the real kwon (bookelfe) wrote,
the real kwon
bookelfe

I have not actually started on my Yuletide fic yet; this is because I swore to myself I would finish the last fic I was working on first, which has been stalled forever and ever because I kind of hate it. This is that finally-finished fic - a long, introspective and disorganized Battlestar Galactica fic, entirely Tory-centric. The problems with this are manifold, namely, 1.) I suck at writing dark and introspective stories; 2.) I suspect that the people other than me who are interested in reading long, dark and introspective Tory fic number approximately 0; 3.) everything that I wanted to say in the fic could probably have been better said as a piece of character-analysis meta, because there is nothing new in it, only perspective on events that happened in the series. But it came out as a fic anyways.

Basically, I have always liked Tory and I hate the places her character arc went. I felt the need to write this to try and make it comprehensible. Spoilers through to the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica.


Step One: You must begin as a human being. Otherwise, the exercise is pointless and this program is probably not for you.

You have a name. Your name is Tory Foster. You have a job. You are a Presidential aide. To the rest of humanity (what little there is of it) your definition is comprised of these two facts. You have not particularly wanted all your life to associate with the great and powerful, and this job does not fulfill your ambitions, your hopes and dreams. However, there are not a vast number of positions available for someone with your education and abilities in this blank space of blank survivors, and so when you become aware of a vacancy, you apply. You do not particularly want to be a presidential aide – you do not want to be Billy Keikaya, perennially bumbling, much-mourned – but you want to be useful.

Your job is not a future. There is no such thing as a future anymore. There are useful survivors, and there are survivors that are not useful. All you have to do is look at the scorn in the eyes of the soldiers to understand this. If you wish to be a useful survivor, you work for the military, or you work for the President, or you know slightly more than basic first aid. If you work in a factory, you are useful, but only as much so as a cog or a gear, and you are doubtful that this truly counts as making an individual contribution to society. Many people who want to be useful join the ever-growing cadre of reporters. Your scorn for these people is accompanied by, but not tempered with, understanding. They like to imagine that they are serving the people, but they are in fact simply attempting to bury their suspicions that they are a waste of space and resources. Until you become a presidential aide, you, too, are a waste of space in the Colonial fleet.

Your job allows you to make a contribution to the survival of humanity, but you are not your job. You go home to the twelve-foot-square space that is allotted for your own individual use every night and reread the books you have acquired from the impromptu lending library of torrid romance novels making the rounds of the fleet. Occasionally you attempt to achieve your own torrid romance; this rarely ends well, but does provide a kind of entertainment. You try and teach yourself, between the cramped walls of your small box of space, all of the things that you never got around to learning: advanced biology, mythological theory. You are bounded in a nutshell. It could be worse.

Step Two: This program is psychologically challenging and emotionally difficult, but we are dedicated to making it as easy for you as possible. Therefore, this step is something that should be simple for you to complete if you are in any kind of professionally subordinate position: become an addendum. Seeing your individuality as inessential is the first step towards shedding it.

Laura Roslin needs your help. She is a woman who has been ill, a woman who is all too aware that she may die, and she needs eyes and ears and hands for the moments when hers fail her. You gradually begin to grasp that it is your job to become these things for her.

(Billy Keikaya did not act as Laura Roslin’s eyes, or ears, or hands, or any other visible and connected part of the failing machine that is the Presidential body. He performed other necessary roles: chosen successor, non-biological son, voice of conscience. He was not only allowed, but expected to rebel and refuse. Neither you nor Laura Roslin wishes for you to become Billy Keikaya.)

It is your job to act as an extension of the Presidential will. It is not your job to say no. At first this is not easy. You admire Laura Roslin a great deal, but you had not thought to pay such a high price to be useful. It is not that you wish to become Laura Roslin’s conscience – in your admiration, you believe that her conscience is perfectly functional and well-fitted to her role – but you would prefer to be slightly more than a set of detachable healthy body parts. Anyone could fill that role. Tory Foster is unnecessary.

