This is it everyone, the end of the tale. I began it before season 4 started, working under the premise that BSG would have been a very different story if Kara hadn't come back, but it's turned out to be a good alternate season 4 with twists and turns that didn't happen on the actual show but that I would have liked to see. I have tried to incorporate much of canon into the story while remaining true to my original vision and I think I've succeeded in that goal. Ultimately, I wrote the story because it interested me and I wanted to, but I really want to thank all of you who've been along for the ride for this last year and a half with me. Some have dropped in to comment here and there, some have been faithful commenters all along. Some have challenged me and told me they didn't like aspects of the story, some have been staunch supporters, and some have even made suggestions for me. I've appreciated any and all feedback as, whether I like it or not, it means you're reading my story and have opinions about it - what more could any writer want? :) So THANK YOU ALL for being there and supporting me in my writing. You're all wonderful!

~ Bright, Shiny Futures - Chapter Sixty-Five ~

Gaeta almost felt sorry for disturbing the Admiral. He stood still as a statue, oblivious to the people working around him, watching the sun as it dipped down, painting the sky pink, orange and red.

"Sir?" he said quietly, walking up beside the Old Man.

"Yes Gaeta," Adama turned to look at him. "You have news?"

"Good news sir. The ships are ready for take off."

Adama clapped his shoulder. "Well done. I knew you could do it."

"It wasn't so much me as my new helper," Gaeta confessed. "It would have taken me much longer on my own."

The older man stared at him curiously, then smiled. "It's a rare man who doesn't take credit for other people's work. I'm proud of you for being honest."

Gaeta smiled. "The only difficulty now is that someone has to be on the Basestar to set the trajectory and keep the ships steady. That someone is, as Lee pointed out, not going to come back ... "

"I know son." Adama swallowed hard. "I already have a volunteer."

* * * * * * * * * *

Sharon put her arms around her husband's waist and smiled up at him. "It looks fabulous."

They both smiled at the rough timbers they'd begun to make into a home - still very rough and needing much finishing - as their daughters wandered through the three rooms, marveling at how much space there was and how they were thrilled at not having to share a bedroom with their parents anymore.

"Three rooms," Sharon said dreamily. "That's almost like living in a mansion."

"And with all of this," Helo spread his arms wide, "as our backyard. This, this is truly what freedom is all about. I feel like a king."

"Where are Lee and Kara going to live? Are they settling in the 'town'?"

Helo shook his head. "I saw them earlier over there." He pointed to a copse of trees a couple of hundred metres away. "If I know them, that's where they're planning on building."

"Good." Sharon snuggled up to him. "It's good to keep your friends close by."

* * * * * * * * * *

Tears flowed freely down the old woman's cheeks as Zach and Sara let go of her and ran back to their mother. Lee stepped forward, a half-smile gracing his face as he sought to keep the tears at bay.

"Take good care of them for they are the future," Zero whispered, just loud enough for him to hear.

"I will," he returned in the same subdued voice.

She gripped his hands tightly and he jumped at their coldness. "We will see each other again in the afterlife. Until then, may your future be happy and may the sun shine brightly on you and your descendants."

Lee, not a religious man by any means, was moved to utter a prayer he barely remembered from his childhood schooling. "May the Lords of Kobol hold you in the palm of their hands until we meet again."

He stepped back into the crowd beside Kara and watched as his father pushed the wheelchair into the Basestar's interior. Several minutes later Adama returned, tears unabashedly running down his weathered face. He joined his family, gripping Laura's hand tightly as they stood at the front of the crowd, ready to watch a piece of their past disappear forever.

One by one the ship's engines ignited, the combined thrumming of the mighty machines making the very earth beneath their feet vibrate.

"Our bright, shiny future starts today - right here, right now," Adama shouted, "but let us not forget the sacrifices that have been made to get us here. Let us remember the ships that held together for a decade, providing us with shelter when we needed it most. Let us remember the men and women who gave their lives in the pursuit of this dream. They did so willingly so we could have a better future. Let us remember as we move forward, who we were and what we've accomplished, because while this is the end of an era, it is also the beginning of another one. A better one."

Kara bit her lip as she choked down a sob. "So say we all!" she yelled out proudly. Lee squeezed her hand and joined her in the second repetition.

The crowd took up the chant, repeating it over and over as the ships began to fly, until they disappeared over the horizon towards the rapidly setting sun.


Two months later ...

Lee heard his children coming before he saw them, their joyful voices shouting and laughing as they ran over the hill towards him. Another child was with them; a black-skinned youngster wearing nothing but a spotted loincloth.

He stopped in his tracks as a man who looked remarkably like the child stepped over the hill and into view. Their eyes met and Lee's heart skipped a couple of beats. Then he drew in a deep breath and headed towards the man. First contact with the native peoples was bound to happen sooner or later, and he smiled inwardly, thinking of how apropos it was that he - the leader of the new colony - was going to be the one to experience it. Or rather, he and his children ...

He dusted off his hands ruefully, as, though he was now President of the colony, he was currently working in his family's garden and was covered in dirt.

The other man walked towards him, appearing unafraid, and they stopped a few metres apart.

"Hello," Lee said cheerfully.

The man uttered a sound that was probably meant to be a word but Lee couldn't understand it.

"My name is Lee."

Still a gutteral response, possibly two words this time.

Lee tapped his chest. "Lee. My name - Lee."

The man lifted a hand and for a moment Lee knew a flash of fear. The man wore several spears tipped with metal arrows and he guessed they'd do him much harm if the man chose to use them. But the hand came up straight and he pointed at Lee with his index finger. "Lee," he repeated, the normally simple syllable sounding difficult and strange coming out of his mouth.

Lee nodded enthusiastically. "Yes! Lee." He touched his chest. "Lee Adama."

White teeth shone as the man touched the centre of his own chest. "Kekembele."

Lee pointed at him and attempted to repeat the name. "Kekembele." It felt stilted coming off his tongue, but a smile grew in the man's eyes as he nodded. At least we've got that in common, Lee thought gratefully. It's a beginning.

Kekembele reached around his neck and drew off one of the beaded necklaces he wore. He stepped forward and put it over Lee's head, speaking another word Lee couldn't understand, however the light in the man's brown face as he performed the gesture was unmistakable.

Impulsively, Lee reached over his own head and pulled off the chain he still wore, despite having been a civilian for many years. The dogtags tinkled and glinted brightly in the sunlight. He put the chain carefully around Kekembele's neck. "Friend," he said.

They smiled at one another.

The three children streaked by, laughing and panting as they ran, having easily bridged the race, colour and language barriers as children did and able to communicate well. Lee envied them.

"Come," he said, turning his body towards the home he'd begun building. Kara stood in the doorway, tension evident in her silhouette as she'd witnessed the meeting. He gestured for Kekembele to follow him. "Come, meet my family."

The man nodded and began to walk with him, no hesitation.

Yes, Lee thought to himself as his heart surged with joy. We finally did something right.