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Earthman

Chaos_eternus

Title: Earthman
Author: chaos_eternus
Word Count: 18,449
Date: 08/11/04
Rating: T
Category: Action, Humour
Warnings: War... nothing much really.
Summary: Three Earthmen Trapped aboard the Galactica...
Spoilers/Disclaimers: Not much unless you havent seen the mini...

For the record: I do not own, nor do I claim ownership of characters or concepts from Battlestar Galactica

Chapter 1: In the Beginning

 

            “In the beginning there was light, or so they say. Personally I've never been a big believer in the bible, hell in anything remotely religious. I just believe in me, and my wingmates. Everything else isn't that important to a RAF pilot on combat operations, except if he is going to ‘buy' it, but that we tend not to think about.

            “Anyway, from who knows where and who knows how, the RAF had managed to quietly get enough money from the government for us brits to finally have a true space program of our own, not just one that rides on the back of NASA, ESA and the Russians. How they managed that I don't know, talk about your Herculean tasks, getting money off Labour for anything new is like trying to shut up a group of gossiping housewives for more than 10 seconds, not gonna happen”

            “But still, somehow, someway they had managed it, and without twenty trips through parliament too”

            “So here I was, a 25 year old veteran strapped to something created out of 20million individual pieces, each one made by the lowest bidder, something to make you feel real safe when your about to blast off, with a few thousand tonnes of propellant shoved up your arse on a craft which you are getting the pleasure of test piloting”

            “It was fun. Really”

            “At this point, the aging 747 Classic, bought second hand of British Airways we are using to carry the Tempest, as this baby is called, has just reached release height, and I was quickly running through the final checklist, all checks out okay, when the first slight hint of what's to come is heard over the radio”

            “Ground Control, this is Mother Goose, anything on meteorological? We're seeing some weird atmospheric effects ahead, almost like a stuffed cloud”

            <NB: Stuffed Cloud- Heavy Flak in Clouds>

            “Negative on that Mother Goose, weather shows nothing, nothing on Radar or the real-time sat feed, are you aborting?”

            “Negative, must just have been a reflection or something, we are go here”

            “Copy, begin final launch sequence”

            “At which point, I was hitting controls and flicking switches all over the place, and had no time to wonder about the strange messages floating between Mother Goose and Ground Control, several miles below, we were go, so I had a lot of work to do”

            “We launched, that is me Wing Commander Nichol Foster, my co-pilot who is also a Wing Commander, Donnelly, the Engineer Flight Lieutenant Dafydd and the engines ignited perfectly, sending us barrelling the last few miles to orbit at roughly five times the speed of sound, ‘cause not going vertical as the American Space Shuttle used to meant we could go slower and use less fuel”

            “Anyway, we were barrelling along, almost at orbit, we had certainly left atmosphere when it happened, the craft shook as if grabbed by pair of mighty hands, each one struggling for control over us, the screens and readouts going wild for a brief while before flickering off, and Ground Control faintly screaming for us over the radios, shouting that we had just disappeared off their screens. That stopped abruptly, the shaking with it and we sat their in our seats as an unfamiliar red gas giant, with three large rings and a moon the size of Earth”

            “We had either had drunk some well spiked drink or we were, to put it mildly, up the creek without a paddle”

            “Which was when it happened, a strange tri-winged fighter, painted a faded, battered white with red highlights flashed past the cockpit, followed by a second, a third, a whole squadron”

            “I glanced around my crew, and the same sure knowledge was written on the faces on each of them, we weren't exactly in Kansas anymore”

 

Chapter 2

 

            “Well, then I saw the light, and it wasn't any religious type deal, it was just a big ship, and when I say big I mean big. As in swallow a supertanker and have room for a destroyer or two type big. And it was a warship. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind about this, I was a serving RAF officer, I had spent time on the piddling little things the Royal Navy likes to call carriers, my family had all been Navy, so I knew a warship when I saw one.

            And this was a big honking ship; the sort that screams I'm big, I'm important and I can take nearly everything on, all by my lonesome. And judging by the visuals, she had tried too at least once recently.

            And she appeared to be interested in us.

            Strangely enough, I think I would be interested in us too if I was them.

            Well, my engineer Dafydd shows that brain he's renowned for and begins cycling through the radios, looking for any transmissions from our ‘friends' out there.

            Well, we didn't know who we were listening too when we picked the transmissions up because we didn't understand a single-sodding word of it.

            I knew English and bad English, so I wasn't much help in this, Dafydd knows Welsh and French and Donally knew German, Russian and Ancient Sumerian, something he has always told us not to task too many questions about.

            And we didn't recognise a root word, a style of language, nadda.

            We were to put it mildly, screwed.

            ‘Cos when the local big boy says jump, it's certainly a good idea to say “How High Sir?” like a good recruit, and unfortunately, while we had certainly found the big boy in town, we certainly couldn't tell what they were or rather might be saying to us, and that is a bad thing.

            See, if you don't answer the guys with guns coherently, they tend to use them, especially if they have a capital ship in the area to defend, just ask the American Supercarrier guys about that.

            Well, we tried jabbering away in English, followed by bursts in every language we knew, but got nowhere. It appeared they didn't understand a word of it, we just hoped they got the point that we didn't understand a word so please kindly don't shoot the unarmed, un-armoured shuttle.

            Maybe they did, ‘cos twenty minutes later, we were still alive and the channels were buzzing, it sounded like at least another forty ships were headed our way, either the big boy had called in friends or they were just a scout.

            Just a scout? Christ, if that thing is just a scout, wonder what the real big boys are like?

            Then it happened, a clang sounded through the ship as something hit us and boy, did we set a speed record getting our suit helmets back on and sealed.

            Then the airlock activated, a very distinctive sound, even muffled by our suits and we realised with horror we were being boarded.

            Into our small craft strode three heavily armed, highly wary individuals. They looked human in every respect despite the lack of knowledge of any of our languages and humanities lack of any big arse space warships.

            Leader boy appeared to be a grim, unrelenting type, all attitude and no fun, ‘cept to those he felt safe enough around to drop the mask a bit, I'm sure you know the type.

            Number two had attitude in spades, it rolled off her, not in a bad way but a Tom Cruise in Top Gun type way, I'm the best, I know it, got a problem? She was tall, blonde and had a cigar stuck in her mouth.

            If number three was anything other than a tech, a spare body they grabbed to make up the numbers, I'd eat my spacesuit. She was small, dark haired with dirt and oil ingrained into her tiny hands, tiny hands which made me very nervous, shaking hands with guns in them is very definitely not a good thing, especially when the gun is aimed at me.

            Well, number two spotted my nervous glance and sent the techie running though the shuttle, obviously searching for other people.

            Well, she found no one, there was no one there to find, but she was certainly jabbering away a lot to the other two when she came back, she seemed amused and almost contemptuous. It didn't take a lot to guess she was telling them about the comparative joke that is our shuttle.

            That I didn't like, but couldn't really do anything about, what with a big honking language barrier between us and all.

            Obviously coming to some decision, grim and unrelenting gestured us out of the shuttle with his pistol, holding it to my back as we were taken into what could only be described as a better shuttle, a tall young dark haired women at the controls. She looked a nice enough type; her eyes were smiling, kindly but had a distinct edge of pain, of loss to them. But something about her was… off. That is the only word to describe it really, like something wasn't quite right about her.

            Not that I could investigate that, under the circumstances.

            With a metallic clunk, the shuttle detached from our shuttle and we were away, from the view out the front, I guessed we were heading towards the big boy we had seen.

            This could be interesting”

 

Chapter 3

 

            “The officer who met us off that shuttle, well if he wasn't the CO then we were really in trouble.

            He had command presence.

            In spades, buckets and whatever else you cared to mention.

            With a sort of curious detachment I found myself saluting and at full attention. I hadn't even noticed it happening, but a quick shift of my eyes showed both my engineer and co-pilot flashing parade quality salutes to the dark haired man with the lined face and commanding presence.

            If the slight glimmering in his eyes told me anything, it was that we had just told him a lot, and he was amused and pleased.

            That ended when Leader Boy said something in that weird, unfamiliar language and we were shot a slightly startled look followed by one familiar to anyone who knew of that Irish arsehole, Murphy. You know the one, the look that says ‘Figures' and is apparently recognisable even aboard alien spaceships.

            I shot a double take then, glancing swiftly between leader boy and command presence, which got me a slight twinkle in the eye and a nod from command presence, they were related.

            Now that's nepotism at work for you, I wonder if Leader boy had had an accelerated career, then I glanced again at command presence and guessed not, he didn't seem the type to favour his own family, in fact he seemed to be the type who would push them further, expect more of them because they were family.

            But that still left us with one problem…

           

Notepads and paper didn't work, seemed we had different alphabets as well as spoken languages, nor did Sign language, which Dafydd had learned so he could speak to a deaf niece of his.

They caught on quickly that it was a language of some sort and it had them surprised and excited, making me wonder if they had any forms of sign language at all where they came from but it didn't help, they didn't know sign language and we didn't know how to teach it.

Back to square one.

On the off chance, Donally tried writing some Sumerian. It being a long dead form of communication and all we didn't think it had any chance of working. Interestingly enough it generated more of a reaction then any other type of writing we had chosen, they recognised it.

But couldn't understand it.

At that point, I made a few subtle comments regarding Murphy's parentage and love life that had Donally and Dafydd shooting me impressed and a little scared looks and the local boys glancing at me amused, they got the tone and the meaning even if they didn't understand the words.

I think I even got an ‘amen to that' off broody who had just walked up with a message for the commander on a narrow sheet of old style dot-matrix paper with the corners clipped. Now this one was a person to watch if ever I saw one, an old brawler and a one-time binger if I am any judge. Certainly someone who knew how to handle himself in a fight but not necessarily the most personable of people, the sort of person who was most likely to need a kick up the arse every now and again to keep them on track, and judging by the harsh looks techie was shooting him, somebody who wasn't all that well respected.

This was getting interesting.

 

I take it back; this was boring, insulting and irritating.

They stuck us in infant's school.

Of all the indignities, they stuck us, veteran RAF officers in infant's school!

I know one of us would have to learn the others language somehow but surely there was a better way than this.

It didn't help that the Guards we had been assigned hadn't stopped shaking with laughter since we had been shoved in here, it didn't help that even the kids had a tendency to burst out laughing at us.

It really didn't help at all, but maybe…

Grinning, I decided that if we had to learn their language, well then those guards had better learn ours too. I explained my plan quickly to my crew, who shot the guards maniacal grins that wiped the smiles right off their faces.

