Thanks to cerebel and millari for their gracious proof-reading and commentary.
Admiral Adama entered the Pegasus brig, trailed by a pair of guards whose assault rifles did not exactly point at him, but the muzzles never strayed too far from him, either. He stopped just inside the hatch, observing the two men behind the plexiglass wall. The taller one was dozing; the other had somehow gotten a triad deck and was meticulously building a circular house of cards.
“Wait outside,” Adama ordered the guards in a tone that brooked no refusal. They exchanged hesitant glances, but the admiral remained still, waiting for them to obey, and after a long moment they straggled from the room. He turned back to find the two men standing at attention, saluting crisply. “As you were,” he acknowledged. Helo and
“How are you both?” he asked presently.
“Fine, sir”, Helo answered. “It’s good to see you. We haven’t seen anyone from Galactica or heard any news since Starbuck came to see us a couple of weeks ago.”
“I’m afraid I’m not here with good news, Lieutenant.”
“What’s going on?”
“The situation within the fleet is grim. Admiral Cain and I remain at loggerheads, and the President is failing quickly. She might not last the day.”
“What do you want us to do?” Helo said.
“There’s nothing you can do, for the moment. Cain refuses to acknowledge my promotion, so I need you to be prepared for the worst.”
The prisoners nodded. After a moment, Adama continued: “There’s more.” Then he paused, and regarded Helo, who tensed his shoulders. “There's no easy way to say this,” Adama continued. “It's about the Cylon. The President has decided that her pregnancy will be terminated.”
“Doc Cottle discovered some anomalies in the fetal blood work.”
“Isn't that expected?” Helo cried.
“Maybe. But the President believes that to allow the baby to come to full term constitutes an unacceptable risk to the fleet.”
“I don't understand.
“To save her own life,” Adama chided. “Don't mistake the will the live for genuine conversion, Lieutenant. She's still the enemy.”
After a strained paused, Helo asked: “Does she know?”
“Then I should be the one to tell her.”
“You know as well as I do that isn’t possible.”
“Then it should be you telling her, sir.”
“It will be.”
Helo looked away, setting his jaw and shaking his head.
Adama pressed on. “Helo, I don't expect you to agree to the decision. But I need you to accept it. Tensions between Galactica and Pegasus are high. I don’t want anything setting them off.” Adama’s expression remained neutral. “I’ll keep you informed,” he promised, and turned to leave. “Excuse me, sir,” Adama’s eyes blazed. “You think I don’t know that, Chief? My commander-in-chief gave me an order. I don’t always like the orders I get, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to follow them.”
“We're talking about my child, sir!" Helo shouted. "Part of me. But I guess it's easier to kill when you call it a Cylon.”
“Begging your pardon, sir, but that’s crap. You had Roslin arrested for giving orders you didn’t like not two months ago.”
“That was a different situation.” Adama removed his glasses and briefly pinched the bridge of his nose. “Arresting the President was the last thing I wanted to do, but the alternative was to allow her to fatally interfere with the chain of command. Once people start thinking they can appeal my orders to someone else, I can’t defend the fleet, and our civilization dies. I made the absolutely right decision, and I’d do it again.”
“Admiral," Tyrol barked, "there’s a big step between defending the fleet and killing an unborn child. There is no one more defenseless, and more innocent, in the universe. How can we do this? We don’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl, yet! How do we know that this child hasn’t been sent by the gods to bring peace between our peoples? Even if you go by the prophecies, they’re still pretty vague: the dying leader might be a mistranslation—it could mean the new-born leader...”
“That’s enough, Chief. The President gave me an order, and I’m going to follow it as soon as I return to Galactica. We’re soldiers. Killing on command is our job. Get used to it.” With that, Adama marched from the room. The two prisoners remained where they stood. After a moment,
Adama’s expression remained neutral. “I’ll keep you informed,” he promised, and turned to leave.
“Excuse me, sir,”
Adama’s eyes blazed. “You think I don’t know that, Chief? My commander-in-chief gave me an order. I don’t always like the orders I get, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to follow them.”
Apollo carried the box of clothes, tools and personal affects to the worktable on the Galactica’s flight deck. Starbuck strode behind him, forcing herself to smile as she returned to this familiar place. Everyone stopped to watch her pass, most with a smile or nod or murmured greeting. “Triad in the ready room at 18:00. Fresh deck,” said Duck, popping his head out for a moment from his pre-flight check. Try as she might, she couldn’t quite meet his eyes.
