Day 463 after the fall
Admiral Lawson had been having trouble sleeping for many months now. She knew today was the 463 days since the fall of the colonies. She is just re-qualified on the mark seven viper. Finding time to fly the minimum hours has been very difficult for her. The Cylons had not been seen since the attack on the Athena and the Acropolis 61 days before..
The admiral had instituted a intense and costly program of training. All pilots were required to fly regularly. Simulator exercise occurred twice a month. Recruiting was going slowly since the crews of two Battlestar’s had been slaughtered.
Keeping the training program funded in both natural resources and human resources was proven to be a full-time job. It took her six weeks to find the time to do her check ride and to remain legally empowered to command of a Battlestar. Her pilots license.
That task been completed six hours ago. It was now 3 AM ships time. When sleep was difficult she had a established the habit of walking around on the least travel sections of the ship. With a crew of over 1500, the ship was never empty even deep within the recesses of the enormous FTL jump drives. She found the walks to be peaceful. She was able to go over her thoughts.
Before her check ride she had had to make an appearance before the People’s Council. She had been attacked for using too much resources. Between shipbuilding and crewing fleet 45,000 people were thus removed from the civilian work force.
She still remembered Councilman Jenkins. He had spoken in his eloquent style. “My dear admiral while we are grateful for your service and resources we are pouring into this defense is simply not justified.”
“We have not seen nor heard from the Cylons in nearly 4 months. Maybe they mean to leave us in peace now.”
“New political math,” she had said under her breath, but intentionally audible.
“What was that admiral?” His voice was annoyed and not respectful.
“It has in fact been 60 days since the ambush of the Battlestars Acropolis and Athena and the massacre of their crew. That is mathematically two months, not four months of quiet from the Cylons. “
“Well since that was on their side of the armistice line and we were launching an unprovoked attack on their fleet, it does not count. You started it.” Have you ever considered the possibility that the Cylons are tired of fighting us and they don’t want to be at war with us any more?”
“No,” Lawson answered, saying nothing else.
After 15 seconds of silence followed by murmuring, he spoke. “Care to elaborate?”
The admiral took a deep breath before she replied. She prayed for control of her temper. “A little over a year ago Cylons Attacked our home worlds and slaughtered tens of billions of people. They know where we are. We are substantially outnumbered. They can come and destroy our civilization anytime they want now is not the time to cut military spending. Now is the time to increase spending. We need to leave these 14 worlds and move off into the stars and settle a place to Cylons can never find us.”
Jenkins cleared his throat before his reply. “Or you can tell me that we are to pick up and leave with 496,000 persons. At one point we are shipbuilding program have the number of shifts required to haul that many people? What about resources that we need like fuel and food?”
Lawson replied carefully. “Your last question first. Our enemies have left a large amount of fuel behind when they left. We have been bringing into the storage facilities here for six months now. We are working on a solution to feeding the people on this long journey. If you grant us the increase in human resources and natural resources we eventually can be ready to move away from here. I want the Cylon to find nothing here when they come. Do not doubt councilman that they will come. They waited 40 years before they attacked the colonies. I cannot promise you when they will return but I do promise you they are building up their forces in preparing at this time.”
Jenkins made a noise with his mouth it sounded like clucking. “Admiral Lawson have you located a single Cylon vessel in the last four months during which she was spent a large amount of natural resources scouting as far as your ships can take you?”
“Not yet sir.”
“When will your ship building program have enough capacity to carry the people?
“If you approve this budget request and give me 5000 more workers, five years.”
“Add more Lawson you’re going to have to prove to this council that there is an actual threat from the enemy before we fund this outlandish request. Is my recommendation that your increase in funding be denied. Please return to us in 30 days with a plan to cut military spending by 25%.”
“Councilman cuts of that magnitude would prevent us from completing the repairs on the Athena and the Acropolis.”
“Well admiral find me some Cylons and then we will reconsider your funding request. You must provide us cuts in the budget. I would think that an admiral of your stature could do a better job than I deciding where to make these cuts.”
The admiral struggle to control her temper. “The evidence in favor of continued military preparedness are the still burning and wasted by radiation in the 12 colonies. We need to strike out and get as far away from the enemy as possible. We must never forget the slaughter of the first Cylon war or the second.”
A member of the engineering crew walked in front of the Admiral and saluted. She was shaking from her reverie and returned the salute.
Then Admiral Lawson stopped in her tracks. She closed her eyes and rubbed them. She was seeing Admiral Mueller standing in the hallway in his crisp, perfectly pressed uniform.
She was seeing hallucinations.
“I’m not a hallucination,” Mueller said. “Think of me as a piece of his soul, that was so attached to this ship, it could not move on after he died.”
Lawson resolved not to be seen talking to herself at 3 a.m. She tried to sidestep him and walk by.
