This is an AU of my story 'Saga of Gold Squadron'. I always wondered what might have happened if the Colonials had arrived during this pivotal point during the Earth/Minbari war. All quotes are from the B5 movie 'In the Beginning'.

I do not own B5, Battlestar Galactica or any of the characters except for the original ones I invented for this story.

BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE

Dragonlots aka Dana Bell

Chapter 1 : Battle of the Line

"….that we stand at the twilight of the Human race."

The grim voice filled the silent bridge. Lights blinked on computer banks and the soft hum of machinery filled the void.

"To buy time for more evacuation transports to leave Earth, we ask for the support of every ship capable of fighting to take part in our last defense of homeworld." The red headed woman filled the screen in the tweed suite seemed defeated. "We will not lie to you. Survival…is not a possibility. Those who enter this battle…will never come home ."

"Get me the Galactica," Apollo quietly ordered.

"But for every ten minutes we can delay the military advance, several hundred more civilians may have a chance to escape to neutral territory. Though Earth may fall, the human race must have a chance to continue elsewhere." Her eyes and tone pleaded. "No greater sacrifice has been asked of a people. But I ask you now to step forward one last time…one last battle to hold the line against the night." She paused. "May God go with you all."

Adama's sliver haired image appeared on Apollo's com screen. "I heard Commander," his father's grim voice assured him.

"What do you suggest we do?"

Adama sighed wearily. "I'd hoped to stay out of this conflict. But if the Minbari are threatening Earth, and our brothers are doomed to fall, then we Must do all we can to help them."

His son nodded running fingers through dark brown hair just starting to be tinged with streaks of gray. "We'll have to leave the fleet here." He didn't add he hoped the Minbari didn't come back to make certain all the people on the Io colony were dead.

"If they stay behind this gas giant they will go unobserved." Adama seemed to glance behind him. Apollo saw Colonel Tigh hand him something. "Dr. Salek confirms there were no survivors on the base."

Apollo's expression matched his fathers. Sadness and determination.

"None at all?" Sheba asked coming up behind him.

Apollo turned and shook his head. His wife's face darkened briefly. They'd been sealed when the Pegasus and the Galactica had rejoined forces. Unfortunately, her father, the legendary Commander Cain, had not lived to see his only daughter married.

"I want an open channel to the fleet," he heard his father say. Apollo took Sheba's hand and returned his attention to the address Adama was about to deliver. "This is Commander Adama. As you are all aware, over the past two yahrens our Earth brothers have been engaged in a war against a race called the Minbari. Although we know nothing about the origins of this conflict, I believe it is our sacred duty to help our brothers, who will soon be in deadly peril. Therefore, the Galactica and Pegasus will be leaving the fleet in less than thirty centons with all our warriors. The fleet will stay hidden behind this world called by our brother's Jupiter. But I want it known, should we fail and Earth is destroyed, I want the fleet to scatter to join with the Earth colonies we have already found. I also request you aid and protect any fleeing ships from the battle. Adama out."

Apollo met the solemn expressions of his bridge crew. "We have our orders."

00000000000000000000000

"I don't know what to do. Tell me. Tell me what to do." Delenn asked the two Vorlons, shrouded in atmosphere suits as she stood between them.

A noise similar to electronic humming answered. "The truth points to itself."

She didn't understand. She wanted clarification. "What?"

"The truth points to itself," the Vorlon repeated.

"I do not understand."

"You will," the second Vorlon stated menacingly.

"Go."

She hesitated.

"Go now. Go. Before it's too late."

She glanced at the two unsure. She turned back to the door and left.

00000000000000000000000000000000

"Stay close to Sinclair," Jaerri muttered to herself. Damn the Council! How she wished they wouldn't be so cryptic and had actually given her some real information. She flipped a few switches in her Star Fury. Her X shaped fighter was ready. But then, she reminded herself, they hadn't been real forthcoming when she'd been in the Colonies either.

"Just stand by and be a part of what happens," she'd been told.

What they hadn't told her was that the Twelve Worlds were about to over run and destroyed by the Cylons. A cold, vicious robot race who killed all other living beings in the galaxy.

She still remembered the night death rained down from the skies and how millions had been killed. If Adama hadn't had the foresight to gather all the survivors into ships and leave, they all would have died.

