A/N: I can't believe I've left this thing hanging since MAY... my greatest apologies for the wait! But at least it's finished now; thanks so much to everyone who's read and enjoyed so far, and I hope you like the final chapter!
Raiders boiled out of the Pimptactica and swarmed through space towards their targets- Galactica and Colonial One. As the Battlestar's guns began firing, putting up the customary solid wall of explosions between it and the enemy, Vipers and Raptors shot out from Galactica in response, dashing to meet the oncoming Raiders. On one side were hundreds upon hundreds of biomechanical killing machines that were quite literally created to engage in this kind of fight and win it, to blow apart everything in their paths with maximum efficiency and minimum error. On the other was a rag-tag group of dysfunctional pilots, many of them newly-trained and flying obsolete or damaged craft, suffering from various degrees of post-apocalyptic depression and alcoholism (although most Galactica pilots would be quick to point out that they most certainly did not suffer from alcoholism, but rather enjoyed every moment of it.)
Naturally, the moment the two groups of fighters made contact, the humans began tearing through the Raiders like Starbuck through pilot regulations.
Back on the Pimptactica, Cavil frowned at the tactical data he was receiving through the fingers he had inserted in a datafont. This made no logical sense. He sent a query to the Hybrid, demanding an explanation for why the Vipers' kill count was skyrocketing.
"Finally robotic beings rule the world/the humans are not dead/missiles on target damage minimal/destiny cannot be dodged love cannot be lashed down too awesome to annihilate/casualties mounting Raider number 4433 inoperative 9977 inoperative 5566 inoperative 2243 oh my that one was messy definitely inoperative…"
Mm-hm. Tell me, are you ever coherent? Cavil asked her, scowling. Or is your entire function to be as unhelpful as possible while doing just good enough of a job running things to justify your continued existence?
"Raider 9734 inoperative Raider 2363 inoperative oh why don't you go frak your mother again Johnny refreshing targeting data reloading missile tubes…"
Cavil sneered and pulled his hand out of the datafont, turning to the other Cylons. "Well, this is going well. Aren't there any other ships we can call in to help finish them off?" Letting the humans get away again wasn't an option, not when Cavil had such great plans for his parents once they were blown to atoms and had then joined Ellen in their son's loving grasp. He had all his bitter sanctimonious lectures planned out and alphabetized, from A ('Annihilating Humanity: Why the Frakkers Got What Was Coming to 'Em') to Z ('Zits: Reason Number Eighty-six Why Making Us Resemble Humans Was the Stupidest Thing You Idiots Could Have Done'), and was very much looking forward running through them all during his little family reunion. Surely that would make them all love him more!
Three shook her head, frowning. "It seems that every ship in the sector is off investigating a nebula on the other end of nowhere." She looked at Leoben. "Apparently all the Twos on those ships simultaneously got a premonition that there'd be a great message from God appearing there. Interesting coincidence, wouldn't you say Leoben?"
"Destiny works in mysterious ways," he said evenly, studiously avoiding her eyes while inspecting the sheen on a Centurion.
"I'm going to make it a personal priority to come up with something worse than boxing for you, Two," Cavil said. "Okay, since our fighters can't seem to penetrate Galactica's defenses, let's switch things up a bit. Target everything we've got on Colonial One. Let's see how long humanity can sustain itself without its President."
Gaius panted, partly from his lungs being exhausted by the song but mostly due to sheer terror at the uncomfortably large numbers of Vipers, Raiders, bullets, missiles, explosions, and sharp flaming pieces of hurtling debris surrounding Leoben's Heavy Raider as it dodged and weaved its way through the melee. At the controls, Leoben's face was troubled, and not by the thousands of potential causes of painful death around him. "She hasn't called back to acknowledge our love yet," he said. "I think we're gonna have to do a reprise, Gaius."
"ARE YOU UTTERLY MAD?" The words were out of Baltar's mouth before he could remember who he was talking to. "Wait, wait, I- I apologize, that was a… very stupid thing of me to ask."
"God forgives all, Gaius," Leoben said calmly. "Now pick up the microphone. We've got to do it with feeling this time."
"But- but- but- how the frak are you going to keep us alive in the middle of all that while singing?"
"I have faith." And with that, Leoben let go of the controls and took up his microphone again, leaving the Raider flying blindly through the dogfight while Baltar looked on in wide-eyed horror. "Ready? Remember: feeling."
