Monthly Archives: February 2020

Chapter 31

The Mercury CIC was on edge, having attempted to jump directly into  a firing position that provided a targeting solution for the main guns. The current thinking on tactics was the Mercury’s forward facing guns were so devastating the preferred tactic was to charge targets at high speed and aim at the enemy ships enter axis and cut her in two on the first pass.

“DRADIS” Major Ramirez ordered.

The display rippled showed a possible contact and then went dark.

“They are jamming the DRADIS!” an NCO who knew her stuff shouted.

“I’m expecting a target dead ahead,” Commander Lawson barked.

“Radiological warning,” an officer shouted urgently.

The DRADIS formed an image before breaking up onto static.

“The base star is not in the position reported by recon,” Ramirez warned.

“Engines ahead flank speed,” Lawson ordered. ‘Evasive course.”

“Inbound nukes,” another officer shouted. “Eighteen of them!”

“It’s an ambush,” someone else shouted as they felt the engines kick in with emergency power.

“Triple A full automatic,” Ramirez and Lawson both ordered.

The sound of the guns firing an intense barrage filled the CIC.

“Flak has taken out twelve, scratch that sixteen inbounds. Stand by 17 confirmed kill’s one damaged.”

The roar filled the ship as the entire ship rocked and rolled while still accelerating.

“Set course for a lazy S” Lawson ordered. “Think of her as a big viper. We’ll swing around and take them out before we jump home.”

“FTL offline, repeat off line.” Ramirez was on the phone taking a damage report.

“Repair estimate?” Lawson asked.

“Three hours. Shock damage to two of the three FTL drives actuator arms. One can take us through one jump. FTL number three needs a replacement before we can jump. We need all three units working to jump this barge.”

“DRADIS contact, three new Cylon base stars, launching raiders.”

“Definitely an ambush,” Lawson concluded while planning her next move. The base stars were in a classic bracket forming a box around the Mercury where they could fire a barrage and wear her down with the shear volume of fire.

“Launch vipers, arrow formation they need to clear a path between us and base star number two. Alter course to two two zero use thrusters for negative z. I think we’ll have a firing solution in ten seconds. Main guns salvo mode. Use course correction to fly us toward center axis. Weapons free, anything that can fire forward.”

The distinctive report of the forward weapons echoed throughout the ship. The DRADIS showed one of the targets growing larger and ten seconds later break into several large pieces.

“She’s gone Sir. Nice shooting.”

“Okay prepare to recover the vipers. Launch two attack raptors on their original mission. How long can we keep up this burn and keep away from the remaining three base stars?”

“Two hours and forty minutes but the problem is the raiders can jump ahead of us and block us.”

“Recall vipers, reload, refuel and re-arm. We’ll keep a squadron in the air to deal with raiders.”

“We’re not going to do well with this giant ship showing them our ass Sir,” Ramirez said.

“Major have you been reading up on battle tactics?” Lawson looked bemused. “What am I thinking, of course you have. What am I missing?”

“This shark’s teeth are the main guns up front Sir,” the former systems analyst said. “It’s their advantage us showing them our tail.”

“We can’t take sustained fire from all three,” Commander Lawson scrunched her lips a bit as she thought.

“You said it yourself, think of it as a big viper that turns really slow.”

“Just like flying a Mark VII, they scatter when we charge and if we get lucky we isolate one of them and get a kill salvo in on her center axis. Tell engineering the ride is going to get rough. Hard about, aim for their center. Forward guns are weapons free if they get a firing solution.”

“I’m letting the vipers know. We are going to take a pounding Sir.”

* * *

Karla Knox, call sign one day had just launched to take her third rotation defending the crippled Battlestar. She was leading the squadron this round because during the last rotation her squadron commander happened had been hit by enemy fire. His viper had been damaged and he had suffered minor injuries.

“We’re doing what!?”

She had heard the instructions but did not believe her ears. Out numbered 3 to 1 the commander was trying to face their three pursuers.

The reason that’s why they paid me and there’s a big cubits. She got on the wireless and addressed her squadron. “Make a 180 we’re going up the gut. We’re helping the beast try and turn the tables on three Cylon stars. May the Lords of Kobol be with us.”

She yanked on her stick and poured on the power and turned her mark seven viper around. The DRADIS was filled with raiders. They were plenty of targets. She got back on the wireless. “Let’s make a hole for the big barge that we used to know as the Battlestar Mercury. All vipers weapons free.

