"Can you fly her?" Tera asked Mitch.
"I can fly anything." He slipped into the seat. One of the dinosaurs fell to the floor.
Wan batted at it and jumped up to gaze down at the controls.
Tera rubbed the cat's head. "Bet you're glad to be home." A loud purr answered as Serenity came back to life.
"How'd Kaylee keep this thing in the air?" Joseph's voice drifted through the com to the bridge.
"Same way you kept Inara in the air."
"If you say so." The teen mumbled a few choice words in Chinese.
"We aren't keeping Serenity are we?" Janus inquired, holding his Bible tight to his chest.
"No," Tera answered as she sat down at the lower controls. "Just wanted to get her space worthy."
"Forgive me for sayin' so, Tera," Zola picked up the dinosaur that Wan had been playing with and replaced it where it belonged. "Doesn't look like it was too space worthy when it was flyin'."
"Hey, Tera," Sareen called the bridge. "I've got the infirmary stocked. Anything else you need me to do?"
"No. Go back to Inara. The rest of us will be there soon."
"Going. Just don't let my brother tear the engine room apart. Poor Kaylee will have a fit."
Tera laughed. She had a point. "Why don't you check on him before you go back. Make sure he doesn't do anything beyond what he's supposed to."
"Janus," she turned in her chair. "I thought you were going to clean Jayne's guns."
Janus shuddered. "Violence is never the answer."
"Still," her tone held a clear meaning. "You promised you could do that."
"I'm goin'," he groused.
"Zola, how are their supplies?"
"Pretty much as expected. Those old protein packs last for years."
"Why don't you add some tea, some strawberries for Kaylee, and anything else you think they might want."
"On my way."
Joe's voice echoed through the com. "Got it installed. Engines up and ready."
"Doin' a check," Mitch's hands flew over the controls. "Have a go, Cap'n."
"Set the coordinates. I'll finish here." She slipped in the message she'd composed on the trip here. Her eyes drifted upward as Serenity with the Inara attached drifted away from the asteroid where she'd been docked for many years.
Tera hit the com. "Everyone we're goin' to set this device on delay for," she looked up at Mitch. He held up five fingers. "Five minutes. Finish what you're doin' and high tail it back to Inara."
"Don't ya wish we could go, too?" Mitch asked.
"We can't." She picked up Wan. "Let's go, flyboy."
"Remind me to scold McKay the next time we see her. She's teachin' you bad words."
The pair rushed down the stairs and out the hold. Tera closed up Serenity. "Mitch! Get us detached!"
Her crew crowded onto Inara's small bridge to watch. Serenity drifted away from the asteroid's gravitational pull.
"Any minute," Tera breathed.
"If'n McKay's right," Mitch snorted.
"She hasn't been wrong yet," Janus reminded him.
"Besides," Tera added. "That device was built by the Ancients."
"Not all their stuff keeps goin'." Mitch had learned that one the hard way. He'd tried a personal shield that ran out of power almost getting him killed.
"We only need it to work once." Tera held her breath.
The area around Serenity shivered and the ship vanished.
They all screamed and yelled.
"Plot us a course home, Mitch," Tera ordered. Wan bumped the woman's leg. "So," she knelt down and asked the cat. "Did it work?"
Wan only yawned.
(See the end of Chapter 6 of Secrets for a quick explanation of who these people are.)
A ship appeared almost in front of Galactica. It drifted toward them and stopped.
"By the Lords!" Tigh exclaimed. "Where'd that ship come from?"
Warriors scurried around, checking readings and reporting to Omega. "Sir, " the bridge office turned to the colonel. "There was some sort of disturbance in space and time." He sounded puzzled. "And it just appeared."
"No answer to our hails," Athena added. "I don't think anyone is on board."
"Can anyone read what it's called?"
"Believe it says Serenity, sir." Dillion stood at attention before Tigh. "Cassie has been teaching me how to read their language." The young man's face reddened.
"Thank you." Tigh wondered what else the young woman had been teaching his warrior. "Get me the commander."
Athena nodded and soon her father answered.
"What is it, Tigh?"
"Commander, we have a ship that just appeared."
"Wraith?" Tigh could hear the fear in Adama's voice.
