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Originally published by The Thirteenth Tribe

Reprinted by Clean Slate Press in "Galactica 1988: Ten Years Later"

(A.S. please contact us!)


My Father's Daughter

By A.S. Lawrence


Looking back into the past, it's altogether too easy to lay the blame on others; the way you behave, the way you are. The truth is that we shape our own lives to our own wishes and then invent ourselves excuses for them. Sometimes we even manage to fool ourselves.

That's why I can still say that, for me, the pattern of my life was for the most part drawn for me by my father. I truly think I am as I am because of who he was, what. My father was a great Warrior -- our greatest, I always thought, less out of loyalty to him than out of my own need; he had wanted to pass that heritage on through the bloodline, Warrior breeding Warrior -- but his only child turned out to be a daughter. He never said he was disappointed in me, never even hinted at it, but I knew without words, without knowing that knew, as children do. I was probably as close to him as anyone came, and I knew. And it was because of that, that unspoken disappointment, that I took the first of my many steps away from what I perhaps should have been and toward what I am. I could not be a son for him -- but I could become a Warrior.

It wasn't unknown at that time for a girl to enter Viper pilot training; on the other hand it wasn't common either, not as it once had been. In the early yahrens of the war men and women had fought together, side by side, equal, throughout the Colonies -- but the war dragged on, the need to preserve the race became more desperate, and slowly women found that they were expected to accept "safe" assignments, as bridge personnel, or in engineering, or computers... not as pilots. I was the only female in my class, and later the only woman pilot on my battlestar. That was the second step. The third step was when some assessment programmer, somewhere deep in the heart of Central Command, assigned me to the Pegasus -- to my father's ship.

I've heard people call me "spoiled." Maybe they're right. I know I have faults, plenty of them. I'm stubborn, I like to get my own way (doesn't everyone?), I have a temper. And I like to make my mistakes for myself rather than learn from those of others, which has gotten me into trouble more times than I can remember. But spoiled... it depends on how you look at it. As I see it, a child can be spoiled by either too much attention or by too little. Maybe it's hard to believe -- if you'd ever heard the way my father used to talk to me, perhaps you wouldn't believe -- but in my case, I think it was the latter. I loved him, sure, oh, I worshiped him! But I was never quite good enough for him. I could never quite make him see me -- me, Sheba, myself; who I am, not who he thought I was, or what he wanted me to be. He was always full of praise for my achievements, but it all meant nothing to me because he didn't really know me. He never really knew me. When my mother died, it wasn't me he turned to for comfort; it was a socialator. Can you imagine how that made me feel? It was, emotionally, like having a door slammed in my face. I knew, if I thought about it rationally, that there were many ways in which she could help him more than I.. but he didn't have to shut me out like that. We never even talked about it - - and I needed to talk; I loved my mother. So instead, feeling as though I had lost both parents at once, I threw myself into my training, and I got results. I'm a good pilot and no one can say otherwise; perhaps the only thing I have that's entirely my own. I advanced through the ranks at a rate which had nothing to do with my father's status aboard the ship, and I thought he saw, although he never said, and was at least proud of me.

And then, that last time, that last mission... he tried to send me away with the wounded, away to safety, as if I were a child, a helpless child who has to be protected! That hurt. More than anything, that hurt. It hurt so much that for a fatal moment in the thick of the battle my attention lapsed and my ship was hit.

My instruments were shot, tiny fires sparkled amid the console wiring. My hands were burned, and my face... I could hardly see, and the pain swept through me; I thought that I would faint, and then I realized what that would mean and fought back, fought back, clinging to hope as if there were a hope to cling to...

And there was.

Apollo brought me home, talking to me through, his voice my only awareness, the one thing keeping me conscious, keeping me alive. He led me in to the worst landing I've ever made and was beside me as soon as my ship was down, pulling me from my cockpit and handing me down to Starbuck, the two of them lifting me onto a stretcher... I reached out and touched his hand, Apollo's, warm and real in the darkening haze of my vision, and I clung to it as though I would never let it go.

