Author's note: Even this day finally came. The day the last chapter of this story came out. I must admit, it did not go easy, writing it. Lack of inspiration, troubles with the cloud that somehow made me lose parts of the chapter, and a lot of other things that kept me busy and unable to write as much as I'd wish. But it's finally here, and I'm quite happy about it. After all, it means I finally made it to the very end. The story now has an end.

Hopefully, the end will be to your taste. Also, keep in mind that after more than a year, it would be good to skim over the previous chapter, just to refresh your memories after so long (sorry about that, my bad).

Thanks to my beta, and hope you'll enjoy this latest chapter.

The Colonies

"Jerome Kroll, you say," Nagala spat the name.

"Yep. That's the One," Jack O'Neill answered, strongly emphasizing the one part.

Inside the comfy living room of the recently acquired apartment, the convalescing little bundle wrapped in a blanket known as his future wife Lira and he listened to their guest's explanation of who their enemy number one was. Or at least he tried to absorb the information because his exhausted mind could retain truly little of it. Although the ridiculousness of the told fable had something to do with it, the main reason why he couldn't focus on the narrative was a month of intense sickness that had drained his energies to the core.

There were only so many times one could cough before having had enough.

'How is he expecting us to believe in this bunch of nonsense?' he thought, not wanting to say it at loud. They had forced O'Neill to come to their home instead of the presidential office. Worse even, they didn't even take their pajamas off, showing the VIP guest from another world extremely poor hospitality. It was because the flu had lasted so long and had drained so much vitality that they could barely function properly; much less entertain their guest appropriately.

"How do you expect us to believe in this pile of crap!?" Lira shouted from underneath the blanket, clearly not sharing any of his concerns about proper etiquette.

"Hey there!" Jack said, startled. "I forgot you were in the room with us."

Nagala could believe it. At one point, he had made the same unforgivable mistake. He didn't realize that the blanket on the couch wasn't just a blanket he forgot to tidy up. Instead, it hid a small person underneath. Consequently, while watching a Sagittarian priest giving a provocative interview that irritated him considerably, he farted with all his might. He even leaned heavily on a side—the wrong side—before erupting, to the utter displeasure of his future wife lying three feet away. His excuse for why he forgot she was there made it worse as it incurred even greater wrath coming from underneath the trembling blanket. If she weren't so exhausted from the flu, she would have physically punished him. He was sure of it.

"Of course I'm here! Where else would I be with this flu?" Lira said, irritation dripping with each spoken word. O'Neill's remark might have refreshed her memories of his earlier transgression.

"Oh, now that you mentioned the flu, I've brought something that can make you feel better," Jack said while taking that something out of his breast pocket.

Nagala wasn't impressed. It looked like a mint dispenser. "What's that?"

"These are pills that will lessen your symptoms. You need to take one each day," Jack explained. "Don't take two, though. It won't make you feel twice better. It would make you feel worse instead."

"Do you expect us to swallow an unknown pill—" Nagala began talking but then turned abruptly. "Foolish woman! What are you doing!?"

With blinding speed, she had crawled from underneath the blanket, grabbed the dispenser, and downed one pill without even needing any water.

"I'm taking the pill; what else!" she replied.

"We don't know what it is! We need to test it first!" Nagala said.

"I've been sick for more than a month! I can't take it anymore!" Lira shouted. "Besides, do you think the Terrans will go to such lengths to poison us at this late hour? If they want to hurt us, they only need to sit back and relax while the disease devastates the Colonies."

"You could have waited for at least one day. Then, we could have made some other desperate schmuck try the pill first and see if they croak," Nagala retorted. To him, that seemed like a reasonable course of action.

"Are you calling me a schmuck!?" Lira said but then stopped speaking abruptly. "Wow! Is it possible the pill is working already?"

"It sure is. The person who made the drug told me it takes only seconds for it to start providing relief. In the next half hour, the medicine will heal a great deal of the damage the pathogen has caused," Jack said. "We are trying to make the drug even better, but there's a risk of the nanites inside your body going haywire, so we must proceed carefully."

"Nanites?" Nagala asked while taking a pill.

"Why are you taking it?" Lira protested after seeing him gulp down the tiny pill. "Didn't you scream at me for the same reason?"

"Shut up. The damage has already been done, and since you didn't go tits up and are getting better, I'm convinced that there are merits in taking it right away," Nagala said. He then started thinking about where he'd been at. "What was it that I wanted to ask? Ah, that's right. What are these nanites that you've just mentioned?"

"You're calling them nanomachines. We call them nanites because it's shorter and it sounds cooler," Jack said, smirking.

"So, you're saying that a high dosage of this medicine you're making can make the nanomachines go berserk," Nagala stated.

"Fine, you don't have to call them nanites," Jack said, a little disappointed. "And yes, they can go berserk because of the medicine. It's because of the way the drug works. You see, the nanites' main job is to keep the virus in check, limiting the damage it does to the body. That way, it prolongs a person's suffering. So, we made a drug that, believe it or not, amplifies the effect the nanites have on the virus, which further inhibits it. But too much of it can cause side effects.

"The second part of the drug is meant to heal the body. It is an enzyme that we developed based on a drug called Tretonin. The drug has remarkable curative properties, but we could not use it until recently. While healing, it would also destroy a person's immune system," Jack explained. "Now that we solved the problem, the drug has become extremely useful to us. It has helped cure many people back on Earth and elsewhere in the galaxy."

The Terrans had made a miracle drug. Plus, they had people smart enough to understand and even manipulate nanomachines. Those self-proclaimed geniuses he was paying top cubits to do the same job unequivocally said that nanomachines could not be controlled. They were dead wrong. They also never thought of strengthening them instead of eradicating them. The Terrans exploited a flaw in the nanomachines. It was something even the Cylons, or rather, Jerome Kroll did not foresee during the pathogen's creation process.

"It's amazing. I'm already feeling better. To think that the nanomachines, an integral part of the pathogen, are helping to keep the disease in check," Nagala said. "These nanomachines, if fully understood, could become a tool for healing people instead of harming them."

"We already have made prototypes of nanites displaying curative properties, but we are overly cautious about them. If they go haywire, or if some people find a way to weaponize them, it could turn ugly," Jack stated. "As said before, we have better ways to cure diseases."

The man must have felt his intention to put scientists on the task. But Nagala also knew he had a point. Everything that humans could weaponize, sooner or later, would be.

While he was contemplating the usefulness and danger of nanites, Lira spoke in an unfriendly tone. "At what price are you going to sell us the drug we need to heal the billions of people afflicted by this shitty disease? We are talking about an equal number of pills we will need daily. Quite the lucrative business you have here if you ask me."

Now that Nagala heard Lira say it, he could only dread what kind of price tag those pills would have attached to them. Even at one-hundredth of a cubit per pill, they could still end up bankrupt, even more so than they already were. The worst was that they could not refuse whatever the Terrans' demand was.

"We won't charge you," Jack said with a smile. He must have anticipated they would ask about the price. "We will teach you how to make the part of the drug that manipulates the nanites. Furthermore, we will provide you with all the pills you'll need until your production pipeline is operational."

"That's quite the generous offer. What about the medicine's other components? The one based on that Tretonin drug that you've mentioned piqued my interest," Lira asked. She still sounded skeptical. Understandable since too much good news was coming their way. Anyone would think that there's a catch to it.

"That part is a little trickier to understand. First, the second part of the drug isn't necessary. It's just something we included as a booster, only needed to heal the body during the treatment's initial phase. After taking it a few times, the body should return to its peak condition. At that point, the pathogen will be restrained and unable to cause as much damage as before. After that, the body should keep healing normally even without ingesting the drug. Even though still infected with the virus, people should feel at ninety percent of their usual self. However, we will keep supplying the medicine for rare cases where the patient doesn't improve as much as it normally should. So, you don't have to worry about a shortage."

"Which means you won't teach us how to make the second one. Why's that?" Nagala asked. What Jack had explained sounded all great and reasonable. Still, the underline was that they were not willing to hand over the recipe for what could be a miraculous drug capable of healing countless diseases.

"Well, for starter, you would need to have access to Goa'uld larvae to produce it or access to a matter synthesizer capable of creating the drug on a molecular level. But unfortunately, the larvae are impossible for you to get your hands on—there aren't as many around as in the past, so even we can't get them easily—and a matter synthesizer is an advanced piece of technology that we are not willing to share with anyone, so you're out of luck when it comes to creating the drug. But, as I've said before, we will supply an adequate amount of it. Furthermore, we are constantly making both drugs in copious amounts. So, you don't have to worry about a shortage."

"I don't like to be reliant on a drug only to have a resemblance of a normal life," Nagala commented.

"Who would?" Jack said. "That's why we are working on finding a cure, and we are confident that we will eventually find it. It is just that it's tough to eradicate such a pathogen. I mean, even right now, we still have the pesky flu on our planet. No one is dying from it, no matter what strand we are talking about, but people still get sick when it's the season."

"I guess we should be happy how things are right now. We are certain the Colonies won't perish," Nagala said. Without outside help, it was doubtful if they would have found a cure before the Colonies were devastated.

"Yeah, that's great, but I now also have to give you the bad news," Jack said.

"Bad news? What bad news?" Lira asked, perking up her ears.

Since the pill took effect, Lira became quite lively and ready to enjoy the conversation as an active participant. He was happy to see it. Nagala knew the disease would not kill her, not physically at least. But in recent days, her spirit had undoubtedly dived. He was glad she was getting to her usual self.

"We can't let this pathogen get out," Jack said.

Nagala remained silent. He began nodding, fully understanding. He knew what the man was implying. "We are going to be quarantined."

"Yes. The Cyrannus system will be put under quarantine, with the outer limit set at a one light-year distance," Jack said.

"For how long?" Nagala asked.

"That's a tricky question. According to our scientists, it will take a year to find a way to purge the pathogen out of your bodies while making sure you can't be reinfected. As you can see, I'm standing here exposed to the pathogen, but I'm not worried. That's because we already have a way to remove it from the body. So, after I get back to my ship, that's the first thing that I'll have to go through. But that's not the biggest hurdle. Since there's no pathogen on my ship, I won't get reinfected. However, that cannot be said for you who are surrounded by the virus. So, we must find a way to prevent all the Colonials from getting sick again. That's only the first step. Afterward, we must put great effort into eradicating the pathogen from the surface of your planets. Only after accomplishing that can we say we are accomplishing something.

"Well, that's at least what those smarter people than me I have back home are telling me. In the end, we think it will take between three and five years to make sure the pathogen is gone for good."

"Five years. That's a lot of time to be unable to travel freely," Nagala said.

"Is it?" Jack asked. "From where I'm standing, your race spent thousands of years in your corner of the galaxy without venturing farther than a dozen light-years. Granted, you didn't have the know-how to travel the stars the entire time, but you can't convince me you're the explorer type who's itching to get out there. Besides, with the reconstruction of your worlds and the flood of new technologies that your scientist Robert Desai developed, you'll spend the next five years just dealing with that. Five years will pass in a blink of an eye. Also, don't forget that I said it would take five years at the most. It might also take three. In three years, you might be able to roam the galaxy.

"But I also understand that the situation isn't ideal. You must have realized, how nasty this virus is, especially to a galaxy filled with humans spread on many worlds. We, the Terrans, might be able to brave this disease with relative ease—some other races might also be—but if this thing gets out, thousands of worlds will suffer greatly, with none of them knowing what to do. We also don't know how other nonhuman species would react to the virus. They might get sick, and the virus might mutate into an even greater threat; who knows. All of that means that we need to keep this thing bottled up now that we can."

"I understand," Nagala said. "I don't like being imprisoned, but I understand why we have to be."

It was all the Cylon Jerome Kroll's fault, or so he liked to think, but the truth was more complicated than that. The whole affair went back fifty years into the past. It involved the stupidity of many Colonials of the time. It was a completely different story now that they knew the tin cans were holders of human consciousnesses (through some voodoo bullshit that he didn't quite get or cared for, which involved creating digital avatars). Scholars would have to spend decades discussing the ethical ramifications behind the Cylons' appearance. They would have to decide who was at fault and then bury the truth.

The public could never know the whole truth.

None of it would have been an issue if the Cylons were just machines from the grounds up built in a lab by a bespectacled and sleep-deprived scientist too eager to create an AI to realize the intrinsic danger lurking behind their creation. Then, everything would be glossed over with, at the most, the public opinion vilifying the scientist and maybe a few of their superiors for their irresponsible conduct. In that case, no one could blame the Colonies for trying to get rid of the newly created soulless menace bent on eradicating all human life. Instead, the other races out there would praise them as saviors of the human race.

And the problem did become just that. Until recently—and as far as the public knew—no one in the whole universe could judge them for their actions but themselves. However, now they learned the truth, and Nagala did not like the feeling of it. Not only the Terrans, but it appeared that other advanced human races, many capable of space travel, existed in the Milky Way galaxy. In the future, once they met, those races could use the Colonial's actions in conjunction with the Cylons against them. Those races could judge their morality, and he wasn't sure if he liked the verdict.

On the other hand, he was planning to be long retired by then. It meant that someone else would have to deal with the consequences.

"I know you're now laser-focused on the disease, but you also need to look at the bright side. Namely, the fact that the war is over," O'Neill said.

"Are you certain there are no survivors?" Lira asked.

"We can never be a hundred percent certain, but we did a pretty thorough job of cleaning up after your last battle," O'Neill said.

O'Neill had already explained how the Terrans had spent the last few months tagging the Cylon ships to find their assets. Then, after the decisive battle that his people had fought and won, they swept all strugglers, making sure the Cylon menace was truly over. They had also destroyed the Resurrection Hub that allowed the Cylons to be reborn. It was the safest way to ensure the Cylons never become a calamity ever again.

One could almost say that by destroying the Hub, the Terrans neutered the Cylons.

