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The Darkest Realm, Book One: Bread on the Table

By Kevin Hallesy

Word Count: 10,606
Date: 10/29/04
Series: Mini
Rating: K+
Category: AU
Pairing/Focus: O
Warnings:
Summary:
Spoilers/Disclaimers:


Six weeks had passed since the Goliath and the CISAR (Colonial Intra-stellar Search And Rescue) station Valhalla had made the incredible jump from Libron orbit, all the way to Carillon. It was an enormous undertaking to revive and repair the homestead city and mines that lay there under decades of dust and debris. Some planetary quakes had occurred during the human absence from this distant and secluded colony, damaging many of the underground metroplexes and a few of the surface domes. Priority had been given to the mines that would power the colony and the ships that would service it and the station, and their one chief protector, the Colonial Battlecruiser Goliath. Many of the civilians had been relocated off the station and the one remaining CISAR cutter, the Chymera. Valhalla, now at a more manageable population of about 150,000, and the colony at nearly 100,000. The Goliath was at full strength with the combined crews of the Goliath and some of the excess from the s! tation and cutter.

Chief Alexi Bishop and Sirus Hand had the Goliath well under way to complete operational condition, with the exception of the starboard mass driver. That lay in many parts as much of it had been cannibalized to complete the port one. Using the factory facilities of the colony they had fashioned a full compliment of ‘bullets’, armor coated projectiles twice the size of a Viper, that the mass driver would use. All other munitions were in pretty good shape, and all other guns were repaired.

The leaders of the colony, Commander Hawke commanding officer of the Goliath, Commander Landis of Valhalla, Captain Rath of the Chymera, and Governor Ramius of the Colony were meeting aboard the Goliath to discuss their status, and future plans for the support of their people. Several other of the Goliaths command staff were also present and at the table.

“All in all were not in too bad of shape”

Ramius was saying.

“despite the quake damage we have the main reactor back on line, the living spaces are well on the way to being usable again, and we have 10% of the agro domes repaired and ready for seed. “

When they arrived at the ‘Horizon’ Tylium mine they worked day and night, although here they really couldn’t tell which was which, even at noon the heavy U.V. sun would make the sky a perpetual twilight blue. Now they had much of what they needed, shelter, fuel, water, but they seriously lacked in the one main resource and weakness of humans, food.

“I’ll have our airponics section send down what they can from Valhalla, but it wont be much, most of our plant life that line the interior surface of the main section are engineered for oxygen recycling not consumption. What we do have for food is limited.”

Reported Commander Landis.

“we’ll take what ever we can get, the rations from the shuttles and craft that escaped to Valhalla are running low, even with what the Goliath and Chymera have sent down.”

“Captain Rath and I have been discussing this, and we believe its time we went and did some serious hunting”

Hawke was saying.

“Your not still considering going back to the Colonies are you?”

Landis asked.

“yes I am, Captain Masters has made weekly jumps back in the Peregrine and scouting the situation back there. Of course the Cylons are still searching for us, and for the Battlestar Galactica, but haven’t found either from what the comm traffic is telling us.”

“if the Goliath leaves to conduct raids, that will leave this colony defenseless. Valhalla is unarmed except for the ‘Wild Cards’, and there’s only twenty of her Squadron left. The others have been reassigned to fill out the “Golden Arrows” that wont be enough to protect us here.”

Commander Landis was saying for what seemed like the hundredth time to the others, he wasn’t happy about losing what little protection his station had, and had argued before that some of the secondary guns from the Goliath should be removed and installed on Valhalla. The others (especially Commander Hawke) were opposed to this. The argument up till now was that the nova was so heavily mined by both sides that the Cylons weren’t going to risk sending in a ship, and no probes had even made the jump in through the nebula that surrounded the Carillon system. So as far as they knew, they were safe from discovery.

“How do you think I feel walter, the Chymera has no guns or fighters. But I’m still willing to take her back if it will help bring supplies back here.”

Captain Rath spoke up knowing the situation called for extraordinary measures.

“Captain Masters , your report.”

Hawke motioned for Masters to go over his latest recon mission. He moved to the podium and used the pad to activate the data screens on the briefing room walls to show what they had seen on their last trip to the Cyrannus System. The former home to the twelve Colonies of Kobol.

“Most Major Cylon activity has died down. Only 12 Basestars remain, one for each of the habitable

Worlds. Some do jump in and make reports on distant sectors, that chatter has some strange code to it, seems they are having problems with some unknown force. Which just breaks my heart, “

The fairly tall and older veteran pilot continued seeing some surprise on his listeners faces. Rumors of perhaps another Colonial Combat vessel striking the Cylons were rampant due to these listening trips by the Peregrine. Now the civilians in attendance had some confirmation. Of the rumors anyway, not that there really was a Battlestar out there somewhere nearby giving the Cylons grief.

“the more heavily populated worlds were nuked badly, much of them are now totally covered in dust and debris, the ambient temp so low over most of the surfaces that I doubt even vegetation will last out the year.

Some of the less nuked Colonies like Sagitara are not as bad. It was primarily an agro world, so much of the fields and crops were left untouched, but may still be heavily contaminated by the radiation.”

that’s what many had feared, but it was the closest source of seed and food.

“as Hawke ordered, on our last mission we did a low fly by of the surface and scanned the Malikite valley.

Information given to us by refugees from that area reported that the sub surface silo’s were full before the attack. As of twenty hours ago our scan showed they still are”

Masters concluded as the visuals and scanner data flashed and filled the screens for all to see .

“So that’s what you have in mind, raiding those Silo’s”

Landis realized.

“exactly. We need seed, and that valley is secluded enough in the high ranges of the eastern continent that it should be fairly safe to do a landing there.”

Hawke moved back to the podium and let Dragon, Masters call sign, return to his seat.

Governor Ramius was not as confident. It grated on him that he was in over all charge of the colony that would support this last vestige of humanity, but had little say in what the ships protecting it would do. If not for the fact that Captain Masters had information from his short time with the Galactica that a duly appointed President of the Colonies existed, a Laura Roslin. The former secretary of education. He would have tried to assume that position himself. He had been the mayor of Caprica City and was on vacation aboard his cruiser during the attack. That in his eyes made him the senior civilian authority. It was enough to let him be appointed and ratified as Governor by the people here, but not good enough to be President.

