Categories > TV > Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galatica: Collision

by Treadstone17 2 reviews

It's the year 2027, five years after Galactica arrived on Earth. Mankind is moving for a limitless future. But first, it must overcome an old, deadly enemy one last time.

Category: Battlestar Galactica - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Sci-fi - Characters: Apollo,Gaius Baltar,Saul Tigh,William Adama - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2017-05-27 - Updated: 2017-06-05 - 39173 words - Complete

1Exciting
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

COLLISION


PROLOGUE

LATE WINTER, 2027

Galen Tyrol would always think if himself as "Chief Galen Tyrol". It's just what he's been called for years and years. Well, he'd been called worse, he supposed. "Toaster" and "Skinjob" came to mind, as well as certain expletives. But for years it had been simply "Chief".

But now he was a Rear Admiral. He was an Admiral, but he wasn't commanding a Battlestar. Well, not technically. He was building a Battlestar. And unlike the builders of many Battlestars before this one was being built on Terra Firma.

It was nice to be building, not destroying or being destroyed. Galen took a moment to realize that, in the last five years, the survivors of the Holocaust on The Colonies were no longer a "gang", as Lee Adama had stated at Baltar's trial so many years ago. They weren't fighting. The were living again. They saw hope and a future with their brothers and sisters from Earth. They had regained much of the humanity they had lost.

As a Cylon, Galen had to grin at the word, but, to him, the word "humanity" was more than a bloodline; it was a way of conducting oneself, to carry oneself with dignity and pride, instead of with simply anger and hatred. That wasn't true during the flight from The Colonies to this world. The sheer desperation of being pursued had turned good people, including himself, into desperate beings, willing to do anything to simply stay alive. But in not running anymore and being part of something that actually had a future had changed him, and most of those who had come to Earth on Galactica and the fleet.

The rough edges that had shaped him during the flight had begun to fade. He remembered being sick and tired of people-Cylon, or Human, and wanting to simply go away by himself. He hadn't cared for much of anything since Cally had died, but he also wasn't the same bitter person who had snapped Tory's neck on Galactica either. Some of that rough-hewn scarring would always be a part of him and would in some ways serve him well in his current position. But like coarse sandpaper, hope had a way of whittling away at the layer of callous that had built up around his heart and his emotions all those years. He and those who had fled with him were becoming civilized people again. Much of the soul that he and others' felt had been lost in that desperate flight across the stars, was being regained. And it felt good.

He was now part of United Earth Defense, an organization born four years ago after the Colonials had arrived on Earth. And he was in charge of building the new ship of the line for the defense of Earth. And it would be his ship. Even if someone else became the master of her when she flew, it would always be his ship.

It was quite literally being built from scratch. Since their arrival on Earth five years ago in 2022, the Colonists had slowly been integrated into life on their new home planet and with their new relatives. And after much give and take in the United Nations, and a plebiscite in one American state, the Colonists had finally been settled in what had been part of the American Midwest. The Northwestern part of the state of Iowa was now the Independent Nation of New Caprica, complete with a seat at the United Nations.

After that what remained of the civilian fleet landed at two different places on Earth, here in Arizona, and halfway around the world in Spain. The ships had been dismantled, all the metal and composite materials melted down, and two new Battlestars were being built from their remains and from other raw minerals from the planet.

The Colonists had the blueprints and the know-how. Earth the raw materials to put together more ships for the defense of this last, best hope of humanity. They had taught their Earth brethren so much in the last five years, and Earth had taught them much as well. Earth was on the verge of conquering cancer now; on the cusp of curing insidious diseases like ALS, Alzheimer's and Dementia. The arrival of these relatives from one million light years away were transforming the planet.

And, obviously, the Colonists had taught their Earthen brethren about deep space travel, about traveling faster-than-light, and about artificial gravity, where one could walk around on a space ship just as effortlessly as Galen was walking around the Arizona Shipyard. It was a concept with deep roots in Earth's fascination with space, such as "Star Trek", and "Star Wars", but no one had ever figured it out on this end. Now, it was a reality.

And yet, despite their advantages, Earth was teaching them a few things. One thing that they had taught the fugitives was a better way to go faster-than-light. Jumping was great at getting out of a tight spot, but it wasn't all that great at traveling great distances at a continuous rate of speed. Scientists and Engineers from Earth had been using what they called Ion propulsion, which would steadily push a spacecraft faster and faster. The combined efforts of the groups from the Colonies and Earth had come up with a method of propulsion based on the Ion method to allow new Battlestars to not only jump but also to travel long distances at a continuous speed. The name of that, which came from one of those old Earth entertainment shows about travel in space was "Warp Capability", where a ship could go continuously faster than the speed of light.

Scientists on Earth had also led them to a new way to propel Battlestars and other space ships. The Colonies had always used Tylium, which was basically ground-up rocks and minerals that covered most uninhabitable planets and moons. It was dirty, and it was dangerous to mine and produce. And it had caused more than a few headaches on the trek from the Colonies to this outpost of humanity.

But Earth scientists had come up with an astounding theory in the 2010's before the fleet arrived, that had been proven, at least on a small scale, to be able to move objects without the use of any fuel or propellant. The system was dubbed EM Drive. It was an electromagnetic propulsion system that worked by bouncing microwaves around in an enclosed environment, like engine nacelles. Their relatives from Earth had not gone far enough to put it into use in anything of consequence, but once Galactica's scientists and engineers like Baltar had been shown what was being done, the breakthroughs had come with breathtaking speed in harnessing the concept. It was now possible to propel any space ship with no fuel, saving time and energy. It was a remarkable breakthrough. Eventually, it would be used for smaller forms of transportation, like cars, intra-planet flights, and even fighters like Raptors and Vipers.

There was also no longer a shortage of Vipers or Raptors, nor pilots to fly them. Years of being on the run and fighting the Cylons had meant a high rate of attrition among both. Pegasus and Galactica had been able to manufacture a handful of Vipers, with the Blackbird being the most notable, but those few frames could not stem the hemorrhage of men and material from constant warfare.

Additionally, Earth's industrial base allowed them to build brand-new Raptors and Vipers, and also the next-generation of space fighter called the Falcon. Newer weapons, guidance, and upgraded Dradis, which on earth was called Radar, were also being installed in every new vessel.

Men and woman from all over Earth had become as good of pilots as anyone that was a veteran in the Fleet. Of course, there were first-rate pilots in military's all over the planet, but many of those were now flying Vipers and Raptors and Falcons. They only lacked the combat experience that their Colonial colleagues had gained. And Admiral Tyrol hoped they would never have to use their experience for combat.

But since no one knew if the Cylons, or anyone else, was out there, the planet needed defending. That was his job. Conversely, younger officers from Galactica were being introduced to Earth's ocean Navies, to help them get a sharper understanding of what it was like to command a ship. Only so many could really get experience on Galactica since she was the only Battlestar aloft. But learning about the operation of a naval surface vessel was the next best thing.

His new ship would be christened the Battlestar Pegasus, in honor of "The Beast" which had been destroyed to saveGalactica in the evacuation of the world that had been dubbed New Caprica. It was only right since there were still many survivors from that monstrous ship. Both new ships would be slightly larger than the original Pegasus, able to handle more Vipers and Raptors, as well as the new Falcons, with newer weapons, better armor, and the new propulsion system.

The ship under construction in Spain would be christened as the new Galactica. When she was ready, the Old Girl would be scuttled. "The Bucket" could defend the planet, but it could never, and would never jump again, and she had to be replaced. The plan was to fly her into the sun once the new Battlestar went aloft, a fitting end to a remarkable journey. Her condition had not permitted her to land on Earth for repairs, so makeshift repairs of her armor and her weapons systems were done aloft.

The keel for Pegasus had been laid three years ago. It had taken two full years before that to construct the shipyard in the Arizona desert and to train the Earth workforce to build the new girl. Now, she was almost finished. On the outside, she was complete. The crews were beginning to finish up her innards-the computers that would allow her to operate; the engines that would propel her; the weapons that would help her defend and attack, upgraded computer systems, and, most importantly, the new crew that would man her. In five months, she would lift off.

And Galen planned to be aboard the New Beast when she went aloft for the beginning of her shakedown.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

I

As was often the case, Justin Bond was in a contemplative mood. The American President, always a person with a lot on his mind as well as his schedule was busier than most of his predecessors could ever dream of. He wasn't upset by that: to the contrary. He loved it. But it would take a toll later in life, and he knew it. All he had to do is look at photographs and old footage of his predecessors who had come into office with brown or black, or even blonde hair, and left with nothing but gray on top of their noggins. But it was a price he was willing to pay because he had wanted to do so many things to move his nation forward. Now, he had been thrust into a leadership role unlike any of his predecessors could have envisaged.

He had come to office in 2021, promising national renewal and massive changes to America's democratic institutions, and he had delivered, and done so with breathtaking speed. He had convinced his Congress and enough states to swiftly pass Constitutional Amendments to ban all private money for Federal Elections, making them publicly funded; installing term limits for The House and Senate, changed the terms of House members from two-year terms to no more than three four-year terms. The Senate and the Presidency were now limited to two six-year terms; banning lobbyists from giving money or gifts to any elected representative or candidate on the Federal Level. And the changes had meant that next year he would be up for re-election.

He was clearly the favorite. His approval rating among Americans was around 79%. He was wildly popular all over Earth, maybe nowhere more popular than in the tiny nation of New Caprica that sat within the middle of The United States. But the election wasn't on his mind this day. It was the last thing on his mind. He was a politician, so it had its place in his daily life, but not today.

While the peoples of the Earth loved him, there was still some lingering resentment among Earth's leaders towards him. He had been the one that was volunteered by other world leaders to take the first step in beginning a dialogue with William Adama and Laura Roslin. And he had, as the saying went, nailed it. He had impressed the people of the planet, and Adama and Roslin. Yet even though his fellow world leaders had promoted him for the assignment, they were jealous of the approbation that he was receiving. Ego drove most people in leadership and he was no exception, but compared to most politicians, he had very little of that personality trait. He just wanted to do his job.

He had used his newfound political posture to drive through something that he had felt stronger about than almost anything else in his lifetime: giving the Colonists the opportunity to live as an independent nation, with full United Nations membership. They blood that had been spilled in numbers that he could barely grasp demanded nothing less.

And the fight to establish a nation for the Colonial survivors had been bruising. National pride was at stake for many leaders, who wanted the tiny nation to be located within the confines of their land. From the beginning of the debate on this issue, President Bond had said the decision was solely and completely up to the Colonists. They would decide if they wanted their own nation. But other nations were competing to have the refugees from the Holocaust close to them. Justin Bond had not put the United States in that bidding war. He had refused. He wanted to Colonists to decide their fate, not him.

And, yet, in the end, New Caprica ended up in a part of Western Iowa. It wasn't thanks to him. The people of Iowa had started a petition, which received enough signatures to put on the state ballot, asking for a referendum that would give the Colonists 150,000 acres of land in the Northwestern corner of the state, if they wanted to start their own nation. Any Iowans who stayed there would keep their American Passports under a special agreement and would be granted dual citizenship if the referendum was passed.

It passed with 76% of the votes cast.

New Caprica was established in October of 2024, and in 2025, was offered a permanent seat in The United Nations. Its population made up of Colonials and Earthlings was approximately 135,000 citizens.

Even though he had not pushed the referendum in any way, many of his fellow heads of state had been jealous that the new nation was located on American soil. Negotiations on other matters had turned contentious, and little roadblocks would suddenly pop up, especially when dealing with Russia and China, the other two big boys on the block, who jockeyed with the U.S for dominance. And while it hadn't resulted in anything serious except some haranguing during negotiations, or in the U.N, it still rankled him that the worldwide unity that had attended the arrival of their newly-arrived brothers and sisters had been sullied somewhat by a handful of men and women who let ego get in the way of all else.
But he was not restless for that reason. He was meeting with Admiral Adama, who was flying down from Galactica to meet with him in The Oval Office.

The two had become admirers of each other. In fact, they had become fast friends, different in their outlooks on life, shaped by many different experiences, but men with common goals. Adama was committed to protecting this planet as fiercely has he had tried to protect the Colonial home worlds. Bond was committed to making sure that the traditions, cultures, and history of The Colonies were preserved and not forgotten on Earth. They both were willing to do whatever it took to protect the planet if someone would show up someday at Earth's doorstep.

"How are you, Bill? I hear you've been driving the new recruits that will take over Pegasus pretty hard?", They younger man extended his hand to the Admiral.

Admiral Adama smiled, "Do you expect anything less of me, Mr. President? In four months, Pegasus will take off and begin her shakedown. Everyone from the CIC to the pilots to the janitors needs to be ready. You're godsdamn right I'm driving them hard."

It still amused Justin Bond that his friend still put in the Colonial "s" in the middle of "goddamn". It just never quite sounded right to a God-fearing, cussing Earthling like himself. "You won't get any grief from me, Admiral. I approve wholeheartedly. I agree they have to be ready on day one. I think it's great. How are the rooks doing?"

"They're taking names and kicking asses, as you like to say, Justin. It's as outstanding group of people. They've bought into this, and they're willing to go balls to the wall to protect us if it ever comes to that. I couldn't be prouder of them. Lee is going to have a great crew under him."

Two Admiral Adama's to contend with now thought the president ruefully. Not that he would complain. Both knew their jobs, and both, he could tell, were highly skilled at their craft. And since the United Earth Defense Force was under the jurisdiction of the United Nations there really hadn't been any debate over Lee taking The Beast. He had earned his stripes on the Old Beast. He was the logical choice.

"I hear Lee's actually going to take command next week?"

Adama nodded to the affirmative. "Yep, Mr. President. He wants to be there while the work is being finished up. The crew can't really get on board yet, as there's still too much construction going on inside, but being the Top Dog means you get to go aboard when you're ready. He wants to get up to speed on operating the ship. He's read all the specs, and the manuals, and even had sim drills in San Diego with his Officers, but it's not like getting your hands on the real thing."

"I understand that, my friend," said the former Air Force Pilot. "Sims are nice, but until you get in your bird and actually feel it for the first time, it isn't the same."

"I knew you got it, sir," said the Admiral. Even though he was fifteen earth years older than the American President, he had no qualms about calling him "sir". He had always respected the chain of command, and any President or Prime Minister on Earth was his boss, as he saw it. "He's just itching to get aboard."

"Are you going out to San Diego to see him before heading back up?"

"I am, sir. He won't be back aboard Galactica before he takes command next week so I need to see him."

"Understood. Ask him if he has a free moment and if he can wrangle up a Raptor to come visit me before he steps on deck. I'd love to talk to him and see what he's thinking. Tell him this isn't an order, and this is if he can swing it."

"Lee will take it as an order. He has a lot of admiration and respect for you more than anyone on this planet, I suspect. If he can get there, he will."

"By the way, Admiral, you raised some eyebrows with your choice for Tactical on Galactica. You really stirred up the shit down here." President Bond had been as shocked as anyone.

"I realize that Mr. President, but it's my call. The C-in-C has the right to over-rule me if he feels it's necessary, but he's going along with it. He was up on Galactica two weeks ago: he talked to me; he talked to Tigh, and he talked to her. He was satisfied with the arrangement."

Bill could almost feel the doubt the President had. But his friend would have to trust him on this one.

"So, tell me, how is she working out? And how are her subordinates adjusting to it?" He knew his friend could handle his troops, but wanted to hear how the crew had taken the news.

"The officers and enlistees were both very skeptical at first, Justin, I won't blow smoke up your ass telling you otherwise. But she knows her stuff. She knows Cylon tactics, and she's cool under pressure. She earned the Lieutenant stripes that she received. Her underlings are a tough bunch to convince and impress, but she's done it."

"And you think she's 'bought into it', as well?" Bond was pressing his friend, not to get him to change his mind, or to harangue him about the decision, but to see how convinced the Admiral was.

He had read the many reports and logs on the interaction between Galactica's crew and the Cylon humanoids. He knew there had been a bad history between them, and that was putting it mildly. One had to only read up on the notorious history of Boomer to realize the nastiness of the relationship at times. And no one had been more mistrusting of the Cylon humanoids than Bill Adama.

"You've obviously read the reports on the, shall we say, conflicts we've had with the skin jobs. Yes, I'm sold on her. I have more reason than anyone not to trust them, but one thing we discovered is that the models really weren't all mindless automatons. Athena has never broken her vow; Caprica worked damn hard to get Hera back. The Leoben with us became a strong advocate of peace after our nightmare on New Caprica. She's earned her stripes, sir."

"Don't get me wrong, Admiral", the President said evenly, "I like Lieutenant Baltar. I've talked to Caprica a lot since you arrived here. I think she's committed to you and to Earth, but I know that has caused problems in the past." That was the understatement of the millennium. "I trust your judgment on this Bill, but I was curious."

"No offense taken, Mr. President".

"Now, one more subject".

Adama knew by sheer instinct what that subject was, but out of courtesy, he didn't preempt the President. "What's that, sir?"

"How much longer can Galactica stay up? I've read the reports. Can she make it another 4 months, Bill?" It was as direct a question as he would have put to any of his Military leaders.

"She will, Mr. President. I know nothing's on the threat board, but having gone through what we did for all those years running from those Toasters, I don't want to be without any shield whatsoever even for a moment. They could appear as suddenly as we did. The girl's got some tricks left in her."

"You better be right about that", Justin Bond said, speaking now as a Commander-In-Chief would speak to any military subordinate. "Because I agree with you. And I trust your judgment completely on this, Admiral. If you have that much faith in Lieutenant Caprica Baltar, I'm with you on this one."

"Yes, sir."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

II

Newly minted Admiral Lee Adama was a busy man. The brand-new Pegasus was still under construction and would be for about another four months, but it was time he boarded The Beast and start to get acquainted with her. But when his father had told him about President Bond's invitation, he couldn't say no. He had too much admiration and respect for the American President, who had done so much for the Colonial people in making them feel welcome on Earth. So he had met with President Bond, and after having dinner with the President and his family, whom Lee adored, he immediately returned to San Diego. He would fly his Raptor from UED Headquarters in that city to the Arizona Shipyard just West of Phoenix in three days.

His Officers were all in place. An Earth pilot from Germany, Call Sign "Reaper" would be Viper CAG. His real name was Rudi Beck, who had been Germany's top fighter pilot for a decade. He was as good as anyone in a Viper as Lee had ever seen, himself included. The new Falcons, a faster, modern fighter, which would someday replace all the Vipers, would have Hotdog as CAG. He had shown his metal from day one, when on one of his first days in the cockpit and actually flying, had defended Starbuck, even disobeying orders, when the Cylons had suddenly appeared. He even shot a Cylon fighter down that day. He wasn't a kid anymore, and Lee knew he was the best man for that spot. He trusted both Reaper and Hotdog, but he felt it only fitting that a Colonists get a shot at being CAG with the new Falcons.

With Helo being his XO, the logical choice for Raptor CAG was Athena Agathon. Had someone asked Lee five years ago if he could ever have imagined a Cylon being among his officers, he'd have laughed in their face. But Athena Agathon, a Number 8 of the Cylon skin jobs, was as good a Raptor pilot as there had ever been. It had taken a long time for his father, and the rest of the crew of Galactica to accept Athena completely, especially after Sharon "Boomer" Valerii had tried to assassinate his father, and then had worked with Cavil to kidnap Hera and try and destroy the fleet. But now, he couldn't imagine not having Athena to lead the Raptor Wranglers.

But they wouldn't be arriving for another month. They were all aboard Galactica or in simulators, training like mad for the moment that Pegasus would lift off from the Arizona desert and begin her shakedown cruise. If all went well, she would be fully commissioned by this time next year. A few months after Pegasus went into the stars, the new Galactica would follow her from the Spanish Shipyard.

He made a call up to Galactica to talk to his soon-to-be-XO.

"Karl, from everything I've read and seen, you've done a marvelous job getting the Bridge crews ready for the mission. The Old Man tells me during the last drill, the entire team received almost a perfect score. Congratulations."

"Thank you sir", and Lee could see that wry smile on Karl's face, which he always flashed when getting or giving good news. "I can't take much of the credit. The crew has worked their asses off, and have earned all the good reviews. Maintenance, Weps, the jocks-everyone has really shown they're ready. One thing I can say about Earth, among many good things, is they know how to train their military personnel. They're as good as anyone we ever produced, and I'm not lying on that point."

"You sound really impressed with Reaper. I flew with him about a month ago on a training run, and he's as good as anyone that I've seen in a long time."

"He's an incredible pilot. I've had other jocks from other nations tell me that the Germans are always cool customers, and he is. Nothing rattles the guy. He's like ice in the cockpit, but he also is very fond and protective of his pilots."

'A good combination. Any other standouts?"

"Many standout's Admiral." Among the pilots, I can think of a few. We have one, 'Samurai', from Japan, obviously; There's "Ghostrider", he's an American Naval aviator, who is a natural in the new Falcon. We have a girl who could become as famous, or as notorious as Kara is. Her Call Sign is "Nightingale", from Canada, and she's as headstrong as Kara or Kat ever was. And she's got the potential to be as good a pilot as both of them, which is also saying something. We've got a lot you're going to like, sir."

"I like the sound of that. I don't know about having to deal with another Kara or Kat, but if Nightingale ends up being as good as those two, she'll be worth the headaches", he said with a chuckle. "How's Athena doing with the Wranglers?"

"About the same. Her pilots love her to death and would do anything for her, but they also knows she's The Boss, and there's no question of that. We've got some good up and coming pilots and right seaters. And with a full compliment Raptors, Vipers and the new Falcons, if the Cylons show up, they'll meet a sledgehammer if they take us on."

"OK, Karl. I'm boarding The Beast on Tuesday, and I'll get in touch with you once I'm on board."

"Aye, sir. Looking forward to taking station on her. Talk to you soon."

Talking shop like that was always enjoyable to Lee, and it made him smile reminiscing about the days on Galactica after the destruction of the Colonies. It wasn't a pleasant journey, to be sure, but he had had some good times with Helo, Athena, Kara and so many others that had worn the jock smocks on both the original Galactica and Pegasus. And it made him think about someone who would not be part of his crew on Pegasus.

