Captain Mark "Archangel" Hunter stood alone in the 10 bunk senior officer's quarters. The 6ft tall pilot stood packing his bag in his flight uniform. His shorn short hair and youthful features at first made people think he was not old enough to be CAG of the Battlestar Atlantia's Viper squadron the "Alphas". At 28 years of age he had a reputation that preceded him in the fleet. His talent for piloting vipers was spotted while he was still at Flight School. He had been hand picked by Admiral Negala to join the Atlantia's flight group.

Lieutenant Mal "Whirlwind" Thomas walked into the quarters and stood grinning behind his friend. He was the XO of the Alphas and had been looking forward to taking over while Archangel was on shore leave.

"Finally I was beginning to think that you weren't going to go!" Mal said smiling.

Archangel turned around and smiled at his friend.

"Well if the old man hadn't insisted I take it, I wouldn't be going." Archangel replied.

"Come on man if anyone deserves a break it's you. You haven't had a day off in nearly three years. You proved your point man and you got the job so please for me go and enjoy life a bit. The Atlantia will still be here in two months. Anyway gives me some time to show the old man what he would have had if he had chosen me for CAG." Mal said flashing one of his stupid grins.

Archangel picked up his bag and threw it over his shoulder and turned to face his friend.

"Whirlwind that's why the old man chose me, he already knew."

Archangel punched his friend in the arm as he walked past him towards the doors.

"Have a good break." Mal said.

"Thanks man, take care of the squadron."

Admiral Negala sat in his chair at his large oak desk. The wall behind where he sat was covered in pictures from down the years of him with his family and fellow officers. Archangel sat in the chair opposite the desk talking to his old friend.

"I take it you're heading home?" The Admiral said.

"Yeah back to Sagittaron. I have a place up in the mountains away from everything. I'm going to head back there for a month before I go see my family back on Caprica." Archangel relied.

"It'll do you good, you've hardly seen them in two years." Negala said.

"I saw them a few of months ago."

"Yeah for a day, when you made captain." Negala replied.

"I'm going to stay with my folks. I just need to go home first. They may live on Caprica now but I never really have. I know Sagittaron may not be the prettiest colony but its still home. They have the best mountains anyway."

"Well just relax and enjoy yourself. The Alphas and Shadows will be here when you get back."

Archangel stands up and holds his hand out to his friend. Negala shakes it before saluting his CAG who saluted first.

"See you soon." Archangel said.

The Atlantia's flight deck was alive with activity as always. The deck crew working on the Vipers and Raptors and pilots getting ready to launch and coming back in after successful runs. Archangel walked the line of Vipers till he reached his. The Deck Chief, Miles Evans had just finished fuelling his viper.

"Ships fuelled and ready to go captain." Miles said.

"Thanks Chief. Watch the birds while I'm away." Archangel replied.

"Will do sir."

Moment's later Archangel's viper was being loaded into a tube. He performed the usual flight checks before being launched into space. Archangel smiled. This was the best feeling in the world. He loved the openness of space. He turned his viper in the direction of Sagittaron.

"Atlantia, Archangel. See you soon guys."

Petty Officer Sarah Wills voice came back over his intercom.

"Archangel, Atlantia. Have a nice vacation safe journey." She replied over the COM.

"Thanks Sarah, see you soon." Archangel replied.

2 hours after launch Archangel flew towards the upper atmosphere. Archangel opened a channel to Sagittaron Flight Control.

"Sagittaron Flight Control this is Atlantia CAG Captain Mark Hunter requesting permission to enter Sagittaron atmosphere and land at Viper base at Washington."

Archangel waited for a reply.

"Captain Hunter you are cleared to enter Orbit and land at Washington. Enjoy your stay Archangel." The air traffic controller replied.

As he began to enter the atmosphere he thought about how come that Air Traffic Controller knew his call sign when they had most likely never met. He remembered what the Admiral had told him down the years that he had a reputation that was known throughout the fleet. A fact that his closest friends had always ribbed him for. Soon after he could see Sagittaron through the clouds. Shortly after he could see all the other air traffic below him. He had been born on Sagittaron. While the colony had had more than it's fair share of problems from itself and from the other colonies that at one stage exploited the colony it was a beautiful place that could be forgiven it's past. Mark had moved away with his family when he was 16 years old. He had always been a keen pilot his entire life and when he turned 18 he enlisted in flight school to be a fighter pilot. After graduating and joining the Atlantia's flight team he decided to buy a house in the mountains by his hometown of Freedom.

It didn't take long to reach the Viper base and touched down on the main landing strip. There was already a maintenance crew in place waiting for him and within moments of the canopy opening his helmet was off.

"Welcome back to Sagittaron Captain." One of the deck officers said to him.

"Thanks, it's good to be home." He replied.

He stood up and stepped down the ladder now in place on the side of his ship. Another member of the crew passed him his bag from the small cargo hold under the ship.

"Thanks." Archangel said as he took his bag.

It did feel good to be home. It was always nice to feel a real sense of gravity and to feel the sun. There were at least a hundred Vipers lining either side of the landing strip, it was always an impressive sight to see. He began walking to the main building so he could get to the transport bay.

The town of Freedom was three hundred miles away from the capital city. It was situated at the start of the largest range of mountains on the continent. It was home to over 5000 people and had been the place Archangel grew up. He now owned a house 5 miles away from the town. He stepped off the shuttle bus and looked at his hometown, it hadn't changed at all. Still in his Flight Suit he began the long walk up the main street that would take him towards his house. The mountain range dominated the skyline around three sides of the town. The sky was clear and the sun shone from behind the gentle covering of cloud. Freedom always seemed to have a nice breeze from the mountains at this time of year that made the heat very pleasant.

As Archangel reached the end of a long dirt road the trees that had dominated either side of the road thinned out and opened up to reveal a large house with an amazing view over the town. As he reached the front door he took his bag from his back and unzipped one of the front pockets and pulled out a set of keys, which he used to unlock the front door.

Archangel was immediately surprised to see the house was ready for him. All the dustcovers were off the furniture. He threw the bag onto the bottom of the stairs and walked through the long hallway which lead to the kitchen at the back of the house. Archangel unzipped his flight suit and pulled his arms out of the sleeves leaving them to dangle at his side. There was a note on the kitchen table with "Mark" handwritten on the front. He picked up the note and read it.

MARK

Hope your journey was safe and uneventful! We came up to the house for the weekend to get it ready for you. We knew you hadn't been home in nearly two years so we stocked the fridge and made the place liveable. Call us when you get the chance so we know you got home safe. Your brother and Laura send their best and are looking forward to seeing you when you come to Caprica next month.

Have a nice vacation.

Love

Mum and Dad

Typical mum and dad, Archangel thought. His mother always did things like this, not that he really minded. He would probably have only taken the dust covers off the things he needed anyway. As driven and motivated as the young pilot could be he could also be very lazy at times. He walked over to the fridge and opened it.

"Whoa!" he said to himself.

There was no room in the fridge left for anything else; meat, vegetables, drink, beer, sweets, and everything else a fridge needed. He reached inside and pulled out a beer, which he immediately began to drink. It was nice to be home. He hadn't been back in two years. His parents and brother had used the house every now and again.

With beer in hand Archangel walked through the adjoining door to the living room and sat down on the sofa as he reached for the phone. Moments after dialling the number his mother picked up on the other end.

"Hello?" she said.

"Hey it's Mark I just got in. Thanks for sorting the house out. How is everyone?" he asked.

Archangel could tell from his mothers voice how happy she was to talk to him.

"Everyone's fine. Your dads at work and your brothers at college. How was the journey from Atlantia?"

"It was fine thanks. Straight forward and uneventful."

