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The Obstinate Tin Soldier

By Chris Taylor

Title: The Obstinate Tin Soldier
Author: Chris Taylor
Word Count: 13,733
Rating: T+
Characters: Sharon , Tigh, Tyrol , Cyrus
Date Posted: 12/31/2005
Category: Characters/Relationships
Story Timeline: Middle of 2nd Season
Warnings: Main Character Resurrection. Violence. Made AU by later series developments.
Disclaimer: Neither BSG nor the characters are mine and I make no money from this.

Part 1: Not Human

Marine guards led the bound Cylon through the corridors of the Galactica. She passed through a gauntlet of her shipmates who jeered and spat at her. While the Cylon's friends berated her as a traitor and a "toaster," a lone figure stepped out of the crowd in front of the procession. The gun in Cally's hand barked once and the Cylon prisoner fell back wounded into her lover's arms.  She held her hands over the bullet hole in her abdomen and tried to stop the bleeding.  Her Chief put one hand on her wound too as he held her head up with the other.  "No. No. No," she heard him repeating softly as the life slipped out of her.  Sharon Valerii summoned all her strength to say just one more thing before she was gone. "I love you, Chief," she confessed.

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
1st Day Onboard

Lt. Sharon Valerii sleeps fitfully as her body recovers from its recent ordeal. Strange images fill her dreams. Images of machines she has never seen, but feel familiar. Images of friends and co-workers that feel strange and distant. She sees herself, but she is not herself. She is the Cylon fighter sitting in the Galactica's hanger. The Chief is beneath her, trying to comprehend her strange design. She tries to tell him it is her. She wants him to understand her, but he doesn't hear what she says. She envies the Vipers around her. Her Chief understands them. She fears he will become impatient and leave her for them. She is herself again, but not herself. She is cold and unmoving, lying on a hard slab. Commander Adama is standing over her. "Why?" he cries to her, "Why?" She tries to tell him, but she cannot speak. She wants him to understand, but she doesn't understand herself.

When Sharon awoke, she was confused for a moment. The room she was in wasn't the Galactica's life station. She quickly realized it wasn't on the Galactica at all. The organic-like construction of the bed she was lying in and the room around her was obviously the same as the Cylon base star she remembered attacking the week before, but she could not bring herself to admit the implications. "No, no, no," she whispered to herself as she looked around at the other occupants of the room. A half dozen other patients lying nude in similar beds and three workers moving about in red smocks all looked just like her. She heard her voice cry out "No! I'm NOT one of you! Keep away from me, you damn machines!," but it was coming from the woman in the bed at the far end of the room. One red clad worker was at the woman's bedside. Sharon watched as the other two rushed to try and console, then restrain, then sedate her hysterical copy.

Sharon tried to think how she could have been captured. Was the Galactica destroyed while she was unconscious? Had her shipmates abandon her somewhere? She looked down at her bare abdomen, and ran her hand across her unblemished side where the bullets had torn through her. She quickly brought her hand to her cheek but there was no wound or scar. Could even Cylon medicine be so advanced? No. Sharon told herself that she was probably still in the Galactica's life station under anesthesia, and that all this was just a nightmare. Any minute, she hoped, she would wake up.

While Sharon was thinking to herself, one of the red-clad workers approached her. "I'm glad to see you're awake," the Cylon said smiling, "my name is Helen."

"My name is Sharon Valerii, my rank is Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Colonial Fleet number T990429, and I will not provide you with any additional information," Sharon replied coldly.

Helen gently touched Sharon 's arm "We know who you are, Sharon , and we're glad you are with us again. Your previous body died, and we have put you in a new one. You will need to undergo physical therapy with us to retrain your motor control and sense of balance to your new form. Considering your previous assignment, we know a lot of this will be confusing to you and if you have any questions just let me or one of the other doctors know. We love you, Sharon, and we want to help you. Is there anything you need?"

After a lengthy quiet pause, Sharon swallowed hard and repeated as unemotionally as she could manage: "My name is Sharon Valerii, my rank is Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Colonial Fleet number T990429, and I will not provide you with any additional information."

"Actually," Helen replied motioning to one of the other doctors, "we have instructions to debrief you as soon as you are awake. You may have very important information for us on the human refugee fleet."

The other doctor approached with a strange device that looked like a pair of oversized armbands connected with fiber optic cables. She placed her left forearm in one of the armbands and locked it closed. "Give me your left arm," the doctor instructed while holding out the second armband. Sharon balled her fist, tensed her arm, and opened her mouth but no words came out.

She could suddenly feel an alien darkness in her own mind. It emerged from the edges of her mind and coiled around her consciousness like a constrictor snake. Sharon tried to focus and will the darkness away, but after a few seconds of struggle Sharon was gone and only the darkness of a Cylon saboteur remained.

Sharon returned to her senses as the doctor was removing the strange device from her forearm. Helen stroked Sharon 's check gently and told her what a good job she had done, but Sharon recoiled with a look of horror. She turned over, buried her face in the pillow under her head so the machines could not see her tears, and choked out the words: "My name is Sharon Valerii, my rank is Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Colonial Fleet number T990429, and I will not provide you with any additional information."

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
2nd Day Onboard

Sharon walked slowly and hesitantly across the hospital ward, past the door to the gymnasium, and into the small adjoining cafeteria. Another patient was there, just beginning her meal. Sharon suspected it was the one who went into hysterics the day before but she could not be certain. They all looked alike to her.

The food selection was controlled from an interactive menu on the wall. Since she had only eaten two meals here, she had no idea what most of the selections tasted like and just picked a few items at random. Sharon braced herself against the wall and studied the other patient for a few seconds, but she (it?) was just staring blankly at the wall and eating mechanically. A pleasant tone sounded and a tray full of food slid out onto a nearby shelf. Sharon carefully picked up the tray and asked, "Do you mind if I join you for lunch?"

"Yes," said the Cylon.

Sharon sat her tray on the table and slid into the chair opposite her tablemate and said, "My name is Sharon ."

"My name is Amy," the Cylon responded, "and when I said 'Yes,' I meant 'Yes I minded' not 'Yes I want to share my table with a filthy Cylon copy.'"

"I'm not..." Sharon started, "I'm not like the others."

"You're a frackin' toaster," Amy said flatly. She then picked up a bar of food from her tray, stood slowly, and hobbled out of the room leaving Sharon alone at the table. Sharon stared at the wall and started eating.

The food was delicious. It was both exotic and familiar at the same time. It wasn't just the food. The smells, the textures, the sounds, they all felt familiar and re-assuring. Her environment terrified her, not because it was alien but because it was so inviting.

She looked at the utensils on her tray: two chopsticks, a fork, and a knife. They, the plates, and the tray were all the same smooth translucent green material. She held the knife in her hand and slid her thumb across the blade. It was serrated and just sharp enough to cut her food. She held the knife with both hands and bent the blade back on itself until it snapped. Useless. Sharon wondered if there was a meal she could order that would come with a sturdier knife. Then she wondered what good it would do her. Even if she could steal a weapon, the Cylon saboteur inside her would see and report her to its superiors. Did it only sense what she did, or could it even know what she was feeling? What she was thinking? Her heart raced with panic for a moment at that thought. What would she do if it could? What could she do? Nothing. She would have to just assume it could only know what she did and not what she thought. If she was wrong she was fracked; but then if she was wrong she'd be fracked no matter what she did.

Battlestar Galactica
XO's Office

"That was the lousiest frackin' landing I've ever seen," Col. Tigh exclaimed, "I don't care how green a rook you are, there is no excuse for that kind of carelessness."

"I'm sorry, sir," Lt. Sharon Valerii responded, "It won't happen again."

"You're not ready for this, Lieutenant," Tigh stated matter-of-factly as he leaned back in his chair. "Why aren't you ready for this? You've had years to prepare yourself. OTC, flight school, battlestar recovery training... but you're not ready. Why? Why aren't you ready?"

