Categories > TV > Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica: Kepler 452b

by Treadstone17 2 reviews

It is August 2046, and the Fleet that is sailing from Earth to The Twelve Colonies is nearing the halfway point. The will soon approach a planet known on Earth as "Kepler 452b", a world that h...

Category: Battlestar Galactica - Rating: G - Genres: Sci-fi - Published: 2017-06-02 - Updated: 2017-06-02 - 9977 words - Complete

1Ambiance
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

KEPLER 452b


Prologue

August 2046, The Cygnus System

Admiral Lee Adama had known for the past six months that this moment was arriving. So did every other person who had sailed from The Colonies to Earth, all those years ago. It wasn't something any of them wanted to see, but they had no choice. The path to The Colonies led this way.

Admiral Adama was the Master of the Colonial Class Battlestar William Adama. He was the overall military commander of a fleet of fifty-six ships that had left Earth just under two years ago, with their ultimate destination being The Twelve Colonies. The mission of The Fleet was to scout the condition of the planets and its survivors and to return to Earth with the outlines of plans to re-colonize the twelve planets. It was the first step in a process that would probably take a century to accomplish.

Along with the William Adama, a second Colonial Class Battlestar, the Laura Roslin, anchored the fleet. Commanded by his long-time friend Admiral Kara Thrace-Bond, the Roslin and the Adama were capable of deflecting any attack on the fleet the lead, or at least that was hoped. So far, the journey had been uneventful.

That was about to change.

Back on Earth, around 2035, when the mission was well into the planning stage, Dr. Gaius Baltar, along with scientists from Earth were busy plotting the path that the then non-existent fleet would take to return to The Colonies. Years before, scientists like the late Stephen Hawking had discovered a planet that they called "Earth's Cousin", in the Cygnus Star System that The Fleet was currently navigating. The Exoplanet had been given the name Kepler 452b, as the Kepler Space Observatory had made the discovery in 2009.

When Doctor Baltar and others from The Colonies had studied the information, they had come to the realization that this Exoplanet might be known to them. It wasn't a sure thing, as there had been so many variables in Galactica's journey after the Holocaust to Earth to be certain, but he had his suspicions. But he knew those suspicions wouldn't be confirmed till The Fleet that would travel back to the Home Worlds was about six months away from Kepler 452b.

Six months ago, the Deep Space Explorer Nelson Mandela had scouted the Exoplanet, and Gaius' hunch was then confirmed.

Kepler 452b was the old Cylon World of Earth.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

I

Six Months Earlier

Governor Justin Bond was meeting with his top two military Commanders, Lee Adama and his daughter, Kara-Thrace Bond, planning the upcoming Raptor missions to Kepler 452b. He, of course, had been briefed long before the departure of his fleet about the suspicions about Kepler 452b, and he knew that if those suspicions were confirmed, it would have a terrible effect on the Colonial members of the fleet-and most especially his adopted daughter. He was doing his level-best to keep not only the two Admirals, but everyone else, in a business-like mindset as they planned for the up-close examination of the Exoplanet.

"Let me ask you this, Lee", he turned to his military C-in-C, "what if we not only send out some Raptors but what about if one of the DSE's were to move ahead and join the scouting mission?"

Lee was silent for a moment as he pondered that question from The Boss, "Kara and I were talking about that same thing the other day, sir, and it has merit. We can always jump or send one of the DSE's into high warp with the Raptors onboard, then do the scouting from there. I think it'd be more efficient to do it that way, Boss", he concluded the thought, "not that the Raptors aren't capable of doing the mission on their own, but we have the resources, so we might as well use them."

Admiral Thrace-Bond tried to keep this part of their mission out of her mind for as long as possible. When she had learned of the adjusted course the fleet would take, and that it would take it by Kepler 452b, and then learning about Gaius' hunch, the thought of what this place could be had almost made her vomit. But she also knew she had a job to do, and she would do it.

"I think you're right, Governor", she said. In a formal briefing like this, her father was "Governor", and she was "Admiral". They had learned a long time ago how to separate their family life and their working relationship. "It will make the mission go a lot smoother, with fewer chances of any frack-ups."

"That's settled then", the Governor came to a decision, "For this mission, I am planning to send Admiral Larinov and the Nelson Mandela on the mission. Lee, should Nick be in overall command of the Wranglers?" His son, Lieutenant Nicholas "Axman" Bond was CAG on the Adama, and by protocol, made him senior CAG in the fleet, but he didn't want to make the decision unilaterally.

"Nick's CAG for a reason, Governor", Lee offered, "and on a mission like this, I think it's appropriate that he lead the Raptors on the scouting runs."

"Then I have a request, sirs", Starbuck interjected.

"What is that, Admiral?", her father said in curiosity.

"I'd like to fly with Nick in the lead Raptor when we eyeball the planet." That had come out in an almost ghost-like voice from Admiral Thrace-Bond, and with good reason. If Kepler 452b was what they thought it might be, it would be an unpleasant moment for Starbuck, and both men knew why.

"Kara", the Governor said, reverting more towards the "dad" in their relationship, "are you absolutely sure you want to do this?" He was protective of his adopted daughter, but he also knew he couldn't shield her from her Fleet duties, but he was mightily concerned about her request, "I know what the consequences will be if we confirm this, but when in that cockpit, you know you have to put your personal feelings aside."

"I know, dad", she said, the protocol being dismissed for a moment. Lee Adama was practically another member of the Bond family, and it didn't bother him in the least. In fact, he understood that, at a moment like this, a daughter needed to talk to her father. "But I am familiar with the geography of the other Earth, and I can tell pretty damn quick if Kepler is the old Cylon planet."

The Governor looked over at his Military Commander, "Lee?"

