Title: Deus Ex Machina
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 20 December 2006
Fandom/s: Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek: Voyager
Summary: Laura Roslin gets a dose of reality.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW06
Disclaimer: "Battlestar Galactica," the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Ron Moore, David Eick, SciFi, R&D TV, Sky TV, and USA Cable Entertainment LLC. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "Battlestar Galactica," SciFi, or any representatives of the actors whose characters are involved.
Dedication: To radak, who gave me the ideas to this piece. Thank you also for all the icons and wallpapers. To selenay_x, for being wonderful. You're the best beta there is, coping with my unusual schedules and very impromptu emails.
"Deus Ex Machina"
"Madam President! Madam President!"
Laura Roslin could feel the backside of her aides press into her as people tried to get a statement. She allowed the burly guards to carve a path through the reporters. One of her aides shoved a pesky cameraman aside like a sack of potatoes, going so far as to quash his hand into a reporter's face. Not that these rabid media men seemed to care, as their attention remained riveted on Laura's face.
"Is it true?" one managed to ask, his microphone so close to her that she could feel herself bristle at the man's rudeness. "You've caught another Cylon in the Fleet?"
"I'd like to remain quiet on that issue," Laura said, smiling sweetly. "But yes. We've caught a new Cylon model."
The crowd burst into words, shouts, and endless questioning. One corporal from Adama's complement grabbed her arm and pushed her unceremoniously through a door.
Huffing, she straightened her suit and stared at the woman on the chair, noticing that Bill's quarters was hardly the place to be interrogating anybody.
"So," she started. "I didn't expect our guest to be here. I thought this was a private meeting?" She waved a hand to dismiss her people. They filed out the door, their faces blank as reporters tried to peek beyond their shoulders.
Bill Adama acknowledged his President with a nod, keeping his distance from the chair where the Cylon sat, its blue eyes impenetrable and cold -like the monster it was. Its hands were tied behind her. Though the voluptuous figure was something to behold, Laura kept her appreciation on a strictly cerebral level.
After all, the Gina copies had been seductresses of the most skillful sort.
"No matter," Laura continued. "Has she provided you with information?"
"Nothing conclusive. She claims she isn't Cylon and says she doesn't know what Cylons are."
"Interesting. A sleeper agent?" Laura walked around the model, noticing that those blue eyes followed her with renewed curiosity. "Has Cottle examined her?"
"Why do you not address me yourself?" the Cylon asked.
Laura cocked an eyebrow. "It speaks. Yes, well, we don't bother to ask you because you obviously can't provide us with anything useful."
"I know that I am not these Cylons you speak of." She didn't look too vehement about it; her responses were too cold. Oh no, not convincing at all.
"Have Cottle test her."
"I don't see the point. Her implants…"
"Admiral, I don't want this to be a witch-hunt and if the media finds out we didn't go through 'due process', it would be my ass inasmuch as yours. Please have Doctor Cottle examine her and see what these…" Laura pointed to the metal on the woman's brow, a piece of medal that was wedged to the right side of her face. The woman seemed hesitant to be touched and Laura lowered her hands. "And have him tell us what those are."
"She has a name," Bill added.
"Oh really now?" Laura smiled indulgently at their prisoner. "Tell me, how shall we call you?"
"Seven. Seven of Nine."
"Oh." Laura looked at Bill. "Isn't that surprising."
"She's Cylon, I tell you."
"So, you're new here?" Starbuck asked. She took the pilot's arm, pulling him down the ladder.
The man did not bother to salute her or dismount. "Yes. Just came in from one of the other ships."
"Do you even know how to pilot that thing?"
He grinned boastfully, patting the Viper and brandishing his hand over its christened name. It said 'Lana' in big, red letters. "Kat was a good teacher."
Starbuck didn't know how Kat managed to teach someone as cocky as this fellow. It had taken her a while to get used to the fact that the Kat had been CAG -was still CAG -and received enough playful respect from her crew to merit her promotion; Kat, who managed to outgun her the first few months of exodus from New Caprica.