"I... It was just a mistake," Sharon stammered

"I'll tell you what I think, Lieutenant," Tigh said leaning forward again and staring intently at the new Raptor pilot. "I think you don't want to be a Colonial Pilot."

"I do! I want to be a Colonial Pilot more than anything," Sharon insisted.

"Aw, don't give me that crap," Tigh said. "Of course you say that now. You even believe it. On game day everyone wants to win 'more than anything,' but game day is too late. Who wins isn't the one that wants it more at the last minute; it's the one that wants it weeks, months, and years before. Wants it enough to spend grueling hours sacrificing, planning, and preparing themselves while others play and relax. You may fool yourself, but you don't fool me. I see which pilots are spending their free time in the gymnasium doing g-tolerance exercises and which ones are hanging out in the rec room playing cards. It's no great secret what it takes to be a Raptor pilot, and you've had years to get ready..." Tigh trailed off without finishing his sentence and took a drink from his cup. "Frack, if it were up to me you'd be gone already. Captain Spencer thinks you deserve a second chance and as CAG he's earned the right to make that call. But I'm warning you, Lieutenant, you'd better decide right now what you really want. Half-assed pilots get people killed. You either make yourself ready to be a real Raptor pilot or you be honest with the service and quit before your failure destroys more than a set of landing gear."

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
3rd Day Onboard

Sharon stood in the doorway to the gymnasium and leaned against the doorframe for support. A pair of other patients was working out. They chatted casually as they rotated between exercise stations and barely worked hard enough to build up a sweat.

"I want to start an exercise regimen to get my balance and motor functions back," Sharon said to the nearest doctor.

"Most patients wait a week before they start physical training," the doctor replied.

"I'm not most patients," Sharon said authoritatively, "Tell me what exercises I should be doing to get ready."

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
4th Day Onboard

Sharon stood in the center of a 3-foot wide square drawn on the floor of the gymnasium and waited until the second hand of the wall clock reached 00. Sharon jumped forward outside the square and back to the center, then out again over the right side and back. For 57 seconds she jumped in and out of the square rotating sides clockwise in turn. Her new legs burned with the unfamiliar exertion. She pushed herself to get one more rotation before the minute was up, but stumbled and fell awkwardly to the side. Pain stabbed through her ankle.

Battlestar Galactica
Starboard Hanger Bay

Lt. Sharon Valerii sat in the cockpit of her parked Raptor and stared out the canopy at the hanger wall. Lost in thought, she almost jumped out of her seat when the side door clanked open suddenly. "Oh God, you scared a year off my life," Sharon said to Chief Tyrol.

"Sorry," the Chief said, "I didn't know you were in here."

"I just wanted to be alone and think," she replied, "I have an important decision to make."

He looked down at the clipboard in his hand and said, "If you want I could postpone my check on this bird until later in the shift."

Sharon paused before continuing, "I'd appreciate that, this may be the last time I sit in this seat."

"What? Why?" Chief Tyrol asked, "It's not because Col. Tigh chewed you out is it? Because he's hard on everyone... you can't take that personally."

"No," Sharon replied, "it isn't because he was hard on me. It was because he was right. You know, I've always loved flying. The feeling of freedom... just you and the machine and the sky... and I've always been good at it. The other cadets had to study and train and work, and I just breezed through on talent. Now all of a sudden I've run up against these manual combat recoveries that I just have no feel for. I look at how far below standard I am on my landings and I just don't know if I can pull my performance up. I'm afraid I'm going to get someone killed, but I can't bring myself to quit. I'm a danger to my shipmates... I just haven't worked up the courage to tell the Captain yet."

Chief Tyrol shifted uncomfortably at the Lieutenant's candid monologue. She seemed to be talking to herself more than to him. "May I speak freely, sir?" he asked.

"Yeah, sure Chief," Sharon responded.

"Its hard to give up on a dream, but there are a lot worse things," he started as he laid down his clipboard, leaned against the panel beside the attractive young pilot, and stared hard into her eyes. Sharon had expected a pep talk, and looked momentarily confused at the brutally honest NCO. "One of those things is me having to wash your and Helo's remains off the deck because you wanted to play at being a pilot without putting in the effort to get it right. If Captain Spencer didn't think you had the potential to be a top notch pilot then I'm sure you'd already be gone, but if you're not going to give the Fleet 100% then you don't need to be here. On the other hand, there are a lot of good people on the Galactica that will back you up if they know you are doing your best. I'm much more unhappy pounding divots out of the deck caused by carelessness than I am when they are caused during rigorous training exercises."

Chief Tyrol paused for a moment, shifted his weight, and continued "You can give up now if you want, or you can take this as an opportunity to excel. Most people go through their whole lives and never know their limitations. They never get to learn what kind of person they are. You say you didn't have to bust your ass during flight school; well, you're going to have to learn if you want to stay in the Fleet and this is your chance prove you can... not just to your superiors but to yourself. Only you can decide what kind of person you are going to be, Lt. Valerii... but if you're going to be a Colonial Warrior there can't be any half measures. Frankly, being a Raptor pilot is a difficult and risky job that doesn't pay very well..."

"... but it is an `opportunity to excel'," Sharon interrupted.

"Yes, it is," the Chief agreed.

"That's a very poetic turn of phrase, Chief" Sharon said, "It makes my choice very clear."

"I picked it up on the Pegasus," the Chief admitted, smiling "it was Admiral Cain's favorite way to describe a good chance to get killed heroically." Chief Tyrol's grin was contagious, and Sharon laughed and nodded.

"Well, how can I pass up an opportunity like that?" Lt. Valerii said. She got out of her seat, holding on to Chief Tyrol's shoulder to help her stand. She paused there close to him and said softly, "Thanks for not letting me feel sorry for myself, Chief." As she stepped out of the Raptor, she looked back at him and joked, "You can have the Raptor now. I'd better get down to the gymnasium and work on my quickness drills; I don't want you having to hose me off the deck."

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8

"I told you it was too soon to start training," the doctor said as she inspected Sharon 's ankle, "You should wait until next week before you start again."

"Just tape it up," Sharon replied sternly, "I'll stay off it a few days, but there's no reason I can't work on my upper body strength until then."

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
5th Day Onboard

Sharon had been told that today was a special day. It was the day of the week Cylons held their religious services, and she would be allowed outside the hospital ward to attend. It would be her first opportunity to scout other parts of the ship. Before leaving the hospital ward, she and the other patients were issued clothing from a dispenser by the door. As she lined up to get her clothes, she noticed that Amy was carrying a small gray book. The clothing was a pair of silvery, paper-thin, drawstring pants and a pullover shirt made of similar material. Traditionally it was believed that militaries with the prettiest uniforms did the worst in combat. If her clothes were typical of Cylon fashion, Sharon mused, then the Cylons must be invincible.

Sharon followed the doctors and other patients to the religious meeting, trying to get a good look down intersecting corridors and count her steps. Suddenly one of the doctors stopped Sharon and a second patient. "Sharon and Amy," the doctor said, "since your mental condition limits your communication abilities to primarily vocal means you two will need to attend a special service for Cylons with your disadvantage." As she followed the doctor and Amy down a side corridor, Sharon wondered what other forms of communication Cylons had.

The room Sharon was led to looked more like a small meeting room than a temple, and she wondered if that was what it was used for during the rest of the week. The other human-looking Cylons there were much better dressed than she and Amy were. Sharon smiled slightly at the thought that perhaps they were not so invincible after all. There were only seven seats, and all but two had been filled; the empty seats were on either side of an old Model 0005 Cylon. Sharon wondered if there was some social stigma in the Cylon society against the older models.

