Chapter 12

After the crew of the Galactica had turned in for sleep, Commander Adama led Kara Thrace and Lee Adama to the landing bay to see Apollo and Starbuck off in the shuttle on the secret mission.

The commander handed his son, Apollo a letter sealed in the envelope, "You must ensure the leaders of Earth get this letter."

He graciously took the letter, "I will father."

Adama's blue eyes locked onto his son. He didn't wish to send him away for he feared the mission would fail and he would never see him again. But at the same time not only did the fate of the fleet rest upon his shoulder's but Earth as well. He gulped, "Take care, son."

"I won't let you down, father." he assured him.

"I know you won't," he gave a nod.

Apollo looked at Lee and Kara. "You two take care of the fleet while we are gone."

Kara smiled, "We will."

Lee held out a hand, "I'll be following your lead. Greenbean and Boomer are safe with me."

"I know they will be," he replied shaking Lee's hand.

Starbuck grinned at Kara, "Be nice to Cassiopeia while I'm gone."

Kara chuckled, "Right! What about your other girlfriend? Athena?"

"Be nice to her too," he insisted.

Lee smirked, "You realize that you're his third girlfriend according the guys, Kara."

She kidded, "I thought I was his protégée and he was making into the female version of him."

Starbuck smirked, "Ya are, kid."

"Thanks," she rolled her eyes. She then reached up around her neck and removed her dog tags. She placed the article around Starbuck's neck. "More proof if you need it."

"I thought you were giving me a present," he grinned back at her.

"I am," she replied and then hugged him tight.

He squeezed her for a moment and then gently released her grip, "Be good."

She pointed a finger at him, "You too!"

Apollo asked his partner, "Ready?"

"As I'll ever be," he replied.

"See ya when you get back," Kara told Apollo and then hugged him gently.

He gave a slight embrace, "We'll be back soon." He then turned and led Starbuck into the shuttle as his father than their friends from Earth stepped back and watched as they readied for flight.

Starbuck took the co-pilot's seat and pushed the lever that closed the shuttle door behind them. He looked out the window, "What do you think Earth will be like?"

"It should be similar to the twelve colonies," he replied taking the pilot's seat.

"I suppose," he agreed. Then cocked his head, "What do you think Vegas is like?"

Apollo smirked, "Doesn't matter! I have strict orders to keep you out of it."

"But it's an entire city full of casinos," countered Starbuck.

"Which is why I have to keep you out of it," rebutted Apollo. He looked at his friend, "Ready for liftoff!"

"Ready," he took a deep breath. "I just hope Lee's invention gets us there."

"If we get stranded like he did it's not gonna matter if we never see Vegas," he agreed.

"I really want to see Vegas," Starbuck confessed.

Apollo smirked, "That's against direct orders."

"Who is gonna know?" he asked.

"Me," he reminded him. He took the controls and the shuttle lifted off the bay floor. He maneuvered it out the bay door and into space. As they continued through the fleet Starbuck complained.

"Just one trip," he pleaded.

"No!" he shook his head.

"Oh' for the Lords' of Kobol," he huffed.

"Nope," Apollo shook his head amused.

Starbuck then wondered, "What do they use for cubits?"

Apollo replied, "Something called money. Lee gave me his incase we need it."

"Who do we give that letter too?" asked Starbuck.

"Lee's father," he replied. "He's a General and will give it to the leaders."

"Sounds like a nice, smooth plan." Starbuck noted.

They left the fleet and behind and continued into deep space.

Apollo noted, "According the sensors we should find a string that can bring us to Earth soon."

Starbuck added, "I can't believe we are actually looking for these things! Usually strings are bad news."

"In this case they are good," countered Apollo.

Starbuck asked, "How long do you think it will take us to get to Earth?"

"Lee said it should take seconds," Apollo replied. He then converted the measurement, "Microns."

"Microns," Starbuck wasn't sure if that was even possible. The sensor lit up, "We got it!"

"Engaging engine," Apollo pulled another lever.

Before them the space seemed to warp and contour and then a spectrum of colors flashed by in mere seconds. They then came off the cosmic string and suddenly were looking at a round blue planet with swirling clouds.

