Title- A Brave New World

Chapter- 1/?

Author- Dekardkain

Date- 10/01/06

Rating- PG-13 moving to NC-17 in later chapters.

Category- Very AU, L/K romance, action.

Archiving- Would be an honor, just ask.

Warnings- Nothing graphic yet

Disclaimers- I don't own this, no money, yadda yadda. Sue me

I promise you won't get much.

Summary- What if things had taken a very different turn

after the return from Kobol? What if instead of finding

the Pegasus, they found Earth? Or if Earth found them?

"A Brave New World"

"The soldier is an anomaly. A man willing to place his life and well-

being in mortal danger for the benefit of his society. This is done in the firm belief that it is his moral obligation to do so. That single decision elevates a soldier in the eyes of the people, because he actively protects the society he belongs to from harm. So as soldiers, we must never forget that while we stand on the wall between our people and the enemy, their trust is as important as their safety. We must never fail either again."

William Adama

Commencement Address to class of 2148

Terran Fleet Command Academy

Tycho City, Luna

It must be easier for them.

That was all William Adama could think as he gazed through the crack of his partially open hatch, and into the corridor beyond. A man requires hope to keep going when his world collapses around him, and he could at least rest knowing he had provided them with something to fuel that need. Deep down, he had questioned his decision to knowingly deceive - no, to lie - to his crew. They had trusted him, and he had betrayed that trust to keep them going. Had he underestimated their resolve? After witnessing the lengths they were willing to go to for him, as well as each other, he just wasn't sure if it had all been necessary. This was the crux of his dilemma - the one that wouldn't allow him to rest despite the bone-deep weariness threatening to overtake him.

A soldier fights to protect his home, his family, his way of life! In one cataclysmic moment all of those reasons had ceased to be. He had known, with complete certainty, that when the adrenaline wound down and the truth set in, they would falter, and eventually stop functioning. What real hope did they have beyond immediate survival? A man's survival will only motivate him so long, before the stress becomes too much, and he stops trying to outrun the inevitable. Even begins to welcome it, just to end the running.

So he gave them a hope - a goal - and decided that if the human race survived, then history would be his judge. Then Kobol, and his world

changed. He still couldn't say with any certainty that he believed in Earth, but for the first time, he wasn't entirely sure that he didn't. They might have a hope after all - as distant as it may seem. Part of his mind tried to tell him the shift was only a subconcious effort to alleviate his own guilt. If he believed in it, then he wouldn't feel he had lied to them.

"It's more than that!" Suddenly his chair could no longer contain the torrent of emotional turmoil boiling inside him anymore. Surging to his feet, he decided to fix himself a drink in a vain attempt to calm the restlesness within. It wasn't often he got down-time, and he really should be sleeping. Doc Cottle would have puppies if he caught him drinking this early in his recovery, but he would be even angrier if Adama showed up with bags under his eyes yet again.

It was that moment his XO decided to march into his office with an arm full of papers and that perpetual scowl etched across his visage. It occured the the Commander that his oldest friend would look naked without it, a disturbing thought to say the least.

"Damn Saul, can you smell this from anywhere on the ship?" Adama grabbed a second tumbler from the drawer and filled it halfway with the amber liquid, sliding it across the desk to his old friend with practiced ease.

"Just lucky I guess." Tigh growled out from deep within his throat, picking up the offered glass and falling into the chair opposite his Commander. His brows furrowed when he inhaled the rich aroma wafting up from the potent beverage - it was certainly the good stuff. "What's the occasion?"

"Couldn't sleep. I'm afraid this fleet is poised to tear itself apart Saul, and i'll be damned if I know how to keep it together." The liquid brought a pleasant warmth as it blazed it's firey path down his throat to settle deep in his gut.

"Everyone is tired of just trying to survive. We know we can't turn the tide in this thing, we only fight when we're attacked. We've developed a defeatist mentality that's contrary to every bone in these people's bodies!" He was on his feet again, grabbing a file from the top of an ever-growing stack and tossing it into a startled Tigh's hands. Had

the Colonel not already drained his glass, it would have been in his lap. "Two more suicide attempts, and twelve discipline cases in the last week! Those that don't want to blow their own heads off want to take someone else's off bare-handed."

