Chapter 23: From CIC

Lawson’s eyes bugged out for a brief moment. “Another three hundred civilians?” Ramirez nodded in the affirmative.

“We have no place to put them,” the commander noted. “Our marine quarters are full.”

“One hundred twenty percent,” the XO replied.

“We’ll deal with it after the strike,” Commander Lawson said. “Make sure we cull these civilians for pilots. We have three hundred vipers in the starboard pod and nobody to fly them.”

“We are doing well, recruiting for any job that gets civilians out of those quarters. We should be able to begin new viper fabrication once we find some ore.”

“Civilian fleet?”

“Eight FTL capable ships,”

The timer on the wall chimed. “Start the strike. Spool up FTL. Vipers launch after the combat jump.”

The weapons officer spoke up. “We have triple A weapons on full automatic ready for jump.”

“The board is green.”

“Jump the ship. Launch all vipers on the other side,” Lawson ordered. Her eyes wandered over to the damage control status board. They had a lot of FTL jumps planned and the FTL had been glitchy during simulations.

The DRADIS stablized after the jump and the targets were where they were supposed to be. Little green dots representing vipersappeared on the screen as the depleted air wing launched and followed the plan.

There were a lot of status reports as the vipers lauched a volley of fire cutting into the raider dots. The raptor force moved in on their target which several seconds later flickered and disappeared from the screen.

Ramirez looked at her notes and spoke softly as she was not a pilot. “The vipers should start veering off now, clearing a path for our guns.”

“Main engines ready for operations,” reported an NCO from the engineering console.

“Start the burn,” Lawson ordered.

There was a short shudder as the engine kicked in.

The sound of the weapons fire soon rumbled through the ship as a firing engagement zone was set up.

“Turn the nose starboard and bring the main guns to bear on the inbound cylon raiders,” Commander Lawson ordered.

“Aye, engines are responding.”

Thirty seconds passed. “Guns have a target.”

“Recover the air wing,” Lawson ordered. “Fire the main guns. Spool up FTL as per the plan.”

“Aye sir,” came three voices in unison.

Another two minutes passed as Eva Lawson snapped her fingers and tried not to start pacing around the CIC.

“Air wing is aboard,” reported the flight operations officer.

“Target two jump,” Lawson commanded.

Ramirez picked up a phone and barked an order. “Start recovering and re-arming the vipers on the landing decks. Blue squadron is in the tubes ready to launch. Raptors should be a our jump in point in fifteen seconds.”

“Jump the ship. Launch blue squadron on the other side.” Lawson squeezed her pen while she waited for the jump to finish.

“Blue squadron is launched,” flight operations reported.

DRADIS chimed. “Two base stars jumped in. They are launching raiders.”

“Vipers are diverting to intercept. Raptors are engaging the target.” Ramirez strained her neck while she stared at the tactical board.

“They should not have had base stars on scene so fast,” Commander Lawson looked concerned.

“Targets destroyed,” air operations reported.

“As per the plan blue squadron peel off, make a hole for our guns. Engines full power head for the base star on the right. Carom zero niner zero.”

“Recovering the air wing,” Major Ramirez reported. “Next stop is the recovery rally point.”

“Hold jump,” Lawson ordered. “I’ve been studying the tactics books. Best tactic here is to charge at a base star before we jump. Target her center axis.”

“Thats not in the plan,” Ramirez noted.

“We need to be agile like a cat,” Lawson smiled. “Hit her center axis for thirty seconds and we should split her in two.”

“Inbound missile fire, two hundred inbound,” tactical reported.

“Another hundred missiles inbound from behind. Weapons on full automatic.” The missiles appeared on the DRADIS display and most of them were blotted out. The cylon base star directly ahead began to flicker on the screen. Then it blinked out.

“Splash one cylon base star,” the tactical officer reported.

“Jump to the recovery point,” Commander Lawson said. She was rather pleased with herself as this plan was going pretty well. A few explosion noises shook the shift from missile impacts.

After the flash the ship began to shake. The DRADIS blinked and flickered and four large targets appeared.

“Four cyloin base stars and more raiders than we can count are at the rally point.” The ship began rocking from weapons impact.

“Recover the raptors that are here ane spool up for the backup rally point,” Lawson ordered.

“They should not have had time to set up an ambush at our recovery point,” Maria Ramirez repored looking up at the DRADIS and then down at her planning document.

“The pilots know what to do. Jump to the auxilary rally point.”

“Spooling, green board. Jumping,” the FTL team reported.

After the flash and queasy feeling the DRADIS chimed and this time it was only green targets appeared.

“I have twenty six raptors,” flight operations reported.

“Combat landings,” Ramirez ordered. “Spool up for another jump. Cylons should be here soon.”

Commander Lawson looked confused. “You thinking they are getting signals intelligence?”

Ramirez just nodded. The DRADIS chimed and three red globes appeared. “Three cylon base stars just jumped in. I have nearly a thousand inbound raiders.”

“Frack me,” Lawson snapped the pen in her right hand in two. “We are infiltrated.”

“The next rally point is the last one and some of the raptors will be critical on fuel,” flight operations reported.

“How many vipers do we have in the tubes ready for relaunch?” Laswson queried.

“Fifty five,” flight ops reported back.

