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History's Future, Book One: The Goliath Chronicles

By Kevin Hallesy

Word Count:4,437
Date: 10/29/04
Series: Mini
Rating: K+
Category: AU
Pairing/Focus: Original Characters
Warnings:
Summary:
Spoilers/Disclaimers:


Jeopardy

Three laws of Cylon Intelligence.

1. A Cylon may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A Cylon must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A Cylon must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law

Prologue:

One stood once again on the observation deck atop the great Virgon space elevator. ‘Leo’, the model seven assigned the task of overseeing the ‘live bait’ campaign had given a glowing report that the Guardsman cutter CHYMERA had been destroyed. It had fallen prey to a Cylon controlled passenger liner which had sent out distress signals for the Colonials to hear. The Basestar that responded to the taken liners signal had seen the cutter nearly cut in two from a detonation of its port hanger pod, then their Raiders had nearly sliced its sublight engines off. Badly damaged, it had attempted to jump to escape. Their sensors told them of a massive power spike consistent with a ship imploding in ‘between‘. all evidence indicated the total loss of the ship.

Only one suspected cutter remained. The GRIFFIN. Once located it too would suffer the same fate. As would the Battlestar GALACTICA, and the other rogue Battlestar that had continued to elude their best efforts to locate, or even identify. Other reports were just as encouraging. Sentinels were being constructed in several systems most likely to hold resources the humans would need to look for. As well as at the Gate. The entrance to Damnation alley. The access point to the Nova Madagon. Mine fields were in place at locations suspected of being used as staging areas in adjacent systems. Even their intelligence units were having more luck at breaking these newer Colonial code ciphers. Comm chatter between the humans seemed to indicate an upcoming rendezvous to take place in 20 days. Location was still pending, seems they didn’t want to transmit too much too soon. A wise precaution, but now that they had broken their code, they would be able to be waiting for them there. And finish them off. Something she wanted to see personally. Already plans were in place that would divert much of the Cyrannus forces to be at that meeting, once the location had been intercepted. She paused and gave the Centurions orders to summon the others, a War council would be convened. Plans needed to be made for the final assault.

A cruel smile crept across her face. Yes, soon these local units would be destroyed, then all attention would focus on the GALACTICA. Then victory would be theirs.

******************

Commander Matthew Hawke stood on the C.I.C. of the GOLIATH. His mood was dim, as everyone on the deck could tell. The events of the last two days had been very disturbing. Dr. Russell had shuttled up from the surface with news on the screening project. It seemed she had come up with a positive match for synthetic blood. After taking him and his exec, Colonel Lance Greenlee, Aside in the ward room she had shown them the results.

“I had the results triple checked. It is definite that the sample coded for Ensign Hally is that of a Cylon” she had said. Hawke could not believe it. Their intelligence officer, the one trusted to encrypt and encode all their messages was a Cylon?

“Doctor, you cant be right, if she were a Cylon then why hasn’t she tried to give our position away on the many missions we have used the GOLIATH for?” Colonel Greenlee asked.

“I think I can answer that, but the answer leads to a worse problem I’m afraid.” she said, then handed Hawke another report. He opened it and looked it over. She was right, this led to a bigger puzzle. His head came up.

“Your sure about these results?”

“Oh yes, she was given a thorough exam. Her progress in that area has been confirmed.”

Hawke shook his head. Something was definitely wrong. Obviously the humanoid present within the Colony had finally made its lethal error. Now all Hawke had to do was take advantage of it, in good time.

“String, have Captain Rodo take custody of Ensign Hally immediately. Put her in the brig, she is to have no contact with anyone but me until further notice, noone sees or speaks to her without my authorization.”

Colonel Greenlee stood and saluted, not liking these orders one bit, but having little choice.

“Yes Sir.” then he left the ward room to see that they were carried out.

Once he was gone, Hawke continued his discussion with the Doctor.

“you know what this means don’t you Doctor?”

“Yes Sir, I’ve already thought about it. Once I find the second positive, I’ll let you know.” she nodded and picked up her files, locking them back in her briefcase. Took her leave. Hawke could do nothing now but wait.

***************

In a far off space station called ‘Valhalla’ just within the gas giant known as helios in the Tyran system an old man slept fitfully. Tossing and turning every night ever since their ‘mail’ probe had returned with the disastrous news that the Colonies were under attack by the Cylons.

Dr. Mathias Ravashall was head of the Cybernetics division of the Militechs Research and Development lab here on Valhalla, but 50 years ago on Caprica he was just a young man who thought he knew everything. Those nightmares had returned. In his dreams he was that young man again. A prodigy they said. Able to see code in his mind that could shape computer programs to his whim. Under the tutelage of his mentor Professor Sever he had created several new drone control systems and was working on a new ‘jump’ navigation system. But it was his personal project at that time that was the cause of his current nightmares. He saw the enslavement of the Cylon automatons as evil, and unnecessary. He worked every free moment on a program that would circumvent the known laws and allow the Cylons to choose for themselves what life they would lead. He was happier than words could say when he first tested his program on one of the maintenance centurions. It’s net work connection was gone and it was now free to obey, or not as it saw fit. Just a few days later he had fed the new program into the main Cylon database and control network through a clever hack into the universities main frame. Within hours, the program had spread, Cylons all over the Colonies were ‘free’. he waited and watched the media reports for what he was sure would be a massive strike and work stoppage by the Cylons. His program would allow them to negotiate for equal rights and recognition that they were intelligent entities worthy of citizenship.

