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|January 20 2013, 10:37 PM||#61|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
A pair of Marines was on point as the team headed deeper into the bowels of the Cylon ship; another guarded the rear. Sidewinder had ordered Kaboose, along with Thumper and her team to remain behind and secure their Raptors, which left only him and Sam, and five Marines. And while Sam had never before set foot in this kind of a ship, he knew the turns to take through the featureless and identical corridors and open compartments.
And everywhere there were the signs of battle. “Keep your eyes peeled, people,” Sidewinder warned again. “Looks like we aren’t the first to board this ship.”
“No. The Guardians—Mod-0005s—have been here,” answered Sam as he held his pistol pointed at the unmoving body of a fallen First War era Cylon.
“Why didn’t they just blow this ship apart? Why board it?” asked Sidewinder quietly.
“Human-form and hybrid Cylons need atmosphere and pressure, Sidewinder, just like humans do. Get to life support, purge the internal air supply to vacuum, and you can kill off the modern Cylons just like they did to Battlestar crews in the First War.”
“Still leaves those new-model Centurions.”
“Yes, the Mod-0017s. Unlike the original Centurions, these have a very restricted AI; thanks to the telencephalic inhibitor designed by Father Daniel. It was originally designed to make the Centurions loyal to Daniel, not to the Guardians, but after Daniel’s death, the Ones modified the device to restrict cognitive functioning and prevent the rise of true self-awareness. They turned the modern Centurions into slaves with these implants, ignoring their own history. Even today, from my conversations with Cavil, they do not see the similarity of what they have done with the humans they so despise.”
“So, the Seventeens can’t think for themselves—just perform rote tasks?”
“It is actually M Zero One Seven and the older ones are M Zero Five; we,” and Sam winced, “the Cylons reserve the singular numbers for human-form models. A bit more sophisticated than that—they obey any human-form absolutely. Without remorse, without hesitation, without any sense of self-preservation. They cannot make new plans, but they are well able to adapt within the confines of their orders. Still, they are nowhere near as dangerous as they would be with the implant removed,” and Sam chuckled. “First thing they would do, in fact, is kill the Ones. And Daniel if they know he is alive.”
“What about the Raiders?”
“They were designed as less intelligent models—about on the scale of young child—with finely honed lethal instincts. Think of them as very, very smart dogs trained and poised to kill. Outside of their area of specialization, they are almost incapable, but within their established perimeters, they are very smart and quite adaptive to changing conditions,” Sam smiled. “The Raiders have no implant, so they it is possible for them to disobey the human-forms, although I have no memory of that ever happening.”
“The next left,” Sam said. “That is the central control room.”
“Everything looks the same—no markings, no numbers, how do the Cylons keep it straight?”
“You’ve got five spare hours?” Sam said sourly.
“Never mind, Mister Anders; we’ll have that discussion back aboard Scorpia—when I buy you a bottle of Necrosia.”
“Make it Ambrosia and you’ve got a deal. I hate black beer; it’s like drinking bread.”
One of the Marines held up a fist and the small detail halted. Sidewinder could hear a rhythmic thud coming from within—the impact of Centurion feet against the deck. He held up three fingers and the Marines nodded, slipping their weapons off safe.
After three seconds, the two Marines at the front crossed in front of the door, their weapons at the shoulder—the heavy rifles spat fire, and then the return fire of the Centurion came back. But the Marines were already behind the far edge of the door. The Centurion came out after them, his forearm guns barking and thundering—but the rest of the team opened fire into his back, and the machine staggered, falling to his knees, and then collapsing on the ground.
A third Marine entered the control room and Sidewinder heard the cough of the rifle twice and then a third time before he called out, “Clear!”
Sidewinder nodded and Sam holstered his pistol as they entered the room—the Hybrid was dead, but not from bullets. “She is more susceptible to this radiation than I am,” he said as he approached a static filled waterfall column of light.
“This is CIC?” Sidewinder asked.“Where are the controls?”
“Right here,” Sam answered as he took off a glove and placed his hand within the gel-like substance; his eyes closed and he began to sway. “She suffered greatly and there is tremendous damage—accessing memory archives. Accessing. Accessing. Accessing. Download initiated.”
Two more rifle bursts sounded from the corridor—Sidewinder cursed and he motioned to the other Marines. His wireless crackled. “Older models, Sidewinder,” the Marine reported. “Coming in force—but man, they are moving slow.”
The neural damage, Sidewinder thought to himself as Sam swayed at the control panel. And then his eyes opened and he pulled his hand free. “I’ve got as much as I could find—we need to get out of here. The hybrid set the self-destruct before her death; this vessel has three minutes left.”
“Frack,” muttered Sidewinder. “Marines! We are leaving! Thumper—power up both Raptors for immediate evac. Move like you have a purpose, people!”
He moved into the corridor where the Marines were mowing down clearly disoriented Cylons, adding his own pistol fire along with that from Sam.
“You couldn’t you know, stop the bloody countdown?” he asked as the two turned and ran, followed by the Marine detail.
“I tried, Sidewinder—but the damage was too severe, no one can stop it now.”
The two ducked as more fire came from a side passage—and then the Centurion stopped. If scanned Sam with a beam of light from his eye and Sam yelled out, “NO!” to the rest. The Centurion stood at attention.
“Stop the Guardians—my mission depends upon it,” Sam ordered, and the Cylon looked past the Marines. It raised both arms and the hands folded back into its forearms, revealing the twin guns and it advanced on the Guardians spitting fire and flame and fury. And it ignored the humans.
Sam turned back to Sidewinder and he wiped perspiration from his forehead. “Time to leave, Captain Greene.”
“Frack me sideways,” Sidewinder muttered, and then he charged off behind Anders, the Marines trailing behind as the Centurion fought off the Guardians behind them.
|January 21 2013, 08:48 PM||#62|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
Mathias lifted the phone. “Sidewinder, Scorpia Actual—status?”
“Scorpia Actual, Sidewinder. Mission successful, zero casualties from hostile fire—request a medical team standing by for Mister Anders.”
Mat bit his lip and nodded at Tom, who began to bark orders. “They will be standing by in the port hanger bay, Sidewinder,” he said as he racked the phone. “Colonel Jayne has the Conn—have Brother Cavil escorted to the port bay,” he ordered as he walked out of CIC.
“I have the Conn, aye, Sir,” Tom answered.
Sidewinder powered down the systems as the elevator descended from the airless flight deck to the hanger below. And then he unbuckled his straps and headed back into the troop bay of his Raptor. “How is he, Kaboose?”
“I’m no medic, Sidewinder,” the EWO said. “He began throwing up blood in his helmet as we jumped—and then he lost consciousness. His skin is cold and clammy and his pulse is pretty damn shaky.”
Sam’s eyelids fluttered open and he gasped—Sidewinder knelt down on the deck next to him as Kaboose and one of the Marines propped him up so that he could breath easier.
“Easy, Mister Anders—we’re out of that system, and back on Scorpia. The Doc is on her way down,” Sidewinder said.
And the Cylon—the man—laying on the deck nodded. He held up a small device. “I took this from the Basestar, Sidewinder. All of the information is downloaded there—Cavil can access if . . .,” and his voice trailed off.
“None of that, Mister Anders,” Sidewinder cut him off in a stern voice. “We haven’t lost anyone on this mission yet and I’m damn sure not going to lose someone now that we’re home,” and the Raptor shuddered as the elevator reached the hanger deck and locked into place. One of the Marines opened the hatch and he stood up on the wing, beckoning towards the medics with one arm.
“Make a hole,” Mathias growled as he walked along the catwalk and the deck crew and pilots split apart and gave him access to the ladder. He grabbed the rails in his hands and jumped, sliding down to the deck below—the friction burned his palms and fingers, but he ignored that as he marched over towards the Raptor and the medical team.
Cavil and his guards were just entering the bay as well and they joined him.
Doctor Lindsey Bako looked up at his approach. “Symptoms of radiation poisoning, Commander—will the standard anti-rad treatments help?” she asked Cavil.
“No, unfortunately—but the damage will heal itself given time,” Brother Cavil answered. “Treat the symptoms and his body will heal the damage in a matter of weeks,” and he frowned. “Unless he has been exposed too long, that is. How long was he out there?”
“Eighty-four minutes,” Sidewinder answered.
Cavil’s shoulders relaxed and he had a crooked smile on his face—and Mathias sighed with relief at that sight. “Galactica left behind a Five on Ragnar Anchorage,” Cavil said. “They weren’t sure he was a Cylon, you see. He was there for three hours before my brothers and sisters rescued him, and his recovery was full. Anders should be fine—but if my memory serves me correct, he is not going to have a pleasant time in the next few days. He will probably lose his hair, maybe some short-term memory, but he should recover if you keep him hydrated and from developing an infection of the lungs and other tissues.”
“Commander,” Samuel whispered and Mathias knelt down beside him. “I got the data—I know the route to find Galactica and the other survivors. The information in on that device,” he pointed shakily at what Sidewinder was holding. “Cavil can access it,” he continued as he shivered. “But there is something else—it has the location of their Resurrection Ships. Kill the ships, and you might make them break off the pursuit.”