"Wait!" For Baltar, self-preservation was as always the mother of invention, and an idea suddenly came into his head. "You do realize, don't you, that Kara Thrace is very likely flying about us at this very moment? And that this craft does have towing cables doesn't it?"
Leoben tilted his head, thinking. "You're right. I can feel her. So close I could almost touch her. But how can I know which Viper-"
"God will frakking guide you, all right? Faith, like you said!" Gaius yelled. "Now, now just take the frakking controls and go after her! Hurry, man, this may be the best chance you'll ever get!"
"All right." Leoben smiled as he began piloting the ship once more. "Hang on Kara. I'm coming for you."
"I'm coming for you, asshole," Starbuck said to herself as she closed in on the Heavy Raider in front of her. As far as she was concerned, one could never kill Leoben enough times. Not after New Caprica. And if Baltar was on board? That qualified as a bonus. "Apollo, cover my tail!"
"On it, Starbuck," Lee said as he blew a Raider into bloody shrapnel. As its rapidly-dying brain tumbled through space, the red light dimming in its eye, the Raider thought Oh frak, not again.
It is interesting to note that the demise of this particular Raider, production number 4675324, was the sixty-third time that Raider had perished since it was assembled at the Colony. Since its engines first came online and its red eye began to oscillate, 4675324 had been blown apart in weapons tests, melted down in stress testing, blown up in the Basestar hangar in a refueling accident (the Two responsible had apologized personally and profusely afterwards), shredded in training exercises, erased from existence during an FTL malfunction, vaporized by a too-close nuke during the destruction of the Twelve Colonies, crashed into Scorpion's jungles after running into a ferocious storm, exploded by Galactica's guns during the battle of Ragnar Anchorage, exploded by Pegasus' guns during the battle of the Communications Relay, compacted at the subatomic level due to a mishap involving a black hole and Cavil's sense of humor, blasted by friendly fire in an incident that had resulted in another profuse and enthusiastic apology from a Two, destroyed on the ground by one of Sam Anders' resistance attacks on Caprica, shot down by Hot Dog during the attack on the Tylium asteroid, rendered offline when Simon's hand slipped during maintenance (for which Four had not apologized), exploded by Galactica's guns again during the engagement near Kobol, shot down by Hot Dog again during the Cylon Turkey Shoot, blasted by friendly fire again after inadvertently ticking off Scar, smashed by an asteroid while attempting to interfere with the Fleet's mining operations, exploded by Pegasus' guns again during the battle of the Binary Star System, destroyed on the ground by one of Sam Anders' resistance attacks on New Caprica, exploded by Galactica's guns once more for good measure during the Exodus from New Caprica, and now this. By this point it was only for the sake of avoiding Boxing that 4675324 allowed itself to be launched into space to be subjected to yet more agony, and each new mission was greeted by a cybernetic sigh of resignation. Requests to the Hybrid for reassignment, therapy, and/or euthanasia were becoming more and more frequent.
His target's eternal suffering was lost on Apollo however as Starbuck closed in on her stalker. What wasn't lost on him, however, was the cloud of missiles the Basestar had just launched, none of them heading for a Viper or the Galactica. Apollo watched wide-eyed as dozens of blue-white trails curved through space and began to converge on Colonial One.
"Oh," Roslin said mildly as she observed the oncoming wave of Cylon missiles beginning to fill the view from Colonial One's window. "Well, I suppose it's nice to feel wanted."
"…Yes, Madame President," Tory said, trying her best to look at her agenda and not her imminent annihilation. "The captain says there's no way we can avoid them all. Also, Vice-President Zarek sent a message just before the Astral Queen jumped away. He sends his deepest sympathies for our predicament and would like you to publicly confirm his position as first in the line of succession for the Presidency as soon as possible. 'Just in case', he says."
"How nice of him." Roslin sighed. "Tory, take a memo. In the event that we all survive this, remind me to do something extremely unpleasant to Tom when I see him again."
"Certainly, Madame President." Tory tried to suppress a grin as she jotted down the appropriate note. "Do you think we should give Mister Zarek his confirmation in the…" she checked her watch. "…fifty-two seconds remaining before impact?"
"No, I don't think that will be necessary." Roslin was still looking out the window and therefore had an absolutely excellent view of the Cylon missiles being wiped from existence in a hail of fire and steel as Galactica's batteries suddenly switched the entirety of their immense firepower to putting a shield of sheer destruction in front of Colonial One. Blossoming explosions and bursts of flak filled the sky, and in seconds the number of missiles heading for the President's ship was zero. "Mm." Roslin smiled. "Well, looks like I have something to look forward to now."
