The Hunted (nBSG)
Something new I've been working on. I make no claim to BSG or to any of their work; this is a piece of fan-fiction not intended for publication or for monetary reward. It is just a story that I am writing for your enjoyment. And I hope that you do enjoy it. And I hope that I write this story without upsetting too many canon apple-carts.
Episode I: Homecoming
“Commander on deck!” the Marine posted in CIC barked as Commander Mathias Lorne entered the Combat Information Center of the Battlestar Scorpia. The ranks of officers and men straightened slightly, but only those without essential duties turned to face the Commander, and Mathias silently nodded his approval.
“As you were,” he said, stepping up beside the central console and his executive officer. “Colonel Jayne, is the ship ready to proceed with our scheduled FTL jump?”
Thomas Jayne—a native of Tauron with the dark skin and hair that colony produced in abundance—nodded in the affirmative with a relieved smile. “All compartments have reported as ready to initiate jump Five Nine Nine, Commander.”
Mathias—a good half-foot shorter than his tall XO and stout where Jayne was whip-cord lean—smiled wryly back. For two years now, Scorpia had been absent from the colonies; dispatched by the Quorum and Fleet Command to observe a very rare stellar phenomena in a distant nebula . . . the birth of a new star condensing from the gaseous clouds. Although the Quorum had been concerned about the sheer distance involved—it had taken Scorpia six months to reach the system, far, far past the Red Line for a single safe jump—the fact that it lay in the opposite direction from the Cylons had led them to approve the mission; if they had not quite conveyed that fact to the general population.
Six months there, a year observing the nebula and the birth pains of a new star—which Mathias had, over the objections of the scientific research team, christened as Ishtar after the Goddess of Love, Sex, and War, second only to Dionysius in reverence by the people of his native colony of Scorpia, he thought with a smile—and now six months back home. It had been a very long voyage for the Valkyrie-class Battlestar, just one of many cruisers and Battlestars that comprised the Colonial Fleet. The choice of Scorpia on this assignment had struck him as a strange one at first; after all, at 725 meters in overall length she was just barely half the length of the old Jupiter-class, just 40% of the length of a modern Mercury-class vessel. Needless to say, she was also far tighter on internal space than those two ships, and while she had more than enough room to fit aboard the research team and their gear, the long duration of the mission had eaten into her fuel tankage, provisions, air, and spare parts storage relentlessly.
But Mathias understood the need for it; after all, the Valkyrie-class formed the lion’s share of the Fleet. One simply could not take one of the larger and more closely watched Battlestars and send it off for two years without someone noticing—but the Quorum, the President, and the Fleet hoped that it might be possible with Scorpia.
She was long overdue for a refit at the Scorpia Fleet Yards, Mathias thought. On the bright side, the engineers will have worked out the glitches and bugs in the new Command Navigation Program upgrade he had heard rumors about just before his departure. It would be nice to have a tested system installed for once instead of being the lab rat that suffered to prove whether or not a new concept worked—or didn’t in many cases.
“Very well, Colonel Jayne, set coordinates for Typhon Station and start the clock,” Mathias said as he laid his hands on the table in the dimly lit CIC and leaned forward.
The Colonel picked up a radio-phone and switched it to ship-wide broadcast. “All hands, this is the XO—prepare for jump. Engineering bring FTL Engines One and Two on-line, Navigation start the jump clock.”
“Starting jump clock for Typhon Station,” reported Captain Joan Danis from her station, “coordinates set, two minutes until drive activation.”
The Colonel listened to the phone for a moment and then racked it. “Engineering reports all systems in the green, Commander.”
Mathias just grunted. If this voyage had done one thing it had proved that the Colonial FTL designs were capable of operating far beyond what the engineers thought their limits were. So far, Scorpia had logged five hundred and ninety eight jumps—and still the primary and second drives were functioning smoothly. He looked up as a shadow fell across the table. “Doctor Sarris,” he said with a warm smile at the head of the stellar sciences team embarked aboard the ship, “after this jump we have but one more before you are returning to Caprica in a heroes’ welcome with your data.”
“I hope not,” the Picon answered in apparent horror, with his crisp accent. “Imagine if our children are inspired to strive for the sciences instead of the military—oh, such wailing and gnashing of teeth will result and you, good Commander, you will be to blame.”
“I was just following orders, Doctor Sarris. The President and the Quorum approved this mission.”
“Quite right, Commander, but that will not matter. They cannot allow themselves to be blamed for the situation, so they will look elsewhere. And the Fleet Admirals are too highly connected—but you? You are but a lowly Commander of the single Battlestar. A good and capable ship to be certain,” he added hastily, “but you are just one Commander out of nearly two hundred. You are expendable if it means that they get to keep their jobs, yes?”
“I hope not,” Mathias replied with a chuckle.
“Twenty seconds to jump,” reported Danis.
“Take DRADIS off-line,” ordered the Commander.
“Shutting down DRADIS,” another officer answered and the screens flickered and died.
“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, JUMP!”
The sensation of Faster-Than-Light jump was something that you never quite became accustomed to. One moment the ship existed at a discrete coordinate of space and time; in a fraction of an instant, it felt as if the ship and all within it compressed to that single point before vanishing and expanding in a burst of light at another which may be many light-years distant.
“FTL Jump complete, Commander,” Danis said.
“DRADIS coming back on-line . . . now,” reported Tom Jayne.
“Contact,” sang out Lieutenant Paul Cook from the tactical console, but then his voice fell. “I am reading no transponders.”
“Say again?” Mathias asked.
“No transponders—Colonial or otherwise; no emissions from the target . . . it is Typhon Station, Sir, but they are not emitting on any frequency.”
Mathias took the phone. “Open a channel.”
“Typhon Station, this is the Battlestar Scorpia,” he broadcast but only silence and static answered him. “Typhon Station, Scorpia, respond.” But there was no response.
“Could their comms be down?” Mathias whispered to his XO.
Tom frowned and he shook his head. “It is possible, but the transponders are on a different system—both down at the same time?”
“Any other contacts within range?”
“This is damn peculiar,” Mathias said softly. He lifted the phone again, “CAG, Scorpia Actual.”
“Go ahead, Actual,” the voice of the Commander of Scorpia’s Air Group replied over the intercom. Captain Jon Banacek, known by his call sign of Rambler among the crew, was in the flight operations center two decks below, at the junction of the thick struts connecting the two flight-pods to the main hull of the Battlestar.
“I want a Combat Air Patrol launched immediately and prep two Raptors for a look-see—with escorts.”
“Aye, aye, Sir. Launching the ready Vipers . . . now.”
Scorpia bucked slightly as the six longitudinal launch tubes—unique to the Valkyrie-class—fired in quick sequence, sending a half-dozen Mk VI Vipers into space. Not the most modern of fighters in the Colonial Fleet, Scorpia was scheduled to replace her complement with Mark VIIs on return to the Colonies; but while they may not be the latest generation of fighter, the Mark VIs remained capable and lethal. Mathias watched as their icons appeared on DRADIS. “Colonel Jayne . . . set Condition Two throughout the ship and warm the guns.”
His XO sucked in a breath and he nodded his agreement. “Aye, aye, Sir,” he lifted his own phone. “This is the XO, set Condition Two throughout the ship; secure all air-tight doors and compartments. Tactical, begin warming procedures for primary, secondary, and point-defense batteries—do not arm. Confirm.”
“Warming main turrets One through Fourteen, secondary turrets Fifteen through Forty, and point-defense batteries—safeties remain in place.”
“CIC, CAG. Launching recon-sweep now.”
Again Scorpia quivered as she launched four more Vipers and two Raptors took off from the recovery deck of her port-side flight pod. Mathias checked the clock and he smiled. The deck gang was on the ball today—they had spotted the second launch of Vipers in under two minutes . . . and the pair of Raptors.
“Tom, remind me to tell the Chief well done,” Mathis whispered.
“Don’t I always?” his XO answered—but despite the grin he too was worried. The Fleet knew that Scorpia had been scheduled to return today . . . and yet no one seemed to be home. And while Typhon was an older station dating back to before the Cylon War, it should have had at least a skeleton crew—that had been the plan at least before he departed. At the very least a message buoy should have been left floating in orbit. Instead, there was nothing.
“Scorpia, Sidewinder,” hissed the voice of the lead Raptor pilot from the intercom, “the station appears cold and dead. I am detecting no power sources, no emission of any kind—looks like the airlocks are open to vacuum and there is no internal heat. No signs of weapon scoring on the outer hull; no hull breaches except the open locks.”
Mathias shook his head. “This makes no sense, Tom. Even if they decommissioned the station, someone should be out here to greet us. Nothing on DRADIS?”
“Just the station and our own pilots, Commander,” Danis replied.
“Sidewinder, Scorpia Actual,” he spoke into the phone. “Are the docking bays obstructed?”
“Negative, Scorpia Actual,” the pilot replied, and his voice held an element of surprise. “The shuttles and Raptors are gone.”
“Maybe the Fleet forgot we were out here,” Tom growled. “If so, I am going to kick the ass of someone at Picon Command.”
“Sidewinder. Dock with the station and search the command deck; I am sending over a team of Marines and engineers.”
“Roger that, Scorpia Actual.”
“What is our current tylium status, Colonel?”
“Down to 22% on all tanks; damn good thing we stored those extra reserve tanks in the cargo hold on the outward voyage, otherwise we would be running on fumes. We have more than enough to make the last jump, Commander.”
“Not yet, Tom. I want the engineers to see how much fuel Typhon has—and we will dock and transfer what is left if they can get the pumps on-line. And whatever other supplies she still has aboard—I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
“Aye, I know that feeling well,” Tom answered. “Quickly, I presume?”
“As quickly as we can—I don’t want to get caught with our pants down around our ankles docked to the station if something has gone wrong.”
“But what?” asked Dr. Sarris. “I just cannot believe that someone isn’t here—the Quorum and the Science Council would have sent someone to greet us at the least.”
“I don’t know, Doctor,” Mathias said. “Tom, I want to keep us at Condition Two for now. Have Rambler launch another flight and get an outer perimeter established—and hold another six Vipers in the tubes for launch.”
“That’s almost a third of our Vipers, Commander.”
“I know. Consider it a drill if it makes you feel better—and I want the Raptors that are ferrying the Marines and technical crew to augment the outer perimeter once they make their delivery.”
“Aye, sir,” he said as he turned back to the phone.
And Commander Mathias Lorne tapped his fingernails against the surface of the command dais, a frown of worry upon his face.
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
Lieutenant (junior-grade) Michael Jamussa (known the pilots and EWOs by his call sign of Kaboose) knelt beside the window in the Raptor’s hatch. “Looking good, Sidewinder,” he said to the command pilot (and senior Raptor pilot aboard Scorpia) Lieutenant Stefan ‘Sidewinder’ Greene. “Two more meters . . . back a nudge . . . good, good, CONTACT!” The EWO toggled a switch beside the hatch and there was a dull thud. “Hard dock, Sidewinder. Magnetic grapples secured and locked.”
“Scorpia, Sidewinder,” the pilot broadcast. “We are docked with Typhon and are opening up now.”
“Roger Sidewinder, report in at five minute intervals. ETA on Marines and tech team four minutes.”
“Copy, Scorpia,” he answered as he unbuckled his harness and carefully made his way back into the small troop/EWO bay. “Ready, Kaboose?”
“If I said no,” the EWO answered sourly, “would you wait on the Marines to arrive?”
“That’s a negative, Kaboose.”
“Thought so,” he answered as he drew his sidearm and chambered a round before sliding the weapon back in its holster. “Well, in that case, Lieutenant Sir, we cocked, locked, and ready to rock.”
“Open her up, wiseass.”
“By your command,” Kaboose said in a monotone voice reverberating into his helmet.
The hatch opened outwards without a sound in the vacuum. Sidewinder took the lead and he jumped across the one-meter gap between the Raptor and the open hatch, and he bounced back into the air on the far side. “Internal gravity is down, Kaboose. Watch your step.”