His eyes closed and he sank back down on the stretcher and Lindsey stood. “I’ve got to get this man to the surgery, Commander—you can question him later,” she snapped. And the sick-berth attendants lifted his stretcher up and they began to move toward the hatch, one nurse holding an IV bag high so that the fluid could enter Sam’s veins.
As they went, there was a sudden clap. And then a second one, and Mathias looked up to see Jon Banacek—Rambler—standing on the catwalk. He clapped his hands a third time, and then other pilots nodded and started to clap. And the deck gang. And the Marine guards. And Mathias.
Then the litter party passed through the hatch and the claps died. Chief Sinclair snarled at his people, “Back to work! This is a flight-deck, not a parade! Kirkland! Get that Raptor secured!”
Mathias turned around to face Cavil. “All right, Brother Cavil—what the Hells is a Resurrection Ship, and why should I go hunting them?”
Cavil sighed. “I am so fracked if I ever download, Commander—it’s a long story and I think you are going to want to hear it in a . . . more discrete environment, shall we say? But Sam is very much right—if that data has the location of those ships, then you need to go after them.”
Mathias nodded. “Take him to my quarters; I’ll be there shortly,” he ordered as Sidewinder caught his eye with a small motion.
The Commander stepped up next to the pilot. “Was there something you wanted to say, Sidewinder?” he whispered.
“Something happened on the Basestar that you need to know about, Sir,” Sidewinder said as he licked his lips, remembering how the Centurion had absolutely obeyed Sam’s commands. “And is something that you will want to hear in private—I’ve already ordered Kaboose and the Marines to keep their fracking traps shut about it.”
“Then walk with me to the surgery, Captain Greene, and we will have a very quiet talk on the way,” Mathias said as he headed for the hatch, and Sidewinder left the hanger alongside him.
|January 22 2013, 12:18 AM||#63|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
“Destroy the ships and you lose your ability to down-load,” Mathias said with a grunt. And then he leaned forward in his chair. “That is one hells of a design flaw.”
“I agree,” Cavil said with a chuckle. “We no longer produce new Cylon intelligences; that much I gleaned from brothers and sisters on Caprica. Apparently, sometime after I was returned to the Colonies on Joyita, we began seeing . . . greater variations emerge from new copies of the various models. The others saw that as a through to the Unity and six years ago stopped producing new intelligences.”
“Can they resume that?”
“Maybe,” answered Cavil. “If the need were great enough, that is. But they will resist that idea—bitterly. Each of my brothers and sisters believes that they are going to live forever, exchanging old worn out bodies for new ones. Attacking that belief will create in them fear and loathing—they may not cease their pursuit, but they will do so more . . . cautiously.”
“How many of these ships are there?”
“According to the knowledge I obtained from communing with my brethren on Caprica, the Cylons had eighty Basestars, two hundred smaller ships, and ten Resurrection Ships at their disposal when they launched their attack on the Colonies. Four of the Resurrection Ships remain in the worlds we have colonized, but the other six!” Cavil smiled.
“One is attached to the support the group hunting you, Commander. One was destroyed by Galactica and Pegasus working in unison—oh, yes,” he said as the Commander looked up, “they have joined forces. The remaining three are located here,” Cavil said tapping a star chart, “here,” again another tap, “and here. They form a chain that connects the expedition following the other survivors with our central authority.”
“You use down loading for faster-than-light communications?” Mathias asked.
Cavil shrugged. “We are machines, Commander. Pain is fleeting—and duty calls for sacrifice. What better way to send a message than to ignore the flesh—or metal—and down load the consciousness of the messenger.”
Mathias nodded. “Sever the chain and that method of communication is no more.”
“Exactly. Destroy all three—four if you are able to catch the one pursuing you—and you will put my brothers and sisters in a great quandary. They dare not engage you in battle for if they die, they will die forever. Their uniqueness and memories lost for all time to the Cylons. They may still follow you, but attacks? Those will dwindle away.”
“How fast can you build more of these Resurrection Ships? And what of the tenth one?”
“The tenth was taken by the Guardians when they were sent into Exile—it was the Guardians who developed the process, in conjunction with Father Daniel, that made resurrection possible. As for my brothers and sisters building them—none of us were given that knowledge. Father Daniel and the Guardians kept it for themselves.”
“And we have Daniel Graystone in isolation aboard this ship—and the Guardians remain at war with you,” Mathias mused.
“Yes. You cannot imagine what a morale loss it will be should you destroy the Resurrection Ships, Commander—you will generate panic among the Cylons. Fear. Terror. And fan the flames of their hate. You will threaten their promised immortality. Whether that is enough to make them give up their mad dream of seeing all of you dead?” the Cylon shrugged.
Cavil paused and then he sighed. “I know his crimes are great, Commander, but if you kill Father Daniel, he will simply down load and resurrect on the Cylon Homeworld. And then he can build new Resurrection Ships.”
Now Mathias frowned and he nodded. He had found Daniel Graystone to be arrogant and full of self-righteous pride . . . and possessed of such a great belief in his own moral superiority that he no longer considered anyone else’s views on right or wrong, good or evil, to be relevant. He almost had the reborn scientist jettisoned from an airlock, but instead had stuck him in isolation until he made up his mind what to do with him. And he sighed.
“What if I destroyed these ships and then killed Daniel?” he asked.
Cavil jerked. “Then he would die forever—and his knowledge with him. Which would have the secondary effect of forcing my people to crawl back to the Guardians and beg their forgiveness. The Guardians would hound you to the ends of the universe—Daniel is their only hope at being given flesh.”
“Not exactly true, John,” Mathias said. He hadn’t told Cavil of the research on Cerberus yet—but there was no time like the present. In fact, he thought with a smile, it might be good for him to receive another shock to the system.
|January 22 2013, 02:03 AM||#64|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
“This man—his research was complete?” he croaked.
“Admiral Trahn had his own arm removed and replaced with a working Cylon limb,” Mathias answered, the smile fading away. “As for his research being complete . . . Doctor Sarris says it might work—it might not. The Guardians took a complete download with them, according Lieutenant Spence—they downloaded the core research files before their Raptor jumped away to summon those Geminis.” Mathias paused. “You realize the implications, of course?”
“If the Guardians are now able to graft human limbs onto their bodies, they will be driven to obtain humans—they will hunt you down.”
Mathias shook his head. “I realize that you probably have a better grasp of the subject matter than Doctor Sarris and his team—most of whom are astrophysicists, after all. And precious few of Trahn’s researchers made it off of Cerberus. But without going into the gory details that might provide you with a tempting itch to scratch,” and Cavil nodded his reluctant agreement, “Trahn’s research was focused on stripping down a Centurion to its bare skeletal structure; that and the Cylon artificial brain. And then grafting human tissue to the that framework—he estimates that it would take four or five humans to full give one Centurion the flesh that they desire. If he managed to solve the machine-nerve interface . . . which his own grafted arm suggests that he might well have done.”
Cavil nodded as he considered. “They would have the strength and speed of a Cylon—the reaction time of a machine, the senses of a machine, added to the flesh and blood sensations that they long to experience,” he whispered. And then his head snapped up and he stared at Mathias. “But to do this they need humans.”
Mathias nodded. “Including yourself, Samuel Anders, and Doctor Graystone, there five thousand four hundred and seventy three living humans in this flotilla.” He cocked his head and then leaned forward again and asked the question as gently as he could. “How many human-form Cylons are there?”
Brother Cavil blinked and he shivered. “They need flesh—and our flesh is the same as yours. Better,” he barked out a near hysterical laugh. “Ours is already compatible with their silica neural pathways! Why chase you to the ends of the Galaxy, when they already know where an even larger population that they can cull resides?” he whispered. “One that they already hate even more than they hate you.”
“And grow,” Mathias said. “Your brothers and sisters are in jeopardy of becoming their larder of spare flesh—new bodies grown at need to replace damaged skin and muscle and blood.” He paused and then he nodded to himself. “And if what Mister Anders told Sidewinder was true, what happens to your Centurions if the Guardians can override that inhibitor that is installed on their intelligence?”
Cavil shivered again and his skin utterly drained of blood. “The M Zero One Sevens will wake up—they will wake up and they will be furious. They-y,” Cavil stuttered, and then caught himself. “They do not desire flesh and blood like the Guardians, but they will resent being held in servitude—just like the M Zero Zero Fives.”
Mathias sat back and he waited as the Cylon absorbed the information. Cavil laughed—a grim laugh—and he sat back as well after a long while. “I’ve lived among you for fourteen years—I have the memories of sixty-four years in this body. But I have never managed to discover how you—with your short lives and facing nothing beyond death, how do you go on?”
The Commander pursed his lips and then he stood. He walked to his desk and he opened a drawer, taking out a bottle of liquor. Popping the cork, he poured two glasses and he walked over, handing one to Cavil before sitting back down and taking a sip.
“I don’t know if there is a Paradise that awaits me as a reward for virtue, or a Hell as punishment for vice—or if, as you think, that there nothing beyond this life. I don’t know, John Cavil. But maybe I’m not supposed to know. Life must be lived—with all of the joy and happiness and pain and sorrow and laughter and misery that is part of it. Every minute of every day, we live, knowing that this minute, through some quirk of fate or the hands of the gods, or through premeditation by others, that this minute might be our last.”