"I wouldn't call that mess with Specialist Cally a suicide attempt. It's not hard to end up with alcohol poisoning when it's your first time sampling the Chief's latest chemistry project." He couldn't help the smirk, but immediatly regretted it after a warning look from Adama. "I know it's bad. I can see the writing on the wall as clear as you. But what, short of a miracle, are we going to do to fix it?"

The commander eyed him ruefully over the rim of his glass as he finished it in a single gulp. "A miracle would do just the trick Saul... just the trick."

3 days later

"If I thought it would make that mug of yours any easier to look at Hotdog, I would take the shot." Kara Thrace's reply was muffled by the ever present cigar butt dangling between her full lips, waggling playfully with every word. "But as it stands, kicking nugget ass is all the intoxicant I need. Besides, our lovely CAG has me on a scouting run as of 0530," With a flourish and a patented Starbuck grin, the cards fell onto the table to a chorus of groans and disbelieving snorts. "Full colors ladies, pay up!"

Hotdog downed the shot he had been offering Kara, groaning as she scooped the large pot into her steadily growing pile. "I say it's just unfr.. unfair to get us all liquored up and then hustle us. After all, you are in a posititition.. position of authority! At least have the good taste to kill a few million brain cells with us."

"And someone just got himself cut off." Lee Adama swooped in and grabbed the glass jar from Hotdog's hand before pouring it into his own with a wicked smile. Costanza's look of indignation was just a feather in Apollo's cap, and precipitated a condescending wink in response. "Captain's privilege, nugget."

Kara was thrilled to see Lee 'letting his hair down' more frequently as of late. Until recently, she was convinced they would need deep core equiptment to extract the stick from her best friend's ass. She wasn't sure if it had been his short stint as a rebel, or her continued influence that had finally allowed him to explore life on the edge, but either way

she was grateful for the change.

She would never admit it to Lee, but she also hoped her safe return with the arrow was helping fuel the change. His 'enthusiastic' greeting had definitely been an uncharacteristic, if welcome, turn of events. Starbuck hadn't noticed how long her eyes had lingered on the focus of her musings, until he tilted his head up from the cards he was shuffling and hit her with that thousand-watt smile. Attempting to recover gracefully from her potential faux pas, Kara smirked around her cigar and put on her best 'annoyed face'. "Don't you think those are ragged enough without three minutes of shuffling for every hand?"

"Gotta make sure you didn't stack the deck Starbuck."

"Like I need to stack the deck to whomp your asses out the nearest airlock." It amazed Lee how genuinely insulted she managed to sound at his 'insinuation'.

"Come on Kara, i've known you longer than anyone else here, and NO ONE can be that lucky all the time." Sliding the stack of cards over for Dualla to cut, Lee hammered down another shot of the Chief's engine mash.

"Commandment one Apollo: 'Thou shalt never question the all-powerful Starbuck's luck.' "

Lee managed to keep his face straight through most of the mock-fight,

but at that he burst out laughing. "Starbuck's luck, Starbuck's luck, Starbuck's luck, Starbuck's... Gods it's lost all meaning." As the looks he was getting from around the table registered he glanced down at the glass jar in his hand and it's innocuous, but undeniably potent, clear contents. "What the hell does he put in this? Tyllium?"

Kara took the jar from Lee's hands and passed it to Kat with an infuriating smirk. "And someone just got himself cut off." Kara whispered into Lee's ear before helping him stand. As Apollo's best friend and 'Right Hand', it was her unspoken duty to help him save face - especially when surrounded by a room full of impressionable nuggets. "All right kiddies, i'll be dropping off the bossman and hitting my rack. Those of you on CAP tomorrow had better not be far behind."

It was to a chorus of boo's and hisses that she made her way through the hatch and down the deserted hallway with her CAG hanging over one shoulder. Considering their size difference, it was an awkward way to travel, but Kara didn't want to explain to any unfortunate bystanders why the good Captain was bouncing off the bulkheads.

Starbuck didn't begrudge him letting loose this once, he was usually so uptight and by the book that she figured he had earned it. They walked, or rather hobbled, in silence until they were about half the distance to the crew quarters. It was Lee who first broke the companionable silence in a mumbled voice that Starbuck had to strain to hear.

"Your hair... it smells great." His voice was husky, his breath brushing the side of her neck and sending a shiver scurrying down her spine, inappropriate thoughts chasing said shiver with alarming speed.

"You sir, are drunk. I've been using the same military-issued, antiseptic smelling shit you have." Kara forced a laugh, straining her will in an attempt to keep her body in check with Lee's form molded to her own.

