he was done doing whatever Tigh wanted him to do, he would have to go back down there. His stomach roiled at the thought.

But Tigh didn't take them towards the CIC, like Louis expected.

"Sir?" he ventured the courage to ask, "where are we going?"

Tigh stopped, and turned around. His face was stern and angry, but there was something else lingering there, some sort of odd compassion. "You'll know when we get there," he told Louis, and then resumed the walk. Louis wondered if they were headed for the airlock, but he couldn't sum up more than a sliver of fear at the idea.

It wasn't an airlock. Tigh opened the hatch, and when he did, Tom Zarek looked up from behind the bars of the brig. "What's going on?" Zarek said, standing up and leaning indolently against the bars.

"Move," Tigh ordered him.

Zarek deliberately paused for a moment, and then took a few steps back, and the Marines opened the cell. Tigh turned to Louis.

"You deserved punishment, Lieutenant," Tigh said, "and there's no getting around that. Not for what you did. But you didn't deserve what the Admiral did to you, putting you down there. I don't like to go down there, and I don't want to imagine what that was like for you." He nodded, and the Marine slid the door shut. "I'll send down the star charts."

"Yes, sir."

Tigh gave him one last, long look, and then turn around and marched out of the brig. The hatch slammed shut, echoing in the small room.

Zarek cringed.

The cell was small to begin with, and now it had two cots shoved into it. Louis sat down on the one, knees drawn up to his chest, taking deep breaths. He was still in the brig, but he felt like he'd come up for air after being underwater far too long. And it was much warmer in here.

"So what was that all about?" Zarek asked, arms crossed as he looked out the bars.

"Excuse me?"

"That's the biggest apology I've ever heard anyone get out of Saul Tigh. And I certainly never expected someone in the brig to get one." Zarek's smile twisted bitterly.

"It was nothing," Louis said. He leaned back against the bars and closed his eyes.

"You don't get shoved in the brig for 'nothing'," Zarek said. "I do, but you don't. Haven't you always been in the Admiral's pocket?"

Louis sighed heavily. "I suppose you'd see it that way," he shot back, and as he did, he straightened his legs out. "But when your superior officer gives you an order, you follow it. It's one of the first things they teach you in the military."

"And when the President becomes indisposed or incompetent or dies, the Vice President becomes the President," Zarek riposted. "It's one of the first things they teach you in school. You were ignoring the order of the acting President of the Colonies. You should have connected me with Adama."

Louis sighed and told Zarek the same thing he'd told Felix months ago. "What's the point? He would have just hung up on you anyway."

Zarek opened his mouth to argue, and then cocked his head and changed his mind. "You've changed," he said. "I would have gotten a full lecture on not insulting the Admiral, back when Felix was alive."

The words hit like lightning coursing through him, and Louis snapped his head up. "Felix is alive. Cavil's holding him prisoner."

It was at that point that Louis Hoshi had a rare privilege that very few people, living or dead, had ever had. He saw Tom Zarek struck speechless.

It couldn't last long, however. Zarek leaned forward. "How the frak do you know this?" he demanded. "And what's being done?"

"Sit down," Louis sighed. "And I'll tell you." At least it would pass some time.

***

"How is she?" Ellen asked as Saul slid into his seat.

"Doesn't look good," Saul said. Sam pushed a full glass over to him, and he knocked it back, and then looked around. "Where's Kara?"

Sam nodded over to the piano, where Kara was sitting, fiddling with the keys. She was playing too softly to tell if the notes made music or were just a random collection of sounds. Saul grunted and turned back to the table.

"How's Bill holding up?" Ellen asked, and there was a note of caution in her voice, like it was a question she only asked because it was expected.

"How do you think?" Saul returned. "It's not going to be easy on him."

"At least he's not killing her himself," Ellen muttered.

"Ellen-"

"Look, I'm just saying," Ellen said innocently, spreading her hands. "It could be worse."

"That's not what you were saying," Saul muttered, but he did it under his breath. He looked over at Kara again. He wondered if he'd ever felt like he was caught between a rock and a hard place, living with these two women on Earth. He wondered if there was any other possible feeling. With a glare at Ellen, he pushed his chair away and went over to where Kara was playing the piano.

As he got closer, he could hear that she really was playing music. It was melancholy and soft, with a wistful air to it. He sat down in a chair nearby and listened, watching her.

When she finished, she didn't look at him. She just sat, perched with her hands still on the keys. "Does it trigger any memories?"

"Can't say that it does," Saul answered. "But I wish it did."

"My father… well, the father Cavil invented for me. He was a piano player." Kara smiled at a distant memory that didn't belong to her. "He used to teach me. Funny how I remember that so clearly, isn't it? He used to sit by the piano and teach me."

She began to pick out a simple tune, a melody taught to children.

"But the thing is, I must have known how to play, back on Earth. Or can they program something like piano playing into us?"

"Don't know," Saul admitted. "Can't see why Cavil would go out of his way to give you something like that, though."

Kara raised her eyebrows. "No. Doesn't make sense." She cocked her head, still staring at the keys. "Do you play?"

Saul snorted. "Can't imagine that I do."

"Can't imagine you as a scientist inventing resurrection, either," Kara pointed out.

"Fair enough." She was still picking out the tune. He came over and sat down beside her on the piano bench. "Show me," he said.

Kara looked at him like he was insane, but then played a note. Saul found the same key two octaves lower- octaves?- and played the same one.

She picked out the tune, slowly, and he followed. If he thought about it too hard, he fumbled, but if he didn't, the smoothness of the keys beneath his fingers seemed old and familiar, and his hand moved nimbly. They accelerated, and the sounds changed from individual notes to melody. Kara smiled at Saul, and suddenly he was sure they'd sat like this before, many, many times.

He brought his other hand to the keys, and they were playing together, some song that he'd never heard before but that they must have played over and over. His fingers moved of their own accord, and he was no longer following Kara, but playing the principal melody while she played the descant. (Descant?)

They came around the bridge, and the melody morphed, and he knew that song, the one he'd been hearing since the Ionian Nebula. Kara's eyes widened as well, but they played it to a thundering conclusion. When they finished, they stared at each other, only vaguely aware that the few people sitting in Joe's were applauding.

"It's good to hear you two play the piano together again," Ellen sighed. She was standing at his elbow, a wistful look on her face. "I always loved listening to it."

"I didn't know…" was all he managed to say. He turned to face Sam, who was standing over Kara. "On Earth… you said that you wrote that. You played it for a woman you loved."

"I guess." Sam looked helpless. "I still don't remember a thing about music."

Saul looked at Kara again, but instead of seeing her in Joe's, in tanks and wearing dogtags, he saw her sitting beside him, Ellen's rose garden visible in the window behind her. There were pictures on the mantle and Kara looked like she'd been crying, and her clothing was tight and short and leather, like he'd always hated. He couldn't remember why she was crying, or when this was, or what they'd been fighting about… only the peace that came after they'd played together, and for some reason, he'd hugged her and she'd cried again.

"This is so frakked up," Kara said, and she was back in Joe's, and she was nearly crying now.

"It is." Saul stood up and left the piano. "I'm going to go see how Bill's doing. Then I'd better get to the CIC."

***

Bill didn't leave Laura's side. Instead, he opened Searider Falcon and read, not even hearing the words. Laura's eyes were closed, a small smile playing on the edges of her lips as she listened. Her wig was off and she was fiddling with the ring that Bill had silently slipped on her finger as he was reading. He didn't comment, and neither did she, but it was enough.

Then she stopped fidgeting with it, and her hands lay still at her sides, and he knew the end was coming.

Bill was vaguely aware that a vigil was being kept outside Laura's cubicle as well. He heard the regular passing of the doctors and nurses, muted voices that he recognized as Saul, as Kara, as Lee. But none of it mattered.

The heart monitor accelerated a little.

Bill leaned forward, uncertain of what was happening. The curtain opened and Cottle came in, his brows furrowed. "Did anything happen?" he asked.

"No. What's going on?"

Cottle studied the machines, and then shook his head. "It could be any number of things, Bill. I-" Laura's eyes flared open, and he broke off.

"I see it," Laura whispered, and there was a look of rapture on her face. "It's beautiful."

"What's beautiful, Laura?" Bill asked, even though he had a feeling he didn't want the answer. The heart monitor was slowing now… too slow.

Laura turned her head towards his voice, but her eyes still looked sightless, shining with unshed tears. "The Opera House," she answered, her voice breaking. "I see it now. I see what it means… I see the truth…." She fumbled for Bill's hand, and suddenly, he knew she was seeing him again.

"I love you," he told her, before she could fade away.

Her smile was weak. "I love you, too. And Bill… where there's love, there's hope. Bring them all home."

She closed her eyes. The heart monitor flat-lined into a solitary note, until Cottle shut it off. And then there was only silence.

***

It felt like Galactica herself was mourning, even though very few people knew. It didn't matter; it would spread like wildfire.

"It's always at three in the morning," Saul muttered.

"It's a wonder that Cottle ever sleeps," Bill agreed.

They walked into the Hall of Remberence, where all of the faces looked back at them. They were layered on so thickly now that Saul wondered if anyone could even see the people who had been lost originally, when the Colonies had been attacked. He shuddered. "Where are you putting her?" he asked.

There were a lot of places that Laura Roslin belonged, and a lot of people that would probably be honored to have the President's picture by theirs. Saul looked at the faces of New Caprica, of former students, of former Quorum members and Billy Keikeya. For a moment, he thought that Bill would put her there, next to the young man that had been like a son to her. But he moved on.

He hung her right above to Dee. It seemed like an odd choice, until Saul noticed the other pictures around it. Next to Dee was the picture of Gaeta and Hoshi, still hanging. Across the hall, Jesse and Sarah smiled. And right above where Laura now hung, Sharon was kissing Hera.

"Bill?" Saul said.

"We're going," Bill said slowly.

"What?"

"We're going. We're getting our people back. Laura was right, Saul. We should have gone a long time ago." He reached up, and unpinned the picture of Hera and Sharon, then the one of Gaeta and Hoshi, and then Sarah and Jesse. He scanned the hall, searching, and then finally located the picture of Brooks, smiling from a high corner.

"We're getting our people back, or we'll die trying. We might go down, but we'll do it in style."

Saul couldn't help the smile that broke out over his face. "Yes, sir."

Chapter Text

They were playing sockball when they heard the footsteps. The clanking of Centurions and the softer footfalls of at least one humanoid model. Sarah tucked the ball behind her back, and Felix and Brooks exchanged worried glances. Felix's shoulder had healed to the point where he could move it, and the last thing he wanted was to go through another round with Cavil like the last one.

The intruders rounded the corner and appeared at the entrance, and wasn't sure if he was relieved or more worried. Because just as Dee had said, there was Hera, clinging to Boomer's hand.

"She's had another growth spurt," Dee sighed. Hera looked terrified, but she also didn't look any worse for the wear. Her purple shirt was rumpled but unstained and untorn, and she was walking under her own power.

Hera spotted Felix and Brooks, and her eyes lit up with recognition. But she didn't move, still clinging to Boomer's hand. They all looked at Cavil.

"Well," he scowled at Hera. "Get in there." He pushed Hera's shoulder, and Boomer wrested her hand free, although Felix thought he saw a little reluctance. "You three deal with her," Cavil ordered. "Keep her alive. I'll be back for her later." He grabbed Boomer by the upper arm and pulled her away.

Hera's eyes widened. "Boomer!" she shouted. "Boomer!" She began to cry.

Felix limped over to her. "Hey," he said soothingly. "It's okay, Hera." Hera snuffled and wiped her nose on her arm, looking at him. He looked appealingly at Sarah and Brooks. Sarah was half frozen, but Brooks came on over.

"Hey, Hera," he said, and his voice was almost cheerful. "You know me, right?" Hera nodded. "You're going to be okay in here with us. We're not going to hurt you." Hera looked at him suspiciously. "Has Cavil been hurting you?" Hera shook her head. "Are you scared?" She nodded.

"It's okay to be scared," Brooks told her. "We're scared, too. But we've got something here." He nudged Sarah, and she finally realized what he wanted and gave him the ball. "Want to play ball with us?" Hera nodded. "Good. You sit over there."

They formed their circle again, and this time they kept it smaller. Felix noticed that Sarah kept stealing looks at Hera, and her expression almost looked like fear. Brooks was extremely good with Hera, keeping up a stream of pleasant chatter. Hera didn't answer, but he didn't seem to mind.

A Centurion eventually brought food; protein bars, moldy bread, and overripe apples that were way too tart, but juicy. Hera's eyes lit up when she saw the apple. Brooks broke off pieces that weren't too mushy and gave them to her, and she nibbled at them.

"You're awfully good with her," Felix said to Brooks. "Do you know Sharon and Helo well?" Brooks shook his head, but he didn't elaborate. "What else do we need to do for her?" Felix asked. "I don't know the first thing about kids."

"We'll mange it," Brooks promised. He looked at Hera, who was still nibbling at her bits of apple. "What do you think Cavil wants with her?"

"I don't know, but it's probably not a good idea to find out," Felix said. "When the Four comes, we'll get this plan moving."

***

Hera.

Sarah stared at the small girl, who was now rolling the sockball back and forth with Gaeta. She was such a pretty little thing, with curls and big eyes- even prettier than she was from afar. She remembered holding Hera the first time she was on the baseship, when she was bigger than an infant, but not quite a real girl yet. Hera hadn't fit naturally into her arms, and hadn't calmed as Sarah took her at all. She remembered shifting the child uncomfortably on her hip for a moment, marveling at the little miracle, and then handing her off to another Eight as quickly as she could manage.

Brooks emerged from the head and watched Gaeta and Hera playing with the sockball for a long moment. Sarah thought he might join them, but he looked over at her and came and sat down.

"Do you mind?" he asked. Sarah shook her head. "You don't look so good," Brooks observed.

"I'm fine," Sarah murmured automatically, her hands lingering protectively over her stomach.

"Yeah?" Brooks sighed. "Glad someone is. I'm not." Sarah turned her head sharply, but Brooks was watching Gaeta and Hera. "Don't know why I think sitting with you is going to help, but it's easier than dealing with her."

"You don't like kids?" Sarah asked.

"I love kids," Brooks said. "Especially my own, back on Tauron."

"You have children?" Sarah asked, surprised.

"I did," he said, and his meaning struck her hard. She'd realized, many times before, that children had been killed in their attack on the Colonies. She'd moved their little bodies off the street, for frak's sake. But looking at Hera and wrapping her arms around the beginnings of a bulge in her middle, this was the first time she even vaguely understood what that had done to people. She couldn't say a word… she only bowed her head.

"Don't think I can ever forgive that," Brooks said conversationally. "I miss them every day. But you'll see what it's like, when you've got one of your own. And you'll have to live with it, knowing that you did to all of us the thing you'll fear the most."

"Shut up," Sarah ordered.

"You blew up my family. I've been awfully good up until now, but I think I have the right to tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it."

"Fine," Sarah relented, knocking her head back against the wall. "Go ahead."

Brooks didn't say anything for a long while; he just sat watching Gaeta and Hera. Sarah watched them, too. Finally, when the silence grew too much for her, she sighed. "How does he know what to do with her?" she asked.

"Hmm?"

"I can't even really speak to her. All that cooing and baby talk… it's stupid."

"He's not using baby talk. He's just changing his voice and using simpler words."

"Did you know what to do with your kids when they were born?"

"Sure. The manual they came with told me everything," he said sarcastically. He looked at her again, and there must have been something in her face, something of the terror she felt every time she looked at Hera. "No one knows what they're doing," he said. "Look. I've been through a lot, okay? We all have. And despite the frakking apocalypse your people reigned down on ours, the most terrifying moment of my life was when the nurse discharged my wife and my first son from the hospital. No more help, no more guidance… just boom. You're on your own. Bye, see you, good luck, keep the kid alive."

"Oh good God," Sarah said. At one time she might have laughed, but now the thought was overwhelming.

"Yeah. But the last time I saw him, he was seven and waving good-bye to me, with a grin on his face and a toy truck in his hand."

Sarah wiped irritably at her eyes. "It's just that," she began, and shook her head angrily. "It's just that, seeing Hera, it's real all of a sudden. I'm going to have a baby, and I don't know what the frak to do. Except for Hera, I've never even seen a living child up close. And I don't know what to do with her! I never have! When she was on the baseship, I just wanted to hand her back as fast as I could! What the frak am I going to do with a baby?"

"You're going to have it, you're going to love it, and you're going to learn more than you ever thought possible, and it will become second nature before you know it. You're going to spend the rest of your life in doubt, always worrying if you're doing the right thing. You're going to be convinced you're the biggest frak-up in the world. You're going to find your life invaded, you're going to find your world turned upside down, and you're going to swing wildly from wanting to kill it to worshipping it. Your life is never going to be the same, but you will manage. And you'll spend the rest of your life incomplete, because when you have a kid, it's like you walk around with your heart outside your body all the time."

The tears were flowing freely down her face now, and Sarah didn't even bother to check them. She looked at Brooks, but he was still staring forward, not looking at her. Her lips moved, but the words wouldn't come. No words would come, and it was okay because no words were sufficient. She reached out and put a hand on his arm.

Brooks looked back at her. She couldn't read his expression, aside from pain. So much pain, so much loss. He just stared at her.

"All the time we've been here," she finally managed to say, "you've never said. You could have… there must have been something…."

"What could I have done?" Brooks asked. "You're stronger than me- I couldn't beat you in a hand-to-hand fight. I have no weapon. And talking about it, even to make you understand…"

"Tears you apart," Sarah finished. "God."

"Yeah. Gods," Brooks said. He struggled to his feet. "I think I'm going to…" he shook his head, and then disappeared to the head. Sarah watched him go.

Like you walk around with your heart outside your body all the time. The words echoed in her mind, blazoned on her soul.

We should never be forgiven.

***

Brooks and Sarah were asleep, and Hera was huddled against Brooks. She still hadn't spoken in the hours that she'd been in here, but she at least attached herself to one of them. Felix took that as a good sign.

"It's really going to happen, Felix," Dee told him. "They'll come for you."

"Now that we have Hera here with us, huh?" Felix said. "Dee, what am I going to do when I get back to the Galactica?"

"What do you mean?" Dee asked, settling down next to him. "Is this about the lists?"

Felix shook his head. "That's not what I'm talking about," he said. "It's Adama. Adama, and Earth, and Tigh still being XO. Pushing Tom Zarek out of office, not having any sort of backup plan… forging an alliance with the Cylons…. And why now? Why is he coming now, after Hera's been taken? Why not as soon as he found out we were alive? I could forgive it before Ellen and Boomer left- he must have assumed we were dead. But if you're right…"

"Don't dwell on it," Dee advised. "He's not a god, Felix. He's just a man."

"And every time I look at him, I see you," Felix muttered.

Dee shook her head. "Get home first. The rest will take care of itself."

"What, it will all be all right?"

"No. But after he gets you off of here, it will counterbalance. You'll still see the bad, but you'll see the good you once saw, too. You'll see the truth of Bill Adama; all the highs and all the lows, all the things he can be, and all the depths he sinks to. You'll be able to follow him again, even if it's not like it was before."

"I hope so." But he looked at Sarah, curled on her side, and thought he might understand the Cylon alliance a little more than he did before. Desperate times and desperate measures- they were really trusting an Eight and a Four.

"He's coming for us," Felix whispered to himself. "We're going to make sure of it."

***

"All right," Sarah said, staring at the razor they'd taken from the bathroom. "Are we ready?"

Brooks crammed himself under the sink. "You're sure it's this cable?" he said, pointing to it.

"I'm positive." She looked out at the Four, who was standing outside the head. "A count of two hundred?"

"Two hundred. That will give me time to get out of here, get networked, and be ready." He glanced over his shoulder at the Centurion guards. "I've got them programmed not to report it, but we're still going to have to work fast, just in case."

Sarah glanced at Brooks, and then at Gaeta, who was watching with his hand on Hera's shoulder. "Well, we're ready," she said. "On three. One, two…."

"Three," they said together. The Four nodded, and then walked out.

Sarah began to count. It was easy, internal and sequential, as regular as heartbeats. When she got to fifty, she turned to the other two. "What are your messages?" she asked.

"'Tell Laird that he won seventeen cubits and a bung wrench off me in our last hand of Triad'," Brooks supplied.

Sarah nodded, and then looked at Gaeta expectantly. He sighed. "'Tell Louis 'you won the race, so the gods must exist'.'"

"That's…" Sarah made a face. "Not overly romantic."

"Well, private jokes often aren't. And it is, actually, because it's what I said right before we kissed for the first time." Gaeta flushed irritably. "It will work."

Sarah shook her head.

"What's the count?" Brooks asked.

"One fifty two," Sarah said. She could barely see Hera, only her shoulder and elbow as she sat quietly on the bed next to Gaeta. An awkward silence descended for a few seconds, and then Sarah picked up one of the razors. She took a deep breath and cut into her hand. It hurt, but she closed her eyes for a moment and projected Jesse, sitting on the floor and watching her with that warm smile that made her melt every time. It helped. The count was still going.

"One ninety seven, one ninety eight, one ninety nine… two hundred."

Brooks nicked the cable under the sink and handed it to her. Sarah inserted it into her hand, pushing it all the way up her arm. Jesse put a hand on her other arm, strengthening her.

