Day 867 of the second Cylon War
Commander Maria Ramirez had been fighting the war against the bureaucracy for weeks now. The battlestar Saturn had been badly damaged and spent 70 days in the fleets only shipyard. Every fighter squadron in the active fleet had tried to raid her squadrons.
The priority repair on the flight pods got the squadrons operating as shipyard defense, while the armor was stripped on the ship to make way for structural repairs. The sanitary situation on the flight pods degraded quickly as several repair shops had been converted into living quarters for the pilots and deck gangs.
VR training was off line so pilot training was ramped up to a very high operational tempo. Mercury had come in some days later having survived a collision with a modern base star. Engineering had been hit by a nuke and been burned, end to end. The entire air wing of the Mercury had been assigned to the Saturn flight pods. Training was a daly ritual.
The objective was to have every pilot be as sharp as a razor. Other squadrons were rotated through the Saturn to take advantage of the training. A hand made sign was made at the entrance of the bunks and showers. “Welcome to the battle pod Saturn.”
The only thing missing was a bar.
The rest of the crews of the two giant battlestars were housed in the repair bays of the shipyard on cots. Everyone not needed for the repairs of the two ships volunteered on the assembly line that was producing spare parts.
Every component that could possibly be needed for a battlestar had to be fabricated. There were metal shops and electronic shops. Up until this point parts manufacture had been manual. One of the civilian ships had been converted to produce machine tools.
HG, Head Geek from the Mercury, came around with a couple of engineers with some plans taken off the Colonial civilian network. At that point, they re-arranged the machine floor and created an assembly line.
The crews had to innovate where parts did not exist. The room took a ominous turn next. Someone had figured out how to take care of assembly by putting together Cylon spare parts. Complex manufacture was being done by programmable centurion arms from the first war.
It was creepy, but HG built a faraday case around the entire manufacturing floor to keep signals from leaking out. The crews of the two battlestars were issued space suits and put to work speeding up the repairs.
The repair process has been delayed by critical supply chain shortages. The repair estimate had been 60 days. By the time day 80 came around, crews had been re-assigned to mining teams. What at the beginning of this process had been an open space, was now crowded with machinery.
The metal foundry was moved from a converted Atlas to the factory floor. Metal ore went in one end, and parts came out of the other end.
The space dock had been extended for additional capacity. Between war casualties and the doubling of the shipyards capacity had created tens of thousands of bunk spaces and a labor shortage.
This was the problem that Eva Lawson had to deal with. As ships were destroyed and people did not return from task force missions, there was no longer an incentive to volunteer on military ships just to have a place to sleep.
The largest supply of human labor known to Admiral Lawson was the hundred thousand or so colonists left behind when the fleet had left the “New Colonies.”
Tapping that labor pool required a fleet and 250 jumps using Colonial FTL technology. Half of the war fleet had been upgraded to use Cylon FTL technology. With enough fuel and a proper fleet, the trip could be made in 19 jumps.
Of course there was no guarantee that anyone had been left alive in the New Colonies. To confirm this fact, a pair of Valkyries had been tasked to make the trip. To free up the ship space, 20,000 people were going to be offered job opportunities in the space dock.
The operational tempo of the fleet had been drastically reduced to allow for repairs and to cut losses. Supply raids had been made to keep the Cylons off balance.
The intelligence division had picked up an massive weapons depot that was one jump away from the fleet HQ. There appeared to be a pair Nemesis gunships guarding the depot. For 72 hours surveillance was maintained on the site. There was no traffic in and out of the depot. Readings had been taken. There was evidence of radiological leakage. The facility was stuffed to the rafters with nuclear weapons.
“This looks suspicious,” Commander Ramirez said, putting the paper file on her lap.
“I think so too. We are sending you out with a ten ship fleet. Well trained, ready for action.”
“Admiral Lawson,” Ramirez said. “This sounds like a great way to get the Mercury a unit citation. Why are we getting this choice assignment.”
“We are having some issues with the jump system,” Lawson answered. “Small NAV computer problem. The test jump almost ran us into a fracking planet. It was a cluster frack, believe me.”
“All right,” Ramirez said. “I will follow the orders. I bet you the security around that place will be pumped up or its empty.”
“They could make the scans look like that with radioactive waste. We are going to need to get the marines inside the place to make it work. The facility could safely store hundreds of nuclear weapons and or thousands of shells, which we really need Commander Ramirez.”
“What is the deal with that fabrication facility in the shipyard? Are there really converted centurion arms being used to manufacture spare parts?”
“This war is driving us to strange places, commander. Good hunting out there.”
* * *
Cory Brooks looked at the report from the Peoples Council’s Labor Committee. Though news had been passed to her by Admiral Lawson as to the collaboration and end of President Baltar’s administration, the Council, fearful of another election had chosen not to re-organize. Instead of electing a new president who would appoint a Labor cabinet secretary, the duties fell to the legislative committee chair.
The report was anything but optimistic. The labor shortages, had grown worse. The military was offering incentives to keep the fleet crewed. The fleets vast requisition for ships and materials had created competing demand for factory and foundry workers. Miners were at a particular premium at the moment.
The work was dangerous and uncomfortable, and the hours were often worse than shipbuilding. At the worst possible time a labor union had popped up. They demanded better living and working conditions, and were allowed to organize.
Though many of the military would have desired the protection of union membership, the military chain of command would not permit it. Refusal of orders was treason, punishable by the death penalty.
Union protections might give the civilian work force a better way of attracting workers. Every industry was vital to survival so strikes were strongly discouraged. Tensions between her government and the workers was high. Overcrowding had been relieved by the expansion of the shipyards. The addition of 20,000 bunks to the 4 sections of the shipyard had not made filling those bunks any easier.
Admiral Lawson had informed Council Leader Brooks that a pair of Valkyrie support battlestars were being dispatched with upgraded FTL technology to see if there were any survivors in the old settlement. If there were a significant number of survivors and we can find a way to transport them to our fleet, perhaps this will help with our labor shortage.
* * *
Evan Smith was a descendant of Caprican royalty. His accent was patrician and his training was classic. He had been a professor of military history before the war. A longtime technologist he was very familiar with the ships systems up the fleets upgraded Valkyrie class.
He had commanded the the Battlestar Blackbird for three months, participating in a few minor skirmishes. Feedback from his crew had been mixed. In a fleet still attacked by new variants of the sunspot virus, he seemed stand offish. He avoided the normal high fives, hugging and back slapping for stiff upper lip and a salute.
His XO was a people person, injured in battle, half his age of 59 years to balance his style.
Marcia Caplan walked with a cane, due to her injury, slightly overweight since giving up flying was the perfect compliment to Commander Smiths style, preferred to keep the rank of Captain, than the rank of major to which most executive officers were entitled. “Ship shows ready for jump as does the Trident. Two of the scout raptors, half of the scouting force have returned with data on our target jump point. Six hours ago, everything was fine.”
“I tried to get experienced raptor crews, due to the strain of this missions scouting requirements,” noted Commander Smith.
“Of equal importance, I recruited the best available chiefs for the deck gang for both ships to keep those raptors in tip top shape,” Caplan replied. “Birds are in the tube, treating this as a combat jump.”
“Jump now XO,” he ordered.