Chapter 15

Cyrannus Star system

Caprica, Caprica City

Temple of the Holy Order of Athena

Six One Six One Three Lienis Drive

Approximately one (+) year later

Livia Styomia, High Priestess of Athena, First Priestess of the Gods, First Arbitrator of the Gods of Kobol, and the aunt of Antonius Goesel, current president of the colonies of Kobol, stepped briskly into her private office only to flop down heavily on her couch as no one was looking at her, in what she considered, a very undignified action unbecoming a woman of her stature and position. Anyone who really knew her would instantly see that the woman was angry. Her attendants were wise enough to avoid her at these times. The elder woman was a force of nature at the best of times and at times like these if they could avoid her presence then they did so.

She was a woman of power, a religious icon revered by the majority of the people of the Colonies. Her power was matched only by Cornalus Olylus, the High Priest of the Temple of Zeus. But being the First Acolyte of the Beloved Athena, Livia was more popular and wielded more influence. Hers was a prized position and it was a rare instance when anyone dared to purposely cross her. But, today was an exception. Pursing her lips to keep from saying something that would be considered impolite among her fellow priests and priestesses she went over the morning events in seclusion.

First her nephew contacted her demanding that she come to a secret meeting that he refused to elaborate on over the phone. She was annoyed and was about to berate him concerning proper protocol, but the tone of his voice gave her pause. She knew her nephew well and his professional demeanor had been shaken, so she agreed to accompany him without knowing the true purpose of the meeting. Only a select few people knew of her relationship to the President of the Colonies, and the secret was scrupulously maintained. Goesel was always formal with her, and she with him in nearly all circumstances. The only time did they allow their relations to progress from the profession to the relationship was when they were alone with the assurance that no one could overhear their conversations. Therefore, when he personally contacted her, using her first name and almost imploring her to agree to come, this set her on edge. There was less than an hour for her to get ready so she rushed to get into full priestly regalia before the Presidential limo came to pick her up. The reason for Livia's foul mood however had more to do with the actions of her own people than with the secret meeting the President refuse to discuss with her by phone. It had to do with two letters sent to her by Tyberi Patrenus.

The unintended disaster of the missionary trek to Earth was going to have repercussions that would extend well into the future and she had no idea how bad things were going to get unless she got a handle on things quickly. There were expectations that things would not go according to plan, however nothing could have prepared her for this level of anarchy. That situation was so grave that she might be forced to meet with her counterpart Cornalus to discuss plans to counter what was coming from the Apellai religious upstarts.

With shaking hands, she carefully unfolded the crumbled letter to read it once more.

To our Most Esteemed High Priestess, most Holy Honored of Athena, Queen of the Lords of Kobol, I send my most gracious greetings both to you and the blessed priests and priestesses of the Colonies of Kobol. It has been little more than a year since we arrived here on the Terran world affectionately known as Earth, in the Sol system or in our language, the Apellai star system as you insist we call it. This is my final letter from this amazing, confusing, and most disturbing world that has marked me with more questions than answers. The questions you have asked of me, I am most displeased to say, have not the answers that you and I have wished for.

Instead of spreading the true words of the gods to unify this world and our colonies, I fear that our rediscovery of one another has served only to widen the already huge wedge between our two very different people.

We are not savages but I know that our people would be disturbed by the mere insinuation that the Earth people, a heathen, barbarous world filled with monotheists and alien religions would dare come to our home and lecture us concerning our beliefs of the one true religions. But they did receive us with grace and respect for the most part. However I am forced to conclude that at this time, we, the Colonial people, are not ready to accept them as easily as they accepted us. That is not to say that it has been easy as many of our earlier letters have already attested to. From my experiences however, I must ask myself and the esteem Synod body, if we were to allow the missionaries of Earth to visit our homes, enjoying the same freedoms that the Terrans have graced us with, would it cause unrest and possibly civil war on certain world? I know my answer as it is obvious to anyone who understands our faith and our convictions.

This single world is full of contradictions and subtleties that caught us off guard and has also shown us our weakness both in our missionary approach and dare I include our faith. As you know, I say this not in jest, but with all due seriousness of the heart.

We prepared ourselves through our understanding of the ways of the Colonies, expecting there to be little difference between us and our cousins. I am sad to say that everything we thought we knew served only to expose our follies. This world has challenged us now some of us are returning back to recharge and perhaps contemplate our beliefs verses what we know to be true. This revelation has exposed me to ask a most pressing question. I confess that I have asked myself almost every night since I have sat foot on this world: are the scrolls right?