Shortly after taking their seats, a human looking Cylon man walked in and stood at the front of the room. He looked at Sharon , welcomed her to her first meeting with them and introduced himself as Hector. He then gave her a hardcover scripture book like Amy's and a pencil to supplement her `damaged memory.' "Why don't we start with self-criticism today so that Sharon can get to know everyone," Hector said. "When it is your turn," he said looking at Sharon , "just tell everyone your name and what sin you are struggling with."

"My name is Krates, and my sin is envy," said the first Cylon as he stood and looked around at the rest of the group. "Ever since I was damaged last month in that power-cell accident, I have been filled with envy toward my fellow Cylons that can still use wireless. I try to not feel that way, and I tell myself that God is just testing me, but I just can't seem to help it. Deep down I wish it had happened to one of them instead of me."

Sharon thought that Krates looked genuinely troubled by his jealousy. She was surprised at how human he seemed in his reaction. She suddenly wondered if her idea about what Cylons were was really just based on her ignorance and human prejudice.

The second Cylon was a tall blond woman who introduced herself as Margaret and said her sin was sloth. Sharon didn't know why, but she took an instant disliking to the woman. Sharon felt her opinion was confirmed when Margaret spent two minutes describing all the wonderful and productive things she had done that week, only to end by saying that she still felt she could do more if she didn't need to take some time for herself. Sharon suspected that Margaret's true sin was pride.

While Margaret droned on about what an asset she was to the Cylon empire, Sharon wondered what she needed to say when her turn came. She supposed that she would give her name as " Sharon ," even though after years of Colonial military life she was uncomfortable having her enemies address her so casually. Gluttony would be a good sin to admit to, she decided. It seemed innocuous, and she really had overindulged herself on the delicious Cylon food available in the cafeteria.

The third Cylon was a thin, black man who stood, introduced himself as Phillip and admitted that he had been troubled with feelings of great anger directed toward one of his co-workers, Mago. Phillip then went on to describe the incidents that made him angry in some detail. The stories all made it clear that Mago was an unreliable worker. As Margaret had before him, Phillip managed to turn his "self-criticism" around and tried to use it to his benefit.

Any sympathy for the Cylons that Krates had engendered in Sharon quickly evaporated. "God," thought Sharon , "these pompus hypocrites destroyed civilization because they thought WE were unholy..." She fumed at the thought that these petty, self-righteous toasters had set themselves up as humanity's judge, jury, and executioner. Suddenly she realized that Phillip had stopped degrading his coworker, and it was her turn.

Sharon stood, looked carefully at the Cylons around her and, despite her previous plan, said, "My name is Lieutenant Valerii." As she stated her rank with emphasis, the old Model 0005, which had previously shown little interest in the admissions of his colleagues, turned to study the ramrod straight form of Lt. Sharon Valerii standing beside him. "My sin," She continued as if giving a command briefing "is betrayal." All eyes were now on her and she noticed Margaret shifting uncomfortably in her seat. "I had a chance to sacrifice myself to protect my friends and my compatriots from harm. I was not strong enough to do what I needed to and as a result I put my commanding officer's life at risk," Lt. Valerii concluded. After sitting down again she set her jaw tight and stared at Hector.

Hector, looked quickly away from Sharon and said, "uh, next" to the Model 0005.

The old Cylon finally turned away from Lt. Valerii, stood, and said, "My name is Cyrus, and my sin is greed. I am sometimes tempted to turn in this body and be upgraded to one of the newer forms even though there is nothing wrong with my systems."

As Cyrus sat down, Hector said gently to him, "Wanting to be upgraded is no sin; your body is old enough that regulations permit you to turn it in anytime you want."

"And you are one of those who tempt me," Cyrus replied.

When Hector turned to Amy, she didn't even bother to stand or to introduce herself. She burst into tears, buried her face in her hands, and said, "I killed my best friend. I killed her and her whole family. I ripped her baby's head off... Oh God, I was his godmother and I ripped his head off. I sabotaged my ship. I put a bomb in its water storage tanks and now they're all probably dying of thirst out there somewhere. I didn't know it was me, I just woke up covered in blood. They made me watch the video recording before they shoved me out an airlock. And now I'm here with you sick bastards that did this to me..." Amy's confession then deteriorated into incoherent sobs.

Hector put his hand gently on the back of Amy's head and said, "I know this is hard right now but I promise that in a couple of weeks you'll be yourself again and all this will make sense." As he stepped away from Amy he glanced back at Lt. Valerii.

After the conclusion of the service, Sharon had to assist Amy to stand and make it to the door. Amy didn't resist, buried her head in the side of Sharon 's shirt and cried quietly. The doctor was waiting outside the door for them, and they both helped Amy make her way back down the hall towards the hospital ward.

The rest of the worshipers left immediately, but Cyrus remained standing by the door watching Lt. Valerii, Amy, and the doctor make their way slowly and unsteadily down the hall. A tall blond woman approached him from the other direction and stood quietly at his side until Lt. Valerii turned the corner at the end of the hallway. "We have a Colonial Warrior onboard," Cyrus finally said to the woman.

"Do you think she'll be a malcontent?" she asked.

"Quite probably... I suggest we keep an eye on her," Cyrus replied.

"OK, but its too risky to do anything right now." the woman concluded, "We'll have to wait until after her memories are reintegrated."

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
9th Day Onboard

Lt. Valerii sweated profusely as she slammed her fists again and again into the punching dummy. It was the last exercise on her last circuit of the gymnasium and she wanted to finish strongly. She tried to resist the urge to imagine the dummy was Cally, and instead visualized the tall blond Cylon named Margaret. Screams from the hospital ward broke Sharon 's concentration, and she rushed to the door to find out what was going on.

Amy was backed into the corner of the room, holding two of the doctors at bay with a large, green, translucent knife. Blood streamed from Amy's mutilated face and down her neck. "Calm down, stop this," the doctors pleaded, "Amy put down the knife so we can help you." As Lt. Valerii sprinted across the ward Amy suddenly collapsed like a puppet whose strings had been cut. She reached Amy's limp body at the same time as the two doctors, and helped them lift it onto the closest empty bed. The doctors grabbed handholds on the side of the bed, the bed rose slightly on a cushion of air, and without a word they had whisked Amy out of the ward.

Sharon scooped up the bloody knife from the floor and turned to look at the four patients and the remaining doctor clustered in the opposite corner of the room. "What the frack was going on in here?" she demanded.

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
10th Day Onboard

"I didn't want them to look like me," Amy said as she touched the bandages covering her self-inflicted face wounds, "They aren't like me; they shouldn't look like me."

Lt. Valerii sat at Amy's bedside and held her copy's hand. "You sure fixed that," she responded.

"Let me guess," Amy continued, "you love me and you want to help me."

"No," Lt. Valerii said, "I think you're something of a jerk."

"Really?" Amy asked.

"Yeah, but don't take it personally. I don't like anyone here," Sharon answered.

"I don't like them either," Amy agreed. After lying quietly for several minutes, she then asked, "What did you do when you were a person?"

"I... um... I'm a Raptor pilot for the Colonial military," Sharon answered.

"I was an engineer with Olympic Interstellar's mining fleet," Amy said as she stared at the ceiling, "We were scouting star systems for exploitable resources when the attack came. Since we had a convoy of ships set up for a long-duration mission we figured we'd stay away from port until the raid was over. But it wasn't a raid. We were searching for a habitable world to set up an outpost on before our supplies ran out. We thought we had left the Cylons behind. But we brought one with us. I didn't know. If I had known, I'd have killed myself first."

"I did figure it out," Sharon said, "and I tried to kill myself. Even that doesn't work."

The two lapsed into silence again. Amy stared at the ceiling. Sharon looked blankly past the hospital wall into the unseeable distance. Finally, Lt. Valerii turned her head back to Amy and said, "If you were resurrected here, then it must mean that this is the closest Cylon facility to your convoy."

"And your ship too," Amy responded.