"I wonder how Kara is doing?", he said aloud to no one.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

President Bond was getting ready for his trip to the Arizona desert. In four days he would be present along with many other world leaders for the liftoff of the Battlestar Pegasus as she began her shakedown cruise. If all went well she would be back down at her dock west of Phoenix in about a year, spend one week making any minor adjustments or improvements, and then she would be permanently in space, the first ever manned Interstellar Starship constructed on Earth. He wondered what Gene Roddenberry would think about all this.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations Nelson Adebisi from Nigeria would fly from New York to Andrews, and then both of them would fly with Admiral William Adama from Andrews to Pegasus' berth in the desert aboard the Admiral's personal (and brand new) Raptor. His wife Judith and their two children were already in Phoenix enjoying a vacation together before meeting him west of Arizona's capitol.

Admiral Lee Adama, Commander of Pegasus, had invited the President to be aboard when Pegasus lifted off and spend a few days in space, touring the new Marvel before commencing her trial runs in earnest. The President had been the one who had pushed for building two new Battlestars. It had met with some resistance mostly because of national pride, but placing one construction site in Europe had mollified most of the world's leaders and the projects had moved forward. He would be the only Head Of State other than New Caprican President Laura Roslin aboard Pegasus.

His Chief of Staff had made sure the few days leading up to the departure for Arizona weren't going to be too stressful. Congressional leadership had planned well in advance that there'd be no major business or legislation for the President to deal with in his week-long absence. And since there were no real crises of any consequence in the world right now, that was easy to accomplish.

The next few days passed without much incident. The media and members of Congress were wanting his last-minute thoughts on the trip ahead, but, like them, he wasn't sure quite what to expect. He was just glad when the day arrived. It was like waiting for Christmas. It seemed to take forever for the appointed moment to appear. He was ready to board Pegasus like an eight-year-old was ready to tear into his presents on that wonderful December 25th.

The Secret Service had packed about eight days or so of clothing, with different suits and also some very casual attire when he was on more personal time aboard Pegasus.

Of course, his military aides would always be with him. Two Air Force Colonels would also accompany him as well. Those Officers would share the duty of making sure "The Football"-the satchel with American's nuclear launch codes was close to the President at all times. The world was as much at peace with itself as it had ever been, but protocol and the fact that stranger things had happened demanded that they be there.

There would also be about twenty-five reporters from different news agencies on earth, who would act as the "Press Pool", and would provide all media outlets worldwide with access to the events unfolding. "Good Morning America" and a Russian news program had been granted permission to broadcast from on board Pegasus before she took flight. He, like most Presidents, knew how important an independent media was to a free society, but like many of them, he didn't care for the circus atmosphere that always seemed to follow them.

There was one other person who would accompany Adama, the Secretary General and himself on the trip. That person would pilot the Raptor along with the Admiral, but this person had another primary job. It had been decided early on that each Head-of-State would be assigned a Fleet Military Liaison, or Attache, from Galactica, to be the go-between to Admiral William Adama, and, shortly, to Admiral Lee Adama in all matters concerning Galactica and Pegasus.

The President reached for the phone on the right side of his desk and dialed the number for his Attache. "Are you about ready to go? The bird is warming up."

"Yes, sir. I'll be up there in about two minutes. I was just putting some last minute notes together for the trip."

The President waited for his Military Liaison to arrive. The Secretary-General was due to land at Joint Base Andrews in about thirty minutes, and Marine One was ready to depart. Like clockwork, his attache was in the Oval Office in two minutes.

He smiled to himself thinking about his Liasion. He and Bill Adama had both come to the conclusion that this person would be an excellent Liaison between the White House and the fleet. They knew the ins and outs of the ship and had also been brought up to speed on the new Beast. He knew that this person had come with some baggage, but he had wanted someone who would keep him on his toes. And that had definitely been the case.

His Fleet Military Liaison walked into the Oval Office. "All set?", the President inquired.

"Well, sir, I'm ready as hell for this trip."

"Well, that makes two of us Captain Thrace. Shall we?"

___________________________________________________________________________________________

III

"And so, ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be commanding this new Battlestar. A Battlestar which combined the talents of men and women from both the Colonies and Earth. It will be staffed with men and women from all thirteen worlds that Man is known to be from. It is a shared affirmation of the commitment by those of us who arrived here five years ago to defend Earth as if it was our own, and a commitment from the people of Earth to help make sure that what happened on the Colonies will never happen to Earth. We lift off today praying that Pegasus will never be used in anger, but confident that if called upon her crew will defend the people of this planet."

Lee stepped away from the microphone to thunderous applause. It was estimated that more than 1 million people had descended on the area nearPegasus' construction site, to witness it as it rose into space for the first time.

"Good speech", Lee's father said to him as they shook hands.

"I don't know, Lee, I think it was a little wordy myself", President Bond said deadpan as he also shook the younger Admiral's hand. Lee tried to stifle a laugh but failed miserably.

"Well, you're the speech-maker sir, not me!" He said while still trying to stop laughing.

"Oh, I don't know, Lee...uh I mean Admiral", Kara remarked sweetly, "It wasn't bad. All that hot air could put The Beast in orbit all by itself"

Bill Adama was just taking a sip from his bottle of water and almost spit out the liquid when Kara said that. He had naturally begun choking from some of the water going the wrong way.

"That's the funniest damn thing I've heard in a long time", the elder Adama said, still choking with laughter.

Lee shot both his father and Kara a look of mock venom.

"OK, everyone, enough of 'let's joke about the Admiral'. You're heading aboard my ship now, and if you mock me there, you'll be in the brig", he said sardonically, making sure he had the last laugh on the platform. "Shall we go aboard?"

Ten minutes later, they were all in the new CIC. It looked like nothing Bill Adama had ever seen. It was thoroughly modern, with LCD screens, touch-screen interfaces, brand new communications systems. It was the new state-of-the-art. Galactica was going on 90 years old, as counted on Earth. She looked positively prehistoric compared to the new Pegasus.

The CIC was now more like a bridge from...well, from Science Fiction, thought the elder Adama. It was a bit further forward than the old design allowed, and while it still had the center area for Admiral, XO, and Tactical, it also had a forward-facing window, made of highly machined composite glass, that could withstand the pressure of space. When needed, a blast shield would cover the large window to protect the CIC. But it gave the CIC less of a claustrophobic feel than her predecessors, who had relied only on Dradis to "see" what was going on.

After the dignitaries and media who were not staying aboard Pegasus had departed, it was time for her Admiral to prepare for lift-off. None of them had ever left a planet surface aboard a Battlestar, and the weren't sure exactly how it would feel. But they were all anticipating the trip.

"XO, go around the horn." Lee glanced over at Helo.

"Aye, Admiral! Attention on the ship, Pegasus preparing to depart, all departments report in."

One by one, Commander Agathon called out to the different duty stations on the ship. Each, without fail, reported "GO!" to him.

"All stations report they are good to go, Admiral". That smile crossed Helo's face.

"Very well, XO. Attention all personnel, prepare to depart. Mr. Winston put me through to Shipyard Departure Control"

"Online, Admiral"

"Departure Control, Pegasus Actual. The board is green, requesting permission to depart."

"Permission granted, Pegasus Actual. You are approved to clear all moorings. Maneuvering thrusters only until 10,000 MSL, then ¾ impulse, bearing 237, mark 135 into synchronous orbit."

"Copy, Departure. Thrusters only to Angels Ten, ¾ impulse bearing 237 mark 135 to orbit."

"Good luck and Godspeed Pegasus."

The engines roared to life, although inside the ship itself, with the new composite materials that Pegasus' hull was made from, it was incredibly quiet. Lee knew the people watching from the observations that began eight miles from the ship's perimeter would be holding their ears. He knew the gigantic engines would make a hellish racket.

"Helm, begin ascent. Thrusters only to Angels 10, ¾ impulse, course 237 mark 135 to orbit.", the ship's Admiral called out.

…...And Pegasus left the surface of Earth for the first time. She'd be back, but only once more, in about a year's time. From this moment on, she was even unofficially because of the shakedown protocols, on duty if the need arose.

The five million or so souls ringing Pegasus in the Arizona desert roared their approval, but even for those who were fifteen miles away, it was hard to make anything out but the blast of Pegasus' forty-eight individual engines.

A new era for humanity had arrived.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

FOUR MONTHS LATER

Pegasus had performed flawlessly during her shakedown period in space up to this point in time. United Earth Defense had mapped out a series of tests that the new Flagship would need to follow over the first year to be certified worthy for unlimited operations. Combat drills. Shipboard emergencies, scenarios like fires in the hangers or near the engines, or loss of communications on board the ship, withGalactica, or with Earth, and tests of the new propulsion system and the new "Warp" capability.

All had gone like clockwork in the first four months. A lot still needed to be done but her Admiral and her crew were awestruck by this modern marvel. As much as Lee loved and cherished "The Bucket", his ship was quite literally light years ahead of the Old Girl. He knew the new Galactica would be leaving Earth in two months, would be the match for Pegasus in every way.

The Old Girl had some spunk left in here still. His father had promised UED Command and anyone else who would listen that he would keep Galactica airworthy until it's new namesake took to the heavens. No one was looking forward to the day that this 90-year-old legend was retired, but need surpassed sentiment. Her time had passed.

Lee had his own issues. He was on a tight schedule. And while the crew did have time to relax and regenerate from the demands of the shakedown, when it was time to work he worked them hard, but no harder than he himself was willing to work. He was lucky if he got four hours of sleep on average. He would take maybe one or two days a month off as needed time to recharge his engines as well, but he couldn't afford any more than that.

One of the biggest tests would commence in about ten days. That would be a full-dress battle simulation with Galactica, who would play the role of the Cylons, and it would test to see how battle ready Pegasus was. Earth-based Raptors, Vipers, and Falcons would join the "battle" to help simulate a large Cylon attack using multiple Baseships.

Since the destruction of the Colonies, Galactica had usually fought out-gunned, so this was to be a similar test for Pegasus. He and his father would meet two days before the simulation along with the top officers on each ship to go over the ground rules and to emphasize what UED Command was looking for in the drill. The wouldn't discuss strategy, as that was not permitted. Everything was to be as spontaneous as they could make it.

The meeting between the brass of both ships aboard Pegasus went well. Lee had asked for the meeting aboard the newer ship to impress, and maybe even over-awe the officers from the Old Lady. But he also wanted to put as much drive into the Galactica crew as he did his own crew. This was serious business, and he wanted them to defend the honor of their ship as well. He knew his father would demand nothing less. And by taking this as serious as actual combat, it would help Pegasus' crew to become even sharper and more battle-ready.

The entire front-line crew from Galactica would be on board. That permanent crew had been rotating back to Earth, about 1/3 of them at a time, training with the sims for the new Galactica. They would need to be familiar with The New Girl as soon as she was ready. But for this four-day exercise, both Adama's had demanded the first-line crew from Galactica be present.

Since Galactica couldn't jump to simulate a surprise attack, the scenario would start as if Galactica had jumped in. The exact timing of the "jump" would be unannounced so that an element of surprise would enter the simulation. The senior Adama would pick the chosen moment. Lee thought his father would pick the middle of the night.

Lee was wrong.

Late afternoon on the second day that the war games could begin, Galactica announced that it had "jumped", and the war games started. No real weapons would be fired, but the drill would be deadly serious.

For the first two days, the war games played out as expected. Neither Admiral could be disappointed in the efficiency of their respective crews. They had trained both their crews thoroughly and it showed. Galactica played the role of a Cylon Baseship with a precision that would have made any Toaster blush. The Pegasus crew was up to the task at almost every turn. To be sure, Pegasus "lost" a few battles but those were good learning lessons, and while senior officers would probably chew out the crew, they would always follow up with a session to reassure their charges that they would learn a lot from these mistakes and be better for it. Better to "lose" now when no lives were at risk than in a real battle.

By evening on the second day, with two more officially to go, the "battle" had become a standstill. That was what was wanted, especially from a first-time crew that Pegasus possessed. The elder Adama didn't give the new Pegasus and her crew any breaks. He pressed the fake "attacks" home as if he were Cavil, looking to wipe out the fleet. So far, it had been an impressive performance by both ships, their crews, and their Admirals.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Other training was going on concurrently to the war games. With the ability to build a plethora of new Raptors UED Command was in the process of forming a 360-degree arc of multi-level "pickets" that would be the early warning apparatus for Earth. There would be, for now, two rings of "pickets" that would patrol the Solar System. The first ring would be just inside the standard orbit of Pluto and the second ring would be-be formed just this side of Saturn, with the Battlestars being the last line of defense. Like the old "pickets" of past wars on Earth, these patrols would be there to forewarn of any unwelcome visitors getting too close to the home world. Eventually, more than five-hundred Raptors would be used to form these pickets in every direction around the solar system. They were to be the advanced eyes and ears for Pegasus and the new Galactica.

Only the distant Picket Line was currently being manned with about 180 Raptors who, like the two Battlestars, were on their first sets of training missions. More would be added, but it was sufficient to start with. The Raptors would be rotated every nine days back to Earth, with one-third of the pickets being rotated at once, with new crews and ships taking up station. This way, as many pilots could be trained just as fast as possible.

Raptor 967 was crewed this week by Lieutenant Emily Rappaport, Call Sign "Pocahontas" An American who loved books, that long-ago Indian Princess being her favorite character. Her Second-In-Command was Lieutenant Timin Rifkin, Call Sign "Archer"; a Picon who had only been fourteen when the Holocaust on the home worlds began.

They each had rotating, four-hour sleep cycles. Emily was just waking up from her sleep period.

"Day Four, Timin. Having fun yet?" Yawned Emily, as she climbed into the left-hand seat of the Raptor to resume her Pilot-In-Command duties.

"Oh yeah, Em. I think watching the grass grow back home near Sioux City would be more exciting than this. But we need the practice. I was getting tired of sim work."

"Yeah, me, too. It's nice to be on an actual training mission. I suppose this will be commonplace for us nerdy Earthlings pretty quickly."

"You said the word 'nerdy', not me sister", Archer said with a broad grin. There was nothing nerdy about Pocahontas. She was a first-rate Raptor Jock. Once she got some actual experience under her belt Rifkin knew she would climb the latter fast.

They ran some tests on their systems and did some requisite maneuvers within their patrol zone. But it was routine stuff. Lunchtime arrived a few hours later.

"Whatcha got today, Archer?". Emily had already removed her meal from the onboard cooling unit.

"My mom made me some fried chicken just before I left. She makes the best damn chicken I've ever had. I made sure she gave me about fifteen pieces." He took a big bite out of a plum chicken thigh.

"Fifteen? Jesus, we're only out here nine days for chrissake, didn't you bring anything else?"

"Of course I did, Em, but I'll eat a couple pieces a day. I love this stuff. I may become a chicken someday, you know", Archer said with a grin.

"PLEASE tell me you brought some of your mom's Dutch Apple Pie?" She almost drooled the words out. Emily had visited Timin's family near Sioux City on a few occasions and adored his family.

"Of course I did", he said with satisfaction, "mom knows you're nuts about her pie. She loves when you visit because she can make it for us."

"Screw lunch, just hand me the damn pie", she deadpanned, which made Timin laugh.

A few minutes later, the computer beeped at them. Emily had been happily devouring the pie and reluctantly put it down to see what the system was announcing.

"Dradis is picking up something. It's at the very edge of its range. Let's get strapped in for a few and see what's up?"

"Gotcha, Pocahontas. You want to do the flying?"

"For the moment. You'll get enough stick work, I promise", she winked.

They had gone about 2 million kilometers out and the contact, whatever it was, was firming up nicely but still too far away to identify. "Showing the contact is about 15 million kilometers out, heading 049 mark 228. Speed is constant", barked Lieutenant Rappaport. "Thinking it's a meteorite or something."

"Looks about right, Emily. But let's see if we can get an identity lock."

A few minutes later, Dradis was starting to firm up more.

"OK, Dradis making another sweep. C'mon, baby, give us an ID" Emily was enjoying the training and finally being out in space, but she'd rather be reading a good book right about now and eating some more of that pie.

The computer squawked at them and quite stridently this time. "OK, Archer Dradis says identification coming up in a second or two".

They both looked at their monitors as the computer chewed on the date a few more seconds.
"OK, Archer, the computer identifies the contact as a...Cylon Baseship", the color instantly drained from her face. She looked hard over at her Second-In-Command.

"Can't be, Pocahontas. Maybe there's a computer sim they've put into the system to play with us. Other ships have had that happen." Archer still didn't feel any alarm. UED had loaded simulated programs onboard Raptors to test the newer pilots.

"Maybe..." Emily said slowly. Unlike Timin, she had felt the hairs stand up on the back of her neck. "We need to confirm the ident. Check the computer to see if UED Command has downloaded any surprises for us that we weren't aware of."

UED had advised all crews in training that there could be simulated programs that hatch at any moment to test the crews and the ships. It didn't happen with every crew rotation but all the crews were aware of the possibility. Timin briefly went back to the Information Center to check if this was the case.

"No sim was loaded, Emily." Now Timin felt a cold pit in his stomach, and it wasn't from the fried chicken. "What's Dradis saying?", he asked, scrambling back into his right seat.
Emily was silent for about 10 seconds, as she slightly maneuvered her ship, to get a bitter fix and ident on the bogey.

"Emily?"

"Holy Mary Mother of God, it's IS a Cylon Baseship! Positive identification!"

"Shit, Emily, we need to get out of here! If we can see them, they probably can see us! We need to floor this baby!"

"Jesus, you're right. Let's get the hell out of here. Archer, send the Fleet-wide Alert!"

Timin punched in the message that would go to all ships and UED: "Krypter, krypter, krypter, Raptor 987, Picket Line 55 Alpha Blue, Positive ID Cylon Baseship, course 195 mark 201, 12 million kilometers from present position."

"OK, Pocahontas, Message is out!"

With that, she prepared to jump the ship.

They had been so busy alerting Earth and plotting the position of the Baseship, that they didn't have time to even notice the long-range missile that slammed into their Raptor two seconds later. They would never notice anything again.

But the message had been sent.
_______________________________________________________________________________________

IV
Five minutes after the warning had been received from the now-dead Raptor, both Admirals had canceled the war games. Other Raptors had been sent out to investigate what had been identified as a Cylon Baseship. More information would arrive shortly.

Condition One had been ordered for all ships in the Fleet, and at UED Command in San Diego. Both ships were fully armed and could defend themselves. And since no one knew if the Cylons had been spotted for sure, or if they might not jump on top of them at any moment, all hands were at battle stations.

This was no longer a simulation.

UED Command had notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations within minutes of declaring Condition One. Every Head of State was being given the urgent news at that very moment.

"Gods, I was hoping this day would never come, the younger Admiral said urgently,
"Galactica is in no shape for a drawn-out battle." In other words, she was basically a sitting duck, and they both knew it.

"She's got a few tricks left up to her sleeve, son. I'm old, but I know how to get a little more out of her." He was fully confident in his ability to do so, but if it was the Cylons, he also knew his ship was in mortal danger.

Bill Adama could hear a piece of paper crackling in his son's hand. "UED Reports all Earth-bound fighters on Condition Red. The U.S, Russia, and China already report their air forces are moving to a war footing. We can throw a lot of firepower at them, dad."

"That's the idea, Admiral." Bill Adama said crisply. "I think the war games have proven your people are ready, but the real thing is different from a sim, and we both know it."

A few minutes later, reports began coming in from other Raptors out deep in the Solar System. The news was not welcome.

"Lee, follow up is that it's four Baseship. But from the intel we're getting they aren't approaching Earth, at least not yet. They're following the game plan that we used when we arrived here: taking it slow and cautious."

"I would. Better than getting caught with your pants down". Lee was scanning the very intel his father had just read to him. If the Toasters would just stay wary for a few days, it would give Earth's forced a better chance to prepare for real battle. "Four frackin' Baseships. Earth is going to catch hell."

"Let's just hope they give us some time to firm up our plans, Lee. My guess is there can't be many of their Baseships left. I was hoping there were none, but in any case, since they're all mortal now, it's a good bet we have at least a few days to get ready, if not longer."

It turned out that both Admirals had been correct in their assessment: They Cylons turned out to be very cautious. ten days had passed, and the Cylons still hadn't headed towards Earth. The hope was that they hadn't spotted Earth but UED and the two Admirals on the spot knew better. They knew the enemy, now fully mortal, was biding its time, perfecting its plans and no doubt reconnoitering Earth. At the thirteen day mark, Cylon Raiders had been caught jumping in and back out very near to the fleet, but they were gone before any shots were fired.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

After the initial shock and panic that had swept Earth, things had calmed down to some degree. It now had been two weeks, and the Cylons still had not approached in force. A couple of Cylon fighters had actually jumped into the atmosphere to get a closer look at the planet. None had been shot down but none had fired on the planet.

The United Nations had been in almost continuous session for the entire time. While there was no doubt that Galactica and Pegasus would be the key to Earth's defense, there was a high probability that Cylon ground forces could be strategically landed to cause havoc on the ground. No doubt they were taking their time in gathering intelligence on the best way to do that.

While it was impossible for all seven billion people on earth to be sheltered to any degree if and when an attack started, the leaders of the world made their plans to try and ride out what was coming. Each of them already had emergency locations that they could go to in case of a war.

President Bond's normal contingency was in the mountains of West Virginia. But the Joint Chiefs thought that still might be too close to Washington if the Cylons visited the city. They suggested, and the President agreed to put his base if war looked imminent at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha. The base had housed the old Strategic Air Command from the Cold War Days and possessed deep, well-protected underground bunkers that were safe from nearly any type of aerial attack.

The President would go there with as much of his extended family as he chose to take. There was room for thousands of people in the complex under the base. The Joint Chiefs, The Congress, and The Supreme Court could all be housed there.

Washington, being what it was, the location where President Bond would reside if war broke out didn't remain a secret for long. Soldiers, sailors, and airmen from around the world were volunteering to go to the Omaha area to protect the Presidential retreat. No one had organized this; no one had brought it up in a speech. But the President had become the most respected and well-liked leader in the world, for his support of the Colonists, and his insistence on building the new Battlestars. Many leaders had not wanted to build new ships, but President Bond had won the day. And now, it could be the saving grace for the planet.

He had stuck his neck out to protect the planet. Now, men and women in Armed Forces all over the globe wanted to stick their necks out for him and his family.

Within a week, more than one million under arms had been chosen from almost ever military In the world, to go to the Omaha area, where they would be formed into a massive army that would ring Omaha if the Cylons decided to launch an air or ground attack on the American President. The majority were American and Canadian, but virtually every nation had sent at least a token force.

