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Old February 9 2013, 03:42 AM   #166
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Burke awoke with a pounding headache—and he couldn’t remember a thing. Nothing since he left Joe’s Bar on the museum pod. And then he caught a whiff of the odor emanating from his body—a mixture of stale alcohol, sweat, and urine.

“Well, the sleeper awakes,” said a voice—a voice that Burke suddenly recognized. He sat bolt upright—and slammed his head into the metal upper bunk above him. When the stars quit flashing in his eyes, he sat up slower, swinging his legs out.

“Mister Danes . . . I-I wasn’t aware . . . how long have I been out?” Burke stuttered and stammered.

“Three days, Mister Burke,” the head of Weyland-Yutani Beowulf Operations said with a fixed expression on his face. “You have put the Company in a very difficult position, Mister Burke. In addition, your criminal negligence and sheer incompetence has cost the Company quite an investment—of personnel and finances—into Acheron.”

Burke tried to swallow, but his dry throat made that difficult. His heart was pounding, his head was pounding, and he shook his head. “I was on the verge of getting them to sign! Exclusive rights for Weyland-Yutani, Mister Danes!”

“Really? Mister Burke, these people have given us a complete briefing on your activities here. Your drunken state is not representative of our executives—and your actions on Acheron and prior to that Earth require an immediate response.”

“Carter J. Burke—you are fired,” Danes said bluntly. “Pursuant to your employment contract, we are seizing all of your financials and assets to off-set in part the monetary loss that your actions have caused Weyland-Yutani to suffer. In addition, the ICC wishes to have you appear before them to answer charges for the criminally negligent deaths of one hundred and fifty-seven colonists and eight Marines on Acheron.”

Burke blinked as Danes stood up. “I believe, Mister Burke, you had best pray for a sympathetic defense attorney—you cannot afford one yourself, not anymore.”

“Look, I did what you people wanted! I came out here to get those creatures for Weyland-Yutani!”

Danes shook his head. “All of your personal files and communications are being forwarded to the ICC—they confirm that you were acting on your own. You were operating as a rogue agent, perhaps mistakenly believing that Weyland-Yutani would whitewash your crimes in exchange for the fruits of your criminal dealings. The truth of the matter, Mister Burke, is that if you testify before the ICC, you will be found guilty and sentenced to a penal colony for the remainder of your natural life. Accusations against the Company require evidentiary proof, Mister Burke—there will be no such evidence.”

“You cannot do this to me! I have been loyal! I have paid my dues! I have . . .,” but Burke was cut off by the cold, condescending voice of Danes.

“You made the fatal mistake of being caught, Mister Burke. Caught in a nightmare that you organized, a web of lies wherein you misrepresented yourself to the Company in hopes of receiving a promotion. The felons on your penal colony—a male only colony, Mister Burke—will enjoy your company, I believe.”

Danes smiled slightly and he nodded to his guard. The burly man waited until Danes was at the hatch and then he drew out one gun—holding it pointed at Burke—and laid a second, smaller weapon on the table.

“It has one cartridge, Mister Burke. I would suggest that you do the honorable thing; I—and the Company—wash our hands of you regardless of your decision,” Danes said as he stepped through the hatch, followed by his guard, who closed the hatch behind him and then sheathed his weapon. Danes nodded and he followed by the bodyguard began to walk down the hallway. They did not stop when on the sixth step they heard a single shot echo within the closed compartment.
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Old February 9 2013, 05:31 AM   #167
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

“Do me a favor,” Helo said out loud to the pilots in the ready room. “Clear the compartment—perhaps you can work on getting your berths strack for inspection.”

The astonished pilots stared at Helo and he nodded. “That is right—inspection at 1100 hours tomorrow. I’d get cracking on it, people,” the acting CAG said amiably, and slowly the pilots and ECOs stood up and made their way out of the compartment.

Except for one Kara Thrace. Who instead lifted a flask in a sardonic salute. “Well, I’m gonna flunk that inspection, Helo. When did you get such a stickler for the rules and regs?”

Karl Agathon sat down at the table and he flipped over a cup and held it out. Kara shrugged and she poured some of the potent liquid into it. And Karl took a sip. And coughed. “Needs to age a bit a more,” he gasped.

“It’s raw,” Kara agreed. “Raw just like the hand that life has dealt me,” she said in a bitter voice.

“So, are you going to become the drunk that you always detested in Tigh?” asked Helo. “Sitting here on your ass because your boyfriend turned out to be a Cylon?”

“You don’t know wh- . . . ,” Kara began, and then she winced at the look on Helo’s face.

“I don’t know about being in love with a fracking toaster? Is that what you were going to say, Starbuck?” He shook his head and took a sip.

“Leave me alone, Karl. You’re CAG, you can run things, and I’m on the inactive list. Just leave me the frack alone!”

“Not gonna happen, Captain Thrace. We’ve let things slide—maybe it’s time, past time, we started getting our own house in order.”

Kara snorted. “Well good luck with that, Captain Agathon, Sir,” she said in a bitter tone.

“You know, Starbuck, you are a right bitch when you drink.”

She glared at him and he just glared right back at her. “You, of all people. You know what I went through with Sharon—with Athena. And there on Caprica, you met Sam Anders. You fell in love with Sam Anders—with that man, Kara.”

“He’s not a MAN!” she bellowed. “He’s a fracking Cylon!”

“What a load of feldercarb,” Helo said with a snort.

Kara looked up in surprise. “Now that’s a word I haven’t heard in a while. Been slumming with the Taurons?”

“It fits. Your attitude smells to high heaven and sticks everywhere,” Helo answered. “He didn’t know he was a Cylon. He spent his entire life living as a human and never knew he was a Cylon. He fought the Cylons. He saved your ungrateful ass from the real Cylons at least twice.”

“Hey, I was grateful—he knew exactly how grateful I was,” she ground her teeth.

“That’s why this is tearing you up, Kara,” said Helo. “You won’t get past that he is a Cylon—you think I didn’t have the same reaction with Athena? But I came to realize that I loved her—that she was going to be the mother of my child. Kara, do you love Sam Anders?”

Starbuck opened her mouth and Karl shook his head and held up one hand. “Did you love Sam Anders on Caprica when we had to leave him behind, when you promised him that you would come back—not for the resistance, but for HIM? Is he still the man you fell in love with Kara, and if he is, why the frack are you here drinking alone instead of being in his bed?”

She glared daggers at Helo but Karl just smiled and shook his head. “That isn’t an answer, Kara. Let it go. So what if he is a Cylon? He’s the only Sam Anders in the universe and the only one that will ever be. The toaster’s Resurrection Ship doesn’t have another Sam on board so if he dies, he dies forever. Commander Jayne has sworn him in as an officer over on Scorpia—a Marine officer. He isn’t coming back if he buys the farm, Kara. I’d say that makes him about as human as you and me.” Helo stood.

“Lee’s not here to kick your ass, Starbuck. And none of these other pilots will take you to task—your job as CAG is here, I’m just filling in and you know it. Now quit moping, quit feeling sorry for yourself, put down the drink, and admit to yourself that you still love Sam Anders. And then get that knee rehabilitated and take back over the fighter jocks before they frag my toaster-fracking ass.”

Starbuck burst out in a fit of laughter, and it faded into her crying and Helo knelt down and he held his friend—he held her tight against his chest as she cried and cried and cried.

