Monthly Archives: September 2020

Pre-story Chapter 1

Colonial fleet headquarters after a computer simulated exercise.

Admiral Taylor was a short, hunched man with a bald head.

He was 80 years old and was a young commander of the viper wing and then a Battlestar in the first colonial war. He was the fleets foremost living expert on the tactics of the Cylons.

Major Eva Lawson was the CAG of Atlantia and was on the short list to become CAG of Mercury. She stood straight and her wild curly black hair was immaculate in a military bun. Her regular blue uniform was perfectly pressed and her boots were shining.

“Is the room secure?” asked the Admiral.

“We don’t use names in case we are listened to,” a faceless dry voice came from a speaker. “Information is codeword classified.”

“The information in the simulation has unique identifiers in it. If there is a leak, we will know who it is.” Lawson said softly as she was debriefing her future commander, Admiral Mueller.

“We are going to show you a video simulation.” The grizzled Admiral said. “Explain Lawless,” he gestured at the Major.

“We got fifty-one seconds of video from a mission near the Cylon frontier. We got a look at their new fighter type and base star design. It is an impressive platform. Missile launchers packed a lot of punch.” Lawson said. “The game simulation will come first, followed by a more theatrical version that our keyboard warriors created.”

“Move along Lawless,” the Admiral shuffled a bit and balanced himself with a walking stick.

“I have been asked to evaluate your air tactics. They were terrible. You did not task fighters to protect your two supply ships which were lost with a full load of missiles and nukes.”

“We did however beat the simulator two base stars and all,” Admiral Mueller noted and nodded to his XO,

“It indeed was impressive. You got unlucky and one of the nukes got through and took out most of your starboard armor. There were multiple hull breaches. The starboard pod was completely vented for a time.” the Admiral stood up straighter.

“Mercury class is a tough ship.” Major Lawson. ” I was most impressed when you got the Cylon raiders into a spot where they expected to get the kill and switched your flak engagement zone and frankly fracked them up. I have not been to Battlestar school yet, but you did a fabulous job of protecting your weak right side.”

“Lets roll the tape,” the elder Admiral said.

Admiral Mueller spoke softly, “I think we can take three base stars”

Eva Laws looked up a bright look on her face. “I want to fly the Valkyrie class ship.”

The Colonel ran a hand through her silvery hair and shook her head. “I am flying the small Battlestar. You fly the air wing and show us you are our next CAG.”

Admiral Taylor found a chair. He growled. “VR Glasses”

The three officers took off their VR holo-band glasses.

Admiral Mueller slapped his hands together as if cleaning construction dust from them. The Mercury had come through the simulation with almost no damage.

“I’m hungry,” the XO Mercury said.

Taylor croaked, “Speak to nobody about this. Be here at 6 a.m. sharp for the final qualifying exercise. Big fleet action.” Silently the three officers filed out of the room, discussing dinner plans.

Final exercise before deployment.

The next morning at 6 a.m. the four officers met in the VR suite.

Admiral Mueller took off his VR glasses. The grizzled old Admiral was smiling and looking sharp, having taken a short nap. “You have a comment?”

“Yes Admiral Taylor,” he spoke carefully measuring his words. “The base stars did not seem to work together. I watched to the documentary of your last mission on the Athena and the cylons would bracket a larger Battlestar and put in murderous concentrations of fire.”

Taylor smiled and rocked back in his chair. “Anything else?”

Mueller’s XO spoke up, “The gunships were not modern and ineffective. The Phobos class virus ships and wardriver squadrons were not improved and not very effective.”

“Also the numbers of fighter craft were only a fraction of what the Mercury carries,”Lawson complained.

“We only got fifty-one seconds of footage from the signals intelligence mission,” Taylor replied. “We saw the modern base star and the new fighter. Those weapons were extrapolated to be very effective. In the original simulation, they wiped us out every time.”

“Broke our forces’ confidence?” Mueller suggested.

Taylor cackled, “exactly. But this simulation dumbed them down too much?”

“Exactly,” Major Lawson answered. “We should find actual conflict with the Cylons easy compared to the holo-band.”

“I will take this to the Fleet Admiral,” he cackled again. “Lawless, the reason the Mercury can’t have a full eight squadrons of Vipers is computer technology has not been improved. The fleet is investing two billion cubits in new technology in this year’s budget. That is going to double in the next budget. The first fruits of this investment, the new CNP program is nearly done with its first release cycle, Next year when you come in for training, the simulator will be eight times more powerful.”

