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Bitter Ends, Book One: A time to recap (BG Miniseries)

By Kevin Hallesy

Word Count: 12,282
Date: 10/29/04
Series: Mini
Rating: K+
Category: AU
Pairing/Focus: O
Warnings:
Summary:
Spoilers/Disclaimers:


Colonel Lennox was walking through the Colony toward the space drome. He was truly amazed at the progress so few people had made on restoring this one time Tylium mine and small recreational community back toward its original condition. Much of it was still unused and still in need of repair. But those areas they had restored were quite comfortable. As inviting as ‘dirt side’ was, he wanted, more like needed, to get space under him again. There was little chance of that right now unless he pushed Commander Hawke into letting him take command of the CHYMERA. He some how doubted that’s what Captain Rath would expect from the person he had rescued. ‘thanks for the save Captain now give me your ship’. No that wouldn’t do. An unarmed Guardsman ship didn’t appeal to him anyway. Nether did a fuel tanker for that matter. That was the only other alternative Hawke had offered. After meeting with the Commander of the Battlecruiser GOLIATH he found out the one other piece of flying h! ardware that sat, and had been sitting, ever since the First War was in the horizon Hanger bay. The ship had been left behind during the original evacuation. He hadn’t told him that it was a Colonial combat design. Now he understood why Hawke had been smiling just a little when he described the derelict vessel that sat in one of the four hanger bays at the center of the Colony.

All Hawke told him was that if he and his crew could get her flying, she was His. Well that was enough for him. He would take a look and decide if that’s what he wanted, or just have he and his crew man the space drome. Actually, most would anyway. The preliminary report on the tanker was that it only held a crew of 50. That left 650 of his crew and 123 of the Cimtar support personnel dirt bound. From what he could tell the main problem this ship had were her sublight and atmospheric thruster engines. Static tests on the FTL showed they were in good shape. Other than that she seemed restorable. For having been sitting for over 40 years without maintenance of any kind. And on a world that had suffered multiple quakes. He would just have to make do.

When he and his tech Chiefs reached the main hanger bay section, they expected to find some broken down civilian freighter with fuel storage tanks sticking out all over the place. What he didn’t expect was what he found. A Colonial Military tender. An old “Provider” Class dedicated fuel and supply carrying design that was not only armored in most of the sections. But armed as well. The civilians that found her didn’t realize what a treasure they had. The three story hanger doors opened wider revealing the whole of the ship as it towered above them. The bow pointed at the ’roof’. the engines section below them pointed at the bottom of the well of the bay. It seemed tiny compared to the cavernous size of the hanger well that could berth a full size Battlestar. She sat near the edge of the docking ring, hovering in the zero G well tethered to the walls by the retractable grapple arms. His chief engineer Lt. Pike looked up , then down over the safety rail taking in the condit! ion of the antique ship. Compared to the GOLIATH this was a toy, not even a sixth of the Cruisers size. Pike spoke up first.

“Holy Frak. What a piece of junk.” Lennox just looked at him,

“Careful Carl, that may be my next command your talking about. “

“Yes Sir, sorry Sir .” Pike immediately got on his comm and called for additional techs. This thing was going to need a serious assessment and overhaul. His C.O. Colonel Lennox told him that Commander Hawke had authorized them to use and cannibalize almost any ship they needed docked at Valhalla to get this crate moving again. That included the components they had stripped off the Battlestars, Cruisers, Cutters, and Corsairs of the Cimtar munitions testing range. By the looks of things, they were going to need them.

They transited through the airlock system that allowed them to change attitude in the free fall 0 gee of the inner bay. Into the right angle artificial gravity of the ship. Once inside Pike went straight for the engines. Lennox however headed for the bridge. Some work had already been done by the techs of Valhalla and the CHYMERA. Most systems were back on line. Communications, life support. Were working. Fuel handling systems. Weapons control and sensors were still down. A few of the techs were bent over open panels working on the command systems. None called attention on deck as he would expect. He was about to call this to their attention when he noticed they were all civilian workers.

“Excuse me” he finally said to get their attention. One of them turned to look up. Then came up right when he saw who it was. His face had been all over Miss Quinn’s broadcasts for the last 3 days.

“Colonel Lennox, welcome aboard. Sorry for the mess. We weren’t expecting you yet. Sir.” the young tech tried to clean his hands and shake the Colonels. He looked around for a bound sheaf of reports, finally located it under some parts in the tool bin and gave it to him.

“This is the latest report, Sir on the WARLOCK’s status. I know the hull is a mess, but we’ve been focusing on the interior and getting the systems up and running again.” he watched as the Colonel looked through the reports. They gave him some hope. Seems they had been working on her off and on for almost two months. Since their arrival. Lennox sat in the left Pilot control chair at forefront of the small command deck. He had been reading the reports when his Chief engineer came in. apparently he had been reading for a couple of hours.

“Sorry to disturb you Sir, but I have a preliminary report.” Pike began.

“Give me the bad news then.”

“Well Sir, they’re right, the sub lights are a mess. The thrusters are in better shape than I thought. They were off line because of a broken plasma conduit. The mains will take more work. Seems this crate flew on the old tri-ionic engines. Slow but reliable. She was in the process of having those refitted into Tylium burning reactors when the Colony was abandoned. With what we pulled of the Corsairs, I think we can finish the refit.”

“How long will that take?”

“I’ve got Poole scheduling a 30 hour rotation, 3 shifts of 10. Ruby, Stark, and Clay say they can have the Mains up in two weeks. Perhaps the guns up in two days, maybe less. Beel and Jules, are working on the secondary systems and living areas. Oh and they’re two shuttle buses on the hanger deck. Would you believe it, both are fully operational. I’ve got a team checking them completely and fueling them up. There’s a ’Beetle’ landram in the ground level hanger too, not too sure about that thing yet. Life support will have to be completely purged and recharged. A full supply of consumables is needed. The guns are useable, with the exception of the rail guns. The coils are toast. We do have some compatible replacements stored on Valhalla from our salvage at the range. Those are being brought down. The secondaries have about 70% of their magazines full. The ammo still looks viable.” he continued going down a check list he had made on his inspection. The aft third was strictl! y the engines. The middle section housed the command level and living areas. The whole forward third held the fuel tanks and holds that would resupply capital vessels. As well as the hanger that split the fuel cells in two. One above and one below the hanger. Small doors that could be used to launch and recover the shuttle buses on either side. A Viper would also fit. But not a standard shuttle. Two point defense gun turrets rested on the dorsal and ventral sides. It was the rail guns that mattered most to Lennox. Those rested at the top of the mid-section. They were nowhere as large as the GOLIATH’s, but still could pack quite a punch. The bullets were about half the size of a Viper, and would send then out at about ¼ C. enough to punch holes in most armor.

“I’ve been reading these reports that the CHYMERA crew made up on their progress.” Lennox held up the book size binder of data sheets. “they were looking at the WARLOCK as a source of parts rather than making her space worthy again. Most of the repairs were made to make sure they work before they pulled them out again. That was until Commander Hawke put a stop to it, now their putting everything back.”

“That’s what I thought too. My people are extracting the specs on this thing. We’ll have her back ship yard fresh in less than a month Sir. You can count on it. Providing of course that the Colonel has decided to even take command of her?” Pike finished. He had a bit of a smile as he looked at his C.O. he could already tell from the look on the Colonels face he was gong to take the WARLOCK.

