It wasn't long after throwing Kara against the wall like a rag doll Scar-face left the cell. Someone had knocked on the door and left the cryptic message 'They're there.' Who they were and where there was she didn't have much clue but he seemed to deflate and limped out of the room.
She must have spent an hour cramped up in the little cell, her head and jaw still throbbing. It was most likely from the way her head met rifle other than the throw. Not that it had helped much. The good news was that there were humans here, they'd survived whatever had happened to the planet. The bad news, she still didn't know what it was that had drove them underground and they weren't friendly.
There was an almost polite knock on the door and Kara cursed herself for not checking if it was locked. The door opened and a small waif of a girl in a dirty blue jump suit came in. She didn't look old enough to know how to use the big launcher slung under her arm let alone strong enough to fire it. 'John wants you to come with me.' she said as if stating a matter of fact.
So Scar-face's name was John, it was info and he seemed to be in charge here. Something to tell the old man when she broke out. Wincing Kara put her head in her hands, playacting. This was her chance to get out 'Are you alright.' The girl asked, despite the words there was no concern in her voice.
'I think so, head's still ringing from that blow.' Kara faked it for all it was worth. Sure, she wasn't fine but she was a lot better than when Scar-face took her down. The girl came closer, pushing the oversized cannon behind her narrow waist. Training or no training Kara's size would be enough to overpower the girl and as a colonial pilot she had training too.
Fighting down the guilt for what she was about to do Kara went for the girls jaw-line. With luck she could take her down quickly. Before she could make a sound. A quick twist would be all that was needed to snap her slender neck, then Kara would have the cannon and a way out of here.
It was more than a little surprising to find the half starved child move even faster than herself. With one hand the girl had Kara by the top of her shirt. Even with both of Kara's hands around her slender neck it was stronger than steel and unyielding. For a moment the two of them were locked there, neither giving an inch. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, what Kara thought was a child had her in the air, one hand in her gut and the other just above her chest bone. Both moving like pistons. 'What the frak?'
She examined Kara like some sort of insect. 'You are uninjured.' The girl finally said in the same empty voice. She tilted her head and Kara got a cold feeling that she knew just what had grabbed her. 'I will take you to John now.' She said, stating a fact and then like she was no more than cargo the thing that looked like a girl carried her out on one shoulder.
Hefted around like a bag load of spare parts Kara struggled, but wherever this girl was made believed in brute force. The Viper Pilot didn't give up and sent a vicious elbow into the side of her captors head. Bruising her arm and making very little impact on the machine. A few steps later the skin-job Cylon kicked open a door and put Kara down. The small room they were in felt like an airlock, right down to the wheel on the other door. Quickly a restraining hand clamped around Kara's mouth.
'John is outside, waiting for you. He has something to show you.' She whispered. 'Be very quiet, or they will find you. Find us and kill everyone here.' Then, very much like a child, she raised a finger and pressed it to her own lips.
It might have been some Cylon trick but for a moment Kara thought she could see actual concern in the skin-job. Kara tried to nod and slowly the Cylon released her. Opening the outer hatch the two of them crept out, the Cylon behind Kara gently pushing her along.
It was night fall and the sunken sun blooded the murky sky. Half crawling, half crouching through the ruins Kara could see in the half light wreckage of the lost city. It brought back painful memories of Caprica and the fracked up farm, the difference was instead of Centurions cleaning up after the bombs here everything was left. Like some grim badge of honour, a constant reminder that someone once lived here and something had taken it all away.
Just ahead of her Scar-face was crouched behind a half fallen wall. There was a wreak of a car, melted almost beyond recognition and long since cooled, balanced on top. The man waved them over and the Cylon pushed her.
'Fraking skin-job.' Kara hissed at Scar-face.
John half smiled at her, it was anything but friendly. 'She's been reprogrammed.' he whispered back before handing her a pair of binoculars. 'Have a look at your friends.' he ordered.
Reluctantly she took them and with the Cylon girl's hand on her shoulder peeked up just high enough to see what was happening.
