Sabbath (millari) wrote in so_say_we_all,

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Fic: Past the Red Line Part 8

Author:millari and _usakeh_
Rating: PG
Author's Note: This is a fic that we have been working on. This is the final installment. If you'd like to read it from the beginning, you can read  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6  Part 7

"Lords of Kobol, hear our prayer. We commute the soul of our sister, Tama Hauser, to your care, and ask you to ease her way to her just reward in Elysium."

This was the fourth funeral ceremony the Resistance had performed in secret for its martyred dead, in the middle of the night, crowding the small group into drab olive tents meant for four or six. Each time, Galen Tyrol had been reluctantly dressed in the purple robes of a priest of Apollo, and placed in the center of a circle of solemn faces to perform a shriving ceremony – without a body to shrive. He was neither qualified for the job, nor particularly religious. But his father had been a priest and his mother an oracle, and it was decided that this would have to be enough.

No one objected to this arrangement. Jammer noticed how his fellow mourners stood in the ceremonial circle with eyes downcast and shuffling feet. No one really wanted to be here anyway, just like he hadn't wanted to be at any of the other martyrs' funerals; it had felt like he was validating setting off bombs, instead of merely accepting it as a horrible but necessary evil. He'd attended those funerals out of duty, and because Tigh and Cain would have given him shit if he hadn't. The whole thing was a charade, an empty show. Nobody believed that Tama’s death or any of the other martyrs’ deaths had been glorious, merely necessary;

After the ceremony, Jammer talked to no one. Once a barely reasonable amount of time had passed, he ducked out and started walking aimlessly along the dirt roads into the starless night. He'd been doing this for the past two days now. Each time he'd gone out, he’d deliberately planned no destination, or he’d told himself he was going home. Yet, somehow, he always ended up at the same place.

He knew Cain and Tigh would have his ass if they could see him at the bomb site. But there were a lot of people around the site right now, grieving families, lost souls. He could blend right in for the time being.

Who was he kidding? Blend in? He didn’t need to try; he was one of those lost souls. Time had stopped here for him at this building, and he had no idea how to make it start moving forward again.

The Centurions continued moving through their work with mindless utility, in predictable meter. Jammer watched their methodic, mechanical work, and wondered what, if anything, went through their minds.

“It’s kind of hypnotic, isn’t it?” A voice next to him broke the rhythm.


“Them.” He turned to see a woman with her finger raised and extended out towards the Centurions at work. She looked to be in her late forties. “I’ve been watching them every day," she said. "I’ve seen you doing it too.”

Jammer took an immediate step back; his gaze shot down to the dirt. His hands shoved themselves into his pockets. Frak.

"Yeah," he mumbled. "I don't know why I keep coming back here."

"I haven't seen you in the Mourners' Tent," the woman continued. "Did you lose someone here?"

His shoulders hunched up unconsciously. He knew it was irrational, but he felt convinced that if she got a good look at him, she'd know.

"Yes." He carefully raised his eyes to look back at the Centurions, and only the Centurions. “A friend.”

"I lost my son,” he heard her say. "He was an NCP trainee."

He swallowed hard, kept his eyes looking straight ahead. "I'm sorry to hear that."

She sighed. "He's right over there," she said, pointing to the symmetrical rows of corpses encased in zippered vinyl. "He was one of the first they found, actually; they told me I could take him home yesterday, but I haven't been able to face going home to that empty house yet; so I just stay here and watch those toasters move blocks around."

He nodded over and over, in unconscious, syncopated rhythm with the machines’ clanging. He knew the right thing to do was to say something, do something right now to comfort this woman; how to do so was a knowledge lost to him, long since drowned in the depths of a vast ocean.

They had used Tama. He knew that if he'd actually called them on it, Cain and Tigh would have argued that she had made her own choices
But it wasn't that simple. They had molded her anger and fear into something they could use, encouraging her to believe that death was the only answer to the pain inside her. She might have come into the Resistance with a confused death wish, but they made her leave it a suicide bomber.

"I'm so sorry for your loss, ma'am," he said at last. The sheer uselessness of the clichéd phrase horrified him. "I should probably go, actually." He tried to dart away, but she stopped him short.

"Tell me about her," she said.

Their eyes met - hers narrowed in determination, his wide with guilt, confusion.

"How do you know she … " he began.

She interrupted him with a question that was both arch and bittersweet. "How did I know your friend was a woman? The tone of your voice, I guess. I have experience with these things. I do have a grown son your age, you know..."

Her body had just begun loosening into the freedom of a smile, when Jammer saw her expression freeze and strangle itself into twisted shock. Her gaze fell over the rows of body bags, and she continued staring at them for a long time.

"I can't believe I just said that," she muttered.

Jammer crossed his arms over his chest. He managed not to look away, but he didn't know what to say. The silence rippled between them.

"Tell me about her," she finally said again; it was less a request, more a demand.

"I don't think I can." He couldn't bear thinking of Tama anymore. "I haven't been able to remember her face for the last three days," he admitted. He'd listened to Tama's spiral of pain for weeks, and in response, and what had he done? He'd brought her to be sacrificed.

