It had been almost three weeks since the declaration of war had been issued and other than several light skirmishes along the border fringes, there was tense quietness as both sides prepared themselves for what was now being quietly described as a war of extermination. President Adama and his entourage traveled regularly back and forth between his new home, Mariposa, and Deep Space Twenty-three to continue with negotiations and familiarize himself with Federation culture and politics. Most of the wreckage and micro-fragments had been found and removed by those massive tractor-sweeps that attracted and phased the garbage from existence. Traffic would be back to normal soon.

Strike Commander Starbuck was due to return from his impromptu trip to New Halana onboard the Khe Sahn. Adama had granted him the short leave, which he hoped would relive some of the emotional stress that the poor man suffered due to his loss of Cassiopeia. The breakup had affected him a lot more than Starbuck tried to let on and he needed the time to reflect. Adama secretly thought him a fool for letting her get away because the fact was he waited too long. When the loneliness had gotten too much for Adama, even he had Sealed himself with Siress Tinia, several yahrens past. Of course during those times of political intrigue and backstabbing, he didn't truly trust her at first, Tinia being a major player in the Quorum of Twelve, the ruling body that had managed to fight him at every turn during the great migration. But he'd found her to be a great asset, an intelligent, beautiful woman and most importantly, a person who was flexible enough in her thinking to keep the quorum members, especially Sire Uri, from undermining everything he'd work for to save his people. Adama had been gone for only a few days and he couldn't wait to get back to her and his family. Now however, he had guests to entertain here on the station, people who had traveled so far specifically to meet him.

His reconstructed quarters, located in the diplomatic section offered an outstanding view of those magnificent starships entering and leaving the station. Ships of several classes had parked inside the station recently including two Colonial vessels. He watched in awe and satisfaction as the cream colored, Sovereign-class USS Melbourne had docked several centons earlier bring with it passengers and several essential items not able to be replicated by Starfleet machines. And now the Enterprise was easing into the birth next to the Melbourne. Both of them together were a magnificent sight, much like his two Battlestars side by side, daring anything to mess with the charges under their care.

"It is magnificent isn't it," the woman standing next to him said.

He had to agree which he acknowledged with a shake of his head. "Picard should be here shortly. I read his report. That was unusual for a Captain to break communications silence with such information."

"He wanted the Romulans to know what he found. I'm sure that they would not have been so forthcoming to us," she added dryly. "But even if they don't understand, we're in this war together that doesn't exclude us from aiding their effort. Chalk it up to one of our multiple human failings," she mused. "One day they may actually learn a little more about us."

She felt his presence before she saw him, his aura calling to her like beacon. Captain William Thomas Riker was there at the docking gateway. "Will," she whispered while sending her thoughts into his mind. Their relationship was such that although not fully telepathic, he could read what she sent to him. His joy reflected back at her and in another moment they were in each other arms. It was unseemly to have a Captain kissing a First officer, but most people didn't care and it was a poorly kept secret anyway.

"How was your first combat mission as a first officer," he asked, all the while smiling that infectious smile of his.

"Frightening. Glorious. Full of sadness and satisfaction." Her happiness at seeing him was a reflection of his. "Did you miss me?"

"Absolutely," he responded, kissing her again. "There wasn't a minute on my milk-runs, that I didn't think about you." The USS Melbourne was still in shakedown mode, although with war looming on the horizon that could be shortened considerably. "When will the transfer come thru?" he asked remembering her promise of six weeks past to come and join him on his ship.

That stopped her short. She'd half forgotten about that. That worried her. The moment that Riker had obtained his ship it was assumed that she would be with him. She expected no less but this mission had changed everything. Being First officer for the last month and a half had changed her in ways she'd never imagined. "Will," she said finally, "we have to talk."

The man understood instantly. "You're not coming, are you?"

"Will," she said, evading the question slightly. "I can feel them."

"You mean the Cylons?" Yes, he was sensitive to her. "They're machines."

"Yes, they're machines, but I CAN feel them," she answered. "They're not like Data's emotions. You understand that with his emotion chip activated, I can feel his emotions," she stated evenly. "But this is something else."

"In what way?" he asked as his curiosity was up now.