“You may proceed with your refitting lieutenant.” Colonel Lennox said, then saluted the brash engineer. Pike returned the salute and left the bridge. Within seconds one of Pikes D.C. teams (Damage Control) walked in and began assessing the work to be done. The civilian teams gave way but kept working as well. He rubbed the smooth padding of the arms of the Captains/pilots chair looking around thinking. ’T- 30 days and counting. then we’ll be back in the War.’

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“Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. My name for those of you who don’t already know is Captain Masters. My call sign is ‘Dragon’. Today we will be going over the design specifications of the Colonial Marshal Service pursuit fighter called the ‘Shrike’”. Masters addressed the new class of Viper pilots that would be used to fly the two Shrikes that Commander Hawke had arranged to get from the CHYMERA. Since it was of Militech manufacture Masters had flown it in its development stage. He along with the original pilots, Marshal deputy Captain Mal Branch, and his wingman, deputy T.J. Cade, would act as instructors. Both birds rested on the launch deck of the GOLIATH now with the 12 pilots sitting in two rows of chairs, each with a pad and a booklet he had printed off on the general specifications.

“there are marked differences between this craft and the Vipers your used to. One, the cockpit is far forward and on the nose, two, she has only two engines, not three like a viper” he used a laser pointer placing the red dot on the parts he was talking about on a ‘blackboard’ type display as he spoke. They could see for themselves what he was talking about on the actual ship in front of them, but he wanted to make sure nothing was left out.

“each engine is comparable to a Vipers but can propel the ship at 1.5 times that of a Viper. Three, It also houses a jump engine with a limited range, mush like a Raptors, in its center hull. The weapons platform was designed to engage, and disable pirate vessels, or other ships engaged in illegal activity. So it has an impressive array of guns, and also carries two Scarab missiles fitted into pods on the under side of the lower set of wings. Also on the lower wings are the twin gun over/under turrets. One barrel on top of the wing, one barrel under it. Both connected to the same turret, each has a 180’ pivot range. Also included are a twin set of side by side nose and tail guns.” many of the pilots, including Captain Marro, were impressed. This was definitely a tough little fighter. Nearly a hybrid of fighter and recon ship. The Marshals had needed something that could scour the Home System in search of pirates, freebooters, and smugglers. With the Shrikes, they could ce! rtainly do that. She couldn’t wait to get behind the controls. Masters continued.

“she has considerable stealth technologies built in. the hull and shape are designed to reflect most scanner types, the counter measure systems can almost rival the Peregrine. It has only four decoy dispensers, bur rarely needs them. With the four ventral VTOL ports and the over size maneuvering ports on the main engines on the upper wings, she can really maneuver. You will probably over compensate quite a bit until you get used to the power these engines have. So be careful”

After a number of hours of ’book learning’ the trainees got to look the ships over up close and personal. Not much longer than a Viper, but so different in design they couldn’t be launched from the tubes. They were allowed to get inside and look the controls over in pairs as the experienced pilots gave them instruction and made them familiar with the lay out. Once they all had a turn. The ships were placed in ’dry test’ mode. This made them into simulators. The panels would display data as if they were really in flight, and the heads up display of the helmets would project and simulate the exterior of the ship. It wasn’t as efficient as a true simulator, but they didn’t have one. Those were destroyed back on Caprica.

Captain Rena ’Chyna’ Marro was first to give the simulator a try. At first she had a problem even fitting into the cockpit, her larger than normal frame just didn’t want to cooperate. After the seats were adjusted to their maximum, and squeezing in a bit, she made sure she could reach everything as needed. Her launch went quite well, and she even managed to go in a straight line, then when she tried to come around and place herself parallel to the simulated GOLIATH, she nearly smacked into the hull. In pulling back she sent the VR (Virtual Reality) bird spinning wildly away.

“Frak” she muttered and tried to regain control. Of the volunteers present, she had the most flight experience, if she was having this much trouble, she hated to think how the others would do.

They had spent the better part of the afternoon until evening chow in just the first pair of simulated runs. Their scores were not good. But hers were remarkably higher than her wingman’s. he had collided with the sim GOLIATH and died. At least she had flown and landed again in one piece. She had smiled after her touchdown, that was 50 cubits Sever owed her now.

“that’s all for today, I want your after action reports on the sims by tomorrow for those that tested today. We’ll continue with the next team at 0700 tomorrow. Dismissed.” Masters concluded the class. Marro was still kicking herself for her performance.

“Captain Marro.” Masters caught up to the tall leonian,

“Yes Sir?” she answered. Calling him ‘Sir’, Even though they were the same rank. In the new wing organization he was considered the CAG for the shuttle and Shrike division. This included the Peregrine, gigs, marine shuttles, fuel shuttles and Shrikes. Only 13 ships in all, but now under his authority. Captain Sassinak held the position of CAG over the Golden Arrows. These were the only two functioning squadrons aboard the one Battlecruiser that defended the Horizon outpost on Carillon.

“I just wanted to say I was impressed with your flight. Even in the full simulators most wreck the bird their first time up.” he was saying as they walked up the corridor from the flight deck.

“Thank you sir” that did make her feel better.

“As you know, were testing for just a team of two to man the Shrikes, Marshal Janek is going to assign his men full time to either the surface, or the station Valhalla and allow us to take them over.”

“I still don’t understand how you know so much about them Sir.” she asked as they entered the mess deck and moved along the line to pick up trays and pass through the food line.

“I’ve been on detached service to the Militech Corporation for almost five years. Three years ago I made senior test pilot, I got to test most of their major designs. The Shrike came through and was approved for production about two years ago. Then a short stint back at VTT school, then a refresher at ATT. After that it was the Peregrine project. Been on that ever since, up until the War.”

“Oh I see. So that big ugly bird isn’t a ship of the line then.” she said teasingly. She had heard the scuttlebutt about how fond he and his co pilot Lt. Sever was of their ship. More her it seems than he was. He glared up to her,

“No it was in testing stage. But I think its done very well for being an orphan, taking out four Basestars so far.” he smiled, seeing the look of shock on her face. She hadn’t known that.

“Your joking” was all she could say.

“just look at our hull, Sever has taken to stamping a Cylon symbol onto the side whenever we take one out. I told her she couldn’t do ones for the raiders, we’ve killed to many for that.”

Now she was impressed. Frak, maybe she would have to see if there was a slot open for a stand by Peregrine pilot. They sat down and had their dinner along one of the long tables on the mess deck. When she got a chance, she would take a look at the Peregrines manuals as well.

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Commander Matthew Hawke was in his quarters going over the action and status reports. Over all the reports were good. But there were some things that were troubling him. For one, the fuel coming up from the surface was in rather small shipments. Another was his Viper commanders report of being detected at such extreme range by the sentinel post. Like they knew exactly where to look for them. His crew chief, Sirus ‘Jack’ Hand, went over each ship thoroughly. He didn’t find anything that would explain their quick detection. They had been sitting idle within the Nova Maddigon for almost a week now. Reports from the CHYMERA’s probes told them that the Cylons had indeed brought in reinforcements to protect the Colonies. At least 20 Basestars were now either in orbit over their homeworlds, or patrolling the system. With patrols, probes and sentinel posts strewn throughout. It would be far harder to pull a raid as they have done in the past without being detected. This was the l! ast thing Hawke wanted right now since their intercepts showed the Cylons believed that both the ITHACA and the CISAR station Valhalla were destroyed. They had stopped looking for them and were now concentrating their efforts on the Battlestar GALACTICA. And on the rogue Battlestar PEGASUS. The latter being a guess on Hawke’s part. ‘There has to be a way to contact Cain without letting onto the Cylons were out here.’ he thought to himself.

