Battlestar Victorious Volume Four: When Fates Collide

Chapter One: The Darkest Hour

Dothan System:

The vast fleet of civilian ships moved through the Dothan System awaiting the return of the task force that had left for the Libran moon of Ostarsis. Where there had once been at least a token force of Colonial Fleet warships to protect them, now there were none to be found. All it had taken was a single distress call that had been broadcast in the clear throughout the Twelve Colonies. Fleet Admiral Scott Tolan had felt compelled to call out for whatever ships could come to his aid at Ostarsis. The reaction had been swift as the battlestar Victorious, Achilles, and Maytoria had jumped away, along with the cruisers Pelagiad, Caldera, Neleus, Rielle and Atatar, to come to the aid of the task force. The only source of protection was the baseship Revenge, a Cylon War era baseship that had been captured by the Eastern Alliance and turned into a base of operations for the erstwhile group of pirates.

Olympica, Luxury Suite 12:

Leon Delroy looked out the windows of his luxury suite and gazed at the stars. The star pyramid player had used his suspension from the Gemenon Twins not to reflect on the vicious hit on Caprica Buccaneer star Samuel Anders that had caused him to be suspended for the last five games of the season but to relax and indulge himself instead. The maiden voyage of the Olympica was one such indulgence. The first voyage of the massive luxury liner was booked with the kind of celebrities one would be envious to be around, and his celebrity as a sports star ensured he would be considered one of the A-List celebrities on the cruise.

'That was a lifetime ago,' he thought has he took a sip of the amber-colored ambrosia he had poured.

Since the aftermath of the attacks he had tried his best to put his celebrity to good use. With a group of pyramid players that were either onboard the Olympica or on other civilian vessels he had organized an impromptu pyramid league to raise morale among the people. He had become the Owner/Coach/General Manager/Franchise Player of the reborn 'Gemenon Twins'. Other players had brought created teams both current and past. From the modern-era there were the newly-formed Picon Panthers, Tauron Bulls, Sagittaron Archers, Leonis Wildcats, Caprica Buccaners, Canceron Hydras, Virgon United, Scorpia Stingers, and Aerilon Threshers. Past teams from the pre-Colonization era had been reborn to go with the 'Modern Era' teams. The impromptu league boasted the reborn Boskirk All Reds, Hades Vice, Illumini Vipers, Delphi Legion, Phoebus Suns, Olympia Stallions, and Argentum Bay Silverstars. He took this new league seriously enough to where he and the other 'owners' tried to get the people who could be more on the level of professional players. He had been forced to take a few who never got past college pyramid or simply did not last long on the professional stage. He may not have been able to contribute much militarily but it was nice to be able to do something, and he was not ashamed to admit that he wanted to hold on to a part of his old life.

His old life, a thought even he found hard to take in after eight months. He was twenty-seven now and his childhood back on Picon seemed an eternity ago. He had spent his youth in the city of Gray and all his life he wanted to be a professional pyramid player. After he graduated from the University of Memphis he had been the first round draft pick of the Picon Panthers. His rookie year he had been a part of the push that landed the Panthers with the Kobol Cup, before he was even in his mid twenties he had fulfilled his childhood dreams. He had enjoyed the fame and fortune that came with his life, but even scandal could find him. Such was the case when he dated actress Neveah Ratliff and their stormy on/off relationship had created many tabloid headlines in the press. The proverbial last straw came after he had gotten into a fight at a nighclub in Pailyn when he had tried to take home another man's girlfriend. That incident led Panthers ownership to decide that their star player was too much of a headache and they worked out a trade that sent him to Scorpia. He played the remainder of his rookie contract with Scorpia but he refused to even consider a new contract with the team and immediately planned to score a huge payday in free agency. When Gemenon offered him a contract that would pay him over one hundred million cubits over seven years he jumped at it and did not look back.

He had worries about playing on Gemenon but he had adjusted well enough, and the fans adored him as much as the ones on Picon had. Sure the majority of the Gemenese took their religion more seriously than he did but for the amount of money he was being paid he simply kept quiet. The money was good, the amount of adoration he received from the fans was incredible, and he was a major celebrity on the colony so he did what he could to make the Twins ownership happy. He was fond of quoting that he would deliver the Kobol Cup to Gemenon much like he had done for Picon. He felt a pang of regret knowing that it was a promise he would never be able to keep.