‘if only that bitch had died’ he thought to himself yet again. ‘Then these military idiots would have to listen to me.’

“I want you to go over all data we have and come up with a battle plan for the retrieval of as much of that seed stock as possible from Sagitara. “

Hawke continued.

“I want your recommendations this same time tomorrow, dismissed.”

With that the officers in attendance left and went to regroup in another conference room.

Cylon Basestar designate 11001001 was in low orbit over Sagitara the humanoid Cylon model five, designate ‘Leo” was on the command deck, he had been assigned the task of locating and destroying the CIMAR guardsman station Valhalla. After six standard weeks of searching by his patrols nothing had been found. He had reviewed the scans of the salvaged records from the single Basestar that had survived, albeit cut in two from a nuclear warhead, the attack by the shuttle size attack craft. Its auxiliary systems and scanners had remained operational. Great effort was afforded the task of identifying this Colonial nuisance.

Finally they had discovered in the vendor records that a civilian contract had been underway to manufacture a superior scout and attack landing craft. Its designation, Peregrine. The specifications they found were incomplete, but those combined with the scan records from their encounters were putting together a very good picture of its capabilities. He would deal with this gnat in due time.

Valhalla’s disappearance itself was the true mystery, it was much too large to have made any jump on its own. He looked over the long range scan data again, the visual record showed the top of the station, two ’Medusa’ class cutters attached to the docking section. That was to be expected and a third .45 kilometers off its bow. Spikes of energy readings as the playback showed the first attempted assault by five of their raiders. Then an hour later even more spikes as the second wave was destroyed.

What bothered him was how Valhalla had made sure to keep its dorsal side to the attackers at all times. From even the distant Basestar that took these scans the ’line-of-site’ was obscured by the immense size of the station. Nothing of the ventral side could be seen or detected. ’what was under it during the attack?’

Leo thought to himself. All 23 other stations and the other 77 of the cutters were CONFIRMED destroyed.

There was only a .025 percent chance that it could have been the Battlestar Galactica. Intelligence put that ship well out of the system at that time. Three other Battlestars were awaiting confirmation of their destruction, as well as three heavy decommissioned cruisers. Probabilities were equally low it could be one of them that assisted in the stations jump. If not a Capital vessel, then it did not have sufficient power to escape the system. Yet it was nowhere to be found. One had computed a high probability that it may have gone ’between’ and didn’t come back out. A severe risk when jumping with incorrect jump point calculations and/or insufficient power. Leo, for some reason he could not explain did not agree. So he was assigned the job of proving or disproving it one way or the other. He continued to look at the monitors and out the view port of the command deck. Valhalla was out there, he was sure of it. He had spent so much time prior to the Assault as a Colonial W! arrior at Picon Headquarters in the Charade to know the humans were resourceful enough to find a way to escape. His artificial brain in its humanoid body fought within itself, the logic of his Cylon existence told him Valhalla was gone. Its humans with it. His ’instincts’ which no Cylon should have told him otherwise. He trusted these instincts. They had saved him and served him during his training into the Colonial fleet and even his instructor in Viper flight school commented on the natural instincts he seemed to have while flying. Two Centurions stood by awaiting orders, both linked via wireless to the massive mainframe of the Basestar. He looked at them and a feeling, yes that’s what it had to be, a feeling of pity for them being so locked into a sensation less frame. Then again he thought, they don’t suffer from these accursed feelings and instincts.

“Centurion, launch three squadrons to place themselves in geostationary positions at 90 degrees relative to ours to monitor each hemisphere.

“By your Command”

Was its reply. Leo knew humans needed food, this Colony still had fields of their needed grains and livestock that were undamaged. If they were going to bring the Valhalla back, or send what ever vessel assisted it, to look for food there was an 80% probability Sagitara would be attempted. He intended to be ready for them. Centurion reported to his Commander , Leo.

“Squadrons ready for launch”

It said.

“Proceed”

Then the Raiders, 20 to a squad detached from the Basestar and proceeded to place themselves in high orbit of the planet, the last at the opposite side from the Basestar. Patience, they would come, and he would be here, and destroy them when they did.

Captains Masters the Peregrine pilot, Sassinak of the Golden Arrows, Hart of the Wild Cards, and Rodo of the Marine garrison as well as Colonel Greenlee, the executive officer of the Goliath were still trying to figure out how they would land on Sagitara and pick up several tons of food seeds, without the Cylons knowing about it. Or at the least not getting blown out of the sky.

‘Stringbean’, Colonel Greenlee was shuffling the scan reports acquired by the Peregrine.

“they have quite a variety of seeds and seedlings, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of tons to get our crops started. If we can pull this off undetected,”

Several looks of ’yea right’ were on the captains faces,

“we can use the same method to go back for more later.”

“that’s a big ’IF’ Sir”

Masters said.

“we only made it in and out undetected because their forces have been so thinned, and the Basestar on

station was on the other side of the planet when we jumped in flew into the atmosphere then back up and out before it broke over the horizon, but that ’window’ was only 60 minutes”

He continued.

“that’s enough time for what we need to do Dragon.”

Syren, Captain ellen Sassinak , was looking over the table at the sheets of maps and charts.

“if your going to use every shuttle and drop ship to pull this off, your going to need fighter coverage while those shuttles are on the ground.”

The redheaded Viper pilot pointed out, she was wearing her class ‘C’ s uniform as were most of them. Only Captain Masters was still in his flight suit having returned just recently from the last recon mission. She tossed her long ponytail back again, as she pulled another chart closer.

“if we don’t do this soon Cancer will be so close to Sagitara that there wont be a window because both Basestars will have each in ‘actual’ scanner range of the other.”

“then there wont be a blindside to them at all”

Captain Rodo added.

“Syren, to take your ‘Arrows’ we would need either the Chymera or Goliath to carry them they cant jump that far. That opens us up to a whole higher level of detection.”

Said Greenlee.

“they wont have any cover down there otherwise Sir”

She answered. He knew she was right but putting their only heavy cruiser at risk was not a good idea.

