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Old January 6 2013, 03:55 PM   #14
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.
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