Author: Chris Taylor
Word Count: 14,079
Characters: Boomer, Tyrol , Cally, Tigh, Kara, Racetrack
Date Posted: 10/6/06
Story Timeline: Shortly after the end of Season 2
Disclaimer: Neither BSG nor the characters are mine and I make no money from this.
Warning: made AU by 3 rd Season developments
With brisk, purposeful strides and a clipboard in her hand Sharon strode down a worn dirt street of New Caprica. Raiders screamed through the atmosphere overhead as humans scurried to their tents and Centurion squads began taking up positions at strategic intersections in the primitive town. The air was filled with smells of cooking fires, raw sewage, and human beings crammed in close proximity. Sharon wondered how long it would take her to get used to the odor. She pulled her coat tighter against the chilly, thin air and turned down a side street. As she walked she dodged mud puddles and counted tents until she arrived at one with the name " Tyrol " stenciled on the side with white capital letters.
Sharon ran her left hand quickly through her hair, took a deep breath, then picked up a crude bell from a hook on the tentpole and rang it vigorously.
"Yes, I'm..." Chief Tyrol's voice boomed from inside. He pulled back the tent flap and stopped in mid-sentence when he saw Sharon standing outside. " Sharon ?" he asked quietly after a second's pause, while stepping out of his tent towards her.
"Yes, Chief." She replied smiling.
"Honey, is that the Colonel?" Cally said as she pulled back the tent flap and stepped out into the sunshine. The load roar of a Heavy Raider flying low overhead drowned out all other sounds as Sharon , Chief Tyrol, and Cally looked back and forth at each other. "... the frak is that Cylon doing here?" Cally exclaimed.
"It's Boomer," Chief Tyrol said, as Cally and Sharon stared at each other.
"No frakin' kidding," Cally replied harshly, as she shielded her swollen belly with her hands. "Go back to your fellow toasters," Cally exclaimed, "There's nothing for you here."
"This isn't a personal visit," Sharon responded, "I need the Chief's help."
"We're not helping you, traitor." Cally spat.
"I'm sorry," Chief Tyrol replied frowning as he pushed Cally gently into the tent. "I'm sorry, please go," he repeated as he turned away to step back inside.
"I'm afraid you don't have much of a choice, Chief." Sharon said unemotionally, as she held out the clipboard to her former lover. "You need to look at this."
Chief Tyrol hesitated, then took the clipboard from her hand.
"This is a list of equipment and supplies we have available for humanitarian and development work here on New Caprica." Sharon explained, "Based on my cursory examination I would have expected that sanitation and housing are urgent needs, but the items highlighted in blue are the ones that President Baltar has requested we give priority to bringing down.
"An armored presidential groundcar?" Chief Tyrol asked as he flipped through the pages. "A hot-tub?"
"I'm sure you can imagine why I'm not inclined to trust Baltar," Sharon said plainly. As Tyrol nodded silently she continued, "and this list just proves that he is completely out of touch with reality here. Our engineering units should have a large enough landing zone cleared to start bringing down medium transports in less than two hours, but I need a real priority list of New Caprica's needs to decide what items should be shipped down first. I heard that you were elected the head of the technical union, so I thought you would know better than anyone else what your people need."
Chief Tyrol stopped flipping though the clipboard for a few seconds and looked into Sharon 's eyes. Sharon stared back, but betrayed no sign of emotion. "Do you have a field hospital we could have?" Chief Tyrol asked.
"Yes, of course." Sharon replied.
"Why don't you come inside," Tyrol said as he stepped to the side and held the tent flap open.
When they got inside Cally grabbed Chief Tyrol's arm and pulled him aside, "What are you doing?" she asked.
"I think Boomer wants to help," Tyrol answered. "It will be alright." he said and then kissed Cally lightly. "Trust me on this, sweetie."
Cally looked at Sharon, who stood just inside the tent watching them with a blank, disinterested expression. "Fine." Cally said curtly. "I'll get some drinks for our guest," and then headed towards the other end of the tent.
By the time Cally returned Chief Tyrol and Sharon were having an animated conversation while filling in a crudely drawn sketch of New Caprica's outline and major features. "It looks like the long lead items are going to be the power and water purification equipment, so those parts need to come down first." Tyrol was saying.
"Here is a little of our special reserve," Cally said, handing Sharon a small open jar filled with a clear, potent liquid. She handed another to Tyrol , then raised a glass of brightly colored juice. "None for me though, of course," Cally stated with emphasis as she patted her swollen belly and carefully eyed Sharon 's reaction.
Tyrol flashed a quick frown at his wife, but Sharon did not give any indication of feelings as she nodded and replied "Oh yes, I see you two are breeding now." Sharon then turned to Tyrol again and added "I'll find out from Doc Cottle where he wants his new facility and get our engineering unit to lay a slab for it while your men get the utilities set up. That way we'll be ready to erect the building immediately after it arrives."
"Godsdamnit, Chief! They're all over the place. Where have you..." Col. Tigh's voice boomed as he and Kara Thrace stormed into the tent.
"Colonel." Chief Tyrol and Sharon said in unison, as Sharon stood and snapped a quick salute.
Tigh's hand went reflexively to his temple, but then he immediately repeated "Godsdamnit! What is this thing doing here?"
"This is my home," Chief Tyrol started, but Sharon interrupted him.
"That's okay, Chief," she said as she picked up her clipboard. "I'm sure your new guests are anxious to plan some trouble, and it would be rude of me to stay and eavesdrop." As she walked past Kara, Sharon handed her the clipboard and broke the uncomfortable silence. "After you've decided what you're going to blow up, perhaps you all can find some time to think about what we're going to need to make this mudhole into a decent place to live."
After Sharon had exited, Tigh stuck his head outside the tent to make certain that she was leaving. "What was she here about?" he asked after Sharon was out of earshot.
"She brought us the Cylon cargo manifest," Tyrol responded. "She wanted to know what items we needed."
As Tigh, Tyrol , and Cally debated whether Sharon 's offer was genuine or just an attempt to gather information, Kara stood quietly to the side and flipped through the pages on the clipboard. "Oh Gods," Kara said suddenly. "Where was Sharon going?"
"I think she was going to see Doc Cottle next." Tyrol answered. "Why?"
"I've got to find her," Kara answered as she tore one of the pages from the clipboard. She then bolted out of the tent without further explanation.
Kara ran down the length of the main residential street in the direction of Doc Cottle's tent, looking up and down the side streets as she went. Finally she spotted Sharon , outside the edge of town and walking briskly across an open field towards the nearby woods.
" Sharon !" Kara called out, but Sharon entered the woods without turning around. Kara pushed her way through the chaotic crowd to the end of the street. She paused for a moment as a squad of Cylon Centurions walked passed without giving her any attention. After the Centurions turned a corner to head into town, Kara sprinted across the open field, up a gentle hillside, and into the woods where Sharon had gone.
As Kara pushed into the woods, the trees muffled the noise from the nearby town and soon all that she could hear was the periodic scream of a Raider engine overhead and the constant wind through the treetops that sounded disturbingly like voices whispering in the distance all around her. A shiver went down Kara's spine and she reached behind her to pull her old service pistol from the holster at the small of her back. She walked slowly through the woods in the direction Sharon had been going, searched the ground for obvious signs of Sharon 's passage, and tried in vain to recall something of the basics of tracking that she was supposed to have learned during her Colonial escape and evasion training. Kara soon became aware of a new sound besides the pine boughs and the Cylon engines. She turned off her path and followed it to its source, where she discovered Sharon sitting on the forest floor and sobbing uncontrollably.
Kara quietly slipped her pistol's safety off. " Sharon , are you alright?" she called out as she approached.
"Go away, Kara" Sharon replied as she turned to hide her face. "Leave me alone... You shouldn't be here." She added while trying to regain her composure.
"I can't do that, Sharon ."
Sharon looked up to see Kara standing beside her with a pistol in hand. "Did you come to kill me?" She asked. "To get back at me for shooting The Old Man?"
"No." Kara answered, but before she could say anything else Sharon 's hand lashed out inhumanly fast to grab the pistol's slide and twist it out of Kara's grip.
Kara stood carefully still as Sharon turned the gun over in her hand and stared down the barrel. "It won't work," Sharon said. "I'd just wake up back in the resurrection vat."
" Sharon , I think you should give me the gun back." Kara said slowly.
