And now, because it was the first will of the people, I am going to sign my first executive order, requiring to immediately establish settlements on the planet we have come to know as New Caprica.
Objects at Rest
"I think you might wanna check Dawn's bags before she leaves," Buffy said lightly to Tara. "Or otherwise you might be missing your cat." Buffy was sitting together with Tara on the couch watching Dawn who, for the past few hours, had been sitting on the floor either playing or snuggling with little Miss Kitty Fantastico who was obviously enjoying having the undivided attention of the young elementary school teacher.
"What's keeping Willow so long?" 'Slayer' asked, looking at her wrist watch. "She should've been back an hour ago."
Tara too locked at the clock. "I don't know. She was scheduled for physic therapy and then for another appointment with Doctor Pulaski."
"I hope she shows up soon," came the voice of Dawn from under the living room table where she had followed Miss Kitty who was chasing her favourite ball. "I've already missed one flight, can't afford to miss the next one too." She came out from under the table and sat herself into the chair right next to Tara. Followed right away by Miss Kitty who rolled herself up into her lap to take a nap.
"Well, you've got another thirty minutes," said Buffy with another glance at her watch. "Then I'm getting you down to the hangar bay.
"To fly me over yourself with a Viper?" Dawn asked excited.
"No, the regular shuttle to the Cloud Nine."
"That's so unfair!" Dawn protested. "Willow used to fly Tara around in that Viper all the time. And now Tara gets flown in a Raptor." She gave a pout.
"That," Tara said thoughtfully, "might very well change in the near future. I mean with Baltar being sworn in as the new President of the Twelve Colonies."
"You think he might not want you to continue as Sec Ed?" Dawn asked.
"I have absolutely no idea," Tara admitted. "Ever since he announced his pitch for the presidency and started campaigning right away, I haven't had any dealings with him.
"Not that I had much to do with him in the first place. I had my work cut out and he was most of the time locked away in his laboratory working on that Cylon detector."
"Not that this thing worked very well," Buffy interposed. "After all he also declared 'Boomer' to be human."
"No, not really," Tara agreed, and remembered the other Cylon that had been discovered among the crew of the Galactica. She shook herself to chase away the face of Faith coming to her mind.
"I simply have to wait and see if he want to keep me as Secretary of Education and if he does, if the two of us agree on what he wants and what I want to do in my field," Tara concluded.
"I for one, hope that you'll remain in office Tara," Dawn said sincerely, "you're the best Sec Ed I've ever worked with."
"Right - I'm the only Sec Ed you've ever worked with," Tara observed with a grin.
"Still can't believe he won the election," Buffy said.
"Well he and his campaign manager Tom Zarek played the 'settle on New Caprica' now card, and won," Tara said solemnly.
By pure chance a Raptor, part of a rescue mission to Caprica, got lost on the first in a series of jumps, found this habitable planet hidden within a nebular cloud, that hit the planet and everything within its orbit from any kind of long range scanners. As it seems the perfect save haven from the Cylons. But whereas Laura and Admiral Adama rather wanted to continue the search for Earth, Baltar made the immediate settlement of this new planet his priority.
Not surprisingly that won him the vote. Who could blame the people of being sick of living in metal buckets when they really wanted to stand on a planet's surface again with a sky over their heads. Now with Gaius Baltar being elected President, the colonisation of the planet soon known as New Caprica would obviously get the fast forward. One could only hope that this nebular would not only shield them from the Cylons but also stop what ever sleeper agents they might still have among them from contacting them on their own.
Tara, Buffy and Dawn discussed the pro and cons of giving up the search for Earth and colonialise New Caprica, whether or not that should be done at once or only after further survey of the planet. They where so involved in their discussion, that they only became aware of Willow returning when she stepped through the bulkhead into the room.
Upon seeing her best friend, Buffy jumped to her feet, stood to attention and saluted: "Good afternoon Captain!" Willow let out a heartfelt sigh and shoot the bulkhead behind her.
"Would you please stop that Buffy," she pleaded. "You very well know that this isn't necessary as long that we're off duty."
"But I'm having so much fun!" Buffy protested.
"You certainly do," Willow said and slowly crossed the room. Only now Tara recognised the change in Willow's appearance because she had replaced the two crutches with a single cane.
With two steps Tara was at Willow's side and put her arms around her waist. "Oh honey, that's wonderful!" She cried and kissed her girlfriend tenderly on her lips. "Why didn't you tell me that today was the day?"
"Because I found it much more rewarding to keep it to myself and surprise the woman I love," Willow answered with a big smile on her lips. But then she couldn't restrain herself anymore and kissed the blond woman again and again. After a while the two woman became aware of the presence of the two Summers' sisters who, both being single at the moment, gave them longing looks.
"I think we better stop," Tara said, blushing considerably.
