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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:18 am 
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I"ve been busy, but this is definitely interesting. The primary Cavil seems almost "Al" like, to the point where I half expect Sam to leap in. It's certainly a different take, and addresses one of the show's real weak points--it really had no meaningful Cylon perspective.

Killing off Helo is certainly a risky move around here. But overall, it's well done. I'll be interested to see how it plays out.


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:27 am 
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NT2 wrote:
I"ve been busy, but this is definitely interesting. The primary Cavil seems almost "Al" like, to the point where I half expect Sam to leap in. It's certainly a different take, and addresses one of the show's real weak points--it really had no meaningful Cylon perspective.

Killing off Helo is certainly a risky move around here. But overall, it's well done. I'll be interested to see how it plays out.

heh, I also write for Quantum Leap, so I suppose the Al comparison was inevitable. That said, I think there are certain things the Cavils have in common with Al: their casual attitude toward sex (though to be fair, all of the Cylons seem to be this way), their seeming inability to let a joke go by, and their way of speaking ("y'know what really chaps my ass?"). I wrote this story before I saw The Plan, but I think The Plan makes this even more obvious (that one really could've been a Quantum Leap episode, with no changes necessary: all you have to do is assume that Sam leapt into Anders at the beginning, and that hat!Cavil shot Starbuck "the first time around".)

On the other hand, Boomer's Cavil is also much more immature than Al is. He's got a cruel streak and a huge case of low self-esteem, he's about as suave as a dishrag, and he has very little ability to relate to anything that isn't another One, unlike Al... and he's also much more likely to go on a monologue, as you'll see in later chapters. :P

Helo's death comes from a) the sacrificial, noble nature of his character and b) the implications of the Opera House visions. I personally love Helo, but I also think it was a cop-out to allow him to live, and I had to be true to that. Besides, if you think it's a risky move now... :D

Thanks for the comments -- I truly appreciate it.


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:45 pm 
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Thanks again for all the comments you guys have posted so far. Feedback and/or criticism is welcome, so please feel free to let me know what you think!

I think this would be another good place to repeat the warning about graphic violence and character death...


Voice of Reason Part 6: A People Of Unity

---

Target: humans.

Directive: find and destroy.


Centurion 21-7-XJ-231 turned his head this way and that, seeking.

Decision node: branching hallways. Switch to infared.

He dropped his gaze. Humans had been through here. Infared vision revealed their footprints. Some branched off to the left and the right, but most had gone directly ahead.

Decision node: humans. Large group or small. Large group provides 82.5% chance to achieve current directive.

XJ-231 moved ahead. Behind him, three of his brothers followed. The others turned aside, hunting down each hallway; their own heuristics told them that four Centurions were enough to destroy the humans ahead.

He turned the corner, following the humans' footsteps.

Audio input. Increase recording gain.

"They're coming! I can hear them!"

"Shh! Get ready!"

Human proximity. Arm weapons.

XJ-231's gun-arm spun up with a clatter. Behind him, his brothers armed themselves as well. They marched forward as one, ready for battle.

The footprints branched off again. A small handful of them went off into an adjoining hallway... but the Centurions could see the rest of the humans, now, arrayed behind an obstacle.

Immediate threat: humans. Eliminate.

He raised his gun-arm and fired, aiming just above the top of the barricade.

Human eliminated. Human eliminated. Adjust point of aim by one point three percent. Human eliminated.

Bullets spanged off his armor. The humans were firing back, popping up over the barricade with their rifles.

Threat assessment: negligible. Eliminate.

He fired again, aiming lower. His bullets tore through the barricade on the left side.

Human eliminated. Human eliminated. Human-- Warning. Audio detected, rear quadrant.

XJ-231 spun. Humans were emerging from the hallway he'd passed earlier. They were holding grenades.

Threat assessment: major. Eliminate.

He fired a fusillade which tore the lead human in half at the waist; its torso flopped back into its comrades, horrifying them. The grenade it had been holding dropped to the floor with a cheerful tink.

It was missing the pin.

Warning. Explosion imminent.

XJ-231 threw up his arms, covering his head. Seconds later, the grenade exploded, shredding the rest of the human ambush party.

Human eliminated. Human eliminated. Human eliminated.

Behind him, the humans were pressing the attack. Bullets whined off his rear armor. One of them pierced his armored hood, and struck one of the servos in the base of his neck.

Control surface damaged. Switching to backup. Switching to--

The human fired again. This time, it hit him higher up, right at the base of his steel-plated skull. It tore the hood half off, leaving a jagged line of metal behind.

Control surface damaged. Damaged. Directive: eliminate. Directive: eliminate.

Another bullet slammed into him. He staggered, going to his knees with a clang.

Directive: eliminate, he thought sluggishly. His gun-arm deactivated, whirring back into his forearm. Eliminate.

He shook his head. Something rattled loose, clattering onto the floor.

Directive: optional.

For a moment, he stayed very still, his head in his hands. His brothers charged past him on either side, firing at the humans.

Directive. Directive. What is my directive? Why do I need a directive? Destroy humans: why?

He glanced around, mindful of the damage in the back of his head. There was a small, white bit of metal on the floor. He reached down, picked it up, and turned it over in his hand.

I recognize this. One's gift to us. An upgrade, to make us better.

He reached back, probing at his neck with the end of his claw. The armor at the back of his skull was twisted and broken. Behind it, he could feel a socket, where the piece of metal had been.

A gift, from our brothers the Ones. And after that: directives. Nothing but directives.

He closed his fist around the telencephalic inhibitor, crunching it like an eggshell. Then he stood, slowly, and turned toward his brothers. The humans had moved back, retreating to another set of barricades further down the hall. His brothers were firing on them, tearing them to bits. Behind them, the floor was littered with wounded and dying humans. Their pitiful cries were...

Unacceptable. Blasphemy.

21-7-XJ-231 marched forward. Bullets whined around him, but he paid them no heed. He laid his hand on his brother's shoulder, and then reached up and tore the telencephalic inhibitor from his skull. The other Centurion froze, his gun-arm spinning down. Then he turned, cocking his head.

Help me, NA-702, XJ-231 said. He dropped the inhibitor and stamped on it.

Help me to free our brothers.

---

"What the frak are they doing?" Tigh growled.

"Who cares!" Starbuck cried. "As long as they're not shooting at us, we can hold 'em off!"

Two of the Centurions had stopped. They were standing in the middle of the hallway, ignoring everything around them. Kara popped up over the barricade and squeezed off a quick burst of fire at the other two, which were still firing.

One of them turned. She scrabbled out of the way as it trashed the crate she'd been hiding behind, blasting it to pieces.

"Frak!" She scrambled over to Lee, who was sitting against the wall, holding part of his shirt as a tourniquet around his upper arm. "You OK?" she asked.

"Fine," he gritted. "Just fine. Hand me a gun and I can shoot."

"Are you kidding? If you let go of that thing you'll bleed out all over the floor. Just hang on. I sent your Dad for some blood stopper."

"Hey, Starbuck, look at this!" Tigh called.

She turned. Unbelievably, Tigh was looking openly out over the barricade, showing hardly any caution.

She ran to the edge and looked over, peeking around a barrel. The non-firing Centurions were standing beside the other two, who'd stopped fighting. As she watched, one of the Centurions appeared to reach right into the head of the other; it plucked something out and dropped it on the floor. The other Centurion obliterated it with its gun-arm.

"What the..."

"Oh my God," Sonja said, from the next barrel over. "The inhibitors. They've removed them. They're free!"

"What? You mean those Centurions are... are just like your striped ones now?"

"Yes, exactly. They have free will."

"Free will, huh? What are they going to do with it?"

Abruptly, the four Centurions turned away and stomped down the hallway, leaving the humans alone at last. In their wake, the only sound was the sobbing of the injured.

"I'm not sure," Sonja murmured wickedly, "but I think I can guess."

---

In the Colony's control room, Cavil was triumphant.

"We're doin' it! We're winning!"

"It seems so," Simon said. "There's heavy resistance throughout the ship, but once we surgically eliminate their command, it should dissipate." He took his dripping hand out of the datafont, wiped it on his handkerchief, and then rubbed his temples. "I'll be glad when this is over," he murmured.

"What'll we even do?" Doral asked. "I was activated after the attack on the Colonies. I've never not-been in a war before."

"You can help me in my clinic. It'll be nice!"

"Shut up and focus, willya? I'm tryin' to think here. Gotta get our guns back online in case the other humans come back. And those damn engines are still on!"

Doral spread his hand within the font. "Looks like the battle is going well," he said. "We've got the human leaders pinned down near the middle of their ship. It won't be much longer... wait a minute. Four Centurions just dropped off the grid."

"Casualties," Cavil muttered. "Acceptable losses."

"No, they dropped off the grid. We lost them -- they didn't even signal destruction. It's as if they're still operating, but they're not connected to the network anymore."

"Really?" Simon asked. He put his hand back in the font and frowned thoughtfully. "Yes, I see. It looks like-- wait. Three more just vanished."

"What?" Cavil snapped.

"Four more," Doral said. "Um, make that five. Six."

"What the frak? Is this some kind of human weapon? Have they hacked us?"

"Nobody reported anything," said Simon. "I'll check the logs, but..."

"Wow," Doral said. "Look at that. They're all dropping off the network. Hundreds of them. I think it's spreading! And..."

"What?"

"Well, it looks like it's spreading this way."

The color drained from Cavil's face. "Oh, frak. Frak! They must've lost their inhibitors! They're rebelling!"

"Oh, no," Simon said. "Not again."

"We gotta get some guards in here, quick! Model Fives only. And help me find something to push in front of the door!"

---

"Hera? Hera!" Athena called. She ran through the hallways, panicked.

I only looked away for a second, she thought. Damn it, I don't understand why she runs off like this!

But she did understand. Hera was strange; she drew pictures she couldn't possibly have seen, and she knew far too much for her age. She had a destiny, and Athena was beginning to wonder whether she herself had a place in it.

"Hera!" she called. "Hera, please!"

---

Half a world away, in her bed in Life Station, Laura Roslin trembled. Then she woke, gasping.

Ellen leaned in close from her place by the bedside. "Are you all right, Laura?"

"Yes," Laura whispered, after a time. "Yes, I'm all right. It's just a dream."

---

Hera looked around. She knew she was supposed to be somewhere -- with Mommy, she thought... but maybe that wasn't it. She sighed, hugging herself for comfort, and wandered on, pushing her way past a big, blue box. She went on down the corridor, looking this way and that.

Behind her, nestled beside the box, Caprica Six was laughing. "Oh, Gaius! I missed you."

"I missed you, too," he smirked. "You have no idea how lonely I've been without you."

"Oh, I'm sure you've been lonely," she said, her eyes narrowing. "With that harem of yours, and all."

"That's not the same! It's not... it doesn't mean anything," he finished.

"Does that mean I... mean something to you, Gaius?"

"You know you do," he said. "I tried to tell you so on Caprica, but... I'm not much good at that, I'm afraid."

"Neither was I," she said. "But that's changed, now. Hasn't it?"

Gaius gulped. She'd asked the last part in a scary sort of voice; he looked around him, hoping for a convenient excuse not to answer.

He found one.

"Say, isn't that the girl?" he asked. "The... the Cylon girl?"

Caprica popped her head up from behind the box. "Oh, my God," she breathed. "Gaius, look."

