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.”