Gaeta couldn't explain why the jump coordinates had messed up.
"I don't know, sir," he told the commander, staring at his screen. Everything was reading accurately; the DRADIS console should have been full, telling them they were surrounded by the rest of the fleet. The lack of dots stared back at him accusingly.
"Our jump coordinates should have been the same as the fleet's," he said, somewhat unnecessarily. Of course they should have been; the question was why they weren't.
"Dee," Adama said, and Gaeta let out a breath when the commander's gaze was no longer pointed at him. "Did you distribute the correct coordinates?"
"Yes, sir," she said, as Gaeta scrolled back through the log. Eventually, his breath caught.
He looked up, trying to keep his face impassive. "It's us, sir," he said finally. "We're at the wrong coordinates. The rest of the fleet should be at the rendezvous point."
"How the hell did that happen?" Tigh muttered, loud enough to be heard. Gaeta kept his eyes focused on the commander.
"I'm not sure," he admitted. "We entered the right coordinates. I don't know what happened."
Adama sighed, and Gaeta dropped his gaze. "Can you get us to the right coordinates?"
"Negative, sir. The computer ... as far as the FTL is concerned, we're at the right place."
There was a moment's silence, and Gaeta's mind ran through ways he could override the automation. It could be done, he thought, but bypassing the FTL coordinates would put them in dangerous territory; they were as likely to jump into the nearest sun as they were to find the rest of the fleet. Until he knew what had messed up the computer, he didn't want to try anything so risky.
"Cylons?" Tigh asked, breaking the silence. Gaeta looked up.
"Could a Cylon virus have affected the coordinates?" the commander asked.
Gaeta paused. "Yes, sir," he said, his voice even. "It's possible. There's really no way to tell."
"Find a way," Adama said, and he nodded.
"Madam President," Adama said, shutting the door to his quarters behind him. He had almost forgotten she was waiting for him.
"Is everything all right?"
For a moment, he considered how much to tell her. But if they didn't fix this soon, she was going to find out one way or another, and he supposed that she had a right to know.
"There's been a glitch in our computers," he said, meeting her gaze. "It appears that we've jumped to the wrong coordinates."
The surprise barely registered on her face. "What about the rest of the fleet?"
"Lieutenant Gaeta assures me that the rest of the fleet is safe. We're working on a way to rejoin them."
She nodded, but he could guess her concerns; without the Galactica, the fleet was defenseless.
"We'll find a way," he assured her, and sat down to offer her a drink.
As the virus ran its course through the ship, the life support systems whirred and clicked, sending new particles rushing through the vents. Throughout the ship, people closed their eyes, and inhaled.
When Kara came to, the first thing she noticed was that she was wet.
The second thing she noticed was that she had no idea where she was.
"What the frak?" she muttered, pushing herself up off the floor. The tiles were cold beneath her feet, and she reached for the towel beside her, drying herself off before pulling on the clothes lying nearby. She looked around; as far as she could tell, she was alone. Briefly, she considered the possibility that she had slipped, but that still didn't explain why she had no idea how she'd even got there. She frowned, and made her way to the hatch.
Outside the bathroom - head, she corrected herself; the bathroom on a ship was called the head, and she was evidently on some kind of ship - the corridors were empty, and her frown deepened. All she wanted right now was to find someone, anyone, who could explain to her where the hell she was, and maybe tell her why. She walked quickly, scanning the area around her, and after a minute, found what she assumed was the barracks.
"What the hell is going on?" she demanded of the room at large. The people inside turned to look at her, and one man, impossibly young, shook his head.
"I don't know," he said. His blank expression was mirrored by those around him, and Kara considered, for a moment, the possibility that they weren't lying. They certainly didn't look like captors, at any rate.
"Who are you?" a girl beside him asked. Kara opened her mouth to reply, and stopped. That was a very good frakking question.
"Who are you?" she countered, and the girl shook her head. Around the room, people started murmuring.
"Wait a minute," another man said, holding up a hand. He was attractive, she noted, and didn't quite dismiss the thought. "Does anyone here know who they are?"
When nobody replied, his lips tightened. "Does anybody remember anything?"
"I remember waking up," Kara said, and shrugged. "Nothing before that." On impulse, she stepped forward, reaching to examine the tags that hung below his neck. "You're Lee Adama," she told him.
He reached out before she could stop him, his fingers sliding across her top. "And you're Kara Thrace," he said, reading off her own tags.
Around them, people began to look down, started calling out names. Kara's mind raced; tags. That meant they were military. Was this some kind of experiment?
"What the frak is going on here?" she asked Lee, keeping her voice low.
He shook his head. "I don't know."
"Are you all right?"
Adama reached out to the woman across from him. She nodded, but didn't take his hand.
"I think so. Where ... where are we?"
He looked around, and realised he didn't know, either. It wasn't a comforting thought.
"I don't know," he admitted aloud. The woman looked shaken.
"What happened?" she asked. He shook his head, and stood, glancing towards the door - the hatch - at the other side of the room.
"I'm going to find out," he said.
It didn't take long for Kara to figure out that nobody knew any more than she did. But people seemed to feel better for knowing their own names, and soon there was a rush to examine the lockers that lined the room.