 

A choked burst of laughter made me look up to see Mrs Top Gun and Mr Grim & Unrelenting standing in the doorway, fixed expressions on their faces as they watched the guards plough through the hastily drawn English Alphabet/Numbers sheets we had thrown together while beside them we tried to learn theirs.

The exchange between them needed no translation; being an obvious ‘we gotta tell everyone about this', followed by an anguished ‘no!' from our friends the guards and a smirking ‘carry on' from Mrs Top Gun as they left again.

I was actually becoming quite surprised by exactly how much communication I was actually able to understand without any common language between us, maybe the shrinks were right when they said, 90% of all communication involved no words at all?

Naahhh… the day I admit a shrink has something useful to say is the day the sky falls in.

 

Chapter 4

 

            The next day I was abruptly shaken out of my bed by the biggest rumble I ever felt, it certainly beat the 6.0 I had felt in Los Angeles one year whilst on holiday with my mother.

            The ship shook as if grabbed with a mighty hand, as if tossed adrift into the heart of a triple-header. At that point I wondered if it was up, if a mighty wall of flame was about to come tearing up the ship to our guarded quarters, if the air was about to be sucked out into the vacuum of space…

            Actually, I had been wondering this for several minutes. A warship prepping for combat is a little hard to miss, what with the alarms, the shifts in lighting, the rumbling of many running feet as personnel surged across the ship, hurrying to their alert stations…

            A ship prepping for battle could never be described as subtle, not for the bigger vessels anyway.

            The worst thing was actually the sense of helplessness. We were military officers and we were cooped up during an obvious crisis, not allowed to leave our generously sized quarters to help in anyway.

            Actually, that had me a little worried in other ways.

            I wasn't blind.

            In fact, my eyesight was abnormally acute.

            I could easily see the signs of long-term occupancy. This room not so long ago had held far more people than it currently did.

            In fact, if I was any judge, there had been a full squadron's worth of people in here plus room for a few spare and support pilots.

            That was worrying, especially since the ship we were on appeared not only to be a carrier but on Combat Operations. No one drops a full squadron from a carrier on Combat Operations if they can avoid it. It's virtual suicide!

            “Boss?” Donally chose this time to break me from my increasingly morbid thoughts, a worried frown on his face as he nodded towards the door. “It sounded like the guard just hit the door, hard, sir”

            Well, I might have the sight but Donally had the Ears and Dafydd had pure instinct for anything engineering so if the ‘Ears' said our guard was down, then the guard was down.

            And if so, we needed to try to get him some assistance.

            Quickly diving from our scattered positions across the room we trampled our way to the airlock, Dafydd taking the lead, quickly figured out how to bypass the simple lock that been added to the door.

            We found out quickly Donally was right. The guard was down, having been propelled into the wheel of the airlock with some force.

            We did what we could for him, but none of us had more than Field Medics' qualifications. We were no doctors and this man needed serious medical help.

            We were aboard a warship in combat, still didn't speak the language and had somebody in need of serious medical attention, what else could go wrong?

            I knew as soon as I thought it, that I was tempting fate.

            I was right.

            A panel down the corridor exploded, sending fire gushing with a whomph into the corridor.

            Ah yes, that was what was needed.

            Damn you, Murphy, you Irish bastard.

 

Chapter 5

 

            First, avoid roaring flames by diving the hell out of the way.

            Check and ouch.

            Second remove Donally's boot from my face. Checked off.  Also make mental note about getting some washing done for all of us, erghhh his foot stank.

            Third, examine team mates and the guard for injury -- well, further injury.  Guard is still out cold

            Fourth, curse as I notice Dafydd broke his arm diving for safety, bloody brilliant.

            Okay, fifth check out the fire.

Contemplate running from fire.

Forget checklist, “Guys, now might be a real good time to evac.”

            They take one glance and jump to their feet, eager to clear Dodge, especially Dafydd who, just to fill me with a complete sense of ease, mutters something about a fuel line under his breath.

            Okay, so we need to evac, let's just start the check on that one now.

            We race swiftly through the corridors away from the fire, through quiet, largely abandoned and under-populated corridors hoping to reach an area with crew, officers just someone we could try and communicate with, well as fast as you can race with an unconscious guard slung over the shoulder and a team mate with a broken arm, IE, not very fast at all.

            We arrived at last in a massive chamber, apparently some kind of cathedral with clear glass windows all along its massive length showing a magnificent view of space, and rows of seating facing a massive stage on which what appeared to be religious accoutrements lay alongside a bank of microphones on an announcing platform.

            But the view… without a doubt this room was dominated by the view.

            However, it begged the question: why have this large a religious meeting place, or whatever they called it, on a warship when this space could easily accommodate a full squadron of fighters?

            Shrugging, I buried this anomaly in a rapidly bloating file in my mind labelled “aliens.”

            At least this room was occupied, and by a priest or their equivalent. With a presence like that, she could be nothing else.

            “Excuse me!” I called, knowing she would not understand but that it would get her attention.

            Startled, she jumped up from her prayers, glancing around to us, composing herself surprisingly quickly.

            First off, we showed her Dafydd's arm and the guard. She seemed to understand and tried to lead us away, presumably to medical or whatever they called it.

            But we still had to explain about the fire.

            Gestures didn't do it, though it got the idea across we had something important to say.

            Neither did sound effects, though she did have to struggle to hide a smile at several and at least one caused her to blush.

            I decided not to question her about that if we ever figured out each other's language. I got the idea that I didn't want to know.

            Finally, Dafydd growled in exasperation and pulled the pad and pen with his good arm from my pocket.  Dropping them on the nearest table, he drew quickly and with an impressive efficiency a pipe with a break, liquid gushing from it.

            That made the Priest look worried.

            Then Dafydd added the flames.

 

            BSG-75 Command

 

            “Frak!” the word spat with venom from Tigh's mouth as he listened to Elosha's  words over the old-fashioned phone.

            “Tigh,” Adama's gruff voice made Tigh look up sharply as he dropped the phone back into its holder, “Manoeuvring Starboard are complaining about thrusters not responding as well as they should, both the fore and aft arrays”

            Tigh grimly nodded as he reached for the intercom, “DC parties 1 through 4 to starboard bay, fire in main thruster line between sections 2 and 8.”

            Adama stopped walking away and shot Tigh a worried look over his shoulder as Tigh continued, “DC party 5, reroute thrusters through B line and shut the main line off, priority”

           

 

A fire on a major fuel line, whilst in combat.

            Murphy had come to visit the colonials.

 

Chapter 6

 

            Things got interesting then, as half the ships crew seemed to find urgent reason to race through the cathedral to the fiery corridor beyond.

            It wasn't just DC parties, we could tell who they were by all the protective gear, all the equipment and the organised way in which they moved, No, it was staffers, civilians, the works.

            I took a wild off-the-wall guess and decided it really was a fuel line burning.

            Which rated a 'damn,' quite possibly a 'bugger'; maybe even an ‘Oh bloody hell'.

            It didn't take a genius to figure out that Fire+ fuel line+ spacecraft= Very bad idea, possibly a fatal idea.

            But we couldn't do anything about it.

            Just watch.

            As the corridor began to grow visibly brighter, as people with more hoses and extinguishers poured into the corridor.

            As everyone poured out of the corridor, sharply abruptly.

            As the blast doors slammed shut.

            As a great roaring, rumbling filled the room.

            As Techie led a team towards several hidden valves, swiftly shutting them down, the stars beyond stopping their manoeuvring as she did so.

            As they hastily rigged a bypass the ship rumbled and shook, obviously under heavy fire.

            As the stars shifted again when the bypass was completed.

            As the three of us stared wide-eyed and shocked at the moving stars and realized exactly what that fuel line had powered.

            Manoeuvring.

In the middle of combat, the ship we were on had lost the ability to manoeuvre.

            Well, that rated a bloody F'ing hell for definite, talk about dangerous.

            No ability to dodge incoming fire, no ability to make the enemy work to actually target you….oh yeah, fun.

            Now we just had to explain to the nice men with the big guns how we were not responsible, how the guard had really gotten the nice little bump on his head.

            Oh yeah, fun. Not.

 

            In the end, we were lucky.

            They didn't try to ask. I got the impression that somebody; probably Command Presence, could add one and one and get the annual revised budget request.

            We got the distinct impression we were considered heroes, of sorts.

            Not that that mattered too much, there was still the little issue of a language barrier.

            Turns out, they had been working on that too.

           

            Priestly came up to us one day in the mess. The guards were sitting with us once more, running through their homework, which was basic pronunciation in English, that's proper English, not American English or Australian English to all you bloody colonials out there… heh…

Anyway, she comes up to us, and with a curious expression, haltingly says something in a rather guttural language.

Donally spat his ‘coffee', such as it was, out, spraying it the length of the table and across the guard's workbooks. The resultant look from the guards was an interesting mix of disgust, resignation and amusement.

“Can you talk this?” Donally translated slowly, hesitatingly.

We shot each other startled, relieved looks, communication of a kind, at last.

 

Chapter 7

 

            “Debase… the… beef… canoe” Donally finished the translation with a bemused grin. Unable to help himself he added in his worst Spike impersonation, mangling the quote badly, “Now why do I think that's not right?”

            Dafydd shot me a tolerant look to which I replied, “Well we can't kill him, he's the only one with brains amongst them.

            I grinned as Dafydd groaned, “Can't you stop the Buffy quotes, please?”

            “You know, I could slay a nice beef stake right now” Donally commented, an expression of angelic innocence across his face.

            Dafydd groaned, burying his face in his hands as Donally and I traded devilish, or should I say, demonish grins.

            Which disappeared pretty snappishly when Priestly, sorry, Elosha's hand slapped down on the table, an exasperated expression plastered across her normally placid and calm face.

            It appeared we might have been trying her patience a bit.

            Again.

            Well we had a right to be a little high-spirited, we had finally figured out how to speak to those bloody Colonials!

            I grimaced inwardly, I would never ever be able to use that phrase in reference to the Yanks again. I think these ‘Colonials' had the Americans beaten for sheer distance colonised, even if they did appear to have a few odd ideas about the origin of the species.

            Earth a colony world indeed! Even I had watched enough Discovery Channel to know that was total bull.

            But as yet, we couldn't communicate enough detail to tell them that in no-uncertain terms, and as yet only Elosha and Donally could understand each other. Meanwhile, me and Dafydd plus our two friends the guards had been roped into Ancient Sumerian lessons.

            Luckily, variations between Donnally's and Elosha's versions of Sumerian appeared to be few and far between though they had caused a few funny in retrospect misunderstandings along the way, especially when we found out we used opposite sounds for male and female.

