Earth At Last
by AJ Marks
“No, I’m not leaving,” a loud voice said, heard several quarters away. “I don’t care what you saw, I’m staying!”
Two officers walking by stopped, startled by the loud voices, but not surprised by it either. They looked at each other, and with a grim nod they knew what the argument was about. It was the same all over the Galactica ever since the commander made his announcement to split up the fleet. People were reluctant to leave their loved one.
Inside the quarters, Cassiopeia was determined to give Starbuck a piece of her mind. It had taken her a long time to get him to open up, and even commit to sealing with her. And now, with their daughter, he was telling her this.
“I can’t believe you want us to leave, doesn’t my opinion mean anything to you?” she asked.
“Now Cass, come on, you know…”
“Don’t you patronize me Starbuck,” Cassiopeia said, cutting him off. She took a breath to start up again when Alieva let out a cry. “Now look at what you’ve done,” she told him, picking up their daughter.
“But,” he said, stopping at the glare his wife game him. He knew better than to continue to argue with her, especially when she was so angry. Instead he wrapped his arms around both of them, enveloping them in a hug, savoring the feeling. “I want to know you’re both safe, that’s all Cass.”
“I know,” Cassiopeia replied, turning slightly to look into his face. He noticed she was crying now. “I don’t want to live without you, and I don’t want our daughter to not know you.”
Starbuck was at a loss for words. He shared the same feelings, but he also knew if they were on the Galactica, he would be more worried. He wanted them to have a chance to survive. The odds of him ever seeing her again were very small, and he allowed his own years to fall.
“Who, or what, are the Cylons?’ the commander asked.
“A race of robots,” Apollo answered, unsure how much information to give him.
“Silicon based life form,” the commander replied.
“I guess you could say that now,” Apollo said, unsure about it. “What do the Cylons have to do with this?”
The commander did not reply, and instead seemed deep in thought instead. “Tell me, what do you know about this Cylon race Captain Apollo?”
Apollo shared a look with the other two pilots. It was not quite the question he expected, but one he would answer.
“Where to begin,” Apollo replied, thinking about the question. They had a lot of information about the Cylons, something that happened after being at war for so long. “When we met the Cylons, they were already a race of robots. At one time, they were a reptile type civilization. They created robots to help them, which slowly took over until a war broke out.”
“A war the robots won it seems,” the commander said.
“They created a social system that conflicts with our system. Because of their past, they view all organics with distaste, and wipe out any race they feel might be a threat to them,” Apollo said.
“And is that how you got involved?”
“We fell into the war trying to protect another race from the Cylons,” Apollo said, staring at the Cylon raider. “Our neighbors were under attack from them, they asked for our help, so we built up our military and for several hundred yahrens fought them.”
“I take it a yahren is a long time.”
“A standard measurement of our time, an average of our worlds to complete an orbit,” Apollo stated.
“Probably equivalent to our year,” the commander said, rubbing his chin. “Please continue.”
“Well, we fought them to a standstill that was up until about seven yahrens ago,” Apollo said, thinking back over what had happened in his lifetime. “Ironically we were betrayed by one of our own people.”
“Betrayed, how?” the commander said, sounding genuinely interested in the answer.
“The Cylons concocted a brilliant scheme, and one we should have seen coming considering they are machines. They started by contacting an aspiring and respectable man at the time, Baltar. Through him they expressed a desire for peace, but fooled us all,” Apollo said.
“I don’t understand,” the commander said.
“Baltar claimed the Cylons wanted peace, even though he knew their real intentions,” Apollo stated.
“He knew what would happen, yet betrayed his people anyways? That doesn’t make any sense,” the commander said.
“I know, we still don’t know what the Cylons used as bait for his help,” Apollo said. “Whatever they said to him, it worked and we fell for the trap they set.”
“I take it from your voice that you were there,” the man said.
“I was on patrol with my brother,” Apollo said, recalling what happened next.
The other two pilots looked at Apollo with interest. They had both joined up after they fled the colonies. Not many really understood what happened to the fleet in that battle, only that the Galactica had survived.
