Category Archives: Shmuel Bogomolny’s Battlestar Mercury

Chapter 52: A better rescue plan

Chapter 52: Operation misdirect.

Admiral Cobb sat in a chair at a rectangular table with six of his “senior” commanders. Though Major Maria Ramirez did not feel senior, she was there because se was he XO and temporary commander of the most powerful warship in the fleet.

When he cleared his throat to speak, everyone immediately became silent.

“I have received confirmation that as of today, day seven of the third month of our exile from the colonies, that all information hat was in Eva Lawson’s head is useless to the Cylons. All codes, encryption and communications protocol have been changed. All tactical plans have been changed.”

“In addition it has become obvious that our strategy has gradually moved from one of causing maximum pain to the Cylons to one of defending fixed points. Major Ramirez was able to guess the location of 11 of our refuge locations merely by analyzing communications traffic and scientific scan data a various jump points that had become unstable due to over use.” He nodded acknowledgment to

her and she smiled back.

“If our hackers can figure this out then the Cylons can as well. We are going to move all the refugee centers during the next three weeks. We have formed a civilian fleet with approximately 70,000 souls to head into deep space, to be mobile, hard to strike and to search for a new home, away from the Cylons.”

“We are going to return to our roots,” he continued. “While continuing to compromise the Cylon network while we assault their weak points. Tylium mines, refineries, shipyards, everything will be hit while we make them think we have forgotten about Eva Lawson. When we have them distracted that is when we make the strike and get her back. Our plan is to use a small, agile strike force. We are not going to announce ourselves with the spectacle of a Mercury class ship jumping in.”

“What will be our operational cadence?” A young looking man with viper wings on his uniform blues, asked.

“We have divided the fleet into nine operational squadrons. Three will be assigned to defend the mobile shipyard, the civilian fleet and the grounded civilians. That duty will rotate every week. The six squadrons assigned to hit the Cylons will have operational independence to plan and execute their strikes. Each squadron will be expected to conduct 14 operations a week. My staff here will pick half the targets. The rest will be at the discretion of the squadron commanders.”

“Won’t this take a toll on readiness and equipment Admiral?” Ramirez asked, echoing the complaints she had heard on the wireless.

“We will assign the ships most in need of repair to defend the shipyard,” Cobb answered. “The Mercury will undergo hull repair and replacement of damaged armor as it is assigned to the shipyard the first week.”

“But Sir,” Ramirez protested, “the crew want to be out in the fight making a difference in the battle to recover Commander Lawson.|

“The chain of command is not a democracy,” Cobb replied, changing his position with obvious pain and effort. “We have 90 pilots assigned to flight training in your VR suites. You will do the most for your commander, getting rest and letting us restore your ship to peak readiness. Understood?”

Ramirez stood and saluted. “Yes sir!” For a moment, she felt motivated.

“Go out there and frak the Cylons up!” Cobb roared with uncharacteristic vigor.

“So say we all!” The nine squadron commanders said in unison.

“So say we all!” Cobb answered.

* * *

Squadron two strike mission Day 10 of the forth month of the second Cylon war.

“Valkyrie one reporting jump ready.” The radio crackled in Admiral Cobb’s spartan office.

“Valkyrie two. Board is green. Jump key inserted, ready to jump.”

“Apollo, last of the Minerva class reports jump ready.”

“Defender one reports jump ready.”

“Jump!”

The five ships disappeared off the DRADIS screen on Cobb’s desk. His hand shaking badly, he reached for a bottle of pills.

* * *

On the bridge of the Valkyrie named Blackbird, Sheila William’s a thirty-eight year old former raptor pilot who had left the Colonial fleet three years ago, stared at the DRADIS screen seeing the other four ships in her strike group. Absently, she had her right hand fiddling with the pony tail in her light brown hair.

She was a draftee to this new fleet pondering her remarkable good luck. Three weeks ago she was in a refugee camp being overrun by the Sun Spot virus, hiding in her tent, not even going out for food. A Colonial officer, with a representative from the peoples council had showed up at her tent and made clear to her she was rejoining the Colonial fleet.

She had made a good living as a civilian pilot after leaving the service.

“Nothing on DRADIS,” the DRADIS officer reported before three triple beeps announced the arrival of three Cylon ships. “Three Talon class ships. On an intercept course to the refinery.”

“Let’s intercept them. Flank speed ahead. Launch all vipers. Ready nuclear weapons.” Williams was feeling like the job fit a little better. She had lost a husband and a toddler to the Cylons. Now it was time to make it hurt for them.

“We have five refineries on DRADIS!”

“I’ve got another trio of Talon carriers jumping in. This is a high traffic zone,” This was Apollo actual over the wireless.

“Commence attack pattern,” Williams ordered. She stared intently at the DRADIS display. The ship shook as heavy fire was exchanged between the five Colonial ships and the six talons.

“This is Eagle actual. We have a missile lock on refinery three. Firing.”

“Splash one Talon class,” interrupted a voice on the wireless.

“Apollo is taking heavy fire. Taking evasive action.”

“Contact,” DRADIS announced. “Three base stars, CBDR, but they are really far off.”

“Inbound unguided missile salvo,” reported the tactical operator.

“Evade left. Full defensive profile. Turn on flak.” Williams looked up and saw something she did not like in the air wing’s formation. “CAG pull back, stay out of the Talon’s broadside firing zone.”

“Splash refinery target number five.” A voice crackled with static.

“This is Vulture, we have a shot at the closest base star. Releasing nuclear weapon.”

“Eagle taking heavy fire.”

“This is Apollo actual. Armor bravo. We have damage and casualties. Request….”

“Jump now!” Williams ordered.

“Top guns bearing on refinery number 3.Firing,” the weapons operator reported.

Seconds later a camera went white as the Tylium detonated.

“We have more base stars jumping in. Now they are jumping out. Take that toasters, your gas station is closed.|”

“Refinery two splashed!” An excited voice declared.

“All targets destroyed.”

“Recall all vipers.”

“Combat landings are authorized,” the LSO announced over the wireless.

“Spool up FTL!” Williams ordered.

“All warships are showing board is green,” William’s XO, who was actually an NCO, a Master Chief.

“Vipers are recovering,” said the LSO. “We need another two minutes to recover our birds.”

“Cylons are jumping away,” DRADIS reported. The board was suddenly clean.

“Stand down condition one,” Williams’ shoulders relaxed. “All ships send damage assessment to the flagship.”

‘Flagship’ she thought. ‘I like the sound of that.’

Chapter 51: The simulation


Andrew Cobb was an older man, the years had taken their toll on him. He was tall, with an athletic build. What little hair he had on the sides of h is head were white.

He stood up when Major Ramirez walked into his office at the busy mobile shipyard. He moved slowly, as if every physical task was causing him pain. The first impression on the Major was that she had lost a lot of weight. Her uniform, immaculately pressed hung very loosely on her small frame,

“Commander,” she snapped to attention and saluted crisply.

“At ease,” he gestured toward a chair which Maria Ramirez sank into gratefully. She had not slept in days.

“The first question everybody has is ‘where did they dig this guy up?” From the looks of me, many guess the cemetery.” 

Ramirez barely suppressed a chuckle because she had been thinking that exact thing.

“I have a neurological disorder, its incurable and progressive. The Colonial fleet discharged me, a forced retirement two years ago.” 

“Sorry to hear about your condition sir,” she said politely

“My doctors say I could live another twenty years, but I doubt the Cylons will let that happen.”

Maria Ramirez had read his dossier and was impressed. He was a decorated first war Viper mk.2 and mk.3 pilot. He had risen to the command of the Battlestar Columbia, a Mercury Class built twenty years after he end of the first Cylon war. His file had not given the reason for his medical discharge. He had been teaching at the war college when he had failed his physical and been forced into retirement.

“Let me start by commending you on the way you frakked up the Cylons after your commander was abducted. It was great work for an IT professional. There were some gaps in your command, but you clearly demonstrated a command of the basics. I will assign someone to go over your tactical decisions at a later time.”

“Yes Commander.”

Looking like an absent minded professor, with slow, painful movements, Andrew Cobb took a look at the desk. There was a rank insignia there. 

“Please excuse me Admiral,”

“It’s not a problem. That gasbag housewife who runs the peoples council wants to make sure I can give Eva Lawson orders.”

“I am sure you did not read the XO handbook, but letting your commander go out to visit a patrol ship was a pretty serious mistake. Remember that when you XO puts you in the brig to keep you on your Battlestar.”

“Now that rescue mission you launched was quite foolish. You deliberately ignored my orders and you lost nearly a hundred marines when that Cylon base star jumped away.”

“Yes Admiral,” Ramirez replied sheepishly.

The elderly man’s eyes narrowed, his expression harsh. “If you ever ignore my orders again, you will end up peeling potatoes in your ships mess hall.”

“:Yes Sir.”

“When we get her back, you will be transferred to take the Saturn out. We need another few months to finish that ship.”

“Thank you Sir.|

“Don’t thank me yet Major,” his hard angry look softened to a grandfather’s smile. You have a fully trained crew on Mercury. Everyone has at least graduated from basic training. We have been given a pool of 10,000 recruits to help crew the Colonial fleet we are building. Many of those people are pretty pissed off they got drafted. One of them tried to beat the crap out of her highness Mrs. Cory Brooks.”

“If you don’t mind my saying so, sir” Ramirez gulped.”You don’t seem to have a lot of respect for the civilian government.”

