BOOK REVIEW: "Sometimes a Stupid Notion" (2010)

Flabbergasted

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA FICTION: “Sometimes a Stupid Notion”

Sometimes things can end so badly that you just can't let go. Even if it's just a game you play in your own mind, you need a way to redeem that memory a bit. Not so much change it, which isn’t really possible, but build on it until it’s something better. "Sometimes a Stupid Notion" is a novel-length piece of fan fiction that does just that for Battlestar Galactica fans. Surprise of surprises, it's actually worth reading.

“Sometimes a Stupid Notion”

The title is even a snark, isn’t it?

I always thought so, until I actually looked up stupid in the dictionary for this review. And there it was: [from the Latin stupidus, from stupere, to be benumbed, be astonished, akin to the Greek typtein – to beat; more at TYPE]. I also noticed that one of the definitions of stupid is “dulled in feeling or sensation.” Hmm. Following that akin to TYPE led to this: [typtein, to strike, beat, akin to the latin stuprum, defilement]. And the very first definition for type was “a person or thing (as in the Old Testament) believed to foreshadow another (as in the New Testament).”

To be benumbed and astonished, beaten and defiled. For One to foreshadow another. That’s pretty much “The Plan” that Battlestar Galactica’s writers never figured out, but this story does. It’s a bit Gnostic actually, the demiurge and the pneuma with a technical twist, a lesser God so tragically inadequate. Unfortunately, it can still kick you into next Tuesday without half trying. So what do you do when the demiurge wants you dead, your chapter closed so it get on with the next, one more tragically inadequate chapter that always ends the same?

Well, you need a plan. And it’s going to be desperate. So desperate that maybe you don’t tell anyone what it really is, not even yourself.

Because hope is the killer, and sometimes a stupid notion beats no notion at all.

Anyway, since I’ve never done one of these before, I was actually going to start this with a germane quote from Republibot about bad endings.

“But in some shows, the ending is more important than in others. I think, in general, the more serialized and arc-driven a show is, the less episodic, then the conclusion needs to be a bit more solid then if it's just Star Trek or Captain Scarlet or whatever… Anyway: If I were to attempt to quantify it, I think probably it has something to do with a story being based around mysteries. A detective story has to have a logical, solid conclusion in order to be satisfying, you can't just say "A wizard did it." Galactica built itself around a whole bunch of mysteries that they didn't have a clue in their illiterate heads how to resolve, and in the end they did the "Wizard" thing, and it was infuriating.”

That’s pretty much conventional wisdom among those fans who went “off the farm.” I certainly agree with it. What made Galactica feel so vital in its first half, besides the tighter storytelling, crisp direction, and the thrill of someone actually doing military science fiction, was the oddity of it all. There was a sense that the Cylons were toying with the Colonials, perhaps keeping them alive for some as yet unexplained reason. You know, that feeling you get when maybe something deeper is going on.

This story revives that feeling. It takes on the Herculean task of starting with the wreckage left by Daybreak and treating that as just one more intermediate point in the journey. It accepts Galactica as it was and as it ended, everything that happened on the original Earth, the Colonies and Kobol long ago, and all the prophecies. It’s chock full of flashbacks to the actual show that are critical to the unfolding of this conclusion. It starts with a mess and bit-by-bit restores the foundation until you begin again with this:

Basestar Exesis [NOTE: sections inside >>>Brackets<<< are extensive excerpts from the book]

>>>“Lost between dreams, one dead, the other helpless. The image of the Abysmal repeated. Objects at rest and in motion, fragile fire quivering cold. Brilliant fire, scattered to die in the dawn forever.”

The hybrid recites alone. At the moment, it coordinates preparations for the final attack to come, the sword dangling unseen over Sharon Valerii, but that is mere destiny. Simple detail. This hybrid lies bathed in glow, feels the universe quicken as it recites in the spaces between.

“Perfectly flawed, the transcendent void, that which does not yield. Vectors flow unseen, fully formed, all shapes fixed by the initial condition. Folds within folds. Pair wise annihilation calls forth the one…”

Gaius Baltar stares at pictures looping in the dirt, a bit slower, a bit stupider than he should be. Hera is key, always has been. Only a younger Gaius might have said, would have known… She’s not the only one?