"They exude a darkness about them. There's something resonating in their programming that I can detect. Once I realized what it was, it's become easier to detect. I'm getting better at it all the time."

Riker looked at her, his face losing its expression more and more by the moment. "You feel you be a better asset to Captain Picard rather than being my wife," he state flatly. "Plus you like being First officer."

This was the curse of being an empath. Unless one maintained complete control every emotion one felt or experienced expressed itself on one's face. And she never did have a good poker face when it came to her beloved. "Yes," came the answer.

"I understand," he said. And he did too. "I understand what it means to have that kind of responsibility. But, I want a compromise. Stay with Enterprise, but marry me now. And in whichever way you decide, we'll have each other," he whispered beginning to smile again. "Deanna, I love you," he said. Loudly. Those around him looked in his direction at the two of them. Then he gave her the ring.

Her eyes went wide as he finished placing it on her finger. Unable to contain her joy, she jumped on top of him causing both of them to hit the floor, legs everywhere. Their laughter was hysterical...and their joy, infectious.

A Vulcan male, moving past them looked at slight distaste at such a raw display of open emotion. His female companion almost smiled. Humans, they both thought.

Evolutions were occurring.

Captain Picard's presence in front of the diplomatic quarters caused the sensor-chimes to ring gently and within a few moments he heard a muffled 'enter,' which allowed the double doors to slide open. He'd brought with him a favorite vintage wine from the Family vineyard in France. Months ago the President had offered him something the Colonials called ambrosia and he loved it immediately. Its bouquet was different from anything he had tasted before and he hoped that Adama's response to this delicate white wine would be equally reciprocated. As he entered the room he stopped short, just for a second, shocked by the four other people present, each one returning his stare.

The first person that caught his attention was someone he'd all but forgotten about; in fact thought he'd never seen again. The man was older now, thinner and bore ample evidence thru his eyes, the horrors he had endured over the last few years. But even so, there was still strength in his presence, that same potential of being one of the greats. His internment hadn't broken him. He wasn't in uniform now, but that was to be expected. He could never be Starfleet again.

"It's good to see you again, Lieutenant Riker," Picard evenly.

"Ex-lieutenant, now, sir," Thomas William Riker said shaking the captains hand. "I lost that during my hijacking of the Defiant." He'd come so close to preventing the opening salvos of the Dominion war. That hijacking cost him everything. Deanna, his commission, his freedom. Everything. But never would he admit he was wrong in his intent. Because, he wasn't.

Thomas William Riker was the unfortunate victim of a distortion field and a dual signal transporter accident, which created two William Rikers, one of which had been trapped for years on the planet, Nervala Four. Both Rikers claimed to be the real one. Both were correct. However, William and Thomas, to put it mildly irritated one another, or much more to the point feared and envied one another. Each felt their individuality had been jeopardized. They should have become brothers, which they were. Instead, they ran from one another's presence.

Their lives couldn't have deviated further from one another if they had tried. Thomas, looking for meaning in his life, rebelled against Starfleet's foolish stance against their colonists, while at the same time, trying to appease the Cardassians who were killing them, joined the Marquis resistance, hijacked the Defiant, illegally entered Cardassian space and exposed a conspiracy. For Thomas' crimes he was sentenced to life in a Cardassian prison camp, Lazon Two, but that was commuted after almost four years as the war with the Dominion ended. No one cared about the charges anymore and Riker's charges were more or less forgotten about. Frankly they had more problems to worry about than one human no one cared about anymore. When he was released and sent to Bajor, he weighed just over one hundred thirteen pounds. It took a year for him to physically recover from the ordeal. Eventually, he got a transport to Earth and spent another year with his father. By mutual consent, William never knew.

In the corner of his eye, a woman walked briskly towards him. "It's nice to meet you," the woman said, moving forward to shake Picard's hand. She exuded a commanding, yet relaxing presence that made him take notice. The woman looked vaguely familiar, but he couldn't quite place the face. "I'm Kathryn Janeway," she said. "And these are two members of my crew, Commander and Anika Hansen-Chakotay, formally known as Seven of Nine."

Picard's placid smile broadened significantly. "Forgive me," he responded warmly. "I didn't recognize you. I've seen your picture countless times, but just now I couldn't make the connection."