“Scorpia, Sidewinder. Emergency lights are on in power conservation mode—batteries must be low. Negative internal atmosphere and gravity—en route to command deck.”
“Roger, Sidewinder. Watch yourself,” the radio broadcast.
“What? No kind words for me?” Kaboose lamented, and a chuckle came over the radio. “Kaboose, Scorpia. Nope. Not a one.”
“I get no respect at all,” the EWO muttered.
“Respect is earned, Kaboose,” Sidewinder said as he swept the hand-held battery-powered torch he carried down the corridor. “You haven’t so far,” the pilot paused. “Is that what I think it is?” He asked as the torch illuminated a rust-red smear along one bulkhead—and a matching icy pool on the deck.
“Frack,” whispered the junior officer. “Is that blood? Frozen congealed blood?”
“And bullet impacts on the bulkhead,” the pilot said slowly. “Scorpia, Sidewinder. Signs of an internal firefight—no bodies. We are at the access ladders and climbing to the command deck.”
Colonel Jayne shook his head. “Smugglers? Could the Fleet have decommissioned the station and then criminals had a fire-fight? Even scraps of supplies could be valuable—let alone the tylium stores and munitions.”
Mathias nodded. “There are no indications of kinetic or missile strikes on the exterior—Typhon was only lightly armed, but any hostile ship should have alerted the crew and there would be some evidence of a fight. There is another possibility, Tom,” he said quietly.
“Mutiny,” the XO snarled.
“It is not unknown,” the commander answered. “Sidewinder, Scorpia Actual. Try to find the station logs when you reach the command deck—they might be in the commander’s quarters on Deck Four if they are not in CIC.”
“Roger, Scorpia Actual.”
The two pilots slowly made their up the core of the station along the access ladders—steeply sloped stairs as civilians referred to them. They passed more blood stains on the way and in the dark cold interior, the sound of their breathing was thunderous.
“All this blood, and not a body to be found,” Kaboose said in a quavering voice. “Where are the bodies?”
“Easy, Lieutenant,” Sidewinder ordered. “Someone policed the station afterwards; no way they all got sucked out to vacuum.”
“But what happened?”
“That’s what we are here to find out.”
“Sidewinder, Arclight. I am docking at the port bay with a team of Marines and techs; Jester is delivering a second team to engineering.”
“Roger, Arclight. Scorpia, we are at the command deck.”
“Sidewinder, Scorpia. Confirm you have reached the command deck.”
The command deck was as silent and lifeless and frozen as the remainder of the station had been—but there were a large number of patches of blood-red ice on the deck and bulkheads and consoles. Sidewinder approached the engineering console and he scrapped off the ice with his gloved hands. “Scorpia, Sidewinder. Power plant and environmental controls were manually shut down from the command deck. I have emergency power only—batteries at . . . 8.7%; we have the juice for a system restart. Request instructions.”
“Sidewinder, Scorpia Actual. Fuel status?”
“Tanks read seventeen thousand five hundred and forty-four tons of processed and refined tylium, Scorpia Actual. Just over 13% of her total capacity.”
Mathias exchanged a look with Tom who nodded. “That would top off our tanks, as well as the reserve storage for the Vipers and Raptors, with some to spare.”
He lifted the phone. “Fire her up, Sidewinder. Warm the tanks to reduce the slush and have the engineering teams check the status of the fuel transfer pumps and lines—when everything is on-line we will bring the ship to dock and transfer fuel.”
The commander adjusted the dial next to the phone. “CIC to Chief Sinclair,” he broadcast, and then waited.
“Chief, I want a team assembled for fuel transfer and a second to inspect any spare parts and munitions aboard that station—bring over everything we can use, and what will fit in our holds. If the Fleet did decommission Typhon, I’m not about to leave ordnance sitting out here for criminals to get their hands on.”
“Our magazines are over two-thirds as is, Commander. We won’t be able to fit all of it aboard if Typhon has a full load.”
“Understood, get what you can, and get it safely stowed.”
“I’ll get a crew cracking on it Commander.”
“Sidewinder, Scorpia Actual,” he continued as he switched the phone back to that channel. “Any progress on those logs?”
“Affirmative, Scorpia Actual. Final entry was . . . seven months and ten days ago. Shows a Fleet shuttle arriving in system with cargo for the station. Nothing after that. No mention of the Fleet mothballing the station either, at least none that I can find.”
“Get the logs back here ASAP, Scorpia Actual out.”
Mathias racked the phone and he shook his head. For several moments he said nothing and then he nodded. “For now, Tom, we are going to concentrate on getting those pumps working and the fuel piped aboard—as well as whatever supplies and spares we can salvage. I’ll be in my quarters—dock the ship once the Marines and engineers complete their sweep and the pumps have checked out. Once that operation is complete, we will jump into Cyrannus and find out just what the frack is going on.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
“. . . furthermore, the Raptors have searched this system exhaustively in the last twenty-four hours,” Captain Jon Banacek said. “We have detected no ships or debris indicative of combat. Whatever happened here is long over, gentlemen.”
“Except that while we know the final log entry was made two hundred and twenty one days ago,” Major Denise Church said in a very sour voice, “we know from those same logs that Typhon had six times the amount of fuel we found on-hand at that time. The pumps have been activated at least four times since that final log entry and a massive amount of tylium transferred; enough to fuel two Mercury-class Battlestars running on empty.”
“And not one body has been discovered aboard the station,” Mathias mused. “The corpses were removed—it strains credibility that they all floated away into vacuum. Sensor logs?”
“Erased, Commander. Even the back-up disks were wiped clean—and those are supposed to be secure from tampering,” added Captain Joan Danis, the ship’s DRADIS, communications, and computer systems officer added.
“Munitions stores aboard Typhon were also broken into,” chimed in Captain Paul Cook, the chief of Scorpia’s tactical section. “Almost all of the Viper and Raptor munitions—shells, missiles, and drones—were removed, along with the contents of the secure nuclear warhead storage facility. Chief Sinclair found enough ordnance remaining though to fill our magazines to capacity, both for the Air Wing and the gun mounts.”
“Food? Air? Spare parts?” asked Mathias.
“Untouched, Commander,” answered Major Marius Tyche, the ship’s operations officer and third in chain of command. “We have stripped Typhon’s holds bare of anything we can possibly use, but there are still tons of supplies on-hand. We might squeeze in a bit more, but for now we are fully stocked, Sir; atmosphere has been exchanged and our water supply topped off, along with frozen provisions from the station for our pantries. I instructed the Chief to kill the power plant again and vent the station to vacuum—just like when we found it.”
“Colonel?” the Commander asked, and the XO nodded.
“We aren’t going to find anymore answers here . . . but I’ve got an itch between my shoulder-blades something fierce, Commander. Rambler and I have been speaking, and we would like to send a recon patrol of Raptors into Cyrannus before we put the ship at risk. Jon?”
The CAG stood again. “Commander, I asked my pilots for volunteers—they all stepped forward. Admittedly, a Raptor is bit more vulnerable than Scorpia herself, but if there is trouble back home, we won’t be risking the crew jumping in absolutely blind. At the moment, we are planning for four Raptors on the mission, one each for the planetary systems around each of the four stars our colonies orbit.”
“That is half our complement, Captain,” Mathias said, but the tone of voice was one of question, not objection.
“Yes, Sir. However, we should know by the traffic pretty fast whether or not anything is wrong. Raptor 101 will deploy into the Erebos Asteroid Field in the Helios Alpha sub-system; from there, it should be able to get a good look at Caprica, Picon, Gemenon, and Tauron. 104 is tasked with Helios Beta, with a destination of the Ouranos Belt for a look at Leonis and Virgon. 105 has been assigned to Helios Gamma, destination of the Acheron Belt. That should allow the crew a good look at Scorpia—but Saggitaron and Libran are on the opposite side of the system. And finally, 107 will enter the rings of Hestia, which shares an orbit with Aerilon and Canceron. From there, they can take a good view of Aquaria as well.” The pilot paused and he shook his head. “This has to be some snafu, Commander; a mix-up with orders mothballing the station. I think we are going to send the Raptors ahead and have the rest of the Fleet laughing at us—but on the off chance that something has happened, this is our best chance for a getting a first look without putting the ship in harm’s way.”
“Two problems with that, gentlemen,” Mathias said as he stood. “A recon patrol will have to jump in without their transponders active—and their DRADIS will be off-line—in order to try and avoid detection. The sensor network we emplaced in the asteroid fields, will, however detect their emergence from FTL. What, if there is nothing wrong, will the Fleet do upon detecting one or more vessels in Cyrannus jumping in with zero emissions and without a transponder?”
Silence answered his question and both Tom and Jon winced, their faces pinched and tight; the Commander confirmed their thoughts with his own nod. “Exactly, they will shoot first and investigate later; and since we have one hundred and nineteen active Battlestars and their escorts patrolling all four of our sub-systems, we will be sending those pilots and birds into a potential shooting gallery.”
“The second problem is that if something is wrong, if the Cylons have crossed the Armistice Line, they could well be patrolling the same areas of space to keep the Fleet from relieving their ground assault on our worlds. And have seeded the belts with their own sensor buoys.”
Six ashen faces jerked as the Commander uttered those words that everyone in the room was thinking.
“We haven’t even detected a Cylon ship in forty years, Commander,” Major Tyche whispered.
“True, and I agree with Rambler that this entire situation is probably a major snafu that is going to cost someone his career,” Mathias said. “But we are examining all of the possibilities. No, gentlemen, the Raptors will jump in—all eight of them—but they will do so in formation with Scorpia. And we will make our FTL jump at Condition One with the guns on-line and hot.”
“What exit coordinates?” asked Tom.
“Damn if I don’t want to jump straight into Picon orbit so I can lambast whatever idiot is behind this,” Mathias said. And then he sighed. “But that might end my service career rather abruptly, if everything back home is nominal. Our orders are to return to the Scorpia Fleet Yards, and that is what we are going to do . . . or close enough to that destination for government work.”
“Sir?” asked Joan.
Mathias bent down and activated the tables map feature, pulling up the Helios Gamma sub-system. “We will exit jump here,” he said pointing to the space outside of the orbit of Scorpia, “ten SU outside of planetary orbit. One point five million klicks should give ample room to detect any hostiles—and if the situation is normal, all fracked up, no one in the Fleet will blame us for exercising caution on our return.”
One by one, the officers nodded their agreement. “Good. Major Church, what is the minimum time required to recalibrate the FTL drives between jumps?”
“By the book? Five minutes is the absolute minimum under regulations, Commander,” she smiled and held up her hand as the Commander started to open his mouth. “I can get it done in two.”
“I knew there was a reason I wanted you on this ship, Denise,” Mathias said with a chuckle. “Final prep for FTL jump in thirty minutes—I want this ship prepared in case we are emerging in the midst of a hostile Fleet. Vipers in the launch tubes and pre-spotted on the elevators for a second launch. Jon, are your pilots capable of doing a zero-acceleration deck launch from the pods as well?”
“Yes, Sir. I can have another ten Vipers spotted and magnetically grappled to the deck in each pod—that will give us twenty-six in the air immediately after launch, with six more in under a minute.”
“Get with the Chief and spot the Vipers—but we will NOT launch unless I give the order. If we have to turn and run, I don’t want to be slowed down with recovery operations—and our pods are not large enough to land our entire complement in a single combat recovery.”
“Good. Then to your stations, gentlemen. Colonel Jayne, I think it is high time we disconnected from the station and moved to a safe distance for FTL operations. Make it so.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
The Raptor emerged from FTL in a flash of light. Sidewinder took two deep breaths as the electronics stabilized and then his instruments gave him a clear reading.
“DRADIS up,” reported Kaboose from the rear compartment. “Reading . . . no contacts in range except for Scorpia and our Raptors; initiating long-range sweep for system traffic.” There was a pause. “No traffic within range—nothing,” the EWOs subdued voice was quiet.