President Bond was a little embarrassed by the whole thing, but he was also moved deeply by the show of respect. He reluctantly accepted the forces, who began flying in a few days later. It had now been five weeks since the Cylons had been spotted, and they still hadn't moved. Maybe they never would, but a ring of military steel now was around Omaha. Led by the top military commanders in the United States and from other nations, the collection of these million men and woman were being shaped into a fighting force as quickly as possible.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

UED Headquarters in San Diego had been the hub of non-stop activity since the detection of the Cylons. The UED Commander-In-Chief had called an emergency meeting that day. Both Admirals Adama were on hand, as the top brass was still determining a strategy for the upcoming battle. Also in attendance was Admiral Tyrol. He wasn't sure what he could contribute to the meeting but he came anyway. Commander Louis Hoshi, who was currently training in Spain near the new ship had also decided to attend.

Bill Adama had been going over some ideas in the quiet of his quarters on Galactica ever since the Cylons had appeared in the distance. He knew he and his crew would fight with the heart of a lion and would defend themselves and the planet well. He also knew that, despite the repairs that had taken place since arriving at Earth, the ship wouldn't be able to take much of a beating. He was going to offer up some very out-of-the-box proposals when he got the chance.

The C-in-C of United Earth Defense was an American Naval officer, Admiral Craig L. Wheeler. He had been C-in-C of the U.S. Pacific Fleet for fifteen years and was considered perhaps the best Naval mind and strategist in the world. It hadn't taken long to realize after arriving at Earth that the closest thing to combat in space was combat on the high seas. The tactics were very similar. The other types of armed forces, like the Army, Air Force, and Marine units from the different nations would play a role in the Order of Battle, but the key was in space. And Wheeler had been the ideal choice to lead UED.

As he opened the meeting, everyone had a pretty good idea what his Operational Plan would be, and how he would play this one. "We'll want Pegasus to take the lead, and try and protect Galactica as much as possible", he declared. "I want Pegasus to screen and I'd like to have a beefed-up CAP around The Bucket at all times." The C-in-C was simply reiterating here what was already known and expected.

That was the conventional wisdom. Despite the repairs that had gone on for her since they came to Earth, it had been impossible to make her jump-capable. Had they tried to land her on Earth for repairs, she would have broken apart. She'd still probably break apart from the stress. One crippled Battlestar and one new one couldn't beat those four Baseships AND help defend Earth. It was stretching their capability too thin.

About thirty minutes into the conference, Bill Adama decided the timing was right. "Admiral Wheeler, may I make a few suggestions, if I may?"

"Of course, Bill, chime in whenever you like." The C-in-C leaned back in his chair.

"Thank you, sir. Ladies and Gentlemen, obviously, we had hoped this day was never going to occur, but it has and there isn't a lot we can do about changing the balance of forces unless we think a little outside the box. We have a less-than-100% Battlestar in Galactica. We've upgraded her but the fact that we couldn't put her on the surface when we arrived means we didn't have the ability to fix her damaged FTL and rebuild her superstructure. I believe we have to get creative in our thinking towards this approaching war."

"Go on, Bill', Admiral Wheeler rejoined.

"I am not disagreeing with the general Op Plan. It's a sound strategy, having Galactica fall back when it can. We simply cannot take a pounding to any extent. She's never recovered from the battle with The Colony. But we also all know that four Baseships against, honestly, one and a half Battlestars, plus trying to defend the planet is problematical at best."

"Continue, Admiral Adama", Wheeler was now leaning forward in his chair, his curiosity piqued.

"Thank you, sir," Bill Adama continued, and then he turned to Rear Admiral Galen Tyrol. "Chief, at present speed, how long until the new Galactica is ready to go?" Most everyone was aware of the time frame, but the senior Adama wanted it on the record.

"Well, sir, the latest timeline says she'll be ready in just over two months. We have to finish up all the internal system and wiring, that will take some more time."

To Bill, Galen would always be "Chief" Tyrol, which made Galen thinly smile. "If we could really go balls-to-the-wall, how fast could she be ready to fly?"

That caught everyone by surprise. No one had even mentioned the new Galactica getting in the game, as an option in the upcoming battle with the Cylons. Not when she was about 70 days or so from being ready, and with the Cylons about to knock at the front door.

Galen felt the weight of every pair of eyes in the room on him. But he answered calmly and confidently. "We've been working on sixteen hour days, five days a week since there's been no need to rush. But if we went to a 24/7 schedule and augmented the workforce with experienced people from Arizona, we could have her done in about thirty-five days I think."

"Admiral, what exactly are you getting at?" Wheeler inquired, now fully intent on the conversation.

"I'm suggesting that we speed up the work on the new Galactica to have her ready in that time frame. If we can bring her into the action then we have two state-of-the-art Battlestars that the Cylons have never had to deal with and we can defeat four ships. But with the Old Girl limited in her movements, Pegasus simply cannot take on four ships, screen Galactica and defend Earth. It's mathematically almost impossible. We'll do our damnedest to take them out before that time, but that's going to be a tough nut to crack."

He paused for a sip of water, wishing it had been a good stiff Ambrosia. "Until she's ready to lift off, I propose that we run a delaying action if we can. Again, we will try to destroy the enemy force before the new ship is ready, but we simply cannot have Galactica going toe-to-toe with one, let alone two Baseships. Our only other alternative would be to basically sacrifice Galactica in a slugging match."

No one in the room liked that idea at all when faced with it in such stark terms. No one wanted to martyr six-thousand-plus Human Beings from Galactica. It was out of the question.

"With all due respect, sir, The Old Lady can't 'slug it out' with them", Commander Hoshi noted. "She won't be able to take a whole lot of pounding." He had literally spoken for everyone in the room.

"I understand that, but unless we can get the new girl in the game our chances of winning are maybe thirty percent. Run a war game through the sims. That's about the odds we'll get, and every single one of you knows that. Maybe we can come up with some ways to slow them down. I will talk with Doctor Baltar when I return to Galactica." Not everyone was ready to commit to his ideas, but they weren't rejecting them out of hand either.

And, deep down they knew Bill Adama was right. It had been the elephant in the room that no one wanted to look at. If the Cylons were allowed to stand toe-to-toe with Galactica, she'd be destroyed.

The debate had become lively after that and went on for almost another hour. No one had expected anything like what Bill Adama was proposing. But neither did anyone challenge his assertion about the chances of one old, broken ship and one new one taking on four fully loaded Cylon Baseships. The debate was heated at times. And when everyone got right down to it, there really wasn't a better option, unless again, they were willing to sacrifice Galactica.

Finally, after an hour of this debate, Admiral Wheeler came to a decision. "Galen, if we REALLY went full tilt could you cut it down to an even thirty days?"

"I'll give it my best shot sir if that's what we need to do." Outwardly, he was calm and collected. Inwardly he was already feeling the clock ticking. One frackin' month? he silently contemplated that time frame.

"Thank you, Galen." Wheeler then paused for a few moments to collect his thoughts. He was the man on the spot right now and he had to act fast.

"Ladies and Gentlemen", Wheeler began, "We will still move to try and destroy the four Baseships as soon as possible, using both available ships. That has to be the goal. And if some of Bill's ideas of deception don't pan out we can't wait for the new girl to arrive. The Op Plan for having Pegasus shield Galactica as much as possible remains in effect." He paused for a brief moment.

"However", he said with heavy emphasis, "the fallback will be to perform a delaying action until new Galactica can be put into service. Bill, talk to Baltar as fast as you can to see what his devious mind can come up with but I want everyone that can work on such ideas to begin doing so immediately."

The assembled all said "Aye, Admiral!" in unison.

"We have another issue to deal with here", Bill Adama interjected. "As you all know, the new Galactica was to be my ship when she set sail. The crew is fully trained for her first flight, but if she's going to go early she needs a Commander, at least until the Cylons are dealt with."

That had been on everyone's mind as well, ever since the senior Adama had mentioned his idea. There was one person present in the room who knew what was coming next. He had hoped this day would never come but now he knew it was a fait accompli.

Admiral Wheeler turned in his seat immediately after Adama had finished his last sentence.
"Commander Hoshi; you rendered distinguished service when Admiral Adama gave you the field promotion of Admiral before the conflict with The Colony. You are also familiar with the new class of Battlestar, as you were training to lead Tactical. I believe you are the ideal person to take temporary command of the New Galactica during this crisis. Will you accept this assignment?"

"I accept, Admiral Wheeler", Hoshi said. What else could he say? He had been glad to give up the bars after the fleet came back together just beyond this planet called Earth, and had never aspired to high command. But he also knew everything about a Battlestar and could handle the reins of command. "Thank you, sir."

"Very well, Mr. Hoshi, for the second time in your career, I grant you the field promotion of Admiral, with all rights, privileges, and responsibilities thereof. The new ship is yours effective immediately." Wheeler paused, then went on. "Now, you'll also need an XO. That decision I will leave to you, but since time is of the essence, I can't really wait for you to make a decision. Do you have someone in mind?"

Hoshi mused to himself that if things had gone differently, Felix Gaeta would have been the perfect choice for such an assignment. But Gaeta was a sad, distant memory. But he didn't hesitate. "If I may sir, I think the best choice at this time would be Captain Athena Agathon. She's versed on the Vipers, Falcons, and Raptors; she has experience on the new Pegasus as their CAG. She's familiar with the new ship." No one even blinked twice when he mentioned the Cylon for XO. It showed just how far Athena and the other Cylons who had sided with humanity had come.

"Lee, you're to contact Captain Agathon. She is Granted the field promotion of Commander and is now Hoshi's Executive Officer."

"Yes, Admiral, if you'll excuse me", said Lee, who immediately left the room to contact Athena and let her know she needed to head to Spain.

"One more thing", Admiral Tyrol offered, "we can't have two ships named Galactica gallivanting around when the new bird gets airborne. That'd cause a helluva lot of confusion when we try to communicate."

Everyone looked around sheepishly at each other. A few of the participants even tried to stifle a small laugh, which did break the deadly-serious tension in the room a little.

Admiral Wheeler looked around the room. "Anyone?"

Finally, Hoshi spoke up. "Since this upcoming battle is to defend Earth, I can't think of a better name for this ship if she's used in this war than the Battlestar Victory." Everyone nodded their assent.

"So be it. Admiral Hoshi, Victory is yours. No pun intended, but hopefully, victory will be ours as well. Good luck and Godspeed".
___________________________________________________________________________________________

V

Admiral Wheeler had a jeep waiting for Hoshi before he left the building, and the Ensign immediately took him out to his Raptor which was waiting on the flight line. A UED Lieutenant would be his left-seater and do most of the flying. The newly (again) minted Admiral had a lot to go over on the flight from San Diego to the base about 200 miles Southeast of Madrid. He had already sent orders to have the nameplate on the outside changed to "VICTORY".That would take a couple of days, but it was the first thing he had advised the shipyard, after telling them to increase the construction to 24/7 until she was completed. UED was already cutting orders to fly experienced workers from the Arizona shipyard to Spain to augment the work.

The new crew had been training for over a year and had been scheduled to board her in about four weeks once most of the major construction was done. Now, UED cut orders for them to report to the Shipyard if they weren't already in Spain immediately and to await orders from their new Admiral.

He was in the information center on the Raptor for a good portion of the flight, reading up on exactly where the construction was at this point, and making mental and computer notes on the best way to speed up the process. He also knew he would need some time in the sim located at the Spanish shipyard to sharpen his knowledge of the new girl. He was well-versed with the new ship but had been working up to become Tactical and third-in-command. That was still different than being The Man on board. He would have to make a great first impression with the crew who had been expecting The Old Man and Tigh running the ship. Those were huge shoes to fill.

About halfway through the flight, the Lieutenant doing the driving informed him he was being hailed.

"Thank you, Lieutenant Kutzinov", as he slipped on his headset. "This is Admiral Hoshi, go ahead."

"Admiral, Commander Agathon. I just want you to know that I'm preparing my Raptor on Pegasus to head down to Spain. Do you have any further instructions for me when I arrive, sir?"

"Yes Athena, when you arrive I will be in the Admiral's quarters just West of Galac...uh, Victory", he quickly corrected himself. "I'm calling in our new staff for a meeting at 0900 local. UED has already made the call for the entire crew compliment to be in Spain no later than 2000 tomorrow evening. We have a lot of work to do. Admiral Tyrol will be arriving sometime tomorrow as well to take command of finishing the construction."

"Aye, sir. It is going to take a few times saying 'Victory' for it to sink in, sir. But it wouldn't be fun with two Galactica's running around." Hoshi could hear her smile.

"Tell me about it, Commander. But it's an appropriate name for the time being. I am arriving at about 1500 local. Advise me of your ETA once airborne."

"Copy that, Admiral. I should be departing within the hour. I will advise when en-route."
"Very well, Commander, have a safe flight. Hoshi out."

He and Lieutenant Kutzinov still had about 2 hours to go. He advised his underling that he was going to close his eyes for a while. He knew he wouldn't get much rest in the next 30 days.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Dad, this plan is suicide for Galactica, and you know it." Lee, being the good soldier, had dutifully fallen into line when at UED Headquarters, but the full impact of this battle plan had sunk into him almost immediately.

"I know the risks, Lee. But we also know the odds if Pegasus has to do most of the work by herself. The odds are we'll both get destroyed. I'm going to work like the gods to try and beat the Cylons with what we have, but the odds are long, and we both know it, son. We can't just hope we can make the Cylons dance until Victory is ready to fly."

"I know dad", Lee said with an air of resignation, "It's too bad we can't move the battle out of Earth's reach. That's the variable that we haven't had since leaving the colonies and since New Caprica. It's easier to fight a larger force without having to protect a planet."

"We have to play the hand we're dealt, Lee. Earth has to be the primary focus of the defense. We have to find a way to take on the Cylons, defend Earth and to protect Galactica. I can't run and hide-I can't jump anywhere. And it will do no good to run Galactica off into the Solar System. They will want to destroy Earth."

Lee was looking down at nothing in particular. He didn't like any of this, but he also knew the odds were long with only one fully healthy Battlestar. "So, how can we game this? I mean, they'll pound Earth to keep us close to her. That way, we're tethered to a fairly static defense. And, as you say, Galactica can't hide." He paused again. "I just don't see many good options here."

"I'm not sure there are any. C-in-C is working on it, but it isn't much you can do with a ship that can't jump. But you know that trick I mentioned in the meeting?"

"You weren't very specific about that, dad," Lee said evenly.

"No, but it's coming into focus. I think we need to talk to Gaius and Caprica."

Lieutenant Caprica Baltar was on the Bridge of Galactica in CIC. She and Tigh had been going over the orders that UED had sent with regards to getting the new ship ready post-haste and the assignment of Hoshi and Athena as their commanders with no small surprise. They had not received any other orders, but they both knew something big was up. They weren't surprised a few minutes later when the intercom came to life.

"Galactica, Galactica Actual". It was the Old Man.

Tigh grabbed the microphone. "Galactica Actual, XO. We received the orders about the new ship a little while ago. Can you tell us what's going on?"

"Lee and I are both coming aboard in about one hour. I need you, Caprica and Gaius to meet me in my quarters upon arrival."

"Understood, Actual. See you in about sixty, sir,Galactica out."

Gaius was in the laboratory, going over the latest information on the fight against ALS, that dreaded disease that afflicted a small number of Earth's people. It was a disease he wouldn't wish upon his worst of enemies, and he had had a few of those in his lifetime. Fighting diseases like Cancer, ALS and Alzheimer's had consumed much of his time since his arrival. It was, he felt, his penance for the damage he had caused in the past.

They had made remarkable progress against those diseases. To be sure, the fact that the Colonials were more advanced than their Earth counterparts was one reason, but Gaius had gone on a hunch, and with the permission from Helo and Athena, drawn some blood from Hera to study it. Hera was the only known offspring between Cylon and Human, and his hunch was that maybe, she had some immunity in her blood and DNA that might help fight sickness and disease.

His bet had paid off. Her blood had a natural defense against diseases like Cancer. Her DNA was also advancing the fight against diseases like ALS and Alzheimer's as well, diseases that were not present in the Colonies. Caprica, Roslin, and Athena had said Hera was a special gift from God. It was turning out that they were right.

The intercom came to life as he was reading his notes. "Yes, this is Dr. Baltar?"

"Gaius, it's Caprica". It was always pleasant to hear his wife's voice. Shortly after their arrival on Earth, Gaius and Caprica had agreed to marry. The battle with The Colony had permanently bonded their devotion to each other. Caprica had long since forsworn her Cylon heritage after the Brothers Cavil had tried to destroy her rebel Baseship and everyone on it. From that moment on she had made the decision to throw in her lot with humanity. It was a decision she hadn't regretted.

"Hi, Caprica, what can I do for you, my dear?" Gaius would always be a hopeless romantic.
"The Admiral wants to meet with us. He and Lee will be aboard in 15 minutes, and he wants us and Tigh to be there."

"Did he say what is going on?"

"He didn't, but I'm sure it has a lot to do with the orders that have come down from UED in the last few hours." There was a deadly urgency in her voice, Gaius thought.

"What orders? I'm sorry, I've been so wrapped up in my work that I haven't heard anything. Fill me in?"

"Orders are to have the new Battlestar ready in thirty days. Hoshi is commanding her, and Athena has been reassigned as her XO. Other than that, we have no clue. I suppose Adama-both Adama's will fill us in on arrival."

"OK, fifteen minutes, Caprica. I'll be there. See you shortly."

They all met in Bill Adama's quarters. He asked his guests to all take seats, and he opened up a bottle of Merlot for all of them. They would need a drink, but not a stiff one. He wanted them to have about half a glass each. They needed to be relaxed, not wound up.

Galactica'sBoss gave them the rundown of everything that had happened at Headquarters and an appraisal of the situation that they would be facing. Both Tigh and Caprica had known that when it was announced that there were four Baseships that the odds against them were long. Even so, there was no panic in the room, as Adama laid it out.

"So that's it, everyone. That's what the general outline of battle is. We're going to do our level best to destroy those ships before Victory is in the fight. But we'll have to do so keeping in mind that one, protecting Earth is our top priority, and two, that we have ships that can't get out of harm's way."

"Sir, whatever our battle plan, our options are damned thin", his XO said, lips pursed tightly. "Is there any way that the new Galacti...that Victory can be ready any sooner?" Tigh felt slightly flustered he had almost said "Galactica". Adama felt his discomfort. "We can't slug it out for a month with those sons of bitches."

"Thirty days seems to be about as good as it can get, Saul. That's cutting a month off the original delivery date. More than a month in fact. And we all know if it can be done faster, Galen will do it."

"Admiral", Gaius spoke up, "With all respect, sir, why am I here? This seems to be a military matter, and while I do understand military matters to some degree, I'm hardly a person to go asking advice about a battle plan."

"You're not here for putting together the Op Plan, Doc. I asked you here to see if there's anything that you can come up with, from a perspective of trying to confuse the Cylons. Caprica would have been at this meeting regardless, but maybe her knowledge of the Baseships, and how they might react, along with any magic you might be able to devise, can give us some room to maneuver, so to speak."

"One small advantage we may have is the upgraded composite armor that we were able to throw on the Old Girl." Tigh offered. "It isn't put on as neat or as pretty, or as complete as on Pegasus, but that will help us to some degree. We've run tests, and it should be able to help us take at least a little more of a pounding. But I agree, they'll figure out that one quickly and adjust. We need to beat them with our brains."

Lee interjected himself into the discussion. "Caprica, are there any other weaknesses that a Baseship might be vulnerable to, or their Raiders? There's nowhere for Galactica to go, and even if there was with Earth in jeopardy we can't wander away. At least Pegasus can jump around a bit to confuse the Cylons, but we need any advantage we can get."

"We might be able to come up with some electronic warfare to keep them off balance, but even there, I think our options may be limited", Caprica offered, "We can't just make Galactica, Pegasus or the planet disappear. I can get my people on it and see what we can come up with."

Gaius' eyes clicked together when his wife had said disappear. He didn't know why but he drifted away mentally from the discussion to focus on that word and why it had hit him. The conversation continued on for another 5 minutes or so when he was brought back to the real world.

"Doc...Doc, you with us?" Lee snapped him out of it. "Did you hear any of what we were saying just now?" Lee put it down for the moment to Gaius' penchant, even now, for being self-centered.

The Doctor looked around, a bit embarrassed. "Oh, I'm very sorry, but Caprica said something that got me thinking and I got lost in thought about it."

"What have you got up your devious sleeve, Doctor Baltar?", Tigh said with a wry look on his face. "I hope it's something good."

"Well, I'm not quite sure, but when Caprica mentioned the fact that we just can't make the two ships and Earth disappear it got me thinking."

"Continue, Doctor", the elder Adama nodded.

He turned towards his wife. "Caprica, would the Raiders be vulnerable to some type of program to confuse them in what they're seeing?"

Caprica wasn't quite sure where this was going, but it got her curiosity up. "I'm not quite sure what you mean Gaius. The Raiders are programmed to see their targets, just as our pilots are."

"Yes, I know", he went on, the idea starting to come together. "But is there any way to perhaps download a program to make them see things that might not really be there?"

The room went quiet for a moment. Lee was the first one to speak up. "Doc, are you talking about maybe making them see ghosts or double? Something like that?

Now it was Tigh. "Wait a second. You mean to confuse them, as in maybe them seeing more than the ship right in front of them? Perhaps an echo of Galactica or Pegasus?"

"Yes", Gaius said, almost to himself. "Yes, that's exactly it. Can we confuse their visual sensors so that they see two, or three, or even four Battlestars, maybe more, so they're not sure what they're shooting at or which is the real ships?" He looked around the room for support.

Caprica took up the idea. "They're machines; they're programmed, just like any other machine. It might be possible to do that by accessing the Hybrid's data flow and introduce a virus that way."

"I think you may be on to something, Doc.", Bill Adama said. "Like the Lieutenant said, machines can be programmed. Perhaps you and Caprica can devise such a virus. It's still a long shot, but we have to try it. If we can get a program that would work, the next issue would be how to deliver it?"

Lee looked around and smiled. "We still have the Raider Bulldog flew...don't we?"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

VI

The Ones were a cautious lot by nature. Well, when they were a "lot" they had been. Now, this Cavil-perhaps the last one in existence-contemplated on whether it was time to move in on this planet his four Baseships had discovered so many weeks ago. He was the titular leader of the Humanoid Cylons. They handful of Sharon's, Simon's and Aaron's that remained had always deferred to the Ones. And since there were so few of them left and since they were now very mortal, they had followed the cautious lead of Cavil.