"I never said your shampoo smelled good." He stopped their forward motion and moved her around to face him, an odd look flooding those impossibly blue eyes. "I said your hair smells good. It smells like you."

He leaned in slowly, and Kara shocked herself as much as she did him by failing to pull away. She could feel her back hit the bulkhead as she parted her lips to allow him access, a warm pool settling low between her hips. The taste was bitter from the bathtub concoction he had been drinking, but underneath was something undeniably Lee. She could feel the kiss becoming more and more frantic, until Lee broke it off in order to trace a firey path down her jaw line, planting kisses along her collarbone.

Her eyes fell to his when he pulled back suddenly, and she could see tears welling at the corners. Ignoring the pang of loss that swept through her at the movement, she forced her mind to focus on the once mundane task of forming words. "What's wrong?"

She moved a hand instinctively to his cheek in an effort to swipe away the wetness marring his face. Kara could feel the muscles in his jaw clenching and unclenching in typical Lee fashion - not a good sign. He was trying to work through something, and wouldn't spit it out until he had the right words.

"Don't you ever leave me like that again." It came out in a rush, and he kissed her again, filled with passion and the elemental fear of loss. Kara let her hands slide down his sides to his waist, about to pull him closer when he retreated again - a forlorn look marring his features. "But you never said it back.."

"You repeated it.. but you never said it back." With that he turned and left her alone in the hall, feeling stunned and with an unexplainable sinking in her chest. A small voice clawed it's way from her throat as she sank to the floor and thumped her head backwards into the bulkhead.

"But I love you too."

Next day 1330

Starbuck hated being out of her Viper. Hell, she would rather tongue-polish Tigh's boots than be out of the cockpit for an extended period. But while she hated flying a Raptor, it's sensors were pretty

much a necessity for scouting missions, and at least she could stretch her knee when necessary. After more than seven hours of flight time, they were prepping to make their fourth and final jump before returning to the fleet. The sector of space they were headed to held only a binary white dwarf system with two planets in tight orbit, one of which might have water deposits in the form of giant glaciers littering it's surface.

They had to jump in-system, identify the makeup of the glaciers, and jump out. Then it was all warm beds, bad food, and a much needed chance to talk to Lee after last night's drunken fiasco. She knew she had to say something when he'd told her he loved her, but rubbing his face in it had obviously been a big mistake. Kara had just been too shocked to say anything else. 'Lee Adama loves me! Lee Adama Loves me!' Starbuck had wanted nothing more in that moment than to tell him exactly how she felt, which happened to be the same way he did. Fear and shock had kept her emotional armor up though, and a stinging retort has sprung from her lips before heart had mastered mind in their ongoing conflict.

She was only brought back to reality by Helo's voice coming from the ECO station over her shoulder. "FTL primed, we are go at your command ."

"Lets finish our rounds and call it a day Helo." Checking her readouts one last time, Starbuck gave him a thumbs up.

"Sound good to me 'Buck, engaging."

They both felt the telltale pull grip their spines before the scenery around them reorganized itself into their destination system. Impossibly bright light filtered through the cockpit window, reflecting off of Kara's controls and causing her faceplate to tint in compensation. "I'm reading two white dwarfs, a gas giant, and a dense planetoid. Looks like the right place, Starbuck."

"Setting course for the planetoi..." She broke off into a hushed silence that scared Helo more than if she'd screamed. That's when his instruments finally told him what she was seeing, and he could feel his blood run cold in response. Five Basestars loomed over the equator of the gas giant, their spiny hulls outlined by the hellish light reflecting from the swirling clouds of red and yellow gasses. "Engaging emergency evasive manuvers! How long until we can jump?"

Helo's voice sounded eerily calm as he turned to face her. "We lost a cooling line in the last jump. The system is rerouting to compensate, but if we jump again before it has a chance to cool our FTL generator will go critical."

"Gods Helo, I didn't ask for a systems check, I asked how frakking long!?" Tossing a glare over her shoulder, Kara punched the engines and veered away from the enemy capital ships.

"Twelve minutes." The finality in his voice cut through the language barrier and delivered his silent message loud and clear: they were frakked.

"How long until the Raiders from those Basestars can overrun us?"

"Four minutes."

"That's bad."

"It had occured to me."

"I'm going to get us as far away as I can before they launch Raiders, let me know as soon as they start swarming."