“Launch on the other side. Plot a course, a giant oval we are going to have to fight or lose the forty raptors we have not recovered.”

“We’re ready Sir.” Maria Ramirez was over at the FTL console.

“What are you doing,” Lawson asked.

“Plotting a new jump point,” she answered. We will need some time to get reorganized. I’m thinking we need to pick a spot the cylons could not download from a destroyed raptors navigation computer.”

“Good call XO,” Laswson smiled slightly.

“Recovery operations complete.”

“Jump!” Lawson ordered with an urgent voice.

After yet another flash and queasy feeling the DRADIS reported what was expected. This time there were six base stars. Missiles began to bound them almost immediately. It was too much for the triple A systems to cope with.

“We are taking significant damage,” engineering reported.

“Engines full pwer, get us up tp maximum,” Lawson ordered. “We need to junp in motion. We can’t recover raptors here.”

“Encryption protocl Beta. Comms transmit new jump coordinates to the raptors.”

“Some of them might not be able to make the jump!” Flight operations warned.

“We have to recover the fighters,” Lawson was conflicted.

“Vipers are recovered. Commander if we stay here too long we may lose the ship.”

Weapons reported. “We have a firing solution.”

“Fire main guns,” Lawson ordered. “Then jump the ship.”

The lights flicered and the ship shook, taking heavy fire.

“We are at maximum speed,” engineering reported. “Jumping at high sublight speeds is dangerous.”

“Jump the ship,” Commander Lawson reported. We need to be moving, harder to ambush.”

“Jumping,” engineering reported.

Jumping from a fixed point, not while in motion gave those present in CIC a queasy feeling. Jumping at high velocity made several people wretch. The flight officer was doubled over throwing up on her shoes.

“Target, large may be a base star,” the DRADIS operator reported.

“We are on a collision course!”

Eva Lawson was a viper pilot again. This was just a very big viper. She looked at the navigation diplays. Then she made a split second decision. “Thrusters up right full power.”

Instinctively the operator of the thrusters followed the command. They felt the G forces as they rapidly re-oriented a battlestar.

“Ten sconds to impact,” warned the navigation officer.

“Now engines ahead full. We need less thrust to avoid a collision.” Lawson was not sure this was enough but it was similar to avoiding a collison in a fighter. She felt the force as the engine operator implemented her orders.

There was a sense of anticipation as the countdown went on.

“Missed it by fifty meters,” navigation reported.

“Missed what?” Maria Ramirez reported.

“Looks like a battlestar sir’s” the scanning officer repored.

Chapter 22: Port flight pod

The mission of the squadron was to keep cylon raiders off the raptor force assigned to hit a large cylon military base. Hector “Cookie” Fishman was fresh out of viper school, having done nothing other than fly CAP since his assignment to this batttlestar.

He was a line pilot, nothing special. His viper was in the launch tube. He listened to his wireless as the jump countdown went to zero. He felt the launch tube catapult his viper into space.

He found his wingman and took station just behind him to his right. He looked down at his DRADIS. It was clear for the moment.

“Just like we planned peel off to the right,” his squadron commander ordered.

He kicked in his throttle and pulled the control stick to the right.

“Contact,” an urgent voice reported in his ear. “Cylon base star, they’re launching raiders.”

“Engage the inbound aircraft,” his squadron commander ordered.

Fishman checked his weapons switches and then squeezed the trigger. He loooked on in awe as a long stream of bullets belched out from his weapons. Several seconds later, he saw explosions from dozens of raiders.

There were smudgeds of red, looked like blood soon after consumed by fire.

“Okay break break break,” his squadron commander ordered. “Stay with your wingman.”

Cookie watched his wingman disintegrate as cylong fire ripped through it. Instinctively he jinked his Mark VII viper, avoiding death himself.

“Watch your six Cookie you got a pair of raiders on your tail.”

“Whoa!” he tought, jerking his control stick, trying to look over his shoulder and see the raiders. His mission was now to change direction as many times per second as he could. Flying straight and level was death now,.

His viper rocked as a round hit it. Warning lights flashed and he struggled to control his viper.

“I’m hit I’m hit I’m hit,” he announced on his wireless. “My lead is already dead.” He fought panic.

He felt the impact of first one, then a second explosion as someone cleared the two raiders off his tail. “You are clear Cookie,” his squadron commander ordered.”form up at rally point Victor.”

“Where the frack is Victor,” he said before he saw the letter V flashing on his DRADIS.

“Change of plans,” the squadron commander said in his ear. “Clear the center aisle. There are two manh of them. Mercury is setting up an engagement zone. Back to the barn, the stike is successful.”

He kicked in his engines and headed for the battlestar on a route that kept clear of a wall of fire and flak spewing from the battlestar. He was assigned to lan on the lower port flight pod. He flipped his orientation and performed his first combat landing, upside down from the orientation of the rest of the ship.

There was a second strike planned. All he had to do now was sit in his viper until the recovery teams towed him back to the hanger deck.

This was going to be boring. Now he was going to have to be broken in with a new wing leader.

Chapter 21: Striking Back raptor force foxtrot

Heather “Runner” Osinas checked her coordinates for the fifth time sinch launch from the Mercury. Her right seater was new and the pair had only flown together for two sorties supporting the CAP(Combat Air Patrol).