Apollo broke the spell. “All right, get your rubber gloves on,” he said as he upended the box. “This is everything from the Janik woman's quarters. Somehow the Admiral thinks looking through this crap's gonna tell us something new about their so-called movement.”
“So, um...haven't seen much of you since your space walk,” Starbuck said.
Apollo furrowed his brown at her. “Your commanding officer is holding the president hostage, and you want to talk about me?”
“Hey, I had nothing to do with that.”
“I know,” said Lee, turning back to the pile on the table.
“Then what do you want from me?”
“It’s not what I want. It’s what Cain wants. You had nothing to do with her last move, but do you think you’ll get to sit out her next one?”
Kara’s eyes blazed. “Lee, you know I’d never do anything to hurt your father. Anything.”
“Yeah, I do. And I bet she does, too. So, watch your…hold it, what is this?” He held up a small box.
“What's a deckhand need with a portable library reader?” Starbuck wondered.
Apollo switched it on, perused the open files. “The Daru Mozu. A tylium refinery.” His eyes widened and rose to meet Starbuck’s. “And Janik's used to explosives.”
He picked up the comm. link at his belt. “This is the CAG. Get me a tac team ready, right now.”
“If this is a bad time, I can come back.”
“No, Bill, please, come in.”
Adama stepped into her room in the Pegasus sick bay, nodded to Billy as the young man eased the door closed behind him, and then sat down in the only chair. “How’s the food, Laura?”
“As soon as I can keep some down, I’ll let you know," she croaked.
Adama nodded. Roslin gave him a smile that, for all her exhaustion, had an urgent vitality that made his heart ache.
“She’s got us over a barrel, Bill.”
“How do we get out of this?”
“I don’t know. She told me that if I resign, endorse her war strategy, and then kill myself, she’d let Lee live.”
“She told me to promote her or she’d kill Billy. After that, I believe she’ll allow me to expire of natural causes.”
“Neither of them would go along with it,” Adama declared.
“I know,” she said, and grimaced. After the pain had passed, she admitted: “I don’t know what to do, Bill. I can’t let the fleet fall apart. I can’t let the human race die. But I’m almost out of time and I can barely sit up in this bed and talk to you. She’s boxed us in.”
“Yes, and unless something gets us out of that box, we’re facing a hard fight. I just hope that we can win.”
“That’s not much of a plan, Bill.”
“True. It’s like I tried to tell Lee once; sometimes living with your decisions, means dying with them, too.”
“But without us, it’s Cain and Zarek in the best positions to take over.” Laura pursed her lips and shook her head. “I wish you’d taken my warning to heart. Unless you can somehow kill her first, she’s going to kill you.”
“Maybe so, but taking it to heart would have meant assassinating her, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It would have betrayed everything I stand for. I know that sounds crazy after I sent marines to arrest you, but violating the military chain of command so flagrantly, killing a superior officer because I didn’t agree with her decisions… I couldn’t do that and expect any loyalty from the women and men who take my orders.”
Laura closed her eyes. “I couldn’t either,” she murmured.
Bill leaned forward and took her hand. Laura cocked her head and forced her eyes open. “I’ve been reminded,” he whispered, “that just before the Cylons attacked, I said that it wasn’t enough to survive, it was important to deserve to survive. We have both done some terrible things since we started this journey. We have told lies, betrayed trusts, and sent friends to their deaths. Yet, I believe that we have stayed true to ourselves at the core, and that we deserve to live. If so, maybe the gods will deliver us.”
Laura smiled. “I guess I should pray, then.”
Adama nodded. “Keep the faith, Madame President. Now, if you will excuse me, there are duties I have to attend to.”
“Yes, of course,” Roslin croaked. “I do need to rest.”
After Adama had left, Roslin sat up straighter in bed and tremblingly spread her arms wide. “Please,” she said, “This is all I have left that I can do. Please, save them.”
Baltar leaned against a workbench, one leg propped against a bulky metal case surrounded by tissue samples awaiting screening in his Cylon detector, staring at an unlit cigar.
“You know that you can’t sit around your lab waiting for things to fall into place; you have to light the fire yourself,” came a familiar voice. He turned, and looked into a familiar face, though the hair was both darker and tied back, the eyes were framed by a pair of glasses, and the lithe frame was wearing a blue lieutenant’s uniform.
He blinked, and then, despite himself, smiled. “That’s a new look for you. You aren’t still jealous of Starbuck, are you?”
