Site Themes:  ColonialViperCylon
Skip to Contents

End of Days, Book One: The Last Sunrise

By Kevin Hallesy

Word Count: 24,518
Date: 10/29/04
Series: Mini
Rating: K+
Category: AU
Pairing/Focus: O
Warnings:
Summary:
Spoilers/Disclaimers:


Take off was no problem, this bird has been tested in almost every way it could, considering its only made orbit a few times, but today was to be special. Today the pilot Captain Masters and her co-pilot Lt Meriko Sever got to “blow stuff up” as some would put it. Giving the throttles a push forward and directing the VTOL vents down they began climbing up over the Militech vehicle launch facility, looking back the sky was very blue except near the terminator where some low clouds with the hint of scattered showers approaching later in the day could be seen. No one, especially these two veteran pilots, both former Officers In the Colonial Fleet, could ever dream that this would be the last sunrise they would ever see over their beautiful home colony of Caprica. One of the twelve worlds that served as home to the twelve known tribes of humankind. The Storms presented no problem as the Peregrine drop ship they were flying could handle even force five hurricane weather if nee! ded. and it was nowhere near the time of cycle for that.

They punched through the atmosphere and locked in on the Cimtar moon munitions range beacon. Accelerating quickly to break orbit and contact colonial fleet H.Q. at Picon control. All standard procedure,

"Peregrine 6199, you are cleared for a F.T.L. jump to Cimtar, be advised, there seem to be some strong E.M.'s in upper orbit today, not sure what’s causing them make sure you have a positive fix before you jump"

Picon control 's wireless stated, they then double checked all systems before strapping in tight, and making the ‘jump‘. the usual sensory distortions and headache of jumping or folding space to instantly move from point A to point B came over them as we appeared over the rock that passes as a moon, even more cratered from the bombardments it gets from the weapons testing of both Colonial units and those of the corporations like the Caprica based Militech, whose job it was for them to run a barrage of tests of this new design.

Now that its passed the design and prototype stage, and has a full six ships being tested in the field before going to the department of defense for final approval for full scale production.

"I have the range on the scanner Captain, recommend turning starboard 12 degrees by 30 neg pitch for a good lock"

Sever said as Captain Masters gave the nose a nudge .

"I’ve got it witch, target ships in sight"

He could almost feel the knifes from her eyes as he used her call sign, she hated it but she got stuck with it, only cause it was more polite than starting that word with another letter.

"weapons free, arm scarab warheads 1-20, keep the guns at stand-by"

He ordered running down our scheduled tests for today.

" weapons on-line, fire when ready Dragon"

Sever replied.

Dragon tracked in on the old hulks that served as missile targets, one was an outdated Battlestar, He hated firing on these, but its all that was available, the lock tone cane through His ear piece and He triggered the first salvo, four missiles in "follow me" mode, each following the trail of the preceding one, the first opening the hull, reactive armor would diminish its effect but the next three right on the same spot would penetrate even deeper than a single hit. if she had been a live ship, explosive decompression or secondary explosions would result. Assuming a cylon ship even had an inner atmosphere.

They flew across the spine of the hulk and did a 180 positive flip, relocked another salvo and fired again, this time opening up with the twin "wing" mini-guns, after the missiles were away, the guns took out an anti-craft emplacement as the missiles went into the hull of the outer pod,

This went on for about an hour, strafing and missile runs, then some evasion maneuvers, then another strafe, criss crossing the orbiting hulks punching holes in an already battered hull.

"Dragon, slow up, I’m getting some strange chatter on the colonial freq's"

Sever said over the comm.

"what kind of chatter?"

Dragon asked as he pulled the throttles back and moves the controls to hover just behind the port hanger pod of a heavy cruiser.

" I don't know, the Battlestar Chimera says its lost contact with two of its viper squadrons, and now cant maneuver, "

Sever sounded a lot more worried than he had heard her before.

"that cant be good"

He replied

"hold on"

Dragon told her as he pushed the throttles up and gave the retros a real test puling away from the hulk at several G's. pointed the Peregrine back to Caprica,

"Frak, what’s going on there’s no Nav beacon?"

Dragon said out loud looking at the panel

"something’s really wrong, now there’s no response from at least a dozen Battlestars to Picon inquiries,"

Sever reported.

"lets get back there dragon, now"

she said.

"I’m getting a fix, the F.T.L. is still working,, jump in 5, 4 3 2 1 ,, jump"

Dragon called out. then the they appeared over Caprica,, and their jaws hit the floor as they looked out the canopy, gigantic clouds of dust were rising all over the surface,, flashes over the horizon told them even more detonations were occurring,

Just then claxons began blaring in theirr ears, the combat panels were flashing, so they knew they were deep in the felgercarb now.

"we've got hostiles on our 6, a pair, looks like fighters,"

Sever shouted through the comm,

Oh great real combat and our payload is almost gone, Masters thought to Himself,

"they're tracking us, missiles are away"

Sever called again,

"pop chaff"

Dragon ordered as he looked at the scanner seeing the twin markers of missiles approaching, the ping sound of the deploying hot decoys registered in his ear as he sent the bird into a roll and pitched them toward the atmosphere, now, according to the book, the twin intercept mini-missile pods on the under carriages are full 360 rotatable, but aren’t normally used as ship to ship weapons, but hey, it was worth a shot, or six because he knew he’d never get this crate turned in time before the Cylons launched another salvo at their tail. Selecting the mini pods, Dragon twisted the control sending them in a 180, then getting the best lock on their noses he could, and fired a twin three missile burst , three for each incoming raider and hoped for the best, but pushing the throttle hard and spinning upward again to "jig" up and away just to be sure.

"what the frak are you doing???"

Sever yelled at him,

" just hang on and get a decoy ready" Dragon replied.

"those intercepts are heading right for them, wait, the first went by the left one, their trying evasive maneuvers, the second missed, wait,, YES, one down, the other is dropping low, the second on its path has missed, by the lords the third one got it."

She sighed as Dragon pulled up and tried to break orbit again,

"how’s our payload?"

He asked Sever,

" we have eight scarabs, that leaves us twenty intercepts, and we have about twenty four percent of our gun ammo, nine decoys and all four nukes."

She said as she read the inventory.

She had just given him the report when they crossed the terminator into the night side of Caprica, and there it was,, what just had to be a Cylon baseship, bigger and meaner looking than anything in the history books, with at least four squadrons of those winged raiders hovering around it like bee's around a hive.

they both cried out "FRAK" at the same time, it was then they noticed that it had a pair of Battlestars right behind it, but to their surprise neither was firing anything at it, they both looked dead, no lights, engines vipers launching, nothing,, our mouths open the basestars fired at them sending the largest barrage of missiles i had ever seen at them, nothing was fired to intercept, nothing, they were hit , and hit hard, one began burning almost instantly, the other tried to swing out of the way, but didn’t have the thrust, we almost couldn’t look,

By the Lords of Kobol Dragon thought, they cant do this,, his jaw clenched without realizing it and he opened the hard switches for the nuke release,

"Sever, get me a lock out of here,, its about to get real warm"

Dragon said into the comm. looking back over his left shoulder at the rear seat of the Peregrine cockpit she knew what he was going to do, and just nodded,

"we'll need more ammo, I’ve got a fix on Ragnar, Militech's contracted to keep an inventory there" she said in a quiet calm voice.

turning the [Armed] switch on, seeing the green lights on all four nukes come on, he hit thrusters sending them at max burn right for the Baseship, that’s when the Cylons must have spotted the Peregrine, their rad counter must have told them nukes were in the area, and they weren’t theirs, well too frakkin bad,. and too late.

"releasing,"

The four nukes shot from the fuselage and Dragon hit the jump engine initiator, just as the flash of the jump began, they saw the explosion of at least two of the nukes, destroyed by intercept fire before they could reach their targets, they could only suppose if either of the other two actually hit that thing or not. but with as close as they got, they were betting one got through anyway.

Sever must have diverted gun control from the backseat while they were getting the lock with the nukes, because they arrived over Ragnar with only ten percent of our ammo, and only five missiles, and three decoys,

"yep, we need a refill something awful"

Dragon said,

"we'll need fuel too, not sure if they keep some here or not, different contractor for that"

said Sever.

They orbited Ragnar for awhile getting in position to move down through the storm till they could dock with the station, they were just descending when their proximity alarm went off again,,

"we have incoming, not sure what yet, "

Sever was looking intently at the scanner monitor, and Dragon was getting their guns trained on the approaching ships friendly or not, when she finally got a clear reading.

"they're ours, looks like civilians, at least forty, maybe more coming out of jump."

She said with a smile.

"tell them were friendly before they get nervous"

Dragon told sever, and disengaged his lock on the lead ship.

After that it was just a matter of following the ragtag fleet down into the storm , and finding the last thing they had expected, a Battlestar docked to the station, identity scan showed it was the museum ship, Battlestar Galactica. “well frak me.” Dragon thought, “now that’s what i call a miracle.”

Ragnar Anchorage

Ship after ship appeared in the space above the Ragnar Anchorage. cruise ships, freighters, tankers, commercial intrastellers, passenger liners from various colonies all made their way down through the gas giant that kept the Anchorage hidden. Along with them came the sole remaining "Peregrine" colonial dropship with its pilot and crew, Capt. Masters, and co-pilot Lt. Sever. Both had just escaped from the carnage still taking place on the home worlds. Unfortunately they did not have the luxury of dwelling on that or much else other than not colliding with another ship.

"were being challenged" sever informed Capt. Masters.

"Attention approaching ships stand to and be identified, you are entering a military reserve, hold position or be destroyed"

came a voice over the comm.

"that has to be the Galactica"

said Dragon, Captain Masters call sign.

"it is, one of the lead ships is responding, it's identifying itself as Colonial 1, and asking for permission to dock"

Lt. Sever , or Witch, replied.

"they have clearance"

she continued,

"so what do we do now?"

"do what we came to do, re-arm and see what we can do to help, Galactica is docked at the hub and main access hatch, but our ship can use one of the shuttle hangers in the auxiliary rings, that’s where the munitions we'll need are anyway"

Dragon answered. He nosed their ship downward to the lower ring seeking the hanger bay hatch. guiding the ship easily between the huge wheels.

"got it, shuttle hatch 7, 100 meters and closing, sending militech access codes, it's responding" Sever reported as she worked the comm system.

Captain Masters guided the Peregrine into the bay and lowered the landing gear placing the ship easily on the lit pad, thrusters firing in short bursts till they had hard dock.

"mag-lock engaged and confirmed, bay doors closing and auto pressurization is working"

Sever continued her report. He unstrapped himself and moved out of the cockpit behind sever, passing her seat after doing the shutdown.

"I'll shut down the sensor station, Sir, "

Sever said as he moved passed and climbed down the ladder to the live-bay and to the ventral hatch.

"very well, join me soon as that’s done"

Masters ordered.

checking the external scan, making sure the bay was fully pressurized on the panel near the hatch, standing on the ladder.

"we've got air"

He said, then lifted the release and turned the handle to open the access. the hatch slid back and the ladder folded down to the deck.

Stepping down and out looked out from under the nose section of the raptor looking back making sure the hull was undamaged. good it looked ok, even the ramp for the A.P.C. (armored personnel carrier) was intact. jumping that close to the detonating nukes they left behind over Caprica as a going away present for the base stars orbiting there, well he wasn’t so sure they had gotten away clean. Sever climbed down after him,

"done Sir"

she said, looking around the dimly lit bay.

"look for the gennie, get us some lights I’ll see if I can find a loader"

Masters told her. the next couple of hours were spent putting the bay in order , locating the correct munitions, using a loader, large exo-skeleton for lifting and carrying large heavy objects , like missiles, bombs, fuel canisters. both of them were busy putting new missiles in the pods when an inner hanger door opened on the far side of the bay and several armed Colonial Marines entered, armed and ready for action.

"Halt!"

the lead marine cried out, both Dragon and Witch complied, well sort of,

"I’d be happy to do so, would you like that before or after i drop this scarab missile and blow us out into space?"

Dragon said .

"Sir please identify yourself"

the officer asked that walked up beside the marine.

"Captain Masters, Colonial Warrior on detached service to Militech Corp. lead pilot and C.O. of the Peregrine"

Dragon replied turning and placing the loader in hold mode.

"Sir I do not recognize that class of vessel , could you come out of that and please escort me to the Galactica?"

the young officer ordered the senior Captain Masters.

Captain Masters unbuckled and extricated himself from the loader, moving to the officer and marines, hands held out where they could see them,

"Sever, keep working and call when she's ready. I'll sort this out"

Masters instructed her seeing she was about to get out of the loader.

"yes Sir"

she answered, and waited till he had moved along with the marines, which they left two in the bay to keep track of Sever and the ship she noticed, and was sure Dragon did too.

"Sir I’m Lt Gaeta of the Galactica, remote sensors told us that this bay was functioning and I was ordered to investigate."

he said as they moved through the cavernous interior of the station until they came to the main bay where crew were hurriedly moving pallets of heavy munitions into the Battlestar. they continued on passed the shouts and sounds of the crew working and into the ship itself, going along passage after passage and up decks till they were in the C.I.C. marines still in tow.

facing them was an older officer, Colonel by the insignia, he was bent over the situation table going over some readouts until he saw them approach.

" good, now who are you and what are you doing on this station, and what unit are you from?"

He asked in a low gruff voice, standing at attention and saluting, according to protocol, waited till the Colonel finally answered the salute and Captain explained who he was and what he was doing there, reporting what they had seen at Caprica including firing their nukes as they left.

"Interesting story Captain, I'm Colonel Tigh, X.O. here, and we are getting this ship ready to return to the fight, now what unit did you say your attached to?"

Tigh inquired.

"technically Sir, none, the Peregrine is in prototype stage, so is still militech property, and my status is officially on detached service. making us civilian contractors"

Dragon answered but from the look on the Colonels face, that wasn’t the answer he hoped for. and did not like in the least.

"well we'll see about that when the Commander gets back, whets your ships status?"

He asked.