Cobb literally roared as he leaned back in his chair and laughed heartily “Of course not. They picked me to command this fleet. It takes me a half an hour to get out of bed and go to the head.”

“Oh I see.”

‘If we are going to win this war, we need to get your commander back. That being said, we are getting a lot of data from your hack of the Cylon network. That was great work.I am assigning you five hundred marines, two Valkyrie class ships and the Solaria. We just got her out of dry dock. She has two working flight pods again. We have unloaded the civilians and had her scrubbed from end to end for this sunspot virus. The sanitary conditions on board that ship were horrendous. I’ve got a captain in charge of that ship.”

“We got intel on the location of Commander Lawson. It is unverified but she will be transferred to a prison on Caprica in three days.”

“I understand,” Admiral Cobb said. ‘The other reason we did not fire you is we don’t have anybody to take your place. You have 60 new pilots aboard. You should have enough supplies to reactivate vipers for them.”

“Thank you Sir.”

“We are sending an elite team to try and verify the information provided by the hack. Until then to the simulator with you.”

“Yes Sir.” Never being much on military protocol, she stood up and saluted.

* * *

Major Mria Ramirez huddled with the three other captains just outside the simulator room/ None of them had any significant combat experience since the first Cylon war.

“Okat, Major Ramirez said, “We have got to get ID on the base star that is holding the commander. Then we hit the others with everything we have. 

The Cylons want a prolonged, viscous attack because they are taking the long view. They want to fight a war of attrition because they have the resources and replacements and we don’t. We have to inflict massive destruction and high casualties.           

The simulations were normally one or two ships captains, with an illegal AI interface running the Cylons and smaller Colonial ships.              

This strike force consisted of 1 Mercury, 1 Juipiter, two Valkyries and two Orion class, recently rehabbed and brought to duty.

The commanders of each of the six ships were in Mercury VR suites designed to train pilots.

The computer took care of executing air operations. The commander controlled the course their ship, toggle flak on and off along with weapons fire.

The Orion was a stealth ship which could run on battery power and sneak up on the enemy and ambush them with huge torpedo salvos.

“Jump complete,” Ramerirez reported and then ordered the check in. “All ships check in.”

After this was done taking entirely too much time, Ramirez began executing her tactical plan. 

“DRADIS” droned the computer voice, “contact. 4 base stars, two smaller carriers.”

“Launching raiders,” announced Orion commander 1.

“I have 4 squadrons of heavy raiders,’ Solaria’s commander announced. “Expect borders. Wait also wardrivers jamming squadrons, looks like 4 and 16 squadrons of raiders.”

“Oriions maintain stealth and dive rate. All other ships make a  left turn and prepare for enemy ordinance. Launch all vipers and the Marine strike teams aboard raptors.”

The Launch reporting also took too long. The VR suite did not provide her the same information as the CIC. She found it very difficult to follow the course of the battle. The computer announced that the boarding party had landed on the target base star.

The VR suite did a fair job making noise and confusion when enemy ordinance struck. The room shook and communications were interrupted during heavy missile salvos. Both the Mercury and Solaria were damaged and hull integrity was compromised at a number of locations.

The Damage control protocols were realistic as well, then the heavy raiders boarded the Mercury. The Marines put up a spirited defense, but eventually every subsystem was damaged. Communications were garbled.

The pair of Valkyries joined the Orion’s and the air wing in taking out the Cylon base stars. In the end, two of them jumped out of weapons range, a pair of fresh base stars jumped in and the Marine strike force was killed in action.

:”All right,: Ramirez ordered. “Out of the VR suites.”

Everyone talked at once, a cacophony of voices all spoke at the same time.

“Listen up” Major Ramirez stomped a foot loudly to get their attention and silence. 

“We need surprise to make this work. We need better intelligence. This operation can not be allowed to risk a large portion of our fleet. I am going to propose a totally different plan to get her back. I am not giving up, let me make that clear. We need to distract the Cylons’ focus and make this operation come as a surprise. Prepare for new operations. Stand down and get your crews ready for action. Train for this. Get ready.”

* * *

The Interrogator Cavil walked into the cell, carrying a chair with him. He slammed it to the ground, stirring Commander Lawson, causing her fitful sleep to come to an end.

“Your friend’s have stopped trying to rescue you,” he taunted. 

Lawson raised her head off the floor and stared at the Cylon through eyes barely open, She had ugly infected bruises under her eyes. “How long have I been here?” She asked.

“Nine days,” Cavil replied. “You have been far from the model prisoner.”

“By now, all the access codes have been changed. The shipyard has been moved, and all the plans strategic and tactical are new. I don’t know anything that can help you. So kill me or send me back.”

Cavil smiled and laughed. “So your shipyard is mobile. We were not sure. Thanks.”

Lawson was angry with herself, until she remembered Cylon warships had witnessed the  last  jump. This was all part of the psychological game the toaster was playing.

Cavil took a white terrycloth robe and dumped it on the ground in front of her. “Put that on, we have decided to let you shower and clean up, so we can get some food in you. That way when we put you back it will be a bigger psychological shock.’

“No thank you,” Lawson raised her head, causing the chain connected to her steel collar to shake.

“What the frak?” He got down  on his knees and raised her chin and stared into her bruised and bloody face.

“This is like a resort for me. I like how you are treating me. I get off on being forced and helpless.” A slight grin spread on her face.

“Nobody can like what we;ve done to you.”

Lawson coughed and then let a bit of bloody spittle drip on to his hands. “I will admit, getting my head bashed and my face beaten is not exactly pleasant. But the other stuff  is a turn on. I haven’t been faking it.”

“You are a sick frak,” Cavil replied.

“You should read my service record. I was transferred off the Atantia and made CAG of Mercury because I frakked one of my subordinates. Admiral Nagumo’s son I believe.

“We have taken you off birth control. You could get pregnant.”

Lawson, feeling control for a moment went on the verbal attack. “I would cut any sick hybrid toaster out of my womb with my finger nails if I had to.”

Cavil, let go of her head, expecting her chin to fall on the cement floor. “Lets see how you feel after another  five hundred frakkings!”

“Bring it on.” She lunged at him, quickly being stopped by her chains. He jumped back, reflexively.

“Why you.”

“Got you toaster. Lawson one, appliance store reject zip!” She glared at him.

Chapter 50: Rescue attempt

“We are at the communications hub Major,” the technician who was a glorified geek that used to work for her when she was head of IT.

“Break in,” she ordered.

The man, in his early twenties with a non-regulation earring in his left ear lobe, was typing for about 55 seconds before he leaned back and announced success. “We are in.”

“Activate the hack,” Ramirez ordered.

“Aye aye skipper,” he announced. “It could take hours to get anything useful.”

“Get something useful sooner,” she ordered, knowing she might be asking the impossible.

A corporal, a young, dark skinned native of Scorpia stood at attention, waiting for the acting commander to finish.

Major Ramirez sighed, her rapidly thinning frame looking lost in her uniform. “What is it Corporal Ashley.”

“Ashman Sir,” she corrected gently. “We are being ordered back to fleet HQ.”

“Signal them that we are on a rescue mission for the Eagle.”

“Sir,” she corrected. “The Eagle jumped away when she was ambushed. She is at fleet HQ undergoing emergency repairs.”

“Send the signal. Stop acknowledging. Have someone go manually interrupt the cable into the computer network.”

“Sir,” she said, preparing to protest an illegal order. “Fleet Commander Andrew Cobb has ordered us back to fleet HQ.”

“Pay dirt,” the computer geek reported. “A base star with the same transponder as the one we think took the commander has orders to jump to a rally point.”

“When?” Major Ramirez asked.

“In ten minutes. We can get there first, get the drop on them.”

“CAG, prepare for combat jump and launch. I want recon birds out there in 3 minutes. They will jump ahead and make sure its not an ambush.”

The CAG, who was standing quietly in the commanders quarter because her superior officer was standing, spoke. “I’m sending force recon. Five assault raptors and two rescue.”

“Marine,” she gestured to her Marin shadow. “Prepare a strike force. We are going to assault the base star and get our commander back.”

“Yes Sir,” he turned and exited the commanders quarters.

“We are going back to CIC.” Everyone followed her. It was a three minute walk to CIC.

“Action stations,” she ordered. “Set condition one through out the ship. All vipers in the tubes, prepare for launch following a combat jump.”

Everyone went to work. They watched the screen anxiously as the recon force jumped away.

“How long” Ramirez asked, pacing impatiently. “Spool up FTL.”

Two very long minutes passed, before a single raptor showed up on DRADIS.

“This is Sausage. The way is clear. No base stars at the moment. The assault raptors are moving through the area to paint targets.”

“Jump back Sausage.”

“Combat jump. Now.”

When the dizziness wore off, Major Ramirez grabbed the table to keep from keeling over. These jumps were not having a good effect on her. She was more unsteady with every attempt.

“If the hack got good data they should be jumping in about now.” The hacker, who had followed the crowd into CIC reported.

Just a few seconds later the DRADIS emitted a series of triple beeps and showed unknown targets, which seconds later showed up as base stars. There were no squadrons, so it was unlikely the Cylons knew they were coming.

“Five base stars, they are launching raiders. Our target base star is with them.” Announced the tactical officer.

“They are in weapons range.”

“All batteries weapons free. Give us a course to bring the forward guns to bear on the base star nearest to our target. Launch the marine strike force.”