As it was, Jaerri had lost part of her adopted family, and her battlestar, the Atlantia, in the surprise attack. All engineered by that traitor Baltar using the ruse of a peace conference. They'd lost every ship, except the Galactica, and more warriors than she cared to think about.

"Wish I had my viper now," she murmured as her fighter sluggishly responded to her touch. The Star Furies may be a marvel of modern Earth technology, but she didn't think much of them after the sleek easily operated Vipers of the Colonies.

"What was that?" one of her fellow pilots asked.

"Sorry, just talking to myself."

"Keep it down Alpha three" Sinclair admonished. "Maintain radio silence. We must be ready when they come through."

'Right', she silently answered him. 'Not sure why you're so damned important, but if my orders say "Stay close and keep you safe, even if I die in the process." So be it.'

000000000000000000000000000000

Stars streaked outside the windows of Apollo's private quarters. He'd retreated there for a few centons of peace before bringing his ship to battle alert. Absently, he picked up one of the few mementos he'd kept from the bombed out ruin of his Caprican home. It was a picture of his entire family. His father Adama, his mother Ila, him, just graduated from the academy, his dark haired and eyed sister Athena, who still served aboard the Galactica, his younger brother Zac. Apollo winced remembering Zac had died just short of the fleet during the Cylon surprise attack.

Also in the picture was his cousin Antares with his classical Caprican looks but with light brown hair and matching eyes. He'd gone on to become the wingman for the strike commander of the Atlantia and part of the elite Hawk Squadron. They'd survived the sneak attack through the quick thinking of Captain Jaerri. Antares now served aboard the Pegasus.

He saw two more faces. Jaerri was in the picture too, silver blonde hair pulled back in a sparkling comb, her odd violet eyes staring intently. His father had sponsored the girl even though they knew little about her. All she would ever tell them was that she came from 'around the fringes'. Sadly, she'd died a short time after they'd defeated the Cylon basestar at the edge of the galaxy.

With a smile he examined Rae's face. Her oval face hinted at her mischievous nature. Long black hair hung around her blue eyes and she never seemed to care what she looked like. She'd only wanted to graduate from the academy and become a great warrior. Rae had. She and her infamous Gold squadron distinguished themselves and Rae had transferred to the Pegasus just before the fifth fleet had been destroyed. They'd been on a deep patrol when he and Starbuck found the Pegasus. Rae, Don, Karl, Jason, Jerik and Stacia, returned to Gomoray, found it in ruins and finally found the fleet.

"And what an uplift to morale and infuriating bunch you were to my father." Apollo chuckled. Gold Squadron had a very bad habit of taking off on unauthorized patrols. Adama had finally cracked down on them by giving them their very own personal co. First, Colonel Irria, who later committed suicide to rejoin her dead squadron members on the anniversary of their death and later Major Taygete. Tay, as they called her, chased Colonel Tigh mercilessly. He'd finally given the woman a chance and now they were sealed.

Apollo put the picture back on his desk. He still remembered the deep pain when Rae and her squadron had flown off with a final good bye and disappeared. He had not come to know their fate until much later, when he himself had gotten separated from his patrol, surrounded by Cylons, and certain death was near.

0000000000000000000000000

"Frak!" He cursed as the Cylon fighter dodged his lasers. He pulled his viper around and tried again. The Cylon darted to the side. He wondered where the other fighter was when a bolt of light flashed past him.

"Great." He put his viper into a dive. Both fighters came after him. He put the turbos on and hoped he could outrun them.

"Hey, Apollo," a voice yelled, "get out of the way!"

"What?"

"Get out of the way!" the voice ordered again.

He pulled on the joystick and shot straight up. Six streaks with gold on their fins flashed by and quickly disposed of the Cylons.

"You okay!" Rae's anxious voice cried.

"I must be dead," he told himself, not believing what had just happened.

"No, you're very much alive big brother," Rae shot back.

The six vipers fell into formation around him. Apollo knew he had to be seeing things.

"Just follow us in."

Deciding he had no other choice he did. He listened to the bantering between the pilots. It seemed odd how familiar it all was.