"fully operational, we'll be re-armed in less than an hour , but we still need fuel, and were short a crewman, our scanner C.M. (counter measure) tech.

we have a rear station nearly identical to the standard Raptor surveillance electronics package, but no one to run it, our scheduled testing didn’t require one"

Dragon informed the Galactica X.O.

"Lt, this ship of his will it fit in our bay?"

Colonel Tigh asked Lt Gaeta.

"in the pod yes Sir, but its too large to be lowered to the launch bay"

he replied. Just then another warrior in flight suit entered and came up to the Colonel,

"viper probe ready to launch Sir, Starbuck has been briefed on the mission."

The Captain informed the Exec.

"very well Captain, have her launch when ready we need to see whets our there before we leave the Anchorage"

The Exec said then dismissed the Captain

"I'll inform Commander Adama of your presence in the fleet, in the mean time continue your prep, then deploy out side in patrol near the fleet, I'll see what i can do about finding you a C.M. tech, and some fuel, as for your status, well that’s up to the Commander."

Col. Tigh dismissed the Captain after the interrogation and Dragon found his way back to the station and then back to the hanger bay. Sever was standing on the port landing leg, arms crossed glaring at the marines,,

"about time , Sir, "

She said as she walked over to meet him.

"were ready to fly, I was able to get what fuel tanks that were here loaded, we should have enough to get us out of here."

she continued.

" marines, I would advise returning to the Galactica,, now, "

Dragon shouted over to the marines,

"We are leaving"

with that they climbed back up the ladder and into the ship, looking back to see the marines closing the inner hanger door from the outside,

"fire it up,, lets not over stay our welcome"

Dragon said up to Witch as they climbed into the cockpit,,

"yes Sir, engines coming on-line, "

she replied. the bays atmosphere indicator went dark showing it was depressurized. going through the launch routine , releasing the mag lock and retracting the landing gear,

"were at 0 gee, pivoting around now, open hanger doors Sever"

He ordered, touching the thrusters to spin the ship on a 180 to face the doors. she sent the command and the doors slid open , space was before them,

"were good all systems active, "

Sever reported. The Peregrine moved out and he guided it upward toward the Galactica seeing still docked at the station but could hear comm of the viper moving out of the atmosphere . they took up station well away from the civilian ships if anything came down while Galactica was moored, they would do what they could.

placing the ship at station keeping, they stayed there, near the inner "storm wall" furthest out from the fleet. then the Mk II returned, the comm was clear, and the news grave, two basestars with full compliment of fighters, waited at the entrance , waited to destroy them all.

Tarturas Shipyard

Word was being passed from ship to ship that everyone was to be ready to leave at a moments notice, the Galactica had disengaged from the Anchorage and was moving up the storm to lead the fleet out.

“engines are hot, weapons free, navigation programmed with the coordinates that the Galactica sent.”

Sever went through the check list and Cpt. Masters listened, going through his own systems, rerouting much of the counter measure systems from the rear station that they could.

“put that jump point in memory sever, that’s not where were going,, not right away”

He told his co pilot.

“were not? And just where the frak are we going?

“look around sever, if this fleet is going to survive we’ll need more than a single Battlestar and I think I know where we can find more ships.”

He told her

“your not thinking of Tarturus are you?”

“that’s exactly what I’m thinking, militech has a shipyard there, last I heard most ships weren’t ready for launch, but there was one ship from the Old war that went in there not too long ago, a Cruiser, for decommissioning and to be scrapped. It should still be intact.”

Captain Masters sent the Peregrine up following the huge Battlestar as it placed itself between the waiting basestars and the fleet.

“Galactica says the fleet is to move up and begin jumping in sequence, I’m acknowledging”

Sever sent her message then began sending what jamming signals they could to keep the Cylons from detecting their presence.

Through the cockpit glass they could see the barrage begin. The Galactica sent out a phalanx of suppression fire, as the Cylons fighters tried to move in, but to no avail, the extensive fire forced them back.

As the Peregrine broke from the atmosphere and out of the interference of the Anchorage the F.T.L

System got their fix,

“incoming!”

sever cried out looking at the scan

“Got it”

Masters opened up with the nose mini-gun the weapon tracking with the helmet he wore, and pulling the trigger on the front seats control stick, the glow of the flechette rounds sped their way into the missiles Sever had seen.

“we’re clear for jump Dragon”

“set, 3,2,1, jumping”

He counted down then the flash and senses bashing effect of moving from one point to another instantly they both felt as they appeared on the far side of the Tarturus shipyard moon.

“go cold now”

He ordered, they then both shut down all active sensors and the engines, letting the gravity of the moon take hold and swing them around its equator.

“passives show nothing so far, no targets visible, no emissions, that’s not good we should be getting some from the station if its intact”

Sever kept her attention on the monitor and reported it to the Captain.

“I’ll nudge us toward the station,”

The maneuvering thrusters pushed the craft lower and to the relative orbit of the shipyard, when they came over to the light side of the moon they could see the station,, what was once a five mile wide domed over crater nearly a mile deep with a city beneath it was now an open shattered empty shell. If not for the exposure to the vacuum of space the city would surely be burning, most of the towers were broken and demolished, the dome almost from the base was gone, it was apparent that the yard had been hit and from what they could see, there were no survivors.

Sever immediately began crying

“my, my sister was stationed here, she was an electrician “

Dragon could only shake his head he knew Severs sister was posted here, that’s one of the reasons he had decided to come here.

“I’m sorry Sever,, lets check the yard”

Thrusters kicked in as he pushed the stick forward, placing the ship in an even lower orbit. He had been here before for the Peregrines tests, and additions that had been made as a result. He knew what the yard should look like, several deep craters had been made even deeper, thick hatches placed at the openings all interconnected by a series of tunnels and cored out warehouse “caves” honeycombing this whole hemisphere. Even though each dock could easily hold two Battlestar size ships end to end in any of the twelve bays, only one had been housed recently as construction has dropped off recently.

That one ship was the new dreadnaught class but at Masters last visit that was only about %50 complete and of no use, but he had also visited another bay with the one remaining Battlecruiser from the first Cylon war, the Goliath. That ship was scheduled for scrap, but as far as he knew that hadn’t begun as of yet, that was why he had brought them there,, in the hope that that old ship could be used to help save the last remaining group of humans.

“even if we find the Goliath Dragon what good will that do? The Cylons could destroy that just as easily as it did the rest of the fleet..”

Sever asked her headstrong C.O.

“I don’t think they can, on the way back through the Galactica to return to the hanger while you were finishing loading the Peregrine I ran into Lt. Gaeta again he told me that it was by means of a new navigation program developed by Dr. Baltar that the Cylons were able to send a virus to our ships and shut them down”

“Baltar, that’s why we weren’t affected, we still use militech software, his company was our major competitor and outbid us for the Colonial contract.”

Sever realized how lucky they were that their company developed its own systems and hadn’t yet refitted the Peregrine to Colonial specs. If they had they too would also be dead.

Guiding the ship along the normal approach to the yard and inverting them s they looked “up” at the surface of the heavily cratered surface they began to see the first of the huge hatches of the dock, blown out and burnt, twisted metal ripped in all directions and just visible as they passed directly overhead of the dreadnaughts berth,, the dreadnaught itself, the whole of the forward hull split open and burning.

Captain Masters jaw was set tight, this was not looking good, and hope began to falter until they continued in their orbit and passed over the mountain size ridge to the polar side of the yard, the last four of the bays hatches would be here, the original yard base section obsolete for new construction was still kept powered but was mainly just used to cut up and scrap the ships that Militech bought and recycled.

“by the lords of Kobol”

Sever cried out,

“look”

Masters did look and could barely believe his eyes, the hatches were in tact, and the navigation lights were on.

“try a low level scan, see if the shuttle bays are intact”

Dragon instructed Sever.

She adjusted the system to low power, hopefully enough to detect power and life signs but not enough to reveal their presence if the yard was now in the hands of cylons.

“it’s got power, but very low, life signs are positive. Cant tell how many though”

Severs face lit up thinking that perhaps her sister still lived.

“were going in, find us a shuttle bay”

“yes Sir”

She answered and sent the militech access code to request access, the home system responded and a hanger next to the main bay opened. Masters powered up the engines and sent the ship down nose first into the hanger, the round tube had a plasteel glass inner wall revealing to their starboard side the massive ship that was the Goliath, complete and intact, both took in a deep gasp as they saw her, then their panels light up and claxons rang,

“we’re being locked”

Sever yelled forward, the weapons of the Goliath were not only working, they were trained on them.

Despite the obvious threat Masters kept their guns off and set the ship down on the pad maneuvering

In a slow and deliberate manner to show they were not hostile, the landing pads grabbed their magnetic hold of the deck and the hanger doors closed behind them , then the hiss of air filling the compartment could finally be heard in the cockpit, as the pressure equalized and a squad of security troops came running in guns trained on their ship.

“another warm welcome I see”

Sever said as she unstrapped. The guards looked as surprised to see them climb out of the Peregrine as Masters and Sever did to see them. Then he saw who was leading the team.

“Dragon?? Is that you?”

the lead officer shouted. Masters answered him

“yes lance its us, could you please not shoot us now?”

He said pointing at the other men. He immediately waved his team to lower their rifles and walked up to Masters.

“by the lords of Kobol we thought everyone was dead. The Colonel was ready to move out and return to Picon to reestablish contact with H.Q. “

Lance Greenlee an old friend and Academy classmate told Masters as they walked across the hanger and into the corridor between the hanger and the main bay that housed the Goliath.

“that would not be a good idea lance, the colonies are gone. And the last of what ships that could are jumping out of the system, for good. “

Lance came to a quick halt and looked back, his face going pale.

“all of them ?”

He sounded incredulous , and almost shook, but more with rage than anything,.

“yes lance I’m afraid so, nuked, from pole to pole, and now their moving out to the moons and satellites and bottle colonies. We didn’t think there would be anything here either, especially after seeing the main part of the yard and the crater city”

“yes we were hit, but a squad of Virgons Battlestars moved in and drove off the Basestar that was attacking, we don’t know what happened after that, with the city gone the main comm array was destroyed.”

The walk through the shipyard was ended as they moved through the airlock, they entered the Goliath in the forward hull several decks below the C.I.C. yard workers were moving about putting parts and systems that looked like they were in the early stages of removing back in and reconnecting them.

“going somewhere?”

Dragon asked his friend

“yes Colonel Hawke was the ranking Colonial Officer on site when we were hit, he’s taken command and has ordered the Goliath made ready to return to normal operations”

“I’ll need to speak to him”

Masters said with urgency in his voice.

“that’s where were going”

Lance replied. Going up a lift and along more corridors they entered the Goliaths C.I.C. the control room for the massive ship, several Militech personnel were manning the stations and only three people were actually Colonial Officers, the tallest and oldest of which was Colonel Matthew Hawke, and he wasn’t that old, younger than Masters and one , Masters knew, had never even seen combat.

Col. Hawke looked as he saw the warrior escorted by the chief in charge of the yard Masters friend lance.

“Captain glad to see you and that ship of yours, a Peregrine isn’t it?” he reached out to shake Masters hand, which Dragon accepted.

“Yes Sir , we were doing munitions tests at Cimtar when the attack began, all other as far as I know are destroyed on Caprica, Sir I have other tech data that may be critical for this ships survival”

“indeed?” he answered.

Masters then told him of their escape to Ragnar , the fate of the colonies, the defeat of all Colonial forces and the escape of the few remaining ships along with the Battlestar Galactica under the command of Commander Adama.

“Sir if were to rendezvous with the fleet we need to launch as soon as possible before they jump again.”

Masters urged the Colonel as he looked around at the “crew”

“that Captain would be very difficult. After what you told me we are in serious trouble I was hoping to relay a signal from one of the “Golden Arrow” mark II vipers [ think blue angels ] that were rehearsing for an armistice day performance in orbit here. Their the ones that saw the cylons coming and sent word to the yard, a lot of people were able to evacuate before the actual attack,”

Sever had been escorted up and was entering the C.I.C. when the Colonel relayed this information.

“then kumi could still be alive.”

She smiled with renewed hope moving next to masters coming to attention and saluting the Colonel.

He returned the salute and gathered that she had family here.

“yes Lt. Several of the ships in the yard were able to escape, most of the Warriors I had here were placed in charge and they jumped out as the last of the squadron of Battlestars were destroyed to cover them.”

His eyes went dark thinking of this and how many warriors had died as the result of protecting the few that could get away.

“many civilians weren’t as lucky, when the dome blew, well it wasn’t pretty.”

“yes Sir I understand”

Sever replied then stepped back to let her C.O. continue. When Masters told the Colonel of the weakness of the newly integrated navigation program and how it was used to send a virus to the fleet he went red in the face. The Colonel then told them of how the only ship left in the yard was the Goliath and the 40 ship squadron of the Golden Arrow stunt wing. Used mostly for “air” shows and demonstrations of old flying techniques against the newer and until now better mark VII vipers.

“we do have several hulks and components for vipers that I’m having loaded in the hanger pod, with the engineers we have we may be able to construct, thirty, maybe even forty fully operational vipers, along with a handful of shuttles , but no raptors , that’s why I’m happy to see you, I know your Peregrine has a Raptor sensor package, you’ll be our forward eyes. “

Masters and Sever looked at each other, not sure if they wanted to stay aboard a ship full of civilians trying to be a military crew, but what choice did they have?

“yes Sir, when will we be ready to leave?”

“The yard crew says six hours, if we have the time, in any major invasion first step is infiltrate and catalog potential targets, second, destroy military defenses , third, eliminate major population centers, forth send in mass troops to mop up. I’d say the cylons have managed the first three fairly well.”

“how many people are here?”

The Colonel looked around,,

“not enough, if your worried we’ll have to leave people behind, we wont those that weren’t killed or evacuated only left about 1,500. This ship needs almost 2000 to fully man it, we’ll be using skeleton crew protocol , at least until we get to the Galactica.”

“yes Sir”

Masters was dismissed and saluted. They then returned to the hanger and moved the Peregrine into the single ventral hanger pod crammed in with the various parts and full vipers berthed there, including the only fully operational strike wing aboard, the Golden Arrows. These few warships along with one antiquated Battlecruiser, Goliath, would be one more home of humanity escaping from extinction hoping to reunite with the other survivors.

