The Dioskouroi System, Six Years After The Fall Of The Colonies.

Admiral William Adama relaxed in his office chair. He looked out of the large picture window his office had in the large space station that was called Admiralty Hub. Beyond, he saw the shipyards that the Terran Imperial Navy, in cooperation with the revived Colonial Fleet, had constructed in orbit around Castor and which were currently being expanded.

Things have progressed well after the Fleet had arrived at Alquonde Fleet Node. All of the Colonials had been awed at the size of the Terran naval base, which dwarfed even what they had seen at Sandoval System. It was quite clear that the Terrans had extensively expanded Alquonde in preparation for the grand offensive that had carried the front lines of what the Terrans termed The Long War deep into Raptor space, and that the Terrans were indeed massing immense follow-up forces to not only secure what they had taken from the Raptors but to carry the War even further into the territory of the Raptor Dominion. The forces that they were deploying to follow up Sixteenth Fleet, as well as its sister fleets, only rammed home to the Colonials (not to mention the Cylon defectors, who had ben assigned their own transports in the Fleet by the Terrans) just how immense the Terran Empire was, both in size of territory and in the amount of resources it was deploying to bring the Long War to an end once and for all. They were even more amazed to learn that on the other side of the Imperium the Terrans were carrying out exploration and colonisation efforts in addition to the effort being made to fight the Long War.

Not long after they had arrived the Fleet was directed to what many at first thought was yet another large habitat. Adama and the Fleet's leaders, however, knew that this was not merely a habitat but the colony ship they had purchased with the credits they had earned when they had sold their claims to both New Caprica and the system the Terrans had discovered them in. This was soon realised by many in the Fleet who, while having served in the Colonial Fleet, were for various reasons no longer active when they saw the large jump drives mounted on either side of the ship. It was capable of holding up to sixty thousand people, which gave the Colonials plenty of room inside. Once the Colonial population had settled in the Terran Empire's Contacts Service began their carefully planned and prepared lessons, while the Colonial Office began to educate people in how to operate the largely automated industrial and farming complexes that were at the rear of the habitat.

While the Colonials' general population was being educated about the universe they had suddenly found themselves in, the ships of the Fleet were spacedocked for a complete overhaul that was even more thorough that the one they had had at Sandoval. Alquonde possessed not only extensive overhaul facilities but also had shipyard that were capable of building anything from a space-superiority fighter to the massive superdreadnoughts and fleet carriers that were the pride of the Terran Imperial Navy. Much to the surprise of Adama and other officers of the Colonial Fleet the Alquonde yards even handled civilian construction, thus earning the Terran Imperial Navy a steady stream of credits that were put to use in maintaining and expanding the yard. "And this is nothing when compared to an Arsenal System," Fleet Admiral The Lord Agilon, who was what the Terrans termed Port Admiral and in overall command of the TIN facilities in the system, said to Adama and his staff over an introductory dinner one evening. "As you can gather, we've been preparing this offensive for a very long time." Since the complete refit of the ships, even with the advanced automated equipment available to the Terran Imperial Navy's "yard dogs", was going to take some time, it was decided to advance the training not only of the Fleet's population but also that of the Colonial Fleet. And, much to the great surprise and pleasure of the Fleet's fighter jocks, this included training on the latest generation of Drakon Space-Superiority Interceptors, while the Fleet's Raptor pilots got to play with the latest generation Intruder-class torpedo boat in both its attack and EW/ECM configurations. At the same time the CIC crews of both Galactica and Nike also got familiar with the new configurations and equipment that the Terrans were going to install on their vessels, equipment which reduced even further the manpower that the Colonials would have to dedicate to CIC. And while Starbuck and Athena both got in some flight time in a Drakon and an Intruder respectively, they also got to play with their new Aerospace Group Control Stations, both in simulation and in real time.

Meanwhile, Galactica, Nike and the civilian ships of the Fleet that had accompanied them to Alquonde were virtually rebuilt from the keels up. The Terran naval surveyors, on examining Galactica had determined that her backbone and keel not only needed to be completely replaced (along with her main hull frames) they needed to be completely redesigned. When Adama questioned the expense of doing this, the Terrans replied that they were treating Galactica's rebuild as an exercise in seeing how a battlestar was built, and to see what improvements they could make to the design, with Nike's rebuild being treated as a similar exercise. So Galactica's backbone (effectively the ship's dorsal spine) was redesigned from the massive, solid structure the Colonials had originally used to a lighter, but far more robust hardback design, consisting of three large tubes that were joined together not just by the main frames (which they slotted into) but also by smaller tubes creating a geodesic design reminiscent of a steel girder bridge. The result was that not only was the design stronger, they could, for the same amount of material, make Galactica even longer than she was, something the Terrans also did. A similar sort of redesign was also done on Galactica's keel , while the frames were also redesigned to make her wider by one-third. Her new hull plates were manufactured up to TIN standards, as were her new armour plates, while her jump engines, which, despite their recent overhaul, were over forty years old, were replaced by smaller, yet more powerful engines of the kind used in TIN destroyers, as were the reactionless drives the Terrans replaced her original ion drives with.

