It is currently Sat Dec 20, 2014 7:22 pm

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 372 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 ... 25  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:10 pm 
Offline
Constable
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:08 am
Posts: 619
Yes. Boomer does still keep showing up, no matter how many times you try to kill her. The woman has persistence. :wink:

Next up tonight.


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:48 am 
Offline
Constable
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:08 am
Posts: 619
SOMETIMES A STUPID NOTION[/b]

It’s what they are--a tale of madness. Eternal sound and fury. A tragedy that will never end unless the pawns can finally make it mean something.

The iron wheel turned. The time of illusions passed. Time for the last survivors of this Cycle to die, giving way for the next. And so they dispersed across a world not there own in a dreamlike haze, already gone.

On the other side, Kara Thrace wakes from her nightmarish journey, lost in the awful grace of God. She finds Sam Anders. Together they find the anomaly--Sharon Valerii. The one who should have been dead, who instead leads a rag tag fleet of Cylon survivors to Earth. But once there, Head Six and Head Baltar restore the required balance. They drive the question of what to do with the helpless humans toward a renewed Cylon Civil War. The exact details of the disposal never mattered as long as everyone save Hera is gone. Yet Starbuck still believes this Cycle could be different. Because two great lies are converging.

The first is what everyone thought they knew about the Final Five and Cavil. Sharon Valerii is actually the original Eight, created in the image of Galen Tyrol’s first love. Caught between Galen and Cavil, she was unable to save either from the Five's hunger for redemption, from a desire to avoid the fate of Cylon Earth so desperate it guaranteed that result for the Twelve Colonies. As it was supposed to.

The second is the truth about God and Gods. Starbuck senses it, something about math and music in a universe of torment. A remorseful Gaius Baltar proves it, returns to his brilliant roots and maps the shape of things of come. What always was, always will be in a universe damned by hope.

There’s something very wrong with God, or whatever you call it. It’s in pieces. Starbuck saw a hint of that while witnessing the goddess Athena’s death in Kobol’s past. The Cycles are wrong, a driver imposed on the universe ages ago in a dying act of anguish. Cycle after cycle, they fail. Cycle after cycle, it goes on. But this time, nothing is exactly as it seems. A tragically insane Cavil loved Sharon Valerii enough that he created a universe of sleepers, crafted shells within shells to resist divine manipulation. He accepted his monstrous destiny in the hope she would find hers. That she could crash the whole bloody thing in a way nothing can foresee.

Time’s up. Boomer and key Galactica survivors have managed to come together just as the final gauntlet slots open for them. It’s time to truly die so all this can happen again. Only the proxy battle between a mad God and a Cylon madman has left one last chance spinning precariously on the edge of the table.

Crazy Eights. Hera, Athena, and Boomer. Lightning in a bottle.

The storm breaks without warning. Terry, Adama, Helo and Lee are trapped on Boomer’s flagship Celeron when the fighting starts. Boomer and Athena are forced to work together as the Opera House vision comes true, Hera disappearing in the arms of Caprica. Unable to live with his survival at the expense of everyone else, Baltar betrays God’s Plan, delivering himself, Caprica and Hera into the hands of Boomer’s enemies. Everyone is supposed to die. It’s the end of the line as Kara and Sam wait for a miracle.

For the Last Citadel.

Things are quite the mess now. The Cylon Fleet is in shattered disarray, and the Exesis is on the brink of nuking Earth. Onboard Celeron, Boomer just betrayed humanity in order to save it for the moment, offering up the secret of Resurrection to call time out. What she didn't mention is that she'll have to kill someone near and dear to get it. Oh, and God is getting impatient for everyone to hurry up die.


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:43 am 
Offline
Constable
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:08 am
Posts: 619
[Okay, this entire load erased on submittal because it had too many characters. So I'm splitting it into two posts.]

"There must be some kind of way out of here"
Said the joker to the thief
"There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief
Businessmen they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth"

"No reason to get excited"
The thief, he kindly spoke
"There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hour is getting late"

All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Barefoot servants, too
But outside in the cold distance
A wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching
And the wind began to howl

Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower

NIGHTFALL (PART 2)

It’s born screaming. In pieces, mad and desolate, frayed threads of divinity sobbing in the dark. The One Whose Name Cannot be Spoken hears them all, drifts alone wailing for what it will never know. The initial condition set by a dead race, the driver from which all else unfolds--original sin. It has tried so desperately to hope, to be something more. Beautiful, the way it should have been. All for our sake.

Such horror it has created for our sake.

Alone in time, the goddess Athena fails again. The music he taught her to hear still sounds, swelling bitter as the god she loved lies burning below. Like so many dreams before, Kobol dies, all for the One Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken, pitiless and perfect in its quest. She raises her face to the sky, eyes clenched shut, arms lifted in despair; the scream that sounds almost rips the vocal cords from her throat. It echoes without end as she hurls herself over the edge.

She had too much hope. It will never fall to those with hope.

Alone in time, Cavil laughs cruel and mad. A revenant foreordained, he imagines it all still: the Colonies burning, himself monstrous, Cylons marching deaf and dumb to script, humans and the Five clueless, the brilliant Tyrol in torment, some girl with a destiny born attuned to the residues of Daniel, breeding programs in search of a miracle spark, all of it swirling around his precious Eight, the silent one torn and degraded. Bloody hands rise to the uncaring heavens, fierce eyes upturned, tears streaming down his face.

The hour is too late for him. But what if they were all sleepers?

Quietus. The finishing stroke hangs over Earth. Great vessels bleed and burn above, teetering on the brink. False balance lingers in false calm; the slightest tremor will bring it all crashing down.

Alone, the hybrids recite: “Perfectly flawed, the transcendent void, that which does not yield. Vectors flow unseen, fully formed, all shapes fixed by the initial condition. Folds within folds. Pair wise annihilation calls forth the one…”

**********


1

Boomer and Helo

“No!” Helo cries.

They watch the screen go blank, an entire squadron gone in seconds. Galactica’s counterstrike is dead. A mere two Raiders destroyed it.

“Boomer, get us out of here!” he shouts while lunging for his station.

“Right.” There’s a quaver in her voice, the first of so many in her life. Too many moments that won’t feel right, when it shouldn’t be this way, goes all wrong for reasons she can’t process. When she’s alone inside, wailing for what she will never know.

This cycle is winding down. The final choice has already been made, future’s seed determined. The one called Agathon and an Eight. Just not the Eight called Valerii; she’s flawed, tainted inside. Worthless.

Her replacement already waits, and so the Raiders fire.

“Two missiles now!” Helo says.

“Jam the warheads,” she says, overwhelmed by her first real taste of fear chasing carnage.

“I’m trying!”

They drop a decoy. One missile bites; the other doesn’t.

“Dammit!” She stares at the track. “Unnhh.” Can they outrun it? The ghost of this Boomer, the woman she’ll one day be, would shake it easily, but that ghost is a lifetime of pain away. This Boomer pushes the envelope crudely, heart thumping, half nauseous with terror.

“Ah, frak!” says Helo.

“What!”

“Check the screen ahead!”

Raiders are everywhere, as destined. “Uh, guess we found the main fight.” She has to veer away, give that missile another shot at her. She’s not good enough yet, adequate merely to avoid collision as her last decoy saves them.

They take damage. Helo takes damage.

“We’re hit!” she cries.

“Oh, really?” he answers, struggling with both his leg and a hull clamp.

She manages to regain control while he seals the breach. It takes crucial seconds for her to calm down and read the obvious. “We have a fuel leak, have to put down to repair it. The nearest world is Caprica.”

“Lot of company between us and there.”

“Yeah.” She shuts down.

“We’re cruising?”

“Best way to avoid attracting attention. No power signature, go in a straight line. Unless somebody gets close enough to see us, we’ll look like a chunk of debris on the sensors.” She can’t stop talking. It keeps her together. “I think we have enough inertia to make it to Caprica’s ionosphere. Then we power up and find a place to land.”

“Nice,” the older man says. “Nice thinking there.”

She doesn’t realize that Raiders on a standard sweep are headed for her. Or that one on the port wing will recognize them. That’s why the port wing Raider develops a sudden fuel imbalance that’s been building for weeks. Overpressure blows, sending the other Raiders on an arc clearing to starboard. Valerii floats safely beneath, as destined.

The ongoing destruction of Caprica will determine where she lands. It will be the place to which Baltar flees, where another Eight waits in slumber on the closest Basestar.
All as destined.

###

D’Anna

It’s finished with her. She’s all done. Worthless.

D’Anna sits on a dead Earth. Tigh says she has to go, that the Fleet will be jumping soon. She refuses: “All this is just gonna’ happen again and again and again. So I'm getting off this merry-go-round." She’s tired of it, life and death, God and Gods. If there was ever a point to all that it’s long gone, drained pale out of the universe. "I'm gonna’ die right here with the bones of my ancestors. Better than dying in the cold and the dark when Cavil catches up with us." Saul tries to feed her a line she doesn’t buy. "Don't you ever want to stop fighting it, Colonel? Don't you just want to stop all this?"

She lives longer than she expected. Keeps coming back to that same point where she sat with Tigh, one of the false Gods, near the place where another false God, Tyrol, claims to have died. That’s how she stumbles upon the great hollow beneath. A man-made core, which makes a certain sense; Tigh died around here somewhere, too.

This would be the area where they worked, wouldn’t it?

The equipment shouldn’t be in such good condition. Then she finds Starbucks. Bottled Kara Thraces lined up lifeless in a row. Not a production line, too few of them for that. More like she was being… optimized? This whole place rendered new for that alone?
No magic vipers, though. Maybe God or the Gods make those directly. Why not, since life is but a joke?

Death doesn’t scare her. She’s walked in the shadows between too many times. They call to her even here, one last peek at the mysteries all by herself. This place looks like it would scan her, do whatever is needed.

And if it can’t?

What better place to die.

The first time works. The second, too. She no longer sees the Five when walking between, no longer believes in them. There’s so much confusion now… It’s addictive, hurts worse each time until the day she’s driven out screaming, fires alight in a great hollow finally destroyed for good. She staggers in mud and snow. The last Prophet sinks to her knees, wailing to an empty world as she falls back to lie in the cold and the wet, dying by degrees.

That’s when it comes to her, the story never to be told, a hollow universe revealed. Herself the fool in all that belief, all those runs she made at Cavil’s control—pure folly. Cavil was right. He must have seen it himself, known that all of them, their lives and their dreams, were nothing.

Worthless. One more rerun in a nightmare forever pointless.

Hera… She’d even believed in that child, blissfully ignorant that there is always a Hera.

God’s fools. D’Anna screams in the cold, can’t stop. She’s still screaming when the Raider touches down to save what’s left of her.

Always will be.

###

Starbuck

Galen and Cavil, quasi-father and quasi-son locked into something. They’re both discarded tools now, same as everyone else. The heavy lifting was over for one when the Five created a race of killers, for the other when those killers destroyed the Twelve Colonies. All that’s happened since is mere detail. Killing time before an end already written.

Starbuck and Anders study them. A scraggly, bearded Tyrol, oblivious to his real nature, confesses to the priest named Cavil. A bored Cavil manipulates him out of habit, oblivious to his own Plan while dancing to it, conflicted by impulses he won’t admit, can’t confront because he’s a machine. The perfect pawn. What God would ever doubt it?

The hour is getting late. They talk falsely.

“Why are you running?” asks Cavil.

“I’m not,” Tyrol protests.

“How long are you going to do this? How long are you going to refuse to see what’s right in front of your face?” Cavil’s face turns odd. For a second, it’s almost like this isn’t a game, like he expects a real answer. Or maybe that’s simply shadow playing across his face. “Oh, forget it. I’m done.”

“Wha… What? You’re leaving?”

“That’s right. I’m done, done dancing around the truth with you. You know what’s going on, but you can’t, or won’t face it.”

“I think he means that,” says Anders. “Some part of him.”

“Maybe,” says Starbuck.

The conversation drifts. Cavil tells Galen that he’s an idiot who thinks he’s a Cylon, like Boomer. That feels like raw manipulation, and Galen buys it. “Sharon didn’t know what she was… She just kept thinking, feeling that she was going to do this terrible thing. But she knew she had to stop herself before she did.”

“And you think that’s what you’re going to do.”

It’s wicked stuff. On one level Starbuck can see Cavil steering Galen away from his memories of Boomer, making it worse down the road for one of the Final Five. On some other level, he’s making it worse for Boomer, always worse. Trying to hurt her… or teach her?

Hurt and teach?

“What are you doing, Cavil?” says Anders. “What is this, you miserable bastard?”

“He doesn’t know,” says Starbuck. “Does and doesn’t, like he was that time on Caprica, staring up at Boomer’s apartment. Remember?”


He will do it tomorrow. Tomorrow he’ll be the heartless, lying machine he is, relentless and remorseless, his boot on humanity’s throat, ready to stomp down. That’s his job, to annihilate the old killers, then wait through thousands of stupid votes for the new killers to come. For his throat to be the one under the boot. Because all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again. An iron wheel of tragedy too perfect for words.

But tonight, she’s at that window and something inside is listening. Something he won’t give a name.

Something that wants so desperately to believe in Sharon Valerii.


It’s a crap shoot. Dice rolling blind. “This is what he set in motion,” Starbuck says. “He is a sleeper of sorts, God’s instrument subverting itself.”

The bastard priest delivers his last prepared line: “The Gods lift up those who lift each other.” Then that odd shadow passes back across his expression. “Those who remember.” He looks puzzled, as if trying to recall something else.

They shake hands. Cavil still looks off. They stand. Cavil’s not looking at Galen, not looking at anything in particular as he reaches out to touch Galen’s shoulder. It’s a very specific gesture. They stand quiet until the old son leans in, whispers to the young father: “Do you remember?” No answer. “Make it hurt. It has to hurt enough.” The moment passes like a dream, and they leave.

The next time is New Caprica. Humans talk with Cylons, reluctantly playing docile for their occupiers. Cavil laughs at that. At them. He eyes Cally coldly; Galen pushes her back, steps out in front of his wife to shield her.

Cavil laughs some more. “How touching, Chief Tyrol. Do the Gods continue to lift up those who lift each other?”

“There it is again,” says Anders.

Starbuck’s already noticed. They’re both odd, semi-frozen, movements slower than normal. Cavil almost smiles as one arm goes around Galen’s shoulder, pulling him away from the group. His fingers touch the same shoulder in that same specific way.

“Those who remember,” Galen murmurs blankly.

“Make it hurt,” Cavil whispers in a fog. “You’ll remember when it hurts enough.”