A noise brought him out of his thoughts. There was a stirring on the bed behind him; it was the reporter who had interviewed him after the game the night before when his 'Twins' had defeated Orlando Salazar's 'Panthers' in a pyramid game. He had promised her an 'in-depth' exclusive and she was more than happy to take him up on his offer. She was sleeping soundly but he realized that he was unable to sleep.

So, he just sat there and watched the stars as the Olympica moved through space. It came as a shock to him when a mass of bright flashes illuminated the dark void. He watched in amazement as ship after ship showed up on the edge of the civilian fleet. His mind was quick to inform him that this had to be Admiral Tolan's armada that had left for Ostarsis. He walked closer and saw that almost every single ship bore some kind of battle damage. Their once pristine hulls were now scarred by burn marks where he was certain the Cylon weaponry had scored direct hits. Some of them looked decidedly worse for wear and he thought it a minor miracle that they were even staying together.

'Gods, just how hard did the Cylons fight?' Delroy asked himself as he stood there at his window and gazed at awe at the returning task force.

He notice a single Viper launch from one of the battlestars. He looked at the flight pod and read the name Helios. He had heard the name before; it had been some time ago, at the Olympica's night club Verbeia where several of the crewmembers were enjoying shore leave. They had toasted the Helios and proclaimed it the 'luckiest ship in the fleet'.

'You came back from the battle so maybe you are a lucky ship,' he thought as he gazed at the Helios.

There was the sound of soft footsteps behind him and suddenly he felt a slender pair of arms wrap around his waist.

"I see the fleet has come in," Helen Octavia said as she took in the sight of the warships.

"They look like they took a beating," Delroy said before getting out of her grasp to look her in the face, "If you slept with me to get a better story well, I have to admire your technique."

"I had to get an edge somehow, I think I more than earned an exclusive," Octavia said with a sly smile.

"I think I can work that out where you get a one-on-one interview with me."

"When I boarded this ship it was for a voyage around the colonies to take my mind off of my problems. Now I'm putting my journalism classes to good use and I snagged an interview with one of the more popular pyramid players. Life can have its twists and turns," she said as she took Delroy by the hand and led him back to the bed.

Delroy did not fight her; it would be nice to keep him from having to dwell too much on the last eight months. He may not have known Helen Octavia all that well but he was not about to turn down the welcome distraction that she was offering.

As he looked back one last time, he saw one of the battlestars move away from the group of warships and vanish in a flash of light.

Ragan System:

In a bright flash of light, the Victorious completed its jump into the Ragan System.

Commander Andre Graystone and Colonel Celina Cruz looked up at the DRADIS display above the Command and Control Station. Each one mentally prayed that if there were any DRADIS contacts that it would be the Colossus or some other friendly ship.

"Negative contacts," Ensign Jared Simons reported from Tactical.

"Perhaps there is something interfering with our DRADIS. Do you think we should launch Vipers for a visual search?" Cruz asked, not really believing what she was saying.

Graystone nodded.

"We need to be as thorough as we can with this search. Get me the CAG; I want to brief him on what is going on."

Cruz nodded and walked over to Communications and relayed Graystone's request to Lieutenant Enid Branwen. Minutes later the doors to the CIC slid open and in walked Major Rockwell Alston. Alston had recently become the CAG of Victorious and had led the air group into battle when the battlestar had jumped into the fray at Ostarsis.

"You sent for me, Commander?" Alston asked once he arrived at Command and Control.

"I'm ordering the air group launched. I want some of our flyers to stay behind in case the Cylons show up, I'll leave who stays behind up to you but most of the pilots are going to be out searching this system for any sign of the Colossus."

"Understood, sir. If we find any of sign of debris, you'll be among the first to know," Alston said as he turned to leave the CIC.

"I prefer we run into the Colossus instead of the Cylons. At Ostarsis we had safety in numbers but out here, not so much," Cruz said.

"If we don't run into them here I may expand the search to the neighboring systems, perhaps the FTL malfunctioned and they jumped to one of those," Graystone said as he looked at the map of the Ragan system and its neighbors.

"I hope so; we have to assume that they're out there somewhere."

Cruz thought about how she was going to phrase her next statement before she said, "How much time and resources are you willing to invest on this search?"