            And that is a story I am never putting in the report, in my memoirs or writing down anywhere else.

            And anyone who asks is going to disappear.

            Seriously.

            Don't ask what I'll do if they ask about the drawings, because you don't want to know…

            Anyway, it turns out Elosha had had to learn the language only because some of the very oldest religious texts of the Colonials were written in that language, and they do a comparison every ten years to make sure the words in the books, that is the new reprints, are identical to the original.

            She had gotten ‘lucky' and drawn the task last time. It had taken her eight of the ten years to complete the job.

            Lucky her, really, but at least the Colonial Priest onboard this rather odd warship was the best. They would need it with the kind of convoy they appeared to be escorting I assumed back to Colonial space.

            After ten years of reading the damn books, her knowledge ought to be encyclopaedic after all.

            But it still didn't answer one question, where in the hell had Donally picked up Ancient Sumerian?

            The muttered response of ‘national security' was very helpful in that regard, not.

            Well, me and Dafydd, we decided to make a vow, that we would find out where Donally learnt Samarian before we finished learning the basics of the language.

 

 

Chapter 8

 

            Well this was fun.

            Really.

            Almost as much fun as getting an acid enema.

            Let's see, try explaining to these pig-headed Colonials that everything they thought they knew about human evolution is total BS when you don't have any evidence to hand and you still don't understand each other perfectly. Real fun.

            “We have missing link skeletons, and we have mapped the path of human evolution” Exasperated, Donally repeated himself.

            “Impossible, the book of Kobol clearly states…”

            This time, Donally didn't resist and snorted out loud, “Yeah, like nobody has ever written a bunch of lies down and tried to called it religion.

            I glared at Donally, my Sumerian might not be the best but even I could tell Donally had just screwed up. “Ever hear of diplomacy, Don?”

           

            “You think maybe we pissed them off?” Donally asked idly, his arms resting on the bars of the cell.

            “No,” I grunted, acidly, “I think you pissed them off and us two got caught in the crossfire” I paused, and added darkly, “Again”

            Donally grunted, “How was I to know they would be so touchy?”

            Dafydd rolled his eyes. “Remember the basic psyche-war course we attended?”

            “Yes,” Donally replied, confused.

            “What was number one on the list of things to say if you really wanted to piss someone off?” Dafydd continued, walking up behind Donally.

            Still confused, Donally replied, “Well, insult their… oh.” Light dawned.

            “Exactly!” Dafydd said, clipping Donally around the ear. “Insult their religion, and what did you do?”

            Donally groaned, his head bowed.

 

            It was two days before they let us out, two long boring days.

            And in the end, they kicked us out and a disgruntled Mrs. Top Gun was kicked straight in.

            Which was odd, because I figured there would probably be more cells on a ship this size.

            But we shrugged it off.  We were free and Mr. Grim and Unrelenting was waiting for us, shooting Mrs Top Gun a wry glare as he started to lead us away from the cell, through the corridors and up through officer country.

            And into command.

            We stared, this was the first time we had seen the Command Centre, the heart of the warship we were on and it was impressive. Large TFT panels everywhere, crew efficiently manning stations despite being distracted by the government types trying to chat them up…

            And through command we were swiftly led to what was obviously a meeting room and a high profile one at that.

            And inside a new figure awaited us.

            And this one I instantly dubbed ‘President.'      

This was obviously the civilian leader, and now we had to deal with her.

Things were once again, about to get interesting.

 

Chapter 9

 

            Okay, I may not be the best of judges but I am pretty observant and I don't think I would be too far off if I said the local civilian leader was ill, very very ill.

As in terminal.

Which was interesting, as you would thought they would have replaced a civilian leader who was terminal…

The icy cold pit of fear that had started to appear in my stomach solidified as the clues started to click together, the constant attacks, the overworked crew, the apparent lack of any support, the slowly dropping numbers of fighters and pilots…

This was just starting to scream fugitives to me, and yet they all seemed too solid, too normal to be criminals and that only led to fugitives from an alien race bent on their destruction.

Bugger, fuck damn and hell, I really hoped I was wrong otherwise we would be revisiting too many bad science fiction clichés for this to be a good thing.

Well, President noticed the wary look in my eyes apparently and just nodded slightly in my direction.

Well, shit.

It looked like we were about to get the full story anyway, with thanks to Donally's translation skills.

            “Centuries ago, the cylons were created to make life easier on the colonies, to do all the dangerous or dirty tasks we no longer wished to do…”

            I rolled my eyes at this point, I really didn't need to hear more to know where this was going, “why do I get the impression somebody forgot about Asimov's Laws of Robotics?”

            Donally and Dafydd shot me wry, agreeing looks, they too could add, they too had figured where this was going…

            “Then” Donally continued the slow translation, “the day came when the Cylons decided to kill their masters”

            Yep, no surprises there then, these guys really need to read some more science fiction, either that or watch it on TV, wasn't there a movie in '78 that was similar to this scenario?

            Anyways, Donally continues through the war up till Armistice…

            And once again, we roll our eyes at the inevitable. No contact? That just screams trouble, military build up. Dropping the sensible precautions of no-networking and the like when you know you have a race of hackers who have tried to destroy you and are incommunicado? Now that was just stupid.

            Our friends, the guards, who still haven't told us their proper names, could understand what we were saying and they appeared to be crushed. I had to feel sorry for them, it seemed they had maintained sanity just by not really considering what had really caused their homes to be destroyed and I could certainly sympathise up to a point, but as always they had invited the bloody horse in, found it was uncontrollable and tried to kick it out again… only to leave the bloody barn door open and later add an invite to the door.

            From what we were hearing, sheer unthinking stupidity destroyed the colonies; in fact, it had the earmarks of politicians all over it.

            And now the colonials watched us, wanting to hear our side of the story, where we came from, what we could do to help them.

            Which was sweet fuck all.

            The devastated looks on their faces told me Donally had translated that literally. But what else could we say, Earth was not advanced, our technological abilities appeared to be way below the colonials in many ways and we could do little against an enemy that believed in coventrating their targets from space.

            Of course, if they went for a land assault, we could kick their arses with ease, but that was unlikely to happen.

            Now that raised eyebrows, and we had to explain exactly why Earth was groaning under the weight of war machines and armies.

            They actually got interested at that point, though their crazy idea of going to Earth, assuming we could pinpoint its location, and using the massive military support base for a rapid build up, plain hoping that the cylons disappeared long enough for them to build up a reasonable force…

            Yeah, right, like that was going to happen.

            They correctly interpreted our cynical, disbelieving expressions and shrugged, it was just an idea.

            But for now, they just wanted Earths location…

            Which meant the Tempests Computers, and I was beginning to suspect those computers would be a shock to the colonials…

 

Chapter 10

 

            As it turned out, we didn't actually get to Tempest before the secret got out.

            Donally translated the question that let the cat out of the bag, and we had to blame it all on ‘Command Presence', sorry Adama. I know his name now; I really should get into the hang of using it but ‘Command Presence' fits him so well.

            “Technology-wise, how does Earth compare to what you have seen?”

            The room fell dead silent.

            You could have heard a pin drop, easily.

            Well, we Earthmen exchanged glances, and basically began an unspoken conversation and not much of a pleasant one at that.

            "What can we tell them, really?" I asked Donally.

            They seemed to be nice, to be the good guys but there is a very good reason one of the standard briefings for everyone, including one that the NASA pukes, that basically goes “Do NOT lead any aliens to Earth."

            They may act, look and behave friendly but you have no way of knowing for definite. And to be perfectly honest, aliens showing up, even if they truly are friendly are going to cause CHAOS.

            Capital C, capital H, capital A, capital O, capital S.

            On the other hand, let's just say, if these ‘Colonials' were telling the truth about where humanity came from("Yeah right …" was my response to that idea) but if they were telling the truth then I knew exactly which group had ended up on Earth.

            The whack jobs, religious nuts and the like. We certainly had far more of those than the Colonials appeared to, but maybe we should reserve judgement on that. After all we were on a military ship that would have restricted access at the best of times, let alone in a war that would make survivalists ecstatically happy.

            By now the Colonials were getting worried, they didn't know what we were saying but they knew it couldn't be good.

            The end result of our quiet discussion was unfortunately the only real choice we could make.

            Donally, now speaking fluently in the Sumerian derivative we used to communicate with the colonials, the result of all the practise he had been having today, dropped the bomb.

            “As far as we can tell, barring one or two exceptions, Colonial technology is far advanced beyond Earth capabilities”

            The room fell dead silent again, the only noise being the slight rocking of the chairs as the Colonials almost as one, dropped back in their seats, dismayed by the latest information.

            They should really have figured that out before now though. They had access to Tempest, they had to know what she was capable off, hell it wasn't as if we could stop them going aboard really.

            And they had had enough other clues as well. All the Earth wars we told them about that would have redirected resources away from research, the fact that we hadn't mentioned any space forces when we gave a very brief overview of the groaning weight of Earth's military resources…

            But Broody, sorry Tigh, apparently had caught the qualifier we had placed on that statement and maybe he had gotten a hunch or something because he suddenly rose upwards in his seat and jumped on it.

            “What do you mean, barring one or two exceptions?”

            “Well…” Donally shrugged, “your computer hardware is a joke, your programming languages are DOS era… hell, I have so far seen no indication you have any form of 32-bit processing.”

            Baltar, a man who all of us had been watching very, very closely, blinked at that point and finally started to show some sort of interest. “32-bit processors are restricted technology, only used for the most up-to-date and powerful mainframes. Where did you hear of them?”

            We shot him a look.

            “Oh right…” he chuckled nervously, his hand moving as if to brush something off his shoulder, an impression that was reinforced by the glare he shot over his shoulder, something he brought quickly under control.

            We exchanged significant glances with each other; this guy was most likely certifiable.  I labelled him "Psycho."

            “…it's not as if you have broken the mythical gigahertz barrier”

            We turned as one, and turned a matching set of two-thousand watt smug grins at ‘Psycho'.

            “You haven't, have you?”

 

Chapter 11

 

            “It shouldn't be possible; I mean, yes, in different cultures advancement will proceed according to different motivating forces but theoretically not to such a massive extent.” Baltar words made me grin as we walked swiftly through the corridors to the portside Launch bay where Tempest was currently stored.

            The flaw in his argument was evident even to me.

            “Well,” I said slowly, giving Donally a lot of time to keep up with the translation, “that depends really, but in your case you have a society in which computer development was almost completely stifled during the cylon wars.  From what you have said, the gloves never came firmly off which meant your computer research never developed as fast as it could.”

