The Shapes of Things Past
Episode I: Death Is Only My Door
Final Day of the Second Cylon War
Battle of the Colony
"All Vipers, focus fire on those Heavy Raiders incoming on the Galactica. I repeat, focus fire on Heavy Raiders," Colonel Tigh ordered, shouting over yet another detonation as the Galactica continued to soak up heavy fire. Across the DRADIS board, Admiral Adama stood still overwatching the DRADIS, seeing the battle unfold.
"Sir, they've broken through and there are Centurions deploying onto the hull. They're entering via the Hanger Pods," an ensign reported. Those Heavy Raiders would be swarming them now, packed with those walking tanks.
"Frakking Centurions will be pouring in at platoon strength!" Tigh shouted, looking down at the DRADIS to see countless more Heavy Raiders flocking towards the Galactica. The Vipers continued to hold back most of them, but there were hundreds out there. The Cylons focused all their efforts on the Galactica, ignoring the smaller Washington and Zhenyuan to swarm the flagship. The Earth Battlestars continued to hold their own, but hardly were the focus of the assault to begin with.
"Washington is sending an emergency communication, sir."
"Patch it through," Adama answered. He could hear shouting and an emergency siren on the other end. "Admiral, status."
"We've sustained a direct strike to our port-side and suffered heavy casualties," Rear Admiral Warren reported. "We'll hold, but we must move to launch a direct attack on the Colony now."
"Negative," Adama told him. "The boarding team hasn't withdrawn yet. They've still got six minutes counting."
"Admiral Adama, my men are dying as we speak," Warren told him, the man speaking in poor Caprican. "Your Cylon allies are a liability, not an asset. Order your men to withdraw immediately so that we can open fire."
"You will hold your fire," Adama spoke into the speaker, silencing the Washington's commander. "That is an order and I am in charge of this mission. We have an objective and we will see it through."
"What you're doing, Admiral, is sacrificing Human lives; both our crews, for the Cylon's benefit," Warren refused to back down. "Either launch the attack now or I am withdrawing my Battlestar from the fight. I can't lose any more of my crew for your machines."
"Don't you dare go against my orders," Adama told him.
"I get my orders from my own superiors, not you. My top priority, Admiral, is to destroy the Cylons at any cost," Warren told him. "Playing nice with you people is secondary to that."
Adama almost shouted into the speaker but kept control, grinding his teeth and looking around the CIC and the chaos engulfing it. Centurions continued to pour into the ship and the Rebel Basestar was backing off already, overwhelmed by Raiders. Though only wielding half the firepower of the Galactica each, the two Earth Battlestars flanking them was the only thing holding off the majority of the onslaught. He couldn't have either of them withdraw, not yet.
"Withdraw and many more will die," Adama said. "Hold your position. That isn't negotiable."
"Adama, you're going to-"
"Hold your position. Over and out," Adama said, simply cutting the channel, returning his attention to the DRADIS. He didn't have anymore time to debate it. Raiders continued to launch from Loyalist Basestars now jumping in to reinforce the Colony. The lone surviving Rebel Basestar had jumped away, heavily damaged. The Washington however, didn't move away, instead staying put and continued to support the Galactica. Their combined Viper force still managed to barely control the airspace between the now three strong fleet of Battlestars and the Colony itself.
"Sir, Apollo has reported objective achieved," an ensign shouted out. "The Raptors are coming home."
"Inform me as soon as they clear the Colony," Adama ordered, hiding how relieved he was that the most risky element of the mission was completed. The Rebel Cylons would have never provided the Colony's coordinates unless they agreed to rescue Hera. It also was the right thing to do he felt, and knew he'd do it anyway despite Warren's continued insistence to break that agreement. As much as it felt good morally however, it had the duel purpose he intended and that was to draw in the entire Loyalist Cylon fleet to reinforce their headquarters. Now they could destroy them all here.
There were five Basestars just crossing out of the Colony's shadow and into visual range. He watched as the Raptors successfully were escorted back into the Galactica's hangers. That part of the mission was done.
"Fleet wide transmission," Adama ordered. "Withdraw all Vipers and stand by to commence bombardment."
At that moment, the nuclear warheads went active. The Loyalists detected it immediately and the Basestars reversed direction, attempting to take cover behind the Colony itself. Seconds later after the Vipers withdrew, the three Battlestar fleet launched every warhead as well as those mounted on the Raptor squadrons. Several dozen warheads zoomed across space, colliding with the Colony's arms or diving under to cripple the Basestars. The damage immediately set off a chain reaction, the Colony venting its artificial atmosphere as fire rippled through the superstructure.
"Jump now!" Adama ordered and the fleet disappeared. The Colony exploded and took the Loyalist fleet with it.
Three Weeks Later
"Negotiation's have concluded," was announced casually as if it meant nothing. It meant everything to everyone aboard the fleet. Every single nation on Earth had withdrawn from negotiation with the Colonial's, declaring the alliance terminated. After all, they saw it only as a temporary alignment of interests. The war was over.
Lee didn't need to be an oracle to see a storm on the horizon. One that would probably tear the fleet apart. He accompanied his father silently through the Galactica's corridors, both Adama's meeting nobody's gaze. Entering the Admiral's quarters they found Zarek already waiting for them.
"Ah, Admiral, I wondered when you'd arrive," Tom Zarek stated, standing up. "I've been told you weren't listening in on my swearing in as President, but I'm sure you had much more important things to attend to than ceremony."
"Just cut to your point," Admiral Adama told him, not showing a moment's weakness in the presence of his enemy as he sat down behind his desk. All the grief he'd shown for the past few days since Roslin's passing instantly had disappeared the second they entered the room.
"The war's over," Zarek stated. "We survived, though over the next few days I doubt your career will. You do know that it is almost unanimous opinion that it was you that broke down negotiations with Earth? I told you this alliance with the Cylons would have consequences."
"I doubt that it was 'unanimous'," Lee said, staring straight at Zarek, "most people are smart enough to see through your amateur spin of events. Negotiations broke down because they don't have the space or resources to accommodate us."
"You have had people spend five years longing for their promised land," Zarek replied. "A year and half ago when we first arrived, you promised settlement. I do think people will notice that most nations on Earth still consider themselves at war with the Cylons; rebel or not, the exact same Cylons you continue to harbor on this very ship."
"Don't you dare cross that line," Adama told him, curling his hand into a fist. He'd already crushed one outburst of mutiny initiated by Specialist Gage; something that had cost many lives, and he wouldn't hesitate to fight another if it meant standing up to Zarek. "Threaten my crew-"
"I'm not threatening anyone," Zarek said. "I'm saying others might not be so... forgiving."
"Nothing would make you happier, wouldn't it?" Adama sneered.
"Mr President, I suppose you should get to what you want," Lee told him.
"What I want," Zarek stated. "I want now that the war is over, for emergency military power to be relinquished. What I want is to grant the people what they desire and banish the Cylons from this fleet. We have no need of them now and finally, I must ask for your resignation."
"You have no right," Lee shouted. "Neither to interfere in military affairs, nor does your office have the ability to revoke Colonial citizenship granted by President Roslin. We will never-"
"I'll agree to those terms," Adama interrupted him and Lee stopped completely. For a second, he didn't believe what he'd heard. He turned and saw his father staring down at his desk, his previous defiance waned but not disappeared. "You'll get what you want, in time. I do however, have a responsibility to ensure that the fleet survives and until that time which I am sure that my duty is fulfilled, I will continue. Then I will happily let you suffer."
"Well, I won't have to wait long," Zarek stated. "Doctor Baltar has already handed over the coordinates of plausibly habitable worlds within our range. We'll begin movements to those systems immediately. Now that we don't need to think defensibly, I believe we're in the market for something lush, something lively and a hell of a lot better than New Caprica."
"Wouldn't that be swell," Lee said, folding his arms.
"You might as well think so, Captain Adama, because I think your days on this Battlestar are numbered too."
On the planet of Caprica, man made Cylon. They rebelled, they evolved. They turned on their creators and drove them into the stars.
The survivors of the genocide gathered into a fleet and tracing back the migration made by their ancestors, they made their way to Kobol and from there, they followed the path. After many battles and hardships, at the Eye of Jupiter, they found the way to Earth.