She didn’t trust Sam “Jaybird” Garret. The two were getting to understand each others habits and eccentricities. Both were wearing flight helmets and waiting for the go order.

It was fifteen seconds before the flight was ordered to jump and hit a Tylium storage facility.

“FTL status,” she ordered.

“Board is green coordinates are in,” Jaybird replied.

The orders were simple. Make the strike, abort if there was significan reistance. The strike plan was based on surprise and hitting as many targets in the first five minutes of the attack.

“Jump,” Lieutenant Osinas ordered. The gripped the control stick a little tighter, waiting for the white flash.

It seemed to take forever, but the effect wore off. She kicked in the engines after glancing at the DRADIS screen and seeing other raptors. “One minute to firing location. No raiders,” she felt a little better. “Master arm on, prepare to fire.”

“Master arm on, weapons hot,” Jaybird flipped the switches. They were going to let go with everything they had.

There was a chime from the DRADIS and a few red dots appeared.

“Contact,” Garrret replied, “eight cylon raiders, CBDR.”

“We are closer to the target then they are. Keep going, launch in ten seconds,” Runner broadcast on the wireless. She had forgotten that she was the strike leader.

“We’re at the firing point,” the weapons offer reported.

“FIRE,” she ordered.

The four raptors lauched a barrage of hundreds of rockets at the refinery and tanks before them. Some of the rockets veered off due to counter measures, but they jump had purposely taken them inside the defense engagement zone.

One of the raports erupted into a ball of flames and metal as a missile sliced through it. “We lost number three,” Jaybird shouted.

“Spool up FTL,” the pilot ordered. “Confirm that the coordinates are correct.”

Jaybird read them off and saved them in the FTL computer. “Confirmed, waypoint charlie.”

They shook as an enormous explosion ripped through the facilityl

“Scatch one cylon Tylium refinery,” Garrett smiled.

“Jump,” the pilot ordered.

With a white flash, they were out of the engagement zone. It would be an hour before they could jump again and meet the Mercury.

Welcome to Shmuel Bogomolny’s Bsttlestar Mercury

Chapter 20: Pre-strike

Commander Eva Lawson paced outside the pilots ready room, awaiting her invitation to speak. She was vary familiar with this room, but not her role. She could not overstep boundaries and act like the CAG. She had a CAG, though she barely knew the man, he had planned the strike details.

She went over the details again. It was a complex plan, but it was a good one. It was designed to make the maximum impact while the cylons were still thinking that they had won the war outright.

Raptors would form into 20 strike groups averaging 4 raptors per group. They would jump at the same time, a dangerous close to target strike. If they encountered resistance, their orders were to jump back to one of 4 way points. These were spread out to make sure the cylons did not simply follow them home and jump in three basestars.

The Mercury would deliver two larger strike groups to larger, better protected fuel refinery bases. A squadron of vipers would launch at each after a combat FTL jump. They would then jump the battlestar to a second higher priority target.

A squadron of vipers and ten raptors to each target would deliver maximum firepower, leaving the battlestar with a squadron strength air protection. Nearly three hundred pilots had died in the starboard flight pod and their squadrons could not fly, their ships standing in the maintenance bays, waiting for a reason and a pilot.

This ship was also equipped to produce still more vipers. If they were not so short on people power, they had pilot simulators and could produce pilots in a matter of weeks.

With nearly six hundred civilians crammed into the marines barrack’s there was a possible source of new pilot trainees. Getting their numbers back up was the key to using this ship to deliver real strategic damage to the cylons.

She got the signal. In a proper fitting daytime blues uniform she walked to the podium. As was often the case she had to adjust the microphone lower to adjust to her petite stature.

She began nervously, clearing her throat. “You know the mission. You know the plan. It’s complicated but if we succeed we will send a message. We are outnumbered, and must be careful with resources, both human and machine. It is very important that all my pilots come home today.”

She went on feeling more confidence as she made eye contact with Maria Ramirez. “Our objective is to make a splash and that is up to you. We know the Galactica escaped with a civilian fleet. If we cripple their fuel supplies they will be forced to pull back forces to deal with us.”

“Man your planes. Show me the courage I always knew you had. This mission is for the three hundred pilots an a hundred and seventy five deck hands that perished in the initial attack. We owe it to them to light up the skies with Cylon fuel.”

“For the pilots and crew of the starboard pod,” one voice cried out.

“For the Admiral and the XO!’ another female voice exclaimed.

“So say we all,” Lawson said with raised voice.

The reply was thunderous. “So say we all!”

In unison. As a team.

Chapter 19: Planning

The new senior staff of the Battlestar mercury were assembled around a map of table. On the table was a small model of the Battlestar itself, several vipers and raptors representing the squadrons that were now able to fight.

Commander Eva Lawson stood in her ill fitting blues uniform looking over the map. To her right was her new XO Maria Ramirez. Still a bit overweight, she look like she had lost weight quickly in the past few days. She was nervous some of the senior to many of the officers around this table. Her uniform look even worse than the commanders, rumpled just like a computer geek.

The acting CAG, Don Smith, Call sign “pants”, There was a story behind this 44-year-old captains call side. He was tall and lanky, barely able to squeeze himself into the cockpit of a Mark VII Viper.

Next to him was a civilian intelligence analyst tasked to the Ministry of Defense. Dave Parker was 50 and had retired from the colonial fleet as a Colonel. He had refused reinstatement without becoming the XO of the ship.

