Chapter 67: Fleet Headquarters Battelestar Solaria Ready Room
Herman Wilson’s grandfather had commanded a battlestar in the first Cylon war. He had fought under the command of Eva Lawson’s grandmother, also Eva Lawson. Also an Admiral by the end of the war. She had used several flagships, the most famous of which was named Mercury, nicknamed “Mighty Mercury” a Jupiter Mark ii.
The Solaria had been badly damaged several times during this war. Right now it was next in line to receive the Cylon FTL upgrade.
Herman Wilson was a malcontent, with a record of failure. He had washed out of Viper pilots school, and barely passed his check ride for the raptor. He had been cut during a downsizing 2 years before the fall only to be drafted and shunned to the Solaria, which required 24 by 7 maintenance just to keep it from falling apart.
He and a few buddies were in the ready room with an open bottle of whiskey and a serious case of attitude.
“I can’t believe Lawson just sits there while the politicians cut the budget,” Wilson, a Major and nearly fifty years old. “I just missed being cut again.”
Barry Lockheart, also a three time loser in the Colonial fleet, was overweight, and bald. His uniform was shabby, showing sings of wear on the elbows. “Then who would they get to command this barge?” He asked.
“They should turn this into a whorehouse and station them here to take care of the real men of the Colonial fleet,” Jim Ward, A Captain and the XO of the Solaria laughed. “The stories I hear are so wild, you’d think they were fiction.
Ward had managed not to wash out of Colonial Fleet but this was only due to political connections. He had been working in the mess hall on the Valkyrie class battlestar, the Blackbird which had survived the assault due to a fire in the data center that had taken its entire network offline the day before the fall.
He was a braggart and boasted often. He had never laid eyes on Lawson from afar, much less had personal contact with him. It was well known her exploits in the fleet favored pilots. “It was about three years before the war. We were on liberty at Tauron and she came on to me like a Viper pilot on a target drone. She was a wild one,” he laughed.
“I bet she knew tricks that your mother didn’t know,” Lockheart took a drink on his Whiskey.”
“His mother knew tricks that Lawson didn’t know,” Ward let out a disgusting belly laugh.
“I’m serious though,” Wilson tried to stop laughing. A couple of off duty Marines were taking in the scene, but were not drinking or participating in the discussion. “She is not fit for command. Toasters captured her and probably put that Cylon software in her head.
“You guy’s are full of it. You don’t have the guts to do anything about this,” Ward remarked.
“There is no chain of command,” Wilson said, “no honor. They had out ranks like candy. But I’m serious, we have to find a way to put men of action in command of this fleet.”
“Everyone knows Lawson whored her way to the rank of Major,” Ward laughed.
“I heard she was a frakking great pilot and an excellent CAG, who earned her rank,” A Marine remarked finally joining the conversation.
“That’s what she said to me after I frakked her,” a previously quiet officer spoke up. “He stepped forward standing up straighter as he spoke. “What you are talking about is a mutiny. That carries the death sentence in a time of war. Now if you fellows are serious, I’ve got the connections that can pull it off. So are you a frakking bunch of losers, or do you want to keep Admiral slut from giving away the entire second war?”
There was silence for a few seconds.
“I knew it,” he snarled. “A bunch of frakking losers. Enjoy the unemployment line when they lay you lazy frakkers off.”
“I got the guts to take action,” Wilson said while puffing out his chest.
“I am with you,” Lockheart said.
“So say we all,” a single forceful voice in the back of the room shouted.
“So say we all!” The combined voices sounded like thunder. Energy swept through the crowded map room.
Task force Saturn
“Commander,” Wilma Jennings, an enlisted technician reported. “All ships show ready to jump.”
“Combat jump is ordered,” she said firmly. It was at these moments she least believed she commanded not only a battlestar but a task force. It sank in as the jump key was inserted, the nav computers and coordinates were confirmed and the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach she always felt during the FTL jump.
Rock Star and Streak got the assignment to relay the orders to the task force led by the Saturn and Commander Ramirez. They arrived just after the jump in, which had been delayed a few minutes by some technical issues.
“This is raptor two niner one niner, we have a change in orders for the Saturn ask force. Abort abort abort. RTB.”
“What the frak? Why? Ramirez asked on the wireless. This is Saturn actual.”
“This package is a distraction to take us away from the home systems. These orders are authenticated.”
“Launch all vipers,” Ramirez ordered. “Execute defensive plan delta.”
Ramirez paced around the CIC, which did not really have room for pacing on the Mercury class. “Okay
“We are going to try and contain this situation and get out of this with minimal damage.”
