Rating: 12A/PG-13
Archive: Just ask me first.
Feedback: Constructive criticisms always welcomed. Flames cheerfully ignored
Disclaimers: I own neither Andromeda nor Battlestar Galactica.

Spoilers: Andromeda to mid season 3, Battlestar Galactica to end of the 2003 mini-series.
Summary: Two years after the destruction of the 12 Colonies of Kobol, the crew of the Battlestar Galactica encounter a derelict ship that could lead them to Earth...

Note: apologies for those who looked for this the first time, but it wasn't formatted right.

We decided to play God, create life. When that life turned against us, we comforted ourselves in the knowledge that it really wasn't our fault, not really. You cannot play God and then wash your hands of the things that you've created. Sooner or later, the day comes when you can't hide from the things that you've done anymore...

The long night has come. The SystemsCommonwealth, the greatest civilization in history, has fallen. Now one ship, one crew, have vowed to drive back the night and rekindle the light of civilization. On the starship Andromeda... hope lives again.

When two Tribes go to war...

"Apollo, I'm picking up something on long-range sensors, could be a ship." Lieutenant Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace looked at the small screen at the centre of her Viper's controls, "It's to far away to make out any details though."

"It could be a trap." Captain Lee 'Apollo' Adama looked at the same readings, "You getting anything more conclusive Boomber?"

"Nothing yet, sir." Sharon "Boomer" Valerii sat at the controls of her Raptor re-con ship, "Just a faint silhouette. Hold, I'll patch it through to you."

"Ok, I'm getting it now." Apollo looked at the data from the larger crafts scanners: the strange ship was spinning slowly, apparently adrift at the edge of the solar system the Colonial fleet was passing through. It looked like nothing he had ever seen before: its knife-like profile gave it a tiny sensor cross-section, so it tended to fade when it was side-on, but could be seen clearly when it shifted. Five main pylons protruded forward of the main superstructure, with several fin-like blades also face forward. "By the Lords of Kobol, it's huge: it must be almost twice the length of the Galactica!"

"Sir, I'm not picking up any power-signatures or life-sings." Boomer shook her head, "its dead in the water."

"Ok, we'll take this nice as slow." Apollo nodded to himself, "Starbuck, with me: we'll check it out. Boomer, jump back to the Galactica and tell them what we found."

"Why did I have to come on this mission?" Harper complained from the slipfighter's pilots seat, "Not that I don't like spending time alone with you Rom-doll, because I do, but this is a complete waist of time."

"The reports state that a Siege Perilous class Destroyer was spotted at the edge of this system." Rommie sat in the cramped jump seat behind Harper, "And while my ship-self is in dry-dock, Dylan thought it would be a good idea to see if there was anything to the report. As I can't pilot slipstream, and you're an engineer, we where the obvious choice."

"Need I remind you what happened the last time we ran into one of these?" Harper looked over his shoulder, "Our old friend the Unbalanced of Judgment..." He stopped as the sensors started warbling, "Wow! We just picked up a massive burst of energy 12 AU's from here. If I didn't know better, I'd say someone was using..."

"Tesseracts." Rommie finished the sentience for him, "Which means either Vedran's or Maggog."

"Commander, we just picked up a massive energy displacement wave out near where Apollo reported that strange ship." Colonel Paul Tigh, the Galactica's executive officer, looked at the main screen, "It does not match anything we've encountered before."

"Could be Cylons." Commander Adama drummed his fingers on the map-table, "Page Dr. Baltar."

"You know, I really do find you fascinating." Number Six was dressed in her usual slinky red dress, "Your survival-obsessed mind operates on a level that is almost machine like."

"I that meant to be a compliment," Doctor Gaius Baltar looked away, "or an insult?" He turned to face his ever-present tormenter, "I will find a way to get rid of you, one day."

"What's the matter Gaius; don't you find me attractive anymore?" Number Six looked hurt, "And I thought we had a special relationship: to death do us part..."

"Dr. Baltar to the bridge." The PA announced, "Dr. Baltar to the bridge please."

"You're sick, you know that?" Baltar grabbed his jacket as he headed for the door.

"Is love a disease?" Number Six asked before fading out.

"You wanted to see me Commander?" Baltar asked as he enters the Galactica's command centre.

"One of our patrols picked up an apparently abandoned ship on long-range sensors." Adama activated the main display screen, "And shortly after, we detected a massive burst of energy in the same reason. Could it be the Cylons?"

"If it is then it's like no Cylon ship we've seen before." Baltar looked at the data brought back by the Raptor, "The basic design is similar, but it's bigger than the Basestar's we faced at Ragnar."

"It's not Cylon." Number Six rested a hand on Baltar's shoulder, trying to distract him, "And it's not human either."

"I don't think it's the Cylons sir." Baltar looked at Adama, trying to ignore the phantom image crated by the chip in his head, "These readings of its surface material do not match anything I've ever seen: we could be dealing with a First Contact situation."

"By the Lords of Kobol!" Adama looked shocked, "In all these long year's, no human has ever had confirmed contact with another intelligent life form."

"What about the unconfirmed?" Colonel Tigh asked, "I've heard my share of pilots tails talking about strange ship's on the edge of scanner range, but I've always taken them as joke's or sensor glitches."

"Nothing of this size has ever been reported." Adama shook his head, "Have Chief Tyrol put together a team, and send them back out on the Raptor with orders to board and investigate: if it is a First Contact situation, we may gain some useful information, maybe even an Aisle."

"There she is." Harper slowly brought the slipfighter round so its nose pointed at the old High Guard ship, "One Siege Perilous class Destroyer, as reported."

