Day 747 of the second Cylon war.
Admiral Eva Lawson was driven by her objective to contribute to the upcoming assault to liberate New Caprica. She was constantly planning, demanding resources to train their forces,and repair the fleet. Right now the Mercury was undergoing a frantic one week overhaul in the mobile shipyard.
The shipyard was desperately short of workers and had been expanded to nearly the size of the Scorpia shipyards. Rebuilt as the colonies were being abandoned in the second exodus, what had started out as a broken salvage yard, was once again building ships. So acute was the shortage of living space in the fleet, the prospect of a bunk that was not shared with two or three other people did attract nearly 6500 workers.
The problem of course was that the demands of the war fleet had production schedules that would have required 12,000 workers. So in fact the price of your own bunk, and not being in the military getting shot up by war, were days that averaged 12 hours of work, and often hit the legal limit of 16 hours.
This was a far more civilized form of existence than the 4000 miners. They jumped from planet to planet with overworked mining ships. Stripped of adequate escort by the logistics war meant often beating a hasty retreat from harsh mining sites after being discovered by a Cylon patrol.
Lawson sat at her desk in her office, going over her requests for more time and material and workers to further scale up the offensive. She had assumed that Peoples Council Leader Cory Brooks could not get aboard Mercury for another meeting because the flight pods were blocked by scaffolding for this hasty repair.
Mercury had been hit by so many nukes, that parts of the frame needed to be exposed and rebuilt, particularly the flight pods.
Cory Brooks, was dressed in a modest designer peach colored blouse and light brown skirt, that fit her thin frame perfectly. Major Sam Jones had escorted her from the docking port that she had disembarked from a raptor at to the door, just outside of Lawson’s office.
Jones was smart enough not to ask, but he wondered how the woman had managed to obtain closets full of expensive, designer clothing. With every bit of labor being put into the offensive against the Cylons, he hardly believed that there was a clandestine fashion industry being run by Capricans in their spare time.
Jones buzzed the door.
Lawson’s voice crackled through the battered speaker. “Who is it? I don’t have any meetings.”
“Peoples Council Leader Cory Brooks to see the Admiral.”
“How the frak!” Lawson spat before remembering to take her finger off the microphone.
“Open it now!” Brooks ordered.
“I take orders from the Admiral,” Jones protested.
Realizing the door was unlocked, Brooks pressed the button and the door opened and she strode inside.
Lawson, frustrated at not having evaded the meeting, did not stand up for the civilian governments top executive. At least the highest official of the government not trapped on New Caprica. The Admiral knew and respected the limits of military authority as annoying as Brooks was on a day to day basis.
The fact was, Cory Brooks saved her a lot of tedious meetings concerning civilian affairs. This was much better than a military dictatorship. All you had to do was scrounge up the food, fuel and other particulars and it was the PC Exec as she was known in military short hand (MilSpeak) and Lawson was saved the trouble of such excitement of labor negotiations.
“Have a seat,” Lawson gestured. “Can I have my people, which are really your people, get you some coffee or some food?”
Brooks ignored the pleasantries and waited for Lawson to stop staring at her laptop before speaking. “I have come to talk to you about last weeks supply and production request.”
“Then you’ll love this weeks request Madame Council Leader Brooks,” The admiral closed her laptop cover and made eye contact. “I was just going to send you the email.”
“You are consuming ammunition at three times the rate we can produce it. Last weeks fuel consumption report was a ten percent draw down on reserves. Don’t you think we might want to slow down for a while? We are burning out people and supplies at a unsustainable rate.”
“I shared the intelligence with you about Adama and New Caprica,” Lawson answered in an expressionless voice. “We are going to keep up the pressure on the Cylons until signal intelligence or our Cylon network hack confirm either the escape from New Caprica or the destruction of Adama’s fleet. You did receive the report of the 5 tylium refineries we seized and the ammunition haul seven days ago?”
“Of course I did. I understand Admiral Adama would not let you help directly. I think his intent was to improve the overall survival chances for humanity. We don’t know if and when the attack is going to happen.”
“Our agreement was that I make military decisions,” Lawson said. “I’m sending out task force hammer today, hoping to threaten Cylon supply lines. How long will it take you to start producing 8 nukes a week?”