Then there was the matter of just how much information if any he should give Cain. If the PEGASUS were captured. Or even any of its crew on a patrol, their having knowledge of Carillon would jeopardize them all. At most he should only tell him that the GOLIATH is available to assist them. Their primary concern was to protect the Colony. Cain could continue to harass the Cylons and take heat off the GALACTICA. And he would keep them busy at the Colonies. So they would be forced to divide their forces even more. Dragon and the Peregrine were proving quite adept at that. With the small replenishment of munitions taken from Cimtar, Dragon would be able to continue to add to his score card a bit longer. So far, he had done a good job of keeping the suspected existence of the second Battlestar to his command staff. Some of the crew were new. After the arrival of the ITHACA personnel, the civilians that came aboard on Tarturas to serve as crew were given the option of going plan! et side and being replaced by the ITHICA crew. To Hawke’s surprise most of them opted to stay aboard. Some out of the need to be doing something useful, others because they were ‘spacers’, born and breed to live in or on ships, moons, anything but an actual planet. Many had never set foot on one and didn’t really want to. All however stayed because of their loyalty and sense of duty. They found a home and knew they were doing a good job of protecting the Colony.

Most of the civilians knew nothing about the PEGASUS. The only exception was the Governor, Anton Ramius. Ramius had sworn he wouldn’t pass on any classified information such as that. Whether that would hold true, remained to be seen. Dragon himself was into his forth day of simulation testing of the recruits for the Shrike project. He only had eight left. Four had already been dropped. Colonel Lennox was making considerable progress on the WARLOCK. Latest estimates placed her launch at 3 weeks, give or take a day. Colonel Landis told him of the complaints by many of the civilians aboard Valhalla, seems a good many parts were missing from several ships docked there. Hawke had no doubt that if one were to look in the WARLOCK, those components could be found. Seems Lennox’s engineer Lt. Pike was a rather notorious ’scrounger’, but an efficient one. Everything seemed under control, for the moment, and everything was on schedule as far as total operations were concerned. He ch! ecked the time and saw that he was about due on the CIC to relieve his exec. Colonel Greenlee. Hawke Finished his coffee, and headed for the hatch.

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Cassiopeia was kicking herself. She paced the floor of the renovated ‘mansion’ that she shared with the Governor of the Colony, Anton Ramius. Her attempt to let the others know where the humans could be found by placing a passive sensor ‘button’ on one of the pilots, hoping that it would lead to his capture and interrogation, had failed. Her other attempt to access the hanger bay had been thwarted as well by the security on board the GOLIATH. She had also tried to locate and modify a probe, but they were all deployed at the time, so she couldn’t effect one of those either. The one and only button she had was probably still on the pilot she tagged before the humans raid on the Colonies. So there was still a chance that he could still be detected and captured. She would not rely on that however. No, she had to find another way to make contact and send for a strike force to come and wipe these humans out. She had been thinking of this for days. Now she felt she had a plan. S! he would need help though, from one of her kind. The only one available was ‘ben’. he was still under heavy guard in the Horizon med lab. She would have to find a way to free him, that wouldn’t reveal herself in the process. For her plan to work, she needed to remain undetected. For now. The first step would be to volunteer to help as a nurse in the lab, something the Governor was arranging now during his pluton poisoning testing. She had taken care of hers yesterday. Foolish humans looking for something like that when they were all going to die anyway. if her plan worked, they wouldn’t be alive long enough to have to worry about it.

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Leo’s Basestar was currently on patrol along side another one within the Cyrannus system. The additional forces had arrived several standard days ago and he followed One’s directions in placing his ship on patrol rather than the picket duty over Sagitara that he had been on. Even so, the precautions he had initiated were still in place. Crops seeded with pluton poisoning, fuel depots rigged with nuclear warheads on Virgons moon, the ‘live bait’ operation was in full swing. The humans probes would pick up the distress calls soon. Then the Surviving cutters and the one rogue Battlestar would be found after an intense interrogation of any that tried to rescue the planted ‘survivors’.

67 colonial cruise ships, liners, transport vessels, and cargo ships had been planted in several nearby sectors to lure the humans into traps. Once they came aboard they would find a few living survivors, several of his counter parts actually, and a small troop of Centurions Mark II. Ready to kill and capture all they could. While Raiders waited within easy contact range to jump in and destroy the human ship that came to aid the stricken colonial vessel.

Analysis reports of the debris of Colonial fighters lost during the recent raid were puzzling. No identification numbers were present, and the bodies of the humans bore no unit patches. Stranger still was the seeming patch work manufacture of those recovered near Cimtar, and those over the destroyed Sentinel post. This meant at least two squadrons had been involved in the attack, with several others making runs at other targets within the system, but then turning back before actually engaging. These had been solely diversionary. The attack by the Peregrine over Cancer was also a diversion. But wasn’t as successful as the Colonials had hoped. That pest of a ship must have been badly damaged, and very important to the attacking forces as they revealed the existence of a Battlestar just to rescue it after it destroyed the Cancer Basestar. That effort worked To allow the now destroyed and dissected ITHACA to attack the command Basestar over Caprica. All the while letting the ! second Battlestar rescue the wounded Peregrine. They had been close to being rid of that nuisance once and for all. Except for the loss of the two Basestars, losses had been relatively light. All planetary defense satellites were now in place, the surface bases complete. The Colonies nearly rid of the human infestation. Once the two unarmed cutters, and the Battlestars, GALACTICA, and the unnamed rogue one were gone, along with the small fleet of civilian ships GALACTICA was protecting, all humanity would be extinct.

There was the small matter of a handful of reports from the planetary surfaces of pockets of armed resistance, as well as unconfirmed reports of jump activity within the system. Other than the typical probes the humans were no doubt sending to evaluate the success of their most recent raid. These were being investigated by another unit. He had been ordered by the number 11 assigned as aid to One, to oversee the bait program solely for now. He looked forward to seeing the fruits of his efforts reap great rewards.

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Our Own Worst Enemy

Masters sat in the squadron ready room looking at the progress reports on his class. Sever was across from him sitting at a desk he had set up. He had is feet up on the desk, both in flight gear but the top pulled around their waists revealing the gray tank tops standard to the uniform.

“So after they all get trained then what? We don’t have enough ships to go around.” Sever was asking.

“Cross training is essential for us all right now. A couple of the Shrikes are going to be assigned to the WARLOCK. We keep two, two on the surface, the other four on Valhalla. The CHYMERA has ten Vipers. So I’d say were pretty well covered.” Masters said as he opened another report. Then mumbled something about frakkin paperwork. ‘knew he shouldn’t have accepted this CAG position’ he thought.

“Have you given any more thought about the other Peregrine?” she asked.