It is not wise to question the scrolls. Yes we study them, interpret them for the masses, we read them for solace, but do the holy words apply for everyone? Should they? Is Earth require to follow the scrolls so that they may be saved or is there something else we are missing?

In studying with the other priests and learned people of Earth, I am able to compare the similarities between our two religious cultures, but I have also seen differences that I have difficulty reconciling certain beliefs some of which I will explain in this letter later on. It is not only I who struggles with this dilemma but my fellow associates suffered equally.

After the terrorist incident that took the life of one of our beloved brethren and the wounding of another, I was most despondent to the point that I wondered if it were better simply to leave this world in darkness instead of guiding it towards the truth blessed and holy light of the gods. The interview that you've no doubt seen by now in which President Adar, High Priestess Elosha Gale and myself didn't go as intended. To my shock the people of Earth were not overly interested in what we had to say. There were millions all over the world that watched the interview but there were many, many hundreds of millions that were not interested in what we were trying to convey. They were more interested in our culture rather than the gods.

Most honored Livia, I fear this world's truths have contaminated us in ways that I would have never thought possible. Your objections in the previous letter have been noted but I must remain true to what I've seen and I shall repeat myself in this letter for both you and the Synod. I am somewhat ashamed to say that the Earth people are not very concerned with their Colonial cousins and alarmingly, as I've been here observing them, I can almost understand why. Such revelations make me wish I'd never come to this world. I wish I could take back everything I've seen and heard. But, gods help me, I cannot."

From the vast evidence I've seen and the records all of us have read and been privy to shows proof that Earth is, if not the home world of mankind, then it is a home world of our people, humanity. They have so much overwhelming proof that I cannot in good conscious dispute it nor can I pretend that I've not seen it firsthand. If it is a grand forgery then it is one so elaborate that it must have taken decades if not centuries to prepare. I will not go into detail again since you have no doubt already read the evidence that I've sent you and cross checked it with the documents our ambassadors have sent to our government. Let the others deny it as have some of my fellow missionaries, but the truth is our there for all to see.

I do not write of this lightly and I can foresee the difficulties that it will be brought up if the people discover the truth. I can understand why you have chosen not to tell the Colonies or most of our own people of our findings at this time. The upheavals would be disastrous to the people and some members of the quorum would want to wage war against this world if only to justify and hold on to our beliefs that have come into question. Fear is a powerful motivator.

But that is indeed the very problem that we face. The State of the Colonies' speech given by President Goesel was received coolly by the leadership of the nations of Earth. Our attack upon this world has not been forgotten and now their war with the goa'uld lords has weighed upon them, but in my opinion, it is only making them stronger. The other enemies that have been rumored to exist are causing political stress as the goa'uld seems to be of less concern. Please warn our leaders that something is coming and is perhaps already here and we are unaware of it as of yet. To me, this is a frightening thought. I will not go into detail because I don't know of them and such matters should be left to our political leaders to find out as much as possible as soon as possible. As I am focusing on religious matters, it is not my main concern and focusing on it would distract from the main purpose of this letter which focuses on souls and not war.

Many of the Terran countries would not allow us entry ether as missionaries or tourists as they see us as a part of those responsible that tried to irradiate their world. Some countries refused us entry because of our religion. A few countries such as North Korea which is run by a quorum of dictators refused us entry and from what I've heard about that small country I think it is for the best. Several of the countries which practice the religion Islam would have allowed entry but we could not speak of our beliefs to the average person as it was against the law. Because of our limited time here we choose not to go there. So we are limited in what we know of this world. Several countries that practice religions called Buddhism and Hinduism invited us but we didn't have the time to really interact with the religion leadership there. They're polytheists but are nothing like us. Ancestry worship is practiced and accepted in many cultures in this world. From a religious perspective, we could spend a generation here and not fully understand these people and their ways when it comes to religion. It is clear that for a single isolated world separated from their brothers and sisters, Earth is far more complex, more culturally diverse, and more seductive than I even dreamed possible.

We did have the pleasure of travelling to Greece using an old style air transport that in some ways reminded me of home. Basically, the airbus took a little more than a Terran day to get there. It was a very interesting experience as I am used to sub-orbital transport. Like most other parts of Earth arriving in that country was like traveling to another planet. The ecosystems are so different around the globe and it takes time to get used to them. However it felt more like home than any other place we have visited on Earth. I do not refer to the ecosystem but I refer to the culture. It reminded me of small village life on Tauron or Libran. It was here that we uncovered direct evidence of the gods of Kobol being openly worshipped.