Nagala genuinely wanted the Cylons to have perished, all of them. Still, it seemed his wish would remain only that, an unfulfilled desire. "That's great, but you also mentioned that a group of Cylons joined the Expeditionary Fleet. Who are they?"

"Yes. The Final Five and a few other models. They broke free from Jerome Kroll even before the attack on the Helios Delta system. They are now with the Expeditionary Fleet," O'Neill said.

"I don't know how to feel about them," Lira said. "I would sleep better knowing that no Cylons are around."

"As you have recently learned, the Cylons are not mere machines that can be disposed of because you want to feel more at ease. On the contrary, they have evolved into fully sentient biological lifeforms who need to have the same rights as all other sentient beings. One of them even gave birth to a healthy girl. I must point out that she has succeeded in such an astonishing feat only because of the indispensable help provided by one Colonial who clearly doesn't know when to keep it tucked in his pants! With that, it's easy to understand what the actions we can and cannot take are. They fulfill all the necessary criteria to be recognized as sentient beings. Just like we, the Terrans, and you, the Colonials are.

"It's the same just as with the 13th colony before they decided to kill each other for unknown reasons. You also can't blame the Final Five except for showing poor judgment when they approached the Cylons. Giving them new bodies with the ability to resurrect endlessly even before checking if any of them had some psychological problems wasn't very smart on their part. I think we can all agree on that point. But, even with that massive error in judgment, they still have committed no crime you'd have to resent them for. Or rather, if they did commit a crime, it was against the Cylons for trying to stop their foolishness.

"Well, I do think the crucial point here is that that whack-job Jerome Kroll is a goner. No matter what the surviving Cylons might or might not do in the future, nothing will come close to the evil that guy brought," O'Neill explained at length.

"And you are certain they cannot resurrect anymore?" Lira asked.

"As said, we destroyed their precious Resurrection Hub, and only the Final Five know how to make one. Without it, whoever still lives, they're at their last chance at life," O'Neill concluded.

"That's good. Living beings are not meant to have unlimited lives," Lira said.

"Well, that's a notion we will not discuss today; it might become awkward. So instead, let's deal with the last issue related to the Colonies I'm seeing, shall we? After that, I can finally go home," O'Neill said.

"What issue are you referring to?" Nagala asked.

"That would be that thorn in your backside known as the Sagittarians," O'Neill said, looking reluctant to talk about it. "I mean, everyone has their whack-jobs they want to keep locked up—we, the Terrans, are no different. But the Sagittarians, when combined with access to the pathogen, don't leave us with a sense of security."

Nagala knew what O'Neill was referring to. Just an hour ago, they had watched a disgusting interview a priest from Sagittarion had given. During the interview, the priest sounded seditious, accusing the government of spreading lies to frighten the masses. Lies about the Lords of Kobol and lies about the pathogen that, as far as the man said, it was punishment coming from the Lords because they were spreading falsehoods about them. It was the usual crap that often came from Sagittarion that regular folk would hear through one ear and let out through the other. However, these were turbulent times, which meant that the number of people with a short fuse had increased considerably.

While Nagala could deal with the remaining eleven worlds and their troubles, he could not deal with Sagittarion and the lunatics that lived there. Too many people were listening to the crap the priests from that planet spat daily. Even those on Sagittarion who disagreed would be compelled to believe in their truth or else would pay a great price—one usually reserved to those judged as heretics.

The result was talk of the planet seceding. Usually, that would be a day worth celebrating, one in which torrents of champagne flowed ceaselessly for a whole week! However, they could not celebrate. The nutjobs on that planet said they shouldn't treat the illness because it was the Lords' will for them to suffer for their transgression. Therefore, they shouldn't take any cure until the Lords forgave them, with no date on exactly when that would be or even how the Lords were planning to inform them that it was the right time.

It was cruel to think that it might be natural selection at work, but he could not help but have a drifting thought running in that direction. The idiots were segregating themselves on a single world and refusing to take the cure. Those people would perish in great numbers, no matter how one looked at it. The more pragmatic part of him thought that it wouldn't be such a bad thing. But he shouldn't feel like that, if for no other reason than because the process would last decades, in which time the Terrans would keep the quarantine.

"So, once we have the cure, we must somehow force the Sagittarians to swallow the pill," Lira went straight to the crux of the matter while he was still lost in thoughts.

"Well, if they decide not to take the medicine that I gave you, they wouldn't be able to provide much of a resistance when we deliver the cure, would they?" O'Neill said, implying a tricky course of action. "They will be too weak. So, you can shove the last pill down their throats with ease."

He knew the man was spitting nonsense on purpose. His race did not look like people who would force others to do things against their beliefs. However, his sentence did point to a glaring issue. How were they to force unwilling people to take the cure? "Why do I have the sudden omen that my next three to five years in office will be particularly challenging? I think the best thing for me is to start planning new elections. The war's over. No need for me to keep being the President, right? Yes! I should allow others to sit in the President's seat and enjoy the benefits. Yep, I should get right on it."

"Ah, that's bad. He's panicking," Lira said, continuing with a calm and soothing voice. "Dear, listen to me. You know as well as I do that now's not the time for new elections. You're stuck with being the President. So, resign yourself, at least until this crisis's over."

"Why? Someone else can do it. There must be at least a few capable people among the billions that we still have that can replace me," Nagala said, almost pleading.

"You have established contact with the Terrans, and they are willing to deal with you. But they are also our lifeline. We can't risk losing them, and you know it."

"I get it; I get it. I'm stuck being the President for life, aren't I?" Nagala said dejectedly. He was looking at Lira. "W-why aren't you saying that I'm wrong? Hey! Don't look away! Say that I'm wrong!"

"You're wrong," Lira responded.

"You're a bad liar! How do you expect me to believe you when you say it like that!?" Nagala said.

"What do you want me to say? No way people will let you resign now. There are even rumors of making you President for life!" Lira said.

"No way! Why would they?" he said, frightened at the nasty prospect.

"Why would they? They had elections before, and what did that get them? Adar!" she retorted. "They understand that once you get a good one, you should do whatever it takes to keep him."

"Oh wow! That's quite the pickle you're in, Nagala," Jack added but then frowned. "Wait! I'm in a similar situation. That's not good."

Lira didn't care about Jack's comment. She simply kept explaining. "Besides, who would even want to run for President with the situation we have right now? The Colonies are in shambles, with the National debt meaner than ever before. There's a nasty virus that makes people feel like crap. News is spreading that what we knew to be true from our time on Kobol is closer to a fable you tell your kids before sleep than hard, indisputable facts! And, as the icing on the cake, the Sagittarians just went in full-blown lunatic mode! Why would anyone want to run for President during such a climate?"

"I knew it. I'm done for. I'll die as the President of the Colonies, some two or three years from now," Nagala said, now fully depressed.

"Why are you talking about dying in a few years? You're not even fifty, and your last check-up before the pathogen struck showed you're as healthy as a horse!" Lira shouted angrily.

"The stress will kill me, I'm sure of it. To me, this year was already too much. Two or three years of dealing with politicians every day will be the end of me. At one point, my liver will just eat itself up," Nagala said.

"If that happens, we will get you a new liver. So, no need to be worried about that," Lira said, then turned towards O'Neill. "I'm sorry. He gets like that sometimes. He isn't particularly good at dealing with politicians or people in general. It causes him to produce excessive amounts of gastric acid. Sometimes he also gets the urge to shoot people, which makes him feel even worse because he knows he can't do that."

"I understand him completely. There were times when I thought my job would cost me my health, sanity, and even my life; I still do think that sometimes. I also passionately believe there's too much paperwork in it," O'Neill concluded.

"See, he gets it," Nagala said.

"Oh, shush, you. Be depressed more quietly," Lira reprimanded him before turning back to O'Neill. "Let's go back to the main topic while my future husband comes to terms with his unavoidable future. Is what the President fears true? About you not lifting the quarantine if Sagittarion isn't disease-free first?"

"Of course," O'Neill said, a matter of fact. "What point is there in a quarantine that works only for eleven out of the twelve infected worlds when the one still with the disease is enough to infect the rest of the galaxy?"

"I get that, but if they decide to split from the Colonies—"

"It doesn't work like that. We are not interested in politics or legal trickeries. The Cyrannus System is under quarantine for as long as the Cyrannus System has the pathogen," O'Neill concisely surmised the situation.

"He's right, you know," Nagala interjected. "No one sane would lift a quarantine while leaving one planet with infected people still on it. Too risky. Not that I know what to do if the Sagittarians refuse to take the cure. Or if they decided to split from the Colonies."

"I can't give you an answer. Although, if they do separate, that might also present a solution," O'Neill said.

"How so?" Lira was quicker to ask.

"Well, from what I know of your history, you went to war with each other for much less. Am I wrong?" Jack said.

He wasn't wrong. Any kind of reason was good for the Colonies to wage war against each other. At least before the Cylons, which made them unite against them, their common foe. However, if the Sagittarians seceded, they would even have a valid reason for attacking. They could spin it in whichever way they wished. "We could say that we are doing it because we want to save the people on Sagittarion who were denied the cure. That could easily work," Nagala said.

"Are you contemplating doing that?" Lira said. "Do you intend to go to war with the Sagittarians?"

"It's not like I want to. But, as a last resort, I see it as a practical solution. But even more so, I see it as the responsible thing to do from an ethical standpoint."

"What wacky logic did you use to get to that conclusion?" Lira asked.

"It's quite simple, my dear. It would go something like this. Since some freaks have banned the cure, we feel it is the government's responsibility to ensure the people's safety. People should receive the best care available to us to keep living healthy and prosperous lives! The government also pledges to put such lunatics in prison to prevent them from harming anyone else ever again!" Nagala said with conviction.

Silence reigned in the room briefly.

"I'm stunned. I'm stunned that I'm fine with your reasoning. Somewhere deep down, I still know that it's wrong to go to war with our fellow Colonials, no matter who they are, but—" Lira stopped talking, unsure on how to end her sentence.

"You see! You've already worked it out," O'Neill said while clapping his hands together. "Not everything, but I can see you're making progress here. You already know what to do if they secede. Now start thinking of what to do if they don't."

"Oh, that's easy. The instant we have the medicine, and it's been proven that it's safe, I spit out a presidential order requiring every Colonial to take it," Nagala said.

"You're quite the forceful guy. I like it!" O'Neill said, nodding in approval.

"Hey! Don't encourage him! It is already bad as it is," Lira said, desperate. "Ugh! With the two of you so like-minded, my voice of reason is squashed at once."

"What voice of reason? You agreed with my reasoning just a minute ago," Nagala stated.

"Well, that's about all from me. I'm out," O'Neill said while slowly getting up. "You'll receive a nice shipment of medicine shortly. It should already be en route. Let's hope the Sagittarians notice the rest of the Colonies getting better and that to keep suffering isn't the way to go. That, I think, would be for the best. Oh! I almost forgot!" O'Neill said while taking out something from his pocket. He put it on the low table.

"What's that?" Nagala asked.

"A communication device. Now that your war's over, we are stepping back—no point in sticking around. So, we'll leave automated systems at a one light-year mark around your system. They will keep monitoring space to see if someone didn't get the memo and decided to leave the Colonies anyway. Still, we won't know what's going on in this part of the galaxy for the rest, which means that you'll need a way to contact us if something bad happens. That thing is for that reason."

"That's a good option to have," Nagala said while looking at the small but precious device.

"Well, see you sometimes," O'Neill said, saluting while disappearing in a flash of light.

"I so don't like that he can barge in whenever he pleases. I'd also like to have that teleportation system so that I can do the same to others," Nagala said.

"Who cares! I'm only glad the talk went well. I mean, the only bad part is that we are under quarantine, which isn't the worst that could have happened. We don't have the money to be wandering the galaxy anyway," Lira said.

"I'm not sure our economy will be strong enough for that even five years from now. But, well, with the energy source Desai came up with and a few more of his inventions, we might be able to get back on our feet remarkably quickly. So, in ten years, we may even stand better than before the war," Nagala said.

Before the war, the Colonies were at the brink of a major crisis. The Cyrannus system was running out of Tylium. Now they had easy-to-make fusion reactors and crystals capable of storing large amounts of energy. As a result, they didn't need to rely on Tylium as much as before.

"That's looking too much into the future. There are too many unknowns to make an exact prediction. We have our hands full just with restoring Caprica, Geminon, and the devastated worlds in the Helios Delta system," Lira said. However, something still seemed to be bothering her.

"What is it?" Nagala asked.

"I'm unsure. Everything was cleaned up so neatly. Wars aren't like that. And the Terrans being all friendly and helping doesn't seem right. They never wanted to get involved, but they helped clean up any remaining Cylon that could threaten us in the future. Why? They could have left that job to us. It's our mess in the first place. Also, everything that they said about our past: about the Lanteans, their goals, and what the purpose for our ancestors to be taken from Earth was. I don't know what to think of it. It all fits well, but why did they bother so much with it all without gaining anything?"

"I don't have all the answers. They might have done eighty percent of the things you're worried about out of their curiosity. The rest might have been as much out of altruism as because they saw the need for it. We don't want to have to deal with the Cylons in the future, but the Terrans should have the same reservations. That might have been the reason why they helped clean up the galaxy of the Cylon menace, especially of that Jerome Kroll guy. They don't want to have a madman around, no more than we do.

"I'm also not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. But, for now, we should feel lucky everything ended as it did and work hard to restore the Colonies. That way, when the quarantine's lifted, we can venture into space with an economy capable of supporting our fleet."

"There's so much that we need to do that I can't see the end of it," Lira commented.

The Colonials had a national debt that could not be returned within a year or two. It would be complicated even if they did not have to deal with the devastated worlds. With it, three years was the bare minimum before they could start repaying the large number of war bonds issued during the past year. Companies who had exchanged their liquidity for war bonds should also be thanked in addition to being repaid. But, of course, the best way to express gratitude to them was to give them lucrative contracts that would pay off in spades.

