Colonial Heavy 798 was full of confused, upset people, gathered in groups or sitting alone. The sadness and horror permeated the air, and Sharon found it hard to breathe. She had to wait another fifteen minutes before her Raptor would be done refueling, so she prowled the group, examining the faces of the passengers.
"Are you all right?" Sharon asked, sitting down next to the priest with the elaborate embroidery and strained face. "You're not looking so good."
"Of course I'm not. From what I understand, the entirety of humanity has just been destroyed." The woman saw Sharon's face and softened. "I'm sorry. I realize you weren't asking like that."
"I wasn't. But I've seen you talking to the other passengers on the ship, trying to give them hope. And no one ever asks the priest."
The woman chuckled. "No, they don't. Perhaps that's why you took me by surprise. Or maybe I just felt like being honest for a change." She extended her hand. "My name is Elosha."
"Lieutenant Sharon Valerii."
"You've been helping the Secretary gather together the ships, am I right?" Sharon nodded. "How many do we have so far?"
"Forty-seven. We might still be able to find a few more." Sharon found herself desperately wanting to offer hope to this woman. "When we came up, we brought back some kids from Caprica."
"Children?" Elosha looked up.
Sharon nodded. "Kids that were trying to get away. We figured that we could at least give them a chance."
Elosha closed her eyes. "That's something." She opened them. "We?"
"My ECO. Helo." Sharon's throat closed. "He stayed on Caprica. He gave up his seat…." She broke off, wondering if Helo was dead yet, and how he had died.
Elosha saw the expression on Sharon's face and covered her hand with her own. "I'll pray for him." Her smile was sour. "Not that I can be sure that any gods are listening."
"Thank you." Sharon wasn't sure she cared about gods or prayers, but someone else remembering Helo was a good thing. And it was the right response to that statement. She hesitated, uncertain of what she should say next. She was saved by the arrival of another passenger, wearing a grief stricken expression and in obvious need of comfort. "I'll let you…" Sharon began, then trailed off because get back to work didn't seem like the right thing to say.
Elosha nodded, and Sharon drifted away. Her Raptor would be about ready, and she no idea of what was going to happen next. But the connection left her feeling renewed in some way, like she'd found a well of strength or hope that she didn't know was in her.
Eventually life settled down for the Fleet, but not for Sharon. The unease inside her rose and fell like the waves of the ocean, tossing her about at unexpected times, after unexpected events. Cylon. The word was burned into her brain, no matter how much she didn't want it to be.
She saw Elosha regularly, often at Laura Roslin's side. She thought about talking to her, and once even made it as far as Colonial One. But the idea of saying the words out loud- even into the confidence of a priest- made her blood run cold. She couldn't. Some things were just too big.
Then it turned out she was a Cylon, and she was glad she'd never said a word.
The next time Sharon saw Elosha was on New Caprica. New Caprica, where nothing went as planned. A mire of muck and cold and disappointment.
The temple was only a tent, like almost everything else on this plant. Sharon found it early on, a week after they came. She was standing outside when Elosha wheeled out and stopped still. They stared at each other for a long time. Sharon was so horrified that Elosha was missing her legs that at first she didn't notice the expression on the other woman's face. Then she did, and it was pure disgust and hatred. Sharon drew back, and Elosha turned around and went back into the tent.
Sharon shook her head and headed back up to Colonial One. She found Caprica inside sitting at a table in a conference room, a cup of coffee in her hands.
"Is there more?"
"In the pot." As always, Caprica seemed happy to see her. She looked so unruffled, so at peace. Sharon poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down beside her. The coffee was weak.
"This place isn't much like we imagined," Sharon said.
Caprica nodded. "It's all right. The place isn't what's important. It's the mission."
"That's not quite what I meant." Sharon set her cup down and stared into it. "They hate us."
"It will change," Caprica said, radiating confidence. "It's God's plan. We'll be able to change everything."
"But what if we can't? What if this fails?"
Caprica shook her head, glancing at the door as if a Cavil would overhear it. "That won't happen. It can't happen."
Sharon agreed with that, because the Cavils had made their opinions known. "It might not be so easy," she tried.