"No. Dillion says the name is Serenity."
"Serenity!" A voice he recognized as Malcolm Reynolds yelled in the background.
"Are you certain?"
"Don't I always," muttered Tigh.
"That ain't possible!" Mal's face looked stunned.
"Couldn't be," Zoe agreed. "We left Serenity in orbit around an asteroid in the future."
"Yet, it seems your ship is here," Daniel translated for Adama.
"Rodney," Elizabeth turned to her head scientist. "I want you to go up there and find out how their ship could be here." McKay along with several others were in her office for a meeting with Commander Adama.
"I think that answer should be obvious." She smiled. "You're always telling me how brilliant you are."
"Brilliant, yes. But if the stories I've heard about their ship is true,'
"Don't you go insultin' my ship." Mal was offended.
"Reminds me of my first reaction when I saw it." Zoe gave Mal a teasing smile.
"You still flew in her."
"Had nothin' else to do. And ain't never regretted it."
"Not even after Wash," he didn't finish his question.
"We had a good marriage, sir. If I had to do it all over, I'd marry him again."
River stuck her head in. "Serenity is here."
"Now how do you know that, Little Albatross?" Mal sat back and gazed at the girl.
"I know." Her face brightened. "Going to tell Simon and Kaylee." She skipped away.
Elizabeth took a deep breath. "Okay, then. Colonel Sheppard, I want you to take a jumper and investigate. Take Captain Reynolds and,"
"Jayne. I want Jayne to go." Mal's was firm about that. "Zoe, best you stay here."
"Not arguin' sir." She touched her slowly swelling belly.
"Jayne," Dr. Weir conceded. "And check it out."
John nodded. He rose and had made it to the door with Reynolds before Dr. Weir looked pointedly at McKay. "Rodney." Her face gave him the order.
"If I have to," he groused following.
Mal rounded up Jayne and met John and McKay in the jumper bay. Ronan and Teyla had invited themselves along.
"We're a team," Ronan said with a dead pan expression.
"Yes, we are," John agreed.
Once in the air, John flew them up and into space. The battered hulk grew larger as the jumper approached.
"You flew in that thing?" Rodney's eyes grew very large. "You're braver than I thought."
"Been watching Star Wars again, McKay?" John grinned at the scientist.
"I happen to like that movie."
"and I like Back to the Future."
"Don't get me started."
"You already are."
"Rodney, John," Teyla went into her peace maker mode. "I think we have something more important to do. You can continue you…discussion, at a later time."
"There's the hatch," Mal pointed out.
"How about you dock her. Rodney, move."
McKay glared at him but moved to allow Reynolds to take his place. John moved his hands away. "She's all yours, Mal."
Mal smoothly turned the jumper and backed up to Serenity's hatch. "Jayne," he called back. "Make sure it's sealed."
A few grunts came from the back. "It's sealed," the mercenary confirmed.
"Ready?" John asked seeing Mal's expression.
"Yeah." The party slowly moved to the door and went through into Serenity. "Air's a bit stale. Damn. Should have brought Kaylee."
Jayne snorted. "Doubt that prissy husband of hers would's let her."
"That's why McKay is here." John knew Reynolds was used to a certain people having particular duties.
"Right." Mal nodded. "Let's check the bridge first, then the engine room."
He led the way up the stairs to the small bridge. Mal paused to look out at the stars. He could see many plus the ships of the fleet.
"Wow." John stood beside him, his face awed. "No wonder you like this ship."
"Quite a view." Mal sat in the pilot's chair. He noticed one of the dinosaurs had been moved. "There's been someone on my ship."
"Cat prints," Jayne pointed out.
"Teyla, Ronan," John ordered. "Go through the ship with Jayne. See if we have any uninvited company."
They nodded and moved out, guns ready.
"What about me?" McKay nervously shifted from foot to foot.
"Where's the engine room?" John asked.
"I'll take him." Mal started to rise.
"Just tell me how to get there."
Reynolds gave him quick directions. "Call me on the com if you get lost."
The pair took off down the hall and found the dining hall.
"Now there's an idea," Mckay said seeing the bright yellow room with a painted vine pattern all over the walls.
"Engine room should be this way." John went through the door, down the hall to a room with a primitive looking device and a hammock swinging gently.