On the hilltop over looking the city that Baltar's followers were supposed to be making into a temple something had changed. A thick ugly grey smoke rose instead of people, someone had burnt the encampment to the ground. Then she saw them. Gleaming metal skeletons, with oversized rifles walking amongst the small fires. Each one a ghoulish spectre of shining death. One turned and fired a handful of shots into something Kara couldn't see. On reflection she didn't want to.
Out of the sky a search light snapped on at an angle, like the eye of the gods it swung over the bluff before the source slid out of the cloud cover. A large aircraft, in the shape of a wishbone with three engines at the end of each prong hovered there for a moment, bright blue thrusters pointed down, before landing gently. The skeletons marched up and into the craft. 'What the frak was that? They butchered them!' Kara growled. Even Cylons took prisoners.
Scar-face picked up a rifle and checked the ammo clip absently. As if ignoring her question. Finally he looked at her. 'You've travelled a long way, just to find another war Kara. Come on, the longer we're out here the better the chances HK's will spot us.' With that he crept way. The Cylon pushed Kara to follow.
Bill Adama looked up from his desk. Helo was there, looking uncomfortable with the colonel star on his collar. Still until Bill could trust Saul again Agathon was the best choice for the job. 'What is it?' He wasn't really in the mood for bad news.
The fleet had lost hope, continuing almost on automatic. With nothing left to fight for. No matter how many times Laura told everyone how it was a chance to start again the fleet just couldn't find the energy. To top it off the President was doing worse, as if the emotional blow had sped up her cancer.
Eventually Helo answered, long pauses were never a good thing on this ship. 'We've lost contact with Kara and the marines we sent down with Baltar and his followers.'
Bill digested that for a moment. 'Lost contact? Equipment malfunction?'
Helo shook his head. 'No sir, at least I don't think so. We sent three kits down there with them and Kara's Raptor should still be there. Now we're not even getting the transponder.'
Bill stood and looked to his painting. 'The Cylons?'
'No launches, at least none that haven't been counted for.' Bill nodded, this wasn't good news.
Turning he switched on his squawk radio and flipped the switch for communications. 'Dee, get the Baseship on the line.' he looked back to Helo. 'Weather interference?'
'Unlikely sir. There's cloud cover but no electrical activity and the sun's EM is quiet.' Helo swallowed as Dee came back on the radio.
'We have D'Anna on the line Admiral.' She said before switching over.
'What can we do for you Admiral?' The Cylon leader asked civilly.
Bill didn't trust her as far as he could throw the Galactica. 'We've lost contact with our people on Earth. All of them. I'm told you haven't made a launch for the planet.'
'No, we haven't. Was Gaius among those lost?'
Bill resisted a growl. 'Yes and his followers, and the marine team I had with them.'
'We must send a joint expedition to find out what happened.'
This time Bill did growl. 'They're our people.'
D'Anna dropped the act of politeness herself. 'Earth and the fate of the thirteenth tribe is important to both our people. Our alliance is fragile and new, I would hate to see it break now.'
Bill knew Laura would never go for it but he had to agree. 'I'll talk with the President. Have a transport ready.'
'Thank you Admiral.' The Cylon leader said with false sweetness and the radio cut out.
'Good call Bill.' Laura said weakly. Wrapped in a shawl her wig was crooked an she was leaning on the door frame to his bed for support.
Offering a hand Bill helped her to his chair, 'Should you be up?'
'Do you think that matters.' She coughed before waving off Helo's offer of help. 'No, thank you Colonel Agathon. I heard what you told Bi... the Admiral.' She corrected herself and leaned on Bill a little bit more as he helped her sit down. 'You know they'll send someone down anyway. They've been looking for an excuse.'
No matter how much he got to know her Laura always surprised him, but he guessed while he was learning some politics from her she was learning military tactics from him. 'I know, if we send one transport each it should be safer for both of us.'
Laura nodded and looked to Helo. 'Colonel, how goes the planets survey?'
Helo set his shoulders. 'Not well. There's some signs that something was down there after the bombing. We've only been able to get rough account so far but there are wreaks of some sort of tall armoured vehicle class.'
'Yes' Laura nodded. 'The Admiral told me about them. What do you think they were for?'
