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Harry shined his light toward a bulkhead and spotted an open doorway leading to another corridor. Shinning his torch down the darkened space he spotted the cylindrical shape of a stasis pod. Nearly identical to the emergency stasis pods he had seen on Atlantis. They were near the centre of the ship, on the middle deck…so they were more than likely stasis pod. In case of an emergency, the crew could use the pods until they could be rescued. When he let his torch play over the pods he nearly dropped it on the floor when he saw a humanoid silhouette in one of the pods.
"My God," whispered Harry as he rushed over and shined his torch in to the pod.
Inside, preserved and held in stasis was a man.
"It looks like the whole crew went into stasis after a battle. The ship is very badly damaged but repairable. Once the automatic repair function is repaired and reactivated the ship could be space worthy in a few weeks." Aressa explained to the President and the Colonial military leaders.
"And the crew are still alive?" asked a shocked Roslin.
Aressa nodded and pulled up an image of one of the Stasis pods and its occupant. "They are in stasis, but the majority are suffering from atrophied musculature. After ten thousand years in stasis, well there are somethings that the system could not cope with. Sadly, we may lose at least half the crew, maybe more if I cannot correct the damage done by such lengthy use of stasis."
"Not all of them look as badly impacted. Does that mean that some pods malfunctioned?" asked Hermione.
Aressa frowned as she considered, "It may be the case, but at this point I just don't know. I am still working my way through the technology being used. It is slightly different to that which I am familiar with."
Apollo leaned forward, "Why don't we ask them?"
"What, do you mean the crew, how?' asked Admiral Adama.
"According to the ships AI, they are connected to each other and capable of interacting in a virtual environment. At the moment, the system is in standby mode. In order for us to communicate, we would need to turn it on and then someone would need to be hooked up to the system," explained Aressa.
"Like V-world," mused Commander Shelton. "Is it possible?"
"Yes, it is possible," admitted Aressa. "I have been holding off because I am unsure how all this time in isolation and indeed the shock, may have impacted on the crew."
Roslin looked thoughtful as she consulted a folder, "We have a psychologist among the repatriated. Perhaps he could advise you?"
Aressa had to admit that it was a good idea, "That is an excellent suggestion Madam President."
"Assuming that they survive, do you think the crew will help us?" asked Kyle Brack.
Aressa had prepared for this question, guessing that the Colonials would be concerned. "They are in a similar situation to me. Our people are gone from this galaxy, either dead or ascended. I hope that the crew of the Aurora will seek to aid you, their descendants."
Aressa settled in to the command chair on Atlantis and then activated the link to the Aurora. There was a moment of disorientation and then she was standing on the virtual version of the bridge of the Aurora.
"I was wondering when you would show yourself," said a voice behind her.
Aressa turned to see an older man dressed in a Lantean military uniform.
"You were aware?" asked Aressa in some surprise.
The man nodded, "Indeed, although I admit it was only recently. Our systems shut down moments after we went into stasis. The virtual network never came online and with our automated repair systems off-line it never would have without outside intervention."
"Which I provided when I started bringing power back online," reasoned Aressa.
"Given that the bio-locked systems accept your commands you are clearly Lantean. May I ask why you haven't entered a command code?"
Aressa smiled sadly, "That is a long story…"
"Loras, my name is Loras Tal and I am the Captain of the Aurora."
Aressa straightened and placed a hand over her heart, "Captain Tal, I am Aressa Tellan a healer attached to the Terra Union of Science and acting controller of Atlantis."
"You are Anquietas!" exclaimed Loras. "What…how?"
"As I said Captain, it is a long story. For me, it started when my people abandoned Terra several million years ago…"
Thirty minutes later Loras was sitting in his chair, looking unseeingly at the starfield outside. "Ten Thousand Years…our families, our people, all gone."
"I wish I had better news," Aressa spoke quietly. The Captains grief was almost tangible. While this was similar to her own story, she had been given the time to grieve as she sat alone in the remains of her people's outpost on Earth. For Loras, the news that his people were gone and now only lived through their descendants was a terrible, shocking blow.
Loras straightened in his chair, squaring his shoulders. "I will inform the crew. Would you be able to put together a briefing?"
Aressa nodded, "I will."
"Thank you. Afterwards, I think I will need to meet these Colonials and our… descendants."
The Captain and Aressa presented the crew of the Aurora with all the information they had on what had happened to them, their people and Atlantis. They had then explained the situation the Colonials faced.
The crew, on the whole, took it well.
Then Aressa, Harry and Hermione met with them. Followed by Roslin and the Military leadership via the Virtual Reality link.
Captain Loras had promised an answer quickly.
Admiral Adama's Room - Atlantis
"Sadly, I can imagine what they are going through," said Roslin as she sipped on her drink.
"What do you think they will do?" asked Admiral Adama, his tone cautious.
"I doubt staying in Pegasus is on their to-do list," said Tigh. "Do you think they'll want it back?"
"Atlantis?" queried Adama. Seeing Tigh's nod, he shook his head. "I don't know."
Jonathon Swift grimaced, "That could get ugly."
"I suspect that they'll help," concluded David Shelton. "Forget the fancy names, these guys are Human, and they are in they are in the same boat us as."
"Let's hope," said Brack. "Lee, you've spent time with Aressa. What do you think?"
Lee Adama shrugged, "She's a healer and a good, moral person. For that matter so are Granger and Potter. They'll want to stay and help."
"I'll drink to that," muttered Tigh.
"I do not think that we have a choice Healer Aressa. Should the stasis pods fail we could lose the entire crew," said Captain Loras. "I'd rather lose a few decades than die for no reason."
"Very well, I shall let medical know and I'll set things up," replied Aressa.
Doctors Cottle and Jackson studied the readouts before turning to Hermione and Aressa.
"Amazing technology," admitted Jackson. "Are you sure that this will work Aressa?"
"It should be enough to reverse the damage. If we monitor the patient it should be possible to keep a close eye on them and give us warning if things go wrong."
Cottle was frowning as Aressa spoke, "How long do your people normally live for?"
Aressa considered, "Our natural lifespan would be around two hundred and fifty to three hundred years. With our technology, it is possible to extend that to say four hundred years. For those of us gifted with healing ability that could be doubled. With proper preparation, it would be possible to increase that even further…say by cyro-stasis."
