Categories > TV > Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica: Dawn

by Treadstone17 1 review

Galactica has just jumped away after the cataclysmic showdown with The Colony. She emerges in a Solar System containing nine planets and one sun. It is the year 2022 on Earth, and a former NASA...

Category: Battlestar Galactica - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Sci-fi - Characters: Gaius Baltar,Starbuck - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2017-05-27 - Updated: 2017-05-31 - 17654 words - Complete

1Exciting
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

DAWN


PROLOGUE

Racetrack would have thought it was a fitting end had she been alive. But now in death, she would atone for her sins in joining the uprising that nearly brought down Adama. As her Raptor and her remains floated through space, physics would save her soul.

The dead Raptor was floating aimlessly above The Colony. Its nose had just started to pitch up when a piece of space debris impacted the top of the starboard wing. The smooth, fluid motion of the meandering, lifeless Raptor was interrupted and a jolt went through the ship. When that happened Racetrack's lifeless hand dropped onto the firing button, letting loose the eight nuclear warheads under the Raptor's wings, already programmed to hone in on The Colony. Within five seconds the warheads slammed into the Cylon superstructure, beginning its own imminent death.

Admiral Adama felt the impact of the nukes on The Colony, not really comprehending at first what could have caused such a massive jolt. All the Vipers and Raptors had been recalled. What could have caused such monumental explosions? Something within Galactica, or something on The Colony? He wasn't sure, but he was sure that whatever it was would rip Galactica apart if they didn't disengage from the hole they had created in The Colony.

"We gotta get out of here!", he screamed, cradling Laura Roslin in his grasp. He looked up to see the closest person to the FTL was Starbuck. "Starbuck, jump the ship!" As she scrambled towards the Jump mechanism, she hollered back "I don't have the rendezvous coordinates!", realizing if she jumped blindly, they could end up inside a star or something just as final.

Adama didn't hesitate "Doesn't matter, just jump us out of here now! Jump..."

Galactica came out of the jump with sickening screeches and explosions as if she split asunder. The damage that Chief Tyrol had found from too many corners that had been cut during her original construction, plus the damage caused by the apocalyptic battle against The Colony and the desperate jump to escape, was almost too much for the Old Girl. Her superstructure bent and contorted, like a wet washcloth being wrung out. Fires broke out topside as if an oven had been lit and more pieces of the ship flew off, floating along with the crippled ship through space. But she remained intact. The sub -light engines miraculously cut back on. Galactica limped forward

Admiral Adama got to his feet as the ship stabilized, and looked around what remained of the CIC. "XO, Sitrep. Damage report".

Tigh, still up on the scaffold where Sam and the other four Cylons had been attempting to download the Resurrection designs for Cavil, glanced down at Tory's lifeless body, her head grotesquely twisted to one side after Galen had snapped her neck. Serves her right, he said to himself as he passed The Chief, who was staring blankly into nothingness. He'd have done the same frackin' thing to that over-amped Cylon. "Aye, sir", he said out loud descending the stairs.

He almost didn't need to glance at the Systems board. He could feel in his old Cylon bones what he already knew. "We're mostly here. The engines, life support." He began to walk back towards his post at CIC. "But there's red lines through her lateral structural members". He and the Old Man shared a look. "She's broke her back., she'll never jump again."

That stopped everyone on the bridge cold. Everyone in CIC had sensed that Galactica was heavily damaged, but Tigh's words gave it credence. Even so, Adama was still giving orders. "Well, wherever we are is where we're gonna stay."

President Roslin straightened up and looked directly over at the young Captain. She asked the question that was on everyone's mind.

"Where have you taken us, Kara?"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

I

June 2022

Leslie Michalak glanced at her three computer screens. She knew nothing was wrong or that nothing exciting was going on, but as when driving a car and sometimes checking the rearview and side-view mirrors, she did glance at her computer screens every few minutes, while finishing up her paperwork from yesterday's watch.

Leslie was a thirty-seven year old and single. She had been working at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland for going on 9 years now. She had joined SFC after a stint in the Navy, where she had studied engineering and photographic analysis. Helping to track and program the Hubble Space Telescope on a daily was like a dream come true for her. She had wanted to fly, but she didn't meet the physical standards for a pilot, let alone an Astronaut.

Today, Hubble had been tasked to study a region beyond the current orbit of Uranus. The target was some ninety-one light years away, an interesting clump of stars that seemed relatively close together that NASA wanted more information about. It was just an ordinary day. Or so she thought.

Something caught her eye as she glanced at Screen #1 to her left. She didn't "see" what Hubble was looking at; she just read the information that the space-bound telescope was sending back in the form of calculations and information. And while Hubble is programmed to see deep into space, it can detect movement much closer to Earth if something crosses its field of vision. The data on the computer terminal said that something HAD crossed its field of vision.

Leslie called the Operations Manager on Duty to inform him of the event. She wasn't overly excited, as meteors and comets and space flotsam often registered with Hubble all the time.

"Sir, Hubble has spotted an object or objects moving within her field of vision. Distance approximately 2.7 billion kilometers from Earth. No speed or path plotted yet."

"OK, Leslie", said Senior Controller Marvis West, a former Astronaut. "I'll get STScI to put eyes on the data to see what we can find out." And with that, Leslie passed the information on to the actual programmers and analysts who could see what Hubble saw. Her part in the matter was over.

Senior Analyst Vidum Kadman had received the information from Marvis West a few minutes before and was preparing Hubble to look closer at the information passed along, indicating a moving object within Hubble's line of sight. A third-generation American who's grandparents had come from India, he had been in the Astronaut program. But after the Space Shuttle program had ended, he signed on with the Space Telescope Scientific Institute, which was housed at Goddard. He'd been with STScI for twelve years

He punched in the coordinates where the event had been observed and directed Hubble to focus there on its next pass. Hubble orbited every ninety-seven minutes, and the information he had been given was about 21 minutes old, so in approximately seventy-six minutes, Hubble would get another look at whatever was moving. It was nearing 11 am, and Vidum figured it would be a good time to eat his lunch.

When he returned, it was only a few minutes before Hubble would be in the position needed to track the target. At first, he wouldn't "see" what Hubble saw. Like Leslie, he would get readings on the object. The computer would then extrapolate from the data what was being "seen", and after that, Vidum could bring up an image that Hubble had recorded.

This first pass indicated that not enough date was available to make a preliminary analysis. That wasn't unusual either, as the telescope sometimes needed to gather additional date. He figured that after another two passes should give Hubble enough to take a run at what was out there. He would let the system do its work.

Hubble finished it's third pass around 4:49 pm. A few minutes lateR the analysis came over the computer terminal: the object was traveling approximately 16,500 kph, and was...turning? Objects in space didn't turn suddenly, or they never had when Vidum had examined the data. But the data said that the object had made a twenty-seven-degree turn, and that...the speed had dropped to 11,291 kph? There's no way that's right, his scientific-oriented mind objected. Maybe it was time to see what Hubble was looking at.

He punched up the images that Hubble had taken on the target. He had to focus inward on what the telescope was seeing, as it would not be very large within Hubble's sight line. The computer program helped him narrow in on the object...

…...It didn't look like anything he had seen before. It wasn't a ball of ice or metal. It didn't have a tail of gas or ice behind it. It had real shape and texture to it. It seemed to have a geometric composition to it. But the image was still so small, relatively speaking, that he thought his eyes might be playing tricks on him. He increased the size of the image by a factor of fifteen.

He blinked a few times before focusing back on the image. The shape certainly didn't resemble a piece of rock. Was it...a ship? It still wasn't registering with his mind all that well. He increased again by a factor of ten.

His breath caught on the intake, and wouldn't release for a few moments. There it was. It was...a ship? It's a goddamned ship! It wasn't space junk in an orbit anywhere near earth. This was out in the environs of Uranus. That giant teal-colored orb of ice and gas certainly didn't have anything from Earth parked near it.

He requested more information from Hubble on the...ship? It still didn't look big in the photograph, but the estimated measurements from the data indicated it was immense by human standards. He could see a superstructure; it looked like there were two wings or pods on either side, but couldn't make out what those were at that distance. But it clearly wasn't a comet or meteor. And it WAS slowing down, and it HAD turned. And no...ship...on Earth had ever approached such dimensions.

He adjusted his headset and with a clearly shaking hand, moved the cursor on his computer to the phone app to call Marvis West. "Marvis, I think you had better come over here. You're not gonna believe this..." He looked at the time: 4:57 pm, Wednesday, April 27th, 2022.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

II

Justin Michael Bond was in the Oval Office, finishing up his day's work. The President Of The United States hadn't had a big schedule today. He had met with the Congressional Leadership that morning trying to break the budget deadlock that always seemed to smite the American government every spring. It wasn't a contentious meeting, just the usual, tedious, back-and-forth of negotiating with Congress. Democracy in action.

After the previous Administration's attempt to literally destroy the American government, there was beginning to be more cooperation between the two parties that dominated American politics. He was forty-nine years old, a former Air Force Colonel and Fighter Pilot, originally from St. Cloud, Minnesota, and now the Forty-Sixth President Of The United States. He felt good about where his administration was going. His Party was back in power, and the nation was beginning to heal after a tumultuous couple of decades of internal strife. The economy was humming along nicely. Not spectacularly, but well enough that it wouldn't hurt his standing in the polls. The nation was relatively at peace. The threat from ISIS in the Middle East was still the main concern in foreign affairs, but even there, the world was making progress.

He was making changes to a speech he was going to deliver tomorrow in Denver on his proposals to strengthen environmental regulations and to speed up the use of renewable energy in the United States. After that, he'd go into the family quarters to have dinner with his wife, Judith, and their two children, Nicholas who was seventeen, and Abby who was now fourteen.