'Well I'm not sure but one of the Marine Captains thinks they're a urban warfare weapons platform. She thinks they tower over the battlefield and shower the target with kinetic rounds.'
Bill had heard that too 'Sounds likely, if unlike anything we had back on Caprica. Keep us informed. First though I want you and your wife in a Raptor with a squad. Find Kara Karl and find out what happened down there.'
'Motherfrakers!' Kara hissed, 'It was all a trap, to get the fleet here and wipe out humanity. Wasn't it? You're the fraked up final Cylon' She said to the Scar-face before turning on the girl. 'What are you, some sort of new model? Dressed up like a girl 'cause he likes to frak you when the lights go out?' She was ready to kill them. Sure Baltar's followers were crazy, but they were just civilians.
The three of them had made it back to the underground base and then Kara's cell where she had finally exploded. She wanted answers and now she was going to get them 'Cyberdyne systems advanced infiltration model. Organic flesh over hyper alloy combat chassis.' The girl said with a tilt of her head. 'I was created to infiltrate deep into Tech-com military command and kill the leader of the human resistance, John Connor.'
'That would be me.' Scar-face explained.
'John was not fooled, deactivated and removed my chip. Once reprogrammed my new mission was the protection of all humans, under the command of John.'
'Basically Cameron is the same as those Skull-heads you saw out there. The only difference is the flesh and the reprogramming we did.' John explained, siting on the pallet built into the wall.
Kara looked the girl up and down. 'So under the skin she's metal, really metal metal. Not like Cylon skin-jobs that are meat all the way through. Who built her?' She might not believe them but Intel was the first order
'Skynet. It was a computer defence program. Then the government decided that human error was a problem. In exercises people were reluctant to launch their nukes, imagine that.' John said with sarcasm. 'So they made it all automated, then for the sake of it built Skynet to manage everything.'
Kara blinked. 'You're fraking kidding.' she gasped. 'Some asshole thought that was a good idea?'
John scratched the bottom of his scar. 'It was better. That simple, it beat everyone in practice. The guys in charge reasoned that it was a better general and just a computer. Something went wrong they could just turn it off. They were wrong. As soon as it got a taste of a bigger system it was out of control.'
'Skynet became sentient zero point eight seconds after activation.' The girl, Cameron explained. 'As it became aware those that built it panicked. Skynet saw them as a threat to it's survival and by extension humanity became it's enemy. Gaining access to the missile launch codes Skynet launched a global nuclear bombardment in an effort to exterminate all threats to it's survival.'
'After that things got worse.' John took over. 'No one could quite believe what had happened and blamed each other. It was everyone for themselves, people hunting each other in packs. Civilisation fell practically over night and mankind became little more than animals. Then, after a year or so, Skynet struck again. Centaur tanks and Hunter Killer aircraft built all over the world turned on us, taking out the strongest groups and those countries less affected by the bombs. There was no way to organise a resistance, Skynet had a strangle hold over global communication and used it to turn what forces we had against each other. We were beaten and lost. Those that survived were crowded into work camps and left to rot.'
'John survived.' Finished the machine. 'He escaped his work camp, collected his people and taught them how to fight back.'
Kara was about to ask how when a knock sounded on the door and it opened. A strange figure was on the other side, dressed head to toe in rags and hunched over with what looked like a growth on it's back. 'John, two more craft are coming. They're not from around here.' They said in a strange, almost sing-song childish, voice.
John seemed sombre for a moment before looking back. 'Thanks Johnny. Cameron get the strike team ready, I'll find Kara a weapon.'
'You're kidding.' Sharon laughed. 'She was really there?' She was piloting the Raptor down to Earth.
In the co-pilot's seat Helo shook his head. 'I didn't see anything. She came from his bedroom and that's all I'm saying.'
'Oh yes?' Sharon knew her husband all to well. He never pried into people's private lives, even when they were laid out in front of him.
'You know this is like talking about our parents getting some.' One of the younger marines said from the back. 'We could all do with out knowing.'
As the shuttle burned through the atmosphere Sharon cast over her shoulder; 'Come on, this is classic. The two of them, leaders of the fleet, an almost forbidden passion...'