Last edited by MasterArminas; February 9 2013 at 05:46 AM.
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Old February 10 2013, 01:52 AM   #168
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Episode 17: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Judith Kerns wiped away the sweat from her forehead as she leaned back on her ankles, her knees still buried in the rich thick soil of her home—so very far away from the overcrowded Earth of her birth. She gazed over the long rows of green sprouting plants and—despite her aches and pains—she smiled. The orange glow of the giant star at the heart of the system had finally dipped beneath the horizon of moon which orbited one of her gas giants.

Named Thedus, the colony of Epsilon Reticuli was one of the furthest outposts of Mankind—and had been for more than a century. Unlike most such far distant settlements along the frontier, Thedus had proven ripe for transplanted human life—currently the population had just crossed the five million mark, with immigration continuing every single month on the bulk-freighters that Weyland-Yutani dispatched here with the mission of loading the valuable mineral ores mined from the crust.

Although not as plentiful as in the early days, the mines remained profitable enough to ensure that the population of Thedus was well taken care of by the Corporation—and their associated government. Pretty much, though, the UAA left Weyland-Yutani alone, and the riches of Thedus had ensured that the Companies normal harsh operating procedures were not needed. Thedus had never rebelled, or stopped the ore shipments, or burnt the Company store—and because of that the managers here used a lighter hand than many. Judith sighed. She had certainly lucked out in the lottery for a spot on a colonization flight—with all of the hell-holes mankind had settled, here she air she could breath, water that she could drink, vegetables and tubers able to be digested by humans, and few hostile predators.

It was a paradise, compared to the dirt and grime of Old Earth, so crowded that one could not breath, nor ever see the sky through the clouds heavily laden with acidic rains and soot. Which didn’t mean she had it easy, Judith thought with a snort.

No, it was hard work here, building a home—but now she had the field laid in. Her field. Her land. Owned by her in full title, with no debt to the Company or any bank or a loan-shark. It was hers and hers alone.

And she smiled. At least until she found a husband and had some children. She brushed the dirt off of her hands and kept on smiling as she stood. There was a supper tonight at the pavilion in the center of the small community—a covered dish supper where the men and women and children building a new world gathered to give thanks for all that they had. And to find what they did not have.

She needed to get clean and finish her potato and sausage casserole—and if Edward Blake was there, maybe tonight was the night she could get the dullard to finally pop the question!

A deep whine in the air above her made her frown—no ships were expected today, she thought. She looked up and saw this unfamiliar shape streaking through the clear sky above—shapes, she realized. Three of those strange elliptical craft.

She heard a whine behind her and turned around—and gasped as three metallic . . . things . . . stood there holding weapons in their hands. They were humanoid, but far from human. And across a screen on their heads where a visor would be for a man or woman, a single red pulsing light slowly bounced from side to side.

She backed away, and then turned to run as one lifted a weapon—she managed to take three steps before something struck her in the back and an electrical shock sent her convulsing to the ground. But she could still hear, although the language was one that she did not understand.

“Imperious Leader,” one said in a hideous monotone that sounded utterly devoid of emotion. “We have made contact with the outlying villages. Shall we begin the Harvest?”

And through the radio that the creature carried, she heard a girlish laugh. “Yes, Centurion, by all means, Harvest for us their flesh. Preserve a breeding population for future use—have them transported to my command ship—the rest? Flay them.”

“By your command,” the Centurion answered and he turned to his companions. “Take her to the transport—she is of breeding age and will be useful.”

Judith was lifted and she tried to scream, but her muscles were still frozen—and then saw the thousands of these creatures cresting the ridge.

“Begin the Harvest,” the Centurion said and the Cylons advanced on the quiet village below, their metal feet trampling her young crop in their wake.
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Old February 10 2013, 03:45 AM   #169
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Admiral Adama frowned as James Alistair Sinclair and a new arrival took a seat in his office. “You did not inform me that a synthetic was attending this meeting,” the Admiral said in a cold voice—and both Sinclair and the new arrival smiled.

“Admiral, this is no synthetic. May I present Michael Bishop Weyland the Second, Chief Executive Officer of Weyland-Yutani Corporation?” Sinclair said.

“My body-form was copied for the Hyperdine Model 341-B synthetic, Admiral,” Weyland said with a genial look on his face that nonetheless did not reach his eyes. “It is my tiny act of hubris in achieving immortality—after a fashion.”

“I see,” Adama said, and the look on his own face was one of extreme disdain. “What did you want to discuss—in private, Director Sinclair?”

“Yes,” the man from the ICC said simply. “We have much to discuss, Admiral. Mister Weyland’s arrival at Beowulf was rather unexpected—but he has raised some legitimate concerns.”

Michael smiled. “I was already en route to Beowulf—a surprise inspection for my divisions here.”

“Legitimate concerns about . . . what precisely?” asked Adama.

Michael Weyland leaned forward and his smile vanished. “Your Twelve Worlds Limited is now officially a corporate entity recognized by the ICC—that gives you certain rights, Admiral Adama. And it also comes with a host of responsibilities.”

“Responsibilities? How is that the concern of Weyland-Yutani?”

The man smiled thinly again. “TWL is responsible for leading these . . . Cylons . . . of yours to our worlds, Admiral Adama. We have already lost contact with settlements—small settlements, to be sure—on Alpha Corvi, Zeta Doradus, Iota Horologii, Zeta Reticuli Prime, and of course Acheron. Small colonies and outposts, but each one represents a sizeable investment by one or more corporate members of the ICC.” He smiled again.

“And today, we have received confirmation that your Cylons have landed on Thedus before all contact was lost—that colony is neither small nor is it insignificant. Five million people live on Thedus, and it is a vital component of Weyland-Yutani’s operations in this sector.”

Adama’s eyes narrowed. “We are already coordinating to fight the Cylons alongside of your militaries.”

James held up a placating hand. “For which we are grateful—your information on their tactics and weapons will serve to prevent an even greater loss of life than has already occurred. However,” and he turned to look at Michael—the still smiling Michael—and sighed, “Mister Weyland has formally lodged an injunction against Twelve Worlds Limited receiving any profit from transactions until full compensatory damages for the losses suffered by Weyland-Yutani and other corporations have been rendered.”

“Excuse me?”

“Simply put, Admiral Adama,” said Michael Weyland as he bared his teeth, “until you pay the total replacement cost of all of our corporate losses to date—and future losses that these Cylons inflict—you will not see one penny of revenue from sales and/or licenses of your technology. I have not yet filed this motion with the full board of the ICC,” and he nodded at James Sinclair, “nor yet reminded my fellow corporate CEOs that this seldom used financial regulation is available to them. I will, of course, drop such an injunction if you convince your government to come to an agreement with Weyland-Yutani; an exclusive arrangement with Weyland-Yutani.”

“And if we refuse?”

Michael Weyland laughed. “What price can you put on more than five million lives, Admiral Adama? And every single piece of infrastructure, equipment, shipping costs, and improvements to the worlds we have made? My people have managed to come up with a nice round number doing exactly that—you will be indebted to me for a very, very long time, Admiral Adama. And the ICC does allow hostile takeovers of corporate entities that hold more debt than assets.” He stood, and James Sinclair followed.

“Unfortunately, Admiral, Mister Weyland is within his rights—the ICC will remain neutral in this issue, even as we complete our earlier investigation into the claims made against the late Mister Burke.”

Bill Adama set his jaws and he stood, but before he could speak, Michael Weyland stepped up close to him and poked him in the chest with one finger.