“We were doing normal, routine patrols, not expecting anything as the fleet was at the rendezvous point. We saw something near a moon and went to investigate,” Apollo said, still able to see the mass of Cylon raiders. “Well, we went in to investigate seeing two empty tankers, and a lot of Cylon raiders. They jammed us on the way back.
“There must have been a thousand raiders waiting for us. We tried to make it back, but several jumped us and we had to fight our way out. Zac’s viper was damaged, not able to keep up with me. He told me to go ahead and alert the fleet. His viper was destroyed as he reached the fleet,” Apollo said, recalling the moment once more, still bitter about what happened that moment and how Baltar had stopped the fleet from launching.
“Wasn’t the fleet on alert?’ one of the two pilots asked, almost as if he could not comprehend the fact the fleet never went to alert.
“No, Baltar made sure of that,” Apollo answered. “He confused the President long wnough so that when the attack happened, it was too late to counter. The damage had been done. Only the Galactica was on alert when the attack happened, the rest of the fleet was taken by surprise. We never stood a chance.”
The room fell silent for several seconds, Apollo lost in his memories, the other two pilots imagining what he went though and the commander absorbing it all. Apollo shook himself a bit to see the commander now looking back out the window and into space.
“What happened to the Colonies?” he asked, turning back towards Apollo.
“They destroyed everything they could,” one of the pilots said. “The sky seemed full of them, and nothing we could do to stop them.”
“After the attack, we knew we couldn’t defend ourselves against them there anymore. So we gathered what ships could travel, loaded them up and left heading for a legend, the thirteenth tribe, Earth,” Apollo said.
“Is that the reason you are here?” the commander said.
“We have nowhere else to go, and even if we did have a destination, we have no fuel to get there anymore. With the Cylons having found us again, the fleet’s destruction might not be that far away,” Apollo said, not liking the way it sounded, but no other option. “That is, unless you can help?’
The commander said nothing, instead motioning for Apollo and the other two to be escorted back to the cell, leaving the commander alone in the room as a door opened allowing another man to enter.
“You heard?” the commander asked, turning towards the smaller man.
“Yes,” the second man said, pausing to look at the Cylon ship. “If what they say is true, then we have much work to do.”
“Commander Adama,” Tigh said, entering the room as Adama looked up at him. “You wanted to see me sir?”
“Yes Tigh, have a seat,” Adama said, motioning for the chair across the desk, waiting until Tigh sat down. “I’ve been doing some thinking.”
“About what?” Tigh replied, sounding confused.
“I’d like you to go with the fleet,” Adama said, after a few seconds of silence.
“I don’t understand,” Tigh replied back, obviously confused by the request.
“The ships leaving will need a commander to help lead them, someone who is wise in military leadership as well. Since I’m staying on board the Galactica, you should go, I can’t think of anyone more qualified,” Adama said, hoping he accepted the request.
“And the council?” Tigh said.
“I’ve already spoken to the council, they are also going to split up on different ships in a hope some survive. You are to take my place on the council,” Adama said. “I have enjoyed a full life, seem too much, my place is here on the Galactica with those who served under me.”
Tigh remained quiet for several microns before saying anything. “Have you talked to your daughter and grandson yet?”
“Yes, and I had the same argument with them. Tigh, you still have a lot of life yet to live, you can be my replacement, you have the knowledge, the ability. I want you to live on,” Adama said.
“Then it will be an honor,” Tigh finally said.
“I know you’ll do well, I have a lot of confidence in you,” Adama said, standing along with tigh. “Good luck friend.”
“And you as well,’ Tigh replied, shaking Adama’s hand. “I guess I better get ready then.”
Adama watched as he moved towards the door, stopping for a second and looking back. Neither said a word, as both understood the unspoken thought. Tigh then continued on through the door leaving Adama alone in the room.
He sat back down at the desk. One of the hardest tasks had been completed. He knew that Tigh wanted to remain on board the Galactica, he served with the crew as much as anyone had. However Adama still looked towards the future with hope. And if they succeeded in escaping, they would need a military leader. Not someone who took over, but a person who would be cautious and had the protection of the people in his mind. He hoped many would survive.