“You’ve done a fine job little one, stepping up to be Admiral, when we know what you really are?”
“I’m going crazy.”
“I am a piece of Admiral Mueller’s soul sent to you by an Angel of God.”
“What do you want?” She finally conceded and spoke with the apparition.
“All of this has happened before. It will happen again if you don’t listen to me.”
“What do you want me to hear?”
“Don’t explore the Mutara system for resources, it is too dangerous.”
Lawson chuckled as she continued to speak with the dead admiral. “There is a mountain of Tylium in Mutara. I will get it and trade it to the Peoples Council for the funding we need to provide the defense.”
Admiral Mueller clucked derisively. “Your plan to migrate a half million persons to the stars? How cute, you are going to find a place where the Cylons can’t find you?”
“Something like that.”
“There will be another slaughter. You will visit Earth and meet Adama. You will take the remnants of these new Colonies into their end. But only if you don’t get killed.”
“Yea great. We have a six o’clock jump Admiral. I have confined myself to quarters”
“They never listen to us the first time,” An image that looked like Gaeus Baltar nodded and gazed into the distance, expressionless.
* * *
Admiral Lawson looked well groomed when she came into the CIC. Her XO was a former pilot, a 29 year old wide eyed lieutenant until getting promoted several weeks ago. He looked athletic, 1.8 meters tall, with blond hair, blue eyes and a curious expression on his face.
“SitRep,” Lawson ordered as she stepped into her normal spot in the command center.
The Mutara system has been under frequent sweeps, Raptors and smaller ships like Adamant and Bezerk class mostly. Sometimes force recon 3 assault raptors 2 recon birds. There have been no signs of Cylon presence, no signals.”
“What is your entry plan captain?” Lawson asked.
“Sir we go too condition two, I think its safe to make the jump if we up our alert status from 5 birds in the tubes to ten Sir. No Cylon signals intelligence..”
The admiral crossed her arms folded them across her chest. “The system with a little mountain of fuel and it appears to be unguarded. Have I not issued a general order about this since the boardings and massacres of the crews of Acropolis and Athena?”
“Ah Sir..” he stuttered.
“Please repeat general order 76 to all colonial forces,” she looked inpatient that she still awaiting her answer.
“General order 76 from Admiral Eva Lawson states that any colonial forces entering a system that is not under colonial control with permanent forces is to take place under high alert status. That means that force recon jumps first, 3 assault birds, three recon birds.”
“So you see Captain Bench,” she used his family name. “You don’t need to think you have your orders. Get it set up with double the normal force. Blue squadron in the tubes instead of ten. I have a high level intelligence source that has concern about this system.” She wisely they omitted the fact that her intelligence source was an apparition that appeared to her in the form of Admiral Mueller.
“But Sir we have orders to conserve fuel.”
“Did I issue any orders to that effect?”
“No Sir, came in the night watch communications. To all Colonial forces Peoples Council Executive Cory Brooks.
“Does she give orders on this ship Captain?”
Looking flustered, he answered meekly. “No Sir.”
“Set up the recon,” she ordered. In her mind, she was disgusted. Her expression only conveyed her desire to complete the mission.
“We will never let the politicians compromise our safety.” Lawson breathed deeply. “That is general order 77 I think. Someone bring me some coffee.”
Captain Bench picked up the phone and
got on the PA. “This is the XO. Set condition two on the ship.
Force recon will be 10 birds, two jump points within the system. Blue
squadron in the tubes.”
It was bad enough that the budget cuts had forced her to jump into the system without backup.
There was no way she was going in, deaf, dumb and blind.
Thirty minutes later the reconnaissance was complete and they had made the jump.
“DRADIS!” The excited officer in charge shouted before quietly adding the word “clear. DRADIS is clear sir.”
“All right get the vipers out there. All raptors launched need to find the fuel bring in the cargo ships and haul out of here before the Cylon figure out what we’re doing. Keep a close eye on the DRADIS Lieutenant, “Let all pilots know to stay frosty and keep their heads on a swivel.”
“Yes Sir,” the young woman who looked to be barely 18 answered.
Lawson stretched her arms and fiddled with her hair. She considered walking to the mess hall for some world famous Mercury madness coffee. She decided against that because everyone else had a job and her job was to keep the crew safe.
Right after the CAG and LSO announced that all birds were in the air the DRADIS id its three double chirps and showed three unknown contacts They were too big and too early to be the ore carriers. Smaller contacts came on the screen a half second later. The computer was slow in identifying the targets.
Before the ID, Lawson gave orders. “Set condition one. All vipers to defense positions. Recall those raptor crews.
The DRADIS operator announced the computer targeting decision. “Three base stars seven support ships CBDR. They are launching raiders.”