“Still the air combat seemed a bit like pilots are cannon fodder,” Lawson frowned.”We invest a year and a couple of million cubits in each pilot. If loss rates are going to be that high we will need to draft a quarter of a million pilots if there is war.”

“You are not happy sacrificing yourself for your command Major Lawson?” the XO asked with a hard edge to her voice,

“I am fine with it if it’s necessary,” Lawson replied. “I did it in this simulation same as what you did with the Valkyrie class ship. I know I’m a frack up in my off duty life and I just got bounced out of Battlestar school. If I get a chance you will see what I can do flying by example with your air wing.”

“Tell me about my air wing,” Mueller demanded in a soft, commanding tone.

“They were shaken by the accident that killed your CAG. They were like her children. It tore them up and their scores in the exercise and the simulator show it. They have had their time to grieve. They need to be worked hard and get their confidence and pride back.”

“Good,” Mueller said. “Pack your gear and report after a two-week vacation.”

“But Sir they need me now.”

“You have managed to violate regulations and piss off the fleet admiral and accumulate 91 days of leave,” the XO said. “We go to station in 15 days. The entire air win is on shore leave. Take a rest, put on a fracking chastity belt and report to the Cylon border with your Viper Mark VII”

“Frack this up and you are gone,” Mueller said. “Do it right and after a two-year tour I will personally vouch for and walk you into the war college for your first day of Battlestar school.

Admiral Taylor cackled again with his abrasive laugh. “Admiral Mueller you have been forgiven for the accident that killed your CAG. Admiral Martin was diagnosed with cancer. Commander Harris is taking over command of the Mars. BSG-25 is being renamed BSG-21. Admiral Nagasaki err Nagama was going to tell you, but part of being as old as I am is not having to worry about pissing off the fleet admiral. I do so enjoy acting just senile enough to ruin his surprise!”

Admiral Taylor cackled again. “Good luck Lawson. You can vacation with me at any time.” He gave her a lecherous look that chilled the newly assigned Mercury CAG to her bones.

Chapter 37

Major Ramirez was on a video screen from her quarters. The virus outbreak had reached every corner of the Battlestar. The small, cramped but well protected CIC did not allow for the social distancing necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.  Fortunately, the ship had a robust network that allowed people to work from any part of the ship and control and the other part of the ship. 

It was an ideal situation for those that private quarters. Most of the officers and enlisted people were not so lucky.

“How is it working out of your quarters?” Commander Lawson asked in a half-hearted attempt to lift her XO’s spirits.

“You mean my prison cell?” she asked, panning the camera around to cramped stateroom still decorated with the effects of the late Colonel.

“Sitrep”

“We have 21 viper pilots, 11 raptor pilots and 9 weapons officers tested and quarantined in one of the viper repair bays. Exposure rate is about 80%. It will take 14 days to see who is symptomatic. I’ve called off offensive operations. Its hard on the pilots we have left even to maintain a CAP.” Ramirez sighed deeply.

“Raptor one niner niner?”

“Just jumped back from an attempt to gather sigint on Caprica. Six hours late but there was an interesting find. She reached forward and changed the picture Eva Lawson was viewing. A wrecked Battlestar appeared on the screen.

“Why do I care Major?” asked Lawson. “Another wrecked Battlestar. Looks like Valkarie class.”

“Good eye Commander,” she zoomed in on a part of the launch bay. A light, battery-powered was flickering on and off.”

“She had power,” Lawson whispered.

Every other wreck they had found outside a shipyard had been completely powered down. All electrical systems had been shut down by a wirelessly delivered virus.

“This wreck was fresh, three hours old,” Major Ramirez reported. “I think we should risk salvaging the remnants.

“You are damned right Major,” Lawson stood up, feeling a sense of purpose. “There could be FTL parts, spare plane parts, maybe even whole vipers. Pair up some of the exposed asymptomatic pilots, if it can be done safely. Lets get the data recorders from CIC.”

“Aye Sir,” Major Ramirez stood up straighter. “It appears part of the Colonial fleet may have survived to fight on. Maybe there is a commander or admiral out there that wants to command this shit show,” Lawson spoke aloud but was not expecting to be overheard. 

Authors note: As an IT professional it never seemed realistic to me that a navigation program could be installed on 120 Battlestar’s and other fleet vessels without even a virus check or a penetration test vetting the software. I have long wanted to change the story, but have avoided it to remain cannon. This is a fan project, with no attempt to make money. So I’m going to retroactively change the story. I won’t reveal now how it changes, but the CMP virus will be discovered at the last minute allowing some of the fleet to survive. My vision of the colonies will still be dark at least with the politics of the day. I hope you like it.

