Encounter At Dawn
Part 35: Childhoods End

Baltar looked about the rooms that had been his home since arriving in Atlantis; they were as stark and utilitarian as ever, but in many ways they had been the first place he had felt at home since the first Cylon attack, three years before. He could spend his entire life in Atlantis, and never even scratch the surface of all it had to teach him. But that was not to be: the SGC had decided that he would be of more use to them on Earth, helping them reverse engineer Colonial and Cylon technology. They had also made it clear that he would be watched closely for the foreseeable future,

his past forgiven but not forgotten.

"Have you finished packing?" Six stood in the doorway leading to the bedroom, "The Odyssey leaves this afternoon, and we have to report on-board at least an hour beforehand."

"Packed?" Baltar looked at the two holdalls that held everything he owned, mainly cloths he had drawn from the expeditions quartermaster and a computer Zelenka had given him, "I don't think I ever unpacked."

"I know this is a big change, but we're going to be living on Earth; our child will be born there." His companion walked over and put her arms around him, "The others won't be allowed there; you won."

"Some victory." He scoffed, "I get to spend the rest of my life on a planet that will probably never know who I am."

"They'll know, one day." Six kissed him softly, "And we have our whole life together to look forward to."

"I wish I could convince you to leave at least one of the Zee-PM's." Weir did her best to smile sweetly, "We could really use them."

"And in a perfect universe, I'd gladly let you have them." O'Neill shook his head, "No; we need one to power the Odyssey when we next go up against the Ori, and the other for the Outpost in Antarctica. Our attempts to power the drone-control chair there with Naquadah generators has been, less than spectacular. And truth be told, I'd like to have it working if and when the Ori come calling."

"Well, at least you're not taking my new bodyguard with you." Weir looked at the pair of Centurions standing guard outside her office; they had cause quite the stir when the Colonials had first seen them. "I think I'm going like like having staff who respond to my every order with 'By Your Command'."

"Yeah, well, try and keep at least some in one piece." The General shook his head, "And you're going to have the Pegasus to play with, once the Asgard finish working on her. That said, the IOA is still arguing as to just who officially gets her; last I heard they were talking about putting her under the direct command of the Security Council."

"As long as we get her until then." Sheppard smiled, "I've seen some of the plans Thor put to Caldwell; the Pegasus is going to be one of the toughest, meanest ships in three Galaxies!"

"You can simmer down; Caldwell is still getting command." O'Neill smiled slightly, "The SGC is going to be busy helping the Colonials get settled on their new planet, so it may be a while before you receive that much more in the way of new people and equipment from us."

"Elizabeth, you need to see this!" Zelenka walked passed the two Centurions without even raising an eyebrow before starting to rant in his native language.

"Radek!" McKay followed closely behind, eyeing the two Cylon guards slightly nervously, "You need to calm down."

"What's going on?" O'Neill asked, slightly bemused.

"The city, it's begun constructing fresh Drones!" Zelenka explained after taking a deep breath, "There are approximately twice as many in our reserve than there were last week."

"We don't know how, and we don't know why, but some automated system seems to have been activated." McKay beamed, "Teyla and Ronon have gone to have a look at it in action."

"It will take time, but we should have a full stock in a matter of months." Zelenka added, "Then, maybe we can start sending some back through the Stargate to Earth to replenish the Antarctica outpost."

"Freakin' sweet!" O'Neill's smile broadened to a grin, "I guess the Ancients found another loop-hole." His watch bleeped, "I've got to go: the Asgard have offered to take us as far as the new Colonial Homeworld, so we can avoid taxing our Zee-PM. Hopefully I managed to set the TiVo correctly and didn't miss an episode of The Simpson's."

"Hang on a second." Sheppard sat up, a confused look on his face, "Only three people can work the control chair in Antarctica: you, Becket and me. If we're all here, what the hell are they going to do if the Ori or someone else turns up before you can get back?"