            I paused, so Donally could catch up as I contemplated how to get the final point across, “Whereas in our society there was never any restrictions on computer research, and no restrictions on where computers were placed.”

            “Well, yes I can see how that would lead to your computer technology being more advanced, but to the extent you claim?”

            I rolled my eyes, for a supposedly brilliant mind, Baltar could be so dense.

            “Home computing. Baltar, imagine how much commercial interest the ability to have a PC in your home would generate if you had no forms, no ‘social rating' required to own one.”

            “Again, point in your favour but still I can't see it, I mean computers are only really good for office work and you do not require a particularly powerful computer for that.”

            At which point the launch bay crew got to see three earthmen collapsing in laughter at the entrance to the bay, something which made Baltar look very off put.

            Though I suppose it made sense, if computers were controlled items restricted to those who had official need for one, well there would be pretty much no market for PC games and the like and therefore most homes would never had a need, though want might be a better word, for a PC and the sheer volume of money available for R&D we have on Earth just wouldn't be there. I mean, the bulk of computers on Earth have their office software used once a month or less but their PC games?

            Daily usage, I can guarantee you.

            “Well,” I was finally able to continue, “your money for research comes from commercial, military and government right?”

            “Well, if you take commercial as big businesses, yes.”

            “Right, well where we come from they don't bother.  They know they could never hope to match the sheer volume of money that comes from the home market, they tend to just use off the shelf components developed for the home market now.

            It didn't take a genius to note that Baltar, not to mention Adama and Roslin weren't buying it.

            This was starting to get a bit old.

            “Look, assume there is no restrictions on PC use, what do you think the first thing most people are going to put on their PC's?”

            “Well, office applications and the like.”

            Roslin and Adama rolled eyes in tune with us after that, but it was Adama who pointed out the obvious, “Games and porn.”

            “Bingo!” I answered, “and nothing stresses a computer more then running games programs because the programmers always try to make the game as good as they can, stressing the components and encouraging the purchase of a more powerful PC, one that can run the games with all the bells and whistles actually turned on. Of course, more powerful PC's come on the market and the games programmers automatically build their games around the higher specification so they can produce a better, more realistic game. That encourages the buying of a newer PC and increasing the amount of money for R&D”

            I paused, “And porn just keeps the antivirus and firewall people happy, not to mention the bandwidth it chews up.”

            “Getting a bit cynical aren't you, Boss?” was Dafydd's response to that, but as far as I was concerned, it was true. Cynical doesn't always mean wrong after all, more often than not, it meant exactly the opposite.

            We'd arrived at the Tempest.

            “Dafydd, open her up and check out everything on the command deck. Donally and I will break out the workstations.”

 

Chapter 12

 

            Now, only one of the computers we had on Tempest was what you might call Top of the Range and that was naturally the PC we chose to show off first.

            I'm the closest thing to a PC expert we had in the crew and that just meant I knew how to put the damn things together and some basic diagnostics, but even I knew this thing was hot.  I should do, it was mine after all.

            Yeah, my PC from home was onboard the Tempest… What? You really think a government agency would fork out for a top-of-the-range model like this unless they, the bean-counters, were going to be using it? Not likely, no this one I had built myself just to replace one of the shuttle's standard workstations and as such it was a BEAST.

            256mb ram on the graphics card (scary thing is, I can remember when 256mb meant you had a top of the range hard disk. Boy have times changed since then!) that card had video in/out and a TV tuner, a pair of 400GB hard disks with passive cooling arrays, DVD-rewriter… well, I could go on for hours, but let's just say it was a HOT PC, and did I mention it had a 64-bit processor? 

            Now that I just had to show Baltar, not that I would show off or anything, oh no…

 

            All that, and in the end it was the graphics that shocked them the most, not the hard disk capacity, not the processor…

            Should have expected it, I suppose.  I mean the graphics card, or rather the work it did, was the most visible part of any PC, you just turned the PC on and there it was, usually.

            I really did get a kick out of showing them the NVIDIA demos though, they couldn't believe they were actually real time rendered, it seems they needed a supercomputer to do that and as for doing it in real-time? Forget it!

            But, four hours later, they got the picture. Earth had far better computer technology. At this point, they assumed lesson ended and started to leave.

            It wasn't.

            I had the Complete Britannica on DVD and that includes Star Charts.

            Fifteen seconds after those flicked onto the PC's screens, Adama was screaming for guards to be posted 24/7, or the colonial equivalent (it actually sounded like 26/8 to me) and for their own star charts to be brought down.

            Physical charts, on transparencies. That was a shocker to me. Okay, I knew they went for the low tech? Look, we had been told that.   But Geez, no one on Earth uses physical charts anymore? Even most water vessels use GPS systems and GPS Navigators now or the older inertial systems. Physical charts were moving towards being niche market items.

            But they used physical charts… which when I thought about it, made sense.  After all, if you are fighting a race that can infiltrate your computers how do you know if your charts on the computers haven't been messed with?

            But converting our standard charts to colonial or vice versa so a course could be worked out just went from difficult to straight to bloody horrible. I mean, I could have scanned their charts into my computer but without a program to convert or even figure out their charts formatting nor the skills to create such a program, it wouldn't have done any good.

            So it meant printing out the Britannica's charts and giving them to Adama and Tigh, who seemed to be the ships navigators as well as commanding officers, which seemed to be a bit odd to me, and letting them go and get on with the task.

            Meanwhile, we had to figure out how to get Roslin and Baltar, who were still hanging around, away from Tempest so we could get some sleep. After all, they weren't techs, who knew what they would touch?

            In the end, we didn't. Roslin mentioned that there was still a Cylon saboteur aboard Galactica and we decided it might be a good idea for one of us to stay with the bird all the time as well.  Now people were beginning to get the idea that something really valuable was on her (the guards were after all a big give away) well, then it was time to start taking more precautions.

            Naturally, the precautions didn't work as planned.

 

Chapter 13

 

            The first clue I had that something was wrong was the blaring of alert claxons across the ship, usually a dead give away that something wasn't kosher, followed by the rather shocking shout of "Intruder Alert," an intruder in the repair bay to be specific, the very same bay that Tempest was stored in.

            It didn't take a genius to do the maths on that one. No sign of intruders in the bays for months and yet as soon as the Colonials discover something really valuable is aboard our shuttle, we get an intruder alert.

            I quirked an eyebrow at Donally as he wryly commented, “Fifty quid says Tempest's the target of the intruder”

            I rolled off the bed, reaching swiftly for the colonial uniform I had been loaned whilst mine was being cleaned, “I don't take sucker bets”

            I noticed Donally palming a small handgun as we hurriedly dressed, and I shrugged and did the same.

            After all, we needed something just in case and Command back home had seen fit to provide us a safe containing four standard pistols and four trank guns but I would be really surprised if they had ever envisaged this scenario when they had snorted at international opinion and put the damned things aboard.

            Tigh at least had seen us remove the things from the safe, and hadn't commented, but then he would be used to pilots going everywhere with a gun in the holster. After all, all their pilots went on missions with them, and as we had seen, a lot never took them off.

            By now we were racing through the corridors, scattering ship's crew like skittles as we shouted for them to ‘make a hole'. After all that was our bird in danger and we wanted to get there fast, sod the fact that only fighter pilots and ship's security were supposed to have priority like that.

            Racing around a corner, I abruptly found myself flying backwards through the air, landing flat on my arse with Boomer's face just inches from my own.

            Boomer's very blank face.

            Boomer's very injured shoulder too, with what appeared to be a bullet hole in her uniform.

            A voice at the back of my head was just screaming for attention at this point but it hadn't quite registered what it was shouting about. The rather hate-filled expression that suddenly covered the normal nice and friendly face of Sharon Valerii got my attention though, as did the knife that appeared in her hand.

            It seems I had literally run into one of the ship's Cylon sleepers, beautiful.

            Now, I was no expert with knives but I had gone through basic therefore I had some idea of how to fight. My first response was rather knee-jerk in more ways than one and to a male, would have been rather painful. It distracted Boomer, or whatever was in control of Boomer's body for about half a second, before she smirked and tried to stab me. By this time however my hands were very firmly clenched around the knife and Donally was swinging his pistol with rather more force than was strictly necessary.

            The last thing I saw before Boomer's face crashed into my own was the hate vanish to be replaced by a very confused and above all else human expression. 

            Then her skull bounced off my own, and I knew no more.

 

            I awoke with not just the mummy, but the granddaddy of all headaches as well.

            It was like an artillery range had been set up in my head, like a hundred pneumatic drills were being used to repave my synapses.

            Needless to say, my first response to waking up was a not very intelligible groan. It got the Doctor's attention though…

            “Ahh you're awake, good.”

            Good? It sure as hell didn't feel that way at the time.

            The day from that point was pain-filled blur.  It seemed that not only had Boomer's skull bounced off my own, knocking me out and giving me a concussion, but the weight of her body falling on mine had forced the knife in between my ribs and into my left lung.

            And they couldn't do much about the lung whilst I had concussion, the explanation passing right over my head, even at the best of times my medical knowledge barely managed a first aid certificate but with a fifty gun salute sounding in my head, forget it!

 

            The next day passed in less of a blur, they managed to do whatever it was they needed to do to my lung, the fifty gun salute got downgraded to a five gun and Dafydd got the chore of telling me the Tempest's workstations had had a coronary and needed my delicate touch to get them working again.

            That I shrugged off.  So long as there was no physical damage all that would be lost would be anything we had written onto the computers since the mission started.

            And since the brown and sticky stuff had hit the rotary impacting device before we had even left Earth's atmosphere, well nothing new had been written onto the hard disks.

            This meant I could restore from the images I had stored on DVD with no worries… when I could get at the dammed things that is.

            Still, no one was telling me what exactly had happened to Boomer.

            Hey, I liked her and still did, despite the fact that there was a bloody chip in her head.  She didn't have any choice in that matter after all.

            Eventually, they gave up and told me.

            She was in solitary, which was understandable.  No one was allowed within arm's reach of her, less so and she was being denied any kind of medical treatment.

            Which wasn't understandable, not to me.

            Can't risk one of their few Doctors was what their words said, but their tones said clearly, we've written her off.

            Fuck that, you never ever write off one of your own, not unless they go genuinely traitor and Boomer wasn't a traitor, just the thing within her.

             The only reason they hadn't ‘dealt' with her was they hoped there was something on Tempest's computers that could be used to access the  information stored in Boomer's mind, or devise a defence against them.

            Fine, I would get the computers online when the Doc cleared me, but I wouldn't be looking for that.

