Commander Maria Ramirez had never been a patient woman. This applied to her pre-war career as an IT specialist on the Battlestar Mercury. It applied even more today, with the burden of a command and so many lives depending on her.
The space port was still being held by hostage takers. They insisted that they and their families receive guaranteed space on a ship leaving the New Colonies, The situation had improved in recent hours. Ten ships, rehabilitated by Operation Bus Heist had arrived two hours ago. With effort, they could get 20,000 of the 90,000 residents of these three settlements.
In order to make that evacuation practical under constant Cylon attacks, required that this space station be put into operation. The time had long since passed in which the survivors could waste time with negotiations.
Including the military, there were an estimated 496,000 residents of the “New Settlement”, the name given for the 14 outposts that had been established during the past nearly two years. The estimate of the number of places available in an evacuation on civilian ships was approximately 45,000.
When Admiral Lawson had proposed that the only way to survive in the same galaxy as the Cylons was to run away as far and as fast had possible, the Peoples Council had laughed it off. The demand for workers at the mobile shipyard exceeded the supply of able bodied persons. There were no resources to divert from the military build program to a civilian ship building program. There was nobody to build the ships.
Cory Brooks the leader of the Peoples Council had suggested that Admiral Lawson might find more left over first war ships.
Contractors paid to dismantle these ships had instead taken them into inventory and started selling off valuable parts. A few years after the war ended, the price for spare parts had plumeted in the midst of an economic recession. The scrap yards, bulging with military equipment were closed and forgotten by most people.
Operation Bus Heist had been ordered by Admiral Lawson two weeks before the Cylons had showed up and forced the issue. Now everyone on every planet was looking for a space for themselves. Chaos and fear ruled the day.
An NCO knocked lightly and stepped into the Commander’s Quarters. Ramirez put the call with the space station on hold.
It was Admiral Lawson. The call was audio only.
“How are you doing Commander?” This question was followed by a coughing fit. The virus was really making things hard for the Admiral.
“We’ve taken heavy losses. It is going to take six weeks to put the Athena’s port flight pod back together, assuming we get a chance to put together a new shipyard.”
“Is the space port back in our hands Commander?”
Ramirez looked stressed and struggled to keep her temper. “I really should thank you for making me a Battlestar Commander. I feel under qualified for the job. These clowns are holding 800 hostages, including a couple of my raptor pilots. We are not able to control the access to the ground based transpiration facilities. My raptor pilots are refusing to land on New Scorpia because people are rushing their raptors and try and force their way inside. The situation is totally out of control.”
“Take care of it,” Admiral Lawson ordered. Her voice sounded weak. There was more coughing and vomiting.
“I would like a suggestion Admiral.”
“Set a deadline and make them pay the price for ignoring your order. Make an example out of someone.”
“I may need to use force on the hostage takers.”
“That might be what you need to do to make an impression on them.” Admiral Lawson coughed again, this was the only sound heard for the next 30 seconds.
“I was hoping to get them to understand the logic here,” Ramirez began. “If this situation continues for another couple of days, all 90,000 on our 3 worlds will be dead.”
“They aren’t going to listen to logic Commander,” Lawson commented. “Its the end of the world for the second time in two years.”
“What am I supposed to do?” Commander Ramirez was frustrated.
“Make a threat, and carry it out,” Lawson advised. “Make sure it makes the news and that anyone standing in the way of this evacuation will meet the same end. You have authorization from CINC, Commander in Chief to take any action you deem necessary to save lives. I will back you up.”
“Yes Sir.” Ramirez was angry. She was being forced to make a decision that should really come from the office of a civilian government.
With a loud click, she brought up the audio. “Look,” she said. “You have 1 hour to surrender the station and start processing refugees. If you don’t do that, I’m sending in the Colonial Marines.”
The man at the other end of the call, started to object. “This is outrageous. We demand….”
Ramirez hit another control and muted him. “One hour or the marines go in!” She slammed the connection off.
There was of course one problem with the threat she had just made. She didn’t have any available marines to storm the station.
The alert klaxon went off, drowning out any othe sounds. She picked up a telephone handset and contacted CIC. “SITREP” she demanded.
“Four toasters just jumped in are approaching the station.”
“Set condition 1. Launch the entire air wing. Action stations. Put two nuclear weapons in the tubes, and make sure the Cylons and the hostage takers, pick up the radiation signature.”
She was hoping that without nearby resurrection ships, the Cylons would back off for fear of permanent death. She hoped the hostage takers would interpret the nuclear weapons and believe she was crazy enough to nuke them.
A few minutes later in CIC, she had the lead hostage taker on audio. “As you see, we are taking up position above your station. The Cylons are below it. Ind”eed you to surrender the station to the marine squadron I just sent in a pair of raptors. They will be there in two minutes. You will turn over command of the station to my marines. If you fail to do that, this battle is going to take place with you in the middle of it.”
The man started to sputter, trying to make some points for the news media he had tapped into this conversation.
Combat: “4 contacts fairly small. 2 Cerastes, 2 Nemesis.”
XO: “You can call them small after they have hacked fire control.
Vipers: “Engage the enemy.”
Atlas Commander: “Whoa! They are inside our network!”
Combat: “They are concentrating on the Atlas.”
Hostage takers: “Meet our demands we will kill hostages. Starting with your pilots.”
Saturn Actual: “Send in the marines. Every one we can spare.”
Commander Ramirez to the hostage takers: “We need to start the evacuation.
We are above you and the Cylons are below you. I am going to send a couple squads
of marines. You have one choice. Give us control or die.”
Atlas: “Our firewalls are down. We are getting hacked big time!”
Combat: “Nemesis down. That should help them with their network.”
Pilot: “This is Toddler, my air wing is getting raked over by these gunships.”
XO: “Saturn Actual is ordering weapons free. Engage the enemy.”
CAG: “We have been at it for 36 hours straight. We need some rack time.”
Pilots: “Scratch another toaster.”
Atlas co: “Taking heavy fire! We’re in trouble.”
Ramirez: “Take us up above the station.”
Combat: Frak! “Toasters have a nuke.”
Co: “Load two nukes in the tubes. XO release of nuclear weapons is authorized. Can we hit them without hitting the station?”
“Firing keys are in.”
Combat:Tactical computer estimates Cylons will fire in 15 seconds.”
“Fire!” Commander orders.
Combat: “Firing solution uncertain.”
Ramirez: “Fire the frakin nuke before its too late.”
Combat: “We hit the frakin station.”
“Oh my Gods!”
“Station is breaking up.”
Chapter 10 full video