From her cockpit she could see the Battlestar making a sharp turn and heading back towards there for sewers. The three base stars did not seem to know what to do about this tactic. This was a situation in which one was expected to run as quickly as possible.

It took less than three minutes for them to use all their ammunition and cut a hole in the sky it was full of raiders. Karla Knox was not certain that the smart thing to do right now is to do a combat landing on the Battlestar. However, with no ammunition and not a lot of fuel to back it up that was not there was very little choice.

“Well children it’s time to do combat landing while we’re doing a battle charge of the Battlestar mercury. Blue squadron I hope you’re ready to launch because we are out of ammunition in doing us a combat landing”

“Blondie you are fracking crazy,” said a familiar voice in her wireless headset ear piece.

“At least I’m not ugly like you rocket pants! I’m going to lead them in I’m taking port side lower pod. We are not going to wait to see if she survives this battle run we just got a land and pray.”

“All vipers get in position to support a battle charge. Mercury is going to turn and fight.”

“That is fracking crazy,” another pilot chimed in.

“All right,” Knox shouted into her wireless microphone, “pipe down. Commander has a plan. We are going to help make it happen.

* * *

The lights flickered in the CIC as another blast hit the ship shaking the entire ship. Commander Eva Lawson paced a few steps in each direction. Suddenly she turned and barked out an order.

“Send extra men to engineering to help get those extra actuator arms. Give me ship-wide I want to say something.”

An NCO handed Commander Lawson. She took a deep breath gathering her strength.

“This is the commander,” she began. After a pause during which the ship was rocked twice by long range fire. “I’ve made a bad tactical decision and we are outnumbered five to one. We are on the run, showing the wrong end of this Battlestar to the cylon base ships. Our tactical situation is bad. If we are going to die today we are going to do it like Colonial warriors, fighting hard.”

“We are going to turn and fight. You have in the past month grown into the finest crew in the Colonial fleet. I am honored and proud to serve with you and fight the second Cylon war. You are ready. Let’s show these cowards, who could only defeat the twelve colonies of Kobol with trickery, not a fair battle, how we fight. That is all.”

With a flick of her thumb, Lawson flicked off the microphone, bringing the broadcast to a conclusion.

“So say we all!” A young, female NCO blurted out.

Two more people piped in. “So say we all!”

The entire CIC chimed in for the next round. “SO SAY WE ALL”

There was an echo coming from other parts of the massive fighting ship, the words penetrating the very frame of the ship.

“Prepare main guns for a firing solution,” Major Ramirez ordered.

“All hands prepare for a battle charge.”

“Hard to port,” Lawson ordered after seeing there was damage she would rather not expose to enemy fire.”

“Maximum turn efficiency. Turning!” The frame of the Battlestar began to strain under G-forces. Turning now.”

“Forming up,” Karla Knox spoke over the wireless. “Weapons free!”

* * *

The vipers formed an arrowhead formation in front of the Battlestar as it completed its turn. A dozen assault raptors formed up tightly to the left of the Mercury. Nine more formed up on the right side.

“What’s with the raptors?” Major Ramirez asked. “We didn’t give the raptors any orders.”

“They are forming up to charge two of the other base stars,” Commander Lawson said.

“That is suicide,” Ramirez noted.

“Aye,” Lawson said, sounding like a farmer speaking with an accent.

“Main guns have a firing solution,” the tactical officer said with a little too much volume.

“Weapons free,” Lawson ordered.

The ship resonated with the sound of the main guns as they began to fire, To the left and right of the Mercury raptors charged, firing rockets at two base stars. The two ships not under assault quickly reacted moving away, beginning to belch a massive missile barrage.

It took about thirty seconds for the base star center axis to collapse under the withering fire. The raptors peeled off after emptying their rocket launchers. Their two base stars, clearly burning began to fire missiles into the Mercury, which disappeared into a cloud of smoke and mist.

The four remaining base stars, formed a firing box around the Mercury, which suddenly lurched to the right in an evasive turn. Fires were burning on the exterior of the ship, fed by oxygen flowing out of hull breaches.

* * *

Karla Knox held the trigger until every last round of ammunition hurtled into the base star’s hull before peeling off to the right, wondering what she should do next, save fly her plane into the base star.