"That's the thing Kara, i'm not picking up any launches." He leaned closer to his display, eyes widening further. "In fact, i'm not getting any electronic readings at all. Starbuck.. they're dead in space."

"Are you sure?" Fighting the urge to inspect the console for herself, she tried to goad as much power out of the engines as she could. If this was a trap she was determined to avoid it.

"We've been in-system four minutes now, and they haven't made a move. I'm not even picking up signal traffic. And I can garun-frakking-tee you that if we can see them, they can see us."

Starbuck stood up from the pilot's seat and made her way over to check the read-outs for herself. "But their hulls show only superficial damage; nothing to explain this kind of failure. I'm not even picking up radiation from them, so we can rule nukes out."

Something odd caught her eye for a fleeting moment, but disappeared before she could be sure it had ever been there in the first place. "What is that?" Her hand moved to a point at the upper right hand of the screen but the blip faded out again before she got halfway there. Seconds later it reappeared, but this time a few centimeteres lower. "What the frak IS that?"

"I don't know, it seems to be some kind of sensor ghost. I've been getting them since we entered the system. It's probably just our own sensor pulses reflecting off the atmosphere of that gas giant." Helo's voice was dubious, as if even he didn't fully believe the words coming out of his mouth.

"Then why does it seem to be getting closer?" Starbuck could feel pinpricks racing across her nerve-endings from fingers to toes, there was something going on here.

"It's not. Wait.. it wasn't doing that a minute ago." Punching keys frantically, Karl tried to filter out the distortion without much success.

"The big one still hasn't moved Helo, but now there are smaller ones heading right for us!" Diving back into the pilot's seat, Kara's eyes darted around for any sign of an incoming enemy. "How long until the FTL is cool enough to jump?"

"Six more minutes."

"ETA on those blips."

"Arrrrggghh.. dammit! They keep jumping around! I can't be sure if the one reappearing is the same one that disappeared, or a new contact! It could be anywhere from two to eight minutes."

"Can you at least tell me how many are out there?"

"No dice. Same problem - they only seem to reflect our signals when they're maneuvering!"

"You're not helping Helo!"

"I'm just telling you the truth, boss. Five minutes until FTL, and they're getting close."

Starbuck was quickly preparing for evasive action when the first craft

screamed past them on the port side. Climbing from below her field of view, then up and around until it inverted and came to a sudden and complete stop, facing them about a hundred meters off their nose. It moved like a frakking Viper, but sure didn't look like one. It was flatter on top, with sloped-back wings that appeared to have creases for extending in atmospheric flight. The nose was pointed rather than the blunt snub of a Viper, expanding up into a tinted cockpit. Just below the nose sat a circular chamber, a multi-barreled gun spinning in menacing readiness. The shape of the missles nestled beneath the wings and fuselage were unmistakable in their deadly purpose.

Spotlights flashed out from the wings just off the cockpit, playing over the Raptor's hull as the fighter edged closer on a slow inspection course.

"Kara. Starbuck!" Helo's voice snapped her out of her examination of the jet-black craft approaching them and she focused on her ECO. "I'm picking up wireless transmissions from the craft."

"Well, patch it through already." Denying the sinking feeling that currently had a death grip on her stomach, Starbuck hoped her words had come out with sufficient confidence.

A few seconds passed before static sprang from her ear pickup, and then a human voice. "..intentions over any radio channel. Repeat: This is Lieutenant Ribek of the Terran Confederation to unidentified vessel, please state your origin and intentions over any radio channel."

Kara's arm felt numb as she reached for the comm switch on the panel in front of her. After switching it on with a shaking hand, she took a deep breath in a vain attempt to steady her voice. "This is Lieutenant Kara Thrace of the Colonial Military, our intentions are peaceful. We were scouting this section of space for possible resources." Good, she hadn't told them she was from the fleet, but if they were cylons then they would already know that. But, if they were Cylons, why hadn't they already blasted them out of the sky?

"Lieutenant Thrace, we've already had the pleasure of picking up a few ships of refugees fleeing from Colonial space. We are aware of your situation. We just needed to confirm your identities before allowing you aboard."

Kara sputtered across the microphone, but didn't see she had much choice, surrounded by an unknown number of fighters they couldn't even track. Making a command decision derived primarily from a total lack of options, Starbuck nodded to herself.

"Lead the way, Ribek."