"So did the Admiral have to escort you to your viper to make sure you went?" his mother asked.

Archangel smiled to himself. He knew that she knew the Admiral had been trying to get him to take some time off for a while. This time he had actually ganged up with Archangel's mother to make sure he took the time off.

"No he didn't. You know that it's not been because I haven't wanted to see you guys that I haven't been back."

"Mark we know that. At least you know that all your hard work has been worth it. After all you are the Atlantia's CAG."

"It has been worth it and you know what I actually am glad that I've taken this time off. I'm looking forward to relaxing for a while."

He looked out of the huge windows that faced him that looked out over the mountains and the valley where the town was and he was genuinely pleased to be home.

"Even though you do live on Caprica I'm looking forward to seeing you guys as well." Archangel added with a smile.

"Hey it's not that bad here. You should give it a chance."

"I know I'm only kidding. Caprica's not that bad, it's just not Sagittaron!" Archangel said.

"Anyway have fun. So we're meeting on Virgon in two weeks and then you're coming here for next month?" his mother said.

"Yeah."

"Okay well I'll let you go. Enjoy yourself, that's an order!" she joked.

"Yes Ma'am. Say hi to everyone for me."

"Will do. I love you."

"Love you too."

Now wearing civilian clothing Archangel walked down the main street of Freedom. He stopped outside a bar called Archer's and walked inside. Inside the bar was the same as any other. Tables, booths, pool tables, a jukebox and lots of people. Archangel walked through the crowd of people to the bar where he saw a group of familiar faces.

"So what's a guy got to do to get a drink around here?" Archangel asked.

The small group of five men all turned around upon hearing the familiar voice. None of them could believe their eyes, they hadn't seen their school friend for nearly three years. The man nearest Archangel was a giant, he had blonde hair and was wearing his scruffy work clothes. He was called Danny and had been one of Archangel's closest friends since they were eight years old.

"Archangel, what are you doing here?" Danny asked in amazement.

He threw his arms around his friend and gave him a hug.

"I thought I'd come and make sure you guys weren't causing any trouble." Archangel replied.

Danny was stood with four of Archangel's closest and oldest friends; Jim, David, Lee and Mike who everyone knew as Skeeter took it in turns to welcome their friend home.

"Archer look whose back, get us a round of beers." Skeeter said.

Archer was the owner of the bar, he had lived in Freedom for all his 47 years. He looked up from the beer he was pulling and stopped when he saw who was standing in his bar. Archangel was one of the town's success stories. Not many people moved away from Freedom and did much with their lives. He had known Archangel since they had first started drinking in his bar when they were younger and had always had a soft spot for the group of friends. He handed the pint to the bar maid next to him and walked towards the familiar face with his hand held out. Archangel shook it and smiled at his friend.

"Well I'll be damned. Good to see you Captain." Archer said.

He had a huge smile across his face as he spoke.

"Good to see you too." Archangel replied.

"When did you get back into town?" Archer asked.

"A few hours ago. I've taken a couple of months leave so I thought I'd catch up with everyone." Archangel said.

"You guys go get a table I'll bring your drinks over, they're on me." Archer said.

The five of Archangel's friends cheered before making their way through to the back of the bar to one of the only booth's left. The six men all sat down.

"So how's the Battlestar Atlantia treating you?" Lee asked.

"It's good. You know me I just love being in space." Archangel replied.

"So let me see if you've got this right, you're the CAG of the fleet's flagship?" David asked.

"That's right." Archangel replied

"Well it was what you always wanted." David said.

"It's the reason you guys haven't seen me in so long. I put in as many hours as I could, I really wanted that job." Archangel said.

"Well we always knew you'd do it." Danny added.

Danny patted his friend on the back as he spoke.

"So what's new in Freedom? What have I missed?" Archangel asked.

"You remember where you are yeah? The most boring place in the colonies!" Skeeter said.

"Come on something must have happened, it's been three years." Archangel said.

"Ignore him, he's still always moaning about this place but never does anything to get out of here!" Lee replied.

"Hey why should I? I have my own business, things are good." Skeeter said.

"So how's the garage going?" Archangel asked.

"Good man, we're the only garage in the damn town, everyone comes to me!" Skeeter replied.

"You still working there Danny?" Archangel asked.

"Sure am Arch, there's always stuff to do." Danny replied.

The other guys always looked after Danny. They had been friends since they were little kids. Danny had never been the brightest guy in the colonies, he struggled with a lot of work. His mother had always looked after him, but when she died a few years ago leaving him with no one, the guys made sure that he was always okay.

Moments later Archer came over with a tray of beers and passed them round.

"So how long you back for Captain?" Archer asked.

Archer had always called Archangel by his rank since he had become a pilot. Everyone else either called him Mark or Archangel.

"I'll be here for a month more or less, and then I'm heading back to Caprica to see my folks for a month."

"Come round tomorrow at lunch time, I'll sort you guys out with some food and we can catch up properly." Archer said.

"I'll look forward to it." Archangel replied.

"Anyway duty calls. You guys let me know when you need more drinks, they're all on me tonight." Archer said.

"That reminds me your dad brought your truck in when they were here at the weekend for a once over. Everything's cool and I took it back up to your garage." Skeeter said.

"Thanks man. I'm looking forward to going for a drive." Archangel replied.

For the next few hours the friends drank more and more alcohol and caught up. As the night wore on all five of them were rather drunk. Archangel felt good to be home, he had forgotten how much he missed his friends. Although they hadn't spent more than a few days together in the past three years it felt like it always did.

"Okay gentlemen I have a suggestion." Archangel said.

Archangel slurred his words as he spoke.

"I have four bottles of Ambrosia at home. I suggest that we finish our beers and then walk back to my house." Archangel added.

"I'm afraid gentlemen that I am going to have to head home. The only reason I'm not gonna be in trouble with the wife is cos you're here and she knows how long it's been since we were all together." Jim said

Jim pointed to Archangel and got to his feet. He swayed a little bit before composing himself. He shook the hand off all of his friends before speaking again.

"However, I do suggest that we do this again. Let's go up to the spot in the mountains where we used to get drunk when we were kids this weekend." Jim added.

The drunken rabble agreed and before long there was just Archangel, Skeeter and Danny sitting in the now empty bar. The place had shut nearly an hour previously but Archer had left the friends to catch up some more.

"So are you guys gonna wimp out on me as well, or are you gonna help me drink some of my Ambrosia?" Archangel asked.

Skeeter finished his beer and looked up at his friend with a grin on his face.

"One of the perks of being your own boss is that if you want to stay out late and get drunk, there's no one to tell you off in the morning. What do you say Danny, want to go to Mark's?" Skeeter said.

"Sure thing Skeeter." Danny replied.

After saying their goodbyes to Archer they made their way back. As the three friends staggered to Archangel's they carried on chatting.

"So you got to tell us, any hot women on the Atlantia?" Skeeter asked.

"I'm surprised it took you so long to ask. Yeah there are plenty of them and no I'm not with anyone. Can't really have a relationship with most of the crew as they're my subordinates and those that are ranked higher than me, well they're all male so that's out of the question. What about you guys?" Archangel said.

"You know me there's always a girl, just haven't found one that I want to become Mrs Skeeter yet." Skeeter laughed.

"What about you Danny, anyone you got your eye on?" Archangel asked.

Danny stayed quiet, he always got a little embarrassed whenever the topic of women came up even with his closest friends.

"Come on Danny tell him about Cara." Skeeter said.

"Who's Cara?" Archangel asked.

"She's just someone I met at the school when I was doing my night class." Danny replied.

"And?" Archangel asked.

"We've been out on a few dates, she's nice." Danny said.

"Good for you Danny, nice to see at least one of us is making the effort." Archangel replied.