* * *

In CIC Lawson looked up at the damage control display, seeing that they were about to lose navigational control.

“Looks like we are going to get hammered in a few more seconds.” Ramirez grimaced.

There was a flash from a large FTL drive. Emerging from the energy field was the Battlestar Solaria museum. It’s flight pods were extending, as it completed a perfect tactical jump allowing it to aim its underside main batteries at one base start and its topside batteries at another.

It’s engines flashed as it accelerated into the battle, pounding two base stars, one of which erupted in pillars of fire.

“This is Solaria,” Captain Atkins announced on the wireless. “We heard you had a little more work than you could handle. We are going to take some of it off your hands.”

“We are going to get clear, recover our planes and complete the FTL repair,” Lawson announced.

“Roger that,” Captain Atkins said.

“FTL shows online,” Major Ramirez announced.

“That was a little ahead of schedule,” Lawson said.

“It was those extra men you sent. They got the actuator arms of the FTL drives replaced, helping speedup the repair,” Ramirez reported

“This is engineering,” a crackling transmission came on the CIC speakers, “we are going to have to vent a couple of sections to stop the fires from spreading.” He then announced the sections.

Chapter 30

Captain Brad “Reptile” Adkins settled in to the commanders office on the Solaria with a frown on his face. The desk nameplate from the previous occupant, Commander Jesse Green was still on the desk. None of the crew had survived and that meant there would be ghosts on this ship.’’

Adkins knew he should be happy to be alive. The hit on his Mark VII Viper had been devastating, destroying the entire plane, triggering his ejection seat.

If ever there were a dead-end job, this was it. Just under 2,000 civilians had been crammed into barracks that had not been updated in forty years. The rule, requiring the able-bodied take duty shifts and help out, though necessary to run the ship had sparked a rebellion. Each and every person with a gripe was still in shock about losing their families a month ago.

He sighed and looked at his electronic calendar for a free appointment and then sent the invite to the leader of the civilians.

There were less than two hundred properly trained crew aboard this fifty year old museum. Morale was low because the Jupiter class was like living in the stone age compared to the Mercury class.

There was a buzzing three tone sound going off right now. Adkin’s looked around for another moment and then remembered the three-note tone on the analog phone.

He leaned over and picked it up.

The lights flickered and the ship wide intercom announcement came on with a crackle and a voice began to speak.

“Set condition one throughout the ship. This is no drill.”

Adkin’s pressed a button on the phone which was cradled in his hand. “What is it?”

His face froze with horror in the ensuing seconds.

“Three. I’ll be right there.”

He went about getting into a uniform like a fireman.

He strode into the mostly empty CIC which was set up like a theater and designed to be operated by dozens. At least some automation had been installed here during the refit. The ship itself if it moved would damage to scaffolding being used to convert the starboard landing bay from a museum to at least be able to recover vipers and raptors.

He looked up at DRADIS his XO an unknown lieutenant without even any flight experience.

“Three base stars Sir,” the LT reported. “Launching raiders.”

“Spin up FTL. Get all external workers back in the bay. How many vipers can we put in the air?” Adkins realized that he was totally unprepared for this job.

“Forty one are ready in the tubes Sir,” the LT replied.

“Launch Vipers. They need to screen for us and then conduct combat landings when we well before we jump. Pod’s have to be retracted on this bird, right?”

Adkins got an affirmative reply via a head shake.

“Vipers are launched forming a picket line. The repair ship is complaining we are going to damage their repair scaffolding!”

“We will come back for it. Gun crews prepare a flak barrier.”

“Captain Adkin’s we are short of gun crews. Only topside guns will be manned.”

“Be sure to show them our good side LT.”

The young woman did not get the joke.

“Vipers are short on ammo Sir,”

“Recall them, combat landings,” Adkins ordered.

“Jump key is in FTL drive is spooled and NAV has the emergency jump coordinates.”

The next two minutes passed with only position reports.

“Air wing  is recovered,” the LT reported. “Civilians are demanding to know the sitrep.”

“They can fracking wait until we have one,” Adkins snapped.

“Air wing is aboard.” The LT got on shipwide and her voice suddenly boomed. “Retract the pods,” she ordered.

There was a terrible screeching sound that shook the entire ship.

A minute later they had jumped to safety. Since he was really a CAG his first thought was to get a status to Mercury so they would not jump home and end up in a crossfire coming from three base stars.

