Author: Millari and _Usakeh_
Author's Note: If you want to read from the beginning, here's Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
“What, the waiting?” Tyrol, bored, had been lying in the dirt and brush. He felt incredibly tired, yet he was far too wired and restless to actually fall asleep, so he was lying there, settling for resting his eyes. But Anders’ constant attention to duty shamed Jammer into picking up his own binoculars again and taking another scan of the area around the New Caprica Police headquarters.
“Yeah,” Anders replied listlessly. “All those stakeouts we did back on Caprica; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat with these things on my face for hours, looking for patterns or problems, looking for ways in. I never got used to it.”
“Yeah, well, she just better show up on time, that’s all I gotta say,” Jammer mumbled, more to himself than anyone else. The thing was, he didn’t entirely put it past Tama to flake out and not show up.
“She’s your protégé,” Anders said, not taking his eyes out of the spyglasses. “She’s still got like twenty minutes. Why? Do you think she might run late?”
Jammer took another scan of the grooved dirt roads near the target. “I dunno.” He couldn’t quite keep the low-end nervousness out of his voice. “Probably not.”
Tyrol wasn’t buying it. His eyes shot open. “Seriously, Jammer.” He pushed himself up onto one elbow. “You don’t think she’s going to bail out, do you?”
Jammer chose to hide behind the safety of his binoculars. He said a silent, rote prayer to the Gods. “Nah, she’s ready for this. More than ready for this,” he added as an afterthought.
‘Every time I drive that truck into the loading dock, I just imagine him there, leering at me.’ Tama said quietly, stoking the dying fire between them with a charred stick. ‘And I wonder if he’s going to see me and come after me again.’
“Are you sure?” Tyrol insisted.
Jammer put the binoculars down. “Look, she’s gonna be there. She said she would, she’ll go through with it.” He didn’t know what else to say.
“Ok,” Tyrol said, pursing his lips.
“So Jammer,” he said after a moment.
“She’s not … you’re not … the two of you aren’t seeing each other, are you?”
Jammer blanched for a moment. “Oh. Uh, no. No, we’re not. We’re just friends.”
Tyrol breathed an inaudible sigh of relief. “Okay, okay.” There was another extended silence.
“So why did you bring her in?” he asked, unable to let it go.
Jammer’s expression turned hard, defensive. “You mean, why would I get my friend to join, so she could blow herself up, don’t you?”
Tyrol looked down, embarrassed.
“Look, when I brought her in, I didn’t know she was going to volunteer for that. That was entirely her decision. I only told her about the Resistance because she was always talking about how much she hated the NCP.”
“Yeah, Sam told me about her parents getting killed.”
“She’s never been the same since. She carries all this anger inside her, and holds it down so deep that she … that she …” His voice trailed off.
“I never expected her to do this.” He seemed to be pleading with Tyrol to understand. “I only told her about the meetings because she just seemed to … need it. I thought it would help.”
“Those NCP bastards. What did they have on her parents, anyway?”
“Nothing,” Jammer said.
“Nothing?” Tyrol gaped at him. “So why’d they kill ‘em?”
‘Don’t you get it, James?’
Tama’s gaze bore into his. Its intensity took him by surprise, unnerved him. ‘I feel like I’m going to die every time I go in there, but if I don’t keep doing it; if I miss even one day because I’m scared, then that bastard has won. I’m not going to let him win.’
“An NCP’er spotted her while she was on her route, making deliveries to the headquarters, liked what he saw, and asked around. A day later, he showed up at her family’s tent and went after her. When her parents tried to stop him, he killed them.”
Tyrol whistled through his teeth. “Gods!”
Anders was distracted into putting down the binoculars. “Holy frak. And now we’re sending her off to blow herself up.”
They all left the sentence hanging there for a moment. Tyrol hunched his shoulders and looked away. He picked up the binoculars again and scanned the landscape in uncomfortable silence.
“How did you know her?” Anders asked.
“We’ve been friends since after the attack. We were both started attending the same temple services on the Phaeton. We found out we used to live in practically the same neighborhood on Tauron, but we never knew each other back then …”
Tyrol’s gaze was still glued to his binoculars. “Frak me! What the frak is this?”
“What is it?” Anders snatched his binoculars and threw them up to his eyes. “What am I looking for?”
“Left side,” Tyrol said frantically. “Look! Those are kids, right?”
“Frak,” Anders echoed him softly. “What the hell are they doing there?”
“What are you guys talking about?” Jammer asked. The three men said nothing for a few seconds, each of them combing the area with their binoculars.