Sharon did not look up, she just stoked the side of the slide with her thumb as she stared into the barrel. "I don't understand," She said quietly. "He said he loved me. How could he be with her if he loved me? She shot me, and now..."
"Boomer!" Kara yelled, "Snap out of it, soldier."
Sharon looked up and blinked her eyes. "I'm sorry, Starbuck." She said as she lowered the gun to her lap. "I just wasn't... I... You're right. I'm sorry." She took a deep breath and then swallowed hard. "Please don't tell them." she said, pleading with Kara. "Please don't tell them you saw me like this. I... I don't want them to know I'm..."
"I won't tell anyone. It will be our secret." Kara assured her as she sat down across from Sharon . "Now, I think you need to give me my gun back."
"I didn't want to shoot him," Sharon said as she handed the pistol back butt first. "I wasn't going to do anything."
"I know." Kara said as she put the pistol on 'safe' and slipped it behind her back. " Sharon , I need to ask you for a favor."
"Sure," Sharon replied while wiping her hand across her tear-stained cheeks, "anything. You know that."
Kara pulled a folded sheet of paper from her coat pocket and pointed to one of the items on a long list of cargo. "Antibiotics," Kara said. "I have to get some of these antibiotics right away."
"The first transport should be landing in about an hour. There are half a dozen medkits onboard. I can grab a bottle of antibiotics from one of them and bring it straight to you. Will that be soon enough?"
"Yes." Kara said smiling as she reached out and squeezed Sharon 's hand. "Thank you, yes."
"Who's sick?" Sharon asked.
Kara studied Sharon 's face for a few seconds before answering, "My husband."
"Oh. My. God." Sharon exclaimed, "Starbuck... The Starbuck... is married?! Who is he? Please, tell me it isn't Lee."
"No, it isn't Lee." Kara assured her. "You will never guess who it is."
For the first time since Kara had seen her again, Sharon smiled. "He'd have to be handsome."
"He'd have to be athletic, and a notorious party animal..." Kara nodded as Sharon continued, "... but still a complete loser."
"Hey, careful now." Kara warned.
"Who was the over-rated forward that the C-bucks traded two prime draft picks for a couple of years ago that cost us the championship because he couldn't stop fouling?" Sharon said as she rubbed her chin. "He's exactly the sort I imagine you winding up with."
"Anders. Yes, that's him." Kara said frowning. "How did you know? We are completely infiltrated by Cylon agents, aren't we?" Kara asked.
"That's not it at all, Kara," Sharon responded. "I met him back on Caprica. Do you remember that beautiful apartment I had?"
"The split level one? Yeah, I can't believe that was rent-controlled. What does that have to do with him?"
"Your foul-happy husband blew it up. My wardrobe, my record collection, all my photographs and mementos. I got trapped in the parking garage with him after the cave-in."
"That was you? He told me he met another one of the Sharon Cylons, but I just thought it was the same model. Or do you somehow share..." Kara motioned at her head as she paused to search for the right word.
"Nooo." Sharon said as she made a face that crinkled her forehead. "I'm an individual the same as everybody else. That was me in the flesh."
"I'm sorry about your apartment." Kara offered.
"Don't worry about it," Sharon said quietly as she looked down at the forest floor, "The other Cylons took a lot more than that from me... I managed to forgive them. One more building is nothing." Sharon looked up at Kara again and added with a wry smile, "But when you give him the antibiotics, tell Mr. Thrace that I expect him to repay me the hundred cubits I lost betting on that championship game."
"I'll tell him," Kara said. "Thanks again for helping me get some."
"That's what friends are for." Sharon replied. "I really feel like I should be the one thanking you."
"Why?" Kara asked.
"For this." Sharon answered. "For... just talking. Remembering. Not... being all weird." She looked away for a moment and wiped her eyes. "That means a lot to me right now. I really needed this after... you know."
"I know." Kara answered, and then she looked away and was silent for several seconds. She turned back to face Sharon and added quietly, "That's what friends are for."
Sharon nodded and smiled. "We should be getting back to town," she announced. "I have to find Doc Cottle and see where he wants his new hospital before the transports start coming in." Sharon stood and offered a hand to help Kara up. "I never expected you would be the one to get married first. Is Margaret..."
"No, she's still on the prowl." Kara answered as the pair began walking.
"I don't guess she'd want to going out carousing like old times though."
"No," Kara confirmed, "but there isn't much nightlife in New Caprica anyway."
"With Starbuck married, I would have guessed that. Maybe I can do something about that once the basic infrastructure around here is running." Sharon offered.
" Sharon ," Kara said, "You can't just... We aren't going to just roll over and give in to Cylon tyranny because you build us a new hospital and a disco. You know that. The Old Man said you were the one who convinced them to call off the occupation of the Colonies. Can't you get them to leave here, too? Talk to them or..." Kara gestured towards her head again as she spoke, "... what ever it is you do. Can't you make them understand? You know this can't end well if they stay."
"Maybe I could do that, if it's what you really want."
"You want us to just pack up and leave right now? Just fly away and leave you here alone?" Sharon asked.
"Before you've gotten your antibiotics?" Sharon added.
Kara stared at the ground as the pair walked in silence for several seconds. "No." Kara finally said quietly.
"So we give you the antibiotics and then we leave?" Sharon asked. "But don't you think Doc Cottle, and a lot of other sick people, are going to want us to stay a little longer to offload that field hospital? The Chief says he's running out of equipment to cannibalize to keep the basic utilities running. I bet he's going to want us to stay long enough to set up a way for him to manufacture replacement parts. What was it like getting through the winter in those tents?"
"We managed." Kara said
"Did anybody freeze to death?" Sharon asked.
Kara did not answer.
"We have a whole cargo bay full of modularized housing. I think a lot of people are going to want us to stay long enough to set those up for them, don't you?"
Kara bit her lower lip and looked at Sharon with a worried expression.
"Kara, we didn't bring any tyranny with us. We just brought antibiotics," Sharon assured her, "If there's any tyranny here then it is one you built for yourselves."
"Maybe," Kara answered, "Maybe you're right. But it doesn't matter. This still isn't going to end well."
"It doesn't have to turn out bad," Sharon said, "As long as people don't do anything stupid, this could be a great thing for both our races." After a second of silence Sharon frowned and asked "You're going to do something stupid, aren't you?"
"You aren't the only one who is a prisoner to your nature, Sharon ." Kara replied as they reached the edge of the open field between the woods and the developed area of New Caprica.
"Do you want us to split up, so people won't think you're collaborating with a Cylon?" Sharon asked.
"I haven't cared what anybody else thought before," Kara said with a grin. "What makes you think I'd start now?"
"I don't know what I was thinking." Sharon answered as they stepped out of the shade and into the bright sunlight. "So where do you want me to bring the antibiotics?"
"Our tent is on the third street north of the market, right in the middle."
"So is it The Thraces' or The Anders'?"
"Neither," Kara answered. "It's The Starbucks'.'"
Sharon stopped walking and began giggling. "So I just ask where The Starbucks' is?" she said between laughs.
"What's so funny about that?"
"It's a coffeehouse chain!" Sharon replied with a wide smile. "On the Cylon Homeworld..." She explained. "There's, like, one on every city block. Frak, if we don't hurry there's likely to be one in New Caprica by the time we get back."
"Seriously? There's a coffeehouse chain named after me on the Cylon Homeworld?" Kara asked.
"No. I don't think they named it after you." Sharon answered. "But you should get a franchise for one. That would be too cool. Oh... they have these espresso brownie deserts that are just to die for."
Sharon made her way cautiously up the steep, wooded incline. She reached the top and descended again a few meters until the terrain leveled out to a broad ridge running at least 10 meters above an outside turn in the river. Even though she was still less than a mile from the outskirts of New Caprica, all traces of civilization were hidden by the hillside behind her. The vantage point of the ridge gave her a beautiful view of the river running beneath and the evergreen wilderness stretching beyond the other side. She looked around for a place to sit, and discovered Saul Tigh already sitting on the trunk of a nearby fallen tree and frowning at her.
"Colonel!" Sharon exclaimed in surprise. "I'm sorry, I didn't expect you to be here."
"What the frak are you doing up here?" Tigh asked her.
"The same thing you are, I guess." Sharon answered, looking at the metal cup in his hand and the empty glass jar beside him.
"Really? What did Ellen do to piss you off?"
"No, no," Sharon replied, "I mean..." She reached into her pack and pulled out a pair of glass jars filled with clear liquid. "... I was looking for someplace I could be alone. On the topo map this looked like a nice spot."
