Categories > TV > Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica: Departures

by Treadstone17 1 review

It has been twenty-two years since Galactica and the survivors of the Holocaust on the Colonies arrived at Earth. The two civilizations of men have grown together and even fought another cataclysm...

Category: Battlestar Galactica - Rating: G - Genres: Sci-fi - Characters: Gaius Baltar - Published: 2017-06-01 - 13133 words - Complete

1Ambiance
´╗┐BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: DEPARTURES

PROLOGUE

October 29th, 2044, Richmond, Virginia

Admiral Kara Thrace-Bond was in her bedroom at the Bond household in Richmond. She had two weeks off before reporting back to Australia in preparation for the launching of a fleet of fifty-six ships that would be sailing back to the Twelve Colonies in December. She wasn't relaxing; she was studying on her computer, at her desk, taking notes on the latest information that UED had sent her.

The proving run of her ship, the Battlestar Laura Roslin had been a great success, with ship and crew performing far above her expectations. The finale of the proving cruise had been an all-out simulated battle between the Roslin and Lee Adama's ship, the Battlestar William Adama. The two gargantuan Colonial Class Battlestars-the largest Battlestars ever constructed. The two ships would be the anchor of the fleet that would head to The Colonies.

Kara had been in San Diego since the Roslin touched back down in Australia about forty-five days before. UED had scheduled her for some vacation time after the debrief. But this was a "working" vacation, and there was very little of the "vacation" part involved.

By reckoning on Earth, she had just turned fifty years old. She was only twenty-two years younger than both her adoptive parents. Reaching fifty had been a bit of a downer for her, but with Human Beings living longer, healthier lives, there was a good chance she could have another fifty in front of her.

Around 7:30 pm, there was a knock on her door. She looked at her watch, surprised at how late in the day it was, "Come in?"

Her father, former American President Justin Bond, peeked around the door with a smile, "Hey, Admiral, you need a break?"

A warm, broad smile lit up Starbuck's face, "Why, yes, as a matter of fact, Mr. President, I do!", she chuckled, "pull up that chair next to me." Even after all these years of first serving with him as his UED Liaison when he was President of The United States, and afterward when he and Judy Bond had adopted her, all the way to this moment, she was still in awe of the man.

Justin Bond grabbed the other chair and sat backward in it, with his arms on the back, and chin on his arms. The former American Commander-In-Chief was seventy-one years old, having been in the forefront of U.S and world politics for the last quarter century. He had been the steadying voice of the planet both when Galactica had arrived at Earth in 2022, and again in 2027 during the Earth-Cylon war.

In 2043, UED had offered him, and he had accepted, the post of Governor of the first United Earth Defense deep space mission. The first mission was to set sail in just under four months for The Twelve Colonies.

But he almost hadn't lived to see that day approaching.

Nine months earlier, he had been critically wounded in a terrorist attack spearheaded by Noel "Narcho" Allison and Diana "Hardball" Seelix in Sioux City, the Capital of the tiny nation of New Caprica, that sat in the middle of the American heartland. He had suffered a broken left arm in an explosion that had claimed the life of New Caprican President Brendan Costanza, and later that day had been shot in the right clavicle, just above his lung by Diana Seelix.

Even with modern medicine and advances in surgical methods, it had taken him three months to fully regain use of both his arms and was still undergoing some physical therapy. But there was no way in Heaven he wasn't going to The Colonies. Allison had been shot and killed by a Sioux City Police Officer on that day. As for Diana Seelix, she had been tried and convicted for her part in the plot. Her death sentence was currently on appeal before the New Caprican Supreme Court.

The soon-to-be Governor had named Admiral Caprica Baltar to be the military Commander of his flagship. She had put together the CIC crew in the last few months. Like himself, Caprica had been seriously injured in the terrorist attacks that January, although her injuries hadn't been as severe, and had fully recovered by the end of March. Her husband, Doctor Gaius Baltar would lead the team of scientists on the fleet. His primary mission would be when they arrived at The Colonies, which would be to determine the state of the planets some twenty-seven years after the Holocaust, and to gauge the health of the people still on those worlds.

Part of the journey would take place over areas and space not covered by the fleet all those years ago, and if there were any phenomena of unknown origin on their journey, they would study those as much as possible.

"What's the latest from UED?", he inquired of his adopted daughter.

"They're adjusting our course out of the Solar System a little; Hoshi says the navigators think it'll save us a bit of time leaving the system. Other than that, not a lot, dad", she said, putting her notebook and pen down on her computer desk.

"I know the drill, babe", he said with a wry smile, "I'm doing the same thing. I get updates almost every day now on some tinkering or another with what the law will be when we sail; food allocations; updated passenger lists for the civilian part of the fleet." He sighed just as his daughter did.

"In other words-bureaucracy?", Kara said with a wink.

The former President chuckled, "I'll bet even the Cavil's had to deal with bureaucracy of one kind or another", he offered, "you can't run a government without it, unfortunately."

"Have you made a decision on which Deep Space Explorer will be your Flagship?" The Deep Space Explorer vessels would serve as the platforms for government, recreation, the arts, and diplomacy once they arrived at The Colonies. For every Battlestar that sailed, three Deep Space Explorers would accompany them.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I have", he sat up in the chair for a moment. The soon-to-be-Fleet Governor had six ships to choose from and UED had allowed him to name the first-ever fleet of DSE's. "I'm going to use the King as my ship", he said, referring to the Deep Space Explorer Martin Luther King, Jr. "I can't think of a better man to honor on a mission to help humanity."

Kara had learned a lot about American history since her parents had adopted her back in 2027, and she was now well-versed in the history of one of the two nations in which she had citizenship, "Hear, hear", she said approvingly, "I think 'I have a dream' is a perfect description of what we're going to do."

"I'll have to remember that, sweetie, when I make the farewell speech", making a mental note of what Kara had said. And he would remember it.

"Want a drink, dad?", Kara asked. She had a small mini-fridge in the corner of her room, "I've got some Pepsi in there."

"Sure, toss me one, Kara", he said with a smile. "Something stronger would be nice, but I'll take that, thank you very much."

Kara grabbed two out of the refrigerator and handed one to her dad, and they both twisted their bottle tops off. Admiral Thrace paused for a moment, then looked up at her father, "Dad, it's going to be so hard leaving Nick and Abby behind", she said in a quiet voice, "I'm dreading that part of this."

"I know, honey, so are your mother and I", he said with more than a little sadness on his face, "They backed our decision a hundred percent, but it's got to be killing them."

Kara got up and turned her chair around backward, and inched hers until it touched the back of her father's chair. She put her right hand on his forearm, "Of course they did, they weren't going to say 'no', and we both know that", she sighed again, "and the truth is, if our places were reversed and they were going, we wouldn't have stood in their way."

"True", he conceded, "I hadn't thought of it quite like that", he said, grabbing his daughter's hand. "But like you, I'm not looking forward to leaving them."

They both took several swigs from their drinks and quietly sat next to one another. After a few minutes, the former President spoke up, "Hey, why don't you come downstairs and grab some dinner with me?", he inquired, "Your mom won't be back from Florida till late tonight, and I could use the company."

"Why not", she said in mock disappointment, which made her father chuckle, "it sure as hell beats having my nose buried in this computer."

The two of them got up and headed downstairs. As they reached the kitchen, Starbuck put one arm around her father, "I'm glad you and mom are going, though", she smiled, "I couldn't bear leaving my entire family behind."

"I'm glad we're going, too", he said, kissing her on top of the head and squeezing her, "and I think we're gonna make more than a little history while we're out there."

Kara's face lit up with a smile, "You bet we well, dad", and they clinked their bottles together.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

I

Admiral Lee Adama was in the middle of a working lunch at UED Headquarters in San Diego. He, too, had been offered a vacation, but he chose to remain in San Diego to keep up-to-date on the upcoming flight of the Battlestar William Adama back to The Colonies. Both the Adama and Admiral Thrace-Bond's Laura Roslin would be going together, but Lee being the senior military officer, would be in overall command, and the ship named after his late father would be the Flagship of the fleet.

