Chapter 19: “The Culling” Part 2

Richard Allen had been among the officers that had problems with Admiral Lawson’s strategic plan.

Before the sudden fall of the settlement, the colonial fleet had reached nearly 100 ships. Strategic meetings, many argued against defensive strategies. Yeah, it could not be ignored that the settlement came into danger during an offensive operation conceived by Admiral Lawson.

Many had argued, that offense was the only way to take out the Cylons and protect the people. The alternative had not been clear either. The enemies productive capacity enable to build hundreds of nuclear armed Base stars for the attacks on the original colonies.

Little was known of this industrial capacity. It was thought that the limits of the sidelines industrial economy we’re only by space and time and jump technology itself.

What was known is that if the Cylons needed something, they had the economic and military power to get it.

Still, Commander Allen knew that any future required civilians, and not the military alone. Lawson’s plan to obtain fuel had been successful beyond all prediction. The acquisition of transport capacity, though inadequate had been a miracle none the less.

The Delta emergency jump plan had been implemented with style and precision. This had enabled the civilian fleet to escape. The really dangerous and annoying aspect of this situation was the fact that in spite of massive efforts by a large and important team, the Cylons were able to track the fleet.

They had not only tracked the fleet, they had managed to set up an ambush in a system that had spacial issues that limited the supply of safe jump points.

To get to the safest jump point out of all of this electromagnetic soup, required a 35 minute flight using STL engines. The fuel burn was affordable, when this wagon train of space vessels lined up and took it at a leisurely pace.

After emergency jump Delta had been implemented, they were not expecting the NAV computer on one of the support ships to get hacked. The actual plan had been to NOT get hacked and to escape. There was no contingency plan.

So Vulture actual saw a fleet on DRADIS that was going to get to their civilian fleet before they could spool up and jump away. The main fleet was engaged in battle, so he reached out to his buddies and got task force Vulture organized to delay the Cylons.

Ten ships with good artillery support would have to stand in the middle of a river of Cylons and try and reverse the course of this river.

So knowing that they were outgunned badly, he organized and assigned this task force to delay the

Cylons,giving the civilian fleet time to escape again.

Vulture CIC: “Cylon fleet is breaking through.”

“This is Vulture actual. Forming a task force. On our lead.”

What he had neglected to do was obtain permission to do this. He could ask for forgiveness later. If he survived.

Vulture Actual: “Wow we got 9 other ships.” Richard Allen was shocked when the first 9 ships on his list reported in and fell into formation. He sent out orders for everyone to get in formation and launch the few viper squadrons he had available. For now, he held the vipers back for all the good that would do.

Vulture CIC: “Launch offensive salvo.” The sound of missile launches soon echoed inside the Vulture. She as an older model Valkyrie, not one of he cheap, slapped together models they churned out of the mobile ship yard.

Vulture CIC: “Missiles inbound.” Every person in every CIC in this motley fleet gripped a table or desk. These smaller ships were well known for the bounciness of the ride.

The first salvo hit a gunship. The lights in the CIC went dark and the deck shifted beneath their feet. They held on and stared into their scanners, looking for targets.

They heard the Valkyrie class formation leader on the wireless. The first target was coming. Three very antiquated, but very dangerous Revenant classs gunships were the first target. Vulture CIC: “3 gunships charging.”

Vulture Actual: “Concentrate all fire one gun ship at a time.” That should melt the target, six sets of guns on one.

Vulture CIC: “Nukes inbound.” It became obvious that a full ten ship battle fleet was bearing down on them. Normally a task force would be led by a heavy battlestar, a Mercury or Jupiter class. Commander Allen was leading this unauthorized task force in a support battlestar.

In large enough numbers, the Valkyrie class could be as effective as the Mercury class, but this required 3 ships. Allen had three of this class in task force vulture. The second stand in force consisted of first war refugees, the Artemis class and a single Minerva, with great guns and thin armor, not designed to go toe to toe with the heavy weight class the Cylons had brought with them.

Allen was wearing a wireless headset to make it easier to talk to his task force. All he needed to do was reach up and press a button near the boom microphone near his mouth. “This is Vulture actual. maximum electronic jamming, flak when needed, evasive course pattern Caprica.” This evasive pattern named after the planet called for a radical turn every 5-10 seconds.

It was known to be difficult on the stomach.