Cottle looked down at his briefing notes, "So if stasis works like I think it does, based on these notes, then won't the crew be close to that upper range?"
Aressa nodded slowly, "A good point Doctor. I'm worried about those who have less affinity with self-healing. Their bodies would not have survived long-term stasis as well as the others. I have marked those crew members in red, based on their genetic profile."
Jackson considered what they had on hand, "Would the Cylons be able to help? I mean their cloning technology is pretty amazing."
"I'll ask Miss Graystone," promised Aressa.
"When are we thinking of doing this?" asked Cottle.
"It would have to be soon. If we are going to salvage the Aurora, we need to get it docked with Atlantis. Main power is critically low on the ship and anything that risks the status of the Stasis pods is a problem," explained Aressa. "We really need to get them out of stasis an onboard as soon as possible."
Laura Roslin grimaced as she listened to Aressa's concise, professional report on the status of the Aurora and her crew.
"Can you truly help them?" Baltar asked politely. Although that politeness may have been because he was still in the bad books with most of the Colonials. The revelation that he had been manipulated by an ascended lifeform had saved him from imprisonment, but it had not impressed either Adama or Roslin.
"I believe so," explained Aressa. "You are familiar with Hermione's healing abilities. Well, my abilities are similar, less varied and focused on healing. Many of the crew can be fully healed however they will have aged. Attempting to heal them and reverse the effects of the stasis…it has been done before with mixed success. Unfortunately, events are forcing my hand."
The Captain volunteered to go first, along with most of his officers. But in the end, it was his First Officer, Lera Trebal who was chosen to go first. So, if anything went wrong the Captain would be available to lead the remaining Lanteans. To ensure that communication was possible, Aressa had taken the precautionary step of transferring both English and Caprican to the Lanteans as she revived them.
A temporary medical bay had been set up on the Aurora to assist, if needed, with the revival of the crew.
Cottle and Jackson monitored the Lanteans life signs as Aressa stood with both hands on the motionless figure. Beside her, Hermione waited for the order to disconnect the patient from the stasis unit.
"I am starting," explained Aressa as her hands began to glow.
Slowly, very slowly, colour returned to the figure's skin.
"Disconnect her," ordered Aressa.
"She's flatlining," warned Cottle.
Hermione didn't hesitate as she entered the sequence she had memorised. The light on the stasis pod changed from light blue to amber.
"Still…by Apollo, we have life signs…they are stable. I think you've done it," announced Jackson.
Aressa removed her hands as the Lantean woman opened her eyes.
First Officer Lera Trebal looked to be in her early to mid-forties. Tall with blue eyes and long blond hair she looked fit and well as she sat patiently waiting for Doctor Cottle to finish running tests.
"Well Ma'am, you appear to be fine as far as I can tell," said Cottle with a smile.
"Thank you," replied Trebal with a friendly smile. "Is Healer Aressa well?"
"She is," replied Cottle, looking slightly uncomfortable. "I believe that she is going the data gathered when she…ah healed you."
Trebal's lips curled up in amusement, "You are a man of science. I can tell by the look on your face that you are still trying to rationalise the Healers art. My brother is…was a scientist and my mother a healer. He spent quite a few years trying to scientifically explain her powers. His work is probably still in the database. I learned to simply accept. Healer Aressa is most gifted, many of our healers were specialised, so finding one that could not only help but also transfer me your language was somewhat of a surprise."
"Yes, the three of them are amazing. A bit scary but amazing. They have certainly helped save our people," replied Cottle.
"Ah yes, our descendants," Trebal shook her head. "From what Aressa shared with us they are indeed skilled. It is…gratifying to find that our descendants still live. I look forward to having the opportunity to talk with them."
"I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have rounds in a few hours."
Trebal nodded, "Thank you doctor."
In the end, they managed to save one hundred and thirty-two of the crew.
The forty-nine that died were either older crewmembers who had aged to the point of no return or those whose stasis had, for some reason, been interrupted.
The survivors had aged far more than Aressa had been comfortable with, but with her healing abilities, she had minimised the impact of the aging as much as possible.
Captain Loras and First Officer Trebal had once medically cleared, requested a meeting with the Colonial leadership.
The meeting on Atlantis had been organised in a hurry but it still had a formal feel. A large oval-shaped conference table in a secure meeting room was chosen so that security could be controlled. No one was taking chances.
Seated around the table were all those that President Roslin trusted or whom she felt needed to know the full story. Admiral Adama, Lacy Rand, Commander Adama, Priestess Elosha and Roslin's aide (and note talker) Billy Keikeya.
Seated opposite were Aressa, Harry, Hermione, Captain Loras and First Officer Trebal.
After introducing those at the table and letting them exchange greetings, Roslin cleared her throat and the private conversations died down. "Firstly, let me welcome you in the name of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol."
Loras smiled, his blue eyes amused. "Madam President, I realise that there are precedents we should normally follow. Indeed, my own people's government, the High Council, were the same. I think that for this meeting, informal may be best."
Roslin laughed, genuinely amused. "I was speaking for posterity…I realised after meeting Harry, Hermione and Aressa that perhaps we should have some sort of formal records. We are, after all, conducting what would be a first contact. But, I think you are right Captain. We can always do something formal for the cameras. Where would you like to start?"
Loras ran a hand through his grey hair, "I think thanks are due first. Admiral Adama, I thank you for allocating the resources to find my ship and crew. Your military and your allies no doubt saved our lives."
"Thank you, Captain, but I should point out that it was others that convinced me to allow the search," admitted Adama with a nod toward his son.
"Indeed, well I think the first thing I should do is assure you that I have no need or desire to displace you or your people from Atlantis. Your need is great and Aressa has made clear what has begun in the city and your plans to leave the galaxy. I think that decision is wise, very wise. The Wraith are a direct threat to all life in this galaxy. Atlantis and a fleet of Aurora-class warships would not be enough to destroy the Wraith. So, after consulting with my crew I am offering our services in getting your people safely to your destination."
Harry and Hermione shared a look, each wondering if the Lantean captain meant moving the city ship or using the Stargate.
"That…that is an amazing offer Captain. I…we can only offer our thanks," replied Roslin.
"Just Loras will do Madam President. I do have one request before we go any further."
