DR: Okay, this was going to be just a short story setting up these characters for their introduction in my 'Legacies' Story arc. But of course, things rarely work out so simple... So while this is a introduction of sorts, this story can be considered a stand-alone one too.
Zeke: So when do we see them?
DR: Patience Zeke. All in good time. Now, before anyone gets confused I'll list the definations I'm using. This is set shortly after HOG.
I'm using the time units from here: www. chrispappas. com/ archives/ timeunit. html (You'll need to remove the spaces I'm afraid) When talking about distance on scanners, ie 'thirty-five microns out.', they mean light-microns, sort of like light-years. They just drop the first bit XD
A full squadron of Vipers consists of thirty-six (36) craft
Shadow: Yea, yea, lets get on with it! Chapter 1: A Voice From the Wilderness
Chapter 1: A Voice From the Wilderness
Commander Adama stood before his seat, his hands resting on the railing around his command pedestal on the bridge. He had done this so many times in the last several dozen yahrens that his back no longer complained.
Yet to those who knew him, as most of the bridge crew now did, there was a spark in his eye, an air of joy about him. It was felt by everyone throughout the fleet. Shortly after the fleet had entered the black void between galactic spiral arms, a message had been received, sent across the black of space to them.
The contents of that message had been amazing, and had sent ripples of hope and joy throughout the fleet. He could still remember that day as clear as crystal…
x x x x x x
Adama sighed in relief as the last shuttle returned to the Galactica, Apollo giving him the all clear. The release of the traitor Baltar had been hotly debated by the Quorum of Twelve, but Adama had put his foot down, explaining that it had been the information that Baltar had provided that had allowed Apollo and Starbuck to blind the Basestar, enabling the Galactica to sneak up on and destroy it. He had also pointed to the escape attempt by Baltar before, citing that it was for the best that the venomous snake was put somewhere where he could do no further harm. Siress Tina had supported him completely, and slowly the others had been won around.
Now, six sectons later during which the various ships of the fleet had gathered what they could from the planets in this system, the fleet was preparing to move off again. Adama had wished to be off sooner, but the discovery of a large vein of Tyilum in the third planet had called for the longer delay. They were going to need all the fuel they could get, for who knows when their next stop would be?
But now at last they could move off, short one traitor who was to remain on the second planet. It would not be easy, the ambient temperature being much lower that Caprica had been and wildlife scarce, but it was enough to survive.
The long stay had also allowed the people of the fleet to get in some much need maintenance on the ships, and to shuffle around some people to free up space. It hadn't helped that one of the oldest ships in the fleet was on the verge of catastrophic failure, too risky to keep. Luckily it was also the slowest ship, so hopefully they would make better time.
Once confirmation that the shuttle was safely on board, he turned to Omega, the bridge operations officer and third in command. "Omega, signal the fleet. Come to full power and set best speed." He didn't have to explain further. Omega already knew what he was saying.
"Ay Sir." Turning to his console, Omega began to send the orders to the ship masters of the fleet.
Adama turned to look out of the bridge view port, letting his hands rest on the railing before him as he did so. Through the railing, he could feel the vibrations that travelled down the Galactica's massive hull as her huge energisers spun up to full power, supplying the vast amounts of power to kick start the ion accelerator engines once more. Slowly but ever increasing in speed, the Galatica crept away from the star system trailed by the fleet, like some huge and ancient space dragon leading her young to safety.
x x x x x x
"Adama's personal log. Begin recording.
"It has been nearly a sectar since we left the star system on the rim of 'our' galaxy. Since then the fleet has entered what only be described as a void in space, a vast empty gulf between clusters of stars. Looking ahead, we have for the first time in Colonial history been able to truly get a sense of where we are in the galaxy as a whole. For some time our scientists theorised that the region of stars we know as 'The Galaxy' was in fact a slightly separate chunk of a spiral arm belonging to a much larger Galaxy. And now we have entered the gap between two of those arms. A curtain of stars lies ahead of us and behind us, while far to our right there is a cluster so dense it is like a ball of light.
