Monthly Archives: October 2020

Amazing battle with a last minute comeback.

Amazing run

BSG Deadlock Armistice Major mission 2

Chapter 47: The M stands for mobile

Video credit: BSG Deadlock player Lochdanon – he helped shoot a lot of the footage.

Commander Eva Lawson was on a tour of the secret shipbuilding facility with Major Martin. Since the Mercury was still not considered clean from the standpoint of CNP related software, the tour was conducted on the Valkyrie class vessel, the Falcon.

Many of this class of ship were named after birds. Nobody knew why. Someone liked birds at the office that choose ship names.

The facility was impressive. A number of structures had been converted to the task of warship building. There were three observatories that were designed to dock six smaller vessels. These had been modified and extended so they could now accommodate a Mercury Class Battlestar.

Crews were at work, repairing battle damage on a wide variety of ships. 

Major Martin conducted the tour from the forward observation lounge of the ship. Communications infrastructure was limited to light signals. The room had been insulated against all known forms of transmission.

The Falcon was moving around the shipyard and a Minerva Class Battlestar came into view.

“That is a Minerva?” Lawson’s draw dropped. “I trained on one of those. I thought they were all taken apart.”

“We assembled this one from the hulks of four others that the scrap yard had drifting around. The contracts called for the complete disassembly of the ships. The contract terms were interpreted quite liberally.”

“Thank the gods for that,” Lawson replied, showing little emotion or devotion in her voice.

“Yes thank the gods,” Martin said, sounding more like a believer.

“You have eight ship building and maintenance platforms in all?” Lawson asked, proving she had read the 900 pages of intelligence briefing material she was given by hand.

“Yes. Four converted observatories, an actual platform that was supposed to be assembled and added to Scorpia shipyards and three put together from wreckage salvaged at various fleet bases.”

“All fully FTL capable?”

“Yes commander,” after the revelations about Brother John the Cylon, Martin had a hard time saying these words without having a second thought.

“Briefing says it takes ten minutes to button everything down and make a jump. That is an eternity in terms of the way combat has gone with the Cylons in this war. Any way we can speed it up?”

“We run a couple of drills a week,” answered Major Martin. “It disrupted the entire production cycle, but we think we can get it down to seven or eight minutes.”

“That sounds good. I’d like to watch the next drill.”

“Of course, commander.”

“That NCO who killed two security guards. What did the investigation yield?”

“Maybe you should ask the Cylon you were fracking, Major Lawson,” said a female voice from behind.

The two officers turned around to see an athletic looking, tall, brown haired woman in her late thirties or early forties. She was dressed modestly in a long black skirt ad simple white blouse. She wore no jewelry and her skin was clear of blemishes. Her hair was shoulder length and hung loose.

Behind her was a pair of beefy men, dressed in uniforms similar to the police, her security detail. They looked alert, heads on a swivel, but they took no interest in the conversation.

“That is acting commander to you Misses Brooks,” Lawson replied as she did not offer a hand  shake.

“Not if the council has to approve it,” Brooks said with a self-assured look.

“Only the president and the quorum can change military law,” Lawson said, making an effort to keep her voice calm. “Military law says I am a commander until another officer is found. I believe president Roslyn and the quorum are on their way to the thirteenth colony.”

“Our lawyers say the law of presidential succession states that these powers fall in the event of death or incapacity to the executive of the duly elected peoples council.” Brooks looked quite calm, almost practiced.”

“I don’t have a lawyer,” said Commander Lawson. “I just have a Battlestar that answers to my orders.”

“Are you threatening a military coup? Are you going to defy my lawful orders?” Brooks still looked rehearsed.

“We can set up a meeting,” major Martin suggested. “Surely there must be somebody from the judge Advocate general’s office alive, somewhere in this fleet.”

“If you ever expect to wear the commanders stars, you will deal with the council and me.” Said Mrs. Brooks.

“Frankly, if given the choice between sleeping with politicians and sleeping with a Cylon agent, I would rather be demoted to commander air group and go back to sleeping with my subordinates. Perhaps Admiral Cain would be available to meet with your council.”

“I read your report commander,” Brooks answered. “We have appointed the prosecutor and she will be if she is ever captured tried for crimes against humanity.”

“Well then perhaps you can allow me and Major Martin to discuss when we can bring the Solaria in the rehabilitation it so badly needs.”

“I am not done with you Lawson,” Brooks interrupted the attempt to change the subject.

“Today we are done, executive Brooks. My executive officer is named Major Maria Ramirez. Contact her and we will get you an appointment.”

“I have other tools at my discretion,” Brooks threatened.

“That my cubit will get you a cup of coffee,” Lawson replied and turned away from the woman.

A loud speaker came on: “Action stations action stations set condition one throughout the fleet. Contacts. Cylon Raiders CBDR. This is not a drill. Prepare to jump the shipyard.”

Cylons jump in

“We’re not gonna have time to get me back to the Mercury,” command Lawson remarked to Major Martin. I will have to coordinate this from your CIC.”

* * *

Aboard the Mercury, Major Ramirez was outwardly confident. Inside her stomach was tied in knots. She parked out orders, “Have to see a CAG get me a count of how many birds he can get in the air. Immediately recall the CAP. Combat landings are authorized. Spin up anti-aircraft weaponry for automatic. Twenty percent power turn to starboard, we have to be prepared to fight for 10 minutes to save the shipyard. Get me a line to mercury actual on board the Falcon immediately.”

Commander Lawson picked up an old-style telephone with a metal cord. She brought it up to her mouth and began to speak to Major Ramirez. “Sit rep.” she demanded.

The answer came out on loudspeakers. “Four base stars for support ships just jumped in. They don’t know their way around here they’ve only watched recon.”

“You know the drill. I will come in the fleet from here. The Mercury is yours. They will do you proud.”

Major Maria Ramirez put her phone back in its holder. She was not so sure. People are at least following her orders though so she kept barking them out.

“More contacts,” Arthur Garner reported. We have four more base stars coming in from the other side. We may be bracketed.”

More base stars jump in

“Isn’t there some kind of place we need to drive the Battlestars before they can jump out of here?”

“Yes sir,” Garner answered. “The toasters are blocking it.”

“We are going to have to fight our way through,” Garner added, “once the shipbuilding platform are gone.”