“Yes, a lot. If it is Hondo and Coffin, and they were picked up by the PEGASUS, then we should be able to contact them with the TAC-1 channel. The question is how to do that without the Cylons reading every message. “

“Well what if it was really Helo that picked them up? We worked with him before, and with Bojay. didn’t you say he was recently assigned as CAG aboard the PEGASUS after his transfer from the AUSTRALIS?”

“Yes I did. But how the frak did Helo end up on the PEGASUS?” He thought about it a bit more,

“If Bojay is out there, he and I were always trying to make word puzzles the other couldn’t solve. I’ve asked String to see if Hawke would authorize our probes to transmit one of them, that would prove its him. And if so we could use he and I’s personal book code system.”

“Book code?”

“yes, when ever we wanted to leave messages for each other we would leave small notes like, PFOM, 120-23, 34-56, 546-23-12. Things like that.”

“which means?” Sever asked yet again getting annoyed with her C.O. for not just coming right out and explaining this to her.

“Peregrine Flight Operations Manual, page 120 word 23, page 34 word 56, page 546 word 23 letter 12.”

Sever used her cyber viral enhanced memory to pull up the needed pages and references,

“’Officers bay, D‘, meaning to meet him at the officers club, signed ‘D’ for Dragon, right?”

“Right, without knowing exactly what book the letters reference there’s no way anyone, including the Cylons can know what the message means. It works for any book we had on our shelf during our time in the ATT refresher course. The book of the Word, or one of my favorites, ‘Lancers Strike‘, a couple of others that I know Bojay has read. So it can change each time.”

“Good system. Now if we can only get word to Bojay that that’s what we want to do”

“the PEGASUS has been as good as us in hiding from the Cylons, for us to find each other will be equally as hard. The only hope is the probes. Ours and theirs will have to jump to nearly the same place at the same time, and hear each other without alerting the Cylons. The odds of that are slim”

“your beginning to sound like Captain Marro.” Sever smiled thinking of the bet she lost to the tall Leonian Exec of the WARLOCK. Sever had bet ‘Chyna’ wouldn’t get through the first Shrike simulation without crashing. She didn’t mind losing, Chyna was a great pilot. She just wanted to add some incentive to her efforts. Sever returned to the subject at hand.

“Peregrine 5 was fitted for duration tests wasn’t it?”

“Yes, but they could have survived this long easily. The entire APC bay had been fitted with consumables. The intercepts were replaced with fuel tanks, and some extras fitted along the undercarriage. She was unarmed which is what bothers me. She wont have the scarabs mark III’s like we have. But she can use most other types of standard light missiles. Her gun ammo is the same as any vipers, weapon uniformity was a requirement for the project. Drones, decoys and chaff the same as a Raptors. So if they are aboard the PEGASUS, with a little work she could be made combat ready. “

“I sure hope so. Hondo seemed pretty capable where the weapons were concerned.”

“they were due to refit and test Peregrine 5’s weapons the week following ours. He had top grades on the sims. I’m betting once she has teeth, the Cylons will get to feel her bite.” Masters smiled thinking of the damage two Peregrines could do in a coordinated attack. Especially with Viper support.

“so when are we going to try these messages?”

“As soon as Greenlee asks Hawke, he already has my proposal. Even if we do, it could takes months to make contact with them” that didn’t sound at all hopeful to Sever.

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Colonel “Stringbean” Greenlee was standing behind the much smaller Ensign Hally, who was pulling up the latest batch of intel reports on her three monitors. The CHYMERA’s currier probe had downloaded the last weeks readings to her system. (separate from all others as the computers networking connections had all been removed.) she was giving the very tall Exec an overview of their findings.

“Here within the system there are now 20 Basestars, at least 40 roving patrols of pairs of raiders, and 16 distinct sentient Sentinel class listening posts. All of our communication, surveillance and defense satellites are gone and have been replaced with Cylon versions. No Colonial bases remain on the surfaces. What’s strange is this one fuel depot platform on the moon of Virgon. Its Colonial in origin. Sir, So why haven’t they destroyed it?” she asked rhetorically. The answer was obvious, they wanted them to try to get the Tylium stored there. Scanners showed all tanks were full.

String smiled and gave a response in his usual joking manner,

“Hmm gee keeping it as a souvenir?” he said, knowing full well why the Cylons had left it intact and apparently wide open to detection like that. then waved for her to continue her report.

“Also, Sir “ the middle screen changed. “I think I have a fix on what’s left of the PROMETHEUS.”

Greenlee’s eyes went wide. They thought she had been lost during the battle. Despite the evacuation by the GRIFFIN.

“one probe came out of jump ’above’ the system for an overhead view, right at the edge of the oort cloud. Nearby was what had to be the PROMETHEUS. Its still moving on momentum and heading out of the system. A minimal power signature and tumbling out of control. If its not stopped, she will be that way forever Colonel.” her eyes went sad hoping there was noone aboard her as she drifted outbound from their home.

Greenlee focused on another screen, leaving the fate of the Battlestar alone for the moment.

“what about these readings from Borallis?” String asked bringing her attention from the PROMETHEUS.

“lots of debris. Sir, increased radiation of a nuclear detonation, they left one Sentinel in orbit. One small energy spike from what could have been a probe, it seemed to send a burst message on an unspecified frequency, but nothing it could read Sir.”

“let me see it”

“here, multi phase, in a burst transmission. It could be Colonial, but at that range, it could be Cylon as well Sir.”

“looks more like Colonial. Possibly a TAC channel. Was the probe configured for TAC frequencies?”

“No Sir. That request didn’t go out until the Currier went outbound on its return to the CHYMERA.”

“Frak, then we’ll have to wait for the next currier to find out if the next batch finds anything.”

“Yes Sir, I’m afraid so.” she shrugged and answered the exec. String stood and saw the Commander coming to relieve him. By the Lords of Kobol he needed some sleep.

“Status Colonel?” Hawke asked as he took the hard copies of Ensign Hally’s report.

“unchanged Sir, Hally has found a few interesting things though, and Dragon has an idea of how to contact the PEGASUS. Its there in the report. You were asleep so I made the preliminary preparations in its implementation.” Hawke looked at the file copy, nodded seeing that probes would be made able to scan for the Peregrine TAC channels but listen only, they would not respond until Hawke gave the ok.

“put an authorization in the house keeping orders for the next currier jump String. What’s the status on our 4 probes? “

“Jack is still ‘tinkering’ with them Sir. He said he wanted to test them to make sure they would do what he wanted before showing us. If I didn’t trust him so much I would insist on knowing what this pet project is, but he says we’ll love it Sir.”

“We better, I hate these delays of having to wait for the reports from the CHYMERA.”

“Yes Sir, if that will be all, request permission to get some sleep Sir” String saluted and wait for his dismissal. Hawke smiled,

“Get some rest String, you are relieved.” he returned the salute and went to look over the reports at the plotting table, ‘his second home’ he thought.