“We are taking heavy fire,” the tactical officer reported.

“Radiological alarm. Inbound nukes.”

“Flak full automatic,” Ramirez ordered. The roar from impacts on the armor drowned out voice communications.

“Three more base stars just jumped in.” DRADIS reported.

“The Marine strike force has entered the base star. They are encountering heavy resistance.” A marine was making reports while he monitored the communications.

“Two more nukes inbound.”

“Turn thirty degrees to port,” the acting commander ordered.

“They are jumping around trying to make it hard to track the ship we want.”

“Have the marines blow a hole in the side, so we don’t lose track.”

“Marine commander reports he has been stopped short of the objective.”

“Tell him to try harder.,” Ramirez snapped.

There was thud and a sickening sound from the frame of the ship.

“Near hit from a nuke Sir. Splash damage to the forward hull.

“We are bracketed Sir.” the tactical officer reported. “They can launch missile strikes from both sides.”

“Marine commander reports they have the detention block of the base star. Nobody home. Commander Lawson is not aboard.”

“Order an orderly withdrawal,” Ramirez ordered.

“Base star is spooling up.”

“Hit her center axis,” Major Ramirez ordered. “Try not to destroy her. Knock out her FTL.”

“That is not were the FTL drive is on this ship,” tactical replied.

“The base star has jumped away. We had sixty marines on her.”

“They are all jumping away,” DRADIS reported.

There was silence. “Recall our birds and prepare to jump home.”

It was time to meet Commander Cobb.

Chapter 49: The prisoner

Chapter 49

Commander Eva Lawson as a little disoriented when she awoke in the bedroom section of the commanders quarters. Her left hand reached to the other side of the bed, which she had shared with Cavil the Cylon.

This was the attractive, handsome older man with a rugged intellectual look who gave her everything she needed. Lawson brushed her jet black, curly hair from blocking her eyes. She thrashed slightly and sat up, suddenly aware of the presence of another person in the room.

A voice whispered in her head. It reminded her of her grandmother, the famous first war Admiral. “The Cylons look like us now.”

She turned in a dreamlike state, quickly looking to her right. “Yea,” Cavil the Cylon said, “one of them was frakking the commander.” There was a large, disembodied laugh echoing through out the ship.

Eva Lawson’s eyes snapped open. Then a low quality intercom voice spoke. “Revelry revelry it’s 0500 hours on the Battlestar Mercury.”

She took a breath, suddenly feeling cold. Instinctively she clutched the blankets and pulled them to her chest like a scared little girl.”

A short, skinny dark skinned private was in fact standing at the end of her bed.

“What?”

“It’s 0500 hours Sir. Skids up on your visit to the Battlestar Eagle is in 45 minutes Sir.”

Lawson stretched out in a long, luxurious stretching yawn that seemed to last for five minutes. 

Her mind remembered. The Eagle, on forward patrol. Independent thinking commanding officer who needed to understand why orders needed to be obeyed. “Right,” she remembered the rank pin. Her eye had focused on it for a moment. “Private um…”

“Private Rice Sir.”

“Well. Right. Rice. I am going to need a shower before w fly. Rice you are assigned to me as my aide.”

“Yes Sir.”

“I don’t like having a crew member all up in my business.”

The 18 year old, looked very self confident. “Sorry Sir,” she stood as tall as she could.

“So you are here to make sure I don’t frak another ….”

“Yes answered Private Rice, I am here to make sure you don’t end up in bed fracking the enemy.”

“Good Lords’s” Lawson said. “They are making them pretty fresh right now. Down in front. 

Lawson had moved frog style to the end of the bed. Her legs were draped over the edge. The private was standing right in front of her commander. Lawson look annoyed and gestured indicating she needed some space.

“Do you need any help getting out of bed commander?” she asked earnestly.

A scathing remark came to mind, but Lawson took a deep breath and simply communicated with hand signals. Several seconds later the private stood back a few steps.

Life seemed to speed up after that. Today was the first time in months she had slept in the traditional Colonial Fleet issue tee shirt. She could feel he presence of the private slut shaming her as she peeled off her clothing and slipped into the shower, which of course Rice had running for her at the perfect temperature.

As she woke from a micro nap, strapped into her seat in the back of the raptor, she remembered the long, luxurious shower. She felt an itch, but stopped herself from reaching up and banging her hand on her helmet. Then an idea came to mind.

She needed some flight time anyway. She reached up and went on intercom with her finger. “Hold on sausage,” she said. “Switch seats. I need some stick time.”

Sausage and Farmer looked at each other. Everyone knew the commander maintained her flight rating. There was nothing for them to do except say “Yes Sir” and for Sausage to give up his seat. This mission was punishment for a Viper jock. He knew he needed to learn how to keep his mouth shut.

* * *

Major Maria Ramirez, XO of the Battlestar Mercury feeling pretty good when she walked into CIC at 7 a ships time two hours before she as due. A well built Marine was keeping pac with her stride.

She had set an alarm for 5 a.m. Having met with this Marine, Sargent Johnson and discussed some of the issues aboard ship. She was not a pilot, command officers tended to give their respect to pilots.

From 5 a.m. t 6 a.m she had gone another round with the ships AI in large ship combat. It had gone well for her, before sine trigger happy Nemsis had snuck up and pumped two nukes into the Mercury.

She had learned something from the investment of time. There were a great many lessons to be learned from defeat. The next thing she had done was spend an hour in the VR suite learning to fly Vipers. She was determined to gain the respect of the crew. 

She walked into CIC with her huge marine keeping pace, her uniform hanging loose on her. The stress of losing her entire family on Tauron and the responsibility of command had melted the weight off her once curvy body. Pretty soon it would go to far this weight drop.

“All right,” she approached and focused her eyes on the deck officer who was an injured pilot restrcited from flight duty. “SITREP.”

The pilot looked as if he was ready to make remark. It pained him that this IT geek had been made XO over many qualified pilots. Tradition was being thrown out the door. It was a terrible thing.

Ramirez knew the look, stepped closer to the pilot and whispered in his ear. “Make the frakking report or tiny here will shoot you.”

“We have no Cylon activity at this time. The Cylon relay you hacked two days ago, continues to relay our comms signals and operate normally.”

“Has the commander reached the Eagle yet?”

“Negative Sir,” the pilot replied sheepishly.

“Shift change,” a private said clearly, waiting for people to change the CIC shift.

There was a beep followed by a few more. The ceiling mounted monitor which was showing a feed of the DRADIS display screen from the Eagle went dark.

Major Ramirez was a bit surprised as the display remained dark.

“We have lost contact with the Eagle Sir.”

Ramirez knew the next trick would be to try and send some fake symbol to make them hesitate to engage.

The were three sets of warning beeps. “DRADIS contact, Ramirez replied knowing what came next, if not how many.

“Three Argos class base stars, three support ships. War book says Hydra.”

“Condition one now.”

With the press of a button everything went dark, red combat lighting came on. The klaxon began waiting a second later.

“CAG wants to know when we are launching.”

“Prepare to jump the ship. Hold launch.”

The pilot walked towards Ramirez spoke forcefully as the command to insert the jump key sang out. “I don’t want to get shot or anything but the Peoples Council lists thirteen thousand refugees at three locations in this system.”

“Signal fleet command for help. Hard to port, lets get ready to show them some flak.”

“We have six hundred raiders inbound,” the DRADIS NCO reported. “The CAG wants to know why we aren’t launching.”

“If he asks that question again I will send tiny here to shoot him in his cockpit.”

“Three more contacts. Colonial transponders. Two Janus cruisers and a Ranger. Munition manifest on screen.”

“Tell command to send a Battlestar. Direct the Janus to put maximum firing rate on the nearest target that is slow and large.”

“Aye Major,” a young NCO with short blond hair acknowledged.

Ramirez grabbed the plotting table in CIC as the centrifugal force of a crash turn nearly knocked her off her feet. Several camera feeds showed missiles going out toward the Cylons along with inbound munitions. “All batteries auto fire. PCM fire right detonate at minimum distance to detonate inbound munitions.”

Someone then shouted, repeating her orders. At that moment Major Maria Ramirez computer geek from Tauron knew she was in command of the Battlestar Mercury.

The ship shook as the three ships poured munitions into the flak field, hoping to overwhelm it and get some shots in. First the flight pods would be hit, then the right side armor would be stripped.

“Order our friends to open fire on the slowest biggest target and not to stop until it melts.” Ramirez was tapping a pen on the console, waiting for a response.

“They are firing Sir.” 

One of the auxiliary monitors showed the trail of heavy missiles moving across the sky from the two ancient Janus type cruisers toward the enemy force. It looked like a powerful response.

“Major! More inbound missiles!” Shouted a nervous NCO.

“Right twenty degrees,” Ramirez said in a steely voice. “Lets gradually get the big guns to bear.”

“Argos down!” shouted a tactical officer.

“Target, Center axis. Soon as we have a firing solution.” Ramirez ordered. She looked down at a tactical display on a tablet computer she cradled in her hansd.

“Aye solution in 38 seconds.”

“Two more salvos’s inbound!” 

“Full defensive posture,” Ramirez ordered.

“Brace!” someone shouted. The deck rolled under their feet and the echo of shrapnel hitting the outer armor of the Battlestar, rose steadily until nobody’s voice could be heard. As the salvo ended, the noise abated and people stopped shouting.