In another note slitherine games Battlestar Galactica Deadlock has some unique features that allow me to record battle sequences. I have requested permission to use limited footage from that game to illustrate combat scenarios in this story.

The game makers recent release of modern ships including the Mercury and Valkyrie class in the modern basestar will enable me to illustrate the story.

This will slow down the story process because the choreography will have to be done carefully. But I think using clips to illustrate the story will make it more engaging to the reader. I hope the update is paid shortly to include a YouTube video of a prewar combat exercise.

Chapter 36: Pandemic Outbreak

Karla “Blondie” Knox had the sniffles. She knew exactly where she had gotten them. Five days ago she had volunteered to co-pilot a raptor sortie because she thought the pilot was hot and she had wanted to have a chance to talk to him.

Her interest was quashed when gentle probing made the man speak in a sad voice of the boyfriend he had left behind on Scorpia. Several of the runs to the dilapidated Jupiter class Battlestar from their tiny civilian fleet had been full of sniveling, sneezing rug rats. A career pilot one of the things she had given up for that job had been a family. Good riddance.

The five days since her abortive love cruise had been spent flying 12 hour CAP rotations as many of their pilots were busy in the simulators, training the first class of thirty civilians being trained up as viper jocks.

The second class of thirty was on her schedule for training starting tomorrow. Having lost nearly three hundred pilots on the day the Colonies fell but not their birds left a lot of cockpits to fill.

Now “Blondie” was sitting in the office of their ship’s doctor, 29-year-old Emil Washington. A slender, dark-skinned native of Picon. Call sign “White Coat” he had taken an interest in learning how to fly raptors before the war. The Admiral had shunned older doctors, wanting his team to be treated by a new, young doctor with new ideas.

Lieutenant Washington ushered the attractive pilot into the examination room of sickbay. He was wearing a mask. Knox took note of it, with a taunting voice remarking, “honestly doc I’ve been celibate, you aren’t going to get a social disease from me.”

“Flu-like symptoms,” he replied calmly, listening to her hear with the business end of his medical tool under the very attractive squadron leader, tee-shirt on her back. “I’ve had a dozen this morning. We’ve only got two doctors for this entire crew.”

“Damn,” Knox replied. “That’s cold.”

An idea occurred to the doctor, who turned away from the pilot and flipped through a print out of a medical journal he had picked up on shore leave two weeks earlier. “Nah,” he whispered to himself. “She’s too young for that.” 

Still, he flipped the page and began mixing some common lab chemicals for a test. With a long swab, he pushed it up the pilot’s nose before she could protest, going as deep as the journal recommended.

“Hey,” Knox joked, “give me back that chunk of my brain will ya?”

“Shssh!” 

The test would take an hour to yield results. “I need to isolate you until I get the results of the test. You may be highly contagious.”

“Seriously doc?” she protested.

“On that bed,” his look was deadly serious. In an outbreak on Tauron under better sanitary conditions that existed after the Cylon holocaust, had killed hundreds and only been stopped by a snap travel ban three months earlier. “Frack me,” he whispered.

* * *

Major Ramirez, not being a pilot and still cramming on how to manage the flight operations of the largest class of Battlestar had avoided taking CIC shifts. She had an off duty LSO Lieutenant by her side to avoid making a deadly mistake.

A six-ship raptor strike had just jumped back from its mission and two of the birds were damaged, one critically. The sleepy LSO recommended giving that raptor jock an entire landing deck of his own.

“Declaring an emergency,” its pilot shouted unsteadily on the wireless which was broadcast from speakers in the CIC.

Ramirez had never even been to sickbay, having met the white-coated doctor at a staff meeting which had degraded into a shouting match about supplies. So it was quite a shock when he had burst into CIC flanked by a dozen marines, everyone wearing masks covering their noses and mouths.

The thirty year old woman who still thought like an IT jock was surprised when two marines got on either side of her and pushed the LSO away maintaining a two-meter buffer around the officer.

The doctor said nothing, simply thrusting a one-page medical alert print out referring to the “Sunspot” virus. It showed a death rate of over one percent. She scanned the paper as her stomach contracted into a knot that felt like lead.

“What do we do,” she whispered to the doc, taking the mask he offered and putting it on her own face. She nodded and listened patiently as he went through the list.

“Social distancing on a Battlestar?” she asked.