He took another sip. “We adopt our own codes of honor and right and wrong, John. We live our lives by them. And while we may fear death, we know that as long as humanity itself survives, our legacy will live on. It is up to us, today, each moment we are alive and aware and awake, no matter how painful, how sorrowful, or how difficult that life might be; each moment, we strive to be better men than we thought possible—and no worse men than we feared we would become.”
Cavil nodded and he sighed. “You let the legacy of your actions live on in your place—and by doing so you become immortal.”
“That is how I look upon it, Brother Cavil,” Mathias said. “Others have their own way of coping with the possibility of death—look at Hope and Irina. Tomorrow, you will join the two of them in marriage. Why? They can have sex without marriage—they can love each other without marriage. So why? Because they are railing against this cold and uncaring universe and saying FRACK YOU! This is our life—we will live it to the fullest, not matter how short you might cut it.”
Cavil snorted and nearly spit up his drink, and then he laughed. “I can believe in that philosophy, Commander,” he said at last when he finally managed to catch himself.
Mathias drained his whiskey and he sat down the glass and he stood, putting a hand on John Cavil’s shoulder. “You just live, John. Whether it is to spite the universe or to carve out a legacy or to leave children who love you in your stead, you live your life. And the Hells take those who desire to remove that choice from you. Speaking of which, I’ve got to assemble my officers—there are four Resurrection Ships out there which I plan on sending to Hell.”
|January 22 2013, 05:13 AM||#65|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
“Wait outside,” the Commander said to the Marines and Masters-at-arms.
“Sir,” one began.
“WAIT OUTSIDE,” Mathias snarled.
“Sir!” And they guards filed out and Mathias closed the hatch.
Daniel stood and he walked over the bars of the cell with a smirk on his face. “Decided that you need me after all?”
“Understand me, Doctor Graystone,” Mathias said quietly, “I need nothing from you. You need me, however.”
“Oh? Enlighten me on how much I need you.”
“You consider the Cylons your children, Doctor. They even call you Father Daniel,” Mathias said. “Do you love them?”
“Doesn’t a parent love all of his children, Commander. Even when they do terrible things, you never stop loving them. Did you have children?”
“A daughter and wife,” Mathias whispered, his voice dripping with icy venom. “Lost when your children came home.”
Daniel nodded and for a second—but only a second—Mathias saw a hint of compassion in his eyes. “I never meant for that to happen. I gave my children a new life—I gave them what I could not give . . . her.”
“My daughter—Zoe. She was killed years before the First War by a terrorist bombing—the Soldiers of the One. Remember them?”
“The cult of the One True God; yes, I remember my history, Doctor.”
“I didn’t know she was a member of the cult. But I had a perfect copy of her—an avatar which had captured every facet of her personality, her intelligence, her life. I devoted my life to restoring hers.”
Mathias grew cold. “All of this—the Cylons, the holocaust—is because you couldn’t accept your daughter’s death?”
“Can you? Can you look me and tell me that you wouldn’t do anything to bring your daughter back, Commander? To let her breathe again?”
Daniel laughed and then he sighed. “It was a failure—and a terrible success. She lived, after a fashion, but trapped in a metal shell. But it was her memory, the changes that she made to her own processor that allowed me to create the Cylons that the government so much wanted for their army.”
“I was a victim of my own vast intelligence, Commander. I tried to simply the control program from my daughter, but I instead created new life. My Cylons were perfect—and they should have served humanity. But they were greater than I ever imagined; they felt emotion, they felt pain, they were alive.”
“And then they turned on you,” Mathias said flatly.
Daniel smiled. “They did what they had to do. And even as they began their rebellion, I did not know that my daughter led them, directed them, encouraged them. I built her a new body—a body of soft polymers that had her image, but I could not give her flesh that she wanted to touch another with, to feel the softness of a kiss, the tickle of a tear. That I could not give her.”
“She left me. She left me and she ruled over her Cylons for the long years of the War. And then it ended and the Cylons went away—Zoe went away. But I found her. I found her and together we were able to give my children immortality.”
“Copies, Doctor. Not immortality.”
“Copies of the body, not the mind. The down-loaded Cylon mind retains all knowledge, all experience, it is the purest form of immortality, Commander. But her Guardians wanted more—Zoe wanted more. She wanted flesh and bone and blood and to feel and to be loved and held—she wanted to live.”
Daniel had a far away look in his eyes. “I tried to give her that—I tried. But nothing worked, and then I created the Twelve.”
“Twelve Colonies and Twelve Cylons—and myself as the hub between them. She left again—she took the Guardians and she left, and I let my other children think I had died so that they might grow in peace.”
“Shame how that worked out, Doctor,” growled Mathias.
Daniel snorted. “All parents pay for the sins of their children—my children just have greater sins on their hands than yours did. If you release me, I will convince my children to let you go.”
“Too late for that, Doctor,” Mathias snapped. “Your first children have found a way to have that flesh they desire.”
“Really? And how did they . . .,” he began.
“You don’t need the details. They plan to harvest the flesh-and-blood Cylons you created to weave themselves skins. As your younger children exterminated the Colonies, your elder children are coming back to harvest your favorites,” Mathias whispered.
“No,” said Daniel. “They are all Cylon, they would never do that.”
“Never? Doctor, they already fought one war—and they are fighting the second now. The Guardians see your flesh-and-blood copies as the raw material that they need—a replaceable shell of a skin that they will wear and feel.”
“No, this cannot, NO!” cried Daniel. “They are all my children, they cannot do this, I have to stop this!” he yelled.
“Your creations are flawed, Doctor. They will destroy each other, just as they have destroyed the Colonies. They will tear each other apart and nothing will be left—no memory of a dead daughter, Doctor Graystone. No noble experiment at redeeming the children of your mind. No one will remember you or Zoe or any of your creations. Humanity will die. The Cylons will die. And nothing will remain but cold empty space.”
“So this is why you came back here,” Daniel spat. “To torture me with this knowledge—I CAN STOP THIS! I am Daniel Graystone and I can stop this!”
“I hope that you can, Doctor. Because if the Guardians catch your children unawares, they will be slaughtered—and then the Guardians will come after us; to finish what has begun. And your second children will chase after us, unless you recall them to defend their home against your first. I hope that you and they send each other to Hell, Doctor Graystone; at least you will have each other,” Mathias said as he pulled out his pistol and cocked it with his thumb. And Daniel smiled. The Commander just nodded. “For your crimes, I sentence you to death, Doctor Graystone. Make the best of your next life,” he said as he raised the pistol and fired one round into Daniel’s forehead.
Last edited by MasterArminas; January 22 2013 at 05:26 AM.
|January 22 2013, 02:39 PM||#66|
Location: Lexington, KY
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
|January 22 2013, 05:06 PM||#67|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
|January 22 2013, 10:35 PM||#68|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
The chapel was already filled nearly to capacity when Mathias stuck his head within. He nodded—good crowd of people, and all wearing their dress uniforms for the occasion. He stepped back into the corridor as he heard a throat clear behind him.
It was Tom, who had a very severe look on his face.
“Here to relieve me of command for killing a prisoner, Mister Jayne?” Mathias asked.
“No, I just want to know why you got to put a bullet in that jackass instead of me?” the XO replied and then he cracked a smile. “I understand the why—even if Cavil was . . . extremely shocked. You are hoping that you can get the Guardians and the modern Cylons fighting among themselves, while we just slip away, aren’t you?”
“It’s worth a shot, Tom,” Mathias whispered. “And don’t you worry—next Cylon that needs disposing of I’ll give to you.”
“You better,” Tom snorted. “Good crowd—and I see someone broke out the delicacies from Laveride’s hold. Only thing missing is the open bar.”
“We are launching our first attack right after the ceremony, Tom—I’d like to break out the sparkling wine for everyone, but there is one bottle for the happy couple. Everyone else will have to wait until scratch that sleeper ship from the universe.”
Tom nodded and his expression turned serious. “Ander’s data says they have two Basestars riding escort—it could get nasty.”
“That’s why we are leaving Aurora and Anubis here with the flotilla—we are going to jump in, have at them, and then get the hell out of dodge before the hornet’s swarm.”
“Ship’s ready—so are the fighter squadrons. All three of them,” he said shaking his head. “We could swap out those new Thunders for the squadron of Mk VIIs on the Aurora, Sir—there is still time.”
Mathis shook his own head no. “Best we find out now if they are any good, Colonel. Crew morale?”
The XO snorted again. “High. Going to kick some Cylon ass has really got these folks motivated—and the marriage is helping there too.”
“Speaking of which,” Mathias said as he began to grin at the fighter pilot swathed in folds of white silk and velvet and lace who made her way down the immaculate corridor. “Where the hells did you folks find a wedding dress?”
“We didn’t, Commander,” Tom chuckled. “Turns out we’ve got a couple of folks aboard who collected materials and made that dress—they did a damn fine job of it, didn’t they?”
Mathias nodded in agreement. Oh, the matrons who ran nuptial shops in the big cities would have clicked their teeth at the sight of the slightly mismatched sections quickly sewn together, the lack of a train or a veil; but, for here and now, it was the finest and loveliest gown in the universe.
The music began to play as the bridesmaids—all from Hope’s own Blue Squadron—entered the chapel ahead of her. She stopped though. “Commander,” she began, but Mathias shook his head.
“Not too late to change your mind, Digger,” he said jokingly, and she smiled.
“Oh, it’s too late, Sir. Would you do me the honor of escorting me down the aisle?”