"Oh no, don't stop!" Dawn said, "I totally need my second hand smoggiest!"
"Where did you get this rather fabulous walking cane?" Buffy asked, taking the cane from Willow after she had sat down right next to her.
"Looks rather grand doesn't it? Willow said, looking at the cane in Buffy's hand. It was an old one, made from dark wood with a shining chrome handle.
"It's a present from Dr. Pulaski, she came over today to check on my progress.
"She told me this cane once belonged to her grandfather. He too was a doctor and she could not think of a better use than to give it to someone who really needed a cane to keep walking." For a while Willow looked thoughtfully at the cane, that Buffy had handed back to her.
"Anyway," Willow said. "Both docs say I'm fit for duty and so tomorrow I'll start training at launch control."
"What do you mean start?" Tara asked and gave Willow the look. "As it is, you already spent half the day down there anyway. You certainly know all about it by now."
"Are you suggesting that I neglect my duties as your fiancée?" Willow asked raising an eyebrow.
"What does she mean by fiancée?" Buffy asked, but Dawn beat her to the answer.
"When did she propose?" Dawn asked Tara excitingly.
"Yesterday!" Tara beamed and shows the plane gold ring on her finger. "We know, we're still not legally allowed to get married but Willow and I don't care. We want everyone to know that we belong together." She kissed Willow tenderly on the cheek. By now the entire room was one wave of happiness, with Dawn hugging Willow and Tara and Buffy just being happy for her best friend and her fiancée.
Little did they know that the happiness around them was about to come to sudden and brutal end. Because just as Dawn came to her feet and gathered her things - she had spent last night on Willow and Tara's couch - the Galactica got hit by a great force that send Dawn to the floor. Soon the alarms where sounding throughout the Battlestar and Lt. Gaeta called all hands aboard to the action stations. 'Slayer' left at once, heading down for the hangar bay and her Viper, while Willow called the CIC to find out what had happened.
Listening to Petty Officer Anastasia Dualla's hurried situation report, Willow's freckled face turned pale while her green eyes widened in shook and horror, making Tara hurry her side. Leaning heavily on her cane, Willow put the phone back on to the lever on the wall. She didn't say a word but kept staring into oblivion.
"Willow, talk to me," Tara pleaded. "What happened?" By now Dawn was on her feet too and by Willow's side, looking very worried. Together with Tara she led the shocked Colonial Officer to the sofa and together they sat down. Eventually Willow found her voice and whisperingly started to tell the other two women what she had just learned from 'D' Dualla.
"Cloud Nine has just been destroyed. All indications point to a nuclear explosion, coming from within the ship. Destroyed at least two other vessels…" She managed before tears closed off her throat completely. Tara put her arm around Willow's waist, holding on to her, trying to comfort both Willow and herself.
"I would've been back at Cloud Nine by now," Dawn whispered. "If it wouldn't it have been for you being late, I would not have missed that flight an hour ago. I would've been there," she repeated over and over again.
"My kids!" Dawn suddenly cried out, meaning the boys and girls she had been looking forward to be teaching again tomorrow morning. Willow put a comforting hand on Dawn's shoulder but the young woman brushed it away and, crying hard, Dawn jumped to her feet and ran into the joining bedroom, slamming the door close behind her.
"So many people," Willow cried, "gone! So many people… the colonies and now all these people that lived on that large ship!" Willow and Tara sank into each other's arms, both crying for all the souls that had perished within the blink of an eye.
One Year Later.
Major Willow Rosenberg slowly walked down the empty hallways of Battlestar Pegasus on her way to the mighty Battlestar's CIC. She didn't need to hurry though for nothing generally happened these days.
The settlement of New Caprica had commenced despite Admiral Adama's objections, that the theft of the nuclear warhead from Dr. Baltar's laboratory and the following destruction of the Cloud Nine could have been the prelude to a Cylon attack. Ok, apparently President Baltar had been right, and the electromagnetic discharges of the cloud surrounding New Caprica really effectively shielded them from any outside detection. And whether or not the device had been set up by a Cylon agent or not would not change that - so maybe they might really be safe here. The perfect safe haven for a new beginning after all, or was it?
Most of the people throughout the fleet thought so. By now, only a small number of the fleet's civilian ships were still in orbit with Galactica and Pegasus, the majority having been landed on the planet's surface. The population of New Caprica's settlement was up to 39192 and that included most of the personnel of Galactica and Pegasus. Both Battlestars where now operating with a skeleton crew and only got barely enough pilots to fly a decent patrol.
Of course it had only been thanks to this shortage in officers and crew that had it made possible for Willow to further climb the ladder of command up to becoming second in command of the Pegasus. That was certainly much higher than Willow had ever expected to be. Major Willow Rosenberg, Executive Officer of Battlestar Pegasus - that had a nice ring to it. A battlestar, that was operating with less than a third of its regular crew complement. Some of the crews had asked to be relocated to the planets surface while others simply hadn't returned from planetary shore leave.