“we could use the Chymera and jump back out by Tanis again, launch all ships from there, go in unpowered for as long as possible, power up as we approach Sagitara make our landing, load what we can during the window, then get the frak out of there, and head back to the Chymera.”

Masters concluded.

Greenlee stood up and made the decision.

“have all fuel shuttles and the gigs (standard shuttles) fitted with empty tanks, fit for grain, and pick ten pilots for the air coverage from the ‘Arrows’, we’ll use 20 marines and the ten from the APC of the Peregrine for ground assault if needed. All other ships will be loaded by a team from ‘jacks’ (Chief Hands) deck gang. That leaves two marine drop ships for additional cargo. Two for the marines and the gang. “

He looked at the time table of the Basestars orbital speed and projected the best possible time to make their landing after the report and prep time.

“I‘ll inform the Commander, prep your teams, dismissed”

They all saluted and moved out.

“Looks like we go grocery shopping”

Syrin said to them all as they walked down the corridor.

Best laid plans

Greenlee met with Hawke back on the CIC placing the plan on the plot table, and further specs on the tables visual displays and up on the DRADIS console.

“This will get us in, but getting back out could get hairy, I think were going to have to risk taking the Goliath in and make sure our convoy gets back out.”

Hawke gave his assessment.

“sure we should do that? If the Cylons see us we’ll really have some problems.”

“I don’t see how we can avoid it. Our one advantage will be surprise, and that they only have one Basestar in orbit. We’ll use one of the moons to keep out of sight as we arrive and only move in if needed. If not we’ll jump right back out again to a position as close to the worlds to act as decoy and keep the Cylons trying to catch up with us, and not following the seed convoy. “

“and if they do catch us Sir?”

“we go out with plenty of company”

Hawke answered grimly. Greenlee nodded and set things in motion. Orders were issued and the time table set. They would move out in 36 hours.

Mariko Sever (Witch) stood on the Surface of Carillon in the courtyard surrounding the new monument. The Monolith the colonists had set up upon their arrival at its center. The one name in gold shined even under the twilight sun. ’Lieutenant Mira Kitana’. she had been in command of the Griffin, one of the guardsman cutters at Valhalla, and had sacrificed her life and the life of the crew so that the station, and all aboard could escape. Few even really knew her, but now all felt like she had been their best friend. Sever looked at the shrine, thinking it could very well have been her that would have to make that ultimate sacrifice. In truth, she may yet have to.

Andrew Giles, (spook) came up behind Sever and saw her staring at the monument again.

“hey Sever”

She turned and saw Giles watching her.

“hey Giles, so, what did you find out?”

She asked her CSO about the reason they came ’dirt side’. Masters, their pilot, wanted to find out more about the status of the one remaining ‘living’ Cylon. The ‘ben’ copy that had collapsed on Valhalla before they jumped was still in coma. The others had terminated except for the ‘ben’ they knew on board. He had been transferred to the med lab and a reinforced cell. The Doctors had gathered and worked to find away to screen humans from the Cylon copies. The Chief Surgeon from Valhalla, Doctor Helena Russell was convinced there was away based on cellular analysis alone. What worried Masters was that he may have an ability to send a signal to the others, a slim chance so deep inside the Nova Madagon. Its hurricane like nebula would prevent the transmission of any kind of signal. What mattered was whether any of them had sent one prior to their leaving the home system.

“well as expected ‘ben’ wont say a word other than were all gonna die, we’ll find you, you know. The Doc is almost positive that these humanoid replicas aren’t sending any strong E.M. signals , or at least not till they terminate. “

“what’s that suppose to mean. “

Sever asked.

“Commander Landis had asked for a full E.M. scan record before we left. What they found was at the same time the two were killed in med lab, a set of strong encrypted signals were sent from within the station, but got immediately scrambled and distorted into static from the Hyperonic radiation. “

“yes I remember that.”

They were now walking back through the park and back into one of the minor domes that protected the prefab buildings that lined the plasteel streets of the colony. Small shops and domiciles on both sides of the wide walkway now with many citizens busying themselves as they went about living in this new combined community. People from every culture the Colonies had to offer all living together for their mutual benefit and survival. Sever looked around at them thinking yes it would be worth it if it meant that these people would continue to thrive, live and one day, retake the Colonies.

“similar signals but badly distorted were sent when the other two died in the brig. Neither was likely viable or what they were suppose to be but we had jumped by then and weren’t able to get through the interference either.”

“but can these transmitters be detected before they terminate?”

Sever asked herself more than Giles, she and Masters had hoped perhaps the sensors of Colonial ships could be adjusted to detect them before they picked up any more.

“so far, it doesn’t look like it. But the Doc is looking into it. “

“Frak, well , I guess we’ll just have to hope they find away. Lets get back up to the Goliath.”

She turned one last time and looked through the transparent plasteel of the dome that had sealed the hatch behind them after they entered giving the lieutenant a last salute and then turned back to walk to the sub-tunnel train that would take them to the space drome. As they boarded the train she thought about the problem and was convinced her father could find away. He was one of the chief researchers at the Xanadu ’special projects’ station of the Militech corporation. What she didn’t know was whether the station even existed any more, it was in orbit over a gas giant planet in the Anotian sector. She hoped to find away to convince Commander Hawke to send a ‘Rabbit’ probe to see if it, and her father were still intact.

Avenging Angels

Commander Hawke felt personally responsible for the safety of the Colony and knew taking the Goliath away on dangerous missions was inevitable. He also knew they had taken a good amount of Viper fuselages and parts from Tarturas. He had ordered Chief Hand to put a large portion of his deck crew to assemble as many ships in the six weeks that they could, Chief Hand had ‘volunteered’ most of the Viper pilots from both the Golden Arrows and Wild Cards to help. In that time they had exceeded his expectations. Three full wings, 30 Vipers were complete, armed and ready for launch. All they needed were pilots. Fortunately several had been aboard Valhalla for various reasons, some visiting family, others on official duties , others were forced to land on the Cutters when they were forced to escape, basically turn and run when other squadrons lost all power. Between the newly built and the escapees they had a full 80 vipers. What Hawke now knew and was looking forward to telling h! is new friend Commander walter Landis that the bays that once held a full four squadrons during the First War, now had two full Squadrons sitting in one fully restored bay. Complete with pilots.