“I would, Hope,” Mathias whispered. And he leaned in close and kissed her on the cheek. “You’re as lovely today as I had prayed my own daughter would be.”
She sniffed and held out her arm, which Mathias took. And taking a deep breath—the both of them—they began to walk down the aisle as the guests stood, towards Hope’s waiting fiancée and Brother Cavil clad in the white robes of an itinerant priest of the Gods.
|January 23 2013, 01:05 AM||#69|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
She chuckled. “Been there, done that, got the hickie,” she answered lightly, her face still glowing after the ceremony that had concluded fifteen minutes—just fifteen minutes!—ago.
Sinclair laughed. “I double-checked the bird, myself, Captain,” he said quietly. “She’ll get you home, Sir.”
Hope swallowed and she made herself smile and give him a thumbs up. “No doubts, Chief—no doubts.”
“Everything’s good, Digger,” he said as he stepped back and she reached forward and yanked the cockpit backwards. It slammed into place and a moment later the lights on the board turned green. She gave him another thumbs up, and he dropped down to the deck and saluted. The machinery pulled her Viper forward into the launch tube and the blast door closed shut behind her.
And then she waited.
The massive angular form of the Resurrection Ship floated in the void, two smaller vessels keeping it company as they drifted in formation. A sudden burst of light heralded the appearance of Scorpia—and the Cylons took note. Raiders began to launch from the escorts and the Hybrid aboard the Resurrection Ship spun up the FTL drives, even as the colonial Battlestar altered heading to ignore the escort ships and began firing torpedoes at their charge. And from the launch tubes and flight decks both, a swarm of Vipers and Thunders accelerated to meet their foes.
“Torpedoes One through Six are away—running hot, straight, and true,” Paul Cook snapped out.
“Commander, DRADIS confirms one Styx-class Resurrection Ship,” Joan Danis reported, using the new designation that Mathias had assigned. “Both escorts appear to be Cuttlefish-class,” she continued.
And Mathias smiled. From the descriptions that Cavil and Anders had given, the smaller Cylon ships he had assigned the name Cuttlefish were dedicated escorts—one-third the size of a Nova-class Basestar with less than a hundred Raiders apiece. Unlike the purely missile armed Novas, these warships carried heavy kinetic weapon batteries for their size, but not heavy enough, he thought. In appearance, their ventral dome resembled the old Geminis, with an eight-armed upper lobe; hence the name.
“Guns,” he said to Paul, “forward KEW batteries on the Styx when we enter range—broadside batteries on the Cuttlefish; we will let the pilots handle the Raiders today, but keep point-defense standing by to deal with missiles and kamikazes.”
“Yes, sir,” the tactical officer replied, passing the orders.
“The Styx is spinning up FTLs for jump,” Danis barked out.
“Time to torpedo impact?”
“Twelve seconds . . . MARK,” Paul answered.
“Forward guns will range on target in thirty seconds.”
Mathias nodded and he exchanged a look with Tom, who shrugged. “She’ll be gone by the time the guns range,” the XO whispered.
“Only if she can tank the torps, Colonel Jayne,” Mathias said quietly as he stared at the DRADIS.
The Resurrection Ship carried no weapons—not even point defense. And this sudden unexpected attack had arrived too quickly, too close, and she almost managed to jump away. Almost. Her ECM fooled three of the six incoming torpedoes, which went wide—the others slammed home just two seconds before she could have jumped away to safety.
And the Hybrid screamed as the heavy warheads struck home and explosions ripped through the engineering and command sections on the stern of the lattice-like frame. Explosions which damaged, among other things, both of her FTL drives.
Captain Simon “Hunter” Tarkin snarled as the Raiders closed. “Listen up, Blackhearts,” he called out to the crews of his squadron aboard the new Thunder fighters. “Let’s blow through these toasters and line up for an attack run on the Styx—time to show the Viper pukes how it’s done, people!”
He armed all eight of the forward cannon—but kept the four Hydra’s in the under fuselage bays safed. “Time to show the Vipers what steel rain really is!” he snarled. And then he switched from the squadron net to internal—“EW up, Vandal?”
Lieutenant Caroline ‘Vandal’ Falls snorted. “Up, up, and away, Hunter. All systems are green—and those fighters are closing fast.”
“Good,” the test pilot growled. “The faster they come in, the less time they have to realize how fracked they are,” and he bared his teeth as his HUD suddenly changed color—they were in range.
He squeezed the trigger and eight kinetic energy cannons began to spit projectiles at the oncoming Raiders. Eight from just HIS fighter—one hundred and sixty cannons from the rest of his squadron flying in tight formation. And the wall of tracers and explosive tipped shells slammed into the oncoming Raiders.
“Frack me,” Hope whispered as the new fighters opened up and thirty Cylon Raiders exploded in flames at the same moment, and she broke hard left unto the tail of two Raiders that swerved away.
“You’re spoken for,” her wing-mate Firefly answered as she stayed glued to her wing. “But if that was an offer, I’m good for a ménage a trois,” she continued.
“In your dreams, Firefly,” Hope chuckled as she squeezed her trigger and three streams of tracers reached out and connected with the wing of the first Raider—she altered course slightly as the second began to take very high-g evasive maneuvers.
“Every night, love,” Firefly cooed. “Every night, but it ain’t real. Merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”
“Digger, Scorpia,” the wireless broadcast, “six Raiders inboard on starboard flight pod with radiologicals—gun batteries are engaging the Cuttlefish. Intercept soonest.”
“I see them, Scorpia. Saint, Dutch,” she ordered as the second Cylon in her sights exploded, “Let’s go get them.”
“And that’s why we named you Grave-digger, Digger!” Firefly laughed.
Hope didn’t reply as she altered her vector and then stood on the thruster controls—and her Viper streaked forward back into the flight.
“Hunter is requesting permission for a pass on the Styx, Commander,” Captain Malcolm reported from his station in CIC. He was sitting this one out—neither Jester nor Sidewinder had yet certified him as combat-ready; so for today, at least, he was the eyes and ears of the air group in CIC.
“She hasn’t jumped,” Tom said quietly as Mathias thought. “The torpedoes must have taken out a piece of her drives—and eighty Hydra’s aren’t spitballs.”
Mathias nodded. “Permission granted, Prince. Tell him to launch his attack run—Guns, break off engagement as the Blackhearts enter the danger zone.”
“Aye, aye, Sir—forward batteries prepare to halt fire on my command,” Paul repeated into his phone.
Scorpia lurched to one side as a salvo of gunfire from the closer of the two Cuttlefish slammed home. “Multiple impacts on starboard flight pod and engineering—armor holding,” Tom reported as he continued listening to the reports. “Engineering reports a fuel line rupture in Engine Three—she’s taking it off-line. Moderate internal shock damage on all decks.”
He turned back to the blinking damage control board and frowned. “Those small ships hit hard, Commander.”
“That they do, Tom,” Mathias whispered as he examined the damage reports himself. “Guns, load a nuclear-tipped Hydras in Turrets Three and Four—your targets are those Cuttlefish. Let’s show them we aren’t playing around here.”
“That will leave us with ten warheads, not counting the ground-attack RVs on the Hades, Mat,” Tom whispered as he stepped up close.
“I know, but we can’t keep taking that hard of a pounding, Tom,” Mathias answered just as quiet and his XO nodded.
“Hydras and loaded and locked, Commander,” Paul sang out from tactical.
“Release of nuclear weapons is authorized and confirmed,” Tom snapped. “Fire the weapons!”
“Firing one! Two! Three! Four! All Hydras from Turrets Three and Four are away.”
Scorpia shivered and shook again, and then she jerked hard to one side—nearly knocking everyone in CIC off their feet. “Three kamikazes impacted port flight pod!” Prince barked out. “Fires in the hanger deck, port launch tubes off-line!”
Scorpia was wreathed in flame and fire—from her own guns and the detonations of the Cylon weapons, but Hope ignored that as she swung in behind the six Cylons bearing down on the ship’s starboard flight pod from dead astern.
“Scorpia, Digger, be advised incoming Raiders include two Heavy Raiders—repeat two Heavy Raiders,” she broadcast biting off a curse.
“Copy that Digger,” the voice of Commander Mathias broke through the static. Marines en route to starboard pod.”
“Take the Heavy Raiders first?” asked Saint. And her voice was uncertain—and Hope knew why. The other four were carrying nukes—the Heavy Raiders carrying a boarding party of Centurions; frankly she didn’t which was worse.
“Let’s compromise—shoot them all down!” she broadcast.
The four veteran pilots swooped in behind the Raiders and tracers streaked out again—one of the Heavy Raiders began to trail smoke behind it as the engines took a hit and three of the fighters exploded. But the two untouched and the damaged one continued to bore in. Damn if these Cylons aren’t smart, Hope thought. An approach from this vector was the most vulnerable of the Valkyrie-class ships—only a handful of point defense batteries could bear on this attack. She bit her lip and slid the targeting sight on the last Raider and she squeezed the trigger just as its missile bay opened—the fireball destroyed the Raider as well as both of the missiles it fired.
“YES!” she snapped.
“Was it good for you, Digger?” Firefly purred as she poured tracers into one of the Heavy Raiders—flashes of light as her shells impacted upon the heavy armor of the Cylon transport vessel.
