Please see the end for an extended authors note
The end of the chapter may not be for the squeamish
Red In Tooth And Claw
Epilogue : Elysium Dreams
Three years after the signing of the Treaty of Kobol
"Son of a bitch..." Starbuck looked down from the top of the tower that housed the Alliance embassy and much of the ground-side Kobol Fleet Station..
In the far distance, she could see where the ancient City of the Gods was still being excavated in a bid to discover more lost Forerunner technology, stone by stone. Below was the city of Elysium; the temple of Zeus and the Quorum Cambers were already dominating the sky-line, and it was amazing just how fast things were moving. Even on New Caprica, with the Cylons trying to impress their human subjects, the buildings and infrastructure hadn't been put in so fast. But the pre-fabricated buildings from the Colony ships in orbit had all but assembled themselves, and the first wave of construction had finish ahead of schedule. Then they had been able to start humanising the city, adding the little touches that made it stand out as their own.
Squinting slightly, she could just make out the massive green and gold statue of the Master Chief outside the main temples. It depicted him standing with his rifle cradled in his arms, looking slightly over his left shoulder in such a manner that his visor caught the first rays of the dawn sun on the feast-day of Ares. Up close it was an imposing edifice of rare green marble and onyx that stood as tall as a good-sized house, but from her distant vantage point it looked like nothing more than a child's toy, thoughtlessly disregarded.
"You know, one modern Tartarus class Arcology could hold the entire population of the city with room to spare." A voice broke her from her contemplation and returned her to reality with a bump, "But that would ruin the view somewhat."
"Yeah, that's why we built an entire city." Starbuck turned round with a grin, "We didn't want to ruin the view from your office."
"It's nice to have some perks." Shaw smiled back as she led the way into her office proper and sat behind the large, real-wood desk and gestured her guest towards one of the comfortable chairs, "So, I hear you're getting command of the Briareos after all. Congratulations, Colonel Thrace."
"You know, that would sound much better if I didn't know for a fact that we're the same rank, Commander Shaw." The former pilot laughed as she sat down, "So, how's it feel to be the spy-master?"
"I'd hardly go that far." Shaw waved away the comment, "Mostly I go through the reports that come in and pass them on to the right people. It may not be as glamorous as commanding my own Battlestar, but at least I get home at a reasonable hour."
"Yes, I hear congratulations are in order." Starbuck winked, "I'm sure Layne is taking to motherhood like a duck to water."
"Yes, well, it'll be my turn next." Shaw mocked rolling her eyes, "We both want a big family, but she made it clear when we married that she wasn't going to carry them all herself. Thankfully O.N.I. is rather generous when it comes to maternity leave, so another year or so and we'll go back to the clinic. I pulled a few strings and made sure we'd get the same donor every time, so the children will be biologically related." She cocked her head to the side, "What about you and Sam? Any thought about inflicting another cocky, egotistical little Trace on the universe?"
"We've talked about it." Starbuck nodded, "My implants up for renewal soon, so we may end up skipping it and letting nature takes its course." She sighed, "It may take me a little longer after what the Cylons did to me back on Caprica, but the doctors seem confident there shouldn't be a problem." She looked around, "Talking of kids, was that Lucy I saw downstairs?"
"Yes; she's been working as my driver and bodyguard for about a year now." Shaw nodded as she turned to the table behind her desk and poured two cups of coffee, "It started when the Sons of Ares kicked up a fuss about the building of the Temple of Rhea, or to be truthful, about those of us who chose to worship there." She shrugged, "I'm not the most religious of people; I've never claimed otherwise, but it's important to Layne so we go. But you know what the Sons of Ares can be like when it comes to women, especially those of us who, in their eyes, go against the will of the gods by not laying down and spreading our legs for them. Some of them started hanging around outside the temple after services, around about the time Layne was starting to show, and started showering her insults. I would have liked to take care of it myself, but even I can't take on six knuckle-dragging meat-heads at once, so when Mendez told me Lucy was looking for a job since finishing schooling, I figured it was a good match. She gets paid out of my expense account, and the Sons of Ares leave my wife alone."