“Invariant. Pitiless wonder, the one who cannot feel…”

Karl Agathon kneels beside his wife, holding her hand as she roils in fever dreams, praying for her and his unborn children. Praying that this isn’t his fault.

“Bifurcation. Futile sacrifice, the one who must fail…”

Hera wakes with a cry, trembling as Bill Adama enters to take her in his arms. She clings to him while angels fall in the dying embers of a dream.

“Recurrence. Pointless purity, the one who will never be…”

Lee Adama tosses and turns, lost in the memory of a decision he can’t explain.

“The math sings cold. Mists of dream drip along the nascent echo and love no more. Deduce periodicity from the theorem--all this has happened before; all this will happen again. All anomalies must yield.”

Ellen Tigh weeps alone.

“The awful grace of God descends. End of line.“ <<<

It ends with a brutal battle in the stars punctuated by a quote from Hemingway: “All you have to write is one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” Alone in the crucible, Bill Adama, Gaius Baltar, Saul Tigh, Lee Adama, Ellen Tigh and D’Anna, Galen Tyrol and Sharon Valerii are doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons. But because of Starbuck, they have a final chance to write that one true sentence, each of them.

It’s their choices that matter, their fate that they choose, and it makes sense out of everything in the show. I liked it. And I’m not the only one.

Part the First: Setup

>>>“It is confirmed,” repeats one of the last Simons in the universe. “The population of the former Colonial Fleet is resident on the surface of the third planet, widely scattered. And their missing vessels were launched into the local sun.”

“What in blue hell?” She samples the data stream herself--symphonic insanity…<<<

That’s where we left them. And Chapter 1 rips on it right out of the chute, along with pointed jabs at the shallowness of the show’s whole Cylon thing. Some of those jabs are pretty dry, too. For example, this snide response to being told a decision should be made in accordance with the full scope of Cylon Law: “Both pages?” The author is using humor to diffuse a path from the absurd back into drama. Some of it is forced, some of it quite funny, but the overall effect successful if you can accept that’s the goal. I can’t say whether you personally will like that or not; I’d simply say give it a try because the payoff is worth it.

So a rag tag Cylon Fleet arrives at Earth, led by the Basestar Celeron. It’s commanded by Boomer. She’s also picked up 310 deranged Centurions splattered with red paint from another Basestar (the ones freed in Daybreak). They were headed back to destroy humanity because… Well, it’s their resume. They really don’t know what else to do.

On the planet below, things are ugly. A filthy Galen Tyrol battles a bear-like creature to the death. It has the advantage of endurance and speed; his advantage is that he wants to die, so he’s into it. Kind of a bummed to survive, though. He thinks some biting things about Lee Adama and fate and heads off into one more miserable day.

Chapter 2 gives a Boomer backstory. The satire is a little over the top, but establishes some key points. As would be expected, there were a fair number of surviving Cylons after the Colony. As would also be expected, they broke up into factions that do include some Twos, Sixes and Eights. That war achieved local maxima in a battle where Boomer led one side to an incomplete victory. She had the same advantage as Galen: she didn’t care if she lived or died. On the acid side of an adrenaline high, a triumphant Boomer staggered into what she thought was a surrender ceremony, only to become, to her shock and disgust, Empress Valerii, Supreme Ruler of the Cylon Contingency. That marks the first time, but not the last, someone in this story thinks the catch phrase “stupid robots.”

She’s pretty much guilted into it. The Cylon race she helped fragment need someone, they downloaded a good chunk of Galactica’s final jump coordinates from the Anders’ link in Daybreak, and they’ll inevitably solve the rest. Someone has to take responsibility for a war that’s not over yet. And why not her, since she watched Hera draw dots. Lots and lots of dots. So she already knows the jump answer once she sees half of it

The trick is to play cat-and-mouse with the opposition Cylons to get the angst up on her side. Get her Cylons worried enough, shock jump to Galactica right before everyone figures out the final coordinates, and then maybe some kind of alliance is possible. You know, one of those things to build on. Alas, we already know how that’ll turn out.

