Chapter 56: Decisive battle?

Chapter 56

The meeting gave new relevance to the word clandestine. Admiral Cobb had to take two raptors in order to get to the meeting Place and a dark wind swept plain on a forgotten world that no one had bothered to chart.

Walking with a cane he slowly exited the raptor and shuffled up along path to the coordinates of the meeting. It was almost a kilometer walk which was very hard for him with his neurological condition. At the top of the hill was a shack. It was colonial military issue but might’ve been here for at least 50 years.

He saw a raptor parked closer to the shack I noticed in the sky they were two assault Raptors patrolling overhead.

As instructed he knocked three times in the door and waited for the answer. A very large man, the typical military muscle contractor open the door and I see him in to see the executive other peoples counsel seated at the table a cup of hot tea in her hand. Cory Brooks was dressed for a meeting with a fashion executive.

Cobb recognized a designer blouse that his wife could not have because it was out of their income bracket. He made a mental note of this fact because it was obvious that she was benefiting from the perquisites of political office. That might be something he could use in the future. She had appointed him to his position and that’s why there was nothing stopping her from demanding anything she wanted from him.

She was a known quantity and that gave him some advantage. The silence that bit of news filter from the second front which was followed by Galactica and Pegasus became obvious that there was a president of the colonies as per the succession act on the day of the attacks.

Nobody knew how to reach out to or communicate with Laura Roslyn, but it was theoretically possible. Perhaps the cylons would let slip a detail that would allow the reunification of the Colonies.

During the repair of the mercury and the trials of the Saturn, military operations were scaled-back. They return to the hit-and-run style that we got the rebellion during the days after the military destruction of the 12 colonies.

The admiral was deep in thought as the executive of the peoples council offered him a cup of tea which he gladly accepted it in the cold.

If there was just some way of reaching the real president of the colonies, Cory Brooks would lose her power to make military appointments.

“You called this meeting Miss Brooks,” the admiral said after a sip of tea.

“We are waiting for other guests,” she responded. Her face was unreadable. She must be very good at pyramid.

On que, there were three knocks on the door. The contractor opened it and two women in military uniform we’re standing at the door. In front of them was Commander Lawson, still in a wheelchair a month after her return from captivity. A designer scarf, a gift from the executive of the Peoples Council did a bad job of hiding the piece of cylon jewelry that still adorned her neck.

The lock had resisted all attempts to pick it. The metal very much concerned the military science bureau to due to its resistance to normal cutting tools. Even diamonds did nothing against it. If the cylons found a way to incorporate this into their armor it could upset the military balance.

It was a constant reminder of her captivity and those long cold nights that never seem to end. These were book ended by viscous assaults what she could still see when she closed her eyes. She was barely able to function in her role as commander, the most senior officer still commanding a Battlestar.

Granted there was not a great deal of work to do supervising the repairs of the left flight pod and the armory of the entire ship. Still eventually she would need to come out in combat and her long silences during when she withdrew it to her self disrupted her crew.

Commander Maria Ramirez has finally passed her check ride in the Mark seven viper. The legally questionable rule which has been passed by the People’s Coucil was allowed to expire. Every Battlestar commander was a certified viper or raptor pilot once again.

As temporary commander of the Battlestar mercury she had an impressive record against the cylons.

It was well known that our military record was under 10 years in length, as opposed to Commander Lawson who had recently turned 42 years old and been in the military for 24 years. As damaged as she was, she was a figurehead that everyone needed to maintain confidence in the colonial military. This military had been stripped of all the senior officers on the day of the attacks on the colonies. The most senior officer was nowhere to be found.

The Cylon’s had leaked word of Adama’s promotion precisely because it undermined the authority of the People’s Council.

It was day 190 since the fall of the twelve colonies.

“What I’m about to reveal to you is not to go beyond this room.” Cory Brooks waited for them to acknowledge by nodding.

“I have been negotiating with a Cavill cylon model. We are close to instituting a cease fire that will last for 30 days. We may choose to extend it, we may not.”

Commander Lawson had an impassive of look on her face. It was impossible to tell whether she was connected to the meeting or off in some flashback.

Admiral Cobb spoke first. “What makes you think you can trust the cylons?”

Brooks cross their arms and spoke carefully. “Nothing at all. Self interest. They’ve been hammered lately. They passed some intelligence to me about a battle very far off. He told me that when the humanoid models die they don’t actually die. They get their souls or core memories uploaded to a server and then download it into a new body.”

“That is the story our Cavil told us while he was in detention, before the civilian government forced us to surrender him.” Commander Ramirez added.

“You mean the one that was freaking Commander Lawson?” Brooks clarified venom quite evident in her voice.