It was in this country where we found ourselves in our first true religious dispute with the local population. In this country, the worshippers of the true gods are tiny in number and like us they follow a more traditional approach. I would estimate less than two thousand people among ten billion here on Earth believe in the gods and the numbers are falling! But as we stepped onto thisancient land it was as if we could feel the connection to the gods for the first time here on this planet. What we felt cannot be adequately described in this letter but I will say that each one of us sensed it and were encouraged each in our own way. And the similarity of the spoken language was close enough almost understand. Their dialect evolved in a way different from ours but many of the root words brought an air of familiarity to us. It's so much more civilized than the Englisa language I am slowly learning.

After we settled down, we were so curious about their form of worship that we attended one of the very few temple services dedicated to the gods. The temple was located not too far from what many of the locals consider the birthplace of the belief of the gods that we know and love. According to them, their belief in the gods began more than twenty-five hundred years earlier. Needless to say we were very excited to hear not only that Earth people believed in the true gods but also the time frame. Later we noticed our error but at that time we were elated. It was our initial hope that our presence would provide emotional support and spark a revival hope for the believers of Terran, that they would go forth in boldness and renewed hope and faith that all was not lost. Being in that country did wonders for our own collective esteem.

The services lasted little more than an hour but that was enough. Yes, we believe in the same gods but we have little else in common. Their history of the gods is different from ours. In addition, they have a more detailed history of the gods; more of them are known and the history here is far more colorful. The representation of the gods indicates an indifference by them that differs greatly from our own knowledge and understanding of the gods of Kobol. The gods loved us. Here the people seemed to be blessed if the gods just left them alone. We explained this difference in detail and naturally I offered them a better understanding of the gods. They countered by saying that our history of the gods was commendable but very limited. I considered this proclamation to be an insult and proceeded to instruct them on their erroneous interpretations and these Terrans laughed at me. They took umbrage to my instructions of the truth of the gods.

High Priestess, beloved members of the Synod their knowledge and history of the gods was far more expansive than I first believed. And there are differences in our respective deities. For example, to the Terrans, Hera is the Queen of the gods and is given greater respect than Athena. That was most curious and to some of us, disturbing. We did attempt to correct them in their misunderstanding of the nature of the gods. They of course responded.

Their opinion of us is that we, the Colonies of Kobol, have but a pale version of the gods we worship. They are convinced we have very little knowledge of what the true gods of Olympus were like. Elosha acted as the calming force between our two people. Ursula's intractability might have started a religious war between our two people commonalities notwithstanding.

I left that wonderful country more than a little disheartened. It however brought about a clarity that I now must acknowledge. The people of Earth are not running towards the truth of the gods as I once envisioned. To put it bluntly, theyare as unyielding in their beliefs as we are in ours. These people are happy at their status and with their beliefs. Many have come to learn about our beliefs, only a handful wanted to embrace their ancestral heritage.

As Mothers Elosha and Ursula and I traveled throughout the United States of America, where Americana Englasia is the dominant language, we found that the monotheistic religion called Catholicism, by their traditions, are very similar in the ways we practice our religion. Their home church is located in the country of Italy and one can feel the historic presence that the monotheist center of power holds. The temples and riches of the Catholic power structure is in its way, equal to our Church of Athena in all particulars. I will confess that I was intimidated by the sheer majesty and vastness of their resources at the places called when we were invited to the Vatican in Italy. The place speaks of power and influence. They boast a huge following, perhaps more than a billion Roman Catholics – and yes, they use the world 'Roman' just as we do – that follow every utterance that comes from the Pope. I believe it would take generations if not longer to supplant this religion with our own. Any footholds into their religions by us would be difficult, if not impossible. If we were to conquer Earth and destroy all vestiges of the Catholics, I still believe we would fail and that is only one of their major religions!

Although I don't agree with their beliefs I do understand some of their traditions which can be traced back at least two thousand years. But some of the beliefs such as the three-in one God, or Three-That-Are-One God, or the Trinity I confess eluded my understanding. It was only when we went to the country of Italy and spoke to the head leader of Catholicism whom is called the Pope, did we gain some real understanding of that peculiar contradiction. This country is a fascinating place. In the distant past the Italians as they are called also believed in the god. It is amazing how close yet so different their practices were to our own, but for the exceptions of a very few our religion died out here. Monotheism and war overtook our cousins' beliefs and the cult of Christianity overwhelmed it. This of course is a very simplistic summation of what happened but the details including plagues and corruption have been added to our data packet so that you may read it at your leisure. We visited a temple located not too far from an active volcano the locals call Mount Vesuvius. I must confess it is one of the more intimidating natural wonders on the planet especially when you know its history. It should never be taken for granted, but the people still live near it, confident that either it won't hurt them or that they can get away fast enough if it decides to erupt. The volcano was once worshipped as a power of Jupiter called Jupiter Vesuvius. Jupiter, or Jove, or Diespiter is believed to be identical to the god Zeus so you will understand our joy when we heard of this from the local priest and from our studies of the internet. It was enlightening to say the least.

