Adama stared at the horizon just beyond the mountains. He found that the tranquility of his surroundings gave him some measure of peace, at least; his son, already a thousand miles away, was desperate to overcome his own crippling pain by losing himself in the wilderness, both of them engulfed by their grief, both of them whispering an old lament for two very different women, wishing they could have her again just one more day.
The new communities were scattered across almost every continent. Many of the people who had once called themselves Colonials survived, in a fashion; their blood eventually mingled with that of the indigenous humans. And in time, many of their own names and those of their gods were adopted by their new brethren, sometimes even glorified as originating from the nascent earthly civilisations themselves. But across the ages, some of their largest settlements faded or were wiped out completely, due to natural disasters, or dwindling resources that they no longer had the technology to overcome, or indeed due to those most basic and universal human characteristics, the lust for power and the brutality of war.
Huge fortified cities, built several millennia after the Colonials’ arrival and far more advanced than most of their contemporaries, flourished, died and were written into legend, like the vanished rivers nearby. Colossal ruins of stone walls and roads, too regular and organised to occur naturally, ended up submerged deep underwater at the western edge of the planet’s largest ocean. And the most famous kingdom of all, named after a long-destroyed flagship Battlestar, was itself devastated in a single day and night as some of the old hubris had inevitably returned.
The survivors tried to preserve what remained of the old knowledge for as long as they could, attempting to document everything as per Adama’s orders so many years earlier, combining the teachings of their ancestral faith with the terrible lessons their forefathers had learned. As empires rose and fell across the Earth, some listened, but many did not, and the wise found themselves weeping as they witnessed the same mistakes being made again and again, until centuries later their own descendents no longer knew what tragedies had originally inspired such heartbreaking poetry. Still less the joyous music which was like listening to the sun rise and moved many to tears, triggered by feelings of inexplicable longing and a vague sense of recognition, but which never did seem as though it truly belonged to this world.
Hymns that originated on the other side of the galaxy were sung by holy men travelling with tribes of horsemen during generations of migrations, spreading across lands that were now strange, unfamiliar, unmapped, their oral traditions keeping fragments of those scriptures alive. Even as they stared at the night-sky and wondered what lay there, they had forgotten why they found their gaze inexorably drawn towards the stars, or the fact that soon after their arrival, their ancestors had given the constellations certain names so that every glance at the heavens would be a silent tribute to the Fallen.
Half-remembered histories passed into mythology, at first revered, and eventually ridiculed and dismissed as the backward superstitions of delusional, ignorant fools. Many of those who could not bear to believe in the remnants of the truth would have surrendered to their own unspoken doubts, were it not for something ephemeral, intangible protecting them from the nightmare, urging them not to let go; like a senile old man on his death-bed, haunted by the knowledge that he had loved a woman deeply, passionately, yet remembering nothing about her, finding himself screaming in the night, suddenly wide awake, her name always just beyond his reach.
Even the destruction of the Colonials’ remaining spacecraft, plunged into their new home’s sun like a sacrifice to the gods, was emulated by their distant successors as they made their offerings to the sacred fires; the source of the story now lost, like almost everything else, except for an unyielding instinct that somehow, somewhere, there had once been so much more.
15,000 YEARS AFTER THE ARRIVAL
NEW YORK CITY – THE PRESENT DAY
Head-Six and Head-Baltar slowly walked down the centre of Manhattan, unheard and unseen by the chaotic crowd around them. It was a beautiful day; they found themselves soaking in the atmosphere, the impatience, the diversity of the people inhabiting this great city.
“Remind you of anywhere ?”
*as in finale
Head-Six waved her hand expansively, unshakeably confident in her own beliefs, as always. “This is all part of God’s plan”.
Head-Baltar lowered his voice, frowning. “You know It doesn’t like to be called that”, he said, briefly gesturing upwards with his eyes.
Head-Six smiled, gently disapproving, arching an eyebrow at his impertinence.
Head-Balter rolled his eyes, unwilling to have this particular argument with her yet again. Some things never changed.
“Of course”, he muttered, shaking his head. “Silly, silly me”.
They resumed their stroll. Head-Baltar looked around at the people hurrying through the streets, so familiar, and yet not; blissfully unaware of the past, blind to what had really happened. He could not decide whether to feel sympathy towards them or merely detached amusement.
Lost in his own thoughts, Head-Baltar did not realise that Head-Six had paused outside a restaurant about a minute earlier, her intuition drawing her closer, as she peered through the darkened windows. The scent of spices filled the air outside the crowded building, already full of customers despite it being the middle of the afternoon. She could hear the music quite clearly; the melody itself did not bear even the faintest resemblance to the original source despite already being archaic, but the words were unmistakeable, even after a dozen translations.
Aum bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
Tat savitur vareṇyaṃ
Bhargo devasya dhīmahi
Dhiyo yo naḥ prachodayāt.....
Head-Six’s sardonic mask slipped. She never forgot anything, of course.
She closed her eyes for a few seconds, remembering that life here began out there, a momentary prayer for those who were the first to call themselves human.
Her long strides meant she caught up with her companion quickly, both of them uncharacteristically silent as they faded into the distance, swallowed up by the sound of traffic and the masses jostling around them; but they could still hear the ancient hymn from Kobol lingering in the air, an echo of paradise, like perfume in the wind.
Thank you. That was a lovely alternative ending.