'Can we not talk about this now?' The marine answered, looking panicked out of the front.
'Something wrong... marine' Helo asked.
'Name's Wright sir. And I know you're the pilot sir but isn't this the dangerous bit?'
Outside the window the blood red flames died out. 'No, the difficult bit's landing.' Sharon explained. 'Or stopping. For planetary entry there's nothing to do but hold on until the other side and wait.' Taking the controls again they felt a little sluggish, like they should.
Sharon did toy with the idea of giving the kid a rough landing but thought better of it. This was serious mission, something had happened on this dead world. They had to find out what. Coming down they found the landing site. From this height you could see the small fires glowing against the fresh night. No movement but the place wasn't deserted. Bodies littered the ground like leaves from a tree, if it was an accident down there it had been though.
Touching down gently Sharon looked over, on the other side of the site the Heavy Raider that had followed them down was already emptying. A dozen shiny Centurions reflected in the search light the Heavy Raider shone. Now that the humanoid models were mortal suddenly the Centurions had became a lot more disposable. That sort of casually cold manoeuvre chilled Sharon. Her people were becoming more human all the time.
Lighting up her Raptors own searchlight the hatch on the side opened and the six marines jumped out. 'Keep your eye's pealed and remember these bullet heads are supposed to be on our side.' The leader, Smillills, reminded everyone.
Sharon and Helo followed, without saying anything she knew he felt it too. Something wasn't right about this. Together they drew their side arms, Sharon checking she had a good supply of explosive rounds. 'What the frak did this?' she asked the choking smoke filled air.
Any hope it was an accident was gone. One young woman had a stitch of rounds running across her, another had a massive burn mark on her back. A marine turned her over and Sharon winced, she'd be shot in the front by something that burnt straight through. Something had moved through the followers and butchered them.
'Over here!' Helo called, he was crouched by a pile of bodies. Grimly he pulled them off. Under them Sharon saw Baltar, 'He's still alive.' Helo shouted and two marines jogged up to him.
Sharon kept her wits and looked around, the feeling that something was wrong growing. The centurions largely ignored what was going on, surveying the grim scene disconnected from the suffering. She didn't fully trust them but there was a brutal element to this attack they just weren't programmed for. Looking back she saw Baltar was in shock.
That didn't stop her husband questioning him. 'What happened?'
'They came... we didn't know. God wouldn't let this happen, he loved them. He loves all of us.' He gasped and then looked up 'Is this a test? Another chance to see if I'm worthy. Why take them? Why send the demons to take them? Why not me?' He sobbed before braking down completely. 'Why not me?'
Sharon knew the signs, the man was in shock. Helo shook his head, 'Take him aboard, we're not going to leave him here.'
'Hey!' Called out Wright. 'I though they were all supposed to be women?'
'What?' Sharon, Helo and Smillills asked at the same time. Sharon's grip on her sidearm tightened.
'His whack-job followers, I thought...' He never finished the sentence. One of the body's sat up and in the same move smoothly pulled one of the largest pistols Sharon had ever seen from behind their back. Two rounds fired, semi-automatic. The top of the gun slid back with each crack. Point blank range. Wright was picked up from the ground with the first bullet. The second caught him in mid air, sending him in a back flip. Even with body armour Sharon could see the shots pass through him.
Without thinking She and Helo had fired. Standard armour piercing rounds tore into the shooter. To their right another stood up, this one with a massive rifle pulled out from under a body. Automatic rounds spit out at the Centurions. ripping them apart.
Then another arose. It's own rifle catching the remaining centurions in a crossfire. Sharon didn't know why they were ignoring them and didn't care. She just spun and fired at the second attacker. Smillills was firing with her with his rifle when Helo tackled her to the ground. 'He's not dead yet!' her husband shouted, pointing at the first one. The attacker with the pistol.
They were now standing, aiming at them. Smillills fell between them, a large hole in his head. 'Frak me!' Sharon cursed. Even with her Cylon reflexes she was almost too slow. Dropping an explosive round in the chamber she aimed and fired central mass. The compact detonation threw the attacker's aim at the right moment and they missed.