Graystone looked at her with a shocked expression.

"Is there a reason behind asking that?"

"You saw how many baseships the Cylons had thrown into the fray at Ostarsis, and the Colossus was the only ship that was unable to jump away. There may be a chance that Admiral Tolan and the crew are not even out here. We can't risk losing this ship or getting separated from the rest of the fleet searching for someone who could very well be dead."

"I owe it to Scott to look for him; he dragged our asses out of the Atlantia when we could have died. He's family, Celina, and I cannot abandon family, especially at a time like this. I'll spend every minute I can searching for him."

Graystone saw Cruz about to argue and cut her off.

"I won't risk this ship and its crew needlessly, but I am going to use every chance to search for the Colossus. I refuse to leave our people behind."

"Unless you have to," Cruz finally said after a long pause.

"Unless I have to," Graystone said quietly.

Viper Squadron One Ready Room:

"The orders are for us to use stims if we need them," Captain Brant 'Wizard' Martin said to the pilots that composed the Victorious' Viper Squadron One.

"Any word on what we can expect to find out there?" Lieutenant Jamaal 'Big Daddy' Powers

"The CAG mentioned that we may find the Colossus out there, wreckage of some sort, or even nothing at all. This system was the fallback location for the task force and that's why we're going to search it thoroughly just in case," Martin said.

"Where is the CAG?" Ensign Weston 'Riddler' Zimmerman asked before any of the other pilots had a chance to speak.

"He's coordinating with the other squadron commanders. The plan right now," Martin said as he brought a map of the Ragan System up on the view screen, "We are dividing the system into the sections each squadron will be responsible for."

"What are the chances of the Cylons showing up?" Lieutenant Willis 'Wise Guy' Sykes asked.

"No telling; but if the Cylons by some chance show up, then alert the Victorious and come back here immediately. Do not engage the enemy."

"I guess that's going to take the fun out the assignment," Ensign Maurice 'Slick' Price joked.

Martin shook his head, "Yeah, that is going to take away your fun, but I think it's safe to say that right now survival is more important than having fun. We just got some hits in against the toasters at Ostarsis, which should be enough to hold us for a little while."

"How long until we launch?" Lieutenant Merlin 'Magician' O'Neill asked.

"We launch in twenty minutes. The deck gang is busy doing some repairs and maintenance on our Vipers. When I get the okay from Chief Vance we'll head to the hangar deck and prepare to launch," Martin said as he headed out of the ready room to confer with Major Alston and then with Chief Avis Vance.

"Do you think he's still alive?" Lieutenant Douglas 'Sandman' Exeter when Martin left the room.

"The Admiral has to be one tough son of a bitch to knock off. You'd think after all this time the Cylons would have learned that," Lieutenant William 'Wraith' Llewellyn commented though his tone did not quite match the bravado of his statement.

"If I had my way we'd find the Colossus and Admiral Tolan quickly. He's one of the officers I would hate to lose," Ensign Raquel 'Gold' Maddox said.

"I agree. Though it looked like the Colossus was taking one hell of a pounding before we got the order to land back on the Vic and jump out," Ensign Alejandra 'Grass' Santos said with a shake of her head.

"Yeah, that ship was probably targeted by all of the baseships there at Ostarsis," Ensign Godfrey 'G-Man' Chevalier added.

"You'd think the Colossus was designed so that it could take a pounding from the Cylons and keep going, so perhaps we'll find it intact," Ensign Joseph 'Flame-Out' Stryker said.

"From what I saw before landing on the Vic it looked like the Cylons were trying to hit the ship with every weapon they had," Ensign Jade 'Green Eyes' Jensen commented.

"We won't know for sure until we're out there. Suit up and get ready to fly," Martin said.

Now was the time for him to leave the squad room and see if the Raptors were ready to do their part.

Thirty-Seven Minutes Later:

Raptor Eight-Two-One:

"Still nothing," Captain Frederick 'Spider' Lokrum said.

"What are the odds that we'll find something in this sector?" Lieutenant Douglas Gillette, the pilot of Raptor Seven-Nine-One, asked.

"It's probably the same as it is in the other sectors," Lieutenant Edward London, the pilot of Raptor Eight-One-Eight, said.

"Keep the chatter down, you two," Lokrum chided the pilots, the last thing he wanted to do was clog the communications channel with unnecessary talk.