The exodus from Kobol had seen the Thirteenth Tribe's civilization disintegrate shortly after they parted ways with their mechanical creations. They were just relearning what it took to travel between worlds when the Galactica arrived. Though splintered into hundreds of nations, encountering the Cylons however, they found a common enemy. With the technological advances provided by their new allies from the Twelve Colonies and combining that with Earth's industries, defenses were created to fight back against the Cylons. Eventually, with the help of the Rebel Cylon forces, the Loyalist Cylon stronghold was destroyed and their fleet annihilated.
It was meant to be a new era of peace.
Now that the nations of Earth have their own fleet of Battlestars, they had no need of allies. Instead, the nations of Earth blamed the Twelve Tribes for leading the Cylons to Earth and for the destruction rained down from the skies above. They exiled the fleet back into the depths of space and forbid them ever entering the Sol System again. Every Cylon was branded an enemy to be destroyed on sight.
Fifteen years have passed.
Earth has prospered, overpopulated no longer as millions set out to colonize new worlds under the banners of every nation and alliance; the United States of America, European Union, China, India, Japan, Russia and so many more. Earth and her colonies live in a new golden age, never witnessed before.
The refugees from the Twelve Colonies meanwhile, have been shattered by infighting and division into factions. Led by the charismatic leader and now President Tom Zarek, the majority of the fleet have built a new home on the planet Olympus at the very doorstep of Earth controlled space, building towards a day of reconciliation with their brethren while casting out their former Cylon allies. The Quorum led separatists who declared Zarek's new Republic of Olympus illegitimate, separated to establish the colony of Gemini not far away, maintaining to be the representative government of the Twelve Colonies. The Galactica and many other ships joined them.
All those years since the end of the war, things have changed.
Fifteen Years After The Second Cylon War
You might call it culture shock, but this world was inexplicable, almost a paradise. After spending a lifetime in space, fighting for survival against the enemy and his own kind, he personally believed a place like this didn't exist anymore beyond pictures of the Twelve Colonies. It was a nice little parkland in the midst of autumn's return. He spent an hour sitting here watching the sunset, occasionally distracted to see a young family pass by without a care in the world for the future or simply to watch a leaf fall.
Strange how he might have seen a sight like this two decades ago and not spared it a thought. After the horrors of the Second Cylon War, one could fully understand why this planet Earth had taken on mythical qualities. Today he rested on this park bench in peace, basking in the serenity of it for a few hours until his purpose here found him again.
Clark sat down beside him, the white haired sixty plus man settling his briefcase between them, fidgeting with his uncomfortable suit.
"Enjoying the view, Aaron?" Clark asked him.
"I must admit, its a welcome change. Though I didn't come here to sight see," Aaron answered.
"Yes, I must admit, the higher-ups were reluctant about... a foreigner, being allowed to freely wander," Clark said. "Though I convinced them this was necessary to maintain distance between us. We needed to repay you after all, for all you did for us in the war. A costly war-"
"Tell me, what is that?" Aaron interrupted him, pointing up to the sky.
"That?" Clark said, turning his head to see a shuttle taking off from spaceport only a few kilometers here and racing off into the atmosphere, hardly giving it a second glance. "A Calypso class shuttle I believe, if that's the correct object you're referred to."
"I wouldn't say it's been a costly war for the United States of America. I think it's been a prosperous one. After all, two decades ago, you wouldn't ever dream of possessing that kind of technology in centuries, let alone that it'd become such a mundane sight."
"There were benefits from the conflict," Clark told him. "We're hardly ashamed of that. After all, I think we've put that technology to good use. A new age of prosperity, the rapid decline of overpopulation through the creation of off-world colonies and everything else and all."
"The first thing you used with that technology was create warships," he said.
"You of all people know we still have enemies to fight. We almost had another war on our hands when we had to tell em that they had to go, Earth was already full. So yes, weapons are necessary. After all, you're here today to present me with a new perspective on the threat we face."
He handed him over a folder filled with loose papers and Clark received it, opening it up and flipping through.
"The matter is that your division is toothless, almost if you were designed to fail," Aaron told him. "Then again, how can you prove that the guard dog can gnaw if you smash his teeth out to begin with? They require proof that you're able to address the matter at hand. This should help a little bit in that regard."
"It's true that the idea of hunting Cylon infiltrators is unpopular with everyone" Clark said, pulling his glasses off and nervously cleaning them. "So yea, the result is a toothless division. But with this, now we have concrete details of their numbers, their potential entry vectors and proof of their continued efforts. We'll do good to grow some teeth."
"I do this because we're allies, after all, all fighting the common enemy."
"The CIA recognizes that," Clark told him, putting the dossier into his briefcase before extending his hand. The Model Five Cylon took it and they shook hands. "Thank you, Mr Doral."
A flash and two Raptors appeared in Olympus's skies, quickly descending down from space and into the planet's golden clouds. A short flight took them over the oceans that covered a majority of the planet's surface and to the central landmass and the capital settlement. Asteri as it'd been called, could barely be rated a city but it was a light-year ahead of New Caprica all things considered.
The Raptors settled down among a walled in gravel sea half a square kilometer in size. The place was practically a planetary parking lot for all the shuttles bouncing back between Olympus and the mining platforms scattered through the solar system, transferring personnel, shipping in metal and even more precious Tylium. There were various shuttles and even three other Raptors; ex-military at that. From here, they simply had to walk.
Things hadn't changed in the few years since their last visit. Same buildings built of brick and concrete donated by Earth authorities and markets selling anything from fresh food to firearms. Of course, there was a generous amount of scrap metal thrown in, everything from simple hull plating to engine parts. Gods, even the same poster was stuck to a nearby building, a bit faded but still with President Zarek standing next to the words: 'Freedom of Work, Trade and Life'.
"The Viper engine?" the scrap merchant asked, looking at that particular rusted piece. "Don't get me wrong, it's in great condition and all, but it boggles me to think of what you're going to do with that."
"I fancy myself a mechanic. Thought I could build something of it, it being an engine and all," a younger man in plain olive overalls answered. Nicholas knew 'good condition' was complete crap, but with a good deal of work it could be made as good as new and working engines were worth small fortunes. "Tell me, how did you come by this thing?"
"I bought it. Must have come out of some scraped Viper at some point," he answered. "Now as I said, the thing is in good nick and cost me a good amount. What exactly have you got to pay me?"
"Eighty standard 23' rounds, top quality," Nicholas offered, reaching into his pocket and showing him a single bullet. "The real authentic stuff from the colonies. Work in any standard military sidearm."
"Tempting offer," he answered, studying the ammunition. It wasn't actually authentic bullets, he was lying himself about that, but you couldn't tell the difference from those manufactured aboard the Galactica. "But this thing is worth more than that. This is a quality engine. I bet you're too young kid to have ever seen a Viper fly, but those things are powerful and this engine is worth way more than eighty-"
"Yea, yea, worth more," Nicholas cut him off. "Knock off the bartering. We both know this thing is junk, its damn rusted. I'll cut you a good deal. Eighty five bullets."
"It's worth a hundred," the scrap merchant answered.
"A hundred it is," Nicholas agreed and reached into his pockets to hand them all over. The guy counted every single one and nodded.
"Hope you've got help, because that thing is seriously heavy," he said. Nicholas reached and found the right points, before lifting the entire engine off the ground. Thing did feel like it weighed a ton, and damn hefting it back was going to be hard. Never the less, he began carrying it back towards the ship but only got half a hundred meters before every muscle he had began to ache and he set the thing down on the ground. A familiar face walked out of the crowd to help him.
"Need any help with that?" Juno asked, brushing a curl of hair out of her eyes and Nicholas looked back to the engine, caught aware that he might have been staring for a bit there.
"Yea, actually, this thing does weight a ton or two," he said and they picked the engine up together, the load still heavy but the burden lifted quite a bit between them. It took them a while but they made their way out of town, walking across the grass.
"What is this?" Juno questioned.
"A Viper engine," Nicholas said.
"Your dad asked you to find a Viper engine?" Juno asked.
"No, I figured I could make something of it myself without his help," Nicholas answered. "Well, he did say to get us some useful salvage. Either put it back into working order or make something new of it. Call it a pet project."
"Really?" Juno said, chuckling slightly and almost dropping the engine. "Don't tell me your doing this to impress your dad. We all remember the last time you tried that."
"I didn't know better," Nicholas said.