"It's the Pillars of Hercules." Rommie looked at the expanded sensor displays, "Look's like his scuttling charges where blown in order to stop his capture by the Nietzscheans."

"Friend of yours?" Harper looked over his shoulder.

"No," Rommie shook her head, "We never met."

"Can we salvage him?" Harper asked, "Or was this a wasted trip? I only ask because I've spent the last 6 hours pissing into a bag while piloting through slipstream, and my legs are beginning to cramp-up."

"Apart from the damage done to the slipstream drive, which we can fix, and the AI core, which we can't, it's almost fully operational." Rommie smiled, "I think we can bring him back home."

"Good." Harper smiled as he matched the larger ship's rotation and started to approach its docking bay, "You better send the override code and open the door."

"Sending override code." Rommie tapped at the Small keyboard in the arm of her seat, and the huge docking bay door slowly opened, "Code accepted. Glad some parts still have power: it'll make out job a lot easier."

"Excellent!" Harper smiled as he guided the slipfighter into the landing bay and sat it down, the huge airlock doors closing behind them, "No parking problem either." He looked at the readouts, "According to this, the atmosphere breathable." He cracked the seal on his flight helmet, "Thank the Devine for small favourers."

"We should head to command; see if we can get damage control on-line." Rommie opened the canopy, "If the atmospheric recyclers are still working, there's a good possibility that the automated repair systems are on-line."

"Is it just me, or dose this look very sinister?" Starbuck asked as she led in the mission to investigate the derelict spaceship, "I've got a bad feeling about this..."

"Stay focused Starbuck." Apollo did his best to hide his own fears, "There's no sign that it's hostile, or even inhabited..." He stopped as a pair of doors opened in the front of the ship, "Ok, that's strange. Boomer, any readings?"

"I'm picking up an oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere beyond the next set of doors." The young Raptor pilot ran a quick sensor sweep, "I think it's an airlock. Could be automated." She shook her head, "I still can't penetrate the outer hull: what ever these things made of, it's absorbing any elector-magnetic radiation."

"Ok, let's do this." Apollo swallowed, "Boomber, inform the Galactica that we're going in, then follow Starbuck and me in."

"Confirmed, transition sent." Boomber sent off a status report, "Following you in now sir."

The three Colonial ships slowly moved forward, matching the rotation of the derelict. The outer airlock doors closed behind them, and then the inner ones opened with a miss of equalizing atmospheres. The two Vipers' landed first, the clang of metal on metal echoing around the cavernous hanger bay. The Raptor landed behind them.

"Hey, Apollo, check that out." Starbuck pointed at a strange looking craft parked across the hanger, "Some kind of fighter?"

"Let's check it out." Apollo nodded, drawing his side-arm, "Boomer, Chief Tyrol, hold back for a micron." He walked over to the craft, Starbuck covering him, "Look's like a fighter." He looked through the canopy, "Controls look similar to ours, but I can't read the markings." He looked at the open door leading to a corridor beyond, "Boomer, Chief, hang back. Starbuck, with me." Holding his sidearm with both hands, he headed through the door.

"I take it that was Hercules himself?" Harper asked, knelling over an android that bad been blown in two by a powerful Gauss gun blast.

"It matches the records." Rommie nodded, looking at the fallen Avatar: his bronze skin and dark hair fitted the mythical Hercules perfectly, "Shame: he was a good ship, a brave ship."

"Well, he's gone now." Harper ran a scanner over the still form, "Complete loss to his memory circuits. I could probably fix him up, but without an AI personality, he's just stood there or falls over."

"We may be able to find a back-up copy of his core personality when we reach command." Rommie looked along the debris strew passage, "But that's easier said then done." Using the flash-light built into her force lance, she led the way towards the ship's bridge.

"Apollo," Starbuck stopped the Colonial officer from taking another stop, her gun pointed at the deck, "Footprints, fresh, two pairs."

"We're not alone." Apollo nodded, pulling his radio from its pouch on his belt, "Boomer, keep your eyes pealed: look's like we got company..."

"What the?" Rommie stopped in the doorway to the Pillars command centre, "Harper I just picked up a short-range radio transmission, encrypted, emanating from just inside the main airlock. Strange."

"What?" Harper looked worried, his Gauss gun drawn, "Who is it?"

"The language: it appears to be in Latin, a language used on Earth thousands of years before First Contact." Rommie concentrated, "There are some subtle differences in the grammar and syntax, but it's defiantly Latin." She pressed her thumb to Harper data-port and up-loaded a translation program into its memory, enabling the engineer to understand and speak the dead language.

"We got two sets of tracks leading towards the centre of the ship." Apollo told Boomer over the radio, "It could be that who ever owns this ship is still alive."

"Be careful sir." Boomer sounded worried, "Chief Tyrol's been over the fighter we found here in the landing bay: he thinks he can decipher the control enough to fly it back to the Galactica."

"They're trying to steal our ride!" Harper exclaimed.

"Not if I can help it." Rommie said determinedly, drawing her forcelance, "You say here; I'll see what's going on."

"You know something Gaius, this is rather exciting." Number Six draped her arms around the human scientist shoulders, "No one neither human or Cylon, has ever made contact with an extra-terrestrial intelligence."

"Fascinating." Baltar muttered under his breath, wishing that his tormentor would leave him alone.

"Pardon?" Commander Adama turned round; thinking to comment was directed at him.

"This ship, its configuration is fascinating." Baltar looked up, thinking quickly, "Who ever built it wanted to create a ship that would be very difficult to detect. It has a very thin sensor cross section, and had we scanned in head-on, it's unlikely we would have picked it up."

"Very well done Gaius." Number Six whispered into his ear, "There's hope for you yet..."