Commander Lawson gave her a dirty look proving she was still connected with the conversation. She didn’t speak up however. After a few seconds her eyes glazed over and she was somewhere else.

“Do you know the committee did not know he was a cylon,” Commander Ramirez defended her mentor and colleague.

“I know nothing of the sort,” Brooks replied angrily. “But I do know is she has a history of bad judgment throughout her career, leading in her relationship with the Cavil.”

Commander Lawson, speaking at a whisper got everybody’s attention with her first words. “Then why don’t you fire me?”

“There are a couple reasons for that commander,” she said “the first of which we still believe is justice. There needs to evidence to convict you of a crime in there isn’t any. Secondly you are rallying point for a lot of the people were fighting in our command.”

“It’s pretty obvious to me that you’re not fit for command. You’re having flashbacks and you’re not getting treated for PTSD. That being said your unit cohesion is of more important then your physical or mental state. Admiral Cobb is going to appoint each of you an XO. He is vetting candidates right now.”

The admiral not at his acknowledgment.

“Cavill has convinced me that a cease fire would be of mutual benefit. We have done substantial damage to the cylon refinery network. We have hit several fleets that had to be taken out of service for lack of fuel.”

She continued. “The obvious advantage to us is that our forces have been degrading steadily over the last three months. We need a cease fire in order to make repairs and build up our fleet.”

Admiral cob spoke next. “A cease fire will only be of benefit to us if we give attention to our problems. We have far too few fighters in the colonial fleet right now.”

“I will institute a universal draft of our men and women who are fit and under the age of 40 and over the age of 18 the first day of the cease-fire.” Brooks said.

“Will the peoples council approve?” Ramirez asked.

“Honestly,” Brooks said. “I’m not sure. The colonial military let us down 191 days ago in the colonies were wiped out and nuked. Our own scientific surveys tell me that even if we were to drive to cylons out of the 12 colonies we would not be able to inhabit those worlds. We are going to have to pick up and find a new home. The colonial military while being praised for its bravery is also blame for this failure.”

“It is my belief,” said Admiral Cobb. “The benefits of a cease-fire far exceed the risks. Our forces are tired. Our readiness is degraded by damaged ships. We need more like six months to build our forces up and train the recruits this draft law will give us. Why are we here? We don’t need all this cloak and dagger to simply agree to a cease fire.”

“Because the cylons are planning a double crossing us.” She pulled a roll of paper out of her bag next to her chair. She placed it on the table pushing aside several cups of tea. It was a map of the sector with a photograph of a cylon fleet.

“Why did it’s not coming through our military intelligence channels?” Commander Lawson asked. Her eyes were suddenly focused.

“Because it came in from a civilian survey that was looking for new worlds to spread our people out. This was a test for a new ship to make sure it’s instrumentation was working correctly. This is what we got.”

“If you know they are going to double process why are you going to agree to the cease-fire?” Lawson asked eyes focused intensely now.

“I’ve got enough intelligence from you and my own sources to believe that the enemy has a very severe fuel shortage. Militarily we have inflicted high casualties upon their forces. I think they need a cease-fire because of the breakdown in their network they use to transfer their souls are CPU cores into new bodies. I think they need to rebuild this network to make sure that when they die they don’t just die.”

“So you want to destroy this fleet so they can’t ambush us?” Admiral Cobb asked.

“Indeed I do,” says the council executive. “I also want to hit every single cylon force anywhere near the territory we currently hold. I want to hammer their fuel system again and make sure that it’s going to take them six months to put it back together. Then we will announce the acceptance of the cease-fire.”

“What makes you think they will honor it after we hit them so hard?” asked Amanda Ramirez.

“It’s a gamble. A lot of their fleet is out after Admiral Adama or wherever the Frack he is.”

“Our force readiness is under 50% right now,” Admiral Cobb pointed out.

“I’ve got a group of former colonial officers and NCOs about 2000 of which are willing to help crew ships,” Brooks answered. “That should help a bit with readiness. It’s up to you how many ships you send I think you’ll need most of them though to pull this off. I think right now cease fire with them ready to ambush us it’s a bad idea.”

“We need it either way. On the other hand if we give them a good shellacking and really pound them hard it might give us the breathing room to build a colonial fleet they can actually defend us. I’m hoping that 30 days to come 60 days comes 90 days or more days. We have nearly 300,000 survivors from the 12 colonies. If we find world that can be inhabited and kept secret from these appliance store rejects and I am in favor of disappearing and hoping the cylons never catch up.”

Commander Lawson Who looked shaky now spoke with an angry whisper. “We’re going to need to send them all.”

