Book 3 Logistics -Chapter 6: “Athena’s Run Part 2 :Ghost freighters”

Day 618 of the second Cylon war.

“We have reconstructed about a dozen jumps from the fragments of the raptors data core,” HG reported using a pointer to show the jumps.

Admiral Lawson nodded that she understood what she had seen so far. HG had been very excited when he had returned from a short visit to the Battlestar Athena which was off on diversion operations, making what was meant to look like a thrust toward Cylon infrastructure. They had encountered some wreckage of a raptor from the Battlestar Pegasus.

“This raptor survived the destruction of the Colonial fleet and a number of operations conducted by the Pegasus.” HG showed the star chart of the various stops in the war that Admiral Cain had fought prior to the battle of the resurrection ship, which had resulted in her death.

“This is kind of interesting,” HG said, “we have several battles here. This raptor participated in mining operations that were conducted to mine the ores and metals required to build vipers. We are sending out some mining expeditions because we are not very far from where these were conducted. Its about 15 plotted jumps.”

“Can you get to the point HG?” Lawson asked. She looked sleep deprived. Her hair was frazzled as she refused to see a stylist for regular One on one meetings and shifts in the CIC.

“This raptor went back to Caprica on a SAR mission that recovered a number of resistance fighters, which we missed. It was destroyed on a recon mission about day 275 of this war. We have verified data from the Cylons that on day 270 of the war, while conducting the first jump in that mission, A Galactica based raptor discovered what was eventually named New Caprica.”

“I remember this,” Lawson said. “The data on the location was false, it was supposed to draw us into an ambush. The recon we sent saw 12 front line Cylon base stars. I have a ton of paperwork to do HG. Get to the point.”

“I’ve got enough data on Cylon fleet movements in these sectors of space to predict the possible location of New Caprica. There is a lot of extrapolation in the figures, but if we come across more wreckage, Cylon or Colonial, we could hit pay dirt and get their location. The Pegasus is a Mercury Class battlestar. We could rescue their fleet.”

Admiral Lawson stroked a bunch of hair an absent minded look on her face. “I get it, we could unify the fleet, make up for losing the Acropolis, and save another bit of humanity. The smart thing to do would be to go in the opposite direction and increase the odds of survival for our civilization.”

“That is harsh,” HG replied. “Aren’t we obligated to try and save humans that we know about?”

“The Cylons are counting on that. They want to take us off our purpose and provoke a final apocalyptic battle that will end humanity. Some of the data you have recovered is fake and designed to draw us in. “

HG started to object. Admiral Lawson raised her hand, “I’m not unsympathetic. Continue too try and hack data from the toasters as to the whereabouts of New Caprica. I will get a directive out to every pilot in the fleet to gather data from wreckage and other sources. There will be a caveat. That is we will stick to our purpose here. We are trying to make it costly for the Cylons to pursue us. We are going after communications and industrial infrastructure so that we can get away clean and rebuild our civilization. The odds are against us, but if we do that, it might help Adama and the folks on New Caprica.”

She flipped through some of her daily briefing intelligence on a tablet. “This report of possible use of slave labor. How reliable is it.”

HG leaned forward as she pushed the tablet computer forward. “Its two hours old, and its pretty thin. Garbled voice on wireless there is like a 15% chance one of the voices matches some archive footage in v-net back on Caprica.”

“I would like it checked out,” Lawson leaned back in her high backed chair, twirling the bit of hair that seemed intent on becoming a bang. “Can you use the Cylon data network to get it to Athena?”

“Yes Sir,” he answered.

“Get the the proper authentication into the message. Then we change our codes again,” Lawson ordered. She did not get the IT rules she was following, but changing the encryption codes regularly seemed to agree with what she had learned at the war college.

Battlestar Athena CIC:

“Commander, flash traffic. New Recon. Colonial freighters possible human slave labor We have 3 hour old raptor recon.”

Commander Evans: “Use the intel, we were ready for a combat jump anyway. Immediate launch post jump.”

CIC: “All birds are launched. Marines are ready to storm the freighters.”

DRADIS: “No longer seeing the freighters.”

” Ten seconds ago , you had solid ratings on at least one colonial freighter . now you’re telling me you’ve got nothing ? ” major Evans asked incredulous, look on her face.

The operator of the DRADIS, looked no older than a teenager. I did, however, know his job pretty well and to his ground. “The freighters were there when we jumped. I can play the recording if you’d like. Now there’s a lot of jamming, and we get no positive reading on those returns.”

Commander Evans had about 10 seconds to decide on what to do in the situation. The signals intelligence seems to be valid. If it was a ruse to set up an ambush, they were not seeing a great deal of organization on the ambush forces.

He had to decide whether to recalled the vipers and jump away or continuously attack. The target was fat and juicy, and it didn’t seem ready for them. He made the decision to continue forward with the mission. In the back of his mind, he was ready to abort and run away if large forces jumped in as reinforcements.

Evans: “Might as well clean out the Cylons. Weapons free. Follow the battle plan.”

CIC: “CAG reports Cylons on the run.” Tactical: “Inbound raiders firing missiles. We are flakking right to intercept. Air wing is not in the new engagement zone.”

Commander Evans thought to him self, if this was an ambush, it wasn’t going very well for the enemy.

CIC: “Good firing solution on a first war carrier, missiles and guns.” Commander Evans: “Guns salvo mode. All missile batteries. Fire!”

CAG: “Engaging a Gorgon. Its museum day out here!”

XO: “Threat board is clear, the freighters were probably decoys. Recovering birds, preparing for a jump to meet the resupply ship. Good work people.”

After the jump Commander Evans called a meeting of all departments and all commanders in his task force by video conference.

“I want every bit of data recorded in the beginning of that battle recorded, analyzed, extrapolated. I want to complete analysis to be done here. We will hold the supply fleet up a day from return. Once we complete our analysis, we’re going to put all the data in the supply, fleet computers, and send it back to command.”

Major Evans raised her hand. When she was recognized, she spoke. “My feeling here is, this is a long play by the enemy. I think they are giving us little snippets of information in hopes of taking us off our game. I wanna work on facts, but until I see absolute proof that those writers were present, I want to assume that they are signals intelligence, decoys.”

“Major Evans, I am in complete agreement with you. I want all ships to work on their data and see if the facts line up. We want to find out whether those ships existed or not. It’s not gonna be easy and it’s going to increase at work loads, but I think it’s important to know what the enemy is trying to do.”

One of the Valkyrie commanders, raised a hand with the video, conferencing application. “Go ahead, Chuck,” Commander Evans ordered.

Charles, “Chuck” Williams, commander of the Battlestar Bear, spoke in a soft voice. “As you know, I led three missions to rescue people from the colonies. We spent a considerable time at Tauron. We took testimony and video evidence. Every report we got during every mission indicated that the grunt work was not done by slave labor, it was done by Cylon centurions.”

“That being said,” commander, Evans concluded. “Do your due diligence. We’re holding the supply ship as long as it takes to get an answer.”

“Onto other business,” Major Evans continued. “The supply ship is light on armor replacement packages. We’re going to have to reduce our requisition by 20% and repair the most critical damage only. I’ve sent the fleet my demands to increase the amount of armor packages but we have 14 task forces engaging the Cylons. We may need to tighten our belts. The ammunition shipment was also 25% light I have sent our concerns directly to the commander of the fleet, Admiral, Lawson.”

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