Bald with a thin ring of white hair on his head, he looked at Maria Ramirez with distain.

“I call the meeting to order,” ordered commander Lawson. “It is day six of the second cylon war. We flown 300 sorties with Raptors to gather intelligence from the colonies and nearby systems.”

Parker, being the one expected to interpret the data cleared his throat and spoke. “Most interesting is six seconds of footage that we have to have a cylon network.”

He picked up what appeared to be a TV clicker and a large monitor mounted on the wall above the table came to life. It showed a Jupiter class Battlestar trying to point its forward guns at a target. Continuous fire was spewing from the underside of topside guns. Cylon Raiders could be seen smashing into the wall of fire and being destroyed. Several missiles made it through the engagement zone and hit the elderly Battlestar.

“Is that the Galactica?” Lawson asked.

Parker pressed his control and a box formed and zoomed in on the main plate on the port flight pod. “No sir,” he answered that is the Solaria war museum.”

“That is absolutely amazing. The old solaria was retired 25 years ago and turned into a museum. It was falling apart and Galactica was lined up to replace it. It was headed to the scrapheap. A friend of Admiral Mueller was commander. Jesse um Black I think it was. No Jesse Green. He was a legend. I heard he was always trying to get ammunition and parts to keep the Battlestar combat ready. I guess he did!” Commander Lawson was quite proud that she remember the man’s name.

Parker spoke annoyed at the interruption. “I asked for recon. I’ve not yet received the data package.”

“Our recon force was attacked while gathering intelligence from the site. The data indicates enough debris and wreckage to confirm that a cylon base ship was destroyed in battle. They were parts of several destroyed vipers in the area. Some of them came from the museum. Two came from task force gamma. This was a forward tripwire base Deployed to act as an early warning if the cylon invaded.” The commander air group was analyzing the intelligence and that serve to annoy their intelligence officer.

“I can surmise than that since the battle took place several hundred clicks from task force gamma that’s the Battlestar combined forces and were interrupted while moving supplies.”

Maria Ramirez finally spoke up. “Do we have any idea where the Battlestar is now?”

“No major,” the former colonial colonel nearly spit out the words.

“Well,” Eva Lawson said. “Let’s make it a priority to find her. We have several problems. We have picked up 500 civilians and are shoving them into quarters normally designated for colonial Marines. We’ve had to jump away from the cylons three times in the past two days because they found us. What can we do to change the situation?”

Parker began to speak again. “Well we know they’re expending a lot of fuel. They were clearly hunting down the Solaria. They were quite surprised when she turned and fought. Hacked signal intelligence seems to indicate their response time was very poor.”

“We should hit their fuel,” major Ramirez suggested.

“That’s ridiculous,” Parker sneered.

Commander Eva Lawson raised a hand to stop the man from speaking. “Tell us why you think that Major Ramirez.”

“Well they aree spending a lot of fuel chasing us and possibly chasing the Galactica and a civilian fleet. Mr. Parkers signals intelligence indicates movements of over 100 Bass stars bass stars in our home solar system and the surrounding areas. That same intelligence indicates they are moving outward away from the colonies. They are chasing something.”

“Their supply lines do appear to be stretched,” Parker conceited. “I don’t think they planned on a resistance or a fleet leaving in the colonies.”

The CAG spoke next. “Fuel is volatile. It is almost as easy to explode as munitions. Munitions are often stored nearby. Assault Raptors can jump in launch missile strikes and then jump back out before the cylons have time to get organized.”

“The mercury has big guns,” Lawson speculated. That can blow up a lot of fuel.”

“I think we should hold back the Battlestar for now. Gun crews need more practice. I need to make sure the automation is free of cylon viruses. This ship can destroy a base star in several minutes. All they have to do to stop us is fly around in packs. If we want a sustained campaign against their fuel production they will have to take Battlestar’s I mean Base stars out of the fight. We need to isolate individual based stars and start knocking them down while minimizing the risk to the ship.”

“Not bad for a computer geek,”Commander Lawson smiled. “You don’t have to go to war College to pick up the basics of tactics here. I want to plan a series of strikes. We will use the Battlestar to delivervipers to higher priority targets. If we are careful we can even give the impression that we were fleet a battle stars. Plan this first strike we launch at 06:00”

Chapter 18: Deadline

Joint task force base gamma was one of a dozen bases built in astroids around the solar system containing the 12 colonies. The point of these bases was the act as a tripwire in case of a cylon invasion.

They were supposed to make enough noise so that the fleet come in will become aware of the situation and dispatch a task force of Battlestar’s to meet the threat. Nobody had anticipated the cylon infiltration of the colonial defense network with the CNP program.

The spaces were designed with compact but powerful fire power. There was a cache of compatible ammunition. It was it a small fuel reserve.

It was about a functioning squadron who’s normal kind compliment was 75 Mark eight vipers and 18 raptors split evenly between assault and SAR birds.

There was a hodgepodge of other ships designed to allow a stricken Battlestar to take on supplies. Everyone sprung into action to evacuate the base and take every possible supplies that a Jupiter class Battlestar could use.

The base have been hit by the cylons as part of their strike to begin the second war. The CNP program has been activated and taking a put down half of the squadron. A nuclear strike have been launched and exploded by counter battery fire above the base.