"This is an engine room?" McKay made a face.
"And look what we have here." John pointed at a machine attached to a whirling motor.
"What is that?" McKay began to examine it.
"I'm sure you'll figure it out. Just don't push any buttons until you know what it does."
McKay gave him a look and then ignored him.
John smiled and went back to the bridge. "Found something attached to your engine."
"Found somethin', too." Mal now sat in the chair on the lower level. He pushed a button and a holo image appeared . A young woman's face flickered kind of reminding John of River.
"My name is Tera. I'm not going to tell you much beyond that. Let's just say I found your ship and am sending it back to you. The machine in the engine room is a time travel device we found. Luckily I have a genius mechanic who figured out how to use it." She paused like she was trying to figure out what to say next. "I don't have a clear picture of exactly what happened. Our records are kind of muzzy and after Miranda, the Alliance pretty much destroyed every complete record of our true past." She smiled ruefully. "All I really have are some old family stories that have been passed down." Her face took on an intense look. "Captain Reynolds, I've included some documents about how to adjust the time machine to power Atlantis. I've also given you a set of coordinates." Her brown eyes sparkled. "I have it on good authority that not all the planets, well, let's just say, it should give you a nice safe home away from the Wraith, the Cylons and just about anything else you want to avoid." Her hand came up pressing forward like she could reach through time to them. "Don't loose your faith, Captain Reynolds. And John,"
Sheppard started. He didn't expect to be addressed.
"I think you should push River's brother about getting married. Simon is a bit too used to protecting his sister. She doesn't need it anymore." She gave them a last sad smile. "God's speed." The image popped off.
Mal and John looked at each other. "Now ain't that interesting," Reynolds commented.
"Yeah. Ain't it."
"The records she sent are amazing," McKay said in that voice he reserved for finding something absolutely mind-boggling.
"Then I take it, it can be done?" Dr. Weir cast an amused look at John. They were in McKay's lab.
"It can," he replied smugly. "With Zalinka's and Wilker's help, we'll have this machine adapted and plugged into Atlantis before you know it."
"Means it will take awhile," John translated.
"Doubting Thomas," McKay shot back.
"No. I know you," he retorted.
"Now, you two get out of here so we can work." McKay pointedly ignored them.
"Guess it's time for us to go." Elizabeth tried to sound hurt but she was smiling. Once in the hall she asked, "Any idea who the woman was?"
"She just gave us her name. Funny though," he scratched the back of his head. "She kind of reminded me of River."
"Yeah, Maybe. Seemed to know a lot about us."
"Maybe she did. Too bad we'll never get a chance to thank her."
"About that." He stopped her, a serious look on his face. "What did Adama say when you told him?"
"He was skeptical, but willing to give it a chance."
Sheppard rubbed his chin. "I talked to Captain Reynolds about the coordinates."
"And?" He didn't go on. "Come on, John, don't keep me in suspense."
"He says it's for a planet called Persephone."
"Is he certain?"
"Yeah. Now, " they started walking again. "According to their history, all the worlds had to be terra formed."
"With everything they've found out, they're beginning to suspect that the Alliance's version of the past is Very incorrect."
"Guess we'll soon know."
"Guess we will."
Adama and Dr. Weir addressed both the fleet and Atlantis together from the gate room. Teyla's people on the main land were also there, having been informed of about what was planned. They had decided to come as well.
"Everyone," Dr. Weir began. Adama spoke to his people in their own language. She didn't now exactly what he said, but she assumed it was similar to her own address.
"We have a safe haven provided to us from a benefactor from the future. Doctors McKay, Zalinka, Wilker and their staffs have successfully adapted the device to safely power Atlantis for one final flight through space." She stepped forward touching the control that would start the dampners. "We all know that Earth is now uninhabitable and we can not return. We also know that if we stay here, the Wraith will wait until we've breed enough and will return to use us as their new food source."
John joined her, his hand in River's. The rest of Serenity's crew was aboard their ship. McKay was there. Zalinka, Carson, Ronan, Teyla, General Hammond, Sam, Jack, Dr. Jackson, and so many others.
