Word Count: 10,166
Peregrine 1 emerged normally within the Nova Madagon. The mood of the crew aboard her was both jubilant and somber. They were happier than words could describe that now, they were not alone in their struggle against the Cylon Alliance. They were bringing back data and codes that would allow them to make regular contact and supply runs between their two perspective units.
The Battlecruiser GOLIATH, and the second of two surviving Battlestars, the PEGASUS. The latter under the command of Garris Cain.
The sadness stemmed from the loss of the Cutter CHYMERA and all aboard her just prior to their leaving on their mission. Masters and his crew were climbing down from their ship when Chief Hand told Masters that he was wanted in the ward room as soon as possible. Sever and Giles were under orders not to discuss their mission with anyone, so despite questions from jack they had to decline. Sever just peeled open her flight suit and went about her usual post flight inspection. Giles headed for the Officers club.
Masters went through the hanger hatch and headed up to the ward room, satchel in hand. He would not let it out of his grip until its contents were safely in the custody of his C.O., Commander Matthew Hawke. The Marine opened the hatch and there waiting for him was Hawke, and the rather tall exec. Colonel Lance Greenlee, or String (short for Stringbean, his call sign). He saluted and Hawke, indicated for him to sit.
“I take it the mission went well Captain?” Hawke asked.
“Yes Sir, we made contact and exchanged files.” Masters entered the disarm code into the satchel and pulled out some data disks,, and an envelope addressed to Hawke, with the C.E.O. (commanders eyes only) stamped on it in large red letters.
“They confirmed most of what we already expected as to who was responsible for several of the attacks on their forces. They also have more resources than expected. Seems they cleaned out Molecay pretty well before it was destroyed. They’ve offered to transfer some of them, details will be forthcoming in three days on cipher pad 8, at ’dead drop’ Constellation, according to the new chart provided.” Masters went on as the new ciphers disks were handed over.
“Excellent, WE’ll have to prepare an update to inform them of the loss of the CHYMERA. As well as a list of tradable items, fuel is our main surplus, and something I’ll bet a huge guzzler like the PEGASUS could really use.” Hawke spelled out what procedure he would want to use when contact was made again.
“Bojay, Syke said they have some ordinance they can spare for sure, perhaps more.” Masters continued.
“In that case, String, once Peregrine 1 confirms their arrival at the new rondevous, we’ll join them ourselves, unload whatever they have on the hanger deck, then refuel them. Next trip, have our Shrikes accompany the Peregrine, they can jump to where we’ll be waiting.” Hawke tucked the envelope from Commander Cain away until he could look at it privately while he spoke.
“Yes Sir, I recommend that we put the GOLIATH at a distance of 1 light hour from the rondevous, well within easy jump range, but far enough to be out of ‘actual’ scanner distance.” String added.
“Very good. Keep all contact at ‘Amber’ status, need to know only. That media agent Miss Quinn has been snooping around the Warriors on leave on the surface, I don’t want her catching any wind of the PEGASUS. Understood?” Hawke concluded.
Both officers answered with a “Yes Sir. Then he stood, saluted and dismissed them. They returned the salute and left by the hatch. Hawke went to the door, locked it down and returned to the table.
He took the envelope back out and opened it.
From: G. Cain, Commander, Battlestar PEGASUS
To: Commander, Colonial Contingent in the field.
Classification: Commander's Eyes Only. No permanent record.
Forgive the rather vague title of the addressee, but at this time of writing, your identity is unknown to me. But you now know who I am, and from what fleet ship I’m writing to you from.
I had this letter entrusted to my representative, Captain Eugene Syke - the CAG of Silver Spar Wing - and instructed him to hand it to your representative. If you are reading this, then the initial contact was a success. I must stress that the information in this letter must not be made public to any but your closest confidants, for reasons which will be made apparent.
The Battlestar PEGASUS is the only survivor of Task Force Five, which was destroyed over Caprica. We are alone, but we are intact and fully battle worthy - as a number of tin-heads have already found out to their cost - without so far reveali! ng our identity. In addition to Silver Spar Wing, the Battlestar PACIFICA's Black Knight Wing is now based on the PEGASUS, along with Peregrine Five.
At this moment, we are currently on a mission to locate the Battlestar GALACTICA and the civilian vessels she is escorting - though for now our precise location cannot be disclosed. It is my intention to get Commander Adama to quickly convey the civilian ships to the nearest suitable planet, then to have the GALACTICA accompany the PEGASUS back into battle as this is the only way to ensure the protection of those survivors. Running from the Cylons is futile. The only way for our race to survive is to defeat them.
Unfortunately, there has been a discovery of humanoid Cylon agents, which was - I believe - what the tin-heads used in order to compromise the colonies and therefore enable the Cylons to defeat us so quickly. One of these agents was among some survivors we rescued from Caprica before we left the Cyrannus System.! This agent nearly succeeded in alerting the tin-heads to our presence on several occasions and only the fact that a sensor disc planted in the shoulder patch of a flight suit was discovered, enabled us to eventually identify it. I strongly advise you to check carefully those around you as they could either be Cylon, or be carrying one of those discs. The disc can be easily located by means of sensor radiation of the type that the Cylons use: It will react to the radiation by amplifying a reflective ‘echo’.
Regardless, their presence makes such security matters a high priority, which is why you must ensure that this information becomes compartmentalized. In addition, a recent communications intercept indicates that several of these agents may be posing as survivors in disabled ships, so be very wary of any distress calls until a definite means to identify the agents can be made.
I have included a data disk of extracts from our battle log with this letter. This will gi! ve you an idea of what we have encountered since the destruction of Task Force Five. Also, Captain Syke will have passed to you new code protocols, code cipher pads, and co-ordinates for your probes to jump to in order to communicate with us. Needless to say, all of this must be kept confidential.
I am glad that the tin-heads are not having a pleasant stay on our home worlds, and hopefully soon, when the PEGASUS returns with the GALACTICA, then we can work together in order to start taking back what we have lost. May the Lords of Kobol protect you all.
Hawke finished reading the letter, then put it back ito the satchel with the rest of the files. Once it was secure again, left the ward room and went up to C.I.C. to drop off the chart and cipher pads. They would be secured in the new vault that Hawke had Bishop and Hand install. ( the original one had already been removed during the decommissioning tear down). This one along with the usual duel code key entry, required a biometric scan of both Hawke and Greenlee, prior to the ‘keys’ being used and the 12 digit entry code. The location of the biometric scan well away from the vault. If access was attempted with the keys and number codes before the bio-scan, well the CIC would just not look the same.
