The CAG stood near the center of CIC. She was on the phone barking orders at her air wing. She still near the center, the normal place of the Battlestar commander. She was oblivious to anything other than orders she was giving. She had a mental picture in her mind.
This was a picture of a Battlestar that was vulnerable to attack on many factors. A potential cylon attacker could jump in and launch fighters at close range. That had to be defended against. A little she knew about this class of battlestar was that normally computer systems would run short range air defense.
A glance over at Lieutenant Maria Ramirez told Lawson what she needed to know. The curvey young woman was directing traffic and trying to shut down or computer systems to store them for back up. There will be no help from short-range defenses. The guns could be fired manually but not as accurately as a computer could direct fire.
“Okay,” she ordered. “I want six raptors in the air. Four of them assault raptors. I want them stationed in a rectangular formation where did intercept inbound enemy craft. I want two ESM birds one forward, one aft. I want each raptor to be accompanied by two vipers. I want six other vipers flying circular formation where did you engage any inbound craft.”
“In addition, I want two squadrons of fighters in the tubes ready to launch with pilots butts in seats. This is the ready alert squadrons.”
She paused and cracked her head to the side. She looked puzzled and then angry for a few short seconds. “squadron commanders I wanna be very clear here. We have suffered a cylon cyber attack. As far as I’m concerned we are at war and we are going to take a wartime posture with the defense of this ship. You can laugh me out of the fleet when it’s proven that this was just an accident made by some information technology weenie. I want blue and green squadrons in the tubes starboard launch bays. Am I clearly understood here?”
She paused for several seconds and waited for one of her squadron commanders there were eight of them to challenge orders again. Hearing nothing she requested acknowledgement and then slam the phone down the receiver as she entered the call.
“I’m going downstairs to direct my squadrons from the flight deck.”
She turned to exit CIC.
“Sir,” a skinny, nervous-looking lieutenant step forward. “I believe you are in command.”
“What?” Lawson looked surprised.
“The admiral and the executive officer have left the deck. You are the highest-ranking officer on the ship. I believe you are in temporary command of the ship from CIC.”
“Let me give you some prophecy young lieutenant. I am the CAG of the ship. I am the one who got in trouble and lost my command track training due to sleeping with a subordinate officer. It has been made very clear to me that I will never receive another promotion. I will never come out of the ship and I’m going to go downstairs and direct my airplane from the flight deck. You and Lieutenant Ramirez here can decide who is going to be in command of this battle star command center while the Admiral and XO are off giving therapy to the LSO.”
“The conn is yours Lieutenant.” Not knowing what else to do man saluted.
Major Eva Lawson walked over and stopped at the Lieutenant Ramirez’s workstation. “how goes the restore?” She asked softly.
“The Restore should take about an hour to complete. I’ve saved enough information on the cause of the failure to identify how the bad software got introduced to our system. I don’t know what program went wrong, but the digital signature shows it was written by a contractor not buyer on programmers. He is very curious. This doesn’t seem like a mistake it seems like an intentional attempt to leave a program in place to gain remote access to the ship.”
“Why intentional lieutenant?”
“A bad piece of code will cause the system to crash. Something with stop working. It would be localized.”
“This exploit formed a low intensity neural network that reached beyond the confines of this ship. That is extraordinary major. It is not something happens by accident. For security reasons most of the system software on the ship is written by conscripts in the colonial fleet. This digital signal shows it was written by a contractor.”
“Carry-on Lieutenant,” the major ordered.
Lieutenant Maria Ramirez had already checked out of the conversation mentally. She ran a hand to her long mostly dark but streets with gray or white mane of hair. As with most IT staff, military protocol was a suggestion to her. Her hair was extremely non-regulation, and I thought she was working out at the gym she made little effort to meet the physical requirements of a colonial officer.
She ran some scans analyzing the programs and network traffic from the incident at nearly disabled and destroyed the ship. What happened made no sense. She decided to take a new approach. She called up a list of all the new software that was introduced into this ship during the refit.
The list was quite extensive, as all software was upgraded to improve speed and efficiency. Of a special importance was the short range defense guns. A very big upgrade has been made to these systems. She scanned the software releases and found no malicious code. She marked on the sheet in another programming window that these particular systems are clean and they could consider reinstalling them.