            I would be looking for a cure.

 

Chapter 14

 

            It came as no real surprise to me that a cure wasn't exactly easy to find. Quite frankly, I would have done more than raise my eyebrows if Britannica had an article entitled “How to Cure Cylons” in its directories.

            I imagine it would have made Gaeta look a bit funny too, considering he had been posted as an assistant to this project. Of course, as far as I knew Adama and Roslin still thought this was a Cylon Detector come Cylon Interrogator project.

            Gaeta on the other hand appeared to be fully in support of my little side project and seemed to be spinning it to Command. I say "seemed" because I could just see Adama as the type to send a quiet off-the-record nod to this kind of project.

            Especially when we came up trumps on our first day of research with a likely Cylon detector that was reusable.  It was in common usage on Earth in fact, though not for this use.

           

            “What do you mean you have found a Cylon detector?” It was Baltar that voiced the question, apparently prompted by his invisible friend but nobody seemed inclined to do anything else until it was answered, which was fine by me.

            “Have you heard of Scanning Electron Microscopes?”

            Blank looks all around greeted that question, but I wasn't surprised, most likely they called it something else.

            “Right, well it's a microscope only unlike the light based microscopes used for most things, these use a beam of electrons controlled and manipulated by electromagnets”

            Lights went on in both Baltar and Roslin's eyes.

            “Yes,” Baltar interrupted, “that gives them far higher resolution than the theoretical limit for light-based scopes but I don't see what this has to do with Cylon detectors.”

            I shrugged, “Whoever said the sample had to be ‘dead' or even cut from the source?”

            Baltars jaw dropped slightly, but it was Roslin who said it aloud, “a beam of electrons would not harm the human body…”

            “Exactly,” I grinned, “and you could get cross-sections of the mind and everything at high enough resolutions that any artificial constructs would stick out like a sore thumb.”

            Adama raised an eyebrow, “Like a sore thumb?”

            “Just an expression, just an expression.” Okay, I was in a good mood. That was one major problem down for these refugees and it felt good.

            As did dropping the folders I had brought into the meeting in front of everyone, “That's everything I could find on MRI scanners.”

            I winced at their puzzled looks Whoops! Forgot to mention that. “Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scanners are what the scanners designed for use on humans are called.

            Anyways, here are some basic operating principles, and basic design specs but I found no full schematics, none of the advanced details.”

            I smiled apologetically, “So you'll still have to do a bit of work on it but…”

            Everyone except Baltar was smiling at me thankfully. Baltar seemed distracted and… I would almost say malevolent. "Not you just upstaged the genius with a slight ego problem" type malevolent, but threatening, "you've just acted against me and I will have vengeance" type malevolence.

            I decided to watch my back around him and tell the others to as well.

            I didn't trust Baltar, and I couldn't quite pin down why.

 

            That was two weeks ago, two weeks in which we had been found and attacked just once.

            Two weeks in which I had found no indications of a cure for Boomer.

            Two weeks in which the few sources I had access to all told me what the Cylons had done to her should be impossible at even their level of technology.

            Two weeks in which I got more and more frustrated.  I was certain I had heard of it being managed on Earth and yet I could find no real reference to it or any reasonable suggestion of how it might be done.

            I was beginning to think I might be asking the wrong questions.

 

            It was Gaeta who found the first thread when he stumbled across a reference to hypnotism.

            He was shocked, it sounded like a practise listed in the Books Of Kobol as a black art, with a name I could not translate and frankly couldn't even pronounce.

            The limitations listed were obvious, you couldn't be told to do anything you didn't want to but even to me the wording seemed a little off, like the author was carefully censoring.

            On our third look through we spotted something odd, the limitations were phrased to suggest that they applied to all hypnotism but taken into context, the sentence on limitations would only apply to light trances. The article referred only to light trances in fact, not to anything deeper and I was pretty certain I had heard tell of deeper trances.

            We both knew what that meant, censorship.

            We both had the question in our eyes but we didn't air it aloud.  If a light hypnotic trance could make you do as you were ordered within limitations, even allow a post hypnotic suggestion to be placed, what could a deeper trance by a skilled hypnotist? One who didn't care about their subjects?

            It was only one thread; we didn't have the tapestry yet.

            But we knew it was a start.

 

Chapter 15

 

            It was quite a while before other parts of the picture started to show themselves, helped greatly by Starbuck's idea of a souvenir.

            It seemed the Cylons had taken Biotech to a whole new level, creating intelligent life forms for the sole purpose of being a ship and god-knows what else.

            It meant their knowledge of genetics, of biology and more importantly, of the mind was far in advance of what we had suspected and believe me, we had had some pretty far out ideas.

            This was bad. We had up till now thought that the Cylons had just cloned humans then set up their controls but if they knew genetics to the extent which the captured raider suggested, then we weren't just talking about carefully implanting transmitters and sensors into a human mind, we were talking a human mind designed with specific connectors for implanted transmitters and sensors.

            It was a concept both Gaeta and I found instinctively repellent. It had touched a nerve, that the only thing we could truly call our own in these dark times was capable of being corrupted, of being used against us.

            Well, not us Earthmen in particular but you get the idea.

            It was maddening, Humanity's knowledge of the brain was generally restricted to specialist Medical texts in both Earth and Colonial cultures, none of which we had access to and frankly, we probably wouldn't have understood them anyway.

            And neither of our cultures showed any sign of the level of knowledge required for the exquisite work the Cylons had evidently managed, mainly because humans tended not to like people poking around in their brains trying to figure out how they ticked. The Cylons had evidently shown no compunctions in directly experimenting on humans in their attempts to better themselves.

            It left us rather in the dark.

            We knew Biological transmitters were theoretically possible and could have been used in the production of the Cylon humanoid models but it seemed unlikely, especially after a close inspection confirmed that the raider's transmitter was, apart from the control circuits, wholly an electronic construct.

            That meant a device would have to be placed inside the minds of the Cylon humanoid models to act as transmitter, something so far beyond human knowledge that it wasn't even in the same universe.

            We had to admit it, we had been stalled.

            We couldn't do anything more until we had had a look at one of the transmitters and that had to wait until the MRI scanner was completed and brought operational, a project which had suffered a number of annoying delays and accidents, accidents of the kind you call ‘Accidents'.

            I hoped it was just me who had spotted the subtle surveillance that was being directed at Baltar, rumours of specific people being watched was not what we needed, the Colonials I had seen were edgy enough already and more importantly, it might get back to Baltar.

            I shouldn't have worried. Gaeta and I were relaxing in the Officers Mess over a game of Poker, a game which had become very popular on board simply because Starbuck had been trapped in the sickbay recently and therefore missed Dafydd introducing it so the other crewmen had a chance of beating her at it, when Tigh dropped by with the news that Baltar had not only been Sectioned, though the Colonial word would literally translate more like ‘Condemned of Mind,' but had been caught sabotaging the MRI project too.

            Tigh looked on a little miffed as my pile of cubits suddenly grew, aided by several well-placed bets I had made on the subject on Baltar. He looked even more miffed when I reminded him of who else had placed the same bet and hadn't he better pay up?

            As Tigh reluctantly promised to return with the aforementioned money, an ecstatic Donelly showed up, a bemused Dafydd in tow, waving a Viper Pilots pilot's patch gleefully under my nose.

            Well, I knew I had been very absorbed with the Cylon projects but I hadn't realised I was so absorbed I had missed Donnelly taking Viper lessons.

            Nor, to my chagrin, had I previously noticed that Dafydd was now wearing a uniform that marked him quite clearly as one of Tyrol's deck gang.

            As I congratulated Donnelly, I promised myself I would try I find more time for my fellow Earthmen.

 

Chapter 16

 

            There were a lot of questions asked on the subject of Baltar the following weeks, like why had he sabotaged the MRI project? Many blamed the state of his mind, he had just been sectioned, been declared clinically and legally insane but there were more than a few who wondered about other motivations he might have had.

            Surprisingly enough, it appeared President Roslin was a very vocal member of the Baltar a Cylon faction. Okay, so I knew he had been accused of being a cylon but he had been cleared, the evidence proven fake by Gaeta and his accuser literally vanishing but why was Roslin so sure that Baltar was at the very least a traitor and quite possibly a Cylon?

            I actually asked her once, when she dropped into check on our research project and she said when Baltar had been accused she had believed instantly, her instincts telling her that whilst Baltar might not have planted the bomb in the Military mainframes like he was accused off, he most certainly had something to do with the destruction of the Colonies.

            Okay, so I knew Baltar wasn't kosher and had known since I first met him but to hear such words from the Colonial President was somewhat unsettling. After all, wasn't it Roslin who made Baltar the Presidential Science Advisor?

            Gaeta however was stunned, shocked and disappointed. I knew Gaeta had had a bit of hero worship going on with Baltar and had been hit a bit hard by Baltars now obvious insanity but to hear two people he trusted, even if he didn't particularly like Roslin, openly saying they felt Baltar wasn't at all kosher, well, it hit him a little hard.

            I wasn't too surprised when Gaeta left abruptly, saying only he had remembered something he had to do. I wasn't that surprised later either to hear that he had been to see Baltar in his cell, and from then on, Gaeta was a very firm member of the ‘Baltar is a Traitor' camp, though strangely enough, Gaeta never seemed to think Baltar was a Cylon.

            But back to Roslin, who had began asking some very pointed questions about our research. It seemed that whilst we were putting out theories that were helping people to understand the Cylons, theories that were greeted with eager, if occasionally sceptically arms by what could laughing be called the Scientific Community aboard the refugee ship, questions about what we were actually researching had reached Rosin's ears.

            And she was determined to find out the truth. We had after all, completed the biggest part of our research project and in a big way too. The MRI whilst incomplete was hailed as a reusable and fast cylon detector and as an advanced diagnostic machine, likely to be very useful to the medical community. Even if it didn't succeed in detecting cylons, it was still a major breakthrough and a very useful tool.

            So, what were we actually researching now?

            The standard explanation of trying to find anything that would help us understand the Cylons better, because an enemy we understood was one we could defeat had been accepted up till now by most people but Roslin seemed sceptical.

            Then she spotted Gaeta's note, left open by the computer during his hurried departure and after a hurried read, abruptly left with the expression of one who has far too much to think about.

            Leaving me no clue as to whether me and Gaeta were going to be told off for what was essentially, unauthorised research and illegal use off official resources, whether she was going to start looking the other way or whether we were going to be commended.

            It made me a little tense, as you can imagine.

