When you think you love somebody, you love them. That's what love is: thoughts.
A Day in the Strife
"So how was it?" Dana Kim asked, sounding worried. Tara didn't answerer right away, but kept walking silently next to the young lieutenant. After she had left Cylon Number Ten alias Faith, she had waited for Dana to be relieved of her guarding duties. They were now on their way to the officers' mess, where Tara needed to force herself to eat something or else she might faint. Though following this strange conversation with the 'enemy', she felt in no way hungry.
"It was strange you know," Tara said after a while.
"Because it died back on Picon, and now is standing here again - alive?" Dana asked.
"Yes... no. I mean yes it's strange that she's still alive or alive again if you will," Tara said, "but once I excepted her to be the Cylon she is, it no longer mattered that much. Strange though," Tara said now more to herself than to the lieutenant at her side, "how quickly I accepted it. I mean once she admitted it straight out. You know, during the standoff?"
She shuddered again, when she thought back to these terrible minutes.
"So what was so strange about this it then?" Dana asked, going with the fleet wide policy of referring to these humanoid Cylons strictly as 'it'. It was something Tara still couldn't bring herself to do and following the past conversation, she wasn't sure that she could ever think of Faith as a mere it.
"Now first of all," Tara said, "her behaviour was quite different than what I expected, judging from the report Lt. Trace made of her interrogation of this Leoben Avatar."
"Now how do you know about that?" Dana Kim wondered. "That report is classified." Instead of answering Tara gave the young pilot a suggestive half grin that told Dana that she didn't want to inquire this particular subject any further.
"But what I found the most strange," Tara finally went on, "if not disturbing, was how she would behave one minute and completely different the next. You know, especially at the beginning she was all Cylon machine like - hard, cold and sarcastic. Then suddenly she's all friendly and caring, assuring me that she still loves me."
"Now you don't believe that, do you?" Dana Kim asked, cynically.
"That she's still in love with me?"
"No, that this thing is capable of feeling love at all, I mean!"
Tara could not answer and so Dana went on. "I mean, they are machines! All they can do is simulate love. But they could never ever really experience or feel it."
Hearing this Tara stopped and turned around so that she faced the Raptor pilot at her side, whom she considered a good friend. "You know Dana, that is pretty much what I have told her when she claimed to really have loved Kennedy." She lowered her voice, "it's just not that simple anymore."
"What! You wanne let that thing out?"
"No!" Tara replied. "I didn't say that. I know that even now the Cylons as a whole want to destroy us. And whether or not Faith agrees with that I do not know. But believe me I'm glad I'm not in a position where I have to decide what is going to happen with her."
They started walking again, more slowly now, as if they knew that once they reached their destination they would never talk about this anymore.
"For several years," Tara went on, speaking more sadly now, "This Cylon agent and I inside this cell have had a relationship. I loved her and a small part of me still does. Maybe always will... Please don't look at me like that," Tara pleaded as she spotted the smallest hint of disgust on her friends features.
"I loved her and she broke my heart when she left me for Kennedy. But if I accept that this person... this cylon is incapable of really feeling even the most basic human emotion, let along love, what does that say about me?
"If what I felt for Faith was based on a mere simulation, what does that say about my ability to love and be loved?" Her voice failed her and they continued to walk silently for a while before Tara quietly asked: "You see my dilemma?"
Tara could see Dana think about her words and after a while the pilot slowly said: "I think I do. Though I can hardly imagine how you truly feel about all of this. For me 'Boomer' and 'Rogue' where fellow pilots, comrades in arms. And 'Rogue' I hardly knew. Still I felt betrayed and hurt. Asking myself if I shouldn't have noticed something - anything about them being different."
They were near the offices' mess by now and in an unspoken agreement dropped the subject once and for all. Instead Dana filled Tara in about what had happened ever since Commander Adama had been shot by Cylon 'Boomer'.
They had executed an emergency jump because shortly after the fatal shoots had been fired by the Cylon sleeper agent 'Boomer', a Cylon Basestar had jumped into the system. However, due to circumstances unknown, they had lost the entire fleet. It was a message that strangely had little impact on Tara. With Willow missing on Kobol the fate of all the other 47874 people was of no importance to her.
Within the next minutes, 'Rice Pattie' continued, they would jump back to their last coordinates, network the different computers within the CIC, and calculate the position of the rest of the fleet. It would take about ten minutes, during which the Vipers and Galactica's artilleries had to hold of the Cylon Basestar.