"It is," Tigh said, "Best thinking spot in the whole river valley." He looked at the jars in Sharon 's hand and back to his own cup, then exhaled loudly. "Hell, I guess I can share it… but there are three conditions." He motioned for Sharon to have a seat on the log and continued, "First, the drinks are on you. Second, do not ask, mention, or even think about my wife. Third, stop calling me 'colonel.' I'm retired."
"Sorry, sir." Sharon replied as she walked over to the downed tree trunk. "Old habits die hard."
"I know what you mean," Tigh said with a distant look in his eye. "And another thing don't..." He stopped in mid-sentence and cautiously eyed Sharon as she sat down next to him. "...no, on second thought I think it would be best if you keep on calling me 'sir.'" Then he added, "Is that some of Chief Tyrol's brew?"
"Yes sir," she said as she sat one of the jars down on the log beside her and examined the other in her hand. "He wasn't home, so I got them from Cally. I offered to buy them, but the bitch wouldn't take anything in trade. She 'felt sorry for me being all alone.'" Sharon said with an angry frown as she mocked Cally's voice and twisted the top off the jar. She stared into the jar and continued talking, "For all I know she gave me wood alcohol and I'll wake up tomorrow in a resurrection vat. I don't care. Either way I'll have one night that I won't have to remember him... or her... or me.... or..."
Tigh eyed the jar in Sharon 's hand suspiciously. "You may not care what you're drinking, but I certainly do," he interjected. "Didn't you test it?"
"What do you mean?" Sharon asked.
"Damn rooks, don't know anything..." Tigh muttered. "Give me that."
He took the jar and lid from Sharon 's hands and then poured a small amount of the liquor into the upturned lid. He gently set the jar down on the ground and produced a small silver lighter from his coat pocket. He set fire to the liquid in the jar lid, and held it close to examine the flame. "Yeah, that's good stuff," Tigh decreed. He then held the lid up for Sharon to examine. "You see that color?"
"That's what you want. Don't take any that doesn't burn clean."
"Yes, sir," Sharon said as she bent down to pick up the jar from the ground and brought it up to her lips.
"Belay that." Tigh said sharply.
"Didn't you bring a cup?" he asked.
"No." Sharon said as she looked back at the jar in her hand. "I was just going to drink straight from the jar."
"Fill me up from that first," Tigh said as he held out his empty cup. "I guess you'll have to use that jar this time, but if you're going to keep coming up here you'll have to get your own cup. Nobody likes drinking backwash."
"I'll remember," Sharon promised as she poured the moonshine. "I didn't expect to be sharing with anyone else."
"Neither did I, but you've got to be prepared." Tigh said. Both he and Sharon drank in uncomfortable silence for a minute. Finally Tigh commented, "It's been a tough week, hasn't it?"
"Yeah," Sharon said, staring into the distance. "I expected it would be. It turns out it's the little things that are the hardest. The looks my old friends give me when they meet me on the street. Mothers gathering up their children when they see me coming, like they're afraid I'd pull their babies heads off or something. Watching Tyrol and Cally walk around the market hand-in-hand... happy... starting a family. That was supposed to be me. How he could have loved me and now be with my murderer? I knew we might not have a future, but now I don't even know if our past was real... or if I was just..." Sharon paused as she searched for the right words and turned to look at Tigh.
Tigh was staring back at her with a disinterested frown. "I was talking about the invasion." He said simply. "What made you think I'd care about that other crap?"
"I, just..." Tigh watched as Sharon took a deep drink from the jar and then continued, "Well, actually the jump in-system went much better than I'd feared."
"For you, I'm sure," Tigh said between sips. "You lost more forces in that hanger accident than you did taking the whole planet."
"We didn't 'take' the planet from anybody." Sharon said. She took a drink from her jar, looked at Tigh, then added, "And I don't think that tylium fire was an accident."
"Really? What else could it have been?" Tigh asked with no trace of emotion. He brought his cup up to his lips for another drink.
"I think somebody siphoned out some of the tylium for use in making improvised munitions and then set the fire to cover their tracks. I figure it would take about four people." Sharon explained as she began ticking off her fingers as she went. "Somebody who has experience sneaking in and out of Cylon facilities. Somebody who knows their way around Cylon fighters. A couple of shooters in case things went bad and to help carry out the tylium. Maybe they had as many as five people, but not much more than that. There would be more risk of exposure if too many people knew. They ought to have been able to get out with 40 or 50 gallons; that'll make a lot of explosives." She took another sip from the jar and looked at Tigh as she finished. "Of course they'd have to be disciplined and well trained... probably ex-military."
"Sounds farfetched to me," Tigh said. "But, I suppose you're the leading expert on sabotage around here."
"Yeah, I guess I am." Sharon admitted, and took another long drink.
"What did our illustrious leader say when you told him this?" Tigh asked.
Sharon shook her head. "I haven't shared my theory with President Baltar yet." She said. "His mind is... preoccupied with a lot of things. I don't have any proof, and treason is a dangerous accusation to be throwing around right now. I'd hate to instigate something unfortunate because I told the President I had a bad feeling about a little hanger fire. I figure there's no sense doing anything stupid that will get people killed until you know what's really going on."
Tigh turned to examine Sharon carefully again as she sat sipping from her jar of moonshine. "Yeah, that was probably the right call," he admitted as he looked away.
After another couple of minutes of quiet drinking Sharon interrupted the silence to ask, "Do you remember Boxey, that kid I pulled off of Caprica the day the Colonies were invaded?"
"No." Tigh said. "Oh, wait... was he that smart mouthed little boy that you and Tyrol taught to play Full Colors?"
"Yeah, that's him," Sharon said. "I was going over the new census results yesterday and I didn't see his name on it anywhere. I know a bunch of people jumped out with Galactica and Pegasus when we showed up," Sharon looked at Tigh with a worried expression, "I thought maybe you would know if he left with them or..." Sharon 's voice trailed off without finishing her question.
Tigh looked at the river and said "Cholera." He looked back at Sharon , whose expression was a mixture of shock and confusion.
"Cholera?! Nobody dies of cholera anymore. How? When?"
"We transferred him to the freighter Gemini shortly after Kobol." Tigh reported. "Foster parents or something like that. Those freighters weren't meant to house that many people. The Gemini's water recycling system was just patched together, and nobody was maintaining it properly. It burned through the whole ship within just a couple of days. We quarantined her; did what we could. There just weren't enough doctors to go around. It took about a quarter of the people onboard. I think the pilots and some of the deck crew held a service for him."
"Oh, God." Sharon whispered. Tigh winced slightly when she used the Cylon singular word. She brought the cup to her lips and drank the rest of the jar in one long draught. She wiped one of her eyes with the back of her hand and stared into the empty glass bottom. "Did he... Was it..." Sharon stumbled over her words. "Do you know if anyone was with him at the end?"
Tigh shook his head. "I don't know," he admitted. He picked up the next jar and twisted the cap off. He poured some if it into Sharon 's before refilling his own cup. "I didn't have time to ask about the details." Tigh said as he stared off at the horizon and began drinking again. "There was an explosion on the Majahual I had to deal with." The pair descended into silence once more until it came time for Tigh to reach for the jar. "Do you have any more, or is this it?"
"No, I've got another," Sharon said as she rummaged clumsily in her pack to get a third jar.
"You know Chief Tyrol's a real stand-up guy," Tigh said as he poured out the last of the liquor from the second jar. "Career Navy, I know the type. He wasn't one of those spoiled Academy cadets, either. He started at the bottom and earned his stripes the hard way. Had a lot of time in-grade." Tigh looked into Sharon 's eyes as he concluded. "You'd have to be some kind of stupid to think he'd risk all that for just a little piece of ass in the tool room."
"I understand." Sharon said, "But I still don't see how he could be with Cally after..."
"I don't think he blamed Cally for what happened."
Sharon swallowed some of the liquor and said. "Yeah, everybody blames me. I guess I understand that. I let everybody down."
"No," Tigh said as he paused to take a sip from his cup. "I don't think he blamed you either." He waited until Sharon brought the jar to her lips and added. "I think he blamed himself."
Sharon tilted her head back and took a long drink before asking, "Why would he do that? I'm the lying machine. How could it have been the Chief's fault?"
Tigh opened the third jar of liquor and topped off Sharon 's jar before pouring a little in his own cup. "Maybe he thought he should have known what you were. Maybe he thought he should have fixed it somehow."