The admiral stood up from his seat took out what look like a mobile phone and click the button on it. “Intelligence this is the admiral. I’m gonna send you some survey coordinates. I need a detailed stealthy military survey. I need to know if the forces we find at this location will stay there. I need to know how long.”

He turned to Commander’s Lawson and Ramirez. “We’re going to need both mercury classes to take a fleet of the size. We’re almost done with the repairs on the mercury. We need to divide up the airway and be ready to strike possibly within 24 hours. Can you do this?”

“Yes admiral,” Ramirez answered for the two of them. “I believe we can. We need to get the Intel down perfectly. We cannot have the jump coordinates be wrong like they were the last time we tried to take out their fuel network.”

“So say we all,” Eva Lawson said in a scratchy voice.

“So say we all!” The other three answered.

* * *

Commander Lawson was absent. The rest of the officers in the fleet group assigned to attack the cylon task force were in the map room of the Battlestar Mercury. Four other fleets had been formed. Their commanders were dialed in conference call.

Commander Ramirez gave the briefing. “We have raptors at the site of each fleet. They’re in staff mode but they have managed to get back to us but we believe are accurate jump coordinates. There’s a lot more going on here that we don’t understand. The suite is well supplied and ready to strike us.”

“We have gotten some close readings and their fuel reserves are low. We believe they are waiting for a fuel shipment to come from the refineries before launching an attack on our shipyards. We are going to intercept that fuel shipment and hit that fleet at the exact same time.”

“We are taking a huge risk here. There are no reserves. There are no reinforcements to help us at this battle goes south on us. ceae-fire is about to go into place. We have to make sure they need to cease-fire more than we do. Are there any questions?”

A bald, middle-aged commander with absolutely no hair on his head spoke up first. “We are going to Frack them up.”

“So say we all!” said a shrill female voice.

A large strong group answered. “So say we all!”

* * *

Commander Lawson was sitting on the floor of her bedroom naked except for a towel draped across her chest. “I can’t do this,” she said emphatically. “I need you here.”

“All you really need to do is be in uniform in your wheelchair in the CIC. This is a scripted battle. If it goes right you will need to do is follow the plan. We all know the plan.”

“I have rarely seen a plan survive first contact with the enemy. What’s going to happen if I freeze up at a critical moment?”

“The fact that you’re asking that question makes me believe it’s not going to happen,” Ramirez answered. “If it does happen your new XO who is an experienced officer will tell you what to say.I think your instincts are going to kick in. You will probably go on automatic pilot.”

“I need help,” Lawson said very softly.

“Then during the cease-fire follow the doctor’s orders and get your head straightened out. You are my mentor and my inspiration. I have achieved what I have achieved using you as a role model. I know he went through hell. I’m not gonna minimize what happened. Do I have your solemn promise that you will get help after this battle? Commander Lawson answer me!”

“Yes sir,” she said without much force or conviction.

“I’m going to hold you to that Commander Lawson.”

Commander Lawson looked at the flight roster that they were going to go to battle with her eyes bulged for a few moments.

“What happened to the Solaria?” She asked.

“She was ambushed by escorting a civilian convoy and is at the shipyard.”

“That ship had spunk,” Commander Lawson remarked. “What the hell is this?” she asked. “Three Adamant frigates? What museum did they dig up these ships in?”

“From what I hear there were six of them in civilian service running with the full armor and still with weapons.”

“Look up Mark seven vipers?”

“No commander Lawson,” Ramirez answered “Mark twos.”

“This will require a change in tactics.”

“The fast chips will charge. Most of the vipers will defend them against missiles and more hoping to get range and too heavy damage to the enemy capital ships.”

“That could lead to extremely high casualties.” Commander Lawson opined.

“This is a high-stakes mission commander.”

“Let’s revise the tactical deployment to minimize casualties please,” Lawson ordered.

* * *

The tension was always greatest right before the jump. A lot of things can go wrong. Being off by a few decimals could result in a combat jump that instead of being a good firing position put a fleet in the middle of a fire storm. This was the portion of the battle that relied on good intelligence.

They had been fooled before so this time I kept Raptors on the scene. This of course increase the chance of getting caught and losing the raptor crew. This was a much lower price to pay then using the tire for it.

This mission included both of the Mercury class Battlestar’s and a substantial portion of their fire power. The flight was escorted by three Valkyrie class support Battlestar’s, three adamant class frigates who seen better days. Two stealthy Orion class rounded out the fleet.

The countdown continued from 10 to 9 to 8 finally to zero. The feeling of falling followed by a white flash of light and it with everybody staring at the displays above on the monitors.

“DRADIS is correct. Showing 10 enemy ships three base stars, two a new configuration we’re not familiar with. Three revenant class cruisers and one nemesis class recon scout.”