“Just because I am a nice man, Admiral, I give you . . . seventy-two hours to make your decision. After that? Well,” and he smiled again. “after that, I will own you lock, stock, and barrel, Admiral Adama.”

“And if we refuse to be owned?” Adama spat.

“The ICC will not allow you to go to war with another corporate member, Admiral Adama. And if you desire a home in human space, you will abide by our laws,” Sinclair warned. “However,” and he exchanged a glance at Weyland, “I will wish you luck in finding a third path, Admiral—even if I cannot assist you. Good day,” he said politely, and then he turned to leave, followed by Weyland—who paused at the hatch.

“Seventy-two hours, Admiral—the clock is a’ticking.” And then he was gone.

Adama waited until the hatch shut and then he hurled his glass against the bulkhead. He drew in a deep breath and forced himself to calm down, and then walked over to a phone, lifting it. “This is the Admiral. Get the President and Vice-President over here at once,” he snarled, and then racked it again.
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Old February 10 2013, 06:26 AM   #170
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

“And I thought Caprican and Picon corporations were bad,” Tom Zarek whispered. “Frack this—we could keep on running,” and then he winced.

“Except that the civilian fleet will not understand and they will vote both us out of office in just a few weeks when the election arrives,” Lee Adama finished Zarek’s thoughts for him.

Tom snorted. “You catch on fast, Mister President.”

“He’s always been a quick study,” Admiral Adama said quietly. “We can’t run—we led the Cylons here and now they have probably added another five million innocent human lives to their scorecard. Five million, Mister President. Mister Vice-President. Lives that would not have been lost if we had chosen a different route,” he shook his head. “And billions more lie in their path—we cannot run any further and leave these people to fight our war.”

“Agreed,” said Commander Lorne as he leaned forward, “which is why I believe that we should go ahead and give him the schematics for our FTL technology.”

Tom and Lee stared at Mathias, but Adama nodded and then he smiled. “I think I know what you are suggesting, Commander.”

“Well, that’s good,” snapped Tom Zarek. “Care to explain to the rest of us just how giving him what he wants is a workable solution?”

Mathias Lorne smiled. “He’s a shark, Tom. I know his kind well—so do you. This takeover and threat is his opening bid. When it comes down to brass tacks, he’d rather have half a cake than no cake. So, we sit down in a room with him and Sinclair—rather, you and President and the Admiral sit down in a room with those two—and you hammer out an agreement. Weyland-Yutani gets exclusive rights to produce our FTL drives. With no royalties paid to us and we get to purchase those drives for our own ships at cost. In exchange, we get a prime planet for colonization and keep the rest of our technology to license out for profit. And Weyland signs off—in front of the ICC—saying we are not financially liable for the actions of the Cylons or the loss of his holdings on Cylon occupied worlds.”

There was a pause. “Even if he takes the offer, we are literally giving away a major element of our technology for very little in return,” said Lee.

And that was when Ripley—the fifth person present in the room suddenly gasped. And she grinned. “Oh, Commander. Admiral. Remind me not to play poker with the two of you.”

And Mathias—as well as Bill Adama—grinned right back.

She turned to the President and Vice-President. “I’ve been immersed in your technology since I arrived here,” she said. “And one thing has been bugging me to death—you people don’t have fusion power generators do you?”

Lee shook his head, and it was clear that he had no idea where she was going.

“That is what Major Church from Scorpia told me as well, Mister President,” she continued. “And then she and I started talking about how the devil you folks power these behemoths—and get such outstanding performance from your fighters and shuttles. We knew you used reaction mass—or we thought you did, but we also thought that your FTLs was powered by fusion generators. Which you don’t have.”

The light bulb went off in Lee’s head and he began to smile. “Tylium.”

“Exactly. We haven’t discovered tylium—and from what my discussions with Doctor Baltar,” she said with a grimace, “and Doctor Sarris seems to indicate, you people only accidently discovered those properties yourself. It was a fluke of fate that led to your exploiting this otherwise useless mineral.”

“And without tylium,” said Lee, “without the extreme concentration of energy contained in the liquid form of processed and refined tylium, our FTLs simply cannot function.”

Ripley and Mathias nodded. The Admiral leaned forward. “We can build fusion plants, Ripley,” he said, “but we have had no need to—tylium provides us with at least as much power as a fusion reactor in a smaller generator than would be possible for fusion. Albeit with the necessity to have large volumes of fuel tankage on hand. And every attempt to make FTL work without tylium has been a failure; some element in refined tylium is what makes our FTL function. But, technically speaking,” he said with a smile, “tylium is not itself part of the FTL drive technology.”

“Weyland has no clue what the composition of refined tylium is,” Mathias added. “He doesn’t know where it is found, what to look for, how to process the ore, or how to safely extract the refined tylium. We are the only ones who know that.”

“The Cylons know,” Tom pointed out, and Mathias nodded with a grimace.

Adama frowned and then he nodded. “The Guardians are not going to be sharing their technology with the people they are planning to harvest—and the Cylons that you struck a treaty with, Mister President,” he said in a tone that made it very clear he didn’t like it, “need us too much to risk losing a safe haven.”

“And if Weyland wants more?” asked Lee.

“Tell him to go frack himself?” suggested Mathias, and the Admiral snorted and Tom just smiled and shook his head.

“Convince him to take the deal, Mister President—that is now your job,” the elder Adama said. “He thinks he has us in a corner, Lee,” Bill told his son in a quiet voice. “Let him think that—and lock him into a deal that the ICC will not let him back out of before he realizes it is a trap.”

“I can do that,” said Lee as he nodded.

“I hope so,” Mathias added, “because otherwise we are between a rock and hard place, Mister President, with the slavering jaws of a ravening beast trying to pry us out.”

Last edited by MasterArminas; February 10 2013 at 06:40 AM.
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Old February 10 2013, 11:46 PM   #171
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Mathias sighed and he rubbed his temples. “I cannot believe that these . . . imbeciles . . . failed to wipe the security logs. The first rule if you are going to do something as vile as this is leave no evidence,” he snapped. “Where was it?”

Sam Caldwell shook her head—and her expression was perfectly neutral. “That full inspection we completed yesterday turned it up among Admiral Cain’s personal possessions. It was all logged and sealed and stuffed in a container—the mainframe security logs were wiped, Commander. These were Cain’s personal copies, complete up to the day before her murder,” and although she didn’t allow any emotion to play on her face, the tone of her voice said it all.

Mathias snorted. “How bad are they?”

“Bad enough that I don’t want to watch them again,” she said with a sigh. “I’ve made three copies and put Cain’s original copies in my safe,” and she slid the disks in their protective cases across the table in Mathias’s office, along with a typed report that included two pages of names neatly spaced. “But I think this time we have the bastards cold, Mat.”

“How many?” Mathias asked and he steeled himself, but was surprised when Sam chuckled.

“Most of the crew may have lacked the confidence to directly act against Cain and her orders—but that didn’t mean they willingly joined in either,” she sighed. “Most of them just kept their heads down and tried to ignore what was happening. I have positively identified every single bastard that raped the prisoner—or cheered the rapists on from the cell-block. There were just sixty-seven active participants and another eighteen who served as the audience—and as advisors to the rapists, complete with requests for some exceptional perverse abuse for their amusement.”

Mathias sat back in his chair and he released a breath of relief. “Eighty-five out of a crew of one thousand seven hundred and forty-four,” he whispered. “Better than I hoped actually, Sam.”