The program, known as CNP failed the antivirus scan.
It was compiled software, so she put it through a decompiler.
She noticed the source code was with the software and decided to take a look.
There was hundreds of lines, maybe thousands of lines of inefficient source code in this program. It was almost as if somebody was trying to hide something through lots of lines of code. It was like hiding the tree in the forest. It was curious.
She tried to run pattern analysis against the software. That crippled the system she was using to you to do the work. It was damned odd.
She checked the software for the main Communications array and found it to be functional and virus free. It was time to re-join the colonial fleet network.
She typed in a few commands and the antenna came online.
“We have flash coming from Picon,” Reported a noncommissioned officer.
The young lieutenant who was left in charge of CIC looked excited and asked the question: “where do we get that from?”
“Long-range telescopes. At least a dozen light flashes became visible near Picon Fleet shipyards.”
The young lieutenant looked excited. I’m in charge of those telescopes, he said. The tenant Ramirez be a dear and take the deck for a few minutes I want to see this for myself.
It’s got to be some kind of reflective light phenomena from the sun. “
“Whatever,“ she said staring at her coat looking at the software for the CNP.
Then suddenly the young tenant information technology officer realized that she had actually been put in command of the combat information center of the mercury class battlestar. This was not what she signed up for.
She quickly issued her standard command for such actuations: “get a hold of the admiral and tell him to get up here to his command information center.”
The neural network that have been formed by the virus recognize that it was being wiped out with a system restore. There was no way to stop this process. It’s programmed in this very clear it sent to Communications packet out the newly restored to communications array.”
Time was not wasted on complicated encryption. The message was easy to crack and the hopes of the program or was that it simply would not be noticed.
* * *
As the restore continued to wipe clean the information systems aboard ship, Lieutenant Maria Ramirez noticed a large data packet was sent through the communication systems in the same direction as the traffic before the job. It was high speed, it was non-protocol, as it appeared to be directed at the armistice line.
She directed all the computer resources at her command to decrypt the message. She also directed whatever was left over to completely analyze the CNP program. That virus needed to be understood quickly.
“More flashes from Picon, looks like the same thing from Scorpia.”
Ramirez decided this was a distraction she did not need. She walked over and picked up a phone. She flipped a few switches and went into intercom mode. Her voice was broadcast all over the ship.
“Admiral Mueller, Colonel Rogers, “she said in a very annoyed tone. Report to CIC immediately.”
“We’re getting radio reports in from the 12 colonies sir. It sounds a lot like a cylon attack. It’s massive. Their nuclear flash is going off all over the colonies.”
This was quite ridiculous. Ramirez picked up a handheld communications device. “Admiral Mueller come in please. Colonel Roger’s come in please.”
“Major Lawson,” s he stopped for a moment looking at the data that was rolling in in text form. The walkie-talkie squawked and the voice of Major Lawson was heard.
“What the frack is wrong now?” Her voice was static.
“Fleet comm traffic indicates a cylon attack is taking place on the colonies. At least 100 nuclear flashes have been reported. There is absolute chaos but it appears the Battlestar Atlantia has been destroyed.”
“Sound action stations,“ the major ordered. “I’m jumping into a viper and launching with red squadron. Get a hold of the admiral and red squadron will launch I will catch up with them.”
“Action stations action stations that condition one throughout the ship, “the skinny lieutenant was back from his adventure and hopefully in charge for the time being. Admiral Mueller report to see I see immediately. Admiral Mueller report to see I see immediately. The young man was on shipwide.
At that moment Lieutenant Ramirez realized the message was not being broadcasted the entire ship. The intercom system was also one by computer and it was in the process of being restored.
“This is the major I’m launching now to catch up with red squadron red squadron, “ major Lawson’s voice squawked from the walkie-talkie.”
There were warning beeps and the overhead display shows red dots appearing at Long Range. “DRADIS,” an officer dutifully reported. “Six long range contacts they are not colonial.”
“Private, “ Lieutenant Ramirez got the attention of a young noncommissioned officer. Go to the LSO station in the starboard flight pod and get the Admiral and executive officer and bring them to CIC.”