“As I recall from my lessons with Commander Lawson, the main guns on this beast are what we want pointed at the Cylons. Let’s alter course thirty degrees to port and start punching us a hole.”

Mercury turns

“Radiological alarm!” Garner reported. “We have nukes inbound toward one of the ship building platforms.”

* * *

Aboard the Falcon Lawson had the same tactical situation in mind. She let Major Martin direct the battle around the nearest shipbuilding platform. She was looking at a larger picture. The latest Cylon arrivals were in the way if the fleet was going to escape.

“Major Martin,” Lawson got his attention. “The ship building platforms can jump from here but we can’t.” He nodded affirmative. “Why is that?”

“We have upgraded the computers on the platforms. They have much more compute power than a Battlestar. We have also limited the amount of information on the fleets NAV computers to make it more difficult for the Cylons to trace us back to this location.”

“Got it. We are going to have to get through a couple of base stars to make that happen.”

“Roger that commander,” he said. “Once the platforms jump, we have a plan to execute. Mercury can take one and my base star squadron can take the second one.”

“It is going to be rough Valkyries against a base star.”

“Yes sir,” Martin acknowledged.

Fighting a delay action

.* * *

“This Battlestar is assigned to the base star squadron?” Lawson was in disbelief.

“I would not ask anyone under my command to do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“Can two of these Valkyrie’s take a base star?” Lawson asked.

“Not as fast as your Mercury can, but yes we can do it.”

“All right, I am on the fleet tactical channel,” Lawson said donning a modern headset. “Look’s like six minutes until the first platform is ready to jump out.”

Eva Lawson withdrew to a communications console. It showed every ship in the shipyard. There was a lot of movement on the screen. She took a mouse and clicked. Quietly she waited for the commander to answer.

“This is Mercury actual,” she said just loud enough to be heard. “You are venting fuel. Pull back from the action. We will punch a hole through to the jump point.”

Cory Brooks, who had taken an instant dislike to Eva Lawson, stood arms folded, while the 41 year old woman showed leadership and did not feel the need to shout. She kept tabs on all the warships and civilian vessels, like a sheep dog, watching her sheep.

“Where is fleet-wide?” Lawson asked fumbling around with the mouse.

An NCO stepped forward and pointed to the right control. “This is the commander,” she said, hearing her ow voice echo on loudspeakers. “All ships move out. We are going to clear a path to a safe jump point. Everything has to move or the Cylons are going to destroy it. Prepare to execute operation mobile exodus. The Battlerstar Solaria, is guarding the first jump point. The future of this shipbuilding operation and the peoples of the twelve colonies. We can not fail.” There was a loud click when she ended the transmission.

“So say we all!” shouted a crew member working the weapons console.

“SO SAY WE ALL!” another officer near DRADIS shouted. “Reinforcements jumping in.”

“All part of the plan,” Major Martin explained. “Keeps us from getting ambushed.”

“They are firing nukes. I have five, no six heading for targets.”

“Spin up the Valkyrie’s” Major Martin ordered. “We need to get moving to take out or drive away the base star blocking our way to the first save jump point.”

“I see a Minerva leading a charge flanked by a squadron of Valkyries,” Lawson said in disbelief.”

“That would be the Apollo,” Martin reported. I’ve got an LT commanding her right now.”

Museum relics join the battle

Major Ramirez looked up from DRADIS to a tactical arrangement she had on a tablet computer. It was difficult for her to understand what was going on from only one of the displays. She got a feel for it when she looked up and down at both. There were two ships between the Mercury and the safe jump out point, calculated for the fleet.

She whispered to herself the sequence of events. First she had to get the two base stars to expend their ammunition and harmlessly take it down with flak and PCM fire. Then they would need to turn the big main guns on the front of the ship toward the target.

The initial charge needed to spread the targets apart and isolate them. “Easy,” she said, “just like in the simulator. “Mister Garner have helm bring us into the attack pattern.”

“Yes sir,” he confirmed the orders and then relayed them to the helm. The ships turn movements were quiet and fluid. Soon the guns would start to bark.

Note to reader: The next three video sequences occur at the same time. The story has three separate arch’s depicting the battle.

Fighting to reach safe jump coordinates.

Involuntarily, Eva Lawson balled her fist and began to dig her nails into the heel of her hand. She was in the CIC of the Falcon. She was a tiny ship, though this was the best protected part, it was madness to go with a pair of Valkyries against a Cylon base star.

“Wolf-pack formation,” ordered Martin. He saw the second Battlestar coming into formation as they gunned the engines and got the ships some momentum

Valkyrie base star squadron goes to work

Eva Lawson wiped perspiration off her brow as the guns stopped continuous fire. There was heavy damage but the Falcon had survived wolf pack formation.

“The first shipbuilding platform has jumped away,” reported the Falcon’s operations officer. “We lost one platform.”

“We need to jump out of here,” Lawson urged. She did not seem to be giving an order.

“Recovering our Vipers Sir,” the operations guy answered back.

“Combat landings are authorized and encouraged.” Major Richard “Rick” Martin was smiling. They were taking losses, but the plan seemed to be coming together.

Operations said, “spooling up FTL drive. NAV computer is online. Jump  when ready.”

Chapter 46: Recon

Cavil was probably clinically depressed if not psychotic. His military campaign against the colonies was going poorly. The Galactica was leading a government taking 47,000 civilians into an exile, pursued by thousands of Cylon forces. The fleet of 1000 ships that wiped out the colonies was now spread across the galaxy looking for Galactica.

A rogue Batttlestar, the Pegasus was running rough on Cylon forces in the same general direction as Galactica. They had recently ambushed a base star group near Kobol, cleaning up the mess in the wake of the attempted assassination of Commander Adama.

Galactica had managed to take out a base star over Kobol. By the time a force recon of two base stars made it to determine the fate of the first base star the Pegasus jumped in and destroyed one and badly damaged a second before jumping away with hardly a scratch on her paint.

There were sixty base stars in pursuit of the Roslyn fleet with several hundred support ships.

Eva Lawson who was being fracked by a copy of Cavil’s model had run a successful campaign to deprive the Cylons of fuel. Half the force following Adama had stopped off to mine and process tylium when they had actually run out of fuel.

A group of five base stars had intercepted Lawson and Mercury and was bracketing her for the kill. Remnants of the CNP virus reported Mercury’s FTL was down.

