Site Themes:  ColonialViperCylon
Skip to Contents

Extremities

By Scooter Kitty

Word Count: 26,162 
Date: 02/20/05
Series: One
Rating: T
Category: Action
Pairing/Focus: E
Warnings: I guess you could label this as an AU. It’s my idea of how the season-ending cliffhanger should be resolved. Most likely it will not be resolved like this, but it’s how I think it should be resolved. I also warn you all now that there will be a character death (of sorts) later on, so please take appropriate action.
Summary
Spoilers/Disclaimers:


Extreme conditions demand extreme responses! -Test Dept.

The Galactica’s sick bay was a beehive of activity. Medical technicians, nurses, and corpsmen darted about with serious, anxious expressions. Lee stood pressed against a wall, trying to stay out of the way. With his hands still cuffed in front of him, he felt even more helpless than he otherwise would have. He was also trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible, hoping that Col. Tigh would continue to ignore his presence and not have him sent to the brig before he could hear some word on his father’s condition. He and the colonel, and his obligatory Marine guard, had been waiting for some word for nearly three quarters of an hour and Lee was convinced that at any moment, he would go quietly insane.

Glancing up at the XO, Lee realized that he was holding up better than the older man. Tigh was pacing about the small area, getting in people’s way and frequently losing his temper. He was one of those people who dealt with fear and anxiety by getting angry. The angrier they appeared, the more frightened and vulnerable they were. Tigh was in a towering fury and was venting that fury on everyone around him. Frankly, at this moment, Lee doubted the man was even fit for duty. But he also recognized that he was in no position to point this out.

As though reading these thoughts, Tigh abruptly turned to face Lee, his expression murderous. Although they had not been intended as such, Tigh had apparently chosen to interpret Lee’s acts of mutiny as very personal attacks on him. As the older man stalked over to him, Lee found his body tensing involuntarily and was therefore not caught off guard when the other man abruptly backhanded him across the face. Lee was able to move his head with the blow and suffered only a split lip instead of losing a few teeth. As the Marine moved quickly to interpose himself between the two officers, Lee brought his cuffed hands up to press them over his mouth. There was blood on the back of one hand when he lowered them again. A shocked silence fell over the still crowded room.

“Get him out of my sight!” Tigh barked at the Marine. “Get him down to the brig with the other traitor.”

“No, that man is not going anywhere.”

All eyes turned to see the white-haired Dr. Connelly standing in the doorway which led to the surgery. The man looked harassed and ill-tempered, but then that was fairly usual for him.

“Excuse me... Major...?” Tigh asked pointedly.

“No, excuse me... Colonel, but must I remind you that this is the one place on this ship where you do not outrank me?” the doctor asked. “Now, I have managed to stabilize the commander, but he’s lost a lot of blood. At this time, he’s too weak for me to operate. The surgery itself would kill him. He needs a blood transfusion and the blood least likely to cause any complications would be from a close relative. So, whether you like it or not, I need Capt. Adama’s veins... Markham, please get the captain prepped for the transfusion. And for the Lords’ sake, get those damn cuffs off him!”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lee lay on the hospital bed, squeezing the little rubber ball and watching as his own blood passed through the length of surgical tubing, slowly filling the plastic bag attached to the bed. As soon as the small bag was full, it would be immediately hooked up to his father. Lifting his eyes, Lee could see the elder Adama, lying on a similar bed across the aisle from him. A variety of monitors, IV, and other apparatuses were attached to the older man, keeping him alive.

William Adama’s normally dusky skin was deathly white and Lee noticed that, at some point, someone had removed his glasses. Lee didn’t see them lying on the bedside table and that bothered him. He hoped that no one had lost them. He knew they were his father’s only pair. Replacing them would not now be easy and his father needed them to read... He knew that he was obsessing about a very trivial thing, under the circumstances, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself. Somehow, suddenly, the location of his father’s eyeglasses was of paramount importance to him. When the technician came to check on him, he asked her about them.

She didn’t seem to find his question unusual. She smiled at him and touched his shoulder gently, saying, “Don’t worry, we’ve got them tucked away somewhere safe. They’ll be ready for him when he needs them.”

“Thank you,” Lee whispered, irrationally relieved by this statement. He leaned back against the pillows again and allowed himself to relax.

The technician gave his shoulder a reassuring pat, checked the fullness of the blood bag then returned to her other duties. After she had left, Lee turned his attention back to his father.

Don’t you dare die on me, he thought, glaring at the sleeping man, now suddenly angry, I still have some things to say to you... You never really liked me, did you? Oh, I know you loved me, but you never liked me. Zac was always the one you could relate to. He shared your appreciation of the irreverent. Of course, so does Kara. Is that why you like her more than me, too?

She reminds you of your youth, doesn’t she? I’ve heard the stories. You were like her in your prime, weren’t you? Always flying by the seat of your pants, instead of regulations, always doing things your own way, except that unlike Kara, you never actually crossed the line into blatant insubordination. Of course, you don’t see it that way, do you? You always find some reason to excuse her behavior, find someone else to blame. Just like you blamed President Roslin for Kara’s latest stunt, but Roslin didn’t put a gun to Kara’s head and force her to make that jump. But you’d rather dismantle the government, than place the blame where it truly belongs, squarely on Kara Thrace’s shoulders. And the truly sad thing is, that you can’t even see how your obvious favoritism toward her alienates you from the rest of the crew... from me.

It’s funny, I’ve spent my entire life trying to impress you and along comes Kara and you immediately love her unconditionally. She can do no wrong in your eyes. Apparently not even killing your son was enough to lower her in your eyes for long. And yet, no matter what I do, it’s not right. You tell me I should listen to my instincts, but when I do, it’s still not right. Evidently my instincts speak a different language than yours, or Kara’s. But I’m not sorry for what I did. This time, sir, you were wrong. You had no right to arrest the president for Kara’s misconduct, even if Roslin did ask her to do it. Kara chose her own course of action. Nothing changes that...

Lee’s disgruntled thoughts were interrupted by the return of the technician. Checking the bag again, she said, “Okay, Captain, you’re done. Now, I have to warn you, we took a little more than the usual pint, so you’ll want to get up slowly. You may be a little dizzy.”

As she spoke, she deftly clipped off the bag and carefully removed the needle from Lee’s left arm. After taping a bandage over the puncture wound and giving the pilot the standard lecture about watching the site for bleeding and drinking plenty of fluids, she finally let him up from the bed. As he stood, he did indeed, feel somewhat lightheaded, but it passed quickly enough.

After the technician had disappeared with his bag of blood, Lee moved to stand beside his father’s bed. His mind was still dwelling on his previous sullen thoughts as he gazed down at the older man. Am I truly such a disappointment to you? he asked silently.

Sensing movement beside him, he looked up to find Doctor Connelly standing at the foot of the bed. “As soon as we get his blood pressure back up, we’ll begin the surgery,” the doctor said. “I’ll keep you informed about his condition.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Both men turned as the black-clad Marine guard stepped up to the pilot. “I’m sorry, sir, but I’m going to have to escort you to the brig now,” the young man said, a bit sheepishly.

“Is that absolutely necessary?” the doctor asked testily. “His father will be going into surgery soon. I really don’t think the captain will be going anywhere.”

“I’m sorry sir, but those are Col. Tigh’s orders.”

“It’s okay, I understand,” Lee said in a tired voice. He held his hands out, with his wrists together, so the Marine could cuff him again.

“Oh, uh, I don’t think that will be necessary, sir,” the sergeant said quickly. He was quite uncomfortably aware of the hostile looks the various medical personnel were throwing in his direction. “If you’ll just give me your word, as an officer, that you’ll be cooperative, I won’t cuff you.”

“You have my word,” Lee said. “Let’s go.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kara sat with her back resting against a pillar, staring sullenly at the... creature wearing Sharon Valerii’s face that she now knew was a Cylon. Kara had always considered Sharon a friend, not a good one necessarily, but a friend all the same. How could she have been so wrong?

She and Helo had just finished getting each other caught up on what had been happening to the other. She was tired, emotionally numb, and every muscle of her body hurt from the beating she’d taken from that blonde Cylon bitch. All she wanted was take the Arrow and get off this frakking planet, but now she had to decide what to do with Sharon, or ...whatever she was.

The ‘whatever’ in question, was sitting quietly off to the side. She had wisely not said a word to the blonde pilot. Kara had drawn a gun on her once already. It was obvious that she would do it again in a heartbeat if the Cylon gave her any trouble whatsoever.

“So, what do we do with her, Helo?” Kara asked, at last.

“Well, we can’t leave her here.”

“We can’t?”

“Starbuck, she’s pregnant.”

“How do you know that? How do you know she’s not lying? Did you do a pregnancy test?”

“...Well, no...,” it was clear from his tone that this thought hadn’t occurred to him.

Typical guy, Kara thought in exasperation. “Well, I’m sure we could find one in some store around here. We could make her do one,” she suggested. “At least then we’d be reasonably certain that she was telling the truth.”

“Yeah,” Helo agreed slowly, “but it would take time for us to find one and we’ve wasted too much time already. Look, I’m not going to let you kill her and if she’s not pregnant, then she knows you’ve been here. She knows you’ve got that Arrow. I assume you don’t want the Cylons to know this, too... So, we can’t leave her. And if she is pregnant... then it’s my kid and... Well, don’t you think it would be better if we had this... kid than letting the Cylons have it? They obviously want it.”

“Do they?” Kara asked, addressing Sharon for the first time.

“Yes,” the other woman answered softly.

“Why? What is it? How can you be pregnant anyway? You’re a machine. Machines can’t get pregnant.”

“I’ve already tried to explain it to Helo. I’m not a machine, at least, not in the sense that you’re thinking of... There are twelve different Cylon models. Each of them is designed for a specific function. I’m number twelve. I’m an experimental model. I’m a Human clone with Cylon implants.”

“Why?” Kara asked, intrigued in spite of herself. “Why would the Cylons want to clone Humans, let alone put implants in them? I thought you Cylons hated us Humans?”

“Cylons do hate Humans. They hate everything about Humans, but there is one thing Humans can do that Cylons can’t and, so far, can’t seem to duplicate without Human help...”

“Reproduce...” Kara whispered.

“Exactly. That’s the whole purpose of my model. The Cylons have been experimenting with my model, trying to create a Cylon that can breed, although I’m the first one that’s actually managed to conceive.”

“Well, aren’t you the special girl?” Kara sneered angrily.

“See, Starbuck, if the Cylons value her, wouldn’t it be better if we kept her with us?” Helo asked quickly.

Kara sighed in exasperation. She didn’t know what to do and looking at Helo’s earnest face, she found that she didn’t want to be the one to make the decision... And why should she? She was just a lieutenant. She was in no position to make this kind of judgment call. Decisions like this should be made by someone higher up the food chain, like the commander, or even the president. With that thought in mind, she made her decision.

“Okay, we bring her with us. I don’t know what to do with her, so someone else can make that call... So, now that that’s decided. How do all three of us get off this planet? My ride is strictly a single-seater.”

“Well, Boomer and I were planning on waiting for dark then trying to sneak into the old Colonial Fleet base.”

“Sneak into a military base?” Kara asked incredulously. “Oh, like the Cylons won’t have that completely covered. Whose bright idea was this?”

Helo glanced hesitantly at Sharon, who looked sheepish.

“Right,” Kara said flatly. “Okay, we don’t need a military ship. We just need something with an FTL drive. There’s got to be some sort of civilian transport around here.”

“None that we’ve been able to find,” Helo said.

Kara closed her eyes and tried to picture this section of the city in her mind. It was amazing, it had only been a couple of months or so, since they had fled from the Colonies and yet she was already having trouble visualizing the city’s layout and remembering what was nearby. How quickly we forget what is no longer important.

“Isn’t there a municipal spaceport a couple of blocks over?” she asked. “They would have commuter transports with FTLs.”

“Been there,” Helo said. “The only transports still there are ones in need of repair. We figured it would take too long to try and fix one and we didn’t want to be hanging around one place for too long. Not to mention, they’re probably watching places like that. They know we’re somewhere in the city.”

“Good point, but there’s three of us now, we might be able to handle it. It’s not that far and it’s fully dark now. I say we head over there and take a look. Taking the time to make a few quick repairs would be less risky than trying to sneak into a military base, don’t you think?”

It took less than 20 minutes for them to reach the spaceport. Like everything else in the city, it was deserted and forgotten. There were no Cylon centurions in sight. The three pilots made their way quickly through the public terminals and back to the huge, largely empty, hangar bay. At the far end of the cavernous room, was a row of about seven, small transports in various stages of assemblage. Only two or three appeared to be fully intact.

Ignoring the disassembled ships, Kara checked out the intact ones. The maintenance logs were still lying on the pilot seats. After a quick perusal of the first ship’s log, she dismissed it as too complicated a fix and moved on to the second ship. It proved to be much more appealing.

“Hey, this one just says that the auto-pilot isn’t working properly,” she announced, to no one in particular, since she was the only one on board the ship. “But we don’t need the auto-pilot anyway. It’ll only take me 15 minutes or so to disengage it completely and we can get out of here.”

Stepping back out of the small transport, she found Helo and Sharon waiting anxiously for her verdict.

“Okay, this one is definitely do-able,” she said. “Helo, go back out front and keep a look out for Cylons.” Addressing Sharon, she added, “You stay here and help me.”

“I don’t think I’ll be of much help,” Sharon said, gesturing to her arm in its sling.

“Well, you can hand me tools and act as another pair of eyes. I can trust you to do that, can’t I?”

“Yes.”

While Helo ran back to the front public area, Kara crawled under the transport and began opening hull panels. Sharon lowered herself gingerly to the floor beside her. For several minutes, the only conversation between the two was Kara barking out commands for various tools.

“So, what about Tyrol?” Kara asked abruptly.

“What? What about him?”

“I thought you two were in love. The other Sharon was in love with him. Do you even know what your other selves are doing?”

“Yeah, I’m somewhat aware of them, on a sort of sub-conscious level... I am sorry about Chief Tyrol. I never meant to hurt him, but you’re right, he probably will be hurt by all of this.”

“You think? So, this other Sharon was just using him to try and get pregnant, too, huh?”

“Yes,” Sharon said sadly.

“So, that’s all you are to the Cylons, a potential baby-making machine?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Sharon whispered, her expression bleak.

True to her word, it took Kara less than a half hour to remove the faulty auto-pilot and have the ship once again fully operational. Sitting in the pilot’s seat, feeling the engines roar to life and seeing all the lights on the instrument panel indicating that all the systems were responding, Kara felt her spirits lift for the first time in several very dark hours. Yes! I swear, sometimes I amaze even myself, she thought happily.

Once Helo had rejoined them, she programmed the Galactica’s coordinates into the transport’s FTL drive and they made their plan for escape. The two Raptor pilots would wait inside the transport, giving Kara 20 minutes to make it back to her Raider. Then both ships would take off. They would rendezvous just above the city’s coordinates, just outside the planet’s exosphere. Kara would give them a tail wag as a signal that it was her and not a real Raider. At that point they would begin their jumps to the Galactica. Since the transport could not make the trip in one jump, they would have to take it in stages.

Before she left the two junior officers to head back to the museum, Kara took Helo aside for a moment. “Last chance, you’re sure about this?” she asked him quietly. “You’re sure about taking her back with us?”

“Yeah,” he said, nodding.

“You do realize that she was just using you the whole time?”

“Yeah, I know, but it doesn’t really change anything. I mean, if she really is pregnant then... whatever she’s carrying is half mine and... I can’t just ignore that.”

