Chapter 6 Battlestar Mercury – Exodus “Chain of command.”

Admiral Lawson straightened her uniform after 30 minutes of intense planning in the office portion of her quarters. She was in overdrive, having received the news that the Cylons had jumped forces into all 14 outposts that formed the new colonies.

Though the decision to colonize now seemed reckless, it was done with coordination with the military.

Due to spacial anomalies, some massive ion fields, there was only four safe routes to FTL into the new settlements. That could be defended by 4 battlestar groups based on the 4 Mercury class ships. The Solaria, a Jupiter Mk.2 was scheduled for upgrade to allow for rotation.

Several factors were not taken into account. The first was that Cylon advances in FTL technology enabled them to jump fleets directly into the Colonies. This divided their forces, but allowed for resurrection ships at the 4 defended jump access points.

The second factor, not taken into account were the severe resource shortages supporting nearly half a million refugees. The mere fuel requirements of keeping 5 major battlestar groups running necessitated the need to go on the offensive. That was the only way to get enough fuel.

Human resource shortages, caused work to back up at the one mobile shipyard. Food shortages had resulted in civil unrest. The “New Settlement” as it was called was disintegrating before the failed fuel mission and the assault on the Colonials.

The initial reports from Cory Brooks were grim, however some forces remained in orbit of all 13 settlements. They were engaged in a hit 0and run battle, which kept the Cylons from dropping nukes on all the planets after the initial fear of a massacre.

To maintain resurrection ability, which was very important to the Cylons, they had to maintain resurrection ships at all for intermediate jump points.

Lawson’s XO who was really a wounded Viper squadron XO was busy doing what he knew best, which was planning the air strikes on the resurrection ships that Lawson had ordered. Engineering problems on both the Mercury and Saturn had delayed their FTL jumps from HQ for approximately 45 minutes, two thirds of which had passed.

Task Force Athena and Acropolis had jumped out on time. Communications, using the hacked Cylon communications network were spotty. The Cylons were aware of the incursion and were fighting the hackers from the two delayed battlestar groups. Their geek staffs were in what they called a “Moss Pit” in two meeting rooms on the Mercury and Saturn, connected by video conferencing.

There, they shouted out ideas, and put together code bits and scripts to both defend their network defend access and launch cyber offensives to further their control on the network. The Cylons had control of the hardware, a system of satellites and ships.

Soon after, both sides realized that neither could simply shut down the network. The Cylons could not conduct an attack with no communications. Also resurrection depended on this same network. An unspoken truce went into place were both sides tried to gain advantage but neither side shut it down.

This allowed code breakers on both sides to try and intercept and decrypt the communications of the other.

Engineering on wireless announced the Mercury was ready to jump. Two minutes later, Saturn reported the same. Maria Ramirez, left the office after an emotional and wordless hug. Both the Admiral and the Commander thought it likely that they would never see each other again.

“This is Athena actual,” her commander reported. “Our resurrection ship is history. The Cylons have jumped out of our three colonies. We have Council Leader Brooks aboard ordering us to squeeze 80,000 refugees into our battle group.”

“Stand by on that,” Lawson barked. “Help is on the way. You take orders only through my command. I’ve signed an order implementing martial law inside your command. Talk to Brooks, she signed these orders and she will be helpful after she stops giving orders.”

A wireless transmission crackled on the speakers, barely audible. “This is Solaria actual. We have rejoined the fleet temporarily. We have taken access point beta. Raptor recon has 4 modern base stars and a large fleet at point gamma. My team is providing live recon.”

“You are provisionally reinstated,” Lawson said.

“There’s more,” Solaria’s commander said. “Our assault raptor squadron had taken out access point gamma’s resurrection ship. We believe that force is going to consolidate at New Scorpia. The other Cylon forces not engaged by Athena and Acropolis is consolidating at New Scorpia. Civil order has broken down in all the new settlements. People killing each other for space on transports.”

“I assume that you have been offered an unlimited supply of people to crew your ship?” Ramirez spoke from her own CIC.” It was not a question.

“Quite correct commander,” Solaria’s mutinous commander said. “The fact is the Cylons don’t have to kill us. Civil disorder has broken out. People fighting for spots on transports. We have one transport spot for every six citizens of the settlements.”