Lee took a deep breath then went on, "I'm good with it on one condition, Kara: that you stay out of Admiral Larinov's command while on board", he said with a no-nonsense tone, "I'm sure you will anyway, but being his superior, that could get awkward."

"I understand, Lee", she said without rancor, which showed how much she had matured since coming to Earth, "in fact, I won't take station on the Mandela until the day we depart, and I'll keep out of Anton's way, I promise."

"OK, then", Lee said evenly, "With your permission, Governor, I'll take a Raptor over and advise Anton of the orders, and we'll start putting an Op Plan together."

"Thank you, Lee", he said with a smile, "I appreciate that, son. Kara, you're to go with Admiral Adama to the Mandela. Since it's already 2100, set the meeting up for tomorrow morning. Lee, you can call Anton and set the time. I want you both, however, getting a good night's rest, so you can be sharp when putting the Op Plan together."

"Yes, Governor", they both said at the same moment, standing up and saluting him.

"Dismissed", he told them both, "Kara, Can you come by and visit your mother and I for a few minutes around 2130?"
___________________________________________________________________________________________

"I'm worried about you doing this, honey", Judith Bond said, the worry clearly lined on her face, "Knowing the nightmares that place has given you, I just want to make sure you're really OK with this."

Her mom was her best friend in the world, and she couldn't dismiss her concern, "Thanks, mom, you don't know how much it means to me that you're looking out for me", Kara said with a smile, "But I've got to know. I really do."

"I just don't want you to get knocked backward again, like what happened during the war", Judy continued, "I know, you're not the same person you were back in '27, I get that. But that place holds so many bad memories for you."

"The good thing, Judy, is this is just a scouting mission, not a boots on the ground mission", her husband offered, "We'll have time to study the planet from the ground once we arrived, this is just a fact-finding and a confirmation mission, nothing else."

The Kara before 2027 would have been thinking about landing her Raptor once she put Mark One Eyeballs on the world, but those days were gone, both for military and personal reasons. She was a professional officer now, and she couldn't imagine disobeying an order from either Lee or Governor Bond, but more importantly, she could never break the implicit trust that existed between her and her father.

"That's the one thing comforting me right now, mom", she looked over at her mother with a smile, "Nick's gonna be with me in the Raptor, and if I even had the thought in my mind of landing, he'd take control of the ship away from me", she said with a wry smile.

"Alright, then, honey, you have my blessing", her mother walked over and put her arms around Kara, "You would have gone anyway, even without my blessing, but I feel better about this."

"Mom, your blessing means everything to me, and I'm glad I could put some of your fears to rest." She hugged her adoptive mother with all her strength.

"Just promise me you'll be safe?"

"Always, Mom.", she said with a small laugh.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

II

Starbuck's mother might have been convinced, but Kara's brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Bond, Call Sign Axman, was a far more skeptical audience on the subject, and when he found out the general outlines of the Op Plan, he immediately went to see his Boss, Admiral Lee Adama.

"With all due respect, Admiral", Axman began, "and I'm not mad at you, or for that matter, anyone, I'm worried about how Admiral Thrace-Bond will deal with this if we find out that Kepler is also this other Earth."

Lee understood his concern, as he had shared it, but for once, he wasn't happy with the formality that Nick had attached to the sentence. "Lieutenant, it's only you and me in here, so cut the 'Admiral' bullshit for a moment, Nick. We're not talking about 'The Admiral': we're talking about your sister at the moment, Kara Thrace-Bond." He didn't like to chew out any of his crew if he could help it, but this wasn't so much about a military or scientific matter as it was Starbuck's past.

Nick Bond was as sure about himself as his father, but the mild dressing-down he just received, did make him slightly blush as he continued, "I know that, sir", he said contritely, "and that's why I'm so damned concerned", and Lee could see the concern etched all over the younger man's face, "I'm just worried what this will do to her psyche."

"I understand that, Nick", Lee said sympathetically, "Your father, Kara and I have discussed this; your parents and Kara have discussed this, so believe me, we know people are concerned", he paused for a moment then went on, "and besides, your sister isn't the same person that she was when your parents adopted her in '27. That Kara is gone, Nick."

Nick sighed with a bit of frustration, and got the hint that his Admiral was talking to him as someone who was almost a member of his family, "I know, Lee..." dropping the title for a moment, which made Lee smile, "Kara means the world to me, and to Abby, not to mention mom and dad. We've all been almost militantly protective of her since the adoption", this time a small smile crossed Axman's face, "and she's probably more protective of us than we are of her."

"That's why I'm glad you called for this meeting, Axman", Lee offered, "I knew from the moment you found out that you'd have some major concerns. And there will be a time and a place to handle this within the confines of military protocol, but right now, my job is to help you get over your concerns, if I can."

"I appreciate that, sir. I really do", Nick said, becoming slightly mollified, "I'm not criticizing Kara, believe me, but I just want to make sure my sister isn't too rattled by this."

"Point taken, Nick", and Lee knew that was the crux of it. In that cockpit, he knew for the mission part, it would be Lieutenant Bond and Admiral Thrace-Bond, but wanted Nick there to help his sister, "Just remember, there are times when family over-rules military protocol, and when you'll have to be her brother and not a Lieutenant. If you do notice anything, and you feel that somehow she isn't right, you have my blessing and that of your dad to make sure Kara doesn't jeopardize anything", Lee couldn't imagine Kara doing anything of the sort, but as his father had told him, The Boss on a Battlestar always had to be a pessimist and prepare for the worst.

"I understand, sir", Nick said, finally relaxing, "To be honest, I don't think that will happen. But I'm worried more of how she'll handle it emotionally. I know there's a lot of bad memories there for everyone from The Colonies."

"An understatement, Nick, if there every was one", and he shuddered himself at the memories of that experience. "You and Kara will have time to sit down to talk, sibling and sibling. Use that time, because it will make both of you more prepared militarily to carry out the mission."