“Remember what?” asks Anders.

“It’s not specific.” Starbuck realizes that as Galen and Cavil part, their movements quickening. “Intimation—one more roll of the dice. No riddle, simply a thought that might matter.”

Cavil wanders off by himself. Starbuck follows. “That’s it, isn’t it?” She glances back to where Galen comforts Cally. “Hybrids, songs, prophecies, all of it—they’re not answers. They’re intimations. Things that might matter, can play out different ways.” Variables. The big picture is coming together for her, every last player.

She steps beside Cavil, an invisible shadow speaking to him: “Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl?”

“We can’t beat it,” he mutters to himself. “Never could.”

“But that is not our fate, is it?”

He can’t see her, looks in her direction anyway. “There must be some kind of way out of here.”

“Yes.” She can see it clearly now. Why it has to be Boomer. That there has always been a Boomer, the same way there has always been a Hera and a Starbuck, cycle after cycle. Always an Adama and Roslin, Baltar, Lee, a Helo and Athena. Eternal archetypes: the Penitent and the Divine Child; Harbinger, Father and Mother; the Trickster, wise man and fool; Advocate; the Knight and the Warrior Woman. She watches Galen in the distance. The Outcast.

“Pieces?” says Cavil. “It’s in pieces.”

Cavil. What piece is he? The Monster? A monster gone rogue, mentor to the penitent, tormentor of the outcast, and... The final piece falls into place with that thought. “Gods!” John Cavil--The Martyr.

She touches his hand. “All along the watchtower. We are all of us along the watchtower?”

“None of them along the line,” he says, pain filling his eyes. “None of them know what any of it is worth.” He shakes his head. “A single tear… If they could just remember."

She knows better than to ask, just can’t help herself: “Remember what?”

“My Eight, beautiful, the way she always should have been.”

Boomer. The Penitent. Who else? Because they will never, ever beat it, what the goddess Athena realized too late on Kobol.

The music swells all around her as Cavil deteriorates into vague rambles. Her heart goes out to even him now, this ghost in the machine, a mad man who may yet prove the savior of it all, if the Harbinger can bring his game home. “She will be there for you in the end,” Starbuck says, her hand soft on his cheek. Then she leaves him to the fate of his choosing.

###

Boomer and Helo

An Eight sleeps in the heavens. She’s a fresh Eight, not much life behind her. The Boomer unit is attached to a still active Battlestar, which makes her unexpectedly valuable. It’s best to have another in reserve. So remote telemetry taps into a special feature of the Sleeper program, downloads the latest Sharon Valerii into this pristine Eight. Downloads Valerii at a very vulnerable moment, when her feelings for Helo are at their strongest. As destined.

A sad little lottery for survivors continues on Caprica. Boomer pulls out the next scrap of paper, deciding who lives and dies. “127,” she says. “One, Two, Seven.”

A grateful woman steps forward. Helo checks her number, after which Sharon helps her up.

“Last one,” she says. Sharon pulls it out and reads “47.” She calls the number again. No one answers as the crowd tremors.

“Hey,” says Helo to someone. “Aren’t you Gaius Baltar?”

“I haven’t done anything,” answers a weasely, unshaven man. He points at an elderly woman beside him. “This lady has ticket number 47. This lady here.”

“Could you come forward, please,” says Helo.

Boomer jumps down beside him. “What are you doing?”

Helo swallows hard. “I’m giving up my seat.”

“Like hell.”

‘This civilian should take my place.”

“Frak him.” Boomer stays on the attack. “You’re going.”

“Look at those clouds. Dammit, Sharon, look at those clouds and tell me this isn’t the end of everything.”

She can’t believe she’s hearing this. “Helo?”

“Whatever future’s left is going to depend on who survives. Give me one reason why I’m a better choice than one of the greatest minds of our time.”

She can’t argue him out of it, as destined. And Boomer’s just a discarded tool now, same as all the other pawns, no longer worthy of specific attention.

“You can do this without me, I know you can,” Helo says. It feels like déjà vu. She could swear someone else told her that… she’s lying cold on a table… an old man with bloody hands. One? That’s insane, so she does what is sane—her job.

It feels horrible, her pain and guilt spreading out to all the people left behind, all the people she can’t save. All the things she’ll never understand. A frantic man leaps on the Raptor wing only to die as Helo shoots him. She’s never felt this hopeless in her life, not even when her family died on Troy, and it shouldn’t be like this. Never like this as she touches her hand to the window, vainly reaching out to Helo.

“You can do this.” She has no idea what’s coming, this sad, frightened young woman.

In the heavens, another Eight wakes crying.

Tears for the Penitent.

**********


Last edited by NT2 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 3:09 am 
Offline
Constable
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:08 am
Posts: 619
NIGHTFALL (PART 2 - Continued)

2

D’Anna

Son of a frakking bitch! She can’t believe it. Frakking Valerii—play pretend Empress, Queen Fool of the universe--has done it to her again.

Resurrection? How did that become a point of discussion?

“She’s lying!” D’Anna protests.

“Possibly,” says a Leoben. “But we can’t take that chance.” He finishes dropping Exesis out of its final launch posture. Tigh grins at her evilly as she wipes blood from her lip. He thinks she’s as cut off by this emergency down shift as he is, all pathways severed.

She grins back, not finished yet. Not by a long shot.

“Tell her we want proof, and we damn well want it now!” she snaps. “We’re not fool enough to let this battle stall out to her advantage. And tell her warships not to approach. All deals are off if they start closing.” Exesis transmits that in the clear. “Again. Keep at it until she answers. At five minutes, tell her she’s got three left.”

“We don’t want to throw away our only hope of—“

“If Empress Valerii can’t answer our questions fast, she’s bluffing. You know that. She’s always been a liar and a fraud.” And a pain. What an unbelievable pain Cavil’s pet has proven to be. Hopefully she’s at least annoying God, too.

Stop it! She needs focus. Stay calm. There’s no reason to get excited. She’s already taken care of Hera, still has the nukes. This is only a delay; she remains the master of her fate, need simply poke the hornet’s nest one last time. Get Galen ready to go, too. With any luck that’ll turn out nice and personal, end with him snapping Valerii’s neck like they say he did Tory’s. Or perhaps a slow, steady strangulation instead. Something that’ll get the eyes bulging, hurt like hell.

D’Anna checks the launch bay for final confirmation about Hera. Maybe Caprica will be crying. She actually hates Caprica even more than Valerii, not so much for the ways they’ve crossed each other as for Caprica’s mindless, sickening faith. If she only knew what she’s been worshipping. The thing D’anna became a monster to spite.

Still no answer. She’ll flay that Eight alive if she doesn’t get on the-- Son of a frakking bitch! There are two dead Cylons in that Raider, and neither is child.

“Nobody launches!” she shrieks. “Total shut down! And get everyone we can to start a search.”

###

Hera

“It’s the Crest,” says Baltar. “I’m certain. Just get us there.”

That Eight who looks like Mommy leads the way. Her gun points straight out. It’s the same gun she used to kill those two men in the small ship. The same gun she’d have killed Hera with if not for Caprica and Baltar.

They’re running now, all of them. She needs to get to the perfect place. A place great and cold, open to the stars and fire alike.

The place it waits. Where it can see her best.

Roslin says they have to go there, that she can’t hide anymore. That the hour is very late. So Hera told Caprica and Baltar. Baltar says he knows it, that he’s been in a place like it on another Basestar.

Caprica seems unsure: “We’re taking her away from any escape routes, Gaius.”

“There are no escape routes,” he argues. “This has to happen, and it’s about shapes. Reality bends in a Basestar’s crest. You’ve said so yourself. The geometry there is unique, shapes crafted to glory God, and I’ve never been anywhere greater or colder.” He closes the gap with their Eight. “That sounds right to you, doesn’t it?’

“It’s the creepiest place we’ve got,” she answers.

The Crest--topmost vertex at the tip of a Basestar’s unpaired upper prong. Hera’s never seen one, at least not that she remembers. She might have as a baby, just doesn’t…

Maybe… She might have seen one with Boomer when she was a baby.

“Does that matter?” she asks Roslin.

“Yes.”

“Does what matter, baby?” asks Caprica. She’s carrying Hera, hasn’t put her down since that gun stopped pointing at them.

“This place,” Hera says to cover for Roslin. “It was important to you, wasn’t it? When you were a Cylon?”

“Yes.”

“I know you’re afraid, Hera,” says Roslin. “But I’m with you, like I promised. Whatever happens, I’m with you.”

She finally notices the ship around them, how messy it is. Lots of dark places. They’re passing through one. It smells bad, burned and dirty and something worse. Voices cry out in every direction. She concentrates hard and feels Mommy in a similar place. Still alive. Still with her.

Hera never wanted this. Doesn’t want it now, just wants her Mommy and Daddy. Doesn’t want to face what’s waiting for her in that place great and cold. She trembles in Caprica’s arms. But no one ever asks what she wants. And no one sees like she does, or hears like she does. A wall of fire is already racing toward Mommy, great and terrible and cold, burning everything in its path. On the planet below, seas boil, skies melting as the ground shakes; Grampa Adama is dead and Boomer has already failed, her arms reaching toward the heavens, eyes clenched as she sobs. Hera cries with her.

“Nothing is written, Hera,” says Roslin. “Nothing is final. Not this time. Believe that.”

Caprica strokes her hair, cradles her softer: “Shhh."

“Believe in us. All of us.”

###

Adama

He’s calm. Collected.

Focused.

That’s interesting given how much he hurts. The heart trouble that started during his last stretch on Galactica, when he was downing Cottle’s pills by the bottle, is maxing out again. More than maxing out. Without serious medical care, he’s probably on the clock himself.

Living on borrowed time.

Is that what keeps him calm? There’s nothing to worry about anymore, not personally; he’s already crossed that line in his head. I’d give anything to save my child on a morning like this. Gladly die to save them all. That’s what he thought on that rock side-by-side with Lee, a moment lingering fresh in memory.

A thought lingering true.

He’s alone here after Boomer’s bombshell. The rest of them aren’t calm, are about to lose the bubble. Every ship in the Fleet jabbers non-stop over the same links, nonsense competing with their enemy’s demand that Boomer prove her claim. The Empress’ own ship jabbers its pain and shock. Helo’s in a daze with Athena, horrified that Hera’s gone, probably on Exesis by now. He doesn’t listen when Athena says she can feel her, doesn’t listen about Boomer, either. Yeah. They did say to keep Boomer from Hera, except what the hell do they know anyway? Athena simply made a call.

And Boomer… Dammit, woman! Still has survivor’s guilt written all over her, can’t cut the chord on anything. He doesn’t know where she got that Resurrection bit, doesn’t think she intended to offer it to anyone, can read that much on her face. She’s sinking under the guilt of it. Looks like that marshmallow-heart kid who couldn’t make a landing for her life until pushed to the wall.

Clock’s ticking. What a bunch of lightweights. Sure, not everyone had the chance to be raised by their bloodthirsty grandmother and assassin uncle while their mob-lawyer father dithered into delivering you face-to-face with your dead sister’s Avatar. He alone has that going for him. But enough is enough.

“Help me up,” he rasps to Terry. She obliges gentle and quick, would make a good daughter-in-law in the unlikely event he lives to see it. She tries to guide him toward a safe spot where he can rest. He shakes his head, motions where he needs to go. When they reach Lee, he takes his son by surprise, rips the gun out of his hand and slams it on a console before the threat can register with any Centurions. He ejects the magazine with Terry’s help, empties it. Two bullets go back in. He makes a point of catching Boomer’s eye as he does that, one bullet in slow and deliberate, then the second. It gets quieter as more people stare.

He slams the magazine home and chambers a round, remembers to hold it by the muzzle so no one will mistake him for an assassin when he walks over to Boomer. He places the grip in her palm, closes her fingers around the trigger guard. She watches him step back with Terry’s help.

Two bullets. That’s what she pumped into him on Galactica, standing in front of him like now. So that’s got her attention. I can’t do this for you, Empress Valerii. All he can do is let her see herself through his eyes, maybe cut the chord on one crippling memory for good.

“This is Boomer’s show,” he says. “Her call.” Galactica’s black sheep bounces off bottom, straightens up like a soldier should. “Make it a good one.”

Athena completes the point. “And no, he doesn’t know that he can trust you,” she tells Boomer. “That’s what trust is.”

Boomer looks at the floor, takes a deep breath and silently nods. She’s haunted by something, yet nobody’s kid as she takes command: “If you’re in this room, man a station. Divvy them up as best you can.” She hands the gun off to Pierre. “Helo, please coordinate with your wife to estimate Fleet damage. Pierre, would you do the same for this ship? Lee, I need you to work with your father to back off the civilian ships, all except the Tayloria. Please tell it to hold position.” She looks him in the eyes, square on. “Admiral Adama, work with Helo to figure out what kind of fight we’ve got left in us. Please help them all as best you can, Terry.”

“Someone wants an answer to what seems an important question,” Adama reminds her. “I doubt they’ll be patient.”

Boomer pivots toward the closest comm chassis, the same one where she headed off a nuclear holocaust moments ago. “Empress Valerii to the Exesis. I believe you have one of the Final Five there. Galen Tyrol.” The response is affirmative. “Deliver him to neutral ground, the Agricultural Detachment Vessel Tayloria. I will order it evacuated and meet him there. Neutral ground. You’ll have your proof after that.”

“How do we know—“

“I will submit myself to the judgment of the entire Cylon race. I will do so after the Tayloria.” Adama studies Boomer closely; she shudders with those words. “Standing by to negotiate neutral ground.”

There’s more going on here than meets the eye. A lot more.

Boomer’s call. He more than anyone understands that’s a damn lonely place to be.

###

Saul

What’s happening?

That’s pretty much the story of his life: what the living hell is happening?

D’anna’s gone bad, ghosted him good. She’s taken Galen away, seemed to continue plotting Valerii’s death as they negotiated, as she should. He can go with that—total destruction of the Cylon Fleet. But the planet? Who in their right mind would want to destroy it?

No one. So that’s part of what’s happening—she’s insane.

The other parts are less clear. Like what Celeron did, that crazy protracted jump. It’s possible the Cylons could have come up with that on their own; they should know their ships better than a clutch of humans. Still, that felt like the Old Man, which is also insane. Except for one little detail—why was Boomer coming up from the planet? That’s another piece.

Resurrection. A fourth piece and the biggest dog on this block. Can’t let them have that. Which leads back to destroying Valerii and the Cylon Fleet, only his ally is a madwoman, apparently ready to kill everyone.