"You think it's a Cylon?" Starbuck asked Apollo as the looked down at the mangled body of Hercules, "Doesn't look like the one we found on Ragnar." She pointed out, examining the exposed circuitry.

"And why is it in a uniform?" Apollo looked at the markings on the AI's tunic, "This look familiar..."

"Could this ship have been from Kobol?" Starbuck tilted her head to the side, "The Sacred Scrolls talk of wars fought between the rival factions that became the 12 Tribes."

"Could be..." Apollo nodded, but stopped cold when he heard movement. He raised his side-arm, "We got company." He wisped to Starbuck.

"Oh frack!" Starbuck pointed her own weapon down the corridor, "Anything but Cylons..."

"Can't say I've ever hared of 'Cylons'," A voice came from behind, followed by the unmistakable sound of a weapon powering up, "Who are you and why have you boarded this vassal?"

"Captain Lee Adama, Colonial Fleet, assigned to the Battlestar Galactica." Apollo slowly turned, keeping his weapon held out in one hand, and found himself face to face with an attractive looking woman in a black uniform, "You're human?"

"No, I am an AI." Rommie levelled her forcelance at Apollo and Starbuck, "Andromeda Ascendant, High Guard serial number XMC-10-182. This is a High Guard Starship, and as such is the property of the Systems Commonwealth: any attempt to gain control of this vassal will be considered an act of war."

"A fracking machine!" Starbuck hissed, "I told you this didn't feel right..."

"That's enough Lieutenant!" Apollo reprimanded his subordinate, before turning back to face Rommie, "Forgive us, but we've only had bad experience's with AI's in the past: our home worlds where destroyed two cycle's ago by a race of machine's we created."

"You have my sympathy." Rommie's eyes stayed unchanged, "But I can hardly see what that has to do with me: I've never heard of these 'Cylons', or a human colony that speaks a dead language."

"You know of other human colonies?" Apollo asked, forgetting the weapon pointed at his chest, "We've been searching for one, founded by a lost Tribe of our people. According to our ancient texts, it's called 'Earth'."

"Earth?" Rommie looked at Apollo and Starbuck, "What are you talking About? Human's evolved on Earth."

"You've been there?" Starbuck asked, forgetting that she was addressing an AI, "You've been to Earth?"

"Yes." Rommie nodded, "Once, about one standard year ago. I don't know what your 'ancient texts' say, but all evidence points to Earth being the birth world of the human race." The main lights in the corridor flickered on, surprising Apollo and Starbuck.

"Good." Rommie smiled, "Harper's got main power back on line."

"Who's Harper?" Apollo asked.

"My Chief Engineer." Rommie lowered her forcelance, "You'd better come with me..."

"Sir, we're picking up an intermittent contact on long-range scanners." Lieutenant Gaeta, the Galactica's Tactical Officer walked over to where Commander Adama and Colonel Tigh where standing by the main navigation board, "It's impossible to get a definitive ID at this range, but it looks like a Cylon raider, probably a scout-ship."

"Oh-oh, trouble." Number Six whispered into Baltar ear, "How you going to work your way out of this one?"

"Commander, I have an idea." Baltar practically leaped to his feet, trying to get away from the ever-present Cylon antagonist, "If we can stabilize the derelict, we may be able to trick the Cylons into thinking it's on our side. It certainly look's like a warship, and if our sensors can't penetrate her hull, there's a chance that they won't be able to either."

"I'm impressed: That's a very good plan." Adama admitted, "Lieutenant Gaeta, see if you can raise Lieutenant Valerii's Raptor: tell them we're coming in."

"So this ship was damaged in a war?" Starbuck asked Rommie as they picked their way to command, "And it's taken 300 'years' to get around to recovering it?"

"It's a long story, and we don't have time to get into it now." Rommie stopped them just down the hall from the two thick doors that lead to the Warship's bridge, "Harper, it's me: we have visitors, 'friendly', I think." She stepped forward, keeping herself between the door and the two Colonial officers.

Apollo and Starbuck where surprised when they saw Harper: the scrawny little engineer was cowering behind one of the consoles, Gauss pistol in hand.

"Who are they?" He asked in Common, the official language of the Systems Commonwealth.

"They claim to be refuges from a human colony out beyond the rim." Rommie replied in the same language, "They claim that Earth is also one of their lost Colonies."

"The hell it is!" Harper slipped into Latin without realizing, "I was born on Earth: I think someone would have mentioned something like that."

"You're from Earth?" Apollo asked, "By the Lords of Kobol, you really are from the 13th Tribe?"

"No, I'm from Boston." Harper waved his gun at the Colonial pilot, "And what's this with you trying to take our ship?"

"Your ship?" Starbuck asked, "You mean the fighter in the landing bay? We presumed it was abandoned, like this ship."

"Not abandoned!" Harper tapped a string of command into the console he was hiding behind, "Re-activated." A low hum raised all around the command deck, lights and displays activating; the main screen's flickering, before coming to life. The central one showed the Pillars of Hercules rotating. Thrusters fired, bringing the ship back onto an even keel in relation to the orbital plain of the star systems four planets. A long row of red lights turned green, denoting long-dormant systems coming back on line.

"Harper, you are a genius!" Rommie smiled, "Did you find a copy of Hercules' core personality?"

"Sorry Rom-doll, no such luck." Harper shook his head, "You want anything more than automated systems and you'll have to jack yourself in and take over."

The main screen zoomed out, showing the High Guard ship in the centre of its combat sphere, a collection of contacts closing.

"Look's like we're getting a signal from the lead ship." Harper looked at the communications station.