Along with the civilian workers and technicians working frantically to make the Goliath space worthy was a tall dark haired welder that seemed to keep to himself, ruggedly handsome and usually with a smirk on his face used a loader to move heavy equipment into the cargo hold . He knew that this ship like all the others was doomed and as soon as any opportunity presented itself the subconscious orders that motivated his every move would come into play and he would reveal the existence to the others, and they would deal this renegade ship its lethal blow.

The Goliath

With the Peregrine now berthed in the hanger pod Captain Masters and his co-pilot were now presented with helping in the task of trying to organize the chaos that was the final evacuation of the Tarturus shipyard. Men in loaders and lifts were moving stockpiles of foodstuffs fuel and munitions into the hanger then up lifts to the cargo holds. Every available space was being filled for what would be more than likely a permanent journey into exile. One man that Masters saw looked like he knew what he was doing, not only was he driving a loader but was calling out orders to the others to keep things moving.

Masters walked across the bay and waved at him to stop for a minute.

“you there, you in charge down here?”

The man sort of shrugged and called back.

“not exactly , well not that anyone has said, I just want to get the frak out of here”

He looked around indicating the station.

“I know what you mean, I’m Captain Masters, Colonial Fleet retired, militech pilot of that thing over there”

He said pointing to the bow of the hanger pod, indicating the Peregrine.

“yea I saw you land, nice ship, I’m ben”

He reached out of the frame of the exo-skeletal loader and shook his hand a big smile on his face.

“well ben as of now you’re my cargo officer, keep things moving as best you can, the Colonel says we have about four hours to be ready to launch, so get what you can, food, fuel, munitions, tools and parts, everything else leave behind.”

He gave a half hearted salute and leaned back into the loader starting it back up.

“yes Sir , Sir”

Masters gave him a look and shook off a weird feeling, like perhaps maybe that wasn’t such a good idea, but moved to a lift and went up deeper into the ship. As he was moving through the corridors the comm sounded.

“All senior colonial officers please report to main briefing room, All senior colonial officers please report to main briefing room”

Passing several civilian workers who were still trying to put the ship back in order from the preliminary stages of salvaging the ship he worked his way to the command deck and found the briefing room.

The Colonel was there as well as his old friend Greenlee. He took a seat as Lance waved him in, then they waited a short time until all the available officers, just about two dozen were seated.

“first I would like to say what a great job you are all doing under the gravest of circumstances“

Colonel Hawke began as he addressed the officers

“its been rather chaotic so I’ll sum up the situation for those of you that have just arrived.

One, were almost ready for launch, Chief Bishop reports the engines are warmed up and the F.T.L. computer banks are back on line, two, our strike wing now under the command of Captain Sassinak , which is our new CAG has her ships aboard and on the launch deck.”

Just then the tall redheaded Golden Arrow Captain stood,

“about that Sir, as you know this Cruiser wasn’t designed for multiple strike wings, so we only have enough launch tubes to hold one wing, the other wing is on the lower flight deck.”

The look on her face said she didn’t like this, but there was nothing that could be done about it either.

“Thank you CAG, “

She returned to her seat as the Colonel continued.

“three we now have a forward search platform thanks to the timely arrival of Captain Masters and his Peregrine class scout ship. Lt. Bowem reports that were almost fully loaded with what can be salvaged from the yard, what some of you may not know is that out deadline is , well , non negotiable, in the attack the cooling system to the fusion reactor was badly damaged, and its gone critical, last estimate placed the over load at three hours twenty minutes, we will launch in three hours, ready or not. As for our crew and personnel dilemma , under the emergency powers regs, as senior officer , I assume the post of Commander, and I am appointing Greenlee as my X.O.”

A quiet hush passed through the room as he continued

“I know this is unusual, but Greenlee is retired fleet, and he was a Colonel at that time, just because he had the misfortune to retire does not make him any less qualified. Now I have directed him as well as the other officers to appoint whom they feel will serve best as officers aboard the Goliath during this emergency, and as a result we will consider them as Fleet as the rest of us. In effect granting “field promotions” to those we need in those posts. Most I am sure saw this coming and it was discussed briefly before the initial evac, now we need to implement it. Get your people organized and assigned as soon as possible, We’ll sort it all out better one were out of the combat zone.”

With that he had the new X.O. hand out printed orders to the section Chiefs and dismissed them.

Captain Masters hung around after most had left to talk to Lance.

“He seems more capable than he looks”

he said quietly referring to the new Commander.

“He is, I trained many a Commander back in my day, he is what you might call a natural, top of his class at the Academy too, so Captain,” he leaned on the word, “I would suggest you treat him accordingly, seeing as how your Commission in the Fleet has been reactivated as of now, as has everyone who has ever served, and several given to some that haven’t . “

Masters came to attention and saluted his friend, a bit of a grin on his face. He knew that when lance retired it was due to a wound received in a training accident and was not his idea, now to be back as an X.O. was a personal dream come true for him. He wouldn’t ruin that for his friend. Colonel Greenlee returned the salute and picked up his files,.

“until we get space bound I want you to go through the personnel roster, we did have a contingent of marines based at a garrison here some I think are aboard, go through them and get a squad together to man you’re A.P.C. get them familiar with it, we may actually need it someday”

“Yes Sir.”

With that he picked up his printouts and left the room, Colonel Greenlee preceded to the C.I.C. and Masters was just going to see about some quarters when the whole of the ship shook, no, the whole of the moon.

“Frak”

Sever had just finished making sure the Peregrine was secured and shut down after her visit up to the C.I.C. climbing out of the nose section ladder to the deck looking at the hulks and piles of crated components filling the sides of the hanger landing deck, she was thinking to herself how the frak were they going to get this bird in and out of here with all this in the way? She had to figure something out, she worked her way out of the bay and found a lift, retuning to the command deck and finding an unused officer berth, opened a terminal and tried to log in, at first the system refused her, until she used her Militech access codes, most Fleet ships still had some Corporate admin codes available, and she knew a few of them. Once in she called up the specs of a complete Battlecruiser, right now, the Goliath was far from complete.

Goliath was about the length of a Battlestar, but with a split fore section to house two large mass driver cannons which ran through the keel section of the ship, powerful weapon but a huge energy eater. Not used very often as it could only shoot in one direction, where the ship was pointed. very fast as its lower sub-light engines were as massive as the upper ones, built for speed and power not as a fighter platform like its larger cousin the Battlestar. Two extendable quad flechette cannons from either side of the main forward hull was its real threat to enemy ships. Fast cyclic rate and explosive warheads were her deadliest feature. It held the usual compliment of anti ship suppression guns and counter measure systems found on most Fleet ships, its one major difference was the lack of fighter protection, a single hanger pod that was extended and retracted form the ventral center of the ship, a “belly” pod that had a limited number of launch tubes, made mainly for the l! aunch and recovery of shuttles, not fighters. She called up the deck plans for these sections hoping to find a better way she could propose to the C.O. to organize the shuttles , ships and fighters they had aboard so they wouldn’t get in each others way , that’s when the room shook.

The newly appointed Commander of the Goliath had returned to the C.I.C. and was overseeing the preparations for launch when the deck shook.

“lieutenant , what was that?”

“just a moment Sir”

Lt. Bowem was bent over a display trying to connect the Goliath to what remained of the yards externals sensors , his jaw dropped then clamped shut before turning to face his C.O.

“it’s incoming Sir, the Cylons are back and bombarding the surface, from the force I’d say they were hitting the outer areas of the dome city, and the hangers again, I estimate, twenty minutes before they pass over this side of the polar ridge and see the bay hatches”

Everyone in the C.I.C. knew they were out of time. Commander Hawke didn’t waste any of it.

“cease loading operations, get that pod closed and retracted now! Helm prepare for launch maneuvers.

Specialist get me a plot to the Promar sector. And spin up the F.T.L. drives.”

As he issued his order the new crew complied immediately and made the ship ready, the only hesitation came from the loaders that walked as fast as possible carrying their last loads as they crossed into the bay, almost as the motors winded up to lift it into the hull of the ship. The ground crews that were packing pallets and crates dropped what they were doing and ran for the airlocks. Yellow warning lights that they whole of the bay was about to be depressurized flashed, and claxons sounded.

The ground shook again,, more explosions rocked the bay and the moon.

“Bowem, space and open bays 3 and 4, and shut down all external navigation lights and beacons now.”

Colonel Hawke ordered.

“yes Sir”

The lieutenant replied and vented the far bays, then shut down all external signs of life .

“if were lucky when the cylons see those empty they’ll think the moon is already deserted”

Hawke said more to himself,, but the Lt. Understood

“that’s a long shot Sir”

Greenlee said as he came into the C.I.C. hearing the last exchange of orders.

“status O.D.? (officer of the Deck)

Greenlee asked the young Lt.

“pod secure , engines hot, F.T.L. standing by, ready for launch, locks are secured and we are buttoned up”

He replied.

“weapons?”

Greenlee continued looking at Bowem.

“Sir? Minimal Sir, fifty percent of our guns were in strip down for disarming , and the rest aren’t manned yet, no experienced gunners mates on board. We have some suppression guns on auto fire systems, that are separate from the network so they should be safe”

Lt. Bowem had hope to have that last three hours to get more of the guns on a remote system before they launched, and certainly before they went into combat, Cylons it seems had other plans.

“Get someone on it Lieutenant”

Hawke ordered.

“Operations, clear moorings disengage from the yard and open the bay”

“yes Sir”

Came an answer form the helm station.

Commander Hawke moved to the Helm station and said in a calm voice to them

“I want a straight line out of here, at full thrust, just push the engines as hard as you can we need to make room between us and this rock fast, got it?”

Both the helmsman nodded,,

“yes Sir, we can do that”

One of them responded. Lt. Bowem called to the X.O.

“Sir External scan just went dark, but it looked like a single Basestar was clearing the ridge”

Greenlee picked up the hand phone and addressed the ship,

“All hands Prepare for launch , set condition one throughout the ship, stand by for jump”

“Helm. Full thrust Execute!”

Hawke yelled, then the ship began to shake as the thrusters powered up, moving the hulk upward toward the open bay and space.

“I want passives only as long as possible I don’t want to show them too much too fast “

The commander continued. The ship rose and cleared the bay, but despite their precautions their energy signature was obvious and the Basestar became aware of them , as they were reversing course to make another run at the city dome and main ship yard bays missiles flying toward the moon surface the Cylon behemoth tried to halt its momentum yet again to turn to strike this unknown ship.

“faster helm, faster”

Hawke almost pushed at the display table as if he could push the ship to climb at a greater rate.

Even as Greenlee looked around he noticed that most were leaning forward subconsciously willing the Goliath to pick up speed.

“we’ve got incoming fire”

Bowem yelled out as the auto suppressors sent a hail of high explosive rounds to intercept,

“thirty percent of the guns are working, were getting most of it, apparently were not in close enough for them to fire accurately yet”

Greenlee monitored the Cylon attack form the DRADIS console seeing the incoming missiles on scan. He had shifted to active as soon as the incoming fire had been detected.

“we’re taking hits on our starboard engine pods, power down to 60%, compensating, “

He continued. The ship surged and shook as the fire barrage slammed parts of the outer hull.

“can we jump yet?”

Hawke asked his plot specialist.

“getting the fix now Sir, “

“Cylons are closing”

Greenlee called out. The Basestar had reversed course violently and was heading right for them.

One of the techs near the helm noticed a screen go red and shouted

“Radiological alarm Sir, they’ve activated Nukes”

“Plot?”

Hawke called frantically

“jump point locked Sir”

The specialist replied

“JUMP”

Hawke ordered , the helm techs turned the initiator key and the instant it locked the ship folded space and disappeared from over the Tarturus moon, disappointing a pair of Cylon nuclear missiles that had just been dispensed to destroy the Cruiser it had picked up on its sensors.

“I hope they stick around there for awhile”

Greenlee mused after his head reattached itself after the effect of the jump,, always feels like the frakkin thing falls off when a ship jumps.

“whys that X.O.?”

Hawke asked him.

“when that reactor goes, maybe we’ll get lucky and it will take them with it”

He smiled thinking that most of the moon would be gone and probably turned into an asteroid belt above Tauron after the explosion, so there was a good chance that if that Basestar stayed there looking for other ships or survivors, it would destroy it too.

“lets see where we are , plot”

Hawke let that pass not willing to go back and see for himself, and more interested in reuniting with the rest of the fleet.

“Working Sir, we are at the coordinates that Captain Masters gave us,, but, “

“Yes?”

Hawke looked anxious

Lt. Bowem double checked the calculations and the sensor readings, then reported to his C.O. standing straight at attention, he said.

“there’s no sign of the Fleet Sir. Either we’re not exactly where we are suppose to be, or they have already made their next jump”

Night without End

No one spoke after the announcement that they had come out of jump and there was no sign of the Galactica or the fleet. This did not deter the young Commander of the Goliath, if anything it only made him more resolved to find it. If there was one thing Matthew Hawke hated, was to fail. He leaned on the situation table and looked around at the disappointed face and knew he had to turn this around or things would only get worse.

“Lets work the problem people. Plot, I want a full diagnostic of the F.T.L. system and its computers, systems I want Commscan now, Flight, lets get alpha wing of the Golden Arrows launched and begin a search for any sign of the fleet.”

The crew on CIC began complying with their newly appointed Commander and set aside any worries about their situation, focusing on the job at hand. The Executive Officer (X.O.) was gathering reports from the division heads and returned to the main situation table Hawke was leaning over. A handful of printouts in his fist, the tall lanky X.O. shuffled through them then looked up at the waiting Commander.

“ we’re in pretty good shape Sir, minor battle damage only, the port upper engine pod received some damage but its nothing Chief Bishop says he cant handle, even with our having to leave sooner than planned we have sufficient supplies for eight months, maybe longer if we ration it with this skeleton crew, the ship yard was contracted to make all ships battle ready at launch so we had access to everything we need, the hard part was getting it from the construction side over to the scrap yard where the Goliath was docked. Even so, we got quite a bit. “

Colonel Greenlee continued as he passed the reports over to his C.O. glancing at them Hawke set then in a stack and made some notes, formulating a plan.