“Full scan—all instruments,” Sidewinder ordered as he altered course on the patrol leg and fired his thrusters in three quick squirts. His bird was the closest to the planet Scorpia of all those deployed at a distance from the Battlestar that, in effect, doubled the range of the DRADIS sensors.
“Starting scan,” Kaboose muttered, and Sidewinder watched as the data began to flow on one of his monitor screens. “Sidewinder, I’m reading . . . it can’t . . . this makes no . . .”
“Pull it together, Kaboose. What are you reading?”
“Zero comm traffic, no FTL signatures, no transmissions . . . this has to be a instrumentation failure, it has to be.”
“WHAT has to be?”
“I am reading high concentrations of radiation coming from the planet, Sidewinder,” the EWO said very quietly. “Very high.”
Stefan Greene—Sidewinder—swallowed and he switched the monitor and blanched as the readouts became apparent. “Run a system diagnostic,” he ordered.
“Yes, sir,” the EWO answered.
“Sidewinder, Jester,” the radio crackled. “You reading what we are reading, boss?”
Sidewinder—a native of Virgon—muttered a short prayer to Hestia and he nodded as he opened the channel. “I wish we weren’t,” he whispered. “Double check your sensors—it could be instrumentation malfunction.”
“On two Raptors at once?” Jester asked, and then after a brief pause. “Running system diagnostic.”
“Sidewinder?” the very quiet voice of Kaboose broke the silence. “System diagnostic has completed the cycle—all green.”
The pilot momentarily closed his eyes as he felt a chill run through his body.
“Scorpia, Sidewinder,” he forced himself to broadcast. “We are reading elevated radiation signatures coming from . . .,” he swallowed, and made himself finish, “the planetary surface. Can you confirm?”
“Roger, Sidewinder; onboard sensors confirm your readings—and Jesters. Wait one,” the radio crackled and then there was a pause. “Sidewinder, Scorpia Actual. I need a pilot to jump in closer for more detailed reading—and dispatch a bird for close scans of Libran and Saggitaron as well.”
“Understood, Scorpia Actual. I will han-. . .,” but he was interrupted by Kaboose.
“DRADIS contact! Bearing 135 mark 10, right at the edge of range—maneuvering for an intercept course . . . NO transponder.”
“Confirm!” snapped Sidewinder as he armed the two missiles, two decoys, and the chaff launchers of his raptor.
“Confirmed, bogey closing fracking fast!”
Sidewinder pressed the throttle forward. “Rely our data to Scorpia, Kaboose. Scorpia, Sidewinder, we have contact with an unidentified bogey closing on our location.”
“Copy that Sidewinder, vectoring Jester and Arclight for missile intercept.”
“Status change! Bogey is altering course . . . now on intercept for Scorpia.”
Sidewinder cursed and he flipped the Raptor end for end and pressed the throttle to the stops. “Scorpia, Sidewinder; bogey in now on an intercept course for you.”
The pilot looked down at his instruments and he concentrated on the red icon floating in his screen, “Almost there,” he whispered as he lifted the safety cover over the button that would fire one of his missiles. “FRACK!” he snapped as the target suddenly began evasive maneuvers. The thing maneuvered like a Viper. “Scorpia, I cannot get a lock. Repeat, cannot get a lock. Bogey should be on your DRADIS . . . NOW.”
Mathias looked grim in the red light of CIC at Condition One. "Load Hydras in Turret Three—order the Raptors to proceed to their recon targets—we will engage the target, Colonel.”
“This is the XO. Turret Three, prepare to engage, load Hydras. Captain Danis, we need a target lock,” Tom barked.
“Fire Direction Control is . . . locked on target,” her voice ended in a questioning tone. “Bogey is no longer evading, still accelerating on an intercept course.”
“Fire!” snapped Mathias. And the order was quickly passed. On the starboard side of Scorpia’s armored nose, a turret swung outwards and locked onto the target. First one, then the second, of the twin barrels spat flame and two high-speed missiles sped away. Larger than the ordnance used by Vipers, the Hydra missile had an extended range with a booster stage—and a far larger warhead; although they were miniscule compared to the anti-ship and orbital bombardment missiles Scorpia carried in her dorsal silos.
“Missiles tracking clean,” sang out Captain Paul Cook from tactical. “Impact in . . . five, four, three, two, FRACK! Bogey has jumped! Missile strike missed the target, aborting run; missile warheads self-destructing.”
“He’s going back to get help,” Tom whispered and Mathias nodded. The XO continued. “The Raptors?”
“Proceed on mission—Sidewinder has Scorpia, Jester Libran, and Arclight Saggitaron.”
“Shall I order the others to meet us at the rendezvous?”
“Not yet, Tom. We still need to confirm who these people are—and whether or not we have lost control of Gamma completely. The Fleet might be in Alpha or Beta, even Delta,” the Commander paused. His chest pounded in agony with the realization that his home, his friends, his family . . . all of it on Scorpia must be gone. That much radiation—it had to be ground burst weapons by the hundreds. But maybe there were still some survivors.
Mathias looked back up. “Order the remaining Raptors to conduct one recon pass over Caprica, Picon, Leonis, Virgon, and Canceron.”
Tom nodded and he jerked his chin at Major Marius Tyche, who began to pass the orders. “Dare we put up a CAP? Without the Raptors, our detection range is halved.”
Mathias picked up the phone. “Rambler, Scorpia Actual. Flush the deck launch—hold the tubes. Assuming Combat Air Patrol stations,” he ordered. “Twenty birds is about our limit for a combat landing if we have to pull out fast,” he said to Tom who nodded.
“Roger that, Scorpia Actual. Launching Vipers now,” the intercom broadcast.
“I love these Valkyrie-class ships, don’t get me wrong, Commander, but some days I do wish they had given some thought into the fact that the flight pods really need a bit more space,” Tom said quietly.
“Count your lucky stars we don’t have to retract them before the ship can active the FTL, Colonel Jayne,” Mathias answered.
“Heaven forbid. All things considered, I suppose Scorpia ain’t a half-bad ga-. . .,”
“MULTIPLE CONTACTS! No Colonial transponders, raid count sixty plus,” Captain Danis called out, and she blanched. “Detecting radiological alert from several of the bogeys, Commander!”
“All weapons free! Defensive fire pattern Alpha-Two when they enter range, maximum fire rate on all batteries that bear—Rambler keep your boys out of our flak!”
Tom Jayne shook his head. “For what we are about to receive,”
“May we be truly thankful,” Mathias finished.
“Commander!” Danis barked from her station as she jerked off her headset. “They are broadcasting!”
“No, sir . . . its . . . it’s . . .,” she flipped a switch and a squeal of sound echoed throughout CIC. It sounded like a computer trying to connect through . . . Mathias cursed. “Cylons! FRACK! Verify firewall integrity.”
“Firewall intact,” Danis answered in a puzzled voice. “They are addressing our Navigation system, Commander. Nothing is happening.”
“Scorpia, Digger,” broadcast Captain Hope Fairchild, the commander of Blue Squadron. “They are coming in fat and happy—no evasive maneuvering,” and her comm suddenly squealed in her ears. “What the frack,” she muttered. The signal ended after a few moments. “Blues, since they so obliging to come in slow and dumb lock missiles on target and prepare to engage,” she said as the range closed. Still the distant fighters were closing slow and steadily, taking no radical maneuvers as the CAP closed on them from the flanks. “Tone,” she said as the missile warhead acquired a target, “light ‘em up!” she ordered as she squeezed the pickle. Two missiles slung underneath her wings dropped away and igniting, racing towards the targets—which appeared completely unprepared! Oh so slowly, they reacted, breaking and weaving but of the forty missiles her squadron fired thirty-one went home and the flashes of explosions in the distance lit the bleakness of space.
She pressed the throttle forward as the twenty-nine surviving bogey’s suddenly accelerated towards Scorpia and she double-checked the range. But the CAG was already ahead of her. “One pass,” Rambler broadcast from the Flight Operations Center, “then clear the flak zone.”
“Let’s go, Blues,” she whispered into the helmet mike as she engaged the three engines in full over-thrust, “arm guns.” And as she said that she flipped the switches that armed her own three 25mm cannons. “You still with me, Firefly?”
“Won’t get rid of me without a divorce, Digger,” her wingman answered, and then her voice changed. “What the frack are those?”
Hope was thinking the same thing as she squeezed the trigger and flames spat from the three barrels of her guns, the illuminated tracers glowing as they streaked towards the extremely curved u-shaped body of her targets—and then she saw the glowing, cascading red eye. “Frack me,” she broadcast. “Cylons aren’t piloting these fighters—they are the fighters!” Finally her target broke away and Digger followed it in a sharp turn, her guns spitting out burst after burst and then it exploded—quickly followed by the second Cylon raider who had crossed over onto her tail.
“Thanks for the assist, Firefly.”
“You ain’t leaving me without a divorce either, Digger. No way in Hades I’m flying this war with a rook on my wing.”
The pass shot down another sixteen of the Raiders, but of the remainder a dozen continued to bore in on Scorpia—and their missile launch doors opened and the Mk VI Viper’s radiation alarm sounded.
Only one Raider didn’t close, with a flash of light it vanished as it engaged its FTL drive and jumped away.
Thirty-six missiles were fired—but they opened up at the same time as Scorpia. And the hail of fire coming off of the small Battlestar was clearly not expected. Only two missiles got close enough to salvage fuse—neither inflicted any damage other momentarily jamming the ship’s DRADIS. None of the twelve Cylon Raiders survived as the flak bursts tore through them and their missiles.
“Scorpia, Digger. One got away, probably gone to whistle up the rest of the toasters.”
“Digger, Scorpia Actual—you have confirmation of Cylons?”
“Affirmative, Scorpia Actual; they don’t look like the ones from the last war, but frack me if that wasn’t a Cylon.”
Mathias sighed. “Time to come on home before they get their act together and send more than sixty fighters against us, Digger,” he racked the phone. “Spin up the FTL, Colonel Jayne—as soon as we recover our fighters we are heading to the rendezvous.”
“This is the XO, spin up the FTL Drives. All hands prepare for combat landing and FTL jump.” He too racked his phone.
“Basestars on the way—they ain’t dumb. You’d think that if we made something we would make it dumb enough to make mistakes, but we didn’t. What does that say about our intelligence?”
“It says we’re human and that even our brilliant people frack up on occasion, Tom.” The commander looked back over at Danis. “Any thoughts on that transmission?”
“I’ve scanned the systems—no trace of a virus, Commander, no worms, no nothing. It was like they were sending a command, not actually transmitting a computer virus. But whatever they were trying to do, it’s like . . . we don’t have what they expected.”
“The CNP upgrade,” Mathias whispered. “The upgrade we haven’t received. The transmission was directed at our Nav system, right?”
Tom stood still and he shook his head. “You think they planted a backdoor in our systems? How the frack could they manage that?”
“I don’t know, Tom, and that scares the hell out of me,” he said quietly.
“Blue Squadron is inbound for landing,” Rambler reported.
But before Mathias could respond, Danis cursed. “Multiple contacts—three, no correction, four basestars and raiders . . . eight hundred plus raiders, more launching, closing FAST.”
The Commander looked up at the DRADIS and they were still outside of weapons range. “Colonel, jump the second Blue Squadron is on the deck.”
Tom Jayne snapped his fingers and Major Tyche inserted the jump key and nodded. “Coordinates plotted, FTL drives are green." His fingers rested on the keys that would cause space-time to fold upon itself and send Scorpia to a far distant point.
“Combat landings, people! Move!” Digger broadcast as her DRADIS display lit up behind her—and she blanched. “Too many uninvited guests, Firefly.”
“Frack me, if that ain’t right, Digger.”