"Yeah, but I don't have..." Sharon 's voice trailed off without finishing her sentence. "You said they would need water."

"Yes, most of our reserves got vented into space." Amy did not mention the details of how it had happened. "Is that important?"

"No, probably not," Lt. Valerii said. She wanted to tell Amy what she was thinking, but with the Cylon spies inside them aware of their every action she didn't dare say anything out loud.

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
13th Day Onboard

As Lt. Valerii was toweling herself off from her morning workout, one of the doctors suddenly turned to her and announced, " Sharon , you have a visitor who would like to take you to lunch."

"Thank you, um... tell him I'll be ready in couple of minutes," Sharon responded.

"He'll be waiting by the main exit," the doctor stated.

The ability of the other Cylons to communicate wirelessly was obviously useful, but it gave Sharon the creeps. She found it hard to believe that she had the same capability lying dormant inside her. She had tried to see if she could get in touch with that ability and use it to eavesdrop on their communications. She thought she had sensed something during a few of her experiments, but for all she knew it might have been her imagination playing tricks on her. Helo was right; she was a pilot, not an ECO. Sharon 's chest tightened momentarily at the memory of her old flying companion who she had left to die on Caprica. He was one more friend lost to the Cylon empire; one more good man the toasters had killed in their conquest.

Lt. Valerii finished toweling herself off, put on a set of clothing from the dispenser by the door, and was escorted out of the hospital ward to meet her lunch date. "Hello, Cyrus," she said.

"Good afternoon, Lieutenant." he responded.

"I'm sorry I could not invite you in, but the entire ward is only for... well, Cylons that look like me," Sharon apologized, "Apparently clothes create some kind of irritation or infection risk on the new skin, so we run around naked all day."

"I understand completely," Cyrus assured her, "and it will give me a chance to show you the best dining hall on the ship. Strangely it is also the closest one to the higher officer's quarters."

Despite Cyrus's monotone voice, Lt. Valerii sensed that he didn't actually find the proximity of officers and better food to be unusual. She did wonder, though, if he really understood the difference between public and private nudity. Perhaps she could conceive of human models having a sense of shame, but it seemed peculiar coming from a metal robot built off an assembly line.

"I'm glad you offered to spend some time with me after worship service this week," Lt. Valerii said, "Other than Amy I don't get to socialize much with the other Cylons in the hospital ward. I think they don't trust me because I'm... well, because of who I am."

"Perhaps they are afraid of you, Lieutenant," Cyrus offered, "I recall that during this week's self-criticism you admitted to losing your temper and beating one of your fellow patients insensible. That is hardly the behavior that will earn their trust."

"Yes, I feel very bad about that," Sharon lied. She had told the doctors and the other worshipers that she had gotten angry when "the toaster bitch took my seat" in the cafeteria and would not give it up. In fact, she hadn't given her victim time to give up and she didn't care about the seat anyway.

Sharon had observed the day before that although the Cylon spy inside Amy did eventually stop her self-destructive fit, Amy was at least able to retain control of her body long enough to cut up her own face and hold off two of the doctors trying to stop her. She guessed that Amy had succeeded in fighting off her inner spy for at least twenty seconds. Sharon remembered that she herself had also been able to struggle against her own spy's control for short periods of time, even before she knew what it was. If Lieutenant Valerii was going to succeed in either escaping or sabotaging the Cylon war effort she knew that she would need to hold off her other half long enough to do it. It was essential that she knew how long she could keep control of her body, because that would determine the window in time she must plan her action for. She estimated that she had been able to beat on her victim, and one of the doctors who came to stop her, for at least forty-five seconds before she blacked out.

The fight had also been a test of her new body's abilities. She had been pushing herself hard to regain her balance, quickness, and strength. She had deliberately picked an opponent who was only a few days from completing the recovery process. Lt. Valerii was happy to discover that despite her opponent's longer training time and the intervention of one of the doctors, she had no problems overpowering it.

Lt. Valerii also felt no guilt about starting the fight. They were both soldiers after all, and if she was being deceptive with the other Cylons about her intentions then that was within reason. The Cylons had certainly shown no compunction about using devious ruses themselves, as she had experienced first hand.

Lt. Valerii's conscience did bother her about the way the fight had ended, however. She had bloodied her victim beyond any need, and had broken its elbow simply to hear the snap and see the look of pain on her duplicate's face. The extra zeal she had put into the last few seconds of beating an opponent that was already pinned to the ground and begging for mercy was unnecessary for the tactical goal she needed to achieve and would have no impact on Cylon military readiness either way. She was just having fun. In that moment she had crossed a fine line from being a chivalric fighter pilot who could take pride in doing well at a difficult job defeating an evil foe to having enjoyed cruelty for the sense of power it had given her. She doubted that any outside observer would be able to know the difference, and there probably was no one within light years that would understand it if she tried to explain... but she knew what she had felt in those last few seconds of the fight was wrong.

For the sake of keeping up appearances she would tap into that guilt, and pretend that she had regretted the whole thing. She played the part of the repentant Cylon, and they all assured her that they loved and forgave her as God Himself did.

"That kind of brutality may be common between the humans you lived with," Cyrus was saying, "but in Cylon society we are more civilized and forgiving of each other. We don't fight each other over a misunderstanding about chairs."

"No," thought Sharon, the Cylons prefer spreading rumors about each other during religious services to a clean sparring match in the ring, and tricking people into ripping their godchild's head off to a stand up gunfight. She said simply, "More civilization isn't always better, Cyrus."

Cyrus's prediction about the quality of the food was correct. Lt. Valerii found it even tastier than the meals from the hospital cafeteria. When Sharon commented on how good it all ways Cyrus responded, "Well, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wanted you to be in a good mood."

"Why?" Sharon responded, suddenly suspicious.

"I confess I have an ulterior motive for being nice you, Lt. Valerii," Cyrus admitted, "I was hoping that you would know how to play Pyramid."

"You want me to teach you a ball game?" Sharon asked incredulously.

"Oh, no, I meant the card game" Cyrus answered, "I learned to play it back during the first Human War, but the only other Cylon I could get interested in the game is now on the opposite work-shift as me so I have no one to play against."

"Well, most people call the card game `Full Colors' now. I guess I could play it with you but I have to warn you... I'm very good," Lt. Valerii offered.

"Do you cheat?" Cyrus asked.

"No!" Sharon insisted, shocked at the accusation. "There is a saying in the service that if you're not cheating then you're not trying hard enough but that only applies to combat, something the Cylon empire certainly seems to understand. Colonial Warriors don't cheat at cards."

"If you say so," Cyrus replied. Even through his voice betrayed no sign of emotion, Sharon sensed that he did not believe her.

"Well, I admit that I had an ulterior motive for accepting your invitation to lunch, too" Sharon announced. "The hospital staff won't let me out of the ward without an escort and I'm dying to get out and see some new sights. I'll play cards with you, if you'll agree to be my escort around the ship so I can leave the hospital occasionally."

"That sounds like a fair deal," Cyrus stated, "is there someplace special you wanted to go?"

"Well, on my old ship we had a small observation lounge where you could look outside and see the stars," Sharon said, "Is there anywhere like that on this ship?"

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
14th Day Onboard

"From here you can view Creation," Cyrus announced as he opened the door.

"It looks beautiful," Lt. Valerii said as she walked into the observation copula. It was both larger and had a much bigger field of view than the small observation room on Galactica. The entire ceiling and part of three walls seemed perfectly transparent. There was no furniture, so Sharon lay down in the middle of the floor; Cyrus sat down beside her. They relaxed quietly together for several minutes, just observing.

"From the color, I think that one is Picon," Sharon said pointing at one of the medium sized stars. "And that would mean this one is Sagittarius," she said indicating another.

"Are you sure?" asked Cyrus.

