Chapter 11: The Decision

Aboard Colonial Liner (Same class as Colonial 1).

Maria Ramirez took the stand at her hearing after swearing an oath on a book of prophecy

which she had not read since her teenage years. Admiral Lawson , who was still officially on leave with the sun spot virus was remotely watching the hearing, but was not saying anything up to this point.

Linda Garret, a recently examined lawyer, was dressed in a suit jacket and stylish beige blouse was on the thin side, average height with dark brown hair, tied in a tight bun was direct and to the point. As she scanned the room, she saw that the three judges, all retired ex military were fully engaged.

“Tell us what happened to the station Commander Ramirez?”

Looking uncomfortable, Ramirez was in a dress grey uniform, which had been altered to fit her body, which had been through a stress related weight loss for many months now.

“We took a position above the station to try and intimidate the hostage takers. There was an Atlas below and our air wing was engaged. I was tired of negotiations, short of marines and decided I was going to try a bluff after we took care of the Cylons. I made it clear that I was prepared to use force. Two raptors of marines was all I could spare. My communications were an attempt to make them believe we would fire on the station.”

Her advocate, who had memorized the logs and after action report encouraged her. “What happened next?”

“One of the Cylon ships, a Nemesis class, set off a radiation alarm. The only sure way to kill it was with a nuclear weapon. Our air wing was busy with the other remaining Cylon. We rushed the approval process of the nukes, inserted our keys and fired. It was high pressure, I realized after that the firing solution was not confirmed. The tactical computer predicted the Cylons would nuke the station within 15 seconds. We fired. As soon as we did, the Cylon broke to our left. The weapons, which were tracking to go safely through the stations outer ring followed the Cylon, which dragged the weapons into the station, detonated and destroyed the station.”

“How many people died?” the advocate asked.

“Seven hundred and seventy one,” Ramirez voice nearly cracked when she answered.

“So it was an accident?” Garret asked.

“From our standpoint, yes. Signals intelligence shows that the Cylon deliberately provoked us to fire, intending to drag the weapons off course. We recovered their computer core, and they were immediately aware when the weapons were hot. It was a tragic mistake. I was in command, and take responsibility.”

Garret continued her line of questioning. “As a a battlestar commander, what steps dd you take to avoid future tragedies of this kind?”

“I ordered training on the proper use of nuclear weapons. I ordered the IT staff to create an instructional video for the general crew, and one aimed at the command staff. I have revieewed the video and have recorded an introduction.”

Garret absently ran a hand through her hair. “Can we hear that recording here commander?”

Ramirez took a reflective countenance, then answered, “no I rejected the take. I can read that statement to the court.”

Garret made eye contact with the three judges and with Colonel Roscoe who nodded his agreement.

Ramirez looked into the camera and began to speak. “On the date of the new Scorpia space station was destroyed, I was in command. The after action report shows that the enemy forces specifically manipulated us in an attempt to get us to use nuclear weapons was successful and destroy the station.”

“How do I known proper procedure of the weapons never would’ve been loaded that close to the civilian space station. I take full responsibility for my lack of knowledge of correct, nuclear weapons procedure the 771 lives with that were lost on my responsibility.”

“I don’t know what would’ve happened. Had I not made this mistake, however, I do know that responsibility of command must not be passed on. My orders that day gave me discretion. I was ordered to solve a hostage crisis, and I failed. The purpose of this recording of this video is to teach proper nuclear weapons procedure to all staff that may be called upon to order their use.”

“We are all responsible to follow regulations, and the law, whether or not, we have knowledge of them in advance. I was obviously not trained with the job I have most people know for my callsign I am an, IT professional..”

“That is no excuse to not know the rules. I’m recording this at hearing which may cost me my command. I hate the Cylons for starting this war, but I’m not going to put responsibility on them. I ordered the use of the weapons and that was inappropriate, and in violation of regulations. I deserve to be punished. I accept the decision of this court.”