There was a knock on the Oval Office door. He wasn't expecting anyone at 7 pm. In walked National Security Adviser Adellyn Harris. "Mr. President, Admiral Lawrence needs to see you urgently in the Situation Room". The word "urgently" wasn't verbalized often in the military, but when it was, the President knew it was damn serious. And, knowing Air Force General Aiden Lawrence as he did, he knew coming from the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs it must be damn critical. "I'll head right down, Adellyn".

"Any idea what this is about?" The president asked his adviser as they ascended the stairs to the Situation Room. "Not a hint, sir," Responded Adellyn, "But he sounded pretty wound up about whatever it was. Nothing on the Threat Board lately."

"There hasn't been", President Bond rejoined "Things have been real quite. I guess that's about to change" he said ruefully. He couldn't have known how prophetic that quip would be.

The Secret Service opened the door to the Situation room for him. "Ten-hut!", bellowed General Lawrence, and all the Military personnel sprang to their feet in attention for the arrival of the Commander-In-Chief. The President waved everyone back to their seats. "As you were, ladies and gentlemen. OK, Aiden, I was just headed up to dinner and have some pork chops, so this had better be good."

"Mr. President", the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff excitedly said without preamble, "I suggest you stay back in that seat for what I'm about to tell you..."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

It was approaching 9 am Eastern Daylight Time. Those waking up, watching the morning news shows while getting ready for work were informed that the President would be making an address to the nation at the top of the hour. The White House had begun informing the networks at the ungodly hour of 5 am that this was a major address. No details were given. It was highly unusual for a president to hold a televised address to the nation early in the morning, or for that matter, late at night. The last off-hour address had been by President Obama in May of 2011 when at 11:30 pm on a Saturday night, he had gone on television to announce the military had located and killed Osama bin Laden. If it wasn't during Prime Time it had to be something unexpected or extraordinary.

It was.

The President had been up all night. The media knew something was stirring, as the President had held an emergency Cabinet meeting at 11:30 pm in the Oval Office. Not all the cabinet members were there but State, Defense, Homeland Security and Treasury were all in attendance. Every Embassy and Consulate around the world had requested an immediate audience with every head of state where the U.S had diplomatic relations. In the few nations where it had no representation, such as Iran and North Korea, the Swiss were briefed and requested audiences.

The President had as a precaution, put the U.S. Military at DEFCON Three. There were five Defense Conditions, from Five, which is normal peacetime, all the way to One, which meant war was near or at hand. The President had personally phoned a few key heads of state, such as Russia, China, to inform them of the raising of the U.S. Military posture, and that it wasn't aimed at them.

Now, he would inform his citizens and those of the rest of the world the news.

"Good morning, my fellow Americans, and fellow citizens of the world. It is highly unusual for an American President to address the nation at such an early hour of any day, but the events of the last few hours compel me to address you immediately.

"At 7 pm yesterday, NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland advised The White House of the following information. At approximately 10:48 am yesterday morning, STScI received data from The Hubble Space Telescope that a moving object had been detected in Hubble's line of site, approximately 2.1 billion miles from earth and just beyond the Planet Uranus. Now meteors, comets, asteroids are observed all the time moving within the sight of space telescopes, telescopes here on earth, and even by the naked eye. However by approximately 4:57 pm photographs analyzed from Hubble indicated that the target had made a twenty-seven-degree turn, and had slowed from an estimated speed of 9400 miles per hour to a speed of about 6800 miles per hour. The images analyzed in Maryland also indicated a consistent geometry to the object. It was determined that it was not a naturally occurring phenomenon. It was determined to be a spacecraft of some kind. There is no spacecraft from Earth anywhere in the vicinity of Uranus.

"Initial indications are that this craft is approximately a mile and a half, or just under two and one-half kilometers in length; approximately three-fourths of a mile, or approximately 1.2 kilometers in width, and those same measurements in height. Further analysis seems to indicate that the object is under internal propulsion. And this morning, another thirty much smaller ships were also detected in the immediate vicinity of this larger ship. In other words, from all accounts, this is a fleet of ships from another world. NASA and the United States Department of Defense informs me that they believe there may be other vessels in the vicinity of those already identified.

He paused and took a brief sip of water. He imagined that maybe a few people in the United States might be taking a brief sip of something a little stronger than water, even at this early hour. He continued on.

"I immediately instructed The State Department to contact all U.S. Embassies around the globe to request immediate audiences with the heads of state of every nation on the planet. In those few nations that the United States does not have an embassy, the Swiss were kind enough to ask for and were granted audiences. They advised every leader of every nation of what I have just told you. We made available to them, and, shortly, the Department of Defense and NASA will make available to the public the photographic evidence of this discovery.

"Also, as a purely precautionary measure, I have directed the Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff to move the U.S. Armed Forces to a higher defense posture. We have assured the other governments of Earth that this is no way directed towards them and have made all our moves known to them. Furthermore, by the authority granted to my by the Constitution in times of crisis, I am freezing all prices and all wages to what they were at the very moment I began this address with you.

"I have considered and rejected, for the time being, calls to impose Martial Law to keep the peace within the borders of the United States. I will trust the American people to remain calm and to conduct themselves peacefully.

"I have requested an Emergency Meeting of both the United Nations Security Council and of the General Assembly to take place Sunday in New York. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has invited all heads-of-state to come to New York if they can so that the community of nations can take counsel together and discuss this historical event.

"As of right now, our analysis also indicates that these ships are not headed directly toward Earth, but seem to be moving in an orbit arching around, and still beyond the orbit of Uranus. Again these ships are not, at this time, moving closer to Earth, and do not seem to be, at present, an immediate threat to the planet. That obviously could change at any moment.

"So, we now know that there is somebody else in the Universe. It's a question that mankind had long debated. That debate is over. The community of nations will meet to take counsel together on how we will respond to these events, and what our course of action should be if these ships approach Earth. We will be as open as we can with the citizens of this planet at all times.

"We do not know if this represents a threat to humanity or an opportunity for humanity. We simply do not have enough information. If those ships are being navigated by intelligent beings, we must assume they see us as well and will, in due course, try to communicate in one form or another. In what form that communication turns out to be is yet unknown.

"The United States government will continue to provide information to the other nations of Earth, as well as to all the peoples of Earth, when we receive it and after we have analyzed it. Until then, I urge people to remain calm, but vigilant.

"Thank you very much, and God bless you."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

III

After the life-or-death battle and jump away from The Colony, the last thing anyone had expected was to end up in a Solar System that had a planet that looked almost exactly like Earth. It was the third planet from the only sun in this system, which had what appeared to be nine or ten planets. After ensuring Galactica wasn't going to disintegrate from under them, they began their reconnaissance of this new world. It didn't take long through electronic tracking to realize that there was life on the third rock from the sun.

When that was established, the Admiral ordered Raptors in for close surveillance of the world. It was a risk, as it quickly became apparent that this planet, whoever occupied it, had objects in orbit, and could probably track an incoming vessel. It was decided that Raptors would jump in, and immediately go dark. That way, they could appear as mere space flotsam. Their job was to collect any audio or visual information to start identifying the inhabitants. They were picking up audio that was crystal clear, even at this distance from the planet. Trying to get clear video from that same spot was proving to be a challenge. Collecting video intel would be the primary mission of the Raptors.

Kara and Lee had been the obvious choice to pilot the first Raptor for a closer inspection. They wouldn't let those they commanded do anything they wouldn't themselves do, so they volunteered for the first assignment. Of course, that meant Helo felt compelled to come along as the man operating the electronic surveillance.

"Galactica, Raptor 84, ready to depart", Lee said in a businesslike tone. "Requesting clearance".

"Raptor 84, Galactica, Commander, you are cleared for departure, turn left course 081 carom 224, jump fifteen seconds after clearing the hangar."

"Roger, Galactica, course 081 carom 224, jump fifteen after clearance of threshold. Raptor 84 out."

The jump went smoothly, and Lee immediately powered down the ship as they came out of the jump. Again, the idea was to look simply like more space junk. From what they could tell when Helo began his passive scans, it seemed to have worked. Nothing approached them. Maybe they didn't have ships in the area, Helo mused.

Lee's instincts turned on. "I'm beginning to think they don't have any ships up here, just satellites. We haven't tracked anything that has left the planet since we got here."

Kara hadn't even considered that. "Damn, you're right. I mean, we track nothing with propulsion up here. Anywhere. Think we could chance turning the bird back on and peek our snout in a little closer?"

Lee shook his head. "No, mission parameters remain. Maybe they can't reach us, but why even find out that if we don't have to. OK, Helo, start the music."

For the next hour or so, Helo let the computers do their work, collecting as much audio and video data from the surface as they could. Orders were to run everything for an hour, check what they had found, then collect for another hour, and then jump back.

The three of them spent the time in idle chatter but also spending a lot of time eyeballing the blue sphere below them.

"This place looks freakishly like Earth, Kara. I mean the continents look different, but it's the same frackin' color and everything. It's almost the same size. Are you sure we aren't dreaming?"

"I hope it's a better 'dream' than we had on that ball of radiation", shuddered Captain Thrace. "I don't exactly have good memories of that place, you know." One wouldn't have good memories about finding their "body", and immolating it, just before leaving that Godsforsaken hell hole.

"Yeah, neither do I", Lee echoed, recalling that shortly after arriving there, his estranged wife Dee had killed herself, for reasons unknown. "That wasn't exactly an experience anyone of us wants to remember. I wish we could do to our brains what we can do to computers, and simply wipe that memory clean away"

"So say we all", chimed in Helo. Karl had probably handled the experience on Earth better than anyone, Cylon or Human. But like his shipmates, he didn't want to be reminded of that experience, either.

The Raptor crew allowed the system to gather information for about two hours, as their ship floated along. "OK, Helo, I think we've collected enough data."

"Do we wait til we get back to Galactica to take a peek at what we have?"

"Oh, hell no, Karl, we're out here, we get the first look", he said with a broad grin on his face. "We can flip on the video monitor and not give away anything about ourselves to the inhabitants." Kara and Helo both heartily approved of that thought.