"No, it won't." Caprica at least agreed with that. "I never thought that it would be. It will take time. But we can overcome our obstacles and exist together, in a new love." She looked at Sharon. "You still believe that, right?"
"Right," Sharon reassured her. "Of course." Caprica's smile was all warmth, and there was none of the doubt Sharon was already feeling. Sharon wondered if she would feel that way again.
Somehow, she suspected she wouldn’t.
"Their lives here are so pathetic," Doral griped as he sat on the table in Colonial One. "Substandard foodstuffs, barely habitable housing, no means of production, minimal hygiene, and let's not even discuss the luxury supplies. You would think that anything we do for them would be met with gratitude."
"Hold still," Simon told him, working on stitching his forehead. "Sharon, how's your arm?"
Sharon lifted the compress on the cut. "It looks like the bleeding is stopping."
"Good. Keep the pressure on and I'll check it in a minute. You're lucky that wasn't deeper, or I'd be stitching you up next. What exactly happened again?"
"It was the humans." Doral rolled his eyes expressively. "Like I said, you would think they'd be grateful."
"We were handing out supplies," Sharon clarified. "There was resistance."
"So don't hand out supplies." To Simon, it was simple. "That will teach them."
"We can't do that," Sharon said.
"Why not? If they aren't grateful for what we have to give, let them learn how it is to go without it."
"They know how it feels to go without. It's not that simple."
Doral and Simon exchanged glances, and Sharon didn't need to be in the data stream to know what they were thinking. "They will come around," Doral said. "We just might need to guide them."
Simon nodded as he finished his stitches. "You'll see. Some things must be more explicit to be taught. Now, let me take a better look at that cut."
Sharon let him look, not sure that she had an argument. At least, not an argument that they would listen to. And really, when supplies were greeted with rocks and jeers, what were they supposed to do? How were they supposed to make things work, to live together in peace? Sharon just let Simon treat her wound in silence.
The temple was just a tent, a tent with an altar. Not a holy place. It didn't call to her. Sharon didn't believe in the Gods. But she found herself entering one day, drawn by a force she didn't want to understand.
Elosha looked up from her prayers, startled, and then closed her eyes again, as if pretending she was deep in ritual might make Sharon go away. Sharon didn't. She stood by the entrance, hands folded in front of her, and waited.
"Are you going to shoot me?" Elosha asked, not opening her eyes.
"Personally, I think it would be a waste of a bullet, but that doesn't seem to bother you lot like it would us. You do have a bit of a monopoly on the infinite." Elosha opened her eyes. "I know you," she said finally. "You're the one who used to serve on Galactica"
"How did you know that?"
"It's in the way you stand. Like a soldier. And the fact you came here to see me. Cylons leave the temples alone. It's part of the agreement." Elosha gave her a stern look.
"I'm not here to make trouble. I promise."
"Are you armed?"
Sharon shook her head. "No."
Elosha considered her. "Then what did you come here for?"
"I came looking for answers."
"And you think I have them? Are you ever in for a disappointment." Elosha wheeled over to a desk. "But since you're here, maybe you can give me some answers. Like why are you here?"
"Why?" Sharon was surprised at this. "Because it's God's plan."
"So you say." Elosha snorted. "How do you know?"
"Because Caprica believes it so devoutly. And because… well, maybe it is. Humans and Cylons are tied up together, somehow. Is it so wrong to hope we can live in peace?" Sharon asked anxiously.
"Is it so wrong?" Elosha shook her head. "You know, the Sacred Scrolls give a very definitive answer to that. And you're right. According to them, it's not wrong. 'When you forgive those who have sinned against you, the Gods will forgive your sins.' ''Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other as the Gods forgive you.' 'Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and be holy; without holiness one cannot see the Gods.' Yes, the Scrolls are pretty clear on the matter, aren't they? Problem is, the Scrolls are a whole lot of theory."
Sharon's heart sank. "But you're a priest."
"I'm a human. A human who watched you and yours bomb the frak out of me and mine. You think I'm going to be ready to forgive you any time soon?"
"I haven't asked you to," Sharon said, her heart sinking.
