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.”
, 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
The commander frowned and he turned his head towards Joan Danis. “Adjust DRADIS and the targeting and tracking arrays for Mu
“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 Orion
s 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
“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
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
?” 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.