Laura Roslin is having the strangest feeling of déjà vu.
She is standing in the middle of a field, and there is a collection of what appear to be obelisks encircling her. There is a firm wind wafting her long brown hair, and she looks down to see that she is wearing a nightgown. This is rather odd, since she is the president of the Twelve Colonies and is not one to go wandering about in her sleepwear under any circumstances.
She is not in pain. This is no small thing to her, for there has been a long period of her life where she literally forgot what it was like not to be aching. It is a terrible thing to have one’s body turn against one. Yes, if one is attentive enough, one can sense the everyday aches and pains as one’s body dies, molecule by molecule, over the standard wear and tear of its lifetime. But what Laura has been experiencing is hardly anything that is remotely typical for a body’s daily wear. This has been her body in open revolt, as if she had somehow been inconsiderate of its needs or harsh in her dealings with it.
What anger, what venom there must be, for a body to feel that the soul of the person inhabiting it must be punished in the way her body was punishing her. Constant agony as uncontrolled cell replication literally ate her breasts alive. She wondered every so often—not true, she wondered all the time—what in the world she ever did to deserve this. Did it attack her breasts as a symbolic message that she had been a bad woman? Did it attack her at all as a specific message that she had led a bad life? Certainly there must have been some sort of reason. It wasn’t possible that the gods could be so randomly cruel.
Perhaps they could. After all, look at the millions upon millions of people who had died thanks to the Cylon attack. What had humans ever done to deserve that?
Well . . . there are possible explanations for that, aren’t there. Explanations she does not like to dwell upon, since they do not exactly cast humanity in the best light.
Better to enjoy the here and now of where she is . . . wherever that may be.
Yes . . . yes, she recognizes it now. It is strange that she would have forgotten it, or had the slightest unfamiliarity with it, even for an instant.
She is on Kobol, the birthplace of humanity. Kobol, the home of the temple of Athena, which is destined to guide them to their goal: the planet Earth, their salvation, a haven from the Cylons that pursue them.
Except she is not on Kobol . . . not exactly. It is difficult to determine whether she is on Kobol, but that which surrounds her is an illusion . . . or if she has somehow been miraculously transported, through means she could not begin to guess, to the destination she has been seeking. Be it illusion or miracle, either way the result is the same: She is standing on the planet Earth. She and the others have . . .
She looks around and says, “Where are the others?” Her mouth moves, but no sound is emerging. She cannot determine whether she has been struck dumb or if she has suddenly gone deaf. Even if she did know which condition had afflicted her—or rather, which additional affliction she had just acquired—it would not have answered the question as to where the others had gotten off to.
Commander William Adama had been there. Yes, that’s right, this had already happened. She had been there and Bill Adama had been right nearby, which was fortunate since a pragmatist such as he might well not have believed it if it had merely been described to him. He would have had to see it for himself. But now, faced with the indisputable reality of ancient prophecy given form, he stared in wonderment at the skies, at the constellations that gave crucial clues to the way home. For the scriptures had said specifically that when the thirteenth tribe landed on Earth, they looked up in the heavens and saw their twelve brothers. This, right here, is (was) the ultimate religious experience and leap of faith for one as rooted in matters of military necessity as the commander of the last of the Battlestars.
With him was his son, Lee Adama, a Viper pilot who went by the name “Apollo.” Lee, who had become an advisor to her on military matters, and had a relationship with his father that was, to say the least, complicated. Also present was Kara Thrace, another Viper pilot who had served under Lee. She was nicknamed “Starbuck,” and it was she who had recovered the sacred arrow of Apollo, the relic which has made this amazing journey possible.
They are all there.
They are not.
They should be there, and Laura Roslin should be dressed in normal civilian clothes. But they are not there, and Laura remains in her nightgown and is alone.
She does not know how this could possibly be. Has she somehow made a return to Kobol for some additional knowledge of Earth? But when did this happen? She doesn’t remember experiencing any sort of adventure that would have brought her to this pass. She racks her brain, thinking and thinking, and suddenly she laughs (still with no sound emerging). Obvious. So obvious. She has no recollection of anything that brought her here because nothing happened to bring her. She is dreaming. Yes. So simple, oh so simple. She is dreaming, reliving that amazing moment without any of her companions.