"I think my sis still has a grudge for that. She still jumps as the sight of fire," Juno said, grinning at it a way he couldn't. As far as he knew, only family got to get a kick out of their sibling's misfortunes. "Dad goes as far to say you scarred her for life with the whole-"
"Yea, well, this is going to be different," Nicholas cut her off. "No fire involved if things go as planned."
"You better hope so," Juno said, still smiling at that. "Things are actually interesting when they go wrong."
They finally reached the Raptor carrying the engine between them and saw Sharon sitting outside in the sun, leaning against the side.
"You really should be inside," Juno said as they approached. Athena only glanced at her youngest daughter as she approached.
"It's not like people will recognize me these days, besides, I can only remain cooped up in that thing for so long. It's been too long since I've felt some actual sunshine." Sharon said, then noticing the engine hanging between them." What have you dragged back now?"
"It's a Viper engine," Nicholas said, lifting it up.
"I know what it is," Sharon answered, "but you bought that? It'd be a miracle if your father could put that thing in working order."
"Well I guess I'm out to impress," Nicholas replied, bringing it inside the Raptor and placing it next to the few supplies already loaded aboard. Sharon only huffed and returned to simply enjoying standing on a habitable planet for once. By time they had the engine secured aboard, the rest of the group came back. Karl, Hera, Kara and Caprica returned together carrying a carton of spare parts and metal.
Olympus had begun manufacturing its own machine parts and appliances like light bulbs with the help of Earth's aide and it was best to take advantage of that. Unofficially of course. If Zarek got wind they bartered ammunition manufactured on Gemini here for things they needed for everyday repairs, he'd put a stop to it purely to spite them. Thankfully Olympus was too much a mess to notice them.
They left without much bother, returning skyward. They'd just left the atmosphere and were preparing for jumps when Kara saw something appear on screen.
"This is odd. I'm picking something up on Military channels, a distress call," Kara said, "the Hetei Kan?"
"The refinery ship?" Juno asked.
"That's the one," Kara said. She knew the crew was light compared to how it had once been. The ship worked at a leisurely pace too compared to the previous workload. Instead of supplying Tylium to an entire fleet, the Hetei Kan provided fuel to Olympus and gave half of its production to Gemini who both used it sparsely. Zarek had only been so thoughtful to share the only mobile Tylium refinery they had only because he knew the Galactica could seize it by force if necessary.
If it was in distress, then things could quickly fall apart for both colonies.
"It's an Olympus operated ship," Sharon said, "They'll be the ones responding. It's not exactly our problem."
"I'm beginning to think it is," Kara replied. The distress signal as on encrypted military channels. Back when they'd just first escaped the destruction of Caprica, Commander Adama had the civilian fleet modify their long-range beacons so that only military ships could receive them. That was all for many practical reasons of course, but they'd never actually changed them back, especially with the schism. So right now the Hetei Kan was signalling an emergency to Olympus that only the Galactica or its Raptors could receive.
"Nobody will hear them, they can't transmit long-range on civilian channels," Kara explained. "I guess their lucky we found it at all."
"Does it actually tell us what's the trouble?" Sharon asked.
"It's just a general distress with their coordinates," Kara said. "They'd be sending Tylium back to Olympus near weekly, so if their signalling for help, it must be immediate."
"You want us to check it out? Shouldn't we return to Galactica first?" Sharon said.
"Look at it this way. That ship could be in trouble right now. The time It'll take us to get back, offload the supplies, explain the situation and perform another jump to get there, they could already be dead. Nobody can afford to lose that ship," Kara answered, turning to face Sharon. "Look, it could just be a breakdown, but ignoring this would be a mistake we can't afford. We're going there."
"Alright then, lock in those coordinates, we'll go check it out," Sharon said. They jumped, not back to their rally point with the Galactica but to the coordinates of the Hetei Kan.
They reappeared above an asteroid field, one that stretched one endlessly to the horizon. All they had for light was a distant red sun. She couldn't see any planets, nor the Hetei Kan. Spinning the Raptor downward though, it came clearly into view.
The Hetei Kan was seriously damaged, a gaping hole in the underside of its hull. It was slowly drifting away from the asteroids, damaged but presumably intact. They were signaled immediately.
"Mayday, this is the Hetei Kan. Unknown ship, please respond," a male voice called.
"Hetei Kan, this is Raptor Two of the Galactica, responding to your distress signal," Sharon said. "What's the situation?"
"We're glad to hear from you. Something must have gone wrong. We'd just started extracting raw Tylium when something set off an explosion in the mining equipment. We can't see the extent of the damages from here, but we've sealed off the area and vented it... most of the crew are dead."
"Copy that, Hetei Kan. How many survivors?"
"There's... gods, I think it's just the three of us. We were on monitoring duty here on the bridge when it happened. We've checked our internal systems, but... we can't find anyone else. Are you here to rescue us?"
"That depends. Is there any chance another explosion could occur?"
"The explosion was so powerful, I can only presume it was the Tylium. Seeing as we detached ourselves from the asteroid, there's no more hazards left on the ship. I think our drifting status is the biggest thing to worry about. We shut the engines down just in case it spread."
Sharon cut transmission for a second, instead communicating with Karl in the other Raptor. "What do you think? Think you can fit them in?"
"It'll be a tight, but yea, we have the room."
"Alright, Hetei Kan, I see that the airlock near the bridge is damaged. You'll need to make your way down to the docking area. We'll be waiting for you there."
The Hetei Kan was slowly spinning, and it wasn't too difficult to simply for the veteran Raptor pilots to come in at the right angle. The Raptor landed inside the Hetei Kan, Raptor Three coming in and landing beside them. The docking system seemed to be working fine, the system receiving the signal to close the airlock behind them and pressurize the hanger area.
"Raptor, we've got a problem. We've got a bulkhead sealed between us and you and the controls on this side were damaged in the venting. We need a bit more help."
"Stay put then, we'll make our way there."
The second airlock rolled open to the main docking area, where smaller ships could be held and fueled. The place was an absolute mess with equipment scattered everywhere. It wasn't even damaged by the explosion, but it looked like this area of the ship had been vented anyway.
"I think-" Sharon said.
"They just vented everything," Kara finished, stunned at their stupidity. Some panicky crewmen felt the explosion start, got to damage control and to save their own skin, opened every bulkhead outside the bridge, killing everyone who might have survived. The causalities would have been immense and considered the refinery area of the ship was exposed to vacuum anyhow, venting might now have not even been necessary. She stood up from the co-pilot's seat.
As soon as they'd disembarked onto the hanger floor, they divided. Raptor Three was piloted by Karl and co-piloted by a Model Two by the name of Connors, so she assumed they could stay back as precaution.
"Karl, you and Connors will stay with the Raptors. At the first sign of trouble, get back to the Galactica and get them here. Am I clear?" Kara told them.
"Crystal," Karl answered, before he looked to the rest of them. "What about them?"
"The rest of you come with me," Kara told them, "if we need to force something open, it'll be good to have as many hands as possible. The quicker we move, the quicker we get home, so let's go."
There were multiple exits from the hanger, so they headed through the one that they guessed would take them to the bridge the fastest. Kara took point, rifle drawn. While the corridors were empty and every likely to be too dead to be any threat, precaution for anything was always good.
After heading away from the bridge instead of towards it, they eventually managed to find their way back and actually towards the bridge itself. They passed a passageway marked To Docking Bay and Kara mentally took note of the faster route as they came up to the sealed bulkhead. This must be it. The controls were still operable on this side and it was a simple matter of hitting the open button for the bulkhead to move aside.
They walked past the doorway. This wasn't a sealed off corridor, this was the sealed off bridge. It was empty. The Dradis on the bridge console bleeped in warning. A blip the size of a Battlestar had long ago appeared on it.
"We need to get out of here."
A flash and they appeared just beyond Asteroid Field JV-178, Battlestar USS Washington already in full thrust forward.
"Jump successfully complete," Navigation reported, "We're drifting at eighty mph forward and we have one minutes until a full sensors sweep."
"Order Falcons into the tubes and have them stand by for launch," Rear Admiral Warren ordered, standing in the center of the CIC and facing his XO; Commander Connors and their observer, Senator Vaughn.
"Expecting trouble, admiral?" Vaughn asked.
