The third principle of sentient life is its capacity for self-sacrifice. The conscious ability to override evolution and self-preservation, for a cause, or a friend, a loved one.
By All Means Necessary
In utter disbelief Tara stared at the contents of the box right next to her on the bed. Another discarded west, some wire, electric components and some left over plastic explosives.
She didn't need to remember her military training from her all-too-brief career as a officer of the colonial forces to know that she was looking at some of the things necessary not only to build a bomb but one for a suicide bomber to wear on his or her body, to blow himself or herself up with the enemy - the Cylons and the members of the human New Caprica police force.
'But not Dawn!' Tara thought desperately.
There had been suicide bombers before, two as far as Tara knew. But from what she had learned in both cases it had been members of the colonial forces. So surely whoever was in charge of the resistance or insurgence was military too and would never send a civilian on such a deadly mission or would he?
Things were getting desperate by now - the Cylons no longer could keep the situation under control. The number of the people being arrested by the traitorous New Caprica Police Force increased daily or sometimes they simply vanished over-night, possibly by same said NCP people. And now the insurgence was answering to that by sending suicide bombers. But could they really be sending civilians too?
"No!" Tara violently shook her head, she refused to believe that.
But if the insurgence hadn't send Dawn to blew herself up, how could Tara explain the things lying in the box? She couldn't, not with Dawn's hair in another box. As much as it hurt Tara to think about it, it really looked like Dawn was ready to take her own life by something so brutal and senseless like a suicide attack. Should she have noticed? Tara asked herself. Noticed, that Dawn had changed so much she was now willing to kill herself in order to take some of the enemies with her?
Looking back Tara was sure that there had been no tell tale signs to pick up on. Dawn had changed so much already after the destruction of the Cloud Nine. After all she no longer was the balanced young woman Tara had assigned to that school.
"Oh Willow how much I need you here right now," Tara whispered. "Maybe you would have noticed something earlier, after all you knew her from when she was little."
Hours later Tara still sat motionless on the bed, staring into the darkness of the tent. She had killed the light hours ago but could not think of actually trying to go to sleep. Instead her mind was running in circles
She needed to do something, anything. She couldn't just sit there and wait to hear that Dawn had killed herself and others too. But she needed help, more help than Cally to look for Dawn.
'Laura!' it shot through Tara's tired mind. Of course, as the former president, she still held an important position among the occupied people. She had some influence down here and as such might even have connections to the man in charge of the insurgence. Who, coming to think of it, might very well be the highest ranking member of the colonial forces - Col. Tigh. So maybe they might be able to help Tara to stop Dawn before it was too late - if it wasn't too late already.
In that moment Tara suddenly felt completely overwhelmed and burying her face in her hands, she started crying accompanied by big heaving sobs that racked her pregnant body. With difficulty Tara managed to pull herself together. Tara was still debating whether or not it would be safe to sneak out, pretending to be on her way to the latrine, to go to Laura's tent, when she heard the distinctive rumble of some heavy trucks coming down the road. The trucks came to a halt and people dismounted from them. People who Tara knew wore black clothes and black masks though nobody knew who these traitors where.
Tara froze in terror. Something bad was about to happen, she could tell. Hushed orders where uttered and then suddenly with much yelling and shouting, the NCP's stormed the tents to Tara's left and right. Her eyes wide with terror, Tara grabbed a blanket and throwing it over her head, she sat down in a corner. Wrapping her arms around her and holding on to her teddy - a gift from the kids at school - Tara sat on the floor feeling both terrified and appalled.
Terrified by the fear that they might come after her and Hope next and appalled that she was sitting on the floor, covered with a blanket like a little girl during a thunderstorm while at the same time in the neighbouring tent Jessica Cally was bound with plastic strings and with a black bag over her head and was hurled out of her tent, screaming for help that would never come. Of course Tara knew that there was nothing she could do and that she needed to think about Hope's safety too. So all that was left for her was to hope and pray that nothing serious would happen to herself, Hope or Jessica Cally.
Eventually the yelling stopped as the trucks rumbled away. It had been quiet for some time when Tara finally fell into a dreamless sleep.