Then she felt it, that connection.

It was strange to feel so outside of the data stream. None of the language of her sisters, or the grace notes of the Sixes, or the swirlings of the Twos. Just the hard metallic codes of Ones, the brightness of Fives, and the grounding of Fours.

And there it was. A Four came up, surrounding her signal, enrobing her with his code. It made her feel safe in a completely alien way.

Together they swam through the data stream. She instinctively knew where she was going, what she needed. A port, an exit, a springboard through space, communicating with the baseship light years away.

She transmitted.

We're alive on the Colony. In exactly forty eight hours, we will try to shut down the hybrids. Come then.

Tell Laird that he won seventeen cubits and a bung wrench off Brooks in our last hand of Triad. Tell Louis he won the race, so the gods must exist. Tell Jesse that I called the constellation The Great Dog, and he called it The Fruit Bowl. This is really us. We're here, we're alive, and Hera is with us.

Please. Come for us.

The message formed, a glowing ball of light, and then she saw it hurtling away from her, speeding through space like a comet. She watched it for a minute, and then felt a firm prodding.

Disconnect.

She pulled the cable out of her arm. The pain almost made her scream, and she bit down on it. She returned back to the pulsing walls of their cell and their head, Brooks watching her anxiously. Jesse was gone.

"You okay?" Brooks said.

Sarah took a deep breath, and then smiled. "Yeah," she realized. The pain was already fading. "The message was sent. In forty eight hours, we'll see if they come for us."

"From your mouth to Poseidon's ears," Brooks muttered, and Sarah couldn't help but smile at him.

Chapter Text

Laura Roslin's funeral was one of the more modest that Gaius had been to. A small, dark room, intimate, and the press corps being quiet and discreet for a change. He stood in the back, for once trying not to draw attention to himself. He didn't trust Adama not to throw him out if he realized that Gaius was here..

This must have been the kind of funeral Laura wanted. Gaius would have thought a state funeral, with flags and songs and the works. But then, Laura Roslin had always considered herself a woman of the people.

Did any image get through to you on the rare occasion when you ventured out from behind your sandbags and your razor wire to see what was happening to your people?! Your people!

His people. Gaius looked around the room, and realized that at one time, every one of these souls were what Laura would have called "his people."

He tried to remember New Caprica, but so much of it was a blur. A blur filled with fear and loathing and pain and hate, and yes, booze and alcohol and denial. He had vague recollections of walking through the streets, always keeping his eyes forward, never looking to the sides. He remembered walking by the detention center and telling himself it was largely empty, even when deep down he knew the truth.

When all was said and done, Gaius realized there were only three truly vivid memories he had of the New Caprica occupation: signing the death list, getting Laura Roslin out of prison, and Felix Gaeta's face when he aimed the gun at Gaius. Three times he'd tried to do the right thing, and two of them he'd failed miserably.

Gaius stood quietly in the back, tears streaking his face. Anyone might believe that he was mourning Laura Roslin, but as he watched them fold the flag that had lain over the President of the Colonies, he knew he was really mourning the best within himself.

***

"I don't see Tom Zarek," Ellen whispered to Saul.

Saul glanced at Bill before answering. "He's still in the hack. The Old Man doesn't trust him not to use Roslin's funeral as a political platform."

"It seems a little callous."

"Yeah, well, if he hadn't practically turned Gaeta's eulogy into an election speech, maybe he'd be here," Saul said, although he doubted it. "He doesn't know yet. We'll send someone down to tell him after."

Ellen made a face, but didn't press the issue.

It was a fair point, though. The only reason the damned press corps was being so quiet was because it would be too rude even for vultures to be making some sort of scene in the middle of a funeral. Saul figured Bill had twenty four hours, at the most, and then they'd be howling at his door.

The soldiers finished folding the Colonial Flag. They stopped, saluted, and then one stepped forward, formally presenting the flag to Bill. Bill accepted it and saluted the soldier, who kept his face carefully expressionless. Next to him, even Ellen sniffled.

He looked around at the faces of the people who'd gathered to mourn Laura Roslin. They looked tired, hopeless, and sad, but Saul understood that well enough. What bothered him was the shiver of a reminder that there were people who should have been here that weren't. Billy Keikeya, to start. The kid should have outlived Roslin by decades. Tory Foster. He could almost see her standing on Bill's other side, her face stern and professional and fooling absolutely no one about how much this would hurt her. Dee. Dee'd been a damned good girl, and she would have been there supporting Bill, as well as her husband. Duck, who'd died to end New Caprica. Soldiers that had died in the initial attacks, soldiers who had died along the way, every member of the Fleet that had lost their lives during Roslin's presidency. Saul hadn't always thought the best of Laura Roslin, but he never doubted that she would have died willingly if she thought that she could bring them back.

The lights flickered, peppering the priest's speech with murmurs of worry.

But her last request to Bill had been that he save the hostages on the Colony. She could have asked Bill for anything, and she asked for the lives of a Cylon, a hybrid child, a deck mechanic, and a crippled officer. It was a noble gesture, and it didn't surprise Saul at all.

Now if they only had the first idea of how to go about filling Laura Roslin's final request.

***

"Louis! Louis, wake up!"

He flailed, nearly hitting his assailant across the mouth. He jerked to sitting, and slowly, the room began to resolve from a red-tinted nightmare to a dark jail cell, and the person standing over his bed was Zarek, not Gage. "What the frak?" he demanded.

"You were screaming," Zarek said, backing off even further. "Loudly enough that the guards came running."

Louis glanced over, and there they were, two Marines who were watching them, poised for action. He shook his head and lay back down on the cot, rubbing his eyes. "He's not attacking me," he told them wearily. "He's not that kind of terrorist." Zarek snorted, and the Marines returned to their posts. Louis sighed. "Thanks for waking me, I guess," he said, rubbing idly at his wrists.

"Not a problem. Believe me, I was awake."

"Sorry." Louis didn't want to flush, but he did.

"You talk in your sleep, you know."

"I've been told."

"Mmm." An uncomfortable silence hung between them. "Well, goodnight."

"Yeah. Goodnight." He heard Zarek settling back down on his cot, the rustle of blankets and the squeaking of springs.

He folded his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. So much for sleeping tonight. And when he looked over at the other cot, much, much later, he realized that Zarek wasn't sleeping either.

***

The hangar deck was empty. The pyramid tournament had ended a few days ago, but whenever Sam had a spare hour or two, he found himself down here. It was quiet now, with just the ball echoing as he threw it against the wall.

He'd regained a handful of memories, each one shining in his head like a sparkling jewel. But at the same time, so many of them had no consequence.

"I don't even remember meeting Kara the first time," he said out loud. "I don't remember getting married. I don't remember creating the Cylons, except a vague memory that maybe there was something important to me about the Eights. But I remember the first time I flew and I remember getting in trouble for not handing in my homework in ninth grade."

He remembered other things, too. Things that hurt, that melded together sometimes. Jean, and long nights drinking and laughing with her. Had he had a friend like her back on Earth, or was he just imagining that because he'd loved Jean so much? Kara in bed on New Caprica, shrieking with laughter as he tickled her under the covers. Wasn't that a game they used to play before? Or was it easy to think that because most couples did? Pyramid was such a part of him, and so was music, apparently. Had he played a guitar that night on Caprica? Or was it a memory hidden deep within his recesses about Earth? It all made his head spin.

He focused on the ball. Back and forth, back and forth. His body settled into a rhythm, perfect in its own way. The ball pounded out a tempo.

In his mind, he heard chords.

"There must be someway out of here," said the joker to the thief…

"Look, we've found a planet already," Tory said, her arms crossed. "We shouldn't get involved. Let's just get where we were going. There are only six of us. What could we really do? Do you really think we can end this war on our own?"

"I do," Ellen insisted. She was standing in the control room, her hand in the liquid, obviously concentrating. "We won't be able to convince the humans, but we can convince the Cylons. We can break the cycle this time."

"By raising the technological level of the Cylons?" Tory demanded. "It's not a good idea. It's when you raise the sentience that technology has the ability to turn. Giving the Cylons the keys to evolution and resurrection will only be a temporary solution, and in the end it's only going to pour oil onto a fire. I have to object."

"You can object all you want, but the rest of us are in agreement," Ellen said coolly.

Sam looked down at his own work. Their little ship was blossoming, the added elements almost growing by themselves. Despite the argument between the two women, he felt a sense of peace here, radiating from his ship and this construction.

He delved deeper into the data stream, and he checked…

Sam dropped the ball.

He checked the coordinates. "That's it," he told Kara. "This is where we're staying. It's a good spot; once the war ends the Cylons will be plenty far from the Colonies. But we need to disable the FTL drive and the engines if we plan to continue the expansion of the ship. Any objections?"

And just like that, they were unlocked, there in his mind. And now that he'd seen those numbers, he couldn't forget them.

He scooped up his ball and began to run. He ran out of the hangar bay and through the corridors, pushing people aside. The bar. They were probably in the bar- where else would the Tighs be when they weren't working?

He rounded the corner and burst in, and there they were. Saul looked up, his eyebrows shooting up at Sam's breathlessness. Ellen just rolled her eyes.

"What is it, Sam?"

"I remembered. I remembered we had found a habitable planet-"

"I already remembered that much, doofus," Ellen said affectionately, "but none of you remember where it is, and I was never much for celestial navigation. If we could find it, we could find a home for all of us, but…" she shrugged, and tossed back her drink. Then her eyes widened. "Wait. Is that what you remembered? Where home is?"

"I don't remember where home is," Sam said regretfully, and then smiled. "But I do remember where we parked the car."

***

"You're going to have to release Zarek, and soon," Lee told his father as they sat in the Admiral's study. "The only reason that the Quorum hasn't been down your throat about it is that they're being respectful of your grief."

"I know."

"You know about the Quorum? Or you know about Zarek?" Bill tapped a pen against the desk, not answering. Lee sighed. "What is it?"

"We're mounting a search and rescue mission," Bill said. "For the hostages on the Colony."

"You're kidding," Lee said.

"I'm not."

"It's a suicide mission," Lee protested. His father grunted acknowledgement. Lee stared at him, baffled. "Why? And why now? Why not just send Helo and Sharon after Hera?"

"Galactica's dying."

"You can't be serious," Lee said, his heart sinking. Bill looked up at him, that I'm not joking look Lee knew well. He sat down slowly. "You are serious. How long does she have?"

"Laird says a few more jumps. That's it. She won't be able to continue to protect the Fleet. If she's gotta go, let's see what we can take down with her."

Lee opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out. There was no argument he could give… no argument he wanted to give. He cleared his throat.

'What?"

"Nothing. It's just…" Lee leaned forward and picked up a paperweight, playing with it in his hands and staring at it like it was the most fascinating thing in the universe. "If she was still alive, Dee would be proud of you."

His father winced, but the lines around his eyes softened.

Lee sighed. "You're going to need officers," he said. "We seem to be getting short on those, especially those with tactical training."

"I know."

"Is Kara coming with you?"

"I haven't asked her yet. This mission will be volunteer only."

"She'll come with you," Lee said. He was sure of that. "But that's not really enough, is it? Lieutenant Thornton doesn't come up with tactics quickly enough, and Lieutenant Conoy is too green to voice a real opinion. Lieutenant Hoshi is far too cautious, and Helo's judgment is compromised. Colonel Tigh has never been a tactical genius. You're going to need all the help you can get."

"We will."

"Well, then." Lee put the paperweight down definitively and stood up. "If you're accepting applications from politicians looking to rejoin the Colonial Fleet…"

"Damn you, Lee…"

"You've made your choice, Dad. Let me make mine."

His father stared at him for a long time, and then stood up and came around the desk and embraced him. "Thank you, Lee," he whispered. He stepped back, and then saluted. "Welcome back, Major Adama."

***

Louis sat on the floor, reworking the equations for the fourth time, because there was nothing else to do in the cell. He had one leg extended and the other knee drawn up against his chest, chin not quite able to rest on it. He watched his pencil scratch over the paper, the numbers and symbols flowing from it as if they appeared on their own.

He snapped his head up suddenly. "Would you stop that?" he demanded.

Zarek raised his eyebrows. "Stop what?" he asked mildly.

"Watching me like that."

Zarek shrugged. "Not much else to do in here. Which is why you've done those calculations four times, by my count. Frak, I can almost make sense of them by now, and that's saying something. Math was never my strong suit."

"Yes. Well, it keeps me busy."

"And you're calmer when you work with numbers, aren't you?" Zarek said, sitting back. "Felix was- excuse me, is- like that as well."

Louis glared at him. "I know," he said flatly. He tried to turn back to the equations, but he could still feel Zarek's eyes on him. "I said stop it."

Zarek didn't look away. Instead, he put his feet up on his cot and leaned back, arms behind his head. "You talk in your sleep."

"You told me that last night," Louis snarled. "I can't imagine it's the most exciting of conversations."

"Edifying, however."

"Mmm."

"Knew a guy in prison who used to have nightmares like you have."

"Great. Give me his name and number and we'll set up a sleep depravation support group."

"Funny," Zarek said, his lips quirking up in a brief smile. But the smile faded fast. "You see a lot in prison, you know."

"I imagine so."

"You live a lot in prison, too." Louis looked sharply at Zarek and his eyes narrowed, but Zarek wasn't thrown by his scrutiny. "It's the darkest place I've ever known. You see things… things that-"

He was cut off by the hatch opening up, and both of them jumped. Louis didn't know who he was expecting, but he was pretty sure he wasn't expecting the person who walked through the door.

"Ten minutes," the guard told Racetrack. "That's all."

"All right," Racetrack said. She moved quickly to the cell, and Zarek immediately got off his cot. Louis tensed, but she didn't even look at him.

"Hey," she said. "You okay?"

"I'm fine," he said. "I told you not to come down here anymore," he said, but his voice was almost gentle.

"I had to," Racetrack said. "There's news." Louis looked up, interested in spite of himself.

"What is it?" Zarek asked.

Racetrack took a deep breath, and then reached through the bar and touched Zarek's hand. "It's Laura Roslin," she finally said, and when the words came out, they were in a rush. "She died night before last."

To Louis's surprise, Zarek paled. "What?" he asked. "What happened?"

"It was the cancer," Racetrack said. She wasn't tearing up, but she was clearly disturbed by the news. "They've already had the funeral."

Zarek jerked forward. "What?" He shook his head, falling back. "It doesn't… thank you."

"I thought someone should tell you…" Racetrack said, and she was oddly pale as her eyes searched his face. Louis cocked his head, studying her. "I know it shouldn't have been me, but…."

"Thank you," Zarek repeated, this time more firmly. "Is there anything else?"

Racetrack nodded. "There's word going around about a mission to rescue the people on the Colony."

"What?" Louis jumped to his feet. "They're really going to go?"

Racetrack nodded. "It's volunteer only. Scuttlebutt is that the brass doesn't expect the mission to succeed, but they're going to try."

Louis's heart was pounding so hard that he had to sit down, and it felt like a ray of sunshine was starting to break through the clouds. "We're really going," he said. "It's really going to happen."

Racetrack shrugged. "It's a suicide mission," she repeated. "Mr. Vice President, are you all right?"

"I'm fine. Is there anything else?"

"No. If you want, I can…"

"I think that would be best." Zarek was retreating to his cot. "Take care of yourself, Margaret."

"You too," she said softly. She touched his hand once more, and then left. Zarek sat down, still extremely pale.

Felix wouldn't have been surprised, Louis told himself. Felix had always told him that Zarek was far more human than Adama ever wanted to admit. Louis had never quite believed it either, but as he watched the Vice President drop his head into his hands, his shoulders shaking as he mourned Laura Roslin, Louis suddenly realized that Felix was exactly right.

***

Lee cleared his throat. It was getting easier to be on the Cylon baseship, but it still struck him as strange. Especially since there were a total of three faces in his audience, even though there were a good forty or fifty Cylons listening. And it was odd to be here again in uniform.

"I know that there has been talk of a rescue mission for those who went missing on Raptor 718, as well as for Hera Agathon. The Galactica is also planning on launching a rescue mission. I would ask that we coordinate our efforts," he told them. "However, the odds of success are incredibly slim. Truthfully, this is a suicide mission. It's not certain death, but it's the next best thing. It will be a strictly volunteer mission" The Cylons all looked at each other and murmured. "The baseship," Lee continued, "will remain with the Fleet. It will protect the survivors. Although your ship has sustained quite a bit of damage, I understand it will repair, given time. The Galactica will not. This… this is her final mission."

Sonja was standing next to him, and she placed a sympathetic hand on his arm. Lee managed to avoid shaking it off. It was his father who would suffer from this loss, not him. He'd survive.

A Two raised his hand. "What about a new President?" he asked. "It's been twenty-four hours since Laura Roslin's death, and there's been no talk of-"

"There will be a new President," Lee overrode him. "I can promise you that. But right now, we're just trying to get this mission organized."

"Will civilian members of the Fleet be given the option to go?" an Eight asked.

"If they aren't already on Galactica, most likely not," Lee said. "I know that this is really choosing our own fate, our own death… but at the same time, if this mission can succeed, it must have every chance. And there's always the possibility that the Fleet will find-"

"Sonja," a Six shouted. "Get over here. Right now."

The entire assembly turned as Sonja hurried down off the dais. She slid her hand into the liquid, and Lee realized from her expression that she was sifting through the data. Then her eyes widened, and she gasped. "Get the Admiral on the line right now," she said. "Oh, my God." She gestured to an Eight and to a Two. "Verify it."

The Eight's eyes widened. "That… yes. I would believe that's Sarah, if those codes can be confirmed."

The Two nodded. "She's got a Four working with her, but the message appears valid," he agreed.

"What's going on?" Lee asked.

Sonja's eyes were shining, and her smile was radiant. "Our chances just increased a million-fold, Major," she said. "It's a message from the prisoners on the Colony. In a little over forty seven hours, they're going to shut down the hybrid to the Colony. If they can do that, and if they can convince the hybrid to shut down the others, they will temporarily disable all of the baseships and the Raiders."

Lee nearly choked. "Heck with getting him on the line. Sonja, let's get over to the Galactica. This we need to tell the Admiral in person."

***

"You've cleared the message with Laird and Hoshi?" Bill asked for the third time as they walked through the memorial hallway.

Saul nodded. "Both of 'em knew exactly what I was talking about, right away. I think we're dealing with the real thing, Bill."

"But if we're not…"

"We were gonna go anyway. If we are, this just made our chances a lot better. If we're not… well, we all know what end is coming."

"Right." Bill looked at the walls. So many of the pictures were gone, taken by people who'd heard the news and were leaving and couldn't bear to leave their loved ones here. "Somehow, this makes it realer than anything else," he said. He stopped by Laura's picture. People had left it up, waiting for him, most likely. He considered, pulled it down and slipped it into his pocket. Saul watched with a respectful silence. "The only thing that ever could hurt more than losing her…"

"Is losing Galactica," Saul finished. He clapped Bill on the shoulder. "At least we're sending the girl out in style."

Bill smiled, and Saul couldn't help feeling the same way, like his own heart was breaking.

***

The entire crew of the Galactica was in the hangar deck. Even a few civilians had wandered in. Louis hesitated for just a second, and then squared his shoulders and walked in. Zarek kept pace with him.

"Do you know what you're going to do?" he asked Louis.

"Was there ever any doubt?" Louis retorted. "What about you?"

"Never was afraid to die for what I believe in," Zarek said easily. Louis snorted, but he also couldn't argue with the statement.

At least they'd brought down his uniform. He felt naked without the rank insignias, but it felt good to have the duty blues back on. He spotted Jesse and headed over to him.

"You're out," Jesse said, smiling. Louis smiled back.

"If you can call it-" Louis began, but Adama climbed the ladder to the platform, and the entire hangar deck fell silent.

"Before she died," Adama began, "Laura Roslin told me that it's easier to have the people that we've failed far away from us, so we don't have to look at them and be reminded of our failures. She was right. Over these past months, while many of you have struggled on to find your way in a time without hope and without definable purpose, I have floundered and hidden. I've found my refuge, my solace, and my hiding place, but it has been at the expense of those to whom I swore a duty, and who had the right to expect more from someone who wears the stars of an Admiral.

"I have failed. Not because of the state of Earth, but because it never should have been our sole hope. It never should have been a solitary beacon, so that when it was crushed, we were left in darkness. I wanted to keep you all- all of you- away from me so I wouldn't have to face it. And in doing so, I only failed you more.

"That ends right now."

Louis tried to deny that he felt a shiver on the back of his neck at the Admiral's words.

"As you all know," Adama continued, "a child has been taken from this ship. And before that, we had five of our people taken as well, three of whom we believe to still be alive. We are launching a rescue operation. This operation will be on a volunteer basis only."

A murmur rose up through the crowd, but it died down as Adama looked out over them all.

"Let there be no illusions! This is likely to be a one-way trip. So don't volunteer out of sentiment or emotion. There is a line running down this deck." Everyone moved off it, staring down. "Volunteers, move to the starboard side! Everyone else to the port. Make your choice.…"

Louis was already on the starboard side. He wasn't moving. And neither did Jesse. They exchanged a glance of perfect understanding.

On the other side of Louis, Tom Zarek inhaled. It wasn't nerves, it was pride. Louis had never had any doubts about that one, either.