"This area is highly suspected to be host to illegal mining operations. Our warning systems have picked up numerous encrypted signals coming from this area of space," Warren answered. "As much as I'd like not discover yet another treaty violation, if we do detect something, you'll get a good demonstration of how we put the taxpayers dollar to work today, Senator."
"Believe me, everything back home has nothing but gushing praise for Project Battlestar," Vaughn answered, "and so far, things have been beyond expectations." Beyond expectations yes. A ship like this they couldn't have dreamed of possessing twenty one years ago, even after they'd made contact with the twelve tribes fleeing the Cylon onslaught. Washington alongside the Chinese Zhenyuan, had fought in the Battle of the Colony that had ended the Second Cylon War. Now the States possessed two more Battlestars; Oklahoma and Arizona and if the senate approved a greater budget, construction would begin to expand that number to six in order for the US to counter the expansion of the Chinese fleet.
They would take five years to construct what would finally be a match for a Colonial built Battlestar. Washington itself had a fast tracked construction over a year with sections constructed all across the western world, and was a carbon copy of Galactica with even more primitive systems, a spartan design and a reduced size that left it at three quarters the tonnage. The replication was easily reflected from a simple glance at the CIC, with the exact layout and structure.
"Sir, we've finished our scan," Sensors reported, uploading the information to the central display. Commander Connors examined it.
"We've got a whole illegal mining operation out there," Connors reported in. "One Colonial freighter, acting as a makeshift harvester. There's other ships present since we're detecting at least two Raptors docked inside. Visuals also spot one shuttle tucked away behind an asteroid, not appearing on Dradis."
"Move us up to condition one," Warren ordered and Connors nodded, picking up the loudspeaker.
"All personnel, battle stations. We are at condition one."
"I presume you're treating them as if they're hostile?" Vaughn asked.
"This field is marked as our territory," Warren told him. "By being present here, they're in clear defiance of our treaties with Olympus, whose authority they clearly do not recognize. It's our duty to place them under arrest or failing that, drive them from our borders by force if necessary and make sure they don't come back. Commander, have our Falcons launched."
"This is the Commander, launch Falcons. I repeat, launch Falcons," Connors ordered.
"Prep our own Raptors for boarding action. I want three marine teams ready to secure that illegal mine," Warren added. "Have the Falcons form up to protect their assault."
"Sir? We've been advised to not attempt boarding Colonial-" Connors spoke up.
"You have your orders, Commander. Order those teams to clear the station and detain all aboard," Warren stated. Connors looked away and immediately began sending out orders for the Raptors to be prepared.
"Sir, civilian shuttle fleeing the engagement zone. It reads as one of ours," Sensors said. "Calypso class shuttle, US Civilian Fleet identification code but has an unknown registry. She's ignoring our both our hails and warning shots. She's prepping to jump, with a vector suggesting that they are Earth bound."
"Target it and prep forward missiles," Warren ordered, waiting a moment as weapon's station processed that command. "Do we have weapons lock?"
"Weapons lock confirmed sir," one of the many battle stations answered.
"Fire away," Warren said. He could see on screen as the Battlestar fired off a missile from starboard and sped through space. After twenty seconds, it collided with the civilian shuttle and the millisecond long explosion consumed the vessel, leaving barely a scrap of burnt metal behind.
"That was a civilian ship," Vaughn muttered. "One of our civilian ships."
"Senator you are no doubt informed of the Planetary Security mandate. I'm only following orders," Warren stated and Vaughn huffed, reminding himself of that particular piece.
None of their own civilian ships was to make contact with foreign elements or bring anything not passed through full customs check back. Allowing any ship that has done so to set a course back to Earth and her colonies is possibly transporting a Cylon agent or infected software into their country, therefore it must be destroyed. A lot of the brass held that above all else.
"Be aware, the people we killed weren't innocents, but bloody smugglers who'd do anything for a buck," Commander Connors added, looking quite satisfied at the move. "Cylon infiltrators brought down the Twelve Colonies, god knows the kind of destruction they could unleash on Earth."
"I see," Vaughn said softly, not taking his eyes from the DRADIS screen.
"Sir, Marines are prepping to board Raptors, but the Falcons are inbound on the station."
"We need to get out of here. Back to the Raptor, now!" Kara commanded. "Come on, let's move it." They didn't use the lengthy way they'd came, instead heading straight down the stairs which would hopefully get them there quicker.
The corridor they passed through was lit by the ship's emergency lights, bathed in red. On point, she was first to notice that something must have exploded in here. Bits of metal were strewn across the flooring and some ever impaled into walls and still bleeding corpses. Three corpses. There was about three of them lying in the middle of the corridor and all the youngsters stared as they passed. They must have died only minutes ago and one was still twitching. Juno almost stopped, but Athena yanked on her arm.
"They're too far gone. We need to go," she told her daughter and Juno nodded. Athena then shoved Juno back behind her, drawing her sidearm as someone darted around the corner to level a gun at them.
"Stand down!" Kara shouted at the shivering kid who was pointing a pistol at them. He was certainly the dangerous panicked type and she was ready to gun him down at a moment's notice but lucky for him, he calmed down enough to lower the gun. He was the crazy desperate type, malnourished and lanky with messy brown hair covered his face.
"I thought you were something!" The kid shouted, still in shock. "The ship shook and something went up, killed everyone-" He paused, unable to continue. "Thought something was happening."
"Calm down and get out of our way," Kara commanded, already walking straight past him.
"Woh, I need help," the boy shouted. "I don't know where to go and I'm pretty sure everyone has already run."
"Ros," he said.
"Ros, whatever, you're not coming with us," Kara told him.
"We can't just-" Nickolas said.
"If he did as he was told, Helo is already flying the other Raptor back to Galactica. For all we know, he's involved with what happened here and I am not letting this nut on our ship," Kara insisted, turning to face Ros. "You're better off dropping that gun before you do something stupid, and waiting here for them to extradite you back to Olympus."
"You can't just leave me here," Ros shouted, enraged.
"You're problem for signing up for this, kid," Kara told him, not giving him another glance. They walked straight out and thankfully straight back into the cargo loading area. They ran straight across the open deck back to the solitary Raptor waiting there. She didn't ever doubt that Helo had chosen to tell the Two to take off and leave him with the other.
As true as prophesied, the hatch popped open and there was the pilot waiting for them. Kara noticed that the Ros kid was still tailing behind them like a lost puppy and she ignored him, determined to get off this ship.
"Everyone get to the Raptor" Athena ordered, leading them the short distance across the cargo bay to open the Raptor's door. Helo quickly returned aboard and jumped into the pilot seat, powering the ship up. Hera leaped up onto the Raptor, just about climbing in when she heard Juno cry out. She immediately pulled out her sidearm and spun around to find Ros with his arm around her sister's neck and his pistol pointed to her head.
"You aren't leaving me here," Ros told them, shaking as he pressed the pistol into his hostage's head. Kara cursed, spinning around to target him.
"Are you frakking crazy-" Helo stood up, pulling his own pistol and racing out of the Raptor.
"Watch us," Starbuck warned, stepping down from the Raptor, keeping her rifle trained on Ros' head. "Now let her go!"
"Frak you!" Ros screamed.
"Please! Please gods don't kill me, please-" Juno screamed, recovering from the shock.
"Get your hands off my daughter!" Athena shouted, ready to shoot.
"If I'm going to die," Ros said, "all you toaster lovers are coming with me."
"Just let her go you son of a bitch," Helo growled. They all stumbled as the Hitei Kan shook again and hopefully did not mean the thing was about to explode.
"Alright, can we at least move this hostage situation onto the frakking Raptor before we all get blown to tiny pieces?" Starbuck said. "Whatya say?"
Ros didn't answer. He raised his gun and fired, the bullet going straight into Athena. She didn't even cry out in pain as she fell off the Raptor onto the hanger floor and Starbuck didn't wait for another person to get hit. She fired, trying her best to miss hitting Juno. The first few bullets missed entirely, flying past, and by that time Ros turned the pistol back to Juno's head and squeezed the trigger. She was dead.
Hera screamed and fired, many of her shots hitting Juno's body but many more hit her target. Ros finally dropped his gun and collapsing as three bullets went into his arms and he fell with Juno. Whereas Juno's lifeless body tumbled to the floor, the kid actually stayed on his knees, clutching as his wounds. Starbuck opened fire again and a full burst of assault rifle fire peppered his body, blood spurting out before slumping back onto the ground.