Moments later the road widened out and they were in front of Archangel's house. As they got to the door Archangel fumbled about in his pocket for his door keys, then spent the next three minutes trying to drunkenly put the key into the lock. Archangel fumbled the light switch on as they all staggered inside. Suddenly Skeeter dashed across the hallway in the direction of the bathroom.

"Shotgun!" Skeeter yelled as he ran.

He slammed the door. Archangel and Danny walked down the hallway to the living room at the back of the house. Danny slumped down onto one of the large sofas as Archangel headed to the bar in the corner of the room.

"When you go back will it be so long till we see you again?" Danny asked.

"I don't know buddy. Depends on where they send the Atlantia. I have a lot of responsibilities now." Archangel replied. He saw Danny's face drop a little bit at the answer.

"I know Arch, it's just that I miss you, you know. I mean it's nice having the other guys around but it's not the same." Danny replied.

"I tell you what I promise I'll definitely be here for your birthday." Archangel said.

Danny's face lit up at that. Archangel sat next to him putting a bottle of Ambrosia and three glassed onto the glass coffee table in front of them.

"Tell you what, I'll have a word with Skeeter and see if he'll give you a few days off next month so you can come stay with me and the folks on Caprica how about that?" Archangel said.

"That would be nice."

"Want some Ambrosia?" Archangel asked.

Danny nodded his head.

"Yes please."

Archangel poured the drinks as Skeeter walked through and slumped on the sofa opposite them.

"Why is it one beer seems to equal three trips to the bathroom?" Skeeter asked.

"Because you're a lightweight." Archangel replied.

Danny laughed out loud.

"Hey I am not!" Skeeter exclaimed.

"You're as big a lightweight as you were when you were 15 and used to sneak up into the mountains." Archangel said.

Skeeter sat and thought for a minute.

"In fairness you're probably right." Skeeter said.

He took a glass of ambrosia and began to drink as he finished speaking. Archangel picked up his glass and held it up.

"Here's to old friends." Archangel said.

"Old friends." Danny and Skeeter both said together.

They clinked their glasses together and each took a sip.

"Here's to Captain Mark "Archangel" Hunter CAG of the Battlestar Atlantia." Skeeter said.

"CAPTAIN MARK HUNTER!" Danny yelled.

Archangel smiled to himself and began to drink more of his drink.

"Danny I think we should have the day off tomorrow, what do you think?" Skeeter asked.

"Yeah, can we?" Danny asked.

"What do you say Captain you up for an all nighter?" Skeeter asked.

"Why not. You guys are more than welcome to crash out here." Archangel replied.

…..

DAY 1

The Atlantia's flight group were sitting talking waiting for Lieutenant Mal "Whirlwind" Thomas. Moments later Mal walked in, all of them could see that something was not right with the lieutenant, they could see it on his face. He had no idea of how the Admiral was going to break the news.

"Quiet down guys." Mal said quietly.

He waited for a few moments before speaking.

"Sorry I'm late, I, er, just got out of a briefing with the Admiral, he's about to make a statement to the ship."

Lieutenant Julie "Static" Gillis was the quickest to ask the question everyone was thinking.

"What's up Whirlwind you look like you've seen a ghost?" Static asked.

Before he could reply the ships intercom system buzzed in.

"All hands this is the Admiral. It is my duty to inform you all that the colonies are under attack from Cylon forces."

The shock hit all the pilots at the same time, now Whirlwind could see on their faces what they had seen on his.

"The attack happened twenty minutes ago and we have received word that they achieved complete surprise wiping out Picon Fleet Headquarters in the first wave with a massive nuclear bombardment. Reports keep coming through and it seems that at least Caprica, Arilon and Sagittaron have been hit as well. I have taken command of the fleet and we will meet the rest of the fleet at Virgon where most of the Cylon fleet seems to be massing. We will strike back hard and we will make them pay for the damage they have caused. You're the best in the fleet, let's show these toasters what we're made of, Negala out."

As he finished speaking the ship went into condition one and sirens began to sound. The entire briefing room was silent, no one knew what to say. Mal took a deep breath and tried to compose himself. He wished Archangel was here to lead the charge, he hoped his friend was okay on Sagittaron.

Lieutenant Carlist "Breakneck" Ramos was the first person to be able to speak. "Has there been any news from Archangel."

"Not yet. He'll be okay." Whirlwind replied.

Mal took another deep breath and let all his fears and doubts out of his body with the breath.

"Okay people you all know the drill and we've all trained for this. We'll be leading the Viper attack. Keep your eyes peeled and stay with your wingman at all times. With a little help from the Gods we'll show these Cylons they should have never come back here. I want everyone to go and check your bird. We cannot afford for anything to go wrong check your ordinance and fuel, the deck crew are running systems checks already. We should be heading to Virgon within the next few hours. Good hunting."

Archangel awoke in his bed to find the mother of all hangovers had taken up residence in his head. He groaned as he rubbed his eyes. He looked over at the clock, which read 12.15pm he had had six hours sleep, better than usual he thought. He reached over to his bedside table where he had placed a tumbler of water and headache tablets the night before. He took two from the packet and drank them down with the whole tumbler. He lay there for a few moments as he stretched and tried to wake up. At least he was in the mountains, mountain air was the best cure for a hangover. He knew that before long Skeeter would be making one of his famous fry-ups, his personal top tip for a hangover so Archangel thought he should get some air before the house stank of bacon and eggs. He got out of bed, still wearing the trousers he had worn out the night before. He couldn't remember much but knew his two friends were passed out somewhere in the house. If he could get up and ready without waking them a jog to the lake would help clear his head. He reached his curtains which lead to the balcony overlooking the front view from the house. As he opened the curtains he stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes widened as he counted six nuclear mushroom clouds in the distance. He stood transfixed for the next few moments not sure if he should believe what he was seeing or not. They didn't go away. What the frak was going on, he thought. The only thing he could think was terrorists. Then he bolted for the door he ran downstairs as fast as he could straight into the kitchen. There was a locked door there, the only locked door in the house. There was a keypad hidden behind a panel in the wall. He tore it off and typed in a four digit pass code which opened the door to a set of stairs leading down to another locked door. As the door at the top of the stairs closed he typed in the next pass code unlocking the second door. Only one door could be opened at a time, a safety feature that held the basements contents as a secret. As the door opened the lights flickered on to reveal an arsenal of weapons down one side of the basement and supplies down the other. He grabbed a med kit and ran back upstairs to the house and into the living room where his two friends were passed out still on the sofas, they hadn't even made it to the spare beds.

"GET UP NOW!" Archangel yelled.

His two friends began to stir as he opened the med kit and took out three doses of anti radiation meds.

"GET UP NOW!" he repeated.

"Man don't shout my head is killing me." Skeeter said as he rubbed his eyes.

"I'm only going to say this to you both once more, GET UP NOW!" Archangel yelled.

"Gods man what bug got up your ass." Skeeter said

"Take a look out of the window. Danny get up." Archangel replied.

As Skeeter's eyes adjusted to being awake the fear of what he saw out of the window took over. He stood up and walked to the window.

"Arch what's up, why are you shouting?" Danny asked.

He saw Archangel push the needle full of anti radiation meds into his neck.

"Arch what's wrong? What have you just taken?"

Archangel picked up one of the other needles.

"Danny you have to take this medication." Archangel said.

"Why I'm not sick?" Danny said.

"Danny take a look out of the window." Skeeter said.

Skeeter took the other needle from the table and injected it into his own neck. Danny saw the mushroom clouds but had no idea of just how bad the situation was.

"What's going on? Arch you know I'm scared of injections." Danny said.

Archangel looked at his friend.

"Danny those are nuclear detonations. We're under attack." Archangel replied.

