Mathias waited until the young Lieutenant recovered and wiped his mouth—discarding the small handkerchief in the refuse bin in the process—walking back over to the man he was supposed to be guiding.
“My apologies, Commander,” he began, but Mathias cut him off.
“None needed, Lieutenant—trust me,” he said with a smile, “I know the feeling of receiving it suddenly. These fighters,” he said with an appreciative grin, “are they ready for service?”
“Trials, Commander. They have been flight-tested, their avionics are installed, and all weapons are functional—but until Picon Command completes a one-year testing program, they won’t enter the Fl-. . .,” he grimaced. “That is to say, they still may have glitches in their systems that haven’t been found yet.”
“Lot of firepower,” commented Jester, “but with two engines they’ve gotta a lot slower to accelerate than a Viper.”
“Not as much as you might think, Lieutenant,” Spence replied. “The Thunders engines are larger and more powerful than those on a Viper—she can’t match a Viper for acceleration, but she’s got plenty of power and she is maneuverable. Eight guns forward and she carries the same ammo load as a Mark VII Viper for each of them. She’s got a longer range—bigger tanks, and having two engines eats less fuel than three—and she is equipped with four recessed hardpoints for standard Viper and Raptor ordnance,” he knelt and smiled. “Or each of those wells can hold a full sized Hydra.”
Mathias whistled as he crouched as well. “That gives her some options, all right. Why two cockpits? Vipers have always had one pilot—except for trainers.”
“The second cockpit is for an EWO, Commander. She carries a larger and more robust DRADIS system than even the Mark VII—not as long-ranged or capable as the one on a Raptor, but better than anything on any Viper in service. And she has the full jamming system of a Raptor. The EWO controls both and is responsible for DRADIS-guided long-missile locks,” he shook his head, “and the counter-measures pod.”
He stood and walked to the back of the fighter and nestled between the engines was an series of jettison ports. “She carries chaff pods, decoys, and flares, Commander. Damn shame she won’t ever get to the Fleet.”
“I don’t know about that, Lieutenant,” Mathias said as he laid his hand on the cold metal skin of the fighter. “You have crews for these aboard station?”
“Yes, sir. They sent out pilots and EWOs to learn how to handle these for the upcoming trials—a lot of it is simulator time though.”
“Good,” Mathias whispered. “I think we can find a use for these aboard Scorpia
—work out those glitches and bugs, while we are it, Lieutenant.”
Spence looked down and then he shook his head. “I don’t think Admiral Trahn will let you take them—you aren’t on the list for them, Commander. And he is just a little bit,” Spence paused and he sighed, “a little bit set in his ways.”
“We will see, Lieutenant,” Mathias said with a sudden nod. “What is the complement of the Anchorage?”
“Three hundred Fleet personnel and two hundred civilians working for the government,” he answered promptly.
“Well, we are a classified research station, Commander,” the Lieutenant answered lightly. “I’ve kept you here too long; if you would follow me, I am certain that the Admiral is waiting.”
And following the Lieutenant, the five officers and men from Scorpia
began to ascend the ladders.
A stout man dressed in the uniform of Colonial Fleet was ushered into CIC by the Marines. Colonel Jayne glared at the newcomer, who returned his gaze with fury in his own eyes.
“What the frack did you do to my ship!?” he bellowed.
“We prevented you from making a major mistake, Colonel Foeswan,” Tom said in a measured tone. “I am glad that it worked, because otherwise your ship would be a pile of expanding debris and five hundred eighty-three Colonial officers and crew would have lost their lives.”
Tom ignored the Colonel for a moment and he turned back to Marius Tyche. “Have the engineers reported any problems with removing the CNP and replacing it with the pre-update program?”
“No, sir. It should be completed in one hour and then the ship can power back up—her batteries are good for that long, Colonel.”
“Thank you, Mister Tyche,” Tom said as he turned around and planted both hands on the central console. “And now, Colonel Foeswan, why the Hells didn’t you get authorization from the station before you attacked us?”
The other ship commander blinked and then he sighed. “What makes you think I didn’t, Colonel? By all the Gods and Goddesses, this whole situation is just so fracked up,” he swore, running one hand through his thinning hair.
Tom inclined his head to one side. “The station ordered you to attack?”
“Admiral Trahn ordered me to disregard what you said about the Colonies and destroy you—with authenticated confirmation of that order, Colonel,” Foeswan said quietly. “What you said about the Colonies—is it true?”
Tom just nodded. “I thought as much,” the commander of Aurora
said in a whisper. “Our relief is two months overdue, but the Admiral refused to even let us send a Raptor back to find out why. The man is a fanatic about security over his projects, Colonel. I’ll wager a hundred cubits that he is giving your
Commander orders right now that this ship has now just joined the Cerberus Defense Fleet,” he finished in a sour tone.
“Like hell,” Tom snorted. “We’ve got Cylons on our ass in pursuit, Colonel—five Basestars. They will at least check this system,” he snorted. “The radiation takes time
to work, and they don’t need that
long to kill us.”
Mark Foeswan looked up, and his eyes were squinted. “Trahn isn’t going to let you go—he won’t authorize it.”
“So? He’s a pencil pusher, Colonel—never had a field command in his life. I looked up his record. He might have the rank to order us to stay, but you know the first thing I learned at the Academy a long time ago? Never give an order that will not be obeyed. Colonel, Scorpia
and the ships we are riding herd will not be staying. It’s up to you if Aurora
wants to come along—or stay here and wait on the Cylons.”
“He’s an Admiral,” Mark said through gritted teeth.
“Yeah, he is. But you know what? Putting a star on someone’s shoulder doesn’t make them as wise as Athena or as courageous as Herakles. I’ll trust Commander Lorne long before I trust this Trahn. And you’ve got a choice to make, Colonel. Come with us—where you and your ship might make a difference—or stay.”
Tom stood straight and he nodded to the Marines, who removed the shackles. “Either way, I think you need to get that ship back in fighting condition, Colonel. If you aren’t planning on attacking us again.”
“No. Not again, Colonel,” he lowered his head and he swore. “There are five hundred people on that station—forty percent of them civilians.”
Tom nodded. “How many can you accommodate?”
The man blinked. “Aurora
can load almost all of them—but Trahn . . .,” and Tom cut him off.
“Don’t worry about Trahn, Colonel. Just get your ship fixed and ready to load those civilians—and any supplies we need.”
Foeswan nodded and then he came to attention and saluted—a gesture which Tom returned with equal gravity. And then he left, trailed by his Marine escort.
Tom picked up the phone. “Captain Aisne, CIC,” he said.
“Go, CIC,” the Marine answered after a moment.
“How long to draw up a plan to take that station by force, if it comes to it?” he asked.
“You’ve got ten,” and he racked the phone. “Captain Danis. Inform Cerberus we have completed recovery operations and are moving to dock as ordered. Major Tyche, set a leisurely course—ten minutes should be adequate.”
“Aye, aye, Sir,” both officers answered.
And Tom Jayne put his hands behind his back and stared at the DRADIS display.