wyrdwritere: (Book Boxes)
[personal profile] wyrdwritere
This is a remix of/companion piece to The History Books Forgot About Us b [livejournal.com profile] miabicicletta nbsp;an [livejournal.com profile] sunshine_queen nbsp;that I wrote as part of the 2011 BSG Remix. It will make much more sense if you read the original, but, in a nutshell, it tells the story of eleven previous lives which the spirits that became Bill Adama and Laura Roslin had shared together on each of the twelve colonies.

What might happen, I wonder, if the processes that bind those two souls together snare someone else in their wake?

1) Accidents will happen.

The Exodus from Kobol was a stupendous inconvenience for everyone on the Galleon, of course, but for Themisticleia it meant the incalculable loss of her research. Her data, her laboratory, her equipment, and, most irreplaceably, her subjects were all gone, either killed by the Vulcanians or left behind when the Galleon lifted off.

No one understood why, of course, and they tended to grow angry when she tried to explain, so she mostly sat quietly and thought during the voyage. She understood that billions had died, and that everyone had lost practically everything when their robot servants had rebelled, and that everyone was grieving for the loss of family, friends, society, and planet. She, too, had lost these things.

But what none of them took the time to learn was that the loss of her research really was the most galling thing about it because, had she been able to complete it, her work would have made those tragic losses only temporary setbacks, easily fixed hassles and not irreparable ruptures.

Early on in the war, she had learned that the Vulcanians had a means of preserving themselves, of saving their consciousness at the moment of physical death and, as they put it, “downloading” into a new body. Obviously, the human spirit was far more subtle and complex than even the elaborate heuristic programs of the Vulcanians, but it had gotten her to wondering if, perhaps, there was a way of preserving the soul after death, and even rehousing it in new flesh.

If so, she reasoned, the first step would be to find a means to conclusively demonstrate the existence of the human soul, and to then find some means of tracking it post-mortem. She’d had some promising results working with a denatured strain of lymphocytic encephalitis, but aside from the notes she happened to have backed up on her phone, all of that work was truly lost forever.

Themisticleia is not a person who gives up easily, however. When the refugees find a new star system, they settle on a dozen different astronomical bodies. She chooses one they name Sagittaron, because the population there is mostly drawn from a single tribe– the Sagittarii–and thus has a more unified genetic and cultural heritage.

It takes her fifteen years to amass the social and economic capital to build a small laboratory, and stock it with even rudimentary equipment. But she’s able to work with the data still on her otherwise useless phone, and begin her studies anew. She is even able to acquire a new strain of lymphocytic encephalitis that she renders harmless in her lab, and begins inoculating subjects with it.

Over two years, she is able acquire informed consent from over two hundred of her fellow colonists, but then tragedy strikes. One of her new volunteers, a smith named Pyramus, dies of encephalitis shortly after she gives him the injection. His wife Alena is fine. He should be, too.
Several people call for an end to her work, and since she can’t explain why Pyramus died, she can’t explain why his death is no reason to stop her. She works punishingly long hours analyzing the virus, trying to understand how this could have happened. She thinks her trembling hands, blurred vision and tiredness are just a function of stress and sleeplessness. Then she sees Pyramus watching her somberly while floating in mid-air.

The apparition shakes its head and drifts out through the wall. Themis tears after it, and follows it to the cozy cabin Pyramus had shared with his wife Elena. The pining widow rushes out outside to embrace her husband’s shade, and Themis can see something, something shining, that entwines the couple.

Themisticleia is trying to observe this new phenomenon that she has so long sought when her fever spikes and she falls unconscious. She never awakens, never figures out how Pyramus got sick from the harmless encephalitis she gave him, or realizes that she herself had caught that same dangerous infection from him, despite all her precautions.

2) We shall overcome.

The one-eyed man hobbled to the podium, favoring his bad leg, and laboriously turned to face the crowd. The sun shone powerfully from the cloudless sky, but the breeze from the harbor kept the waterfront audience cool. Behind him, the monument remained draped with red and green tarps, awaiting the big reveal.