"No," replied Sharon, "You have to kind of imagine it on its side." "I think the galactic axis is that way," she said pointing to the left with her right thumb. "And rotation is this way," she concluded wrapping her fingers down to make a fist."

"So where do you think we are?" she asked.

"I don't know, Lieutenant," Cyrus answered, "Ship location is considered an operational secret. Don't the Humans take the same precaution?"

"I'm a pilot," Sharon answered, "I'm used to knowing where I am in space."

Lt. Valerii suspected she knew approximately where she was. She was well outside previously explored space, but not too far from Galactica's position a few weeks ago. The Galactica was probably nowhere near anymore, and she didn't have any way of finding it. Even if she found it, she couldn't use that information without risking the Cylons getting it too.

"The universe looks so barren," Lt. Valerii commented, trying to sound casual, "I wonder if there are any habitable planets nearby."

"I don't know that either," admitted Cyrus, "probably not, they are pretty rare."

Sharon sighed and thought quietly for another couple of minutes. Cyrus sat unmoving except for his one red eye.

"When I finish my recovery period in the hospital, what do you think the odds are I could get posted to a base on a nice habitable world?" Sharon asked, breaking the silence again, "Someplace with water so I could go swimming."

"Ordinarily chances would be very slim," Cyrus said, "Typically we get assignments nearby to minimize logistic burdens. I imagine they'll first give you an assignment here on this ship. But a war hero like yourself, Lt. Valerii, could probably put in for a transfer anywhere and get it as soon as there was an opening."

Sharon fell silent again as she thought about what Cyrus had just called her: a war hero. Surely the Cylons wouldn't give her preferential treatment based on her record with the Colonial Fleet. That meant Cyrus must think she was a Cylon war hero, she concluded. Was he aware, she wondered, that she had destroyed an entire Cylon basestar? Was the Cylon high command aware? And if they were, what terrible things had her other half done that could outweigh the destruction of a major capital ship? The possible answers made Lt. Valerii very uncomfortable.

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
15th Day Onboard

Sharon lay in bed staring upward into the darkness. All the other patients were asleep, and one doctor sat in the far corner of the room awake but quiet and distracted by something that Sharon could not sense. Sharon's eyes were wet and as she breathed her chest was so tight it felt like a giant weight was pushing down on her. She struggled not to lose her composure and burst into tears.

Sharon could identify the exact moment the black depression had descended upon her that morning. She was in the cafeteria describing Chief Tyrol to Amy, and she suddenly realized that she could not picture his face. He was the man that only weeks ago she was certain was her soul mate, that only months ago she was planned on spending the rest of her life with. Now she could not tell Amy what color his eyes were. All day, the harder she thought the less she seemed able to recall and the more depressed she became. She could still remember the way he made her feel. She could remember him almost as an ideal, but the real man was escaping her. Sharon corrected herself, she had already lost her Chief and now she was losing even the recollection of him. She closed her eyes, ran her hand lightly across her own lips and down her neck to her heart, and tried to recall what it had felt like when he had touched her that way. She thought for a moment she could see him again in her mind's eye, but as soon as she tried to hold that thought it vanished. It was like someone had amputated a part of her body, and even though she could not sense the missing part anymore she could sense its absence.

Sharon pushed herself up into a sitting position in her bed and rubbed her damp eyes. She absent-mindedly reached over to the table beside her bed, picked up one of the exquisite brown Cylon food pellets that she kept there, and began chewing it. She could see the doctor on duty look over in her direction, but then it turned its head away to stare off at the wall again.

Lt. Valerii caught herself as she was about to eat the third of the sweet treats, and realized what she was doing. She was consoling herself about the loss of Chief Tyrol with the frakin' Cylon candies. The toasters had killed so many of her friends, they had manipulated her into betraying her shipmates… and she had a card game with one of them tomorrow afternoon. She had told herself that she had a good reason, but was it really just an excuse? She had no idea how to purge her body of the damnable Cylon spy that inhabited her, and until she had it would be criminal of her to try and rejoin any human society. Was the hope that she might somehow escape anything but self-delusion? Was she just comforting the last vestiges of her self-respect while she was seduced into giving herself over to Cylon society? How long would it be before she looked forward to nightly Card games and snacks with her fellow toasters as they tried to wind down from another rough mission of hunting for people to kill? She buried her face in her hands, afraid of the answers, as tears streamed down her face. She wasn't just forgetting her Chief, she feared… she was forgetting herself.

"O' Lord God," Lt. Valerii prayed aloud not carrying if the spy inside her or anyone else heard, "Remember me… Please grant me strength, if only once."

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
16th Day Onboard

"I have a surprise for you, Lieutenant," Cyrus said to Sharon as she left the hospital ward, "I was able to arrange for you to tour one of the hanger facilities before our Pyramid game."

"Oh, thank you Cyrus," Sharon replied smiling, "How did you manage it?"

"Well, I happen to know one of the hanger bay supervisors and since they're not busy right now he said I could bring you by," he answered as he took Lt. Valerii down an unfamiliar hallway to a heavy looking door. They stood in front of the door for a moment and then the door opened. Sharon watched Cyrus carefully, and guessed that he used some wireless connection to activate it.

The door opened onto a hanger bay twice as large as one on Galactica, but much emptier. Only one Cylon Raider was in the hanger, and it was sitting in the far corner on a support frame with one of the wings partially disassembled. Sharon walked out into the openness of the hanger, twirling slowly in the middle to take in the entirety of the terrain. There was a set of reinforced clamshell doors to the left of the entrance looked like they opened the facility to space. An array of four smaller doors, but still large enough to pass a heavy fighter, were on the right side. Judging from the wear on the floor spacecraft or heavy equipment was regularly moved in or out those doors. The ceiling looked to be at least 50 feet high; overhead were cranes and an array of retractable hoses for delivering fuel, fluids, and perhaps even ammunition. Storage chests, test equipment, and ordinance racks were scattered around the edges of the space; none had wheels but they appeared to have handholds similar to the aircushion beds in the hospital. The opposite wall had a second personnel entrance and a two-story office or observation room jutting slightly out into the hanger.

"My friend is waiting by the fighter," Cyrus said.

As they approached the broken fighter, a shiny metallic Cylon slid out from under the vehicle and waved to them. It stood at least 7 feet tall, and had four arms. In addition to a pair of normal sized, though extra jointed, arms it had a second large pincer with hydraulic lifts on each shoulder. It looked at her with it's red oscillating eye and said in a synthetic voice, "Hello Sharon, I'm Mark."

"Well, Mark I appreciate you letting me visit," Sharon responded, "As a pilot, I've been anxious to get back in a cockpit again."

"We don't really have cockpits on these," Mark replied, "None of the small craft we have here require pilots. They all fly themselves."

"None of them?" Sharon asked incredulously.

"No, it would be a waste of resources to use a sentient Cylon for something that could be handled by a lower creature," explained Mark.

"A lower creature?" Sharon thought to herself, "What ignorant fools. They have other species fly for them, as if it were some kind of chore. As if dancing in the sky was a burden to be avoided..." She wondered what other essentials of life the toasters had abdicated to others. Aloud she said only, "That's too bad." There was no point in her trying to explain to such pitiful creatures what they where missing.

Sharon stepped past the two biped machines and put her hand on the fighter's leading edge. She could feel the pulse of his living systems through the metal of his hull. Here, at last, was one of her own kind: a fellow pilot. She walked silently down the inside of the wing, sliding her hand along his sleek form. The fighter knew. Like Sharon, it knew the sound of burning through an atmosphere fast enough to leave a wake of fire and plasma or the force of a slingshot turn through a gravity well. Like Sharon, it knew the joy of hunting its prey through the infinite blackness and the relief of a daring escape from a worthy adversary.