"You're right sir, and maybe I should talk to my folks as well just to make sure all of us are on the same page", Lee was feeling better as he felt his CAG was in a better frame of mind.

"I think that's a great idea, Axman, and if you need to head over to the King to talk it out, just advise me and you can go", Lee finished with a smile on his face, "OK, Lieutenant Bond, back to work, dismissed."

Nick saluted his Admiral and turned to walk away. As he got to the door, he momentarily turned back around, "Sir?"

"Yeah, Nick?"

"Thanks for letting me come in and blow some steam off. I think it's helped a lot", the younger man said gratefully.

"Remember, Nick, I'm like an honorary member of your family, and my first concern for you, for Kara and for your folks has always been as people who have always treated me with respect and kindness. That's more important in the end than the spit and polish of military life."

Nick nodded his head and walked out of the room.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Two Weeks Later

"Helm, new course 213 mark 011, one-quarter impulse, begin prep to go to Warp." Admiral Constantin Larinov gave the order in the CIC of the DSE Nelson Mandela. The fifty-five-year-old Russian was a highly respected, highly proficient UED Officer. His crew had given him the nickname "The Bear" because of his Russian heritage, but virtually everyone on the Mandela genuinely liked The Boss.

"Aye, Admiral, 213 mark 011, one-quarter, preparing to go to Warp 1". The reply was crisp and formal, the way he liked it.

"XO, have Admiral Thrace-Bond and Lieutenant Bond report to CIC?"

"Aye, sir", and made the calls to round up his guests. It took about ten minutes to get both members of the Bond family to CIC.

"Fleet Admiral on deck!" someone bawled as Kara and Nick arrived to salutes from the crew, Admiral Larinov turned and saluted his superior Officer himself.

"As you were everyone", Kara said with a smile, and then shook Larinov's hand. "Thank you for the courtesy of allowing me to come up here, Admiral."

"Admiral Thrace-Bond, you are always welcome on my bridge', he said with a smile in heavily-accented English, "But I understand why you say that. Trust me, my ego won't be hurt with you up here at any time."

Kara smiled at the graciousness of the statement, "Thank you very much, sir", and she looked around for a moment, "We about ready to do this?"

"Da, Admiral", he nodded his head, "We estimate at Warp One that we will arrive in fifteen minutes, and should be about thirty million kilometers from the planet when we put the brakes on."

"Then, Admiral, if you will, let's get this show on the road", Kara said pensively. She looked over at Nick, and nodded at him as if to say It's OK little brother, I've got this.

Within a half hour, they were at the designated coordinates. They could clearly see the planet via cameras, but it was still quite small. It was time for Mark I Eyeballs.

"Mandela, Raptor 204, requesting clearance to depart", Lieutenant Nick Bond said as he prepared to throttle up out of the landing bay.

"Two Zero Four, Mandela, departure granted, course 197 mark 366 after clearing the ship"

"Roger, two zero for, 197 mark 366, thank you." He glanced over at his sister and the Raptor lifted off. The would be traveling at one-quarter impulse, so it would take them about ten more minutes to get close enough to determine if Kepler 254b was indeed the Cylon Earth.

Kara could feel the tension in the cockpit, not only because of where they were headed but because she knew her brother was worried about her making this Mark One trip, After a few minutes, she broke the silence, "OK, little brother, tell me what's on your mind", she said without any rancor in her voice.

After Nick had spoken with Lee, he and Kara did have a face-to-face over it and Nick had insisted that she tell him about everything that had happened on that world. Nick had known some of it, but had never pressed his adopted sister on the subject, knowing it was a painful memory.

She talked about the incident with the Raptor and how she had vanished for two months; and how eventually she had led the fleet to Earth, and what she saw on the planet surface. Nick was finally able to connect all the dots and now fully understood why his sister was so pensive about this. In her shoes, he thought, he would be, too.

"I'm just worried about how this will affect you, sis", he said with stark honesty, "All of us made a commitment to be there for each other after the adoption, and that definitely applies here, Kara."

"I know, Nick", she agreed, "But one way or another, I have to face this and get through it."

"Yes, you do, Starbuck", he looked at her after putting the Raptor on auto pilot for a moment, "But you don't have to face it alone. If you need to lean on me, or Abby or mom or dad during this, do it. That's what family is about."

Kara smiled at that remark, knowing that at one time in her life she was, quite literally, alone in dealing with such issues. But she had never faced anything that could be this traumatic since the adoption, save perhaps when her father had been critically wounded the year before in the terrorist attack. This would test her emotions in a far different way.

"You are your father's son, Nicholas Bond", she said with a small laugh, "you sound just like dad when you say that."

"Well, Admiral, I'll take that as a compliment!", he grinned at his sister.

"You better, because it's the highest compliment I can give anyone, bud." And Kara meant that, and Nick knew she meant that.

Kara took a breath as they began to approach Mark One Eyeball territory, "OK, Lieutenant Bond", she said, getting back to business, "Game face on."

Nick still grinned back, "Aye, Admiral Thrace-Bond, here we go."

Five minutes later, the Mark One mission confirmed Doctor Baltar's suspicions: Kepler 452b was, indeed, the Cylon Earth.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Three days later, Governor Bond had called a meeting with Kara, Lee, Galen, Caprica and Gaius. He had also called the President of the Quorum, Aaron Peller, a Picon by birth who had been serving in the New Caprican Senate before joining the fleet. The subject matter was straightforward: how to handle returning to this dead Cylon planet?

Kara had been a bit quiet since returning from the scouting mission, but so had the others. Justin Bond understood that, even though he could not fully appreciate the angst that they all felt. But all of them had been on the planet before, and he wanted their advice as to how to proceed. Their main mission was to get to The Colonies, but they also were here to explore the Galaxy that they would cross, and he intended to do that.

