Rear Admiral Jenna Hayes pursed her lips as she considered the extremely large fleet of ships centered in the projection. Seventy-five ships in total. She shook her head in disbelief—it was unprecedented. There had been no warning, no hyper-space distortion, just a gamma-ray burst when each ship had arrived in the star system named Beowulf.
And then she grimaced at the other icons. Beowulf was a divided system, after all. Her own United Americas Alliance held claim to one continent, the Three Worlds Empire to the second, and the China-Asia Congress to the third. And none exactly trusted the other—which was why all three had a naval station here and complied with the long-standing tradition of limiting the ships on station.
Like the UAA and TWE, Rear Admiral Zheng Bao of the CAC had five ships under his command—including the single largest in Beowulf at the moment, the Wanli Changcheng
-class Battleship Changzheng
. One of the oldest ships in the CAC fleet, Changzheng
was still one of the largest dedicated warships ever constructed—and her four escorting Mutsu
-class Destroyers were all modern designs, even if they were far smaller. Chakri Narubet
, Dae Jo-yeong
, and Nagato
were excellent ships, although they were too small to carry strike craft or Marines. Of course, the CAC didn’t rely on strike craft nearly as much as the UAA—or even the TWE.
Commodore Sir Edward Morton commanded the Royal Space Command detachement for the Three Worlds Empire. As usual for the TWE, they hadn’t sent any especially large ships, but Morton had at his disposal the Warrior
-class Heavy Cruisers Rodney
and Southern Cross
, escorted by the Indomitable
-class Frigates Courageous
and the lonely Cape Town
-class Destroyer Montreal
. As was TWE practice, each of the cruisers and frigates carries a single squadron of strike fighters, giving Morton’s Force B excellent reach and striking power—and while smaller in scale than the CAC’s Changzheng
and Southern Cross
packed in their hulls a punch that could not be ignored.
And that left only Jenna’s own Task Group 23, built around her flagship—the America
-class Strike Carrier Constellation
. Nearly as large as the Changzheng
was no heavily armored and gunned dreadnought, but instead carried six squadrons of strike craft in her massive bays. For close and distant escort, she relied on her escorting cruisers—the Simon Bolivar
—and destroyers—the Helena
and New Orleans
Now, all three of the naval detachments had hastily undocked from their respective stations and closed up—weapons manned and strike craft crewed. Which, Jenna thought with a sigh, means that they probably weren’t expecting this either.
“Yes,” Jenna turned to face the comm officer.
“Sir Edward is asking to speak with you,” he answered.
“On speaker,” she ordered. Unofficially, the UAA and TWE often worked together—but they had fought two wars in recent memory over the Dominion of Canada. Short wars, almost immediately forgotten save by those who fought and the families of those who died.
“Admiral Hayes,” the crisp accented voice came over the speaker. “This is certainly exciting—or were you expecting such a convoy? Bao assures me that he was not.”
“Nor am I, Sir Edward,” she answered. “Were you?”
“My dear, if the Empire had seventy plus additional ships at our disposal we would be Thirty Worlds Empire,” and she could see that aristocratic twits mustache twitch with his smile in her mind’s eyes.
“Well, they aren’t mine, they aren’t Bao’s, and they aren’t yours—so who are they?”
“Whom, my dear. Whom are they, indeed? I believe that perhaps we should work togeth- . . .,” but he was interrupted in mid-word.
“Ma’am! We are receiving a transmission from the unknown vessels!”
“On speaker,” she barked and took her seat on the command deck of her flagship.
“Earth vessels, this is Admiral William Adama of the Battlestar Galactica
. We are escorting a fleet of civilian vessels that represent the sole survivors of our civilization—a human
civilization long separate from Earth. We wish to negotiate with your governments for a world where we may settle—our enemies pursue us and they will soon find you. I will hold my current position until your reply. We mean you no harm and wish to begin negotiations as soon as possible. Adama out.”
Hayes squinted her eyes at the display. “Are they holding position?”
“Yes, Admiral,” an officer answered, and then he looked back up. “Ma’am, we confirm the presence of the alien vessel Sulaco
encountered in their formation.”
, Admiral—all emissions match 100%,” the officer replied in disbelief.
A disbelief that Jenna Hayes shared. She had reviewed the report of Lieutenant Gorman—but there had been no answer to her follow-up request; indeed, they had received a second report even as her request was en route, that they were under attack and taking refuge on the alien fleet, sending back Sulaco
on automatics. For that same ship—no two vessels had identical emissions—to be here was flatly impossible. Unless . . . Gorman’s report had
mentioned a claim of exceptional FTL capabilities; and he had insisted that his hosts were human.
“Comm. Send a reply,” she said.
“Galactica, this is United Americas Alliance Ship Constellation
. Hold your position and we will inform our governments. Do you have one of my officers onboard?”
There was a pause. And then a voice came over the comm. “Lieutenant William Gorman, reporting Admiral Hayes,” and he recited his serial number and the proper authentication code.
“I cannot wait for this report, Lieutenant,” Jenna broadcast. “Inform your host that he is to hold his position. We will contact you.”
“Admiral,” the harried comm officer said as he looked up. “Both Admiral Bao and Sir Edward are hailing us—and they have charged weapons.”
Jenna winced. “Tie both of them in—let’s defuse this while we can,” she said and she carefully thought about just how to do that.