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Captain Robert Rath was on the bridge of his ship, the guardsman Cutter CHYMERA. They were currently holding station just on the fringes of the nova Madagon. The dust and debris of the immense system swallowing storm masking them from any unfriendly eyes that might come their way. As an added precaution they were running silent, no active sensors, engines on standby, no out going communications. All Vipers were aboard, no patrols had been sent out. Only the probes. And those were getting fewer in number. With one being used as a dedicated currier that left only 11 to actually send in their scouting missions. And those only had these coordinates in their memories as source location. Even if the Cylons had managed to salvage anything from the destroyed probes, they still wouldn’t be able to locate Carillon. The return jump settings to within the Nova were held in the one single jump computer. That holding and able to run the “Fourd’s fallacy computation” as it was called. T! he result of an astronomer of the University of Caprica. He had worked for years on a navigation program that could predict and locate the eye of the Nova, that would make it safe to jump directly over Carillon. His peers ridiculed those findings and after two failed attempts to get a probe to return to prove his theory, all conventional scientists gave up the Fourd theory as mathematically flawed. He however did not, and continued to work on the problem. A decade later, this obscure scientists work became the hobby, then the obsession of an equally obscure Colonel. Matthew Hawke. He too felt the theory and math were correct. As a result he gambled everything on it and used it to send the survivors of the destruction of the twelve Colonies of Kobol into the Nova Madagon and settle on Carillon. Rath’s engineer had rigged that computer with a set of Solonite charges that would turn it into powder if the detonation switch was hit. No chances were being taken that might reveal t! he location and existence of the Colony. Not even Hawke knew their location. Hawke had insisted that their destination not be revealed to anyone but the Bridge staff that needed to know. Rath knew the importance of these precautions so he followed them without fail.

Staying dark was even more critical as they were within an A.U. of the entrance to ‘Damnation Alley”. the opening in the nebula used over 40 years ago as the pathway to the Colony on Carillon. The once great gate and space station that marked this passageway now in ruins. Their own passive sensors had detected a huge energy spike and the presence of a Basestar making an attempt to enter the Nova. He had asked for volunteers to follow it and see how far they get into the heavily mined route. Lieutenant Charles ‘Chas’ Golliday was one of those that volunteered. He along with one deputy were in the Shrikes and moving nearly un powered well behind the Cylon behemoth. If not for the fact that Chas had served as a deputy before joining the military service Rath would have had to refuse him. Fortunately he could fly a Shrike as well as a Viper. that’s one reason he was selected to transfer to the CHYMERA as one of the ‘Orphans”. Deputy Lowes was at his wing as they waited for th! e Cylons return at the entrance of the Alley in dark mode within the nebula, but not deep enough to see any mines. Coasting at less than 100 k.p.h. they would not catch up with the much larger and dangerous Cylon Capital ship. Sensors were useless, the intense interference of the nebula blinded them to within a few dozen kilometers.

“Chas, can you see it?” Lowes asked through the laser mic system.

“Not a sign of them, just the ion trail of her engines. It’s definitely heading inbound. I thought I saw some energy spikes, but nothing definite.” He replied having to boost the power to the laser to cut through the gases of the Nebula.

“We’ll hold here and wait to see if it comes back.” he added, then cut power placing the ship at the ’wall’ of the tunnel like formation of the alley.

“Roger that Chas, powering down” was her reply.

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Colonel Landis, the commander of Valhalla, stood on the upper platform of the immense CNC of the five miles long station. From this vantage point the could look down into the ‘trench’ of monitor stations that sat two step landings below him. The level just below held the maneuvering controls.

His seat and desk was a combination of data displays and communications consoles. From here he could direct the operations of the entire station. What the data reports on the screens were telling him were not making him happy.

They had started out with 80 Vipers for protection. Then a small accident put 5 of these out of commission. The Wild Cards had been circumnavigating the interior of the eye wall to patrol its perimeter when several of the midshipmen trainees ventured a bit too far out of the wall. Two wanted to test the limits of their navigational skill. They had passed too close to a mine and received considerable damage as their reward. The other three received similar damage in their attempt to rescue the first two. With parts as scarce for the Vipers as they were, it was more feasible to use these as parts for the others than to repair them. Now all such probes had strict orders NOT to breach the calm of the eye that kept them safe from Cylon detection.

Then another twenty had been transferred to the CHYMERA. Five more to replace those that didn’t return from Cyrannus. Another ten had been moved to the surface of Carillon to appease the Governor. This left them with the one squadron, the Avenging Angels, that Hawke had given him. 40 Vipers in all, half Mark II, the rest Mark VII. The Wild Cards were now scattered among the civilian posts. 30 of them remained in all. Their group of Shrikes were also being depleted. Granted, most of those available had come from the CHYMERA, but Hawke also wanted to post at least 2 on the newly refurbished WARLOCK. Preferably 4. Like the CHYMERA, they also had ten of the Marshals and their pursuit ships aboard.

Then there was the matter of several disgruntled ship owners who have been reporting thefts of parts from their ships berthed and docked along and within the bays of the station. He had left a town meeting an hour ago after hearing their complaints voiced again. All he could tell them was that he and the Marshals would look into it. He knew full well that those parts had been scavenged to restore the Colonial Tender WARLOCK and get it flying again. Even worse, they too might have to start cannibalizing the civilian ships for parts to maintain the stations systems. Spare parts from the Colonies were no longer available. Neither was the special fuel their tri-ionic reactor needed. They may have to strip the engines from some of the larger ships and use their Tylium fed reactors in its place.

Desperate times called for desperate measures, but explaining that to a bunch of equally desperate people that saw their yachts and small personal cruisers as a last means of escape being stripped to revive the station would not be easy. If he couldn’t make the modifications to Valhalla, he would be required to strip it and all its resources from its interior and move them to Carillon. Effectively abandoning it forever. This was something he really did not want to do. He was a fourth generation Guardsman, he did not intend to be the one that would shut down the one remaining Command the Guardsman had. Other then the CHYMERA.

He looked again at the reports the GOLIATH had sent over, all other Guardsman outposts had been destroyed as they thought. No other cutters had survived. The CHYMERA was indeed the last, and his the only station. A text message came up on one of his monitors, Chief Dooley had completed conversion of energizers 4-8, ’almost halfway there’ he thought. Then Marshal Crow came up the stairs to his platform.

“Excuse me Colonel, do you have a minute?” he asked then leaned back onto the desk like control panel.

“Sure Max, what can I do for you?”

“Actually I was wondering when the CHYMERA was due back.”

“Not for awhile. Why? Looking to transfer?” Landis asked the stocky bald headed leader of the Marshal unit.

“Not exactly, as much as I would love to” he answered with a smile on his face. “No, what I want her for is to get out of the nebula so some deputies and I can make a jump over to the Chespek sector.”

“Why there?”

“There’s a small system there that we have suspected of being the stronghold of a number of pirate groups. Those groups have been raiding fuel tankers and other traffic for years. Now that there’s no traffic for them to steal, they might want to talk about giving themselves up and coming here.”

“Not a bad idea. If you can find them. And if they are interested.”

Landis pulled up the charts for the Chespek sector.

“There’s a lot of places to hide bases and fleets of freebooters in there. Any idea where to start?”

“Oh I have a few ideas. Some of our undercover ops had sent word on their main ports a few weeks before the war. I figure by now they are wondering when the Cylons are going to get around to hunting them.”

“If they haven’t already” Landis added.

“True, it could be a worthless trip. But if they have ships and resources we can add to here, then it will be worth it.” Landis had to agree. He would get Crows team over to the CHYMERA when it came back.