"What I would like us to do is to map the planet out as precisely as we can", he told his audience, "I doubt the radiation levels have dropped significantly since Galactica was here, but it's still possible, after all of us are ancient history, that this planet could become inhabitable again."

Despite their experience at the planet they were approaching and would arrive at in just under six months, they all conceded that point. By the time it was habitable, all of them would have been dead, probably for at least a century.

"With all the resources we have, Governor, I think we could do that in a relatively reasonable timeframe", Lee Adama offered, "most of the surveying can be done by Raptors over the surface, but we will want to do some on-the-ground surveying as well."

Kara was in full agreement, "You're right, Governor, this planet could some day support human life, and we know it did support life at one time. It's a good idea to keep it in the database for future use." Eyebrows went up slightly around the table. Everyone knew of the experience that Kara had here, when with Leoben and finding "herself", or so she thought, in a Viper Cockpit. Even Galen, who had gone through a flashback of his final moments in being alive on the world some two-thousand years earlier didn't think he would have been able to handle what Kara had gone through.

"Governor, I have a personal request to make", Admiral Caprica Baltar interjected. The Commander of the Governor's DSE had gained the implicit trust of Justin Bond over the years. Judith Bond had gone out of her way shortly after Galactica had arrived in 2022 to make sure that the Cylons who had sided with The Fleet were not forgotten in the shuffle. She and Caprica had become best of friends, and she had never forgotten the kindness that both Justin and Judith Bond had visited on her.

"Proceed, Admiral", the Governor inclined his head.

"When we left here, one member of the landing party from the Baseship remained behind, and I doubt she's alive anymore."

"Deanna", Justin Bond finished the thought. Caprica had told him long ago about the decision of her sometimes friend, sometimes enemy on the Rebel Baseship, who had decided to die on that planet instead of maybe facing Cavil again.

"Yes, sir, Deanna", she smiled in spite of herself, "I in no way want to take away any resources from our survey mission of the planet, but I would like to see if we can't locate her remains."

No one begrudged her that, but Galen did want to make a point, "Admiral, with all due respect, that might be like finding a grain of sand on a beach", he said with a lot of truth, "she could have wandered anywhere after The Fleet packed up and left."

"That's true, Galen", Lee noted, "but at the same time, it's possible we could find her. Chances are that her remains are nothing but bones by now, but unlike the other remains down here, there's a good chance hers are not buried under layers of dirt. And, I might add, Deanna did agree to put aside our hatreds and travel with us. I think she deserves a proper internment if we can locate her remains."

Everyone was silent for a moment, as they contemplated that statement. Then Kara spoke up.

"It's only right, sir", she said looking at her father/Governor, "after what I saw down here, I don't want Deanna to go through a similar fate", she said quietly.

"Very well", the Governor said in low tones, then looked up at Caparica, "Admiral Baltar, permission granted. I'd like for you and Lee to get together and work out on logistics of exactly what you can use for your search, bearing in mind that, as you say, it can't interfere with the survey work."

"Understood, Admiral", she replied gratefully.

The Governor turned to Gaius, "Doctor Baltar, do you have any requests on a more scientific line that you would like us to consider?"

"No, Governor", he said immediately, "We determined the makeup of the inhabitants of the planet the first time we were here, and there's no doubt they were all Cylon. It's possible that during the survey, we might find something that can give us more knowledge about how they lived here, but until that happens, I don't have any special requests", and then added another thought, "but I do thank you for inquiring, sir."

Aaron Peller spoke up for the first time, "Governor Bond, I wholeheartedly agree with the decision to survey this planet as thoroughly as possible. It could be quite valuable some day", Justin Bond knew the other shoe was going to drop. He had established a very good relationship with The Quorum in the two years they had been in space, and he and Mr. Peller had always been very cordial with each other, but he always had a sneaking suspicion that the Quorum President wasn't satisfied being a second banana in the halls of power among the fleet. He had never done anything overt to indicate this, but something just never sat right about him with Justin Bond.

"Continue, Mr. Peller", the Governor said evenly.

"But do we really have to divert resources to look for the bones of a dead Cylon?", which was delivered in a bit more exasperation that he had wanted, "Don't get me wrong, sir. I have no quarrel with Admiral Baltar or Admiral Tyrol, and I understand their points of view on this, but our primary mission is getting to The Colonies. Shouldn't we just do the survey and leave?"

As was his style, Governor Bond let those words hang in the air for a moment before responding, "Mr. Peller, correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not true that mankind on The Colonies first created the mechanical Cylons?"

"Yes, Governor Bond, from everything we know, that is true, sir", he said without hesitation.

"If that is the case, then aren't the humanoid Cylons, who were made in the image of Man, a real, tangible part of our heritage as Human Beings?" Kara inwardly smiled, knowing that few people could out-reason her father. But she kept that inside.

"Well, yes sir, if you look at it that way, I can't argue with that", he said grudgingly.

"Then the remains down there, of all those people, are part of our heritage as Human Beings, and despite the hatred of the Cavil's, if, God forbid, any of them are still out there, they are part of our history. I believe Caprica is right: Deanna turned her back on a few millennia of hatred and distrust, and that led The Fleet here. It wasn't a pleasant experience, but it one that cannot be forgotten", he paused momentarily, "and I'm quite certain that the people who perished her, and most notably, as far as this discussion is concerned, that Deanna should not be forgotten and deserves our respects."

Caprica had tears in her eyes, but they stayed in her eyes.