Again, though . . . why? Well, at least this wasn’t something over which one could question the motivations of the gods. This was a product of the sleeping mind, and certainly no one could hope to comprehend whatever scenarios the sleeping mind might throw together.
She finds it curious, though, as if she’s watching from outside herself. Typically one doesn’t realize one is dreaming while it’s happening. She would think that the sudden comprehension would be enough to kick her out of the dream entirely. But it does not. It seems to be of no relevance whether she understands or not. Rather it’s as if she is a spectator at some sort of film that will be unspooled if she is watching or no.
The obelisks. She remembers them so clearly, constructs of abstract faith brought to rock-hard reality. Each made of stone, each one bearing an engraving of one of the symbols of the Twelve Colonies, studded with jewels that are twinkling in the night. Each of the symbols representing the colonies back when they were called by their original names: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and so on. They ring the perimeter of the meadow where Laura is standing, as the stars of home beckon to her above, pointing the way to their destination.
Except . . . she has already been here. Why is she here again? The vagaries of dreams, certainly, but . . .
Something doesn’t look right. Something is different from the last time.
It takes her long moments to notice something on one of the obelisks that was not there before. Some sort of darkness, dripping from the pointed arrow, nocked into the bow of Sagittarius the archer.
Laura Roslin approaches it slowly, the hem of her nightgown swirling around her legs. She reaches out toward the dark stain on the Sagittarius obelisk and touches it tentatively with one extended finger. She looks at her hand closely, rubbing her fingers together to get a feel of the liquid’s consistency.
The color is red, dark red.
The liquid is blood.
Sagittarius is bleeding.
Uncaring of what it will do to the fabric, Laura uses the sleeve of her nightgown to wipe the blood away. It’s gone for only a moment, and then wells back up. Blood is dripping steadily from the arrow, and then she notices that the twins, Gemini, are bleeding from their chests as if they’ve been wounded. She takes a step toward them, and then her head snaps around as Aquarius, the water bearer, sees the water in the top of his jug transform to blood as well.
She cries out in alarm without hearing her voice doing so, and starts to back up, putting one hand to her chest. It’s on fire once more. She calls for help, but none hear, including herself. They’re all bleeding now, blood seeping from the edges of the engravings. The stones are all running red with blood. She looks and sees that there is blood on her hands as well, and she’s not sure if it’s there because she was touching the bleeding obelisks and got some on her, or if it started generating there spontaneously.
And then, slowly, Sagittarius starts to fall forward. It is coming right toward her, and she backs up even further. It seems to be growing, casting a vast shadow over her, and she is running and running and it is becoming impossibly larger and longer, as if it is growing for the specific purpose of catching up with her. Laura Roslin throws herself forward in a desperate effort to escape, and is rewarded with hearing the obelisk thud to the ground behind her. It is the only noise she has heard in this eerie silence.
She rolls over onto her back, clutching her chest and watching in goggle-eyed amazement as, one after the next, each of the obelisks collapses. They fall upon each other from all angles, ponderously slow, and the ground beneath her trembles every time another one collapses. Within moments they are piled up, a stack of stones like so many cards. Then great cracks start appearing in them, as if in delayed reaction to their crashing one atop the other. They begin to break apart, slowly first and then faster and faster, and the chunks in turn transform into dust. A strong wind picks up and, minutes later, the obelisks representing the Twelve Colonies have completely blown away, traveling in different directions and scattering to the four winds.
Laura Roslin is alone.
She wants so much to cry, to sob deeply over what she has just seen. But Laura has always prided herself on her strength, and tears will not—never do—serve any purpose. She creeps forward on her hands and knees, for she does not feel as if she has the strength to stand. There are some small piles of dust and rubble still there, and she picks one up. She stares at it for a long moment, and then allows it to slip through her fingers. The granules twinkle like stars as they fall through.
She remembers stars twinkling. She has become deeply nostalgic for that. When she was at home and looked at the stars in the sky, naturally they twinkled as their light passed through the atmosphere.
Now when she looks out the window of her ship, Colonial One, the stars never twinkle.
