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Family

By Emily

Word Count: 19,073
Date: 11/8/05
Series: Season 2
Rating: K+
Category: Alternate Universe
Pairing/Focus: Ensemble
Warnings:
Summary: The children of Galactica have lost the last of those who had raised them. Now they turn to the oldest of their group, Mason Thrace and Brody Adama, to figure out if Helo’s daughter really is the key to finding the thirteenth colony. Sequel to Possibility Resistance.
Spoilers/Disclaimers: The characters of Mason, Brody, Isabel, Leila, and Amy are all mine. The others, not so much.


Mason Thrace let out a slow yawn and cuddled her body in closer to the man lying next to her. It had been another hot and humid night on Caprica that had slowly filtered into a crisp and cool morning. The body heat would help until she finally broke down and got out of bed to put something on over her tank and skivvies.

She shut her eyes again for a moment to concentrate on the prayer she whispered to the gods each morning. “Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer. Keep the children of Galactica in your care while we search for the thirteenth colony. Watch out for those from whom we are far apart. Keep your child, Brody Adama, in your watchful eye, and protect the soul of Leila Zarek, who gave her life so that we might find a better place. And give us the strength to prove to the toasters that you shouldn’t frak with the children of Galactica. So say we all.”

Opening her eyes, she suddenly realized that her bed companion had awoken and was currently trying his best not to laugh. “What is so funny, Brody?” she demanded, narrowing her eyes.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use the word frak in prayer before,” he replied, pulling her in close to him again.

“I learned it from my mom,” Mason said with a laugh, relaxing under the strength of his arms. “So. Do you think Caprica’s going to finally tell us its secret today?”

“Not a chance. We’ve been here for a whole fraking year, and we aren’t one step closer to finding the location of Earth.”

“We were close with that Cylon airbase outside Caprica City.”

“We almost got blown up. Twice. And we didn‘t even get within a mile of it.”

“But we figured out what a few more of the human Cylon models looked like. That was a plus.”

Brody let out a groan and pulled his body out from under Mason’s. He grabbed his shirt off the floor and slid it onto his body. “When are you going to grow up and realize that we’re just wasting time on this planet?”

“We are not wasting time!” she exclaimed. “The key to finding Helo’s daughter is somewhere on Caprica. We just have to figure out where.”

“Mason. We don’t even know if Helo’s daughter is still alive. For all we know, something went wrong and the Cylons killed her. Or hey! Maybe she actually likes being friends with the kitchen appliances. Did you ever think of that?”

Mason sat up in bed and glared at him. “You are such a pessimist.”

“I got that from my father.”

“Don’t I know it. For years, I heard my mom complain about it, and now I guess it’s my turn. Like father, like son.” Brody stopped in the middle of pulling on his cargo pants just long enough to stick his tongue out at Mason. “Very mature. Reminds me of your comeback when you were five.”

“It’s still effective at ruffling your feathers.”

“Oh, go to hell.” Mason threw back the covers and walked over to the small speaker radio sitting on the bedside table. She pressed a button and smiled as the sound of a piano filled the room.

Brody watched her in silence as she swayed slowly to the beat. She loved hearing her grandfather play in the mornings. This particular song was Mason’s favorite for obvious reasons. The title was simply “Kara”, and it personified her mother to a T. The tempo changed every few measures, and yet there was a strong pulsing beat throughout the whole piece. Its very existence was a contradiction.

Once the song was over and she had begun to move again, Brody flopped back down onto the bed to watch her get ready. He loved watching her. “Seriously, though, Mas. What was up with that little prayer you were saying?”

“I’m just worried, that’s all. I mean, I know what we’re doing here is right, but it’s hard to be away from the rest of our group. We’ve been gone so long.”

“You think the Cylons caught up to them?”

“I think they had to have left by now. We left them on the first planet that had a livable atmosphere and sufficient water. The only promise they could give us was that they would wait as long as they could. The only promise we could give them was full of false hope. It wasn’t the best situation.”

“We could just fly back to them. Try something else. It would only take us a few hours to steal some fuel for the ships and get up into space.”

Mason’s eyes fixed on Brody in the mirror as she pulled her long, blonde hair back into a ponytail. “We can’t do that. The Cylons might follow us. Going back to them is a risk that I’m only willing to take if we actually had something worthwhile to bring back.”

Brody propped himself up on his elbows so that he could look at his best friend. “You’re their leader, Mason. You always have been. Bringing you back to them would be enough.”

“You think they can’t survive on their own?”

“Not for much longer. We have to do something.”

Mason stared at him for a second as she thought over what he was saying. After a few minutes, she shook her head. “That doesn’t fly with me. They can do it on their own. I know they can.”

“Then why do you feel the need to pray for them?”

“Can’t hurt.” She shrugged as she picked a gun up off the dresser and threw it at Brody. “Suit up, soldier. We need to go.” She grabbed her holster off the floor and clicked it into place around her waist. “The Resistance is waiting for those supplies we promised them.”

Brody slid the gun into the holster on his thigh as he stood up. “Are you sure they said they could get us the plans to the Delphi Museum?”

“As long as we got them first aid supplies and food, they promised to dig around until they came up with the old blueprints.”

“And you trust them?”

Mason rolled her eyes as she stepped into heir small kitchen. “Brody, they’ve been good to us. They helped us survive our first few months on Caprica. They offered us a place to call home.”

“All the same, I’m glad you remembered your mom had this place. I don’t want to be in debt to the Resistance. They’ve become heartless.”

“They had to be ruthless to survive, Brody,” Mason said, tossing her friend a packet of freeze-dried food. “Eat that and then we need to get a move on. The sooner we get those boxes of food and medicine to the Resistance, the quicker we can get to the Museum.”

“You really think that there’s some special object in that old building? Something that’s going to tell us how to get to Earth?”

“No, I don’t,” Mason replied softly. She pushed past him to walk out the door but paused without turning around. “But Leila did.”

Brody let the words sink in as he silently followed his best friend out the door. Mason had taken Leila Zarek’s death hard. The pint-sized girl of only fifteen had worshipped the ground Mason walked as did so many of the children of Galactica. She had begged and begged Mason to teach her how to fly, but it was a surprise to everyone when it turned out that Leila was a natural. Every moment from that day on, she was pleading to take a ship into the sky. It was as if flying became her personal oxygen.

Leila had been shot down by the Cylons when the three of them were scanning for a safe place to land their ships. Brody and Mason had been distracted, arguing about whether they should stagger their ships or just touch down in the same area when the Cylon Raider came out of nowhere. It fired directly at Leila’s Viper and then disappeared without even attempting to down the other two ships. They could do nothing but watch as Leila’s ship burst into flames and spiralled to the ground.

Brody and Mason both wondered why the Cylons had chosen to shoot Leila down and not them. What was it about her ship that made them so fearful?

At the time, mourning hadn’t been an option so they pushed everything aside as they found their way to Delphi and the apartment abandoned by Kara Thrace decades earlier. That first night, Brody had tried to play the part of the gentleman and sleep on the couch, but then Mason woke up screaming from a nightmare, ending their transparent charade. They had spent every night since then clinging to each other to prove that they were still alive.

“What are you thinking about so intensely?” Mason asked as she slid into the front seat of her mother’s old jeep-turned-tank.

“I just realized that you haven’t had a nightmare in a few weeks.”

“Not exactly,” she corrected as she turned the ignition. “I just haven’t had the kind that involves screaming or crying, that’s all.”

“I’m not going to rest until you let go of whatever’s causing you to have these things.”

Mason turned to stare at Brody. It was moments like this when she really understood how much he loved her. “Promise?”

“Promise.”

She held his eyes for a few more seconds before shifting the car into drive and pushing down on the accelerator. They had an appointment to keep.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Mason sighed and rested her chin on top of one of the boxes of supplies. “You think that they would be punctual. I mean, we do have the supplies that constitute their continued survival. Hello? Important!”

“Shhh,” Brody hissed, pulling out his gun. “I hear something.”

“It’s just them,” Mason replied but didn’t move anyway.

Within seconds, a group of people burst out of the overgrown forest that ran all the way up to the steps of the Delphi Museum. “Put your hands in the air and take a step away from the boxes,” yelled a woman at the front of the pack.

“Frak off, Sue-Shaun. We got your supplies, now where are our blueprints?”

“Frak off yourself, Thrace. Stand up and keep your hands where I can see them.”

“Is this because of what happened with Ten Point?” Mason said, standing up and doing as the ex-pyramid player asked. “Because a girl has a right to protect herself.”

“What did you do to Ten Point?” Brody hissed as he raised his own hands.

“He tried to take advantage of me,” Mason shrugged.

“It took us an hour to stop the bleeding,” Sue-Shaun said as she walked over to stand in front of the two pilots. “And he claims he has no feeling anymore.”

“Come on,” Mason scoffed. “All you resistance folk are sterile from prolonged exposure to high levels of radiation. He had no need for that thing anyway.”

“Mason!” Brody whispered. “Please tell me you didn’t do what I think you did.”

Mason bit her lip and gave a small shrug before putting her hands down. “So, where are our plans, Sue-Shaun?”

The woman hesitated a moment before reaching into her back pack and pulling out a well-faded piece of paper. “Here’s the last map we have of the building. Don’t lose it.” Sue-Shaun slapped it into Mason’s outstretched hand, shooting her one more pissed off look before she turned to leave.

“You’re welcome,” Mason yelled after them. She rolled her eyes. “They’re so ungrateful.”

“You’re not an easy person to want to give thanks to,” Brody muttered.

“You love me and you know it,” she said with a laugh. “Let’s go and something useful, flyboy.”

Brody once again found himself trailing behind his best friend, wondering why he always allowed her to pull him into her messes. He could lie and say that it was because she was the most important person in the world to him and he couldn’t stand the thought of her being on her own during these tough times, which technically was true. Or he could admit that it was fun and he loved the adrenaline rush, which was more accurate.

“See anything?” Brody asked after a few more minutes of turning down this dark corridor and avoiding decaying piles of things he didn’t even want to know about. They had been tiptoeing down dark corridors for over half an hour, hoping the walls wouldn’t give way while they were still in the building.

“No.” Mason sighed and stopped in front of an empty glass class. “I don’t think there’s anything’s left in this place.”

Brody stared at the empty marble hand in the case before leaning in to read what was left of the information plaque. “‘Arrow of Apollo’. Hmmm. I’d say that was a sign from the gods… if only there was actually something in there.”

“Your father was a good man, but he was not a god,” Mason sneered.

“Your mother seemed to think so,” Brody shot back.

Mason turned and shook her head at him. “Do not turn this into another debate about my mother.”

“I wasn’t! I’m just saying that Starbuck thought highly of my father. Perhaps he was a god in her eyes.”

“He was cute,” Mason conceded. “If he wasn’t so old and my mother wasn‘t so damn protective of him, I probably would have fraked him myself.”

Brody stared at her in disgust. “That‘s my father you‘re talking about,” he reminded her. “Gross.”

“You asked for it.”