“This is a proud day for Libra,” the man announced, his voice carried across the city by the PA. “Together, we have set a new standard of social justice for the Colonies. Together, we have provided a shining example of the Lords Of Kobol’s sacred promise to lift up those who lift up each other. The great reforms that have ended grueling child labor, shortened the workweek, ensured fair pay, and guaranteed health care and pensions for all workers have come only after a long and bitter struggle–but come they have!

“Together, we, as a people, have built a great society in which all will reap the benefits of our prosperity. It is only right and proper that we celebrate our achievement with this new worldwide holiday. But there can be no more appropriate way to mark this first Worker’s Day than unveil this monument to the many brave souls who gave their lives so that we might all have liberty.

“My part in this struggle has been, when all is said and done, but one of many. Yet, the demonstration that I led here fifteen years ago, rallying stevedores for a 50 hour week and overtime pay, was truly the spark that lit the flame of freedom across our world.

“When the constables opened fire on us, just before the ricochet blinded me to half the world, I knew that in the end we would prevail. But our little spark would not have spread with such speed were it not for the courage and selflessness of a man I never knew, and never will know.

“Matthew was a sailor, recently returned to port. He knew nothing of our fight, probably had no idea why we were marching and chanting, but he knew that armed men firing on a crowd holding signs was wrong. His bold example, leaping in front of the company thugs, trying to shield my wounded comrades with his body, stirred the hearts of the millions who saw it. And his brutal death at the hands of the strikebreakers brought those millions into the streets to stand with us.

“To him, to his children who are with us here today, and to all the others who gave their blood and their lives so that all of us might enjoy the blessings of our peace and prosperity, we here do humbly dedicate this monument.”

3) I know our filthy hands can wash one another, and not one speck will remain.

Petition For Early Release
District 5 Parole Board
100 Government Center, Suite 12 B
Landfall City 2WW 78J

Ladies and gentlemen of the parole board:

I, Gunnar Morson, write to you today in aid of the mandated review of my incarceration. It has been twenty years since I was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Jason Colchis by strangulation. I freely admit that I am guilty of this crime, and that there were no extenuating circumstances that would lessen my guilt or mitigate my sentence.

My story is famous, my crime well known. Nearly a quarter of a century ago, consumed by jealousy, I strangled a man because his wife, my one-time girlfriend, didn’t love me anymore. I needed love so much that I never considered whether I deserved love from her when I had none for myself.

The truth is, I committed that terrible crime out of jealousy and rage, and all it did was end one man’s life and cause immeasurable grief to the many people who loved him. It did nothing to make my life–or anyone’s–any better. If anything good can be said to have come from it, it is this: I was arrested, tried, and sent to here, to this prison where I came at last to confront the source of my misery. It wasn’t Ilsa or any other woman that I really needed, it was the true knowledge of myself that comes only through knowing God. My misery has led me to find the one being who can accept and love anyone, even a murderer like me.

I can never undo my crime. I never take away the pain that I caused. What I can do is tell my story and try to spread the peace and love I found in the one, true God. I know that not all of you are comfortable with a faith you find so strange, but I am a living example of the truth and beauty of His word. In my former life, I was a circus performer, something strange and even threatening to so many outsiders. But it was not my life in the circus that brought me here or that made me a killer; it was the emptiness in my heart. My fellow inmates are proof that even the most respectable and conventional lives can still make men unfit for society.

My monotheism did not put me in this prison, instead it has shown me the way to free my spirit. Don’t let my crime stain its purity. I don’t ask you to release me, because I don’t deserve to walk free. I ask only that I be allowed to continue to write my letters and spread His word to anyone who chooses to visit me, until God calls me to Him.

Thank you for your consideration of my case.

May God bless you and keep you.

Gunnar Morson
inmate #383739-223-9IO-L

Gunnar Morson spent the rest of his life in prison for the murder of Jason the Lion Tamer, speaking and writing about his little known faith. His writings and his personal example made him a major figure in the early monotheist faith.

4) What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?

The custom of a king naming a “Bestman” to stand beside him through thick and thin is an ancient one, supposedly brought to Virgon by the first colonists of Kobol. Hardly anyone thinks about how the word came to be, or why a King specifically need a Best Man amongst all his other servants, or what might really be expected of that man.