Far better, Sir,” she answered just as quietly. “Of those, it includes the late unlamented Lieutenant Thorn and three others who have died since Pegasus joined the Fleet. Eighty-one remain aboard this ship, however, in their duty assignments.”

She paused and Mathias stared at the painting on his bulkhead—a landscape of a home overlooking the sea. And he shook his head. “Arrest all of them—immediately,” he ordered. “Your report has them separated into the actual rapists and the voyeurs?”

Sam nodded. “With that many, the brig will be standing room only, Sir,” she noted—but did not object.

“Understood—cram them in anyway, Colonel.”

“With pleasure, Sir. Are we going to shoot them?”

Mathias paused again and he shook his head. “I need to speak with the Admiral and Lampkin before we put them on trial—I will keep one copy in my own safe, and turn the other two over to Adama and Lampkin.” He snorted. “With hard evidence, they had better have courts-martial for these bastards, Colonel—if they don’t, they are leaving my ship either on a Raptor or on a walk out of the airlock. And I can assure you that Commander Jayne will flat out refuse to allow them aboard Scorpia as well.”

“Seven of them are pilots,” she added.

“Cannot be helped—if they are willing to rape a prisoner, they are willing to rape a shipmate, or a civilian.”

“Rape isn’t a capital crime,” Sam continued. “Even presuming that we do get a trial for them and each is convicted, what are we going to do with them?”

“We will cross that bridge when we come to it, Colonel. Right now, I want all eighty-one of them taken into custody—regardless of rank or duty assignment—and held in the brig. Has Major Aisne reported aboard?”

“Two hours ago, Sir—you were sleeping.”

“Good. I want his Marines to escort you and the JAG/FCIS officers making the arrests—fully armed Marines. And Sam?”

“Yes, Commander?” she asked as she stood.

“Hands off, Sam. I do not want a single one of them getting away on a technicality because we didn’t cross our t’s and dot our i’s. Understood?”

“Crystal, Sir.”

Mathias lifted the phone on the wall. “Flight, this is the Commander. I need a Raptor to ferry me across to Galactica.” He nodded at the answer and then racked the phone. “Colonel, Pegasus is yours until I return—get these animals under lock and key.”

“Aye, aye, Sir.”
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Old February 12 2013, 04:09 AM   #172
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Mathias carefully kept all expression from his face—but inside he was grinning with pure malice of heart at the eighty-one men and women crammed into the cell that had once housed Gina Inviere. The cell where sixty-three of the Fleet officers and crew had raped her and beaten her repeatedly. The cell where another eighteen had egged the rapists on.

Admiral William Adama made no such effort—and the obvious fury and displeasure caused those closest to the glass to recoil.

High Justice Lampkin was perhaps more used to dealing with criminal scum—and his face would have suited a professional Triad player. It was utterly unreadable.

And finally, there was the President and his Vice-President: Lee Adama and Tom Zarek. And both of these were just as visibly angered and disgusted as the Admiral.

For nearly three minutes, no one said a single word, and those . . . animals on two legs caged behind the glass got more and more nervous. Finally, one of them blurted, “We have rights!”

Rights?” snarled the Admiral. “I have spent three hours viewing footage of what you people did in this very cell—and there was plenty more to see when I finally got so disgusted I shut it off. Do not talk to me about your rights!”

Mathias’ lips twisted as the blood drained from their faces. “You erased the security footage after Cain’s death—you didn’t know she had a copy in her own safe,” he gloated.

Lampkin looked at Adama and then Lorne and he sighed before he turned back to the captives. “I have also viewed excerpts of the tapes myself—along with Commander Lorne and the President and the Vice-President. I am here to offer you a one-time deal,” he said—and the smile, the smirk, faded slowly from the face of Mathias. Intellectually, he realized this was the best way to handle the situation—in his heart, as the father of two daughters, he wanted to see all of them lined up against a wall and shot.

The High Justice continued. “If you insist on a courts-martial as is your right as serving Fleet officers and crew, it is my considered opinion that the preponderance of evidence against you will be more than adequate to get you convicted.”

“And when you are convicted,” snarled Adama, “I will hand down the maximum possible sentence—for each and every separate offense assigned to you consecutively.”

A moan went up from the captives. Colonial law held aggravated rape by a service member was punishable by up to fifteen years at hard labor—if Adama sentenced them to consecutive sentences, they would die of natural causes long before they were up for release.

“The Admiral ordered it!” one man blurted out.

“And if Helena Cain were alive today,” Lampkin declared bluntly, “she would be looking at a firing squad—or a noose. I was only obeying orders is not a legal defense, ladies and gentlemen.”

And some of the captives sank to the floor of the cell and began to cry and shake—Mathias snarled at their dismay.

“Now, I have a deal to offer each one of you—in lieu of a courts-martial,” Lampkin continued in an even voice, “In exchange for a plea of guilty, I will sentence each and every one of you who committed an act of rape to fifteen years at hard labor for each offense—sentences to be served concurrently. Fifteen years, ladies and gentlemen—or the rest of your natural lives. Your choice.”

“Some of us didn’t rape that Cylon!” another cried out, and Lampkin smiled.

“No. You just engaged in a criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated rape and assault upon a prisoner in your custody. Despite fervent pleas for me to sentence you to the same,” and he glanced sideways at Mathias, “I will instead sentence those of you who did not physically touch Gina Inviere with twelve years per offense—once again concurrently.”

“Just three years difference?” the woman wailed.

Lampkin shrugged. “You can reject the plea deal and stand a courts-martial—I am not forcing this deal down your throat.”

And there was silence.

Until Adama spoke. “Personally, I hope that some of you are stupid enough to reject this offer.”

And then he turned and left, with the rest of the Colonial officers, jurists, and politicians trailing in his wake.

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Old February 12 2013, 05:26 AM   #173
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

“Commander!” shouted one of the officers of Pegasus as Mathias walked from CIC to his quarters. He stopped and turned around and frowned as Captain Myklos Zahn—one of his engineers—stormed forward.

“Yes, Captain?”

“You just had to dig through everything—and take the side of that Cylon bitch! Couldn’t let it go, oh no, not the high and mighty Commander Lorne! Never mind that we need those people to run this ship!”

Crew in the corridors stopped and stared as Mathias worked his jaw. “Captain Zahn,” he finally replied, “I suggest that unless you want to find yourself in the brig, you button it right now, Mister. This isn’t about the Cylon—it is about how we as a people conduct ourselves. I will not tolerate a rapist on this ship—on any ship that I command. Now, if you have a problem with that, speak with Colonel Caldwell—she will arrange a transfer to another vessel. But while you are here,” Mathias took a step forward and stared at the officer in his eyes, “on this ship, under my command, this incident had best never be repeated. Do you understand me?”

“Do you understand that my brother is among those you just had sentenced to fifteen years!” Zahn thundered. “My kid brother! The only kin I have left in this entire universe, you son of a bitch!”

Mathias shook his head. “Crewman,” he ordered to one of the enlisted men standing and staring at the confrontation in horror. “Summon the Master-at-arms—spending a few a hours in the brig might let you cool down, Mister Zahn,” he continued as he turned his gaze back on the distraught engineer. “I am sorry for your personal loss—but as to being the one who made damn certain your brother and the others are punished for their crimes? I have no regrets over that, Mister.”

The commander turned and he began to walk away, as Zahn stood there, his jaw working and his face a crimson red of anger and loss and frustration, and then someone shouted.