"I'm well aware of that." Elosha's voice was stiff. She rifled through the papers on her desk. "So what answers are you looking for?"
"If your Gods and our God have a plan for us to live in peace, why can't we? Why is New Caprica such a mess? I just don't understand."
Elosha laughed hollowly, and Sharon's stomach clenched in response and her eyes teared up in frustration. Elosha stopped laughing.
"You really don't understand, do you?"
"Would I ask if I did?"
"No, I suppose you wouldn't." Elosha fell silent, contemplating Sharon. "You'll forgive me if I'm not too excited to answer your question," she said finally. "But the Cylons seem keen to toss anyone who offers criticism into the detention center."
"I told you, I'm not here for that. I just want to know."
Elosha sighed. "Well, in the off chance it might some good, I'll tell you. You lot have shown up and demanded love, demanded peace. The world doesn't work like that."
"But you just said the Scrolls-"
"The Scrolls say we should live in peace, not that we should lay down and be doormats." Elosha glared at her, but the glare lacked the utter heat and disgust it had held earlier. "For peace, there has to be forgiveness. And that isn't coming any time soon." There was a noise outside the tent, and both women stiffened. "That sounds like Centurions."
It was. They were marching through the streets, people stepping to the sides, heads ducked and looking away. Parents pulled children closer and people shrank in on themselves, as if the Centurions could see some unseen guilt.
"They're just walking," Sharon said.
"And people have every reason to believe they might pull out those guns and start shooting."
Sharon opened her mouth to say they wouldn't, but the memory of Doral and Simon and their conviction that humans needed to be taught stole the words from her. Elosha fixed her with a knowing gaze, and then said, "You'd better go. It sounds like they might be looking for you."
They were doing nothing of the sort, but Sharon realized Elosha was telling her that her time was up. She nodded, and then left without saying another word.
For peace, there has to be forgiveness. And that isn't coming any time soon. Well, Elosha had that right. Sharon was starting to wonder if this was the worst idea she'd ever had.
She returned to Elosha's tent four days later. "I've thought a lot about what you said," she said without preamble. "When you said forgiveness is not forthcoming, you didn't mean the Cylons forgiving the humans, did you?"
"You lived among us," Elosha said, pretending she was paying more attention to the knitting she was doing rather than Sharon. "What do you think?"
Sharon bit her lip. "I don't know what to say to that."
Sharon moved her mind away from that. The subject of their plan, of revenge on humanity left her horribly unsettled anymore. They had been wrong, and she knew it. "Forgiveness," she said, turning the word over on her tongue. "How do you forgive someone for something so heinous?"
Elosha raised her eyebrows. "You've never forgiven?"
"Well, no. I suppose I have." Sharon thought of arguments with pilots and small offenses, bickerings from a happier time in her life. People that she loved and let things slide. "But those were easy."
Elosha nodded. "Sometimes forgiveness is easy, when the transgressions are small."
"And when they're not?"
Elosha sighed. "Forgiveness," she said slowly and deliberately, in the tone of a quotation, "is when you have every reason to hate someone, to be furious over what they've done, and yet, you can wish them well."
"Wish them well," Sharon repeated skeptically. "That's it?"
"You try it sometime, tell me how well it works for you."
Sharon thought about that, about deeper hurts. She remembered a slug in her gut and her life draining out of her, Cally's face in front of her. "No. I guess it wouldn't be so easy."
Elosha shrugged. "We're meant to try. Damned if I know how sometimes, though."
Sharon looked down at Elosha's legs. "Do you hate whoever did that to you?"
"This? This happened on Kobol. The price in blood. I was just lucky that they got me out of there in time. This is one thing I don't think I can hate any one person or group of people for."
"Not even then Gods?"
Elosha stared at her for a moment in surprise and then chuckled. "All right. Maybe them. But we work on it. And that's enough for today, Ms. Valerii. You'd better get on back to where you're meant to be."
Sharon nodded. But before she left, she turned and asked, "Could I come again, another day?"