The two Vipers were the final ones in the landing formation—for a combat landing of this nature, there wouldn’t be time to call the ball (which wasn’t a ball at all, but instead a series of different colored lights that the pilots used to assume the proper angle for descent to the flight deck). And the automated landing system was far, far too slow for this situation. No, Blue Squadron would have to do this the old fashioned way—the hard way.
One by one, the Vipers entered the two flight pods and reverse thrusters killed their speed until they banged their skids down on the flight deck, magnetic grapples locking them into place. All it would take would be one pilot, one malfunctioning Viper, and half a squadron could die from this maneuver.
Hope and her wingman streaked into the cavernous flight pod and then the reverse acceleration threw her hard forward against the straps that held her in place; she lowered the skids and thrust down as she slowed, and her Viper bounced once on the deck and skidded to a halt, trailing sparks. To her right, Firefly sat down without so much as making the deck vibrate.
“BLUES DOWN!” she snapped as the grapples locked her Viper and Firefly’s into place—and then the world twisted as Scorpia jumped away ahead of the oncoming missile storm.
Cavil turned away from the control screen and he cocked his head to one side. “I believe that you, Two, confirmed that we eliminated all of the Colonial Fleet ships except for Galactica and Pegasus which continue to plague us. What was that? Gemenon cheese?”
The model of humanoid Cylon known to the colonists as Leoben shook his head. “I checked the records—we accounted for all of their ships known to be on active duty.”
“It might not be Two’s fault,” said the Three, also known as D’Anna. “We unfortunately never got an agent inside the Picon Headquarters—and our nuclear strikes there eliminated all of their records. If this vessel was on a covert assignment, it might have been removed from the roster.
“And what would you suggest we do?” One asked as he waved his hands. “Just let them go?”
“Do I look like a Six?”
“No, you are not attractive enough,” said the Six present.
“Let us not start this again,” said the Four known by the name Simon. “We must prevent them from making contact with the other survivors. That means we should dispatch a force to pursue and destroy them. That objective should take priority.”
“Agreed,” chimed in the Five, known as Doral. “They were unaffected by the our program modifications—so if they have been absent that implies that they have been gone for more than . . . twenty months?”
“The final ship to receive the upgrade was converted eight months ago—a month before our attack,” said the Eight who wore the body of Sharon Valerii. “Six was supposed to disable Pegasus—but she failed, as Five did with Galactica.”
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, my dear. At least, one of my models did not abandon our people for the love of a human," Six said in an acrid tone as Five glared sternly at the Eight.
“Enough,” snapped One. “It is agreed then. We will find these survivors and we will destroy them. If they have been out there for a year, then they will need supplies—redeploy the Fleet to cover all known stations which can provide them with anything. And,” he sighed, “send FIVE basestars and their Raiders in pursuit.”
“Five?” asked Three. “That was a small Battlestar, One.”
“Yes. This time, I am taking no chances, Three. Any other objections?”
“Good. Then let us begin.”
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
Viper Mk VI
I am using this version of the Viper Mk VII seen late in the series as the earlier Mk VI. It is shorter than the Mk VII and probably lacked some of the electronics, although it carried three KEWs just like the latter Viper. I know that it is (in canon) technically just another (different) look of a Mk VII, but I am having it as Pegasus turning out the "simpler" Mk VI once their stocks of parts for the Mk VIIs start running low.
This is what little data I've managed to assemble on her (most is pure conjecture):
Overall Length: 725 meters
Crew: ~1500 (including 100 Marines and 120 flight crew)
Air Wing (at full strength): 60 Mk VI Vipers, 8 Raptors, 4 Shuttles (30 Vipers, 4 Raptors, and 2 Shuttles per Flight Pod)
Armament: 12 Twin Heavy KEW (Kinetic Energy Weapons) Turrets, 2 Twin Heavy KEW/Missile Launch Turrets, 26 Twin Light KEW Turrets, 60 Point-Defense Batteries (4 guns per battery), 6 VLS Missile Silos (Space-to-surface), 4 Missile Tubes (Anti-Ship)
I am not a Battlestar Galactica geek by any means. I watched the shows, but I am no expert. So if you see something wrong; tell me. I don't mind advice.
The Orion and Hekla class ships (my name, because we are never told what class Prometheus belonged to in the civilian fleet). And the Scylla/Cybele type of transport . . . because that will be coming up shortly.
Orion-class Battlestar and Battlestar Osiris with more pictures.
The Kimba Huta-class, known as the Kimba Huta type in canon. Galactica's rag-tag fleet had at least THREE of this class: Kimba Huta, Gememon Traveler, and Thera Sita. So it must have been pretty common.
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
Working on call-signs for the pilots. Right now I have got the following:
Angel, Arclight, Axe, Backfire, Banshee, Blaster, Bones, Breaker, Buster, Candyman, Chainsaw, Chutes, Cocktail, Digger, Doghouse, Dutch, Eight-Ball, Firefly, Ghost, Gremlin, Hardcase, Hard-Six, Heater, Jester, Juggler, Juice, Jumper, Kaboose, Mace, Maddog, Packrat, Pancake, Pappy, Poacher, Rambler, Ratchet, Rattler, Razor, Redeye, Reverend, Ripcord, Ruffles, Saint, Scorch, Shaft, Sidewinder, Skids, Slapshot, Spitfire, Sweets, Tally, Tassels, Thumper, Thunder, Torch, Trigger, Vandal, Voodoo, Whiplash, Wrongway, Zapper, and Zipper.
EDIT: Removed Jammer and Showboat; both were used aboad either Galactica or Pegasus. Added Hardcase and Gremlin by Antagonist. Added Banshee, Buster, Jumper, Ratchet, and Zapper by Centron. Added Juice (instead of Steroid) by QQ.
Now, I've got 60 Viper Pilots, 8 Raptor Pilots, 8 Raptor EWOs, and 12 Shuttle crew to get call-signs for. That is 88 in total. I've got 62, so I need another 28 (at least another 28; Commander Lorne and Colonel Jayne are former pilots as well and there are others among the crew as well). Any suggestions? Any that you hate? Any not fit the universe? No duplicates of ones from BSG, Razor, The Plan, or Blood & Chrome, please (and let me know if I duplicated any). :)
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
I have fixed some continuity errors in the earlier posts; mainly dealing with ranks where I started calling someone one rank and then it changed. My bad.
And since I have never before done this for any of my stories (but have been asked, here is a little bonus package to help keep things straight. I will update this as new characters get introduced.
Commander Mathias Lorne. Callsign "Gremlin". A native of the colony of Scorpia in his late 40s, Commander Lorne is the commanding officer of Battlestar Scorpia. Rather short (just 5' 7") he is heavily built with a frame that has a tendancy to turn muscle to fat quite quickly if he lets it. He had a wife and two daughters on Scorpia before the Holocaust.
Colonel Thomas Jayne. Callsign "Torch". Born and raised on Tauron, Colonel Jayne is the man who keeps Scorpia running at peak efficiency as the executive officer. He has never married, but had numerous brothers and sisters and nephews and neices on Tauron. Tom Jayne is 44.
Major Samantha Caldwell. CO of Battlestar Anubis
Major Marius Tycle. Callsign "Doghouse". Operations officer and third in command.
Major John Banaeck. Callsign "Rambler". Senior Viper pilot and CAG aboard Scorpia.
Major Denise Church. Engineering officer of Scorpia.
Captain Liam Aisne. CO of Scorpia's Marine company.
Captain Paul Cook. Tactical/gunnery officer of Scorpia.
Captain Joan Danis. From Aquaria, the willowy red-head is the resident electrical/computer wizard of Scorpia's crew, and serves as the DRADIS officer, as well as handling communications. She is in her late 20s and was engaged, with plans to marry after the end of her tour in four months times. Her mother, sister, and twin nieces died on Aquaria.
Captain Hope Fairchild. Callsign "Digger". Viper pilot and CO of Blue Squadron.
Captain Stefan Greene. Callsign "Sidewinder". Native of Virgon. Commander of the Raptor Squadron aboard Scorpia.
Lieutenant Shiro Gian. Supply Officer aboard Scorpia
Lieutenant Andrew Martens. Callsign "Jester". Raptor pilot and XO of the Raptor Squadron.
Lieutenant (j.g.) Michael Jamussa. Callsign "Kaboose". EWO aboard a Raptor.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Sinclair. Chief of the Flight Deck and senior NCO for Scorpia.
Anton Laveride. Head of the Laveride Syndicate; deceased
Jon Namer. Leader of Saggitaron Freedom Movement survivors
Doctor Neil Sarris. A native of Picon, the head of the scientific research team is in his early '50s. A humanist often at odds with the military crew of the Battlestar, he is (nonetheless) not a pacificist and realizes the need for men and weapons of war. He is an astrophysicist by training.
Daniel. A traumatized young man adopted by the Saggitaron Freedom Movement and Battlestar Anubis. An artist and a painter.
That is what I've got for now. I will update this list as new characters appear.
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
Episode 2: The Bitter Dregs
The images taken by the Raptors continued to flash across the screen one after the next, even though no one seated in the briefing room cared to look upon them anymore. Not Mathias, not his stoic Tauron XO, nor any of his officers—and most especially not the commander of the Raptors and his senior pilot.
The ash-filled atmospheres, the jagged craters when a clear view of the surface presented itself, the utter lack of any source of power upon the surfaces of the Twelve Colonies painted a bleak picture that filled these men and women with utter despair. But despite the sickness filling them, Mathias continued to flash back and forth among the images. Aerilon—burnt and blackened, its fertile fields consumed in nuclear fire. Frigid Aquaria, now cloaked in a winter more ferocious than nature ever intended, her few survivors frozen when the Cylons destroyed the power plants. Bleak Canceron, with her crowded streets and mighty factories, a post-apocalyptic wasteland where Cylon Centurions hunted down the few radiation-poisoned survivors in an urban warzone that stretched across the globe. Caprica—the capital destroyed, but nearby Delphi irradiated but otherwise untouched, the streets filled with marching Centurions—perhaps searching for something.
Gemenon—Caprica’s twin world. Nothing remained alive on her surface—not plants, nor animals, nor man. The entire planet and her mighty temples scoured clean by the fires of fusion. Leonis the Proud. Now her mighty cities had fallen and her endless fields and prairies and magnificent vineyards lay in ruin. Libran with her courts and justice had found no justice in her end. Her monuments were shattered scraps of marble, and her libraries just charcoal and ash. Picon was caught in the midst of winter—although it should have been high summer there. Less than a quarter of her watery surface was dry land—and the Cylon bombardment had been thorough. Of the Colonial Fleet Headquarters, only a crater ten kilometers wide and hundreds of meters deep had been left.
Saggitaron, the world which had spawned a distrust of medicine and home to the major terrorist organization of the day; it’s peoples no longer needed to worry about the relative wealth between their Colony and the ‘elites’—because there were no more people. Scorpia—and Mathias swallowed heavily as pictures of the jungles and beaches he knew and loved were overlapped with blast radii and craters carved into the soil. Normally too warm for snow, the entire planet was covered in a clouds bearing an acid rain laden with lingering death from the radiation. Tauron the Great—an arid, harsh, unforgiving world that birthed an industrious people. Here too, there were signs of Cylon occupation amid the ruins of cities and industry; but maybe some of her people had survived in the Deep Caverns. Virgon and her rich cities and endless cold forests was now blanketed in snow from the millions of tons of irradiated soil thrown up into the atmosphere.
And everywhere in every orbit, there were the broken hulks of the Fleet. They must have been caught at anchor in many cases, blasted apart by nuclear warheads and missile strikes; but not a single Cylon Basestar among the derelicts. Not one.
“Colonel Jayne, log that on this day, I, Commander Mathias Lorne of the Battlestar Scorpia, the senior known surviving officer of the Colonial Fleet do hereby award the Medal of Distinction to Lieutenants Stefan Greene and Andrew Martens for their initiative and bravery in performing additional recon flights over the colonies of Aerilon, Aquaria, Gemenon, and Tauron. We will have the ceremony later, Sidewinder,” Mathias added to the pilot, as the XO duly logged the command. Sidewinder just nodded. In this compartment, both he and Jester were very junior officers—and junior officers in the Colonial Fleet were seen, not heard.