There were lots of people he never doubted would come. Helo and Athena. Starbuck. Sam Anders. The Tighs. Galen Tyrol. Lee Adama. Hot Dog and Stinger, Showboat and Twofer. The diehards, the true believers.

But others surprised him. Racetrack stepped over to their side defiantly, her chin thrust out and her arms crossed, a little smile playing at the edge of her lips. She came and stood next to Zarek, and he smiled at her. Chief Laird ambled across, but even though his gait was slow, his eyes were determined and focused. Caprica Six came towards them, graceful and steely.

And Gaius Baltar.

Everyone had chosen their sides. Louis was thinking that he couldn't decide if it was amazing that so few crewmen volunteered, or amazing that so many of them were willing to embrace death, when Gaius Baltar took a step out of the port crowd. He hesitated, and down the line Louis happened to see Caprica Six catch her breath.

The Gaius Baltar that Louis had always known would take a step back, back to the safety of the port side of the line. The Gaius Baltar that Felix had always believed in would take a step over, to the danger of the starboard side.

We race. If you win, it's because the gods exist… if he steps across the line, it's because the gods exist and they're making him. If he steps back, it's because the gods don't and he is Gaius Baltar.

The world held its breath, and Gaius Baltar stepped over the line to the starboard side.

"Well," Zarek said, so softly that only Louis and Racetrack could hear him, "frak me."

Adama didn't comment. He only looked out over the crew and nodded. "Today, even if we are defeated, we do not fail. Because today, we will fight. So say we all."

***

"Very inspiring, sir," Kara said. There was only a hint of a smirk at the corners of her mouth, and Bill suspected it was from habit, not from any sort of disdain. He smiled.

"Get them organized," he said. "Anyone not going is off the ship in two hours. Send Racetrack and Skulls to the coordinates Anders gave us for recon."

"Yes, sir." Kara saluted and then turned away smartly.

Saul took a deep breath. "You're sure about this, Bill?"

"Of course not. Let's go before I change my mind."

Neither Louis Hoshi nor Tom Zarek had moved much from where they'd stood in the front row. Bill strode towards them, removing the Admiral's pins from his collar as he walked. "He won't like it," Saul tried one more time.

"I don't expect him to," Bill responded.

"You've had him in the brig for the past few days-"

Bill looked at him. "If I'd told you this before all that happened, what would you have said?"

"Hoshi's the right one for the job," Saul sighed.

"What he did, he did for the right reasons. He's still the right one for the job." They stopped. "Mr. Hoshi."

"Admiral."

"Admiral," Bill repeated, his voice rusty. "You know, Mr. Hoshi, that we must behave as if this is a one way mission."

Hoshi lifted his chin defiantly. "I know, sir. I'm ready."

"You're not going." Hoshi opened his mouth to argue, but Bill overrode him. "I need someone to lead this Fleet whose leadership I trust, who demands universal respect. So the baseship and the Fleet are yours." He extended the stars. From the corner of his eye, he saw Zarek raise his eyebrows.

Hoshi didn't take them. "Sir," he said stiffly, "this mission… it's for Felix. Maybe not entirely for him, but you're going after…" he shook his head. "I can't not go."

Bill took a deep breath. "We talk a lot about the ultimate sacrifice," he said slowly. "Dying to protect our people, to protect our way of life, to protect our oath. And I don't think for one moment you wouldn't honor that without flinching. But the ultimate sacrifice isn't always death. You are a senior officer, capable of command, tapped by Admiral Cain. You are trusted by the humans and you are trusted by the Cylons. You have held yourself together in situations I can't even begin to contemplate. The sacrifice demanded of you, Admiral Hoshi, isn't death. It's that you live your life and live your oath, and protect those that need it." Hoshi closed his eyes for a long moment, and then extended his hand. Bill dropped the stars into it, and then saluted. "Good luck, Admiral."

Hoshi saluted back.

Bill turned abruptly. "Come with me," he ordered Zarek.

"Where?" Zarek asked.

"The airlock," Bill muttered, and then sighed. "Believe me when I tell you this is the most painful thing I've had to do all day." He led Zarek over to where a priest was waiting, Lee standing beside him. "All right," he said before Zarek could react. "Let's get this over with."

"A little more ceremony-" Lee began.

"There isn't time for a little more ceremony," Bill interrupted, not looking at Zarek. "Swear him in," he ordered the priest.

Zarek, Bill noticed, might have been surprised, but he wasted no time in arguing. The priest began the words, and Bill had to step back, repulsed by the scene before him.

"He won't make a bad President," Lee said quietly. "We could do worse."

"He's going to make Hoshi's life a living hell," Bill muttered.

Lee studied Zarek, who now had his hand on the Scrolls and his left hand raised as he took the oath of office. "He might not," he said slowly. "Miracles seem to be happening, after all."

Bill looked at Lee beside him, back in uniform, and nodded. "Yeah," he agreed. "They do."

***

"So," Jesse said, as Louis watched the organized commotion of people leaving the Galactica for the last time. "Admiral."

"Yes," he said. Louis swallowed, and turned to face him. "Jesse…"

"I'll bring him home."

"I know. But I'm going to ask you not to."

Jesse's brows furrowed. "What?"

Louis took a deep breath. "Part of the reason that Adama gave me this job is because the Cylons trust me," he said. "But it's not me they trust, it's you. You and I… we trust each other. I know it's only been a few months, but you've been the best friend I've had outside of Felix since… I don't know. Maybe since the Colonies were destroyed, maybe since I joined the military, maybe ever."

Jesse looked away. He already knew what was coming, and it hurt to ask.

"I know I could order you, but I don't want to. If you really feel that you must go after Sarah, that your soul will give you no other option… then I won't stop you, even though I want to. But I'm asking you to do this with me, Jesse. Protect our people, protect our oath. Please." I can't do it without you.

There were tears that Jesse wasn't crying; Louis felt them echoed in the clogging of his throat. But after a long moment, Jesse looked back and saluted. "I'll come with you, Admiral," he said.

Louis barely resisted hugging him. "Welcome aboard, Colonel."

***

Zarek got on the Raptor first; Bill wasn't imagining that Hoshi and Conoy were lingering, both loath to leave the ship and this mission. He couldn't blame them. We'll bring them back, he promised the two men silently. Gods know what will happen then, but we'll bring them back.

He approached them both. Hoshi turned, automatically saluting. Bill smiled.

"Not sure you're technically supposed to do that," he said.

"Not sure it matters," Hoshi said. It wasn't said with the tone of respect that Bill never realized he was used to until now, but Hoshi wasn't glaring daggers at him, either, like he had been since he'd first found out that Gaeta was alive. Bill decided not to dwell on it.

"Twelve hours," he said. "If we haven't shown up in twelve hours, we're not coming at all."

"Yes, sir."

Bill extended his hand, and after the slightest hesitation Hoshi took it. "Good luck, Admiral," he said. He turned to Conoy. "Colonel?" he asked, even though Conoy still wore lieutenant pins.

"Yes, sir."

"That's no less than I expected," Bill said. If Hoshi hadn't chosen Conoy as his XO, Bill would have regretted his decision immensely. "It's been an honor to serve with you, Colonel Conoy."

"Likewise, Admiral Adama."

Bill nodded, and then looked pointedly at the Raptor. When they were on, Bill heard his own voice echoing through the bay.

"Last Raptor out. The Admiral and XO of the Fleet, and the President of the Colonies." He saluted as the Raptor closed its doors, and then began its taxi. He turned, ready to head back to the war room. "Anyone left, your ass belongs to us."

And in the corner, he saw Gaius Baltar cowering. Great.

***

"We've got the recon from Racetrack and Skulls," the Admiral said. Well, the former Admiral, but there was no point in thinking otherwise, Galen realized. "The best we can figure and from what Ellen can remember, the prisoners are going to be deep within the Colony."

"If they're still in their cell," an Eight pointed out. "If they're shutting down the hybrid, they won't be in a prison cell. They may be in two groups as well. Gaeta isn't going to be able to move quickly."

Tigh nodded, looking down at the photos and clearly trying to remember. "Our best bet is to come in right here," he said. "Ram right into the Colony, penetrate as deep as we can. Have our squads waiting in the launch tubes close to the bow, and once we know we've got a seal, send them into the Colony through the airlock. Keep a small core in the CIC. What have we got for Centurion support?"

"We've got seventy two Centurions," a Six said. "And you've got thirty seven Marines?"

"Yeah." Tigh sighed. "Not a lot to work with."

"Well, no use bemoaning what we don't have," the Admiral said. He looked at the Six. She was dressed for combat already. "Sergeant Major, you and your Gunnery Sergeant," he glanced at the Eight, "discuss the details of the ground forces with our Marines. We'll break into four squadrons. Three squadrons will go in after the prisoners, and the fourth will cover the launch tube."

"Yes, sir." The Six nodded to the Eight, and they left the room.

"If I remember the Colony setup right," Ellen said, "there are five hybrids. I think our cell was on this side, although I'm not sure. The hybrids are located down in the underbelly of the ship." She chewed her lip. "The Eight was right about Gaeta slowing them up."

"We'll do what we can."

"There's something else we need to think about as well," Galen heard himself saying.

Adama looked up. "What's that, Mr. Tyrol?"

"If we're inside the Colony, this is a chance to end Cavil's threat once and for all. Or at least severely diminish it. We might not survive, but it would give the Fleet a chance."

There was a beat of silence, and Adama leaned forward. "I'm listening."

"How are we doing on nuclear weapons?" Galen asked.

Ellen caught it first; he heard her sharp intake of breath. "Frak me," Tigh said, just a beat after his wife's realization. Galen couldn't look at them, only at the recon photos.

"Look. We take one group deep into the belly of the ship, as deep as we can go. We give them as much time as we can to get in there, but not too much that they'll get caught." He stared at the Colony, wishing her could remember it at all. "And then we blow it."

"Someone would have to stay with the nuke," Tigh said slowly. "I wouldn't trust a radio trigger in this case, and can't use a timer. Likely to blow us all up seconds before we jump away. Not to mention if the Cylons find it-"

Galen swallowed. "Yeah. I'd do that."

"Galen-" Ellen began.

Galen shook his head. "Look, we started this. We created them. And yeah, we gave them free will, but we never gave them any guidance. We never took any responsibility. Tory-" he felt a powerful flash, and he knew he was saying the truth, "Tory wanted us to keep out of the whole thing, and maybe she was right. Maybe she always has been, that we meddled with something we couldn't control, and we just brought the same frakking thing we suffered onto the humans because we couldn't learn."

No one argued that statement. Galen turned to Adama.

"Sir, if you're willing, I will take a nuke into the ship. I will detonate it. I will do everything in my power to bring this about, provided you give me the firepower to get down there."

Adama nodded. "Done."

Kara cleared her throat. "I'll take you in there," she said. "My squad." She looked at Adama. "I am leading a squad, right?"

He gave the barest of smiles. "Of course." His brow furrowed in thought, and he looked at Galen again. "Go find Baltar. See if he can rig up a device that's a little more portable in the time that we have."

Galen nodded and saluted, and then left the room. For the first time since Boomer had stolen Hera, he felt like things were falling back into the right places.

***

"You're asking me to essentially make a nuclear bomb in under two hours," Gaius said incredulously.

Tyrol looked at his watch. "An hour and a half. Yeah."

"You're insane."

"Can you do it?"

Gaius sighed. "No. The best I can do under such circumstances is tell you what parts of a missile aren't necessary to take with you, and you already know that. And you were really a brilliant scientist back on Earth?"

"So I've been told," Tyrol said. "Does boggle the mind a bit, doesn't it?"

"Yes, well. Good luck with that." Gaius moved away, leaving Tyrol stare at the nuclear missile. But there was no way Tyrol was going to figure it out- it was all going to be left to him. Gaius sighed, and figured he should find the tools he needed.

At that point, he became aware that Caprica Six was watching him.

She was wearing her Marine uniform, or parts of it, anyway. And she was staring at him like she'd never seen him before.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing," she said. "It's just that I never expected you of all people to stay. There's nothing in this for you, and you know we're going to die."

"Yes, well." Gaius took her by the upper arm and pulled her away, out of the flow of work and conversation on the hangar deck. "You were wrong."

"About dying?"

"About me."

"I might almost believe that. But I still can't work out the catch. There must be something that Gaius Baltar wants out of this mission." Her eyes narrowed. "And I can't help but believe that the answer is either Hera Agathon or Felix Gaeta."

"And why would I want either of those?" he asked, more to hear her answer than because he didn't know.

"Hera to save the future. Gaeta to salvage the past."

She knew him. She always had, from the very beginnings on Caprica, years ago. He stared at her, standing so beautiful and sure and lovely, and he couldn't deny her the truth that she already guessed.

"You would be the only other person to know," he admitted. "I owe a debt."

Her brows furrowed. "A debt?"

"He spared my life, on the day of the Exodus. He told me I had one chance to put things right. I never did, did I? I never…" Gaius shook his head. "I still don't, I carry no illusions about myself. But God is giving me this once chance to put things right with him, and unless I'm greatly misreading the situation, to put things right with you."

"So you're going on a suicide mission in an attempt to impress me?" she asked incredulously. "You only think you've changed." She began to walk away.

"What more do I have to do?" he called after her. "I'm willing to die to prove that I've changed. Do you hear that? I'm willing to die!"

He thought she slowed down, but he couldn't be sure. Instead, she just continued walking, without looking back.

"She'll come around," the Six in his head said, smiling. "When she sees how you've followed the plan that God has laid out for you and for her, she'll come around."

"I really am willing to die, you know," Gaius told the Six. "I wasn't joking about that."

"We'll see," the Six said. "When the reckoning comes, we'll know what to believe then."

***

Sam found her loading her guns. "Kara."

"Sam." When she looked up, he was reminded of their time together on Caprica. All the strength, all the defiance… all the life he'd seen in her then was coming back to her. And yet, she still didn't really smile at him.

"I'm coming with you," he told her.

"Sam, no. I'm leading the squad with Lee." He snorted, and she gave him an exasperated glare. "It's not like that," she said. "It's a matter of life and death, and it's a matter of me working well with Lee."

He couldn't deny that. Nothing could stop the team of Starbuck and Apollo, nothing short of God himself. But Sam just shook his head. "I'm coming with you anyway," he said.

"Galen?" she asked.

"Partly." He took the gun from her hands and set it aside, and then grabbed her hands and pulled her to her feet. "Galen's right, Kara. What we did-"

"I don't even remember doing it!" Kara protested.

"Neither do I. But that doesn't change the fact we did. It needs to be controlled. And Galen was always the type to step up to that," he said. He blinked as a memory threatened to whisper across his mind again, and then shook his head.

"So it's all about Galen."

"No." He drew her into his arms and kissed her, hard. Kara let him, even kissed him back, but her arms didn't circle his neck and she didn't cling to him afterwards. He smiled at her… he'd already known. "But if we're going to die, I want to die with you."

"Whatever," Kara said, her voice shaking even as she affected indifference. "We're stationed at the starboard port. Be there when we hit."

"I will be." Satisfied, he headed for the hatch.

"Sam?"

He stopped and turned. "Yes, Kara?"

"Were we happy, do you think? Before? On Earth?"

"Cavil managed to change our memories," Sam said slowly, "but not who we are. What do you think?"

Kara shrugged. "I don't know."

"Yeah. Neither do I. See you in a few hours." He stepped out the hatch.

***

"Are we ready?" Bill asked Saul.

Saul nodded. "As ready as we'll ever be." He glanced at his watch. "We've got two hours before they shut down the hybrids on the Colony."

"Right." Bill studied Saul carefully. "Are you okay with this? Tyrol's idea, I mean?"

"Yeah," Saul said, wiping his brow. "It's the right thing to do, Bill. We all know that."

"I know. But the right thing isn't always easy."

"Never expected it would be." Saul smiled and clapped Bill on the shoulder. "Two hours. I think we have time for one last drink."

Bill grinned. "I agree." He poured them both a brandy, and they sat down. "To the Galactica."

"To the Galactica," Saul echoed.

They drank.

Chapter Text

They sat in the cell for what they all hoped would be the last time, tossing the sock ball from Sarah to Brooks to Felix to Hera. Their rhythm was slower with Hera and they'd given up counting how many tosses they could make before someone dropped the ball, but it was all they could think to do as the hours crawled by.

"A drill sergeant had just chewed out one of his cadets, and as he was walking away, he turned to the cadet and said, "I guess when I die you'll come and dance on my grave."

The cadet replied, "Not me, Sarge...no sir! I promised myself that when I got out of the Fleet I'd never stand in another line!" Felix tossed the ball to Sarah.

Brooks snorted. "That's dumb."

"Yeah, well, all my good jokes aren't exactly appropriate for little ears," Felix said, nodding towards Hera. He looked at Sarah. "Do Cylons have jokes?"

"No. We're humorless killing machines, programmed solely to rain destruction down on your people," Sarah said sarcastically.

"I think that was a joke," Brooks put in.

Sarah tried to bean him in the head with the sockball, but Brooks caught it deftly. "You tell one then, if you're such a comedian."

"Didn't say I was," Brooks said. "But stop me if you've heard this one before. A monotheist, a polytheist, an agnostic, and the shape of things to come all walk into a bar…."

For some reason, that made Felix laugh. Even Sarah snorted, and Hera looked up with a smile, even though he was pretty sure that she didn't have the first idea what Brooks was talking about.

They heard footsteps, and Brooks hesitated in his throw. Sarah got to her feet, and Felix reached for his prosthetic and began to put it on.

"It's time," Hera said. "Isn't it?"

"Yeah," Brooks told her. "It's time. Are you ready, Hera?"

Hera nodded. She seemed to reach for Felix first, but he looked pointedly at Brooks. He stepped in easily. "Hold my hand and stay with me, all right?"

The Four came in. He took two guns out from underneath his labcoat. He handed one to Sarah and one to Brooks. "It's not that I don't trust you with a gun," he told Felix. "I just don't think…"

"It's not like I've got my hands free," Felix agreed. He had gotten better on the prosthetic under the Four's care, but knew that the Four was right in his insistence that Felix continue to use crutches. "Just don't lose me," he said, half-joking and half serious. Now that they were on the cusp of this, his heart was in his throat and his hands were slick on his crutches. He swallowed hard.

If this works, you're going home, he reminded himself. If it works, you'll be with Louis. If it doesn't, you'll be with Dee. It will be all right.

"Right," he said, lifting his chin. "Let's go."

***

The Four had brought two extra Centurions with him, newly reprogrammed and loyal to him. Sarah would have felt more comfortable if he'd removed their inhibitors, but she supposed he truly did have a point. If they turned on him… without the Four, they were lost. The two Centurions that the Four had reprogrammed when they sent the message stayed to guard the cell, and the Four led them out into the corridors.

Sarah had grown used to the corridors between their cell and the Four's examination room, but she realized that the two were very close together. As they made their way through the labyrinth of the Colony, she began to understand that she had no real conception of the scope of the place. And yet… according to Ellen she'd been here before. She'd been here first- this was where she'd been made.

"I wish there was time to see more of it," she murmured as she fell into step beside the Four. "What's the rest of it like?"

The Four shrugged. "An older version of our baseships. Clunkier. More organic, and at the same time, more… metallic. The control room is something to see, I must admit."

"What about where they…"

'The lab? It's in ruins. Believe me, I looked. Nothing but broken glass, twisted metal and dust."

"I see," Sarah said, and it was like she'd heard a temple had been destroyed.

He heard her tone and raised his eyebrows. "I know."

She swallowed.

They heard the clank of Centurions in the hallway they were about to intersect. The Four held up his hand, and they all backed against a wall, their own Centurions moving to guard them. The contingent moved past, heavy and noisy, none of them glancing down the hallway where they waited. Sarah tried not to breathe.

When they were gone, the Four waved them all into motion again. "Come on," he whispered. "We have to hurry. It's almost time, and we have no idea how long this will take." They began their trek again.

It took strength not to project as they walked. But the corridors felt so strange to her.

"We're almost there," Hera said suddenly.

The Four looked back over his shoulder, and then looked at Sarah. "Do you think she really knows?" he asked. "That she can sense it? Or is that just something a kid would say?"

"Got me," Sarah admitted. "I really don't know. Is she right?"

"She is."

"I'm surprised we haven't met anyone else," Sarah said.

"I'm taking you to the hybrid furthest from the control room. It's a risk in that she's not the closest to the controls, and therefore may be the least influential or effective, but if we run into opposition, we might not survive to get to the hybrid." Sarah nodded. "Here we are."

The door was heavy and metallic, and old. Sarah could see that. The Four hit a button, and the hatch slid up with a swishing sound. It wasn't something she was used to. She shook her head and stepped in. The hybrid was lying in the tub, eyes open, seeing something beyond their plane.

"-One thousand forty seven squared. The seven from the eight, the five from the six, one, always one is left, hiding in the darkness. Integration of the function leads to the inversion of the original equation. End of line. The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift… it pleases him and the birds dance through the music. Once upon a time, the equation balances and once again a remainder is left-"

Sarah shivered. "You okay?" Gaeta asked as he limped up behind her. He sounded out of breath, and when she turned to look at him she could see he was sweating.