"From who?" Danny asked.

"I don't know but if you don't take this you will die." Archangel replied.

"Arch you're scaring me." Danny said.

Archangel grabbed his friend by either side of his head.

"Do you trust me?"

"Of course." Danny replied.

"Then you have to take this medication."

"Ok but you do it."

Tears rolled down Danny's face as Archangel gave him the meds.

"Skeeter put the TV on see if there's any news on what's going on." Archangel said.

"Ok" Skeeter replied.

As Skeeter went to turn the TV on Archangel picked up his phone, the line was dead.

"Frak." Archangel exclaimed.

He ran back to the kitchen and back into the basement. He picked up a colonial emergency radio and went back up stairs. As he reached the living room Skeeter and Danny were both watching a news broadcast.

"Anything?" Archangel asked.

"Man this is fraked up." Skeeter said

"What is it?" Archangel replied.

He sat down next to his friend and began to turn the radio on.

"From what I can make out it's the fraking Cylons and they're doing this all over the colonies." Skeeter told him unable to take his gaze away from the television.

"The Cylons?"

"Yeah." Skeeter replied.

As the radio powered up Archangel typed in the code for Viper Fleet Headquarters but the line was dead.

"Frak!" Archangel exclaimed again

"What's wrong is your radio not working?" Danny asked.

"It's working but I'm getting no line to Viper Headquarters. They're either being jammed or…"

"Or?" Skeeter asked

"Or they've been destroyed." Archangel replied.

He then dialled in the code for Picon Fleet Headquarters and hoped that there was a satellite up there that was working. As the signal connected he was diverted somewhere else.

"This is the Colonial Flight Academy please verify your access codes." A female voice said.

"7467-4512-7 Hunter." Archangel replied.

"Code verified Captain, what's your status?" she asked.

"I'm on Sagittaron and I'm alive. What the hell has been going on?"

"The colonies are under a massive attack from the Cylons sir. They came from nowhere and took complete surprise."

"Why was I diverted to you? I tried Viper Command and Fleet Headquarters." Archangel asked.

"They were both destroyed in the initial attack sir, from what we can tell we're the only ones left."

"What I need from you is a line to the Battlestar Atlantia, can you do that for me?" he asked.

"Hold on sir I'll try."

The line went quiet.

The Atlantia's CIC was huge. Filled with the most up to date technology available. Admiral Negala stood on deck quietly praying to the gods. His XO Colonel Phillip Black stood next to him.

"Admiral the Triton has just arrived." Black said.

"Good, a few more ships and we'll be ready to go. What's the ETA on the rest of the fleet?" Negala replied.

Captain Maria Noble, the ships comm. Officer replied. "Sir they will be here in 30 minutes. The Galactica however will be longer. They were in the middle of their decommissioning ceremony and have no ordinance, they're trying to locate some before they join the attack."

Negala was pleased to hear that, having Bill Adama by his side made him feel more at ease, the two had been friends for a long time.

"Admiral I have someone on the line from the Colonial Flight Academy, they say they have Archangel on the line and he is requesting to speak with you." Petty Officer Anderson said.

"Put it down here." Negala replied

Admiral Negala picked up the handset in front of him.

"Archangel?" he asked.

"Good to hear your voice Admiral." Archangel replied.

Admiral Negala seemed to be a little relieved to hear his CAG's voice.

"Are you okay?" Negala asked.

"Yeah, I can count 6 nuclear detonations over the planet. What the frak is going on?"

"They came out of nowhere. No warning, nothing. This is happening everywhere. We're about to engage their fleet." Negala replied.

Danny and Skeeter are glued to the TV set as more news pours in about the attack.

"I tried to contact Viper Command and Fleet Headquarters but I was put through to the flight academy. I was going to try and get to my ship and get to you."

"Viper Command and Fleet Headquarters were wiped out in the initial attack. We have taken massive casualties."

"They're only going to get worse with the fall out. What are my orders sir?" Archangel asked.

"Stay alive Captain. If you can get to a ship try and get off planet. If you don't pick us up on dradis head for Caprica, we'll get to you as soon as we've finished with the Cylons."

"Good hunting sir." Archangel said, he knew this could be the last time he ever spoke to his C/O.

"You too Archangel." He replied

Archangel puts the receiver down and lets out a huge sigh. He sat blankly staring into space for a few moments, trying to collect his thoughts and come up with a plan of action.

"You okay?" Skeeter asked.

"Suddenly my hangover is the least of my worries." Archangel replied.

"What are we going to do?" Skeeter asked.

Both Danny and Skeeter looked to their friend. He could see the fear in both their eyes.

"We go into town and find the others." Archangel replied.

"What about the Cylons?" Danny asked.

"We'll worry about that if and when we see any. Now we have to find the others and get them some anti radiation meds before it's too late. Then we find a ship and get the hell out of here." Archangel said.

"I don't mean to be a party pooper but go where? This is happening everywhere." Skeeter said.

"We jump to Caprica, I have to know if my parents are alive. Then we find the Atlantia and take it from there." Archangel replied.

"Do you wish you were there?" Skeeter asked.

"Yes and no." Archangel replied.

Archangel stood up.

"I need you guys to follow me." Archangel said.

Danny and Skeeter followed Archangel into the kitchen and then down into the basement.

"Where are we going?" Danny asked.

As the second door opened Archangel's two friends stood in stunned silence as they saw the weaponry and supplies he had.

"Mark, were you expecting this or something? Does everyone in the fleet have a room like this?" Skeeter asked.

Archangel turned to face his two friends as he picked up a t-shirt to put on.

"What I'm about to tell you is top secret. Whoever we meet you cannot repeat what I am about to say." Archangel said.

"You can trust us man." Skeeter replied.

Archangel took a deep breath before revealing his most closely guarded secret.

"I'm not just a Viper pilot."

"What do you mean?" Danny asked.

"I'm a member of the Colonial Fleet Black Ops unit. The Atlantia is our base of operations."

"Are you serious?" Skeeter asked, of all the answers he could have heard he hadn't expected this one.

"Deadly." Archangel replied.

"Is everyone on Atlantia Black Ops?" Skeeter asked.

"No, not everyone."

He picked up two holstered handguns with armour piercing attachments and held them out to his two friends.

"I want you to take these." Archangel said.

Skeeter took one of them and began putting the holster on. Danny just stood in amazement.

"Arch I don't know how to fight Cylons." Danny said.

"It's for protection and I want you to take it. There is a good chance we're going to need to protect ourselves from humans as well. People are going to be frantic and won't hesitate to take peoples supplies. I need to know you're both armed and have got my back." Archangel said.

Danny reached out and took the weapon.

"You guys know how to use those?" Archangel asked.

"Yeah we go for target practice every now and then." Skeeter replied

"Here's the deal. If you see a cylon shoot. Aim for the head. When it comes to people don't shoot unless I tell you okay." Archangel said.

Both of his friends nodded their heads. Archangel picked up a large box of anti radiation meds.

"Danny I want you to take these."

"No problem you can count on me." Danny replied.

Archangel strapped two side arms to his legs.

"We stay together at all times." Archangel said.

He handed them a radio each.

"If for any reason we get separated call me immediately."

The garage at the side of the house slid open and Archangel's jeep screamed out with the three friends inside. They looked at the nuclear clouds on the horizon, more kept appearing.

"For what it's worth, I'm sure glad you came back yesterday. We'd be dead otherwise." Skeeter said.

"We'll be okay, I'll get us off planet. It may take a while but I'll get us away."

On the CIC of Atlantia Colonel Black walked over to his CO.

"Sir everyone is here, we're ready." The XO said.

"Petty Officer Anderson, put me through to the entire fleet." Negala said.