“Medals? The Colonies are dead and you are handing out medals?” snapped Major Tyche.
“That is enough!” thundered Colonel Jayne.
“Tom,” Mathias said quietly. “Major, the Colonies are gone—we cannot change that. All we can do is carry on—and if awarding these two brave men, who made two more jumps into enemy occupied space apiece to get these images and scans is what is required for us to do that, I will.”
Marius sat back in his chair and he nodded. “I apologize, Sir. It will not happen again.”
Mathias stood, as the images continued their slide-show of horror. “The Colonies are gone—the Fleet is gone. But we have indications that some of our people might have survived. On Caprica, Tauron, and Virgon our Raptors detected faint transmissions—human in origin; it appears as if survivors are trying to let others know they are not alone out there. We detected no emissions from the other nine Colonies.” Including my own, Mathias thought, but did not say aloud.
“Sir,” Major Tyche said in soft voice, as if he were ashamed of what he was about to utter. “We cannot rescue them—we don’t have enough Raptors, and the shuttles will be sitting ducks as slow and difficult to maneuver as they are. And if we jump back in there, we are going to be attracting a whole lot of attention—the recon flights show at least thirty Basestars in the colonies—plus the four that came after us. THIRTY! I’m all for a good fight, but that is a bit too much for this ship to handle on her own. And it might be a Cylon trap. Sir.”
“Abandon any survivors to the Cylons, Marius?” asked the chief engineer—Major Denise Church. “By the Gods, don’t you know what they did to our people in the first war? We have an obligation to those peo-. . .,”
“We have an obligation to our own crew! You think I don’t know what is happening down there,” and tears were streaming down his cheeks—Marius, a native of Virgon who was talking about leaving behind people he might well know . . . or love. “But committing suicide isn’t going to save them.”
“There are a number of smaller outposts which might still have survivors,” Doctor Sarris said quickly, both to change the subject and turn people’s attention away from the crying officer. “Very small—few have more than a handful of people . . . and seven months without regular supply runs from the Cyrannus most of them will already be dead. Except for Charon.”
“Charon? I know the myth, but I have never heard of an outpost named Charon,” chimed in Tom Jayne.
“I know. That is because it was settled by smugglers, criminals, and,” the Doctor paused, took a deep breath, and then continued, “members of the SFM.”
Chaos exploded around the table at those three innocuous letters. The Saggitaron Freedom Movement was one of the few terrorist organizations left in the Colonies. Many of its most infamous leaders—such as Tom Zarek—had been captured and imprisoned for life; but the movement still committed acts of violence aimed at political reform. Supposed political reform; many thought they were homicidal maniacs showing off their nihilism.
And all members of the SFM were (almost) universally hated by the officers of the Fleet who often were called upon to clean up after their bombings.
“Blood damn Provos,” muttered Captain Liam Aisne, the commander of Scorpia’s marine company. “Let the Cylons have them.”
Neil Sarris glared at the marine—who just stared straight back, and finally the scientist sighed. “They are human beings, Captain. Commander, I am not a member of the SFM—had I been the government would never have put me in charge of the research team on this expedition. But I know people who belong to the political wing of the SFM,” Sarris sat back and lit a cigarette. “You said you don’t have enough Raptors—fine. They have Raptors. They have a FTL capable ship. They have ground troops—not marines—but troops that might be willing to fight the Cylons and rescue our people.”
Mathias held up his hand. And slowly silence descended over the briefing room. “They may have already been discovered or they might have departed this Charon. How many are there, Doctor?”
“Six or seven hundred, last I heard.”
The Commander sat back and he nodded. “At the least we will confirm whether or not there are survivors there—then I will make a decision. For now, we have to break the news of this to the crew.”
“Rumor mill is already in full swing, Commander,” said Tom bleakly. “And the Raptor pilots have been back aboard for hours now—everyone knows.”
“They still need to hear it from me—and to hear what we are going to do.”
Mathias killed the projector and he slid a new map display of stellar coordinate into place. “Right now we are here—in the middle of nowhere. Deep interstellar space. I am betting that the Cylons are in pursuit . . .,”
“You think?” muttered Tom.
“IN pursuit, ladies and gentlemen. Probably hitting all nearby habitable worlds they have on their charts—if we don’t have Charon, they might not. But they could be inspecting all the systems surrounding Cyrannus. But here in the deep black, they haven’t a prayer of finding us.”
Denise snorted. “And if something goes wrong with the drives, we haven’t a prayer of making the closest star in our lifetime, even if we had the air, water, and food for a voyage of that length. They won’t look here because they very idea anyone would do this is insane.”
“Which is why we are here,” Mathias answered with a shrug. “Let’s give them some time to expand their search outwards, while I address the crew. Then,” he said nodding to Sarris, “we will go find the good Doctor’s friends and see if we can work out a deal. Regardless, people, we are not leaving our own behind. We are at war, and have been for the past seven months even though we haven’t known about it—and I aim to make the Cylons realize that the Fleet isn’t a target on a shooting range. That shooting at us is a sure way to get hurt fast.”
Growls answered that statement as his officers nodded their agreement, but the XO sighed and he leaned forward. It was his job to bring up reality, after all.
“It’s risky, Sir,” said Tom. “With the science team, we’ve got sixteen hundred people on this ship—specs say the maximum complement our life support and waste reprocessing systems can handle is three thousand. Even if that number is conservative—and it is—we simply don’t have room for more than . . . forty-five hundred?” he asked.
And the engineer sighed. “Maybe, but we will all be hot-bunking and air circulation and CO2 scrubbing will take a major hit.”
“We will cross that bridge when we come to it—but if we can get survivors off of the colonies, ladies and gentlemen, we will. Our oaths demand it—our lives for theirs. That is the bargain we made when we put this uniform on.”
One by one each officer and Doctor Sarris nodded. “Our lives for theirs,” repeated Tom. “So say we all.”
“So say we all,” they answered.
“SO SAY WE ALL!” the XO barked.
“SO SAY WE ALL!” came the thunderous response.
Mathias nodded. “Assume your stations—Doctor Sarris, join me in CIC after you make certain your people have been briefed. I want you there when we arrive at Charon.”
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
Mathias walked into the CIC and his people were quiet—several looked up and he could see the swollen red eyes . . . and the anger smoldering in those tear-filled eyes. Oh yes, the anger.
He walked around the room, taking a moment to look each and every man and woman present in the eye and he completed his journey standing beside the executive officer he had come to depend on as his strong right arm. He reached up and unracked the phone, holding it upside, the cord gripped in his hand as well as the phone itself.
“Open the 1MC, Colonel Jayne,” he said formally. And his XO reached up and set the communication system.
“Number One Main Circuit for shipboard address is now open, Commander Lorne,” Tom replied.
“All hands,” Mathias said, his voice echoing through the intercoms in every compartment of the ship. “This is the Commander. By now, you have heard the scuttlebutt—and it is true. The Colonies were attacked by the Cylons while we were on our mission. The Fleet is gone. Every last one of our colony worlds has been struck by multiple nuclear weapons. There may be a handful of survivors—but only a handful. More than thirty-one billion human beings have been annihilated by the Cylons. Our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our children, our husbands, our wives, our friends, our family—deprived of their life, their liberty, their happiness.”
“They are gone. Mourn them. There is no shame in mourning their passing. There is no shame in admitting to yourself that your heart is breaking with the weight of this moment. Not now, not ever, not on this Battlestar. No shame in mourning, no shame in tears, no shame in heartache.”
Mathias looked directly at Joan Danis sitting at DRADIS station with tears pouring down her face as she held the pictures of her nieces in her hand.
“We are too late to save our families, but we may not be too late to save others. There are survivors. Survivors on the Colonies and on Outposts throughout this region of space. And I will be DAMNED by the Gods if I allow a single one of them to die when I can stop it.”
“But to do that, I need you. I need each and every one of you from the black gang to the deck gang to the cooks and the gunners and the electricians and the Marines and the pilots and the chaplains aboard this Battlestar. I need you. The survivors need you to save them before the Cylons finish the job of killing us all.”
“We could run. Run until our fuel and air and water is exhausted. But I will not leave behind one soul that we can save. We cannot leave behind one soul, when we have the power to save that human life. Mourn for your loss, but as you mourn, remember what evil was behind this attack. Remember that it was the Cylons who attacked us, who came here with the intention of destroying US. For the sin of giving them life—they hate us, and they fear us, and they have just tried to annihilate us.”
“That angers me. This attack angers me, and if I know you, it angers you. And I NEED you to grab that anger and to use it! To stand me with and the Battlestar Scorpia and FIGHT!” his voiced thundered from bulkhead to bulkhead.
“We could run. But we will not. We will not because we took an oath when we enlisted in the Fleet and the Corps. We swore before the Gods that never again would the civilians suffer—that it was to be our lives for theirs! The Fleet failed to live up to that oath. Battlestar Scorpia WILL NOT FAIL. We will return. We will send these Cylons screaming into their electronic Hell. We will recover the survivors. And we will survive—if for nothing more than to spite them.”
“WE ARE AT WAR! And we will leave NO ONE behind!”
“So say we all!”
“SO SAY WE ALL!” the crew cried out so loudly that it seemed as if the ship itself quivered.
“FTL Jump in one hour—until then . . . mourn. Share you loss with your shipmates—bear some of their burden that weighs so heavy upon them. But when this hour expires, that time of mourning must end. And the time to fight will have begun.”
And Mathias racked the phone. “Colonel Jayne, you have the conn,” he said as he walked to the hatch leading into CIC, the Marine Guards snapping to attention as he passed.
“I have the conn,” Tom barked, his face set and emotionless. “If you need to cry call your relief—I want sharp eyes on the DRADIS,” he ordered. “Report any contacts immediately.”
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
Scorpia appeared in orbit above the ice-clad moon of a gas giant in a flash of light—two smaller flashes marked the arrival of a pair of Raptors. The prism of light reflecting the orange sun through the rings of the planet danced along their hulls—and they were not alone.
“Contact!” reported Danis. “One vessel in orbit—picking up civilian transponder and emissions matching Hekla-class civilian freighter . . . wait one . . . intermittent second contact, very faint—no transponder, same orbit.”
“Captain Cook, keep our guns trained on them. Captain Danis, watch their FTL power curse—inform me immediately if they are charging the drives,” Mathias said. “Launch the Vipers.”
“Launch the ready Vipers,” Tom repeated, and six Mk VI Vipers accelerated out of the launch tubes.
“Weapons lock on the Hekla,” Paul reported from tactical, “cannot lock up the second vessel with FDC, but the guns are covering her on manual targeting.”
“Scorpia, Arclight,” the wireless broadcast. “Confirm two vessels in orbit—transmitting visuals now.”
Mathias and Tom turned towards the small screen as the static cleared and a video image of the two ships appeared. The first was indeed one of the more common civilian freighters designed to carry cargo and passengers between the Colonies. The second . . .
Tom whistled. “Where in the Hells did they manage to find an Orion-class Battlestar?”
The commander frowned and he turned his head towards Joan Danis. “Adjust DRADIS and the targeting and tracking arrays for Mu-band ranging.”
“That did it, Commander,” she reported. “We have a lock on both vessels—DRADIS range has been reduced by forty-three percent, however.”
“It is not really surprising, Colonel,” said Doctor Sarris. “The Orions were the smallest Battlestars ever constructed—a third the size of Scorpia—and their DRADIS absorbing hulls are difficult to detect at all but the shortest of ranges with standard frequencies. Since they were all decommissioned three decades ago and sent to the breakers, it would only have taken one supervisor paid off to ‘lose’ one of the ships scheduled for scrapping.”
