Day 710 of the second Cylon war.
“Admiral’s log. Today the Mercury is going to test an FTL upgrade based on technology we took from the Cylons. Our IT people have looked over the technology to insure there are no hardware or software hacks have been built in. We should be able to increase the red line for FTL jumps by a factor of 4 or 5 times.”
“It would seem that while we were cowering in fear of technology for decades, the Cylons were working on improving the technology tools. The problem we have been having with this tech is the NAV computer was stressed by the complexity of the calculations. We were finally forced to install more computer hardware to supplement the NAV computers and give them the computational power needed to resolve more complicated jump calculations. I am simply an old viper jock, not a high tech maven. That is my take away from hours o mind numbing meetings with our technology guru, HG, honorary sign Head Geek!”
“HG and his technology gurus believe they have solved all of the problems and we are ready for a jump test. The Mercury is to conduct the first jump test alone. There is going to be a severe shortage of computer power if we are going to try and implement this solution in the entire fleet. Some of the older classes of ships lack the electrical power to run the additional compute equipment. The FTL systems will require those ships to fly blind and rely on the more modern Valkyries and Mercury class ships to do the calculations for multiple ships.”
“Of course, doing the calculations needed to keep ships from colliding at the destination strains the compute power limitations further. We need to jump and do the calculations as quickly as ever, to avoid having the Cylons jump in on us and turn it into a massacre while we calculate the jump coordinates.”
Admiral Eva Lawson, stepped into CIC and saw her crew working hard. They here checking calculations and making sure every system was working at peak efficiency. They knew this jump was important. If this upgrade succeeded, it would make it that much easier to run away from the Cylons.
The executive officer, call sign ”Whiskey” walked three steps to where Lawson liked to stand. “I am suspicious of this toaster tech,” he spoke softly. “I am wondering if they could have built in a way to track us through FTL jumps.”
“I know,” Lawson answered softly. “If the Cylons are able to boost communications using FTL technology, they might have built something in that could report our location in the pre-jump steps, or a location ping right after the jump. However, we are logging all of the communications traffic and recording it for signals analysis. What more can we do?”
“Problem there is we need a super computer to crunch all that data.” The Executive officer nodded, however he still looked nervous. He had developed a tick, pulling at a mustache that he had long shaved off.
“It will take the two backup ships an hour to do the catch up jumps.”
“Why don’t we wait an hour then?” Lawson uncharacteristically showed doubts in a tactical plan.
“Too much risk to the battlestars, remember admiral?”
“Oh yes. Are we ready to jump?” Admiral Lawson inquired.
“This is the XO, begin jump countdown.” Normally he said prep for preparation. In this case he changed the word to countdown as most of the steps were done in advance for this test jump.
“NAV computers are spooled up,” said the officer who normally ran the hardware to calculate a safe jump. HG was hovering near the computer console.
“Jump key is inserted and is in the jump position,” another crew member reported.
The CAG was in CIC, staffing the air boss workstation. Fred “Playboy” Wilson had a viper waiting for him in the launch tube. He was not going to miss the fight if it broke out.
“Wheelchair and Kitty are going to launch on the other side with a raptor and an assault raptor. They will put up a Combat Air Patrol. The rest of the air wing is in the tubes ready for a launch.”
“The board is green, ready to jump,” the officers finger hovered over the jump button. The officer made eye contact with the Admiral and the XO.
Admiral Lawson nodded approval, making sure Major Jones saw her silent approval.
“This is the XO, execute recon jump.”
* * *
Admiral, William Adama stood in the theater sized combat information center of the Galactica. Though New Caprica was under occupation, they determined that supplies will be needed in order to conduct a rescue mission, which they’ve been practicing since the day that New Caprica had fallen.
Their ranks have been thinned by the policy that allowed more than half the air wings to go down to the new Caprica and settle. They needed to top off the tylium tanks of the two battle stars in order to have fuel for after the rescue mission whenever that happened.