Vulture CIC: “60 small nukes cbdr.” The weapons the Cylons were using were called cluster nukes. A large warhead would split into a half dozen smaller ones. The design was supposed to defeat flak.

Modern Colonial ships had point defense canons along the edge of their flight pods. Right or left, the formed a wall of fire that could defeat inbound munitions in one direction.

The Cylons tried to hit Colonial ships from two sides so that if munitions on one side were defeated, the munitions would hit and destroy ships from the other.

To defeat this the Colonials paired up, one ship flakking right, the other left.

To overcome this, the Cylons had cluster nukes coming in large numbers from three directions.

The lights went dark as the Vulture was buffeted by missiles and nuclear detonations. In a few seconds it became obvious that this was a one way mission. Before the DRADIS blinked off Commander Richard Allen could see the Cylon fleet breaking up. Soon the main fleet would take over for them, making their sacrifice have value.

Vulture CIC: “Go full defense. Too many nukes.” It would not do any good.

On wireless: “My Gods!” Most of the ships in this ad hoc fleet, Task Force Vulture were swallowed up in a sea of fire.

Mercury CIC: “Task force Vulture is nearly wiped out!”

The first thought that came into Admiral Lawson’s mind was ‘What task force?’ As maligned as many military leaders was, Lawson was not clueless. She knew that support ships had plans to form ad hoc forces when necessary to protect civilians. She had actually hoped to plan well enough to avoid the need.

A three dimensional tactical display had a monitor reserved for it, easy for the XO and CO to see, next to the DRADIS. Each ship, military and civilian had an icon and a number displaying the number of minutes until the next FTL jump was plotted and ready. There were two dozen newly procured ships crammed with civilians, beyond capacity, showing 17-19 minutes until jump readiness.

Ten Cylon warships had jumped in five minutes ago, using STL to try and wade into this civilian convoy. The target was obvious, and a really bright person assigned CBDR times to the Cylon ships. These numbers in red, showed 12-14 minutes until “Task Force Vulture inserted itself and started pounding the Cylon base stars with heavy missiles.”

Several small, then large Cylon ships blinked off the map before their nukes erased

TF Vulture. Lawson remembered a name at this moment. Rick or Richard Allen. Vulture Actual was now about to or soon to be martyred.

She reached up and pressed a button on her wireless headset to go fleet wide with her next order.

The Admiral: “Athena and Saturn form up and plug the hole.”

Saturn CIC: “More Cylons jumping in 10 ships CBDR!”

In her viper, Captain Charlotte call sign “Queen” Gordon rallied her air wing. She was the Saturn’s flight leader. “All Saturn Squadrons form up on me, we will jump into action after the heavies (Mercury and their one Jupiter) knock down some of this in bound ordinance.

She also occupied one of the squadron leader spots. The other two squadrons, currently led by lieutenants fell into formation and checked in.

Saturn CIC: “Nukes and missiles inbound!” Their CAG checked in on the wireless, reminding Commander Ramirez and “Wild Bill”, the XO that they were ready to help. “Lots of inbound targets actual. We are ready to pounce.”

Saturn CIC: “New Cylon fleet is launching raiders and weapons!” TF-vulture had managed to take out the heart of the first Cylon fleet. Knowing they were stressing the Colonials, they ordered in a new fleet with similar weapons and air wings to jump in and exploit the breach.

Saturn CIC: “Weapons hit bow. Nukes inbound. CDBR!”

Everyone in the CIC of Saturn lost their balance as a missile salvo slammed into the bow of the battlestar. This was followed by long, deafening roar as the energy expended itself on the ships ample forward facing armor. The lighting wen dark and the force of impact shattered one of the sliding glass doors that limited access to CIC.

Commander Ramirez looked up at the damage control monitor, which had backup power and saw there was no internal damage. During their last quick stop at the mobile ship yard, this important armor had been reinforced. The damage control officer verified what she had concluded, shouting. “Armor took that salvo. No internal damage.”

Saturn CIC: “Salvo one downed by pcm. All ships prepare for second salvo.”

The nuclear weapons warnings began to flash in DRADIS warning of another wave of nukes heading for the fleet. Port flak batteries showed ready to fend this off. More pcm’s and heavy offensive missiles showed a status: “Reloading”

As viper squadrons assigned to inbound ordinance went about their task, raiders tried to attack them and were jumped by other viper squadrons. A real fur ball broke out, bullets and fighters breaking hard in every direction.