"But there isn't anything he could have done," Sharon said before she took another swig of alcohol. "I'll always be a Cylon... It's not like a bad habit or some kind of political statement. What did he think he could have done differently?"
"I don't know," Tigh said. "All I know is that he almost worked himself to death after you were killed. It was like he was trying to punish himself for something." Tigh paused to take another drink. "The only person who got it worse was the Old Man. I don't know which took longer for him to recover from: the two bullets in his gut, or the fact that it was you who pulled the trigger."
Sharon drank deeply from her jar again and then looked down at her feet. "I know. I hate what happened. I wanted so much to make him proud of me." She looked Tigh in the eye and added, "Please believe me. I didn't want to shoot him. I'd have given my life to stop it. I tried to. After I began to suspect what I was. I tried to kill myself to stop me from hurting anyone else. I just wasn't strong enough to do it right."
"The Old Man suspected later that was what your pistol 'accident' was about. I wasn't sure. I've known a lot of Cylons. Seen them fight to the death. Killed some of them at close range, and they kept coming with every ounce of strength they had left. I saw a group of them in the first Cylon war... they had no chance... outnumbered... outgunned... they fought to the last machine. I just thought they were ignorant toasters at the time, but now..." Tigh held his cup up in the pantomime of a toast and said, "As much as I hate 'em, I've got to admit they were courageous," before taking a drink. Then he looked to Sharon and said, "You... You're the first Cylon I've ever met that's a coward."
"A coward?" Sharon asked in shock. "I volunteered for a suicide mission to blow up a frakin' basestar."
"That's right," Tigh said. "A suicide mission. You wanted the easy way out. When your true nature started to hurt the people around you, you suddenly wanted to quit the game. Give up. That way you didn't have to choose sides, to fight, to risk failure and live with the consequences. You just wanted to close your eyes and make it go away... let everyone else clean it up without you." Tigh looked hard into Sharon 's eyes and concluded "Things got a little tough and you wanted to punch out. But you didn't even have the fight in you to do that right."
"A *little* tough?" Sharon replied incredulously. "A little tough?" The thin layer of liquor remaining in her jar danced as her hands shook with emotion. "You have no fraking idea what I was going though. You can't imagine what it's like to have a weakness like that inside of you... that can take control of you... that endangers your friends and shipmates. Every day living with the fear that it will sneak out and hurt the people you love. There are things it has made me do that I don't even remember, but I have to live with the results. It makes you second-guess everything. Did those marines die because I left a hatch unlocked? Would my squadron have been wiped out if it had been any other Raptor pilot with them? I wonder how many people have suffered or died because of decisions I made under its influence. It's like you're carrying around this demon that tries to destroy everything and everyone you care about, and you are the tool it uses. But I'm not just the tool... I'm the demon too. I did those things. I did them to the people I love." Sharon 's voice began to crack and she had to take a deep breath before continuing, "I hate it now, but at that moment it was what I wanted more than anything else. You can't imagine what it's like to live with that every day. It..."
"Bullshit!" Tigh exclaimed.
"What?" Sharon asked, surprised at his sudden interruption of her monologue.
"You heard me," he said. "Bullshit. What a load of self-indulgent crap."
"You fell in love and he broke your heart? Welcome to life. Get used to it. You're a poor little toaster with the weight of the worlds on your shoulders. Tough frakin' shit. You think no one else has their own problems... their own weaknesses and demons they have to fight with? If everybody else dealt with their failures by putting a pistol in their mouth then there wouldn't be enough people left man a cutter. Oh, I'll admit finding out you're a big wind-up doll instead of a real girl is certainly a new one. But you've got to do the same thing everybody else does. Suck it up and Do. Your. Fraking. Job."
"I'm not a..." Sharon tried to interrupt, but Tigh was no longer listening to what she tried to say.
"So what if you're not the right person for the job. The job has to get done anyway. That's always the way it is in The Fleet. Never enough resources. Never enough time. Never the right people in the right place. So the wrong people just have to step up to the task and do the best with what they have until the right man shows up. If you take the easy way out, then you're just making it harder on the next guy. So you've got to wake up every morning and do the job, even if you can't. And when you fail, you pick yourself up and get back to work and figure out a way to do the job again." Tigh leaned forward and held his cup in both hands. "If you can't stand the weight of it all, then you just have to find a crutch. If you can't trust yourself, then you find people you can count on to catch your mistakes. If you have time to be afraid and feel sorry for yourself, then you aren't busy enough." He looked down at the almost empty cup and added, "And if you can't get rid of your demon then you just have to learn how to live with it... let it out when it's safe... keep it away from your friends... push it away when the hour comes..." Tigh brought the cup to his lips, threw his head back to finish the remaining liquor, and turned to face Sharon again. "There's no point bitching about it to anyone, because everybody else is dealing with their own shit too. If you actually gave a frak about other people instead of being wrapped up in your own little Cylon pity party then you'd see that."
"Yes sir," Sharon responded. "I... I'm sorry, sir. I..." Sharon stopped talking and drank her jar empty, too. "I do care, sir. I just...I'll do better. No excuses, sir. I'll do better."
"Frak," Tigh said and then sighed. "I guess this is where I'm supposed to say something reassuring." Instead Tigh reached for the half-empty jar and poured himself another drink. "If the Old Man were here he'd remind you how proud he was of you."
"I'm sure he would have before… now he'd probably want to choke the life out of me."
"No," Tigh said. He brought the cup almost to his mouth and then continued, "Well, yeah actually he did for a while. But he's still proud of you. It would have taken at least dozen battlestar groups to drive the Cylons from the Colonies. You freed the Colonies by yourself."
"I had help." Sharon offered.
"It may take a generation before the radiation dies down enough for us to go back. But now we know we can. We just have to hold on that long. That's an important victory..." Tigh's voice trailed off and he took a long drink.
"Really, sir?" Sharon asked, her mood brightening.
"Really, Lieutenant." Tigh said simply as he nodded slightly.
"I guess I ha'n't thought about it like that," Sharon said, slurring her words slightly. "I've been so wrapped up in my own private hell an' I didn't stop to…"
"Hey!" Tigh shouted. "What did I say?"
"What?" Sharon asked with a confused look on her face.
Tigh leaned in close to Sharon . "Rule number three. Don't. Mention. Ellen. You know what that means?" He asked ominously.
Sharon shook her head.
"You have to skip the next round." Tigh announced with a grin, as he picked up the jar and poured half of its remaining contents into his cup.
"Pfff," Sharon snorted, trying to suppress a fit of the giggles. She scooped up the jar with the remaining alcohol in it and promptly fell backwards off the log.
"Frakin' toaster!" Tigh yelled, "Don't spill the booze!"
Sharon held up the jar for Tigh to see and announced with a grin, "I didn't spill a drop… I've got superior toaster reflexes… superior… toaster… frak me, I can't get up."
"You're in a hole, you dumb Cylon." Tigh announced as he grabbed Sharon 's hand and helped pull her upright again.
Sharon 's momentum carried her forward and she slid off the front of the log to land with a jolt on her rear end. "Ow…" Sharon said quietly, then leaned back against the log behind her and examined the jar carefully. "Not a drop," she said and took a sip.
Tigh and Sharon looked out over the river and the woodlands stretching to the horizon. "It's not what you expected to find is it?"
Sharon shook her head. "I knew you'd need supplies an' stuff. I didn't think you'd be this fraked up. I thought the Colonial government would need help, but I didn't think they'd want help hurtin' people. Who voted that slimy weasel Baltar? No wonder everything's so fraked up." After a moment of thought she added, "I s'pose I shouldn't talk about the president of the Colonies like that."
"Not at all," Tigh said, patting Sharon on the shoulder. "I hate the miserable sombitch. If you've got anything bad to say about President Baltar, you're in good company."
Sharon looked around and then motioned conspiratorially for Tigh to lean closer. "In that case," she whispered, "Have I got uh juicy secret for you…"
Lt. Margaret "Racetrack" Edmondson made her way cautiously up the steep, wooded incline. She reached the top and descended again a few meters until the terrain leveled out to a broad ridge running at least 10 meters above an outside turn in the river. Even though she was still less than a mile from the outskirts of New Caprica, all traces of civilization were hidden by the hillside behind her. The vantage point of the ridge gave her a beautiful view of the river running beneath and the evergreen wilderness stretching beyond the other side. She looked around for the resistance contact Tigh had instructed her to meet with, and discovered a number eight model cylon. The machine was standing with its back to her, holding a small stone in one hand and looking over the ridge. Racetrack's hand went to the pistol hidden in her pack.