"I'm seeing something off to the left," London reported.

"Can you tell what it is?" Lokrum asked.

"It looks like a piece of wreckage; that's all I can tell right now," London said.

"Let's get the Raptors in close and turn on our search lights," Lokrum said to his pilots.

"Copy that, Spider, we'll stay where we are unless the toasters show up," Lieutenant O'Neill said.

The three Raptors moved in close and turned on their searchlights. The large piece of wreckage was decidedly manmade and bore the black scars of fire damage. To the right of it were the remains of a Viper Mark VII.

"I'll run a scan on the wreckage to see if it matches with any Colonial designs," Ensign Alfred Trajan said as he entered the image scan of the wreckage to see what ships in the Colonial Fleet database it would match.

"London, I want you to get a closer look at that Viper so we can see what battlestar it may have come from," Lokrum said and watched as London's Raptor moved in.

"Captain, we've run the tail number on the Viper and it comes up as belonging to Viper Squadron One of the Battlestar Hermes," London said after he had received the information from his ECO.

"Let's see if our wreckage matches the Jupiter class," Lokrum said as a small feeling of relief began to come over him. If that Viper was from another battlestar, then just maybe, the wreckage was from the Hermes and not the Colossus.

"We have a match," Trajan exclaimed as the computer showed the type of ship the wreckage had come from.

"What is it?" Lokrum asked.

Trajan's voice held a grave tone when he said, "It's a Mark 48 Rangefinder from the Colossus, and it was the only ship of the class to receive this type."

Trajan looked at the scan of the wreckage and the line drawing below it. In blinking red letters was the word 'Match'; above the line drawing in black letters was 'Battlestar Colossus.'

Lokrum's heart sank at the idea that the Colossus had been lost suddenly became a reality in his eyes, "Let's see if Commander Graystone wants us to search for more wreckage. I don't think we're going to find an intact battlestar out here."

Battlestar Victorious, CIC:

"Thank you," Graystone said as he put the receiver back into its cradle.

"What is it?" Cruz asked.

"They found the wreckage of a Viper that was from the Battlestar Hermes and wreckage that could have only come from a Titan class battlestar."

"Gods," Cruz muttered before asking, "What are you planning to do now?"

"Search this entire system until I know for sure one way or another," Graystone said with a strong hint of determination to his voice.

"Just between the two of us, you may want to get back to the fleet as soon as possible. It's important that we let Governor Rush and Admiral Kronus know what we found."

"We need to be thorough about this," he countered.

"There is no telling if you're being thorough or reckless. What if the Cylons come back before we can recover our air wing?"

"It's not like you to be this worried?"

"I've been a CAG and now an XO since the Cylons attacked, I had to mature quickly from who I was eight months ago."

"Remember where we were at when the attacks came. If Scott hadn't have rescued us from the Atlantia we'd have died there in our Vipers. I owe him for that."

"Admiral Tolan did what he had to do at Ostarsis to give all of us time to escape from the Cylons. That sacrifice will have been wasted if you continue this search. It's a big system out there and we're going to push our pilots' endurance to the limit if we keep this up."

"Look at what we found so far," Graystone countered.

"Yes, all it seems to do is confirm my worst fears. We need to get back to where we will be protected and not so open to a surprise attack. If Scott is dead and the Colossus destroyed then we need to make sure that their loss means something."

Graystone was quiet as he pondered this before he finally said, "We'll do a quick search of the rest of the system and see what we can find and then jump back to the fleet."

Cruz nodded her agreement.

"That's a compromise I can live with."

One Hour, Fourteen Minutes Later:

Olympica, E-Deck, Cabin 67:

Aurelia Gilliam, the Sagittaron representative to the Quorum of Twelve, was sound asleep in her cabin on the Olympica when the door opened suddenly. The shock caused her to snap out of her sleep and to sit up in bed.

"What the frak?" she asked as she began to clear her mind.

"Sorry for barging in here," Eli Hunter, her chief-of-staff, stood there trying to catch his breath.

He had been having a drink in the Olympica's Iasos Lounge with one of the people from Peter Halle's staff.

"Where were you coming from? You look like you just ran a cross-country race," Gilliam asked.

"I was in the Iasos Lounge having a drink with Elsa Halle. When we got the news, we both left the lounge. I came here to see you and she went to tell her father," Hunter said.