Brody tried to push Mason’s disturbing image from his mind and started looking around the room. “This is an awfully large room. I’m amazed that it’s still in tact.”

“Maybe it’s because this was the room devoted to the artifacts of the Lords of Kobol. Maybe the gods are still watching over it.”

“Well, the gods obviously aren’t watching over us. At least not today.” Brody sighed as he surveyed the room again. “There’s nothing here. So what do we do now?”

“What else? Keep looking until we find something that might help us.”

Brody’s eyes caught a bit of movement, and he almost laughed aloud at the absurdity that something was actually alive in the old Delphi Museum. Even so, it was better to be safe than sorry. “I think there’s something in here,” he whispered, pulling his gun out of his holster.

Mason tried to look in the same direction he was. “I don’t see anything.”

“Something was moving over there a few seconds ago.”

“Put the gun away and stop being so jumpy.”

“I swear to the gods, Mason, I saw something.”

“Like what? A Lord of Kobol in human form sent here to guide our steps? You’ve been reading too much scripture, Brody.”

Brody was about to answer her when a voice interrupted. “I’m not a Lord of Kobol if that’s really what you’re expecting.”

The two pilots turned to see a thin girl step out of the shadows of the domed room. Her clothes looked like they had been worn every day since the Cylon Holocaust and hung loosely on her body. Her face looked gaunt, an obvious sign that the girl had been eating little and yet the stranger’s eyes glowed with a brightness that did not match the rest of her appearance. Neither Mason nor Brody had ever seen anything like it.

Mason wasn’t surprised for long, though. She drew both her guns from her belt and trained on the newcomer. “Who the frak are you?”

“My name is Isabel. This is my home.”

“You’ve been staying in this highly trafficked, highly radioactive area since the Cylons attacked?” Brody asked.

“Don’t be stupid,” Mason interjected before the girl could respond. “She doesn’t even look old enough to drive. She wasn’t alive when the Holocaust happened.”

“I’m seventeen,” Isabel corrected stubbornly. “And just because I wasn’t alive when the Cylons first attacked doesn’t mean I haven’t had to hide from them all my life. I am stuck on this planet so I had to live somewhere. This place seemed as good as any.”

Mason shot Brody a funny look. They didn’t know who this girl was, but she was much too free with the information. It was popping up red flags all over the place.

“Where are your parents?” Brody asked, trying his best to ignore how odd this whole situation was and stay logical. There were at least two Cylon models out there that hadn’t been identified yet, and this girl could easily be one of them. It would certainly explain her behavior and presence in the museum.

“My mother died when she accidentally stumbled upon a Centurian. I was only two years old. My brother and sister died in the Cylon attacks long before I was born so I never even knew them. It was just my father and me up until I was ten. When he realized that the radiation was killing him, he taught me everything I needed to know to survive. Been on my own ever since.”

“And you’ve been surviving without anyone else‘s help since then?”

“Yeah. Is that so hard to believe?” Isabel raised her chin in defiance of Mason’s open skepticism.

Mason’s mind jumped to all the children who had grown up with them on their little, nameless planet. They had only had her mother, Lee, and Old Cal. They had raised over forty children, with the help of Mason and Brody when they were old enough, without assistance. It was unconventional, but each child had turned out just fine.

Even so, Mason felt the situation was starting to get a little too strange. It was time to put this kid on the spot. “Why the frak are you talking to us?” she demanded.

“Smooth, Mason,” Brody whispered.

“I want an answer,” she barked at Isabel.

“You’re the first humans I’ve seen in over three months.”

“How do you know we’re not machines?” Mason asked.

“I know each and every model of Cylon. You are not Cylons.”

“Handy. So I take it you’ve met the Resistance?” Mason asked as she lowered her guns. She didn’t feel comfortable enough to put them away, but the least she could do was get them out of Isabel’s face.

“I avoid them. They’re kind of creepy when you get right down to it. I mean, they’ve been here for twenty years or so, and they haven’t once tried to get off the planet. What‘s up with that?”

“You’ve been here seventeen,” Brody pointed out.

“And I’ve tried to find a way off every day,” Isabel said. She gave him a small shrug before twisting to pull a gun out from behind her back. “Some of it hasn’t been so easy.”

“Damnit,” Mason swore as she raised her guns again. “I knew you were fraked up in the head, but I didn‘t think you were insane.”

“I’m not going to shoot you,” Isabel said. “You’re obviously stuck on this planet, too. I thought you might be able to help me.”

“Why?”

“I’ve been tracking you two the whole time you’ve been in this museum. I can see the hope in both of you. It’s in every single thing you do. That makes you different from every single person in the Resistance. Like them, I reconciled myself to dying a long time ago. ” She shrugged. “I‘ve grown up knowing that all I had to look forward to was dying, but I never really accepted it. I figured there had to be a way off of this gods-forsaken planet. I will do whatever and I will kill whomever I have to as long as it gets me away from here. I just want to make that clear.”

There was only a small click as Isabel ejected the magazine of her gun and flung the useless piece of metal towards Brody. Mason watched as the girl turned to look at her, tears pooling in her eyes. “I need to get off this planet before it kills me,” she whispered. “Before I turn into something I abhor. Please. Help me.”

Mason turned to Brody and saw her own surprise and confusion mirrored in his eyes. He had no idea what to do with this mysterious Isabel character either. And he was deferring to her judgment like always.

She turned back to look at the girl in front of her. There was something in her eyes that told Mason she wasn’t making this up. She looked desperate.

“You remind me of myself,” Mason said with a laugh as she holstered both her guns. “Way too melodramatic for your own good, kid.”

“You’re actually going to help me?” Isabel said, staring in awe at the woman in front of her.

“You’re actually going to help her?” Brody repeated.

“Shut up, Brody. She’s just another lost child like the rest of us.” Mason turned to look at the girl in question. “We’ll do what we can, but I can‘t promise anything.”

Brody sighed and put his own gun away. “Does this mean we’re done with the pointless searching?”

“For now,” Mason answered. She held the map out to him. “Hold on to this. We’ll be coming back.”

Brody groaned but took the piece of paper from her and shoved it into the pocket on his thigh.

Mason smirked at him. “Cheer up, Brod. This way, we’ll get home in time for an afternoon nap!”

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Isabel woke with a start and practically fell off the couch. She looked around the room as a loud metallic clanging bounced off the walls. The guy… Brody… was still sleeping in the bed he and Mason seemed to share, but Mason was nowhere to be found. Isabel pulled herself to her feet and tried to figure out where the noise was coming from.

Isabel looked around and decided that the apartment had seen better days. It was bordering on filthy, with decades-old paint smears on the walls and the forest outside creeping in through the broken windows. The front door to the apartment was missing, obviously kicked in years earlier, and the fence around the apartment complex had a gate which creaked when it opened.

Still, it held a warmth that Isabel had never found in the cold marble of the Delphi Museum.

Sighing, she enjoyed the feel of the rising sun beating down on her face as the noise that woke her slowly grew louder. Caprica always felt like a ghost planet on mornings like this.

Isabel smiled at the feeling of calm that washed over her as she stepped into the garage. When she saw what was inside, it took all her control to keep from laughing. There was a rather sad looking remnant of a Cylon Raider in the middle of the floor and a woman behind a welder’s mask straddling on top.

There was another two ships sitting in the garage. The first one was easily recognizable as a Viper Mark VII. They had been standard Colonial issue about twenty years ago, and Isabel had seen plenty in her lifetime. The toasters had never taken the time to clean up the leftover wreckage from Caprica’s last stand.

The other ship, though, was completely new. It looked like a hodge podge of several ships, but unlike the Raider Brody and Mason were working on, this one looked like something from the gods. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.

When she noticed Isabel standing and staring at her beloved Galactica‘s Child, Mason pushed the mask back and wiped the sweat off her brow. “Perfect, isn’t she?”

“Yeah,” Isabel said with a smile.

“You’re up early, kid.”

“You woke me up.”

“You mean you could hear this over Brody’s snoring?”

Isabel laughed at Mason’s joke and walked over to the destroyed ship. “What is this thing?”

“Cylon Raider. Thought you’d recognize it.”

“I know it’s a Raider. I guess I should have asked why you’re fixing it.”

“I’m not fixing it,” Mason said, grinning as she slid the mask completely off her head. She hopped down off the top of the Raider and dropped the welding torch into a toolbox. “I’m improving it.”

“Why would you want to do that?”

“You ask a lot of questions.”

“You do a lot of strange things,” Isabel countered.

Mason rolled her eyes before pulling her tank up to wipe some of the dirt and sweat off her face. “I’m building a hybrid ship from the scrap of a Viper and the body of this Raider. It takes the best parts of both ships and melds them together. Makes a fast ship that can out maneuver anything in the Fl--” Mason’s voice cut off as she realized she would have to stop talking about the Fleet. There was no Fleet. The thought made her uncomfortable, and she turned to start work on the fuel line.

“Where did you come from?” Isabel said after a moment.

Mason‘s eyes held Isabel‘s for a second before she sighed and responded to the question. “Not from anywhere you’ve ever known. I was born on a ship called Galactica. It was the only Battlestar to make it through the Cylon attacks. My mother raised me. She was the best pilot they had.”

“And your father?” Isabel said, taking a step forward.

“I never knew him.”

“Oh.”

Mason shrugged and moved to lie underneath the ship. “It’s not that big a deal.”

“I don’t know,” Isabel said as she sat down on the ground. “Seems to me it would be kind of lonely.”

“There were plenty of people around to help raise me. I had Brody’s father. He was the one that taught me how to play pyramid when I was seven, and he was there when I took my first baby steps and when I said my first words.”

“It sounds like he was your father,” Isabel said.

“Lee was there for me in a lot of ways. He was my mother’s best friend.”

“Was?”

“He died a little over a year ago doing what he did best.”

“What was that?”

“Flying with my mom.” Mason let out a grunt as she tried to tighten a screw in the fuel line. “Why are you so interested in my past, Isabel?”

“I don’t know,” Isabel replied. “It’s nice to know that there were people surviving while I was down here on Caprica doing the same. Just chalk it up to curiosity.”

“People who are too curious about me usually end up getting decked when their questions get too personal,” Mason warned her. “Just ask, Brody. I’ve hit him too many times to count.”

“Yeah. About Brody… you two seem pretty close.”

Mason paused in her tinkering but didn’t look at Isabel. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you’re really comfortable around each other, you sleep in the same bed, and you practically finish each other’s sentences. I’ve seen the way you look at each other. I guess it just makes me wonder.”

Isabel’s words rang through her head, and because Mason rather liked this new girl, she actually entertained some the subject. Brody had been with her for as long as she could remember. He was her rock, just as her mother and Brody’s father had been to each other. It made sense that she would be comfortable around him. He was the one person she trusted unconditionally.

But were they too close? Mason admitted that their relationship had taken a definite shift when they reached Caprica. However, they had both witnessed the death of a friend and they were stuck on a war-torn planet with no real leads. Of course, they would rely on each other more.

