Chapter 64: Rolling the hard six

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Day 402 after the fall.

As a Major and then a Commander, Eva Lawson did not like morning meetings. No amount of coffee could get the fog out of her mind before 9 am.

As an admiral she despised early morning meetings. This one was in a particularly obnoxious time 5:30 in the morning. All four of her mercury class Battlestar commanders were present as was the head of the fleet intelligence.

It actually amazed Admiral Lawson that with billions of people slaughtered, the whole colonies uninhabitable it was an unlimited supply of large monitors and which display intelligence and battle footage..

She reasoned that if there was a sufficient resources to produce for Mercury class battle star of the month and they’ll probably was sufficient resources to produce enough large screen monitors to keep her busy all day long.

“OK”, she said as she sipped her coffee. At least they were civilized enough to order a decent coffee for this meeting. She had barked at enough people to make sure that the was always going to be met in the future. “What am I looking at here?”

The intelligence chief who held the rank of major have been retired 10 years from the colonial fleet when the war had broken out. With the morning fog in the rain, Lawson could not remember the man’s name. She did remember reading a service record however that he had typed out a major due to a superior questioning his work ethic and thoroughness at vetting information sources.

“I remember when we had the same rank,” he said just audible enough for her to hear. “That sir is a shipyard with the Cylon’s use to finish assembly of their base stars. It is capable of finishing 12 base stars a month. Ships come in as empty shells, and internal configuration occurs at a rapid pace. There are thousands of Cylon skin jobs working this facility.”

“It looks small to me,” lost in remarks. “It looks like he can only work on two base stars at a time.”

“I always said you have a good eye for intelligence,” the major replied. “This one can actually finish three at a time. It takes one week to do this job. Components are coming from several other locations. We are tracking these for future strikes.”

“How do you know this is the only final assembly facility they have?” Commander Ramirez asked.

The major smiled. “Due to the raw data we download from your hack of the Cylon computer networks sir. We now have taps into the physical net work at 12 different locations, each is downloading massive amounts of data. Our current computer capacity is a joke. But by selectively applying the power we have two different intelligence dump we have read the following conclusions.”

He adjusted his uniform pants and then cleared his throat. We have seen was posing for praise. He received nothing but a get on with it look from Admiral Lawson. “We have verified the data has matched at every location by decrypting specific batches in computer systems that are physically isolated. They do not appear to be two data streams, one to fool us and one that they keep a secret. We have been able to randomly crack any file we put our computer resources to.”

“Now with sufficient computer power we could equipped the entire dump and he might find anomalies. As of this moment they’ll all data that we have decrypted is consistent. We also verified the intelligence with human intelligence resources. You approve the classified raptor mission three days ago. We have eyes on the site and we rotate our crews out every 12 hours. Everything that we’ve taken from the computer at work agrees with what our eyes on the scene and reporting back. This is a base ship finishing facility.”

“If we destroy it,” Lawson said. “We can send back their plans. They claim that they have left the colonies and it may be a resolution to leave us in peace. What do they need this kind of manufacturing capacity for anyway?”

Before he could answer, Colonel Simmons who almost never talked at meetings spoke up. “Where is this shipyard? My task force has visited all twelve colonies the past month and not seen it.”

“Besides the two ambushes of your task force,” the major answered. “There has been no evidence of Cylon incursion into any of the original 12 colonies. This facility is deep inside what was Cylon territory after the first Cylon war. I must point out that as tempting as this target is, it would be a huge escalation. It would likely violate the terms of the cease fire we are supposedly operating under. It is the intelligence branches recommendation that we consult the civilian authorities before going forward.”

Admiral Lawson brushed them off. “They are building 12 ships that are capable of firing nuclear weapons on the survivors of our worlds. They are clear and present danger to our survival of the species. I order a strike mission be drawn up to attack this facility and destroy it.”

The major replied quickly. “Consulting with the authorities covers our asses if the strike goes wrong. I estimate it will take to task forces to destroy this facility. We have digital photos indicating three modern base stars and three old Cerebes class carriers protect this facility.”

Ramirez sighed. “Saturn is out of this fight. FTL nav computer and backup are burned out. As I remember Mercury’s drive actuators are being replaced now. That means we have to send the junior team. I recommend we wait until one of the more experienced officers can lead the strike.”