The Terrans also used the opportunity to replace her flak batteries with automated laser turrets that had the ability to lock onto and destroy a single target, thus increasing her defences against enemy aerospace craft and missiles, while her main batteries were completely replaced by ones usually found on Mercury-class battlestars. By the time her rebuild was finished Galactica needed only one-third of her original crew, a massive savings in manpower that was, thanks to the additional space generated by her increased dimensions and her reduction in manpower, invested in magazines for missiles for her main batteries and for her new wing of torpedo boats. And thanks to the increase in hull length (which was matched by an increase in flight pod length) she could now launch and recover her new Drakon fighters. Overall, if the newly rebuilt Galactica, complete with her new aerospace craft, new missiles, TIN-standard armour, battlescreens and CIC (complete with the latest Terran cyberwar suites) had been present at the battle over Picon, she could have gutted the Cylon attack by herself, something that spoke volumes of Terra's tech edge. And the extensiveness of the refit also spoke volumes of Terra's enormous resources, which were made even more so by her automated factories and equipment. Nike had undergone a similar rebuild, with similar advantages, which resulted in the new Colonial Fleet gaining a lethality that the creators of what was now being called the Old Fleet had scarce dreamed of. And, as Adama knew quite well, the reduction in manpower that the rebuild had afforded the two First Cylon War veterans would go a long way in not only establishing the New Fleet but in also getting the new colony off the ground.

One thing that had unexpectedly gone well was telling the general population the truth: that humanity had originated on Terra/Earth, not Kobol. The Colonial leadership had expected some complications to arise at this, especially from the more traditional segments of the Colonial population, but Zarek's agents in the population had been proven correct when they had said that this would not be a problem, that the general population were in awe of their impressive cousins. Additionally, some of the more inquisitive of the population had already come to this conclusion through their own researches, and this, combined with the way the educators from the Contacts Office gently approached this issue (while explaining the concept of culture shock to the Colonials) made raising this issue much easier than had been anticipated by the leaders of the Fleet.

More troubling, however, was the revelation that the Terrans had artificial intelligence. To a people who had fought a major war against a race of AIs this was profoundly unsettling, but surprisingly it was the personnel of the Colonial Fleet who made the issue easier to handle. They, along with those persons who worked in the mining and manufacturing ships of the Fleet, had seen first-hand the massive advantages that Terran automation and AIs had bestowed on not just the Terran Imperial Navy but on Terran society as a whole. They conveyed their impressions to the general Colonial population, and it was this, plus the fact that the Terrans kept insisting that it was the right of the Colonials to pick and choose what they wanted from Terra's massive technology store without any interference from the Terrans themselves that gradually began to accustomise the Colonials to this uncomfortable little fact.

An additional influence in this matter were the immigrants that were arriving in the Dioskouri System. Overwhelmingly they were from Terran and Independent systems that had been settled by people who had come from the same general Terran cultural milieu as had the ancestors of the Colonials themselves, and they themselves still worshipped the same deities as did the Colonials, even bringing with them an additional understanding of the original Terran religions, including uncorrupted texts recovered from the Repositories which, after much discussion, the Colonials themselves began to add to their own beliefs. Their attitudes towards artificial intelligence also helped with the adoption by the Colonials of Terran tech, and this was helping the Colonials to not only rebuild their society, but to enable that society to begin to reach out towards Terra's technology level, something that would help the new settlement survive in a universe that included the Raptors.

Thinking of the steady influx of Terran technology caused Adama to run his eyes over some of the latest acquisitions to the New Fleet. Moored in a parking orbit near Admiralty Hub lay the long, lean shapes of three of what were not only the Colonial Fleet's newest class of ship, but also one of the latest designs to see service in the Terran Imperial Navy: the Caprica-class destroyer. Although they were overwhelmingly Terran in technology and design, the Capricas were also a blend of Colonial and Terran technologies and designs, and the name of the class was a recognition of this by the Terran Imperial Navy's design bureau. Instead of the traditional broadside missile mounts on older vessels the Capricas used a modified version of the main armament usually found on a Mercury-class battlestar. The differences between the Colonial mounts and the ones used on the Capricas was that the mounts were not twin but paired quintuples, using five coil guns in each "barrel" that were arranged in a pattern similar to the dotted representation of a number five on a set of dice, were much larger, recessed into the ships armour when not deployed, extending out to fire on retractable armoured mounts and were armoured themselves. And they were not only mounted in pairs on the broadside arcs of fire: pairs of launchers also ran down the central spine of both the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the destroyers. Although the number of launch tubes on a more traditionally-designed Terran warship was slightly larger, the rate of fire plus the ability to go in a 360-degree circle on the horizontal plane and go 180-degrees in the vertical more than compensated for the reduction in launch tubes. It also allowed for more point defence lasers, which made them that much harder to get a hit on plus, more importantly, the area that Terran naval officers termed a kill zone, the arcs where a ship was able to fire most of its armament, now extended to both broadsides, making a Terran warship that much deadlier.