Lawson had turned from running and conducted a high risk Battlestar charge, taking out one base star. Then the decrepit old museum that Galactica was slated to replace, had jumped in and disrupted the battle just enough so that Commander Lawson’s engineering team was able to replace the part and ring the FTL drive back on line.

Cavil had made sure the Lawson fleet had contracted the deadly Sunspot virus, and the infection rate in her overcrowded fleet was over 50% in the first week. The primary defense against a virus was social distancing and separation were impossible in an overcrowded fleet.

Battlestar Group 34 had done the least damage to the Cylon occupation of the colonies, but now represented the greatest threat. They had wisely avoided confrontation with the forces occupying the colonies, but had managed to put together a self sustaining ship building operation.

The entire operation was jump cable, using FTL drives seized from several manufacturers in the four solar systems that made up the twelve colonies.

They had mining ships, plans and were able to fix battle damage to their fleet. Further, they had raided the bone yards where hundreds if not thousands of war ships had been stripped an decommission and acquired millions of tons of materials that they could recycle into parts for their fleet.

There was an unconfirmed report that they had a ship yard consisting of between four and eight converted observatories and were in the process of producing Valkyrie class Battlestars.

The entire operation could be jumped with about ten minutes of preparation. Cavil had no idea what the size of their forces were and who was leading this effort.

Cavil came across an electronic intelligence that BSG-34 had rescued over 100,000 survivors from all twelve colonies. The Amaragosa, a Valkyrie had been lost trying to rescue survivors on Caprica.

That was a double edged sword. That many refugees needed a lot of care and feeding. That would likely expose the fleet and allow for their location to be pinpointed and destroyed.

On the downside, that many refugees would provide a steady supply of labor for the shipyards and crew for their fleet. They could if left unchecked grow into a force strong enough to take back the twelve colonies.

The good news was a member of the Peoples Council was raising all kinds of trouble for the war effort. Demanding that workers get paid, and that the fleet stop drafting people into the war effort. You would think the leader of this legislative body was a Cylon model, but no Cory Brooks was a 37 year old housewife that had lost her children in the attacks. She was a woman of principle. She was better than a Cylon agent.

There was no good news, until a Leoben stood smiling in his doorway.

“What are you smiling about?”

“I was under cover at the shipyards set up by Battlestar group 34. I was a low ranking enlisted computer operator. I’ve got their location, how they have avoided being detected as they jump in and out of this facility. I’ve got it all.”

“Good. Give me a written report. We can put together some forces to slaughter this outpost of humanity.”

Leoben smiled. “Right after you get me posted to the fleet pursuing Kara Thrace and the Galactica.”

“Whatever you want,” Cavil said “your models obsession with Kara Thrace will be your undoing.”

“All of this has happened before,” Leoben said. “and it will happen again.”

Cavil clopped his hand on the desk, making such a loud noise that Leoben was startled. Without further comment, he dropped a data stick on the desk.

“Get me our force commanders,” Cavil bellowed into the intercom. “We have some humans to slaughter.”

Two days had passed since the resurrection of the Leoben. Cavil was looking for something to throw when the military forces reported what they had available to crush the newly resurgent colonial civilization.

“It is amazing we even won the war,” Cavil muttered under his breath.

It occurred to him that he had not received one of the lurid, pornographic reports from Brother John the Cylon that was fracking Commander Eva Laws in some time. If he had been discovered and killed, his memories would become available to the entire model.

That would be very entertaining. It was probably something simple like an isolation protocol to stop the spread of the Sunspot virus.

Before putting the thumb driver the Leoben provided into his workstation, he wondered if he should have it checked. He jammed it in and began reading at high speed.

More great news, BSG-34 had a vaccine for the virus.

What the frack else could go wrong today.

Chapter 45: Data Transfer

Lieutenant Arthur Garner was the first appointment for Major Ramirez and Major Martin, the commander it turned out of Battlestar Group 34. They were quite short of bodies if they could not find a combat commander.

Garner was tasked to make all the systems of all of the ships in the Lawson fleet as it was known safe for the final jump to the secret location of the shipyards.

A special system had been set up to protect this location. The jump coordinates here kept on encrypted thumb drives. They were good for 72 hours and avoided the requirement of the NAV computers calculating a safe jump.

From the systems perspective it was pretty slick. The NAV computer was told to do a blind jump. No record of the start and ending coordinates was possible. A bunch of zeros were stored on the log of the NAV computers.

The jump coordinates were read off the encrypted thumb drive directly into computer memory. The jump was run from there. A very powerful, “air gapped” computer was used to calculate coordinates. There was no network connection at all.

There was a collection of celestial data that was downloaded by a second computer and transferred to the NAV calculator as it had come to be known for calculating the actual jumps.

Major Rick Martin conducted a security meeting in person every day with the computer operator. The computer operator was a tall, athletically built man with a beard, blondish that was on the border between beard and stubble.

It was a Cylon Leoben programmed specifically to suppress the obsession with religious drivel (Cavil’s description) about Starbuck. Starbuck was off with the Galactica fleet and there were things to be attended to here in the world of the incomplete destruction of the colonies.

He had just finished reading the classified daily threat assessment that included news of the impending arrival of the Battlestar Mercury. He had a photographic memory and this was easy for him.

This situation left the Leoben alone and out of contact. His instructions were to provide information when contacted. That was supposed to be contact by another Cylon agent.

The other Cylon agent a model 1 Cavil had been caught and killed when Battlestar Group 34 had captured a heavy raider that boarded a Valkyrie class Battlestar. Having experienced the tactic on a prior occasion The Amaragosa had concentrated its fire and winged the heavy raider on approach.

The occupants of the raider were mostly killed, but were led by a model 1 Cavil.

The Cylon command, under a different Cavil was aware of the operation and found a way to communicate with Leoben. They manipulated the celestial information adding a picture file to the daily report of data that their agent was called upon to inspect and put into the NAV system that calculated the jumps.

The secondary authentication method for the system was a DNA based system. You put your finger on a reader and there was a DNA scan. If it was a Leoben that processed the data, a message notification showed up in the final page of the check in for the information.

This was to be read after the check in. It was in fact a picture file taken from one of the national parks of one of the Colonies. It was a one time only run of a screen saver that changed photos every few seconds.