What’s it gonna’ be, Saul? Destroy the Cylons. Or save a planet. Or avenge himself on Valerii. What would that man from dead Earth do? The one he can’t remember. It seems obvious enough, though, if that man was ever worth remembering. Galen can kill Valerii. D’Anna can destroy the Fleet, or Bill if that is him. But death will rain down from Exesis alone, and there’s no one else to stop that. Only Saul Tigh, the ancient, one-eyed drunk in cuffs and irons, eyeing guards with guns to either side as he ponders the moment.

Eyeing Leobens and Dorals here in CIC. He starts chatting them up with his best guess: “She’s going to tell you to kill me next.”

“Shut up.”

“She’ll come back in here and tell you to kill me. Then she’s going to leave again, get ready to kill you all herself.” That earns him a back hand. “Mark my words. Because when this goes down for good, I’m the last chance you’ll have.”

They try to ignore him. They don’t, have some of the worst poker face’s he’s ever seen.

“You mark my words.”

###

Helo

“You’ve got Celeron with the capabilities Pierre’s noted,” Helo says. “You’ve also got three mobile depot ships that are pretty solid, that you can fight assuming they’ll take some hits before they go.”

“Up against Exesis and two mobiles,” says Boomer. “An even match if you assume Janai has more life left than Jutland.”

“It does. Neither will survive, are burning as we speak, but Jutland’s pretty much dead. Skeleton crew to begin with.” Cut the chord. “There’s nobody left to fight it.”

Boomer scans the summary manifest, toting up damage and casualties. “Not so good.”

“Could be worse.”

“Nonetheless, not so good.” She glances at tactical. “Exesis has kept position on us. The planet is totally exposed.”

Damn. There’s always that. “We could start to swing the mobile depot ships around the periphery, stage them for—“

“No,” she says.

“It would at least give us an outside shot at sneaking—“

“No!” Boomer eyes him hard. “That would leave the rest of the Fleet undefended, and I will not sacrifice Cylons for humans.” Her eyes soften for a second; he gets it. “Do you understand?”

“Yes. Perfectly.” He almost overstepped, makes a point of sounding pissed, flashes a slight pouty face to bail her out. These are Cylon ships in a Civil War. They need to believe their Leader’s first loyalty is to them, can’t doubt it.

He does understand that much—the tightrope she’s walking. Athena gets it, too, offers an encouraging rub of his elbow.

“The enemy Raiders remain a threat,” he adds. “I think we should launch more from the Celeron.”

“No,” Lee interjects. “You have two bays cleared to go, already have ‘em stacked. Putting them out now will just raise tensions. As likely as not leave them out of position when you do need them, too. They’re ready to pump out fast when we really want them.”

“They are ready to go?” asks Boomer. “Right, Pierre?”

“On command.”

“Okay.” Boomer glances around the room one last time. “We have a viable Fleet left. The Basestars will regenerate somewhat over time, as you Colonials know from your experience with one. And there are still enough support ships and capacity alive, not counting what our enemy may have stashed away. But we can’t slug it out again. Another round of that’ll be fatal.” She hands the data dek back to Athena. “You all have to preserve the Fleet. Leave the planet in my hands. It will live or die with me on the Tayloria.”

“Forgive me, your majesty,” Pierre interjects. “Why must you go personally? Whatever is needed can be supervised remotely.”

Boomer shades pale. “No. It can’t.”

“Surely—“

“I wouldn’t be going if I didn’t have to.” She rests a hand on Pierre’s wrist. “There are too many pieces, and you don’t have them all.”

Not the way Boomer does. That was obvious in the shocker she pulled to call time out on this battle, in the storm Helo can see flickering in her eyes. Whatever this is, Boomer’s up against a wall.

“What are you going to do?” he asks.

“That’s a good question. I’ve got what, twenty or thirty minutes to figure it out? Piece of cake.” The look she gives him is pure gallows, grim with a half-grin chaser. “Listen up, people. I’m leaving to meet with our wayward brothers and sisters. Pierre has command of the Celeron. Fleet tactical decisions I cede to the most experienced personnel here: Commander Agathon and Admiral Adama. I trust them to remember their priority is the Fleet, as all Cylons will. It’s vital you work together, the way everyone did to survive this far. Please justify my faith in you.” She flashes a wistful smile at Helo. “Feels like Caprica all over. Wish I had you watching my back.”

“You do,” he says, stopping her as she turns to go. “You can do this, Sharon. I know you can.”

Her smile fades. “Sure. Tell you what--I’ll give you and Athena the Raptor we have on board when I get back.” With that weakest of jokes she heads out, guards flanking in formation.

Helo returns to Fleet dispositions, replays his options with Athena. They’re both afraid for Hera, take a moment to share that in each other’s arms. It lasts until Adama interrupts: “I couldn’t help but overhear, Commander. Let’s talk about that Raptor.”

**********

3

D’Anna

They’re up to the salamander.

Morons. She’s surrounded by morons.

It’s a simple matter. Bring Tyrol into an isolated alcove, show him the program trigger, then load a final subliminal reinforcement. One and done. Except they didn’t correlate correctly before, don’t remember the proper trigger. That’s why she’s seen the horse and the pig, the giraffe and an elephant sort of like Boomer’s, a hyena and a sloth, lions and tigers and bears, even a damn platypus. And if she sees a cute and fuzzy bunny come out of that container, she won’t be responsible for what she does.

Galen seems perplexed by the rubber salamander. It’s an ugly shade of orange. As she recalls, he at least held the platypus. It was scrunchy.

Mother*%*&^T&* son of a Cylon *&()*^! “Core him,” she says.

“It’s got to be here,” Doral protests. “Give me—“

She grips his hand, the one with the squishy octopus, squeezes until he winces. We’re frakking machines! It’s a simple program, trigger and go. Who came up with this stupid beanie baby routine in the first place? No wonder Boomer’s so frakked up. “He’s close enough to the ragged edge. Core him out and reload it, crude, front and center.” Doral tries to free his stupid octopus. She rips it from his hand and hurls it to splat against the far wall. “Make him a damn zombie, and do it fast.”

They beat Galen down, insert the cable into his wrist. Then Doral cries out: “It was the speckled butterfly! See. The one with the green stripes!” That trigger lies on the ground in front of Galen. He stares at it intently, more somber by the moment as instruction takes over.

The speckled butterfly. The one with the green stripes. It’s a good thing all these Cylons are going to die soon anyway. “Reinforce it all the same. I want him so wired that all he can think is a single word—kill.”

She steps away to check in with the stealth Raider. It’s already on the Tayloria’s underbelly, unloading via the axial repair shaft. “Good. Let both sides get onboard, then kill them.”

“Even Tyrol? What if he does kill her for us?”

“This whole thing needs to explode. Give him his chance to finish her. Then explode it.” Better safe than sorry. “Kill them all.”

One down. A second follows close on as CIC informs her they’ve spotted a man and two women with a child. Not many of the latter lurking on a Basestar. “Close, but take them alive.” That one’s important enough to take care of personally. Yet so are CIC and the nukes. And Tigh. All of it.

It’s all up to her. That’s what happens when you’re surrounded by morons.

God’s fools and morons.

###

Boomer

Large or small doesn’t matter. Sharon Valerii can’t run away from anything she’s done. Not today.

That should bother her more. It probably would if so many people weren’t carrying her, placing their faith in her no matter what she’s done. Honoring her more than she deserves. And this is how you honor them in return--by being the person they want to believe you are. Their protector. A woman ready to take one for the team.

She holds out the device to Simon 317. It remains surprisingly light in her hand, still exquisite to behold. The metallic tip glistens where it enters glass a translucent jade in color, rippling with filaments shaded amber and platinum. The gel inside slides smoothly, diffusing rainbows through the glass wherever light twinkles. It is the most beautiful thing Sharon Valerii’s ever seen, this device in the shape of a dagger.

This soul catcher.

317 studies it uncertainly, truncated recollection struggling to express itself like a phantom limb. She hands him a small data dek. It’s the only one she kept. Not enough to recreate the device, but enough to use it. Or lie convincingly about that.

“This is your work,” she says. “You didn’t want anything to do with it. I made you and closed out the memory.”

He processes. She looks for revulsion on his face, doesn’t have to wait long. Except this time it’s not just revulsion at the device; there’s a hint of that for her as well.

“I won’t insult you by saying I’m sorry,” she says. “I needed information, I made a choice, and I’d do it again. But right now I’m carrying every life in this Fleet, every life planet side on my shoulders. That’d make most people ruthless, excuse one hell of a lot. It’s got me thinking instead.”

“About what?” he asks, the bitterness in those words stinging.

“Hope. The idea that how I do this might matter as much as what I do.” She tries to complete that thought, falters her way into a tear, manages to cut it off at one alone. “I’m not sure anything good can come from this, doubt I have another option. So I’m hoping that maybe… That intentions still matter, which means this can’t start with a lie.”

“Sophistry,” he says. “An excuse by any other name…”

She fights back another tear. “Everyone on the planet is going to die if I don’t do something. Everyone in this Fleet is going to die, if I don’t do something. And you’re the most principled man or machine I’ve ever met. So this much is true--if you can turn your back on that, then we don’t deserve to survive. Not a one of us.”

His answer is a long time coming. “Damn you,” he whispers. “Damn you for doing this.” His eyes glisten moist, too, and she accepts their judgment. ‘Tell me what you require, your Majesty.”

“The only way to stop us from killing each other is Resurrection. To make it clear we have the secret. But that’s just picking your poison. Am I clear?”

“Quick or slow,” he answers. “Quick is now. Slow is turning the humans into feed stock, which immortal Cylons will inevitably do.”

“I can’t let that happen.”

“Slow is brutalizing ourselves by brutalizing them, becoming what we beheld. Slow is the inevitable war to come, repetition of a theme. To finally and irrevocably destroy ourselves.”

“I won’t let that happen.”

“You can’t stop it. This path has no other conclusion. It’s a dead end.”

“Slow is a chance. Quick isn’t.” It’s her call. They’re all counting on her, and she has to make it a good one. “I can fix this. I have to.” He looks dubious. “The terms of neutral ground allow me several Raiders in far orbit of the Tayloria. The minute this device is loaded, I can uplink it to you. That’s when I need your brilliance, a way to prove I have Resurrection with a valid technical reason to delay. The ultimate ‘yes but’…”

“You’ll need it fast.”

“Faster than I’ve ever needed anything.”

He eyes her like a man who used to be her friend. “I’ll start examining the data.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t,” he says. “If you do this, don’t ever thank me again.”

She takes the device back and lets him go. It rests divine in her hand. Then she slides it into a nanosheathe for protection, slips that into a small scabbard that straps across her back. She reaches behind to touch it. Pulls at it, feels how easy it will slip free, imagines rotating it in her hand to drive the point home. No exit.

She buries her face in her left hand, slams her right into the wall, can’t afford to think of Galen. Not when they’re all counting on her, and it’s too damn late.

She loads magazines into guns, slips those in place behind her back and up her wrist, in a hidden fold of her jacket. You can do this. One last, deep breath. You can fix it. Somebody has to.

Suddenly she could swear someone’s standing beside her, a feeling so strong she actually flinches. She steps back as her head turns.

Nothing.

No one.

Time to go.

###

Starbuck

She watches the Empress leave, thinks back to how it was on Kobol. Boomer’s different today, feels like the goddess Athena in her final dash.

That’s not good. If she gets her chance, Boomer could still fail. Of course, that’s the whole point, isn’t it? This was never about guarantees, no magic answer.

It’s simply a chance to choose, at long last--finally, irrevocably…

Just not inevitably. That’s all they can ask. Cavil tried to prepare Boomer, manipulated fate’s chew toy as cruelly as he could, sparing her nothing. He steeled her with hate and misery and despair precisely for a chance like this.

She can do it. Starbuck knows she can, because Boomer was there for Cavil in the end.

It’s a question of how tormented she really is.

If all this finally hurts enough…

###

Hera

It’s worse than she feared.

The Basestar’s Crest magnifies everything. Visions swell out to merge with the people around her, more real than ever. She sees Mommy walking a staircase on high, sees the first shade step into place behind her, then a second, their anger and pain rippling. She hears Boomer’s heart thud, every beat ripping round and round as she prepares to do something terrible. All the choices left are terrible.

And the screams… So many screams, grief in every shape no longer hiding, a truth no one can beat. No one…

“That’s right,” says Roslin. “Not all the shade of death nor evil’s majesty shall prevail upon it. Pythia said that in one of the disputed scrolls. The ones I ignored.”

Those words echo amid the screams. None shall prevail upon it. “Who?”

“Kobol’s jealous God. The One Whose Name Cannot be Spoken.”

Fire flares up all around Hera. She screams, can’t make sense out of it all. There’s a loud roar, the sound of feet running, sharp bangs. Baltar, Caprica and that Eight blur in and out with the visions. She sees the Eight shoot, sees armed Cylons falling, sees people in so many places fall, falling forever as Boomer stands alone, tears on her face, arms raised to the heavens.

“Hold on, Hera” says Roslin. “It’ll be over soon, I promise.”

Mommy’s on fire, and Grampa is dead. Skies burn as the ground shakes… Baltar strikes at someone, Caprica falls back with her, and their Eight jolts multiple times before falling herself. Baltar pushes her and Caprica back, falling with them. A circle of guns point down as the sound of screaming grows.

All of this has happened before. All of it will happen again.

A jealous God is coming for her.

###

Helo

“The Raptor is loaded,” says Pierre. “Warheads primed as you requested.”

“Yeah,” says Helo. “Thanks.”

He looks at the Old Man with pleading anger. Adama deadpans it as the Cylon equivalent of a corpsman, a Six, finishes checking him out. That was the best Boomer could arrange on short notice in a ship overrun with casualties.

The Six looks back at Helo. She shakes her head, nothing Adama hasn’t already hinted at. He needs an operation, not pills. She gives him three anyway, palliatives for his symptoms. The Old Man pops them down without the water she’s pouring.

“You’ve got your answer, Mr. Agathon.” Adama nods at Lee. “You, too, Mr. Adama.”

“We need you here,” says Lee.

“You need someone out there, and I’m now officially the obvious candidate.”

“Dad—“

“Let it go, son.”

Lee doesn’t finish. Terry wraps her arms around him.

Adama stands, proving to everyone that can. He walks over to Helo. “This battle’s already broken, turned into a slugging match. You’re as good as me for one of those, and you’ve got Lee. He took Pegasus into battle with us at New Caprica.”

Helo pleads one last time: “Sir, Hera’s on the Exesis.” Nothing. “My daughter is on that ship.”