And when I woke again I was on the Galactica, my father gone, most of my friends dead. I had Bojay still, thank God, there in Life Center with me... and I had Apollo.

Apollo. With his strength, his caring, he was as much an idol to me now as ever my father had been. I had hated him at the very first, seeing him as a threat to my father, a rival. But now my father had gone, leaving me alone -- but Apollo was there, always; he visited me every day, all the time I was in Life Center, unfailingly kind even when my pain and loneliness made me snappish and unpleasant. I knew already the Warrior he was -- better than I; perhaps (disloyal, disloyal as the thought was) better than my father, being less driven, less single-minded; now as I saw, more and more, his humanity, his compassion, so I became more and more ashamed of my own jealousy and more desperate to make amends, to please him -- to make him like me. I don't know when it changed, or how. I only know that one day he came to my bedside and we talked, as usual, and that, leaving, he took my hand as always did; and I looked up into his eyes, and suddenly I knew that I loved him to the depths of my heart and deeper, and that if it took me the rest of my life I would find a way to make him love me too. I held his hand as if I thought to keep him by my side forever, but he drew it gently away, and then he left me. I stared after him, watching him walk away, the doors closing behind him; it was as if the sun had died on every world in every star system all at once and for all eternity.

Selfish. I gave no thought to his wants, his feelings. Some would argue that isn't love, that love is caring more for another's happiness than you do for your own. But I know what I felt. I needed him, wanted him -- and yes, I wanted to bring happiness to him; I thought perhaps I could. I called it love then, and love it is that I call it now.

Love came hard to me, unexpected as it was. I had no idea what to say, what to do... how to let him know, if I should let him know... It was strange new territory to me. The most love I'd known had been my mother's before she died, my father's, the comradeship that grows among fellow-pilots in the face of a common danger. I'd had affairs, sure; having been the only girl in a class of boys meant that I'd never been left without a date for an Academy dance, while on the Pegasus I had never been short of male companionship, although how many of them were interested in me and how many only in the Commander's daughter I never knew and didn't much care since I'd been happy enough as I was, not looking for a commitment. But none of them had mattered to me. This did. It mattered more to me than anything ever had before or since; I couldn't leave it to chance, I had to try my hardest to see that it all came right. And, of course, I tried much too hard and came closer than I like to think to blowing it.

Apollo seemed to accept me as a companion without a second thought; when I came out of Life Center he began to include me more and more among the exclusive circle of those few people he called friends. That was in itself quite a compliment, and I was well aware of it -- but it wasn't enough. I did try to be patient, although it's not one of my few virtues; I told myself that, with his sensitivity, he couldn't help but become aware of my feelings toward him, given time. I thought that, reasonably, and held to it; but all the time something in me was ticking like an old-fashioned chrono and was saying to me over and over again as it counted out each micron, "But you may not have much time, but there may not be much time." It whispered it in my head and in my heart constantly, and each time that he alert sounded, each time that Apollo's Viper launched the beating increased until it echoed all around me and I thought everyone who came near me must be able to hear it too: "Life is too short, no time to lose, hurry, hurry, hurry..."

I think Starbuck heard it. He guessed, long before anyone else, the way things were with me. He thought it was funny. I suppose, to anyone but me, it was. He made a lot of jokes about it. My heart sank every time I heard him mention me to Apollo but, thank the Lords, Apollo only smiled, paying him no mind, and continued to treat me exactly as before. Starbuck tried to joke about it to me, too -- once. After that I guess he realized that I was serious. It might have been because of him that Cassiopeia came and had a talk with me.

Cassie's "talk" was more a history lesson really, and most of it I knew already from fleet gossip, but she meant it kindly and I was grateful to her, if only because she took my feelings seriously. Starbuck didn't mean to hurt... I think... but I was unsure of myself and a bit fragile about the whole thing, and I suppose I overreacted. I suppose I always do.

I know I overreacted the last time, the time we found ourselves running straight for a Cylon base star long after we thought we'd lost them forever. There was nothing we could do but attack them before they spotted us and hope that the element of surprise would be enough for at least some of us to survive. It wasn't much, but it was the best we had...