“It’s not going to work,” said the major. He picked up a pointing device and zoom the screen in. The picture clearly showed a sale on FTL Drive. “There are six of them. It would only take three to be able to jump his facility so far away we never find it. From what we can tell Cylon FTL technology enables them to jump 10 to 20 times further than we can. It would be nice if we capture some of the technology and started to figure out how to upgrade our technology.”

“How often does it move?” Lawson asked.

“We have been monitoring the site for 30 days. We visited the site 60 days ago and 90 days ago. The digital images showed no activity until ten days ago. Based on the logistics data we decrypted from the Cylons, we estimate that this facility moves over two weeks. It appeared on our electronic sweeps 11 days ago. We have 3 days to act.”

Colonel Simmons was eager. He stood up and addressed his superiors. “I know you have trouble getting me promoted to commander. I have drawn up a strike plan. As you know the two ambushes that occurred in the colonies were taking care of my forces that I’ve been on my command for two months. My crews acquitted themselves quite well in those two battles. I have been training the hell out of these people. They are ready to step up and do this job. Please let me command the strike. I don’t care about the promotion. I care about damaging the Cylons so they can never hurt us again.”

“This is a very important operation,” and more Admiral Lawson said. “I see here that the commander of the Acropolis has a pregnant wife who is about to give birth. I’m sure he’s eager to participate in the strike but how about I take the conn out of that ship. You will still command the mission. I will just be available in case of surprise. Our ace in the hole.”

“You are asking me or ordering me?” Simmons asked.

“Asking,” Lawson said. “I think a wise battlestar commandeer would want the extra experience available.”

“I agree,” Simmons smiled.

“When do we junp off?” Lawson asked.

“Six hours. The tankers need to be placed to refuel us before he last jump. A safe jump plan will require 18 jumps. We should top off our tanks before the fight.”

You have planned well Colonel. Pull this off and I will frak Corey Brooks if thats what it takes to give you your commanders stars.”

* * *

Admiral Lawson settle down into guest quarters, refusing the offer of the grateful Colonel to use his quarters. She brought an overnight bag and two changes of cloths for the mission. With the precaution of sending raptor force recon ahead to check each jump point, it would take 18 hours to reach the target facility. Lawson curled up with a book and hoped to sleep the whole way. The problem was that FTL jumps while sleeping gave her vivid dreams.

Several times she flashed back to when she was held captive by the Cylons. They had somehow left the biological equivalent of a logic bomb in her brain. She could feel the sensations she had felt while they were assaulting her. It felt real and as ifi t was happening in the present.

She awoke with a start and opened her eyes. The guest suite had a bathroom and a medicine cabinet. She stared bleary eyed into the mirror and examined the choice of pills. A sleep aide was far less effective than natural sleep.

Reporting to the CIC having and no sleep in three days was not an option. Sleep deprivation had the same impact on command performance as alcohol. She read the instructions on the bottle and swallowed two pills with water.

In 15 minutes, she had settled herself int a dreamless sleep that she hoped might help with her symptoms. This time the FTL jumps did not trigger dreams. She woke up an hour before the strike mission. This gave her time to take a long, hot shower, then brushed and combed her air before putting into a tight, military bun.

The admiral noticed that she had felt a bit sluggish when she got out of bed. If you like that go away as it usually did when she prepared for duty. Perhaps the sleeping medication had more affect on her than she expected. She was no stranger to this type of medication. Often pilots how to use it to get sleep between long viper patrols.

Whenever she walked into the CIC of a ship she wanted to project of confidence. She wanted to be there to be a spring in her step. As she walked through the hallways of the Battlestar, she spent felt more and more sluggish.

They were about to do a combat jump into battle. She should be hyped up on adrenaline not feeling like she wanted to get back into bed. As she continued towards the CIC, she stopped and grabbed a cup of coffee off one of the trolleys used to serve crew that due to skill shortages often had to work long shifts. She gulped it down like a runner swallowing cold water, hoping to revive her physical state.

The marine guarding the combat information Center immediately recognized her and ran his access card which open the doors. Nobody who served aboard these ships thought the glass doors were practical. The ships stocked many spare doors to replace those shattered in combat.