"You're late, Colonel," the Cylon said as it turned around. It hesitated when it saw Margaret and then asked, "Maggie, what are you doing up here?"
Margaret froze. It had seen her. Even if she shot it now, it would report back to its superiors after they reanimated it.
"Maggie," The thing said in the voice of an old friend, "did the Colonel send you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Margaret responded.
"Oh, yes," the Cylon said. "The weather certainly is strange today."
"Do you think I'm stupid?" Margaret asked.
"Who did you think you were going to meet?" it replied with its own question. " Gaeta ?"
"If I met anyone, I would have expected them to be human." Maggie answered. "Not some Toaster."
"At least I'm a Colonial Toaster," the Cylon claimed. "Its me, Racetrack. I'm Boomer."
"You all look alike to me. You could be any of those Eights dressed up with a flight jacket. How would I know the difference?"
"I'd say you could ask me something only I would remember," it said, "but we both know Cylon memories can be copied so any fact that..."
"What are the last two words of the Naval Hymn?" Margaret suddenly asked.
The Cylon looked at her with a confused expression for a moment, and then grinned. "Beat Army." Sharon said.
"That's right," Margaret said, nodding.
"The weather certainly is strange today."
"It rains too much now."
"Cylons hate the rain, you know."
"Maybe the rain is not so bad after all."
Sharon tossed the small stone in her hand over the ridge and it splashed in the river below. She gestured towards a nearby log and asked "Did you bring any drinks with you?" as she walked over towards it.
"Yeah, two jars." Margaret answered as she walked over to join Sharon on the fallen tree trunk.
"Well, break them out." Sharon instructed as she reached into her jacket pocket and produced a rectangular, chrome-plated cigarette lighter. "What happened to the Colonel?"
"He pulled a muscle in his back 'rough-housing' with his wife." Margaret answered as she sat the two jars down on the log.
Sharon grimaced and said "Don't tell me the details. That's an image I don't want in my head." She opened one of the jars and carefully poured a small amount of the liquor into the upturned lid. With a flick of Sharon 's wrist the top on her lighter swung open with a peculiar sound that started with a snap but seemed to end with the faint resonance of a tuning fork. Margaret watched quietly as Sharon set the liquor on fire, then closed and pocketed the alien lighter. "Yeah, that's good stuff," Sharon decreed after examining the flame in the lid carefully.
"Did Tigh warn you to bring a cup?" Sharon asked as she reached behind the log to pick up a small metal cup and black wooden box.
"He did, actually," Margaret answered, "But I'm not going to need it. I was ordered to meet with our contact and report back, and that's what I'm going to do. Nobody ordered me to socialize with Toasters. Damned if I'll drink with one."
"Suit yourself," Sharon said as she filled her cup.
"It doesn't make any sense," Margaret said suddenly as Sharon took a drink. "You're one of the leaders of the Cylon occupation. We're the resistance to Cylon occupation. Your damn Centurions just shot up two of our people yesterday. Now you're telling me that when you get off of work you come have drinks and swap plans with the opposition? That's just..." Margaret shook her head as she searched for words to finish her sentence. "... it's fraked up."
"Why wouldn't I work with you?" Sharon asked. "We both want the same things." Margaret looked at her skeptically as Sharon continued. "We don't want anyone to get hurt. We want humanity to survive so it can return to the Colonies. We want to stop the Colonial government from sliding into tyranny, and preserve people's liberties. It makes perfect sense." Sharon stopped to take another drink. "And, for the record, I'm just the Military Advisor to the Colonial President. Also, I had made arrangements for Burrell and Kingston to get through security alright. If they hadn't gotten ambitious and strayed off-mission then I don't think they'd have been caught."
"I really thought that for these last couple of months we were risking our lives to drive the Cylons off New Caprica... I understand now why Tigh wouldn't approve of any really ambitious attacks, and why the Cylons never seemed to be able to find us. You're staging it all. We get to think that we're heroic resistance fighters, but it's all fake isn't it?"
"No," Sharon insisted, "it's not fake at all. You are resistance fighters, but things are more complicated than that." Sharon paused to take another swig of liquor. "Do you really think a handful of resistance fighters with infantry weapons and some improvised explosives could achieve a military victory against the Cylon forces here?"
"It's not likely," Margaret admitted, "but we've got to try something."
"We are," Sharon claimed. "The key terrain to win on is not in space or on New Caprica, though. It is in the minds of the key decision makers of the government. You can't blow up enough Raiders and Centurions to matter but if we can change the thinking of Baltar, his administration, and the advisors that they listen to, then we can achieve our goals without needing a military victory."
"How do you think blowing up a few tents or sniping at Centurion patrols is going to get the government to agree with us?" Margaret asked.
"They don't have to agree with our goals to do what we want," Sharon suggested. "They can do it out of a combination of secret fear for their security and a plausible excuse to let them believe their cowardice is a sign of wisdom and fairness. They can do it because we offer them a worse alternative and then let them believe they have negotiated us into compromising at what we really wanted anyway. They can do it because we blackmail or corrupt key individuals within the power structure. The secret to any of these is that there has to be some threat or punishment for the people whose minds we are fighting to influence. There has to be a "stick" to wield against them. That's what your resistance is," Sharon said before pausing to finish her drink. "But the stick is only part of the larger effort. We also need a 'carrot' of reward to lead them, and some sedative to keep them from just lashing out with their superior military force and breaking our stick or taking our carrot before we're ready to give it to them. Prominent Colonials like Brother Venner are part of the fight too. They help convince the administration that your attacks are really the fault of their own actions, and make them think that reprisals and counter attacks would be unfair and counter-productive. As a trusted member of the cabinet, I can give credibility to the idea that the resistance should be dealt with through compromise instead of military force. I can suggest that Baltar's administration do what we want, but explain it as if it were to their benefit. If they behave properly then Tigh reduces resistance activity for a little while to reward them. If the administration doesn't listen to my warnings, then Tigh arranges for some more attacks... just like I predicted would happen in the cabinet meetings."
"But the attacks are always small enough so that Baltar and the new First Lady aren't tempted to respond too harshly? That's why we never do anything ambitious?" Margaret speculated.
"Exactly." Sharon confirmed. "And if they do try to ramp up security with additional curfews and checkpoints and searches, our sympathizers in the labor unions make sure that those security measures are blamed for every supply shortage and infrastructure failure. Then I can report in the next cabinet meeting how their improved security is doing far more harm than good... just as I predicted it would." Sharon smiled as she concluded her explanation and poured herself some more of Chief Tyrol's moonshine. "In order for that to work the resistance doesn't need to defeat the Centurions, but they do have to keep key members of the government worried about the safety and security of their own comfortable, chair-bound asses."
"Gods," Margaret said as she looked out at the river. "It's not a resistance at all... Sharon, you and Tigh are running a terror campaign. We're not street fighters anymore; we're street thugs."
"Do you think you'd have better luck ending tyranny by waging open rebellion against a Cylon armored corps? Do you think you'd do a better job preserving the next generation of humanity's liberty by overthrowing the last vestiges of the Colonial government?"
"No," Margaret admitted. "With the forces we have, what you describe appears to be the better option... But I still don't like it. I guess it makes sense now that a Toaster would be involved. This is exactly the sort of devious, underhanded scheming that you Cylons are good at."
"Really?" Sharon asked, mildly surprised. "Because we pretty much stole the whole idea from the worker's rights movement on Sagittaron."
"Well..." Margaret looked away from Sharon and rubbed her forehead. "Well, what am I supposed to tell the Colonel?"
Sharon handed a black, wooden box to Margaret. "Give him this," Sharon said.
"Cigars?" Margaret asked when she opened the box to inspect it's contents.
"Burrell and Kingston are both alive and being held in the new detention facility." Sharon said, with the short, direct statements of a military briefing. "The Gunny is fine, but Kingston took a couple of bullets in the right leg and can't walk. At the bottom of the cigar box are the plans for the detention facility, a schedule for tomorrow, and a pair of EMP grenades. Tomorrow afternoon I'll go to interrogate them. I'll have most of the facility guards escorting me. I've marked a spot on the exterior wall of the detention facility. Four or five people should be able to approach that wall without setting off any alarms. At fourteen-hundred hours I'll walk down the hall to their cell and pass that spot. I want the resistance to detonate a bomb of at least ten kilograms at exactly fourteen-hundred hours at the spot I've marked. I'll make certain I'm on the other side of that wall when the bomb goes off. The blast should kill me and my security escorts instantly. A rescue team can then enter the breach and retrieve the prisoners. There will probably be an additional pair of Centurions at the entrance to the cell-block. That's what the EMP grenades are for. It will all need to be done within ten minutes or Centurion reinforcements will start showing up."