He had actually turned off his computer screen for a few minutes while eating a BLT, washing it down with a Corona. He couldn't simply keep staring at the computer for hours on end without taking at least a short break. He finished the sandwich and the beer and decided to allow himself to take a one-hour nap on the couch in his Office. He set his alarm, and in five minutes, he was asleep.

He awoke an hour later, feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work until he had a late dinner with Karl and Athena Agathon, who were on shore leave from the Terran Class Battlestar Winston Churchill for two weeks. Lee flipped back on his computer and got back to work.

One of the first items he came across was from his XO, Commander Brevin "Criss" Cross. The native of Vancouver, Canada had replaced Lee's long-time XO, Hideki Torojo. After the shakedown cruise, Torojo had been tabbed to become The Boss of the soon-to-be-launched Terran Class Battlestar Isoruku Yamamoto. In fact, the native of Japan was originally slotted to take the John F. Kennedy but had requested the ship that was named after Japan's famous World War II Admiral.

Today, Brevin didn't have good news.

"Aw, frack me", Lee said in disgusted tones. Cross had sent him an urgent message advising his boss that their CAG, Lieutenant Olivia Dalgaard was resigning her commission. According to his XO, Olivia's wife had been killed in an automobile accident while visiting Munich, Germany, and the native of The Netherlands was going home to bury her partner. She had told the XO she simply couldn't set sail so soon after the death of her spouse. Lee understood that completely, but it put a pinch on him personally.

Now he needed another CAG. And that wasn't the only bad news.

As the overall military commander of the fleet, he was also in charge of selecting and assigning the Medical personnel for each of the fifty-six ships that would be under his guidance and that of Justin Bond as Fleet Governor. Commander Cross informed him that the head doctor who would be aboard the Deep Space Explorer Carl Sagan had decided to retire from UED and take up practice in his hometown in Ohio.

He had other issues to deal with before heading to dinner and wasn't in a great mood when heading to A.R. Valintien At The Lodge At Torrey Pines Country Club, North of San Diego to meet the Agathon's.

He hadn't seen his friends in well over a year, and he forgot his problems for a moment and warmly greeted the two comrades who had been through thick-and-thin with him all those years ago on Galactica.

"How's life these days on the Old Winnie", Lee said after they were seated, referring to the nickname for the Winston Churchill.

"Pretty routine, Lee", the ship's Boss, Admiral Karl Agathon offered, "Picket duty in the Solar System isn't exactly exciting, but I still wouldn't trade having my own ship for anything."

"You would prefer the Cylons come back again to make it more exciting, Helo?", his Cylon wife Athena Agathon teased him.

"Nooooooo!", Karl said with a laugh, "I'll take the boring routine over another war, thank you very much, Mrs. Agathon", which caused them all to laugh.

They continued talking shop, both about the Churchill and the Adama. Eventually, the conversation did get steered to the personnel woes that had befallen Lee that very afternoon.

"So now, I'm short a CAG and a Doctor", he said gruffly, then raised his hand, "I know guys, we change personnel all the time, but Olivia is a fantastic CAG and Doctor Ruvillo isn't exactly old."

"Never a dull moment when at the top, sir", Karl said sympathetically. "That's why they pay us the big bucks."

"I know, Helo, but I lift off in just over two months, and now I have to look for a new CAG. I can't be breaking in a rookie CAG when heading back home, guys." The doctor part didn't bother him as much, but the CAG part could be a major headache.

"There's a helluva lot of good jocks to choose from in the fleet, Admiral", Athena said hopefully, "You'll make the right choice, sir."

"Kara has Sundown as her CAG, and she's one of the better jocks that have come along in a while", Lee was referring to Lieutenant Cory Mathers, a fiery redhead who was from Virginia. "That's what I need. I won't have time to break in someone new."

Just then Karl got a small smile on his face-the one that showed he had thought or heard something very good.

"What are you smirking at, Karl", his wife said, rolling her eyes and smiling. She had seen that look millions of times, she could swear.

"Well, Lee, I think I have a candidate in mind. He's an experienced CAG, and I think he'll fit in nicely with your fleet."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Four Days Later

The Battlestar Winston Churchill was doing duty in the mid-range picket line, in an orbit between Jupiter and Saturn. Her XO was currently in Command while The Boss and his missus took a well-earned vacation. Rudi Beck was well-respected and well-liked among the crew of the Old Winnie, a combination that was hard to beat. Rumors were swirling that he could be tabbed for command of either one of the two next Colonial Class Battlestars, the Caprica, or the Libra, that were to come off the line in 2046, or possibly one of the next two Terran Class Battlestars, namely the Otto Von Bismarck or the John F. Kennedy.

It was 1930, Fleet Standard Time, which was in sync with Pacific Standard Time, where UED headquarters was located. He had about three more hours that he wanted to put in before calling it a "day".

"Commander", said the Signals Officer, "incoming message from UED Headquarters. No priority attached."

"Thank you, Major Mfume", and the XO brought up his computer terminal to read the message. He raised his eyebrows on reading the message that came under Admiral Hoshi's name, "Heilige Scheisse" he said in the German equivalent of "Holy shit". "Lieutenant Cross, contact the CAG and have him meet me in my quarters as soon as he can."

"Aye, commander".

The Churchill's CAG, Lieutenant Nicholas "Axman" Bond was currently in the Port side hangar, sitting in the cockpit of his Falcon while two mechanics were working on his bird. He was the forty-one-year-old son of the former American President Justin Bond, and like his famous father and his famous adopted sister, Admiral Kara Thrace-Bond, he was a fighter jock. He had come up through the ranks of the United States Air Force, flying the F-22 and the F-35 before following in his older sister's footsteps and into UED flying the Falcon, which had replaced the venerable Viper during the Earth-Cylon War.

"Nikolai, there still seems to be some drift in the gyro; it's still not lining up properly", he mentioned as he toyed with his instruments, "maybe the whole frickin' unit has to be replaced."

"Da, Lieutenant, I was hoping to do that as a last resort, but this damn thing seems to be fracked up beyond the point of no return", the mechanic said in frustration.

"See if the Chief wants to pull it", he advised the Russian, "if I have to go up for some reason I can take Falcon 59. She just came back out of the shop this morning."

"Got it, Boss", and the mechanic left to consult with The Chief. Nick Bond stayed behind trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with the infernal thing. Just then, an Ensign approached his ship and climbed the latter towards the Cockpit, "Sir, the XO says he needs to see you in his quarters ASAP."

"Thank you, Ensign." The CAG got up and yelled to another mechanic nearby, "Hey Felder, let Nikolai I have to go see the XO. Let him know to keep working on this piece of junk!" He slid down the rails and headed to see the XO. He was there in under seven minutes.

He knocked on Commander Beck's door. "Enter", the XO said in his accented English.

"Reporting as ordered, sir", and he saluted the second-in-command.

"Come on in Nick", the XO waved him into the chair across from his, "want anything to drink, Lieutenant?"

"If you have a bottle of cold water in that fridge that would do the trick, sir." Beck got up, pulled the bottle out of the unit and tossed it to Lieutenant Bond.

"I hear you're still having trouble with the gyro's on your Falcon?" Beck made sure he was always up to snuff on what was going on with the Falcons and Raptors.

"Yes, sir, it seems that the whole unit is bad", he said with some disgust, "The crew is thinking about pulling the entire unit and replacing it. That's a whole days' work. I've got dibs on 59 if it takes any longer than that."

"That sounds like a plan, Nick", he said approvingly. "Although you may not need that particular bird much longer, Axman", he said cryptically to the CAG.