Hawke smiled as he thought about what the reaction of his friend would be when he saw his new Squadron, the yet to be christened “Avenging Angels” would be when he saw them. He was shuttling over with Landis, he and the Valhalla exec had arranged a little ’introduction’ for him. Valhalla now rested at permanent geosynchcronis orbit over Horizon. And Goliath was in a much higher orbit. As they approached the station Hawke took his time. On cue, his scanner began beeping rather loud.

“We’ve got company”

Hawke said over to Landis next to him in the shuttles control seats. Landis looked at the panel and saw several contacts on fast approach. Hawke pulled up and sent the shuttle outward from the station and actually headed for the closing squadron.

“What are you doing?”

Landis shouted.

“hoping they’ll follow us until our wings can launch”

Hawke answered doing his best to keep from smiling and be as serious he could.

Landis reset the controls trying to adjust the comm system to jam the scans coming from the fast approaching wings. Just then Hawke quietly cut all power making it look like they had been hit by the Cylon disable signal, Landis looked at the panel dying and out the view port. He was sure they were about to get blown out of the sky when he took another look out the view port as the small objects got even closer, his mouth opened as the shape became even clearer . Then the ships flashed by them and their seemingly powerless shuttle. Vipers, 40 of them in V wing formation flew by and then around them, then back again, they slowed turned and faced the shuttle, all looking new, and ready for combat.

“Are those the Arrows?”

Landis asked his friend realizing this was some kind of prank, at his expense.

“No, there yours, a new squadron , the “Avenging Angels”.

He powered the shuttle back up. Then opened the comm to Valhalla CNC and the Goliaths CIC.

“Ladies and gentleman, Officers and crew, welcome. We are here to assign and station this new Squadron its permanent home, Valhalla.”

Landis was still in shock but now realized this part was no joke. There was a full 40 Mark II Vipers added to the inventory of defenders of their new home. Those along with the 40 of the Wild Cards made for two full Squadrons for the station. How Hawke had accomplished this he didn’t know, but was happy he had. He just smiled, reached out and shook the hand of his friend.

“Captain Mantis, you are the CAG and Commander of the Avenging Angels, you are now requested and required to transfer your flag to the Valhalla station. Do you acknowledge?”

“Yes sir I do, we happily transfer our flag, and request permission to dock”

“permission granted Avenging Angels.”

Commander Landis called through the comm. The Angels veered away and slipped into pairs and headed for the main bay of Valhalla, the shuttle followed directly behind. The Vipers passed into the main bay then moved to the operational bay and launch unit on the upper port spine. Once all 40 were inside the bay doors closed as the ship settled into position on their landing pads. The shuttle continued on to the civilian bay doors and into Commanders Landis’s bay. Once the walkway had locked and the hatch could be opened they headed for the new home of the ‘Angels’. pressure was normal and the pilots were helped out of their Vipers by the ground crew then got in formation to welcome the Commander. The 40 pilots of the Wild Cards in formation next to them. Captain Mantis at their front. He snapped a salute and Landis came to attention and returned it.”

“Stand at ease”

Commander Landis shouted. The pilots instantly complied.

“I thank you Hawke, I really do this is incredible, “

He shook his hand again and walked up to the Captain, then he shook his hand too.

“Welcome aboard Valhalla Captain”

“Thank you Sir.”

“where did all these ships and pilots come from?”

Landis asked his friend after looking the Vipers over again. He could swear he could smell fresh paint on them.

“when we left Tarturas, we liberated a number of ships and parts, we knew we would need spares. that’s the only bad news. Building these has put us close to having no spares at all now.”

Landis realized just what a sacrifice Hawke was making. A fleet survives on its ability to keep its ships maintained and fueled. Without the Colonies they had no ready source of spare parts. Now, they would have to keep these wings flying on what ever they could manufacture. Or retrieve.

“Dismissed ‘Angels’”

Landis shouted, then the pilots cheered and everyone made their way to the Officers club.

Captain Logan Masters lay on his bunk trying to get some rest before the mission, but as usual he couldn’t sleep. He lay there looking up at the bottom of Severs bunk thinking about the previous jumps back to the Colonies. The first had been the hardest. Not knowing the locations of any of the Cylon units. They had gone in as far out from the planets as possible, then a long burst of thrust, then cut power. They had sped into the system on momentum alone using only passive sensors and listening to the comm chatter. All power was virtually shut down, even life support was put at a minimum. They knew that a random patrol could jump in or pass by as they continued to scour the system for survivors. What they found was frightening. Most of the Colonies were so dark they doubted sunlight was getting through to the surface. Others not so bad. The Cylons were on the surfaces as well. Thousands of signals were detected from units and massive hunter-killers roaming the ruins. Heav! y construction was also detected on a number of moons. New listening posts and raider refueling stations at selected locations. Most seemed to be where the old CISAR guardsman stations were. Several where Valhalla used to be. That location also included a Basestar.

They took in all the intel they could. Mapping out the Cylons locations, recording their schedules of patrols if they could. Noting the arrival and departure of the Basestars as they entered and left the system. Intercepting the messages they sent to each other when giving reports to what seemed to be the Command Basestar in Caprica orbit. Those were of the most interest to Masters, several were heavily encoded. But their decryption computer did determine that the Cylons seemed to be searching for more than Valhalla or the Galactica. In the last few weeks they had lost a listening post, and some ships, and had a mine field that was breached. All by unknown parties. A lot of the Cylons resources were apparently being diverted to this unknown threat, and a multitude of ‘counter-measures’ as well. What those were, were so heavily encrypted they couldn’t decipher.

As the weeks went by each mission found fewer and fewer Basestars in the system. The listening posts were closer to completion and bases on the surfaces were detected. Apparently they felt the system was now secure. They still picked up chatter about the ‘unknown force’ but nothing definite. Their last mission Commander Hawke gave the briefing himself.

“We’ve laid off the tin heads long enough, they should be close to asleep in their confidence that were all dead now. “

Hawke told Masters and his crew in the Squadron briefing room.

“this next mission I want you to confirm some information we have from some of the Valhalla survivors. They’re agro owners from Sagitara. They had a large settlement in the high ranges but well within the Malikite valley. Do a low altitude flyby if you can, and scan that area for seeds and organics.”