That her best pilot played well with everyone, including the most unmanageable of pilots, was a testament to her people skills. Or lack thereof. So Kara shrugged and let go of the fellow's suit.
"Good hunting, Lieutenant Paris."
The man-boy saluted. "Same to you, Lieutenant Thrace."
Just as the ground grew was closing his cockpit, Kara called, "And Lieutenant?"
"There will be a dispatch briefing after your patrol. You'll be in charge of the contingent for a new prisoner."
Paris didn't look as enthusiastic about that as flying. "Yes, sir."
"They captured her."
"Not good." Chakotay threw the mop he'd been holding for the past eight hours. Being part of the cleaning crew was one of the many ploys they had devised to keep a close eye on the Galactica's senior crew.
Kathryn began to massage her temples, pulling at her laboratory uniform as Tuvok -minus his Vulcan ears and his tacky haircut -laid out the entirety of the situation.
"They found her accessing a main terminal at the third deck and -suspecting that she may be Cylon…"
"There's a lot of paranoia going around as it is," Chakotay spat. "And I doubt Seven likes being tied up and imprisoned, no matter what program…
"Chakotay," Kathryn warned. She gestured for Tuvok to continue.
The Vulcan said, "…and suspecting she may be Cylon, decided to do a full scan on her. They found her prosthetics, and have long stripped her of her disguised. She is now confined to section D, deck B and they will be moving her to the brig with a full security complement. B'elanna reports that Seven was last seen at the Admiral's quarters." Tuvok continued, gesturing to Kathryn, "Captain. They will certainly come to you and Dr. Cottle's lab to glean if their prisoner is truly a Cylon model."
"So they won't just burn her on the stake."
Tuvok said, "Of course not, Commander. President Roslin may be a tyrant in some accounts but she is just."
"I wouldn't be too sure of that," Kathryn told him. She stood up, went to the door and took a peek. "I'll see what I can do at the labs and then we meet again at twenty-three hundred hours."
Kathryn Janeway was walking towards sickbay when a throng of people, cameras shuttering and microphones flailing, barged into her and pushed her out to the walls of the hallway. She frowned, unused to being shuttled so brashly by a mob when -at the moment she chose to look up and say something -she witnessed the eye of the storm. It was President Laura Roslin managing the chaos with a less-than-happy staff.
It was just a bit of eye contact, and Kathryn was aware of how insignificant she was when Roslin raised her hand and the crowd went silent.
"I'm not going to be making any conclusive statements right now," the President said. Her gaze remained fixed on Kathryn's and Kathryn felt slightly warmer than she had before. "But her blood samples have been taken and I'll keep you up to speed when we have any more news."
The crowd burst into questions. Laura Roslin cocked her head at her silent witness as though in inquiry; Kathryn moved away and took the corridor to the lab, unaware that Laura Roslin had followed her with her gaze.
"Dr. Cottle," she greeted. She shut the door behind her.
"Ah, Kathryn," the doctor said. He spoke past the lit cigarette in his mouth, bellowing smoke into the lab and into Kathryn's disapproving face. "Just in time. They dropped some samples for us to look over." He put a finger on the touch-screen and shades of green slid through. "Well…not very Cylon eh?"
"A bit." Dr. Cottle picked up the slide and inserted it into a microscope. He activated another display. "Take a look."
Kathryn wasn't surprised with what he showed her but she affected a tone of confusion. "There are nano-probes in her blood."
"Nothing synthetic in her genetic make-up. Just little machines." He puffed and shook his head. "She's definitely human but she has machine-parts; a cyborg in a very loose sense but not a Cylon clone. As for her being a Cylon model, this…" He waved his hand at the slide. "…is something entirely new. I couldn't determine if they were manufactured by humans but I can honestly tell you that this nano-probe business isn't something that's been published in any of the Colonies' medical journals."
Kathryn knew they were Borg; she took a peek at the microscope and made bewildered sounds.
"Well," Cottle said, stretching his back. "Enough of that. The President and the Admiral should be by in…" The hatch to the laboratory made a noise. "Just about now."