"Yeah," she said, focusing on the very real issue standing right in front of her. Gaeta was going to need help if he was going to get off this Colony alive. She studied him, his hands, the muscles in his arms, the way he trembled a little already with fatigue, the way he leaned down to rub at the stump where it met the prosthetic. Watching him grounded her, and she was able to turn back and face the hybrid again.

"It's just always odd to see them," she admitted quietly.

Brooks was staring at the hybrid, slack-jawed, Hera's hand in his. The hybrid was still continuing her never ending stream of consciousness. "-Seven goes into forty eight six times, six remains. Calculate the trajectory, bring the system to equilibrium. A misspelling, a missed word, a missed opportunity, just tell them that you're sorry and beg for forgiveness, even when none seems possible. The river is mighty but it starts up north at a place that can be crossed with five steps-"

"Are they always like this?" Brooks asked.

Sarah nodded. "I told you that she would be." She stepped up and examined the thick, heavy cables. "You're sure she's connected to the others?" she asked the Four.

"As sure as I can be."

"What's the time?" Sarah asked. She knew, but she wanted confirmation. They had one chance to get this right.

"Five minutes."

Sarah nodded. "Hera? Come here please."

"No."

The room went silent except for the babbling of the hybrid, and they all turned to look at her.

"Hera…" Sarah said, her heart accelerating, "it's time. I need you to come here."

"No. I don't like you," Hera declared.

Sarah had to swallow hard. "We did not come this far to be thwarted by a three year old," she said. "I-"

"Sarah," Brooks warned, "calm down." He knelt down and faced Hera. "What's wrong, Hera?" he asked.

"I don't like her," Hera confided.

"The lady in the tub?"

"The lady that pretends to be Mommy. She's not Mommy."

"No, she's not," Brooks said.

"Three minutes," the Four muttered.

Brooks ignored him. "That lady, Sarah? We talked about this, remember? She's your mommy's sister."

"She's not Mommy."

"No, and she doesn't think she is. Come on," Brooks said, extending his hand to Hera. "I'll walk with you, okay? You and Sarah need to talk to the lady in the tub."

Hera reached out for his hand again, and Sarah began to breathe.

"Two minutes," the Four said. "We've got to get this down now, or whoever's coming will be destroyed."

Sarah took a deep breath, and then bent down. "Hera," she said as gently as she could. "Would you hold my other hand, please?"

Hera regarded her suspiciously for a long moment, and then looked up at Brooks. Brooks nodded encouragingly, and Hera put her little hand into Sarah's.

There was nothing, a tiny part of Sarah noticed. No jolt of recognition, no electricity… nothing. Hera's hand felt like just that… a hand. Smaller than she was used to, but a hand just the same. But Sarah couldn't pause, couldn't reflect. She leaned over the hybrid and touched her cheek.

The hybrid's eyes flared, and her words grew louder.

"Humans were not designed to fly, approach the limit asymptotically. One and one becomes three, and two plus eight begets ten. Nine by the side."

Leoben had always said there was more in the hybrid's words than just babble; Sarah had never believed him. But now… now she knew he was right, at least sometimes. "Yes," she whispered. "I'm pregnant."

The hybrid smiled. She reached up and touched Sarah's cheek. "Touched by God, tossed aside. The nude figure bends ornamented by the message and the legend. Legends will live."

"Please," Sarah said, unsure if the hybrid was even still listening. "We need to get out of here. The baby… Hera… they both need to be safe. If they stay here, Cavil will destroy them both, trying to understand them. The Galactica is coming for us, but they can't get in unless everything is shut down."

"Inverse gamma regularized, plot the course with harmonic numbers. Do you love him? If yes, then prove it, you can't, end of line. Find serenity, find the rebel sutra, find the exponential integral of the trigonometric crown."

Sarah looked wildly at the others, but she knew they would have no advice. Neither Brooks nor Gaeta had ever so much as seen a hybrid, and the Four knew no more than she did.

"I want to go home," Hera announced. "I want my mommy and daddy."

There was a clank, and one Centurion took a step forward.

Sarah's head snapped up. The Centurion turned its head, looking at her, and she knew. It heard. It understood. It realized.

She leaned over and touched the Four's arm. "Take the inhibitors out."

"Sarah-"

"Now! Here!"

The Four glanced at the hybrid. All traces of awareness had vanished from her face, and she lay in the tub, still babbling in a monotone. The Centurion's eye flared red, just once, and it was like watching someone trapped, trying to escape.

The Four stood on his toes and removed the inhibitor.

"And he shall wipe the tears from their eyes, and there will be no more pain. End of line."

And then, silence.

The Four hesitated, and then removed the inhibitor from the second Centurion. Sarah held her breath. The Centurion looked around, and she saw Gaeta move back. Then it turned, and walked out of the room.

"I have absolutely no idea what that's going to mean for us," the Four said.

"I'm more concerned about what this means for us," Gaeta said, pointing to the silent hybrid. Her eyes were still open, but she was completely inanimate. "Did it work?"

As if to answer, the room shook. Sarah barely managed to catch herself before she toppled into the hybrid's tub. Gaeta toppled over entirely, his crutches sprawling in a most undignified manner. They all waited for a moment, and then realization set in.

"They're here," Brooks said breathlessly. "They came for us. They're really here."

"Don't get your hopes up," Sarah warned, but as she looked at the hybrid again, she thought she detected the ghost of a smile. "But I think we'd better get up to where they can find us, and fast."

***

The impact as they rammed into the Colony shook the CIC. Even deep within the Galactica, they could hear the metal of the Colony bending and breaking as the Galactica plowed into it. "Status reports," Bill said, as he righted himself.

"DRADIS is up, tactical is still online," Thornton announced. "The launch tubes our squads are in are well within the Colony…" he entered a code as fast as he could. "Raiders are not attacking. I repeat, Raiders are not attacking." He paused, and then looked up at Adama. "Sir… I think they did it."

"Well get the squads moving!" Tigh demanded. "Communications, get on the horn with the squadron leaders and get them out! Now!"

"How long do you think we have?" Bill asked Ellen, who was standing at the center table.

"I don't know," Ellen admitted. "The Cylons tell me that neither Sarah nor the Four were all that out of the ordinary when it comes to understanding ship design, and neither of their lines were initially programmed for that function. If I had to guess, I would say they managed to persuade the hybrid to shut down rather than actually altering it technically. The Ones, Fours, and Fives will be operating just fine, as should the Centurions."

Bill shook his head. "We can deal with them," he said. He held on to the rim of the table, knuckles tightening as he began to hear the chatter coming in from the ground squadrons. "We've lasted longer than I would have put money on," he admitted. "Let's see what we can do."

***

The blast door opened, revealing the cavernous docking station that the Galactica had crashed into. Sam wished he had time to look, but this was most definitely not a sight-seeing mission.

"All right!" Starbuck shouted. "Blue squadron, let's go! Remember how we got in, because it's our only chance of getting out!"

The Centurions lurched into action, leading the way out the launch tube and into the docking bay. Odd. Sam remembered a time when the clanking of Centurions sent chills down his spine and meant near-certain death. And now they were their guardians, stripes of red paint down across their fronts to make it clear which side they were on.

They made it into the corridors, and the gunfire began immediately. Explosions of light and bullets, and the sounds of metal on metal. Sam grabbed his gun ducked behind a crate and began to fire.

"Only Centurions so far." Lee had taken cover behind the same crate. "Is that good or bad?"

"Got me," Sam said, rising up to take one out.

The skirmish ended quickly, and Sam wondered if this group had actually been sent out to deal with the intruders, or if they'd just had the bad luck of being close by. It didn't matter. The ending was going to be the same. He looked back at Galen, who was clutching the nuclear device awkwardly.

"How deep do you think we have to get you?" he asked.

"The deeper the better," Galen admitted, "but realistically, anywhere this sucker goes off is going to make life hell for Cavil.

They began to move again, through twisted corridors and past beams and ports and hatches. "Any of this look familiar to you?" Kara shouted over her shoulder.

"Not a thing. What about you?" Sam shouted back.

"Feels like I've never been here before in my life," Kara said.

"Well, technically you probably haven't," Lee pointed out. "If this part grew after Cavil took over."

"You're not helping, Lee," Kara growled.

"Stop arguing and get me in already, will you? We don't have much time," Galen pointed out.

Kara nodded. "Good point. Let's go."

***

"How are we going to find her?" Helo asked Sharon, methodically loading his gun. They hunkered by the wall, ready to charge down the Colony corridor as soon as the Centurions gave them the all clear. "Do you have the first idea where she could be?" He looked back at his squadron. They were tense and ready; the leader nodded grimly at Helo. He returned the gesture.

"I don't," Sharon admitted. She glanced over at the Six that was coming with them. "Do you?"

"If they were trying to shut down the hybrids, it would make sense that they're fairly deep within the ship," the Six said. "They also probably heard the impact the Galactica made and are making their way up."

"Can you interface with the system at all?" Helo asked. "Maybe find out where they might be? Get us a map, for lack of better words?"

Sharon and the Six exchanged glances. "If we find a port that's unguarded," she said. "But it will take time."

Helo looked at their Centurions, looked at his squadron of Marines. "Well, let's find a port as fast as we can," he said, "because time's the one thing we don't have."

***

The gun shook in Gaius's hands, and the helmet kept slipping over his eyes. He didn't want to leave the relative safety of this launch tube, but he didn't really have a choice. "All right," the Marine said, "Green squadron, let's move out!" Gaius wasn't sure his legs were going to work.

"You could try praying," the Six in his head told him amusedly. She was just there, right out of the corner of his eye. "Be like a paladin, calling down God's wrath with one hand and delivering His judgment with the other."

"Right," he muttered, trying to hide his fear. "And that's exactly what I'm doing." And he was. Praying with every step as they made their way through the docking bay full of dormant Raiders and into a corridor. The corridors twisted and turned, and he felt as if they were headed deep into the heart of a jungle.

He was in the back, so he heard the gunfire before he saw the Centurions. He wanted nothing more than to turn around and run, but he managed to drop behind a crate. "Cover, they call it, right?" he asked the Six.

She was nowhere to be seen.

He sat there, clinging to his gun, eyes squeezed shut as he prayed. And just when he managed to pull up his courage and come from behind the crate to fire a shot, he discovered that the enemy was lying in a heap on the floor, and once again, he was too late.

As they moved out again, Caprica Six shot him a look of disgust.

***

"Do you hear anything?" Brooks asked Felix again. "Any sort of gunshots or anything at all?"

"No, and it hasn't changed since you asked two minutes ago." Felix was really starting to struggle. It had been a long enough walk down to the hybrid, and there was no time for him to stop and rest. His arms were sore, his hands were screaming in pain, and his missing leg felt like fire. All he wanted to do was get to Galactica, or failing that, have someone shoot him now.

Footsteps. They paused, and Sarah and the Four raised their guns. Felix leaned over and managed to grab Hera's shirt between two fingers. He tugged, and Hera got the message. She ducked behind him.

There was a shot, and the Four ducked down, swearing. "Get down," Felix ordered Hera. He threw her to the floor, shoving her against the wall. He wedged his own body against hers. It was the least dignified way to spend a battle, but unless he planned on wielding one of his canes as a club, he didn't really have another option.

They were skinjobs. He heard their voices, heard one fall, and wondered how the Four was handling this, killing his own kind face to face. He would be outed as a traitor now, and there was no turning back for him, not that there had been ever since they entered the hybrid's room.

The Four shouted. More gunfire, and he was fairly certain the Centurion was in on it as well. Fairly certain turned to fully certain as the Centurion opened fire, and the rapid gunshots and the thumping of bodies ended in silence.

Felix struggled to his feet, and Sarah pulled Hera up. "You okay?" he asked the Four.

The Four was studying his arm. "It's a graze," he said through gritted teeth. He tore a strip off his lab coat and tied it tightly around his bicep. "Come on," he said, the cloth still in his mouth. "We've got to keep moving."

They began their slow progress again.

"They're coming, aren't they?" Felix heard Hera asking.

"Yes," Sarah said. "They are."

***

"Wait," the Six said. "In there."

They paused, and Helo looked into a room that looked just like all the others that they passed. "Are you sure?" he asked.

Sharon looked in and nodded as well. "She's right," she said. "Let's go."

The Six turned to the Centurions. "Keep watch," she ordered. One of them saluted, and Helo had to stifle a smile. He nodded to the Marines in their squadron, silently echoing the Six's order. The three of them made their way into the room.

The room was rusty looking to Helo's eyes. Old, disused, and dusty. But there was a thin stream of what looked like water falling down the back wall. The Six and Sharon walked over to it.

"Once we connect, we won't have much time," Sharon said. "They'll know we're here, and they'll know where we are. Are you ready?" she asked the Six.

"Let's do it," the Six said.

As Helo watched, both women slid their hands into the water. He always expected their eyes to lose focus, but Sharon just looked like she was thinking extremely hard. He tried to count his heartbeats as they did… whatever it was they were doing, but he could barely think.

It was Sharon who pulled her hand out first. "Found where they were being held, and I've got a good guess at which hybrid they headed towards. Let's go."

They had made it three steps out the door when a contingent of Centurions, led by a Five and a One, ambushed them. Two Marines went down immediately. Helo managed to grab Sharon and pull her out of the way just before the One fired at her. They rounded a corner, and he yanked a grenade out of his belt.

"Get out of there!" he shouted back around the corner, praying that his own squadron would have the presence of mind to obey. He pulled the pin, counted to three, and threw. The explosion resulted in screams, and when the smoke cleared, he could see that one of the Twos and another one of his Marines were dead. Of course, so were the One and the Five.

"Come on," the Six shouted. "Let's get moving before the reinforcements get here!"

They pounded down the hall, their ranks significantly diminished. Helo wished he could breathe, but he'd never been so scared in his life. It wasn't fear for his own life, but just that he'd die while so close… he couldn't let Hera or Sharon down like that. Not ever again.

It all became a red blur of Centurions and Ones and Fours and Fives, guns and violence and blood. They lost four more Marines, they lost the Six, they lost who knew how many Centurions. A rhythm of gunrire and blood and steel, point and shoot, run, point and shoot. He was exhausted, terrified, and at the same time couldn't let himself think about anything other than his goal. Helo could barely take it in when he raised his gun at the Four who rounded the corner.

But the Four immediately put his hands into the air, gun pointed up. "Stop!" he shouted. "Don't shoot!"

Then there was an Eight beside him, and the slow sound of crutches and limping… and the most beautiful shriek he'd ever heard.

"Daddy!"

Hera launched herself at him, and he bent down in time to scoop her up, before he could even register it. Then she was in his arms and Sharon was beside him, hugging him, stroking Hera's hair, all three of them crying.

The Four cleared his throat, and Helo managed to look around him. The Eight standing next to the Four had a gun, and she looked like she still didn't quite believe they were standing there. There was a man Helo only vaguely recognized standing behind them, grinning ear to ear. And Gaeta, clinging to his crutches but oddly enough looking more alive than the last time Helo had seen him.

"Boy," he said, with an exhale of relief, "Hoshi's going to be glad to see you."

Gaeta's brow furrowed. "Louis is here?" he asked.

"No, he's back with the Fleet. He's-"

"Can we take this conversation on the road?" the Eight- Sarah, Helo remembered- asked. "We're not safe yet."

"She's right," Sharon said, smiling at Sarah. Sarah returned the expression, and Sharon pulled her gun out again. "We've got what we came for. Let's get going." Her eyes narrowed. "Are you coming as well?" she asked the Four.

"Yes," Felix broke in, even as Brooks opened his mouth to speak. "Sarah's right. Let's get moving."

Helo nodded and fumbled for his communicator. "Galactica, this is Red Squadron. We've got them and are headed back."

"Copy that, Red Squadron. See you back home." It was Tigh's voice, and Helo had never been so happy to hear it.

The first he knew of the ambush was when the gun sounded and his hip exploded in pain.

***

"They've got them," Saul repeated. "They really did it."

"We're not out of here yet," Bill reminded him. "And we have no idea when those hybrids will kick back in. When they do, we're sitting ducks."

"Any news from Starbuck?"

"Not yet. As long as one of them can set off the nuke, this is going to be more of a success than we dared hope."

"Sir?" Thornton said, turning from the tactical station. "I've got some communications coming in from the port hangar bay. It sounds like there's some action down there, but nothing is clear."

Ellen looked up and smirked. "Something tells me John's on his way," she said.

Saul and Bill exchanged glances. "Well," Saul finally said, "you can't tell me you didn't see it coming."

Bill nodded.

***

"Tigh says they got them," Kara reported, flipping off her communicator. "Let's find our spot."

"This should be good," Galen said, leading them into a room. It didn't trigger any memories or hold any significance to him; in fact, he wasn't really sure what anything in the room was. There was no water in here, no indications of Cylon control or anything like that. There were indentations on the back wall that might be some sort of drawers, but that was only a suspicion. He hauled the nuclear device to the furthest corner.

"Here? What makes you say that?" Lee asked.

"Far as I can tell, we're out of the way and there's only one door, with a hatch that closes. Leave me enough guns and I should be able to hold off anyone who comes."

"But the location-"

"It's a frakking nuclear bomb, not brain surgery, Apollo," Galen said. He smiled a little to take the sting from his words. "Wherever we blow it, it's not going to take them all out. This is as good a spot as any."

Lee nodded. "Right," he said. He extended his hand. "Thank you," he told Galen. Galen shook his head, but Lee persisted. "If this works, we'll have a real chance."

"If we hadn't created them, you wouldn't need a chance," Galen said. He looked at Sam and Kara. "Good luck getting them out of here."

Neither Sam nor Kara insulted him by asking him if he was sure about this; they knew. He smiled ruefully at him. Kara smiled back and Sam just nodded. "See you on the other side."

Galen watched them go. It wouldn't be long now.

***

The light was fading fast, and he was cold. But Hera was safe, and Sharon was hovering over him, her hands moving quickly as she tried to stop the bleeding. But somehow, Helo knew it was too late. Did everyone feel like this when they were about to die?"

"We got the frakkers," he heard her saying. "And you're going to be fine. Just fine. We'll bandage you up and we'll get you back to the Galactica and…"

Helo looked at the Four, who was putting pressure on the wounds. The Four didn't say anything, but his eyes were full of sympathy. He knew.

The Four blurred, and Helo lay his head back. The pain was shafting through his body, until he was barely aware of anything else. He turned his head, found Hera. He'd known this could be the price, and he knew it was worth it. It was absolutely worth it.

He fumbled for Sharon's hand, squeezed it. "I love you," he mouthed.

Then the darkness closed over him, and the pain was gone.

***

"We're taking his body with us," Sharon Agathon said, sitting back on her heels and wiping her face with the palm of her hand.

The Four hesitated. "It will slow us down," he protested.

"I don't care."

"But you need to consider-"

"It won't slow us down," Sarah said bluntly. "Not if one of the three Cylons carries him. Besides, we've already got-" she shut her mouth hurriedly.

"You've already got me," Gaeta sighed heavily. He didn't seem offended. Rather, he was staring at Helo's body on the floor. Sarah wondered if they'd known each other well. Funny, in all their time that they were incarcerated together, she'd never thought to ask him. "Speaking of which, we'd better get moving before any more come back." He started navigating his way around the fallen Centurions.

Sarah and the Four exchanged glances, but Brooks stepped in. "It would better if you can take him," he said quietly. "Hera doesn't quite realize what's happened, and she'll be a lot less distressed if we just bring him with us. And it would be a comfort to Athena."

"All right," the Four said. He bent down and hefted Helo over one shoulder. "Come on," he said. "We're only going to run into more."

Sarah had been trying not to hope too hard, and Agathon's death really put it all back into perspective. She wondered why it took Agathon's death, when she'd seen a Two and two Marines die in that firefight as well. In fact, she realized, the only person in the rescue party that had survived was Sharon herself.

She fell into step beside her sister. "I'm sorry about your husband," she said. Sharon nodded tightly. Sarah bit her lip, trying to think how to phrase what she desperately wanted to ask. But she couldn't find the words.

Hera clung to her mother. Her eyes were red and her nose was running, and she glared balefully at Sarah. "She hates me," Sarah told Sharon.

Sharon just shook her head. "Boomer kidnapped her," she said bitterly. "Do you think she'll ever warm up to another Eight again?" She snorted. "Where is Boomer, anyway?"

"I don't know," Sarah confessed. "I haven't seen her since she and Cavil brought Hera to our cell."

Sharon made a face, and Sarah thought that if Boomer had half a lick of sense, she would shoot herself before letting Athena get her hands on her. Not that she blamed Athena in the least.

***

They were cutting through the hatch. Galen looked at his watch nervously; he hadn't expected them to find him this quickly. He swallowed hard, gripping his gun, standing against the wall beside the hatch.

Over in the corner, the stripped down nuclear device sat heavily. He wished he could just detonate it now, but he had to give them more of a chance. Absolutely had to.

Sparks were flying; he remembered sparks like that on Galactica, days when he'd been… had he been happy on Galactica? Yes. There had been days he'd been happy on Galactica, although he'd always felt like something was missing. But he'd had his little family of deckhands, he'd had his job, and he'd had his ship.

For Galactica alone, Galen would hold whatever was coming through that door off. She deserved a better death than in the explosion of friendly fire.

The sparks ended and the metal fell to the floor with a clatter. Centurions came through and he began to fire, and one after another they fell. They were too clunky and large to overwhelm the hatch and storm in. It was almost too easy, but he knew the skinjobs would be harder.