Lawson was handed a tablet computer and was silent as she read. “We have navigation coordinates to jump directly to New Scorpia. Saturn Actual, we will jump together. We jump in ten minutes. We take one task force to New Scorpia and the remaining forces will try to defend the rest of the Colonies.”

“Without resurrection ships, the Cylons will abandon a direct assault,” Ramirez said, silently hoping her tactical analysis was correct. “That might give us time to retreat in some order. We have no condition report on the scrap yard. Best case scenario is we have half the capacity we need to evacuate these settlements.”

“Then we will make the hard choice,” Admiral Lawson said, flipping stray bangs off her forehead. “We will leave some people behind.”

“Casualties are high,” Solaria actual “if operation Bus Heist succeeds, we may be able too squeeze everyone in. The mutiny is over Admiral Lawson. You were right and we should have hit the road a year ago. I ask amnesty for my forces. I will surrender after the people are safe.”

“Fine,” Lawson snapped. “transmit the new orders. I want to crush that Cylon fleet ASAP.”

“Give me a minute to write the frakking orders,” an NCO clerk spoke sharply. After a cold, harsh stare the young woman added. “Admiral.”

Ten minutes later they finished systems checks in the CIC.

“FTL” Lawson blinked as she could not recall her new XO’s name as he called out for the FTL status.

“All lights green, all systems ready,” Engineering answered.

Though he was wearing a Colonel’s rank pin, Lawson thought he looked barely past his teen age years. Still, he acted as if he was the executive officer, platinum blond hair an acne not withstanding.

“Admiral, all systems report ready for a combat jump. All squadrons ready for launch on the other side.”

“Execute combat jump!” Admiral Lawson ordered.

<Video Segment 1: Jump out of Saturn and Mercury.>

Eva Lawson never liked FTL jumps. The knowledge that a powerful Cylon fleet was threeatening the settlement of New Scorpia, did nothing for her mood.

The queasy feeling in her stomach was bathed in bright white light and feeling of not having a physical body for a few brief milliseconds. Now a veteran of hundreds of FTL jumps she felt as if this jumpw was the worst of all.

To steady herself, she briefly gripped the CIC table with both hands. As the world came back into focus she thought about what lay ahead for a few brief seconds. It was actually a fraction of a second.

First they had to defeat the Cylon fleet in the skies above New Scorpia. Then the faced a hostile civilian population that was willing to kill one and other for the one place for every ten citizens that was a place on a ship leaving the settlement.

Her reverie was broken by the warning sign of the DRADIS.

“DRADIS contact! Ten warships, CDBR they are launching raiders!”

For another insanely brief period of time, Admiral Lawson expected someone else to give the orders. She rocked back and forth on her legs in what seemed like a dramatic pause. “Launch all squadrons, execute the battle plan!”

The Executive Officer, Major Sam “Whiskey” Jones had been a raptor pilot until the rumor of the 27 year old had taken an attitude test and scored very high had him in the Admiral’s CIC. The story was false, though he had in fact tested well during his senior year of high school.

Barely on the ship six hours before the news broke of the Cylon invasion. He was supposed to be a CIC officer for a couple of weeks while he read the thousand page long operating manual for the Battlestar Mercury.

That plan ended ten minutes ago when the raptor carrying the new Commander of the Valkyrie class support battlestar, the Valiant had been injured in a raptor accident approximately 20 minutes ago.

The Admiral had slapped a small jewelry box in her XO’s hand and ordered him to the Valiant.

It was actually not clear to if he was in fact the XO. Nobody else was giving orders so he started barking them out.

“Have the three Atlas class break right and away from the battle zone,” he ordered. Have their vipers join the the CAG.”

“They are firing missile salvos, 150 inbound targets, CBDR,” warned a tactical officer.

<missile salvo video segment>

















Admiral Lawson barked out orders next, “Flak defense, full automatic, prepare offensive batteries. Signal the Saturn!”

“Vipers are engaging, the CIC air operations officer announced.

< vipers engaging video clip >

“Radiological alarm. One of our Valkyries is being attacked,” reported a tactical officer.

< nuke and missiles shot at he Valkyrie >

“Firing solution port point defense cannons,” someone shouted.