The President stepped through, accompanied by the grim eventuality of Bill Adama, who lent the room gravity, business, and the weight of Galactica's purpose.
"Play time's over," Cottle whispered. He nodded towards the ship's commander. "Admiral."
"Well, sir. Here are my findings." And Cottle proceeded to explain what he just discovered as President Roslin looked on with interest and computed the casualties of this particular mistake.
At least, that's what Kathryn would have done in her place. Accosting the wrong person had long term effects for a politician. She saw Roslin blow through her lips, standing straight as though dazed.
"But we can't actually say she is not a Cylon." It wasn't a question and Kathryn felt her stomach tighten.
"Madame President, her implants help her function but even without them, she can live a fairly normal human life."
"But you say that the material isn't human-made."
"We don't know that," Kathryn said. Cottle lit another cigarette and added, "But she's definitely human."
"I'm confused. She's either Cylon or she's not," the Admiral cut in.
"She's not a Cylon," Kathryn said just as Cottle interjected, "We don't know." The two scientists looked at each other.
"So Kathryn," Roslin said, "you're telling me that if I flush Seven of Nine out an airlock, I would have killed a human being."
"Yes, Madame President."
"Interesting." Roslin sighed. "Well, there's no way out of it, Bill." She looked at both the doctors pointedly. "She has machines in her blood and she doesn't appear in any of the ships' manifests. I mean, 'Seven of Nine'? Can anybody tell me if she's even a Colonial and where she comes from? For all we know, the Cylons have come up with a way to bypass our methods of detecting them. It would be best to act on the side of caution." She smiled at Kathryn. "Wouldn't you?"
Kathryn spoke through gritted teeth, "Yes, it would."
"Very good." Roslin put her hands together. "Well, that concludes this meeting." She nodded to Cottle and the Admiral. "I'll see you all very soon." She stepped out, gesturing to her aides who started scribbling notes as she dictated a speech.
Kathryn, much to Adama and Cottle's surprise, went after her. "Madame President!"
Roslin stopped to look behind her and waited for Kathryn to reach her side. "I hadn't expected you to give up so easily," she kindly said.
"What are you going to do to her?"
"She'll be taken to the brig with strictly no visitations. If she doesn't talk, then we'll resort to other methods." Roslin started to move with her entourage.
"But she's human. I can show you that those nano-probes…"
"I don't care if she's 'human', Doctor, especially if she's a security risk. And I will not allow anyone to compromise Fleet security and certainly not the existence of this race."
"You may regret this in the future," Kathryn said.
"We may all regret this if we suddenly find out she's betrayed all of us in our sleep."
Kathryn blinked, unable to say anything as Laura Roslin continued dictating her speech to an aide and walked away.
With the exception of Seven, the Voyager's senior crew was gathered in one of the many empty compartments in Galactica's belly.
"I like this place, but it's a bit uncivilized for my taste," Harry was saying. He was in pilot grays, unzipping them to reveal a muscled physique in a dark tank.
"And things are taking a turn for the ugly." Paris patted his gun and cocked it. "I have prison duty in an hour. Here's to hoping Seven isn't bored yet. Or dead yet."
"Well, nobody wanted to censor this," B'elanna said. She looked slightly awkward in a skirt, her reporter's head-set hanging around her neck. She sat with a camera on her lap. "The media is rabid; they're worse than engines on breach."
Kathryn looked at her crew. "Once we get Seven out, we'll leave."
"Is that a general consensus?" Tom Paris asked. "Because I'm starting to enjoy myself."
Chakotay said, "And that isn't a good sign."
"What? Since when?"
Chakotay pointed at him and looked at all of them emphatically. "See what I mean? We rescue Seven and that's it. I'm out. This is exhausting and it isn't healthy. Whose idea was this anyway?"
"Mine," Tom barked.
Kathryn raised a hand to silence them. "This was my idea, too but it will also serve as a lesson. To all of you." She closed her eyes, as though in pain. "You will learn from this; but before we leave, Seven's rescue will be our single -and last -mission on Galactica. "
Tory handed her the envelope as she sat by her desk and waited for Laura's response.