“Hey, is that the woman you were telling me about?” Anders broke the silence with his surprise, his eyes still scanning feverishly, “you know, Roslin’s aide?”
“Tory Foster?” Tyrol said in surprise. “Where?”
“See her? Towards the back of the line of kids walking into the south entrance.”
“Those must be kids from Roslin’s school,” Jammer’s voice expressed horrified disbelief. “What are they going in there for? We can’t blow that building up now.”
All three men took down their binoculars and stared at each other.
“What do we do?” Tyrol asked.
“We call it off,” Anders breathed. “We gotta call it off.”
“The Admiral won’t like it,” Tyrol said worriedly.
“She won’t like it if she finds out we blew up schoolchildren and could’ve stopped it.”
The word schoolchildren spurred Tyrol’s resolve.
“Okay, you’re right. But we gotta tell Cain first.”
He had barely finished his sentence when Anders started running, disappearing into the trees, taking what Tyrol knew was a shortcut to the rendezvous point.
“Frak. He’s going to start yelling at her.” He turned to Jammer. “I gotta go after him. He’s just gonna piss her off, get himself killed.”
“You guys will never make it back in time,” Jammer protested.
“We can make it.” We’ve got to make it, he told himself.
“But what if Tama gets here before you get back?”
Tyrol’s body was a coiled spring “Keep an eye on the building. If we get really lucky, the kids might come back out again before
“And if they don’t?”
Tyrol grimaced. “If they don’t?” He paused. “I don’t know. I think we’re frakked.”
Jammer watched him break into a run after Anders. Soon, the pair vanished into the trees.
When Tyrol made it to the rendezvous point, near the giant trunk of a fallen, rotting tree, it was all exactly as he'd been dreading. Anders was already in Cain's face, doing exactly the wrong thing. He was telling her what to do.
As he got close, Tyrol could see her jaw hardening, her pupils dilated with silent fury.
"Anders!" he shouted.
"What?" he shouted back, impatience everywhere in his voice.
He motioned with his hand for Anders to come over. Anders looked confused. "What are you even doing here, Galen? We didn't need two people."
Cain finally caught up with the situation. "Tyrol, what the hell are you doing here? And who the frak is at the mission site?"
"Jammer's still there," he tried to reassure her. "We left him there to watch things."
She was impermeable to his efforts. "What are you two doing here? The plan was you stay there until the detonation goes off? What if somebody tries to interfere with her? You left Jammer alone to deal with that? What's wrong with you two? Can't you follow a simple plan?"
"I'm trying to tell you!" Anders waved his hands dangerously close to her face. "The plan's frakked! There are schoolkids in there now! Kids nine and ten years old!"
Cain's eyes narrowed. "In the NCP headquarters? What are they doing there?"
Tyrol took advantage of the moment to seize control of the conversation from Anders.
"We have no idea, Admiral," he said. "But five or ten minutes ago, we all saw a line of about twenty schoolkids go into the NCP building with Tory Foster."
"Tory Foster. She was former President Roslin's personal assistant. She works with Roslin in the schoolhouse now."
"Hmmph," Cain said. "I wonder what's happening. Roslin may be a weak little schoolteacher, but I can't imagine she would willingly turn over her own students to the Cylons. No matter. Either way, this is a most unfortunate development."
"Unfortunate development?" Anders seemed about to lose control altogether. "You're making it sound like it's a foregone conclusion. Those kids don't have to die. You can still abort the mission. And you damn well abort the mission," he continued, "or I'll go stop that girl myself. I'll - "
"Quiet, Anders." The threat did not need to be spoken. It was already present in the cold giltter of her eyes. "We can't afford to act impulsively. This is a difficult situation." Cain paused there, and for a terrible moment, Tyrol was sure that one simple phrase would follow: but we can't turn back now. Cain cared about results; the fact that the casualties would be grade school kids wouldn't weigh on whatever she had left of a conscience. Only the ultimate consequences counted, in Helena Cain's world. "But I'm afraid you're right," she continued at last. "We'll have to abort it. If we don't, we are going to lose lots of potential sympathizers. For our group to be effective, it has to have widespread support. This isn't a purely military operation; public opinion matters."
“Good. I’m glad we agree that blowing up schoolchildren isn’t the best way to help our cause,” Anders said. Tyrol cringed. His friend was treading on dangerous territory again. After a pause, Anders turned away from Cain and looked at him. “Are you coming with me?”
“Neither of you,” Cain interrupted, “are going anywhere. You’re both far too valuable to risk. We don’t have nearly enough people with your skills and experience. You two will stay put.”