Only then could the Colonies start thinking of venturing into the unknown. From what he now knew, the galaxy wasn't such a peaceful place they could travel with an unprepared, understaffed, and under-armed Fleet. They would have to make sure they have enough ships to be able to protect themselves before going around meeting with other people. In addition, there could be many hostile races that were also technologically advanced enough to pose a threat.

But that would not come to pass if they didn't deal with their domestic problems first and foremost. The Sagittarians were the biggest but not the only difficulty. Even though Geminon was quiet now, everyone knew they were deeply religious people. They, too, did not like hearing rumors that contradicted the old teachings. Sure. They were not fruitcakes on the level of the Sagittarians; Lira was proof enough of that. But even on that planet, many would disagree with the way the Colonies were managed.

"One step at a time," he said. "One step at a time."

The Expeditionary Fleet

It had been quite a ride—one that had lasted a full twenty minutes.

Adama could not believe the speed at which they traveled from Earth to Kobol. The worst part was that the little aliens were rubbing it in their faces, saying that it only took that long because they had to tow their needlessly heavy battlestars. Granted, it was quite the feat to tractor a ship like the Galactica, even if done by a big vessel like their flagship Valhalla. He was clueless on how a spaceship could be tractored by another without cables, though, and the explanation he receives meant nothing to him. He knew even less how they could pull it at such a ridiculous speed, no less but through a dimension that he had never seen or heard of before. The aliens explained the dimension was known as hyperspace. Not that it helped him understand it any better.

Still, the little alien—Thor was his name—did not need to mention their ships being overly heavy. There was no reason to be mean. After seeing several ships from other races, he knew as well how ridiculous their ships looked. People would think of them as powerful, but only until seeing what was under to hood. But there was no point in being mad at things that he could not change. He had simply needed to let it go and enjoy the ride.

The discussion with the Terrans on Earth had long ended. They learned a bunch of new facts, most of which not to their liking. Confused as they were, and because the Cyrannus System was under lockdown, they got shipped to Kobol, where they were to stay put far from the Colonies. A nasty virus sent by that psycho Jerome Kroll was plaguing their home system. He didn't even know how to feel about the guy. He never even met him, yet he learned so many fascinating facts about him. Should he think of him as a Colonial lunatic who should have died a long time ago or as a Cylon lunatic with nothing in common with the Colonials? In the end, he just decided to think of him as a lunatic as the guy's most glaring trait and leave it at that.

He couldn't go back to his beloved Colonies, just the same as everyone else inside the Expeditionary Fleet, no matter how loud or how long they protested. Both the ears of the Terrans and Asgard must be ringing right now. He knew he was, for he had to listen to those same complaints from the people in the Fleet. They had calmly enjoyed the voyage back until they realized the Cyrannus system wasn't their destination.

President Roslin didn't look any better, even though she had to listen to at least double the number of complaints. Why could people not understand that it wasn't in their power to do something about the situation? Besides, who would even want to go back to a place where a pathogen made people feel like crap and with no cure on the horizon?

He was frustrated, Roslin was frustrated, and everybody else was frustrated. Who wouldn't after such a long and utterly fruitless voyage across thousands of light-years? They had to settle on a planet with no Internet, TV, modern communication devices, buildings, roads, or any other commodities people in the Fleet desperately desired and vehemently demanded.

He understood them. After being cooped up inside ships for a whole year under the constant threat of the Cylons or the occasional bad guy found roaming the galaxy, they wanted to go home. But sadly, that was not going to happen for at least another three years. That was the smallest amount of time it would take to clear the Cyrannus system of the pathogen. It meant they needed to make a living on another planet, which meant they needed to start anew.

And Kobol wasn't a bad choice.

The Terrans were generous. Together with their friends, the Asgard, they had worked tirelessly to repair their ships enough to be towed without breaking apart. After reaching Kobol, he learned that their new friends had brought many materials, both for their vessels and for construction on the planet's surface. That had allowed them to start building their new homes without delay. It meant they would not starve and could make a living on Kobol.

Without the Internet, but it would still be cozy living.

But the question was, did he want to start anew. He was a man in his fifties. If he took care of his health, he could live for another thirty or maybe forty years. Most of which he could spend productively, which meant that he had the choice to start a new life in a different world. Also, he would not be starting said life alone. They had already talked about it, and no matter where they ended up, he and Roslin would keep living together. They both agreed that what they had wasn't just a passing fling that had spurred due to the especially harsh circumstances they found themselves in during this past year.

He was at a crossroads where he needed to choose where he would spend the remainder of his life. Would he resettle on Kobol for good, or would he spend the next three to five years on the planet just anticipating the day he could finally go back to the Colonies?

Adama sighed as he and Roslin looked from a higher vantage point, a small hill, at the city that aliens were building. It was a strange sight to behold. Besides the view of the half-done city, he could hear the sporadic raptor passing overhead. Both looked equally out of place on this otherwise untamed, verdant world. But then he would look even higher and notice the imposing Asgard flagship effortlessly resisting gravity as if it were a minor feat, routinely performed. It was terrific—no exhaust or turbulence of any kind caused by engines. The ship stood afloat defiantly, unconcerned of its ludicrous mass that should have pulled it towards the ground.

One would think nothing could surprise him anymore. Not after the speed at which they had traveled to Kobol and how the massive ship Valhalla could enter the atmosphere without crashing. But that changed after seeing it use strange light beams to build the city below magically. Entire buildings would come into existence in a matter of minutes. It seemed the ship's traveling speed wasn't the only thing at which it was fast.

"Are you sure about this?" Roslin asked.

"I think I am," he replied, still with an ounce of indecision. "I don't like the idea of putting my life on hold for three years, which would be the case if we were only waiting for the day when we can go back to the Colonies."

"Starting a new life on the planet from where all Colonials came. It doesn't sound bad, but I'm sure there will be many hurdles that we will have to overcome. I think many will decide to leave after the quarantine in the Cyrannus system is lifted, which will leave even fewer people on Kobol."

"First, I'm not sure if saying we would be starting from scratch is correct. Not with what the Terrans had given us. We have enough raw materials to build us quite a luxurious settlement—one that could one day become a great city," he said.

"What's the second?" Roslin asked.

"And second, I don't much care if some, or maybe even most people, decide to go back to the Colonies. If the people I care about stay here, that's enough for me," he stated while watching his son and Kara walking some distance away. So many had come on this hill to witness the building of the city. It was better than staying inside it while those Asgard beams went everywhere doing stuff he could not understand. It did not matter that the Asgard assured them that it would be safe.

"They seem like a good match," Roslin said as she saw where Adama was looking.

"Let's not jinx it. Those two can look great today, start fighting like worst enemies tomorrow, and behave like total strangers on the third day," he said.

"That's true. Truthfully, I never saw them as a couple," Roslin confessed.

"Neither have I. I always thought of Kara as my daughter. A naughty one that needs a lot of care or else she ends up into trouble, that's for sure," he said. "On the other hand, my son seems like someone who likes order and discipline."

"He certainly does," Roslin said before continuing with their previous topic. "So, we are starting a new chapter in our lives here on Kobol. What about our neighbors?"

The Terrans hadn't dumped just them on the planet. They explained that planets were gigantic spheres capable of accommodating billions. That's why they also left the Cylons, just a few miles north of here. It meant that both the Final Five and the little group of Cylon renegades were staying on Kobol. More to it, they were keeping close. That was because of a little girl named Hera, their greatest hope of one day having children of their own and prospering as a group. He tried not to think about how they would have to find partners from among the Colonials before they could achieve that. By now, everyone knew they could not have kids without involving a Colonial in the baby-making process. Helo and the Cylon chick also wanted to stay close, both wishing to settle near their respective people.

Which meant they were now all a big and happy family that had all but forgotten about the animosity between them. Well, that was what he would like to think, but it was enough to see the look on people's faces every time a Cylon walked by to know that it would not happen any time soon, if ever.

"Let's hope it doesn't blow in our faces," he said.

"We will have to keep an eye on things. So many people have lost someone they cared about during the war. I don't think they will forgive the Cylons or distinguish between the Cylons and the Final Five. I fear some radicals will eventually appear with ideas of cleaning any Cylons presence," Roslin said.

Frankly, he also thought that it would be best if no Cylons were on Kobol. The only difference was that while he felt they should find a different world to live in, others might think that the solution was to kill them all and be done with it. Especially since there were so few of them compared to the Colonials. The fact that many looked the same also confused matters considerably. "Don't forget that the other side has hatreds of their own. Except for the Final Five, the other Cylons all still have memories of how the Colonials mistreated them, going back to before the first Cylons war even started. An event that even I have long put behind me."

"We will have to keep an eye on both sides, and especially watching over that little girl," she said. No matter what, and no matter who, children were off-limits in her book. Whoever went after her would receive the ultimate punishment. "Many might think that removing her might be the best way to prevent the Cylons from reproducing."

"It's not going to be easy living here. If you want to make sure nothing bad happens, you'll have to keep being the President of whatever we decide to call ourselves," he said.

"You will have to remain in charge of the military. Who knows what could happen if some nutjob gets in control of the ships we have in orbit?" Roslin said. "Ten years. That's how much I can stay legally as a President if I'm elected for the second time. Let's hope that will be enough to settle things down. By then, news from back home should reach us, and we might even rejoin the Colonies," Roslin said.

As far as rejoining the Colonies went, he did not know what status they would have once that happened. Would they be treated as separate people, maybe like another colony? Or would Nagala ask them to relinquish control? He didn't even know if he would mind. "It's too soon to think about those things at this early juncture. Right now, we must think of building our homes."

Things were moving fast and unpredictably, but he still somehow felt hopeful that everything would turn out to be okay. However, there were a few questions he still needed answers to, just for peace of mind, and he saw that the person who could give her answers was coming their way.

"Just the person I need to ask a few things," Roslin said before Adama could utter a word.

It seemed he would have to wait his turn. Hopefully, most of the things he was curious about, Roslin was curious about too.

"Hello," Daniel said while waving. The guy always seemed energetic and positive.

"Mr. Jackson, did your talk with the Asgard go well?" Adama asked.

"No problem. If you spend some time with the Asgard, you'll learn that they are quite the working people, friendly, and incredibly helpful," Daniel said.

"Yes. One only needs to be careful not to get on their bad side first," Adama said. He was sure Thor was still giving him threatening looks to remind him what they had done to the Prometheus and its crew. But he wasn't that stupid to allow something like that to happen again. Whenever Terrans or Asgard were around, he watched his people like a hawk to make sure nobody did something stupid. He also could not fault Thor for doing that since the biggest culprit, Cain, was still alive and even free to roam around. If she somehow got back in power, it would be trouble. Their fragile friendship with the Asgard might crumble in an instant.

"That's obvious," Daniel said with a smile. Daniel then turned and motioned with his hand, "On the other hand, as you can see."

And, indeed, he saw. The Valhalla was floating high above the ground. With strange beams, it was constructing buildings, making them appeared as if out of thin air. He knew that wasn't true. He knew the Asgard had advanced systems capable of creating different alloys from raw materials. Daniel even told him that it was called a matter synthesizer. It was amazing to watch, especially the speed at which they were making buildings appear.

"Fascinating. I thought that we Colonials knew how to build fast, but that's nothing compared to what I see here," Adama said while transfixed to the site that was playing in front of him.

"That's nothing. You should have seen when the Asgard came helping us build an island in the middle of the ocean," Daniel said.

"I don't think I can imagine it," Roslin said.

"Neither can I," Adama said. There were limits to his imagination. "How long will it take?"

"Not long. Thor said it would take a week. That includes enough buildings for everyone to have a place to sleep. But you'll still need to work on the details. They are not making you the furniture, except for the bare minimum. So, you'll have to work on that on your own," Daniel explained.

"It's better this way. It will give my people something to do," Adama said.

Besides the Asgard, the Terrans also brought many materials and constructed a section of the city that would hold various production facilities. He saw the specs of those facilities. They could build things better and in larger volumes than the production lines on their ships, and the materials they brought would last them for years. On the other side of the city, they were making agricultural land, already with planted crops. That was why he was worried his people would have nothing to do and be bored.

He knew boredom was a dangerous thing.

"You're even giving us entertainment, both from back home and from your planet!" Roslin added.

"People need music, art, sport, having a place or two where to have drinks with friends. If not, people tend to get grumpy quickly," Daniel said. "Your people have spent the past year inside ships doesn't help either. So, it would be good for you to have ways to unwind, even if just in front of a TV watching 'Animal Kingdom'."

He didn't know what this animal kingdom Daniel spoke of was. It was probably a documentary about animals living in their natural habitat. He thought it might be an excellent choice to watch when he needed to relax. He would go to the distribution center to get a copy. "Yes, our people need a way to shift into the new environment. The more stuff to take their minds of things there is, the better. But people will also have to find ways to contribute to our new community. That won't come easy to everyone."

"Are you thinking about the civilians in the fleet with less than stellar resumes?" Roslin said.

"I do. There are seventy thousand people in the Expeditionary Fleet. Still, how many have the right skillset to settle on a new world?" he said.

There were those excellent with their hands, those good with their heads, and there were those good with their feet. The last group was awesome at inexplicably disappearing whenever tasks were being distributed. Sadly, too many people belonged to the last group. They were the result of making the Expeditionary Fleet under pressure. The goal was to save humanity in case the Colonies fell. Besides those needed to operate the Fleet, many joined the Fleet regardless of their capabilities. They did so by merely paying top cubits for a ticket.

"Well, it wouldn't be fun if everything was easy," Daniel said.

"I'm not sure if I agree," Roslin said. "Especially since I'm the one who will have to deal with them."

Adama predicted something odd was about to happen. Those rich back home might become poor because they weren't good at doing anything, hence unable to earn. In contrast, those hardworking and good at their jobs might become well-off, greatly sought after. It wasn't easy to say how the ex-rich would react. Would they agree to plant potatoes every day?

"You should also explore the planet. Time isn't an issue," Daniel said.