"Sir?", Lieutenant Bond said, mentally scratching his head, "I don't understand".

Rudy pulled out a sheet of paper from his desk. It was the printed version of the message he had received a short while ago from Admiral Hoshi. "Do you know Olivia Dalgaard?" he asked evenly.

"Tulip?", he said, referring to her positively Danish Call Sign, "Yeah, she's CAG on the Adama, isn't she?", he said, trying to make sure he was right, "What about her?"

"Seems her wife was killed in an auto accident in Munich about a week ago", he said sadly, "She's resigning her commission for now and going back to The Netherlands to be with her family. I can't say as I blame her. Losing a spouse like that is never easy."

"Damn", Nick almost whispered the reply, "I met Elisa a few years back when she and Olivia were at a party in London. She seemed like a wonderful lady."

"From everything I heard, you are correct", he agreed, "but it's now an official headache for Admiral Adama, and the mission to The Colonies only two months off."

"That's a lousy time to have to break in a new CAG, sir", Axman said sympathetically, "especially when getting ready for a twelve-year mission. You have any idea who Admiral Adama is looking at?"

"Yes, I do, now that you mentioned it", and he now slid that piece of paper across the desk for his CAG to read. Nick scanned the message and after a few seconds turned a few more shades of pale.

"Holy shit!", he said, a mixture of shock and dawning excitement commingling in his mind, "I'm being transferred to the Adama, sir?"

Beck stood up and Nick followed suit, "Congratulations Commander. I know this isn't a real promotion, but I think your mother, your father, and your sister the Admiral will be quite please, no?", he shook the Lieutenant's hand, with a broad grin on his face.

Nick felt light-headed at the news, but then snapped back at the thought of something that he didn't like at all. "What about Abby?", he said, referring to his sister, "She'll be left behind..."

Rudi Beck's smile got broader.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

II

"Alright, Jessica, your ankle is healing nicely, but I think you need another two or three weeks in that cast." Doctor Abby Bond-Crieder told her latest patient, "Have Monica make you an appointment and I'll see you back in just under a month", the doctor smiled at the young lady in front of her.

"Thanks, Doctor Crieder. I'd rather be out of it now, but what's another three week?", she sighed with a smile and left the office.

Doctor Crieder was Orthopedic Physician and Surgeon with the Cleveland Clinic, and the youngest child of former American President and First Lady Justin and Judith Bond. At the age of thirty-six, she was still relatively new at the surgery part, having finished her residency at the Clinic that was located east of downtown Cleveland in 2041. Even at her young age, she was a well-respected member of the staff at one of the world's preeminent health care facilities.

And like her fighter jock brother Nick, she hadn't leaned on the fame of her family name or family members to get to where she was. She had forged her path to becoming a doctor and a surgeon through hard work and a desire to learn. She was married to Brett Crieder, who was Vice-President for Business and Community Engagement at the Greater Cleveland Partnership, one of the largest Chamber of Commerce organizations in the United States.

They had one child, a five-year-old girl named Katraine, who had been named after the legendary Viper pilot Louanne "Kat" Katraine, who had served with Abby's sister Kara more than twenty years earlier aboard the Battlestar Galactica. Living in a modest but well-appointed home in the Southeast suburb of Solon, they were truly living the often-elusive American Dream.

Keeping the dream meant a lot of long hours for both she and her husband. Katraine had just begun Nursery School, which had taken some of the responsibility for Katraine's daily care from Brett's parents. After seeing about thirty patients this day, Abby left her office at the Clinic around 6:30 pm for the thirty-five minute drive to her house in Solon. She had to stop at her in-laws who picked up Katraine every weekday after school and head home. Brett was at a dinner in downtown Cleveland that evening, so it was just she and Katraine for a while.

"Katraine, I hope you had a good day at school?", she asked as the young child ripped her shoes off her feet."

"Yes, mommy, it was a good day. Mrs. Fairchild had a lady from the libary in to read us some books!", an activity that Abby approved of, although she smiled at the mispronunciation of the word "library" that seemed to afflict every five-year-old.

"That's wonderful, honey!", she exclaimed to her only child, "why don't you get changed into your jammies for later and you can tell me about the books while we eat dinner." Katraine scooted off to her room to change for the evening, while Abby put some fish in the oven for a quick meal.

Katraine always seemed to be hungry, and she wolfed down the fish and the french fries that went with them in what had to be record time. She told her mommy all about the books and her day at school, and by about 8:45 pm, the young girl's eyes began to droop. Abby got her a small bowl of pistachio pudding before bed and had Katraine under the covers by 9:15.

Now Abby could unwind for a while. She fetched a wine glass and poured herself about three fingers of Merlot to bleed the stress of the day away. Her mother had done that all her adult life and Abby was just like her mother in almost every way.

Around 9:45, her cell phone rang. The screen showed a 619 area code, which wasn't familiar to her, but as a Doctor and surgeon, you always had to answer your phone. "Hello, this is Doctor Crieder.", she said politely.

"Doctor Crieder, this is Admiral Louis Hoshi with United Earth Defense in San Diego", the voice said on the other side of the country, "I hope I am not interrupting you in any way this evening?"

"No, Admiral, I had just put my daughter to bed and was just unwinding from the day", she paused for a moment, "Is there a problem Admiral?" A normal question for a woman whose brother was a UED Falcon pilot, whose sister was Admiral of a Battlestar, and whose father would soon become a Fleet Governor on the voyage to The Colonies.

"No, nothing is wrong, I assure you, Abby", Louis dropped the formalities after the introduction. He was a long-time friend of Justin Bond, and Abby had met him on numerous occasions, "all is well with the Bond clan with the fleet."

"Thank you, Admiral", she said somewhat sheepishly, "someone has to watch out for those three hellions", she said with a sly smile, which made Hoshi laugh.

"You won't get an argument from me, Doctor", Abby could hear some papers rustling on the other end, "Actually, I'm calling about something that has arisen in the last few days that might be of interest to you."

Abby had an incredible amount of respect for UED and Admiral Hoshi, who was every bit as honorable a man as her father was, in her estimation, but she had never wanted to be a jock or part of a life in space. She couldn't imagine what might be of interest to her in that regard, beyond the comings and goings of her family members.

Of course, she didn't put it that way to the Admiral, "I'm always interested in the doings of UED, Admiral, for obvious reasons. I'm all ears", she said with a formal politeness.

"Good, Doctor", and Hoshi plunged into it, "About a week ago I received a message from Admiral Adama, who is currently out in Honolulu on a working vacation."

The mention of Lee Adama made Abby smile. Apollo was almost another member of her family. Her father and his had become fast friends after the Colonists arrived at Earth, and it had hit not only her father but the entire Bond family hard when Bill Adama died on the last day of the Earth-Cylon war. Like her brother Nick, Lee had always been very protective of Abby, out of both respect for Justin Bond and probably because if he didn't, her older sister might kick his butt.

"How is Lee, sir?", she inquired, "I haven't seen him since the day he and Kara left on their proving run", she said, recalling that incredible day in Australia.

"He's doing very well, Doctor", Louis assured her, "and he told me to send you his love when I called."

Hoshi could almost hear Abby smile on the other end, "as I was saying, a situation has developed. About a week ago, the Head Doctor and Surgeon who was to be assigned to the Deep Space Explorer Carl Sagan. He decided he wanted to retire from UED and to head back to Ohio, if you can believe that, to go into private practice. Lee is currently looking for a replacement."

Abby figured her almost-brother was looking for some names that she could toss out to Hoshi for consideration, and she would be glad to help both Admirals. "I could send you a list of Doctors and Surgeons that I think would be highly qualified to serve as Chief Medical Officer on the Sagan, sir."

"Actually, Abby, I called there was another problem that arose at the same time. Lee's CAG aboard the Adama resigned her position also about a week ago. Her wife was killed in an automobile accident in Germany, and she just can't handle leaving for a decade this close to her spouse's death."