“Open a channel to the surface,” Mathias ordered as he picked up the phone. “This is Commander Mathias Lorne of the Battlestar Scorpia. We have target lock on both of your ships—any attempt to flee or hostile action on your part will result in your immediate destruction. We are monitoring your FTL power levels, do not try us.”
“That wasn’t very friendly,” Doctor Sarris whispered, and he subsided as Mathias glared at him.
“That being said, we aren’t here to take you into custody—we need to talk. Respond.”
Only static came through the wireless. “We know that you are down there, and unless you want to sit there until the Cylons get around to locating us—and you—I would pick up the wireless and talk to me.”
There was another long pause of static, and but then the wireless crackled and a woman’s voice came through. “I don’t suppose you are going to give us much of a choice, are you Scorpia? We are listening.”
“Doctor, you know these people,” Mathias said as he held out the phone.
“Know? I don’t these people, Commander—I know people who know these people. They probably do not know me.”
Mathias just shook his head and lifted the phone as Tom muttered a curse under his breath—a very profane curse that might just have driven a Gemenon Priest to physical violence! “We know of your connections to organized crime and the SFM; that doesn’t concern us. We would like to sit down with you and discuss your—our—situation.”
“In regards to the Cylons?” the speaker said again.
“If I say no will you go away?”
“Then come on down, Scorpia. I’ll talk with you—one Raptor. No Marines. And I have SAMs and troops down here, so no tricks.”
“And I have a fully stocked Battlestar—a modern Battlestar, not your antique toy—with a full company of Marines and three squadrons of Vipers. I would suggest you remember that before you begin issuing threats.”
“Have your Raptor follow the beacon, Scorpia,” and with that the transmission simply cut off at the source.
“I have their surface beacon,” Danis said and then she chuckled.
Colonel Jayne turned towards her—he had not been prepared to hear her laughing. “Care to tell the rest of us what you find so amusing, Captain?”
“Their beacon, Colonel,” and she laughed again. “It’s broadcasting in signal code,” and her shoulders quivered, “and you could learn a few new curses from it, Colonel. There are some here I’ve never heard.”
Jayne shook his head and he turned back to the central console. “Well, they have a sense of humor, at least. I’ll report to the flight deck, Sir.”
“Hold on, Tom. I’ll need you here, because I’m going down to speak with her.”
“Now wait just a damn minute, Sir,” Tom began, but the Commander cut him off.
“The decision has been made, Colonel. Have Sidewinder’s Raptor prepped; he and Kaboose will be the all the guards that Doctor Sarris and I need.”
Tom shook his head again, but the words out of his mouth were, “Aye, aye, Sir.”
“I’m going? You want me to go down there—with you?” asked Doctor Sarris.
“This was your idea, Doctor. So if they decide to shoot me, then you should get shot as well. That’s only fair, is it not?”
Sarris simply stared, not quite certain if the Commander was joking or not, and the blood drained from his face.
“Seriously, if there is an outside chance that anyone down there knows you—and the people you know that know them—then I need you. Tom, I want copies of the images and the signals intercepts from the Colonies to take down there.”
“At least take an aide, Sir. A combat-trained aide,” Tom whispered as he snapped his fingers.
“I’ll have a Pilot and an EWO, and I seem to remember something in my training about combat as well—yes?”
“Sir,” he answered sourly.
“Who do you want, Tom?” Mathias said with a sigh.
“Lieutenant Gian. Outside of the Marines, he is the best at hand-to-hand in the crew. And he is a good shot as well,” the Colonel answered quickly and quietly.
“Have him issued a sidearm and report to the flight deck, Colonel. You have the conn,” Mathias paused and he smiled. “Of course, if they take me hostage, then you can come down with the Marines and save my ass.”
“Like Hell, Sir. That happens, this is my Battlestar,” Tom said with a chuckle. And the Commander joined him.
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
Sidewinder looked over in mild surprise as the Commander sat down in the co-pilot’s seat—wearing a flight suit and secured helmet. Mathis turned towards him and cocked an eyebrow. “Mind if I ride up here, Sidewinder?”
The Raptor commander shook his head and turned back to his instruments. “When was the last time you qualified on a Raptor, Gremlin?” he asked, deliberately using the Commander’s call-sign.
Mathias chuckled. “It’s like riding a bike, Sidewinder. Or your first love—you never forget.”
“Roger, Gremlin. In that case, strap in and let’s run down the checklist—Kaboose, the rest of our guests secured?”
“Good to go, Sidewinder,” the EWO said as he closed and sealed the hatch and took his own seat.
The pilot and his commander—now his copilot—quickly ran through both the internal and external checklist, with all systems reporting green. He looked out the window and held up three fingers spread wide; Chief Sinclair yelled out instructions at the deck gang. A small tractor pulled the Raptor until she was seated atop of one of the elevator pads and disengaged the pull-bar before driving away. “Engage magnetic grapples, Gremlin,” Sidewinder ordered.
“Grapples engaged—good lock.”
Now Sidewinder held up his first and last finger and the deck gang rushed back to the ordnance mounted in the ventral bay and underneath the wings. When they came out, they held up one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven tags; two red, two green, two blue, and one black each on a chain with a plug at their end. “Ordnance safeties removed and visually confirmed, Flight,” he broadcast. “Close ventral bay door,” he ordered.
“Bay doors . . . closed,” Mathias replied as there was a thud beneath the Raptor and the doors sealed over the two drones and two missiles within. They—and the external pair of chaff launchers and the starboard KEW pod—could now be armed; until the safety devices were removed those munitions (both offensive and defensive) were just dead-weight. They couldn’t be armed or fired as long as the safeties were in place—removing them was the final step in prepping a bird for flight. He looked out the window again and held up a single thumb, and Chief saluted as the elevator began to rise, carrying the Raptor first to the airlock, and then to the deck above. The flashing yellow lights within the lock signaled that vacuum lay on the other side and the Raptor shuddered as the elevator locked into place, sealing off the atmosphere-filled hanger below. He looked up and the deck plates above parted, and then the upper half of the elevator began rising again until his bird was flush with the rest of the flight-deck.
“Flight Control, Sidewinder, requesting permission to depart port flight pod.”
“Sidewinder, Flight Control, you are go for launch—airspace is clear. Good hunting,” the voice of the CAG came back over the wireless.
“Release magnetic grapples,” Sidewinder ordered as he ramped up the ventral thrusters.
“Grapples disengaged,” Gremlin replied and the Raptor lifted up into the emptiness of space in the brilliantly clear airless void of the Flight Deck.
He tapped the thrusters twice and the Raptor accelerated down the deck directly over the inboard lane.
“We have cleared the pod,” Gremlin said as the Raptor flew into the space forward of the flight pod.
“Scorpia, Sidewinder. We have cleared the pod and are maneuvering for atmospheric insertion.”
“Copy that, Sidewinder. Is Gremlin on VOX?”
“Gremlin, Scorpia Two.”
“Go Two,” the Commander answered.
“Watch your ass down there; I don’t want your job that bad.”
“Copy, Two. Gremlin out.”
“Here we go,” Sidewinder said as he pressed the throttles forward as well as the stick, and the Raptor’s nosed dipped as it accelerated toward the small planet below. “I hope you packed your parka, Gremlin—meteorology said its fifteen below at the landing beacon.”
“Parkas for everyone are in the troop bay, Sidewinder. Approaching atmospheric interface—ionization levels rising—wireless blackout in fifteen.”
“We’re in the pipe,” the pilot said as the nose began to glow and steam clouds streaked away mixed with the fires of reentry.
“High-altitude turbulence ahead,” the commander said from the right seat.
“I see it,” said Sidewinder crisply, “everyone best be strapped in back there—coming up on some nasty chop.”
The freight-train roar of the plasma fires shook the Raptor hard, but the veteran pilot kept a steady hand on the throttle and controls—and then small recon vessel shuddered, bucked, and dropped faster than the flight path allowed for, before rising just as abruptly on the thermal updrafts on the far side. “Lots of chop,” he said.
The Raptor soared down through the thick cloud cover and drops of ice and rain covered the cockpit panes. “Deicing on,” said Gremlin.
“Let’s bleed off a bit more speed, deploy air-brakes.”
“Air-brakes deployed,” Gremlin answered and every slammed forward into their retraining straps as the Raptor’s velocity plummeted.
Sidewinder watch as the speed and altitude gauges fell and then he nodded. “Retract air-brakes,” he ordered.
Suddenly the clouds broke and a wintery expanse opened up beneath the Raptor. “Approaching landing beacon,” said Gremlin. “Heading Zero Three Two, range forty-one klicks.”
“Got it. Not a very inviting place to live, is it, Gremlin?” he asked.
“No. Which probably means it is a really good place to hide, Sidewinder.”
The two flew silently for the next few moments and then Sidewinder spotted it. “They’ve illuminated our designated landing area with ground flares. Charon, Raptor One Zero One; we are on final approach from the south-south-west at speed One Seven Four, passing altitude Seventeen and descending. Request landing instructions.”
“Raptor One Zero One, you are clear to land—pick a patch of snow. Winds east steady at Two Two, gusting to Four Zero,” the wireless broadcast.
“Vicious cross-wind,” muttered Gremlin.
“Copy that, Charon,” said Sidewinder. “Deploy landing skids.”
“Deploying landing skids.”
The Raptor continued to slow and drop in altitude as she came in over the uneven marked area—Sidewinder diverted power from the main thrusters to the ventral thrusters to keep her up and flying once they had hit stall speed; the loose snow on the ground scattering between the exhaust of his thrusters and the wind as he settled the Raptor into a hover over the marked coordinates. And gently set the bird down on the solid rock and packed frozen earth beneath.
He leaned back in his seat and spun down the engines, killing the systems one-by-one. “Nice flying with you Gremlin,” he said.
“Any day I can crawl in a cockpit is a good day, Sidewinder. Kaboose, pass out those parkas. Doctor Sarris, how are you doing back there?”
“Gremlin, Kaboose. The Doctor really didn’t like the chop—he’s throwing up.”
Sidewinder groaned and Gremlin chuckled as he unbuckled the straps. And through the cockpit panes he could make out heavily bundled forms approaching. “Looks like our welcoming committee is here. Let’s meet them before the natives get restless.”
“Hope they aren’t hungry,” muttered Sidewinder. “Be damned if I get killed by a bunch of cannibals before I get a shot at a Basestar.”
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
Their hosts ushered the Colonials out of the frigid conditions and into a nearby cave mouth; an airlock was installed within, Mathias noted. Someone had done some planning. Large enough to accommodate all five of the Colonials and their dozen or so ‘escorts’ and ‘guides’, the Colonial Commander felt warmth as the inner door completed its cycle and opened. He uttered a low whistle in respect for the scale of the work here.
What had once been a natural cave had been shaped and reinforced, stone floor replaced with level deck plating, the walls planed down and smoothed, and air exchangers drawing in the cold air, heating it, and circulating it within. It was the size of a small city.
“Your weapons,” the voice of their escort echoed harshly and Mathias turned to face him—the . . . once-and-perhaps-future terrorists had removed their bulky outer garments, scarves, thick hats, and snow goggles, but each held a weapon of some sort; a weapon leveled at the Colonial officers.
“Hand them over,” Mathias ordered as he held up his hands, unsealed his own parka and removed his pistol carefully. And the satchel containing the photos from the recon flights. The guard took both—along with the parka—and he was roughly searched, followed by Sidewinder, Kaboose, Lieutenant Shiro Gian, and Doctor Sarris. Sarris was unarmed, and of the rest Sidewinder and Kaboose only carried their issue sidearm. Gian carried his sidearm, a second smaller pistol, a even smaller snub-nosed revolver, two fixed-blade knives, an expandable baton, a wicked folding knife, and a set of brass knuckles.
The escorts just stared at the shorter, slender man and then at Mathias who shrugged. “He doesn’t like not having a weapon—I’m sure you can relate.”
“Frack no,” answered Gian. “Do I look like I have a mental deficiency? I’m the ship’s Supply Officer.”
“Supply Officer? With that arsenal?”
