A/N: I present the conclusion to Invincible. Thank you for reading.
Chapter Thirty-Three: Home
January 31, 2014 (Day 201 CH)
A single raptor appeared in a tear of light. It floated in the dark within view of the planet below. Ten more appeared behind it in quick succession.
"Frak me," Kara Thrace said from the pilot's seat of the lead Raptor.
The skies over Caprica burned.
"Count sixty basestars," Racetrack said. "No frakkin' idea how many raiders."
The Cylons were firing on each other. Basestars were not Battlestars. They weren't designed for nuclear slugfests. Rather, they were designed to jump in and unload missiles and raiders in fast numbers to overwhelm their Colonial opponents.
What she saw at the moment were ships engaged in warfare they were not designed for. Even as she watched, a basestar erupted into a line of flames along its arms before shattering and going dark with loss of air and power.
"Squad two reports fighting over Aerilon," Lt. Carson's reported. "Squad Three says the same about Picon. What the frak is going on? Wait…Captain, we're getting a tight-beam transmission. It has Colonial ID, but it's the old code."
Thrace glanced at Racetrack, who shrugged. "You're the boss."
"Put it through," Kara ordered.
"This is Colonel Saul Tigh, formerly of the Battlestar Galactica. Who am I talking to?"
Shaking her head, she said, "You're a frakkin' cyclon."
"Thrace? Frak me. Yeah, I'm a Cylon. And let me tell you, that was a helluva way to wake up and realize you're a frakking toaster! But you listen here, and you tell the Admiral. I never knew. I didn't have any programs in my head because I was one of the first five! The other models boxed us up and sent us out 'cause the whole point was us stopping the war, not starting it! This wasn't what we wanted! Those of us sent back? We're fixing things. The centurions never wanted to come back, it was a few of the broken skinjob models we'd made. So, we're fixing it."
Kara shook her head. "What does that have to do with anything, Tigh?"
"I got as many people as I could up in the old Garanda District, north continent. We managed to pull about fifty thousand out of the farms and camps there. If you're here to save people, that's where they are. The rest…frak me. Gotta go. You do your job, Thrace. For once in your life don't frakkin' back talk and do your gods-damned job! You save those people."
The signal ended.
"You believe him?" Racetrack asked.
In the distance, two more basestars exploded.
"Yeah," Kara decided. "Yeah, I do. Send the signal, all companies report here, we'll hit the Garanda district. Fifty thousand is about all we could handle right now anyway. Let's go!"
"DRADIS Contact! Admiral, we have a DRADIS contact at CBDR!"
Admiral Helena came walked over to the console, looking up with alarm. "What do we have, Colonel?"
"Single raider, looks like," Colonel Jack Fisk said with a scowl. "Buzzing us."
"Set Condition One throughout the ship," Admiral Cain ordered. "Have alert fighters prepare to launch, but do not launch until ordered."
"Yes, Admiral," Fisk said, quickly relaying the orders.
"Admiral," Major Shaw said. "I'm getting Colonial transponders."
"That's a new trick," Fisk said. "Using our own signals now? Wonder what else they have up their sleeves?"
"We're getting a signal."
Cain's smile turned positively predatory. "Oh, this should be good. Put it through on speakers."
"Battlestar Pegasus, this is Raptor 241 from the Battlestar Galactica, Authentication Codes transmitting. Be advised Galactica is in bound. Do not fire!"
"Galactica?" Fisk exclaimed. "Wasn't she mothballed?"
"She was about to be," Cain said. "Shaw?"
"Admiral, I'm receiving Colonial authentication codes. They check out."
"DRADIS contact! Capital ship size…more contacts! Admiral, we have an incoming fleet!"
"Signal from Galactica Actual, Admiral," Shaw said quickly. "Codes Authenticated. I'm also receiving authentication codes from the Asteria, Eleos and Notus. Looks like they also have fleet tenders and Tylium mining ships and a lot of other civilian ships."
"Put him on."
She took town the handpiece from overhead. "This is Pegasus actual, to whom am I speaking?"
"Admiral Cain, it's a pleasure to hear you voice again," came the rough, aged growl of William Adama. "It's my pleasure to welcome the Pegasus back to the Colonial Fleet."
"Commander Adama?" Cain's smile switched from predatory to relieved. "I can't believe it! It's a miracle!"