“Salvage team has jumped away,” tactical reported. “The base stars are trying to bracket us.”
“All ships hard right,” Ramirez ordered. “Concentrate our fire on the nearest base star.”
“The base stars have jumped further away with tactical jumps,” DRADIS reported.
“The raiders are alternately running in a different direction, trying to disrupt our formation,” Saturn’s CAG announced on the wireless.
“Keep it steady,” Ramirez ordered in a low voice, barely audible from the noise of the DRADIS console.
Ramirez had come to ely heavily on her DRADIS operator. Lieutenant Junior Grade Sam “Radar” Kensignton was one of the few bridge officers with a call sign. He had developed a protocol and then a computer program that combined DRASDIS and other signals intelligence to predict Cylon tactics such as tactical jumps.
He had an instinct for Cylon tactics and could predict their next move, sometimes just based on squadron deployments. He was twenty years of age, born on Gemenon, with wild brown hair that nobody made him cut out of superstition.
Ramirez settled in behind him and gently rested a hand on this thin shoulders. “Talk to me Radar,” she said softly. What do you hear.”
“Nothing but the DRADIS Sir,” he answered. “Their tactics do not make sense. They had an opportunity due to our deployment to possibly hit our fire control but they did not take it. Normally they raise their base stars and move towards us looking for that fire control shot. Today I don’t know they are drifting away trying to draw us in.”
“They are not going for a win here?”
“No Sir, he answered. They just want us to stay here.”
Something caught the commanders eye on a screen installed especially for Radar that flashed through various sensor images including the feed from telescopes which he had used to pick up battle recon. “Can you put telescope 4a on a bigger monitor and zoom in?”
A few seconds later he had an image of the refinery they were supposed to capture in a grainy zoom image. Rigged on crucial areas were explosives with communications gear connected. “They knew we were coming and they knew the mission objective Sir. They want to keep us here.”
“But why?” Commander Ramirez was stumped. “Okay everybody for 20 seconds let the battle take care of itself. I need your brains. They Cylons want to keep us here as long as possible. They have guessed our mission or knew our mission and the refinery is rigged for remote detonation.”
“Are you sure?” Jim Preston her 34 year old XO asked. “Their tactics have been bad before.”
“Assume I am. This refinery is much more valuable to us than them. They probably have fifty more. Why do they want us here?”
“Toasters don’t need a reason,” quipped the fire control officer. These sessions, which Ramirez had adapted from her IT days were anything goes. The only stupid statement or question was the one not made.
“They have bigger fish to fry Sir,” Communications a woman who looked like a teenage video game junkie said. “They are wanting us here to let them hit something else.”
“Lawson’s task force?” engineering proposed.
“No,” Ramirez directed the conversation. “Admiral Lawson sent orders by raptor for us to extricate ourselves from here. Rock Star and Streak made that pretty clear.
“They are after the shipyard or the new Colonies Sir. That is the only reason to drag this battle out. They are wasting obvious ways to cause us casualties.” Radar, opined.
“Missile salvo coming in high,” the tactical officer warned. Soon there was the crash and noise of a barrage that had gotten by the defensive fire and hit the armor.
“A base star just jumped into a Phobos attack ship,” the tactical officer reported staring up at a s creen that showed two ships burning.
“Massive missile salvo inbound targeting the support battlestars,” tactical reported urgently.
“Their gunship is history!”
“Good shots,” Ramirez praised.
“Valkyrie in trouble!” Tactical reported.
There was a flash and one of the communications channels went dark. “We lost a Valkyrie,” the 24 year old tactical officer reported, her voice full of emotion.
“Two hundred missiles inbound from port,” warned tactical.
The entire ship shuddered as flak took out most of the missiles and a few snuck through. The power flickered.
“Phobos is trying to hack the Acropolis,” one of Ramirez’s lead geeks reported. “They have activated counter measures.”
“Cylon base star I making a run for Acropolis!” tactical reported urgently.
“They know what to do,” Commander Ramirez replied.
They held their breathes and watched the screen while continuing to make sure Saturn was dealing with their attackers.
“Massive inbound fire!” warned two officers in unison.
“Turn starboard, get the forward guns on our base star,” the commander ordered. “Salvo fire as soon as there is a solution.”
After a very tense two minutes, they say the last base star and an ancient first war Argos go up in balls of flames.
“Recall the vipers,” the commander ordered.
“New batch of ships just jumped in,” DRADIS reported.
“As soon as the birds are recovered we jump back t o fleet HQ,” Ramirez said, ending the discussion. “We will jump under fire. Combat landings are authorized.”