Julius wasn’t like most people, and wrestled with these questions as a boy, before committing himself at age 11 to becoming one. He spent years training himself to be ready, studying law, philosophy and science as well the martial arts. When King Priscus of Nicosia ascended to his throne, Julius emigrated to compete for the position, and won it only eleven years after he’d first set his sights on it.

The next five years were ones of growing disillusionment for him. Priscus believed that he ruled because the Gods had chosen him to, and that nothing else was required of him as king. It made him vain, selfish, arrogant, and cruel.

Julius had been meeting with the council of ministers, figuring out a budget for the government for the following year (another task Priscus felt unworthy of his time), and joined the royal party in Nicosia just in time to witness what appeared to be a street riot erupt. Drawing his blade, he waded into the melee to protect the royal person (his first duty). He had no idea who Potrero or Agata were until they were dead… and when he learned the truth, that Potrero was a desperate man trying to rescue a fiancée kidnapped for her beauty by his king, something inside him snapped.

Within a week he had raised a coup against Priscus. Within a month, he had arranged an election and become Chief Minister of the new Republic of Nicosia. His first act was to try his former master for the lovers’ deaths. The other monarchies of Virgon went to war to snuff out this eruption of democratic spirit, but Nicosia held out long enough for Libra and Caprica to intervene.

Julius lived long enough to cast a symbolic first vote in a planet-wide referendum, which created a United Virgon Republican (complete with Libran labor reforms), before dying the day after his 99th birthday.

5) Sooner or later we’re gonna die, left to the dogs under the sky.

The gate of the prison closed behind the old man with clang much softer than he had heard in his many dreams of this moment. The empty road stretched out of sight to his left and right. The scrubby plains rolled off in front him to the dusty, gray, windswept mountains. No one was there to greet him. He’d had no visitors for almost a decade. Even the guards had not bothered to sneer that they expected to see him again soon.

He shuffled, with that creeping gait they’d beaten into him, the half a kilometer down the road the bus stop, a wide spot in the road with faded, rusty sign atop a twisted pole. There was no shelter, and the frigid gusts every few minutes promised snow. He turned around slowly once, taking in the bulk of the prison, the emptiness of the road, the oncoming blizzard, and the desolation all around him. His shoulders slumped and he waited, radiating defeat.

It was not a new feeling for him. Thirty years before, he’d been a researcher in a government lab, creating pestilences for the war with Tauron. When one of their rarified viruses had somehow escaped, hundreds of people, mostly children, had died of encephalitis. Shocked and horrified, he’d become a whistle blower and gone to the press with what he knew.

It hadn’t helped. In fact, after the directors had finished doctoring the evidence, they blamed the whole thing on him. He’d spent a quarter of a century rotting in prison, having completely failed to help or avenge anyone. Now, no one cared if he lived or died.

So he stood there, until the cold and the snow put him to sleep, just as, a few kilometers away, it lulled a grieving father who he had never met
but to whom he was intimately connected. Both men’s lives slipped away in the winter wind, both of them listening to the voices of children who’d long since vanished.

6) If the silence takes you then I hope it takes me too.

Arcite and Alin met as children in the seminary school. They learned together, played together, took their vows together and grew into men together. As was so often the way, they explored the mysteries of love and pleasures of the flesh together, too. In time, they discovered that their bond, while deep, owed more to Athena than Aphrodite.

Still, when Alin saw a seer from the temple across the river, he quickly confided in his best friend about how he knew, immediately, that the Gods meant them for one another. Arcite knew that was flatly forbidden by their vows and, knowing how seriously Alin took those vows, instantly decided that if Alin believed this incredible thing, then he believed it, too.

He did what he could to help his friend spend time with Pelagia, and in so doing came to know her himself. He was struck that she, too, believed that the Gods meant them for one another, and that no amount danger would keep from choosing to be together.

A less devout monk might have shrugged his shoulders and let it be. A less sheltered thinker might have realized that such liaisons were not unheard of, if conducted discretely and the right favors were cultivated. A less learned, less assiduous student of the Gods and their lore might not have connected his friends with the scrolls of Zeus Chrysos, the Passion of Ganymede, and the European Epic. Alas, Arcite was devout, naïve, idealistic, learned and dedicated, and too young to understand that the Gods can craft our virtues into our nemeses.