"Fleet Admiral," Adama corrected. "The President of the Twelve Colonies and the Quorum of Twelve have been reestablished. A lot has happened. Please shuttle over with your senior staff for a briefing."
Cain's smile faltered. She lowered the phone and looked at Fisk, who shrugged. "Very well, Bill," she said, intentionally leaving off the ridiculous claim of fleet admiral. "I'll see you soon."
"This doesn't smell right," Shaw said. "Sir," she added.
"No, it doesn't. Fleet admiral?" Cain scoffed. "I am the ranking officer in the fleet. Caprica was destroyed, I don't know who they think they are."
She turned to Fisk. "You stay here. Get alert fighters in the air. Have our boys play nice, but get visual inspections on all the ships out there. This is a Mercury-class Battlestar, they don't have any thing that could take us on. But having a fleet tender and Tylium would go a long way to taking the fight to the Cylons. Shaw, you're with me."
Admiral Cain moved through her ship with a determined stride. Beside her, Shaw walked quickly while checking her side-arm. A squad of marines fell in with her as they made their way down to the port-side launch bays.
Shaw piloted, with Helena herself riding shotgun to get a better view of the fleet. Once in open space, she couldn't deny the fact that she was looking at the Galactica. Most of the old girl's armor playing was removed, exposing the structural ribs underneath. Even so, it was an impressive piece of history that showed its share of battle scars.
Nearby, she could see the Asteria. The Valkyrie-class Battlestar was even more deeply scarred than the Galactica. It only had two functioning engine thruster pods. The Orion ship was so small as to not be a threat at all.
Shaw brought the Raptor into the Galactica's flight pod with a sure, competent hand. Helena watched intently as the lift dropped them down into the bay. And inside?
A reception waited for them. A sea of Colonial uniforms in parade rest.
She led Shaw and her marine contingent off the Raptor and onto the floor. A marine shouted an order, and the assembled officers and crew snapped to attention and saluted, as was only proper for a flag officer.
Waiting for her stood Bill Adama in what looked like a new Fleet Admiral uniform, complete with the epaulets and the star cluster. But what surprised him with the officers flanking him.
Chrysanthos Delapina wore an admiral's uniform and insignia, equal in rank to her own. Opposite the admiral, Horace Saspit now wore Commander's pips.
She reached Adama, who stood at parade rest.
The son of a bitch really thinks he outranks me? Surrounded by his men, she knew he had the cards at the moment. Things would change once she was back on Pegasus. She had the biggest, most powerful ship. For now? A smart officer knew when to play along.
Plastering the same smile she used to make Nagala think she respected him, Admiral Cain saluted. "Permission to come aboard."
"Granted," Adama said. He returned the salute, and only then offered his hand. "Helena, it's good to see you. I'm sure you remember Chris, and Horace."
"I do," Cain said.
"If you'll come with me, we have refreshments and an interesting debrief ahead," the old man said.
Cain followed along, content to play until she had her guns at hand.
Colonel Jack Fisk looked up in surprise when the squad of marines stepped into the CIC. This surprised him because they weren't his marines.
"At ease," female marine shouted. "Back away from your consoles. Hands in the air!"
"What the frak is going on here?" Fisk demanded. "Sergeant, who are you and what are you doing on my ship?"
A colonial officer stepped into the bridge. Fisk felt like he'd just been punched.
Sela Tannith had aged surprisingly well from the young lieutenant that Admiral Cain had hounded after. Fisk remembered her arrest vividly, and also remembered the scuttlebutt when instead of a court martial for attempted blackmail, she simply received a reduction in rank.
No one wanted the real story to get out.
What concerned him, though, were the Commander's pips on her collar.
"Jack," she said with a nod.
"Sela." Fisk forced a swallow. "Two things. How the frak did you get on board, and why are you on board?"
"The War's over," Tannith said. "The Cylons are fighting each other in a civil war. The colonies are dead—the planets are too irradiated to be safe. Instead we were able to find a legacy anchorage made by the Lords of Kobol themselves that is sufficient to safely house our surviving population."
Fisk opened his mouth, then closed it to process a little more. Finally, he found what he needed to say. "That's well and good, Sela. But why are you on my ship?"
"My ship, Jack," she corrected. "You ever here of a civilian transport named Scylla?"
"You've got to be frakking kidding," Admiral Cain said.
The food had been incredible. Real, still warm bread with a spiced oil that reminded her very much of butter back home. Nuts and fresh fruit and real meat. It was the best meal she'd had since the Colonies fell.