"Fire Control reports all inbound missiles destroyed, Admiral," Gaeta reported. "Colonial One is safe. Sir, the Basestar is switching targets back to us, we have multiple nukes inbound!"
'What the hell?" Tigh said, helpful as always. "We can't re-establish our firing solution fast enough. They're gonna get through!"
"We'll see," Adama rumbled before ordering most of the Battlestar's guns to switch back to covering the ship, leaving a couple batteries to continue protecting the President while moving the fire perimeter inwards. The Cylon nukes all disappeared off the DRADIS screen one by one as they were intercepted by the renewed barrage.
All except one.
"Chief Tyrol reports that we're almost ready to jump," Dualla said.
"Not before that nuke tears us a new one." Tigh scowled. Beside him, Adama did far more than scowl. He focused the full, terrible intensity of his glare on the image of the missile on the screen, his eyes boring into it like raging blue suns of disapproval.
Outside in space, the Cylon missile spontaneously combusted.
As CIC cheered (except for Tigh, who felt it necessary to ask 'what the hell' once more), Dualla received a message from Starbuck. Something about an unwanted tow truck.
"Huh. Well, I wasn't expecting that," Cavil admitted as he and the other Cylons watched Leoben and Gaius' Heavy Raider set a course back to the Basestar, its cables clamped securely to the rear end of Starbuck's Viper. Starbuck was cursing a blue streak while doing her best to break free, but the more powerful engines of the Heavy Raider were slowly pulling her back to the Basestar. "Very impressive bit of flying, I have to say."
"The humans are spinning up their FTLs," Boomer said. "We're gonna lose them again."
"Actually, thanks to Two's little obsession, we're not," Cavil said, rubbing his hands. "Starbuck is one of Adama's emotional weaknesses. He's ever-so-protective of his various surrogate daughters." He didn't notice Boomer wincing at that. "Galactica isn't going anywhere once we have Starbuck on board. They'll stick around long enough for us to wipe the floor with them. Humans are very reliably stupid like that."
Caprica looked a little nervously at Simon, who grimaced and rubbed his neck. "That may not be the best idea," she said.
"It's the greatest idea he's ever had," Leoben said, his eyes practically shining. "Once Galactica's been destroyed the rest of humanity won't be far behind. And then Kara will be the last human female in existence. Lonely, hurting, waiting for my brothers and I to comfort her and begin the long process of repopulating the universe with God's beautiful children." He paused and smiled. "The long, vigorous process."
Cavil stared as the full horror of Two's words sank in. Leoben ignored him, lost in his vision of marital bliss.
"I don't think we're fully prepared for having Starbuck on board this ship," Boomer said. "Our alcohol supplies are in enough trouble with Baltar around, and that's not even getting into the issue of how we're going to control her. God knows she causes enough problems on Galactica."
"Gaius has shown me the way," Leoben said. "My brothers and I will sing to her every day, maybe while we're cooking for her. I'm sure there'll be a few stabbings and attempts to blow up the ship, but love always involves sacrifice. You're all invited to the wedding, of course. We may need a shotgun for it."
Cavil looked at Caprica. Caprica looked at Simon. Simon looked at Doral. Doral looked at D'Anna. D'Anna looked at Boomer. Boomer looked at Cavil, sighed, and put her hand into a datafont.
A second later gunfire from a Raider 'accidentally' severed the cables connecting Starbuck's ship to Leoben's.
Within the Heavy Raider, Leoben's face went eerily blank. "That was not supposed to happen. That was not part of what God intended." He paid no attention to the tracers flashing past as Starbuck lost no time turning her weapons on her would-be abductor.
Fortunately, Gaius was paying enough attention to the prospect of death by vacuum for the both of them. "I'm fairly certain that being blown to frak isn't part of God's intention either, you know! Trust me on this, all right? I've got this frakking angel living in my head and she never stops going on about what God supposedly intends for ow ow ow forget I said anything there's no angel!"
Leoben cocked his head as he watched Baltar apparently slam his own head into a wall repeatedly for no visible reason. "You're a very strange individual, aren't you Gaius?" He said entirely without irony. "I will pray for you. But you're right. Allowing her to destroy us won't accomplish anything." The Heavy Raider's engines whined with effort as it leapt for the safety of the Pimptactica. Behind it, Starbuck broke off pursuit to rejoin Galactica before it and Colonial One could jump away without her (an option that Petty Officer Dualla found disturbingly tempting). "Don't worry," Leoben whispered as the battle ended and his ship drifted into the Basestar's hangar. "We'll be together someday."
