Even as the massive wave of Guardian Raiders—with their old-style crews of three Cylons—bore down on Bao’s flotilla, Pegasus led the charge of the Colonial Fleet Battlestars against six Basestars. Trailed by Galactica and Anubis, with Scorpia and Aurora bringing up the rear, Adama and his Fleet began to exchange kinetic energy fire and missiles with the four Wishbone- and two Gemini-class Basestars arrayed against them. The civilians jumped away to safety, but this time, the Colonial Fleet didn’t run—they closed, pouring fire into their heavily armed and armored opponents as they came. Six more Geminis followed the Raiders in towards the ships of the China-Asian Congress, but Task Group 23 and Sir Edward’s own Force B were moving up fast in support of their fellow humans. And they were not alone. Adama ordered his Vipers and Thunders—all of them, supported by the Raptors of the Fleet—to come to the defense of Thirteenth Tribe. One hundred and seventy-six Vipers, sixteen Thunders, and forty Raptors accelerated towards the incoming wave of Guardians, even as sixty of the TWE Hurricanes, forty-eight Bearcats, and twenty-four Cougars (both from the UAA ships) entered their own range. **************************************************** “Rambler, Digger,” Hope broadcast despite the throbbing pain in her shoulder—she hadn’t been cleared by the docs to fly in this furball, but she wasn’t about to sit this one out. “We are in position to support the Thirteenth.” “Copy, Digger,” the CAG of the Colonial Fleet transmitted back. “I hope their pilots know what they doing—those crates are huge-ass targets for Raiders.” Digger didn’t bother to reply, but she nodded. Three times the size of a Raptor, the Earth fighters bore more than a passing resemblance to the Cheyenne dropship that the Fleet had become accustomed to—but there were several differences. Neither the older Cougars nor the newer Bearcats had a passenger bay, and they were rather more streamlined. Each carried two remote turrets with a multi-barreled chain gun, one on the dorsal surface and the second below, augmenting the one protruding from the side of the nose. And for all of their size, they carried just half the RCS thrusters of a Viper—making them incredibly sluggish in the kind of knife-range dog-fighting which the Colonial Fleet excelled in. “Constellation Strike Group,” the wireless broadcast—in English, Digger noted, and she once again thanked the Gods that Adama had insisted on squadron commanders flash-learning the language, “Badger. Deploy pods,” the Thirteenth’s CAG said. And Hope blinked as four sections of each craft’s hull suddenly unlocked and swung bulky, boxy, ugly missile launchers outwards—two each above and below the sharply swept wings. “Lock Harriers on target, CSG—do not duplicate,” the wireless continued. “Set guidance packages to home-on-jam if primary tracking is disrupted.” He paused, and then said two more words. “FOX THREE!” “FRACK ME!” shouted Firefly as her DRADIS suddenly blossomed into thousands of individual icons. The seventy-two United Americas Alliance Bearcats and Cougars ripple-fired sixty-four missiles apiece at ranges far beyond what Colonials considered to be effective for Viper DRADIS guidance. Four thousand six hundred and eight missiles streaked away—and the Guardians blinked. Figuratively speaking of course. Never had the Cylons—new or old—experienced such a massive missile strike as the one bearing down upon them. And despite the ECM coverage that the Raiders emitted, these missiles continued to track. The serried ranks of death incarnate in the Guardian formation desperately began to maneuver to break the target locks—but their own tight formations left them little room to maneuver. Dozens, scores, hundreds of Raiders suffered collisions before the Centurion Commanders ordered the Raiders to instead shoot down the incoming missiles—but as the missiles entered gun-range, they split and divided into four smaller warheads and began to maneuver radically. Fireballs erupted across the entire leading edge of the Guardian attack wave—and Rambler’s voice emerged from the wireless. “Follow that strike in, Colonials! Hammer them!” “BLUES! FOLLOW ME IN!” yelled Digger as she punched the thrusters to maximum power and charged all three of her guns. And when the fireballs faded, nearly three thousand Raiders were floating debris—the rest were badly out of position as the Vipers and Thunders and Bearcats and Hurricanes and Cougars slashed into them.