Kara sighed and gave his arm a squeeze. “You’re a good guy, Helo.”

“Yeah, let’s hear it for me,” he said, sourly.

“Oh, uh, one more thing,” Kara said, pausing as she was about to leave. “You’re gonna want to be on your guard. I don’t know what kind of a reception we’re going to get back at the Galactica. I didn’t tell you before, but I didn’t exactly have permission for this little jaunt.”

“What? You mean you’re AWOL?” Helo gaped.

“Uh, yeah, kind of...,” she said with a grimace.

“How can you be ‘kind of’ AWOL? Damn, Starbuck... Oh well, it doesn’t really matter. You won’t get in any trouble. You never get in trouble for the crap you pull. The Old Man always covers your ass. Everyone knows that.”

Stung by the bitterness in his words, Kara said, “That’s not true.”

“Yeah, it is,” he said firmly.

“Yeah, well, I’ll see you guys in 20 minutes,” she said and quickly left the hangar bay.

A half hour later, standing on the roof of the building nearest the municipal spaceport, a statuesque blonde in a white raincoat watched the fading glow of the transport’s engines disappearing into the black sky, a slight smile playing on her lips. Everything was going quite smoothly. The transponder in the stolen Raider would allow them to track the ship. All they had to do was keep another Raider within transmission range and they would be led right to the Galactica.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Draedis contact sir!” Lt. Gaeta called out from his station. “Confirmed, one Cylon Raider and one... unidentified ship... it looks Colonial.”

Tigh looked up from his paperwork. “Launch the alert fi-.”

“Wait sir!” Dee interrupted. “I’m receiving coded signals from the Raider... It’s Starbuck, sir... She says the ship with her is a friendly.”

“Sir, I have another contact!” Gaeta broke in again. “Another Raider, it’s headed to-... wait, it’s gone, sir. It jumped.”

“Did it have time to get a fix on our location?”

“I would assume so, sir.”

Tigh heaved a heavy sigh that sounded more like a growl and when he spoke, his voice was tight with suppressed anger. “Give Starbuck and her friend clearance to land on the port side pod. Have a security team meet me there. Mr. Gaeta, you have the bridge.”

15 minutes later, Col. Tigh and his small detachment of Marines had the pleasure of being the first ones to see Starbuck climb out of her stolen Raider.

“Oh, you really did it this time, didn’t you?” he asked, almost happily, walking up to stand inches away from her. “You led the Cylons right to us! You were followed by another Raider. You compromised the safety of his fleet and for what!” Glancing down, he saw the Arrow in her hand. He snatched it away from her and brandished it in her face. “For this! For a ridiculous little piece of metal!”

The colonel’s rant was interrupted by a sudden flurry of activity among the Marines. Sharon and Helo had just disembarked from the transport and on sight of the female pilot, the Marines immediately trained every weapon on her. Turning his attention to the newcomers, Tigh recognized the young man.

“Helo?” he said softly. “What the hell?”

“Sir, I can explain everything,” Starbuck said, moving to stand in front of Sharon.

“She’s a Cylon,” Tigh said. “There’s nothing to explain.”

“Yes, obviously, but sh-.”

“She’s here to finish the job her counterpart started.”

“Job? What are you talking about?”

“Her counterpart here on the ship, shot the commander.”

“What?” Kara whispered, feeling like the bottom of her entire world had just dropped out from under her feet. “Is he...?”

“I didn’t know anything about that, sir, I swear!” Sharon spoke up.

“Get her out of here!” Tigh barked to the Marines.

“Wait, sir, she’s wounded!” Helo pleaded.

“So? That’s going to be the least of her worries soon enough.”

“But sir, she’s also pregnant.”

“What? That’s crap!”

“Sir, it would be easy enough to determine if she’s telling the truth,” Kara pointed out, forcing her mind back to the crisis at hand.

Just then the situation was diffused by a call over the PA system for Tigh. “Pass the word for Col. Tigh. Will Col. Tigh please report to the infirmary. Col. Tigh, please report to the infirmary.”

With another growling sigh, Tigh turned to the Marine sergeant, “Bring all three of them, but keep her under heavy guard,” he said, gesturing to Sharon.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Doctor Connelly watched the bizarre parade of people troop into his infirmary with the unflappable calm of a man who has seen just about everything through the course of his long career.

“Doc, I’ve an interesting case for you,” Tigh said, walking up to the doctor and pointing at Sharon, “a pregnant Cylon.”

“Well, that should be a first,” the doctor said calmly. Turning to one of the corpsmen standing nearby, he said, “Find a bed for her and see to her injury. We’ll deal with her later.”

As two Marines followed Sharon and the corpsman, the doctor got a look at Helo. “You appear to be favoring your right leg, Young Man. I’ll need to have a look at that as well.”

“Oh, it’s okay. It’s healing nicely,” Helo said quickly.

“Mmhmm, I’ll be the judge of that,” the doctor said dismissively, gesturing for another corpsman to take charge of the pilot.

Tigh turned back to the Marines. “I want a guard on him as well,” he said.

“But sir, it’s Helo,” Kara protested as two Marines moved to obey this order.

“Is it?”

Realizing the validity of his point, she fell silent.

“So, what is it you wanted?” Tigh asked, turning his attention back to the doctor.

“I wanted to inform you personally that we’re about to take the commander into surgery.”

“So, he’s still alive?” Kara asked.

“For now.”

“For now?” Tigh repeated.

“I’ll be honest,” Connelly said, with brutal calm, “it doesn’t look good. One of the bullets came dangerously close to the heart and he’s not a young man, but he is in good health... We’ll do everything we can for him.”

“Of course,” Tigh said softly. “Let me know when you’re done.”

Connelly nodded. “Oh, Colonel, I promised Capt. Adama that I would keep him informed...”

“Yeah, don’t worry, I’ll tell him.”

The doctor nodded and left them. Kara glanced around the infirmary, realizing for the first time that Lee wasn’t present. Why wasn’t he here, too, waiting for word on his father?

“Where is Lee?” she asked.

“Oh, don’t worry, Lieutenant, you’re going to be joining him right now,” Tigh said, with a slight malicious smile.

“And where’s that?”

“The brig.”

Chap. 2

Lee sat staring at the floor of his cell, occasionally taking dutiful sips from the bottle of water Doc Connelly had sent along with him. Raising his eyes, they fell on Sharon Valerii sitting in the next cell over. She was sitting in exactly the same position the security officers had placed her, in the cell, several hours ago. She had not moved or spoken a word in that entire time. She just sat, staring, unseeing, into space.

He wondered briefly what was going on in her head. She had failed to respond or react to anything the Marines had tried during their interrogation of her. She seemed to have retreated into a catatonic state. Lee found it supremely unfair that she had managed to find a way to elude their questions, but he was determined that she would not elude their justice. She shot his father, right in front of him. She would pay for that crime.

The motion of Laura pacing around the small cell she shared with him drew his attention away from the other pilot. He watched the president for a few minutes, but said nothing to her. At the moment, nothing much mattered to him. His father, the only family Lee had left, was fighting for his life and the last act he had seen his only surviving son perform was one of betrayal. Lee did not regret his decision or his action, but he was not proud of it either. He had committed mutiny, an act he would not previously have considered himself even capable of. At what point had his life spiraled so far out of his control? He had just started to get his feet back under him, recovering from the shock of the holocaust and now all of this... What would he do if his father died? Lee Adama had never felt so lost and alone in his entire life.

Laura paced and fretted. She knew she was wearing herself out needlessly, but she simply could not keep still. Had she done the right thing? she asked herself repeatedly. Surely this was not what the Gods had intended. Surely They had not intended for her actions to have such a divisive response. And was she somehow to blame for what had happened to the commander... Dear Lords, please let that not be the case. No, she frequently butted heads with the man, but she would never wish him harm. She had been hoping that once he had calmed down, she could have reasoned with him, but now, with an angry and vindictive Col. Tigh in charge... She a dreadful feeling that she might very well be spending her few remaining days here, in this tiny cell.

She glanced down at Lee as she passed by him. The young captain had been silent and withdrawn since they had brought him to the cell. He had answered her questions regarding his father’s condition, but he offered nothing else. She was at a loss as to how to deal with him. Half of her wanted to wrap her arms around him and offer comfort, while the other half wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake some sort of response from him. She almost thought she would prefer angry accusations and ranting from him, than this damn, stoic silence.

Equally as unnerving as Capt. Apollo’s silence, was Lt. Valerii’s. Laura had tried to talk to the young woman, to try to find out why she had done what she’d done, but she had gotten nowhere. The woman was even more withdrawn than Apollo, refusing to respond to questions at all.

The sound of someone entering the cell area did attract Lee’s attention and both he and Laura turned to see Col. Tigh enter escorting a very bruised and battered-looking Lt. Thrace. Laura’s eyes were immediately drawn to the Arrow of Apollo still clutched in Tigh’s hand.

Seeing the direction of Laura’s gaze, the colonel raised the Arrow to give her a better view of it. “That’s right, Madam President, here it is, your precious Arrow,” he sneered at her. “I hope it was worth it, because it’s probably going to cost us all our lives! Thanks to the little stunt you had Starbuck pull, we’ve probably got another Basestar headed our way. She was followed!”

“You led the Cylons back to us?” Lee demanded, glaring at Kara.

“Not on purpose,” she said softly.

With a sigh, he turned away from her. A long, heavy silence followed this exchange. It was eventually broken when Lee turned back to address Col. Tigh.

“My father?” he asked.

“They’ve just taken him into surgery. Doc Connelly will let me know when they’re done.”

Lee nodded, but said nothing.

“So, what are you going to do now?” Laura asked.

“I don’t really know,” Tigh said. “I’ve barely got any warheads left. I’ve got two Raptors away, searching the planet for survivors, and now my two best pilots are in the brig. Just what am I supposed to do?”

“Well, for starters, you can’t keep Lee and I locked up,” Kara pointed out. “As you just pointed out, you need every pilot you’ve got.”

“She’s right, Colonel, and you know it,” Lee said. “You need us.”

Now it was Tigh who turned away. They were right and he did know it, but that didn’t mean that he liked it. In fact, he hated it. How was he supposed to maintain discipline on this ship, if Starbuck was forever allowed to do whatever she wanted, just because she was valuable? At some point, someone was going to have to make a stand and punish her for her repeated insubordination or else all semblance of discipline would be lost. You can’t run a ship where one person was held to an entirely different set of rules than everyone else. He had already heard the grumblings among the other crews about her preferential treatment and now it seemed that her rebellious attitude was beginning to rub off on Lee. Eventually something would have to be done about it, but unfortunately... that day would not be today.

“Fine,” he growled at last. Turning to the Marine on duty, he said, “Release Capt. Adama.”

“Thank you, Colonel,” Lee said softly, as the guard moved to obey.

“Whatever... but she stays where she is,” Tigh said firmly, gesturing to Laura.

“But Co,” Lee started to protest, but fell silent at the older man’s glare. The captain knew better than to try and take advantage of the colonel’s unprecedented generosity. Lee threw an apologetic look at Laura.

“It’s alright, Captain, go and do your job,” she said, with a slight smile.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All eyes turned to watch as the colonel entered CIC, flanked on either side by the two supposedly mutinous pilots. Tigh gestured for Lt. Gaeta to join the three as they moved to the lighted console table in the center of the large room. Spread out on the table were star charts depicting their current position within the sector that they had explored.

“Alright, very likely we will have a Cylon Basestar descending on us at any time,” Tigh said quietly, largely for Gaeta’s benefit. “Anyone have any ideas on how we should deal with it when it does show up?”

Silence.

“That’s what I thought. Mr. Gaeta, how many warheads do we have left?”

“Three, sir.”

“Three,” Tigh repeated heavily. “We have three warheads to last us until we get to... wherever...”

“Sir, we could still try my original plan,” Kara suggested. “You know, I set the auto-pilot in the Raider, punch out and get picked up by a Raptor.”

“No, we already used a Raptor. I don’t think the Cylons will fall for the same trick twice.”

“Yeah, but this is another Raider. They would have no reason to suspect it.”

“Tell me something, Kara,” Lee spoke up. “How exactly do you propose to ‘punch out’ of the Raider? It doesn’t have an ejection seat. It’s not designed for an ejection seat. Not to mention that you barely fit inside that thing as it is. With the added bulk of flight suit, oxygen tank and helmet, how easy do you think it will be for you to climb in and out of that thing?”

“Well, I did it before.”

“Yeah, and how quickly did you manage it?”

Kara was silent for a moment. “Do you have a better idea?”

“Yeah, actually, I think I do... Gaeta, could you come with me, please?” Without waiting to be dismissed by the colonel or even to see if the other officer was behind him or not, Lee left the bridge.

With a quick, uncomfortable glance at Tigh, Gaeta trailed after the captain, leaving the colonel and Kara, completely in the dark.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lee and Gaeta stood on the port side hangar deck and stared at the captured Raider. The captain was holding several sheets of paper.

“Okay, think this through with me...,” Lee said. “The Raiders are living machines. Their circuitry mimics organic functions, but it’s still synthetic and it’s still a machine...”

“Well, essentially the Human body is just an organic machine,” Gaeta pointed out.

“Exactly, and like the Human body, they’re machines governed by electrical impulses sent by the brain.”

“Yes...”

“Okay, we know from Racetrack’s debriefing, that the Basestars are of a similar design, just on a much larger scale,” Lee said, gesturing to the report in his hand. “I think it would be safe to assume that the Basestars are the ‘brains.’”

Gaeta thought about this for a moment, then nodded and said, “Okay, I’ll go along with that.”

“So, working with the idea that the Basestars are huge... brains... If we were to introduce a massive electromagnetic pulse wave into it, we could short circuit the entire ship, essentially electrocute it.”

“You mean like an E-bomb?”

“Exactly, an electromagnetic bomb.”

“In order to take out something that big, we’d need a nuclear EMP bomb and we don’t have the materials to make something like that,” Gaeta said, musing. “Although, I suppose we could take the plutonium from one of the warheads, but we don’t have many left... And why not just use the warhead?”

“No, save the warheads, that’s the whole point. We don’t need the plutonium anyway, because we have plenty of materials to make flux compression generator bombs.”

“FCGs... Wow, that’s old school...”

“Yeah, old school enough that I don’t think they’d see it coming,” Lee said, with a smile.

“Yeah, but in order to do any real damage, we’d need a lot of them.”

“As many as you can make. How soon can you get started?”

“Well, I could have a prototype for you within the hour and then we could test it.”

“We don’t have time for that. We could have a Basestar on us at any time. Just start making them. Get whatever help you need. Don’t worry about Tigh, I’ll take full responsibility for this.”

“Are you sure about this, sir?”

Lee gave the other man a rueful smile. “I’ve already committed mutiny...”

“Yes sir.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Depending on how many bombs Gaeta and his team can make for us, we put at least one FCG on every Raptor and as many Vipers as we can. The Vipers without FCGs will have to fly shotgun for the Raptors,” Lee said, outlining his plan to Kara and Tigh. They were once again gathered around the console in CIC.

“We’ll also load up Kara and her Raider. They’re our ace-in-the-hole. As soon as we engage the enemy, she launches and joins the furball, but she doesn’t engage. And hopefully, with all the activity, none of the Cylons will notice what direction she came from-.”

“Yeah, and hopefully, none of our own people will get too enthusiastic and shoot me down, either,” Kara interrupted, sarcastically.