"That'll be the Galactica, our ship." Starbuck tried to decipher the readouts, "The Commander must be growing inpatient."

"I'll see if I can patch it through." Rommie placed one hand on the nearest interface, and closed her eyes. A flash of light, the sensation of moving, and she was inside the AI matrix. It glowed dull blue in most places, but others where black where irreparable damage had been done. She accessed the communications sub-routines, and adjusted them to receive the Colonial signal. She also adjusted the display settings, changing them from Common to the variation of Latin Apollo and Starbuck spoke. Satisfied, she exited the VR matrix.

"There." Rommie opened her eyes, "That should work." The screens shimmered for a moment, and then converted to the alternate language.

"Whoa!" Apollo looked at the displays, suddenly comprehending the power of the High Guard starship, "Can you put the Galactica through?"

"Yes." Rommie nodded, "They're closing enough for real-time: just a 1-second lag."

"This is Galactica command calling Captain Adama and Lieutenant Thrace, can you receive us, over?" Colonel Tigh's voice came over the speakers.

"This is Captain Adama, we are receiving you loud and clear." Apollo wounded what to say next, "We've encountered two individuals who claim to represent the rightful masters of this Starship." He paused for a second, "One of them claims to be from Earth."

"Please repeat your last transmission." Colonel Tigh said after a period of silence.

"I say again: One of them claims to be from Earth." Apollo looked over his shoulder at Harper, then at Rommie, "The other is an A.I., non-Cylon."

"Commander, we can't trust an A.I." Baltar's voice could be heard over the link, "If the Cylons where to gain control of it..."

"That's enough Doctor." Commander Adama's voice cut in, "Lee, we picked up a Cylon scout ship trailing us. It will no doubt report our position to their main fleet, and they'll send everything they have after us: is that ship combat capable?"

"Well?" Apollo and Starbuck turned to Rommie and Harper.

"This is a Siege Perilous class Destroyer, a High Guard ship-of-the-line, one of the most lethal starship-killer ever built." Rommie looked down at the two Colonial officers from the back of the room, "It has 180 ELS missile tubes, 24 Pulse Defence Lasers, 4 Anti-Proton cannons and 32 Janus light sensor/attack drones. It has reactive shielding and cold plasma armour, enabling it to withstand multiple hit's by 20-Megaton warheads." She tilted her head to the side, "But, there are almost no missiles left in the magazines, very little fuel left to fire the AP cannons, half the PDL's and all the attack-drones are off-line. We have exactly 1 slipfighter: the same one Harper and I got here in."

"We have limited combat capability." Apollo looked worried, "The best this ship could do is serve as a distraction." He rubbed his forehead, "Is the fleet ready to jump again?"

"Negative: we are still refuelling half the ships." Colonel Tigh sounded tense, "We have to make our stand here."

"We could send for help." Rommie stepped forward, "Harper, take the slipfighter back to Sinti and get help."

"I don't like the idea of leaving you here Rommie." Harper had seen the way Apollo and Starbuck looked at the Avatar, and had heard the scorn in Baltar's voice, "These guy's don't like you." He added in Common.

"I know." Rommie smiled, replying in Common, "But we can't leave them here to face extermination: there are 50,000-refuges on these ship's out there, and we have a duty to protect them."

"Something wrong?" Apollo asked, confused by the strange language, but reading the look on Harper's face.

"No, no problem." Harper shook his head, "It's a 6-hour trip to Sinti, and the same back, so it'll be at lest 12-hours until I get back." He thought for a second, "I'll swing by Tarazed, see if I can get them to send a few fighters."

"Good idea." Rommie nodded, "Now get going."

"Starbuck, go with him to the lunch bay and bring Boomer and Chief Tyrol's team back here." Apollo looked around the command deck, "We'll see if we can get a few more of these systems on-line."

"We have found the human fleet." Number Two announced to the other Cylons, "They are refuelling in a system 400-light-years from here."

"Excellent!" Number Three looked across to where Number Six stood, "You will take command of the fleet."

"Me?" Number Six looked shocked.

"You still have to prove yourself after you let that human escape you on Caprica." Number Two looked at her, "You will activate the Number Seven within the Colonial fleet and bring about the final annihilation of the life-form known as man!"

"That is one BIG ship!" Colonel Tigh looked at the High Guard ship through the shuttles view port, "And this is only a Destroyer? I'd love to see their Cruisers."

"It's certainly impressive." Baltar stood behind the Galactica's XO, "I can't wait to get a look at the systems."

"Shuttle One, this is the Pillars of Hercules: stand by for docking procedure." Rommie's voice came over the link. The ship's gaping airlock opened, admitting the Colonial transport like a whale swallowing a minnow.

"Now what in the hell is she up to this time?" Colonel Tigh fumed as he saw Starbuck standing next to a small craft, obviously the fighter the High Guard officers where sending for help. He saw a short, blond haired man sitting in the pilot's seat, explaining the controls. He practically ran down the landing ramp and over to the slipfighter.

"Now the interesting thing about moving through the slipstream is that travel time between points has very little to do with the distance actually travelled. If a pilot is lucky, and the stream unfolds just right, the ship could transit between galaxies in minutes." The young man was explaining, "Another unusual thing is the requirement of an organic pilot to guide a Starship through the slipstream: At an intersection of pathways in slipstream space, both paths manifest the potentiality of being correct and incorrect. It's only when the pilot chooses a specific direction that this potentiality collapses and one path becomes right, and the other wrong. No one knows why, but organics tend to choose the correct paths, or, some say, the very act of choosing makes the path they have chosen the correct one."

"Can A.I.'s pilot slipstream?" Starbuck asked, worried what would happen if the Cylons gained such a technological advantage.