Starbuck asked, "Is that Earth?"

Apollo wasn't sure and stated, "We will find out." He opened the microphone and made a call, "This is shuttle craft ten to NASA." He used the instructions to hail NASA given to him by Lee and Kara.

He paused and waited for any response.

Starbuck double checked the frequency, "It's set to the right frequency."

Apollo repeated the hail, "This is shuttle craft ten to NASA."

A voice crackled over the receiver, "This is Houston. Can you please repeat?"

"This is shuttle craft ten," Apollo replied. "We are trying to contact NASA." He figured they had failed for Houston was not something he was warned about.

"This is NASA," the voice replied. "This is Houston Control. Can you please identify yourself?"

"This is shuttle craft ten," Apollo stated relived.

"Shuttle Craft Ten we do not see you on RADAR. Please relay your current position."

"We are entering high orbit," he stated as they started to descend.

There was another pause and then voice asked, "Can you repeat that?"

"We are entering high orbit," he told him.

What Apollo and Starbuck didn't know was Lee and Kara both forget to mention that Earth had not made contact with others from space and had no idea there was another twelve colonies.

"High orbit?" the voice asked.

As they passed the satellites Earth's tracking system picked up the small craft. The alarms were sounded for an alien craft had just entered the atmosphere.

The voice replied, "Shuttle Ten…I…Um…I have you on satellite. Can you um…Where are you from?"

"We are from the Galactica," Apollo replied. "We found your pilots, Kara Thrace and Lee Adama."

The radio went silent and then the voice asked, "They are alive?"

"They are onboard the Galactica," Apollo reported.

"Um…" the voice seemed rather baffled.

Starbuck noted, "They don't seem to understand."

As they busted through the higher levels of the atmosphere and into airspace over the United States of America they soon discovered very large fighter craft off to their sides. They were suddenly sandwiched in between two American jet fighters.

Another voice came over the radio but this time it was a female voice, "Undefined craft! You are to land at Houston."

Starbuck asked, "Where is Houston?"

"You will follow our escort," she replied.

Starbuck stated, "Sounds good! We are Shuttle Craft Ten. We are identified."

"I'm Lt. Sharon Valerii," she replied. "You stated you know what became of Kara Thrace and Lee Adama."

Starbuck recognized the name, "You're her best friend. Kara told me you are a pilot. I'm Starbuck! I'm Kara's friend."

"Is she alive?" she asked.

"She's fine," he replied. "Apollo and I found her in her shuttle. She's on the Galactica."

"She's where?" she asked to clarify.

Starbuck tried to explain, "She onboard a deep space battleship called the Galactica in the Andromeda galaxy. She and Lee sent us here to your planet."

Chatter erupted over the radios.

"Holy fuck these guys are aliens," one voice broke out.

"NASA tracked them in past the fucking moon." another erupted.

Starbuck looked at Apollo and stated, "They all sound like Kara."

"I noticed," Apollo replied. He then opened a channel, "Lt Sharon Valerii, this is Captain Apollo. I have a handwritten message to give to General William Adama from my father, Commander Adama of the Galactica."

"I'm escorting you to Houston," she replied. "You can give it to him there."

Houston

Air Force Major General William Adama stood in his blue dress uniform with ribbon bars, rank and insignia properly displayed on his jacket. He was of average height and slightly heavy. His hair was thick and dark. His skin was dark tan in color with scares upon his face. He stood alone in Mission Control waiting to meet the two pilots that had come to Earth from deep space. The door opened and Starbuck and Apollo were escorted inside by Lt. Valerii who now sported green battle dress uniform or BDU that consisted of trousers and a jacket over a green t-shirt. Apollo and Starbuck were given physicals and a change of clothing. They too were given the green BDU's to wear on base.

The lieutenant came to attention, "General Adama."

"Sharon," he smiled at her. "These are the pilots you intercepted."

"Apollo and Starbuck," she gave a nod.

He looked at the pair, "You realize those are names of the shuttles."

"Yes sir," Apollo stated. "Lee is a friend of mine. He asked me to give you this," he held out a photo to the older man.