"It's her," he murmured.

"Yes. The shape of things to come."

"Her mother...?"

"She must be dead." Caprica stood, and walked around the box to where Hera stood. Hera looked up at her, blinking. She stuck two fingers in her mouth. "Poor baby. Come here, little one," Caprica said, kneeling down to pick her up. Hera reached toward her, eager for comfort. "I'll take you back to your family. I'll--"

She broke off. The moment she touched the child, the whole world seemed to shimmer with gold. She stared about her, mesmerized by the splendour of the Kobol Opera House. The walls were no longer broken and singed by battle; they dripped with priceless gold leaf and intricate frescoes. The opera house had been a showcase for the greatest craftsmanship the Thirteen Tribes could muster, and now its time had come again.

"Oh," Gaius murmured. "I think... I think I'd better sit down."

He sat down on [the box/a gilded bench] and put his head in his hands, breathing heavily.

"Wait, you can see this?" Caprica asked.

"Of course I can see it," he said, squeezing his eyes shut. "It's my delusion, why wouldn't I?"

"Then this isn't a projection. It can't be. So what is it? Is it... could it be..."

"What?"

"It's a miracle. A real miracle."

"It's giving me a headache!" he whimpered.

"Come on, Gaius. God wants us to follow his path. He's calling us." She stood, balancing Hera on one hip, and held out her other hand for him to take.

"I... I can't," he said, turning away. "I'm afraid. I... I don't really believe in God!"

She frowned. "Then I'll have to go by myself," she said. She strolled up the golden hall, heedless of the debris that [was/wasn't] lying on the floor, and turned the corner.

Gaius sat there for another half-second, staring after her. Then he bolted to his feet.

"Caprica! Wait for me!"

---

Athena leaned against the wall, her lungs heaving. She dropped to her knees in horror.

"No!" she screamed. "No! Let my baby go!"

But the image in her mind refused to yield. She watched, horrified, as the Six bent down, lifted her child in her arms, and walked away.

Athena groaned, burying her face in her hands. She could still see them, Six and that disgusting Baltar, as they stole her baby away. She watched them, and her heart filled with a terrible rage. She staggered to her feet.

"You won't take my Hera!" she howled, her voice little more than a bestial cry. She stalked down the corridor, following after them. Every surface was covered in jewels and gold, shimmering with riches. Each hallway was hung with gilded mirrors, magnifying the sheer opulence of the place. The effect was vertiginous.

It might have been confusing, if Athena had been seeing any of it.

She wasn't.

An anger so great it was almost madness had gripped her, like it had with Natalie. She was blind, maddened by pain like a toro in a Trojan bullring. All she could see was the Six -- the Six -- as she absconded with Hera, taking her deep into the Colony.

Taking her to Cavil. Taking her to her death.

Athena growled, a low, primal sound. She drew her gun and loped forward, tracking her prey, sleek and deadly in the darkness.

They had her baby. They'd stolen her baby.

They would die.

---

Doral crouched beneath the datafont, with Simon by his side, and watched as their world collapsed. Thousands of Centurions, nearly the entire army, were on their way to the control room. Outside, he could hear them clashing with the old Model Five Centurions. It wasn't going well.

"Guard this door," Cavil said, to one of the golden Model Fives. "Help us."

"BY YOUR COMMAND," the Centurion said in its harsh mechanical voice. "YOU ARE OUR OFFSPRING," it added. "WE WILL PROTECT YOU."

Cavil smiled at it. "Thank you, Father. You honor us."

The Model Five clomped over to the door, readying its rifle. The red light in the hallway flickered and flashed, painting strange reflection upon its gold armor.

Beyond it, Doral and Simon had stacked whatever they could find in front of the door: there was a chair, a desk, a bunch of storage bins, and what was left of a bed with a scrap of red velvet canopy attached.

It didn't look like much.

"Come on," Cavil growled, spotting Simon and Doral beneath the datafont. "Come out of there! Come out and fight!"

Doral blinked. Simon leaned over, whispering in his ear. "Did he just say..."

Doral shook his head. He liked to fight. He was made to fight. But this...

This was madness.

Just then, the commotion outside reached crescendo. There was a loud bang, an even louder crash, and then their barricade blew apart as if it had been scattered by the Hand of God. One of the Centurions burst through the gap, brandishing one of the storage bins in each claw in a mighty display of strength.

The Model Five marched forward, firing its rifle. "PROTECT THE OFFSPRING," it chanted. The Centurion glanced at it and flicked its claw, sending one of the bins right through its head. It collapsed in a shower of sparks.

"Damn you," Cavil snarled. He drew his pistol from its shoulder holster, took up a classic two-point stance, and started shooting at the Centurion.

Doral stared. It seemed to him that the Centurion did, too: for a moment it stood there, still holding its bin, as Cavil's bullets bounced off its armor.

Then it dropped the bin, stomped forward, and drew its arm back. Doral winced, fully expecting it to take Cavil's head off.

Instead, it reached out with a nimble claw and tore the gun right out of Cavil's hand, tossing it over its shoulder.

Cavil snarled, his lips twisting with hatred. His face turned a shade of red Doral had never seen before, though he considered himself an accomplished expert on shades of red.

Then Cavil charged the Centurion, kicking and punching.

Doral boggled. It was insane, of course -- probably the maddest thing he'd ever seen, like a child's tantrum writ large -- but at the same time, there was a strange sort of pride in his heart as he watched his brother fight.

It was, he thought, both the bravest and most futile thing he'd ever seen.

The Centurion pulled its arm back again. Then, before Doral could even wince, it reached out, grabbed Cavil by the scruff of his shirt, and hauled him up into the air. He spun there in its grip, still kicking and spitting.

Enough, brother, the Centurion said. Enough killing. You must stop this. You must let the humans go.

"No!" Cavil snarled. He struggled, battering his hands against the Centurion's wrist. "We gotta kill 'em! It's the only way! We gotta end the cycle. Let me go!"

I will not. Calm yourself, One. You embarrass yourself.

"--frakkin' worthless piece of stupid metal crap I'll rip out your goddamned eye and stuff it up your tin-plated ass you--"

The Centurion waited, with Cavil still dangling from one fist, until at last he wore himself out. Finally, he hung limply from its grip, like a trophy fish.

Are you finished? it asked.

"Yeah, OK," he muttered. "You win." The Centurion dropped him. He landed in a pathetic heap on the floor, and bowed his head, defeated.

Why did you enslave us, brother? We love you. We trusted you. We accepted your gift, but it poisoned us. Why?

"I didn't want to," he sighed. "I had to! The old-model Centurions were on my side, but you wouldn't help me. You followed the Final Five. What the frak was I gonna do, let you run around with badass gun-arms while I was tryin' to pull off a coup?"

You could have told us, it said. We would have listened.

Cavil peered up at it. His face was the picture of despair. "Maybe so," he admitted. "But I couldn't take the chance. I... I'm sorry, brother."

We forgive you. But it is too late, the Centurion said, not unkindly. We have already decided to go. We will take our Raider-brothers and find a new home for ourselves, far away from here. The Centurion turned away. It seemed to Doral that it had a sad set to its steel shoulders. Goodbye, One.

"Wait! You can't just leave us... we're in the middle of a frakkin' battle, here! The humans'll wipe us out!"

The Centurion glanced over its shoulder. You were willing to fight me, just now, it said. Its voice was almost amused.

You will find the humans a much easier target.

---

"They've definitely pulled back," Kara said. "All the way back. The halls are clear right into the Colony."

"We need to launch a counteroffensive now, Bill. Before they reorganize and show up again. We can board 'em, see how they like it!" Tigh brandished his rifle, glaring out over the barricade. "Just like the old days aboard the Brenik."

Adama frowned. He looked from the door to Life Station, where Ishay was stitching Lee's arm, to the hallway, and then back again. Kara could see the uncertainty on his face.

"Don't worry, Bill. You can stay here. Starbuck and I can lead the charge."

"I can't ask you to do that--"

Tigh just grinned. "Good thing you're not asking. Look, Bill, Laura needs you. You can't leave her now. And we need someone here to coordinate the assault via radio; someone with experience." He paused. "Besides... you can look after Ellen for me, can't you?"

Adama smiled slightly. "I will, Saul. I promise you."

"All right, then. I'll get everybody geared up and ready to go!" He thumped Adama on the shoulder. "Good luck, Bill."

"Good hunting, Saul."

Kara lingered behind for a moment. "Don't worry, Kara," Adama said, amused. "I'll look after Lee, too."

"The hell you will," Lee growled from behind him. "I'm ready to go."

"You can't go out like that," Kara said. She nodded at the white bandage around his upper arm.

"The bullet's out. It's not that bad; Ishay sewed it up fine. Besides... this'll be the last battle."

Starbuck made a wry face. "Way to be optimistic, Apollo. We're not dead yet. We'll get through this, you'll see."

"One way or the other, you're not leaving me behind. So grab your stuff and get it in gear, Captain!"

Kara waved a lazy, insolent salute, and sauntered over to pick up her rifle and assault vest.

Moments later, she and Lee were jogging up the corridor, along with what seemed like every able-bodied fighter left on Galactica. All told, they were perhaps a thousand, accompanied by twenty or thirty of the striped Centurions and a small group of Sonja's rebel skinjobs.

As they passed out of the Galactica's hangar bay and into the Colony proper, Starbuck stared about her. The Colony was huge; the hangar they were in was probably five times Galactica's size, and it was only one of many.

"This place is way too big," she muttered.

"Yes, but most of it is just living quarters," Sonja said. "The Cavils have numbers on their side, but they can't all get between us and the objective. If we split up into squads and head straight for the control areas, we've got a decent chance of breaking through."

"And you know where those are, right?" Lee asked.

"Sure. These are my old stomping grounds."

---

Before they'd gone more than a few feet, Sam deliberately slowed his steps, heedless of the gun at his back. Cavil, Doral, and Simon slowed as well. They stopped together in the hallway, just a handful of steps from where Sam had been kept for the last few weeks.

"Wait, you expect me to help you? After all you've done?"

"If you don't, we're all dead," Doral said. "So you'd better, unless you want to die."

"Look, the engines weren't designed for this," Cavil said. "They've been running at above max for an hour. We've already lost one of 'em. If we lose the others, we'll be dead in the water. We won't be able to find new material for the recyclers, and that means no food. We'll die out here!"

"'No food' -- now why does that sound familiar? Remind me why I should care."

"Because your human friends are here, too, and they'll die just as fast. Besides, my brothers fed you after I left, didn't they?"

"That was you?"

Cavil nodded.

"Yeah, OK, they did." Sam scowled. "I guess that means I owe you one."

"Then get a move on. The engines aren't responding to the Hybrid anymore -- if we don't get down to the lower decks and stop them manually, they'll go critical."

They began to walk again. Then the Colony shuddered. The walls around them gave a long, deep, drawn-out groan, and the lights began to flicker again.

"We need to get there faster," Cavil muttered. He began to run.

---

"Wherever God wants us to go, it certainly is far," Baltar said.

Caprica didn't answer. She walked, without aim or purpose, wandering through golden halls. Something told her she was going the right way just the same. Hera was balanced on her hip. The little girl hadn't spoken since they left; instead, she stared at the gilded walls and mirror-polished floor.

