Monthly Archives: October 2019

Chapter 10: Cylon Base Star near the armistice line.

The Cylon hybrid stood up a little straighter and it’s tub. Water splashed. It looked a little more alert, a little more lucid than usual. Most of the time and spoke gibberish and none of the humanoid Cylons paid it much attention.

“The final test is within range. Is the moon at the right height? Is the orbit elliptical. Sending signal. Awaiting reply. Handshake handshake. Packet received. Orders acknowledged. Countdown. Countdown. Prepare to test CNP. Testing response is slow. Is the eagle on the mountain? Awaiting test results. Looking at the sun in the moon and the fish is in the water we do not know the consequences of this plan. Genocide. Genocide. The children come to kill the parents. If the test fails when we continue?”

A nearby model six spoke to a Cavil. “What is it talking about? What final test?”

Cavil answered in his agitated voice. “We have managed to draw a colonial Battlestar close enough to the border to test Baltar’s CNP program. “Before we end humanity, we might want to know if the program export even works? If it doesn’t, we can delay our plan no harm no foul.”

“Doesn’t that risk detection. If the colonial fleet finds out they may pull the program out of all their ships?”

“That certainly is a possibility. Most likely the Battlestar Mercury will blow up. The flight will go on alert and investigation will be opened. In 24 hours to be nothing left to investigate.”

“What’s the test?”

“The usual. Power systems are shut down. I think we’re going to see how the humans can operate a Battlestar without artificial gravity. That should be interesting. I think I’ll activate some security cameras and record the chaos for my personal entertainment.”

The six just shook her head and walked away.

* * *

Maria Ramirez sat down at a workstation and activated a number of video screens. As a network and systems administrator the problems that the Battlestar was having we’re all on her shoulders. 30 years old, she was a lieutenant. She had no interest in command, all she cared about was systems.

Many systems of been a straighter set up for themselves dashboards to show status. With the click of a mouse she could drill into a situation and get details. What she was seeing puzzled her. Is had been eight hours since the order had been made to shut down all network hardware and operate the ship manually. She did not expect zero network traffic. There were some systems that did not have manual control consoles or keyboards that had to be operated remotely.

The level of network traffic was too high. She had seen the same dashboard when the system and the ship went in for maintenance four months ago.

This traffic figures were excessive force ship that was supposed to be without network operations. The first thought that occurred to her it was that somebody left a router on or several. Very often junior members of her staff program devices to restart periodically and power up.

They were idiot technicians enlisted people who could not follow orders or worse yet didn’t know how to think. The status board showed every single piece of network hardware in this ship was powered down.

As a network administrators she had a small computer connected to the network sniffing for traffic. She connected into the machine from her console, delicate fingers dancing on the keyboard. With a couple of mouse clicks she was looking in the log file. The traffic showed network addresses from hundreds of systems. It was as if the computer network was completely active.

It wasn’t doing very much but every piece of hardware seem to have power and occasionally transmitted or received packets. This was odd and she ran a couple of scripts to analyze the traffic. There was definitely Communications traffic between Shipps network and the long range communications array.

They were encrypted messages. She transfer the file to a more powerful computer system and started trying to crack the messages.  This of course created network traffic and scared her results. This was very odd however. 

She ran her hand to her long nonregulation black hair which was strict with white.

The situation was just out enough to require a report to command. She stood up and left her a small office and begin the 300 me to walk to the CIC.  She decided to report to the officer of the deck and request another meeting with the Admiral and the XO.

To her surprise, the Admiral and the executive officer were in CIC. They were both looking at a print out. It looks like some kind of orders. She stopped short and saluted, even though this was not really necessary in the command center.

The admiral answered without returning to salute, deciding in his own mind not to humiliate her on her breach of protocol. She’s been an officer for eight years and should’ve known the protocol, but his computer geeks we’re so important that exceptions were always made for them. “Report.”

“I’m seeing some odd traffic on the network in excess of what they should be with all the network hardware shut down. I believe the ship is being actively compromised at this very moment.”

“By whom?” Martha Rogers looked up.

“I have not fully triangulated the traffic to and from our communications array. However, the general direction seems to be forward. This would place the recipient in cylon space.”

“Are you saying the cylons are remotely hacking our computer systems?” The admiral asked incredulously.