"Explore?" Adama asked. It was a curious suggestion.

"I think it would be good for you to collect some evidence of your past before the rest of the Colonies can reach you here. You probably know better than me what will happen back in the Cyrannus system once rumors about your past get to the public. The Colonies will have three years to work it out. Hopefully, they'll come to terms with a different history than the one they had been taught but collecting more evidence might not be the worst thing. Maybe we the Terrans could even send your findings back home when you dig an interesting archeological find."

"Doctor Jackson, are you worried how our people will react to the different interpretations of our past you've given us?" Again, it was Roslin who spoke.

"Worried is too strong of a word. Maybe concerned would be a better choice," Daniel said.

"We are not that pigheaded, Dr. Jackson," Roslin asked. "We can come to terms with the truth, even if it isn't what we thought it was."

"Of course you can. Most of you at least," Daniel said.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Adama asked. The man was beating around the bush instead of simply coming out and say it.

"We just got news from the Cyrannus system. The Sagittarians claim the President was lying when he said that new evidence suggests that parts of the old scriptures may have been wrongly interpreted. Furthermore, they say that the Lords of Kobol sent the disease as punishment for spitting such nonsense. Finally, they are urging people not to take any cure. On Sagittarion, it means that nobody is allowed to take medicine or else they would be labeled as heretics."

"And those labeled as such on Sagittarion would have a short life," Adama said.

"Is it just Sagittarion, or are there other planets with similar views?" Roslin interjected.

"We heard only about the Sagittarians making things difficult. The other planets are keeping silent. They must be reluctant to add fuel to an already difficult situation. They know it wouldn't be conducive to the Colonies," Daniel said. "That is why I thought, while president Nagala works hard on keeping the Colonies on the right track, that maybe you can find some evidence on Kobol.

For some reason, this man really wanted them to start digging. But, of course, the reason he gave might not be the real reason. It was just his instinct telling him that. "Okay, Mr. Jackson. We will find time to survey the planet, but it won't be on our priority list. We still have to build a city first."

"Of course," Daniel said before taking a strange device out of his bag. "This is a communication device that you'll need to contact us."

"Oh? Are you leaving?" Roslin asked.

"Not yet. We will after the Asgard finish with the city's construction," Daniel replied.

"I must say, I didn't expect that," Roslin said.

"Neither did I," Adama added. "I thought the Terrans would have stayed on the planet."

"There was debate about that, but we decided it would be best to let you do your thing without us breathing down your neck," Daniel said.

"We never thought of you having an embassy here as an issue. We might even prefer if you do," Roslin said.

"In time, Madam President," Daniel said, smiling. "Now you need to decide your future on your own without anyone constantly giving you advice. We don't know what the future holds any more than you do, so we don't have the right to influence your decisions. Still, if you are struggling, feel free to contact us."

"Alright, if you think it best," Roslin said, with a trace of resignation.

Adama knew why she wanted Daniel to stay. Although they had left materials from which they could learn about Earth, it wasn't the same as having a friendly chat with a person like Daniel. Instead, she would have preferred spending hours discussing the different histories of the two worlds with him. Then, while comparing notes, she would have thought about what was best for their future on Kobol.

"I will try to visit from time to time if my schedule permits it," Daniel said. "Well! I kept you enough. I'll make sure to come to say goodbye before I leave the planet."

"Good day, Dr. Daniel. Do visit us whenever you wish," Roslin said.

The man turned and left them alone. Adama took a deep breath. In front of him, he had a panoramic view of the new city as it was being built. Raptors in the dozens were buzzing overhead, delivering people. On high above, the massive Valhalla was shooting laser-like beams toward the city. The ship was synthesizing the city at an astonishing speed. He knew it was a miraculous feat that should keep him with his mouth agape, but in truth, he was more in awe for a different reason.

"How does such a big ship enter the atmosphere and float in the air like it's nothing?" Adama asked.

"You're asking the wrong person. I can see that it is incredible but don't know how it is done," Roslin said.

"Defying gravity without any visible engines firing to keep it afloat. They must have mastered gravitic drives to an astonishing level. The city rising so fast is even more astonishing. How long did Daniel say it would take? A week!" Adama said.

"A week to make enough buildings to house seventy thousand people," Roslin said, then they both sighed at the same time. "And we almost went to war with these people."

Adama shivered. Roslin's words took him back to the day when Cain attacked the Prometheus. It was a dangerous moment in Colonial history—one they better teach future generations never to repeat. "So, where are we going to start digging?"

Roslin chuckled. "Dr. Jackson is not very good at giving hints, is he?"

"No, it was so transparent that he wanted us to find something important on the planet," Adama said.

"Yes, something that has to do with the situation in the Colonies," Roslin said. "Wonder what it is."

"Don't know. The Terrans are behaving strangely, though. There was no indication they were leaving. I was sure we would have to be the ones to ask them to leave. But then, suddenly, he just says they are out of here the moment the city's done," Adama said, narrowing his eyes. "Something is fishy!"

"If they are leaving Kobol, they are leaving the Colonies as well. No point in doing one without the other. Why would a race that can travel from Earth to here in an instant only leave a communicator behind?" Roslin said.

"No clue," Adama concluded.

Roslin chuckled.

Adama turned towards her, "What?"

"No, I just had the silly thought that maybe the Lords of Kobol told them to leave us alone," Roslin said, still giggling. "After all they told us about our past, them being told by our Gods to leave us alone would be the icing on the cake."

"Not sure what it was, but something did make them change their minds," Adama said. It was time to change the topic. "The Terrans have made up theirs. Have we?"


"About in which direction we are going to push," Adama said. So many paths were ahead of them. They now needed to decide which to choose.

"I think the two of us need to stay in power as long as we are able. At the very least, until the people back in the Colonies can reach us," Roslin said.

"Okay, that's three to five years. That's doable. I'm still young and full of strength."

"That you are," Roslin said, giggling.

Adama didn't know how to respond. "I also have the resolve to make this place our new home."

"That we both have," Roslin said while she kept smiling.

"So, we are going to try making a new colony," Adama stated.

"That we are," Roslin said solemnly.

"Will it be the Thirteenth Colony?" Adama asked since there were twelve back in the Cyrannus system.

"I think it is time to turn a new leaf," Roslin said.

"Oh," Adama said.

"The Thirteenth Colony has perished; no need to revive it. Let's make the Fourteenth Colony," Roslin stated.


The view was spectacular. Here, from the terrace of his latest host's house, he thought that as he stared at the orange sun as it was slowly disappearing behind the horizon. Never did he notice such beauty until this moment.

Ba'al now understood that thousands of years of conflict, attempts at hoarding immeasurable wealth, and thirst for power had eventually led him nowhere. Frankly, it had all been a long game, in which the Goa'uld used the galaxy as a giant chessboard and the Jaffa as their chess pieces. Sporadically fighting external enemies was a welcoming distraction from the repetitive game of sending Jaffa through the gate to conquer a world belonging to a despised Goa'uld competitor. Apart from a few races like the Asgard, the Goa'uld had free reign to play their games to their heart's content. The puny races in the Milky Way galaxy simply did not have what it took to oppose them. And the few that could, like the Tollans, were conveniently put under a treaty stipulated with the Asgard, which would expire if they interfered in Goa'uld affairs. It was a great way to deal with the Asgard, as it bound them even more than it did the Tollans. The Goa'uld were the undisputed ruler of the galaxy to do as they pleased.

Until, one day, the Tau'ri woke up.

At first, no one thought of them as much. The Goa'uld laughed at Ra and Apophis for having their butt kicked by someone who shouldn't have provided any resistance. The only logical conclusion was that they had killed Ra through sheer luck—news the other Lords cheered upon hearing before swiftly proceeding to devour Ra's territories. The Tau'ri were not even on the Goa'uld radar, not even after Apophis' demise. They attributed his fall to various factors, like bad luck, the Tok'ra, and Sokar's unwarranted meddling. Some even believed the Asgard had something to do with Apophis' fall after realizing he had become too strong. More speculations were floating around, but no one gave them any serious thought.

Even the rumors hinting at the Tau'ri having played a vital role in Apophis' demise were quickly discarded.

More Goa'uld fell, one after the other. Primarily because of the Goa'uld division and their insatiable greed. The moment a few strong Goa'uld disappeared, it was also the moment the rest began conquering the territory that was left behind. It was a time of great turmoil, mainly because Apophis had finally cracked hyperdrive technology.

Even to this day, he didn't know how he'd done it. The Goa'uld were never good at developing new technologies. It simply wasn't something they were good at, and hyperdrive technology was at the very edge of what one could comprehend, even more so improve upon. Many thought that such a leap was impossible if not by finding readily-made blueprints. After all, from the gamma hyper-band in which the Goa'uld had used for untold years, and without any forewarning, Apophis managed to make a hyperdrive capable of entering the epsilon hyper-band.

It was mind-blowing. Before that, the Goa'uld mostly used the Stargate network to travel and conquer other worlds, which was why conquest wasn't easy or fast. If subjugating a world through the stargate wasn't possible, then sometimes a fleet had to be assembled and sent on a long journey that lasted even for years, as the only way to reach worlds that were thousands of light-years apart. But after the epsilon hyper-band became available, they could traverse the galaxy inside a few years—a trifling timespan to a Goa'uld who could live for millennia.

Most planets became reachable within a year. It was a new dawn. A new age in which wars fought through the stargate would have no place in modern warfare. They would be a thing of the past, eventually forgotten. From that point on, those Goa'uld who had fleets placed in strategical locations would have an edge in their miniature wargames. Also, those who showed initiative early on would have a significant advantage over the rest. Unfortunately, it turned out that all Goa'uld had the same foresight.

It was the beginning of the most devastating conflict in Goa'uld history—one that would shake the entire Milky Way galaxy.

While squabbling, the Goa'uld forgot about the Tau'ri. They were put aside as only a minor nuisance the Goa'uld would deal with one day. That allowed the Tau'ri, Tok'ra, and Jaffa rebels to join hands in their fight against a common foe. The Tau'ri were able to make discoveries that greatly favored them. On the other hand, encouraged by the current state of disarray the Goa'uld were in, the Tok'ra went on an unprecedented offensive, infiltrating and assassinating many Goa'uld, further weakening them. Meanwhile, the Jaffa rebels were growing their numbers.

The Goa'uld needed to end their dispute and start thinking about facing the outside threats as a unified front. In a way, they did it. They united under one banner. It was the time when Anubis came back. Joining under him, who had different ideas for the future, was a wrong move.

Anubis did not care about anyone else, including the Goa'uld. He wanted to start anew, even by going to such lengths to kill all sentient beings in the galaxy. As such, even from the Goa'uld standpoint, his plan of action was utterly wrong. It did not involve suppressing the Jaffa while still weak or dealing with the Tok'ra intelligence gathering network. Anubis somewhat focused on Earth as if knowing they were a threat, but he completely discarded the other two key players. Even when dealing with the Terrans, he had no backup to lessen the ensuing disasters after his plans failed. The situation kept snowballing, culminating with the formation of the Jaffa Nation. But even then, Anubis did not care. After all, he was planning to wipe all the living.

However, Anubis one day disappeared, with no one entirely sure why? It might be that the ascended beings got fed up with him and his arrogant behavior and decided to deal with him. Even Ba'al, as arrogant as he knew he was, would never believe the ascended would allow someone to destroy all life in the galaxy before stepping in. They might have had their reasons for letting him play his little game until that point, but he was confident they were always planning to act before he could press any dangerous button that would cause an extinction event of galactic proportions. But Anubis had always seemed so convinced they couldn't do a thing to him if he followed limitations imposed upon him.

In the end, Anubis was the dumbest of them all. With the power he'd gained, including but not limited to immortality, he managed to piss off the only people he should never have!

With the dumbass' sudden disappearance, the rest of the Goa'uld were, for the first time, left in a losing position. If they did not do something fast, Earth would grow as a superpower, and the Free Jaffa Nation would suck all their warriors until none were left to fight for their true masters. But again, the Goa'uld could not unite. They were simply incapable of creating a united front in which its members looked for the good of the whole instead of selfish personal interests.

Soon, it all went to hell, with the Tau'ri somehow gaining vast knowledge from a different galaxy. Later he learned they'd received aid from a living Ancient. Together, they helped the Asgard, freeing them from their war with the Replicators. At that point, even if the Goa'uld showed a united front, it would still not have been enough. No one could fight again an Ancient, the Asgard, and a planet full of humans who have spent the best part of the last five thousand years fighting among themselves, honing their skills. Having received a large stash of technology from both the Ancient and the Asgard was the icing on the cake that made the Terrans the most dreaded war machine in the galaxy.

With the appearance of the Ori, Ba'al realized it would be best to disappear in some forgotten corner where he could spend the rest of his life without bothering about galactic affairs, and more importantly, without galactic matters worrying him.

He did it, and although a boring life he did not enjoy, it was a safe one. But the Colonials came, and he thought he could find a better place where to live the remainder of his life yet still secure from any significant threats. After all, no one had ever heard of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.

He thought he could be safe here. He thought he could spend the rest of his life without ever hearing the names Tau'ri, Earth, or Terrans ever again, but he was proven once gain wrong, having no choice but the go into deep hiding.

After escaping from the lab, he had swapped several bodies to lose any possible pursuer. He was certain no one doubted Desai's death was an accident, but it was better to make sure than to be sorry later. Not that he was afraid of the Colonials. He feared someone else instead. He knew that Terran spies were lurking on Picon, already investigating the identity of the late Dr. Desai. He did everything he could think of to lose any Terran shadow that might have been on his tail. Only then did he settle into a host that would provide him with the luxury he had always sought after.

His current host was a forty-year-old man who had inherited a small fortune after his parents had died during the first Cylon attack. The man had no ties with the government, tech companies, or even had to do with anything that would keep him in the public's eye. Right now, Ba'al as a Colonial was almost invisible, which should allow him to spend the rest of his life in peace.