When Alin and Pelagia were inevitably found out, the Elder Brother of his house and the Chief Priest of her temple met together to talk about how best to smooth the matter out gently. Relocation, punitive retreats, stern rebukes, and perhaps even quiet resignations were all considered. Each looked with fondness on their earnest subordinates, and was moved by the genuine love they saw in the young couple. And then Arcite came to see them, eager to help his friends.

He explained that Alin and Pelagia both believed that the Gods themselves had brought them together, and that he, Arcite, believed it as well. Moreover, he felt that there were precedents in the holy books of such pairings happening, and that there were signs of that poorly understood mystery, the entwining of souls from one life to the next. He cited several learned texts, and even a secular history of experiments to prove the concept scientifically dating back to the Exodus from Kobol itself.

This changed everything. If souls could be bound from one life to the next by love, what about marriage? Who could tell who was truly the parent, and who the child in any family? And what about hate and other passions? Could an oath of vengeance truly be discharged with one death? When might such divinely sanctioned bonds allow someone to set aside the vows of this life? And what of the authority and influence of the temples–how could they stand in the face of a personal, divinely inspired bond that might stretch across centuries and light years?

These questions sweep across the whole situation like a tsunami. The Elder Brother, concerned that any heresy would give aid and comfort to monotheists, dealt harshly with his novices. He ordered Alin literally branded a lost soul, expelled from his temple, beaten and left to die in the wilderness. To prevent Arcite from ever spreading a word of his ‘delusions’, they cut out his tongue and chopped off his fingers. The priest in charge of Pelagia’s temple has less stomach for brutality, but nonetheless she was kept in confinement until it was clear that she would breathe no word of heresy (as, indeed, she never speaks again.) She spent her many, many following days cooking, cleaning, and tending to poor Arcite, who endured thirty more years of guilt and misery before his broken heart stopped at last.

7) The Sun is made of ice and gives no warmth at all.

Loyalty. Few take it as seriously as the Ha’latha do. They pledge to keep faith with their sacred soil, with their Guatrau, and with each other; to outsiders they promise nothing except death when crossed.

Loyalty. Few understand it as the Ha’latha do. They know that the only thing a person can truly own is their word. What you say you will do, you do, no matter how terrible it is, no matter how much you hate to do it, no matter that doing it will destroy something you hold dear.

Agatha was 26, a loyal soldier of the Ha’latha. Six months after the end of the War of Independence, she went to meet her first cousin Tithonius, the man who presented her to the Guatrau, at a hole in the wall diner in a little suburb called Thebeles. She walked in, knowing she wasn’t expected, and sat down without speaking.

He didn’t look up from his newspaper until she was seated. “The spinach & feta omelet’s pretty good,” he offered with a smile.
She shrugged and nodded, not bothering to pick up a menu. He waved the waiter over and ordered the omelet, rolls, coffee, and guava juice for her.

“So…” he began after a minute’s silence.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t come to the wedding,” she admitted.

“It’s all right, cousin,” he shrugged. “I understand why you didn’t make it.”

“Tell me about her,” she asked.

So, he did, describing how he came to be locked up next to a woman named Sera from the Knossos family because he’d gotten involved in the War Of Independence. They had had adjoining cells for almost a month, and little to do but talk. They’d been lucky, because they were important enough to feed, but not too important to ignore in the frantic final days of the collapse of the Regime. They were left undisturbed, and soon fell in love.

“We have this… connection,” he explained. “It’s like we have already known each other for a lifetime.” Her food came as he finished, and she started to eat as her described the wedding. When he moved on to outline their hopes for their future together, she had had enough.

“So, you mean to have a life with her?” she demanded. “Start a family, grow old together?”

“Yes,” he declared.

In response, Agatha leaned across the table and touched the six teardrop outlines on his left cheek. “If memory serves, these are for members of her family that you have promised to kill.”

She sat back. “Revenge,” she continued, as his face grew hard, “for cousins Aedes, Eulos, and Samele, and for my sister Adara.”

“I remember them,” he grated. “What I am doing now, I do because I honor their memory.”