The personal message and Red disks would be placed in Hawkes personal safe in his quarters, the procedure similar, (only his presence was needed) to the C.I.C. vault. Once everthing was secure he sat at his desk and considered the tactical situation. Yes they now had a Battlestar available, but they should act and function as if they did not. He had no intention of growing ‘reliant’ on Cain. Yes they could when possible exchange material. Fuel for whatever the PEGASUS could spare. And intelligence of course. That could be handled through the probes. But act alone otherwise. If a priority target presented itself that required their combined efforts and firepower, then a coordinated strike would be arranged.
Otherwise, his priority would have to be the protection of Carillon. Without the CHYMERA they could not afford to lose another ship. Even after the WARLOCK was complete, it had no hope of staving off a Cylon attack. Even the GOLIATH would be hard pressed in that event really, but a far better chance than the tender. And Valhalla, well its point defences were still at an extreme low. Few munitions and fewer ships than she had. Her one wing of Vipers manned by midshipmen and a few veterans. They did have hanger space for 3 more full wings, bit little hope of filling them unless another colonial unit could be found. The one hope that he held was that perhaps the PROMETHEUS had not been able to launch all her Vipers and that some were still aboard. She no doubt had a large compliment of missiles and other munitions. He had ordered Chiefs Bishop and Hand as well as his CAG Captain Sasinak to propose a salvage mission on her. He had some ideas, but wanted their input as well.
Their own wing, the Golden Arrows were somewhat depleted as well. With their losses from the extraction mission that saved and recovered the crew of the ITHACA, they now stood at a total of 34 Vipers. They still had 2 Shrikes, and all the shuttles, but only the Shrikes could be used for combat. 10 Vipers and 4 Shrikes protected the space drome, and the ten Shrikes on Valhalla were all the combat ships they had. Hardly enough to repel an attack should one come.
No, the more he thought about it, the more convinced he was that the PEGASUS would serve both the GALACTICA and Carillon better if she continued on her own, harassing the Cylons keeping their forces away from Maddigon. At least until they could arrange reinforcements. Commander Landis had requested permission to send a group of his Colonial Marshals to the Chespek sector, that now would have to be postponed, any survivors from the outlaw pirates and their rescouces (if any) would have to wait. He would not risk the GOLIATH on such a mission, yet.
Doctor Helena Russell was at her lab table processing the blood samples of the Colony, on Commander Hawkes order she was to begin with the crews of the ships CHYMERA, and the GOLIATH, as insurance that all aboard could be trusted. Well she had almost completed the results on the CHYMERA, but now that all aboard were presumed lost, that was a moot point. The GOLIATH’s crew results were almost 80% complete, as well as a random sampling of the civilians, and the crew of guardsman personnel on Valhalla. She was tired and the strain of peering into the eye pieces of her custom high powered electron microscope for hours on end were beginning to take its toll. She had twice had to recheck then get another opinion from her chief of staff about samples that she thought may be synthetic. Turned out both were negative, the anomalies were because they were pregnant, something she had not seen since she began doing strictly research.
She was just going to pull the slide out of the sighting chamber when she had to take a second look. Perhaps her eyes were playing tricks again,, she made sure her calibrations were correct, then looked again. She brought up the samples from the ’living’ doner, ben, on the second monitor, then the current one on the first. They were a match.
She quickly looked at the code and name on the vial of the sampe and her mouth fell open. She then reached for the ’phone’ that would connect her to the Horizon communications center to get the GOLIATH on the line, then as she was about to dial, a thought occurred to her, she replaced the handset and used the intercom instead.
“Kyle, would you come to my lab for a minute? It’s urgent” she said, Kyle Strucker, her Chief of staff answered.
“Of course Doctor, be right there.” after he closed the intercom he looked into the deep blue eyes of the nurse at the reception station and politely excused himself. Damn he hated to tear himself away from such a lovely creature.
“I’m sorry Cassy, duty calls. I’ll come by later to see how your doing, if you still need help with those files,, let me know. “ he said as he slowly walked away.
“Yes Sir, Doctor Striker, I’ll do that.” she smiled at him as he went to see what Dr. Russell wanted. She was sure it was likely because she had identified a Cylon blood sample. Hers of course, but labelled with anothers name and code. Compliments of her switching the tags. Once her identity victim was in custody, she could proceed with the rest of her plan. If all went well, this Colonies days were numbered.
Serena Quinn was a professional. She knew when a story was brewing somewhere. The lack of messages from the CHYMERA for more than a day was not unusual, but now it had been two. Even more strange as that normally the probes that it sends back to deliver telemetry to the GOLIATH had not been picked up either. Granted here on the surface they didn’t have the hardware to decode those messages, they would just hear the burst of the signal. Lately, her new tech team weren’t even picking those up. Not a good sign. The more she thought about it, the more curious she had become, she put in calls to the Governor, useless gesture, but you never know, he might tell her something. Then more up to Valhalla to her sources there. They too had not heard from the Cutter.
What they had heard was that Shrikes from the CHYMERA had returned, sent a message to the Battlecruiser, then docked on her landing bay. Noone had seen the pilots of those Marshal craft since.
She put in a request for a shuttle and visit aboard Commander Hawkes ship, it was denied, a sure sign he was hiding something. She had delt with military types often enough to know that much. What she suspected was bad, but a good reporter cant tell the public what she suspected. She needed facts. One way or another, she would get them.
String received his orders from Hawke, and made sure the outgoing messages to the PEGASUS were properly encrypted. Having no other probes they were forced to use the new ‘modified’ versions they had. Chief Hand programmed them to arrive just at the extreme ‘actual’ range of the destination coordinates to help hide the fact that they were now configured like Cylon Grasshoppers.
Within minutes the single probe was set and ready for launch from the GOLIATH’s hanger deck.
Flight officer Winger controlled it by remote until it was clear and the jump engine was set. Then released it to internal control. The probe flashed as it left the Carillon system and arrived at the rendevous point. Then scanned for IFF enable signals, finding an answer on the new Tac channel and in the encrypted protocols sent , then received the recorded messages for a new meeting point.