After the discovery of new Caprica, and the election of Gaius Baltar as president, all practical tasks of maintaining force readiness were dropped. As the time between the last sighting of a Cylon’s and present grew longer preparation simply we stopped being done. Admiral William Adama knew this was on him. As head of the military, he was responsible for preparation. He had been soft. He had allowed emotion to influence him into decisions that harmed military readiness. Because of these decisions, he knew people would die.
The men and women of the two warships were out of practice after a year of simply orbiting New Caprica. They were professionals, and they would quickly get back into the swing of things with a little more practice.
Reconnaissance had shown that only two base stars were patrolling the space around New Caprica. The admiral was wondering where the overwhelming force of the Cylons was, if not guarding that planet. So the mission had two purposes. The first was to obtain fuel, perhaps even fill up the gun magazines. The second, was to gather intelligence on where the frak the Cylons were.
Tension between the admiral and his son, the commander of the pegasus, Commander, Lee Adama was high. He questioned the tactical plan at meetings. His father had noted the fuel shortage, and the lack of workers to manufacture ammunition.
Finally, after a tense shouting match in the ready room of the Pegasus, the Admiral told his son to shut up and do the job.
Admiral Adama gave the signal to patch his telephone headset into the PA on both ships. After a brief pause, he clicked the talk button.
“This is the admiral. I know this mission comes too soon. I know we could be more ready. I know we could’ve practiced more. I’m asking you to go above and beyond what you normally do and perform above the conditions in which we allowed ourselves to become vulnerable. Our planes and our guns are the tools by which we will prepare to rescue our brothers and sisters on New Caprica.”
“We need fuel and ammunition in order to rescue the settlement. This is the first and vital step toward
our goal, which is that nobody gets left behind. Serving with each and everyone of you has been the honor of my career. Good hunting. Execute combat jump!”
Galactica and Pegasus jump away from New Caprica.
* * *
“What the FRAK, DRADIS, we jumped in right on top of two large contacts. Less than 300 meters. Has to be base stars.”
NPC: “Are those toasters?”
NPC:”Looks like a Jupiter mark 2 and another Mercury class ship.”
Sam “Whiskey” Jones reacted immediately. “Emergency Launch all vipers. All birds in the air immediately.” He then looked up at a couple of cameras and saw, the Solaria and either Saturn or Athena.
“Those look like Colonials. Comms send a challenge and recognition codes. Ramirez or Evans needs to explain why the frak they are here.”
NPC:“They are turning guns on us!”
Major Jones took the handset and set the PA. “Weapons hold. Air wing do not fire. I repeat do not fire….”
“DRADIS, I have 6 large contacts and a dozen smaller ones. Launching raiders.”
Major Jones quickly amended his orders. “All players toasters in bound. Assume the Colonial ships are friendly.”
“This is Playboy,” the CAG chimed in. “We jumped into the largest gas station in the galaxy. I have 5 tylium refineries. I can see raiders launching. We are engaging the toasters.” In a streak of light the CAG was at the door sprinting for his viper. Another officer stepped up and put on a headset to direct air operations.
“Galactica actual on comms asking to speak to Mercury actual. They are asking us to direct long range missile fire at the base ship. I have hostile challenge and authentication results. The transponders indicate the Galactica and the Pegasus. But sir they just turned off their transponders.”
Admiral Lawson already had a headset on, gave a hand signal to release the long range missiles and was nodding affirmative, and quietly answering the queries from Galactica actual, who she assumed was Admiral William Adama.
“Wheelchair! Kitty! “Get in formation and start shooting down those inbound missiles.” Jones ordered.
NPC: “Gun crew prepare for long range fire, salvo mode.”
Fleet wireless: “Auto loaders enabled on all guns.”
Fleet wireless:”Pegasus port pod PPCs on target, weapons, free, weapons free take the gunship.”
Fleet wireless:”Scratch, one antique, Cylon, gun ship!”
“Galactica. This is XO Mercury. We’re taking heavy starboard fire. We’re turning port to show them another armor face. We will then switch our flak to port.”