The exile of the ship was a major Linda Peters. She was 36 years old, had left the colonial fleet three years before the war to have a baby. She and the child had survived the destruction of the colonies because they were on a on a trip to Tauron.

Miraculously the child’s father had also survived these events and was a civilian computer analyst. The child was with him in the refugee camp on a desolate new colony. He had been offered a military commission due to his skills involving protection of hacking and hacking into the enemy network.

He had turn down the offer to remain in civilian contractor doing the same job. Although there is no actual payment involved the government continue to give them IOUs for the day that might come or currency start to be used again. This time everybody that worked in a civilian job in the colonies basically did it for food and shelter.

Major Peters was about a centimeter or two taller than the admiral. She has platinum blond hair and many male officers found her attractive. After they worked with her for a while they found her to be intimidating. She has a reputation as being one of the meanest XO’s in the fleet. She could smile and tear you apart with words.

“Welcome to CIC admiral,” she said. “We will be in operational command of the ship?”

Admiral Lawson nodded her head and said no. “This is your chance to show me your command skills. I’m gonna sit here quietly, watch the strategic situation and only jump in if necessary.” She then stretched her arms in a long yawn. “Frak, I took a pill to get some sleep and it wont let me wake up.

Peters stretched out her hand and offered a white pill, a stimulant. “I know its not great, but we need you sharp Sir.” a quick gesture had a cup of water in the Admirals hand.

Lawson stared at it for several seconds and then popped it in her mouth and washed it down with water. “I hope this helps. SITREP.”

“All vipers are in the tubes. We are ready for combat jump and immediate launch. Flagship is signaling to jump”

Lawson nodded. Peters ordered the jump.

The jump had an unusual affect on the admiral. She felt a wave of nausea and barely avoided throwing up in the CIC.”

“DRADIS Seven ships in extreme range there unidentified at this time. Based on size they were probably three modern base stars and four smaller fighter carriers as expected. We do not have fighters on the screen yet from the enemy.“

“That will change,” the major said. “Launch all vipers. Form up according to the battle plan.”

Several tense seconds passed. The DRADIS beeped as small contacts started to launch.

“DRADIS, Two groups of fighters are forming again the ranges extreme we can’t get ID from here. The lower group appears to be modern raiders. Three ships just did a tactical jump towards the shipyard. There’s a large group of fighters protecting them. The lower group has formed up and is charging toward our fire formation.”

A Communications officer spoke up. “The flag ship is ordering all the wipers to attack the lower group of fighters. Valkyries are ordered to speed up an approach to get a lock on the vessels that are approaching the shipyard from above.”

The formation had started out tight. There were four large ships in a stack formation. A Mercury class on top. Between them was the solaria Jupiter class. below that was the second mercury and on the bottom an Atlas class carrier. These ships were nicknamed the brick. In this formation, besides adding air power, they offered the ships above them a lot of protection from fire below.

Now the Valkyries were speeding up ahead to try and get a sensor lock and find out what the opposition was flying.

“The enemy Raiders are retreating. They are running. The flag ship is ordering us to pursue.”

Major Peters was concerned. “Signal to flagship. We don’t want our vipers to get too far away from us. If they want to run we might want to let them run.”

“The flagship overrules they have ordered our fibers to pursue and destroy the enemy Raiders and then attack their base ships.”

Lawson knew there was a problem. This tactic been used against her before. While conducting a strike mission before the reunification with the new colonies they have tried to draw the fighters from the mercury out feeding an attack and then running.

Remind was getting foggy again. Her mind was getting foggy again. The stimulant pill was not working. She was confused when she remembered what this meant. The early days after the fall. The Raiders made a feint toward attacking and then run away, trying to draw away the Mercurys fighter cover. Then they attacked from above with. What? She couldn’t remember. Heavy. Heavy Raiders. Attempted boarding.

Lawson tried to speak. She meant to verbalize what she just thought. Words did not come out. Her voice croaked out sound but no words. She fell to the floor of CIC. Someone called for a doctor. Peters leaned down and put her ear next to Lawsons mouth.

“Fighters. Call back. Boarding. From above. Heavy Raiders…” Her voice was barely audible.

Peters got the gist. “Orders to our CAG. RTB RTB. I don’t care what the flag ship says recall all our planes. We are about to be boarded we must shoot down the heavy Raiders. Marines to condition one. Move toward the flight paths and prepare to attack the centurions.”