"Of course," replied Roslin.
"According to records here on Atlantis, there are potentially two of our ships and one facility that we should mount missions to before we depart. We have two missing ships that I would like to investigate. We will also need to consider going to Fortis Luxus. It was a facility closer to the edge of the galaxy where Potentia and drones were manufactured. Our power needs will be high until we can rebuild infrastructure. Aressa has confirmed that it was not decommissioned before my people left Atlantis."
Admiral Adama frowned, "Would such a valuable facility still be unclaimed and operational after all this time?'
"The base is hidden and access to it is genetically coded. So, if nothing catastrophic has occurred it could still exist," explained Trebal.
"Will your ship be ready by then?" asked Lacy Rand.
Loras shook his head, "The Aurora will need months and a new Potentia to be ready. She'll be spaceworthy in perhaps three weeks, but battle readiness is another matter."
"Are you thinking about using Raptors or your shuttles?" asked Apollo.
Loras frowned, "That is, in part what I wished to address with you. We would need larger ships to store the bulk of the salvaged equipment and supplies."
The Colonials, Aressa and Lacy all turned to look at Harry and Hermione.
"Yes, we would be able to shrink things down enough to get them onboard a shuttle," Hermione replied to the unasked question.
Loras nodded, looking pleased. "Excellent, then I suggest a joint mission."
Admiral Adama glanced at Roslin who nodded, "Very well Captain, Commander Adama please assist Captain Loras."
Elosha shifted in her seat to look at Loras, "Captain, I have a proposal, if that would be acceptable?"
Loras nodded, "Please."
"Among the religious community, there has been some debate over the…ah historical veracity of our sacred documents. The Quorum has elected a committee to look into matters, which I believe is a sensible solution. Sadly, there has also been a vocal minority who claim that there is some sort of far-fetched conspiracy. Holy Mother Rand and I have been working to ensure that the fleet understands what is happening and why. If you are amenable, would you be willing to explain the beliefs and some of your history to our group?"
"If you believe it will help, I would be honoured," replied Loras. "Although it may have to wait until we have completed some of our more vital repairs.'
"Of course, thank you," replied Elosha.
Broadcast of Interview with President Roslin – With James McManus
President Roslin smiled for the cameras as she sat comfortably opposite James McManus.
McManus smiled, "Thank you for your time Madam President. I'm sure that you are quite busy with everything that is going on."
"I think that keeping our people informed is an excellent use of my time James."
"Madam President, in the recent Quorum meeting you made an appeal for sensible debate, what prompted that call?"
"The recent coup attempt was a real low point for our people, but I think some of the concerns being raised in the fleet and then by the Quorum delegates certainly contributed to that situation. I fully understand that our current alliance with the anti-One Cylons, does not sit well with many in the fleet. Well, we need to accept that the situations like that with the Cylons are not black and white."
McManus interjected as Roslin paused, "Many can't understand why we don't go our separate ways."
"I am no fan of the Cylons James but since being sworn in I've had to try and find a way forward during a time of disaster, loss and turbulent change. I think that I am obliged by the office to try and serve the people to the best of my abilities. That means finding a way forward. The best way forward."
McManus cleared his throat to interrupt, "And some like Marshall Bagot are demanding to know if the Cylons and these ancient humans will agree to adhere to Colonial law, religion and customs. Many believe that he's trying to build a voting block among the ultra-conservatives and those that dislike your policies."
Roslin shrugged, her expression showing her frustration. "That James, is why I've called for sensible debate. Given that we've been going from one crisis to another we simply have not had the time to sit down and sensibly discuss how this alliance will work."
"Madam President, to me it looks like he is stepping into the void left by Tom Zarek."
Roslin sighed and shook her head, "I think I have made it clear that we need to go back to the rule of law. But before that can happen, we need to make some decisions."
McManus gave a polite shrug, "I've had the tour and attended orientation. We even have a designated press room on Atlantis. For those that haven't had the opportunity yet, I can only say that city ship is amazing. A technological and engineering marvel. But there have been rumours that these aliens might want it back. Given the resources required to build such a marvel, I can see why they might."
"I've met with Aressa and the Commander of the damaged warship we recently rescued. They assure me that they have no desire to kick us off Atlantis. Indeed, their Captain has offered to help facilitate our move to a safe location."
"Because their people are gone. They left ten thousand years ago. He has maybe two hundred crew left," explained Roslin, deliberately misquoting the numbers. "Maybe there are a few other survivors, maybe another ship but…can you build a civilisation with so few?
McManus was professional enough that he didn't wince, but it was a close thing. "When will more information about this safe haven be released to the fleet?"
"Time is a factor James. We know that the One's will not have ceased searching for us. We also know that this area of the galaxy is just as dangerous, being controlled by the Wraith. We have a safe haven and I will soon be giving the details to the Quorum and then the rest of the fleet."
"Do we have a date Madam President?" pushed McManus.
Roslin smiled, "As soon as possible James."
Harry was less than amused as he sat rigidly in his chair listening to the vitriolic rhetoric being thrown around by the Quorum.
Roslin had called a special Quorum meeting to review all the current strategic information. Included in the meeting were the commanding officers of each Battlestar along with Admiral Adama. The Cylons were represented by a Six and Lacy Rand. Representing the non-Colonials was Harry.
His role was to answer questions, but to this point, all that he had to do was listen to this drivel.
"…You would give control of our fate to aliens?" argued Marshall Bagot, Virgon's Quorum member. "Bad enough that you are sucking up to the Cylons by allowing their immoral religion to see the light of day!"
Alisander Asiel, the Aerilon delegate rolled his eyes, "I assume that you are referring to the Monotheist service that I attended along with several Priests and representatives of this body?"
"That is treason!" shouted Bagot
Sarah Porter glared at Bagot, "Being a monotheist isn't illegal, and despite the concerns I had prior to attending the service, it was rather moving and inclusive. I'm not planning on converting mind you, but I fail to see how any interested party attending a religious service could be called treason."
Asiel nodded his thanks to Porter as Roslin cleared her throat. "Perhaps we can move on?"
Roslin didn't wait for an answer or objection as she presented a concise briefing on the state of the Aurora and its crew. She then went on to give status updates on the various projects currently being undertaken on Atlantis. Projects that centred around speeding up the relocation of the civilian population.