"I can't stop you, can I? You have us by the throat." But she didn't seem as repulsed by the idea as she had the last time, or even when Sharon had showed up today. Sharon decided to take that as something like assent, and left. She felt a little bit better, but she didn't know quite why.
It became a weekly pilgrimage for her, her visit to Elosha. On the fifth visit, Elosha had a pot of tea waiting, and even greeted Sharon with something like a smile.
"I thought about going to see you," Elosha told her.
"What, up to Colonial One?" Sharon was alarmed. She did not like the idea of Elosha up there, among the Cavils and the Dorals and the Simons.
"No. No, definitely not that," Elosha chuckled. "Way back. After the attacks, for one. The story of your co-pilot stayed with me, you know. But then after you shot Adama." Sharon's mouth fell open. "They told me you did not know you were a Cylon, and I believed that. I'd followed reports of you when they appeared in the Fleet News, because I remembered you. You helped find ships, you helped find water, you'd blown up the basestar. And I thought that you must be in so much pain. But, like everyone, I was angry. And so I found plenty of reasons not to go." She leaned her chin on her hand. "I wonder what might have been different if I had gone."
Sharon closed her mouth and thought about that. "Nothing," she said. "I'm still a Cylon. That wouldn't have changed. Everything I did that you want changed, I did before I knew that fact."
"Except New Caprica."
"I know you don't believe it, but New Caprica wasn't meant to be like this. We wanted to build something together."
Elosha raised her eyebrows. "It's a funny way of showing that."
"I can't stop them all. As much as I want to, I can't."
"I guess so." Elosha pressed her lips together in a way Sharon was coming to meant she was leading her someplace, but wanted to figure it out for herself. But she wasn't sure what conclusion Elosha meant for her to reach.
"It would be a lot easier if you just told me what you wanted to me to know," Sharon said irritably.
"I didn't think it took much to figure it out."
Sharon sighed. "You don't understand. I am speaking up. I'm doing what I can to stop the others, but I just don't have enough support. I can't single-handedly stop this occupation from going the way it is."
"No, I suppose you can't."
"I'm not even sure why you care. The Gods-"
"Is that what you think?" Elosha asked. "That I'm trying to convert you? To bring you to the Gods?"
"It would be kind of ambitious of me, wouldn't it? To try to convert someone in power over me who tells me she's here because of a message from her own God?"
Sharon couldn't help laughing. "Then what are you doing?"
"Just talking," Elosha said with a shrug. "You come here and we talk. You search for peace, I stay alive and maybe I have a chance to make someone up in Colonial One listen. That's all."
Sharon was shrewd enough to see that Elosha wasn't telling her the whole truth. But later, much later, she realized that that was Elosha's first leap of faith, her first sign of trusting Sharon not to shut her in detention for daring to keep her silence.
"What are you doing with those?" Caprica asked, watching Sharon move some crates onto a child's wagon.
"Moving them," Sharon said succinctly.
"I see that. To where?" Caprica frowned. "I thought they were bound for a distribution center."
"You know what happens at the distribution centers. There are people going without rations."
Caprica pressed her lips together and nodded. "Do you need help?"
"No. I'm fine."
"All right." She hesitated. "Be careful," she said, stepping closer. "Cavil's not happy with either of us."
"I know," Sharon said grimly. "But this is something I have to do."
She brought them to Elosha's tent. "What's all this?" Elosha asked, surveying the three crates Sharon had pilfered.
"Rations," Sharon explained. "People won't take them if I try to hand them out. But they will take them from you."
Elosha just smiled.
New Caprica was like sand slipping through her fingers. Sharon tried everything she could think of, but nothing worked. Nothing made the situation better. The other Cylons wouldn't listen to her, the humans wanted nothing to do with her, and the only two friends she had were Caprica and Elosha.
"I don't know what we can do," Sharon said to Caprica in a moment of frustration. "They won't listen."
"All we can do is to keep trying," Caprica said. Caprica, and her unwavering faith that she was doing the right thing, no matter what.
"Do you ever wonder if we were wrong?" Sharon asked her. "If God didn't want us here?"
"Why would I wonder that?"
"Because the humans sure don't."
Caprica shook her head. "We can make this work, Sharon. Just remember that. God will work with us- it's His plan."
