Chapter 52: A better rescue plan

Chapter 52: Operation misdirect.

Admiral Cobb sat in a chair at a rectangular table with six of his “senior” commanders. Though Major Maria Ramirez did not feel senior, she was there because se was he XO and temporary commander of the most powerful warship in the fleet.

When he cleared his throat to speak, everyone immediately became silent.

“I have received confirmation that as of today, day seven of the third month of our exile from the colonies, that all information hat was in Eva Lawson’s head is useless to the Cylons. All codes, encryption and communications protocol have been changed. All tactical plans have been changed.”

“In addition it has become obvious that our strategy has gradually moved from one of causing maximum pain to the Cylons to one of defending fixed points. Major Ramirez was able to guess the location of 11 of our refuge locations merely by analyzing communications traffic and scientific scan data a various jump points that had become unstable due to over use.” He nodded acknowledgment to

her and she smiled back.

“If our hackers can figure this out then the Cylons can as well. We are going to move all the refugee centers during the next three weeks. We have formed a civilian fleet with approximately 70,000 souls to head into deep space, to be mobile, hard to strike and to search for a new home, away from the Cylons.”

“We are going to return to our roots,” he continued. “While continuing to compromise the Cylon network while we assault their weak points. Tylium mines, refineries, shipyards, everything will be hit while we make them think we have forgotten about Eva Lawson. When we have them distracted that is when we make the strike and get her back. Our plan is to use a small, agile strike force. We are not going to announce ourselves with the spectacle of a Mercury class ship jumping in.”

“What will be our operational cadence?” A young looking man with viper wings on his uniform blues, asked.

“We have divided the fleet into nine operational squadrons. Three will be assigned to defend the mobile shipyard, the civilian fleet and the grounded civilians. That duty will rotate every week. The six squadrons assigned to hit the Cylons will have operational independence to plan and execute their strikes. Each squadron will be expected to conduct 14 operations a week. My staff here will pick half the targets. The rest will be at the discretion of the squadron commanders.”

“Won’t this take a toll on readiness and equipment Admiral?” Ramirez asked, echoing the complaints she had heard on the wireless.

“We will assign the ships most in need of repair to defend the shipyard,” Cobb answered. “The Mercury will undergo hull repair and replacement of damaged armor as it is assigned to the shipyard the first week.”

“But Sir,” Ramirez protested, “the crew want to be out in the fight making a difference in the battle to recover Commander Lawson.|

“The chain of command is not a democracy,” Cobb replied, changing his position with obvious pain and effort. “We have 90 pilots assigned to flight training in your VR suites. You will do the most for your commander, getting rest and letting us restore your ship to peak readiness. Understood?”

Ramirez stood and saluted. “Yes sir!” For a moment, she felt motivated.

“Go out there and frak the Cylons up!” Cobb roared with uncharacteristic vigor.

“So say we all!” The nine squadron commanders said in unison.

“So say we all!” Cobb answered.

* * *

Squadron two strike mission Day 10 of the forth month of the second Cylon war.

“Valkyrie one reporting jump ready.” The radio crackled in Admiral Cobb’s spartan office.

“Valkyrie two. Board is green. Jump key inserted, ready to jump.”

“Apollo, last of the Minerva class reports jump ready.”

“Defender one reports jump ready.”

“Jump!”

The five ships disappeared off the DRADIS screen on Cobb’s desk. His hand shaking badly, he reached for a bottle of pills.

* * *

On the bridge of the Valkyrie named Blackbird, Sheila William’s a thirty-eight year old former raptor pilot who had left the Colonial fleet three years ago, stared at the DRADIS screen seeing the other four ships in her strike group. Absently, she had her right hand fiddling with the pony tail in her light brown hair.

She was a draftee to this new fleet pondering her remarkable good luck. Three weeks ago she was in a refugee camp being overrun by the Sun Spot virus, hiding in her tent, not even going out for food. A Colonial officer, with a representative from the peoples council had showed up at her tent and made clear to her she was rejoining the Colonial fleet.

She had made a good living as a civilian pilot after leaving the service.

“Nothing on DRADIS,” the DRADIS officer reported before three triple beeps announced the arrival of three Cylon ships. “Three Talon class ships. On an intercept course to the refinery.”

“Let’s intercept them. Flank speed ahead. Launch all vipers. Ready nuclear weapons.” Williams was feeling like the job fit a little better. She had lost a husband and a toddler to the Cylons. Now it was time to make it hurt for them.

“We have five refineries on DRADIS!”

“I’ve got another trio of Talon carriers jumping in. This is a high traffic zone,” This was Apollo actual over the wireless.

“Commence attack pattern,” Williams ordered. She stared intently at the DRADIS display. The ship shook as heavy fire was exchanged between the five Colonial ships and the six talons.

“This is Eagle actual. We have a missile lock on refinery three. Firing.”

“Splash one Talon class,” interrupted a voice on the wireless.

“Apollo is taking heavy fire. Taking evasive action.”

“Contact,” DRADIS announced. “Three base stars, CBDR, but they are really far off.”

“Inbound unguided missile salvo,” reported the tactical operator.

“Evade left. Full defensive profile. Turn on flak.” Williams looked up and saw something she did not like in the air wing’s formation. “CAG pull back, stay out of the Talon’s broadside firing zone.”

“Splash refinery target number five.” A voice crackled with static.

“This is Vulture, we have a shot at the closest base star. Releasing nuclear weapon.”

“Eagle taking heavy fire.”

“This is Apollo actual. Armor bravo. We have damage and casualties. Request….”

“Jump now!” Williams ordered.

“Top guns bearing on refinery number 3.Firing,” the weapons operator reported.

Seconds later a camera went white as the Tylium detonated.

“We have more base stars jumping in. Now they are jumping out. Take that toasters, your gas station is closed.|”

“Refinery two splashed!” An excited voice declared.

“All targets destroyed.”

“Recall all vipers.”

“Combat landings are authorized,” the LSO announced over the wireless.

“Spool up FTL!” Williams ordered.

“All warships are showing board is green,” William’s XO, who was actually an NCO, a Master Chief.

“Vipers are recovering,” said the LSO. “We need another two minutes to recover our birds.”

“Cylons are jumping away,” DRADIS reported. The board was suddenly clean.

“Stand down condition one,” Williams’ shoulders relaxed. “All ships send damage assessment to the flagship.”

‘Flagship’ she thought. ‘I like the sound of that.’

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