“Honor? You taught me the meaning of honor!” she spat. “The bond I have to my Guatrau is here on my wrist.” She yanked her left sleeve up, popping a button. “You inked this onto my body yourself! The Oath lasts until we return to the soil. Do you remember? We stain ourselves with ink, until the Styx washes us clean! You taught me that.”

“Yes,” he nodded. “I remember those promises, and the people I made them to. I remember Aedes’s lazy-eyed smile, and Eulos had pickles with everything, and Samele never thought anything was funny until she was drunk and then everything was funny. I remember Adara was the first girl I ever kissed.”

He broke off to stare at the waiter who had clearly noticed their raised voices and turned to listen. Agatha swiveled around, and their combined glare drove the young woman into the kitchen in about ten seconds. When Agatha turned to face him again, he continued more quietly. “I remember them and I miss them. And I know I promised to avenge them. But killing Sera’s cousins won’t bring back ours, and not only that, it will bring revenge killings back on us, and then we’ll have more people to mourn and avenge. We have a chance for something better. Why in the Gods’ names shouldn’t we take it?”

“That’s a great idea,” Agatha admitted, “for Capricans or Librans. We’re Taurons. We keep our word, because doing what we promised, no matter what, is the only thing that holds back chaos. Break your word now, even for a good reason, and soon you’ll break it for a bad reason, or no reason. That’s anarchy, every person at war with everyone else. That’s what the Ha’latha was created to stop. You know this. You took the Oath.”

He nods, but otherwise sits absolutely still.

“You have to choose Titho. Keeping your word, the Ha’latha, saving civilization… or her.”

There is a long moment of perfect stillness, in which he makes his choice. Then he opens his shirt, exposing the place where her name was written on his body after the marriage. “Her,” he says, with a completely steady voice.

Her face blanched, her eyes filled with tears, her hand trembled, but Agatha pulled a pistol from inside her coat, and put the bullet in his heart, just above where he had tattooed that woman’s name.

8) Oh, keep it dark.

Halden peers through the scope on his rifle, watching the pedestrians pass in front the Astraeus building. He notes the shirt collar of each one, staving off the boredom while remaining focused on the business at hand: waiting.

He’s been preparing for this mission for 82 days, but the word to strike had only come 15 hours before. Apparently, despite the best efforts of his employers, famous, fashionable Hyperion Astraeus had irrevocably committed his interests in his family’s business empire to a new venture that had to be stopped. Halden rarely judges his clients or his targets, but in this instance he would be willing to waive his usual fee, had it proven necessary. Sometimes, like now, even a businessman such as himself has to act for something larger than personal profit.

There! Hyperion (who really is as handsome as the magazine photos make him appear) has just stepped out of his car. Halden takes aim while his target quips with his chauffeur then strolls towards the beautiful tall building with his name on it. The young billionaire’s pace and direction are constant, and all Halden has to do is wait for a moment when the passersby all clear of the line of fire, and then lead the target half a pace…

The shot arcs down, faster than the sound it makes, and strikes Hyperion Astraeus in the back of the skull, passing through the brainstem and out under the jaw. He will be dead even as his body slumps to the pavement, and the massive trauma should make resuscitation impossible.

“Everything you had in your life, and you just couldn’t give up on the idea of developing artificial sentience,” the killer murmurs to himself. Even though he is nearly a kilometer away and 15 stories above street level, Halden still whispers. Quickly and efficiently, he packs up his gear and leaves. ‘There will never be an army of killer robots that massacres humanity,’ he thinks as the first siren wails towards the scene. ‘Not while I’m on the job.’

9) Woohoo!

The terrorists were ruthless, well organized, and clever, which allowed them to take complete control of the Ronmoor spaceport in only 17 minutes. Their plan shut down communications, killed or captured all the security guards, got them inside the control tower, and trapped all the passengers inside the terminal building to use as hostages.

The one flaw in their plan was that the terrorists were also trapped inside with Jack McDade. Once an elite special forces soldier, now retired and serving as sheriff and volunteer fire chief of his small home town in the forests of Caprica, McDade wasn’t even supposed to be on Aquaria, much less down in the Khumbu. But such is fate.