Peter Halle was the Libran representative on the new Quorum of Twelve and was somewhat of an ally to Gilliam. He did not share the deep mistrust of the military that she did, but he was certainly cautious about how much authority they were allowed to have.

Gilliam got out bed and walked over to where Hunter was standing.

"What's this news that you heard?"

"The task force has returned from Ostarsis with the prisoners that were on the planet. The problem is that there is a rumor going about that Admiral Tolan and the Colossus are not among those who returned."

Gilliam's mouth dropped, but then her look of shock was replaced with one of delight.

"This is the best thing I could have hoped for!"

"I really don't think that's wise," Hunter cautioned.

"Tolan is probably dead and that means he can no longer be a thorn in my side. I fail to see a downside to this."

Hunter stepped in closer.

"Think about it like this; right now Tolan is probably a hero to some of the families in this fleet because he may have brought their loved ones back when they could have easily been presumed dead. Not to mention that attacking him or even celebrating his death could turn him into a martyr who is more powerful in death than he was when he was alive."

"So you're recommending that I should mourn the fact that he's not here?"

"It's the prudent thing to do. I know how devoted to peace you are but this is not the time to pick a fight. When the glow wears off from the rescue at Ostarsis then you can go on the offensive."

"You do realize this is hard for me to do," Gilliam admitted.

"I know it's hard for you to do but I can assure you that this will get us more support in the long run."

"Fine, I'll take your advice. However, don't think for one second that I'm not going to dance all over that bastard's grave!"

Hunter shook his head with a sad look on his face.

"I'd have expected nothing less from you."

"Anything else I need to know about?"

"There's going to be an emergency meeting of the Quorum in about three hours, I think Governor Rush is trying to gather as many facts as he can before the meeting."

"In that case, we should get ready; go get the rest of the staff together while I get changed. We need a strategy going into this meeting that will throw Rush and the rest of them off balance."

"Also, according to the rumors mill the Battlestar Gemenon is under the part-time command of an Arthur Wallace!" says Hunter seeing the reaction on Gilliam's face.

"So, Tolan is gone but the great asshole is back. Wonderful!" shouted Gilliam, as she sighed, realizing that the man she considered to be one of her greatest enemy had returned. In hindsight it had probably been too much to hope the Cylons had killed him.

Sertis - Beta System:

Amasen Station:

The space station known as Amasen buzzed with the activity of a base during wartime. The difference was that this installation, constructed from the hulls of two incomplete battlestars, held a large number of civilians along with its military personnel.

This base had been a refuge for the battlestars Stryker, Ark Royal, Gemenon, and Libran along with their various support vessels yet it was under the command of an officer from the Ministry of Intelligence. Major Arthur Wallace had been given a commission as a Colonial Fleet officer as well as command of the station. To assist the Colonial Marines were a Ministry of Intelligence task force under Wallace's command known as 'The Gladiators'. Two of these members were on their way to meet with him.

Natalia 'Black Widow' Romanova and Carmen Bayonet walked by the Marines stationed on guard duty at the door and entered Wallace's Office. Romanova saw Wallace sitting behind his desk drinking a soda and looking over some reports that had come in from the Tactical and Communications departments.

Wallace looked up finally realizing they were there, "What?"

"Our scout ship received a communiqué from the battlestars that jumped to Ostarsis," replies Bayonet.

"I don't see the problem; it would appear that they discovered a large fleet of both military and civilian ships!" answered Wallace.

"Aurelia Gilliam is rumored to be alive and well within this fleet. I would also like to let you know it is the Victorious' fleet that was mentioned in that report we received from the Cylon communications buoy we tapped," said Romanova and she was more than a little surprised to seeing Wallace's eyeballs burn with the intensity of a nuclear bomb.

Wallace cringed when he heard his friend, Sergeant Major Darrell 'Tank' Robinson laugh and say, "I told you that you should have killed that bitch!"

"Carmen, before Victorious' fleet arrives I want to you prepare for Gilliam's death, hmm, if I order it!" ordered Wallace as he realized he was going to get a second chance to eliminate Gilliam.

Bayonet nodded and turned to walk out of Wallace's office with Tank following behind her. When the door closed, Wallace gave Romanova a look.

Romanova knew the look in his eyes all too well and she asked, "How many women are you sleeping with?"