Safiya Sanne, who was representing Leonis, waited for Roslin to finish before standing to speak. "Will we be giving the Lanteans and the Cylons a voice on the Quorum?"
"Absolutely not, I refuse to support such a ridiculous, not to mention illegal move!" exclaimed Bagot.
"Good luck with that," muttered Porter, just loudly enough to be heard.
"That is an interesting suggestion," mused Roslin neutrally. Ignoring Bagot's outburst.
Asiel nodded, "An overdue one. Emotion aside, it makes sense to have better communications with potential allies. We need transparency!"
Bagot shook his head, "Transparency? When has transparency mattered to this administration? If it is transparency we seek, then why is the President constantly evading questions about these Aliens, one of whom sit among us. They are behind this conspiracy to weaken us so that their Cylon servants can seize control of…"
Raised voices drowned Bagot out as Roslin stood, a look of disgust on her face.
"You are out of order," stated Roslin. Censure clear in her tone and expression.
"It's a pity that the Sons of Aries failed to kill the alien bitch," yelled Bagot.
Harry jumped to his feet, "I beg your pardon?"
Bagot laughed derisively, "Go on strike me down, show your true colours!"
Harry studied the man with silent contempt, "And what purpose would that serve, save to make you a martyr for your misguided followers? Hermione and I have done nothing but help your people. Along the way, I've been shot, arrested, accused of being a Cylon and treated like some sort of unending resource." He looked around the faces of those in the room. Many wore worried expressions, a few were fearful. "If it wasn't for the woman you just wished had been killed, I would have left, gone home to leave you paranoid idiots to bloody well stew in your own stupidity. You are lucky that Hermione and Aressa are far, far better people than I am. They think you deserve our help." With that, Harry turned his back and walked out of the conference room.
Hermione and Aressa took it much better than he did.
Hermione sighed, "Bagot's an idiot Harry. He was a supporter of Zarek who somehow escaped the fall out around the coup attempt and his escape. He's obviously trying to regain some sort of relevance by appealing to the fearful."
Aressa's expression was a mix of concern and sadness, "Do not forget that they have just faced the destruction of their homeworlds and the near genocide of their people. We now know the circumstances are far from black and white, but it will take time for those wounds to heal Harry."
"I…" Harry was interrupted by a knock on his door.
Harry short gripped his wand and opened the door to reveal a worried looking Commander Adama.
"Harry, I'm glad I found you," began a slightly out of breath Apollo. "I wanted to apologise for what was said. It was out of line, way out of line."
Harry's expression was cold, "And yet it was said."
Apollo ran a hand through his hair, "Harry, I know that there have been some rough moments but please don't judge us on the words of an idiot."
Hermione stepped forward, "Lee, it's not just about what some idiot said. We've been watching your leadership struggle to cope. Not with the logistics, but with the fundamental shifts in your beliefs. I lived through a period of massive change. It's not easy to change your beliefs. A lot of people died in our community because of bigotry. It nearly tore our society apart. When we look at what is happening here…there is a part of me that is terrified that I'm seeing the same patterns here."
"We are trying, the President is trying to get people to see," argued Apollo.
"And when some idiot tries to kill Lacy Rand, or some trigger-happy Viper pilot shoots a Heavy Raider?" Harry asked Apollo.
"I hope Harry, I hope that my people see that there is a chance to survive, to do more than survive."
Harry shook his head, unconvinced.
"I was at the Cylon religious service on the Triton," said Hermione. "I was so pleased to see so many non-Cylons there. It was such an uplifting service, similar to the services I attended with my parents. The underlying theme, the message, was the hope for a reconciliation with the Colonies. The Cylons know now that they were used. They know it Lee. They want to help, they have shown that they are willing to do the hard yards. They will earn it through blood and sweat if need be." She turned to Harry, eyes glistening. "After the battle of Hogwarts, I thought that the world would change overnight into something better. It didn't, did it?"
"People need time to change, they need leadership," argued Hermione.
Harry grimaced, remembering the chaos of those first few months. "Alright, but don't ask me to sit and smile at the twit."
"I think he'll be regretting his actions. President Roslin and the senior officers were not impressed," explained Apollo.
The next day Roslin released a statement that outlined the current situation in a great deal of detail.
In the name of transparency, she also released the minutes of the Quorum meeting.
The media quickly disseminated the information and within hours there was a storm building.
The average Colonial citizen had been living in fear. While the arrival of the Triton had alleviated most of the concerns around food and water. The arrival of Atlantis had solved that issue. With civilians already living on the City Ship, word was spreading of the resources available. The living spaces being opened up, the hospital and schools. The jobs for willing workers.
To hear that some in the Quorum wanted to seize it was not met with enthusiasm.
How dare some idiot verbally attack the Priestess/Alien whose skills and reputation were so valued that the irascible Doctor Cottle sang her praises.
The three Priest/Aliens had brought salvation to the fleet. Indeed, there was many a prayer of thanks when it was announced that more of the aliens were found/rescued.
Those of a theological bent were debating the nature of these aliens. Were they Gods or demi-Gods, were they truly a previous evolution of humans, were they the 13th tribe?
Their thoughts on the Cylons were more divided. Families, friends and associates discussed the revelations that One had been the architect of a vast, evil deception. One that had nearly killed them all. They had once again turned on their makers, they were not to be trusted…but some of them had helped repair the airlock or the hyperdrive. It was the 'good' Cylons that had rescued and returned the Colonials left behind.
Stories were retold on the wireless. Interviews were replayed.
The Cylon medic Simon and his human wife and step-daughter talking about their experiences.
The Cylon Daniel, who had been pivotal in exposing One's plans. Daniel who was befriended by Harry and Hermione.
The Cylon Leoben, risking his life in a breached compartment to rescue a human woman.
Doctor Jackson, explaining that the Humanoid Cylons were almost totally biological, more clone than a machine. That the child of Helo and Sharon would be almost indistinguishable from a human child.
Lacy Rand and her band of heroic Cylons, determined to help save humanity.
The gallant mixed crew who found Atlantis.
The Cylon Valeria who had saved a Colonial pilot, defending the injured man from the Wraith until help arrived.
Colonel Sparta masterminded the 'good Cylon' campaign. Even those that would never like or trust the Cylons were begrudgingly admitting that there was a difference between those that sided with humanity and those that did not.