It is the little things you miss. The little things that pile up on you, one by one, until you are crushed beneath their weight.
Crushed. Beneath weight.
Laura’s head whips around. There is something behind her, something she was unaware of until just this second.
There is a thirteenth obelisk. It is right behind her, falling toward her.
There is a carving upon it. It almost looks like a cross of some kind, but it is upside down and it is not quite a cross. She realizes what it is: a crude representation of a war hammer.
That is all she has time to notice before the obelisk slams upon her and she lets out a scream, and this one she hears because
Laura Roslin screamed.
She sat up in bed in her room, gasping for air, her nightgown plastered to her skin, and she swore she could hear her own outcry echoing in her ears. Her breath came in ragged gasps, and her hair was hanging down and blocking her eyes. She shoved it out of her face, fully expecting to see crumbled obelisks everywhere, but there was nothing except the darkness of her own bed chamber. That, and a loud thumping which she first mistook for the pounding of her heart, but then she slowly realized was someone thudding the door with his fist. “His” was an easy deduction to make because she heard the alarmed voice of her aide, Billy Keikeya, shouting, “Madame President! What’s wrong! Are you under attack? Should I call the—”
Her voice sounded slightly raspy as she spoke, and she realized she’d irritated her vocal cords when she’d screamed. Plus she was still gasping for breath, so she sounded as if she’d been running a marathon as she called back, “It’s all right, Billy. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.”
“No one’s holding you at gunpoint?”
“No. No one is.”
There was a pause, and then from the other side of the door Billy said, “With all respect, Madame President, if someone were holding you at gunpoint, they could be making you say that.”
Despite the circumstances . . . despite the horrific images that were as vivid to her waking mind as her sleeping one . . . she smiled slightly. “Damn, Billy. You’re too clever by half.” Even as she spoke, she slipped her feet out from under the covers, lowered them to the floor, got up and walked over to the closet. She pulled her robe on and continued, “It’s all right, come in.”
“Are you decent?”
Now she actually laughed. “No, I’m stark naked and have three lovers in here. Come on in and join the party.”
There was a slightly audible gulp. “You know, out here is actually perfectly all right if—”
“Billy, I’m alone, I’m decent, come in and put your mind at ease.”
The door opened and a very tentative Keikeya poked his head in, squinting and trying to make out shapes in the darkness. “Ah. All right. So . . . no security breach here, then . . .”
“None whatsoever.” She paused and tilted her head in a slightly quizzical fashion. “How did you hear me?”
“I said,” she repeated patiently, “how did you hear me?”
“Well . . . you screamed, and it was fairly loud, so . . .”
“Yes, I understand that part,” she said. “But it’s not as if your quarters are right next door. And the walls are fairly soundproof.” Her eyes narrowed. “You don’t have a listening device in here or something, do you . . . ?”
“No, ma’am, of course not.” Billy was fully dressed, save that he wasn’t wearing a necktie. His hand automatically smoothed down the nonexistent tie. “I just don’t require all that much sleep. Three, four hours and I’m good as new.”
“That’s impressive,” said Laura. “But it doesn’t really answer my question. What, are you lurking outside my door all night?”
“Not . . . lurking exactly.”
“Then what exactly? Billy . . . ?”
He rolled his eyes and leaned back against the wall. “It’s just . . . you’ve been through a lot, Madame President. Being thrust into the presidency, being arrested, fighting cancer, winning . . . I mean, gods, that was like a miracle being handed to you.”
“A miracle that could benefit a lot more people than me, Billy,” she reminded him. “The blood resulting from Shar . . . from the lieutena . . .” She paused and then said, “. . . from the Cylon’s pregnancy has astounding healing properties”
She felt a bit guilty, tripping over her referring to Sharon Valerii, the Viper pilot nicknamed “Boomer.” A woman who had, several times, served as a source of salvation for Galactica and the struggling remnants of humanity . . . but whose home consisted of a prison cell because she could never, ever be trusted. Because she was the enemy. Because she was a Cylon. But fetal blood culled from the . . . the whatever-it-was that was gestating in her stomach . . . had sent Laura’s cancer into complete remission. To say nothing of the fact that Sharon’s cooperation with Galactica command had staved off the Cylons on at least one occasion. Laura felt as if she should be thankful. She felt as if they should be rewarding Sharon Valerii somehow. Give her a medal of honor, a congratulatory basket of something, anything.