"When it rains, it pours, sir", she said with no small amount of sympathy, "Lee doesn't need all this going on two months from launch."

"That's true, but it's why he gets paid the big money to sit in that chair", Hoshi paused to take a sip of water, "Because of that, Admiral Agathon aboard the Churchill indicated to Lee that he would allow your brother Nick to transfer as CAG on the Adama."

That stopped Abby cold, and she instantly understood the meaning of the phone call, "Wait a second, Admiral...you want to offer me the Chief Medical Officer position aboard the Carl Sagan...don't you?"

"Very perceptive of you, Doctor", it's a logical choice, what with your whole family lined up to head to the Colonies", he said, leaning back in his chair, "I thought it only proper that I give you first right of refusal for the position."

"Wow", the physician said, at a loss for words for the moment, glad that she was sitting down, "I mean, that would be a great honor, sir. And I won't lie that I'd be heartbroken if my entire family sailed away for a dozen years without me", and there was no lie in that statement. "I've never had the itch to go gallivanting off in space, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

"Believe me, Abby, I'm more than a bit jealous I won't be going, but my duty currently his here on Earth", he said with a sigh.

"Have you discussed this with my father and with Kara?", she said, wondering if they had pulled in some favors to get her the offer. Part of her would be upset at that, as she always had wanted to pull her own weight, but part of her couldn't blame them, either.

"As of this moment, Doctor, neither President Bond nor Admiral Thrace-Bond have any clue about Nick going to Lee's bird or my offer to you", he assured her again, "The media loves concocting scandals, and despite how popular you parents and your sister are, the would love to take pot-shots at them if they arranged all of this. In fact", he concluded, "all this was really Helo's idea."

That made perfect sense to Abby, now that she stopped to think about it. Her dad had a thick political skin and wouldn't mind any hits he took, but he had always been protective of his children's reputations since the day he became President. Kara? No one loved or idolized Kara more than Abby did, but even she had to admit that Kara wasn't as...diplomatic, when either she or especially her father or any member of the Bond family was criticized.

"Obviously, Admiral Hoshi", she said as she thought it through, "I have to talk about this with Brett. He has his own career and I don't have the right to accept without his blessing. And we also have to think about Katraine as well", she noted.

"I understand that Doctor", he informed her, "I wouldn't want it any other way. But if he agrees; and if you think you can make it work for your daughter, would you be inclined to accept the offer?"

"Admiral, as I said, it would break my heart if I lost my entire family for over a decade", she said in stark honesty, "I hate to break it down to that, but it's the truth. If Brett and I can come to an agreement on it, then, yes, I will accept."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

III

Two Weeks Later, UED Headquarters, San Diego

In three days' time, Admiral Thrace-Bond would be leaving to board the Battlestar Laura Roslin in preparation for the lift-off for The Twelve Colonies just after Christmas. Her mother and father, Judy and Justin Bond, would be heading to the Arizona desert at the same time and be housed in close proximity to the Deep Space Explorer Martin Luther King, Jr.

Admiral Hoshi had called together Justin, Judy and Kara Bond, along with Lee Adama, Caprica and Gaius Baltar and Admiral Galen Tyrol to a meeting at the headquarters. Galen was still in overall charge of the construction of every ship in the UED Fleet and had become, perhaps next to Hoshi, the most powerful figure at UED.

There were going over last-minute details before heading their separate ways-at least until most of them were in space. The Deep Space Explorers, medical ships, missile frigates, Falcon Carriers and other sundry ships were scheduled to leave their Shipyards in staggered departures between December 12th and December 22nd, then on the 29th, the two Battlestars would join them, form up, and on January 3rd, they would set sail for The Colonies.

"Once in formation, as per our Op Plan, the two Battlestars will be in front of the formation, approximately five-hundred kilometers apart; five of the Deep Space Explorers between them, about twenty kilometers in between, then the rest of the ships in designated formation behind the main ships", Hoshi said, just as a refresher on where everyone would be. "The King, being the civilian flagship will be just in front of the two Battlestars as the lead vessel when departing."

"I'll race you, Admiral Baltar", Kara said with a wink, looking over at the military Commander of the DSE Martin Luther King, Jr. Caprica tried to keep a straight face but failed miserably as everyone else in the room let out soft laughter.

"You think this is a drag race, Starbuck?", Lee laughed, trying to imagine the first three ships darting out at Warp Fifteen, leaving everyone else behind. "I think I'd leave all of you in the dust."

Hoshi didn't mind the banter, as everyone was getting keyed up for the journey and this lessened the tension, but he soon brought them back to the business at hand.

"I have a few other items to go over", as he turned over one leaf of paper and placed another in his hands, "As you all know, Lieutenant Dalgaard tendered her resignation as CAG aboard the Adama, after the death of her wife. Lieutenant Hera Agathon represented UED at the services in The Netherlands", he said with no enthusiasm about the situation, "Obviously, Lee needed a new CAG."

"Unfortunately, this came up so close to launch, and it was agreed that it wasn't the time to break in a rookie for the position, so an experienced CAG was offered to us." Lee nodded to the security guard at the door, who opened the door.

Everyone turned to see who would appear before them, and when they did, Kara and her parents' jaws hit the floor.

Lee looked over at them and broke into a large smile, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to present to you the new CAG of the William Adama, Lieutenant Nicholas 'Axman' Bond."

Judy Bond, ever the mother, couldn't help blurting out first, "Nick!", and she got up and went over to hug her son, "You're coming with us!", she said beaming from ear to ear.

"Well, not 'with' you, mom, but in the fleet", he said, slightly embarrassed that mom had made a small scene, "Admiral Adama owns me on this mission", he said lightly, which brought general laughter around the table.

Justin Bond got up, and went over to his son, "Congratulations, son", he said, shaking the younger man's hand, and clapping his other hand on Nick's shoulder, "Welcome aboard, Lieutenant", the former American President said, barely controlling his emotions.

Kara got up and walked over towards her "little" brother, shaking her head with a enormous grin on her face, "So, Axman, looks like you'll get to The Colonies sooner than you thought", she said, saluting her brother, who returned the honor, "Don't look to me to bail you out, kid", she said, at last giving him a hug.

"Gee, Kara, I thought I was going along to keep you out of trouble!", which got him a good-natured stare down from his older sister. Lee tried to stifle a guffaw but miserably failed, which got him the same stare down.

After a few moments, Hoshi again reined in the meeting, "A couple of other pieces of business before we adjourn for our dinner", he took a sip of his coffee, "also as most of you know, Doctor Branson also, who was to be Chief Physician on board the Carl Sagan put in for his retirement to go back home to Ohio and take up a practice of his own. So we needed a new physician and surgeon to replace him", he paused with a smile, "and since Branson is going back to Ohio, it's only appropriate that we appropriate a new doctor from Ohio, don't you all think?" Lee and Tyrol, and Nick Bond were in on the news, and they grinned widely, as Hoshi again nodded towards the door. Justin and Judy Bond, along with Kara had their jaws hit the floor again, as they had figured out what was going on.

In walked Doctor Abby Crieder, replete with a Lieutenant's bars on a brand new UED uniform, with a big grin on her face. Kara was the first Bond out of her seat, and she raced up to her sister, "Munchkin!", she yelled, sweeping her little sister up in a hug, as the two sisters laughed hysterically, "I didn't think you ever wanted to have anything to do with UED, kiddo", Kara exclaimed. Her parents were right on her heels to embrace their youngest child.

"I never had a choice but to have something to do with UED, silly Admiral", she said in mock exasperation with her sister, which made Kara laugh, "but I wasn't going to let all of you leave me behind, either."

Judith Bond released her daughter, and posed the question on her mind, "Brett and Katraine? They ARE coming too, aren't they?" She was sure they were, but not seeing them in the room, she had to make sure.