But Cavil was also driven by hatred and a desire for revenge. Not only on the humans but on Leoben, Athena, Deanna and Caprica who had sided with their blood enemies. And on top of that the Final Five of Saul, Tory, Sam, Ellen and Galen had also remained loyal to the hated Humans. It rankled his ass, as he often said, to no end. It just made him rage even more. He had no idea that Deanna had stayed behind on Earth to die among the remains of their ancestors; or that the Cylon Tory had been killed by Galen Tyrol. But the others were indeed ahead of him and he wanted revenge.

But he had four Baseships. He had a single planet in his sights. And one Battlestar that he knew had been grievously wounded in the tremendous battle with The Colony. The Colony had been destroyed, but he was sure Galactica was on her deathbed. And he wanted to put her out of her misery.

The fact that they had learned that this planet was, miraculously full of at least a few billion more human beings which, even he, like Adama, had trouble comprehending, was a bonus. The Cylons had all but obliterated The Colonies. If they could obliterate this planet, there couldn't possibly be another cluster of human beings out there. This would really end that pathetic race.

The only wrinkle in the situation was that apparently, these Humans had built another Battlestar. They had scouted it and knew it was bigger than anything the Colonies had ever put up, but they didn't have the first clue about its weapons, it's armor, or how many Raptors and Vipers were on board. There was no way for them to know. But he had come to believe what his human enemies already knew, and that was that Galactica probably couldn't jump anywhere. It had been too badly bruised five years ago in that last battle. And Cavil correctly concluded that in space, without any shipyard, the old girl wouldn't have been able to repair her jump capability.

And the clincher was that even if these two Battlestars wanted to go anywhere to escape him they couldn't. They had to not only defend themselves but the planet they orbited. It was a tactical nightmare for Adama and Cavil knew it. But he also respected Adama's ability as a commander, even has he hated him, and he knew Adama would not make this as easy as he'd like.

"So what do my esteemed colleagues think about the tactical situation? We've been here for a good many weeks and I'd like to get on with my life beyond this."

"I think we should still proceed cautiously", the first Simon offered. "As you've said, we don't really know what the makeup of this new ship is. That's cause for concern." Simon's were always quite concerned, and quite cautious, everyone knew.

"That's true", Said Sharon, "But we also know we can't really do anything about that. Yes it's a new ship, and yes, it's probably an upgrade over Galactica, but Adama is in such a bad tactical situation that her capabilities are negated by the fact they have to protect the planet."

"If they were in open space, I'd be more concerned.", Cavil offered. "A Battlestar is more maneuverable than we are, but as Sharon said, that advantage is canceled out by the fact they can't leave. So, in essence, we do have two static ships to go after."

"So what is our battle plan?" Doral stated the issue at hand. "How do we take advantage of this tactical advantage?"

"We have enough firepower to attack all fronts, do we not?" Cavil said plaintively. "Do we have to have an either/or?"

"Perhaps we should make the two Battlestars commit by sending a screening force against them, then concentrate most of our initial assault on the planet? That way the ships would be more easily forced into an even worse situation."

Simon had a good point there, but Cavil had a good counterpoint. "We don't have a lot of nuclear weapons left. I believe at most we have about two-hudred and fifty. We had thousands on the assault on the Colonies. Those halcyon days are over for good. We don't have any reinforcements coming. I propose most of those be used on the planets. It's pretty easy to tell where the major population centers are down there. And there's a lot to choose from."

"So", Sharon tried to summarize. "We leave maybe a handful for the Battlestars, and the rest to bombard the planet, along with raid after raid of conventional weapons on the planet as well."

"Correct", Cavil said, as a teacher to a student. "And I believe we can simultaneously destroy the Battlestars first, and then the planet is at our mercy. There's no doubt we'll run into Vipers and Raptors from the planet, as well as whatever the natives can throw at us. But once the ships are gone, it's only a matter of time. We have to make the Battlestars commit to our initial assault on the planet."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Admiral, I think they'll start off by going full-out on the planet, and try to make us commit", offered Helo. "Even if we can't maneuver they have to take us out before they destroy the planet. That only makes tactical sense."

"I think you're right, Commander". Lee Adama acknowledged, and the Cylons, when it comes to battle normally play it 'by the book' as it were, "I think that's what we have to prepare for. But I don't think we can take that bait. We're going to have to let the fighters on the planet do the work to defend", he thought out loud, "and that is going to mean that Earth is going to get hit with nukes. But if we play their game, we won't last long. We have to keep Galactica in the fight but also keep her shielded as much as possible."

"Speaking of nukes, when does our new stockpile arrive? We're going to need them when they come after us. We won't have much of a chance to maneuver them to where we want so we'll probably need to hit them from longer range."

"UED tells me we'll have them in two days if the Toasters give us two days. We won't be getting a whole lot. No one expected the Cylons to appear like this." Lee was praying to the gods that the Cylons would give them that time. Every extra piece of ammo they had would be welcomed. It didn't balance the odds but it couldn't hurt. "I wish I could snap my fingers and have Victory ready. Gods, would that change the odds for us."

"Concur, sir, but as they say below, 'if wishes were horses'. We can't always get what we want. I know the Chief is in Spain pushing the shipyard balls-to-the-wall, but he can only go so fast."

"Yeah, I know, Karl", he said sullenly and then he paused. "Are we always going to call Galen 'Chief?' I mean he's now a Rear Admiral. Yes, I rank him, but he's as important if not more so in many ways than my dad and I and all of us here. He put this bird together, and did much of the design."

"Yeah, I know", Helo said evenly, "But it's hard to think of him as anything else. When we left the Colonies, sir, what were the odds that we'd have an XO and Tactical officer on Galactica that were Cylon, the XO on the new ship that was a Cylon, and the person overseeing the construction of the ships a Cylon? And that no one even thinks twice about it anymore? Gods, what a crazy, fracked-up Universe, sir."

"It is, isn't it?" Lee thought aloud. "It took a long time for me to really realize that the skin jobs were in many ways as much shaped by their environment as we are. Athena, Tigh, Caprica, Chief, Sam, all made conscious choices to stay or side with Galactica. They were as loyal as anyone, myself included."

"That's a big thing to say, Admiral." Helo pondered, "But you're right. Even when he found out, from what Galen and Tory told me, he told them flat-out his loyalties were with the Admiral and."

"And you were right about Athena, all along." He said somewhat sheepishly. "I couldn't imagine her NOT being an officer now, and she deserves the shot at XO. I think Hoshi made a good choice."

"Well", Helo grinned, "I'm a bit biased, but I agree with you. Shocker, eh?"

"Shocked outta my mind, Karl", Lee laughed.

The both paused from the momentary amusement and came back to the reality that faced them.
"As things stand now, we're in a poor position," Lee said starkly. "I hope to hell that Caprica and Gaius can pull off something to buy us time or a way to take out those ships before Victory enters the fray."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

ONE WEEK LATER

With Athena being transferred to the Victory, Hotdog had been reassigned from CAG of the Falcons to third-in-command of Galactica which would put him at Tactical if war came. And with that, he was in charge of the "night" watch in CIC. Unless something unexpected happened, this was his ship for ten hours, six days a week. He had always known he would move up to command someday. He was a natural pilot and a natural leader in the cockpit. And having taken over the parenting of Nicki from Tyrol when it was discovered that the child was Hotdog's had also matured him. He wanted to command a Battlestar one day. There were only two now, but if more were built he felt he would get his shot.

His XO on the night shift was Grace Myler. She had come up through the security ranks, and she knew the ship as well as anyone. It was rare for someone who wasn't a jock to make it this high, but the Aussie was solid and she also knew what she didn't know. She knew when to ask questions.

The ship remained set on Condition Two, as it had for the last six weeks ever since a now-dead Raptor had discovered a fleet of four Cylon Baseships. The ships were still loitering quite a distance from Earth and Galactica, but that could change at any moment.

He had the normal CAP out around Galactica. A twenty-four hour, around-the-globe patrol was also ringing the planet, made up of the ground-based Vipers, Falcons, Raptors and the military aircraft from the forces from Earth. He also had the Raptor picket which was his Early Warning net as well. He felt that if the Cylons did decide to jump in they would have a better than even chance to defeat the enemy.

Pegasus was out there as well doing pretty much the same thing: preparing, staying sharp and ready for the hammer to drop at any time. Brendan Costanza hoped they would hold off at least another day. He would finally have a blessed day off tomorrow. You were never really "off" under these circumstances, but being on call usually meant some shut-eye.

The speaker overhead cracked to life. "Galactica, Raptor 551."

"Raptor 551, Galactica go ahead."

"Commander, the Cylons have broken formation and have turned in towards Earth. The four ships seem to be dispersing on different vectors. Good guess they're getting ready to move in on us and looking at their movement they plan to hit us from different directions."

"Raptor 551, understood. Lieutenant Myler set Condition 1 immediately throughout the ship. Wake Commander Tigh and Admiral Adama. Get me UED Command immediately."

Well, so much for that shut-eye.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

The call went down to San Diego, home of UED Command. Three minutes later, Pegasus had been notified. A minute after that, the call had been made to the Secretary-General of The United Nations. From there, within a matter of minutes, every Head of State on the planet would be notified: the Cylons were coming.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

VII

President Bond's alarm went off precisely at 0530. He was an early riser and tried to be at his desk in the Oval Office no later than 7 am, so he could go over the morning papers before his Chief Of Staff gave him the daily schedule. It never hurt to check The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and even The International Tribune, which was run by both the Times and the Post. It was a way for him to ease into the day and get his mind going.

It was 0637 when Adellyn Harris, his National Security Adviser burst through the door from her office. The President knew that wasn't a good sign. Adellyn usually wasn't even in her office til 8 am on most days.

"Mr. President", she began without preamble, "They're coming."

"Slow down, Adellyn", the President urged. He could see that she was flustered, which rarely happened. "I'm right here. WHO is coming"?

"The Cylons".

He dropped his newspaper on the desk.

It's about damned time they moved, the President said to himself, thinking like the war veteran he was. "Well, they couldn't stay inert forever could they?"

"UED said a Raptor advised Commander Costanza, who was The Boss On Duty on Galactica when the call came in. The Sit Room just informed me about five minutes ago." She was usually unflappable, but there was a war coming now, and that unsettled even the hardest of souls.

"News travels fast which this time is good." He paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. "OK, get the Cabinet in here. I want them in here no later than 0730. Advise the Officer on Duty I'll be down to the Sit Room in fifteen minutes for an update. I'm sure they've already called Brevard." He was referring to the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Admiral Robert Brevard. "Put in a call immediately to the Secretary-General".

Without a word, Adellyn departed to put her Boss's orders into action. Things were moving fast.

An hour later, he updated his Cabinet, with Admiral Brevard present. The Cylons were moving, but they didn't seem to be in a huge hurry. They hadn't jumped. The four Baseships were coming in at ninety-degree intervals around the planet, and at present speed, would be there in five days. He had signed the orders that put the United States Armed Forces at DEFCON One. DEFCON One meant war was at hand.

Every leader of every nation had pre-arranged plans to go to safety when it was determined the Cylons were coming. Fortunately, at least for the moment, it didn't seem as if they'd have to rush. It seemed as if the Cylons were deliberately taking their time, like a group of sharks circling their prey.

He decided he would speak to the nation at 8 pm that night. He knew the speech would be broadcast all over the planet and even to the two Battlestars above. He had become the voice that the people of the world trusted more than any others, and they looked to him for leadership. He hoped his words tonight would strengthen the resolve of those who would watch or hear his address.

He also initiated the Emergency Broadcasting System, which would begin broadcasting at 10 am Washington Time. The system was set up for people all over the country to get local and state information on how to take shelter, and even evacuation routes. Certain channels would convert exclusively to the EBS, while other stations, like CBS or ABC on regular television and CNN on cable would keep the population abreast of events as they happened, for as long as they could.

His family was already at Andrews and would head to Omaha within an hour. He would join them there in a few days if the Cylons gave them a few days. He still had business to attend to in Washington before he joined them. Like the Captain of a ship, his duty was to be the last one off.

At 8 pm that night he went on the air. He didn't want his speech to be long, but he wanted to instill some nerve and backbone not only into the Armed Forces around the world and to the two Battlestars above, but to the average person, who he knew was frightened to no end. He was as frightened as they were but he dare not show it.

"Good evening my fellow Americans and my fellow citizens of the world. We meet tonight on the verge of another critical juncture for our planet and our people, to take counsel on what lies ahead. We stand tonight on the precipice of a war; a war unlike anything our planet has ever witnessed. We have far too often gone to war against each other for different worldly desires. But the war that is at our doorstep is a war where all of us will be fighting on the same side together, as citizens of this planet.

"Since the arrival of the Colonists five years ago so much changed, and for the better on our planet. We no longer are at war with each other. Long-standing enemies have made their peace with each other, and we have come to realize that our shared humanity is far more important than any temporary squabble among ourselves To be sure it's a day we hoped would never come, but we can take pride in the preparations we've made to defend our planet.
"I wish I could tell you this war will be easily won and that the cost won't be high. But you all know that's not true and you know there will be a price to pay. There always is when one fights for freedom. And the freedom we will be fighting for isn't for power or land or wealth. It's for our very existence as a race; as a species. It's a fight that will ensure mankind moves forward and continues to thrive.

"We put our lives into the hands of many dedicated, brave individuals, both in the two Battlestars that will be above us, and with the brave men and women of the armed forces of all our nations around the globe, on land, on the sea, and in the air. We are in good hands, indeed.

"Our biggest advantage isn't our weaponry or our numbers: it's that we have something to fight for. We aren't machines fighting because we've been programmed to do so, like our enemy. We have minds and hearts and hopes and dreams for ourselves and our children.

"But it isn't enough just to have something to fight for. We have something to LIVE for: for each other; for our families, our friends, our countrymen; for whatever nation we reside in. And for humanity as a whole. We will fight for generations not yet realized; a future not yet born, a destiny not yet clear.

"To the men and women on Galactica and Pegasus and to the men and women in the armed forces from around the world: We send you into the greatest battle that Earth has ever seen knowing that you will give your full devotion to your duty and your fellow man. I am confident you will lead us to victory. Godspeed to you all and good hunting.

"And, finally, as a man of faith let me part with these words: 'May the Lord bless you and keep you; may His divine countenance shine down upon you, and, even as we approach this conflict, may He give you peace. We go forward together."

The next morning, he walked into the Oval Office, not knowing if he would ever come back to it. He suspected he never would. He knew that there was a better than even chance that this place and this city would cease to exist shortly. The Helicopter was warming up to take him to Joint Base Andrews, and from there a Raptor would take him to Omaha.

He took out a piece of paper from the Resolute Desk, the desk that Britain's Queen Victoria had given as a gift to one of his predecessors, Rutherford B. Hayes back in 1880. He took a pen out of his suit coat and wrote down a few things that had been on his mind since Adellyn had informed him the Cylons were on the way. Knowing the tactical situation and knowing the odds against victory as of this moment were long, he wanted those thoughts written down for a future day IF there were a future day to return to them.

When he finished, he folded the paper in half and put the pen and the folded paper in his coat pocket. He stood up, put his chair under the desk, as he always did and turned to leave. As he opened the door, looking back; looking around this famous, intimidating office that had seen so many historical moments, and was sure he was saying goodbye to a large part of the American soul.

Captain Thrace was waiting in the Helicopter that would take them both to Andrews, and then from there, she would pilot the Raptor to Omaha.

As the helicopter began to climb, the President looked down at the White House. In salute, the bird circled Washington D.C a few times. Capitol Hill, The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial. All of them powerful symbols of the freedoms that his nation had been blessed with and enjoyed. His face was filled with sadness.

"Hey, Boss", Kara offered, looking directly at the President, and squeezing his shoulder, "we're going to make it. This isn't the end, I promise."

Justin Bond looked over at his Attache and smiled warmly, but with the sadness still in his face. "So say we all, Captain."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

VIII

The Cylons were finally closing in on Earth and the two Battlestars defending her. Cavil had wanted to move but also remained cautious because, as Doral had said, there was no telling what new surprises this new ship might have in store for them.

But he was confident. He finally had Galactica and now this new ship tethered to a landmass where he could dictate the direction and the course of battle. He didn't take Admiral Adama lightly. He had a healthy respect for the man's military capabilities even as he hated and despised him. And he had no doubt that either that Cylon traitor Saul Tigh or Adama's own son Lee, was in charge of the new ship. The fact that any Cylon would swear allegiance to humanity did rankle his ass to no end. And it was simply another reason he wanted to destroy them all.

He and the lead Sharon, Simon and Doral were in the Central Command Center, there hands firmly in the data stream that connected them with the ship and the Hybrid. It was finally time to do battle.

"Galactica is on the far side of the planet from us. Baseship Three will be the closest to her, with us the furthest. Two and Four will be closest to the new Battlestar" Sharon concentrated on the information she was receiving.

"Launch all Raiders", Cavil ordered, "Send a screening attack against the two ships and concentrate as much as we can on the planet. Let's make them commit."

"Raiders are launching", confirmed Doral. "Baseship Two and Four arming their nukes for a surface strike. Targets have been identified."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Pegasus Actual, Galactica Actual." Lee came through on the speakers loud and clear. "As expected, sir, they're throwing up a screen against us and concentrating on the planet."
"Lee launch your fighters to counter the incoming. Earth will have to deal with the attack without us for this round. We have to make them dance to our tune."

"Acknowledged, Galactica Actual. Helo just launched our birds. When will you launch the special mission, Admiral?"

"Not until the Raiders attacking us begin their homeward run. When they RTB, I will launch."

"Aye, Admiral. Pegasus Actual, out."

There was more than one Six aboard Galactica. A few had survived the battle with The Colony and were still with the fleet. This one sat alone in the modified Raider that Lieutenant Danny Novacek, Call Sign "Bulldog" had used to get back to Galactica in the staged "escape". It had been modified so a human-looking occupant could more easily operate the machine. With help from Captain Thrace and Bulldog, and salvaging parts from a similar Raider Kara had piloted they had made this marginally comfortable.

Gaius and his team had modified the program in the ship. The single red eye was operational and he had devised a program whereas the brain of the ship was still operating and would be able to receive commands from a Baseship, but the program had been altered so it wouldn't actually attack any Fleet ships. The plan was that when the Raiders received their call home after the first encounter, that she would join the return to base, And, then, hopefully, the fun would begin.

This Six was chosen for the mission because, well...she was expendable. Caprica Six, now Lieutenant Caprica Baltar, was too valuable to risk on the upcoming mission. This six, named Rebecca would have one mission-get to the Hybrid on board the nearest Baseship.
She didn't hold any jealousy or envy for Caprica. Rebecca had volunteered for this mission, which, she knew would most likely be one-way.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"We've launched twenty nukes at the planet", Simon processed the information that they were being fed. "Per the Op Plan, we won't launch all our nukes."

'We need to see how this battle unfolds. I don't expect Galactica and her shiny new sister to roll over and play dead. But you'll see them commit to us." Cavil said, without his usual sardonic twist in phrase.

"So far", Doral added, "the Battlestars aren't taking the bait. They're still laying back while we hit the surface."

"Eventually they'll be forced to commit to the planet. That pathetic human vice called devotion will kick in sooner or later.", Cavil spit the words out as if they were poison.
"Our Raiders have identified a new variant of the Vipers that we've never seen before, and they've identified a number of ships from the planet of a design we've never encountered. Perhaps they're military jets from the occupants of the planet?" Sharon, being the only one whose line had actually piloted a Colonial vessel, was the expert on that subject.

"So", Cavil arched his eyebrows. "They do have some tricks up their sleeves. Will wonders never cease."

"I don't think it's cause for concern", rejoined Simon. "Our Raiders can handle both attacks from the ships and the surface. And I think they'll find some of our upgrades a little perplexing".

"Oh, you are so right, Simon", Cavil said with a twisted grin.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"XO, launch spread six nukes at nearest Baseship on my mark...mark!" Lee was hoping they wouldn't have to wait for Victory to enter the fray. Perhaps they could take down a Baseship or two, and make them jump away or commit themselves.

"Nukes away, impact in fourteen seconds!", Helo was following the trajectory of the missiles toward their target.

The missiles all exploded shortly afterward. But...

"Sir", Helo turned to his Admiral, a pale look of consternation on his face. "None of them impacted on the ship."

"What?" Lee couldn't believe it.

"Sir they exploded, but..." Just as he was going to continue, the Falcon CAG Reaper blasted through on the intercom.

"Reaper, Pegasus Actual!" He said in his heavily-accented English. "Missiles detonated but no damage to the Baseship. From the look of it, they impacted on some sort of deflection grid of some kind!"

"Gods, Lee", Helo said, foregoing the formalities of command for a moment, "they've got shields! We're fracked if we can't get through those!"

"You win the prize of the Cavil Action Figure, Karl. Get me Galactica Actual immediately!" The call was already being made.

"Galactica Actual, Pegasus Actual. Admiral, I assume you got the info already on what our nukes ran into?"

"I did Lee. We had to expect they had learned something new in the interval. For now, we just have to hang tough." Adama knew those were shallow words, but at the moment he didn't have much else. "I suspect they'll be firing a few nukes at us pretty quickly."

"Concur, they've already hit the planet with about twenty to twenty-five nukes. Reports are Washington, Chicago, Shanghai, Moscow and Mexico City among the casualties. I'm surprised they didn't launch more."

"Maybe they don't have more, Admiral. Or maybe they are conserving what they have. It could be they haven't been able to replenish since our last encounter." Cavil was correct: Bill Adama was as shrewd as they came. It was like he knew what the Cylon force was thinking.
"Aye, Admiral. Pegasus Actual out."

Adama couldn't let on to his son, nor his own crew, that he was as scared about this new wrinkle that the Baseships had devised. But he had to press forward.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"How do you like that, Adama?" Cavil chortled. "We killed two birds with one stone. We made them waste ten precious nukes, and we no doubt sent a blow to their morale. Let's fire a volley at this new ship, shall we brothers and sisters? A spread of five on her Port broadside."

"Nukes away. twenty seconds to impact."

"Our intel says that the new ship is called 'Pegasus', and that, as you suspected, Lee Adama is commanding her." Doral smiled at the childishness of the human renaming this new ship after the one that destroyed itself at New Caprica.

"All the better that we take another bite out of their ego". Cavil was indeed enjoying himself.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Inbound nukes, spread of five, course 186 mark 227, heading to port fore and aft! All fighters, engage missiles!" The nearest Falcons and Raptors were now honing on those five missiles.

