AN: This is the first chapter of my intended sequel to "A Flash Before the Eyes." If you haven't read that, this won't make sense. I say "intended" sequel because I'm not really sure how far I'll get with this. Reviews help. If you'd like the story to continue, please send them along. :-)
When we last saw our intrepid friends, some were having heart-to-hearts with Cylon friends; some were experiencing strange dreams; some were beginning to make sense of their lives; and some were in a Raptor bound toward the planet Earth.
Ghosts of the Past
She stared at the grey, weather-worn tablets in front of her, lifting her fingers to the aged grooves in the stone. Took one step back, two, until her shoulder blades hit the next stone; she leaned against it, slid down it until she was sitting, but still she stared.
She heard steps behind her and felt a warm body lower itself beside her. Tentatively, he touched her arm with his fingers, then withdrew. When he spoke, his voice was still husky, even now, so long after the leap they had taken from Galactica to the waiting Raptor, the leap that had saved her from her execution. "Kara? What... what's wrong, Kara?"
She didn't look at him, just stared at the tablet before her. "Lee... can't you see what this means?" Her eyes were wide with terrified recognition. "It's all my fault, Lee. It's what the hybrid said, but I didn't understand it then. 'You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace....'"
He turned his eyes in the direction she looked. Carved in block capitals, the faintest hints of color buried deep in the crevices of the lettering, eight words just discernible: "You will lead them all to their end."
She stared at the words, couldn't tear her eyes from them; but it was the words beneath those, another sentence, that held him rapt. They read, simply: "There are more."
The day before, the six wanderers had found themselves sitting in a Raptor, approaching a dead planet. Physically proximate but in their own worlds: the journey was almost silent but for D'Anna's sporadic questions, instruments that she used to probe Kara Thrace's wounds.
"So you've outsmarted the admiral. You're on your way to Earth. The Fleet has jumped away. Success on all counts. But I have to wonder: just what do you expect to find?"
Starbuck (speechless for most of two hours, except for her first despairing cries) turned her eyes to the Cylon wearily. "Why are you here, D'Anna?"
The Cylon smiled, not her usual biting smirk, but something almost tender: there was a sad wistfulness in her eyes. "Why? Because we're not so very different, you and I." A beat. "I just want to understand what I am."
A voice from the front interrupted them: "Breaking atmosphere." They all tensed, then. Arms wrapped more tightly around isolated bodies, eyes squeezed shut, chins nodded to chests: if possible, each pulled more into himself than before. And then it was over; deep breaths were taken, shoulders fell, eyes opened. "– hate that..." the doctor mumbled softly from his seat.
Maggie, then: "Where do you want me to take this bird, Starbuck?"
Panic lit in shiny eyes for a moment (from were Lee lay, huddled and alone, watching her, he caught it; his brow furrowed in confusion). Her voice was timid, came in a breathy rush. "I don't kn –" But she seemed to catch herself; inhaled, exhaled. "I – I'll show you."
Then she was in the front of the bird – where she was born to be, where she would die to be – and she seemed to them all a bit more like herself than had that shell of a woman whose fingers had stretched uselessly toward the comm system that had broadcast the sounds of Leoben's death. She took Sam's seat beside Racetack; as he moved aside for her, he squeezed her shoulder slightly, threw her a shy smile, before moving toward the back of the bird.
As she single-mindedly directed the Raptor down through the remnants of skyscrapers (all that remained were rusted girders and some masonry), Sam cautiously seated himself beside Lee's still form. "Hey, man – are you feeling okay? You hit the deck pretty hard."
Apollo turned reluctant eyes up toward the Cylon; pushed himself carefully to his seat from where he lay curled on the floor. "I'm fine. Just –" A beat. He scrubbed his hands over his face. "Just a little shell-shocked, I guess." His voice was hoarse.
Sam looked down at his hands, then away, and back again. Trying to find words that might do something. "Listen, don't take it too personally, you know? She's – she's been through a lot. She's confused. We all are."
Beside him, Lee tensed, muscles bunching across his back. He turned hard eyes toward the Cylon, bit out from between clenched teeth: "Thanks for the advice."
Sam shrugged. Was about to respond, but it was too late: they had set down.
She took them first to the first place that she had been (the first place, other than that isolated field where a downed Viper, a rusted gun, and a set of bones had rested for a thousand years). In this church she had first spoken to Anastasia Dualla in a ornately carved confessional.
The confessional was gone, now, as was most of the roof of the building (the few rafters that still stood cast elaborate shadows against the angles within the church, the sun brighter now than it had seemed a few days before). She walked the walls of the sanctuary; drew her hand along the stone housings of stained-glass windows (most of the glass long since broken by the slow shift of the building; the color of the pieces that still stubbornly clung to the frame dulled by hundreds of years of dust).
She was alone in the church; had mumbled absently before entering that she needed to pray. It was no matter: the others occupied themselves easily outside. Racetrack stayed in the Raptor to organize their food supplies; Baltar and D'Anna walked around with a small handheld particle detector. Sam made his way absently in the direction of the park, as if drawn there. And Lee –
"I need to know what's going on with you." Lee was behind her. A rough hand on her shoulder, and he turned her to face him. The sun angled through the window behind him, shadowing his features, his eyes. "I need to – I need to know that you're still with me. I –" A beat. "I came here for you."
Her face crumpled. She turned her eyes away as she threw a hand up to bat at a tear. "Don't you get it, Lee? It was all for nothing. I can't do this without him. He was – he was my guide. I needed him. I needed him to tell me what to do. And now I've brought you all here for nothing. I don't know where to go from here." A pause, and she looked back at him, her eyes asking him something. Something he couldn't read. "I don't know what to do."
He was quiet for a moment, and when he spoke, it was with resignation. "You've never needed anyone before, Kara." A pause. "I had hoped that when you finally did... I had hoped that it would be me."
They stood for several moments there, staring at one another. Across her face flitted pain, shock, disbelief. Her eyes tried to convey to him what her lips couldn't. But he couldn't see. As he turned, then, to leave, a voice from behind. She turned her face toward it. "Captain Thrace," the doctor asked in his high Caprican clip. Finished measuring the radiation, then. "Can you – can you read their language? Will you tell me what this says?"
When she turned back, Lee was gone, so she made her way to the doctor. "I – I'm not sure. I – I could when I was here. I did. But I don't know if I could again." She went to stand beside him at the pulpit; followed his downcast eyes to a book, fully encased in glass (she had no doubt that if the glass were removed and the pages met the air, it would dissolve before her eyes).
"There –" He pointed, and looked briefly to her, his glasses glinting. "Try."
She took a deep breath. "'I –'" A pause. "'I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. I –'" She faltered. "'I have come to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.'"
The look she turned toward him was pained. "Why?"
"Because –" His voice was steady. "I need to know what it says."
"'Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, and you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.'"
"'And Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?"'"
"And he said?"
"'He said, "Certainly I will be with you. This will be the token to you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain."'"
"And then here." His hand guided her finger. "This last line."
She was crying, now. But she did as he asked. "'He said, "Oh, Lord, please send someone else."'"
Silence, deafening. She backed away from him, from the pulpit, stumbling over the rubble behind her in her frenzy. And then, without turning to her, the doctor spoke. "But he didn't, did he, Captain Thrace? He didn't send someone else. He sent you."