“Bring in the other two capture humans” the commander told his guards, waiting only a few minutes until they returned with two additional men, dressed in the same brown uniform as the others who had been captured.
“You are human?’ the commander asked, looking at them intently.
They looked at each other a bit confused, the same as all the rest when asked the question before one finally replied. “Yeah, we’re human, are you as well?”
“And where do you come from? Why are you here?” the commander asked, ignoring the question from them. He wanted answers quickly, time was important.
“Well, from the Colonies, and we’re here because the Cylons destroyed our home, want us dead and we’re searching for Earth,” the reply came, very similar to the others.
“Why are you looking for Earth?”
“Well, according to our legends, Earth is the thirteenth tribe of Kobal, and if the rumors of Earth being the planet we were on is true, we’re doomed,” the man replied back to you.
“So, according to your legends, Earth is a thirteenth tribe, correct,” the commander said, watching their reactions closely.
“Yeah,” one replied, though both looked confused.
“Take them back to the room where the others are,” the commander said, motioning for the guards to come forth. He waited a few moments until they were gone before turning towards the man who walked into the room.
“Are the results back yet commander,” the shorter man asked.
“They should be back from the lab any minute now my lord,” the commander said.
“And then we’ll know,” the man replied.
“Last call for all personal leaving the Galactica. Shuttle will be leaving in fifteen centons,” the announcement said.
The flight deck was crowded with people saying goodbye to friends, loved ones and family. Tears flowed freely as many knew there would be no happy reunion this time. Anyone staying on the Galactica would die for sure, unless a miracle happened, and many were not expecting one.
Colonel Tigh made his way through the crowd when a hand on his shoulder stopped him. He turned around surprised to see Adama standing there along with Athena and Boxey, behind him stood Starbuck and his family.
“Tigh, glad I didn’t miss you,” Adama said
“Same here,” Tigh replied, both glad to see each other one last time. “I’ll miss you sir, and this ship,” he said taking a last look around the hangar.
“We had some great times, and I know you’d rather be with me on the bridge, but this battle, I can’t let you remain behind this time,” Adama said to him.
“I’ve thought about it, and you’re right. Goodbye my friend,” Tigh said finally, shaking Adama’s hand one last time, pulled into a hug which he returned before releasing each other.
Tigh made his way over to Starbuck, watching as he was saying goodbye his own family. He stood off to the side, waiting until Starbuck noticed him.
“Colonel,” Starbuck said.
“Normally I’d tell you to be careful, so, be careful,” Tigh said to him, both gave a slight chuckle at the statement, even thought it was obvious Cassiopeia did not find it funny.
“Can I ask a personal favor?” Starbuck said, his voice low so only Tigh could hear.
“Of course,” Tigh said, wondering what it might be.
“Would you, um, would you make sure that Alieva hears about her father,” Starbuck said, his voice quiet.
“I’d be honored to Starbuck,” Tigh said, making the promise he had every intention of keeping.
“You better get going,” Adama said from behind them.
Tigh nodded his head, making his way onto the shuttle, along with several others, watching as Starbuck said a final goodbye to his wife and daughter. He saw him say something to Aleiva, kissing her forehead, then a kiss for Cassiopeia before he walked into the shuttle.
He only had to wait a few moments before the rest joined in and the doors to the shuttle closed. They were now heading away from the Galactica and towards the rising Star. A ship he had requested due to its speed. It would be able to flee quicker than the rest of the fleet, giving it the best chance of survival. He only wished he could somehow change the course of events. Too much had happened and it seemed like everything went the wrong way for them.
The Cylon commander sat in his chair, the knowledge that the Colonials would soon be destroyed and the war with the humans finally over. Two centurions walked into the room.
“Speak centurion,” he told them.
“We have a total of eleven basestars converging on the sector where the Galactica and the human fleet are,” the centurion replied.
“Excellent, tell them all to prepare for the destruction of the fleet, and let no ship survive,” the commander said.
“By your command!”
End part 4
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