“What? No. What does Starbuck have to do with anything? I had to find a way to pass unnoticed here on Galactica. I am risking everything to come and see you here.”
Baltar hunched his shoulders and lurched to his feet. “Oh my god, it’s really you. For a moment I was thinking you were someone else.”
“Who else would I be?” she demanded. When his face contorted but he did not answer, she said: “You know, I’m beginning to worry about you. I heard you had an argument with yourself today aboard the Pegasus, complete with pulling yourself around by your tie.”
“You shouldn’t believe everything you hear. And, anyway, I have a lot on my mind.” He opened his arms and stepped towards her. “I haven’t been able to get you out of my head.”
Her eyes widened and she stepped back, interposing the securely-latched metal case between them. “What are you doing?”
“I miss you,” he panted. “You look amazing.” He reached out and touched her cheek. “I can’t believe how real you are.”
Her mouth tightened, Gina snatched his hand away, twisting and squeezing so that Baltar sank to his knees with a gasp. “Gaius, stop. Someone could walk in and discover me at any moment. I need to leave soon.” She let him go.
Rubbing his hand, Gaius pouted up at her: “So, is there any reason in particular for coming here to see me?”
“You saved me,” she declared. “Now let me save you.”
“Oh, god, here we go again.” He pushed himself back up and propped himself against the workbench again. “What are you talking about?” he demanded.
“You should be more grateful,” Gina chided. “I’ve come to make everything much simpler for you.” She carefully sat down across the table from him, picked up a sample vial and glanced at it for a moment before setting back and meeting his wary gaze.
“Gaius, the fleet's crumbling. People are turning on each other. There are serious misgivings about the military. Now is our time to act.”
“Act how, exactly?”
“By fostering the conflict between Adama and Cain. The more you humans fight amongst yourselves, the easier it will be for the Cylons to save us. The peace movement plays a valuable role, as well, by muddying the issue.”
“Are you involved with them?" He thought a moment. “Of course you are, no wonder they’re suddenly so much more effective.”
“I’m offering what support I can, planning missions, providing schematics, and so forth. The strike on the Daru Mozu was my idea, for example.”
“The tylium refinery? What strike?”
“The one that should have happened seven minutes ago," she grinned. "I’m sure someone will come and let you know shortly.”
“Are you insane?”
“No, Gaius, I’m not. I don’t enjoy violence, but I do recognize that sometimes it is the most effective course of action.”
“As part of a peace movement?”
“There can be no real peace so long as humans have the ability to threaten Cylon security. Your willingness to fight amongst yourselves makes it clear that we can never lower our guard against humanity.”
“And does that include me?”
Gina smiled and shook her head. “No. You, alone amongst your kind, have shown an ability to accept us peacefully, to open your heart to love and live with us in harmony. You’re special.”
Dismay and gratitude warred on Baltar’s face. Suspicion won. “Why have you come here now?”
“If we are going to be together, we need to bring this fleet to its knees, and you need to do your part.”
“Yes, Gaius. If I could do it all myself, I would, but I can’t. Fortunately, you are well positioned to tip the balance quickly.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Once Roslin is dead, Cain will attack Adama. Once she’s killed him, she’ll declare herself in command of the fleet. Then you denounce her as a Cylon.”
“Denounce Cain? Will anyone believe that?”
“They will be desperate to believe anything that promises an end to the fighting, especially if you present it correctly. You are, after all, the most brilliant and famous scientist of your time; you were even before the attacks. And you do have, here, the universe’s only Cylon detector.”
“True, but, for one thing, I don’t have a sample from Admiral Cain.”
“Not to worry. I do.” And Gina pulled a vial from her jacket.
“Is this actually from her? How did you get it?”
“From Tom Zarek, actually. I don’t know how, but he’s got an agent of some kind aboard the Pegasus. When Jahee approached him about a possible alliance, he provided this sample and suggested denouncing Cain.”
“Is that all you want me to do?”
“Well, unless you have a cache of high explosives around your lab that we could use…” Gina laughed.
Baltar’s gaze flicked down just for a moment at the tightly sealed and carefully non-descript metal case between them. “Not as such, no,” he allowed.
“Get some convincing test results ready. There’ll be a lot of scrutiny once you accuse Cain of being a Cylon.”
Before Baltar could reply, his phone rang. He licked his lips and picked it up. “Hello,” he said warily. After a moment, he said, “I’ll be right there.”
“I have to go,” Gina said. “My ship leaves in nine minutes. Do your part, and we’ll be together soon.”