The first photo contained the park sign of the entrance to a national park on Caprica. There was a lengthy rules statement and certain words according to a mathematical formula were relevant.

After 30 or so pictures the screen saver show ended. Checking himself the Cylon wrote down he message on what he imagined to be a whiteboard in his head. “Guest is on the way to your location. Need recon. Resurrection is online at your location.

The Leoben was triggered into activating his programming. He typed a portion of the CNP program into a text file. He moved the file with his administrative privileges into a location where it would be read into the core programming library.

That would occur tonight during someone else’s shift,. The instructions had the Leoben on automatic pilot.

He proceeded to walk to the security checkpoint at the entrance to the secure military outpost. He had been talking up the guard’s a pair of attractive females for months as he was programmed to.

At some point the conversation went to discussing the training in firearms.

“Do you even know how to use that thing?” Leoben asked, chuckling. He pointed at the firearm in the closer guard’s holtster.

She proceeded to take out the gun, a standard issue for the fleet and ejected the clip, the the cartridge. She disassembled, field stripped, lubricated the firearm in about three minutes. Then she assembled it and put it on the desk right in front of Leoben.

The Cylon, following a program built into his existence, picked up the weapon and the clip. He inserted the clip into the bottom of the weapon. He set the safety, pulled back the back and put a round in the chamber.

“Give me that back,” the first guard reached out with both hands.

The second guard pulled out her weapon and prepared to use it. This was an attack. She hesitated a half a second to press the alarm button.

Leoben raised the weapon in his hand and shot the armed guard first, right through the forehead, killing her instantly.

He let loose another shot completing the double tap.

The unarmed guard ducked and picked her dead partners weapon from her hand, which was still clutching it, This very short delay doomed her as Leoben shot her twice through the forehead.

Next he pointed the weapon at his own temple and fired again.

He was dead and on his way to the resurrection process, his head full of classified information.

Chapter 44: Brother John the Cylon

It was bizarre the way Brother John the Cylon was taken into custody. After weeks of quarantine Commander Lawson had bent the rules to have him in her quarters supposedly for a booty call.

Instead of that thirty minutes after his arrival John the Cylon was arrested for being a Cylon agent.

Fortunately for the commander there was evidence of wrong doing,

The bio-metric logs on her keyboard showed that he had accessed it an left behind DNA.

He had used the terminal at least four times in the weeks after the attacks, but before the pandemic.

John the Cylon had accessed classified information about the combat capabilities of the Battlestar Mercury. Documents had been accessed and read before several operations, including the near disaster raid on the Cylon refinery.

The problem with the chain of evidence was that was where the trail went cold. Brother John was the overly curious lover. He just wanted to check on his survival odds.

What Eva Lawson could not control was what the Cylon said during interrogation. There was lots of kinky bedroom talk to be repeated and Lawson knew it could permanently damage her command, perhaps the entire war effort.

Well obviously that was why John the Cylon had created the relationship in the first place. It was only natural that a woman of her vigor and appetite would find a lover.

What dumbfounded the commander was how she had found a way to do something worse than sleeping with a subordinate.

There was muffled talk in the hallways and corridors of the Battlestar. “Cylons look like us now. One of them was so convincing he was fracking the commander.”

Commander Lawson needed to manage this investigation and manage it fast. If this talk about Cylon resurrection was true they could not shove Brother John the Cylon out an airlock. They needed to bury him in a hole that was very deep.

They needed to keep him safe and not telling his Cylon friends about his romantic and other adventures on board the Battlestar Mercury.

The Dossier provided the first piece of the puzzle. The Cavil captures and eventually killed by Battlestar Group 34 was an accomplished liar.

He had conducted religious ceremonies, celebrated births, deaths and life events. “Thank the Gods,” he liked to say.

Commander Lawson turned over the evidence and gave six hours of recorded testimony to her XO, Major Ramirez. The trimmed down second in command was a witness to some of the goings on, but the Dossier convinced her that Brother John the Cylon could not tell the truth.

Maria Ramirez would lead the interrogation. After four hours she wanted to take a shower, but she needed to read her commander in.

“Brother John is obviously trying to tear apart this command, Ramirez said in her first informal report to her superior officer. “He spent a lot of time dropping kinky little tidbits thinking I would write it into the report or be disgusted by it.”

“He picked the wrong woman commander. I’ve done kink, both sides, top and bottom. It does not phase me in the slightest. What he has been circumspect about is how he got the data he read off the ship.”

“That data was not copied. Your thumb driver port doesn’t work. It was the first security measure I put in place on Admiral Mueller when I was posted to this ship. There was a man who could think complicated tactics or strategic fleet politics but did not know dick about information security.”

“It is pretty obvious they knew about the refinery raid before we jumped. They don’t have an infinite supply of base stars to just sit the refinery. They knew the time, place and planned date of the attack.”

“How?” Lawson saw a way out for herself.

“Major Martin’s scanner found a new breach that was put into place months before CNP. It was a little program that collected data in transit, decrypted the data data and transmitted it very slowly in clear text on a very low frequency.”

“I’m a little lost.”

“Brother John had your password. He had to acknowledge the documents he read. He was very careful NOT to read the documents you had not read. When he signed out of the document, he added a numeric string. There is a heavy hitting algorithm somewhere aboard this ship that takes any document with the right code and transmits it.”

“It is not secure it is not fast,” Major Ramirez “but it was ingenious. The transmission was from one network router to another one. That router was near the communications array. Normally we run a lot of traffic in and out of he communications array and that router is busy. But when we spool up for ops, we go radio silent. That is when the encrypted transmission goes out to the Cylons.”

“They don’t get a lot of warning, but they get enough warning to move around some assets,” Lawson surmised.

“Exactly,” Major Ramirez was in her element now. Information Technology. “We are going to have to purge every network device on this ship and lay down new code that has no vulnerabilities.”

“We did that to the computers already,” Lawson reminded her XO.

“The network infrastructure is different. A lot of it is read only so it takes a lot of network gear to store something as complex as a military operations plan. Trust me commander, this guy had it. We were compromised on this ship nearly two years ago.”

“Frack me,” the commander said.

“With regards to that.” Major Ramirez tossed a bag on the desk. “You are going to have to keep it cool for a while sir. A very long while. There is a substitute for the real thing in the bag. I have your back, but people are talking. The Peoples fracking Council wants to know why a known Cylon agent was sleeping with the fleet commander, before they approve your promotion to commander.”