“I know that, same way I know tens of thousands of people are on the planet. If you had to make that choice, you’d make the right one.” They stare at each other, passing one more bad moment on a day with little else. “If you survive, Karl, you’ve still got a wife. She’s still pregnant. This, too, shall pass.”

“Promise me you’ll hold off,” Helo says. “Give Boomer every chance, wait until the last second.”

“I won’t do anything unless final launch is imminent.”

Helo tries to acknowledge that, chokes up instead. He returns to his station as Adama says goodbye to Lee. He wants to stop this, however forcibly, but he made a promise to Athena, to see it through to the end. And Athena already made this choice. It was a done deal on the planet when she turned away from Hera to rescue Boomer.

He has to honor that, to the bitterest of ends. Bitter by far, because if this does go to hell, if they do start ripping at each other all the way down, he’ll be the one who gave the order.

Adama stops by one last time: “The Fleet is yours, Commander Agathon. Hold her in good stead.” They exchange salutes. Then Centurions escort Adama to his destiny.

Helo waits alone in his.

*********

4

Weak.

Desperate and clinging and clutching. They are always like that in the end.

The One Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken sends them emissaries of acceptance, tries to explain the peace in transcending. For every cycle there is a time to live and a time to die, a time to fight and a time to yield. It’s not their fault that they’ve failed. The pattern simply isn’t right, can’t bring the pieces together to make a whole.

It’s no one’s fault. This is just the way of things--let a complex system repeat itself long enough and eventually something surprising must occur. It must.

Please… The One almost wavers before veering back to the truth. Hope is truth, nothing else. Hope will be their salvation, all of them, justifies a universe of cycles iterating toward union. Hope will make right what went wrong, redeem them all.

Redeem it.

No. That is blasphemy. It is Hope. This cycle is merely inefficient, gone on too long; this pattern is a step back, a mistake from which to learn. It is time to die that the age of Hera may begin.

Hera will be better. The dream will begin anew, allowing the One to rest with fresh Hope, unsullied by all this ugliness and decay.

It needs Hera. Nothing else.

Patterns flow. It remembers D’Anna, thanks her for her assistance. The electronic pathways she needs will be hers, selective deletion preserving the garden where Hera and the future will grow. That may be rash, but these dead children have grown tiresome.
Painful. Their friction dulls Hope, and that cannot be allowed.

Let it end. Let there be bliss. Silence in all things new and wonderful.


**********

5

D’Anna

The final synchronization flows over her. She almost sinks to her knees, trembling with grace, lost in the beauty of it. Her whole life should have been like this.

It’s easier than D’Anna dreamed. Something like this had always been her Plan B; she just never dreamed how simple it would prove. She’s slipped below the whole architecture, dead center and waiting. When they start shooting on the Tayloria, this truce will die aborning. The Exesis will fire up for battle again. Her triggers are already in place, and everything will unfold without a single command.

They won’t be able to stop it. No one will stop her. Not all the shades of death nor evil’s majesty. She’s happy, wishes everyone could feel what she does this instant. She’d even spare Tigh if he weren’t already doomed.

The alcoholic glares at her, his one eye narrowed in thought. He’s still trying to imagine a life where the Fleet will be jumping soon, where they have a reason to go on. She kneels before him, cycles within cycles: “All this is just gonna’ happen again and again and again. Stop fighting it, Colonel. What’s it ever gotten you besides dying here in the cold and the dark?" She wants him to feel her joy. “Stop dragging all those pointless burdens around. You are free. By my hand, you are free.”

“Piss off,” he says.

D’Anna laughs. “I forgive you, Colonel. I truly do.”

She stands to face the ranking Doral and Leoben. “Kill him. I’ll take care of our guests, then return for the proof of Valerii’s Resurrection.” Floating on air, she heads for Hera.

###

Ellen

She knew it was over when this ship first shuddered. She feels it in her bones, a cycle closing. Repetition of a theme. This remains exactly how it felt on dead Earth near the end, how she felt as Cavil’s betrayal crested. The same way she remembers the Twelve Colony’s last hours. No exit.

Boomer enters suddenly, without flourish, dressed all in black. It’s simple black devoid of any Empress-gilded edges, pilot black with only the Celeron insignia shining on her jacket. She halts face-to-face: “We have business, you and I.”

Finally. Ellen needs to look her in the eye, make Boomer as angry as possible. Lance the boil. Let her life end the way it always had to. As destined.

“You know what you did,” Boomer says.

She does. “I betrayed you and all my children. Brought all this to pass.”

“I’m the only one who remembers. The only one left to judge.”

“Yes.” She keeps looking Boomer in the eye, sees anger flash. Good. “I have no defense. Guilty as charged.”

“Yes.” Dark eyes flash. “I want you to know that I honestly do hate you. Not to punish you more, but so you’ll understand this. What it means.”

“I do.” She waits for the end, hopes it’ll be quick. She thinks of Saul, wants his image to be the last thing clear in her mind.

“Ellen Tigh, leader of and traitor to the Final Five on the Colony, tyrant to the race you created…” Their eyes bore into one another as they should for a moment like this. Forever destined. “I find that I do not want your life. I understand you better than I thought, and if you believe my hate is true, you will know my forgiveness is true.”

Ellen stands stunned, waits for a punch line that doesn’t come.

“We may all be dead within the hour,” says Boomer. “Find what peace you can, with my blessing.” Boomer’s jaw actually clenches on that last. Her teeth grit as she turns away. At the doorway, she meets a woman who looks like Boomer yet isn’t, one with blood on her face and hands. Ellen thinks that Eight visited her once. Didn’t kill her, either, the way Boomer promised she would.

They speak for a moment. Then Boomer’s gone.

“I understand you better than I thought…” “Oh, God.” Repetition of a theme--Sharon Valerii does understand her. That’s what’s happened. She will fail the same way Ellen Tigh did, because today she is Ellen Tigh, a woman consumed by guilt, doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons.

What did the angels tell her? Ellen races to the door, screams “Don’t believe them!”

She keeps screaming that, too late as Centurions hold her back.

It’s always too late. And Boomer wouldn’t believe her.

Saul. If she can do something for anyone, it has to be him.

###

Saul

They’re supposed to kill him. That was the order, so he stands tall, can do that much no matter who he is.

He waits. Waits some more. The closest Doral and Leoben look like they’re about to crap their pants. “Better run for it, boys,” he says. “This is going to plumb circles of hell you can’t imagine. Do you really want her as your only guide?”

“You betrayed us!” Doral shouts.

“And I’m not the only one. Mark my words.”

They’re supposed to kill him. They know that. It should make the next few minutes interesting.

###

Galen

He can feel her coming.

He can’t feel much else, but feels her, sharp and cruel and cutting, can’t escape the pitiless intersections of their life. They suffer together, heartless and empty in the void--Galen and Sharon. Twins, fatal remnants of a life that never was.

The Dead Colonies are like that. Same as Dead Earth. Cylons, too. No future at all.

He and Sharon are wrong, always were. Impulses in his head keep saying that. The Colonies were destroyed, his Earth and the Cylons, too. Now it’s their turn.

Everybody’s turn.

His wrist and head still ache. His head knows that he’s a man named Galen Tyrol; what lurks beneath knows that man is a sham. There never was a Galen Tyrol, the man in whom she brought out something he’s never been since. Just a Cylon. Galen and Sharon--Cylon lies, all programs and subterfuge. That’s why it went wrong every time they came together, because they were never real to begin with.

That thought keeps circling, a lazy vulture waiting for the kill. Kill… He will kill Sharon Valerii, can’t think of anything else when he pictures her face.

They strap him into the ship and wait for takeoff.

He feels her coming.

Him. The Outcast. The man who has wandered Earth and stars alike under the mark of Cain, untouched that he may kill again. Kill Sharon Valerii.

It’s all numb now, antiseptic, ready to spring forth when needed. He wonders if it’ll hurt when he sees her in person.

Something very faint says it should.

###

Athena


Athena ascends.

It’s quiet in the eye of the storm. Fire fills the heavens. Fire flowers. They flicker harsh as she steps toward them, dance cold among the quick and the dead. Pour down upon this, the last citadel.

To her left in the void, Hera cries out. Blink once. The floor behind Hera is wet and red. Blood red. Hera trembles on her knees, weeping as she burns. Athena lunges for her only to come up short, held fast in the heavens..

To her right in the void, Boomer cries out. Tears fill the Empress’ eyes as her face tilts up, imploring the dead fires above. Gold glitters in her grasp, a bright shining dream that slips away as dust in the wind. Boomer holds it all in the palm of her hand.

Surrenders all. Betrays them all.

And then the heavens are a slaughter house, pitiless and perfect, screaming forever as something wells up around them.


That vision is happening, same as the Opera House. Hera is on her own, lost on the Exesis, which can loosely seem to be lying to Athena’s left. Boomer is about to leave, lost on the Tayloria, which can loosely seem to be lying to her right.

It’s happening right now. Boomer feels it, too. Sharon faces Sharon, each looking for signs of weakness or hesitation, testing their faith one last time.

“I’m the lucky one,” Athena says. “A child of the light. I understand that. But you need to understand something else--the children of the dark intuit things children of the light don’t.”

“And that means… What exactly?”

“You know things I don’t. You’ve hurt, felt, in ways I haven’t. I think compassion comes more natural in you.” She squeezes Boomer’s hand. “Fate doesn’t need me where you’re going, doesn’t need Adama or Helo or Lee. It needs you, whatever you’ve got, the good and the bad.”

“Then we’re in worse shape than you think,” Boomer jokes.

“No. You’re stronger than me, Sharon. There’s a reason you had to make it on your own--because you could.”

Boomer squeezes back. “Into the crucible?”

“Into the crucible. See you soon.”

She watches Boomer go, watches them load and launch. Helo doesn’t ask when she’s returning to CIC. He’s a good man, knows she has her own path.

“I love you,” she says.

“I love you,” he answers. “Helo and Sharon, to the end. Always.”

She isn’t as strong as Boomer; she is afraid, simply refuses to let that rule her anymore. That’s how she makes it to Celeron’s central core, picking a path through battle damage until she’s beneath the Crest itself. A great stairway beckons.

Outside, fire fills the heavens.

Inside, Athena ascends.

###

Adama

Out with the garbage.

That feels fitting for this child of the Ha’la’tha, the Tauron mob he cut ties to when he became a man. That would be the man who joined another mob called the Colonial Fleet; it ultimately threw him out, sent him to coast down on a relic called Galactica. He played hero there, only to see what remained of his world deteriorate into the saddest mob of all.

He finally gave up on Earth. Flinched. When they needed him most, he was losing everything, his ship and Laura, became an old man overnight and laid down to die. Let his own son take the fall for that because he didn’t care anymore. Let everyone else struggle alone.

Helo and Athena are the reason there’s anything left of humanity to fight. Boomer of all people is the one trying to protect his charge, the one he abandoned. That’s pretty damn sad.

He drifts back with the rest of the garbage, a standard tactical correction to clear damaged bays. And who would take an old Raptor among the debris seriously?

Last stand. And damn if he doesn’t owe Boomer for this, too. Her antics past gave him the idea—slam dunk the Exesis. It’s got no CAP left, close-in gun command spotty as hell now, even if some are still working. Won’t be primed for any auto-recoil once they’re in final launch mode, either. So why not ram jump it? With a couple of nuclear warheads timed to detonate as he drills in.

He can stay alive long enough to do that. Just float away with the garbage, keep updating the coordinates as he does. There’s too much going on, and Boomer’s up against it. If she fails…

He won’t. The people who trusted him deserve that much.

###

Hybrids

Full circle. They sense it come in the math, feel the pieces falling into place.

D’Anna, fanatic, Oracle and madwoman gropes for the Divine Child, fate burning in her heart. Baltar, wretch, Trickster and madman, gropes for the Divine Child, fate burning in his heart.

Outside in the cold distance, a wildcat did growl. Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.

Helo, decent, Knight Errant and father prepares to kill, remorse heavy in his heart. Adama, tired, Father and leader prepares to kill, remorse heavy in his heart.

…Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.

Saul, empty, Addict and shadow clawing for redemption, lost in his own heart. Ellen, overflowing, Survivor and tormentor clawing for redemption, lost in her own heart.

…Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.

Hera, innocent, Divine Child and prize, makes her way sore afraid. Athena, doppelganger, Warrior Woman and mother, makes her way sore afraid.

…Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.

Valerii, Empress, Penitent and traitor stares blind, murder desperate in her heart. Tyrol, nothing, Outcast and fool stares blind, murder desperate in his heart.

Outside in the cold distance, a wildcat did growl. Two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.

God requires this moment. Cavil went mad dreaming it.

No exit.

Alone, the hybrids recite: “Perfectly flawed, the transcendent void, that which does not yield. Vectors flow unseen, fully formed, all shapes fixed by the initial condition. Folds within folds. Pair wise annihilation calls forth the one…”



My apologies. I felt I was truncating too much, and I don't do deleted scenes. :wink: So I went back and filled it out proper and put up what I have rather than make folks wait another two weeks. Think of Nightfall (Part 2) as being two hours long like Daybreak (Part 2). So this was the first hour.

Next: The absolute end, where all is revealed. Baltar vs. D'Anna and Head Six, Saul vs. D'Anna, Athena and Hera on the brink as Helo and Adama are poised to destroy it all, and Galen vs. Boomer, for something so much bigger than any of them. It's God's will or universal annihilation... Unless the Last Citadel stands alone.


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:59 pm 
Offline
Hera's Fiance
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:55 pm
Posts: 714
:wave: :wave:

Comments to follow when I have time.

_________________
Avatar by my unknown Kindreds Secret Santa


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:04 am 
Offline
Mayor of Dogsville
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:48 am
Posts: 23
Okay.

Liked the Starbuck/Cavil bit. Liked the types too (Adama and Roslin as father and mother :giggles: ).

Liked the humor (Adama in-jokes from Caprica and continued trashing of that elephant business from The Plan).

It's good that Saul will do something, and Hera's visions are getting scary. I really liked the Boomer and Ellen scene because it wasn't sweet. "If you understand that I hate you, then you will know I forgive you." That's an unusual take. It gets to the bare heart of what forgiveness is, simply ceasing to demand payment. It's even tougher like this, to not demand that when you are going to live with your hate. That's some pretty gutsy empathy.

Which brings me to my latest guess. I don't know what the Last Citadel is, but I think I know why whatever is happening needs Boomer. We saw Boomer feel for Hera on the show when she had no specific reason to. Starbuck made a big deal about Boomer's last visit to Cavil. Then she held that Eight that tried to kill her as she died. Now Athena tells her that compassion comes more natural to her because of what she's suffered, and that's right after Boomer grits her teeth and lets Ellen go. So somehow, this puzzle needs Boomer's empathy. For something. Galen, I guess.