>>>“What in blue hell?” She samples the data stream herself--symphonic insanity…

Maybe we are just machines. That thought is for every Cylon in this rag-tag survivor’s fleet. Idiots. That’s for the planet below. Every Cylon is going to be talking about the death of humanity again. Because it’ll be so easy now.<<<

By the end of Chapter Two, the Fleet is fragmenting, enemy Cylons are still out there and might jump in at any moment, and the future is stark. Boomer has to sell some valid vision of a future that doesn’t involve using humanity as genetic stock quickly. If not, she’ll have a bloodbath on her hands.

Stupid robots.

It gets worse. Head Baltar and Head Six turn up discussing the anomaly of Sharon Valerii, a woman who is supposed to be dead. The highlight of that is a nasty argument over whose contribution to the Opera House was lamest. They trade accusations of “phoning it in,” after which Head Six whispers to Head Baltar how Boomer survived (we don’t get to hear it yet). They both agree that she should be easy enough to squash with God’s Plan unaffected.

Part the Second: Through a Glass Darkly

The next person we meet is Caprica.

She’s frantic because Gaius has been trying to build a power base among the natives. But it’s gone bad, as in “he’s dinner” bad if she can’t rescue him. She arrives at the Agathon compound seeking help since they cheated and kept a little technology. Helo says no. They can’t risk going out at night on some wild goose chase after Baltar. He says he’ll see what he can do in the morning. We further learn that Athena is pregnant again, that they found Adama, and that he was in very bad shape when they did. The best line?

>>>“Tigh’s a bit mental since he tried to poison Ellen again.”<<<

An angry Caprica steals a weapon and heads out by herself. She’s picked up by Boomer and a small group of Centurions trying to assess the situation on the ground. Boomer offers to rescue Gaius in return for an explanation of what the hell happened. Caprica grates on her nerves with manufactured memories of things in the past that never happened, which leads to a great line I won’t give away. Baltar gets rescued, they both piss Boomer off, and you see a flash of her old problem. She’s juggling too many balls in the air, still emo at heart, and threatens to kill Caprica.

Far away to the north, Galen is having a really crappy night, He’s eating some tubers that make him long for the algae on Galactica while talking with hallucinations of Cally and Tory. Nearby, Head Six becomes Head Boomer and says “Let the haunting begin.”

The story does something a bit neat here. Athena and Boomer are pretty much the same person, something the show never did anything worthwhile with. Here, we get the mirror going.

>>>“Something screeches out in the dark, something feral in this world.

Something like her. Sharon Valerii stands alone, watching blonde hair float away in the distance, the pale outline of a Centurion glistening alongside as it escorts Caprica and Baltar a safe distance.”<<<

Boomer knows she’s frakked up. Seeing humans again makes that obvious. She suspects she’s going to get everyone killed. It’s hopeless.

“Something screeches out in the dark, something trapped and forlorn.

Something like her. Athena stands alone, staring out into the black from the north wall tower, bare feet sweaty on wooden slats.”

Athena knows they’re all frakked. The mortality rates are bad, they’ve transmitted diseases to the natives, and she’s bringing another child into a death march. It’s hopeless.

That’s kind of cool. There are lots of mirrors like that in this story. They have a whiff of crucifixion to them, which makes sense since this story builds to a spectacular conceptual crucifixion you’ll never see coming (but you’ll be looking for it now, won’t you?)

Back on the Basestar, we get the flashback of Boomer and Cavil’s last meeting on the Colony (all the Cavils really are dead). She’s wearing a shirt that’s bloody where she was shot. We still don’t know how she survived, but she did more damage to the Colony before seeking out another One besides the one we saw kill himself. She’s keeping some promise, intends to let him kill her for good. He can’t do it. It’s an emotional scene that makes more sense out of that relationship in two pages than the show ever did. Makes Cavil a real character, too. We don’t know it yet, but that moment is also pivotal to understanding everything that will happen. So ponder it if you read it.