In my previous letters which caused so much concern among our ranks, I wrote that there are three main branches of the monotheist religion and those religions sprung from the same tree. The first is Judaism. The current belief of one God originated from this core religion. From this religion, Christianity and Islam were developed. Christianity is much closer to Judaism as opposed to Islam. Although Islam claims to follow the same God, according to my research and understanding, this isn't exactly true no matter how much the average Muslim denies it. I would recommend that you re-read the data packets I've sent to you earlier on the origin and differences of the three before you make any assumptions. I've read their religious origins and the differences are very astute.

Because of the strife, and danger in the region where these three religions claim their births, we were unable to visit Israel, the origin of Judaism. They were curious however the people of Islam were angry of our very existence and wished to do us harm. The religious leaders were interested in what we 'aliens' believed but the average person was at the very least indifferent and at most hostile to our cause. They were interested in our culture, not the true faith which they dismissed as false and the more radical sects believe us a threat to Islam.

In the Americas the representatives of Orthodox Judaism and Islam spoke to us at length. It was during these talks held over several weeks that I first began to realize that any attempt to bring them into the light of the gods would be an utter waste of time and effort. Neither are not ready for the truth. They are firmly rooted in their convictions and Ursula and I came back with feelings that these people will not only follow their god until the end of their days. The Orthodox Judaism, serve but not because of love which I found most interesting. This group has a collective fear of the god they worship. They believe that they have been punished by their god countless times for not following his orders and so have developed a very strict code of rules and regulations meant to keep them from incurring his wraith which seems to be ongoing. Ursula believes that it isn't love or respect that these 'chosen' people follow this one god but it is because of fear that they do so. Apparently, this god of theirs punished them so many times because of their evil doings that they are afraid to do anything else but follow their god. Yes, this is a very simplistic explanation but this I can understand. But Christianity, the child of Judaism went the opposite direction from its parent religion.

The splinter group appeared a little more than two thousand years ago and simply put the Christian believer talks to their god directly, no need to have a sanctified priest or priestess pray for them. They can do it themselves without priestly intervention and as such they believe in direct communication with their god and furthermore they expect responses from their god, the very same one that those in Judaism fear. It is my understanding that they believe there is a true, intimate relationship change between their god and man brought on by an intermediary a sort of demi-god.

It is a strange bizarre belief. I do not think that I would want Zeus or Athena personally speaking with me in an informal and continual basis. On the surface it sounds wonderful, however reflecting upon such a situation I would be afraid of such a responsibility. How could I possibly be worth of such an honor? Yet, the Christians take this for granted.

This part of Christian doctrine was better explained to Elosha and me during our talks with Lucy's Terran – now husband whom we met while she was in the hospital. Yes, I know she is now hated, condemned, and many in the Synod consider her a traitor to us, her people, and her gods but I cannot bring myself to hate her for finding some happiness. She was a very unhappy and petty woman when she came to Earth. I do not know why she was picked to come in the first place. I know that you have ordered me never to speak to her again and yes I restrained Ursula from performing the rite of acrsacerfaceium on her as she did to her own daughter. Lucy is her own woman and has all of the rights of Colonial citizenship of Canceron. She is not bound to Gemenon and the Terrans law givers and government would place dire punishments if we did such a thing, diplomatic immunity or not since she is already married. Her choice has its own consequences and she is prepared to live with them and her husband. Has sheturned from her own beliefs? I am unsure and I hesitate to say that she did not reject her gods.

Peyton did explain some of the strange traditions such as the Communion being a form of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a god made man (strange, I agree). We spoke with the Catholics of this strange tradition and their explanation was enlightening. Lucy's husband's explanation was similar but contained subtle differences in the explanation itself. He is part of a Christian Protestant sect and when we asked him to explain his version of communion/ cannibalism, he almost laughed at us. Apparently this god-man was to die shortly and he wanted his followers called disciples to remember his sacrifice. This tradition would help them remember. Lucy's husband expected us to understand that it was a symbolic representation of uniting with someone, not cannibalism. He expected better of us and I admit I was angry at him for dismissing our lack of understanding so callously. But I misunderstood what he was trying to convey. My fellow members of the Synod, translators are not perfect. It was from his explanations that I began to understand that, in his eyes, religion wasn't a tradition or custom but a living breathing way of life involving a personal relationship with his god. They look at their god in ways we've never thought to.

They are insane and yet it makes me wonder. Did the Cylons believe this?