Or that, at least, was the plan. But then, all hell broke loose. The whole of the Colonies began collectively sneezing, coughing, vomiting, and generally feeling like crap. To just look at so many sick people was a nightmare. He could barely stand it. It became even worse when he too began feeling like crap, sometimes vomiting, coughing, and even sneezing, just like everyone else. Sadly, the pathogen was also attacking his symbiote. Or rather, the nanites did. His immune system could deal with the virus, but then the nanites would go on a rampage, chewing at his flesh as if they were made to kill Goa'uld. He didn't know how that could be. The Goa'uld themselves knew how difficult it was to make nanites capable of targeting the symbiote.

Changing host wouldn't help either because the host wasn't the problem. He felt angry and sad. To think that after everything he went through during his long life, he would end like this because of a mere pathogen not even intended to target him or the Goa'uld. It royally messed with his mind. It was better if he had died in glorious battle against O'Neill instead of waiting for his life to end in such a pathetic way. The ultimate insult was that he knew O'Neill and the Terrans had ways to purge the pathogen from the host and the symbiote. If he went to them, they would save only one of them, killing the other. That meant he could not ask the only people who, he knew, had the cure.

It was so annoying.

Recently, a medicine had started circulating. It could strengthen the nanites to weaken the virus further. It was great news… for the Colonials. However, it was also the exact opposite of what he needed. Taking the drug would help the host while harming the symbiote. Also, he was sure that once they had the cure given to them by the goody-two-shoes Terrans, it would still be unable to cure the symbiote. He wasn't sure why he became more cynical recently, but that was how he felt right now, and there wasn't much hope he would change his way of thinking. It might be the disease that was influencing his thoughts. He could not know for sure. The nanites were slowly chewing at his real body, which wasn't pleasant at all. But no matter the reason, he was confident that nothing would go his way.

It hadn't gone his way in a long time.

He had done a lot of things during his life. Throughout most of it, he frankly thought his end would come at the hands of one of his Goa'uld competitors, probably by getting stabbed in the back by an ally. It was standard practice for the Goa'uld to, once their interests diverged, end alliances in such a way. It was just the question of who would stab whom first.

A year, two if he took extreme care of himself. That was how long he still had to live. Not that he would enjoy the time left. The end would be painful, he knew. He should probably end it before the worst came.

Why did he find the sunset so beautiful today? He usually did not care for such trivial things. He was okay spending his time aboard a dull spaceship instead of on a planet's surface, especially if it were a planet like Dakara. What did possess him to fight for that planet, he wondered. It all went downhill from that point on.

He had made many mistakes during his life. Truthfully, many of those should have caused his death. But now that he finally settled and had nothing to do with galactic conflicts, he would die from the thing the Goa'uld had never feared.

"As the natives would say, from a frakking disease!" he shouted, no one to hear.

It was a new experience, being sick. One that he had begun dreading. Feeling weak and helpless. How did humans cope with it? Living their whole life fearing being killed by a tiny virus, it was no way to live. It had only been a month since the symptoms started, and he was already depressed, uncertain of what to do.

He had to shake it off.

It was time for him to get a grip. He was a proud Goa'uld who had schemed throughout his entire life. That meant his path was already decided—no point in changing now at this late hour. Once again, he would scheme, plot, steal, and kill. He will do whatever it takes to survive! He knew the Terrans would eventually bring the cure. Then, he would find a way to modify what can cure the Colonials into something that can fix a symbiote!

"Hah! I'm not going to die in this frakking world! Even if it's the last thing I do!" Ba'al said, suddenly feeling energetic. He coughed a little, but it wasn't too bad.

"And why am I still saying frakking!?"

The Lords of Kobol

"Did it end the way we wanted or did it not?" the imaginary Six said.

"Not sure," the imaginary Baltar replied. "The point was for them to—"

"I don't care what the point was. We can interpret it in whichever way we want. Let's say it went well since both the Colonials and the Cylons have survived," Six said.

"I don't know, Crexia. I think we will have another cycle in a few millennia—a perpetual cycle of birth and destruction—" the imaginary Baltar said.

"Beseius, you're too big of a pessimist," Crexia said.

"You should at least let me finish a sentence!" Beseius said. "We'll also see if I'm being pessimistic or not."

"Pessimistic about what?" a voice resounded from behind of the two ascended.

"O-Oma, how nice to see you!" Crexia said, flustered. "What brings you to this barren part of the galaxy?"

"Do I have to spell it?" Oma said. "The two of you have missed our reunion with the Ori."

"Sorry about that, Oma," said Crexia apologetically.

"It's nothing serious. Participation was voluntary, and the Lanteans had no history with the Ori like we Alterrans have," Oma said, pausing for a moment. "But you two not being there made me curious about what you were up to."

"Well, nothing much," Crexia said, keeping a straight face.

Oma turned towards Beseius. She kept staring at him with a smile that did not reach her eyes. She kept doing it for quite some time.

"I admit! We helped the Colonials!" Beseius confessed.

"She didn't even ask you a single question, and you've already revealed everything!" Crexia shouted in despair. "At least try to keep it a secret for five minutes!"

"You know I can't stand her stare," Beseius said, not happy at being chastised.

"Why did I even bring you with me!" Crexia shouted.

"You know, at one point, I asked myself the same question," Beseius said.

Crexia just stared at him, speechless.

"It doesn't matter if he revealed the truth or not. I already knew everything," Oma said, visibly saddened. "I'm quite disappointed at the two of you."

"We didn't interfere much. We just—" Crexia started explaining.

"I'm not disappointed about that!" Oma said.

"Then why?" Crexia said.

"Because you're so bad at hiding your actions that half of the ascended realm knows about what you did!" Oma reprimanded. "I was sure I taught you better than that."

"Oh, that. We thought you were all busy with the Ori and won't keep an eye on us or this little corner of the galaxy," said Crexia.

"We were, but not that much that you don't have to take precautions," Oma reprimanded.

Crexia lowered her head. They had messed up. "Sorry, Oma."

"Yeah, I know, but that doesn't help. You two will have to pay the consequences," Oma said.

"W-What kind of consequences?" Beseius asked, frightened.

"Well, the majority put capital punishment on the table," Oma said.

Crexia paled. "Capital punishment! Why? We didn't do all that much!" Crexia shouted.

"You know how they are when it comes with interfering with the lower plane. And you didn't just give hints and clues to the people in it. You also actively manipulated events like sending their raptor straight to Kobol. That was blatant manipulation in which you didn't give those in the lower plane any choice," Oma said, shaking her head. She was disappointed. "That's a big no in the eyes of most ascended."

"We are screwed!" Crexia said, panicking.

"Does that mean we are going to—" Beseius said.

"Fortunately, you won't," Oma said. "I interceded on your behalf and managed to lower your sentence."

"Does that mean you won't dump us in the lower plane with our memories after we ascended wiped?" Crexia asked, hopeful.

"No, I won't," Oma said.

"That's good to hear," Crexia said in a relaxed tone. A heavy rock was lifted off her chest. However, Oma still looked mad. "What is it?"

"I'm waiting," Oma said.

"Waiting for what?" Crexia said.

"I'm waiting for you two ingrates to thank me!" Oma said. "Or do you believe it was easy to convince the Elders to let you stay in the higher realm?"

"Thank you!" said Crexia.

"Thank you, Oma! We appreciate everything you did for us!" Beseius shouted too.

"Yes, we now owe you even more. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!" Crexia said.

"Okay, that's going too far. So, stop it," Oma said, causing both to refrain from speaking further. "But you two still need to be punished. If for no other reason than because you got caught too easily. Since you want to be close to the Colonies, the two of you will watch over them."

"Watch over them?" Crexia asked.

"Yes, some of the Elders are concerned about the direction the Colonials are taking—the human race with the greatest population. In the future, the Colonials might take a dangerous path, which could be bad," Oma said.

Crexia knew what Oma was referring to. The Colonials' behavior in the last two thousand years was less than stellar. Even though they'd guided them to find a beautiful place such as the Cyrannus system, their progress instantly became lethargic and later riddled with conflicts. It culminated with creating the Cylons who went on a rampage, bent on killing their creators. The worst was that the Cylons and Colonials were the same people. So, both the human Colonials and the Cylon Colonials had displayed a massive lack of judgment. The fear was that they did not learn anything new that would make them change, as history could attest to it. It was the reason why she had decided they needed guidance, or else they could end up on the wrong path.

"I understand that. I share the same concern and think that the Colonials need guidance. But there is still something that puzzles me," Crexia said.

"And what is that?" Oma asked.

"Aren't you asking us to do the same thing that you're punishing us for?" Crexia asked.

"Ah, child, you understand so little," Oma said, once again looking disappointed. "First, it's not the same because we, the Elders, agreed to it. And second, if you think it's the same, why are you calling it punishment? Are you saying that you were punishing yourselves from the start?"

"I don't understand," Beseius said, looking confused.

"Stop talking, Beseius," Crexia said, shooshing him. She finally understood. She understood that she had failed to listen to what Oma has been saying from the start. Oma was disappointed because they got caught and had directly influenced events in the lower plane with their ascended powers. However, she never said that she or any of the other ascended were mad because they tried to guide the Colonials. And the punishment they received was to keep doing what they had been doing all along but in a more discrete way.

Oma and Crexia looked at each other in the eyes.

Oma smiled. "Do you understand now?"

"Yes, I understand," Crexia said.

"Understand what?" Beseius asked, clueless.

"That's your problem, Beseius. You never listen," Crexia said while shaking her head. "Didn't I tell you to shut up?"

Beseius went dejected. He could read the mood well enough to know when it was better to leave the two of them to talk it out. He wasn't all that interested anyway.

"You will have to watch over the Cyrannus system and Kobol, but we forbid you from using any ascended powers," Oma reiterated. "You should also keep in mind that we're watching you."

"What about the Terrans?" Crexia asked. History showed the Terrans were prone to meddling in the affairs of others, so she thought it was a pertinent question.

"Leave the Terrans to us. If the Colonials stay on the right path, we can guide the Terrans to leave them alone. The Terrans don't have much interest in the Colonies anyway," Oma said.

"Guide?" Crexia said, feeling slightly perplexed. If they were influencing the Terrans, then the ascended had changed their policy of noninterference more than she had thought. Other ascended were meddling with the lower plane, and the Elders were okay with it. If the Terrans were their target, it meant their scope was far greater than just the affairs related to the Colonies.

"Just a whisper directed at the right people," Oma said, smiling.

The line was now to give hints to people, but using their ascended powers was still forbidden. She was okay with it. If it weren't for the incident in which she had redirected a raptor to Kobol, she would have kept inside the scope of what the Elders consider acceptable. "Kobol will be easy to influence. There are only seventy thousand people on the planet. The issue will be the Cyrannus system. The Sagittarians alone are angering me beyond measure. How dare they speak in our name, the Lords of Kobol. I should show them how much Persephone hates it!"

"Yes, you should," Oma said, a matter of fact.

Crexia became speechless. She didn't expect Oma to tell her to do it. "Are you sure?"

"Since you're Persephone, and you feel they wronged you, then you should visit them and tell them that," Oma said.

Crexia frowned. It seemed like an easy task, but it wasn't. She knew very well that people liked their Gods to keep silent. The moment she would speak to them, they would doubt her identity, especially since it contradicted what they were saying to their people. Since she couldn't use her ascended powers, she couldn't display her anger fully either. She doubted telling them anything was a good idea. Maybe talking with the likes of Nagala—or better yet, Lira—could work. Still, she didn't think that the Sagittarians would be responsive or that anyone could sway them away from their wicked ways. "I don't think it can be done easily. Not when we are dealing with the Sagittarians."

"Not easy, no. But if you are persistent enough," Oma said, without finishing her thought.

"I can pester them—" Crexia began saying but then stopped. "Oh, you want me to pester them until they can't take it anymore!"

That could work. Being hunted by a relentless ascended, day after day, for months, could make even the most hardcore Sagittarian change their view on what the Lords want.

"That's right. For the rest, do what you can to keep Nagala in office," Oma said.

"What about the intruder?" she asked, anger washing over her. The Lanteans' greatest wish was to kill off the Wraith and Goa'uld. Therefore, having one of them enjoying life inside of the Colonies didn't sit well with her.

"Don't need to worry about him. He's not enjoying life as much as you think. But he also has a role he still needs to play," Oma said.

Crexia could tell from how Oma spoke that there was no love lost between her and the Goa'uld. On the contrary, she was one of those who had partied for days to no end when the Goa'uld Empire fell. "If you say so."

Oma nodded, then turned toward Beseius. "You should go to Kobol. There you should have the easy task of guiding the seventy thousand people on the planet. Just make sure Adama and Roslin stay in power and willing to stay on the planet even after. Also, make sure no conflict arises between the Colonials and the Cylons."

"I have contacted only one person in the Expeditionary Fleet, the Cylon known as Caprica. So, I think it would be the wrong approach to speak with Adama or Roslin directly," Beseius said.

"I agree. Keep that as a last resort," Oma said.

"So, what should I do then?" Beseius said.

"Even though you can't use your ascended powers, you should still have many other ways to influence the people on Kobol," Oma said.

Beseius nodded, but he didn't seem very enthusiastic. From his face, Crexia believed her colleague found his task bothersome. "Don't make me come to Kobol and see you haven't done a thing. Do you understand?"

"You don't have to threaten me!" Beseius said.

"I'm just warning you," Crexia said, narrowing her eyes.

Oma noticed their conversation might continue like this for a while. She clapped. "Good! With that settled, I can finally go deal with other, more important matters."

"Is it related to the Vargas?" Crexia asked.

Oma nodded. "A great war is coming."

"Will it reach the Milky Way?" Crexia asked.

"We don't know. It isn't easy to gather information about the Vargas. We don't know what to expect,"

"I hope they don't come near the Colonies. They can't defend against such a strong foe," Beseius said.