Then jumped back to the GOLIATH.
The messages were downloaded by the intel officer and decoded. The start of which was for the Commanders eyes only. She placed that section on a read only disk and held the rest in her active memory unit. When Commander Hawke read it it would say:
CAIN TO HAWKE. RECEIVED YOUR COMMUNICATIONS. THANKS FOR INFORMATION. NEXT MANNED RENDEZVOUS SET FOR CHESPEK SECTOR AT CO-ORDINATES 339-002 AT ARM DAY PLUS SIXTY-TWO. BEARING IN MIND YOUR MESSAGE THAT YOU HAVE NO OTHER SCOUT BESIDES PEREGRINE ONE, PEREGRINE FIVE WILL BE THERE TO DELIVER SURPLUS RAPTOR TO YOUR COMMAND. PLEASE ENSURE YOUR PEREGRINE CONFIGURED TO TAKE RECEIPT OF RAPTOR AT RENDEZVOUS. PEREGRINE FIVE WILL ALSO DELIVER SUPPLY OF TYPE THREE SCARAB AND LONGBOW SSM’S. SECOND CONTACT PARTY FROM PEGASUS TO BE LED BY LIEUTENANT TRICIA CAIN
Another message, this one on a ‘Book Code’ designation was set aside for Captain Masters.
Logan, Sorry I won’t be on the next rendezvous, but I do need to look after my wing from time to time. My deputy will be representing the PEGASUS when the next meeting occurs. Her identity cannot be disclosed here for obvious reasons, save to say that she has the full confidence of Commander Cain and the command staff of the PEGASUS. She will be accompanied by an individual you well know, so be prepared for a reunion of sorts.
Anyway, I hope that Commander Hawke likes the little ‘gift’ of the Raptor that we will be ferrying over to the rendezvous point. You will need to have your Peregrine configured to ‘accept’ the raptor, though. From what Hondo has told me, it should not be any problem for you, or your support crews.
The raptor will be loaded with spare parts, and I’m making sure that the APC bay of the FLEET AVENGER will have a supply of scarab and longbow SSM’s for you and DRAGON’s LAIR to use on the tin-heads.
By! the way, I forgot to ask you earlier: You have any of that special coffee blend that we both loved to drink when we were at VTT? I had noticed the servitor on board the FLEET AVENGER and since Hondo had told me that there was one like it on your ship and you were the chief test pilot and all......
Stay safe and don’t give those Tin-headed monstrosities any respite.
Once that mission was out of the way and all messages were confirmed as being from the PEGASUS, Winger launched the remaining probes, and sent them to hide in plain site within the Cyrannus system. There they would stay until they had filled their mission memories or intercepted something that sounded like an immediate threat to the GOLIATH or Carillon.
Ensign Hally sent a ship wide address to the senior staff. String, Colonel Greenlee was on the C.I.C. at the time.
“Did we get an answer Ensign?”
“Yes Sir, and they’re all ready.”
String called to some support officers to releive him and Hally so they could join the conference in the ward room. Shortly Hawke, Masters, Sever and Captain Sassinak, the Golden Arrow commander entered and settled around the large table. Hally handed out the disks and messages for each. As well as the general ‘housekeeping’ intel the PEGASUS had sent.
Masters read his message from Bojay, he had to keep that to himself, in the current crisis, all supplies were the pervue of the quartermaster, regardless of their source. But Bojay had been right. The Peregrines did have their own long range supplies. Part of which had been (at Dragon’s insistance) a good supply of the best coffee the growers on Libron could produce. And yes he had a 5 kilo block to spare in the dry good locker aboard the LAIR. Well, as good a friends as they were, ‘they would still have to work a trade of some kind for that little treat’ he thought to himself. His thoughts were broken as Hawke spoke. He had finished reeading the message from Commander Cain.
“String, do we have room in the bay for another utility ship?” he said with a grin on his face. With a bay the size of theirs, primarily built for a huge selection of service vessels of course they did.
“I think we could squeeze in one, yes Sir.”
“Good. Have Jack get a space ready for a Raptor then. CAG, you’ll have to cut loose at last two more pilots, one for the RSO and one to fly it.”
Ellen Sassinak nodded. that’s two more short of her full strength she would be. Her squadron was getting weaker all the time.
“Yes Sir, I’ll see if we have anyone else familiar with Raptor systems.” she replied.
Just then there was a knock on the hatch, the marine outside opened it and gave the officers a salute. And Chief Bishop, Captain Rodo of the marine unit, and Hand entered.
“Reporting as ordered Sir”
“Have a seat gentlemen.” Hawke continued after the hatch was secured once more. “as to our
Other problem. The PEGASUS had a similar problem of being detected early during an assault mission like we did, they may have an answer as to how. Your investigation still turned up nothing?”
“Correct Sir, we have gone over those ships with a fine tooth comb. Nothing out of the ordinary.”
Captain Rodo answered.
“And the pilots? Were they checked as well?” Hawke asked his security Chief.
“Yes Sir, Doctor Pierce examined them all”
Now Hawke had to wonder, had this ‘resonance disk’ been used aboard the GOLAITH? And if so, how did it get here. Were there still unknown models of humanoid Cylons posing as the crew? And if so, who was it?
“Bishop, can we configure our scanners to send on the Cylon scanner or attack frequencies?”
Hawke said and looked again at the reports sent by Cain.
“the frequencies perhaps, but not their codes or scrambled protocols.”
“what about a hand held unit?”
“I think so, I can pull a spare Viper target scanner from storage and reprogram it. But it wont have much range. May I ask what we need it for Sir?”
“you may ask,, just get it ready. Then I want the wing that participated in the attack on the Sentinel post to report to the launch deck with their ships in the full combat dress they had at the time.”
“Yes Sir, does that include me Sir?” Sassinak (Syrin) asked.
“Yes CAG it does, no exceptions.”
She nodded and made some notes. Masters looked at the declassified section that told of the Raptor transfer.
“Sir, although it is possible to mount a docking frame on the dorsal of the Peregrine, I would not recommend it. With the live munitions to be transferred doing so in EVA would be rather risky”
“I agree and had already thought of that Dragon, that’s why were taking the GOLIATH to make the rendevous.”
They all looked shocked as he said this.