“How can I play my part, when it means betraying my people, and aiding in the destruction of the human race?”
“Gaius,” she smiled, with that lilt that pierced his heart whenever he heard it, “all I’m asking you to do is tell a white lie about someone you don’t even like so that we can be together. Is that really such a big step?” And with that, she strode out the hatch and was gone. Baltar stared at the sample in his hand, and snarled, “No.”
Royan Jahee stood in the open space of his cell in the Pegasus brig, staring defiantly at the two admirals entering the room.
Adama spoke first. “People are dead.”
“I grieve for them, Admiral,” Jahee replied stiffly. “And I assure you, the tylium ship's just a taste of what's in store, unless someone starts listening!”
Adama sprang forward, seized Jahee by the throat and squeezed. While Jahee struggled ineffectually, Adama spoke very clearly: “You listen and you listen well. I don't care if I have to interrogate every civilian on board this fleet. This is gonna stop. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Jahee gasped. Adama released him. Cain, who had been watching calmly from the doorway, then added: “You knew the tylium refinery had been hit before we told you.”
Jahee looked at her, but said nothing.
“If you knew that, then you are more than a spokesperson for a cause; you are a leader in an organization.”
“Your organization just conducted a terrorist strike on an essential military asset,” she continued, her inflection never changing. “In so doing, you jeopardized the safety of this fleet and everyone in it. Moreover, you have given aid and comfort to our enemies in a time of war. That’s treason. The penalty for that is death.”
“What you call treason I call sanity! Explain to me, admiral, how our current course of attack and retreat leads to victory?”
“Explain to me,” Cain sneered, “how you expect to negotiate successfully with an enemy that has already murdered over 20 billion other humans? Negotiations require give and take. What do you have to give them? In abandoning the fight, Roslin has already given them our homes, our cities, our beaches, our forests, our oceans—twelve whole planets, and left behind the remains of all the people who lived on them. What else is left for us to give?”
Jahee licked his lips and glanced at Adama, who had withdrawn next to the doorway and was watching both him and Cain with frank interest. “We created them only to enslave them. We can’t expect to make any progress until we convince them we can be trusted to coexist peacefully with them.”
Cain shook her head. “Or they could simply kill the rest of us and never have to worry about whether or not they can trust us. So what else do you have to offer them?”
Jahee sputtered: “Military victory is impossible. Peace may seem impossible, but it’s the only hope we have.”
“You’re an idiot, Jahee. As soon as we’ve rolled up your organization, as soon as I’m sure we don’t have any further use for you, I’m going to come in here and execute you myself for what you did today.”
With that, Cain turned and left the cell. Adama followed without a word, his face blank.
“What is it this time? More helpful advice that ends with me eating a gun?”
Shocked, Baltar blurted: “That wasn’t you.”
“It might as well have been. I remember it. I remember the other
Baltar licked his lips, then replied: “Sometimes we say things we don’t fully understand. Sometimes…” he paused and cocked his head as though searching for words, or perhaps listening. “…sometimes, God puts the right words in our mouths.”
“Don’t talk like you understand our god,” she chided.
“I don’t.” Again he paused. “But I do know that he can work mysteriously.”
“I want to help you, Sharon. I want to help your baby.”
“We don’t need your help.”
“Yes, you do. President Roslin is on her death bed, and a few hours ago she ordered Admiral Adama to have your pregnancy terminated.”
After a few minutes, she came back and picked up the handset. In voice half-drowned in tears, she said: “I don't understand, why are they doing this now?”
“I don't know,” Baltar said bitterly. “Dr. Cottle doesn’t understand the results from the blood tests. For reasons best known to herself, President Roslin has decided that constitutes a threat to the fleet.”
“It can't just be that,” she cried. “I've done nothing but help you since I've come here. I've held back my anger. I've tried to show you that Cylons are not all the same—that we're not all murderers.”
“I know that,
“Do they?” she sneered. “They want to fear something? Yeah?” She dropped the phone and began yelling loudly enough that Baltar could still hear every word. “Just let them come! Let 'em! Let them try to take my baby!” Then she lowered her head and charged head first into the reinforced glass of her cell. “Ahhh!” she cried, as she backed up to do it again. The marine guards rushed into position by the door of her cell. “Just let them try to take my baby!” she screamed, and smashed her head against the reinforced glass window of her cell.
The marines, weapons drawn and in formation for forced entry, began to open the door.
