The raptor was taxied onto Pegasus' starboard-topside landing bay nearly an hour and Bill could immediately see that the Pegasus' crew packed the bay to bursting. He could make out a full honor guard with Lee standing in front of them in dress greys. Kara, Kendra Shaw, Karl and Sharon were in their greys as well.
Major Costanza was in the co-pilot's seat powering down the raptor while Crashdown was completing his post flight. Bill sat in the jump seat while Anders was at the ECO station. The vehicle came to a stop and Brendan popped the hatch and Sam exited the raptor. Bill stepped out a moment later as Lee called out "Admiral on Deck!"
As one the assembly saluted, Bill crossed the deck slowly until he came to a stop in front of Pegasus' CO. He returned the salute then called out, "As you were."
Lee dropped the salute then gave his father a wide smile, "Admiral Adama, it is my pleasure to inform you that our mission to seek out Earth and enter into First Contact procedures with their citizenry was a success." Lee turned and Bill noticed for the first time the men standing next to him.
The first man was tall with graying hair that showed hints of once being brown, his brown eyes were expressive. He had the cut of a career military officer, though his uniform was far different than Bill had ever seen.
The second man had short brown hair and his blue eyes were dulled by a pair of glasses, he wore a brown civilian suit. He gave the impression of a school teacher to Bill, not unlike Laura did when he'd first met the late President.
Finally, the third man stood before him in a flightsuit, his dark hair and blue eyes reminded Bill a bit of Lee. Though Bill readily recognized his flight suit, there was a patch beneath his Pegasus crew that looked to be some sort of flag and his rank insignia unlike any Bill had seen before. They looked like a pair of gold leaves. "Admiral, allow me to introduce Colonel Jack O'Neill of the United States Air Force, Dr. Daniel Jackson and Major Cameron Mitchell also of the US Air Force. Gentlemen, this is Vice Admiral Adama of the Colonial Fleet."
Bill shook hands with each of the men in turn as Lee continued. "Colonel O'Neill is currently serving as XO, while Major Mitchell is our D-CAG. We have several officers and enlisted personal from fourteen different nations in an Officer Exchange program while many of our officers like Captains Gaeta, Case and Katraine remained on Earth to train their militaries in Colonial Technology. Lastly, Dr. Jackson is an expert linguist; he and several other linguists have volunteered to help teach English to the people of the Fleet. English is the dominant language of the part of Earth we'll be settling in.
"With your permission, we can begin your inspection." Bill gave him a nod, Lee then turned to the assembled crew, "Crew dismissed!" He then led the Admiral and Kara off the flight deck.
They turned down the corridor in the general direction of CIC and Bill turned to Kara, he noticed the rank on her collar and grinned, "I see Lee has promoted more officers than just Felix, Colonel Adama."
The blonde pilot merely grinned cockily, "I just happened to fail upwards sir."
He smiled and wrapped an arm around her, "It's good to have you back, Starbuck."
He noticed a bit of pink come to her cheeks, "Thank you, sir."
He turned back to Lee, "So, what happened after you left New Caprica?"
"We found the Lion's Head Nebula a few weeks after we left. There was a nav beacon there, we're pretty sure it was left by the Thirteenth Tribe. The data left behind was badly decayed and the charts were centuries out of date but there was enough information for us to use. Felix and Sharon spent weeks trying to account for stellar drift as well going through the information logs to get around the gaps.
"It eventually led us to a very dense stellar field, a nearby planet was supposed to be home to the next clue."
Kara then picked up the trail, "I led one of the scouting parties and we found a temple. Some of the information in the beacon led us to believe that a solar flare would activate something in the Temple. We were there for over a month before the local star flared and I was given a vision…" Kara trailed off and she and Lee shared a strained look, "Things got bad after that."
When Bill turned back to his son and asked him to continue, he could only mumble. "Kara was… lost."
Bill frowned, "'Lost?'"
Kara sighed angrily and said, "I died. I had been having reoccurring visions and nightmares for weeks, all centered on a mandala we found in the Temple. I'd been drawing it for years and when we saw it in the Temple; I knew I had to be there.
"A few weeks later we were orbiting a gas giant while we affected repairs to the Lucky Daggit. Kara had been acting weird for weeks, she panicked on a CAP, claimed she was pursuing a Heavy Raider. Kat was on her wing when she flew into a storm front and vanished off DRADIS." He watched his son's face darken with every word while his wife became increasingly pale.
She still managed to pick up on the story, "I collided with the Turkey and was knocked unconscious, and I had a vision. Lee and I were back on Caprica before the Holocaust, and he was trying to get me to visit my mother in the hospital."
The Old Man scowled, "Your mother?"
