Something new I've been working on. I make no claim to BSG or to any of their work; this is a piece of fan-fiction not intended for publication or for monetary reward. It is just a story that I am writing for your enjoyment. And I hope that you do enjoy it. And I hope that I write this story without upsetting too many canon apple-carts. The Hunted Episode I: Homecoming “Commander on deck!” the Marine posted in CIC barked as Commander Mathias Lorne entered the Combat Information Center of the Battlestar Scorpia. The ranks of officers and men straightened slightly, but only those without essential duties turned to face the Commander, and Mathias silently nodded his approval. “As you were,” he said, stepping up beside the central console and his executive officer. “Colonel Jayne, is the ship ready to proceed with our scheduled FTL jump?” Thomas Jayne—a native of Tauron with the dark skin and hair that colony produced in abundance—nodded in the affirmative with a relieved smile. “All compartments have reported as ready to initiate jump Five Nine Nine, Commander.” Mathias—a good half-foot shorter than his tall XO and stout where Jayne was whip-cord lean—smiled wryly back. For two years now, Scorpia had been absent from the colonies; dispatched by the Quorum and Fleet Command to observe a very rare stellar phenomena in a distant nebula . . . the birth of a new star condensing from the gaseous clouds. Although the Quorum had been concerned about the sheer distance involved—it had taken Scorpia six months to reach the system, far, far past the Red Line for a single safe jump—the fact that it lay in the opposite direction from the Cylons had led them to approve the mission; if they had not quite conveyed that fact to the general population. Six months there, a year observing the nebula and the birth pains of a new star—which Mathias had, over the objections of the scientific research team, christened as Ishtar after the Goddess of Love, Sex, and War, second only to Dionysius in reverence by the people of his native colony of Scorpia, he thought with a smile—and now six months back home. It had been a very long voyage for the Valkyrie-class Battlestar, just one of many cruisers and Battlestars that comprised the Colonial Fleet. The choice of Scorpia on this assignment had struck him as a strange one at first; after all, at 725 meters in overall length she was just barely half the length of the old Jupiter-class, just 40% of the length of a modern Mercury-class vessel. Needless to say, she was also far tighter on internal space than those two ships, and while she had more than enough room to fit aboard the research team and their gear, the long duration of the mission had eaten into her fuel tankage, provisions, air, and spare parts storage relentlessly. But Mathias understood the need for it; after all, the Valkyrie-class formed the lion’s share of the Fleet. One simply could not take one of the larger and more closely watched Battlestars and send it off for two years without someone noticing—but the Quorum, the President, and the Fleet hoped that it might be possible with Scorpia. She was long overdue for a refit at the Scorpia Fleet Yards, Mathias thought. On the bright side, the engineers will have worked out the glitches and bugs in the new Command Navigation Program upgrade he had heard rumors about just before his departure. It would be nice to have a tested system installed for once instead of being the lab rat that suffered to prove whether or not a new concept worked—or didn’t in many cases. “Very well, Colonel Jayne, set coordinates for Typhon Station and start the clock,” Mathias said as he laid his hands on the table in the dimly lit CIC and leaned forward. The Colonel picked up a radio-phone and switched it to ship-wide broadcast. “All hands, this is the XO—prepare for jump. Engineering bring FTL Engines One and Two on-line, Navigation start the jump clock.” “Starting jump clock for Typhon Station,” reported Captain Joan Danis from her station, “coordinates set, two minutes until drive activation.” The Colonel listened to the phone for a moment and then racked it. “Engineering reports all systems in the green, Commander.” Mathias just grunted. If this voyage had done one thing it had proved that the Colonial FTL designs were capable of operating far beyond what the engineers thought their limits were. So far, Scorpia had logged five hundred and ninety eight jumps—and still the primary and second drives were functioning smoothly. He looked up as a shadow fell across the table. “Doctor Sarris,” he said with a warm smile at the head of the stellar sciences team embarked aboard the ship, “after this jump we have but one more before you are returning to Caprica in a heroes’ welcome with your data.” “I hope not,” the Picon answered in apparent horror, with his crisp accent. “Imagine if our children are inspired to strive for the sciences instead of the military—oh, such wailing and gnashing of teeth will result and you, good Commander, you will be to blame.” “I was just following orders, Doctor Sarris. The President and the Quorum approved this mission.” “Quite right, Commander, but that will not matter. They cannot allow themselves to be blamed for the situation, so they will look elsewhere. And the Fleet Admirals are too highly connected—but you? You are but a lowly Commander of the single Battlestar. A good and capable ship to be certain,” he added hastily, “but you are just one Commander out of nearly two hundred. You are expendable if it means that they get to keep their jobs, yes?” “I hope not,” Mathias replied with a chuckle. “Twenty seconds to jump,” reported Danis. “Take DRADIS off-line,” ordered the Commander. “Shutting down DRADIS,” another officer answered and the screens flickered and died. “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, JUMP!” The sensation of Faster-Than-Light jump was something that you never quite became accustomed to. One moment the ship existed at a discrete coordinate of space and time; in