Willow couldn't help it, every now and then, to ask herself if she and Tara had made the right decision, to stay aboard Galactica and only go down to New Caprica for one or the other shore leave.
Willow's steps echoed throughout the Pegasus' hall ways, accompanied by the metal clank of her walking canes tip. Despite her hopes and Dr. Pulaski's assurance that it might be possible, Willow still needed the cane to walk around the ship or on the planet's surface, or longer distances in general. Within their quarter she could move around without her walking aid.
Now, these quarters were the real treat for being aboard Pegasus' XO. Not only were they much more spacious than their previous one aboard Galactica but it also featured their very own bathroom!
Walking around the next corner, Willow became aware of a young officer walking in front of her.
"Morning, Lieutenant," Willow said, falling into step with the young woman who had her long blond hair up in a ponytail.
"Morning Major," the Lieutenant answered and gave Willow a short salute.
"So how's business at communication today?" Willow wanted to know.
"Slow as usually. Mostly relaying messages from New Caprica, to ships within the fleet and to the exploration mission up on the eastern continent.
"Oh very good," Willow answered. "And may I say that you're looking very good this morning Lieutenant?" She gave the blond a suggestive smile.
"Does your wife know you're flirting with fellow female officers, Major?" Asked the lieutenant.
"I think she does," Willow returned.
"And what does she think about it?"
"I don't know. What do you think about it, Tara?"
"Well, it's all right, as long as I'm said female officer," Lt. Tara Maclay laughed.
Less than fifty days into his presidency, it became apparent to Tara that Gaius Baltar took no particular interests in educational matters whatsoever. And that made working with him increasingly difficult und unpleasant for Tara. Even though she had the full support of the Quorum of Twelve and both Vice-President Tom Zarek and presidential aid Felix Gaeta who tried their best to smooth out the rift between President and Secretary of Education, there came a day that the mere thought of going back to work just another day with this self loving egomaniac, made Tara sick - literally sick.
So it was with a heavy heart that Tara stepped in front of the press and announced that she was to resign from the post of Secretary of Education effective immediately. Of course she didn't leave her job without telling the press how she had come to her decision, and what she exactly thought of the current administration and its president.
It had been a difficult choice for Tara, but the right one, Willow knew. She also knew that given a regime change in three years time, and there was little doubt in Willow's mind, that Baltar had no chance of winning re-election, Tara would take up office again.
"Maybe you should run for president then, Tara," Willow had jokingly suggested.
"Not funny, Willow."
Wanting to make herself useful, and given that there where no civilian positions on a battlestar, Tara joined up with the Colonial forces, which didn't surprise Willow when she told her. She started with the officer's training right away and since she always was a fast learner, having a masters degree in math also helped, Tara soon settled into her new job. By the time Willow got promoted to Major, Tara got her own promotion to Lieutenant and they both got transferred to the Pegasus.
"How was your appointment with Dr. Franklin?" Willow asked.
"Fine," Tara with a warm smile upon her lips. "All's going according to plan."
"And how's our little girl doing?" Willow wanted to know and placed her free hand upon Tara's notably rounded belly.
"Great, I think, though she seems determined to practice tap-dance on my bladder."
"So Doctor Franklin says it's okay for you to travel down to the planet?" Willow asked sounding a bit worried.
"Of course he does," Tara laughed. "We'll be fine Willow."
They stood at one of the many intersections of the mighty Battlestar where they now needed to part. Willow needed to go to the pilot's readying room to meet with 'Slayer' Pegasus' CAG and Tara would head to the hangar bay from where she was to be flown down to New Caprica City by 'White Knight'.
"Honey," Tara said both amused and touched by Willow worrying about her and their unborn daughter Hope.
"I'm pregnant, not sick nor handicapped. Everything is going to be fine - except maybe that I won't fit much longer into my uniform. But besides from that, it's perfectly safe for me to travel to the planet for the next two months or so.
"Plus I promised Laura to get her some more stuff for school."
"Still the Sec Ed aren't you?" Willow asked with a smirk.
"But only for a little bit," Tara admitted. "And only unofficially, mind you." She gave Willow her biggest smile and added: "And now give me kiss before I miss my flight."
"Bye honey, I love you," Willow said and kissed Tara goodbye.
"Love you too," Tara answered.
"And I love you Hope," Willow whispered to Tara's belly and kissed it too.
About an hour later Major Rosenberg passed though the automatically opening glass doors into Pegasus' CIC where Commander Adama was just having a spirited argument with someone down on the planet's surface. Judging from the looks on his wife's Lt. Dualla's face, Willow assumed it to be 'Starbuck'.
"Morning Lieutenant," Willow said.