Or it was until Starbuck and Apollo dreamed up a nightmare plan to improve our odds: to fly straight into the base star and knock out its scanners from the inside. From the inside of a base star. The two of them.

The rumors were spreading even before Cassiopeia came and found me in the Officers' Club prior to the launch. She pulled me out of there, into the corridor, and said, "Have you heard?"

"The Commander's planning something," I said. "The Club's been buzzing with it -- no one's seen Apollo or Starbuck, and the shuttle's been launched to..."

"To the prison barge," she finished. "They're calling in Baltar. Baltar! Do you know what they're planning, Sheba?"

"If I'd've been gifted with prescience, I'd've never become a Warrior," I said. "I'd be a fortune teller. The fleet could use one. Do you know?"

Her eyes were abnormally bright, as if she were very angry, or close to tears. "I was called to the launch bay earlier, on a medalert. They were preparing Baltar's Cylon fighter."

I looked blank. "They're sending Baltar back to the Cylons?" I suggested stupidly. "I mean, they're welcome to him, but is this any time...?"

" I don't think," Cassiopeia said evenly, "that it's Baltar they're sending."

I just looked at her for a micron. Then, as one, we turned and made for the turbolift to the bay.

The fighter was there in the bay and, sure enough, there were Apollo and Starbuck too -- and Boomer, but he took one look at Cassie and m and went away. Cassiopeia told Starbuck she wanted to speak to him privately and, dragging his feet and looking nervous, he followed her outside. That just left me. And Apollo.

He was checking the instrumentation off against a handscanner, and for a few microns I thought he hadn't seen me. Then I realized that he had, but was ignoring me; that he had no idea what to say, any more than I did. And I didn't. I knew it wasn't the right time to tell him... to tell him what I'd been keeping pent up inside of myself for so long... but I couldn't just let him go, not without saying something. So I took a deep breath and said, "It takes three Cylons to fly one of these things," hearing with some horror how my voice wavered. I thought that at least if I were with him on this last mission it might not be so bad... to lose him. I though that I would lose him; I had little or no hope of survival -- ours, his. It's a bad way to go into battle.

He only shook his head. For a moment I felt the same crushing lack of confidence in myself that I had felt when my father tried to protect me, tried to send me away from the Pegasus' last battle, but then he said, "No, I need you and Boomer to lead the squadrons," and I breathed easier, knowing that he at least trusted me that far. Then he tried to lighten it, dropping some casual remark about the third Cylon only being there to give orders anyway, and I suddenly found that I was angry; he was going away, I would probably never see him again, and he could laugh!

I said furiously, unforgivably, "You really want to get yourself killed, don't you?" and he turned to stare at me, shocked. I went on... I said some more things, a lot more, things that I didn't really mean and don't want to remember... and when I was done, when I'd finally run out of breath, he only looked at me, and said, as if in pain, "I'm sorry."

He was sorry; I was sorry. I hadn't realized how much bitterness I'd stored up inside myself; I was as shocked as he was at the force with which it had spilled out, more shocked at myself for saying such things to him at such a time. But he was still looking at me, his eyes hug with hurt, and I didn't know what to say. So I leaned across and kissed him, once, thinking it would be the only chance I ever would get, and I said softly, "Be careful," because it was all I could think of. And then, because I could feel that I was about to cry, I left him alone there and fled, feeling his gaze on my back as I ran from the ship.

I had perhaps ten centons before we were due to launch the squadrons, and my mind was in a turmoil. I was in no fit state to fly, but I had to. To calm myself I went, not back to my abandoned drink in the Officers' Club, but to the Celestial Chamber where Apollo had taken me, Starbuck, and Cassie, only the night before. Climbing there, I opened the canopy and gazed up through the transparent dome to the immense, eternal calm of the star-spattered sky. There was comfort in its beauty, a little; but all I could think was that somewhere out there, somewhere beyond one of the nearer points of light, a base star lay hidden and that there, beyond that star, lay all of our destinies. As if to emphasize the point, at that very moment there was a spark of light closer to home: The Cylon fighter launched and sped away, almost faster than the eye could see. I watched it go, breathing a silent prayer for the men within, until it was lost to view.