"Is this yours or mine?" Lee asked beside her, and she turned. She followed his gaze to a photograph, where her arms were around another man while Lee stood to the side. She stepped forward, reaching into the locker, and pulled out a pair of definitely female underwear.
"Mine," she said, and took the photograph from where it had been tucked in below the mirror. "So, I guess we know each other."
"I guess so," he said, and smiled. He moved on to the next locker as she stared at the photograph, willing it to trigger some kind of memory. She was disappointed, if not surprised, when nothing happened.
"Okay," Lee said loudly, once the search was mostly over. Some of the lockers had names on them; most had a few personal items inside. "I say we get out of here, and find out what the hell is going on."
"Who put you in charge?" the girl who had spoken earlier questioned, and he looked at her.
"These say I'm a captain," he said, fingering his tags. "What about yours?"
Her eyes narrowed. "Lieutenant."
"Well then, lieutenant. Why don't we get out of here and see if there's anyone else in this place."
"Ship," Kara said, glancing at him. "It's a ship."
"Ship, then," he said, and she followed him out of the room.
Sharon stood up slowly, eying the guard on the other side of the glass. He looked at her, and tightened the grip on his gun. After a moment, she picked up the phone, and motioned for him to do the same.
"Where the hell am I?" she demanded, and his eyes widened.
"I ... I don't know."
Sharon searched his face for some sign that he was lying; but his hands were shaking, and he looked about as scared as she felt. Somehow, it wasn't comforting.
"What's going on?" she asked, but he simply shook his head.
"I don't know," he admitted, and dropped the phone back in its cradle.
Adama didn't notice that the woman had followed him until he was standing in what he assumed was the control room. He considered sending her back, but figured that it probably wasn't worth the argument. Until they knew what was going on here, there wasn't much point in trying to give orders.
"Can anyone tell me what the hell is going on?" he asked. Most people turned to face him, puzzled expressions on their faces, and a few shrugged.
"Nobody seems to remember anything," one man offered. "As far as I can tell, we seem to be suffering from some sort of mass amnesia."
Adama studied the man for a moment, then closed his eyes. Whatever he had expected to find, it wasn't this.
"Mass amnesia?" he repeated slowly.
Adama raised an eyebrow. His gaze caught that of a grey-haired man in the centre of the room, and the look they shared felt familiar. He sighed.
"All right, then. Is there any way we can find out how this happened?"
"I can take a look through the ship's computer. See if I can find anything."
He nodded. "Good. I think we should -"
"Will someone here explain to me what the frak is going on?"
Adama turned, but before he could say anything, a chorus of voices came from behind him.
The girl who had spoken raised her eyebrows but didn't look overly surprised, and he guessed that their assumption had been correct. A man next to her stepped forward.
"If anyone is wearing tags, they should have your name and rank," he said, and Adama looked down. That was good thinking.
"In your office," the woman beside him said. "That is ... I'm assuming it was yours. Would you have more information in there? It might help us to know more about what's going on."
He nodded. "I'll see what I can find. You stay here, and see if you can figure out anything else."
She nodded her agreement, and he started back to his quarters. He searched the desk first, and then the cabinets, pulling status logs and mission reports. In another, he found personnel files.
He scanned through the last few days of reports, but found nothing that would explain the current situation. He put them aside with a frown, and began to look through the personnel files.
There were a few faces that he recognised, and he held onto the names. Felix Gaeta, Lieutenant. Anastasia Dualla, Petty Officer. Saul Tigh, Colonel, Executive Officer. His own file; William Adama, Commander of the Battlestar Galactica.
Kara Thrace, Lieutenant. The girl who had demanded answers. And the man who had stood next to her; Lee Adama, Captain.
He closed his eyes. Lee Adama. Son of William Adama.
After a moment, he opened them, and went back to the mission reports, starting from the beginning.
The guard jumped up as a man entered the room, and Sharon sat up, sliding off the narrow bed. He approached the glass, picking up the phone, and after a minute she did the same.
"Lieutenant Valerii," the man said, and she blinked. "Your name is Lieutenant Sharon Valerii."
She looked at him. "What have you done to me?"
"We haven't done anything," he said. "Some sort of amnesia is affecting the entire ship. We're working on a way to reverse it."
Sharon studied the man. He looked sincere enough, but spending most of the day locked in a cell hadn't exactly inspired her trust.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I'm Commander Adama. I'm in charge of this ship. Lieutenant Valerii ..." He paused. "I don't suppose you remember why you were being kept here?"
Commander Adama sighed. He hung up the receiver, and after a minute, said something to the guard. She watched as they opened the door to her cell, and stepped back warily.
"Sharon, it's all right. I'm letting you out."
Adama met her gaze evenly. "Would you rather stay in here?"
After a moment, she stepped forward. "No," she said.
"You let her out?"
Adama looked up at Lee - at his son, he reminded himself - and nodded. "Yes."
He held Lee's gaze for a moment. "We don't know why she was in there -" he began, and Lee interrupted him.
"Exactly. We don't know why she was in there. For all we know, she could be dangerous."
Adama held up a hand to stop him. "More likely it was some minor infraction. Lieutenant Valerii is one of our own. No-one should have to be alone right now, let alone locked in a cell for reasons nobody can even remember." He paused, and studied his son. "Does she look dangerous to you?"
"No," Lee conceded.
"No," he agreed. "I've made my decision."