He remembered shooting skinjobs on New Caprica. It had been so easy then, when he'd hated them with all the passion in his soul. Would it be easy now?

He fired, and a One fell. Yup. Still easy. He still hated them, these children that they had meant to save the world, but who had turned on them and destroyed everything that they'd been so desperate to protect.

He kept firing, but he wondered how many would come, how much ammunition he even had. And then he heard it… another gun in the corridor. One shot, two shots, three… and then silence.

Instinct told him to hold his fire, and as she stepped into the room, he knew he'd expected her the entire time.

Boomer.

"Get out," he told her, cocking his gun. "For the sake of what we had, I'll give you one chance to run. But after what you've done…"

Boomer raised her hands in the hair, her gun pointing at the ceiling. "I just took out three of them for you," she pointed out.

"Then run. Before you join them."

"Galen… I'm not here to-" she cut off, her eyes widening. He followed her gaze, and he realized what she saw. "You're going to destroy it all," she said, her voice full of awe.

He nodded.

She looked at him, and once again he felt a part of him falling as her face lit up. "I'm glad," she said.

"You're glad." It was flat, drawn out. He thought of Helo, thought of Sharon, and he couldn't believe a word she said.

"I'll stay," Boomer volunteered. "I'll help you fight them off, if any more of them come this way."

"If you do that, you'll die."

Her smile was so sad. "I know. That's why I'll stay. I'm making a choice, Galen, and this is what I choose."

He kept his safety off, but he put his gun down. "All right," he relented. "But I'm watching you."

"That's all I ever wanted," she said, and he wished so badly that he could believe it was true.

***

Gunshots echoed off the walls of the corridor. "That way," Caprica said, pointing in the direction they seemed to be coming from.

"Excuse me," Gaius said, "but don't we want to be going away from the gunshots?"

"Our people have got to be firing some of them," Caprica pointed out. She gestured to the few troops they had remaining. "Let's go."

For once, Gaius found that he couldn't shrink to the back of the pack- there wasn't enough of a pack left to. There were no convenient crates here in the Colony corridors, and no walls to hide behind. He was out in the open.

As Gaius rounded the corner, he saw figures trading gunfire just inside a hatchway at the end of the long hall. These were the humanoid Cylons, Fours and Fives, with a One as well. They were fighting two Eights, a Four, and-

And a human.

Gaius hefted his gun.

He wasn't sure what gave him the courage to fire. Was it the Six, appearing beside him and whispering? An invisible lightning bolt from God Himself? The image of Caprica Six kneeling down and firing, taking out a Five and the One in quick succession? Or the image- only barely glimpsed at the time and only understood after the smoke settled- of Felix lying on the floor, shielding Hera with his body? Whatever it was, for the third time in his life, Gaius Baltar actually killed someone.

A Four was the last body to fall, and Caprica turned around in shock, staring at him. Gaius stood for a long moment with the gun still up on his shoulder, and then let it down slowly.

"Thanks," one of the Eights said. Gaius immediately realized that this must be Sarah, since she wore an overlarge, sloppy shirt and leggings rather than any sort of uniform. And behind her, Felix was getting to his feet. Gaius found himself moving, and caught Felix by the arm before he could get all the way up.

Felix's eyes widened. "I never thought I would be this happy to see you again in my life," he said.

Gaius couldn't resist- he hugged Felix gratefully. Felix was stiff in his embrace, but it didn't matter.

"Enough reunion," Athena informed them. "We've got to get out of here now. I can't believe the hybrids have stayed off this long."

"Frak," Felix swore. "How much further do we have to go?"

"We can do it," Caprica Six said, but she looked at him skeptically. "It would go a lot quicker if-"

"We're not leaving him," Gaius interrupted.

"If I carry him," Caprica Six shot back smoothly.

"Oh. Well, then."

Felix sighed. "I was fighting this, but hell. I'll take living over dignity any day," he said. He tossed his crutches aside. "But for crying out loud, someone give me a frakking gun, and we'll take rear guard. Literally," he said, rolling his eyes as Caprica hoisted him over her shoulder.

The Four smiled and handed Felix a pistol. "Knew I brought you one for a reason," he said. "Let me know when you need more ammo."

***

They heard them in the corridor. The one thing that they'd managed to keep to a minimum in this alliance was Centurions on the Galactica, and it made Saul sick to hear it. It was worse when they walked into the CIC.

Cavil entered, flanked by two Fives and a Four. "So," he said, lacing his fingers together in front of him. "This is it. This is the brain of the Galactica."

There were no marines to signal, no guards to kill Cavil. But Bill pulled his gun. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't shoot you right now."

Guns were trained on Bill, on Saul, on Thornton, on Ellen, other CIC staff. "Because if you kill me, you have no idea who they'll kill," Cavil said. "Do you want to take that chance right now? Or do you want to listen to what I have to say?"

Bill didn't drop his gun. "I'm listening."

Cavil cocked his head. "I don't think you really are," he said. He turned and fired towards the tactical station. Lieutenant Thornton slumped over in his seat, dead. "Now you know I'm serious."

Saul shot a Five without looking. "Now you know we are, too," he said. He would have shot Cavil, but he had no doubt that the Centurions were under orders to open fire if that happened, and there was no way they- or the CIC equipment- could survive that. "You'd better start talking," he said.

He didn't want to look at Ellen. Ellen wasn't moving- she was too smart for that- but Saul knew she was planning. Cavil looked around the CIC.

"I can't quite get over it," he said, addressing Saul. "Once you knew what you were, you really chose this- this piece of junk- over what you could have? It boggles the mind."

"That's what you've got to say?" Saul demanded.

"No. No, I was just speculating. What I really came here to do was propose a trade."

"What do we have that you could possibly want?" Bill demanded.

"You?" Cavil raised his eyebrows and chuckled condescendingly. "Nothing. But you…" he looked at Saul, and then at Ellen. "Resurrection."

"Resurrection."

"You give us resurrection, we give you back Hera. And as a bonus, we'll even throw in your other people."

Saul looked at Bill. Bill's face was stone. "Go ahead," Saul said. "I'm listening."

***

"There it is," Kara panted. They ran across the docking bay again, and they could see Galactica's hull, and the open airlock. "We made it."

"I can't believe it," Sam gasped. "We might actually get out of here alive."

"Yeah, well don't count your goals before they're scored there, Longshot," Kara said sarcastically. Lee rolled his eyes. They sprinted up to the launch tube, past the Marines who were guarding the entrance, and into the ship. Lee fell against the wall, ready to kiss the familiar metal, even as he gasped for breath. The five Marines left in their squadron joined the others, positioning themselves to defend the launch tube.

"Radio up to CIC," he told Kara. "Tell them we're on."

"Frak!" Kara swore. "I must have dropped the walkie talkie."

Lee closed his eyes. "You're joking. Tell me this is a joke."

"Yes, Lee, it's a joke. Because in all that running and oh, I don't know, did I count six firefights, there's no way I'd ever drop the walkie talkie," Kara snapped.

Lee picked up the phone on the wall. The line was dead.

"Just get up to the CIC already," Sam shouted. "I'll help cover the airlock. Send a runner down if the others are already on."

"Come on," Kara said, grabbing Lee's wrist. She yanked him, and they began running for the CIC.

The halls of the Galactica were oddly empty. Lee was sharply reminded of running to the Raptor that last day on the Pegasus, right before the battlestar died. They rounded the corner, past a few dead Marines and inactive Centurions, and burst into the CIC.

As they did, it felt like a million guns trained on them.

Lee held up his hands, surveying the scene, and beside him, Kara did the same. Cavil looked up sharply, obvious irritated at the interruption. Lee thought he saw his father glance up, but it was hard to be sure.

"What do you want?" Cavil demanded impatiently.

"It might interest you to know we've planted a nuclear bomb deep within the Colony," Lee announced. "When it goes off, it will destroy the Colony and do significant damage to the rest of your forces."

"You're bluffing," Cavil announced. "You don't have the people you came for back on your ship yet."

"Doesn't necessarily matter," Lee said. "We're willing to sacrifice a few lives if it means thirty nine thousand people have a chance at survival."

"How sentimental. I'm sure your people would be glad to know of how little value-" Cavil began, but something in Lee's face stopped him.

"It's not just the hostages we're willing to sacrifice," Lee said. "It's everyone here. It's the Admiral, it's the Tigh family, Anders, and Tyrol, it's the Cylons and Centurions that have come with us. It's the Galactica herself. We will blow it all to hell, no matter what you do next.

"Now, you have an option. You can surrender, and we can form a truce right here, right now. Any Cylon who wants to come with us and work for a peaceful life and a coexistence is welcome. But any Cylon who remains on that Colony… well, you're all about to find out how real your God really is."

As Cavil stared at him, Lee realized that Kara wasn't standing next to him anymore. He wanted to smile, because he had a pretty damn good idea of what she was up to, and he couldn't blame her in the least.

***

They could hear the echoes of fighting, even as removed as they were. No one seemed to know they were down here.

"What exactly are we waiting for?" Boomer- Sharon, a corner of his mind whispered- asked.

Galen shrugged. "Some indication they've jumped away. The ship shaking, indication the hybrid is back on line… messenger from God… I don't know. Radio contact, I guess," he said, gesturing at the walkie talkie.

"You didn't do something like a time limit?" Sharon demanded. "That would have made more sense."

"But as long as the hybrids have the ships shut down, the Galactica has a chance. With our luck, I'd set the bomb off at twenty minutes, and it would have taken them twenty one to get on the Galactica and be safe."

Sharon, Boomer, she nodded.

"Why are you here?" Galen asked finally, and the words all but exploded out of him. "You took a huge chance to come here- you must have figured I would shoot you on sight. Why?"

"Partly by accident," she admitted. "I didn't know it was you down here. But I meant what I said. It feels like the entire time I've been alive, I've been programmed or a pawn or taking orders. All I've ever done is fight, and even when I've known what's right, I've never won. This time… I'm not taking orders. I'm not following what anyone else wants. I'm doing what I know is right, and I'm going to win."

"Yeah." He thought about it. The echoes of gunshots faded for a moment, but he didn't think it was time yet. But they didn't have long.

There was a voice; a disembodied voice, floating over them. "Cylons on the Colony," the voice said, and Galen suddenly recognized it as Lee Adama. "It's over. We have a nuclear device on the Colony that will go off in a matter of minutes. Any One, Four, or Five who wants to surrender and live with us in peace should get to the Galactica before the Colony is destroyed." The Cylon version of a loudspeaker clicked off.

"He's giving them a chance?" Boomer asked incredulously. "Why?"

"He's Lee Adama. Apollo," Galen said with a shrug. "Great idealist of our time." But something loosened inside him, and he knew that Lee was right. And he was glad. Because second chances, and sometimes third and fourth chances… they could mean the world. He knew that better than anyone.

"Sharon?" he heard himself saying. "Do you think you could…?"

He didn't have to finish. She smiled at him, and their house formed for them both.

***

Firing a pistol while slung over a woman's shoulder was one of the most awkward things that Felix had ever done, but he managed to take out a few Centurions.

"Come on!" he heard a new voice shouting, and Caprica Six quickened her pace. He tried to see where she was going, but there was no way he could manage it.

Then the floor changed, and he realized that they were on the Galactica. He was home.

"I'm putting you down!" Caprica informed him, and he found himself being eased off her shoulder. They were in a very small, disused hangar bay, and Caprica had put him behind a tool chest for cover. "Is this the only spot open?" she shouted.

"On this side, yeah!" someone shouted back. Felix craned his neck and saw Sam Anders. A part of him groaned, but Anders was kneeling behind a pile of scrap, a gun on his shoulder and watching the entrance. He couldn't really complain. "Who've we got?"

Felix looked around. The Four had placed Helo's body back in the corridor and had returned, and was loading up a gun. Athena was pale and shaken, but she set Hera down and took a spot near Anders. Brooks was hunting through specific crates; Felix realized he must be searching for weapons, or anything that could be used as one. Caprica Six stretched, and then turned to Gaius. "Give me that mortar."

Gaius looked confused, and Felix realized that he had several guns with him. "Which one's the mortar?"

Caprica turned him around impatiently and selected a gun. "Now make yourself useful," she ordered him.

Gaius opened his mouth to say something, but before he could, there was an explosion of gunfire. Felix leaned out and began to shoot, although it wasn't easy from this awkward sitting position.

"How many other squadrons are we waiting for?" Felix shouted.

"I don't know!" Caprica called back, taking aim and then firing. A Centurion went spinning and then collapsed in a shower of sparks. "Gaius! Get the CIC on the line!"

"We can't!" Sam called. "Line's dead."

"We've got a radio you know," Gaius said, fumbling for it.

A grenade came spinning in. "Take cover!" Athena shouted.

There wasn't much of anywhere Felix could move to, and he was pretty well covered as it was. Brooks ducked behind Felix's tool chest just in time, and the explosion threw them both flat to the floor. The heat was overwhelming, and when Felix came up he wasn't surprised to see small cuts on his bare arms.

"You okay?" Brooks asked.

"Looks like it." Felix gripped his gun and peered around the corner. "Frak! They're still coming!"

Across the way, Anders called over, "Anyone got any brilliant ideas?"

"Just shoot things!" Felix shouted. "You're good at that!"

"Not the time for jokes, Gaeta!" Anders shouted back. But he did take out an advancing Centurion.

They heard gunshots coming from the Colony, and the advancing Centurions began to fall, felled from behind. Felix looked back over his shoulder at Brooks, who shrugged. But it made sense when three Fives, four Fours, and a One appeared, guns raised in surrender.

"Get on," Caprica Six shouted. "Are there many more coming?"

"I don't think so," the One said. "The Ones are being fairly ruthless in their quest for domination over the Cylon line. Any defectors are being shot."

"Frak. Get further back. We may need the backup."

"Yes, sir." They ran past Felix, back out of the launch tube and took their position there.

"Gaius, how's it coming on the radio?" Caprica Six shouted.

"Got a signal!" Gaius said. "But I can't get acknowledgement!"

"Frak. Well, let's close the door and-" the ship shook, hard. "What the frak?"

Sarah swore. "The hybrids must realize that we're on the Galactica, or the Ones found a way to override them," she said. "The Raiders must be attacking."

"Well, let's get this airlock closed so we can frakking jump already," Felix said. He glanced back at one of the Fives. "That button. Right there," he ordered, pointing.

The Five hit the button, and the airlock began to close. But as it did, another grenade came flying through the airlock. It exploded, and when Felix came back up, he realized that the airlock had stopped closing.

"No," he said. "You've got to be frakking kidding me."

"Give me some cover," Brooks said. "I'll see what's going on."

He grabbed his gun and ducked out, just as a squadron of Centurions began approaching. There were skinjobs with them as well, but judging by the direction they were shooting, they weren't looking for refuge.

Caprica Six looked over her shoulder at Sam. "Brace me," she said. He nodded, and she pulled out the mortar. He braced her shoulders and she fired. Felix automatically covered his head as debris rained down. When he looked out, the Centurions were significantly thinned.

"Nice shot!" Brooks shouted.

Anders ruffled Caprica's hair. "That's my girl."

***

"You wouldn't," Cavil said, and he was looking right at Ellen. "They're your children," he spat. "And without resurrection, they can't come back. You wouldn't destroy all of them for this passel of humans."

"She might not," Saul answered before Ellen could, "but I would." He looked at Bill, and then at Kara. "Believe me. I would."

Cavil actually looked panicked. Saul tried to dredge up some sort of empathy, that near-unconditional love that Ellen had claimed she wanted to feel. But all he could remember was Cavil tearing out his eye, Cavil walking on New Caprica, Ellen's face when she told him what she had done to set him free. The feeling he had when he looked at Kara- or more accurately, the feeling he could remember having but couldn't really feel anymore. There was no unconditional love here; John had long ago crossed whatever line Saul might have drawn.

The CIC shook, hard. Bill fell against the table, and Saul reached out to steady him. Ellen appeared to fall, too, but as she did, Saul saw her fingers close around a gun. She looked up at him from under the cover of her hair, and his jaw tightened in acknowledgement. They had made this thing together, and they would end it together.

The deckhand trying to work communications cleared his throat. A Five trained a gun on him, and he subsided.

The CIC shook again.

"Hear that?" Cavil said, smiling. "The Raiders are firing. Whatever power you had over the hybrids is over. You're going to have to make your choice. Stay and detonate the device, or jump and leave us alive."

"We used suicide bombers on New Caprica," Saul pointed out. "What makes you think we would have a problem with using one right now?"

A Five fired. One of the specialists cried out, grabbing at her shoulder, and chaos erupted. Two Marines took out three of the Centurions, although not before they'd managed to open fire. Saul's leg exploded into pain, and he fell against the war table. But everything was so close… he grabbed the table and held on, fumbling for his gun. He was vaguely aware that the fight was raging on.

But for Caprica and for New Caprica, for all the humans that had died, and the Cylons as well. For the men and women who'd died in service, for every funeral he'd attended. For a life of war when he was apparently supposed to be a man of science, for Bill, for Ellen, and for Kara… the daughter he'd lost and still only remembered slivers and shards of their lives…. He gripped his gun and pointed it right into John Cavil's face.

And without another word, he fired.

Cavil fell to the floor, and only then did Saul realize he'd heard two other gunshots. And when he looked up, Ellen and Kara were standing there, both holding smoking guns. He smiled.

And the CIC shook again.

***

"It's getting worse! How's it coming, Brooks?" Sarah shouted. Caprica Six fired off another round from her mortar.

"No good. We've got to get further inside!" Brooks answered. "This door is frakked, but if we can get past the next one, we can close it. It will wreak havoc on this side of the ship if we jump with this airlock open, but it's small change. I don't know how much longer they're going to wait."

"They're still not answering my calls!" Gaius put in.

Athena came running towards the Colony. "Get everyone back," she ordered Sarah, jerking her thumb over her shoulder. "You go get Gaeta. Caprica, Anders, and I will cover you all." Caprica and Anders were still halfway back the launch tube, guns on their shoulders.

Sarah ran back to where Gaeta was positioned behind the tool chest. "Come on," she said, leaning down and slipping under his arm. "We're making a run for it."

"Great," he said, but he refrained from any further sarcastic commentary and let her help him up. He was covered with sweat and blood, and Sarah had to work to get a good grip on his arm. But he was still wearing the prosthetic, and he stumbled along with her.

There was another explosion- Sarah wasn't sure from where. She firmed up her grip on Gaeta and half-ran, half-dragged him back further into the Galactica launch tube. But she heard a scream, and for some reason, Hera went running from the relative safety of the Galactica corridor towards the Colony, and towards her mother.

Hera.

They heard her, and as she watched, Sharon began running back towards Galactica and towards Hera. Brooks had heard the scream as well, and he chased her, obviously intending to pull Hera back.

The guns fired, and both Sharon and Brooks fell.

Caprica Six turned and saw Hera, and bent down and picked her up. She handed her off to Baltar, and they began running for the door.

Sharon didn't move, but Brooks looked up and began to crawl. Sharon looked at Felix, and then down at Brooks. They both desperately needed the help, and she was the closest, but she couldn't help them both.

"Get him," Felix gasped. "I'll make it in."

She was about to let go when she saw a Four- the Four- jump over a fallen barrel, his torn lab coat flying out behind him. He was firing his gun at whatever was coming through that entrance, and then skidded to a stop beside Brooks.

"Come on," Sarah was close enough to hear him say. He hauled Brooks to his feet, and then helped him move. There were long streaks of blood on the floor where Brooks had been trying to crawl.

The four of them hit the corridor outside the airlock, and Gaeta slumped to the ground. Caprica and Gaius were still holding Hera, who was shrieking hysterically. Anders came running back, and managed to pull Sharon's body into the relative safety of the corridor.

Brooks was ghost white and sweating, but he pointed to the control box by the hatch. "Get me over there," he croaked to the Four. The Four obliged.

"Someone hand me a hammer," he ordered. When one was put in his hand, he swung it. The box sparked. He swung it one more time, and the panel bent enough that when he flipped the hammer around, he could get the claw under the face and pry it off. He pulled himself to standing, yanked a few wires, and touched them together. There was a spark, the lights above them went out… and the airlock door slammed shut.

He nodded with satisfaction, then fell to the ground. The Four dropped down on his knees beside him, felt for his vitals, and then rummaged around under his coat. He pulled out a coagulant and poured it on the wound, and then looked at Gaeta. "Where's your sickbay?"

"I'll show you," Anders said. "Come on."

The Four picked Brooks up and followed Anders. Sarah took a deep breath and looked at Gaeta.

"He'll be all right, won't he?"

"He's got to be," Gaeta agreed. "After all, we're back on the Galactica."

And the Galactica shook again.

***

"We're getting torn to bits, sir! If we're going, we've got to go now!"

"Saul!" Bill roared. "Get us out of here!"

Saul realized he was right by the tactical station. He dragged himself over and pushed Thornton's hand away from where the poor bastard had fallen. As he looked at the station, he froze.

"Where the frak am I going, Bill?"

"Anywhere?" Bill roared.

All around, the lights were flickering, systems were shorting in showers of sparks. There was still gunfire, although it was becoming less frequent, and the DRADIS was a mass of green. But it all faded into stillness as he stared at the screen.