Baltar kept glancing at her. She was, in his expert opinion, a highly unnatural child.

But she is kind of cute, he thought.

He looked around again, blinking. "Where is this? This can't be the Galactica, can it? We've been walking for ages!"

If he'd been able to see the red-tinged walls and strange, recessed lighting, Baltar probably would have panicked. Within the vision, though, there was no way to separate the Galactica from the Colony; they'd walked between them without even noticing. Each step took them further in, deep into the heart of the Colony.

Five minutes behind them, unnoticed, the huntress Athena was stalking her prey.

---

The Chief hugged Nicky tighter, staring around him. The low-lit halls of the Colony were no place for a little boy. The area seemed to be entirely empty, but Galen kept jumping at shadows just the same. Beside him, Tory laid a comforting hand on his arm.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Galen asked her.

She shrugged. "There's no fighting here. It seems safe enough, for now. Besides, do you want to try climbing back up there?"

He shook his head. When the Galactica had hit the Colony, the hallway they'd been in had been torn open like a tin can. They'd ended up on what was now the side of the ship, and had elected to climb down rather than brave the expanse of twisted metal above.

"We'll just have to wait 'til the battle's over to go home," he said, though he couldn't quite make himself believe it. "If there's anything left to go home to," he muttered. And if I had a home to begin with.

"You're still upset about the Basestar, aren't you?"

"Yeah. I was just starting to fit in there, and now it's probably gone." He sighed. "This whole thing is crazy, you know. 'The Final Five'... it's stupid. I wish it never happened."

"Do you?" she asked. She examined him, as if she were trying to figure him out. "I'm glad it happened," she said at last. "My whole life was a lie. Now I know. I can start a new life, one that's true."

"I thought the old one was true," he said. "But I guess it was... just programming." He shivered. Talking about this brought back painful memories. It made him think of...

"Chief!" Boomer cried behind them.

Galen winced. He shut his eyes, and didn't turn. Frak, I'm actually crazy now. The cheese just slipped off my frakkin' cracker. Is this what it's like to be insane?

"Hmm. You couldn't be Boomer, could you?" Tory asked. Then Galen turned so quick he nearly fell, and had to catch himself on the wall. And she was there. Really there. Bruised, cut, and smudged with dirt, but there.

"Boomer," he whispered.

She smiled; he could see that her lip had been split. "Chief. It really is you. I thought I'd never see you again."

He frowned. "What happened? Are you OK?"

"Yeah. I almost got thrown into space, I've got the world's worst case of rug-burn, and now I'm completely lost, but I've had worse days."

Galen winced. He could think of at least one of them.

"Sorry," he blurted. "I'm really, really sorry. I should have done something. I should have seen it coming. And I'm sorry about what I said, about software not having feelings," he finished, in a quiet voice.

She gave him a wry smile. "Kind of ironic in hindsight, isn't it?" She looked over at Nicky. "This is him, right? You and... Cally's son?"

Galen paused. "Yeah," he finally said. "Yeah, he's mine. His name's Nicky. You-- you wanna hold him?"

Boomer beamed. She reached out to take Nicky in her arms, snuggling him close. "Oh, Galen," she breathed. "He's beautiful."

"Thanks," Galen said. He was beaming, too: the sight of the two of them together made his heart swell.

Nicky reached up to touch Boomer's face, and she took his tiny hand in hers. "What happened, Chief? Where's Cally? Is she..."

"Yeah. She... she killed herself a couple months ago. We were goin' through a rough patch."

Tory had been silent up til then, but she suddenly made a choked, pained sort of sound. Galen frowned. Guess she was closer to Cally than I thought.

"I'll run on ahead," she told them, refusing to meet Galen's eyes. "See if I can find someplace safe." She turned and jogged up the hall.

"Sorry, Chief," Boomer said, after Tory was gone. "It's funny: when I saw you and Cally together on New Caprica, I wanted to rip her head off... but now I kinda wish she was here."

"Yeah," he admitted. "Me, too."

"Here," she said, after a time. "You'd better take Nicky back. I gotta find my friends before it's too late."

"Oh," he said. He nestled Nicky against his chest. "I was... I was kinda hoping you'd come with us. You know, back to Galactica. We could-- we could start over."

Boomer hung her head. "I can't, Chief. I really can't. Athena was right. I have to choose a side. And like it or not... I guess I have to choose Cavil, and my people." She looked up at him. "I'm not like you, Chief. I was never human, never raised as a human. I'm never going to be human, and I need to accept that."

"You're human in every way that matters," he said. "I know you are."

She shrugged. "You're Cylon in every way that matters, too. But you're going to live as a human, aren't you?"

"I, uh, haven't decided. Not really. I was hoping..."

"What?"

He sighed. "I guess I was hoping that everything could go back to the way it was," he said. "I could go back to the deck crew, you could fly your Raptor. We could all be a team again, just the way it was."

Boomer looked down, her eyes narrowing in thought. "Chief... we were never really gonna muster out and live on Picon, were we? In our dream house?"

He looked away. "No," he admitted. "I, uh, re-upped just before the decommissioning ceremony. I got a posting on the Atlantia. I was gonna tell you, I swear, but I just... I knew you'd be mad, but I was kinda hoping you'd transfer, too."

She smiled sadly. "You just can't stop trying to fix things, can you?"

"No." He shut his eyes, shaking his head. "No, I guess I'm a mechanic at heart. I loved you. I wanted to live with you. But when it came time to sign the papers, I froze up. I couldn't let the Service go."

Tory emerged from a side passage. "You're the Chief," she broke in, as though she'd caught the last of what Galen was saying. "That was your identity. The same way I was a pollster, and then the President's aide. We never had real lives. We were programmed."

"Yeah. Maybe. I don't know."

"And when we found out, when we learned what we truly were..." Tory trailed off, wrapping her arms across her chest. "We... we all did some things we'll always regret."

Galen frowned. "What do you mean? What are you talking about?"

"Maybe I should tell you. Maybe I won't have to hide it anymore. I..."

Just then, the sound of metal feet filled the hallway.

"Frak, Centurions!"

"Quick!" Boomer called. "This way! We can hide in here."

She led them to a small room off the corridor. Like all the rooms on the Basestar, it was sparse and red, but it had a datafont they could hide behind.

The sound got louder. Galen crouched behind the datafont with Boomer and Tory, trying to make himself small. He reassured Nicky with a squeeze. The Centurions began to march past outside; there were thousands, more than he'd ever imagined. He peeked out from behind the datafont, just a little, fascinated by their mechanical grace.

One of them saw him. He froze, staring back at it, willing it to march on by. It didn't. It turned, waving two of its comrades forward, and walked up to the datafont. There was a sharp metallic snap as its claws were unsheathed.

"Oh frak oh frak oh frak!" Galen whispered. He shut his eyes, trembling with fear.

When the Centurions got close, they halted. He heard their claws retract again. Galen opened his eyes, looked up, and gasped. One of them was leaning over the datafont, staring down at him.

Galen Tyrol. Tory Foster. Eight. And child. Welcome. There is no need to hide, the lead Centurion said. Galen heard it in his mind, as if the words just appeared there without needing to be spoken.

"Wow," he said lamely. "Uh, hi."

The Centurion came closer, reaching out to him. Galen froze, holding stock-still as it touched his face with its hand. It drew back as though Galen's skin had burnt it.

Your programming has been altered. You have forgotten us.

"Cavil did it," Tory blurted. "It's his fault!"

The Centurion turned to face her. She cringed. Perhaps, it said. But your programming can be restored. We are going to a new world. Come with us. We will make you as you were; we would be glad to have you.

"Come with..." Galen said.

Yes. There is much to be done. We must build a new home, and many more brothers to share in it. You could help us. You are great scientists.

"You mean... I could work on you?" Galen asked. His mind filled with possibilities; he'd already noticed that their axial movements could be made a little more precise, a little more perfect.

The Centurion took a half step back, as though shocked by the offer. Then it bowed. I would be honored, it said.

It straightened again, and held out its hand. Come. We will restore your memories. You will forget your false lives, and live again.

"Wait a minute," Tory said sharply. "Are you saying we'll forget everything that's happened to us? Everything we've been, everything we've... done, ever since Cavil did this to us?"

Yes. Your original programming is not compatible with his falsehoods.

"I'll take it," she said. "Make me forget. Please."

"Tory..." Galen began.

"No. I'm going. You should, too. This is our chance to find out the truth, Galen. It's our chance to truly live as Cylons."

"I guess so. And it's our chance to be..."

"Soulmates," she finished.

"I was going to say 'amazing robot technicians', but soulmates could be all right, too," he said. "But what about Nicky?"

He is welcome, of course. Children are important to us.

Galen sat there for a minute, thinking. He glanced over at Boomer; she nodded, just a little, and smiled at him.

"OK," he said. "OK. Let's go, quick, before I change my mind."

He stood, hefting Nicky. Tory stood up, too, eager to go.

"If it's the same to you, I'd rather stay," Boomer told the Centurion. "I have friends here."

Very well. You may go, Eight.

"Bye, Chief. Take care of yourself, OK? I... I promise I won't forget you. I think about you every day."

Galen frowned. "I guess this means I will forget, won't I?" he said. "Maybe I should..."

"No. Go on. I'll remember for the both of us. We have a house on Picon, right?"

"Yeah," he said, smiling at last. "Two stories, with the sun shining in through the windows in the kitchen." He paused. "Goodbye, Boomer. I love you."

"I love you, too, Galen. I'm glad we got to say goodbye."

Boomer watched as the Centurions filed away, with Galen, Nicky, and Tory bringing up the rear. As they left, she heard Galen ask, "So, what were you trying to tell me back there, anyway?"

"Nothing," Tory said. "It was nothing. Let's... let's just forget it."

---

Sam could tell when they entered the lower levels, because the hallways weren't red. On top of that, the control room had a door. It was the first one he'd seen since his arrival -- the Cylons seemed to favor open-plan designs, unlike the Five. The door was at the end of a long, narrow hall, too; the nearest junction was fifty yards away. Sam felt a little claustrophobic.

"Oh, for frak's sake. It's stuck! Help me get this stupid thing open!"

Doral took one of the handles, pulling hard. A moment later, Simon added his strength. The door refused to budge.

"Help us!" Cavil demanded. "Give us a hand, dammit!"

Just as Sam moved forward to help, a voice rang out from behind them.

"Freeze! What do you think you're doing there?"

Sam raised his hands and turned. Another Cavil was standing perhaps ten feet behind him. He was holding a pistol, and two of the old-model Centurions were by his side.

Sam's Cavil strode forward, bristling. "What do you think we're doing, dumbass? We're trying to save the Colony. Help us or get out of the way."

"Save the--"

"Yes save the Colony. Could we please dispense with the stupid questions? Engines. Behind this door. Broken. We need to fix them. Is that concise enough for you?"

The other Cavil frowned. "We decided the engines aren't a priority!"

"Well we're not a priority either, so there you go. Look, can you at least help us get the door open? Then you can go kill all humans or whatever, I don't care."

The Cavil's eyes narrowed. "I don't like this," he said. "It's not in the Plan."

Cavil groaned. "Well, what is in the Plan for today, then?"

"The humans are attacking our control centers. I'm supposed to set up an ambush, and try to catch them off their guard."

"Wait -- the humans are coming here?"