"Network the computers?" Tara asked, remembering all of the absolute taboo of such networks aboard this Battlestar that had saved them in the first place, "isn't this totally risky?"
"To tell you the truth it is," Dana admitted, "but Lt. Gaeta is certain that he can create a firewall, that will prevent the Cylons from infecting the system.
"Well it's either taking this risk or losing the fleet for good," Tara said. "And without Galactica's aid they will be finished and we as well." In that moment Tara felt the familiar sensation of the Galactica making the faster than light jump as she had before when she had held Cylon Faith at gun point.
The minute that the jump had been completed Tara felt the vibrations throughout the ship, as Galactica's heavy guns fired, what Willow had called, the enemy suppression barrage.
"Come on Tara let's eat something," Dana said and held the bulkhead to the officers' mess open for the blond woman.
"Eat something?" Tara asked, "we are in the middle of an assault! How can you be thinking about eating at a moment like this?"
"First order of business," Dana said matter of factly, "Survival." She then led Tara to the counter for some late breakfast or lunch since Tara had missed both, as well as she had lost complete track of time during the past events and encounters.
Tara found herself quite surprised that despite the ship being rocky and with the other impact she really enjoyed her brunch that consisted solely of sandwiches and soft drinks from cardboard boxes. It was only after she sat down - or more like held on to - the table that she realised how hungry she was. Less then ten minutes later, the attacks ended as the Galactica jumped away once more and hopefully rejoined with the fleet again.
Kim had offered to accompany Tara to her quarter. They had only just left the mess hall, when suddenly the lights in the hallway flickered and went dead, leaving Tara and the Raptor pilot in complete darkness. Moments later the emergency light came on and in the dim light Tara could see Dana looking really worried but at the same time alert and ready, gun in hand ready to defend both Tara and herself.
"Something happened," she said quietly, "I have a very bad feeling about this." Tara silently agreed, though she didn't dare imagine what might be the cause for her bad feelings. Being all soldier like, with her sidearm ready and keeping Tara right next to the wall and covering her with her own body, Dana Kim lead them to the nearest inter ship phone.
Here too she kept Tara pinned between herself and the a-shaped walls as she tried to make contact with the CIC, the war room or anyone else on board.
"It's no use," she said, after she'd tried for several times.
"Communications is down too?" Tara asked frightened. She'd never before felt so helpless.
"No not down," Dana said calmly, "it's jammed."
"Jammed? By whom?"
"The question is not by whom but by what." At first Tara didn't understand but then remembering what she'd learned about the plan to reunite with the fleet, it occurred to her all the sudden.
"You mean like a virus?" she asked.
"A Cylon computer virus that's right."
"So does that mean that it's going to take over the entire ship's systems?" Tara wanted to know. She asked this question to the back of Dana's head since the young lieutenant was still scanning the area for any possible danger.
"Not necessarily", she answered, sounding intentionally optimistic. "The plan was to cut the hardware of the network between the different computers once the position of the fleet had been correlated. And I'm sure that they managed to do so before this virus had a chance to spread into the entire system. However, as it seems it managed to spread copies of itself into at least one of the systems. But since all computers should be running independently by now again it shouldn't be able to spread itself any further.
"So all they have to do up in CIC is to perch this little bastard from the infected systems and reboot. Now as long as nothing happens during that time, we should be save for now."
"If something happens? Something, like what?" Tara asked and regretted the question right away. As soon as the words were out of her mouth she and Dana heard heavy gun fire in the distance. This was soon accompanied by the heavy metallic steps and machine gun fire of Cylon Centurions walking down the hallways of the Galactica.
The Battlestar had been boarded!
"Some boogie must have gotten through when we fought them off," Lt. Kim said, talking more to herself than to the Sec. Ed. standing behind her.
"So what do you think they're trying to do?" Tara whispered into Dana's ear
"Probably trying to get to Secondary Damage Control and Auxiliary Firing Control. Override the fire suppression system safety lookout, vent us all into space: Then they can simply walk into aux firing control and turn our Galactica's weapons against the fleet, wipe us all out."
"So what can we do?" Tara asked, not really knowing why she would do.
"We? Nothing," the soldier Dana Kim answered. "What I'm gonna do is to get you to safety. And that's sickbay."
"It's the furthest away from any vital system that could be of any interest to the Cylons. It's designed to function as a life pod in case the ship is lost."