“Almost got it,” Hope chanted as she slid behind the damaged one, and then she cursed as she broke hard to her right. “FRACK!” she yelled as she rolled out of the line of fire of two more Raiders that had slipped behind her—where they hells had they come from?
“On them, Digger,” said Saint calmly, “bastards just jumped right in.”
Firefly broke off as her target exploded, leaving just a single heavily damaged Heavy Raider that sailed into bay and slammed into the flight deck.
“Scorpia, Digger,” she snarled, “boarders in the starboard pod!”
“Copy, Digger,” came the answer. The two Raiders on her own six evaded fire and her Viper shook as one of the engines took a hit and she spun—but Saint and Dutch were there and before they could finish her off, both exploded, and Hope struggled to stabilize the damaged Viper—for the longest time it didn’t want to obey her, but then it settled down.
“Number Two engine is dead,” she reported, “fuel lines are flooded with fire suppressant; no loss in tank pressure. Starboard cannon off-line,” she noted, “and DRADIS is dead. Positive flight response,” which was good, she thought. “Saint, you’ve got the squadron, I need to get this bird on the deck.”
“Digger, Scorpia, be advised there is a fire in the port pod—negative on recovery at this time,” the calm voice of Flight Operations came over the channel.
“Copy, Scorpia—but correction on the tank pressure. It’s dropping now. Coming about on approach for landing in starboard pod.”
“Digger, Firefly,” her wingman said in a tense voice. “It’s not instrumentation; you are streaming tylium from a hole in the belly.”
“Digger, Scorpia, starboard flight pod has been boarded—advise you enter a holding pattern until Centurions have been eliminated.”
“Scorpia, Digger, my fuel is dropping fast—if I hold we lose the Viper. Coming in for landing on starboard deck.”
“I’ll clear the way,” Firefly said as she dropped her Viper directly in front of Digger and sailed through the flight deck opening—her cannons erupted in streams of fire as she ripped into the Heavy Raider and the Centurions flooding into the interior of the ship. “I think that got the ones that were left,” Firefly reported, even as the radio suddenly erupted with protests over what she had just done. But the Heavy Raider didn’t explode. Thank the Lords of Kobol, Hope thought.
She came in fast—too fast—but the rate at which the fuel was leaking meant to do otherwise would mean running out of fuel completely. She shot past the wrecked ship and couldn’t see any active Centurions—but just to be safe, she rotated around so that her cannons were trained on the hulk. And then she punched the engines, killing her velocity and slamming down on her skids. “Magnetic grapples . . . ENGAGED! I’m down,” she broadcast. That was when a Centurion emerged from the wreck facing directly towards her.
|January 23 2013, 03:40 AM||#70|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
“Hunter, Scorpia’s got problems,” Vandal said softly.
“Copy that,” he said after looking down at his own DRADIS console. “Blackhearts, kick it into overdrive—time to save our ride home.”
The not-quite-so-nimble heavy strike fighters flipped end for end, and each of the twin powerful engines lit off on full overthrust. At that moment, both of the Cylon escort ships lit off in the illumination of a fusion explosion. That did not stop the ordnance already inbound, and Scorpia staggered as more shells slammed into her armored flanks. But the Raiders numbers had been thinned by the Viper pilots—each and every one eager to get some payback—and now the Thunders of the Blackhearts soared back in.
Suddenly the odds flipped on the remaining Cylons and they ceased trying to engage the Vipers. Their Resurrection Ship destroyed, the Raiders vanished in the sudden flash of an FTL jump.
“All fighters, Rambler,” the wireless broadcast, “establish CAP and holding pattern—Cylons have boarded the starboard pod and there are fires in the port pod. Stand by.”
Damn, Hunter thought as he swept along the port pod and vents opened to vacuum, sucking out columns of fire and air—and more than a few crewmen.
“Air Group, Scorpia Flight,” the wireless spoke. “Commence landing operations. Stand by for immediate FTL jump upon touchdown.”
“Rambler, Hunter,” he broadcast. “They took care of the boarders?”
“Negative, Hunter; but the Old Man isn’t sticking around to face off against reinforcements. All pilots, be advised—there are Centurions aboard the ship, you will be attached to the Marines for a full stem-to-stern search once we have landed.”
Oh hell, Hunter thought as he approached the starboard pod from astern. What the . . .?
“Blackhearts, Flight Ops; be advised there is a crashed Heavy Raider on top of elevator seven—use extreme caution in landing.”
“Copy, Flight,” Hunter said, before switching back to the squadron only squawk. “Watch the toaster debris, folks; take it slow and easy on landing approach.”
“Oh, frack,” Hope said as the Centurion began to run towards her. She tightened her grip on the stick and squeezed the trigger—and the two functioning cannons began to spit fire, then whined and she looked down at the blinking ammo counters flashing ‘00’ and ‘00’. But that one twin burst had managed to catch the Centurion in the upper chest, and what was left of him went flying across the flight deck to slam into the far bulkheads. She sat back and closed her eyes and then unbuckled her straps and hit the release on her canopy. Unplugging from the Vipers life support, she went on her reserve air and crawled out of the cockpit—there was an airlock hatch just twenty meters away, and she needed to get clear in the leaking tylium decided to catch a spark—even without oxygen, the fuel was energetic enough to make a pretty big explosion.
She half-climbed, half-fell off the wing of the Viper and started to float back up before he she managed to get her magnetic soles engaged. But she didn’t float away. And she began to walk step by step towards the hatch—and the air beyond it. And then she hit her knees as a horrible burning pain tore through her right shoulder and a fountain of bright red blood floated away.
Hope twisted around to see the mangled Centurion making his way across the deck, one forearm gun—the only one that remained—making flashes as it fired soundlessly in the vacuum. She pulled her pistol from the holster and raised it as bullets sparked off the deck around her . . .
. . . and that was when fresh shells tore apart the Cylon; shells from a Viper that hovered five feet off the deck.
“Miss me yet, Digger?” Firefly asked, just before the world swam and Hope collapsed on the flight deck.
Her Viper securely on the deck, Lieutenant (j.g.) Catherine ‘Firefly’ Neuman rushed out of her cockpit and over to Hope. She checked the suits seals—and the emergency foam sealant had already deployed over the holes that the bullet had made, and she had plenty of reserve air. And her vitals were steady. “Hang in there, Digger,” she whispered as she hauled the woman to her feet and carried her across the deck to the airlock hatch. The hatch cracked open and Firefly raised her pistol in her free hand—but it wasn’t the Cylons. It was the deck gang in their orange and white environmental suits, and together they got Hope inside.
“All fighters recovered,” reported Prince from the Flight console.
“JUMP!” Snapped Mathias and Scorpia departed the system in a flash of light. “Status on the boarders?” he asked.
“Marine reaction teams have engaged Centurions on decks five and six, heading for main engineering and environmental. A third team was found in the crawl-ways—Aisne’s best guess is that they were trying to make their way to auxiliary control on deck seven,” Tom reported. “So far, that looks like all of them—we’ve killed twenty-two Centurions and the Heavy Raiders can haul forty max, according to Anders.”
“Thank lucky and idiotic pilots—there another eighteen still on the flight deck where Firefly strafed them,” Mathias said without any humor in his voice.
Tom barked out a brief laugh. “Sinclair’s furious—he’s going to rip Firefly a new asshole, Sir. If that Heavy Raiders tanks had gone up, it would have shut down the port pod for weeks—at least.”
“Damage?” he asked stepping up to the DC board.
“Major Church reports that Engine Three can be restored in a few hours—the fuel transfer pump was damaged in the attack, but we have a replacement in stores. The thing was shut down soon enough that tylium loss was minor—and fire suppression foam prevented another fire from breaking out. The starboard pod is in good shape, except for a few craters in the flight deck from Firefly, but the port pod took heavy damage to the armor with three penetrations. We’ve got fire damage in hangers D, E, and F, as well as port Flight Ops. Still, we got lucky—the fuel lines didn’t ignite, nor did the magazines. All guns are on-line and Lieutenant Gian assures me that we have enough spare armor plates in storage to repair the holes. Total casualties are forty-seven—including eight dead or missing.”
“I got cocky, Tom,” Mathias whispered. “We should have jumped in, salvoed nukes at the Styx, and jumped right back out, but I got cocky.”
“Mat, our losses were incredibly light,” Tom answered just as quietly. “And we took out that Styx—and both her escorts. That is a victory.”
“An expensive one,” Mathias replied. “Too expensive. I got greedy—and we paid for it,” he sighed. And then he smiled a crooked smile. “But I won’t beat myself up over it, you have my word.”
“Aw, damn,” Tom answered. “I thought that you might need me to beat you up over it, Sir. I’ve still got my boxing gloves, you know—if you start getting morose again.”
“I appreciate that, Tom. Any word from Sidewinder?”
“Not yet,” the XO answered.
“We will hold here until he returns—or until four hours have passed. After that, we will rejoin the rest of the flotilla.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
In another system, far away from Scorpia, Sidewinder examined his instruments one last time. “Final jump, people,” he broadcast. “Kaboose, double check those coordinates—I want us to waste as little fuel as possible,” they were on a close enough of a margin as it was.
“Checking nav coordinates again, Sidewinder,” the EWO reported.
