A/N: Set between "Pain" and "Subversion" from SGU, and during "The Passage" of BSG. I own nothing.
"A ship?" Adama asked.
"Scopes confirm it," Dualla nodded. "Doesn't look like anything in our records."
"Where is it going?" Helo stared at the display.
"One moment!" Gaeta was drawing a few lines on his work grid. "OK, I think it's on a trajectory for the inner system, probably one of the planets there. One of them is covered in water ice."
"So it's not headed for us," Helo said.
"Do we have confirmation that it's a ship, and not just a rogue asteroid?" Adama needed to know that this wasn't some false alarm.
Gaeta passed him a photo from one of the telescopes. It wasn't very high-resolution, but Adama could make out the shape – like an axe blade. Obviously not natural.
The ship was of neither Colonial nor Cylon origin. It was something Adama had never encountered before, or even planned for.
First, he had to protect the fleet.
"Lt. Gaeta, go to Condition One."
"Aye, sir." Adama didn't look, but he soon heard the lieutenant's voice on the intercom. "Action stations, action stations. Set Condition One throughout the ship."
"Dee, get me a line to Captain Thrace with the CAP."
Dualla frowned slightly. She pressed a few buttons, then handed Adama the phone.
"Yes, sir?" came Starbuck's voice.
"I want you to take your wing and cover the mining ships. Apollo and the rest of the Vipers are in the tubes, and will take over your position."
"Cover the mining ships. Starbuck out."
Adama put the phone down. He looked over at his XO.
"Ship reports Condition One."
Good. They were ready for action. But now, Adama was at a loss.
This was not the first time Adama had considered the possibility of contact with an alien civilization. It had crossed his mind when they found a ruined city on a habitable planet. That planet had turned out to be Kobol. But this could be something different entirely.
He knew that the Fleet had plans for almost every possible contingency. Some were well-known, such as the one involving an all-out Cylon attack that took out the planet-based facilities. This plan had wisely called for overall command to transfer to the highest-ranked officer in the fleet, as warships were not such easy targets. However, it had not considered the possibility of the Cylons having a computer virus that could cripple any ship.
There were other plans, some more fanciful than others. One dealt with a rogue Battlestar. Another had a coup attempt backed by the mainstream media – in other words, waging a war against an enemy with near-total control over the flow of information. Another considered the return of the Lords of Kobol (recommended response: nuke them). There was even a plan that envisioned a revolt led by the Junior Pyramid League. And there was one in case you encountered a truly alien intelligence.
After the debacle at Kobol, Adama had read that plan. He was already executing it, in fact. And now that he was prepared for an attack by hostile aliens, he went to stage two.
"Helo, get a Raptor over to the ship with Viper escort."
"So, the drive isn't fixed?" Young asked.
"I'm afraid so." Rush stared glumly at his console. "The bypass we set up has failed."
"How?" Wray spread her hands. "I thought Franklin used the computer to bypass the faulty module. We never actually finished the manual work."
"Yes. The problem, however, is that he did so by rerouting power through a secondary conduit." He manipulated the console, and a display appeared right in the middle of Wray's head.
"Sorry." She ducked out of the way. "So, this conduit wasn't designed to handle that kind of power?"
"Actually," Rush turned around, "it was designed to handle that kind of power. And had the failure occurred when the ship was relatively new, I imagine that it would have served perfectly. However, as the conduit has been in use since the last Ice Age, it failed under the strain."
"Is there any other way of fixing the drive?" Young asked. "Maybe if someone else sat in the chair…"
"We'd need to build a new conduit."
"OK. How long would that take?"
Young's eyes widened in surprise. "Years?"
"We would need to identify the raw materials needed, locate them somewhere in this galaxy, extract them, and build an industrial base with only seventy-four people."
Young took a moment to process this. One instinct was to have Rush get to work. But Young had to think long-term. They were stranded. They needed to survive.
First priority: know your area.
"So, where did Destiny pull over?"
Eli switched the display from the power schematic to a diagram of the star system they were in.
"A-type star. Smaller than our Sun, but not emitting any kind of deadly radiation. There are seven planets that we can see, plus an asteroid belt." A line appeared showing their projected course. "We're on an orbital insertion trajectory for the second planet. Lisa, you had a spectroscopic analysis?"
"Just coming up now…" Dr. Park's expression dropped, "…uh-oh."
"What is it?" Young walked over.
"Well, the good news is, the atmosphere is 38% oxygen, and I'm not detecting any toxins. It should be perfectly breathable. The bad news is that the planet itself is a snowball. Completely frozen over."
"No life?" Wray's look changed from trepidation to curiosity.
"Not on the surface. We'll have access to water, but we'll need to look elsewhere for food."
"There are six addresses currently in range," Rush said.
"OK. Eli, get the kinos ready. I'll have Scott assemble a team."
Eli didn't respond. He was staring at his console.
Eli looked up slowly.
"I think I'm picking up a radio signal. No, make that multiple radio signals."
"Radio signals?" Young knew that there were a number of natural phenomena that could give off radio signals.
"Can we hear them?" Wray asked.
Eli pressed a button. It sounded like static at first, but after a moment of listening, Young thought he could hear voices.
"Where are the signals coming from?" Young looked at Eli.
"Asteroid belt. Scanning… whoa." His eyes scanned the room, getting everyone's attention.
"Picking up over fifty contacts. It's a fleet… and we have incoming."
LT. SHARON "ATHENA" AGATHON
ON APPROACH TO UNKNOWN SHIP
"Athena to Galactica. ETA three minutes to target."
"Copy that, Athena."
Sharon tried to focus. It was hard. The hunger gnawing on her gut wasn't helping. Nor was the fear of the unknown.
The possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe had been considered by both human and Cylon philosophers. Those humans of a religious bent had pointed out that nothing in the Sacred Scrolls mentioned life beyond Kobol. Cylons tended to be more open to the possibility, but they wondered why there was no evidence of it.
Well, now there was.
"Galactica, I have arrived."
"Have they reacted to your presence yet?" President Roslin was on the other end.
"You are authorized to open communications."
Sharon drew in a deep breath, and spoke.
"Greetings. We are peaceful travelers from the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, and we mean you no harm. Please respond."
Sharon sent the speech.
The reply came back a moment later.
"This is Colonel Everett Young of the United States Air Force, commanding officer of the starship Destiny. A pleasure to meet you."