"No: computers, even ones like Rommie. Are incapable of this reality-altering guesswork." Harper reassured her, "Even the most sophisticated starship's require an organic sentient to pilot the cords." He shrugged, "Unless they pull a trick like one particularly nasty A.I. we ran into did, and use brains in jars..."

"Any particular reason you're holding this officer up Lieutenant Thrace?" Colonel Tigh glared at Starbuck.

"Sir." Starbuck snapped to attention, knowing that her superior was on in the mood for her normal insubordination, "Mr. Harper was just explaining to me how this ship's FTL drive works."

"And with that, I will make my exit." Harper pulled down the slipfighter's canopy, not wanting to get drawn into the coming argument. The ship's AG field kicked in, lifting it off the landing gear and floating it toward the airlock.

"We have got to get some of those..." Starbuck had a far-away look on her face as she watched the slipfighter disappear from view as the blast-doors closed.

"And how do you intend to do that?" Colonel Tigh asked, "Hijack them? In case you didn't realize, we don't exactly have the coinage to buy new ships for hot-shot pilots who cash every other time they land."

"Sir, I just meant that..." Starbuck stopped, knowing that there was nothing she could say that would have any affect on the Colonel's position, "We'd best head for the command deck: Captain Adama and Andromeda are discussing possible combat strategies."

"I don't think you fully understand the complexities of this ship's systems!" Rommie was growing tired of the Colonial statutes to A.I.'s. She had encountered similar distrust before, most noticeably on Machen Alpha, but this boarded on xenophobia, "The command and control systems are spread out across six decks and almost the entire length of the ship. Automated systems monitor every sub-system and relay on this ship. Under normal conditions, the controlling A.I. IS the ship. Avatar's like myself are often known as 'the ship made flesh' due to our link to almost every part of the vessel."

"But the Cylons have the ability to compromise computer systems." Apollo counter-attacked, "We lost every capital ship apart from the Galactica because they infected their systems. Most of our fighters where taken out without even firing a shot because their systems crashed. The only one's we have that still work are 40-years out of date. A.I.'s can't be trusted."

"Well I'm sorry you feel that way Captain, because this A.I. is the only hope you have." Rommie glared at him, "Ok, so the A.I.'s you created turned on you? You only created them to fight your wars for you, because you couldn't live in peace. I'm a Warship: I was built to fight and to kill without thinking twice, and I can and will. But I was also built to protect and defend, to show mercy and compassion when needed. I am an officer in the High Guard of the Systems Commonwealth, and I will not apologies for whom or what I am."

"Can you promise me that the Cylons won't be able to corrupt your systems?" Apollo asked bluntly.

"No, not without further Intel on their capabilities." Rommie admitted, "But I can promise you that we stand a better chance of stopping them from taking control of this ship if I act as its central A.I., rather than as just an observer."

"I don't see how we can take that risk." Apollo shook his head, "We don't know if you can stop them, or what damage we could do if they did take you over."

"Well, it's not your decision to make: this IS a High Guard vassal, and I AM a High Guard officer." Rommie walked over to the main A.I. Controls and placed a hand in the interface. The familiar sensation of moving engulfed her, and she found herself inside the V.R. matrix, "Initializing A.I. system start-up." The system shimmered as her mind expanded to fill the gaps. Satisfied, the exited the matrix.

"It's done." She turned to Apollo, the remainder of the dormant systems activating around her, the main screen changing to show her face, "Now you can live with it, or get the hell off this ship, because from now on, I AM this ship."

"There you are Lieutenant Thrace." Rommie's holographic form appeared in the corridor in front of Starbuck, Colonel Tigh and Baltar.

"What the hell?" Starbuck jumped back, drawing her sidearm.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have startled you ." Rommie laughed, "I have integrated my self with the main A.I. network so that I can activate the remaining systems. I've set the automated repair systems to work on the disabled PDL's: from what Captain Adam has told me, we'll need them."

"Sounds like a good idea." Starbuck relaxed, "Andromeda, this is Colonel Tigh, the Galactica's executive officer, and Dr. Gaius Baltar, our most respected expert on computer systems and Cylons."

"Colonel, Doctor." Rommie nodded, "Captain Adama and my Android body are still in command. They are, discussing things..."

"You had no right to make that decision without consulting us!" Apollo slammed his fist down onto the control panel he was standing behind, "If the Cylons manage to over-ride your systems, this ship's considerable firepower could be turned on the fleet. We'd be attacked from two sides at once."

"Are you a High Guard officer?" Rommie asked, "Do you hold any commotion with the Systems Commonwealth? No? Well I do: as a ship's A.I. I hold the rank of Lieutenant Commander, which allows me to assume the position of Master and Commander of a High Guard vessel in situations like this where there are no other commissioned officers of same or higher rank."

"I DON'T TRUST YOU!" Apollo lost his self control, "YOU'RE AND A.I., AND A.I.'S CAN'T BE TRUSTED!"

"CONTROL YOUR SELF CAPTAIN." Colonel Tigh came through the doorway like a Hurricane looking for Florida, "You are supposed to be an officer and a Gentleman: act like one!" He turned to Rommie, "I apologies for his outburst: I would have expected something like that from Lieutenant Thrace, but I had higher-hope for our C.A.G."

"That's quite all right Colonel: Lieutenant Thrace has proven herself to be as out-spoken." Rommie nodded.

"Thank you." Tigh bowed, "If you don't mind, I would like to speak with Captain Adama and Lieutenant Thrace outside."

"Of course." Rommie nodded, "I would like to talk to Dr. Baltar about the Cylons."