 

Chapter 17

 

            Things got even tenser when it was announced that at the next location we found that seemed reasonably safe, we would be taking Galactica's FTL drives offline for overdue maintenance, which would in turn prevent the entire fleet from escaping to safety if the Cylons attacked.

            Shit, but it sounded like the recipe for a disaster, but then leaving the drives without proper maintenance for any longer was a guaranteed recipe for disaster, not just a highly likely one so I suppose it had to be done but still…

            The Civilian ships would not jump away from Galactica if they knew Galactica wasn't following because it would leave them entirely defenceless if the Cylons should find them. It seemed they much preferred having Galactica at their side, even if it meant being in the middle of a furball rather then an uncertain future without her, not knowing if she was coming to meet them or had been destroyed.

            I could sympathise entirely, there is nothing so morale destroying as uncertainty and without Galactica insight, you could assume that quite quickly, the worst sort of hysteria would set in.

            It left me at sort of alone though, with condition two being maintained the whole time the repairs were under way, my research assistant, the very capable Gaeta was otherwise occupied and Donnelly and Dafydd were either at stations or resting.

            In fact, everyone on Galactica, including a very small group of scientists had an emergency station, except for me. I had been too busy on various research projects to be trained in any of the skill areas the ship required and my earthborn skills weren't helpful, not in this situation.

            As it was, the only thing I had made a point of doing, along with both my comrades, was get the Colonial equivalent to our very basic field medics qualifications. That in mind, I headed for medical, told them I was available just in case and was instantly handed a med-kit and sent back to the landing bay.

            Seems like the Doctors were fed up with having to treat minor injuries as Priority One, just so Tyrol's crew could get back to their work as fast as possible without leaking blood over components that really didn't like the stuff, so having me on hand to deal with it would be a major help.

            That I could live with, but medical sending a runner after me with another med-kit made me seriously want to ask exactly how bad did it get in the pod during combat.

            It took a surprisingly long time for the Cylons to find us, three days in fact. But they found us putting the FTL drives back together, which naturally made them totally unusable, in fact a figure of half an hour was quoted as necessary to get the drives in a state fit to do one jump, no more.

            Tyrol answered my question of how long Galactica usually spent in combat and what her record was and I found myself wishing fervently that he hadn't. Fifteen minutes average since the Colonies fell, twenty minutes was the record. We had a guaranteed 30 minutes minimum.

            The situation just sucked.

            It wasn't long before I was too busy to worry about that though, I found out quite quickly how easy it was to get relatively minor scrapes, bumps and bleeders in the pod when you're frantically polishing off maintenance on Vipers so you can kick them through the launch bays and into the fight and it was literally a minute from the Condition One sirens blaring and me getting my first customer.

            I did notice, and start to get real worried when Vipers started landing on again in order to get re-armed and refuelled. That was a sure sign that the combat was taking far too long. Even more encouraging was the Vipers that the few personnel left in the bay after all the DC parties left took one look at and refused to let anyway near the launch tubes. Okay, I suppose the fact that they landed on at all was somewhat better than the alternative but it didn't hide the fact that we were taking losses.

            Crashdown, a Viper pilot was the first person I sent off to sickbay and quite frankly, I didn't think much of his chances. Even if he survived, he had third degree burns and would most likely be scarred for life.

            At twenty-four minutes into combat, Galactica's hull stopped lurching and incredulous looks were exchanged between the ten of us who were now in the bay, most poking their heads out from underneath Vipers as it registered.

            “The Cylons… they're not firing at us anymore!”

            It was Cally who said it, but the rest of us were thinking it.

            Didn't answer the big question though, why had they stopped firing?

 

Chapter 18

 

            At Twenty-nine minutes, Adama's voice sounded on the intercom and our questions were answered, just not in a way any of us had expected.

            “All hear this, all hear this.

            The Cylon basestar has been destroyed and her fighters are being routed   

            The basestar was destroyed by forces from a second refugee fleet, lead by the Blockade Runner Mailman, assisted by several Viper squadrons”

The room went dead quiet, the only sound being the hammer dropping from Tyrol's shocked hands and his furious curses as it landed on his feet. Then, a shocked and incredulous cheer started to fill the room.

More survivors, more warships.

The general consensus was that humanities chances of survival had just taken a great leap upwards.

But it quickly became clear that whilst the news was greeted cheerfully, even the idea being enough too momentarily raise spirits, that nobody in the bay was truly going to believe until they had seen it for themselves, which was understandable and somewhat commendable.

As it turned out, our prayers had been truly answered as the distinctive shape of a Raptor, but one bearing markings that clearly stated she wasn't from Galactica. Her crew too were faces I had not seen before, as I caught a glimpse of them before they were led of by Adama and Tigh.

Of course, we had been warned that a Raptor not from Galactica was landing on, after all the circuit used by the LSO's permanently piped over the bays speakers but still, for all of us, the Colonials especially, it had been a case of ‘seeing is believing'.

Now we all saw, and now we all believed.

Course it wasn't all happiness and laughs, we had Vipers landing on, most of them heavily damaged and every one of their pilots injured somehow. We also had Viper wrecks being dragged aboard by shuttles and recovery craft, ready to be rebuilt and reused or torn down for parts and metals to be reworked.

Far too many of the Vipers I had seen launch came back as salvage.

Far too many pilots I sent on to sickbay, knowing they would be out of the cockpit for ages and it at least two cases, permanently. It got even worse when word reached us that the Port Pod, almost back operational again with all the work engineering had been putting in, had taken a direct hit and was heavily damaged.

We may have survived, but Galactica didn't come out of the battle unscarred and neither did her crew. It left morale somewhat uncertain, some were celebrating the welcome additions to the fleet, some were mourning their losses and quite a few didn't know what to do.

The ripples from that day would be a long time in fading and not all of those ripples were good.

Not when Baltar was officially arrested by security forces from Mailman and charged with High Treason, Conspiracy to Commit Genocide among a whole long list of offences.

Now everyone had a face to place with the fall of the Colonies and that wasn't a good thing. It encouraged hatred and fear to spring up once more, poisoning people's minds and hearts. Not that I was entirely blameless in that regard, I would cheerfully have tortured Baltar for what he did but Baltar had been locked away aboard Mailman, her crew at least had had more than enough time to get used to the idea.

If he had stayed aboard Galactica or any of the first fleet vessels he would have been lynched in a heartbeat.

That was a new thing too, having come into popular usage since the Mailman and her convoy arrived. Galactica and the ships from Ragnar were being referred to more and more often as the First Fleet, with Mailman and her force being the Second or Relief Fleet, depending on who you asked.

Still, whilst the arrival of Mailman and the fleet of ships, almost entirely support vessels, she brought with her was a high point in the voyage to Earth; it wasn't the brightest spark that occurred on the way.

That was still to come.

 

Chapter 19

 

            It wasn't long before I had to officially start training for another job aboard Galactica, my research moving to the back burner. For whilst I, with the assistance of Gaeta had thrown out a number of useful bones early on, this had now started too dry up and it was painfully clear that the answers to the biggest question, how to cure Boomer, didn't exist in the archives available to me aboard Galactica, even with permanent access to the Earth shuttlecraft Tempest.

            Adama swiftly seemed to place me onto Command Track and had me learning the basics of very aspect of a Colonial Battlestar, everything from becoming a qualified Viper pilot to learning about ship repair and Colonial Rank structures. I had two ideas about what he had planned for me, perhaps the first Earth Battlestar Commander, assuming Earth could be persuaded to prepare for the war in time or maybe his successor to Command of the Galactica.

            Actually, I didn't believe either of those options, neither seemed quite to ring true and the thought did cross my mind that maybe Adama wasn't entirely sure where  I fit either, but was willing to try me anywhere just looking for somewhere I could work and be content. Dafydd and Donelly had their places, Fighter Pilot and Engineer and they were more then happy with it but wherever he put me, I worked hard, learnt more but never fit despite the easy acceptance of the Galactica crew.

            I suspected it was that Command Track mind of mine, whilst it could be distracted by an important task, such as the research for a while; it was still a Command Track mind with a Command track mentality. I found it too easy to maintain a CO's distance between myself and whoever I worked with, too easy to slip into the patterns that labelled me not as a Pilot or engineer or even Cook (Had a great time as Cook aboard Galactica, set off the fire alarms twice before they decided that wasn't for me) but as a Commanding Officer.

            Unfortunately for my piece of mind, there wasn't a ship for me to Command. Wasn't anyone answerable to me, I was, despite being a friend of Adama and Gaeta, pretty low on the totem pole. For me, it was a lonely and depressing time.

            Even the celebrations surrounding the commissioning of the Transporter of the Books as an official Colonial Warship, in particular, as a Fleet Carrier didn't do much to make me happier, to lose a little of the despondent, depressed edge I had gained. I didn't even smile when ‘Mile-high', in the middle of an acrobatics display, decided to break off the acrobatics and just show Starbuck who exactly was the better pilot. It had to be declared a draw when both pilots ran out of fuel without either ever managing to get a clear shot at the other.

            Course, in theory they both get a rollicking for that one but I rather suspected it was more ‘theory' than ‘rollicking', after all, even Commanders enjoy a display of great flying every now and again.

            Still, time passed as I found myself more and more at a loose end, more and more ships grew batteries of railguns, Cylon attacks swiftly slowed then disappeared entirely and we grew closer and closer to Earth, to home with every day.

            Course, even I had to smile, even if it was only for a moment, when ‘Mile-high' did it again, this time with Crewman Cally helping to provide the sound effects over the ‘accidentally' switched on radio, an event she never quite lived down. 

            But still, we were far from any safety and my mood hadn't yet improved, nor would it for quite some time.

 

Chapter 20: A New Hope

 

            This morning, at 0215 I was tossed out of bed by five anxious guards and hurried through Galactica's corridors to the cells, in particular, to the cell of a cylon we all knew as Sharon ‘Boomer' Valerri.

            There, I found something or rather someone that would energise me again and remake my old research back into a priority one project.

            I met Boomer.

            Not the Cylon that had been controlling her for months now, but ‘Boomer' herself. She wasn't exactly stable, in fact she was damn near psychotic, raving about how she must regain control, how she must force the demon out of her mind, how she had to be herself again but considering her mind and body had been the pawn of another for months, that was understandable.

            But still, it was totally unexpected, a real visit from the left field and yet, as far as we could tell it was her. Of course, there was no way to be absolutely certain, after all the Cylon within her had managed to remain hidden for years but there was somewhat limited proof. The readouts of the EEG we hooked her up to nearly matched those on record for when Boomer was in control, a record taken prior to the fall last time Boomer had a concussion from a training accident, the difference between that record, what we were seeing now and the EEG we had taken during one of the Cylons rants was stark and clear.