“No, I did not ask for this job. I find it to be precious. Every single soul under my command on the ship, and the other military ships in this fleet is a high value to me. It’s difficult to put into words. Every day I order people admissions that will cause them to die. Their souls are lost from the universe. Every day I pray for the strength and blessing to minimize this loss and to find us a new home that is safe from these machines that we created from 50 years ago.”

Commander Ramirez’s advocate ended her direct examination with a solemn expression. “The defense rests. Colonel Roscoe stood up,, grimacing slightly from back pain. “Commander, you take full responsibility for the incident? You were not orders destroy the station?”

“No, sir, I was ordered to solve the problem, and I failed. I am quite angry with Admiral Lawson, for not being more specific. She was ill, and I was the commander on scene. I take responsibility and accept the judgment of this court. Responsibility starts and stops with me.”

Roscoe spoke carefully with only a slight drawl. “Do you know the punishment for failure to follow correct weapons procedure involving nuclear weapons?”

Ramirez answered directly in a strong voice. “Yes I do. Officer is to be removed from command immediately, and is liable for sentencing of the seven years in prison and a dishonorable discharge from the colonial fleet.”

Roscoe kept his serious expression. “The prosecution rests. We waive closing, and we asked the court to give its decision.”

There was a hush in murmuring in the room as the door opened and Admiral Eva Lawson entered the hearing room. She coughed, and then cleared her throat and spoke. “If it pleases the court, I have a question for the witness,” Lawson walk to the front of the hearing room, and faced Maria Ramirez in her seat.”

The silver haired, former colonial officer, who added this hearing, nodded his assent.

“Commander Ramirez, what do you think what happened to your command if you were removed and imprisoned?”

“Admiral, I’m sure the command will continue to perform very well. You have trained officers and thought to give us the resources. We need to save and protect the colonial people.”

Admiral Lawson had a point to make and she did not waste any time getting to it. “Is it not possible without your experience as commander that lives could be lost both aboard the Saturn and in the task force assigned to your command?”

“Yes sir,” she answered. “That does not absolve me from responsibility.”

“The court is asked to direct witness to answer the question directly and not elaborate.Is it not equally possible that civilian lives could be lost as well as a result of your removal from command and imprisonment.” The judges nodded agreement.

“Yes Sir that is possible.”

“Unacceptable,” Lawson cleared her throat. “As commander of the fleet, am I not responsible for the lack of training concerning the use of nuclear weapons.”

“Yes Sir,” Ramirez answered. “However you did order a review of weapons procedure two months ago.”

“Commander Ramirez, did you pass the order down the chain command?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Did you review the procedures?”

“No Sir.”

Admiral Lawson stood in front of her second in command and put her hand on her hips. “What were you doing at the time?”

“Lots of things. I believe I was ordered to plan a mission to obtain more fuel for fleet operations.”

“All right,” Admiral Lawson said. “We have had enough. We have work to do. I ask the court to give its decision”

“The court finds the Admiral guilty with special circumstances, of failing to insure that her order to review proper nuclear weapons procedure was implemented. Issuing the order is not enough. There must be compliance requirements. We find Commander Ramirez responsible for failing to follow her orders in a timely fashion. She is directly responsible for the tragedy that destroyed the New Scorpia station. However the court would like to point out the special circumstances.”

“The persons, now deceased that took hostages and demanded a better place in line for evacuation is responsible for violation of Colonial laws against kidnapping and terrorism.”

“What is your sentence Colonel,” Lawson asked, Sbe stood up straight, her uniform blues looking very crisp.

“As per the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Admiral Lawson, Commander Ramirez, you are sentenced to seven years in prison, a reduction in rank, and are fined six months pay. The prison sentence is suspended until such time as the second war with the Cylons is over.”

“The CINC, dismisses the court with her thanks. The rank reduction will be suspended until after the war, I have signed orders invoking a national security emergency under title 19 of the UCMJ. Commander Ramirez, you need to get back to your command. I will need my order signed by the highest civilian official available.”

