They say the Cylons look like us now.
The Face of the Enemy
For a single and seemingly endless moment, the world around Tara Maclay stood still, as the young doctor of Colonial History and English Literature kept staring at the literally living ghost standing right in front of her. While at the same time, on another world, her unconscious and injured girlfriend was dragged out of the burning wreckage of the Raptor she'd crash-landed only moments before. And Commander Adama, in the CIC of the Galactica fighting for his life; shoot by one of his own pilots: Sharon Valerie - 'Boomer', a Cylon sleeper agent.
'Boomer', one of twelve humanoid Cylon models, that had been rumoured to exist. Like Alan Doral, the PR guy whom she'd first meet aboard the Galactica ages ago. Or Leoben Conroy who'd been encountered by Adama at the Ragnar Anchorage. So now they knew about three of the twelve models.
'Make that four,' Tara advised herself in her mind. After all, right now she was looking at another avatar of humanities biggest mistake - the Cylons. Cylons - created out of mankind's arrogance and its want to play God - to created life. But the life they'd created turned against them, and now they had not only evolved farther than anyone had thought possible, they had even succeeded in copying their makers all together. 'Twelve models,' Tara thought, 'so, assuming that they are still the machinelike beings they once were, the Cylons would surely number their different models; I would be looking at model number ten. You know 10 like teeny?'
She really did still look quite youthful and the short hair suited her rather well. Looking Cylon Faith up and down, Tara felt the all to familiar longing rise within her again. The same longing she'd felt and kept feeling when ever she'd been running into her ex and Kennedy in the past.
Kennedy - she died in Picon City! Faith had been with her, only moments before the nuclear detonation destroyed the entire city Surely not even a Cylon could outrun the destructive power of a thermo nuclear devise. 'They killed Kennedy!' her mind cried out again,' your best friend ever! While Faith simply got a new body and got to go on living.'
"F... Faith?" Tara stuttered once more, though more clearly this time.
"You still remember Maclay. I can't help but be touched", Lt. Davis said all self-assured and frosty. "I, of course, remember you."
Again there was another long moment of silence, in which Tara tried to gather her thoughts.
"But you are...", she began weakly.
"I'm afraid the rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated."
"But you were there in Picon City," Tara said and put her arms protectively around her torso, "with Kennedy." She flinched on speaking the name of the only best friend she ever had.
"Ah yes," Faith said, like one fondly remembering a sunny day at the beach, "actually it's been quite the show."
Much to Tara's relief the female Cylon couldn't go on, for in that moment a pair of marines stormed past by them, followed closely by four medics and a gurney. There was a knowing smile on 'Rogues' face, as Tara could see, like she knew what her fellow Cylon - 'Boomer' had just done. Perhaps, she too had been briefed. No, programmed, Tara corrected herself, programmed to carry out this task if she should have the chance today.
Studding the all to familiar features, Tara once again remembered the hurt and sorrow she'd felt, when she had mourned the death of her best friend as well as her ex's. Part of her was even happy to see at least one of them back to life again. But at the same time, a voice inside her head reminded her that Willow was her girlfriend now and her one true love. Even though she was 'Missing in Action', there was absolutely no reason to believe that she wasn't still alive.
'I know Willow's alive,' Tara thought, 'because if she wasn't, a part of me would have died with her.' Suddenly one particular voice inside the ever growing confusion within Tara's mind started to yell at her: 'Wake up fool, this isn't the real Faith because that one is dead! 'This is a Cylon - who got killed or destroyed and reborn into another body. With other words, you are looking into the face of the enemy! And that makes you...'
Yet another shudder ran through Tara's body, as she finally realised the full weight of the situation at hand and her eyes darted down to Faith's right leg and the holster with the gun which was the standard equipment of every officer. Her mind racing, Tara tried to assess the situation. In this moment Cylon-Faith was looking the other way, distracted by the commotion in the CIC; as was Corporal O'Reilly but he stood about two meters away from both of them. So right now Tara was standing but a few steps away from a Cylon enemy agent, and her gun holster which she had spotted was open.
'She's a Cylon - they ambushed Willow and the others over on Kobol!
'She's the enemy - they killed Kennedy!
