NOTES: At this stage, I haven't seen anything more than the miniseries and the first episode, so some of the actions that happen in this story may be defunct. I'm sorry if that is the case.

The Greatest Of All Treasures

She walks through the corridors of the antiquated Battlestar, nodding at the people who acknowledge her as she passes them. Here and there she sees a familiar face; Colonel Tigh gives her a nod, Captain Apollo smiles, and the small dark girl that Billy liked eyes her, then looks briefly abashed and hurries away.

This ship - like her own Colonial One - has people, purpose, and hope.

Forty-eight hours worth of peace, quiet, and, most of all, sleep, gives a new perspective on the universe as the tension in every body unwinds like a spool of thread.

They have outrun the Cylons, they have slept, eaten, and they are alive.

After days on the run, the refugees of the twelve colonies have a little respite and a little hope.

They have hope.

Such a fragile thing it is, and yet the greatest of all treasures.

Laura doesn't tell them that their hope is false.

Before she entered politics, she was a schoolteacher - an instructor of children, guiding their minds in the direction of paths of knowledge. Yet even the oldest children she taught did not always learn everything of the topics in which she guided them. There were some things most likely beyond their comprehension when she taught them. They were not always ready to know the whole truth.

Walking through the ship, she wonders if anyone ever is ready to know the whole truth.

Some truths burn like fire, searing to the core, scarring to the soul. Some truths corrupt like cancer, eating at the heart.

She isn't sure which one this is.

But only two people know it for a lie, although others may suspect: he, the last commander of the fleet, she the last President of the colonies of Kobol.

May the Lords of Kobol watch over them all. There is nothing and nobody else left to watch over them.

She makes her way through the ship, greeting those who she knows, acknowledging those who greet her. She is a symbol of normality to them: they have lost their families, their homeworlds, their belief that they are safe, and they flee for their lives, but life and living go on.

At least for a little while.

Laura Roslin will not go on indefinitely, though. Her cancer makes sure of that. Sooner or later it will catch up to her, consume her. Like the Cylons, perhaps? Eating away at their meagre resources, infiltrating their people with human-looking Cylons, until there is nothing left but a quiet dying?

At the door to the commander's quarters, she pauses, then knocks. Faintly, through the door, she hears the strains of music, and the deep, gruff voice of William Adama. "Come in."

He is not a man for ceremony; he glances up at her as she enters but does not rise. "President."

"Commander."

Laura closes the door behind her, he gestures to a seat. A glass of water is waiting for her, poured out in expectation of her arrival. He reaches out and turns down the music, but doesn't turn it off; her mind vaguely recognises the music but she cannot identify the opera itself. Then again, she was not an opera buff. A lover, yes, but without the time or inclination to more fully appreciate the art.

It seems strange that he is.

If his quarters are any indication, he has eclectic tastes in philosophy, literature, history, and art. It's all strangely out of place with her perception of him as a military hardass. Then again, she has little doubt that he thinks of her as merely a schoolteacher.

So many things to adjust in their minds; so many things that need their time and effort.

So little time in which to adjust to them.

"Is the baby doing well?" At her momentary confusion, he continues. "The child born on the Rising Star?"

The phrasing tickles her fancy. "I suppose it could be considered an auspicious event."

Commander Adama acknowledges the pun with something like a smile, but instantly decries her words. "I'm not one for omens."

Laura isn't surprised. "Baby and parents are all doing well." It is news she is glad to give; so different to the news of the last few days.

He is not an expressive man when it comes to matters of personal emotion, but she likes to think she can read the smaller motions of his face. And if she has judged him right, he is glad.

One life is very little in the face of the thirteen hundred lost. Then again, fifty thousand - or, more correctly, forty-seven thousand, nine hundred and seventy-three - is very little in the face of twelve billion lost.

For small mercies, they can be grateful to the Lords of Kobol.

He regards her over the rim of his reading glasses. "And so they start having babies."

She smiles. There is a hint of mischief in his gaze, a prod at the statement she made when they argued over what was to be done in the face of the Cylon attack. "It would have happened sooner or later."

He pauses, a momentary stillness that catches her eye for its rarity. There is a sense of fluidity about him, an unceasing depth that is rarely shaken. It is shaken now.

Laura asks the question because she does not know what else to do. "Was it something I said?"

The dark eyes meet her gaze, and then drop away to the forms and files again. "A memory," he says, and there is gruffness in his voice.

She does not ask.

Silence falls between them, and the music seems to swell with the opening strains of Pacini's 'The Sleepless Night' - an aria that holds more portentous irony for their recent situation than the composer ever thought when he wrote libretto and music.