"OK, I'm gonna bring up the information so we can see who our friends are", announced Helo. "You guys wanna wedge yourselves in back here to take a look?"

"We should have brought some cold one's to watch the show", Kara said impishly. Both of her male colleagues shared knowing looks.

Kara and Lee wiggled out of their seats and took station behind Helo. Helo typed in a few commands into the computer, and images began to appear on the screen. They weren't expecting any portentous message from whoever occupied the planet, just some average broadcasts.

But what they saw took their breaths away.

Kara, Lee, and Karl all stared, mouths agape, barely unable to comprehend what they were seeing.

"This isn't possible, guys", Helo whispered. "It just isn't! Let me run through some more images. Maybe this is some kind of entertainment program or something." He bounced around the recording, but the images kept coming back to the same thing.

Lee finally was able to take a breath, which had left him upon seeing the images of the beings in the video feed. He stared dazedly over at his two friends. "They look...human."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

ONE MONTH LATER

"OK, people, let's get to it", Admiral Adama calmly said. He didn't have to tell them what "it" was. "It" was the only thing that had consumed the entire fleet for the last thirty days or so. "It" was the discovery that a planet full of human beings existed seven planets away from where they currently were.

Upon discovering this populated planet, the Admiral had sent Raptors out on multiple missions to scout this world, jumping in the Raptors as close as he dared to find out who and what occupied that rock. The Raptors always went in cold, so they couldn't be detected, at least not easily. The consensus on the fleet was that these alleged human beings could see Galactica, and something akin to space telescopes had been spotted on more than a few intelligence-gathering missions. Admiral Adama wanted to dictate, if he could, on the when Galactica would make the first contact with the planet. He didn't want any unforeseen mishap announcing their approach.

Adama had tried to keep things as business-like as he could and discouraged any idle gossip or speculation. He realized some of that would happen, but it wouldn't help matters if it got out of hand. He understood everyone was curious as hell, but he wanted them to also do their jobs.

He first looked at Tigh, with a glance that indicated a Sitrep was in order. "Admiral, repairs are still going along nicely. The Old Lady is getting back to being in pretty good shape. We know she'll never jump again, but the lateral structures have been reinforced as much as we can reinforce them with that frackin' Cylon goop. We can do top speed sub-light indefinitely. She won't shake apart if we baby her for a while longer."

Kelly spoke up next. "Sir, we picked up some transmissions from our latest intel that confirms that they know we're out here. Here's a video from what has to be some kind of news broadcast, and it shows an image of Galactica on it. So they have the capability, even from this distance, to see us, and to see that we're not a comet or anything."

"Then those were space telescopes that our missions have seen. Those aren't bad images if you ask me." William Adama said approvingly as he stared at the representation Kelly had passed to him. He passed them on to the others in on the briefing.

"Still no sign that they can do anything about us, even if we light up the Raptors, Boss", Kara added to the skull session. "You still want to keep us cold when we jump in? It doesn't matter much"

"It may not matter to us, Captain Thrace", Tigh said evenly, "but it may damn well matter to them if we light up a dozen or so birds in their orbit. It may cause a panic down there that could kill a lot of people. I'd rather skip any more death for the time being."

Kara nodded her assent. She and Tigh hadn't always gotten along, but she respected him more than she had ever let on, and when he was right, he was right.

Gaius Baltar cleared his throat and spoke up, and shifted the conversation. "Admiral, with all the intelligence we've gathered, I can make a fairly accurate guess as to how many people inhabit the planet. Of course, these numbers could be off but we're guessing that the planet has approximately 6 billion inhabitants. Plus, we've identified, so far, about 125 different nations, that govern themselves. We've think identified the three most influential entities, all in the Northern Hemisphere. All three seem to dominate the planet's course in one way or another. And it seems that most of the industrialization is in the Northern half of the planet as well."

"Six billion, eh?" Adama grunted. "It's not like what we had in the colonies, but that's quite a few inhabitants of a planet of that size. You say the Northern Continent seems more developed, Doctor?"

"Yes, Admiral, it does seem that way. We have been able to identify more pollution in the air above the Northern zones. That doesn't mean that the Southern Hemisphere is void of life. I'd say there's at least 2 billion or so living in the South, but the North seems to dominate the planet, at least on an industrial level."

Admiral Adama turned the conversation in another direction. "Doctor Baltar is working on a program that can figure out how to communicate with our cousins on the surface. How's the work coming, Doc?"

"We're still in the very early stages of that process. I have put together a team of linguists and computer programmers, and we're still working on trying to come up with a program to understand languages down there. Early indications are that there are a lot of different languages or at least dialects spoken. We need more samples of their language, in both audio and video presentations. We're hoping that once we get a larger base and sample then we can begin to feed information into our system to see what we can come up with."

"That means more birds going in cold" Kara announced. "We can increase the rotations of flights in by about twenty-five percent before we really start messing with people's rest periods."

"Do it". Adama ordered. "Don't wear everyone out, but if we can increase our tempo of scouting missions, it may help the Doc and his team to start figuring out how we can talk to them."

"Will do Boss", Kara confirmed.

"I'll issue the orders for expanded flights right after we're done here." Lee joined in. "Gaius, you can pilot a Raptor. Want to be in on a few of the missions?"

"You know, Commander, I think I'd quite like that." He said with no small satisfaction.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

President Justin Bond looked around at the large Conference table in the United Nations. Fully fifty-three Heads-Of-State were present, pondering what they could do if anything with an alien presence now within the Solar System. Even that couldn't end animosities that had run for years, or decades, or even centuries, but they were starting to melt away when faced with the possible prospect of one's annihilation. The leaders of the planet, along with their people, were having to re-evaluate their relationships with others and to re-evaluate their very being in a very short period of time. That was not easy for Human Being's to swallow.

But pride was still a big thing among many, and, indeed, pride was needed to stiffen the nerves of the world's people. The first instinct was to fight. Human history on Earth was one of literally nonstop conflict between some group or another, going back thousands of years, not only in history books but in religious documents as well. War had been man's past time from the beginning. But how could you fight someone you couldn't reach?

"Ladies and Gentlemen", President Bond asked for recognition. "I appreciate and am heartened by your desire that, if it comes to it, that we will fight for our survival. But the fact remains that while we can prepare we cannot engage this species unless they choose to come down here. We have to assume that if they can travel long distances, they must have weapons on board their ships that can be fired from space. That doesn't leave us with many options."

"Justin Mikaelovich", began the Russian President, Anton Gregorious Dytsav. "You are correct, but I find it disconcerting that you don't seem enthusiastic about fighting these aliens if they are hostile. You have a record as a brave, talented fighter pilot. Correct me if I am mistaken, my friend."

The U.S and Russia had been the big boys on the block since the end of the Second World War, and even now, when the two leaders had already accomplished so much to undo the damage caused by the last American Administration there was always something to prod each other about.

"Anton, I will not flinch from a fight, and you know that. I flew sorties in Iraq and Afghanistan twenty years ago, and, if I need to, I'll jump in the cockpit of an F-22 and will do so again if these visitors are bent on conquest. But my point is simple: they can set the terms of whatever is going on, not us. We don't have anything that we can negotiate with, is that not true.?"

The Iranian President, Hooshan Zend, who had been trying to lead his nation back into the mainstream of the world in recent years, picked up on the conversation. "It is a difficult paradox we face, my friends. Anton, you are correct, that honor, as people, dictates that if we have to fight we will, even in the face of almost sure destruction. Yet President Bond is correct. We have no cards to play as this unfolds."

A few groans around the table showed that old ways of thinking died hard, but an unexpected voice rose to the defense of the Iranian President.

"I must stand in agreement with our friend from Iran." The murmuring stopped. Israeli Prime Minister Gabriel Hefetz was a former Tank Commander in the Israeli Army. Approaching seventy-five years old now he had been no friend of Iran and had fought as a very young man in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

"Continue, Prime Minister", the Iranian nodded his head toward the leader of his country's sworn enemy.

"Thank you, Mr. President. President Zend is correct. We can offer nothing that they probably do not already have; we cannot reach them if they decide to send bombs, or missiles, or laser weapons, or whatever the hell they shoot from their ships. They can dictate the terms. I will lay down my life in defense of our peoples if it's called on to do so. I don't think I'd fit very well in a tank anymore, but I'll die trying", he said and the tension broke for a moment, as everyone without exception laughed.

Russia and the U.S had already made their official feelings known, so China had to add hers. "My friends", President Xi Zhan glanced around the room with a placid expression. "All of those who have spoken so far have brought honor to their nations. There is no easy way to look at this. Our instincts are to fight, of that there is no doubt. But in the end, if the alien devils are hostile the results will be the same." Without exception, everyone in the room smiled ruefully to themselves. All of their nations without fail had been called "foreign devils" by China at one point in time or another in their history. "But the question now is simple: what can we do?"

Everyone pondered that for a moment. The Finnish President spoke up next for the more non-aligned nations. "Might I make a suggestion. There is no doubt that all of us will prepare our military's along lines we deem necessary. But since we have no real card to play could we perhaps not select a representative of this planet to at least make a statement to whoever is master of those ships"

Chile spoke up next. "You're suggesting a speech perhaps?"

"Yes", Finland continued. "I think logic dictates that anyone who can travel from wherever they came from will be able to pick up audio and video transmissions from us. And I would also think that if they are studying us, as we are studying them right now, they have to be thinking of a way to communicate with us, is that not correct?"

There were nods around the table and murmurs of agreement. "The only question to that is will their attempt to communicate with us be a reply of words, or bombs on top of our balding heads?", Cuba's President quipped. Again, it broke the tension in the room just enough to keep things moving forward.

Everyone turned instinctively toward the Secretary General of the United Chai'at of Thailand was the first female Secretary General. She had overcome much of the male dominance of that institution to establish herself as the world's top diplomat, and now the world would look to her for guidance in a situation like this.