A few seconds later, Pegasus received her baptism of fire, as two nukes exploded near the middle of the ship, above the flight pods. There would be damage, Lee knew, but he hoped the new armor would beat back the assault. His prayers were answered.

"Nukes did not penetrate the armor! Reports of damage amidship, but no vital systems damaged." Reaper came on speaker right on Helo's tail.

"Three nukes destroyed before impact! Pegasus, any damage?"

"Reaper, Pegasus Actual, some damage reported amidship, but no primary systems compromised. Both landing pods still available."

"Pegasus Actual, I copy. Will continue pressing the attack."

Lee took a quick breath, "Maybe that will make them back off and get out of here for a while."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Well, it seems we've both come up with some nice new tricks", Cavil said, disappointed but not overly surprised. "Sharon, recall the Raiders. Once they're aboard we'll jump and see what we've learned."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Galactica Actual, Bulldog One, Cylon Raiders starting to withdraw. Launch immediately, and Good Luck." Adama was really hoping the Baltar's had come through for them.

"Bulldog One, Galactica Actual, launching now, now, now!" Rebecca firewalled the stick. Her onboard Dradis told her exactly where the other Cylon Raiders would be. She quickly joined the formation. Adama's instincts about the Raiders proved to be correct.

"Bulldog One,Galactica Actual, confirm Raiders returning to base, am in formation."
Galactica would not respond this time. The quick transmission was scrambled, but to make sure the Cylons wouldn't pick up anything, Adama would not acknowledge it.

Adama took a breath, as the first round ended. "Let's hope this mission gets some results", he said, almost to himself.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

IX

The Cylons had also dropped ground troops in around the planet as well. They couldn't conquer the planet, but most were tasked to go after power grids, dams, and other infrastructure items at different locations around the world. They could and did do plenty of damage.

One place they had dropped in a large number of Centurions was near Omaha. The Cylons weren't dumb and had studied the audio and video coming from the planet and had, in short time, deduced that one of the main leaders if not the main leader on the planet was holed up in a military base in that vicinity. They wanted to take the soul out of any resistance if they could.

They had landed about 400.000 Centurions in the first two days, and they would work independently of the nuclear bombardment from the Baseships and of the attacks on cities that the Raiders were carrying out. They set up a perimeter that began near Columbus, Nebraska to the West. To the North, their ring went around about twenty miles South of Sioux City, New Caprica, then Southeast between Atlantic and Villisca, also part of New Caprica, then Southwest between Nebraska City, Nebraska, and St. Joseph, Missouri. The circle was completed back up to Columbus. It was pretty open territory, and the Cylons intentions were quite obvious, so they began to close the circle two days after landing.

Captain Kara Thrace's Charlie Squadron of the 20th UED Air Force flew missions against the marching Cylons as did other squads from Offutt, as well as from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, Minot AFB in North Dakota, Wright-Patterson in Dayton, Ohio, and Whiteman in Missouri. American Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force F-35's also were in action near Omaha as well.

The Cylons met the Allied forces on the fifth day and had made some progress, although not as much as they had hoped. The Allied land forces and the continuous strafing from above made the going quite slow for the Toasters. They had taken Nebraska City in the South. To the West, they had only advanced a handful of miles to David City and had actually been pushed back closer to Sioux City to the North. They had made the most gains East of Omaha, taking Avoca, New Caprica on the seventh day of the campaign.

Kara's squadron was tasked to stop the movement from the East, and while they were doing damage to the Cylons the Toasters kept coming. She was even flying missions when her squadrons of Falcons were not in the rotation. She was pushing herself almost beyond her physical and mental endurance.

If she didn't let up, she wouldn't be around the see the war end.

President Justin Bond could hear the sounds of war above him. There would be a loud CRUMP of incoming from the Cylons, with their laser cannons and even some bomb-like ordinance being released on or near Offutt Air Force Base. He was in the underground Command Center, which wasn't just a command and control for Offutt, but it was his new Situation Room, to monitor the movement of the U.S. Military, the Battlestars, and the fighting around the globe.

Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York were gone. Not just damaged, but gone. The Cylons had hit each city and about tweinty or so others around the planet with thermonuclear devices in the vicinity of seventy-five megatons, an astounding explosive power. The largest device ever detonated by anyone on Earth had been in 1961 when the now-dead Soviet Union had tested the fifty-seven megaton Tsar Bomba. That explosion had been some fifteen hundred times larger than the weapon used at Hiroshima. The largest his nation had tested was the Castle Bravo thermonuclear detonation in 1954, and that had "only" been fifteen megatons. These weapons were 3300 times more powerful than Hiroshima.

The ones dropped today around the planet from those Baseships in space...the effect would be incalculable by all accounts. He couldn't even wrap his head around it. The one dropped on New York would affect an area halfway across Long Island to the East, Northward almost up to Newburgh, New York; Westward it would reach near Hackettstown, New Jersey, and South just beyond Ashbury Park. Fully twelve million people were within that zone.

But they weren't beaten either. That much was clear. Both sides had unveiled a few new tricks and now both were regrouping to see what they'd learned and what their next moves would be. The shield against nuclear attacks that the Cylons had devised came as a nasty surprise and, for now, had precluded a quick victory for UED. They would keep trying, but in the back of his mind, he was hoping the Battlestar Victory would be completed post-haste.

He wasn't surprised that a few hours after the Cylons had jumped away to regroup, Bill Adama had called him with a personal update.

"Yes, Mr. President, the shielding was a nasty surprise, no doubt about it. Although they've had a few years to upgrade their defense. I don't think they were able to add any additional nukes, or at least not many, in that time but I wasn't shocked they had done some improvements."

"Well, so have you, with the better Armor on Pegasus, and improved armor on Galactica. I'm sure that's one reason they've gone off some distance."

"Correct. I'd have done the same thing if I could have, which is to jump, regroup then find them and hit them again. But we can't jump and they know that. They'll be back." Bill was all too certain of that. So was the President.

'How long, Admiral?" The more time the merrier, Justin Bond thought to himself.

"At least a few days. Like us, they need to analyze their attacks, and ours and come up with some revisions. Even for machines, that isn't instantaneous. We have a little breathing space. Not much, but a little."

"I'm sure you've received the reports about the damage down here?"

"I have, Justin. Those bastards did some real damage today. We lost a whole lot of people."

"The numbers can wait on that, Bill. The Cylons have also set up a ring around Omaha, and are trying to strangle us. I think the Cylons know someone of importance is here. They're making it a little hot for us right now."

"How are the forces arrayed against them doing?" Adama had read the reports but wanted a human voice to back it up.

"They're doing all that can be expected of them. We have them pretty much stalemated except in the East, where they continue to move towards us. We've moved a good chunk of our Air Force to counter that advance." He paused to take a sip of water. "Any word on Bulldog?"

"No, and I don't expect we'll get any word. If the mission works, we'll know it when they come back to tangle with us. The Six knew this was a one-way mission." Bill lost a bit of enthusiasm. He never wanted to deliberately send someone to their death, but when you were in a fight for your very existence, extreme measures needed to be taken.

"Hmm, let's hope it works. Two days since the first round of attacks ended, and it seems like an eternity. Victory can't get done fast enough."

"We have to take what we've been handed, Mr. President. We can't wish and make it true."

"I know, Admiral, don't remind me. I know you'll go above and beyond for us, and please thank your people for me."

"I will Mr. President. They don't need any more motivation, believe me, but word from you will pep them up. Hopefully, we'll get to talk again soon."

"OK, Admiral, good hunting and Godspeed"

"Thank you, sir, Adama out."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Cavil wanted to press the attack again, but also knew time was on his side. The two Battlestars and that planet weren't going anywhere. It wouldn't matter if he and his brothers and sisters pondered on what the first round had taught them for a few days or so. They needed to get it right.

The first lesson learned is that the humans were as cunning and stubborn as ever. Cavil had wished they had turned into wimps, but in this pitiful little heart Ellen had given him he knew better. He would never underestimate them. They were tough, resourceful and cunning fighters. Too many Baseships had learned you can't underestimate a Colonial Battlestar. Especially one commanded by an Adama.

He had been more than a little surprised that the two Battlestars had hung back while the planet was hit with nukes and bombarded by a bevy of Raiders. He had expected human sentiment to force Bill and Lee Adama to run in like Cavalry of old. He hid his consternation from his brothers and sisters simply telling them that this was all part of the plan. But it had shaken him somewhat.

The second lesson was that they would have to concentrate more on Galactica and only harass Pegasus, at least for the time being. Neither ship could jump because of the layout of the field of battle, but he was convinced thatGalactica could be taken out, and quickly if they hit her harder. This first encounter had been like two boxers feeling out each other in the first round. Round Two would be more robust for both sides.

"How many Raiders had to fly into the hangar for repairs?" He had asked Sharon after the jump was complete. Most Raiders would go back into their alcoves after a battle, but those that needed some work done would go into the hangar. Most could repair themselves, but some would need help from Centurions.

"Seventeen, to be exact", she replied. "A few had an engine blown out, one had even lost about half the starboard wing, but managed to get back. Repairs shouldn't take too long. A day, maybe two."

"That's good, that's good", Cavil was thinking. "I think it will take a few days beyond that to hone our battle plan. I noticed that we only hit the ships on the sides and the top, no underneath attacks. I know standard battle tactics say to do what we did, but maybe we should test the soft underbelly to see if, well if it's soft."

"We can, but we have to assume, they're re-armored the undercarriage as well, Cavil", Simon replied, like the scientist or the doctor he often was. "But as you said, we have the initiative here, it can't hurt to check."

"No, it can't, and that will be in the orders we send out to the Raiders" Cavil nodded his assent. "I find something delicious about the humans going to a slow, agonizing death. It's somehow more satisfying, at least for me. How many times have I been resurrected after one of those heathens put a bullet in me, or severely injured any one of us, and made us suffer for hours or days? We've all experienced that. Maybe a little payback is justified in that regard."

"I don't care how fast, or how slow, or how sudden, or how painful their destruction is", Doral spoke up, in that uncompromising tone he was infamous for. "I just want them gone so we can at least try and see if we can rebuild our race."

"Right now", Cavil said with a deadly menace in his voice, "I don't care if we rebuild our race. I just want to live long enough to see the last human die in front of me. Maybe then, we'll try to see if any resurrection ships remain, and if, somehow we can rebuild. But I want REVENGE!" He said, almost shouting in vindictive anger.

"You'll get it, Cavil, calm down a little", said Sharon. She did get a little tired of his theatrics. He may hate humans, but he also acted just like many of them. I wonder if he's even thought of that irony? she thought. No, I don't think it's ever crossed his mind.

Cavil regained his composure, knowing that the others didn't appreciate his fire and theatrics. He became more civil. "I apologize to all of you", he said, not really meaning it for a second. "I do sometimes get carried away. Now is not the time to lose focus."
They then communicated with the Hybrid and continued their planning for the next round against the humans.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

X

Rebecca hadn't been on a Baseship in years, but she still knew it like the back of her hand. She had landed Bulldog's escape vessel in the hangar area where the more badly damaged fighters went when their alcove couldn't be used. Galactica's hanger deck people had put extra scoring on the hull and even had ripped off about half her starboard wing, to make it look like this Raider had taken a beating from the UED fighters. Her ship wasn't the only one in the hangar, so she looked like just another damaged Raider after a fierce battle.

It would be another day or so before the Raiders were repaired. Repairs to the ship came first, and the fighters second. Until the ship was deemed sound the fighters that were damaged could wait a few days. She had waited til they had jumped away from Earth and allowed her surroundings to die down before she made her escape. All the Raiders were "asleep", as it were, so if there were no Centurions or Humanoid Cylons around she could make her way to the spot Caprica had designated for her to hide in.

There were very few "skin jobs" left if any. Caprica had bet that there were at least a few and that they would spend most of their times in Central Command or in their quarters. Each Cylon model had their own quartered areas, so the areas where the Sixes would have normally lived were probably empty. She could hide there without detection until the time came.

That time would be when this Baseship jumped back to earth, to begin another attack against Galactica, Pegasus, and Earth. Then Operation Bulldog would be implemented.

Dr. Baltar had implanted a small computer chip in her left wrist, just below the hand. On one end was a connection port. When she was ready she would open a small incision so she could get to the port, then connect an insulated piece of wiring into her wrist. From there, she would insert the other end of the wiring directly into the data flow where the Hybrid lay. If all went well, shortly after that, the Hybrid would unbeknownst to anyone, send out instructions that would play havoc with the the vision of the Baseships, the Raiders, and missiles.

She carried no second thoughts about this mission. She did appreciate the irony of the whole thing. A Cylon trying to destroy the last of the Cylon race. Cylons were created with a ready-made hatred for Human Beings. But for all the hatred that had been instilled in her towards humans, she had learned that humanity had far more redeeming qualities than her own people, perfect as they thought they were. They loved in a way Cylons never could; felt in a way that Cylons never could; cherished life in a way Cylons couldn't.

She had been looked on suspiciously when she first had come aboard Galactica as part of the work team trying to repair her with the organic Cylon resin. But as time went by she began to make friends with many of the humans on Galactica. Some meant a lot to her. She had even enjoyed a long romantic relationship with a human. The last war, Rebecca finally realized, had been a mistake.

In trying to destroy humanity she had come to realize, the Cylons were also destroying themselves. Like others, she had found the journey to the other Earth when it seemed that the gods, or God, or Fate, or Laura Roslin had made it clear that Cylon and Human were inextricably linked and that their destinies were one in the same, the defining moment of clarity in her life.

She had welcomed mortality. After being resurrected seven times she saw nothing that was intrinsically valuable about a life that never ended. It was one of her sister Sixes who had said before the Quorum, “To live meaningful lives, we must die and not return. The one human flaw that you spend your lifetimes distressing over… Mortality is the one thing… Well, it's the one thing that makes you whole."

And Rebecca had embraced that with all her being.

And she couldn't go back. She would never see Caprica, or Adama or any of her human friends again. She truly loved those people she was leaving behind and knew her mission would give them a chance to win the war. She knew that going in and had volunteered anyway. She didn't see what she was doing as a betrayal of her race but as an affirmation of her belief that her life had some meaning beyond herself.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

THREE DAYS LATER

Well, Admiral Lee Adama thought to himself, It had been a nice few days off from the war.
.
The Cylons had jumped away after the two-day battle that had begun this latest slugging match between these intractable foes. Neither side had gained a clear advantage in the stars, as both had made upgrades since their last encounter.

But, as expected, the hiatus was over, and the Toasters were back.

"XO, Set Condition One throughout the ship, order first two squadrons to launch course 104 mark 018 to nearest Baseship"

"Aye, Admiral 104 mark 018 to the bogey", Helo gave the order, and six seconds later the first Vipers and Falcons were away.

"Bird away, Admiral, fighters inbound to target. Closest Baseship entering weapons range."
"Weps, Starboard weapons free at this time, I say weapons free".

"Aye Admiral!" The young Lieutenant responded, and the Starboard cannons and guns opened their barrage towards the approaching Baseship. "Weapons Free!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Aboard Galactica, Bill Adama had gone through the same routine as Lee, ordering his fighters toward the closest Baseship. Lee was tangling with one, and the other two were on the far side of Earth. Unfortunately, Earth had to depend on her own defenses. They would take a pounding and everyone knew that, but with only two ships they couldn't be everywhere.

"XO, vector Gold Squadron 165 mark 281, Cylon Raiders breaking off to the right to flanks us."

Saul Tigh was on the horn before his Admiral had finished the sentence, "Gold vector 165 mark 281, flanking Cylon Raiders, get those sons of bitches."

Adama allowed a small smile at the enthusiasm his XO always showed. But the smile faded and a new thought entered his mind.

C'mon, Rebecca, time to roll the hard six. he silently prayed to gods that he wasn't sure even existed.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Rebecca had been hiding in the Six quarters that were closest to the Hybrid. It would take her two minutes to get there, and it did not pass by the command center. She felt the ship leap as if a person had bounced it on their knee, and she knew they had jumped.

Time to roll the hard six. She smiled briefly. It was something the Admiral had said in their last meeting before she left Galactica. She didn't know quite what it meant, but the meaning was clear enough.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Sharon, have a squadron break right and try to get to Galactica's port then have them peel off under her superstructure" Cavil's order went from Sharon's ears through her fingers, and out to those Raiders start the attack from beneath. They'd find out in a few moments if Galactica had played it smart.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

"Admiral", Tigh shouted "Cylon Raiders headed below decks, I think they're gonna test our belly" The XO smiled thinly.

"Weps, engage all bottom side weapons!", Adama commanded. It was another upgrade Galactica had made in the five years since The Colony battle. The keel had been reinforced, but not to the extent of the sides and top of the ship. So an array of cannons and guns had been mounted for just such an attack.

"Aye, Admiral, bottom side weps to automatic!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Godsdammit", swore Cavil. "they not only reinforced, they have an entire weapons array in place there!" THAT he had not expected. These frackin' humans...that frackin' Adama!
___________________________________________________________________________________________

As expected Rebecca saw no traffic between herself and the Hybrid. The hallways were empty. She had a blessedly clear path. She checked her gear. Small Scalpel? Check. Insulated wiring? Check. Gun if needed? Check. The pill? Check. "Here we go," she said to no one as she entered the Hybrid's chambers.

She took a knee beside the Hybrid, who was chanting away: "New line. The collapsed continuum yawns within the willed peasant; disengage the aft pneumatic pulse generator; The body of mind says goodbye to the shooter; if all men are brothers why are the wind and the waves so angry..."

Rebecca tried to tune out the droning monologue. She took the scalpel from her pack, and made a small incision in her left wrist, just above the implant. It hurt a little but not enough to mean anything, not now. She put gauze and wrapping around the cut to stop the bleeding. She didn't want to leave blood on the floor or in the data flow. Doc Cottle had instructed her well on that art.

She inserted the wiring into the port at the end of the implant. She heard it make a small "click" and knew she had a solid coupling. She had kept the blood away from the flow. So far, so good.

Next, she removed the protective plastic away from the other end of the wire. She inserted that into the liquid surrounding the hybrid. With the wiring attached a small flat button on top of the implant would allow the computer program to enter the data flow and then the Hybrid...
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Have Baseship Two along with us launch a spread of six nukes at both ships."

"Nukes firing in ten seconds," Sharon confirmed.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Rebecca pushed the button, hoping the virus was entering the data flow. It would take a few moments for it to be absorbed by the Hybrid. Those moments would seem like forever...

…...It was so subtle that almost no one would have noticed it, but for a brief instant, Rebecca saw the Hybrid's eyes glaze, and blink, almost in curiosity, and then came back into focus. And then she spoke.

"New command, adjust visual parameters all systems, all ships, all Raiders, new line..."

With those words, Rebecca got up and left the room. She had probably lingered too long, but she wanted to make sure. As she hurried away, she thought triumphantly, but with also a sense of finality,

There but for the Grace of God, go I.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

The Four Cylon humanoids in the lead Baseship were momentarily unsure what was happening. They had sensed something momentarily different in the data flow. Then all hell broke loose.

"What's going on?" wondered Simon. "What are the Raiders doing?"

Quiet alarm entered Doral's voice "Where the FRACK are those missiles going?", he said at almost the same moment has Simon had spoken.

For once, Cavil was at a loss for words, and he looked around at the others. No one had a clue. But the Raiders and missiles were going in every direction except the one they had been programmed for.

"Get those frackin' Raiders back here! Something is terribly wrong!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Admiral!" Helo called out to his commander, "Raiders have just turned away from Pegasus and are heading in several directions! Inbound nukes also turning away!"

Thank you, Gaius Baltar! Words he never thought that would register in his mind. "Godsdamn, but I think it's worked Helo!"

"Admiral!", bellowed Saul Tigh. "The Raiders and the nukes have veered away! Both are going gods only knows where!"

Thank you, Doctor Baltar! Like son, like father. And then he added, Thank you, Rebecca...
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Rebecca headed down toward the very bottom of the Baseship. She was going to the waste disposal units. Like any ship, the Baseship needed to get rid of its junk. From anything like the damaged wing from Bulldog's Raider to the waste that the Humanoid Cylons had to excrete, all of it ended up in six large vats that would open on command, dumping the ship's flotsam into the vacuum of space before they jumped away.

This was her final destination. There were manholes that led into the waste receptacles. They could be opened and closed from either side, just in case skin jobs like herself needed access to them, for whatever reason.

The valve turned easily, and she was in. She quickly closed it behind her and slid down the chute. It wasn't a long drop, but, like waiting on the Hybrid to absorb the program it seemed to take forever. She landed on something quite hard but it didn't damage her in any way. It was dark, it was rank, and it stank to no end.

Her mission was over.

She had converted a few years after arriving on Earth to one of the religions that believed in The One True God which, for all she knew, could be the Cylon God as well. It had been a logical step, where she left the Cylon part behind and embraced that which seemed to make her existence complete.

She said a quick, silent prayer. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a bottle. She unscrewed the top and took the lone pill out. She looked at it, then skyward, as a small tear formed at the corner of her one eye.

"Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit."

She put the pill in her mouth, closed her eyes and bit down. Blackness enveloped her.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Cavil, all Raiders aboard!" Sharon said, her voice uneven.

"Good, let's get the hell out of here!"

"JUMP!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

XI

The program that Gaius had come up with was a work of art. At its core, it had been a basic computer program to simply give instructions. But their study of Bulldog's Raider had paid off. He was able to come up with a program that would scramble the Raider's visual acuity so that when it "looked" with it's red electronic eye it would see echoes, not real ships. And since everything was tied into the Hybrid all the weapons system would have the same problem. They were seeing two or three of the same ship and they couldn't figure out what was real. And since the virus spread from the Hybrid on that Baseship to the weapons and Raiders from her ship, then from those Raiders to the other Raiders, and then back to the other Baseships...

In essence, the Cylon Raiders and weapons were shooting at...nothing.

The program also masked where Pegasus and Galactica really were. The Humanoid Cylons couldn't open a window to see where they were so they were blinded as well. Every system on the Cylon Baseships was crippled by the program in a matter of seconds. They were all networked into the same system, so they all shared in the misery.

Now, they had to regroup, again.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"What the FRACK happened out there!", Cavil said, as angry as anyone had ever seen him, which was saying something. "One minute, they're honing in on the Battlestars, the next, they're flying off in different directions, running into each other; shooting at empty space! What the FRACK!"

