Chapter 32: Damage

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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.

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