"What do we know, Lieutenant Gaeta?"
Gaeta looked up at the sound of the commander's voice. He had spent the morning searching through the computer systems for any information about what had happened. So far, he hadn't been able to find anything, which was infuriating, and somewhere at the back of his mind a voice told him that he should have found something, that he was supposed to be good at this.
"Nothing so far, sir," he said, trying not to let the irritation show in his voice. "Nothing about what's affecting us, anyway. But ..."
He took a breath. "The computer's showing that we made a jump right before ... this morning. The same coordinates, distributed to the entire fleet. According to the log, we completed the jump successfully."
"And the rest of the fleet?"
"I don't know, sir. They're not registering on the console."
Gaeta heard the commander sigh, and he frowned. None of this was right; none of this, he knew, should be happening.
"If I had to guess, sir ..." He paused. "I'd say these Cylons did something to our navigational systems."
"Separate us from the fleet," Adama mused. "All right. I want you to keep an eye on what's out there. If you're right, then we should be prepared for an attack."
Gaeta nodded. "Yes, sir."
"So this is a Viper." Kara ran her hand down the side of the ship, and Lee swallowed. It was almost a caress, and he tried not to wonder what her hands would feel like trailing down his skin, whether they had ever -
"I like it," she said, interrupting his thoughts. He smiled, and gestured to the flight suit she had put on.
"I'm not surprised," he said. "That patch says you're qualified to handle one."
She smiled, almost predatory, and he swallowed again. Her eyes gleamed, and she didn't have to say it; that's not all I'm qualified to handle.
Lee wondered if kissing her would refresh his memory.
Lee turned at the commander's - his father's - voice behind him. He had ordered them to suit up a few minutes ago, and Lee knew enough to guess that he was worried about something - besides the obvious. He hadn't said what, and Lee hadn't pressed.
Over by one of the Raptors, he could see Lieutenant Valerii, the girl who had been in the brig, talking to her ECO, and he frowned.
"I know this isn't the best solution," the commander said, and Lee turned his attention back to him. "But right now, it's the only one we have. There is a very real possibility that we may soon come under attack, and before that happens, we need to know if you can still fly these things."
And if we can't? Lee wondered, but he didn't voice his doubts.
"You'll be going out in small teams. Take the planes out, and try to get a feel for them. If you have any trouble, land immediately. I don't want anyone getting hurt out there. Apollo."
There was a beat before Lee responded. Right. Apollo. His call sign. "Yes?"
"You, Starbuck, and Boomer will go first. Remember, this is just a test, so don't try anything fancy out there."
Lee nodded, and glanced at Kara. Her eyes widened in a protest of innocence, but he thought he recognised her smirk.
"Let's go," he said. Taking a breath, he climbed into his Viper.
He wasn't sure what he had expected - nothing, maybe; to launch the Viper, and simply drift - but it seemed that his body knew what to do, even if his mind didn't.
"I remember this," Kara said over the comm, and he smiled.
"I know what you mean."
"What about you, Boomer?"
"Yeah." Lieutenant Valerii's voice was hesitant, but he thought he heard pleasure in it. "Yeah, me too."
He smiled as Kara shot ahead; laughed as she spun her Viper, and moved his own forward to join her. They were engaged in a sort of competition he wasn't entirely sure was wise when the commander's voice interrupted.
"Apollo, this is Galactica. We're registering enemy contact. Do you see anything out there?"
"Negative, Galactica. We -"
He was interrupted by Kara; her "Oh, frak" reverberated through his headset. And then he saw them; two ships, almost as black as the space around them, headed their way.
"Galactica, Apollo. Enemy contact sighted."
"What do we do?" he heard Helo ask over the comm, and then Boomer.
"We kill them."
Kara was already starting forward as the order came from Galactica, and he followed her, hoping to hell they both knew what they were doing. She fired first, at the raider on the left, and he took the one on the right, turning to manoeuvre as it evaded him.
"Got it!" Kara's ecstatic yell filled his ears, and he smiled. "Need some help there, Apollo?"
"Negative, Starbuck," he said, as the raider feinted left. "I got it."
A moment later, he fired, swerving as the raider exploded in front of him. "Galactica, this is Apollo," he said, his heart racing as his breath came in heavy gasps. "Enemy ships are down."
"Roger that, Apollo," a female voice said over the comm. "Come on home."
"So those were Cylons?" Helo asked. In the seat in front of him, Sharon turned around.
"I guess so," she said, and he pretended not to hear the slight quiver in her voice. "Let's just hope that's all of them."
"Let's just hope you can land this thing," he said, and saw her roll her eyes before she turned back around.
"I'll be - frak! What was that?"
Helo steadied himself on the console as the Raptor shook, and glanced up at Sharon. "A piece of debris. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she said, but her voice was shaking, and he frowned.
"Sharon, we're losing air."
"I know." Her voice was strained, and the Raptor shook as it approached the Galactica. "It breached the hull."
"Are you sure you can land all right?" he asked.
A minute later, he sighed with relief as the Raptor crashed down on the landing bay, and he heard the scrape of metal against metal. When they finally stopped, he let out a sharp laugh.
"This your first time? I don't think -"
"Helo." Sharon's voice interrupted him, low and pained. "I think ..."
He stood, and glanced at her. He could feel the colour drain from his cheeks as she held out a hand, red with blood.