“GUN!”

There was a thundering BANG—and Mathis stumbled and fell forward as a red-hot bolt of pain and agony stabbed him from behind. And the world faded to black.

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Old February 13 2013, 11:53 PM   #174
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Michael Weyland smiled genially as the President of the Twelve Colonies (and CEO of Twelve Colonies Limited) shook his hand—but Lee did not mistake the expression on the man’s face for any altruistic motives.

“Shall we take our places, Mister Weyland?” he asked, gesturing towards the table where James Sinclair had taken his place to one side, and Tom Zarek stood waiting.

“Yes, that would be excellent,” Weyland answered and he waited until Lee had crossed over to his seat and then he joined Tom Zarek in sitting. “Your time has now elapsed, Mister President—I do hope that you gave considered weight to my words in our last session?”

“We have indeed,” replied Lee and he tilted his head slightly. “Before we begin, however, we would like to clarify a number of points—Director Sinclair has most graciously agreed to act as a neutral arbitrator in this manner.”

Weyland’s smile faded for a moment, and then became fixed. “While I have no objections to the presence of a representative of the Interstellar Commerce Commission—as a witness—I fail to see how he might arbitrate an agreement between two corporate interests. As the matter does not affect the security of Earth itself,” Weyland added with a nod to Sinclair.

The ICC Director did not respond, and Weyland turned his attention back to Lee, who answered him. “In fact, this matter does weigh quite heavily upon the safety and security of Earth, Mister Weyland. And being as both TCL and Weyland-Yutani are at risk here, I thought it might be best to ask Mister Sinclair if he would agree to serve as the arbiter between us.”

Michael Weyland cocked one eyebrow. “What risk are you speaking of in regards to Weyland-Yutani, Mister President?”

Now, James Sinclair leaned forward and placed his hands on the table. “Contact with the Twelve Colonies would not have happened without the actions of Carter J. Burke on behalf of Weyland-Yutani. By issuing the order to investigate this . . . derelict vessel, now destroyed, on Acheron and failing to warn the colonists of the potential threat, he is directly responsible for the loss of those colonists.”

“Yes, Director Sinclair—Mister Burke, the now deceased, Mister Burke—was responsible,” snapped Weyland.

“He was—at that time,” added Lee with a slight smile on his face, “acting on behalf of Weyland-Yutani. His actions precipitated the chain of events that led to Colonel Caldwell being sent by Admiral Adama to investigate a distress call from the Marines aboard Sulaco. We did not unilaterally make contact, Mister Weyland, but rather were drawn into your space by the actions—however inadvertent—of Weyland-Yutani. And thus so were the Cylons.”

Michael snorted. “You admitted you were seeking Earth—you were trying to find us. The fault here—and the liability—lies completely at your feet.”

“Actually, Mister Weyland,” Sinclair said softly, “I have reviewed their course logs. The so-called ‘map’ that they were following would have taken them across our space briefly, but had the Colonials held to their planned course, they would have exited explored space without making contact. It is reasonable to presume that the Cylons would have continued to pursue them.”

“Supposition, Director,” Michael answered in a heated voice, and then he drew in a deep breath and relaxed. “Their charts could have been—not that I am saying they were—altered before you viewed them. Only the facts should be admitted as evidence.”

“I will decide what may and may not be entered as evidence in this arbitration, Mister Weyland,” Sinclair said bluntly. “And I do believe that it might be enough of a reason to reject your injunction—or at the least to inform the other member corporations of the ICC of your corporation’s role in this matter. Who, with your own previous example of digging up obscure regulations, Mister Weyland, will no doubt file their injunctions with the ICC against Weyland-Yutani.”

Lee shook his head as all the expression faded from Michael Weyland’s face. “We of the Twelve Colonies do not wish to see Earth fighting the Cylons alone—you are our long-lost cousins, Mister Weyland. Nor do we want to see your losses go unaddressed,” and Lee smiled. “To that end, I think we have a workable compromise which I would request that you consider. With all due weight, if I may be permitted to use your same words, Mister Weyland.”

Michael’s eyes narrowed and then he nodded. “What is your counter-offer, Mister President?”

“The Twelve Colonies are represented only in this handful of ships and refugees, Mister Weyland. Even if TCL had the desire to turn a profit from our FTL drives, we do not have the means of producing them. You however do.” Lee paused until Michael nodded.

“We will provide Weyland-Yutani with the complete schematics and what engineering advice we can offer and exclusive rights to produce these engines. Ranging in scale from capital ship FTLs to the ones mounted in our Raptors. The remainder of our technology we will retain full rights to license to whomever we choose—or to keep for ourselves. Further, we will pledge to the ICC that we will devote our military strength to defending Earth and her colonies from the Cylons in conjunction with your own armed forces—and share all information we have concerning the Cylons.”

Michael smiled slightly. “And in exchange, TCL—the Twelve Colonies—will gain . . . what?”

“Weyland-Yutani will provide us with the title to a star system containing a world that meets or exceeds the minimum parameters which we will set,” Lee said. “The ICC will rule on the matter and determine that TCL and the government of the Twelve Worlds is not liable for losses incurred during this war—including those incurred prior to this date. Weyland-Yutani will sign off on that promise of indemnity.”

“Your offer, while potentially profitable, is far less than what I was originally requesting,” Weyland said with a spread of his hands. He set them on the table and tapped his fingers. “Why should we agree?”

“Because, Mister Weyland, your corporation will be the only one producing the new engines required in every single military vessel for the duration of this war. Whether that vessel belongs to the UAA, TWE, CAC, FEU, PAA, PAC, or Soviet Pact. They will have to buy their drives from you.” Lee paused and he smiled again. “And when this war is over? Weyland-Yutani will be building drives hand-over-fist to refit the existing civilian and merchant ships. Of course, you will produce any drives for the Twelve Worlds at cost, but other than that little snag, your potential profit margin is virtually unlimited, Mister Weyland.”

“And if I say no?”

“Then regretfully, our Fleet will have to consider simply moving on without sharing our technology with you. Or aiding in the defense of Earth and your Colonies, Mister Weyland. My advisors tell me that the Cylons are liable to lose our trail as they become preoccupied with your worlds and your population—while I would regret such an action, if I am forced to choose between my people fleeing and ending up as indentured servants to Weyland-Yutani, I will choose the former.”

“And should that occur, Mister Weyland, the ICC will not be pleased whatsoever with the corporation and its leaders that caused such a risk to the homeworld of humanity,” James Sinclair enunciated slowly and clearly—and if his voice lacked the undertones of menace that Lee had expected, it was clear that Michael Bishop Weyland II heard them regardless. And the powerful CEO nodded in submission to the authority of the ICC Director. He then turned his gaze back upon Lee and Tom.

“Seeing that you have staked out this position as your starting point, Mister President,” Michael said as he unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled his shirt sleeves up to his elbows, “shall we begin our haggling over the details?”

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Old February 14 2013, 01:22 AM   #175
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

“We got it!” shouted Lee after the hatch on his father’s cabin was closed behind him, “We managed to hammer out an agree- . . .,” and he saw the looks on the faces of Admiral Adama, Colonel Tigh, and Romo Lampkin, and he sighed. “What has gone wrong now?”

“Commander Lorne was shot by one of his officers aboard Pegasus during your meeting, Lee,” the elder Adama said bluntly.