The lights on the hanger deck flickered, a result of straining the energizers unused to even normal use again and powering the F.T.L. drive, the means by which all Colonial ships moved instantaneously from one point to another. They had just reappeared in the Promar sector and as the crew including Captain ellen sassinak (Syrin) the Commanding officer of the Golden Arrows mark II Viper exhibition wing. After the initial queasiness passed, the usual result of experiencing a jump, she returned to her efforts to refitting her Viper.

Even though it was one of the older models that so far (according to the report brought by Captain Masters) had been unaffected by the computer disruption transmissions of the Cylons, she wasn’t taking any chances. She had dumped all upgraded enhanced navigation programs, retrofitted the computers with militech software, and was now arming her ship. As an exhibition wing they had been disarmed, doing only Arial shows no ammo or combat targeting computer were necessary. That had definitely changed, as they were now the only squadron on board the Goliath and worse yet, of their forty ships could only launch a single wing of ten at a time, five from either side of the hanger pod.

Her long red hair a tangled mess smeared in lubricant as she reached for another tool to tighten down the munitions cell she was installing in the fuselage .

“how we doing Travis?”

She called over to her wingman, David (Trooper) Travis. Who like her was laying on the deck installing the “borrowed” pieces of a Mark VII Viper and putting them into his ship.

“Not bad Sir, almost done, ouch!,”

She heard him mumble something about putting square pegs in round holes, then another colorful expletive as he smacked his fingers again. With these two done they would have half the squadron finished. They with the rest of her pilots had already refitted the ten ships in the launch tubes. By tomorrow, they should have all forty, Lords of Kobol willing, and the Cylons don’t find us, she thought to herself. She would have to let her team get some grub and sleep soon too. Ursa, her second squad wingman had claimed some of the pilots quarters and had one wing working on making them livable.

“Attention ready wing proceed to your ships for immediate launch, repeat ready wing proceed to your ships for launch immediately”

The P.A. and claxon sounded. Condition one had not been set so Sassinak knew it wasn’t an attack.

Within seconds alpha wing ran into the launch bay and moved with their crews to their ships.

She climbed out from under her ship and over to Lt. Bronsons ship.

“Beamer, I want you to run a check on your attack and F.O.F. (friend Or Foe) systems and your targeting computer while your out there read me?”

She shouted as the Vipers engines whined and warmed up. He nodded and gave a “thumbs up” and readied his ship for launch. The crew moved it into the tube , the heat and pressure of the airlocks cycling buffeting her and the crew as the sleek machine moved into ready position. There was nothing like it she thought. The feel as your Viper sped into limitless space. Free to move in all three dimensions at unbelievable speeds that an atmosphere bound craft could never do. Gee forces were the only limiting factor. But still, it was what she lived for. And had excelled at to the point of Commanding the best of the best, the Golden Arrows, the stunts they could do made audiences cheer all over the Colonies, adults and children alike, she paused at that thought, so many gone, just gone. She shook her head to come back to the now. Wiped a tear away, then moved back to her ship, damn it I’m going to finish this ship tonight!

This was her last thought as she dropped to the deck and went back to work, cursing Cylon tin heads and vowing to remove any and all of them from Her skies.

Captain Masters (Dragon) and his co-pilot Lt. Sever (Witch) were climbing down from the secondary gun turrets still a bit shaken from the jump. Both had run into each other as they had had the same idea as the Goliath launched from the bay on Tarturus. They knew they had an extreme lack of gunners so they went up to the spine of the ship where the sixteen major gun emplacements were housed. Their magazines full but no one to man them. Strapping themselves into the chairs in the “bubble” between the guns they had looked out as the massive form of the Cylon Basestar cleared the ridge of the crater. Then the flash as it sent a barrage of shells at them.

“they’re firing”

Sever had called into the head set that linked all the turrets so the gunners mates could coordinate their fire.

“I see that sever”

he had responded and turned the fire safeties off and swung the turret on track with the base star. He then sent a barrage of his own in concert with the one Sever was launching. The high explosive rounds magnetically charged and slamming into the ends and over the hull of the twin Y shaped stacked hulls of the Basestar. The Goliath had cleared the bay and was rocketing out of the moons orbit when the Cylons seemed to get the Goliaths range, more of its shots were hitting the ship.

“they’ve hit the frakkin engine pod, I didn’t give them permission to do that”

Sever chastised the attackers as she triggered another volley at them. Just then the relayed sensor data from the CIC flashed on their screens, one red light in particular caught Dragons attention.

“Sever, looks like were getting paid back for those nukes we let them have over Caprica. “

She looked down at her own screen on the panel in front of her . The radiological alarm was flashing.

“Frak we just can’t catch a break can we.”

Was her response. Then they saw them ,larger missiles than the rest, heading for the side of the Goliath as she sped out of the gravitational wake of the moon.

“shouldn’t we be jumping by now?”

Sever asked as they tried to target the missiles. Dragon even hit one, not bad for guns meant to hit ships of the line, not missiles the size of Vipers.

“I’ve got one locked”

Sever shouted, and was squeezing her trigger on the joy stick when Dragon called back

“Hold! Keep it locked and be ready to fire, CIC says we’re jumping”

“I’ll try, “

she obeyed and retuned and kept the last of two missiles in her sight. Hoping Dragon was doing the same with the other one. Masters was, and adjusted along the missiles track, keeping a firm grip on the trigger, if they timed this right they could hit the missiles after they went active, and the hit would make them detonate at nuclear yield , not just being destroyed like the others they had hit, missiles wont arm until they are in close proximity to target eliminating the chance of it turning back and hitting who launched it.

But still be far enough while the Goliath jumps to cover their escape by the blasts.

It was very risky and he doubted the Commander would approve, but he didn’t have time to ask.

The jump lights went green on the panel then he fired and called through the comm

“FIRE Witch, now!”

They did, and the shells from their guns had just cleared the space where the Goliath had been when the flash of the jump enveloped them. Then they were in open space, looking out the canopy . only the Goliath could be seen along with the stars.

From the Cylons perspective the head Centurion linked via wireless to the combat systems was routinely firing high yield conventional warheads at the moon surface of the colony dome. The plasteel transparent cover had been destroyed by the first Basestar assigned this task. But that unit had been driven off and badly damaged by the Colonial Battlestars that came to defend it. What ever human was in command had altered tactics just sufficiently enough to use long range weapons only and hid a nuclear warhead in the orbital flight path of the Basestar. Apparently the humans detonated it by remote as soon as it made contact. The damage made it impossible for the Basestar to send its activation signal to them that would shut down the humans main power systems, and allow them to fulfill their mission of destroying the humans.

Now it was this units assignment to finish destroying this moons habitat , shipyard and resources that any surviving Colonial ship might come here to salvage, then lay in wait for just that and ambush them as they searched for those resources. That was the plan, then , just as they were reversing course to another set of dry dock bays, the rear scanners picked up the unthinkable, a Colonial BattleCruiser rising out of the surface. Intelligence reported no bays on the polar side of the moon. Thought became action and the hull shook as retros tried to stop the momentum of the Cylons. Objects have no weight in space but they do have mass and it takes equal or greater force to overcome that mass to move it in another direction. Guns paused and engines strained to reposition the Basestar into firing at this escaping ship.

The Cylons began to move closer to their prey and with a thought weapons fired. Not accurately as they were not in optimal position, but they had to slow the vessel before it could jump. More of his model became aware of the situation and linked into the ships mainframe more weapons began firing and the nuclear weapons were bought on-line. Six missiles were armed and the safeties set. Moved into launch tubes. Centurion noted the damage to an upper engine and continued firing. more missiles were launched.

A number two model of the humanoid Cylons entered the Command deck and moved to an “external” display, a monitor required by the humanoids , they , not able to just access the mainframe remotely like their full metal counterparts.

“where did that! Come from Centurion?”

The number two asked as he looked at the data on the monitor.

“I thought all commissioned vessels were accounted for and destroyed?”

He continued waiting for the tall metal Cylons response.

“All commissioned Colonial vessels are accounted for , this vessel is undesignated , and unlisted.”

Was the centurions answer.

A decommissioned ship of the line, it had to be, the number two thought. Our information about this construction yard must be incomplete. He had heard of the human emotion of irritation that his kind were subject to in this artificial organic form but until now one he had not experienced it for himself. Now that he had, he knew, he did not like it.

“Destroy it , now!”

He shouted not even realizing it. The nuclear missiles launched and headed toward the accelerating ship.

The incoming barrage of the Battlecruisers guns already trying to inflict damage to the base star hit two as they launched. If they had been armed out of the tubes, they would have destroyed then instead of their targets, the rest sped toward the cruiser. Number two selected a narrower scan and noticed only two of the primary guns were firing, the rest of the incoming fire was from anti barrage weapons, nothing major that could threaten them, a smile unconsciously crossed the humanoid Cylons face. Easy prey.

Two more of the missiles were destroyed by the suppression fire, still not close enough to be armed.

A smile crept across the face of the number two as the last set of missiles approached their target.

Then the sensors blanked and the Centurions went dark as the dual explosions of the nukes went off. The E.M. (electromagnetic) pulse passed and the Cylon systems came back on-line. The Battlecruiser gone.

Number two smiled again, then dispatched worker Centurions to assess and repair the damage to his Basestar then ordered the ship to pass over the bay that apparently held the renegade Cruiser. Looking at his monitor he saw that there were four bays, all open now and undamaged. Worse yet, they were empty.

Was this the only ship to launch? Or had they only caught and destroyed the last one? He needed answers before returning to the others.

“Centurion, launch units to search that base, bring back survivors for interrogation. “

Number two ordered, then stood staring at the screen pondering these questions , his fingers digging into his palms without realizing it. Anger , another emotion that he hoped to not experience.

The search was well on the way when survivors were indeed found, a Centurion sent a report up to the Basestar but number two ordered the search to continue while repairs were made. He would jump back and report that there was a small probability that decommissioned Colonial ships had escaped. He was formulating his report when the main reactor of Tarturas finally lost ability to keep its fusion core stable and resulted in a massive detonation of both the station and the moon. Like all computers to run a program, you have to start it, even a transferal one. Number two was still in the midst of thinking of how he would explain the possible existence of Fleet ships escaping when the Basestar ceased to exist. Even if he had been able to transfer to a new body , the signal limited by the great distance and the speed of light would still have taken days to reach an unoccupied duplicate. As it was, no report would be made, and the Alliance had lost another Basestar in its destru! ction of the Colonies.

For now all that Captain Masters and Sever knew was that they had escaped and that they had better get back to the Peregrine and make sure the hanger had not been damaged. Traversing the huge interior of the Goliath they returned to the command decks and into the CIC. Much of the crew were still evaluating the systems to determine that they were where they wanted to be.

The O.D. Lt. Bowem noticed Masters enter and called for him to join him at the secondary plot table.

“Sir, we did arrive at the coordinates you specified. But, there’s no fleet, or sign of the Galactica .”

Masters head shot up, looking at the lieutenant. He took the readout from his hand and compared it to his own notebook. The coordinates did match.

“these are the ones the Galactica gave us. “

He looked back and forth hoping to see some discrepancy, there were none.

“chief Bishop is still checking the F.T.L. drive, and were running diagnostics on the computers, do you think that this could be a back up virus to that Cylon navigation virus?”

He asked quietly. Masters shook his head, and looked around.

“nothing like this was reported in the fleet. But I don’t know.”

Colonel Greenlee crossed the CIC to join Masters and Bowem.

“starting a game of Pyramid without me here gents? that’s rude”

Both men smiled and shared what they had been discussing.

“I agree lets not look for more trouble when we already have enough. Dragon, we launched alpha wing to look for evidence or a clue as to where the fleet went, Beamer, that’s Lt. Bronson , found “debris”. what it was he wouldn’t be more specific. But they should be back aboard soon, until then were coasting as to not burn up fuel to slow down. We’ll want your ship to jump ahead if we find anything they may have left for other Colonials to follow”

He raised his hand as Dragon was about to speak.

“I know, that’s not very likely he would leave a trail for the Cylons to follow if they should find it first. But we cant over look any possibility. “

Masters shook his head, knowing he was right, if there was a clue out there or a message that would tell them what the fleets next jump had been, they better not discount it. With that he turned to Sever who was still standing at “parade rest” behind her pilot.

“those quarters you said you found for us, go use them get some rest , I’ll take this watch .”

Sever came to attention and saluted, the senior officers returned it and she left for some much needed rest. Now that she thought about it, it had been since the night before the attack that she had any sleep.

“funny, that’s about what I told Hawkeyes after we got alpha wing launched. Other than getting repairs under way and restoring those systems that had been disconnected in the teardown there’s not much to do but wait till we hear back from our probes.”

Greenlee told his friend. As they looked over the reports coming from the engineers. One stood out in the X.O.’s eyes.

“Frak , well this explains it, it’s a software glitch in the F.T.L. computer. According to our navigation system we’re where we want to be but only within a certain grid, the F.T.L. “put us down” just the fraction of a degree off. The comparitor circuit was out of alignment.”

“Oh great, considering the distance we jumped even that small fraction could place us two to four systems away from the actual destination coordinates.”

Masters slapped the readout on the table, he knew the C.O. would not like this. Neither did he for that matter.

Lt. Bowem looked over at the X.O.

“Sir that is something I was wondering about,”

“yes lieutenant?”

“well Sir, the Cylons left the Colonies over forty years ago, right? Well where did they go? What system? Might we not be moving away from our system and closer to theirs? We’re past the red line, so even these in the Promar sector could be their home”

Lt. Bowem looked form one of the senior officers faces to the others, and he saw that they too had not considered this, he was right, they could be in more danger here than back at the Colonies.