However, instead of turning them inside out like it should have if they were human or shattering metal like a centurion, they were just staggered by the blow. In the handful of moments she had left to live everything happened with painful slowness. Helo kept firing AP rounds, even as they sunk into the creatures flesh it barely twitched from them.
The last two centurions were firing at the two others with the same luck.
One attacker had turned to the marines, scything through them without a shred of emotion.
Finally, at last she turned her attention to the massive pistol. She heard, as if distantly, her husband's weapon run dry. The massive pistol pointed at her as certain as the falling of an axe. Pulling the face of her daughter, her Hera, to mind as the last bit of comfort she could Sharon looked at the face of her killer.
Only to have a miracle answer. A blue burst of light flared at the back of the monsters head. Exploding in a bright ball of fire the headless body fell to one side. More blue bursts came out of the shadows. Cutting down the killers.
Kara just fired. The plasma burst rifle John had given her had almost no recoil. Still his expert shot had shocked her. She and the four men John had gathered opened up on the ambushers, they didn't last long.
'Frak me, I love this gun.'
'Thank Johnny, but you can do that later.' John said. 'Lets bring your friends up to date.' Taking the lead Scar-face vaulted over the rubble and almost jogged into the light.
'Hold it right there.' Sharon called out, getting to her feet and aiming her gun.
The four guards with her had their guns up in a flash. If Sharon wasn't careful she was going to make a mistake.
'Stand down, LT. We're friends.' Kara shouted, stepping into the light herself.
'Starbuck?' Helo shouted. 'What's going on?'
'Love to explain Helo but I've only got half the story.' Kara shrugged
'Whatever it is it gave you a hell of a shiner.' Sharon lowered her gun.
It was John who answered. 'That was my fault. Skynet was closing in on this place and I didn't have time to ask Kara to come nicely. Still don't.'
'The Machines will have seen you come down.' One of Scar-Face's men said. Any minute now this place will be flooded with metal.
'More of these?' a marine Kara didn't know kicked a Terminator, at least that's what John had called them.
'A lot more.' He answered. 'So before we get tied up with questions here's what's going to happen. An officer exchange.'
From behind Kara came Cameron, the pet killing machine was half carrying someone with her. Dressed in rags it looked a lot like Johnny but without the hump or jerking limp. This person had more like a hobble and gave a painful his as they moved. John continued; 'You take one of my commanders with you back up there, we keep Kara down here. She fills you're leaders in while Kara stays here.'
'What if we say no?' the same marine asked. Kara heard the four plasma rifles charging.
'It's not a suggestion.' John said grimly. 'We don't have much time. So you have to hurry.'
Bill half ran into the deck. His son hot on his heels. Pulling himself to a stop the Admiral almost pulled the hatch to the landing deck off it's bolts. The radio message had been short and to the point. Some sort of Cylon trap had almost killed everyone in the search party. Only Baltar was left from the landing site and he was in shock.
The Raptor came down on the hydraulic pad. There was also some odd report about an army and sending a officer with them to update the fleet. When the Raptors hatch opened Bill saw what they meant by attack.
Of the search party two marines, Helo and his wife were there. Baltar was passed out and being carried. All five looked like they'd just been on a quick trip to hell. Dirty and sprayed with blood. 'Helo report.'
'Sir, whatever is going on on that planet it's not dead. I don't know how to explain it.'
'I think I can.' Coughed a voice, at the back of the Raptor someone stood up. Sharon helping them. Their head was covered in a hood and some long cloak that covered their arms, both made of rags.
'And who are you?' his son asked.
'How quickly you forget Lee.' They croaked then with a covered hand pulled back the hood.
Her face wasn't as young, in fact she was maybe older than Bill. Side of her face badly burnt and partly covered with an eye-patch the woman pulled herself to her full height, pain written over her face. 'Starbuck?' Lee gasped at the wreak of a human in front of them.
'You thought we'd reached the end?' Kara Thrace laughed sardonically. 'Don't fool yourself guys, we haven't even started yet.'
End Chapter 1
"Johnny" is from another crossover one shot. I was asked to make it a series so here you go. Just what (and who he is) should be obvious but I'll reveal all next chapter!