“we’ll place the GOLIATH 1 A.U. from the meeting point, Shrike 1 and 2 will escort the Peregrine, once Peregrine 5 arrives, Dragon, you’ll send back one Shrike to come and get us, then we’ll bring them aboard and conduct the transfer.”
They all could see the wisdom of this, it would be far easier to move missiles and the Raptor aboard the Cruiser rather than try to do so in space suits free floating in deep space.
“Have our other issues been addressed as to the missiles being jammed?”
Chief Hand spoke up.
“Yes Sir, I’ve refitted all their control circuits, and they have a secondary operational frequency as well. The Cylons shouldn’t be able to jam them again Sir.”
“Our rondevous is in one day, get everything ready.”
They all acknowledged his orders then the meeting was adjourned.
Captain Sassinak had assigned the task of escorting the Peregrine to Lt. Golliday, (Chas) and to Captain Marro, (Chyna) she was still in training as a Shrike pilot but had come along far enough to be permitted to fly one for real this time. They sat on the hangers deck along side the Peregrine. All awaited the jump from just outside the Nova Madagon, to the Chespek Sector. Two other Shrikes with marshal Crow and marshal Janek sat ready for launch as well. As long as they were in this sector anyway, Hawke had reasoned that they might as well try to locate these pirates they suspected of being here.
“Condition two is set Sir, were ready for jump.” String said to Hawke, both were on the C.I.C. again. Hawke sighed and shook his head getting ready for the second jump that would take them close to the rendevous point.
“Execute”. then their senses reeled as the huge ship folded space, adhering to two locations then releasing the near one sending them instantly to the destination. Once there, the crew had to wait for their senses to return to normal then checked the instruments to confirm they were where they wanted to be. The O.D. (officer of the deck) Ensign Bowem examined the star readings,
“Sir, we are 4 A.U.’s from the dwarf star Rejek. Commscan shows we are alone at this time”
“Very well, deploy the pod and launch welcoming committee”
The four Shrikes launched first moving into a screening pattern, then the Peregrine piloted by Masters and his usual crew of Sever as co pilot and Giles as PSO in the rear compartment. As the larger ship pulled away on a course toward the set meeting spot on the far side of the star, two Shrikes moved to join it, the others moved off and set a new jump destination of their own.
“Shrikes 3 and 4 have jumped Dragon” Chyna reported.
“Roger that, lets get into position, when we signal, Chas, you make the jump back to GOLIATH and let Hawke know its clear”
“You got it Sir”
Once their ships were in position just above the corona of the star they powered down and waited. It wasn’t long before Spook’s (Giles) passive scanners picked up the energy spike of a jump.
“We’ve got company, bogie at 123 mark 70.”
“Weapons free people, Spook, ping them.” Dragon said as he held the gun controls, not taking any chances that perhaps a random Cylon patrol had happened across their meeting.
“Got it, IFF shows its Peregrine 5” Spook answered after the return of the ping.
“Roger that, lets say hello” Dragon switched on the new TAC channel. Then pointed the dedicated laser mic at them. He heard the automatic telemetry exchange signal beep in his ear, then overheard as Peregrine 5’s crew spoke up.
“Nothing in the vicinity of us that we can see on passive sensors”, Sims reported over the inter-com.
“But if you used your active sensors, you’d be able to see us”, a familiar voice came back over the inter-com.
“Hey there, Dragon”, Hunter said, “Everything quiet around here?” He noticed that it was a short-range laser beam communication mode that Masters was using.
“So far, nothing nearby”, Masters replied, “Nice looking raptor you have there”, he said after looking at the mated ships. Sims had powered up the active sensor platform and saw the DRAGON’S LAIR and a pair of Colonial Marshal ’Shrikes’ approaching fast. Hunter and Tricia saw the LAIR was well on their screens.
“My father had a feeling that you’d like the ‘gift’, Dragon”,
Tricia communicated. Dragon knew he had heard that voice before, his mind played back to the days of his graduation. The whole day kept in total detail due to his caber-viral implant. When he received his tactical excellence award Commander Cain had been the presenter. Just behind him had been his daughter. Tricia Cain. He spoke to her only briefly, but still long enough to be recognized.
“Father? Wait, I know that voice. No offense, but aren’t you dead??”, he asked.
“Those reports have been greatly exaggerated. The PEGASUS is now my home”, Tricia replied, “My call-sign is Sheba”.
“Glad to make your acquaintance, Sheba”, Masters answered. Call-signs were more appropriate than names to use on missions.
“We have a mutual friend on board the FLEET AVENGER, Dragon”, Tricia said next, “He goes by the call-sign of Rogue. Ring any bells?”, she asked with a smile. Higgins was not amused at her tone of voice.
“Is that the same Rogue at ATT who cheated me out of my sword?”, Masters demanded. Sever looked at Masters interestingly when he said that. She had heard about Dragon coming in second at ATT, but she didn’t know who it was that had beaten him.....until now.
Dragon looked over his shoulder and mouthed the words “I let him win “, which was more truthful than he cared to admit. With his cyber-viral enhanced reflexes and intelligence, he thought at the time that coming in first may bring unwanted attention to himself, and the possibly illegal advantage those enhancements might bring.
"Uh, hi there, Dragon", Higgins chimed in, "Long time, no see".
"I still think it was nothing more than a frakking fluke, Rogue", Masters said jokingly, but then said more cheerfully, "but it is good to hear your voice again".
Masters looked at Sever ! and nodded. She said "send it" on the intercom to Giles, who activated a brief transmission burst. Shortly after, one of the escorting Shrikes made a jump.
“What’s happening, Dragon?”, Tricia asked, obviously referring to the just-departed escort ship.
“Just sending a message back to base”, Masters replied. “Don’t worry, Chyna is in the other shrike and she’ll be keeping a good eye on things while we do business”.
“Chyna?”, Tricia communicated, “You mean Lieutenant Marro?”
“Actually, it’s now Captain Marro, Sheba”, Marro replied, “but it’s great to hear your voice again. How did you manage to be on the PEGASUS instead of the TRITON?”, she asked.
“We’ve time enough for chatting later”, Masters cut in, gently admonishing them both. Both Tricia and Marro knew that Masters was right. There would be a better place and time to chat about recent events.