Of course they both knew that if the Galactica was lost, all was lost, and being in such a safe place would only make a difference in when you died, not if. Nonetheless, like Dana had pointed out earlier, survival was of paramount importance, and like any other person Tara wanted to live.
"So sickbay it is," Tara said quietly. "So lieutenant, this is your ship, I'm just a tourist. So how do we get there?"
With a few words Dana explained the route she intended to take - "Basically away from any gun fire" - then she bent down and extracted another gun from her boot. She handed it to Tara who hesitated to take the weapon.
"I know it's hard, Tara, after what happened today," Dana said and put the gun into Tara's hand. "But you must be able to defend yourself." Only reluctantly Tara accepted the gun and Dana explained her how to handle it, which of course was similar to Faith's sidearm.
"Ok let's move!" 'Rice-Pattie' ordered, holding the gun with both hands and aiming for anything Cylon in their path, Dana led Tara towards sickbay and away from the sounds of gun fire, which was still echoing throughout the ship.
Going through the empty and almost dark hallways was the real nightmare for both Dana and Tara because they came down passageways where the Cylons had past through first. They found body upon body of murdered marines and other Galactica personal, all gunned down as Tara could see. Though some were even slashed down. Probably by the Centurion's metal hands.
"Don't look down Tara, just look ahead," Dana advised her, though Tara could see how pale and shocked she looked, having to step over her fallen comrades. Tara too recognized one or the other face.
Because of the darkness around her only scarcely penetrated by the emergency lights, the tension and the horror of their current situation, Tara had soon lost any sense of direction and so she simply stumbled after the young lieutenant in front of her, while she kept reminding herself, that should they run into an Cylon Centurion, to take the safety of first before aiming at it's head.
"Where are we?" she asked as they stopped at yet another intersection. Dana whisperingly explained to her that they were at the outer side of the ship right now and soon would be heading inwards towards sickbay. After she had looked briefly around the corner to make sure the corridor was clear, Dana motioned Tara to follow and having her gun ready she swiftly moved around the corner, as always, her gun ready in her outstretched hands ready to fire at anything metal and moving about. Tara followed as fast as she could into one of the smaller side corridors that had all sorts of boxes and small container standing at the side. The sounds of the fight seemed to be farther away by now and also less intense, which let the two woman hope that the marines and Viper pilots defending the Galactica, might have actually gotten the upper hand.
They had just passed into another hallway when suddenly a heavy machinegun fired past them, striking Dana down. Crying out in pain the young lieutenant dropped to the ground behind a storage box. Before Tara let herself fall behind this box as well, she could see a Cylon Centurion, one of it's hands folded back and firing from a machine gun extended from its extremities.
"You're hurt!" Tara cried out.
"Not that badly," Dana said panting heavily, "it's just a scratch, I'm sure." Biting her teeth, she then raised herself up peering over the box and fired some rounds at the only slowly approaching Centurion and ducked down behind their impromptu cover.
"It's like these rounds don't even make a dent in it's frakking metal body," she said. "But at least we can slow it further down." She rose and fired again. The next time Tara rose too, and they both fired at the Centurion's metal upper body. It staggered but kept moving.
"Could be worse though," Dana said between rounds.
"It's alone. Two of them and we would already be dead by now." Tara only smiled shortly before she fired again with all the adrenaline pumping through her vein's she didn't wonder that she didn't feel scared nor panicked anymore.
"What am I thinking!" Dana cried out, and slapped her forehead. "Keep firing Tara!" She ordered, replaced the magazine of her gun and got out another weapon, from where Tara couldn't tell. "So here's the deal," she yelled over the ever growing noise of the Centurions weapon, "after you have fired the next round, you're retreating back into the corridor we came from. I'll cover you!"
"No I won't leave you!" Tara protested.
"That's an order Madam Secretary!" Lt. Kim bellowed and fired two rounds at the Cylon. "You go back and lock yourself into one of the small storage rooms there!"
"But what about you?" Tara wanted to know.
"The last two rounds in this weapon are explosive shells, they will certainly blow this walking trashcan. But I have to let this thing come closer in order to make sure that I really hit it." She and Tara shot at their superior enemy again.
"But I can't do it with you here in danger at my side. So when I say go, you fire and run back, while I take out this mother frakker. Hopefully they will overlook you in that storage room. I follow if I can - ready?" Tara nodded, tightening her grip around her weapon.
"Go! Go! Go!" Dana shouted, stood up and fired.