"Pegasus this is Gold Squadron. We're on our way in." Rae was lining her viper up for approach on the landing bay.

"Roger that, " Colonel Tolen responded. "Captain, who is that with you?"

"Oh, just a lonely lost daggit in search of his boy. Though we'd bring him home with us."

He could almost see Tolen close his eyes in exasperation. "You're cleared to land. Have your 'lost daggit' report to the Commander immediately."

Rae had laughed and headed in.

00000000000000000000000000000000000000

"Apollo," Sheba's voice intruded on his memories. He hadn't heard her enter. Lightly her hand touched his arm. "We're only fifteen centons from Earth."

He nodded, rising with a last look at the picture. He'd rejoined Rae on the Pegasus delighted she was alive. She still served under his command opting not to return to Galactica when the two battlestars had found each other again.

His wife noticed his glance. "We've all lost loved ones, Apollo. At least some of them we found again."

Apollo smiled sadly. "I know." He switched from husband to commander. "Let's get the Pegasus on battle alert."

0000000000000000000000000000000

"We've got a scouting party! Repeat, we've got a scouting party! Hostiles on approach! Locking on!"

The desperate voice of Alpha seven reached Jaerri's ears. She felt the adrenaline kick in. 'Here we go.' A bright flash in the distance and she knew the pilot was dead.

"Alpha seven!" Sinclair shouted.

"He's gone!" replied another pilot.

"Stay in formation," he ordered. As Alpha leader, they had to follow his judgement. "Hold the line! No one gets through, no matter what!"

Mitchell acknowledged and then called. "Alpha leader, you've got a Minbari on your tail!"

Jaerri watched as the pilot broke formation and went after the Minbari. His first and probably last mistake, she noted from her place on the far end of the formation.

"No!" Sinclair yelled. "Mitchell! Stay in formation! It might be a…" Mitchell's fighter blew up just as hundreds of jump points opened up and Minbari cruisers poured around them. "Oh my God,"

0000000000000000000000000000

Delenn stood with the rest of the Gray Council. Overhead a holographic image of the battle outside raged. Earth ship after earth ship fired and then died.

She noted one in particular seemed to doing better than the others. The pilot scored a hit, dodged retaliation, and used tactics not familiar to her but with great success.

Still, all the death around was appalling, yet, in some ways she found herself admiring the humans. "They fight bravely. They can't harm our ships. But they continue to try."

Morann, one of her fellow council members shrugged. "Whether they fight or not, they will die anyway. So really, is this bravery, or simple desperation?"

A thought came to her in a flash. "We should bring one of them aboard for questioning. If our next step is the final assault on their world, we must know their defenses."

Morann's thin face looked puzzled before he answered thoughtfully. "Very well, Delenn. Choose." He waved an arm overhead. "But quickly. We're fast running out of candidates."

00000000000000000000000000

Jaerri saw Sinclair's Star Fury take a hit. "Damn!" She changed course and headed toward him. She prayed she reached him in time and wouldn't fail the Council's orders. Just as she came into range, a Minbari fighter fired on her. Her ship shuttered. "Bald headed idiot!"

She heard Sinclair's voice in her ears. "Not like this! Not like this! If I'm going out I'm taking you bastards with me!"

'You're either very brave or very stupid,' she thought as she fought for control of her fighter.

"Target main cruiser! Set for full velocity ram! After burners on my mark…mark!"

Jaerri watched in horror as Sinclair aimed for the Minbari cruiser. So much for protecting him with her own life. "Dear God. NO!"

Something streaked by her. She shook her head. Her eyes had to be deceiving her. It couldn't be! Quickly she changed frequencies.

'Watch you back, Starbuck!" she heard Boomer say.

"Don! Stacia! Roll!" Rae's voice.

"Bojay, watch it!" Just as a Minbari fighter almost nailed the warrior.

'Where did you all come from?' Jaerri wondered as she finally regained control of her ship. "Starbuck! Rae! Anybody!"

"Who is this?" Rae demanded.

"Doesn't matter. Quick! Someone stop…now what?"

Sinclair's Star Fury had stopped its deadly approach. It was dead in space. Bright lights flashed into space and grabbed his fighter dragging it toward the large cruiser.

"Somebody stop them!" Jaerri cried.