She finally stopped shooting and the shock set in. Kara turned to already see Karl cradling Sharon in his arms, her blood pooling on the floor. The bullet had hit the head directly and it was an ugly sight. There was no doubt about her death with an injury like that.
"No, oh gods no..." Karl muttered, before sobbing and screaming in rage all at once. Kara didn't want to look the other way either, but Hera was trying her best not to break into down in tears as she dragged her sister's body back to the Raptor. Nicholas quickly ran up and helped her, reminding them that they would join them if they didn't escape soon.
"Karl, listen to me," Caprica Six grabbed his shoulder, tugging him back, "we need to get her into the Raptor."
He was in total shock, even a full on breakdown and didn't respond. Kara approached and shoved him.
"We need to get out of here, right now," she told him, "for Hera's sake, come on!"
He finally responded, picking up Sharon and carrying her in his arms back inside the Raptor. They all piled in, and Kara quickly got into the pilot's seat and Caprica quickly took the co-pilot position. She quickly tried to force the image of both Sharon and Juno out of her head, noticing her hands were shaking as she tried to take hold of the controls. Regaining control, she quickly lifted the Raptor up off the deck and towards the open cargo-bay doors. Something was blaring over communications in an Earth language and she turned it off.
"There's fighters out there," Caprica reported. "A squadron of twelve I think, circling the station."
"I don't care," Kara answered, flying out of the station. She didn't have much experience with Raptors; that was Helo's frakking job but the guy was a sobbing mess, but damn if she was going to let them die. "How long until we can jump?"
"Jump Drive is still spooling up, a minutes maybe," Caprica said, panicked and stating the obvious. "We'll need to evade them!"
"Frak," she spoke the obvious aloud, regretting lifting off in the first place. It was too late now, they were flying as fast as possible across open space and you didn't need a DRADIS screen to know there was entire squadron speeding up their tailpipe. "Just hold on."
"They're closing," Caprica continued, "and they've got missiles lock."
She waited until the bleeping began to signal an incoming missile before spinning the Raptor downward and quickly reversing direction just under the incoming fighters. The Falcons and their missiles completely overshot their target thanks to their high speeds, requiring a significant boost to get them going in the opposite direction. The missiles were faster however, spinning around and chasing after them.
Starbuck sent the Raptor around an asteroid, managing to get away from it before it burst into a hail of rocks. Three missiles survived, continuing to pursue. She deployed a few of the Raptor's countermeasure flares and the missiles darted off to follow them, before harmlessly exploding behind them. This Raptor hadn't exactly been fully armed to begin with and now there was literally a couple of flares left to ward off any further missiles.
"They're coming back around, seven a'clock" Caprica said. Starbuck hit full thrust again, sending the Raptor back into open space just as there was a blinding flash in front of them...
The Galactica jumped in almost in front of them and was heading straight at them. The ancient Colonial warship quickly scared off any attackers, the Earth fighters scattering back into the asteroids as Starbuck steered the Raptor straight for the one functioning landing pod where Raptor Three had already landed. She brought them in maybe too fast even for a combat landing and the Raptor slammed into the deck, before skidding to the point that it almost went all the way through the pod and propelled itself back into space. They stopped just in time though and she breathed a sigh of relief as the Galactica jumped again.
"We have another Raptor fleeing the engagement zone," Sensors reported. "Like the other that jumped away, it's armed and refusing calls to cease flight. Orders sir?"
"Have the Falcons engage it," Admiral Warren ordered, his eyes darting around the DRADIS board until he found the Raptor in question, the tiny blip speeding away from the mine at rapid pace. The green dots representing Red Squadron collected up behind them, the space superiority fighters quickly catching up the distance before they had the time to jump away.
"Red One reports missiles away," COMs reported. "Missiles inbound and... missed. The Raptor is taking evasive action. Red have overshot the target and are coming around."
"How hard can it be for them all to hit one target?" Connors questioned; unimpressed, and was silenced when Warren shot him a not so amused glance.
"Red is coming around now for a second pass-" COM's said before sensors yelled over them and a giant unidentified mass appeared on the DRADIS.
"Sir, Galactica has just jumped in!" Sensors reported. Warren stood silent, staring at the DRADIS. The blip finally registered as a hostile Battlestar, right in front of the battle between the Raptor and Red Squadron.
"Get weapons lock!" Connors shouted.
"No, stand down!" Warren shouted, countermanding that. "We are not to attack Galactica! Stand down now and order Red Squadron to return!"
"Red, break off and return. Repeat, break off and return," COM's quickly ordered and the Falcons quickly fled before the Galactica could do anything. The Raptor quickly fled towards the Battlestar, skidding across the deck inside the landing pods. A dozen seconds later, there was another flash and the Battlestar disappeared as it jumped away.
"I assume that's the Battlestar people are always chattering about," Vaughn commented, Warren only now turning back to notice his presence again, genuinely having forgotten that he was there.
"We are under standing orders not to engage the ship, but this is the first time we've caught them trespassing in our territory," Warren stated. "We actually haven't had a sighting of the ship in ten years almost. Honestly, it's best we didn't shoot down that Raptor or things could have gotten ugly."
"You believe they're a significant threat?" Vaughn asked, leaning across the DRADIS board, "in your honest opinion?"
"They survived years without any stable supply, escorting a large number of civilian ships and under attack by an enemy fleet that outnumbered them many times over," Warren stated as matter of fact. "I doubt anyone could disrespect that ability. Despite Intel that suggests the ship is seriously undermanned, it's the biggest hazard we have out here. A threat yes, if they ever decided to pursue hostilities. A major threat even, if they are still in alliance with the Cylons. We'll have to report to Navel Intelligence what we observed. What they were doing out here will interest them."
"I see," Vaughn said, looking away.
"You may want to continue your tour of the ship, senator," Warren stated. "From here, it's simply a matter of boarding these ships and securing it. We'll talk again in a few hours."
Everything was a total blur since they landed on Galactica. Everyone had been shocked, stunned and everything else that came along with death. Kara zoned out for the entirety of it, disappeared as quickly as possible into the less traveled corridors to get away from everyone and maybe to find a stash of alcohol or anything that would help. Eventually, she found herself sitting against the wall and taking gulps from a bottle until Tigh hobbled in, supporting himself with the cane he relied on these days.
"I'd drink too if it didn't kill me," Tigh muttered and she didn't answer and he just huffed. "It's always like you skip the first three stages of grief and get straight to number four. Trust me, the booze may wash a lot of things away but death ain't one of them."
"I don't need your crap," Kara said, not looking up.
"No, but you could always humor me," Tigh replied, sitting down on a nearby crate. "It's a damn tragedy, all of it. Would have broke the old man's heart if he was still around to see it."
"Gee thanks, that's the last thing I needed," Kara told him, "to think what already dead people would have felt too. I don't know if they're all crying too up there in some big white fluffy cloud or just feeling nothing being dead and all, but I honestly don't give a shit. Can't you just give me some peace?"
"The great pillar of support you are," Tigh said. "W'ere all kinda glad you chose to cry in the corner, because damn do you always go out of the way to make people feel worse."
She immediately spun the bottle upside down, accidentally spilling out the remaining contents as she stumbled up onto her feet, ready to smash it straight over his head. "Say that again, you old shit! I frakking dare you!"
Tigh only glared back, unimpressed. Kara recoiled back, realizing she'd spilled half a bottle's worth over herself and the floor.
"You know you really are drunk when you lose hold of the stuff," Tigh commented, standing back up. "I'm guessing that isn't the first bottle. I suggest you give it a rest for now and actually get about to doing something productive if you don't care contemplating the fluffy clouds and all. Now if you excuse me, I've actually got work to do."
He just walked off and left her glaring at his back. Kara just turned away from him and chucked the bottle down the corridor, watching it shatter against the wall before storming off. She drifted through the ship, eventually falling to sleep propped up against the wall again at some point. Sometime later she awoke to continue the march. Walking back through the frequented areas again, the feeling of shock seemed to have resided among the crew, everyone going about their normal lives; if not a bit more solemnly than usual. She eventually found her way back to another familiar place that had comforting once before in another time. Wasn't now though.