Why was she freaking out over the idea that maybe the love she felt for Brody was starting to change? Relationships changed all the time. Mason’s mind immediately flew to her mother and Lee as a perfect example of that. They had been many different things to one another throughout their lives so it made sense that she and Brody would go through the same shift sort of shifts.

Isabel’s tone was bordering on disapproving, and Mason felt her blood begin to boil as she went back to the repairs. Who did this kid think she was to start judging her? And why was she even taking the time to let this brat upset her?

After another minute of silent repairs, Mason finally calmed herself enough to answer the question she had been asked. “Brody and I are just friends, Isabel. We’re comfortable with one another because we’re all we have for now.”

“For now?”

Mason frowned a little as Isabel returned to her pestering and she began to think that the girl was deliberately fishing for information. Mason chided herself for being so suspicious and decided that maybe she was just lonely and wanted to talk.

Mason weighed her options carefully before deciding there was no harm in giving Isabel a little history lesson. Besides which if she kept feeding Isabel information maybe the kid would slip up and give Mason a clue as to her real reasons for being so damn inquisitive. “There are others out there, children from the crew of Galactica saved by my mother. That’s why Brody and I are on Caprica. The others are stranded out there waiting for us to bring them the directions to the thirteenth colony of Kobol, but they’re all so young that we really couldn’t put up much of a fight if the Cylons found us. We left them behind for their own safety.”

“But what’s on Caprica that could help you? This planet has been picked clean of everything of any importance.”

Mason rolled out from underneath the Viper, having fixed the fuel line, and picked up a rag to wipe the grease off her hands. “We aren’t looking for a something. We’re looking for a someone.”

“You came to a planet devastated by a nuclear holocaust looking for someone? That’s just stupid. Everyone’s dead!”

“You’re not,” Mason pointed out with a glare. “And the person we’re looking for isn’t either. The Cylons would never kill her.”

“She sounds like someone awfully special.”

“She’s the lost child of Galactica, and she’s pretty much the only fraking hope we have left.”

“Tell me about her?”

Mason turned to look at Isabel who was still sitting on the ground next to the Raider. “Why do I get the feeling that you’re pumping me for information this morning?”

“I told you. I just want to know.”

“Not good enough,” Mason said, shaking her head.

“I could probably help you find her,” Isabel said. “I’ve lived on Caprica my whole life just like you’ve always lived in space.”

“I never said I always lived in space. I just said I was born there,” Mason corrected her.

“Whatever. I’m just pointing out that giving me a little information might end your quest a lot quicker.”

Mason studied Isabel’s face for a moment before sighing and leaning against a nearby crate. “All right. This girl we’re looking for is the child of one of Galactica’s pilots and a Cylon.”

“No way. A Cylon-Human hybrid is an urban legend,” Isabel exclaimed.

“Nope. Brody and I have seen the farms first hand. In the beginning, following the first attack, the Cylons were desperate to create a hybrid. They experimented with every human female they could get their hands on but had no luck. It didn’t take them long to realize that they were missing something important in their process.”

“Don’t tell me. They needed something sappy like love?”

“It’s what they said. Helo, that’s the ECO that I was talking about, fell in love with a Cylon right here on this planet. A copy of that model had been his partner and pilot on Galactica. She told him that she had been sent to bring him back to the Fleet. No one really knows what happened after that, but I do know that he told my mother about the daughter he had left behind on Caprica.”

“He just abandoned his kid?”

“He didn’t want to,” Mason said. “In fact, he spent every moment after her birth protecting her. I think he might have stayed on this planet forever to keep her safe, but the Cylons took her. It’s a long story, and one my mother never really got around to telling me.” She shrugged. “All I know are the bits and pieces hat I picked up in passing.”

“Do you have any reason to believe that this hybrid is the key to your salvation?”

Mason shot Isabel an annoyed look and suppressed the urge to hit her. Instead, she began to explain again. “Laura Roslin, the first President of the Twelve Colonies after the attack, gave us a prophecy on her deathbed. She claimed that there would be a child, created by a human and a machine, born shortly after her death. The child would decide the outcome of the war between the Cylons and humanity. No one believed her.” Mason pre-empted Isabel’s next question by explaining that the president had suffered hallucinations because of the treatments she had been receiving for her illness.

“What changed?” Isabel asked.

“Helo came back.”

“And?”

“And I don’t really know. I warned you that a lot of information was missing from the story.”

“But there was enough to make you confident that Caprica was the place you needed to be?”

“Helo’s daughter is on this planet somewhere,” Mason said, her voice sure and confident. “If we can find her, she’ll be the key. The prophecy says that she can show us how to defeat the Cylons and that she will show us the way to Earth. And that’s all we really have. My whole world was destroyed when I was six by the same Cylon that gave birth to this kid. She killed everyone on Galactica except for the children that were smuggled away and those children are why Brody and I are here. They deserve to live a life without having to fear that there‘s always something around the corner waiting to kill them.”

“All right. I get why you came here, but I still don’t get the ship.”

Mason looked at the hybrid ship she had slowly been piecing together for over ten months. “There was nothing better to do.” Letting out a small sigh, Mason turned to Isabel. “Brody and I still haven’t found her. It’s been a whole year and we’ve got nothing.”

“You don’t even have a theory?”

“We think that the Cylons might be keeping her hostage in the ruins of Caprica City. Every time we’ve tried to get within ten feet of it, the toasters jump down our throats. To do this right, we’re going to need at least three ships to run an offensive assault on them.”

“But there’s only two of you.”

“I know. We had a third pilot once. She died.” The weight of the words hung between them for a moment as Mason silently remembered Leila and her sacrifice. There was a small clink as a piece of the Raider fell to the ground, making Mason groan. “I’m building the ship anyway. I figure that someone in the Resistance has to be halfway skilled at flying. Give me a few days in the cockpit with them and I could teach them the rest.”

Mason grabbed her welding mask and torch from the floor and walked toward the Raider. She reattached the piece and prayed that, this time, it would hold. She wasn’t working under the best conditions at the moment, and she didn’t have Cally there to point out her mistakes anymore. This was all Mason and there was a lot riding on her handiwork.

Flipping the mask up to reveal her face, she turned to Isabel. “Right now I just want to finish the ship and find something equally valuable to trade Sue-Shaun for one of her people. The lady drives a hard bargain .”

Isabel reached out tentatively to touch the nose of the Viper-Raider hybrid. “I can fly it.”

“What?” Mason said.

“I could fly it,” Isabel repeated, still staring at the ship in front of her.

“How could you have possibly found time to learn to fly Colonial ships while being hunted by the toasters?”

“You weren’t the only one with a parent from the military,” Isabel hissed coldly. “Not everyone made it off the planet when the Cylons attacked.”

Mason reached over to gently rest her hand on Isabel’s. “Your father?”

Isabel pulled away from the contact and looked at Mason in confusion. She quickly wiped her face of all emotion before she said, “My father was a Raptor pilot. It‘s why we survived for as long as we did.”

The two women lapsed into another silence before Mason nodded . “So you think you can fly this thing?”

“I know I can fly this thing.”

“Good. Once it’s finished, we’ll know for sure.” Mason threw the towel clutched in her hand down onto the cold cement. “Now, I’m tired and cold and I’m going back to bed.”

“I think I’ll stay out here, familiarize myself with the ship.”

Mason paused at the open door to the garage. “I’m going to get this out of the way right now before I forget. You don’t want to frak with me, Isabel. If I find out that you’re lying to me or that you’re a Cylon, I will make you wish you had never found us in the museum. I’ve spent the last fifteen years struggling to stay alive, and I’ve gotten good at it. You take me on, little girl? You’re going to lose.”

Mason shot her one last threatening look before leaving the garage. She kept her posture firm until she knew Isabel couldn’t see her anymore, and then she sagged. Mason’s back was killing her and, as much as she had enjoyed scaring the living hell out of the newcomer, she just wanted to curl up beside Brody and let herself go for a few hours.

Sometimes it scared her to know how much like her mother she was.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

“How’s it flying, Isabel?” Brody asked.

Isabel waggled the wings of the Raider-Viper hybrid in response. “It’s nice to be in the air.”

“When was the last time you flew?”

“I stole a Raider when I was sixteen. Took out a Cylon ship all by my lonesome before I ran out of fuel.”

“Wow. That’s impressive.”

“If you two would stop flirting for a moment, we’re almost there,” Mason said, cutting into their conversation.

“You sound jealous, Mas,” Brody told her and laughed at Mason’s answering snort.

“She can have you for all I care. I just don’t want you two to screw up my chance of getting into Caprica City.”

“How far are we?”

“Closer than the last time.”

“Mason? Promise me that we won’t risk being blown up this time.”

“I can’t promise you anything, Brody.”

“You two almost got blown up?” Isabel asked, fear clear in her voice.

“Twice,” Mason said proudly. “Now buckle down people. We have incoming.”

The Raider-Viper hybrid, Galactica’s Child, and Brody’s Viper fell into line as a squadron of Raiders began to bear down on them from the west.

“Good hunting, Mason,” Brody whispered.

“Be careful, Brody.”

The three ships split apart and began to dog fight. It was hard to keep track of where everyone was between the loud explosions and twisting metal, but Mason did her best. It seemed as if Isabel was finally getting the hang of flying again and she began to make kills left and right. There was some damage to the right wing of her ship, but it didn’t seem to be anything that could ground her.

Brody, on the other hand, was in definite trouble. “Adama! What the frak did you do to your ship?” Mason yelled as she pulled in close to him.

“I was protecting your ass, Thrace. A Cylon almost shot you down back there.” She could hear the strain in Brody’s voice, and it made her whole body clench in fear. “How bad is it?”

“Your left thruster is out, and that’s a mighty bad gash you have down your port side. I think you might lose the tail of your plane.”

“Take Isabel and go, Mason.”

Even though she knew that was what he was going to say, Mason couldn’t believe it. She locked eyes with him through their canopies, and she wanted to cry. “No! I am not leaving you!”

“You need to get this done. We’ve never gotten this close before.”

“No.” Mason pulled her ship into a steep dive to follow Brody’s broken ship.

“There are people out there depending on you, Mason. Do your job!”

“Shut the frak up, Brody. I am not leaving you no matter what you say. I need you with me. Just land your ship in one piece and we’ll go from there.” She wasn’t surprised to hear the comm channel completely silent. She knew he was pissed. “Isabel? How you fairing?”

“There’s a handful of Raiders left, but I think I can handle them on my own.”

“I’m landing with Brody. When you have a spare moment, tune in to my comm signal and find us.”

“Can my ship do that?”

Mason didn’t have time to answer her as Brody’s ship was about to hit the ground. She needed to focus. Moreover, she didn’t want to tell Isabel that she had no idea if the hybrid could do that or not. Isabel‘s ship was completely new ground for them all, and Mason hadn‘t had enough time to go through all of its capabilities.

Pushing all thoughts away, she focused on the landing procedures necessary to get her ship on the ground even as she glanced over at Brody’s ship to make sure he was doing the same. She watched in awe as his Viper did a half barrel roll to the right, then the left, and finally back to the right in an effort to use wind resistance to slow down the thrust of his ship. Twice, she thought he was going to slam right into a tree but both times he pulled back just in time. Brody’s skill in the cockpit was unparallel as his Viper touched down with barely any noise.