Captain Loras studied the latest data from the city's scanners.
"With Mister Potter's abilities, stripping the facility should be possible within a very tight timeframe. The Sumah and the Tria are a different picture. The latest information we have on the Tria, is that Atlantis lost contract during the evacuation. The belief was that it was lost, but Atlantis did get a brief transmission from the edge of the galaxy. They may have followed the survivors of Atlantis or the ship may be somewhere on the edge of the galaxy."
"Which means that we will pass its last location on our route," injected Hermione.
"Correct," agreed Loras with a smile.
Apollo studied the display, pointing at the other position indicated. "And this is the Sumah?"
"It's last reported location," acknowledged Aressa. "It may well be worth checking out as that area of space has no known sentient populations and so the Wraith were not active there."
"Can we risk two separate teams?" asked Apollo. "I'd rather one with a backup team."
Loras frowned as he considered, "I was led to believe that time is a factor, Commander Adama. Two teams mean we can relocate your people all the quicker."
"I'm not willing to risk the teams. If we go with two teams then we have two back up teams as well," replied Apollo.
Loras nodded, accepting the compromise, "I think that will work."
Apollo straightened, "Then let's put our teams together."
Team One – On Route to Fortis Luxus
Team One consisted of two Lantean Gateships. Both had cloaking technology and with Lanteans piloting the ships they were expertly handled.
In the lead Gateship, First Officer Trebal was the pilot along with a Lantean crewman named Kalin. Valeria Six and a Two, calling himself Ben, were seated alongside Harry and two Marines.
"We should be there shortly," warned Trebal. "No response from the complex."
A few minutes later, Kalin turned to the others with a wide smile. "I have gained access to a landing bay. Once we are down we should be right next to the main complex. You can see it from here."
Indeed, amid the lifeless moons endless mountains, there was a distinctly man-made structure.
"It looks intact," said Trebal.
"I can't see any battle damage," reported Kalin. "But I'm not sensing anything besides basic systems being online."
Trebal nodded, "That would make sense if the base was in power conservation mode."
They landed without incident and the landing bay automatically sealed. Kalin checked the sensors and then nodded, "We have a breathable atmosphere and the temperature is coming up to a normal ambient level."
"Will there be defences we should be worried about?" asked Valeria.
"There are but I should be able to disarm them," explained Trebal as she walked over to the wall and placed her hand on a glass panel.
Almost immediately the lights came on and characters appeared on the display Trebal was interacting with.
"The facility is coming back online," explained Trebal. "Come on we should go to the control room."
The facility had a control chair and so Trebal sat and closed her eyes. All around the room monitors came to life as text and images appeared.
"Excellent, there are quite a few things we'll want to take with us," reported Trebal with a wide smile. "I've disabled the defences and ordered the automated systems to start loading the inventory for transport." She climbed out of the command chair and gestured for the others to follow. "I think you will like what I've found."
The first room that they came to was a storeroom. In individual slots on the wall were Potentia.
Harry's eyes widened in surprise, "Are…are they all fully charged?"
Trebal grinned, "They are indeed Mister Potter."
"How many?" asked Harry.
"According to the records we have thirty," replied Trebal. "I know you can miniaturize objects but I suggest we pack these as is. Kalin, notify the others."
"How many drones are there?" asked Harry as he looked away from the Potentia.
"Nearly four thousand."
"Wow, that seems like a lot of ordnance to leave behind," commented Harry.
Trebal laughed, "It is, although I doubt that they thought they were not coming back. These are two amazing finds, but we should still look at the third."
The third find was a large transport, perhaps three times the size of a Gateship.
"It is a Science vessel, specifically a Survey ship, Natia class. An older class of ship, but it has an interstellar hyperdrive, decent defences and most importantly it has an Astra Portia. Once we replace the Potentia, it should be operational," explained Trebal. "The records show that it was left behind because the cruiser assigned here was deemed a better choice to take when those stationed here left."
"Amazing, your people sure built to last!" exclaimed Valeria Six.
Trebal smiled, "True, well we will power her up and run a diagnostic. If she passes we can take her with us."
Team Two – On route to the potential location of the Sumah
Hermione studied the displays as soon as their Gateship came out of hyperspace. The system they were in was, according to their out-of-date records, uninhabited. A moment later the sensors went haywire.
The pilot, a Lantean officer named Rolion, raised an eyebrow. "That's odd. There was nothing now there are some rather large power readings. There is more than one ship in the system."
"Have they detected us?" asked Ensign Ryman. A Raptor pilot assigned to Atlantis from the Triton.
Hermione frowned and studied the readings, "No, they don't seem to have sensed us. Something about the gas giant is mucking up our scans." She adjusted the sensors and nodded to herself. "That's better, I read at least seven ships, all but one of them are fairly small. Wait…I have something that looks like it could be the Sumah. It's in orbit of the gas giant."
Rolion frowned, "Where the ships are. I'd say they are salvaging it."
"Can we get closer?" asked Ryman.
Rolion nodded and took them closer.
"Woah," muttered Ryman. "She's taken a battering. Look at the blast damage…that has to be battle damage."
Indeed, the Lantean ship was heavily damaged. So badly, that even to the untrained eye it looked a complete write-off.
"The bridge and engineering are almost completely gone…I'm amazed she is still in one piece," said Rolion.
"Who are the other ships, your people?" asked Ryman.
"I doubt it, they are most certainly not Lantean ships." Rolion's frowned at a result on the screen. "Some of the ships are…I think they are arming weapons. Now they are raising their shields."
"Could they have detected us?" asked Hermione.
"I wouldn't think so. But let's pull back regardless," replied Rolion.
Hermione was studying the sensors and suddenly stiffened, "The magnetic field of the Gas Giant is all over the place. Could that have given us away?"
Rolion cursed under his breath before nodding. "It might, I'm getting us out of here."
"But who are they?" asked Ryman.
"The Genii had ships," Hermione reminded them.
"We are being hailed," reported Rolion.
"Do we answer?" asked Hermione.
"Hold on," instructed Rolion. "The language is a distorted version of my peoples. I am going to adjust the message so that we can all understand what is being said."
