2: What Dreams May Come
Disclaimer: See previous chapters. I am playing in these verses with no hope or plan for compensation other than your hopefully glorious feedback – which I will seriously appreciate as inspiration to continue.A/N:
Please know that I’ve gone back and changed a few minor details in the previous chapters. Firstly, there were inconsistencies that I needed to clean up from my pre-beta chapters. In addition, there has been a long delay for several reasons not the least of which was that I suddenly didn’t like where I had originally planned to take this tale. I needed to put it aside and really re-think it. Then life totally took me over. I think I’m back on track and headed to a better place. Now that this chapter is re-hashed, I’m feeling much better about where I am headed and I think the next two chapters should be easier to get out of my brain. After those, we’ll see another time-shift. Plus I now have a beta!! Thank you thank you thank to Aynot for both her editorial support and her glorious feedback and properly timed nagging that inspired me to dive back into this story.NOTE:
* Text italicized between two asterisks is part of a flashback
PS – I am likely to go completely AU from just prior to the elections in BSG season 2. For those of you who want a tale that doesn’t go AU until season 3, go read my tth100 fic starting at chapter 5. ;-)
# # # # #Chapter 2: What Dreams May Come
It was Kara’s second week as a fourth year when she discovered that her dreams were not nearly as private as she once believed. She'd just finished washing in the morning after a true nightmare. It was one where she’d truly been the slayer warrior and not just watched her. Almost everything the girl had been through had felt real, tangible…and painful. She’d been chasing bloodsucking fiends all night through the lowest dregs of Caprica City. She'd awoken early and tired. Scratch that, she'd been exhausted and drained as if she'd awoken from the dead. She never felt that way about a slayer dream before. Never. The dreams had been her companion for over five years yet this was a first. Plus, the details were all jumbled in her mind. At first, she'd simply lay still in her bed for about 10 minutes trying to figure how the thoughts, images and memories fit together. With a final grunt, she gave up sorting out her brain, popped an aspirin to relieve her pounding head and made her way to the bathroom to wash up.
Throwing on her sweats and grabbing her running sneakers after a quick wash, she went out into the still cool dark morning. Lacing up her sneakers she started her running mantra that she usually reserved for evenings hoping it would shake off the unease she felt after waking up drained from dreams that had always revived her. A large part of her conscious mind fretted over the fact that she couldn't remember the details of the nightmare. It reminded her of the early ones she had at thirteen and fourteen. She felt a profound wrongness that she just couldn’t identify.
Kara finished her stretches with the second full accounting of Slayers and all her other fantasy warriors. She set her feet to the track with the start of the third go around. She felt most at ease on the soft half-mile track and often did her best thinking during the morning run. She usually awoke at dawn to give herself time to run for this purpose. It was also the reason she usually saved her catalog for the evening run. Nevertheless, it wasn't completely out of the ordinary for her to begin her first lap before the pre-dawn light.
She began to recite her rhythmic intonations. When she was alone on the track in these quiet morning hours, she would occasionally say the names aloud. She liked to hear them in her own voice rather than the voices of her subconscious...
The Slayers, Guardians, Wiccans, Apprentices and the others that could not be so easily categorized were all named quietly in rhythm with her feet pounding their way around the wide oval.
She was about to start on the Guardians in training when she saw movement at the far corner of the track. She ran through the short list on five of the colonies where the slayers were so fortunate as to have not just one guardian but two at there disposal before stopping the verbal incantation as she rounded the corner for her seventh lap. She was beginning to break a sweat but she was still breathing evenly. She smiled and waved at her fellow classmate and he returned both with his typical casual yet still uptight smile. She laughed and pointed to the pre-dawn light breaking through the clouds on the horizon. “Right on time Lee. How about surprising a girl for a change. Next time at least bring me flowers!"