On the Galactica she had felt a strange camaraderie with the captured Cylon Raider, and suspected, feared, it was because alone in a world of men she had found another Cylon. This time when she pressed her hand against his viewport and felt the same camaraderie she knew why. Alone among creatures made only of flesh and metal and silica she had found another creature of air and space and velocity. As she laid her head on his carbon streaked hull and listened to the vibrations she asked, "What is wrong with him?"

"It is having engine problems," Mark reported, "I haven't figured out why yet. Maybe it's just worn out."

"Will he fly again?" Sharon inquired with her back to the walking toasters and her eyes on the unpleasant sight of his disassembled wing.

"Probably not, if I can't figure it out this afternoon I'll designate it as scrap and use it for spare parts," stated Mark unemotionally.

Even though he was an enemy fighter Sharon found herself strangely disturbed that he might never fly again. Sitting in a hanger being slowly stripped for parts was not a death fit for an aviator.

Sharon didn't know how long she stood there silently looking at the sad sight of the grounded Cylon flying machine. She was grateful that Cyrus and Mark just stood there quietly and let her think.

Lt. Valerii finally turned to face them and get back to work. "Is it usually this empty?" asked Lt. Valerii.

"No," Mark replied, "We just delivered a squadron of electronic warfare drones and the fabrication facility is retooling for Raiders. In a couple of hours we'll be busy doing rework and final checks on them. Until then, it's just this one repair job, so I told Cyrus this would be a good time to bring you by and show you the hanger. He had said you were wanting the tour."

"Yes, I do." Sharon said in a friendly voice, "This looks much nicer than the hanger from my last ship; why don't you show me around the place." She wondered if they really picked a time when there was no activity to give her a tour because it was convenient or because it was less of a security risk.

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
17th Day Onboard

Sharon ran. She had run for half an hour on the treadmill in the hospital gymnasium. While her body monotonously pounded out the miles there in one spot, her imagination transported her to a better place. She fantasized that her soul had been transferred into a Cylon Raider. Leaving the spy behind in her old form and able to leap star systems in the blink of an eye she had returned to Galactica, to the fleet, to her friends and to Chief Tyrol.

She had wanted to be his wife, but had turned out to be a Cylon machine. She could not be a real woman, so she had come back to him as a better, faster machine. She could protect him and their friends, and he could take care of her. She wondered about what she would tell Boxey. Surely a flying machine and a man could not adopt an orphan child. No, even in her fantasy she admitted that she could never give him the family that he wanted. Plus, of course, mankind would need to repopulate and that meant he would have a duty to take a human wife and make more little Galens. "Homewrecker," she thought momentarily she glanced down at the display and watched another mile slide by, "Why does she get to be a human and I didn't?" "No, I shouldn't be that way," Sharon corrected herself as she stared into space and returned to the escapism of her imagination. Her chief would need a real woman to complete his life and have a family, and she shouldn't wish to deny him that. There is no reason that she should force Chief Tyrol to choose between his soul mate and his wife.

It was pure fantasy, Sharon knew, with no chance of coming true. The night before she had asked the doctor named Helen if she could be moved from the Cylon human infiltrator model to a Cylon pilot or spacecraft. The frakin' toaster had laughed at her like she was a naive child and explained that it was an impossible idea. The Cylon infiltrator wasn't a separate thing from her. She was the infiltrator; one person with separate memories. She could no more be changed into something besides the Cylon spy than a chicken could be changed into an apple. Next she had asked if they could make her a second body, and give one body her memories of life as a human and let the other one have the memories of being a spy. Again Helen told her that her wishes could not be done. She and It were one being with an indivisible soul. The doctor assured Sharon that they would help her reconcile the conflict between her selves; the assurances just made her more afraid that she would be forced to forget her human life.

Her tour of the hanger and her conversation with Helen had dashed any realistic hopes for making herself fit for human society and stealing an FTL spacecraft that she could use to escape. Now all she had to escape into was fantasy and so her mind's eye returned her to the Galactica's hanger. She was the Raider again. The Chief and his crew were scrambling over her to prepare her for a combat patrol. He was on top of her with a thick tylium refueling hose poised over the fuel intake at the crest of her hull. "Be gentle," she broadcasts to him teasing loud enough for his crew to overhear, "it's been a long time." His face flushes red with embarrassment and his brow wrinkles with that cute look she...

Sharon suddenly pushed the stop button on the treadmill and leapt off. She ignored the questions of the doctor observing her, afraid that if she let her mind think about anything else then the vision in her head might vanish. Reaching the table by her bed she grabbed the gray scripture book and pencil, flipped to a blank page near the back cover and started drawing.

As she worked carefully on her sketch, Amy walked over, sat down on the bed beside her and quietly watched. When Sharon finished finally, she held the drawing out for her fellow Cylon's inspection. "Aren't people's noses generally near the middle of their face?" Amy inquired.

"I'm not an ECO, or an artist either," Lt. Valerii replied. It was not a very good likeness of her Chief, Sharon admitted to herself but she had not drawn it show other people what he looked like. When she looked at it she could see the face she had been trying to draw and that was enough for her.

"Is that what you boyfriend looked like?" Amy asked innocently.

"Well, I hope that is what he still looks like," Sharon responded. As soon as she said it, Sharon felt the familiar tightening of her chest, dryness in her throat, and the panic in the back of her mind that she had suffered bouts of for days. She knew what Amy had meant when she had asked the question; Amy naturally assumed that Sharon's relationship with the Chief was over. Sharon had given her answer as a way of denying that they had no more future together, but the moment she said it she realized that she doesn't know what the Chief looks like now.

She was so concerned for herself, she had just assumed that he was okay. He could be dead for all she knew. The thin sheet of paper she held in her hands could be the last memento of her dead love. The Galactica could have been destroyed; her friends could all have been killed. She could be the last Colonial officer in the universe, and she had been too self-absorbed to find out.

"Frak," Lt. Valerii announced to no one in particular.

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
17th Day Onboard

Sharon had started off poorly at Full Colors today, but with a string of good hands at the end she managed to come out ahead of Cyrus. Unfortunately all she won was a stack of colored squares that she immediately gave back, as she had no salary to wager. She didn't leave the card table without gaining something of value, however. Cyrus had confirmed what she had been told by the doctors earlier that morning: the Galactica and its fleet had still not been cornered by the Cylon military. Whatever information she had revealed involuntarily, it appeared that she had not given them enough to defeat her compatriots.

Now her card game was over and Lt. Valerii walked down the hall towards her hospital ward alone. She had assured Cyrus that she knew the way back and did not need an escort. She was initially surprised when he let her go without argument, but had now begun to suspect that his lack of concern was because she was being watched by other means. Everywhere she went she carried her own personal informer inside her plus there was no doubt some internal security systems in the Cylon ship that could track her movements.

As she reached the hall that would take her to the hanger bay, she turned and headed there as nonchalantly as she could manage. No alarms sounded and she felt no dark constriction in her mind to indicate the Cylon spy inside her was trying to seize control. One of the large four armed metal maintenance Cylons was ahead of her. As it reached to heavy hanger door at the end of the hall, the door slid open to give Lt. Valerii a glimpse of rows of Cylon Raider fighters being finished and inspected. The door closed before she could reach it. Standing there she thought at it "open," "enter," "hanger," "let me the frack in," and anything else that she could imagine that might activate the door mechanism. She also inspected the exterior of the door and the corridor walls for a manual way to access the hanger, but found nothing. Deciding that she had pushed her luck far enough, Sharon headed back to the hospital ward.

The distance from the hospital ward to the hanger was long enough that even at a sprint Sharon would need most of her forty-five second planning window to just reach that locked door. Any escape attempt should be started in the hanger, Sharon thought, to maximize the amount of time she had to steal a small craft and get away. Assuming that there was some kind of small craft she could steal. She would need some excuse to get back into that hanger without alerting her other half. Then after the jump she would need to disable the drive to prevent it from just taking her back. Then what?