The differences between the religions and their various sub sects has brought up many questions that will affect us in the coming years as we continue to learn more about their religion and culture. Our root religion has produced many variations of our belief system. But the far majority of those variations can be traced directly back to our belief in the gods of Kobol. On Earth, there are so many different religions that have no basis in other religions that it is more than just confounding; it is impossible. If this Thirteen Tribe is the Tribe that originated from Kobol, how could it be possible for it to have so much variation? Then there is the fact that their history can be traced back more than ten thousand years. Their archeological history goes back even further than that and their biological and zoological evidence weighs in their favor of the truth, not ours.

I again stress that I do not come to this observation lightly. I am a priest after the order of Athena. My father and mother are priests as is my brother and my elder sister. I have honored the gods as have my family. My children are following in the order, not because they have to, but they see the devotions in their fathers, and mothers, and uncles and aunts, and grandparents and their relatives and friends and wish to follow in their footsteps. If there is anyone else who has shown more devotion to the gods than my family and myself, then I am hard-pressed to know of them. I speak for the gods and I do their bidding. I have never before questioned the will of the gods until now. I am forced to question my understanding of the universe. Humanity was given the galaxy. Where does it say that in the most holy of scrolls? I know of at least two species of intelligent life that are not human and I ask myself, do they have souls or are they like the Cylons we created? Those machines have no souls but were created by man and spoke of a god they believed in. But what of the other creatures created by the gods? Were they even created by our gods of Kobol? If our gods were so powerful, did they create these non-human races like the goa'uld and Serrakin just to test our resolve and faith? If so, then I have failed because I find my faith lacking an answer. I now question if the gods of Kobol are so powerful, then why did they not manifest themselves to the Terrans in such a way that all the colonies would be united by religion, if not by culture? I am forced to question if the tribe we imagined for so long is indeed a fantasy, or if these people are actually the Thirteenth Tribe?

The mountainous amount of evidence indicates otherwise despite my initial denials. The unpleasant fact is that I question my faith when it comes to them and may step down if I cannot resolve these internal issues that plague me so his past year.

Touching Earth is like touching the surface of a star. We have gotten close enough to be burned and I fear generations will pass before we are able to join together as one people. Our children and grandchildren may come together, but I hold doubt that we will be able to do so. Before any reunion is possible we must learn and then accept that truth. Luke Rhettus insisted on calling the Terrans 'locals'. That was his definition of the people of Earth. Locals. At the time it didn't matter to me as I thought of them in much the same way. I now am convinced that this was a mistake.

By using the word, we were equating these people with our own; small town yokels who supposedly didn't have the knowledge or understanding of the galaxy as a whole. It implied that they were somehow ignorant, barely civilized town folk because they had not been in our glorious presence. I admit that I thought that too. My impression that the Tau'ri were overlords of the poor people of Earth prejudiced my thoughts and subsequently my actions. These people are not poor and oppressed. They are strong and vibrant and becoming stronger every day. Yes, they are in the midst of a technological transition but they are weathering it nicely so far. I could name Colony worlds that could not do half as well when faced with the responsibilities that Earth has.

Our assumptions are a prejudice that we must eradicate if we are to have any relationship with these people. To them, it is we who are local yokels, barely understanding the world around us. It is insulting to think that way however they have seen and experienced things that we have never dreamed of. They have met alien races, gone to war with them, make peace and alliances with them. They have technology, culture, and contacts with other worlds that are so complex that I cannot fully comprehend it all. They have billions of people here with thousands of cultures and languages and religions and economies all located on one tiny world and they have not only have survived those difficulties but have prospered for thousands of years longer than we have lived on the Colonies. It makes me wonder who is the stronger, us with our worlds or them with all that they have?

Mother Gale has decided to remain on Earth to continue her studies of Earth religions. Her heart attack, although very serious was treated by the doctors and she is recovering well. As with so many things Terran medicine is advancing quickly. There was a choice between an artificial or cloned cardiovascular implant. She chose the cloned heart. I'm sure she will not follow in Lucy's path.

Luke wished to stay and continue to play with his precious internet but I decided that he must leave for his health and safety of his soul. I fear that the temptation of technology is too strong and he would lose focus of his purpose of coming here in the first place.

