Chapter 13

CIC: Battlestar Mercury

Eva Lawson looked around the combat information center look of disbelief on her face. This scenario was something that every officer trained for. Normally it was a mere theoretical exercise. It took place in a classroom with unrealistic rules. 

This was a classic situation from a textbook that no one believed could actually happen.

There was a lot of information that Major Lawson did not havee. Her hand raised to her chin and she thought and paced back-and-forth in the CIC. People are looking to her for strength and leadership. She knew how to lead pilots. 

This scenario is vastly different. The crew of battlestar number in the thousands even without her contingent of Marines. The first step was simple after coming to mind. She needed information. 

There were 20 people in this room whose job it was to give her information. Was she the commander of this Battlestar? Right now that was the case. It was likely that the admiral and colonel had died.

Though it was not a certainty, it was a fact of the moment.

“Situation report,” she ordered.

A bridge Lieutenant stepped forward and reported.

“The starboard pod is 90% depressurized. There are pilots trapped in vipers and raptors. 20 sections were vented into space. The ship took two nuclear strikes, one obviously on the starboard flight pod. The second strike was amidships. It was targeted to strike close to combat information Center as possible.”

“I know I am the CAG, but I need you to tell me how many pilots are trapped in the starboard pod.”

The young officer answered, “342, four full squadrons of vipers in the tubes ready for launch. 42 raptors. I don’t have a breakdown on the pilots were the type sir.”

“Do we need to rescue them?” Lawson asked.

“No sir,” the young officer answered. “A number of pilots were directly hit by debris from the strike. Radiation levels are minimal inside the pod. The pilots that survived have a 48 hour supply of oxygen in case there are shut down in a non-oxygen providing environment.”

“Red squadron and the CAP?”

Maria Ramirez spoke. “An exploit written into the CNP program was used to wirelessly access all the planes in the air at the time. They were shut down and the cylons destroyed them with no opposition.”

A wave of emotion crossed the face of major Lawson. “I remember the readiness report every plane had the program installed. It was a requirement for each planes airworthiness certificate. We need planes to get into the fight and save our homes and families. How long will it take to remove the program from the remaining planes?”

Maria Ramirez looked downcast. “I have 10 technicians it takes one hour per plane to remove the program. We have access to 230 planes. 23 hours.”

“The colonies will be destroyed by that time!” said Major Lawson and then paced back-and-forth in the CIC.

A middle-aged and slightly overweight captain from one of the port pod squadrons step forward and spoke. “Are pilots to stupid to remove the software?”

“What do you mean Captain,” Ramirez asked.

“Each of those planes has a living pilot and some of them have an electronic warfare specialist aboard. Take 15 minutes and teach the pilots and the deck gang how to remove the software.”

“I can script it. Captain you are right. We could have the air wing ready for flight in 90 minutes.”

“lieutenant,” Lawson ordered in a firm, confident tone. “You are in command of this project. Report to the flight-ready room and brief the pilots.”

“Yes sir,” the pilot and computer specialist said in unison.

“All right then I need more information. Plug us into the fleet network and get new combat status report. I want to know what every battlestar is doing what where and why.”

One of the screens mounted in the center of the contact information center lit up as one of the crew followed her orders. It was a status screen.

It showed a timeline starting an ago.

FTL flashes at Picon Fleet headquarters. 25 DRADIS contacts fighter size reported. Intercept pilots report bogeys do not have pilots.

Radiological alarm Scorpia shipyards. This was the next status six seconds later.

Nuclear flashes reported Caprica defense grid, Tauron defense grid. Caprica defense grid has failed.

Nuclear flashes at Fleet headquarters. 

Admiral Nagama orders all forces to defend weapons-free. Fleet headquarters has determined that this is a cylon decapitation strike. All colonial forces are ordered to immediate combat status. All Battlestar’s are to engage in defense of operations immediately.

Fleet information center reports enemy contact at all planetary defense stations in the colonies.

Nuclear strike reported Caprica city. Nuclear strike reported. 

Defense of systems are not operating. Computer control has been lost. Five battle stars that escaped the initial assault lost power while engaging the enemy.