Sounded simple , just enter the system full of Cylons, enter the atmosphere of an occupied planet, and run a full scan under full power and fly back out not letting any Cylons see them. Sure, easy. Do that everyday.

Yea right.

“proceed only if you have a high probability of success”

He did add at the end of the briefing. Knowing the concerns they had after hearing the mission. Masters had brought the Peregrine in at a ’right angle’ to the system, over 80 degrees above the plane of the ecliptic.

Once they had jumped in they confirmed that the Cylons were still following the same routine within the system. So far they were. That made it possible to avoid the patrols and the few ’Grasshopper’ probes that jumped, scanned then jumped again in patterns in and around the system. Those being the equivalent of the ‘Rabbits’ used by the Colonies that did the same thing. They timed their approach to Sagitara to coincide with the orbit of the Basestar so they would be on the far side away from it, and hopefully out of scanner range of the one in orbit over Cancer. Lieutenant Giles reported that scanners were clear and they did a full power burn to put them in the correct trajectory to enter the near side of Sagitara. They put the Peregrine into full stealth mode hoping the counter measures would keep them invisible while they made their pass. One pass was all Masters was going to risk. He made full use of the ground following scanners and guided the ship quickly and rather ! low over the terrain, much still green surprisingly. They even clipped a few tree tops. Much to the chagrin of Giles. He was still convinced Masters was insane when it came to flying.

“we’ve got everything we need Dragon, full scan and in the clear, no life forms in the area and no E.M. emissions. No sign of Cylon presence.”

Spook, Giles, said through the headset.

“Hold tight”

Dragon called back to his crew then punched the throttle and headed back up and out of the atmosphere. The gee forces were incredible, and Giles nearly passed out, why Dragon and Sever never seemed to he didn’t know. Masters did know. That was something that was he and Severs secret. Although generally banned by most the Colonies, as test pilots and in the research and development section, they had received some Cyber-Viral implants. these sped up their reflexes, adjusted their metabolisms, adjusted their senses to above the human maximum. Even enhanced their memory and intelligence. Such genetic modifications were banned due to the possible side effects and the potential for causing severe neural trauma or brain damage. Some even speculated that they might even be susceptible to Cylon interference. But as the War was long over, they had no way to prove or disprove those claims. Those possibilities were weighing more and more on Masters mind. If the Cylons detected such i! mplants, could they shut them down like they did the Fleet?

This more than anything is what kept him up before a mission. He guessed the answer was, never let the Cylons close enough to find out. To that end, he’d take the Cylons out of the sky as soon as possible.

“Attention all hands, jump prep underway. Set condition two throughout the ship. Repeat, set condition two throughout the ship”

Lieutenant Bowem’s voice echoed down the corridors of the Goliath. All hands made ready for the long jump back to the outermost edge of the Cyrannus system, she along with the Chymera were ready.

“Condition two is set Sir, all decks and divisions report ready”

Bowem said.

“Very well, check with Chief Bishop, make sure the special ordinance is ready”

Hawke replied standing at the plot table and looking over the readouts on the DRADIS console once more.

“Chief reports the Primaries are at your disposal Sir.”

Bowem answered.

“Inform the Chymera we are ready when they are. “

“Sending now Sir.”

Comm answered , Hawke and Greenlee his exec stood and waited for the Chymera reply.

The shuttles and Vipers that would make the attempt to recover the much needed seeds were aboard the Cutters landing bays. That many ships could be launched far faster from the twin pods it had rather than the one of the Goliath. Captain Masters was now strapped into the Peregrine cockpit and he and his crew made ready for the descent to the surface. Captain Rodo himself was leading the team in the APC berthed in the belly of his ship. The small armored car had its own mini guns and a pulse cannon turret that would make any encounter with Cylon ground units easier to deal with.

What amazed Masters was the presence of miss Serena Quinn. The self appointed head of the colonies media department. She had met, more like ambushed, Hawke upon his return to the Goliath, and harassed him into letting her go along on this mission.

“it will boost the moral of the whole colony Sir, I know it would, just to know that such great effort is being taken to feed them. Besides, I’m going to broadcast your departure anyway if you don’t. think how not knowing the outcome will effect them”

Hawke had to agree, better to let her come along and report the facts, rather than her broadcast a bunch of speculation and make the whole colony panic when they find out their only protection has left the system.

They made room for her in the co-driver seat in the APC, rather cramped quarters for a media agent of her stature, which she made sure to let everyone know as they packed in the rest of the marine squad and the Captain.

Masters looked out the cockpit, the bay lights went red, then the signal from the Chymera CIC,

“jumping in 10, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,, jump”

The two massive ships folded space and disappeared with gut wrenching force. They reappeared at their destination on the far side of the Tanis asteroid. It took several seconds for the ships to recover from the strain of jumping through the nebula like that. If not for the precise coordinates they may not have made it. Even so, it took even longer for the people aboard to recover. After they had, the Crews confirmed their location, and went dark. Shutting down all major systems with the exception of opening the landing bays.

“Core control transferred to all shuttles and Vipers, launch when ready”

The command came through and Masters pushed the throttle. The Peregrine in the lead from the port bay, the Vipers from the starboard. All launched and regrouped on the inward side of the oort cloud asteroid field. they formed a random pattern that they hoped would look like a small debris field coming in from the oort cloud. Once in position and moving at relative velocity to each other glided in without power in a vector that would take them near the Sagitara orbit.

“I sure hope they haven’t changed their pattern Dragon”

Witch, Sever, said.

“Me too”

He replied.

Their course and speed had been selected to pass them at the limits of the nearby Basestars scanners and between the patrols they had recorded on the previous recon missions. They both heard Spook in the back muttering more prayers to the Lords of Kobol. Spook, Giles call sign, was keeping an eye on the passive scanners and listening to the Cylons, all of the Colonial ships were maintaining wireless silence. Spread farthest out were the Vipers. Just barely within even Dragons enhanced vision he could see them ‘tumbling’ inward along with the rest of them.

“Report”

Hawke called out.

“Verifying Sir.”

Bowem answered.

“Verified we are above the Tanis Asteroid. Chymera at 2 klicks to port Sir.”