Flotsam and jetsam

Lieutenant “Beamer” Bronson and his wingman Ensign Danielle “Tigress” Parrish were vectored out to scout the starboard quadrant from the Goliath. The other eight Mk II Vipers of their wing had split up into pairs and were all proceeding to other search areas. They had been in flight going through systems checks to verify that the new modifications were operational. Weapons, targeting systems, FOF (Friend of Foe) recognition , all had to be working if they were to protect their base ship. The lone surviving Battlecruiser

The Goliath. They along with the other thirty Viper pilots of the Golden Arrows were its only long range defense and detection platforms available. Except for the Peregrine drop ship.

“Passive scans still show nothing in this sector Beamer, actives on stand-by, we’ll need to head back in less than an hour if we want to have any fuel when we get back”

Beamer accepted his wingman’s report and checked his own readouts as he was ahead and a few degrees to port of her position, trying to cover as much area as they could in a small system along their vector.

“I’m not getting anything either tigress, just background radiation and some inhospitable planets. “

He redirected the sensors thinking he saw a spike on some artificially generated power , but he wasn’t sure.

Popping his retros he slowed to rescan that area, the burn caused the Viper to reduce speed almost to a stop, then the readout definitely showed a very low level of artificial energy, moving very slowly, and multiple targets.

“tigress, I think I’ve got something, work your way over to me.”

He called over to his partner. She picked up his signal and getting a fix on his location pushed her joystick control forward to increase speed in his direction.

“what ya got?”

She asked him as she approached burning retros to match his course and speed along side her Lead.

“not sure, multiple low level energy readings, directly ahead moving outbound from the system, could be ships running on passive mode just like us.”

“Colonial? I’m not picking up any E.M. transmissions to indicate Cylons.”

Tigress had now picked up the same field of objects and was widening the passives bandwidth to see what else they might tell them.

“be ready to head back fast, I’m going to try a low power active scan, see what there is to see”

Tigress acknowledged and stood by to kick in turbos and retreat should this turn out to be a Cylon patrol cruising in shutdown mode.

“stay put, moving ahead”

He ordered his junior wingman then hit his thrusters and switched on the active scanners. At first he was confused by the readings he was receiving , definitely artificial power, and multiple contacts. What was strange that his Warbook kicked in as well, it was trying to catalog the silhouette of the targets.

“not good the Warbook is active on these”

He called over to Tigress and was about to order them out of the system to return to the Goliath when the screen lit up and several recognized shapes appeared on it. But the mass for each target it picked up was way off. He thought it had to be a sensor malfunction, he looked out of the canopy and swore he saw an old fashioned Cylon Basestar , then before he could react or call out, it hit the plasteel of the canopy and shattered.

“what the holy Frak?”

He shouted over the comm.

“Beamer, what is it? Respond !”

Tigress called anxiously to find out what he had found and was hitting thrusters to catch up with him.

Just after the first impact another very small version of his Viper skidded up and over his fuselage.

It finally donned on him what these were.

“I don’t believe it, calm down Tigress, it’s toys, a bunch of toys and other neutral items, books, garments, I’d say we found the remnants of what was merchandise from the Galactica’s gift shop.”

“you’ve got to be kidding”

She answered back catching up and hitting reverse retros stopping next to Beamers viper, and sure enough the rest of the jettisoned phalanx of miniature Vipers, Raiders, basestars, even a Battlestar or two

Were coasting by, as well as a considerable amount of shirts, books, a menagerie of useless items that a die hard military Commander like Adama would no doubt deem unnecessary .

They both watched as the last of the gifts shop inventory drifted by then looked over at each other through the short distance separating them.

“I’d say we found proof that the Galactica and the fleet were here. “

Beamer smiled and made a swirling hand motion to indicate they should turn around and head back.

“I’ve recorded the position and the course that umm “debris” was following perhaps they proceeded in that direction at sub-light while repairs were being made.”

Tigress made sure to double check the locations as she made her report. Then they turned and burned and headed for home.

“we can only hope so, if they jumped, they could be anywhere”

Was Beamers reply.

Commander Matthew “Hawkeyes” Hawke awoke in what was now his quarters. The rather sizable Officers berth was barely furnished, and when he tried to wash up in the head (navy term for bathroom) only the sink worked,. Apparently the shower had already been disconnected. He would have some engineers fix that. Soon. He dressed and picked up his notes and shutting the hatch behind him saluted to the duty marine outside his door. Command was not an easy duty, but he was now in command and he better act like it, or this near civilian crew would fall apart and they would get nowhere.

He thought back to the attack at Tarturas, their first indication had been the shadow that passed over the Dome of the city in the “main crater” many of the citizens looked up to see what it was that had blocked out the light form the shining green world of Taura below them. They had never seen anything like it, a ship unbelievably wide, twin Y hulls stacked on each other, it stopped directly above the dome. That was the last thing most of them ever saw. There was a flash, then an explosion as the plasteel shattered and explosive decompression took over, wind howled until the air was evacuated. The buildings under the dome shook and some split open, hundreds of people were blown out into space, airlocks along the inner wall of the crater snapped shut, saving some. Other cores of the many buildings in the exposed city closed as well, trapping its occupants as they tried to flee downward into the base of the crater, and out through the tunnels and below ground complexes tha! t nearly equaled the city above. Then more explosions as the Cylons began their attack in earnest. Multiple warheads slammed into the crater. More along the surface trying to collapse the roof structures below. Many succeeding to do just that.

Hawke was in the office of Commander Flinn at that time. Once they realized what was happening the Commander ordered a complete evacuation of the moon. Several of Militechs liners were berthed in the construction bays and they began loading as many people as possible, the surface defenses seemed to be working, but only sporadically , as if the fire commands were somehow being canceled as they were being triggered.

Unknown to them, and even to the man responsible, a certain welders sub conscience was reveling in the gun battery’s failure to stop the others attack.

Then a reprieve, a strike wing of Battlestars from Virgon appeared over Tauron and launched long range missiles at the orbiting Basestar. Another crossed the path and launched several objects but stayed out of the Cylons range. As the Basestar moved to evade this new threat it pursued the one fleeing Battlestar but impacted with a warhead the Balerofon left in its wake, which it detonated by remote. The Basestar now badly damaged jumped and left the moon.

This bought the shipyard time. The bays that had not been destroyed by the attack were opened and liners, shuttles and cruises were loaded and launched, Commander Flinn tried to send word to the Tauron surface but all communications were knocked out by the nuke that had damaged the Basestar. Residual E.M. wouldn’t dissipate for awhile yet. Hawke had caught up again in the chaos as people fled and fought to get aboard what ever vessel they could.

“Hawke, get over to the scrap yard, make the Goliath ready for launch, I’ve dispatched a detail of officers and crew from the “Gauntlet” to help man her, use dock people to load as much as can be salvaged, I’ll join you as soon as the last of the civvies are away”

“yes Sir”

Hawke saluted and headed at a fast walk toward a sub-shuttle train that would take him under the mountain ridge to the polar scrap yard. Pushing his way to the train through the citizens of the Tarturas colony moon, he finally got in and closed the hatch, inside were dozens of crew waiting for their chance to escape, all hoping they could get the Goliath launched before another attack. The sub-shuttle stopped at the scrap yard platform and all disembarked moving quickly to get started on reviving the massive cruiser. As Hawke approached the airlock of the command section he was met by a young lieutenant.

“Sir Lt. Bowem reporting for duty, the Goliaths CIC is online and preflight systems are coming up, also I have some good news, one Viper wing is in orbit”

Bowem saluted and walked next to Hawke as he didn’t stop at the airlock and just moved through and proceeded to the CIC, the breathless Lt fought to keep up with the much taller officer and giving his report at the same time.

“what wing lieutenant ?”

“the Golden Arrows Sir, they were rehearsing in orbit when the Basestar appeared. They are requesting permission to dock.”

Was the younger officers reply.

“Golden Arrows, that’s a show unit, not even armed, get them in here before they get blown out of the sky. Have then enter through bay 2 and land directly on the Goliath’s hanger deck”

“Sir? But were docked. I,,”

“Those are my orders , vent the bays and have them land immediately “

“Yes Sir”

As these final orders were given they reached the CIC and in the midst of utter chaos, he spent the better part of four hours getting the behemoth ready for launch. During that time a tall redheaded Viper Pilot entered CIC , her colors indicated she was from the Golden Arrows. She walked over to Hawke and saluted.

“Sir, Captain Sassinak C.O. of the “Arrows”, my wing is aboard as ordered.”

She hesitated for a moment then after Hawke had returned his salute.

“Sir, we passed over the far side of Tarturas on our approach, the Cylons are back and they are nuking the surface of Tauron all of it sir, from pole to pole, no Colonial units were in sight.”

Even though she had sad this quietly all seemed to hear her anyway, and a silence spread across the room.

Lt. Bowem was at the comm station and was decrypting a report coming from the hardline to the construction side of the moon. He looked at the deciphered printout and went pale.

“Sir, Colonel Hawke”

Hawke looked at Bowem and saw the sheet in his hand and walked over to take it, read it and sighed.

“that’s not all Captain, those basestars, that multiple now, have launched raiders which are again bombing the city and its surrounding facility’s. most of the yard bays are afire, the “Dreadnaught” is burning, and Commander Flinn is dead, killed as the last civvies ship tried to launch, it exploded in the last bay and took out the airlocks and surrounding area, Commander Flinn was in one of those locks.”

Another report was processed and picked up by Lt. Bowem. This one was no better than the last.

“Sir Tarturas H.Q. reports several hits at the fusion power station, its going critical, estimated time until detonation eight hours, seventeen minutes. “

Within minutes the hardline was cut and all reports from the city side ceased. From then on it was a matter of urgency to all to move what they could from the warehouses between the city and the scrap yard loading all they could, until the internal scan of the scrap yard systems indicated that a shuttle airlock was being opened by remote. Lt . Bowem was the first to see this and called it to Hawke’s attention.

“guns?”

He inquired of the lt.

“Yes Sir, but I wouldn’t recommend firing them inside the bay”

“noted lieutenant, lock on the shuttle bay now”

The auto guns charged and tracked on the plasteel transparency to the starboard side of the Goliath the sensors and monitors watching to see what entered , believing that a Cylon raider or shuttle may have entered to search the yard. They all almost had to pick their jaws up off the deck when a Peregrine Colonial ship entered and casually landed in the bay.

Colonel Hawke had exercised his right to assume command and use field promotion regs to obtain the Rank of Commander, now he had to decide what to do with this ship, search out and join the Galactica and the fleet of ships it protected, or a more daring and risky course of action. His plan , if it was successful could achieve the same thing , help protect the fleeing ships, and keep the Goliath useful as a combat vessel.

Commander Hawke entered the CIC , notes in hand and walked over to his exec. Colonel Greenlee a man almost a head taller than he was, and he wasn’t exactly short. No wonder his call sign was “Stringbean”

How he got passed the maximum height restriction he would never know. Probably because he was a natural pilot, and until his accident as an instructor, the best since Husker Adama or Renegade Cain.

“good morning Sir. All systems are operational and accounted for.”

Greenlee said as he passed his C.O. a cup of coffee.

“thanks string, this stuff is gonna be rarer that Tylium pretty soon.”

He sipped a bit, then looked at the reports from the night watch.

“sleep any yet string?”

“for a bit yes Sir, Ensign Hally relieved me for a few hours. Our first patrols returned, the after action report is there on the bottom, wing gamma is deployed, Chief bishop has that starboard pod repaired. And now has his people split in a standard three shift rotation, doing quite well too, should have the rest of the secondary guns working in a few days, week maybe for all of them.”

“A week? Frak, I was hoping for sooner than that. He may have to double up teams.”

“if that’s what you want Sir, but now that were out of the known combat zone, why the rush?”

Hawke noted the use of ’known combat zone’

“that my friend I’ll tell you later, set up a command staff briefing for 13:00 hrs. main ready room.”

“Yes Sir. “

Hawke dismissed Greenlee and looked over the report of Lt. Bronson (Beamer) finding the gift shop discards, and almost laughed out loud. To see those toys drifting through space must have been a sight.

“Colonel, have plotting project a course along that ‘debris’s flight path, compute the fleets most probable speed and distance traveled from the time of Captain Masters initial jump from Ragnar until now. Then have Dragon take the Peregrine and jump to that area and conduct a search for the Galactica.”

“Yes Sir, right away.”

Colonel Greenlee had the plotting officer get the needed data ready and called over the comm for Captain Masters to report to the shuttle ready room.

“have him return no later than 12:30 hours I want him back here whether he finds the Fleet or not for that Briefing at 13:00”

As Colonel Greenlee left the CIC to brief Captain Masters he acknowledged Commander Hawke’s last order and proceeded down decks to the ready room.

Captain Masters rolled over as he heard voices in the berth that he and his co-pilot Lt. Severs had claimed. They were in modest shape and near enough to the shuttle pilots quarters that the Goliath normally housed. Forcing by sheer will one eye to open he saw Sever sitting at the one work station and talking on a comm unit, something about where to put the viper hulls and parts pallets. He sat up and tried to focus.

“about time you got up , Sir”

Sever said and smiled, then tossed him a couple of ration bars still in the wrappings.

“here’s your breakfast, and get dressed the Colonel wants us in the ready room right away.

Masters began pulling his flight suit back on,

“then log off that thing and go tell him I’ll be right there”

“Yes Sir.”

Sever answered and shutdown the work station and opened the hatch, moved through closing it behind her.

Masters cleaned up and was still munching on the ration bar when he entered the ready room, Sever was there but Colonel Greenlee wasn’t yet. He finally entered with the “Arrows” CAG in tow.

Both Masters and Sever came to attention.

“At you were”

Greenlee waved them back to their seats. Captain Sassinak joined them.

“your going on recon Dragon, we may have a lead on the course the Galactica took after arriving in this sector , “Syrin” will act as your CSO”

(Counter-measure Systems operator) [ think RSO Raptor Systems Operator ]

“search as long as fuel permits, if you find the Fleet inform them that we are trying to catch up with them and get their coordinates, if they plan to jump soon get those as well. Either way jump back no later than 12:30 hours.”

Greenlee briefed them on the source of this intel and that this was only an estimated guess on the course and location of the fleet.