You are not supposed to say no. Simply as a change, at first, an exercise of pure will, you start to wonder about saying yes. Not only to Laura Roslin, yes, but yes to the things that make Laura Roslin turn the eyes under her own smooth forehead down to the hands attached to her own careful wrists and folded in her lap. You cannot walk away from the President like Billy Keikaya did, any more than those hands could detach themselves from her wrists and spider off to stage a protest – but you can extend her grasp, you can take her places she is not able to go, for her own good and for the good of the people. You are not her chosen successor, but you are her contingency plan. She does not need a conscience, but she needs you.

After you come to this realization, something settles in you. You are no longer simply a gear in a political engine; you have the power to change its direction. You are, you think, self-mocking, a Mover and a Shaker. You roll your eyes at yourself in the mirror for this thought as you carefully spray and tame your hair into the style that you know will look most professional on the octagonal screens. It satisfies you all the same.

The Presidential election, the failed election, is your test. You do not loathe Gaius Baltar in the way that Laura Roslin does – not yet – but you can see quite clearly that he would make a very bad president. He will quite likely do many things worse than what you do in trying to be useful, in trying to keep a good President in place.

You feel some guilt for your crime. You try very hard to feel guilt only for your failure.

You are not your job. This is proven: you walk away from being a Presidential aide and leave nothing of yourself behind. It does not occur to you to walk away from Laura Roslin; it would strike you as a nearly physical impossibility.

Much later, after everything, after New Caprica and the re-election and your great failure and countless other upheavals to your world, Laura Roslin turns to you and asks you to serve as her eyes and hands. You cannot believe that she has not noticed before now what she has been demanding of you, what you have given her, all along.

Step Three: Use your surroundings to help you. Find people who will act towards you as if you are not human. This will provide you with encouraging examples of the way to treat yourself.

So: you are useful, you are important. You are indispensable to Laura Roslin, whom you believe is indispensable to future of humanity, whether or not the present of humanity realizes it at any given time. You are not like the rest of the survivors, the ones who huddle in the corridors and fill their limited world with petty complaints, making it even smaller than it has to be. You understand the bigger picture and you have a purpose.

Obviously this makes the shift all the more unpalatable when you take the shuttle from your job, where you are important, to your home, where you are Tory Foster. These are both acceptable states, but in between you are forced into a reliance on the pilots that pushes you up once more against one of the least pleasant aspects of existence in the Colonial Fleet.

Sometimes they attempt to flirt. Sometimes they catcall, or make remarks under their breath about politicians inevitably frakking things up. Sometimes they are perfectly polite. You are very well aware that whatever the difference in surface manner, underneath they all see you the same way. They are the ones who are saving this fleet; they are putting their lives at risk for you, every day; the government that gives your survival purpose is nothing but an obstacle to their continued heroics. As a civilian, you are something to be saved, which means you are something to be put out of the way. Alternately you are something to frak.

(None of them look like you. There are not many people in the fleet who look like you, which means that if humanity has a future, there will not be many people in that future who look like you. Sometimes your lovers say how beautiful your skin is. They use words like coffee and olive. You do not say, ‘olives are green,’ ‘only very weak coffee is light brown’; you thank them sometimes, trying to be polite, and other times you say nothing. It seems unlikely that coffee and olives will exist in the future, either.)

You meet Sam Anders in the resistance on New Caprica, after his wife disappears. Sam Anders knows about violence, but he was never officially in the military; he was a minor sports celebrity, and a more frivolous thing you can hardly imagine. In any case you are all technically on the same footing now. The military and politics have failed equally to save humanity. You are all civilians, and you are all fighters – all of you who count. Nonetheless, you see how Sam Anders is accepted, how he becomes, to them, the pilots and the ex-military, a person. You do not become a person. You think perhaps it is because you have been in politics, or because your acts in the resistance are not active enough. Your resistance is not enough like a war.

You are so tired of soldiers. You are tired of soldiers seeing you as useless, and you are tired, so tired, of soldiers saving the day.

Sam Anders is the first soldier, the first pilot, that you go to bed with. As you disentangle your limbs from his, you wonder with a kind of detached curiosity how he will look at you now, whether frakking you has made you real to him. He was not always a soldier, and perhaps that will mean something. But he is not a civilian anymore; he is still in love with Kara Thrace, who was a pilot, who was more alive than anyone, who is dead; he does not speak to you, and you put your clothes on and leave.

