Word count: ~1050
Notes: Written for twelvecolonies for the crossover fic challenge.
"Listen up!" Lee positioned himself beside the Raptor and waited for the others to gather around. "You all know the drill. Galactica wants samples of everything--soil, water, plants. You see it, you bag it. Stay close to your partner, because we don't know what's out there. Be back here in two hours. Anyone who manages to get lost is going to be nothing but shuttle runs for the next month."
The group fanned out in different directions, moving forward in single-file, leaving behind trampled trails in the waist-high purple grass.
"You don't think they're really going to try setting up another colony, do you?" Kara asked from behind him.
Lee shoved down more grass. "I don't know. I think right now the main concern is supplementing our food supply. The algae planet helped, but the fleet could stand to have a little extra." He stopped as the grass shifted abruptly from purple to blue, and clipped a sample of the new plant. "Besides, wouldn't you like to eat something other than processed algae for a change?"
Kara fingered a blade of the blue grass. "Algae's not so bad."
Lee cast a quick grin at her. "Well, maybe not after what passed for food on New Caprica," he teased, and then cursed himself when he saw her wince. He wondered again just what Leoben Conoy had done to her on New Caprica. He tried for a change in topic. "We needed to stop anyway. Some of the civilian ships were damaged in that...storm. Or whatever it was we passed through. They need time to make repairs."
"Yeah, well, maybe we'll get lucky and the storm will wipe out the whole Cylon fleet."
The grass had progressed to orange and ankle-high when they stumbled across the remnants of the camp.
"Gods." Kara crouched down beside the pile of ashes and charred wood. "There are people here." She looked up at him. "You don't think...is this Earth?"
"I don't know." Lee pulled out his radio. "Team One to all other teams. We've found signs of intelligent life. Keep your eyes open. Report if you find anything." He felt Kara's hand on his arm.
He followed her gaze. Two children had emerged from the tall red grass beyond the camp, and were standing hand-in-hand a short distance away, watching them warily.
Lee put his radio away slowly, and smiled, trying to appear non-threatening. "Hello," he said. The children took a step backwards.
"Let me try," Kara said quietly. She took a few steps forward and knelt down. "I'm Kara," she said softly. "What are your names?"
The children turned and fled into the red grass.
Kara straightened up. "Great," she said. "We'll never find them in there."
"We can go back and pick up the Raptor," Lee said. "If there's a town of some sort, we should be able to spot it from--" He stopped at the sound of a high-pitched whine and looked up automatically. A small, needle-nosed ship appeared on the horizon.
"That's not Cylon," Kara said uncertainly, squinting against the sun.
The ship changed direction, heading directly toward them. They both drew their guns and took aim.
"Maybe we'd better get out of here," Lee suggested when the ship showed no sign of slowing. The radio squawked to life.
"Team Three under attack. Repeat, Team Three under attack. Attackers are not known. Gods, Bigtop just disappeared! They've got some sort of energy beam. I don't--" The transmission was interrupted by gunfire.
A focused blue light appeared beneath the ship bearing down on them. Kara grabbed his arm.
They raced across the orange clearing and dove into the red grass. They took a few stumbling steps, they then fell to their hands and knees and began crawling through the grass. Lee couldn't see the enemy ship; he hoped fervently that the ship was equally blind.
Kara froze ahead of him. "What is it?" Lee asked, moving up beside her.
The children they'd seen early were huddled together, holding each other tightly.
"We won't hurt you," Kara said. She pointed up at the sky. "Do you know who they are?"
The older of the children--a girl who looked to be about ten--said something in a language Lee didn't recognize.
"Where are you from?" Kara asked. "Where do you live?"
"I don't think they understand," Lee said. He pulled out his radio. "Team One to Team Three. How are you doing, Racetrack?"
"The ship's gone," came the shaky reply. "They took Bigtop with them. What the frak are those things?"
"I don't know," Lee replied. "We ran into one ourselves. We're waiting for it to go, then heading back to base. Everyone else, get back there as soon as you can."
"Lee," Kara interrupted him. The younger of the children was tugging on her hand. "I think they want us to follow them."
"I don't know..." He rose up on his knees cautiously, pushing aside the grass and scanning the sky for the ship.
"There could be people hurt out there."
"All right," he said, crouching down again. "I think the ship's gone. Let's see what's out there, and then we'll regroup."
The village the children led them to looked relatively untouched, apart from the complete absence of people.
"What the hell happened here?" Kara asked. She turned slowly, surveying the eerily empty houses. "There are no bodies anywhere. Why would they take everyone?"
"Maybe they all ran," Lee said, walking slowly from house to house. He paused by the large ring that dominated the central square. "What do you think this is? Some sort of religious artefact?"
"I don't know." Kara came over and looked down at the nearby pedestal and its panel of buttons. "I think the symbols match. Maybe it's some sort of communication device?"
"Maybe," Lee said. "I think we'd better get back to the Raptor, and talk to Galactica. We need a whole team here."
Kara glanced down at the two children waiting in patient silence. "What do we do with them?"
Lee shrugged. "Take them with us until we figure out what happened to their parents?"
"Right. Okay, kids, I guess you're with us."
She and Lee began walking. After a moment, the children trailed after them, still silent.
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