"I am now convinced that Earth must lie somewhere in the next spiral arm, far from our old homes. How long must it have taken the Thirteenth Tribe to cross these huge distances I wonder? And why did they not settle on many of the planets we have passed before now, such as Paradeen, Terra or the rest? And how advanced will our brothers of Earth be when we finally reach them? I fear that many of these questions will never be answered.
"The people of the fleet remain calm, and supportive. So far very few have expressed concerns about the gulf we have entered. Indeed, we have seen a marked increase in the number of people wishing to join the Colonial Military. It appears that Apollo and Starbuck's venture has had a greater affect than I thought.
"Speaking of Apollo, I am heartened that he at last appears to be allowing himself to feel again. The death of his wife Serina affected him deeply. I can understand his pain, since with Illa's death during the Destruction of the Colonies, compounded by the death of my younger son Zac, I felt the loss of a part of myself. I can only hope that Apollo will now move on with his life, as I had to do. Sheba clearly feels for him. It fills my heart with joy to think about…"
Adama didn't finish his thought because his console buzzed. Shutting down the recorder, he hit a button to receive the hail. Leaning forwards, he spoke clearly into the mike on his desk. "Yes?"
Colonel Tigh's voice filtered through. "Commander, I think you'd better get up here." His voice sounded calm, aloft, but Adama had known Tigh for a long time. They had been fellow warriors together, and Adama could just tell that something was bothering the usually unflappably colonel.
"I'll be up at once." Signing off, Adama quickly strode from his quarters, his mind churning as he moved through the Galactica. What could be so important that Tigh was unable to handle it himself? Very little could rustle Tigh these days, and Adama felt a tendril of dread running up his spine. 'Please, let it be anything but Cylons…'
Stepping onto the bridge, Adama's eyes roamed the cavernous chamber as he walked towards his command pedestal. There was none of the worried tension that filled the air whenever Cylons were spotted, indeed the bulk of the bridge crew were going about their business as normal.
Stepping up to the pedestal, he focused on Colonel Tigh himself. His was bent over the communications station, where Adama's lovely daughter Athena worked. The two of them had their heads together, both staring at the screen before her. Omega was one to one side, looking both worried and excited at the same time.
"Report Colonel." Adama asked quietly as he stopped behind him. Tigh turned to face Adama, his dark skin wrinkled in concern.
"Commander, our long range comm systems have picked up a transmission."
"Another Gamma frequency fragment?" Shortly after the party following the destruction of the Basestar, Apollo had returned to the celestial dome above the engines, where Starbuck had found him. When he had returned he had been more excited than anyone had seen since the Destruction. While he had been gone, the domes automated systems had recorded a second fragment. Thanks to the signal booster Boomer had rigged up, it was much clearer than the earlier one. The language was unknown, but similar enough to Colonial standard that the computer could translate it, though some words made no sense. But the image was clear, if fuzzy and grainy. It had been the landing of some type of ship on a barren looking plain.
After that, Apollo had managed to get a gamma frequency receiver attached to the main comm system. Since then they had been picking up small fragments, the odd word or image.
Tigh shook his head. "No sir. It was a tight beam transmission, coming from behind us."
"Behind us?" Adama felt that chilly dread rise higher. And a tight beam transmission meant only one thing. The sender knew where they were, or at least had a very good idea.
Tigh nodded. "Yes sir. And there's something else. It was on Fleet Comm Line Beta."
"Beta?" Adama's eyes widened as he realised just what Tigh had said. While Alpha had been a direct and highly secure line between major warships, Beta had been the main message channel between all ships in the Colonial Fleet. It was most often used to relay messages in simple text format, allowing much longer range communication between fleets. 'Could it be possible?' "Voice message?"
This time Athena answered. "No Father, it's a text message. Encoded." Her fingers rested above the keys. "Shall I run the decode program?"