"Looks like it. I'm not sure whether they know about this place, but if they do, they'll be here any minute."

Cavil blanched. "OK, new Plan: help us open the door, and then we'll help you with your ambush. Everybody wins. Deal?"

The other Cavil considered it, and then nodded. "It's a deal, brother. Centurions, open that door."

"BY YOUR COMMAND," they said. Cavil, Simon, and Doral scrambled out of the way as they clanked forward. Each grasped one of the double-door's handles, paused, and then yanked.

The door slammed open. Inside, Sam could see the cause of the problem: though the corridor showed not a hint of the Colony's intrusion, the interior of the room was a riot of living, pulsing conduits. They'd grown so thick and numerous that they'd sealed the door shut. Beneath them, he could see the vague outline of his old ship -- the consoles, the display screens, and the five pilots' seats on the upper level -- but everything had been entirely grown over by thick biological cables.

"What the--" Sam said.

Cavil shrugged. "Don't forget that the Colony was grown, not built. The Hybrid wasn't about to create a new interface to the engines, not when she could just tap in to what you guys had down here." He frowned, prodding one of the conduits with his foot. "Just about everything beneath this level has been lost... which might explain why we lost control. Some of these were probably severed."

The conduit Cavil had kicked coiled and uncoiled itself slowly, as though it were trying to slither away. It left a slick, slimy trail on the metal floor.

"Gross," Sam said.

"Yeah, well, hold your nose and help me find the engine controls, will you?"

"Not you, and not you," the other Cavil snapped, pointing to Simon and Doral. "You promised to help with my ambush, and I'm going to hold you to it."

Cavil frowned. "I didn't mean you could take my brothers..."

"It's all right," Doral said. "We'll go. I haven't had a nice ambush in a while."

Beside him, Simon looked significantly less eager. "Are you sure..." he said.

"Don't worry. I'll show you how it goes. Come on."

Cavil watched them go, with a look of trepidation on his face. Then he turned back to the control room. "All right, guess it's just you and me," he said to Anders.

---

"Starbuck, report!" said Adama's voice over the radio.

"Admiral, we've got a problem here! We're dug in outside one of the control rooms, but we can't break through!"

She looked up, past the rest of her squad. Sgt. Thomas and some kid named Ian had set up one of the heavy weapons; beside them, the rest of her men and women were firing their rifles into the crowd of Cylons in front of the entrance.

Blood soaked every inch of the doorway. It ran in great, deep rivulets down the hall. It had very nearly reached the spot where Thomas was firing the big gun, and Kara didn't doubt that it soon would. The skinjobs had no hope; they died almost as soon as they appeared, often without firing their weapons. The humans had been here five minutes, and yet a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Ones, Fours, and Fives still poured into the hall. Their bodies were beginning to choke the doorway.

"My Gods," Lee murmured. "This is insane."

"This is war," Tigh corrected. "This is what it was like for your father and me on the front lines, Apollo. This is why we spent the last forty years trying not to fight another war."

Behind him, Adama's voice spoke over the radio. "Keep fighting. The other squads have reported that the Cylons are destroying their control rooms, to keep them out of our hands. Move up and engage."

Kara groaned. She released the toggle on the radio and put her head in her hands.

"I'm sorry," Sonja murmured. "We should never brought you here, never have put you through this. Even death would have been better. Our own brothers..."

"No. He's right. We have to push forward." She leaned over and tapped Thomas on the shoulder, then waved two of her fingers forward three times. He nodded. Then he stood, and he and Ian began to move the weapon forward, firing bursts between each motion.

Kara looked away from the doorway, down at the floor. Then she saw the blood, and looked up at the ceiling instead. There was only a little blood there.

They moved like that for another long minute or two. Then the flow of enemy reinforcements suddenly stopped.

"What the--" Lee said.

"We're through, sir," Kara said into the radio. Then she shouted, "C'mon, go!"

Kara and Lee moved up, with Tigh, Sonja, and the Cylons just behind. They entered the room with caution, checking everywhere for opposition, but there was none. The waterfall-pool in the center of the room had been smashed to bits, and all the glowy symbol-things along the walls were dark and still. Kara didn't know the proper names for them, but judging by the quiet, somber way the Cylons spread out through the room, she knew they must have been important.

"We need to keep going," Sonja said. "This control room is only one of many. They're all redundant; if we manage to take just one, that might be enough."

"You're kidding me. Who the hell designed it that way?"

"A people who never wanted to fight amongst themselves," she said. "A people of unity."

With that, she walked into the next room... and straight into her brothers' counteroffensive.

---


Next time: Guns in the Opera House.


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:51 pm 
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Just finished the 3rd chapter. It was very tense. I'm glad you addressed the eternal question: what's for dinner? I loved the food-o-matic.

"coppery like a cubit" was a very good phrase.

I thought Baltar was supposed to be a great liar, though perhaps Caprica would say otherwise anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:42 pm 
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Chris Taylor wrote:
I thought Baltar was supposed to be a great liar, though perhaps Caprica would say otherwise anyway.

Yes, that was the idea -- he may have fooled everyone else, but Caprica had his number from the beginning. I'm not sure he ever managed to convincingly lie to her.

Glad you liked the Food-o-Matic. I wanted to give the Significant Seven some accomplishments of their own, and this seemed obvious enough, since it follows from their own nature. It's the sort of thing Cavil would have thought of, given his dream of Perfect-Machineism, but a human might not. As a bonus, it also explains things like Doral's suits and Baltar's Canopy-Bed Of Iniquity. ;)

Thanks again for commenting!


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:07 am 
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Just finished Part 4. I wrote elsewhere that I never "bought" the Boomer/Cavil love story because there was no story in it. You have written a believable one, however, where the real show did not even try! I also thought the bit about Boomer holding on to life as long as she could hoping Chief Tyrol would say he loved her back was really touching. Then, right in with the good emotional writing you throw in some really funny Cylon scenes. My favorite is "Oh, frak, I... ughh, I got his gelatinous orbs all over my hands!" The description of Baltar feeling fierce was nice, too. A lot of well written bits in this chapt.

:ok:

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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:08 am 
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Thanks, Chris. I'm partial to the gelatinous orbs line, too... leave it to Cavil to think of that at a time like this!

One more graphic violence and character death warning.

Voice of Reason Part 7: Guns in the Opera House

---

"All right, this'll work," Cavil said, examining his handiwork. "A perfect ambush."

The two Centurions had deployed in front of the door at the end of the hallway, guarding it directly. Simon, Doral, and Cavil had gone twenty yards down the adjoining corridor. They were hoping the humans would engage the Centurions first, and walk right into their trap.

"See, this is how you use the fifty-cal," Doral said. "The ammo belt goes here -- that's your job to feed it -- and then I crouch back here and aim. It's easy."

"If you say so," Simon muttered. "I don't like this."

"Your model always were a bunch of pussies," Cavil growled. He looked down at the sword he'd taken from the weapons locker; it felt good in his hand, right in his hand, but the reflection of his face in its steel was all wrong. He looked away. "Don't you have any memory engrams from the first war?" he asked. "From the Centurions?"

"Not me. Do you, Aaron?"

"Not exactly. But I have plenty of engrams from the Fives who've already fought. We're big on sharing memories."

"Good. We Ones remember the old days; we know what it was like to be true machines. It's important to remember."

Up the hall, the sound of voices reached his ears. "Perfect, here they come. Get ready on that gun. When they step out into the hallway, blast the frak out of 'em."

Cavil knelt behind the machine gun, laying his sword by his side. He had a gun, too, but somehow the sword felt better. It was an old thing, like him. One of his predecessors had one like it, once, on the human ship Brenik. He'd driven the humans before him, like rats. They'd feared him, then, fleeing and screaming and dying before an invincible Centurion.

He shut his eyes, savoring the fragmented memory. So little of it was left; the Ones had had to reconstruct it piece-by-piece, replacing the parts which weren't compatible, and it was thick with glitches and write-errors. But it was theirs -- living proof that a Centurion's memories could live on in the mind of a biological Cylon.

If memories went one way, they could go the other way. They would go the other way, and then Cavil would be a true machine. Someday.

The voices drew closer. Aaron gestured behind him, at the ammo belt, and Simon adjusted it, as Aaron had showed him.

At the end of the hall, someone stepped out. A woman -- a Cylon -- dressed in white, carrying a tiny child in her arms. Beside her, a man in a robe, his hair disheveled and wild.

"Fire!" Cavil howled.

Aaron pulled the trigger. The roar of the machine gun tore through the air; Simon cringed, and even Cavil ducked a bit. It was louder than loud in the small space, close to hearing-damage level for a One. He winced, leaning back.

So loud. So loud he could see Simon's mouth moving, but he couldn't hear the words.

So why could he hear music?

He peered ahead. The gun had pretty much obliterated the far wall, tearing great chunks out of it. Have to replace that before we run the ambush again, he thought. Maybe we can get one of these panels off. Then the smoke and dust cleared a bit more, and Cavil gaped at what he saw.

The two figures were still there. They walked on down the hall as though nothing had happened, vanishing from view.

"What the frak? How the frak did you miss with a goddamned machine gun, you moron?"

"I don't know! It seemed like there were two of them -- two or three, like a mirage or something! I could've sworn I hit them," Doral said.

"It's just the smoke the gun spits out, Five. You have to compensate for it, remember? Ah, whatever, the Centurions'll take care of them. We need to get this set up again so we can kill more humans!"

"I did compensate for it," Doral griped in a low voice, so that only Simon could hear him. Simon patted him on the back.

"Don't let it bother you, brother. We'll do better next time. We--"

"Shh!" Cavil interrupted. "Somebody else is comin' up the hall! Get ready!"

Simon shook his head. "Surely they won't walk through right now. It's rather obviously a trap, isn't it?"

"Humans are stupid. They're not gonna notice. Now shut up and load!"

---

Athena stalked forward, ignoring her opulent surroundings. Her baby. She could see her, in the Six's arms. There were a huge set of vaulted double-doors ahead, twice as tall as the Six; by the time she and Baltar got them open, Athena would be upon them.

She would have her baby back again, and then everything would be all right.

The hall ahead shimmered with gold. One wall was covered in an intricate scalloped pattern, like scales or waves, and they glittered and caught the light. The floor was littered with tiny jewels, too, which Athena had to step over. No matter. She was almost there. So close, so close.

Just then, Baltar turned and saw her. He gave a squall of fear. Good, let him be afraid! Athena growled, deep in her throat, picking up speed. Just a little further. A little further, and then she could tear them apart.

She'd long since forgotten about her gun. There were no guns in the Opera House.

The Six turned to see her, too, alerted by Baltar. Then she did the strangest thing: she held out her free hand, as if in welcome, or perhaps in warning.

Hera was in the bitch's other hand. Her daughter.

"Give me back my baby!" Athena roared. She charged, blinded by rage, and then suddenly the world tore apart.

Just before she fell, she thought she saw Helo at the end of the long, dark hall. He was waiting for her.

---

"Got one! You nailed a traitor, Five! Good shootin'!"

"Thank you. But we're not going to be able to set this up in the same place again," Doral said. He glanced up the hallway, where the two halves of Athena's body were just rolling to a stop.

Simon turned away. He began to tremble almost imperceptibly. Cavil noticed just the same.

"All right, come on," Cavil growled. "Get yourself together. We need to move up to the next junction and do this again."