Both nodded and came to a stop in the corridor, "She was dying and Lee thought it important that I see her before she died. He… knew… things… about my past. I've told him a lot about my childhood, but the things Lee knew in this vision, he simply couldn't know. He knew about the last fight we had on the day I graduated from Basic Flight, he knew I found out that she had terminal cancer that day. She died only a few weeks later.
"I don't know when I realized it but I just knew he wasn't Lee but something or someone else. We talked about fears and death and forgiveness and Lee eventually managed to convince me to see her. He helped me make peace with death." Despite the disturbing turn the conversation took, Bill marveled at the serenity on her face.
Lee took up the story from there, "I was frantic in CIC, we'd already scrambled SAR raptors while Kat and I were hailing her desperately to get her to reply. When she finally replied, she sounded so strange. She was at peace even though she was falling like a rock towards the hard deck.
"Her last words were burned into my brain, 'Just let me go, they're waiting for me. I'll see you on the other side.' Then she was gone. She blew up right in front of Kat's eyes." Bill found his hand groping blindly until he was clutching Kara's hand just to reassure himself of her presence. Kara meanwhile, reached out and found her husband's hand. He took strength from her and spoke again, "I was a wreck for weeks. I was actually considering resigning and putting Kendra in command for a while. I just didn't know how to go on anymore. Karl and Marcia managed to bring me back but I wasn't the same…
"Kendra continued our journey towards the Ionian Nebula. Strange things started to happen the closer we got. Power fluctuations and outages, strange readings on DRADIS, the Daud lost their FTL for a time. I was having nightmares about Kara's death; I started seeing the mandala everywhere too.
"As we got within two jumps of the Nebula, the strange glitches stopped but two people started acting strange. They claimed to be hearing a song almost constantly for days."
Bill thought for a moment that Lee had gone off topic but still asked, "Who?"
"Chief Tyrol and Tory Foster." Bill frowned, Tori had been sent to act as a civilian ambassador by the President and the Chief had been adamant that he go along with Pegasus when they asked for volunteers all those months ago. "When we jumped into the nebula, all our ships lost power for a few minutes. When the power came back on, I orders alert fighters scrambled while we tried to find out what was going on.
"Sharon and Kat were two of the pilots on the CAP; Sharon spotted a bogey and went after it. When she made visual contact, it was another Viper-"
Kara broke, "My viper. I'd reappeared with some hazy memories thinking only six hours had passed. Two months had gone by, when I landed on Pegasus they all just looked at me in stunned silence. As I was climbing down the ladder, I heard someone yelling at people to make a hole and before I could see who it was I was crushed into a desperate hug. Lee had hit me like a freight train, when he let go we went to medical and after I was proved to be human to Lee's satisfaction I was grilled for hours on everything that happened and everything I saw.
"I told them that I could guide us the remainder of the way to Earth, I had this feeling about the direction and I knew some of the land marks along the way."
Lee started moving them down the corridor again, "Not long after we left the nebula in search of the next clue, the captain of the Kimba Huta sent a prisoner over. She'd apparently had a panic attack in the mess hall and when they tried to subdue her she killed two people. She'd been a bartender before we arrived at New Caprica and when President Cain asked for volunteers she was almost frantic to go with us.
"Her captain could only identify her by her first name, Paulla and he had said she'd spent nearly all her time alone and her bunkmates said she muttered in her sleep for weeks about 'God' and 'paths' and 'music.'" He led down the final corridor for his cabin, "Almost the second Paulla was brought on board Tori and Tyrol both went nuts, we had to put all three in the brig."
Bill scowled; Galen had been a friend as well as an officer. He turned to Kara and asked, "Cylons?"
Starbuck nodded, "Yeah, Sharon identified them as a faction of the twelve models known only as 'The Final Five.' Other than that we know nothing about them or who they are, Paulla seemed to be their leader though. She'd become almost fanatical, said that Earth was the final salvation of the Cylons. We don't know if they were hostile, what they were programmed to do, they don't even know. All they knew is that they're Cylons."
Lee stopped them outside of their door, "Karl and Sharon have theorized that us finding the final path to Earth was what activated them. I tend to agree, especially since once they were together and had accepted that they were Cylons they seemed to calm down.
"They never even tried to get out of the brig, Galen and Tori were afraid of what they'd do and Paulla seemed content to be aware of her nature as a Cylon. Or maybe they were honoring the Cylons' surrender terms. It doesn't matter; we found Earth six months after Kara came back. We spent another three months in orbit around one of the outer planets of the system, listening to their transmission, trying to pick up on their language and to get some clue as to who to make contact with."
Kara chuckled, "We lucked out. They were screaming at anybody passing by; sports, news, dramas, comedies and children's programming. They practically taught us how to speak themselves."
Lee nodded his agreement, "We managed to negotiate with their governments, primarily the United States and several of their allied nations. We're not sure what happened but they have no records of the Colonies or Kobol, they believed that humanity started on Earth and as far as human life that they were alone in the Universe. Their technology is woefully behind as well."