"Yes, mom, they're back at the hotel. Brett and I had a long talk about two weeks ago about it, and we both tendered our resignations", she said, tears in her eyes, knowing she would be close to her beloved family, "Brett isn't quite sure what he'll do while I'm Chief Doc on the Sagan, but he's pretty resourceful.

Galen Tyrol spoke up for the first time, "What was his role with the Cleveland Partnership again?".

"Vice President of Business and Community Engagement, Admiral Tyrol", she replied instantly.

"Governor Bond, if I may, sir", Galen turned to the 46th American President, "I think having someone versed in community outreach would be a valuable position within the Fleet government, don't you?", he said reasonably, "With fifty-six ships, we'll need someone in charge of coordinating news and outreach to everyone."

"Not a bad idea, Galen", Justin Bond said approvingly, "I hadn't really thought about such a position, but on such a long journey, I think that's a fantastic idea", he paused for a moment, "I guess I have my first piece of business with the Quorum after we set sail?"

Judith Bond turned to Louis Hoshi, "Louis, you're going to get some blowback from the media and other quarters when it's announced Nick and Abby are joining the fleet, you know that?", the former First Lady had political instincts every bit as good as her husband and knew when to voice them.

"I know, Judy", but it's nothing I can't handle", he assured her, "In fact, getting Nick and Abby to go was actually Helo's idea, to be quite honest, and he's volunteered to make the formal announcement for both positions", he said with a satisfied smile, "In fact, the Agathon's will be in Australia when Lee and Kara depart, and he'll make the announcement just before lift-off."

"Don't worry about it, babe", her husband offered, "We'll be beyond Jupiter before the media gets to have at us", he turned back to Hoshi, with a mixture of sympathy and amusement, "Sorry Louis, looks like you and Karl will be stuck with the bill on this one."

Admiral Hoshi simply smiled, "Like I said, I can deal with it. It'll blow over quickly."

The tumult died down, and Hoshi brought everyone back for one final piece of business, "I also am going to announce that I've decided to have an overall Commander for the Missile Frigates and Falcon Carriers that will accompany you", her informed them, "I was going to simply have commanders for each ship, but the training has shown me that that will be a bit unwieldy. I've decided to have an Admiral in overall command of the frigates and carriers."

Lee caught on first, "Galen, you're coming with us, aren't you?", as a smile dawned on Lee's face with the realization. He and the Chief (as he would always be known), had had a complicated relationship since the Holocaust. Lee and Tyrol went a long way back and had been friends on Galactica, right up until it was discovered that Galen, like Tory, Sam, Tigh and Ellen were all Cylons. Like just about everyone in the fleet, he couldn't wrap his head around the fact that those five had been, well, the enemy. Even when Galen worked to stop the coup attempt by Felix Gaeta and Tom Zarek, and had actually been the one to stop Galactica from jumping away and leaving half of the civilian fleet behind, it had taken Lee a few years after that before he had come to accept not only Galen but Athena, Saul, Ellen and Caprica as comrades he could trust.

"Yes I am, sir", he said, winking at Lee, "I know-I'm a Cylon, and why the hell would a skin job like me want to go back to The Colonies, but to this day most of what I remember is of the Colonies, guys.", he said with some pride, "What my people did to those worlds was a crime, and I want to help rebuild humanity's civilization there."

No one doubted his words anymore, and they all nodded their heads in assent.

"OK, people, with that, why don't we head down to the main Dining area for The Last Supper?", Hoshi said with some sarcasm. Everyone left the room to the sound of laughter.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

V

UED Shipyard, West Of Phoenix, December 18, 2044

Admiral Hoshi had just sworn Justin Bond as the first-ever Governor of a UED Deep Space Fleet. The new Governor had been aboard his ship for about three weeks prior to launch, getting the feel of his actual flagship, meeting the crew that would serve humanity next to him, and continuing to bone up on the latest doings, not only with the DSE Martin Luther King, Jr, but on the entire fleet that he would lead to The Colonies.

He had been President to more than 340 million people after taking the Oath Of Office in January 2021 in the United States, yet he felt the weight of this command much heavier. This was his vision coming to fruition seventeen years after he had proposed it after the Earth-Cylon War. He had felt since the end of that war that humanity had a debt of honor to repay to the people who still lived on The Colonies, to make their lives more than just mere survival, but to bring true human civilization back to those people. He would be the civilian leader of 73,000 people, yet he knew the hopes of all six and a half billion Human Beings on Earth were on his shoulders.

He had held a brief meeting the morning of the launch with Admiral Caprica Baltar, the military commander of his vessel, and Caprica's XO, Commander Jose Javier Cabelo, a highly skilled pilot from Argentina. They simply went over what the day was to hold for all of them leading up to the launch.

At noon, the ceremony began, with Admiral Louis Hoshi presiding. He would make some opening remarks, then publicly swear in Governor Bond, and then the Governor would make a short address. UED Falcons and Raptors, along with aircraft from the five different branches of the United States military did flyovers to salute the men and woman who would soon be heading towards The Colonies.

After Hoshi's speech, he swore Mr. Bond in again, then the Governor stepped to the microphones. It wasn't a very long speech, and most people would only remember the very end of the speech.

"The man for whom this ship is named for believed in the brotherhood of humanity. And like that Civil Rights pioneer, today I have a dream that we will restore the Twelve Colonies of Kobol to their splendor and glory, to serve as a beacon for all of us.

"And so, my fellow citizens of Earth, we finally begin the journey to repay that debt of honor that is owed to the men, women, and children that today live on our twelve sister planets; we go to re-sow man's benevolent dominion of those worlds, and to guide our brothers and sisters there back into the loving fold of humanity.

"I know we go with your hopes and your blessings for a successful journey. As we depart, my I wish every person on this planet good health and peace, and I pray that we will meet again someday."
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Of the fifty-six vessels that would comprise the fleet, two dozen had gone aloft in the past five days. Today would belong to the six DSE's: the Martin Luther King, Jr; the Nelson Mandela; the Mahatma Gandhi; the Carl Sagan; the Leonardo da Vinci; and the Albert Einstein.

Governor and Mrs. Bond didn't have to say any goodbye's this time-well, not really. It had still been an emotional departure from their children as they had gone to their own ships. Abby Crieder and her family were in Spain, as the Carl Sagan would go aloft almost simultaneously with her sister DSE's. Kara and Nick were in Australia aboard the respective Battlestars, which would fly again in ten days hence. Lee Adama had already planned a big bash onboard the Adama once they were moving away from Earth.

They were in their quarters, relaxing for a short while before the 4 pm departure. Each had a small glass of wine, as they sat in two comfortable chairs. After a healthy sip, Justin Bond looked over at his wife.

"There's still two hours to back out of this babe", he winked at her and raised his wine glass.

Judy Bond laughed delightedly, "Not on your life, Mr. Pres...er, I mean Governor", as she winked back at him. Then for a moment, she became suddenly wistful, "Just think about it, honey: we'll be gone from Earth for a dozen years", she said with no small wonder, "It's funny; nothing seems to change very quickly when you're here day after day. But we're going to return to an entirely different world in twelve years." That thought momentarily overwhelmed the First Lady of the fleet.

"I was thinking the same thing as Hoshi was swearing me in today, babe", he confided to her, "We'll still get news from home, but once we're at the colonies, it'll take about a forty days to reach us", he said with some wonder, "I hope they remember us when we return", he said, only half in jest.

"Oh, they'll remember us, my dear", she said with an impish smile, "I wonder who will change more in this next dozen years: us or the people here on Earth?