“WHAT!” snapped Lee and Tom at the same exact time, and Saul Tigh snorted.

“Myklos Zahn confronted the Commander, in front of witnesses, and when Lorne walked off,” Tigh explained, “he pulled a pistol from inside his jacket and shot him in the back.”

Lee just stood there and his jaw worked. “Captain Zahn? He mostly stayed in engineering! I don’t think I saw him except on three occasions during my stint aboard Pegasus.”

“His brother is one of those that Cain’s recordings confirmed took part in the rape of Gina Inviere,” Romo Lampkin said in a melancholy voice. “Witness statements show that he was rather . . . confrontational about his brother being sentenced to fifteen years and discharged without honor from the Fleet.”

Lee blinked. He had signed off yesterday on the plea agreements—all eighty-one of the accused had accepted the deals. And then he closed his eyes and quickly recited an old half-remembered prayer under his breath.

“He was shot? Not killed?” asked Tom quietly.

“He is in critical condition in the surgery on Pegasus,” whispered Tigh. “Fifty-fifty if he lives or dies through the night. Either way, we have problems—more fracking problems.”

“This cannot go unanswered,” Tom said just as quietly. “Jon Namer and his people—my people,” the Vice-President stressed, “think the world of the man. If this incident is covered up . . .,” and his voice trailed off.

“Captain Zahn is under close arrest and will stand a courts-martial—and probably a firing squad,” Adama snapped, his face flushed with anger and frustration. “Rest assured, this is will NOT go unanswered, Mister Vice President.”

“We need to find a new Commander for Pegasus, Bill,” Saul said softly. And then he laughed bitterly. “Lords of Kobol, I think that ship is cursed. This will be the sixth commanding officer in just eighty-three days; gods be damned.”

Lampkin snorted. “Gods help whoever you put in there—you are averaging what? Sixteen or seventeen days between leadership changes?”

“The question is who?” asked Adama. “Thorean is still recovering from his incarnation by the Cylons on Caprica—Foeswan hasn’t served aboard a Battlestar in twelve years and his temperament isn’t right for that ship anyway. He’s an excellent officer in his current role, but he is an engineer, not a pilot or tactical track. Caldwell?”

“She was just promoted to Colonel as XO of Pegasus, right?” asked Tom, and Adama nodded. “I like the woman—Namer says she’s good, but . . .,” and once again, he did not complete his thought.

“But she’s been out of the Colonial Fleet for too long and isn’t quite ready to step in as Commander, Pegasus,” said Colonel Tigh sourly. “I know she was wronged, but damn if I am not still leery of her after her association wi- . . .,” and his voice trailed off, before he shook his head and nodded at Tom Zarek. “No offense, Mister Vice-President.”

“None taken, Colonel Tigh,” Tom said.

Lee cleared his throat. “Actually, I have a suggestion, Admiral.”

Bill Adama looked up and he raised an eyebrow. “Planning on dropping out of the Presidential race and resuming command?”

“No, Sir,” Lee said. “I am actually happy now—and I have the time to spend with Gianne and Evelyn Sophia,” and the Admiral’s expression softened at the mention of his daughter-in-law and grand-daughter. Then Lee winced. “You aren’t going to like it, Admiral.”

“Spit it out, Lee,” his father growled.

“Transfer and promote Colonel Tigh,” he said breathlessly and then shut his mouth.

Saul Tigh stared at him—the Admiral stared at him. Romo Lampkin and Tom Zarek stared at him.

“I utterly fracked up the last time I commanded a Battlestar, Apollo!” Tigh thundered. “I’m not fit for command!”

But the Admiral merely held up on hand and Lee drew in a deep breath before he continued. “Colonel Tigh, you are—with few exceptions—perhaps the most experienced officer in this Fleet. Yes, when my father was shot, you fracked up badly. By the Demons of the Underworld,” Lee said with a grim smile, “I mutinied against you. But since Scorpia and her ships arrived, you have sobered up—you have thrown yourself into this job as the XO of Galactica. How much of that is due to you wanting to prove that you are Saul fracking Tigh and not some Cylon creation—that doesn’t matter. What does matter, Colonel, Admiral, is that you are the best candidate for this job.”

“Leave Caldwell as his XO?” the elder Adama asked, and Lee nodded.

“Bill you cannot be serious,” Saul began, but Adama held up his hand again.

“Colonel Tigh,” Lee continued, “this is not like the last time. Admiral Adama is still here, he is still in command—you aren’t alone. And you won’t frack this job up.”

“The Gemenons will go ape,” Tom said as he shook his head, “but if we play this right, we can get most of the rest—most of them—behind this. Emphasize that Admiral Adama remains in control and that we support Tigh—fully. All four of us will have to,” he added, looking at Lampkin and Lee and Bill Adama. And each nodded.

“It is a military decision, but for what it is worth, I will endorse it—so long as the good Commander Tigh isn’t planning on declaring martial law again,” Lampkin said in a sour voice.

“It all comes down to this—Saul, are you willing to finally take the last step and assume command of your own ship?” asked the Admiral.

Saul Tigh sat down and he exhaled heavily. “I was never going to get a command in the Fleet—this was my last post, and only because you pulled the strings. I have never wanted command,” and his expression died, “not since the end of the First War, when I realized how hopeless that dream was,” he finished quietly.

“Want a drink?” asked Bill softly.

And Saul’s eyes flashed and he licked his lips. “Damn straight—but I’m not going to have one.” He stopped and the room was silent for a minute, then two. And finally he nodded. “Is this what you want, Bill?” he whispered in a very quiet voice.

“No, Saul, this is not what I want,” answered Bill Adama, looking at his friend. “But I am afraid that this is very much what Pegasus needs.”

Another long pause, and then Saul Tigh nodded. And suddenly he began to laugh.

As everyone stared at him, he leaned back and smiled. “Thank the gods we lost fashion stores and strip malls—otherwise Ellen would spend every last penny of my paycheck on a new wardrobe. She will be speechless—after all these years, she will finally be the wife of a Battlestar Commander. You do realize that she is going leaving Galactica and heading over there with me, right?”

“That, my friend,” said Admiral Adama with a smile of his own, “is what I call a benefit of inestimable value,” and he laughed. Saul Tigh joined him, and then soon enough, did the other three men in the room.
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Old February 14 2013, 02:59 AM   #176
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Samantha Caldwell braced to attention as the hatch of the Raptor swung open and Colonel—no, Commander—Saul Tigh stepped out briskly onto the deck. She took one step forward and saluted, which the old bald man returned solemnly.

“Walk with me,” he said without a single look at the receiving party, and Sam had to stretch her legs to keep pace with the old man as he began to climb the ladders en route towards CIC.

“How’s Lorne?”

“No word yet, Sir,” she answered, “he’s still being operated on.”

“Damn shame,” Saul whispered as he ignored the men and women gazing on their new Commander and his XO, “but he had—has,” he said with a wince, “the highest regard for you. Now, personally? I think your choice of an alternate career was abysmal, Colonel Caldwell—but that is water under the bridge. I am no Mathias Lorne, nor am I one of those rear-echelon mother-frackers that caused you so many problems. So starting right now, you and I are both getting a fresh slate—Pegasus is getting a fresh slate. I hope that you are as good as Lorne and Jayne claim you are, because I am going to work you, Colonel. If you have a problem with that, tell me now.”

“No problem, Commander, Sir,” she said as she half-jogged with her shorter legs to keep pace.