“How long is it gonna take us to recover our birds and jump out of here?” Admiral Lawson asked.
“It could take up to 10 minutes sir.”
Another officer spoke up. “Network breach. Cylons have compromised our network.”
Captain Bench took charge of this.
“Institute network isolation for all defense subsystems. Gun
crews please report if you are still operating in automatic mode.”
A new protocol has been implemented physically dividing the Mercury network to make Cylon hacking more difficult. “Guns report still running in automatic mode. Sensor information has been received. The hack got to the FTL nav computer before the network was divided. Estimate 15 minutes till FTL is back online. We are restoring from prewar back ups.”
“Vipers report in defense positions ready for action.” Reported the CIC flight officer.
“Weapons free engage all enemy units. Make sure everyone know where the established fire zones are. Everyone else weapons free.” Admiral Lawson ordered.
“Cylon are pulling back. They are out of gun range. Their base ships are out of gun range they are going to attempt a missile salvo on three sides.” Reported the tactical officer .
“Notify vipers of established defense zones. Full automatic fire on the zones in 15 seconds. Get ready to turn the ship hard we’re going to rotate and make it hard for them to hit us. Flak on one side, pcm on the other. All weapons free” said Admiral Lawson.
“Flak is active on the port side”
“Turn it to port until we have a 90° angle on the inbound Cylon probable firing arch. We have vipers on defensive for all three of the base stars?”
“Yes Sir” The flight officer confirmed.
“Inbound heavy Raiders they’re going to attempt a boarding!”
“Fire teams to the flight pods. Concentrate PDC fire on the inbound heavy raiders.” Lawson ordered.
“That will result in more missile hits,” the XO warned.
“Beats getting boarded.”
“Prepare to switch flak to the right side,” ordered Admiral Lawson. We need time is just perfectly.”
“We are ready sir.”
“Flak ambush now now now,” Lawson ordered.
“We have a few boarders are contained in the starboard flight pod. Marines are counter attacking.”
“Order the reserve vipers to target heavy raiders.
“We have inbound missiles. Repeat inbound missiles coming in from three firing arcs.”
“Order all vipers to engage defensive positions must be maintained.” Admiral Lawson looked up for his moments. “Yellow squadron green squadron and black squadron attack your base stars now now now. Helm hard to port.”
The roar of missiles hitting the outer armor shook the entire battleship star. Everyone grabbed onto something as the ship rocked under the impact of the first round of missiles that made it through the flak. “Missile hit starboard flight part.” Someone reported in an urgent voice.
“Another inbound coming towards the starboard flight pod.”
“We need better intercept on these inbounds,” Lawson warned.
“Damage control teams to the starboard flight pod,” the XO announced on the PA.
“Three inbound missile salvos, fore aft and port.”
“Flak has the port side missiles, switch engagement zone to port. Helm hard to port, lets make this difficult for them.”
The deck shook under their feet. “Frontal armor hit. Vipers got most of it.”
“Hit port flight pod vipers only partially intercepted.” The deck shook again. “That was another partial intercept impact front. We cant keep taking this kind of pounding.”
“Vipers do better. Maintain port rotation, At least that will make our armor last longer. FTL status?”
“Still off line Sir.”
“Damage control teams to the port flight pod,” the XO ordered,voice echoing all over the ship. He cut off the PA. “There has been some hull damage in the pods.”
She acknowledged the report with a nod.
“Switch flak port, continue rotation,” Lawson ordered calmly. She had been through this a few times by now.”
“Keep making those turns helm” Lawson ordered.
“Another direct hit on the port flight pod.”
Inside the port flight pod, crews hit the deck as a shower of firey sparks rained down on the repair area. Vipers were already coming in with damaged planes.
“Three more inbound salvos. We are going to take a hit on the frontal section port side. Vipers were out of position.”
A deafening roar accompanied the missile hit.
One of the glass doors to CIC shattered. Lawson absently wondered if they stocked a lot of that glass on the ship. She also wondered what would happen if they ran out.
“Another three salvos inbound.”
“Gun crews target the inbounds!” Lawson ordered.
Several CIC crew members winced as the battlestar seemed to be shaking at its core. The sound of the guns firing echoed through out the ship. Red lights were flashing on the damage control display.
“Get me an ETA on those FTL drives. We are losing his fight and may need to recover our birds and run.”
“They have stopped firing,” the tactical officer reported.
“They are spooling up their FTL!”
“Recover our birds. Destroy the tylium.”
“All vipers RTB RTB. Assault raptors take out the Tylium reserves. There must be an ammunition dump here. These base stars came in with pretty low ammunition. We need to be out of here before the Cylons come back in force.”
“FTL will be ready online in 20 minutes.”
“Copy that,” Lawson said.