“Radiological alarm. Nuke inbound. This is Galactica we’re turning with you preparing to switch flack. All players standby for flak switch. Crash turn to port.”
“This is Kat CAG Galactica, moving out of your field of fire. Galactica, Mercury your field of fire is clear.”
“This is CIC Mercury. More nuclear launches have been detected. More nukes inbound! Vipers see if you can shoot them down! Nuclear detonation!”
“This is Wheelchair we need to go after the launch platforms. They are hitting Mercury too hard!”
“Roger that boss, we’re going base ship hunting!”
Cockpit of a Viper: “This is Mercury CIC. We just shot down another nuke. Do you think you pilots can take care of some of this for us?”
“Mercury. This is Pegasus, CIC. You have a nuke inbound targeting your port flight pod. Repeat, nuke inbound port side take corrective action!”
Several pilots tried desperately to shoot down the nuke after the flak field of the Pegasus failed to shoot it down.
The communications channels were flooded with last second advice on how to stop the weapon from hitting the Mercury flight pod. None of it worked. The missile track and it impacted directly on the flight pod causing a humongous flash.
The roar of metal on armor, as it was being burned up by a nuclear explosion echoed throughout the ship. Nobody on the Battlestar Mercury could hear a thing for several seconds. The lights went out due to the power surge, but Uninterruptible power sources took over and systems came back online in a few seconds. In the combat information center of the Mercury several people were injured. New people on standby stepped forward and took over the stations of those who were getting rapid medical help.
Admiral Eva Lawson had a cut on her forehead. As she dragged herself to the her feet, using the CIC table, she heard the crunch of glass under her boots. Once again, the glass windows of the Battlestar combat information center had shattered. Once again, she had the thought that she needed to ask how many printed pieces of glass with the battle stars name on was in inventory.
The adrenaline was wore off after a battle, usually made her forget this question. She wondered as she got her wits about her and wiped the blood off her forehead, if she would this time remember to ask the question. Perhaps they were already out of the glass and they would just have to replace it with plain glass or just leave the doors open and there would be a security issue. She made eye contact with Major Jones.
He smiled at her and then resumed barking orders into the microphone. “Damage control party to the port flight pod!”
She wondered if he had ever had the same question about the glass, which, inevitably seem to end up, ground up under their boots after a heavy battle.
Mercury CIC speakers: “Light missile hit the starboard flight pod. Armor. Bravo. Repeat armor, bravo.”
“This is XO Mercury. Light up the damaged refineries. We are sending a long range raptor reconnaissance patrol back to our fleet. Galactica, Pegasus, tank up, take what you need. Don’t take out any refineries unless you find they are damaged. We have a large fleet. It’s very hungry.”
Mercury CIC speakers:”Galactica acknowledging.”
Mercury CIC speakers: “Pegasus acknowledging.”
Mercury CIC speakers: “Mercury Battlestar. Galactica actual requests one on one off books meeting with mercury actual. Suggest location in a raptor.”
Mercury CIC: “This is combat information Center, Battlestar Mercury. Request acknowledged. We have a maintenance bay in our starboard flight pod that is perfectly private for such a meeting. This message is acknowledgment from Mercury actual.”
Video segment #9
Admiral Eva Lawson, sat in the pilot seat of the battered raptor. Most of the instruments were turned off. There was some temporary lighting, hung from the ceiling of this bird, which had not flown in several months. The shielding that could protect against a nuclear flash was enough to keep whatever conversation Admiral Adama wanted to have inside the spacecraft.
The ‘old man’ as he was known had over forty years of service in the Colonial fleet. After he stepped into the raptor, a knuckle dragger, who was watched by two marines closed and sealed the door.
For her part, Admiral Lawson had vague memories of a night of drunken humiliation by her, back when she was a newly minted Major, violating the rules because he was a senior battlestar commander at the time. He had a lot more gray hairs than that night, years ago, however he was still ruggedly handsome. She prayed he was enough of a gentleman, not to mention this misdeed on her part.