He laughed in return. She enjoyed this - her casual banter with Lee. Ever since autumn of third year, they had both become friendly rivals. For her first two years, either she’d avoided Lee like the plague or she'd been in fierce athletic competition with him. She'd often land the top female spot and he the top male spot in every event they competed. With the exception of Kara’s obsession with pyramid, neither of them was particularly fond of team sports which meant that they often found themselves in unspoken competition. In almost all other ways, he outstripped her. Lee was best of the best as well as being Fleet
through and through. No one doubted that he'd go all the way to Admiral one day. Not only was he 4th or 5th generation Fleet, but also, it seemed like he was born for it. He practically breathed duty. He was in the top of the class in every discipline. More importantly and at opposition with Kara’s personality, Lee knew how to keep his emotions in check. You wouldn't catch him cursing out a superior officer, even behind their back. Propriety was ingrained into his very being.
As Kara began the lap past Lee she thought back on first year when his superior attitude had pissed her off and she'd marked him as a school enemy. She'd bonded with another classmate, Sharon, over the incident. Sharon had landed in The Academy on shear talent and will. Unlike Kara, Sharon matched Lee across the board in every academic discipline. Meanwhile, Kara struggled to keep her academic studies at the level needed to maintain her Pyramid Scholarship. Sharon helped Kara pull through in her classes and Kara helped Sharon loosen up and have a little fun bending the rules.
When the two learned about Lee’s war-hero father and combined it with his superior stuck-up attitude, they were certain he'd made it into the academy on his family name and that his academics were all a front. He also brought with him the comfort of wealth, something Sharon lacked in serious abundance. While Kara was also a military brat thanks to her marine mother, she’d literally left home when she came to the academy and could barely scrap two coins together as well.
Regardless, she’d long ago put all the pre-teen first-year issues behind them. Lee had earned her grudging respect over time when she discovered that, despite his annoying attitude, he really was exceptional in everything he tackled. He also went out of his way to help the cadets that struggled with their studies. He tutored nearly a dozen students and that alone was something that put him on the good side of the Force. Kara laughed as she rounded the 1/4-mile bend. There was Buffy again – invading her language and her thoughts. Lee had become a friend despite his by-the-book attitude.
As she had with Sharon, Kara constantly tried to break through their shells and lead them into trouble on a regular basis. However, unlike Sharon, she suspected that Lee was constantly trying to fix Kara and get her to start focusing on the “appropriate” things, such as studying. Lee had recently shared the news that his younger brother would be attending the academy once they graduated. Kara wondered if Zak would be more or less proper than his big brother. She secretly smiled thinking she’d found a new subject for her conversational taunting and verbal sparring with Lee.
Feeling much better with her head cleared from the run and a quick hot shower; Kara made her way to the sink to brush her teeth and get on with her day.
She felt a refreshing cool breeze through the bathroom and relaxed for a moment by the cool morning air coming from the window. She closed her eyes for a moment to revel in the fact that her run and shower had made the pounding in her head disappear.
It was only when she relaxed fully that she heard the boys outside sneaking a morning smoke before inspection. It was the biggest frakking teenage twits in the bunker. She knew they'd grown up in the rural outskirts of Caprica City on the edge of the Delphi Forrest, but did they need to be so crass?
"Man, did you hear Kara in her sleep last night or what?!"
"Yeah, she was like a buck with a doe in heat."
"I know it! She must have given herself one heck of a birthday present to enjoy!"
Kara pressed herself against the wall just as another girl came into the bathroom. In all her life, she had never before wished she was invisible.
Something was whispered…followed by more snickers.
"Don't you know it! Gods, I'd love to have been the fly on the wall for that though! All that beautiful grunting and groaning - you just know she'd be amazing!"
As she heard their words float up through the window, Kara clutched the windowsill with one arm and then wrapped her other around her waist. Her gut twisted and she ran her hand across her skin to assure herself that it was intact…Why? Why did she think it wouldn’t be? She felt as if all of her energy was flowing out of her body and her heart slowing down. Kara looked down at her chest half expecting to see that it was bleeding and broken. Why wasn’t she bleeding? Where was all the blood? Shouldn’t there be blood?
In her mind flashed a vision from the previous night’s dream.