He looked again with renewed interest at the assemblage and at Seven in particular. He could see the Borg implants on the side of her face, partially covered by her long blond hair, which caused him to respond with a stab of fear within himself. And he knew of the Marquis history of Chakotay also. There was pain in those memories.

Ro Laren, she who could have been.

"Captain Picard," Captain Janeway began. "It appears that just about everyone in this little group have something in common."

Madre, Picard thought. The Borg and the Cylons. Machine beings. His mechanical heart almost leaped out of his chest.

"I received a visit from Q and my godson, Q," she said, "just recently and he gave me a warning."

"Your godson is Q's boy?"

Janeway simply waved her hand as she and they sat down. "It's a long story," she said, eyes rolling. "Remind me to tell you about it some time." Just thinking about made her want a taste of coffee. "He refused to give me details." Typical. "But it seems that we three have targeted for extermination by the Cylon Empire."

"Ladies and Gentlemen," Adama stared, "Captain Janeway..."

"Kathryn, Please, Mr. President."

"Then please call me Adama." The President of the Colonial Government to a breath and recited a speech that he'd been restating over and over for weeks now. "As I've told Picard I hate being referred to by that title. Each one of us in this room has been cut off, and isolated from those we serve ad those we love. I believe that God has joined us in this commonality for a purpose. We will be instrumental in this coming war and how well we work together may determine the fate of the Alpha quadrant. I have consented to Thomas working as my liaison onboard the Galactica."

Thomas' background history served to cause Adama to fear transporter technology even more. He truly felt sorry for this poor man. Which Riker was real? And what did that say about the soul? Fate had been cruel to him, but it could very easily swing in the opposite direction and secretly, that was his and Kathryn's plan. Let the man have his chance.

"I have requested that the USS Voyager under the command of Captain Janeway be temporarily assigned to the Mariposa system to help us in our rebuilding and re-arming projects."

Voyager was scheduled to become a museum piece before this new threat emerged. Now that the war was official this small, but tough little scientific-survey, Intrepid-class starship would be needed and had been reconditioned accordingly.

Janeway had found Thomas-searched him out actually-and convinced him to come with her to Deep Space Twenty-three in the Starship Voyager. For some reason, she wasn't sure why, she'd become a purveyor of damaged goods. She had Neelix, a small time hustler trying to obtain water, when she 'd first met him. Then there was Tom Paris the then parolee, now Chief Navigator and medic...and his wife. Belanna was fun in the good old days she grimaced. And of course, Seven of Nine, once Borg, now individual with an ex- marquis husband who was First Officer of Voyager.

"With our combined experiences with the Borg and Cylons I wish to begin mapping out a strategy to help protect this area of space, for our collective peoples. It appears that our mutual enemies will have to go thru our coalition before they can have access to the areas of space frequented by the Federation. I want the Galactica and the Pegasus to be the first lines of defense against the darkness threatening to engulf us all."

Half an hour later, Picard opened the wine and Adama his bottle of Ambrosia. Both bouquets filled the room with their unique flavors. Riker seemed content to be a part of the group, or at least he was trying to fit in. This was his chance to start over and he knew it. The Chakotays, still under the honeymoon influence, remained close to one another, ready for love, ready for adventure, fast becoming their own collective. Anika wasn't a part of Starfleet, but on Voyager that was a non-issue. As for Janeway, wine or ambrosia wasn't coffee but it would have to do. For a few moments as she looked at the newlyweds she reflected on things that could have been, if she had chosen another course. But now that trek was closed and like all the greats before her, she was moving on.

"Captain Janeway, I would have thought that you would have opted to teach at the academy instead of taking on another mission," Picard said as he continued to try to understand and anticipate this woman.

The ploy was subtle but Janeway recognized it instantly. The man was as subtle as a brick. She looked at him, smiling wispily. "We were gone for seven years and when I got my crew home safely, it took me three months before I began climbing the walls. I'm home but I'm ...infested with this need to get out and see what's going on. It's the explorer in me," she said laughing softly. "I never realized how much I would be affected by the journey. Besides, how could I refuse second level contact with our Beta quadrant cousins after I've had first contact with our Delta quadrant brethren? The scientist within is chomping at the bit."