“Yeah, that would be bad. You should try not to let that happen,” Lee agreed in a deadpan voice. “Anyway, Kara will get in close to the Basestar, where she’ll fire off her full payload of FCGs, then get the hell out of there. With the Basestar hit, there should be plenty of confusion. The Raptors and the Vipers move in to add their bombs. The Basestar dies a fiery death.”

“There are an awful lot of assumptions with this plan.” Kara pointed out. “I mean, even with Racetrack’s report, we understand squat about the Basestars. We don’t even understand the Raider and we’ve studied it. What if all of your assumptions are wrong?”

“It doesn’t really matter. Even if they’re just ordinary, mechanical ships like the Galactica, the E-bombs should still fry all of their electrical systems, leaving them, at least, temporarily helpless and at the mercy of the Vipers.”

“Fine,” Col. Tigh interjected, before the argument could continue. “Do whatever you have to, to make it happen.”

“Actually, I already have Gaeta working on the bombs,” Lee confessed.

“Oh really?”

“Yes sir, and, uh, I should probably go and check on his progress.”

“Fine, Captain, you’re dismissed,” Tigh said, pointedly.

“Thank you, sir.” Lee gave the older man a crisp salute and left the CIC.

He had barely taken more than a few steps down the corridor, when Kara caught up to him and fell into step beside him.

“You’d better be damn sure about this plan of yours, because we don’t have anything else,” she said.

He stopped walking and turned to face her. “Hey, it’s a more theoretically sound plan then your crack-pot scheme to take out that Cylon base was and yet, somehow it worked. And, despite the fact that I thought your plan was crap and it was my ass that was on the line, not yours, I still backed you up. The least you could have done back there was to return the favor.”

“It’s not my job to back you up.”

“Yes, actually it is, as my Deputy CAG and as my friend. But then again, I’m beginning to realize that with a ‘friend’ like you, who needs Cylons?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that ever since I set foot on this ship, you have done nothing but undermine my authority. Professionally, you have been blatantly disrespectful and insubordinate. And personally, you have questioned my decisions and my abilities. You may be a better pilot than me, but that does not make me a bad pilot. And may I remind you that you have no more practical experience at any of this than I do, so who the hell are you to question my abilities?

“Now, whether you like it or not, I outrank you. I am the CAG and that means my word is scripture. And you have no business talking to my father behind my back, even if he asks you to.”

“I am just trying to do what’s best for the ship.”

“Stabbing me in the back is what’s best for the ship?” Lee yelled.

“Zac, I just don’t think you’re ready fo-.” Seeing the cold fire flash in his eyes, she suddenly realized what she had just said. “Oh Gods, Lee, I’m so sor-.”

“No, don’t bother. I don’t want to hear it.”

Chap. 3

The Arrow of Apollo sat on the desk, looking old, tarnished, and slightly battered. Kind of like how I feel, Tigh thought sourly, staring at the artifact and wondering what was so special about it. What made it worth dying for? Although the Cylons had still not yet shown up, he was still convinced they would. They were probably just letting the Colonials second-guess themselves, let them relax, then they’d strike. The Cylons had already shown themselves quite capable of playing mind games. He was certain that this was just another one.

Taking another sip from his glass of Ambrosia, the colonel reached out and picked up the Arrow with his free hand. It was surprisingly heavy for something so flimsy-looking and he wondered briefly if it was made of gold. Not that it really mattered, he realized, gold had no more value now, than the cubits jingling in his pocket. Nothing really matters anymore, he thought despondently, tossing the Arrow back onto his desk and refilling his glass.

His pessimistic thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the hatch door opening and he turned to see Ellen enter the state room. She was wearing a tight, low-cut, bright pink dress and looking slightly unsteady on her feet. Evidently he wasn’t the only one who’d started drinking early.

“Oh, you’re here,” she said, with a radiant smile. “I thought you’d still be up in CIC for another couple of hours.”

“Yeah, I was. Where were you?”

“Oh, nowhere,” she said, with a dismissive wave of one hand. “You know, just wandering around, trying to learn my way around this tub.”

“Mmmhmm,” he growled.

“So, don’t they need you up in CIC?”

“Not really, Apollo and Starbuck have everything well under control. Who needs a pathetic old man getting in the way? Why? Are you trying to get rid of me, too? Are you expecting someone?”

Ignoring his questions, she said, “I thought they were both in the brig.”

“Had to let them out. There’s probably a Cylon Basestar heading our way. I’m going to need every pilot I’ve got.”

“Oh, and what are you going to do?”

“Well, Apollo’s already come up with a plan. He’s in charge of the execution of it.”

“I see,” Ellen said. “So, you’re just going to sit back and let Lee and this Starbuck take over your ship? This is your moment, Saul, your turn to shine, to step out from Bill’s shadow. You can’t just sit there and let Bill’s son try to steal your glory... Now, I suggest you get your butt back up there and take charge. After all, who’s in command around here?”

“You know something? You’re right... This is my moment and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let either of them take it away from me,” Tigh said, draining his glass in one gulp.

Standing and straightening his uniform, he gave his wife a deep kiss and left the cabin to return to CIC. The Arrow of Apollo remained behind, forgotten on the desk.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sick bay was actually fairly quiet for a change as Kara entered and glanced around, looking for the commander’s bed. They had received word about a half hour ago that the surgery was complete. The two bullets had been successfully removed, but the patient was still comatose and in serious condition.

Noting a lot of equipment at the far end of the large room, she headed in that direction, but as she drew closer, she saw that Lee was already there, standing at his father’s bedside. It occurred to her that the captain would probably want to be alone at the moment, so she decided not to approach. And considering their earlier argument, she was in no hurry to deal with him either. She could wait until Lee had gone, to go and see the Old Man.

Turning around, she headed back the way she had come, to go in search of Doc Connelly. Her wrist was still quite tender and somewhat swollen from when she had fallen through the floor, fighting with the blonde Cylon back on Caprica. It would probably be a good idea to have the wrist X-rayed while she actually had a few minutes to spare.

After a quick examination, it was determined that she did not have a concussion. The X-rays showed no broken bones, but the doctor determined the wrist was sprained. He wrapped it in an elastic cloth bandage and cleared her for duty, with an admonishment to ‘take it easy.’

“Yeah, sure, Doc, just make sure you pass those instructions on to the Cylons too,” Kara said, with a grin.

As she was leaving the examination area, she noticed two security officers standing over by a semi-private area, with five-foot tall partitions. Realizing that this must be where they were keeping Helo and Sharon, she headed over. The guard, who stepped up to intercept her, looked as if he was going to deny her access to the two prisoners, but evidently changed his mind. He stepped aside and allowed her to step into the cubicle.

Helo was asleep. It occurred to her that he had probably gotten precious little of that these past few weeks. Metal bars had been attached to the sides of his bed and one of his wrists was handcuffed to one of the bars. The same bars had been attached to Sharon’s bed, but she was actually tied to the bed with thick, black nylon straps. She was awake and watching Kara warily.

Kara stepped up to the bed and rested her hands on the bars. “This seems a bit like overkill,” she said. Her tone was cool, but not exactly rude.

Sharon gave a slight shrug within her bonds. “They told me what happened to the commander. I guess I can understand that they’re not taking any chances, especially since I’m in the same room with him. How is he, by the way?”

“He’s out of surgery... I guess we just wait and see, now. But he’ll be okay. He’s a fighter,” she said, with more confidence than she felt.

“We both know you didn’t come down here to check on me. So, what can I do for you, Starbuck?”

“Where are the Cylons? They followed us. They know where we are. Why isn’t there a Basestar on top of us already? It’s been almost 12 hours. What are they up to?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re one of them, aren’t you? How do they think?”

“No, I’m not one of them, not anymore, anyway.” She glanced down towards her stomach as she said this. Doc Connelly had confirmed that she was, indeed, pregnant. “I swear to you, Starbuck, I don’t know what they’re doing. It’s like I’ve been cut off... I don’t know how to explain it...”

Realizing that Starbuck still wanted some kind of an answer, she continued, “Maybe they’re trying to give us a false sense of security or maybe they’re just trying to keep us tense and on-edge, you know, throw us off balan-.”

“Stop saying ‘us’,” Kara interrupted coldly. “Maybe you’re not one of them anymore, but you’re definitely not one of us.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

With a heavy sigh, Lee leaned forward, resting his elbows on the small table in the emptied out store room, that was currently being used as an interrogation room, and stared at the Cylon sitting across from him. He had been trying to get Sharon to speak to him for the past hour and was getting nowhere. He had tried yelling at her, pleading with her, threatening her, and she had not even raised her head to look at him once. She just sat staring down at her handcuffed wrists, which were resting in her lap.

He had drawn the line at physically abusing her. For some reason, he would not strike her or allow the Marine, who was guarding his back, to strike her either. Perhaps it was because he had first known her as a friend, as a pilot under his command, that he wouldn’t cross that line. More likely, he realized with discomfort, it was because he knew that if he did strike her, he might not be able to stop. So, keeping his seething rage tightly reigned in, he had kept his interrogation strictly verbal.

Unfortunately this approach was not working. He strongly suspected that a physical approach wouldn’t have been any more effective anyway. It was obvious that she was beyond caring what happened to her. He didn’t know her well enough to try anything psychological. He knew that she had been involved with Chief Tyrol, but since he was currently MIA, that didn’t help much. Lee didn’t know if there was any other crewmember that she was close to... Or did he?

With sudden inspiration, he stood and addressed the Marine. “Keep her here. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

It was, in fact, 20 minutes before he returned to the store room. He moved around the table, to stand in front of the prisoner. It was obvious that she hadn’t moved a muscle since he had left.

“There’s someone here to see you, Sharon,” he said quietly. She did not lift her head.

“Sharon... what’s going on?” a very young voice asked.

For the first time since she had shot the commander, she seemed to be aware of her surroundings. Slowly she lifted her head. Boxey stood beside Capt. Apollo, looking terribly young, frightened, and confused.

“Everyone’s saying you shot the commander,” the boy said. “Why would you do that? Tell them it wasn’t you.”

The boy started to move closer to her, but Apollo put his hands on the boy’s narrow shoulders and held him back. “No, stay next to me,” the captain ordered gently.

This seemed to have a profound affect on her. She flinched visibly, as if Apollo had struck her. A single tear slid slowly down her cheek.

“Sharon, please, tell them it wasn’t you. It was a mistake, an accident. It had to be. Tell them!” Boxey pleaded. Tears were starting down his cheeks as well.

“Why did you bring him here?” Sharon whispered to Apollo. They were the first words she had spoken in almost two days.

“Answer his question,” Lee said flatly. “Why did you shoot my father?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered, hunching over her lap and trying to make herself as small as possible.

“That’s not an answer.”

“Get him out of here. Please, I’ll tell you anything, just get him out of here.”

Glancing down at the boy, who was crying openly now, Lee felt a sharp pang of guilt. He had accomplished his goal. He had broken through her defensive shell. The boy didn’t need to see anymore. It had been Lee’s intention to punish the woman, not the child.

Turning to a second Marine, who had accompanied he and the boy into the room, Lee said, “Take him back to his quarters.”

“No!” Boxey cried out, as the Marine stepped up and grasped his upper arm. “Capt. Apollo, promise me you won’t hurt her! Promise me!”

Lee resolutely turned his back as the boy was led out of the room. “Okay, the boy’s gone,” he said to Sharon. “Now talk.”

“I don’t know what you want me to say,” she said, in a small voice. “I don’t really even remember doing it. For weeks now, I’ve been feeling really weird. Sometimes I find myself doing things and I don’t know why. I suddenly find myself in strange places and I don’t know how I got there. There are these long gaps of time where I don’t remember anything I did.”

She was still looking down at her lap and she was speaking in such a soft voice that Lee had to move close to hear what she was saying. She seemed so broken and lost that, against his better judgment, he crouched down in front of her so that he could see her tear-streaked face.

“While Racetrack and I were on the Cylon Basestar, I saw myself...,” she continued, in the same soft, monotone. “It was strange. It was like returning to a home you’ve always known in your mind, but you’ve never actually set foot in...”

“Why did you shoot my father?” Lee asked softly.

“I don’t know,” she repeated. “When I walked into CIC, after the mission, I felt fine. I felt normal. I didn’t feel any anger towards him or anything. I stepped up to shake his hand and found there was a gun in mine. I don’t remember drawing it. It was just there. I pulled the trigger. I don’t know why. I just did. It was like a dream. It was like someone else was in control. I was just there for the ride...”

Slowly she raised her eyes to look at him. Their eyes met and she was abruptly struck by just how blue his eyes were. Funny, she’d never really noticed their color before. From her slightly higher position, seated in the chair, she could just see over his shoulder and she noticed for the first time that he had a sidearm tucked in the waistband of his pants, at the small of his back.

Moving so quickly and suddenly, that the captain had no time to react, Sharon jerked her arms apart, shattering the flimsy metal handcuffs. At the same time, she lunged forward, reaching around to grab the gun before he could, and using her forward momentum, she bore him to the floor, pinning him down in a surprisingly strong grip. As the Marine moved sluggishly toward her, she jammed the gun up under Apollo’s jaw. Instantly the Marine checked his movement and backed off.

Turning her attention back to the man pinned beneath her, she once again looked into those blue, blue eyes. He did not struggle to push her away. He did not look away from her, but returned her stare with a fierce intensity. There was no fear in those eyes, only anger. Slowly, she took the gun from his jaw and pressed it against her own temple.

“Do it,” Lee whispered through tightly clenched teeth.

The report of the gun sounded loud in the tense silence of the small room and it seemed to Lee that it took hours for the Marine to move forward to help him lift Sharon’s dead weight off of him. Sitting up, he scooted quickly away from the body to lean his back against the nearest wall. Now that the crisis was ended, he found that his entire body was shaking violently. Taking a few deep breaths, he tried to regain control over his body.

It was a moment before he realized that a Marine, not the one who’d been in the room with him, was kneeling beside him, speaking. “Are you alright, sir? Are you injured at all?”

Lee shook his head, not trusting himself to speak yet. He was vaguely aware of the sound of someone vomiting in the background. He sat for a long time, staring at the ruined mess of what used to be Sharon Valerii, or one of the Sharons. He was feeling a lot of conflicting emotions at that moment, but surprisingly, guilt and remorse were not among them.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lee found Boxey in his ‘quarters’. It was an unused supply room located down the hallway from the crew Chiefs’ barracks. Even with all the shelves removed, the small room was only just big enough to hold a cot and a small trunk for the boy’s few belongings. It was cramped and dimly lit, but it did have the luxury of its own utility sink. Not even the officers’ barracks boasted of that. The boy was sitting on the bed, hugging his knees to his chest. He started to get to his feet respectfully when Lee entered, but the captain waved him back down.

“May I sit down?” Lee asked politely, gesturing to the bed.

“Yes sir,” the boy said, staring, wide-eyed, at Lee’s shirt.

Glancing down, the captain saw what had obviously caught the boy’s eye. Even though he had removed his blood-spattered uniform shirt, some of it had evidently soaked through to his undershirts. He hadn’t noticed it. There was probably still blood visible on his neck and shoulder as well. Belatedly, the captain realized that he probably should have showered before coming here, but it was too late now. Seating himself awkwardly at the foot of the bed, he tried to decide how best to break the news to Boxey. As it turned out, the internal debate was unnecessary.

“She’s dead, isn’t she?” the boy asked quietly.

“Yes.”

“Yeah, she’s been kind of weird lately. The injury she had earlier... I didn’t think it was an accident...”

“I’m sorry, but... She was a Cylon,” Lee said. He knew this wasn’t a comforting statement, but it was all he could come up with under the circumstances.