Mason had gotten one thing right in all this. The tail of Brody’s Viper fell off as soon as it made contact with the ground. Luckily there were no tell-tale sparks that might be a precursor to fire. She could handle a little smoke. Popping the canopy of her ship up, Mason hopped down to the ground, not caring that she was too high up to make a comfortable landing.

Brody was already pulling himself from the wreckage of his ship as she got closer. She waited until he had both feet planted on the ground before she threw her arms around him as tight as she could manage. He cringed at her strength but tightened his own arms around her as well.

Mason didn’t know what shifted, but something changed because all of the sudden, she tilted her head and Brody leaned down and they were kissing. She wasn’t sure which one of them had actually initiated it, but it was obvious that neither of them were fighting it.

In the back of Mason’s mind, an annoying little voice kept screaming that this was her best friend. This was the only person in the whole world she cared about. She shouldn’t be doing this. More importantly, she shouldn’t want to be doing this.

Then Brody pulled her in tighter and Mason lost all ability to decipher right from wrong. She had waited nineteen years to find out if her suspicions about her best friend were true. The way he gently nibbled on her bottom lip as the space between them grew smaller, combined with the current path his hands were taking all over her body, were all the evidence she needed.

Brody Adama was a fraking great kisser.

The kiss ended almost as quickly as it began, leaving only one thought beyond in Mason’s head.

Friends don’t kiss friends like that if they were just friends. Right?

“You’re insane, Thrace,” Brody whispered, resting his forehead against hers.

“Beyond insane,” she corrected, looking up at the sky. “Look at that girl go.”

Brody glanced up at the sky for a moment before he frowned. “There’s something she’s not telling us,” he said. He held his friend’s gaze for a second and she could see all of his fears in his eyes.

“I know.”

“We can’t trust her,” he said as he grabbed Mason’s arm and started to pull her towards the cover of the trees.

“She’s gotten us this far. And she hasn’t betrayed us yet.”

“You’re too trusting,” Brody said and then gave her a smile. “It’s kind of cute.”

She was about to throw a snarky comment his way when she suddenly found herself hauled against him and they were kissing again. This time, it was definitely Brody who initiated it. Not that she minded but things were spiraling out of control quickly for a few moments.

A moment later, Brody pulled away and pain radiated across his face. His hands slid from where they held Mason close, and one reached up to clutch his shoulder. She didn’t even realize what was happening until blood completely coated his hand and Cylons surrounded them. Brody’s legs gave out, and Mason barely had time to wrap her arms around him and ease him down to the ground before the sound of clicking barrels filled her ears.

As Mason moved her hands to put pressure on his wound, she softly whispered for Brody to hang on. She didn’t know what she was going to do, but she knew that she had to keep Brody calm.

A soft noise forced Mason to tear her eyes away from her fallen friend, and she found herself staring into the eyes of the woman who had killed so many of the people she had loved. “Boomer.”

“You know me?” the woman who had once been Sharon Valerii said.

“You killed my father,” Mason said, narrowing her eyes.

“I’ve killed a lot of people’s fathers.”

“You’d remember mine.” Mason glared at the Cylon for a moment before turning her attention to Brody. She noticed his eyes starting to drop shut as consciousness slipped away. She turned back to the Cylon and the squad of Centurians that surrounded them. “Are you going to shoot us or just stare us to death?”

“You look familiar,” Boomer said. “Did I kill your mother, too?”

Mason was about to respond when the Cylon traitor rammed the butt of a gun into the base of her skull. She was far too busy holding on to Brody, and her temper, to see it coming. As the pain overtook her senses, Mason gripped her best friend as tight as she could and thought that maybe the harsh life they’d been living would end now.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Mason’s next conscious though was that her whole body was shaking violently. She lashed out with her fists and was satisfied to connect with something. That would show the Cylons! Just because she was unconscious didn’t mean Mason Thrace could be tossed around.

“Mason! Would you fraking wake up and stop hitting me?”

The sound of Isabel’s voice jarred her eyes open. The younger girl hovered over Mason, looking as if she had just run a marathon. “How the frak did you get here?” Mason asked. “Don’t tell me you saved our asses?”

Isabel’s eyes nervously shifted to look at something on her right before coming back to rest on Mason. “Not exactly.”

Mason’s eyes focused up at the ceiling above her. The last thing she could recall was being outside with Boomer holding a gun to her head and Brody lying bleeding…

The memories of what had happened suddenly returned, and Mason’s heart dropped. Ignoring the pain in her head, she pulled herself up off the ground. “Where’s Brody? He was right here with me two seconds ago. Where is he?”

Isabel grabbed Mason’s shoulders and pushed her against the wall. “Settle down. He’s right over there.”

Mason whipped her head around to see that Isabel was telling the truth. Brody was propped up against one wall of what appeared to be a brig cell. She didn’t know how they had gotten there or why Isabel was with them, nor did she care. The only thing that mattered was that her best friend was near her and he was still breathing. Gritting her teeth, she crawled until she was next to him. “Brody?” she whispered, reaching out a hand out to make sure he was real.

His eyes slowly opened, and he gave her a small smile. “Hi.”

Tears pooled in her eyes when she noticed the pain in his eyes. He was hurting, and they were stuck in a cell that probably had a thousand toasters guarding it. Mason knew this was all her fault, but she didn‘t have time for guilt right now. That would come later. When they got out of their prison. “Are you okay?”

“The bleeding stopped a few hours ago,” Isabel offered from where she stood. “The Cylons took him away for a little while. I think they stitched him up.”

“You didn’t check?” Mason hissed. Her hands went to the spot on his shirt that had been soaked through with blood. When she pulled it back, she was happy to see that there were carefully sewn stitches where there should have been a bullet hole. “Why would they patch you up?” she mused, more to herself than anything.

“Maybe they think he’s important,” Isabel said, answering for Brody who had closed his eyes again.

“Could you give us a second?” Mason snapped.

Isabel froze in the middle of walking over to where the two pilots sat. She glared at Mason but went to the opposite side of the cell without another word.

“Brody. You need to wake up,” she said urgently. “I’m going to get us out of here.”

“No, you’re not,” he argued. “We’re pretty much in lockdown, Mason. They’re being awful careful with us. We’re important to them, and I think it has something to do with her. The Cylons seem to be in awe of her.”

“I don’t care about the fraking toasters right now! I need you to tell me that you can push the pain aside long enough to get out of here. There are people counting on us.”

“Oh, now you worry about the people depending on us?”

“Shut up.”

Brody let out a small laugh. “You can’t even be nice to me when I’m dying.”

Mason felt all the blood drain from her face with his feeble attempt at humor. He almost sounded like he believed what he was saying. “You are not dying, you melodramatic idiot. They shot you in the shoulder. People get shot in the shoulder all the time and it doesn‘t kill them.”

“It still hurt,” he muttered.

“Oh, Brody,” Mason said as the tears started to pour down her face. “You need to stop doing this to me.”

“Doing what?”

“Pretending like you can just go away and I’ll be fine with it.” Her right hand gripped his tightly as her left hand reached out to brush the side of his face. “I need you by my side if we’re going to get this done. I can’t do it alone.”

“You have Isabel.”

“She’s not the same as you. Frak! I don’t even know if I can trust Little Miss Secrets over there.”

Brody pulled his hand from hers as he reached to brush the tears away from her cheeks. She tried to move away, but he wasn’t having it. “I’m not going to die on you, Mason,” he said, his voice soft. “I promise. We just need to wait a few hours. Then I’ll be right by your side when we bust out of here.”

“I’m holding you to that,” Mason said as she rested her cheek against his palm. For a second, she thought that he might try to kiss her again and the thought filled her heart with both hope and dread.

They were close enough that she could feel the heat radiating off his lips when the cell door slid open with a bang. Mason jumped away from Brody and watched in awe as the Cylon model known as Leoben Conoy stepped in and set a tray of bread down onto the floor. The toaster never took his eyes off Isabel. Mason waited for the thing to start bowing at her feet.

“Would you mother frakers stop staring at me?” Isabel yelled before turning to look out the small window.

The Cylon looked like it wanted to say something but held back. Mason watched as he kicked the tray of food onto the dirty ground and left their cell. “That was smart,” she whispered to Brody.

“She’s probably new to this whole prison thing.”

“And we’re aren’t?”

“We had the stories from our parents. Gives us a little advantage.”

“Whatever,” Mason said, standing up. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go interrogate the liar over there because you got yourself shot and can’t do it.”

“All in my master plan,” Brody sang as Mason made her way over to stand in front of Isabel. The more familiar sound of Brody’s joking tone lightened her heart. She clung to that little bit of normalcy in their current mess.

She had been scared at first by how tired Brody had looked even though it made sense in the context of what they had just gone through. The fact that he had returned to his usual state of banter made her feel like he might actually be all right.

With that hope firmly planet in her mind, she turned her attention to Isabel. They had only known her a few days, but Mason had observed enough to know she was acting strange. The feisty little pain in the ass they had found in that museum would not have slunk off to the opposite corner of the cell to give Mason and Brody some private time. She would have pestered them and butted in on their private moment.

Mason watched Isabel for few seconds as she tried to push her concerns for their plight out of her mind. The girl didn’t tear her eyes away from the window, almost as if she knew what was about to happen. Mason decided to start nice. “So, do you have any clue what’s going on?”

“No.”

“You don’t know anything?”

“Not a thing.”

All right then. Clearly Isabel wasn’t feeling particularly chatty so maybe nice wasn‘t the right approach. “Listen. I don’t know you that well, and I’ve given you a lot of leeway when it comes to being a complete burden to Brody and me. This whole sudden pouting thing though? Not really helping me keep the calm. So I suggest, if you still want to use those fingers, stop lying and start explaining to me why the Cylons seem to be treating you like a golden goddess.”

Isabel still didn’t turn from the window. Mason’s threats were apparently starting to lose their effect.

“Mason! Don’t do anything stupid,” Brody called from where he lay on the floor.

“Like what?” she asked before grabbing a fistful of Isabel’s hair and throwing her to the ground. Isabel had no time to react, let alone defend herself, as Mason straddled the fallen girl and rammed her fist into Isabel’s face. Making sure to keep Isabel’s arms pinned, Mason gripped her throat tightly and leaned in to whisper, “If you want me to stop, you’ll explain what you’re lying about and why. Now.”

“I didn’t want you to hurt me. That‘s why I lied, you fraking bitch,” Isabel hissed, tasting the blood in her mouth.

“Well, your plan didn’t work very well, did it?”

“Get off her, Mason,” Brody insisted as he pulled himself to his feet. “She’s not the enemy.

“How do you know that?” Mason demanded even as she slid herself off the other girl.

“She’s in this cell with us, isn’t she?”

“That doesn’t mean anything,” Isabel whispered as she sat up and rubbed her jaw. “Where the hell did you learn to punch like that?”

“My mother,” Mason answered shortly. “Start talking before I show you my killer left hook.”