Step Four: Make sure that you leave yourself with no support system. Nobody understands how you feel; you have no role models and no one you can trust with your emotional weaknesses. If it seems that you are likely to forget this crucial fact, repeat it as a mantra several times a day, or put it on a recording and listen during your commute.

Having frakked Sam Anders once, there seems to be no reason not to do it again.

After the second time, you realize that he is stoppered up with guilt – not on your behalf, but on behalf of his dead wife. He feels – of course – that he is betraying her. This is nearly inevitable under the circumstances and you wonder how you did not see it before. Your knowledge that your shared nocturnal activities contribute to his self-hatred is the reason that you come back a third time and a fourth. You are aware of the pettiness of your satisfaction, but all the same it still feels somehow like justice. It puts the two of you on a more even plane.

You stop frakking him after you learn what the music means, because it allows you to explain to yourself why you frakked him in the first place. Two Cylons, drawn together, not knowing what you were or what was happening to you: of course you had chemistry. Of course there was a spark. These phrases, comfortable romantic clichés, ring with a newfound literality in your ears. There was a natural connection, you think, and imagine the flecks of light that dance of the edge of a plug as it fits into a socket.

Sam Anders is a Cylon, not a soldier – a Cylon and a soldier – but you say Cylon, think Cylon when you look at him, and it is a weight off your shoulders. You take more time with your hair in the mornings again, brushing it out as carefully as if it were Laura Roslin’s. You perform your tasks, useful tasks, with briskness and efficiency. You are all the more useful for your knowledge of the fact that you are not required to serve. You could be humanity’s enemy. That role might even be your destiny, a destiny which you are conscientiously defying. You heard Saul Tigh reject that destiny and you were moved, as you are, still, sometimes, when Laura Roslin speaks and you hear truth in what she says. Saul Tigh’s words had the ring of heroism about them. Though you are no officer, you feel that in following that path in your own way you become heroic too.

You feel this way until precisely the moment that Saul Tigh – who is a Cylon and an officer, whose guidance you are following, who is a hero – suggests in no subtle terms that your body is the tool to be used to get information out of Gaius Baltar. Gaius Baltar, who is the opposite of what you are, who is a human who could not think of anything to do for humanity except hand it over to the enemy. Gaius Baltar. The lowest creature in the fleet. Laura Roslin’s antithesis, whom you gave up your political integrity to defeat, and did so without (you think) a qualm. And this is the way that Saul Tigh thinks you are to be useful. This is the service you can provide to your people.

You are shocked, but, you realize, not surprised by this. Nor are you surprised that neither of the other two says a word in protest. You always understood that they thought this way. If you forgot in the sudden wonder of unity then that is nobody’s fault but your own. Though you are all in the same awful and marvelous position, though you all attend the same top-secret meetings in your hypothetical treehouse, you are still to these soldiers nothing more than you ever were. In point of fact you are less. No longer a remnant of humanity, you are no longer something to save.

In your room, you think about heroism and you laugh.

Afterwards, in Gaius Baltar’s bed, you cry. You are very emotional these days.

Step Five: Use what you have learned from the previous steps to lose as much respect for yourself as you can. Having too much respect for your human body and identity is a terrible setback for the aspiring ex-human.

You count the day that the Cylons destroyed your world as the worst day of your life. Every surviving member of the human race would say the same; it is a constant of the species.

It is not, however, the day that almost breaks you. That dubious honor goes to the day of your greatest failure, which incidentally happens to be the day that humanity triumphantly breaks free of its Cylon shackles and escapes back into the heavens.

It is not that the stakes that day were the highest you have ever played for. You are certainly not one hundred percent convinced of the cosmic importance of Sharon and Helo’s child. The important thing is that Laura Roslin does believe this, believes that protecting that child is the most important task that she has to perform on this day, and she entrusts that task to you. And you fail in this. You fail her and you fail yourself, and though you are not sure where the defining line between those two phrases falls anymore, in this particular case the effect on you is the same regardless. You can see Laura Roslin retract as you tell her, looking, you think, as someone might look were they to be humbly informed that their foot was losing the battle with gangrene and would have to be removed. Looking as someone might look, were they to be told that their body was losing the fight with cancer.

(The near-total destruction of humanity was vast and terrible, this is true, but you had nothing to do with that. The world ended, but you were who you always were.)