“You’re not serious.” Anders stared Cain straight in the eye. “You just said you want to stop the operation. We have no abort signal, remember? You said yourself, ‘No abort signal. We don’t give suicide bombers second chances to think about it.’ We have to go ourselves.” Anders’ entire body was tense, ready for action. “If we don’t stop this, there won’t be any point in us sticking around to help, because there will be no Resistance. Nobody’s going to support us if we frak this–”
“Don’t waste my time, Anders.” The edge on Cain’s voice could have cut through New Caprican ice. “You’re not going, and that’s final.”
“Then why’d you even bother to try and feed us that bullshit about public opinion, huh? You think I’m going to buy that if you don’t even let us try and prevent this disaster? How frakking stupid do you think we are?”
“Didn’t you hear me before, Anders? Don’t waste my time. You two are not the only men under my command, thankfully.” She turned to Tyrol. “Alert Jammer. Tell him he’s to try and stop Tama. If he gets captured, he’s to kill himself.”
“Jammer?” Tyrol choked, unable to keep the disgust out of his voice. It shouldn’t have mattered – shouldn’t have made a difference, when the lives of twenty schoolchildren were at stake – but the fury spread through him in a flash. How dare she? How dare she so callously command that another man to go off to his death for the greater good? It doesn’t depend. Maybe Vissarion had been right. Maybe it didn’t. Maybe none of it was right; maybe he should have stepped out from the very first moment he felt doubt welling up from within. “You don’t think he’ll make it back alive, do you? That’s why you’re sending him instead of me. Because he’s expendable,” Tyrol continued flatly.
“Yes,” Cain responded calmly. “Precisely. It’s a dangerous mission; he may not succeed. We can’t risk the integrity of our entire organization. If he gets captured, he’s to kill himself. If you see that he gets captured and doesn’t do so immediately, you’re to take him out.”
“No,” Tyrol. “I won’t look one of my men in the eye and tell him to go on a mission like that without telling him a moment later that I’ll be right by his side. I don’t care whether you think I’m valuable or not. I’m going along with him.”
“That’s exactly why you’re not an Admiral, Tyrol. Now, if you are unable to follow my instructions, you are not going to go at all. I’ll send somebody else. By the time they get the message it may very well be too late, but I am not going to have all of our plans compromised because you’re too attached to your little friend. You are to go. You are to tell Jammer what to do, and you are to watch from afar. That’s an order.”
“Then that’s an order I’m not following.” Tyrol’s voice was firm, steady. “I’m going with him.”
“You are not doing that.”
“I’d like to see you stop me, Admiral,” Tyrol said, taking a step forward.
“I will.” And then in a smooth, fluid motion, Admiral Cain pulled out her gun and turned it on Samuel Anders. “If you make one more move, I’ll shoot. One–”
“Oh no you won’t,” Anders interrupted, still all confidence. “I’m essential to your organization. You said so yourself. You’re not going to kill me to prevent us from going and possibly getting killed. You may be a cold-hearted bitch, but you’re not stupid. I’ll give you that.”
“Maybe he’s more important than you are, Anders. I can train other resistance fighters. You think you’re the only brave, thoughtless type full of fire and hatred for the Cylons? Hardly. But I can’t train new technicians.” If Anders had intended to provoke Cain with his comments, he’d failed completely; the woman was perfectly composed.
“You’re crazy,” Tyrol muttered. “This is crazy.” Tyrol had heard the rumors about what she’d done to her own officers on Pegasus when they’d disobeyed her. But Anders was an asset, as she’d said. She wouldn’t. She couldn’t possibly.
“You move,” Cain said, “and I shoot. It’s that simple.”
“You’re bluffing,” Tyrol said. “You wouldn’t.” The last phrase was part statement, part question. “You wouldn’t,” he repeated, yet, somehow, he was still frozen in place.
“Right now, Tyrol, Tama’s truck is still moving forward. You are preventing me from taking steps to abort the mission. You are clearly incapable of looking at the larger picture.”
“No. I’m not.” That was it, exactly. The larger picture. Cain’s phrase snapped Tyrol out of his trance. “And I’m going,” he said. Cain wouldn’t do it. She wouldn’t dare, Tyrol told himself, and so he surged forward.
A second later he heard the sound of a gunshot crack through the cold air. Instinctively, he turned. As Tyrol rushed back to his friend, Helena Cain strapped her gun securely back into its holster and strode off towards the mission site. She did not look back.
They’re not coming back in time.
Jammer looked down at his watch. Another ten minutes, and she’d be here. They weren’t coming back in time, and it was starting to dawn on Jammer that he could sit here and watch a disaster unfold, or he could do something about it.