“Fine. Do you want the back story or the punch line?”

“Hit me with the hard stuff, kid. As you can tell, I don‘t have much in the way of patience.”

“I’m who you’re looking for. You came to this planet to find someone, and I‘m her.”

“No,” Mason said shaking her head as she desperately looked at Brody for support. “She can’t be.”

“Why not?” Isabel asked. “Because I lied to you? Because I made up some story about a happy little family? Because I look and act like you when I‘ve been raised by the machines? Or is it because I want off this planet as badly as you do?”

“All of the above.” Mason shook her head. “You’re not her, kid. They‘ve been feeding you fairy tales.”

“Let her talk before you doubt her,” Brody said, shuffling over to stand next to Mason. “Tell us the truth now because I won’t be able to stop her again.”

“I don’t remember my mother at all. I barely remember my father. He disappeared when I was too young to know what was happening. Some blonde-haired woman found me and told me that she was supposed to take care of me. Feed me some bullshit about Helo having left me behind for her to find. Fraking Cylon bitch.”

Mason didn’t give her any reaction, but she found herself wondering why Isabel was swearing so much all of the sudden. She hadn’t uttered so much as a single frak since they had found each other, and now she was spouting swear words like a Picon sailor. It was just plain odd.

“It took me until my ninth birthday to realize that there was something wrong. I finally noticed that the people who were raising me never got older, that they didn‘t really act as I knew they ought to and that they were cold to me most of the time.”

“Raised by Cylons. That had to be interesting,” Brody joked, earning a glare from Mason.

“I escaped when I was eleven. Though in truth, I’m not sure if it was an escape so much as they just let me go. Whatever they were trying to find out from me, I didn‘t know”

“The location of Earth,” Mason explained. “That’s what they wanted.”

“I know that now. I’ve seen firsthand what these people could do, but it’s so hard to accept. They gave me food and shelter. They kept me alive when I had no one.”

“So you figure you owe them?” Mason asked. “I have news for you, little girl. They are using you. As soon as they figure out how to get what they want, they will kill you. You are the one thing that could destroy everything they‘ve ever planned. That makes you expendable.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Isabel said sharply. “That’s exactly why I’m never going to give it them.”

Mason’s eyes went wide, and she heard Brody’s breath catch beside her as they both realized what Isabel had just let slip. “You know how to get to Earth.”

Isabel paused for a few seconds, realizing the slip of the tongue she had just made. She nodded her head slowly. “I’ve just been waiting until I could get away from the Cylons, until I could find myself a ship.”

“Which I conveniently gave you,” Mason groaned. “Why didn’t you just take off when we got airborne?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I meant to. Then I heard you and Brody joking over the comms, and I thought about why you were here and what had happened to all those people who died that day on Galactica.” She shrugged. “I can’t help but feel responsible for that.”

“You didn’t even know who your mother was,” Brody reminded her, stepping forward to place his hand gently on her shoulder. “The guilt isn’t yours to bear.”

“That doesn’t make it any easier,” Isabel said, pulling away from him. “Look. I just want to get off this fraking hellhole of a planet. I didn’t lie to you about that.”

“How are we supposed to trust you? You could be working with the Cylons. You already said that you feel grateful to them.” Mason looked the girl in front of her up and down. “Frak. For all we know, you are a Cylon.”

“Gods! You’re never going to believe me, are you?”

“No,” Mason spit, glaring at her. “Never.”

Isabel narrowed her eyes, absorbing the message Mason was trying to give her, and then Mason watched helplessly as something finally slipped in Isabel‘s face. The girl, who had looked so wounded and frightened only seconds earlier, stood up a little straighter and pushed her shoulders back while raising her chin. The tears that had been pooling in her eyes suddenly disappeared, and she cocked her head to the side to study the two people in front of her. “Isn’t that a chance you’re willing to take? You’ve been on this planet far too long, Mason. I know. I’ve been watching you the whole time. You haven’t exactly been quiet. It really intrigued us to watch you. You were just so… so human. It was something we haven‘t seen in a long time.”

Mason unconsciously reached out to grasp Brody’s hand as Isabel kept talking. “Something’s wrong with her,” she whispered out of the corner of her mouth.

Brody glanced at his best friend in confusion before turning to stare at their cellmate. “Isabel?”

“Is that her name?” Isabel asked as her face broke into a large grin. “We always wondered.”

“I don’t understand,” Mason choked out. “You can’t be what I think you are.”

“Trust your instincts, Mason. They seem to have kept you alive for over a year now.”

“I don’t understand,” Mason repeated, still shaking her head.

“We’ve been tracking her ten times longer than we have watched you. We’ve been trying to figure out why she ran from us. We even went as far as to create my model just to get into her head. It took quite a while to get it to the point that no one could tell us apart from the real thing. It obviously worked in the end. By the way, excellent job figuring it out.”

“You realize what this means?” Mason said to Brody, squeezing his hand in excitement.

Understanding dawned in his eyes. “She’s out there somewhere!”

“Yes, she is.” Mason could feel the Cylon’s confusion, and it made her want to laugh. These toasters would never understand that they couldn’t break her. They had been trying for as long as she could remember. They had thrown everything they possibly could at her, but none of it worked.

She was unbreakable.

“You two are full of such hope. It’s truly astonishing,” the Cylon said, laughing as she pulled a gun from her jacket pocket. “It’s too bad you have to die.”

Mason was about to push Brody out of the Cylon’s way when the window exploded with the sound of gunfire. She felt Brody’s arms around her, pulling her to the ground and shielding her as the gunfire seemed to go on forever. Pieces of shattered glass rained down on them.

But just as quickly as it started, everything stopped and the silence was deafening.

“What the frak?” Mason whispered as Brody rolled off her and pulled her up. “Are you hit?”

“No. You?”

“No. Thanks to my convenient body shield.” She reached out to smack him upside the head. “What were you thinking, Brody Adama? You could have been shot!”

Brody was about to reply when a familiar voice cut them off. “Would you two stop flirting long enough for me to get you out of here?”

Mason twisted around to stare at Isabel crouched on the empty window ledge. “You’re a Cylon!” she exclaimed, pushing Brody behind her.

“No,” Isabel said with a laugh. She pointed at the body on the ground. “That is a Cylon. See the vacant expression on her face because she‘s dead? Surefire sign that she’s not me. Besides, I can’t be a Cylon. I’m your ticket to the thirteenth colony, remember?”

Isabel’s sarcastic tone registered somewhere deep inside Mason, and her brain began to race, putting together all the pieces of the puzzle they had collected on Caprica. “It was you in the museum, and you were the one we took back to the apartment. You asked a lot of questions. I remember thinking that it was odd.”

“I had to make sure you weren’t Cylons before I told you who I was,” Isabel said as she hopped into the cell. “Actually, I guess I never really did that. Seems like I let the Cylons do my dirty work. Oops.”

“I don’t get it,” Brody said. He alternated looks between the two women in the cell. “What the frak is going on?” When no one answered, he directed his next question at Isabel. “Why are you not a Cylon?” The next one was for Mason. “And why are you not killing her?”

“He got shot,” Mason said to Isabel as if that was explanation enough.

“I see that.” Isabel nodded at Brody‘s shoulder before her eyes fell on Mason’s hand. Mason was painfully aware of the blood caked on them. “What happened to you?”

“I kicked your ass a few minutes ago.”

“Nice.”

“Could you two stop acting like nothing happened and tell me why I shouldn’t be killing her right now?”

“She’s not a Cylon,” Mason said.

“I’m not a Cylon.” Isabel repeated, reaching down to pick up the dead toaster’s gun and hand it to Brody. “You two picked me up at the Delphi Museum a few days back. I’ve been trying to figure out what the frak was up with you ever since. This morning, I decided that you really were my ticket off this planet so I was going to help you out with your little plan. I figured we’d get about halfway into the city before having to pull back. Mason told me that was what usually happened.”

Brody gave his friend an dirty look.

Mason shrugged. “The kid had a lot of questions.”

“You didn’t have to answer them,” he pointed out. Before Mason could start arguing with him, he covered her mouth with his hand and turned to Isabel. “Keep explaining.”

“Your Viper got shot down, Brody, and Mason went after you. I finished off the squadron of Raiders, just as I said I was going to, before landing by your ships. You were gone. It’s taken me hours to figure out where they brought you which brings us to the present moment.”

Brody narrowed his eyes. “How do we know you’re not another copy?”

“It’s her,” Mason said. “This kid has been reminding me of myself since the second we stumbled upon her. This is Helo’s daughter, all right.”

“You’re sure?”

“I would know, wouldn’t I?”

Isabel watched as Brody and Mason shared a secret, knowing look. “Someone want to clue me in?” she asked.

Mason turned to smile at her. “I wish I could have told you this under better circumstances, but the reason you remind me of myself is because you’re my sister, Isabel.”

Isabel’s eyes widened as she shook her head and took a few steps back. “No. That can’t be.”

“Well, you’re my half-sister. I wasn’t lucky enough to have a Cylon mommy. My human mother never told me for sure, but I know that my father was Lieutenant Karl Agathon, known to most of the Fleet as just Helo. He hated his first name.”

“Helo?”

“There are a lot of things that I never told anyone about.” Brody cleared his throat. “Except for Brody and our parents, no one knew that I had any idea of who my father was.”

“I don’t understand. You’re older than I am. How could Helo have fathered you and still come to Caprica to find my mother?”

“Well, the first time Helo came back to the Fleet was two years after he was abandoned on Caprica during the Cylon attacks. During his time here, he never once ran into any of the copies that were your mother. He had no clue what danger he had put himself in by returning to the Fleet. The Cylon traitor had been slowly killing off important people of the Fleet for more than a year and a half by that point.”

“But why would he have left Galactica to come back to this dump?”

“The Fleet wasn’t the same as he remembered, and the things he had gone through on Caprica distanced him from everyone that he had known before. He promised some of the survivors here that he would return for them, so when the President wouldn’t sanction a rescue mission, he stole a Raptor.”

“He came back for the Resistance?”

“Yeah. I think if he had known my mother was pregnant, he wouldn’t have.” Mason shrugged. “But he didn’t know, and no one can change that. He came back to Caprica, and that’s when he stumbled upon your mother. He thought Galactica sent her as part of the rescue team originally denied him. And this is where things get hazy for all of us. Obviously, you were born and he chose to stay on Caprica. Something went wrong. I don‘t know what, but he came back to the Fleet again. Maybe he figured out that Boomer wasn‘t who she claimed to be. No one knows. He came back, though, and it was too late. The Fleet-” The emotions Mason was dredging up were overwhelming her, and her voice caught in her throat.

“He returned in the middle of Galactica’s destruction,” Brody filled in, picking up where Mason had stopped. “Mason’s mother ran into him as she was ushering the children to the hangar bay. She told him what was happening, and Helo went after Boomer.”

“He felt responsible for what she had done,” Mason added. “I think that’s where you and I get our amazing sense of irrational guilt.”