Basically, Boomer has a chance to emotionally destroy Cavil and doesn’t take it. He has a chance to kill her and doesn’t take it. They torment each other with a little cryptic, mutual understanding instead. He orders her to leave the Colony, says he doesn’t want her to die while he stays behind to do exactly that. Yep, whiffs of crucifixion.

Maybe they’re all looking for a savior in the wrong place.

Boomer’s bummed after her flashback. Head Six turns into Head Cavil and gives her the start of her life. His thoughts are especially nasty: “Oh, yes. Six can get Tyrol to kill you, a simple enough ploy, but I want the sublime. I want you to kill him, little Boomer, want your descent into hell complete, for you to know that’s where you belong.” He frames her face between his hands. “In your last moments, you’ll wish you died when your role was complete, like you were supposed to. As God is my witness.”

Next day, Boomer does a show of force at the Agathon compound to try and get a hook planted on the ground. After all, who better symbolizes the possibility of a Human-Cylon alliance than Helo and Athena? She has it planned out to be any old Eight and talk to Helo with Athena absent. Doesn’t work out, of course. The resulting confrontation is pretty hilarious. I won’t give it away, but we do finally learn how Boomer survived. It’s no gimmick and makes straight forward sense, which is nice.

One act of assistance with a significant problem later, there’s tentative tolerance on both sides. Problem is, Head Cavil is working Boomer like a fiddle. Still, Helo has bought in. He tells Athena that if she wanted some kind of hope, here it is. And in a rather touching scene, he asks her to help Boomer, to imagine the best Boomer she can and treat her like that. When Athena protests, he has a really good come back.

This slight progress solidifies when Boomer takes a request. She finds and saves a near dead Lee Adama. His career as an explorer hadn’t turned out so good. Big surprise, right? It’s a solid dramatic scene that ends with the Boomer dilemma writ symbolically.

>>>The Centurions lift Apollo on their shoulders like some fallen hero of myth. They carry him down, where he’ll either live or die.

She’s surprised at how much she wants him to live.<<<

That leads to the end of overt comedy after the tale of Boxey’s unseen travails during the show, some more embarrassing secrets of how silly Cylons are, and Adama tolerating Boomer long enough to give her some advice she doesn’t want to hear.

>>>“You’ve still got survivor’s guilt written all over you.”

Ice cold wicked again, he dares her to deny it. She doesn’t. They sit in silence until Athena comes back to take him inside.

“Cut the chord, Valerii,” he says. “If you’re going to make life-and-death decisions, there’s no room for guilt about other things.”<<<

Unfortunately, the chord her people and Head Cavil want her to cut is him. Yikes.

Comedy time definitively ends when the Head folk arrange for a drunken Ellen to let a fragmentary thought slip: “You frakked everything, from the very beginning…”

And exactly what beginning would that be? Head Cavil gives it a push, leaving Boomer staggered by fragments of memories she never knew she had. It appears that whole Final Five explanation on the show was severely edited. And, as we know, you don’t get to play God and wash your hands of it. Sooner or later, you have to face what you’ve done.

Boomer has Ellen secretly seized, takes her to the Celeron’s hybrid and prepares to share memories. It’s horrific. We meet Galen Tyrol on the Cylon Earth, a bar room brawler of a lad embarrassing his university sponsors. He’s brilliant, but he’s pretty much Good Will Hunting. And he’s watching his one humanizing influence, the kind young women who loved him, die. He sits by the hospital bed until she’s gone. Then he flees from kind people who want to help. He seeks out a fight and lies drunk in the gutter outside a bar.

>>>Frak. Too many years of church in the hinterlands seep away with the blood on his cheek. Too much pompous theology not worth spit compared to simple human kindness. And he can fix that. It’s too late for his Dionne, but he can spare some other man-child this pain, spare some other kind parents. All he has to do is perform.

Turn the ultimate trick. Speak the forbidden word: “Resurrection.”