Boxey nodded. “She and the chief were the only ones who really seemed to care about me. It just seems strange that one of the few people to care was a Cylon.”

“I’m sorry...”

“You keep saying that, but you’re not. You wanted her dead. She shot your father.”

Lee couldn’t seem to find it in himself to deny this accusation, so he simply said, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

The boy nodded again and turned away. It was a moment before Lee realized that he was crying, very quietly. The captain froze. He didn’t know what to do. Aside from his brother, who had only been three years younger, he had never dealt with children. He had a sudden, incredible desire to run away, to abandon the child to his private grief. But remembering what it felt like to lose someone close and not have a sympathetic shoulder to lean on, he pushed that desire aside and gently pulled Boxey into his arms. He held the boy for a long time while he cried.

He continued to hold the boy even after he had cried himself to sleep. Boxey’s relatively small weight was somehow comforting to the captain’s ravaged emotions. Evidently in offering comfort, he received it as well. He had never really experienced this before. His own father had never held him and soothed him in this way. Granted the man hadn’t been around much to offer sympathy. Perhaps if he had been home more... Lee gave his head a slight shake, dispelling the unproductive thoughts. There was nothing to be done about the past. Only the future could be altered...

An abrupt, loud buzzing sound came over the PA system, as well as a voice calling for action stations. Lee quickly, but gently, disengaged himself from the still-sleeping child. At last, he thought, I can see if my plan works.

Chapter 4

“You know, I really should get back to the others. They might be looking for me,” Gaius said.

“Don’t concern yourself about them. They have enough to worry about with all their wounded. They haven’t even noticed your absence yet,” the blonde replied.

“Oh, fine,” he said, a bit petulantly.

She smiled at him indulgently. “Don’t worry about it, Gaius. You don’t want to be with them anyway. You need to be here when all the action starts.”

“Action? Wh-what action? ...Are there Cylons on the planet?”

She continued to smile enigmatically.

“Well, I-I should go and warn the others...”

“That’s not necessary. They’re in no immediate danger. We’re not interested in them at the moment.”

“What are you interested in?”

“The Tomb of Athena.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The captured Raider sat on the starboard side landing pod. At the signal from CIC, Starbuck would launch from here, as the Raider did not fit in the Viper launch tubes. It made things a little trickier, but it was nothing she couldn’t handle. She had to wait until the Vipers engaged the incoming Raiders, so that she could ‘sneak’ into the furball unnoticed by the other Raiders. Her boy had been tagged with a small, wireless transmitter, which would send out a scrambled signal to the Vipers indicating that she was the friendly. Hopefully the Cylons wouldn’t pick up the signal as well.

What was taking so long? she fumed. Gods, she hated waiting. She was not a patient person at the best of times, she was definitely not when her friends were out there in the thick of it and she was stuck here, waiting for the go ahead.

She also hated not being in control. She knew that was the main problem she had with this plan; it wasn’t hers. Despite her objections to Lee, she knew perfectly well that with any plan, there was a certain amount of variables and it was these variables that defined the risk level. Kara was by no means afraid of taking risks, but she preferred to take them on her own terms. These were Lee’s terms.

She had known Lee Adama for a long time. They had gone through Flight Indoctrination, Basic Flight and Viper Training together. She felt she knew his strengths and weaknesses quite well. He was a strong planner and a good leader. He was efficient, competent, intelligent, and logical... Damn, almost sounds like Cylon, she thought, and that was exactly why she doubted his ability to outwit the Cylons. He simply thought too much like them. He was also rigid, idealistic, and self-righteous.

And while she hadn’t really seen him in the past two years, she found it very difficult to imagine that he had changed that drastically in that time. This plan was risky and untried. It was not what she would have expected from Lee, so either he had come up with the plan by working well outside of his normal comfort zone, or she had completely misjudged him. Neither thought made her feel much confidence.

At last Dee’s voice came over her earpiece, clearing her for launch. The Galactica was positioned so that her starboard side was turned away from the Basestar, so that when Kara launched, she would have some ‘cover’. As she did, she heard Dee call out over their scrambled frequency, “Apollo, the cat is outta the bag. Repeat, the cat is outta the bag.”

As Starbuck brought her Raider out from beneath the Galactica’s bulk, she saw the furball straight ahead of her. Deciding to keep her ship low, she hoped to slip in underneath the thickest part of the action and sidle in close to the Basestar unobserved.

Approaching the action, her instrument panel flashed a warning a couple of times, telling her that she had been ‘painted’ by some of the Vipers, but since she hadn’t been shot at, it was clear that her wireless transmitter seemed to be doing its job. Well, that was one less thing to worry about. She was drawing closer to the Basestar now and she moved her right hand to hover over the control which would release the four homemade E-bombs off her wings.

Suddenly her instrument panel began lighting up, as a strange series of symbols flashed across her computer screen and a complex series of clicks and tones erupted from the Cylon transponder. Checking her display, she saw that another Raider had parked itself on her tail and was apparently trying to communicate with her.

“Damn, how do you say ‘frak off’ in Cylon?” she wondered aloud, maneuvering her ship to try and shake the Raider off her.

It stayed glued to her tail, although it did not open fire. The high pitched beeps and tones continued to issue from the transponder. Evidently the Raider was more confused than alarmed by her apparently unusual behavior. Jinking erratically a few more times, she abruptly poured on the speed, leaving the other Raider behind as it was still attempting to duplicate her previous maneuver.

Deciding to forgo any further attempts at deception, Starbuck simply sped full throttle towards the looming Basestar. As she came within weapons range, a new set of tones came from the transponder, lower pitched and somehow more authoritative-sounding. She decided it must be the Basestar trying to communicate with her now.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Starbuck mumbled to herself. “Translate this!”

Punching the launch code into her computer, she released her four E-bombs directly into the heart of the Cylon ship. With her wings now clean, she was lighter and even more maneuverable. Rolling to her right, she tumbled away from the Basestar and hauled ass out its weapons range. Once at reasonably safe distance, she paused to watch what happened.

With the impact of the bombs, flashes of light began erupting all along the ship’s dark hull, radiating outward from the points of impact. Over the scrambled wireless frequency, she heard Dee call out,” Starbuck has drawn first blood! Apollo, you are a go! You are a go!”

Just as Apollo had predicted, once the Basestar took the hits, many of the Raiders seemed to become somewhat disoriented. Others began to drop back to defend their wounded ship. Moving in, the Vipers picked off the confused Raiders and ignored the retreating ones, to unload their own bombs. The Raptors moved in behind the Vipers and added their full payloads as well.

“Good work everybody!” Apollo’s voice came over the wireless, “Now, let’s back off and give this thing some room to thrash.”

As the Vipers moved to join her, Starbuck turned her ship to watch the fireworks. More and more flashes of blue light were erupting on the Basestar’s hull. All at once there was a brilliant flash of light and the entire ship went black. The Raiders still flocked around it also went black and began drifting lifelessly; bumping into each other and the Basestar as they apparently lost all power.

Hmm, Starbuck thought, interesting... it didn’t blow up. It just sort of... died. Oh well, it was good to know that Lee wasn’t right about everything on this mission.

“Okay, that was kind of anti-climactic,” Apollo said over the wireless, his voice sounding slightly disappointed. “Alright, all Raptors, buster back to the Galactica. All Vipers, with me. Let’s make sure this thing is good and dead. Give it everything you’ve got.”

Starbuck joined the Vipers as they opened fire on the Basestar and the remaining, drifting Raiders. This time they were rewarded with a large and satisfying ball of light as the Cylon ship exploded.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Sir, the Basestar has been destroyed,” Gaeta reported to the Colonel, his grin barely concealed.

A cheer went up among the bridge’s crew, but it was quickly stifled by Tigh. “Thank you, Mr. Gaeta,” he said loudly. “Dee, bring the Vipers home.”

“Aye sir.”

“Mr. Gaeta, please have a security team meet me on the hangar deck.”

“Sir?”

“You heard me, Mr. Gaeta,” Tigh said firmly. “I think Lt. Starbuck and Capt. Apollo have had a long enough parole, don’t you? You have the deck,” he added as he strode out of CIC.

“Yes sir,” Gaeta said quietly, although the XO was already out of earshot. The lieutenant glanced around at the other stunned and apprehensive faces as he went to carry out his orders.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As CAG, Lee was the last pilot to land on the Galactica. Considering the success of the mission, he was expecting an exuberant reception when he raised the canopy of his Viper. Instead, he was greeted by a tense silence and the ground crewmen, who hurried forward to help him removed his helmet and collar, seemed anxious and ill at ease. None of them would meet his eyes.

Confused, he glanced around and saw Starbuck standing in the center of the hangar bay. Her hands were handcuffed in front of her. Col. Tigh stood on one side of her and a Marine on the other. Climbing out of the cockpit, Lee found another Marine waiting for him at the bottom of the ladder. Lee groaned inwardly, but said nothing. Moving to stand in front of the man, he extended his hands out, wrists together. This was starting to become a disturbing regularity.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the corporal mumbled as he put the cuffs on the captain. “For what it’s worth, a lot of us think the colonel’s out of line.”

Lee looked up sharply at the man, but made no comment. Glancing around at the gathered pilots and ground crews, he saw many angry expressions. It seemed that at least in this instance, the other pilots were siding with him and Starbuck. The Marine gestured toward the colonel and Lee headed in his direction.

“Now that our little crisis is over with, the two of you are no longer needed,” Tigh said. “You will be returned to the brig.”

“But sir, the Cylons still know our location. They could return at any time,” Lee pointed out.

“I’m aware of that, Captain. I have received word from one of the Raptors searching the planet. They believe they may have spotted the wreckage of the downed Raptor. We will begin evacuating the survivors as quickly as possible and then we will jump the fleet to a new location.”

“But sir, we can’t just abandon the planet,” Kara spoke up. “What about the Arrow?”

“Thanks to you, we can’t stay here, Lieutenant. The Cylons are all over this sector and the planet. It wouldn’t be safe to try and do anything down there. No, we get our people back and we get the hell out of here... Corporal, please escort these two back to the brig.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“I am so sorry that I got the two of you involved in all of this,” Laura said quietly. “It appears that I did so for no reason. Apparently Col. Tigh is not going to relent on his stance, so both of your mutinous actions were for nothing.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Madam President,” Lee said. “We each made our own decisions.” He noted that Kara remained conspicuously silent.

Now that the second cell, that had previously housed Sharon, was empty, Lee had been placed in it, while Kara had been placed in the cell with Laura. The two officers had quickly gotten the president caught up on what had been happening. They had been in the cells for almost two hours and already Kara was ready to climb the walls. She wasn’t sure how long Tigh intended to keep them here, but she was sure it was going to be too long for her, hell, it already was.

“Well, we now know how to find Kobol,” Laura pointed out, trying to inject some hope for the younger people. “Perhaps when the commander regains consciousness, he’ll be able to talk some sense into Col. Tigh and we can come back.”

“Yeah, if my father regains consciousness,” Lee amended darkly.

“Don’t talk like that,” Laura said quickly, reaching a hand through the bars that separated the two cells, to squeeze Lee’s shoulder. “Your father will be alright. I’m sure of it.”

Lee flashed her a wan, but grateful, smile. Kara saw this and felt her stomach clench. “Your dad’s gonna pull through, Lee,” she said. “He’s tough. He’s a fighter.”

The arrival of a visitor for the president interrupted the conversation. Billy entered the holding area carrying a small, leather case. The guard stationed at the door stopped the young man and asked what was in the case.

“Oh, uh, it’s the president’s medication. She has very bad allergies,” Billy said. He gave the guard a long and significant look.

“Right. Okay, carry on,” the guard responded returning to her paperwork.

Immediately Lee was suspicious. He glanced over at Kara and saw that she had also caught the mistake. Why hadn’t the guard asked to look inside the case? That was standard procedure. He watched with interest as the young aide approached the president’s cell.

“Madam President, I brought your allergy medication,” Billy said, handing the case through the bars.

“Thank you, Billy,” Laura said gratefully. She was several hours overdue for her dose of the Komala Extract. But as she opened the case and looked inside, she found, not only the bottle of extract, but a small handgun as well.

Keeping her face carefully neutral, she removed the plastic bottle, slipped it into the pocket of her suit jacket and discreetly passed the case through the bars to Capt. Apollo, who had moved to lean casually against the bars, slightly behind her. Billy had intelligently placed his body directly in front of Laura, so that he could act as a screen for her activities. Guessing what was in the case, Lee quickly stashed it away. He and Kara had both already pulled off the top portions of their flight suits, which they simply let drape over their belts, and now he tucked the case under these folds.

Moving casually, he went to the rear of his cell, carefully keeping his back to the guard and the surveillance camera mounted on the wall above her head. He glanced over at Kara again and gave her a slight nod. She stood also and moved to the front of her cell, to stand beside the president. Lee pulled the gun from the case and tucked it behind his belt, under the fold of his flight suit. Turning around again, he joined the other two at the front of the cells.

“You ready to play hostage, Billy?” the captain asked the younger man in a very low voice.

“Yes sir, although I’m not sure it’ll be necessary.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I told Dee about the Arrow of Apollo and the president’s plan to use to try to use it to find the way to Earth. Uh, I didn’t mention your illness, Ma’am,” he added quickly. “Anyway, she told some other people... It’s all over the ship now and most of the crews are supporting you, Madam President. They want you to get down to Kobol.”

“Did Dee get you the gun?” Lee asked quietly.

Billy nodded.

“You do realize that you two just organized a full-scale mutiny?”

The young aide swallowed nervously. “Yes sir, I know.”

“Well done... Okay, let’s do this.”

Without any further warning, Lee reached through the bars and grabbed the younger man around the shoulders and pinned him back against the bars. Pulling the gun from his belt, he thrust it against Billy’s temple. It was an awkward stance for both men, as Billy was several inches taller than Lee.

“Guard!” Lee called out.

When the young woman looked up, her ‘startled’ reaction was so obviously feigned that Lee knew immediately that she was in on the plan. It occurred to him then that she had only come on duty about an hour earlier.

“Open the cells,” He ordered.

The young woman fumbled in her pockets for the key which unlocked the drawer of her desk. From this, she produced the keys which unlocked the cells. Moving around her desk, she unlocked the door to Kara and Laura’s cell first.

As soon as the two women were freed, Lee said, “Kara, disarm her.”

Kara moved quickly to obey, taking the sidearm from the holster at the other woman’s hip. With Kara now covering the guard with her own weapon, Lee could release Billy and allow the woman to unlock his cell. Once they were all free, they put the guard in Lee’s cell and locked her in. She at least would have an excuse for her failure to stop the prisoners from escaping. The camera would back up her story. She might get reprimanded for being negligent, but she wouldn’t be accused of mutiny. Moving to the far end of the room, away from the guard and out of sight of the camera, the group continued to make their plans.

“Dee has already made arrangements with the ground crew on duty for there to be a ship ready for you,” Billy informed the others. “They couldn’t get a Raptor or a shuttle ready without drawing some unwanted attention, so they’ve gotten that little transport that you brought from Caprica ready.” He inclined his head toward Kara as he said this.

“But what about the Arrow of Apollo?” Laura asked. “How do we find it and get it?”

“Don’t worry; it’s already been taken care of. It’s on the transport waiting for you. It was in the colonel’s quarters. I went there and, um, got it from his wife.” At this last statement, Billy’s face turned a light shade of pink.

“Oh? And how did you manage that?” Laura asked pointedly.

“You don’t want to know,” he said quickly as the color of his face deepened to bright red.