Then someone was next to him, and he remembered once again sitting in a house, pictures on the mantle and flowers outside a window. Kara laughed at him, even though the signs of recent tears still marred her face. And together, they began to play their duet.

""There must be someway out of here, said the joker to the thief…"

"It's an interesting melody, Sam," Tory said, as the chords faded from the cabin of their ship and were replaced by the sounds of the ship being expanded into their Colony. "It's… haunting."

"Yeah. Well, it was an experiment," Sam said, abashed.

"I liked it," Ellen said. She glanced at Kara. Kara didn't comment, but if you knew her- and they all did- pleasure was clear on her face.

Saul cocked his head. "What do you mean, an experiment?"

"Well, it's the chord progression. I used the coordinates of that planet we found as the melody."

"That planet," Ellen sighed.

"Yeah, well. You can't tell me you guys don't think about it, too. A whole, habitable, beautiful planet, one jump away from here."

Kara smiled. "We'll make it there one of these days, Sam."

One of these days…

Together, Saul and Kara put in the coordinates.

1123

6536

5321

"The board is green…" Kara said, watching as everything came on line.

"JUMP!" Saul shouted, and he turned the key.

The Galactica jumped.

***

And the Colony went quiet.

Even in their refuge, in their house, they could feel it. Boomer looked at Galen. "Either they've destroyed the Galactica, or they got away. It's time."

And there it was, his sign from God, in the very form that his first one had taken. Galen looked around the house, spotted the nuclear device in a corner, and nodded. "Yeah," he said. "It's time."

Baltar had rigged it so all that Galen had to do was enter a short code of numbers. One-one-two-three. He pushed them, and then watched the counter. Sharon came up beside him.

Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six.

He turned to her. "Sharon…"

"Shhh. It's all right," she said, and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her in tight. She buried her head against his chest, and they both closed their eyes as they held on to each other. He felt her heart beating against his.

And the world exploded.

***

The Galactica ended its jump. Bill felt it. The CIC looked almost as bad as it had after the New Caprica rescue, but it was still functioning. Ellen stood up, pushing her hair back off her face. The humans helped each other; the Cylons looked around, baffled. Cavil's corpse lay on the floor at Bill's feet. Kara and Saul were standing by the tactical station.

"Where did you take us?" Bill asked.

"Sir." Lindstrum over at astrometrics cleared her throat. "We're right over… yes. We're right over a large planetary body."

Kara and Saul looked at each other, and Ellen smiled. "Of course," she said finally. "That's why I couldn't remember the coordinates. I never was any good at music."

"Where are we?" Bill repeated, more because he couldn't believe it.

"It's the planet we were headed for when we found your Cylons," Ellen said sadly. "The planet we were going to settle on. The planet we were going to call Earth."

Chapter Text

Louis looked at the clock. Three hours to go. He clasped his hands behind him, standing in the middle of the main control room of the Cylon baseship.

What the frak was he doing? He didn't know the first thing about this technology, and he was a lieutenant, for frak's sake. Granted, no one had been being promoted recently and he could probably make Captain or even Major at this point based on battle experience, but still…

But even as he quietly panicked, his mind was meticulously planning. In three hours they'd jump to the first set of coordinates on their list, and they'd begin the methodical search for a home. He and Felix had talked about it after Earth; what sort of planet would be best, what features were most important, ways to defend any colony that was begun. He had a list of solar systems with potential, and time to come up with more. Surely they could find something far better than New Caprica. Jesse had already started briefing him on the baseship's systems, and Louis would have the Eight that was working over there explain in more detail. He'd already learned that she had a knack for making the technology easy to understand. Jesse had a meeting with Chief Laird scheduled in a half hour, and they'd work out-

"Sir," a Two said, turning, "a Raptor is approaching."

Ice water rushed through Louis's veins. "A Raptor?" he asked, automatically walking over. But there was no screen to examine, and nothing for him to see. "Do they have a code?"

A Six was listening; he could tell by the tilt of her head. "They have the code," she said. "And there's three Raptors, sir."

"Put the contact on speaker," Louis ordered. The Six smiled at him. "Raptor six twenty three, this is the Baseship actual. Report."

"This is Racetrack, Admiral. I'm sending some coordinates to you. You're to distribute them throughout the Fleet and then when everyone's ready, we're going to start jumping."

"Where are we jumping to?" Louis asked, his heart pounding.

"Don't know what they're calling it yet, sir, but the Galactica is in orbit over a habitable planet."

"The Admiral?"

"He's fine, sir." There was a pause, and he could almost hear Racetrack's smile. "Lieutenant Gaeta is on board as well, sir. As is Lieutenant Conoy's wife."

It seemed like a lifetime ago that he and Racetrack had gone searching and found nothing. Louis closed his eyes for a long moment, willing himself not either cry or jump in the air. "Transmit the coordinates," he finally said. "We'll follow where you lead."

***

The Galactica was quiet again.

The halls were empty as Bill and Ellen helped Saul through them, one on either side of him. The pain in his leg must have been excruciating, but there was no way Saul was going to the infirmary in a less dignified manner. At least, not without Bill knocking him out.

"It doesn't look too bad," Bill assured him for the fifth time. Saul just grunted.

The infirmary was busy, but not as bad as they'd expected. What surprised Bill more was the sight of a Four standing at an operating table, bent over and concentrating as he worked on a human patient.

"Weird to see that," Saul muttered, and Bill nodded.

Sam Anders was apparently helping the Four, although his expression betrayed his confusion. Saul looked down at the patient again and then blinked.

"Bill, is that Jim Brooks?"

Bill looked, and nodded. "I think so. Someone said there was a message from Baltar that they got on…" he trailed off. Saul followed his gaze and saw what he saw.

Helo and Athena were lying side by side, already starting to turn blue.

Ellen raised her hand to her mouth, and Saul's mouth fell open. Bill had to swallow several times, grief constricting his stomach. "Hera make it?" he asked.

"I don't know. I-"

Ishay interrupted. "What do we have, Colonel?" she asked in her normal brisk, brusque manner. In moments she had Saul seated on a bed and was calling for some help. "We'll have to operate right away," she told them, "but I think that we'll be able to save your leg no problem. Admiral, Ellen, if you could just…"

"Of course," Bill said. He closed his fingers around Ellen's arm and pulled her away. But they lingered in the infirmary. "He'll be okay," he said awkwardly to Ellen.

Ellen wiped the tears off the face with the flat of her hand and drew a deep breath. "I know." They were both silent for a long moment. "Any idea of how many people we lost?" Ellen finally asked.

Bill shook his head. "Not yet." The hatch opened, and Bill automatically looked. And when he did, his heart jumped.

Gaius Baltar entered first, carrying Hera. Hera was alive and looked unharmed, although she was crying into his shoulder. Caprica Six was right behind him, looking tired and filthy but with a triumphant gleam in her eye. There were Cylons who had obviously sought refuge- and at the moment Bill was relieved to see several Fours. And finally, bringing up the tail end of the ragged parade, an Eight helped Felix Gaeta into the room. They were both a mess. Dirt, sweat, and blood coated their faces, Gaeta's tanks and rumpled uniform bottoms, and the Eight's overlarge shirt. As Gaeta stepped into the infirmary, he closed his eyes in obvious relief.

Bill approached him swiftly, Ellen a few steps behind him. He caught Gaeta's other elbow and nodded at the Eight. "I'll help him," he told her as kindly as he could. Before she could take offense, Ellen swept her into a huge, relieved hug.

Gaeta looked up at Bill with the oddest expression- almost like he didn't believe what Bill had just done. "Thank you, sir," he said, curiously formal.

"You're welcome. Are you injured?" He helped Gaeta over to a bench and helped him to sit, and then sat down beside him.

Gaeta shook his head. "Nothing serious. Sir, the Four. The one that's over there, working on Brooks. Please, whatever is going to happen next, I promised him clemency." He looked defiant, defensive. Not the eager-to-please officer that Bill remembered from… from when? "He's the one that helped us escape," Gaeta was continuing. "He's the one that saved our lives."

"All right." Bill nodded.

"It's easier to have the people we failed far away from us, isn't it? To never look at them again?"

"Gods, no wonder Felix lost so much faith in you. We argued about it all the time after the Demetrius mission, did you know that?"

I failed you. You lost faith. And yet, here we are.

Bill realized he didn't know the man sitting here beside him. They'd worked together for seven years in the CIC, but he couldn't read Gaeta at all, although at one time he'd been able to. Back when Gaeta had been a young, overeager officer, married to his work and never deviating from regulations, Gaeta had been easy to predict. This man sitting next to him, with half a leg missing, gray in his hair, and eyes that were far too old… Bill was certain he didn't know him at all.

But under it, he saw a spark, saw a flash in Gaeta's eyes. "You came for us," Gaeta finally said. "You really did."

"We did." Bill swallowed. "We should have tried sooner."

Gaeta didn't answer that. He looked far away. "They told me Louis is Admiral?" he said.

"Yes. He wanted to come." Gaeta nodded like it didn't matter, and Bill realized he already knew that.

"President Roslin-" Gaeta began, but Bill cut him off.

"President Zarek," he said roughly. "President Roslin passed away." At the mention of Laura's name, Bill's throat constricted again.

"I'm sorry," Gaeta said, and although Bill knew Gaeta had never been a supporter of Laura, there was empathy in his voice. "You brought the Galactica?" Gaeta finally asked.

Bill nodded. "She's dying, too. We didn't think we'd escape. Wanted to send her out right."

That hit Gaeta, and deeply. He tried to speak, but the words wouldn't come, and Bill knew exactly how he felt. Somehow, seeing it there on Gaeta's face made it so much more real.

They sat beside each other, neither one quite able to speak. And yet, somehow, for the first time since Laura's death and since he'd had to admit to Galactica's state, he felt a small measure of peace.

There were footsteps, and Ishay approached, smiling and wiping her hands. "Admiral?" she said, and Bill stood. Just the look on her face said everything. "The Colonel's out of surgery," she said. "He's going to be fine."

"Thank you," Bill said, relief clear on his face.

Ishay nodded, and then turned to Gaeta. The warmth of her smile increased a little and she extended a hand. "Let's get you checked and settled, Lieutenant. Perhaps even starting with a shower, if you're not injured."

"Gladly," Gaeta said, pulling himself up. He turned to Bill. "I'll brief you more fully later?" he said, and Bill nodded.

"Get yourself taken care of, Mr. Gaeta."

Gaeta nodded, and swallowed hard. "Sir?" he finally said. "Thank you. Thank you for coming for us."

It hurt, to see that gratitude, even under whatever else Gaeta was feeling right now. But Bill knew that his role now was just to smile. Smile, and say, "You're welcome."

Gaeta leaned on Ishay, and Bill went back to where Saul was still sleeping. Somehow, he had the feeling that once they were on that planet below, he wouldn't see much of Gaeta anymore.

***

Felix was starting to feel like the infirmary was a second home.

"I don't need to be down here," he insisted. "I'm fine."

Ishay was not convinced. "Which is why I'm sitting here putting a needle through your skin. Hold still. We're almost done."

Felix subsided, watching her work. It was oddly fascinating to watch the needle pierce his skin, although he had to admit that it made him woozy. He'd had a shower and Ishay had clean clothing waiting for him. It seemed oddly anti-climatic. He grinned sheepishly at Sarah, who was sitting on the bed, wearing a pair of clean BDUs and waiting patiently for him.

"All right," Ishay finally said. "Get out of here for now. But once Cottle gets aboard, he'll want to see both of you."

They walked out of the infirmary towards the hangar deck. Ishay had given Felix a new set of crutches, and he found that right now, walking was incredibly difficult because he was so physically exhausted. Sarah adjusted her steps so she ambled beside him, and every once in a while she reached out and took his elbow to steady him.

"Ishay says Brooks has a shot at pulling through," Felix said awkwardly.

Sarah nodded. "I'm glad."

"Me, too. She also says the Four saved his life."

"He saved all of our lives."

Felix nodded agreement.

"Listen, Gaeta-" Sarah began, but Felix held up a hand and stopped her.

"It's Felix, Sarah."

She blinked. "I'm sorry, what?"

"Felix. My full name is Felix Gaeta." He started limping along again. "It's funny, isn't it? You never call me by my first name, I'm not even sure I know your last name."

"I never took one," Sarah admitted. "Jesse did because the Twos…" she shrugged. "The Twos are different from the Eights. But although I'm married to Jesse, I'm not a Conoy. I'm not a Two. And I certainly didn't want to take the name Valerii, and Agathon obviously wasn't a choice. I never could come up with anything, and it didn't matter much anyway."

"Take Gaeta."

"What?" Sarah said, coming to a stop. Felix nearly ran into her. She reached out and caught him, and then stared at him like she'd never seen him before. "Take Gaeta?" she repeated, incredulously. "But… you and I…"

"Yeah, well, the thing about siblings is that they don't always get along," Felix said with a smile.

"Sarah Gaeta," she tried. "I think I like it."

"I do, too."

They walked companionably to the hangar deck.

The deck was so empty. It seemed to Felix like ghosts flitted about the place, and suddenly he remembered that Chief- Tyrol was dead. And not just Tyrol, but so many others. He heard Cally bickering with Tarn, Jammer laughing and Sonicus coming out from under a Viper, covered in engine grease. He heard Boomer landing, saw Athena and Helo kiss when she returned from a mission, and above it all, he could hear Dee.

When he turned his head, he could see Dee. She was standing in her dress grays, and when he walked by, she saluted, her smile triumphant. And when she disappeared, he had the feeling he wouldn't be seeing her again.

Adama was waiting for them. Felix felt the old, familiar compulsion to straighten his uniform, but even as he began, he wondered why he bothered. But he didn't hate the man standing in front of him- Dee had been right about that. As he approached, Adama extended his hand, and Felix took it.

"Are you ready, Mr. Gaeta?"

"I've been ready for a while now, sir," Felix said. He heard the sounds that indicated that a Raptor was docking, and his heart accelerated. He glanced at Sarah, and she smiled briefly before redirecting her gaze to where the Raptor was going to be.

And then it was there, and Felix could barely swallow.

The Raptor opened, and the first person to step out was Doc Cottle. He nodded to Adama and then immediately headed off, undoubtedly for the sickbay. Deck Chief Laird followed. He moved to the side, scanning the waiting faces intently. Felix was about to say something to Sarah when Tom Zarek climbed out of the Raptor. Tom caught his eye and winked, but he refrained from coming over, and Felix knew why.

A Two climbed out, wearing a Colonial uniform. Next to Felix, Sarah cried out, and then she was running. The Two saw her and his eyes lit up, and he met her in the middle of the hangar deck floor. Then they were hugging, and he was swinging her around jubilantly, both of them laughing with tears running down their faces. Felix watched them, smiling.

And then his eyes moved of their own accord to the Raptor one more time, and his mouth went dry. Louis was standing there, straight in his uniform, the Admiral's stars on his collar. And he was watching Felix.

Felix was suddenly aware of all the eyes on them, and the way that Sarah and Jesse were still embracing, their joy radiating out to warm everyone. The same reaction was obviously expected of them. And yet… he couldn't make himself move.

Louis looked good. His hair had grown out further, and there was something about the set of his face that made him look stronger. His eyes met Felix's, and Felix wondered what he was seeing.

Tom nudged Louis and whispered something to him, and it was like Louis started out of a trance. He started towards Felix, and that was enough to make Felix move as well. They got closer, and Felix wanted nothing more than to just put his arms around Louis. But the crutches made that hard.

"Hey," Louis said. Up close, Felix could see he was about to cry.

"I told you I'd be back," Felix said.

"I've been waiting," Louis said, and his voice cracked.

Felix couldn't help it any longer. He reached out and cupped Louis's face with one hand. As he did, his fingers glanced over a raw, red scar above Louis's eyebrow. "This is new," he said softly.

Louis covered his hand with his, and then turned his face so that he could kiss Felix's open palm. "I have a lot to tell you," he whispered. "But not right now. You're home."

"I am now," Felix agreed. Louis's eyes opened, and he stilled. Felix tried to smile, but a smile seemed to light for this moment.

Tom was watching them. He looked over at Adama. "What," he said, frowning, even as his eyes twinkled. "I don't get a big hug and kiss?" The look on Adama's face was one Felix would treasure for a long time.

It was Tom who saved them. "I believe," he said, "since most of the crew is on other ships, there are some quarters available on Galactica. It would make sense if the new and returning members of our Fleet made themselves comfortable. I'll send for the Quorum and Vice President Sonja Masoor." His eyes flashed at Adama as he said that. "You can start telling us about this planet that we're hovering over, and tomorrow, we all can begin planning."

Adama didn't look at all happy about Zarek's "proposal", but at the same time, there was obviously nothing there he could argue with. He nodded, and Zarek winked at Felix. Not a lascivious, I-know-what-you're-doing sort of wink, but the wink of a co-conspirator.

But it was Louis smiled and winked back. "Come on," he said to Felix, who was staring at him in shock. "Let's go."

***

Lee wasn't sure if he should be wearing his suit or his uniform. The one thing he was sure of, however, was that he needed a shower before the Quorum got there. He entered the officer's head, rather enjoying the fact that it was mostly empty. Only one shower was running.

He stripped down and stepped into a shower, letting the hot water run over him. The soap they had was gritty and had a strong astringent smell to it, but it did the job.

A planet called Earth.

Lee had to admit, he was dying to get down there and see it for himself. From what he could see from up here, it looked beautiful. Scouts were saying uninhabited, but Lee thought it was all the more beautiful for that, because it was a blank slate. A new beginning for everyone. He shut off the water, smiling.

As he climbed out of the shower, he found the other occupant of the head. Kara was sitting on a bench, wrapped in a towel, her hair still wet as she stared at her feet. It was a pose so unlike her that he stopped cold.

"Kara?"

She looked up at him. "Lee."

"You okay?"

Kara didn't really answer. She just looked far away. "Did you hear?" she asked.

"Hear what?"

"Helo's dead."

"Oh." Lee wrapped his towel around his waist and sat down beside her. "Oh, gods, Kara. I'm so sorry." He put an arm around her shoulder, and she leaned in against him.

"Helo's dead," she repeated. "And Athena. And for what? For Hera to grow up an orphan? For the lives of three other people? What was the point, Lee?"

"There's the planet-"

"They didn't have to die for us to find that planet," Kara said angrily. "None of this had to happen for us to find it. It makes no sense, Lee."

"It doesn't," Lee agreed. "But it does fit Roslin's visions of the Opera House, doesn't it?"

"Visions," Kara said sarcastically. "No more visions. No more destinies or quests. Frak it all."

He wished there was something he could say to her, something that would soothe her heart and let her rest. But as he sat beside her, Lee knew that there was nothing he could say. Not just because grief was grief, and no mere words could ever make it go away, but because Kara was, and always had been, so separate from him. He'd liked to believe she wasn't, but it was that belief that had nearly cost him everything that was important to him. Only when he understood Kara and let her have her freedom and space- and let himself have his own life- had Lee had a shot at being truly happy.

It hurt to think that, and he pushed it away.

"Tonight," he told her, "we'll pull out the best whiskey we've got left. And you, and me, and all the pilots, we'll drink to Helo and Athena. We'll give them the kind of send-off that they deserve. It won't make it better, and it won't make anything make any sense, but it will be right. Okay?"

Kara smiled, and for a moment she seemed like herself. But as Lee stood up to pull on his suit, he thought that although Kara hadn't died, she might be as much as a casualty of this last month as Helo and Athena were.

***

The hatch closed behind them, and it was just the two of them. And now, when they were alone, Louis and Felix were able to find their way into each other's arms without hesitation, without reservation.

Felix's head was on his shoulder, and his arms were tight around him. Louis closed his eyes, holding tight, not willing to let go. He felt Felix shaking, and tears streaked his own face.

"I love you," he heard Felix whisper, before anything else could be said.

Louis had waited months to hear those words, not commenting on it because he didn't want to push too far, too fast. And he'd waited months to say them himself. But he couldn't, not until Felix knew everything, and until Felix said all he needed to say. Reluctantly, he pulled away.

"Sit down," he ordered Felix, albeit gently. "We need to talk."

***

"Colonel," Sarah said yet again, fingering Jesse's uniform which was now lying on the floor.

"It's a token promotion," Jesse laughed, running a hand over her back.

"Actually, it's more the idea of you in the Colonial Fleet, but…"

"You disapprove?" Jesse asked, and Sarah thought she saw a shade of worry. She shook her head.

"No. Blue looks good on you." She hugged the pillow. "It just seems… well, it's quite a coincidence, isn't it? You becoming such good friends with Louis while I was on the Colony with Gae- with Felix." The name was still unfamiliar on her tongue.

"Not really. More just a coincidence that Louis and I met when we did, that we met with open minds." Jesse lay back, folding his arms under his head. "We're very much alike, actually. What's Felix like?"

Sarah considered that. "Honest," she said finally. "In his way. Very idealistic. Very sarcastic. Very wedded to his beliefs, and very uncompromising."

Jesse smiled. "Sounds like someone else I know."

She hadn't realized it before, but now that Jesse said it, she realized it was true. "I guess." Her stomach was starting to feel uncomfortable, so she shifted to her side. She was just beginning to show, and the small bulge seemed alien to her. But Jesse's hand automatically moved down her side to her abdomen. Sarah sighed. "I wish I'd been able to tell you."