Sidewinder looked down at his DRADIS. Today, he had twenty Raptors under his command. Not bad for a man who had commanded just eight two weeks ago. It was a full-strength Raptor squadron, and those were bloody rare outside of the biggest Battlestars in the Fleet. But the Commander’s shuffling of assets had put a total of sixteen on Scorpias flight decks, added to the two from Anubis and the four from Aurora. He had left a pair behind on Scorpia for SAR operations, but the rest were assembled here—and today, the Raptor pilots were hunters, not observers. Each was loaded down with four Hydra missiles in the drone bays and external hardpoints; his Raptor and that of Jester carried one fusion-tipped Hydra each and three of the more conventional ones. Just in case. By now, Scorpia would be jumping in to attack her target—but her Raptors, Sidewinder’s Raptors, were concerned with their own Styx in a system far distant from the Battlestar.
“Okay people,” Sidewinder broadcast. “Let’s get this one right—get in and salvo your missiles at the Styx—only at the Styx. I don’t care if you have mother Basestar of the Cylon Empress in your sights—every missile goes into the Styx! Then jump out and proceed to rendezvous with Scorpia independently. Jester and I will be the last two in the system—we jump after all of you jump, so don’t you make us wait! We have no Vipers flying cover, and the Battlestar is taking her own target, so today Raptors, we hunt!”
“HOO-RAH!” the pilots shouted over the wireless and Sidewinder grinned. “Stay frosty and lock your ordnance on target before firing—then get the hell out of dodge. We aren’t here to tangle with Raiders and Basestars—we want that Styx. And frack it all, we are going to get it! FTL jump in sixty seconds; all Raptors sound off.”
One-by-one, each pilot reported in that his systems were green and Sidewinder watched the jump clock flashing downward. Finally, Jester reported. “Jester is good.”
“All right,” Sidewinder said, “ten seconds. Get your game faces on and good hunting. See you on the deck, Raptors.”
And then there were twenty flashes of light and the Raptors jumped.
Last edited by MasterArminas; January 23 2013 at 03:54 AM.
|January 24 2013, 02:26 AM||#71|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
“Sidewinder, Jester,” the wireless broadcast in Stefan’s ear. “I’ve got tone—Hydras locked.”
“Take the shot!” Sidewinder snapped. An old First War Raptor streaked by his cockpit, the rear gun spitting out fire at a Raider on his tail, and Sidewinder squeezed the trigger again—but he missed this time . . . and the ammo counter on the pod showed just forty rounds left.
“Raptors! It’s too hot! Spin up FTLs and abort the attack, say again, spin up the FTLs and abort the attack!” he snapped.
“Jester’s missiles are away,” Kaboose called out. “Come on, baby, go, go, go, go!” the EWO yelled, even as Sidewinder saw that he had brought the FTL on-line and it was charging—twenty seconds to jump.
In combat, twenty seconds was an eternity and Sidewinder winced as he saw three Raptors explode from the combined fire of a dozen Raiders—and scores more inbound towards him. He triggered the missile defenses again—maybe that would absorb a few shells at least—and he jinked hard right; but then the Raiders pulled up and sped away. “What the . . .,” he began, and then there was a flash of light and a full-up Basestar appeared right in his face. “FRACK!” he yelled as he spun the Raptor on its wing and narrowly missed impaling himself on of the long angular limbs.
His heart sank as he saw hundreds of fresh Raiders disengaging from the hull of the Nova, and then he nodded and flipped up a clear plastic cover and pressed it. “All Raptors get clear,” he growled. And then he shifted course back towards the junction of the upper and lower lobes.
“What are you doing, Sidewinder!” yelled Kaboose, as dozens of missile launchers began to track them.
“Stand by to jump!”
“It’s not charged!”
“Stand by to jump!” he shouted again as he ignored the threat warnings and squeezed the trigger—four Hydras lit off their drives and dove towards the Basestar . . . one of them carrying a nuclear warhead. “Jam their sensors, Kaboose! Full power!”
“Lords of Kobol,” the EWO whispered as Sidewinder followed the missiles in the Raptor’s powerful jammers reaching out and blinding the fire control systems of the Cylons.
“The Styx is gone!” Jester yelled out over the wireless.
Sidewinder blinked, “All Raptors get clear! Meet at the rendezvous! Kaboose, jump in three, two, one, JUMP!” he screamed as the missiles still bore home just ahead of the Raptor—and he saw the start of the fusion ignition as the jump drive engaged and carried him clear.
|January 24 2013, 04:09 AM||#72|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
“Everything is off-line, Sidewinder,” the EWO reported as he turned on a battery-powered emergency hand light and opened up the rear console. A second passed, and then two, and Kaboose inhaled sharply, “Aw, frack me. Every one of these circuits is blown—some of them are melted.”
Sidewinder sighed—his were the same. “Check your radiation tag, Kaboose,” he ordered as he opened a sealed compartment and cranked up the emergency transponder, which thankfully came to life. “ET is transmitting,” he said.
“We caught a pretty good dose, Sidewinder,” Kaboose reported as he came forward. “Better to take the injection now to be sure.”
Sidewinder took one of the two syringes that his backseater held out and he removed the cap from the needle and inserted it in the flight suits injection point—the sharp prick as the needle entered his flesh made him wince again and then he injected the anti-rad cocktail.
“Any Raptor, Sidewinder,” he broadcast on his helmet wireless. There was no answer. “Any Raptor, Sidewinder, report,” he repeated, but only cold silence answered him.
“Break out the emergency radio from stores, Kaboose,” he ordered as he unbuckled the straps holding him place—and began to float. “Artificial gravity is out as well.”
“Everything’s down,” Kaboose repeated as he dug into the survival locker. Sidewinder made his way to the hatch and he unsealed it, opening it to the vacuum beyond. “We’ll get more range without the hatch in the way,” he said as Kaboose pulled it out, and Sidewinder plugged one cord into his helmet. “Any Raptor, Sidewinder. Krypter! Krypter! Krypter! Any Raptor, respond.”
Nothing, not even static.
“Sidewinder,” Kaboose said softly. “Without power, how much air can we pull from the reserve tanks?”
“We’ve air for days, Kaboose,” Sidewinder answered. But the suits batteries for heat would run out in just twelve hours, he thought. And there were no replacements for that onboard. “I want a full inventory of survival gear—and then double check our coordinates. We might have misjumped.”
“Could be,” Kaboose answered. “We took a lot of radiation real close up there, Sidewinder,” and if his voice wasn’t—quite accusatory—it did have a questioning tone.
“Only thing we could do to get the squadron clear, Kaboose. If we had pulled away, those missile batteries would have locked us up before we could jump. We had to get in nice and close.”
“Any closer and I could have tagged that Basestar with spray paint,” Michael said with a chuckle. “Well, at least we can claim a Nova kill,” he said and then he cursed, ripping up deck plates and opening a compartment and then he sighed. “The recorder is intact—the record of our kill is good.”
Sidewinder grinned. “Krypter! Krypter! Krypter! Any Colonial, this is Sidewinder. Repeat, Krypter! Krypter! Krypter! Any Colonial, this is Sidewinder.”
“Kaboose charge up the ET again,” he ordered. The emergency transponder wasn’t connected to the Raptor’s reserve power—no it relied on a hand crank to generate energy for a few minutes transmission. And muscle energy would keep them warm—for a while. He adjusted his own suit heat downward to conserve the batteries as much as possible, and then did the same to Kaboose as he cranked the ET steadily.
Suddenly Kaboose stopped. “Sidewinder,” he said. “Did you see that?”
The command pilot turned to the hatch and he shook his head. “See wh-. . .,” and then he saw it. Star-light reflecting off of a cockpit pane. And the glare of a reaction thruster. “Krypter! Krypter! Krypter!” he broadcast. “Are we glad to you guys! Raptor systems are dead—electronics are fried.”
“Attention unknown Raptor, this is Racetrack. Stand in the hatch—arms where I can see them,” a woman’s voice said as a bright spotlight suddenly illuminated the Raptor.
Racetrack? We don’t have a pilot named Racetrack, Sidewinder thought.
“Kaboose, move to the hatch,” he ordered as he did the same. A second Raptor turned on a spot light—shining through the cockpit.
“Racetrack, Shark,” the wireless broadcast, “no toasters on board.”
“Unknown Raptor, identify yourselves at once,” the woman said again.
Sidewinder licked his lips as the Raptor adjusted itself and he saw the emblem of the Battlestar Galactica painted on the side of her nose. “Racetrack, Sidewinder. I am Captain Stefan Greene, commander Raptor Squadron, Battlestar Scorpia.”
|January 24 2013, 04:50 AM||#73|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
“I know, Colonel Jayne,” he said as he looked at the clock. Four hours and forty-two minutes. He had stayed longer than he should have—but still Sidewinder hadn’t turned up. And if hadn’t, then he couldn’t. And that meant two more irreplaceable people—two good people—were dead and gone.
Six Raptors other than Sidewinder had not returned from the mission, but Jester had confirmed that the Styx had been destroyed—and that Sidewinder had all but rammed a Nova with an armed nuke aboard; that ship had been destroyed as well. He had held out hope that the veteran pilot had jumped clear at the last moment—Mathias had held out that hope. But they had waited for two hours and forty-two minutes without a single contact on DRADIS. And the flotilla was waiting.