"It's a dinner invitation," Laura said, a bit too reverently. "Do I have anything slated for tomorrow evening?"
"No Ma'am. Your dinner with the Taurean dignitaries will be the next evening."
"Alright." Laura leaned back against her chair. Very recent events, Galactica's daring rescue of the New Caprica populace to be precise, had been on her mind for a time and it occurred to her that she had never had the chance to enjoy an evening with intelligent -and possibly unguarded -conversation. Then again, she did not often allow unguarded conversations these days. "Tell me, Tory, if I'm doing something incredibly idiotic here."
"Doctor Kathryn Janeway is a very talented scientist from Sagittarion. I don't see how she can bore you -how she has ever bored you -unless she talked about Cylons all evening." Laura looked at her personal aide with affection and noticed that the other woman seemed hesitant.
Laura knew Tory possessed a deep, unwavering loyalty to her. She also knew of the blossoming need Laura induced in the younger woman, suspected that Tory probably didn't know what to make of it. Or chose to be ignorant and passive about it, precisely because they worked so closely together.
Laura had yet to find out if it was mutual, and if in some way it could benefit them both, but until that time, she would explore her options. "I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself," Tory added. "You have to relax sometime. "
"This may be all business after all," Laura assured her. "She doesn't like the facts surrounding Seven of Nine and she can prove to be a moral rallying point, especially if the media gets wind of this. And then things can get very complicated in the administration."
Tory leaned forward and patted her hand. "Laura, you aren't obligated to anyone. Just go and have a good time. I don't doubt your ability of persuasion. Or," Tory said as she sighed, "you can look at it the other way: that the President is human, too."
"I sometimes wish I didn't have to be. Then I wouldn't have to worry about my evenings and what Cottle labels as my 'emotional well-being'."
Tory laughed. Laura liked the sound, ringing around the Colonial One's gray and confining spaces. Shaking her head and still smiling, Tory added an appointment to Laura's list for tomorrow.
Tory said, "She's good for you. She always has been."
Seven felt that this exercise was interesting. This particular group of humans was different: gritty, on the edge, paranoid in a very understandable way considering the hardships they endured at the hands of their enemies. Seven was drawn to the way they lived, going through their motions as though every day was their last. They lived in tandem with and often in opposition to technology; they were rarely tolerant of their fellow human beings when mistakes were made.
Her wrists still hand-cuffed, she sat uncomfortably on the single cot of the brig. There was nobody else there except for the guards who stood by the door.
There was talk of torture; more than one guard stared at her as though she was an object to be twisted to their desires. Seven was not worried. Part of the advantage to being Borg was mastery of her body; sensory areas in her brain could be shut off at a whim.
None of them seemed fazed by her protests and it had been a while since Seven chose to remain quiet, seeking to observe rather than share the truth that nobody seemed to be interested in; they found what they wanted to find, saw what they wanted to see. It bothered her that her human heritage had a tendency to deny the facts but as was her nature, Seven accepted it for the time being and stored this observation for later perusal.
She was not surprised to find Tom Paris, dressed in the black of the Galactica's Marines, enter with three others. As commanding officer, he had clearance to step within a meter of her cell's bars and decided to do just that.
"We're coming for you," he whispered.
"Good. Just sit still and don't to tell them anything." He grinned through his goggles. "Try to enjoy this, if you can."
"I am learning many new things, Lieutenant. I assure you that I will not be 'bored'."
She lounged by the table with the air of someone who owned the space, in much the same way she did her Captain's chair. The restaurant was dimly lit, smelled of a spectacular menu, and was casual enough that smoke and laughter hung from the bar in generous wisps.
Kathryn thought nothing of the later consequences to this particular meal. Dinner was one of the only instances where she could open herself up to the observations of a friend and in some cases, even strangers. Food had a way of untangling knots that lay deep in one's gut and oftentimes, things that one wouldn't see in a regular conversation, bobbed to the surface when she broke bread with them.