            Of course, the cylon may have been deliberately masking their brain wave pattern but frankly, I couldn't even theorise as to how that might be possible, in fact, everything I had seen in my research up till then suggested the concept was almost laughable for a human. But then again, Boomer wasn't exactly human.

            Still, even if the encounter did only last two hours before a rather unhappy Cylon managed to reassert control, it did give us hope that those who had been taken as Cylons could be released.

            Of course, the Colonials reason for wanting the cylons released wasn't altruistic. They quite clearly showed that they never intended to trust any who had been taken again, even if they did use to call them friend, comrade. No, they wanted all the intelligence, all the information the Cylons had looked up in their minds, they were hoping that the possessed humans could access that knowledge or at least have memorised details themselves which could help in the inevitable coming confrontation between the humans and the cylons.

            That was of course, assuming that all the Cylons of the same model were identical. We didn't know if we had struck gold with our Boomer, getting the original unit all the other Boomers were based on, in which case it was very possible that because the Boomer personality belonged their, was original, that that was why she was slowly learning the way to take back her own mind.

            Of course, if our Boomer wasn't the original, then it raised another, almost better question. If she could override the Cylon when she was meant to be the secondary personality, did it mean any of the Cylons could be potentially overridden by the human within?

            Militarily speaking the potential was huge, and speaking as a human, it was fair turnabout, using the cylons out infiltration and fifth column tactics against themselves, creating havoc within their lines whenever the final Human/Cylon war began.

            That would be a war to the end, whatever happened one entire race would be wiped out, exterminated to the very last being. An Armageddon war. Neither side could afford to let the other survive and perhaps come back one day to finish what they started.

            Still, all this didn't answer one fundamental question, why had Boomer been able to override the Cylon, even if it was for such a relatively short period of time? Was there some weakness in the cylon control we could potentially use?

            Only time, luck and a lot of work would answer that question, and time was most certainly not on our side.

 

Chapter 21: A New Hope… Again

             

            It was certainly being a week for surprises of the good, or more accurately, potentially good variety. Our friend, the Blockade Runner Mailman leaves to scout out the systems the fleet would soon be passing through and arrives back in rather a hurry shouting that she has been attacked.

            But not by Cylons, by Colonials.

            In particular, another Battlestar, the Excelsior.

            It is said that a rumour can run twice around the world whilst the truth is still getting its boots on, well, by the time the news was officially released there were already a thousand theories being spun about as to how come Excelsior survived, how come she fired upon the Mailman or even if the incident had happened at all.

It didn't help that even the most fervent of the surviving warship watchers, what I would most likely call an ‘anorak' had no clue as to the Excelsior, what Battleship class she was, how much crew, which squadrons and the like. Indeed, there was rumoured to be one individual aboard the Gemon Traveller who had the names, classes and Commanders of every Battlestar memorised and he knew nothing of Excelsior, indeed, rumour has it that he officially stated that no Battlestar had ever been built with that name.

            Still, the Mailman had her on record, though it is perhaps noteworthy that nobody else did.

            And within the day, the fleet was being left for the first time to be protected only by the Mailman and the Transporter of the Books whilst Galactica investigated, hoping to persuade the Excelsior to join this rag-tag fugitive fleet of ours on our quest to find the lonely planet, Earth.

            Actually, I was lucky, I knew better then most what was going on as it was decided that I would represent my fellow Earthmen trapped on Galactica if any meeting between Galactica and Excelsior should occur, which meant I had to be kept in the loop.

            It meant I knew exactly why Excelsior was unknown, she wasn't meant to be known, she was a ship designed with Armageddon in mind, a chance for the Colonial people to survive in some form should the worst happen, and she would have been very new, almost certainly still on her acceptance trails when the end came.

            Still, there were questions that had to be answered, such as why had she fired upon Mailman? What was she doing this close to Earth? It hadn't after all, escaped our notice that she was placed almost directly on the direct line between Colonial space and the Sol System.

            It also meant precautions had to betaken, we didn't know if the Excelsior was still Colonial, it was possible the Cylons had captured her and were using her, but it was also possible that with the end of the colonies, the crew had decided to shrug off their loyalty to the old Colonies and turn pirate to survive, an interesting thought considering how close they were to Earth.

            Or had they headed direct to earth and were now standing as their primary line of defence whilst earth readied herself for interplanetary war, and they fired upon Mailman because they couldn't take the risk she no longer pledged any allegiance to the Colonies and their ideals?

            There were too many possibilities by far, and we needed to know for certain what was really going on, and that meant finding Excelsior.

            “Jump in ten seconds…” Tigh barked, loudly to be heard across the Command centre and I sat down, I hated this part, but at least I had no console to check at the end of it, I really didn't know how these people could just shrug of the rather surreal effects of jump drives. Maybe they just got used to it, and I haven't yet.

            “Jump!”

 

            Within a minute of us arriving in the system where Mailman was attacked, the passive arrays cleared enough for sensor emissions indicative of a Colonial Sensor array, and a high powered one at that, to be picked up.

            It was clear we were being scanned, but whoever was doing it was outside our own sensor range.

            Then she registered on our sensors, showing clearly how new and up to date she was as she charged towards us at a rate Galactica had never, even in her prime, been able to match.

            Then, she slowed and stopped, well within range of our own weapons.

            “What now?”

            “What now indeed” Adama commented, and I realised with a frown that once again I had said something out loud without realising it, frak it but I needed to get more control over my mouth…. Over my own thoughts even, ‘frak it'? sheesh, these guys were corrupting me.

 

Chapter 22: Contact

 

            Well, we made the first move, Adama quickly sending a message to the Excelsior that, unless you could see the look of concentration on his face, was so smooth and to the point you might actually think it had been prepared in advance.

            It was Excelsior and her Commander, Hercules, a name that made me wonder if he looked anything like Kevin Sorbo, who laid down the ground rules by which we would verify each others intentions and loyalties though.

            My first impression of the man, from what I heard over the radio, was of someone far too used to independent command. Adama was senior Commander by everyone's terms IE years in rank yet Hercules still sounded like he was giving orders which he expected to be obeyed. Okay, so there was a note of respect in the orders but he certainly wasn't treating Adama as even an equal, let alone the Senior Commander.

            Whilst it isn't a problem I've seen before, it is one I have heard whispered about. It isn't uncommon for rumours of Officers of Independent Commands to come back into the mainstream and have to adjust to reporting to others, to having to report to others again. It didn't take a genius to figure out that those who didn't adjust ended up out of the service one way or another.

            Unfortunately, if this ‘Hercules' couldn't adjust, then it would be a real problem, whilst as far as we knew we had Excelsior outnumbered ships wise, we had no idea of her actual capabilities other then that she had far more fabrication facilities then was normal and she appeared to have longer ranged sensors and be faster. We didn't know exactly how fast she was, how many weapons she had, how many fighters…

            I could go on and on saying what we didn't know, but I won't. Sufficed to say, if Hercules couldn't cope and needed to be replaced, we would be in real trouble.

            Still…

            The parameters he set for us to verify each other, that is a thirty strong team on three Raptors, no nukes or weapons and constant contact between the team and the home ship was reasonable and sound so Adama complied, but I could see the anger in his eyes as he voiced his agreement.

            Under the circumstances, I thought it best if I grabbed him to one side for a moment whilst Tigh readied his team, and explained why I thought Hercules was behaving the way he was. Our chances at survival pretty much rested on Adama and Hercules getting along and a little understanding would go along way. It helped; the angry look in Adama's eyes faded and he nodded agreement.

            Still, now we would have to wait.

           

            The leader of the team from Excelsior was apparently a surprise to Adama, daughter of some ‘Legendary' Commander named Cain. In all honesty, it meant very little to me, which was in fact one of the reasons I was assigned to show the team around. Whilst I had been around the Colonials long enough now to understand most of the cultural references, not being from the background I wouldn't have the same response to famous names, I would just judge on what I saw and observed and any anomalous they saw in me could be explained off by me being from a lesser colony, there were enough moons and rocks that were colonised other then the big twelve themselves after all.

The fact that I, and my comrades, Dafydd and Donnelly were from earth would be kept secret, at least until Excelsior had been verified. The crew had been briefed; they knew to keep their mouths shut. Of course, there were a few things we didn't bother trying to hide, for one, it would be difficult to hide the little captured cylon tech we had after all and frankly, we wanted, we needed to build trust between our two crews.

Thus, Sheba and her team quickly learnt of the fleet, of Baltar (whom they really didn't like) and of the humanoid cylons. That one had them shocked, they had been briefed on collaborators and agents, they hadn't known that the Cylons could now assume human form. Indeed, Sheba had to do some fast footwork with her team to prevent the sudden fear and paranoia getting out of hand, getting them alone for an hour or two till they calmed back down. Not that I could truly blame them, we at least had gotten used to the idea, they had just had it dumped on them without any warning at all.

Still, the two days were quickly over and we were officially ‘friends' and Comrades with the Excelsior.

Now for the next step, now we had to check on Earth, confirm the current situation and allow the Colonials to try to plan how best to initiate first contact.

Home, for the first time in months I would see Earth again, maybe meet up with my friends and family back on that shining jewel…

But first, we had to have a little chat with Hercules.

 

Chapter 23: Home

 

            Well, I got to say it, Adama has a pair of big brass ones hidden somewhere.

            Landing on a world that has no idea he's out there with both Commanders, me and Kara, no heavy back-up just to take a stroll around and see for himself.

            Gutsy.

Doubly so when I know Adama is aware of the often paranoid nature of most nations, though I notice he plotted a route which would take us well away from any cities till we landed. Good thing too, because anything unexplained heading towards a city, would get a visit from the local Air Force PDQ.

Still, at least he chose someplace where he would have a native guide.

“Welcome to England people, local time is… well, actually I don't have a clue except it's late. The weather I do know however, this being England, you can expect rain today, rain tomorrow, rain for the rest of the week in fact. I wouldn't rule out having rain for a full month either”

“Frakking brilliant” Kara cursed, already starting to look a bit bedraggled.

Adama grunted, “That glow in the distance London?”

“Yep”

“We camp here, move into London in the morning” Adama swiftly dived back into the Raptor, followed by Kara, who was muttering about hopefully it stopping raining by then.

I snorted, and followed them in, “I wouldn't bet on it Kara…”

 

I grinned as we walked away from the Raptor, covered as it was by what foliage we had been able to scavenge and didn't bother to resist the urge. Pity Don or Dafydd weren't here, they would have known enough to laugh at the reference and its parallels but…

“Everybody remember where we parked!”