The communications officer reported. “The flagship has been boarded. Athena has been boarded. All flight pods. Our fighters did not get here in time. Every single heavy raider got here untouched.”

Major Peters jumped into action. “Have the air wing and the Solaria and the Atlas charge the enemy formation. The heavy raiders came from those smaller carriers. They are directing the attack from those ships. If we take them out the Centurions will lose command guidance.”

“All airlocks breached. Our line of defense is crumbling. We are losing subsystems.

Lawson was conscious but immobile on the floor of CIC. She could think. The Cylons had obviously poisoned her with the medication. She had seen this tactic and had defeated it early in the second war. When the enemy found out she was going on the mission, they had made an attempt to neutralize her.

Everyone who graduated the academy knew about Cylon boarding tactics. They would go to auxiliary damage control and open the airlocks and vent the ships. The absolute best marines and weapons were placed there. Lawson heard the reports as they came in competing with screams. The centurions made only a passive attempt to hit auxiliary damage control. 

They did not intend to destroy the ship. They wanted to wipe out the crew and damage the ship so badly that it would be out of action for months. This was a disaster in the making. There were explosions and screams echoing through the ship.

Admiral Lawson could not move. Even if she could move, she would not be able to do anything. She could see the FTL was offline.

The room spun and she lost consciousness. When she came to She could see the status board. All the ships subsystems were damaged. It was a brilliant assault. Rather than destroy the two vessels they Cylons would create enough damage that would force the Colonials to decide between making more Valkyries or fixing the two powerful battlestars.

The resource drain would be enormous. Lawson imagined the hearings and the meetings and how much the political cost would be. The crew complement of the chefs was normal in 2800. They cut a lot of corners to get these ships into battle 1500 people on her crew before this mission.

The centurions were on the bridge. First they shut out the glass of the doors that protected the CIC. Then they raked the crew of the CIC with random gun fire.

Lawson saw the body of major peters hit the floor she felt wounded near where she was lying. Hey centurion looked down in her eyes and saw that she was alive. For a brief moment and pointed his weapon at her head. It’s scanned her face with it moving red eye.

The admiral was curious as to why it left her alive. She felt the effects of the poison start to wear off. She was able to move her arms and then force yourself into a sitting position. If you minutes later she dragged herself to her feet, grabbed a headset and jumped on the wireless.

A lot of the equipment was not working having been shot with centurion bullets. It took her several minutes to get the wireless working. She moved to the control of the ships maneuvering thrusters an tried to adjust course, avoiding a collision with the shipyard. It was not like flying in viper. Most of the controls were unresponsive. She tugged away at the thrusters until she get turn the ship a few degrees to the right to avoid an immediate collision.

Moving and Communications, she played around with radio frequencies, finally getting the battle channel on her wireless headset.

“This is Acropolis actually, scratch that this is the admiral. The air wing is to continue the attack until all Cylon forces are eliminated. Protect the two ships that are on the offensive. We need to get a raptor back to Communications hub. We must report this battle to command. We’re going to require reinforcements to recover these two ships. We are likely going to need a lot of equipment to save these vessels.”

The orders were acknowledged. The raptor pilot made it close pass the Athena.

The digital footage showed combat happening inside the ship visible through some of the larger windows. Evidence of death and destruction was easy to spot on the 30 seconds of video that the raptor collected.

“This is the CAG of the Athena, we have heavy Raiders are leading decks. The enemy forces have been destroyed we need a plan for landing these birds we are almost bingo fuel.”

Admiral Lawson’s voice was husky is if she had been shouting. She click the microphone on her wireless headset. “Pack them in as tight you can on the Solaria and the Atlas. Then put up a CAP to defend this location until reinforcements arrive.”

“Sir this is Solaria actual. This position is deep inside Cylon space. If we bring heavy forces here to protect us during the recovery phase we risk attack on the new colonies. The force big enough to intimidate the Cylons would drain our defenses.”

“Engineering was going to need to send crews to do damage surveys. We are going to need several hundred marines co clear these ships of centurions. This ships FTL drive is lightly damaged. The NAV computers were destroyed. This was done to send us a message. We are going to have to recover the damaged ships quickly.”