"I see," he took the photo and gazed upon it. "My son is alive!"

"Him and Kara both are," he assured him.

"They didn't come with you," he figured.

"They volunteered to stay on the Galactica," Apollo explained.

"Why?" he asked.

He held out the letter, "This explains everything. It's in your language. Kara and Lee helped my father write it so you can understand."

General Adama retrieved the letter and quickly opened it. He started to read the explanation. "Cylons?"

"Yes sir," Apollo gave a nod.

"Killer machines who wiped out twelve worlds like Earth?" he asked unsure.

"Yes sir," Apollo nodded. "They wiped out my home, killed my mother, my younger brother and my wife."

General Adama glanced up at him, "I'm sorry for your loss."

"Thank you sir," he replied candidly.

He continued to read, "There are less than forty thousand survivors from this…Holocaust?"

"Yes sir," Apollo confirmed.

He continued to read, "And Commander Adama is afraid the Cylons will find Earth."

"Yes sir," Apollo stated.

"You father has asked Earth prepare itself in case the Cylons find us and attack." he informed.

"You are our last hope." he confessed.

"I see." he read the more of the letter. "It says here our computers are more advanced than yours and you don't have the engine that my son invented. But your ships are deep space worthy and can fend the Cylons off."

"The Galactia is," Apollo confirmed with a nod. "It's the last Battlestar. The Cylons destroyed the rest in an ambush. And right now, sir the Galactica is all that is standing between Earth and the Cylons. Your son and Kara Thrace have volunteered to help defend Earth by remaining on the Galactica and keeping the Cylons from finding the last colony. We have the same roots as our civilizations. The remaining twelve colonies stand shoulder to shoulder with Earth."

General Adama asked, "You have women and children in this fleet of survivors?"

"We have families and orphans." he admitted.

"Forty thousand isn't a lot," he told him concerned.

"It's less than a half of percent of what we had before the attack," Apollo explained. "They attacked all twelve worlds at the same time and wiped out all the Battlestars in a trap. That's why Kara and Lee wanted to stay and help. They knew if they came back that you wouldn't go back to help us. So, Starbuck and I came instead to give you this message."

General Adama explained, "You may not go back either. Your shuttle is highly advanced and capable of deep space travel. We need the technology you have to even stand a chance against these Cylons."

"We have to go back!" Apollo insisted.

"We need your technology," General Adama explained.

Sharon spoke up, "Sir! I have an idea."

"What is it Sharon?" he asked her.

"Send them back with a few of us to gather intel. We found Lee's invention in the shuttle. We can gather intel and plans needed to duplicate the ship they are on. There has to be blue prints for such a vessel." she gathered.

"There is!" Starbuck agreed. "Earth will build its own Battlestar. That's not a bad idea. That way if the Cylons do find Earth you can defend yourselves."

"So we could," he had to agree. "Kara would be able to get the necessary blueprints. How big is this battlestar?" he asked the pair.

"The Galactica is one hundred and sixty-six maxims by and sixty-six maxims wide." Starbuck gauged.

Apollo reminded him, "We have to put that in their measurements."

"Oh right," he winced. "I forgot you have different terms. It's about," he pondered. "Five thousand feet long by two thousand feet wide."

Sharon gulped, "You're kidding me! How we will get something that big in space?"

"The battlestars were all build in orbiting factories." Apollo replied.

"We don't have that technology," she told him with a wave. "We're lifting everything off with rockets."

"The Cylons didn't destroy all the orbital stations," Starbuck recalled. "There are a few that were offline and not in operation when they attacked. They left them alone."

General Adama asked, "Can we get one of those stations here?"

Apollo got an idea, "With Lee's invention we have transport it here in seconds."

Starbuck suggested, "We take the shuttle, hope on a string and zip to an orbital station. Hook up the station and bring it here."

Apollo asked, "How do we get back to the fleet?"

"Good question," he sighed.

General Adama stated, "You get that station here and then we put Lee's engine back in your shuttle and you can go back to your fleet."

"Sounds like a plan." Apollo agreed.

General Adama looked at Sharon, "You are going with them, Sharon."

"Yes sir," she gave a nod.