And then the old fool ruined it.
"We have several dozen eye-witnesses and video," Adama said. "You personally ordered your office there to fire on civilians. You gang-pressed many and left the rest to die. Even in times of war, you violated the Uniform Code and the very purpose of the Colonial Fleet. Our job was to protect and save civilians, not murder them."
"Do you think you can actually do anything?" Cain said. "The Pegasus was one of the most powerful ships in the Fleet, and could run circles around anything you have. You try to arrest me, and you will be fired upon."
The door opened and a young man entered in what looked like a vaguely Colonial uniform, but a completely nonsensical patch. Crossed sticks?
"Admiral Cain, this is Admiral Harry Potter, the sovereign leader of the Mage Fleet and an ally of the Colonies," Adama said. "Admiral Potter, what's the word?"
"Pegasus is secured," the ridiculously young man said. "Commander Tannith has already arrested those officers under suspicion. She also found humanoid Cylon in the brig." The young man looked at Cain with a flat, cold expression. "She's been tortured and raped, repeatedly. She begged us to put her down."
"Did you?" Adama said.
"It seemed the most humane thing to do." Potter walked around the conference table and sat to one side.
"You're fools if you think you can get away with this," Cain said.
"No, Helena, you were a fool to think you could murder civilians without consequence," Adama said. "You won't be alone, though. You can share a cell with Colonel Hasters. I understand the two of you have a great deal in common. Marines, arrest this woman."
Shaw had her side arm pulled before the marines took a single step, only to fly up onto the ceiling, as if somehow gravity had reversed itself. Cain turned and stared into a pair of cold, hard green eyes and a stick pointed at her.
"How'd you like to spend the next twenty years as a dog?" the young man asked.
"Come on, Munchkin."
Lily Potter rolled her eyes impatiently. "I'm not a munchkin!"
Donald Malfoy laughed. "Sure you are, munchkin!"
"I'm not!" The six-year-old girl stomped her feet impatiently. "Mom, you tell him!"
Hermione sighed tiredly. "You are a Munchkin, dear. But you're my Munchkin, so it's okay."
Lily pointed at her little brother, who stood nearby happily sucking on a candy. "He's the Munchkin."
"Nope, he's the Gnome," Malfoy corrected.
James nodded happily. "I'm the Gnome!" he agreed. He tended to agree with everything Donald said.
Harry walked out of the bedroom of their house, handsome in his dress grays. He paused with a happy smile. "My goodness, what a beautiful woman!" he said with a smile at his wife.
Lily preened. "Thanks, Daddy!"
"He was talking to your mom, Munchkin!"
Harry laughed and scooped Lily up. "Don't worry, you're beautiful too!" he said, before blowing a raspberry into her neck and eliciting screams.
Which, of course, woke Sirius from the sling Hermione carried their third and final child in.
Rather than start screaming, he mewled a little before Hermione plugged his crying hole with a pacifier.
"Is everyone ready?"
The ten-year-old blonde made a show of examining everyone. "Looks like, Uncle Harry."
"All right, let's go. It's not every day I get fired!" Harry couldn't restrain a glowing smile at the joke.
They left the house together and for the waiting crawler transport. Their orchards already bore fruit and promised another good crop of oranges and cashews.
As they piled into the open transport, the uniformed driver gave then all a nod. "Big day, huh, Admiral?"
"Yes, Derry, it's a big day."
Past the fusion tubes that lit the anchorage, Harry could see clouds gathering on the far side of the habitat. Looked like they could expect rain in the afternoon.
They reached the road that meandered through the Anchorage. To the left, a river ran down the length of the entire structure. Three more parsed the interior habitat, spaced with various lakes and open bodies of water in a carefully balanced cycle to ensure the biosphere of the habitat remained hydrated and healthy.
Soon enough they left behind the fields of the Mage quarter and entered the parkland and urban areas of the Colonial section of the Anchorage. The tallest buildings the Colonials built never passed ten floors. Any taller and the gravity grew weak enough to be disorienting.
Half a million colonials fit surprisingly well within the habitat. It amazed Harry to this day just how much surface area the interior of a giant cylinder had. Even so, the Anchorage Authority was already working on another anchorage, copying this one in design and employing both Colonial scientific expertise and Mage craft to make an even larger habitat that could house many millions of people.
Even with magic, the project would take twenty years to complete.
