There was atmosphere within the secondary (inner) hull after all. And Sam sighed with relief as the shielding insulated him (mostly) from the harmful radiation. It wouldn’t be enough—not in the long run, not with the damage the Basestar had suffered—but for now, it provided a buffer against the debilitating effects. A pair of Marines was on point as the team headed deeper into the bowels of the Cylon ship; another guarded the rear. Sidewinder had ordered Kaboose, along with Thumper and her team to remain behind and secure their Raptors, which left only him and Sam, and five Marines. And while Sam had never before set foot in this kind of a ship, he knew the turns to take through the featureless and identical corridors and open compartments. And everywhere there were the signs of battle. “Keep your eyes peeled, people,” Sidewinder warned again. “Looks like we aren’t the first to board this ship.” “No. The Guardians—Mod-0005s—have been here,” answered Sam as he held his pistol pointed at the unmoving body of a fallen First War era Cylon. “Why didn’t they just blow this ship apart? Why board it?” asked Sidewinder quietly. “Human-form and hybrid Cylons need atmosphere and pressure, Sidewinder, just like humans do. Get to life support, purge the internal air supply to vacuum, and you can kill off the modern Cylons just like they did to Battlestar crews in the First War.” “Still leaves those new-model Centurions.” “Yes, the Mod-0017s. Unlike the original Centurions, these have a very restricted AI; thanks to the telencephalic inhibitor designed by Father Daniel. It was originally designed to make the Centurions loyal to Daniel, not to the Guardians, but after Daniel’s death, the Ones modified the device to restrict cognitive functioning and prevent the rise of true self-awareness. They turned the modern Centurions into slaves with these implants, ignoring their own history. Even today, from my conversations with Cavil, they do not see the similarity of what they have done with the humans they so despise.” “So, the Seventeens can’t think for themselves—just perform rote tasks?” “It is actually M Zero One Seven and the older ones are M Zero Five; we,” and Sam winced, “the Cylons reserve the singular numbers for human-form models. A bit more sophisticated than that—they obey any human-form absolutely. Without remorse, without hesitation, without any sense of self-preservation. They cannot make new plans, but they are well able to adapt within the confines of their orders. Still, they are nowhere near as dangerous as they would be with the implant removed,” and Sam chuckled. “First thing they would do, in fact, is kill the Ones. And Daniel if they know he is alive.” “What about the Raiders?” “They were designed as less intelligent models—about on the scale of young child—with finely honed lethal instincts. Think of them as very, very smart dogs trained and poised to kill. Outside of their area of specialization, they are almost incapable, but within their established perimeters, they are very smart and quite adaptive to changing conditions,” Sam smiled. “The Raiders have no implant, so they it is possible for them to disobey the human-forms, although I have no memory of that ever happening.” “The next left,” Sam said. “That is the central control room.” “Everything looks the same—no markings, no numbers, how do the Cylons keep it straight?” “You’ve got five spare hours?” Sam said sourly. “Never mind, Mister Anders; we’ll have that discussion back aboard Scorpia—when I buy you a bottle of Necrosia.” “Make it Ambrosia and you’ve got a deal. I hate black beer; it’s like drinking bread.” One of the Marines held up a fist and the small detail halted. Sidewinder could hear a rhythmic thud coming from within—the impact of Centurion feet against the deck. He held up three fingers and the Marines nodded, slipping their weapons off safe. After three seconds, the two Marines at the front crossed in front of the door, their weapons at the shoulder—the heavy rifles spat fire, and then the return fire of the Centurion came back. But the Marines were already behind the far edge of the door. The Centurion came out after them, his forearm guns barking and thundering—but the rest of the team opened fire into his back, and the machine staggered, falling to his knees, and then collapsing on the ground. A third Marine entered the control room and Sidewinder heard the cough of the rifle twice and then a third time before he called out, “Clear!” Sidewinder nodded and Sam holstered his pistol as they entered the room—the Hybrid was dead, but not from bullets. “She is more susceptible to this radiation than I am,” he said as he approached a static filled waterfall column of light. “This is CIC?” Sidewinder asked.“Where are the controls?” “Right here,” Sam answered as he took off a glove and placed his hand within the gel-like substance; his eyes closed and he began to sway. “She suffered greatly and there is tremendous damage—accessing memory archives. Accessing. Accessing. Accessing. Download initiated.” Two more rifle bursts sounded from the corridor—Sidewinder cursed and he motioned to the other Marines. His wireless crackled. “Older models, Sidewinder,” the Marine reported. “Coming in force—but man, they are moving slow.” The neural damage, Sidewinder thought to himself as Sam swayed at the control panel. And then his eyes opened and he pulled his hand free. “I’ve got as much as I could find—we need to get out of here. The hybrid set the self-destruct before her death; this vessel has three minutes left.” “Frack,” muttered Sidewinder. “Marines! We are leaving! Thumper—power up both Raptors for immediate evac. Move like you have a purpose, people!” He moved into the corridor where the Marines were mowing down clearly disoriented Cylons, adding his own pistol fire along with that from Sam. “You couldn’t you know, stop the bloody countdown?” he asked as the two turned and ran, followed by the Marine detail. “I tried, Sidewinder—but the damage was too severe, no one can stop it now.” The two ducked as more fire came from a side passage—and then the Centurion stopped. If scanned Sam with a beam of light from his eye and Sam yelled out, “NO!” to the rest. The Centurion stood at attention. “Stop the Guardians—my mission depends upon it,” Sam ordered, and the Cylon looked past the Marines. It raised both arms and the hands folded back into its forearms, revealing the twin guns and it advanced on the Guardians spitting fire and flame and fury. And it ignored the humans. Sam turned back to Sidewinder and he wiped perspiration from his forehead. “Time to leave, Captain Greene.” “Frack me sideways,” Sidewinder muttered, and then he charged off behind Anders, the Marines trailing behind as the Centurion fought off the Guardians behind them.