“It’s tough the doc answered back. “But this has been circulating for seven days and the incubation period is 7-10 days. If we isolate right now and test everyone we may be able to protect between 25% and 33% of the pilots.”

Ramirez shuddered as she nodded. They had been on the offensive. They had been jumping around blowing up Cylon military targets for weeks. Based on what the doctor was telling her they would be lucky to cobble together thirty pilots the next few days.

“Frack me,” she breathed.

“Handset ship wide,” she ordered. The gloved marine sanitized the old-style telephone before she handed it to the XO.

“This is the XO. Shelter in place. Lock all bulkheads immediately. We’ve had an outbreak in the fleet of a deadly virus. Until you are tested, assume you are sick and do your best to remain two meters away from everyone else. You will eventually be met by medical personnel and masks will be distributed. CAP cut engines and maintain momentum, you may be up for a while.

She did not need an LSO for this.

The sound of hatches closing soon began to echo throughout the ship.

* * *

Eva Lawson was in her bed, asleep after another enthusiastic session with her lover when the noise on the intercom roused her to a wakeful state.

She tried to move her arms, and they did not move. She was in a strange position, groggy, but her wrists were tied behind her back.  “What the Frack?” she muttered before remembering the details of last night’s session.

She quickly head-butted the man, waking him up suddenly. 

“What the frack?” the older man asked, also blind-sided by the sudden activity in the middle of the night.

“Untie my hands,” Lawson said in her command voice. “There is a situation in the fleet.”

Since his model had actually introduced the virus into the fleet he was fully aware of the situation. He made a special effort to pretend to be surprised. “What is happening?” 

“Some kind of virus is spreading in the fleet. Let me go now.”

“Beg,” he taunted.

She head-butted him again and her expression became angry, reminding some of the Goddess Medusa. “NOW! she spat out her orders.

“I think you need to beg otherwise your command will find out their commander is submissive in bed.”

“You let me go or I will bite your fracking nose off,” Lawson threatened.   Her face indicated the seriousness of this promise.”

Cavil reached around her back and released her wrists just before three marines started banging on the door to the commander’s quarters.

“Commander,” a coarse voice came through the door. “Is anyone else in there with you? Commander, you need to immediately distance yourself from your friend. We are in outbreak protocol right now Sir. You need to be kept safe.”

Cavil took his time getting back into his shorts, black pants and black turtleneck. He sported a satisfied look on his face. Lawson was in lightning dress mode, still instinctual from her days as a pilot. She had done two tours in the disputed Tauron mining Colonies.

She was dressed in a wrinkled uniform 45 seconds later, pushing Cavil into the bathroom. After kicking his shoes into the same door, she let the marines in. She knew she was not fooling anyone, but appearances still mattered.

After she let the marines in, the marines went through the suite with weapons aimed, like a swat team clearing a room in a hostage situation. When Cavil came out of the bathroom wearing his wrinkled, black clothing, his hair rumpled on purpose, he froze when two marines aimed rifles at his head.

“Ceasefire marines,” he raised his hands over his head. “I’m unarmed.”

“Sir,” the marine sergeant said. “We are under outbreak protocols. Please maintain a three-meter distance from the commander until you are tested negative for the virus.”

“What the frack,” Commander Lawson asked.

“It’s all on your tablet computer commander,” the marine leader added. “You are not going to be allowed into CIC until all staff are screened negative.”

“How the frack am I to run combat operations from my office?” Lawson stated in a harsh voice.

“Talk to the XO,” the marine replied. “There is an entire bank of monitors being installed in your office.”  He turned to Cavil. “Come with us Sir.” His voice left no doubt about the consequences of disobedience.

The ship’s doctor came in next in his white lab coat, carrying a test kit. He was wearing a surgical mask.

* * *

Commander Eva Lawson was fuming by the time the crew had gotten through her quarters. A ten-person crew had gone through all the nook and crannies of the Commanders suite, cleaning everything and re-arranging all her gear.

Most offensive they had taken her flight suit and helmet. This had offended her pride as a pilot. She had started this journey, the Cylon exodus, or the second Cylon war as a CAG, and that was part of her core identity.

Nothing was more precious to her than the symbols of being a pilot. She had never been the best pilot in her squadron, but she had always been good about sticking with her wingman and staying out of trouble. She had risen through the ranks because she was reliable and had established relationships with pilots and non-pilots that were necessary to keep a Battlestar squadron air group functioning efficiently.

When she had objected to the removal of her flight helmet, the cleaning crew had merely shrugged their shoulders. Apparently in this situation, the