An an hour later, Admiral Lawson walked into the office of the leader of the People’s Council. The administrative assistant looked surprised when the fleet commander stopped at her desk.

“Do you have an appointment?”

“Nope,” Lawson looked longingly at the coffee maker.

The assistant, a young looking man, looked as if physical attributes were the primary criteria for the job. “Have a seat. May I get you coffee?” He gestured towards the seat.

“Yes,” Lawson said. “Make it sweet and non-dairy creamer.” She then sat down in the chair and waited. Twenty minutes passed before she was ushered into the Peoples Council Executive office suite.

The Admiral dropped a folder on Cory Brooks desk. It appeared to be an expensive antique. “I need those signed. My current rank is not sufficient to command the fleet.”

“What if I decide to let that order go into effect and let Ramirez take command of the fleet?”

“That is your right Council Leader. I know I am no prize. I did attend the academy and I went to the war college. That experience has proven to be useful I think. Has it not?”

“I think of you as a pilot that can’t keep her pants zipped. You are a slut, who has shown poor judgment and that has damaged our security situation. If I knew where William Adama was, I would have you locked up and I would lose the key. That being said, you were right. We should have built a civilian fleet and run away from the Cylons.” She picked up the folder, opened it and signed it.

“So Admiral, what is our sitrep?”

“We have taken pretty heavy combat losses covering the evacuation from the so called new settlement. We are as usual under strength in our air wings. The loss of the Acropolis has forced us to move training operations to the remaining three Mercury class ships. Combat operations have limited training time.”

Cory Brooks looked exhausted, but as usual, she was smartly dressed. There were already three ships in the fleet configured to manufacture clothing. These were owned by three different companies. Their captains were already complaining that overcrowding was damaging manufacturing operations. Two ships had been assigned the task of manufacturing ordinance for the fleet and the air wings.

The civilian fleet had 50% more people signed within our beds. People were literally using beds on shifts. Having a job in the civilian fleet, give you priority with regards to sleeping arrangement.

Sanitation systems were overloaded and breaking down. Maintenance screws were working 16 hour shifts and still falling further behind.

Brooks folded her hands into a tent on her desk, and spoke slowly. “Do you know what kind of numbers we have in the fleet?”

Admiral Lawson, sighed and ran a hand through her hair. She coughed, still feeling the effects of the sun spot virus. “We’re conducting a survey of the military ships. We should have numbers to you in a day or so. We have overcrowded our military ships. We have 1000 people on the Mercury, sharing racks on shifts.”

“I violated your orders on children and gave priority to able bodied persons for assignments to the military ships. We are training people and we expect to have a four shift 6 hour rotation on many jobs. Our training classes for new viper pilots are full in the VR suites, We have plenty of candidates, right now if you are a viper pilot you get a locker and a bed for your use without having to share.”

“Our sanitation systems are under strain. The Mercury class can be operated with several hundred people due to the automation designed in. We are still having some issues with firewalls letting the Cylons into our network.”

“How many did we leave behind?”

“Estimate right now is between 150,000 and 200,000. It was complete chaos when we shut down evacuation operations. We have 250 ships divided into three groups each with one Mercury class battlestar. We are working on a way to get the mobile ship yard up and running all the time. We are hoping we can jump it like we did with Dadelus during the first Cylon war.”

Cory Brooks squirmed uncomfortably in her chair. “I want you to know, I left some agents behind to organize a resistance. I wasn’t sure if you would have considered that interference in military affairs.”

Lawson leaned back in her seat and sipped her coffee. “Better to ask forgiveness than permission?

Brooks laughed. “Technically I am civilian leadership, unless President Baltar turns up. I don’t need to ask permission. But I understand what you mean. How are we on military supplies?”

Lawson opened a battered black leather portfolio, from which she pulled a tablet computer. After being forced to give a finger print three time, she began to read. “At current high consumption rates we have 19 days if viper ammunition, 17 days of battlestar artillery. 11 days of light gun ammunition, 16 days of medium. Point defense and other anti fighter munitions nine days. I expect if we actually escape from the Cylons that consumption will decrease.”