"Yes sir, channel open." She replied.

The Admiral picked up the handset and spoke to his Battlestar and the 40 others that had joined him ready for battle.

"This is the Admiral we are ready to begin our counter assault. I have faith that we can do this. For all the people who have died and all the people who are still alive, lets make these cylon bastards pay for what they have done. Good hunting everyone."

The Admiral turned his attention to Captain Noble.

"The board is green sir. All gun turrets are manned and the vipers are in the tubes." Noble said.

"Very well, jump."

As Captain Noble put the jump key into the lock she began to count.

"All ships jump on my mark. 5-4-3-2-1 mark." Noble said.

All 40 Battlestars jumped in a bright flash of light. Moments later they re-appeared near Virgon. 50 Cylon Basestars sat waiting.

"Launch Vipers." Negala ordered.

Whirlwind sat in his Viper ready to go, the pre-flight checks were done and moments later he along with the other vipers were launched into space. The Vipers from all 40 Battlestars began to take up their positions, thousands of vipers flew towards the thousands of cylon raiders that had been launched.

"All vipers this is Whirlwind, lets make these bastards pay, weapons free and open racks."

As the Raiders got closer the Lieutenant wished Archangel was here with him, at least he was alive, knowing him, looking for as many Cylons to destroy as possible. Whirlwind could see that the raiders were emitting red lights, just like the old Cylons used to. Then the unthinkable happened, every system in his ship shut down.

"Oh frak me." Whirlwind said.

He urgently tried to reboot his ship but nothing was working and the Cylons were almost upon them.

"Kriptar, kriptar my ship has shut down, repeat my ship has shut down." Whirlwind said starting to panic slightly.

As he looked out of his cockpit he noticed that he wasn't the only one, every viper he could see was floating dead in space.

"Admiral I've lost all contact with the Vipers." Anderson said.

"What?" Negala replied.

As he finished speaking the CIC was plunged into darkness, gravity went off line and people began floating away from their stations.

"What the hell is going on?" Negala shouted.

"I have no idea sir, we've lost all ships systems." Noble replied

Whirlwind sat in silence, he knew this was the end. As the cylon raiders all launched missiles the base stars launched their own, enough to wipe out every single stranded Battlestar. He closed his eyes and let out a deep breath as a missile honed in on him. Then it was all over.

As Archangel turned into the main street it was deserted, just as the rest of the town had been.

"Where the hell is everyone?" Skeeter said.

"The attack began hours ago. They must have all skipped town as soon as it happened and we were still asleep." Archangel replied.

They had already been to the homes of Jim, David and Lee but there was no sign of them. They were heading to Archer's to see if he was still about. Archangel pulled up outside the bar and got out of the jeep, followed by the other.

"This is the most bizarre thing I've ever seen." Skeeter said.

Archangel walked to the front door of the bar but it was locked.

"Come on we'll try round back." Archangel said.

They jumped the fence at the back of the building that lead to the courtyard. Archer's car was still there. Archangel tried the backdoor and to his surprise it was unlocked. He carefully opened the door and walked inside. The back corridor lead through to a store room which in turn lead to the kitchen.

"Archer you here?" Archangel shouted.

There was no reply. As they walked into the bar there was still no sign of life.

"There's no one here man. Everyone must have run as soon as it started." Skeeter said.

"They won't get far." Archangel replied.

"What do you mean? Why?" Danny asked.

"We're 300 miles away from the nearest spaceport. That's where most people will have gone. The people who didn't die from the blasts will die from radiation sickness. If the fleet looses as soon as they've finished with the bombardment they'll send troops down to clear up any survivors."

"Not to put a downer on things but then how are we going to get to one?" Skeeter asked.

"There are several off the map airstrips around. We get to one find a Raptor and get the hell out of here." Archangel replied.

"And the Cylons?" Skeeter asked.

"We destroy every last one we come across. Guys I've had training for this situation, we'll make it."

"If everyone has gone what do we do now?" Danny asked.

"We fill the jeep with what supplies are left in town, then we make our move. Danny go into the storeroom and find a couple of boxes. Fill one with as much bottled water as you can find. The other with whatever packaged food you can find." Archangel replied.

"No problem Archangel." Danny said with purpose.

As Danny walked out towards the back of the bar Archangel turned to Skeeter.

"We need to check upstairs." Archangel said.

They walked to the back of the room to the door that led upstairs. As they reached the top of the stairs Archangel drew one of his handguns and kept it at his side.

"Go check the living room and the kitchen." Archangel said.

"No problem." Skeeter replied.

As Skeeter walked off down the hall and disappeared into the living room Archangel walked into the bedroom. As soon as he got inside he stopped dead in his tracks. He saw Archer's body sat upright on his bed, a photo album open across his lap, a revolver in his hand. Blood covered the wall and headboard behind him. He had taken his own life, this was the last thing Archangel had expected. He put his gun back in its holster and walked over to his friend. He looked at the open pages of the album and immediately he understood why Archer had done it. On the pages were two pictures of Archer and his wife on their wedding day. Six years ago he had lost her in a shuttle accident. Archer, being Archer had carried on as usual but those closest to him knew how much it had affected him. Archangel knew that Archer would have taken one look at the nuclear clouds and decided it was time to be with his wife again. Archangel moved one of the bedcovers to cover up his friend as Skeeter walked in.

"Oh man what happened?" Skeeter asked.

Archangel wiped tears from his eyes before he replied.

"He decided it was time to be with Anne again."

Archangel took the photograph of Archer and Anne from the open page and placed it on his covered friend. He picked up the photo album.

"Come on lets go." Archangel said.

The two friends silently walked back downstairs to the bar as Danny walked through from the back with a box full of supplies.

"You guys been upstairs? Did you find Archer?" he asked.

Archangel and Skeeter looked at each other before either of them spoke.

"He left a note for us. He headed for the space port, he's probably off world already." Skeeter lied.

"Come on let's go." Archangel said.

As Archangel walked out onto the street he took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Everyone on the planet was going to die, everyone in the Colonies was going to die. The Cylons would kill those who didn't die from the radiation when they landed troops. He looked at his two friends and wondered if it was worth even trying to get off planet. Part of him wanted to put his own gun to his head right now, and then he remembered what Admiral Negala had said to him, "stay alive". He decided then and there what he would do, stay alive.

"Can we drop by my shop? I have some things I want to pick up." Skeeter asked.

"Sure lets go, we'll stop off at the market on the way back, see if there are any supplies left." Archangel replied.

As the three of them got back into Archangel's truck another two nuclear explosions went off in the distance. No one said a word as the two mushroom clouds ballooned in the distance. Archangel started the ignition and sped off down the street. They drove in silence for the next few minutes but Archangel's mind was working overtime. The nuclear detonations had been continuous all day and would probably carry on till nightfall. If the Cylons had destroyed the Colonial Fleet which he assumed they had due the continuing nuclear explosions they would eliminate their most immediate threat before landing troops, wipe out the remaining military vessels. The cities would be the first targets for the troops, which gave them a little more time as they were essentially in the middle of nowhere.

Minutes later they arrived outside Skeeter's garage. All three of them got out.

"Need a hand with anything?" Archangel asked.

"There should be eight cans of gas in the workshop, put four in the back of your truck and leave four outside, I'll be right back. Danny if you want to get any of your things get them now I doubt we'll be coming back." Skeeter said.

Skeeter went inside the garage while Danny went upstairs to his apartment. Skeeter had let him live in the apartment above the garage free of rent since his mother died. Archangel walked into the shop area, unsurprisingly it was a mess and it brought a smile to his face. He saw the eight cans and picked up two and took them and put them in the back of his truck.