"Were you upset with her?" she asked.

"What do you mean?"

"We weren't speaking, you know," she said, by way of explanation, "my son and I, that is. We were in a terrible fight about this place."

"You mean the NCP?"

She nodded. "I didn't want him to join up, but he did anyway."

"Why didn't you want him to join?"

She shrugged. "Why do you think? I couldn't stand the idea of him collaborating with the toasters. I told him I never would forgive him if he joined. But now ..." she gestured at the careful piles of concrete laid off to one side by the Centurions, "I think I finally understand."

Jammer nodded uncertainly.

"The day he joined,“ she continued, “he came back to the house and said to me, ‘Mom, I can either help clean up the mess, or I can keep making it.’"

She gave Jammer a wry smile. "I was so angry with him then, I didn't think about what he meant. But now? If I could see him now …” She looked over at the body bags. “His way had to be better than this.

"I wish I ..." Jammer began, but then his voice turned feeble, unable to finish. Words weren’t going to undo what had been done, anyway; no matter what he said, this woman’s son would still be zipped up inside a body bag, killed by a bomb planted by one of his friends, whom
The Resistance had made into a ruthless killer. It had done the same to three other people so far, and it wasn’t going to stop.

He looked again at the ruins of the New Caprica Police headquarters, and realized he had made a decision.

That night, after Tama’s funeral, Galen went back to his cot in Anders’ tent and dreamt that he was standing on a bluff overlooking a gleaming city of glass and metal. A fiery sun hung over the skyscrapers and towering monuments, enveloping the city in a haze of burnt crimson. In the incomprehensible way of dreams, he understood that he was looking at New Caprica City.

He felt a hand rest on his shoulder; when he turned around, he saw a young man standing behind him. The boy was fourteen, maybe fifteen years old, at most. Again, the strange rules of dreams applied, and he knew this young man immediately.

“Nicky,” he whirled around in soft amazement..

His son’s smile was beatific. “It’s good to see you, Dad.”

“It’s good to see you too.” Galen hugged him, stammering with sudden grief. “You’re so … much older.” He wondered when his son had stopped being an infant in a crib. “Gods, Nicky, I screwed up. You’re practically a grown man, and I missed it all.”

Galen’s shoulder felt warm from his son’s calm, steady breaths. “It doesn’t matter,” he said sweetly. “The Cylons took good care of me.”

His happiness was extinguished like a snuffed candle. Galen backed out of his son’s embrace, his whole demeanor a horrified question. “The Cylons?”

“Of course, ” Nicky replied. “They’re very good to us.”

Galen felt another hand on his back, a comforting one he knew well. “Cally,” he murmured with pleasant surprise. He wondered what she looked like now, after all these years.

Nicky’s tone darkened. “Mom’s been dead for a while, Dad.”

“What?” Galen whirled around.

She stared at back at him, wearing the same eerie smile as his son.

Sharon?” he choked.

“It’s all right, Chief,” she said, beaming. “I looked out for Nicky. I made sure he was brought up right.” She gazed over Galen’s shoulder at the young man. “He’s turned out well.”

As Galen drifted back around to examine his son anew, his mouth fell open in stunned confusion.

Where Nicky had been standing alone, countless copies of him now stood, stretched back beyond the edge of bluff, beyond the end of sight. The young man he had thought of as his son stood at the front of the multitude, watching him expectantly.

“What …” Galen froze.

Sharon’s fingers grazed his shoulder, her body slid around him with an acrobat’s grace. She draped either arm around the shoulders of father and son, and the three of them became a triangle, her body at its highest point.

“Look at what we were able to accomplish with enough time, Galen,” she sighed, her head turned contentedly towards the shimmering city down below.

The young man nodded, as if in slow motion. “It’s so beautiful.” He turned to Galen. “Tells you something about the divine hand of God, doesn’t it?”

Galen twitched and shook off Sharon’s arm. He inspected the figure that he thought of as his Nicky, the original. “Where’s your mother?” he insisted, a chill creeping up his spine. “How did she die?”

But his son was no longer looking at him. He had joined Sharon in dreamily surveying the brilliant city. “She’s with God now,” he said without concern. “It was for the best. She felt very alone.”

Galen paused. “Where did I go?”

“I don’t think you went anywhere, Dad. I think you were just gone.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

“Doesn’t it?” He shrugged, still entranced by the shimmering spectacle below. “It doesn’t matter. You were gone, so the Cylons took care of us.”

“You and your mother?”

“He means humanity.” Sharon’s voice broke in. “We are now all one people,” she said, more sharply now, “as we always dreamed to be.”

Galen turned to look at the city again in horrified guilt. “How did that happen?”

Sharon’s eyes glittered like the cold steel in the city below. When she spoke, every one of her words was a sharp edge. “It was easy, Galen,” she said. “It was almost too easy. You all wanted it to happen.”

“I didn’t want it to happen,” he protested.

“Really?” she cast a doubtful eye upon him.

“Really,” he insisted.

She closed her eyes, as if suddenly tired. “Well, it’s too late. We won. It’s our city now. Humanity belongs to us now.”