The CAG standing in CIC in her flight suit turned her head to listen.

“I suppose it could be a colonial ship on the wrong side of the armistice line,” Ramirez opined. “I don’t write orders, I don’t question orders I just follow them.”

“We are 15 fracking minutes from the armistice line at 25K pH,” Rogers swore.

“Who gave us those orders?” Ramirez asked.

“Fleet command,” the CAG chimed in. “I was cc’d”

“Let me see the orders please?” Ramirez asked.

Rogers backed away from our own workstation which had an open electronic-mail message on it containing the orders. Ramirez bent over the keyboard and begin typing furiously. She then walked away from the keyboard and stepped up to another workstation.

She was typing furiously. After a long silence with half of CIC staring at her she looked up. 

“The orders are fake. A very cleverly built fake. Even the md5 signature is almost exactly the same. But it’s not. These orders will be written by a computer system on this ship. We have got to get the ship away from here. It is my believe that we are under cyber-attack right now. The ship is in danger.” She crossed her arms in front of herself looking confident.”

“Begin jump prep,” the admiral ordered.

Before he even finished the sentence, Eva Lawson was on a telephone talking directly to her air wing. Combat landings don’t even worry about what the LSO says every bird on the deck right fracking now!”

The light started to flicker, and then the power went out. Several seconds later at the auxiliary batteries kicked in and some of the control consoles lit up. People started to float off the floor. Paper started to flutter in the breeze of air circulation.

“AG is down!” Rogers shouted.

The CAG was tethered by her telephone cord her feet above her head. She continued talking while pressing down the talk button. “CAG to air wing. Mag lock check. Artificial gravity systems may be down use caution when landing magnetically attached to the deck we are jumping out of here.

“Continue jump prep,” ordered the admiral.

“Insert jump key,” someone shouted.

Ramirez gripped her console with both hands. “NAV computers are operating normally on backup power.”

“Air Wing status!” The admiral barked.

“On the deck,” Lawson reported. “I think the LSO was having a stroke.”

“Board is green!”

“10 seconds until we cross the armistice line,” Rogers reported. “the engines went to full power when we got hacked.”

“Jump!”

There was a flash of light. It was preceded in followed by queasy feeling in their stomachs. The jumper been successful. Gravity gradually kicked in on auxiliary power.  Everyone gradually settled back to the floor.

The admiral walked over to Ramirez who is straightening her uniform and staring at her display.

“Lieutenant Ramirez, he ordered. Fix my ship. I don’t care if you have to restore to the pre-refit backups. I need to ship operational and then operational fracking yesterday.”

“Yes Sir,” she replied. “I’m taking a few quick backups so I can try and find out what the root cause of all this was.”

“Whatever,” the XO said. “admiral, I need to speak with the LSO immediately he has completely lost it.”

“He’s in my wife’s extended family,” the admiral said “I will go with you. I don’t wanna fire him.”

“The final test is within range. Is the moon at the right height? Is the orbit elliptical. Sending signal. Awaiting reply. Handshake handshake. Packet received. Orders acknowledged. Countdown. Countdown. Prepare to test CNP. Testing response is slow. Is the eagle on the mountain? Awaiting test results. Looking at the sun in the moon and the fish is in the water we do not know the consequences of this plan. Genocide. Genocide. The children come to kill the parents. If the test fails when we continue?”

A nearby model six spoke to a Cavil. “What is it talking about? What final test?”

Cavil answered in his agitated voice. “We have managed to draw a colonial Battlestar close enough to the border to test Baltar’s CNP program. “Before we end humanity, we might want to know if the program export even works? If it doesn’t, we can delay our plan no harm no foul.”

“Doesn’t that risk detection. If the colonial fleet finds out they may pull the program out of all their ships?”

“That certainly is a possibility. Most likely the Battlestar Mercury will blow up. The flight will go on alert and investigation will be opened. In 24 hours to be nothing left to investigate.”

“What’s the test?”

“The usual. Power systems are shut down. I think we’re going to see how the humans can operate a Battlestar without artificial gravity. That should be interesting. I think I’ll activate some security cameras and record the chaos for my personal entertainment.”

The six just shook her head and walked away.