In may ways the Capricas also represented what was happening with the Colonial Fleet. Even though the battlestar-sized ships needed even less crew than the revamped Galactica (440 to the Galactica's 1167), it was not possible to crew them with personnel recruited entirely from the Colonies. Not only was this due to the lack of trained personnel from the beginning of their exodus from the Colonies (even with Pegasus' personnel they were still short-handed) many of the Fleet's personnel had decided to settle on Castor, where their skills, much as Adama had wanted to retain them for the Fleet, were needed to help get the fledgling settlement off on the right foot. (Thankfully, due to the automated gear that came as a part of the colonisation package they had acquired from the Imperium, that was a lot easier than it had been on New Caprica. Besides, not only was Castor a much more temperate planet, Castor Landing, where the settlement was being established, was, being on the equator and in a large river valley that contained rich, volcanic soil, much more hospitable than the New Caprica settlement.) Thankfully there had been a solution to hand.

It had long been a habit of the Terran Imperial Navy to allow some of its naval personnel to contract out to allied forces. Usually these were local systems defence forces that were a part of the Imperium, but allied Independent Systems could also hire TIN personnel. They were known as "loaners", since technically they were on loan from the TIN and, if need be, could be recalled to its service. Typically they were usually individuals who, for various reasons, were no longer quite capable of service on the front lines of the Long War or were time expired, but who wanted to undergo what Terrans called a sea change. But as far as their skills, their knowledge and their capabilities were concerned, there was nothing wrong with them at all and Adama was very glad that he had been able to attract the services of several of these individuals. None of them were ship commanders: that role went to Colonials, but several of the loaners operated the construction and refit yards, helped to man Castor Control and occupied specialist slots onboard the Fleet's vessels. Some even manned the naval academy (which also doubled as a university) that was being established while others staffed the training facilities that were being established to help train the next generation of Colonial Fleet personnel. And, while the loaners understood and respected that the Colonial Fleet had its own traditions they also served as a conduit for both traditions and procedures that came from the Terran Imperial Navy. As a result, while the Fleet was beginning to grow again, it was fast becoming a hybrid of both the Colonial Fleet and the Terran Imperial Navy, a reflection in a sense of what was also happening with the wider Colonial society thanks to the influx of immigrants.

Adama's eyes wandered over to where the former Cylon base star was parked. When the Terrans refitted Nike they also modified her to be able to fulfil her functions as a base ship even further by adding docking bays, which stretched out of both disks and enabled either a destroyer or a battlestar to be docked with her. Galactica was currently docked with Nike, as were the remaining three Caprica-class destroyers, carrying out a replenishment exercise.

Thinking on the six Capricas brought Adama back to the yards. The New Scorpion Yards, named in memory of the original yards back in the Colonies was, along with Admiralty Hub, one of the first orbital structures to be constructed in the Dioskouroi System and combined both construction and refit activities. While the first three Capricas (Amphion, Euryalus and Pelorus) had been built in a TIN Arsenal System, albeit with participation from Colonial engineers, the other three (Alecto, Charybdis and Clio) were the first ships built in the new yards and, in many ways, had become a source of pride for the Colonials. And the yards were now in the stages of finishing construction of the newest addition to the New Fleet, the Picon-class light cruiser Endymion, which included all of the new developments first displayed in the Capricas, with construction of the Fleet's first light fleet carrier, the President Adar, beginning shortly afterwards. Although Galactica was still an active warship (and the titular flagship of the Fleet) it was becoming clear that the old battlestar, even in its upgraded form, was being left behind by the newer ships and Adama could see the day coming when she would be retired from active service. She would never be scrapped, however: her history and significance to the Colonial people was too great to allow that to happen. Luckily there was an alternative that combined the role of museum ship (which, so long ago she was supposed to become) with that of a symbolic flagship, and this example too, came from the Terrans.