“Give me your requirements Admiral Lawson and I will place an order out for bid to the three private factory ships offering to produce the ammunition. Please include generous amounts of missiles and other gear as well.”

Lawson took a sip of her coffee, realizing as annoying as Cory Brooks was, she could be worked with. “Next item, water. The civilian fleets weekly request exceeds our ability to produce clean water by 280%. We tanked up on water and believe we do have a 35 day supply. If you can cut use by say 50% we will try and get the supplies we need to build a water reclamation ship.” She handed over a flash drive and Brooks put it in her computer.

Brooks silently scanned the document. “Most of these metals are the same things you asked for the three big battlestars to produce new vipers and raptors.”

Lawson nodded agreement. “Well right now and for at least three months we have more Vipers than pilots. Each of those old warships had full squadrons of mark two vipers. Not always in the best condition, but out of the box not vulnerable to CNP and a ready supply of spare parts for both types of vipers in service.”

Brooks leaned forward and whispered. “I thought long and hard on this one. We have done background checks on a few candidates for you extra activity.”

Lawson’s face went blank. “What?”

“One of my medical advisers recommended it. We want you and your senior officers to be at peak efficiency without giving the opportunity for blackmail.” She pushed a folder across the desk.

Lawson took it, opened it and her eyes went as wide as saucers.

“These look like male fashion models. What do I need with them? Do they want to join the military?”

Brooks blushed. “If you want them to. This will avoid a repeat of the Brother Cavil fiasco.”

Lawson’s senses spiked and she stiffened for a moment. “These models are being pimped by the civilian government for me to….”

“Frak if you wish. I got a full copy of your military record.”

“To frak? You vetted people for me to frak?”

“After I had a team of doctors read your military record,” Brooks cheeks were beet red, but she kept speaking. “They recommended that since its kind of your hobby its best we make sure they are vetted.”

“Oh my Gods,” Lawson paused. “I don’t know if I should hug you or warn you off on trying to blackmail me. For the short term, maybe longer, my time in Cylon captivity cured me of that, um hobby. It made me vulnerable.”

“I’ve learned something. About establishing the settlement you were right, and I was wrong. We should’ve run away from the Cylons. You are my admiral. I’m not gonna try and blackmail you. I’m not gonna try and replace you. You’ve proven yourself a ferocious opponent of our enemies and protector of our citizens. I want you to know I have your back. Keep the file if you change your mind, let me know”

Lawson leaned back in her seat. “Now the bad news. We have two ships that can process tylium ore. We have six jumps of liquid tylium to jump this fleet. We estimate that it will take several hundred jumps to escape from the Cylons.Their FTL equipment is much more advanced than ours. We are holding current fuel reserves for emergency jumps to escape the Cylons. My first priority is going to have to obtain large quantities of tylium ore and liquid fuel to maintain military and civilian operations.”

Brooks answered like a professional. “Do you need any civilian assistance?”

“We have all we need for a raid on Cylon fuel supplies. I want to send some mining ships with warship escort to scout out ore supplies. Not just tylium. Everything we need to sustain this fleet. If we are lucky, we will not only find fuel and supplies, we might actually find a place to run away from the Cylons.”

“Excellent Admiral. Let me know what you need. Is it possible to provide assistance to the guerrilla forces we have left behind?”

“Send me your list. We will try and squeeze out what we can. I think once we get manufacturing going that instead of building three or four valkyries a month that we produce an Atlas and say 2 Valkyries a month. We can squeeze two or three thousand civilians in an empty Atlas shell. We missed something. What is the food supply looking like?”

“Not as bad as you would think Admiral Lawson. We just brought in a huge wheat harvest on New Aquaria.”

The two women worked together until late in the afternoon. The situation was dire, but it was not hopeless either.

<<<<<<<< Chapter 10 Chapter 12 >>>>>>>>>>>