Sharon didn't say so, but she wasn't so sure she believed in God anymore. Especially when the humans began the bombings.
Sharon had seen war. She'd seen genocide, from both sides. She wasn't sure if what she'd seen made her understand, or if this was just so much worse than anything she'd ever seen before, but regardless, the suicide bombings ate away at her, corroding her faith and her belief in this alliance.
"It makes me want to give up," Sharon admitted to Elosha. "That much hate… that much anger. Why am I even trying?"
"Why are you? Why have you been?" Elosha asked her. "That's a question only you can answer, Sharon."
"I'm not sure I know the answer."
"You do," Elosha said, with as much confidence as Caprica possessed. "You might not want to see it, but you do know the answer. Or you never would have come here in the first place."
"Here to New Caprica? Or here to you?"
"You can answer that one yourself."
She lay in her bed, eyes closed, remembering. Remembering her false memories that had been part of her program, memories that didn't feel real compared to ones she had lived. Remembering life on Galactica. Kara's laugh, Racetrack's smirk, Galen's smile. Being a part of a family, just as much as she was among the Cylons. Adama's faith, the pilots' fraternity… all of the best of humanity. And the worst. There had been so much bad among the humans, but so much good, so much life.
Sharon had never been more confused.
"Still think we're being too soft on them?" Cavil asked.
"I still think we're going about it the wrong way," Sharon said firmly. "Like I've said a million times."
"Yes, and it's getting rather tiresome to listen to it." Cavil rubbed his temple. "I thought you'd had enough of being an outsider, but it seems like you enjoy being a thorn in everyone's side."
"Must be a trait I picked up from humanity," Sharon said bitterly.
"Seems like it. Not a good trait for a Cylon, though." Cavil leaned in closer. "It's the kind of thing that could get you boxed."
Sharon drew back in surprise. "Are you threatening me?" she challenged him.
Cavil's eyebrows went up. "I'm sorry. Was I unclear? Of course I'm threatening you. Was stupidity something else you picked up?"
"You can't do that," Sharon said.
"Oh really? I beg to differ. I'm quite sure I can. You think you're being so smart and none of us know what you're doing, playing good Samaritan and giving out cute little food packages and visiting children and whatever else you're doing. And we've let you, because frankly, it keeps you quiet. But when you start interfering with the consensus, it's got to stop."
"And that's how we're achieving consensus now? Threatening to box anyone who disagrees?" Sharon wasn't sure if she should take this seriously or not. "What about Caprica?"
"There are other ways of controlling her. And she knows where to toe the line. You don't. And don't pretend you don't know that there's been talk of this before."
Her blood ran cold, because yes, he was serious. And Sharon had no reason to doubt he'd do exactly as he said. "I'll remember that," she said evenly.
"See that you do. We're done here." With one last warning look, Cavil left.
Sharon took a deep breath, calming her nerves. The stakes had just gotten even higher, and she was going to have to figure this out fast.
She visited Elosha the day after the third suicide bombing. "I think I understand," she said.
Elosha raised her eyebrows. "What do you understand?"
"Why I've been so miserable on New Caprica, and why it's so confusing. I'm caught between humans and Cylons. They're both a part of me, but they can't live together."
"Doesn't seem like it, does it? Do you think you can pick a side?"
"I think I could. But I don't think they'd pick me."
Elosha stared at the altar for a long moment. "Did I ever tell you how I ended up at the monastery?"
Sharon shook her head. "No."
"I was what you'd call a wild child. A rebel. Or, to put a fine point on it, a juvenile delinquent. I can't say I had a good reason for it, either. But if there was trouble to be found, I was there."
"Really?" Sharon laughed. "I can't see that."
"It's true. In the end, the judge gave me an option- a JD center or the church. I picked the church."
"Because of your faith?"
"No. Because they did drugs at the monastery." Sharon laughed again, but Elosha didn't, and Sharon's laughter faded.
"I'm very serious. I didn't come to the Gods easily. They pulled me along, kicking and screaming. They still do, in fact. And the monks didn't exactly want me there, either."