“What am I going to say?” Lawson asked.

“Not a damned thing,” Ramirez said. “You have terrible taste in men. The agent was trained to take advantage of it. It’s all in the report.”

Major Ramirez dropped that on the commander’s desk. “They are coming in with the vaccine. You will be getting a shot in the arm soon enough. I’m going to make sure Brother John the Cylon stays alive, doesn’t teleport back to Cylon and never talks to another human being again.”

“Knowing he can’t die might make him prone to suicide as a means of teleportation,” Lawson speculated.

“He will be watched, but he will be safe.”

“Do you believe this resurrection story?”

“Yes Commander Lawson I really do. It makes sense of all the experiments the Cylons did during the first war. They wanted to measure the soul, the life force that made human being alive. They apparently figured part of it out.”

“Do we have the research?” Lawson asked.

“Yes we do, It is a book by Doctor Edwin Nelson of the Virgon Science Institute. I’ve forwarded a copy to your in box. If you need nothing further I will see to Brother John the Cylon’s permanent imprisonment situation.”

Having dodged a missile sized bullet, Commander Lawson needed one more thing to redirect from her own indiscretion. A big operation.

That was her next chore.

Chapter 43: Meets and Planning

43

Major Rick Martin was on a secure video link with Commander (acting) Eva Lawson. She had a curious look on her face as she went through the thick paper file she was delivered from decontamination.

“We have to get a few things straight before we make the final jumps to our hidden shipyard. First we need to understand who is in command. You are a commander but you don’t know our operations.”

“By military code I am an acting commander. I’m a CAG with quite a reputation. Some people might not like taking orders from me,”

“What was your rank when you were a CAG?” Martin asked.

“Major,” there was a pause.

“Five years four months,” Lawson said at the same time as Martin said “Three years  9 months.”

They both chuckled briefly. “You win,” Martin quipped.

“I think I lost,” Lawson said. She flipped through the briefing papers. There were some spectacular pictures of a shipyard. She did not recognize it. “I have been looking for an offer to foist this command an so I can strap a Mark VII on my back and get myself killed.”

“I was a manufacturing expert before then war. I spent a lot of time at Scorpia shipyards fighting with the contractors over production quality and materials charges. I was a bureaucrat. You at least can say you were a combat officer.”

“Yea,” Lawson was lost in the pictures. “This shipyard was impressive. It doesn’t look like Scorpia.”

“It wasn’t,” Martin said. “What I’m going to tell you is code word classified. Any listening devices in your office?”

“A ton,” Lawson said. “I can’t pass gas after dinner without someone analyzing it and making sure I at my veggies.”

“There is a very thin mobile phone in the back pocket of the briefing book. Turn it on.”

“How do I know it won’t signal the Cylons?” she joked.

“Do you want to team up or not?” Martin replied humorlessly,

She pulled out the mobile phone turned it on. “It’s on.”

“Punch in a phone number. +01.973.458.1071 01 is the planet code for Caprica.”

Lawson dialed the number.

“Open the app marked silencer. Give it the passcode 127334.”

“We are alone,” Martin said. “You don’t recognize that shipyard because Colonial Fleet never paid for it. It was a prototype designed to be mobile in case the Cylons ever took out Scorpia. We can work on any ship even the Mercury class. We can even manufacture Valkyrie class battlestars. If we can get the materials.”

“What is the production rate?” Lawson asked.

“Theoretically 4 per month. Some yahoo has been out slamming all the Cylon fuel ships and mining ships we were trying to hijack.”

Lawson smiled. “It is nice to see we are effective.”

“We got away with about twenty-five old relics from the decommissioning yard. We have a couple of Minataur class, a few Miverva class, even a couple of old Janus ships. We believe with time, materials and a lot of labor we could even produce a Jupiter class ship.”

“That is fracking amazing Major,” Lawson was impressed.

“We have severe shortages of skilled workers. Our little adventure just netted us 23,000 plus or minus new refugees which we have to protect feed and house.”

“Seems like a ready supply of labor,” Lawson suggested.

“The ad hoc ‘Peoples Council’ is raising objections to us drafting workers and not paying them.”

“We are keeping the alive,” the commander suggested.

“We are going to need to make a deal,” Martin said. “Galactica let by Education Secretary Laura Roslyn may have escaped with about 40,000 refugees. She was officially made president by the laws of succession. The ‘Peoples Council’ (he said the name with disgust in his voice) has the power to clear up out command issues. They are refusing to do so.”

“Any Admiral’s out there?” Lawson asked hopefully.

“Two. Rear Admiral Jamie Nagura, was badly injured in the attack on Picon fleet headquarters. He is lucid and awake about an hour a day. Legally he can sign promotion papers. Then there is this senile old lady from the first war. Perhaps you know her. Admiral Eva Lawson. Age 91.”

“Senile. We had her in a nursing home. Completely batty,” Lawson was pleased but extremely surprised her grandmother had survived. 

“Then its Nagura and the Peoples Council. We will have to negotiate.”

“Okay Major Martin. Anything else?

“Lots,” Martin continued “on the mobile phone is the formula for a vaccine for your virus problem. It will stop the spread, but there is no effective treatment. Since you survived I assume you pulled CNP off your computer systems.”

“We pulled the entire last 18 months off and have a three-year-old operating system,” Lawson said. “So says my XO who is really a computer geek.”

“She will want that phone. It contains a powerful program that will clean out a lot of Cylon trash. Your network is managed by hundreds of network routers. Many of these are infected with garden variety Cylon viruses that can talk to the Cylon network and frack us all good. It’s going to be a job cleaning them out but we are going to do that before we take another FTL jump.”

“Prudent,” Lawson replied.

“Now the really fun part. Back of the briefing book. The toasters figured out how to create humanoid models. Real, living flesh and blood humans that bleed, have sexual relations, do all the things that we do.”

“The Cylons look like us now.” 

“I am ashamed to admit I was fracking a model six that was one of the best whore’s I’ve ever been with. I caught her trying to hack my workstation.”

“That sucks.” Eva Lawson was studying the photos and intelligence files.

“Under interrogation she gave up that there were seven humanoid model. We have discovered three. Model six, the first photo. Next photo.”