Two hours later, right on schedule, Justin and Judy Bond were in CIC with Admiral and Doctor Baltar, as the Martin Luther King, Jr roared into space.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Lee and Kara were in Kara's quarters near their two Battlestars, watching the ceremony from Arizona. If was 9 am and one day later north of Alice Springs, Australia, nine days from their own ascent back into space. As expected, Kara had tears in her eyes after her father's speech. One of his many talents was in being a fine public orator, that many compared with past American Presidents such as Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. He knew how to put emotion into a speech. Even though she was obviously biased about her father, she admitted that had she never met him, his words would have stirred her. She had cried again when the King went airborne for the first time. They had also switched to the feed from Spain as Abby's ship, the Carl Sagan went aloft a few hours later.

"He used the line I mentioned to him a few months back", she said with satisfaction.

"What line?", Lee inquired.

"I mentioned King's 'I Have A Dream' speech, and told him it might be appropriate to slip that in when he made his farewell speech", she grinned from ear to ear, satisfied that her father had taken her advice.

"I have to admit, Starbuck, your dad is just about the best public speaker I've ever seen. I thought mentioning King in that way was brilliant." Lee had been a great admirer of Justin Bond since they first met, and considered him a close friend.

"How's Nick settling in as CAG?", Kara inquired about her brother, "It's got to be a little difficult getting a new CAG so close to launch." She was not worried, but concerned for her brother, and hoped that he quickly gained the trust of his new charges.

"He's doing fine, Kara, honest", Lee said truthfully, "Yeah, it's an adjustment for both the jocks and for Nick, but he's done a lot of face-to-face with every jock under his command, right down to the rookies. It's not like he was an unknown to them", he continued, "and he has a good rep in the Falcon community."

"I just want things to go smoothly for him, Lee, that's all", she intoned. To this day, Lee approved of but was always blown away at the fierce loyalty and love that Kara had for her adopted family. She would gladly give her life it meant saving any of them.

"He's a good pilot and a good leader, Starbuck", he raised the glass of orange juice in his hand towards her, "and he had good role models in you and your father." He stopped to stare in wonder at her.

"What are you staring at, you goofball?", she laughed.

"I'm always amazed by how intense your loyalty and love is for your family, that's all." Kara started to speak, but Lee raised his hand, "I'm not complaining, Admiral; the relationship you have with your parents and your brother and sister is the most amazing thing I've ever seen."

Kara took that as the greatest compliment she could receive, "Lee, mom, and dad quite literally saved me during the war, of that I have no doubt. I can't ever repay them for the unconditional love they've always given me", she said proudly, thinking about her parents, "The Kara Thrace you see today is a direct result of them, no disrespect to you, you father, and other people who were on Galactica."

"None taken, Kara", he said generously, "because I happen to agree with you. They along with Nick and Abby are the best thing that ever happened to you", and he paused for a moment, "It took me a while for me to wrap my head around the idea that your father had that you were meant to find each other across this Universe, but I'm convinced that he was right, and that perhaps Leoben was referring to this as your destiny."

"I wonder where Leoben is these days?", she said with sadness. Of all the complicated relationships Kara had had in her fifty years, the one with the Cylon was probably the most complicated of all. He had become a reclusive figure after Galactica arrived at Earth. The very last thing she had heard about him was when her father had told her of their meeting during the Earth-Cylon War. Since then? Not a word. Whenever she brought up Leoben's name to Caprica, she would simply say that, yes, he was still alive, but had chosen a solitary life.

They both remained silent for a few moments, then Lee got to his feet, "Well, Admiral Thrace-Bond, I think we have some work to do today."

Kara also stood up, "I know. There are days I'd just like to sleep all day, Lee, but I just want to get back out there and head for The Colonies." They smiled at each other and headed out to a waiting Jeep and to their respective ships.

The first thing Lee needed to do this morning was to put a special passenger on board his Battlestar. The person wasn't on the ship's roster but was perhaps one of the most important people going back to The Colonies: Lee was taking the body of the late Admiral William Adama back to Caprica, where he would be laid to rest.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

V

December 28, 2044

Once again, Northern Australia was jumping with excitement. Eighteen months earlier, the UED's Northern Australian Shipyard had been the scene of the first departure of the very first Colonial Class Battlestars as they headed to space for their proving cruise. The next day, the William Adama and the Laura Roslin would again hurtle skyward.

Only this time, the Shipyard would not see them again for a dozen years.

Some ten million people were estimated to be in the area to watch the grand finale of the parade of fifty-six ships that had left Earth in the last three weeks, as the fleet that would head to the Twelve Colonies would receive their prized pieces this day.

Among the multitudes were Admiral Louis Hoshi, the longtime Boss of UED, as well as Admiral Karl Agathon, his wife Athena, Lieutenant Hera Agathon and sixteen-year-old Sam Anders Agathon. The numbers of those who had served major roles aboard the old Galactica were dwindling to a precious few, yet they remained loyal to each other after the more than twenty years since they arrived on Earth. For Hoshi and Karl, it was a difficult day. Both were proud of their Colonial heritage and wanted to see home again someday. But they both had duties that, for the time being, tethered them to their adopted planet. They were soldiers and would attend to their duties.

They were gathered for a farewell dinner at Hoshi's official residence that he used when visiting his shipyard in Australia.

"Rumor has it, Helo, that you're being considered for either the Caprica or the Libran", Starbuck said with a mischievous smile, referring to the next two Colonial Class Battlestars that were due to come off the line in eighteen months.

Karl flashed that thin, wry smile that he was famous for, "Oh, yeah, where'd you hear that, Admiral Thrace-Bond?" Athena couldn't help but giggle. Instinctively, everyone looked over at Hoshi.

He finally realized he was being stared at, "Don't look at me", he said innocently, "I haven't let any cats out of the bags, guys", he said which made Lee put forth a forced cough. Everyone around the table laughed.

"See how rumors take on a life of their own, babe?", Karl said, looking at his wife.

"Helo, I'm staying out of this one", she said looking over at Kara with a laugh, "I think I'd believe Starbuck over you anyway", she winked at him. That made Hoshi cough on the sip of wine that he had just ingested, which made the group laugh even more.

"I won't lie, guys", Karl said earnestly, "I want to head back to the Colonies for a look-see. I don't know whether I would want to stay there", he cautioned his listeners, "Earth is the only real home Hera remembers, and for Sam, it IS home."

"Dad, going to The Colonies would be an amazing experience", Hera "Mutt" Agathon joined the conversation, "This IS home for me, that's true, but so much of who I am comes from The Colonies." Athena was constantly amazed at how incisive her daughter was, even at such a young age.

"What about you, Athena?", Lee said with gentleness. He knew that she would have a different take on going back to The Colonies.

"I'm still torn on it, Lee", she said frankly, "Remember I was back there with Helo, and saw firsthand how bad things were there", she shuddered at how she had gone from hunting Karl back then to falling in love with him, and it still made her sweat at what she had once been. "I'm sure I wouldn't get a warm welcome when the inhabitants find out I'm a Cylon-I'm kind of worried for the Chief and for Caprica when they get there."

"At the same time, being surrounded by Humans who respect you and see you as simply a colleague will go a long way to alleviating anyone's fears on that score", Hoshi opined.

"You hope, sir", Athena said with some trepidation, "I'm still not convinced of that. I'm open to the idea of going back, but I'm still not sure how I'll react if Karl does get a Colonial Class and we're ordered to The Colonies."

"Personally", Kara interjected, "I don't think there would be a better choice for one of the next two Colonial's than you, Helo.", she raised her wine glass in salute to her long-time friend. And everyone else raised their glasses as well.

"Thank you, Admiral", he said with a smile, "that means a lot to me. But I'm going to miss you guys when you leave tomorrow", he said somewhat mournfully, "We've literally been with each other for more than twenty-five years. That's a lot of history to see depart."

Lee and Kara were quite for a moment, "I feel the same way, Karl", Lee admitted. Some of the sh...the crap we've been through still boggles my mind", he had resisted the cuss word in deference to Sam Anders Agathon, which made the youngster snort with laughter.