"I think I agree with our distinguished friend from Finland. We do not have many military options that are viable. I believe it prudent that we craft a message to be broadcast stating our point of view on the crisis at hand, to whoever is aboard those ships. All in favor? All opposed?" No one opposed the consensus. "The ayes have it."

"Madam Secretary", the President of Nigeria spoke up. "Might I put a name into nomination for making the speech on behalf of all of us?"

"Certainly, Mr. President." The Secretary General nodded her head toward the Nigerian. He bowed his head in return.

"Thank you, Madam Secretary. I think it important that we have someone who not only represents his people well but who represents humanity just as well. And I think it also important that we select someone who has seen combat, and knows that there is nothing romantic about its brutality, but would be willing to give their lives, as we all would, for our collective survival."

Oh, shit... Justin Bond knew what was going.

"I nominate the President of The United States for this honor."

"SECOND!" Shouted China.

The vote came swiftly, and Justin Bond had been volunteered. After the applause for their choice had died down, the American President addressed them. "I thank my colleagues for the faith and trust they have shown in giving me the honor to address the unknown race in our Solar System" I needed this honor like I need a hole in my head, he thought to himself, but his face remained passive. "If I may, I will have my speechwriters and I retire to our quarters for the evening, and I will have a draft for your consideration in the morning." And everyone applauded again, but the President could almost feel the wryness in the approbations. They were all thinking the same thing: better you than us, pal.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

IV

THREE WEEKS LATER

Gaius Baltar had barely slept
in the last three weeks. Even though Admiral Adama had told him that he wasn't looking for miracles he knew that deep down the Admiral needed him to come through on figuring out at least one of the languages of the planet they were monitoring. It wasn't that Adama had lied to him. But Adama was good at reading people and he understood that his charges were under enough pressure as it was.

Ever since the battle at The Colony, Gaius had been seeing life and his existence in a new light. He was letting go of that personality and ideology that had put himself front-and-center in everything. From being a religious icon to a political lightning rod, he had so many times been worried about one thing, and that was Gaius Baltar. And all that cult of personality had ever gotten him was resentment and grief. But rescuing Hera, and helping defend Galactica, even in his own small way, in what could have very easily been the climatic battle for humanity, and his Epiphany in CIC while facing down Cavil, had changed him. He knew he would never be pure as the driven snow, but he also knew he could contribute far beyond his own fame.

Maybe it was just that he was maturing; maybe it was the aborted coup, where a promising young officer like Felix Gaeta, who he had admired could throw his life away because of old grudges; maybe it was because Caprica had told him she was finally proud of him, just before the battle at The Colony began. Maybe he just realized that life was too short and too precious to waste on self-aggrandizement. Maybe it was what he was planning for he and Caprica.

But immediately upon learning that there was life on this planet and that they seemed to be human, he had, without anyone's consent, began trying to put together a computer program that could translate one or more of the languages those natives spoke, into the Caprican language, and, eventually, visa-versa. There were a few very well-versed linguists and computer programmers within the fleet, and he quietly made calls on them to get them working on the program. When he went to Admiral Adama and told him of what he was starting, Adama admitted that he hadn't even been thinking that far ahead. He had given Gaius his blessing. Adama had even added to the number of missions to the planet to increase their database. He had even flown on about a dozen missions himself.

Even though the scout missions were ongoing, he now felt he had a large enough database to go to the next step, which was to try and sort out the languages that seemed to be common, and, from there, hopefully, pick out a language that perhaps was even more common than all the others. As wonderful as computers were, trying to learn languages from scratch, with no reference, wasn't easy work.

Once the main language was identified, the computer programs they had devised were beginning to look for patterns, commonalities and inflections, and even different accents in a quest to come up with the beginnings of a very basic understanding of what they were hearing. They were still stuck at that juncture.

They had made a lot of progress up to this point. Gaius believed they had found the language or the dialect, that seemed to show up more often than others, and they had concentrated on sounds that seemed to be consistent with that language. But now, they seemed to be stuck, and they weren't making the progress that he felt they should be making. Something was missing. There was with any puzzle a piece or two missing but he just hadn't found them yet.

He found some time to doze off in his quarters. Even then, his mind was churning. How can we eliminate the differences in the way people spoke? The people on this planet had to have dialects with the structure of a given language, just as they had in The Colonies. He himself had a native Aerilon dialect and had learned to sound like a Caprican as he got older. It didn't mean that someone from Aerilon and Caprica couldn't understand one another, but their accents and some regional dialectic difference would make them sound completely different. That had to be in play as well on a planet with at least 6 billion inhabitants.

If they could cancel out differences in inflection and pronunciation, they could strike gold. He knew that Colonial computers had a broad catalog of all the languages used aboard the fleet and that when the computers displayed a given language, it would look the same for everyone...

That thought stopped him dead for a moment. "Computers", he said softly out loud. Why was that important? He stretched the thought out. Computers displayed a given language... He sat bolt upright in his bed and finished the thought. Godsdammit, DISPLAYED language: TEXT!

Three minutes later, he was in CIC, where Commander Tigh had the watch at present. "Commander, I think I know how to crack the difficulty with the language problem we've had."

"Oh, you do, do you?" He smiled at Baltar. "It's about frackin' time."

"Commander, I need to see the Admiral immediately. In fact, I'd like to see everyone in the inner circle-Lee, Kara, President Roslin, you, Helo, along with the Admiral."

"Why everyone?", Tigh said, now genuinely interested in what the Doc was cooking up.

"Because it's going to require a few more missions near the planet."

Five minutes later, they were all in Gaius' lab.

"This better be good, Doc", the Admiral said, and he yawned. "I was enjoying the insides of my eyelids if you get my drift". Everyone, even Baltar, chuckled at those words. Gaius was slowly figuring out humor.

"Trust me, Admiral, it's worth losing a little sleep".

He explained what he had in mind.

"Hold on, doc", Lee interrupted a few minutes into Baltar's brief. "Are you saying that we've-I mean you have been going about this all wrong?"

"Not necessarily wrong, Commander. I just thought of it from a different perspective. And I think it holds the key to breaking this barrier."

President Roslin jumped in. "So, you're saying, Doctor, that since our computers have no reference to their languages, trying to to ascertain what is being said through different sounding voices is what is confusing the programs?"

"Yes, Madam President. You are correct".

"And instead of listening to the spoken language alone, that we try to tap into their computers to assist us in figuring out what is being said, through their written language?" She was beginning to see where Baltar was going with this.

"Exactly, Madam President." He still was trying to work it all out in his mind, but he knew that he was on to something. "We've been concentrating on audio and visual, and that, in and of itself, wasn't incorrect. But we failed-I failed to take into account the written words and then allow the computer programs to begin looking for correlations.

"What we do is send in one, maybe two Raptors, in closer than we've ever had them before. We need to get closer than we ever have to tap into as many computers around the planet as we can to download plain text. I believe that our stumbling block has been that we haven't worried about text until now. That's my fault. I should have figured that one out weeks ago." Now everyone knew where he was going. "And after that, I and my team should be able to craft a computer program that can compare the text against what is being said."

"Don't kick yourself in the ass too hard, Doc", the Admiral said without any vitriol in his voice. "None of us thought of it, either. It's one of those things that might have been so obvious that it just never entered our mind."

Athena came up with another point that Baltar had been anticipating. "But we don't know which language belongs to which text. But you're saying a program can be created to eventually match up text and spoken language?"

"That is correct, Lieutenant. It still may take some time but we can then let the computer learn the texts and then learn to match it up to the spoken language. We identify where both the text and the spoken language are in close proximity on the planet, and let the computers chew on that. Once the computer program is able to do that we can begin translating the targeted language into something we understand. And since we use Caprican as our primary language, we will then be translating this language into Caprican."

Admiral Adama immediately came to a decision. "I want two Raptors prepared immediately for this mission. Lee and Kara will be in the lead. Helo, you and Athena will be in support. I want the Op Plan on my desk in one hour. We need to launch this mission as soon as we can."

Baltar was convinced they had just cleared a major hurdle in being able to approach the planet.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

A few days after Galactica had sent the two Raptors for this latest mission, President Bond was at his desk in the Oval Office. He had made several addresses to the nation from this well-recognized location. Every President since the TV age had dawned had used the Oval Office to address the nation and the world on events that were usually very important. War, Peace, scandal and good old fashioned politicking had seen the rooms use. This one, he knew, might be the most important address he had ever made. It would go out live around the world. The Oval Office had been designed initially to intimidate visitors with its oval shape and multitude of doors. Today, it would be to assuage peoples' fears, not increase them.

Immediately when he began his address, a text version of the speech would also be sent out on every media, and on every available frequency that was known to mankind. The scientists and linguists had opined that this race, whoever they were, could probably figure out the language, but that it would be best for them to both hear it, and see the text that it came from.

"Mr. President", said the director, next to the only camera in the room. "In 5, 4, 3..." and the director finished with the silent signal "2, 1" and pointed at the President.

"Good evening, my fellow citizens of the world. As promised, the governments of this planet want to keep all of you apprised about our preparations for, what we believe will be the ultimate arrival at Earth of this alien fleet that is still in the outer reaches of our Solar System. And even though I will be addressing all of you, this message is more intended for their consumption than yours.

"This message is being addressed to the fleet of ships that are circling, at a distance, the planet Earth. We are assuming that by this time, having listened to our broadcasts that you have acquired a working knowledge of some of the languages, including this one, that we speak on this world.

"My name is Justin Bond. I am the President of The United States Of America, one of the 196 nations that inhabit Earth. We call our species 'Human'. By mutual agreement among the leaders of our nations, I have been chosen to speak to you and reach out to you so when you do approach us you will, we hope, have some idea of how we view recent events.

"I have been chosen to speak because my native language, English, is spoken widely across the planet, and also because the nation I lead is considered the most powerful nation socially, economically and military, among our community of nations.