He racked his brain, but the only thing that came to mind was a random, half-forgotten memory of Tama sitting in her truck at the vehicle pool. She was sitting with the door ajar, the cup of boiling hot coffee she had carefully walked over to the Cylon supply distribution center perched on the dashboard of her assigned truck. Her blonde hair was pulled back into its perpetual ponytail. She had often worn her hair long and loose before … that day.
She was thanking him for walking her to work, her first day back. He saw her picking up the phone in her truck to call the loading docks on the west side of the complex, to find out if they were ready for her to pick up her deliveries, her bent, fluttering fingers gliding through her bangs over and over.
He could call her. He knew there was a public phone right down the block. It was far enough away from the NCP building that he probably wouldn’t attract any unusual attention. He could just call her and say as little as possible.
Did he dare?
Cain and Tigh would kill him if they found out. One of the first things they’d told him when he joined was to never again consider using the Cylon communications network, as the Cylons had only set up phone booths on every major roadway and in every public building in order to spy on the planet’s human population. But he could be discreet. Find a way to tell her to stop, while keeping the conversation meaningless on the surface, in case anyone was listening in.
Jammer took a deep breath. He had to do it. Tigh wasn’t going to blow up schoolkids. Tama wouldn’t want to blow up schoolkids if she knew. He had to get in touch with her before it was too late.
He took one last look behind him into the woods, searching for asign of Anders or Tyrol. He looked again at his watch. He had five minutes. It had to be now.
He began walking.
She turned a corner and passed the large, gleaming Cylon temple, built in stone and glass practically overnight, to allow them to properly worship their one, nameless god.
Brother Demetrios, Tama’s priest, had told his congregation about the Cylon god. He was demanding, vengeful, Brother Demetrios said, even if the Cylons liked to preach that he was love.
Tama hadn’t worshipped anything for two months. She wouldn’t step into a Temple now, not even if someone paid her.
The tires momentarily skipped just over the edges of a particularly deep pothole that she usually knew to avoid on this road. The impact made the whole truck vibrate. It knocked the ringing receiver off its cradle and sent it skittering onto the floor.
“Frak,” she cursed, keeping an eye on the road. She slowed the truck down as she peered out of the corner of her eye at the fallen receiver. She didn’t want to talk with anyone. Not now.
She recognized the voice coming over the line.
She reached down with one hand to pick up the receiver. Slowly, she put it to her ear. “James, is that you?”
“Yes.” He sounded strange, a little halting. She turned the wheel with her left hand to round the next corner. One more turn to go.
“What’s up, James?” She could hear the softness in her own voice and wondered at it. Inside, she felt completely hardened.
Her brow furrowed in confusion. “Yeah? Well, okay. Is that it?” She swerved to miss another nasty pothole.
“Uh …” The voice stayed hanging for a long moment. “I was thinking about what we talked about last night, you know, about the Gods …” There was a long pause. “Listen, where are you?”
“Where am I?” It seemed such a ridiculous question. “Okay … um …” She felt like she was exercising infinite patience to entertain this line of questioning. “I’m on …wait, what the hell do they call this cross street?” She scanned the upcoming corner for the gleaming new signs the Cylons had posted everywhere when they had arrived and insisted on naming every mud-covered street in New Caprica City. “I’m passing the intersection of Middle Street and Caprica City Way,” she reported.
“Oh,” Jammer said. “Okay.”
“So what do you want, James?” she said, trying to be gentle with him; but the truth was, as much as she liked him – might’ve even fallen in love with him, if that monster hadn’t come along and frakked up her so bad – she had woken up this morning and found she’d lost interest in him completely.
“So you’re near the NCP building, then, aren’t you?”
James had been so good to her, so patient with her jumpiness, her moodiness. He’d always listened when she wanted to talk about what had happened to her, even when she told him the gory details. And yet now, she couldn’t help but feel like he was just wasting her time.
“Yes, the NCP building,” she half snapped, unable to stop the way it came out. “So?”
“I was just walking by there, actually.” His voice had adopted a forced brightness that was very unlike him; her mind puzzled on the strangeness of it a moment, then cast it aside.
“I happened to see something odd there, actually,” he said. “There was a whole group of schoolchildren with their teacher walking into the building. I think they were on a field trip or something.”
“A field trip?” Every new thing he said kept sounding more and more ridiculous and pointless to her. “They still do those kinds of things?”
The truck banged and vibrated again as she hit another pothole.
“Frak,” she grumbled into the phone. “Stupid Cylons. Figures they’d name every frakking road in the city, but they can’t fix the godsdamn potholes.” She realized with a grim pleasure that she didn’t have to watch her words on these phone lines anymore.