As he stacked the last two cans outside he heard the roar of another automobile engine, he reacted immediately drawing both his side arms. He put them away as he saw Skeeter drive around in his truck, he smiled as he got out.

"Thought we could use another truck, just in case." Skeeter said.

"We need to get moving, I want everything packed and ready to move before it gets dark. I want to get to the market, see if there is any bottled water left. We have enough to last a while but you can never have too much."

"Agreed, I need some smokes as well." Skeeter said.

Danny appeared moments later with a crammed backpack. They put the rest of the gas into the back of Skeeter's truck and then were on their way again. Archangel led the way with Skeeter and Danny following to the town's largest food market. As Skeeter's garage and market were on Freedom's main street, it didn't take long for them to get there. They both parked right out side the main entrance. Archangel drew one of his guns as they walked to the door. Skeeter held a shotgun in his hand.

"Never leave home without it!" Skeeter said.

Skeeter pumped the weapon as he spoke with a grin across his face.

"Danny grab the trolley." Archangel said

Archangel and Skeeter were on alert as they walked into the unlit market. As Archangel expected people had already been there on there was out of town. There was carnage everywhere. In the whole store they managed to find four bottles of water.

"I want to pick up a few bits." Skeeter said.

He pointed to the cigarettes and made his way over followed by Danny with the trolley. Happy there was no one ready to surprise them Archangel holstered his weapon and picked up a pack of candy bars on the rack next to him and opened one and began to eat it, to hell with it, he thought and grabbed a couple more packs. He walked over to the others and threw the candy into the trolley, which was now full of cigarettes, Skeeter was going behind the counter to get more. He stopped dead in his tracks.

"Oh frak me." He said.

Archangel and Danny walked over to him. They saw the shop owner who they had known since they were kids lying in a pool of his own blood. It looked to Archangel as if he had been beaten to death. Danny turned and threw up as Archangel checked for a pulse.

"Come on lets go, we've got what we came for." Archangel said.

Archangel sat in his truck deep in thought, it amazed him to think that someone in the town, who probably went to the store everyday, who they more than likely knew had beaten the shop owner to death. As they turned onto the dirt track that led to his home he was hit with a huge twinge of sadness knowing that this was likely to be the last time he would ever drive home. He had bought the house years ago and although he'd never really lived there it had always been home, it had meant to be the place he would retire too. As the road began to widen out again to reveal the hidden house alarm bells began to sound in his mind as he saw the front door was open when he knew he'd shut it. He stopped the truck and got out, as he did he drew one of his guns.

"What the hell is going on?" Skeeter said.

Skeeter and Danny had both noticed Archangel draw one of his guns. He stopped his truck next to Archangel's and they both got out. As Skeeter opened his mouth to speak Archangel held his finger to his mouth telling them to be quiet. They walked over to him, Skeeter with his shotgun ready.

"I didn't leave the front door open. I'm going inside to see if there's anyone there. Stay out here." Archangel whispered.

"What do you want us to do?" Skeeter replied quietly.

"If you hear shooting, come find me, but stay quiet." Archangel said.

They both nodded. As Danny drew his gun from its holster he looked at Skeeter who could see the worry on his face.

Archangel silently walked into his house with a handgun raised in front of him, both hands firmly on the grip. As he slowly and silently walked through the hallway he could hear movement coming from the kitchen at the back of the house. His Black Op's training had kicked in the moment he had walked through the door. His mind clear of thought, ready, listening for and too every sound. As he reached the doorway to the kitchen his weapon was by his side and his back against the wall so no one would be able to see him. A woman sat on one of his kitchen chairs with her back to him. Her blonde hair tied back away from her face which he couldn't as yet see. She was wearing a vest top and shorts and seemed to be looking at her right ankle. An open Med Pack sat on the table next to her. Without making a sound he moved from the doorway across the kitchen to where the woman was sitting, as he reached her he pressed the muzzle of his gun into the back of her head.

"Who are you and what are you doing in my house?" Archangel said.

She froze, not expecting to hear someone from behind her, never mind feel what she assumed was a gun pressed into the back of her head.

"Please, please don't shoot me. I, I, I thought whoever lived here must have gone, the front door was unlocked. I was hiking in the mountains. When I saw the explosions I tried to get back to the town, I fell and cut up my ankle, I saw your house and knew I needed to see to it. My name is Grace, please don't shoot me." She said.

Archangel lowered his gun and put it back in its holster. He moved around the table and saw Grace for the first time. She was strikingly beautiful and for a second or two he didn't know what to say.

"I'm sorry things have been a little nuts today. My name is Archangel." He said.

"Archangel?" she replied.

"Sorry, Mark. Archangel is my call sign, let me see your ankle."

She moved a bandage away and he saw a cut on her ankle which looked clean. The cut looked much worse than it actually was.

"Are you in the military?" Grace asked.

Archangel nodded his head as he dressed the wound.

"Yeah I'm a Viper Pilot. Your ankle isn't as bad as it looks. Have you had any anti-radiation meds?" he asked.

Grace shook her head. "No I was going to walk into town and find a hospital."

"I have some here that you can have."

He reached into one of his pocket in his trousers and handed her one of the spare tins he had. She opened it up and took out the needle and looked at Archangel.

"We have to take it everyday till we get off the planet. I'll be right back."

Skeeter and Danny looked at each other, they hadn't spoken a word since Archangel went inside. Danny looked at the gun in his hand and then looked up at his friend.

"Should we go see if he's okay?" Danny whispered.

As Skeeter opened his mouth to speak, Archangel appeared in the doorway.

"It's okay." He said.

They both followed Archangel to the kitchen where they saw Grace injecting the anti-rad meds into her arm.

"Skeeter and Danny this is Grace." Archangel said.

By nightfall both trucks were packed and ready for the journey ahead. Archangel and the others sat in the living room. Archangel had insisted only candlelight, as it was less likely to be seen from the mountains or the town. Rain was driving down outside, nuclear bomb blasts were still going off in the distance but a few had been getting closer but the mountains protected them. The blasts were also a lot less frequent. There was a map of the country on the table.

"As much as we can we're going to stay away from the cities. There is no way we'll be able to avoid the Cylons the whole time so we're all going to have to be armed." Archangel said.

"Where exactly are we going?" Grace asked.

Archangel circled three areas on the map that did not appear to be of any significance.

"These are three off the map airstrips. We need to find a Raptor and make a jump to Caprica. As it's the capital planet there is more chance of being found by a rescue party. We'll check all the other air strips but these three are our best chances." Archangel replied.

"Man they're a long way from here." Skeeter said.

"I know but we have to get off this planet. Within a few days there are going to be Cylons everywhere, we need to get as far as we can as quickly as we can. We're going to come into contact with Cylon forces, I'm trying to minimize the amount of fighting that we're going to have to do." Archangel replied.

Skeeter, Danny and Grace looked at each other. Archangel knew what they were thinking without them even having to speak.

"Are you sure we can do this?" Grace asked.

"We have to. Anyway I for one am going to take this opportunity to get a good nights sleep. I suggest you all do the same, who knows when we'll get to sleep in a bed again. Goodnight guys." Archangel said.

Archangel got up and walked through to the kitchen. He stopped at the kitchen table, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Skeeter walked in behind him.

"You okay?" Skeeter asked.

Archangel took another deep breath and turned to face his friend.

"As okay as I can be." He replied.

He looked through to the living room and saw Grace and Danny talking.

"When it comes to it I don't think he'll be able to pull the trigger."

"What makes you say that?" Skeeter replied.

"I know. I can tell, the first time at least he's going to freeze. I hate to do this to you but I need to know that you will."

"I will." Skeeter replied.

"Like I said earlier it might not always be Cylons."

"Mark, no matter what happens I've got your back. Don't worry I will pull the trigger."