“You are sending out that fleet with 40 nukes,” Brooks said. “That leaves us with less than a dozen in stock, a few of them date back to the first Cylon war. We are hoping to maintain production at 3 nukes a week, if we can mine adequate supplies of uranium and avoid a strike at the enrichment plant.”
“I need production to be ramped up the 40 a month.” Lawson’s expression left no doubt that she was not joking.
“Do I have to order you to scale back?” Brooks leaned forward, wondering if a fist fight would break out.
“As I understand it, Gaius Baltar is President of the Colonies and Commander In Chief of the military. You have no authority to give orders. You will need to have an election and get elected before we do anything other than mutually agree.” Admiral Lawson looked bored. “I’d be happy to facilitate an election. You aren’t so arrogant as to think you will win are you?”
Brooks banged a hand on the desk, tipping over a Viper Mark VII model. “I could resign and then you will have to deal with thousands of details. You really have time for Milo Renson, head of the shipbuilders union?”
Lawson gave a large sigh, shoulders slumping. “No, all he did last time we met was stare at my chest.”
Brooks let out a chuckle, a mutual smile breaking the tension. “What are you going to do when you run out of nukes?”
Lawson deadpanned. “Send out my fleet with torpedoes.”
“Yes,” Lawson answered.
“You are using Cylon FTL now, firing their ammunition except for the monster stuff the three battlestars use. You are burning Cylon fuel. Are you really so tired and burned out that you did not think of perhaps seizing Cylon nukes?”
Lawson sighed. “Commander Ramirez made the same suggestion. Most of their nukes are smart and networked. We took a pallet during the last raid with Galactica and Pegasus. The supply freighter had to dump the cargo because a small fleet of Cylon Nemesis class warships kept tracking them down.”
“Okay,” Brooks said. “I have an idea. That specially shielded cargo ship might be the answer. We have some communications gear we can use to jam the warheads network signals. I will have my tech people work with your Head Geek and we will get it ready. How many planned strikes are you planning with task force hammer? Is their a time table?”
“All of that is at Commander Evan’s discretion. He has been given a broad objective and advised to move toward it with a maximum of violence.” Admiral Lawson answered.
* * *
Battlestar Athena: Day 751 of the second Cylon war.
“Commanders Log. We are in final jump preparation for the first raid in a series ordered by Admiral Lawson. Since meeting with some other unknown Colonial forces, the admiral has been extremely pushy. She wants a lot of violence and she wants it now. Commander Ramirez is in sick bay with the sunspot virus. I fear that successfully executing my orders will draw us a great deal of Cylon attention. Since I have no intel on the mysterious fleet, only rumors, I can only assume that drawing Cylon forces from elsewhere is the point of our orders.”
“My implementation of my orders is an objective, two plotted jumps away. Admiral Lawson will hopefully be pleased with my plan. The plan is 5 to 10 attacks in a straight line, headed toward what we believe was once the Cylon home world. Too bad we only have the fuel and munitions to make it a fraction of that distance. Hopefully it will help with the Admiral and her bigger picture.”
Commander Steven Evans stopped the recording software on his laptop, then closed the computer and prepared to make his way from his office to CIC.
* * *
As he walked into CIC, Evans saw the lights went red and heard the alert klaxon. That noise had drilled into his soul. “SITREP.” the commander ordered.
“Jump key is in and the clock is running,” reported newly assigned Lieutenant. “Offensive weapons are loaded in all ships. All warships report vipers in the tubes ready for a combat jump. Cylon scout ship jumped in and has tried to target us with long range missiles.”
“Keep it steady. Continue the count.,” Ordered Evans.
“Board is still green on all task force ships. Comms are five by five.” reported a young female ensign from the communications section of the cramped CIC.
“All ships report ready to jump,” the same ensign reported less than a minute later.
“Jump Complete,” the FTL operator announced.
“Ten contacts, on the edge of our firing range.” the DRADIS operator reported.
Jumping in that close was very difficult if not impossible to plan precisely. It was also quite dangerous. As a jump is pushed towards the traditional Colonial hardware redline, error comes into the calculation. This error could lead to jumping directly into another fleet, even a collision. Launching vipers and assault raptors would have mere seconds to start engaging targets. Nukes planned for the assault on the next jump point would have to be used immediately.