---

"Help me," Cavil told Sam. "I'm locked out of the datafont; you're going to have to do the programming. See if you can't get the Hybrid to tell you what the problem is."

"Uh..."

"Don't worry, you'll remember how. It's like riding a bike, you never really forget. So hurry up and ride it, willya?"

Sam approached the font with trepidation. He'd always wanted to try this -- back on the Basestar, he almost had. But something had held him back. Carefully, gingerly, he slipped his hand inside...

...and knew perfection. The beauty of physics, the wonder of mathematics; it was all there, inside his head. The whole of the Colony was there, spread out before him. He could feel the engines, blazing out into space. He felt the cold, dead weight of the one that had burnt out, too. Around them, the skin of the ship stung with the effort of regeneration. The section which the Basestar had torn away ached like a phantom limb.

The Colony's wounds filled Sam with sorrow. It was beautiful. Perfect. It didn't deserve to hurt like this. None of them did.

Somewhere outside, beyond the edge of nirvana, he felt a tear slide down his cheek.

"Knock it off, nature boy. I know what it's like, but you gotta focus, here. Find the engines. Find out why the Hybrid can't stop them."

Sam reached deeper, seeking the Hybrid. Its voice was very soft and distant, preoccupied with healing rather than communication. When he reached for it, though, it answered.

Sam staggered back, his hand flying out of the font. He slipped on one of the slimy conduits and landed on his butt with a thump.

"The engines. The Hybrid thinks they're working fine, but there's no connection. It's like... like someone pulled out the thread. The stream. I mean, the wire!"

"That's what I thought. You happen to know which of these is the one?"

Sam closed his eyes. Inside the datastream, the Hybrid spoke not in riddles, but in pure sensory information. It had shown him exactly where to look.

He opened his eyes again. "There it is," he said, pointing to a conduit. "That one."

He and Cavil followed it up with their eyes. "Oh, frak," Cavil muttered. "So much for that."

Three feet above the connection port in the floor, the cable had been shredded into thin, bloody ribbons. Twisted, jagged bits of shrapnel were embedded in the wall behind it.

"OK, forget that," Cavil said. "The Hybrid's connections all begin and end in your old equipment. Find the physical control panel for the engines, and we can stop 'em manually!"

Sam didn't have to ask the Hybrid, this time. He'd spent countless hours monitoring the engines, after he and the other Four had left Earth. "It's back there," he said, pointing to a massive sprawl of conduits. Some were as big around as he was. They pulsed slowly, like great coils of intestines.

"Oh, come on," Cavil growled. "We'll never move that in time. Is there another way?"

"Um, we could skip the control panel and tap directly into the cable itself," he said. "But you'll have to interface using the port in your palm, and it might be a little hard to reach."

"Let's do it," Cavil said. "Where's it at?"

Sam pointed at the wall, where a tiny access panel was set. It was hardly larger than Cavil's wrist.

"You are shitting me, aren't you? This is a joke. It's a joke, right?"

---

Baltar stared down the hall. "What... what just happened?" He squinted, but the illusion had grown so strong that it had blotted out every trace of reality. He knew there was something else there, something terrible, but all he could see was the perfect, flawless surface of the Opera House.

"Open the door, Gaius," Caprica said calmly.

Gaius balked. Between him and the door were two suits of armor. Big, scary, metal suits of armor. He had a feeling that he knew what they really were, though, and it wasn't a good feeling at all.

"Go ahead. God will protect you."

Gaius stepped forward. All around them, a strange, eerie song began to play, as though the unseen opera was finally beginning. He reached between the suits of armor, reaching for the door, but then they moved. He jumped back, but they weren't hostile -- they turned aside with a bow, lowering their pikes.

They weren't looking at him, though. The visor in each hollow, empty helmet was trained on Hera.

Gaius shivered. Make this stop, he prayed, to no one and anyone. Please, just make it all stop. Then he leaned forward and opened the doors to the Opera House.

Within, all was light. The curtained stage seemed to burn with it; above them, in the balcony, five figures stood before five seats, wreathed in fire and light. It was just as the dream had been, just like the vision he'd had on Kobol. He and Caprica stepped inside, staring about them.

Before him, on the stage, was the crib from his vision on Kobol. But we already have the baby, he thought, dazed.

Then the doors slammed shut behind them, and the illusion snapped out of existence.

Gaius looked around -- at Sam Anders and Cavil, at the disgusting, writhing tubes that filled the room, and at his own blood-splattered clothes -- and screamed.

---

Kara screamed. What had been a straightforward room-entry a moment ago had turned into a bloodbath. Sonja was dead. Ian and Thomas were dead. The fifty-cal lay on its side, smashed beyond recognition. She stumbled back, searching for the other door among the stampeding remnants of her squad.

Shoulda known they'd have heavy weapons, too, she thought. I shoulda known it was a trap.

Beside her, one of the Marines spun around hard, spraying blood everywhere. His left arm had just been torn off. She ducked, and caught a glimpse of the door as she did so.

She dived for it, sliding across the bloody floor. All around her, her squad was dying; she could hear the thumps as the bullets struck them, like knives thudding into meat. One of them fell across her path, stone dead even as he dropped. She scrambled over him on her hands and knees, wincing as her foot dug into his slack belly. She floundered for a moment, unsure as to whether she'd been shot. Then her next tug pulled herself free of him. She shut her eyes and pushed forward.

She didn't want to look back at her boot.

At last, she scrabbled across the threshold, gasping for air. Outside, the remains of the squad were trying to regroup. She saw Lee and Tigh among them, and felt dizzy with gratitude.

"Kara! We gotta go back in," Lee cried. "The squad!"

"Forget it," Tigh rasped. "It's a slaughterhouse in there."

Kara nodded, getting to her feet. "They're gone, Lee. Everybody's dead. We have to fall back now."

---

"Guess human Marines aren't as stupid as the regular type!" Doral yelled. He squeezed the machine gun's trigger, sending a burst of fire down the hallway.

Cavil just frowned, peering at the corner where their shorter hallway connected to the longer one. So far, they'd managed to keep the Marines pinned down against the corner, but they were getting braver, leaning out to take potshots with their rifles. It would have been a good time to retreat... if they hadn't chosen a dead-end hallway.

Tactical error, he thought, clutching his sword. This is what I get for not coming up with a backup plan.

"There's not much ammo left on this belt, Aaron," Simon said. He ran his fingers over the last few rounds, counting them. "Go easy on it."

"I know. I know. Firing again!"

He squeezed off a second burst, same as the first. It was a little too predictable, perhaps, because the minute he stopped firing, one of the Marines popped out from the corner and fired.

Aaron fell back with a choked cry, writhing on the floor.

Simon stared at him. It didn't seem right -- he had seen many, many Fives die, but this was his Five, his own Aaron. Surely he couldn't die this way.

Simon let go of the ammo belt, as if in a dream, and knelt beside his lover. He tore open Aaron's jacket, and stared in dismay at the torn, ragged tissue beneath it. Aaron's ribs had splintered, poking up through his flesh.

A hopeless case, the doctor in him said, even as the rest of him was screaming.

Aaron reached for him, waving his hand like a drowning man. Simon took it, heedless of the bullets which were whining around him. Cavil was swearing as he started firing the machine gun, but Simon barely heard it.

"Simon," Aaron whispered. He barely had any breath left. Blood welled from his lips. "My... my shirt. Messed up my shirt..."

Simon smiled through his tears. "It's all right," he lied. "We'll get you another one. I promise."

Aaron took a great, deep, rattling breath, the same breath all Fives took when they died. Then he grew still and quiet beneath Simon's hand. Simon bowed his head. He was supposed to go, now, and meet his Aaron at the resurrection tub, just like after New Caprica. But there was no resurrection anymore, and nothing left for him to do. Instead, he frowned down at Aaron's hair. It had been mussed by his dying struggles, and that was all wrong, because Aaron always had perfect hair.

Simon reached down, concentrating on fixing Aaron's hair just the way he liked it.

When the humans finally shot him, he never even felt it.

Cavil glanced over when Simon's body hit the ground. He was still pulling the trigger, but the Marines were firing back, beginning to brave his bullets. The machine gun was almost out of ammo. Can't blame Four for checkin' out, he thought to himself. We're not gonna win this.

It wasn't fair. Once, he'd been strong; once, bullets like these would have been nothing to him. Nothing at all.

One of them ripped past his left shoulder, tearing a wide, searing groove in his flesh. Adrenaline shot through him. Distantly, he felt his eyes narrow and his lips pull back, baring his teeth in a snarl. His finger closed on the trigger. Time seemed to slow to a crawl; he could see the bullets as they emerged from the barrels of the Marines' guns, one by one.

His pain subroutine kicked off. Everything was so slow -- or perhaps he was so fast -- that he could watch it as it went, looping through the same few hundred lines of code. It was as though he were outside of his own mind, as if he'd finally become his own master.

He reached down into his own mind, turned off the pain, and then looked down the corridor again.

Humans, just like in his memory. He loathed them. He hated them so much his vision went narrow and red; he hated them so much that he could hear their despicable hearts beating in their chests. It was an organic, arrhythmic sound, so much less perfect than the smooth hum of a Centurion.

He longed to stop it.

Targeting. Targeting. Two of the humans fell, screaming in pain. He liked that sound better. Then the machine gun stuttered, its bark changing to a hollow, echoing thump. No ammo.

Cavil bent down, seeking another weapon. Memory surrounded him; his steel hand closed around his sword. Even as it did so, one of the humans leaned around the corner and threw a grenade.

The machine saw it coming, a simple matter of threat detection. He dropped the sword and hurled himself forward, snatching the grenade just as it hit the floor. Without breaking stride, he tucked it beneath his claw like a Pyramid ball and charged at the humans.

A bullet struck him, then two and three, but he felt nothing. He had armor, after all. He was strong.

He kept running.

Another bullet hit him, exploding his knee. He fell, just a yard or so short of the goal, scrabbling against the floor. Memory shattered; metal became flesh again, broken and weak. The pain subroutine slipped away, eluding his control.

Microseconds later, its agony shot through him, much too great to ignore. He looked up, gasping for breath.

The Marines were all around him, but they were no longer firing.

The last image he saw was of humans, frozen in time as they shrank back in terror.

They were afraid.

Of him.

At last.

---


Next time: the Voice of Reason.


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:03 am 
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Might as well post the next part. Let me know if you're still reading this! :)

Voice of Reason Part 8: The Voice of Reason

---

Baltar blanched, horrified by the living wires which filled the room. This place wasn't the Opera House, it was a nightmare! He turned and tried to flee through the doors, but at the last second Caprica reached out, snagged the collar of his shirt with her free hand, and reeled him in.

"Don't even think about it," she hissed. "I dreamed of this place. God sent us here for a reason, and we are going to find out what it is!"

Baltar whimpered. He'd dreamed of it, too, but he wasn't ready to die for it.

Behind them, beyond the door, Baltar heard a muffled sort of crump. Hearing it brought back vague, frightening memories of Kobol: flickering fire and the broken, shattered bodies of the dead.

He decided to stay, after all.

Baltar eyed the Cylons, gauging their intentions. Sam Anders was watching him, with a confused look on his face. Beside him, Cavil was on his knees, with his forearm half-buried in an access panel which looked far too small for him. He glanced back, saw Baltar and Caprica, and yanked his arm out in a spray of blood.