Beside himself, Baltar pressed his left hand against the glass. “
She stopped, picked up the phone. “Why?” she snapped, as the marines circled her.
“Because…”Baltar began, and stopped. “Because, if there is ever to be any hope of living in peace with the Cylons, the killing has to stop. Why not here? Why not now, with the life of an unborn child?”
“It is neutralized, sergeant. I have the situation under control.”
“It’s Mr. Vice-President, thank you! And, in few days, just Mr. President. Look, if the evidence of your own senses isn’t enough for you, if my scientific expertise isn’t enough to convince you, just remember that when I’m president, I’m going to have to make some very tough decisions, and I can’t be buggered about explaining them to every soldier in the fleet! Now get out of that cell!”
The sergeant blinked, nodded to his squad, and then all the marines backed out of the cell, and dogged the hatch behind them.
Before she could hang up, Baltar exclaimed: “
“I can’t think of anything. I don’t even know what sort of intelligence might be of sufficient tactical value to be worth my child’s life!”
Baltar gaped at her a moment, and then said, with very precise diction: “
In a softer tone,
“Well, given the number of unborn children who died in the Attack, I don’t think that moral suasion is the best tactic for us. Roslin isn’t making this decision out of hatred or anger, but out of fear. She’s afraid that your child will put the fleet in greater danger once it’s born, so she wants to kill it before that happens. We have to counter that fear, either show her that it’s baseless, or else counter-balance it with some tangible benefit.”
“Roslin made her decision after Dr. Cottle reported that he’d found anomalies he couldn’t explain in the fetal blood work. I hadn’t noticed anything conclusive, but I have done some further analysis. Perhaps you can confirm some of my hypotheses.”
“I’ll try, but I don’t have a lot of technical medical knowledge,”
“Fine. To begin with, it seems that your baby has absolutely no blood type at all. I mean it doesn’t even register as type O negative.”
“Yes. Our blood is completely inter-compatible with other Cylons and with humans, also vice-versa. Not only can we give blood to any of you, we can receive it, too.”
“What if you were to receive blood from someone with a blood-born pathogen?”
“It wouldn’t matter. God has blessed us with freedom from disease.”
“I don’t understand,” said Baltar doubtfully.
“We don’t get sick,” she enunciated. Then she smiled. “Even when exposed to human illnesses, we don’t get sick ourselves.”
“Really? What about vitamin deficiencies or genetic disorders?”
“We can be malnourished, or poisoned, just like a human,” she shrugged, “but we don’t otherwise fall ill. An autoimmune disorder or diabetes is still a disease, and our bodies just don’t develop them. I don’t know how it works, but I know it does.”
“So, you, none of you, get cancer?”
“My god,” said Baltar, his eyes widening. “Could it really be that simple?”
“What?” she said, in a much harsher tone.
“Cancer develops when cellular replication continues unchecked due to damaged DNA. Normally, cells with that sort of damage destroy themselves through a process called apoptosis. Cancerous cells thus not only need to keep multiplying without pause, the mechanism for triggering the apoptotic process must be disabled, as well. If what you tell me is true, Cylon blood must have what one might call a dedicated sub-routine designed to prevent that from happening.”
“Are you saying that you can use my baby’s blood to cure the President?”
“It’s possible,” he nodded. “There are four distinct points in the apoptotic sequence where cancer cells typically can go wrong. I don’t know which of them it is in Roslin’s case, but if I inject the fetus with cancer cells from the President, your child’s immune system will presumably learn to correct those errors. I can then inject fetal blood directly into the President’s tumors, where it may well act as an inoculant, teaching her body how to recognize and fight off the cancer.”
“If I agree to this, how do I know that Roslin won’t kill my child anyway?”
“Because I’ll be convincing her that your baby is too valuable to kill. Having miraculously cured her, she can hardly gainsay me.”
“And once Roslin goes, do you really think Admiral Cain will treat you any better?”
“You have to save Helo and
“Ah, Helo and
“What are you talking about?”
“Nothing. It’s just that I’m rather making a habit of saving that man’s life.”
“Well, Helo saved yours, so save them both, and call it even.”
Baltar looked blank for a moment. Then he jerked abruptly, looked to his left for a moment, and then said hurriedly: “yes, of course, he gave up his seat for me. I’m sorry, I somehow hadn’t made the connection that that man was the father of your child.”
“Don’t let it trouble you, doctor,” she jeered. “You’re only human.” Then she hung up.
End of Part 4
Continue to Part 5, the conclusion