“I’ll authorize it Max, get your people ready and I’ll let you know when Rath is back.”

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The model six that stood on the command deck of the Cylon Basestar traversing the Nova Madagon tried not to look concerned. Under orders she had entered ‘Damnation Alley’ in the second attempt to penetrate the enormous cloud of gases and debris that surrounded the Carillon system. The Nebula the result of the sister star of the Carillon system going nova several millennia ago. The first attempt had failed. That Basestar had only passed through less than one eigth the perimeter when mines had damaged it to a degree that it had to turn back.

Her Basestar had sensors modified to help detect these nuclear menaces strewn throughout the entire expanse. Even so, they had set off a number of the warheads already. Damage was mounting. What was worse, they weren’t even as far as the first one had been.

“Slow to 500 k.p.h Centurion.” she ordered the tall metallic automoton that stood near by. Its central processor linked via wireless to the mainframe controls of the massive vessel.

“By Your command” it answered and fired retro’s to slow the ship further. As new swarms of mines came up on their scanners the Centurion moved the vessel to evade. At this speed it would take nearly three standard months to arrive at the predicted coordinates of Carillon. If they weren’t destroyed along the way. It was a quandary. Raiders did not have the scanner capability of detecting the mines soon enough, nor the armor to survive them. The Basestar, while it could detect larger numbers of mines, the scattered individual ones would be over looked and detonate as they approached. They could withstand several hits, but not indefinatley.

Fortunately her orders did not include passing all the way through. All that was required was getting as far in as she could,then launch the dozen ’Spartan” class recon ships. These flat tear drop shaped sentient drones would act as their forward eyes, larger than raiders, but with better scanners, (very much like a Raptor or Peregrine) may be able to do what their other counterparts could not. Then once they have located the ‘eye’, can jump back directly. And either inform them that Carillon remains abandoned, which was the general consensus, or give them their next target. If the latter is the case, then a phalanx of Basestars would make the jump back to the new designated coordinates and remove the humans permanently.

The Basestar shook again. Another detontation over their hull. Much closer than the others. Several systems went dark as the E.M. pulse bathed them.

“Dorsal hull plating now at 85%. Secondary navgation systems engaged.” the Centurion reported to the tall blonde humanoid Cylon.

“Hold station, stand by to launch the ‘Spartans’.” she had risked the ship long enough, let the Drones do their job. For them it was succeed or not return.

“By Your command, Spartans activated. Ready for launch”

“Commence launch” she finished, letting the Centuriion relay her orders. The twelve Cylon ship/robots sped away then halted their inward descent. Moving out to maximize efficiency of their scanners. They then proceeded slowly with their minds interlinked each aware of the others scanner findings. Their globe like diamond pattern protecting each others flanks. They too would take a number of weeks, even months before they could find Carillon. But this was now their sole purpose to exist. They would see it through, or be destroyed.

“Take us back out the way we came Centurion, same speed as before”

“By your Command” the Centurion answered. The Basestar shook again as another warhead had drifted too close, burning away a sensor pallet.

“Frak” the Six muttered.

“Command not recognized, please repeat” inquired the Centurion.

“Just get us out of here” she said with a snarl to her voice. If she didn’t know better, she would swear the Centurion was laughing at her.

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Hours seem to pass as Chas and his wingman sat waiting for the basestars return. He was just about to doze off and put the ship into sleep mode when his proximity alert sounded in his ear piece. Then looking up the bulk of the immense Cylon war machine slowly passed over head. He held his breath hoping that behemoth would not see them.

To his relief they didn’t. as it passed he noticed considerable damage to the outer edges of the hull. ’must have hit a mine or two, couldn’t happen to a nicer ship either’ he thought sarcastically to himself. He waited until it had passed nearly out of visual range, the swirling gases of the nebula obscuring it, then turned his laser comm back on.

“Did you see that chas?” he could hear Lowes saying as his wireless came back online.

“Yes I saw it, lets get back to the CHYMERA.”

“Roger that, engines are go”

He powered up the twin turbo engines and pushed the throttle going back the way they came, the Basetstar had done a good job of clearing the path back out to the opening. Where it was exactly they had to guess, the original ’gate’, a 5 mile diameter ring space station that marked the entrance had been destroyed during the First War. Its beacons along with it. Some scattered pieces of it drifted in and around its original location. Chas thought Hiding among them when they got there was their best bet to make sure the Cylons had departed before moving out and heading back to the CHYMERA.

Now the Basestar was nowhere in sight. Small pieces of the gate were floating by.

“no sign of them, they may have already jumped” Deputy Lowes said over the comm.

“just proceed slowly, we don’t know that for sure yet.” Chas answered. Then nudged the throttle again, they passed the remains of the gate and were back out in open space. Passives showed nothing.

“I think we’re in the clear, set course for the CHYMERA” Chas ordered then sent his ship back to where they left the cutter. Rath would want to know what the results of the Cylons attempt to reach Carillon had been. Very unsuccessful from what they could see. What he had not seen was the dozen Spartans continuing on their way to find their home.

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Captian Rath had moved the CHYMERA away from the interference of the nebula placing it in the clear. The probes were making their programmed return jumps back to them and retrieval of their data as well as the probes themselves was under way when the Shrikes returned. Their comm officer was monitoring the data as it was downloaded to their computers when he noticed an unusual alarm on the panel. Back during their patrols in the Colonies it would not seem out of place. A standard “vessel in distress” code appeared. This would seem normal if not for the fact that all Colonial ships were presumed destroyed. Ensign Hann opened the data file and there it was, a message received just an hour ago by the probe while it was in the Anotion sector.

“Captain, you better hear this” he called the commander of the cutter over to his station.

“What have you got ‘sparks’?”

“Distress call from a civilian ship Sir. Sent an hour ago”

“What?” he couldn’t believe it, then looked at the screen. Hann was right.

“Lets hear it” Rath ordered. Sparks pulled up the recording the probe had intercepted.

“can anyone hear us? Is anyone out there? Please, this is the picon cruiser “Goldfish” we are umm, I don’t know how to read this, can you read this?” a woman’s voice sounded desperate as she tried to read the displays of the cockpit. Another mans voice in the back ground could be heard.

“I think, I think, its here, Anotion sector, this says grid 345 by 21 by 774.” then the woman repeated it louder for the recording.

“our crew is dead, we have almost 50 passengers, but our food is almost gone, we cant get the engines to work. Please, can anyone hear us?” then the signal was lost.

“those coordinates are at the outermost edge of that sector. Making a jump that far will definitely put a strain on the engines, unless we break it up into a set of smaller ones.” sparks informed his C.O. Rath thought about it, their priority was to save lives, they always had been. This was up to him, he couldn’t wait for authorization from Commander Hawke.

“Helm, plot a position 1 A.U. from those coordinates and get the jump engines ready. Tell flight to get the Shrikes aboard.” Rath picked up the handset and the ship wide alert sounded.

“All hands, this is the Captain, set Alert status Beta, this is no drill, pilots to their fighters. Repeat set Alert status Beta” another claxon sounded and the crew moved to their battle stations.