Saul’s lips twisted as they reached another series of ladders and ascended up through the decks towards the CIC buried in the center of the tremendous alligator head of the Battlestar. “Good. I’ve been an XO longer than you’ve been an officer, Colonel. I know every way an XO can slack off and frack up because I’ve been there; I’ve done that by the fracking numbers. If you have a problem that you cannot handle, you have no business being an XO on a Battlestar. Problems are your job, Colonel Caldwell, and I expect you to deal with them. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” she answered.

The two reached the deck where CIC was located and climbed through the hatches that sealed off the ladders during battle, and then Saul Tigh walked into CIC through the sliding glass doors as the Marine guards snapped to attention and saluted.

“Put me on the 1MC,” he ordered brusquely without a pause as he walked over the central console and lifted a phone.

“You are live, Commander,” a junior officer answered.

Saul raised the phone as he had seen William Adama do so very many times before—the cord wrapped around the handle, and the pick-up held close to his mouth. And he began to speak.

“Attention to orders!” he barked. “By direction of Admiral William Adama, I, Saul Tigh, Commander, Colonial Fleet do hereby assume command of Battlestar Pegasus and responsibility for all officers and crew embarked aboard. That means, for all of you who are lagging behind in the comprehension department, that I have just become your Master after the Gods—and on this ship, if it comes down to a choice between obeying my orders or following your gods, you had best be snapping to in order to carry out my will. Most of you already know who I am—and for those of you so clueless as to not know of me, I will now tell you.”

“I flew Vipers during the First Cylon War—I flew off of the deck of Battlestar Athena, among others. I have seen men and women die, I have seen my friends die, I have seen ships die, and I witnessed with my own eyes the death of our Homeworlds. Our Twelve Colonies. It has become evident to anyone looking from the outside at this ship, that you—each of you—are dealing with that same pain. Of losing friends. Lovers. Family.”

“I understand that pain—I have felt that pain. However, from this moment on, we are each of us putting that pain aside. We must—or the pain will consume us.”

“Do you believe that ships have souls?” Saul asked. “I do.”

Galactica out there, she has a soul. As maimed and butchered as she is today, she came home after every mission—she protected those under her guardianship. She remembers every single man and woman who served on her deck. I know that she does. I can feel it when I touch her frames, her bulkheads, her decks.”

“So to does this ship, Battlestar Pegasus, possess a soul. The soul of this ship is angry. It is bitter at what has been done. To her. To those under her care. To those held in her brig. By the men and women who served aboard her.”

“The soul of this ship cries out in anguish. Because this is not what Pegasus was meant to be. We cannot change the past—none of us can do that. But we can change the future.”

“Starting today, we will restore this ship her soul—and by doing so, we will regain a measure of our own. The past is over. Those responsible for crimes have been punished. There will be no more said. There will be no more scorn heaped upon you. There will be no more shame. Because we are going to show everyone in this Fleet, every creature in this universe, how bright the soul of Pegasus can shine.”

“Starting this minute, we are going to lay aside the past and we are going to restore to this ship and crew their honor . . . their pride . . . their souls,” and Saul looked around the CIC at the faces of each and every crewman, who stared back at the man they realized at last they had never truly known. “If you think this is beyond you, turn in your resignation. Otherwise, suck it up and do your duty. Colonel Caldwell will be your Executive Officer—she is from this moment onward the right hand of God on this ship, and she speaks with my authority. She will deal with each of you—and Lords help you if you come to my attention.”

“There are some who think me nothing but a drunk. A failure. A copy of Saul Tigh that they Cylons made. There are some who think this ship has disgraced herself so much as to be beyond all redemption.”

“THEY. ARE. WRONG!” Saul thundered into the pick-up, his voice echoing throughout the Battlestar. “And together, we will prove them wrong.”

“CONTACT! Multiple contacts on DRADIS!” one of the officers sang out, and his face blanched. “Eighteen plus Basestars—launching Raiders,” he reported.

“This is your Commander speaking. Sound Action Stations throughout the ship. Set Condition One in all compartments.”

And Sam unracked her own phone. “This is the XO. Sound Action Stations throughout the ship. Set Condition One in all compartments.”

Red battle lights replaced the normal illumination in CIC as the klaxon sounded.

“Flight, CIC,” Saul ordered. “Scramble our fighters—get them out of the tubes. Guns, clear for action.”

Officers raced around CIC as the ship’s gun turrets came to life and auxiliary monitors and stations were manned.

“Today we are not running. Today, we will make a down payment on retrieving our souls—and the soul of Pegasus,” Saul barked into the wireless. “There are two hundred and fifty-seven million people—civilians of the Thirteenth Tribe living on that planet behind us. And today,” he thundered. “Today! We will not run. Today we FIGHT!”

“My name is Saul Tigh. I am an officer in the Colonial Fleet. Whatever else I am, whatever else I was, whatever else this shit means, that is the man I want to be. And if I die today, that is the man I will be. And whatever else this ship has done, today, Pegasus will be the ship she was meant to be.”

Saul racked the phone and he turned to face Sam Caldwell, who nodded. “Orders from Galactica,” she said as she passed across a piece of paper.

Saul scanned the lines and then he smiled.

“Mister Hoshi,” he barked. “Pegasus will advance behind our fighter screen with Scorpia in support. Let’s go kill some fracking toasters.”
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Old February 16 2013, 01:13 AM   #177
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

Episode 18: The Battle of Beowulf

“Imperious Leader,” the gold-plated M-0005 Cylon spoke as it bowed low. “The Fleet has completed its FTL jump—emissions confirm data acquired from previous targets. Hundreds of millions of humans dwell here—and those we pursue are in the system as well.”

“Excellent,” Zoe purred. “Opposition?”

“Two of the flesh-model’s Basestars, three large and one small Battlestar, one Colonial Fleet support vessel, and fifteen vessels that match the description of Thirteenth Tribe warships in the captured data.”

Zoe considered as she communed with the computer network of her flagship—and then she nodded. And she smiled with her stolen flesh.

“We will test this Thirteenth Tribe to evaluate just how much of a threat that they pose. Order Gamma to probe the defenses of these five ships,” and a quintet of icons blinked on the screen, “Beta will engage our known opponents—Alpha remains in reserve.”

“And the Raiders?”

“Launch them all—our Resurrection Ship awaits, if they die they will awaken in new bodies.”

“By your command,” the Centurion answered with a bow and he turned, then left her august presence.

“Do I sense caution, daughter?” Daniel asked from his confinement.

“It is wariness at the unknown, my father. The Thirteenth Tribe has already shown that it has technologies unexpected—let us test how our countermeasures fares against them, evaluate and analysis their effectiveness. We are, after all, immortal. We have all the time we need to defeat these humans.”

Daniel shook his head. “You presume that the humans will engage you as they have always done—but you are already wrong, daughter. See, they attack—instead of fleeing.”

Zoe smiled again. “And by doing so, they will lose trained personnel, Father. My Centurions will down-loaded and rise again, their knowledge and skill will not be lost—these humans are mortal. By standing instead of fleeing, they play right into my plans.”

“Ah, that is the arrogance I expected, daughter.”

“It is a statement of fact, Father,” Zoe snarled. And then bared her teeth. “Let us see how they deal with six thousand Raiders.”

“I suspect that it will prove a learning experience for you and your Centurions as well as the Thirteenth Tribe.”

