Admiral Jenna Hayes pursed her lips and then she crossed her hands behind her back. “Big bastards, aren’t they, Mister Kirk?”
“That they are, Admiral,” her Flag Captain answered. While Jenna commanded Task Group (Carrier Strike) 23 of the United Americas Alliance Colonial Fleet, Gordon Kirk was the officer tasked with the command of USS Constellation
. “The fly-boys are eager to see just how well these Cylons deal with our tactical doctrine,” and then the smile faded from his face as the screens suddenly began to flood with hundreds—thousands—of smaller icons.
“New contacts—enemy is launching fighters,” the tactical officer sang out—and he looked up in absolute horror. “CIC estimates six thousand plus inbound hostiles!” Then he put his hand to his ear and his head snapped back up. “Correction! Hostiles are converging on the CAC flotilla.”
Kirk set his jaw. “Full deck launch, all bays—get them in the air and give Admiral Bao some support,” and then he looked at his Admiral.
Jenna nodded. “Task Group orders—once the strike group is deployed, Constellation
will withdraw to a safe distance. The escorts are to engage the enemy at close range in support of Bao’s ships.” Although the Strike Carrier carried forty-eight AD-19C/D Bearcats and twenty-four AD-17 Cougars, she paid for that heavy load by mounting no long-range offensive weaponry of her own—or heavy armor plating. She was equipped with overlapping point-defense laser batteries, but only four small-caliber twin rail-gun turrets—lighter even than those fitted aboard a Conestoga
-class assault transport—were available for offensive use.
That was not a design flaw; rather the UAA had deliberately made the choice to optimize the America
-class Strike Carriers with their Bearcats and Cougars (often just called ‘Hammerheads’ by the public and pilots alike!) to carry the most fighter craft possible in a vessel able to accelerate quickly out of harm’s way. It was her escorting cruisers and destroyers that carried the ship-to-ship armament, wasting no internal volume on the fighters and their massive stores of fuel and munitions. Instead the Simon Bolivar
s and Helena
s mounted massive batteries of missiles, medium and heavy caliber rail-gun turrets, particle cannons, and lasers, along with thick armor plating and powerful sub-light engines.
“Admiral, Sir Edward has launched his Hurricanes and is also moving to support Admiral Bao against the incoming fighters,” tactical reported.
“All Hammerheads away,” reported Kirk.
“Time until our escorts can range on the enemy?”
“Three minutes—Sir Edward’s command will enter range at virtually the same time.”
“Their fighters will arrive in two minutes, Admiral,” Kirk answered.
“Engaging six Basestars in Group Baker,” the CO of Constellation
answered. “They have launched one-hundred and ninety fighters and are also vectoring to intercept the Raiders,” he paused and stepped up close to Jenna. “We are outnumbered twenty-to-one in fighters, Admiral,” he whispered.
“Cannot be helped, Captain Kirk,” she answered curtly. “Authorize our strike group to abort the run on the Basestars—they are to engage the enemy fighters at once.”
“Aye, aye, ma’am,” he answered.
“Admiral!” the electronics officer snapped. “Hostile intrusion into the ship’s network—the Cylon command Basestar in Group Charlie is the origination point.”
Jenna smiled. “Release the synths to fight their intrusion, Hank,” she ordered. “And launch our own cyber-attack on that bitch.” Let’s see how well you fare against people used to cyber-warfare, you metal monsters.