Andrew Cobb was an older man, the years had taken their toll on him. He was tall, with an athletic build. What little hair he had on the sides of h is head were white.
He stood up when Major Ramirez walked into his office at the busy mobile shipyard. He moved slowly, as if every physical task was causing him pain. The first impression on the Major was that she had lost a lot of weight. Her uniform, immaculately pressed hung very loosely on her small frame,
“Commander,” she snapped to attention and saluted crisply.
“At ease,” he gestured toward a chair which Maria Ramirez sank into gratefully. She had not slept in days.
“The first question everybody has is ‘where did they dig this guy up?” From the looks of me, many guess the cemetery.”
Ramirez barely suppressed a chuckle because she had been thinking that exact thing.
“I have a neurological disorder, its incurable and progressive. The Colonial fleet discharged me, a forced retirement two years ago.”
“Sorry to hear about your condition sir,” she said politely
“My doctors say I could live another twenty years, but I doubt the Cylons will let that happen.”
Maria Ramirez had read his dossier and was impressed. He was a decorated first war Viper mk.2 and mk.3 pilot. He had risen to the command of the Battlestar Columbia, a Mercury Class built twenty years after he end of the first Cylon war. His file had not given the reason for his medical discharge. He had been teaching at the war college when he had failed his physical and been forced into retirement.
“Let me start by commending you on the way you frakked up the Cylons after your commander was abducted. It was great work for an IT professional. There were some gaps in your command, but you clearly demonstrated a command of the basics. I will assign someone to go over your tactical decisions at a later time.”
Looking like an absent minded professor, with slow, painful movements, Andrew Cobb took a look at the desk. There was a rank insignia there.
“Please excuse me Admiral,”
“It’s not a problem. That gasbag housewife who runs the peoples council wants to make sure I can give Eva Lawson orders.”
“I am sure you did not read the XO handbook, but letting your commander go out to visit a patrol ship was a pretty serious mistake. Remember that when you XO puts you in the brig to keep you on your Battlestar.”
“Now that rescue mission you launched was quite foolish. You deliberately ignored my orders and you lost nearly a hundred marines when that Cylon base star jumped away.”
“Yes Admiral,” Ramirez replied sheepishly.
The elderly man’s eyes narrowed, his expression harsh. “If you ever ignore my orders again, you will end up peeling potatoes in your ships mess hall.”
“When we get her back, you will be transferred to take the Saturn out. We need another few months to finish that ship.”
“Thank you Sir.|
“Don’t thank me yet Major,” his hard angry look softened to a grandfather’s smile. You have a fully trained crew on Mercury. Everyone has at least graduated from basic training. We have been given a pool of 10,000 recruits to help crew the Colonial fleet we are building. Many of those people are pretty pissed off they got drafted. One of them tried to beat the crap out of her highness Mrs. Cory Brooks.”
“If you don’t mind my saying so, sir” Ramirez gulped.”You don’t seem to have a lot of respect for the civilian government.”
Cobb literally roared as he leaned back in his chair and laughed heartily “Of course not. They picked me to command this fleet. It takes me a half an hour to get out of bed and go to the head.”
“Oh I see.”
‘If we are going to win this war, we need to get your commander back. That being said, we are getting a lot of data from your hack of the Cylon network. That was great work.I am assigning you five hundred marines, two Valkyrie class ships and the Solaria. We just got her out of dry dock. She has two working flight pods again. We have unloaded the civilians and had her scrubbed from end to end for this sunspot virus. The sanitary conditions on board that ship were horrendous. I’ve got a captain in charge of that ship.”
“We got intel on the location of Commander Lawson. It is unverified but she will be transferred to a prison on Caprica in three days.”
“I understand,” Admiral Cobb said. ‘The other reason we did not fire you is we don’t have anybody to take your place. You have 60 new pilots aboard. You should have enough supplies to reactivate vipers for them.”
“Thank you Sir.”
“We are sending an elite team to try and verify the information provided by the hack. Until then to the simulator with you.”
“Yes Sir.” Never being much on military protocol, she stood up and saluted.
* * *
Major Mria Ramirez huddled with the three other captains just outside the simulator room/ None of them had any significant combat experience since the first Cylon war.
“Okat, Major Ramirez said, “We have got to get ID on the base star that is holding the commander. Then we hit the others with everything we have.
The Cylons want a prolonged, viscous attack because they are taking the long view. They want to fight a war of attrition because they have the resources and replacements and we don’t. We have to inflict massive destruction and high casualties.
The simulations were normally one or two ships captains, with an illegal AI interface running the Cylons and smaller Colonial ships.