Adama thought about it for a couple of microns. "Very well, but have the output written to a card, not the main computer." As Athena set to work, Tigh stepped closer.
"You don't think it could be a Cylon trick do you?"
"Tigh, I wouldn't put anything past them. But… if this truly is what we think it is…" A smile formed on Adama's face, reflecting his unvoiced thoughts. Then he forced it down, slipping back into his command face. "Once that message is decoded, have it brought to my quarters immediately."
x x x x x x
Apollo slowly walked towards his father's quarters, questions flying round inside his head. Athena had already told him about the message that had come in, and how Adama had wanted to look through the decoded result first and alone. Apollo could understand that, but that had been almost two centares ago. The message wasn't that large, surely he would have been finished before now!
He looked to his right, where Athena and Sheba walked besides him. Both women were clearly thinking the same thing as himself, their brows furrowed. Behind the three of them Tigh walked beside Siress Tina, with Starbuck bringing up the rear.
At last they reached the cabin door, and it fell to Apollo to ring the announcer. He rung it, then paused. When His father did not respond, he rung it again, slightly longer this time.
"Enter." Adama called from within, his voice wavering.
Worried by his fathers tone, Apollo hurried through, the others quickly following him. They quickly arrayed themselves around the room, watching Adama where his sat at his desk, focused on the reader in his hands.
"Father, what is it?" Athena asked, worry in her voice. At last Adama looked up, and everyone was stunned to see tears running down his cheeks. But there was also a smile on his lips. The combination threw Apollo off course. Since when did his father cry?
"Father…" He echoed his sister's words. Wordlessly Adama turned the reader about so the others could see. They each stepped forward to read the text displayed.
TO: Caprica Battlestar Galactica>
FROM: Scorpia Battlecruiser Thunderchild>
Adama, I hope you're the one reading this. You're as stubborn as a Scorpia native when it comes to losing, so I'd expect you to be still alive and kicking. I know the strain you've been under lately. I'm sorry I haven't contacted you sooner, but I thought it was best until we left Cylon space far behind.
Suffice it to say, you're not alone.
I'm currently the de-facto leader of a number of other ships, some from the fleet, some civilian. We've been running interference in your wake, tearing apart the Cylons supply lines and generally making things hard for those gulmogging tin cans to track you. Nice work at Gamoray BTW, you made quite a mess of their outer capital. Good thing you didn't smash the fuel depot, since we were able to fill our tanks as well. And I have to say congratulations on killing that Basestar. That's the Adama I remember. From what we've gathered, I don't think they even realise you killed it yet.
Can't say much more right now, but I'll be in contact again. We'll stay apart for the moment, until we're sure that the Cylons are not following our ion trails. When things look safe, I'll gather my ships together and we'll catch up with you.
Looking forwards to seeing your face once more. Oh, and don't call us, we'll call you.
END OF MESSAGE>
Apollo looked up at Adama, his jaw still hanging. Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see Sheba's eyes were wide in shock, while Tigh was clearly stunned. At last he got his voice back. "Father, this is… it's… unbelievable."
"I know son…" Adama answered him. "It seems incredible that others escaped separately, but it appears so."
"Father, I've never heard of a Battlecruiser Thunderchild." Athena stated, her voice wavering slightly. "What if this message is a Cylon fake?"
"Athena…" Adama gently scolded. "You decoded the message yourself. The Cylons, for all their technical might, could not have broken our encoding routines. Certainly not the code used for this message. As for your other point, there is no 'Battlecruiser' Thunderchild, but there was a heavy cruiser called Thunderchild, Protector Class. She was one of our oldest ships, almost nine hundred yahrens old. Almost a sectar before the peace offer, she engaged a Cylon taskforce. She defeated it, but suffered heavy damage. Afterwards, it was decided to rebuild her, as the second prototype ship of our new battlecruisers, a replacement for the Protector class. I gathered they wanted to see if they could convert the old ships into the new models."