'THEY'VE KILLED KENNEDY! '
It echoed throughout Tara's mind, fuelling a rage she'd never experienced before in her life, and without really making up her mind Tara moved into action. With no one taking notice of her, she took another step towards Cylon Faith and in one swift motion with speed she'd hadn't known she was capable of, Tara drew the gun form 'Rogue's holster, stepped back and - 'lock and load!' - aimed right at the head of her ex-girlfriend. Surprising herself as well as everybody else in the vicinity.
Eliza Faith Davis was the first to turn around, looking right into the muzzle of her own weapon, she found herself mildly surprised. Not so much by the fact that she was threatened with her own gun, but that of all humans onboard this Battlestar, she had been taken by surprise by Tara Maclay. Despite the seriousness of the situation, she started to feel quite amused too. Tara, this sweet soft spoken female was pointing a gun at her. This amusement however was short-lived because when she looked into her ex's blue eyes she saw eyes that were no longer reflecting warmth of loving kindness, but icy coldness of the eternal ice of the south pole of Caprica. Looking into these ice cold blue eyes she saw nothing, but: "I'm death and I'm going to get you."
And for the first time in her more than fifty years of existence - starting out like the other Cylons as a artificial intelligence, becoming self-aware inside the robotic shell of a Cylon Centurion - Number Ten experienced fear. Not about dying right here and right now because unlike her physical body, her being - her soul was immortal and she would simply be waking up somewhere else inside in an identical body. No, she was more troubled of the sight of Tara being willing and able to kill. Standing right in front of her she appeared to Cylon-Faith, like a white queen - beautiful and terrible as the morning and the night, for all to love and to despair.
'You killed my best friend!' Tara cried out in her mind, feeling all infuriated and wanting revenge, though unknown to herself her features remained completely motionless. She knew how to fire a weapon although she'd never done it. In fact she never even had held a gun in her hands before. She hated guns. The irony wasn't lost on Tara, that it had been because of Faith and her fight for a broader gun legislation, that she possessed the theoretical knowledge of how to handle a firearm. And theoretical or not, that was all she needed to end this - at least for now.
'Tara don't,' a voice whispered throughout her mind, a voice that Tara recognized at once.
'Kennedy?' she thought.
'Don't do it,' Kennedy's voice whispered again, sounding ever more urgently and pleading now. 'But, she's a Cylon! They killed you and all the others we left behind,' Tara thought desperately. 'Yes they did, but if you kill her, defensively and unarmed as she is right now, you will become exactly like them. You are not a killer, Tara Maclay. This thing is not worth giving up your humanity, giving up your soul,' Kennedy explained patiently.
In that moment the spell was broken, and blinking, Tara found herself being yelled loudly at! Not by Cylon-Faith; who was still looking at her; though no longer cool and self-assured, but rather with an odd mix of surprise and trepidation; but by young Corporal Bruce O'Reilly, who stood only two meters away from her, aiming in turn his gun at her.
"Put that weapon down Dr. Maclay!" he yelled and for a moment Tara felt obliged to obey his order. But then she remembered why she had disarmed 'Rogue' in the first place and so instead of slowly dropping the hand holding the firearm, Tara brought up the other one up as well to steady her grip on the weapon and to keep her hands from shaking.
To O'Reilly she simply said: "No."
"What?!" O'Reilly shouted. "Are you out of your frakking mind? You are pointing a gun at a member of the Colonial Armed Forces! So put that thing down, before you force me to shoot you!"
Without taking her eyes from Faith, Tara tried to explain what she'd learned only a moment before. "She's not a Colonial Officer," she said calmly, more calmly than she actually felt. "But she is an Colonial Officer. I mean she's not who she claims to be... I mean what she appears... claims to be..." 'Great explaining,' Tara sarcastically thought of her inability to explain herself. 'Lucky I'm not the one aiming the gun at me since I would have shoot myself by now.
"She's a Cylon!" it finally simply burst out of the quite frightened doctor.
"I'm warning you!" O'Reilly kept yelling, and Tara wasn't entirely sure he'd really heard what she had said. "You only keep making things worse. As it is you are already going to keep your president company in the brig. That's only if you stop talking nonsense and put down that gun - now!"
'He doesn't believe me,' Tara thought desperately. But then who could blame him. To him she was nothing more then a crazy teacher pointing a weapon at a fellow officer. No, a superior officer, because as Tara remembered a corporal wasn't an officers rank.