“Yes sir, “ he sprinted out of the CIC as fast as his legs could care of him.
“This is Joker we’ve got bogeys inbound CBDR. I am directing red squadron to intercept and destroy.”
“Major Lawson, “ Ramirez spoke sharply. The colonies are under attack and we cannot raise the admiral. You are in command of the ship I need to get your ass out of your viper and into CIC.”
In her viper the CAG rocked her control stick and did a quick analysis. This was a time to redeem herself. Leading the air squadron to victory defending the ship will give her a second chance. The problem with the scenario was that Lieutenant Ramirez was 100% correct. She had no business being in a bird. She used to go find the Admiral and get him in demand and then launch.
“Get me a vector for the port launch bay. Coming in hot.” She engaged turbos and swung her viper around as hard as she can make the turn.
In the combat information center, Lieutenant Maria Ramirez was looking at the results of her scan of the CNP program. There was definitely a virus in it designed to get remote access to the ships network.’”
That was fine in about five minutes the CNP will be gone because the restore would be done.
She did a quick check to see if it was in other systems or planes. It made sense that it might be in planes because it was a navigation system.
Her stomach turned into a ball of lead. It was in every plane.
She pressed a walkie-talkie. It took three tries to press the talk button. “Major Lawson recall your vipers.”
“Recall my wipers?” She already had her viper aligned for a fast approach to the port upper landing bay. She had a caustic perhaps even toxic remark to make. Something inside her made her stop. “Why Lieutenant?.”
“The CNP program was used to exploit our network it’s on all your wipers sir. It’s on each and every one the cylons can remotely access all your planes we have to get them on the deck and purchase the program before we can use them.”
It was a click as major Lawson changed frequencies and got on the planes communications channel. “All vipers and raptors, all Raptors RTB recall recall recall.”
The commander air group shouted the orders desperately.
There was no answer, on the DRADIS display Green dots begin to disappear.
“DRADIS cylon raider just jumped in. Radiological alarm she’s got nukes.”
“To missiles in bound, defense of systems are off-line. They’re going to hit us.”
Lieutenant Ramirez looked at other results on her computer screen. The communications packet was cracked. It was a status report to the Cylons that included the exact location of every senior command officer.
The intercom is now restored and working. The reboot has been complete.
My missile was aimed directly amid ships. The other missile was aimed at the starboard LSO control station.
The young lieutenant was on the ships intercom broadcasting the entire ship again. “Admiral Mueller Colonel Rogers get out of LSO. “
The ship was rocked by two simultaneous explosions. One flashed at the starboard flight pod. The other hit amid ship. The entire Battlestar shifted position as major Lawson was attempting her final approach. The lights went out and she quickly had to change her course to avoid colliding with the ship.
30 seconds later she was on the elevator. The elevator was lowering her to the flight deck.
In the combat information center the DRADIS screen was full of red dots. They were more warning chimes. Four red dots much bigger appeared on the screen next.
“Cylon base stars. They’re launching Raiders. What do we do? “ The young lieutenant panicked.
“Begin jump prep,” Lieutenant Ramirez ordered.
“Where do we jump to sir? “
“As far away from here as we can get. Let’s go for the redline,” Lieutenant Ramirez ordered.
Major Eva Lawson sprinted into the bridge, still in your flight suit. “What happened to my vipers?”
“Commander Lawson,” where we are as reported. We have for sale on base stars and 1000 Raiders inbound CBDR. What are your orders?”
With calm under pressure Ramirez continued to report. Power to the starboard flight pod is off-line. The LSO workstation was targeted with a nuclear strike. I don’t see how anybody in that pod survived.”
Major Eva Lawson paced around in a short circle. It only took a couple of seconds. Reports started coming in. “Enemy contact 25 seconds.”
The major spoke in a barely audible voice. “Do you have a jump programmed?”
“I figure the redline,” Ramirez nervously stroked her hair.
“That will do,” she whispered.
“We are spooled up and ready to jump. Jump key is inserted. We are ready to jump on your orders.”
“Jump the ship,” Major Lawson ordered.
With a flash of light, the inbound cylon Raiders saw there target disappear.
The Battlestar Mercury had escaped.