"Sharon." He rushed towards her, hitting the button to open the hatch. "Sharon, it's okay. Come on. There's got to be a doctor on board somewhere."
Sharon looked up at the doctor as he mumbled to himself, tossing down a file.
"Can't read my own damn handwriting," he said, turning to face her. "At least, I assume it's mine."
"Is she going to be okay, doc?" Helo's voice was close beside her, and she glanced at him; he looked as pale as she felt.
"She'll be fine," the doctor assured him. "I ran all the tests. Lost a lot of blood, but she'll be fine."
He still looked worried, and Sharon frowned. "There's something else, isn't there?"
The doctor smiled a little, but he nodded. "There is something," he said. She didn't expect what came next.
She stared for a minute, until she was sure he wasn't joking. She felt Helo's hand on her stomach, and she looked up at him sharply. He pulled it back, looking a little sheepish.
The doctor glanced from her to Helo, and shook his head. "I don't suppose you know who the father is?" he asked.
Sharon closed her eyes. "No," she said.
"Here's the girl of the hour."
Sharon looked up as she entered the mess, the doctor's words still ringing in her ears. Kara pulled out the chair next to her, and Sharon sat down, Helo taking the seat on her other side.
"So how does it feel to screw up your very first landing?"
Sharon rolled her eyes, and gestured to the cards Kara was shuffling. "Very funny. So are you going to deal those, or what?"
Kara smiled. "I thought you'd never ask."
She dealt quickly, and Sharon followed the cards as they flew across the table. From the other side of the room, Lee glanced at them, and wandered over.
"Got room for one more?" he asked, and Kara winked at him.
They mostly made up the rules as they went along, though once or twice somebody interrupted to correct something, and Sharon wondered how they could remember something as small as a card game when they couldn't even remember their own names. Kara laughed as she raked in the first pot, and poured herself a drink.
"Now this I remember," she said smugly. She waved the bottle in Sharon's direction, and Sharon shook her head. She glanced briefly at Helo, and he smiled as if to reassure her.
Kara was still looking at Sharon when she glanced back, and she shrugged. "More for me," she said, taking a sip. "You guys ready to lose again?"
Lee shook his head. "You always -" he began, but Kara interrupted him.
"I always what?" she challenged.
After a minute, he smiled in defeat. "I don't know," he admitted.
When Sharon had to bow out after the third round, the wound in her arm beginning to ache even through the painkillers the doctor had given her, Helo frowned worriedly.
"Are you okay?" he asked quietly, and she nodded, pressing her lips together.
"Yeah," she said, trying not to wince as she stood. "I think I'm going to go lie down."
"I'll help you," he said, and she leaned on him as she threw her good arm around his shoulders. He put a hand on her waist, steadying her, and she smiled up at him.
"We have frat regs, you know," Kara said behind them, sounding amused. And then, more quietly, "At least, I think we do."
Lee downed the last of the alcohol, feeling it burn its way down his throat.
"And I win again," Kara said. "You know, you really suck at this."
"That's because you're making up all the rules," he countered, and watched as she threw her head back and laughed. The sound reverberated around the empty room.
"So, what do you say?" she asked. "Up for another game?"
He shook his head. "It's getting pretty late. We should probably get to bed."
"Is that an offer?" Her tone was casual, but her eyes on his were intense, and Lee licked his lips. His mind flashed back to the picture in her locker - her arms around another man - and he stood, turning away from her.
"What, frat regs?" she asked, standing to move beside him. "I don't know about you, but I'm a little fuzzy on the rules."
"What if you have someone out there?" he asked sharply. He hadn't meant it to come out quite as harsh as it sounded, and he frowned as he turned to face her. "The guy in the picture, I mean. What if you're ... what if we're all friends? I can't ..."
He swallowed as she moved forward again, almost touching him. "If I had someone, don't you think he'd be here?" She looked down, and her expression grew suddenly serious. "They say we left a lot of people behind when the world ended."
He took a breath. He wanted to say something, but he had no idea what. She reached up to trace a hand down his bicep, and he jumped back; a moment later he regretted it, as anger flashed in her eyes.
"Frak you," she said quietly, and stalked off. Lee watched her leave, and closed his eyes. He could really, really use his memory back right about now.
Adama sighed as he sat down. Across from him, the woman looked up patiently.
"How is it going out there?" she asked.
He managed a weak smile. "As well as can be expected. We still don't know what's causing the amnesia."
She nodded. "Have you located the rest of the fleet?"
"Not yet." He looked at her for a moment. "I'm sorry I haven't been able to find a file on you."
She smiled, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. "That's okay. I must confess, I don't feel very military."
"There is a female president," he offered, and she laughed.
"I don't think that would be me. I think I'd notice if I were president."
He nodded, and held her gaze for a second. "You still need a name."
"That's right," she agreed. "I suppose I do."
She looked away, and Adama smiled. "What about Joan?"
"Joan?" She raised an eyebrow, and paused. "Yes, I suppose I could be Joan."
"Okay," he said, and stood. "Now I guess we should find you some quarters."
"They're back, sir," Anastasia said.
Adama nodded. "Good work," he said over the comm, and removed the headset, placing it on the console. He made his way onto the deck, glancing up at Lee as he climbed out of a Viper.