Admiral Tyrol spoke up, "Governor, it's funny; you have never been here; outside of the war in '27, you weren't in the daily fight between Human and Cylon, but you seem to have a deeper understanding about the whole thing than most people", he said glancing at The Quorum President, who blushed mildly, "I mean no disrespect, President Peller, but maybe all of us are just too close to what happened here and after the Holocaust to see the forest for the trees?"

Mr. Peller nodded his head somberly but did not respond. He had not ever quite thought about it in those terms.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

III

Six Months Later, August 2046

"Attention citizens of the fleet, this is The Governor. As you know, we have arrived at what is known on Earth as Kepler 452b. And as all of you are aware, we have determined that this is the planet "Earth" that Cylon Humanoids called home thousands of Earth years ago", he said with deliberate dispassion in his voice.

"Many of you have been here before, many years ago, and I understand that that experience was not a pleasant one; but as part of our charter, we are to explore any planet that could support Human life. This one currently cannot, due to radiation levels, but someday it may be able to do so."

"In the spirit of our mission charter, we are going to be here for several weeks to survey and chart this planet as thoroughly as we can, so that our posterity may have as much information on this place, in the event that, someday, Human Beings might settle here.

"We have restricted access to the planet to actual UED personnel, due to the radiation levels, but as and if we find anything of importance, we will share it with the citizens of the fleet. Thank you very much for your attention."

He turned to Caprica at her post in CIC, "Admiral, let's get this mission underway", he said in his best command voice.

"Aye, Admiral." Five minutes later, Lee Adama set the coordinates for high orbit around the former Cylon world, and the survey mission began.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

While most of the planet mapping was being done from the air, by Raptors from different altitudes, Justin Bond went to the surface. Partly out of sheer curiosity; partly out of the need to learn; and in large part, in a hope to maybe find out more about what his daughter had gone through the first time she had been here.

The Governor, along with Caprica, Gaius, Galen, and Kara had landed on the surface on the second day. As the Raptors buzzed overhead, some near the surface, and some up to as high as one-hundred thousand feet above the planet surface, the landing party did a little surveying with their eyes. Justin Bond had seen the devastation on countless planets back home after the Earth-Cylon war, but nothing had prepared him for seeing it on such a scale.

"God Almighty", he whispered, shortly after touching down, and looking over the ocean of water towards what had been a major city to his West. "There's barely a stone left on a stone here."

"That's about the size of it, sir", Galen Tyrol looked around at his long-ago home. "The war was so sudden and complete that no one had a chance-except for those of us who had been part of the Resurrection project."

For the first time, Justin Bond didn't look at Galen quite as a man, but as something that he couldn't even fathom: a man who had lived around the time of Christ, and was still alive today. It didn't change his estimation of the kind of man Galen was, but it changed his perspective on "The Chief" in some ways.

"And from what you told me years ago, Galen, you had quite literally five seconds to take in what happened?"

"Yes, sir. I was at a market getting some fruit and vegetables; I saw the blinding light...and after that, I simply remember being on the Colonies all those years." The Governor shook his head and clasped the man on his shoulder. Galen smiled, "Believe me, sir, I still don't understand all of it, either, so don't feel so bad." That made the Governor smile.

About thirty feet away, Caprica was looking out over the devastation that she had laid eyes on so many years before, but the Governor could tell her mind wasn't on the destruction, but on her Cylon sister, who he was sure had died here many years ago. He went over to her.

"You sense anything, my dear?", he said, putting his arm around her shoulders. She was his Admiral, but they had also been friends for many years, and genuinely cared about her. Judith had wanted to come down on the surface, but his order that only the military (and himself) were allowed on the surface, extended to the First Lady of The Fleet.

"Not really, Justin", she said to the man whom she had almost died next to a few years earlier on the streets of Sioux City, New Caprica, "I've heard that our people can sense the presence of those that we're close to, but I'm not sure that extends to the deceased", she said plainly, "although I'm convinced that if we come upon some uncovered bones, that if I would touch them, I would know if it was Deanna or not."

"I know this is tough on every one of you, Admiral", he said with sympathy, "You have the freedom, within the parameters we laid out, to search for her. If you do find her, I want to know."

She smiled at her friend and Boss, "You have my word on that, sir", and then she looked towards the shoreline, where Admiral Thrace-Bond was standing, "but right now, I think you and your daughter may need to take a hike somewhere."

The Governor's eyes widened when she said that but instantly knew that Caprica had been right, "You're right, Caprica, I and my daughter need to see a few things together", and he walked in Kara's direction.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

When he arrived, Starbuck looked over at him, "So, what do you think of this Cylon Paradise, dad?", as a wry, but not happy smile crossed her face, "Probably could get some good deals on the property around here."

In spite of himself, Justin Bond chuckled at that, "Location, location, location, Admiral", he said and they smiled at each other. Then he became earnestly serious. "Honey, I think you and I need to take a walk together." His eyes were locked on her, as he grasped her hand. Kara didn't have to figure out where they were walking to. This was a moment she knew she had to face since learning that this Cylon World was Kepler 254b.

She took his hand, and they strolled away. Behind them, Caprica, Baltar, and Galen watched them walking away, and then looked at each other. They understood that this needed to be a private moment, not between Governor and Admiral, but between father and daughter.

It took the two of them about ten minutes to walk the distance. They never said a word, but never let go of each others' hands, either. If ever there was a moment Kara thanked God that she had a father, this was it. She couldn't have faced this alone. This was the very situation that Justin and Judith Bond had in mind when adopting her. She had no idea how she'd react, but she wasn't alone, and that's what mattered.

"It's right over here, dad", Starbuck said with little emotion, "it's just beyond this tall brown grass", and in a few moments, the Governor could see some white through the blades of wild grass. And a moment after that, he could see that it was, indeed, a cockpit that had been torn from the rest of a Viper.