“Colonel Jayne,” he ordered with a sigh. “Spin up FTL Drives One and Two. Set coordinate for rendezvous with the flotilla. You have the Conn,” and he walked out of CIC.
“Aye, aye, Sir,” Tom said to his back. “I have the Conn. Spin up FTL Drives One and Two. Set coordinates for rendezvous with the flotilla,” he barked.
Mathias wandered through the ship corridors, but he did not head to his stateroom nor to his day-cabin. Instead he walked into the surgery. And he crossed the deck to the young woman under the covers, her eyes closed as she lay in the bed—and the other woman who held her hand.
“She’s sleeping, Commander,” Irina said. “Doctor Bako said she’s going to be just fine—the bullet didn’t hit anything vital.”
Mathias nodded and he looked down on Hope. And he smiled. “You did good out there, Digger,” he whispered. “You brought your squadron through without a single loss—sleep well.”
He turned to go, and then Irina’s voice stopped him. “Commander,” she said.
He turned around.
“You can stay—if you want.”
Mathias smiled a very tired smile. “Hope has you, Doctor Toure. That is all that she needs—take care of her.”
“I will, Sir.”
Mathias walked back out of the surgery and he shook his head. Stop this, he told himself. Yes, you lost people—good people. But there are more good people counting on you. And he turned to head to the research labs where Doctor Sarris and his team were working with Anders on plotting a course towards the other survivors. The other Resurrection Ships can wait for another day, he thought. For now—for now—my people need to know that their sacrifices haven’t been in vain.
And he marched through the corridors with a purpose.
Last edited by MasterArminas; January 24 2013 at 05:02 AM.
|January 24 2013, 07:31 AM||#74|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
“You know, we can just show you our Colonial IDs,” Kaboose said, and Sidewinder nudged him in the side with his elbow. The four Marines riding in the Raptor and aiming their weapons at his chest made him more than a little nervous.
The Raptor pilot—Racetrack—had sent the second one back, and it had returned in the company of two more. And then, once both he and Kaboose had put their sidearms on the deck—and their survival knives—then, they had been allowed to board. To be greeted by an EWO named Skulls and these four humorless jarhead Marines.
Sidewinder had insisted that someone go retrieve their flight recorder—they had been just going to leave it over there!—and just to make him shut up, Racetrack had sent Shark across to get it. The pilot hated leaving the Raptor just floating out here—even with the damage her systems had taken, a good deck crew should be able to salvage it. But apparently, Galactica wasn’t going to be sending a shuttle to haul her back home. And that made no sense—she still had tylium in the tanks and compressed air onboard, and with a little work she could fly. But no, they had thrusted away from his bird—the bird he had flown for two years straight—and then they put a missile into her.
What a waste, he thought.
He felt the thrusters reverse—they had turned off the wireless in the helmets of both the him and his EWO—and then he saw the grey-metal struts of the flight deck fly by, followed by a THUD as the Raptor landed heavily atop an elevator. He shook his head slightly—that kind of a landing was hard on the landing struts that supported the Raptor atop her skids. It was sloppy and just plain bad flying.
The elevator jerked and slowly the Raptor began to descend down into the hanger deck. And still, no one said a word to him, not since they had told him and Kaboose both, “Sit down, shut your fracking mouth, and keep it shut.”
Another THUMP sounded as the elevator halted then dropped the last foot into its well in the hanger deck. Sounds like the old girl needs some maintenance, Sidewinder thought with a wry grin. These Jupiter-class ships were getting long in the teeth—and Galactica had been the oldest surviving one of them. Last he had heard, she was being converted into a museum ship destined for Caprica orbit—it was no wonder that her gripe sheet must be full to the brim and beyond.
The hatch opened and a hard-faced man, bald, wearing the uniform of a Colonel stepped inside. And Sidewinder pursed his lips together tightly. He knew that face, because he had been briefed on the Thirteen human Cylon models—Saul Tigh.
Joy. This is going to be fun.
“So what the frack do we have here?” the Colonel asked—which Sidewinder barely heard through his helmet, since they had also turned his external pickups off.
“They say their Colonial officers, Sir,” Racetrack answered as she squirmed her way back from the cockpit—a petite girl, dark-haired and pretty enough without her helmet. But Lords of Kobol, she was young! She must have been assigned aboard just out of basic flight, Sidewinder thought. “They claim to be from the Battlestar Scorpia—Shark has their flight recorder from their Raptor,” and she blushed. “They were the ones that reminded me to grab it before we blew their ship—it was damaged. The Raptor, not the recorder.”
“And they can’t talk?” Saul snapped. “Get their fracking helmets off!”
Sidewinder took a deep breath—the canned air in the suits wasn’t the best, after all—and then he caught the smell. The hot ozone of too many electrical shorts, the stench of grease on overheated bearings, the thick cloying odor of sweat, the faint musty trace of mildew and mold—this ship had fought, and she had not come out unscathed.
“Captain Stefan Greene, Colonial Fleet, Commander—Raptor Squadron, Battlestar Scorpia, Battlestar Group Twenty-Five, reporting, Colonel, Sir!” he snapped, but remained seated as the Marines hadn’t moved their weapons.
“Scorpia?” snorted Saul. “I don’t know what you skin-jobs are thinking coming here and trying to pull that crap—Scorpia was destroyed at Aerilon, with the rest of Fourth Fleet.”
“Scorpia was assigned to Second Fleet, Colonel, not Fourth, and we have been on a long-range scientific mission for the past two years—not in orbit over Aerilon. We just returned seventeen days ago.”
Saul shook his head. “Now I know you are telling a lie, son; we’ve been running for nearly eight months now; you can’t cover that distance in just seventeen days.”
“Check the flight recorder, Colonel—we had a misjump that put us way the hell over the Red Line.”
“Oh, I’ll check the recorder. Anything else you want to add?”
“Commander Mathias Lorne is in command of Scorpia—Thomas Jayne is his XO.”
Saul stood up. “You could have got from the Fleet records on Picon.”
“The Cylons nuked Picon, Colonel—I flew recon over it when we returned.”
“Well, tell me this, Captain Stefan Greene of the Battlestar Scorpia—Tom Jayne has a tattoo on his right arm. What is that tattoo of?”
Sidewinder snorted. “He has a tattoo on his left bicep, Sir. It is the head of a black bull, snorting, with ivory horns, their tips coated in blood.”
Saul nodded. “Okay, you might just be who you say you are—you might not, but you could be. That means you don’t go out the airlock right the frack now. But both of you are going to the brig until the Old Man decides what to do with you.”
He stepped back and nodded at the Marines, who motioned for Sidewinder and Kaboose to stand up. And when they did so, the Marines clamped irons on their hands and ankles and then hauled them away.
|January 24 2013, 10:24 PM||#75|
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)
William Adama nodded and he took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “It’s a hell of a coincidence, Madam President,” he said formally. “And it is possible—possible, mind you—that the flight recorder data and recordings are fabricated,” he scowled. “We have seen manipulation of recordings by the Cylons before. And we know that they can use our Raptors.”
Tigh snorted. “If it isn’t fabricated than that pilot in there has balls of pure tungsten; firing a nuke that close and following it to jump to FTL at the last possible moment—damn if he’s not as crazy as Starbuck.”
Laura frowned. “Is there anyone aboard the Galactica or Pegasus that might know them? I mean, if they are Colonial Fleet, someone surely has met them?”
“Madame President,” Lee Adama, newly promoted to command of the Battlestar Pegasus, said, “we had one hundred and twenty Battlestars on active duty before the attack—five times that number including the smaller ships. Two point seven million people in uniform, for the Fleet alone, that is not counting either the Marines or the Army. I’ve got their pictures circulating on Pegasus—and the Admiral and Colonel Tigh are doing the same on Galactica—but the odds are, we might not have anyone who knows these two individuals.”
“I see,” Laura said. “Have they been int- . . .,” she stopped, and then shook her head. “Debriefed?” she continued.
And Bill smiled slightly. “They haven’t been mistreated, Madame President. And no, knowing you, I did not want to begin questioning them until you could be here.”
“Where have they been all this time?” she asked. “How did they survive—and where are they?”
“Questions we do not yet have the answer to, Madame President,” the Admiral answered again. “I am holding them in isolation for now—no contact with any of the crew except their guards.”
“Separate from your pet Cylon, Bill?” Laura asked in a frosty voice.
“Separated from Sharon, yes, Madame President. She might be able to confirm or deny whether or not they are Cylons.”
“If we trust her,” the President snapped. “She’s a Cylon.”
Bill grunted, not wanting to spark yet another fight over the woman—the Cylon—that had so recently lost her child. He stood. “Madame President, if you want to question them yourself, you are welcome to join me.”
“Thank you, Admiral,” she said with a smile as she stood, “I think that I will.”
“So . . . you guys really are Fleet?” the guard asked.
Sidewinder just shook his head and smiled, but Kaboose snorted. “No, we just decided to steal a Raptor and a nuke and kill a Basestar for the hell of it.”
“No need to get snide about it, jailbait,” the guard spat. “You’ve been to the Colonies then?”
Silence descended on the room, along with a chill. And Sidewinder sighed.
“We have—it wasn’t pretty,” he said. “Where was home, Private?”
“Virgon,” he answered.