“For this mission Captain Masters will be in command, Captain Sassinak , I know your CAG, but until we can assign a permanent CSO to the Peregrine, we’ll have to defer to Dragons superior knowledge of the Peregrine and its systems”

Greenlee explained his reasoning behind this switching of command , and she grudgingly accepted it. She also made a mental note to assign a couple of her squadron to be trained as RSO/CSO ‘s as soon as possible.

“Yes Sir”

Was her only response. They all stood as the Colonel dismissed them. Captain Masters took the flight parameters brief and placed it in his thigh display, and a copy to Sever. The last to Captain Sassinak. Then they all moved through to the main hanger, the new deck crew was now properly uniformed and had the Peregrine ready for launch from the main bay. One crewman in particular was checking a panel near the fueling ports, if one did not know better one might thing a clothed wall had been placed there. Dragon noticed the insignia of Chief on his collar and approached him.

“figure out how to fill it yet Chief?”

The man mountain snapped his head up and around and would have said something rather rude back if he hadn’t seen it was an officer addressing him. Even so,

“Yes Sir, I had no problems, turns out its so simple, even an officer could do it., Sir”

A big grin crossed his face . Dragon just smiled back as the Chief put out his hand , Dragon accepted.

“I’m Chief Hand Sir, but most people just call me ‘jack‘ Commander Hawke put me in charge down here and I’m suppose to keep all these birds flying,.”

“jack, your names james then?”

Sever asked as she looked the Peregrine over not too happy about ‘strangers’ poking around with their ship.

“no Sir lieutenant , jack’s not my name, it’s my job. My first name Sirus.”

Sever could understand that, he was big enough she figured if a Viper needed a lift he could just grab it and do it himself. Must be from Leonis, it’s gravity was almost twice that of most of the colonies so made for much stronger humans. ’jack’ yelled a few orders at his ground crew and he and ben who Dragon had seen during the evacuation, were now overseeing that all equipment got pulled from the bay. Dragon and his crew climbed up the ladder into the nose of the Peregrine, Syrin climbed in last and found the rear seat outside the cockpit, a small door separating the two sections. Looked the configuration over and began starting it up. It wasn’t that much different from the Raptors electronics package. She did notice the much expanded counter-measure systems and far more chaff and drones than the Raptor. When the panel was green she strapped in and activated her forward looking monitor. Locked down her helmet and turned on her comm.

“I’m set, systems back here are good.”

“copy that,, Core control has been transferred , the hanger is being deployed, “

Dragon called back and was getting his own flight controls set as Sever programmed the jump engines.

“Dragon, Witch, pod is locked , open and vented, were clear for launch.”

“Launching”

Dragon called out and they all were pushed back into their seats as the thrust sent the craft forward. They cleared the bay and maintained a straight course until they were well beyond the ‘wake’ of the Goliaths engines, then Dragon altered course sending them in the needed direction for the jump.

“switch to passives CSO, and get ready for jump.”

“Yes Sir passives only , actives on stand-by, ready for jump”

Came Syrin’s answer.

“jump in 5,4,3,2,1, “

Then the gut wrenching sensation of being in folded space washed over them, then the flash of appearing in a new sector of space. As soon as their senses returned to normal they began another systems check.

“we’re all good here Pilot.”

Syrin reported as she went through her list. Witch was doing the same.

“Same here Dragon, we’re right where were suppose to be and following the projected course of the ‘debris’.”

“copy that, nothing in visual range, sensors shows were not being locked or tracked, yet”

Dragon was watching his weapons panel making sure no targeting systems were scanning them.

“ok lets see if the Fleet is out there, full active scan, for and aft, if there along this line we should find something.”

Dragon ordered Syrin to power up the sensors and try to locate the fleet. They coasted for almost two hours and had only three more before they were to jump back to the Goliath.

With engines at standard thrust moving along what they hoped was the Galactica’s flight path, they watched and waited for some sign that this is where they had gone, but in reality they could very well have changed course after jettisoning the gift shop or jumped to another sector. They were beginning to think just that when Syrin called forward.

“Dragon, I think we have something, multiple energy spikes ahead of us, probably ships coming out of jump, moving back on a course that should intercept us, could be recon Vipers checking their rear.”

Dragon changed course putting the ship on a new vector, then powered them down,

“go to passives, shut down all non-essentials, lets make sure before we announce ourselves.”

Dragon ordered as he shut down his own station, but kept the nose mini-gun on stand-by.

He hoped that by reducing their power signature and moving in a straight line away form the incoming crafts course they would just look like another piece of space debris. Their sensors also had far greater range than a fighters so they saw them coming before the fighters could see them. In theory anyway.

“I read them as five fighter size crafts, passives at this range are still working on positive I.D.”

Dragon locked the passives scan into his targeting system, just to be on the safe side.

“Witch, arm the scarabs, and keep that lock on the Goliath with the F.T.L. drive, and stand-by, Syrin, send them a ‘ping’ and lets see what they do”

[ping = a short active sensor sweep]

“you really want to risk that? What if they’re hostile?”

Was Syrin’s response.

“best way to find out, just be ready to jam them if they aren’t Vipers.”

Dragon said as he gripped the controls a bit tighter ,held his breath and waited to see what they would do once the active ping hit them.

“ping sent”

Syrin watched as the ships now well within mutual detection range were bathed in the scanner signal and came about suddenly, the return was picked up and interpreted by the Peregrine’s system and read instantly , the Warbook showed them as new generation Cylon raiders, and moving to intercept.

“THEY’RE Cylons, get us out of here “

Renewed Strength

Prologue:

Several Cylon Basestars had converged near the orbit of the Colonial world of Caprica. These massive combat vessels floated menacingly in space with dozens of Raiders moving around and between the seven double Y stacked hulls, with even more large shuttles descending toward not only Caprica, but the other former homes of the humans near their position in orbit as well. Shuttles with thousands of the new Centurions fully armed and ready to seek out those humans that were either able to flee the mass nuclear destruction of their cities, or were outside of them in the smaller hamlets that stretched between the major population sites.

It was almost certain that any such survivors would perish from the extensive radiation that now permeated the atmosphere of all twelve worlds, or from the starvation of trying to consume contaminated matter. In either case this was not a sure method of guaranteeing their total annihilation. The Centurions were. They would remain on all the surfaces, searching out and destroying every last human. Raiders would patrol the skies, new mechanical hunter-killers would roll across the landscapes , until they were sure their task was complete. It was here high above the ruins of the Colonies in one of the largest Basestars that a council of the new humanoid Cylons had convened.

“We have achieved a major victory , but from recent reports its not as complete as it should have been.”

A tall blonde female model said turning to face the others, nearly twenty in all but many looking identical to others in the compartment.

“No, we have suffered losses, one Basestar was lost at Molecay, another at the Tarturas moon, one here over Caprica by an unknown vessel, several more were heavily damaged by unknown forces, and of course the one confirmed escape of the Battlestar from Ragnar.”

One shorter male Cylon reported back.

“Confirmed, yes, but there would seem to be the possibility of one, perhaps more, ships of the line that remain unaccounted for, these incidents cannot all be just accidents, the scouts that returned from Tarturas reports that the whole of the moon was destroyed, that may have been an accident, but to lose one at the same time at Molecay, seems too coincidental. “

The blonde model continued. Walking between them as they pooled their thoughts and determined a course of action.

Another of the female models offered her suggestion.

“If there is indeed colonial ships out there, they will need resources, we have Basestars waiting at those places that the military would have had the highest probability of locating them, now destroyed of course. We could man one by a handful of us, ready to signal for our fleet if and when they arrive, say within 30 light minutes away. Far enough to be out of scouting range, but close enough to receive a transmission and jump there before they have a chance to complete any kind of cargo transfer”

The others agreed, a trap, simple yet affective. This if handled correctly could prove to be the way needed to remove all doubt. If there were indeed a Battlestar or other Colonial ship out there, this could bring it out in the open, and allow them to destroy it.

“yes a trap. But there is no way to know if they will try to get resources from the trap and not the others that we have already removed. “

Another model offered an idea.

We will place five of our kind on a station, then send out a signal on Colonial frequency, a distress call, to help lure them to the right one.”

The blonde said with a smile on her face, the others agreed , but there was one problem, they had destroyed nearly all the supply depots that there were, now there wasn’t one they could use for bait and make it enticing enough for a Colonial ship. One of the taller male Cylons stepped forward,

“there is one possibility, the Colonies also had a civilian fleet of ships, for search and rescue operations between the planets, a ‘coast watch’ as it were, they are unarmed and were not deemed a threat during our attack so we left them to mop up with the other civilian traffic, like the agro ship and liners found by our patrol, several of these cutters still remain at large, but they do have a number of ‘bottle-colonies’ throughout the system that serve as hospitals, and headquarters for the “Guardsman” crews. One of those should be quite adequate”

He used a remote to make a holo-display of one such station appear in the middle of the room, the small floating image of a deep space station nearly five miles in length and almost a quarter mile in diameter, a giant cylinder , with a spine of equipment bays and several solar collectors fanning out from several places, spinning to simulate gravity, primitive by modern colonial standards but efficient. It’s massive fusion core at it’s far end keeping the station and its occupants alive. A station able to berth ten cutters on its docking ring extended out from its middle section. And dozens of shuttles in the main hanger complex.

“this one is ‘Valhalla’ station, the largest and best equipped, we have a Basestar on course for it now, we could have a Raider jump to it with orders for it to stand down and remain at the twenty light minute distance until called for from within, while using a ship manned by us from one of the space dromes posing as refugee’s and jump directly to the station, they are no doubt attempting to help all those that escape to there, it was because we wanted to allow as many humans to be aboard the station at its destruction that we have permitted it to exist this long”

The male finished his proposal, and the others agreed, yes a well conceived plan.

The one female who stood in the corner watching the others as they went over the details stepped quietly forward,

“Proceed with this plan immediately.”

All the others turned to her and said.

“By Your Command.”

“Valhalla”

Commander Hawke wanted to get the secondary gun batteries operational as soon as possible . He had ordered Chief Bishop to assign as many hands as he could to them. Without compromising the rest of the repairs. (including the shower in his quarters). Hawke had climbed passed the main magazines and up to the main gun recesses along the Goliaths spine finding the Chief bent over several bins looking for the right part for the control circuits he was working on.

“Morning Chief, ready for a gunners drill yet?”

The Commander said standing behind the Chief, holding onto a handhold as the gravity up in this area of the ship was rather variable.

“Bishop turned his head up and gave the Commander a scowl.

“No sir, we are not ready for any Frakkin drills, nor will we be until I can find what those panicky people did with half of my parts when they rammed this hulk full of the loot from Tarturas, nothings organized, we have food in with machinery, ammo in with the water tanks, landram’s parked around field gear, I’ve half my guys just opening crates to find the invoices to see if we even have what we need.”

Commander Hawke returned the scowl, he wasn’t aware that the cargo was in such disarray , he would have Stringbean get on that immediately.

“Sorry Chief, good thing I wasn’t serious, what is their status?”

He said pointing up at the turret over their heads. The Chief stood upright his scruffy and grease smeared face . Almost equal in height as he wiped his hands on a rag and picked up a clipboard to look over some reports from the aft sections.

“We have four forward and two aft turrets fully operational, the middle twelve are in various states of teardown, IF, and I mean IF we have the right parts and can find them, we can have those working in four to five days. The other guns are in better shape, we launched with thirty percent operational, but we have that up to sixty, the rest in two or three days, those parts are getting scarce, so its back to hunting for them.”

“What about the ‘Mains’ , the rail guns?”

“Sorry Sir, not much chance, I had a team do a quick once over of them they were in pretty bad shape. I’ll be able to tell you something more definite after I get a look myself, but right now, well unless there’s enough of each to maybe swap parts from one to the other and complete one, we don’t have any parts for them aboard, there wasn’t any at the Yard. They don’t use them much anymore.”

“I was afraid you would say that. Do what you can, and keep CIC informed of your progress, have each shift send an update after each watch.”

“Yes Sir”

Commander Hawke returned the salute the Chief gave him and began climbing back down to the interior of the ship. He double checked the magazine’s status making sure all four were at capacity, only three could transfer their warheads up to the Batteries. Another thing to add to the Chiefs frustrations. Off duty personnel were lining up at the Q.M. (Quarter Master) deck, those civilians with supply management experience were serving as the Quarter Masters, trying to fit uniforms to the people now assigned their duties. From flight crews, to galley help, fuel handlers, engine room mates, gunners, and even Command staff, all needing to be geared up and ready for what lay ahead. Stringbean , Colonel Greenlee, had put the berthing (assigning quarters) , arranging provisions, and uniforms first. They had to look like a crew before they could start to act like a crew. Most of the repair crews had standard Colonial engineer jumpsuits anyway, so they were to report last. Another da! y or two of downtime and they would be ready to move out.

Where they were to move to, he was still debating. If the Peregrine was able to locate the fleet, fair enough, they would rendezvous with the Galactica. If they weren’t, then he had a plan for that. Gorilla warfare was a good option at this point. Harass the Cylons and make them waste resources trying to find them and allow the Galactica and Adama to escape less hindered. At least until their own supplies ran low, hopefully by then they will have caught up with the Fleet. Moving through the corridors seeing the look on the faces of this new crew, most had never served in the Military , but fortunately they were as familiar with ship systems as Warriors, you learn that when you hammer them together and take them apart for a living.

All they would need is some experience. He finally entered the CIC and found the O.D. Lt. Bowem giving instructions in evasive maneuvers to the helms crew. Good he thought , already thinking ahead.

The Core of his actual Colonial Officers, about two hundred in all out of nearly seventeen hundred, just might make a crew of these people after all.

If Captain Sassinak had experience with a Peregrine she would not be the least concerned with a few Cylon Raiders, after the initial pass they had already taken out one of the enemy ships. The other four were turning back to flank the single Colonial ship and destroy it. Captain Masters , the pilot of the Peregrine, banked hard starboard pivoting the craft sharply placing one pair of the Raiders on an approach from forward and above them.