The others were just as shaken as Cavil. They thought they had a chance to take out at least one Battlestar in this engagement even as they kept pounding the planet below. Instead, they had a bunch of confused Raiders, confused missiles, confused Hybrids and a confused Dradis system.

"Gods if I have the first clue", said Sharon heatedly. "I've never seen anything like it!"

"Maybe I missed something, but I didn't notice any problems right up until...they went haywire." None of them had ever seen a Simon so upset before. They were usually the most level-headed ones, almost to a fault, but he was even aghast at what was going on.

"Nothing", Cavil said, exasperated. "No indication of anything."

"Something happened", Sharon argued. "I sensed something for a moment and then everything went haywire. And it wasn't any simple malfunction. It's like the computers grew a mind of their own."

Doral hadn't said a word, he was in a fit of rage. But when Sharon said that last sentence, the light when on over his head.

"Hold on. A mind of their own?" He thought it through. "Oh, no, that's not what happened. I'll wager that somehow, someway the humans implanted some kind of virus in our systems. It's the only thing that makes sense!"

"There hasn't been a human on this ship in years!", Cavil snapped. "We had no intruder alerts; we had no malfunctions suddenly appear."

Sharon broke back in, a thought suddenly registering in her mind "Wait a minute", she said with an ashen look spreading over her face.

"What is it, Sharon?", Cavil said, still in a fit of rage himself.

"About seven years or so ago, maybe a little longer, one of the Baseships allowed a Colonial officer to escape after several years in captivity. We let him go, and we made sure he found Galactica. We wanted him to take Adama out. Obviously, it failed and we don't know what become of that officer."

Still a bit flummoxed, Simon was not getting it. "What do you mean we let him go? How did we let him go?"

"We let him escape in a Raider. There is a way for humanoids to fly it, although none of us have ever tried. He landed the damn ship on Galactica.
"
The room went deathly silent for a few moments.

"Oh, no", Cavil said, almost like a ghost. "Do we know the tracking number of that actual ship? "

Now it began to dawn on them. "You mean that ship could have been flown here, and someone got onboard?" Doral couldn't believe it.

Simon was crashing back down to reality. "But wouldn't we have caught a human running around here?"

"Whoever it was they weren't human", a new eruption building in Cavil. "it was a fracking CYLON!"

They all turned pale.

"One of those fracking Cylon traitors who shacked up with the Humans after New Caprica! They would know the layout of this ship; they would know how to reach key system!"

"But we've found no one!" Sharon objected.

"I'll bet you it was a suicide mission. Had to be. Remember a Six told them they believed life wasn't worth living unless their life ended. I would bet one volunteered for such a mission."

"But what could have caused the systems to go nuts?"

Cavil looked at Simon. "It had to be a virus. When's the last time anyone physically checked on the Hybrid?"

"Not since before the jump back to the planet", Simon continued.

"That's what we're looking for. We need to visit the Hybrid. And we can't go back until we've found whatever the hell it is they did to us. Everyone, get to work. Find out if that ship that the human left on is here!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Ten days had passed since the stunning Cylon retreat. Everyone expected them to be back, but it was obvious that Baltar's computer virus had wrecked havoc on their system.
Machines, running around trying to fix machines, Adama laughed out loud in his empty office. It just struck him as damned funny. For the life of him, he'd never see anything like it, and watching the Cylons run around, their Raiders running into each other, missiles going in different directions. Had it not been so deadly serious, it would have made a great gag reel.

He got Lee on the computerized phone system one morning.

"Lee, all repairs that can be done are complete on Galactica. Well, the repairs we can make. That little trick by Gaius may have saved this ship's ass, and I'm not kidding".

"I've never seen anything like it, Dad. I mean, it was almost comical!"

"I was thinking the same thing, son. But maybe we'll have more time to laugh about it after this is finished. I'm assuming they're going to return."

"Oh, I agree, but this has been a Godsend. Earth gets a break, at least from the bombardments; Galactica stays in the hunt, and we're about 12 days or so, from Victory being ready."

"The odds are evening up, Admiral", the elder one said to the younger one. "That virus must have really fracked up their system, and I mean REALLY fracked them up. I think I might have caught Gaius dancing in his office the other day", he said with a lightness that surprised him.

"Who was leading? He or Caprica"? Lee couldn't contain the laughter that followed.

"Oh, cheap shot, Lee, but that is funnier than hell!". He guffawed himself.

"I know. Gaius really came through for us" Lee paused and came back to the war. "How's Caprica?"

He knew what his son meant by that.

"She doing as well as can be expected. She signed off on this but sending one of her own to her death. It isn't something that she has felt good about. Especially since it was another Six like her.

"Rebecca volunteered, didn't she?" Lee interrupted for a moment.

"Yes, she did, and Caprica knows that. But it still is a tough command lesson. We've sent soldiers and pilots to their deaths, and on volunteer missions. This is her first time dealing with that. I've told her that what she's feeling is normal. I think she'll be fine."

"Damned if this wasn't a brilliant plan."

"It was. But it isn't over, son."

"I hear you, Dad. We're used to taking beatings like this. I'm just glad Earth is getting a chance to breathe. They've launched about seventy nukes to the surface, and they've destroyed a lot of cities, and a lot of people. The cost of this on the ground is going to be staggering."

"I know, Son. Bond didn't pull any punches during his speech, and he was right to do so. He's a sharp a man as I've ever met."

"I agree. I wonder how he's doing? I wonder how Kara is doing?"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Despite the respite Earth's larger cities and the two ships above it had received from the Cylon retreat, the ground war continued. Cylons had cut electrical power, destroyed dams, and other vital systems across the globe. It was causing havoc in a situation already rife with havoc. The Toasters could move fast, and they weren't easy to take out once forces found them.

And, around Omaha, the noose had gotten tighter and tighter.

To the West, the Cylons had taken Wahoo, Nebraska; they had broken out of the roadblock near Sioux City, and now were now South of Onawa, New Caprica, and heading down Interstate 29. To the East, they were astride Oakland and Carson, New Caprica. And, most alarmingly, to the South, they were within 15 miles of Offutt Air Force Base. They fighting had been brutal, but the Cylons were slowly chipping away at the defenses. Some of the military Brass had wanted to try and get the President out to Denver but he refused to go. He wasn't going to abandon all those soldiers who were fighting and dying for him. His place was at Offutt, and he wasn't moving.

He was in his office, seven-hundred some-odd feet below the surface of Offutt Air Force Base. He blessed the Fleet above, and the maneuver Doctor Baltar had pulled off in screwing up the Cylons vision. They had been gone for ten days, and it gave everyone a chance to catch their breath-except, of course for where they were, as the Cylon ground attack bore in.

One thing that the President had to do when the fighting took place, was to release his UED Military Liaison, to active duty. He was very protective of Kara and really didn't want her to go out on those missions, but she was still the best fighter pilot that UED had and her skill set simply couldn't be ignored in time of war. She had trained on the new Falcons, and she had taken over as CAG of those ships out of Offutt.

When they had first arrived at Offutt, the President hadn't noticed anything different about his Attache. Kara had taken firm control of her Squadron on being reinstated to active duty. She had flown thirty-seven sorties in the first five days of combat and she was pushing her forces hard, and he reasoned she had to. But after a mission early in the conflict, the Base Commander had informed him that she had made a critical error and had almost bought a plot. What's worse, the General felt it had led to losing some aircraft and pilots. She had not reacted well to the chewing-out he had given her. And the General had since informed him that her attitude and her demeanor were becoming even darker.

Something had changed in Kara, and not for the better.

He began to notice these changes in the few times he was able to see her. Kara was suddenly struggling with something very deep and personal, and it worried the President. He just wasn't sure if there was anything he could do about it. He had even talked to Bill Adama about what might be behind this. Bill had filled him in on how Kara was acting just before she and Kat had taken the infamous Cylon Raider Scar out of the picture. That revelation seemed to run along the lines of what was happening now. But he also couldn't make that his sole concern. He still had an entire war to run.

He had decided that despite this and the ongoing ground war to hold a "Bond Family Picnic" in the main dining hall within the underground fortress at Offutt. The lull in the space campaign had buoyed everyone's spirits. He felt that it would be a good way for his extended family to gather together, enjoy each others company, and forget the war for a short time.

He had sixty-five family members of one type or another housed in the huge underground complex. Aunts, uncles, cousins of the second and third variety, in-laws and their families. Everyone he could think of was here. Three of his extended family were not present. All three, first cousins to him, two men and one woman were all United States Air Force fighter pilots, just like him, and all three were on active duty. They had come through the fighting so far in one piece.

The day came, and the picnic began about One in the afternoon and would go until everyone had enough, which he knew, would be late into the night. His wife played the hostess and both of them had made sure they visited every table and talked to every family member present.

Captain Thrace was even in attendance. She had seemed excited enough to accept the invitation, and the President was satisfied with that. The President had fixed it with the Brass to spare Kara for one evening of flying, and the Brass agreed that Captain Thrace could use the break. She showed up and the President saw her early on talking to his daughter Abby, who absolutely idolized Kara.

Judy's brother Ray and the President had been talking together. Ray had just asked the President if he wanted another beer, and of course, Justin couldn't turn down another brew. He was waiting for Ray to return when he looked off to one side and saw Kara sitting there by herself.

The President knew the time for him to reach out to his clearly troubled protege. He wanted to find out, firsthand, what was bothering her.

It didn't go well. In fact, it was an unmitigated disaster.

The conversation had left the President genuinely heartsick and fearful for his Attache. And he was worried that she would do something drastic in the cockpit one of these days. No one should feel the way she was feeling.

The next day, he called Bill Adama again and had asked his friend to locate Leoben, the Cylon who had such a complicated relationship with Kara ever since they first met. He needed a new perspective to get into the mind of his Aide and felt he had nothing to lose by talking to the Cylon. It had been an instructive and enlightening interview.
After that, he knew he needed to talk to his wife.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

XII

Finally, after a sixteen-day hiatus, the Cylons jumped back to Earth. Both Admirals knew they wouldn't be back until they had purged Gaius Baltar's virus from their systems, and that had taken some monumental doing, they both concluded. But they were back, and Admirals knew that they were back and that they were seriously pissed.

The two Admirals were right. It had taken a full eight days to figure out the extent of the virus, and another three to figure out how they might eradicate the damn thing. It took two to wipe their systems clean and restart them, and two more days to test their systems to make sure no trace of the virus was left.

They had found Bulldog's Raider. Every Cylon Raider had the equivalent of a serial number, where it could be identified. So they know someone had flown it there. No one had ever been found. Whoever it was would remain a mystery. Cavil knew that wasn't a concern now. They had a war to fight, and they were determined to pay the humans back for their arrogance.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Admiral Galen Tyrol had barely slept in the last month. He was frantically trying to get the ship that for now was called the Victory ready to go. She had been camouflaged in the plains of Southeastern Spain so that the Cylons couldn't identify a Battlestar under construction.

He was pushing his people as hard as humanly possible.Or maybe I should say as Cylonly as possible, he thought sardonically. They had tripled the workforce on being ordered to have Victory ready with all haste. They were making great progress. But they were still at least a week away.

And the Cylons had returned, and he knew they'd return with a vengeance.

Admiral Hoshi was pushing the Victory crew just as hard. The were running battle drills on the ship, even as workers were still finishing up the last of her innards. The jocks were in the sim as much as possible. It wasn't the same as actual live training but it would have to do. They had no choice.

He and Hoshi had dinner the night after the Cylons returned. As far as the Cylons could see there was nothing of interest here in Southeast Spain, so they ate without much worry. Their conversation, however, was full of worry.

"Hoshi, I'm trying to cut even a day or two off the estimate. Gods strike me down if I'm not. I just can't see where it can be done."

"I know, Galen, but is there anything that we can skip, that maybe isn't necessary until after the Cylons are destroyed? What about officers quarters? Or ceiling panels that haven't been put up? Can we shave a day or two with that."

"Hmm", Tyrol contemplated. He always liked to do a thorough job and hated to leave any loose ends, but it wasn't time for being pretty. "The last thing that would be completed would be the cosmetics, like painting the quarters, the ceiling panels and the like. None of that can be completed until the innards are in, and we're pretty close to that."

"How much time would that cut?" Hoshi was as intent as he ever had been.

"Not one hundred percent sure, Louis, but maybe two days?" He did some calculating in his Cylon brain. "Yeah, about two days. If we don't have to put in all the cosmetics, that should be right. As for how many days that means would be left?" He intently did the math in his head. "Louis, I think I could have her ready in five days, max."

"Then let's do it, Admiral." Hoshi stood up. "You need to speak to your foreman and I need to send a scrambled message to UED Five days?"

"Yes, Admiral Hoshi, I believe I can have her ready with those parameters in five days."
"Let's get moving, Galen. It's almost time to dance." They both saluted and went off in different directions.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

We need to hold them off for four more days. William Adama was sure Pegasus would survive the onslaught but that Galactica couldn't take the beating. Lee had tried as much as possible to put himself between the four Baseships and Galactica. He knew he couldn't completely protect the Old Girl, but if he could make the Cylons dance for four more days...

Gaius Baltar had been working on another possible option for the Fleet, ever since it was discovered that the Cylon Baseships had protective shielding. He had been tinkering with a few missiles that the Raptors used and he thought he was onto something.

He had come up with a transmitter/receiver device that would be placed inside missiles used by the Raptors. On impact with the shield, the system would acquire the shield frequency. Once acquired, that frequency could be transmitted to the other missiles, and the hope was that it would defeat the shielding and allow the other weapons to impact the actual ship.
He had been working feverishly during the last week to get the units to work. They Cylons had now been back for 2 days and Galactica had been taking a fearful beating. She wouldn't be able to take a lot more. Finally, late on that second day of renewed battle, Gaius called Adama on the Bridge.

"Doctor Baltar to Galactica Actual!", Gaius said as militarily as he knew how.

"This is Actual, Doc, have you got something for me?" Things were anything but calm in CIC, but he kept his cool as he always did.

"Yes, Admiral, I have the system that I've been working on operational. We are loading it into a batch of missiles as we speak. First Raptor should be able to go in about fifteen minutes."

"Make it fast, Doc, I don't know if we have fifteen minutes. We're getting pounded up here. Do the best you can, Actual out!"

Fifteen minutes later, he had a spread of eight missiles loaded under a Raptor, ready to launch to see if the receiver and transmitter would work. He also had another Raptor standing by, with another eight missiles fitted with the radio transmitters. When the first eight acquired the shield frequency, it would be transmitted to his computer in the hangar. It would only take him a matter of minutes to send that frequency to every missile that had been upgraded.

"Admiral, Baltar, first Raptor is ready to launch."

"Affirm, Doctor. Hangar launch that Raptor immediately!"

Ten seconds later: "Raptor 85 away, heading in toward Silver Squadron. Looking for a chance to take the shot!"

"85, Galactica Actual, make it quick!"

The next fifteen seconds seemed like an eternity, but finally, a call came from the Raptor. "Galactica, Raptor 85, missiles aw..."

"Admiral 85 has been destroyed, but she did get her birds off!", Tigh barked to The Old Man. "Time on target five seconds!" The XO switched to another channel on his computer terminal after the missiles struck their target, "Doc, CIC, get anything?"

"Yes, Commander! We got the shield frequency! It will take me about ninety seconds to transmit the frequency to the other missiles. Stand by!"

Two more huge impacts on Galactica on her Starboard. It knocked anyone not sitting down in CIC to the ground. That one had done some damage.

"Admiral, we have fires for about four decks down! Initial is that they're out of control!" Kelly said calmly, but loudly.

"Send fire control team in, advise to get that under control like now!" Kelly had already alerted fire control, but Adama had given the order anyway.

"Doc!", Adama followed up. "Are you ready to go!"

"Admiral, the information has been fed to the missiles!"

Galactica's Admiral turned to his XO. "Tigh, vector Raptor in on the Baseship when she's in the air. Get her lost inside that swarm of fighters!"

Tigh had the Raptor's Call Sign already on his screen. "Raptor 395, course 247 mark 225. There's a large formation of both our ships and theirs already engaged. Get lost in the soup if you can and make for that Baseship!"

"CIC, 395, ready to rock!" He was obviously from Earth, which made Adama, even in the midst of battle, grin.

He switched frequencies. "Silver Squadron, Raptor 305 headed your way. We want her to get lost in that mess. Try to clear her a path to that Baseship!"

"XO, affirm, moving to stir up the shit!" Tigh quietly gave that low monotone laugh of his. He liked the bravado.

"Raptor 395 rendezvousing with Silver, trying to get lost in the noise here."

"395, Galactica Actual, understood. Helm, new course 267 mark 015, turn our port to broadside that Baseship best possible speed. I want to give that ship even more to worry about!"

"Aye, sir, new course 267 mark 015 showing our broadside!

"Galactica Actual, 395, we've got a clean look, missiles away! Time on target nine seconds!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Where the hell did those missiles come from?" The Sharon on board of Baseship 3 exclaimed. There wasn't a Cavil on board there so this was her ship. "I didn't see who launched them."

The second Sharon barked out "RADIATION ALERT! Eight birds inbound, they're all nukes!"
"How are the shields?" The lead Eight called out.

"They're active", the resident Simon chimed in. “They should..."

He never got the rest out of his mouth. The missiles had the shield frequency, and they roared through the electronic net like a hot knife through butter and found their target. An instant later the Baseship was hit with thunderous explosions.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED!" Cavil swore in fury from Baseship One.

"Number Three was just destroyed! Galactica launched eight nukes, and they went right through the shield!"

"Oh, Frack!" The color drained from Cavil's face again. "They have our shield frequencies! We need to haul ass!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

The Galactica Bridge exploded in shouts of sheer jubilation as the Baseship disintegrated.

"Admiral!", Lieutenant Baltar exclaimed from Tactical, "Enemy is recalling fighters to all three remaining Baseships! I think they're preparing to bug out!" The human term had caught on with the space veterans, both Cylon and Colonial.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. "XO, keep all fighters on station until the enemy has jumped. Then recall."

"With pleasure, Admiral.!"

We live to see another day, The Old Man thought to himself.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

XIII

Admiral Louis Hoshi had been as busy as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest, or so he told himself dryly. He not only was overseeing the final touches on his ship but also was trying to get a brand-new crew ready to do battle immediately after lifting off from the Shipyard in Spain. Like the other two Admirals, he wasn't getting much sleep. But it couldn't be helped.

He had been in almost constant face-to-face meetings with Admiral Tyrol and his XO, Commander Athena Agathon. Galen may be the shipbuilder but he had a lot of experience in the Hangar of Galactica for many years and his input on preparing for live operations was proving invaluable. Hoshi almost wished that he could have Galen take over as Chief during the upcoming battle. And he knew his fellow Admiral would accept it in a heartbeat.

"Athena", Hoshi began his latest session after a sip of coffee. "How did the latest simulated battle go?"

"The jocks were outstanding, Boss. With the Cylons jumping away again, it was good to get some more actual flying in and not just simulation work. It certainly isn't combat, but what I've seen I really like. I sent the reports up to Lee and The Old Man just before I came into your office so they're up to speed as well."

"Too bad the hangar crews can't get the same real-world work in", mused Tyrol. The birds had flown from a nearby Spanish Air Force Base and not from Victory. Once a chief, always a chief, Hoshi thought. But it was one reason he valued Galen's counsel. "But as you can guess, I've been watching the sim drills in the hanger and it's going well. Since the ship is almost ready to be signed off on, I've been trying to help Chief Stylers in working everyone up."

"I'll bet they're scared to death, having an Admiral watching their every move", Athena said, trying to stifle a laugh, and failing miserably.

"Maybe, but I've been coming out with Lieutenant stripes on and told them while in here I'm not an Admiral." He smiled sheepishly, "I don't think they buy it but I want them to act as natural as they can when I'm in there."

"How is Stylers taking your presence?" Hoshi asked Tyrol. He was referring to Lieutenant Angela Stylers who was The Chief for the Battlestar Victory.

"It's keeping her on her toes as well which is good, but she's got a great attitude and mind. I know she appreciates some of my points. It's a lot of pressure everyone will be undergoing from training directly into battle, guys. This is a tough gig."

"Preaching to the choir Galen." Admiral Hoshi added dryly. "But we have to be ready to deal with it. We're going to literally be heading right into battle. We get to Angels Ten we've been given permission to jump, and under normal circumstances that's crazy."

"We have to catch them off guard, sirs", Athena noted. "We really don't have a choice. It's not ideal on the ship or the crew, but we can't afford to do anything else,
Galactica can't take a whole lot more. Two state-of-the-art birds on them, they won't have a prayer."

"How is the electronic work on the missiles coming along? Baltar did a number on them getting their shield freqs. I'm just happy he sent us the info on how to load the birds with that felgercarb"

"We've tested the transmitters and they work on all frequencies. They should give us the whole range of freq's that the Cylons might use for their shields when they come back. I don't think the Cylons will stand pat with what they had."

"Neither do I, Commander. It'd be nice if we could have done some live shooting, but it's the best we can do for the moment" Admiral Hoshi muttered.

"We're doing the best we can do, sir. And I think any of the kinks in that system have been ironed out.", his XO said with confidence.

"Galen", Hoshi turned directly to other Admiral. "Exactly how long til she'll be ready to sign off and start the engines. I don't expect the Toasters to give us much more time."

"Two Days, sir." He said without hesitation. "We have to run some final tests on the systems. Everything else is as good to go as it will get. Since we won't get a shakedown run we have to make sure everything is working just so. We won't have time for adjustments once airborne."

"Agreed. OK, two days. Commander, advise the crew to Stand-To immediately. We're on deck, but I want Condition Two throughout the ship as of this moment, so everyone's in place and ready for battle. I'll inform Pegasus and Galactica that we'll be ready to go to war in forty-eight hours. Dismissed."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Two more days, Bill Adama thought silently. Just stay away two more days, and we can frack them up something terrible.

A Commander of a Battlestar by nature had to be a pessimist. He has to look at the worst-case scenario. And the worst-case was the Cylons wouldn't give them two days. In fact, he was almost sure of it. They had confounded the attacking fleet three times now and had somehow kept The Old Girl in the ballgame. But Galactica had been hurt and hurt badly in the encounters so far; their luck couldn't hold out forever.

He used this current respite to simply improvise on repairs. The engines were still in excellent working order, but the port flight pod had been damaged, and while currently usable for landings, could be put out of commission easily. Fire control topside was also heavily damaged and no one was really sure how that would operate if the need arose.
But he was as calm as if the ship were in perfect running order. He trusted himself; he trusted his XO, and he trusted his crew to do their job.

