A/N: I apologize immensely for the delay. The thing is, a couple of months ago, my hard drive crashed with no warning, so I lost ALL my files. Including a half-written Chapter 6.
Now, I did have my outlines backed up to my brain, so it's not like I don't know what I was doing. The problem is that it's a lot harder to motivate yourself to rewrite something you've already written than it is to write something new. And school's taken up a lot of my time, and there's some other personal stuff that you don't need to know about, so I let this, and indeed most of my fanfic, just linger.
I do plan to finish this story, though. Not a week goes by that I don't get an e-mail telling me that someone has added this story to their story alerts. Hopefully, I will be able to devote some more time this summer to writing fanfiction.
Also, I encourage people to include speculation in their reviews. After all, how can I subvert reader expectations if I don't know what they are?
CYLON BASE STAR
"You IDIOT!" Six yelled at One, leaning forward over the console. "I knew you were obsessed with finishing off the humans, but could you at least have shown some restraint?"
"We couldn't let them escape," One replied.
"You're acting as if we'll never find them again," Eight rolled her eyes. "If we hadn't rushed in, we'd be in the same position we are now, only we wouldn't be down a Base Star."
"How were we supposed to know they had the support of an alien warship?" Five pointed out.
"When we found that portal on the planet," Two leaned over a console, "we should have taken time to study it, figure out what it meant, not rushed through to find their fleet. At the minimum, we should have sent a Raider to scout them, not jumped in with the Base Stars."
"This argument is pointless," Four cut in. "Attempting to assign blame will not help us find the humans, or determine the source of their aid. We must stand back, and analyze the situation rationally, so we may determine a course of action."
The others nodded in agreement.
"What do we know about the ship?" Two asked.
Eight brought up an image recorded during the battle. "Not much. It's of neither human nor Cylon design, and its technology is much further advanced. It's armed with some sort of energy weapon that rips through our armor plating, it's protected by an energy shield that our nukes can't even scratch, and it uses a different kind of FTL than we do." She showed a video clip of the ship leaving.
"Wonderful!" Six threw her hands in the air. "So it's invincible and unstoppable. What are we supposed to do next time we encounter it? Run away?"
"Not necessarily," Eight replied. "I double checked the combat footage. The ship did not undergo any sort of maneuvers during the battle. It did not attempt to evade our nukes or bring its primary weapon to bear on the other three Base Stars."
"Why?" One looked at Eight, confusion apparent on his face.
"Don't know. Maybe there's a problem with their sublight engines or navigation systems. The point is, so long as we avoid a narrow arc in front of the ship, and keep our Raiders clear of its turrets, we should be able to ignore it."
"There's also the possibility of negotiating with them," Five added. "After all, I doubt the humans have anything to offer them that we could not provide."
"We also need to learn more about them." Two took over the controls. "I think it's likely that whoever built that ship also built the portal devices and the temple."
"The symbols displayed on that control device match those in the temple," Eight confirmed. "Three is on the algae planet studying the temple, while Baltar is on the ice planet running experiments with the portal."
"Well, let's hope they find something," Six replied curtly.
Baltar was cold. The Raptor's heating systems were designed with the void of space in mind. However, the cold wind outside drew away heat even faster. And he could have sworn the Centurions deliberately picked the least appetizing food to salvage from New Caprica. He could kill for a scalebull steak right about now.
Despite all of this, he was happier than he'd been in years.
Gaius Baltar had been fascinated with the way things worked since early childhood. His love of discovery had naturally led him to a scientific career. But modern science was a lot less glamorous. Discovery came from poring over reams of data and carefully analyzing the results. He envied the early scientists, who could make fundamental discoveries with such simple experiments.
Now, he was getting to do science the fun way. He had no idea how this portal device worked. Actually, he had a fairly good idea by now, but there was still so much to discover.
He knew that he was amazingly lucky that he had figured out how to operate it so quickly. The control device was in another language – the same one used in the temple D'Anna was studying. Fortunately, it was also extremely user-friendly. Which actually made sense for an advanced civilization. Back on Caprica, there had been entire research firms trying to make things easier to use. Presumably, an advanced civilization would have made their devices incredibly intuitive. Of course, they might deliberately make them complicated, to prevent lesser peoples from using their technology, but surely they wouldn't do that for everything. What he had here was probably the retail version of a remote, like a handheld calculator.
He reviewed a list of facts he had learned. First, he was pretty sure that the portals worked by creating a stable wormhole between two portals. Colonial and Cylon FTL also used wormholes, though theirs were only open for a split-second. The travel time was 3.2 seconds, which matched that recorded by Colonial scientists. Also, it seemed that while energy (such as wireless signals) could pass both ways through a wormhole, matter could only go one way. He had dialed the warm planet and then ordered a Centurion on the other side to come through. The Centurion had not made it. Two more had been destroyed when he inadvertently discovered that the unstable vortex created when a wormhole opened would destroy anything that got caught in it.
