Battlestar Galactica

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The Girl On The Pale Horse


THEN SHALL THE MAIDENS REJOICE AT THE DANCE
(Take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them.)

The Six shoves Jean's shoulder softly, as she passes, as they work. She eventually stops, leaning back against the hatch frame on the Raptor, and stares at Barolay, shaking. "What the hell are you looking at?" The Six isn't sure. Her breath stops in her throat; she remembers it like a scar.

"I know you. You were on New Caprica. You were part of the Resistance. You killed me. Watched me drown, kicking and thrashing like I was some kind of an insect."

But that was war, and you survived, and it was long ago. Jean misjudges the gravity of the situation, thinks it's a conversation. Thinks this is an alliance. They're all the same, after all: they look the same, they smell the same. They don't hold grudges, they're eternal. When you kill them, they don't really die. So how can they take it seriously? It's easy not to; it was even easier, down on New Caprica, or back in the Caprica haze. They never died. Their pain doesn't signify, because there's no associated mortality; there's no justifiable reason to compare human death and Cylon. Divide one by infinity, that's how much death matters to a toaster. Cut off a head and a thousand grow back. Drop an egg, you reach for another.

"Well, be happy to put you down again," Jean says lightly. Not meant to enrage, not meant to be anything but the boy or girl directly across the court, with Caprica Six high above, drinking in the sound and glory of the crowd. Just shit-talking. I killed you once before, when it was just a game. On Galactica we have a tradition called the Dance. There's a lot of frustration aboard warships. Arguments become grudges, then end up being feuds. The Dance allows them to let off some steam, out in the open, so everybody can participate. Rank doesn't matter. As long as you throw your tags in the box, everyone's fair game.

But it did hurt, it was still death. She crossed the river, alone for the first moment since her birth, in the darkness. The most terrifying moment of her immortal life. The same day a very pale doctor told Laura Roslin that her days were numbered, humanity was destroyed: does that make cancer less painful, or frightening, or ugly? There is no relativity to apocalypse. The Six, irritated, back there now, drowning in sewage, punches Jean Barolay in the face. The only human aboard half-rises, and Six slams her head against the hatch frame, half-awake to herself, to her strength; like sleep-addled Galen on the deck floor, watching his fists rise and fall.

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Battlestar Galactica

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