“Spool up two recon raptors and have them jump to the battle zone with our status update. Jump, take readings, exchange secure messages and come on home.

“Yes Sir,” a nineteen year old who did not look old enough to smoke acknowledged the order, picked up an ancient analog phone with a cord and relayed the orders.

After relaying the orders the teenager spoke to Atkins. “We have a problem Sir. Though we have assigned and trained enough gun crews to man and fire the topside and underside guns and the guns protecting the pods less than a third of the assigned crew have responded to the battle stations alarm.”

“Oh really,” Captain Atkins said. “Put me on ship wide.”

The young woman with floppy curls hanging wildly to each of her shoulders pressed a few buttons, got a feedback squeal, and then pressed another button. “St…Stand by for the commander,” she said. With a delay and a burst of static, her voice echoed through the aging museum ship.

“This is Captain Atkins. I’m going to be honest with you. I did not want this assignment.”

In the unsanitary, out of date crew quarters people looked up with full attention. The elderly, women with small children. Adult men and women who were assigned duty.

“I was a CAG, Commander Air Group on the Mercury. That I s chief pilot in plain language. It is the ultimate job for a Viper pilot, it is what we all dreamed of fifteen years ago in the academy and flight school.”

He cleared his throat and went on. “But I got that job because Admiral Mueller and Colonel Rogers died in the Cylon attack. The old CAG who is well known as a great pilot without classic command training had to give up flying and take up a new role which she was unprepared for. Commander of a Battlestar and military leader of our people. She did not complain about her fate. She put her head down and started working hard on pursuing a one warship war against the Cylons.”

“Today she is on a mission to hit a fuel depot and deprive the Cylons of the fuel they need to pursue the survivors of the Colonies. The Mercury may be in trouble. She may need our help.”

“Most of the billions in the Colonies are dead. They did not choose their fate. They had it taken away from them by the Cylon. We need to crew our gun batteries. Less than a third of those assigned to crew them have answered the battle stations alarm.”

“I know. You don’t want to be here. I want to be out in a Viper killing toasters.”

“You think you are unlucky, sentenced to a slow death with disgusting, dilapidated and unsanitary quarters. I get it.”

“You don’t need to accept that premise. You are the lucky ones. You are on the best protected civilian ship in our little fleet. We have armor protecting us, and an air wing to fight for us. Most important we have big guns that can be used to fight back and show the Cylons we will not accept the fate they have for us.”

Atkins raised his voice almost to a shout. “WE will LIVE!”

“We will man our guns and learn to fire them and maintain them and spread death and havoc among the machines that wish to exterminate us. I say we step up and give them hell. I say we have some pride and show the frackheads on Mercury that we don’t need fancy computers and luxuries to be a fighting force and kick some toaster ass.”

On a roll now, Atkins went on. “I will tell you something else. We should take pride in our living quarters and start to fix them up. If you need supplies and support you come up to the commanders quarters and let me know what you need.”

“We need to stand up and man our posts. We need to do this to show the toasters we will not go quietly into the night.”

“The pods are finally retracted Sir,” the teenager reported. “We are ready to jump. So say we all Sir!”

“Jump.”

Before the FTL jump Atkins thought he heard “So say we all!” echoing through the half empty bowels of the ship.

Chapter 29

James “Jaybird” Thompson had been given secondary missions ever since the fall, which was only a month ago. Today he was on primary with a mission to do a micro jump and take out the refinery. His new electronic warfare officer, “Plano” was strapped in because they were in a raptor launch tube. He looked a fat stuffed bear in his seat belts. There were only a few of these on a Mercury class Battlestar. They were dedicated for special missions.

The Jaybird call sign had been hung on him by his mother who thought we looked as cute as a blue jaybird in his uniform blues. Waiting for the combat jump had always been a problem in exercises for the Tauron native. IT made him itchy and it rarely happened with precision on complex options.

It made him nervous. He checked the status board and found that his wingman raptor 719 was in another tube and all systems were green.

“Plano”, the 32 year old pilot ordered. “Weapons systems check.”

“Roger that.”

Jaybird adjusted his helmet.

* *  *

Karla “Blondie” Knox was a platinum blonde, medium height pilot with a chip on her shoulder. She was a Lieutenant with a decade of service before the fall. A squadron XO she was expecting a promotion as the squadrons were being re-aligned due to the heavy losses on the first day of the second Cylon war.