Obviously the general rejoicing at the success of the army and of the Resistance does not help with your feelings of inadequacy.

Laura Roslin forgives you, but you are almost entirely sure that the reason for this is because she is perfectly well aware that you will not. Of course you will keep a close watch on yourself; of course you will withhold trust from yourself. It is your job to do the things that Laura Roslin does not want to do. So: you do not forgive yourself your failure, which by lucky chance did not turn out to be the failure of your species but might very well have been. You do not forget and you believe that you never will. This is another point in which you are everything that Gaius Baltar is not.

When you go down to speak to Gaius Baltar – not to frak him, you think at the time, but to charm him and find out what he knows, to do the dirty work for the rest of your small Cylon collective as you do the dirty work for Laura Roslin – you find yourself enthralled by the sheer unbelievable fact of his continued existence. To the naked eye, Gaius Baltar has never felt a moment’s guilt in his life. He sold out humanity and went on to campaign for his own innocence. He was proclaimed innocent. That he can live with this seems incredible to you. That he can apparently believe it enough to found a cult around himself is nothing short of miraculous. You tell him precisely this, in polite political double-speak that is calculated to make him believe that you are open for potential conversion. You intend, of course, nothing of the kind.

Gaius Baltar, spoken to up close and without the presence of your greater and Presidential self, is a twitchy little man who talks into space and stares at your breasts. At one point, thousands of people took him seriously enough to elect him as their President. Now hundreds have elected him their prophet. As he babbles into the ether, you stare at him and disbelieve until he starts to speak about music.

The idea that Baltar might be a Cylon is not a new idea, but it hits you now with twice the plausibility and three times the force. There would be no reason for this man to feel guilt if his actions had not been betrayals. The bizarre magnetism that seems to have gained him followers might even have a scientific cause, a chemical mystique or robotic brainwashing technique; there are so many things you do not know about who you are and what you can do. All the pieces would fit, and the four of you – this Cylon body politic – would be five, and a whole.

The idea makes things work. It makes sense. It makes Baltar far more interesting, although no more personally appealing. You go to a room with him alone, intending to encourage him to believe in your veracity and then plead an appointment for a graceful exit. He makes mournful adolescent eyes at you and mouths a request for permission, but his hands are already unbuttoning your blouse as if he has a right to it, and then his fingers are on your skin; his hands are not clammy although you feel that they ought to be. Your disgust fills but does not overwhelm you.

Plugs and sparks, you think. If he is a Cylon then this is natural, and having gone this far, there seems to be no reason not to continue.

Gaius Baltar is not a Cylon. You become completely, blackly, hilariously convinced of this as he rolls over; you think you may laugh. He is not a Cylon, and he knows nothing, and there is no sense to any of it. You are relieved when you find yourself crying instead of laughing. It is easier to explain away. You lie to Gaius Baltar with the blank-faced expertise that is your political trademark. (Laura Roslin lies with a polite and terrifying half-smile that you have practiced in the mirror but cannot convincingly pull off.) Baltar pats your shoulder and tries awkwardly to comfort you, and it would be endearing if he were not the great betrayer of humanity and you had not just handed him the very last of yourself.

You feel as if you have lost the integrity of your form; you are falling to pieces.


Step Six: Now that you have given up self-respect, you may think that you will have to cope with feelings of self-loathing and guilt. Not so! Rather, use your understanding of how unpleasant these feelings are as your impetus to abandon guilt entirely. Pursue this step assiduously; guilt is what holds you to humanity’s common codes.

There is nothing to do from here. There is only this truth: Gaius Baltar is a human being who has made the worst mistakes a human can, and lives with himself now in what appears to be peaceful harmony. You have failed to discover any logical reason for this and, though it is difficult to prove a negative, you must in the end conclude that one does not exist.

You lack the energy to continue imposing moral judgments on yourself when the universe has apparently abandoned them.

At first you form a vague resolve to simply forgive yourself your trespasses, but this turns out to be harder than it sounds. You are a politician. You have a long memory and a short tolerance threshold and you are very much out of practice with forgiving anyone. It is far simpler, once you have been to one of Baltar’s strange cult therapy sessions and heard his message, to turn aside from the path of forgiveness altogether and take the shorter road: that there never was anything to forgive. “You are perfect, just as you are,” Baltar says. Gaius Baltar is about as far away from transcendent perfection as anyone could imagine; the doctrine sounds almost unbelievably absurd coming from this strange little man with the unflattering hair, but now you understand that therein lies the appeal.