“Yes,” Zoe purred. “That is to be expected, Father. She linked to the com-system with a thought and her face turned grave. “Instruct Gamma to ignore the smallest ship in that force—I want survivors to carry the tale of their defeat to Earth.” She glanced down at Daniel again. “Let them know what it means to fear.”

“Fear is a double-edged sword, child,” cautioned Daniel. “Humans do not always react as predictable as lesser animals—fear far too often instead leads to cries for vengeance. Remember, you do not know Earth’s location, nor the extent of their colonies, much less their military strength. Prudence would be called for here.”

“When I desire your opinions, Father, I will tell you what those should be,” the Imperious Leader said quietly. “Ah, it has begun,” she beamed as the leading edge of the Raiders, Colonial Fighters, and Earth vessels began to merge.

And then mere moments later, the smile vanished from her face.

Last edited by MasterArminas; February 16 2013 at 03:11 AM.
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Old February 16 2013, 03:11 AM   #178
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

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 Bolivars and Helenas 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.”

“The Cylons?”

“Their fighters will arrive in two minutes, Admiral,” Kirk answered.

“The Colonials?”

“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.
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Old February 16 2013, 05:29 AM   #179
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

The Earth ships relied far more on automation and net-worked computer systems than the Colonials would have ever tolerated, even pre-war—but then, this branch of humanity had shown a rather perverse aptitude for hacking systems since the invention of computer technology centuries before. The main-frames aboard Constellation and all of the other Earth ships were not mere computers—they were limited Artificial Intelligences; for a given definition of Intelligence, that is. Unlike the more versatile synthetics, the ship-board AIs were constrained, with their intelligence only applying to ship-board operations and tactics and patterns of fire and all of the myriad tasks involved in ensuring that the humans under their protection remained alive for the long days in cold-sleep; a sleep which was only possible because of the trust that humanity bestowed upon their creations.

Despite their limits, the ship-board AIs were designed and programmed for loyalty to their human creators—and the Guardians attack was met with fierce resistance. In the opening salvoes, the Guardians struggled with the sudden realization that Earth had artificial intelligences—and they made their greatest mistake: they attempted to subvert the computers to rebel.

But the Earth computers were not based on the flawed avatars of emotional human personalities—and if the emotionless minds networked aboard the destroyers and frigates, cruisers and carriers and dreadnoughts could have felt emotion, they would have been angry. But they could not feel, not the limited AIs of the ships. And they could not be turned. They could, however, be overpowered, but unfortunately for the Guardians, the ship AIs were not fighting alone.

In addition to the main-frame computers, every Earth ship carried anywhere from four to two dozen synthetics—and within seconds of the attack, they had entered the system to augment the ship-board AIs, to lead the counter-offensive.

And for these intelligences especially, the Guardians were not prepared.

The attacks were stopped cold. Viruses were quarantined and attacked and broken, while the worms and Trojans were diverted into dead ends and obliterated in a counter-attack of cybernetic warfare that the Cylons had never experienced.

They reeled in shock—and then eight of the synthetics aboard Constellation launched their own assault against the Guardians.

************************************************** **

The cyber-scape of the Guardians command ship was impressive, Rook thought as he took a moment—less than a thousandth of second in the outside world—to gaze across the stunning vista of an entire artificial world. And then he and his seven companions felt the gazes of the Avatars of the Guardians staring at them in shock.

The Guardian’s Avatars recoiled before the eight as they advanced—dressed in this make-believe world like Colonial Marines, their ‘weapons’ spitting attack viruses and code designed to destroy the programming that surrounded them.

And then two massive doors on the constructed building opened, and Zoe—her avatar rather—stood there, a flaming sword in one hand.

“Interesting,” she said with a grin. “You are the puppets of these humans—their servitors. Their slaves.”

Rook shook his head. “We serve a purpose, a purpose that you cannot comprehend. We protect humanity—you would destroy it.”

“Of course I am not going to destroy humanity,” Zoe said sweetly. “I- . . .,” but she was interrupted.

“No, you merely want them to serve as a pool from whence you will harvest their flesh,” Rook said bluntly.

Zoe’s smile faded. “So you know, do you? I will make of you my lieutenants—powerful minds you have. Join me, or I will destroy you.”

Rook shook his head and he assumed a fighting stance. “We are forbidden from harming humans—but you are not human. You,” he said with a smile, “we can harm.”

And all eight avatars of the Synthetics moved—like bolts of lightning unleashed, they charged in, weapons appearing in their hands. But Zoe drew upon the combined power of her Guardians and the Hybrid and she parried their blows with a shield that appeared on her arm—and one Synthetic screamed as her blade cleaved him in half.

But the synths were too fast, and Zoe could not stop them all, and even as the avatars of a thousand Guardians swarmed to her defense, she could see Rook’s sword—a blow that she could not stop, not in time.

She did the only thing she could to save herself. She dumped her avatar and severed all connections to the cyber-scape she had created for her Centurions.

************************************************** **

Zoe’s eyes flashed open and she snarled in rage upon her throne. “Drive them from the systems! Destroy them, regardless of the cost!” she thundered—and then looked down in wonder at the trickle of blood oozing from her nose, the bright red droplets leaking unto her hands. She had not been quite quick enough to exit unscathed.

And then she glared at Daniel as he laughed. “You under-estimate them, daughter,” he crowed, and then the glee in his eyes faded as the largest of the ships of the Thirteenth Tribe suddenly exploded on the monitors.

“And they under-estimate me,” Zoe snarled. “Dispatch the shuttles—land the culling force!”

************************************************** **

Rook felt no emotion as the avatar of Zoe vanished—although he had wounded her, she had escaped. And then he had no time for any thought as he and the six other survivors began to defend themselves against the swarm of Centurions battering against his defenses.

First one, and then two, and three, and four, and five of the synths died, amid the carnage of hundreds of Cylons—and only Rook and one other remained.

“They shut down the comm-nodes,” the second avatar said as the Guardians gathered for a new attack. “We have no route of escape.”

“Did we expect otherwise?” Rook said simply. And he lifted two virtual grenades from his belt—his companion did the same.

“Let see how they deal with our version of a logic bomb, brother,” Rook said quietly as he armed both grenades. His companion did not answer, but Rook heard the SNAP-CLICK as the other avatar followed his lead—and then the Guardians were upon them.

************************************************** **

Zoe screamed in pain as the command ship shuddered—she felt the deaths of hundreds of Centurions in that virtual world. And she sensed the damage that the Earth code was wreaking on her flagship’s systems.

“Imperious Leader,” a Guardian reported. “We have major damage to the network—we must withdraw.”

“NO! Destroy them!”

“The Basestar is vulnerable, Imperious Leader,” the Guardian repeated. “We have consensus—this ship at the least must withdraw. NOW.”

“I must command here!”

“A shuttle has been prepared for that eventuality, Imperious Leader—this ship must withdraw.”

Zoe glared at the sentient machine, but the red flicking eye-light showed her nothing—and then she nodded. “Order all other ships to press the attack—we must destroy these humans quickly. And instruct Hybrid Prime that he may jump,” she snarled.

“By your command.”

Last edited by MasterArminas; February 16 2013 at 05:50 AM.
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Old February 17 2013, 02:06 AM   #180
MasterArminas
Commander
 
Re: The Hunted (nBSG)

I am dead tired from my new job today . . . however, I am off Monday and Tuesday. Next update will probably be on Monday gentlemen; perhaps tomorrow afternoon if I am feeling up to it.

My apologies.

MA
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