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.

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