If Gaius Baltar can accept himself as perfect, so can anyone. Certainly so can you, beautiful functional machine that you are.

Accepting yourself as perfect saves you vast amounts of time and effort. Even if there were nothing else, this new efficiency would prove to you that you were right to embrace Baltar’s philosophy as you have done. You make a decision and you act on it and you move on to the next. You have banished introspection and frustration. As your confidence grows, you think to yourself that you were wrong about Laura Roslin and forgiveness; this, this state of perfection, must be what she has wanted from you all along. She did not hire you to be a conscience and she did not hire you to hesitate. She hired you to think and to act for her, and so this is what you do.

You envision your trains of thought pushing aside all the leftover mental clutter from your imperfect human days and creating clean tracks along straight lines to their destination. Cause --> effect, goal --> achievement, problem --> solution. Everything fits together so smoothly, gear enmeshed in gear. If everyone felt the way you do now surely the fleet would run with more precision, surely humanity would have a better chance at survival. You wish that you could say something to Laura Roslin. You wish that you could share this with her. On the surface there is not so very much difference between your current state and hers – nothing is allowed to stand between Laura Roslin and the solutions she sees to humanity’s problems – but you know better than anyone the kind of guilt that she feels, because it has been on occasion your job to bear it for her.

But you have never been in the habit of sharing your feelings with Laura Roslin and your rebirth as a newly rational human being is not enough to change that. In any case, she would never admit to having any commonality with Gaius Baltar. The bare fact of having shared the Presidency with him is nearly as much as she can tolerate.

For the first time in your life you find yourself pitying her.

Step Seven: Now that you have moved beyond the necessity of guilt, it should be easy to jettison morality entirely. Try committing a serious crime – let’s say a murder. If you find that you are having difficulty completing it, go back and work on the first six steps.

Cally Tyrol is a problem.

Even aside from the fact that she has penetrated your collective secret, she is a problem. She is depressive, codependent, paranoid, and a murderess – although, to be fair, there are very few people in the fleet these days who are not one or more of the above. Still, Cally takes all of these traits to distasteful extremes, and, more criminally, she seems to have no self-awareness about any of them. In times past, this meant you would have looked at her and felt scorn, irritation, maybe anger, but you have grown since then. Now you can look at her and think: Cally Tyrol, you are perfect, just as you are. With perfect calmness you think this, in the same beat as your train of thought ticks to its destination and you recognize that in order for the four of you to be safe Cally Tyrol will certainly have to die.

(An inconceivably long time ago, you and Cally Henderson had both been active in the book-lending underground that traded romance novels around the fleet. You had never spoken with her, but you were traded a book once that had her name written inside the front cover. She had underlined passages throughout the text – moments of high sentiment mixed with lines of dialogue or description that had clearly struck her as funny. These days you have difficulty imagining her laughing without a nascent hysterical sob in her throat, but once she must have been able to do so.)

You have run into Galen Tyrol at a bar and you are talking the same nothing the five of you always talk – this feels different but that is the same, we can do this and we shouldn’t do that, we are human, we are Cylon, does anything matter, nothing does – and your hand is on his elbow, not because you intend to frak him (though it would not matter these days whether you did, one way and another) and not, of course, because you wish to use your body to make him uncomfortable in a subtle kind of revenge for his easy acceptance of its use as a tool (you have moved beyond such pettiness, you are sure of it) but because it is natural, two Cylons, closer kin to each other than to anyone else in the room. Of course it is also natural for Cally not to see it in this way. But her inability to respect boundary lines, the way she shouts and cries and waves her miracle child around like a bargaining piece, marks her as a problem. This is where the train of thought starts.