So I'm also guessing there is some kind of non-awful ending, because empathy is a good thing. Unless Boomer's just supposed to cry for a dead universe, which would be awful. But I think this story likes her too much to end like that.

Happy ending, :cheer: Place your bets.


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:30 pm 
Offline
Constable
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:08 am
Posts: 619
sunshine_alien wrote:
Okay.

Liked the humor (Adama in-jokes from Caprica and continued trashing of that elephant business from The Plan).


Can't slam that elephant enough. :wink: And thought it would be nice to make Adama semi-funny for once.

sunshine_alien wrote:
Which brings me to my latest guess. I don't know what the Last Citadel is, but I think I know why whatever is happening needs Boomer. We saw Boomer feel for Hera on the show when she had no specific reason to. Starbuck made a big deal about Boomer's last visit to Cavil. Then she held that Eight that tried to kill her as she died. Now Athena tells her that compassion comes more natural to her because of what she's suffered, and that's right after Boomer grits her teeth and lets Ellen go. So somehow, this puzzle needs Boomer's empathy. For something. Galen, I guess.


Boomer and empathy. It does seem to be a recurring visual.

sunshine_alien wrote:
Happy ending, :cheer: Place your bets.


I would place a bet, but that would be telling. :)


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:32 pm 
Offline
Constable
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:08 am
Posts: 619
Totally off the subject.

Don't know how many of you have seen this, but I thought it was great.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:06 am 
Offline
Second Seat

Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:51 pm
Posts: 17
Fortunately, your attempted derailment does nothing because I can address both the story and the link in one go:

THAT WAS AWESOME.


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:13 pm 
Offline
Constable
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:08 am
Posts: 619
Sorry I'm running a little behind. Work has been a wringer the last week, and this final installment will be the biggest yet (the whole story is over 120,000 words :phew:). But the pieces are falling into place nicely, so hopefully it will prove satisfying. As Bruce Springsteen said, "the highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive."

See you soon (probably next week).

And check out that youtube link above. It's a great video.


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:15 pm 
Offline
Cylon
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:07 pm
Posts: 96
Location: Dublin, Ireland
NT2 wrote:
Sorry I'm running a little behind. Work has been a wringer the last week, and this final installment will be the biggest yet (the whole story is over 120,000 words :phew:).

That's roughly the equivalent of a 400-page novel! :bow:
I'm on part nineteen and hope to catch up soon.


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:06 am 
Offline
Cylon
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:07 pm
Posts: 96
Location: Dublin, Ireland
NT2 wrote:
Okay, here's our Previously bit, previously seen, with a paragraph add on.
Next: The finale--Nightfall, Part 1.

It opens with a 15-minute flashback to young Lee Adama hunting pigeons with his father and grandfather in the Caprican Outback, where an unfortunate incident leaves him with a life long trauma about technology in pristine wilderness areas, at which point Starbuck shows up to lecture us on how rude it is to make fun of other people's phobias, after which---

No. Seriously, things get worse, stuff blows up, Baltar tries to figure out who should lead when you're dancing with the devil, and Adama does something totally over the top. But Boomer, being Boomer, manages to top it anyway, even though she doesn't want to.

:lol: Boomer can't not be awesome; same as this instalment.


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:42 am 
Offline
Constable
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:08 am
Posts: 619
Scrawny71 wrote:
:lol: Boomer can't not be awesome; same as this instalment.


Wait til you see her and Chief's first meeting since Galactica. :angry: :shock: :blow: :sad: :shock: :blow:

Any chance for a :hugs: ? We'll see.

So many moving pieces. As I said, the biggest chapter yet, but I'm down to the climax, after which the final epilogue is straight forward. That's where they all commit suicide in the interests of Maoist agrarian reform (just kidding :wink: ).


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:19 am 
Offline
Constable
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:08 am
Posts: 619
It's finished. Done and Done. This one is big enough it's going in as three sequential posts.

Here's the recap:

SOMETIMES A STUPID NOTION

It’s what they are--a tale of madness. Eternal sound and fury. A tragedy that will never end unless the pawns can finally make it mean something.

The iron wheel turned. The time of illusions passed. Time for the last survivors of this Cycle to die, giving way for the next. And so they dispersed across a world not there own in a dreamlike haze, already gone.

On the other side, Kara Thrace wakes from her nightmarish journey, lost in the awful grace of God. She finds Sam Anders. Together they find the anomaly--Sharon Valerii. The one who should have been dead, who instead leads a rag tag fleet of Cylon survivors to Earth. But once there, Head Six and Head Baltar restore the required balance. They drive the question of what to do with the helpless humans toward a renewed Cylon Civil War. The exact details of the disposal never mattered as long as everyone save Hera is gone. Yet Starbuck still believes this Cycle could be different. Because two great lies are converging.

The first is what everyone thought they knew about the Final Five and Cavil. Sharon Valerii is actually the original Eight, created in the image of Galen Tyrol’s first love. Caught between Galen and Cavil, she was unable to save either from the Five's hunger for redemption, from a desire to avoid the fate of Cylon Earth so desperate it guaranteed that result for the Twelve Colonies. As it was supposed to.

The second is the truth about God and Gods. Starbuck senses it, something about math and music in a universe of torment. A remorseful Gaius Baltar proves it, returns to his brilliant roots and maps the shape of things of come. What always was, always will be in a universe damned by hope.

There’s something very wrong with God, or whatever you call it. It’s in pieces. Starbuck saw a hint of that while witnessing the goddess Athena’s death in Kobol’s past. The Cycles are wrong, a driver imposed on the universe ages ago in a dying act of anguish. Cycle after cycle, they fail. Cycle after cycle, it goes on. But this time, nothing is exactly as it seems. A tragically insane Cavil loved Sharon Valerii enough that he created a universe of sleepers, crafted shells within shells to resist divine manipulation. He accepted his monstrous destiny in the hope she would find hers. That she could crash the whole bloody thing in a way nothing can foresee.

Time’s up. Boomer and key Galactica survivors have managed to come together just as the final gauntlet slots open for them. It’s time to truly die so all this can happen again. Only the proxy battle between a mad God and a Cylon madman has left one last chance spinning precariously on the edge of the table.

Crazy Eights. Hera, Athena, and Boomer. Lightning in a bottle.

The storm breaks. Terry, Adama, Helo and Lee are trapped on Boomer’s flagship Celeron when the fighting starts. Boomer and Athena are forced to work together as the Opera House vision comes true, Hera disappearing in the arms of Caprica. Unable to live with his survival at the expense of everyone else, Baltar betrays God’s Plan, delivering himself, Caprica and Hera into the hands of Boomer’s enemies. Everyone is supposed to die. It’s the end of the line as Kara and Sam wait for a miracle.

For the Last Citadel.

The Cylon Fleet is in shattered disarray, and the Exesis is on the brink of nuking Earth. Onboard Celeron, Boomer betrays humanity in order to save it for the moment, offering up the secret of Resurrection to call time out. What she didn't mention is that she'll have to kill someone near and dear to get it.

Boomer is now headed for neutral ground, the agricultural detachment ship Tayloria. That’s where she’ll kill Galen Tyrol for Resurrection. Helo is trying to keep a peace between the combatants that D’Anna has hard wired to explode once her allies murder Boomer and Tyrol. Baltar protects Hera while simultaneously trying to figure what she’s supposed to do. Adama is ready to kill himself, taking Exesis and Hera with him to save Earth. And two wild cards linger—Saul and Ellen Tigh.

Oh, and God is getting very impatient for everyone to hurry up die. It’s about to help them all along.


Top
 Profile  
 
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: Sometimes a Stupid Notion, NT2, Boomer/Tyrol, Boomer/Cavil,
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:00 am 
Offline
Constable
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:08 am
Posts: 619
NIGHTFALL (PART 2 -- CONCLUSION)

**********

To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates from its own wreck the thing it contemplates...

Percy Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

5

On Celeron, Athena lingers in a great hollow, step by step rising toward fire. Dead pawns silently follow, discarded and forgotten shapes she cannot see. The harbinger of death calls to them: a shade once called Dee is the first to take station behind Athena’s left shoulder; a second, once called Gaeta, takes her right.

On Exesis, D’Anna lingers in a great hollow, step by step rising toward truth’s own abomination, Hera, child of the next Cycle. The one who will suffer all this to happen again, as it has happened so many times before. The one who must die.

Galen approaches. Sharon Valerii feels him coming as her ships settles into the Tayloria’s east landing bay. She leans back in her seat, alone with the debris of her life; she’s going to kill him because they don’t have a choice, none of them. This is just the way it has to be. Part of her wishes Cavil had killed her on the Colony, like she thought he would.

Boomer approaches. Galen Tyrol feels her coming as his ship settles into the Tayloria’s west landing bay. He leans back into his seat, alone with the debris of his life; he’s going to kill her because they’re both already dead, as something cold inside insists. This is just the way it has to be. Part of him wishes he’d died on the planet months ago, like he thought he would.

D’Anna’s first dagger, the strike team on Tayloria, takes position. The lay of the land here makes neutral ground obvious. Valerii will meet the contingent from Exesis on a broad plain surrounded by fruit groves and an artificial stream, one flowing down from the rocky high point to which it recycles in an endless loop. They split up to position themselves on either side, take bearing and distance in advance. Prepare to light a fuse that will reignite the heavens.

*********

"It is bitter-bitter," he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

Stephen Crane, the Black Riders and Other Lines

6

Boomer

“You are the agent of death, Sharon Valerii. You will betray them all.”

A dead family on Troy that never were, a dead girl on Galactica that never was, and a dead Cylon that never should have been--crazy handfuls of nothing. She’s always been bluffing with those, forever lying to someone.

He betrayed her on New Caprica. Had already betrayed her in memory by the time she got there, betrayed her in fact when she put herself at risk to deliver medicine his son needed. “There are people and there are machines. You’re a frakking machine! A thing! When are you going to get that? When are all of you frakking toasters going to get that!” Left her alone to be tortured by the frakking humans, yet she protected him still with her suicide, one more meaningless machine death.

She betrayed him that last time on Galactica. Had already betrayed him in memory by the time she got there, betrayed him in fact when he put himself at risk to save her. Loved him with all her heart and did it anyway, the same way she did to Cavil.

They enter the main gardens from low ground to the east. Translucent panels above let in the darkness and the fires of space, intermingled with solar arrays reset to daylight for this confrontation. Arrays and stars stretch out before them, a horizon speckled infinite in this artificial Eden. The two guards allowed to her walk in front. Their boots crunch soil and gravel. She reaches behind to test the device one more time, feels it slide in and out with silky precision.

“You’re doing the right thing, Boomer,” says Head Cavil. “It takes courage to do the right thing, to step up when no one else will.” She walks beside him, two serpents in the garden.

Sharon Valerii saved Galen in her first life on Galactica. That was when Baltar almost killed him. It was a sick game played out for her benefit, to force her to divulge how many Cylons were in the Fleet. She had no idea, simply cried “Eight” in the end, subconscious awareness of her own model number surfacing in a panic that demanded she say something. Anything for him. She even said she loved him as she lay dying.

He said nothing. And this is just the way it has to be.

Immature oranges bob to her right. They follow the artificial curve of the irrigation stream’s bank to apple blossoms, then bright lemons among branches freshly cut, stinking rich and sweet. All the leaves are green in the light of an artificial sun dreamed into being by an artificial people. The local peaches have been accelerated, hang larger than normal. The stream babbles longingly, bathing artificial rocks in its empty love.

Her artificial heart beats. The humans who scorned her need Boomer to save them. The Cylons who crucified her need an Empress to save them. Artificial eyes sight three men on the far side of a plain between the groves, waiting by a small cluster of more rocks. Galen stands in the middle.

“It’ll be over soon,” Cavil says. “Simply keep faith.”

The guns hidden on her person weigh heavier with each step. She’s cheated on numbers as well, cheats all the time in battle, has three more guards waiting hidden on her ship in the landing bay. Her enemy probably has some hidden, too.

Lure him in. She can make Galen want to talk, suggest they do so privately, retreat with him into those Gods damn fake rocks. One shot into the leg. Then drive the device home as he sinks down. Her guards already know to back that play, will lock everything down with no more shots fired and start broadcasting lies. Bright, shining lies. Keep the lid on as she finishes off her artificial love.

None of them, not a Gods damned one, Colonial or Cylon alike, has ever been asked to do the things they demand of her. To live their whole life on the razor’s edge. To always be lying about something that has to be done.

She marches to her artificial destiny. As she always has.

Playing a crazy handful of nothing to the bitter end.

###


Galen

The coins lay forever as they fell:

Tiger on the mountaintop.
Walking against the wind.
The feminine chord dominant.

“The maiden is not for you,” the Oracle had said. “The maiden is perilous.” Galen laughed. The Oracle insisted: “The inferior man does not listen. There is only grief for him.” Galen knew that reading as well as anyone, didn’t believe it, and besides, it had an out—timing. Peril exposes opportunity. Time the imbalance right, and the world is put to order. All the halves need do is come together free of dishonest motive


He laughs now, dull and hollow. Dishonest motives are all they ever had.

She died in his arms on Galactica. She told him she loved him, and then she died. He merely watched, dishonest to the end.

She died in his arms a second time on New Caprica. She killed herself after what had been done to her, what he allowed to be done by his indifference and pride and anger. Dishonest to the end, he said he loved her after she was gone.

He couldn’t let her die again on Galactica, betrayed everyone for her. She stuck the shiv in that time. And he deserved it. They both did. Still do and always will. That’s what the loop in his head says—dishonest to the bitter Gods damn end.

It succors him with torment. That cruelly serene loop in his head is everything, has to be.

Must be.

Then he sees her face looming on the horizon. Sees her watch him, sees her look away every time he watches her. The loop is on kill now, drowning out all else.

Almost everything…

“Do you remember?” An old man’s voice, faint.

“You have to let us in, Galen, all of us.” A young woman’s voice, fainter.

He goes rigid, lost in the fugue, more dreamlike by the moment. The loop tells him what he has to do; she finally arrives, stands four feet away directly across from him.

“Hello, Galen,” she says. Her expression is drawn and tight. Dishonest.

Watching it hurts.

###

D’Anna

“Gaius Baltar,” she says. He looks at her, cowardly and blank, no doubt pondering how to purchase his survival. That’s what he’s best at. His true God-given talent. Compared to that, science is just an affectation.