This strike force consisted of 1 Mercury, 1 Juipiter, two Valkyries and two Orion class, recently rehabbed and brought to duty.
The commanders of each of the six ships were in Mercury VR suites designed to train pilots.
The computer took care of executing air operations. The commander controlled the course their ship, toggle flak on and off along with weapons fire.
The Orion was a stealth ship which could run on battery power and sneak up on the enemy and ambush them with huge torpedo salvos.
“Jump complete,” Ramerirez reported and then ordered the check in. “All ships check in.”
After this was done taking entirely too much time, Ramirez began executing her tactical plan.
“DRADIS” droned the computer voice, “contact. 4 base stars, two smaller carriers.”
“Launching raiders,” announced Orion commander 1.
“I have 4 squadrons of heavy raiders,’ Solaria’s commander announced. “Expect borders. Wait also wardrivers jamming squadrons, looks like 4 and 16 squadrons of raiders.”
“Oriions maintain stealth and dive rate. All other ships make a left turn and prepare for enemy ordinance. Launch all vipers and the Marine strike teams aboard raptors.”
The Launch reporting also took too long. The VR suite did not provide her the same information as the CIC. She found it very difficult to follow the course of the battle. The computer announced that the boarding party had landed on the target base star.
The VR suite did a fair job making noise and confusion when enemy ordinance struck. The room shook and communications were interrupted during heavy missile salvos. Both the Mercury and Solaria were damaged and hull integrity was compromised at a number of locations.
The Damage control protocols were realistic as well, then the heavy raiders boarded the Mercury. The Marines put up a spirited defense, but eventually every subsystem was damaged. Communications were garbled.
The pair of Valkyries joined the Orion’s and the air wing in taking out the Cylon base stars. In the end, two of them jumped out of weapons range, a pair of fresh base stars jumped in and the Marine strike force was killed in action.
:”All right,: Ramirez ordered. “Out of the VR suites.”
Everyone talked at once, a cacophony of voices all spoke at the same time.
“Listen up” Major Ramirez stomped a foot loudly to get their attention and silence.
“We need surprise to make this work. We need better intelligence. This operation can not be allowed to risk a large portion of our fleet. I am going to propose a totally different plan to get her back. I am not giving up, let me make that clear. We need to distract the Cylons’ focus and make this operation come as a surprise. Prepare for new operations. Stand down and get your crews ready for action. Train for this. Get ready.”
* * *
The Interrogator Cavil walked into the cell, carrying a chair with him. He slammed it to the ground, stirring Commander Lawson, causing her fitful sleep to come to an end.
“Your friend’s have stopped trying to rescue you,” he taunted.
Lawson raised her head off the floor and stared at the Cylon through eyes barely open, She had ugly infected bruises under her eyes. “How long have I been here?” She asked.
“Nine days,” Cavil replied. “You have been far from the model prisoner.”
“By now, all the access codes have been changed. The shipyard has been moved, and all the plans strategic and tactical are new. I don’t know anything that can help you. So kill me or send me back.”
Cavil smiled and laughed. “So your shipyard is mobile. We were not sure. Thanks.”
Lawson was angry with herself, until she remembered Cylon warships had witnessed the last jump. This was all part of the psychological game the toaster was playing.
Cavil took a white terrycloth robe and dumped it on the ground in front of her. “Put that on, we have decided to let you shower and clean up, so we can get some food in you. That way when we put you back it will be a bigger psychological shock.’
“No thank you,” Lawson raised her head, causing the chain connected to her steel collar to shake.
“What the frak?” He got down on his knees and raised her chin and stared into her bruised and bloody face.
“This is like a resort for me. I like how you are treating me. I get off on being forced and helpless.” A slight grin spread on her face.
“Nobody can like what we;ve done to you.”
Lawson coughed and then let a bit of bloody spittle drip on to his hands. “I will admit, getting my head bashed and my face beaten is not exactly pleasant. But the other stuff is a turn on. I haven’t been faking it.”
“You are a sick frak,” Cavil replied.
“You should read my service record. I was transferred off the Atantia and made CAG of Mercury because I frakked one of my subordinates. Admiral Nagumo’s son I believe.
“We have taken you off birth control. You could get pregnant.”
Lawson, feeling control for a moment went on the verbal attack. “I would cut any sick hybrid toaster out of my womb with my finger nails if I had to.”
Cavil, let go of her head, expecting her chin to fall on the cement floor. “Lets see how you feel after another five hundred frakkings!”
“Bring it on.” She lunged at him, quickly being stopped by her chains. He jumped back, reflexively.
“Got you toaster. Lawson one, appliance store reject zip!” She glared at him.