* * *

Maria Ramirez sat down at a workstation and activated a number of video screens. As a network and systems administrator the problems that the Battlestar was having we’re all on her shoulders. 30 years old, she was a lieutenant. She had no interest in command, all she cared about was systems.

Many systems of been a straighter set up for themselves dashboards to show status. With the click of a mouse she could drill into a situation and get details. What she was seeing puzzled her. Is had been eight hours since the order had been made to shut down all network hardware and operate the ship manually. She did not expect zero network traffic. There were some systems that did not have manual control consoles or keyboards that had to be operated remotely.

The level of network traffic was too high. She had seen the same dashboard when the system and the ship went in for maintenance four months ago.

This traffic figures were excessive force ship that was supposed to be without network operations. The first thought that occurred to her it was that somebody left a router on or several. Very often junior members of her staff program devices to restart periodically and power up.

They were idiot technicians enlisted people who could not follow orders or worse yet didn’t know how to think. The status board showed every single piece of network hardware in this ship was powered down.

As a network administrators she had a small computer connected to the network sniffing for traffic. She connected into the machine from her console, delicate fingers dancing on the keyboard. With a couple of mouse clicks she was looking in the log file. The traffic showed network addresses from hundreds of systems. It was as if the computer network was completely active.

It wasn’t doing very much but every piece of hardware seem to have power and occasionally transmitted or received packets. This was odd and she ran a couple of scripts to analyze the traffic. There was definitely Communications traffic between Shipps network and the long range communications array.

They were encrypted messages. She transfer the file to a more powerful computer system and started trying to crack the messages.  This of course created network traffic and scared her results. This was very odd however. 

She ran her hand to her long nonregulation black hair which was strict with white.

The situation was just out enough to require a report to command. She stood up and left her a small office and begin the 300 me to walk to the CIC.  She decided to report to the officer of the deck and request another meeting with the Admiral and the XO.

To her surprise, the Admiral and the executive officer were in CIC. They were both looking at a print out. It looks like some kind of orders. She stopped short and saluted, even though this was not really necessary in the command center.

The admiral answered without returning to salute, deciding in his own mind not to humiliate her on her breach of protocol. She’s been an officer for eight years and should’ve known the protocol, but his computer geeks we’re so important that exceptions were always made for them. “Report.”

“I’m seeing some odd traffic on the network in excess of what they should be with all the network hardware shut down. I believe the ship is being actively compromised at this very moment.”

“By whom?” Martha Rogers looked up.

“I have not fully triangulated the traffic to and from our communications array. However, the general direction seems to be forward. This would place the recipient in cylon space.”

“Are you saying the silencer remotely hacking our computer systems?” The admiral asked incredulously.

The CAG standing in CIC in her flight suit turned her head to listen.

“I suppose it could be a colonial ship on the wrong side of the armistice line,” Ramirez opined. “I don’t write orders, I don’t question orders I just follow them.”

“We are 15 freaking minutes from the armistice line at 25K pH,” Rogers swore.

“Who gave us those orders?” Ramirez asked.

“Fleet command,” the CAG chimed in. “I was cc’d”

“Let me see the orders please?” Ramirez asked.

Rogers backed away from our own workstation which had an open electronic-mail message on it containing the orders. Ramirez bent over the keyboard and begin typing furiously. She then walked away from the keyboard and stepped up to another workstation.

She was typing furiously. After a long silence with half of CIC staring at her screen she looked up. 

“The orders are fake. A very cleverly built fake. Even the md5ve signature is almost exactly the same. But it’s not. These orders will be written by a computer system on this ship. We have got to get the ship away from here. It is my belief that we are under cyber attack right now. The ship is in danger.” She crossed her arms in front of herself looking confident.”

“Begin jump prep,” the admiral ordered.

Before he even finished the sentence, Eva Lawson was on a telephone talking directly to her air wing. Combat landings don’t even worry about what the LSO says every bird on the deck right fracking now!”

The light started to flicker, and then the power went out. Several seconds later at the auxiliary batteries kicked in and some of the control consoles lit up. People started to float off the floor. Paper started to flutter in the breeze of air circulation.

“AG is down!” Rogers shouted.

The CAG was tethered by her telephone cord her feet above her head. She continued talking while pressing down the talk button. “CAG to air wing. Mag lock check. Artificial gravity systems may be down use caution when landing magnetically attached to the deck we are jumping out of here.