"Elonta…This is the Traveler ship, Conought. You will stand down and prepare to be boarded. Resist and we will destroy your ship. Repeat, This is the…" Rolion cut off the message. "They don't sound all that friendly. I've never heard of a civilization called Travelers."
"They are salvaging the wreck of the Sumah. Which, given the damage and the lack of power, is of no use to us. I say leave them to it," said Ryman.
"Perhaps we should answer," mused Hermione. "After all, they are speaking a variant of your language Rolion. I'm not saying we let them board us or anything, just suggesting answering the hail. At least we can find out who they are"
Rolion considered and then nodded, "This is Gateship Three. We are not seeking a confrontation."
"You are using the technology of the ancestors, how?" demanded the speaker.
Rolion frowned, unsure of the nature of the enquiry, "We have mastered their technology. May I ask…."
"You will disengage your cloaking technology and prepare to be boarded."
"It seems that we are unwelcome," commented Hermione.
Rolion sighed and then activated the hyperdrive.
"Do we know anything about these Travelers?" asked Apollo as Rolion finished his report.
Loras settled back into his seat, "No, nothing but I am concerned that they are both belligerent and attempting to salvage my people's technology. From what Aressa has passed on, we have the Wraith to deal with as well as two other groups. The Genii and these travellers."
Aressa had a look of concern on her face as she addressed the room. "That's true and rather worrying. At least we recovered the equipment from Fortis Luxus without incident. That means that we now have the means to power not only Atlantis and the Aurora, but also to help rebuild when we find a suitable location."
"So are we going to leave?" asked Harry.
"That is what I'll recommend to the President," said Apollo.
As the meeting broke up Harry and Hermione found themselves walking with Aressa.
"You appear unhappy Harry," said Aressa.
"I'm not sure about returning to Earth. With everything that has gone on, I haven't really had time to consider what this will mean," explained Harry.
"I don't think anyone suggested that we take them to Terra. Avalon had many habitable systems and I hope that some of our outposts may still survive to be rebuilt. Even if they don't, we have the capacity to rebuild," explained Aressa. "From what you have told me, Terra or Earth has had no contact with the wider galaxy for millennia. Appearing with a fleet would not be ideal. But we have a larger problem that I wanted to address with you both."
Aressa led them into her room and closed the door before continuing, "We have no up to date intelligence on Avalon, or the Milky Way if you prefer. Loras and I think we need to know what we are leading the fleet into. I am hoping that we can mount a scouting mission in the next few days."
"And you are asking Harry and I to go?" asked Hermione.
"I am asking you to help lead the mission," clarified Aressa.
Harry looked at Hermione who nodded slightly, "Perhaps you should explain."
The plan was to send the Lantean Science vessel, now nicknamed the Mercury, to the Milky Way/Avalon galaxy. The Mercury would travel with a mixed crew of six volunteers. Their job was to scout the fleets arrival point.
At this stage, there were several locations where the Ancients had settled. Most had been ravaged by the deadly plague that had driven them to the Pegasus Galaxy. With a cure now available, those worlds might once more be considered. The Astra Portia network made available thousands of possibilities. The rub was that the Ancients data was millions of years out of date. Those fleeing Atlantis had never reported back and the ascended seemed disinclined to help.
In the end, they had picked a world known as Nova Agricola. It had been an unpopulated garden world, designated for a colony that never eventuated (according to their records).
It was far from any populated system but still on the Astra Portia network.
The possibility of using the Astra Portia instead of the Mercury had been discussed, but eventually set aside. A ship gave them flexibility and firepower.
It had taken a week.
The volunteers were quickly selected but finishing vital work on Atlantis and the Aurora (by Harry and Hermione) were a necessary delay.
By the end of the week, both magical's were approaching exhaustion. But they had done what they could to get everything up and running. The Hospital, greenhouses, schools and engineering areas were all operating and the repairs on the Aurora had reached the point where skill, rather than magic was needed.
As Harry, Hermione and many others had worked feverishly tensions in the fleet had begun to ease.
To those in the know, it was called Sparta's Heart's and Mind's campaign. He had, on instruction from the President, begun a series of carefully stage-managed leaks.
It was a simple enough premise, of course, no one believed that all the hatred and resentment was gone for good, but the majority were leaning toward a more 'pragmatic' approach. The 'allied' Cylons were clearly of a different mindset to the 'enemy' Cylons and thus could be trusted, if watched, to assist those that they had so grievously hurt.
It helped that the majority of the Colonial civilians had now moved in to their new homes on Atlantis. For the first time in months people had comfortable quarters and decent food. They felt safe. And with that safety, their attention turned to other matters. They began to think about more than survival.
It started small and unnoticed. People were talking to their neighbours, talking as they ate in either the cafeterias or in their rooms. They were asking what now? Over the next few days enquires started to pour in. Civilians asking how they could help…Were there jobs that needed doing…did the hospital/school/hydroponics centre need an extra set of hands?
These new workers saw the sheer volume of work being undertaken on Atlantis. They saw the Cylons helping build and repair the infrastructure needed. Colonel Sparta's message took on another nuance.
As all this took place a new economy was developing. Where the black market had begun to develop in the fleet, it was eclipsed by the new opportunities opening up.
Workers were getting paid again. Credits in their account meant that they were able to spend them. It didn't take long for small businesses to open. While food and other basic necessities were being supplied free of charge to the fleet, people still sought out any 'luxuries' to be found.
These days luxuries were being sold in small stalls. Near the accommodation centres, food stalls were opening selling baked goods. Small steps, but signs of returning 'normality'.
Then there was Religion. Shrines to various deities were appearing and congregations began reforming. A sign of the times was when the opening of a 'Cylon/Monotheist' church was met with some community scepticism and concern it was the religious leadership of the Colonials that was the voice of reason.
The Colonial News Networks started it, broadcasting a (pre-recorded) Cylon religious Q&A session. A learned discussion around Monotheism and how the Cylons viewed the divine and how their beliefs differed from humanity (after all a few humans were monotheists). What many Colonials had not expected was the obvious piety of the Cylons. Holy Mother Rand had been friendly, informative and above all non-threatening. She spoke of reconciliation and the need for religious tolerance. When Priestess Elosha had appeared beside her she had been full of praise for the co-operation shown by the Cylons religious leadership. Several high profile Cylon and Human figures had been a part of the interview. Most were cautious but optimistic that this was a sign that their allies could be trusted. By the end of the broadcast, many viewers were thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, they could live with the arrangement.