"There is no doubt among anyone on Earth that you are more advanced than we are. As you've no doubt learned, we do not have any ships like yours. We do not have the capacity to send more than a few of our citizens into space, and then, only at a relatively short distance from our planet. But I am here to caution you as you approach us, but also issue you an invitation as well.

"If conquest or destruction is your purpose, we have no doubt you can accomplish that goal. But we will resist you in every way we can to defend our lives, our homes, and our planet. Every man, woman, and child on this planet are willing to lay down their lives to save our home. There can be no doubt about that course should we need to pursue it. I have fought in the service of my nation as a pilot. If the situation warrants, I would not hesitate again to fight for my nation and my planet.

"But we also extend to you an invitation. If you are not here to conquer us, we offer you a chance for peaceful exchange. I am willing to be the ambassador of the collective humanity of Earth and meet with such leaders as you have, to try and bridge the communication gap between us, and see if we cannot find common ground. I am willing to meet with your leaders here on Earth, or, if need be, on your main vessel.

"Earth does have a long history of war and strife among our peoples. But since we discovered your fleet within range of our planet, mankind has begun to see a new dawn; a new understanding between long-held enemies. Old suspicions and hatreds are giving way to the beginnings of reconciliation and rapprochement. We extend to you, if you choose to accept it, that same spirit of understanding.

"You hold the initiative for the time, the place, and the conditions, under which we will meet. Whether it be in the form of warfare, or in the form of an offer of peace and trust, is up to you. We await your reply. Thank you very much."

Those damned ships had been spotted almost three months ago, the President noted to himself. If they can travel from wherever the hell they came, they should be able to figure out what the hell I'm saying to them.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

The broadcast was received by Galactica about forty minutes later. It had been broadcast on so many different audio and video frequencies that Baltar and Adama had immediately agreed it wasn't a random message. This was delivered to someone. There was little doubt it was for their eyes and ears.

Baltar was ecstatic that audio, visual and the text of the address had been sent. He had just started the work on trying to match up texts with different regions of the world. But the three-pronged transmission would be a Godsend, and he knew it. With this address, this person who was making the address had just simplified his attempts to understand this language by one hundred fold.

The Admiral, Tigh, Lee, President Roslin and Baltar all were listening to the broadcast. Again, they couldn't understand the language, but the wanted to hear it all the same. Baltar's team was already feeding the message into the computer. Nothing caught their attention until they heard a word that sounded familiar. It made all of them look up, with startled expressions on their face.

"Doc", Lee interjected, "Back that part up, let's hear that again!".

Baltar was about a millisecond ahead of the Commander, and he was already doing just that. "OK, I think that's far enough."

They all listened again, this time far more intently. They had Baltar replay it another three times, just to make sure they all thought they heard the same thing. Then they all looked around at each other.

"Now, I may not be the smartest frackin' Toaster ever made", Tigh said, in as serious a tone as he had ever delivered, "but tell me I'm wrong that we didn't all hear the same thing." He looked around the room, challenging the others to deny it.

President Roslin looked right at Tigh. "You're right, Commander. We all heard it."

Admiral Adama said one single word that had caught their attention: "Earth".

___________________________________________________________________________________________
V

A week later, Admiral Adama was ending his watch. He was dead tired. But he knew everyone else was as well so he didn't extend himself much sympathy. But as tired as he and everyone else was the events of the previous week had given them hope that they would soon be able to communicate with their alleged brethren on the planet. Hearing what sounded like "Earth" in the broadcast, had jolted everyone. Now they wanted the payoff.

His watch was over. Well, that wasn't correct. The Commanding Officer's watch was never "over", and he knew that better than anyone. But Captain Hoshi had just stepped into CIC to being his shift as the Officer On Duty of Galactica.

"I relieve you, Admiral", saluted Louis Hoshi. The Admiral smiled inwardly, remembering the burden he had given Hoshi before the battle with The Colony. He had performed admirably in his temporary role of Admiral Of The Fleet. Adama had no doubt that, had fate been kinder, Hoshi would have had his own ship to command someday.

"I stand relieved, Louis. Hotdog is on the CAP. He has two of the rookies, Turndown and Gunner on his wings. No contacts to report. All systems are normal. Keep everything quiet tonight, will you?", the Admiral winked.

"Aye, Admiral, if I have anything to do about it, you won't hear a peep. Good night sir."

The Admiral was asleep in ten minutes, tops. He found himself reliving the mission that he had sent Bulldog on into Tauron sector so many years ago. He had had similar dreams before, and every time, Bulldog had made it back home. Maybe it was his way of trying to forgive himself for not rescuing Bulldog. Adama was convinced that Bulldog's mission set in motion the devastating attack on the Colonies. Maybe these dreams were cathartic for him. Maybe he was just fooling himself. Bulldog was still with the Fleet. Someday he might even put on that uniform again, but for now, the man was still trying to rebuild who he had been.

He was startled awake the light was switched on in his quarters. It was Lieutenant Agathon. He glanced at his clock. It was only 0330. Well, Hoshi's wish hadn't come true, had it?

"Yes, Lieutenant, what is it?", he said groggily. He still was halfway in the dream, it seemed.

"Sir, Baltar just talked to Hoshi in CIC. He says the computer has cracked the language that the message was sent in." Helo unwound that sly smile that made him so popular on the ship.

Adama was fully awake now. "'About damn time", he quipped. He paused and took a deep breath. "OK, I want everyone who is anyone to meet me in here in fifteen minutes. Lee, Kara, Baltar, the President, Athena, Tigh and The Chief. We need to all go over this and decide what it says and how we'll respond."

"Aye, Admiral", Helo smartly pivoted and left the room.

It took a little longer than fifteen minutes for everyone to be assembled. Karl and Athena had to find an emergency babysitter for Hera at such and ungodsly hour. But thirty minutes after he gave his command, everyone that he had requested to attend the meeting was in place.

Adama wasted no time with any formalities. He turned the meeting immediately over to Baltar.

"We've finally cracked the language that we honed in on from that message that was sent last week. The combination of them transmitting that message in audio, visual medium and in text form seems to have clicked with our programs. Plus the fact that the word 'Earth' apparently was used, and it gave the computers something to compare. It was only one word, but it's like a light bulb went on inside the program, as if to say 'hey, I know that word.' Now, remember, the computer is still learning, but we're starting to get some real understanding coming out in Caprican. But getting that specific address from the planet, from that individual probably saved us weekS, maybe even months of work."

"Go on, Doctor", Adama nodded. Get to the exciting part before I fall back asleep, he didn't say out loud.

"The male who spoke to us is definitely a leader of one of the factions on the planet. His name is 'Justin Bond'-I think that's how it's pronounced, and he is the leader of what is called 'The United States Of America.' Along with the message, there was included a map and information on this nation. He says he has been authorized to speak for the people of the planet Earth."

"Earth". They said it almost in unison, as if from a nightmare, which, is how the people of the fleet thought of that word and the place the word conjured up.

The word still bothered everyone, and Athena was first on the subject. "Is it possible that some other Cylons escaped Earth-I mean the Earth we left behind when the Holocaust there occurred? Is it possible that someone other than Ellen, Tigh, Sam, Tory, and Galen left the planet before or during the war?"

"Could be", said Kara. "Maybe. As Sam told us, they only had sub-light back then, but it could mean someone got to this planet without the Final Five knowing they had gotten out before the war."

"It's possible", Saul interjected, "although that happened like three thousand years ago, and the people on this planet look like they've been down there a lot longer than that."

"Perhaps when there were far fewer people, and when they were far less advanced, some refugees from the other planet landed here?", Gaius remarked.

"Whatever happened, that can wait for another time. And we can't hold the name Earth against those people down there. That's our problem, not theirs", the Admiral stated. "What's important is that we figure out how we respond to that message, and when we can start our approach to the planet."

Next, they watched the video of the address. They obviously could not understand the language, but they all wanted to size up the man that had reached out to him. The politician in Laura Roslin could take the measure of someone just by watching his body language and his demeanor. She came away impressed.

After they finished watching, Gaius opened a folder. "Let me read the entire transcript back to you, and then perhaps we can start making our plans about what comes next." It took Gaius about ten minutes to read the entire text, as it had translated into Caprican. He read it slowly, stopping a few times when asked to repeat something that had been said. It was as Adama or Roslin would have made it: short and to the point. No one was especially shocked by the contents of the message.

As usual, being perhaps the best strategist in the fleet, Apollo spoke up first. "It's obvious they're smart enough to realize that there isn't a lot they can do if we did want to destroy them. We have seen that they have aircraft that cannot get out of the atmosphere. I imagine those are earth-bound Vipers of some kind-military aircraft, and also probably civilian craft."

"I think they also have made a logical leap that we have weapons that are far more powerful than theirs", chimed in Helo, rubbing his chin. "We have picked up radiation signatures, but we don't know if that's naturally occurring or if they use nuclear power, or even have nuclear weapons. But they're telling us right here, they know they're at our mercy."

President Roslin spoke up softly, "They must be scared to death down there. I know I would be. Listening to the actual broadcast, this man didn't seem rushed, excited or grim, but they have to be going out of their minds. He seemed to deliver the message in just the right tone, at least from what I can tell. I think whoever this person is, he was an excellent choice to talk to us."

"Remember, that message was probably more for us than the people on the planet. We need to put their fears to rest", Lee observed. "We need to let them know that one, we have no intention of destroying them. Two, that we all seem to be pretty much made of the same stuff, and seem to be closely related. And thirdly, we need to make damn sure they can communicate back to us, in person, so we can actually talk to them."

"I agree", said The Admiral. "I don't think I'm a coward myself, but I think I'd be pissing my pants if I were in their shoes or their pants for that matter if a race that was way beyond us showed up in our neighborhood. Doctor Baltar, would you be willing to write our response to them? I'll read over what you have and probably make some minor corrections, but I think you're better with wording things than most of us."