A picture of a dark-skinned bald male was revealed. Lawson did not recognize him. “This one likes to play a doctor. He was posted on a medical ship that survived the fall. He air locked the entire ship.”

Lawson flipped to the next photo. Her entire digestive tract contracted into a ball of molten lead.

“This one likes to play the role of priest. Brother Cavil he calls himself. He appears to be some kind of Cylon leader. You need to check any ship for this model before making the jump.”

“Got it,” Lawson said. Now she had a problem. She had been fracking a Cylon. “Give us a couple of hours to get our systems cleaned up Major Martin. We will get ready to make the jump. We are going to need a lot of doses of that vaccine.”

“All right.” Major Martin asked. “Any orders.”

“Nah,” the commander said. “I’ve got some trash to take care of.”

Lawson acted quickly. She shut down the transmission and tried to call her Marine guards. For that to work she had to shut down the mobile phone.

On an old-style phone handset, she contacted her guards. “Send Brother John up here immediately.”

There were several objections. She pulled rank and announced without any knowledge that she had medical tests showing that John had suffered the virus and was now immune. Ten minutes later he was in bed next to her naked.

Swiftly once he was aroused, she pulled open her nightstand drawer and pulled out a pistol. She placed it in his hands and then twisted hard with all her strength, causing him to cry out in pain.

“What kind of role play is this?”

“You are a fracking Cylon,” she said. “You are going to die trying to murder me.”

“I think I should tell you about Cylon resurrection. I can’t die. If you kill me I will wake up in a couple of days in a new body with a complete memory of this life.”

Lawson cocked the gun. Cavil winced.

“Afraid to die?”

“It does hurt,” he acknowledged. 

She pulled the trigger, it clicked.

“Oh did I mention I took the clip out of it?”

She twisted his arm harder and picked up a vase and bashed him over the head.  Then she beat his face to a bloody pulp before calmly getting off of him and walking to the door. She invited the Marine inside.

“I just got an intelligence file on this guy. He had something to do with the attacks on the Colonies. He is a Cylon agent. Take him to the brig.”

This situation was completely out of control. She was completely compromised and she had to manage this situation to avoid a court martial. Half the ship knew she had been fracking this bastard. She was fighting to control her emotions.

Chapter 42: Jump 7

The Solaria was barely keeping up. The outbreak was much less contained there and the population was mostly civilian. Gun crews infected or not isolated themselves by living in their stations. It had taken six jumps to get where they thought the civilian convoy might be.

Lawson was alone in the commander’s quarters looking at the impressive array of monitors. She saw departments taking readings and got real-time intelligence. This did not give her more information with which to make better decisions. It merely gave her a headache. She had too much information and needed less clutter.

“We are green for jump seven,” reported Lieutenant Garner. “The board is green. Museum reports green. Awaiting your orders, commander.”

“Jump,” she replied. It hardly seemed necessary for her to say jump every time. The flash of white light. The disorientation seemed to feel normal now.

“Contact!” Garner was probably alone in CIC. “Two maybe three Colonial transponders. We have them sir.”

The DRADIS display in CIC chirped and the monitor dedicated to it in the commander’s quarters flashed red. Enemy contact.

“Transmitting instructions,” the XO reported. “It is going to be a big fuel burn to get them inside the overlapping flak zone we planned.”

“How long?”

“Forty seconds, if they comply,” Garner answered.

They complied.  It was the longest forty seconds ever.

“Activate triple-a” Ramirez ordered.

“Raider launch,” Garner reported.

“DRADIS target ID heavy cruiser,” another voice cut in.

“Focus fire on the cruiser,” the commander ordered.

“They are pressing us to hard!” Atkins warned.

“Execute defensive maneuver beta,” Lawson ordered calmly.

“Spooling up FTL!”

“We lost the Celestra!” Garner reported.

“Jump on my mark,” Lawson ordered.

“Jump!”

“DRADIS!” New contacts Garner reported. There are four, maybe five Cylon contacts. There is a new friendly trying to make for our coordinates.

“Launch all squadrons,” Lawson ordered. “Have the vipers protect the new friendly.”

“Prepare to engage the enemy capital ships. It is going to be combat landings for the vipers.” Lawson was clutching a pen, twisting it in her hand.

“Focus on the big ones,” Lawson ordered, indicating to the guns to target the larger capital ships.

“New contacts, enemy ships. Big ones,” Garner reported.

“They were waiting for us.” Lawson thought out loud.

“Changing the emergency jump coordinates,” Ramirez shouted. “Acknowledge!”

“I am calculating new coordinates,” Lieutenant Garner answered. There was an endless pause during which they could hear their own weapons fire echoing through the structure of the ship.

“They were waiting for us.” Lawson thought out loud.

“Changing the emergency jump coordinates,” Ramirez shouted. “Acknowledge!”

“I am calculating new coordinates,” Lieutenant Garner answered. There was an endless pause during which they could hear their own weapons fire echoing through the structure of the ship.

“Ready to jump civies have the coordinates,” the XO reported.

“Lets do it,” Lawson ordered, waving her hand forward.

The white flash hardly made the commander nauseous now.

There was a falling sensation and life seemed to start up again after a short freeze frame.

“DRADIS,” Garner tried to be loud, “five new targets. Three Cylons and two colonials.”

“We are receiving a challenge signal”, reported an NCO at the communications station. Amanda Washington was back in CIC having survived the virus and being certified as immune to a second infection.

“Answer it,” the commander and executive officer said at the same time.

“They are from BSG-34!” Garner said with excitement. “Two Valkyrie class.”

“Tactical plot,” Lawson ordered completing a fifteen second calculation in her head. “Turn Solaria and Mercury left. Have the civilians break left. The two Valkyries can put up a flack screen after they launch their vipers.”

“Our birds?” Jaybird sounded eager from wherever he was at the moment.

“Hold them for now. Let’s see what we are dealing with.”

A few more seconds passed. “Flak screen facing the Cylons,” Eva Lawson ordered.

“All ships report no damage ready to jump, Lieutenant Garner confirmed. “The Valkyries are recalling their birds. Combat landings. Ready to jump in 20 seconds.”

Lawson was impressed with their training. They executed quickly.

“Jump when the birds are recovered,” the commander ordered.

“We have a new civilian ship,” Garner reported.

“Launch squadrons, escort that ship into the fold,” ordered the commander. “Begin spooling up FTL drives. We need the change up the coordinates again.”