Fleet status report: all primary colonial fleet locations suffered heavy nuclear strokes. 30 battle stars confirmed destroy an initial strike. Contact lost with 30 more Battlestar’s.

Battlestar Solaria confirmed destroyed. Battlestar Valkyrie confirmed destroyed. Battlestar Pacifica confirm destroyed. Battlestar Mars confirmed destroyed. Battlestar Galactica probable destroyed nuclear strike recorded. 

Battlestar Columbia reports complete power failure just prior to engaging enemy forces.

Aerilon reports multiple nuclear strikes. Defense systems disabled. All automation failed. Caprica city civil defense reports power loss and computer failure.

Battlestar Gemini reports entire air wing over 700 planes reports power failure during engagement with the enemy. Battlestar Gemini reports complete power failure. Battlestar Gemini destroyed. Confirmed by Colonial forces.

The president of the colonies has offered an unconditional surrender to the Cylons. Colonial forces are ordered to continue fighting until a confirmation is received.

First strike reports 30 battlestars destroyed.

Nuclear strikes reported on all 12 colonies.

Colonial military network breached. Network status: compromised.

Major Eva Lawson put a hand on her chin and stared at her feet for several seconds. “This cannot be happening. We were supposed to protect them.”

“Commander,” a young looking female NCO still up straight in front of the CAG. “We will continue to gather information from other sources. There are still a lot of podcasts going on in the colonies.”

“Operations,” Lawson asked. “How long until computer systems are ready to run combat operations?”

“Four hours”, a skinny lieutenant reported.  “longer than that to restore power and services to the starboard flight pod. Communications are quiet. The general feeling is at the pilots are all dead.”

“Wait a minute didn’t you say the pilots were in their birds?” Lawson inquired. “Oh Frack! We don’t have 300 launch tubes.”

“Yes sir and the birds that were not in the tubes were probably there with open cockpits with oxygen systems disengaged.”

“Yes we pilots like to have every last bit of oxygen saved for flight. We might rescue a few of them in the tubes.”

“We will make it a priority commander.”

“Why do you keep calling me commander?” Lawson looked annoyed. “Do you see commanders rank on my shoulders?”

“We have security footage sir. The Admiral and XO are dead Sir. Regulations are very specific. The minimum rank to command this ship is commander. At least on a temporary basis that is your rank.”

“In four hours the colonies will be a smoking hole. You’re calling me commander. I haven’t even been to Battlestar school. Does this create have control stick?”

“I don’t know what to say sir,” the skinny Lieutenant looked down at the floor.

“I’ll be in my office changing out of this flight suit,” the new Battlestar commander informed. “Send the new XO to me in 15 minutes. Have someone get my duffel bag out of the pilots quarters and bring it up to the commanders office.”

“You need to pick from among the surviving squadron commanders,” the skinny lieutenant informed her.

“There are no other captain’s aboard?” Commander Lawson asked. “We’re already pretty short of pilots. Oh and make getting rescue crews to the starboard pod a priority. Some pilots may have had time to close the cockpits and survive the decompression.“

“No sir. No other captains.. Yes I will order rescue crews concentrate on rescuing pilots.”

“As soon as there are two raptors that can fly, begin recon. Look for other colonial forces that are separated from the commands and can join us. We don’t want the same wants to come back with them so set up a rendezvous point. I need some support ships if Iwe’re gonna survive very long out here.”

“Send up the computer geek after she’s done removing the cylon virus from all of our planes. Also find me come captain’s rank pips.”

Commander Lawson walked out of the CIC shaking her head. She had been dealt an excrement sandwich. She was done watching the computerized scroll bar that represented the end of the colonies.

As she walked through the hallway to what was going to become her Quarters, Commander Lawson walked by a speaker broadcasting the rescue efforts. She stopped and listened for a moment and intent look on her face. There was a lot of shouting and banging. It was some shouted cursewords and then some excitement. “We have the admiral in the XO!”

For a moment Eva Lawson thought she was off the hook. She could go back to being a CAG again. 

There was hope that her life would not be burdened by command, something she had not really prepared for.

Another female voice came on the radio broadcast. “Should we send medical help?”

“No, they’re gone they’re gone.”

With that Commander Eva Lawson realize that she would die fighting a futile war against the cylons that had already been lost.