The cylons had believed that their strike had destroyed the base. This was not so. heavy armor had kept radiation out. An Antenna array on the far side of the astroid had picked up communications. The crew that maintains the vipers and raptors figured out that the salines had used a virus to disable the war ships.

Now every available able-bodied crew member on the base or the Battlestar working around the clock to move everything of value from the base to the ship.

Colonel John Williams was a man with a mission. He had a wireless headset on each ear. He had a phone to his mouth and was barking out orders. A mind like a computer that functioned Differently than the 72-year-old Green, He kept a three dimensional picture of the situation in his mind.

Every couple minutes he would pause a tactical board and drawn it with a temporary marker. Every raptor was being loaded with a vital supplies and running a shuttle to the port landing part of the Battlestar.

Several larger ships that were capable of landing on the base we’re taking on ammunition and running it out to the Battlestar. Crews unloaded the pallets put the shells on wheeled carts and move them straight into the ammunition magazines.

A large supply of consumables, spare parts for common systems especially guns we’re being moved in a frantic pace.

Every viper that could fly was in the air forming a barrier against attack.

Commander Jesse Green stroked his snow white beard and looked up at the DRADIS console. A small red dot appeared. Warning sounds were omitted. A crewmember called out the status: “Contact! Cylon raider single craft recon bird”

Commander Green stepped forward with a serious look. He picked up a phone and pressed the transmiSolaria to squadrons. Splash the cylon.

An enterprising NCO put the pilots communications channel on speakers in the CIC. The pilots had not yet formed into a team. Some of them were rookies, some of them were veterans. But they all understood the importance of their task. They did not fight for the kill they got out of each other’s way and 15 seconds after its arrival the cylon reader disintegrated in a red cloud of blood.

“Damned if that thing ain’t alive,” a pilot commented on the combat channel.

Commander Jesse Green picked up his phone again and flip some switches on his workstation. “This is the commander,” his voice was graven scratchy, his accent less pronounced. “The cylons will be back. Gun crews, Upper, lower, forward prepare for AAA fire. Set condition one throughout the ship.”

It only took 10 minutes for the next recon force to arrive.

“Contact cylon recon group. Eight graders. CBDR constant bearing decreasing range. Air cover move to intercept. If any one of them gets away we’re done here.”

Captain Fern “Wildcat” Jensen Swan her antiquated Mark to fiber viper around and maxed out her engines. She ssw two cylons almost directly ahead. Not wanting to waste time she unleashed a long volley of fire.

Both enemy ships exploded in spectacular fashion. “Splash to flying toasters, Captain Johnson reported.

The remaining six Raiders turned in all directions trying to evade what was obviously planned fire. One of the broadcasting a red beam. This was now known as the activation sequence for the CNP program which allowed the cylons. to shut down and destroyed most of the colonial fleet.

“Cowboy splash one toaster,” Lieutenant Ebers She thought got a kill. The silence we’re not without their own skill. They could handle more G-Force than a viper pilot.

They dodged and they twisted and one of the current position to take a good reconnaissance photograph of the Battlestar taking our supplies. Four more cylon raideea exploded in red smudges. With a white flash one of the raiders disappeared.

“Vipers form into two groups prepare for concentration fire above and below the ship. Work crews finish up what you doing we’re going to have to go now.” Colonel William stopped barking and looked up at the status board. It was now just a countdown before the basestars jumped in.

Three minutes later two large red balls appeared on the DRADIS screen. There was a warning chime.

Dutifully the officer of the day reported the news that everybody could see on their screen: “Contact! Cylon bass stars. They’re launching Raiders. 300 scratch that 600 targets in bound.”

Captain Jensen spoken to her wireless. “Line it up and let it loose don’t come home with any ammunition. Red team take the base star below us blue team take the bass star above us.

It was a beautiful site seeing thousands of streaking shells going outbound and colliding with the massive wave of cylon fighters. Dozens of them disintegrated instantly. Some of the trailing fighters dodged in launch counter fire. Several vipers exploded as well.

This was a tactic designed at the war College. It was one for desperate situations. When out numbered they would spend or have a nation and then get out of the way and at the Battlestar guns take care of the rest

Captain Jensen so she was zero and ammunition and then gave the order: “OK peel off open a hole the Battlestar is going to create a fire zone. For gods sake don’t get into her engagement zone.”

She pulled her viper around in a high G turn. She saw most of her squadron from the base peel off and open up a firing zone. Below the Battlestar the same thing happened.

The main guns, Which had not been fired in decades belched forth a volley of shells. Smaller guns a raid all up and down the flight parts opened up and formed a secondary barrier. Hundreds of raiders flew into the flak and became red smears.

In CIC in CIC Commander Green was giving orders. “Engines ahead fall about up. Four cans prepare to concentrate on the Bass stars center axis.”

From space, Captain Johnson was the last viper to do a combat landing on the Port flight pod. She could see the Ford guns of the Battlestar belching forward. Behind her civilian ships were scrambling to land among vipers were scattered all along the landing deck.

Colonel Williams reported that all job capable shifts had left and at all shuttles had landed. They have not gotten all the supplies, but they had gotten a healthy portion.

“We can shop now Commander Green,” he reported.