“We are getting a signal from the Valkyrie CIC. Jump coordinates that they say will take us into a hidey hole and the Cylons won’t follow.” Garner reported. Ramirez nodded agreement.

“Do it!” Lawson ordered.

Chapter 41: Trail gets hot!

A conference call was set up with the department heads who were involved in the search for the second force, the remnants of Battlestar Group 34. CIC was represented by Major Maria Ramirez Lieutenant Arthur Garner a thin, soft-spoken 29-year-old from Scorpia. He spent 12-hour shifts In CIC before the virus outbreak.

Since they were doing long-range astronomy looking for systems that could host thousands of refugees, the Astronomy Department was represented by a civilian. The Lieutenant previously in charge had died from the virus. Doctor Shmuel Kelly was 58, bald on top of his head with wild gray hair on the sides. He had the skinny mad professor look down pat.

By video conference of course Captain Atkins still held down the CAG slot as he commanded the Solaria. His air wing was up to 49 vipers and 12 raptors. They were down to half strength due to the pandemic.

James “Jaybird” Thompson who had been flying both raptors and vipers and was in sickbay with the virus and was promoted to Captain and was ACAG Assistant Commander Air Group. He was recovering and was in fact CAG in everything but the title. Working remote was kind of hard.

Intelligence has teamed up with IT in attempting to penetrate the Cylon network to gain clues as to the location of the “second force”

“Okay,” Major Ramirez muted the conference call. “Settle down. How are we doing at penetrating the Cylon network.

Sheila Keys a cryptographic savant was 19 years old and had been promoted to Lieutenant to put into place Major Ramirez’s vision of defenses via IT but had her own strategy for hacking the entire Cylon collective. She was short and thin, brown-skinned from Tauron. When she talked, her voice may sound meek, but it commanded respect. “We have not had significant penetration of the enemy network. We have had some success in decrypting communications. We believe there are 30 bass stars in the general area of operation that we have been conducting rates in. That number is down nearly 50% and I believe it is because of our raids on their fuel resources.”

“We have a computer algorithm monitoring communications in the clear. We are looking for signs of more colonists that can be rescued and we have picked up enemy communications as well.”

“we have been able to predict and avoid large enemy strikes. We have tracked 30 attacks on infrastructure for their fleet that we did not conduct. The nature of FTL makes it difficult to predict where they are coming from. There are patterns however that these officers learned in war college. I have presented the CAG with a list of 30 targets within six plotted jumps. We are of course short of pilots but in about a week we should be able to send recon patrol to office locations and see what we pick up. We really don’t want to just jump in and get the blue out of the sky.”

“Jaybird here, we are working with our partners to investigate the highest priority targets first. We are jumping in carefully, staying away from populated planets. We jump listen and learn. I wish we had more healthy pilots though.”

“At current staffing levels, it could take six weeks to safely recon these sites. From what we can tell the remnants of the Battlestar group were making preparations to be very mobile with their forces and repair facility.” Ramirez was speaking.

“Agreed,” Commander Lawson replied. “Mission orders had the group on the way to assemble an expansion of Scorpia shipyards to improve turnover time.”

Professor Kelly remarked then, cutting into the conversation. “They certainly stripped the battle site of many useful parts. Strategic metals, FTL components. I would say based on the data recovered is they wanted their repair facility to be mobile. They appeared to be planning on ways to quickly break it down and FTL the pieces to a new site. They also have developed prototypes that allowed them to attach small FTL field generators to the exterior of ships under repair and jump a ship out under no power. Lastly, they obtained plans to actually build Battlestars.”

“How the frack could they do that. It is going to take us eight weeks to take the dings out of our armor?” Lawson’s voice projected incredulity. “That assumes we can avoid the Cylons that long.”

“They think big,” Kelly replied, running a hand through his hair.

“We have a signal from long-range patrol raptor one seven niner,” Jaybird broke into the conversation. “Two Colonial civies spotted. Jammed with refugees. Cylon fleet in pursuit.”

“Set condition one,” Lawson ordered. “Prepare for a combat jump.”

“We will be needing to do six plotted jumps.” Ramirez was the voice of caution. “That is going to cost us a lot of fuel.”

“The logs from the destroyed Valkyrie class ship indicated one of their missions was to gather refugees,” Professor Kelly replied. “Perhaps they have a fuel source.”

Intelligence brought up the questions about the three identical bodies found on the Cylon base star. All three were bleach blondes. Same genetic code. Lawson ended the meeting unable to wrap her head around that one.

* * *

Major Rick Martin was looking over reports showing resistance on Tauron. Radiation meds were running out. They did not have enough reliable transport to recover the tens of thousands of refugees the Cylons had not murdered yet.

In the six weeks since the attacks on the Colonies, he had been through two Admiral’s that had gotten themselves killed. Now he was the ranking officer of Battlestar group 34. He had a fleet that he was trying to hide from the Cylons. He had 100,000 refugees stashed on six outlying worlds that could barely support life.

He had a senile 91-year-old Admiral who had miraculously survived Caprica, claiming her granddaughter was the CAG of Mercury.

He had intelligence photos hacked from a Cylon computer storage unit that showed a large fleet attacking a Mercury-class Battlestar. Now he had a report of 10,000 refugees having escaped from Virgon with a Cylon attack force on their heels. That was a large number of lives that had to be saved. Then they needed to be housed and fed.

There was an ad hoc people’s council that was demanding that he stop drafting civilians to become viper pilots and deckhands. He had ships but half of them had skeleton crews due to battle losses. Until recently someone had been blowing up the fuel infrastructure his hackers were using to steal fuel from.

His intelligence chief had photographic evidence that there were Cylons that looked like humans. They even bled. “The Cylon’s look like us now.”

He decided he could spare two Valkyrie class ships to try and save the refugees. It was a loser and a waste of resources.

Chapter 40: The hunt for the second force.

“Major Ramirez,” commander Lawson asked, “what have we got off the Valkyrie class Battlestar’s computer.”

“Well they made an effort to keep the toasters from doing what I have tried to do,” Ramirez answered. “I’m having to correlate some video data from their telescope observatory with some very heavily encrypted information on that computer. I also cannot discount the possibility that the Cylons put data on that system in order to lure us into an ambush.”

