“How are the Cylons even here? The radiation should be killing them, right?” asked Jester as they quickly moved towards the dock.
“The command, flight, and personnel decks are heavily shielded from all radiation,” Lieutenant Spence answered. “As are the research labs and manufacturing plants on the lower decks. Only the ship docks, fuel tankage, general stores, and ordnance lockers on the mid-decks are permeable to the radiation.”
“Exactly,” wheezed Mathias as he rounded another ladder and paused at a hatch to catch his breath. He checked his timepiece—five minutes to go, but Scorpia was docked on this deck. “Their systems will begin degradation upon exposure—but it takes prolonged exposure to render them inert. Let’s go,” he said.
Hamish opened the hatch, and immediately the sounds of gunfire echoed through the access ladders. The pilot and his guards checked left and right, and then Prince called out, “Clear.”
The six of them began moving fast and steady—not running headlong, but not tarrying either. Finally, the corridor opened into a large docking bay with the open air-lock on the side of Scorpia
’s bow facing them.
The Marines were deployed around the airlock, with two machine-guns thundering away at the Cylons trying to force through a passage. Mathias ducked low and he ran across, halting behind Captain Aisne.
“Board ship, Captain!” Mathias yelled. And he got a thumbs up in reply. The Marines gave him covering fire as he sprinted for the airlock and entered his ship again. The Commander lifted the phone. “Colonel Jayne, prepare to disengage from the station on my command.”
“Standing by,” the XO replied. Mathias looked at his time piece again and he frowned. Four minutes and counting. Come on, Liam, move your ass. At that moment, there was a massive explosion from the dock—the Marines had used a anti-tank rocket to clear the passageway, and a stream of Marines came running through the lock, carrying their weapons and gear. Last among them was Liam Aisne, who pulled shut the outer hatch behind him and sealed it.
“Go, Tom!” Mathias barked. “Push the engines to max—but get us clear!” And he looked down at the panting Marine next to him as a mighty CLUNK signaled that the clamps had been disengaged.
Liam Aisne nodded. “Had to break out the heavy weapons—but we held them, Commander,” he said wincing. And Mathias saw the red stain on the shoulder of his uniform.
“Corpsman!” he snapped, and a medic came over.
“I’ll be fine, Sir,” the Captain said. “We lost some good men, and there are others hurt worse than me.”
Lieutenant Shiro Gian stepped up and pressed a compass onto the wound. “I hate leaving all that stuff behind, Commander. There were three years worth of parts and supplies—food and air!—aboard that station.”
“Can’t be helped, Lieutenant,” Mathias answered. “How much did we secure?”
“Enough ordnance to fill our magazines—on all ships; well, except for those two Hades we used on Delphi. Aurora
has a full load of tylium, and we managed to get some parts and provisions loaded in her cargo bays.”
“The station crew?”
has three hundred twenty-seven onboard—we got sixty. The rest?” The supply officer shrugged.
Mathias nodded. “Get that shoulder treated, Captain Aisne. I’ll be in CIC.”
“Colonel,” Danis called out, “we have a Raptor departing the station from the lower flight decks.”
“Vector CAP to engage,” he ordered, but she was already shaking her head.
“He jumped immediately after launching, Sir.”
Tom nodded and he glanced at the DRADIS display. Scorpia
was clear of the station and now all four of the powerful space-normal thrust drives were on-line and at full power. Slowly—oh, so slowly—she was opening up the distance between her and the station. Aurora
had a head-start, almost at the coordinates where Anubis
rode herd on the civilian ships. He checked the clock again and double-checked the range—and he relaxed. They had cleared minimum safe distance.
The Commander walked into CIC. “Time?” he asked.
“Eighteen seconds, mark,” answered Tom.
“New contact—three Basestars, launching Raiders!” Danis sang out. “Gemini
-class Basestars, Commander,” her surprise at seeing relics of the First Cylon War plainly evident.
“Recover the CAP, have all ships spin up FTL drives for emergency jump,” he ordered, and Tom repeated the commands.
“There she goes,” whispered Marius Tyche as the icon of Cerberus station suddenly vanished in a glare—the wash of radiation from the explosion sending static across the DRADIS.
“All guns free and ready to engage, Commander—Aurora
requests permission to support,” Paul Cook reported.
“Denied. She jumps after the civilians—Scorpia
has rear-guard,” Mathias answered.
“New contacts! FIVE Basestars—the type we saw over the colonies, Sir,” Danis quickly informed Mathias. “They are launching Raiders . . . Sir! The two groups are engaging each other
!” And a cheer went up across the CIC.
“Time to jump?”
“Ten seconds until the first civilian is away,” answered Marius.
Tom stepped up close. “We could turn around and add to the chaos, Mat,” he said.
Mathias grinned, and then he winced. “No. Our duty is to the civilians—let the Cylons kill each other today, Tom. Let’s jump out of here as soon as they are all away.”
“Civilian vessels have begun . . ., correction, they have completed jump. Anubis
are away,” Marius sang out from his station.
Tom nodded his sad agreement with Mathias, and then the Colonel stepped back and turned to face the operations officer. “Engage FTL drives, Major Tyche,” he ordered. And Scorpia