"You did good out there," he said, and glanced over at the rest of the pilots. "All of you. I know this is difficult, but we have to remain alert. The Cylons have already come looking for us once, and we have to assume that they'll be back."
"And hope that they don't find the fleet before we do," Joan said behind him, and he nodded.
He turned to leave, and stopped as Lee held out a hand to stay him. "Can I talk to you?"
He nodded. "Of course."
He followed Lee to the far side of the deck. "What's on your mind?"
"What is she doing here?" Lee asked, his gaze flicking over to Joan.
"Where else would she be?" he asked, keeping his voice even.
Lee ignored the question. "I don't think we should trust her."
Adama's eyes narrowed. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about, you don't even have a file on her. According to your own notes, these Cylons look just like us. How do we know -"
"Watch it," Adama warned, and drew a breath. "She was in my quarters. What would a Cylon be doing in my quarters?"
Lee shrugged. "We don't know. That's just it. We don't know anything. This obviously didn't happen all by itself. She had access to the entire ship, she had access to all of us. She could easily have -"
"I said watch it," Adama said more forcefully, and Lee fell silent. He lowered his voice. "This could have been an accident. You said it yourself, we don't know anything. Now before you go throwing accusations at Joan -"
"Who the hell is Joan?" Lee asked, practically yelling.
"She is Joan," Adama said. "And before you go throwing accusations around, I'd like to have proof."
"By the time we get proof, we'll all be dead," Lee said. "If she's a Cylon -"
"Have you noticed this?" Adama asked, cutting him off. He twisted the gold band on his finger. "We know she isn't military, and she was in my quarters -"
"You think she's your wife?" Lee demanded incredulously.
"It would explain some things."
"She's not wearing a ring."
He shrugged. "There could be a lot of reasons for that."
Lee laughed sharply, shaking his head. "She's not your wife."
"We don't know that."
Lee pursed his lips. "We don't know that she isn't a Cylon, either."
"So how are you feeling?"
Sharon looked up at Helo, who was standing by the edge of her bed. She sat up, wincing at the pain in her shoulder.
"Tired," she admitted. "And sore."
"You should get some more rest," he said, and she shook her head.
"I'm fine," she insisted.
"I know," she said, rolling her eyes as she stood. "I'm pregnant. That doesn't mean I'm an invalid."
He smiled, and raised his hand to rest it on her stomach. She looked down, and he pulled away.
"I'm sorry," he said quickly. "I don't know why I keep doing that."
"It's okay," she said, and smiled up at him. "Maybe it's fatherly instinct."
She was almost certain she had meant it as a joke, but his eyes darkened, and he stepped towards her.
"Maybe it is," he said. His tone was joking, but she couldn't quite place the look in his eyes. She bit her lip; if he took a step forward, they'd almost be touching.
"I feel bad about missing flight practice this morning," she said, not sure if she was changing the subject. Neither of them stepped back.
"I'll take you on a run later," he offered, and she smiled.
"Thanks." She laughed. "I definitely need the practice. Especially on my landings."
"I think we could claim extenuating circumstances for that," he said. For a moment, she was sure that he was going to move forward, going to lean down and kiss her. She was still trying to decide whether or not she wanted him to when Kara walked in.
"Would you two get a room already?" she asked. She looked around the rack, and laughed. "Oh, right. Don't let me interrupt."
Sharon could feel her skin beginning to flush; beside her, Helo straightened awkwardly. "You weren't interrupting anything," he said, and Kara laughed again.
"Right," she said. "Well, if you're done, I was about to grab some lunch before we go out again."
Sharon nodded, and stepped back a little too quickly. "Lunch sounds good," she said.
Gaeta looked up as Adama turned towards him.
"What is it, Lieutenant?" Adama asked.
"I think I found something, sir."
As the commander approached him, he glanced back down at the computer.
"What did you find?"
He pointed to the screen. "It's the life support systems. I think I've detected a malfunction."
Adama leaned closer, lowering his voice. "What kind of malfunction?"
"It seems -" Gaeta tried again, speaking more quietly. "Around the time of the incident, it seems that one of the life support systems started acting strangely. Instead of pumping out oxygen, it began ... well, I don't know what it was pumping out, but the sensors reacted strangely. It barely registered, but I think something definitely happened."
Adama nodded. "Do you know what caused it?"
"I'm not entirely sure. A while ago, the computer registered a Cylon virus in its system. I think ..."
"You think the Cylons did this," Adama finished, and Gaeta nodded.
The commander was silent for a minute. "Is there any way you can reverse it?"
"No, sir." Gaeta shook his head. "Not without access to Cylon technology."
"A base ship," Adama mused, and he nodded.
"All right." Adama's voice was grim. "So if we can locate a Cylon base ship -"
"Sir?" Anastasia's voice interrupted them, and Adama glanced up. "We have enemy contact."
Adama sighed. "It seems locating them isn't going to be our biggest problem. How many?"
"One larger ship, sir. Several fighters."
"Get our pilots ready," Adama ordered after a minute. "I'll brief them."
"Are you ready for this?" Helo asked as they climbed in the Raptor.
Sharon glanced back at him. "Oh, yeah. First I've got to launch the Raptor without killing us both. Then we have to destroy a bunch of Cylon raiders, somehow get onto the base ship, and find some sort of Cylon technology without knowing what the hell we're looking for. And try not to get killed while we're doing it."