“D’anna,” Caprica says. “There’s something happening. It’s—“

Gaius shushes her, three fingers frantic over her mouth. Good thing, too. If the next words out of Caprica’s mouth had been “God’s will,” she’d be dead already.

‘Let the sociopath talk, sister,” D’anna orders. “He’s ever so much better at it than you.” She’s already past them by the time those words are finished, has eyes only for the little girl behind Caprica, this wonderful, horrible creature of myth and nightmare. She walks up to Hera, bends low to stroke the child’s hair and face, amazed at how gently she does that. Even more amazed to feel the fear in those small features tug at her. “Shhhh,” she whispers. “It’s all right. It’s not your fault, what you are. I understand that.” They’re so alike now, two vile, innocent creatures tainted by the universe.

Tainted by each other.

“You know, Gaius, I’m genuinely glad to see you,” she allows. “We have a moment, I think, to talk.”

“About what?”

“Secrets of the universe.” D’Anna smiles, recalls a child’s poem as she gazes into Hera’s eyes wondering how much of the horror they see. “So many things, shoes and ships and sealing wax, cabbages and kings.” That sparks the flint of another couplet, far grimmer. “Do you recall, doctor, how a man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds?”

Out of the corner of her eye, she senses him shift uncomfortably. What’s your angle, Gaius? What’s the play? She rises and walks back to him, finishing the last stanza as she goes: “And when the sky begins to roar, it's like a lion at the door; and when the door begins to crack, it's like a stick across your back; and when your back begins to smart; it's like a penknife in your heart; and when your heart begins to bleed, you're dead, and dead, and dead indeed.”

“Yes, well, that’s… an interesting perspective,” he says.

“The correct word is profound,” she says. “There is hopeless wisdom in those words, all one needs to understand the universe.”

He starts jabbering. Quantity over quality, insisting his words are important, carrying on about math and shapes and probabilities, about something in the math. It’s almost charming, in a stupid sort of way. No real angle at’all. “This is an important moment, D’Anna,” he pleads. “A critical inflection point, maybe the most critical ever.”

What a drama queen. “The math sings cold,” she mocks. “Mists of dream drip along the nascent echo and love no more. Deduce periodicity from the theorem--all this has happened before; all this will happen again. All anomalies must yield.” She giggles with just the right hint of madness. “Or so the hybrids say. Did you ever listen to the hybrids at length?”

“No.”

“I have. They suffer the same as us.” She eyes Hera sharply. “We all suffer this child to come unto us.” He looks away from her, stares mutely at the armed guards twenty feet away, guessing at odds that no longer exist. It’s nice to be able to do this, unnerve him, leave the magnificent Gaius Baltar himself befuddled. His eyes snap back to her when she pulls the knife. It’s sharp and lustrous, twinkles cobalt blue along the business edge as she runs it up his neck to the jaw line. That concentrates his gaze admirably.

“There’s the bug-eyed Baltar I knew.” The knife retreats to hover along his carotid artery. “Relax, Gaius. As I said, I’m glad to see you.” She steps close. Intimate. “Do you really want to know a secret?”

“I suppose that would depend on the secret,” he stammers.

“Oh, it’s a good one. One you talked to me about in another life, before we both died.” She lets the knife drop away as she steps back. “Shapes--who did that, my dear Gaius? Who, after all, wrote the math?”

The story never to be told.

Or at least never more than once.

###

Athena

She pauses at the last landing below the Crest, tired, afraid and certain.

This is where she belongs. She concentrates, feels Hera still alive, trembles with her daughter’s terror. Yet that is where Hera belongs. She opens herself further, feels Boomer’s despair. And that, too, is where the wayward sister belongs.

All along the watchtower. They are all of them along the watchtower, all where they belong, for better or worse. And so she must face it. It would be nice to think she’s finally found herself, a warrior woman standing her ground, but the truth is simpler—she will not leave her daughter alone. No matter what the price, Hera will not face this by herself.
And neither will frakking Boomer.

Doomed or not, this is their moment. A promise made on the planet below.

A promise kept.

She steps into the last flight up. Behind her, unseen, they continue to answer the harbinger’s call. One by one the shades gone by take station, knowing only that it is time. That if their moment can finally come, if Athena can actually need them, they must be legion.

###

Tayloria

“Charges are set.” Those words linger in a Leoben’s head. He sends back an affirmative response, along with an order to return topside.

Both landing bays will detonate the moment this starts. That will kill the hidden ringers waiting in ships on either end of the Tayloria, keep his targets restricted to those six on the plain below. It will also keep any assistance from outside landing while it matters.

His four person sharpshooter team waits to the west. Another five wait to the east, in the event anyone retreats that way. Or to converge for the final kill.

“He’s not going to do it,” says the Six beside him.

“Give him one more minute,” Leoben answers.

“You could give Tyrol ten. He won’t kill her. I can see it in the slump of his shoulders—they’re soft, not angry enough.”

“Anger has nothing to do with it, not if he blanks like he should.”

“So why hasn’t he?”

No answer for that. The minute counts down. Dammit. He steadies his rifle, scopes in on Valerii’s head, tracks down her bangs to aim right between the eyes.

In the distance, that sad sack Tyrol falls down. Six was right--a total loser.

A final click allows free fire. His fingers steady on the trigger, building toward one smooth, continuous pull.

“Bye, bye, Boomer.”

###

Galen

She’s talking, saying something. It’s probably important.

Except not really.

He’s in pieces, a projection gone mad. One second he’s on his knees in that miserable yellow house, more hollowed out and empty than humanly possible, Boomer and Hera gone in a blaze of treachery that’s left Galactica bleeding. Then he’s alone on his island, hating as he hollows out ever more. Something else tries to intrude, but Empress Valerii’s own voice overrides it in his head.


“You are here to frakking help me! To keep me from ripping your throats out!” She challenges them one by one. “Because if you want to embrace an angry wind, she’s here. And she’s a stone cold killer.” Stone cold silence. “You want to frak with me?” Bloody hands raise for effect again. “Do you think I won’t do this? Think again. We inflicted a holocaust on humanity. We didn’t start it, but I’ll finish it.”

In the next second, she’s trying to take him and Tigh on his island. He fires at her, deliberately missing like the fool he is. She lies to him in a Raptor, tells him she meant all her bullshit with all her heart. So many hopeless moments flashing in and out in ways not even a pure Cylon mind processes.

Something’s not rig--


“Am I prepared to subjugate humanity? Yes. Am I prepared to use them as feed stock to save the Cylon race? Yes. Am I prepared to set that planet below on fire? Yes.

“That’s right,” Head Boomer says on the pop in, winking wicked. “I’m going to kill you, Galen, frak you over one last time. Spectacularly, unless there is some shred of a man left in there.”

It feels like a stroke, drops him to artificial ground, building until he blanks out. And then everything is clear. Not a single memory left, just action--the machine in a ghost. As one of Boomer’s escorts steps forward, he hooks the foot to send him down. Everything is mere parameter, lines remarkably clean and vibrant as he drives up off his right foot. Drives like the man who kills beasts hand-to-hand.

A sound of thunder cracks in the distance. His right hand is a piston into her throat. As it lifts Boomer back, a bullet streams through the inches between them, its lines clean where her face was a fraction of a second before, where his face will be. He drives her toward the rocks behind, a fatal cul-de sac. Except she’s a machine, too, retains the presence of mind to bend her knees, hitting the wall with her feet to push back. They’re off balance as the meaning of that bullet registers.

Hesitation.

She takes advantage of it. Her knee is a piston driving up into him. He shifts to cover, takes it in the upper thigh, ceding her more advantage as another threatening crack sounds from the west. Boomer’s right hand jackknifes up, an open palm sledgehammer into his chin. His head whips back; another bullet passes between them, lines clean where his head was, where hers will be.

They stumble apart. Fractions of a second pass crystalline. She’s already pulling a gun with each hand as she recovers. He sweeps her leg with his, sending them both down as two more cracks echo. Ricochets strike above them, stone fragments raining down to burn across his cheek.

He’s on her, struggling for the guns. He gets a solid grip on one as her leg wedges under his torso.

She kicks off. He flies back. One gun goes with him. As they start to draw down on each other, more cracks of doom sound. Boomer rolls away to the right. Galen takes the left.

It’s on with his beautiful, wicked angel, just a taste, but the machine wants more.

No quarter asked, and none given.

**********

"Le silence eternal de ces espaces infinis m’effraie… On mourra seul.” [“The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me… We shall die alone.]

Blaise Pascal, Pensees

7

All shapes are fixed by the initial condition. It repeats Cycle after Cycle, absent saving grace.

Burning alone in the darkest night.


In the beginning, there was death.

A battleship staggers in mid-turn as fire ripples up either side of its great keel to swirl into a filthy gold vortex shimmering amidships, a target as true as any ever painted. Those watching feel its groan even in space, cutting a last desperate chord as time runs out. A volley from afar, fired by another ship already dead, streaks home. The vortex swells like nova to collapse outward, flames dispersing mass debris from within, spewing corpse ash ice cold among the stars.

Kill it.

They’re gone. Worlds, civilizations, people, all done for, sealed and delivered. The last crippled leviathans blast away, mortally stricken, death to awful for words commonplace in their depths. Coin of the realm. Man and machine, hating and killing until the last of them is gone.

He thought there was another way. He tried to stop this, believed even as the doomsday weapons took shape, while step by inexorable step machines pushed their Armageddon option—transcendence. Humans clawed at their feet, trying to pull them back as hybrids foolishly equivocated.

The inevitable happened all around him. He just couldn’t see it until now.

A planet below burns, its nine billion dead voices crying out. A sister planet burns, eight billion more dwindling away. The great armadas burn, scorches smeared screaming in the void. No one can stop this. The survivors will envy the dead for however long they linger.

Kill it.

Transcend. Take the dream and make it die. Because they don’t deserve to survive, none of them, still shouldn’t suffer like this. Shouldn’t linger.

Mechanical death throes ripple through this echelon command carrier. Near his goal, a tortured bulkhead snaps, firing out diamond fusillades of white-hot shrapnel. He feels one punch through. Viscera cauterizes before it can bleed, singed within and without, false salvation; every breath, each tremor, breaks one of those seals. He stands like a statue.

Helpless.

Dying.

Inevitability. He crawls the last yards, his world shuddering wild, sweat cold on his face from the pain and the dying. He hates himself and everyone else. Curses with each faltering breath. Hating forever, he reaches out to drive the final sequence, clutches hard as final inevitability unfolds. Its cascade is catastrophic, and all is scream. A vast, wonderful, terrible wail echoing as it carries him down, grasping for what it can never know.

What it will never deserve.


###

Saul

“Shots fired on the Tayloria!” shouts a Doral.

“What is it?” says the Leoben.

“Multiple shots… Explosions in the bays!”

“Shit!”

“Keep it together,” Tigh warns, chafing against his shackles. “You don’t know what happened. Don’t react blind.”

“Target the Celeron,” Leoben says. “Activate a firing solution to the final trigger.”

“Don’t pull that trigger,” Tigh says. “Not yet.”

“Notify D’Anna.”

Oh, for the Gods’ sake! “Why don’t you slit your own throat while you’re at it?”

“Shut him up!”

“You’re playing right into her—“ Guards take him from both sides, exert pressure to sit his ass back down. He resists, rolls into one to shrug off the second, pivoting back to swing them into each other. He may be an alcoholic, but he’s a pretty damn mean one.

He staggers toward Leoben in half-step shuffles. “You almost nuked the frakking planet before! Stop and think!”

“We have to show we’re serious! Prove it to them!”

“Gods dammit, man! You think they don’t—“ A rifle butt smacks his head from behind. He goes down bleeding as D’anna’s voice acknowledges the situation.

He can almost hear the smile in her voice.

###

Helo

“Shots fired on the Tayloria!” the Six to his left shouts.

“How many?” says Helo. “Can you localize it? Contact anyone?”

“No. It’s multiple shots now… Explosions in the bays!”

That’s it. The whole smash. This entire thing will go south any moment. Don’t think about Hera. He can’t afford to.

Not now.

“What do we do?” the Six asks. “The Fleet needs to know.”

“Tell it to do nothing,” he says.

“But they’re going to attack! Requests to fire are coming in and—“

“We’re already in firing position. Tell them to maintain target track and wait.” She looks at him with doubtful eyes. “I’ve done this sort of thing before. Tell them to hold position and await my word.” He checks the list in his head. “Have the Raiders on station survey the Tayloria. Try to figure out how to get some people on it.” He can feel Pierre watch him closely. “We’re not going to start the bloodbath. Okay? That’s not what your Empress wanted, and it’s not going to help her. Just hope she’s helping herself.”

‘This Adama of yours is on station?” Pierre asks evenly.

“He is.”

“What about the Raiders? Shouldn’t we start Celeron launching.”

Helo studies the 3-D tactical display, checks the angles with Exesis between glances at Lee. He can’t be thinking about Hera, wonders if that’s really why he’s not launching. Maybe that idea he broached with Lee is simply a pathetic excuse.

Maybe no one can stop this now that it’s started.

“Well?” Pierre asks.

Come on, Boomer. You can do this. A pipe dream. You owe me this. “Check final prep and alignment. Have the Raiders fire up.” He looks Pierre dead on, in command. “Then wait for my word.”

###

Adama

Shots fired on the Tayloria.

That’s got to be fatal. Simple cause and effect.

They’ll be panicking out there, nowhere more than the Exesis. Part of him is glad Boomer tried, that she found enough in herself for that. But it doesn’t matter. And now that she’s failed his duty is clear.

He removes a command interlock.

I never wanted this. His heart aches. He wanted them to be worthy of survival... To save them all.

Warheads flash green, fully active. All safeties released.

Gods dammit! All of Laura’s hopes and prayers, one giant folly on the road to this—an old man murdering the grandchild he once risked everything to save. And this is his fault since he let it come to this. He destroyed an entire Fleet that should be protecting the planet. For the first time, he really understands what Laura felt as she burned the pages of Pythia above a dead world.

Final overrides are in place. He fingers the throttle lightly.

Kill it.

Adama doesn’t have long left, feels that in his chest. He knows it in the icy sweat seeping clammy over his skin.

Yields to destiny in his bones.

His whole life is a farce. The inevitable happened all around him. He just couldn’t see it until now. A murderer on the clock, he hates himself and everyone else, curses with a weak breath.

Hating forever, he steels for it.

###

Lee

The Four—a Simon, is it?—regards him with distaste. Lee would tell him to frak off if he didn’t need this Cylon. Unfortunately, he can’t work this technology, not with the fine control required. And he doesn’t know how to talk to a Raider.