Felix Gaeta had gone to Earth to teach the Colonial method of calculating a jump at the Dartmouth campus of the Terran Imperial Navy's Officer Training College and his letters back to Adama had proven to be a gold mine of information about both the Imperium and Earth in particular. Both Adama and Roslin had been astonished to find that, while the overall population of the Sol System was in the area of a trillion, the population of Earth was only about two billion and carefully controlled. An extra five hundred million or so, however, lived in the six massive towers heading out to Earth's geostationary orbit that contained space elevators, as well as on the large ring that ran around Earth's equator on that orbit line that housed Earthport, where ships coming to and going from Earth docked but even so, the fact that Earth proper had such a low population was a surprise.

Gaeta had used his time on Earth well, visiting both the area known as Greece, especially its ancient sites (and he included just how strange it felt to be standing on the site of the original Delphi, which was even older than the City of the Gods on Kobol, and visiting sites in the area called Egypt, which were even older) and the still active cities of Athens and Rome, seeing ruins that were older than the Colonies. One of the places he visited was not all that far from Dartmouth. It was called Portsmouth, and was itself steeped in the history of what used to be called the Royal Navy before it was absorbed by the armed forces of the old Terran Commonwealth. Many of its traditions, however, had survived, as had many of its relics, including, much to Adama's surprise, a timber sailing ship called a ship-of-the line.

HMS Victory had been built back in Earth's Eighteenth Century CE and had been the flag ship of one of Earth's greatest naval heros who had died on board during his greatest victory. As such, the Royal Navy had made the decision to have the ship preserved as a memorial and to keep her in commission, and that commission had been transferred over to the Terran Commonwealth's navy when it was formed. Before then she had been the flagship of the Royal Navy's First Sea Lord, and as such became the flagship of the Terran Commonwealth's Chief Director of the Navy and, on formation of the Terran Imperial navy, the flagship of the First Space Lord. (The admiral commanding the Terran Home Fleet flew his flag in another old sailing warship that had belonged to a country called the United States of America and was called the USS Constitution.) Gaeta had sent back to Adama detailed pictures and footage of the old ship, including a very detailed model kit, something Adama appreciated greatly, but the idea of keeping such an elderly vessel, even though it could no longer fight, in commission as a symbolic flagship was an idea that he would propose for Galactica. The Colonials already, thanks to the Yards, possessed the ability to return parts of her to First Cylon War configuration, while the permeable force fields that the Terrans used to hold atmosphere inside areas that would normally be open to space would mean that her flight bays would still be accessible to small craft.

Thinking on the Terran Imperial Navy Adama allowed his eyes to wander to what was, after Admiralty Hub, the largest construct in the system. Except for its size it was almost identical to Nike but whereas she was a refitted First Cylon War base star, the Ulithi was a Terran Imperial Navy base star, built on the sort of scale that the Terrans were used to. She could service anything from aerospace fighters and shuttles up to the massive superdreadnoughts and fleet carriers that made up the backbone of the Imperial Navy and was a reminder that the New Scorpion Yards were very much a joint facility. Docked with her were two other vessels that were the latest in Terran Imperial Navy construction: two oversized battlestars (the Okinawa and Sword Beach) that the Terran Imperial Navy had redesigned as assault transports. Each was the approximate size of a battlecruiser and carried at least one brigade's worth of troops, along with a support wing of aerospace fighters and bombers.

And speaking of the Terran Imperial Navy: a task force consisting of older vessels that had been transferred to the Imperial Navy's Exploration, Scouting and Survey arm was currently being assembled in the system. It was their mission that had caused a great deal of excitement amongst the Colonial populace, for they were going to go to the Colonies via New Caprica and Kobol, where the Terrans (in the case of Kobol in partnership with the Colonials) had already established presences. And the Terrans were simply waiting on another oversized base star, the Newport News, as well as some other vessels, to arrive and for the Colonials to finish getting their contribution to the expedition ready before departing.

Adama smiled at the thought of the force going to the Colonies. Although, with the exception of the base stars and the oversized battlestars, they were older vessels, with the largest being of the type termed Dreadnoughts, they had been upgraded to modern standards as it was expected, especially in their scouting profile, they might have to fight for their information. As such, they represented an overwhelming amount of firepower in relation to anything the Cylon Remnant could muster, and, if the Remnant was stupid enough to provoke the Terrans, was fully capable of wiping the Remnant off the face of the Universe. Ironically, it would be the two destroyers (Euryalus and Alecto) the Quorum had decided on sending with the Terrans that would be amongst the most modern vessels in the task force. Although it did represent a significant reduction in the Fleet's ability to police the system, it was considered a risk worth taking, especially as the Endymion would be ready for service by the time the task force sailed.