"So this is it?", he said, not knowing what else to say at the moment. This was a seminal moment in his relationship with his daughter. A few months after the end of the war and the adoption, President Justin Bond had put out his thoughts to his daughter about this place, saying that perhaps God had shown her what could become of her if she didn't change. Now, seeing the physical remains of a Viper, he wondered if it had been wishful thinking?

"Yeah, this is it, old man", and she surveyed the scene. But instead of being rocked by a wave of revulsion, this time she felt nothing but peace and serenity enveloping her. She realized at that moment that she was really, truly beyond the Old Kara-whatever or whoever that was-and had put the chapter behind her.

But she could instantly sense her father was having a totally different reaction to the moment.

"I know what you're thinking, dad", she smiled at him, "but I still believe your explanation is as plausible as any other", she continued putting her arm around his waist and pulling him closer.

"I have to admit, babe, that this gives me pause", he said starkly, "when we discussed this over the years, and what I thought, it was all just me trying to wrap my limited human mind around what you went through. But seeing an actual part of a Viper..." his voice trailed off, in the grip of an emotion he had not prepared for.

"You're glad that there is no body in there...aren't you, dad?" she said to him as seriously as she had ever said anything to him.

Justin Bond was more emotionally upset at this moment than Kara had ever seen him. She had rarely, if ever, seen him with any kind of doubt, and to see him struggling with doubt when it came to his adopted daughter, she hurt almost physically for him. He had wanted to be here for her, but she clearly saw she needed to here for him as well.

"I am, honey", he said with a frank admission, "I think I might have shaken apart if I saw that blond hair in the cockpit.....", and he lost his composure at that moment, and cried. The image in his mind of his daughter hurtling towards this planet in a fiery explosion was too much for the man. "All I can see is the Viper crashing and you being tossed around like a rag doll", his body racked with sobs, envisioning his daughter in such a nightmare. "Just imagining that tears me apart, honey."

"It's OK, dad", she said, wrapping him in her arms him, and comforting the man who had been her hero since she had met him. The fact that he was so emotional over this actually increased her love and esteem for the man. A lesser man would have tried to keep it in. "It's really OK. We'll never know if it was me, and besides, I'm right here for you." She continued to rock her father gently, "that's all that matters right now." He was beside himself with a grief that he didn't fully understand.

She guided him over to a tree branch sitting on the ground, and they both sat down. Kara wiped at the tears in his eyes, with a beaming, proud smile on her face, which was the last thing that her father probably expected to see. The sobs continued with the aftershocks of the terrible emotion that had hit him, but he was starting to calm down.

After a few minutes, the Governor had regained his composure. He looked at his daughter in wonder, "All these years, I had always said that I was here for you. After your struggle during the war, your mom and I swore we would never let you go through such heartache alone ever again", he put her hand in his again, "And her you are, comforting me with something that I'm having trouble coming to terms with." He let out a short laugh. "I'm so sorry that I fell apart like that, Kara."

Kara moved right next to him, and hugged him tightly, kissing him on the cheek, "You have nothing to be ashamed of, dad", she said, looking directly into his eyes, "It's never been a one-way street, old man", she said with a twinkle in her eyes, "it was a commitment by the five of us to always be there for each other. I didn't expect you to have this reaction. I was more worried about mine, but I'm glad I was able to help you through this."

"Well, honey, I have to admit, it's overwhelmed me and I didn't expect that. I was so focused on protecting you and making sure you made it through this. But it looks like you've made your peace with this scene."

"I think I have, dad", she said with no small satisfaction, "I was worried about that, too. But remember, I've been here before, so it's not new to me. And I'm not the same Kara Thrace that I was back then. And I have you to thank for that."

"I appreciate that, Starbuck", he said gratefully, wiping his eyes again, "but you've done the hard work to get to this point. Maybe I and your mother pointed you in the right direction, but you've made yourself into the incredible woman that I'm proud to call my daughter."

Kara finally let some tears roll down her cheeks, but only a few. She had come to terms with this place, and she actually felt a peace that she had not anticipated, "So, have you revised your theory about me, dear father", she said playfully to him.

"I don't know, Kara", he said with a deep breath and another shudder of emotion, "Knowing now what you saw here, and what you went through, hit me like a Mack Truck. I wasn't prepared for the emotional impact that I would feel." he paused to keep his composure, "but could I still be right?", he asked, and Kara nodded, "Yes, I think I could still be right. As I said, I don't believe God is a puppeteer, but I do think He can, every now and again, show us things that can make us better our lives. But even contemplating that you might have gone through that, it was just too much to bear for me."

"In the end, dad does it really matter now what the real answer is?", she said with wisdom gained over the many years since she was last at this spot, "I'm here, right now. I'm still Starbuck. I'm still Kara Thrace-Bond, your daughter, and I'm headed back to The Colonies to help Humanity there. That is all that matters right here, right now."

He looked over at her with a mixture of gratitude and amazement, thankful again that he and Judy had taken this incredible woman into their family almost twenty years earlier. He had another shudder of emotion, and wiped his eyes one more time. He looked over at her as if to say something momentous, but Kara should have known better. "You know, Starbuck", he said with his famous gift of deadpanning, "you're a lot smarter than you look?", but finished it with a wink at her.

Kara burst out laughing in a way that she could never have imagined at this place, "Well, Mr. Bond, it's a good thing I get my brains from mom", she retorted, and hugged him while continuing her laughter.

They got up and prepared to leave. As they were moving away, Justin Bond stopped and turned back around. He continued to look at the Viper cockpit when he spoke again, "You know, I said no unauthorized personnel would be allowed down here when we arrived?"

"That was a no-brainer, dad" she replied with a chuckle.

"Yes, I know", he smiled back at her, "but this spot is an important place, and I think it wouldn't hurt if I brought your mother, Nick, and Abby down here for a few moments before we leave."

