Monthly Archives: April 2020

Chapter 33: Overload

Commander Eva Lawson walked into CIC more relaxed than she ever remembered. All her career she had been fracking up due to her strong sex drive when she could have just had a civilian relationship. This was so much easier if the fracker would stop showing up in her quarters unannounced.

When she saw Major Ramirez with a smug grin on her face, she wondered if she should not have her lover investigated thoroughly. It was obvious from the previous conversation that the Executive Officer was taking care of that.

“What’s on the agenda?” Commander Lawson asked.

“I ordered a series of raptor recon sorties to start finding us the resources we need to manufacture more Vipers and replacement hull plating. We’ve got several sets of good readings that might lead to some ore.”

“You didn’t ask for a meeting on that did you?”

“No Sir. One of our raptors picked up signs of a civilian fleet. Well what’s left of it anyway. Cylon’s decimated it a couple of weeks ago we think. The pilots are waiting in the command ready room. Jaybird and Plano.”

She sighed as she turned to leave the room. “This is not going to be one of those fun meetings they talked about when I applied to Battlestar Command School?”

“No Sir.”

Minutes later she was in the command ready room. The map had been cracked but the models of Vipers, Raptors and one of the Battlestar Mercury were still on the table. Jaybird and Plano both stool up when she entered the room.

“At ease,” Lawson waved her hand. “Tell me what you found.”

“Well Sir,” Jaybird began, “we found the remains of a fourteen-ship civilian fleet. It was at least twenty plotted jumps from the Colonies.”

“That’s conservative,” Plano shifted in his seat, looking like he needed to lose enough weight. “These were probably civilian FTL drives, we are not sure.”

Lawson tilted her head to the side. “Out with it.”

“The ships were stripped. FTL, weapons lots of gear.”

“So the Cylons stripped it, what is the big deal?”

“No Sir,” Plano continued. “The Battlestar Pegasus stripped it.”

“Why do you say that?”

Plano dropped a data chip on the desk. “They recorded some logs after Pegasus left them stranded. The missing parts in this fleet represented everything we would need to provide spare parts to an attack damaged Battlestar.”

“Oh my,” Commander Lawson sighed. Now she had an outlaw Admiral to deal with. Somebody that outranked her and had soon poor judgement.  “All right. Get with the CAG and lets do some long range recon flights. We need to figure out what happened to the Battlestar Pegasus.”

Under her breath she stated that Rear Admiral Cain was going to have to be arrested for war crimes.

Lawson looked at the wall clock, realizing she had been on shift for nearly seventeen hours.

She decided to get some rack time. Alone this time.  Having a civilian buddy with benefits had a corrosive impact on her sleep budget and her readiness.

* * *

Commander Eva Lawson had just entered the deepest part of the human sleep cycle when a buzzing interrupted her dream about a visit to Tauron.  It was a strange dream to be truthful, but she needed the sleep.

She turned over in bed and slapped where the communications panel was supposed to be. She knocked an old style phone off the hook, as even modern Battlestars had low tech communications to keep the Cylons from listening in.

Groggy, she had trouble understanding the message.  “Lieutenant,” she said, “speak slowly please.”

“Recon just found a fleet of eight civilian ships. Conditions are pretty severe aboard, but we have a civilian fleet Sir.”

“This is good news,” Lawson ran a hand through her curls. She was having the mother of all bad hair days. At least as Commander she had her own private shower. “Why did you wake me up?”

“There is a problem Sir. A virus has infected most of the fleet. They need medical supplies and their engineers are telling us they might not be able to maintain life support much longer.”

* * *

Commander Eva Lawson yawned as she walked in to the planning ready room. Just as she lowered her arms Major Ramirez offered up a cup of steaming coffee.

With a grateful look she smiled. “Now I know I was right to make you the XO. What’s the protocol for an outbreak like this?”

“Our survey team estimates the virus has infected 25% of the passengers of the fleet. All vessels are having an outbreak.”

“What’s the mortality factor?” She stopped walking as she came face to face with a middle-aged man with silver hair. Once he had sported an athletic build, but now he had a bulge in his middle.

“We don’t have good data on mortality, but conditions in this fleet are unsanitary,” the man, wearing a white lab coat over his military greens reported.

“Who am I talking to?” the commander looked confused.

“Colonel, Wilson DeMarco,” the doctor answered. “Retired until the attacks that is.”

“What are we going to do about this outbreak doctor.”

“Colonial military policy is to quarantine the ships and provide aid. There are nearly twelve thousand people jammed into those ships. Conditions are unsanitary. Besides the virus there may be a secondary outbreak of cholera. I’ve already ordered the survey teams into quarantine. We will need to keep them that way for fourteen days.”

“What the frack doc, we are already short of pilots.”

“This is a very contagious virus. It’s killed over four percent of the people that were infected in the two weeks prior to us discovering the fleet.”

“All right,” Commander Lawson ordered. “Full quarantine. Lets get some supplies to those ships.”

Major Ramirez walked up with a hand held communications device. 

“What now?” Lawson snapped, 

“The Commander of the W.S. Wright says he needs to speak to you.”

“Does he need to speak with me? We’ve just encountered twelve thousand civilians with the potential to drain our resources completely or kill us with a deadly virus.”

“Yes Sir,” Ramirez handed over the walkie talkie.

“DeMarco you are in charge of the virus outbreak. Nobody sets foot on those ships. Get with logistics and tell them what supplies are needed to take care of this.”

“From the looks of these manifests, they need to off load several thousand off overcrowded ships”

“Well they can’t do that now can they, unless we want the museum to get infected.”

“I’ll get a team to develop a test for this virus and we can take people who aren’t sick and transfer them to the Battlestar Museum. There are probably a lot of people that can help crew that ship.”