“You’re right, I probably don’t.”

As they made their way to the hangar deck, Lee kept Billy close beside him, in case they needed to use him as a ‘hostage’ again. But as the younger man had predicted, it proved unnecessary. Most of the people they passed ignored the small group all together. Others simply threw them mildly curious glances. No one tried to stop them the entire way to the hangar deck and when they arrived, they found the Caprican transport ready and waiting to be lifted up to the flight deck above them. No one said a word to them as they quickly boarded, leaving Billy behind.

The Arrow of Apollo was waiting for the president, just as Billy had promised, lying on one of the passenger seats. She picked it up almost lovingly and held it in both of her hands. She thought she could almost feel the power of all the past ages pulsing through the shaft.

Before he closed the airlock door of the ship, Lee turned to Kara saying, “Listen, there’s no reason for you to come along. You’ve already been AWOL once this week, there’s no reason to make a second time. I think even I can handle flying this thing, so why don’t you sit this one out.”

“Lee, I just broke out of the brig, I think it’s a little late to be worried about my career now. Besides, I’m not missing out on this little adventure for anything. And you might need me. I mean, have either of you actually read the Scriptures recently?”

Lee and Laura glanced at each other and shrugged. “She has a point, Captain,” Laura said.

Without waiting for his response, Kara moved to the open cockpit and deliberately sat herself in the pilot’s seat. With a sigh, Lee swallowed his irritation, swung the hatch door closed and gave the wheel lock a hard spin. Glancing over to see that Laura was settled in toward the back of the ship, he went to join Kara in the cockpit, sliding into the co-pilot’s seat without a word.

Kara radioed up to Dee in CIC. “Dee, we’re ready to go. Can you get us out of here?”

“Yep, you’re cleared for launch.” The petty officer’s voice was much quieter than usual. She was obviously trying not to be overheard. “Don’t worry, Gaeta and I have got you covered. The coordinates for the Raptor crash site has been programmed into your ship’s computer if you want to use that as a reference point. Good luck.”

“Thanks, Dee, you too.”

Kara flashed a quick thumb’s up sign at one of the ground crewmen, who nodded and darted off. Minutes later, they felt the hydraulic platform begin to lift them up to the flight deck directly above them. Once the platform was locked into place in the floor of the flight deck, Kara began the pre-launch procedures. Although still angry with each other, she and Lee moved through the long-memorized check list quickly and efficiently. Looking up and seeing that the pod’s doors were opening, she ignited the engines and released the magnetic locks in the landing struts, which secured the ship to the deck. Giving a short burst on the vertical thrusters, the ship lifted from the deck. Engaging the engines, they sped out of the landing pod and into the open space beyond.

Waiting only long enough to move them clear of the Galactica, Kara spun up the FTL drive and jumped them to the planet. Seconds later, they emerged from their jump, with the beautiful sight of the blue and white sphere of Kobol looming large in their viewscreen. Programming the autopilot to follow the pre-set coordinates to the crash site, Kara activated it and turned to face Lee.

“Okay, I have had just about enough of your crap. What is up your ass, Lee?” Her voice was tight with her suppressed emotions, but she kept it pitched low so she would not be overheard by the president in the rear of the ship. “Is this about Baltar? Are you still pissed at me for sleeping with him? I apologized for that. What more do you want from me? It’s not like it’s even any of your business.”

“No, you’re right; it isn’t any of my business. But, you know, I can’t help wondering, considering your history... Did you screw around on Zac?”

Kara’s jaw dropped. “How dare you?” she whispered.

“Oh please, Kara, that pedestal is a little too high for you, don’t you think? You forget how well I know you. Answer the question!”

“No,” she breathed, barely choking the word out. “Do you even believe me?”

“No, not really,” he said softly. Standing, he left the cockpit to join the president in the passenger area.

He had deliberately chosen to sit several seats away from Laura, but as soon as he had settled into his seat, she moved to sit beside him. “Is everything alright? Is there something I should know about?” she asked quietly.

Lee sighed, he and Kara had tried to keep their voices low, but obviously Laura had overheard enough to know there was a great deal of tension between the two pilots. “No, sir, everything is fine,” he said, with what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

“Are you sure? You and Lt. Thrace don’t seem very happy with each other. Please tell me this doesn’t have anything to do with me.”

“No, no, sir, it has nothing to do with you.”

“That’s good. I need all the support I can get and, at the moment, the two of you are the only allies I have. I need the two of you to be strong for me.”

Feeling appropriately chastened, Lee said, “Yes, sir, understood.”

“Thank you,” Laura whispered and reached over to squeeze his hand.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maneuvering the ship expertly, Kara set it down close to the site of the downed Raptor. There was a second Raptor at the site as well and as the three approached, they could see a couple of stretchers being loaded into this ship. Chief Tyrol met them, as they walked up.

“Since when do we have a Caprican mini-bus as part of the fleet?” he asked by way of greeting.

“It’s a long story, Chief,” Kara said. “I’ll tell you all about it later.”

“Oh, I can’t wait, this ought to be good.”

“It’s good to see that you’re alright, Chief,” Lee said.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Were there any casualties?” Laura asked.

“Uh, thankfully, no, although there were a couple of serious injuries... Uh, with all due respect, why are you here, Madam President?”

“The president has business here,” Lee said mysteriously, his tone indicating that the chief should not inquire further.

“Okay, sure, whatever.”

“Where is Dr. Baltar?” Laura asked, looking around at the gathered survivors. “Has he already returned to the Galactica?”

“Uh, no, sir, we’re not sure where the doctor is.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, he was here initially and he seemed to be relatively unhurt, but when we decided to try and move to a more secure location, we discovered that he was gone. He must have wandered off during all the confusion. I’m sorry, sir. We should have kept a closer eye on him.”

“It’s alright, Chief, it’s not your fault. I’m sure you had enough to worry about.”

“By the way,” Lee spoke up, “where’s Crashdown? Shouldn’t he be in charge of the evacuation?”

“Uh, yes sir, he’s with the wounded, making sure they get loaded in alright.”

The captain nodded. “Well, do let him know we’re here. We may be down here for a while. Have you seen any sign of the Cylons?”

“No sir, we haven’t.”

“That’s good. Alright then, carry on, Chief. We’ll keep an eye out for Dr. Baltar.”

Giving the three a brief salute, Tyrol returned to helping with the wounded. Lee and Kara turned to look expectantly at Laura. “Where to now?” Lee asked.

Laura looked around for a moment, hoping to see some sort of a clue as to which direction they should go. Off in the distance, toward the north, she thought she could see the top of a white dome peaking just above a rise in the terrain.

“That way,” she said, gesturing toward the dome.

Lee and Kara exchanged glances. “Alright let’s go, we’re going to start losing light soon,” Lee said.

Chapter 4

“You know, I really should get back to the others. They might be looking for me,” Gaius said.

“Don’t concern yourself about them. They have enough to worry about with all their wounded. They haven’t even noticed your absence yet,” the blonde replied.

“Oh, fine,” he said, a bit petulantly.

She smiled at him indulgently. “Don’t worry about it, Gaius. You don’t want to be with them anyway. You need to be here when all the action starts.”

“Action? Wh-what action? ...Are there Cylons on the planet?”

She continued to smile enigmatically.

“Well, I-I should go and warn the others...”

“That’s not necessary. They’re in no immediate danger. We’re not interested in them at the moment.”

“What are you interested in?”

“The Tomb of Athena.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The captured Raider sat on the starboard side landing pod. At the signal from CIC, Starbuck would launch from here, as the Raider did not fit in the Viper launch tubes. It made things a little trickier, but it was nothing she couldn’t handle. She had to wait until the Vipers engaged the incoming Raiders, so that she could ‘sneak’ into the furball unnoticed by the other Raiders. Her boy had been tagged with a small, wireless transmitter, which would send out a scrambled signal to the Vipers indicating that she was the friendly. Hopefully the Cylons wouldn’t pick up the signal as well.

What was taking so long? she fumed. Gods, she hated waiting. She was not a patient person at the best of times, she was definitely not when her friends were out there in the thick of it and she was stuck here, waiting for the go ahead.

She also hated not being in control. She knew that was the main problem she had with this plan; it wasn’t hers. Despite her objections to Lee, she knew perfectly well that with any plan, there was a certain amount of variables and it was these variables that defined the risk level. Kara was by no means afraid of taking risks, but she preferred to take them on her own terms. These were Lee’s terms.

She had known Lee Adama for a long time. They had gone through Flight Indoctrination, Basic Flight and Viper Training together. She felt she knew his strengths and weaknesses quite well. He was a strong planner and a good leader. He was efficient, competent, intelligent, and logical... Damn, almost sounds like Cylon, she thought, and that was exactly why she doubted his ability to outwit the Cylons. He simply thought too much like them. He was also rigid, idealistic, and self-righteous.

And while she hadn’t really seen him in the past two years, she found it very difficult to imagine that he had changed that drastically in that time. This plan was risky and untried. It was not what she would have expected from Lee, so either he had come up with the plan by working well outside of his normal comfort zone, or she had completely misjudged him. Neither thought made her feel much confidence.

At last Dee’s voice came over her earpiece, clearing her for launch. The Galactica was positioned so that her starboard side was turned away from the Basestar, so that when Kara launched, she would have some ‘cover’. As she did, she heard Dee call out over their scrambled frequency, “Apollo, the cat is outta the bag. Repeat, the cat is outta the bag.”

As Starbuck brought her Raider out from beneath the Galactica’s bulk, she saw the furball straight ahead of her. Deciding to keep her ship low, she hoped to slip in underneath the thickest part of the action and sidle in close to the Basestar unobserved.

Approaching the action, her instrument panel flashed a warning a couple of times, telling her that she had been ‘painted’ by some of the Vipers, but since she hadn’t been shot at, it was clear that her wireless transmitter seemed to be doing its job. Well, that was one less thing to worry about. She was drawing closer to the Basestar now and she moved her right hand to hover over the control which would release the four homemade E-bombs off her wings.

Suddenly her instrument panel began lighting up, as a strange series of symbols flashed across her computer screen and a complex series of clicks and tones erupted from the Cylon transponder. Checking her display, she saw that another Raider had parked itself on her tail and was apparently trying to communicate with her.

“Damn, how do you say ‘frak off’ in Cylon?” she wondered aloud, maneuvering her ship to try and shake the Raider off her.

It stayed glued to her tail, although it did not open fire. The high pitched beeps and tones continued to issue from the transponder. Evidently the Raider was more confused than alarmed by her apparently unusual behavior. Jinking erratically a few more times, she abruptly poured on the speed, leaving the other Raider behind as it was still attempting to duplicate her previous maneuver.

Deciding to forgo any further attempts at deception, Starbuck simply sped full throttle towards the looming Basestar. As she came within weapons range, a new set of tones came from the transponder, lower pitched and somehow more authoritative-sounding. She decided it must be the Basestar trying to communicate with her now.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Starbuck mumbled to herself. “Translate this!”

Punching the launch code into her computer, she released her four E-bombs directly into the heart of the Cylon ship. With her wings now clean, she was lighter and even more maneuverable. Rolling to her right, she tumbled away from the Basestar and hauled ass out its weapons range. Once at reasonably safe distance, she paused to watch what happened.

With the impact of the bombs, flashes of light began erupting all along the ship’s dark hull, radiating outward from the points of impact. Over the scrambled wireless frequency, she heard Dee call out,” Starbuck has drawn first blood! Apollo, you are a go! You are a go!”

Just as Apollo had predicted, once the Basestar took the hits, many of the Raiders seemed to become somewhat disoriented. Others began to drop back to defend their wounded ship. Moving in, the Vipers picked off the confused Raiders and ignored the retreating ones, to unload their own bombs. The Raptors moved in behind the Vipers and added their full payloads as well.

“Good work everybody!” Apollo’s voice came over the wireless, “Now, let’s back off and give this thing some room to thrash.”

As the Vipers moved to join her, Starbuck turned her ship to watch the fireworks. More and more flashes of blue light were erupting on the Basestar’s hull. All at once there was a brilliant flash of light and the entire ship went black. The Raiders still flocked around it also went black and began drifting lifelessly; bumping into each other and the Basestar as they apparently lost all power.

Hmm, Starbuck thought, interesting... it didn’t blow up. It just sort of... died. Oh well, it was good to know that Lee wasn’t right about everything on this mission.

“Okay, that was kind of anti-climactic,” Apollo said over the wireless, his voice sounding slightly disappointed. “Alright, all Raptors, buster back to the Galactica. All Vipers, with me. Let’s make sure this thing is good and dead. Give it everything you’ve got.”

Starbuck joined the Vipers as they opened fire on the Basestar and the remaining, drifting Raiders. This time they were rewarded with a large and satisfying ball of light as the Cylon ship exploded.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Sir, the Basestar has been destroyed,” Gaeta reported to the Colonel, his grin barely concealed.

A cheer went up among the bridge’s crew, but it was quickly stifled by Tigh. “Thank you, Mr. Gaeta,” he said loudly. “Dee, bring the Vipers home.”

“Aye sir.”

“Mr. Gaeta, please have a security team meet me on the hangar deck.”

“Sir?”

“You heard me, Mr. Gaeta,” Tigh said firmly. “I think Lt. Starbuck and Capt. Apollo have had a long enough parole, don’t you? You have the deck,” he added as he strode out of CIC.

“Yes sir,” Gaeta said quietly, although the XO was already out of earshot. The lieutenant glanced around at the other stunned and apprehensive faces as he went to carry out his orders.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As CAG, Lee was the last pilot to land on the Galactica. Considering the success of the mission, he was expecting an exuberant reception when he raised the canopy of his Viper. Instead, he was greeted by a tense silence and the ground crewmen, who hurried forward to help him removed his helmet and collar, seemed anxious and ill at ease. None of them would meet his eyes.

Confused, he glanced around and saw Starbuck standing in the center of the hangar bay. Her hands were handcuffed in front of her. Col. Tigh stood on one side of her and a Marine on the other. Climbing out of the cockpit, Lee found another Marine waiting for him at the bottom of the ladder. Lee groaned inwardly, but said nothing. Moving to stand in front of the man, he extended his hands out, wrists together. This was starting to become a disturbing regularity.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the corporal mumbled as he put the cuffs on the captain. “For what it’s worth, a lot of us think the colonel’s out of line.”

Lee looked up sharply at the man, but made no comment. Glancing around at the gathered pilots and ground crews, he saw many angry expressions. It seemed that at least in this instance, the other pilots were siding with him and Starbuck. The Marine gestured toward the colonel and Lee headed in his direction.

“Now that our little crisis is over with, the two of you are no longer needed,” Tigh said. “You will be returned to the brig.”

“But sir, the Cylons still know our location. They could return at any time,” Lee pointed out.

“I’m aware of that, Captain. I have received word from one of the Raptors searching the planet. They believe they may have spotted the wreckage of the downed Raptor. We will begin evacuating the survivors as quickly as possible and then we will jump the fleet to a new location.”

“But sir, we can’t just abandon the planet,” Kara spoke up. “What about the Arrow?”

“Thanks to you, we can’t stay here, Lieutenant. The Cylons are all over this sector and the planet. It wouldn’t be safe to try and do anything down there. No, we get our people back and we get the hell out of here... Corporal, please escort these two back to the brig.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“I am so sorry that I got the two of you involved in all of this,” Laura said quietly. “It appears that I did so for no reason. Apparently Col. Tigh is not going to relent on his stance, so both of your mutinous actions were for nothing.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Madam President,” Lee said. “We each made our own decisions.” He noted that Kara remained conspicuously silent.