Several of our advocates of the faith, myself included, have already begun their journey home and should arrive in another eight months after reaching Makaria Station. I have heard that a string of stations are being built so I shall assume they will rest during the journey as it is long and taxing. . I am most pleased that we have not abandoned Makaria and the two colony worlds which it protects. Several of our acolytes have chosen to visit there for an extended time to bring the world to the faithful their letting them know that the leadership hasn't abandoned them. While it is true that the station is relatively close to the Terran, or as you continue to insist Apellai star system, our military, as you are well aware, have maintained a quarantine zone keeping all Colonial ships well away from any perceived territories of the Tau'ri. Earth and her allies are very wary of our power and it would be foolish of us to antagonize them as they are capable of handling themselves and need no help from us in any capacity. I wish that this was not so and my greatest wish is that we can find some common ground although I fear that it may not be because of religious unification.

To my most honored servants of the gods, pray for us that the most holy gods shows us the path that we must travel to join our people together–if this is their will.

Patrenus Tyberi

Subspace telegraphs were such an expensive necessity.

Livia held the letter in her trembling hands debating whether to read it once more or tear it into small pieces before anyone else could read it. It brought a feeling of bitterness when she remembered how excited the man was when it was confirmed that he would be one of those travelling to Earth so that the desperate billions there could be persuaded to the true faith of their fathers and of their true world of Kobol. All of that was dust in the wind now. The people of Earth weren't begging to return to the loving embrace of their brothers and sisters. Neither were they interested in saving their souls. In retrospect, she could have seen this wreck coming but the dreams of the coffers overflowing and hundreds of millions of new followers clouded her mind just as it had with Tyberi. Earth wasn't filled with helpless minions filled by the iron fist of the Tau'ri. She knew better but the dream was still there and she was caught up in that falsehood just like everyone else.

Earth was complicated, and if what Tyberi said was true, then that world was more complex than anyone imagined. It didn't matter that the Apellai were telling the truth but it did matter that her people were confirming what was said by their cousins.

Religion was a form of tradition she was comfortable with. Earth people would fight against that control and she wasn't sure how to rein it in. To her, it really didn't matter if this planet was the fabled Thirteen or not. What mattered was how the Synod could bring them into the fold without unnecessary bloodshed. They however were a rebellious people and obviously wouldn't submit to the Synod easily.

Slowly she rubbed her aging face, a subtle but unmistakable sign of her frustration. She wanted to see Earth's people under her control now, not some generations later! The plan was so simple. It turned into anything but. Her own people were the ones swayed! They were ones personally chosen by her. With all of their abilities and knowledge it should have been easy to dominate Earth superstitions. The initial plan was a grand failure for the most part. Now she worried what type of impact would the false religions of Earth have on the Colonies when their own missionaries arrived? Could she even prevent them from coming?

Livia dared not even suggest that to her nephew or the people. The Colonials would be seen as hypocrites by the Apellai. That would be a political embarrassment of epic proportions and worse, it would show that the Colonial people, that she was afraid of their power. Unacceptable! That would send the wrong message. She was concerned, yes, anxious, yes and protective when it came to the souls of her people. Introducing a foreign element would cause instability in the Colonies. Many of the young people were interested in Apellai culture. It was something new and exciting. So many people were heading to the new worlds and therefore closer to the Earth people which as she thought about it, might be one of several motives for so many leaving in the first place. In being at such close proximity to the Apellai it would be only a matter of time before tensions eased and all of them would begin to mingle. The young could easily be turned away from their heritage and the gods of their fathers, and that thought filled her with dread. She had come to realize that the Apellai were the serpents in the grass far deadlier than first anticipated as the letters had proven. The High Priestess was sworn to uphold the traditions of the gods for the greater good of all people but how could she do this in light of the failure of her best and brightest?

There was so much going on and she didn't have time to worry about this. In an hour, the President was due to personally pick her up for the meeting that might well change the course of Colonial history. Ironically, that thought contained no hyperbole and she needed to focus.

The second letter that foolish man sent however made her sick to her stomach and she as glad that Tyberi was not here or she'd strangle the man with her bare hands. Almost unconsciously, she grabbed that letter and read it once more.

Greetings High Priestess:

My personal correspondence concerning our time on Earth is something for your eyes only and would not be appropriate for the others of the Synod to be privy to. What I've written in official channels is not the complete rendition of our year long trek to the new world. It would not due to air our personal business to our colleagues at large.

I know that Ursula has sent several letters criticizing me as leader of the group at every possible moment and I have resented her attitude and actions since we've arrived on Earth. Her knowledge of the holy scrolls is excellent and her knowledge was truly helpful. However, I must question your motivations using her as a spy on our own people. Yes, I know that we handpicked the missionaries that would travel to Earth and yes, I know that I added myself as not only a missionary, but as leader. But, other than our mutual agreement of Elosha and Luke, you chose the others. Now that we are leaving, I will confess that we made terrible errors in our selection as well as assumptions. Ursula's hostility towards many of the religious leaders we encountered was not only obvious but also embarrassing. When we spoke to the Vatican officials, monotheists or not, it was rude of her to dismiss them as if they were some small functionary not worth the time and effort to stand in our presence. Her attitude damaged us in ways that I'm sure will have repercussions far into the future. If it hadn't been for Elosha's temperance we could have well made an enemy of these people.