“Now I’ve heard everything,” Tigh says. “Anders and friggin’ Gaius Baltar, that’s just what we need, another Cylon nymphomaniac,” and you don’t tell him you were only following orders, sir – although you could, you understand this is what passes for sarcasm in the military and it has the additional benefit of being entirely true – but if you have moved beyond pettiness you ought also to be beyond this kind of blatant revenge. Just days ago the injustice of this remark would have made you tamp down your scream deep inside and plaster it over with brittle politeness. Now you simply assure him that he is not your type, your attempt at a dark and unnerving smile halfhearted because the same train of thought is still chugging smoothly along in your head. At the bar you could see in Cally unpleasant signs of obsession. Chief is admitting that the note arranging the Cylon meeting is in a place where Cally might find it. Hera, the first half-Cylon child, needed to be taken away and protected, for her own safety and for Laura Roslin’s and quite possibly for humanity’s as well. You failed at protecting that child.

There is a panel propped against the bulkhead outside the room where you meet, leaving an opening small enough for a petite woman to crawl through. And listen.

Surely this clarity, this ability to see the inevitable confluence of events, is not human. Did your thoughts always work this way? How did you never notice before?

You do not need to follow Cally Tyrol to know where she will be. It is another inevitability. The airlock is Laura Roslin’s preferred method of murder. For all the things you have done for Laura Roslin, you have never murdered for her before; she always did that particular task for herself. Cally Tyrol has murdered, too. They both killed things like you in their own defense. You bear them no grudge for it.

“Cally,” you say, and you look at her, really look at her, and see that she is perfect just the way she is.

Her obvious neuroses will make what is necessary so simple.

She shouts accusations at you – some truth, some lies – and you give her the truth back as best you can, because she deserves it as much as anyone does. “We’re not evil,” you say, and you are fairly sure this is true, if only because you no longer believe in any such thing as evil. “We’re not inhuman,” you say, which you still believe. “We’re just as scared and confused as you,” you say, which was at least true for a while, though it is becoming less and less true for you by the day.

Cally weeps and lets you take the child from her arms – cause to effect – and you knock her down as you have been planning for the last fifteen minutes – goal to achievement – and then go outside and push the button.

The problem is taken care of, and the child is safe.

If your hands shake very slightly, afterwards – if you go to your room and lock the door and sit on your bed and do not move for a very long time, very much like a switched-off machine except for the small fact that a switched-off machine does not shake – it means little. (You felt worse, you think, after frakking Baltar, and look how that turned out.) You did what Laura Roslin has done half a dozen times before. You saved at least one all-important life and quite possibly four others, one of which, incidentally, is your own, but this is not the point. The point is that you have done what was necessary. You have performed your duty.

You are perfect just as you are.

Step Eight: If you have been following all the steps of this program, then that should have been easier than you expected – take that as an encouraging sign. If you have any remaining ties to other human beings, it’s time to sever them. You’re almost ready to break free.

It is inevitable that Laura Roslin will eventually learn of your relationship with Gaius Baltar. You have been telling yourself this for so long that you have forgotten to genuinely anticipate it; you have almost forgotten that she does not know already, that it is not simply one of the many tacit conspiracies that the bind the two of you together.

You have almost forgotten that there are now secrets between you as well as secrets you share against the world, and when she makes a remark in a voice of dangerous calm you are almost lulled into complacency. Another woman might have been. You know Laura Roslin more than well enough to recognize that polite offhandedness as one of the lesser weapons in her vast conversational arsenal. You can recognize clearly the warning signs of heavy missile deployment, but instead of preparing and arming yourself in return you sit there stunned like a deer caught in a Cylon centurion’s scan-light as she takes aim. These weapons have never before been aimed at you like this, not even at the times of your great failures. Whatever else you might say about Laura Roslin’s ethics, she does her best to be fair to her allies. She saves the most calculated of her verbal knives for her enemies.

And what does that make you now?

You have not anticipated this. You have been her aide – more than her aide, more than a set of paid eyes and ears, you have been attached to her in infinitely more than the professional sense for what seems like an entire lifetime – and you have always believed that she trusts you. It seems impossible that she could choose to shatter that bond based on a frak – on such a small thing as that. (You have forgotten how recently you considered Gaius Baltar to be all that was anathema to you; you have done your level best to extinguish the memory of your disgust along with your guilt.)

You mean to be strong, to be dignified, but you find instead that you are crying. You are not thinking about the last time you shed tears, and what broke then, and what is breaking now.