Gian shrugged. “You ever dealt with a bunch of arrogant pilots and deck bosses and engineers that are absolutely convinced they need new equipment just because their theirs got dinged? Believe me, I need every bit of that just to get through the day.”
“Gentlemen,” Mathias said as the silence hung on for several moments. “Time is a finite resource; I would suggest that you take us to your leaders.”
“Payne,” the leader growled and one of them moved forward. “Follow that man,” the man ordered, he and the rest keeping their guns trained on the Colonials.
The cave wound deep within the shoulder of the mountain and with every step Mathias took note of the cramped conditions, the stacks of broken parts, the group of children huddled around a pot of boiling water with a few scraps of meat and moldy vegetables as a woman spooned the thin broth into shallow bowls. But there were plenty of weapons—older weapons, worn, but loving maintained.
Finally, they arrived at another hatch with two guards standing beside it; the guards nodded and they opened the door; Mathias and his officers were herded inside—and the Commander came to an abrupt halt.
“Sam?” he whispered to the woman whose long brown hair was bound behind her head in a braid and looped over one shoulder. She sighed. “I held out hope that there was another Mathias Lorne in the Fleet, Mat,” she said. “Welcome to Charon. All of you.”
“You know this woman, Commander?” asked Doctor Sarris.
“Doctor Neil Sarris, Captain Stefan Greene, Lieutenant Shiro Gian, and Lieutenant Michael Jamussa, meet Major Samantha Caldwell, formerly of the Colonial Fleet.”
“Fleet!” blurted Kaboose. “What in the Hells is a Fleet officer doing working for the SFM?”
“That would be telling, Lieutenant,” another voice rumbled from a dark passage. “Let us just say for the moment that Miss Caldwell is one of many that became disillusioned with the tyranny of President Adar. Anton Laveride, at your service, Commander. What can my little colony do for you?” Said the pale skinned Leonian who walked in and sat down in a comfortable chair behind his desk.
This just gets better and better, Mathias thought. Anton Laveride was well-known in the Colonies—many thought he was highly connected to organized crime. But nothing had ever been proven against him . . . and somehow every witness who had come forward had suffered an accident before appearing to testify.
“You are not part of the Saggitaron Freedom Movement; who is charge here?” Mathias asked.
“I am in charge of this colony, Commander,” said Anton with a smile. “If you mean the leader of the freedom fighters of Saggitaron, then that is this man here,” he said pointing towards the last person in the spacious office . . . besides the guards, of course.
“Jon Namer,” he said simply. “You’ve come a long way, Commander—say your say so I can turn you down and then leave.”
“Your guard has a case containing photographs you might want to take a look at,” Mathias delayed, as he looked pointedly at Sam—but she avoided his eyes.
The guard handed over the case and all three of them—Anton, Jon, and Sam—looked at the photos one after the other. Jon and Sam had the decency to wince, but Anton was unmoved.
“Tragic, Commander. But not our concern. The Cylons will move on eventually; until then we will remain hidden.”
“There are survivors, Mister Laveride; survivors that I intend to rescue.”
Anton did not react, but both Sam and Jon jerked. “Survivors?” Sam asked. “The toasters plastered all twelve Colonies.”
“We have confirmed that there are survivors fighting the Cylons on at least Caprica, Tauron, and Virgon.”
“Lords of Kobol, hear my prayer,” Sam muttered. But Jon just stared at the Commander. “What of Saggitaron?”
Mathias paused. “I will make available to you the raw data of our recon pass over that Colony, Mister Namer. There may be survivors down there—but we detected no signs of their presence if there are.”
“What is the point? You have one Battlestar—a small Battlestar—Commander. And you are half a year late to the party; did it take you this long to muster the courage to try and save some of them after you ran away?”
Sidewinder grabbed the arm of Lieutenant Gian as he started to surge forward—even as the guards lifted their weapons. “Steady, Shiro,” he whispered.
“We only just returned to the Colonies, Mister Laveride. Scorpia was on a long-duration scientific mission; hence the presence of Doctor Sarris onboard—we only returned today.”
“And no doubt prodded the hornet’s nest?” the syndicate leader said sourly. “Well, there will be no help for you here.”
“Let’s not be hasty, Anton,” said Jon. “I want to hear what he wants from us.”
“Don’t be a fool, Namer. Even if you went along with him, you would die—that relic in orbit of yours cannot face off against a Cylon Basestar . . . even if she were at 100%, and she’s not. And you don’t have the room or the supplies for those people. You don’t even have the fuel—since you cannot pay me for what I have stockpiled.”
“Payment,” Mathias said in a flat voice. “We are talking about the survival of humanity and you are concerned with payment.”
“Everything and everyone has a price, Commander. That is how the universe works. To make this work you would need my freighter—but, you are liable to get her destroyed. And she is my means to leave Charon behind if I must. So, I am afraid you have nothing that I desire.”
“Mister Laveride, you seem to think that I cannot just seize that ship—I can. But let’s not get nasty, shall we? As you said, I kicked over the hornet’s nest—the Cylons are scouring the systems around us in search of Scorpia. They will be here soon. Your people don’t have the firepower or the parts to survive for long—I know it and you know it. Scorpia does has enough parts and provisions to make sure that everyone here lives. I need your help to save what is left of the Colonies, and then find a safe place to settle again.”
“Settle? You aren’t planning on going out in a blaze of glory like that idiot Cain?” asked Anton with a slight smile.
“Admiral Cain?” Mathias jerked. “She survived?”
Sam sighed. “She and Pegasus jumped out of the Scorpia Fleet Yards as the attack began, Mat. For a couple of months she raised holy hell among the toasters, but then her raids ended. She’s probably dead and gone.”
Jon and Sam exchanged a glance and the two nodded. Anton scowled. “I do not like giving up free information, but Galactica survived as well. We heard that on the wireless from some listening posts I have in the Cyrannus system.”
“Galactica? She was being converted into a fracking museum!”
“She was, but she met up with a fleet of civilian ships—rag-tag ships half in repair that were in transit at the time of the attack. Laura Roslin was sworn in as President and called for every survivor to join her. They left the system with the Cylons in hot pursuit,” Sam answered in a weary voice.
“In the name of the Gods, Sam, why didn’t you join them?” Mathias barked.
“I’m not a Fleet officer anymore, Mat. You think Bill Adama and Laura Roslin would just appreciate me showing with an armed ship full of SFM freedom fighters?”
“Terrorists,” mumbled Kaboose before Sidewinder could slam his elbow into the EWO’s side.
“See,” she said, pointing at the junior officer as proof. “Anubis doesn’t have any Vipers, Mat. And she carried ten at full load even if she did. TEN. She’s barely a fifth the size of Galactica, with popguns for weapons—and not a lot of those. Adama would remove me from command, he would try to lock up half of my crew and the other half are on the shoot-on-sight list! No, we hoped to outlast the Cylons but now that you are here, they aren’t going away soon.” And she looked at Jon and shook her head.
“Which means we are going to need more supplies of food, and parts,” he said in a quiet voice.
“Not fuel? I didn’t see any tanks outside—and keeping refined tylium in here is a recipe for disaster.”
“Oh, we’ve got our source of tylium in a safe pl-. . .,” one of the guards chimed in, and Anton slammed his hand down on the desk.
“Frasier, shut that mouth before I remove your tongue!” He glared at the guard and then he nodded. “We have a source of fuel, yes. Plenty of it. For our needs. And if you try to take my ship, I’ll blow her myself.”
“My ship can hold maybe three thousand refugees—at most. That old Orion up there might get five hundred on board. Your Hekla can hold . . .,” but Sam cut him off.
“Seven hundred full load, Mat. We need transport and,” she glanced down at Anton, and then drew in a deep breath and looked back up at the Commander. “If you’ve got spare parts for FTLs, I know where we can find them.”
“Stupid girl. You aren’t taking my fuel,” Anton snarled as he drew a pistol. He stood. “I’ve put up with the two of you long enough—talking about going back there is suicide. And you gits are not taking my ships and my fuel.”
“Mister Laveride,” Mathias said calmly. “I have a Battlestar in orbit with an entire Marine Company—kill us and they will kill you.”
“Oh, not after I tell Jon’s people how you shot their precious leader and his ship captain, Commander. My guards had to kill you to keep you from killing the rest of us—his men will be furious—and we have SAMs, remember.”
“We have nukes, remember,” Mathias snapped right back. “Kill us and every in this cavern dies—including you.”
“I have an escape route. You think I’m stupid? And I have another way off this rock.”
“Yeah, with the good stuff onboard,” Frasier chuckled.
Mathias sighed. “Seems that you thought of everything,” he said. “No wonder you always stayed one step ahead of the law enforcers. Tell me, did you really have all of those people who came forward to testify against you killed?”
“Why not, Commander? Yes, I did. And no one ever found the bodies—I am smarter than you and my plans always have a fall-back.”
Mathias nodded. “Good, I’d hate to sentence the wrong man to a summary execution.”
Anton just looked at the Commander for a moment, and then he barked out a snort of laughter. “Have you lost your mind, Commander? You are no position to do any such thing?”
“Gian, now would be good,” Mathias said with a smile; Anton and the guards switched their attention to the officer . . . leaving Sidewinder free to pull the tab on the one of the rings on his flight suit.
The flash-bang hidden in the connector detonated—but Mathias and his men had closed their eyes in anticipation. The thunder echoed from wall to wall and the dazzling flash of a fast-burning magnesium flare was so bright that Mathias saw the glow even through his eyelids. But he and his men were ready and prepared for that; he dove into the stunned crime lord, even though his ears were ringing—and bleeding. At the same time, Gian and Sidewinder tackled two of the guards, taking their guns and turning them on the blinded, deafened, stunned remnants of Anton’s chosen few, while Kaboose pulled a shocked and terrified Dr. Sarris to the floor. Sam and Jon—with a bare second’s warning had ducked and covered their faces.
Mathias wrestled the sidearm away from the criminal and without his expression changing he placed the barrel against the man’s chest and pulled the trigger twice. Anton Laveride jerked and fountains of blood exploded out; he collapsed lifelessly unto the ground.
The ringing was still overriding all sound when the hatch opened, but Mathias could see the terrorist leader Jon Namer on his feet, waving his hands and shouting at him men—but none of what he said Mathias heard, and the after-images still danced across his vision; still the terrorists reluctantly lowered their weapons and Mathias stood, dropping Anton’s gun in the process.
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
“You know,” Jon Namer loudly, his hearing (everyone’s hearing!) still not quite back to normal from the explosion, “if I don’t wind up having to kill you, Commander, I think I might come to like you.”
Mathias snorted. “Does that mean you are in?”
“I want to see your plan first,” said the terrorist. “Anton was an ass, but if you are just looking for a way to suicide, my boys and girls will stay home.”
“Fair enough. Sam, you folks don’t have any Vipers you said. How many Raptors and Shuttles do you have on-hand?”
Jon nodded and Sam sighed. “I’ve got ten Raptors and one Shuttle on Anubis, Mat. Anton’s ship—the Leonis Pryde—has another shuttle. My Raptors are old—only two are the Mk IVs that the Fleet is using; the rest date back to the Cylon War—but they work.”
“That gives us eighteen Raptors and six Shuttles,” Matt said as he considered. “Around a thirteen hundred in total lift capacity all together, right Sidewinder?”
“Give or take, Commander,” the Raptor squadron commander said as one of the medics of the SMF terror cell dabbed burn cream on the pilot’s chest where the heat of the flare had bled through his flight suit. “But we will be packing people into the shuttles like sardines—at two hundred each, they will have standing room only.”
“Better to live standing than to be dead and buried,” Mathias answered. “Okay. You want the plan, Jon?”
“I need the plan if you want my people, Commander.”
“How much do you know about the Cylons? The first war?”
“Not a lot,” he said.