"Our Ace-In-The-Hole; Joe Spencer." O'Neill smiled as he grabbed his dress cap from Weir's desk, "He's a civilian who has the ATA, almost as strong as I do."

"You have a civilian manning the Earth's only defensive option?" McKay was taken aback, "What does the IOA think?"

"I thought it was best not to tell them." O'Neill winked as he headed for the door, "They might get a bit worried if I told them that planetary security was being handled by a barber from Indiana."

"We're really doing this?" Helo asked as he watched the last supply shuttle take off across the city, heading up the the waiting fleet, "We're really leavening everything behind."

"We're not leaving everything behind." Athena pointed out, "We're still officers in the Colonial Fleet and we have a mission; liaise between Atlantis and the Admiral."

"Just how much 'liaising' are we going to do with the Galactica in another Galaxy?" Helo asked.

"Colonel Sheppard is talking about putting together an expedition to Kobol as soon as the Pegasus is ready, and they'll need someone who's been there to guide them." His wife pointed out, leaning against the high rail guarding the balcony, "And we get to keep Hera safe..."

"The President is not out to get Hera." Helo reassured her, "You heard what the Admiral and Dr Weir said; as long as she's on Earth or Atlantis, no one will ever be allowed to hurt her."

"Then I guess it's true what you humans say." A frown settled on Athena's face as she looked out over the sea, "You can never go home again."

Adama stood in the middle of the CIC, the room once again a hive of activity as the fleet prepared to make the hyperspace-jump to their new Homeworld. The idea the thought of travelling to another Galaxy entirely in a matter of hours was almost too much for him to comprehend. He couldn't help but wonder how many lives could have been saved, how many hardship could have been avoided, if they had only encountered the Atlantis Expedition sooner. A man could spend his entire life thinking like that, and he had more important things on his mind, like his newly discovered granddaughter, and the possibility of seeing just where his relationship with Laura Roslin would go.

Peace, a dream he had been unable to hope for for so long was now in their grasp. Unlike the string of blunders that had been the settlement of New Caprica, their new destination had been surveyed by the SGC as the sight for a possible off-world research station, so they had detailed information to base their plans on, and the promise of help and much needed heavy equipment to kick-start the process. All they needed was a little time, and a little luck.

"All ships report ready, Sir." Gaeta reported, "The Asgard say they are ready to go when we are."

"Very well." Adama nodded and lifted the intercom, setting it to fleet-wide, "This is the Admiral; let's go home."

Baltar stood looking out the observation bay window as the Colonial Remnant were towed into Hyperspace by the much larger and more powerful Cylon fleet. The Odyssey herself followed on behind, riding the edge of the energy wave without the need for an actual tractor-beam. Hardly a moment went by when he was not confronted by some marvel of advanced technology that the rest of the crew seemed to take for granted. Despite its rather stark design and primitive look, the Odyssey was still perhaps a hundred years ahead of anything the Cylons of Colonials even had on the drawing board. He knew that he would have to spend a lot of time catching up if he wanted to prove his worth.

But he has, as Six had said, all the time in the world.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Weir asked as she stepped out onto the balcony connected to her room, "Or would I be over-spending?"

"I was just thinking about everything that's happened." Sheppard looked out over the moonlit ocean, "Every thing's changed, for better or for worse."

"I hope that we come under the 'better' heading?" Weir put her arms around him and kissed his neck, "Or is there more you're not telling me?"

"There's a storm coming, Elizabeth; I can smell it in the air." Sheppard looked up at the cloudless sky, "This isn't the end. In fact, I have a terrible feeling that this is only the beginning."

The End

This story is in the region of 73,200 words long.
It has so far received over 600 reviewers (both positive and negative) on three different websites.
Over 200 people were automatically informed by email when the last chapter was posted.
If printed out, single space, it would fill 146 pages of A4 paper.
've already begun prep-work on the sequel, but it will take time.
To all those who have supported me, I offer my heartfelt thanks and appreciation.
And to those who doubted me, I will say only this:

Hope finds a way.