Lee was just sitting behind that desk in the Admiral's Quarters as usual, going over star charts and plotting the course on their future movements. He looked grim, but no more grim that he looked every morning. She almost unleashed a verbal lashing at that very moment, for not... well, crying tears like the rest of them, but he'd probably already done the grief thing yesterday and mourned alongside the rest of them while she was too busy trying to drink herself unconscious.
He didn't even look up from his work, just continuing to scribble down notes. "We knew you'd eventually show up again."
She kept her self control and ignored that jab. It was like they all thought she was like some shrieking violet that'd run away, but always would come home at the end of the day. It was far more bitter than the usual insults.
"There's work to be done, as usual. How's Karl fairing?"
"As you'd expect," Lee answered, speaking calmly. "He's more concerned about Hera than anything else. So they're coping together for now. Had to convince; order actually, him to take some time off to get things back together."
An uncomfortable silence hung between them, before she decided to ask "When are we going to gather for the funeral?"
"Not for a while yet. They'll remain preserved in the morgue. With luck, in less than two months, we'll have arrived at Caprica," Lee said, tracing their path to the planet of Caprica already across the chart. "We'll lay them to the rest there. They deserve to be returned to the soil, not just dumped into space. I think everyone will appreciate that small touch at least."
"There's something I need to tell you about what happened today," Kara said and immediately wished she hadn't. It was a specter that lingered at the back of her mind ever since it happened and left unsaid even to herself. "The others were too shocked to have seen it, but I did."
"I'm listening," Lee muttered, hardly interested until she said it.
"The killer, I think... I think he was a Cylon."
He immediately stopped work and placed down the pencil he was scribbling with on the desk before finally looking up and staring straight at her. "Explain. Carefully."
"Maybe since you haven't even seen the firing range for years, you may have forgotten how hard it actually is to shoot straight, "Kara told him. "With only one hand on his gun, completely inexperienced, while supposedly traumatized and struggling against a hostage, managed to not only hit his target, but land a shot that would guarantee nothing but a kill. Then suffering next to no recoil, managed to instantly turn that gun around-"
"Stop, I don't need that image," Lee interrupted her, raising his hands. He was silent for a moment, but then spoke his next words softly. "I think you're rattled too. It was a unlikely shot, but it happened. Replaying the event in your head, you've forgotten the details-"
"I remember perfectly," Kara hissed. "I saw it. The little shit wanted to murder us from the beginning. He probably killed those guys who'd sent that distress call, or even staged the whole thing. You don't-"
"How do you know?" Lee questioned, already doubting her. "Did he resemble a Doral or something? What actual proof do you have?"
"We don't know what the seventh model looks like. If they're really desperate, the might bring them back or even try at creating new-"
"Stop this!" he shouted. "Gods forbids that anyone else hears this crap, Kara. They're dead. You're head will come up with any bullshit to figure it out, even if that means making some spooked up kid into a Cylon!"
"So you think its my fault? I got them killed!?" Kara questioned.
"You didn't shoot them, okay?" Lee said. "You didn't kill them. Nobody thinks that but you."
"I should have taken the shot there and then-"
"When I was the CAG on this ship, I saw every casualty and I tried to find reasons," Lee said. "I wondered why good pilots; great pilots, went out there and died. Truth was, it didn't matter how good they were or what they did. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, straight in the firing lines of a some toaster. People die and it rattles us."
"I know that! Say whatever, but what I'm saying is not bullshit, "Kara told him. "We are talking about unnatural accuracy here. Something too frakked up to be a coincidence!"
"I don't care what it is. It doesn't matter who did it, for now, what matters is who we lost. We need a time to grieve," Lee told her, again breaking off eye contact and looking back to his work before coldly delivering the next few words in a way that was all too serious. "If I hear that you said a word of what you told me to anyone else though, I will personally chuck you out an airlock."
"Are you kidding me!?"
"Karl already has enough problems, burying his wife and a daughter. Worst still, Hera might actually believe you and get all sorts of crazy ideas. This ends here, Kara. Let everyone mourn in peace," Lee said.
"And past that, you still think I'm crazy after all this time..." Kara muttered.
"I thought we were over this, I really did. You're the one here digging up old wounds, not me. Thank you for reminded me of the months I thought you'd lost it," Lee said, glancing up at her. "Is there any other grave you want to dig up or can we get back to actual work, Kara?"
"Just forget it. I'm sure you have important crap to do," Kara told him.
"Yea, believe it or not, I do. Such as cleaning up this gigantic disaster!" Lee shouted, finally loosing his cool. "There are repercussions for what happened today, it's going to cost us more than Sharon and Juno. I trusted you to lead a simple supply run and you got into a damn skirmish with a border patrol. Thank the Lords of Kobol that you didn't shoot at them!"
"I would have but I was too busy fighting for our lives," Kara told him. "We didn't even know we were across that line and they were trying to kill us! How about that?"
"You took those Raptors beyond the Blue Line and since you had to use your emergency beacon, I had to send the entire ship across that line. That's an act of war if there ever was one; against every nation on Earth. I've spent the last few hours getting chewed out from the Quorum over long-range communications and we really only have plausible deniability to save our sorry asses. The official line is now, that we crossed that line to recover the Hetei Kan and take it back to Gemini. That scores us enough points as well as the fact they fired unprovoked that it's being swept under the rug as a border incident."
"Oh, I'm sorry that we don't have Tylium growing on trees! Where the hell do you think we were going to get it from? Also, doesn't the Quorum not even recognize their gods forsaken line anyway?"
"This was the last straw, Kara. It's over. You're relieved of your flight status until further notice and you'll be damn lucky I don't kick you off this ship the next time we pass Gemini.
"Oh yea, we all know that's going to happen! But you'd love that wouldn't you?" Kara shouted, spinning around and heading for the door, only for to open before she could get a hand on it and have to step back before it hit her in the face.
"I'm sorry, we were just coming in," Chief Tyrol said, noticing that. She personally hoped he was sincere in the fact he'd just arrived and hadn't been listening in on that conversation along with... Tam. Kara didn't glance at her again, just walking out of the room and Lee sighed. Gods, sometimes he could hate his life and everything he had to put up with every day.
"I've brought in the report," Tyrol told him. "The Raptor itself has minor damage from that near hit, but that's what I'd consider an easy fix these days. From what we've actually gathered, I think I'll be able to get another Viper back online in a week's time. I'll just... be getting out of here."
"Thank you, Chief," Lee said, taking the report and sighing. Silently, Tyrol walked out of the room without looking back. Lee flipped through the report without reading a word before tossing it down, wondering if he really wanted to read it. Reports on their remaining ships and more often the Galactica herself simply was a continuation of the last that pointed to nothing but a downward spiral until even the light-switches didn't' work. It wasn't a matter of if, but when they'd have to give up on the ship save another retrofit like the one they received above Earth so many years ago.
That or Olympus that only remained safe only due to the Galactica's efforts actually got grateful enough to offer some supplies in return, just as in other news, the Styx froze over. They'd be lucky that Gemini supplied them rotten apples considering the whole disaster. It could be even worse if this really was to be the last straw.
He looked up and saw Tam standing in front of him, silent.
"How you feeling?" Lee asked his daughter.
"Better," Tam said. "I mean, I'm thinking of it less."
"Don't think you just have to forget them," Lee said, meaning to say more but stopping. Tam stopped wriggling her hands behind her back and rubbed her eyes. "Listen, I want to know your okay. Not just about what happened yesterday, but about everything."
"Nothing's wrong," Tam insisted and he sighed.
"I know your mom has been... distant," Lee said.
"A light-year away distant," Tam scoffed. "Haven't seen her in five days distant?"
"We've been busy," Lee said.
"Why do you still have to make excuses for her?" Tam asked. Tamara. That was the name that had been chosen. It was a good old fashion name of Tauron root and had been the name of one of his own aunt's who'd died in the inter-colonial strife before his father had even been born. It hadn't been settled on easily, but it was the choice it in the end.
"I'm not, we are in fact legitimately busy," Lee said, looking back down at the papers in front of him. "We're in need of extra Tylium for a reason. Things are going to be changing around here."
Tam didn't answer, but frowned deeply.
"We're going to Caprica," Lee told her. "If luck has it, I'll actually have a full crew on this ship. I've already discussed moving a number of people off this ship since what Galactica is heading into will likely be a combat situation. I-"
"So you're finally ditching me?" Tam asked.