Hermione had some idea what was happening, but Harry had been absorbed with his work. Therefore, he had been somewhat surprised when Daniel and Hermione had been discussing attending a service.
"Is it really a mixed service?" asked Harry.
Daniel smiled, "We always get a few interested people."
"Wow, that's pretty amazing considering the circumstances," admitted Harry.
Daniel's smile widened, "Finding a way forward from where we were is a miracle."
Harry had to agree with that. He glanced over at the folder on their table. "Is that the list Lee dropped off.
Hermione nodded, "He said he and Aressa looker them over. He assured me that we'll be getting a good team."
Picking up the folder he opened it to see a list of names and some paperwork that looked like personal files.
"Valeria Six, Rebeka Toll and Rolion Seb?" asked Harry.
"He's a Lantean officer," replied Hermione, "The one at the briefing. He seemed pretty confident."
"Ah, I never caught his name. The last one on the list is a Marine Corporal and combat medic, Ajax Mikalos."
"That seems like a pretty good mix of people," said Hermione.
Harry shrugged, "At least I trust Rebeka and Valeria."
Hermione sighed, "It feels weird like we are going home but we're not really, are we?"
Harry turned to look at her, concerned. "We have the address for Earth. We can go to the Astra Portia right now."
"And then what? I don't know that I could just walk away. Could you go back to England and act like none of this happened?" asked Hermione.
Harry had to concede that going home and acting like he didn't know what was 'out there' would be hard. And the reality was that there was a lot that Earth did not know about and ignorance would not protect humanity. "No, I probably couldn't."
"That doesn't mean that we cannot check to make sure things are okay on Earth. Maybe there really are people in the know, I mean it's possible."
President Roslin smiled at the camera man as she shook hands with Harry.
"This is a momentous day for our people. This joint mission will ensure that we have a good understanding of current events in the Avalon galaxy. This brave crew of the Mercury will scout the surrounding systems and will re-join us once we arrive."
Harry dutifully smiled for the camera crew before shaking hands with Admiral Adama.
"Well Harry," Adama was speaking quietly so as to not carry to the crowd or the journalists. "Are you ready?"
"I am Sir," replied Harry.
"Good, then we'll see you in a month Mister Potter. Now smile for the cameras Harry."
"All systems are online and operating normally Commander," said Rolion with a broad smile.
Harry groaned and shot the smiling Lantean a dirty look. "Harry will do Rolion. And as far as I am concerned you are in charge."
"Me? I'm just a pilot sir," replied Rolion from his position on the Mercury's command chair.
Rebeka laughed, "This is going to be a fun trip!"
Hermione and Valeria showed their amusement while Ajax tried to hide his smile.
"This is Atlantis Actual, you are cleared for departure Mercury."
"Acknowledged Atlantis, we will see you in a month Atlantis," replied Rolion.
"We've cleared the fleet," announced Rolion. "Jumping to Hyperspace…now"
Harry woke with a mouthful of curly brown hair. The bunks on the Mercury were not really big enough for two but he'd trade room for the pleasure of waking up next Hermione. He glanced up at the chronometer and realised that they had to get moving.
"Hermione love," Harry whispered in her ear.
"Hmmmph," mumbled Hermione as she shifted slightly.
"Time to get up," explained Harry.
"I'm too comfortable to get up."
"Don't make me tickle you," warned Harry.
Hermione shifted further so that she could turn to look at him, "If you hadn't kept me up half the night." Her tone was teasing and Harry couldn't resist smirking.
"Still though…" said Harry as he ran his hand over her hip.
Hermione smiled back before replying, "None of that Mister Potter. We should be arriving in the Milky Way shortly."
They quickly cleaned up and dressed before heading to the bridge.
Rolion was still in the command chair and Valeria sat at one of the other control consoles.
"Good morning," said Hermione as she slipped into the seat beside Valeria.
"Good Morning Hermione, Harry, you both made it just in time," explained Valeria.
"Where are the others?" asked Harry.
"On their way," replied Rolion. "I let them know that we will soon arrive in Avalon."
Sure enough, Rebeka and Ajax appeared moments later. Rebeka looked remarkably different in the brown and cream Lantean uniform she wore in lieu of her crew overalls. Ajax was still dressed in his Marine uniform. The big blonde Marine gave everyone a smile as he took his seat. Ajax was friendly and clearly excited to be a part of the mission. He had made sure to spend some time with each of the others. In part to get to know them but also to ask if they had any special medical needs.
"We will be coming out of hyperspace in a little over five minutes," reported Rolion.
With that announcement, the others grew serious. As astonishing as things seemed to the Cylon and Colonials they were about to arrive in a new galaxy.
For Hermione and Harry, it was the realisation that they were home…well, a lot closer to home.
The arrival itself was somewhat boring. As planned, they dropped out of Hyperspace in a system that had been chosen due to the lack of habitable worlds (as recorded by the Ancients). Habitable worlds were few and far between and thus it was considered unlikely that it had been populated. It was also adjacent to the region that had once been claimed by the Ancients allies, the Nox. Aressa had been particularly interested in seeing if any of the races that had once allied to her people survived the cataclysmic plague that had driven the Ancients from Avalon.
Finding out that there was a raft of sentient species living in Avalon had been quite a shock for the Colonials and information that the President had quickly begun planning how to best release that information to the fleet. Harry had been happy to be absent for what would no doubt be a riotous announcement.
"What have we got on sensors?" asked Harry.
"As we expected the system does not appear to be populated although there are signs that it has been in the past. I've located the Astra Portia on the surface," replied Rolion.
"Well we are here," said Harry with a smile. "Let's get ready to land and check out these ruins."
Harry peered at the monument that dominated the view of the ruined city. "Is it just me Hermione, or does that look like something out of Ancient Egypt?"
Hermione shook her head, looking puzzled. "It looks like a pretty decent copy of an Egyptian town but the pyramid, while some of the other buildings look similar to those I've seen in books. It looks like someone tried to build a ship around a pyramid."
"Why use a pyramid, Merlin it even looks like it's made of stone!" exclaimed Harry. "Hold on, the ship…bloody hell, it could be the same people who made both!"