"What is going on here?" a new voice demanded to know and looking past Faith shoulder, Tara saw Buffy stopping about a meter away from Faith.
"Sir," the Corporal hurriedly tried to explain, "Commander Adama ordered me to escort Secretary Maclay to her quarters. On our way we encountered Lt. Davis. The lieutenant and Dr. Maclay seemed to know each other from the looks of it. Then I was distracted by what happened at the CIC, and when I turned my attention back to the Doctor, she was threatening the Lieutenant with her gun."
"She's a Cylon!" Tara cried out in despair.
"What makes you say that?" Buffy Summers asked. Much to Tara's relief, she hadn't drawn her own gun by now and seemed willing to listen first.
"Some time ago, on Caprica, she used to be my girlfriend," Tara explained while trying to keep her aim on Faith and trying to make eye contact with Buffy. "Until she dumped me..."
"So that's what this is all about?" the corporal wondered, "she dumps you and now you're paying her back by denouncing her a Cylon?"
"Shut up Corporal!" 'Slayer' bellowed, and to Tara she said: "Go on."
"She was in Picon City, the day of the attack. Kennedy, a friend of mine, was with her and she called me only shortly before the Cylons nuked that city. She told me that Faith had only moments before left the hotel room. So she was there - and now she's here. There can only be one explanation why!" Tara said, indicating with a short wink of her gun that she meant Faith.
"That's all really interesting," Buffy said, still being remarkably calm, "but it doesn't prove anything. Besides your word, what else can you tell me to believe you that 'Rogue' is a Cylon."
"Yeah what you got?" Faith asked mockingly. It was the first time she said a word, since this had all begun, and Tara started to wonder about this. She could see Cylon Faith being all alert, possibly waiting for her chance to do - whatever.
"I have a picture," Tara said, "in my wallet. Of me and her."
"Well that doesn't prove anything." O'Reilly said, "As I said, they both seemed to have meet before. But that doesn't mean that the lieutenant is a Cylon."
"He has a point," Buffy said, and her level voice told Tara that she was running out of time and trying to think while trying to ignore the gun that was still pointed at her, she remembered another photo she had in her wallet.
"I remember Willow telling me about this new pilot, she had with her patrol," Tara explained, "call-sign 'Rogue' and she told me that this newbie, as she called her, had told her that she'd been on her way from Saggitaron to the fleet headquarter on Picon, and that they were only five hours away from Picon when the HQ was hit by nukes."
"That true," Buffy confirmed this part of her story.
"Now it is a two day trip from Saggitaron, one day from Caprica," Tara went on. "Now I have a snapshot I've taken from my Faith and Kennedy at the spaceport of Caprica City, the day I left for the Galactica and they for Picon. It's a digital photo printed right at the spaceport. And the time-code at the backside will prove that it was taken at a time on which this Lt. Eliza Faith Davis here, was already in space and on her way to Picon."
"Well that's a start, " Buffy said, " and hopefully it will help to clear things up. Where is it?"
"In my wallet. Left inside pocket of my jacket," Tara explained and the moment she'd said it, she realized that she might have made a crucial mistake. For in order to get to her wallet, Buffy had to cross in front of Faith, possibly even through Tara's line of fire. 'Who is the soldier here, Buffy or you?' Tara scolded herself, as she watched Buffy walk up to her and past Faith. The moment 'Slayer' came up at her side No. 10 made her move.
With inhuman speed, she grabbed Buffy by her shoulders - who had no time to react to this assault, and in no time standing with her back to the wall, she had Buffy positioned protectively in front of her. Holding her in check with her arm wrapped around her throat, Faith reached for Buffy's sidearm and placed it right against the side of her head.
"So enough with the fun here," Cylon-Faith declared unemotionally, "you two, put down your guns nice and slowly, or I promise you I will kill your chum!"
"So she really is a Cylon!" O'Reilly cried out. Even though too late, he swung around after Faith had grabbed Buffy and now he was pointing his gun at the Cylon avatar and her hostage.
"Well aren't you a real smarty," Cylon Faith sneered. "And now put your gun down before you hurt yourself, boy!"
Bruce O'Reilly, Tara saw, hesitated. He was quite young, and surely had not been with the armed forces long enough to really be able to cope with a hostage situation. Especially if both the hostage and the hostage taker where comrades of him.