Laura Roslin is not crying and will never cry in front of you again. You have forfeited that level of privilege.

She does not give you a chance to explain. You will spend more time thinking about this later, but for now you are too busy looking helplessly on as Laura Roslin very precisely readjusts her way of seeing you. It is really very deft, how she downgrades you from ally to enemy to tool in a single sentence: “Clearly my friendship and trust mean frak,” she says, and gives you your marching orders to get information out of Baltar – “And I don’t really care if you have to spend the night on your knees praying, or just on your knees, I want a name.”

It hits you like a blow as always, the strongest blow yet but a familiar one all the same, and as always your first thought is that it is ridiculous that you are surprised. You have always been a body to Laura Roslin. The difference now is that you are no longer a valued body, a trusted body, but a body corrupted and without worth. A body without anyone inside worth worrying about. As far as Laura Roslin is concerned. But she governs a community of limited resources; even a corrupted body, a worthless and untrustworthy body, is useful for at least one thing.

Playing this conversation back in your head for the twentieth or thirtieth time, you find that you have been laboring under a large number of illusions. You have, for example, believed that your evident loyalty and affection for Laura Roslin would count for something when the truth finally emerged about your Cylon identity. In the light of recent events, this is obviously untrue. You must conclude that there is not the least chance that she would ever have hesitated in sending you out the airlock. Before, she would probably have found it painful – like amputating an infected toe, perhaps – but Laura Roslin has never shrunk from the painful.

You are not and have never been indispensable, and you should have recognized this, but you have been blinded. For a very long time now you have allowed Laura Roslin to take root inside you and use you as she saw fit. Your great mistake was in forgetting that this was not an equal exchange. In the process of making room for Laura Roslin you displaced pieces of Tory Foster, pieces that had nowhere else to go and have thus been lost. Now she has severed your connection, withdrawn herself back into herself, and you are half-hollow.

What are you left with? Your own urge to be useful to humanity as yourself, you decide, is gone; you gradually replaced it with Roslin’s and now that is gone as well. Your connections to others have lapsed. You have not had the time to read a book for pleasure since leaving New Caprica. You never intended for your job to become your life, and yet somehow without looking you let nearly every part of your life that was unconnected with Colonial One slip away.

There is little that is left of you that you can identify as belonging purely to Tory Foster. There is: Baltar, who tells you that you are perfect, and have always been. And God, who may have made you that way. And your identity as a Cylon, which Laura Roslin never knew about, and has therefore never touched.

Of course, Baltar now belongs to Roslin, too; she gave you a duty. Now he is no longer your lover, but a task that you are bound to perform. (Your need to fulfill your duty may be another thing that is left to you and that has always been yours, but you are not certain that this is a benefit. On the other hand, perhaps it is something mechanical. Machines perform their functions until they break down.)

God, meanwhile, is uncertain and far away, and not to be relied upon.

If God exists, as Baltar says, then he gave you one gift and that was yourself.

Step Nine: Nothing is left to hold you to humanity – not others, not yourself. Psychologically you have already reached the post-human phase. However, when surrounded by the press of humanity, it is regrettably easy to backslide. You should therefore take steps to remove yourself physically as well as psychologically.

It is lucky for you that Laura Roslin vanishes onto the Baseship very shortly after your discussion with her. If you faced her again, spoke with her, told her that you had retrieved the information from Baltar as she asked and proved your loyalty for the hundred and first time, then anything might have happened. She might have forgiven you. You might have forgiven her. Although these options seem unlikely on the surface, you are both so accustomed to the link between you that it might have slipped back without you even noticing. The spaces inside you would have been filled with Laura Roslin once again; you would have had no chance to fill them with yourself.

It is very fortunate for you that none of this has the chance to happen, before the Three comes – D’Anna comes – you do not know how she should be addressed, or would wish to be; this is one of the things you will learn about yourself and your people – and drops opportunity into your lap.

From then it is so easy it is hardly a choice at all. You have been human, and you succeeded in giving humanity nothing more than humanity succeeded in giving you. You have never been a Cylon, not completely, because you did not know how to be one. If you go to your people now, they can bring you knowledge to repair the lasting cracks in your identity. You want to learn how to be the best Cylon that you possibly can be. You do not anticipate that you will find this very difficult. You have always been a quick study.