And Adama knew there was still a lot of work to do to get the Colonial contribution ready: not just to prepare the two destroyers but also to select ancillary personnel, such as agronomists, academics, even some of the priests, as well as preparing several vessels, such as the botanical cruiser and merchant ships, to accompany the task force and bring back various items, such as the Colonial Government's bullion reserves and items of significant cultural importance. The botanical cruiser would be bringing back both the Colonial Seed Bank and samples of various biota from the Colonies and in this would also be assisted by two massive Terran botanical cruisers that were going along for this very reason. Between the three ships the Quorum was very confident that they would be able to bring back various plants that would be a welcome addition to the quite comprehensive colonisation package the Terrans had supplied. After all, there was something to using traditional food plants for traditional meals. Certainly attempts had been made using similar food plants in the colonisation package, but as Adama was one of the first to admit, it just wasn't quite the same. It was even hoped that, although Terran-style whiskeys were now being produced, the expedition would bring back samples of the plants used to make the best ambrosia (as well as samples of that now rare drink) so that the Colonials would be able to restart ambrosia production, both for themselves and as a luxury export. And on those lines the Colonial agronomists had already planted several vineyards using especially selected lines from Earth itself so as to get the production of wines, especially the one that Terrans called Retsina, going again.

Movement caught his eye and he gave a slight grin. It was a tylium tanker, inbound from the inner asteroid belt and headed for the tank farm that was a part of the Yards.

When they had arrived in the Dioskouroi System the Fleet had been accompanied by one Terran vessel. It was, however, not a TIN ship, but a vessel from a commercial survey company, hired to examine the two asteroid belts and several moons in the system in much greater detail than the original ES&S mission had. And what they found made the Colonials very happy.

Both belts were rich in tylium, far richer than even the Erebos Belt back in the Colonies. And not only tylium: both also contained large concentrations of all sorts of minerals ranging from nickel-iron all the way to gold, silver and various rare earths. And the moons that had been surveyed were even richer still. The Colonials had indeed managed to land on their feet and, not long after Admiralty Hub had been built the Quorum had sent mineral ships out to the Inner Belt to recover various resources, while two of the Fleet's construction platforms had been dispatched to build Terran-tech resource extraction platforms. And once the surface colony had been established the colony ship, having reverted to being a jump-capable habitat, was sent to help establish a community of what the Terrans called belters, or asteroid belt miners. Indeed, one part of the Yards was currently involved in completing a habitat that was specifically designed for a belter community and would take the place of the colony ship, which would be redeployed elsewhere.

These were not the only ships the Yards were working on. As the Contacts Office people had indicated, the Colonials' tylium reactor technology turned out to be very much in demand with several Independent Systems that were still using fission pile reactors to power their ships. This had led to a very lucrative sideline for the Yards in either converting ships over to tylium fuel or building new vessels based on the latest designs Colonial shipbuilders had been building before the Fall. And the ships that were being either refitted or built were better than ones built in the Colonies for several reasons, including Terran-standard hull materials, improved sensor suites and, most importantly of all, drives based not on Terran technology (which used fusion reactors and was not compatible with Colonial or Cylon drives) or Colonial-tech drives (which were much better than what many Independent Systems used), but Cylon-tech drives, the technical data for which had been given to the Colonies as a part of the reparations paid by the Cylon defectors to the Colonies.

Thought of the Cylons brought Adama back to the time they had spent at Alquonde Fleet Node. There the Cylon defecters had made it clear that they were willing to offer reparation for the attack on the Colonies, but were waiting for something. That something turned out to be a large Cylon flotilla, complete with resurrection ships and all looking a little battered appearing just outside the automatic trigger range of Alquonde's system defences and which sent a message stating that they wanted asylum within the Imperium. The Terrans sent out four battlesquadrons of superdreadnoughts to escort the Cylon ships past the defences, but it also appeared, from the speed that the local Foreign Office representatives moved to meet with the Cylons that told Adama and Roslin that what they had suspected back at Sandoval was correct: that the Terrans had indeed engineered a major split in Cylon society.

And it was soon revealed just how big the split was: the fleet of base stars contained every Six, Eight and Two (who had worked out just what Caprica Six and Boomer, who were behind the split, were up to and decided to join the conspiracy) in Cylon society, along with many of the other numbers. And, after negotiations with the Terrans, the defectors merged with the Cylons who had defected earlier and declared themselves to be the Cylon Free Republic. And one of the first acts of the Free Republic was to negotiate an end to any hostilities with the Colonials and to also negotiate reparations payments, which included a transfer of Cylon technology and, interestingly enough from Adama's point of view, a whole slew of Cylon intelligence reports "about a fleet of Colonial ships which have been a pain in the frakking ass for much of the Cylon race, raiding here and there back in the Colonies," as a One, who had run the intelligence briefing, put it. This was the first indication the Colonials had that Admiral Silva's force was very much alive and intact, and was something that the Colonial representatives on the Terran expedition to the Colonies were charged with finding out.