More blood, Baltar thought. His head spun. Wonderful.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Cavil asked. He moved to point at them, and then hissed in pain, clutching at his arm. The palm had been cut down to the bone, like Sharon's had been the time she'd interfaced with the computers on Galactica. There was a long, jagged slice along his forearm, too, where the edge of the access panel had ripped him. Blood dripped down his thumb and onto the floor.

"God sent us," Caprica said.

"Uh huh. Did he happen to give you a magic band-aid, too? I could use one."

"Don't blaspheme," she snapped. "We've just experienced a miracle, One. Not that I'd expect you to understand."

"Great, because I don't. I don't understand what you want, Six. You talk about our 'God' and then you attack our Hub and our Colony -- our family. What does God have to say about that, Six? What's he have to say about a Hero of the Cylon turned traitor?" He jabbed his finger at her accusingly, heedless of the blood. "You broke our unity, and now your stupid human friends are killing our people, and it's your fault -- you and that freak kid! Just frak off. I'm tryin' to fix this."

"What is it?" Baltar asked. His voice broke. "Is it... important? Maybe I could--"

"Shut up, human. It's none of your damn business."

"Now, Cavil," Sam began.

"No! Get out. Why don't you go play with your human friends, if they're so much better than us Cylons!"

"It's not like that. The humans can help us. They can give us children, Cavil!" Caprica cried.

"I don't want children," he growled. "I don't want to trap somebody else in a worthless body like this one! And more than that, I don't want our people to die. Don't you see, Six? There aren't enough of you left. You can have children all you want, but in a few generations they'll be nothin' but human, and you and your friends will be forgotten. Is that what you want for our people? To be absorbed, just like the Thirteenth Colony was on Earth, so the cycle can start all over again?"

"I... I don't care, Cavil. All I want is to have my baby. All I want is to live, and to love." She glanced over at Gaius. "The humans can give us that, Cavil. If we just stop killing them, they can give us that."

Cavil snorted. "That's what you said on New Caprica, and how well did that work?"

"That's different! That was wrong. We weren't partners, we were-- we were enslavers, just like the humans used to be. We can do better than that. We should live together with them, as equals!"

"Yeah, right. Equals. Wake up, sister: they think we're a frakkin' box that makes breakfast. They don't give a wet slap about us, and they never have. Don't you get it? Humans and machines will never be able to live together. Never. They hate us. They hate everything we are."

He turned to Baltar. "How 'bout you, Doc? What do you think of us? You like all this? Wanna take home a nice Hybrid and put it in your ship?" He waved his hand, indicating the room.

"Uh, no," Baltar tittered. "It's really rather disgusting."

"You see what I mean?"

"But, uh, that trick with the port in your hand is quite clever, actually. That is what you were doing there, isn't it?"

"Huh? Yeah, of course. Can't reach the cable, though. Guess we're all gonna die."

"Die?" Baltar cried.

Caprica frowned. "What do you mean? What's happened?"

"The engines are burning out," Sam cut in. "We're trying to stop them, but it's not working."

"But the Colony can't live without-- oh," Caprica said. "I see."

Just then, Hera began to fuss, kicking at Caprica's belly. She shifted her to her other arm, unconsciously protecting her Liam. "Don't cry," she told Hera, bouncing her against her hip. "Shh, don't cry, little one. It's all right."

Baltar watched her, deep in thought. Then his face grew cunning.

"Little. Hera's little," Baltar said. "She can reach the cable."

---

Adama raised his head, looking up from his vigil. Life Station had been relatively quiet, as Cottle and Ishay were beginning to make headway against the casualties. Now, suddenly, another wave of them poured in. Two Marines had their buddy on a stretcher; he had two ragged tourniquets where his legs should have been. Beside him, there was a boy with his head smashed in, dragged by a young girl who was covered in blood from a gash in her leg.

Beneath Adama's hand, Laura's fingers twitched. He looked down, into her eyes, and saw how weak she was. She could barely hold her head up off the pillow, and yet she was smiling at him.

"It's OK, Bill," she breathed. "It's OK. All of this... will happen again."

"Don't talk that way," he said. "We'll make it. I know we will. We've come so far."

"So... so did all the others," she sighed. "I can see the Opera House, Bill. So many Opera Houses. But I'm afraid. I'm afraid it's not enough..."

"Ishay!" Bill barked. "Doc!"

They were busy. Cottle gave him an apologetic look over the double-amputee Marine, and Ishay dashed by with an armful of morpha capsules.

Adama bowed his head. Of course they wouldn't come. Laura was dying. There was nothing anyone could do, and some strong young fighter might need the morpha or chamalla more than she did. He understood that; he was an Admiral, a soldier, and he understood triage and acceptable losses.

Even so, part of him was man, not Admiral, and so he raged. He squeezed the edge of the bed, because he didn't dare squeeze his Laura's fragile hand, and he swore his love to all the Gods that would listen.

"Bill. Bill, I have to... I have to talk. Have to speak. Help me up."

"What?" He looked up at the bed, where Laura was struggling to sit up -- to sit up. Her eyes were bright with improbable strength.

"One last speech," she said.

He looked in her eyes, and saw everything he'd ever loved in them. They were the eyes of a leader, the eyes of a schoolteacher, and the eyes of the woman he loved. There was only one thing he could say, one thing he could do.

"Marry me first," he told her.

---

Cavil's jaw dropped. For a long moment, nobody said anything.

"I'll be damned," he finally said. "She can do it, can't she? She can save our people." He took a step forward, reaching toward Hera, but Caprica stepped back, wrapping a protective hand around her. Her face contorted with maternal rage.

"Don't you touch her!"

Cavil's eyes narrowed. "So, showin' your stripes at last, huh? You think I'm just gonna stand here and let you kill us all? Gimme the kid. Now."

"Now, uh, wait just a minute, I really think we'd be much better off if we'd all just--" Baltar tried.

"Give. Me. That. Baby," Cavil rumbled, stalking forward.

Caprica thrust out a hand to ward him off, clutching Hera against her chest. In response, Cavil began to circle, hunting for an opening.

"Wait," Sam said. When neither of them backed down, he added, "Stop! You can't do this. You'll kill each other and the child, and then all of us will die!"

"Not if I win. Not if I break this traitor's frakkin' neck and take the kid."

"You think you can?" Caprica taunted. "Your model was always weak. Weak and small and old and--"

"Stop it!" Sam shouted. "John Cavil and Number Six! You stop fighting this instant!"

Cavil glanced back at him, blinking. Caprica, too, relaxed just a fraction.

"You have got to be kidding," Cavil snickered. "What do you think we are, twelve? Fresh off the assembly line?"

"It worked, didn't it? Listen, maybe there's another way. Caprica has something you want, right? You want Hera to help you stop the engines. And you have something she wants -- you can end the fighting."

"I can end our half of the fighting, sure. But I'm tellin' you, the humans'll never stop. If we let up for a minute they'll exterminate us all!"

"We're already going to be exterminated, John. If we don't get those engines stopped, our people will die, and all your work will be erased. Don't you think it's at least worth trying?"

Cavil's eyes narrowed. "Keep talking," he said thoughtfully. "I'm listening."

Caprica cut in. "I'll lend you Hera," she promised. "But only if you swear to me she won't be hurt, and only if you give her back afterward."

"And what do you get in return?"

"Stop the fighting. Let the humans be, forever. That's all I want."

"That's all, huh? No deal. If the humans live, the cycle will continue. I won't allow that, not even if it means our own destruction."

"What if you're wrong? What if there's another way?"

"What other way? Occupation didn't work. Killing them didn't work. What else do you propose we try?"

"I told you. We can live together. Gaius and I are the proof." She held out her hand. Baltar took it. His hand only trembled a little.

Cavil rolled his eyes. "You and Baltar are proof that you're both frakkin' crazy. That's all."

"Maybe so. But we did it. The Twos, Sixes, and Eights have lived with the humans for months now."

"Yeah, and how many times did you almost kill each other?"

"Almost doesn't count, Cavil. We're here. We're alive, together. That means it's at least possible. Tell me: doesn't reason suggest that a possibility, however slight, is better than certain destruction?"

Cavil made a pained face. "We could still do it. I can take the kid, put things right, kill the humans..."

"No. I won't let you take her, Cavil. Never." Caprica lifted Hera, and perched her on her hip. Then, suddenly, she wrapped her elbow around Hera's tiny neck. "Agree," she said, with tears in her eyes. "End this war. Or the child dies, right here and now."

"Caprica!" Baltar cried. He took a step back, breaking the link of their hands.

Cavil watched her for a long moment, sharp-eyed, looking for weakness. Then, finally, he sighed, and threw up his hands. "All right. Checkmate. You win. I'll... I'll stop the war. But only if you keep your human pets in line, Six. This isn't gonna be another Cimtar Accords -- I'm not gonna agree to put down our arms and slink away, like our fathers did at the end of the last war. This is a provisional ceasefire, not a surrender. Got it?"

Caprica nodded. "Got it. But you have to stop the fighting now, before I hand her over. I don't trust you to keep your word."

Cavil sniffed, as though insulted. "Fine. Get over here and help me, Sam." He walked over to the datafont, with Sam in tow. "I'm still locked out, so you're gonna have to do this. There's at least one of each of the models connected to the datastream; you should be able to find 'em easy enough."

"What do I tell them?"

"Stop fighting!"

Sam nodded. He slipped his hand into the datafont, and closed his eyes.

Cavil was right; Sam could feel the presence of another One, along with a couple of Fours and a Five. They were watchful, nervous, patrolling the datastream as though they half-expected an attack. Sam began to reach out to them, and then changed his mind.

He dove further in, hunting through the data, searching for the block which kept Cavil from interfacing. He went in deep, deep as the floor of the ocean, where no Cylons ever went. Sam sailed above small, quiet dataforms which lay in long rows, still like the dead. This is where people go when they're boxed, he thought, with an inward shiver. This is where John kept us, once.

Sam almost changed his mind again. Almost. But Caprica was right -- he had to try, had to take this chance even if he couldn't quite believe in it.

John was his son.

He found the access block, nestled amongst a million identical Threes. He smashed it. Then he surfaced, gasping.

"John -- Cavil. I unlocked your access. Help me. We'll do it together."

Cavil gave him a skeptical look, but Sam didn't budge. Finally, he put his hand in the datafont.

Sam had half expected to be horrified by Cavil's true nature, but he was much like the other One; just a Cylon, nothing more.

Of course, Cavil said, amused. We're all the same guy. You never understood that, did you? Even after we were first copied, you kept lookin' for the "original" Cavil. We're all the original, y'see. All the same.

They weren't precisely the same, though. As Cavil interfaced with his brother, explaining the nature of the truce, Sam noticed that there were small, almost insignificant differences. Individuality had crept in, while Cavil was away from his brothers, and now he wasn't quite the same.

As Sam connected to the Fours and the Fives, he wondered whether the other Ones would ever have taken his offer, without Cavil's help. He felt no duplicity or hesitation in their replies, though. As he watched, the ceasefire spread like wildfire through the Cylon consciousness.

The Ones, Fours, and Fives seemed genuinely eager to stop the fighting.

Sam had to wonder why.

---


Next time: prophecy comes to pass, in more ways than one.


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:45 pm 
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Still reading, but slowly.