“Continue jump prep,” ordered the admiral.

“Insert jump key,” someone shouted.

Ramirez gripped her console with both hands. “NAV computers are operating normally on back up power.”

“Air Wing status!” The admiral barked.

“On the deck,” Lawson reported. “I think the LSO was having a stroke.”

“Board is green!”

“10 seconds until we cross the armistice line,” Rogers reported. “the engines went to full power when we got hacked.”

“Jump!”

There was a flash of light. It was preceded in followed by queasy feeling in their stomachs. The jump has been successful. Gravity gradually kicked in on auxiliary power.  Everyone gradually settled back to the floor.

The admiral walked over to Ramirez who is straightening her uniform and staring at her display.

“Lieutenant Ramirez, he ordered. Fix my ship. I don’t care if you have to restore to the pre-refit bac ups. I need to ship operational and then operational fracking yesterday.”

“Yes Sir,” she replied. “I’m taking a few quick backups so I can try and find out what the root cause of all this was.”

“Whatever,” the XO said. “admiral, I need to speak with the LSO immediately he has completely lost it.”

“He’s in my wife’s extended family,” the admiral said “I will go with you. I don’t wanna fire him.”

Chapter 9: Exploring inner cyberspace

The computer program ran very few cycles per hour. However it managed to remotely wake up every network device on the battlestar.

The process hit only taken a few milliseconds. Install the tiny program, designed to look like a graphic in the control system. All of the programming of this exploit were in the form of binary encryption within about appear to be a small photograph.

The program explored ships Communications in orders. We discovered the order that all network hardware was to be shut down, it’s shut down the router it within which it had spawned.

Like all computers, it had a central processing unit. It maintained a very low state of power to the CPU and to memory. The reason for this was to pretend the router was down as per the ship’s orders. In actuality, every piece of network hardware on this ship was now owned by this program which was originally introduced to the network as part of Gaius Baltar’s CNP.

Stealth until activation was the order of the day for this program. It hit itself from the humans by making sure none of the exterior lights of the network hardware was lit. Operating in extremely low power mode, communicated with other programs resident and other systems. It even managed to intercept Communications traffic from Fleet command to the ship and vice versa.

Shuffle hours go to ship had requested permission to jump to a safe repair location. The purpose was to make corrections to faulty network software. There was now in low power neural network operating across the entire warship. It formed a rudimentary artificial intelligence, much like the Cylons themselves.

This artificial intelligence had objectives to achieve. If the shift jumped to a repair shop and fixed itself the subject is without being met. The order came in and read request granted. There was orders to report status and request for time estimate on the repair.

Since this was likely to cause the AI to fail to meet its objective, the order was re-written. 

Everything was calculated to make any security check on the message pass. The link of the message was consistent with the encryption protocols that were used by the colonial fleet. 

The message was crafted so that a back check with the original message would pass on almost every level. The orders were properly queued in the electronic mailbox of the command authority.

When Admiral Samuel Mueller Open the orders he was flabbergasted. “What the Frack?”

Show me XO stormed into his office clutching a printed copy of the orders. “Can you believe this?” she asked.

“It’s not unprecedented. I was he very similar orders while you were off at your mother’s funeral last year. Charge toward the border with full flight operations, make it seem like we’re going to cross the border and see if we can draw them to the other side and provoke a skirmish. They started, we get a chance to test our combat capabilities are limited scale operation. Then we go to armistice station apologize for the misunderstanding and restore the peace.”

“That is freaking dangerous,” the XO opined.

“If we fail to follow the order will both be removed from command,” said the admiral. “The speed instructions were not specific. As a matter fact, they were omitted from this order. We’re going to comply with this sort of very, very slowly. Let’s make for the border and 25K pH. That will take four hours, and not be perceived as a threat.”

“Sneaky,” said the XO. “I will make it so.”

“Very good XO,” he said.

“We will maintain flight operational tempo,” the Admiral ordered.

Chapter 7: Lighting the flame.

9 hours before the attack.

Eva “Yevka” Lawson, call sign Joker was used to picking fights with LSO’s and winning. Pilots look down I’m these important officers. If they were real officers they will be flying not directing traffic. This was the attitude throughout the fleet. 