Archangel sat on the couch in his bedroom staring out into the night sky. He had one of his handguns on his lap, a bottle of beer in his hand and a couple more full ones on the floor. A quiet knock on his door made him turn around. Grace stood there.

"May I come in?" she asked.

"Sure." He replied

Grace walked into the room and sat down next to him.

"Beer?"

"Please."

Archangel put his gun on the floor and picked up a bottle and passed it to her.

"Have the explosions finished?" Grace asked.

"Yeah about an hour ago. I've seen quite a number of ships flying around, I don't think they're Colonial."

"Near here?"

"No not yet, they're mostly over Capital City as far as I can tell. They'll be starting to land troops."

They sat in silence for a few moments as they drank their drinks.

"How come you're here? If you're a Viper pilot I mean."

"I'm on vacation, which I suppose is permanent now."

"Would you rather be up there, in the fight?"

"Part of me wishes I had been. If I had though Skeeter and Danny would probably have died."

"Maybe they'd have been able to get to a space port. Do you think the people that left the town will have made it?"

Archangel took another sip from his drink.

"It won't have done them any good if they did."

"Why not?"

"We're hundreds of mile away from the nearest port. Those that made it by the time they got there a ban will have been put in place on all space travel. Most of the people who survived will either die of radiation poisoning or by the hands of the Cylons. Within I'd say a week anyone who survived will either be dying or fighting for their lives." Archangel said.

"Well I'm glad I found you, makes me feel a lot better about my chances of survival."

Archangel smiled.

"I'll get you off this rock."

"I'd appreciate that." She replied with a smile.

"So where are you from anyway?" he asked.

"Leonis."

"You're a long way from home."

"I come here once a year for the mountains. Sagittaron has the best mountain ranges in all of the Colonies."

"I've said the same thing to people. So what do you do on Leonis?"

"I'm a dentist."

"Ah someone useful, that's what I like to hear!"

Grace laughed and took another sip from her drink.

"Is your family on Leonis?"

"No, my parents died when I was a child. I never knew my grand patents they were dead before I was even born. I've dedicated my adult life to my career, it's just me. Where's your family?"

"Caprica. They lived here till I was 15. I never thought of Caprica as home. When I got into the Colonial Fleet I bought this place. This was my first vacation in three years. I've put my life on hold for most of my adult life and it turns out it was for nothing."

"Where were you based?"

"The Battlestar Atlantia, the fleet's flag ship."

"Do you think they're still in the fight?"

"I have no idea, I hope so. I'm assuming that we've lost anyway."

"Can I ask you, what do you intend to do when we get to Caprica?"

"There are a couple of places I want to go. I'll try and get a dradis sweep as we jump into Caprica's atmosphere, see if I can locate any Battlestars."

"And if you can't?" she replied.

"After I've been where I want to go we'll get something with a bigger FTL drive and see where it takes us."

"But if you don't find any Battlestars where are we going to go?"

"I don't know but I'm not staying on any of the Colonies to die of radiation sickness or at the hands of the Cylons."

….

DAY 2

Skeeter sat by himself in the living room smoking a cigarette. On the table in front of him is a half finished cup of coffee and an ashtray full of cigarette butts. The rain was still pouring down outside. He'd been awake for a couple of hours. He's tried to see if there were any television channels still broadcasting but all he had got was snow on every channel, so instead he'd been watching the tiny dots on the horizon that he assumed were Cylon vessels. He was amazed at how confident he was feeling. To all extents and purposes it was the end of the world, billions of people had died and were dying, but he felt confident they would live. Archangel had a way of always making you feel confident, despite the odds. As he put his cigarette out Archangel walked in.

"Morning, sleep well?" Skeeter asked.

"Well I slept, what about you?" Archangel replied.

Archangel poured himself a cup of coffee from the pot Skeeter had made and sat down.

"I caught a few hours. I've been watching all the ships on the horizon." Skeeter said.

"Any overhead?"

"No and so far I haven't been able to identify any of them, I'm assuming they're all cylon."

"Good the longer we have without any ships overhead, the easier time we'll have."

"How much longer are we going to let them sleep?"

Archangel checked his watch, which read 7.15am

"We'll give them till 8am, be on the road by 8.30, 9am at the latest."

Some time later all four of them were making their final preparations to leave. Archangel picked up a gun and holster and held it out for Grace to take.

"I want you to take this." Archangel said.

"I've never even held a gun before. I don't think I'd be much use with it."

"You don't have to use it, it's for just in case and I'd feel a lot better knowing that at least everyone is armed."

Grace hesitated for a moment, she looked at Archangel, then at the weapon then back at him before taking the gun.

"Okay." She said.

"I'll show you how to use it along the way." Archangel said.

Archangel picked up a thick metal briefcase and a backpack full of personal items, they were all ready.

"Okay Danny ride with Skeeter, Grace with me. We know the rendezvous points for if we get split up and we fixed radios into both trucks this morning. Lets roll." Archangel said.

They walked through the kitchen and through the door which led to the adjoining garage. Inside both trucks waited facing the door. The backs of the trucks were covered over to hide their supplies from the elements. Archangel opened the door for the back seat of the truck and placed the metal case and the backpack on the back seat. There were already two fully loaded rifles, magazines fully loaded, bottles of water and other supplies there. He got into the drivers seat and started the engine. As Skeeter started up his truck the garage door opened and they both drove out. They headed down the dirt road and Archangel watched his house disappear into the rear view mirror. He had decided not to dwell on the twinge of sadness he felt and put all his concentration into the road ahead.

"You okay?" Grace asked.

Archangel nodded his head in reply.

"Yeah I'm fine. How does your ankle feel?" he replied.

"A lot better thank you."

As they pulled onto the main road Archangel led the way onto the road that would take them out of Freedom. The long road was flanked for at least sixty miles by mountain and forest. Archangel hoped this would give them some cover from any Cylon vessels that may pass overhead.

Skeeter was glad to be on the road. He reached for the sunroof and opened it slightly, a few spots of rain came through but not much. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a packet of smokes and lit one up. He turned and looked at Danny who was sitting staring out of the window.

"You okay Danny?"

Danny turned to face his friend.

"Yeah I'm fine you?"

"Yeah man I'm okay. I need to ask you a question and I need you to answer me honestly."

"Of course." Danny replied.

Skeeter took another drag from he cigarette before he asked.

"If you see a silver walking robot, what are you going to do?"

Danny looked at his friend and then down at his gun in its holster.

"Either shoot it or run, depending on what you guys are doing."

"We've got each others backs, all the time, even Grace."

"She seems nice."

Skeeter took another drag from his cigarette.

"Yeah she does."

They had been on the road for three hours and so far they hadn't seen a single soul. They were approaching the out skirts of a small town south of Capital City. Archangel saw a sign for a gas station up ahead. As they got closer he signalled and pulled in.

"Why are we stopping?" Grace asked.

"I want to see if there is any gas left in any of the pumps. I don't want to use up any of our own until we have to."

Both trucks stopped at the pumps. As the roof of the gas station covered the pumps they were sheltered from the rain so they all got out to stretch their legs.

"Skeeter can you activate the pumps?" Archangel asked.

"Sure, Danny fill her up." Skeeter replied.

"You got it." Danny said.

Skeeter walked into the shop and over to the counter where the pumps activated. It was eerie, the lights were off. After what they had seen at the market in Freedom he decided that he didn't want to look too far. He walked behind the counter and quickly found the pump control.

"Time to see if we still have power." Skeeter said to himself.

He pressed the controls to activate the pumps and they both kicked in. He looked up and saw Archangel give him the thumbs up. As he turned he saw the half full cigarette counter, he paused for a few seconds.

"What the hell. May as well." He said.