He takes out the seven men guarding the hostages with a combination of stealth, misdirection, and hand-to-hand prowess, all without a shot fired. As he dusts himself off, a boy of about ten approaches and asks McDade if he will rescue “his daddy, who manages the whole airport.”
McDade promises to do his best, and asks if the boy, whose name is Peter, if he knows any secret ways to move around the complex. Peter sketches a helpful map of the air ducts and even, using an app he wasn’t supposed to copy off his father’s smart phone, takes control of the new maintenance robots, using them to create distractions and scout ahead while Jack sneaks around killing bad guys and disarming the bombs they have planted on the fuel depots.

It all goes well until the terrorist leader, the infamous John Pitt (a jaded one-time zealot now simply looking for a payday), holds a gun to Peter’s head, and orders McDade to come out with his hands up, no sudden moves.

“Your concern for others is a weakness,” Pitt sneers, “and your faith that somehow justice will prevail is idiocy. Compassion just gets in the way of doing what you have to do. The only justice in the universe is what we make, and we can never make enough.”

“Maybe,” Jack replies, meeting Peter’s gaze, “but sometimes other people come through in ways you’d never expect.” And then it all happens at once. Peter stabs the terrorist in the hand with his lucky pen, Pitt fires his gun, and McDade grabs the pistol he had taped to his back and shoots Pitt dead.

There’s a scare when they realize that Peter has been hurt, injured by a ricochet fragment from one of McDade's bullets, but after the doctors operate, they assure everyone that Peter will be fine. One day, perhaps, the tiny piece of the bullet now resting near his heart will kill him, but if so it will be decades in the future.

“You did great,” McDade tells him, “and the way you handled yourself shows that you’ve got the heart of a lion. You should join the army, you have incredible fighting spirit.”

“No thanks,” the boy replies. “I think I’ve had enough of fighting. I want to be scientist and go places and discover things.” And McDade ruffles his hair and they never see each other again, but Peter does go on to a long and distinguished career as an atmospheric physicist, publishing prize-winning work with his wife Indira. Shortly after he turns 80, the bullet fragment finally moves, and he dies surrounded by friends and family.

10) Living a life that is almost like suicide.

Pekola never forgets the first time she sees Paolo. He’s part of a crowd of Mangala hustlers and pickpockets, looking a bit of action in one the dives her brother’s Saura-More gang controls. To another observer, there would be nothing to distinguish him from the dozens of others like him just on that busy street, much less the dozens of thousands of others across this, the worst slum in twelve worlds.

To her, however, it’s as though he’s limned in some strange light, of a color she has never noticed before now. She can’t explain it, but she is drawn to this fast-talking, light-fingered young man (more of an old-before-his-time boy) with a winning smile.

She walks up to him and his friends and starts talking to him, getting them drinks on her tab. He flirts with her in ways that would have pissed her off had it been one of his buddies, yet from him strangely weaken her knees. At the end of the night, just before he heads home, he steals a quick kiss and then goes, not staying to see her expression.

She is thunderstruck. In that moment, she knows that her soul is bound to his. She must have him. Every night for the next week she meets with him. When an urchin girl who has been hovering for an evening interrupts their kissing and threatens her, Pekola is amused. She uses her brother’s contacts to follow them both, even taking pictures and reporting back to her. She quickly learns the girl is named Jaya, and soon knows all about her family, her job at a doctor’s office, and her regular trysts with Paolo. At first, she hardly believes what she sees, and goes out to do her own surveillance.

When Pekola sees the way he looks at HER, she understands now how superficial the attention he has shown her all along has been. Yes, he’s been charming. Yes, he’s been friendly. Yes, he’s stolen a few kisses. But, his heart truly hasn’t been in them. His mind has been elsewhere. Somehow, in some way that feels as impossible gravity failing, he doesn’t feel the bond between them. Or he does, and he doesn’t care. He’d rather pursue that skinny little girl than even have dinner with her! Well, let them burn the way she burns, she decides. If they want to be together so much, she’ll make sure they stay that way.

With her brother’s connections, it’s a simple matter to arrange to have their building professionally firebombed. From across the street, she watches the blaze that blocks the stairs and quickly engulfs the rackety tenement in which they live. Strangely, the passion that blazes within her dies along with Paolo, torched by the fire she started. By the time the ashes have cooled, she has put the whole matter out of her mind, and gotten back her life as a gang lord’s sister.