"I wish you had, too," Jesse agreed. "But I'll give you a pass this time. If we have another child, though, I'd better hear the words straight from your lips."

Another child. Sarah shivered. "Let's get through this one, first."

"We will," Jesse said, with the steadfast confidence that had made her fall in love with him in the first place. He kissed her gently. "We'll find our place on this planet, we'll build a home, and we'll make a life for ourselves."

Sarah couldn't help smiling. "As long as I have you, I believe it," she told him, and she snuggled back into his arms. "I love you."

"I love you, too."

***

Despite the hour, the Quorum was in full swing. But then, Bill thought, they'd been snug at the rendezvous point, not off on a suicide mission. And the mission had succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

"I've got people asking to go down already," Jacob Cantrell was saying. "People are eager to see this one for themselves."

"Really? The people I've talked to have been worried. After New Caprica and Earth…"

"We already know it's not like Earth," Zarek cut in smoothly. "The scouts have reassured us that the planet, while appearing uninhabited by any civilized life, is extremely habitable. And to prove it…" he reached under the table, and with a typical dramatic flourish, pulled out a bowl of apples.

Silence descended over the table as they all eyed the fruit.

"It's quite real, I assure you," Zarek said. He tossed an apple to Bill, who wondered how the frak the man had managed to get it so fast. As if he heard Bill's thoughts, Zarek smiled smugly. "Lieutenant McCall and Ensign Edmondson were lucky enough to happen across these, and kind enough to share with us all. The planet has life. But more than that, it is comparable to the worlds that we once inhabited. This is not a New Caprica, where we would have to huddle in tents to guard from the cold, and barely eke out any sort of existence. This is a planet where humanity can thrive and flourish."

"But the Cylons-" the Tauron representative began.

"The Cylons will no longer be a threat," Bill said. He crunched into Zarek's apple. The juice was just the right balance of tart and sweet, and the fruit was crisp. It was heaven made real.

"They were all destroyed?"

"Not all of them," Bill admitted. "But those that joined us assure us that the loss of the Colony- in addition to the destruction of the Resurrection Hub- means that the Cylons that still bear ill will against us will not be a serious threat."

Cantrell looked at Sonja. "What about the Cylons that have joined us?"

Sonja smiled. "I think we will continue," she said. "As you've all heard by now, the Eight that we rescued from the Colony is pregnant, and Ishay Layne has confirmed that the pregnancy remains healthy. But we've also gotten news that a Six is pregnant as well, although this is a very recent development. Dr. Baltar believes that the destruction of the Hub and our acceptance of mortality has allowed us to procreate."

"Oh." Cantrell looked like he didn't quite know what to do with that news, but he apparently settled on the polite response. "Congratulations." He leaned forward and took an apple from the bowl. Zarek grinned triumphantly.

"I suppose there's no use in pretending," the Tauron representative said. "Just the lure of food alone…" Cantrell passed the bowl to her. "We've got to roll the hard six sometime and plant ourselves somewhere. At least here, if the Cylons find us again we have a chance of dying happy."

"What about the Centurions?" someone asked.

Sonja nodded. "We're giving the baseship to the Centurions. They have no use for Earth, and they wish to be free. It's for the best."

They continued on much in the same vein, but Bill found that his eyelids were growing heavy, and he knew he'd fall asleep if he stayed at the meeting. Confident that he wouldn't be missed, Bill edged out of the conference room.

When he was back in his study, he realized that the thought of this planet they were calling Earth didn't excite him at all. He took another bite of his apple and sat down at his desk. It should, but all he could see was long days of work ahead, establishing a settlement, making sure the people were safe.

No lighthouses this time. There was a report that said there was no tyllium to be found, so the ships would be useless after a while. Just as well, he supposed. They had no more real food, limited supplies, and a ragged and tired group of people. Gaeta had told him that they'd eaten better as prisoners of war on the Cylon baseship than they had here with their people. That, more than anything, told Bill this was the journey's end.

The dying leader will suffer a wasting disease and will not live to see the new land.

There was a picture of Laura on his desk. He set down his apple and picked up the frame, touching her cheek gently. "It's not the same without you," he said softly. "But thank you. Thank you all the same."

***

Cottle was not happy about it, but Saul didn't give a frak. He eased himself into the wheelchair.

"It's a chair, Doc," he said, despite the fact he could feel the pain in his leg over the painkillers he'd been given. "The man was tortured for information for over a month and never broke, and took a bullet in the gut to save fourteen lives. The least I can do is go see how he is in person."

"Fine," Cottle said, lighting his cigarette. "But I'm going to say I told you so when you get back."

"You do that," Saul said. He looked up at Ellen. "Let's go, before I pass out."

It wasn't far, just the other side of the infirmary. Saul couldn't tell if Brooks was awake or not, but he saw the Four sitting in a chair nearby, his head resting on his hand as he dozed, his blood-splattered lab coat hanging behind him. On a chair next to him, Hera slept, curled into a little ball of misery.

As they approached, Brooks' eyes fluttered open. "Colonel?"

"How are you doing, Specialist?"

Brooks blinked. "Guess I'm alive," he finally said. "Can't complain about that."

"No, you can't," Saul agreed. He looked over at the Four. "Funny," he said. "Ellen tells me that a messenger that looked like the Four saved us on Earth."

"Messengers from the gods," Brooks said, mustering a smile. "Wish I'd gotten to see one. Suppose it's good I'm not seeing one now." A related thought seemed to strike him. "How are Gaeta and Sarah?"

"They're fine. Out of the infirmary already, although Cottle's about to round Sarah back up and get her ass back down here." Tigh glanced over at where the Four and Hera slept on. "See you've had company."

"Yeah," Brooks said. "Lots, actually. Gaeta and Sarah were here, and Chief Laird… but Hera hasn't wanted to leave. Can't blame her, really." He was quiet for a moment, and then nodded. "He hasn't, either."

Saul nodded. He had to admit, even the small motion made him a little woozy, and the room spun a bit. Above him, Ellen made an exasperated noise.

"I hate to do this, Jim," she said, "but he needs to get back to bed."

"I'm fine," Saul tried to deny, but Brooks just gave Ellen a weak smile.

"It's okay. They've been giving me something. Good stuff. I'm gonna have to get Gaeta to tell me how to kick it." He smiled at Ellen like it was some sort of private joke, and closed his eyes.

"Come on, Saul," Ellen said.

As they left, Saul's eye fell on Hera again. "Sad, isn't it?" he asked Ellen. "They wanted so badly to rescue her, and they still…" he shook his head.

"It doesn't matter," Ellen said firmly. "They were willing to die for it, to know that their daughter was safe. I would, too."

"Easy enough for you to say," Saul muttered. "You remember." But he had the feeling that if it had been Kara on that ship, he would have done exactly what Helo had done.

Maybe.

He closed his eyes.

***

"Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

An awkward kiss, and Felix had settled himself against Louis, his back against Louis's chest. Nestled together, they'd finally been able to relax. It wasn't that the feelings had changed, Felix knew that. But too much had been said on both sides for them to take it all in. So a simple goodnight, a kiss that wasn't quite right, and the promise of sleep, because once they were rested they could wake up and begin to sort out their life.

And he'd fallen asleep, far easier than he thought he would, because Louis's arm around him was safety, and his breath on his neck was comfort.

But now it was two thirty five in the morning, with four hours passed in sleep. And Louis's hand was moving on his hip, and Felix was only half awake. But half awake was all he needed to be. He turned over to face Louis, and this kiss was anything but awkward.

One kiss turned to many, to clothing stripped away and to whispered names. No hesitation, just skin against skin, body against body. Louis's back under his hands, Louis's mouth on his throat… they moved together, Louis inside him. And when it was over they lingered, forehead to forehead and not letting go.

"I love you," Louis whispered, and it was the first time he'd said it.

And here in the darkness and the safety and the comfort, Felix could answer him the way Louis had always wanted him to.

"I love you, too."

***

Gaius leaned over the samples, making a careful incision. He peeled away the hard shell cautiously at first, but soon found that cautious wasn't going to cut it. With a sigh, he glanced around, realized no one was in his lab, took out a hammer and smashed the damn thing. Red juice splattered onto his coat, and Gaius sighed. But he pulled the fruit apart and looked inside.

Hundreds of little red berries winked back at him. He plucked a few out and put them into a mortar, and then crushed them up with a pestle. A sweet smell wafted up, and Gaius desperately hoped they weren't poisonous. Just a few tests and then-

There was a knock on his lab door. He looked up to see Caprica Six standing there, and for a moment, he forgot about the fruit on the table.

"Caprica," he said, standing up. "It's lovely to see you. What brings you here?"

"The Admiral wants you in his study," Caprica said, but she was clearly distracted by the fruit. "What is that?"

"I'm not sure," Gaius admitted. "One of the scouts brought it up, along with some other plants that looked edible. Some of them were recognizable, but there were a few we'd never seen before. I'm just testing it to see if it's poisonous." He smiled. "And frankly, I hope not, because it smells delicious. If the Admiral can wait just one moment…"

Caprica shrugged.

Gaius found the right reagents and pipetted a few drops of the juice into test tubes. "It won't take long," he said. "The tests for toxicity are quite simple, really, and just a matter of color change. You know, there's something else I've meant to speak to you about, before I bring it up to the Admiral."

"Yes?" Caprica said warily.

Gaius looked up from his work to gauge her reaction to his words. "If I said Opera House…" and there it was, the intake of breath as she stiffened.

"What do you know about the Opera House?" she demanded.

He put down the bottle and the pipette he was using. "The Opera House," he repeated. "I've been having visions of it, and I know that Laura Roslin and Sharon Agathon did as well. Visions where Hera ran out into the open, and they tried to save her, but they couldn't. But you and I picked her up, and carried her into the doors of the Opera House. If you replace Laura Roslin with Specialist Brooks, does that sound at all familiar?"

Caprica nodded. "I didn't say anything because the situation seemed a little too coincidental, but…" she bit her lip.

"What?" he urged her to continue. He stood up and came around the table, taking her hands. She didn't pull away. "You can tell me," he said. "With the things I've seen since this journey began, I would believe anything."

She glanced over his shoulder, and on instinct, he turned around. And there was the other version of himself, smirking at them both. And the Six, leaning against the Baltar's shoulder. He glared at them, because this was the last thing he needed right now, and then turned back to Caprica. She was still watching, and it dawned on him. "Wait, you can see them?"

Her eyes widened. "You can, too?"

"It must mean something, right?" he said. He turned back around, and they were gone. "She's always told me that Hera was our child, and that we- that I was to treat her as my own, protect her… And that's what that vision meant, isn't it? When the time came, you and I were meant to have Hera."

"I thought so, too," Caprica whispered.

"Well, then." Gaius took her hand. "She's in Cottle's care right now. We'll go get her, and you and I, we'll convince the Admiral together."

***

"Are you out of your frakking mind?" Cottle demanded.

"You would like to think that, wouldn't you?" Baltar sighed, and Sarah wondered if he'd always been this dramatic. She thought that he might have, especially if the fact that Caprica Six didn't even blink an eyelash at these histrionics was any sort of indication. She just wished she hadn't chosen to play this particular drama out in the middle of an infirmary while Cottle himself finally examined her.

"Look," Cottle said, lighting up a cigarette. Caprica Six glared at him, and took the cigarette from him. Cottle simply pulled out another. "It's bad enough that you're bursting in on me when I'm with a patient, particularly during a procedure where she might appreciate a little privacy. But then to tell me that messengers from the gods have told you that you two bozos take a defenseless child out into the wild down there… just go away."

"But Doctor-"

"You don't think the Agathons were stupid enough not to leave a will, do you?" Cottle said. "Now get out of here, before I use these on you." He brandished the scapula at Baltar, and Sarah couldn't help grinning. Caprica Six rolled her eyes, grabbed Baltar by the arm, and pulled him out, whispering something in his ear.

"If you do manage to use them on him, can I watch?" Sarah asked, and Cottle snorted appreciatively. But he looked worried. "Is everything okay?" Sarah asked.

"With you and the baby? It looks like it."

"What about Hera?" she asked, laying back and putting her feet back up in the stirrups.

Cottle quickly finished the examination before he answered. "You'll hear soon enough, I'm sure," he said. "The Agathons did leave a will. The only problem is, the couple they wanted to take Hera was Amy Sian and Abel Thornton. Amy was killed as a hostage, and Abel died in the CIC on the rescue mission."

"Oh."

"They had a child as well, but their child was to be left to Lee Adama and his wife."

"But she's dead, isn't she?" Sarah asked, shivering.

"She is. Lee's going to have his hands full enough with one child." Cottle sighed, and then pulled over the ultrasound machine. He raised Sarah's gown up and covered her legs with a blanket. "It's got to be handled just right, or it's got potential to cause a lot of problems with your people." He slicked up the probe and began the ultrasound.

Sarah lay back, her mind half on her child, half on Hera. Cottle was right about the delicacy of it, and unfortunately, there were no human-Cylon couples that she knew of to take the child over. She wondered if the humans truly attached as much importance to Hera as the Cylons did. Judging by how Gaeta and Brooks had treated her, she guessed not. She sighed, and then looked at the ultrasound screen.

"Is it still too early to tell if it's a boy or a girl?" she asked.

"Still too early. Looks healthy, though." Cottle flipped the switch. "You're going to need to be extremely careful down on Earth. If you don't know what a plant is, don't eat it, especially any herbs. You'll need to avoid alcohol- I'm sure there will be some- and whatever people find to smoke, don't smoke it. There are things that might not be toxic to you but could potentially harm your baby. However we settle this place, make sure you stay near me for awhile. If your pregnancy continues healthy, you may have a very easy delivery, but Athena's was anything but, so keep that in your mind."

"All right." Sarah liked Cottle very much, with his gruff, direct, practical way of dealing with things. She suspected that staying near him would be easy enough.

After she dressed, she headed over to where Brooks was staying. He looked much better today, and was even sitting in a chair, sipping some broth. Hera was sitting beside him, coloring.

"You look good," Sarah said with surprise.

"Yeah, well… Todd does good work."

"Todd?" Sarah asked, raising her eyebrows.

Brooks glanced at Hera. "Her idea. Apparently, that's the name of one of the daycare workers or the kids in the daycare or something. But he decided that 'the Four' isn't exactly the kind of thing he wants humans calling him, and Simon has some nasty memories attached."

"I see."

"Yeah, I hear you do, Sarah Gaeta."

She sat down on the bed. "What's going on with her?" she asked, jerking her chin at Hera. Hera paused and looked at Sarah with wide eyes, and then went back to her coloring.

"She wanted to visit," Brooks said. "And I'm not going to say no to the company."

"Can I ask you something?" Sarah said suddenly, because the answer was suddenly so clear and so obvious.

"Go ahead."

"Would you ever remarry?"

Brooks considered as he took a sip of his broth. "I don't know," he admitted. "Tough question right now."

"I know."

"It's not impossible," he finally said. "But I tend to doubt it. There are only so many women left, and I…" he smiled self-deprecatingly. "Let's just say I'm not the guy to draw all the girls to me. Why do you ask?"

"I was just curious."

The curtain was pushed aside, and the medic who had first examined Sarah when she'd come onboard Galactica entered. "Specialist? I need to check your vitals."

Sarah stood. "I'll see you later," she said hastily, and left the infirmary.

She'd wondered what she was going to do with herself once she was done with her appointment. Jesse was apparently with Louis, supervising some scouting mission. And the Four- Todd- she corrected herself- was supposedly helping Felix with some rehabilitation exercises, under the guidance of a therapist on another ship. She didn't feel like searching out the other Cylons on the ship, and she didn't feel comfortable among the humans. But now she had a purpose, and she headed towards the Admiral's study and knocked on the hatch.

"Come in."

Adama was sitting at his desk, looking at a map of the planet that spun below them. Sarah had rarely had occasion to see the Admiral up close, but even she recognized that the man had aged greatly. But he smiled at her, and put aside his papers. "Have a seat," he invited her. He studied her carefully, taking in the sweats that she'd borrowed from the storerooms, and nodded. "You're Sarah, aren't you?"

"Yes."

"I thought so. How are you feeling?"

"I'm fine. I just came from the sickbay, and your doctor said that the pregnancy was fine."

"I'm glad to hear it. What can I do for you, Sarah?"

"It's about Hera Agathon."

Adama sighed. "I've already talked to Sonja," he said. "Or rather, Sonja's talked to me. She's made the Cylon position clear."

"Perhaps she has," Sarah agreed. "But I'm not here about the Cylon position. I have a name to put forward to you."

Adama sat back. "If it's you and Lieutenant Conoy or Lieutenant Gaeta and Admiral Hoshi, believe me, both options have been considered."

"Are you joking?" Sarah said, drawing back. "Admiral, I'm having a baby in five months. There is absolutely no way I can adjust to a toddler first. And Felix and Louis… I wouldn't hand them a child right now either. They're both going to be frakked up for a long while."

Adama cocked his head in interest. "Then who are you proposing?"

"Jim Brooks."

Adama blinked slowly, his expression full of disapproval. "I'm curious why you reject the idea of Felix Gaeta but are willing to put a child in the hands of a man who underwent many of the same trials."

Sarah shook her head, looking him straight in the eye. "It's not the torture that worries me, although I suppose it should. But back on New Caprica…" she bit her lip and looked away. She'd done her best not to think of the sister that had brought them to the Colony- of Todd's Eight- for a long time. "There was an Eight," she said finally. "An Eight that targeted Gaeta. She… she got names out of him, people that were in detention and that he wanted released. And then she would use those lists as targets. If they were important to Gaeta, they must be important to the Resistance. So she killed them. Or most of them, anyway. She let a few go so he'd believe that she was doing what she said."

Adama winced.

"Felix… I don't know if he really figured out what was going on, or if… he was hallucinating. A lot. He said he saw a messenger of God, in the form of one of his friends that had died on Galactica, and she told him all this. She told him other things, too, things that make me think that either he was telling the truth, like that the Eight was pregnant and miscarried once we were back on the baseship. The Four that was with us, he confirmed it. Anyway, I know Gaeta well enough now to know that that… that's gong to drive him crazy for a while."

"It will," Adama agreed. "And Brooks didn't go through that. That makes sense, at least. But why Brooks over anyone else? I don't think he even really knew the Agathons."

Sarah swallowed hard. "Did you know that he had a family back on Tauron? Two little boys. The oldest one was seven."

Adama closed his eyes. "You can't replace a child, Sarah. It doesn't work that way."

"Of course it doesn't," she agreed. "But I watched him with her, and he was so good with her. He was so gentle and so… he would be good. And you know, for all that he hates the Cylons- and he does- he understands us better than any other human I've spoken to.

"Athena wouldn't want her child raised by Cylons. I know that. And Hera is wary of any Eight anyway, after what Boomer did to her. But she wouldn't want her to be raised without regard for that, either. Brooks wouldn't try to replace what Hera's lost, and he might even… I don't know. But it could work."

Adama rubbed his chin. "If I talk to Brooks," he said, "will you present this to the Cylons and get them to accept it?"

"Yes."

"All right then. When he's better, I'll talk to Brooks."

Sarah stood up. "Thank you, sir," she said.

"Sarah?" Adama said as she began to leave.

"Yes?"

"Did you know what they were doing to Gaeta during the occupation?"

"I did," Sarah admitted. "I almost got boxed over it."

"Boxed?"

"They asked me to do it first, and I said no. Even in war, there are lines, Admiral. I know. I crossed enough of them."

"That there are. I'll consider your proposal, Sarah."

"Thank you." She walked out with a smile.

***

The scouting mission had returned with incredibly exciting news. Felix was a little surprised to be included in the meeting, but he supposed it had something to do with the fact that Louis still wore the Admiral's stars. He and Tigh commandeered the chairs, while Louis, Ellen, Adama, Lee, Baltar, Sonja, and President Zarek stood around the table.

"Imagine," Lee said, looking at the pictures spread across the table's surface. "What are the odds that humanity would evolve so similarly on another planet?"

Tom picked up a picture, studied it, and set it down again. "Any idea of how widespread these humanoids are?"

"As near as we can tell, they've been spotted on this land mass, and this one over here," Adama said, pointing to two of them. "But that doesn't mean that they aren't on the others. When we build a city-"

"No," Lee said suddenly. "No cities."

"What?" Tom looked at Lee like he was crazy. "What do you mean, no cities?"

"'This has all happened before, and it will all happen again'," Lee quoted. "Or so we're told. But what if we can break the cycle? What if we can strip away the worst in us, and only leave the best?"

"I don't see how that relates to cities," Tom said.

"New Caprica," Ellen said archly.

Tom shook his head. "We've been over this," he said. "New Caprica had a lot of problems," he avoided looking directly at anyone, "but the fact we tried to build a city was not one of them. Cities exist for a reason. It makes survival easier, particularly when people are in possession of different skills sets. Anyone not want to live near a doctor?"

"It's not cities," Lee explained. "It's technology. We let our technology reach beyond what we can control. We did it. The Cylons did it. And cities… humans living together like that… they breed technology."

"So you're proposing we do away with technology all together?" Sonja asked incredulously.