"At what may I ask?" Picard was interested in her answer and maybe something more. For the life of him he thought that she and Dr. Crusher had that same aura of confidence. This made Kathryn...interesting to him.

Seven of Nine answered. "Are the origins of these Colonial humans related to the humans of Earth, of course."

"But, we are related," Commander Chakotay said. "Biologically, they're identical to us, minus minor gene variations and some genetic drift due to our people being separated. Topoisomerase two and three gene sequencing point conclusively to our two branch populations being the same."

"Maybe," Janeway responded rather cryptically. "But, it was something that Q said that makes me wonder..."

What was her relationship with Q, Picard wondered, that he would trust this woman to act as his son's Godmother?

Could he trust her?

Five Extreme-class Basestars, warped from the outer regions of the Katasi system. Their objective: the second of the Romulan home worlds. This was to be the first of the strikes aimed at the interior of the Romulan territories. The Supreme Imperium was pleased with these events. But problems with the Hellions sobered the Empires' mood.

"The Hellions have been too aggressive since they have become self-aware," the Imperium said to the assemblage of IL Lords. This would be the last time all of them would meet together. Seven thousand pairs of blood red eyes moved in synch, joined by their transceivers, to one purpose. "Let us hope that the restraints we have placed on them will be sufficient."

The Extremes were showing signs of being just as aggressive as their younger counterparts. This was good for battle but bad for maintaining discipline. Their computer cores had been 'muzzled' but that lowered their fighting ability also.

"I am confident that they will," Lucifer stated smoothly, seated at his place next to his leader. Next to him stood Spectre, clothed in scarlet. "Extermination of the Romulan home worlds has begun. The Federation will follow. All humans will cease to exist and the Ruination Imperatives will be fulfilled."

"It is decided. Romulans first, then all Federation targets of opportunity."

"The humans will rush to help the Romulans," Spectre said.

"We expect them to," the Supreme Imperium answered. "The weapon will be online by that time. And while they rush to help the Romulans, they'll see their planets burn."

"As we command."

Commander's continuing log, Apollo reporting: The Battlestar Galactica has a new mission now. We have a home now and our people are safer and happier than we've ever been in the last twenty-two yahrens. But we aren't safe yet. There's a war looming with an enemy far more dangerous than anything we've encountered previously. But there is also hope. We also have new, powerful friends. Correction, they're family and they've supported us with their words and their blood. Right now the Galactica is still venerable to the Cylon war machines, but every day we are becoming stronger and stronger. Very soon the Viper threes and Cobra upgrades will come online. The Adders are now undergoing refits on our planets surface with the first of them joining us within a sectar.

This is a tense time as our forces prepare for an enemy that will never sleep and never rest until the last human is destroyed. With others joining us, they will become targets also. But most of us agree that the war will not begin until the Romulan conflict is resolved. Whether we help them or not is now being debated. These Romulans have been very cool towards our overtures and my father suspects that they blame us for bringing the Cylons here. If that is true it bodes badly for our relations in the future, if any.

Not everyone has chosen to stay with so many choices available to them. Almost a forth have decided to emigrate to Earth. But the majority has decided to stay, preserving our culture, our way of life. Together we will stand and fight that which threatens to overcome us as the darkness comes once more. We will never allow the Cylons to force us to submit to our fears, our extermination. Never.

But for now our people are happy and our neighbors have accepted us with an enthusiasm that has frankly surprised us. Some of the younger members of the population have jumped at the chance to begin training in the service. They understand that the forces allied against us will destroy us all without a second thought. Our culture is our own, but already, I see the changes beginning. As I look at this new, next generation, it is my belief that they will become great warriors and together forge a new people, the likes of which we have never seen. If we survive, then in a few generations we will simply be just another part of this vast majority and all our trials, tribulations, and mistakes and will be a part of some history archive. For my family, and myself I find that that will be enough. We have fled from tyranny long enough. Now it is time to make our stand.

The Battlestar Galactica, two Klingon bird-of-preys and three Starships, continued their orbital sweep of the Mariposa system. Their fight would not begin yet and there would be much to prepare for. But the survivors of the great migration promised this: The Battlestars, twin protectors of the ragtag fleet would be the first vanguard in the line of fire against the enemies that they had brought with them. Their people had been harassed enough. God help them.

