Toward a Politics of Motherhood
Fandom: Battlestar Galactica
Characters: Roslin, Boomer, D’Anna, Gina
Spoilers: The Captain’s Hand
Disclaimer: Moore’s the man with the master plan.
Summary: Women’s issues are just so esoteric and irrelevant, aren’t they?
Cottle looks at her, and then at the dead girl, and then at her.
“I thought the point was to add numbers to the whiteboard,” is what he says coldly, getting the girl onto a gurney.
She’d say something, but there’s nothing to say. She made the worst mistake of her life four days ago, and it’s ruined everything. Gaius Baltar will be president, young women are walking up to her to spit in her face, and now this. The bad old days all over again.
Part of her wants to cry, say she takes it back and is so sorry, and overturn the order, but will that make things any better? Will she be able to sleep at night then?
What Laura needs is a miracle, and she’s used to creating her own. Besides, it won’t work this time. Miracles are a part of the problem, and has anyone noticed she’s a living dying leader now? Another manufactured miracle gone bad for Laura.
Billy is dead, and a scared young girl is dead, and Laura is going to have to live with that on her conscience. There’s no one to turn to, no one who can make it stop, and it would be vile and childish of her to kill herself now.
Even if she’s now useless to her own people, and she has no one to blame but herself.
“The wages of sin,” someone says to her, and it couldn’t be worse, because Laura recognizes D’Anna Biers. “Did you really think it would be easy, Madam President?”
“You could call me Laura,” Laura says. “I get the sense everyone will be, in a few days’ time.”
D’Anna looks at her strangely. “You’re calm for an utter fatalist,” she says. “Are you so sure your presidency is doomed?”
“I made a harmful decision against my own better judgment, was outplayed by a sniveling opportunist of a man, and now people are dead because of it,” Laura answers. “I don’t know if I would vote for myself today.”
D’Anna spits. “Better you than Gaius Baltar,” she says. “Wouldn’t you say? The man’s decidedly odd, and well…I shouldn’t say this, but I’ve heard rumors that he’s a Cylon sympathizer.”
“He was vindicated,” Laura says bitterly. “Though I’ve never really trusted him myself, there’s no evidence that he’s a Cylon collaborator.”
“Just the twitch you get when you declaim his supposed innocence,” D’Anna says with a wry chuckle. Laura turns her head and looks at the woman curiously. “Off the record.”
“No such thing,” Laura says, and D’Anna chuckles again.
“Wise woman,” she says. “You’d think people could see your aims in instituting the emergency measure.”
Laura is almost alarmed by the smooth way D’Anna is spinning that damned ban, and does not trust her for a second, except that the same gut feeling she ignored when she instituted it is telling her that D’Anna has an agenda, but it’s one that can help Laura now.
“My aims? And what, pray tell, are my aims?” Laura asks.
“The preservation and repopulation of mankind, for one,” D’Anna says. “After all, the emergency measure is only part of your plan, I suppose. Better treatment for pregnant women, incentives to have children, and so forth. First access to doctors and medicines for families.”
“I don’t need to have lines fed to me,” Laura says severely. “There’s no way to justify the ban; it was a panic reaction to the numbers Baltar fed me. He played me like a cheap fiddle and I’m ashamed of myself.”
D’Anna chuckles. “So the traitor in our midst lied to bring down our government? False numbers to induce panic among the people, make us think there was a crisis. You were lied to by this man again, this man you trust so implicitly?”
Laura laughs at the idea of trusting Baltar, but she likes D’Anna’s plan a little too much for her own good. “What do you want for the help?” she asks. “You’re not doing this out of the goodness of your heart. And I doubt you simply want an interview, Ms. Biers.”
D’Anna throws her hands up and smirks. “Believe it or not, I mostly want Baltar out of the way as much as you do,” she says. “But now that you mention it…the Cylon. The Valerii woman and her child. I want access.”
“She’s a military asset. I don’t technically have that authority,” Laura says. “Admiral Adama does not allow people in to see her lightly.”
“How can you justify allowing Adama that much autonomy over a Cylon?” D’Anna asks, looking suspicious and concerned.