"There are few problems in the universe that cannot be solved by the appropriate application of a Spartan." Starbuck laughed, almost spilling her coffee, "How are the others settling in? I haven't had a chance to see them since the Pegasus got back from our last patrol of the Colonies."
"They're doing okay; Fred just made Sergeant in the ECPD, while Kelly and Linda have taken jobs with the forestry service, helping to map the far side of the mountains." Shaw tapped a string of commands into the keyboard built into the desktop, calling up a series of images on the attached screen, "Tom's attending the local collage, like most of the others. Franklin's doing his best to help them get use to life as civilians, but it's still a work in progress. But they'll get there eventually."
"What about the others?" Starbuck asked, her expression now serious, "I've had letters, sure, but there's always something left out. How are things really going here?"
"Not as well as we'd hoped, but there's not been any violence just yet." Shaw put her coffee down and activated the jammers that were supposed to stop all known listening devices, "Zarek lost the last election by a very small margin, and you and I both know that Roslin's not going to run again. That means that in four years we could have a reactionary President, and he's not made too many friends in the Alliance with his calls for tighter trade restrictions while demanding more subsidies." She rubbed her brow, squeezing the bridge of her nose between finger and thumb, "I sometimes think he forgets just how good we have things here; we have the only operational factory for our jump-drives, as well as key components for the duel-drive system being rolled out across the Alliance. And while we may be geographically isolated from the rest of the known universe, the Portal means we're far from being a cut off backwater, and the excavation of the City of the Gods means that the Alliance isn't going to turn its back on us any time soon. We have no real external security issues; there are no known space faring races within range of Kobol or the Twelve Colonies, and even if there were, we have one of the largest fleet presences anywhere, with backup at most an hour away by Portal. We are as safe and secure as it is possible to be, even with the handful of Cylon ships that refused to acknowledge surrender and the treaty."
"I think Lee may run for office." Starbuck looked unsure, "Gods know he's got the brains, but I can't say I'm happy with the idea of losing the second highest ranking officer in our fleet, even if it does keep someone like Tom Zarek at bay."
"I'm sure that the universe will reveal itself in due time." Shaw shrugged, "Until then, I'll keep trying to stop it blowing up in our faces."
"So Say We All." Starbuck chuckled, "So Say We All."
The car turned the corner like a pouncing tiger; all power and aggression. The back slid out, threatening to send the vehicle spinning out of control on the slick tarmac, but the driver turned into the skid with deft skill, turning it into a controlled power-slide that kept them pointing in the right direction.
"Might I suggest less haste and more speed?" The woman in the passenger seat asked, speaking up to be heard over the sound of the powerful engine and the blaring sirens that alerted everything within a couple of kilometre that they'd better get out the way, "I know it's a hospital, but I'd still rather be a visitor than a patient!"
The driver simply glanced at her out of the corner of his eye as he floored the accelerator, sending the old Warthog thundering on down the road as fast as its supercharged engine would allow.
Fraser's World was about as far from anywhere of interest as it was possible to get. On the far side of human space from what had once been the Covenant, it still had a frontier feel to it, even after two centuries of habitation. Technically an independent world, it enjoyed the protection of the Alliance while, for the most part, being left to its own devices domestically. As such it tended to attract the sort of people who chaffed under a more authoritarian régime, and the government was known not to ask too many questions when it came to new arrivals, as long as they were willing to play by the rules once they got there.
The town of Wolf Lake was isolated even by local standards, with logging and mining being the two main industries, supplemented in the off-season by a scattering of hunting cabins and one of the best ski resort on the entire planet. Despite this, the locals had managed to maintain the small town feel that made it a real community who welcomed newcomers, even if their past seemed a little shady. Still, a skilled doctor was a skilled doctor, and if her son-in-law happened to be one of the best deputies the local Sheriff had ever known, all the better. The planet was full of people who'd seen and done too much and now wanted to find peace, so one more family was a drop in the ocean.