“Argos down,” announced an unseen voice. There was cheering until two more salvos were unleashed from the remaining two Argos carriers.

“Another 15 degrees right,” Major Ramirez ordered.

“Starboard,” someone whispered.

“Starboard, ready the main guns,” the major ordered.

For another 29 seconds, the roar of another pair of salvos drowned out verbal communications.

“Weapons free,” Ramirez ordered.

“Firing solution!”

The roar of the forward guns filled their ears. Another inbound missile salvo joined it.

“Armro bravo!”

“We are taking some hull damage.”

“Argos down. One to go.”

‘”Adjust course to how him a different armor face,” Ramirez ordered.

“Argos down.” Just like that, the noise ended. The silence was interrupted by cheering and clapping.

“We need to plot a jump to patrol station echo,” Major Ramirez walked her navigation officer to the small plotting table in the crowded CIC.

The young lieutenant, a brown skinned Tauron pointed to the map. “Its going to take two jumps. We can either use waypoint tiger or waypoint Kilo.”

The intelligence officer spoke up. “Both are known to have regular Cylon patrols.”

“We can avoid those two choke points,” the skinny navigation officer advised. “It will take 4 jumps.”

“No,” Major Ramirez said. “Begin jump prep. we are using Kilo. We have to intercept the commanders raptor.”

“Okay we spool up for another jump immediately,” a raptor pilot opined.

“Whats the fastest jump turnaround ever on the Mercury class?” Ramirez asked.

“Admiral Samuel ‘Mercury’ Mueller, 181 seconds.”

“I want to do it in a hundred twenty,” Ramirez urged.

“Insert jump key,” shouted the officer that controlled the FTL.

“The board is green. Recon raptors on the deck.”

“Jump!” ordered the XO.

The FTL activated with its uncharacteristic unsettling whine. Then there was the disorienting white flash.

“We are at Kilo,” the navigation officer announced.

“Lets spool up,” Ramirez ordered.

“FTL actuator three is offline. Circuit breaker trio. Five minutes to repair.”

There were wo triple beeps from DRADIS. “Two base stars.”

“Crash turn to port, launch the squadrons, starboard point defense cannons on auto fire.”

“All birds have launched,” an injured pilot announced.

“Push her hard,” Ramirez ordered. “Keep changing our posture. We should be seeing some missiles inbound any moment. We can move in three dimensions. Lets see if we can evade the dumb, unguided missiles by flying this Battlestar like she is a big, slow raptor.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Evade up.”

“Yes Sir.”

The roar of an incoming salvo drowned out all speech.

“Gentle to starboard lets give those main guns a salvo firing solution.” Ramirez had a stony, hard expression on her face.

“PDC’s have a solution,” a thin, slightly built woman in the green enlisted uniform reported.

“Weapons free,” The XO said in an angry voice.

“FTL actuator is on line.”

“Spool up,” Ramirez said. “Lets kill these toasters before we jump.”

The skinny weapons officer reported. “Main batteries engaged, salvo mode.”

In another forty five seconds it was over.

“Splash base star number one.” A cheer erupted in CIC drowning out the sound of the weapons fire.

“Splash Base Star number two.”

“Recover the birds and jump.” Major Maria Ramirez was suddenly feeling a pattern. The crew and ship had transitioned from another ambiguous status to that of a killing machine.

The executive officer was okay with that. They were only machines after all.

The pit of her stomach turned into a ball of molten lead when she looked up at the DRADIS display.

“Looks like seven base stars,” the officer tasked to that grim job reported. “Wait! I have the commanders raptor.”

“Launch SAR bird,” Major Ramirez ordered.

“The base stars are scattered, moving to put us in a bracket.”

“Three close ones are opening fire!”

“SAR bird is away. Making its way to our raptor.”

“The three closest base stars are opening fire,” the weapons officer reported.

“Flak starboard,” Ramirez ordered. “We need a little more time to get the commander.”

“We are doing counter battery fire,” weapons reported. “Heavy damage to the nearest base star.”

“Line up the forward guns.” Ramirez ordered.

“Splash one base star. Firing on next target.”

“SAR bird has jumped to the commanders raptor.” The CAG was in CIC as it was obvious they were not going to launch another fighter battle. “The squadron is ready for launch.”

“SAR bird has the raptor. It’s empty.”

“Frak!” Ramirez did not know what to do next. 

The tactical lieutenant spoke up. “They are moving to surround us on three axis’s. They will be able to knock out our FTL and kill us.”

“Prepare for a nuclear strike,” Ramirez ordered. 

“We don’t know which base star she is on,” the tactical officer urged. “We have to get out of here.”

“I will NOT leave the commander behind,” the XO stomped her foot and crossed her arms defiantly.

“We can’t do her any good if we are dead,” the CAG urged.

“Communication from on of the Cylon base stars,” a tall, lanky enlisted man spoke up.

“On speaker.”

“This is the Cylon commander,” the voice crackled on the speaker, barely audible with all the weapons fire.

“We have your commander. She is going to be our guest for a while. Admiral Cain is holding one of our people on the Battlestar Pegasus. We will trade your commander for her.”

“We are not in communication with the Battlestar Pegasus,” Ramirez answered. The deck shook as some weapons fire impacted the hull. “We can’t make that happen.”

The CAG leaned in and whispered in Major Ramirez’s ear. “You have managed to hack the Cylon network a dozen times. We can break in, locate the commander and turn this situation around. But we have to get out of here now.”

“Who is this?” The voice sounded like Commander Lawson’s Cylon skin job lover.

“This is Major Ramirez, the XO of the Battlestar Mercury.”

“The computer geek?”

“The computer geek that is going to blow you out of the sky.” With hand signals she pointed at the FTL officer and ordered her to spool up.

“You should stick to software Major. We are going to jump away now. Get hold of the Battlestar Pegasus and get us our colleague. You have two days.”

“We will find a way,” Ramirez gambled. “Don’t harm her.”

“She will be treated exactly as our colleague has been treated,” the Cavil laughed, more like a cackle.

“They jumped away,” reported the DRADIS officer. “The remaining four base stars have a firing solution on us.”

“Jump!” Ramirez ordered. “Make sure the SAR bird has the coordinates so they can meet us.”

The noise and the flash of light made her sick.

“Frak! Frak! Frak!”

* * *

Commander Eva Lawson woke up and tried to move. Her wrists were shackled together. The last thing she remembered was being slammed by a Cylon concussion blast and losing control of the raptor. She must have blacked out.

She tried to raise her head. The clanking of a chain stopped her from moving. There was a steel collar on her neck. “Uh oh” she thought. She tried to move her legs. Her ankles were chained to the floor. She realized how vulnerable she was. She could not feel any clothing on her body.

“Commander Lawson,” the voice of Brother Cavil, her former Cylon lover whom she thought was in detention at a military facility echoed off the metal walls.

“We are going to have some fun,” the Cylon’s voice sounded like he was smiling.

Commander Eva Lawson knew what was coming next. They would try and break her. She steeled herself for what was to come. She felt the lash of a leather whip on her exposed back. She gritted her teeth and tried not to make any sound.

Chapter 48: Hope in the ashes of victory.

Chapter 48: Hope in the ashes of victory.

Cory Brooks, Executive of the Peoples Council sat in Major Martin’s office on the largest of the shipbuilding platforms. It was a giant office with a humongous wide window overlooking half the shipyard platform. 

Commander Eva Lawson had not invited her. Major Martin had tendered the invitation. He said his desk has warships one moving in the window behind him. Dozens of people were spaced walking and working on repairing battle damage.

The meeting was here because the Mercury was in a gigantic “dry dock”. It was surrounded by scaffolding and cranes. Workers were crawling all over it, replacing damaged hull and armor sections. More crews were polishing and painting the sections that were already repaired.

The meeting was here because it was neutral ground.

Major Ramirez was sitting next to Lawson clearly having lost weight. Her uniform was very loose on her body. She tried to stay busy looking at notes in a portfolio. She had a pen in her hand and was ready to write down anything that was important.

In fact, the former computer systems analyst did not even know why she was at the meeting. She had not been informed of the topic and had a hard time convincing her commander to attend. She wondered if it was going to be a catfight like the last meeting.

She had consulted with the two lawyers from the Judge Advocate generals branch of the military. Since this was a military emergency in the lines of authority on the civilian side were unclear, it seemed that orders from the Peoples Council might not have the force of law.

The problem there was in order to ignore civilian authority it would be necessary to declare martial law. The reaction I’m on the 120 thousand survivors of the colonies could not be predicted. Military was responsible for their safety, food and all their physical needs.

So it made sense to us find out what the civilian authority wanted, before considering ignoring that authority.

Major Rick Martin spoke first. “I called this meeting because the military and civilian authority needs to cooperate in the first meeting did not go well. It was interrupted by the battle which we determined was caused due to a security breach in our facility. Further, systems aboard the Battlestar Mercury we’re not completely cleaned up after the CNP virus to the lack of time and near constant combat that occurred during the six weeks have passed since the colonies were destroyed in occupied by the Cylons.”

Executive Cory brooks spoke next, “I saw from the battle scene from the CIC that Commander Lawson has skills besides sleeping with Cylon agents. The leader ship skills were impressive chaotic battle.”

Lawson squirmed in her chair, maintaining her cool. Her expression hid all emotion.