“This is marine task force two. We have landed on the Athena. We have destroyed the heavy raiders and are now moving into the ship. We are encountering heavy resistance.”

Lawson pressed a few buttons and got on the PA. “This is the admiral. All crew members are directed to shelter in place. If you have weapons, arm yourselves. We are going to retake the ship.”

* * *

A week later, Admiral Lawson was going through a pile of communications. There were a dozen urgent messages ordering her to abandon the two battlestars and return to fleet command. It had taken three days to clear out the centurions. The supplies arrived to make emergency repairs on the FTL drives.

Corey Brooks had blocked shipment of FTL parts from the Mercury, for fear that she was being made inoperable by removing key parts. This was not true. Reserve supplies were drained and sent to the two damaged ships.

The crew of the battlestars had been roughly 1500 each ship. The air wings were under strength and totaled 800 pilots. Losses in the ambush had been low. Of the 2,214 crew that were not pilots, there was a total of about 200 persons to manage the two ships.

Lawson doggedly refused to read communications from Corey Brooks. If she never read the orders, how could she be accused of violating these orders?

When Corey Brooks met the admiral in her shipyard office ten days later, she asked how this had happened.

“It’s my responsibility,” said the admiral. We took a high risk gamble. We tried to take out a high-priority target. We were the sucker. It was a well planned ambush. We rolled the hard six and we lost.” She handed the folder to the leader of the People’s Council.

Brooks opened the folder and read the letter. “This is your resignation?”

“I’m recommending I be replaced with Commander Ramirez. She is young and disciplined. She will make a fine replacement for me.”

“She’s a 31 year old computer analyst forced to a command role. She just learned how to fly a viper. Lose one battle and you start talking about quitting. I may have had some pre-judgments about you but you’ve acquitted yourself well. Stand up and get ready to bounce back from this battle. You have two decades of experience.”

“We’re going to need funding to rebuild these ships.”

“You’ll get everything you asked for,” Brooks reply. “If we plan for six month rebuild, we can spread the cost into budget years.”

Lawson answered. “I thought you want to big budget cuts.”

“Of course I do, I’m a politician,” she answered. “But right now we are at war. These two warships are going to be rebuilt.”

It was a dull thought I heard outside the door of Admiral Lawson’s office. It sounded like a body hitting the ground hard. The door opened and a model number one Cavill walk through the doorway.

With a quick reflexes Lawson reached her hand into a desk drawer and pulled out a military issue pistol. She pointed at the Cylon’s head.

“I come with a message,” he raised his hands as he spoke. “You have violated the cease fire. We are not amused with this course of action. I’m here to send you a warning. Follow the cease fire correctly or we will bring down fire and destruction on your newly re-established colonies.”

Corey Brooks stood up and face the man. “You have violated the cease-fire constantly. We have evidence of your forces scouting location of our new refugee colonies. You continue to build warships and you abuse them against us. Cease-fire must go both ways.”

The model one spoke. “If you limit the size of your military to 100 ships and the colonies are neutral territories. You will need to stay out of them completely if you want to cease-fire to continue.”

“Offer rejected. We will except no limits on the side of our fleet. It is obvious that you have thousands of ships and sent them across the galaxy in search of the Galactica. We will also need to continue visiting the colonies. As you are I’m sure where we are drawing down industrial supplies. We need those for the rebuilding of our civilization. This is not just for military use.”

“All right you may send unarmed ships into the original colonies and they will not be attacked. Will you require anything else?” He sneered.

“We require that you stop building new warships,” Admiral Lawson added.

“Rejected,” he answered we need to explore the galaxy and find earth. That requires a lot of ships. The offer is as it stands. You keep your warships out of the colonies and your supply missions will be left in peace. Do you have 10 seconds to except the offer.”

“We accept,” Brooks answered. “Please acknowledge.”

“We accept your offer and the cease-fire is in place immediately.”

“Kill him,” Brooks ordered.

Admiral Lawson fired two shots directly into his forehead. He had a brief look of surprise before he fell dead to the floor.

“When he resurrects our message movies will be received by the Cylon.”

“Oh I know why you ordered it Leader Brooks. It is just a hell of a way to conduct diplomatic negotiations.” She laid the smoking pistol on the desk, sat down and sipped her coffee as if nothing had happened.

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