There had been a lot of alcohol, and quite frankly she had taken advantage. Before the fall, if a report had been written, she might have been charged with something and drummed out of the military. Vaguely she remembered feeling sorry for him, as he had been recently divorced, and had lost a son, training to be a viper pilot. Though not necessarily in that order.
She did not offer a salute, nor did he expect one. This meeting was clandestine, black ops, and would never be spoken of. He offered his hand and she shook it, feeling his powerful grip. More fuzzy memories clouded her concentration.
“Thanks for meeting with me,” he let go of her hand. “As I understand that, we are both fleet admirals, because we are the only Admirals in the Colonial fleet. I think I obtained the rank first, but I am not here to pull rank.”
“You are welcome admiral. How can I be of service.”
“We are in a bad situation. A year ago, we elected Doctor Gais Baltar as president of the colonies. The election was of questionable legality after I became aware of your fleet and civilian population, which could have turned the outcome.”
“The Cylons actually kept us up to date with events,” Lawson replied. “You have seniority, and I would be happy to put my fleet under your authority and go back flying vipers. I sense however that you have other plans.”
“I do,” Adama said. “I got confirmation of the rumors you when we both jumped into this battle, and I saw you 500 meters off our starboard flight pod. I have had some time to think about it and I think it would be best if we did not combine forces.”
“For the entire time we have been at New Caprica, I wondered why the Cylons did not find us. It is a difficult but achievable jump. Now I realize that you have been tying down a lot of Cylon resources. They only have two base stars guarding New Caprica, and they seem to be very careful about using fuel and ammunition.”
“We have made it our business, since we evacuated our colonial experiment to wage asymmetric war against the Cylons. Our mission has been to make it so expensive to follow us, that their machine brains conclude it is not worth the cost of the resources.”
“You should be congratulated, Admiral Lawson you have done an excellent job. We have been raiding outlying depots for supplies. During the past few weeks, we found several outposts abandoned or lacking fuel. As a matter of fact, you have done so well that we had to attack this group of refineries in order to get fuel for ourselves and what remains of the our civilian fleet.”
“Thank you Admiral Adama.”
“We have 40,000 survivors under Cylon occupation at New Caprica. The chances are that we are going to destroyed, when we try to rescue them. I also think it would be foolish, if not suicidal to put you under the authority of President Gais Baltar.”
“We can help. We have two other heavy battlestars. We can rescue those survivors and then part ways.”
Adama looked uncomfortable in his seat. “Putting all our eggs in one basket is a mistake. We were headed to the thirteenth colony, called earth. You should lead your fleet somewhere else. The further away you draw their forces, the better.”
“The thirteenth colony story is a pile of smelly horse manure, from what I understand,” Lawson replied. “How do you plan to deal with the fact that our crews and pilots just fought a battle together?”
“I think it best, if we take some evidence of the heavy battle damage you received and report to our teams that you stayed behind to repair your damage. Due to reductions in force while we thought we had escaped from they Cylons our ranks are thin. Those that remain know how to keep their mouths shut.”
“I understand your logic Admiral Adama. We have more civilians, industry and I think we should help you liberate the people of New Caprica.”
Adama leaned back in his seat and smiled. “Am I going to have to make it an order?”
Lawson smiled. “No. We should make our exit convincing. I can note a few places where we can fill up your magazines. Your plan is both heroic, and logical at the same time. I will share intelligence with you so you can write up a strike plan. We need a couple of days to replace our damaged armor with replacement packs, and repair some of the structural damage to the flight pods. One more battle and you can return to New Caprica with a cover story and full magazines.”
“As soon as we have topped of our tanks, we will jump away to a rally point and prepare to make the ammunition raid.” Adama concluded. “The rumor mill on a warship is going to make this hard to sell.”
“I will shut down all our comms gear except for a direct, encrypted connection via fleet wireless. Battle damage.”
“Thank you Admiral Lawson. Good hunting.”
Chapter 20 Chapter Video.