“This is too much to take right now. We can deal with this later,” Isabel said, biting down on her lip so her emotions wouldn’t take over. She needed to keep her head clear if she was going to get off this planet. “We have to leave right now. The Cylons will realize what’s happened any second, and we have a job to do. According to you, there are children out there depending on all three of us.” Isabel gave them a grin before shooting out the lock on the cell door.

“Well, we found you. And I’m sure we can steal a few ships without anyone noticing,” Mason said, ticking it off on her fingers. “What else is there?” she asked.

“We need to find a port into the Cylon mainframe. It’s time to work on fulfilling my destiny.”

Brody and Mason stumbled after the girl, both secure in their belief that she was who she said. And even if she wasn’t, Isabel had risked her life to break them out of the brig. That had to count for something.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

“I still don’t get why you’re helping us,” Mason whispered as the trio made their way down yet another deserted corridor. “You seem resourceful enough to have gotten off Caprica on your own years ago.”

“They would have followed me,” Isabel explained as she pulled out her gun and ducked around the corner to check for toasters in the next hall. When she saw it was all clear, she lowered her weapon but kept it out. “We’re getting close. How you doing, Brody?”

“As long as I don’t pass out, we’ll be good,” he answered through gritted teeth.

“Baby,” Mason whispered, giving him a unimpressed look.

Isabel stopped in front of a door in the corridor and nodded. “This feels right.”

“Feels right?” Brody asked. “We’ve been walking through this complex for the past half hour guided only by your feelings?”

“I’m supposed to be some phenomenon of centuries-old destiny. Going by my gut sounds good right about now,” Isabel pointed out as she fired her gun into the lock, and the door slid open. “I’ve always known there was something different about me. Something special that made the Cylons want to study me instead of kill me. I know things, stuff I shouldn’t know. And they want it. I’ve been on the run from them for as long as I can remember.”

Mason helped Brody sit down on one of the tables in the room before turning to Isabel. “So now that we’re here, what’s your gut telling you to do?”

“It’s telling me that Brody needs to stay here while you and I keep going.” Isabel waved off the protest about to come from Mason’s mouth. “He knows I’m right.”

Mason looked over at her best friend who was staring intently as her, a smile on his face. “Go. I’ll be fine here, Mas.”

She turned back to Isabel and watched as she hopped up on a desk pushed against the wall and kicked out the grate to the vent. Slipping her gun into the waist of her pants, Isabel slid into the open hole without another word.

“She’s insane,” Mason said, even though she had already begun to follow Isabel.

“You have that in common,” Brody called out behind her.

Mason had time to give him one last glare before disappearing completely down the air vent. After a few minutes, the silence got to be too much for her. “So can you tell me what we’re doing that’s so important?” she asked.

“I want to get access to their mainframe. From there, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. I’m kind of hoping that the Cylon half of me will just take over.”

“Me? I’m kind of hoping it doesn’t.”

They returned to crawling through the vent in silence, and Mason began to think about how strange her current situation was. She was letting a Cylon hybrid lead her through a heavily armed military base in order to find computer access to do something that neither one of them had any idea how to do. Not to mention that she had abandoned her injured best friend without more than a few seconds protest and was currently following a girl whose crazy, mechanical doppelganger just tried to kill them. She was no longer sure if they had transportation off the planet for their return voyage to her friends, and she wasn’t all too sure they would even get to that stage of the plan.

“Life is wonderful,” Mason muttered.

“We’re here,” Isabel whispered over her shoulder, breaking up Mason’s little pity party.

After kicking out another vent cover, the two women dropped to the floor. Mason stared in awe at the electronic circuitry covering every single inch of the room they had just entered. It reminded her of a Viper engine with its complicated twists and bends. “Where are we?”

“Inside a mainframe.”

“And what are we doing here?”

“I’m not sure. Give me a minute.” Isabel turned in place a few times, studying every point of interest in the room before taking a step forward. “I think this is it. Pull that piece of wire out of the wall and hand it to me.”

Mason did as she was asked. “Be careful. It’s sharp on the end.”

“That’s the point. It’s contact wire. Anytime there’s a break in it, the thing becomes sharper than a knife.” Isabel put the wire to the palm of her left hand and sliced.

“What the hell are you doing?” Mason yelled as she saw the blood start to trickle from the wound.

“I need to plug myself in,” Isabel said through her gritted teeth. “Oh gods. This is going to hurt.”

Mason could only stare in complete shock as Isabel picked up a wire from the ground and, taking a deep breath, began to slide it into her open wound. The sight of the metal entering flesh made Mason cringe.

“Frak,” Isabel muttered, closing her fist around the wire. “Gods but that burns!”

“Care to explain what the frak you‘re doing?” Mason asked, tearing her eyes away from the obviously suicidal girl and scanning the room again. She was getting funny vibes from this place, like they had made a huge mistake in entering this inner sanctum.

“Right now, I’m trying to concentrate,” Isabel choked out through the pain.

Mason wanted to demand that she gut-check the pain for a second to explain how shoving a wire into her hand was anything but bad, but an explanation would just slow them down. This girl had a destiny, and Mason didn’t want to keep her from it.

The light in the room dimmed slightly, and Mason braced herself as the floor beneath her began to vibrate. She watched Isabel fall to her knees, her knuckles whitening as she increased the pressure on her wound.

“Too fraking bizarre,” Mason whispered. Sighing, she stepped forward to stand next to Isabel. If the Cylons showed up, someone had to be ready to protect them both.

As quickly as the pseudo-earthquake started, it ended. Mason flinched as Isabel rose and pulled the connection out. She didn’t even waver as she ripped the hem of her shirt off and tightly wrapped it around her hand. With the same hand, she drew out her gun and grinned at Mason mischievously.

“What?” Mason asked with suspicion.

“I know the way to Earth,” Isabel chuckled before pulling herself back up into the vent.

Mason shook her head. If this girl was faking it, she didn’t even want to know what the real thing was capable of. She slid her gun back into its holster, and grabbing hold of the walls, hoisted herself up to follow Isabel. “So what exactly were you doing back there?”

“It was something my mother told me about.”

“I thought you said you never really knew your mother.”

“In a lot of ways, I didn’t. My mother died giving birth to me, but there are lots of copies of her and until I was eleven, the Cylons raised me. I didn’t really understand at the time but the Boomer model made sure to tell me that I was special. She taught me that I could do things most others couldn’t. One of those things was hacking into the Cylon information source.”

“What for?”

“To take out their communications. There’s not a lot we could do to stop the Cylons, but this is going to give us, and any other survivors out there, a chance to keep on living. The Cylons won’t be able to communicate with one another. Their ‘souls’ will not be able to transfer from model to model. It’s going to give us a shot at making it to Earth.”

“That was one risky-ass plan,” Mason said with a chuckle.

“Meaning?”

“Meaning if you can come up with shit like that, we really are sisters.”

Isabel turned to look over her shoulder at Mason and smiled before beginning to crawl again. “I swear a lot less than you.”

“That’s because you never knew my mother.”

“What was your mother’s name?”

Mason tried not to let the memories and emotions choke her up. “Kara Thrace. Her call sign was Starbuck.”

“I think I would have liked her.”

“I think she would have liked you, kid.”

They lapsed into silence after that, both lost in their own thoughts.

Isabel found herself wondering what her life would have been like if she had grown up alongside Brody and Mason. Things could have been so much different. She often wondered what had happened to make Helo leave her behind.

Mason’s thoughts followed a similar vein but she was certain of how things would have played out if Isabel had been a part of her life. Kara and Lee would have raised Isabel alongside Brody, Mason, and Kara’s other daughter, Amy. They would have protected her like they protected their own children. And maybe things would have been easier. One thing was sure, Leila wouldn’t have died to make this day come. The same applied to Cally, Lee, Kara, Crashdown, and all of the children who hadn’t made it on the first planet they inhabited. They would all still be alive.

“Back to the starting gate,” Isabel said as she hopped out of the vent.

“What the frak was all that?” Brody yelled, stepping over to meet them the second they were in the room.

“She gave the Cylons a cold,” Mason explained. “How are you doing?”

“The pain’s fading so there’s that,” he said wryly.

“Good. You need to be in top form because we’re going to Earth, my friend.”

Brody’s face lit up in surprise as the words sunk in. “There’s no way.”

“Turns out the prophecies were right about that one,” Mason said, jerking her thumb toward Isabel. “She’s chock full of destiny.”

“All right. I think that’s enough banter, you two,” Isabel said. “We need to move.”

“Time to get us some ships then,” Mason said. “My ship and Isabel’s are still good to fly. I’m sure we can pick up a Raider, Raptor, Viper or some other crazy hybrid somewhere for you, Brody. We’re on a military base after all.”

“I’m glad we’re not being picky about ships,” Brody laughed as the three of them stepped into the hallway. “Does it bother anyone else that no one’s stumbled upon us?” he whispered.

“No,” Isabel and Mason said at the same time.

“Just checking.”

It seemed like the severity of what was ahead of them finally sunk in because all three lapsed into silence. They walked through corridor upon corridor, making their way to the outside based on whatever Isabel intuitively knew about this complex. They hadn’t seen one Cylon since they left their cell two hours earlier. If that didn’t scream something was wrong, Mason had no idea what did. She wasn’t about to complain, though. Things could be a lot worse.

“Here we are,” Isabel said, stopping in front of a solid cement wall.

“Yes. Amazing wall, isn’t it?” Brody said, shaking his head. Isabel turned to glare at him. “Uh huh, that glare is definitely genetic.”

Isabel and Mason ignored him. “Why are we stopping here, Isabel?” Mason asked.

“This is the way out.” Isabel pressed the wall with her wounded hand until something clicked. “Hatchway,” she said, stepping into the dark opening. She didn’t even turn around to make sure they were following.

The hatch descended down for about a mile, leading them outside of the complex. Isabel took a moment to enjoy the feeling of sun beating down on her face. She had missed that in the short time she had been inside the building.

“What now?” Mason said, already drawing her gun. Being outside might be nice, but it also meant they were in the open.

“Now you two go about two miles north by northeast to where your ships are.”

“Our ships?” Brody asked.

“Where the frak are you going to be?” Mason exclaimed.

“I have to go this part alone. I just need you two to trust me. Go find your ships, and I’ll meet you in the skies above Caprica in two hours. Don’t worry, I’ll find you.”

Brody glanced at his best friend and shrugged. “She’s taken us this far, Mas.” He looked over Mason’s shoulder at Isabel. “You’ve earned a little trust.”

Isabel nodded and took off in a run back down through the tunnel.

“Your sister’s weird,” Brody muttered. Sighing, he started to trudge through the forest, trying to ignore the pain radiating from his shoulder. Things could have been a lot worse. It could have been Mason who had been shot and was in pain. He had no idea what he would have done if it had been her. He couldn’t stand to see her in any kind of pain. It’s what made being with her all the harder. She always seemed to find a way to hurt herself.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The Raider-Viper hybrid and Galactica’s Child hung in the air over Caprica. Mason and Brody had been lucky enough to find a small belt of asteroids to hide in while they waited for Isabel. They had cut back their power output to basic life support so that they wouldn’t be picked up by the Cylon scanners. The Cylons were patrolling the skies like crazy now that their communications were down.