"The Vargas are the SGA's problem. Leave that to the Terrans. You just need to focus on keeping the Colonials on the right path. The next three to five years before they join the greater community are crucial," Oma said.

They both nodded, and Oma vanished.

"She's gone," Crexia said.

"Yes, and our punishment is light," Beseius said, smiling.

"Don't be too pleased. We still have to stay and keep watching over the Colonials," Crexia said miffed.

"What is bad about that?" Beseius said.

"Beseius, I know you have no life. So, being relegated to such a boring, long task may seem like no great punishment to you," Crexia said while pitifully looking at him, "But there are others, like me, who have things to do."

"I know that! It's not that I want to stay here and watch over them. There are things that I too want to do," Beseius growled.

"Sure, Beseius," Crexia said condescendingly. "Well, no point in pondering over it for too long. We are stuck here now; might as well do the best we can."

"I don't think there's much to do. The Colonies are under lockdown for five years, and while the people residing on Kobol are not, they are busy making a new place to live to be wandering around. Anyway, their ships are not in the greatest of shapes," Beseius stated.

"Somehow, I think we will still have our hands full. Do you remember what Oma said? We can't use our powers. It's not easy to make stubborn people do anything if the only thing we can do is talk to them," Crexia said. Maybe if they behaved like some deranged ghost spooking the Colonials half to death, they might have some success, but she wasn't keen on using such despicable tactics. "I also think that it would be in our best interest if the people on Kobol retained their current independence, even after they contact the Colonies. We should find a way to stop them from being swallowed. The few Cylons will have a bad time if that happens."

In a society numbering in the billions, a minority as small as the few surviving Cylons would have no voice of their own. Among the seventy thousand people currently on Kobol, it would be difficult to have their voices heard, but still possible. It would simply be impossible doing it among the billions of Colonials of which most had a deep grudge against them.

"Should we help them find our legacy?" Beseius said.

"No!" Crexia shouted. "That's the test we devised thousands of years ago. It is the minimum requirement the Kobolians must show to have achieved before inheriting the knowledge. Unfortunately, there is room for abuse in the knowledge buried inside Olympus."

She believed it would be good for the Kobolians to gain the knowledge hidden in that mountain. It would be suitable for a galaxy dominated by the Terrans to work as a counterweight, even if just in a small part. Until now, the Terrans had shown impeccable wisdom and tolerance, with no signs of abusing what the Asgard or Liam had given them. But having a counterweight could also be a good thing. After the Colonials gain the advanced knowledge hidden on Kobol, a big race such as theirs might still not be at the Terrans level, but they would be tougher than ninety-nine percent of the human races in the Milky Way. They would be strong enough to have their voice heard.

It would also be good for the Colonials to have someone more knowledgeable and influential like the Terrans to watch over them, as they have shown poor judgment on too many occasions.

"I think the best would be for the Colonials to join the Terran Federation, or at least to join the Second Great Alliance," Beseius said.

"I don't know. I can't see the Terrans merging with the Colonies. There's no benefit in it for them. I think even joining the SGA may be a pipe dream. The Asgard are helping them build a place to live, and everything seems fine and friendly on the surface. But the Asgard have long memories. Even if the Terrans forgave the Colonials for what they did, the Asgard certainly did not! With Cain free, it might also seem that the Colonials have learned nothing out of that incident. The Asgard will not attack them, but they will oppose the Colonials joining the SGA. They will probably be against any attempt at them joining the Terran Federation," Crexia explained.

"That's so sad," Beseius said.

Crexia knew Beseius well. He wasn't a great thinker. But in the past, he had done everything he could to help the Kobolians. Even while most Lanteans were ascending, he was among the last who left Kobol. He would have died on that planet if Oma didn't help him ascend. From then on, he had watched over the Colonies, mostly with sadness at how their history had played out. She still remembers how he looked when the Thirteenth Colony had perished, and the Colonials fought a devastating war against their creation.

"But we should look at it all with more positivity. I think the Kobolians will, in one way or the other, join the larger community, finally realizing that they are not the center of the universe. I think a long stretch of peaceful time is ahead of them," Crexia said. "That's if we manage to deal with those fruitcakes known as the Sagittarians."

Beseius frowned. "I never liked that clan."

So many imbeciles grouped could be dangerous. Just one on the level of Jerome Kroll was enough to cause untold suffering. "Jerome Kroll. Of course, he would be from that clan."

"A fruitcake above all fruitcakes," Beseius stated while nodding. "Did you know that most people who caused trouble in the Colonies' past were related to the Sagittarians?"

"Yes, you've told me," Crexia said. "You also told me that the Sagittarians had the most, umm, interactions with the Thirteenth Clan?"

"No wonder his consciousness was compatible with a Cylon chassis," Beseius said.

Not every person's consciousness could be transferred into a Cylon. A form of rejection happened for many when the Colonials had first tried. Out of the thousands of inmates they forced, only Jerome Kroll was fully compatible. It was because of the similarities in his and that of members of the Thirteenth Colony's short, at least one of his distant ancestors was from that colony.

"The Thirteenth Colony's DNA is far more spread inside the other twelve Colonies than they realize. So, the differences in their DNA and the DNA of other humans are due to their peculiar heritage. I wonder how they are going to react once they find out," Crexia said.

"Is that one reason why you don't want them to find out our legacy that soon?" Beseius asked.

Crexia nodded. Once the knowledge hidden in that mountain was unearthed, the Kobolians would receive a great stash of advanced technologies. But they would also attain knowledge related to them as people: their past, their conception, and their unbreakable bond with the Cylons. They might think of Hera as some freak accident, but that would only last until they unearth the truth—one in which many, just as Hera, were born between the Thirteenth and the other Clans. "I don't think they are ready to learn that. That's why we should be cautious. Did you not see that the Terrans had also skipped that little fact when they gave their explanation of what they have discovered? They explained how the Lanteans took them from Earth. They explained why the Thirteenth Colony was created to fight a war against the Wraith and the Goa'uld. But they never mentioned what they learned about their clans' interaction with the last clan."

"The Terrans are not stupid. O'Neill would never make the mistake of opening that can of worms. Let them sort that out when they get to it, on their own. That's that man's philosophy. Never seek trouble if you don't have to," Beseius said. "But that means we don't have to rush with anything. Let's keep Roslin and Adama in power here on Kobol and do the same with Nagala in the Colonies."

"Agreed. Leave the Colonies to me. You can watch over Kobol," Crexia said.


Crexia nodded and disappeared on her way to the Cyrannus system.

The Terrans

It wasn't too swift a pace, the one he and Sam ran at through Terrania's beautiful woods. Jack had to admit. Sam's idea, of giving jogging a chance, had been a decent one.

A dreary life of shuffling from one air-conditioned room to another wasn't good for one's mental health. Instead of constantly hanging around in the office, sometimes exploring the trails their people had built on this artificial island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean was a better alternative. Breathing real air that had not been recycled a thousand times, smelling the ground, and seeing the trees might do them a world of good. The island was constantly being improved, not only to be better functional but also more enjoyable to live on. The island was also growing, with new land being added constantly.

Taking a slight turn on the narrow path just wide enough for two people to pass, they came out of the scant forest. The beautiful sight of a lake immediately greeted them. Glancing at it admiringly but without stopping, they proceeded at a slightly faster pace. They always did it during the last leg of their jogging itinerary. A reprieve was near, just a quarter of a mile away. Thus, no reason to conserve energy.

The path further led them to a restaurant—a special one. In recent months, he had learned to visit that establishment more than once or twice a week, even during working hours.

Instead of entering through the front, they walked to the back of the structure. Climbing a flight of wooden stairs, they stepped onto the restaurant's high deck that nicely confronted the lake. Part of it was over the water, supported by two rows of pylons. While panting slightly, the duo found a table next to the wooden railing. It was the table he would usually pick, as it gave a great view of the lake and the few boats floating on it. Those were fishermen he sometimes enjoyed watching.

"I must say, ever since you showed me the place, I began spending increasingly more time here," Jack said while taking a seat.

"Are you coming here even when I'm not around?" Sam asked.

"Yep. It's a great place. Quiet, relaxing, a place where I can do most of my work as long as I have my datapad with me," Jack said but then frowned. Even in this place, freedom wasn't absolute. "It is already known by everyone that there's no place where Walter won't find me and bring me more work. I can easily spend the whole day here, and work will keep coming as if I am in my office."

She was a scientist, and she liked working in her lab or her office with at least three computers, a dedicated AI, and a plethora of gadgets, all at arm's length. That was why time spent outside did her a lot of good, maybe even more than it did to him. Unfortunately, she was known to lose herself in her projects, forgetting to get out or even to eat.

"There was a time when we were constantly outdoors. Back then, spending our free time on base didn't seem so bad," Sam said.

"Ah, those were the good old days," he said. For some reason, it made him want to have a beer. Maybe not the right drink after a run, but he couldn't care less. It wasn't like his Alterran body would complain about drinking such a beverage right now. "You know what? I'm going to have a cold one."

"You know what? I think I'm going to have one too?" Sam said, smiling. Her advanced human physiology wouldn't protest either.

It was strange how now they looked younger and healthier than ten years ago, through no effort of their own. It had just happened, effortlessly and without any heavy lifting done on their part.

"All right, I'm ordering then," he said, leaning on the table. After tapping it twice, the table turned into a touchscreen that he proficiently used to order two light beers.

"I can see that you've spent time here. The first time it took you ten minutes to order," Sam said teasingly.

"I'm learning," he said. As he pressed the confirmation button, two beers and two glasses appeared on top of the table. "Nice!"

"You seem in a good mood. What's the occasion?" Sam asked.

He decided he didn't need the glass. Taking the bottle, he leaned back in his seat before taking a long sip. "I do feel satisfied. Another chapter of our story has just ended. I think we should be celebrating it more thoroughly, not just with a beer, but, well, maybe when Daniel's back."

"What chapter?" Sam asked.

"Right, you wouldn't know," Jack said, taking another sip before answering. "The chapter in which we spend a lot of time and effort helping the Colonials fighting their war against the Cylons."

"Oh, that chapter. I was never interested in the Colonials and their shenanigans. That is, except for my curiosity in how the Cylons were made," Sam said.

It was an understatement. At one point, many thought she became obsessed with the machines. Unlike the androids they knew from their voyages, the Cylons were well-built, had decent strength, and were easy to make. It made them great candidates as additional troops. Their soldiers would sometimes lose their lives during ambushes, but with the Cylons present, it was different. While operated by the soldiers, the Cylons would serve at the forefront, often taking the brunt of any sudden attack. They were also great at providing cover or even be sacrificed while the troops retreated. They were cheap, and most importantly, they were not sentient, as the Terrans have stripped any vestige of it from their chassis.

"Well, you are obsessed with them. You didn't even care about their origin and creators or how their war was going on," he said.

"I'm not obsessed!" Sam replied. "It is a healthy curiosity regarding a great piece of engineering that has great potential, that's all."

"Okay, so, on what refit are you working right now? The Mark III?" he asked.

"Mark IV, but that doesn't mean anything!" she shouted indignantly.

"Sure. Making four versions of it in one year is normal." Sarcasm could easily be felt with each word that came out of his mouth.

She didn't reply. She would only be digging herself a deeper grave. The truth was that indeed her work on the Cylons had helped them a lot. One could say that she was responsible for the success of many battles in which sending only their soldiers would have meant sustaining heavy losses. The most famous incident was when the Aschen had spread a deadly disease on Chulak. Fighting against the Aschen machines was dangerous even under normal circumstances, but their conditions would have been much worse if the pathogen surrounded them. By sending the Cylons, they had to care little about a virus.

"Well, you can keep doing whatever you want with the Cylons; I know it is a hobby of yours. Will the Mark IV have anything special?" he asked.

"Right now, I'm working on the algorithm to make their reactions faster. The Mark III is strong, and I don't have much to improve upon it, especially with the elite model where I ignored the production cost. But I noticed that they would get hit a lot before acting. I know they often must wait for orders from the soldiers controlling them, but that doesn't mean they should stay still and take incoming fire without doing anything. They are also machines that could have faster than human reflexes if they have sensors capable of picking up threats immediately, maybe even before the enemy could fire. But for that, they need complex algorithms, yet flexible enough to prevent accidents from happening," Sam explained. She seemed eager to talk to someone about the Cylons. Unfortunately, not many were interested in them, or at least not interested in a detailed retrospection of their full capabilities.

"Yeah, we must make sure the tin cans don't take any action that could threaten our troops or fire on friendlies simply because it saw a muzzle pointed in its general direction. I don't envy your job. It doesn't seem easy," Jack said.

"Oh, it's not easy at all, but that's what makes it a great hobby to have. Plus, it's good that no one is pressuring me with unfair deadlines that usually make me work double as fast, and the results are half as good as what I would want," Sam said, miffed. She probably remembered another project in which she had to deliver quick results that perhaps resulted in a half-assed product. "But we were talking about why you're in a good mood and not about my hobby. Does that mean everything has gone great for the Colonials?"

"Not exactly," Jack said, thinking for a moment about how he felt his discussion with Nagala had gone. "I think the Colonials would have wanted for all Cylons to have perished."

"So, that means some Cylons still live?" Sam said, clueless of the state in the Colonies.

"Only the good ones," he answered.

"So, there was that kind too," Sam said.

She probably only thought of the Cylons as the machines she liked tinkering with. As a failed product that the Colonies first created and then unsuccessfully tried to eradicate for decades to come.

"It turns out human consciousnesses were uploaded into a Cylon chassis. Or more like, their digital avatars were," Jack said.

A moment passed without her giving any answer. Finally, Sam narrowed her eyes before answering. "Really."

It was a bad omen, something he could only feel because he knew her so well. There was curiosity, the dangerous kind, contained in that single word. "I don't like the way you've said it. It makes me feel a storm is coming, and one that I'm not sure is necessary or that I will like it at all."

"Well, after what you've said, my curiosity is stimulated," Sam said.