“There’s your shot Witch”

Using his co-pilots call sign, Lt. Sever swung the twin ‘eyeball’ mini-guns on the forward wing edges of the ship up tracking with her helmet where she was looking, the guns training in unison to her heads movement, then squeezing the trigger on her joystick control. The rapid buzz of fire in the earpieces could be heard as the flechette rounds were sent via magnetic rail barrels from the small cannons.

Red tracers could be seen as she adjusted her field of fire leading the nearer Raider which took several hits then exploded, the other Raider sent a volley of equally deadly fire toward them, but passed just under their hull.

“I’ve got their signals jammed, they’re not going to call for help”

Captain “Syrin” Sassinak called forward from her counter measure station in the back of the Peregrine’s flight deck.

“Copy that Syrin, hold tight, and pop a chaff we’ve got incoming”

Was Dragon’s , Captain Masters, reply.

“I see it, those other two tin heads got a missile away at us”

Syrin hit the round green button on the mechanical C.M. panel firing a ‘hot’ sensor target into the path of the incoming missile, as it cleared the hull Dragon ‘jigged’ the ship back the other direction toward the two port side Raiders. he closed the distance between them and prepared to fire his nose gun.

“I’ve got left”

He called out.

“I’ll take right”

Sever answered, then in unison triggered another volley both landing on target. Only the left Raider returned fire as the right retracted its missile pod, possibly to switch to guns, a delay in the design that Dragon would note for future reference. Both Raiders blew apart the debris almost colliding with them.

“That last ones still in my sky people”

Syrin fired a drone for the Raiders new missile to follow, the last one had detonated when it intercepted the chaff, but the Raider was making sure to get a closer lock so the missile would arm closer to the actual target.

“Bank Dragon now!”

She yelled as the missile homed in. Sever switched to intercept control pivoted the pods on the bottom of the fuselage and sent a pair of the mini missile-seeking-missiles toward the approaching weapon. The drone had failed to fool the missile but the intercepts were locked on. One met its target and exploded.

“Frak that last missile was a decoy he’s turning, making a run for it, I think he’s trying to get out of our jamming range and make a call or jump.”

Syrin tried to boost the gain on the jammers to extend the range, as Dragon hearing her report turned the Peregrine around to pursue. Pushing the throttle full forward they were thrust back into their seats more than Syrin thought possible for a bird this big. Masters lips went tight as he focused solely on the Raider. Both he and Sever were sending volleys of fire form the mini-guns keeping it harassed so it couldn’t make a good jump fix.

“keep firing, damn these things are quick.”

Was his only response. As his ammo limit indicator began to flash he switched to the Scarabs ,

“evade this”

He said quietly and sent a four missile spread at the Cylons tail. Two impacted easily, the other two just shutdown and went inert after passing the target. The Raider was gone. And they were safe, for the moment.

“nothing like overkill, Sir”

Was Severs sarcastic response.

“Yea but it felt good.”

He replied.

“Not to burst your collective bubbles , but , when those don’t report back some ones going to come looking for them, not to mention they were coming from our projected flight path to the Fleet.”

Sassinak said through the comm.

“Captain‘s, they’ve always gotta be right, Sirs.”

Sever gave her C.O. a wink and placed her weapons back on stand-by, Masters was doing the same and changing course putting them back in line for the jump back to the Goliath.

“Witch, spin up the F.T.L. make ready for jump.”

Dragon told his crew and made sure all systems were secure. Syrin was doing the same making sure all data from the combat and their sensor readings were in stand alone mode and recorded.

“Ready Sir”

She said as she got ready for the headache of the jump.

“Jump in 5,4,3,2,1, , “

The Peregrine vanished from sight from within the area of the five Cylon Raiders debris and reappeared from folded space within five light minutes of the Colonial Battlecruiser Goliath.

“I see her, She’s well ahead of us, estimate twenty fie minutes to intercept.”

Syrin was sending the navigation forward to the pilot station and Dragon locked in the course, they should have appeared much closer than that, first the Goliath, now us, arrive in this sector and both not exactly on target, either there’s some natural phenomenon that’s interfering with the F.T.L. , or something, or someone has been. This thought didn’t appeal to the Captain at all, a possibility he would mention to his friend Colonel Greenlee when they got back on board. Until then he sat back and tried to concentrate on winding down, he was still excited from the combat and needed to clear his head about this, and what he would include in his after action report, frakkin paperwork anyway.

When the Peregrine was in ‘actual’ communication range of the Goliath they signaled Flight Control, received the landing instructions and approached the single center bay extended from the ‘keel’.

“you look good Peregrine 6199, your cleared for hands on approach, call the ball”

The voice of the Flight Officer clear in their ear pieces.

“copy that Flight, I have the ball, throttling back. “

Dragon entered the bay clearing the Vipers of the Golden Arrows that could not be lowered for lack of space to the launch bay on either side, and moved toward the ‘nose’ of the hanger.

“pads are down, mag locks standing by”

Sever monitored the landing cycle. Masters set the ship down after rotating it back toward the rear of the bay to make launching easier. The pads touched down and locked to the deck. The ‘clam shell’ doors closed at each end of the hanger that would allow the bay to pressurize so they could disembark. Several agonizing moments later the instruments showed that they had air outside the ship. As soon as their board was green the hatches on the sides opened and the flight crew emerged and moved the maintenance equipment and began servicing the ship. The crew locked down their systems and got them selves unstrapped and moved to the ladder that would permit them out. Captain Sassinak was the first to open the hatch and climb down. Then removing her helmet, took a deep breath.

“ah more recycled air”

She said sarcastically . Masters and Sever followed her down and pulled their helmets off as well.

“We better get moving if we want to make that briefing.”

He informed them. The big crew Chief , ’jack’ , walked around the from the rear of the ship looking it over then walked up to the pilot and his crew.

“ You seem to be short a few missiles there Sir.”

“Yea I know, went to a good home though.”

“You’ll have to tell me about it sometime”

Was jack’s answer. As he was about to turn to go back to work Dragon stopped him and moved a bit closer.

“jack, do me a favor, run a diagnostic on the F.T.L. drive and computers, and let me know what you find”

The tall man looked at him and his smile disappeared. Looked at his crew for a moment.

“something I should know Sir?”

“I’ll let you know after I get your report, do it yourself if you can”

“Yes Sir.”

He called out to his crew, giving them their assignments and told them to hurry it along, the latest duty wing was due back shortly and they would need to be out of here by then.

‘ben’ was manning a loader and moving to place fresh Scarabs in the upper missile pods. He was good with the loader , one of his favorite things to do when he wasn’t welding and building things. In his subconscious a small voice was saying, ‘yes I could find away to detonate this missile, may even destroy the scout ship and damage the bay, but that would not destroy this ship, no for that he would need the others. Patience, an opportunity will present itself, until then the charade must be maintained.’

They barely had the time to grab some food from the commissary , still in their flight gear when they finished and headed for the ready room. The Commander, Colonel, flight officer, Gunners chief, Engineering Officer and Chief, and several others were all there, seated in the pilots ‘auditorium’ chairs.

Commander Hawke stood at 13:00 , exactly when the briefing was to begin, and moved to the control podium. Several wall monitors lit up and showed the data on the ships status, their position and other relevant information.

“Good afternoon , Colonel Greenlee is handing out full status reports on all sections , as you will see the Goliath is battle ready, to a degree. I have received Captain Masters and our CAG’s reports on their search for the Fleet. You will see that the indications were not good, on the positive side, they found no evidence that the Fleet or the Galactica were destroyed. We will proceed on the assumption that they are still out there and did jump after dumping their gift shop.”

Everyone silently nodded in agreement as some looked through the files. Hawke continued.

“the Cylons were very meticulous in their attack, carried out in efficient order. Major cities nuked, military forces neutralized, civilian space traffic wiped out where ever located. By now we’re sure they are conducting ‘mop up’ operations, killing any survivors on the surface of the Colonies.”

More nods and some silent prayers for the dead as Hawke continued.

“Even with the time the Cylons have had they , hopefully, wont have found and destroyed all the outposts, bottle colonies, and individual ships that move constantly between the planets. Many ships like those that were able to get to the Galactica may be even now looking for military ships to escort them. To that end I intend to return to our home system and seek out survivors, failing that, we will hit the Cylons when and where we can. “

To this many looked up almost incredulously . Some like Dragon and his friend and the X.O. rather expected it. Matthew Hawke was almost second to none in tactics and strategy, (some thought he was cloned right from Cain himself at times), other thought he was just born luckier than mere mortals had a right to be. Even though he had never seen combat, having been born after the war, he still was undefeated at the Academy and in every Colonial War Game since.

“The most likely location any of the freighters, frigates cruisers, cutters, liners, and yacht’s , and other civilians would try to get to would be the C.I.S.A.R. ‘s stations spread throughout the system.”

Their masters and captains are trained to either call to the Fleet, or to the Guardsman when in distress, and being a civilian organization may have been overlooked by the Cylons. We therefore are going to make our way back to the system and see if any of those bases are intact and hold any survivors, if the opportunity presents itself to look on the Colonies themselves we will do so. I want all departments to be ready to make our first jump by 12:00 hours two days from now, until then we will proceed at sublight back toward the Colonies, and our first destination, “Valhalla’”

Commander Hawke dismissed those assembled and many moved out of the hatch and gathered their thoughts planning on how to best comply and get their people ready for the return. Many eager to get back and give the Cylons a taste of what they had suffered.

The command staff returned to the CIC and Colonel Greenlee ordered the helm to set course ,

“Ensign Maru, lock navigation back to the Colonies, destination Valhalla station, Libron orbit”

“Yes Sir “

Was the response and the CIC crews hearts rose and fell as they knew they were heading home.

Homeward bound

By the morning of the second day Chief Bishop, Colonel Greenlee , and Chief Hand , along with many of the deck crew, had the provisions, supplies and hulls along with their components reorganized. If one did not know better one might think that everything had been loaded at Tarturas in such a manner that would deliberately hinder the refitting of the Goliath after the launch. Commander Hawke used the down time as well thinking over his plans on how best to approach the C.I.S.A.R. (Colonial Intrastellar Search And Rescue) Station. For all he knew the whole of the station, or all of them ,could be gone. Rather than just charge in blindly he decided that gathering intel would be a smarter course. It would mean putting the one scout vessel at extreme risk, the Peregrine, but that couldn’t be avoided. Hawke spent the better part of his time at the plotting table going over every chart of the home system trying to determine what would be the best place to put his ship and remai! n undetected while ’Dragon’ went about seeking Valhalla.

The status reports on the secondary guns were getting better. Of the sixteen emplacements, twelve were now fully operational, and eighty percent of the barrage guns were finished. Even better, both of the primary gun quads of the forward hull were fully operational. The mass drivers however were still completely off-line. Chief Bishop had spent some time yesterday doing an asessment of their condition and seemed fairly confident that the port rail gun could be restored by cannibalizing parts from the starboard one. That was better than expected. If they could bring that on-line they would have the potential to take out even a Basestar with a single shot. If they were close enough, and could fashion a projectile.

The crew was adjusting to their new lifestyle and duties fairly well, once they all had their new assignments and a duty rouster had been established. The one advantage he saw was that when you have a large bunch of construction engineers and ship builders all trying to keep busy to deal with their grief, thay get quite a bit of work done. He doubted even trained damage control teams from a ‘normal’ crew could have done near as well in so short a time. Colonel Greenlee had made sure that all networked modifications were removed and any files or programs having to do with the Baltar ENP (Enhanced Navigation Program) were deleted and purged from all ships on board. Ensign Hally had only a short time during their launch to intercept and record what little Cylon communications they could pick up , and she was still trying to decrypt it. He had authorized her as their new Intelligence Officer to assign whom ever she needed to assist. One thing they needed was definite intellig! ence. The only way they were going to get that was to slip back into the system and monitor the Cylons transmissions. If they were lucky they might find out the status of their colonies without having to spend fuel looking for themselves.

Colonel Greenlee came up to the plotting table with a handful of new reports,

“Morning Sir, were now at six hours until our jump, everything is on schedule, all cargo is secured and put in proper order. Chief hand and CAG have all forty Vipers retro fitted and fully armed. Since we can only keep ten in the launch tubes and another ten at ready stations on the lower launch deck, the other twenty are secured on the hanger deck, as well as four fuel shuttles, two standard shuttles, four marine drop shuttles and the one APC carrying drop ship, Peregrine. Other parts and supplies are crammed into every available space along the lower bay, ‘jack’ both hates and likes that fact, it’s in his way he says, but he doesn’t want it out of his sight at the same time. “

Hawke shook his head and took the reports. He too believed that the haphazard way the supplies had been loaded was just accidental, it had to be caused by the panic the civvies were feeling during the evacuation, if it was deliberate, that would mean there was a traitor on board. The probability of that was inconceivable. The Cylons were out to kill all humankind, so there would be no motive for a traitor. Greenlee continued.

“Captain Rodo has eighty marines aboard and billeted in the normal ‘barracks’. the Goliath normally carried two hundred marines so they have more than ample room. What they are short on is small arms ammo. One squad has been givin the specs for the Pererines APC and are drilling on its systems. Captain Masters has a CSO assigned now, so his crew is complete and they are briefed on their assignment after we reach the Colonies. “

“very good Lance, how long before we’ll need reprovisioning?”

“we figure nine standard months before the food and water run out. Were low on medical supplies, doctor Pierce is still putting life station in order, it was a real mess and his staff is very limited.”

“that’s not good”

Hawke had thought about that, one more reason to hope Valhalla was intact, it was a floating hospital and CISAR resupply port, if any where had the supplies they needed it would be one of those. Exactly why the Cylons would need to destroy them. Question was , had they already or were they just sitting nearby like a crawl-on in a web waiting to pounce on the prey when it was the fattest. Soon they would have to find out.

“No it’s not. “

His X.O. looked at the plotting table and back at him seeing the notes he had been writing. Pointing at a circle drawn on the present chart.

“Tanis huh. that’s way out in the ‘ort’ cloud that forms the boundry of the system. “

Hawke nodded and showed his exec the last known survey of that particular asteroid that hung in orbit at the farthest reashes from the Cyrannus star .