“No, most people want to forget it—and so did a good portion of the Fleet. But there was always a program researching Cylon weaknesses. Towards the end of the war, when we began rolling them back from their occupation of the various colonies, the Fleet noted that once a certain number of causalities had been sustained by the Cylons, their effectiveness and coordination decreased.”
“Yes, I remember reading about that research back in college when I was given access to the secure stacks,” said Doctor Sarris. “It was an interesting proposal that a sudden massive loss of tremendous numbers of Cylons might send them into a sort of ‘psychic shock’ that might momentarily immobilize them. But nothing ever came of it,” he frowned. “At least nothing that has been published in the past thirty years,” he added.
“The problem was that in order to trigger such a cascade overload of their networks, a tremendous number of Centurions had to be destroyed in a very short time-frame. Far more than the complement aboard a single Basestar. But, Fleet research believed that such a cascade could be triggered.”
Sarris shook his head. “On Cylons from the first War, certainly. They have made improvements, Commander—this research might well not function against current models.”
“True. But it is our best hope of incapacitating them long enough to allow Anubis and Leonis Pryde to jump into orbit and evacuate the survivors, while Scorpia holds the Cylons at bay.”
Jon shook his head. “How do you intend to even trigger this cascade, Commander? You said yourself, it requires more of the toasters be toasted than are carried by any single Basestar.”
Mathias shuffled through the recon images and he withdrew one specific one, laying it on the table. “What do you see?” he asked.
“The city of Delphi—almost completely intact,” Jon said in an exasperated voice.
“Look at the attached sensor data, Mister Namer,” Mathias ordered. Jon shrugged and he did, and then he sat back, stared at the Commander, and leaned over the data with a magnifier once again.
He put down the image and the magnifier and sat back, lighting a cigarette; then he offered the Commander one. Mathias took it and a light before he sat back as well. “You’ve got balls, I’ll grant you that,” Jon said. “Are there enough of them down there?”
“Signal intercepts during the recon passes show a high concentration of Centurions and Raiders in Delphi—perhaps numbering in the millions of the bastards. Maybe they find it ironic to make our former capital their capital. But whatever the reason, they are there, and the survivors aren’t—not from the intercepts we made.”
Mathias looked at each of his officers, at Doctor Sarris, and at Sam and Jon. “Scorpia will jump in and engage their guardships; at the same time, we will open our silos and fire two Hades-IV space-to-surface missiles each loaded with eight independently targeted nuclear warheads—annihilating every last Cylon bastard in and around Delphi simultaneously.”
Everyone—even Jon Namer the hard-bitten terrorist—blinked.
“Commander, you are going to use nuclear weapons on Delphi?” Sidewinder asked in an incredulous voice.
“I am,” Mathias answered. “And if our researchers were correct about the cascade effect, Sam—you and Jon will have the window to get the survivors free and clear.”
“I’m in,” laughed Jon as he shook his head. “Blowing the hell out of Delphi, to save the colonies; Lords of Kobol, I’m in,” he laughed.
Sidewinder shook his head, but it wasn’t in negation, it was just clearing away the shock. “We still might not have enough transport—not for Caprica, Tauron, and Virgon; or the other colonies if there are survivors.”
Sam nodded. “As I said earlier, if you’ve got spares for the FTL, we might have some functional ships—enough to lift two or three or maybe even four thousand people, in addition to what our own can carry.”
“We’ve got . . . a few FTL spare components, Commander,” said Gian. “Depends on what the ships in question need.”
“And where they are, Sam. How far away they are and how quickly can our engineers get them on-line.”
“Not far, Mat. But you won’t like what you find there; trust me, you won’t like it one fracking bit more than I did. And if you have parts, getting the ships back on-line will take just a couple of hours—at most. They are missing the FTL initializors and power regulators. Rest of their systems are good.”
The Commander looked at Gian and he nodded. “Those two are the most likely to go bad—I’ve got spares on hand; enough for two, maybe three, ships at least while retaining a reserve for our own drives.”
“All right, then, people. Sounds like we have a plan—an outline, at least. I want a full list of what your people need—especially what you need to get Anubis in full working order, Major Caldwell.”
“I resigned my commission, Mat,” she said.
“I’m recalling you to service and placing you in command of Anubis—Major. Don’t argue with me on this. Mister Namer, I’ll make sure that Scorpia sends down food for these people—some of them look mighty hungry.”
“That would be appreciated; in the mean-time, my boys will find out just where Anton’s escape ship was—and the good stuff he hid.”
“Let’s get moving, people,” Mathias said as he stood up. “Time is not on our side here.”
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
Episode 3: Angel of Death
Scorpia emerged at the coordinates given to Mathias by Sam and Jon. He had left an engineering party at Charon to make certain that both Leonis Pryde and Anubis were ready for the upcoming operation, along with a team of volunteers to load the supplies of the Charonites (as his crew had dubbed them), onboard the freighter. They had located Anton’s ship—a small Auroch-class transport barely larger than one of the Mk II Shuttles carried in Scorpia’s flight pods; and with it his cache of “the good stuff”. Rechristened as the Bounty, the ship’s holds had been packed with luxury goods—Ambrosia, dozens of different brands of beer and wine, hard liquors, cigars, cigarettes, and loose tobacco, pharmaceuticals of both legal and illegal varieties, and tons upon tons of canned provisions.
Not standard Colonial rations or tins of beef or sausage, but extremely expensive and uncommon food items that the wealthy who had acquired a taste would pay dearly for.
Mathias had ordered that the contents of the hold aboard Bounty be transferred aboard Scorpia, and under the watchful eye of Lieutenant Gian, they had been inventoried and stowed away in several of the secure lockers. And then, he had departed to retrieve the ships that Sam and Jon had told him of. Both had declined to go; neither had been willing to tell him why. Just that they didn’t want to visit that place again—and that afterwards, neither would he.
“Multiple contacts,” sang out Danis from her station. “No transponders, reading no power—they are adrift.”
“Scorpia, Arclight,” the wireless broadcast. “I have a visual. Reading six, no seven, civilian vessels—all are cold and dead; zero emissions.”
“Copy, Arclight,” Mathias said into the phone. “We want the Cybele-class freighter and the Kimba Huta-class transport. See if you can get power restored aboard those two.”
“Copy, Scorpia, we are go for docking with the freighter—Pancake and his team have the transport.”
Mathias racked the phone, and he turned to face Denise Church. “How long?”
“If what Major Caldwell says is right, that the only thing wrong is they are missing the listed parts, thirty minutes to install our spares and thirty more to confirm all systems are good. She did say that the other ships held a fair amount of other supplies, though.”
“Yes, she did,” Mathias muttered. “Colonel Jayne, I want a team of engineers aboard Shuttles One and Two; search the remaining ships, take whatever we can use and fit aboard. Including their tylium—drain the tanks to squeeze aboard every drop we can fit. And let’s get Green Squadron on patrol—I want a solid CAP in case we have company.”
“Scorpia, Arclight,” came a voice that even through the static Mathias could tell was taut with tension.
“Arclight, Scorpia Actual, go,” he said after picking up the phone.”
“Scorpia Actual, my team has boarded the freighter—identification Scylla. I think you need to see this for yourself.”
The knock on the hatch went unanswered. So did the second. Colonel Thomas “Torch” Jayne frowned and he opened the hatch anyway—the Marine standing guard said nothing. He too had heard the scuttlebutt.
Tom walked into the Commander’s quarters on Scorpia, and he nodded at Mathias who was seated behind his desk, watching a video recording play over-and-over again. The video that Arclight—Lieutenant Ian Herjavec—had discovered on Scylla after his arrival and before the Commander had boarded that ship. The log books of the seven derelict ships were stacked on his desk . . . beside a bottle. But the bottle hadn’t been opened, and the glass was dry.
“I understand it was pretty bad, Commander,” he said, and Mathias finally looked up.
“That doesn’t begin to describe it, Colonel,” Mathias sighed and he ran his fingers through his hair. “Want a drink?”
“Sure,” his XO answered and he picked up the bottle, uncorked it and poured two fingers into his friend’s glass and then another two for himself. “What happened, Mat?” he asked as he sat. “You haven’t said one word since you got back here.”
“They were survivors fleeing the attack, Tom. One thousand, six hundred and forty-four survivors aboard all eight ships; and then they were found; not by the Cylons but instead by the Colonial Fleet.”
Oh shit, Tom thought, the blood draining from his face. “Say again?” he croaked.
“Battlestar Pegasus, Rear Admiral Helena Cain, commanding,” Matt continued, and then he took a sip of the powerful liquor. “She sent over an engineering detail, performed a survey on the all the ships—and then she sent her Marines over to impress one hundred and seventeen of those survivors into her crew . . . and loot the ships for spare parts. She took their FTL components.”
“Gods,” whispered Tom, as he took a slug of the whiskey. “What the hells was she thinking?”
Mathias looked up and he shook his head. “Then she left them there. Her Marines had to gun down ten on Scylla—forty-one more on the other ships—before the civilians gave up those that were useful for her. And she left the rest of them in interstellar space, without FTLs—she left them adrift and derelict and she never came back.”
He took another sip. “The captains spoke about their situation—but no one had the supplies to replace the components, not even for one ship, let alone seven. They and their survivors—the fourteen hundred and seventy-six men, women, and children, did I tell you that three hundred and eighty-two of the survivors were children, Tom?—knew they didn’t have the provisions, water, or fuel to make to the nearest system. Not under sub-light. Hell, they didn’t have the atmosphere to make it to the nearest system. So they made the only decision that they could.”
“What little medical supplies Cain left them with, they used to give the children an overdose of narcotics, letting them drift off to a painless sleep and then death. And after that, since Helena fracking Cain,” and his voice got even colder and angrier than Tom had ever heard, “had taken all of their weapons, the seven skippers each took a scalpel from those same medical supplies and cut the throats of each and every one of the adults and teenagers that were left. When they had finished, they shut down all their systems, turned off the power, and took their own lives. Most of them by taking a walk out the airlock.”
The Commander took another sip. Tom took another swallow. “Maybe she had a reason, Mat,” he began.
“A reason? Tom, I thought she was a fine officer before I left, but the woman that did this—I don’t care if she had a gods-damned reason! I don’t care if she is finest tactician and strategist in the Fleet or if she pisses pure tylium and shits fissile material! She murdered these civilians as certain as if she pulled the trigger on each and every one of them herself. She and her crew left them behind to die. She broke faith with everyone who has worn this uniform the moment she did this—it was her duty to keep those civilians safe, regardless of what she might have wanted. Not to strand them light-years from nowhere. Not to leave them with no hope. Not to force parents to watch their children die before their own lives were taken. She had no right to do that, Tom. And no reason, no excuse, will ever justify it.”
He took another sip.
“Do you have an update from Major Church for me, Colonel?” he asked.
“We will be ready in fifteen minutes,” Tom answered as he sat down the glass and stood.
“Good. The salvage teams for the other ships?”
Tom swallowed heavily. “We’ve recovered all the pressurized tanks of atmosphere, all of their water stocks, their food stores, and what other supplies they had left. We transferred as much tylium as possible aboard Scorpia, and topped off both Scylla and Umino Hana.”
“Good. I’ll be in CIC in ten minutes, Tom,” he said as he took another sip. Tom Jayne nodded and he turned to go, but then his friend’s voice stopped him. “Just so you know, Tom, if we find her I intend to relieve her, try her, and jettison her fracking ass out a launch tube—and to do the same to every last crewman who carried out her orders.”
“Pegasus outguns us, Mat,” Tom whispered. “And Admiral Cain won’t let an officer subordinate to her relieve her without a fight.”
“I’m willing to give her that fight, Tom. What she did was criminal, it was evil, and I will not stand by and let someone like that wear the same uniform as you and I. Have plotting set a course back for Charon as soon as you arrive—I want to leave this . . . graveyard . . . far behind us.”
“Aye, aye, Sir,” Tom answered and then he stepped through the hatch.
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
And with that, we are now caught up with the story. Next snippet will be up later today.
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