Only a few hours later Tara woke up in pain, her back aching and her feet and bottom ice cold from having sat on the bare wooden floor. She also felt the hint of a headache looming in the back of her head. Tara didn't need much time to remember all the things that had happened last night, not with the discarded contents of the box lying in front of her and Jessica's screams still ringing in her ears.
Groaning from her back pain Tara got to her feet. Knowing that she no longer had any time to spare, Tara put on her parka again. She took a deep gulp of water from her bottle and then hung it over her shoulder, reminding herself to refill it at the nearest water tap outside the tent. She then ate one of the bars of combat rations given to her by Jessica. Even though they tasted like nothing they provided Tara with what she and Hope needed. She pocketed a few of the bars as well.
Tara was already halfway out of the tent when she remembered something. She returned to her bedside and with some difficulty moved her nightstand aside. With her knife Tara loosened a wood panel to reveal a little carefully concealed storage space beneath it. Carefully Tara removed what she'd been hiding there since right of the beginning of the Cylon occupation. She knew it was dangerous to carry this around with her but at the same time she had the distinct feeling that going after Dawn without it would be even less safe.
Finally Tara took up the teddy and put it in one of her parka's pockets. Standing at the entrance of the tent again, she took a last look around the place that had been the home for herself and Dawn for the past four months. She had the strangest feeling that she would not return to this tent ever again.
Despite it still being quite early in the morning, there were already many people out and about on the streets - much more than usual at this time. The air was filled with anger and rage and it didn't take Tara long to too see the reason why. Because on the big announcement board was an official declaration by the presidential office of Gaius Baltar - Death Orders!
Horrified Tara scanned over the so very long list of names.
'Oh my gods, there must be almost two hundred names!' Tara thought. 'And there are Jessica and Laura!' Even Lucy Martin's name Tara found on the list that was drafted by Gaius Baltar.
Apparently the Cylons had decided that it was time to take off the kids' gloves. And like any other oppressive regime in history they found the only way to crush the insurgency was to kill as many people as possible.
'Fools! They would have to kill them all to get that accomplished,' Tara thought bitterly, then headed out to find Dawn.
An hour later Tara had just strolled off the main road, following a gutsy feeling that this might be the right place to find Dawn. Walking this rather strange deserted part of the city, Tara's thought of the humanoid Cylon she had just encountered in the streets. On the first glance it had looked like just another copy of the Cylon number Eight which she once had known as Sharon Valerii.
But unlike the numerous other number Eights Tara had seen in these past four months, this one seemed quite differently. Even if only in the most subtle way, Tara believed to have detected some insecurity in this avatar's body language. And then there had been this rather longing look of this Cylon at her baby belly that Tara had wondered if this might actually have been the only Cylon ever known to have been pregnant; Sharon 'Boomer' Valerii whose baby had died shortly after having been born.
As the thought sank into Tara, what it could mean if this really was the Cylon who had chosen to side with humanity more than a year ago, careful hope began to grown inside her.
All over the city explosions went up letting the earth beneath Tara's feet tremble. These explosions occurred simultaneously around the detention centre, the power station and other vital places of New Caprica City. By now even more people were on the streets, some wearing coloured bands around their arms guiding the people to their designated ships. People were moving relatively calmly but quickly; much like in the countless exercises the insurgence had run right under the nose of the Cylons, disguised as fire drills.
But now it was the real thing with people's cries and gunfire in the air. Instinctively Tara looked for cover and started moving again, going from cover to cover. Another cry from the people around her let Tara look up to the sky and her heart leaped with ever growing optimism. Because like a flaming goddess the Galactica plunged through the upper atmosphere. Flames of the re-entry licking over her form. As Galactica kept plunging towards the planet's surface, little objects shot out of Galactica's sides - Vipers, ready to fight the Cylon raiders that were in the air by now.
Suddenly the Galactica got so close to the surface that Tara feared she might actually crash down but the mighty Battlestar jumped away, the resulting shook wave sent Tara to the ground. Hitting her head on a rock, Tara felt dizzy for a bit, before she got to her feet again. Touching for temple Tara felt blood running down the side of her face. Ignoring that minor injury she started walking again. She needed to hurry and time was growing short as the first ships started to get off the ground.