Large groups of fighters tried to ambush each other and outbound Colonial missiles started hitting the Cylon carriers. The CAG’s low, steely voice crackled on the wireless. “Squadrons reform to take down the next wave of nukes. This is Queen, get in position or you will be feeling my whip. Nobody that served under her command, doubted this threat.

Athena CIC: “Air wing is engaged. 200 warheads inbound!”

Saturn CIC: “Nukes Closing. Launch offensive weps!” The war plan such as it was involved making hard turns every 10 seconds or so. When offensive weapons were ready and the firing solution worked out, flak was dropped and heavy missiles were flung at the slower Cylon ships.

The deafening war of these salvos could be heard through out the battlestar. Seconds later the video monitors showed base stars, taking fire.

Detonation warnings chimed as some of the nukes evaded fire, homing in on their targets.

Saturn CIC: “Taking fire! 300 warheads inbound.”

Athena CIC: “Any vipers with bandwidth. Shoot down some nukes!”

Saturn CIC: “Detonation port pod!” The same instant, the noise drowned out all communication and the regular lighting went dark. So much energy slammed into the ship, circuits overloaded and exploded. The screams of wounded could be heard, once the roar had subsided. Another reason for taking the time and risk to do rapid repairs on external armor.

So many fighter pilots were chattering, claiming kills that nobody in CIC could discern the course if the air war. As if the sea had parted the CAG was heard. “We got this, press it home. No more nukes hit the “Sat” you got that.” The static made it sound as if she had growled. More than one subordinate had visions of cats teeth..

Athena CIC: “Firing offensive weps. All ships weapons free!”

“Fire in the port pod, its contained,” someone shouted on a wireless speaker.

Commander Ramirez acknowledged as “Wild Bill” ordered a turn followed by flak to swatat enemy ordinance. This move was often practiced in the upgraded VR suites that were standard equipment on the Mercury class.

Solaria CIC: “Flaking left. Watch our engagement zone!” The XO gave the order and the CAG confirmed so that the ship could quickly rotate engagement zones and not endanger their pilots. Once in a while, a nugget got clipped, but they were all assigned as wing watchers to experienced pilots so they avoided this type of death.

Another offensive salvo was announced, even as nukes homed in and seemed to try and evade the gunfire of viper pilots.

Solaria CIC: “2 NUKE DETONATIONS!” A Valkyrie was engulfed in fire as a small nuke hit it. “I don’t know how, but we survived that. Blackbird actual, fire missiles at that fraking base star already.”

Blackbird CIC: “Nuclear detonation! This is a miracle ship!”

Saturn CIC: “Missile strike port pod. armor held!” Again the regular CIC lighting went dark and the deck lurched below their feet. Anyone that had time to think about it, thanked the gods for the armor replacement crews.

Everyone felt the danger of this high intensity battle.

Athena CIC: “New missile salvo inbound!”

Athena CIC: “Taking damage. Bow batteries salvo mode!” Inside the once mutinous Solaria and the Athena, circuits exploded, sparks flew and people ducked. The moans of wounded echoed in both ships.

Commander Evans of the Athena was tasked with coordinating task force gun fire. This was the result of a semester in battlestar marksmanship, which he had taken between battlestar tours a decade ago. Once this was pointed out in his service record, he had hunted down the course book and memorized it.

The original course had been blotted out by time and a drinking binge.

A salvo of nukes went off very close to the biggest three ships in this heavy task force. Flak and viper fire had detonated these weapons at the very last moment.

Athena CIC: “Taking damage. Maintain firing rate!”

Saturn CIC: “Port side nuclear detonation!”

Ramirez: “Really? How did you figure that out?”

Athena CIC: “Small warheads just hit every ship in the task force!”

“Again,” Ramirez whispered, “lieutenant obvious.”

Athena CIC: “Cylons are backing off! Maybe.” Everyone in Athena were jarred by the impact of multiple weapons hammering the armor faces of the ship. Damage control displays did show some moderate internal damage. Firefighting crews were soon heard, coordinating on the wireless.

Athena CIC: “Take out the stragglers! The civilian fleet has cleared.”

Mercury CIC: “This is the admiral. Emergency jump. Teleconference all commanders. On he other side.”

Admiral Lawson: “Our strategy has failed. My strategy. We need a new one or we will die.”

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