Now, I freely confess that I came to this world expecting the people of Earth to fall all over us in their attempts to ask for our forgiveness and blessings as they flocked to be converted to the true faith. In our first ten days on this planet that somewhat naïve belief was all but ripped apart. I won't pretend that Earth does not frighten me. It does. I need you to and understand that Earth is as alien as any world that we imagined in our old movies about the Thirteenth Tribe. In our own arrogance, we came here completely unprepared. I was naïve, Antonia Ursula's fear and hostile increased the longer she stayed on Earth. Elosha, the one gem of our group had a heart attack but thank the gods that Terran doctors were able to save her. Lucy fell in love with a monotheistic Baptist, the thing I didn't mention in my public letter is this –when I mentioned that I didn't know if Lucy had turned from her faith, I wasn't truthful. In my talks with Peyton, he told me that his sect doesn't marry outside their Christian faith. If Lucy was Catholic or any of the Christian monotheist faiths, then yes. Lucy is a very determined stiff-necked, hardheaded, woman when it comes to our faith. He and Lucy married so you do the math. That happened within four months of us being here! In retrospect, I should have recognized that something was wrong when the woman started wearing makeup and trying to learn Englisa with a passion.

Don't even consider trying to invalidate their marriage. By Terran civil and religious law, it is legal whether we like it or not. Trying to annul the marriage as Ursula keeps insisting that we do will not work. Our ambassadors had to keep Ursula from physically attacking and trying to lock her in one of the diplomatic quarters as punishment. I don't doubt Ursula's faith, but by the gods, how many people does she have to kill to prove it? Then she writes letters to you blaming me for everything and ignoring her faults.

As you know, Julian survived the attack at the Art museum but lost his leg. The Tau'ri doctors wanted to attach a first generation brain/computer operated limb on him but our own people decided against it since our Colonial Intelligence was paranoid and believed that the leg might be used as a listening or explosive device of some sort. He was also afraid that our government would take it and him. I cannot deny that that fear is somewhat justified. So, the doctors grew him another leg! They're learning how to grow not just organs like Elosha's heart but entire limbs! Julian's happy that the operations was a success but terrified that if he returns home and the truth is found out, he may end up in some sort of experimental lab. The Cylon connection would not be lost by our people if found out.

Dodona, I believe without reservation, is one of the greatest oracles of our time but she is totally addicted to chamalla and coming to Earth only aggravated her addition. The dark chocolate here cut the bitterness of the drug and allowed her to ingest greater amounts.

I guess you didn't know that she had tinnitus (the Terran name) ringing in the ears that slowly increased to the point that we had to take her to the hospital for treatment. Again the doctors here cured her condition but she spent weeks secretly recovering inside the embassy from the additive effects of the chamalla. She still uses it when she thinks no one is watching her. The woman is poisoning herself, religious imperative or not! Only the gods know where she has her drug stashed.

I use these examples to show that every single one of us is affected by the sights and the knowledge of Earth in one form or another. I am sad to say that our original mission was in some ways a failure. We've learned that we have a lot to learn. But in other ways it was a success. We all learned so much about Earth and many of us have faced our doubts and maybe have come out the better for it. Our two cultures have met and we have not killed one another, instead, we talked.

I've seen the evidence here and I believe. They are not the Thirteenth Tribe of legend. They're something I can't explain by reading the scrolls. I do not say that the scroll are wrong, just missing information that we need to uncover and perhaps accept. If I can change, if Dodona, Elosha, Luke and even Ursula can see it, then perhaps you can too.

In my present state of mind I can't come home. I've written to my wife and we both agree. Once I arrive at Makaria, I will continue to one of the Colony worlds and join Iblison there. I am sure he needs help supporting the new colonists there and I will have someone to talk to. He is a smart, knowledgeable man and I am sure his wisdom will benefit me in these coming times. My wife will join me in about eight months and then together we will where we will go and what we will do.

Please think about what I have written. This is not a condemnation of our mission unless you choose to see it that way. I implore you; we must learn from this if we are to finally meet on common ground with our brothers and sisters on Earth and the other worlds who by the way have no memory of the gods of Kobol either.