Laura Roslin appeared in an unpretentious, strappy black dress that tapered to her knees and exposed her calves, leaving Kathryn to peruse the sandals that cradled delicate ankles and the slight V that exposed her chest.
It was a…humbling sight and Kathryn didn't realize that her voice was hedged into her throat until Laura spoke, waiting for Kathryn's response with a bemused smile.
"Doctor Janeway, I didn't expect this to be a business meeting," Laura said in a mockery of formality. She gave Kathryn and her suit an once-over. "I hope that I'm not overdressed?"
Kathryn felt like she was stumbling over rocks inside but she merely blinked, moving to Laura's side and offering her the seat even before the maitre d could.
"No, you're not over-dressed," Kathryn said into her ear. "And you look quite wonderful, Madam President."
The President's brow quirked and she sat down with a drawn out, "Thank you"
"So," Laura started as Kathryn took her seat. "What merits this invitation to one of the best restaurants on Cloud Nine?"
"Besides the fact that you're the most powerful person on the fleet?"
"I wouldn't count Bill out."
It was Kathryn's turn to smile. "He's a bit…weathered for my taste."
There may have been laughter right then if the waiter hadn't arrived to pour two glasses of red wine. Kathryn tried to hide her amusement, lifting her glass as the waiter put a plate of veal before her.
"Nice touch, Laura, and as always, you never cease to surprise. I haven't had veal in…oh, I don't know."
Laura shrugged. "I didn't want to come unprepared. I hope you like the veal; it's probably the only one of its kind in the fleet. Literally, the best plate you'll find."
It was no surprise that the conversation flowed as easily as the wine. It had nearly been two weeks since their first dinner together and that had been an interesting, if albeit embarrassing affair. Since then, they'd enjoyed each other's company but it had only been tonight that Kathryn felt the particular shift in the way Laura looked at her, lingered at her lips, or stared, mesmerized, as she talked.
As Laura took on the effects of the alcohol with gusto, Kathryn learned of the woman's nefarious taste for risks, of the time she had agreed to the destruction of an entire ship in order to save her people. Or the time she had ordered a high ranking officer to be killed.
Kathryn assumed that Laura didn't usually spill her beans so easily. Kathryn felt slightly wicked to be drawing out information by leaving Laura to her glass, but it was clear that the bottle was Laura's idea.
"I'd like to talk to you about Seven of Nine."
Laura sobered up immediately. "What about her?"
"She was probably curious when she accessed those terminals."
"The media runs like clock-work. I can't believe that piece of information leaked."
"Very little gets past me," Kathryn said. "And injustice just isn't one of those."
"I noticed that." Laura heaved a sigh, sipping the rest of her wine and studying Kathryn with hooded eyes. "So, what would it take for you to keep quiet about this? About all of this? Her being human, her cybernetic implants, the fact that maybe -just maybe -we're about to kill a human being and shoot her out an airlock? I hate to be wrong, Kathryn, but I'd hate to lose to the Cylons just because you thought she was human."
"We can arrange something." Its suggestiveness wasn't lost on Kathryn and by the way Laura looked, it hadn't on Laura either.
There were so many things the Colonials had no room for. And often it was mercy. Kathryn understood; in a very deep way she knew that Laura didn't have much of a choice, that Kathryn's way of doing things was possible partly because of Starfleet's superior technology and partly because her paradigm was so very different.
It made her question so many things. She realized how her crew must have soaked up this other way of being human like stupefied sponges, where ambiguity to the means to an end seemed far from a distinct, Starfleet polarity.
It made her angry. It made her stumble.
They left the establishment with the glow of the inevitable now, of the price to be paid, of Laura's immovable spirit as Kathryn tried to touch this rigor by taking Laura's hands.
Instead, it was Laura who pulled her aside to kiss her.