“Very well, String (Colonel Greenlee), set the next destination and make ready for jump.”

“Yes Sir”

The tall exec replied and handed Lt. Bowem a printout. The young lieutenant took and read it. Then smiled.

“Yes Sir, I’m on it”

Other than the occasional burst of thrusters to correct their course they made it to within near orbit of Sagitara. The Basestar on station was just passing the terminator over the horizon when Spook noticed some comm traffic. He recalibrated his receivers and tried to get a fix on the source.

“Felgercarb, they’ve changed their coverage. We’ve got a Cylon Squadron Directly over the equator in front of us. Another is just coming up over the horizon, I’d say they have all four ‘corners’ covered. “

Spook called forward and transferred the data to Dragons screen.

“Frak. Well that’s a real problem. When we power up they will definitely see us”

Dragon said, looking at the display and thinking fast. The other shuttles may not see them and if they power up first, his thought trailed off to the unpleasant conclusion.

“we’ll only have the two units to deal with, the Basestar will be out of range and the third squad is on the far side, they’ve spread out a few degrees too far to stay in line of sight. “

Dragon was saying,

“Spook open a comm to Syren, very low power”

“she’s responding”

Spook answered.

“Syren, we’ve got two Squadrons of raiders in orbit, one near the horizon, your team take that one, I’ll take the near one then drop the APC to the surface, we’re going to have to make this faster then we thought.”

The Golden Arrow leader Captain powered up her scanner and saw the targets, called to her team then hit the turbos.

“We’re on them Dragon, go shopping”

The Cylons detected low E.M. emission in close proximity. At first they read as possible naturally occurring, then they spiked as active targeting scanners bathed their hulls. Instantly they reacted and began a full sweep and picked up ten fighters heading for the Squadron at the ‘east’ station. Attack program procedure indicated that a rear attack was called for and they maneuvered to place themselves in tight formation directly behind the attacking Vipers.

Dragon saw the Cylons move in on the Vipers, he knew that he needed to make sure they didn’t see the squad of helpless shuttles before they powered up and revealed themselves. So he used the Arrows as bait, placed his ship behind the Cylons ’sneaking’ up on the Arrows. Then armed the scarabs , programmed them for F.A.F. (Fire and Forget) then hit the trigger.

The speed of pinging them, arming and programming , then launching would have made a Cylon proud, the Scarabs were well on the way to hitting their targets before the Cylons realized they were locked. Half of them began to evade but were too late. 40 explosions filled the sky over Sagitara. The Vipers were now engaging the last squadron. They were outnumbered 2-1, so Dragon hoped they would do well. The shuttles had powered up by now seeing the combat break out, and headed for the surface. Dragon put the Peregrine into a dive and followed.

“that used up all our Scarabs you know”

Witch spoke into the comm.

“Couldn’t be helped.”

He answered and felt the jolt of re-entry. Ahead were the landing crafts. And ahead of them the Malikite mountain range. And their food.

Air show from hell

Captain Sassinak, Syren, hit the switch that would signal her team to attack. As the premier aerobatic and stunt flyers of the Colonial Fleet they had been the best, using show tricks to entertain massive audiences on the surfaces and in the orbits of the Twelve Worlds. Now they would use those stunts to out fly the Cylons. She picked the best of her team each had been with her for years and knew every routine, every stunt to within meters of each other. She yelled out the first command.

“Break”

And they all ’fell’ like leaves at fall. spiraling out of control, to the Cylons it must have seemed like they were either out of control or retreating. The Raiders paired off and picked their targets and pursued them in their dives.

Just what Syren wanted.

“Rose petal!”

She shouted this time, and the whole team pulled up and headed straight for each other, spinning on their access bow towards an imagined spot at the top of the tree like shape they were forming. As they approached the top they kicked in the turbos and accelerated , the Cylons right behind them, trying to target the wildly erratic ships. Tracers of fire passing the Vipers, then the Vipers passed each other within mere feet their thrust trail causing a burst of intense fire as the exhaust hit each other. In show it makes for a colorful display looking very much like a flower. The pulse of energy blinded the Cylons for a second, long enough for them to collide into one another as they were locked on the single Viper in front of them. Leaving the others to their Raider companions. The fireball of 15 impacting Cylons filled the space where the flower once was. The Vipers had passed each other as performed hundreds of times, then completed the maneuver by all banking to port si! multaneously, like the wide petals of a flower, this resulted in turning back toward the surviving 5 Cylons, at which time they all opened fire. Now they had the Cylons outnumbered 2-1, and they made the most of it, sending a hail of fire into them and pairing up to flank each one, the cross fire was effective, they hit the surprised ships before they could get a good lock on jump coordinates or send a signal. Within seconds the sky was clear.

“form up”

Syren ordered and they resumed a spread formation but close enough to stay in visual, then headed toward the upper limit of the atmosphere where scanners would have a harder time of detecting them.

The ten shuttles along with their men landed at the Malikite Agro facility. The underground silos full of seed. The marines exited the one shuttle and moved to the warehouse like dome over the accesses to the silos and set charges to open the massive doors. The Peregrine deployed the landing legs and lowered the ramp at the center of the bottom hull to let the APC roll out as soon as the ramp touched down. The legs in extended position placed the cockpit well above the top of the APC as it sped forward. The turret swung up into the firing position on the roof and scanned the area. Chief hands crew were at the rear hatch that had folded down at the rear of one Marine Hanger all looked scared, wondering if the Cylons knew they were here. So did Dragon. He kept his hands on the fire controls. The missiles were gone, but the guns were full.

“Fire in the hole”

A marine yelled and backed away from the main doors on the closest warehouse, hit a switch on a small remote and a small shaped charge blew the locking mechanism apart. Two of the marines moved back to the door and tried to force it apart, then jack, Chief Hand , walked up, put his huge hands in the crack they had made and grunted. He pushed with all his might doing what the two marines couldn’t. The doors slowly parted and one of his crew ran inside.

“I found the controls, “

They heard from inside, then the doors whined shook and slowly opened under their own power.

“50 minutes people”

Captain Rodo from within the APC shouted over the P.A. jacks ground crew worked frantically to get the loaders and lifts up and running while the marines watched for Cylons.