"You want us to blow you up as part of the rescue?" Margaret asked.
"Sure," Sharon answered. "I'll wake up in the resurrection vat a few hours later. Baltar has begun to fear that there is a mole in the government. Having the resistance 'murder' me so horribly will keep me above suspicion. Just make sure the bomb is big enough and goes of at exactly the right time. I want it to be over quickly enough that I don't have to suffer. I'd appreciate it if Sam or Galen handled the bombing. I know I can count on them."
"I'll tell Tigh," Margaret promised. "Is that it?"
"That's it," confirmed Sharon . "All the details are in the box under the cigars."
Margaret picked up one of the dark brown cigars from the top of the box. Examining the strange logo and unfamiliar lettering on the band she asked "Are these Cylon cigars?"
"Yep," Sharon answered, "Nobody's making Colonial ones anymore."
"Funny," Margaret said, "I didn't imagine they'd grow tobacco on the Cylon Homeworld. I wouldn't have thought there'd be anything green there."
"I know what you mean," Sharon responded. "When we left the Colonies I was so nervous about what living on the Homeworld would be like. I imagined it would be some giant factory world, or maybe the whole thing would be an organic hive like the inside of a basestar."
"Yeah, I remember the one we blew up." Margaret interjected.
"It turned out that the Homeworld is not like that at all. There are cities, some of them as big as Caprica City , but they weren't standardized at all. I think I saw more variety in architecture and culture there than on all Twelve colonies. And there are huge areas of farms and nature preserves and wilderness." Sharon looked at the river and the evergreen forest stretching to the horizon. "In fact, I could almost imagine we were back there if the air weren't so thin. That and the birds," Sharon said pointing at a pair of large-winged carrion birds circling slowly over the forest. "We had to kill off all the birds."
"Pff," Margaret exclaimed, "Us and the birds, eh. What did the birds ever do to you?"
"Carry disease, apparently. They were spreading a plague when we first arrived at the planet. It wound up wiping out all the original Cylons," Sharon said. "We killed off the birds. Did what we could to stop it." Sharon paused to take another drink. "Apparently we were too late. It had already spread across the globe by then."
Margaret looked at Sharon with a confused expression. "A bird disease killed off the original Cylons? That doesn't make any sense," she commented as she looked back and forth between the circling birds and Sharon .
"Don't get any ideas." Sharon said, frowning. "I and the other new versions were specifically engineered to be immune to such things." Sharon reached into the box and pulled out one of the cigars and a plastic cigar cutter. "Go ahead and try one," she told Margaret.
"No thanks, I don't know what you've put in there besides tobacco. I'll let Kara take her chances with them if she wants to."
"You're never going to trust me again, are you?" Sharon asked carefully trimming the end of her cigar.
"No," Margaret said. "Well, maybe if you snuck a nuke onto one of those Cylon capital ships, blew it to smithereens, and killed hundreds of Toasters, then I guess maybe I'd have to admit... oh wait... you already did that and then you frakin' shot Commander Adama right in front of me! So, no I'm never going to frakin' trust you. You are programmed to look harmless, to act loyal for years if necessary, and then betray people in the worst possible way. No matter how trustworthy you seem, no matter how convincingly you protest that you're our friend, that doesn't mean that you really are. That only means that you are a very well programmed machine. You can look at me like that all you want. I don't know what stunts you've pulled to get Kara, Sam and even Col. Tigh to trust you, but I remember what you are. You're the machine that spied on us for years before the holocaust, pretending to be my friend. You let a suicide bomber into our ship. You blew up our water supply. You've seduced Helo away from me..."
"I'm not the Cylon that seduced Helo," Sharon interrupted. "Is that what this is about?"
"No, that's not all this is about." Margaret said harshly. "This is about all of my family being dead! It's about my friends being dead! My comrades being dead, and one of the weapons that helped kill them sitting here pretending like it's on our side and trying to make me forget."
"I'm not trying to make you forget, Maggie. And I'm not a weapon, I'm a person."
"Of course you say that." Margaret answered. "I don't know, maybe somehow you even believe it. Maybe in that Toaster head of yours you really think you're still one of us. Maybe you're convinced that this time you aren't going to betray us. Maybe you didn't think that you were going to betray us before, either. None of it matters. Whether you are lying on purpose or just some deluded time-bomb waiting to go off, I am not going to forget what you're capable of. You are not my friend. You never were. And I am never going to trust you again."
Sharon looked away from Margaret and towards the river snaking out to the horizon. She pulled her strange rectangular lighter from her pocket again, snapped it open, and used its flame to heat the tip of her cigar while the pair sat in an uneasy quiet. She put the cigar to her mouth, drew in on it as she lit it, and exhaled a puff of smoke. "You're right." she finally said. "I wish I could tell you it wasn't so. I wish I could tell you that I was absolutely certain that this time I won't betray you all. I really believe I don't have any hidden programming, but I trusted myself before and..." Sharon 's voice faded off without finishing her sentence as she brought the cigar to her mouth again. After she exhaled she turned again to face Margaret. "The Colonel was right to send you, Racetrack. I need to be around people I can count on."
"Now I know there's something funny in those Cylon cigars," Margaret said, "if you think you can count on me to do anything for you."
"I can count on you to kill me." Sharon said. "I can count on you doing whatever you have to do to stop me if I become a danger again. Maybe I can't trust myself anymore, Racetrack, but I can trust you. You'll protect my friends, even if it's from me. Have you ever thought about a career in government?"
"You've got to be frakin' kidding me?" Margaret responded. "You want me to work for the occupation government?"
"Sure, I'll make you my assistant." Sharon answered. "Talk it over with Tigh and see what he thinks. That way if something happens to me the resistance will have a second mole in the government, and you'll be in the perfect location to keep track of my loyalty. You know what they say: keep your enemies close."
"Yeah," Margaret said suspiciously, "and which one of us is doing that now?"
"Hopefully, just you," Sharon answered, "but it'll be your job to make sure it stays that way."
"I'll talk it over with Tigh," Margaret said as she picked up the cigar box and stood to leave. "I have to admit, though," Margaret added as an afterthought, "if the other Toasters were going to come back anyway... I'm glad you came with them too."
"Really?" asked Sharon with an expression of pleasant surprise.
"Sure. Now maybe I'll finally get that hundred cubits you owe me." Margaret said before turning her back on Sharon and heading over the hill towards town.
Sharon looked out towards the river again, took a deep draw on her cigar and exhaled slowly. "Frakin' C-bucks," she muttered to herself as she reached for her metal cup.
With brisk, purposeful strides Sharon strode down the sidewalk along Market Street in New Caprica City . Heavily loaded transports roared overhead as work crews hurried to strip any useful fixtures from the few intact buildings remaining on New Caprica. The air was filled with smell of tyllium exhaust and a fine white concrete dust that settled into a film on every horizontal surface. Sharon marveled at how quickly the contents of New Caprica had been first built and now disassembled for use in the rebuilt transport fleet. Even fully buttoned, her dress grey coat did little to stop the frigid wind that gusted across New Caprica City 's now emptied marketplace.
Sharon carefully approached a large pit dug in the sidewalk that a work crew was hoisting a massive transformer out of. She snuck up behind the supervisor, whose attention was focused on the labor taking place in the hole below, and then asked sharply, "Why the frak isn't this thing out yet?"
"Damn it, this is delicate work..." Chief Tyrol started to say as he spun around, but then stopped in mid-sentence when he saw Sharon standing there grinning at him. "Boomer!" he exclaimed with a smile. Then he looked around and asked, "What are you doing on this side of the demarcation line unescorted?"
"Rank has its privileges," Sharon answered as she indicated the lieutenant pin on her uniform. "Well, that and Sgt. Fischer is in charge of the northern checkpoint. I'm the one that snuck his squad through security on the basestar to snatch the former President and First Lady. It wasn't too hard to convince him that I ought to be over here today."
"I'm glad you came to say goodbye in person," Tyrol said.
"How did you know I wasn't leaving with the Fleet?" Sharon asked.