"We have a chance to continue and thrive as a race in a new home. Truthfully, we have no idea what it will be like, but I believe, it will be a place that will welcome us. I don't know how long the journey will be. But we will face it bravely and together."
Adama's voice stopped and Elizabeth gave him a smile.
"Dear Lord," Shepherd Book took over. "We thank you for your inspired work and for opening a way for your people to continue. May we prove worthy. Amen."
"Amen," Elizabeth echoed. "Rodney," she stepped back. The scientist took her place. "You can do the honors."
"Great. I'll probably blow the city up." He closed his eye and pushed the button. The shield snapped up, the dampners powered up and Atlantis rose, arcing gracefully through the atmosphere and into space.
The Colonial fleet, the Deadalus and Serenity followed.
Atlantis hit the retros and gently settled on the surface of the planet. The shield briefly stayed up and flashed off when it determined the atmosphere was safe for her inhabitants. The Deadalus landed on the east dock and Serenity landed on a field not far away. Some of the older ships were brought down, since it had been decided they were too battered to stay in space. Shuttles brought people down from the others.
Elizabeth watched the mass gathering from the balcony. John came to stand beside her, River at his side. She smiled at them.
"I'm going to miss the ocean," she said.
"We all are." John put an arm around his soon to be wife. "But I'm not going to miss fighting the Wraith."
"Nor I." Dr. Weir went back into the city.
River watched her go. "I never told her the city was familiar."
"You didn't know exactly why until we got here."
"All the cities in the core where designed after this one."
"Interesting." He pulled her into his arms. "Ready to become Mrs. John Sheppard?"
"Mrs. John Tamm Sheppard," she corrected.
"I can live with that." He kissed her.
Several days later many of the ships still in orbit left. Tera had also included instructions on how to make terra forming factories. Dr. Wilker, McKay and Zalinka had spent much of the voyage putting everything together for those who had indicated they wanted to start colonies on the various planets and moons.
Those who were staying on Persephone were already settling in.
"Lookin' like home," Mal said as he lounged against his ship.
"Won't look like our home for many years," Zoe commented, holding her infant son in her arms. He'd been born, as well as Kaylee's daughter, while they traveled here.
"Ready for your weddin', sir?"
"Like Inara would let me back out."
"She ain't the only one."
"Oh?" His tone was light. "Would you hold the shot gun to make sure I wed her?"
"I would, sir." She smiled at him. "I'd even have Jayne as backup with Vera."
Mal laughed. "I wouldn't put it past ya."
Simon and Kaylee came out, Kaylee proudly holding her baby. Book was with them.
"We're heading for Atlantis to get ready for the wedding," Book informed Reynolds. He winked at Zoe. "Make sure he's on time."
"I will," she promised.
The group headed off. Inara has stayed overnight with River. Something about not tempting fate and seeing the bride too early.
"You ready, sir."
He took a deep breath. "I am."
They reached the city and Mal joined John in Sheppard's quarters. The Colonel had changed into his dress uniform.
"Now don't you look fancy," Mal commented trying not to feel dressed down in his simple overalls and brown coat.
"Regulation." John ran a comb through his hair that never stayed put anyway.
"Who's idea was this double wedding and baby blessin'."
John nervously smiled. "Not sure." He went to the door. "Ready."
The two grooms went to the gate room. The gate had flowers strewn all over it and somebody had put down a richly decorated rug on the floor. Book stood in the center, his Bible open and ready.
"Nervous?" he quietly asked.
The two men just glanced at him. The rest of the guests stood scattered around the city. Kaylee and Zoe stood on the brides's side. Kaylee had on a flowery dress, Zoe the sleek gown she'd worn at Wash's funeral. Both of them held their babies in their arms. Jack O'Neill and Jayne stood as best men for the grooms.
"Just take a deep breath," Jack advised behind Sheppard.
"If I did this. So can you."
"And I got Vera," Jayne added. Mal just glared at him.
Two women appeared at the top of the lighted stairs. Inara, radiant, her dark hair piled high and decorated with colorful combs. Her dress a deep blue and a more modest neckline than she usually wore. River in a deep purple floor length dress, a simple garland of flowers in her dark brown hair.
As one, they took the stairs to their waiting soon to be husbands. The couples took each others hands, River and John, Mal and Inara, and waited for Shepherd Book to speak.