"So what are you planning to do?" Buffy asked, sounding only mildly distraught. "Simply walk out of here?"
"Something like it, yes," Cylon-Faith said to her hostage and then addressing the teacher and the soldier, who were now standing side by side. "I won't say this again, put your guns down now!
"Tara, this is your girlfriend's best friend," she said slowly.
"Do you really want to have to explain to 'Red', I mean 'Red-Dyke' - all out and proud now huh? - Anyway, do you want to explain to her that her best friend has been shot because you tried to be some frakking hero?"
For the first time now Tara started to have doubts. 'What am I doing?' she asked herself. 'I'm a teacher, not a soldier. What makes me think I can do this?' What if Buffy really got killed and it would be because of her actions. How could she ever look into Willow's eyes again? To her left, O'Reilly was slowly starting to drop his gun.
"You too honey bush," Faith said sweetly.
"Don't call me that - ever again!" Tara hissed between her teeth.
"Or what? Stop fussing worm!" Cylon Faith yelled into Buffy's ear, as the Viper pilot made a half-hearted attempt to free herself from the Cylon's grip. "You and your stupid 'Chosen One' demeanour. Believe me or not 'Slayer' I can break your neck like a pencil."
"You're superior I see," Buffy replied, sounding defeated. "I won't try anything stupid again."
"Now that's a good girl, and a good boy too," Faith said, seeing that the corporal had put his gun to the ground and as stepping away from it. "Now you too, Tara," No. 10 demanded.
"You too, Tara, please," Buffy pleaded, sounding even more desperate by now. But only sounding like it. Looking into her face, Tara could see her looking very determined and with her eyes she pointed down again and again, hopping Tara would get the hint. Lowering her glance slightly, Tara could see that while 'trying to free herself', Buffy had taken her feet one step apart, and thus exposed Faith's left leg from the shelter she'd had behind her hostage.
"Ok, ok," Tara said and held up her left hand, and started to let the gun drop slowly. She send a short prayer to the Lords of Kobol, and looked again at Buffy.
'You can do this,' Slayer's eyes told her. 'I trust you.'
"I knew you hadn't the balls, to do this," Cylon Faith said coldly.
'I can do this,' Tara thought once again and as quickly as she could she grabbed the gun with both of her hands again.
"What are you doing," Faith laughed.
Stopping her descend half way, Tara aimed shortly and pulled the trigger. Much too loud, the shot exploded throughout the hallway, making Tara's ears ring and the backlash made her stumble backwards, the bullet hitting Faith right into her left calf. Crying out in pain, Faith loosened her grip on Buffy's neck. Seizing the opportunity 'Slayer' rammed her elbow into her capturer's stomach, grabbed the pistol and in no time she had the bleeding Cylon on the floor; with her knee on the Cylons neck and the gun pressed to Faith's head.
"So 'Rogue'," Buffy said panting, "seams like your luck has changed. So if I were you, I would ask myself a question: 'Am I prepared to die today?' Or how about: 'Do I feel lucky?' - Now do you, punk?!" Clearly 'Slayer' was quite miffed by now as Tara could see.
Buffy didn't wait for an answer, but instead addressed Corporal O'Reilly, "Corporal, hand me your handcuffs and cover me so I can chain up our prisoner."
O'Reilly did as he was ordered and soon they had Faith lying on her face, hands chained behind her back with her injured leg provisionally taken care of. With Cylon-Faith being brought to the brig by Corporal O'Reilly and Lt. Kim, who'd arrived just after the situation had been resolved, Buffy turned her attention to a very shaken Tara.
"And now," she said gently, "I think we would all feel safer if you would hand me that gun." Tara blinked, only now she realised that she still held the weapon tight within both of her hands, though pointing it to the floor by now. She loosened her grip and handed it to Buffy, handle first, who stowed the weapon away on her belt.
"Well," said Buffy approvingly, "that was some good shot. Have you done a lot of shooting before?"
"No." Tara said weakly, "To tell you the truth, I never before in my life held a gun in my hands."
"Never mind," Buffy said bravely, though Tara could see her turning slightly pale. "Then it was even better. You're a very brave woman, you know that, Tara."
"Sure," said the brave woman and then her eyes fluttered, and with her legs giving way beneath her, Tara fell right into the arms of her girlfriend's best friend.