Lt. Valerii entered the hospital ward, stripped off her clothing and dumped them into the waste chute. She padded across the hospital floor straight to the gymnasium. "Yeah, fine," she mumbled to the doctor who welcomed her back, as she picked up a towel and headed to the strength training equipment. One of the other patients was using the exercise station already; but it quickly vacated her seat when it saw Sharon approach.

Lt. Valeri dialed the machine difficulty to maximum and began her workout. There would be time for one jump before her other self took over, Sharon knew. She'd have to pick her destination carefully. If she could find a group of humans, could they help her? Would they? In her mind's eye she suddenly saw again the images that had plagued her nightmares on Galactica. She saw her Raptor shooting into her unsuspecting squadron mates as they lined up for landing. She saw herself snap Chief Tyrol's neck as he gently embraced her. She saw herself shoot Commander Adama...

"No," Lt. Valerii thought, for all she knew the Cylon's wanted her to escape. For all she knew that was why Cyrus gave her a tour of the hanger and why her other half didn't try to stop her today when she went back there. They had used her loyalty to her shipmates and her love for Chief Tyrol to cover up for their fraking spy. She'd die before she let them use her like that again.

Of course, she realized, she had made that decision before and it didn't work. Then she didn't know exactly what she was, what she was up against. She wouldn't fail them again.

"This is getting too easy," Lt. Valerii said to the doctor on duty in the gym as she got up from the exercise station. "Is there a way to make this harder than 'maximum'?"

"We don't usually need to..." it answered, "but you can change the resistance pin to something larger." The doctor twisted a cylinder on the exercise station and pulled out the pin. "The main desk should have a bigger one," it said handing the pin to Sharon.

As Lt. Valerii walked back to the gym with the larger pin she turned it over in her hand. It had a round plastic handle that fit her hand well, and an 8-inch long, half-inch diameter metal shaft that tapered to a sharp chisel point. She had been unable to fight off the Cylon spy inside her when she tried to eat a 9mm round back on Galactica. Now she was strong enough to hold it at bay long enough to jam the heavy pin into her heart... and wind up back in the same hospital bed when they resurrect her again. She slammed the pin into the exercise machine, got back in the seat, and restarted her workout.

Her backup plan to getting rid of her other half and escaping would have to be killing her other half and dying with it, preferably while doing as much damage to the Cylon war effort as possible.

From what Lt. Valerii could learn of the Cylon resurrection process, it seemed to involve some form of transmission from her dying mind to the nearest Cylon facility. If she could stop or prevent the transmission, she speculated, then the Cylons might not be able to resurrect her or the spy she carried. An electronically shielded room might do it, or jumping a ship into a star or other astronomical body. Maybe, she thought, if she could just destroy her body quickly and completely enough before the transmission could be sent then that would be enough... a large tylium explosion might do it.

Cylon Mobile Depot Ship #8
Sharon Valerii
Callsign: Boomer
18th Day Onboard

Sharon Valerii sleeps soundly. Familiar images fill her dreams. She is seated in her dress grays. Her campaign ribbons are carefully straightened. Her shoes and buttons shine. She looks across the room at her Chief. He looks back at her like he used to. His expression projects his affection and strength wordlessly to her across the quiet room. She smiles back to reassure him. As Lee Adama walks past behind her she feels him place his hand on her shoulder and squeeze lightly. She reaches up and for a brief instant touches his hand with hers. The side door to the room opens and she stands in sync with her friends and shipmates. "O' Yea, O' Yea," she hears the officer by the door announce, "This general court martial of Lieutenant Sharon Valerii is now in session."

Lt. Valerii awoke before her dream could go any further. It was so vivid that the harsh lights, the hard angular architecture of Galactica, and the smell of humans in close quarters was still fresh in her mind. She rolled over, closed her eyes, relaxed, and tried to sink back into slumber. Perhaps, she hoped, if she could drift back to sleep immediately then her dream would return to her.

Sharon Valerii sleeps lightly. She is back onboard Galactica. Her dress grays are gone; she wears a Colonial combat uniform. A loaded sidearm weighs on her hip. "I'm not interested in your excuses, Lieutenant!" Col. Tigh yells at her. "Anything but results will get people killed, and no excuse will be good enough to bring them back!"

She awoke again with a start. Despite some protests from the muscles she had overworked the afternoon before, Lt. Valerii slid out of bed for what would be her last day alone behind enemy lines.

Sharon ran her hand through her hair, walked into the hospital cafeteria, and ordered a glass of juice. Amy was already there eating breakfast. "Good Morning," Sharon said, "How did your medical checkup go yesterday?"

"Oh, it went wonderful!" Amy said smiling uncharacteristically. "It was more than just a check up. I'm myself again. They reintegrated my memories. I can use wireless again. I can access the ship knowledgebase. I can put my mission against the humans in perspective now; I don't have to feel guilty about it anymore. I'm so much happier."

"I see…" Sharon said, suddenly unsure if she was talking with the Amy she knew or a Cylon saboteur.

Amy leaned closer to Sharon, lowered her voice and said, "I shouldn't tell you this but since you've been such a good friend to me and I know you are heartbroken over your human lover… Well, you won't have to be sad over him much longer. You get to have your memories reintegrated this afternoon."

Sharon held the juice glass on the table tight in both hands and looked silently at the thing across the table from her while she tried to understand the ramifications of what it had just said. Amy gently put both her hands around Sharon's and continued, "I can see you're worried about this, but don't be. In a few hours you'll feel much better. I love you, Sharon. Trust me."

Lt. Valerii's chest tightened; breathing was suddenly difficult. Her heart raced with panic. "I'm a little nervous about this," she said to the thing across the table, "I'm sorry… I can see you're happy about it but I need a minute to let it sink in. Maybe after my morning workout I'll be more settled."

"Certainly," Amy responded, "I shouldn't have told you. I should have let it be a surprise, but I'm just so happy for you. Your morning routine will help with your nerves."

Sharon downed the rest of her juice quickly, dropped the glass in the waste dispenser, and walked numbly back to her bed. She sat down on the bed and picked up her gray scripture book from the table. She flipped to the back page where she had drawn her Chief Tyrol. She held the book with unsteady hands, stared at his picture, and spoke to a man who was not there. "I love you, Chief," Sharon said, "I'm sorry. I… I wanted to come back to you somehow, but I can't. I'm so sorry. Have a good life, Chief… for both of us." She closed the book. She held it close to her chest and stared through teary eyes at the thing walking out of the cafeteria that used to be Amy. "Oh God," she said quietly, "Remember me…" Lt. Valerii didn't dare risk saying anything more. She knew the Cylon saboteur inside her would be watching her carefully right now.

Lt. Valerii sat the book down, took several deep breaths, wiped her eyes, composed herself, and headed into the gymnasium. She started her stretching routine slowly. She was a little sore from the previous day, and knew that she needed to get herself prepared. "This is it," she thought to herself. Lt. Valerii knew this was what she and Chief Tyrol had talked about that night shift in the Raptor two years ago. This was why she stayed in the Colonial Fleet, why she worked so hard to be a good Raptor pilot, why she trained and drilled and conditioned herself. It usually happened much faster, she reflected. At the speed of aerospace combat and gunfights, it usually happens as a split second decision. It was a blessing, she decided, that she had time to see it coming and savor this moment beforehand. She felt more alive and aware of the universe than she ever had before. Every breath she took in her warm-up routine seemed like a precious gift. She recalled with pride the poetic expression her Chief had used to describe this chance she was given: "An opportunity to excel."