“That can’t be,” he said. He looked back at his son, and found he could no longer even distinguish between any of the multitude of copies. “Nicky!” he cried out in panic. “Where are you?” They all stared at him with identical, featureless, distant expressions, then smiled in unison.

“Humanity is ours now, Galen,” Sharon said. “I told you. There’s nothing you can do.”

He thought about this for a moment. “Yes, there is,” he said, suddenly irrationally confident.

“What’s that?” she said, clearly distracted as she turned her attention back over the cityscape. The glare of the red light off the endless metal and glass was blinding. Galen closed his eyes. In darkness, he made his decision.

He didn’t open them again until he’d already leapt off the bluff and was falling, fighting the intense pressure of rushing air. His body careened and flipped upside down, somersaulting as it buffeted its way through the void, but his mind was clear.

Sam Anders watched silently as Tyrol rose from his cot, picked up his jacket, zipped it closed. Sam couldn’t exactly identify his friend’s expression. It was a strange mixture of deep regret – almost resignation – and resolution.

“Anders?” Tyrol spoke softly, as if he wasn’t sure whether or not to wake the other man. “Oh, forget it,” he mumbled to himself moments later. Somehow, Anders couldn’t bring himself to respond. Tyrol was one of his closest friends, and he didn’t like to think that they hid anything from each other. And yet he already felt like he’d invaded Tyrol’s privacy by watching the other man get up and look out towards the street.

Only after Tyrol exited did he rise and clumsily put on his boots and heavy coat. His arm hurt like all hell and he’d been shivering even beneath the blankets in the warm tent, but he was better. Thanks to the pills Cain had hoarded, he was better. Anders banished the thought; there was no use dwelling on it.

Anders picked up his pace. Tyrol was a whole block ahead of him. He’d been surprised, at first, when Tyrol had gotten up so early. The meeting wasn’t for another hour and a half. But now he understood, and the only thing that surprised him was the fact that he hadn’t understood from the first moment Tyrol walked out the door. He knew exactly where they were going, knew the precise path Tyrol was going to take. Suddenly, Anders wasn’t so sure he wanted to catch up to his friend. Maybe, at least for now, they each had to walk alone. They were going to the same place; perhaps, though, they each had to find their own way there. Once it was over – once this last ritual was completed – they could march side-by-side once more.

So Anders slowed down, letting Tyrol get ahead of him. Once he did so, he began to look around, to look closely at the people for whom he’d be fighting. He saw a dark-haired woman wrapping a scarf around her neck as she left her small tent. She carried a dirty cloth bag in her right hand. She was probably going to go stand in line to try and get her rations. What was she thinking about? What, he wanted to ask her, do you want? Do you want us to win you your freedom? At what cost? Was she, too, thinking of these matters? No. Anders knew that at once. She was hoping she’d get her rations quickly, hoping that she wouldn’t have to wait outside for hours, shivering as the cold wind cut through her worn coat. He didn’t blame her for it, either. That’s what bad conditions did to people. It reduced them to their most basic drives, made them devote all of their energies to the struggle for survival. It was a given that almost every moment would be spent on that. What was incredible – miraculous as any story he’d ever heard about the Gods – was that even here in this frozen land, people would never cease to think altogether.

Anders turned left at the next corner. Tyrol had gone right. Same destination, different directions. He passed a small stand from which an elderly man was selling supplies. His blue hat was pulled down over his ears, and he was standing very still. Across the street, a young couple was walking arm-in-arm, eyes fixed exclusively on each other. Did it matter, to them, that they lived in an occupied land? Anders knew that this was his last chance to contemplate the city like this; from here on in, he’d have to focus. He’d have to pare down his consciousness until all that remained were twisted wires – red to red, black to black – and lines drawn in red ink upon makeshift maps.

A gust of wind swept down the street, brushing back against Anders’ hair. He was not wearing his hat. Not today. Today, he wanted to feel the wind against his face. He wanted to feel it tear against his skin like sandpaper, stripping back his defenses. Today, after all, he was going to stare down at the scorched earth and not turn away. Not turn away, and not turn back.

On a cold winter morning, two young men approached the ruins of a building that they had helped bomb four days earlier. They came from opposite directions. Neither gave any indication that he was aware of the other’s presence. They stayed for a half hour. One was utterly still; the other took small steps back and forth. They looked down, eyes tracing every curve on the twisted metal, every jagged edge on the broken slabs of concrete. They looked up, too, eyes searching out into the empty tundra. They did not look back at the tents lining the streets of their city.

The one who had stood still left first; the other followed shortly thereafter. Only when they left the site did he appear to remember the presence of his comrade. Only then did he react, did he hurry to catch up with him. By the time they reached their city’s main street, they were walking side-by-side.

They did not speak. Once they reached their second destination they paused at the threshold. They paused, but they were not hesitating. They were searching for the place where the sheets of ice coating the tundra melted up into the sun. 

They were gazing out towards the horizon.

Tags: author:_usakeh_, author:millari, galen tyrol, jammer, past the red line, rated:pg, resistance, sam anders

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