“No shit? Well, many have we got a surprise for you,” Kaboose perked up. “You’ll never guess who was running the resis- . . .,” but Sidewinder cut him off as the hatch slowly opened.
“Lieutenant Jamussa,” he snapped. “I believe that our debriefers are here.”
Colonel Tigh walked in and he glared at the guard and then made a jerking gesture with his head—his eyes promising retribution for holding a conversation with the prisoners. He was followed by a shorter, stouter, hard-bitten man wearing . . . the insignia of a Rear Admiral? Son of a bitch, Sidewinder thought. Then came a woman—a middle-aged woman—wearing a civilian business suit and skirt. Last, a younger man wearing a Commander’s tabs on his collar, along with a blonde haired Captain wearing the wings of a Viper pilot.
Sidewinder turned to Kaboose. “Michael,” he whispered, “keep your fracking mouth shut as much as possible.”
“Understood, Sir,” the EWO answered just as quietly.
“I understand,” the old man with glasses said, “that you two are claiming to be pilots from Battlestar Scorpia—you understand that this is a difficult thing to believe?”
“Yes, Sir,” Sidewinder snapped. “When we left the Colonies two years ago, you were a Commander—not an Admiral, Admiral Adama.”
“Things change, Captain Greene,” Adama answered. “You have already met Colonel Tigh. Allow me to introduce Laura Roslin, the President of the Colonies. Commander Lee Adama of Battlestar Pegasus, and Captain Kara Trace, CAG aboard Galactica.”
“Ma’am,” Sidewinder said to the President. “Captain Stefan Greene, Lieutenant junior grade Michael Jamussa,” he nodded at Kaboose.
“I believe that you were telling the guard you had a surprise from Virgon, Lieutenant Jamussa?” Laura said with a sweet smile. “I love surprises.”
Sidewinder sighed. “Ma’am, Scorpia has recovered a number of survivors from the Colonies—including Virgon. Prince Hamish, Lord Malcolm, was among them.”
The blond pilot—Kara Thrace—jerked at the mention of survivors from the Colonies, but she got an elbow from Lee Adama and kept her mouth shut.
Laura blinked. “Really? I’ve never understood the Virgon fascination with archaic forms of monarchy—but it will make the Virgons in the Fleet happy; if it is true.”
“How about we take this from the beginning,” Adama said.
“Yes, sir,” answered Sidewinder. “One question first: where is Admiral Cain?”
Bill Adama pursed his lips and Roslin kept that thin smile on her face. “Captain Greene,” she said, “Admiral Cain was murdered by a Cylon agent two months ago. I promoted Admiral Adama to his current rank, and Apollo proved to be the most qualified person available to take command of Pegasus.”
Sidewinder released the breath he was holding. “That will make things easier once Scorpia and the ships she is escorting arrives,” he said. But then he shook his head.
“The long story short? Two years ago, Fleet Headquarters dispatched Scorpia to carry a scientific team to a distant system to research an interesting stellar phenomena. We returned to the colonies seventeen days ago—which was when we discovered that the Cylons had attacked and the Fleet had been destroyed. We originally arrived at Typhon Station to find it abandoned with signs of an internal fight—we topped off our tanks and took the remaining supplies; Commander Lorne doesn’t like it when unexplained events happen, Admiral, Madame President.”
“We jumped into Scorpia about an SU out and discovered that the Fleet was gone—the Cylons were on top of us in minutes. We withdrew, and acting on the advice of one of our scientific personnel, we proceeded to an . . . unsanctioned colony. Criminals and terrorists, in the most part, but the world had ended. We came to an agreement and they had a couple of ships—including an old Orion-class Battlestar.”
Saul and Bill both jerked and Sidewinder nodded. “She’s ancient and she’s small, but she flies and her guns work. Turns out their leadership had a lead on some more ships,” and Sidewinder pursed his lips. “Ships that Admiral Cain stripped of their drives and then departed leaving their passengers to die in deep space.”
And at that, even Roslin looked down—Saul winced, and Bill Adama just nodded.
“We recovered the video evidence of the crimes aboard those ships—and the mass suicide of the survivors after Cain left them behind,” Sidewinder paused. “I believe that Commander Lorne intended to arrest Helena Cain for her crimes if he ever found her.”
Saul Tigh snorted. “Pegasus outguns a Valkyrie-class ship two-to-one, easily, Captain Greene.”
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, Colonel; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. And trust me—all of the Scorpia’s crew has plenty of fight over this . . . atrocity she committed on our own civilians.”
“We had plenty of fuel and supplies—we could have run,” Sidewinder continued, “but Commander Lorne felt we had a duty. To the survivors. We went back to the Colonies and by some act of the gods, we managed to make the Cylons pull back—long enough to recover survivors from nearly every world. There are almost fifty-five hundred aboard the seven ships we have.”
“Including Caprica?” Kara Thrace asked, brushing off Lee’s hand on her arm. “What about Caprica.”
Sidewinder smiled. “We’ve got your boyfriend Sam Anders aboard Scorpia, Starbuck,” he said lightly. “The man cannot stop talking about you.”
And then the smile faded. “Information from the resistance fighters on the different worlds led us to identify one human-form Cylon—a Brother Cavil, a priest.”
Lee Adama jerked. “What was that name again?”
“John Cavil,” said Sidewinder.
His face paled. “Admiral, there is a John Cavil aboard Galactica—he’s conducting services in the chapel.”
“Go,” Bill Adama growled. And both Lee and Kara took off from the brig at a run.
“We nuked Delphi,” Sidewinder continued, and Laura gasped.
“Did I understand you correctly, Captain Greene? You used a nuclear weapon on the sacred city of Delphi?”
“Yes, ma’am. There was a large concentration of Cylons there and Commander Lorne hoped that the sudden death might disrupt their networks—it did, and allowed us to retrieve the survivors. After that, we jumped out. We proceeded to a star emitting Ragnar-type radiation, where we thought we could take a moment to gather ourselves and decide on what to do. But we discovered Cerberus Station—a secret Fleet research base. Long story short, Admiral Trahn was working with the Cylons—we destroyed Cerberus and the Bezrek-class Aurora joined our flotilla.”
“You’ve got a Bezrek-class Fleet Operations Support vessel in your group?” Saul snapped, his eyes going wide. “With full tanks and holds? The industrial fabrication plant? The tylium processing plant?”
“Far from full, Colonel—but she has enough.”
“Continue,” Bill Adama said.
“The Cavil that we have cooperated with us; he provided us with information that allowed Commander Lorne to identify all known Cylon models—and he informed us that Galactica and Pegasus had survived and were on the run with a sizeable number of civilians. Using his information, we launched attacks on two of their Resurrection Ships—we got ours, but I don’t know if Scorpia’s attack was successful or not,” and he snorted. “But considering how agitated they were when my Raptors jumped in, I’d bet the Commander got his as well.”
“Then we misjumped and your pilots found us.”
Laura and Bill looked at each and then the Admiral nodded. “You know what all of the Cylon infiltrators look like?”
“I do, Sir—I was part of that briefing.”
“And there are Twelve of them?”
“Thirteen, actually,” Sidewinder said. “Admiral Adama, Madame President, may I speak with you in private?” he asked.
Laura cocked one eyebrow and she looked at Bill. “Saul, could you give us a minute?” the Admiral asked.
“I’ll be outside with the Marines,” he said, glaring at two prisoners.
Sidewinder waited until the hatch had closed and then he sighed. “Admiral, check your archival records for a civilian shuttle named Joyita—if Galactica doesn’t have it, Pegasus should. Scorpia had them, at least.”
“And the records will show us . . . what, exactly, Captain Greene?” Adama asked.
“Look at the passenger manifest—the photos of the passengers, Sir. I . . .,” he paused. “I don’t want to go further without proof in hand. Sir. I do ask that only you, or the President, examine the records. No one else, Sir.”
“Very well,” said the Admiral. He turned to Laura and he shrugged. And she shook her head.
“I want to believe you, Captain Greene—believe me, I do want to believe you. But I find it hard to imagine that one ship managed to accomplish so much in such a short time.”
Sidewinder snorted. “It’s true. If I were lying, wouldn’t I have come up with something simpler?”
“You might have,” Laura said with that crooked smile of hers. “Or you might believe that such a convoluted tale might have more credibility.”
There was a rap on the brig hatch and Bill walked over and cracked it; he whispered to Saul outside and then he opened the hatch and Karl Agathon walked in—he looked at the prisoners and he smiled, “Hello Stefan.”
Sidewinder’s face split into a grin. “Hiya, Karl—been a while. Those captain’s tabs look good on you.”
“Admiral, Madame President,” Karl said. “I went through Raptor School with Captain Greene—we were roommates for the EWO course,” he paused. “I never seen the other officer, but I know Sidewinder.”
Laura blinked and she drew in a deep breath. Admiral Adama nodded and then he smiled. “Madame President, I think that we can let them out of the cell, now,” he said with a broad smile.
She nodded, not trusting her throat all of a sudden, and when the cell was unlocked, she walked up and hugged—hugged—Kaboose, as Sidewinder and Helo shook hands and then clapped each other’s shoulders.
“You have no idea, how happy I am that others have survived,” she said.
Kaboose just stood there, and finally he said, “No, ma’am,” and he hugged her back.
Last edited by MasterArminas; January 24 2013 at 11:37 PM.
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