Now that the second cell, that had previously housed Sharon, was empty, Lee had been placed in it, while Kara had been placed in the cell with Laura. The two officers had quickly gotten the president caught up on what had been happening. They had been in the cells for almost two hours and already Kara was ready to climb the walls. She wasn’t sure how long Tigh intended to keep them here, but she was sure it was going to be too long for her, hell, it already was.

“Well, we now know how to find Kobol,” Laura pointed out, trying to inject some hope for the younger people. “Perhaps when the commander regains consciousness, he’ll be able to talk some sense into Col. Tigh and we can come back.”

“Yeah, if my father regains consciousness,” Lee amended darkly.

“Don’t talk like that,” Laura said quickly, reaching a hand through the bars that separated the two cells, to squeeze Lee’s shoulder. “Your father will be alright. I’m sure of it.”

Lee flashed her a wan, but grateful, smile. Kara saw this and felt her stomach clench. “Your dad’s gonna pull through, Lee,” she said. “He’s tough. He’s a fighter.”

The arrival of a visitor for the president interrupted the conversation. Billy entered the holding area carrying a small, leather case. The guard stationed at the door stopped the young man and asked what was in the case.

“Oh, uh, it’s the president’s medication. She has very bad allergies,” Billy said. He gave the guard a long and significant look.

“Right. Okay, carry on,” the guard responded returning to her paperwork.

Immediately Lee was suspicious. He glanced over at Kara and saw that she had also caught the mistake. Why hadn’t the guard asked to look inside the case? That was standard procedure. He watched with interest as the young aide approached the president’s cell.

“Madam President, I brought your allergy medication,” Billy said, handing the case through the bars.

“Thank you, Billy,” Laura said gratefully. She was several hours overdue for her dose of the Komala Extract. But as she opened the case and looked inside, she found, not only the bottle of extract, but a small handgun as well.

Keeping her face carefully neutral, she removed the plastic bottle, slipped it into the pocket of her suit jacket and discreetly passed the case through the bars to Capt. Apollo, who had moved to lean casually against the bars, slightly behind her. Billy had intelligently placed his body directly in front of Laura, so that he could act as a screen for her activities. Guessing what was in the case, Lee quickly stashed it away. He and Kara had both already pulled off the top portions of their flight suits, which they simply let drape over their belts, and now he tucked the case under these folds.

Moving casually, he went to the rear of his cell, carefully keeping his back to the guard and the surveillance camera mounted on the wall above her head. He glanced over at Kara again and gave her a slight nod. She stood also and moved to the front of her cell, to stand beside the president. Lee pulled the gun from the case and tucked it behind his belt, under the fold of his flight suit. Turning around again, he joined the other two at the front of the cells.

“You ready to play hostage, Billy?” the captain asked the younger man in a very low voice.

“Yes sir, although I’m not sure it’ll be necessary.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I told Dee about the Arrow of Apollo and the president’s plan to use to try to use it to find the way to Earth. Uh, I didn’t mention your illness, Ma’am,” he added quickly. “Anyway, she told some other people... It’s all over the ship now and most of the crews are supporting you, Madam President. They want you to get down to Kobol.”

“Did Dee get you the gun?” Lee asked quietly.

Billy nodded.

“You do realize that you two just organized a full-scale mutiny?”

The young aide swallowed nervously. “Yes sir, I know.”

“Well done... Okay, let’s do this.”

Without any further warning, Lee reached through the bars and grabbed the younger man around the shoulders and pinned him back against the bars. Pulling the gun from his belt, he thrust it against Billy’s temple. It was an awkward stance for both men, as Billy was several inches taller than Lee.

“Guard!” Lee called out.

When the young woman looked up, her ‘startled’ reaction was so obviously feigned that Lee knew immediately that she was in on the plan. It occurred to him then that she had only come on duty about an hour earlier.

“Open the cells,” He ordered.

The young woman fumbled in her pockets for the key which unlocked the drawer of her desk. From this, she produced the keys which unlocked the cells. Moving around her desk, she unlocked the door to Kara and Laura’s cell first.

As soon as the two women were freed, Lee said, “Kara, disarm her.”

Kara moved quickly to obey, taking the sidearm from the holster at the other woman’s hip. With Kara now covering the guard with her own weapon, Lee could release Billy and allow the woman to unlock his cell. Once they were all free, they put the guard in Lee’s cell and locked her in. She at least would have an excuse for her failure to stop the prisoners from escaping. The camera would back up her story. She might get reprimanded for being negligent, but she wouldn’t be accused of mutiny. Moving to the far end of the room, away from the guard and out of sight of the camera, the group continued to make their plans.

“Dee has already made arrangements with the ground crew on duty for there to be a ship ready for you,” Billy informed the others. “They couldn’t get a Raptor or a shuttle ready without drawing some unwanted attention, so they’ve gotten that little transport that you brought from Caprica ready.” He inclined his head toward Kara as he said this.

“But what about the Arrow of Apollo?” Laura asked. “How do we find it and get it?”

“Don’t worry; it’s already been taken care of. It’s on the transport waiting for you. It was in the colonel’s quarters. I went there and, um, got it from his wife.” At this last statement, Billy’s face turned a light shade of pink.

“Oh? And how did you manage that?” Laura asked pointedly.

“You don’t want to know,” he said quickly as the color of his face deepened to bright red.

“You’re right, I probably don’t.”

As they made their way to the hangar deck, Lee kept Billy close beside him, in case they needed to use him as a ‘hostage’ again. But as the younger man had predicted, it proved unnecessary. Most of the people they passed ignored the small group all together. Others simply threw them mildly curious glances. No one tried to stop them the entire way to the hangar deck and when they arrived, they found the Caprican transport ready and waiting to be lifted up to the flight deck above them. No one said a word to them as they quickly boarded, leaving Billy behind.

The Arrow of Apollo was waiting for the president, just as Billy had promised, lying on one of the passenger seats. She picked it up almost lovingly and held it in both of her hands. She thought she could almost feel the power of all the past ages pulsing through the shaft.

Before he closed the airlock door of the ship, Lee turned to Kara saying, “Listen, there’s no reason for you to come along. You’ve already been AWOL once this week, there’s no reason to make a second time. I think even I can handle flying this thing, so why don’t you sit this one out.”

“Lee, I just broke out of the brig, I think it’s a little late to be worried about my career now. Besides, I’m not missing out on this little adventure for anything. And you might need me. I mean, have either of you actually read the Scriptures recently?”

Lee and Laura glanced at each other and shrugged. “She has a point, Captain,” Laura said.

Without waiting for his response, Kara moved to the open cockpit and deliberately sat herself in the pilot’s seat. With a sigh, Lee swallowed his irritation, swung the hatch door closed and gave the wheel lock a hard spin. Glancing over to see that Laura was settled in toward the back of the ship, he went to join Kara in the cockpit, sliding into the co-pilot’s seat without a word.

Kara radioed up to Dee in CIC. “Dee, we’re ready to go. Can you get us out of here?”

“Yep, you’re cleared for launch.” The petty officer’s voice was much quieter than usual. She was obviously trying not to be overheard. “Don’t worry, Gaeta and I have got you covered. The coordinates for the Raptor crash site has been programmed into your ship’s computer if you want to use that as a reference point. Good luck.”

“Thanks, Dee, you too.”

Kara flashed a quick thumb’s up sign at one of the ground crewmen, who nodded and darted off. Minutes later, they felt the hydraulic platform begin to lift them up to the flight deck directly above them. Once the platform was locked into place in the floor of the flight deck, Kara began the pre-launch procedures. Although still angry with each other, she and Lee moved through the long-memorized check list quickly and efficiently. Looking up and seeing that the pod’s doors were opening, she ignited the engines and released the magnetic locks in the landing struts, which secured the ship to the deck. Giving a short burst on the vertical thrusters, the ship lifted from the deck. Engaging the engines, they sped out of the landing pod and into the open space beyond.

Waiting only long enough to move them clear of the Galactica, Kara spun up the FTL drive and jumped them to the planet. Seconds later, they emerged from their jump, with the beautiful sight of the blue and white sphere of Kobol looming large in their viewscreen. Programming the autopilot to follow the pre-set coordinates to the crash site, Kara activated it and turned to face Lee.

“Okay, I have had just about enough of your crap. What is up your ass, Lee?” Her voice was tight with her suppressed emotions, but she kept it pitched low so she would not be overheard by the president in the rear of the ship. “Is this about Baltar? Are you still pissed at me for sleeping with him? I apologized for that. What more do you want from me? It’s not like it’s even any of your business.”

“No, you’re right; it isn’t any of my business. But, you know, I can’t help wondering, considering your history... Did you screw around on Zac?”

Kara’s jaw dropped. “How dare you?” she whispered.

“Oh please, Kara, that pedestal is a little too high for you, don’t you think? You forget how well I know you. Answer the question!”

“No,” she breathed, barely choking the word out. “Do you even believe me?”

“No, not really,” he said softly. Standing, he left the cockpit to join the president in the passenger area.

He had deliberately chosen to sit several seats away from Laura, but as soon as he had settled into his seat, she moved to sit beside him. “Is everything alright? Is there something I should know about?” she asked quietly.

Lee sighed, he and Kara had tried to keep their voices low, but obviously Laura had overheard enough to know there was a great deal of tension between the two pilots. “No, sir, everything is fine,” he said, with what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

“Are you sure? You and Lt. Thrace don’t seem very happy with each other. Please tell me this doesn’t have anything to do with me.”

“No, no, sir, it has nothing to do with you.”

“That’s good. I need all the support I can get and, at the moment, the two of you are the only allies I have. I need the two of you to be strong for me.”

Feeling appropriately chastened, Lee said, “Yes, sir, understood.”

“Thank you,” Laura whispered and reached over to squeeze his hand.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Maneuvering the ship expertly, Kara set it down close to the site of the downed Raptor. There was a second Raptor at the site as well and as the three approached, they could see a couple of stretchers being loaded into this ship. Chief Tyrol met them, as they walked up.

“Since when do we have a Caprican mini-bus as part of the fleet?” he asked by way of greeting.

“It’s a long story, Chief,” Kara said. “I’ll tell you all about it later.”

“Oh, I can’t wait, this ought to be good.”

“It’s good to see that you’re alright, Chief,” Lee said.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Were there any casualties?” Laura asked.

“Uh, thankfully, no, although there were a couple of serious injuries... Uh, with all due respect, why are you here, Madam President?”

“The president has business here,” Lee said mysteriously, his tone indicating that the chief should not inquire further.

“Okay, sure, whatever.”

“Where is Dr. Baltar?” Laura asked, looking around at the gathered survivors. “Has he already returned to the Galactica?”

“Uh, no, sir, we’re not sure where the doctor is.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, he was here initially and he seemed to be relatively unhurt, but when we decided to try and move to a more secure location, we discovered that he was gone. He must have wandered off during all the confusion. I’m sorry, sir. We should have kept a closer eye on him.”

“It’s alright, Chief, it’s not your fault. I’m sure you had enough to worry about.”

“By the way,” Lee spoke up, “where’s Crashdown? Shouldn’t he be in charge of the evacuation?”

“Uh, yes sir, he’s with the wounded, making sure they get loaded in alright.”

The captain nodded. “Well, do let him know we’re here. We may be down here for a while. Have you seen any sign of the Cylons?”

“No sir, we haven’t.”

“That’s good. Alright then, carry on, Chief. We’ll keep an eye out for Dr. Baltar.”

Giving the three a brief salute, Tyrol returned to helping with the wounded. Lee and Kara turned to look expectantly at Laura. “Where to now?” Lee asked.

Laura looked around for a moment, hoping to see some sort of a clue as to which direction they should go. Off in the distance, toward the north, she thought she could see the top of a white dome peaking just above a rise in the terrain.

“That way,” she said, gesturing toward the dome.

Lee and Kara exchanged glances. “Alright let’s go, we’re going to start losing light soon,” Lee said.

Chapter 5

I celebrate the powers of Pallas Athena, the protectress of the city:

Dread, as Ares, She busies Herself with the works of war,

With the sack of cities, with the battle-cry and with the combats.

It is She also who saves the fighters that go to war and come back alive.

Hail, Goddess, give us good fortune and happiness!

Homeric Hymn 11 to Athena

translated by Roy George

Laura felt as if she was walking through a long recurrent dream or, perhaps, a half-forgotten memory. The terrain around her was familiar, and yet, not, as though she was visiting a city she had once known intimately, but had been away from for a very long time. She kept seeing landmarks and ruins that she knew she should recognize, but time and subsequent decay had wrought such changes that she wasn’t sure. At the same time, she kept seeing flashes at the corners of her eyes, of things as they had been. She would catch brief glimpses of buildings erect and intact, but when she turned her head to look at them fully, she would see only more ruins. Eventually she gave in and simply allowed her peripheral vision to guide her.

She and the two pilots had been walking for nearly an hour and, so far, neither of the two younger people had questioned her directions. Laura was touched by their faith in her, particularly Lee’s, as he had not shown himself to be especially religiously inclined. She was determined not to let these two down. They had both risked their lives and their careers to back her up, she would not fail them.

The sun was beginning to sink toward the horizon off to their right, casting long, distorted shadows across their path. As the light faded the overlaying ‘memories’ became stronger and more distinct. Laura became more confident of her sense of direction. She picked up their pace.

Abruptly she came to a halt. Directly in front of them, glowing in the dying light with an almost otherworldly brilliance was the white, domed Forum of the Opera House. They had reached the heart of the ancient City of the Gods. Standing and staring at the ghostly building, Laura thought she caught a wisp of music coming from within. This brief tendril was soft and slow, a waltz perhaps, and seemed to contain an infinite sadness. She thought she recognized the fragment, but just couldn’t quite seem to remember the rest of the melody. It continued to haunt her thoughts long after it had died in her ears.

“Madam President?”

She was pulled from her reverie by Capt. Apollo’s gentle inquiry. She glanced at him for a moment and when she looked back at the Opera House, it was silent and ruined once more. The vision was gone. She gave her head a slight shake, bringing herself back fully to the present.

“Yes, Captain?” she asked.

“Are we there? Is this what we’re looking for?” he asked, gesturing to the ruins before them.

“No, but we’re very close.”

As the small group moved on toward the north, a shadowy figure emerged stealthily from behind a large section of a collapsed column. Dr. Gaius Baltar watched as his three fellow travelers moved on down the cracked and weed covered roadway. He turned his head to quietly address his ever-present blonde companion.

“Is there a reason why you wanted me to hide from them?”

“Yes, you need to follow them, but we don’t want them to know,” the blonde replied.

“Why?”

“We don’t want you to be in any danger later on.”

“Danger? I see... And why must I follow them?”

“They’re about to find the way to Earth. We need to be there when they do.”

“Why, are you going to try and stop them from finding it?” Baltar asked, slightly apprehensive.

“No, of course not, we want you to find Earth.”

“Y-you do? Why?”

“We want to establish ourselves as the dominate species in the entire universe. How can we do that knowing there are more Humans on this Earth?”

“So, you want us to lead you to Earth, so that you can destroy it just like you did the Colonies.”

She gazed at him with a fond and beautiful smile. She lightly stroked his cheek with an elegant hand. “This time, the life that begins on Kobol will not be Human.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

They walked for another 15 minutes or so and found themselves in a large, open area that was probably some kind of a square. In the center of this square was a large tree, which stood some 50 feet tall. It had obviously died centuries ago and was now completely petrified. Its bare, twisted and gnarled branches reached out like claws to rake at the darkening sky.