Dragon and his crew kept up what jamming they could ‘masking’ their energy signatures, the echo was for use in space, not for on the surface of a planet. So he wasn’t sure how well it would work. Also Syren hadn’t called down with any warning so they thought they were in the clear. So far. The minutes ticked by agonizingly slow, but they made progress. The tanks were nearly full.

The storage tanks on the last shuttle were being stowed when Syren’s voice came over the Comm.

“Time to go fellas.”

“Load up, we are leaving!”

Was the quick response Rodo Shouted again over the loud speakers. The shuttles were buttoned up and the crew left the loaders running on the tarmac, all headed all full run for their shuttles. The APC rolled back into the belly of the Peregrine and was mag locked in place. The ramp closed.

“lifting!”

Dragon called to the APC and crew and hit the VTOL thrusters. Dust and grass rose in clouds as the group of shuttles pushed their engines for all they were worth. They formed up and headed spaceward. They had just broke atmosphere when above them just over the polar horizon, was the Basestar.

Commander Hawke looked over the chart and time tables again. Double checking what their passive scans were now telling them in comparison to the readouts from the Peregrines last trip. There was a nearly complete , but as yet inactive listening post in orbit of Cancer. The outpost was placed so it would cover the blindside of the planet as the Basestar would cover the other side. That would be their target.

“Ready Stringbean?”

Hawke asked his friend and exec.

“Whenever you are Hawkeyes. “

“lets go give them some”

Greenlee nodded and picked up the hand set.

“all hands prepare to jump, set condition one, repeat set condition one.”

The status board lit to green, all stations were manned and ready all guns manned and armed. Greenlee pushed the initiator key in and turned it, the Goliath flashed and vanished from Tanis orbit, then appeared above an outcropping of the asteroid that held the listening station.

“go dark, and set thrusters to positive pitch now”

Greenlee ordered. The ships ventral thrusters vented for a few seconds giving them momentum, then cut off. Their course seemed to be placing them in a heading out and away from the rock in orbit over Cancer. But gravity took hold and placed them in tight orbit around the outpost.

“keep our nose down helm”

Greenlee said over to the helmsman.

Hawke picked up his handset at the plot table,

“Energizers 3 and 4 ready Chief?”

“Ready Sir, your shot is in the breach.”

Bishop answered over the speakers. They moved in silent orbit until the crater housing the listening post was directly in front of them, the barrel of the mass driver with its armored projectile held in place by magnetic constriction ready to be grabbed by the next magnet in the barrel. And the next and the next, hundreds of tightly packed electromagnets perfectly aligned that would send the huge bullet out at speeds measured in fractions of light speed into the target. Most craters on the surfaces of moons are created by meteors or asteroids less than one one-hundretth the size of the crater they make. Such is the case of even a simple projectile like this when it hit’s a target. The Goliath looked forward at the station with its Cylon workers assembling it as it passed slowly over them, waiting for the station to be directly in line with the twin bow of their ship. Greenlee was watching the targeting monitor, then nodded to Hawke.

“Execute”

Hawke said, and the fire control officer and his second, turned the set of keys that would fire the massive weapon. The lights dimmed and all the power from the energizers charged the magnetic coils in sequence. The bullet, twice the size of a Viper seemed to vanish with no hope of following it with the naked eye, then an explosion as the station was impacted.

“Fire Primaries”

Hawke ordered. The twin set of quad guns that deploy from the sides of the forward hull were at full extension. The incredible cyclic rate of these mission variable weapons made them the Goliaths most formidable feature. Right now the munitions used were conventional. High explosive armor piercing rounds were sent from the 8 barrels and into the area where the station once rested. A phalanx of charges detonated in and around the structure. By this time secondary explosions from the mass driver impact were going off deep inside the asteroid. All the support ships and construction drones were instantly shredded from the intense weapons fire. No active scan had been used , just fire at what you see. Within the few seconds the Goliath had actually been over the base in its orbit, they had unleashed more than enough force to obliterate the entire base. Only after the base was gone did they power up the drive systems. Lt. Bowem checked his panel.

“Drive systems have recovered, Cylons did send out a message, and were ready to jump Sir.”

He said to the waiting exec.

“reset jump coordinates, stand by for jump”

Greenlee said into the handset and his voice echoed in the ship for all to hear.

“Execute jump”

Hawke ordered, Greenlee turned the key again and they vanished one more time.

Leo was deep within the Basestar going over the long range reports trying to determine if any of the recent breaches of their listening posts could be the work of Valhalla. The Cutters could not be responsible as they were unarmed. He still did not know how it could have jumped with only two cutters. The station was unarmed as well, but some smaller combat ships, like the Peregrine, may have been aboard while they had waited for the station to reach maximum capacity. What other ships had been aboard? Where there others of advanced design? He was requesting that the archives of Caprica be searched for such records when the Centurion on the command deck sent for him. He walked on to the deck,.

“Report”

“Listening post 11100011 has sent a message. Message is as follows:”

There was a large burst of static from the speakers then a Centurions voice.

“under attack by Colonial Forces. External defenses breached, scanners offline. Force of impact indicates massive detonation on surf------”

“message ends”

Leo looked at the monitor, that was in Cancer orbit! Colonial forces? How many? what kind?

“Set course and engage at maximum speed, get us out of Sagitara orbit. Prepare for jump as soon as we are out of the gravity well. “

“By your Command”

was the Centurions reply. He set the scanners at maximum and directed them toward Cancer. Sagitara was still in the way for a line of site scan. They rose slowly over the northern pole and finally Leo could scan outward and toward Cancer. The scan would take almost an hour at this distance for the return of the signal. They needed to jump. As the Basestar reached full thrust it passed unknowingly over several small craft. All of its and Leo’s attention focused on the distant attacked station.

“coordinates set, jump engines online.”

The Centurion reported.

“proceed”

The Basestar vanished.

Dragon saw the energy spike of the Basestar on the passives, and cut all power, he looked and saw the other ships follow his lead. They all coasted hoping playing dead would make the Cylons over look them. To all of their surprise, not only did they not see them, the Cylons accelerated, then disappeared in the flash of its jump engines. Witch spoke up.

“did I see what I think I saw?”

“saw what?”

Spook from the rear compartment asked not having seen the Basestar as they had through the cockpit.