“that rock has a very dense core, heavy in metals, while the Peregrine is doing its ‘snooping’ were going to extract some of those metals and make some ‘cannon balls’ for the mass driver.”

Greenlee’s eye lit up. Well that would certainly be a challenge.

Captain Masters was still doing repetitions of chin ups on a pipe that passed through his and Severs compartment when there was a quiet knock on the hatch. He dropped down and swung the lock wheel around to find Chief Hand, or ‘jack’ as he liked to be called, standing there.

“come in Chief.”

Dragon, Masters call sign, moved aside and let the big man step in. then closed the hatch.

“Mornin Captain, I think I have some bad news”

Dragon picked up a towel and draped it around his neck and sat at the edge of his bunk. Severs was empty, she left earlier to get some chow. Jack stood at ease but didn’t look too ‘easy’

“you finished that diagnostic then?”

Was Dragons question.

“Yes Sir I did, and that’s the problem. I’m not sure what you wanted me to look for, but what I found was two key memory cards from your navicomputer had been swapped around. “

Dragon stood up and looked up at the Chief.

“your sure?”

Jacks eyebrows went up and he gave the Captain a sideways look.

“Sorry Chief, yes your sure. Can you tell when that may have been done?”

“recently, the screws for that panel were newly scratched when it was opened, like it was in a hurry, that bird of yours has a redundant F.T.L. computer, unlike the Raptor or a shuttle , from the flight recorder it looks as though when the faulty nav system encountered a problem it switched to the back up. that’s why you still were able to jump, and the sabotage didn’t take effect until the primarys burned out after the first jump, the second one was never supose to happen, where ever you went, someone wanted it to be your permanent home.”

Dragon liked this news not at all. They definitely has a ‘spy’ on board. Someone working for the Cylons. But who? And more curiously, why? He intended to find out, and told the Chief as much.

“As bad as you want him Sir, so do I. Who ever did this is on my flight crew, with access to any ship, until we find them, all our pilots are at risk.”

Dragon agreed, and reached for his uniform jacket,

“Let get to CIC, the Commander and Colonel need to hear this now.”

The Chief nodded and followed the Captain out of the hatch and moved quickly up the corridor.

Standing near a bulk head intersection just passed the pilots quarters was a lone welder who had been quietly shadowing the huge deck Chief. The small voice in his mind that even he could not hear unless it allowed it was more sure now that its efforts to hinder the Goliaths operations were being detected, soon it would have to take a more active role in the ships destruction. The welder known as ’ben’ shook his head and seem to come out of a day dream, looked around trying to remember how he got up here, then wandered back down to the machine shop to continue work on the pre-fab rail gun parts Chief Bishop wanted.

Captain Masters and the Chief took Commander Hawke and Colonel aside into a briefing room and told them about the near miss of the Peregrines F.T.L. drive, and the reason for it that Chief Hand had found.

Neither of them were happy for such a report to say the least.

“Frak, well this is just what we need. X.O. get Ensign Hally and Captain Rodo in here, as of now Rodo is our security Chief. I want them to investigate this from the second we began evacuating Tarturas.”

Hawke pounded his fist on the table . He was just suspicious before, now he had proof of sabotage. This incident had reminded him of the problem the Goliath had with its initial jump in its attempt to catch up with the Galactica. Sounded like they had better check their own computer again before returning to the Colonies. Colonel Greenlee was having the same thought, and called for Chief Bishop as well.

After a lengthy meeting of the senior officers going over new policys that they would implement immediately which they hoped would hinder any further interference, until they could determine who it was that could be insane enough to help the Cylons.

“We have one hour until jump Chief”

Hawke was asking their engineering chief,

“will we be ready in time?”

“Yes Sir, my teams will have us ready on time.”

Hawke nodded and dismissed them,

“Colonel, lets get back to CIC, Dragon get the Peregrine ready for launch. Jack, go over all your personnel place only those with former Fleet experience on your servie teams, others place in the shops until we get this resolved. Ensign Hally , Captain Rodo, I don’t envy your job, but your orders are to find this spy, as soon as possible. Got it?”

Both of them said ,

“Yes Sir “

saluted and left the briefing room , folowed by the others. As Hawke and Greenlee went back up the corridors Greenlee shared his thoughts.

“Sir, that spy could be from any section, not just the flight crew”

“yes exec I know, but the few incidents we have seem to center on or near the flight deck, the mishandled cargo, the Pererines F.T.L. our own may have been unrelated, but we’ll know for sure after Bishop takes a closer look now. My gut tells me it’s a civilian that’s been working our hanger. And where we’ve had the most trouble, so it’s the logical place to start”

“Yes Sir, lets hope so.”

Masters returned to his quarters to clean up and change, Sever was back there getting into her flight suit as well, she was just putting her gun belt on when he entered the hatch.

“Where were you?”

She asked him. He then told her of jacks report and the impromptu meeting with the Commander and staff, and that they had better keep a close eye on the Peregrine from now on.

“that’s Frakkin wonderful, I hate it when people mess with my ship, “

She paced in the room a bit, not really talking to Dragon, more to herself just to vent her frustration.

She pulled her sidearm out, thumbed the magazine release, looked at the caseless rounds in the clip, then pushed it back into the grip, then pushed the pistol back in the holster, a habit she had whenever she was upset. Ranted a bit more, then rechecked her ammo again, re-holstered the gun, and still paced.

“maybe they’ll let me have the guy when they find him, yea and I’ll make him talk, usung cruel and lothesome Borellian torture rituals, yea that would be good”

“finished yet?”

Dragon asked her. She finaly stopped, re-holstered yet again, and turned to him.

“yes for now, lets go check our ship before someone steals the APC or something”

The claxon sounded loud and clear .

“Set condition two throughout the ship, stand by for jump, repeat set condition two throughout the ship, stand by for jump”

Lt Bowem was saying into the hand set and his voice reverberated through the interior of the vessel. The F.T.L. drives were spun up and ready, all Vipers were aboard and the bay retracted back into the belly of the ship. All personnel were at their ready stations and waited for the ship to move from here to there, there being the orbit of the Tanis Asteroid. The men and women of the new Gunners crew were in their “bubbles” but still in the retracted position, ready to be deployed should there be any Cylons near their arrival point.

“All decks and divisions report ready for jump Sir.”

Lt. Bowem called to his C.O. Commander Hawke, Colonel Greenlee was rechecking the F.T.L. computer on their end while Chief Bishop did on the actual drive computers in the drives themselves. Then sent a text to the CIC directly to Greenlee’s plot table monitor. One word. ‘green’

‘Stringbean’ Greenlee as he was sometimes called looked over to Hawke.

“Ready Sir”

Hawke nodded in understanding then gave the order.

“execute jump Colonel “

Greenlee moved to the engineering station released a small compartment removed the duel initiator key and placed it in the code mechanism. He turned the key and the ships drives ‘adhered’ to two places simultaneously, then released the near one, sending the ship in a flash to the destination.

The Goliath appeared over the small asteroid, a rock nearly fifty miles in diameter among thousands of smaller rocks and debris that make up most ‘oort’ clouds of similar systems. The effect on humans is a bit more dramatic, more to some than to others, but all felt like they had just ran a marathon and got quesy. Once they recovered they checked their instruments and Lt. Bowem reported.

“No malfunctions Sir, we are .5 miles above the Tanis asteroid on the far side away from the system, virtualy no chance any long range sensors could pick us up.”

“Very well lieutanant , place us at station keeping and hold here until further orders”

Greenlee turned to the FCO (Flight Control Officer)

“deploy the pod and launch the Peregrine, we will remain at condition two. Viper pilots to their ships but remain in the tubes.”

“Yes Sir “

was the FCO’s answer. He released the locks of the pod and let the hanger lower to launch position. Core command was transferred to the waiting Peregrine and its crew. Coordinates on the last known position of Valhalla was entered into the Peregrines computer via wireless. Encrypted in Militech navigation code only as per Captain Masters recommendation.

“we have our destination locked in , engines are hot , weapons on stand by. “

Witch , Sever, reported as they went over the preflight check list, for the third time, making sure every system was intact.

“All CM systems are in passive mode, F.T.L. should put us within five light minutes of Valhalla , just within max sensor range. “

Lieutanant Giles was in the rear compartment manning the CM station , he had been ‘loaned out’ by Captain Sassinak after she found out he had had some Raptor training. More as a pilot, but he was familiar with some of the electronics package. She had given him the Peregrine specs that Dragon had provided and told him to learn it quick, or be on shuttle duty. That was two days ago . He had spent every waking moment crammed into the rear seat of the Peregrine as it rest in the bay from then on running simulations on the panels.

‘it’ll be easy ’ she said, as she had plopped the manual the size of Caprica Citys phone directory onto his lap. He felt like he was back In the Academy again. Learning to handle all of these things, active and passive scanners, comm frequency interceptors, decryption computers, the active and passive counter-measure systems, chaff, drones, sensor ’echo’ emulators. Frakkin thing was worse than a Battlestars CIC.

Now here he was in potential combat situation the ship relying on how well they, more like he could do this job. Well he wouldn’t disapoint them. Any of them ,especially Captain Sassinak.

“Ready for launch Dragon”

He said through the comm , his helmet secured and strapped into the seat tight.

“pod locked, were clear for launch.”

Witch pulled her straps and braced herself after giving Dragon the all clear.

“launching”

Dragon released the landing pads let them retract , the ship hovered in the zero gee for an instant then he pushed the throttle to full, they sped forward and out of the bay, cleared the Goliath and banked outward from the asteroid. He moved the ship around the rock and reduced power. The Peregrine ’glided’ nearly on momentum, as they passed out of Tanis’s shadow.

“Anything so far ‘Spook’ ?”

Dragon use Giles call sign.

“Nothing but rocks so far Sir”

“power up the actives, I need to see where I’m going Spook.”

“yes Sir”

Giles brought the navigation sensors up and placed them on low power, the readout appeared on Dragons forward monitor, relative positions courses and speed of the phalanx of debris surrounding them and Tanis.

“here we go”

Dragon said, then nudged the throttle guiding the ship through the field. Witch and Spook just held on watching as he turned, banked, rotated then burned retros again and again flying past smaller asteroids, then others that could smash them to bits, Sever watched with almost casual interest as she had seen him fly through far thicker, Giles on the other hand was gripping the panel for dear life muttering promises to the lords of Kobol if they let him live through this as he watched their progress on the monitors.

After what seemed like an eternity they cleared the inner edge of the field.

“alright we should be clear of the interference, Spook get our fix for the jump to the Valhalla perimeter”

“Already working on it Dragon”

Giles placed the coordinates in the drive computer and double checked the diagnostic that he had running simultaneously, all looked good. He didn’t want a one way trip like they and CAG had almost had, so he was told, and followed the procedure Masters and Sever gave him. Their smaller ship had to clear the asteroid not having as powerful a system as the Goliath.

“Jump ready Sir”

Giles held tight and concentrated on not vomiting from this second successive jump. As did they all.

“jumping”

Dragon said, as the flash of moving instantly through space yet again enveloped them.

Then there they were, well within their home system, but still far from the inner once habital worlds.

Dragon looked down and saw that his active nav was still on, Giles had failed to go back to passives .

Fortunately the scan was clear. Just in case Dragon switched his nose gun on and the ‘heads up’ display appeared on the helmet visor. The small mini gun tracked with his heads movements, the cross hairs of light like a light green shadow on the plasteel of the visor. They waited several minutes before he pushed the throttle forward and began an approach toward the station.

“any thing on comm Spook?”

“Yes Sir, plenty, all of it Cylon”

Masters and Sever looked at each other, Felgercarb he thought.

“record and decrypt if you can Spook”

“working on it Sir, it all looks like housekeeping chatter so far, nothing to indicate a higher state of alert, and no active sweeps in this area.”

That was odd Dragon thought , surely the Cylons are looking for Valhalla just like we are, unless its already gone. He kept on course and the guns ready, Sever had done the same, bringing the main turrets online and arming the scarabs. If they went straight in it would have taken nearly an hour at their speed to get to Valhalla, but Dragon wanted to cheack the neighborhod first. So they navigated in a tightening circle toward it instead. This allowed Giles to gather as much intel as possible before they got there.

“much of this is normal, they have begun mass landings of troops of occupation on all the Colonies, there’s at least eight Basestars within the system spread out pretty far. A couple have jumped in and out sending reports to one over Caprica, messages about Molecay, and the Vardon sector, and losses. “

“losses!”

Dragon and Witch’s faces went into big grins, Dragon looked back at Witch

“We might not be alone after all, someone must be giving them a hard time if their suffering losses”

“could it be the Galactica?”

Sever asked.

“I doubt it, I mean I wouldn’t put it passed commander Adama, but they seemed more concerned with getting the fleet away from the Colonies.”

Was his asnwer.

“Spook how far is the nearest Basestar?”

“Without an active longe range scan, the comm traffic places the nearest at two hours.”

“that’s not to mention Raider patrols Dragon”

Sever chimed in.

“Dragon that’s weird too, I saw one patrol jump within thirty light minutes, just travel for a few seconds , then jump back out, it didn’t even initiate a scan, just a visual check at best”

Giles observations didn’t help Masters feel any better. This smelled more and more like a trap all the time.

“keep a lock on our jump back to Tanis, enough of this,, if it’s a trap let see if they spring it”

Sever knew that tone of voice,, they were going to get deep in the felgercarb now.

Masters hit retros and pointed the Peregrine toward Valhalla, and pushed the throttle to full, and hit turbo’s as well, their teeth seemed to merge with the back of their heads as they accelerated. After a few minutes they reached full velocity and pressure equalized, and inertia was relieved. Within minutes the low level active scan showed a large object ahead,,, stationary and normal . No sign of explosions, no comm trafffic either.

Dragon slowed their approach. Finally coming within visual range. There it was. C.I.S.A.R station Valhalla spinning normally and in tact and with three old Nebula class cutters attached to the mooring locks.

Sever was the first to say anything.

“As lovely a sight as that is, I just don’t believe it”

( to be continued )