She understood that the power of this place had affected her father deeply, and he wanted to share this place with his family. "I think that's a wonderful idea, dad", and squeezed him again, "but for now, we need to get back to the others."
__________________________________________________________________________________________

IV

Two Weeks Later

Admiral Baltar and Gaius had taken a small unit of Raptors around the planet in search of Deanna's remains. Like Kara going to the Raptor site, if she could find Deanna, it would give her a sense of closure to this dark chapter for the Cylons and Humans who had arrived here more than 25 Earth years before.

They had naturally started out within the area where the teams from Galactica and the Rebel Baseship had dropped their scout teams years ago, but there's no doubt that Deanna could have wandered anywhere on the planet. Gaius had estimated that with the radiation levels as they were on the planet, she couldn't have survived very long. Admiral Adama had left Deanna some food supplies and fresh water, but even with that, Doctor Baltar estimated that she could have only lasted no more than three years.

But the search went on. Admiral Lee Adama had informed her that the survey mission was about seventy-five percent complete and that he felt they would be wrapped up in about six days' time. If she was going to find out about Deanna, it would have to be quick.

One afternoon on the planet, she was piloting a Raptor with a Lieutenant from the William Adama. They were scouting an area that was about twenty-five kilometers Southeast of where the parties had been dropped a quarter century ago. They were near a much smaller city, which had probably been akin to a suburb on Earth-well, the Earth she had lived on for years, she corrected herself. It was still fairly large, but they criss-crossed it several times.

After about fifteen minutes, the Lieutenant driving with her looked down and saw something that didn't quite belong in the ruins of a nuclear blast.

"Admiral!", she said urgently, but not loudly, "about four O'clock, do you see that?"

"That" was a structure that looked to be made of wood, which seemed out-of-place in the ruins of alabaster and concrete. "I see it, Lieutenant Farrell. It looks like wood?" she traded glances with the other female flying the Raptor, "I may not be the smartest person ever, Lieutenant, but I can't see a wooden structure like that surviving a nuclear blast."

"I think you're plenty smart, Admiral", the young woman smiled, "that had to be built after the war by someone."

Admiral Baltar paused for a moment, then depressed the transmitter on her headset, "Raptor 327, Adama"

"Adama Actual, go ahead 327". It was Lee.

"Admiral, this is Caprica, we're about twenty-five clicks Southeast of the original landing zone, and have spotted something that looks like investigating." She knew after a moment that had been kind of vague, but it was too late to take it back.

"What exactly is it, Admiral?", Lee answered back.

"It is a wooden structure that looks like it's been attached to the remains of a concrete building", she said, still looking at the site, "there's no way that could have survived a nuclear blast".

Within minutes, Lee had informed Gaius and Admiral Tyrol, who were both currently on the Roslin. He had instructed Caprica to observe only until they could get there in about forty minutes.

When Galen had radioed that they were approaching her position, Caprica had Lieutenant Farrell put their bird down. They both took their radiation shots, and watched Galen and Gaius land a short way to their right.

Gaius was the first to reach them, "You're right, Caprica", Gaius intoned. He had been glancing at the structure since before landing, "That had to be built long after the Holocaust down here."

"I'm not trying to dash your hopes, Caprica", Galen said delicately, "but there could have been a few survivors after the war ended, and they could have built it", he again surveyed the structure, that looked to be about fifteen feet by fifteen feet, "But looking at the structure, I'd have to guess it isn't two-thousand years old", he said with dripping sarcasm.

"Thanks for stating the fairly obvious, Mr. Tyrol", Gaius said with a snicker. It had taken him more than half his life to figure out irony and sarcasm, but not anymore.

"Let's move out then", Admiral Baltar ordered the foursome, "Lieutenant Farrell, I'll take point, you take the rear." They all knew that there was nobody here, but the moment one dropped military protocol was the moment things would go wrong.

"Aye, Admiral Baltar, I've got the caboose", which made the two males look at her with raised eyebrows.

It was only about one hundred yards to the compound, but they remained vigilant for that short distance. When they arrived, Caprica put her head into the doorway that had been carved out of the wood. It certainly hadn't been a professional job, but it was a doorway. Galen came around her and looked inside.

He whistled, "Someone lived her for a while, guys." There was a table, with a chair near it; what looked like a small wood-burning stove had been put in a corner, where it had a place to cook on the top. A crude bed was in the other corner, with a now-decaying blanket over it. And some remnants of clothing as well.

But no remains of a person.

"Alright, I want us to head out in different directions, and canvass the area, say, no more than a half mile out?", Caprica looked at the others. "Permission to enter any building remains, but stay safe, people."

"Sounds good, Boss", said Lieutenant Farrell. They all stepped out of the structure and divided up the territory in question into four areas, and began the search. They were in no hurry, and the weather was pleasant enough, so they were thorough in their search.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Gaius Baltar had gone off South and West of the wooden enclave. There was mostly open space in that direction, but there were remains of what looked like small shops or even homes in his path. After about twenty minutes, he reached the structures.

One was a two-story edifice, and from what Gaius could tell, it had possibly been something akin to a grocery store or a restaurant long ago. Had Deanna been here, he was sure no food had survived two Centuries, but it would be better than camping up in that wooden dorm. He searched the first floor, then the second, and didn't find anything. He moved on to the adjoining building.

This one had three stories partially intact. Again, the first floor looked like it had been a business of some kind, but when he got to the second floor, he says the remains of furniture and other home items that suggested this was a residence. He found nothing of interest on that level. He climbed to the third floor.

He surmised this had been the sleeping level. The stairways had been made of concrete, not wood and had survived the calamity. He could see several rooms off the stairway, which were no doubt bedrooms. He entered the first one...