He grabbed a brown bag from the counter and filled it with smokes, after all there was a good chance that when he ran out he wouldn't be able to find any more. As he walked to the door he quickly glanced around the shop, a lot of people had been there before him, the place was a mess. There was one bottle of water laying on the floor about half way down the shop. Skeeter took a deep breath and then quickly walked down the isle to the bottle. As he bent down to pick it up he heard movement in the back of the shop but couldn't see anyone. He took the cigarettes and water and quickly walked back outside. Both Archangel and Danny had finished filling the trucks.

"Archangel there's someone in the back of the store." Skeeter said.

Skeeter put his things in the back of the truck.

"Who?" Archangel replied.

"No idea, heard them, didn't see them." Skeeter replied.

"Grace start my truck, Danny start Skeeter's. Skeeter, lets go see who's inside." Archangel said.

Grace and Danny didn't say anything they went the separate trucks but Archangel could tell by the looks on her face that she wasn't happy. Archangel drew one of his handguns and walked in the door, Skeeter drew his, took three quick breaths and followed his friend inside. Inside they both walked in silence, Archangel led the way holding his gun out in front. As they reached the door that led to the back of the shop they could both see how dimly lit it was. Skeeter reached into his pocket to get his torch, Archangel grabbed his friend's arm and shook his head. Whatever noise Skeeter had heard, it was now silent. Archangel cautiously stepped through the door, followed by his friend. The back of the shop was a mess like the front of the shop. There was a thump to their right and both men span around with their guns raised.

"What the frak was that?" Skeeter asked.

At first it didn't seem as though there was anything or anyone there. Archangel lowered his gun and pulled a torch out of his pocket and shone it into the corner.

"It's a bird." Archangel replied.

Skeeter was wired, his gun shaking slightly in his hand. He had expected a cylon and was very relieved that it was just a bird.

"Holy frak I nearly crapped myself." Skeeter said.

"It's broken its neck." Archangel said.

He raised his gun and fired putting the bird out of its misery. Archangel smiled at his friend who had holstered his weapon.

"Do you need to use the restroom and clean yourself up or can we go before we get attacked by another bird?"

Skeeter laughed in relief and then pointed at the door before following his friend outside.

"Is everything okay?" Danny asked nearly falling out of the truck when he saw his two friends.

"Yeah everything's fine, it was just a bird." Skeeter said.

"Lets get moving." Archangel said.

The two trucks pulled away as they got further and further away a man appeared from behind the gas station and watched them till they disappeared, then moved back behind the gas station.

As they drove on the road by the outskirts of the town they could began to see the damage from the explosions. Buildings were broken from the blasts, trees had been torn clear out of the ground and thrown everywhere. From their vehicles they could also see evidence of people who hadn't had time to get clear from the blasts.

"If it's like this here I wonder what it's going to be like in the cities." Grace asked.

"Well I'm hoping we won't have to get too close to the cities." Archangel replied.

"Is that a Cylon ship?" Grace asked.

Grace pointed through the windscreen. Archangel looked up and through the rain he saw a ship he had never seen before and had no idea if it had seen them.

"I assume so. I've never seen anything like it before. It's pretty high up so I doubt if they've seen us."

Skeeter's voice came over the radio.

"You seeing what I'm seeing?" Skeeter said over the radio.

Archangel picked up the receiver.

"Yeah just spotted it." Archangel replied.

"What do you want to do?" Skeeter asked.

"Right now nothing. If they'd seen us they'd be on us by now. We'll keep driving for now."

"No problem."

Archangel watched the raider for the next couple of minutes till it vanished out of sight.

"STOP, STOP, there's somebody over there!" Grace shouted.

Grace shouted and pointed to a man who was staggering a few hundred yards away. Archangel screeched to a halt, luckily Skeeter was paying attention and did the same thing. Archangel left the truck running and turned to Grace

"Please stay here and get ready to drive at the first sign of trouble." Archangel said.

Grace nodded her head in reply. Archangel got out of the truck and into the driving rain. Skeeter stepped out of his truck.

"What's going on?" Skeeter asked.

"Get the rifle I gave you and train it on me. If I grab my gun open fire on whatever I'm aiming at." Archangel replied.

Archangel began to walk towards the man who was staggering away from him. There were two story buildings either side of him which concerned him a little. As he got closer he could see the man was covered it blood. The rain was washing it off him a little and it was running down the road towards Archangel.

"Sir are you okay?" Archangel asked.

Archangel kept looking all around him, trying to see if he was being set up in any way. He slowly unclipped the tops of his holsters.

"Sir can you hear me? Are you okay?"

The man suddenly stopped which made Archangel stand still, his hands ready. The man began to slowly turn around. He was drenched in blood and holding his arm across his chest. He had clearly been shot in the shoulder and the leg. Archangel saw the relief across the mans face when he saw him standing there which made Archangel relax a little.

"Thank the gods." The man said.

As Archangel stepped towards the man the sound of machine gun fire ripped through the air and the bullets through the man standing in front of him. As the man fell to the floor dead Archangel heard another sound, this time of metal moving closer to him. He grabbed both his hand guns and span to his right in time to see two Cylon centurions running towards him.

"Oh frak me." Archangel said.

They moved so quickly, their red eyes slicing through the rain. Archangel had only ever seen pictures of Cylons and they hadn't looked like this. He had heard stories from Admiral Negala but they could in no way have prepared him for this moment. In a split second Archangel raised both guns and opened fire, he kept pulling the triggers. Each bullet hit its intended target with deadly accuracy and both Cylons went down after being hit by bullet after bullet. He stood for a moment, smoke poured out of the barrel of each gun. The two Cylons lay in a heap in front of him. Rain poured down his face as he stood and stared at his kill. As a blackop's agent he had trained to kill and he had killed humans before but this was something else entirely. He turned and ran towards the trucks as fast as he could. Skeeter had been watching his friend through the scope on his rifle, he hadn't however seen what Archangel had shot at as it had been down a side alley.

"What was it?" Skeeter asked.

"Cylons, we have to move, NOW." Archangel replied.

He holstered both of his weapons and got back into the truck.

They had found an abandoned warehouse well outside any populated areas. They had parked both trucks inside and checked the area for Cylons. Archangel, Skeeter and Danny were all fast asleep, Grace however wasn't with them.

Grace stood alone in the small building next to the warehouse. She looked into the night sky. The rain still poured down, it hadn't stopped all day and was showing no sign of doing so.

"Number 6." A voice said.

She turned around to see a 2 and an 8 walk out of the shadows.

"How is it going?" 8 asked.

"Very well, humans are far too trusting." Grace replied.

"They suspect nothing?" 2 asked.

Grace shook her head as she replied.

"As far as they are aware they've only seen two Cylons so far and Archangel stopped them without any problems."

"He certainly is an interesting human specimen. We have decided to let him live for now, we want to see how far he can get." 8 said.

"He plans on taking us to Caprica, if he doesn't scan any Battlestars in orbit he intends on jumping into space." Grace replied.

"To where?" 8 asked.

"Anywhere." Grace answered.

"His friends, if they survive for that long would they just blindly follow him?" 2 asked.

"They already are. All three of them know there are no guarantees they will even get off this planet yet they follow him anyway. He has a way of inspiring confidence."

"Even in you?" 2 asked.

"He is unlike any human we have studied, his records showed us this. I look forward with great interest as to how he overcomes the tests that face him. Are there many survivors out there?" Grace asked.

"A few thousand maybe spread across the colonies. Our armies killed a lot today. Several Battlestars survived. One at lest has massed a civilian fleet and fled the system, it is only a matter of time though before we find them." 8 said.

"Go back to them. We will talk again soon." 2 said.

"By your command." Grace replied.