Kara nodded, "Other than a few unmanned probes and communication satellites, they pretty much send up a few orbital runs a year. There are tylium deposits all over the outer part of the system but they don't even have a hint of FTL capabilities. We offered up technology and help developing it and they agreed to give land in the northern part of the United States…" He trailed off trying to recall the name of the place they'd be living.
Kara then helped, "Montana. We'll have to live there at least five years and most of the officers and enlisted will have to remain in the service for at least that long, but after that we'll be US citizens and will be able to travel with relative freedom."
Bill nodded, taking all they had told him in, "Very good, but why are we here?"
His son and his wife merely smiled in a way that Bill knew they were up to no good. Lee pressed the door control and the hatch came open and they led him inside.
Lee's cabin had changed quite a lot over the last three years. Even after he'd returned from the Colonies, in the weeks before Pegasus jumped away, his cabin still looked far more like Cain's sanctuary than his own, but now there were hints of Lee everywhere, but there were many things that screamed of his wife. Abstract paintings had taken the place of Helena's firearm's collection, and his father's law books were on a shelf behind the desk.
He finally paused in front of a painting that was prominently display on the wall behind's Lee's desk. The canvas was dominated by a large swirling mass of color; blue within red and yellow. Within the swirl was a stylized phoenix that reminded Bill of the Colonial crest.
Lee spoke from behind him, "Kara painted that after she came back. In fact, she painted everything here. She didn't fly as much after she came back, she said that it wasn't her place anymore. She spent a lot of time in CIC trying to help us figure where to go next, and the rest of her time she spent here painting. We realized pretty quickly she was painting the way to Earth, once we figured out the symbolism.
"This mandala is the Ionian Nebula, not surprisingly she's the phoenix. As we moved along she began painting other things, as well as very vivid paintings of Earth and the other planets of its system." He gestured around the cabin, "We kept most of these paintings."
Bill nodded as he took in the painting of a bright golden planet with rings. He heard the hatch open then Kara's voice said, "That's Saturn."
He turned and was stunned when he saw the bundle in her arms, the toddler had dark shaggy hair and blues the same shade as Lee's but the same almost-impish features of Kara. She crossed the room and said, "I had to pick him up from our ad-hoc daycare. This is our Daughter, Sarah." She leaned down to the child that was regarding him with a curious look and said, "Sweetie, this is your grandpa."
The little girl first gave her father a skeptical look then turned back to Bill then shyly said, "Hi."
The simple word struck him in the heart and he felt a lump in his throat as he croaked out, "Hi."
Sarah gave him her mothers grinned and repeated her greeting, this time holding out her arms to him. He took her into his arms and quickly found her chubby fingers grasping at his wings. Lee then said, "She's about eighteen months old. Kara got pregnant not long after she came back to us."
"This lil' Nugget was the main reason I gave up flying. Right Nugget?" Mother and daughter shared a grin before Sarah turned her attention to this new person.
Bill watched his first grandchild, greedily drinking in every detail. He only vague heard Lee, "She's just starting to talk regularly and walk on her own, it pains me but her first word was 'Helo.'"
The girl grinned, "He-wo!"
Kara smirked, "That's right we love, Helo don't we? Don't worry, we'll steal him away from Sharon for you." A toothy grin was Sarah's only response. She turned back to Bill, "Surprised at all?"
Bill suddenly thought back to the first hours after the Attacks, when it seemed Lee had been lost and he was scrambling for things to not only keep his crew going but just for something to keep himself going, all he'd wanted was a reason to live another day.
He adjusted his granddaughter in his arms until he could reach out and pull Lee to him, finally embracing his son for the first time in over three years, "I just wish I could've been there from the start."
Lee chuckled and returned the embrace, "Sorry to disappoint."
Bill recalled another time Lee had said those words when they'd been reunited in Galactica's Sickbay. He squeezed his son and granddaughter and said, "I've never been so happy to be so wrong."
His eyes sought out Kara and he said, "You did good, Kara."
His daughter in spirit and in law merely smiled and said, "I have to admit I've molested your son a lot more than once this time. He's still not complaining either."
Lee groaned while Bill chuckled and said, "I still don't want to know."
End Notes: Well, there's two years of my life I'll never get back. If you made it this far, I thank you for reading this. Hell even if you didn't make it this far, thanks, but I doubt you'll have read this. I know some people will be asking, "what happened" questions. Just so you know, I do reserve the right to come back and revisit Apotheosis from time to time. Maybe some "deleted" scenes, maybe some AUs (reading through this I kinda became a bit of a Lee/Cain shipper and I'm intrigued on how I could do it.)
Anyway, thanks for reading, I'll see ya around the internet.