“Get on it and get out of my face Colonel.”

She turned her back to him, playing with her uniform buttons with one hand and cradling the portable communications device with her shoulder.

“This is Kevin McGowen of the Delphi Trader,” the fracking device was on speaker mode. Lawson could not figure out in five seconds how to make the communication private and promptly stopped trying.

“This is Major, I mean Commander Eva Lawson. What have you got for me?”

“We are not the only civilian fleet. A week ago we picked up an escape pod from another fleet. They were traveling with the Battlestar Galactica and Secretary of Education Laura Roslyn was the president.”

“Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds?” Lawson asked. 

“The survivors claimed to be looking for the home of the lost thirteenth tribe of Kobol, searching for Earth.”

“Roger that,” Lawson said. “Keep a lid on this information. We’ll develop a test for this virus and then get you over here for a one on one talk.”

“We are having to eject bodies into space,” McGowen reported. “We’ve lost over a thousand people from this outbreak. We’ve been out of fresh water for three days.”

“We will take care of you. Lawson out.  What else could go wrong today?” She fumbled for the off button until giving up by slamming the device onto the map board, sending a scale model of the Mercury skidding in its wake. The model tumbled on its side and fell off the table.The NCO who retrieved it

Chapter 32: Damage

32

Eva Lawson and Maria Ramirez were sitting together in the pilots ready room, some papers strewn on a portable table. Battle damage had shattered glass in the commander’s quarters and office so Commander Lawson was temporarily homeless.

“So how bad is it XO?” She steeled herself for the news which she already knew would not be good.

“Couple of hundred hits damaging the ships armor. We have teams crawling on the outside of the ship applying patch kits.” Ramirez looked thinner and the white streak through her hair looked like it was getting wider.

“Remind me what is a patch kit?” Lawson knew she had read it somewhere, but just could not remember.

“This ship can turn raw ore into Mark VII Vipers and raptors. We can also produce hull replacement kits to repair damage to the outer armor during a long mission. Right now we are not producing, we are just drawing down from stores. The problem here Commander is we are consuming supplies and we lack the trained crew to operate the equipment and produce more of anything this ship can produce.”

“Why weren’t we properly crewed?” Lawson asked.

“Well,” Maria Ramirez said, “our mission was to patrol the Cylon frontier. If we were sent out to explore deep space and look for more Colonies then we would have had a full production staff aboard.”

The commander sighed and ran a hand through her hair. She needed a shower. “Can we train our people to run these production suites?”

“We can train anyone. The same VR suites we are using to train new Viper pilots can train people how to manufacture. The problem is we are short of people.  We lost a few hundred pilots during the fall when the starboard pod depressurized. So we’re not short of Vipers, those were mostly serviceable.”

“So we don’t need to produce vipers until the number of pilots balances with the number of planes,” Lawson added helpfully.

“Right. We are going through pilots and planes pretty quickly. Ten Raptors were destroyed when they charged the base stars. Another two dozen were damaged, mostly small stuff but it takes time.”

“I’m not forgetting we lost half our deck gang and transferred some people to the museum to maintain those birds.”

“Right Commander,” Ramirez pointed to a paper on the table. “At the rate we are going we will be out of pilots in about six months.”

“We can’t do big, high risk ops,” Commander Lawson said. “It may feel good to throttle down the Cylon fuel supplies but they will always have enough fuel to operate three or four more base stars which is more than they need to destroy us if we get caught like we did yesterday.”

“I supported the tactical move because it was likely to shorten the battle and conserve resources. It did not turn out that way. We have to knock this big bang crap out. We see a lone base star, we can make a charge and usually take out the enemy in a few minutes. Recon says they are travelling in threes right now which is enough firepower to engage us in a battle we can’t win with light damage.”

“So” Eva Lawson’s hand went on her chin and she thought. “We need to draw them out of these safe formations. Low intensity conflict. Jump, spool, fire and jump. Get better recon.”

“Exactly Commander.” Ramirez looked at her watch. “Your quarters are going to be ready in about five minutes or my boot is going up some ass. Long term, if we are going to produce outer hull replacement gear or planes we are going to have to identify civilians with the necessary skills and offer them better quarters on Mercury.”

“I’ll speak with the civie leaders and maybe we can entice a few with some better quarters.”

“That’s an XO job Sir. Get some rest, maybe some exercise, and I will set you up with meetings to close the deal.” Her emphasis on the word exercise had subtext to it.

“Thank you Major,” Lawson picked up the reports and walked out. There were no parents to notify and that robbed her of closure. She looked at the paper in horror. Her actions had killed 34 pilots and wounded another 19.

Commander Lawson picked up the reports and left Major Ramirez working on other details that fell into the job queue of an XO. It was clear that the responsibility was weighing on her and it looked like she was visibly losing weight. She could afford to lose some weight but the pace had been steady in the month since the attacks.

When she walked into her quarters, the crews were picking up their tools and clearing out of the outer office. Several of the display cases had been shattered. Lawson could not quite remember what was there, perhaps it was models of the ships that Admiral Mueller had commanded.

“I guess are going to have to put something new in the display case Commander.” It was her lover Brother John.

“How did you get in here?” Lawson asked, tilting her head to the side.

“You are short staffed,” he grinned impishly. “I volunteered to do damage control. It looked like a Cylon shell exploded in here when we got here.”

“Yeah,” Lawson began to undo her hair as she walked in the office into the living quarters. The bed was made with different sheets and blankets. “We’ve been using up the resources of this Battlestar at a pretty fast pace.”

“Do tell,” John asked curiosity in his voice.

“Do get into the bedroom and get ready to make me forget I’m a Commander and thousands of lives are depending on me.”

“Get your clothes off then,” John said in a commanding tone.