"No-one shall sleep!
No-one shall sleep!
"

It echoes their situation of the last few days; trapped between waking and sleeping, caught on the back foot and running for their lives.

But, more immediately, Laura recognises the recording - and the tenor who sings it - and is surprised that she does. "Evanydd Wenys of the Caprica Opera Company?"

"His last recording."

"Were you at his last performance?" It was nearly six years ago, but she still remembers the richness of the tenor voice soaring through the hall - fit to make the hardest heart weep.

He shakes his head. "One of the last ones," he says. "Not the last. You?"

"President Adar was given a dozen tickets," she explains. "Most of his cabinet had little love for opera, and the then-Minister for Defence, Robert Chiroh, gave me his."

She still remembers the awesome grandeur of the opera house in Caprica City, unlike any other house through the colonies. Sunset washed orange over the white tiles of the arched roof of the building that evening, and Laura paused to admire the spectacular design and engineering execution of the sail-like roofs - a Leonon architect's vision - and pulled her shawl closer in the breeze.

"My wife wanted to see him perform live," he says, after a moment. "She bought the recording for me a year later."

Again, there are more memories in his words than he will relate. Laura doesn't expect to be told - he is not the confiding kind, and she does not wish to become his confidant.

But in some things, there will be no avoiding his confidences.

The slip of paper is pushed across the table. Folded in half, the upper edge springs half-open, bouncing slightly.

Her fingers hesitate on the edge of the paper as she looks at him, and he nods it towards her.

The typeface is standard, the message cryptic.

There are 12 Cylon models.

After leaving Aaron Doral - whoever or whatever he was - on Ragnar, after the rumours that have swept through the Galactica, and are slowly seeping through the civilian ships, and after the loss of the Olympic Carrier, it takes little for her to reach a conclusion.

"Someone knows more about the Cylons than they're telling us."

"Someone who may or may not have been on the Olympic Carrier," he says.

"Dr. Baltar hasn't come up with any other matches for Cylon physiology," Laura muses. "Although he is acting very strangely."

The words are said with more humour than belief. "Maybe he's a Cylon, too."

Improbable, but not impossible. "It would be one way of diverting attention from himself," she concedes. "But he's got too much public history. President Adar knew him from back in college days." The slip of paper is laid down again. "There was a man aboard the Olympic Carrier - a Dr. Amorak - who claimed he knew more about the Cylon invasion."

"And he died with the others."

"Or was taken by the Cylons." Laura pauses. "How did you get this?"

"It was left in here." He indicates the low table in the middle of the room.

"I can find out if he was ever on this ship."

He holds up one hand. "Don't bother. We keep a log of who visits the ship. I'll have it checked."

"But if not..."

"Then we have someone who knew about the Cylons beforehand."

"And said nothing." Worse than a Cylon in their midst, a turncoat who knew what was about to happen and kept silent. Someone who betrayed his own race, his own kind.

"And said nothing."

"Why?" What would any human gain in the annihilation of the human race?

His eyes are troubled. "I don't know."

The slip of paper is laid back on the table and she shifts, with a sigh. They are running from destruction to nowhere, and nobody knows it but them. They have people among them who are not human and might betray them at any moment. And now they have the possibility of a traitor in their midst.

She remembers why she never liked politics.

"So," she says, voicing her question as the President of the twelve colonies to the Chief Military Advisor, "what do we do about it?"

His expression takes on a thoughtful cast as he regards her. "We wait for them to betray themselves."

"Sooner or later?"

"Sooner or later." He doesn't quite smile.

In the background, Master Wenys reaches the musical pinnacle of his aria.

"Depart, oh night!
Set, you stars!
Set, you stars!
At dawn I shall win!
I shall win! I shall win!
"

Laura doesn't believe in portents any more than the Commander; but she has hope that they will survive and live and thrive, somewhere where the Cylons can't reach them, where the Cylons won't get them. Perhaps not Earth, but somewhere.

She has hope that they will win.

Even the knowledge of all that is against them cannot douse hope.

- fin -

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Pacini's 'The Sleepless Night' is, of course Puccini's 'Nessun Dorma' from the opera Turandot - immortalised by the Three Tenors back in the early 90s. Don't ask me how 19th Century Italian opera gets from Earth to the Colonies, I needed an aria to hear in order to write this, and 'Nessun Dorma' was it. The English translation of the aria was found via google.

According to the visuals of my mind, the Caprica City Opera House resembles the Sydney Opera House, designed by Jorn Utzon.

The title of the fic is referenced from Terry Pratchett's recent Discworld novel, Going Postal: "That greatest of treasures, which is hope."