"Dear friends, we are gathered here, this day, on a new world and home, to join these two couples, in the holy state of matrimony."
"Wish he'd loose the holy," Mal muttered.
"Stop it, Mal," Inara firmly told him.
"Do you, River Tamm, take Colonel John Sheppard as your husband? To love him, cherish him, keeping only to him, until the end of your life?"
"I do." Her voice was strong.
"And I do," John said before he had to be asked.
"Malcolm Reynolds, do you?"
"What was the question?" Mal winked at Inara.
"Mal," she warned.
"Yeah. I do."
"And I do," Inara smiled warmly, her eyes only for Mal.
Rings were exchanged and Book finished, "Now, by the power invested in me, I pronounce you, River and John, and you Mal and Inara, husband and wife." He closed his Bible . "You can kiss your brides."
They stepped aside to allow Zoe, and Simon and Kaylee to step forward to have their babies blessed.
"Zoe, though you've lost your husband, I know he is smiling down from heaven today." Book touched the baby's head. "Wash welcome to the world and to your new home. May you grow up to be a man your parents will be proud of."
The Shepherd turned to Simon and Kaylee. He placed his hand on their daughter's head. "Violet Tamm, welcome. You have parents that love you and are thrilled you are here. May you grow up to be a woman who knows her mind and destiny."
"Thank you, Book." Kaylee glowed at the shepherd.
"Now." Book raised his voice. "There is a reception being held in the cafeteria. Hope to see all of you there."
The happy couples dashed out and all their guests joined them. Congratulations were given, toasts done, wedding cake cut and shared, a few gifts given and finally the party wound down.
The two couples gratefully escaped. As a gift, the crew of Serenity gave the ship to Mal and Inara for a few days while they stayed in the city. John and River retreated to his quarters and locked the door. Elizabeth had given him a couple of weeks off and he intended to put it to good use.
River just smiled and came to him. He just held her for a long, long time. They'd waited for years for this moment. It wouldn't hurt to savor her sweetness just a bit longer.
"And because they had the hyperdrive," Tera's mother told her as once again she told her daughter the story. "The Wraith, the Cylons and all other the bad guys of the galaxy couldn't follow."
"But what finally happened to everyone?" She sat up in her bed, not wanting the story to end.
"Well, you know John and River married, as did Mal and Inara. They had many children."
"What about Zoe?"
"She married Boomer from the Galactica and had more children with him."
"And Elizabeth and McKay, and well, everyone else you've told me about?"
"Oh, dear one." Her mother gently settled her back and tucked her in. "Those are stories for another night."
"Ahhh, mom. That's not fair." Tera tried to stall a bit longer. "What happened to Shepherd Book?"
"They say, that the mysterious Elders relented and made him a Whitelighter again."
"Did Mal every become a Whitelighter?"
Her mother smoothed back her hair. "I don't know. Go to sleep now, Tera. It's late." The light went off as her mother closed the door.
Tera crept out of bed and went to stand on the balcony. Below her lay the city, the brightly lit towers so much like they had been when Atlantis had first come here that long ago day. The spaceport had grown and more buildings had sprung up in the outskirts. The Deadalus was a museum dedicated to the memory of Earth.
"You changed so much," she whispered to her ancestors. "We know the truth and the Alliance never came to power." She hugged herself against the cool evening breeze. "We live so much better." A cat meowed behind her and she padded back to bed inviting the feline to join her. "Time to sleep, Wan."
Outside, several Whitelighters gathered to look over the city.
"We did a good thing," Mal turned to Book.
"We did," the older man agreed.
"Course, we did." Kaylee peeked in at the girl. "She's going to grow up to be such a wonderful pilot."
"And we'll be here to guide her." Inara took Mal's hand.
"I never thought I'd be a Whitelighter." John grabbed River as she orbed to join him.
Book laughed. "I think we disrupted their orderly little verse. They needed us here."
"Speak for yourself," Rodney groused. "Though I will admit, this beats ascension. Not so many rules."
"Just enough." Book got a far away look in his eyes. "A charge needs me." He orbed out.
"A whole city full of potential Whitelighters." John shook his head. "Who, in a million years, would have thought that?"