Moving slowly and carefully around the next corner Tara saw her at once - Dawn - standing next to a public water tap and Tara couldn't help it but close her eyes for a second on the ghastly sight of her friend. Dawn really looked awful, her head shaven bald, with some lesions where she must had accidentally cut herself. With her pale face and bloodshot eyes Dawn looked so much like a ghost, it was scary. There was a look of terror and desperation in the once so beautiful features.
Dawn was clad in a rather bulky looking parka and Tara knew only to well what the young woman was concealing under it. Moving slowly into the except for herself and Dawn empty clearing, Tara mind was racing. What could she say to keep the clearly desperate woman from doing what she wanted to do? Finally deciding to protect herself Tara opened her parka and drew her service weapon that she had hidden beneath her tent's floorboards for all these months before she slowly moved into the clearing and towards her friend Dawn Summers.
"Dawn," Tara called, raising her voice over the sounds of the battle going on around them. "Dawn!" she called again but Dawn didn't seem to acknowledge the presence of Tara or the battle and explosions. Only when Tara gently put her hand on Dawn's shoulder did she finally snap out of whatever dream or nightmare she had been caught in.
"Dawn," Tara said once again, "they've come back to free us." She pointed up and to a Viper chasing a Raider over the sky and shooting it down.
Dawn looked up to Tara but still didn't seem to really see her when she spoke. "I couldn't do it," she said weakly. "I really wanted to but I couldn't:"
"Dawn, it's over," Tara said carefully. "We need to get to our ship and then we're getting out of here!" Was she getting through at all, Tara wondered.
Then her eyes widened as Dawn opened her parka and let her see the bomb she was wearing. Tara saw some explosives and a electronic device to detonate it, the trigger properly concealed in her sleeve. To her utter relief Tar could also see that the bomb had already been defused, could no longer be detonated.
"I couldn't do it," Dawn repeated, "but I so wanted to do it."
"You don't have to worry about this anymore Dawn," Tara said urgently. "We're getting out of here and you no longer need to blow up what ever Col. Tigh ordered you to."
Upon hearing this Dawn looked rather puzzled at Tara. "Who's Col. Tigh?" she asked.
"Col. Saul Tigh!" Tara said. "The man who send you here with this..." She pointed at the explosive belt Dawn was wearing.
"I don't know anybody with that name," Dawn said. "If you're referring to these insurgence suicide bombers I've got nothing to do with them."
"But..." Tara desperately searched for the right words. Things where just getting too bizarre. That she should be standing here in the middle of a battle, arguing with a suicide bomber, who claimed not to be one.
"I wanted to kill her on my own." Dawn went on.
"Who's that?" Tara wanted to know. "And why would you want to kill her and yourself at the same time?"
"Did you never wonder why I applied for a job on Aquaria?" Dawn asked. She did not wait for Tara to answer her. "I met her on a pleasure cruise to Troy, we fell in love there. She was from Aquaria and she didn't want to leave her home.
"I was so much in love with her, I was willing to relocate after graduation. I mean with Buffy galloping around the system, what kept me on Caprica?
"I called Roxie at her place the day of the attacks, to, to tell her that I was on my way. It was the exact moment the Cylons struck. I thought she was dead.
"Then last week I saw her again and again... right here on New Caprica."
Tara was completely bewildered by now, she didn't understand a word Dawn Summers was saying and tried to get her moving so they could get to their ship. Dawn however wasn't to be moved just yet, but kept talking about that mysterious woman.
"Roxie, it broke my heart when I believed she had died at the hands of the Cylons. So when I saw her here... all I could think of was how to kill her. So I got hold of some explosives and I was ready to kill both her and me. There was nothing left for me to live for."
There were still explosions and shots being fired all around them and Tara had managed to push Dawn a little closer to a tent and towards some cover.
"But Tara, when I finally found her again today, I let her walk past me. I couldn't do it anymore - I wanted to live." Dawn shook her head, "You know what? She didn't even recognize me when I first encountered her last week. Can you believe it?"
"Dawn I don't understand a word you're saying!" Tara said, desperately wanting to get moving again because she felt they had been standing in the same place for too long already. "And who is this Roxie?"
"That would be me," said an all too familiar voice.
Tara froze, her mind racing. Only barely she heard Dawn gasp: "Roxie!"