"So why did you stay?" Sharon asked.
"Because in the end, I found out what the right answer was for me. And that was the only answer that mattered. That judge, the monks, even the Gods… their opinion didn't matter. I couldn't rest until I'd found my own way. And that's what you need to do, too. Pick your side, Sharon. Not for the Cylons or the humans or for me, but because you know what you need in your soul."
"And then?" Sharon asked.
"Then, once you do, everything else will become clear," Elosha predicted. "I know it will."
Forgiveness is when you have every reason to hate someone, to be furious over what they've done, and yet, you can wish them well. Elosha had told her that months ago. It had stayed in the recesses of Sharon's mind, turning over like a puzzle piece she was just waiting to use. And now it clicked into place. If she wanted to pick a side, the first thing she had to do was forgive. And unfortunately, she knew just where to start.
Cally was on the floor, angry, dirty, and obviously in pain, although Sharon could see no obvious injury. She looked up when Sharon said her name, hate in her eyes. "Are you all right?" Sharon asked her.
"They haven't touched me, if that's what you're asking," Cally said bitterly.
"Good." Sharon came in and knelt down in front of Cally. "I'm going to get you out of here."
Cally's eyes widened, but then narrowed. "Why? Why would you do that?"
"Because I need to."
"It's Galen, isn't it?" Cally asked, with the expression of someone touching an open wound. "He won't love you, you know."
"I don't expect him to. I'm not doing this for him. I'm doing this for you," Sharon said. "And for me."
"What do you get out of this?"
"You don't need to know that. Now come on. I'm going to have to cuff you, but I swear to you, I am taking you to safety."
Cally considered her for a long moment, and Sharon knew was weighing her options. "All right," Cally said, extending her hands. "But I don't trust you."
"You don't need to," Sharon said, wrapping a flex cuff around Cally's wrists. "But I am telling the truth."
"So. Cally Henderson Tyrol apparently managed to escape from her cell," Cavil told her the next day.
Sharon raised her chin. "So?"
"Just Cally Tyrol. Wouldn't have thought she'd have it in her."
"She was an engineer of sorts," Sharon said, trying to keep her voice even. "Maybe she managed to figure a way out."
Cavil goggled at her. "You really do think I'm stupid, don't you?"
"No. I just thought I'd try." Sharon sighed. "What are you going to do?"
"We've got an empty cell," Cavil said, grinning. "I think the problem solves itself."
She knew she wouldn't be in this cell long. She'd seen the plans, seen the preliminary lists, and knew that Cally's name was on it. She knew what Cavil intended for her. So when she was taken to the truck with the others, she was in no way surprised. Execution. And when she downloaded, she had no doubt that she would be boxed.
Was it worth it, what she had done for Cally? Giving her life for a woman who hated her, who had every reason to hate her, whom Sharon had every reason to hate? It shouldn't be, but when she climbed out of the truck and blinked in the weak, watery sunlight and saw the Centurions approaching, she knew that somehow, it was.
They shot her. Not the Centurions, but the resistance members who saved those slated to be executed. Right there on the execution sight, so she couldn't tell the Cylons where those who were rescued were going to be hidden. Sharon was in no way surprised about that. What did surprise her was the face she saw when she came out of the resurrection tub, gasping for air.
"Hurry," Caprica said, before Sharon could even catch her breath. "We have to go."
"Somewhere not here." Caprica looked over her shoulder. "You know that Cavil wants to box you."
"And you don't?"
"Of course not. Hurry."
She was barely dried off when Caprica was shoving clothing into her hands, helping pull her shirt over her head. Sharon felt the urgency mounting, and ran after Caprica to the heavy raider. "I still don't know where we're going. It's New Caprica. Cavil will find me."
"We've got to try," Caprica said. "And I have an idea."
Sharon assumed that Caprica must have found some cave or some outpost outside the settlement. Who in New Caprica would hide a Cylon, and for that matter, where would they hide her? But when Caprica took her to the tent that served as a temple, Sharon knew there was one person that would hide her, and maybe there was hope after all.