“The peoples counsel will approve the promotion of Commander Lawson with the following nonnegotiable caveats. She will cooperate with a full investigation of her relationship with the Cylon agent. If she is found to have been in collusion with him, she will face the death penalty. We need military leaders, but they must have integrity.”

Major Martin spoke next: “The military position of fleet commander is normally occupied by an Admiral.”

Eva Lawson him a surprise look. This was not on her agenda. She never expected to make Colonel.

“We will deal with that after the investigation,” Brooks said. “We are going to implement a system where by military is not aware of where the civilian population is. My intelligence chief will be a liaison to the military and we will put together a system to provide a quick reaction force with jump coordinates to our mobile location.”

“We have scouting parties looking for habitable planets far away from the Cylons as is practical. We will provide encrypted access keys to the commanders and executive officers of key military ships.”

“All military ships have been equipped to stop logging their FTL jumps. A very select group will be in charge of providing updated coordinates on a daily basis to the military,” said Major Martin.

“Do you agree to my conditions Major Lawson,” Cory Brooks asked.

“According to my estimates,” Lawson replied, we are short almost 9000 persons to operate the fleet that we have. We are also according to these reports building more ships. We have a warship factory with nobody to crew the warships. We need crew.”

“The military will no longer be allowed to draft people without civilian authority agreement from the peoples council.” Executive Brooks spoke carefully. “We recognize the need to provide labor for this facility and pilots for the military. We are going to start with a voluntary program and offer people incentives such as better living conditions more privileges in return service to the Colonial military. It will be a campaign and a training program. I understand that on the first day of the war you lost almost half of your fighter pilots.”

Lawson nodded her head in the affirmative. 

“We have a class of 200 support personnel and 100 pilots ready to report to your battlestar as soon as you are promoted to commander. The council wishes to summon you for questioning about our military situation. Do you agree Commander Lawson?”

Lawson gave a deep sigh. “I know my record of personal misconduct off the job gives a lot of people doubts. My own crew is not fully confident that I can lead them. Before this was I was a leader of pilots. I took that job seriously and did it well. I do not know if I am truly qualified for this job. But I see it as an obligation to give it a try. I agree to your conditions Mrs. Brooks.”

Brooks sighed. “I lost my entire family the day the Cylons started this war. I know I will never that back. But I am going to try and rebuild this society. I understand there are confirmed reports of three hundred survivors on Scorpia. They are young people, and they would appear to be good candidates to join our military. But first we need to get them here without significant military casualties. What is your plan?”

Lawson looked at Maria Ramirez. She opened per portfolio. “We plan to conduct some high frequency FTL jumps, both raptors and reliable Battlestars to get the enemies attention before sending the rescue ship. I am recommending force recon but only 4 raptors escorting the rescue ship. We need it simple and clean.”

“Show us your presentation,” Lawson ordered.

With the military precision of an admiral, Major Ramirez walked through a short slide presentation. “I believe our CAG, Jaybird is the right pilot to lead this mission.”

“Let me know what support you need. The Peoples Council will contact you for a hearing.” Brooks stood up and left the room.

“Wow that is one hard headed bitch,” Lawson commented when she had left. “It seems as if she is cooperating with us though. We are desperate to get some crew for these warships. When do I get Mercury back?”

“She is being towed out of the dock right now,” Martin turned and showed the scene. Mercury was not perfect, but it was mostly free of black marks from weapons impacts. 

“What ship are they bringing in now?”

The nose of a large Battlestar began to be visible in the enormous window. There were a lot of pieces missing. Whole sections of the flight pod were exposed to space. The name plate became visible. “Saturn”

“The Saturn was destroyed by the Cylons. The entire Scorpia shipyard was nuked. How the frak is this possible?”

“The Cylons nuked Scorpia shipyard, but we found her, under construction surrounded by the debris from destroyed junk. We towed her out the day after the attacks and used the same FTL system we use to make the shipyard platforms mobile to jump her out. We are quite proud of this salvage operation.” Major Martin turned and leaned back in his chair, designed for a civilian shipbuilding executive.

“How long until she is ready?” Ramirez was mesmerized.

“Two months,” Martin replied. “If we can maintain operational security and keep the Cylons from jumping in and nuking her.”

“Major Ramirez,” Lawson said. “That is going to be your first command, when its ready.”

Ramirez dropped her cheap pen on the floor. Her jaw dropped. She wanted to object, but words would not come out of her mouth.

Chapter 47: The M stands for mobile

Video credit: BSG Deadlock player Lochdanon – he helped shoot a lot of the footage.

Commander Eva Lawson was on a tour of the secret shipbuilding facility with Major Martin. Since the Mercury was still not considered clean from the standpoint of CNP related software, the tour was conducted on the Valkyrie class vessel, the Falcon.

Many of this class of ship were named after birds. Nobody knew why. Someone liked birds at the office that choose ship names.

The facility was impressive. A number of structures had been converted to the task of warship building. There were three observatories that were designed to dock six smaller vessels. These had been modified and extended so they could now accommodate a Mercury Class Battlestar.

Crews were at work, repairing battle damage on a wide variety of ships. 

Major Martin conducted the tour from the forward observation lounge of the ship. Communications infrastructure was limited to light signals. The room had been insulated against all known forms of transmission.

The Falcon was moving around the shipyard and a Minerva Class Battlestar came into view.

“That is a Minerva?” Lawson’s draw dropped. “I trained on one of those. I thought they were all taken apart.”

“We assembled this one from the hulks of four others that the scrap yard had drifting around. The contracts called for the complete disassembly of the ships. The contract terms were interpreted quite liberally.”

“Thank the gods for that,” Lawson replied, showing little emotion or devotion in her voice.

“Yes thank the gods,” Martin said, sounding more like a believer.

“You have eight ship building and maintenance platforms in all?” Lawson asked, proving she had read the 900 pages of intelligence briefing material she was given by hand.

“Yes. Four converted observatories, an actual platform that was supposed to be assembled and added to Scorpia shipyards and three put together from wreckage salvaged at various fleet bases.”

“All fully FTL capable?”

“Yes commander,” after the revelations about Brother John the Cylon, Martin had a hard time saying these words without having a second thought.

“Briefing says it takes ten minutes to button everything down and make a jump. That is an eternity in terms of the way combat has gone with the Cylons in this war. Any way we can speed it up?”

“We run a couple of drills a week,” answered Major Martin. “It disrupted the entire production cycle, but we think we can get it down to seven or eight minutes.”

“That sounds good. I’d like to watch the next drill.”

“Of course, commander.”

“That NCO who killed two security guards. What did the investigation yield?”

“Maybe you should ask the Cylon you were fracking, Major Lawson,” said a female voice from behind.

The two officers turned around to see an athletic looking, tall, brown haired woman in her late thirties or early forties. She was dressed modestly in a long black skirt ad simple white blouse. She wore no jewelry and her skin was clear of blemishes. Her hair was shoulder length and hung loose.

Behind her was a pair of beefy men, dressed in uniforms similar to the police, her security detail. They looked alert, heads on a swivel, but they took no interest in the conversation.

“That is acting commander to you Misses Brooks,” Lawson replied as she did not offer a hand  shake.

“Not if the council has to approve it,” Brooks said with a self-assured look.

“Only the president and the quorum can change military law,” Lawson said, making an effort to keep her voice calm. “Military law says I am a commander until another officer is found. I believe president Roslyn and the quorum are on their way to the thirteenth colony.”

“Our lawyers say the law of presidential succession states that these powers fall in the event of death or incapacity to the executive of the duly elected peoples council.” Brooks looked quite calm, almost practiced.”

“I don’t have a lawyer,” said Commander Lawson. “I just have a Battlestar that answers to my orders.”

“Are you threatening a military coup? Are you going to defy my lawful orders?” Brooks still looked rehearsed.

“We can set up a meeting,” major Martin suggested. “Surely there must be somebody from the judge Advocate general’s office alive, somewhere in this fleet.”

“If you ever expect to wear the commanders stars, you will deal with the council and me.” Said Mrs. Brooks.

“Frankly, if given the choice between sleeping with politicians and sleeping with a Cylon agent, I would rather be demoted to commander air group and go back to sleeping with my subordinates. Perhaps Admiral Cain would be available to meet with your council.”

“I read your report commander,” Brooks answered. “We have appointed the prosecutor and she will be if she is ever captured tried for crimes against humanity.”

“Well then perhaps you can allow me and Major Martin to discuss when we can bring the Solaria in the rehabilitation it so badly needs.”

“I am not done with you Lawson,” Brooks interrupted the attempt to change the subject.

“Today we are done, executive Brooks. My executive officer is named Major Maria Ramirez. Contact her and we will get you an appointment.”

“I have other tools at my discretion,” Brooks threatened.

“That my cubit will get you a cup of coffee,” Lawson replied and turned away from the woman.

A loud speaker came on: “Action stations action stations set condition one throughout the fleet. Contacts. Cylon Raiders CBDR. This is not a drill. Prepare to jump the shipyard.”

Cylons jump in

“We’re not gonna have time to get me back to the Mercury,” command Lawson remarked to Major Martin. I will have to coordinate this from your CIC.”

* * *

Aboard the Mercury, Major Ramirez was outwardly confident. Inside her stomach was tied in knots. She parked out orders, “Have to see a CAG get me a count of how many birds he can get in the air. Immediately recall the CAP. Combat landings are authorized. Spin up anti-aircraft weaponry for automatic. Twenty percent power turn to starboard, we have to be prepared to fight for 10 minutes to save the shipyard. Get me a line to mercury actual on board the Falcon immediately.”