"Just four!" answered Wallace with a certain casual indifference.

"What are you going to do whenever they all find out?" she asked as her curiosity got the better of her.

"Truth is that I'll just do what I always do, use my charm and play them against each other," answered Arthur with a mischievous laugh.

"You're one manipulative bastard!" she exclaimed

"Maybe but you love me anyway."

"That I do," answered Romanova.

"Natalia, you have something on your mind. What is it?"

Romanova thought of her words before she said, "I hate to think about what it's going to be like when this fleet arrives here."

"Why are you worried about it?"

"With everything that's been accomplished here on Amasen it might cause more trouble than it's worth."

"We'll make it work…we'll have to make it work or else we won't stand a chance against the Cylons. I'm going to have to take a blind leap on this one; I'm going to have to trust Admiral Tolan is nothing like his crime family relatives from Canceron. One of the lessons Admiral Stryker taught me was to never trust a Tolan."

Romanova walked up to him and put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm glad I'm not the only one who has reservations."

Wallace put a hand over hers.

"You're not the only one, but you can't doubt that it's going to work out."

"Is that your over-confidence talking?"

"More like my cautious optimism; if the data from the Gemenon is correct then we have found ourselves a trump card we can play in this war."

"Even if Aurelia Gilliam is part of the package?"

Wallace turned away from her and walked over to the viewport that allowed him to look out at the stars on the horizon, "Even if she's part of the package. The good news is that if she becomes a problem for me I still have nothing to worry about. After all, 'accidents' happen every day."

"Would the same apply to Admiral Tolan?"

"I think you know me well enough to know the answer to that question," replied Wallace, kissing Natalia and taking her in his arms.

Solace, Cabin CA-132:

The phone on the nearby stand began to ring, catching the attention of all who were in the room. Kronus stared at the women and by the looks on their faces; he judged that none of them were really in much of a condition to answer a phone.

"Yes," Kronus said once he picked up the phone.

Sakura watched as Kronus handed the phone to Brooke Bowman and she promptly took the phone from him.

"Hello," she said as she tried to get her thoughts and emotions under control.

"Delegate Bowman, this is Nirmala Patel from Governor Rush's office."

"Is there something the Governor needs?"

"There is an emergency meeting of the Quorum of Twelve in approximately three hours and as the Caprica representative you need to be there. I know about Admiral Tolan and I have heard that you were…are close friends; I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you."

Brooke Bowman did her best to pull herself together mentally. She may not have wanted to be on the Olympica for the meeting of the Quorum but she had taken on the job when asked and it was her responsibility to be there.

"Of course, I will be on the shuttle that takes Admirals Kronus and Sakura."

Olympica, Conference Room A-4:

The Colonial Line had intended for Olympica to serve as a venue for conferences and conventions whenever it was not on one of its cruises. In the aftermath of the Fall of the Colonies, the impromptu government used the conference rooms as meeting rooms.

In Conference Room A-4 sat the five officers who had come over to the Olympica in the aftermath of the Battle of Ostarsis. Rear Admirals Lewis Ware and Nicholas Tattnall were seated at the table in the center of the room along with Commander Jerome Cyprian, Commander Audra Ortiz, and Colonel Cinta Melati, none of the officers seemed to have much to say.

"Perhaps they're wondering what to do with me, it's not like I played nice with the Colonial government in the past," Melati said.

She had spent most of her adult life with the Erebea, a pirate/Tauron separatist group, and she was certain that even with the turn of events that the grudges against her and her group would not be so easily forgotten.

"Come off it, Melati; it's not like you're that important a prize. You may have been eight months ago, but not so much now," Ware said.

"Besides, if anyone gets to kill you it's going to be me. Gods know I've worked harder at it than anyone else the last three years," Tattnall said.

He had been the Commanding Officer of the Battlestar Libran. It had been his task to hunt down and eliminate the Erebea.

"We did have fun playing cat-and-mouse, Commander, but you know who else was hard at work trying to end my life," Melati said and she knew by the look on Tattnall's face that he had connected the dots as to whom she was referring.

"Yeah, and he came damn near close to pulling it off; if the Cylons had waited another day you and the Erebea would have been destroyed," Tattnall said.

"Then you wouldn't have had the Gemenon at your disposal," Melati countered.

