The Mercury CIC was on edge, having attempted to jump directly into a firing position that provided a targeting solution for the main guns. The current thinking on tactics was the Mercury’s forward-facing guns were so devastating the preferred tactic was to charge targets at high speed and aim at the enemy ships enter axis and cut her in two on the first pass.
“DRADIS” Major Ramirez ordered.
The display rippled showed a possible contact and then went dark.
“They are jamming the DRADIS!” an NCO who knew her stuff shouted.
“I’m expecting a target dead ahead,” Commander Lawson barked.
“Radiological warning,” an officer shouted urgently.
The DRADIS formed an image before breaking up onto static.
“The base star is not in the position reported by recon,” Ramirez warned.
“Engines ahead flank speed,” Lawson ordered. ‘Evasive course.”
“Inbound nukes,” another officer shouted. “Eighteen of them!”
“It’s an ambush,” someone else shouted as they felt the engines kick in with emergency power.
“Triple-A full automatic,” Ramirez and Lawson both ordered.
The sound of the guns firing an intense barrage filled the CIC.
“Flak has taken out twelve, scratch that sixteen inbounds. Stand by 17 confirmed kill’s one damaged.”
The roar filled the ship as the entire ship rocked and rolled while still accelerating.
“Set course for a lazy S” Lawson ordered. “Think of her as a big viper. We’ll swing around and take them out before we jump home.”
“FTL offline, repeat offline.” Ramirez was on the phone taking a damage report.
“Repair estimate?” Lawson asked.
“Three hours. Shock damage to two of the three FTL drives actuator arms. One can take us through one jump. FTL number three needs a replacement before we can jump. We need all three units working to jump this barge.”
“DRADIS contact, three new Cylon base stars, launching raiders.”
“Definitely an ambush,” Lawson concluded while planning her next move. The base stars were in a classic bracket forming a box around the Mercury where they could fire a barrage and wear her down with the shear volume of fire.
“Launch vipers, arrow formation they need to clear a path between us and base star number two. Alter course to two two zero use thrusters for negative z. I think we’ll have a firing solution in ten seconds. Main guns salvo mode. Use course correction to fly us toward center axis. Weapons free, anything that can fire forward.”
The distinctive report of the forward weapons echoed throughout the ship. The DRADIS showed one of the targets growing larger and ten seconds later break into several large pieces.
“She’s gone Sir. Nice shooting.”
“Okay prepare to recover the vipers. Launch two attack raptors on their original mission. How long can we keep up this burn and keep away from the remaining three base stars?”
“Two hours and forty minutes but the problem is the raiders can jump ahead of us and block us.”
“Recall vipers, reload, refuel and re-arm. We’ll keep a squadron in the air to deal with raiders.”
“We’re not going to do well with this giant ship showing them our ass Sir,” Ramirez said.
“Major have you been reading up on battle tactics?” Lawson looked bemused. “What am I thinking, of course, you have. What am I missing?”
“This shark’s teeth are the main guns up front Sir,” the former systems analyst said. “It’s their advantage us showing them our tail.”
“We can’t take sustained fire from all three,” Commander Lawson scrunched her lips a bit as she thought.
“You said it yourself, think of it as a big viper that turns really slow.”
“Just like flying a Mark VII, they scatter when we charge and if we get lucky we isolate one of them and get a kill salvo in on her center axis. Tell engineering the ride is going to get rough. Hard about, aim for their center. Forward guns are weapons-free if they get a firing solution.”
“I’m letting the vipers know. We are going to take a pounding Sir.”
* * *
Karla Knox, call sign one day had just launched to take her third rotation defending the crippled Battlestar. She was leading the squadron this round because during the last rotation her squadron commander happened had been hit by enemy fire. His viper had been damaged and he had suffered minor injuries.
“We’re doing what!?”
She had heard the instructions but did not believe her ears. Outnumbered 3 to 1 the commander was trying to face their three pursuers.
The reason that’s why they paid me and there’s a big cubits. She got on the wireless and addressed her squadron. “Make a 180 we’re going up the gut. We’re helping the beast try and turn the tables on three Cylon stars. May the Lords of Kobol be with us.”
She yanked on her stick and poured on the power and turned her mark seven viper around. The DRADIS was filled with raiders. They were plenty of targets. She got back on the wireless. “Let’s make a hole for the big barge that we used to know as the Battlestar Mercury. All vipers weapons-free.
From her cockpit, she could see the Battlestar making a sharp turn and heading back towards there for sewers. The three base stars did not seem to know what to do about this tactic. This was a situation in which one was expected to run as quickly as possible.
It took less than three minutes for them to use all their ammunition and cut a hole in the sky it was full of raiders. Karla Knox was not certain that the smart thing to do right now is to do a combat landing on the Battlestar. However, with no ammunition and not a lot of fuel to back it up that was not there was very little choice.