“All decks report, condition Beta is set, All probes and Shrikes recovered and locked down. F.T.L engines are on line and we are ready to jump.” his exec reported after taking inventory of the bridge positions. Rath gave his order

“Jump”. then the CHYMERA was gone.

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Captain Masters and his crew were back aboard the Peregrine awaiting launch clearence. Commander Hawke was getting impatient. The CHYMERA was long over due and no currier probes had arrived as scheduled. Since Hawke had insisted that he not be told where the CHYMERA was going, they couldn’t even send a ship to search for them. All he could do was wait. What he didn’t have to wait for was to investigate the TAC signal picked up by their probe in the Borallis sector. That was Masters destination.

The massive ventral bay of the GOLIATH was deployed. They rested on the deck, the mag lock holding them in place. Dragon would be happy when ‘Jack’ got the landing platform refitted to handle the Peregrine. Then they could be lowered to the launch deck. It was a major undertaking to enlarge the shuttle pad to be able to hold the much larger frame of the Drop ship. If not for the larger hanger pod that the Cruiser used it wouldn’t be possible, a modern Battlestar or even an equivelent one, like the GALACTICA, didn’t have the ceiling clearance required for a ship this size on their launch decks.

Jack was confident he could refit the one pad for them. Even if it did require ripping out a couple of support frames and raising the ceiling a couple of meters. Until then they had to close the bays doors, pressurize it, get aboard then reverse the process. This took a lot of time.

“Core command is transferred. We are clear to launch Dragon” his co-pilot Witch called forward in the cockpit. He focused on his panel, releasing the mag lock and raising the landing gear. They were in free fall. Witch locked in their first set of coordinates. 100 A.U. outside the nebula. Dragon pushed the throttle and the Peregrine shot out of the bay. Spook as usual had to hold his stomach from the G forces as he was pushed to the back of his seat. Dragon pulled a verticle ’U-turn’ sending them back over the spine of the great Cruiser. Inverted they looked down at her hull passing over the 16 sets of guns, then passed the twin noses of the forward hull. He rotated the ship, the GOLIATH now parallel behind them. All sensors were active and they locked in their jump engines,

“stand by, jumping in 5,4,3,2,1, jumping” then hit the initiator switch. They appeared in empty space. No moons, planets, suns, nothing.

“Alright Witch, verify our position and set for the next jump.” Dragon said after his eyes could focus again.

“Roger that, were right on the mark. Systems recovered and getting a fix” she answered.

“the Nova looks so different from way out here” Spook was saying looking at the reverse view on his monitor. All other scanners, both passive and active showed they were alone.

“maybe so, lets hope we don’t have to get used to it” Dragon commented then sent the Peregrine into jumping again. They arrived on the far side of the Borallis system. Well away from the planet itself. They knew there were sentinel stations or patrols here. The last thing they wanted was to be seen. What they needed was to see if there was still a Colonial probe present.

Dragon and his crew put the Peregrine into dark mode. Engines and sensors shut down, moving solely on momentum. Their course would put them in a high orbit of Borallis itself. The small asteroid that held the sentient Sentinel posted there would pass well below them.

The closer they got to orbit the more debris they could see out of the cockpit. Spook was recording all he could of the devastation that floated over the planet. Cruisers, cargo ships, military transport vessels, tenders, along with over half a dozen Battlestars, Battlecruisers, even a Warstar lay in ruins. Dragon was forced to use thrusters to avoid colliding with sections of ships that had been cut apart by missiles and las-beams. Somewhere in this wreckage was the source of a TAC signal. But before they could use their wireless to look for it, the Sentinel would need to be removed.

Dragon double checked the weapons status board. All missiles ready, nukes on standby, all freshly taken from the ITHACA inventory. The guns were full, drones, chaff and intercepts green. They passed the bulk of the ship graveyard and back into open space. There sat in close orbit the Sentinel. Silent and dark on the small rock. Antenna and sensor pallets spreading out from the hanger opening at the center, like a crawl on in its web. At least 20 Scimitar class Raiders waited to be awakened within that pod at the slightest hint of intrusion. If their Rabbit probe had not detected it during its patrol route they would not have even seen it. Fortunately the rabbit intercepted the post responding to a currier Raider at that time. That gave away its position and true nature.

The Peregrines thrusters flared again for the merest of seconds sending them even closer to the Cylon. Dragon navigated by visual alone, active scanners were out of the question, even the internal comm was off. He didn’t want to risk even that electronic signature this close to the ultra sensitive Sentinel. At least , until they were directly above it. With their nose and their weapons now pointing directly down at the post, they powered up everything as fast as they could at Dragons signal. The weapons lock and high energy signature ‘woke up’ the Sentinel instantly, seeing its danger alerted the Raiders and opened the bay for launch. Just what Dragon wanted. He locked one nuke on the opening bay and fired. Witch was laying down suppression fire on the incoming missiles the post sent at them, Spook was flooding the area with white noise and jamming the station. Drones flew from the under carriage to divert others. After firing the Nuke Dragon switched fire control to the ! intercepts and assisted Witch in covering their escape. Turning and pushing the engines and boosters to full.

“The package is delivered Dragon, get us the frak out of here” Spook yelled out through the open hatch of the cockpit and flight deck. He could see the missile pass into the dark opening of the Cylon hanger bay, then the flash as the explosion ripped the asteroid apart. The result of rock trying to contain a 50 megaton detonation.

“That got it” Witch shouted happily as the station disintegrated.

“Frak!” Spook was saying as he saw two of the Raider emerge from the carnage, both sped away from them and vanished in the flash of their jump engines.

“I see it” said Dragon. “Going to get reinforcements no doubt, we have to make this fast. Spook send a full power IFF signal on the Peregrine TAC channel 1 now.”

“Roger that Dragon, sending.” Spook replied broadcasting the general ’enable’ signal for anything utilizing their dedicated inter-fleet comm channel. Somewhere nearby on the outskirts of the graveyard a Colonial probe came to life as it received the signal, it filtered it through the friend or foe catalog and followed its programmed response instructions sending but a single scrambled burst transmission.

“Holy Frak, we got a response,” Spook said and sent the message to Dragons cockpit monitor.

It was in coded form at first, but Spook put it through a decryption routine and the symbols slowly filtered into a recognizable form. It read.

'HOURS CAN SEEM LIKE DAYS BOJAY 2 DRAGON, BORALLIS RENDEZVOUS POINT SIX-FIVE-EIGHT MARK EIGHT-FOUR-FIVE' HAPPY HOUR ARM DAY + 230’

“Ok I see it, but what does it mean?” Witch asked her C.O.

“I’ll tell you later, set coordinates for the Alley,” Dragon quickly scripted a response in the same word puzzle format they had received then passed it onto Spook for transmittal

“send our acknowledgement message to the probe and get ready to jump.” Dragon ordered wanting to vacate the area before more tin heads showed up.