11) It’s all building up to something. Something that can only be revealed with FIRE!

Chamalla is a dangerous drug. The temple seers use it, but they have special training, a sanctified environment, and the blessing of the Gods to support them in their trials. Maris has a father she hasn’t seen in eight years (and who beat her frequently before that), a skuzzy apartment in a basement near the red light district, and a burning need to serve the Gods.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the sort of connections that will even get her an interview at a seminary. What she does have are lots of connections through her jobs at the bar and the warehouse to people who can get her chamalla. With that, she doesn’t need a letter of introduction. She doesn’t need the seminary. She doesn’t need anyone, because with chamalla, she can go to directly to the Gods themselves.

She reads everything she can find online about the temple seers and the way they use the drug. She eats a diet rich in potassium, with lots of leafy greens, and gives up red meat. She mostly stops drinking. She has a simple prayer for when she takes the pills, letting them dissolve on her tongue, while repeating in her heart: “Show me the way, oh Gods. Make me your servant.”

The visions are incredible, uplifting and terrifying. It takes her months before she sees anything clearly, and almost two years before she begins to grasp anything that might qualify as instructions. She is completely unprepared to be awakened one morning after one of her ‘holy nights’ by a vision of a man that she has never seen before crossing the street near a café that she has.

She’s never seen anything so clearly, not even awake and sober. The pavement is wet, evening is setting in, and the streets are crowded. She is behind the wheel of a car (whose?), and as the man she doesn’t know steps heedlessly into the street, she presses on the accelerator and strikes him squarely with her front bumper. His head makes a dull thump as it collides with the windshield.

The vision comes again the next day, and the next. She knows she has received the marching orders for which she has yearned, so she keeps her eyes peeled, and three days later she sees the car in her vision parked in the lot by the grocery store. It’s unlocked, with keys under the seat, as she knows they will be, and she drives it off without hesitation.

She circles the block by the café across from the hospital for 40 minutes before she spots him. Elated, she moves with ineffable grace along her chosen path. It’s only after his broken form comes to a rest sprawled in front of a cigar shop that she panics.

Perhaps the gods do have a plan for her, because she drives away unmolested, ditches the car, and is never caught. When her victim (a child surgeon!) lingers in a coma for almost a month, Maris begins to doubt her faith. Her visions are all of a blonde woman in red dress, a man in a pinstriped suit, and cities engulfed in flame.

Twenty-seven days after her holy hit-and-run, she sees on the news that Dr. Crecio has died during the night. Nine months later, an attorney in Caprica City named Joseph becomes the father of a baby named William. Maris never learns what her visions meant.

12) The rest is silence.

He admires the Old Man, and felt truly honored to have served under him, even before the worlds ended. Over the next three years, he does his best to answer the question Commander Adama posed in his retirement speech: “Why are we, as a people, worth saving?”

It all goes horribly wrong. Betrayal, assassination, soldiers massacring civilians, rigged elections, the sprawling constellation of frak-ups that was New Caprica even before the Occupation, the terrorism of the Resistance, the murderous secret courts afterwards… All of it, a never-ending cycle of cynicism, deception, secrecy and murder, and no one ever takes responsibility for any of it.

The last straw comes when Starbuck’s husband blows his leg off, and the Old Man does nothing. Felix’s physical agony only exacerbates his moral anguish, as his last, best role model fails to live up to his own standards.

The decision to mutiny springs forth from many roots, some of them perhaps stretching back a dozen lifetimes now forgotten by mortal minds. Perhaps it is more than Felix’s unresolved needs that compel him to try the Admiral, and not simply murder him. Perhaps the need for Bill’s acknowledgement of the rightness of Felix’s position is about more than his own actions. Perhaps something else entirely stays his hand.

At the end, tied to a chair in a launch tube, Felix almost hears echoes of these past lives clamoring in his ears, as if all of it had happened before, and would happen again. Felix stares Bill in the face, ignoring the line of marines with rifles. Never knowing where it came from, a thought crosses his mind: “Well, this time, I guess he kills me.”

And suddenly, the head noise fades away, and Felix faces his executioners in a perfect hush.

“It’s stopped,” he says, before the shots ring out.


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April 2011

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