The planet smells like home.
Not home-home, Caprica; the air here is different, clearer, not that polluted, more humid maybe. There is something in it that makes Kara think back to childhood, though; some almost-forgotten holidays, whose smell became forever associated with how home should smell like in her brain.
She takes another deep breath, leans against her Viper, and then starts giggling uncontrollably.
She's found frakking Earth.
"We live in a time strangely full of signs from heaven, a time when many people believe the gods are talking directly to them," Gaius Baltar wrote in the year of the Fleet's landing on Earth.
Four centuries later, in a time devoid of signs from heaven, you question the fundaments of what became the great religions of Earth. They are built on coincidences and conjectures, you say, on desperate need to find deeper meaning in the events which had none the such.
And – you are right, this is exactly how it is and how it always has been, since the days of the early tribes of Kobol, described in your Pythia (and appropriated from the Cylon holy texts). Religions have always been built on scraps of reality, wrapped into layers after layers of interpretation.
These are the facts: after over three years of travelling through space, the Fleet made its landing on Earth.
Everything else is interpretation.
You know these interpretations as well as I do. One school of thought is that those were the ones chosen by God, or by gods, and this is why they survived. This is defied by the fatalists, who claim that those were the condemned: the worst sinners, whose survival was their punishment, their hell before death.
Either might be true. Neither has to be. They were people, you would say; some better, some worse. There were humans and Cylons among them – this is all we know for sure.
In one of his lesser known texts Leoben Conoy suggests that it was God's wrath that made the Fleet see the Earth barren and destroyed by radiation. "God wanted us to go to Earth," he wrote. "God told us, time and time again, to follow her on the way to Earth. And we did everything so as not to hear."
She has probably never spent so much time on her own as she does on Earth. She goes for long, solitary walks through the remains of the city and the forest; sometimes she stays away for hours, and when she comes back, she wants to immediately set out again. Somehow, these trips keep her from thinking about – everything, really; and from falling apart completely.
Only once does her solitude get interrupted. She stands at the riverbank, watching the rusty spans of a bridge long fallen apart rise from the waves, when she hears the sound of steps on gravel.
"Devastating, isn't it?"
At first, Kara doesn't think of answering. She looks at the person approaching out of the corner of her eye, and with mild surprise recognizes the blonde Cylon woman. She would have thought that she – Number Six, Caprica, they are supposed to treat all of them as fellows now – was up on one of the ships. The last Kara heard, they told her to stay there and protect her child from exposure to radiation.
"Frakked up, more like," Kara says, eventually.
The Six tilts her head to a side, looking thoughtful. She is wearing a beautiful coat in a dark shade of red; though why would she go out like that into all this dirt, Kara has no idea.
"Devastating," she repeats. "You hand them Earth on a plate, promise it to be the land of milk and honey, and when they finally dignify themselves to set the course… this."
"Don't talk to me like you could understand," Kara says, not even bothering to raise her voice. Since she set foot on Earth again, she's been finding it increasingly hard to get angry at people – to feel anything but overwhelming - not disappointment, even; exhaustion. She has believed so hard in Earth; there is nothing she could believe in anymore.
"I'm sorry," the Six says and she sounds almost sympathetically. "But I can tell you that although they are not worthy, they will be able to survive here. Earth will become the humanity's new home."
"Yeah, right. You weren't there when the Hybrid told me that I would lead them to their end."
This, of course, leads to metaphysical rambling; the one thing the Cylons can be counted on to provide.
"Sometimes an end equals a beginning, and you need to destroy before you can create. Things repeat in patterns. Even the universe does."
"Everything has happened before," Kara says. It should be funny. It's not.
The Six comes closer. Kara doesn't move, even when the other woman's long coat almost brushes her leg.
"You are the saviour of the humanity, Kara Thrace. They may never understand it, but this is the truth of what you are."
Kara sighs deeply, and treads the butt of her cigarette into the ground.
"Frakking philosophers, all of you," she murmurs, and, turning around without a word of explanation, she heads off for another walk. The Six doesn't try to stop her, and Kara doesn't care to turn around and see for how long she stands there, alone by the bridge.
When Kara sees her next, a few days before getting into her Viper and flying away, the Cylon woman doesn't remember any of their conversation.
Leoben Conoy was among the first to claim that this God he would later write about so excessively in his texts walked among us, and that we knew this God as Kara Thrace. We all know his arguments: obscure references he found in Pythia, a passage here, a paragraph there, a parable or two between other descriptions. The knowledge hidden in the Cylon programming. The visions in dreams, hidden sense in the Hybrid's ramblings. The whole scope of this argument doesn't bear repeating; the main concept was the following: the God would come, live among us, die for our sake, and then return to lead us to the promised land.
These are the facts: Kara Thrace flew into the eye of the storm and died. She came back after three months, claiming to know the way to Earth. She eventually did lead all of us there, aided by three of the Final Five Cylons. And forty days after our landing, she got into her Viper, flew away into the sky in her Viper and disappeared forever.
These are the facts confirmed by all accounts of Kara Thrace's life. There are a few photographs left; a few recordings of her voice from her flying missions; a handful of the pictures that she painted. There are four biographies which are thought canonical, two written by human authors, and two – by the Cylons.
Circumstantial evidence, you say.
They play the recording of this for centuries, an almost-tangible proof of Kara Thrace's divinity:
"Nothing but the rain," says the Hybrid at the end of a rapid stream of random sentences, and her face is suddenly softened by a beatific smile.
She doesn't utter another word for decades afterwards.
It is twelve days after Kara Thrace's departure.
Obviously, Kara didn't become known as God overnight. It happened gradually, the Cylons – though not all of us, not even after these four centuries – coming to the conclusion first, you, more set in your ways, less inclined to take visions for facts, following. At first, you venerated Kara Thrace as the heroine who led us to Earth. The following generations took it one step further, worshipping in her the one chosen for the task by gods; and then came the generation that, having once more carefully analyzed the texts, grew convinced that Kara Thrace indeed was God incarnated. And in the end your generation arrived, asking questions.
Why not Gaius Baltar, you asked. Why was he only named a prophet, when he was the one to preach love of God? Why not Laura Roslin? She was the one whose visions marked the first step on the way to Earth. Why not anyone else from the Fleet?
I am convinced – and I've said it many times before – that Kara was the only person nobody, neither you nor us could ever get a good grasp on. We'd explained away Baltar (madness) and Roslin (Chamalla), but never Kara's return to the Fleet.
She was not a Cylon, that we knew for sure. And yet, I saw her die and then come back, as alive as she ever was. This defied rational thinking; this almost made one believe in miracles, and in the existence of gods, God, or at least a kind of a higher power.
In those four centuries I've had more than enough time to think it over and I've taken to believe that indeed, there may be a higher power out there. However, it's a higher power that has a rather cruel sense of humour and enjoys playing with us. Thus, the destruction of the Colonies, the long journey through space, the empty Earth, Kara's divinity: all a big cosmic joke at our expense.
This is why I came to believe that Kara may have been God.
Nobody else had a sense of humour that sick.
Humanity lasts about a thousand years. When the last humans (or human-Cylon hybrids, to be more precise) die, the Earth is covered in forests and green fields, once more a beautiful green-and-blue planet.
The Cylons persist beyond that. Some live in groups, some on their own, in the great cities and the little towns. Individuality is a disease that cannot be cured, they say sometimes.
The ships begin to come from space one day in spring. Their arrival is heralded by a small white vessel, which lands on the seaside.
A young woman gets out, and takes off her helmet. She stands on the shore for a time, allowing the breeze to mess with her hair. Then she begins to giggle.
She's found frakking Earth.