The signal was sent, the probe vanished leaving a energy spike on Spooks active sensors letting them know their return message was on its way to who ever sent it. The message it would carry would be coded in Dragons ‘book code’ beginning with PFOM, then a series of numbers, then BOTW (Book of the Word) then more numbers, then PFOM again, rotating through a series of letters and numbers covering half a dozen books he and Bojay, the friend he believed was alive on the PEGESUS would recognize and remember. When they deciphered it, it would read. :

‘2 COMMANDER OF BATTLESTAR, FROM COMMANDER OF

COLONIAL FLEET CONTINGENT INVOLVED IN RECENT BATTLE. DRAGON SAYS TO B GLAD YOU AND I NOT IN CLUB. FOR FACE TO FACE ENCOUNTER MEET AT CO-ORDINATES 264-311-079 IN MANDAHAR SYSTEM. PEREGRINE 1 WILL BE AT RENDEZVOUS POINT. DISPATCH REPRESENTATIVE IN PEREGRINE 5 TO MEET DRAGON AT ABOVE CO-ORDINATES ON DAY 317 HAPPY HOUR. NEW TAC CHANNEL PROTOCOL FOR INITIAL CONTACT IS FIRST HALF OF TAC 2 SECOND HALF OF TAC 1 ROTATIONS. HOURS STILL LIKE DAYS. MESSAGE ENDS’

Spook read the message as it was sent not understanding much of it. Which was the point, even if the Cylons somehow got their hands on the message they wouldn’t understand it either.

“Engines ready Dragon, were good to go” Witch reported then strapped in tighter.

“Hit it Dragon a Basestar just came out of jump” Spook shouted, then Dragon pressed the initiator and the Peregrine vanished before the Cylons could scan them. Or so he hoped.

They arrived 3 A.U. away from the Gate of Damnation alley. Heading toward the ruined sections of the wheel. Inbound and unaware of the CHYMERA’s presence there. What they did see as they arrived some 30 light seconds away was a Basestar emerging from within the Alley.

“How many of those Frakkin things do they have anyway?” Witch said seeing the Cylon vessel on the scanner. Spook killed the sensors and went into dark mode. So did Dragon and Witch.

Apparently it was just coming out from an attempt to penetrate the nebula, and needed to assess damage before jumping. Then it vanished as it jumped back to the Cyrannus system.

“I’ve got our calculations for a Valhalla jump ready Dragon,” Witch said after releasing the breath she was holding.

“Jumping” Dragon said then sent them once more back into the Nova Madagon and back to their home of Carillon. Just missing the emergence of the pair of Shrikes from the Alley.

Once they were back within the eye of the storm of the nebula Spook asked what those messages were about.

“What kind of code is that?”

“Something a friend of mine and I worked out for leaving messages.”

The book code, yea Witch told me about that. What’s this hours and days part though?”

“it goes back to a discussion he and I had, ‘if your sitting through a lecture at ATT hours can seem like days, if your talking to a beautiful woman, days can seem like hours’, time like all things is relative, and in this case can mean the opposite of what you might think. So most of what’s in those messages means the opposite of what is there. Like the coordinates, and times, we’ll have to reverse them to be correct. Happy hour at the Golden Arrow bar was at 22:00, but our opposite would be when it opens, 14:00.”

“Then day 317 would actually be 53, from ’Arm Day, Armistice Day? Plus 53, that’s in just 2 days!” Spook concluded figuring it out,

“That doesn’t give us much time Dragon” Witch added.

“No it doesn’t, for the Cylons either in case they pick that up and try to decode it.”

The Hanger pod of the GOLIATH loomed closer as they approached having passed the immense CISAR station Valhalla. Dragon got their clearance to dock and moved the Peregrine to their landing pad. Once again having to wait until the bay was closed and pressurized before they could go aboard the Battlecruiser.

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Cassiopeia was putting on her new uniform, that of a med tech apprentice. She had extensive knowledge of human anatomy (makes her more efficient at killing them) and of medicine. All part of her initial cover for the Charade on the Colonies. She had served as a nurse in the medical center where her current employer, Governor Ramius often went for treatment for his heart condition. Once she had brought herself to his attention, becoming his mistress was relatively easy. The profile they had on him showed him to be very promiscuous. Once in his confidence, she accessed the Caprica City data net and resource information to make sure any city wide defense systems were shut down at the time of the attack. She had engaged those programs just hours before Ramius had shown up to take her on his vacation. Now she was using those same medical skills to pose as a nurse in order to release her compatriot. Ben. He was under heavy guard and being used as test subject in the humans atte! mpt to find a way to detect their kind. Her first days were spent just doing general ‘first aid’. she took great care to be as efficient as possible despite her ever present urge to kill every human she saw. The next few doing even more, slowly she had to gain the trust of the doctor in charge, Helena Russell. The staff on Carillon was limited, few had any real Hospital experience. During one of her breaks she mentioned her service in several Hospice units to the Chief Medical Officer’s assistant. He recommended Cassy to be posted as another assistant to Dr. Russell so he wouldn’t have to be on call as often. A post she was happy to accept. She had it seems found a method of screening blood samples using the advanced electron microscope on Valhalla to detect the synthetic nature of their cells.

‘Frak,” she thought to herself. ‘They have a sample of my blood. When they scan it with that microscope, they will know who and what I am.‘ She couldn’t allow that. Not when she was so close to her objective. She casually looked over some of the files Dr. Russell had asked her to file and record for her. Delegating the menial paperwork and record keeping to the new nurse. As Cassy checked the records she saw that her sample was still ‘pending’. that meant they hadn’t scanned it yet. She considered what to do, if she switched samples with another colonist, it would have to be a female of similar characteristics, or the DNA part of the analysis wouldn’t support the data. It wouldn’t do if a males DNA were scanned to be a short blonde females.

No, she would need to find a close match then swap the humans for hers. And soon. Her sample was scheduled for testing in four days. She would have that long to find a suitable ‘substitute’. in the mean time, she would look for a way to free her companion. Then get him aboard the WARLOCK before it was restored and launched. At which time, he could take control of the Tender, then go get the others. Then, she could finally kill that fat buffoon Ramius.

She smiled thinking of that, then pulled up a search program on the monitor filling in the requirements for her samples replacement.

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Hawke, Greenlee and Masters were in a ward room going over the after action report on their first contact with the Battlestar PEGASUS.

“Looks like we have an appointment to keep doesn’t it Sir” Greenlee was saying.

“Yes it does. Once they get there, is there way for a face-to-face? Not just over wireless or even laser mic.” Hawke asked the Captain and pilot of the Peregrine.

“Yes sir. I can pull the docking collar out of the cargo bay and fit it onto our dorsal hatch. That will allow a solid dock onto theirs. Then we can pass whatever orders and files we want to share with them, and them with us. “ Masters answered, showing the senior officers a small schematic of the Peregrine.

“Good get her ready. String, I want a set of new scrambled and encrypted TAC channels and protocols ready. As well as a new set of ‘library books’ copied to disk for use as a code key. We’ll keep using this book code of yours Captain. For awhile anyway. Then put them in a charge satchel for transfer to the PEGASUS representatives.” Hawke ordered.

“Yes Sir. Hally is already working on the new TAC channels. Do you still think your team Hondo and Coffin will be the ones to meet you?” Greenlee asked.

“That would make the most sense. They can confirm who we are, and vice versa.”

“I think it would be what Cain would do as well. Send the most likely people to verify identities.” Hawke added. “alright, we have just two days to get things ready. Then once we have a regular probe and rendezvous schedule set up, we will coordinate our efforts with the PEGASUS, then we can really drive the war home to the Cylons”

Both of them smiled at their commander, how right he was.

( to be continued )