Tyrol shrugged. "I just know you too well," he said. Sharon stepped close to him and wrapped her arms around him in a hug. He embraced her back. "Have a good life," he told her softly.
"You too," she replied, "and take good care of that family of yours." Instead of stepping away, though, Sharon hugged him tighter. "I'm sorry," she whispered to him. "I didn't want to make a scene... I just... I can't believe I'm never going to see you again... that I'll never know..." Sharon could not finish her sentence, and buried her face against his shoulder.
"That's okay," Tyrol assured her as he gave her a gentle squeeze in his arms. "You don't have to worry about me, Boomer, I can handle myself."
"I know," she said as she pulled away from him and wiped her cheek. "When your children are old enough to understand this," Sharon implored him, "Please don't... please tell them that I was a good person at heart."
"Don't worry about that, either," Tyrol said. "If Prosna Tyrol gets a little sister, you don't think I'd tell them bad things about her namesake do you?"
"You have got to be frakin' kidding me," Sharon said as she shook her head. "There is no way Cally will let you name a daughter of hers after me."
"A lot of people realize now that not all the Cylons are bad," Tyrol explained. "Even Cally."
"That's not what I'm talking about," Sharon replied with a grin. "I'm your frakin' ex-girlfriend! No woman... Human or Cylon... is going to let her daughter be named after her husband's old flame."
"I guess you're right," Tyrol admitted. "But I sure don't want a kid named after her beloved grandmother Eunice."
"You know," Sharon said. "I always thought the name Margaret was very pretty."
"Yeah," Tyrol said as he nodded slightly. "It is. I think Cally would go along with that, too."
Sharon pulled herself up ramrod straight and looked around authoritatively. "Everything appears to be order here, Chief," she barked. "Carry on."
"Aye, Aye, Lieutenant," he replied with a crisp salute and a smile. Sharon smiled as well, matched his salute, spun on her heel, and walked away.
Sharon spent the rest of the morning standing beside the mostly-disassembled water tower, using its bulk to shelter her from the wind. She watched as the last human residents of New Caprica loaded cargo ships with all the useful salvage they could carry and then boarded them in turn. The Colonial government was on schedule to meet its self-imposed deadline and have the last Human off of the planet before the end of the day. Sharon jumped in surprise when she heard the crunch of boots on gravel behind her and then an instant later felt the impact of a slap on her shoulder.
"Sam! Look who's here." Kara called out to her husband and motioned for him to join her and Sharon in the lee of the tower. Sam hobbled over with a cast on his left foot and a pair of crutches. "I told Sam you'd stay with the Fleet," she said to Sharon .
"I'm afraid not," Sharon replied, "I'm just over here to make my goodbyes to everyone. I'll be going back to the Homeworld with the rest of the Cylons. You'll have to look after Sam yourself."
"Yeah, I guess that's three I owe you," Sam admitted.
"Four," corrected Sharon . "I also stopped them from shelling you into oblivion on Caprica. I'm glad I got to see the two of you again before you left."
"Are you sure you don't want to go find Earth with us?" Kara prodded.
"Part of me wants to," Sharon admitted and then jerked her thumb towards the other side of the Cylon-Human demarcation line. "But if I left then everything over there would fall apart. I'm the only fraking one of 'em who does any real work, you know."
"Well, don't do anything I wouldn't do." Kara advised as she shook Sharon 's hand firmly.
"I think I can manage that," Sharon answered.
"Keep on the right side of the foul line," Sam said as he took his turn to shake Sharon 's hand.
"Look who's talking." Sharon joked. She then turned to Kara and added, "If you see Admiral Adama today, tell him I've got something for him."
"We will," Sam answered quickly as the pair started to walk away.
"Hey, wait a second," Sharon called out. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
Kara and Sam looked at each other with confused expressions.
"You still owe me 100 cubits," Sharon explained. "You weren't going to leave without paying were you?"
"I thought you were joking about that," Sam replied as he pulled out his wallet and inspected its contents. "All I have to my name is eighty cubits. What do you need cubits for anyway?"
"If eighty's all you've got, then guess I'll have to take it," Sharon said as she did.
After an awkward silence for a moment, Kara said "Well... so long, Boomer."
"Goodbye, Starbuck." Sharon called back. Then she was alone again, standing beside a stripped, rusting tower and watching the rest of the Colonials leave her behind.
It was early afternoon by the time Sharon saw Admiral Adama walking through the remnants of New Caprica City and looking around. She stepped out of the shadow of the tower and waved to get his attention.
"Admiral Adama, sir!" Sharon called out and saluted smartly as he approached.
"Lieutenant Valerii," Lee Adama replied as he returned the salute. "Kara said you weren't coming with the fleet. Is that true?"
"Yes sir," Sharon replied as she pulled an envelope out of her jacket pocket and handed it to Lee. "I'm resigning my commission."
Lee opened the envelope and quickly looked over the short letter inside. "Are you sure about this, Sharon ?" He asked. "We are very short on both pilots and experts in Cylon technology. Tigh has already recommended you for a promotion and commendation if you stay."
Sharon looked past Lee and across the open marketplace to where Chief Tyrol was busy directing the disassembly of a pumping station. "I'm sorry, sir," she answered. "I hope you find the Thirteenth Colony. I really do... but I don't think there'll be anything for me there."
Lee followed Sharon 's gaze and then nodded as he looked back into her eyes. "I understand." he said.
"Besides, I heard you had a spare Sharon anyway," Sharon joked.
"Well, yes we do," Lee admitted, "but thanks to Comander Agathon's affections I'm afraid she's off of flight status for the next nine months." Lee then dug into his pocket and pulled out a pair of gold coins. "These were in your personal effects. My father wanted you to have them back," He said as he handed the coins to Sharon .
She turned the two precious medallions over in her hand and examined them. One one face they each had the Colonial seal. On the obverse one had the seal of the Colonial Fleet Academy . The other was struck with a recreation of the Galactica's Raptor Squadron patch. Sharon squeezed the two coins tight and felt the reassuring weigh of them in her hand. "Thank you, sir," she told Lee. "I... I wish I could have told your father how much he meant to me... how sorry I was for what happened." She slipped the coins in her pocket and added, "Please tell him for me, and let him know that I hope he is acquitted."
"I have a personal promise from the President-Pro-Tem that he'll be released," Lee assured her, "but only after he has spent more time in the brig than she had to. You don't have to call me 'sir' anymore now. Just 'Lee' is fine."
"That's right! In that case, Lee," she said with a grin. "What happened to you? You didn't use to be so... big."
"Well, I'm afraid that's Dee 's fault," he answered.
"Really?" Sharon gently reached out as if to touch Lee's protruding gut. "I didn't know humans worked that way. Is it a boy or a girl?" Then she giggled as she winked mischievously at him.
"No." Lee responded with mock defensiveness as he brushed Sharon 's hand away. "It's her pies! Dee is an amazing cook." Lee smiled and claimed "Although, I am working on filling her out that way."
"Well, good luck," Sharon offered, "I'm sure you two will be great parents. There is one other thing I needed to bring up before I go. I believe the Colonial government owes me a considerable amount of back-pay. Apparently it is easier to get a presidential pardon than to convince the quartermaster that you're not really dead."
"Oh... I see how that could be a problem," Lee admitted, "If I had known I'd have... " He paused and looked at Sharon skeptically. "Is this really a problem? Do the Cylons even use cubits?"
"All I need is twenty cubits to tide me over," Sharon admitted, "If you could just spot me a twenty then..."
"No problem," Lee said as he interrupted Sharon with a wave of his hand and reached for his wallet. He pulled a crisp bill from it and handed it to Sharon . "Take care of yourself, Boomer," Lee concluded as he held out his hand to her.
"You too, Apollo," Sharon replied as she shook Lee's hand. "Good hunting."
It was late afternoon, and the sun was just hanging above the horizon when the last tents were folded and the last equipment had been loaded onto the transports. Sharon watched as one more Raptor waited for the last two Marine checkpoint guards to pull down the flag. With only two Marines there would still be passenger space available. As the Marines boarded the craft, Sharon stepped out into the sunlight and raised her hand. The door to the Raptor had closed, but she waved goodbye anyway. The Raptor lifted of vertically, and then accelerated up and forward rapidly. As it passed overhead it waggled its wings side to side before standing on its tail and lighting its afterburners with a loud roar.