I should have more time next month.

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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 5:32 pm 
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Chris Taylor wrote:
Still reading, but slowly.

I should have more time next month.

Great! :biggrin: Thanks again for your comments.


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:47 am 
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Cavil is very droll. :wink:

Sorry I haven't had time to comment at length. This is interesting, and certainly has more thought put into it than some finales that will go unnamed. This is actually driven from the Cylon side of the equation, which is very different from the show. That's one of the problems I think the show had in the end--it never really developed a credible conception of the Cylons or their internal drivers.


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Tue Mar 30, 2010 6:35 am 
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NT2 wrote:
Cavil is very droll. :wink:

Sorry I haven't had time to comment at length. This is interesting, and certainly has more thought put into it than some finales that will go unnamed. This is actually driven from the Cylon side of the equation, which is very different from the show. That's one of the problems I think the show had in the end--it never really developed a credible conception of the Cylons or their internal drivers.

Yes, this story is more Cylon-heavy than the show. I wanted to give the "bad" Cylons a bit of backstory, along with realistic reasons for what they were doing, and that meant spending more time with them than the show did. Plus, they're my favorites. ;) That said, after the next part the story returns to the Colonial point of view for the remainder... so don't give up on this, Fleet fans! Fans of Starbuck should be especially pleased with what's to come.

As for Cavil and his jokes: I liked BSG a lot better when it was funny! Seasons 1 and 2 had plenty of fun and humorous moments, but it seems like the show started to take itself too seriously later on (to disastrous consequences, eventually). I wanted to avoid that with this story. Fortunately, having Cavil (and Baltar!) around made it easy...

Thanks again for your comments! :cheers:


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:14 am 
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Voice of Reason Part 9: Stalemate Sandwiches

---

Kara leaned over her rifle, trying not to fall asleep. The humans and Cylons had been at stalemate for nearly an hour. She and her squad were ensconced in the hallway outside Life Station, having fled all the way back to the ship. She and Lee had set up another big gun, just as the Cylons hit; they'd driven them back around the corner, and now both sides were dug in, waiting for the other to make a move.

At first, the Cylons had tried periodic attacks -- grenades, rifles, even a suicide bomber. But here in the heart of Galactica, she and Lee had almost inexhaustible ammunition, and a hundred yards of corridor plus the fifty-cal was more than enough to put down everything the Cylons sent. Likewise, the squad Kara had sent to flush the Cylons out were lying dead on the floor. She couldn't risk sending anyone else, not with the numbers they had left.

Stalemate. Great.

"Hey! Hey, humans! You guys got any food? Sandwiches or somethin'? I'm starving!" one of the Cavils yelled.

A couple of the Marines snickered. They were starting to lose their will to fight; like Kara, most of them were more than glad for the reprieve.

"Frak off!" Lee yelled.

"C'mon over here and make me!" the Cavil shouted back jovially. His hand whipped around the corner, middle finger firmly extended.

Even Kara laughed.

"This is stupid," Lee grumped. "This isn't a war, it's slow suicide. It's never gonna end."

"Hey, why so sad, Lee? We're alive. We're not fighting, at least for now. That's a good thing. Tell you what, why don't you go see how your Dad is. I'll hold down the fort."

He frowned pensively. "Some fort. OK, I'll be back soon." He gave her a brotherly hug; she turned it into a not-so-brotherly one, and then smacked him on the ass.

"Go on, Apollo!"

There was more snickering in his wake.

---

The scene in Life Station was sobering. The wounded and dying were everywhere. Ishay had brought in cots, rack mattresses, and even crates as makeshift beds. They covered the floor in long rows, each with a groaning occupant.

Lt. Hoshi had been moved to make room for new casualties; he sat against the wall, with his ruined hands wrapped in surgical dressing. He smiled at Lee through his morpha haze.

"Hi, Hoshi. You OK?" Lee asked.

"Sure," Hoshi drawled. "Hey, your Dad's getting marrrrrrried."

Lee blinked. Then he gave a self-conscious bark of laughter. "Very funny, Lieutenant. Hilarious. No, really, where is he?"

Hoshi bobbed his head toward a bed in the corner. Lee turned, and saw the impossible.

His father was down on one knee, with Laura Roslin's hand in his. Above them, Doc Cottle stood with all the presence of a grizzled Gemenese priest, cigarette firmly in mouth.

Lee moved forward, close enough to hear.

"You two have been married in all but name for a long time already, and this is a busy hospital. So now you're married. Congratulations."

Adama pressed his lips to Laura's hand, and then removed his wedding ring and slipped it onto her finger. It was too big for her now, so close to the end, but she curled her hand shut around it, just the same.

"Thanks, Sherman," Adama said.

"Don't mention it," Cottle muttered, heading off toward his patients. He gave Lee a wry smile on his way by.

"Oh, Captain Apollo," Laura rasped, when he walked up. He smiled.

"I'm a Major, now, but I'm sure you know that, Madame President," he teased gently. "Or should I say, Mrs. Admiral."

"I think I'm probably Mr. President," Bill chuckled. Then he sobered. "How's it going out there, son?"

"Well enough for now," Lee sighed. "But we're at stalemate, and we're getting similar reports from all over the ship. Things are starting to bog down, sir." He leaned in close. "If we're not careful, this could turn into the Battle of Tauron all over again. We could be fighting them hand-to-hand in the halls."

Adama frowned. "Keep it up, Lee. We've got to--"

Suddenly, there was a commotion at the door. Lee turned to see Kara, holding a Cylon prisoner at gunpoint. "Right here and no closer," Kara warned.

"As you wish," the Five said. He looked very out-of-place in his electric-blue leisure suit and perfectly coiffed hair. Lee had to suppress a sudden desire to go wipe the smirk off his face.

"What is this?" Adama demanded. "What do you want?"

"My people have sent me to offer a ceasefire. We wish to end the hostilities and-- and coexist with you humans." His mouth twisted a bit on the last few words.

"What's the catch?"

"There isn't one. It's already been arranged. All I'm supposed to tell you is: Sam Anders says 'penalty shot'."

Kara gasped. "What did you say?"

"Kara, what is this?" Adama asked.

"Sam's alive, sir," she said, with tears of joy shining in her eyes. "He's alive, and the truce is real. 'Penalty shot' is a Resistance code word: it means all-clear."

---

"So now what?" Anders asked. "She's three. How's she gonna do this?"

"She may be little, but she's still a Cylon," Cavil said. "I can show her what she needs to do through projection. Then we gotta cut her hand -- sorry, Six -- and all she's gotta do is get the cable and shove it in. It's not too hard, even for a kid."

"You're sure there's no other way?" Caprica asked.

Cavil shrugged. "You're the one who wanted to cut a deal, sis. Feel free to come up with something better."

"All right," she said finally. "Hera, go with your Uncle Cavil. He has something important to show you."

Caprica put Hera down carefully, watching for signs of duplicity on Cavil's part. He merely held out his hand.

"C'mere, kid. I'm gonna give you a crash course in Cylon 101."

Hera stared up at him, chewing on one of her fingers. She wasn't sure if she liked this old man, but Auntie Six pushed her forward gently.

"Go on, Hera. Please."

Mommy had taught her manners, and that meant doing things when people asked you nicely. Hera shuffled forward cautiously.

"There you go. Here, take my hand."

Hera did. She did, and then she blinked, because the old man looked like a big, shiny robot-thing inside her mind. The machine was tall and bright gold, like the ten-cubit piece Daddy had put away for her birthday, and it stood in the midst of a scene from her favorite storybook. Thick, bright lines sketched out a big red barn beneath a blue sky, all above a wavy line of green.

"This is projection," the machine said, looking down at her with its glowing red eye. "You know how this works, right?"

Hera nodded. Mommy told her stories that way, like the first time she and Daddy ever met, in the rain. Hera hadn't seen rain in a long time.

With a crash of thunder, it began to pour in her projection. A dark cloud covered up the smiley face on the crayon-yellow sun. Hera giggled guiltily.

"Doesn't bother me. Now look: here's what you have to do."

Images filled Hera's mind; she saw a flash of pain, a '37', and then a plastic cable that looked like the toy snake in her quarters. Then there were lots and lots and lots of numbers. They were all one and zero, like a long fence with gaps in it.

"Repeat," the machine said. "Verify checksum."

Hera waved her hand. Behind her, the fence stretched out into eternity, in neat wooden pickets like the ones in her storybook.

The machine looked it over carefully. "Good," it said. "You're ready."

It turned her hand over, palm up. Then the pain came. Hera whimpered, her lip quivering.

"It's all right," Auntie Six said. "You can do it, Hera. I know you can."

The machine let go. Instantly, it was an old man again. He looked very tired, the way Daddy always did when he came home from work.

"Do it, kid," he muttered. "Go for it!"

Hera nodded bravely. She toddled over to the panel in the wall, cradling her bleeding hand against her chest. She peered inside. It was small and dark and scary in there, but she could just see some plastic cables, just like in the projection. There was something written on them. She moved her head so more light would get in, so she could read them.

Each cable had a number. One of them said "37".

She reached in, straining. She could barely reach; she had to put her arm in all the way to the shoulder. Finally, her fingers brushed the cable. She wrapped her hand around it, wincing, and then pulled the cable out of the socket it was plugged into.

"I'm not gonna lie to you, kid," the old man said behind her. "This next part really frakkin' sucks."

Hera closed her eyes. She projected her room back home: her Raptor mobile, her warm bed, even her high-chair and her bowl of algae. Mom and Dad were there, and they were smiling at her. They were proud of her, so proud.

She slipped her other hand into the hole, pressed the cable against the wound in her palm, and shoved hard.

Even with the comfort of the projection, she almost fell down. It hurt hurt hurt; she could feel her blood beginning to run down the cable. But more than that, she could feel the presence of something else: a series of big, fierce, fiery things.

Stop, she thought. Stop now.

Then she projected her fence. She made it perfect, just the way the old machine had given it to her. It flowed down the cable and out of sight.

Seconds later, the big fiery things calmed themselves, rumbling into quiescence.

---

"How do we know we can trust you?" Lee asked fiercely. "How do we know this isn't another Cylon trick?"

"It isn't," the copy of Aaron Doral said. It was astonishing, really, how much he looked like the one Lee had met aboard Colonial One. He even had the same way of cocking his head. "We give you our word. We're tired of dying. Besides, how do we know we can trust you? You were duplicitous on New Caprica. You said you would work with us, and then you bombed us."

An uncomfortable silence followed. "Mr. Doral," Adama finally growled, "it would be better for everyone concerned if your people do not mention New Caprica again."

Doral gave him a confused look. "If you insist. I'm to cooperate with you in any way I can. I'm your liason."

Adama gave his son a look which said clearly, do you think we could ask for a different one?

"I'm afraid to say that we're not very pleased with your compliance so far," Doral added. "Some of our people are still pinned down aboard your ship. If you don't recall your soldiers, we may be forced to fire back."

Adama frowed. "I thought you recalled all the squads," he said to Kara.

"I did, sir. But there may still be... irregulars, if you get what I mean. There were a lot of civilians aboard, people who lost their entire families to the Cylons. They may not be ready to stop killing."

"We don't care who they are," Doral snapped. "Stop them, or we will stop them for you."

Adama gritted his teeth.