Kara snorted, “Dear Colonial Retrieval Party, sorry we didn't return on schedule, thus necessitating your deployment; however we forgot where we parked the Raptor…

            I snorted, Hercules rolled his eyes and Adama's eyes glittered. It was pretty funny, but right now, we had a eight mile or so walk in front of us, across del laden and occasionally flooded fields. It was going to be a long morning.

 

A very long morning, one that resulted in us walking into the outskirts of London with water in our boots, tired, cold and somewhat miserable. The notebooks were out before we even crossed last field into the city, as the nearby Motorway and its gridlocked condition was noted. Then the notebooks came out again as we walked into the city itself and the litter became evident. I knew right their and then that I was really going to hate those damned notebooks.

First thing on our agenda, buy out a newsagents…

Well, Adama and Hercules didn't quite phrase it that way, but it certainly seemed that way to me. We were getting enough odd looks from the Newsagent as it was as one of every newspaper and magazine was stripped off his racks and bought. Then Came the fun part, carrying the damned things but at least we had brought backpacks just for that. Backpacks which quickly began to dig into our shoulders…

I told them we should have visited the newsagents on the way out, but no, they had to do it their way. Heh, judging by how often those packs got shifted as we moved further into the city; I bet they were really regretting that.

The notebooks and the camera came out as we hit the historic centre of the city and we really began to look like tourists. They seemed pretty impressed by the buildings but that was unsurprising in a way, the Colonies started with a technology level roughly equivalent to Britain at the end of World War Two, based on what they had told me about the technology which survived the loss of the Colony ships and their mainframes. It meant that big imposing stone building were never common on the Colonies; it was artificial materials, concrete and the like in use from Day one. The grandeur present in the old stone buildings scattered around much of the centre of London was new to them.

Still, we spent only an hour gawking. Our time was limited, and it had taken us much of the day to come this far. It was time to head back out again. One day was not really enough to get a true impression of Earth, and certainly not just one city but time was limited, we might not have seen the Cylons in ages, but we knew for certainly that they were looking for us.

Earths distance from the Colonies meant a reprieve, nothing more, and we needed to get her ready for the Coming storm. It was going dark as we walked slowly out of the city, and the notebooks never really left the hands of Adama and Hercules as they observed the homeless becoming far more evident as the masses vanished. As they saw a rare kitchen serving food or just an individual checking up on those on the street. As they saw the pubs close up, tossing drunken revellers out onto the streets.

I didn't try to explain all these things, I could see from the regretful yet understanding expression on the Colonials eyes that whilst they in the military had little contact with the dark underbelly of a city, they were aware of it. This was nothing new to them, despite the advanced levels which their technology had reached.

I estimated it was about 3AM when we arrived back at the Raptor, tired cold and in desperate need of a warm bed for the night but we had to leave, Not only did we have a rendezvous to meet, but everyday the Raptor was here greatly increased the chances of our discovery. It wasn't time for Earth to learn of the Colonials yet, soon maybe, but not yet.

It was Kara I felt sorry for though, as the best pilot, she got the job of trying to fly us out of the atmosphere without being detected, but like the rest of us, she was tired, worn and in need of rest, walking for a full day with heavy packs on your back and soaking wet feet isn't fun. Still, we had to leave.

 

Chapter 24

 

            The very next day, the two Battlestars headed out of the Sol System for the rendezvous with the Mailman and our civilian fleet. Considering the time we were away, it was not a surprise to find that the fleet had moved, though many felt it was disappointing. Not Adama or I, or even Hercules for that matter, the fleet had been ordered to move and they had done so, it just showed common sense and the ability for follow orders on their part.

            Adama, wily old git that he is, gets Mailman's new location on his first guess and it isn't long before the fleet is reunited, indeed, grows larger then before with the more then welcome addition of Excelsior. Of course, we had to put up with being sole coverage for the fleet for a day, the Colonel on the Mailman took his two warships out of the rotation as soon as we arrived for rest and repair. Nobody complained or commented, with two Battlestars fleet coverage was easy and we knew if the shit hit the fan, Mailman and the Transporter of the Books would be right there with us.

            Now, at this point I was under the impression that our next task was contact with Earth and preparing her people for the inevitable arrival of the Cylons as best we could.

            However, Commander Hercules had a few more surprises up his sleeve, which he was ‘nice' enough to reveal during a strategy meeting.

            “Frak me…” was Tigh's heartfelt and softly whispered comment as Hercules words began to sink in, “how many ships do you have here?”

            Hercules shrugged, “I think it would be best if I gave some back story on this system.

The Bureau of Exploration and Evaluation might have been one of the most back-burnered departments in the Colonial Government but that didn't stop them having five custom built E&E vessels and ten converted Battlestars roaming around, charting, evaluating and such. None of their vessels been refitted yet, so they were free from the CNP, though negotiations were under way with the primary Batttlestar yards over Caprica for them to carry out that work.

            Four years ago, the E&E Adventurer, one of the custom builds, picked up an anomaly, a curious signal which had been warped and amplified during its transit through space but still clearly showed artificial origin.

            It wasn't Colonial or Cylon though. Puzzled, they sent couriers to the other E&E ships, one of which, the Seeker, had also recorded the signal. They reported this back to HQ and decided to investigate, sending the Adventurer to back trace the signal.

            Two years ago, the Adventurer discovered Earth”

            Hercules glanced up at me, smiling, “the rest as they say is history, Adventurer sent word to E&E and maintained station in the system. Pathfinder and Wayfinder were sent to confirm the Adventurer's report, which they did. Pathfinder began an evaluation of the surrounding systems, Wayfinder started exploring the systems in-between from Earth to the Colonies, whilst Seeker started from the Red Line and headed to meet Wayfinder halfway.

            Within a month, every ship in E&E knew, but they see port so rarely that it never got out except as classified reports to the Council. Adar ordered that the Colonial Military make a separate evaluation a year and a half ago and the Battlestar Pegasus was sent. They came, saw, made a few recommendations and vanished again.

            But because of their recommendations, the bulk of the Blockade Runner fleet was suddenly, ahem, scraped”

            Mailman's Commander looked up startled at that, “the others survived?”

            “A few… there were being used to ferry supplies and personnel from Colonial space, a task they proved themselves to be perfectly suited for. Two Battlestars were also sent to defend the Colonial personnel and equipment, Gemon Enforcer and Valiant Shield, both of which are still here”

            Hercules sighed, leaning back in his seat, “When Admirals Cain and Nagala briefed you” he was glancing straight at the Colonel of the Mailman now, “they didn't know, but I did, Adar had already briefed me, hoping that if worst came to worst, I could at least flee here with my command and have a chance of survival”

            “Adar knew?” the uncertain note in Roslin's voice made me glance across, to see it mirrored perfectly in her worn, weary features.

            “He Knew” Hercules confirmed.

            “He knew… I never noticed, I always though he was so easy to read if he knew him and I never spotted that he was hiding something so big…”

            Hercules started, as if about to say something but frowned, and shook his head as if saying no, “most of E&E made it here, along with the couriers and they dragged several other ships, both civilian and military behind them”

            Hercules hesitated, “but at east two ships known to know of this location have not appeared, the Battlestar Pegasus and the E&E Seeker”

            “Then this location is compromised” Adama commented, sourly.

            Hercules nodded, “odds are that they were destroyed, either by the Cylons or by their own crew, according to Commander Lee of the Adventurer, they had specific orders to avoid letting this location fall into the cylons hands in case of war and E&E ships have Self-destructs built in”

            I snorted “from what I have heard, if Cain and Pegasus are still out there then they are fighting, he would return here unless he knew the Cylons were on their way”

            Adama nodded, “I tend to agree, Cain would fight to the last to get his revenge and force the Cylons to divert resources to weaken any search for survivors. He would also make sure he and his command weren't taken alive”

            “That” I pointed out “leaves Seeker”

            “Therein lies the problem” Hercules commented, his face showing real worry now, “her Commander is either a dead ringer for your Boomer, or…”

            “She's another cylon” Roslin finished off, unamused.

 

Chapter 25

Anyways, that takes us up to now. A small taskforce headed up by Mailman is on its way for Cylon controlled space under orders to search for more possible colonial survivors, any indications as to the fate of Seeker and for a recon of the old Twelve Colonies. Primary purpose, of course, was to try to determine the status of Seeker and Pegasus, both vessels which had been to the Sol system before and both of which were missing. We needed to know for definite if the Cylons already had a location for Earth or not, that little detail would make all the difference between us having months, maybe a year to prepare for the return of the Cylons or potentially having Years. In the end, we could never figure out exactly how long they knew about Earth, but we were given a few years which turned out to be just time enough.

Contact was made, by yours truly as you know, I had effective command of Hermes for that little operation, naturally I stuck my thumb out at the often arrogant Americans and said ‘Hi' to Queen and Country first… but hey, I'm British, I'm allowed to be biased in favour of my fellow countrymen.

Course, the shit well and truly hit the fan, predictably no-one liked a war of extermination being dropped in their laps and it caused more then a few riots, three of which were bad enough to effectively take cities off the map but as soon as people settled down and began thinking, they realised the inevitability of things and began pulling together to protect the Earth.

That minus a few whack jobs of course who seemed to think that extermination of the human race was a good thing but most of them lost heart after what we did to the leader of the Crimson dawn movement. I'll give you a hint, after what he did to that school, he was kicked into space without a suit and the results broadcast across the world.

Not that Earth could do much to help straight away of course, but we had a lot of people and a lot of industry and it really sprang into action. Finding volunteers to replace losses was easy of course, even if there training did have to be very much on the job. Making replacements for the simpler parts was next, followed by more advanced equipment such as complete Vipers and railguns.

Of course, we wouldn't last long without a Navy of our own and that required a spaceyards which took six years to build and was finished literally just in time. By then, the Colonials had colonised the Alpha Centauri system and we were both benefiting from an exchange of technologies, even if Computers and our entire ground warfare tech was the bulk of what we had to offer the Colonials seemed to fell it worthwhile.

The Cylons found us, naturally and whilst it was more then a little close for a few years, we eventually managed first to beat them off, and then force them into submission. We didn't destroy them, despite the Colonials demands for vengeance, after all, two wrongs don't make a right and extermination of an entire race is definitely a wrong.

But then, that's all another story and not one that mine to tell”

Fleet Admiral Nichol Foster

United Solar Navy, CNO

Address to Naval Academy , Six Days Prior to his assassination by Cylon Sympathisers.


Seeker and Mailman are also part of this trilogy