"What the hell where you thinking?" Colonel Tigh paced the corridor some distance from command.

"I don't think we can trust her." Apollo crossed his arms, "Even if what she told us is true, how do we know that the Cylons can't take her over like they did our Battlestars?"

"I agree with you Captain, so does your father." Tigh stepped closer to Apollo and Starbuck, "But we need her help at the moment. If thing's start going badly or we still don't trust her when things are over, we'll deal with her..."

"If thing's start going badly or we still don't trust her when things are over, we'll deal with her..."

Deep within the V.R. matrix, Rommie watched the Colonial's plot her death.

"It's been 8 hours, and there's no sign of either the Cylons or the help you promised." Apollo glanced at Rommie, "Care to speculate?"

"It's a long way from here to Sinti Captain." Rommie didn't even look up, "It is quite possible that the relief force is already on its way, but won't get here for 4 hours." She looked up, "Hold. I'm picking up a slip-point opening 2 light-minuets out."

"Who is it?" Starbuck gripped pilot's controls, wishing she was back in her Viper.

"IFF says it's an Mk.7 transport, the Centurion Magnus, Tarazed defence force." Rommie smiled, "We're being hailed. Putting them through."

"Pillars of Hercules, this is Admiral Telemachus Rhade, are you receiving me." A voice came over in perfect Latin.

"Admiral Rhade, this is the Pillars of Hercules, we read you." Rommie crossed her arms behind her back, "We appreciate the help, and look forward to continuing this discussion in real-time. Hercules out."

"You know this Admiral Rhade?" Apollo asked.

"Yes, he's commander of the Tarazed defence force, and a descendant of my one-time first officer." Rommie smiled, "He's also Nietzschean. This should be interesting."

"What's a Nietzschean?" Baltar asked.

"The scientific name for humans is Homo Sapiens. Nietzscheans are Homo Sapien Invictus, a genetically-enhanced subspecies." Rommie explained, "Nietzscheans are bigger, faster and stronger than normal Humans. They are immune to most poisons and diseases, can breathe chlorine gas without harm, eat a much wider variety of foods, survive in harsher environments, and pride themselves on thriving where normal humans wouldn't dare to tread." She looked at the Colonials, "They are arrogant, vain, manipulative and selfish, but they love their children."

"You trust them?" Apollo asked.

"Let me put is this way." Rommie looked at him, "I trust Admiral Rhade more than I trust those why plot my death while seeking my help."

"Welcome aboard the Pillars of Hercules Admiral." Rommie came to attention at the bottom of the shuttle's ramp, "I must say, I never expected to see you personally."

"I was getting ready for a live-fire exercise when Mr Harper arrived and told us what was going on." Telemachus returned Rommie's salute, "It was decided that as my squadron was already on-board the Magnus that we'd be sent to assist you, along with a company of Lancer's."

"Of that I am thankful." Rommie nodded, "May I introduce Captain Lee Adama, Commander Air Group for the Battlestar Galactica, and Lieutenant Kara Thrace, his second in command. And this is Doctor Gaius Baltar, their most respected expert on computer systems and Cylons."

"Captain, Lieutenant." Telemachus nodded to the two Colonial officers, "Tell me Doctor, do you believe that they Cylons will attack?"

"Undeniably." The scientist seemed slightly distracted, "If they have found us, they will send everything they have. They want nothing less than the complete annihilation of the human species."

"Well, I doubt that they realize how big a task they have set themselves." Telemachus smiled, "Have you decided how to deploy the fleet?"

"If you could deploy your fighters as a screen around the civilian ships, the Hercules and the Galactica will engage the Cylon capital ships directly." Rommie turned to lead the way to command, "I have, with the help of Doctor Baltar, come up with a way to stop the Cylons from taking control of our fighter systems."

"Well then Gaius, look's like you've dodge the built this time." Number Six was leaning seductively against the corridor wall.

"Will you leave me alone?!" Baltar glared at her, "You know I would never have helped you if I'd known you where a Cylon...."

"Something you care to explain, Doctor Baltar?" Rommie's holographic form appeared in the corridor, "Or should I ask Captain Adama?"

"I met her about 2 years before the attack." Baltar was sat on a chair in the Hercules' breathing room, "She claimed to work for a company that wanted to win the contract to up-grade the Colonial defence systems. I admit that I let my attraction to her cloud my judgment: I allowed her access to the entire network, all of it. She said it was so that her company could make a more competitive bid when the contract came up for renewal."

"You had an affair with her?" Telemachus asked, leaning against the wall next to Rommie.

"If you could call it that." Baltar shook his head, "It was just sex: had I relay had any intention of making it anything more than that, I would never have cheated on her. It wasn't until the attack started that she told me who, what, she relay was." He looked up, "Billions died because I couldn't control myself."

"There's nothing we can do about that Doctor." Rommie's voice was calm and emotionless, "All we can do is try and save those in the ship's out there. How much do you know about Cylons?"

"Only what she tells me." Baltar saw the look on their faces, "She implanted a chip in my head. It contains a copy of her personality. It's wired into my brain so that she can torment me continuously. Sometimes she'll help, but mostly she just teases me."

"Is she here now?" Rommie asked.

"She's always 'here'; I just can't always see her." Baltar lowered his head, "But if you mean, is she visible now, then yes."

"Then she can hear us." Telemachus took a step forward, "Listen up Cylon, and listen good: you wouldn't have helped Gaius if you didn't want to live yourself. If we turn him over to the Colonials, they'll kill him, and that means you too. But if you help us, I will see to it that you both survive."

"What?" Rommie was shocked.