Beside me a voice murmured, "They're gone," and I started; enrapt, I hadn't heard Cassie follow me. Then she said, "Why did I ever have to fall in love with a Warrior?"

I smiled a little sadly to myself and said quietly, "I don't know." And then it was time to get to my ship and launch.

I survived the battle; most of us survived the battle. Apollo, too, in spite of all the danger and all my forebodings. We watched as the Cylon ship returned, successful in its mission, held our breath as it landed, cheered when we saw that it was safe -- that they were safe, both of them, Starbuck and Apollo, survived once more to be hailed as heroes once more. And then I found myself thinking: What have I said?!

I thought I wouldn't blame him if he never wanted to see me again. I thought perhaps he didn't. I saw him as he came onto the bridge to report to Adama, and I smiled at him nervously; he half-minded in return, but looked away quickly and went straight over to his father. It wasn't a good time or a good place to try to talk; I'd been indiscreet enough for one day, after all. I went back to my quarters and lay down, thinking, rehearsing to myself what I would say to him when I saw him again, how I would apologize, how I would explain -- and he, of course, he would accept it all; he might be uncertain at first, he might even be indifferent, but it wouldn't matter. It would be all right. It had to be.

There was a victory celebration that evening; the Council held an extraordinary meeting and voted, unanimously for once, to award Starbuck and Apollo a medal (one each, I mean). I thought that I would have the chance to speak to Apollo then. But he didn't appear until almost the very last centon -- Adama had to send Starbuck to fetch him-- and when I looked for him after the ceremony, he was gone again. If I had not been my father's daughter I might have left it there; but I am who I am, and being me, couldn't let it alone. I had to say it now; tomorrow might be too late. The chrono inside of me was ticking again, counting the microns of my life, his life, away faster than ever before, and I needed to say what must be said now, now, while I still could; I could not wait for some uncertain, improbable future.

I went to his quarters, sure that he would either be there or in the dome. I was right the first time; when I sounded the entry request his voice called out, "Who is it?" I suppose he hadn't been expecting visitors; most people would stay at the party as long as possible.

I called back, "It's me, Sheba." My voice, I noted with disgust, had gone wavery and unsteady again, and I cleared my throat before I went on, "Apollo, may I talk to you?"

There was a long silence during which I began seriously to wonder if I'd really frightened him away and had a wild vision of him desperately to hide under his bunk. I think I must've been feeling kind of hysterical, because I started to giggle and was still trying to straighten my face when Apollo finally opened the door. He stood looking down on me curiously.

"I've come to apologize," I offered, and just managed to stifle the last giggle.

He lifted an eyebrow but said, perfectly calmly, "So I see." Then he stood back and said, "You'd better come in," adding, as I passed him, "Boxey's asleep, but the door's shut so we're not likely to wake him."

I looked at the closed doorway in the inner bulkhead and nodded. Those dividing walls are built solidly; my father's quarters had been much the same.

Apollo waved me toward the seating unit in the center of the outer office and I sat down, feeling nervous and uncomfortable and wishing that I'd stayed at the celebration long enough to drink at least another glass (probably more) of ambrosia. As if reading my mind he went into his sleeping chamber and came back out again carrying a flask and two glasses. "Safety measure," he explained, seeing me glance at the flask. "Boxey's at the experimental stage, and I know exactly what Salik would say to me if he found himself with a drunk eight- yahren-old on his hands." He filled one of the glasses and handed it to me, settling himself on a chair across from me, his own glass held between his hands.

"You don't really need to apologize," he went on after a moment. "You didn't say anything that wasn't true."

"I could have said it all a lot more tactfully.." I began.

He shrugged. "Yeah, maybe... but... you know, nerves on edge..."

"Or at a better time," I persisted, and he smiled, rather sadly.

"Is there a good time for hearing the truth? I wonder."

"This was a lousy time," I said, quite firmly. "I don't have a good excuse, it was just..." My voice trailed away; there are some things it's almost impossible to say, no matter how hard you rehearse them. "I was worried about you," I finally, lamely, said.