"Morning Major," Anastasia 'D' Dualla answered. "'White Knight' just reported in. She and your wife have landed safely on New Caprica, sir."
"Thank you 'D'," Willow answered with a smile.
It felt really great to Willow how the others accepted and spoke of Tara as Willow's wife. Though not legally speaking her wife. Legalisation of the gay marriage, as it had been imposed into Carprican Law, was of no interest for the current administration of Gaius Baltar. Willow and Tara had been married by Admiral Adama before they left for the Pegasus. It had been a nice little ceremony aboard Galactica, together with their friends Buffy, Jessica Cally and Dana Kim. The only person missing was Buffy's sister Dawn, who back then was already living in New Caprica City and could not been contacted.
Willow stepped up to the centre station and looked up to the telemetry screens. Of course there wasn't much to see on the Dradis screens, except for the regular electromagnetic distortions emanating from the clouds surrounding the planet and his sun. It was what hid them from the Cylons and after all until now it had worked, hadn't it? There hadn't been a single sighting for the past three hundred and eighty days. Or maybe the Cylons had really stuck to their promise, to no longer pursue humanity.
One year ago, 'Starbuck' had returned from a rescue mission from Caprica, not only with the survivors of a resistance group, but also with the news that the Cylons had left the Colonies. Unknowingly, 'Starbuck' had brought a humanoid Cylon along with her - an elderly man. Now this Cylon avatar, know to them as the priest - Brother Cavil, who was aboard the Galactica too at the same time, had a message for the colonials. Thanks to the growing influence of the two "Heroes of the Cylons"; a six and a eight - the latter known to the people of the Galactica as Sharon 'Boomer' Valerie - they had come to the conclusion, that trying to destroy humanity had been a mistake.
A mistake! Billions of people killed in the nuclear bombardment of the Twelve Colonies, others while on the run, mercilessly pursued by the Cylon. They called it a mistake, and said they would leave them alone now, in search of a new home for themselves.
Willow shook her head, dismissing the rage that was building up in her. There was no use in getting angry about what had happened. As for trusting the Cylons to really stay away, Willow agreed with the Admiral to not feel too secure just yet. Not when she was only five month away from becoming a mom.
Again Willow looked up to the screens with their regularly appearing disturbances.
"You don't really except to see anything now, don't you?" Commander Adama asked from his station, while still talking to 'Starbuck'. Willow shook her head with an amusing smile. No, she didn't expect to see anything but Galactica and the other ships of the fleet on that screen.
"What was that?" Willow asked into the air in front of her.
"Wait a minute," Lee Adama said to Kara Thrace on the other end of the line. "What is it, Major?"
"I'm not really sure," Willow answered and kept staring at the Dradis screen in front of her. "Probably just a glitch or something."
Willow was about to dismiss what she believed to have seen when the screen became clear again and what she saw made her eyes go wide and let her blood freeze.
"Enemy contact!" she yelled. "That's a Cylon fleet! They found us!"
"Action stations," Adama ordered under his breath.
"Action station! Action stations set condition one through out the ship" Major Rosenberg's voice echoed throughout the mostly empty ship.
"Galactica Actual' on the line!"
At once the son took the father's call. Willow read up on the reports slowly coming into her station, while her thoughts raced to the two persons she held most dear in her life - Tara and their unborn daughter Hope.
"We have to get out of here," Willow heard Lee Adama say to his father, and could only too well imagine the Admirals response: "We just can't leave all those people behind." Because it was exactly what she was thinking right now.
"There's nothing we can do," 'Pegasus Actual' pointed out. "It's taking us forever just to get to action stations over here. We're in no position to fight, sir."
He was right Willow knew, even though everything inside her rebelled against it.
"We don't have a choice, we need to get out of here now!" Lee went on.
"All stations report condition one throughout the ship, sir," she reported, not without noticing how very long it had taken to get to the action stations. "Should we launch the alert fighter?" Commander Adama shook his head while still waiting for the admiral to make the decision.
"Sir, the decision has to be made now!" Lee told his superior officer.
Knowing what had to be done, Willow anticipated Commander Adama's next orders and went over to Lt. Lefebvre's station.
"Lieutenant begin jump prep," she ordered quietly. "Warm up FTL drives two and four, break out the FTL computers. Calculate the jump and coordinate with Galactica and the rest of the fleet."
From across the CIC she got the silent confirmation that Admiral Adam had given the order.
"Be ready to execute the jump!" Major Rosenberg ordered, while at the same time Willow prayed: 'Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer, keep my Tara safe and protect her and our unborn daughter from harm."
"Jump!" Commander Adama ordered
The moment Pegasus, Galactica and the other ships jumped away, Willow made her promise: "I'm coming back for you, Tara, I'm coming back to save you and Hope. Even if I have to fight the entire Cylon force with my bare hands - I'll be back!'