Sharon stood alone in the remains of New Caprica City and watched it ascend until it vanished into the distance. The rumble of the Raptor's engines were gone and the only sound was the eerie whistling of the wind through the gutted structure of the water tower beside her. She watched the empty sky for a few more seconds, and then turned and walked across the barren streets towards the edge of town. Most of the buildings had been disassembled, leaving only flat concrete slabs and a few girder skeletons behind. Scraps of plastic, rusted wire, paper, and other trash that was not even worth the effort to salvage littered the ground. Sharon pushed her hands into her coat pockets as the cold evening wind blew unobstructed through the ruins.
At the edge of town Sharon walked into a grassy field that was decorated with rows of posts, scattered flowers, burned out candles, and trinkets. At the end of one of the rows was the post bearing Margaret Edmonson's ID tags. Around it were several bouquets of flowers, a photograph of the old Galactica Raptor Squadron, and the short stub of a candle.
Sharon knelt down and picked up a fist-sized stone with one hand. She reached into her coat pocket with the other and pulled out one hundred cubits worth of bills. "I'm sorry it took so long," Sharon said as she sat the money down on the grave and weighted it with the stone to keep the wind from blowing the money away. "But I told you I'd pay up." Sharon pulled her rectangular chrome lighter out of her pocket, snapped the lid open, and moved the candle stub to where it was sheltered from the wind by one of the bouquets. As she re-lit the candle she shook her head and said, "If only you could have trusted me to go into that room first... they could have resurrected me in an hour... Why couldn't you have been just a little less brave, Maggie?" Sharon stood without receiving an answer. She looked around at the abandon field of posts and mementos that would remain untended on this soon-to-be uninhabited planet. "Goodbye, Racetrack," she said to her departed comrade, "Good Hunting."
The sun was already beginning to dip below the horizon by the time Sharon walked across the abandon checkpoint between the remnants of the city and the Cylon concession. She had to hurry to reach the last Cylon transport before darkness fell.
Doral, Leoben, Cavil, and Dianna Biers were waiting for her there beside the Heavy Raider. "I was beginning to think you had left with them," Biers said. "Did you say all your goodbyes?"
"Yes," Sharon answered, "I'm sorry you had to wait."
"I am surprised that the embarkation went as smoothly and quickly as it did," Doral stated.
"They were obviously in a quite a hurry to get back into space," Leoben added.
"I can understand that," Sharon said. "This place has too many bad memories. For them, the Thirteenth Colony is hope. Searching for it is an act of optimism and faith."
"More like an act of stupidity," Cavil interjected. "Even if this Thirteenth Colony existed once, who knows if it is still there? There is no way to know what they will find when they arrive. It is foolish to bet their race's entire future on getting help there. Their lost brothers could enslave them instead of welcoming them with open arms... or they could have regressed to barbaric stone-age tribes. They could have been killed off by some great cataclysm or disease. The planet might not even be habitable anymore. What would the Humans do then?"
"It seems so sad," Diana said. "We finally managed to build a society where Humans and Cylons could both have peace and liberty... and the first thing the humans do is vote to abandon us to go find their lost colony. Our new partnership had so much potential, and it barely lasted a month."
"It was a nice month, though." Leoben added.
"But it was over so soon." Diana responded. "Was this what God wanted? All that work to build bridges between our people, to forgive each other, to find ways to cooperate... Just so we could have a few weeks as allies, then go our separate ways and never see each other again? Was that really God's plan?"
"God moves in mysterious ways," Leoben concluded simply.
"Well, I don't know about you all," Doral said, "but I'm glad for the excuse to get off of this primitive mud-ball before winter sets in."
"This place isn't so bad," Sharon responded as she surveyed the landscape around them for the last time. "It sort of reminds me of Canada ." As they headed into the spacecraft Sharon added, "Right now winter should be just starting back home in Vancouver , too."
Sharon dug her spoon deep into the carton of 'Chunky Monkey' ice-cream for another scoop, as a number Three model Cylon walked into the basestar cafeteria.
"You're up late." The number Three commented.
Sharon held up her hand as she finished swallowing the frozen treat. "I needed a little comfort food," she finally said.
"I find 'Cherry Garcia' is a good post-breakup flavor," the Three suggested.
"I've never had that one," Sharon admitted.
"Oh, you should try it next, then."
"I will," Sharon said while looking in her half-eaten container. "I have a feeling that getting over Chief Tyrol will require more than one quart anyway."
"Do you mind if I join you?" the Three asked as she examined the contents of the refrigerator.
"Sure," Sharon said, shrugging, "Grab a spoon and a bowl if you want some ice-cream."
"That Chief Tyrol is the one missing out," the Three offered as she sat down across the table from Sharon . "You can do better than him, anyway."
"Yeah, I keep telling myself that," Sharon said before putting another spoonful in her mouth.
The Three did not answer, but instead took the offered carton and spooned a couple of ice-cream scoops into her bowl.
"It hasn't helped any, yet." Sharon concluded after swallowing.
"You just need to get back on that horse and start dating again," the Three suggested as she handed the carton back. "What are you going to do when you get back to the Homeworld?"
"I'm not sure," Sharon answered. "I did some advertising endorsements and photo-shoots before I left, and that was kind of fun. I was thinking I might get into modeling full time."
"No, no," the Three said, "I meant socially. What about the men in Vancouver ? Were there any you really liked?"
"Oh well, now that you mention it there is this one guy I kind of liked. He wanted to go out, but... you know... I was so sure that I was going to get back together with Galen and start a family..." Sharon interrupted her answer to stick another spoonful in her mouth.
"So what's this guy back home like?"
"mmm..." Sharon purred as she licked the remainder of ice-cream off her spoon. "His name is Phil; he's a number Nine. He does something with real estate, I don't know the specifics."
The Three halted her spoon in mid arc and asked "You going for a Nine? I wouldn't have expected that."
"Oh, I know," Sharon admitted as she scraped 'Chunky Monkey' off the bottom of the container. "I never thought I'd consider dating a Nine, but Phil is so different from the others. He really is a wonderful guy." Sharon paused to relish another bite of ice cream and then said, "I wonder if he'd still be interested..."
"You should definitely call him up!" the Three assured her. "As soon as we get back. You never know," she said with a smile. "He could be 'the one'. Even if he's not it'll give you a great excuse to buy a new wardrobe."
"Now you sound like Aunt E3! Although... a new wardrobe does sound like a great idea," Sharon admitted. She frowned at the empty container in front of her and said. "Maybe, I should go easier on the ice-cream."
"The calories don't count for the first quart after a breakup," the Three said authoritatively.
"So, what are you going to do when we get back to Terra?" Sharon asked her table-mate.
"I'll go back to New Zealand . I want to be an actress," the Three said as she picked at the ice cream in her bowl. "I hear that they're going to do a remake of that warrior princess show, and I'm hoping we'll make it back in time for me to audition."
"That's the one about the two lesbians in mythological Greece isn't it?" Sharon asked.
"They're not lesbians," the Three asserted.
"Are you sure? Because I really got the impression..."
"Not. Lesbians." the Three said with a cold look.
"Okay, they're not lesbians." Sharon replied. "Just what the world needs anyway: another remake of a classic TV show. Why can't writers come up with anything original anymore? It seems like every time you turn around they're remaking or reimagining or regurgitating some old classic TV program."
"People love the Golden Age culture," the Three said. "They want to experience how things were before The Flu."
"But if people want to watch the old TV shows then they can always watch the originals on disk," Sharon pointed out. "Writers should come up with new settings. Or if they're going to borrow the settings, at least they should have the decency to invent new characters to write about instead of ruining everyone's fond memories of the originals. What could be less imaginative than writing about someone else's characters in someone else's setting?"
"Reality TV." the Three pointed out just before she ate an especially chunky spoonful.
"Okay, you've got me there," Sharon said with a grin "And I admit that acting does sound even cooler than being a model."
"You wanna ditch Vancouver and come to New Zealand ?" the Three offered. "You could audition to be the sidekick."
"I... don't think so." Sharon said shaking her head. "I'm going to stay in Vancouver for a while. I'll tell you what, though... As much as I've bad-mouthed those TV remakes, there is one show that I'd audition for in a heartbeat if they ever redo it."
"Which one is that?" the Three asked as she pushed her spoon around the bottom of the bowl to get the last of her ice-cream.
"Oh, it's that big science fiction program that comes on every Friday night." Sharon said with a smile. "I just loved that show... and if they ever get around to making more episodes for it I just know I'd make the perfect Samatha Carter!"
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