Second, he knew that dialing another portal required entering seven symbols – six for the destination, and a seventh that identified the point-of-origin. There seemed to be a limit on how far a portal could take you. There were six addresses in range of the ice planet, one of which was the warm planet. He had sent Centurion scouts to the others, but refrained from establishing outposts, as they only had the one remote. Interestingly, all were on habitable planets.
Third, he had found that the devices deactivated if nothing was sent through them. A continuous radio signal could keep a wormhole open for up to 38 minutes. After that, the wormhole would close. His next experiment would be to see if he could keep a wormhole open for longer by sticking a piece of matter into it.
He entered the now-familiar combination of symbols. The portal rotated one way, then another, lighting up as each symbol reached the top. Only this time, upon reaching the seventh symbol, it simply turned off. A message came up in the alien language.
He wondered if he had mistakenly entered the wrong symbols. He reopened the list of addresses. Interestingly, there was now a seventh address. Only this one had nine symbols, without the point of origin. He tried dialing that address, but it failed as well. He dialed one of the other addresses. It worked.
So the problem was on their end. And what was with that seventh address?
He hit his wireless.
"Baltar to Base Star. We have a problem."
DESTINY, ORBITING THE ALGAE PLANET
Eli took a deep breath. He didn't know what lay on the other side of the open gate, but he had a pretty good idea that it included a bunch of Cylon soldiers.
He turned to Park. "They can't shoot at us through the gate, can they?"
"Matter can only pass one way through an open wormhole," she replied.
Given the likelihood of hostiles on the other side, Eli had opted to send two kinos. Volker held up his remote and nodded.
The two kinos sailed forward and through the gate. Eli's attention was focused on his remote. As expected, he was greeted by a hail of bullets. Video-game instincts took over, and he weaved and dodged.
"Crap!" Volker shouted. "Lost the kino."
Eli didn't even look up. He flew the kino to behind a rise, giving it cover from the Cylons. Knowing that they would probably go after it, he kept going for some distance, before finally hiding it in some brush.
"Got away." He smiled.
"Did you get a good look at their defenses?" Helo asked.
"I was more trying to dodge the incoming bullets…" Eli replied dryly, before raising a finger "…but we can check the footage."
Pretty much everyone gathered around the console as Eli accessed the kino memories. Sure enough, the kinos had recorded several frames clearly showing the Cylons camped around the gate.
"Twelve Centurions," Athena observed. "Possibly more elsewhere."
"Some might have gone off to find the kino," Brody suggested.
"No, once they lost it, they'd fall back on their position. Centurions are tough, but they're inefficient scouts. Very slow and noisy."
"James, what's the protocol for attacking through a defended gate?" Eli asked.
"Uh…" James' eyes moved around as she remembered back to her training.
"You don't," Greer deadpanned.
"Sorry?" Eli turned to him.
"A Stargate is the mother of all choke points. You do not send troops through if they're going to get shot at the minute they come through. You either clear the gate area or find another way."
Damn. This is what Eli had worried about.
"I'll venture that simply spraying the wormhole with bullets won't do anything," he remarked.
"How about the Raptor?" Brody suggested. "We could use it to get to the surface."
"It's unarmed," Helo shook his head. "And there's not a whole lot of room to fit a strike force."
"If we had support from the gate," James added, "we could do it, but there would be casualties."
"That temple could hold the key to finding Earth," Zarek pointed out. "I'd say it's worth it."
Eli didn't like it. It made logical sense, but the idea of sending people he knew and worked with to their deaths just turned his stomach. He needed another way.
"Claymores," Greer said simply.
The military geek in Eli woke up. Aside from being cool, claymores could also to a lot of damage.
"What's a claymore?" Helo asked, confusion evident on his face.
James disappeared, returning shortly with a small metal box on a wire stand. The front side read "Point Towards Enemy".
"It's an antipersonnel mine," James explained. "You set it on the ground, point it at the enemy, and it sprays them with shrapnel. Sort of like a large shotgun blast."
"We use two of them, even a Cylon will be torn to pieces," Greer added.
"And a team could deploy by Raptor and pick off any survivors," James finished.
Eli liked that idea. A two-pronged assault, by gate and by Raptor.
"How many of these things do we have?" he asked.
"Four. Though making new ones wouldn't be that difficult."
"OK, then!" Eli looked around the room. "Helo, James, assemble a team and get down to the planet. Greer, get those claymores placed. Everyone else, uh, get out of the gate room."