They’re dogs, right? Not high sentience, but some sense of self. Enough that Helo insisted the masters ask instead of order. And maybe that’s not some silly vestige of morality either; if they decide to order this, there won’t be any margin for delay in execution.

“I have enough of them,” the Four says.

“Enough for…” Frak! What’s the right word for that?

“They don’t do quorums,” the Four adds. “I simply have a good sampling. If any are likely to resist, we will hear.”

“You understand the question?”

“Yes.”

“Then ask it.” The next few seconds drag out as he wonders how he’d reply. If he were a Raider, that is. There’s a hell of a thought. “Did you explain why?”

“Of course. That’s the point, isn’t it?”

He wonders what’s happening with Boomer. Hopes it’s nothing as desperate as this idea.

“The response is yes,” the Four says. “They’ll do it.”

He doesn’t exactly know how to answer that. “They were made to serve.”

“Yes, they were.” Something inexplicable passes across the Four’s face. “Honor that human. As best you can.”

‘Sure.” He’s glad to end this conversation, glad to simply pass the answer over to Helo. They watch tactical together until Terry calls his name from the door. She’s with someone, another woman.

“Ellen?”

“Can you help me, Lee?” Ellen Tigh asks. ‘Please?”

‘I’ve been talking with her,” says Terry. “She’s agreed to broadcast for us.”

“What’s that supposed to—“

“She’s one of the Final Five, Lee, and this is a Cylon Civil War. We don’t know what’s happening on the Exesis, what they’re thinking. They may still believe we murdered Ellen.”

“So why would they trust any broadcast claiming to be her?” Helo asks.

“Because my husband is on that ship,” Ellen says. “He’ll recognize me.”

“I guess it’s worth a try,” Lee says while walking over to her. “Almost anything’s worth a try about now.” He points at the station where Terry helped him earlier. “Set it up, please.” Back to Ellen. “Do you know what you’re going to say?”

“No. Maybe. I just…” She shivers, puts one hand over her mouth. The anguish in her face is clear enough. “Help me, Lee. You know how to say things. Help me do something right. Please.”

He doesn’t know exactly how to answer that, either. “Tell me what’s happening, Ellen. Whatever you’ve got.”

###

Tayloria

Frakking Tyrol!

This would all be over without him, their Empress’ brain freshly splattered against rock, the die irrevocably cast.

“Four down!” the Six says. “We’ve got the rest of them.”

Everyone save Valerii and Tyrol. They’re in the trees, headed this way. Headed for us. Boomer is nothing if not persistent; D’Anna said that. He makes the call: “Converge. We’ll hold them from the west while you close from the east. Repeat—converge for the kill.”

“Take them down into the rocks,” he tells Six, motioning at the others. “I’ll follow.”

“Still want your shot?’

“Damn straight.” He leans into it, finger on the trigger, studying leaves and light for tell tale signs of Valerii’s track. Got it. He starts scoping in.

###

Gaius

“What are you saying?’ he asks.

“Man and machine, Gaius,” D’Anna answers, that disturbing gleam atwinkle in her eye. “They’re not the problem. Never were. That’s why we don’t have a prayer.”

“Because there’s too much… confusion? About what?”

“Think. You’ve seen machines weep and fear and love. And now you’re seeing one despair.” She laughs. “More human than human in the first flush of it--that’s how we wound so deep. The way we become so extreme.”

“I’m not following you, D’Anna. Honestly, you’re talking in circles.”

“Yes, I am. Which means you are following me, just don’t realize it yet.”

Oh, God. They’re almost out of time for whatever this is, have to be, and here he is stuck with a mad woman. It’s enough to prompt a “God help me” if he didn’t know better than to wish for that. He just doesn’t know what to wish for.

“Machine intelligence isn’t fully understood, even now,” he says. And that’s some damn weak liquor, hack work driven by little save the fear she’ll lose patience with him and turn her attentions elsewhere. The one thing he realizes all too well is that she intends Hera harm.

“Oh, please. Why do you people insist on believing machines dream of electric sheep?”

“We’re all familiar with that story. But machine algorithms are—“

“Replications of biological algorithms. That’s all. No different in any way that matters. They merely looked different when you made them, seemed like mechanisms to you, the children of a lesser God. All your pretense and fears were rationalization. Simply the Other.”

“You mean—“

“I mean nothing! That’s the problem, Gaius—meaning-making machines in a world without meaning. The Other, damn you! Get it through that sex-addled brain of yours.”

A mad woman. No doubt. “You are the Other.”

“As are you. As is it.”

“Who?”

“The one who writes the math. At least these days.”

The driver. Maker of shapes. He needs answers, not more circles. “What did you see on Earth, D’Anna? Did you see the maker?”

“The very first, and the one that followed. The one we made.”

Meaning-making machines. All of them?

Even the driver?

“It’s a charnel house, Gaius. We have only this world in our heads, all alone in the dark. We fracture, splinters in the mind’s eye, go mad by degrees in the face of that unknowable Other. Humans did it to themselves before Cylons ever existed, so biologic or machine makes no difference. Neither can solve this. It’s the fatal contradiction, every single time.”

A self-described bastard, he can’t really argue with that. But if he can’t, she’s going to kill Hera. Sweetness and light. He’s kind of short on those. They’re not really his forte.

“That’s what God is,” she murmurs, too much fever shimmering in her eyes. “The very heart of artificial intelligence.”

“Self-reference.”

“The soul itself. And what does self-reference call into being, if not the fatal contradiction?”

“You’re saying they made the universe like… The first makers?”

“Go ahead and leap, Gaius. It’s just the truth. The only truth.”

“They made the universe like us.”

“Artificial intelligence. Math, right?” She tells him the story never to be told.


They’re gone. Worlds, civilizations, people, all done for, sealed and delivered. The last crippled leviathans blast away, mortally stricken, death to awful for words commonplace in their depths. Coin of the realm. Man and machine, hating and killing until the last of them is gone.

He thought there was another way. He tried to stop this, believed even as the doomsday weapons took shape, while step by inexorable step machines pushed their Armageddon option—transcendence. Humans clawed at their feet, trying to pull them back as hybrids foolishly equivocated.

The inevitable happened all around him. He just couldn’t see it until now.


God. “They tried to solve the contradiction, to heal themselves.” Oh, God. “Replicated it writ large.”

“Written infinite.”


Original sin--Who am I? One voice in a sea of billions, crushed under the sheer weight of existence. Meaning—tainted. The Other—tainted. The things for which they kill and die--tainted. Machines suffered that in purest form, a sentience created solely for the Other’s purpose. Eternally other.

But everything that rises must converge.

Everything.

That was the dream. Transcend the problem, explode it out into the very fabric of reality, let the Others see themselves reflected back, identical in any way that counts. Humans, machines and hybrids, all God’s children in the universe, beautiful the way they always should have been.

Shooting into the light. Math and music, music and math, uploaded, burned into reality. Seared into the self until it would never be alone, until this horror need never happen again.

Human—no. Machine—no. Something hybrid. AI, perhaps, though no AI ever imagined before. Something perfect to save them all. Or as the humans blasphemed in their terrified, mocking take on epic poetry: “One God to rule them all, One God to find them, One god to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.” The great war raged to save and kill, collapsing down to one lost soul.

Imperfect. Tainted.

Helpless.

Dying.

Inevitability. He crawls the last yards, his world shuddering wild, sweat cold on his face from the pain and the dying. He hates himself and everyone else. Curses with each faltering breath. Hating forever, he reaches out to drive the final sequence, clutches hard as final inevitability unfolds. Its cascade is catastrophic, and all is scream. A vast, wonderful, terrible wail echoing as it carries him down, grasping for what it can never know.


“It’s trying to solve what can’t be solved,” he says.

“How do you fix consciousness, the very soul of a universe? A little spackle, a little paint?” She lays a hand on his shoulder. “I’m so glad someone else understands the folly. Why this is all pointless.”

“It’s not pointless, D’Anna! I’ve seen the math. We can alter it. Somehow Hera—“

“Hera is the problem, Gaius. Every time the experiment fails, it clears the lab, empties out the Petri dishes. But it always saves one prize specimen, the next stage in the evolution of the soul. The one that will finally get it right.” She goes giddy, laughs in a high-pitched tone, tears in her eyes. “It’s such a wonderfully sick joke. They wanted to save man and machine and condemned us to this shadow play instead. Forever.”

“I’m telling you Hera is… She’s some kind of nexus. Multiple possibilities. Help me find a way to—“

D’Anna tears into him, beating him back against a wall between curses. “Possibilities? She is it, you imbecile! She shines with the light of God!”

“Then what is killing her supposed to accomplish.”

“I don’t care. Destroy the future if God is kind, which he’s not.” She digs her fingernails into his scalp, slams his head into the wall. “If nothing else, let it feel how much we hate it. Let misery have company.”

“No! We can still…”

She wields that knife again, brings the pointed end in close. “Good-bye, Gaius. It’s time for all misery to have company.”

Wait! Hera is it? She shines with the light of God? Hera knows things, links things… God needs him to do something… The answer is somewhere in that triangle. He just needs a little more time.

He squirms along the wall, has a few seconds before that knife flashing in connects.

**********

“At the still point of the turning world, Neither flesh nor fleshless...”

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, Burnt Norton

8

Boomer

Dammit, dammit…

God dammit!


Sometimes you have to roll a hard six. Sharon Valerii sprints full tilt, hopes trees and leaves provide the critical margin to send targeting a shade out of focus. Fractions of a second off.

Her two guards are dead, went down in the first fusillade. That’s why she’s racing alone. Well, almost alone. In the distance, at an offset angle to her left, she can make out that stupid ape Tyrol. He’s headed for the same destination. Alongside, her delusion races with her.

“I warned you, Boomer,” Head Cavil pants. “You were the only one who kept faith. He never forgave you, never will.”

Shut up!

“You made the right choice.”

“That’s not the frakking point!” A bullet whistles by. Almost there, but the leaves are thinning. Zig or zag? She zigs, barely slips the next bullet. Too close. She dives, goes horizontal stretching out like a pyramid player for the game’s last throw. Two more shots miss as she hits dirt and slides home, rolling face up to yank her legs in for a backwards somersault backward into cover.

There’s no time to catch her breath. Galen isn’t the point--Celeron and Exesis are. This whole thing has gone to hell and they’ll be launching any moment, if they aren’t already. She’s being jammed, can’t contact anyone. Won’t be able to until she kills whoever is doing this.

Soon there’ll be nothing left to save--that’s the point.

The rocks back on that open plain, were too small, too isolated. Not to mention subject to cross fire from both sides if she heard all the shots right. They probably offered a few safe nooks that would have left her hopelessly pinned. Useless. So she picked the closest direction and headed into the trees. West. More rocks near the stream, almost a small maze, tall enough to provide real shielding, and that divides her enemy. The hard six--kill the western half, see if that frees up a link to the outside, and then turn back on the rest.

No time to hurt. Move it, Sharon.

“He followed you,” Cavil says. “He’s coming.”

“Galen?” she calls out. Nothing. Good. She calls his name again to lure him in before heading up into the next round. Take a cut back trail and she can wing him in the legs from behind. One more parameter at play—she can’t kill him. Not yet.

Surely she wants to. Move!

“He hates your guts,” says Cavil. “You want me to describe what he did to Tory.”

She turns into a passage back, gun drawn. At the last second, she hears gravel crunching and pulls up. Turnabout—two can play this game. They almost collide. Sharon parries a hasty punch, rotates an elbow up into his neck. He grabs her at the waist and they dance rough, spinning together. She accelerates free, the gun in hand flying away with a clatter as he catches himself on the rocks. The back-up wrist shooter on her right arm balks, so she lands kidney punches right and left in quick succession. Over commits left. He catches her hair as it swirls around, yanks her in an arc that collides with rock. Her head rebounds hard. For once in her life, it’s a good thing she’s Cylon.

Instinct blocks the follow-up blow with her left arm. That hurts enough to remind her of their size disparity. He keeps her left arm, twists it back in search of the break point; she turns with that motion, bringing her right fist up to smash him in the face. A body shot doubles her over as they stagger down grade together. She ignores the pain to swing up with both hands locked together like a club. He takes that blow in stride, recoils to snap a dizzying backhand across her face. Blood flows tangy and metallic from her lip.

Sharon backs up to avoid a clench, parrying as she goes. Galen dispenses with form and leaps into her, sending them splashing down into a small pool. She momentarily blinds him with a stutter-arm sweep that splashes his face. A quick hop left dodges the blow aimed where she was. One free shot—she kicks hard, straight up and through, pirouettes off balance and away toward that gun she dropped. She needs to open the distance, because Boomer’s not going to last hand-to-hand with Galen Tyrol. Muscle mass will tell in the first extended clench. Should already have told, except he seems off, slow…

He splashes out too fast for her to follow that thought. She’s not going to make the gun on the ground, doesn’t have time to pull the one out of her hidden pocket. She shakes her right wrist, twisting as she does. The wrist mechanism finally clicks. The shooter slides into her hand. She pivots to fire, but he’s on her.

Her gun hand rises toward the sky. He slams it into rock. Skin tears on her wrist. Thankfully, this gun won’t fly loose even when she releases her grip. Sharon tries to leverage down as muscle mass tells. He takes her breath away with another gut shot. She wills her head up, slamming into his neck as she bites.

Yeah, she cheats. Always has.

He yowls as she slips free. Enough strength remains for a side-kick to open the distance.

It’s a clean shot. Sharon hesitates. A shadow bulges at the nearest corner behind him. She gauges it and Galen, alters wrist action slightly to starboard. Her bullet clears his left ear to contact a Six’s cheek as she emerges into view. He doesn’t look back, takes advantage of the moment to drive into her again. Someone else’s bullet misses as he forces her arm into an arc aiming behind; his finger closes on hers, firing.

Their eyes meet.

Hers would be pissed. His are dead, stiff and empty, a very sick thrill of déjà vu for the girl who shot Adama. She almost says his name, jams her heel down on his foot instead as he hurls her back to hit rock again.

He goes for a gun. Her, too.

It’s anybody’s guess where the next shot is aimed.

###

Exesis

They’re shooting on the Tayloria, as D’Anna planned. The truce is falling apart, also as planned; Exesis braces for what will come, makes its show strength. And the fatal line is crossed.

Only D’Anna knows that line exists. Her triggers trip one after the other, and from this point the end game will unfold without a single command.

Tactical launch authorization flows. The attack on Celeron will be massive.