As the two Peregrines drew closer to each other, Tricia noticed that the DRAGON’S LAIR didn’t seem configured to take receipt of the raptor. She drew Hunter’s attention to it. Hunter nodded, then keyed his mike.
"Hey, Dragon", he sent, "Don’t you want the raptor? I don’t see anything on your hull that it can dock on to".
Sever chimed in, “Frak, I knew we forgot something“
"Don’t worry, Hondo", Dragon replied, "We’ve got something coming that can take receipt of it a little better than we can".
"Oh?", Tricia asked, "and what, pray tell, is that? I thought that the Peregrine was all that you had".
Masters looked as his chronometer, then said (with a smirk on his face), "It will be along just about.......now!"
A second after Masters said the "now", a large flash of light lit up the area, signaling an FTL-entry of something massive.
"Frakk!", Sims blurted out while looking at his screen, "It’s a battlecruiser!"
Guests of the GOLIATH
Hanging there where an instant before was empty space, was the immense bulk of the Battlecruiser GOLIATH. Tricia’s and Hunter’s jaws dropped as they saw the leviathan sitting there. True, the exterior was old and a little bit battered, but as a warship, it was still efficient and deadly. Their sensors indicated that the battle! cruiser was operational and well-manned. She even had her twin quad main guns at full extension and ready to fire. Both ships detected the active scanners and brief weapons lock as she did a full burn and slowed to almost station keeping.
"Greetings and salutations, FLEET AVENGER", A new voice came over the intercom. Tricia knew that voice: one that she had not heard since the academy, but still one that she remembered well.
"Commander Hawke?", she asked. She remembered him when her father had given Hawke an award at an academy commencement ceremony some years ago.
"The one and only", he replied, "And until your father’s follow-up message, I thought that you were dead, Lieutenant", he finished.
"As I told Dragon, rumors of my death had been greatly exaggerated", she replied.
"We’re dispatching a shuttle to tow the raptor on board", Hawke explained as Sims reported that a vessel had exited the GOLIATH’s landing bay,
"Please release the raptor, then come on board. Our Peregrine will head in first. You’re clear to land immediately after. I'm afraid that our hangar bays are not arranged the same as on the PEGASUS, so your ship will remain on the hanger deck and you’ll egress after we get it pressurized”.
Hunter looked at Tricia, who nodded. There were some additional messages that Cain had written to Hawke, which was supposed to have been given to Masters, but she had no objections to doing that task personally.
"Understood, GOLIATH", Hunter crisply communicated, "the Raptor has been disengaged from us. We’re heading in".
Tricia watched the maw of the GOLIATH’s landing bay grow larger and larger as Hunter skillfully followed DRAGON’S LAIR in. Tricia saw that the maw was nearly twice the size of the PEGASUS’ in width, and half again as tall. - obviously the GOLIATH was not designed with Raptors piggy-backing on Peregrines in mind - but despite that, Hunter skillfully! alighted upon the flight deck. As they looked out of the cockpit they could see the belly pod fully extended now, its maw almost half the size again of a Battlestars.
"The Raptor is being brought in now", Sims reported. He was looking at his rear scanner, which showed that the undocked raptor had been captured by the shuttle, and was now being towed in, but Tricia barely heard the report.
Looking out of her cockpit window, Tricia saw that the DRAGON’S LAIR had powered down and they were now settled onto their pad on the port side. Another identical shuttle size pad was lit right next to them for theirs.
Hunter quickly powered down the AVENGER’s engines and the flight deck avionics as they too settled into place. A few seconds after contact, a status indicator light on Hunter’s console turned green.
"Mag lock active, clam shell doors are closing”.
Then after a few minutes another light went green. And the massive interior flood lights of the hanger came on.
“ Hanger is pressurized, Sheba", Hunter said. At that moment, another voice came over the communicator.
"GOLIATH Core Command to Peregrine Five, You are cleared for crew egress", the voice said.
"Understood, Core Command", Hunter replied, "We’re coming aboard". With that, Tricia stood up and stretched. Hunter took off his headset and stood up himself. Gesturing for Tricia to leave the cockpit first, both headed back to the PSO area, where Sims and Higgins were waiting for them.
"Let’s open it, Rogue", Tricia said, indicating the ventral hatch. Nodding, Higgins quickly checked the status display on the hatch, confirming that the exterior was pressurized, then activated the latch.
The hatchway opened, and they climbed down the ladder With Tricia leading, the four of them exited the AVENGER and stepped onto the hangers deck. Masters and his crew were doing the same from the LAIR. Looking around the immense bay they could see the other shuttles, marine drop shi! ps and Shrikes stowed along the hangers sides. Hatches in between these larger alcoves opened and the deck gangs entered and moved to separate the Raptor from the utility shuttle, as well as service the Peregrines and offload the AVENGERS cargo from the APC bay. At their lead was a man mountain in crew uniform.
Behind him was an Officer , who - except for the presence of the GOLIATH’ s ground crew chief - would have seemed tall. As he stepped around the taller Leonian. But first, the niceties of service protocol had to be completed. Tricia saluted the colonial seal that was printed on the bulkhead, then the officer.
"Permission to come aboard, Sir?", she asked.
"Permission granted, Lieutenant", the tall officer replied. Tricia saw that this person was wearing the insignia of a Colonel.
"Are you the Executive Officer, Colonel?", Tricia asked. The colonel nodded, then he extended his hand.
"My name is Greenlee", he said, "And who am I addressing?", he asked.
"My name is Cain", Tricia replied. Greenlee’s eyes widened.
"Commander Cain’s daughter?", he asked. Tricia nodded.
"I wondered why the Commander didn’t tell me directly who was expected. He simply told me that the person I was to meet enjoyed the full confidence of Commander Cain", he explained. He now knew why Commander Hawke was smiling so much. Tricia then introduced the others in her party. Each saluted Greenlee, who returned the salute, then shook their hands.
“If you all would care to follow me, I’ll take you up to CIC now to see the Commander", Greenlee said.
As additional crewmen passed by them and started to work on unloading the AVENGER, and the now-secured raptor of the stowed ordinance and other equipment, other people approached. With Captain Masters leading, several pilots from the GOLIATH’s squadrons were coming to welcome the newcomers on board, including Captain Sassinak. All four of them recognized at least one of the welcoming! pilots in the group. Looks like it was going to be a reunion of sorts.