“Hey, Brody,” Mason said, looking out her side window to where the hybrid hovered next to her.

“Yeah?”

“Can you believe that we might have actually done this?”

“No. I thought you were crazy when you suggested it that day. I thought you might have sun poisoning or something.”

“The sun had only been up for a few minutes.”

“Well, something was wrong in your head.”

“It’s been well established that I’m insane,” Mason laughed. They lapsed into another few moments of silence. Conversation had been sporadic between them. There was just too much to think about to let words distract you.

“So what do you think the thirteenth colony will be like?” Brody finally asked.

“I don’t know. It has to be better than the other twelve.”

“It could just be an empty planet. We have no proof that the thirteenth tribe actually thrived on Earth.”

“Even if it’s empty, it’s still a planet that the Cylons won’t be able to find. That’s all we need, a sustainable place to live without threat of discovery. Oh gods. The rest of the children are going to be so excited.”

“You are such a mother. Gods know where you picked that up from. It certainly wasn’t from our parents!” Brody laughed. “They were more like five-year-olds than parents most of the time, which makes me think that maybe this whole mothering instinct you have is a sign that you‘re actually a toaster.”

Mason turned to glare at him but smiled instead when she saw him struggling for breath between fits of laughter. It was nice to see him laugh. “You’re excited about this, too,” she said over the comms.

“Damn right! I’ve been waiting for this for just as long as everyone else.”

“I’ve been thinking, when we get to Earth, we’re going to be free, Brody. No running for our lives. No worrying about where we’re going to get food. Chances are, there will be other people on that planet. We can have conversations with other people! Ones we‘ve never met before, and for the first time, we can be whoever and whatever we want.”

“What are you getting at, Mason?”

“Nothing. Everything. You and I grew up around the best case there has ever been for soulmates. I’ve always wondered what that felt like. There were so few of us that escaped from Galactica with our lives. If that feeling were to come around, how am I supposed to know what it’s like? Don‘t you ever feel that way?”

“No,” Brody replied, his voice serious.

“Guess it’s just a girl thing.”

“No, that’s not it either.”

The comm link between the two ships fell silent again.

Mason didn’t know what to say in response to that, so she just pulled back. She wasn’t even sure what she had been trying to get at. All she knew was that the thought of finally being around what could possibly be hundreds of thousands of strangers terrified her. She could lie to herself and chalk it up to living with the same handful of people all her life, but when she was brave enough to admit the truth, Mason was scared to death that she would lose her best friend to someone else.

Brody was an attractive guy. Girls would notice him, and he would notice them. Before long, she would be by herself, trying to adjust to a planet where everything was foreign. At first he would probably try to make sure she was fine, but Brody tended to focus on one thing and let everything else sort of fade to the periphery. Mason didn’t think she could compete with an entire planet for his undivided attention.

Pushing her fears aside, she cleared her throat. “So, Brody, what’s the first thing you want to do when the last colony is found?”

His gentle chuckle filtered softly through the comm. “You don’t know? Years of hinting and you still don’t know what I’d want to do?”

“Don’t frak with me, Brody. I’m not a mind reader,” she snapped.

“Well, there’s a certain young women who dragged me to this shithole of a planet. Somehow I convinced her to spend every night in my bed. Can you imagine that? The funny thing is, it turned out that I kind of liked having her so close to me all the time. It made me start to think about things. Weird, right?”

Mason caught her breath. Was he implying what she thought he was implying? She bit her lip as she replayed his words in her head. He couldn’t mean what she thought he meant. That would be ridiculous! And, frankly, a hell of a lot scarier than the thought of losing him to some Earth girl because if there was one thing she had inherited from her mom, it was the ability to frak up a good thing when it came along.

If she wanted to keep him in her life, she had to put an end to whatever crazy thoughts he might be entertaining. And that was something she had learned by watching her mother talk to Lee for twelve years.

“Listen, Brody, there’s something I wanted to talk about.”

“That kiss on Caprica?”

Her eyes widened. She had actually forgotten about that completely in all the excitement. Oh gods. The memory of that was going to make this so much harder. “No. Actually, I wanted to talk to you about everything that went on with us this year. It really confused me.”

“Me, too. I wasn’t expecting it.”

“I finally figured it out. We’ve been through a lot the past year. We lost almost everything we ever loved, and that? Well, that makes it hard to keep on living.”

“What are you getting at here?” Brody asked.

Mason could feel his suspicion which meant that he was catching on to what she was trying to do. Time for the knockout blow. “We’ve been desperately trying to prove to ourselves that we’re still alive, Brody, that no matter what we’ve lost, we are still here. I’ve had those nightmares and you’ve been there for me. I’m grateful...”

“But?”

Mason felt Brody’s eyes burning through the canopy at her, but she couldn‘t force herself to meet his gaze. “But whatever went on with us on Caprica, that’s where it’s should stay. We don’t need to prove that we’re still alive anymore, now that we have a future, so the logical thing is to just move whatever happened into the past.”

“Are you saying…?”

His voice faded off, and Mason knew that she had gotten through to him. She had to be sure, though. “It didn’t mean a thing to me, Brody. Not even that kiss.” Gods forgive her for her lies. “You‘re my best friend. You always will be, but I don‘t love you as anything more than that.”

Brody would have argued with her and called her a liar if Isabel’s voice hadn’t broken into their comm channel. “Sorry to keep you guys waiting so long. It took me a little while to get back to the Delphi Museum.”

“No problem,” Brody replied. Mason flinched at the harshness that laced in his voice. “Mason was just making a few things clear to me, but I think we have everything resolved now, don’t we, Mas?”

Mason bit back her tears and focused on the Raider Isabel was flying. “Why did you go back to the Museum, Isabel?”

“I needed to pick up an artifact… The Bow of Artemis. I think it’s the key to finding your thirteenth colony. I’m sorry I can‘t give you a more concrete explanation than that.”

“Well, you are the chosen one so I’ll go with your instincts,” Brody said. “Now let’s get the frak out of here. Transmitting co-ordinates to reach the rest of our family.”

“Got it,” Isabel said. “Are you two ready for this?”

“Oh yeah,” Brody hissed through his teeth. “I’ve had enough of this planet! It seems to ruin everything you thought you could count on.”

“Okay,” Isabel said. “I have no idea what that means, but I’ll just assume it meant you’re ready to leave.”

“Let’s stop chatting and get this done,” Mason snapped, powering up the FTL drive on Galactica’s Child. “Jumping in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...”

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Isabel felt her Raider kick out of hyper drive and did a quick roll to make sure that Brody and Mason had made the trip with her. When she saw the two ships beside her, she let out a sigh of relief that her crazy plan had actually worked without even a hitch.

All her life, Isabel had had some crazy luck that saw her through. When she was six, the Cylons had been moving her from one facility to the other when they came under attack by the Resistance. Every transport had been destroyed in the skirmish except the one she was in. When she was eleven, a disturbance near the edges of Caprica City distracted the Cylons, keeping the toasters busy just long enough for her to slip away from them. Only a few days ago she had been searching for a new source of food when she stumbled upon two strangers who gave her the means to escape the Cylons and Caprica completely.

Apparently, her luck had held for this jump, too. In fact, if the voices screaming in her head were speaking the truth, her luck had just hit an all time high.

“Oh my gods,” she whispered, staring in awe at the planet that lay before her. “Oh my gods.”

“What’s the matter?” Brody asked.

“Absolutely nothing. Do either of you two realize what planet this is?”

“One that can sustain human life?” Mason volunteered.

“It’s Kobol. You left everyone you love on the birthplace of the thirteen tribes.”

“No fraking way,” Brody yelled as Mason let out a whoop.

“Let’s land and check this place out, see if your friends are still hanging around.”

The three ships dipped lower, and Mason pointed out a range of mountains to the south. She had taught the children of Galactica well. They would be over there using the mountains for cover from Cylon detection.

“Do you think they’re still there, Mason?” Brody asked her as they began to prepare for landing.

Mason was startled by his comment as Brody had barely said a word to her since she had been so vicious to him in the Caprican exosphere. He had been pissed off, and rightfully so, but now he was acting as if nothing had happened. She didn’t want to analyze the situation though so she concentrated on her controls as her ship touched down.

“Well?” Brody asked as soon as she had gotten out of her plane.

“They’re still here. For some ridiculous reason, they think I’m a miracle worker.”

Brody stared at her a second before ruffling her hair. “You kind of are, Mason.” With a smirk, he turned and walked over to Isabel. “Let’s get to hiking, my little golden child.”

“Funny,” Isabel replied, rolling her eyes as she started to hike up the mountain. She was trying her best to concentrate on taking herself, Brody and Mason the last few steps to their goal, but there was one detail that kept nagging at her brain. She was so distracted that she didn’t realize Mason had moved from her position hiking next to Brody to walk with her.

“What’s wrong, Izzy?”

“Izzy?”

“We’re big on nicknames in this bunch,” Mason shrugged. “You won’t believe what some of the kids call me, but that’s a totally different subject all together. Something’s bugging you. Tell me what it is.”

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s something. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be so fraking distracted. I could have killed you ten different ways in the past few minutes and you wouldn’t have had a clue until it was too late.” Mason put her arm around Isabel’s shoulder and gave her a squeeze. “Come on. Tell your big sis what’s the matter.”

Isabel stared at her for a minute before pushing Mason’s arm off her shoulder. “I’m not big on the touching.”

“Got it,” Mason said, holding up her hands in surrender. “Doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You’re still going to tell me what’s wrong.”

“Something isn’t adding up. There was a passage from the Book of Pythia that came to mind when I hooked into the Cylon mainframe. It was what clued me in to our needing the Bow of Artemis.”

“I was wondering where you got that.”

“The passage says that the Bow of Artemis can only be wielded by the Three Fates. I’m not that familiar with the myths of our people, but I do know that the Three Fates were all women. Obviously it’s not talking about Brody and the only people we’re going to find are a bunch of children.”

“Don’t expect them to be in diapers or anything, Isabel. They’re not that young.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Isabel said. After a moment, she groaned in exasperation. “The Three Fates will wield the ancient Bow of Artemis, their goddess and protector, and shall deliver paradise unto the whole human race. What does that even mean when there is no clue who it’s referring to?”

Mason grabbed Isabel’s hand and pulled her to a stop before looking back at Brody. True to best friend form, he recognized a plea for privacy when he saw it. He gave Mason a quick nod and sat down under a nearby tree to clean his gun.

Isabel groaned again. “What the frak does it mean?” she cried out to no one in particular.

Mason took a deep breath. “I’ll tell you what it means. It means that you better hope the rest of Galactica’s children are still on this planet.”

Isabel looked at her in complete bewilderment. “What? Why?”