"I don't think I mentioned anything that would cause such a strong reaction in you. You'll have to explain more in detail what was it that piqued your interest," he said.

"The part about transferring a digital avatar into the chassis of a Cylons. Think about it. How many jobs our people do daily would be risk-free if they could transfer their consciousness into an android? I'm not talking just about our soldiers either, but about workers on Earth doing construction work, repairs, heavy lifting, and anything that machines could do more easily and safely, but with people still being in control."

"We already have our people controlling Cylons remotely. So why would we need to transfer our consciousness or whatever?" he asked.

"Remotely controlling an android heavily relies on the underlying programming. Usually, the operator gives simple commands and hopes the android will do a good job at executing them. But that limits them. At times, the task can be so complex that instructions won't cut it. For example, try to imagine a person instructing an android to repair an ancient clock but without the android having any knowledge of the process involved in repairing it or having it ever done anything similar."

"You mean, the operator would have to give so many step-by-step detailed instructions that it would be a nightmare and so frustrating that they would want to do it themselves," he said.

"You're only half correct. That's because it's also possible the android is unable to execute a particular instruction. After all, it has never been programmed for it, which would make it stop or choose to execute a wrong one," Sam said. "Think of it this way. Our soldiers instruct the Cylons during combat, but what would happen if they gave it the task to cook an omelet?"

"The Cylons would not recognize it as a valid instruction and would await one that he knows how to perform," he said, finally understanding. Some jobs are too complex that it isn't practical to try to program every possible action the android might have to perform into it. "So, for such complex tasks, maybe even a dangerous one, a better choice is for a person to create a digital avatar of themselves and upload it inside the android. But Sam, you can see the problem here, right?"

"I do, but couldn't we find a way around it? Maybe with the right legislations?" Sam said.

"That's a slippery slope, Sam," Jack said, shaking his head, unconvinced. "I mean, what you are saying looks great and all, but we are coming dangerously close to what the Colonials have done. A step further would be not making it only temporary. Let's say special cases in which a person has a disability, and they could enjoy life better inside a metal chassis than inside their biological body. Then, one thing leads to another, and before you know it, all people on Earth are walking around as robots or, even worse, a war starts between the biological humans and those who chose to live as tin cans!"

"When you say it like that, it does sound like we would be going down a similar path as the Colonials. Just forget I asked," Sam said, dejected.

"Don't fret over it. It isn't a bad idea, and maybe we can find a solution somewhere in the middle. For example, instead of going with the full transfer of consciousness, we connect a person and a Cylon. The person's thoughts are sent to the Cylon, and the Cylon's sensations are sent back. Something like what we experienced with the virtual reality capsule, the one that Teal'c got stuck in," he said.

"That might work. It wouldn't be as flexible as a full transfer of a digital avatar because the signal might be disrupted. The person would also have to be relatively close to the android, but I think many tasks could be done with that method," Sam said pensively. She was already working on the various kinks she would encounter if she tried to make it. She was already entering full scientific mode. "Besides, the digital avatar transfer had many issues, and only a small percentage of the Colonials were able to merge with a Cylon chassis. Yep, this might be a better option."

He'd better stop her. "Don't think about it too much right now. Let's sleep on it first. We could even form a panel to brainstorm the whole idea's viability and the possible ethical concerns. You can be a part of the panel too."

"You're right. We are here enjoying our beer and having a casual conversation. I shouldn't be working right now." Sam was the type that could lose herself in a moment, especially when she found something interesting. "So, you were talking about the Colonials and how they would have been happier if no more Cylons existed. Then you've said that some remain, but only the good ones."

"Yes, that's pretty much what I've got from the conversation with Nagala. He's a good guy, and his future wife Lira is too, but it's not possible for any of the Colonials to simply put aside fifty years of animosity by simply saying, 'let bygones be bygones, we're all friends now'. Some Cylons are decent people, and they should be given the same consideration as all other sentient beings. But even now, most Colonials see them as their greatest blunder—a failed experiment. They only wish they had found a way to erase them sooner. Now that they know the galaxy doesn't mean just them, but that other races, both human and alien, live in it, it's making them even more apprehensive."

"Apprehensive? Are they afraid of others coming to their system with hostile intent?" she said.

"Not exactly. They are apprehensive because they now know that many races, us included, are higher than them in the pecking order. That's something that won't sit well with the proud people in the Colonies. They are apprehensive because they will have to tell that to their people, explain that we are stronger than they are, that we have friends who aren't human, that they are also stronger than they are, and maybe even the worse fact will be that they are not the center of the universe. We do not believe in their history, and what they have learned to believe in their whole life is in part false. Probably the little fact that they came from the Earth that's filled with unbelievers who are saying the Lords were just a bunch of humans from another galaxy will cause a lot of strife. They also have nutjobs like those Sagittarians."

"I wonder why you were so happy when you said that another chapter in our history is coming to an end. But, to me, it seems it is far from over, and that now we will have to take care of the Colonies, maybe even for decades to come."

"Nope. We are washing our hands. We will help with the disease, but that's it."

"What disease?" Sam asked.

"Sometimes I forget that you're not in the loop when it comes to the Colonies," he said apologetically for not explaining correctly. "One of the Cylons, the biggest nutjob that you can find, was a man going by the name of Jerome Kroll. He was a convict who, fifty years ago, had been put in jail for some bad things that he did. He should have died back then, but the Colonials had the brilliant idea to use convicts on death row in an experiment in which they would transfer their consciousnesses into Cylons. Anyway, the process was a big success. If creating the greatest mass murderer in the history of the Colonies could be called a success, that is. He was the driving force behind the Cylon rebellion and the second war. It was all his doing.

"Anyway, when things were finally coming to an end, he decided to take his revenge even though he knew they'd already lost the war, and there was no point in any of it. As a last-ditch attempt, he sent a pathogen to the Colonies to make them suffer. Slowly, day by day, he wanted them to lose their strength, their wealth, and eventually their will to live. He almost succeeded because, I can tell you right now, the pathogen he created is some nasty stuff that we need to keep contained at all costs. If we don't, we might have to spend the next century going around the galaxy curing people on thousands of infected worlds. It would be a nightmare no one wants to go through."

"So much crap happened in such a small corner of our galaxy in such a short time," she stated. "I'm glad I didn't get involved."

"Well, someone had to," he said dejectedly.

"But there's still the question of why you're so happy about the whole thing. You never mentioned the pathogen having been eradicated, which means it's still out there," Sam added, curious.

"Well, for one, the pathogen is contained, and with the quarantine that we've put in place, we won't let it escape from the Cyrannus system. The chances of it being found somewhere outside the system are small—we obliterated every base the Cylons had. But you're right. That alone wouldn't be enough to make me happy," he said, taking another sip of his beer. He would soon have to order another one. "Are we going to order food, or can I order another beer first."

"You can order us two more beers. I'm not hungry either," Sam said, somewhat miffed. "And will you please answer my question already?"

He answered while ordering. "It's because it's out of our hands."

"Huh? What's out of our hands?" Sam asked, unsure. "And in which hands is it then?"

"Those guys upstairs," he said, quickly finishing the first beer. There was no point in having two on the table. The moment he put the empty one down, it disappeared.

"Upstairs? What are you talking about?" Sam was confused.

"The ascended bunch came and told us to leave the Colonials alone," he said. "You know that the Lords of Kobol were Lanteans, right?"

"Yeah," Sam said.

"Well, while some went back to Earth, some ascended. Then some more might have ascended on Earth, too—I'm not sure how it all went down. The point is that there are people in the higher plane that are protective of the Colonials, or maybe better it would be to call them Kobolians, as that's much better than calling a race Colonials. We should then call ourselves Colonials too, and that would be dumb," Jack said, not understanding the naming sense of these people. If they were called the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, then the US should have been called the Thirteen Colonies of England or something sounding even dumber. No one would be so stupid to name a country or even less a race like that. But maybe the Kobolians were different. Perhaps they always thought they were alone in the universe, which might have influenced how they named themselves. Since they were alone, no one else could ever be called the Colonials.

"Let's leave their naming sense for now. How do you know the ascended want to take care of the Kobolians?" Sam asked.

"They contacted Daniel and me and told us to leave them be. Just to work on the cure and deliver it to them when we are done," he said.

"So, they don't want you to get involved except for the bare minimum. But they are also not going so far as to use their powers to cure them of the pathogen," Sam stated, looking slightly confused.

"I had a similar expression as you when they told me their plan. They are interfering, which is strange for the ascended bunch. But they are also not going to cure them; something that to them should be easy to do," he said, smiling.

"So, what did you figure out that makes you smile," she asked.

"I think they are interfering with the Kobolians, but under strict rules. For example, they can influence the Kobolians by giving them hints but are not allowed to use their ascended powers. They are adhering to the rules even when it is to heal them of this nasty virus. But I also think they like the idea of the Kobolians in the Cyrannus system being under quarantine for a few years. We are happy about that too. The situation in the galaxy is much better than it ever was. The Aschen, Wraith, and the Ori are not a problem anymore. We can confidently say that the Milky Way is at peace now, but for the Kobolians, even the galaxy's current state might be extremely daunting. It is also better for the rest of the galaxy to not know the Kobolians even exist," he explained.

"I don't think the Kobolians can protect their system even against a few of the older Ha'taks," Sam said.

Compared to the ships the Terrans were building these days, a Ha'tak might not look like much, especially the older model that pirates used these days. So, giving the Kobolians a few years to get back on their feet could save them many grievances.

"That's true. Giving them time to develop before meeting other races is a must. But I think the even more urgent matter is for them to understand they are not alone in the universe and that arrogantly imposing their beliefs on others might not be the best way to make friends. And I know many in the Cyrannus system will have issues with other races that do not believe in what they believe. After the Goa'uld and the Ori, no planet in the Milky Way wants to hear anything about any Gods," Jack said. "That's why I'm happy that hot potato is now in someone else's hands."

"No wonder you were happy," Sam said. "What does Daniel think?"

"Well, he's not as happy as I am," he said.

"Why not?" Sam asked.

"Because he wanted to spend time with the Kobolians. After all, they are the most numerous human race we found in the galaxy. His words were, they are a strange bunch with a turbulent but interesting past," he said.

"Daniel shouldn't feel so bad. We will find the cure soon enough," Sam said. She, too, was finishing her first beer. "He can go around the galaxy and meet any of the many races out there. Then, in a few years, when the Kobolians are free to roam the galaxy, he can also meet with them again. We do plan on establishing relations with them."

"True. That is if the Vargas give us the necessary leeway," Jack said.

"No point in wondering about that now. We know they are coming. We'll see what it will be when it happens," Sam said.

The Vargas were the next major threat on the list. They knew the Vargas were coming. It was a certainty a war would soon start and that it would be a difficult one. Once the fight begins, they will have truly little time to spend checking on other races in the Milky Way galaxy. Hopefully, the Kobolians will have to fend for themselves by hiding in the corner of the galaxy that no one ever visits.

However, that would mean purely relying on luck, which wasn't how Jack liked the role. He enjoyed having some certainty, backup plans, and possibly one or two readily available miracles if the situation asks for it. That meant the offer that came from the ascended bunch had lifted a heavy weight off his chest. They would serve as the miracle, or at least he hoped.

"You're right. No reason to be negative," he replied. "And who knows, one day, after they finally get all their ducks in a row, the Kobolians might even become helpful."

"In what way?" Sam asked. "I mean, there's a big gap between them and some of the more advanced human races in the galaxy. Not to mention the Jaffa who, after us, have the strongest force in the Milky Way."

"You're right to be skeptical, but don't forget about the things the Kobolians have on their side to make up for it," he said.

"Like?" Sam asked.

"For one, they are the most numerous people in the galaxy. That means they can develop much quicker. Also, their tech base isn't as bad as you think. You don't know that, but there was a Goa'uld on the planet who made a few scientific discoveries that should shorten the gap considerably," he said.

"Wait! A Goa'uld?" Sam asked, not believing it. "Who was it?"

"We still don't know. He played a scientist—a certain Robert Desai—who made a few revolutionary discoveries. But then, his lab blew up and, allegedly, they died in the explosion," Jack said.

"Allegedly?" Sam asked.

"Come on, Sam. We know better than anyone how stubborn the Goa'uld are when it comes to dying," he said.

"You think it got away?" Sam asked.

"I'm almost certain of it! Between a reality in which a Goa'uld accidentally dies in a lab explosion, and a staged explosion meant to help them disappear, you know which one I'd choose, right?" he said.

"Well, even if it did stage everything, it's still on the planet. With the quarantine, no way it could have escaped. So, what did it discover for the Kobolians?" Sam asked.

"Umm, of the most prominent, I would say it's better computers, a fusion reactor, and a plasma weapon similar to what the Ha'tak use," he said.

After a while, Sam whistled. "They are much further than I thought. We could expect great things from them not so far into the future. Maybe even as little as three years from now."

"Now, it is you who are giving them too much credit. Their ships might have plasma weapons, but they don't have shields, and a fusion reactor can't produce the amount of power that a Naquadah reactor can," he said.

"You're wrong, and for several reasons," Sam said with confidence. She had her scientist-face on.

"What do you mean?" he asked. They might have been able to face the Cylons, but if they met a race that developed shields, they'd be in a bad spot. Between offense and defense, he thought the latter was the more critical during space battles. As a ship has more endurance, it also has more time to devise tactics or maybe even retreat if the situation asks for it. Being able to survive was the most crucial factor.

"You say that they don't have shields, but if I know how Goa'uld tech works, he probably made a fusion reactor that uses a forcefield for its containment bottle. So even if he didn't make them shields, they can analyze the forcefield and eventually modify it for use outside of a ship. The hurdle here is that a shield generator needs to do many calculations for its energy matrix not to collapse during extreme strain. Still, you said that he also has better computers, which means they probably already have the processing power to make it work. Did he also give them high-energy capacitors to store excess energy? He should have since he made the fusion reactor, and it would have been inefficient without them," Sam said. She was in full rambling mode, not stopping even to take a breath.