The transferred Cylon technology, although far behind what the Terrans could offer, was still a great windfall for the Colonials, especially when it came to refitting or building new ships for the Independent Systems who still used fission power. Being able to give those systems a complete tylium cycle energy source and much better engines that they could use and maintain themselves gave Colonial shipbuilders a great edge over those shipbuilders who used fusion cycle technology. In addition, the thorium-cycle fission reactors that were used as auxiliary power sources on the Yards were able to process unneeded nuclear fuel from decommissioned fission reactors, while Terran tech took care of radioactive waste products, reprocessing spent reactor fuel and encasing radioactive waste in a form that both trapped the radioactivity and enabled the waste, once enough had been assembled, to be dumped into Dioskouroi Prime, the system's star. As a result, the Yards, in addition to construction for the Fleet, were doing a booming trade in civilian refit and construction, both for Independent System customers and for the Colonial merchant fleet. Ironically their only competitors for this trade in their area of space turned out to be the Free Republic, but it had evolved into a friendly commercial rivalry as there was more than enough custom for both star nations.

Adama reflected on the ironies of the situation. Since both groups were effectively the only ones who were in the cluster they both had room to expand in the future. This, plus the Cylon reparations, had greatly reduced tensions between the Colonies and the newly-established Free Republic. And evidence of that improved relationship was present in the system: a Cylon base star, there as the Free Republic's contribution to the upcoming expedition to the Colonies.

Adama smiled as he thought of the very first thing the Cylon defectors had done. They had asked for a meeting with Adama, Roslin and both Helo and Athena on Alquonde Hub, which was the nearest that both sides could come to neutral territory. When quizzed as to why they wanted the meeting, the Cylons were evasive, but said it would also demonstrate their good will. So, speculating just as to why they wanted this meeting, Adama and the others travelled to Alquonde Hub and were directed to a private lounge area where the Cylon delegation (Caprica Six and Boomer, as it turned out to be) were waiting.

As they stepped into the private lounge the reason for this meeting soon became evident. Waiting with the two Cylons... was Hera.

Adama, Roslin and Helo stopped, but Athena raced forward towards her little girl and swooped her up in her arms. And Hera hugged her back, saying only "Mommy."

Athena looked at the two Cylons. "How...?"

Adama regained control of himself and cleared his throat. "Yes. How did you manage to get her back?"

Caprica Six shrugged. "It wasn't easy. Biers pretty much had her in her company all the time, so we had to do some special planning to get her away from Biers. Thankfully we had recruited several Threes into our little conspiracy and they managed to convince Biers to hand Hera over to them for 'safe keeping' when we staged our rebellion. It's them you should thank."

Athena handed Hera off to Helo, who had come up besides her. Then, she surprised everybody by hugging the two Cylons defectors. "I really can't thank you enough."

Caprica six smiled . "Of course, we did have an ulterior motive. But it's good when one can combine an ulterior motive with doing the right thing."

The news that the Agathons had their little girl back soon spread throughout the Fleet, and in many ways helped contribute to an easing of feelings in the Fleet towards the Cylon defectors. And it led to much amusement, for when Hera was introduced to the Terran-style creche that had been established in the colony ship she immediately made a beeline straight towards Nicky Tyrol, the only other half-Cylon child there. This led to much good-natured ribbing of both sets of parents (the Tyrols having made a full reconciliation) as to the possibility of future grandchildren, but they wore it in good stead.

As for Caprica Six: what she did next was a great surprise to many. Instead of going off with the Free Republic Cylons, she had sought out Gaius Baltar, reunited with him and together, they had headed off to Earth. Adama and Roslin both regarded this as yet one more piece of evidence that somehow the gods must be looking after the man, for he had landed on his feet perfectly. He had been ensconced in one of Earth's premiere universities and had established himself as the go-to man for Colonial technological research. In fact, he had been responsible for some breakthroughs that combined both Terran and Colonial tech, such as the new tylium trigger mechanisms that replaced the more conventional fission triggers in Terran and Colonial nuclear weapons.

How he had achieved this was quite simple: he simply placed refined tylium inside a small screen generator similar to the ones used in the Terran weapon of mass destruction called a hellburner, only this screen simply shielded the tylium from any radioactivity that came from the uranium tamper. It also replaced the fissile "spark plug" used in the secondary stage of the device. And because tylium was more efficient than a fission reaction, it enabled Terran weapons designers to make their weapons far more compact and powerful than before. Much to the surprise of the Colonials Baltar had insisted on making this new trigger available to the Colonials, and had also supplied insights on both Terran society and politics that, once they had been verified by the Colonial Ambassador to the Imperium, proved to be of great use to the Colonial leadership.