Commander Lawson was standing in CIC and a pair of crutches. Her new executive officer a bland looking young man nearly 30 years old. He had close cropped blond hair and looked a marine wash out.

William Bill Simmons was his forgettable as his 12 year career in colonial fleet. He topped out at the rank of captain, developed a physical issue and washed out of the viper CAG position he was holding.

He had gone to war College and was nominally familiar with the operations of the various classes of Battlestar’s when he left the fleet five years before. Where they dug up this guy, Lawson did not know. She didn’t care much longer he didn’t give it away or figure out that she was barely able to do her job.

“Launch all fighters except for the Orion class hold him off for 12 more seconds then the clock and launch.”

“Vipers away,” the new executive officer reported. “Looks like two squadrons of heavy raiders is headed our way escorted by modern cylon Raiders. A lot of them looks like 12 squadrons.”

“At least the intelligence was correct on the number of modern base stars,” Lawson quipped, barely able to control her emotions she looked stiff and hopefully like she was in command.

“Lead elements are engaging. The Orion’s, the adamant’s, and the Valkyries.”

There was a white flash blotted out one of the video screens. “What was that?” asked Simmons.

“That was a 50 year old adamant class frigate,” Lawson replied. She motioned for everybody be quiet and listen to the radio frequency is by the vapors and the other ships in a fleet.

It was a good way to follow the battle. Several ships announced they were launching salvos of rockets at the enemy ships. A viper pilot announced they have made kills. They heavy raider squadrons were dispatched and we’re seconds by the mark seven vipers. One of the Viper pilots announced that that was the end of the boarding parties. Someone else announced that he should shut his mouth and continue to shoot at the enemy.

A second frigate came under fire and immediately exploded. Major Simmons stepped up next to Commander lesson and whispered in her ear. “The adamant class has no forward guns, in order to be a effective if we have to give them a broadside.”

“The 3-D screen I’m looking at shows that they got a broad side firing solution and they’re getting demolished. Not doing any damage to the enemy. These crews were simply not trained well enough before they were sent in a combat and 50 year old ships.” Lawson opined. “That goes number three.”

“That’s over 1000 Crew dead in a little over a minute,” he was wide eyed.

The radio communications continued on speaker. A kill was announced on the nemesis class recon scout. Soon after that, a kill was announcing the revenant class. Soon after a second was destroyed and then a third. The pilot that assisted announced scratch three antique gun ships.

“Let’s concentrate on forward salvo on those two new ships that look like kind of base stars.” Lawson ordered. “Signal to Saturn,” she ordered. “Left 20° main batteries fire when you have a solution.”

A base star exploded then two of the new ships it look like modified base stars. One of the two Orion class ships exploded in a fireball a few seconds later, surrounded by hail of missiles.

Commander Lawson ordered a sharper right turn to bring guns to bear in the last two bass stars and assist in their destruction. Most of the work has been done by fighters. Three Valkyrie class Battlestar is fired from below. One of them took a missile hit and exploded.

Finally what seems like only a few minutes the last two base stars exploded in sequence. The last one lasted about 15 seconds longer than the first one.

“Mission complete,” Major Simmons announced.

“What are losses what are our losses?” Commander Ramirez asked over the wireless. An unknown voice answered her.

“Three frigates, one Orion class, one Valkyrie class”

“DRADIS is clear,” another voice announced.

“Order all orphaned fighters to immediately land on our landing decks combat landings are authorized. Holy Frick,” Commander Lawson announced. “These are damned heavy losses.”

“We destroyed the fleet,” Major Simmons said in a questioning voice.

“DRADIS! New contact. Ten ship fleet same configuration.” There was a pause of about 10 seconds and another fleet jumped in, followed by a third. “We’re out numbered about 5 to 1 here sir!”

“Do all ships report FTL ready?” asked Commander Lawson.

Major Simmons leaned over to speak with the communications officer. He then raised his head and answer the question. “All remaining ships show FTL Green. 17 fighters still not on the landing deck. There’s been a collision on a port ventral pod. Redirect fighters to other decks.”

“Reconfirm coordinates,” Lawson ordered.

“All ships ready to jump,” Major Simmons was about to bark out the order to jump.

“Hold jump, I ordered you to reconfirm the jump coordinates of all ships.” Lawson ordered and a calm but commanding voice.

“I don’t know how you knew it sir but the Spartan had the wrong jump coordinates input.”

“Get us the frack out of here major!” Lawson ordered.

After the jump, the commander moved on crutches a few steps to her waiting wheelchair. She motioned to Major Simmons to come closer.

“I want a damage report and complete combat report from all surviving commanders, squadron leaders and commander air group. I will be in my quarters.”