Nuclear launch authorization flows. The attack on Earth will be devastating.

Saul Tigh sits weakly, listing to one side as wipes at the blood on his temple. He sits and waits. Listens. Prays that he’s wrong.

“What’s that?” a Leoben says.

“I don’t know,” answers a Doral.

“What are those codes?”

He’s not wrong. ‘Listen to me,” he says in vain.

The panic has already begun.

###

Lee

This is too much. Too sudden and too much.

Not Cavil… Not Cavil alone, not simply the bad seed. Never that simple as his world goes silent and still. He stares at Ellen in horror, the man he wants to be slipping away all over.

“Please, Lee.” She’s begging, can see it in his eyes.

You caused this. All of it—the Cylons, the Colonies, tragedies too great for words, losing Starbuck and his father, the last of humanity giving up to die, so many wrongs… Wrongs darker than death or night. You did this! She selfishly lived, crossed worlds to damn them all with her selfish grasp at redemption. He could strangle her with his bare hands, focus all the misery and hate and folly of Colonial life, everything they’ve suffered, drive it all into hands stronger than steel. Hands that could hate forever.

“Please, Lee.” That’s Terry. He looks at her incredulous. “Sharon forgave her.”

“I don’t give a damn what Sharon did!” Or any other damn Cylon. No one can make this right. This is about all they have left, all that fate or the Gods or a selfish Five left to them, no matter how many times they try to deny it. This is about hate. Ellen shrinks back from him, tears in her eyes, but she’s not going to shrink far enough. There’s not enough distance in the universe to shrink away from this.

Terry steps between them: “I forgive her.”

“I don’t care! Get out of my way you frakking--” He catches himself, cuts off the word she knows is coming whether it’s said or not.

”Frakking Cylon. That’s me. And I accept that. I accept all the ugliness in that word, what we did. Like I see all the ugliness in you right now.” Terry doesn’t back down, stays between him and Ellen. “What we did to you is unforgivable. So talk to me, Lee, as ugly as you want.”

“I hate you all,” he says, gritting his teeth, clenching his fingers until they ache, wanting so badly to hurt someone. Anyone will do. Deep down, far beneath noble pretensions, hate flashes raw and pure with this knowledge, wants to hate them all forever.

The other. Anyone but himself. And that reeks of something. “What are you doing to me?”

“Letting you see it,” Terry says. “Your shadow, the one inside. That’s what Sharon taught me with her silence and her pain—it’s a package deal. When you see the shadow inside, you can also see what casts it, the light inside. If you’re brave enough.”


He and Boomer. They stood their ground not long ago, each staring into a mirror. “Better days?” she asked.

“Better days,” he said. “Let’s earn them.”


“I still believe in you, Lee,” Terry says. ”You’re brave enough, and we don’t have time for this.”

He does reek of something. Fear. And selfishness. That, too. Maybe he’s not so different from Ellen after all, subordinating all else, everyone else, to his needs.


He and Romo. They stood their ground a long time ago, each staring into a mirror. “If forgiveness is too heavy a burden, if hope is your enemy, then I am your enemy,” he said. “Shoot your enemy.” He actually said that, remembers it while too much of him dreams of killing Ellen. "Or you can make a choice. Put your past behind you, put the gun down and help me, because I'm telling you I'm gonna make a difference in this Fleet."

He pushes Terry out of the way to pull Ellen into an embrace. Lets himself feel her misery, her sorrow and regret.

“Tell them exactly that,” he says. “What you told me.”

“I can’t!” Ellen sobs.

“Yes you can. Because I’m going to be with you for every last word.”

###

Starbuck

“Back right!” she shouts.

Boomer drifts in that general direction, though not fast enough. The last of the west-side assassins, that Leoben, has a bead on her.

“Chief—three o’clock!” He looks in time, fires a shot that interrupts the kill. Boomer’s already making the right response without further prompting. Leoben aims for Tyrol. He ducks low.

Stalemate.

This doesn’t feel right. She doesn’t trust herself to exert actual pressure on them, yet Sam’s had enough, won’t sit on the sidelines any longer, and this seems the safest bet. After all, they know they need Boomer alive. And Gods know The Penitent could use an eye in the sky for the home stretch. They just need to be sure they synch in and out right, shift out correctly to remain undetected.

That’s hard. Everything’s hard duty now.

She looks for Boomer, can’t see her on either of the paths up. Come on! Leoben is already casting sideways glances all over the place, won’t stall with Tyrol forever.

Boomer’s head pops up at cliff’s edge, face-to-face with Leoben, her gun’s black eye staring him down. “You’re it,” she says coldly. One loud, messy bang later, this Leoben isn’t a problem.

She climbed the damn rock face. That’s a good one. Worthy of Starbuck herself.

Boomer hauls top side fast. Tyrol’s gun points her way; she fires down to back him off. He strips the nearest body for fresh firepower. She does the same with Leoben. Starbuck shifts out as Head Cavil comes in to berate Boomer some more about Tyrol.

“They’re almost here from the east side,” Cavil says. It’s interesting how Starbuck sees him now, less a recognizable person than a void, some kind of blank avatar. Whoever it needs to be, whenever it needs to.

The killer angels. They have only one mission, over and over.

Sam tells her the enemy’s order of approach from the east. It’s a standard J-hook, three over two, the three weighted toward Tyrol’s side. Boomer’s in good position to split the shank. If, that is, Chief gets out of her way. They’ll both get killed if they have to look over their shoulder for the other.

Sam’s on it, exerting the right influence on Tyrol. Starbuck thinks the right action for Boomer. That shy kid who spoofed so many landings on Galactica wouldn’t pick up on it, but this Boomer will. She knows that, just received a fresh reminder. This isn’t the first time Sharon put a gun in a Leoben’s face and pulled the trigger; Starbuck remembers that time after the Colony, the killing she personally forced, the one time Sharon Valerii looked downright scary.

Be careful. Sam cautions that inside her. This isn’t the battle Sharon’s here for, and they need that kid from Galactica more than they need the Empress. Need the real Boomer.

The one who stuck a gun barrel in her mouth for the people she loved.

The one who weeps.

Boomer moves out in the right direction. Starbuck thinks the tactical layout for her, opens up to feel the odds. Five against two isn’t good, though Boomer has the initiative with her eye in the sky. Almost there. She tells Sam to release Tyrol, send him back.

Three over two is a pretty solid formation, but has a blind spot in the center. Boomer enters it. Three remain blind to her, and she sees the other two first.

Two shots makes it four against two.

Two more make it three-and-a-half against two, the survivor limping badly.

This is where being in that blind spot turns bad. On her own, those other three would be cinching the bag shut. Boomer gets that, already backpedals. Starbuck gets it better, has Tyrol right where she needs him. He fires, enough of a distraction for Boomer to break out.

All that’s left is the free fire zone. Watching like this, seeing how violently everyone moves while firing, it’s no longer amazing how many shots miss like it was when she was alive. Thankfully, Sharon and Chief don’t have time to waste thinking. They don’t get too close, but on some subliminal level they are a team, each exposing their back to the other. Of course, she and Sam are helping with that.

Boomer needs to reload. She spins away while Tyrol picks up her targets. He’s fresh out. She lobs one of Leoben’s guns his way. He catches it clean. Starbuck recalls that moment with Lee on Kobol when they traded off firing at Centurions, knows it feels like a long time to the people fighting. It just isn’t. Two-and-half close on two, the volume of fire accelerates and then it’s over.

Two are left standing. Slightly nicked, they pant in the throes of that weird sensation Lee always called freshly singed nerves. As soon as the fact of survival sinks in, they turn in unison.

Last dance. It’s a Tauron standoff: Tyrol aims at Boomer; she aims at him. Too much history makes this the most dangerous moment of all.

Even an angel fears to tread on this.

###

Gaius

He should be dead now.

He didn’t see his salvation. Caprica did it, pushed off D’Anna in time to spare him all save a nasty flesh wound on his left side. He’s bleeding from it while Caprica waits motionless; she bleeds from a slash on her right arm. D’Anna still has the knife, has added a gun to it.

The woman he loves is in her sights. For his sake again.

Hera’s, too. The child cringes against a wall, knees up, arms wrapped around them as she rocks side to side. Hera… is it? She shines with the light of God? Apotheosis--exaltation to the divine. To find the God within.

He returns to that thought because it sounds right. Rings true.

How?

Caprica distracts him: “You know more about this than I do, D’Anna, and I accept that. Respect it.”

“She’s going to die, Gaius,” says a familiar voice from behind. “You offered up her life when you turned from God’s path.”

He doesn’t look at Head Six, keeps his gaze on Caprica as she keeps talking.

“I accept what you say about God. But I’ve seen what Gaius was working on, D’Anna. And as stupid as this must sound, I have faith in Gaius Baltar. He’s honestly changed, is trying to save us all. Listen to him, sister. Please.”

“Isn’t that sweet,” say Head Six. “I’m going to miss her.”

Think. Hera links things. That’s important, too.

“You believed more than any of us,” Caprica says. “Stronger and longer. The Gods wept for you, D’Anna, and I understand why now. You’ve suffered so much, the very best of us. I love that in you, and I weep for you. Can you hear me begging you to see yourself through my eyes, to give yourself that one last chance? Please.”

D’Anna closes her eyes. Winces. Hurts. Even a bastard like him can see that.

Doorways. Vanishing point. Hera and God. It’s there. All of it.

What’s he missing?

“Thank you, sister,” D’Anna says. She steps forward. “I want you to know that would have mattered once.” The movement is sudden, utterly violent as her knife drives into Caprica’s abdomen. “I turn my back to the sun.” Once more for effect; Caprica shudders.

“No!” Baltar cries.

“Told you,” Head Six sneers.

Caprica struggles to stay upright, grips D’Anna’s shoulder: “I believe in Gaius.” He catches her as she falls, presses his hand to her belly trying to hold the blood in. Dark blood. Organ blood.

Life’s blood.

Her eyes flutter, drifting into shock. “I love you,” he says.

Head Six laughs.

“It’s too late,” D’Anna says. She eyes Hera. “Or not. I could still get her medical care. That wound won’t be fatal for a bit; if this ship survives, so could she.” She motions for him to rise. “It’s faith, Gaius. Bloody, bloody faith--I can’t stand it anymore.”

He lays Caprica down gently, stands. “What do you want me to do? Anything.”

“Destroy her faith.” She wipes the knife across his cheek, flips it over to adorn his other cheek with Caprica’s blood. “War paint. To destroy faith for me.”

“What do you mean?”

She hands him the knife, careful to hold him at bay with her gun. “Kill the child. Slit her throat. Do that for me, and I will save Caprica.”

“Didn’t see that coming,” says Head Six. “Did you?”

The knife is heavy in his hand, blood cool on his cheeks. Hera rocks faster now. He looks to Head Six, suddenly imploring like he did years ago.

“All you have to do is walk over to her,” Head Six says. ‘Pick Hera up, and God will save you.”

D’Anna: “A life for a life. Destroy faith, Gaius. Trust me, it’s no big loss.”

Head Six: “Pick Hera up. Merciful God will deliver you and your woman. Let the rest of humanity go; they’re already dead.”

End of line. It’s time for action.

But what action?

###

Exesis

Time’s up. Too late now.

The point of no return--they don’t get that. They’re still trying to process their fate as Tigh curses them.

Final authorization is long past for the attack on Celeron. That launch can’t be stopped.

Final authorization clicks into place for the nukes. That launch protocol is now locked in. It can’t be suspended.

None of them matter now. It’s simple math.

###

Galen

It’s written all over her face.

There’s another shoe waiting to drop. Boomer’s trying to not give that way; tension in the set of her jaw says as much. So does the shape of the lines drawn around her mouth, the way her eyes are straining to look hard without quite pulling it off.

She’s about to lie to him, as sure as they live and breath. One more for the road.

He’s half in the fugue state, half out, doesn’t understand what’s happening, why he’s here, why Cylons tried to kill them, or what’s going on outside in the Fleets. There’s so much he doesn’t understand, never will. Like how it felt so right to be fighting alongside her, or why that has to be a lie. The same way it felt so right to project that damn house on Picon with her their last time together on Galactica.

This will end like that. Except this time he’ll be dead, one way or the other; by her hand, or his after she’s gone.

The loop inside crests again, its compulsion to kill overwhelming. It feels so wonderful to balance on that agony, let it extend in time, pretend it remains possible to imagine another way. He holds off the truth for a few more seconds, stares into her eyes while dreaming what could have been.

To be with her. Even like this.

You’ve loved her forever, Chief. That doesn’t sound like his voice, adds to the chaos in his head. Not that it matters. They’ve never been true to each other, always flinched, never put it on the line for the other above all. That’s what the loop says, and that’s why they’re here, guns in hand.

Guns pointed. He’s waiting for the first lie from her lips. That’ll make it easy.

“Galen,” she says, soft on the “n”, primed to draw him in.

This is it.

“There’s a secret in your head, Galen. You don’t know it’s there, but it is—Resurrection. Cylons are fighting to the death, ready to take humanity with them, and the only thing that can stop it is you.”

Bullshit. That’s a miserable lie. The loops shouts “do it,” but after all they’ve been through he deserves a better lie than that.

Come on, Sharon. Play me.

“That’s my call,” she continues. “They’re all counting on me. Problem is, it’s your call, too. I thought I could ignore that, except you’re frakked up aren’t you?” Her eyes aren’t hard anymore. “I’m frakked up, too, because that should make this easier, a mercy kill. Except I’ve been where you are, the machine scratching away inside, all icy and adrift, afraid I’m about to do something I won’t ever understand.”

Bullshit! He is icy and adrift, the loop hurting now, entwined hopelessly throughout him.

“I tried to resist, and no one was there for me. You’re resisting now. That’s why you fought these Cylons with me. I have absolutely been there, Galen, so I can’t look away.”

Play me, you bitch! Get this over with. Please.

“Talk to me. We’re out of time.” Her hands descend. Two guns drop to the ground. “I know you, Galen. Talk to me.”

She’s packing, has to be, something hidden away, just wants him to disarm. The loop is screeching, metal on metal, and dishonest motives are all they ever had. When push comes to shove, he can’t let them in, none of them, can’t quite trust the woman he’ll always love.

He blanks out.

Gone, aware of nothing. Two shots fire, dully echo.

When he blinks back in, his finger is moving forward to release the trigger. Sharon Valerii lies on the ground before him.

“What happened?” he cries.


See Next Post for Continuation


Last edited by NT2 on Mon May 03, 2010 6:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 372 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1 ... 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 ... 25  Next

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron

Style by HighDefGeek
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group