"That pretty much sums it up," Helo said, a smile tugging at his lips. He reached out to take her hand, and Sharon squeezed it, smiling back at him.
"I'm not even sure if I can fly this thing," she admitted wryly, and he laughed.
"You'll be fine," he assured her. "I'm right here, remember?"
She nodded, and he reached his other hand up as if to touch his arm. He stopped short, glancing at the bandage on her shoulder, and traced his thumb across her cheek instead.
"You going to be okay?" he asked.
She nodded. "I'll be fine. Come on, let's go."
Kara turned, halfway up the steps to her Viper. Lee smiled, and tried not to let it sting when she didn't smile back.
"Look, Kara," he said. "I -"
"Save it," she interrupted him. "Save it until we're both back, okay?"
He nodded. He supposed it was her way of telling him good luck. "Okay," he agreed.
His Viper was waiting for him when he got to it, and he launched behind Kara. Once all the ships were out, he opened the comm.
"Okay," he said. "You know what we're here for. Engage the fighters on my mark. Try to get them within Galactica's firing range if you can, and stay away from the base ship. Once the fighters are taken care of, we're going to try to land a few of our ships on the base. The rest of you, stay on guard. People who are coming with me, we don't know what we're looking for, but anything we can bring back will help. Do not engage the Cylons unless you have to, and let's try to get out of there as quickly as possible.
He took a breath; steadied himself. "Mark."
The Vipers shot forward, meeting the Cylon fighters just outside Galactica's range. He veered sideways as one of them began to fire at him, returning fire as he manoeuvred the Viper to face the Cylon ship.
"Got one," Kara called out, a few seconds before the fighter in front of him exploded in flames. He smiled; the smile stayed on his face until one of the Vipers beside him - and he should have known the name of the pilot, even if he couldn't remember it - was hit, and the pilot's screams echoed over the comm.
"I'm hit," Kat said a minute later, and Lee braced himself for more screams that never came. When there was nothing but silence, he let out a breath.
"Kat?" he ventured.
"Clipped my wing," she said. "I'm okay. Viper's flying a little choppy."
"Get back to Galactica," he told her. "I think we can handle the rest."
Though he'd never admit it to her face, Lee thought Kara had probably taken out half the fighters on her own. When only a few were left, he found himself flying easier, trusting his instincts to take over.
"I think that's the last of them," he said, as another of the pilots made the final kill. "Boomer, you still with us?"
"Still here," she confirmed.
"Ready and waiting."
"Okay, then." Lee urged his Viper forward towards the base ship. "Now for the hard part."
"Hey, Apollo," Kara said, as they approached the ship. "Say I do find some piece of Cylon technology without getting my ass handed to me. There's not a lot of room in these Vipers. What am I supposed to do, put it on my lap?"
Lee smiled. "If you have to. Right now, let's just concentrate on getting in and getting out, and hopefully we'll all come out of this alive."
"Gee, don't sound so optimistic," Kara said, and he fought back the urge to laugh.
"So," Helo said, as he exited the Raptor in front of Sharon. "Get in, get out, and try not to die."
"That's the plan," she said as she stepped out behind him. They looked around, and he unholstered his gun. "Come on, let's move."
They started forward slowly, Helo trying to balance the need to get into the base without being noticed, with the need to get out as quickly as they could. He began to pick up his pace as they found the nearest corridor empty, but he kept his gun raised.
"Look out!" Sharon called quietly, and he fired as two figured rounded the corner. The shots seemed impossibly loud, and he held his breath as he waited for the Cylons to come.
"Let's go," she hissed behind him, and he nodded. He started forward, moving faster now; if they had any chance of doing this, they needed to do it quickly.
Two corridors down, another two people came into view; a man and a woman, identical to the ones they'd already seen. "Creepy," he muttered, and fought not to turn around and take Sharon's hand.
"I'll say," she agreed.
Three corridors later, he saw a room up ahead of them. Three Cylons stood guarding it, and he motioned to Sharon as he crept forward, waiting for her to move beside him before he aimed and fired. He took down two of the Cylons while Sharon took the third; when all three were down, he turned to her, and offered a weak smile.
"If we don't find anything in here, I say we head back," he whispered. She nodded, and together they stepped forward into the room.
Helo tried not to stare as they entered. The room was unlike anything he'd ever seen; he was sure of that, even if he couldn't remember it. It was high-tech, metallic and shiny, but what looked like biological systems lined the walls. He suppressed a shudder, and started forward to see if there was anything small enough to take back with them to Galactica.
He was halfway through examining something he thought might fit the bill when he heard movement from the other entrance. He stood, and froze, his gun aimed squarely at Sharon's chest.
A second later, she was on the floor, bleeding, and he turned to see Sharon - his Sharon - with her gun in hand, aimed at where the Cylon had been standing moments before.
"Sharon," he managed finally; he could barely form the words. "What the hell?"
"I don't know," she said. She was shaking, but he couldn't find the strength to move forward, to comfort her. Behind her was a table lined with water, and he tried to focus on it, to concentrate on anything other than what he'd just seen. Abruptly, his memory tugged at him, told him that Sharon had been locked in a cell when they all woke up, and he pushed the thoughts away, tried not to wonder why. It was all too much for him to process, and they were running out of time.