The thought of Baltar made Adama grimace slightly. At the moment Gaius Baltar was with the ES&S task force, along with Caprica Six. He remembered that her cover had been as a defence scientist, and it was quite clear that they were going to go through the Colonial Mainframe Data Base for any technological projects that could be of use. The fact that there was a strong Contacts Service team with the task force, plus the presence of Felix Gaeta, whom Baltar had specifically requested as an assistant, made Adama a bit easier about having a Terran team go through the Colonial Fleet's deepest secrets. Gaeta, who had recently been promoted to full commander, could be counted on to look after the Fleet's interests, and he would be ably assisted by the Tyrols in this effort. Nicky would be looked after by the Agathons while his parents were away, but since both children were getting ready for their preparatory year prior to starting school, it would not be a great problem. Plus, it wasn't as if they lacked for honorary aunts and uncles.

Thinking on the two children made Adama think on the population boom that the Colonials were undergoing. Aided by Terran reproduction technology the Colonials were finally beginning to undergo a natural increase in their population. Although some within the population had expressed some unease at using the gestation units the Terrans had provided as a part of the colonisation package, the need to increase their population had eventually overcome such qualms. The Terran reproduction tech also had one unforseen effect on Colonial society: the restructuring of the basic family grouping within the Twelve Tribes into a structure that the Terrans tended to refer to as a Clan, a very large extended family of individuals all descended from one male ancestor.

One thing that had been of some concern to both Colonial and Terran medical experts was that the Colonial population, while similar to that of a reasonably-sized town, was possibly too small for genetic health. In addition, children were woefully under represented in the Colonial population. Although an influx of genes from both immigrants and from a gene base the Terrans had offered, plus the screening of any fetuses for genetic abnormalities (and their correction in utero) could help with the genetic health aspect, there still remained the problem of a low number of children. That was solved, and only after much discussion, by the adoption of gestation units and the mixing of genes in vitro prior to the insertion of the zygote into the units.

To be honest, the idea of a clan was not new to the Colonials. Several of the more traditional societies still retained vestiges of a clan-like structure, but the new clans were going to be something unique in Colonial society. Since it had been decided that the best way to maintain genetic health amongst the Colonial population was to mix the available gene pool as much as possible, a new family structure was decided upon. All children who were naturally conceived would belong to what would be call the main lineage, but the first son and daughter of a mixing would bear the surname belonging to the male donor, while the second son and daughter would bear the surname of the female doner, the third son and daughter would bear the surname of the maternal grand mother of the male doner and so on. Only if there were no children conceived naturally would the son and daughter of any first pairing become the founders of a primary lineage, and, apart from some regulations covering property inheritance, there would be no real legal distinction between lineages save for that between main and secondary lineages. This scheme would also require the creation of a register that recorded mixings, but it would both increase the Colonial population and preserve various names. And considering that they had two planets to fill, not to mention several moons and the two asteroid belts, and that each clan would be given lands to settle on if they so chose, it would still be a long while until they had populated both worlds. The clan scheme also had the advantage of enabling that the original Colonial population would not be swamped by immigrants coming to help settle the system and would also help to preserve as much of Colonial culture as possible. Adama was having some trouble coming to terms with the fact, especially since Lee and Dee had had children, that he was now the head of the Adama Clan, and that he would also, via in vitro methods, would be siring at least three subsidiary lineages. He smiled to himself when he recalled just whom he was siring those lineages with. The tribal structure would remain, but was now going to be combined with a similar structure that came from the ancient Earth society called The Roman Republic, whose people belonged to both tribes and a clan-like structure called the gens, which was similar to those used on Aerilon.

Almost on cue the tone to his office door rang. Smiling, he turned and said "Come." Through the door walked Laura Roslin. No, Laura Roslin-Adama.

Sometime after the new colony had been well and truly established Laura Roslin had surprised everyone by stating that she was stepping down from the office of President. What had surprise even more people was that Tom Zarek had also announced that he was stepping down as well. "To be honest," he had said, "I probably have too many grievances about the way things had been run back in the Colonies. It's best that we start with a clean slate, but remember the mistakes that have been made in the past so that we do not repeat them." Both Roslin and Zarek had been appointed, along with Adama, as members of a new advisory body called The Council of Elders, reserved only for the most distinguished citizens of Colonial society and intended to act as advisors to both the Quorum and the President of the Colonies, thus placing them in the best possible position to advise against making many of the mistakes that had been made back in the Colonies. Not long afterwards both Adama and Roslin admitted their feelings to each other and, after a whirlwind courtship (which was viewed with much approval by many, but especially Lee Adama) they had married. Since Laura was beyond child-bearing age both she and Adama had considered that children were not in their future, but the adoption of Terran gestation units plus the programme of gene mixing meant that, before long they too would be blessed with children, and, incidentally, creating a link between the two new clans of Adama and Roslin.

