“Commander, Captain Aisne,” the wireless crackled. “I’ve got Centurions coming out of the woodwork down here!” The bark of automatic weapons fire resounded in the background, followed by the whoosh and boom of a heavy rocket. “We are holding Primary Life Support—but they keep on coming.”
Mathias cursed. Sinclair and his men were emptying the Ordnance Locker quickly—but it was still taking too long. “Understood, Captain. Destroy the controls in Primary Life Support and fall back on the ship,” he ordered. “Lieutenant Spence, just where are they coming from?” The ‘and how the fracking hells did they get aboard?’ went unsaid.
He pulled up a schematic of the Anchorage on a portable monitor. “The lower twelve decks are restricted areas—isolated from the normal crew and accessed only by the Admiral and hand-picked research personnel. Most of them were on duty when you came aboard, Commander,” the young reported. “That section has their own Raptor hanger—the Admiral must have ferried them across a few at a time.”
Mathias looked at the schematic and then he blanched. “Is that an industrial fabrication complex?”
“Yes, sir. We are equipped to produce our own parts.”
“How long has that area been restricted?” he asked with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“Over half a year, Commander,” Spence said, his face turning a pasty white. “You don’t think . . .?”
“Can we pull up the security footage from the recorders in that area?”
“I’ll have to override the Admiral’s codes,” the Lieutenant said as he frowned and began to access different files. “Got it, Commander.”
“Oh frack all of us,” Mathias whispered as the camera began to transmit. “That bloody madman allowed the Centurions to build a Cylon construction complex down there!” And the camera suddenly jerked and went dead.
Mathias picked up the wireless again. “All personnel, this is the Commander! We are leaving! Get aboard ship ASAP!”
Daniel Sinclair nodded and he barked orders. “We’ve got all of the nukes, Commander—there are still plenty of shells and missiles in there, though.”
“No time, Chief,” Mathias answered. “Is that the last warhead?”
“Yes, sir—waiting on a pallet for it.”
“Go ahead and get the rest back to Scorpia
and stand by to separate from the station, Chief—leave that one here with me.”
“With you? Commander, the Colonel will have my hide if I leave you behind.”
“I’ll be right behind you, Chief. First thought, I need to arm this warhead for detonation.”
Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel Sinclair sucked in a deep breath and then he nodded. “Holmes! Give the Commander your tools—everyone else move! See you onboard, Sir.”
“Arm it?” asked Spence. “Commander we don’t have the codes to arm it—only the Admiral had those.”
“The codes are a fail-safe, Lieutenant. But if you know how the weapon is designed, you can,” Mathias grunted as he triggered the auto-wrench and ratcheted off the bolts that held the access panel in place, “bypass the entire lock system and arm it manually.”
“The thing is, you still need codes only Battlestar Commanders have access to override the normal arming procedure—any mistakes, any at all, and the system locks down and the weapon won’t initiate fission upon detonation.”
Mathias peeled of the cover and he took out a pair of heavy wire cutters. “Here goes,” he said as he cut three wires and pulled free the code box. Underneath the box lay another panel, a covered key-pad, and a count-down timer which flickered on, showing 0:30, then 0:29, and 0:28. And three red lights slowly pulsed to the side.
“Is it supposed to do that?” Spence asked as he held a light shining down on the access port.
“Thirty seconds from removing the code box until lockdown, Lieutenant,” Mathias said as he pried up the key cover and tapped in a fourteen digit code then hit enter. One light turned green. He tapped in a second code, and the second of the three lights turned green. And then a third one—and the countdown timer suddenly blanked.
Mathias sat back and sighed. “Colonel Jayne, I’m setting the self-destruct on ten minutes—we need to be aboard ship and clear of the station by the end of that time. Make it happen.”
Without waiting for an answer, the Commander reached back in and pressed delay, one, zero, zero, zero, and arm. And the counter display spooled up to read 10:00, and then 9:59, 9:58, 9:57, as the green lights started to strobe.
“Time to go,” Mathias ordered as he stood.