"Welcome aboard the GOLIATH, Sheba", Masters said, shaking her hand. He then turned to face Higgins, whose smile was a little more restrained.
"ATT aside, Rogue, glad to see that you’re okay", he said, shaking his hand.
He then saw Hunter and Sims, and nodded to them, saying, "Good to see both of you back. I guess I’ll have to give your duration trial a passing grade now". Then gave them a big smile.
“Thank you Sir”. Hunter returned the smile as his former C.O. referred to their enduring the protracted stay aboard the AVENGER after the attack until they were rescued by the PEGASUS.
“It’s like a class reunion”, Tricia commented in greeting to the assembled newcomers. Tricia knew Sassinak well: she was her cadet division commander at the academy in her final year (Tricia was two classes behind), and the others she knew of from both the academy, and the frequent fleet exercises over ! the last couple of years.
“Imagine how we feel, Sheba”, Sassinak replied with a smile, “Until we had gotten wind of the PEGASUS’ existenc e, we had completely resigned ourselves to never seeing any other survivor of the fleet. It’s great to see that we’re not the only ones giving the tin-heads hell!”.
“When we catch up to the GALACTICA, we’ll be giving them a lot more than hell”, Higgins interjected. Everyone present nodded at that.
“If you officers will excuse us”, Greenlee said next, “Commander Hawke is expecting our guests up in CIC”.
Masters got the hint. He said to the others, “Let’s go to the club. Once the Commander is finished, then we can carry on our chat there, okay?”, he said to Tricia. She nodded.
While Masters led the ‘reception committee’ away, Greenlee turned and walked along the corridor. Tricia and the others followed. Despite the scarred exterior of the GOLIATH, the interior looked like it could stand a full fleet inspection. Hawke obviously ran a tight ship and obviously wanted to make sure that the battlecruiser could handle any assignment given to it well. The crew looked eff! icient and sharp - no sign of morale - and the ones they passed greeted them cheerfully, but otherwise went along with their assignments: the presence of the XO making sure that they were not delayed in meeting the Commander.
After a short walk, followed by a ride in an elevator, they finally emerged in CIC. As they entered, the duty crew spontaneously broke into applause.
It lasted for a few seconds before Commander Hawke raised his hand. After the applause died down, he walked over to the party and shook their hands.
“Welcome aboard the GOLIATH”, Hawke said to them all.
“It’s great to be here, Commander”, Tricia said - remembering this person who his father had honored at the academy that time long ago,
“Commander Cain of the Battlestar PEGASUS asked me to convey his greetings to you, and the crew of the GOLIATH”, she said formally.
“Until your father mentioned to me in the last message that you were coming, Lieutenant”, Hawke said to her, “I thought that you had perished along with the TRITON”.
“The Raptor we sent to you was sent to the PEGASUS by mistake”, Sheba replied, “I was sent over to pick it up and ferry it over to the TRITON. But then the war intervened”, she explained.
“Sorry about the TRITON”, Hawke said, “but you at least survived and from what I understand, you’re doing one heck of a job as the deputy CAG of Silver Spar Wing”.
“I ended up filling the shoes of a dead man”, Tricia said, downplaying the statement, “but Bojay....I mean, Captain Syke has a lot of confidence in me.”
“From what Captain Masters has told me about Captain Syke”, Hawke replied, “he has a good head on his shoulders. I could have made good use of him here ! on the GOLIATH”.
“Sorry, Commander”, Tricia said, “I’m afraid my father has first dibs on him”.
So do I, she thought to herself. The people in CIC had a good chuckle at Tricia’s reply. The chuckle died down abruptly as one of the commscan technicians suddenly shouted, “FTL-emergence approx 10 A.U.‘s, at that distance data is almost two minutes old. at bearing three-two-five. Negative IFF!”.
“Set Condition One”, Hawke ordered, “Have alpha wing stand by.”
Colonel Greenlee moved to the intel station where the young Ensign Hally was bent over her set up of screens.
“Friend or foe Ensign?“ he asked her.
“Target is a hostile, I make it as a Grasshopper. Moving slowly, but it’s running on passives. No active scan. I don’t think it’s seen us , yet Sir”.
String (Colonel Greenlee, call sign Stringbean, often String) moved back to the plotting table where Hawke and Lt. Cain were bending over the charts. As the alert klaxon went off, Tricia asked Hawke, “Is there anything that Rogue and I can do, Commander?, gesturing to Higgins.
“Have any of your exploits put you in this area before lieutenant? he asked.
"Yes Sir, our patrols have been.“ She saw where his thought was going as they looked over the chart. Although they were in what would be called ‘empty’ space, they were near a star, a brown dwarf. Heavy in gravity and the source of extensive interference with long range sensors. That’s why Hawke had selected it as the meeting point. The GOLIATH’s scanners were more sensitive than the probes, so they (in theory) would see it before it saw them.
“We could dip closer to the star, that should shield us from the probes passives.“ Sheba concluded.
“Why don’t we just jump?” Higgins asked.
“Because our jump energy signature would be picked up, and as large as we are they would know a Capital ship was here.” Hawke answered. “Helm, thrusters only. Nudge us toward the star.”
“Yes Sir” came the reply. Then Hawke looked to his exec.
“Can we target something that small with the primaries?”
“normally I would say yes, but with our crew still in training, I couldn’t be positive.”
“Sir, your secondary barrage guns are Colonial standard aren’t they?” Sheba asked. Pretty sure the GOLIATHS guns were the same as the PEGASUS despite being almost 5 decades older.
“Yes, but those would have a hard time targeting a probe as well” Hawke smiled, seeing the glint in Tricia’s eyes, knowing she knew she could do it.
“Guns 3 and 4 are in the best shape, get up there. Comm, get Dragon and Witch up there too, see if they can repeat their performance over Tarturas”
“Yes Sir, on our way” Sheba gave a quick salute as they left the C.I.C.
“sending now Sir.” came the comm officers reply.
Tricia and Higgins moved through the massive cruiser going up to the spine where the 16 secondary batteries rested. They told the gunners mates that they were relieved by order of the Commander, then moved up to the ‘bubble’ between the large rail guns. They had just strapped in and settled into position when they noticed Masters and Sever climbing into the next set of guns down. Emplacements 5 and 6 now held the crew of Peregrine 1.