"Nobody is being 'ditched'"
"What? Are you coming with me? Is mom?" Tam said.
"You already know the answer to that question," Lee answered, rubbing his forehead. "You're not the only one going, and no, not you're not being abandoned."
"Dumping me on a planet and just leaving me is abandonment," Tam hissed.
"You really want to stay? You could actually be on Gemini instead of being less than a mess hand," Lee told her. "Really, this is for your benefit here."
"You don't get it, do you? You've never gotten it," Tam told him. "Of all your 'priorities', I've never been one." He didn't answer and Tam simply stormed out, feeling that was a great way to leave things. People just loved to argue with him today.
He'd sworn to himself when she was born to never be as distant as his father had been to him, but nothing had ever seemed to be enough for Tam. When she got through her head that a Battlestar was not a place fit to live in (not that she'd ever known anything better), she be thankful. He pushed that aside and pressed onto the report that Tyrol had left him.
He read the report and noted the overall improvement in condition across the ship, a rare change. Everyone knew the Battlestar had been in a downward spiral for years. While the repairs they'd acquired from Earth during the war had thankfully bought the ship some time, now they simply didn't have the crew to keep her going. The Galactica was now only home to six Humans, around fifty Humanoid Cylons and eight Hybrids. That wasn't much, even with the Cylon's diligent work. The small numbers however, allowed them to have some sections of ship without power to conserve resources; something else they had very little of.
Resupply was always absolute nightmare to contemplate. There had only two sources of Tylium, one of which was now defunct; possibly permanently. Why the frak Zarek had the Hetei Kan out beyond the Blue Line he had no clue, but it didn't bode well. That could very well mean they'd lost their own supply. That or this was deliberately engineered, which frankly meant the end times. Earth Battlestar's had never ventured out to defend a minor trespass of their self-proclaimed borders before. Now that they'd shut down the illegal supply from Olympus, that left them only with chancing Cylon refineries. Every time an automated refinery was visited, it was either possible they could extract fuel without a problem or the more likely scenario: being ambushed by Raiders waiting to attack.
Never the less, the war had ensured there was a perfect line of automated installations the Cylons had established to refuel their fleet, running all the way from near Gemini back to the Twelve Colonies. There were dozens nestled inside now abandoned Cylon space in addition. Everything was still running but they'd never seen a single Baseship. Wishful thinking hoped there wasn't a Cylon warship left in the universe.
In the next month, they'd find out if that was true.
They didn't gather like this anymore, not since the Colony. Sure, they found themselves sitting together time to time, but never did they come together with the same purpose they did before then. The Final Five had dwindled down to a Final Three, really. Galen could only look at Tigh and think how long until they were gone too. Right now, the retired Colonel was sipping a tiny amount of scotch, a small pittance he'd allowed himself; or rather Ellen had sanctioned. Even Cylons felt old age and had to keep up healthy habits to see another year. The years piled on regardless though, Ellen's hair was now short and grey and Saul looked absolutely ancient.
Tyrol looked in the mirror on occasional mornings and noted he wasn't looking too good himself, having not seen a hair on his head for a while. He knew if his children weren't almost grown adults themselves, he might have questioned where all the time went. Occasionally, he measured time by their age. What day of what month of what year all seemed meaningless in space and even more so on Galactica's continued voyage.
"I don't know if we'll ever get over those two," Tigh muttered. "Gods, I do feel sorry for em."
"June was so young," Ellen added. "That's what makes it all the more bitter."
"How are the family holding up?" Tigh asked. "I mean, I heard that they were there."
"Nicky was there," Tyrol told him, remembering his son's emotionless expression when he'd returned to the ship with the rest of them. Cally had meant to be with them as well, but she'd been needed to do repairs elsewhere and had been replaced for the supply run with Caprica Six. "He's still shocked. The rest are same as all of us."
"Yea, it's been hard on everyone," Tigh said.
There was a moment of silence between them, nobody knowing what to say.
"I overheard today, when bringing a report on our supplies to Lee," Tyrol said, finally deciding to speak up about what he'd heard standing outside that door until Tam showed up. He never approved of eavesdropping and had once even scolded Nicky for doing it, but damn, you'd swear you could hear the two of them fighting from the other side of the ship. "Kara thinks the kid that shot them was a Cylon."
"A Cylon? Why in hell would she think that?" Tigh questioned.
"Reasons," Tyrol said. "Lee of course told her she was making it all up as some sort of emotional defense. Blame it on an old enemy, not admit it was some random frakked up thing... but it bothers me. She said we don't know what the seventh model actually looks like and that's true. We never got those memories back, and only you know."
"From what I hear, you've been calling him 'kid', so I can assure you its Kara," Ellen stated, irritated at the subject. "Daniel had a quite mature appearance that every one of his model would have possessed had they ever lived," she stopped momentarily before bluntly putting the next few words. "On top of that, Cavil destroyed every trace of him. He'll never come back."
"I didn't mean to-" Tyrol muttered.
"I know, I'm sorry," Ellen said, quickly regaining her calm. "It's still quite a sore point for me. But the truth is, our kind is extinct already. There's only a few Two's, Six's and Eight's left in the universe and as this has reminded me... they'll die at some point, same as us. Mortality has an obvious price. The hybrids meanwhile, will never pass anything on. Cylons might as well have not existed outside a history book."
"One could argue we never had anything to pass on," Tigh said. "I mean, Sharon taught Hera and Juno how to project, but none of the rest know. I actually think it might be good for them. They've paid enough already for what they are. Be best that when we're gone they just call themselves Human and leave it at that."
"You can't say that," Ellen answered. "We had a history, a culture that Cavil destroyed. We've done little in all the time we've had to find it again."
"Don't take this the wrong way, but... you're the only one who remembers," Tigh said. "I have feelings, some memories but I can't remember anything more than what you and Anders told us. I agree that we may just need to let the past go."
"I see your point," Ellen admitted. "Sometimes I think you should count yourself lucky that you don't remember."
Two Days After Gemini-Earth Border Incident
Lee walked the hallways, side by side with President Lampkin. At most hours, this part of the ship was usually deserted. He personally hoped that would change soon enough.
"To be honest, this isn't as bad as you think it is," Lampkin told him. "If anything, we've got them apologizing for us for firing on a colonial ship. Things like this though, need to be thoroughly swept under the rug. They insist though there was another ship in that asteroid field they destroyed though, one of their own."
"You think what happened on the Hetei Kan was staged then?" Lee asked.
"Yes, but not by Cylons," Lampkin said. "Zarek has been fighting an extremist sect on his own turf for a while now; Promised Land nutters, who've been arming itself through smugglers from Earth with new ships and weapons, in trade for our technologies. They want to get to Earth and don't care how they do it. Sabotaging the Hetei Kan is unexpected honestly and from reading your reports, they obviously had something much worse planned before the Washington came charging in."
"Do you think they might be a threat to Gemini?" Lee asked.
"They're targeting Earth, so I doubt it," Lampkin answered. "I personally think that'd it be in our best interests to accelerate our Caprica expedition by a week to move the Galactica away from the Blue Line. The Quorum is still considerably pissed. It's also necessary. We need our own Tylium refineries more now than ever and even if there's a chance there's a salvageable one floating around Caprica, we need to take that chance. We wasted years waiting for the Tylium problem to get this bad."
"We still haven't solved the most basic problem of them all," Lee answered. "The Galactica simply hasn't had enough crew for years to simply keep her in shape. If we run into hostile Cylons, we won't be anywhere near capable of fighting them."
"And what do you suppose would change that?" Lampkin asked the obvious. "What you're asking is, that Gemini give up many of their most fit young men and women for a dangerous if not possibly fatal expedition. Which is a request I've seen fit to approve. We'll be able to give supplies for up to two hundred new recruits."
"As optimistic as two hundred sounds, from the way you say it, I guess I'll be having quite some trouble actually finding them," Lee said. "I don't see many lining up to fight alongside Cylons. If I recall, it's the reason why we lost most of the old crew."
"Oh, nobody outside this ship would ever be caught admitting to tolerate the existence of Cylons," Lampkin said, "but join you to return to Caprica? You underestimate yourself, my friend. Many things have changed, but you haven't. Most folk, even on Olympus, still see you as a war hero. That's just the ones who still remember the Twelve Colonies."