Commander Lawson picked up an old-style telephone with a metal cord. She brought it up to her mouth and began to speak to Major Ramirez. “Sit rep.” she demanded.

The answer came out on loudspeakers. “Four base stars for support ships just jumped in. They don’t know their way around here they’ve only watched recon.”

“You know the drill. I will come in the fleet from here. The Mercury is yours. They will do you proud.”

Major Maria Ramirez put her phone back in its holder. She was not so sure. People are at least following her orders though so she kept barking them out.

“More contacts,” Arthur Garner reported. We have four more base stars coming in from the other side. We may be bracketed.”

More base stars jump in

“Isn’t there some kind of place we need to drive the Battlestars before they can jump out of here?”

“Yes sir,” Garner answered. “The toasters are blocking it.”

“We are going to have to fight our way through,” Garner added, “once the shipbuilding platform are gone.”

“As I recall from my lessons with Commander Lawson, the main guns on this beast are what we want pointed at the Cylons. Let’s alter course thirty degrees to port and start punching us a hole.”

Mercury turns

“Radiological alarm!” Garner reported. “We have nukes inbound toward one of the ship building platforms.”

* * *

Aboard the Falcon Lawson had the same tactical situation in mind. She let Major Martin direct the battle around the nearest shipbuilding platform. She was looking at a larger picture. The latest Cylon arrivals were in the way if the fleet was going to escape.

“Major Martin,” Lawson got his attention. “The ship building platforms can jump from here but we can’t.” He nodded affirmative. “Why is that?”

“We have upgraded the computers on the platforms. They have much more compute power than a Battlestar. We have also limited the amount of information on the fleets NAV computers to make it more difficult for the Cylons to trace us back to this location.”

“Got it. We are going to have to get through a couple of base stars to make that happen.”

“Roger that commander,” he said. “Once the platforms jump, we have a plan to execute. Mercury can take one and my base star squadron can take the second one.”

“It is going to be rough Valkyries against a base star.”

“Yes sir,” Martin acknowledged.

Fighting a delay action

.* * *

“This Battlestar is assigned to the base star squadron?” Lawson was in disbelief.

“I would not ask anyone under my command to do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“Can two of these Valkyrie’s take a base star?” Lawson asked.

“Not as fast as your Mercury can, but yes we can do it.”

“All right, I am on the fleet tactical channel,” Lawson said donning a modern headset. “Look’s like six minutes until the first platform is ready to jump out.”

Eva Lawson withdrew to a communications console. It showed every ship in the shipyard. There was a lot of movement on the screen. She took a mouse and clicked. Quietly she waited for the commander to answer.

“This is Mercury actual,” she said just loud enough to be heard. “You are venting fuel. Pull back from the action. We will punch a hole through to the jump point.”

Cory Brooks, who had taken an instant dislike to Eva Lawson, stood arms folded, while the 41 year old woman showed leadership and did not feel the need to shout. She kept tabs on all the warships and civilian vessels, like a sheep dog, watching her sheep.

“Where is fleet-wide?” Lawson asked fumbling around with the mouse.

An NCO stepped forward and pointed to the right control. “This is the commander,” she said, hearing her ow voice echo on loudspeakers. “All ships move out. We are going to clear a path to a safe jump point. Everything has to move or the Cylons are going to destroy it. Prepare to execute operation mobile exodus. The Battlerstar Solaria, is guarding the first jump point. The future of this shipbuilding operation and the peoples of the twelve colonies. We can not fail.” There was a loud click when she ended the transmission.

“So say we all!” shouted a crew member working the weapons console.

“SO SAY WE ALL!” another officer near DRADIS shouted. “Reinforcements jumping in.”

“All part of the plan,” Major Martin explained. “Keeps us from getting ambushed.”

“They are firing nukes. I have five, no six heading for targets.”

“Spin up the Valkyrie’s” Major Martin ordered. “We need to get moving to take out or drive away the base star blocking our way to the first save jump point.”

“I see a Minerva leading a charge flanked by a squadron of Valkyries,” Lawson said in disbelief.”

“That would be the Apollo,” Martin reported. I’ve got an LT commanding her right now.”

Museum relics join the battle

Major Ramirez looked up from DRADIS to a tactical arrangement she had on a tablet computer. It was difficult for her to understand what was going on from only one of the displays. She got a feel for it when she looked up and down at both. There were two ships between the Mercury and the safe jump out point, calculated for the fleet.

She whispered to herself the sequence of events. First she had to get the two base stars to expend their ammunition and harmlessly take it down with flak and PCM fire. Then they would need to turn the big main guns on the front of the ship toward the target.

The initial charge needed to spread the targets apart and isolate them. “Easy,” she said, “just like in the simulator. “Mister Garner have helm bring us into the attack pattern.”

“Yes sir,” he confirmed the orders and then relayed them to the helm. The ships turn movements were quiet and fluid. Soon the guns would start to bark.

Note to reader: The next three video sequences occur at the same time. The story has three separate arch’s depicting the battle.

Fighting to reach safe jump coordinates.

Involuntarily, Eva Lawson balled her fist and began to dig her nails into the heel of her hand. She was in the CIC of the Falcon. She was a tiny ship, though this was the best protected part, it was madness to go with a pair of Valkyries against a Cylon base star.

“Wolf-pack formation,” ordered Martin. He saw the second Battlestar coming into formation as they gunned the engines and got the ships some momentum

Valkyrie base star squadron goes to work

Eva Lawson wiped perspiration off her brow as the guns stopped continuous fire. There was heavy damage but the Falcon had survived wolf pack formation.

“The first shipbuilding platform has jumped away,” reported the Falcon’s operations officer. “We lost one platform.”

“We need to jump out of here,” Lawson urged. She did not seem to be giving an order.

“Recovering our Vipers Sir,” the operations guy answered back.

“Combat landings are authorized and encouraged.” Major Richard “Rick” Martin was smiling. They were taking losses, but the plan seemed to be coming together.

Operations said, “spooling up FTL drive. NAV computer is online. Jump  when ready.”

Chapter 46: Recon

Cavil was probably clinically depressed if not psychotic. His military campaign against the colonies was going poorly. The Galactica was leading a government taking 47,000 civilians into an exile, pursued by thousands of Cylon forces. The fleet of 1000 ships that wiped out the colonies was now spread across the galaxy looking for Galactica.

A rogue Batttlestar, the Pegasus was running rough on Cylon forces in the same general direction as Galactica. They had recently ambushed a base star group near Kobol, cleaning up the mess in the wake of the attempted assassination of Commander Adama.

Galactica had managed to take out a base star over Kobol. By the time a force recon of two base stars made it to determine the fate of the first base star the Pegasus jumped in and destroyed one and badly damaged a second before jumping away with hardly a scratch on her paint.

There were sixty base stars in pursuit of the Roslyn fleet with several hundred support ships.

Eva Lawson who was being fracked by a copy of Cavil’s model had run a successful campaign to deprive the Cylons of fuel. Half the force following Adama had stopped off to mine and process tylium when they had actually run out of fuel.

A group of five base stars had intercepted Lawson and Mercury and was bracketing her for the kill. Remnants of the CNP virus reported Mercury’s FTL was down.

Lawson had turned from running and conducted a high risk Battlestar charge, taking out one base star. Then the decrepit old museum that Galactica was slated to replace, had jumped in and disrupted the battle just enough so that Commander Lawson’s engineering team was able to replace the part and ring the FTL drive back on line.

Cavil had made sure the Lawson fleet had contracted the deadly Sunspot virus, and the infection rate in her overcrowded fleet was over 50% in the first week. The primary defense against a virus was social distancing and separation were impossible in an overcrowded fleet.

Battlestar Group 34 had done the least damage to the Cylon occupation of the colonies, but now represented the greatest threat. They had wisely avoided confrontation with the forces occupying the colonies, but had managed to put together a self sustaining ship building operation.

The entire operation was jump cable, using FTL drives seized from several manufacturers in the four solar systems that made up the twelve colonies.

They had mining ships, plans and were able to fix battle damage to their fleet. Further, they had raided the bone yards where hundreds if not thousands of war ships had been stripped an decommission and acquired millions of tons of materials that they could recycle into parts for their fleet.

There was an unconfirmed report that they had a ship yard consisting of between four and eight converted observatories and were in the process of producing Valkyrie class Battlestars.

The entire operation could be jumped with about ten minutes of preparation. Cavil had no idea what the size of their forces were and who was leading this effort.

Cavil came across an electronic intelligence that BSG-34 had rescued over 100,000 survivors from all twelve colonies. The Amaragosa, a Valkyrie had been lost trying to rescue survivors on Caprica.

That was a double edged sword. That many refugees needed a lot of care and feeding. That would likely expose the fleet and allow for their location to be pinpointed and destroyed.

On the downside, that many refugees would provide a steady supply of labor for the shipyards and crew for their fleet. They could if left unchecked grow into a force strong enough to take back the twelve colonies.

The good news was a member of the Peoples Council was raising all kinds of trouble for the war effort. Demanding that workers get paid, and that the fleet stop drafting people into the war effort. You would think the leader of this legislative body was a Cylon model, but no Cory Brooks was a 37 year old housewife that had lost her children in the attacks. She was a woman of principle. She was better than a Cylon agent.