“I know that scripture. It was the one my mother recited to me every night before I went to bed when I was little. I liked the idea of three sisters. I never had anyone but my mother and Lee and Brody really. All I wanted was a little sister or brother.” Mason brushed a tear from the corner of her eye and smiled at Isabel. “Sorry, off track there for a second. I didn’t realize this was going to be so hard to say. The Three Fates were sisters who held the fate of humanity in their hands. There was Lachesis who sings of the things that were, Clotho who sings of the things that are, and Atropus who sings of things that will be.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It all fits perfectly. For thirteen years, I’ve been the oldest survivor of Galactica. That put me in charge of remembering what life had been like, the kind of people the other children’s parents had been, and how things had ended for us. And you! You’re the key to what’s going to happen. You are going to lead us to the thirteen colony and you keep us safe inour journey.”

“Mason!” Brody yelled, pointing to the mountain path in front of them

She turned in time to see a pretty blond girl running down the path towards them, yelling and waving. “That’s Amy Keikeya,” Mason said, turning to smile at Isabel. “She’s the youngest of all of us. The only home she’s known has been in the present day. More importantly, she’s my sister.” Mason let out a small laugh at Isabel’s stunned expression. “I guess you’re her sister, too.”

“Mas! You came back!” Amy shrieked, jumping into Mason’s outstretched arms. “Bodee! You’re not dead.”

“No, I’m not, kiddo,” Brody said, reaching over to mess up her hair. “And neither are you.”

“And neither is anyone else. You told me to watch out for them and I did. Not one Cylon has found us.”

“Good. We’re proud of you.”

Amy finally noticed the third person with them. “Who’s she?”

“That’s Isabel. She’s the one we were looking for.”

“Helo’s daughter? Wow.”

Mason’s heart filled up at the pure joy that was radiating in Amy’s eyes. It was miraculous how innocent Amy had stayed through all the grief and pain they had experienced. “Brody, could you take Isabel up the hill to the camp? I need to talk to Amy for a second.”

“No problem,” Brody said.

Mason waited until Brody had ushered Isabel out of their sight before turning back to Amy. “Walk with me back to camp?”

“Sure.” Amy slid her hand into Mason’s as they started to walk slowly down the gravely path. “Is there something wrong?”

“No, not at all. I just wanted to apologize.”

“For what?”

“I figured something out a few years ago, and I’ve been keeping it a secret from you. It’s killed me, but I really thought it was best. Our future was so bleak. I didn’t want you to start forming attachments until I could be sure that we were safe.” Mason shook her head. “Gods. I’m just avoiding the subject, aren’t I?”

“Pretty much.”

“Amy, you know my mother raised you like you were her own daughter.”

“Yeah and I’ll always be grateful to her. I mean, I knew she only did it because I was just a baby when my father was killed and she felt sorry for me but she was a good mom.”

“She didn’t do it out of pity or some sense of duty, Amy. She did it because she loved you and wanted to keep you safe. She treated you like her daughter because you were her daughter.”

Amy shook her head. “That makes no sense, Mason.”

“Trust me, Amy. If you heard the way your father spoke to my mother the day the Cylons destroyed the Fleet, you would have realized what was going on between them. I don’t know any of the specifics, but I think that there was a mutual love and respect between them that evolved into something more.” Mason paused as her family’s camp came into view. They were there. Every last one of them.

“Does this mean you’re my sister?” Amy asked.

“Yes. And not only me, but Isabel, too.”

“Isabel’s another one of Starbuck’s daughters? How is that possible? I thought you were looking for some kind of Cylon-human hybrid child of Helo‘s.”

“She is Helo’s child with Boomer. Helo’s my father, Amy.”

Amy’s eyes widened. “Really? This is too much!”

“Do you want to meet her?”

Amy nodded, and Mason called to Isabel to come over to them. “Amy, this is Isabel Agathon. Isabel, Amy Keikeya. I know you two aren’t related by blood, but I still want you to think of each other as family. It’s important.”

The two girls stared at each other awkwardly without saying a word, and Mason realized how hard this must for them. Neither one had believed they had any family left a few hours earlier, and suddenly they both had siblings. Mason figured it was her duty, as the eldest, to give them something about which to talk. “Isabel, would you please tell Amy about her part in getting us to the thirteenth colony? I have a few things I need to do.”

Isabel nodded and immediately started telling Amy about the prophecies of Pythia. Mason smiled and left the two girls alone to get to know one another.

Her first instinct was to go to the group and start asking about what had happened while she and Brody were gone. But then she felt a twinge of fear in the pit of her stomach. They had survived a whole year without her guidance. Who was she to come barreling back into their lives, demanding to have control again?

Her fear made Mason veer to the right until she was out of sight of the group. She found a rock under one of the trees and sat down to watch the sun set. This planet was truly amazing. She couldn’t believe they had just happened upon the birthplace of humanity by chance. It was unreal.

This was the moment she had been working towards for as long as she could remember. So many of the people she loved had died to make this happen. It hurt to think of what it had cost them to find a way to be free. Life shouldn’t be like that, and Mason smiled as she realized that life would never be like that again. For any of them.

As the stars began to peek out from behind the clouds, Mason felt the tension start to leave her body, and she allowed her eyes to drift slowly shut. Something heavy touched her shoulder, making her jump, and she opened her eyes to see Brody looking down at her.

“Scoot over,” he whispered.

Mason did as he said and was surprised when he sat down beside her, wrapping his arms around her tightly. Even though she knew she shouldn‘t let him hold her, Mason couldn’t bring herself to pull away. “We did it, Brody. We actually did it.”

“I know.” He reached up and traced the outline of her lips with his finger. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile so big. It makes you look beautiful.”

Mason rolled her eyes. “I’m covered in dirt and blood, Brody. I hardly look beautiful.”

“Hey, I know what my eyes see and they see beautiful.”

She shook her head again laying it on his shoulder. “We did good, didn’t we?”

“Yeah. Our parents would be proud,” he said quietly.

Mason began to cry as she remembered her mother and the man that had raised her as his own. They had been the best parents she could have asked for, and if circumstances had been different, she would still have wanted them to be the ones who raised her. It was the love they had shown her that kept her strong when times got tough.

“Mason?” She lifted her head to look at Brody. “I love you. You know that, right?”

Mason stared into his eyes and wished that she could pretend he meant it only as her best friend, that he was telling her he loved her in the same way that he had told her every day since they were small. She wished that he was just trying to let her know that she would always have someone in her life no matter what.

Obviously he meant all those things when he told her that he loved her, but they both knew it would be a lie if they said that was all he meant.

“Brody…” she began.

“No, Mason. Answer me. You know that I love you, right?”

She shifted her eyes from his and sighed. “Of course I do.”

“You and me, we’re always going to be a part of each other?”

“No matter what,” she agreed, forcing herself to look at him.

“Then you won’t mind if I ask you to marry me?” he said tentatively.

“You are such a fraking idiot,” Mason sighed, putting her head back down on his shoulder as she reached up to entwine her fingers with his. “Completely insane.”

“Is that a yes?”

“That was a maybe… if I don’t kill you before we reach the thirteenth colony.”

“I’ll take it,” he said, kissing her lightly on the top of the head.

“Sorry to break up the party, kids,” Isabel said, stopping in front of the rock they sat on. “But Amy and I think we should do this before something comes up to stop it.”

Mason noticed the wooden bow in Isabel’s hands and pulled herself out of Brody’s arms. “What do you mean ‘we should do this’?”

“The Scriptures speak of the Tomb of Athena on Kobol. Turns out your little band of survivors has been camping out right in front of it the whole time. I figured it was worth a shot so maybe you, me, and the shrimp should go in and see if the gods left us a little present.”

Mason turned around to see Amy standing a few feet behind them and gave her a wave before turning back to look at Isabel. “You think we have to do this, don’t you?”

“My Cylon senses tell me it can’t hurt.”

“Fine. Brody, stay with the others. I want you to make sure that no one follows us. I have a feeling what’s about to happen is only for the three of us.”

Brody nodded and, after intertwining his fingers with Mason’s, lead the four of them back towards camp. As they got closer, Isabel indicated that they had reached their destination. Brody regretfully let go of Mason’s hand, but not before he pulled her in for a quick kiss.

“Give ‘em hell,” he whispered and walked away without saying another word.

Mason watched him until he was out of sight and then turned to the opening in the mountainside in front of them. “Let’s get this done,” she said, her voice grim.

They hesitantly walked into the dark cavern. Pieces of stone and marble littered the entryway, and Mason could make out the bases of half eroded statues. It looked like this place had been a temple of worship just as the scriptures said.

“That one’s Apollo. At least I think it was at one point,” Mason told the girls, pointing out the figure that had represented a god so many years ago. Althought it was the best-preserved statue of all, it still was missing quite a few parts.

“I thought he was supposed to be an archer,” Amy said, stepping forward to touch the cool marble.

“Maybe he would like to have the bow of his twin sister.” Isabel said and held up the Bow of Artemis.

“Do it,” Mason said.

She and Amy waited in anticipation as Isabel stepped forward and gently rested the artifact in the hands of the god. A small click echoed through the cavern as the bow slid perfectly into place, but other than that, nothing happened.

“Are you sure we really needed that thing?” Mason asked Isabel.

“Positive. It’s the critical piece that shows us the way to Earth.”

“It’s not doing anything,” Amy pointed out.

“Maybe it needs to warm up or something,” Isabel suggested. She reached out to smack the bow a few times. Still nothing happened.

“Is this all we have?” Amy asked as she took a few steps back from the statue. “Because I say we’re screwed if this is i-”

She was cut off as her foot caught on something and she went tumbling to the ground. She scrambled around for something to hold onto until her hands hit something cold and metallic. “Stupid piece of centuries old crap,” she growled as she started to chuck the thing far away from where she might trip over it again.

“Stop!” Isabel yelled, throwing herself at Amy and grabbing her hand.

“What the frak are you doing?” Amy shouted as Isabel pried the piece of metal from her.

“Do you realize what this is?” she asked, breathless with excitement.

Mason stared in bewilderment as Isabel carefully dusted off the piece of junk. It began to catch the light, and Mason suddenly realized that it wasn’t just any old metal rod. “That’s the Arrow of Apollo. It’s supposed to be in Delphi.”

“I know,” Isabel laughed. “I think it’s what you and Brody were looking for in that museum.”

Mason shook her head. “If it was supposed to be in Delphi, how the frak did it get to Kobol?”

“Obviously no one here knows,” Amy said. She stepped forward and grabbed it back. “Let’s not stand around and talk about what it might mean, though.”

Before Isabel or Mason could stop her, Amy stepped forward and strung the arrow into the Bow of Artemis. A bright flash filled the cavern, and when her eyes adjusted, Mason realized that they were standing outside in the center of a ring of ancients stones carved with writing.

“Do you guys get a feeling we’re not on Kobol anymore?” Amy asked, staring around in awe.

Isabel nodded and took a few steps forward. When nothing happened, she kept moving forward until she was outside the circle created by the stones. She looked up at the clear black sky filled to overflowing with stars before turning to smile at Mason. “Do you realize where we are?”

Mason turned to look at Amy, and they both began to laugh. She threw her arms up and flung herself back into the cool, wet grass.

“Oh gods. We’re home.”