Laura wants to tell the woman that she has her own suspicions about Bill Adama’s obsession with Sharon Valerii, none of them terribly pleasant. If she were to make a guess about why the Cylons allowed that one so much autonomy, it would be that she has a destabilizing effect on the admiral and his family. And it’s working if that’s the case — Bill’s got an unacknowledged hard-on for the young woman, one that makes him unreasonable and unreliable concerning her.
“The truce between myself and Admiral Adama is one of the things that maintains order in this fleet,” Laura says.
“Which you’ll lose — which we’ll all lose — if Baltar wins the presidency,” D’Anna says. “I think you can convince Adama to give me access under the circumstances.”
Laura sighs heavily. “Maybe we would be better off if I went back to teaching school,” she says.
“I seriously doubt that,” D’Anna says.
“There are still Cylons in the fleet,” Sharon tells the old man during their increasingly-more-common talks. “And something’s coming.”
“How do you know that?” he asks sharply, and Sharon sighs. He’s in one of his moods; someone must have asked him something he doesn’t want to give. Which means the president is up to something. Which means trouble for Sharon.
“I don’t know. It’s a feeling,” Sharon tries to explain. “I don’t know what’s coming, but I know like the other Sharon knew there was something wrong with her.”
“Why do they let you stay here, if you’re so important to their plans?” Adama asks, looking at her sharply. “If there are Cylons in the fleet, why haven’t they come for you?”
“We’re not suicidal. Especially not now,” Sharon says. “Extracting me from Galactica would be fatal. And it might not work, and more importantly, it might kill my baby.”
Adama nods. “The president has asked me to let you speak to a member of the press,” he says.
“I thought the president was too busy changing her mind about whether or not to kill babies to have time for much else,” Sharon says, and Adama gets flustered, a little angrier. “News of the ban is pretty common. I heard the guards talking. Ironic, huh?”
“I’ve decided to allow it,” Adama says in a way that says that he didn’t decide anything, and Sharon wonders what Roslin has on him that she could force him now, at her absolute weakest. “The president and myself will be sitting in, to make sure Biers doesn’t stray into topics of security.”
“You haven’t asked me if I want to talk to her,” Sharon says.
“You don’t have a choice,” Adama says.
“Not going to be much of an interview if I refuse to talk, is it?” Sharon asks snappishly, and Adama hangs up the receiver with a lot more energy than he needs to. “Don’t worry. I’ll talk. Nothing to lose.”
He ignores her and stalks off, but he’ll be back, with the president and the reporter, and Sharon goes back to her cot to stare at the ceiling some more and think.
She’d never tell him, but he has a point. Even if it would cost lives, her baby must be vital to her people. It’s part of God’s plan. The Cylons must be going mad, trying to ascertain if she’s alive, if her baby is doing well.
They’ll be coming soon. Sharon’s just not sure how or when.
Her daughter kicks. Well, technically, Sharon decides, she’s pushing her little butt out, not kicking. It used to creep her out, being able to identify what was pushing her skin out, but now?
Now it’s kind of endearing.
“You know what I want to know? I want to know why the bitch didn’t just die,” a loud, drunk woman is bitching on Cloud Nine. “No, really. She had cancer, she was on death’s doorstep, and now she looks fine to me. What the frakking frak, man?”
D’Anna is only partially listening. It baffles her how these people can throw away their fecundity, when each of their discarded children would be more precious than any price to the Cylons. Even more baffling is how they don’t realize their children are almost as rare and valuable as Cylon children now, and that Roslin’s plan, as half-cocked as it was, isn’t based on some religious mandate or political strategy.
It was the one thing D’Anna didn’t expect from the wily old scheme — Laura Roslin genuinely cares about humanity. She wants them to survive, no matter how many times they spit on her. Literally.
It’s unexpected. Roslin is willing to lose if that’s for the best; it’s not about her own happiness at all. D’Anna admires that — it’s how Cylons thrive — but wonders how a mere human can be so altruistic without any benefit to herself.
“I heard she did die. That she’s a Cylon,” someone else says. “Wouldn’t that be frakking ironic? Our president, a Cylon.”