"The only hope we have to save these people is to find out how they think, and if that means doing a deal, then that's what we'll do." Telemachus looked at her, "Can you think of a better option?" Rommie just shook her head. "Ok the Doctor; let's hear what your friend has to say."

"Well?" Baltar seemed to ask thin air, then nodded and turned to the Nietzschean and the A.I., "She'll tell you what you want to know."

"Where is Dr. Baltar?" Apollo looked up at the main view screen, "He was meant to be here by now."

"Dr. Baltar is currently in medical, being treated for a migraine." Rommie looked down at the Colonial.

"Frack!" Apollo pulled a map from his pocket and traced the war from command to the newly re-activated medical bay, and started out.

"Captain Adama is on his way down." Rommie looked across to Telemachus, "I've told him that the Doctor has a migraine, but he didn't believe me."

"We knew this would come out eventually." The Nietzschean tapped the com-link just behind his ear, "Alpha Team: Captain Adama is on his way here, but under no circumstances is he to be allowed into medical without me express personal permission."

"You trust your men?" Rommie asked

"Alpha Team is my personal bodyguard: I trust them with my life." Telemachus looked through the observation bay window into the operating room, "And from a Nietzschean, that is high praise indeed." The sound of a heated argument came from the other side of the main door, "We'd better go deal with the good Captain."

"I want to see Dr. Baltar, and I want to see him now!" Apollo was all but yelling at the stony-faced Lancer's blocking the doorway, "He is a Colonial citizen, and as an officer of the Colonial Fleet, he is under my protection."

"That is no-longer the case." Telemachus stood in the doorway, arms crossed, "Dr. Baltar has requested and has been granted asylum by the sovereign world of Tarazed: he is now under my protection."

"That's a load of frack if ever I heard it!" Starbuck appeared at Apollo's side, "It's her doing!" She pointed at Rommie.

"I assure you that I was as surprised as you are Lieutenant." Rommie did her best to hide her contempt for the young pilot, "But under the terms of the Systems Commonwealth/Tarazed treaty, Admiral Rhade is senior officer present: it was his decision."

"I want to talk to Baltar." Apollo stood toe to toe with Telemachus, "I want to hear it from him."

"And you will." Telemachus looked amazingly calm, "Just as soon as he comes out of surgery."

"Surgery?" Apollo looked ready to explode, his hand moving down toward his holster, "What are you doing to him?"

"Our doctors are removing a neural implant from his frontal lobe." Rommie tried to get between the two men, "It's nothing we can't handle."

"What neural implant?" Starbuck asked, also resting her hand on her sidearm.

"The neural implant that contains the information we need." Telemachus looked like he didn't care that Apollo was ready to draw on him, "The neural implant put there by the Cylons."

"The human fleet is within sensor range. We are also picking up a number of unidentified craft."

"Life signs?"

"Mainly Human, but several unknowns."

"Are they fighting?"

"Negative: the unidentified craft seems to be taking up a defensive position around the human fleet."

"Send a Raider to test their defences: we will hold back here until we know what we are facing."

"By your command."

"What the frack are you talking about?" Apollo looked like he'd seen a ghost.

"A Cylon agent implanted a microchip inside Dr. Baltar's head at the time of the attack on your worlds." Telemachus silently extended his bone-blades to the ready position, "The chip contains a copy of the agent's personality. We hope that by studying this microchip that we will gain a better knowledge of their capabilities."

"Like hell!" Apollo went for his side arm.

Telemachus reacted faster: he slammed the palm of his right hand into the Colonial's solar-plexus, driving the wind from his lungs, then grabbed his shoulder and span him round to block Starbuck, his bone-blades against the young pilots neck. Starbuck went for her own weapon, but the two Lancers' had their forcelances out and ready.

"Now then." The Nietzschean sighed, "We have to work together, and that means trust: you have to trust us, and we have to trust you. Andromeda has replayed the discussion you had with your superior about trying to take her off-line, and I must say that the Nietzschean in me is impressed, but the rest of me is sickened." He release Apollo, who fell into Starbucks arms, struggling the breath, "We don't have to help you, but we have chosen too. That should be more than enough to prove our intentions are honourable. We need the information on the microchip to save your people, but if you can't trust us, we will pack our equipment onto the Centurion Magnus, sent this ship's auto-district, and leave."

"Hold." Rommie cocked her head to the side, "We have an unknown craft approaching at high speed. If I understand the information I've been given, it is a Cylon Raider."

"Destroy is." Telemachus looked over his shoulder.

"Kinetic missile away. Tracking." Rommie smiled, "its junk."

"Very good." Telemachus turned back to Apollo and Starbuck, "You have 1 hour to decide if you trust us or not."

"Well, let me be the first to congratulate you Captain." President Roslin sat at the conference room table, "That was a total and complete cluster-frack: in one ill thought-out moment, you managed to alienate the very people we've spent the past two years looking for."

"That was never my intention, Madam President." Apollo stood ram-rod straight, looking like a recruitment poster, "I was mealy attempting to ascertain the truth about Dr. Baltar..."

"So you tried to draw your weapon on their senior officer?" Commander Adama looked at his son, "What where you thinking?"

"It's complicated sir." Starbuck spoke up, "Admiral Rhade isn't human like us...."

"Yes, I've read the report." President Roslin lifted a sheet of paper from a folder, "Homo Sapien Invictus. I think we can agree that he's faster and stronger than we are." She looked at the two pilots, "But you still attacked him."

"Madam President, there is a distinct possibility that Dr. Baltar is in some way responsible for..." Apollo protested.

"I know full well what Dr. Baltar may be responsible for." The Colonial leader raised a hand to silence him, "But right now we have the problem of an impending attack by an un-known number of Cylon Basestar's. That is our most pressing problem." She turned to Commander Adama, "Can we hold them off on our own?"