Athena suddenly stood up, with her wine glass in hand, "May I offer a toast?", she said, which was met with sounds of assent, "A toast first to The Old Man", she said, looking over at Lee.

"So say we all", Kara said first, followed by the others.

"And to dear friends, as we part ways for an extended period of time. Maybe they be blessed with health, happiness, and peace on their voyage, and return to Earth safely."

This time, in unison, they all said "So say we all", and raised their glasses.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

December 29th, 2044, 4 PM, UED Shipyard Northern Australia

"Roslin Actual, Adama Actual", Lee said into the built-in mic on the console.

"Adama Actual, Roslin Actual, go ahead Admiral", Kara replied from five miles away.

"Have all stations report go/no-go", Lee announced. On the Adama, Commander Cross began to go around the horn, while on the Roslin, Kara's XO, Commander Chase Carrico did the same thing. Two minutes later, Kara hailed Lee.

"Adama Actual, Roslin Actual, we are green across the board, ready to depart", she felt the adrenaline kick in as the moment that had been anticipated for seventeen years was finally at hand.

"Copy, Roslin Actual", Lee then raised Departure Control, "Departure Control, Adama Actual, requesting permission to depart Shipyard."

"Adama Actual, Departure Control, permission granted for both ships. One-quarter impulse to Angels 10, then course 186 mark 227 to planned orbit coordinates."

"I copy that, Departure, one-quarter to Angels ten, course 186 mark 227 to Earth Orbit", he repeated back the command.

"That's affirmative, Admiral. Godspeed to you and your crews, and may you have a safe and peaceful journey." the woman at Departure said with obvious emotion.

"Thank you, Departure Control", Lee said, then with a smile, "We'll see you in twelve years, Adama out."

Moments later, the two largest Battlestars in history roared back to life and made to rendezvous with the other fifty-four ships in the fleet.

Mankind was finally headed back to reclaim The Twelve Colonies of Kobol.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"Helm, course 273 mark 331, Impulse Two", Admiral Caprica Baltar commanded from CIC on the King.

"Aye sir, 273 marks 331, speed I-Two, rendezvous with Adama and Roslin in 56 minutes", the Ensign responded crisply.

"Thank you, Ensign Pho", Caprica smiled at her young helmswoman. As the new course was being laid in, two visitors came onto the Bridge and into CIC.

"Attention!", a voice said loudly, "Governor on deck!", and the entire CIC came to their feet, turned and saluted Governor and Mrs. Bond.

"As you were, everyone", he smiled, looking at Caprica, "this isn't boot camp."

Caprica smiled at her Civilian Boss and her very good friend Judith Bond, "Welcome to CIC, sir, Mrs. Bond", extending her hand in a formal greeting. "It's good to have you up here again."

"Someone told me I can come up here whenever I want, Admiral", the Governor said in a casual deadpan, which, despite her best efforts made Caprica laugh. More than a few people in CIC were trying to hold back snickers as well.

Caprica gave up with the formality, "Justin, you are absolutely incorrigible", she laughed, "Judith, how do you ever put up with this", as she hugged her longtime friend.

"Oh, Admiral, I don't", Mrs. Bond said in an offhand tone of her own, "when he gets like this, I just ignore him." That playful remark sent a wave of laughter through the CIC, which is of course, what the Commander-In-Chief of the fleet wanted.

"I don't blame you, ma'am", Caprica said, and Justin Bond shot her a playful stare.

"OK, enough fun at the expense of the Governor", he chuckled, "So we rendezvous in under an hour with the two Battlestars?", he inquired, as he had caught the end of the orders in the course change.

"Yes, sir", the Admiral confirmed, "The six DSE's will be the last ones to reach the coordinates."

"If I may say so", Judith observed, "seeing the entire fleet together should be a helluva sight, Admiral." Judy rarely said any cuss words of any kind and even that mild rejoinder made the Governor raise his eyebrows a bit, "I hope someone is going to take pictures."

"Trust me, babe, they'll be in everyone's photo album", he grinned, "We've got so many exterior cameras mounted on this fleet that there should be some shot that everyone likes."

Caprica had sailed with a large fleet all those years ago before arriving at Earth, but there was something about this gathering that was different. Maybe it was because the fleet was sailing not to flee death, but to restore life, "Call me a schoolgirl, Judy, but you can't believe how excited I am for the rendezvous."

"Me, too!", Judith said with a broad smile, "I still can't believe all this is real."

And, precisely on schedule, the six Deep Space Explorer's arrived at the gathering point. The assembled fleet parted down the middle of the formation to let the six DSE's come single file through the center of the fleet, a display of space-borne fireworks being launched in salute at the arrival of the Fleet Governor. Judith Bond was right, it was a sight that none of them would forget.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

VI

The next morning, the fleet was in standard sailing formation, and the fifty-six ships of The Fleet were ready began the four-year journey to The Twelve Colonies. There was a festive mood all over the fleet, even knowing that there could be some boring days ahead. But the mere fact that mankind was heading back-and that people from Earth were about to go far beyond where anyone from Earth had ever traveled, was all anyone could think about.

The official beginning would take place at 1200 Fleet Standard Time, which was Synchronous with Pacific Standard Time since UED was located in San Diego. But at 0900, Admiral Lee Adama had a pre-sailing breakfast with dignitaries from all over the fleet onboard the William Adama. The Captains from every vessel, along with the twenty members of the Quorum that had been selected, along with Governor and Mrs. Bond and their children, were in attendance.

Since the Fleet was still in a high orbit above Earth, the event, along with the official beginning of the journey was being televised all over the planet. Governor Bond, Admiral Thrace-Bond, Admiral Adama and many others spent a good portion of their time being interviewed for the folks back home.

At 1030 am, with most of the food having been wiped out, the Maître 'd's brought out a small glass of champagne for everyone at the reception. The entire gathering turned towards the front of the hall, where Fleet Admiral Lee Adama and Governor Bond had been seated. When relative quiet was achieved in the hall, Governor Bond rose from his seat.

"Ladies and Gentlemen", the Governor beamed out at the assembled, "I thank all of you for being here for this wonderful celebration this morning, as we prepare for our journey. I'd like to thank Admiral Adama for his fantastic hospitality here aboard his ship this morning."

The crowd gave warm, approving applause as Lee Adama rose from his seat, and shook Governor Bond's had.

"This day has been in the works for so many years, and to see that it has finally arrived has stirred the imagination and souls of every Human Being on the planet and in the fleet. It began with a piece of paper that I had scribbled on in The White House, just days before the outbreak of the Earth-Cylon War. And after the hideous conflict had ended, and as mankind looked to an uncertain future as we started to take stock of all that was lost, it became a rallying point for Humanity, and goal to keep reaching, despite the disaster of that conflict.

"Maybe that piece of paper was the beginning, but I cannot take the credit while looking out at all of you today, inside this magnificent Battlestar, and surrounded by this breathtaking fleet. The credit belongs to the people of Earth, who pledged themselves to this long-term commitment to not only sail back to The Colonies, but to extend the benevolent reach of Mankind throughout the Galaxy.

"It belongs to the thousands of people, if not millions of people, who worked tirelessly to design the ships; to the people who planned the construction; to the people who built this stunning fleet. It was their dedication, sacrifice, and perseverance that has gotten us to this day. And, for that, I'd like to thank the man who has been in charge of putting this fleet together, Admiral Galen Tyrol." Loud and warm applause greeted the Cylon who had remained steadfast to his Human friends all these years. Galen wasn't big on ceremony or approbations, but he stood from his place in the reception and smiled broadly at the multitudes.

The Governor continued. "This will be, up to this point in our history, the defining moment of Humanity, as we return as a united people to the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, so that we may begin the task of rebuilding civilization on our worlds there. It's a task that will no doubt take decades, maybe even centuries, but it begins today." And the loudest applause so far erupted with his stirring words.