He still couldn't tear his eyes away from Sharon. As he watched, she turned, and plunged her hand into the liquid on the table behind her. He frowned, his mind still racing, his body frozen.
"Sharon," he managed again. "What are you doing?"
She held up a hand to silence him, appeared to concentrate harder. "Just ... trust me," she said. "I know what to do. I think."
Helo knew, vaguely, that there were other things he should be doing, things he should be looking for, but he couldn't look away from her as she closed her eyes, and the walls seemed to shimmer around them.
After a few minutes, she stopped, and flicked her gaze towards the door. Belatedly, he realised he could hear footsteps.
"Cylons," she said, and withdrew her hand. "Let's go."
When he still didn't move, she raised her voice. "Move," she said, more forcefully. "Helo, come on. Grab something and let's go."
He glanced down at the object he had been looking at, before everything had seemed to fall apart around him. "I don't know what it is," he protested. "I don't know if it even works."
"It doesn't matter," she said, her voice shaking. "Just bring something."
His body seemed to move on automatic - his mind, he thought, had shut down long before - as he picked up the Cylon device, and started towards Sharon. She was a step ahead of him, already running back the way they had come, and he followed her as quickly as he could.
By the time they got back to the Raptor, he could have sworn that the footsteps behind them had grown louder. Both Vipers were gone, and he hoped that meant Lee and Kara were safely off the ship.
"Come on," Sharon said, gesturing to him as he climbed into the Raptor. "Let's get the frak out of here."
Helo sighed with relief when they were beck on Galactica's deck, Lee and Kara standing beside the Vipers in their flight suits.
"Did you get anything?" he asked, trying to concentrate on the mission, on anything but what had happened on the Cylon ship.
Kara shook her head. "Nothing. Frakking Cylons were on us before we knew it, had to haul ass out of there."
"How about you?" Lee asked. Helo glanced back at Sharon. She was biting her lip, her face pale, and he didn't know what to say to her, except that if Lee and Kara had seen what he had, they probably wouldn't be standing around calmly. He tried not to think about what they would be doing.
Instead, he stepped forward as she handed him the object they had brought back. "We got this," he said.
Almost immediately, the deck erupted into cheers, and he put the device down, reaching up automatically to help her out of the Raptor. When she took his hand, he didn't pull back.
"Lieutenant Gaeta," Commander Adama said. "Do you know what to do with this?"
Gaeta smiled. "I'll give it my best."
"I think -" Sharon started, and Helo felt her squeeze his hand. "From what we saw on the ship, I think if you can connect it to the life support system, it might be able to work."
Gaeta nodded as he picked up the device. "Thanks," he said. "I'll get right on it."
"You okay?" Lee asked Kara as she rubbed her hip.
"Fine," she said.
"Okay." He paused, and she fought back the urge to laugh. "Kara, I -"
"Lee," she interrupted him, but he shook his head.
"No. I'm sorry. I didn't mean -"
"Lee," she tried again. "It's okay. We're good."
He nodded, and she smiled, letting herself relax. She poured a drink from the bottle she had found in her locker, and offered him one. After a minute, he accepted, and she moved forward to pour him a glass.
"So, how long until we get our memories back?" she asked.
He shrugged. "Gaeta doesn't know. That is, if it even works."
"It'll work," she said, sounding more confident than she felt. Lee smiled, and she knocked back her drink.
"Maybe a day," he guessed. "If it's going to work, it should do it by then."
She nodded. Lee finished off his own drink, and she refilled the glasses.
A minute's silence passed that wasn't quite uncomfortable. Kara leaned back against the bench, and Lee joined her. As she finished her drink, setting the cup down beside her, her hand brushed his, and she let it linger there for a moment. She turned to face him, ignoring the pain as her hip collided with the counter, and smiled as Lee shifted uncomfortably.
"I should check in with the CIC," he said, straightening. "See how everything's going."
"They don't need you there," she said.
"Lee." she leaned forward, until her chest brushed his arm. He swallowed, his body tensing as if trapped, and she grinned.
"We'll know tomorrow," he said.
She twisted, moving her leg in between his, and placed a hand on his chest. "So maybe we should take advantage of not knowing."
"I don't think that's such a good idea."
Kara rolled her eyes, and wondered if he always thought too much. "So stop thinking," she said, and leaned in to kiss him.
For a moment, he returned the kiss, and then pulled back, his hands on her waist. He turned her so their positions were reversed, pressing her back against the bench; after a second's hesitation, he leaned in again, pressing his lips to hers.
As she kissed him back, his hands tightened on her waist, and he lifted her so she was propped up on the bench. He stepped back to remove his shirt, and her hands worked on the fastenings of his pants. His hands skimmed across her stomach as he pulled her tanks over her head.
"We're going to regret this in the morning," he said, his breath hot on her lips.
She smiled as she pulled him back towards her. "Count on it."
Helo barely stopped to make sure they were alone in the rack before he closed the door behind them, turning to face Sharon.
"Do you want to tell me what the hell happened back there?" he asked.
Sharon bit her lip, and he could almost believe that she was as confused as he was. "I don't know," she said.
He shook his head. "Sharon, the woman we saw -"
"I know," she interrupted him. "I just ... I don't remember any more than you do, okay?"