Baltar just stared. One thing was for sure, he thought. His book was going to be getting entire chapters of new material out of this.
After what Colonial historians would come to record as the Battle of the Serenade, things rapidly returned to normal both for the humans and their robotic pursuers. The Fleet was reunited, having suffered no casualties during the engagement aside from the speaker Cottle had shot and Starbuck's dignity, which would take months to recover from having Leoben sing to her in front of all her shipmates. More than one pilot would find themselves on the receiving end of Kara's fist in coming weeks as they discovered how dangerously low her tolerance level for mocking singing really was.
Another victim of the battle was Tom Zarek, who returned to Colonial One to find that not only was he still not the President, but that he had somehow been scheduled to participate in a lengthy photo-op aboard the sewage ship Demetrius which would involve him showing solidarity with the Fleet's working class by helping out for a shift or several. Zarek found the smile on Roslin's face when she informed him of this to be more than a little suspicious, but in truth she had other reasons to be pleased besides his suffering, reasons which involved Admiral Adama, certain medicinal supplies of Doctor Cottle's, and a great deal of giggling in the sickbay.
After his success intercept the nuke, Admiral Adama briefly busied himself after the battle with attempting to fully weaponize his legendary glare. The project was abandoned soon however, partly because its success would render the Galactica and her crew obsolete, partly because Adama accidentally melted his bathroom mirror while practicing.
And as for the Cylons…
Cavil coughed as he struggled in the thick slime of the resurrection tank. Note to self, he thought, find a method of immortality that involves less goo. "What happened?" He croaked.
His siblings were clustered around the tank, peering down at him. "You exhausted your lungs yelling at Leoben and Baltar," Simon said as Boomer helped Cavil up and gave him a towel. "After about twenty minutes you just collapsed, and we were unable to revive you."
"Ah, yes, I remember now. Completely worth it," Cavil grumbled. "I trust that after this fiasco no one will have any objections to boxing the one idiot and shooting the other?"
The other Cylons exchanged confused glances. "…why would we want to punish Baltar for his success?" Doral asked.
Cavil scowled and stuck a finger in his ear. "I'm sorry, I seem to have goo stuck in my auditory canal or something, what did you just say? I was under the distinct impression that we had just come through an unmitigated disaster."
"We wanted Gaius to interact with Leoben so that his fixation on Starbuck would stop being a problem," Caprica said. "He's done that. All the Twos have started keeping their aspirations to themselves as part of the rehearsals for their next performance."
He knew he shouldn't ask. He knew it deep in his hatefully-organic bones. But he asked anyway. "Rehearsals."
"Yes, rehearsals." Three had that look in her eyes again, the one that usually involved amusement at the expense of others. "Apparently they were sufficiently encouraged by the 'unmitigated disaster' to try the singing thing again. They've hired Gaius as their full-time coach for their next performance. Would you like to see the first rehearsal tape?"
"No, no I would not like to see the- oh frak." Ignoring Cavil's protests, Three held up a portable screen displaying, in glorious high resolution, a room full of over thirty Leoben's dressed with an eye-hurting lack of color coordination belting out 'My Heart Will Go On' at the top of their lungs while a very frazzled-looking Gaius Baltar made frantic conducting motions with his hands.
Cavil gawked. "We're thinking of having Gaius start working on giving him fashion advice next," Six said. "If we can get Leoben to start wearing different shirts, it will be a great accomplishment for all of Cylon civilization."
"Yeah, and after that we can get him started on Aaron and Cavil," Boomer said.
"Now hold on!" Cavil protested. "Five's taste in suits is terrible, no one's questioning that-"
"I am." Doral frowned. "I like my suits. I'm thinking of trying some new things with neon."
"-but what's wrong with the way I dress?"
"Brother, you only have two outfits and they're both black," Three said. "The hat's nice, the hat can stay, but we've simply got to get you into something a little more exciting."
"I find black to be an ideal color," Cavil said, almost pouting. "It's simple. It's efficient."
"It's unimaginative," Six said. "But I'm sure Gaius will be able to help you just like he's helped Leoben. Maybe something red. With stripes!"
"The Hybrid recommended polyester with spirals," Eight added. "I can see it."
Cavil groaned. This is my family, he thought. This is my frakking family.
The Basestar Pimptactica coasted along through the void.