Just give me those two days...
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Admiral Lee Adama was eating dinner in his quarters. Helo had CIC for the moment. Like his father, and like Admiral Hoshi far below he was praying for those two days. His new ship was an amazing piece of machinery. Despite repeated blows during the battles, The Beast nary had a scratch on her. The armor had been almost indestructible. The Cylons had been staying as far away from the new ship as they could while still engaging her. They had tried to concentrate on GalacticaPegasus had not been able to get off any clean shots that could have taken out a Baseship. It was remarkable that the one Cylon ship that had been destroyed was done so by Galactica. But the Old Girl had simply been given more chances.

He had read the reports coming from Spain: Battlestar Victory would not be a completely finished product when she came into service. They still had to do final testing of all the key systems as well. Hoshi, Tyrol, and Athena had all been giving almost hourly updates on the status of events and the last-minute training. And, most importantly, she was at Condition Two, which meant her crew was in place and ready for whatever lay ahead.

He thought about Kara, something he hadn't had much time to do recently. But the crazy, fracked-up, always-frayed but never broken friendship with her had helped sustain him in many ways. They were so alike but also so very different. She was a hothead, while more often than not he was a voice of reason and common sense. But they had worked for the same goal. He knew she had been re-activated to CAG of a squad of Falcons at Offutt Air Force Base, and he hadn't seen her name on any KIA reports, so he assumed she had been making life miserable for the Toasters when they showed up.

But despite her penchant for insubordination at the absolute wrong moments, he wished she were here. He trusted his CAG's, and, as good of jocks as they were, they hadn't been through the grinder like Kara Thrace. They were learning, but her experience was missed.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Kara Thrace was finishing up a run with her Falcons and had just landed back at Offutt. They had pounded a large concentration of Toaster artillery near Sioux City, the Capital of New Caprica. They had been joined by American F-22's, and even B-2 Spirit bombers, and a few old, venerable but still very useful B-52 Stratofortresses,

She had lost eighteen jocks and birds so far. Since she "owned" about sixty ships. That wasn't a terrible rate during a war, and unlike her days on Galactica, the losses in both aircraft and pilots were replaced immediately. But every pilot she lost hurt her deep in her soul. Maybe not as much as when Kat had succumbed to the lethal dose of radiation with her incredible run at the Algae Planet, but she would remember all their call signs. And those losses were hurting her again, just as Kat's had; just as the hell on New Caprica had.

The war had triggered old demons that she thought she had overcome years ago. The feeling of self-doubt; of self-loathing. The idea that she didn't want to get close to anyone or anything. When whatever had happened to her and her ship so long ago when she had told Lee that she wasn't scared anymore; and then she had come back as a totally different person, she felt the demons had been defeated. But they were back.

And the resurgence of those demons had led her to grievously hurt the one person that she idolized more than any person she had ever known.

She owed so much to Justin Bond. Despite her less-than-stellar record aboard Galactica, he had seen something in here when he interviewed her four years ago to be his Attache. Whatever she was, he had challenged her to be more than she had ever been. And she had accepted the challenge. She had grown, not just as an Officer, but as a Human Being under his tutelage. She idolized the man; she adored The First Lady and their two children. She felt she had finally conquered those nightmares of the past.

And how had she repaid the President? By wounding him to his very soul, she knew. Like she had done with The Old Man; with Lee; with Sam; with the men and woman that she had fought with for so many years. She had betrayed the President with a vicious, rapier-like verbal assault. All because she felt she wasn't worthy. And his only crime, like that of Adama and Lee and Sam had been that he cared deeply for her. Whenever it seemed anyone would get too close to her, she had pushed them away with a coldness that would match the vacuum of space.

This has all happened before and will happen again.

She needed a shower and a meal. But just before walking into the showers, a female Ensign had advised her the President and First Lady wanted to see her.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

President Justin Bond was reading over the information UED had sent him on Victory. Like everyone else, he prayed for two days of quiet, so she could be ready. It would seem like an eternity, he knew. He was also glancing at the reports from around the world, and the continuing assessment of destruction that the Cylons had visited on the planet.

Sixty large cities were now gone; smaller cities obliterated by Cylon Raider attacks; military bases had been damaged or destroyed. Electrical power was scarce throughout the planet; at least a dozen of his fellow Heads-Of-State had been confirmed to have been killed. It was a gruesome picture unfolding, but he held out hope.

He wasn't worried about his own life. He had put that in the balance every time he had gone up in first his F-15, and later, in his F-22. You never thought about it as a pilot, but it was always there, at the edges of your subconscious, lurking, waiting for the moment when that suppressed thought could become an end-of-life reality. But reading about this kind of destruction and death, on a scale he could barely imagine, tore at his very soul as a human being. Maybe I shouldn't have been so honest in that speech, he thought ruefully. But...no, stretching the truth wouldn't have helped anyone.

His intercom announced his secretary. "Mr. President, Captain Thrace's squadron has just returned. You asked me to advise you when she arrived."

"Thank you, Rita. She'll need some time to freshen up. Please ask her to join The First Lady and I in our quarters at 1930?"

"Understood, Mr. President." And the line went silent.

Maybe I can't save the whole world, but I can save at least one person. He had talked it over with his wife the night before. They were agreed. It was time to change a life for the better.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"ADMIRAL ON THE BRIDGE!" Athena said loudly. The CIC came to full attention.

"As you were, people." Admiral Louis Hoshi entered his bridge not as Tactical Officer of this new ship, but as her Admiral. This was his ship now. For how long was probably not in his control.

"Admiral, all stations are Standing-To at Condition Two. All crew are at their stations."
"Thank you, Commander. Let me talk to the ship."

"Aye Sir", said his XO.

"Attention crew of the Battlestar Victory. This is the Admiral. I wish I could welcome you aboard under different circumstances. Our ship doesn't look as complete as Galactica or Pegasus, and we won't have the luxury of an extended shakedown cruise as Pegasus had. Once we are given the OK by Admiral Tyrol, we will be going directly into war. We've trained you as hard and as thoroughly as we could. We were tough on you, but you have responded admirably. We had to be tough because from the moment we lift off we will be under battle conditions.

"You're ready for this; you know your mission; you know what's at stake, and I know you will not fail our collective humanity. Hoshi Out."

The next twenty-four hours went by busily but uneventfully for Victory. She was now about 36 hours from being signed off by Admiral Tyrol as space-worthy. She was running on internal batteries, her umbilical from the Shipyard having been terminated a few hours earlier. Admiral Hoshi saw that things were going so well that he advised his XO that he would take a short nap in his quarters. May as well get some sleep now...

Three hours later, while in his Quarters, he got a call from the XO in CIC. "Yes,
Commander, what is it?"

"Admiral the Cylons have just jumped back."

"Very well, XO, I'll be up there in a moment."

He took a deep breath, stood up and began heading into the unknowns.
Godsdammit, couldn't they have waited one more day...
___________________________________________________________________________________________

XIV

Lee Adama knew the Cylons would have changed their shield freqs before jumping back. And he knew they'd be on the lookout for any Raptor that looked out of place. They were thirty-three hours from Victory allegedly entering service, although UED had said not a peep about if the bird was done. But Lee knew he and his father would have to make the Cylons dance just a little longer in order to get Victory into the air.

Gaius' team, with the help of the hangar crews, had been able to load the receiver/transmitters into every missile in the fleet. He had also sent the receiver/transmitter specs to Hoshi in Spain, so Victory would come out of her moorings and hit the Cylons in a tender spot. Pegasus, for some reason, was having problems getting the system to work on her weapons but hadn't given up on the effort.

Galactica had withdrawn back behind Pegasus about 550 kilometers or so. Her fighters could still engage the Baseships that came calling, but the Baseships would have to get through Pegasus to get to the Old Girl. Of course, once the Baseships committed and showed their hand, Galactica would have to stand-to and slug it out.

Pegasustook some nuclear strikes in the first twelve hours after the Toasters had jumped back in, but the armor was still holding. The same pattern as before had restarted: two Baseships going after the Battlestars, and the other one tasked to pounding Earth with nukes and with Raiders. Lee was convinced by now they had only a finite number of nuclear warheads, or else they would have sent them raining down on top of the two ships, as well as Earth.

So far, The Beast had kept The Bucket out of the main fracas. But Lee knew that
Galactica would have to come out of her corner, and soon.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"This is the XO, launch Blue and Silver Squadrons. Red are finishing their landings, re-arm ASAP." Tigh released the mic button, and turned to Adama, "Sir, we've got 'em all down, and they should all be back out within 15 minutes Blue and Silver getting airborne!"

"Kelly, any word on Victory yet?" The Admiral didn't want to show his nerves, but he wanted that ship in play.

"Sir, nothing from UED or Hoshi yet, but by estimates, she's still at least twelve hours from sailing."

Godsdammit. He swore under his breath. He wasn't angry at anyone, but he knew he couldn't just hang back here until the cows came home. He would have to put his damaged ship back into the fore. He hated being screened like this. If they were going to go down, he wanted to go down toe-to-toe with the Toasters.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Galen, how are we doing?" Admiral Hoshi had a handheld talkie on The Bridge with him, while Galen was scurrying around the ship, frantically trying to wrap things up.

"Admiral, at least another two or three hours. Can't be helped, sir, but we're damn close." Tyrol sounded like and probably was, out of breath. He was busting his ass, so Hoshi didn't bust it for him as well.

Hoshi knew Galactica was still in the rear of Pegasus, trying to stay away from a slugging match. He was certain the Cylons would force the issue. At this moment, he was as helpless as a newborn.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

At almost the same moment, Admiral Lee Adama looked at his Dradis, and the disposition of the Baseships began to change.

"Helo, do you see this? It looks like the furthest Baseship is breaking from earth and re-deploying?"

"Aye. Admiral. Maybe they're switching surface targets? They've done that before, sir."

Lee eyed the movements that he was seeing on Dradis, and then he suddenly turned cold. Frack me, but I think they're...

"Cronin, raise Galactica immediately!" Lee shouted, with a deadly urgency in his voice.

"Got her, sir!"

"Galactica, Pegasus Actual!"

"Pegasus Actual, Galactica Actual. I see the movements. What do you think they're up to?"

Adama's Dradis image was from a lot further off, so it might now be discernible to him yet.

"Admiral, I think all three Baseships are forming against us. I repeat all three are headed our way. They're committing the bulk of their forces against us."

William Adama studied the Dradis for a brief moment before replying. Then he turned to Tigh. "I think the boy's right, Saul. They're coming in force."

"God's help us", the XO said stoically.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Galactica has to come out now, brothers and sisters. She can't lay back and let her new sister take all the beating." Cavil wasn't as smug as he might have been. The Humans had fought him masterfully in this war, and he couldn't just dismiss that. It made him want them gone all the more. "Have Two and Four go right down the center towards Pegasus. Peel us away and flank Pegasus, and head straight for Galactica."

"Keep the new bird too occupied to help her sister?" Simon liked that.

"Yes. And recall all fighters from Earth to join the attack. I want everything in on these two Battlestars. This ends today." Cavil's eyes narrowed. It better end today, he thought, I'm getting too old for this crap...
__________________________________________________________________________________________

"All hands, this is the Admiral. One Baseship heading directly for us, two heading toward Pegasus. Batten down the hatches, prepare for incoming!" He turned to Tigh. "XO all birds in the air; All Falcons, Vipers, and Raptors launch."

"This is the XO, launch all available aircraft! Repeat, launch all birds!"

Caprica followed Tigh's words. "Admiral, Baseship directly in front of us, range one-hundred kilometers and closing!"

Tigh was close on her heels. "Admiral all available birds airborne, we've emptied the nest!"


And so, Adama thought, the die is cast..
___________________________________________________________________________________________

XV

"Hoshi! We're done! Crews will be off in five minutes! Repeat five minutes!" Galen was running full tilt to CIC, with, of all things, the paperwork that needed Hoshi's signature, making Victory operational.

"Roger that, Admiral. XO, prepare to go around the horn! As soon as all workers are five miles from the ship, we go!" Hoshi felt the rush of adrenaline that would help him deal with at least the next few hours. He was going from being a "virgin" directly into battle.

One by one, Athena went around to the different stations throughout the ship, to see if everyone was good to go. Five minutes later, she turned to her Admiral. "Sir, all stations report green. We are good to go!"

Just then Galen came flying into CIC and stumbled over a piece of drywall, which made everyone laugh briefly, despite the tension. Admiral Hoshi took the paper from Admiral Tyrol.

"Can't upset the bureaucrats, can we, Galen?" Hoshi grinned. "I suppose you're coming along for the ride?"

"Damn right sir, I am! Wherever you want me, put me." He pocketed his Admiral's bars.
Hoshi got on the horn. "Lieutenant Stylers, which pod are you manning?" He called to his Chief.

"Port Side, Admiral. Why?"

"Mr. Tyrol will be assigned to assist Starboard, is that clear?"

"Aye, sir!"

"XO, set Condition One throughout the ship."

"Attention All Hands, this is the XO, Set Condition One throughout the ship. Prepare for battle!"
__________________________________________________________________________________________

"Admiral!", Helo looked at the teletype that communications had just handed him. "Victory is ready to clear moorings!" There was a loud cheer in CIC.

Lee closed his eyes briefly. "Thank Gods". He took a sharp breath. "Thank the Gods!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________
"Admiral!" Tigh shouted above the insanity as explosions thundered on Galactica. "Victory is ready to clear her mooring!"

The same shout washed over the CIC of the Old Girl.

"Understood, XO. As you were people, we have work to do!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Shipyard, Victory Actual, request permission to clear all moorings."

"Victory Actual, Shipyard control, permission granted. Thrusters to Angels Ten, then cleared to jump, course 168 mark 255, you will be pulling into Galactica's port. She has a Baseship in front of her, and is taking heavy damage!"

"Shipyard, aye Angels Ten with thrusters, course 168 mark 255, jump approved. Will come alongside to Galactica's port. Victory Actual, out."

"Godspeed to you and your crew, Admiral Hoshi!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Pegasus was going toe-to-toe with two Baseships and was holding her own. The Beast was some machine, Lee Adama thought. Had this baby's been around during the attack on the Colonies...

His Communications Officer turned toward him. "Admiral, Victory is ascending, she'll be pulling in next to Galactica on her Port side in a few moments."

"Thank you, Lieutenant." He said more calmly than he felt.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Kelly turned to Adama. "Admiral, Victory just sent us her jump coordinates, she'll be coming into our Port, we need to clear the fighters out of that area."

Tigh didn't even let Adama speak. "All wings, this is the XO, clear sectors Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen immediately. Say again, clear Elven, Twelve and Thirteen. We're getting company to our Port!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Cavil looked at his two brothers and his one sister. "Launch a spread of five nukes to Galactica's Starboard, fore, and aft."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"ADMIRAL!" Tigh literally screamed. "Five nukes coming in hot Starboard, the length of the ship!"

"ALL HANDS, BRACE FOR IMPACT!" Adama closed his eyes in a quick prayer.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Admiral, we're at 9500 MSL, the board is green!" Athena was watching the clock like it was going to break any second.

"All Hands, this is Admiral Hoshi, we're going to war. Prepare to jump."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

The missiles slammed into Galactica and it seemed she would roll over with the force of five hits on her Port. The noise was like nothing any of them had ever heard. Explosions ripped the ship from bow to stern. On every deck, in every compartment, people went flying. Including in CIC.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Angels Ten, Admiral Hoshi!"

"JUMP!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

XVI

Cavil's face lit up in a mass of joyous vindictiveness. "BURN, GALACTICA, BURN! You're finished, Adama! Follow up with all squadrons of Raiders. Finish her off!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

CIC was wrecked. Tigh knew his left arm was broken, and that he probably had a concussion as well, but he was damned if he would leave his post. Caprica had been knocked unconscious but was coming to, blood all over her face. Kelly had been knocked fifteen feet from his communications seat but seemed no worse for wear. He glanced around CIC and saw at least a dozen people that had to be dead. But where was The Old Man...

He glanced down and to his right. Bill Adama had been thrown a good 15 feet away from his post and was lying face down in a heap of glass and metal. There was blood near his head...
__________________________________________________________________________________________

"Cavil, all fighters engaging Galactica!" Doral Whooped. This was the moment they had all been waiting for.

"Goodbye, Galactica! As soon as she's done, join the other two against Pegasus!"

Sharon, her hands in the data stream in Command and Control, suddenly got a quizzical look on her face. It took her a moment to realize what was going on.

"Cavil, I think you should take a look at this!"

"Not now, Sharon, I want to see the last moments of Galactica!"

"Uh, Cavil, I think you better look at the new Battlestar..."

That didn't register at first, so focused was he on Galactica's demise. "What are you blabbering about! What new..."

Simon filled in the blanks for him, horror in his voice: "New Battlestar to Galactica's Port! She's coming right at us!!"

Cavil was never short of words. Now? He could not utter one.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"XO, fire a spread of eight missiles with the new transmitters. I'll leave firing pattern to you!". Hoshi's first words in battle weren't going to be remembered along the lines of anything special, but his crew would remember it forever.

"Aye, Admiral! Weps, full spread of eight to her Starboard!"

The missiles thundered away from Victory'sforward-mounted launchers. As everyone had expected, the Cylons were modulating their shield freq's, and the new transmitter could scan through all the frequencies at amazing speed. It took them less than three seconds to match frequencies.
___________________________________________________________________________________________


"Copy, Mr. Kelly!" Tigh had to ignore that calamity around Bill Adama, and concentrate on the battle at hand. It wasn't easy. For the moment, he had to get them through the Hell that had descended upon them. "Caprica, fire a spread of five nukes towards that Baseship!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Lee, Victory has engaged! Eight nukes away from her, time on target seven seconds! Galactica has just fired five more!"

"Very well, Mr. Agathon," Lee said calmly.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Athena tracked the missiles on Dradis. The next site she saw was maybe the most beautiful she had ever beheld. "Admiral, nine direct hits! The Baseship is disintegrating!" A tumultuous cheer when up from the now-Christened CIC.

Hoshi brought everyone back to the moment. "We'll have time for that later, people." He selected a new frequency from his LED screen "Pegasus Actual, Victory Actual, Victory ready to move into your Starboard!"

"I copy, Admiral Hoshi!" He then called Galactica, "Galactica, Pegasus Actual, back off behind us and Victory, we'll take it from here!" The odds were now finally even.
With two state-of-the-art Battlestars now facing the Baseships, the battle had finally turned. Lee again turned towards his XO.

"Mr. Agathon", Lee announced. "All Squads engage the closest Baseship. Prepare to launch nukes on my mark!"

"We'll have to wait forVictory to fire first, to get the freq, right?", Helo glanced over at him. "We still haven't gotten the kinks out those frackin' receivers yet!"

That rankled Lee, in a prideful sort of way, but Victory had the new missiles, he didn't. Hoshi had to take the lead. He switched frequencies and hailed Victory. "Admiral Hoshi, I'll need you to fire one or two nukes at the ship facing Pegasus to get through the shields and knock them out.! Our receivers and transmitters for the shields are inop!"

"Understood, Admiral Adama." He quickly pivoted towards his XO. "Athena, fire two torps at the ship across from Pegasus!"

"Aye, Admiral! Weps, plot solution and fire!"

The two missiles roared away from Victory and headed straight for the Command and Control center of the Battlestar directly opposed to Pegasus. The weapon defeated the shielding and exploded with a tremendous force. The shield on that Basestar collapsed.
"Admiral, shield down!" Helo exclaimed.

"Copy, Helo, fire a spread of eight nukes at will. Light them up!"

"Nukes away!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

At almost the same instant, Hoshi had loosed eight more missiles with nuclear warheads at the Baseship directly opposite the new Battlestar. The sixteen fired between the two majestic ships impacted within three seconds of each other. The flash of light could be seen everywhere on that side of the planet, so brilliant it was. The two Baseships melted before their eyes.

Both CIC's erupted into frenzied roars. On the Bridge of Pegasus, Lee closed his eyes and put his hands down on his console in front of him. Helo came up from his right and clapped his Admiral on the back.

"Helo, get a hold of Galactica." He said soberly.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

On Victory Athena hugged her Admiral, breaking all military protocol, but no one cared. Hoshi was shaking hands and hugging everyone on the Bridge. Galen raced from his station in the hangar and gave a bear hug to both the Admiral and the XO.

Then Hoshi stepped back from the celebration for a moment. "XO, raise Galactica."

It's almost as if they had forgotten about her momentarily. Athena went pale. "Yes, Admiral."

Explosions were shaking Galactica from one end to the other. Commander Saul Tigh couldn't believe she was still in one piece. Hoshi reached her first.

"Galactica, Victory Actual."

"Victory Actual, Galactica. We need Raptors over here ASAP to help evacuate the Old Lady. I've given the order to Abandon Ship."

Hoshi nodded to Athena to ready the rescue parties, then he realized what he had heard. Tigh had ordered Abandon Ship, not Admiral Adama... he suddenly went cold.
"Commander Tigh, where is the Admiral? Is he available?"

Tigh was about to answer when Lee's voice rang through. "Galactica, Pegasus Actual. SitRep?"

Saul Tigh looked around the ravaged, barely recognizable CIC. "Admiral, the Old Lady has had it. We're preparing to abandon here. I've already asked Victory to get Raptors over here to help with the evac."

"Understood, Tigh. We'll coordinate with Victory. Can I talk to the Admiral?"

Saul Tigh held his emotions in check, as best he could. "Lee, I'm having your father transferred to Pegasus. Doc Cottle is coming along with him. They'll be leaving here in five minutes."

"But why...", Lee started, then realized what the words meant. "Understood, Commander!"

He terminated the conversation. The entire CIC had heard the transmission. Suddenly, everything was quiet.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

As soon as the last of the Baseships had been destroyed, the Cylon ground forces around Omaha and elsewhere began to flee. Without orders, they fled, as was their protocol. The Raiders on the planet began taking off and most were knocked down before they reached space. The rest had nowhere to go.

Kara touched down at Offutt after her Falcons and the others had taken out dozens of fleeing Cylon Raiders as they tried to escape. She had pursued the Cylon Raiders with a new sense of purpose and a new sense of who she was. She had been reborn with the miracle that had been gifted to her the day before. She was a new person. She had a new beginning. The demons were gone.

Upon her arrival back in The Bunker, she heard the news concerning Galactica and her Admiral. The joy she had been feeling was suddenly replaced by a despair that she had not been prepared for.