"Nerves," he said again. "I get them too. In a way it was kind of a relief, getting it out of my system." He stood suddenly, pushing his chair away from himself impatiently, and began to pace the room, as if the adrenaline rush of the battle had still not died away. "But I'm sorry I've been so slow, I didn't realize that you... you cared for me." He glanced sidelong at me, smiling again. "I've always been kind of slow that way. Ask Boxey someday."

"I know you didn't," I told him. "I didn't want to... to crowd you. I don't want to. Only... I thought I'd never see you again..." I had to stop and get control of myself again; I tear up so easily, too easily. I couldn't believe that we were sitting here, talking so calmly about something that meant so much to me.

He said softly, like a memory, "Before another centon passes... another mission where I might lose you..." He fell silent, shaking his head as if to clear the remembrance away; then he came back to me, to kneel on the floor by the seating unit, his eyes fixed on mine. "Sheba, you know I was married once."

I only nodded; I had flung Serina's memory at him like a weapon, there in the Cylon ship. It made me wince to remember, to remember the expression in his eyes at the sound of her name, how he had turned quickly away, hiding his pain from me.

"She said that to me," he said, and he glanced away, looking down at his hands. "Starbuck was missing; he took my patrol, and the Cylons captured him. It could have been me, should have been me. It all seemed so... so fragile suddenly." He gestured vaguely around himself, at the four metal walls, including more: the constant humming of the battlestar's engines, like the pulsing of a huge heart forever with us, sustaining us, the blackness of empty vacuum outside the viewports, the refiltered air we breathe, the recycled food, water... all the narrow confines of our artificial lives.

"It is fragile," I said. "I feel it too. That's what makes it so precious -- don't you see? Life is for living, no matter what the circumstances. What else can we do?"

"I used to think so," he said. "Maybe I still do. But, Sheba, I married Serina not so much because I loved her -- I did love her, I do -- but because we knew how little time we had. We had so little time, so little of anything; we were afraid of losing any more, what we had. And she died, and I lost everything anyway. You're asking me to do the same again, and I won't. I can't. Can you understand that?"

"You're trying to say no kindly," I said, and hoped my voice didn't betray the hurt I felt.

He sighed. "Sheba... I like you. I'm fond of you. I hope I'm your friend. I don't want to lose that friendship; it matters to me -- you matter. I wish I could say there was more to it than that, if that's so important to you -- but that's all there is. I don't love you. I don't pretend to know what the difference is, but it's there. I can't make myself fall in love with you just by wanting to."

I tried to smile. "But if you could, you would?"

At that he smiled back at me. "Of course, I would! I may be a little slow, but I'm not entirely stupid. At least..." He let the thought hang.

I finished my drink -- I needed it -- and set the glass down on the floor. "Then there's hope," I said. "Maybe in time..." And as soon as I said it, I heard the beating in my mind begin again; so little time, so little time...

I thought I must have said it aloud, but it was Apollo who had spoken. "If the Cylons give us time." I stared down at him as he still knelt by me.

I said, "Apollo," and reached for his hands. "I want to find Earth. I want a home, an end to all this running, to the fighting and the dying. I want the same things you do. But if this is all there is... I'll accept it." My fingers tightened around his. "It's a lousy way to live, but at least it's a way. We can make our lives here, as we are, and though they may not be the lives which we would have chosen we can make them as good as they can be. And we'll never give in, any of us. You know we won't. And I'm the same. My father never gave in, and nor do I."

He only looked at me, still for a moment; then his hands closed over mine, and he suddenly laughed.

"No," he said. "We'll never give in. That's humanity. We endure; life goes on. Ah, Sheba... life... goes on." And he reached out to me, drawing me to him; and I came to him gladly, unresisting.

There is love, and there is love, and if my love was stronger than his, what did that matter to me, to him, in that place and that time? Love was there, we reached in to it, touched it, and knew it for what it was.

And in the morning we found that, after all, we still could be friends.


Enter Sheba's Galaxy