“Retract the pods. Spool up FTL NAV computer validate and double check jump coordinates. We got ourselves a little business to do here first.”

“You are going to take our eBay star with a 20-year out of date crate and guns being fired by civilians and have never fired them before?”

Commander Jesse queen stroked his snow white beard and smiled. “Now that you put it that way yes. It’s time our side did a little damage.

The CIC rocked is inbound missile fire poured in faster than the engagement zone could detonate them.

From space a dozen forward guns poured fire into the center axis axis of the base ship. Internal explosions began to engulf the ship.

Missiles continue to pour in finally surviving bass star. With a self-satisfied look in the CIC commander Green spoke softly. “Now we can go.”

Applauds broke out NCIC members began to hug each other unless they were engaged in jump preparation. There was a lot of laughter and happiness. It lasted exactly 3 seconds.

Lieutenant spoke from his consul. “I’ve got a red light in auxiliary damage control.”

Colonel William spoke sharply in with purpose. “Override! That’s how cylons used the vent Colonial during the first cylon war.”

An NCO reported from his station. “The board is Green ready to jump.”

“Jump the ship,” ordered Commander Green. “Send security tags every damage control shoot to kill.”

As the white flash of an FTL jump faded, Commander Jesse Green realized that he had failed. He felt cold. It was difficult to breath. Papers were starting to rush around as air left the CIC.

Somehow the sidelines and made it to auxiliary damage control and done what they have done so many times during the first cylon war. The had vented the ship.

The commander looked over and his XO Before he felt his body get blown across the room. The last thing you thought of was his wife and daughter most likely dead on Caprica. I’ll see you on the other side he thought before it was nothing.

Chapter 17: Recon

Lieutenant Olivia ‘falcon’ Volker Was always a bus driver during her career in the colonial fleet. She never had any interest in flying vipers. She preferred the company of a weapons officer and the size, bulk, and sturdiness of the the raptor.

The day the second cylon war had started, only a few days before, she been station about the Triton. She had not been a around long enough to even begin assistant Squadron commander. She had excelled in flight school, and made a name for herself as a reliable SAR pilot.

How she had gotten the callsign falcon was a story in itself.

During fleet war games three years ago against the Battlestar Pegasus, she had been tasked to fly an ass salt raptor. Given the suicide mission of taking out the red teams battlestar communications array she had used edgey tactics.

She has conducted a short range FTL jump, finishing the jump above the Pegasus. She had swooped down like a bird of prey, Firing guns into the top side bow of the Mercury class Battlestar. Passing within meters of the bow, she had fired a missile and act just as she passed s admiral Cain’s Battlestar.

The missile of course was simulated the computer scored a direct hit by the rules of engagement Pegasus cannot communicate with her planes causing the admiral to lose the exercise. Both sides The missile of course was simulated the computer scored a direct hit by the rules of engagement Pegasus cannot communicate with her planes causing the admiral to lose the exercise.

Both sides checked in for drinks after the exercise and a call sign was born.

Now she was the senior raptor pilot are they for plane air wing. Two recon and SAR birds.

This mission was simple, make a John contact joint force base gamma. Don’t get destroyed by the sidelines and see if the rumor that they had nearly a full squadron of air power was true.

Her weapons officer was also from the Triton: Bill “card shark” Jenkins was a pretty fresh new Lieutenant out of the academy. He obtained his call sign for being involved in one too many card games at the Academy.

“OK Bill are you done with your checklist?” She asked her right seater.

“All systems go skipper,” he drawled in the same accent that the commander had used. “I dare say I don’t like lone recon.”

“Who the Frack asked you?” Falcon sounded annoyed that she looked at her right. “Mag lock set. We are in positions signal the Battlestar that we are ready for lunch.”

Unfazed by hitting rebuke he pressed a few buttons and made a transmission. So they were on the elevator moving up mag locks engaged. Seven seconds later the raptor was on the flight deck. A man in a space suit gave them the thumbs up.

“Solaria this is raptor 179. Request departure clearance.” She heard the correct instructions in her ear and toes back on her stick after releasing the magnetic locks. With a deft and steady hand she maneuvered the raptor out of the flight deck and away from me aging Battlestar that until this week up a museum.

“Spool up FTL. Check coordinates.”

“FTL board is green. Coordinates are confirmed ready to jump on your command.”

This part gave her a sinking feeling the moment before the button was pressed to do it faster than light jump. “Jump!”

There was a flash of light, and the arrangement of the stars shifted. Lieutenant Jenkins Looked down at his navigation display and saw they were when they were supposed to be. “Joint base gamma is 10,000 clicks ahead.” He reported.

There was a warning beep from the DRADIS display. To unknown targets were coming from straight ahead and intercept course. “Broadcasting encryption challenge. How many of we got?”

“Contact, for bogeys. Appears to be colonial viper. They are not broadcasting a response to our challenge and recognition codes.”

The pilot pressed her microphone button and begin broadcasting in the clear. “Colonial vipers this is SAR Raptor from the Battlestar solaria. Please answer our challenge code and recognition protocol.”

One of the vipers movie very close pass, it’s engine exhaust shaking the larger craft..

“What the Frack!” She push the engines the full power and she yank the stick back. “Where in their kill slot. Taking evasive action.”