"Yeah, I think he did give them that too," he said, already starting to think that maybe the Kobolians already had the necessary tech to join the galactic community and be helpful in some way.

"See! Give them three years, and they will have shields. I guarantee it," Sam exclaimed.

"Okay, that might be true, but that's still far from being able to fight some of the bad guys that are lurking in our galaxy," he stated. "Also, they don't have Naquadah in their corner of the galaxy."

"That could be a problem, but not one as big as you think. First, that doesn't change much when it comes to defending their planets. They don't have Naquadah, big deal! They can build as many fusion reactors as possible on the surface of the planet, which means providing energy for defenses isn't such a problem. If a Naquadah reactor produces ten times the power of a fusion reactor, make ten times as many fusion reactors, or make them bigger. It's not like there's no room on a planet or in orbit where to put them.

"The only problem is with their ships where space is limited. At first, that might cause them to build bigger ships than necessary to house bigger reactors. It's not ideal, but it's not the end of the world either. Their ships would have a crappy acceleration and maneuverability, but you can compensate for it with the right tactics and increase fleet size. As I said before, the Kobolians have a massive industry, and there are many of them. Compared to the Jaffa, they are more numerous and much better at production than the Jaffa will ever be! And lastly, they can solve their Naquadah problems once they venture into space. Sooner or later, they are going to find a deposit. They might even directly ask us to sell them some. If we want help from them, we won't have a valid reason to refuse, would we?" Sam explained.

"Ugh, when you say it like that, I think I'll be seeing them sooner than I'd like," Jack said, now full of ideas. "If we also give them hyperdrive technology on the same level as the other races in the galaxy, they may be incredibly grateful to us. So maybe some alliance between our two people wouldn't be the worst outcome. Plus, we would be their saviors as we are going to make the cure for the pathogen," he rumbled incessantly.

"Wow! Slow down. We are here drinking a beer while trying to relax. Leave work for after lunch. Or even better, leave it for tomorrow!" Sam said.

"You're right. I shouldn't think about this stuff right now. But when I've suddenly realized that the Kobolians might be joining the rest of the galaxy much sooner than the decades I thought it would have taken, I just started thinking of all the possibilities," he said.

"That's right. It's too soon. I don't even know if the rest of the council will want the Terrans Federation to give Naquadah or hyperdrive technology to the Colonials. I mean, they are not the most stable people," Sam said.

With the Kobolians, you never know what you'd get. "It is true that they have many challenges ahead of them, especially with everything that's connected to their distant past. They will have to deal with some of the most troubling members of their society before we can agree to any exchange. But after that, I don't see why we wouldn't. There is a stash of Lantean knowledge on Kobol they will eventually discover. We should give them something that would make them indebted to us instead of just letting them discover hyperdrive blueprints independently. Hell, there's even a good pile of Naquadah inside that mountain just waiting to be taken."

With what the Lanteans left on Olympus, the Kobolians could make a quantum leap in their understanding of the universe in mere years instead of centuries. The database wasn't on the level of Atlantis—the Lanteans must have thought it would have been too much to leave them the whole database. But even what the Lanteans left was enough for the Kobolians to join the more advanced human races in the Milky Way galaxy. In a few years, they might even surpass the Jaffa. If some harmful elements were in power at that time, it could cause trouble for many people, maybe even forcing the Terrans to act despite their resolution to not interfere in the affairs of the various races in the Milky Way galaxy. Breaking their own decision wasn't something Jack liked contemplating about.

On the other hand, if the right kind of person were in power when they discover the hidden stash on Kobol, they could become an ally capable of helping while they were preoccupied with the Vargas. He did not know how the war would go between them and the Vargas, but he thought it would not be fought in the Milky Way galaxy. Because, if it were, it would mean they were fighting for their very existence in their backyard. It was better to fight the Vargas far from home, even if they had to take every ship with them. However, if the fleet were far away, having a reliable ally who can keep the Milky Way in check would be awesome.

"I'd like to think we can rely on the Jaffa for everything concerning our galaxy, but I'm not sure we can," Jack said.

"You're thinking about what will happen after the war with the Vargas begins? Our projections do say we will have to dispatch a considerable portion of our forces to distant galaxies," Sam said.

"And the Jaffa are not as reliable as one would like them to be," he said.

"So, you think the Kobolians could jump in if the Jaffa don't behave?" Sam said, perplexed. "I'm not sure about that. I don't see them as more reliable than the Jaffa. And with the Jaffa, we at least have a few good friends in high places."

With Teal'c and Bra'tac as members of the Jaffa Council, the Terrans can significantly influence the FJN's policies. Something that cannot be said for the Kobolians. Daniel was on good terms with a few people in the Expeditionary Fleet, while Jack was on a first-name basis with the President of the Colonies, which was remarkable. However, it was a far cry from the bond he had with Teal'c or even Bra'tac.

"No, the connection I have with Teal'c is levels above what I'll ever have with anyone from the Colonies. But even though our connection with Nagala isn't as strong, at least he is in control of the Colonies. Meanwhile, the Jaffa are split in half. One side is with Teal'c and Bra'tac, and the other forms a coalition of hardcore Jaffa who wishes for the old days to return. They want the Jaffa only to be warriors while discarding everything else. But unfortunately, the ways things are progressing, not even Teal'c and Bra'tac can prevent the FJN from breaking down. Only a miracle can."

"And if they break down, we will have two Jaffa nations. When it comes to helping police the galaxy, the two nations will cancel each other's out. As much as one would help us, the other would cause trouble—which means we can expect zero help after they split. I understand your train of thought, and I share it, but it could be that the empowered Colonies might cause us difficulties too. Who's to say they will be the good guys who promote peace and collaboration between the races?" Sam said.

Jack was about to reply when he noticed a portion of the table lighting up. It was a message addressed to him. No matter where he was, messages would be delivered to him without fail, even when he left all comm devices in his office, on purpose. Clicking on it, he quickly learned of its content. "Daniel's coming."

"He is? Didn't you just say he wanted to spend as much time with the Kobolians while he still can?" Sam asked.

"Who knows. Maybe they kicked him out for talking too much," he said smiling. "Well, we will ask him when he comes. He knows where we are."

"No point in ordering now. Let's wait for him to join us," Sam said.

"I'm not that hungry anyway," he said.

Their conversation had come to a stop, none of them wanting to continue discussing before Daniel came. He knew people traveled fast these days. One moment you were on a spaceship, the next on the station, and the next, you were beamed on the restaurant's terrace just next to them.

Only moments later, Daniel appeared.

"Oh, here you are," Daniel said to the two of them, quickly taking a seat next to Sam.

"Hello to you too. Let's resolve the important stuff first. I'm having another beer. What do you want to drink?" Jack asked.

"Hmm, a beer's fine, thanks," Daniel replied.

"Sam, what about you?" Jack asked.

"I'm fine for now," Sam said, showing him the almost full bottle.

"Okay then," Jack said, quickly ordering through the interactive table. "Your little excursion ended so soon. I thought you'd spend at least a few more days on Kobol. What gives?" Jack said.

"I thought so too, but they are so busy with the construction of their little city that they are not in the mood to talk to me. We did talk about a few important points, but that was it. After that, there was no point in me spending more time on that planet," Daniel explained.

"Is the construction going well?" he asked.

"What do you think? The Asgard are in charge," Daniel retorted.

"Forget I asked," he answered.

"Wait, wait! Didn't I hear about an incident a while back in which the Asgard were involved? I thought that after the incident, the Asgard and the Kobolians wouldn't be on good terms," Sam interjected.

"They aren't. Especially Thor. He's still giving them the stinky eye whenever he speaks to them. Adama is on edge because of it," Daniel explained. "Maybe that's the reason the Asgard so promptly decided to help."

"What?" Sam asked.

"It has given the Asgard a chance to spend time with the Kobolians and show them how little they like the way they resolved the issue with Cain. I think that's the main reason," Jack jumped in, giving his five cents on the matter.

"I think so too," Daniel said, but he didn't seem overly happy.

"What is it?" he asked after noticing.

"Nothing big, but, while Adama and Roslin were apologetic because they haven't punished anyone, and especially Cain, most people on Kobol treat the matter as nothing important. Like it is a closed case. Cain did something bad. She stood trial and was found not guilty for reasons of insanity. She was stripped of her rank and won't be able to command a warship ever again. To most Colonials, she received the punishment she deserved. Case closed," Daniel explained.

Jack understood. Everyone has double standards, and very few can assess a situation objectively without favoring one side or the other. If the roles were reversed, the Kobolians would ask for the Terrans ship's commander to be sent to the gallows. They would have probably asked for more officers to follow and even asked for reparations, especially if they were in the same position as the Terrans, with a backer as strong as the Asgard. They alone could dictate who was in the right and who was in the wrong.

However, since the guilty party was them, and the one who did the deed was a commander in their fleet, punishing him by stripping her of her rank was, in their view, sufficient. "But the Asgard don't like how the matter was dealt."

"Yes, they understand the Kobolians will be on the side of the Kobolians; that's to be expected. But the Asgard are angry at them for not being remorseful enough for how everything turned out," Daniel said.

"That's exactly the problem I was talking about. The Kobolians might turn into a problem when they step on the galactic stage and start interacting with other races," Sam said.

"Aren't you blowing it out of proportion just because they didn't apologize strongly enough?" Jack asked. Sure, it would be better if they showed remorse, but it isn't the end of the world.

"I don't think she's wrong, Jack," Daniel added.

The other two agreed, but he could not understand why. Not fully anyway. "Okay, but you'll have to explain it to me then."

Sam was the one to start. "They are not apologizing. Why do you think that is?"

"It's their people who did a bad thing. No one can be so coldhearted to judge their people the same way they would judge someone unrelated," Jack explained.

"Well, that certainly plays a part, but I think there's more," Sam said, noticing that Daniel was nodding in agreement. She continued. "You can be on your people's side even when they are in the wrong, but that doesn't preclude you showing remorse. The problem lies somewhere else. I think that they still believe they are the chosen children. They believe the Lords of Kobol are gods who left the galaxy to do as they please. They still think they are above others and that the same standards don't apply to them as do to other races in the galaxy, both human and especially alien. I would say their behavior is like, let's say, five hundred years ago, a noble's carriage driving through a street runs over a commoner who couldn't escape in time. In the noble's mind, the commoner shouldn't have been in front of their carriage. Even worse, they might punish the commoner because they made the noble stop, slow down, or maybe just for damaging the carriage."

"You're saying that, like the noble in your little story, the Kobolians feel superior compared to anyone else in the Milky Way galaxy. They might even think we should be satisfied with Cain receiving a simple slap on the wrist?" Jack said, contemplating the possible ramifications.

"If they were just on their people's side, like we, the Asgard, or any other race we know they would, that would be fine. But if they are not apologizing because they think they are superior to others, then we have a problem," Daniel said. "I think the Asgard and even Adama and Roslin are concerned for the same reason."

"You mean, the Asgard are pissed because the Kobolians act arrogantly, while Adama and Roslin understand their people are acting self-importantly and are afraid of the possible consequences," Jack surmised.

"Even worse, I think Adama and Roslin know the flaw in their people's thinking but don't know how to correct it, or if it's even possible," Daniel added. "And if people as smart as Adama and Roslin think like that, then we are in a pickle here. We are talking about slowly changing their mindset over decades here, if not over several generations."

"Ah, my idea of the Kobolian helping out is disappearing," he said dejectedly.

"Well, no reason to feel down so soon. It might not be that bad," Daniel added. He must have noticed how depressed he had become. "With proper guidance, we can prevent them from offending other races or causing even bigger disagreements. If we can guide their interaction with other races, they may still join the larger community five or maybe even as soon as three years from now. They might even be helpful if we don't have enough forces to patrol every little corner of our galaxy—especially when dealing with pirates and strange organizations like the Lucian Alliance that might arise in the future. I don't know where they get their ships these days, though. It's like the galaxy is full of old Goa'uld junk that the bad guys are picking wherever they turn."

Many dubious organizations occasionally sprang as if out of nowhere. It was also impossible to watch over all of them. After all, they had better things to do. However, if they could not get their hands on spaceships capable of fast interstellar travel, such organizations wouldn't be much of a threat. No one could become the next Lucian Alliance without having access to a steady supply of ships, spare parts, or a place to do repairs. He was sure no pirate knew how to fix a hyperdrive. He also believed that no 'Hyperdrives for Pirates (Dummies)' book could be found lying around.

"I get what you're saying, Daniel, but as things are right now, it would be best not to count on the Kobolians. Or am I wrong?" Jack said.

"You're not wrong. Even more so because the ascended have also decided to interfere. If everything were fine, with the Kobolians already on the right track, the ascended wouldn't have decided to meddle," Jack said.

"I'm hungry. Can we order?" Sam asked. She had enough talk about the Kobolians.

"We can, and we will," Jack said. Even after ordering, it would still take time for food to be ready. Drinks could be teleported on their table immediately, straight from the fridge, but food needed to be cooked by a chef. He also had the feeling that Sam wanted to change the subject. After all, she wasn't all that interested in the Kobolians and their troubles. "We can also change to a lighter subject. It's not like we will come to any kind of epiphany regarding the Kobolians today."

"Agreed. I spent days talking to them about their worries. Besides, I'm not all that keen on having lunch while talking about them," Daniel added.

The Kobolians. The race with the most people in the Milky Way galaxy. Not even the Aschen had ever been that numerous. In his opinion, it would be good to make friends with them. However, not wasn't the time. The time would come in a few years when the Terrans will have to decide whether to push the Kobolians to join the rest of the galaxy or if they would rather keep them hidden and safe in their corner of the galaxy.

But now, it was time to order food and stop thinking about complicated matters. After all, they did choose to come out of their offices for that reason. Daniel joining was a welcoming bonus.

"So, what are you two having?" Jack said, eagerly awaiting their answer.

- The End -

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