"Yes, Admiral. I'll get right on it", he began to depart the room. Adama stopped him.

"Doc, one thing?" The Admiral looked directly at him.

"Yes, Admiral", Gaius replied tentatively.

"Try to sound like a politician, not a scientist?" It was delivered with a smile to show Gaius it wasn't a reprimand, but everyone let out a small laugh.

"Yes...right, Admiral".
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Five days later, President Bond was strolling into the Situation Room deep down in the White House. "As you were, folks", President Bond strode in. "What do you have for me, Aiden?"

"Mr. President, the ships have begun moving towards Earth", he said, as matter-of-factly as he could. "They're moving slowly, but they have turned in toward us. That commenced about four hours ago, but we needed to get a second pass from Hubble and Kepler to confirm it. At present speed, they could go into a high orbit in about five days."

"Yeah, that's really moving slow", quipped a Naval Lieutenant, one of the many mid-level officers assigned to the Sit Room. "I'd hate to see what 'fast' is, sir."

"No kidding, Lieutenant", the President responded with a forced twinkle in his eye, trying to keep things as light as possible in the chamber. "Have we received any messages from them yet?"

"No, Mr. President", General Lawrence replied, tearing a piece of paper over the teletype. Even with everything on the computer, the General did like holding something solid in his hand. This report was simply an update on the speed of the fleet moving towards them, which hadn't changed much. "I have a hunch they're waiting to get in a lot closer to us before responding."

"The only question", the President mused, "Is will the message be in the form of words or weapons?" It was THE question that everyone had.

"If I may offer an opinion, Mr. President?"

He turned to Adellyn. "Absolutely, Adellyn. What's on your mind?"

"Well, since they are moving relatively slow right now-less than 7000kph, which, as we've seen, is a lot slower than when we first tracked them, perhaps it's the interstellar equivalent of a white flag? Maybe they're telling us 'We're not here for a fight'?"

Lawrence raised an eyebrow. "That's a very valid position, Miss Harris. It very well could be. On the other hand, it could mean they want to make sure they have us. But in this situation, I think I'd go with Miss Harris' assessment. I think it's a sign of intention on their part."

The President was mildly surprised at his JCS's assessment. "I thought you were supposed to take the alarmist position, General?", the President said, only half-kidding. The General went on.

"Look, they suddenly appeared as if out of nowhere. One set of scans by Hubble they weren't there, the next they were. It's an even bet that they have to have some very high-speed propulsion to gallivant through the galaxy. And we do know they topped well over 20000 kph at times. They may even have the capability to jump right on top of us without us knowing. We've also been able to track some much smaller ships that keep popping up on the far side of the Moon to within about 100,000 miles of the surface. We think they may be scout ships of some kind. And yet they still haven't made any aggressive moves."

"Well, we can't say for sure that's what is going on, but it's a good working assumption", remarked the President. "And I agree with you about these smaller ships. They have to be scouts of some type. Then again, it isn't like we could do much about even those if they're hostile."

"What's our next step, sir?", inquired his National Security Adviser.

"The next step is to call all the big shots to meet in New York as soon as possible."

Two days later, while the President was in New York, the reply came back to the people of the planet. And, to everyone's relief, it was in the form of a reciprocal speech, and not The Armageddon. He immediately returned to the White House to get an assessment from his team.

The President was back down in the Sit Room, with the Chair of the Joint Chiefs, his SecDef, SecState, his National Security Adviser, his Chief of Staff, and the Vice President. The Sit Room had recorded the speech and had also received a text copy in fairly good English, of what the address said. All we need is some popcorn now, the President silently mused.

They watched the broadcast first. "Mr. President", General Lawrence cautioned him. "Make sure you're in your seat when we start the recording. You aren't gonna believe this, sir."

And a few seconds later, the video started. The President jolted up in his seat as if he had been hit with an electric shock. "Jesus Christ, Aiden! They're human!" The recording had been paused. "Or they sure as hell LOOK human? Good God, is that possible?"

"I'm sure we can ask some sharp scientists that question right quick, sir, but it sure as hell looks that way, doesn't it?"

"Could this be some subterfuge they're trying on us? You know, like in 'V', when they were lizards underneath?" The President knew in a way how silly that might have sounded, but it seemed like they had all expected lizards and not beings that looked like they did.

"It might be, sir. But once we're done watching this guy, and reading the text, you might adjust that opinion. It's an eye-opener, alright, Mr. President, but let's get through the rest."

President Bond nodded. "Unsettling" was the word he would have used, but the continued.

The man who was in the recording looked to be at least ten years older than he was. Justin Bond was 6'2", and this "human" seemed to be more around 5'10" or so, and the eyes were a little closer together than the average human being...human being on Earth, he corrected himself.

He was wearing what was clearly a military uniform of some kind, not unlike what he had worn when in the Air Force. He had eyeglasses on. He seemed to know who he was and gave off an air of authority that was easy for any military veteran to notice.

When the video was finished the President, as was custom, spoke up first. "He seems to be an impressive guy. I recognize the military bearing. He didn't seem either nervous or overly pompous. I think I'd want him on my side in a fight." No one seemed inclined to disagree with their Commander-In-Chief.

Aiden then handed him over the text of the speech. "We've cleaned up the English a little, sir. It was a bit disjointed, but not terribly so. It reads more like what the garden variety speech would read if written by one of us."

"Thanks, General. Let's see what we have:

"To the citizens of the planet that we recently located. I bid you greetings from the remains of the civilization of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. We are refugees who set off across the galaxy many of our years ago after our worlds were destroyed by a race of machines. We have been fleeing them ever since.

"My name is William Adama. I am the Admiral of the Battlestar Galactica, the main ship in our fleet. As you can imagine, we are as surprised as you are that we have found what seems to be another race of men in this Universe. We do not come as a hostile race. We come in peace.

"Next to me, is the President of the Twelve Colonies, Laura Roslin", the camera panned to a woman, who looked to be in her early 50's, seated next to this Adama. "While I command the defense of our fleet, she is the head of our government-in-exile. I take my orders from her.

"I know that if I were standing in your place, the recent events would have filled me with fear and anxiety. But again, I assure you, we have no hostile intent. I am willing to have myself examined by any medical doctors or scientists on your planet so that you can verify who we are and to also see if we are closely related. I also hope that you would pick representatives of your people to be similarly examined by us.

"If we are, indeed, as closely related, as it seems at first look, this would be a great day for our species. We are the remnants of what was a Colonial system of almost twenty-one billion living beings, and, as of this morning, our fleet consists of 39,466 souls" "God in Heaven", the President whispered, barely audible. "Twenty-one billion?" He glanced over at his Chairman.

"We have begun our approach to Earth. Earth is a name that has appeared in our history before, as we found another planet by that name some years back. Whether this is a coincidence; or whether, somehow, we are directly related to one another, only the gods know.

"I want to thank President Justin Bond for his courageous message to us, and, yes, we do see this as an opportunity for people of goodwill. I recognize in you, sir, the military bearing, and the desire to fight for your way of life. We share that same desire for our people.

"We will communicate again when we enter orbit."

The President was the most unflappable man any of them had ever known, but he was physically flabbergasted by what he had just seen and read.

"Mr. President", Adellyn leaned forward with a paper in her hand, "They also sent us what seems to be coordinates of some kind. We think it's to indicate where they came from. We'll get more on that from NASA later."

"Folks, to be quite honest, I'm not sure what to say at the moment. I'm sure that fills you all with such confidence", their President said ruefully. They all laughed quietly. "It's going to take me a bit of time to process all of this."

"Mr. President, from what we're hearing from others' around the world, you're not the only one, so don't feel bad. Just about everyone has put out a statement verifying they have seen and read the message, but nothing beyond that. I think everyone is as freaked out as we are", said his Vice President.

"Well, then I don't feel so bad then, Madam Vice President." They all laughed again. He sat, for maybe a minute, gathering his thoughts and trying to wrap his head around the monumental message.

"OK", he said up, taking a deep breath, "Aiden, despite their assurance of peaceful intent, all U.S. Forces remain at DEFCON Three. Take the nuclear forces from DEFCON Two down to Three. I think we can relax that just a bit." He turned to his National Security Adviser and SecDef. "Adellyn, Patrick, I want you to begin looking at what we think will be their game plan once they arrive here, and how they plan on meeting us. Christina", he turned to his SecState. "Get NASA and the best physicians and scientists we have together to go over what sort of tests we can run on them to see how we match up. I also want you to take the lead with Rob here at the U.N. In coordinating with other world leaders."

His subordinates all nodded their assent. "And Christina, advise them I am willing to be a subject for their medical tests. I made the first step, now I need to follow through."

They all began to stand as the President stood up. Just before everyone left, a young Navy Ensign turned to an Air Force Colonel who was also working there. "Lieutenant Frampton, what the hell is this 'V' thing they were talking about?" He had tried to say those words sotto voce but had spectacularly failed in that attempt.

Everyone in the room turned to look at the young Ensign, who suddenly flushed. Everyone broke out in waves of laughter.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

VI

"ADMIRAL ON THE DECK!", bellowed Saul Tigh.

"What's our position, Saul?"

"Sir, we're about twenty-one hours from being able to put the old lady into a high orbit. There's still a lot of chatter on the planet. Seems this President of this United States is a popular guy this week. Every leader that we have been able to identify, has been talking to him almost nonstop for the past four days. Poor bastard probably hasn't slept a wink."

"Well, I can sympathize with the man, that's for sure." Adama hadn't slept much himself, so he felt a kinship with the man, "Very good. Until then, steady as she goes."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

The world leaders, along with their military attaches, and the Secretary General of the UN were digesting the text of the communique that had arrived from the main ship of the fleet that was within hours of orbiting Earth. Like Justin Bond, it had, as General Lawrence correctly surmised, hit them all like a Mack Truck. No one had, in their wildest dreams, expected to see people that looked like them, staring back at them.