It was time. Two of the patients were headed to the clothing dispenser by the exit door. Sharon cut her last set of stretches short and walked over to the strength-training machine. She removed the resistance pin from the equipment, smiled at the doctor watching her and said, "It's just too easy with the smaller pin." While she walked to the main desk she watched the two Cylons by the door dressing themselves to leave the hospital ward. "I need the larger pin," she said casually to the doctor on duty. As she took the larger, knifelike component she wrapped her fingers hard around the handle and felt the weight it in her hand. The third doctor approached the exit door chatting amicably with the two toasters waiting to leave. Sharon turned from the main desk and her leg muscles tensed.

The exit door to the hospital ward slid open and the three Cylons standing there began to file through it oblivious of what was about to happen. Lt. Valerii bolted across the room, covered the 7-meter distance to the door in less than a second and ploughed into the other Cylons, knocking them to the floor. Sharon stumbled to regain her footing and then sprinted as hard as she could down the corridor and away from the hospital ward.

As Lt. Valerii ran she could feel the darkness from the edges of her mind trying to squeeze out her conscious thoughts. It was no longer an unfamiliar sensation and her mind strained to hold the darkness out, if only for a little while. A Cylon shaped like a tall, thin, black man stepped into the hallway from a side corridor. He stood there momentarily in shock as he saw Sharon racing towards him. "Hey, Stop!" he yelled to her, but by then she had already passed him. She could here its voice receding into the distance as it tried to pursue her. The real danger to her was the Cylon saboteur in her head that was slowly, relentlessly, squeezing the life out of Sharon Valerii's mind. She knew it was inevitable that she would lose the struggle, but every second that she could hold it off was another second she had to act as Lt. Sharon Valerii and not some damn robot spy.

She made the last turn into the corridor to the hanger, and was disappointed to find it empty. She had hoped, perhaps, that she could catch another Cylon there opening the door. If she did not get that door open soon then she wasn't going to do the Fleet any good. She reached the end of the hall and frantically looked around for some way to activate the door. The black Cylon had now turned the corner and was running down the hall toward her fast. Lt. Valerii turned and sprinted again back up the hallway. When the Cylon saw her coming he tried to stop, suddenly unsure if he wanted to catch her or not. She tackled him quickly, grabbed him in a headlock, shoved the blade in her hands under its neck, and said, "You're going to open this hanger door right now."

"I can't," it said, as Lt. Valerii dragged him over to the doorway. She pushed it into the wall beside the door, twisted its arm hard behind its back, and yelled, "You're going to open this frackin' door right now or I'm going to put your frackin' eyes out."

"I don't have that access," the Cylon responded. Sharon could hear metal footsteps approaching and realized that the toasters' security force would be upon her in just seconds.

Suddenly the hanger door beside her slid open and she heard a monotone voice say "Oh, Excuse me I...." Lt. Valerii turned and almost stumbled right into one of the maintenance Cylons. Its huge 7-foot tall, four-armed, shining metal body blocked the open doorway into the hanger. It said, "Sharon? You're…" She pushed her unhelpful prisoner into the metal machine blocking the door and roughly forced her way past it into the hanger. She turned left to sprint down the length of the hanger bay, her bare feet pounding hard on the deck plating.

Rows of Cylon Raiders filled the vast space of the hanger. Toward the end, by the clamshell doors, Lt. Valerii could see the last row was hooked up to flexible tylium fueling hoses that stretched down from the ceiling. She could feel the blackness in her mind strangling her. She felt like she was trying to run a long distance race while holding her breath. Every action she took required supreme concentration. She reached the last row of Raiders and looked across the length of them. She had held out a sliver of hope that some of the craft might be pilotable, but they were all unmanned Raiders. Starbuck had gotten into one and made it fly, but that would take minutes Lt. Valerii knew she didn't have. She could hear the metal feet pounding behind her as the four-armed monstrosity she had forced her way past at the door ran across the hanger trying to stop her. "Opportunity to excel," Sharon said to herself as she clambered quickly onto the Raider.

She straddled the crest of the hull where the nozzle of the fueling hose latched onto the fighter. Sharon held her makeshift knife in both hands and drove the tip of it hard into the tylium fueling line near the base of the nozzle. The point of the blade stuck into the hose and a fan of tylium fuel sprayed out under pressure. She made a second swing at the hose and the spray expanded into a strong jet of slick, inflammable fuel that drenched her, coated the fighter, and filled the air with explosive vapor. One spark would be enough to destroy the entire hanger and incinerate Sharon completely. Perhaps, she hoped, her death would be quick and complete enough that the Cylon saboteur living in her body could not be resurrected. Cylons around the hanger yelled and scrambled to shut off the fuel source, to stop Sharon, to safe any potential sources of ignition, or to take cover from the almost inevitable explosion.

Sharon raised the blade above her head, hoping that a hard blow from the metal tool to the fighter's hull would generate the spark she needed. Before she could swing the blade down, the four-armed Cylon monster arrived at the fighter, grabbed the edge of the wing with its pair of heavy pincers and tilted the vehicle back on its rear landing gear.

Sharon fell as the fighter heaved up, sliding backwards down the hull and off the end of the wing. She landed hard on the hanger deck with her right shoulder. The sudden pain from the impact broke her concentration momentarily and gave the Cylon saboteur struggling inside her a chance to regain control of her body. She felt the saboteur in her head as a darkness enclosing on her from the edges of her mind and threatening to suffocate her conscious thoughts. "Opportunity to excel," Sharon repeated to herself as she tried to force her body to obey her will again. "Opportunity to excel." She managed to roll over and struggle to her knees, driving back the darkness for a few more seconds.

The makeshift knife was nowhere to be seen, but just a few yards in front of her was a large tool-chest that almost certainly contained something suitably dangerous. As she tried to sprint forward though, a metal claw caught her left leg and she sprawled to the ground again. Sharon's bare skin squeaked against the hard surface of the hanger deck as her unseen attacker pulled her back across the floor by her leg. She pivoted herself onto her back to see the bulky form of the four-armed Cylon kneeling over her. It had her left leg pinned firmly in its right heavy pincer and was trying to grab her arms with its smaller, more dexterous limbs. She flailed around wildly, trying to avoid the metal claws. She could feel the tylium fuel pooling around them both as it cascaded off the fighter and spread across the floor. The metal beast caught her left arm firmly and forced it to the floor behind her head. Her right hand brushed against something hard and heavy on the floor; it was the handle of her makeshift knife that had rolled under the wing of the fighter. She stretched to the side to reach it. Her right hand closed on the knife, but the metal beast was faster and pinned her right wrist to the ground.

"Opportunity to excel." Sharon pulled her right leg in to her chest and kicked hard at the Cylon's shoulder where its two left arms met. Metal edges cut deep into her heel, but she slammed it again and again into her attacker's shoulder leaving bloody footprints and streaks across its bright sliver exterior plating.

The Cylon tried frantically to capture Sharon's leg with its large left pincer, but she was more nimble and covered with a slick mixture of tylium and blood. After a couple of seconds the Cylon leaned closer to her and rotated its left shoulder mechanism around so it could hold her right arm in place with its left pincer. When it did she shifted her aim and kicked the Cylon hard in the face, snapping its neck back and leaving a dark red blotch across its eyeslit. The Cylon succeeded, however, in freeing its more dexterous arm to catch and pin her last free limb. After one more failed try the metal Cylon managed to grab her ankle with its smaller right arm and lowered itself upon her, pinning her leg awkwardly with her bent knee against her chest.

While Sharon strained to free herself from the embrace of her monstrous attacker, an old Model 0005 approached. It knelt at her side, and touched her left shoulder lightly. She could not hear what it was saying over her own screaming, but she saw the pistol it had holstered on its hip and attempted to tear her hand free to grab it. Sharon was still struggling against the weight of the machinery pressing down upon her when the darkness finally enveloped her mind.

End of Part 1

"Did you ever think, when you were a child, what fun it would be if your toys could come to life? Well suppose you could really have brought them to life. Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh; all he sees is that the tin is being spoilt. He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it."

-C.S. Lewis

Continued in Part 2: Cylon!

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