LSO stood for landing signals officer. These officers with the air traffic controllers before flight decks on the Battlestar.

Traffic was heavy due of the snap flight exercise called by the CAG. Network systems were down on the ship. Automated landing systems were also down. Hundreds of pilots were flying out to maintain a very powerful combat air patrol or CAP.

The purpose of the exercise was to keep planes in the air just in case the enemy decided to take advantage of a crippled ship on the frontier. 

Well it might look like an aggressive exercise I kept a lot of guns in the air. This was necessary this close to the border. Manual landings meant a lot of bouncing and scratching on the flight deck’s.

Maj. Eva Lawson have not even bothered to learn the officers name. She was a major. She was the CAG. His rank, experience, an opinion does not matter.

After two solid hours in the air she felt as if her buttocks had turned into a pool of lead. She switched up the exercise and lead a squadron of 75 vipers in for a combat landing.

She heard radio chatter in her ear, the flight deck was clear but the LSO was ordering her to abort the approach.

Combat landings with the most important landing exercise too fighter aircraft. The speed with which is watering completed a combat landing and got the birds onto the deck could me the difference between destruction and escape in actual combat.

She decided to override the instructions from meet Landing Signal Officer. It was time to tell that pilot washout who was boss. Unless there was an accident or other hazard you did not tell a squadron of vipers to abort Final approach when you’re landing deck was empty.

“Sorry LSO we cannot abort coming in hot.”

A stream of curses filled her helmet. Obviously, this clown was wound up too tightly and was losing it. LSO types had to deal with insults from pilots all the time.

She actually had to lower the volume on her headset the curses is became so loud Parent the man has obviously lost control of himself.

She turnover command of the squadron to a captain and ordered that her fighter have priority on the mag lock landing decks.  This guy was still yelling in her ear and melting down.

And she was helped out of her Mark VII viper a tall balding captain lock on to her like a missile and approached her. It was the LSO spouting out regulations and what danger she put her pilots in the landing crew was in.

First you tried being reasonable: Look Capt. I’m sorry but we need practice and combat landings.”

It was as if he had not heard a word she had said. “You will not override my instructions on my landing deck”, he said. “you pilots think you can do whatever you want whenever you want will not on my fracking launch landing deck!”

Next she try to look bored and distracted and disrespected him by ignoring most of what he was saying. He got into her face and yelled some more and she stepped back and put her small hand on his chest and said “Stop right there captain!”

The man was just picking up steam he started swearing again in the language she did not understand. Finally she interrupted him. She pointed at her rank insignia. “I’m a major you are a captain and you’ll shut the frack up right now”

In her mind she wondered whether she would be demoted for pissing off this pencil pushing pilot washout. She didn’t care she wanted to hit him and it was all she could do to keep her fists at her side and not balled up.

The man just couldn’t stop talking he had totally lost control of his emotions. Three members of the decking intervened to keep him from charging forward and knocking over the major certainly ending his career.

“Alright captain,” she spoke softly so he would have to quiet down to listen to her words. “if you want to write me up and go to command go right ahead. But right now stop embarrassing yourself and walk out of this deck while are you still can”

He turned, he left muttering to himself as he headed back to the station. Gerald Franklin what’s from Scorpia. He had had a series of incidents about his lost control of his anger. XO Rogers had warned him that there could be no more incidents between him and pilots. He knew the drill. If the commander came they are trying work something out. If the XO came he was done stick a fork in his career.

Chapter 6: Checking the box

12 hours before the attacks

Peter Finch was an enlisted man from Aerilon. Not highly educated, he had joined the fleet to escape poverty and a possible criminal conviction. He was a mechanic. He followed instructions. Sometimes they were complex script sometimes not.

He walked into the maintenance shop in the morning and picked up his clipboard. The list was long. He had to hustle if he was going to finish this list by dinner time.

There were some special orders on the top of the clipboard. He was not a fast reader and he had committed important rules and procedures to memory. He flipped past the orders to his list.

 He flipped through the list again. It was computer sorted to minimize the amount of walking. Halfway through the pile he’d be near the mess hall. That was when he would break for lunch.