"Is it REALLY possible that they're human, just like us?" Said South Korea's President. He was there with representatives from both North Korea and South Korea. Even now, the two nations were still in a de-facto state of war and had been for 80 years. But even that was slowly giving way to the new reality "It has to be some kind of trick. This simply cannot be".

"Well, Mr. President", Justin Bond replied. "I'm sure we'll find out more once we get to meet with them. I imagine we'll have some protocol in place to let us do medical tests on them, and visa-versa. But as strange as it seems, they look a helluva lot like us."

"There eyes are set just slightly closer together", the Nigerian president said, almost to himself, studying the images of the two people who were their leaders, that everyone on Earth had now become all too familiar with. "They seem to be a little shorter than the average Human Being on Earth. But they're both wearing what is definitely eyeglasses".

"Adama. Roslin". The names of the leaders, as put forth in the communique from the ship, rolled off the tongue of Israeli Prime Minister Hefetz. "Galactica. A pretty elegant name for a ship." Like everyone else, he was staring at the photographs of the two apparent Humans in the pictures.

"Madam Secretary General", Russia's Anton Dytsav mused, "What do you make of their story about how they ended up here? It strikes me as fantastic."

"Anthony, I honestly don't have the first clue. Until we meet with them, and until and if they allow us to read and see what they've been through, we don't have any idea how they got here. I don't see any reason for them, on the surface of it, to lie to us. They say they came from twelve planets, part of a Colony of planets, and that about 21 billion of them were killed in this holocaust. Maybe they're just playing on our sympathies, but the story couldn't be written in Hollywood. No one would dare buy it. I have to think the story is genuine."

"Destroyed by a mechanical race." The Prime Minister of Sweden could barely get the words out of her mouth. "21 billion souls killed. My God." She suddenly glanced up from the text she had been reading. "They didn't mention if those mechanical monsters were still following them, did they?"

"No, Ella, you're correct", said President Bond, "They didn't. And I think among the litany of questions that needs to be asked of them when we meet, that is at the top of the list. Where exactly are those mechanical bastards?"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

So, Bill, where are those mechanical bastards?". Saul Tigh, Cylon though he was would never have any love for the mechanical race that had destroyed The Colonies. "I notice you didn't say anything about that in your little love letter to our cousins down there?"

"That's because we don't have the first godsdamn idea if any of them are left. Did you notice we were covering our collective butts with patrols behind us? I didn't want them to suddenly show up and start another slaughter."

"I know, sir. I get it. But it's something we're going to have to level with them about. On The Colonies, we had the metal to go up against them, but we got caught with our flies open. Here? They would have no way to defend themselves against those frackin' Toasters."

"I doubt if it can help much, but maybe Caprica, Athena,and Leoben can shed some light on this. I think after all this time, we can trust them, and maybe if we let them turn their instincts loose, they can tell us something." Adama DID trust them. It had taken a long time, and while he would never consider them "his people", they had also put it on the line when Galactica went up against The Colony. And they were, by all accounts, as mortal as everyone else.

"Probably can't hurt if Galen, Ellen, Athena and I join the conversation as well. Too bad Sam isn't around anymore, even in that hybrid state. That last battle basically killed him. I would have liked to have gotten his views."

"I think you're right. I think all you skin jobs should put your mechanical minds together and see if anything pops up." Adama gave a sideways grin to his XO. It was funny, Saul Tigh was a Cylon. Adama had hated him for it when he found out. He had even ordered his execution. But in the end, Saul had remained as loyal to Galactica as anyone on the ship. Yes, he remembered some of his Cylon life from two millennia before, but he had never flinched in being there for Galactica. It had taken him a long time to realize that. And when it finally sunk in, his esteem for the man had risen even higher. Saul could be a hot-head; he could definitely put away too many, too fast. But he was the most loyal officer he had ever served with.

"Gaius and Cottle have put their heads together, and are coming up with a regimen of tests we can run on them if and when our first meeting takes place. I'd imagine Cottle would want anyone from there quarantined until we know they won't give us any germs or diseases that we haven't seen before, and visa-versa, Admiral."

"Makes sense." Adama knew Cottle would do a first-rate job in assuring no one was harmed by any germs. "It's a good guess that they're not as advanced as we are when it comes to medicine and science. They don't have any interstellar capability, and it's a good bet they aren't as advanced as we are when it comes to diseases."

"You've already written the invitation, haven't you, Bill?" Saul grinned. He knew the answer to that before he even asked the question.

"Your bet your skin job ass I have, Cylon."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Two days later, Galactica was in orbit over Earth. The rest of the fleet remained close by, just in case. No one expected the Cylons to suddenly come charging in but no one wanted to take the chance either.

Both sides began the dance of arranging First Contact between the two races. Both sides had come up with a regimen of medical exams that would allow each to study the physiology of the other, to compare DNA samples, to see exactly how closely related these two humanoid cultures really were.

Since they were confined for the moment of "talking" through computers, it was slow work trying to work out all the details. Scientists from Earth were feverishly trying to get a working knowledge of this alien language. It had been decided that since the first words from Earth had been in English, that English would be the Official Diplomatic language used.

It took almost a month to work out the details. In the interim, Gaius had transmitted to Earth the basic computer program that had allowed him to translate from English to Caprican, and then back. He was certain at this time that his colleagues on the planet were advanced enough that they could figure out the program. The next step would be that both sides would actually begin trying to teach each other their languages so that more personal communication could eventually take place.

The Admiral had decided that Lee and Kara would go to Earth, be quarantined there, and be the subjects for the medical tests that would be performed on Earth's behalf. The Admiral had volunteered, but Doc Cottle had over-ruled him, what with all the damage that had been caused to him years ago when Boomer had tried to kill him. And to no one's surprise, Justin Bond would lead a team that would undergo medical tests on Galactica.

"So, honey, when do you leave for this historical rendezvous?" Judy Bond said as cheerfully as she could. Despite the assurances of doctors and scientists that had met with the President, who had advised both of them that after a few days of isolation aboard the ship, if all went well, he would be free to move about, she was still worried about her husband and his entourage picking up some kind of disease that people from Earth had no defense against. The doctors and scientists had been communicating with their colleagues aboard this gigantic ship called Galactica, and both sides were certain that they would be able to guarantee with some semblance of accuracy, whether her husband could closely interact with these humans from somewhere in the stars.

"In about seven days. The ship will be sending down people tomorrow. The crew on that ship and the doctors and scientists that will be aboard will be quarantined for a few days, maybe up to a week, just like I will be once I get up to Galactica. Fair is fair. The Surgeon General said she believes that five days should be enough to figure things out. Plus, I have to make sure I'm up to speed on all my immunizations as well."

"Are you REALLY going to wear a space suit?" She stifled a giggle. Yes, Justin had been an Air Force pilot and a damned good one, but he never had the bug to become an astronaut, and the thought of him wrapped up in a NASA pressure suit was something she'd give a year's salary to see. "I want pictures of that."

"Well, Judy, I'm sure you'll be able to fill an album with pictures of me in that suit, and aboard the ship. Color me famous", he let out a jolly burst of laughter. He was worried as well-not quite as much as Judith was but he knew there were some risks.

Risks or not, nothing in the Universe could keep him away from being the first person from Earth to board an alien spaceship. Well, at least officially, that is. He had heard the stories about people who said they had been abducted. He didn't doubt those stories now like he used to. Having been a lifelong fan of the singer Sammy Hagar, maybe the two of them could swap stories once he got back...

"I'll be going to New York tonight, to meet with the Secretary General. She and I, Admiral Lawrence, and some doctors and scientists will be going through what exactly will happen, so there are no misunderstandings. I should be home by late afternoon tomorrow. I also have a meeting with the head honchos of the Russian and Chinese military's, who we will also brief on what's going down."

"I wish I could go with you," The first Lady lamented.

"I know, babe. Part of me wishes you could go, too. Isolation might be more enjoyable that way", he gave her a naughty wink. "But let's get the first meeting over with, and I'm sure someday, you'll get to head up there yourself."

"I knew being First Lady would have its perks", she gave an impish wink back at him.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Five days later, Surgeon General Myla Kress was at the White House. It was time to prepare the Commander-In-Chief for a historical trip.

"Mr, President", she said, after he had gotten her some coffee, "The tests are complete on the pilots that came here on that ship. It seems that they have excellent immune systems compared to ours. We can't find much down here that would get them sick. I think there are some small germs that might give them a cold, perhaps, but their immune systems are impressive."

"Do you believe it's a more natural immunity, or are they ahead of us medically? I think I know the answer to that, but I have to ask."

"Sir, there's no doubt they're far ahead of us in medicine and science. But I believe that they developed their civilization long before we did and that their immune systems are advanced as well. I imagine when you get to Galactica, you'll probably end up getting some shots, or however, they immunize people up there, to keep you away from any bugs that might harm us. I think we'll be able to learn a lot from them."

"Well, Myla, I'm as ready as I'll be. I don't fancy sitting in isolation for a few days, but it's a small price to pay for what could be in store for the people of Earth. I still have to pinch myself to realize that I'm not in some coma or a really wild dream." President Bond wasn't kidding about that, either. The whole thing seemed surreal to him.

"It's real, Mr. President, trust me. I didn't think I'd ever live to see such a thing.", she mused in wonder.

"Preaching to the choir, Myra. I just wonder how far their arrival will propel us and if we'll impact them as much as I think they'll impact us."

"I think we will, sir. We're full of surprises", she laughed, "Mr. President. I wish you good luck and Godspeed. Break a leg", Myla beamed at her President.

"Oh, that's easy for you to say!"