“Wait for my command” Hawke’s voice came through the headsets of the 4 pilots, the other gunners were told to stand by.
“Roger that command” came Masters reply, then Sheba’s and her wingman’s as well.
“Outer hull is getting warm Sir,” String added. “ Gravity is playing hell with the thrusters, we wont be able to sit in here long.”
“The Probe has gone active Sir, I read it in real time now, passing over the terminator, moving closer.” Ensign Hally watched as their passives picked up the Cylon probes LIDAR and tachyon emissions.
“It should see us any second” String said looking over Hally’s shoulder once more.
“Don’t use the active target lock Rogue, just the ’cross hairs’” Sheba ordered her wingman. Dragon and Witch were doing the same. Tracking the probe in the heads up display of their eye piece of the headset. Waiting for it to be within optimal firing range. If it should detect them and manage to jump back before they could kill it, then the secret of the Battlecruisers existence would be ruined. Then the safety of Carillon would be in jeopardy.
“Roger that Sheba, I see it.”
“Target almost in range” Witch added with a wicked smile on her face.
“hold until we get the word Witch.” Dragon said to hold back his eager co-pilot.
She pouted a bit , but held her finger over the triggers. As did they all.
The GOLIATH began to shake as the ship fought the intense gravity well of the nearly burned out star. They all knew they were running out of time. The huge vessel would not be able to get back out on thrusters alone, they would need the main engines, but to do that would alert the probe. Then Hawke’s voice came back over the comm.
All four pilots fired in unison as the Grasshopper sped over them in its pass around the star. The plasma charged bullets sped at near light speed toward the small probe. Several passed over and around it, forcing it to do a retro burn to slow and change course. Its simple level one Cylon brain telling it, it was under fire and seeking a F.T.L. lock to jump and inform the others. But it too had moved too close to the star for a lock. It had picked up intermittent energy readings inconsistent with the stars, and had moved to investigate. Dragon and Witch kept it harassed hitting several small drones it dispatched to decoy them and let Sheba zero in her guns. A split second later she got the lock, and the probe nearly vaporized as the super heated energy shell split it apart.
“YES, got it” She cried out as the guns powered down.
“Get us out of here String” Hawke ordered.
“Helm Full power to engines1 - 4 , now, execute.” was his reply. The helmsman poured the power of all four energizers into their main engines, the ship shook even more as they fought the intense gravity. Many holding onto the instrument panels, the decks seemed to groan as they pulled away, slowly the great behemoth rose from the corona of the star. And back into the coolness of open space.
“Maintain full speed, put us on a course for the Anitell system. We’ll need to cool off for a bit Sir before we can jump.” String informed the tall C.O.
Hawke nodded his head,
“Very well, Peregrine 5 will have to risk a high speed departure then.”
Sheba and the others climbed down from the gun emplacements. Her with the biggest smile.
“I told Hawke I could hit it” she beamed in triumph.
“That was a nice shot Sheba” Sever said as she shook her hand.
“We’ll you two kept missing I had to do something”
Dragon bit his tongue, Witch just smiled and they all went back down to the C.I.C. there waiting for them was Hawke.
“Good job people, but as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. That probe will be missed eventually, and we’re too hot to do a jump yet. Sheba, as much as I would love to keep you around, I’m afraid I don’t want to risk your being aboard should the Cylons catch up to us right now, so, your going to have to launch immediately. And while we are at full speed.”
Tricia’s eyes went a bit wide, doing a launch from the hanger deck at such speed was very risky, normally it would be done with the ship moving at a crawl. She knew they needed to put as much distance between them and the last position of the Grasshopper as fast as possible, to slow down then try to get back to full speed again would put the GOLIATH at risk, so she accepted the challenge.
“Yes Sir, well I must say it has been an interesting visit Sir.” then as she was about to turn and go, she remembered the disks she was to pass on. Pulling a set out of her flight suit, handed them to Hawke,
“These are for you Sir, I hope you find them useful” and with that she said her good byes and she and Higgins headed for the hanger deck. There waiting for her was her ’Older SIS’ Captain Ellen Sassinak. Head of the former stunt flying squadron the ‘Golden Arrows’ her long red hair pulled back into a pony tail that hung down her back. She stood at attention, then saluted Sheba. Tricia returned the salute. Then they hugged.
“you take care little sister, keep those tin heads off your six, got it?” Sassinak said as she let Sheba go.
“You too ’old woman’” was her reply, then they hugged once more. Then they moved to the ladder of the AVENGER. The tall giant crew chief was standing near by just uncoupling the external power taps when he spoke up,
“Your all fueled and the Cargo is secured in you’re A.P.C. bay Sir, have a safe trip home”
‘Jack’ said as she started to climb up.
“Cargo? What cargo?”
“A little gift. Compliments of the Commander” the Chief answered, then saluted and moved to the hatch as the yellow warning light and claxon sounded that meant the bay was about to be depressurized. All personnel cleared the deck and hatches slammed shut. Sheba and Rogue sealed their ship, and moved to the cockpit, powered up the AVENGER and prepped for a high speed exit.
The light went down, the red lights came up, indicating the bay had been spaced. The clam shell doors opened and the stars beckoned.
“Mag lock released. Core control transferred, were good to go Sheba”
Then Hawke’s voice came over the comm.
“Hawkeye to Sheba, please inform Renegade that we will have a cargo run waiting for him at point ’Polaris’ in 22 days, acknowledge”
“Roger that Hawkeye. I’ll inform him” and with that Sheba lifted off the deck and flipped up the switch covers that would enable the boosters. Activating them they were now tied into the thruster control, then made sure her position was optimal for a full speed burn. Hitting the throttle and pushing the control stick they sped from the rear of the hanger, shuddered violently as the wake of the GOLIATHS massive engines passed within meters of their hull, then banked away making them pull several Gee’s.
“Were away Hawkeye, see you again soon.” then Rogue locked in their jump coordinates and set the initiator, releasing its control to Sheba.
“Roger that. Stay safe” was the last they heard of the GOLIATH before they jumped.
Escape from Rejek
“Peregerine 5 has made its jump Sir” Captain Winger, the flight officer reported to Hawke and greenlee.
“Engine status?” Hawke inquired of his chief engineer, Alex Bishop.
“Were at full power Sir, energizers are at peak, but were going through fuel fast as well.”