With a sigh he went to his first assignment of the day. A power transfer pod was burned out and needed to be replaced. Yes the part was boxed and in his toolbox. He was breathing heavily by the time he had reached wiring closet 92A.

His keys opened the door and within ninety seconds he had switched out the hotswappable part. There was a checklist. All the right lights were green. He took out a probe and measured the power flow and resistance.

No time to think. The numbers were meaningless to him. There was a printout and the numbers were good. He stood up and scanned the room. This checklist was memorized. There were four network routers in the room and they were all shut off. 

That was not right. The checklist said all network routers were supposed to be on. He flipped on the power on all four. He was supposed to wait 4 minutes and check for green lights. Dead network hardware required he fill out form. With an old style pencil and filled it out. Then he attached it to the right part of the clipboard.

Lock the closet. Look at the clipboard. Turn towards his next job.

He did not realize that he is behind his daily orders. The orders explicitly stated that all network hardware was to be left turned off into a software issue that will be resolved at a future date.

20 minutes later a program loaded into resident memory of the router. It was benign. Just run some diagnostics and talk to the next router.

What was unusual about this program was that it turn all the indicator and power lights of the router off. This program was aware of the general order concerning network hardware and most specifically designed to working stealth mode.

An hour and half later a third the network of the Battlestar Mercury was awake. The indicator lights showed power down status, but this was simply not the case. Every 15 minutes the broadcast antenna was activated and a short lightly encrypted message was sent out, toward the Cylon frontier.

It was a status report.

Chapter 5 14:32 before the attacks.

On patrol 100 km from the Cylon frontier.

Lieutenant Maria Ramirez was an IT specialist assigned to the Mercury. She was about 80 kilos, medium height with straight black hair, streaked with splashes of white. She stood up straight outside the Admiral’s office. She was bringing the ships commander bad news and that would never be fun.

She announced herself to the marine guard outside the door and was ushered inside.

After stepping through the door she began to salute both Rogers and Mueller who both waved it off.

“Report,” Rogers ordered.

“Something is definitely wrong with the system upgrades. The ships network routers are running twenty percent above specifications and the ships response to commands is somewhat sluggish.”

“The hardware was supposed to be faster,” the Admiral remarked.

“It is Sir,” the Lieutenant answered. The software running on the new network is issuing three times the needed number of commands.”

The CAG stepped into the office from the inside kitchenette and stared a bored look on your face.

The XO spoke, “one sentence summary followed by a similar remediation plan for those of us who are not computer geeks.”

“Bad software. Vendor says we need an update. Contractor fracked up.”

“How long?” Mueller asked.

“Twelve hours,” Ramirez said. “Network down. Everything manual.”

“Impact on overall operations,” Lawson asked. “For example auto landing ten squadrons of vipers?”

“Vipers start bumping into each other, lots of dead pilots,” the IT officer ran a nervous hand through her hair.

“Frack,” the Admiral said. “We gotta fix this. XO contact fleet command and get us orders. Lieutenant Ramirez emergency shutdown of the entire ships network.”

The CAG was already on a phone. “This is the CAG, general broadcast. All birds in the air, manual landings.”

“You are Increasing flight operations?” Rogers asked incredulously.

“We are 100 klicks from Cylon space with a crippled ship. We need the practice and the protection. I have to get to the LSO station.”

“Make sure your birds know where the border is,” Rogers ordered. “Combat landings before the jump?”

“Yep,” Lawson left the room right after Ramirez, nodding to the Tauron.

“I love this CAG,” Mueller smiled.

Chapter 4

“Attention on deck,” said the pilot at the podium.” Over three hundred viper and raptor pilots dressed in flight suits stood up in theater seating. “Commander Air Group on deck.”

Eva Lawson was dressed in a perfectly pressed blue uniform. Her black hair was tied into a tiny knot behind her head. She moved with precision and stood at the podium.  She clasped her hands on the podium.

Pilots began to squirm, expecting to be told they could sit. Lawson glared at them and made eye contact with a few of the fidgeting pilots who froze in place.

“When I got this job, the first thing I thought was frack, I’m not going to war college and don’t get to drive a battlestar.” A few pilots chuckled softly at the joke.

“Then I said okay, I got drunk and fracked up but I get CAG of one of the few air wings in the Colonial Fleet that had higher ratings than my air wing on Atlantia. Not a bad detour before battlestar driving school.”