They left with the touch of each other's lips, tongues darting out to taste, to feel. Off they went with the thrill of knowing that this was so very wrong. But it didn't matter; not during the protracted walk to Cloud Nine's docking bay or the trip back to Colonial One. Not when Kathryn's hands rode up her thighs and pulled at the waist of Laura's panties, claiming with her fingers all the flesh beneath. Not when Kathryn pushed her against Colonial One's leather seats and took the upper hand by sucking on Laura's neck and massaging her breasts through the thin material of her dress.
Laura began to moan, to writhe beneath her as Kathryn's fingers found her center; deep and wet and hot as she kissed with the same, passionate rhythms. Laura pulled at Kathryn's pants with uncontained need, with a cry for reprieve, mercy, some sort of comfort from the cruelty of today.
Kathryn's senses burst like wildflower smells in a meadow swept by a violent breeze. She cursed and cried out, "Computer, delete surroundings!"
And the world ended. Literally.
If she had been in a dream, she could have at least understood the symbols inside. But the grids of yellow and black stared back at her with no answers and bewildered, Laura looked at the woman who had such fantastic hands but who now stood, tousled as though she had been at sea.
"Let her go," the woman said.
"What's the meaning of this?"
"What if you found out that you were less real than Seven of Nine was?" Kathryn choked back. Kathryn stepped away from her, slowly and deliberately, as though Laura had dealt her a venomous blow.
Laura sat on the only chair in the room and was unfazed by Kathryn's behavior. She was used to it, changes of a few seconds that pulled the world into a whole new set of accidentals. She had her share of loss: friends, family, lovers.
"Are you saying I'm…"
"A hologram, yes. A part of a program that Tom Paris. It was something I had suggested we all learn from. A piece of old technology bound with the new, an illusion, a play of light and sensors."
"I can't believe you."
"Believe me," Kathryn said. "And I'll show you just how much of an illusion you are and just how wrong you can be."
Laura frowned, gathering to herself the strength of an entire nation as realizations about this reality dawned on her. "And shall I show you just how human you are and wrong this all is?"
"You won't have to. You aren't real," Kathryn said. "Computer, load previous environment."
As quickly as her surroundings had disappeared, the Colonial One's humming interior came back to life. Laura stared at her interrogator with dread, prayed to her gods, and prepared herself to understand the one before her.
Three Days Later…
Kathryn Janeway, Tom Paris, and Chakotay stood before the holodeck doors, the latter two decked in period garb while Kathryn stood by them in her Captain's uniform.
Tom said, "I still don't understand how Seven was freed. I mean, one moment we agreed to rescue Seven, the next moment the President just let her go."
Chakotay looked thoughtful, shifting his broom from one hand to the other. "Anyone had access to the Battlestar Galactica program at any time; I don't see how one of us couldn't have entered to convince the President of the harshness of her actions."
"Whatever that someone did must have been pretty extreme." Tom Paris put on his pilot's helmet as he punched in the program. They breathed in the sights and sounds of Galactica's hangar bay. "Only God could've changed Laura Roslin's mind."
"And only the Captain could have played God?" Kathryn asked, studying her surroundings with an air of barely restrained anxiety.
"Pretty much," Tom said.
Kathryn studied her crewmates. Chakotay had gravitated towards her, in much the same way he did when he knew she was in crisis. Ignorant, Tom was hopping with excitement as his Viper got pulled in for a test flight. Without ado, Tom climbed the ladder and strapped himself into the cockpit as the Galactica's ground crew fussed beneath his ship in a form of orchestrated chaos.
"So you did it?" Chakotay's voice was soft, accusatory almost.
"She was a hard shell to crack," Kathryn finally admitted.
She met Chakotay's gaze, found the Maquis in him and knew that he would probably be the only person who could understand what she had done. It had been a program. It had been a harrowing situation on which none of their lives had depended.
Kathryn knew Laura Roslin was a product of the holodeck but her effect was a ripple on very real water, widening to the strictures of Kathryn's Starfleet training.
"I understood where she was coming from," Kathryn continued. "But in the end…" Kathryn sighed, closing her eyes in contemplation before she stepped away and endured Chakotay's bewildered look. "I think I may have lost something on the way there." And to herself, "She most of all."