The plan had been to take the decommissioned Gemenon and present it as a refurbished battlestar that the Erebea could use in its fight to create an independent Tauron. Once all of the Erebea had boarded, remote-detonated explosives would destroy the ship.

"How well do you get along with Arthur?" Ortiz asks, who has always felt that Wallace was undressing her with his eyes.

"We get along as well as you can expect a pair of lovers who also work together," Melati said.

"I've had to deal with him for almost eight months, I don't know how you managed it for all those years," Cyprian added.

Arthur Wallace, a member of the Ministry of Intelligence as well as the Colonial Fleet Special Unit, or CFSU, had led the other part of the two-pronged assault on the Erebea. The Colonial Fleet Special Unit was a unit composed of individuals not in the Colonial Military. However, they had received military training on par with the military's elite Special Forces.

"Amazing sex, Commander Cyprian; lots and lots of amazing sex. I mean Arthur can make my eyes roll back in my head. Besides, Arthur's equipment is…" Melati said.

She saw the looks come over the faces of both Cyprian and Tattnall. While she figured it may not be true, she could not help but think that both Cyprian and Tattnall were somewhat reserved regarding sex, she continued with, "…as well as the weapons and intel he provided for me when he was using his cover identity."

"I'm starting to think you do things like that just for the fun of it," Tattnall added.

"That's interesting. Here I am irritating the man who was trying for three years to kill me," she shot back at Tattnall.

"You can't say you didn't have it coming, just how many deaths were you and your group of pirates responsible for?" Tattnall asked.

Melati slammed her hand on the table.

"We are not pirates; we are a military group that dates back to the early days of Tauron. We have a sense of honor, which a Colonial officer like you could never understand!"

"Funny thing, Colonel Melati, you are wearing the uniform of the government you despise so much. You may want to say the word 'Colonial' in a way that doesn't sound like a slur," Tattnall said.

He began to realize that despite his best efforts his anger was starting to rise.

"It's a means to an end, Admiral. I have no love for the other eleven worlds, my only love was for Tauron and if working with you means I can get some revenge against the Cylons then I'll do what must be done."

"Just remember that you're in a real military now and not some group that gets to play soldier because they're having a decades-long temper tantrum."

"Do you know how many deaths are on your hands because of your three year war against my people? I can only hope that you face a judgment when you die and go to the afterlife."

Tattnall did not seem to be bothered by her words. He simply added, "If there is such a thing as an afterlife then I can take solace in knowing that you'll be right there beside me facing judgment. Let me give you a little history lesson. In fact, I brought this up when I was interviewing one of your people that we had captured. The Colonial Supreme Court ruled in Tauron vs. the United Colonies of Kobol that Tauron didn't have the right to secede from the Twelve Colonies!"

Melati looked unconvinced by this announcement and shot back with, "Well Commander, I am a student of history and let me tell you more about this little dispute over my colony. Before Tauron signed the Articles of Colonization it was assured that after the Cylon War was over it would again receive its independence. However, the federal government continued to use the threat of the Cylons to keep Tauron under the Articles! I also want to remind you that when the Supreme Court made that decision there was no judge from Tauron!"

The Supreme Court of the Twelve Colonies was made-up of nine judges, one from the following colonies: Caprica, Canceron, Picon, Leonis, Libran, Aquaria, Virgon, and Scorpia. However, Gemenon, Sagittaron, Tauron, and Aerilon had to share the last judge's seat.

"Considering the Cylons did attack after all it looks like you and your people lost that little argument didn't you? Did it ever occur to you that maybe we'd have in better shape to fight the Cylons if we hadn't been busy hunting down you and your band of separatists?" Tattnall shot back at her.

"If you think about it, if you weren't busy chasing after me then you would probably be dead," answered Melati.

"Hmm?" asked Tattnall. Mentally he had to ask what this 'reformed' pirate was talking about.

"Because you would have been destroyed over one of the colonies when the Cylon attack occurred. However, because you were hunting after the Erebea you weren't where you were supposed to be!" answered Melati as her hand went to the inside of her jacket pocket to pull out a ceremonial Tauron knife that she kept, but she stopped herself and thought better of such a move.

"I suppose we won't get far if we keep exchanging words like this."

"You're right, it won't do us much good if we go down this path," Tattnall said as he got his emotions back in check.