*She was struggling and already wounded by a knife in the gut. She battled three vampires at once. She'd been smacked to the ground and a grunt had escaped with the pain of impact. It had been followed by deep groaning as she struggled -- pinned down against the hard concrete.
"And the moaning, don't forget the glorious moaning...I'd sure like to hear her moaning and writhing like that under me!"
*Two vamps had pinned her down together and she had struggled against them -- twisting and turning on the ground. One of them had punched her gut wound. It had felt so real and so painful. Then she’d seen the footsteps of the third step back and a set of cloven hoofs approach, she was sure it was over. Pinned down, wounded and weaponless. Four against one.
"Don't forget the screaming." He had the gall to imitate her voice, “Oh Gods! No more, I can’t take it!”
*The gut punching was suddenly replaced by a knife cutting into her skin close to her heart. She screamed in horror as the red-eyed demon began to cut her heart out. She recalled knowing that somehow the heart of a slayer was needed for the ritual. She'd failed to stop them and that meant something... something horrific.
"Yeah...I wonder if Adam is just a fantasy frak or if she's got some boyfriend no one knows about."
*The sword seemed to come out of nowhere as it separated demon head from body and both rolled away. However, the weight and momentum of the headless body moved forward jamming the knife further into her chest. She healed fast, but she knew that it was a mortal wound. She tried to turn her head toward her Guardian and simply couldn’t… " Chris, I'm here. We did it. Your plan worked! Apocalypse averted. You saved us all!" He was holding her hands while someone else cradled her head. She could hear another voice behind her calling for an ambulance. They must have dusted the vamps. She felt herself wasting away to darkness. There was so much she wanted to tell Adam. She knew that the Guardian would be wracked with guilt thinking he didn't teach her fast enough or that he was moments to late. She wanted to tell him that none of that mattered, if they'd won. She’d been a slayer for years. She knew her duty. She understood the war would continue, but that they'd done their part saving her world and she was happy. Yes, she was dying, but she was happy knowing that she'd done her part. She was relieved… the fighting would be over for her now. She desperately wanted to tell him something but couldn’t recall what, a name. Why did she want to tell him a name? Who was Aella? All that she managed before dying was to call out his name once more before she blacked out.
That had been the moment Kara had awoken. All the jumbled dream memories coalesced as she held on tightly to the wall. Kara recalled being jolted out of the dream at the moment of death and immediately sitting bolt upright -- panting heavily out of breath and weak. That was totally frakked up. Why would her mind make up this level of crap? Why would her dream self be killed in the name of duty?
Kara met Sharon's eyes in the bathroom. She had barely even realized she wasn’t alone anymore. Had she been lost in the dream flashback for mere moments…or longer? She was suddenly and irrationally angry with the boys outside. Her temper flared. She’d been living the death of a warrior not on some frakking joy ride. She probably should have been embarrassed by their commentary, but she was more furious than anything else. A small part of her was pissed at herself as well – she should never have let her crazy dreams go this far without telling someone and now any shrink would think she had some subconscious suicidal death wish. However, it was always in Kara’s nature to lash out. In this way she freely admitted to herself that she was screwed up. It was much easier to be angry with someone else than to deal with her own issues. This was likely why she was already legendary for her temper.
"Tell them off."
Her angry face transformed into a blank stare as Sharon held her gaze.
"They're just frakking first years. Who cares what you do in your dreams anyways? Seriously, you think those boys don't fantasize and frak off in their dreams?"
Yes! Frak, the boys and their stupid assumptions. If she was loud enough in her sleep to be heard across the hall, then that meant her own bunkmates surely heard her as well. Oh, well…frak it all! Let the future flyboys and girls of Caprica think she had vivid sex dreams rather than battles of good vs. evil. It was certainly easier to explain.
A slow and evil grin spread across Kara’s face and she quickly hugged Sharon before sticking her torso out the window. She wasn't embarrassed to be seen in her sports bra, the top half of her fit form looking down at the boys from the second floor.
"Like you two boys would ever have a chance. Seriously, you’re not even worth the frakking thought. You can’t even begin to comprehend how a real man can make a woman appreciate all his virtues."