“They have a fleet that escaped the Colonies” the commander ran a hand through her hair. “If we can meet up with them I can end this command disaster and maybe go back to being a CAG.”

The major smiled when she heard those words. “I would like to go back to working on technology as well. I would not count on that happening any time soon. I have learned about how the fleet may have escaped the attacks. Their IT guru, on another ship did not like process by which CNP was shoved into every ship in the fleet. There is some correspondence.”

“Let’s look at it.”

The XO changed the video screen to an electronic mail message. It showed a man in his late forties in a standard profile photo. The message was directed to a commander Robinson.

To: Commander Simpson Robinson, Commander Battlestar Frode

From: Major James Carver Chief IT Officer Battlestar Group 34.

Commander,

It has come to my attention that the CNP program that fleet command is demanding be installed has been exempted from several stages of the code review process. Further very little if any penetration testing was done before or after the order that made it mandatory.

I have raised by objections to the Ministry of Defense and received vague reply from Gais Baltar the head of the project. 

His reply merely raised my concerns further. This is Information Technology 101. It may be a simple navigation update, but if it is not fully vetted, it does not belong on any warship. Please approve my request to conduct a full penetration test when the installation is complete on the Battlestar Gemini.

Regards and congratulations on the birth of your second granddaughter. I am looking forward to the day when my son does something with his life and gets the process started. 

Major James Robinson

Chief IT Officer Battlestar Group 34.

“Was there a reply?” Lawson asked.

“Yes,” the major answered. “The request was approved,”

“Results?”

“He totally compromised the Battlestar and shut down the FTL nav computers.”

“How long before the attacks?”

“Three weeks.”

“Frack!” Lawson said. “What happened when they sent the results to Fleet Command?”

“There is another email message.”

She tapped some keys and another email came up with another message with a different profile picture. Apparently Carver liked to rotate his profile picture.

To: Commander Simpson Robinson, Commander Battlestar Frode

From: Major James Carver Chief IT Officer Battlestar Group 34.

Subject: It is negligence to ignore the results of the pen (penetration) tests and install CNP.

It is dangerous and reckless to go forward with the installation of CNP. It has been proven to have vulnerabilities and I will not sign off on its installation on any ship in this Battlestar group.

How do you suggest I proceed with regards to fleet command?

The reply showed that Robinson was dealing with fleet command and the IT Chief was directed to backlog the software installation. Carver replied there were a few broken down supply raptors that would get the program first.

“If fleet command had listened to him, the destruction of the Colonies could have been averted. Did Carver survive the war?”

“Yes commander,” answered Ramirez. “He was demoted to Lieutenant before the war by a direct order from fleet command. He was a former pilot, switched to tech after a crash landing. Someone promoted him to Captain after the attacks. I think he was a XO on a battlestar. There is a video log recording I have pretty well cleaned up.”

“Let’s see it.”

“This is Captain James Carver, Executive Officer if the Battlestar Venus.” The scene was in the heavily damaged commanders’ quarters of a smaller Battlestar. There was damaged wing hanging out of destroyed monitors. Still two of the monitors were rolling through status screens of a damaged Valkyrie Class Battlestar.

“The fact that I have been promoted to XO is illustrative of the situation we are in. Battlestar Group 34 was attacked by a fleet of a dozen Cylon ships. Modern base stars and a collection of ships dating back to the beginning of the first Cylon war.”

He wiped his forehead and left a streak of grease on it.

“Once they figured out we had never installed CNP they dug deep into their inventory. Commander Robinson quickly realized that the battle was lost. We were on a mission to deliver forty cargo containers to the Scorpia shipyards. We never got there.”

“Commander Robinson fought a delaying action and we got away with enough gear to add capacity to Scorpia. We have enough gear to set up a mobile repair yard. We have been sending out missions to get FTL drive parts so that we can take this shipyard on the road with us. Every one of the eight ships that survived the attacks on the Colonies was damaged. We are picking up civilians and civilian craft every day.”

“The civilian council set up to provide the civies self-government has demanded wages be paid to the workers in our little traveling circus. I am glad I am not in command of this clown show. But as XO of the Venus I am perilously close to the top of the current chain of command….”

The video ended,

“No more footage Sir.”

Eva Lawson was lost in thought. Something had triggered a memory from a course where they had Colonial Fleet try and track down a wayward Cylon that was causing simulated havoc in a third of the Colonies.

“Zoom in on those two displays behind Captain Carver. Go slow,”

“Yes sir,” the XO complied. The resolution was not great and the picture was fuzzy.  Halfway through the third run, Commander Lawson spoke up.

“Stop!” She stood up and pointed. Remembering they were still on quarantine, she used her electronic pointer.

“Those look like FTL jump coordinates to me,” Lawson smiled. “See if you can clean it up and get us some places to look at.”

* * *

Twelve hours later the computer had cleaned up the image enough that they had a list of fifteen coordinates to look at.

“We are perilously short of raptor pilots,” Ramirez reported. “Lieutenant Samantha Jones died of complications of the virus late last night.

Lawson had known Jones and she tried to hide her feelings but failed. A single tear was released from her right eye. “Very carefully. Send force recon, three assault raptors, two SAR. Take it nice and slow. No mistakes. We have to get through this virus outbreak before we enter a major engagement with the Cylons.

* * *

Three days later Ramirez came on the monitor at 4:31 a.m. “Sorry for the time sir,” she said. “We have a battle site recon. It was on jump point twelve. Lots of Cylon wreckage. There may be a lot of salvageable parts. It will give us a chance to study Cylon technology.”

“We can’t do it with a raptors?”

“Negative,” Ramirez reported. We will have to store some of this cache on the right-hand flight pod of the Solaria. We can spare some room on starboard as well.”

“Set condition one throughout the ship. Get anyone that can fly butt in the cockpit. We are going toaster dumpster diving.”

“Aye sir.”

“This is junkman to Mercury actual. Junkman flying a bus. Come in.”

“What is it,” Lawson found the viper jock annoying but effective so tolerated some chatter. She picked up her phone handset and repeated herself. “This is Mercury actual.”

“I’ve got me a shiny, slightly singed orange flight recorder. I believe that entitles me to a weeks leave after the air wing is at full strength.”

“Junkman get your ass and that recorder onto the flight deck immediately. You will get your leave when I have more than 19 viper jocks not infected.”

“Roger that.”

“Mercury actual out.”