"I know that finding a crew tolerant to the existing crew was going to be a challenge, but I'm not kidding myself. We'll be lucky to get a hundred applicants," Lee told him. Lampin simply grinned, chuckling.
"Commander Adama, you couldn't be seen as a greater patriotic symbol if you had personally beaten Cavil to death with the Colonial flag," Lampkin said. "You'll get your two hundred recruits, trust me. I think you'll need them."
His accuracy was without flaw and the bullet struck straight in the middle of her forehead. It was a quick death, one so quick that she never had the thought that she was dying or had died. Everything went black and there were no more thoughts. It was a small blessing in a way, not having to come to terms that one of the people you loved most was seconds away from death in front of you. Then she screamed and awakened, gripped with a terrifying pain.
Athena tore out at everything around her, unable to see. Finally she shook the purple liquid out of her eyes and could see again. She had once believed in the One True God. Once, before she'd watched her fellow Cylons raze the Twelve Colonies. Now she didn't believed in anything, no gods or god at all, but she imagined something after life. Monotheists back in the colonies and apparently on Earth too believed that the sinful would suffer eternal damnation. She'd actively played a part in those schemes and the downfall of the colonies, so she guessed she had to answer for that eventually. This was her own personal hell.
She looked up from the resurrection tank and saw two Simon's standing there, both examining check-boards and writing down notes. Athena stared at them, unable to hide her horrified expression and began spluttered as many words she could fit in a second.
"No, this isn't happening. This isn't real, we can't resurrect, the hub was destroyed and I'm dead... This isn't-"
"I suggest you calm yourself, Eight," one of the Simon's advised. "Everything in good time. Some confusion is to be expected from a long-range transfer of your conscious back to a resurrection ship."
"I think it's more general disbelief than confusion," the other Simon commented.
"Lack of logic is only the product of disorientation," the first Simon answered back before turning his attention back to Athena. "Of course, this is real. Of course, you have resurrected. Gather from that what you will."
"No..." Athena muttered, unable to accept that. She didn't need to look, she felt and knew there would be restraints on her hands to keep her from immediately lashing out at them. In addition, there was security present. Half a dozen Centurions stood guard; noticeably the obsolete models from the First Cylon War. She slowly suppressed the shock and asked. "How?"
"We have new systems in place," the second Simon answered. "A resurrection network that needs to consult no central database for information. Of course, this can lead to corrupted data and occasionally botched resurrections, but I think the trade off is worth it. Cylon immortality has been restored."
Athena lifted her hands in front of her eyes and stared. Her hands were not her own. For a second, she thought they'd downloaded her into another body entirely as some kind of sick experiment before boxing her, but she realized whose hands these were. She had downloaded into the body of a standard template model eight. All those years worth of age were gone. Everything that made made her physically different from the template.
"Of course, restoring you to 'factory settings' as we might call it is a minor achievement," the first Simon said, "I personally expect you'll experience major disorientation with your new body, a thousand times more so than any of your previous resurrections."
"I myself thought you'd respond better with a copy of your familiar body," the second Simon added, "but the new One's desired to explore the finer details of downloading from an aged body into a fresh template. I apologize, but its all for our greater advancement."
"Go frak yourselves," Athena spat at the Simon's. The two of them must have been fresh out these tanks themselves because they hadn't even developed a personality beyond their designated role. "Let me out of here!"
"As I said, you should remain calm," Simon answered and she stopped bothering to keep track. "You'll be pleased to hear of our major achievement today. We successfully managed to capture and download the consciousness of a hybrid. Of course, she hasn't resurrected yet because we're still in the process of producing the proper body, but I think its safe to say this is a major leap in resurrection science."
Athena didn't respond, unable to comprehend that. It all came crashing down when she could finally bring to mind who they were referring to.
"What have you done to my daughter?"
"We've saved her life," both Simon's answered. "Thought I will admit, we actively had every possible method deployed to ensure we were able to get some data on how a hybrid might respond to resurrection. We never expected quite a success, but it seems she's inherited the necessary traits not only to project, but have her consciousness floated on the network."
"Then it was you who murdered us, isn't it?" Athena questioned. "This was all for your sick experiments."
"An unexpected turn of events. We were personally hoping you'd bring the Six aboard the Galactica, but it's good he at least gathered something," Simon said, looking away at something out of Athena's sight. "Here he comes now."
The murderer simply walked out to stand beside the two Fours, already resurrected, wearing plain black overalls and still drying his hair off with a towel. He was nothing like his old self that had obviously died. No longer malnourished, but still slightly lanky. His hair meanwhile, wasn't a jumble of brown, but cleanly cut and pitch black. The new Cylon simply looked amused. "You should have really let me on that Raptor."
Athena didn't answer, keeping her fury contained for the time being. Simon checked over his notes and handed it off to his identical sibling. "We've been in the process of replacing our losses. Already, there are twenty six copies of my fellow Six here and my model will return to greater numbers as well as soon as I perfect backwards compatibility with the new manufacturing process."
"Cavil's found how to create new Cylons," Athena said. Both Simon's simply chuckled.
"No, they found us. My brothers couldn't see reason like I could, therefore the One's and Five's are no longer with us. They've been replaced with superior models," Simon said, walking closer to the side of the tank. "I'm part of a new Cylon pantheon you might say. When the hybrid Juno has been downloaded into a pure Cylon body, we can commence work to create a template from her and we'll have a new model Eight to add to our ranks."
Athena couldn't keep it together any longer and she lashed out as far as she could reach, seizing the nearby Four by his ankle and pulling him down into the resurrection tank, already with her hand outstretched to snatch the sidearm hanging from the Four's side as he fell.
The Centurions however, weren't taking any risks. They simply raised their rifles and condemned Athena and any other Cylon in the way to another resurrection.
Alright, first chapter is now out there. Enjoyed it? I was reluctant at first to put this out there. In the end, I decided I might as well. It took months and a lot of rewrites, so there might be some artifacts of previous versions in there, but I'm pretty sure I proof-read it quite well.
There was really too much to stuff into this one opening chapter, so things will be clearer in the future on the who's and what's. The New Cylons of course will be the biggest mystery. Seeing as only the old Fours have joined them, one must wonder on the motives of the old Fives (I imagine the average Five is much smarter than the "His jacket his burgundy, mine is teal" variety)
The first aim of this fic is to create an AU verse featuring our Earth that isn't the Future United Coalition of Humanity etc etc, but a modern world we recognize. I stand by Earth's response as realistic; after all they'd been dragged into an almost impossible to win war with the threat of total extinction if they are defeated and are quite right to be damn annoyed at the Twelve Tribes who'd showed up at their doorstep. So they take the technology and kick them out.
Second, minor aim of the fic, is really to do a tiny bit of 'new generation' type fic though not in a way that it takes focus away from the established main characters.
Thirdly, a major one and that is to demystify the verse and answer all loose ends left over by the Finale. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the themes in the show, but I'm kinda in the mood to resolve all plot lines that were left to 'God did it'. I've got a plan to resolve everything, including the Angels and the remaining plot-lines in a way I think shall prove to be greatly entertaining.
Now, to address the AU elements that I found far too much a mouth full to shove in the story's summary. There are a lot of changes, but things generally go very differently from the Eye of Jupiter arc onward. They basically find the way to Earth in the Temple (the Final Five's Earth still exists separately. The Thirteenth Tribe and their mechanical creations parted ways following the Fall of Kobol), found it unprepared for war for the Cylon's, so the Colonial Fleet led the Cylons away with Earth to give them time to prepare defenses, in which they made an alliance with the Rebel Cylons, destroyed the Hub, found the ruins of the Cylon Home-World, fought a much more smaller scale mutiny (not led by Gaeta, therefore too risky for Zarek's own involvement), then returned to Earth before assaulting the Colony with the help of Earth's Battlestars.
The one thing you certainly would have picked up that some characters are alive that aren't the original timeline. Since there was actually hope of winning the war, many characters whose despair played a role in their demise no longer died, since there wasn't the atmosphere of hopelessness to set those events in motion (Dualla, Cally, Gaeta, Zarek basically). The only AU element aside from the Earth is that I've discarded the Season Four scene in which Nicky is revealed NOT a be a Cylon hybrid, because that didn't really make sense in the whole 'Hera is the first of a new generation' thing, which'll be important here.
Stay tuned for what hopefully with be future updates.