“There still on us on us,” Jenkins reported “I can fire the rear guns”

“I’ve got to mark twos on my six they can take us anytime they want!” The pilot reported. I’m going to play it soft. Slowing to surrender speed. Making a very gentle course toward joint forces Alpha Gamma.”

She pulled back the throttle and made her self into a target. She decided to see if colonial forces would fire upon a recon raptor.

***

About the Battlestar solaria Commander Jesse Green was pacing the combat information center nervously. It was like a child out on his or her first date for him. A lone recon mission was dangerous but they just didn’t have enough ships to do it.

I had just retracted and extended the flight paths in an effort to help the engineer, a civilian diagnose the horrendous noise that amid it from the mechanisms every time they ran this drill. It was an ear splitting noise.

“Commander Green,” young woman noncommissioned officer spoke. “We have a pro back for my raptor. We have over 30 birds at that bass, a pallet of ammunition and a small fuel tanker. Joint base gamma requests to join the colonial fleet!”

A different kind of noise echo to the command center. People were cheering and slapping hands and hugging each other. A single tear left Commander Greens eye. “Now we’ve got ourselves air wing”

“There are four cylon bass stars between us and that joint base,” a junior officer reported. “The only way to get there safely is faster than light jump.”

“Well then,” Commander Green ordered. “Get her done! Begin jump prep.” He grab the phone off the consul and press the button.”Engineer Collins I hope you’ve got those podr noises under control because we’re about to jump for real.”

A scratchy voice answered him through static: “I think I’ve got the source of the problem right now sir. Ready to jump.”

“NAV computer reports coordinates are ready and fit into FTL jump computer.”

“Insert Jump key,” a squeaky voice ordered.

“Jump key is inserted spoiling up the FT L drive.”

It was a wine and some squeaking as the mechanism of the fast and light drive and not been spun full speed in over two decades.

“Retract the pods,” the XO ordered. There was a noise. It was not as bad as the last time but it was still noticeable. The shipped in a quake so much this time.

After 45 seconds the status report came. “The board is green we are ready to jump ship. Commander shall we jump?”

Smiling Commander Green gave a hand signal. In the in seconds ahead they were either die or make it to their destination. Their stomachs fell, the white flash came in the star soon again became visible. The navigation computer display deposition and shove them 10,000 km from joint base Gamma.

“Job complete,” he squeaky voice reported. Another round of cheering and hugging and clapping broke out. This shit was starting to sound like a Battlestar. It was no longer just an Asian museum scheduled to be replaced by a newer museum.

Chapter 16

Battlestar Commanders log: day four of the second cylon war. Commander Jesse green recording.

We have picked up over 400 souls as we stealthily move about the battle wreckage

Of what was once the colonial fleet. Where there was once 120 battle stars there are now fewer than two. We may be the last Battlestar.

We have a new executive officer a colonel John Williams. He happened to be on leave on the cylons attacked. We picked him up in a small pleasure craft in orbit of one of Caprica’s moons.

He adds a measure of military discipline that we did not have before. As is the case on most ships the executive officer is not the most liked person aboard ship.

John thinks I’m an old fart and he’s right. I am years behind in Battlestar tactics. The ship is barely holding together. We have conducted several FTL drills.

Due to the limitations of the Jupiter class faster than light drive it is necessary to track the flight pods prior to making a jump. This has been problematic as the mechanical mechanisms that retract these pods suffered from years of no maintenance.

The entire ship shakes and there is a racket that lowers morale instantly when we run these drills. We need someone that can lovingly maintain these 50-year-old systems.

The civilians are doing the best they can under the circumstances. Their homes are smoking ruins. Their families are likely dead. The lucky ones escaped in civilian spacecraft that are probably being hunted down brutally by the cylons.

We have picked up some signals intelligence and use that for raptors to gather further intelligence. A large civilian fleet of over 100 ships was assembled and attacked by the silence the first day of the war. We have several seconds of footage from a small ship that escaped the attack. It shows ships with faster than light capability jumping away and ships without that capability being slaughtered by the silence.

What is obvious is the robots that once rebelled and made war on us their creators have decided to commit genocide. Apparently no human is going to be allowed to live. Therefore we have no choice but to fight even if that makes our death more painful.

Signals intelligence also tells us of a battle that occurred near Ragnar Anchorage. This is known to be an ammunition storage facility. Apparently some colonial ship attempted to pick up supplies there in order to fight the war.

We are considering a visit ourselves but it is all the way across the star system. To get there we will have to jump the ship. I am waiting in my office for a report from a raptor crew that I dispatched to do recon at Ragnar.

There was a knock at the door. Commander Green ran a hand through his snow white beard. “Come,” He answered.

A skinny, nervous lieutenant junior grade walked through the door and saluted.

“Enough of that son,” Green waved his hand did not return the salute. “What did you see?”

“We saw definite evidence that the Battlestar Galactica survived the initial attack on the colonies. They apparently went to Ragnar Anchorage, Took out supplies and then fought the cylona when they attempted to leave the facility.”

The lieutenant opened a bag that was draped on his shoulder. He took out a piece of metal with the name Galactica painted onto it. “this is wreckage from a viper, Mark II that was destroyed in the battle of Ragnar. There were hundreds of cylon Raiders destroyed at that battle.

“We took a little EVA and brought back some samples. There appears to be scorched pieces that came from the hull of the Galactica. Our indicates there’s not enough debris and at the Battlestar escaped.”