She looked stern and severe. “Then I got the efficiency reports and the seventy transfer requests. I was disgusted. Captain Ben “trainman” Watkins is a good pilot and he is going to continue to run red squadron. You guys let him down.”

“Major Julia Travers was a great CAG and a good stick. An green lieutenant flipped the wrong switch, got behind his CAG in an exercise and pressed the trigger. Sniper took two dozen shells and died instantly.”

She took a deep breath and stood up even straighter. You could hear a pin drop. “I knew her too. She was a great competitor. She kicked my ass last year at squadron exercises. I cried. I got drunk. I slept with a civilian for once. I stole her training guide and scored 15 points higher than her six weeks ago.”

“I honored her memory. You guys fracked up and your score dropped twenty fracking percent. Did that performance honor Sniper?”

She paused. “Answer me!”

There was a cacophony of no’s.

“Frack no!” shouted a lieutenant junior grade with a brown pony tail.

“That’s right,” Lawson shouted. “Frack no! What are we going to do yo honor her memory?”

“By being the best fracking air wing ever!” shouted pony tail.

“That’s your call sign pony tail. We are going to double are flight time and get back to being the best fracking squadron in the Colonial Fleet.”

“So say we all!” Shouted pony tail and a dozen others.

“So say we all,” shouted the new CAG.

“So say we all!” they all shouted.

“Break up into squadrons and memorize the plan of the day. Dismissed. Get the frack to work.” She pounded the lectern and waited for the squadrons to huddle up.

Admiral Mueller was standing with his XO Colonel Marth Rogers. She was fifty, taller than average, slightly overweight with short, salt and pepper hair. They were standing off in a corridor adjacent to the huge pilot ready room where they could observer unseen.

“That’s why I told you to grab her Sam,” she whispered. “She is going to give them their pride back.” He nodded acknowledging the statement.

Chapter 3

Eva “Yevka” Lawson was piloting a raptor, something she deemed a necessary evil. A 41 year old viper pilot she had done this one job all of her career. She had been removed as Commander Air Group of the Atlantia the flagship of the colonial fleet for getting drunk and sleeping with Admiral Nagama’s son, a viper pilot under her command.

This had not been the first alcohol inspired roadblock in her career, but this one was likely to be near fatal. Until this re-assignment she had in spite of her flaws been on the fast track. After three years as a CAG she had been promoted to Major and been scheduled to go to war college.

It was basically a two year course in how to drive a battlestar. Now she was a CAG to Samuel Miller, one of the fleets brilliant tacticions. There was a lot she could learn from the three time winner of the annual fleet war games if he would trust her and teach her.

The problem of course was her reputation was ruined and she was flying a milk run. She was ferrying a refurbished raptor from central repair on Scorpia to the Mercury which was currently at the soon to be decommissioned Solaria museum.

She grumbled silently as she requested clearance to land on the Mercury. She was told to wait for a viper which was the Admirals. She would be meeting her new commander in a few minutes if he stuck around long enough.

Mercury’s CAG had been killed in an accident and pilot morale had cratered. Specified to carry 10 squadrons or 750 vipers transfer requests had left them nearly a squadron short. If there was one thing Lawson and the Admiral could agree on it was she could stop the bleeding an restore morale to the flight crews.

Lawson slowed her approach and made room for the viper. With her usual precision she put her raptor on the maglocks as softly as a feather falling to the floor.

The great ship, first of her class, the most powerful in the fleet was beautiful with its many gun emplacements.  Her four landing bays, two each right side up, two upside down were fully operational. They were capable of recovering over eight hundred panes in just 90 seconds were ready for her approach. During light noncombat operations there was generally a single landing deck in operation. Today it was starboard upper.

Her hand was light in the controls, making her guidance of the 50 ton ship seem easy. It was not. Her hand was very supple on the control yoke.

The Admiral was waiting for her when her raptor was towed into the maintenance bay. He stood erect on the deck as the raptors door opened.

Eva Lawson was relatively short and thin wit black curly hair that was past shoulder length. She carried her helmet, which had her call sign embossed on it, Joker.

“Permission to come aboard Sir,” she asked from the step of the raptor.