Q and his son, Q watched the protectorate fleet as it orbited some ten A.U.s outside the planetary system. Clearly, his son was troubled and he was as impatient as any of his people; even moreso, because he was a kid. Q looked at his son and said the one thing he knew would irritate his child more than anything else. "Be patient, son."

"I knew you would say that."

"Of course, you did," Q responded mildly. "By the way I was impressed your control. You did the correct thing with Aunty Kate."

"But why didn't she tell them?"
"Because humans like to carry things close to their chests, so to speak. Kate doesn't know Picard and Adama well enough to lay all her cards on the table, yet. And we know how stiff Picard can be but..."

"Aunty Kate is different. When the truth finally comes out it will be interesting how the three of them will have to work together."

"What about Iblis?"

"I can't touch him." But inwardly Q wanted to, in much the same way as Captain Sisko had touched him so many years ago back on that dreary Deep Space Nine. "His plan is ingenious, I must admit. He's a long term planner."

"They'll stop him," young Q said confidently.

His father gave his son that dubious look once more. "Not if the Cylons finds Baby before Janeway and the rest..."

"The Cylons are unaware of its existence so far. But when they do find out, then we can kiss all organic life in this galaxy goodbye; if they find it. It would really be a pity, actually. An inadequate species that prevails, in spite of their considerable limitations. Humans and some of the others have possibilities though, and," Q added, "I trust Janeway and Picard to prevail. They always do, despite the odds."

"I hope so."

Q looked at his son, rubbed his head and answered in a voice that made his son tremble. "So do I, son. Nothing is promised."


Authors note: This marks the end of 'Evolutions,' arc; a story I had no intentions whatsoever of making this long. But the more I wrote, the more there was to tell. One of the challenges in writing this story was first determining how I should go with it. The Cylons in all stories I have read are either robotic or cybernetic, depending with whom is of course writing the story. However with B.J. Henry's storyline, which are excellent stories that I highly recommend, I decided to go in an entirely different direction opposite from his perspective.

[By the way I have tried contacting him through the old e-mail from his original stories 'Deception' and 'Dark Dawn', but no such luck.] I choose the robotic variants in which the Battlestar series seemed to stress canon on. I made the Colonials older and far more stressed out. I also made the Cylons far more powerful otherwise they wouldn't have had a chance against the Federation- a Federation with far better weaponry since the Borg and Dominion conflicts. The void that Deanna senses is that which resonates from the darkness that is Iblis. His touch of essence, that blending of supra to the physical has caused this evolutionary change. And, with the initiation of the Ruination Protocols [now active] that which was him inside each and every Cylon program making them far more than even the T'kon technology could offer. Are they self-aware? Are they living sentients? I would say, yes and no. At this stage of their development, I like to call them un-living, existing right at the edge between the definition of true life and pseudo existence. Think about it: they comprehend their non-existent nature, but at the same time they acknowledge the realty of their awareness. Cybernetic insanity run amok.

To progress from here, 'Baby' will be required. Oh yes, the Borg wants Baby also. In January, I will start the next part of the arc, dealing with the war. That story will be called 'The Ruination Imperative'. I will try to approach this carefully. It's easy to write about war but very hard to represent the essence of its effect upon the people involved.

The Romulans will be involved in a life-death struggle with the Cylons and their pride and the repercussions change the face of this reality-timeline. Picard and Janeway? What a combo! What a mess! And just who is 'Baby'? Also this story will be written from a more Colonial perspective this time. By the way, Riker and Riker will NOT interact that much. I have special plans for Thomas.

Nobody mentioned the lack of Thigh's presence (hope I spelled his name right)!
That's part two also. Or maybe I'll do a very short story on him and the pleasure wars. Those Colonials had a real drug problem during a portion of the great migration...

LQ, love ya.

Louis Thanks a heap! Pam Grier as Pat Duvalier rocks as well as the others. Thanks again for allowing me to use them all. For those who have asked, the USS Khe Sahn is not a RPG ship... but it should be. You have to go through Mr. L. Miller for permission for that.

To the rest, I'll get back to you personally.