Slowly and very carefully Tara managed to tuck her gun into her trouser belt, having to slip it somewhere to her side because of her pregnancy belly before she slowly turned around to face Dawn's Roxie, who she once knew as Faith.
"Well, if those aren't my two favourite ex's!" No. 10 said sarcastically. She stood maybe five meters behind them, an armed Centurion right at her side who wasn't pointing its weapon at them, at least not yet.
"Faith," Tara said, her voice neutral. She heard Dawn behind her gasp in surprise.
"That's your Faith?" The former teacher asked. "So she tricked you too?"
"Yes," Tara answered. "Me, you and my best friend too." Looking back to Cylon Faith she said: "Roxie Hart, another part of your personality I presume. So tell me, Roxie, did you have a copy of you on every planet of the Twelve Colonies?
It sounded completely insane to Tara but she intended to keep the Cylon talking, though to what end she did not know.
"Maybe," No. 10 answered. "But I don't think that you should worry about my presence in the Colonies right now." She waved a hand at the chaos surrounding them.
"Let us go Faith!" Tara pleaded. "It's over. So many people died already in the past four months. No need to add two more."
No. 10 gave her a devilish smile. "What makes you think I want to kill you and your little friend? Maybe I want to rescue you again, like I did aboard Galactica."
"You mean taking us with you?" Dawn asked unbelieving, "up to one of your Basestars?." Faith nodded.
"You can't be serious!" Tara cried. "Taking us with you as what? For a human zoo, or do you wanna play family with me and my baby?
She didn't wait for the Cylon to answer. "That's never gonna happen, do you hear me, Faith? That's never gonna happen!""
Cylon Faith didn't stop smiling when she softly asked, "You don't seriously believe you'll be able to stop me now, do you?"
"Maybe she can't!" Dawn cried, "but I can!" Tara felt Dawn finger around behind her back and she knew immediately that the young woman tried to reconnect the detonator with the bomb again.
"Dawn no!" Tara now cried, reaching for her with her right hand. She got hold of Dawn's right hand, keeping her from making the explosives ready to be detonated.
But in doing so Tara had to turn around too and her parka opened.
What followed happened so fast that for the rest for her life Tara would never be really able to recount the full events of that moment. The instant Tara reached for Dawn, the Centurion spotted her gun. Following its preset programming the machines gun arms raced up, taking aim. And in the same moment both Faith and Dawn cried out "No!" Tara realised her mistake but had no time to react because within a blink of an eye Tara found herself flung to the ground as Dawn pushed her out of the line of fire.
The Centurion fired.
Hit by several bullets Dawn Summers slammed to the ground right in front of Tara.
'No it can't end this way,' Tara thought desperately, as she managed to drew her gun. Though she very well knew that she could never raise and aim it fast enough to beat the Centurion. Plus, without explosive rounds she would hardly make a dent in the robot's shiny hull.
Out of nowhere the head of the Cylon Centurion exploded and from the corner of her eye Tara spotted her wife, gun in hand, and a marine holding a smoking sniper rifle, darting around the corner while some other marines fired at some centurions following them.
"We're safe. Willow's here," She whispered to Dawn feeling for her pulse. In all the confusion she almost forgot about her Cylon ex who was still standing in front of them.
"I won't let you go," Faith said, suddenly holding a gun in her hand, raising it slowly.
Tara never knew if it had been her brief military training or her maternal instincts that let her act so fast. Because while Willow and that marine still hurried towards her and Faith firing, but being too far away to hit her while running, Tara brought up her gun in one fast fluid motion and shot the Cylon avatar right between her eyes. There was a curious look of surprise and satisfaction on No. 10's face as she dropped dead to the ground.
Tara let her gun fall and carefully opened Dawn's parka to see that even though the bullets had missed the explosives, they had hit Dawn in her lower belly.
"You're going to be all right Dawn," she whispered , trying to stop the bleeding with her hands. Around her the marines secured the area and she saw Willow talk on her wireless.
"Hold on Dawn," she whispered to the young woman in her arms whose eyes looked through Tara and into nothingness. "Hold on Dawn," Tara repeated. "You're going to be alright. Please hold on Dawn."