Tara fired too, then ran the two steps back to the corner and with bullets flying past her, jumped into the corner and landed hard on the floor. Then there came a huge explosion from where she had just left, followed by silence. Lifting up her face and slowly getting back onto her feet again, Tara was about to head back to the corner - despite Dana ordering her to do differently- when she grew aware of an all to familiar figure standing only ten meters away from her.
Faith. Cylon Model Number Ten.
She stood there silently, armed but pointing the sidearm at the deck, looking curiously at Tara, who took cover behind a nearby box.
"Oh cute little Tara playing soldier," the Cylon avatar observed amused. In the sudden silence, following the destruction of the Centurion, her former lover's voice sounded much to loud and infuriating to Tara. Without thinking, Tara jumped out from behind the box, took aim and pulled the trigger, wanting to send this Cylon bitch straight into the life after the next.
Nothing happened - the gun was empty.
In horror, Tara looked at the now useless sidearm and threw it away.
"How did you get out?" Tara asked casually, not so much as to stall time but out of genuine curiosity.
"Well let's say, God looks out for his children," Faiths said and started walking towards Tara.
'So that's it,' Tara thought, 'I'm about to be gunned down by my Cylon ex-girlfriend. One could almost call this ironic.' And like it wasn't enough she heard another Centurion come down the hallway she'd just left. Standing now right in front of her Cylon Faith kept looking at Tara in a curious way. Who in turn started to wonder why she hadn't been shot by now.
'I'm not going to beg for my life if that's what you're waiting for,' she thought and straightened herself, standing tall and proud.
But the Cylon in front of her didn't move. Didn't raise her gun or anything else but kept looking at her. She then seemed to listen hard. Tara listened too and realised that the Centurion wasn't moving anymore. She could make out the familiar humming sound of the red scanning eye moving back and forth in it's head. Now this sound was overturned by the sound of metal being bent and twisted. Now this produced an immediate effect on Cylon Faith still standing in front of her. Letting the gun trop heavily onto the deck she grabbed Tara head with both of her hands and pulled it towards her. Before Tara could tell what was happening, she felt herself being kissed hard and hungry by her ex-girlfriend - the Cylon.
Feeling totally overwhelmed Tara answered the kiss of those lips she knew and once loved to kiss so much. The kiss lasted for les than half a minute but to Tara it seemed like an eternity. Suddenly she felt herself being grabbed by Faith and with sheer inhuman strength swooped of her feet. She opened her eyes, only now realising she'd closed them, saw Faith drag her towards the nearest open storage room bulkhead. The next she knew she heard the sound of air venting into space. Now she realised what the Centurion that she and Dana had stumbled upon had been doing. It had opened up this part of the ship to space.
Tara eyes went wide. Dana! She was still back there and the air was venting into space, dooming every living and breathing being to death gasping for air. Wanting to rescue Dana Kim Tara tried to free herself. But under the growing storm of the air being sucked into space the grip of the Cylon avatar wasn't to be resisted and soon she found herself being literally thrown into the storage room.
Staggering to her feet, Tara could see Cylon Faith through the little bulkhead window, struggling to keep the decompression from ripping the bulkhead wide open. With what Tara could see her last strength, Faith pressed the bulkhead close and together with Tara from within turned the handle to secure the bulkhead shut. With tears in her eye's Tara watched her ex-girlfriend mouth 'I love you' with her dying breath before she got sucked out into space. A explosion hitting the deck beneath her send Tara stumble forwards and hitting her head, she fell into a merciful unconsciousness.
Tara drifted through darkness, with voices chatting all around her.
'Funny', she thought, "but for unconsciousness this is definitely too loud."
"Well then I suggest that you open your eyes and understand that you're neither unconsciousness nor sleeping," a friendly voice right next to her said.
Hurriedly Tara opened her eyes, only to close them again right away, since a bright light sent a sharp wave of pain through her head.
"But might I also suggest that you open your eyes slowly to get used to the lights around here," the voice added helpfully.
"Is that you?"
Carefully Tara turned her head and slowly opened her eyes, to see Dana Kim lying on a gurney right next to her. "And you're alive?"
"Yes!?" Dana answered, mild amusement playing around her lips. "Boy, seems to me you hit your head pretty hard."
"Certainly have," Tara agreed, "because I have absolutely no recollection of how I got here. Wherever here is."
"Well that explains something."