Hermione rolled her eyes, "Just because it looks the same does not make it so Harry. We could be looking at some sort of parallel development phenomenon. We'll need to get closer. Now come on, let's head down."
"I think we should take the ship. We can land it nearby and walk," suggested Rolion.
Harry glanced over at the Lantean, "You okay?"
Rolion shrugged, "I've got a feeling…I don't think we are alone here."
Harry looked around, seeing nothing. "Right, well then we are going to be careful. Everyone stay together, no wandering off. And I think we'll take your advice, let's take the Mercury a bit closer in so that we can get out quickly if we need to."
Major Michael Coburn lowered his binoculars and turned to his second in command Captain Carl Warren.
"They don't look like Jaffa Carl."
"No Sir, they sure don't and that's not like any Goa'uld ship we've seen before," replied Warren. "Looks like they are checking out the ruins, Sir."
"Tell Casey and Pierce to dial Stargate command and report our friend's arrival then they can secure the gate. You and I will watch our new friends."
"On it, Sir," replied Warren before contacting their two team mates and giving them their orders.
His team, SG-2, were meant to be scouting and securing the ruins here on P5S-211 for a scientific survey. Although that mission was now on hold until they could ascertain the identity of the new arrivals. Hopefully, they were the Alien version of Archaeologists…not that he'd put money on that bet.
As he contemplated the situation, Warren was back to studying the group with his binoculars. "They're wearing the same uniforms…well most of them are. One looks like a soldier in BDU's. They are not all armed though. Hold on, looks like they are heading back to their ship."
"Hmm, that was a quick visit," commented Coburn.
"Maybe not, looks like they don't want to walk Sir. They are flying down to the ruins."
Coburn had to agree as he watched the ship lift off and fly slowly toward the ruins and the destroyed Ha'tak.
"Right then Captain, let's get moving."
The five aliens (Stargate Command had learned not to judge a book by its cover. Just because it looked human didn't mean a whole lot.) landed outside the wall of the former Goa'uld dominated town and then began carefully making their way to the destroyed Ha'tak.
Harry grimaced at the old but still visible destruction amid the buildings. There had clearly been a rather brutal battle. The shards shattered of bone and the rubble gave testament to that.
"Harry, look at this," said Rebeka.
She was holding a long metal staff, clearly damaged with an almost egg-shaped section at the end. "It looks like some sort of weapon. Check out the internal section. It was clearly technological in nature."
"Could it have been a gun of some sort?" asked Harry.
Ajax took it off Rebeka and studied the remains of the device, even raising it to his shoulder. "Maybe, although it is pretty unwieldy for a rifle."
A few steps away, Hermione was staring at a wall where the bones of a child lay. "Come on, let's keep going."
Gaining entrance to the Pyramid wasn't as easy as they had hoped. The rubble around the entrance was rather unstable and it took several attempts to find a safe way up. The five of them eventually reached a section where the Pyramid was breached and managed to squeeze inside.
Harry and Hermione lit up their wands and the darkened corridor was suddenly visible.
"Wow, they liked gold a lot," said Rebeka as she looked around.
Rolion studied the walls and what looked like some sort of control station. After a few moments, he knelt and searched for and then opened a hatch.
"Found something?" asked Harry.
"I'm not sure Harry," admitted Rolion. "At first glance, this technology looks like it is based on Lantean technology. A rather crude version but still our technology. However, the more I look the more it looks like a mix of different technologies. It's quite interesting from an engineering point of view."
"There is a great deal of ornamentation," added Hermione with a frown. "This has to be cultural in nature, I mean why else have it?"
"Considering the amount of damage is it worth continuing on?" asked Rebeka.
"I'd like to try and find the bridge," said Rolion.
"Well we are not splitting up, so which way do you think?" asked Harry.
An hour later they forced their way past some damaged doors on to what appeared to be a cross between a starship bridge and throne room. The room itself was badly damaged and not a lot remained of the forward bulkhead. However, the room did contain the remains of several armoured figures and one skeleton clad in what looked like a golden skirt and a variety of gold jewellery.
"Any guesses on who was in charge?" said Ajax as he bent down to study the gold-covered body. "Apollo! What in Hades is that?"
The other hurried over to see Ajax pointing at the skeleton's neck. Wrapped around the spine was an odd snake-like skeleton. Both the humanoid figure and the snake had been impaled by a piece of gold coloured metal.
"Some sort of parasite?" guessed Hermione.
"Here help me with this," said Ajax as went over to one of the armoured skeletons. With a bit of trial and error, they removed its armour.
"Nothing around the spine so…hold on, look at the stomach!" exclaimed Ajax.
There was another smaller snake-like skeleton.
"Yuck," muttered Rebeka. "I hope there aren't any of the bloody things around. They are like tapeworms on steroids!"
Rolion looked around the shattered bridge, opening panels and removing intact crystals. "I'd like to see if we can find some more memory crystals. Maybe from the central core, assuming that there is one."
Harry nodded, "Collect anything that looks intact and we'll take it back to the Mercury."
Rolion led them deeper into the wrecked ship. Eventually, they found an all but destroyed room near the centre of the ship. Most of the room was a write-off but Rolion collected what they could find that wasn't broken.
"Do you think that's everything?" asked Hermione.
Rolion shrugged, "Probably not, but it's enough to get started."
"Do you think our mysterious watchers are out there?" asked Harry.
"Maybe," admitted Rolion. "If they exist and I'm not just being paranoid."
"Well they haven't attacked so that's a good sign, isn't it?" asked Rebeka.
Colonel Jack O'Neill studied the ruins through his binoculars with a frown. He then turned his gaze to the ship just outside the ruined town.
"Carter, Teal'c that ship look familiar to you?"
"No O'Neill, it does not," replied Teal'c.
"Carter?" prompted O'Neill.
"Sorry, Sir," replied Carter.
Jackson was studying the ship when he froze, unnoticed by his companions. "Jack, the writing on the side…part of it is written in Ancient."
"What does it say Danny?" asked O'Neill.
"Mercury," replied Jackson.
"Interesting," mused O'Neill. "So a humanoid, spacefaring race that writes in Ancient. We sure they aren't the Tollans?"
"Sir, they are coming back out of the ruins," warned Carter.
"Well campers, let's go and introduce ourselves," ordered O'Neill.