“a Basestar just ran away from us”

“told you to check your breath witch”

Dragon said under his breath. Then powered up and sent the Peregrine outbound. The other shuttles and Vipers did the same, wanting to get out of there before the last Squadron of Raiders came around to their side of the planet. They all went to maximum burn then spread out in their dead debris pattern again then cut power and coasted back toward Tanis in what looked like a random pattern. Hours later they approached the oort cloud and powered up and passed through the real debris. Coming around the far side there was the Chymera right where they left it. Low level comm chatter soon followed as each ship requested and was given permission to land on the welcoming hanger bays. The Peregrine being the best armed among them waited until last just to be safe. Then it was their turn. He gave the nose a nudge down and sent the bird into the starboard bay. Once all aboard and secure to the deck. The Chymera sent word to hold tight, and sent themselves back to Carillon.

Leo looked out at the near shattered asteroid. He simply could not believe it. Here in the heart of the Occupation they had been attacked. And whoever did it had succeeded. More internal explosions shook the asteroid and it did split, several large shards slowly separated. The Cancer Basestar now next to his. He was in real time conference with the humanoid aboard.

“your scanners detected nothing?”

“negative, we were on the far side during the attack, satellites for telemetry relay were not yet in place. Our jump probes had just finished their patrol and had sent data indicating nothing out of the ordinary. “

“we are not likely to get much from the station itself, could nukes from the Peregrine have resulted in such damage?”

Leo asked his counterpart.

“unknown. Possible high yield warhead may have been able to damage the surface, but to this extent is doubtful.”

‘Frak,’ Leo thought. ’a massive strike like this has to be a capital ship.’ then he realized his mistake. Sagitara was nearly completely unguarded. DIVERSION.

“Centurion , jump back to Sagitara immediately!”

“By your command”

It answered and set the coordinates, then jumped. They returned to find a single Squadron remaining. The debris of the others still floating about.

“They’ve been here.”

Leo said, and the Centurion answered.

“Affirmative. 2 Squadrons destroyed. Surface units report primary storage units intact. Second and tertiary units also undisturbed. “

“then what did they risk coming here and attacking Cancer for?”

“insufficient data”

He would go over every meter of the surface until he found what they had taken from the planet. Then find them, and kill them.

Dragon and crew were happy to be back aboard the Goliath. The sight of the Goliath in orbit over Carillon when they returned was more than they had expected. The shuttles went dirt side to off load their cargo. Then eventually return as well. There would be a celebration on the Goliath tonight. Probably a few on the surface. They climbed down the ladder and stretched, so many hours sitting in the cockpit was beginning to take its tole. Jack caught up with them several hours later. Jack gave Masters the report that all the grain was stored and the farmers had begun to sow their crops. Then he handed Masters a report.

“You go through more Scarabs Sir than a body has a right to.”

Jack said.

“not good I know, but better them than our Vipers.”

Masters answered. Then looked at the report. It was an inventory of the munitions left to him and his ship.

“that I would have to agree with Sir, but, this is our last load of Scarabs. After this your dry, Sir”

“I knew we were low. Ok Chief, I’ll try to be more conservative in the future. Anything else?”

“well,”

his smiles left his face again.

“the nukes you have on your racks are the only ones that will fit the Peregrine. Your good for a trip or two on your intercepts, chaff and drones. Then they’re dry too.”

“Frak. I’ll mention it to the exec. Thanks Chief.”

That was not good he thought. They didn’t really have a way to manufacture such specialized munitions here at the Colony. They would have to find another source. Where he didn’t have a clue. Just one more thing that could be a serious challenge to the survival to the Colony. At least the seed problem was solved. For now. The cycle of planting and reseeding had begun. In that they had guaranteed one more source of food. And he had succeeded in avoiding exposing his impants to Cylon detection. For now, they would celebrate.

Commander Hawke and the crew of the Goliath appeared over Carillon with the incredible sensory effect they expected. Not as bad as when they jumped with Valhalla, but nearly. Most would say it was a close tie.

That was the one major ‘down side’ to hiding within the Nova Madagon. It was also the reason they were likely to stay hidden. After recovering they made sure they had in fact arrived within the eye of the storm and in the Carillon system. Ship and crew intact.

“status string”

Hawke asked his exec.

“all systems good Sir”

He said, but held his stomach. Lords how he hated that jump. Hawke just smiled at his tall exec. Even thought he felt much the same.

“plot, put us back in high orbit.”

“yes Sir” answered the officer.

Lieutanent Bowem was checking all stations as part of his post jump routine when the Commscan showed an energy spike. A ship was entering the system. He scanned the ship ready to go to condition one, but it turned out to be the Chymerea returning.

“Sir the Chymera is now 100 klicks off our bow and approaching.”

The CIC began cheering.

“get me a channel O.D.”

“yes Sir. Channel open.”

“Goliath to Chymera, welcome back. How was the shopping?”

Captain Rath answered.

“We have a full load Goliath. No injuries or casualties. And thank you for the Diversion from the shuttles.”

“tell them your welcome.”

Hawke replied. Then smiled and slapped the back of his exec. They had done it. Even he wasn’t sure they would but they had raided supplies right out from under the tinheads collective noses. And they knew it too. That was both a good thing and a bad. Good because they could probably do it again. As long as they continued to divert resources to look for the Battlestar Galactica. If they stopped doing that, then they would have little chance of succeeding again, but that would free the Galactica of pursuit. If they didn’t then it was the same. They would still have limited access. The Cylons would have to split resources in either case. The bad side was they knew someone other than the Galactica had attacked them within the system and they would no doubt hunt for them all the harder now. After the celebrations and they secured the guns and main systems they deployed the hanger pod and recovered their shuttles. Hawke let the next shift take charge and he and Greenlee retired! for the night. Hawke knew there were new and probably greater challenges ahead as they protected the Colony. He would deal with that later. Overall the Goliath and her crew performed very well. Yes he was very pleased with how well the attack and raid went, things were finally going their way. He stepped into his shower in his quarters and hit the on switch, nothing happened. He hit it again. Still nothing. Ok so not everything was working as well as planned. Finally he said

“Felgercarb”

Here he thought Chief Bishop had this thing fixed.

(to be continued )

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