There was no good news, until a Leoben stood smiling in his doorway.

“What are you smiling about?”

“I was under cover at the shipyards set up by Battlestar group 34. I was a low ranking enlisted computer operator. I’ve got their location, how they have avoided being detected as they jump in and out of this facility. I’ve got it all.”

“Good. Give me a written report. We can put together some forces to slaughter this outpost of humanity.”

Leoben smiled. “Right after you get me posted to the fleet pursuing Kara Thrace and the Galactica.”

“Whatever you want,” Cavil said “your models obsession with Kara Thrace will be your undoing.”

“All of this has happened before,” Leoben said. “and it will happen again.”

Cavil clopped his hand on the desk, making such a loud noise that Leoben was startled. Without further comment, he dropped a data stick on the desk.

“Get me our force commanders,” Cavil bellowed into the intercom. “We have some humans to slaughter.”

Two days had passed since the resurrection of the Leoben. Cavil was looking for something to throw when the military forces reported what they had available to crush the newly resurgent colonial civilization.

“It is amazing we even won the war,” Cavil muttered under his breath.

It occurred to him that he had not received one of the lurid, pornographic reports from Brother John the Cylon that was fracking Commander Eva Laws in some time. If he had been discovered and killed, his memories would become available to the entire model.

That would be very entertaining. It was probably something simple like an isolation protocol to stop the spread of the Sunspot virus.

Before putting the thumb driver the Leoben provided into his workstation, he wondered if he should have it checked. He jammed it in and began reading at high speed.

More great news, BSG-34 had a vaccine for the virus.

What the frack else could go wrong today.

Chapter 45: Data Transfer

Lieutenant Arthur Garner was the first appointment for Major Ramirez and Major Martin, the commander it turned out of Battlestar Group 34. They were quite short of bodies if they could not find a combat commander.

Garner was tasked to make all the systems of all of the ships in the Lawson fleet as it was known safe for the final jump to the secret location of the shipyards.

A special system had been set up to protect this location. The jump coordinates here kept on encrypted thumb drives. They were good for 72 hours and avoided the requirement of the NAV computers calculating a safe jump.

From the systems perspective it was pretty slick. The NAV computer was told to do a blind jump. No record of the start and ending coordinates was possible. A bunch of zeros were stored on the log of the NAV computers.

The jump coordinates were read off the encrypted thumb drive directly into computer memory. The jump was run from there. A very powerful, “air gapped” computer was used to calculate coordinates. There was no network connection at all.

There was a collection of celestial data that was downloaded by a second computer and transferred to the NAV calculator as it had come to be known for calculating the actual jumps.

Major Rick Martin conducted a security meeting in person every day with the computer operator. The computer operator was a tall, athletically built man with a beard, blondish that was on the border between beard and stubble.

It was a Cylon Leoben programmed specifically to suppress the obsession with religious drivel (Cavil’s description) about Starbuck. Starbuck was off with the Galactica fleet and there were things to be attended to here in the world of the incomplete destruction of the colonies.

He had just finished reading the classified daily threat assessment that included news of the impending arrival of the Battlestar Mercury. He had a photographic memory and this was easy for him.

This situation left the Leoben alone and out of contact. His instructions were to provide information when contacted. That was supposed to be contact by another Cylon agent.

The other Cylon agent a model 1 Cavil had been caught and killed when Battlestar Group 34 had captured a heavy raider that boarded a Valkyrie class Battlestar. Having experienced the tactic on a prior occasion The Amaragosa had concentrated its fire and winged the heavy raider on approach.

The occupants of the raider were mostly killed, but were led by a model 1 Cavil.

The Cylon command, under a different Cavil was aware of the operation and found a way to communicate with Leoben. They manipulated the celestial information adding a picture file to the daily report of data that their agent was called upon to inspect and put into the NAV system that calculated the jumps.

The secondary authentication method for the system was a DNA based system. You put your finger on a reader and there was a DNA scan. If it was a Leoben that processed the data, a message notification showed up in the final page of the check in for the information.

This was to be read after the check in. It was in fact a picture file taken from one of the national parks of one of the Colonies. It was a one time only run of a screen saver that changed photos every few seconds.

The first photo contained the park sign of the entrance to a national park on Caprica. There was a lengthy rules statement and certain words according to a mathematical formula were relevant.

After 30 or so pictures the screen saver show ended. Checking himself the Cylon wrote down he message on what he imagined to be a whiteboard in his head. “Guest is on the way to your location. Need recon. Resurrection is online at your location.

The Leoben was triggered into activating his programming. He typed a portion of the CNP program into a text file. He moved the file with his administrative privileges into a location where it would be read into the core programming library.

That would occur tonight during someone else’s shift,. The instructions had the Leoben on automatic pilot.

He proceeded to walk to the security checkpoint at the entrance to the secure military outpost. He had been talking up the guard’s a pair of attractive females for months as he was programmed to.

At some point the conversation went to discussing the training in firearms.

“Do you even know how to use that thing?” Leoben asked, chuckling. He pointed at the firearm in the closer guard’s holtster.

She proceeded to take out the gun, a standard issue for the fleet and ejected the clip, the the cartridge. She disassembled, field stripped, lubricated the firearm in about three minutes. Then she assembled it and put it on the desk right in front of Leoben.

The Cylon, following a program built into his existence, picked up the weapon and the clip. He inserted the clip into the bottom of the weapon. He set the safety, pulled back the back and put a round in the chamber.

“Give me that back,” the first guard reached out with both hands.

The second guard pulled out her weapon and prepared to use it. This was an attack. She hesitated a half a second to press the alarm button.

Leoben raised the weapon in his hand and shot the armed guard first, right through the forehead, killing her instantly.

He let loose another shot completing the double tap.

The unarmed guard ducked and picked her dead partners weapon from her hand, which was still clutching it, This very short delay doomed her as Leoben shot her twice through the forehead.

Next he pointed the weapon at his own temple and fired again.

He was dead and on his way to the resurrection process, his head full of classified information.

Chapter 44: Brother John the Cylon

It was bizarre the way Brother John the Cylon was taken into custody. After weeks of quarantine Commander Lawson had bent the rules to have him in her quarters supposedly for a booty call.

Instead of that thirty minutes after his arrival John the Cylon was arrested for being a Cylon agent.

Fortunately for the commander there was evidence of wrong doing,

The bio-metric logs on her keyboard showed that he had accessed it an left behind DNA.

He had used the terminal at least four times in the weeks after the attacks, but before the pandemic.

John the Cylon had accessed classified information about the combat capabilities of the Battlestar Mercury. Documents had been accessed and read before several operations, including the near disaster raid on the Cylon refinery.

The problem with the chain of evidence was that was where the trail went cold. Brother John was the overly curious lover. He just wanted to check on his survival odds.

What Eva Lawson could not control was what the Cylon said during interrogation. There was lots of kinky bedroom talk to be repeated and Lawson knew it could permanently damage her command, perhaps the entire war effort.

Well obviously that was why John the Cylon had created the relationship in the first place. It was only natural that a woman of her vigor and appetite would find a lover.

What dumbfounded the commander was how she had found a way to do something worse than sleeping with a subordinate.

There was muffled talk in the hallways and corridors of the Battlestar. “Cylons look like us now. One of them was so convincing he was fracking the commander.”

Commander Lawson needed to manage this investigation and manage it fast. If this talk about Cylon resurrection was true they could not shove Brother John the Cylon out an airlock. They needed to bury him in a hole that was very deep.

They needed to keep him safe and not telling his Cylon friends about his romantic and other adventures on board the Battlestar Mercury.

The Dossier provided the first piece of the puzzle. The Cavil captures and eventually killed by Battlestar Group 34 was an accomplished liar.

He had conducted religious ceremonies, celebrated births, deaths and life events. “Thank the Gods,” he liked to say.

Commander Lawson turned over the evidence and gave six hours of recorded testimony to her XO, Major Ramirez. The trimmed down second in command was a witness to some of the goings on, but the Dossier convinced her that Brother John the Cylon could not tell the truth.

Maria Ramirez would lead the interrogation. After four hours she wanted to take a shower, but she needed to read her commander in.

“Brother John is obviously trying to tear apart this command, Ramirez said in her first informal report to her superior officer. “He spent a lot of time dropping kinky little tidbits thinking I would write it into the report or be disgusted by it.”

“He picked the wrong woman commander. I’ve done kink, both sides, top and bottom. It does not phase me in the slightest. What he has been circumspect about is how he got the data he read off the ship.”

“That data was not copied. Your thumb driver port doesn’t work. It was the first security measure I put in place on Admiral Mueller when I was posted to this ship. There was a man who could think complicated tactics or strategic fleet politics but did not know dick about information security.”

“It is pretty obvious they knew about the refinery raid before we jumped. They don’t have an infinite supply of base stars to just sit the refinery. They knew the time, place and planned date of the attack.”

“How?” Lawson saw a way out for herself.

“Major Martin’s scanner found a new breach that was put into place months before CNP. It was a little program that collected data in transit, decrypted the data data and transmitted it very slowly in clear text on a very low frequency.”

“I’m a little lost.”

“Brother John had your password. He had to acknowledge the documents he read. He was very careful NOT to read the documents you had not read. When he signed out of the document, he added a numeric string. There is a heavy hitting algorithm somewhere aboard this ship that takes any document with the right code and transmits it.”