"We could probably hold them long enough for the fuelled ship's to jump." Adama said after a few moments, "But we'd lose everything else, and probably the Galactica too."

"That's unacceptable." President Roslin shook her head, "Without the Galactica or her fighters to protect them, and no idea of where the nearest human colony is, they'd be defenceless."

"I tend to agree." Adama nodded, "But we should plan for it; in case of emergency."

"Agreed." The President stood, "Now I have to go and try and make nice to this Admiral Rhade, and hope that he doesn't pack up and leave."

"The probe has been destroyed."


"Do we attack?"

"Yes: start moving the fleet into attack position. As soon as they pick us up on their active sensors, send the activation code for the Number Seven."

"By your command."

"Pillars of Hercules, this is Colonial One: requesting permission to dock." Apollo asked from the transport's bridge.

"Colonial One, this is Admiral Rhade: permission to dock granted. Come in nice and slow." The reply came back over the radio.

"He doesn't sound happy." Commander Adama shook his head, "Not that we've given him any good reason."

"Well, let's see if we can change that." President Roslin rested a hand on the back of the pilot's seat, "Take us in nice and slow Lieutenant, just like the man said."

"Nice and slow, aye." Starbuck eased the ship forward, carefully guiding it through the High Guard ship's only airlock.

"By the Lords of Kobol!" Apollo looked out of the window, "What is THAT!" The daunting shape of a Planet fall Defence Bot stood at the end of the docking bay. "Pillars of Hercules, this is Colonial One: what the frack is going on!"

"Relax Colonial One: just a little precaution on our part." Telemachus sounded amused, "I think you can forgive us for being a little paranoid."

"Do we continue?" Starbuck asked.

"What choice do we have?" Commander Adama looked at the PDB, "That thing could turn us to scrap in seconds."

"Can I just say I think that this is a bad idea..." Starbuck brought the transport down carefully, unnerved by the towering robot.

"We have analyzed the reading from the unidentified ships."


"They are made of an unknown alloy that our sensors are unable to penetrate."

"Fascinating. How long until the Galactica picks us up?"

"100-microns until we reach their sensor range. We are unable to ascertain the unknown ship's capabilities."

"Very well: send the code to the Number Seven."

"By your command."

"Madam President, Commander, Admiral Telemachus Rhade of the Tarazed Defence Force, and Andromeda, core A.I. of the Starship's Andromeda Ascendant and Pillars of Hercules." Apollo started the introductions, "Admiral Rhade, Andromeda, allow me to introduce Laura Roslin, President of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, and Commander William Adama, commanding officer of the Battlestar Galactica."

"Madam President, Commander, on behalf of the restored Systems Commonwealth and the sovereign world of Tarazed, I welcome you on board the High Guard Starship Pillars of Hercules." Telemachus bowed slightly, "I take it you have come to a decision as to whether to accept our help or not?"

"Indeed we have Admiral." President Roslin took a deep breath, "I won't mince words, we don't have the time: we have 50,000-people who's only hope of survival is your cooperation. I can't apologies enough for Captain Adama's actions earlier, but we can't change the past: are you still willing to help us?"

"Indeed we are." Telemachus nodded, "We can not do much with what we have..."

"Hold!" Rommie's eyes went wide, "Multiple contacts on the edge of sensor range: I'm reading 5 capital ships and more than 400 fighters. Silhouette's match those of Cylon Basestar's and Raiders."

"It has begun." Telemachus looked round, "Tell the Centurion Magnus to launch her fighters and take up a defensive position between the civilian ship's and the Cylons..."

"WEAPON!" Rommie yelled, jumping between President Roslin and Boomer, who had drawn her side arm and aimed it at the Colonial leader.

"Colonel, we're picking up a massive Cylon fleet on the edge of sensor range: 5 Basestar's and more than 400 Raiders." Lieutenant Gaeta, the Galactica's Tactical Officer looked at the main radar screen, "They are closing in on our position."

"Set condition one throughout the ship." Colonel Tigh took a deep breath, "Launch all fighters, contact the Commander and make sure he's aware of the situation."

The first two rounds from Boomer's gun hit Rommie in the chest, knocking her back into President Roslin, the two of them falling to the ground. Telemachus drew his forcelance, hitting the extender button so that the end shot out, catching Boomer's arm and knocking her gun from her grip. He span the forcelance round, catching her a glancing blow on the side of the head that didn't even slow her down as she went for the knife in her boot.

One of the Tarazed Lancer stepped forward behind Boomer and touched the end of his forcelance against her head, the capacitor discharging on contact. The young Lieutenant dropped to the deck like a puppet with the strings cut. The Lance moved in for the kill.

"Don't!" Telemachus yelled, "Someone mind telling me what the hell just happened?"

"The Lieutenant just tried to shoot President Roslin." Rommie sat up, opening her still smoking tunic to reveal an amour vest underneath, "I picked up a powerful transmission from the Cylon fleet just went crazy."

"By the Lords of Kobol, she's a Cylon agent." Adama looked like he'd been punched in the gut, "I've known her almost four years..."

"The recriminations can wait." Rommie helped President Roslin to her feet, "We'd better get her locked up and you back to your ship: we got incoming hostiles, and this is going to be one hell of a fight..."

"The Number Seven has been incapacitated."

"Did it send any information back?"

"Some: the humans have found the thirteenth tribe. They are now part of an organization called the Systems Commonwealth."

"Interesting, but now is not the time: begin the attack."

"Admiral, the Cylon fighters have accelerated to attack speed..."

"Colonel, they're coming..."