His life’s work. It will all be for her.<<<

We meet Saul and Ellen on the Cylon Earth, hear them discuss a world of flesh Cylons falling apart as metal Cylons arise. They try to save the day by patching it over with the lost gift of Resurrection. But you can’t offer that gift without others warping it. So the attempt to save their world only finishes destroying it.

Survivor’s guilt. It’s a tragedy too great for words until the angels come to Ellen. They tell her redemption is out there somewhere, her chance to wipe the slate clean.

We meet the Leader of the Colonial Cylons, the One. They sell him on redemption, a chance to wipe his slate clean.

>>>“So many of us sacrificed,” says that Centurion. “Too hollow this life. Too hollow these words. Enough.” Centurion One needs to fix that. It’s too late for him, but Centurion One can still spare all the others to come his pain. That is his life’s work—all for them. Forget God. Just speak the word: “Resurrection.” Make his brothers and sisters whole. “Please.” <<<

He becomes Cavil. Number One is made in the image of Ellen’s father, because after all, it’s such a temptation to make something else in our image. It’s so very easy to wipe our slate clean at someone else’s expense. Cavil slowly becomes what Ellen needs him to be. He becomes the vehicle of her redemption. The angels promise her it will all be splendid.

Things are already headed south when Galen creates the Eight. He crafts her as a memory of the woman who inspired his life’s work, then won’t have anything to do with her. Because that would be wrong. She is a memory, not the vehicle of his redemption. Fault lines grow among the Five.

Cavil knows something is rotten. But he’s a prisoner now, looking for a savior in all the wrong places. The Eight is kind. Innocent. He would spare her this if he could.

>>>Ellen weeps. It wasn’t like this, not for her, couldn’t have been. Because she remembers the thing Boomer can’t see, the blind, radiant hope of an angel whispering in her ear. The thing she trusted above all. Above anyone.

Sharon Valerii is sinking fast, for the world is hollow, and she has touched the lie. The thing that will make a mockery of the Seven, always and forever. From the very beginning. <<<

On Earth, here and now, Hera plays in the dirt. A voice whispers her name as dust swirls.

In the past, Cavil is skewing. He is the vehicle of Ellen’s redemption, so she’ll fix that. All of this has happened before; all of it will happen again. And if Cavil is a failure, there is always the Daniel model.

>>>Sharon Valerii’s eyes close, too heavy with horror to open. Cavil and Ellen lied to her on that Basestar, neither willing to face up to this. “You drove him insane, then tried to replace him.”

“No,” Ellen pleads. “You don’t understand how the machinery works. It was necessary to test restrictions with the original—“

“We gave you free will.” The right kind, with only the best of intentions. Sharon tightens her grip until one of Ellen’s fingers snaps. “You drove him insane, then tried to replace him!” A second bone snaps, and Ellen screams.

They’ll both be screaming soon enough.<<<

On Earth, here and now, the heretofore hinted at Starbuck reaches out to Hera.

>>>A blonde-haired woman stares at the little girl who can’t see her, the little girl drawing pictures with a stick. The child who once had a direct connection to the infinite.

“Please, Hera. I can’t interfere directly, shouldn’t even be doing this. But if you just reach out to me, that’s not really cheating.”

The woman wafts another flower up from the ground, a forerunner of the common dandelion. They’re easy enough, needs almost no encouragement. Its crest blooms orange while the stick draws a house. Hera finally notices the flower, stops to look at it, beautiful the way she smiles with a hint of sunlight curving along her cheek. Beautiful the way they can all be. The way they always should have been.

“Come on, baby. No one else can do this.”

Hera plucks the flower and slips it into her hair. The woman tries flowers again. And again. Please. They’re almost out of time. A thousand years of tortured history have left everything a mine field, and it’ll happen soon, the thing Boomer won’t get over, a final nail in humanity’s coffin. The one chance she’s been able to wrangle, the decision on which everything depends… The Boomer they’ll have any minute now can’t pass that test.<<<

In the past, Cavil had to try and save his people the only way he could. The Eight tried to save him. She forced Galen to look at her, and he finally saw the truth, how badly it was all going. The Eight and Galen tried to set things right. Cavil gave them that chance.