"Nothing," Tara said and rubbed her head. "I just hopped it would make me sound less crazy than what I said before." Very slowly she sat herself up, ignoring the sharp pain flashing through her head.
"So how did you manage to get out of there?" she asked Dana, "I mean the last thing I remember is that the Centurion blew up, then another one turned up and opened the compartment to space." Her eyes were drawn down to Dana's left leg and the enormous band aid that covered her thigh.
Dana followed Tara's look, "Oh that's nothing," she assured her. "Like I said, it's just a scratch. In less a week I will be flying again. As for how I escape two Centurions and one vacuum." She paused for a moment, remembering.
"Right after I blew up that frakking Centurion, I heard the next one approaching. It was then that I realised that I was hiding right next to the entrance of one of the many service tunnels. To make a long story short. I opened that hatch, crawled in and managed to close it, before the other Centurion arrived to finish the task of his 'deceased' brethren. Lucky for me though these tunnels are really diminutive, they are air tight.
"So when they opened this part of the ship to space I was save and sound. I was only afraid of you, not knowing if you had made it and regretting that I could no longer help you." Again she paused for a bit, before she added: "but luckily you were able to survive on your own."
"Not exactly on my own," Tara said quietly, and when Dana locked questionably at her, she slowly added: "Faith."
"Your Cylon Ex?"
Tara nodded. "She must have freed herself during the attack. And when I jumped into the corridor - landing on my face. She simply stood there, gun in hand but pointing to the deck, but nevertheless I thought ready to shoot me. I tried to shoot first, but my gun was empty."
Tara felt silent, suddenly feeling ashamed. "It's frightening, how easy and without thinking I aimed at her, ready to shoot and kill." She shook her head, knowing very well that these events would stay with her for the rest of her life.
"However, when I realised that I had no way to escape, I was actually ready to die. All I could think of in that moment was: 'I'm not going to beg for my life, you Cylon bitch.' But Faith didn't make a move, until we heard the centurion starting to bend something. She then let her own sidearm drop to the ground and then she... she..." Her voice failed her.
"Then what Tara?" Dana asked carefully.
"She kissed me," Tara whispered.
"She did what?"
"She kissed me," the blond woman said once more, this time her voice barely audible over the noise around them. It took Tara some time before she had gotten herself back together again and so they both remained silent, listening to the busy sickbay around them.
"And then," Tara continued after a while, "Faith grabbed me, threw me into the storage room. The last thing I remember is seeing Faith being sucked away and into space.
"She sacrificed her life - or one of her lives - to save me... me... me..." She beat her breast with her hand. But then she could no longer go on. Lying herself down again, she turned away from her friend and silently cried herself to sleep.
"Tara wake up, they are back. The SAR is back." Tara found herself gently woken by 'Slayer'. Opening her eyes, she saw Buffy standing at her side, a comforting hand on her shoulder. "SAR?" she asked groggily, "What's SAR, Buffy?"
"Military talk, comes with the job, sorry. SAR, that's the search and rescue mission, and they are back from Kobol."
"I don't know," Buffy answered. "They just jumped back and are about to land aboard Galactica within the next five minutes or so." She looked comfortingly at Tara. "Are you feeling strong enough to come down with me and see if Willow's with them?"
"Of course I'm," Tara said and swung her around her legs to get out of the bed. Staggering to her feet, she felt a little bit dizzy. "That is, if you could lend me a hand, I'm kinda shaky."
Five minutes later, the two woman stood side by side in the hangar bay, watching the Raptor coming to a halt. The hatch opened and Captain Adama lead a battered and bruised Jessica Cally out of the Raptor, followed by the equally bruised Gaius Baltar, Chief Tyrol and another female specialist, that Tara didn't know. Then two medics jumped aboard, and moments later carried out the injured form of her girlfriend on a gurney. Nothing could stop Tara now, and bullying past the other people present, she went straight to Willow's side.
She seemed to be wounded all over. There were multiple cuts on her face, dried up bloodstains on face and hands. Her right leg had been taken care of with a makeshift splint and heavily bandaged.
Very carefully Tara took Willow's hand into her own, "Willow, honey I'm here. Can you hear me, my love?" she asked softly.
"Tara?" Willow asked weakly, opening her right eye, the other was severely swollen.
"Yes Willow, I'm here," Tara said and walking beside her, gently placed a kiss upon her girlfriends bruised forehead.
"I came back Tara," Willow whispered. "I promised I'll come back...," she felt silent and her eyelids closed again. Her head rolled to the side.