You no longer wish to serve humanity. You think that your duty might be to serve your people.

You also have a duty to Laura Roslin, of course; you have not yet had a chance to tender your resignation. But there, too, your purposes align, events once again converging towards the inevitable. You bring the medicine to Laura Roslin not (you assure yourself) because your hands and feet remember their accustomed patterns, and not simply as an excuse to board the Baseship either, but because it is your professional duty. You have always done your duty towards her. It is important to you, still, that she understand that, even after you leave her service. Especially after you leave her service.

You are not joining the Cylons to teach her a lesson, or because she lashed out at you. You are leaving for your own sake, as you are leaving humanity, and although leaving Laura Roslin is perhaps an even more drastic step in the end it has nothing to do with her.

Your decision fills you with a rush of wholeness, of liberation; you can see exactly how it will be, and you ride the rush all the way to the Basestar, through the room full of your kindred, and straight until you come face-to-face with Laura Roslin.

(Gaius Baltar is there too. You hardly notice him.)

“Madame President,” you say, and you hold your head high and you speak with great calm and dignity, but inside you you feel everything you thought you had let go about being human and imperfect – pettiness, anger, guilt – come boiling up once again.

It takes Roslin far too long to realize that you are one of the Five; she should be quicker than this. “You had no idea,” you say, and you hear the bitter triumph in your tone. “Might be worth pondering what else you’ve been wrong about.” It comes out before you can catch it.

“Tory, wait,” Laura says. “You’re right. I’m wrong. Okay.”

Almost it could be called funny; at the very least it is intensely ironic. After all your striving, you seem to have become Billy Keikaya after all.

Though it is not difficult to keep the mask on your face – you had, after all, the best teacher imaginable – you are recoiling inwardly. This is not how you meant it to go. This is not about your feelings of betrayal, which are foolish and imperfect and therefore should not exist. This is not about Laura Roslin.


Except it is, it seems, and always was.

And she knows that. She knows that and she is trying to use you, again, the same way she always has. If you stay here and listen you will let her and you will never, ever be yourself again.

“I’m done taking orders from you,” you say, and you leave, faster than dignity allows. Those should have been the most important words you have ever spoken. Like everything else about you, they are hollow.

Step Ten: Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of this program – but you can’t kick back, relax, and enjoy your dissociation from all human values and ideals just yet. There’s one last step. Unfortunately, it’s one you’ll have to keep up for the rest of your life.

Don’t look back.


You walk into the Cylon command base with your head held high.

As you sit down, you try your hardest to banish all thoughts of Laura Roslin, although the political information about the Fleet that you are using to inform your decisions you learned from her; although the very fact that the Cylons will listen to you as one of the Final Five you learned from her as well. Similarly, you resolutely avoid thinking about Cally Tyrol, although the rest of the Final Five are standing in the same airlock out of which you sent her flying hardly any time ago at all.

You had forgotten just how unpleasant these feelings of uncertainty are.

You remind yourself of what is important. What is important: that you are not there with them, your body once again being used as a bargaining chip. What is important: that you are here now, attempting, in whatever small way you can, to be yourself.

You tell yourself this, but the real difficulty is that you seem to have stopped being able to know or understand yourself at all, and what is there to rely on in that?

(It is a shame, really, that you never managed to get around to learning how to forgive yourself.)
Tags: battlestar galactica, fic
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  • (no subject)

    Last night I went to Zoolights with genarti and jinian. This is an recurring holiday season event during which a local zoo gets itself…

  • (no subject)

    I wrote two Utena fics for Parallels this year. The reason for this is that the inevitable finally happened and I was assigned to write for…

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    I was supposed to do five favorite anime/manga for cinaed on the 14th, a full week behind on my December meme posts! I am shamed. :( ALSO this…

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  • (no subject)

    Last night I went to Zoolights with genarti and jinian. This is an recurring holiday season event during which a local zoo gets itself…

  • (no subject)

    I wrote two Utena fics for Parallels this year. The reason for this is that the inevitable finally happened and I was assigned to write for…

  • (no subject)

    I was supposed to do five favorite anime/manga for cinaed on the 14th, a full week behind on my December meme posts! I am shamed. :( ALSO this…