<Mercury class segment from below cannons start to fire.Vipers>

“Forward guns have a solution Admiral.”

With a feral expression on her face Lawson gave the order, “Weapons free salvo mode!” she growled.

<Mercuy Class guns begin to fire. Video>

“Toasters are pressuring ur two Valkyries!”

“Squadrons are under pressure, taking casualties,” reported the XO.

<Viper raider combat video>

The Commander Air Group (CAG) Samantha Rogers, call sign “Bunny” worked the control stick of her Mark 7 viper as she dodged fire from a pair of first war raiders.”

“Bunny! Playboy, break right, I’ll get those two off your tail.”

With no time to check, she complied on instinct. Suddenly a first war raider popped into her forward sites. Reacting quickly, she squeezed the trigger. The raider exploded into a shower of sparks.

“Bunny,you got two more on your tail!”

The CAG, who was proud of her situational awareness, was caught by surprise. She turned her head to the left as she yawed her mk.7 into a possible firing solution. She looked up hearing a metallic crunch as a diving raider clipped the top of her plane.

Her viper spun out of control, slamming into her wing mate. The young woman had a second to contemplate her life before it ended.

In CIC the news was like a gut punch. “Combat. Playboy. CAG is KIA. Vipers are taking casualties.”

< More viper footage>

In CIC the mood was muted. People spoke strongly as the furious fighter battle played out on speakers and ceiling mounted monitors.

“Combat. Playboy. We are winning. Barely.”

Admiral Lawson leaned forward, speaking in a low, urgent voice. “Target the lead Guardian with offensive ordinance.”

“4 missile salvos Admiral.” The chatter dipped as the ships reported their fire.

They saw a smaller enemy ship blow up on a monitor. Sam Jones spoke, “Admiral. Scratch one Nemesis.”

A voice cried out urgently. “Valkyries are in heavy fire. Admiral, they are in. trouble.”

A large explosion was shown on a monitor. It was hard to tell what kind of ship it was. “Admiral, we lost a Valkyrie”

<Valkyrie blows up video>

The forward monitors showed the furious fire being laid out as the fleet advanced toward the Cylons.

“Maintain course and firing rate,” Admiral Lawson ordered.

The next 30 seconds did not require orders. The entire ship rocked as another fireball erupted on a camera monitoring friendly forces.”

“Admiral Lawson, we lost a Janus.”

Sam Jones saw the missile launches were reloaded and gave a hand signal to fire. “Firing offensive ordinance,” he announced.

Lawson looked stricken as someone replayed the explosion of the Janus. Her shoulders dropped as she barely maintained a facade. These people were dying, every last one of them were under her command. “This is awful,” she whispered.

A small civilian news ship recorded the ferocious battle from far above. It was fierce and deadly.

<Long video clip from above>

As sudden the beginning of the battle, silence returned.

“Admiral Lawson,” the XO said softly. Its over, we won.”

“Who the frak are you?” Lawson, unable to remember this mans name.

“Major Sam Jones,” the slightly built man saluted. “Your new executive officer. At least I think so. Remember the accident report the Valiant?”

“What if I want the old XO back,” Lawson snarled. “Where the frak is my fleet report XO?’

“We lost two Valkyries and a Janus.” Jones reported. “Still waiting for the air wing tally. It was a high cost victory.”

“Ya think?” Lawson snapped at him, “Wait didn’t I send Peterson or whats its name to take the Valiant? A Valkyrie right? How many Valkyries did we jump with, three right?

“No Sir, two jumped with us, they were both destroyed.”

Admiral Lawson took a deep breath and sighed.

A young man came with a tablet computer in his hand. “Urgent situation at the New Scorpia space port. The law enforcement down there was just overrun.” he offered the device to Lawson.

She gestured to the XO. “The conn is yours, Major Jones order the air wings from the three Atlas class ships to transfer to Saturn and Mercury. We can probably get 2000 civies in each one of those relics.”

“There is a mob in control of the space port. There are 30,000 people wanting off this rock,” Jones reported.

“I feel like I haven’t slept in a week. Inform Commander Ramirez she is in charge for the next act in this tragedy we call the New Colonies.”

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