She ducked back in only after seeing their stunned and quickly blushing faces. Boys. Idiots.
She turned back to Sharon and flung her towel over her shoulder. "Thank you."
Sharon's dimples appeared, "That's what friends are for. You and me - we are going on to bigger and better things and will be leaving those boys in the dust soon enough. Don't let them get to you. They are so not worth it."
Kara smiled and remembered yesterday's class in the school's hangar. Next month they'd get a preview of life in the Fleet and a chance to fly. However, right now they were learning all about the Vipers. Sharon had confided in Kara her desire to go onto fleet as a Viper pilot. While Kara planned to go on to play pro pyramid once her time was up, she was also helping Sharon ensure her place in a cockpit. They both knew that the real pilots understood everything about their life buckets. They'd decided to go above the lessons and learn the engines inside and out. That was why they'd started hanging out with the flight crews -- to learn.
Kara smirked. Her anger had dissipated to be replaced by teasing banter. "And perhaps Tyrol is worth it?"
Sharon actually blushed and sputtered. "It's not like that at all! He just knows everything about engines."
"Yeah, I'll bet he knows a great deal about more than just engines."
"Get your mind out of the gutter girl or I'll start thinking those boys were right!"
Yes. Kara agreed with herself again. Let them think she had a gutter brain. Better that then to end up being the psycho-chick who had nightmares about fighting an imaginary war against monsters. The Fleet shrinks would surely like to hear about that. Not to mention what they would make of the dying part. She was still to young to go pro at pyramid and couldn’t afford to get dropped from The Academy.
She walked back to her bunk with the intention of suiting up and heading to the mess hall for breakfast. However, while walking through the lounge she noticed that some of her classmates were intently watching the news when she heard the tail end of a report.
"…far there have been twelve reported seriously injured and thirteen were found dead on the scene. It is believed that the cult practiced human sacrifice. Twelve of the victims were found with the blood drained from their bodies."
She stopped in her tracks. Kara thought she'd probably never been paler in her life. She felt ready to faint and grabbed the back of the closest couch with white knuckles. She could no longer hear what the reporter said past the rapid pounding of her heart.
She just stared at the vid screen and the small gathering of people behind the reporter. Talking on a cell phone was the same man she'd seen in her dream. He’d been holding her hands as she died. Two others stood beside him. They were slightly younger and clearly distraught. Kara knew their names…Adam, Charles and Helen. She couldn’t stop the flashback to her dream memories as she stared ghost-faced at the news-stream.
*"But Chris, the gas station is right there! If we set the building on fire, it'll spread faster than it can be contained in that neighborhood. Civilians will be caught in it." He'd protested.
"Charlie, it's the only solution to containing the demons once the ritual starts.” Her voice had sounded powerful and commanding. “You, Adam and Helen gas the perimeter here." She had looked down at a city zoning map and circled four buildings surrounding a warehouse.
"Chris...that's a huge radius. You'll be without back-up for too long!”
“Adam,” She’d looked up into his eyes and had felt the hardness of her resolve, “There is no other choice. This is the plan.”
Adam had looked at her directly and Kara had felt the weight of his gaze in her dreams, she knew his face well. She knew his walk and the way he stood. She had been watching him through Chris’ eyes for years now…
It was him. There on the video… in real life. Not, in her dreams at all. There was Adam. A real flesh and blood person, not an imaginary person at all. Adam, who had pleaded with his Slayer not to sacrifice herself. Adam, who had trained her…Chris…to hone her inner warrior. Adam…, who until this moment, Kara thought had been a figment of her own mind. Adam, who was climbing into an ambulance… following a body bag clad stretcher and with an expression of complete despair.
Seeing all of this, Kara did something for the very first time in her life . . . she fainted.
;-) A/Q: I've two chapters vying for attention in my brain. Which do you want me to write first: (a) more Kara pre-mini backstory or (b) the scooby gang research team efforts? Your choice. I'll likely be writing over the weekend regardless because the plot bunnies are hopping.