Now Tigh spoke up. "I thought that project was put on hold when the Cylons offered their peace treaty?"
"It was, but clearly it was nearer completion than was generally thought." Adama frowned. "The Cylons could have found her half built, and used it to gain access to the codes needed, but somehow I doubt that."
"So, what are we going to do?" Siress Tina asked, speaking for the first time. "What do we tell the people?" Adama sat in thought for a few moments, thinking hard, before he replied.
"For the moment, nothing. Let's try to keep this to ourselves. I know the rumour mill is mostly likely already afoot within the Galactica's crew, but hopefully it won't spread to the general population." He held up a hand as Siress Tina opened her mouth to speak. "I do plan to tell the people, but only once we have proof that this message is genuine. I don't want our people's hopes raised only to be dashed, again." He did not need to elaborate on his meaning. The episode involving Terra had affected the people's morale badly.
"In the meantime, Tigh you and Apollo, Starbuck and Sheba try to keep a lid on our warriors. Let them know the basics, but impress on them the need to keep things in perspective. We don't have proof that this is real, and not a cruel hoax played by the Cylons. Siress, can you do the same with the Council?" Everyone nodded in reply.
"Good." Adama smiled as he rose from his seat, wiping away the last of his tears. "Now, return to your duties. And pray to the Lords of Kobal that the proof we need, one way or another, comes soon."
x x x x x x
Over the next couple of sectons, a dozen more messages were sent to them. Slowly more small facts built up to the point that even the most sceptical warrior believed the messages to be genuine. And then the message that they had all been waiting for came in, just as the Galactica's long range sensors detected a star system ahead, on the very fringe of the Galactic spiral arm they were heading for. The Thunderchild's commander had decided it was time for the scattered ships to gather and link up with the Galactica.
The people of the fleet had gone wild with joy at the thought that more of their brethren had survived the Holocaust. While it was repeatedly mentioned that the chances of individual relatives having survived was remote, it did not throw a damper on the fever that ran throughout the fleet.
So today, five sectons after that first message from the deep and with the fleet holding station around the third planet of this dead system, the sender of that message was coming in.
Behind him, Adama could hear Colonel Tigh pace about, every now and then asking Omega for a sensor report. The Galactica's long range sensors had picked up the contacts a few centares ago. Now it was a case of waiting for them to reach visual range.
The rustle of fabric alerted Adama to the presence of another person on the raised command platform. Turning his head, Adama's smile widened as he looked upon the face of his son Apollo. Like himself, Apollo had an air of excitement about him, not unlike the excitement he had had just before he had been sealed to Serina. Behind him, Adama could see Starbuck, Boomer, Sheba and Bojay hanging back. Each one was smiling as broadly as Apollo.
"Father, the contacts are cresting the planet now." Athena's voice was filled with excitement, her eyes dancing in a way that Adama had not seen since the Destruction of the Colonies.
"They'll be in visual range within microns…" Tigh breathed.
For the next few centons nobody on the bridge dared breathe, so desperately were they in not ruining this moment.
Typically, it was the eagle-eyed Apollo who picked them out first. "There they are!" He cried, one hand shooting out to point at the main window. Adama strained his eyes for a second… then he too saw them.
At first only specks of off white, each one rapidly expanded into the form of a ship.
Colonial warships, plus a number of civilian ones.
A little over thirty ships, more survivors of the Destruction.
Leading the procession, head of the fleet, was the ship that had made that first contact. The ship that had reached out from the darkness, and brought a new ray of hope to the battered Battlestar and her people.
The Predator Class Battlecruiser Thunderchild.
Adama allowed his eyes to wander along her length. He had only seen the initial concept design for the new battlecruiser, 'the ships that would win the war', or so her designers had claimed. She had a long and narrow head, sharper than the battlestars. Like the more modern designs that stemmed from the Battlestar Project, her ion drives were arranged side by side, rather than the vertical configuration of the older ships. They were also lower relative to the hull, creating a very 'flat' ship. But it was where her landing bays, lifted straight from a Protector, joined the rest of the ship that things were radically different. Instead of the single spar like her predecessor or the multiple spars of a battlestar, Thunderchild had a long, thick wing linking the bays to the main hull. The result created a solid, heavy looking hull that could withstand far more punishment than her size suggested.