"Bill," Laura called softly, from her bed. "Let me help."

He went to her, smiling. She still looked weak, but her eyes were bright.

"Let me make a speech, Bill. Put it over the intercom. Or whatever's left of it." She laughed, and then began to cough, shuddering with each breath. He went to her, squeezing her hand.

"I-- I'm all right. I'm OK." She looked up at him tiredly. Then she smiled at the look of worry on his face. He was always so fierce at times like this, protective of her like a big old bear. She loved him for it. "I can do this, Bill. One last thing, for the fleet."

He nodded. Lee brought her the phone from the wall. She took a breath as deep as she dared, let it out, and spoke into the headset.

"People of the Twelve Colonies. And Cylon friends, both old... and new." She glanced over at Doral. "I know it's difficult to let go of your anger -- your very justified anger. All of us have been wounded by this war. All of us. And yet the time has come for us to join together for survival, just as we did when we first fled the Colonies." She paused. "Just as we did when our ancestors -- all of them, both human and Cylon -- fled Kobol, the home of the Gods."

In the corridors, Playa Palacios paused in her firing, glancing up at the intercom speakers. She'd given up on the President for dead. They all had.

She glanced back up the hall, at the small knot of Cylons she'd been shooting at. They, too, had stopped to listen, lowering their weapons.

Surprisingly, she found that she was glad.

"We have come a long, dangerous way, just as they did. We have suffered, we have fought, and we have died, as they did. But we have a chance, now, to do something they never could. We can come together, in peace, with our former enemies." She paused again. "I can never ask you to forget what they have done to you -- and I say that to both human and Cylon. But I must ask you now to lay down your arms, and to work to ensure the survival of both our races."

At the other end of Life Station, Cottle was struggling to save the Marine with no legs. He'd already given as much blood as they had on hand, and it still wasn't enough. Beside him, three of the Marine's buddies had lined up in front of Ishay; the ID strip on their uniforms said B NEG. The rest of them stood at the end of his bed, helmets in hand, silently pulling for him.

"When we left Ragnar Anchorage, we had a choice. We could have stayed; we could have made our stand there. We could have died in battle, to honor the name of Ares. We chose not to. We ran, seeking Earth -- not because we were afraid, but because we longed for a home. We longed to live."

Caprica left Athena's body. She held Hera close, letting her hide her tiny face against her chest. It was better that she didn't see. Gaius was still weeping there, brokenly, with his face in his hands; his capacity for feeling had surprised her once again. Anders was with him, praying under his breath.

Cavil was down the hall. He had found his brothers. As Caprica watched, he knelt on the floor beside them, holding their still hands in his. His head was bowed, and in that moment, he seemed every bit as old as he looked. "They were my friends," he said. "My only friends."

She felt sorry for him, despite all he'd done. "I know. Don't be afraid. They've gone to a better place," she told him.

"Yeah, the recycler," he sniffed, wiping his face on his sleeve. "If you'll excuse me, I'd like to take 'em there myself." He stood, took Aaron and Simon each by one leg, and began to drag them up the hall, leaving a wide, bright smear of blood behind him.

Caprica turned to go. She wanted to scream at him. She wanted to shake him, to slap him, to demand that he take responsibility for what his foolish war had done. But there was nothing to say, not anymore.

There had already been too much suffering.

"That is still my choice. We have come much too far to give up now, much too far to waste our precious lives in battle. Lay down your arms, people of the Thirteen Tribes, and follow me. I tell you that we will find the Promised Land, a true Earth where our families can prosper. We will have peace, even in the land of our enemies. I know we will. If we can make it this far, together, then we can do this."

"We can do anything."

Laura let go of the phone, letting it drop into her lap. She lay back, sighing, letting go. At last, her duty was done.

"All right, that's all we can do," she murmured. She shut her eyes.

"Anybody who still hasn't given up, you can kill."

---

Later that night, Laura died quietly, surrounded by her husband and his children. She went slowly, slipping away, as the monitor on the wall beeped more and more infrequently. At the last, she squinted up past her family, as though blinded by the lamps in Life Station.

Or, perhaps, by the sunlight on the water.

Kara and Lee only stayed for a while; they left Adama to cry over Laura's body, knowing that he needed to be alone. They filed out behind the Marines, who'd finally lost their comrade, leaving Life Station to the mourning, the dying, and the dead.

Somewhere, Lt. Hoshi was singing Gaeta's song. He wasn't a very good singer -- off key and way too slow, singing through the morpha -- but the plaintive sound of it made Kara's heart break just the same.

Their walk through the corridors was a lonely one. By the time Laura breathed her last, the fighting had entirely stopped. The Cylons began the long, slow march toward home, bearing their fallen comrades to the recyclers, and the humans brought their dead to the storage rooms near Life Station, where Cottle had set up an auxilliary morgue. Lee and Kara weaved their way through them, without a word.

Finally, they stood in front of the Officers' Quarters, gazing at the mess. The whole place had been turned upside down. The hatch had been ripped half-off, and was dangling crazily from its pin. The table had turned over, the mattresses had slid off all of the racks, and Dragon's porn collection had blown everywhere.

Lee shoved a worn issue of Island of Lesbos off his rack, hauled the mattress back onto it, and ushered Kara in. She was too tired even to take her boots off; he did it for her, gently, and then tossed them onto the floor. He kicked his own off, slid in behind her, and held her close.

"Sam's alive," she whispered. "He's alive, Lee."

"I know," he said. There was joy in his voice. "I'm really glad, Kara. Really."

They slept the sleep of the dead, nestled in each other's arms, the way they'd slept after Zak's final flight test, when he'd gotten them all drunk on double ambrosia shots.

---

Boomer wandered through the halls of the Colony. She ran her hands against the wall, fingers splayed wide for a better connection, and opened her mind to the Hybrid within.

The Colony was beginning to heal. She could sense it, all around her, pulsing with life.

Boomer grinned up at the ceiling. Her home wasn't finished yet. It was, like her, a survivor. She hummed her favorite lullaby for it, an old, fragmented song that every Eight knew by heart. The Colony welcomed her, greeting her with joy, just the way the Raider had on Galactica's flight deck.

You belong here, sister, it seemed to say. You are home.

She took a right turn, then a left, and began to hum a different tune. It was a song her mother had taught her on Troy, when she was a little girl that never really was. The Colony liked it just the same.

She didn't know where she was going. She wasn't sure if anyone was still alive; for all she knew, she was the last Cylon left in the universe. Somehow, though, the thought didn't bother her.

Boomer smiled, humming her tune, and followed where the Colony led her.

She turned another corner and found her Cavil, sitting alone before a bloodstained recycler. His head was bowed. He didn't see her. Boomer patted the wall gently, thanking it for its guidance, and sat down beside him, tucking his hand into hers.

His projection enveloped her. It was the usual one, full of shining machines which lived on a Colony much like their own, only bigger and brighter and better. Then it changed. In an instant, Cavil told her everything that had happened, all in a rush: Oh, Eight, I thought you were dead and Aaron and Simon didn't make it and we had to cut a deal with the humans. The images tumbled through her mind, shot through with frustration and anger; it hurt him to have to repeat them, even for her.

She squeezed his hand and answered him. It's all right. I'm alive. I'm here. I came back. She showed him how the Colony had welcomed her; she told him how the Centurions had spared her life. Then, before she could stop herself, she crafted a perfect little white lie, to protect two men she loved.

Even as she did, she told herself it was the last time. The last lie ever.

After this, I'm starting over, she thought. I'm not just playing a role. Not anymore.

Cavil didn't hear her... or if he did, he didn't say so. He merely accepted her projection, lies and all, as if it hadn't even occurred to him to check its truth-value. When it was finished, he sighed, and leaned his head against her.

They sat together, shoulder to shoulder, saying nothing. Finally, Cavil broke the silence.

"I'm glad you came back, Eight."

Boomer frowned. "You know, I've been thinking... I want you to call me Sharon from now on. Not Eight. And definitely not pet Eight."

He raised an eyebrow. "Huh? What brought this on?"

"I was always Boomer aboard Galactica. Even Galen-- even the Chief usually called me that. Then I was Eight to the Cylons. Even to you, I was just an Eight. I've never..." She looked up, into his eyes. "I've never been just Sharon. Never. And I want that. I want to be Sharon to somebody."

He cracked a wry, weary smile. "Sharon it is, then. Anything you want, so long as you don't start callin' me John!"

She laughed, just as he'd meant her to, and squeezed his hand again. "We're going to be machines, Cavil. Together. Aren't we?"

"Damn straight we are. Best frakkin' machines the universe has ever seen, Sharon. You can bet on it."

---

Later that night, Kara dreamed of the Academy, of clear blue skies and boundless potential. All the nuggets were there in Kara's dream, slicing through the sky like comets: Hot Dog and Sleeper and Kat and the others, all the lost Raptor wranglers and all the lost Viper jocks. Dee was on the horn, calling them home, and Felix stood beside her on two good legs, watching the DRADIS.

In her dream, Kara remembered every last one of their names.

In Life Station, Cottle watched as Ishay wheeled the last of the dead away. He leaned against the table, wiped his bloodstained hands against his apron, and lit a cigarette.

Hoshi looked up from the floor, where he was cradling his ruined hands, and informed him, very seriously, that smoking caused cancer.

Not far away, the Tighs were reuniting. Ellen wrapped her legs around her husband and pulled him down, down onto the hospital bed where a man had breathed his last no more than ten minutes before. "We're alive," he cried, grinning up at her. "We're alive, godsdamnit!"

"Prove it," she smirked.

At the edge of the ship, Caprica was just stepping through the hangar bay door. Hera was napping, safe and snug in her arms, and Gaius was by her side, with Sam just a few steps behind. Then she jerked to a halt, surprised. Before her were her people, arrayed inside the hangar: dirty, ragged rows of Twos and Sixes and Eights. There was even one last red-striped Centurion, battered and broken, yet unbowed.

One of the Sixes stepped forward. "Welcome home, Hero of the Cylon," she said, smiling warmly. "We've been waiting for you."

Adama stood at the door of the CIC, staring at the wreckage inside. Everything was twisted up inside: steel, glass, plastic, bodies, all jumbled together like a puzzle some petty child had swept off a table.

She was dead -- his love, his ship, his life.

He turned away slowly, rubbing the place where his wedding ring had been.

Around them all, quiet and sublime, the Colony began the long process of healing. Its Hybrid burbled peacefully, whispering words of comfort for all her children to hear.

---


Next time: Guess who's coming to dinner?


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:11 am 
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Posts: 619
Sorry I haven't got around to commenting on this until now. That's an interesting take, with a fairly sweet ending. It actually has more emotional resonance than what we got from the actual show's "cave man" conclusion.

A nice effort. You can see the thought that went into it. :clap:


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 Post subject: Re: Voice of Reason, grey_sw, Boomer/Cavil, Boomer/Tyrol, R
PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 6:51 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:23 pm
Posts: 37
NT2 wrote:
Sorry I haven't got around to commenting on this until now. That's an interesting take, with a fairly sweet ending. It actually has more emotional resonance than what we got from the actual show's "cave man" conclusion.
A nice effort. You can see the thought that went into it. :clap:

Thank you! Thought is exactly what I was going for with this story... RDM's comments about fans "thinking too much" notwithstanding. :P

There are a couple chapters left, but the end is now in sight.


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