"You two were going at it as much as Commander Charka and I did back on the Ark Royal," Ortiz said as she reflected on the events that had transpired that caused her to take action to relieve Charka of command of the Ark.

"Let's not talk about that too much," Ware said as he hoped to send the conversation into another direction.

"This is the largest collection of ships I've seen grouped together at one time; Admiral Tolan has put an armada together."

"It makes you wonder," Ortiz began, "Is the reason we survived in part because this fleet has kept the Cylons busy?"

"It's a distinct possibility," Cyprian said before adding, "We were fairly safe as long as the toasters didn't get too curious about the Little Big Horn Nebula but I'm sure that if they had put all of their resources into it then they would have probably found us."

"I feel safer knowing that we've found this group of survivors," Tattnall admitted before continuing with, "When things have settled down here I want to tell Governor Rush about Amasen."

"I wonder how he'll take the news," Melati wondered.

Amasen was a space station constructed in secret by then-Fleet Admiral Jonas Stryker. It was to be used as a base of operations should the Cylons attack after the Cimtar Peace Accords had been signed. It was Cyprian and the Battlestar Stryker that had come across the base the day the Colonies fell in the Cylon attacks.

Solace, Cabin CA-132:

"Mrs. Bowman, we need to get back to the Olympica," Kronus said gently as both he and Sakura moved towards the door.

She nodded and walked over to the sofa where Emily Tolan sat quietly sobbing in the arms of her older sister, Andrea Graystone. Brooke sat down beside Emily and lightly put her arm on her friend's shoulder, "I have to go, but I promise I'll be back as soon as the Quorum is done meeting."

'Artimus what would you do if you were in this situation?' Brooke asked herself as she tried to keep her emotions in check. If there was one thing she knew her husband would do it would be to give those around him the very appearance of calm and professionalism.

Scott Tolan had been a friend who had held a special place in her heart, and the thought that he could be gone for good had yet to truly sink in. She knew he was probably more confident in his abilities as an officer than most and had no doubt that he would return from whatever battle he was in. Had he perhaps been too confident? She drove the idea from her mind; she had to remind herself that both Scott and her husband were simply missing and unaccounted for. She could not start equating that with death, even a small glimmer of hope was better to hold onto than having no hope at all.

No, there was still a chance that he was still out there somewhere. The Colossus could simply be somewhere out there with the crew unable to get the ship's FTL drives running again. She fought and finally managed to get her inner turmoil under control. There was a Quorum meeting that she was required to be at and she could not afford to make snap judgments without knowing all the facts.

She looked at Andrea and the two women made eye contact. Over the years she had gotten to know her well enough to where the two could be considered somewhat friends. It seemed as though Andrea was able to read the thoughts that were going through her mind.

"We'll be here with Em, they need you over there on the Olympica," Andrea said with a smile that she hoped would reassure Brooke.

"Thanks Andie," Brooke said as she turned to leave the room with Kronus and Sakura.

After the door had closed behind them they started walking down the corridor towards elevator that would take them to the shuttle bay where the Raptor was waiting to take them to the Olympica.

"I would like to know what exactly is going on?" she asked the two flag officers.

"So far we only know that the Colossus did not return from Ostarsis," Kronus said before adding, "We've sent the Victorious out to the Ragan System to see if the ship made the jump to the emergency coordinates."

"Admiral Sakura, what happened out there?" she asked.

Sakura was quiet momentarily before she said, "We were getting our asses handed to us by the Cylons. We had the initial advantage and we used it as best we could, but once the prisoners started coming up from the surface they brought in their baseships and it turned into a brawl."

"How bad of a brawl was it?" Brooke asked though she had an idea.

"It's the kind of boxing match where the boxer comes out with two black eyes, a cut lip, and a nose that's broken and bloody. The fight was so bad that Admiral Tolan sent a distress call out in the clear where everyone could hear it, that was how desperate the fight had become."

"I want to know what you think; did he get away from the Cylons?"

"In my opinion, he could have made it away. Before we jumped away there was a mention of the Colossus having trouble with their FTL drive, I prefer to think that the crew got it working in time to get away. The Cylons were throwing everything they had at us; I just hope that he was able to get away to safety."

(Author's Note: Certain characters, such as Arthur Wallace, can be found in Allen Knott's 'Battlestar Leonidas' series.)