It turned out that the humans had dug a whole network of tunnels under New Caprica. They were rudimentary, cold and with little comfort, but Sharon marveled at how the Cylons had never even suspected.
"I know this is not ideal," Elosha said as she handed some food down to Sharon through a trap door. "But it shouldn't be long."
"Shouldn't be long?" Sharon asked. "What am I waiting for?"
Elosha didn't answer.
It was quiet in the basement. She had no company, no sunlight, and nothing to do. Very little news, except when Elosha risked opening the trap door. It reminded her of the cell on Galactica, where she had no idea what was going to happen to her.
Two days after she'd taken refuge, she heard the explosions. They echoed even through the earthen walls, shaking down rubble. The trap door was flung open, and Elosha appeared. "Hurry up," she ordered Sharon. "We've got to go."
Sharon didn't question- she just hauled herself out of the cellar. She stopped cold when she emerged, though. Laura Roslin was standing there beside Elosha.
"What-" Sharon began.
"There's no time," Laura said, handing Sharon a gun and taking the handles of Elosha's wheelchair. "Elosha assures me that you can be trusted. I'm not sure I believe her, but I am willing to trust her, and there's no time for this discussion. If you can't, I assure you, you will be out the airlock almost immediately, and then the Cylons can deal with you. Let's go."
"It's all right, Sharon," Elosha said. "We'll get it sorted out. Trust me."
Her voice was calming, and Sharon nodded. Still confused, she followed Laura and Elosha out of the temple. Her eyes hurt at the change in light, but blinking didn't help, because it was hard to make sense of the scene before her. People running, gunfire, and unbelievably, Colonial ships in the air above them.
"Let's go," Laura said. She gestured towards Colonial One. "My ship is up there."
Sharon's eyes widened. An escape. "Is Adama-" she began, but Elosha shook her head. This was not the time for questions. Sharon realized why Laura had given her a gun- she was meant as the cover. Her instincts snapped back into focus and she became a soldier again, on guard for anyone who would stop their progress.
She took out two Leobens and covered them as a Raider swept overhead on their way there. When they entered Colonial One, it was deserted. "What's happening?" Sharon asked.
"We're getting off this miserable excuse for a planet," Laura said, striding through the halls. They arrived in the empty presidential office. Laura looked around, and for a moment an expression of disgust flitted across her face. But then she approached the desk, sat down, and took a deep breath, assuming her role as President. "I'm ready," she informed them.
Sharon looked to Elosha. A smile was playing on Elosha's lips. "We're leaving?" she asked incredulously.
"We are. And you're coming with us." Elosha raised her chin defiantly. "You've made a lot of mistakes, Boomer, but you've done a lot of good, and that earns you a place on this ship. I assume you want it."
Sharon nodded. "I do."
"Good." Elosha looked to Laura. "I'm ready, too."
"You'd better be right about her, Elosha," Laura said warningly.
"I am." Elosha reached out her hand to Sharon, and Sharon took it. Elosha's skin was warm and she squeezed Sharon's hand. "I knew this wouldn't be easy, but it's the right thing to do."
No. It wouldn't be easy. There would be a lot of people who didn't trust Sharon, and for damn good reason, starting with Adama himself. Sharon had the feeling that she'd better not get her hopes up about Galactica. But if Elosha believed in her, if she could convince others… maybe there was still a way Sharon could find some sort of anchor, some sort of home. Among the humans, where she was meant to be. No, not where she was meant to be- where she'd decided to be. Of her own free will.
Sharon made her way over to a window, looking out at the destruction and chaos. She wondered what had happened to Caprica. If she'd known, she would have tried to find her. She closed her eyes, hoping that Caprica, wherever she was, would be safe. She hoped that Caprica would find her own peace, that she would be happy. The memory of Elosha's words returned to her and she smiled wryly. Right now, with the death outside and the bitterness inside and her own turmoil still roiling within her, she hated Cavil. She wasn't even sure what she thought of the others, or even of the humans she was going to join. But she did hope the day would come when, no matter who it was or what they did, that Sharon found she could wish them all well.
Colonial One lifted off, and then jumped into space. Sharon had made her choice, and she knew, under everything, that this was the right one.