Later that day, the Surgeon General called him and informed the President that the preliminary analyses indicated that their DNA and the DNA of the inhabitants of Earth were more than 99.9998979% identical. For all intent and purpose, they were of the same stuff.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

VII

Adellyn Harris was in the VIP Lounge at Joint Base Andrews, sitting alone with the President for the moment. Like everyone else on the planet, she was nervous as hell about this trip-not so much out of fear that the humans aboard those ships would purposely harm the President and his entourage, but on the off chance that they would catch some kind of disease and...she pushed the rest of that out of her mind. She had a job to do right now.

"Sir, once again, you'll go into the sterile room in a few minutes. The doctors will take your vitals, and your pressure suits will be put on each of you. After that, you simply will walk to the Raptor-I think that's what it translates to, and you will meet the two pilots, Commander Lee Adama, and Captain Kara Thrace. They will be taking you to Galactica. Obviously, there won't be any direct verbal communications. Commander Adama has said the entire flight will take about 50 minutes, as they won't be going all that fast-at least for them, that is."

She paused to take a sip of water. She suddenly felt like that long-ago cartoon character Sniffles, the little mouse who never took a breath between his sentences or words. She wondered if The Boss noticed.

"I think that's pretty straight-forward, Adellyn", the President said, as he read over one of the memo's that he was taking along. These were the "talking points" that he would use to find out as much information about the new arrivals as he could. He knew his counterparts on this ship Galactica were preparing for the same thing. "I have an advantage over my four other companions, however."

"What's that, sir?"

"I've flown at high altitudes, at high speeds. They haven't." He grinned mischievously. He was sure that he wouldn't have to reach for a barf bag. He could have a decidedly wicked sense of humor when it suited him.

Adellyn blushed a little, thinking that if she was going, she was sure she would get as sick as the proverbial dog. For that alone, she was glad she wasn't going. "Just don't make your pleasure at the discomfort of the others' too obvious, Mr. President. After all, they're there to help you stay healthy."

"Point taken, Adellyn!", laughing out loud.

An Air Force colonel opened the door. "Mr. President, it's time to get you ready."

His National Security Adviser looked at him. Despite her best efforts, he could see she was worried about what could happen. He went over to her and gave her a big hug.

"It's OK, Adellyn. I promise I'll be back." He smiled down at her.

"You better, sir." She forced a smile on her face. "Grab me some souvenirs from the ship, will you?"

"I don't know if they'll have shot glasses, but I'll check their souvenir shop", and he gave a proper, albeit mock, salute. He nodded down at her with a smile, then turned and followed the colonel without looking back.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Admiral Adama was unusually broody at the everyone else, both in the fleet and on the planet, he wanted this to go smoothly. He knew the man and his companions who was flying up to meet him was taking some personal risks. He was comforted only somewhat at how easily Lee and Kara had passed the physical exams down on Earth and were given clean bills of health to travel between Galactica and the planet. But would it work in the opposite direction? It was obvious that they were more advanced than their Earth-bound relatives, and he was concerned about this President contracting some disease that the Colonists had long become immune to. Even though he had not met the man yet, he had gained a healthy respect for him nonetheless.

The intercom above his head squawked to life. "Raptor 187, Galactica Actual". It was Starbuck. "We have just lifted off from Joint Base Andrews. ETA to Galactica one hour."

"Actual, Raptor 187, reading you 5 by 5. Approach Galactica starboard landing bay upon arrival. Cottle has the facility set up in starboard hangar bay." Tigh nodded at him, confirming that the XO's inspection of the facility had shown the desired results. "The President and I will be meeting our guests upon arrival."

"Raptor 187, Galactica Actual, confirm starboard hangar. 187 out."

"This next hour is going to drag by, Tigh. I don't think I've been this personally nervous about anything since Zak was born."

"Bill, this isn't just an everyday meeting. This is one that will be passed down for generations. For both them and us", his Cylon XO remarked, and then he too became a bit pensive, "I still think somewhere along the line, there has to be some kind of link between them and us-well, you, that is. I'm the foreigner here. But it can't simply be random."

"There's always the chance it is random, but I think you're right. Somewhere, we're going to find a link. But, right now, we have a more important matter, and that's making a good first impression on our relatives."

Forty-five minutes later, the Admiral ordered the ship set to Condition 2. He wasn't worried about an attack from Earth-he still had trouble associating that word with this planet-but he wanted everyone to be at a higher state of alert. After all, he was always wanting to be prepared for worst-case scenarios, and an accident or a malfunction at the wrong moment might not look very good in the eyes of those on the planet.

"Admiral, Raptor 187 is beginning approach. Estimated 8 minutes to landing, Starboard hanger". Hoshi was as professional and as calming as always, which was why he was one of the most respected officers in the fleet. "Everything looks normal at this time."

"Thank you, Commander. Kelly, let me talk to the ship and the fleet."

"Aye, sir".

"Attention the people of the fleet. This is the Admiral. Momentarily, one of the most significant events in the history of mankind will be taking place. For the first time ever, human beings from another planet, another civilization, will be setting foot on Galactica. From the examinations that Commander Adama and Captain Thrace went through on the planet, they and we are almost completely identical. They are human; we are human. And shortly, we will meet them face to face.

"I'm sure you've all read and seen the reports about our visitor. His name is Justin Bond. He is the leader, the President of a nation on Earth called the United States of America, which is considered the strongest nation on the planet. He comes here with the blessings of his fellow leaders from other nations. He will have two physicians, one scientist and one computer expert along with him, which will help us make sure he will not contract any diseases, and to help us communicate as smoothly as possible.

"All five will have to remain in isolation until it is established that they won't become ill on board Galactica. We are confident that our guests will be able to leave the isolation after a few days. After that, I intend to let President Bond tour Galactica and visit Colonial One, to hold talks with the President and myself, and to become more familiar with all of us. If you should happen to meet Mr. Bond when he's with us, please treat him and his companions with the utmost respect. They are our brothers and sisters, so please make them feel welcome. These meetings are the first step in what, we all hope, will be the beginning of the bonding between our two civilizations of men. We ask for your prayers and best wishes as we begin this journey. Adama out."

"Raptor 187, you are cleared to land, Starboard hanger, Checkers are green."

"Roger, Galactica starboard, I have green." Lee began the landing cycle.

"No bumps on this one, Lee. You want to be nice to our visitors", Kara said with a wink. "First impressions, you know."

"Oh, you would love it Kara, if I fracked up the landing, wouldn't you?" He glanced sideways, at her, with a smirk on his face.

"Oh you know it, Commander!", she laughed playfully. It would make her day in fact.

But, to no one's surprise, Lee made a perfect landing, right in the center of the landing bay. The instructions they'd been given were simple: Lee and Kara would escort the VIP's into the sterile room that had been set up in the hangar, and there, Cottle, the Admiral and the President would meet the guests.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

The ship touched down. President Bond barely could tell they had landed. This guy would make a great Air Force jock, he thought to himself. He had a feeling they both could handle an Air Force bird.

It had been a fairly quiet trip among the four of them.

His other four companions had made the trip quite better than he thought they would. He gave credit for that, again, to the two very skilled pilots that had flown them here. It really hadn't hit them that they were no longer tethered to earth's atmosphere.

He had two physicians with him, Doctors Leonard McMasters, and Ludmilla Tulchinksky, the first an American, the latter from Russia, both affiliated with the World Health Organization. He had one scientist with him. Doctor Tahiko Yuji, Japanese, one of the smartest people on the planet. He was learned in physics, astrophysics, astronomy, cosmology-you name it, he knew about it. And, finally, was Doctor Liana Maddox, a Computer Scientist, and a world-renowned linguist. She would assist in communications aboard the ship. They were all volunteers, President Bond thought ruefully.

"Guess who's coming to dinner?", Liana Maddox said deadpan. That got a chuckle from the Earthlings.

"I guess we are", chimed in Doctor Tulchinsky. "I'm just glad we aren't the dinner". She made a sarcastic cough with that comment.

"I'm glad you're all so cheerful. I hope you can stay that way for the next few days while we're in isolation", the President said with a not unkind voice. "This is where the fun begins"

"Well, sir", Doctor Yuji added, " I guess it's time to get serious about this."

Leonard McMasters added to the joviality. "In the U.S, Tahiko, we call it 'putting on our game face'". The Japanese doctor, an avid baseball fan, got the reference at once. The Russian looked a little puzzled, which made the President stifle a laugh.

Then, the fun and games ended. The hatch on the ship opened, and the two pilots, one male, and one female were on the wing. Both wore what looked pretty much like what fighter pilots on earth would wear, the President thought. He had been briefed that the male was the son of the Military Commander on Galactica, and was third in command of the ship and that the female was considered the best pilot in the fleet that they were no within.

He looked directly at the two pilots and nodded in recognition. They returned the courtesy. The female pilot studied him in curiosity. Neither Kara nor the President knew it yet, but their futures were to become inextricably linked in ways that they could never imagine at that moment.

Unlike their Earth counterparts, they wore no spacesuits to hide their faces. That had worn helmets, not much different from those that fighter pilots on Earth would wear. The looked, well, human. The hair on their heads, two eyes, two ears, two arms, two legs, a nose, a mouth, almost exactly like theirs. As had been observed, their eyes were slightly closer together than their Earth guests, and they did seem to be a little more compact than the average person on Earth. But the resemblance was unmistakable.

No words were spoken. The male nodded and indicated that they would be moving forward. No one else was in the landing bay. The party from Earth knew that was the plan, but it struck them nonetheless inside this cavernous ship. The landing bay all by itself was mammoth.

They reached a pair of automatic sliding doors, which opened. The first thing any of them could see was simply white-obviously a material that would keep the isolation chamber sterile until all the medical tests were complete. They turned left around the corner, President Bond directly behind them.

The two pilots parted to opposite sides, and two other people stepped up in front of The President. He had seen their photographs and knew who they were. Admiral Adama, and President Roslin.

And the human leaders from two different worlds set their eyes upon each other for the first time. President Bond extended his hand; Admiral Adama accepted it.

Nothing would ever be the same.

Coming Next: Battlestar Galactica: Collision
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