a fraction of an instant, it felt as if the ship and all within it compressed to that single point before vanishing and expanding in a burst of light at another which may be many light-years distant. “FTL Jump complete, Commander,” Danis said. “DRADIS coming back on-line . . . now,” reported Tom Jayne. “Contact,” sang out Lieutenant Paul Cook from the tactical console, but then his voice fell. “I am reading no transponders.” “Say again?” Mathias asked. “No transponders—Colonial or otherwise; no emissions from the target . . . it is Typhon Station, Sir, but they are not emitting on any frequency.” Mathias took the phone. “Open a channel.” “Channel open.” “Typhon Station, this is the Battlestar Scorpia,” he broadcast but only silence and static answered him. “Typhon Station, Scorpia, respond.” But there was no response. “Could their comms be down?” Mathias whispered to his XO. Tom frowned and he shook his head. “It is possible, but the transponders are on a different system—both down at the same time?” “Any other contacts within range?” “None, Sir.” “This is damn peculiar,” Mathias said softly. He lifted the phone again, “CAG, Scorpia Actual.” “Go ahead, Actual,” the voice of the Commander of Scorpia’s Air Group replied over the intercom. Captain Jon Banacek, known by his call sign of Rambler among the crew, was in the flight operations center two decks below, at the junction of the thick struts connecting the two flight-pods to the main hull of the Battlestar. “I want a Combat Air Patrol launched immediately and prep two Raptors for a look-see—with escorts.” “Aye, aye, Sir. Launching the ready Vipers . . . now.” Scorpia bucked slightly as the six longitudinal launch tubes—unique to the Valkyrie-class—fired in quick sequence, sending a half-dozen Mk VI Vipers into space. Not the most modern of fighters in the Colonial Fleet, Scorpia was scheduled to replace her complement with Mark VIIs on return to the Colonies; but while they may not be the latest generation of fighter, the Mark VIs remained capable and lethal. Mathias watched as their icons appeared on DRADIS. “Colonel Jayne . . . set Condition Two throughout the ship and warm the guns.” His XO sucked in a breath and he nodded his agreement. “Aye, aye, Sir,” he lifted his own phone. “This is the XO, set Condition Two throughout the ship; secure all air-tight doors and compartments. Tactical, begin warming procedures for primary, secondary, and point-defense batteries—do not arm. Confirm.” “Warming main turrets One through Fourteen, secondary turrets Fifteen through Forty, and point-defense batteries—safeties remain in place.” “CIC, CAG. Launching recon-sweep now.” Again Scorpia quivered as she launched four more Vipers and two Raptors took off from the recovery deck of her port-side flight pod. Mathias checked the clock and he smiled. The deck gang was on the ball today—they had spotted the second launch of Vipers in under two minutes . . . and the pair of Raptors. “Tom, remind me to tell the Chief well done,” Mathis whispered. “Don’t I always?” his XO answered—but despite the grin he too was worried. The Fleet knew that Scorpia had been scheduled to return today . . . and yet no one seemed to be home. And while Typhon was an older station dating back to before the Cylon War, it should have had at least a skeleton crew—that had been the plan at least before he departed. At the very least a message buoy should have been left floating in orbit. Instead, there was nothing. “Scorpia, Sidewinder,” hissed the voice of the lead Raptor pilot from the intercom, “the station appears cold and dead. I am detecting no power sources, no emission of any kind—looks like the airlocks are open to vacuum and there is no internal heat. No signs of weapon scoring on the outer hull; no hull breaches except the open locks.” Mathias shook his head. “This makes no sense, Tom. Even if they decommissioned the station, someone should be out here to greet us. Nothing on DRADIS?” “Just the station and our own pilots, Commander,” Danis replied. “Sidewinder, Scorpia Actual,” he spoke into the phone. “Are the docking bays obstructed?” “Negative, Scorpia Actual,” the pilot replied, and his voice held an element of surprise. “The shuttles and Raptors are gone.” “Maybe the Fleet forgot we were out here,” Tom growled. “If so, I am going to kick the ass of someone at Picon Command.” “Sidewinder. Dock with the station and search the command deck; I am sending over a team of Marines and engineers.” “Roger that, Scorpia Actual.” “What is our current tylium status, Colonel?” “Down to 22% on all tanks; damn good thing we stored those extra reserve tanks in the cargo hold on the outward voyage, otherwise we would be running on fumes. We have more than enough to make the last jump, Commander.” “Not yet, Tom. I want the engineers to see how much fuel Typhon has—and we will dock and transfer what is left if they can get the pumps on-line. And whatever other supplies she still has aboard—I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” “Aye, I know that feeling well,” Tom answered. “Quickly, I presume?” “As quickly as we can—I don’t want to get caught with our pants down around our ankles docked to the station if something has gone wrong.” “But what?” asked Dr. Sarris. “I just cannot believe that someone isn’t here—the Quorum and the Science Council would have sent someone to greet us at the least.” “I don’t know, Doctor,” Mathias said. “Tom, I want to keep us at Condition Two for now. Have Rambler launch another flight and get an outer perimeter established—and hold another six Vipers in the tubes for launch.” “That’s almost a third of our Vipers, Commander.” “I know. Consider it a drill if it makes you feel better—and I want the Raptors that are ferrying the Marines and technical crew to augment the outer perimeter once they make their delivery.” “Aye, sir,” he said as he turned back to the phone. And Commander Mathias Lorne tapped his fingernails against the surface of the command dais, a frown of worry upon his face.