“Well children it’s time to do combat landing while we’re doing a battle charge of the Battlestar Mercury. Blue squadron I hope you’re ready to launch because we are out of ammunition in doing us a combat landing”
“Blondie you are fracking crazy,” said a familiar voice in her wireless headset earpiece.
“At least I’m not ugly like you rocket pants! I’m going to lead them in I’m taking port side lower pod. We are not going to wait to see if she survives this battle run we just got to land and pray.”
“All vipers get in position to support a battle charge. Mercury is going to turn and fight.”
“That is fracking crazy,” another pilot chimed in.
“All right,” Knox shouted into her wireless microphone, “pipe down. Commander has a plan. We are going to help make it happen.
* * *
The lights flickered in the CIC as another blast hit the ship shaking the entire ship. Commander Eva Lawson paced a few steps in each direction. Suddenly she turned and barked out an order.
“Send extra men to engineering to help get those extra actuator arms. Give me ship-wide I want to say something.”
An NCO handed Commander Lawson. She took a deep breath gathering her strength.
“This is the commander,” she began. After a pause during which the ship was rocked twice by long-range fire. “I’ve made a bad tactical decision and we are outnumbered five to one. We are on the run, showing the wrong end of this Battlestar to the Cylon base ships. Our tactical situation is bad. If we are going to die today we are going to do it like Colonial warriors, fighting hard.”
“We are going to turn and fight. You have in the past month grown into the finest crew in the Colonial fleet. I am honored and proud to serve with you and fight the second Cylon war. You are ready. Let’s show these cowards, who could only defeat the twelve colonies of Kobol with trickery, not a fair battle, how we fight. That is all.”
With a flick of her thumb, Lawson flicked off the microphone, bringing the broadcast to a conclusion.
“So say we all!” A young, female NCO blurted out.
Two more people piped in. “So say we all!”
The entire CIC chimed in for the next round. “SO SAY WE ALL”
There was an echo coming from other parts of the massive fighting ship, the words penetrating the very frame of the ship.
“Prepare main guns for a firing solution,” Major Ramirez ordered.
“All hands prepare for a battle charge.”
“Hard to port,” Lawson ordered after seeing there was damage she would rather not expose to enemy fire.”
“Maximum turn efficiency. Turning!” The frame of the Battlestar began to strain under G-forces. Turning now.”
“Forming up,” Karla Knox spoke over the wireless. “Weapons free!”
* * *
The vipers formed an arrowhead formation in front of the Battlestar as it completed its turn. A dozen assault raptors formed up tightly to the left of the Mercury. Nine more formed up on the right side.
“What’s with the raptors?” Major Ramirez asked. “We didn’t give the raptors any orders.”
“They are forming up to charge two of the other base stars,” Commander Lawson said.
“That is suicide,” Ramirez noted.
“Aye,” Lawson said, sounding like a farmer speaking with an accent.
“Main guns have a firing solution,” the tactical officer said with a little too much volume.
“Weapons free,” Lawson ordered.
The ship resonated with the sound of the main guns as they began to fire, To the left and right of the Mercury raptors charged, firing rockets at two base stars. The two ships not under assault quickly reacted moving away, beginning to belch a massive missile barrage.
It took about thirty seconds for the base star center axis to collapse under the withering fire. The raptors peeled off after emptying their rocket launchers. Their two base stars, clearly burning began to fire missiles into the Mercury, which disappeared into a cloud of smoke and mist.
The four remaining base stars formed a firing box around the Mercury, which suddenly lurched to the right in an evasive turn. Fires were burning on the exterior of the ship, fed by oxygen flowing out of hull breaches.
* * *
Karla Knox held the trigger until every last round of ammunition hurtled into the base star’s hull before peeling off to the right, wondering what she should do next, save fly her plane into the base star.
* * *
In CIC Lawson looked up at the damage control display, seeing that they were about to lose navigational control.
“Looks like we are going to get hammered in a few more seconds.” Ramirez grimaced.
There was a flash from a large FTL drive. Emerging from the energy field was the Battlestar Solaria museum. It’s flight pods were extending, as it completed a perfect tactical jump allowing it to aim its underside main batteries at one base start and its topside batteries at another.
It’s engines flashed as it accelerated into the battle, pounding two base stars, one of which erupted in pillars of fire.
“This is Solaria,” Captain Atkins announced on the wireless. “We heard you had a little more work than you could handle. We are going to take some of it off your hands.”
“We are going to get clear, recover our planes and complete the FTL repair,” Lawson announced.
“Roger that,” Captain Atkins said.
“FTL shows online,” Major Ramirez announced.
“That was a little ahead of schedule,” Lawson said.
“It was those extra men you sent. They got the actuator arms of the FTL drives replaced, helping speedup the repair,” Ramirez reported
“This is engineering,” a crackling transmission came on the CIC speakers, “we are going to have to vent a couple of sections to stop the fires from spreading.” He then announced the sections.