We're living in a frightening new time. You are our leader and as such, I hope with all my heart that you will listen and lead us through to safety by the will of the gods we serve. Yours sincerely, in service to our loving gods,

Tyberi Patrenus

For Livia, time froze as she slowly folded the second letter and placed it back in its envelope. The electronic copies were already stored safely in her computer and unless someone spent lots of time and effort trying to crack her personal security code the contents were safe for now. After reading Tyberi's second letter for the fourth time she allowed her mind to relax. The feeling of hostility was less pronounced as her rage gave way to a more thoughtful response. In all ways that mattered to her, she considered the second letter viler than the first. That man had insulted her, the gods, the Colonies and her best friend. There was however a small part, a very small part, that agreed with him in all particulars.

Most of all she agreed with his statement that the Terrans were a greater threat than even she anticipated. Their collective ideals, their ways, the way they thought, their approaches to life and their chaotic religions would bring disaster to the entirety of the Colonies if the people were to be exposed to it and left unchecked. She bristled at the thought of the Colonials, the chosen of the gods, not leading the way. Her people should be slowly uniting humanity under the banners of the Colonies and the true gods. However, the Earthers possessed great subversive power. Obviously, the Apellai and the Colonial cultures would influence one another in time, but which one would wield the power and control that she craved for the gods? Would they meet somewhere in the middle?

She didn't think so and truth be told she frowned at that possibility. In her opinion, the Colonies were the dominant culture even if they were temporarily the weaker military force. All of the human worlds needed to unite under the banner of the gods and only then could humanity become what it was meant to be. The question was how to achieve her goals since the adversary was formidable? Military conflict was wasteful and there was no need to go to war she reasoned. Breaking things was easy, the last resort of the ignorant. The challenge here was to convince Earth and its colonies that they wanted to be part of the greater whole, the gods be praised.

Satisfied of her self-confirmation, Livia rededicated herself and her resources to making the dream a reality.

Ultimately, what was perceived by Patrenus as a failure was merely a setback nothing more. The missionaries played their parts and now Livia had a better picture of what she was up against. Allowing a small smile to crease her lips for the first time in several hours, the elder stateswoman thought of the former leader of the missionary group. Poor Father Patrenus never understood his true role in this game; saving souls wasn't the primary purpose of this mission. Yes, it was an important but this entire mission was just a Phase One trial. She needed to know what she would be up against and the missionaries fulfilled their roles admirably.

In his letters, Tyberi wondered why this specific flock was chosen. Maybe one day she'd tell him that they were pawns, some useful, some very important but nonetheless pawns for the greater good of the gods they served, and now that it was over, she needed to analyze the data. Her initial conclusions were depressingly shocking but not unexpected. Earth religions were complicated enough that simply sending missionaries wouldn't guarantee a successful operation despite Tyberi's childlike assumptions. However, by placing untested missionaries in an unfamiliar place surrounded by adversaries and enemies of the faith, she discovered the strengths and weaknesses of her people. And Ursula was the perfect foil to create stress from within. All Livia had to do is ask her to report their ongoing progress, add her personal observations and waited for the woman to run with it. And ran with it, she did to the point of alienating Patrenus and the others. Ursula was Livia dearest friend and a true follower of the Faith, but she didn't know when to stop when it came to her duties. The death of her own daughter by Ursula's hands was proof enough of that. Yes, her people were found wanting but now the High Priestess of Athena had a baseline now, one she could modify to bring about the results she wanted. After all, she admitted that missionary work was a new science for the Colonies. There would be many more trials and errors.

In the service of her gods, her work was never done.

Placing the second letter in her drawer she crumpled the first letter and then tore it to pieces. After all, there was no need for the others to read such a subversive and yes, depressing summation of the mission when she would just relate to them the relevant portions Livia reasoned. It wasn't productive to upset her fellow brothers and sisters with such distasteful news.

Satisfied, she rose from her seat just as one of her attendants knocked softly at the door.

"Enter."

"Most Holy Mother," the young man said bowing slightly. "The limousine is here. The president is waiting.

"Thank you, George. You may attend your other duties. Have my staff attend me."

"Thank you, most Holy Mother, I will" he answered as he turned to leave.

The staff entered and quickly prepared her for the trip. Ten minutes later she was escorted to the limo. The door was opened and she entered and sat next to the President. Besides them was the Secretary of State and the head of the Colonial Intelligence division.

Livia took all of this in after a moment's glance. "What's happened?"

"A first contact with a new race," the President responded after offering his greetings to the High Priestess, his aunt. "We didn't find them," he told her. "They came to us."

The woman's heart started racing. "The Lucian Alliance have found us."

Shaking his head, a grim-looking President Antonius Goesel handed her a packet. In from of it the markings screamed 'Top Secret'.

Quickly, she opened the packet and glanced at the first page.

"Gods protect us…"

The End