Instead she sat in her cell and her baby—which Laura Roslin had been ready to order aborted—continued to grow in her belly, and Laura still struggled with the idea of thinking of Sharon as anything other than a thing. A thing to which the last survivors of the human race in general, and Laura Roslin in particular, owed their lives. Hardly the gratitude one would expect for someone who had done so much.
Well . . . she’d been allowed to keep her child, at least for the time being. Considering a creature who had looked like Sharon—who had been her—had gunned down Commander William Adama at point-blank range, perhaps that was as much generosity as one could possibly anticipate.
Her mind was drifting. It annoyed her. She preferred to stay on track in all her dealings. “So anyway . . . what’s your point, Billy?”
“The point is, I just feel as if anything could go wrong at any time. And if that happens, someone should be on top of it.”
“So you . . . what? Wander the halls and check on me? Listen for any signs of distress? Drop by every hour?”
He winced as if caught out in some dirty little secret. “More like every half hour.”
She stared at him in the dimness of her quarters, her eyes round in surprise. Then she waggled her finger, indicating that he should come near. He did so, his face a question, and she pulled his head forward and kissed him gently on the top of it. “You,” she said, “are a very sweet man. If Dualla lets you slip through her fingers, she would be a foolish young woman, mark my words.”
“Ma’am . . .”
“Listen to me, Billy,” and she rested her hands on his shoulders. “You’ll do me no good if you worry yourself into exhaustion. At least now I understand why it looks like you’re fighting to stay awake during press conferences. You need more than three hours’ sleep, and not getting it because you’re literally wandering the halls watching out for me is unacceptable.”
“Un . . . acceptable,” she repeated firmly. “Besides, I have security personnel who are on duty.”
“Which, under ordinary circumstances, would be perfectly fine,” said Billy. “But these are dangerous times, Madame President, and besides, we never know who might be a Cylon and who might not be. So I figure that the more eyes watching out for things, the better.”
“Mm-hmm. And what if you’re a Cylon, Billy?” He started to laugh, but she continued, “After all, supposedly Valerii didn’t know of her own nature for the longest time. How do you know you aren’t actually patrolling the halls, waiting for the perfect time to do mischief?”
He stared at her, no longer laughing. “You want me to get more sleep and then you tell me something guaranteed to keep me awake all night? Besides, Doctor Baltar’s Cylon detection test confirmed I was human. Unless,” he suddenly said, “Doctor Baltar is also a Cylon, or under Cylon influence, in which case—”
Laura sighed. “Good night, Billy. Get more sleep and stop worrying about me. That’s a presidential directive.”
“Yes, ma’am. Thank you, Madame President.” He bowed ever so slightly, which naturally wasn’t remotely necessary but he likely couldn’t help it, and started to exit her chambers. Then he paused, turned and asked, “By the way . . . why did you scream, Madame President?”
“Nothing. It was nothing. I had a bad dream.”
“About this conversation and its refusal to end. Good night, William,” she said with a touch of pointed formality.
Taking the hint, Billy said, “Good night, ma’am,” and exited, closing the door behind himself.
Shaking her head, Laura sent the lights back from dim to darkness, removed her robe, and climbed back into bed.
And there she lay, for hour after hour, her mind suddenly alive with concerns. Concerns over the dream, concerns over everyone and his brother being a Cylon. She remembered a conversation she’d once had with Adama in which she’d said, “If you’re a Cylon, I’d like to know.” To which Adama had quite accurately replied, “If I’m a Cylon, you’re really screwed.”
She was convinced by now that Adama was not a Cylon.
But as she recalled the bleeding archer, the precursor of their own colony of Sagittaron—and the subsequent collapsing of all the obelisks, which had a symbolism that even a blind man could have seen—she wasn’t entirely convinced that they weren’t still really screwed.
Copyright © 2006 by Universal Studios Licensing LLLP. Battlestar Galactica © USA Cable Entertainment LLC. Licensed by Universal Studios Licensing LLLP