Her squadron was in the tubes first and Captain Jenkins was leading the against any raiders that happened to get in the way. Call sign “Hiker” had been the commander of a squadron for six years and was due to the CAG’s injury on a fast track to being the next CAG.

If that happened she’d have her own squadron. She looked at her watch and tried to remember exactly when the combat jump was planned. Four raptors had jumped ahead to do recon.

Knox was one of the fleets hottest sticks, they only one in the last five years to have beaten Kera Thrace in dogfighting competition. It was only a few tenths of a point nobody ever beat “Starbuck”.

She was considered the hottest prospect in the fleet talent pool and had chosen to serve under Admiral Mueller among five Battlestar groups vying for her services. Mueller had taken the most recent simulator war games with a highly controversial high-speed jump.

He had burned a large portion of his fuel allocation getting up to a high speed under sub-light and then triggered the jump.

This was harder to calculate but resulted in a ship that was difficult to hit in the first critical moments after a jump. It took precious seconds for DRADIS and other computer-based systems to calibrate and take star fixes.

The top Battlestar group, BS-21 had landed Knox, who was a heavy hitter in her own right.

* * *

In CIC Commander Eva Lawson felt the urge to pace. She felt as if her legs were cemented to the deck. She knew that pacing nervously would set the wrong message. The next step in the strike plan was to speak to the four recon raptors that had been sent to make certain the coordinates for the combat jump was clear of enemy forces.

It simply would not be acceptable to find themselves in a swarm of Cylon raiders on the other side. Her own written mission orders were very clear: if the four raptors did not return the mission was off. Back out plan was to jump to emergency coordinates and then rendezvous with the Solaria.

Commander Lawson looked over at Major Ramirez and mouth the words ‘Are they overdue? ‘

Major Ramirez ran a hand through her mostly black hair and nodded in the affirmative.

“Start the clock,” Lawson ordered. “How late are they?”

“Three minutes,” Major Ramirez answered.

Now it was okay to pace.

“Prepare to change to the emergency jump coordinates,” Lawson ordered.

“Nav is standing by Sir,” came the reply of a crusty older NCO.

There was a characteristic beep and three blips appeared on DRADIS. The computer quickly identified the raptors as three of the four recon birds.

“Get them on wireless.”

“This is Pony,” the harried raptor pilot came on speaker. “Raptor niner seven niner disintegrated after the jump,” the man’s voice was high pitched and filled with angst.

Ramirez was up and on a wireless connected telephone handset in about three milliseconds. “Pony report on disposition of cylon forces and safety at the jump point. The Tauron Major was full of energy and vigor. She was barking out her orders, nearly growling.

“The coordinates for the jump inbound are clear. We have definite track on one, repeat a single Cylon base star. They are running no combat air patrol and are instead relying on the fueling stations fighter cover. We counted CAP at 50 toasters.”

“Do you have coordinates of the base ship?”

“Yes Commander, transmitted.”

Ramirez leaned in close. “What are you thinking?”

“Change the jump point after getting in close and ending the mission early, That is kind of crazy isn’t it Major?”

“It’s very crazy Sir,” Ramirez replied. “Re-writing the strike plan with forty raptors in the air is asking for disaster.”

Lawson looked unconvinced and her expression froze for a few seconds. The clock clicked past five minutes behind schedule. “Right,” she said “original strike plan or abort. Or do something out of the box.”

“That’s reckless Sir. Colonel Rogers would relieve you just for thinking about it.”

“Jump in two minutes, new coordinates right on the base star. Transmit coordinates to the raptors, they are to adjust and hammer the base star with a missile barrage. By the time that’s over we should have a firing solution for the main guns.”

“Vipers launch on the other side?” Ramirez looked ready to join the party.

“No hold them in reserve. Have the raptors verbally acknowledge the new jump coordinates. On my mark jump in ninety seconds. Mark.”

Someone adjusted the digital countdown.

“Jump key is in,” reported the FTL officer.

“New coordinates are in,” reported the NAV officer.

“Raptors are checking in.”

“Task the SAR to see if pilots survived niner seven niner,” Ramirez ordered.

“FTL is spooled and ready,” reported engineering.

A quiet sense of anticipation settled in for the next sixty seconds.

“Execute combat jump,” ordered Lawson.

“Jumping Sir,”