But it wasn't just her tough hull that gave her the name battlecruiser. She was also heavily armed, almost as well armed as a battlestar. A 'Pocket Battlestar' was a tag that Adama had heard one designer had slapped onto the ship. Looking along the ship, he noted a trio of massive turrets on her upper surface, much larger than a standard Colonial turret.
Behind her was a ship almost as large as the Galactica. The mobile shipyard was a dream come true for the weary engineers of the Galactica, as the old girl was in desperate need of repairs that could only be achieved in a shipyard. It had once been an Assaultstar, a ship built to bombard Cylon bases from orbit. But the project fell out of favour and the three Assaultstars built were rarely used in their primary role. The off-centre hull and un-balanced design did not sit well with Colonial commanders, and the massive bomb racks in a port pod had always been troublesome. The only saving grace had been the designed feature to prevent a catastrophic explosion in the racks taking out the whole ship. After the seventh such event, the Assaultstars were returned to the shipyards to be scrapped. But Scorpia designers had come up with a refit for the ships, and one had been saved from the scrapheap to try it out. That ship was now more than welcome here.
Next was an expanded Argo-ship. With twice as many greenhouse domes as a regular version, she would provide a boon for the fleet's provisions.
Four Colonial Mover ships trailed just behind the Argo-ship, and all five were surrounded by six military freighters. Faster and tougher than any civilian ship, they were also well armed and capable of fending off Raiders. Even the Cylons newer gunships had to be careful around them. Just behind that group a pair of Gemini freighters flanked a mineral ship.
Two of the lethal Tiger heavy destroyers glided besides the shipyard, their lethal battery of forward heavy beam lasers and pulsars gleaming, while surrounding the freighters were no less that twelve venerable Guardian destroyers. The Guardians were a staple of the Colonial fleet, having fought the Cylons for over eight hundred Yaherns. Their compact design allowed for a fast and agile vessel, while the row of light turbolaser gun ports down each flank had spelled doom for many a raider. The Tigers, despite being a new design, had also gained a fearsome reputation as warship killers, with no less than seven Baseships to their credit.
And lastly, bringing up the rear was a Searcher class explorer vessel. 'So that's how they've kept track of us.' Adama thought, looking over the massive sensor pods fitted to the little ship.
For several microns everyone on the bridge watched spell bound, still struggling to believe the evidence of their eyes. Nearly all of them expected to wake up and discover that it had all been a dream.
Then a hail came in on Fleet Comm Line Alpha.
Adama brought it up himself, only half aware that the entire bridge crew were listening to him. The rest of him was focused on the face that appeared on the screen before him.
"Commander Adama. Good to see you again, after all this time." The smiling face said. Adama felt his jaw drop slightly. He barely noticed the cheers around him as the bridge crew, indeed the entire battlestars crew, let their feelings loose and celebrated.
x x x x x x
A couple of centares later, Adama, Apollo, Athena, Starbuck, Athena, Sheba, Boomer, Bojay and the Council of twelve stood waiting at the end of the shuttle bay. Several dozen other warriors had turned out for the arrival of the shuttle from the Thunderchild.
As the boxy craft flew in, Adama could only shake his head slightly as he recalled the conversation he had had with the commander of the Thunderchild. Colonel Achilles had served on the Galactica a half-dozen yahrens ago, as part of an experimental squadron. Back then he had only been a young Lieutenant, in command of a dozen fighters.
'And now he's a Colonel, commanding one of our most modern ships.' Adama's thoughts were interrupted by the shuttle touching down. For a few microns nothing happened, before the entry hatch swung open. Quickly Achilles strode out, a sly grin plastered on his face. He wore the blue uniform of a Colonel like Tigh, but he also had a Warrior's jacket over the top. His almost black hair seemed to soak in the light, but his blue eyes shone instead.