"Now, I would ask all of you to rise, so that I may make a few toasts, before we have to get to the business of the day", and immediately everyone rose, with their glasses in hand, "I ask you save you sips of the bubbly until I get through the rest of this speech", he remarked ruefully, which elicited laughter throughout the room. Then the Governor became serious. He looked over at his wife Judy, clasped her hand, and rendered his honors.

"The the people of Earth: we have been through so much together since the arrival of our brothers and sisters from The Colonies just over two decades ago. We have become one people after so many years of war and strife among ourselves; we defended this planet and her people with a tenacity that will be remembered until the end of time; and even in our darkest hours, we held firm to an unshakable belief in each other. To the people of Earth."

"The the people of Earth!", everyone chorused.

"To United Earth Defense: you were our bulwark against The Cylons during the war, and you defended us courageously in that war. Many brave men and women wearing the uniform died in that conflict; it also cost us the Battlestar Galactica, and her legendary Admiral, and my friend, Admiral William Adama, for whom this ship is named. And from the ashes of that conflict, your dedication has made all of this possible. Admiral Louis Hoshi", he spotted his friend at his seat, and Louis smiled back broadly, "We will miss you, but we know you and UED will continue to be the first defense of this planet. To the UED!"

"To the UED!" came the response.

"This next one is personal", as he turned to look at his still-beautiful wife Judy, "To my wife. Honey, we've been on quite a roller coaster now, going on forty-two years, and I couldn't imagine having gotten to this point without you. You are an equal partner with me, in every way: a loving wife, an incredible mother to our three children, and a beacon of grace and hope for our people. To you, my dear."

"Hear, hear!", the assembled cried and erupted in overwhelming applause.

"To my children, who are all on this journey with us. I realize how lucky I am to have all of you here, and I will count my blessings every day that you are with is.

"To my youngest, Abigail. You have always been 'the conscience' of this family. While I, your brother and your sister chose a life where we had to fight for humanity, you have been there to heal and comfort those that are wounded when the fighting stops, and now as Doctor who believes in 'do no harm'.

"To Nicholas. You followed in my footsteps: into the United States Air Force; flying the F-22 as I did, then on to UED. Fortunately, you didn't take up politics, for which I'm eternally grateful, as is the rest of humanity at such a prospect", he winked at his son, who could only laugh, as the rest of the room laughed with him. "You would willingly lay down your life to save anyone on Earth, or in this fleet, and I'm proud to call you my son." More applause, just as sincere.

"Finally, to my daughter Admiral Kara Thrace-Bond", he looked at Starbuck, who beamed back at him with glowing pride in her eyes, "I called you 'our miracle' when you mother and I adopted you during the war; I told you at the time that I believe that you were always meant to find us, and we to find you, and I've never wavered from that belief. You now command your own magnificent Battlestar, and you are a hero to the people of Earth. I thank you, my dear Kara." And, of course, Kara let the tears roll down her face, as she looked out on the crowd.

"Finally, my last toast-you can all cheer at that, I don't blame you", which sent a wave of a laughter across the room, and then it became still as the night, "To the people of the Twelve Colonies. All the blood, sweat and tears that have been put forth on Earth in the last twenty years, to reach this moment, is for you, our brothers and sisters so far way. You have never been forgotten, and have always been in our hearts. We not set sail to re-establish the link of humanity between Earth and our twelve sisters. To the people of the Colonies!"

"To The Colonies!"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

After the festivities, The Governor had flown his own Raptor over to the Laura Roslin for the departure. He had first insisted on staying aboard the King, however, both Caprica and Lee had urged him to be on his daughter's Battlestar for the big moment. The Governor had piloted the Raptor with his wife as a passenger, and Nick Bond had taken another Raptor with Abby and her family over to their sister's ship. Kara had left before them as they had stayed onboard the Adama for a few extra moments.

"Roslin, Marine One, requesting landing clearance", the Governor said evenly as he began his approach.

"Marine One, Roslin, turn right course 171 mark 431, Starboard Hangar, should have green at ten miles." Just as it was when he was President Of The United States, his offical Raptor was Marine One.

"Roger, Roslin, 171 mark 431 to Starboard, I have checkers green", and he brought the bird in for a near-perfect landing. Nick had landed his bird on the Port side at just about the same moment. Nick, Abby, Brett and Katraine met them about amidship, and then together, they went forward to CIC.

"ATTENTION!, Governor On The Bridge!", and the thirty or so members of The Bridge crew came to stiff attention and smartly saluted him. Judy Bond went over to her daughter and embraced her, with Kara giving her mom a kiss on the cheek.

"Thank you everyone", he said with a smile, "as you were", and he turned towards Admiral Thrace-Bond, who saluted him, "Admiral Thrace-Bond, a beautiful day for a journey, don't you think?", her father said matter-of-factly, which left the Admiral momentarily flustered. Everyone in CIC laughed.

"Are you going to be this incorrigible for the entire twelve years, Governor", she said with a wry grin after recovering, laughter breaking across her face. The formalities over, he went over to embrace his daughter and kiss her on the cheek. The entire CIC cheered and applauded.

"OK", Starbuck said with her command voice, but with a huge smile on her face, "first and only time that is allowed up here", as everyone laughed heartily. The Admiral knew this day was for celebration, not spit and polish. Nick, Abby, Brett and little Katraine took their turns greeting their sister and aunt on her Bridge. The Governor and Mrs. Bond went around CIC, meeting the staff on duty, shaking their hands and talking in turn to most of them. These people would be the ones Kara counted on day in and day out, and they wanted to show her crew how much they appreciated their service.

After about fifteen minutes of merriment, and at about 1150, video crews assigned to the Roslin were invited in to set up their cameras. The Governor would read a message of farewell to the planet and its people, then the scenes would switch to the Adama, where the Military Chief, Admiral Lee Adama, would give the order to begin the journey.

Precisely at 1200, Fleet Standard Time, Governor Justin Bond turned to Admiral Kara Thrace-Bond, "Admiral, with your permission, I would like to address the fleet", he said evenly, years of political experience showing a calm face, but down deep, his emotions were building up. Leaving everything you had ever known behind for more than a decade, exciting as it was, would take an emotional toll on everyone.

"Permission granted, Governor", Kara said with a smile, and turned to Commander Chase Carrico, "Commander, all ships, please."

"Aye, sir!", Chase said crisply and tapped in the appropriate command on his console. He nodded to the Governor.

"Attention, people of the fleet. This is Governor Bond. Today, we begin a journey that will carry the hopes of mankind on two ends of the Galaxy. We leave our believed Earth, which has nurtured and sustained many of us for our entire lives, and which became a refuge of hope for our brothers and sisters who made it here from the Colonies", his voice was under tight reign.

"The the people on Earth: I believe I can speak for everyone in the fleet when I say that we will miss this planet, and its people every day. The visceral love we have for Earth and for all of you will sustain us through this long journey. May the next twelve years bring you peace, happiness, and love. And please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we sail forth.

"And for those of us who sail away momentarily, I would like to offer a prayer: May God watch over us, and keep us today and every day of this momentous voyage. May we always remember that we represent the best of Humanity, and the hopes and dreams of Men on thirteen planets. And may we return home safely when our mission is complete", the last few words had finally cracked his emotions, and his voice wavered with the final salutation.

He glanced at Commander Carrico, who modified the radio slightly, "Adama Actual, Roslin: Admiral Adama, take us out."

On the ship named after his father, Lee had let some of the emotion wash over him. He was not a native of Earth, but he loved the planet and its people as thoroughly as those he had left behind on The Colonies. He had fought a war for them and had lived on the planet, or above it, for twenty-two of his fifty-one years.

"Aye, Governor Bond", he turned to Commander Brevin Cross, "XO, all ships, Ahead one=quarter impulse, course 224 mark 078." They weren't memorable words by themselves, but for where they were headed, they forever altered the trajectory of Humanity.

To Be Continued...
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