“You mean how it’s ironic you’re supporting Baltar?” D’Anna asks, seeing her window of opportunity open wide.
“Excuse me?” the drunk woman asks.
“Well, far be it for me to say anything, and it’s just wild rumor anyway, but you know he was with that Cylon. The one who shot Cain. The one who supposedly disappeared,” D’Anna says. “He was on Pegasus that night.”
“So what?” the other person, a sandy-haired man who looks at her uncomfortably, says.
“So how is it that the man spends hours with the Cylon, but is magically not there when she escapes and goes on her killing spree?” D’Anna asks. “There’s luck, I suppose, but that’s pretty gods-damned good luck.”
“How DARE you?” the woman says, especially as her companion nods. “You’re a woman. How can you support that monster? She took away our right to control our bodies. She just told every man in the fleet that we’re less important than our wombs, and you’re telling rumors about Vice President Baltar, who STOOD UP for women? He hates politics, but he knows it’s important to do the right thing!”
“Awfully convenient, isn’t it, that he stood up for women after he was the one who gave President Roslin the projections that forced her hand with the emergency measure?” D’Anna asks evenly.
She’s expecting it, and it happens — the woman throws her drink in D’Anna’s face and screams. “You’re LYING! Stop LYING!” she cries. “How can you hate your own body so much?”
D’Anna thinks of the sixty-eight human men she’s slept with since the attacks. About how every month, her body still sheds menstrual blood as a standing reproach to her inadequacy. About her prayers to God, begging forgiveness.
These people don’t appreciate what they have.
“Where’s the next generation going to come from, if we don’t make babies?” D’Anna asks, enjoying how in control she is. The whole bar’s listening to them. “I don’t like the ban any more than you do. Or Roslin does, for that matter. But where are we going to find babies if we don’t make them? Maybe we can ask the Cylons and their good friend Baltar to help, huh? He always has some magic trick up his sleeve — I’m sure he’ll have one now.”
A rumble of amused approval. This particular bar is now a bar of Roslin voters, and D’Anna almost shakes her head.
Humans. So easy to manipulate.
Gina still has nightmares. Cylons are not supposed to have nightmares. Nightmares are the products of psyches that don’t have a connection to God, to others, that have nothing but neurons trying to make sense of the incomprehensible.
Gaius stands over her in some of them, smiling proudly. “Congratulations, darling,” he tells her. “I can finally make you a mother.”
It’s the most terrible feeling in the world, and what’s worse, once he says it, her belly is already grotesquely distended. And Gina can’t move, because she can’t, because it’s a nightmare.
And then Cain laughs at her, laughs and laughs with that bullet hole in her head, except that half her face is gone and one eyeball is hanging down her cheek.
“Worth it?” she asks.
“Shut up,” Gina snarls from gritted teeth.
“You’re going to be a mommy. A big swollen bag of baby-making. That’s what your God wants, isn’t it?” Cain says. “Your babies. Not you. You can’t ever be good enough, can you?”
Before Gina can break her bonds and kill Cain all over again, the scene shifts, and the president, whom Gina has never met, is holding the baby.
“Gaius,” she says, twisting against invisible chains. “Why is that woman holding our baby?”
“It’s my baby now,” the president says, cuddling it to her maternally. “You don’t want it, do you?”
“Don’t touch her,” Gina says. “You’re a threat to me.”
“She’s more my daughter than yours,” the woman says. “We have the same blood, and it’s all your fault, didn’t you know? Gaius saved me with your daughter, because he knows. He knows that I’m the best mother. The only mother for his child.”
“Give me my daughter!” Gina screams, as the president walks away, humming a lullaby to the baby, and Gaius comes running into the room, wearing only a pair of running shorts and a tie.
“Congratulations, darling, you’ve — oh. Well, you’re not worth a damn now, are you?” he says. “We’ll have to give you back to them now.”
Gina turns, and there they are. The Pegasus men, slavering and smirking with erections. For her.
“No!” Gina screams, sinking to her knees. “No.”
But she can’t escape. She can’t die, she can’t live — and when she wakes up…
Will it be real?
Has it ever been anything else for a woman?