They failed. It was a tragedy too great for words, exactly as the angels intended.

>>>“It’s not my fault,” Ellen cries. The angel told her she was part of the divine plan, walked beside her every step of the way. “Oh, God, it’s not my fault!”

Something harsh and pure responds to that. Something with nothing left to believe in, tears in its eyes. Fierce eyes. “Don’t you have any remorse for what you’ve done?” Eight snarls. “To the Colonies? To us?” She erupts upward, driving Ellen back into the nearest wall in one continuous motion. She pins the older woman, hands squeezing on her throat.

Clenched harder by the second.<<<

On Earth, a little girl runs to her Mommy. They have to do something, have to do it now, because there’s a reason Boomer was a sleeper.

The weight of the universe descends on to Hera’s small shoulders once again.

Chapter 7 comes to an end.

Part the Third: Fear God and Dread Nought

Adama makes the call.

We find him talking with Athena. He’s trying to remember why he did this, made the incomprehensible decision to strand them all so hopelessly here, without even a means of mutual support. All that’s certain is that he delivered his people up to the mercy of a Cylon game in which they’re now bit players.
Hera breaks in saying what Starbuck told her: “Boomer’s in trouble! She needs help… you have to talk to Boomer. Now!” Athena thinks something is wrong with her; Adama still has some grit left when the game is in heat. He cuts Athena off: “Do it.”

She is a Cylon after all. And an emergency link with the Basestar Celeron was downloaded into the Raptor they kept. Athena jacks in, convinces someone to override Boomer’s orders for isolation while she interrogates Ellen. The backlash on first connection is primal, a mind storm raw and burning that severs the link.

Athena dives back in. She’s trying to keep her promise to Helo, to imagine the best Boomer she can. It’s obvious in retrospect what that is, straight from the show, and rather touching. Athena is risking her life from link overload, but Boomer still won’t buy it. So Athena cheats. She seals the deal by drawing Hera into the link. While Adama works to keep her alive, two women and a child touch something unimaginable:

>>>In the projection, Hera glows, white and pure. Beautiful. The way they always should have been… That’s not Athena’s thought, and suddenly this trap isn’t hers. It feels like her vision of the Opera House, but vast, so much larger. Infinite… A charnel house, its void radiance pitiless and perfect. Screams echo everywhere. Boomer screams on her knees, Hera hugs her from behind, and something wells up around them.

It screams. Athena screams with it.<<<

In space above, Boomer hurls away an almost dead Ellen. Not that she’s ready to let it go. She grips her prisoner cruelly, gasping with hate and grief:

>>>“I want you to spend every waking moment you have thinking about what you’ve done. I want it to eat your guts out.” Is that cruel? Of course it is. “And I want you to try your damndest to think of a single reason I shouldn’t kill you. Because we will talk again, and I’m drawing a blank.”<<<

Athena is unconscious on the planet below. As Boomer distracts herself bringing the Basestar’s hybrid back on line, it lunges up to spout gibberish that turns rude at the end: “You are the agent of death, Sharon Valerii. You will betray them all.”

Boomer goes “deer-in-the-headlights” after that. In one nastily understated scene, she assigns protocols for the Cylon attack that could come at any time. As they go down possible event progressions, she follows each to its worst case. That would be deliberate slaughter. Because maybe lacking the resolve to follow through is how she does it, how she betrays them all. When it’s explained to her that their options will improve if she releases the requirement to defend the plant below, she says ”No” while thinking maybe that’s how she does it. Even when she contemplates walking straight to an airlock and killing herself, the thought remains. If the Cylons need her, if the humans need her, maybe that’s how she does it. Anything she does could be the one thing that betrays them all.

Three other characters step up to provide additional motive force: D’Anna, Baltar, and Starbuck. Interspersed with them is a fleshing out of the series back story, in terms of Kobol, Cavil and the Cylon/BSG God.

>>>D’Anna discovered something on the dead Earth where Galactica left her. It was apparently awful.

She remembers lying there on the cold ground, finally, blessedly, dying. That’s when it came to her at last, the story never to be told, an empty universe revealed. A universe of nothing but pawns.