There were the remains of a mattress on the floor, but no bed frame. Several blankets were clearly on top of the remains of the mattress. He went to pull them back...

He didn't respond with terror or shock, but with a realization that someone had died here. It could have been anyone, so his emotions didn't jump out at him.

"Gaius to Caprica", he said with no real emotion.

"Go ahead, Gaius", his wife responded.

"I'm going to light a smoke flare from where I'm currently at, I may have found something." Ten minutes later, they were all there at the entrance of the structure.

"Follow me", Gaius said and led them inside and up to the third level. They reached the bedroom, where there were clearly bones laying. Caprica entered the room.

She looked down at the bones, knowing that they could have been here for two Centuries, but she had to know. She kneeled down and touched the skull of the remains, and closed her eyes for a few moments.

Tears began forming in the corners of her eyes, and after a few moments, she glanced up at them, "It's Deanna", she said sadly. She knew what Deanna's fate would be when she remained behind, but it still hit her emotionally, "she died right here". The other three were silent. Caprica closed her eyes again and silently whispered a prayer over the remains in front of her. It was for Deanna, but in a way, it was for all her people who had died so long ago.

"Admiral, do you want me to get a team together to retrieve the remains?", Lieutenant Farrell said quietly.

"No, Sheila, that's all right, thank you", then she turned to Galen and Gaius. "Galen, I'm sure this is Deanna but is there any way to get some DNA samples before we bury her remains? I have DNA samples of all the models onboard the Adama. We can verify this."

"Of course, Admiral", Galen said for both of them, and he left to go to his Raptor and request a forensics team to carry out the request.

Two days later, Galen and Caprica buried the remains of their Cylon sister.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Five Days Later

The survey was complete. Not only had the Raptors surveyed the surface, but other equipment had surveyed the oceans and underneath the surface of the planet, to be studied at a later date. It would be at least a valuable historical record of this world, and the hope was that, someday, new life could spring up on the dead world.

The afternoon before The Fleet was to resume the journey to The Colonies, Kara called her parents and her siblings together, and informed them they were going to the surface for a brief time. Her mother, Nick, and Abby hadn't figured out what they were going down for. But they went anyway.

Once on the surface, Kara allowed them to see with their eyes, the destruction around them. It had literally taken their breaths away. "I thought it was important for all of you to see what happened to the people on this world, so that we don't forget them, and that we won't repeat their mistakes."

"I can't imagine what it was like here when the war broke out", her mother whispered, aghast at the sight.

"That isn't the reason I brought you down here, guys", and she bade them to follow her. She went up to her mother and clasped her hand, and they moved out. Like before, it took about ten minutes to get to the spot. And, like before, slowly the image of a Viper Cockpit appeared before them.

They now knew why Kara had brought them here. Seeing the cockpit had instantly stunned them.

Nick being the soldier, kept his emotions in check, but it clearly was tearing at him. Abby was in tears the moment she saw the cockpit. Jody Bond hadn't gotten emotional until she saw the word Lieutenant Thrace, written in Caprican on the side, she broke down at that moment.

"I brought dad here when we first arrived." Kara said emotionally, but knowing she had made peace with whatever had taken place here. "This is where I found 'me', or what looked like me, when I was here twenty-five years ago." She paused while even Nick broke into tears.

"Dad and I didn't find any answers here, beyond simply the unanswerable questions that remain", she said, looking at the cockpit, "but I want you to know that I've made my peace with whatever happened here."

Abby had come up on the other side of her mother, and she and Kara supported her. Judith Bond was weeping as hard as she had in her entire life. Kara reflected again what incredible people her parents were.

"I know it's a shock to see this place in person finally", she then smiled, "and don't feel bad, dad was an emotional wreck when he saw it as well.", which made them all laugh through their tears.

"I wanted to bring you hear to let you know that I'm past this part of my life. Maybe dad is still right: maybe this was God showing me what might have happened to me if I didn't become a better person. I don't know", she said honestly, but without overt emotion this time, "But what I know, with all my heart, is these events were the beginning of leading me to you", she said, with tears finally breaking out, but tears of pride at being surrounded by the most important people in her life, "Without whatever happened here, I probably don't find you, or you me. But what matters is that the four of you helped me get beyond this place of mystery and uncertainty. And as I bury it in my past for all time, I wanted you to be here to bury it with me."

Her mother struggled to regain her composure. Like her husband, the physical presence of this cockpit, and the thought of Kara seeing...herself...here, had hit her with a emotional wave that she hadn't been prepared for. "Kara...", she stifled more cries, "I'm glad you brought us here, darling", her mom turning toward her with tears, but also with unrestrained love and pride on her face, "I'm glad we are here, as a family, as you put this moment in your past."

"I wouldn't be able to face this without the four of you", she said looking at all of them with immense pride, "I hope you don't mind that I made you all into emotional messes for a time", which made everyone laugh again. Then Kara turned to her mother.

"Mom, when you and dad adopted me, you made a commitment to always be there for me, to help me through any setback in my life, and you've done that", she said with strength, as she embraced the most wonderful woman she had ever known, "and as I told dad, it works both ways. The other reason I wanted to bring you here is to re-dedicate myself to all of you, to let you know that I'm here whenever you need me, even if I'm billions of miles away, and that together, we can overcome any obstacle."

Her mom cried some more. She eventually stepped back, and Kara gave her a long kiss on her cheek. Nick and Abby both came up to her, and embraced her for long stretches, and she kissed them both. Finally, she went up to her dad. Both of them were over the emotional impact of this place, and she embraced him fiercely, and he kissed her on the forehead.

See smiled up at him when she broke the embrace, and then took a cleansing breath, "Now, let's head to The Colonies", she said, and led them away from that place and put it forever in her past.

To be continued in the next story, Battlestar Galactica: Arrivals
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