“They’re launching raiders,” the Air boss reported.
“This is the task force commander. Launch all birds,” Evans ordered.
“Five large base ship sized contacts,” DRADIS reported. “Several smaller ships. All launching raiders.”
“Inbound missiles, radiological alarm!” reported the officer near DRADIS, a young lieutenant, staring up at the sensor monitor.
The ear splitting sound of missiles slamming into the ship, briefly made verbal communications impossible and shook the deck beneath their feet. It was a light hit, not accompanied by a power surge or explosions. On the speakers Engineering reported. “Light hit STL engine pod, barely scraped the paint.”
Commander Evans watched the battle with a handset in his hand. Since his real XO was back in fleet medical, the position had not been filled. “This is the task force commander, all weapons free. Fire ordinance according to strike plan.”
A pilots voice crackled on the speakers in CIC. “Assault raptor squadron alpha, launching missiles.”
The battle developed and climaxed quickly. The only way to follow it was listening to the frenzied communications on the Athena CIC speakers.
“Releasing nuclear weapons!”
“Multiple hits. Splash damage. The small task for ships just melting.”
There was so much communications that individual voices could not be distinguished.
With a brutal finality, the slaughter ended very quickly. The Cylons had been outgunned and were melted less than two minutes after the jump, combat launch and weapons release. A year or so earlier people would’ve been giving high-fives and celebrating the slaughter of the enemy.
Today, they just thanked the gods they were not the ones dying.
Commander Evans got on the fleet wide wireless with his order. “This is Athena Actual. Recall all birds. Stop offensive action. Weapons hold. Weapons hold.” With a sigh he gave the handset over to the lieutenant who was trying to fill in for his wife, the XO.
There was very little chatter in the air wing. In the business like way they organized a landing without the stress of a combat landing.
There were still some talk like that on the wireless, but it was much more subdued after this obvious one-sided slaughter. The enemy might even consider it to be a massacre.
* * *
The held the second jump, originally planned for ten minutes after the jump in. The plan if they encountered Cylon forces, considered very unlikely was to recover all birds and take 30 minutes to re-fuel and re-arm the air wing.
The climax of the battle, a frenzy of nuclear launches had only lasted less than two minutes. Everyone was shaken by the intensity of the slaughter. At the after action video conference, a few items required a discussion.
The Saturn CAG, call sign “Queen” reported that the force recon, sent to notify their supply ships was under way. A freighter and a Celestra class supply ships had jumped to a safe location. Since nuclear weapons had been used, the fleets battlestars needed a resupply.
“Signals intelligence,” commander Evans began, “We scattered this location and found it to be empty an hour before we jumped. Yeah, we jumped in the middle of a cylon staging ground. I need to know why arc reconnaissance isn’t accurate.”
“Yes, sir, I have no explanation this time.” Answered the task force, intelligence officer.
“Further I saw cylon activity and our original jump off point. That was also supposed to be secret. I feel somewhat tracked.” Commander Evans stated with a dour expression on his face. “I don’t like being tracked.”
The intelligence chief of the task force spoke again. He was a middle-aged man, approximately 50 years old, rapidly going bald. “We are collecting a lot of signals intelligence. Unfortunately, due to the labor shortage, we do not have time to analyze that. When we take a break after this next jump and prepare for the next raid, I’ll put my staff in overtime. If we’re being tracked by signals intelligence, we will find a way to detect it, and evade it.”
“What kind of shit so your people working right now?” Evans asked
“Twelve hours,” replied the stressed out man.
“That is quite long enough,” Evans concluded. “See if we can get the computers to do more this work for us.”
HG’s assistant, a lieutenant came on the conference. She made efforts to conceal her appearance, however anyone on New Caprica would have recognized her as Cylon model #3. “The Cylons are making attempts at every battle site to hack our net work. The more computer equipment we put online, the higher, the risk that they succeed.”
“Understood lieutenant,” Commander Evans said. “Use your best judgement. We will have a longer after action meeting after we jump to our actual objective, a scouted Cylon staging ground. Urgent issues only, the jump clock reads 17 minutes.”
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