“It is not secure it is not fast,” Major Ramirez “but it was ingenious. The transmission was from one network router to another one. That router was near the communications array. Normally we run a lot of traffic in and out of he communications array and that router is busy. But when we spool up for ops, we go radio silent. That is when the encrypted transmission goes out to the Cylons.”

“They don’t get a lot of warning, but they get enough warning to move around some assets,” Lawson surmised.

“Exactly,” Major Ramirez was in her element now. Information Technology. “We are going to have to purge every network device on this ship and lay down new code that has no vulnerabilities.”

“We did that to the computers already,” Lawson reminded her XO.

“The network infrastructure is different. A lot of it is read only so it takes a lot of network gear to store something as complex as a military operations plan. Trust me commander, this guy had it. We were compromised on this ship nearly two years ago.”

“Frack me,” the commander said.

“With regards to that.” Major Ramirez tossed a bag on the desk. “You are going to have to keep it cool for a while sir. A very long while. There is a substitute for the real thing in the bag. I have your back, but people are talking. The Peoples fracking Council wants to know why a known Cylon agent was sleeping with the fleet commander, before they approve your promotion to commander.”

“What am I going to say?” Lawson asked.

“Not a damned thing,” Ramirez said. “You have terrible taste in men. The agent was trained to take advantage of it. It’s all in the report.”

Major Ramirez dropped that on the commander’s desk. “They are coming in with the vaccine. You will be getting a shot in the arm soon enough. I’m going to make sure Brother John the Cylon stays alive, doesn’t teleport back to Cylon and never talks to another human being again.”

“Knowing he can’t die might make him prone to suicide as a means of teleportation,” Lawson speculated.

“He will be watched, but he will be safe.”

“Do you believe this resurrection story?”

“Yes Commander Lawson I really do. It makes sense of all the experiments the Cylons did during the first war. They wanted to measure the soul, the life force that made human being alive. They apparently figured part of it out.”

“Do we have the research?” Lawson asked.

“Yes we do, It is a book by Doctor Edwin Nelson of the Virgon Science Institute. I’ve forwarded a copy to your in box. If you need nothing further I will see to Brother John the Cylon’s permanent imprisonment situation.”

Having dodged a missile sized bullet, Commander Lawson needed one more thing to redirect from her own indiscretion. A big operation.

That was her next chore.

Chapter 43: Meets and Planning

43

Major Rick Martin was on a secure video link with Commander (acting) Eva Lawson. She had a curious look on her face as she went through the thick paper file she was delivered from decontamination.

“We have to get a few things straight before we make the final jumps to our hidden shipyard. First we need to understand who is in command. You are a commander but you don’t know our operations.”

“By military code I am an acting commander. I’m a CAG with quite a reputation. Some people might not like taking orders from me,”

“What was your rank when you were a CAG?” Martin asked.

“Major,” there was a pause.

“Five years four months,” Lawson said at the same time as Martin said “Three years  9 months.”

They both chuckled briefly. “You win,” Martin quipped.

“I think I lost,” Lawson said. She flipped through the briefing papers. There were some spectacular pictures of a shipyard. She did not recognize it. “I have been looking for an offer to foist this command an so I can strap a Mark VII on my back and get myself killed.”

“I was a manufacturing expert before then war. I spent a lot of time at Scorpia shipyards fighting with the contractors over production quality and materials charges. I was a bureaucrat. You at least can say you were a combat officer.”

“Yea,” Lawson was lost in the pictures. “This shipyard was impressive. It doesn’t look like Scorpia.”

“It wasn’t,” Martin said. “What I’m going to tell you is code word classified. Any listening devices in your office?”

“A ton,” Lawson said. “I can’t pass gas after dinner without someone analyzing it and making sure I at my veggies.”

“There is a very thin mobile phone in the back pocket of the briefing book. Turn it on.”

“How do I know it won’t signal the Cylons?” she joked.

“Do you want to team up or not?” Martin replied humorlessly,

She pulled out the mobile phone turned it on. “It’s on.”

“Punch in a phone number. +01.973.458.1071 01 is the planet code for Caprica.”

Lawson dialed the number.

“Open the app marked silencer. Give it the passcode 127334.”

“We are alone,” Martin said. “You don’t recognize that shipyard because Colonial Fleet never paid for it. It was a prototype designed to be mobile in case the Cylons ever took out Scorpia. We can work on any ship even the Mercury class. We can even manufacture Valkyrie class battlestars. If we can get the materials.”

“What is the production rate?” Lawson asked.

“Theoretically 4 per month. Some yahoo has been out slamming all the Cylon fuel ships and mining ships we were trying to hijack.”

Lawson smiled. “It is nice to see we are effective.”

“We got away with about twenty-five old relics from the decommissioning yard. We have a couple of Minataur class, a few Miverva class, even a couple of old Janus ships. We believe with time, materials and a lot of labor we could even produce a Jupiter class ship.”

“That is fracking amazing Major,” Lawson was impressed.

“We have severe shortages of skilled workers. Our little adventure just netted us 23,000 plus or minus new refugees which we have to protect feed and house.”

“Seems like a ready supply of labor,” Lawson suggested.

“The ad hoc ‘Peoples Council’ is raising objections to us drafting workers and not paying them.”

“We are keeping the alive,” the commander suggested.

“We are going to need to make a deal,” Martin said. “Galactica let by Education Secretary Laura Roslyn may have escaped with about 40,000 refugees. She was officially made president by the laws of succession. The ‘Peoples Council’ (he said the name with disgust in his voice) has the power to clear up out command issues. They are refusing to do so.”

“Any Admiral’s out there?” Lawson asked hopefully.

“Two. Rear Admiral Jamie Nagura, was badly injured in the attack on Picon fleet headquarters. He is lucid and awake about an hour a day. Legally he can sign promotion papers. Then there is this senile old lady from the first war. Perhaps you know her. Admiral Eva Lawson. Age 91.”

“Senile. We had her in a nursing home. Completely batty,” Lawson was pleased but extremely surprised her grandmother had survived. 

“Then its Nagura and the Peoples Council. We will have to negotiate.”

“Okay Major Martin. Anything else?

“Lots,” Martin continued “on the mobile phone is the formula for a vaccine for your virus problem. It will stop the spread, but there is no effective treatment. Since you survived I assume you pulled CNP off your computer systems.”

“We pulled the entire last 18 months off and have a three-year-old operating system,” Lawson said. “So says my XO who is really a computer geek.”

“She will want that phone. It contains a powerful program that will clean out a lot of Cylon trash. Your network is managed by hundreds of network routers. Many of these are infected with garden variety Cylon viruses that can talk to the Cylon network and frack us all good. It’s going to be a job cleaning them out but we are going to do that before we take another FTL jump.”

“Prudent,” Lawson replied.

“Now the really fun part. Back of the briefing book. The toasters figured out how to create humanoid models. Real, living flesh and blood humans that bleed, have sexual relations, do all the things that we do.”

“The Cylons look like us now.” 

“I am ashamed to admit I was fracking a model six that was one of the best whore’s I’ve ever been with. I caught her trying to hack my workstation.”

“That sucks.” Eva Lawson was studying the photos and intelligence files.

“Under interrogation she gave up that there were seven humanoid model. We have discovered three. Model six, the first photo. Next photo.”

A picture of a dark-skinned bald male was revealed. Lawson did not recognize him. “This one likes to play a doctor. He was posted on a medical ship that survived the fall. He air locked the entire ship.”

Lawson flipped to the next photo. Her entire digestive tract contracted into a ball of molten lead.

“This one likes to play the role of priest. Brother Cavil he calls himself. He appears to be some kind of Cylon leader. You need to check any ship for this model before making the jump.”

“Got it,” Lawson said. Now she had a problem. She had been fracking a Cylon. “Give us a couple of hours to get our systems cleaned up Major Martin. We will get ready to make the jump. We are going to need a lot of doses of that vaccine.”

“All right.” Major Martin asked. “Any orders.”

“Nah,” the commander said. “I’ve got some trash to take care of.”

Lawson acted quickly. She shut down the transmission and tried to call her Marine guards. For that to work she had to shut down the mobile phone.

On an old-style phone handset, she contacted her guards. “Send Brother John up here immediately.”

There were several objections. She pulled rank and announced without any knowledge that she had medical tests showing that John had suffered the virus and was now immune. Ten minutes later he was in bed next to her naked.

Swiftly once he was aroused, she pulled open her nightstand drawer and pulled out a pistol. She placed it in his hands and then twisted hard with all her strength, causing him to cry out in pain.

“What kind of role play is this?”

“You are a fracking Cylon,” she said. “You are going to die trying to murder me.”

“I think I should tell you about Cylon resurrection. I can’t die. If you kill me I will wake up in a couple of days in a new body with a complete memory of this life.”

Lawson cocked the gun. Cavil winced.

“Afraid to die?”

“It does hurt,” he acknowledged. 

She pulled the trigger, it clicked.

“Oh did I mention I took the clip out of it?”

She twisted his arm harder and picked up a vase and bashed him over the head.  Then she beat his face to a bloody pulp before calmly getting off of him and walking to the door. She invited the Marine inside.

“I just got an intelligence file on this guy. He had something to do with the attacks on the Colonies. He is a Cylon agent. Take him to the brig.”

This situation was completely out of control. She was completely compromised and she had to manage this situation to avoid a court martial. Half the ship knew she had been fracking this bastard. She was fighting to control her emotions.