As one, the gathered warriors cheered as the Colonel stepped forward towards Adama. Behind him a string of other officers stepped out of the shuttle.
Adama beamed at the younger man standing before. "The lords of Kobal bless you." He said warmly as they both grasped each others wrists.
"Well, I must have done something right these last few yahrens." Achilles quipped, his eyes dancing. He turned his head to look across at Apollo. "I heard about your promotion Apollo. Belated congratulations."
"Thanks, but you've got ahead of me." Apollo grinned, before the two old friends embraced in a back-slapping hug.
"Right place at the right time, nothing more." Achilles waved his rank off. "Now…" he began stepping back. "Where is that lovely sister of…" He was cut off as Athena stepped over herself to enfold him in another tight hug.
"Welcome back!" She said warmly, while over her shoulder Adama could see Starbuck shift his feet slightly. For a while, it had seemed that Starbuck would have lost Athena's attentions to the man from Scorpia. But then his transfer orders had come through, and the Galactica's crew had to say goodbye to the quiet, yet popular and highly skilled pilot.
"Thanks. It's good to be back." Achilles's eyes wandered over the cavernous bay. It was clear to Apollo that he was remembering the old times.
Then his eyes came to rest on Starbuck, and a crafty light entered them.
"Ah Starbuck. Still here I see. You haven't managed to get rid of him yet Commander?" Achilles words were only jovial. During the time he had been stationed on Galatica, he and Starbuck had been at odds about everything but flying. "How many Vipers have you wrecked since I left eh?"
Starbuck just pulled his trademark grin out. "Only three." He replied, sliding a cigar from his pocket.
Achilles shook his head. "They still haven't cured you of that habit have they?"
Starbuck snorted. "The day I quit is the day I turn into a women." That quip brought a round of laughter from all gathered.
Adama used the break to take charge again. "Are these the captains of the other ships?" He gestured to the line of men and women who had followed Achilles out of the shuttle.
"Yes sir. We figured that you'd want to see everyone as soon as we arrived, so we decided that we'd all use one shuttle to get here and not clutter up your flight deck."
"Good thinking Colonel. Now, perhaps we should move on to the council chambers…"
"One moment Commander." Achilles politely interrupted Adama, sending a ripple of surprise across the gathered crews faces. One does not interrupt a Commander in the Colonial Fleet unless it was very important. In response to Adama's look, Achilles stepped back to the shuttle door. "I have something here that you are going to like, a lot." He looked into the open hatchway and then beckoned.
Slowly a woman stepped out, favouring her left leg. Her long hair had turned silvery and fell across her face, hiding her identity. Her clothing was clearly once fine material, and to be fair was still in good shape. Once she had stepped up to Achilles, she turned to face Adama and lifted her chin, her hair falling back to reveal her face.
As one, Adama, Apollo and Athena's jaws fell. As did the woman's.
"Illa?" Adama whispered, clearly in shock.
"Mother?" Athena gasped.
Illa could only gape, too stunned to respond with words. Remembering an old saying about actions over words, she took a halting step forwards.
Within the next micron, she was engulfed in Adama's arms, their foreheads resting against the others. Apollo and Athena stood each side, joining in on the family hug. Tears began to flow as at last she found her voice.
"Oh Adama, husband…" Illa looped an arm around her two children, pulled them to her.
As Adama hugged her again, he felt tears run down his cheeks. But he didn't care, as he was too busy thanking the Lords of Kobal for bringing the dearest piece of his heart back.
DR: I am such an old softy... Both in the story and for all you lucky people, since I'll update this every two days. Credit to Todd Boyce for designing a raft of Colonial warships, including the Protector, Guardian, Assaultstar and Searcher.
Jack: So the next is...?
DR: On Monday. See you then. Oh, and don't forget to R&R!