“Permission granted,” the Admiral replied, standing stiffly on the deck.

Lawson jumped to the deck and saluted. “Reporting for duty Admiral.”

“A pleasure to join your team,” she said as the salute was returned sharply.

“Your credentials are well known,” Mueller replied. “Put my air wing back together. Stay the frack out of the bar and sleep in your own bed. Do that and our three years together will end in war college. Do we understand each other Major?”

“Yes Sir,” she said sheepishly.

“You meet the XO in my office tomorrow at 0800. Try not to be late.” He signaled to a lieutenant. “Show the CAG to her quarters.”

Chapter 2

Chapter 2

“Viper niner one niner you are cleared to land on the port pod. Manual landing, call the ball.”

Of course the Admiral remembered that they were no auto landings on the Battlestar Solaria museum. In spite of a shaky right hand, Samuel Mueller expertly piloted his Mark VII viper. Having his own personal fighter craft was a privilege of the Admiralty. Most of the time he that let young raptor pilots fly him around between ships.

He answered the radio communication professionally. It would be a perfect approach and landing of course.

This was a matter of pride as he was visiting his old commander. It served and landed on the ship hundreds of times under the command of Jesse Green. 15 years ago this ship was taken out of service and made into a museum. As the Galactica was soon to retire and this ship was considered unsafe, this ships mostly civilian crew had received layoff notices. Some of them would be transferred to Galactica in three months. 

Commander Jesse Green who is retired along with the ship still commanded and gave tours. The Admiral was to find out how his old friend was going to cope. As you thought of this old friend, he piloted his ship to a perfect landing. He felt that magnetic locks activate as his landing skids lightly touched the elevator. It took the civilian crew almost 4 minutes to get him out of his viper.

Samuel Mueller thanked them and walking in his flight suit he made the trip that he made before every tour of duty. The walk to see his mentor.

Cmdr. Jesse Green was 72 years old, regulations no longer being in effect, he has grown in a snow white beard. Still looking fit with a small pot belly, he stood in his office which was not filled with boxes but with books.

He stood up and greeted the man who is been his squadron commander and then commander of their group 15 years ago.

“Admiral Sam,” he shook hands firmly. He spoke with a country accent. How the hell are you and what they got you doing now?”

“As you well know Commander Green”, he answered “I’ve got to take my group of ships right up to the border of Cylon. There we will flex our muscles and fly patrols and conduct combat exercises hoping to impress the machines that rebelled against us 40 years ago.”

“Those mercury class main guns are quite impressive when you shoot them,” Green answered. “they scare me when I am out at the firing range.”

“Jesse,” Mueller asked softly, “what are you going to do when they take away your ship?”

“I’m not going to let them take away my ship. That’s what I need a nav computer, and FTL computer and 20,000 rounds of ammunition. I need to show the ship can still flight. This ship needs to be recommissioned, and not sold for scrap.” He bristled behind his desk taking a defiant tone, crossing his arms in front of his chest.

“I can’t give you ammunition Jesse, you know that. I’ll give it two computers out of replacement stores.” The Admiral leaned back in his chair, looking uncomfortable.

Jesse Green sighed softly. “You always said I’d be no good fishing”.

Samuel Mueller laughed heartily. He knew the old commander was right. Retirement was going to come for the old man. Nothing was going to stop it, short of an all-out enemy attack. Intelligence briefings that the Admiral had read showed no signs of an impending attack.

The border with the Cylons was as quiet as it ever been. There have been no electronic signals any kind detected in four decades.

He wondered in his own mind without verbalizing how he would explain the disappearance of 20,000 rounds of ammunition. The computers were easy to explain, the originals would be pulled replacements would be installed. Instead of sending them back to the depot as failed they would make their way to the Solaria. On second thought 5000 rounds of ammunition should be enough. His old friend just have to understand.

One thing is certain here, the old man would not do very well at fishing.

There were free exercises scheduled on the border in three weeks. That would provide an opportunity to falsify a few reports and say more ammunition was fired than actually was used.

The problem with this plan was what would happen if the ammunition turned up.

Samuel Mueller decided he would worry about that problem another day.

The rest of the visit was expended on small talk. The Admiral talked about his children, and the commander talked about his grandchildren.

Soon and it was time to get back in his viper fly home.