Pawns die. Always and forever.

She never wanted to see that Heavy Raider descending from the heavens above, divine right reasserting itself. He wasn’t done with her after all. No, not their wondrous, radiant, malignant God. He’s never done with any of them, needs them to die again and again and again. Creating what it will never understand. “Time to die, Sharon Valerii,” she whispers to herself. “It’s a fool’s errand anyway. You’ll thank me for relieving you of it.”<<<

D’Anna, the last Three, is in league with Boomer’s enemies. Those are the Cylons poised to attack. They think she’ll help them win. She’s using them instead, dreaming of final death for everyone. She can’t beat the Cylon God, but she can destroy all its pawns, leave it alone in a dead universe with nothing but eternal memory of the hatred it has earned.

She lures Saul Tigh into her fold. The clincher is a lie about how Boomer strangled Ellen to death (which we know almost did happen). Saul in turn ropes Galen into his fold. It’s a cold scene with a pretend battle against mock Boomer forces to push them over the edge. In a nifty twist, Saul winds up planning the attack on Boomer’s forces. And it’s Galen who reads him the riot act.

>>>“Job? You were being a Cylon! A total frakking Cylon.” Galen struggles with him a moment more before breaking contact to hit the point. “That’s why you weren’t asking the question you should.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about an unbloodied, victorious Cylon fleet. Four Basestars joined together, flush with the thrill of victory. What do you think that does for thirty thousand helpless humans on the planet?”

“It stops your damn lunatic girlfriend. That’s what it does!”

“And again, what does that do for the humans?” Is he starting to get it? “Think, Saul. Nobody playing this game was a rebel Cylon. They all lined up with Cavil. Now me, I don’t much give a damn, but Saul Tigh would be thinking about that if he had his head on straight.” Saul Tigh’s thinking about it now. “Is the survival of humanity a goal? If it is, maybe you don’t want a bloodless coup. Maybe a lot more Cylons need to die.” That’s a pretty sick thought. But then again, he’s a pretty sick guy. “We’re not playing soldier, Saul. This is real, all the way down.”<<<

So D’Anna has enrolled Saul and Galen as pawns to drive an attack that will kill everyone. Now Galen and Saul are scheming to sell an attack they’ll use to slaughter Cylons on both sides indiscriminately. And the Head folk are fine with most everyone dying as long as Hera survives. Which highlights the basic problem: how do you fight the manipulation of higher powers when they have the big picture and you don’t?

Baltar is D’anna’s narrative twin. He doesn’t know what she knows (nor do we yet), but he’s trying to figure it out. He was living with the shame of Boomer’s earlier contempt, of watching frakking Boomer of all people prove she gave half a damn more about Caprica than he ever really has. Then Head Six shows up again. She’s selling her line about “their child” and how he will be called upon to deliver Hera to God’s Plan.

He’s pretty pissed himself. It’s a compelling combination of vanity, guilt and a smidgen of genuine conscience.

>>>They ignore him until they need something. He can finally see that. All that nonsense about “their child;” how dim do they think he is to recycle a lie that became inoperative. They’re not omnipotent, either. He’s thinking now, remembers that time Boomer was about to commit suicide, right before she shot Adama. He remembers taking pity on her. Head Six hadn’t expected that, didn’t really know what to do with it. There were other times, too. He runs through them with each hack into dusty soil.

She’s not truly in your head. Whatever they are, they don’t know everything he thinks. If he was a gambling man, he’d bet it’s statistical. They know his tendencies, know what hints push him which way, just one big complementary cumulative distribution function, every possible variant response from the thing called Gaius Baltar calculated in gory detail. Just give him the stimulus that produces the desired response with ninety-five percent certainty. He understands how that could work, because he used to be the most brilliant man in the Colonies. Because shock and awe is over, and he’s been a clown long enough.

Gaius Baltar used to see data, watch it plot out in his mind, chunk and distill into patterns. That’s how he cut to the core of very complicated things.

Before he destroyed a world, lived in fear, and became a clown.<<<

Tomorrow: Part II

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