"Sir, request permission to take a Raptor to Pegasus." She had asked President Bond without preamble when arriving at the Ops Center. She should have actually asked the Air Boss. The President looked over at the General, who sadly nodded his head.

The President couldn't stop her. Not now. "Permission granted, Captain." He said quietly. He was tempted to go with her, but he knew this was another kind of family matter, so he reluctantly stayed behind. "Be safe, Kara."

"Sir, nothing can keep me from coming back.", she said with tears in her eyes.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Within thirty minutes, William Adama was in the Pegasus' Sick Bay. Admirals Hoshi and Tyrol, along with Lee were present, as were both Caprica and Gaius Baltar. Caprica had suffered a deep gash on the left side of her forehead, but she was fit to be there. Lee had found out Kara was on her way and would be there in fifteen minutes. Tigh had remained on Galactica, while Helo was in Command in his CIC.

Sherman Cottle gathered them all around. "Lee, your father has suffered very critical injuries. He has a ruptured liver, his right arm is broken in 4 places, his hip has been shattered, and he's got shrapnel wounds in his chest and his skull."

"Prognosis, Doc?" Lee got right to the point.

"The prognosis? " He looked around. "Pray". Cottle clapped the Admiral on his shoulder and went back into the surgical room.

Lee's look was as far away as The Colonies. He couldn't believe it. He had felt his father was damn near indestructible. How many times had he pulled off miracles? New Caprica? The Colony? He couldn't...

For a brief moment, he came back to military matters and looked at Admiral Hoshi. "Admiral, is the fleet still at Condition One?"

"Yes, sir. All the Baseships are destroyed. There are a few Raiders out there but it's only a matter of time now.", he said with a forlorn quietness.

"Admiral, as soon as the last Raider is destroyed set Condition Two throughout the fleet." Lee realized that, with his father in grave condition, right now, he was the Senior most officer. "If you don't mind heading to CIC, advise Helo of those orders."

"I completely understand, sir. I shall carry out your orders.", and Hoshi left to take temporary control of the United Earth Fleet.

Lee wanted to go but didn't want to go at the same time. He didn't want to see his father with tubes throughout his body, as he had after Boomer had damn near killed him. But, somehow, his legs began to move of their own volition, and he headed to the sick bay.
Cottle saw him and did not object to his presence. The old Doc came up to the young Admiral.

"Son, he's heavily sedated, but, he is conscious. Only an Adama could take a beating like that and still be awake." He sad gruffly, but Lee smiled back.

"Yeah, he's one tough son-of-a-bitch, isn't he?" Sherman nodded and smiled, even as tears were in his eyes.

"Lee, he's the toughest man I've ever known. And his son is pretty damned tough, too", Cottle said.

"Thank you, Doc", Lee smiled. "He thinks the world of you, Sherman."

Lee approached his father. The injuries were terrible he could tell, but for all that, William Adama seemed to be at peace with himself. The older Admiral eyed the younger one as he approached.

"Congratulations, Admiral", William Adama said slowly. Despite how desperate his condition was, he smiled. "I hear we are Toaster-free at this time?"

Lee briefly laughed, in spite of himself. "Well a few Raiders left but that's about it. But they're gone. Hopefully, for good."

"Your crew was spectacular, son. Really, they were. And make sure my crew receives it's just due. I couldn't be prouder of them."

"I know, dad. You'll be able to tell them yourself."

"Don't blow smoke up my ass, son", he said groggily, but with affection. "I remember looking down on Kat when she was about gone, and she and I knew it. Well, it's my turn now."

"Dad..." Lee choked up. "I can't do this without you."

"Bull, Lee. You're free to work without a net now. You've earned the stripes. You've earned the bars. This is YOUR fleet now. We all have to cross this bridge sooner or later, son. I've had a good run."

Lee paused. "By the way, did you see the news about Kara that came down just before the battle?"

William Adama lit up, with a big smile. "I did! Who would have guessed? But I think that gives her a new lease on life. I'm happy for her. I'm happy for all of them."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

A few minutes later, Kara had landed on Pegasus and went immediately to sick bay. She saw Hoshi and Helo in the waiting room, and they gave her hugs. Then she went in to see the two Admirals.

Lee stood up and went over to her. They embraced in a long, deep hug, that seemed to last for an eternity. They had grown up together, from kids. Now, it was approaching their time to lead the Human race to a new future.

After a minute or so, they let each other go. Kara then looked down at the bed to her right. She hadn't wanted to look. But she knew she had to.

She sat down next to Admiral William Adama. Adama looked up at her and smiled.

"What do you hear, Starbuck?"

"Nothing but the rain." She said, a wide smile on her face, and tears streaming down her cheeks. She could let her emotions out finally, without shame, without regret. She was whole now.

"Better get your gun, and bring the cat in, then." And he smiled warmly at her. Through her tears, she smiled as well even though her heart was breaking.

"We beat them, sir. They're gone." Kara wiped at the tears. "YOU beat them, Admiral."

"I know, Captain. From everything I read you did well down on the surface."

"Thank you, sir. I'm proud of my Falcons." She paused for a moment. "Did you see my news?" His face lit up again.

"Yes, I did. The attack started right after that. I couldn't be happier or prouder of you. As the President said, you really have something to live for now, don't you?"

"I always have, sir. I just don't think I ever knew it."

"You knew it, Starbuck. You did. But this is a new beginning for you. Please give my regards to the President when you see him? He's a fine man. But you know that, don't you?"

She softly laughed, "Yes, I know he is. I will let you know what you said when I see him." He softly grabbed her hand. As she stood up, she gave him the best salute she'd ever snapped off. He raised his right hand and returned the salute. "You'll always be in my heart, sir."

Two hours later, Admiral William Adama was gone.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

XVII

It had taken eight hours after the battle to get everyone off of Galactica, and everything that could be salvaged in Raptors-official logs, papers, personal items from the crew. All the dead that could be found and accounted for were flown down to Earth, where they received caskets, and would then be taken back up to the two remaining Battlestars, who would then commit their bodies to space.

The body of Admiral William Adama lay in repose in the Port hangar aboard Pegasus. The flag of the nation of New Caprica adorning his casket and UED enlisted men standing at attention as honor guards. Lee Adama, naturally, would give the eulogy. Four days after the end of the conflict, the service was held on Pegasus.

"My father", he began, with a small smile on his face, "Seemed like he'd never pass from this existence. So many times, I would think he was in the most impossible of situations, and I was sure each time that he'd never make it back. Well, he did, time after time. But as he told me just before he slipped away, he has finally crossed the bridge we all must cross someday.

"I will miss him every day of the rest of my life. He and I weren't always on great terms, but in the end, we both realized that the bond we shared was unshakable, even in the midst of a current disagreement. Everything I am today: the officer; the man that stands before you, is because of him. I can never fill his shoes, and I won't even try. He always told me to take my own path and to follow it where it leads. He is gone, but he will be with me until my last day."

Originally, Galactica was going to be flown into the sun, as a glorious sendoff. But she could barely move now. She was on an autopilot program, where she was in an almost static position. The major fires were out, although some still lingered, five days after she was abandoned.

Instead of heading into the sun, her two sisters would line up next to each other and would fire four nuclear weapons at the grand Old Lady, and scuttle her.

"All hands, Ten-Hut!" Admiral Wheeler from UED snapped from aboard Pegasus. On both Pegasus and Victory, everyone in both CIC's turned to their window and saw Galactica off in the distance. "All hands, render Honors Battlestar Galactica. And, salute!"

Salutes snapped all over both ships and remained in place.

Wheeler nodded to Saul Tigh who would have the honor of sending the eight nuclear weapons to Galactica.

"Firing", Tigh said, his voice shaking, and he snapped back to attention with a crisp salute.

A few seconds later, the ancient ship, that had seen such a glorious existence, and had beaten off the Cylons time and time again, disappeared in a cacophony of bright explosions. When the explosions ended she was gone...

"At ease!" Wheeler commanded, and the salutes ended.

Admiral Wheeler immediately turned to Tigh. Ellen was with him. She had been down on Earth since they arrived five years ago, learning and studying about this new world, and it's people; visiting its many breath-taking sights, and enjoying a mortal existence. Tigh had come with her once in a while, but after fleeing the Cylons, they needed some space from each other.

"Commander Tigh", Wheeler said. "I offer you Command of the Battlestar Galactica and a promotion to the rank of Admiral with all the rights and privileges thereof, and command of the new Battlestar. You have earned it sir."

Tigh looked over at Helen. They had talked about this since the Old Man had passed away. "Admiral Wheeler, thank you very much, sir. But the command of a Battlestar needs to pass to new blood. I am putting in for my retirement. It's time for younger, bolder people to lead the Fleet. Remember, I'm like 2500 years old now."

Wheeler laughed at that remark, which had caught him off guard. He had prepared for the possibility that Tigh would not accept the command of Galactica. He really had wanted Tigh to take the new girl but fully understood the man's mindset. "Very well, Mr. Tigh. I accept your offer of retirement. Because of your long and meritorious service aboard Galactica, I hereby promote you to the rank of Vice-Admiral effective with the date of your retirement. A grateful humanity thanks you for your service."

"It's all I ever wanted to do, Admiral. To serve." He saluted the head of the UED and stepped back.

Wheeler then approached Admiral Louis Hoshi. "Admiral, congratulations on a job well done. I extend to you now the permanent rank of Fleet Admiral, with all the rights and privileges thereof, and I offer you the permanent command of The Battlestar Galactica. Think you can get used to the name?"

Hoshi smiled and smartly saluted. "I accept your offer, Admiral Wheeler. And I think it won't take long to learn the name again." The assembled applauded both Tigh and Hoshi.

After the ceremony, a reception was held in the other hangar bay. Lee made his way over toward Saul and Ellen Tigh. It was time to make the past right, for both of them.

When Lee came into his sight, Tigh stiffened and saluted. "Admiral, sir!" He said neatly. "Can I help you?"

"As you were, Commander-I mean Vice-Admiral." Lee said with a grin.

"I'm not there yet, Lee. Until they let me out, I'm just a Commander. THEN my pension comes at the Vice Admiral rate."

"You've earned it, Tigh."

"Thank you, sir."

Lee shook his head. "You don't ever have to call me sir. You were an officer when I was still in diapers. We butted heads on more than a few occasions, Commander. And it took me a long time to see things clearly. Maybe it's because you turned out to be a skin job that colored my sight. I don't know. But I look back now and there was no one-NO ONE-who was more loyal, and dedicated and protective of Galactica or my father than you. I can't even make that claim, for god's sake. Even after you discovered your true origins, you never wavered in your duty and your loyalty."

"Well, Lee, the moment I found out I was a frackin' Toaster, I told Galen, Sam and Tory that I didn't want to change who I was. I had always wanted to be a Colonial Officer and I was going to remain a Colonial Officer. And I did."

"And my father was damned proud of you for it, Saul". Lee shook the older man's hands. "He really was."

"Lee", Ellen Tigh interjected. "Sometimes I felt jealous of your father because Saul was so loyal to him, but your father may have been the greatest Colonial officer ever. I think he's proud of both of you, don't you think?"

Lee smiled back at Ellen. "I think he is Ellen. It's just hard to let him go."

"I understand, Lee. But he'll always be with you."

Ellen leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek. Then Commander Tigh took one step back, came to rigid attention, and silenced the room: "ATTENTION ON DECK. Admiral Pegasus, present!" And he snapped off a salute that would have knocked Bill Adama over.

Lee looked around for a moment, as all the officers had followed Tigh's lead. He turned back to Saul, stiffened, and gave a long slow salute the his father's XO.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Epilogue

FOUR MONTHS LATER

Kara was flying the President in a Raptor towards Honolulu. It was serving as the temporary home of the UED while San Diego was being rebuilt. It hadn't suffered a nuclear attack, but she had been pretty well turned to rubble. It would be long, slow work, but San Diego, and many cities like her around the globe, were coming to grips with the monumental task ahead of them.

The President was reading over some of the latest intelligence of the war's aftermath. The numbers were staggering: 151 cities worldwide destroyed by nuclear weapons. Thousands of other destroyed with conventional weapons. The monetary amount of the damage was incalculable, and may never be added up to any degree.

But the numbers that had sickened him were the number of the dead and wounded. By latest reckoning, Three billion had been wounded in the conflict. Most would survive. Some would succumb. And by latest count, the planet had lost 2.7 billion of its citizens. The first time the President had been given the preliminary numbers, he had had to excuse himself, as he had to run to the bathroom to vomit. He knew it would be high, but hearing the figures shattered him.

Earth had gone from 7.4 billion inhabitants to 4.7 billion. A third of the population of the planet. He had told the people of the planet the price would be high. It was, with a vengeance.

He pulled out that piece of paper he had written on just before leaving the now-destroyed White House. He had pulled it out more than several times during the conflict and afterward, adding more words to those few words first scribbled at The Resolute Desk. It was no longer a simple thought, and it was no longer a few words: it was a call to action that would sweep mankind in a new direction if mankind accepted his challenge. He would present it the next day at the UED meetings that were taking place over the next week.

The trip was uneventful. Both he and Kara were quiet and lost in thought. Kara was now a Commander, and soon to be in charge of all Earth Raptor, Falcon, and Viper forces. She would be responsible for training, recruiting, and even research and development on future fighters. She was as at peace as she ever had been. The war, as destructive as it was, and with as much as had been lost, was a salvation for her, and she knew it. She was a new person. And she intended to live a life that would live up to the miracle that she had been given. She knew she'd push future Nuggets hard, but she knew she would also instill in them a sense of humanity that had taken her two wars to find.

She had reluctantly resigned her post as the President's Military Liaison. But both knew that the gift she had received in return was far more important.

The first meeting came at 9 am the following morning. This first discussion would be on the future of Pegasus and Galactica, and the Raptor "Pickets" that would be Earth's early-warning network. No one had gone beyond those parameters. No one had really thought further than that. And Justin Bond fully understood that. The toll of the war was about all anyone could process right now. They just haven't had a lot of time to think far into the future.

No one but the American President, that is.

The conference would last several hours on this subject. Questions and comments had been welcome and would get a hearing with UED brass. Most nations had sent at least one delegate to this get-together. And everyone would probably have their own ideas, some being accepted, some discarded, as the flow of time and events meandered on.

As expected, the meeting began predictably. Admiral Wheeler updated the throng on the repairs to both ships. Pegasus had landed, and, after about 3 weeks, had been fully repaired and sent back into her orbit. Then Victory had come down. Her "VICTORY" nameplate finally got removed but would be enshrined eventually, and the name "GALACTICA" finally went up on the new girl. She didn't have a lot of repairs that were needed, but her cosmetics were finally finished, and what few repairs she needed, were completed, and in two weeks she was back on station.

The Picket ring was about three-quarters complete. New Raptors were being fitted for this duty, and there would be a complete two-deep ring in depth around earth within five months. Kara was already working with UED research on a Second Generation Raptor that would be bigger and have far more capabilities.

Those assembled had sundry questions and comments about the two ships, and the Raptor pickets , as well as whether Fleet fighters would be built in their nations. All of this, the President mused, was important, in and of itself, but was not why he had come here. No one in the world knew what he had brought with him.

After about two hours, he raised his hand. Admiral Wheeler saw him and nodded his way.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I give the floor to the Honorable and Distinguished President of The United States!"

The room, and the galleries above erupted with warm, approving applause for the man who had help steel the world's resolve before the conflict. He walked toward the lectern, where Wheeler saluted him and shook his hand, and the Admiral then took his seat.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, it is good to see so many of you together, in peace, working to pick up the pieces of our world after this war", he said with genuine and heartfelt warmth. "It heartens me that we have so many fine, energetic and dedicated people who will help bring this world back to her full glory."

More applause greeted him. You ain't heard nothing yet, folks, he thought serenely.

"We have come through the most traumatic time in the history of this planet. We suffered grievous losses. We have lost fully one-third of our planet's citizens. One-third. Together with the Cylon destruction of the Colonies over a decade ago, that adds up to the loss of over twenty-three BILLION human beings. Ladies and gentlemen, let that sink in for a moment before I continue."

The room was deathly still. Putting it in those terms was shattering to everyone, but, like the shrewd politician that he was, he also knew that such stark terms would help them grasp what he was about to lay before them.

"But we survived. We've won the war, now we have to, as the old saying goes, 'win the peace'". He paused to take a sip of water. "I believe I have the outlines of how to win that peace.

"Just before leaving Washington for the very last time, I sat down behind The Resolute Desk, took out a piece of paper from the desk drawer, and wrote down these words: 'Defense alone is no longer an option.' I didn't know at the time exactly what it meant, but I knew, as we all did, that we would pay a huge price, even in victory, and we have.

"I've had some time, during brief lulls in my days since leaving Washington, to give shape to that sentence. It's pretty simple, but what does it mean, 'Defense alone is no longer an option?

"We were defended by three magnificent Battlestars. One gave its life for this planet. And her Admiral, my close friend, also gave his life that we might prevail. We were defended by legions aircraft, soldiers on the ground, naval personnel at sea. Many of those also gave their last, full measure of devotion to humanity.

"But where does it leave us? With 2.7 billion dead here, another twenty-one billion or so on the Colonies. If this was the price of victory, what would the price of defeat look like?"

That statement left the room silent as well, so he plunged ahead.

"I don't believe that simple defense of this planet is any longer sufficient, though defend it we must. On thirteen worlds, we've lost billions in the last decade and a half, as counted here on Earth. There could be human beings still out there. But we don't know that. How, in the face of such losses, can mankind continue not only survive but prosper?"

Another long sip of water this time. "I am proposing for consideration today by United Earth Defense, and also I will ask for its consideration in the United Nations, the following multi-pronged effort for the long-term defense of Earth, and the long-term survival and prosperity of humanity:

"First, I do not believe a simple Raptor patrol in rings around our system to be adequate. If we are ever to forestall casualties like we suffered in this war, we must have a stronger, more robust defense of our homeworld, and as we reach to colonize them, Mars and the Moon as well. I am proposing the building of another eightten Battlestars of the size of Pegasus and Galactica. Those Battlestars will give Earth a lethal defense-in-depth, so that it will be nary impossible for another foe that might be out there, to approach the planet.

"The construction of these Terran Class Battlestars, as I call them, should begin as soon as possible. Some will say, and with some truth 'We don't know if anyone else is out there. We don't know if we'll ever face this again.' There is merit to that line of thinking. But let me reply to that justifiable line of thought: what if we do have to face it again? What if we encounter an even more lethal foe? Humanity itself, we know now, has roots on 13thirteen planets, and that we have both faced a mechanical foe that nearly ended our race. We must always hope for the best but MUST always prepare for the worst.
"But that is not all."

He paused to let his words sink in. The room was silent, but not in grief now, but in curiosity and fascination of what he was laying before them.

"I propose that a second fleet of Battlestars also be built. These would be larger vessels, whose primary responsibilities would be twofold: First, to send scouting parties back to the Colonies, to ascertain the condition of the planets and of the people remaining behind, then returning to Earth where plans can be made to begin their reconstruction, and the re-population of our worlds there, and to re-establish human civilization."

This time, his words were met with thunderous, overwhelming applause. The attendees roared their approval. Listening to the President in his quarters on Pegasus, Lee Adama smiled and knew his father would have approved. It got him thinking as well.

"Just as the Cylons did not defeat us here on Earth, they will not defeat us back at The Colonies. We owe a debt of honor to the survivors there to help them work towards a day where simply mere survival isn't acceptable, but where mankind can thrive once again."
The applause rippled across the room.

"But there's another task which I propose for this fleet of what I have nicknamed the Colonial Class Battlestars. I hate to borrow from Earth's love of Science Fiction, but it only fair that I quote Gene Roddenberry, the founder of 'Star Trek' here. We need to go on a mission to find new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations. Not merely for curiosity's sake, but for the sake of mankind. If there is other life in the Universe, and our very existence from thirteen different planets tells us there must be, then we should find others who want to live in peace and promote knowledge and understanding.

"But more importantly than even that, they would be on journey's to find new, uninhabited
worlds, that could support human life. We have lost billions human beings on thirteen planets. The more planets mankind can peacefully live on, the better chance we have for long-term survival as a people."

The room erupted again. No one had expected this, and he was unsure how it would be received, but they were warming up to this bold new idea. He continued. "There is an old American saying: 'don't put all your eggs in one basket, in case it breaks.' Well, we inhabit 13 planets, and history tells us, now, that we need to spread our race out into the galaxy to even more planets.

"Along with the Colonial Class Battlestars, we would also need various support ships, as well. I envision a class of scientific vessel that could escort these Battlestars, which could be the hub of scientific research, diplomacy with other worlds, should we find them, the home to a fleet government, and in mapping out and finding worlds we can inhabit in peace.

"What I am proposing here today is a long-term commitment by the people of this planet, to spread its collective wings and become far more than we are today. I've proposed the construction of perhaps forty Battlestars alone as a beginning, not as an end but as simply the beginning. But the commitment would have to go on for centuries, as we find new technologies, build better vessels, that can travel further and faster. And with it, we would commit ourselves and our posterity to an unlimited, peaceful future.

"I know this is a lot to take in, my friends." He smiled at them, and they laughed in return. "And I don't take what I have said lightly. Nor do I expect that we will have unanimity and commitment this day, or this year, on what I have spoken of. But I earnestly ask for your consideration.

He began his conclusion. "During the war, someone very dear to me faced a crisis of faith, about the future of humanity, and her own future. She had told me that she was willing to die for the cause of humanity; that she would give her life so that we would survive. And that nobility flowed through virtually everyone on the planet as well. But I reminded her that it wasn't enough just to have something to fight for: you need something to LIVE FOR." And the room erupted in applause again.

"Well, all of you know how that story has turned out." And now a camera picked up Kara's face at her seat, smiling broadly from the conference table, and met by cheers and applause.

"But it is a story we can all take home with us today. We won the fight. At devastating cost, absolutely. But we will go forward. And as my predecessor, John F. Kennedy once said 'For, in the final analysis, we all breath the same air, we all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal.' But we have something well beyond our own mortal existences to live for, and that's to begin to guide mankind into a future of limitless possibilities here on Earth, on the Twelve Colonies, and on yet-discovered worlds.

"So I ask you, my fellow citizens, to consider the course I have envisioned. Embrace our future, and what it could be, and let us pay in full that debt of honor to all who have died in this war, and who have died on the Colonies.

"Thank you very much."


The next story, Battlestar Galactica: The Omaha Chronicles, is a companion story to this one.
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