The Memorial Pavilion that served as the center of Anchorage Life was, like a lot of architecture in the sealed habitat, both simple and eloquent. Large metallic ribs similar to the exposed superstructure of the Battlestar Galactica rose up to form supports for a sloped roof that provided shelter from the daily showers, but otherwise left the space within empty.
Everyone was there, of course. Harry put on his politician's smile and shook hands with all those people who brought them to where they were. Daniel Webber stood grinning between the Patil twins holding one of his four children while talking about a new jump drive engine with the chief engineer from Pegasus. Dr. Barnes and Healer Tonks were holding court with a bevy of nurses, new and old, while trying to browbeat a curmudgeonly old doctor from Galactica to dance with them.
Admiral Adama himself led a dance with former President Roslin, who was now serving as the Matron of the Oracle's Circle. The old man said something that made Roslin laugh; it was a free sound.
Chris Delapina was dancing with Dinah Patterson, and Harry had to admit the American mage looked good in a sparkling white dress. All around them, children ran to and fro, stopping occasionally at the buffet for snacks or drinks. He and Hermione took a spin on the dance floor, before he and Neville switched partners and he took Hannah for a spin.
Finally, though, the porters rang bells to bring everyone to the seating area. Harry gave his wife a long, loving kiss before kissing his third child on the forehead, hugging his two older children, and then thoroughly mussing up Donald Malfoy's perfectly coiffed blond hair.
"Uncle, stop!" Donald said, though without heat.
The Prime Minister of the Anchorage Authority took the podium to begin his opening remarks. Harry took his seat on the stage next to Adama.
"How's Sirius?" the older man asked.
"Already better," Harry said. "Ear infection."
"Lee had them all the time," the old man said. "We still on for Sunday?"
"The beer should be nice and cold," Harry agreed.
At the podium, Marshall Bagot, formerly the representative for Virgo in the Quorum of Twelve, was finishing his remarks.
He turned to face those on stage. "Will President Porter of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, and Admiral Potter of the North American Magical Preservation Organization Fleet please step forward."
Sarah Potter, the last president of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, stood from her seat just as Harry left his. The two approached the table where the large Anchorage Authority charter had been placed.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," Bagot continued with a grandiose tone. "By the signing of this charter, the old organizations which guided us to this day will be dissolved, and the future will begin. President Porter?"
He stepped back and let Sarah give her remarks. She spoke passionately about the pain of the colonies death and the hardship they all experienced. She spoke fondly of their meeting of their cousins from Earth, and how honored she was to have served, however briefly, as the last President of the Twelve Colonies.
With those words, she stepped to the Charter and signed as President, formally dissolving the legacy government she'd led.
"Admiral Potter?" Bagot invited.
Harry stepped to the podium. Tens of thousands of people stared back.
"Almost ten years ago, over an intimate dinner, I told the love of my life that I wanted to have children." He glanced down at the first line of seating reserved for family, where his wife and Donald were trying to keep their three children under control. "And she told me our world was going to die. Needless to say I had to wait a bit for kids."
The audience laughed, as he knew they would.
"We humans have an incredible capacity. The problem comes in figuring out what to use that capacity for. To create, or destroy. To lead and help, or to surrender to our baser instincts. Almost ten years ago, most of my people chose to surrender to what they saw as an inevitable death. But I refused, and I did so for one simple reason. After a lifetime of struggle for nothing, I finally had something. I had Hermione. I had my friends. I had a family. With so much to lose, I could not just lay down and die. And I was blessed to have others join me on this journey.
"When the magical nations of earth formed the North American Magical Preservation Organization, it was never intended to be permanent. Rather, it was intended to give Mages a chance to live. But always, there was one simple and fundamental rule. That whoever led it would step down once a permanent government was established.
"I'll admit that I always thought that meant when Mages found a nice little paradise planet and could settle down just like Earth. I never imagined this place, or our place in it."
Harry looked out across the audience, seeing so many familiar faces. Several rows back, he saw Brenda Laird with her husband, saved from Pegasus and reunited at last. He nodded to her, and she grinned back.
"In accordance with the Articles of NAMCO, and with a great deal of pride and relief, I hereby relinquish my duties and authority as Admiral of the Mage fleet, and dissolve the NAMCO in favor of the Anchorage Authority. Thank you all, my friends."
He left the podium, and signed the charter. The roars from the audience filled the entire anchorage.
At long last, he was home.