Her eyes were shining, as if she were on the verge of tears, and he realised that he believed her. "She was a Cylon." And she looked just like you.
He couldn't bring himself to say the rest, to draw the inevitable conclusion, and Sharon wouldn't. The words they didn't say hung heavy in the air between them, the only thing that made any sense.
"What did you do?" he asked instead. "Back on the ship."
"I'm not sure, exactly," she said, and he held her gaze. "It was a Cylon data stream. I was trying to reverse what they did to us."
"Did it work?"
She paused. "Yes," she said finally.
Helo let out a breath. He didn't move away as Sharon took a step towards him. "And the thing we brought back?"
"It was a decoy," she admitted. "We had to give them something. I didn't want to ... not until I have to."
"They'll know," he said quietly. "When it works."
She nodded. "I know. Helo ... I'm not evil. I'm not a machine."
She looked away, and he stepped forward. He traced his hand across her stomach, and neither of them pulled back. "I know," he said.
She looked at him, then, and Helo leaned in to kiss her before he could think about it. For a second, he thought she was going to pull away, but she returned the kiss, her body warm and soft and human against his.
"How long do we have?" he asked, when she finally pulled away.
"Twenty-four hours. Maybe less."
He nodded, and reached out for her, sliding his arms around her waist. She resisted for a moment, then gave in, reaching up to kiss him again.
"If we wake up tomorrow ..." she said, and paused. "If we wake up tomorrow, and we're enemies -"
"We'll still remember this," he said, stepping back to cup her cheek. "And I won't let them hurt you."
She nodded, and his fingers were at her collar before he knew it, sliding the zip down on her flight suit. He unzipped his own while she wriggled out of it, and then his hands were on her again, clutching at her skin, and he laid her down on the bed as he promised himself that he'd remember in the morning.
Gaeta opened his eyes, and it took him a minute to realise what was different.
He was slumped over the console, and he straightened, smiling as he looked around the room in triumph.
"Sir," he said, as Commander Adama stood up. "Sir, it worked."
When Kara awoke, Lee's arm was around her, and she stiffened as she realised that his naked body was pressed against hers.
She glanced at the bottle on the counter; still mostly full. She sat up, trying not to wake him, and closed her eyes as the memories came flooding back. All of her memories.
"Morning," she said as Lee shifted, blinking up at her. He looked quickly around the room, the stiff, self-conscious way he held his body betraying his awareness of their situation, and Kara laughed.
After a minute, he smiled, and turned to face her.
"So ..." he said awkwardly, and she took pity on him.
"Moment of weakness," she said, keeping her voice deliberately light. "Not our fault, really."
"Right," he said, and she tried to read his expression. "Amnesia. Not our fault."
"Obviously, it's the only way I'd ever sleep with you," she continued, and laughed as he smacked her playfully.
"Is that so?" he asked, sitting up. After a minute, they both seemed to realise how close they were, nothing between them, and he pulled back.
"Definitely," she said, trying to keep the tension out of the air as they stood.
To her surprise, he turned back to her as she was pulling on her clothes, an all-too-unfamiliar glint in his eyes.
"We'll have to see about that," he said.
Helo awoke to the sound of Sharon's breathing beside him. He closed his eyes for a moment, taking in the feel of her body pressed against his, and opened them again as he realised where they were; not in the forests of Caprica, leaves beneath them or straw itching at his skin, but back on Galactica.
And she was here, beside him in his rack.
She shifted against him, and he realised that she was awake.
"Hi," he said, as she opened her eyes. She smiled, and he leaned down to kiss her, remembering the feel of her lips on his, yesterday and all the times before. As she parted her lips to return the kiss, he moaned, rolling over to press her body beneath his. He could feel her breathe in sharply as he dropped his lips to her neck, and when she pushed him away, he stared down at her.
"What?" he asked quietly. He rolled over beside her again, and she smiled faintly in a way that was almost reassuring.
"They'll come for me," she said, and he frowned. "Now that they remember. They'll want to put me back in a cell."
He shook his head, even as he knew that she was right. "Maybe not," he said, trying to believe his own words. "You helped them. Maybe they'll see that you're not a threat."
"Maybe," she said, and he knew that neither of them really believed it.
"And maybe we should take advantage of the time we have left," he said, and leaned forward to kiss her again.
"Madam President," Adama said, as he entered her makeshift quarters. She looked up at him, a faint smile playing on her lips.
"Commander Adama," she said, and stood as he closed the hatch behind him. "It looks like we have our memories back."
"Yes, it does," he said. She motioned for him to sit. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm feeling fine," she said, sitting back down across from him. "Do we know of any side effects?"
"None so far," he said, and she nodded.
"Well, your pilots are to be congratulated. That was a very brave thing they did."
The image of Sharon Valerii's face crossed his mind briefly, standing in her Raptor with the recovered Cylon device, and he pushed it away.
"So what is our plan?"
He turned his attention back to the president. "I believe our plan is to locate the rest of the fleet as quickly as possible. I have Lieutenant Gaeta working on it now."
She nodded, and they sat in silence for a minute.
"If you're needed elsewhere ..." she offered, and he stood, more quickly than he had intended.
"I should probably return to the CIC," he agreed. "Madam President."
She smiled. "Why don't you call me Joan?"