As Laura stood looking at it, it seemed to suddenly come back to life. Green shoots sprouted on the limbs and rapidly grew before her eyes into thin, feather-shaped leaves of a grayish-green color. Tiny, cream-colored flowers burst forth, filling the square with their sweet fragrance. Small, dark green fruits began to grow. When they had grown to about the size of a grape, they began to darken in color to a deep, purplish-black... It was an olive tree.

Allowing her gaze to drift past the tree, she saw a large, squat, square, stone building, with rows of columns supporting a triangular-shaped roof. Her vision wavered for a moment and blinking rapidly a few times, she saw the structure as it was now, its roof partially collapsed and most of the columns crumbling.

Gesturing to these ruins, she said, “That’s it, the Tomb of Athena.”

They glanced at each other for a moment before heading around the tree, toward the ruin Laura had indicated. They carefully picked their way up the steep, broken steps which led to the columned porch. When Laura stumbled momentarily in her low-heeled, but still inappropriate, pumps, Lee quickly dropped back to give her a hand. Already waiting at the top, Kara watched this with impatient irritation.

“Thank you, Captain,” Laura whispered, out of breath and leaning slightly on his supporting arm, as they too, reached the top of the stairs.

“Do you need to rest for a minute?” he asked, in some concern.

“No, no, I’m fine. Let’s just keep moving.”

Turning back to the building, they found a wide, gaping doorway. Whatever had once served as a door was long gone, either rotted away completely, or crumbled to dust. They stepped over the threshold carefully. Inside, huge chunks of stone from the ceiling blocked their path and it took several minutes before they found a way around them. And even then, once again, Lee had to help Laura over some of the larger stones.

On the far side of this heap of stones, they found a stone stairway leading downward into deep shadow. As none of them had thought to bring a flashlight, they had no choice but to proceed in the dark. Drawing his sidearm, Lee gestured for Kara to do the same. He felt his way cautiously down the steps in the lead. Kara brought up the rear, with the unarmed president between the two pilots.

After several tense minutes, Lee reached the bottom of the stairs. Calling over his shoulder to the women behind him, he let them know. There was nothing but blackness all around him. Ordering the two women to remain motionless at the bottom of the stairs, he extended his empty left hand out in front of him and inched to the side, groping blindly for a wall. He felt his fingertips brush against metal. Reaching more confidently, he pressed his palm against the smooth, cool surface and slid it forward.

As his hand moved along the wall, he became aware of a soft humming sound. He quickly jerked his hand back. But along with the humming sound, light began to filter slowly in around them, gradually strengthening to illuminate a long corridor. The light seemed to be coming from nowhere in particular. There was no visible source of the light, as if the walls themselves were glowing with a soft, white light.

“Whoa,” Kara exclaimed softly, looking around her. “What did you do?”

“I have no idea,” Lee answered, equally awed. Peering at the wall, he could find no switch or button which would seem to activate the light.

Only Laura did not seem particularly impressed. “Let’s keep moving,” she urged.

They continued down the long corridor to where it dead-ended into another. They now had to make a choice, right or left. Both pilots turned to the president. She had led them accurately so far, neither saw any need to change things now. Very much aware of their eyes upon her, Laura looked down both branches of the new corridor. Both looked very much the same.

“This way,” she said, at last, gesturing to the left. She wasn’t sure why she had chosen this direction. It had just seemed... right.

They had only walked down this new corridor for a few minutes before it turned sharply to the left again. The passage they now faced was unlit and dark with shadows. All three stopped.

“Okay, Lee, do your thing,” Kara said.

“What?”

“You know, make the lights come on.”

“I didn’t really do anything. I just touched the wall.” As he spoke, he ran his left hand along the nearest wall.

Once again, at his touch, light began to slowly fill the passage. But this time, it did not illuminate blank walls. The walls of this corridor were covered with intricate murals, which, lit from within by the mysterious light, seemed almost as vividly alive as photographs.

“Wow,” Kara whispered.

As the three moved slowly down the corridor, they examined the incredibly life-like paintings. The subject matter seemed to be a pictorial history of the planet Kobol. They saw the arrival of the Gods on the planet as they descended from the Heavens within shining ‘chariots’ to dwell among the people of Kobol. Lee moved closer to the wall, examining the strange conveyances of the Gods. He had never seen this event from the Scriptures depicted in this manner. The vehicles of the Gods were usually drawn to look more like amorphous, glittering clouds. Here, they were painted to look like huge, floating, crystalline structures.

“I think these are spaceships,” he said softly, indicating the crystal shapes.

“No,” Kara said. “I’ve heard that theory before too. Those are just a representation of how the Gods traveled. It’s metaphoric. They’re not ships.”

“Look, they’re coming from the stars,” Lee insisted. “I think they are spaceships... Could this be showing that the Lords of Kobol... were aliens?”

“Lee, that’s blasphemy!”

“Or truth...”

“That’s enough!” Laura said quickly before Kara could voice her outrage. The president had an uncomfortable feeling that Lee was closer to the truth than any of them realized and she truly didn’t want to dwell on that thought too much at this time. “We don’t have time for this. We need to keep moving.”

They continued down the corridor in silence. The paintings continued as well, now showing images of the Lords among the people, sharing their divine gifts and raising the people from their ignorance. The Gods were easily identifiable by their tall stature and pale, flowing robes. This was how they were often shown in the Scriptures, as tall, beautiful Humans. But in these paintings they seemed to look... somehow less Human.

Further down the passage, the paintings began to focus more and more on the figure of Athena, showing her leading the people in some just conflict, which were sometimes inevitable in any culture’s history. She was shown standing in judgment of some trial and teaching domestic arts to the people. But always she was shown as the beautiful, but stern, Goddess in her glory.

Abruptly the images stopped. They had been so absorbed with the murals that, without even realizing it, they had come to the end of the passage. A large door, made of the same softly glowing metal as the walls stood closed, blocking any further progress. The image of a large owl was engraved on the door.

“There’s no handle on the door,” Lee pointed out, as they moved closer. “How do we get in?”

“Maybe it works the same way as the lights,” Kara suggested. “Lee, put your hand on it.”

The captain stepped forward and pressed his palm against the door, at about the spot where a handle should be. Nothing happened. He glanced back at the two women with a shrug.

“Why don’t you try, Madam President?” Kara said. “After all, you’re the prophet.”

Feeling a little apprehensive, Laura duplicated Lee’s movements. With a soft rush of escaping air, the door slid silently back into an invisible pocket of the door jamb. Laura led the way across the threshold. As she stepped into the darkness beyond, like the previous passages, light began to slowly fill the room.

The room was very large, hexagonally-shaped, with a domed ceiling, painted black. The floor was covered with numbers carved into the metal in disconcertingly familiar patterns. But no one really dwelled on this as their eyes were drawn to the back of the room, opposite the door, where an elaborately carved marble sarcophagus rested on a stone slab. Beside the coffin was a series of shelves set into the wall. Scrolls, books, and various other items filled these shelves.

While Laura went to examine the bookcase, the two pilots moved to stand beside the sarcophagus. The lid was made of a thick, transparent material and the body within the coffin was clearly visible. Despite having lain here for centuries, it was amazingly well preserved. The skin was a pale, grayish color and the cheeks were quite sunken, but the facial features were still distinguishable, as was the pale blonde hair color. The dead female lay quite composed on a bed of white silk, her surprisingly fully fleshed body, artfully draped in more white silk. Her hands lay folded neatly on her stomach. She almost appeared to be sleeping. Engraved in ancient script across the stone slab, was the name ‘Pallas Athena’.

“So, how does a God die, Kara?” Lee asked pointedly. “Aren’t the Lords supposed to be immortal?”

“This is only Her physical shell. Her spirit has returned to the Heavens... Look at Her, Lee. It’s been centuries. She should be dust by now. At the very least, She should look a lot worse than this...”

“So? Maybe the Lords of Kobol, whoever they were, just had better embalming techniques.”

“Or maybe Her body is incorruptible. How do you explain The Prophecies, Lee? ‘Everything has happened before and will happen again’, and is. How do you explain the fact that we found Kobol? How do you explain the president’s visions?”

The captain had no response for any of these questions. Deliberately turning away from Lee, Kara knelt beside the coffin, bowed her head and began to pray quietly.

“Hear me, O Goddess, when to thee I pray,

With supplicating voice, both night and day,

And in my latest hour give peace and health,

Propitious times and necessary wealth,

And ever present be thy votaries aid,

O much implored, art’s parent, blue-eyed maid.”

“Captain,” Laura called softly, not wishing to disturb the other woman’s prayers. “I think I found something.”

Lee stepped around Kara and went to join the president in front of the shelves. She was holding an object which looked something like a child’s snowglobe. The base, which held the globe, was made of several hexagonal rings stacked together. The globe part was about three inches in diameter and held what looked like tiny, pinpoints of light, swirling around in some thick, dark liquid.

“What do you suppose it is?” she asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Well, there’s also this.” She indicated a large, hexagonal, flat disc, about 10 inches in diameter. It was made of a strange material with a faint, iridescent pattern which looked vaguely like fish scales. Engraved around the outer edge was a design of serpents. In the center of the disc was a gruesome engraving of a woman’s severed head. Her mouth was gaping in a hideous, silent scream and the top of her head was crowned with snakes instead of hair. But most disturbing of all, was her eyes. They were wide, vacant orbs that somehow seemed to convey complete malevolence, even in their lifeless state.

“I know what that is,” Kara whispered in awe, coming to stand beside the president. “That’s the Aegis.”

“The what?” Lee asked.

“The Aegis. The Scriptures only describe it as some sort of protective device which was given to Athena by her father Zeus. They don’t say how it’s supposed to be used or even what exactly it does.”

“Okay, well, that’s all very nice, but it doesn’t help us figure out what to do with the Arrow or how to find Earth,” Lee pointed out.

The three spread out, examining the room for any clue as to what they should do with the Arrow. Kara moved back to the sarcophagus, vaguely remembering that while she had knelt in her prayers, she had felt something quite rough under her knees. Looking at the spot again, she now noticed that there was a slot in the floor which appeared to be the exact same shape as the Arrow of Apollo.

“Madam President!” the pilot called out. “Over here.”

Lee and Laura both moved quickly to Kara’s side. Seeing the slot, which the younger woman pointed to, Laura knelt and placed the Arrow into it. It fit perfectly... but nothing happened. They all looked at each other. Lee gave an exasperated sigh. Looking at the Arrow in its slot, he noticed that it was pointing toward the center of the room. Turning to see where it was pointing, he saw a small, shallow indentation in the floor. Its hexagonal shape struck a familiar chord. Turning back to the president, he saw that she was still holding the globe device.

“May I see that?” he asked her.

Eyebrows raised with curiosity, she handed it to him. He took it to the indentation, knelt and fit the base into the depression... again, nothing happened. He stood and gave a shrug to the two women.

Moving to join him, a curious look on her face, Laura crouched and picked up the globe. Examining the base closer, she discovered that the different rings, which made up the base, each had a small notch on its side. Grasping the globe in one hand and the base in the other, she twisted. The rings each turned independently. Twisting each of them in turn, she arranged the notches so that they were all lined up vertically.

The strange liquid inside the globe began to glow, faintly at first, but growing rapidly in intensity. Taking the globe from Laura, Lee placed it back into the depression in the floor. The two were forced to step back from the brilliance of the light. All at once, all the light was projected upward, toward the black, domed ceiling and suddenly it was as if they stood in the middle of space. Stars sparkled all around them like diamonds and tiny planets seemed to hang within their reach. The three stood staring, transfixed, for several minutes, at the three-dimensional images which filled the entire room.

“Look, there are The Colonies,” Kara said softly, pointing towards a section of the room, where they saw the familiar cluster of twelve planets. “And there’s Kobol.” She pointed to another section which showed their current position.

When Lee had placed the starglobe into the depression, the floor had also begun to gradually glow, just as the walls in the corridors did, and now it had come up to full strength. The Arrow sat dark and shadowy in its slot, contrasting sharply with the glowing floor. It still seemed to be pointing toward something... but what? It was positioned directly below the image of Kobol and was pointing away from Kobol, and away from The Colonies...

“That must be the direction the Thirteenth Colony headed when they departed from Kobol,” Laura said, gesturing to the Arrow.

“Yeah, but how do we know exactly what direction that is?” Kara asked.

“Kara, look at the numbers,” Lee said softly.

She did and gasped. Not only was the floor softly glowing, but so were the numbers engraved in it and now Kara could see why they had seemed so familiar. “Plotting numbers! It’s a three-dimensional star chart! Quick, we need to plot the coordinates and write them down!”

She began fumbling frantically in the numerous pockets of her flight suit, looking for some scrap of paper and something to write with. Lee did the same.

“Damn, I’ve got nothing!” she swore.

“Same here,” Lee said.

“I’ve got a pen,” Laura said, producing it from the pocket of her suit jacket.

With a grateful smile, Lee took it and began the calculations in his head to plot the coordinates. Without the proper tools, it would only be a rough estimate, but it would give them the right direction. They didn’t need anything more specific at this point anyway. Pushing the left sleeve of his flight suit up, he wrote the numbers on the inner part of his forearm.

“Okay, so we know what direction they headed in, but where did they go from there?” Kara asked.

As though it had somehow heard her question and was responding to it, the images the starglobe was projecting changed. The stars seemed to move around them, as if they were actually traveling through space incredibly fast. It was a disorienting sensation and Laura began to feel dizzy. For a moment, she thought she might stumble, but she felt Apollo’s strong arm wrap around her waist and steady her. The two pilots didn’t seem to be as affected by the motion as she was.

When the stars finally became stationary once again, it was as if they had traveled innumerable light years. They were now in an entirely different and unfamiliar solar system. There was a cluster of nine planets rotating around a single sun. Glancing down at the floor, they saw that the Arrow was pointing at one of the planets closer toward the sun. It was a hazy, blue and white M-class. As though drawn by invisible wires, all three moved closer to stare at the 3-D image.

“Earth,” Laura whispered reverently.

“See Lee,” Kara said with a mischievous grin, “it’s all true.”

“Okay, so there’s an Earth. That doesn’t prove that the Lords were gods. They still could have been aliens.”

She sighed and rolled her eyes in exasperation, but she was in entirely too good a mood right now, to be truly annoyed with her skeptical fellow pilot. They had found Earth. They would one day rejoin their lost brothers on the other side of the universe.

The sound of a hastily suppressed gasp intruded into the moment and all three turned to see Gaius Baltar standing in the doorway of the room, looking like a rat caught in a trap. “Uh... h-hello,” he stammered nervously.

“Dr. Baltar, where have you been?” Laura asked.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“That’s everybody, isn’t it, Chief?” Crashdown asked. He and Tyrol had just finished getting the last of the wounded loaded onto the waiting Raptor.

“Well, Dr. Baltar is still missing, sir,” Tyrol said. “And shouldn’t we wait for Apollo, Starbuck and the president?”

“Did Apollo say we should wait for them?”

“Well, no sir, but we can’t leave without finding Dr. Baltar.”

“Aren’t they looking for him right now?”

“Apollo said they would keep an eye out for him, but they’re not actually looking for him. I’m not sure what they’re doing.”

At this news, the young junior grade lieutenant sighed and glanced around, as though expecting that he might just happen to spot the elusive scientist simply wandering around in plain sight of the Raptor. Every line of his body screamed of his desire to get off this planet. After a moment he turned back to Tyrol.

“You know, we really need to get the wounded back to the Galactica,” he said.