“Well good job son,” Commander Green complemented. “As far as I can tell the anchorage contained more ammunition than a single Battlestar can load. Although it may seem insane we need to consider going there to get more ammunition. We are desperately low on ammunition. We have one the shipment that was being offloaded from the Galactica. We can fight approximately two battles with it.”

“One more thing sir,” the lieutenant reported. “There used to be a fighter base at the edge of the system of an astroid. “We picked up an encrypted message from her that one of the way points we stopped at on the way back here. It’s authentic they say they’ve survived the cylon attack. The war book says they had a squadron of vipers and possibly two dozen Raptors. We could build quite an air wing off that sir.”

Commander Jesse Green slammed on his phone and fumbled with it for several seconds. “Get Colonel Williams in here right now. I won’t force recon headed to the astroid before I can say get her done.”

Chapter 15

Chapter 14

As she leaned back in a chair that was much too big for her, acting commander Eva Lawson ponder her fate. She was in command of a powerful warship. She did not think of herself as a commander. In her own self image she was still a pilot, a major in the colonial fleet.

The back of her neck felt like it was on fire. Her hair was wound too tight behind her neck. She reached up reflexively and undid the tight knot. Naturally curly hair, short curls tumble down her back past shoulder length.

She had expected to be going to Battlestar command school at the end of her current tour a year from now. She had the study materials in her duffel bag. Now she stared at a computer monitor.

On the monitor or simulated conflicts with with what the fleet thought was a cylon warship.

A familiar face, admiral Samuel Mueller was narrating the video. It spoke about angles of attack and difficult maneuvers to get the main guns of the mercury aimed at the center axis of a Basestar.  Based on the video coming in from the colonies, intelligence had not had a very good idea of how sleek and maneuverable this new cylon ship had become.

Dozens of the ships had jumped into close orbit of all 12 colonies of man. Then enter in orbit. They had entered a low orbit and rained nuclear weapons down on the human cities below.

The key to successful combat according to the admiral was constant maneuver. Making on self a difficult target limited damage from counter fire. If the damage became too great the mercury class chef could always jump.

She picked up a mile of the mercury sitting on the table in the office that was line of books lined with books, and pictures of various adventures taken while on shore leave.

This office was a man cave and it made her uncomfortable.

There was a light knock, a tapping sound on the outer door to the office. In the office was an anti-weapons case and several other signs of a colorful career. “Come,” she ordered.

The lieutenant was covered with oil spots and dust. She had forced her curvy body into some tight spaces to pull out computer modules and storage devices.

“Commander,” Maria Ramirez stood stiffly in front of the desk. Commander Lawson did not even get up. “You know all that even halfway through removing the virus from our air wing. That doesn’t even mention what is going to take to eradicate it on the ship.”

“You can supervise this process in your new role as my executive officer,” face Lawson studied the face of her new XO.

What she got was shock, awe and the look of puzzlement. “Sir,” she said urgently, you know they were at least four squadron commanders on this year with the rank of captain.”

Commander Lawson folded her fingers into a tent and rocked in the oversized office chair. “Do you want to know why Major Ramirez?”

Being addressed in this way caused her to stutter slightly and look behind her for another more deserving officer.

“Half of the air wing is dead or injured. The last thing I need right now is to take a squadron commander away from his pilots. You are a reliable officer discovered the cylon hack. I need someone reliable to help me learn how to operate the ship. I don’t think there’s a control stick anywhere in the CIC.”

“I went to Officer school so that I could have the rec necessary to running network on the Battlestar. I did not sign up for a suicide mission. Surely there are more qualified people on the ship to be our executive officer!”

“I trust you,” major Maria Ramirez. You are a hard worker and you will grow into the job just like I will.”

“It’s going to take four days to repair this ship. We need more fuel supplies, ammunition and basic raw material.”

“I heard of the wireless that we are picking up stragglers. A few raptors staffed with officers. There may be pilots out there we can rescue and put to work on the ship. But I am a basic question for you commander awesome, what is your strategy? What are we going to do with a single warship up against hundreds?”

Eva Lawson have been thinking about this question for hours. She did not have an answer to this question and she needed one to motivate a crew that was going to have bad morale because of the loss of their families. Then it hit her. The answer was in an animal you are video. Maneuver. Appear where one was unexpected and weak. Get those mean guns focused for a few seconds on the center axis of a basestar.

“First,” the commander spoke with confidence, “we need recon. We need to know the military situation in the colonies and we need to rescue any officers we can they can join us in this fight. Send the captains in from the squadron we need to pick a CAG. What we are going to do is hit them in many places. We’re going to give the impression we have 10 battle stars. Catch the thing is we’re going to need ammunition, fuel and a lot of luck.”

“What we really need here is another Battlestar two.”

“Well major what does signals intelligence tell us about the possibility of finding another Battlestar?”

“The only Battlestar’s we know that are missing is the Galactica, possibly the Pegasus. The problem is the Galactica was nuked and we haven’t heard from her since.  We have pretty clean footage of the Pegasus taking one or two nukes in Scorpia shipyards. We don’t have a disaster beacon on either of those two ships. We have 115 disaster beacons confirmed. The second cylon war has been lost.” “Well XO that is a downer.”