The screech of rubber on tarmac heralded the arrival of the Warthog outside the town's small hospital, a modest affair set in pristine woodland. The ATV looked like it was going to run straight into the reception area, but a yank on with the parking brake and a sharp turn of the wheel saw it skid into the parking space marked as reserved for Dr Cathy Jeromi, and stopped amidst a cloud of dust and smoke.
"Next time, I drive." The woman in the passenger's seat remarked as she unbuckled her harness and pulled herself out, an ebony walking stick supporting her as she quickly made her way into the hospital, the driver right behind her.
"Dr Jeromi!" The receptionist looked up, startled, "I was just about to page you..."
"Yes, well, thankfully the nurses are more on the ball than you are." The older woman snapped back, more out of worry than actual spite, "I said I wanted to be informed the moment my daughter went into labour; there are certain aspects of her medical history that could complicate matters, and I'm the only person on staff with anything even approaching experience in dealing with them."
With that the two newcomers swept past the terrified young woman behind the desk and made their way through the hospital towards the maternity ward. Visitors, medical staff and patients alike got out of their way, spurned on either by the look one the doctors face, or the sheer imposing bulk of the deputy behind her. A hair over two meter, all of it muscle, he had been known to stop bar fights simply by turning up. He was also known to be a man of few words who never spoke about his past, and while he seemed to do his best to avoid confrontation, he was more than capable of handling himself should the need arise. While many people wondered just who Deputy John Newman really was, no one was brave enough to ask.
The agonised cries of a woman in labour could be header from the far end of the hallway, and the two of them hastened their step in a bid to get there as quickly as possible.
"THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, YOU BASTARD!" The woman on the bed screamed between pants when she saw the man standing in the doorway, "YOU DID THIS TOO ME!"
"If memories serves, it was your decision to start a family." Her mother replied drolly, "And I'm sure you weren't complaining nine months ago."
"Don't you dare start!" The woman on the bed warned as a fresh wave of contractions overcame her "Just give me something to take away the pain!"
"I'm afraid it's too late for that." the midwife announced, "You're crowning."
"Oh god..." The woman on the bed wailed as she pushed, gripping tightly on her husband's hand as he came to her side, "I don't think I can do this!"
"You've been through worse." His voice was soft and reassuring, even if the sight of the woman he loved more than life itself in such pain was like an icy dagger through the heart, "You can do this, Beth."
Any reply that may have been forth coming was lost to another scream, which was joined a few seconds later by a second, higher pitched cry.
"Congratulations." The midwife smile as she cleaned off the new born and wrapped it in a blanket before handing it to the exhausted mother, "It's a beautiful baby girl."
"Miranda." Elizabeth Newman smiled as she gazed down in wonder at the new life she had just brought into the world, "Her name is Miranda Sharon Kendra Newman."
My eternal thanks go to:
Zimu Yang for beta-reading; the first person I've met who could keep up with me.
Cylon117 for acting as a sounding board and helping me with fact checking.
Redrover117, for not complaining when our planed plots clashed.
Everyone over at SpaceBattles, for helping me thrash out more than one idea and keeping me on the right track, a task that can't have been all that easy.
Everyone at Bungie, Ensemble Studios and 343-Industries for not only creating and expanding the Halo universe, but letting us fan-fiction writers play with it.
Ronald D. Moore and everyone else behind the Battlestar Galactica reboot for the same;
we forgive you for losing your way a little towards the end.
The staff and contributors at the Halo and Battlestar Galactica Wiki's;
couldn't have done it without you guys.
Everyone who reviewed; both the positive and the negative. Can't say I knew exactly where this was going when I started,
but knowing that there were people out there who enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it (for the most part) helped keep me going.
Last but not least, thank you to the characters; it was a pleasure working with you, even the ones I killed off.
You guys rock!
There may be a sequel, the exact nature and content of which is still very much undecided, so please don't pester me for updates.
I have other projects I would really like to work on before I even consider revisiting something that has taken over three years to write.