Before Lee could answer, Felix spoke up. "Maybe not all together," he said, because he had an idea what Lee meant. "But we're going to have to scale back to a lower technological level, there's no question about that. I can plot a jump from here to anywhere, but I couldn't tell you the first thing about how to build a toilet paper plant. There are only thirty-nine thousand of us left. The technological standard we've been used to can't be maintained. But that doesn't mean we have to live like savages."

"What do you propose, Lieutenant Gaeta?" Tom asked.

Felix pulled the map towards him. "Look at these pictures." He caught Baltar's eye, and Baltar leaned over as well. "The natives are clearly extremely primitive. They've begun grasping the basics of human civilization- there's an approximation of clothing and very simplistic tools- but judging by their attire, I'm guessing that they aren't all that evolved yet."

Gaius nodded. "See the slope and width of the forehead here?" he asked. "That's very similar to what we called the Cro-Magnon peoples. And the way they dress…"

"We could bring them culture," Lee pointed out. "Bring them language and art and-"

Felix and Gaius exchanged glances, and above Felix, Louis snorted. "It's not that simple," Felix explained patiently. "Look, first, you're assuming that they've evolved to our point, and what Dr. Baltar is pointing out is that they have not. It's not a matter of them being ignorant or stupid, it's a matter of what they are capable of understanding. And even if they have evolved to the point where communication is possible, the frame of reference is completely different."

"This is all, of course, assuming they don't consider you a threat and spear you on sight," Gaius pointed out. "Which, being a primitive people, they very likely will. In fact, these Cro-Magnons might be one of the greater threats we've yet to discover on this planet. They aren't ape men who are going to be held in awe by our shiny technology and fall to worship us."

"All right, all right. I get the picture," Lee said. "So what do you recommend?"

"There's a large island right here," Felix said, pointing to the eighth largest mass on the map. "It's in a temperate zone, and it's close enough to this large land mass that anyone who wanted to settle elsewhere could. The reports that have come back indicate that there's a large amount of game and plantlife, and although it's early autumn there, there are plenty of building materials available. And there have been no reports of these humans there. It would be an ideal place to settle, out of the way of the life evolving here, plenty of natural resources, and room for people to spread out as far as they wish."

"We'll present it to the Quorum," Tom said.

"And we'll send more scouts to gather information about that area specifically," Adama agreed. He sighed. "It sounds strange, but we may have found our home."

***

It hurt to fly out of the Galactica, even knowing that he would return. But each time someone left, a little more of Galactica left with them, and someday soon there would be nothing floating in space. The old girl would be cannibalized, every bit of her used to sustain this new life. Bill tried not to think about it as he landed his Viper on what had become the landing field.

He climbed out, and Lee waved to him. He had a little girl on one hip, and Bill suddenly remembered that for all intents and purposes, he was a grandfather now. His step lightened.

"Nice landing," Lee shouted. He stood easy and confident in his BDUs, the wind blowing at his hair. Bill smiled.

"Thanks. Reminds me of my thousandth landing."

"Back on the Atlantia?" Lee asked.

"Yeah."

Lee snorted. "Sentimental," he laughed. "But then, they are looking for a name for this place. Zarek's rejected any of the Colony names."

"Really?"

"You look shocked."

"I agree with Zarek on something. That's reason enough to be shocked." Bill looked at Nora again. He was certain he'd never really seen the child before, but she was a ball of round pink cheeks, bright red hair, and large, inquisitive eyes. "How are you settling in with her?"

"We're doing all right," Lee said, although the circles under his eyes told the story that he wasn't sleeping much. "It will take time."

"It will." Bill sighed. "I was always nervous landing. Not overly nervous, but a little bit. I think the reason I remember that thousandth landing was because that I thought that this was it- after I'd done a thousand, it would all go away."

"Did it?"

"Nope. And it was just as well, because on the thousand and fourteenth landing, I almost crashed. That was the lesson of the Altantia for me. No matter how comfortable you get, no matter how many times you do it, you need to stay on guard. It wasn't a bad thing." Lee huffed. "What?" Bill asked.

"You might have just found the name Zarek's been looking for," Lee said. "Atlantis."

***

Days turned into weeks. Slowly, people began moving down to the planet. Louis couldn't blame them; he was eager enough himself. But it made more sense for himself and Felix to stay on the Galactica, at least until everything was a little more settled, and until Felix became more confident on his prosthetic.

But Louis couldn't deny that he loved it every time his duties took him down to the planet. He'd tried to return the Admiral's stars to Adama, but Adama had refused. He was tired, Louis could see that, and he couldn't blame the man. They'd finally compromised; Adama wore one star, Louis wore the other. But they both knew that neither of them would wear them much longer.

He stepped out of the Raptor into the wind. The weather was still warm enough that the wind felt good, and he smiled. As he stepped down, he caught sight of Jesse waving.

"I have something I have to show you," Jesse said excitedly. "Come on. You have to see this."

They walked together past the tents and the fledgling buildings, past frameworks and through sawdust. They walked out past the fields that were being paced out and plowed, even though no one was quite sure what anyone would be planting in them come spring. Jesse led them up the river to a spot where a creek fed in, and followed the smaller stream. Louis tagged along obediently.

"How's Felix doing?" Jesse asked as they walked.

"All right," Louis said. "He has his ups and his downs, but we expected that."

"And you?"

Louis shrugged. "I have my ups and downs, too," he admitted.

"Have you found some sort of…?" Jesse trailed off, unsure of how to phrase it.

"In the oddest place," Louis admitted. Jesse arched his eyebrows. "Tom Zarek."

"Fine," Jesse laughed. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."

The thing was, it was true, although Louis could well understand Jesse's disbelief. But he wasn't willing to go into details, and Jesse didn't push him. "Come on," Jesse finally said. "We're just about there."

They really hadn't gone that far from the main settlement, but it felt like it. They were in a glade of trees, and all Louis could hear was the rustling of leaves and the chirps of birdsong. Then they rounded a corner, and Jesse didn't have to say a word- Louis saw it. His mouth fell open.

"You see it?" Jesse asked. "It wasn't just a projection. It was a vision."

Louis batted at his wet eyes. "It…" The banks, the trees, the autumn colors and the clear water… it was exactly like what Jesse had shown him, right down to the boulder.

"I was thinking," Jesse said as Louis continued to stare, "there's room for one house on the one side of the bank, and a house on the other side."

"And a bridge to connect them," Louis agreed. "Have you shown Sarah?"

"Not yet. Somehow, it felt right to show you first."

Louis nodded. "Let me get Felix down here," he said finally, still staring at the spot. "We'll show them together."

***

"And we could build our house near the city, if you want, or further out," Sam said, as he and Kara walked over the landing site. Already there were people moving about, organizing, and tents and shelters had been erected. There was a forest on the horizon, and Kara was looking at it. "I know we talked about a cabin further out on New Caprica. Jesse says the forest is beautiful."

"I believe it."

"There's a river. We could be near that, if you wanted. Do you have any idea what you'll do?"

Kara turned towards him. "Yes."

Sam raised his eyebrows, surprised. "What?" he asked eagerly.

"I'm not staying."

The thing was, if Sam was really honest with himself, he wasn't surprised. He thought about trying to argue, but Kara's face, although sad, was set. "What are you going to do?" he asked instead.

Kara shrugged. "It's a huge world, Sam. I want to see it. I want to climb mountains, I want to see the canyons… but I don't want to stay in one place."

"Who's going with you?" Sam asked.

"You mean is Lee going with me?" Kara asked, smirking. "No, he's staying here. He's invested in Atlantis, and he's got Nora. And it's just as well."

"And if I were to offer to come with you…"

Kara sighed heavily. "We weren't happy on Earth, Sam. Not really. You might be a lot like my father, but I don't think I was ever much like my mother."

"Probably not," Sam admitted. Ellen might stray, but she wanted that security. Kara didn't. Sam touched her face. "I'll be waiting, though."

"Sam… I'm not coming back."

"It doesn't matter. I'll still be waiting." Sam smiled at her. "Good luck, Kara."

"Yeah," she said, nodding. "Good luck to you, too."

***

Seeing Kara off was harder than Saul thought it would be. Ellen hugged her tightly, but then, Ellen could remember what the past had been like.

"I wish I could tell you to write or to call," Ellen said. "Just… if you ever do come back this way, drop by."

"I will." Kara turned to Saul.

A little girl with pigtails on a bike. "I can do it, Daddy. Let go."

A girl running down the street, eager to get to school.

A teenager, her eyes ringed in black, climbing onto a train and waving goodbye with a nonchalance that didn't quite cover her nervousness.

A woman in a graduation gown, tossing her mortarboard into the air.

A woman in a white dress, laughing on the arm of a man that seemed made for her, waving as they left.

A woman screaming as Cavil held her down, and then looking at Saul like she didn't know him at all.

And every time, his heart had broken a little bit more.

Saul cleared his throat, and then cleared it again. He couldn't remember much, but he could remember this: he had to let her go. He couldn't let her see, because this was what Kara was meant to be, and it was the greatest gift he could give her.

She hugged him. It still felt as foreign as it had when she'd hugged him that day on New Caprica, but at the same time it must have happened so many times before. He hugged her back awkwardly.

"Take care of the Old Man," Kara said.

"You know we will."

"And take care of Sam," she whispered. "And Lee."

"They'll be fine," Saul reassured her. And they would be. Kara pulled away and he let her, smiling at her as she picked up her pack.

"I will come back this way some day," she promised. "For a visit."

"You do that," Saul said. "But before that… see your world, Kara."

"I will."

She began to walk off, and Saul stood helplessly, leaning on his cane. Ellen leaned her head against his shoulder, and together they stood, watching their daughter walk off into the sunset.

Chapter Text

The boat had long since touched the shore, and Kara was starting to grow tired. It was a good sort of tired, but knowing that her goal was so close… she would be ready to rest well tonight. She sniffed the wind, and she was sure she smelled smoke.

She came over the hill, and saw two cabins nestled into the hillside. There were people outside. She peered at them anxiously, but realized that she didn't know any of them. One of them spotted her and waved, although as she got closer his welcoming expression leeched off his face, replaced by shock.

"Am I far from the city?" she asked as she approached.

"It's only about two miles from here," the man told her, and Kara was pretty sure she knew him. "Good gods, what happened to you? Did you get lost?"

"No," Kara said. "Not at all."

"Well, come on in," he said. "You'll want to clean up before you head into town."

For a second Kara considered arguing, but it was hard to say no, and she followed him into the cabin.

It was a log cabin, but it was far from rudimentary. There was some sort of power generation; the lights testified to that. The man led her in.

"My name is Hamish McCall," he told her.

Kara stared. "Skulls?" she said incredulously. He did a double take.

"Starbuck! Of course! Gods, I should have known." His face split into a smile. "Now it makes sense."

"What are you doing living all the way out here?" Kara asked. She looked around at the inside of his cabin. The furniture was rough, but there were signs of civilization: a blanket draped over fabric cushions on what approximated a couch, pots and a skillet hanging from hooks near a cooking unit, and best of all, running water. Kara hadn't realized how long it had really been until he opened a door to a bathroom and she saw the bathtub that he set to filling.

"Just living." He was rummaging in a cabinet and came up with a lump of soap. "After we got everything settled, I just didn't want to be around people so much. Too many memories, too many…" he made a face and shook his head, and Kara realized that it wasn't just memories of loss, but other things that he didn't want to talk about. "I'm happier here, on my farm, out of the city but still nearby. It's peaceful."

Kara nodded.

"Well, I'll leave you to it," Skulls said. "Let me know if you need anything."

She had a clean set of clothing in her pack, and as she looked at the worn, frayed fabric, she wondered again just how much progress they had made in the city. It was an exciting thought, and she couldn't wait to find out. But for right now, just the warm water in the metal tub and the novelty of being indoors was enough.

She emerged to find Skulls setting a table with bread, cheese, and sliced meat, as well as some fruit. Her stomach churned, but she eyed it warily. "I'm not shorting you, am I?" she asked nervously.

Skulls laughed. "Not at all," he said. "Atlantis has done well."

They spent an hour together, talking about the settlement. Kara didn't ask about any specific people, and Skulls must have noticed it, as he didn't volunteer information. He was a very restful person to talk to these days, Kara decided, and she was glad she had happened across him first, as she dipped her toe back into civilization. But she was still eager to say goodbye and continue on her way.

"Just go down that road there," he told her, pointing down the well worn path. "It will take you right into the town." He hesitated. "Are you looking for anyone in particular?"

"The Admiral," Kara admitted.

"Of course." Skulls blinked as he thought. "Well, Hoshi's most likely in the schoolhouse right now. But I assume you're looking for Adama… not really sure where he'd be."

"Thank you," Kara said. She hesitated, and decided not to ask anything more about either of them. "Thank you," she repeated, and then headed down the road.

As she walked, she passed roads branching off, and she saw other houses. They were nothing like anything she remembered from Caprica. Most were small structures of wood or stone, although she spotted fuel cell powered generators outside, and as she neared the city, signs of plumbing and more advanced transportation. The roads weren't paved, but were packed dirt.

The city was nothing like what she had imagined, and nothing like New Caprica. It looked more like something from the history books, with carved stone, pillars, and steps. A lot of white, some buildings with more grace in their structure, and a mosaic motif.

"Excuse me," she asked a woman. "Can you tell me where the schoolhouse is?" She knew no better place to start looking for people she knew.

The woman pointed out a building. It was low and flat, and it looked like it contained several rooms. There was a playground in the back, and a set of pyramid courts. Kara settled on a swing, waiting.

Eventually a bell rang, and teenagers began to pour out of the building. As she watched, two men followed them, one of them talking to a student as they bent over a piece of paper, the other waving to two girls as they ran off giggling. He turned towards Kara and did a double take, glanced at his students, and then came over. He had curly hair streaked with gray and wore a dark green jacket. As he approached, Kara noticed he had a slight limp, and as he got even closer, she noticed he wore a silver ring on his left hand.

"You're probably the last person I expected to see first," she told him as he came into earshot. "Hello, Gaeta."

"Hello, Starbuck."

"Teaching math?"

"More science and history. Louis is handling math and reading. What brings you here?"

"I promised I'd visit. How long have I been gone?"

Felix raised his eyebrows as he thought for a second. "I think about ten years."

"You're shitting me." But he wasn't. The evidence was there in the lines by his eyes and the ease of his gait. She shook her head.

"If you hang around until the younger class dismisses, you'll find Adama," Gaeta said. "He always comes to get his granddaughter."

"Granddaughter?" Kara laughed.

"Nora," Gaeta reminded her. He turned as the other teacher approached, and Kara was in no way surprised to recognize Louis Hoshi. Age had agreed with him, and she also had figured that he'd be wearing a ring that matched Gaeta's. "Evan should start school… next year, I think?" he asked Louis.

"Next year," Louis confirmed. "And Abby in three."

"Who'd Lee marry?" Kara asked incredulously.

"Don't think you'd know her," Hoshi said. "Her name is Ariana DeWitt. She was on the Outlander."

Kara shook her head, but before she could speak another bell rang, and another class dismissed. She didn't recognize any of the teachers, but a boy came running over to Gaeta and Hoshi. "Yours?" she asked, as the boy hugged Hoshi first. He had dark hair and light skin, brown eyes and a shy smile.

"No," Hoshi smiled, ruffling the boy's hair. "This is Gabriel Gaeta-Conoy, our godson. Gabriel, this is Kara. She's…" he struggled, and then shook his head. "Your parents will explain later." Kara nodded absently, but she was anxiously scanning the faces of the parents waiting to pick the students up.

And there he was.

The Old Man had no idea that she was there, and Kara wondered if he'd even recognize her. But then, both Gaeta and Hoshi had recognized her easily enough. She gave them a nod and walked over, waiting as a redhaired girl hugged Adama. She noticed a little boy standing beside him, and a little girl in a sort of stroller.

"What do you hear, sir?" she heard herself saying.

Adama looked up, and his mouth fell open. Kara smirked at him and then found herself in a tight, warm hug that hadn't changed despite all the years that had passed.

"You did come back," Adama said when he pulled away. "Saul said you would. How've you been, Kara?"

"Good," she said. She glanced significantly around the town. "Looks like the place is doing well. How about you?"

"I'm surviving," he answered, but the light in his eye and the gentle hand on Evan's shoulder said that Adama was doing a lot more than just surviving.

The bell rang again, and Adama pointed. "You're going to want to turn around," he said, watching her.

The youngest class was dismissing, and one of the teachers was helping a little girl with her jacket. Kara knew who he was before he even looked up.

"Sam," she said.

And then she began to laugh.

***

It had been a party, and it exceeded Kara's expectations. So many faces, so many people that she'd remembered had dropped in as the rumor of her return had spread.

She'd stayed with her parents. Her father looked older, but he looked so much more at peace, even than he had in the memories she'd recovered of Earth. And her mother was gray now, but there was a new serenity about her that Kara was quite sure she'd never seen. The two of them owned a bar, which was absolutely no shock to anyone, least of all her. And through the night, it seemed everyone from Galactica dropped in.

Lee and Ariana came, although Ariana left early to put their offspring to bed. She was a small, plump woman with a beautiful smile, nothing like Kara and far more like Dee. Lee seemed happier than he ever had in the entire time that Kara had known him, settled and grounded and working as a representative to the government. Tom Zarek had retired, he told her, at least in name, and had married Racetrack, which caused Kara to nearly fall off her stool from laughing so hard. They had two children, Lee said, and it really was quite a riot to see Zarek fuss over them. Racetrack dropped in for a while, and it wasn't until late that night that Kara remembered the mutiny and the hostages.

Brendan Costanza came in as well, bringing Nicky, who had stars in his eyes as he shook Kara's hand, and didn't stop staring at her the entire time he was there. Kara wondered what HotDog had told his son about her, but decided it was safer not to ask.

"He's dating," HotDog confided with a groan. "And you know who he's seeing? Hera Agathon-Brooks.

"Agathon-Brooks?" Kara asked, sipping her beer. (If nothing else, it was worth coming to Atlantis just for beer again.)

"Yeah. Jim Brooks adopted her, and he and Todd- the Four that helped us get her off the Colony- they've been raising her together. Not together-together," HotDog clarified, and Kara realized some things would never change, "but they just decided it was best as one family. They live out by the stream over that way," he gestured, "near Gaeta and Hoshi, and the Zareks, and Reverend Conoy and Doctor Gaeta."

Kara blinked. "Reverend Conoy and Doctor Gaeta?"

Adama was listening, and he nodded. "Jesse Conoy," he reminded Kara. She remembered the Two that had joined the Fleet. "He's the priest. Doctor Gaeta is the Eight that we rescued from the Colony. She worked with Cottle. They have three children now."

"How is Cottle?" Kara asked, and Adama's face darkened.

"He passed away last year."

"Oh." That one hit Kara rather hard, because Cottle was the sort of person you never thought of dying. Like Tigh, like Adama himself. Like… she snorted.

"What ever happened to Dr. Baltar?" she asked.

"There you go," HotDog said, gesturing to where Baltar was standing near the bar, talking animatedly to several women. "Some things never change."

"He lives out further. Has a farm," Adama said. "He married Caprica Six, and they've got four kids."

"Oh, gods save us all," Kara said.

"Tell me about it," Adama laughed. And before she could answer, someone began playing music. He smiled. "Excuse me," he said. "I see a beautiful girl that needs a dance partner." He went over to where Lee was shepherding his children, and then took to the floor with Nora.

A lifetime ago, Kara had danced on New Caprica. But right now she was content to sit and watch the couples spin across the floor. They wove back and forth together, forming patterns in their dance.

"It's beautiful to watch, isn't it?" someone said, and she turned to see Sam sitting beside her.

"It is," she agreed. "When we landed… I really didn't know what would become of us. It's so wonderful to see so much life going on."

Sam smiled, leaning his forearms against the table. He still had the same easy confidence that she'd always loved in him, and he looked at peace. "So where have you been, Kara?" he asked. "I'm dying to hear all about it."

"No place like this, that's for sure," Kara said. "I've got a ton of sketches and maps for… well, who would I give them to? The Admiral?"

Sam shrugged. "He'd be interested to see them," he said. "I think everyone would. You'll have a lot to tell us, I'm sure."

"Mmm." It was warm in here, warm and crowded and loud. Nothing like the majestic dark silences and the openness all around her, things that Kara had grown very used to in the past ten years.

Sam was still watching her. "You're not staying long, are you, Kara?" Kara smiled. Sam had always known her better than anyone else. "In that case," he said, extending an arm, "how about a dance?"

"I'd love to."

They joined the dancers on the floor- Lee and his wife, Saul and Ellen spinning enthusiastically. Adama dancing with his grandchildren, first spinning Abby and then Evan, and then dancing properly with Nora. Zarek and Racetrack, laughing at Gaeta and Hoshi, who were still completely graceless dancers but so obviously happy. Hera and Nick, dancing awkwardly, alternating between rapid chatter and supposedly meaningful silences. Gaius Baltar and Caprica Six, far more adept than most of the couples on the floor. Jim Brooks dancing with Sarah Gaeta, and Todd Brooks and Jesse Conoy chatting on the sidelines with Gabriel and what was obviously his younger sister, while a little girl sat on Jesse's lap. People she didn't know or vaguely remembered, all laughing, all living.

Kara and Sam melded into the pattern, into the music and the laughter and the happiness.