“Yes sir,” the Chief said diplomatically. The worst of the wounded, Specialist Socinus, had already been sent up in the first Raptor. The rest had only minor injuries and could wait until the doctor had been located. “Tell you what, sir, why don’t you escort the wounded back to the ship. I’ll stay here and look for the doc. I can catch a ride back with Apollo and Starbuck.”

“Uh, I don’t know, Chief. If anyone stays behind, it ought to be me. Besides I can’t leave you here alone,” Crashdown said.

“Oh, don’t worry about it, sir. I’ll be fine. I’ve got my sidearm.”

“I’ll stay with him, sir,” Cally said, walking up to join the men. She had been standing nearby and had overheard the discussion.

“You sure about that, Cally?” the chief asked.

“Yes sir, not a problem.”

Previously Tyrol might have questioned the girl’s suitability for this, but Cally had more than proven her true mettle on board the Astral Queen and the chief was not about to belittle that by not allowing her to make up her own mind. If she wanted to stay, then as far as he was concerned, she could stay. Crashdown, on the other hand, was very much aware that he was being shown up by a girl who was probably still in her late teens.

“I don’t know,” he said, visibly irritated. “I think I should stay.”

The chief knew there wasn’t anything he could do to stop the lieutenant if he insisted on staying, but Tyrol really didn’t want the younger man around. He had not proven himself to be particularly practical or resourceful in dealing with their earlier crisis. Tyrol would much prefer to get him off the planet and out of his hair.

As they stood, still discussing who should stay behind, Tyrol’s eyes were drawn toward the horizon by a flash of movement. Turning, he saw two Cylon Raiders heading in their direction.

“Go!” he yelled at the pilot. “Take off now, while you still can!”

He pushed Crashdown toward the Raptor, turned and grabbed Cally’s arm, dragging her off toward the Caprican transport. They took cover just inside the open doorway and peered out at the oncoming Raiders. The two Cylon ships streaked overhead, completely ignoring the two ships on the ground. The two mechanics continued to watch as the ships sped toward the north. Moments later, they dropped the bombs that had sat under their wings. The ground shook slightly as the bombs exploded.

Moments after the Cylons had disappeared from sight, the Raptor rose gracefully from the ground and headed back to the Galactica.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“I, uh, w-wandered away from the landing party and, I’m afraid, I... got lost,” Baltar stammered. He looked around nervously, as though seeking someone.

Before the others could question him any further, there was a sound like very loud thunder and the structure around them shuttered violently as if there had been an earthquake. If Capt. Apollo’s arm had not already been supporting her, Laura would have been pitched over. As it was, she and the pilot both still stumbled heavily. Lt. Thrace was not so lucky and she went down hard. Dr. Baltar, standing near the doorway, was just able to grab onto the frame and managed to stay upright.

“What the fra-?” Baltar started to ask, looking panicked.

“Raiders!” Lee said. “We need to get the hell out of here.”

Nodding, Laura bent to retrieve the starglobe. Twisting the rings on the base, she deactivated the hologram projection. Lee quickly went to get the Arrow of Apollo. Picking herself up from the floor, Kara glanced around to see if there was anything else they should take with them. Her eyes fell on the mysterious Aegis device still sitting on the shelf. Immediately, she crossed the room and picked it up. It was heavier than she had expected it to be, but she tucked it under her arm and turned back to the others.

“Okay, come on, let’s go,” Lee said impatiently.

Taking the president’s arm, he began hustling her out of the room. Kara followed quickly behind. Baltar stood indecisively in the doorway, clearly torn.

“But we can’t just leave all of this,” he protested, gesturing to the sarcophagus and the remaining items on the shelf. “Think of all the lost knowledge contained here.”

“Doc, we can’t bring it all with us. Now, come on,” Lee said, starting down the corridor.

When Baltar continued to hesitate, Kara grabbed his arm and pulled him along.

Chapter 6

Author’s note: Once again, I’m sorry this took so long, but I’ve been dealing with the mother of all colds this past week and Ny-quil is just not conducive to coherent writing.

Emerging from the lower level of the Tomb, the small group could now hear the incoming Cylon Raiders and felt the ground shake from the explosions of more bombs being dropped around them. And then, suddenly everything fell quiet. The only sounds to break the harsh silence, was their own heavy breathing and the dust and debris settling around them. Looking at each other, they cautiously crept from the building.

Lee led the way, his gun drawn. Kara brought up the rear. They all scanned the sky above them apprehensively, but for now, it was clear of enemy Raiders. Once again, it was Laura who guided them through the ruined city in the near-total darkness. They had just made it to the outskirts of the city’s boundaries when they began hearing a strange, rhythmic sound, metal grating against metal. Turning, they saw beams of light sweeping the ground behind them. These lights emanated from several tall, indistinct, but still menacing, mechanical soldiers, unlike anything any of them had ever seen These soldiers were marching toward them, weapons drawn, less than a half mile away.

“What the frak are those?” Kara asked, wide-eyed. “What happened to the old chrome toasters?”

“Looks like they upgraded,” Lee said. “Come on, keep moving, we’ve got to get the frak out of here!”

After nearly 20 minutes of hard running, Lee finally allowed the group to slow its pace for a brief break. He and Kara were slightly winded, but could have continued running all the way back to the transport, although Lee noticed that Kara was favoring her so-recently injured knee again. He knew it would be of no use to ask her about it. She would never admit that it was bothering her until she collapsed. He let it go. She was a big girl and knew her own body’s limits. He turned his attention to the two civilians. Dr. Baltar was holding up better than the captain would have expected, but Laura was not doing well at all. Lee felt guilty about putting these kinds of physical demands on her, knowing how ill she was, but he didn’t see any way to avoid it.

Adjusting his stride to match hers, he fell into step beside her. “Are you alright?” he asked softly.

Too out of breath to verbally respond, she simply nodded. She was clutching her side with both hands, but whether this was just a side stitch or something more serious, Lee didn’t know and was too afraid to ask.

“We’re still about a mile and a half out from the transport. I want to pick up our pace again. Can you keep up?” he asked.

Again, she nodded. Gesturing to Kara to take the lead and pick up the pace, Lee wrapped an arm around Laura’s waist and half-pushed her along with him, taking up the rear, behind Baltar. When they were within a half mile of the transport they became aware of the sound of gunfire coming from the direction they were headed.

Approaching the transport from the rear Lee halted the group about 10 yards from the small ship and had them take cover behind a low rise. The sound of the gunfire was coming from the far side of the transport. Gesturing for Kara to stay with the civilians, Lee left them, running toward the ship at a low crouch.

Pressing his back against the ship’s bulkhead, he slid to the nearest corner and peered cautiously around it. Several more of the tall, mechanical monsters were exchanging gunfire with two figures inside the transport. He could just make out Tyrol in the hatchway. Lee couldn’t identify the other person.

Banging his gun against the hull of the ship to get Tyrol’s attention, Lee immediately dropped to an even lower crouch, in case the chief shot before looking. Tyrol swung his gun to the left, but didn’t shoot. Spying the captain, a look of profound relief crossed his face. Lee held up a hand, indicating to the chief to wait for a moment.

Ducking back behind the ship, he gestured to Kara for her to bring up the others. When all four were standing, pressed against the hull, Lee gestured for Tyrol and his companion to cover them while they made the dash to the hatchway door.

Once he had seen that everyone was safely inside the transport, Lee called out, “Starbuck, get us out of here!”

The order was unnecessary, however, as the blonde pilot was already making her way to the cockpit. Lee and Tyrol continued to fire out the open hatch at the Cylon warriors and they kept up their fire until the transport had lifted off the planet. Swinging the door shut and spinning the wheel lock, Tyrol leaned against it, breathing heavily.

“Thank the Lords, you all showed up when you did,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how much longer we could hold out.”

At the mention of the word ‘we’, Lee remembered that there had been another person with the chief. Looking around, he spied Cally sitting in one of the passenger seats, toward the back of the transport.

“Hey, Cally, you okay?” he called to her.

“Yes, sir, I’m okay,” the girl said, with a tired smile.

Lee returned her smile, but the relief of the moment was broken by Kara calling from the cockpit that she was about to jump them back to the Galactica. “Everybody hang on!”

Lee and Tyrol quickly lowered themselves to the deck and braced themselves against the passenger seats. Baltar, Cally, and the president were already strapped into their seats. They experienced the familiar, but still disorienting, feeling of space both expanding and contracting simultaneously. Almost the instant the jump was completed, the ship was rocked by the distinct sound of gunfire. Lee heard several bullets glance off the thick hull of the transport.

“Apollo, get your butt up here now!” Kara called out from the cockpit. “We’ve got company and a lot of it!”

Dragging himself off the floor, Lee moved quickly to the cockpit. Standing behind the pilot’s seat, he looked over Kara’s shoulder out the main viewscreen. Two Basestars sat opposing the Galactica and the entire space between them and the Battlestar was filled with Raiders.

“Oh, my frakking Gods,” he whispered.

Kara was unable to respond as she was forced to take evasive action, to keep them from being shot down. But even as she went through the motions automatically, she knew it was a lost cause. There was no way she could evade that many Raiders for long. They had no weapons. All they could do was jump back to the planet and hope that the Galactica survived to pick them up later.

“Oh, Gods, Kara, look.”

Now what? she thought as she reluctantly ripped her eyes away from the viewscreen to see what Lee was pointing at.

When she had taken her seat in the cockpit upon boarding, she had absently tossed the Aegis device onto the top of the instrument panel. She hadn’t known what else to do with it, and up there, it was out of her way. Seeing that Lee was pointing at it now, she looked to see that it appeared to be melting into the instrument panel. It had almost completely and seamlessly integrated itself into the metal on the top of the panel. The engraved image of the severed head was still distinctly visible, gazing up from the panel, and now the wide, vacant eyes began to glow an eerie green color. They heard a soft, low humming sound, much like the sound they had heard in the passageways of the Tomb of Athena.

Tearing his eyes reluctantly away from the fascinating device, Lee looked up, just in time to see a Raider flying towards them, guns blazing. “Kara!” he cried, even as his brain registered that she would never be able to evade the shots in time.

The transport shuddered as the shots drove home. Flashes of greenish lightning skittered across the viewscreen momentarily. The attacking Raider sped past them. Lee stood, stunned. Somehow, the ship seemed to be undamaged.

“We should be dead right now,” Kara said, softly.

“Yeah, we should,” Lee agreed.

When, despite Kara’s best efforts at evasion, another Raider’s shots found them, the result was the same. There were flashes of green ‘lightning’ and the transport flew on undamaged.

“How did you say The Scriptures described this thing?” Lee asked.

“As a protective device.”

“It must be some kind of shield generator. We need to get this thing back to the Galactica.”

Now, freed from the worry about being shot down, Kara needed only to avoid colliding with the Raiders. She pushed the transport to its limit, speeding them to the Galactica.

They were directed by a rattled-sounding Dee to land on the port-side landing pod. The landing was tricky, the area around the Battlestar was thick with Raiders, Vipers and ordnance fire. The civilian ships were no where to be seen. Tigh had evidently already ordered them to jump to the next safe coordinates.

As Kara powered down the engines and activated the magnetic locks to secure the ship to the landing deck, she and Lee watched as the ‘eyes’ of the Aegis device darkened and it disengaged, or more accurately, solidified itself from the instrument panel. It once again appeared to be no more than a strangely decorated, metal disc sitting innocuously on the top of the panel. Kara picked it up reverently.

Leaving the cockpit, they found that Tyrol and Cally had already disembarked to resume their duties with the ground crew. Lee, Kara and Laura immediately headed up to CIC. Baltar hung back, forgotten by the others. Climbing down from the transport, he left the hangar deck, headed in an entirely different direction.

He found the sick bay buzzing with activity. The Galactica had sustained heavy damages and there was plenty of wounded. No one gave the scientist more than a cursory glance. Once they saw that he was relatively unhurt, they quickly dismissed him from their thoughts. This was all to the doctor’s liking. He hadn’t come here for treatment, nor did he wish to be questioned.

He quickly found the partitioned off area, where Sharon was being kept. The guard who should have been stationed there had been drafted to help with the wounded, so no one challenged Baltar as he stepped around the partition to gaze down at the patient.

Sharon was asleep, as was Helo laying the bed a few feet away. As the scientist gazed down at the sleeping young woman, a strange sort of possessive smile crossed his face. Looking up, he gazed at the stunning blonde who stood on the other side of the bed. She returned his smile warmly. Reaching out, she took his hands in hers and placed them on the sleeping woman’s stomach.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Up in CIC, Lee, Kara and Laura found Col. Tigh barking orders and looking quite harried. He glanced at them as they entered.

“Did you find Baltar?” he asked by way of greeting.

“Yes sir,” Lee answered.

“Did you bring Tyrol and Cally back with you?”

“Yes sir.”

“So, everyone’s off the planet?”

“Yes sir.”

“Dee, recall all Vipers. Gaeta, warm up the computers. Be ready to jump us out of here the second all the Vipers are on board.”

“Well, I hope you’re all quite proud of yourselves,” the colonel said angrily. “You brought every Cylon in the sector down on us. I just hope they won’t be able to track us.”

“We brought presents,” Kara said smiling, her excitement irrepressible.

Tigh glared at her, but said nothing. The pilot took the starglobe from the president and held it out to the colonel.

“A three-dimensional star chart that shows us how to find Earth. And this...” She held up the Aegis device.

“And what the hell is that?” Tigh asked skeptically.

“The means to get us there.”

Again, Tigh said nothing. His attention was diverted by Dee, who reported that all the vipers were on board. The colonel gave the order to jump the Battlestar. Once they had rejoined the rest of the fleet, he ordered the CAP Vipers to relaunch and establish that they were, in fact, alone in this sector of space. He gave orders for crews to immediately begin the repairs to the ship.

With a few minutes of breathing space, he turned to gaze unhappily at his two mutinous pilots. He supposed he could return them to the brig, but what good would that do? He knew damn well they had had help breaking out the first time, so returning them wouldn’t be setting any kind of example for the rest of the crews. And he wouldn’t be teaching either of them any lessons. It was obvious from their expressions that neither felt any remorse for their actions. But just ignoring this flagrant insubordination, by all the parties involved, stuck in his craw like a hand around his throat. And then there was the president...

Turning his attention to the woman in question, he saw that she wasn’t even paying attention to the proceedings. She was gazing off at nothing in particular, her eyes distant and unfocused. She seemed to be oblivious to her surroundings.

Noting the direction of the colonel’s gaze, Lee turned to look at Laura as well. He also noticed her distraction with some concern. “Madam President, are you alright?” he asked.

She turned to look at him, her eyes still unfocused. He wasn’t sure she even recognized him. Stepping closer to her, he placed a hand on her shoulder. “Madam President?”

He saw her eyes roll back in her head and felt her body start to sag under his hand. He quickly caught her before she could collapse and gently lowered her to the deck. Her face was ashen and he wasn’t sure she was breathing.

“Madam President!”

THE END

Author’s note: Okay, Okay, before y’all start deluging me with hate e-mail (and before Cyndi’s doctor wins that Kewpie Doll), let me just say: Yes there will be a sequel. Yes, I’m working on it. I didn’t want to simply tack it on as chapter 7 because it’s going to be very different in tone and style, so I wanted it to be a story by itself. Anyway, stay tuned for it. Yes, I promise, I will give you some closure. Even I am not that mean (well, maybe...).

Author’s note: Kara’s ‘prayer’ to Athena was taken from ‘Orphic Hymn 32 to Athena’ as translated by Thomas Taylor.