“Morons,” she added with bitter glee.
Nothing mattered anymore. She was utterly free, even now. She didn’t even care if the NCP bastard saw her now. In fact, she hoped she would see him today. She liked the idea of flipping him off and having his confused, angry face be the last thing she saw.
She took the last turn. She was now on Geminon Boulevard. The NCP building was only six blocks from here.
“So James,” she said, “I’m gonna need to get off the phone. I’m at the last leg here.”
“You did hear me, right?” The intensity of his voice had grown. He was trying to sound casual, and failing.
“Heard what?” she said.
“About the kids. On the field trip. They’re in the NCP building right now. “Doesn’t that make you think?”
“About what?” She swerved to miss yet another pothole.
“What do you mean, ‘about what’?”
She heard the edge in his voice and knew it should be sharpening her focus, but she just didn’t have the interest to find out what
he was on about. She went back to counting.
On the side of the road, a set of four Centurions patrolled the barbed-wire perimeter of the Cylon Ministry of Infrastructure building.
She watched them, letting the truck coast. Almost every day on her route, whenever she passed this building, she had wondered how the regimented movements of these machines could also seem so full of ease, so fluid, so human.
The sound of Jammer clearing his throat into the phone brought her back.
“Come on, Tama. Why don’t you and I go get a coffee, right now?”
“James.” Her laugh came out splintered. “I’m busy, remember? I’ve got a job to do,”
“Yes, I know. I ah …” She heard him struggling for the right words. “I think … I think you should … quit your job. Pull over your truck
right now, and just leave it. I’ll take you for a coffee, and we’ll … talk.”
She heard his stammering and finally, she understood. Schoolchildren. He wanted her to stop the mission.
“There’s nothing to left talk about,” she said.
“I can see you coming down the street.” His tone was sliding straight into panic. “Come on. Pull the truck over right now.”
Her curiosity momentarily piqued, she squinted up ahead and saw his hunched figure at the phone booth at the side of the road.
“You’re not understanding me!” he shouted, his caution completely gone. “Pull over now! Everyone wants you to stop!”
“No,” she said simply.
“What? You have to! There are children in there!” His disbelief sounded so innocent, she almost smiled.
“Yeah, I know,” she said. “You mentioned that already.”
She knew the correct thing to do at this moment was to be gracious, if only so the last person in the universe to know her at all would occasionally remember her and maybe even think well of her.
“James, thank you for everything you’ve done for me,” she said. The concrete entrance to the New Caprica Police Administration and Training Facilities appeared before her – flat, grey, concrete – oddly comforting today in its familiarity. “You’ve been a really good friend, but I’ve got to go now.”
“Tama, please.” His disembodied whisper floated and hovered in her ear, nothing more than a buzzing fly she wanted to swat away. “Please don’t. Pull the truck over. I’ll come get you.”
She hung up the receiver with utter calm. The skinjob at the entrance today waved her through without even motioning to roll down her window. They knew her well here. Or so they thought.
A NCP officer she didn’t recognize waved her into the sheltered loading dock, to help her back the truck into its usual spot. She was slightly disappointed not to see him here, but then she hadn’t really expected to. As far as she knew, she hadn’t ever seen that monster before or since.
With expert precision, she let the truck slide into its marked spot. At the same time, her free hand found the crude remote in her jacket pocket.
She pressed its single button.
No going back now.
She just barely heard the muffled sound of the charges blasting open the compressed chamber deep inside the back of the truck.
She sat and waited, a waterfall of relief tumbling over her as she waited for death’s release.
Then he ran like hell.
Anders and Tyrol had explained that once the charges blew a hole in the container, the compressed gases in the fertilizer would expand quickly and explode, in a minute or less, if the combined tylium did its job well.
The mud under his feet felt like running on a world made of blankets. He watched the ground as he ran, trying to focus on not slipping and falling. He tried to count the secondshe had left, even though he knew he had wasted valuable time at the phone booth, and had no real idea where to start counting.
Forty? Thirty-nine, thirty-eight, thirty seven -
He cried out in intense pain as he absorbed the sudden impact of bone against bone. The pain was blinding.
“Jammer!” a female voice hissed at him. “Where did you go? Why did you leave your assigned post?”
He blinked past the pain to see Admiral Cain rubbing her forehead with an annoyed expression.
“I … I … tried to stop her, but it’s too late,” he panted. “She’s already in there. Almost a minute now, I think. It’s gonna blow any second! We’ve got to run!”
The last thing he saw was her eyes widen. Then the loudest noise he had ever heard took over the world, and he felt the Admiral shoving him, hard, into the soft mud.