“Very well, String, hull status?”
“Still warm, we picked up lot of radiation from Rejek. Our F.T.L is still working on getting a fix.”
This was not a good situation, at full burn they would continue to accellerate away from the nearly burned out star, but since they did not know the Grasshoppers schedule, or when it would be missed
They would not know when its disapearence would be investigated. All they could do was hope they would be able to jump before another probe, or Cylon ship was dispatched to search for it. Or at the very least, be well out of range. They would have to shut them down and save enough to power the main energizers for the jump back to Carillon. After that it would be nearly 70 hours of shuttle runs to move enough Tylium from the surface to refuel them again. That meant nearly three days of being almost immobile. Not something Hawke liked to endure.
Ensign Hally’s eyes were glued to the aft scanners, looking for any sign of Cylon persuit or sensor sweeps. So far, nothing was visible. Bishop had more to report.
“Sir, if we want to have enough fuel for the jump, we need to shut down in, 5 minutes.”
Hawke lips went tight,
“Roger that, helm, prepare to throttle back.”
“Yes Sir,” came the reply.
“Reduce speed to 1/8, take energizers 3 and 4 off line.”
“Helm is answering Sir, going to 1/8”
Lt. Bowem stood behind the helmsmen monitoring the progress as the great ship slowed. The 4 massive engine pods slowly reduced power and the strain on the ship was lessened.
“Energizers secured Sir, were back on the primaries only.” Bishop added.
“Very Well. Hull status now?” String looked again, double checking the stress factors, embrasure and radiation.
“Nominal, board is green we have a lock”
“Set condition 2, take us home String.” Hawke said with a smile. The claxon sounded and Greenlee picked up the handset, his anouncement echoed throughout the ship.
Shortly thereafter he pulled the initiator key from its cradle and set it in the switch. Turning it set the clock in motion. Just as the sensory disruption began Hally saw an energy spike on her long range scan over Rejek. Then the GOLIATH was gone.
The GOLIATH appeared back over Carillon. After the usual gut wrenching jump effects that always accompanied going through the Nova Madagon, the crew set the ship back in order. As far as Hawke was concerned, their mission had been a success. They now had made a successful rendevous with the PEGASUS’s Peregrine, and took possesion of a new Raptor. Once manned that would relieve the duties of their own Peregrine and its crew.
“Get us back in high orbit String” Hawke instructed his tall executive officer, calling him by his call sign. (short for Stringbean) “lets get fuel operations underway as soon as were in position”
“Yes sir, Flight, get the shuttle crews to their ships.”
“Roger that” Came Wingers reply.
“String you have the Con, call if you need me.” with that Hawke returned Greenlee’s salute and left C.I.C. in the hands of his exec.
As he walked through the ship that had become his home, and his responsibility he thought of the letter that he had included in the package taken back the the PEGASUS and Commander Cain.
“To: Commander Cain, Commander PEGASUS
From: Commander Hawke, Commander GOLIATH
Sir, it is with great regret that I inform you of the loss of the Guardsman cutter CHTMERA. This intel was not in the first dispatch due to our finding out about it ourselves just prior to Peregrine 1’s launch for their first meeting with Peregrine 5. I should also inform you that my former Commander Gerald Flinn who once served under you was killed during the evacuation of Tarturas. I apologize for not telling you this before. It was his story of your rescuing him at Karnak using your “Shell Game Gambit’ that inspired my strategy during the ITHACA extraction. I hope you don’t mind my borrowing it.
Because of this we have had other losses as well. Our Squadron strength aboard the GOLIATH now stands at 30 Vipers. One full squadron of 40 aboard Valhalla station, and 10 in reserve on our colony. As ‘Sheba’ has no doubt told you, I have scheduled a resupply meet at point ‘Polaris’ in 22 days. The tender WARLOCK with Colonel Lennox commanding will be the designated vessel. Unless you hear from us prior. In 20 days a probe will be sent to point ‘Nebula’ . we will send a confirm (bets to you) or abort (Full Colors) code at that time to let you know if the WARLOCK is ready to proceed.
No further humanoids have been detected here thus far, but we are not relenting in our safe guards or in our search for them. Included in the ‘code orange’ disk is a gift from our Psy-Ops section. They include a number of staged messages in codes that we believe the Cylons will break, eventually. they look like our current ones in a number of ways, but really have nothing to do with them. Once broken they will give the tin heads targets that are decoys that take place during our actual rendezvous. I recommend that they be transmitted ‘in the open’ in locations that they will be able to pick up, but not in locations included in our cipher pad and current charts (point locations) that we have personally exchanged. As will we in our responses.
Almost nothing will please me more than watching them chase their own tail for awhile. Eventually, they will figure out this has all been a ruse, but until then we can have some fun with them.
It is our intention to seek out possible smuggler posts within the Chespek sector. These small bands of pirates may be a possible resource of ships and material for us. I know they are outlaws and deserving of arrest and prosecution, but right now they are assets and humans. Ones I intend to exploit if they still exist and can be located. If their bases of operations are in tact I will pass along their locations for you to use as another Anchorage.
Matthew Hawke, Commanding.
Hawke locked the hatch on his quarters, opened his tunic and sat at his desk, setting the disks just delivered by Lt. Cain on it for now, soon he would have to review the data they contained and make more life and death decisions. This was what he had trained for all his life, to command. His successes at every exercise and war game had prepared him, but deep down, he never thought that such responsibility as that of protecting the last refuge of humanity would fall on his shoulders.
His shoulders and neck ached, the stress was beginning to take its toll. But he would endure, and persevere. He had to. No matter what the Cylons would not win this war. Right now it seemed that they were winning, with the loss of the CHYMERA andher crew the Colony was severly crippled. But they would adapt. He opened and put the first disk in, after reading the files he found a warning of Cylons posing as vessels in distress using our own ships. If only that had come sooner, but Lt. Golliday had confirmed that was exactly what had happened. No doubt, there were other such traps awaiting them as well. How were they to distinguish between the real ships, and the Cylon bait ones? He needed to find a way. He would not fall prey to those tin headed monstrosities. as he read and reviewed the additional disks, notes were taken and pans began to form a wicked smile even formed on his care worn face. No, soon he would stop this hiding in the shadows, he would take the fight right! to them. Make them fear the dark and the wrath of the giant known as GOLIATH!