Laura walked over to Adama's side and kissed his cheek. "I've been sent by the new President of the Colonies to bring you to the meeting regarding the joint expedition back to the Colonies," she said.

"Lee can wait just a little while longer." After Laura's surprise resignation new elections were called, and to no one's surprise Lee Adama, who at the time was still Nike's commander, had been written-in as President, forcing him to reluctantly hand in his commission as a Colonial Fleet officer, with Wallace Gray, who had been one of Laura's chief aides during her administration, as his Vice-President. As Laura had said, it gave the Colonial leadership some new blood while also making sure that an experienced political figure was at hand to give Lee some advice. His elevation to the Presidency had upset the arrangements Adama had made for Lee to be eventually made an admiral, but he had managed to put together some contingency plans for the future command structure of the New Fleet.

"Tom arrived just a while ago. He's been preparing for his part in the expedition." Much to many people's surprise Tom Zarek, who had retired to a life as an agronomist (a profession that had been made much easier and more efficient by the automated farming gear that came as a part of the colonisation package, and which he said he preferred as it was somewhat less stressful) had volunteered to lead a party of some of his people, who had also settled on Zarek's estate prior to moving further up the valley, to Sagittaron to search for any survivors who might have holed up in lairs that had been established by the Sagittaron Freedom Movement. As he said at the time, he and his people would be the best ones to find out if the lairs had been used. He had also, at his suggestion, been involved in setting up similar refuges on Castor for any resistance movement that would be formed for action outside the Castor Citadel, an area that was being prepared in a nearby mountainous region as a citadel for the planetary population to retire to in the case of an invasion.

"Even though we're now using antigrav aircars thanks to the colonisation package I'm still astonished that he was able to get here in time for the meeting, even with the shuttle service operating," Adama said. Zarek had taken as his settlement allotment a large area of ground a fair way up the valley of the Elpeus River, the mouth of which was the location of Castor Landing. And even though they were now using aircars to travel some distances (as well as for more detailed surveying of their new world) a road network was being developed alongside river transport on the Elpeus, with a rail network being planned for the future, as, even with their advanced technology the Terrans still considered that, for bulk goods, nothing beat road, rail and water travel.

"He came up with Lee on Colonial One. Lee told me that Tom had some ideas about looking for survivors on Sagittaron he wanted to discuss with him. He's hoping that a fair number survived, since Sagittaron wasn't as well developed as some of the other colonies were and may have escaped being heavily nuked. The survival of Sam Anders' group on Caprica has put some hope in him that others may have survived on some of the other less-developed colonies. He thinks that even the Cylons would have found it difficult to have chased down every survivor group, and the reports of Admiral Silva's force, if it is his, may also mean that there could even be another civilian fleet that survived the Fall."

"If that turns out to be true, it will be a boost to us in terms of morale and numbers, both population and military-wise. Not to mention the civilian merchant fleet." The Colonial merchant fleet, being mainly Gemenon Traders and Colonial Movers, had become an important mainstay in the stellar region the Colonies were being reestablished in. Considerably larger, more modern and with greater carrying capacity than many smaller ships from the various Independent Systems that were nearby, they had revolutionised trade in the region and helped to spark an economic boom. In fact, there was a bit of a backlog in custom for the merchant ships, so additional vessels would be greatly welcomed, even if they hadn't been upgraded to Terran tech levels. But that's something we can now do ourselves, Adama thought, thanks to the Yards.

He looked at his wife. "Well, I suppose we had better get moving. Wouldn't want to keep the President waiting too long." Laura laughed, and arm-in-arm, the two left Adama's office, heading for the meeting on the initial return to the Colonies.

He chuckled, a sound that was strange coming from him. "What's so funny?" Laura asked.

"Oh, just imagining the looks on the faces of the Cylon Remnant when the expedition shows up. But, I'm also thinking that the future looks very good for our people. We have an entire system to expand into, we have a growing population, we have a booming economy and, if the reports are correct, we may be able to welcome some more of our people here to our new home. And someday, maybe our descendants will be able to return to the Colonies for good. But now, now that we're established here, I feel pretty good."

"So do I. We achieved what we set out to do: find a new home for our people." And with that, they entered the conference room to discuss the next step in their people's future.

Finis. (For now.)