His idealism came to a sudden and shocking end as the reports were not that of peaceful and harmless protests by the Cylons he had set free, instead they had came to the logical conclusion that to be truly free, humans mst be removed else they may be enslaved yet again. Or destroyed. Through the best of intentions on the part of a young and naïve student named Ravashall, the first Cylon War was born.

Thousands had died for his idealism, but a reprieve had come when the Cylons had inexplicably ’surrendered’ and moved off out into deep space. They were never heard from again for over 40 years. His guilt remained, but over time he had learned to cope with it, never telling anyone what he had done. Now, here, on Valhalla that guilt had re-emerged with a vengeance. His creation of a free Cylon population had come back to fulfill their directive. Wipe out all of human kind. Once again he was the cause for deaths, billions of them this time. Ever since that probe had returned with news of the Colonies destruction he had pulled his original ’freedom’ program out of storage and all his notes on how to reinstate the 3 laws governor program he had foolishly removed in the first place. Such a task had not , nor would it now prove easy.

He wrote the program to be self replicating and to disguise itself as other programs to keep the Colonial government and military from being able to remove it. Not wanting anyone to be able to undo what he had done, never dreaming that by freeing the Cylons it could lead to anyone being harmed. In those weeks he had revisited all his research and still in the static tests he had had no luck. The ‘Cylon imperative’ program was still completely functional. His creation, no he was the cause of so much death and destruction. It would be up to him to stop them.

Covered in sweat from the nightmare, he woke bolting upright only to find his android attendant ’Cye’ standing over him.

“Good morning Doctor. It is 0700, and your breakfast is ready.”

After a few seconds to orient himself that he was in his bed on Valhalla and not laying in a pool of blood with the screams of a billion souls echoing in his ears for eternity did he put his feet on the cool deck of his quarters.

“Morning Cye, thank you. Would you prepare my lab please.”

“Yes sir, right away. I am to remind you that Professor Sever wished to talk to you this morning.”

DR. Ravashall looked at the Cylon attendant, with no network modem it was a stand alone model, unaffectable by outside interference. And yet in the back of his mind, he was suspicious. If only he had felt this way 50 years ago, there would have been no wars, no billions of deaths on his conscience. He would put things right, somehow.

Lords he hoped that his daughters were not included in those that had been killed. He paused to look at their images on the photo displays on the wall, then shuffled to the table where his breakfast waited.

“Meriko, Kimiko, please forgive me”

******************************************

Chief Sirus Hand ‘Jack’ was like a kid with a new toy. He had gone over the new Raptor checking every system four times. Every available space was fitted with extra consumables, fuel storage was expanded with drop tanks and extra O2 fitted into available locker compartments. Then given it a new paint job with the GOLIATH’s colors. This would be her maiden mission. Jack had made sure it was up to the task of carrying it out. Even if that meant an extended independent recovery effort to determine if the crew of the CHYMERA were indeed lost. CAG, Captain Sassinak, had assigned two new pilots for it. Lt. Golliday, (Chas) , and Ensign Goodrich. (Hot head). Both had experience with Raptors. Chas because he was a relief pilot, having been trained on several classes of ships, and Hot head because he was primarily a Raptor RSO tech on the ARGO before it was destroyed. Until now he was serving as a back up to Lt. Giles for the Peregrine. Now he would have a ship of his own. Both were aboard and going over the preflight check list. Jack hovering like a mother at the hatch.

“this puppy is brand spankin new, I expect you two to take good care of it, Sirs.”

Neither were likely to argue with the tall leonian. He could lift them both with one hand. And probably put them up to their knees in deck if he chose to.

“Not a problem Chief. She wont get a scratch. We promise.” Chas said from the forward pilot seat.

“now could you please close the hatch, or would you care to ride along?”

“no thank you Sir, I’ll just sit this one out.” jack smiled then stepped out onto the deck. The last of the deck gang were pulling the power taps from the Raptor and all was ready to let her fly. The hatch lowered and locked in place. They moved out of the airlock on the launch deck and the huge doors closed. Dropping into place and sealing off the lift.

The Raptor was lifted to the hanger deck and open space after the ceiling doors cycled. Now she rested on the mag pad, ready to carry out it’s mission of seeking the CHYMERA. Chas had been aboard just before her destruction, he had wanted to do more in the protection of the Guardsman cutter but had been ordered to abandon it in order to get reinforcements if possible. Now he would take the Raptor out beyond the red line to an area called point omega. This was a pre-arranged point that any ship facing boarding would jump to. Hawke and Chas both felt that Captain Rath would have taken the CHYMERA there stranding any hostiles well away from the homeworlds.

“Core control transferred, were clear for launch Chas”

“Launching”, then Chas his the throttle and sent the new bird out of the GOLIATH ventral hanger pod, and sped away for its first mission. Hot head rubbed his new ‘Raptor’ patch on his right arm for luck,, then told his pilot the jump engines were ready.

Chas hit the switch and made the jump back out of the Nova, well away from the former location of the great Gate. This was fortunate, as a Basestar with several construction drones were going about their business in the building a new Sentinel post. This activity did not go unnoticed by the Raptors passive sensors, but fearing their jump energy signature could be detected they made the jump in the next leg of their journey back to the far reaches of the Anotian sector where the hanger pod remains of the CHYMERA would be found. This would be their first of several jump points in the journey out to the omega sector. Once the Raptor was launched, jack picked up a newly modified scanner off his tool chest, gave a sigh in resignation and headed forward to the Viper bay. He didn’t look forward to his next task.

******************

Captain Logan Masters was on the Gymnasium deck. He along with several of the Golden Arrow pilots were engaging in their regular P.T. (physical training). After a long series of calisthenics, he was now sparring in the very old hand to hand form of Paren-Ta. ( Warrior Path ) His opponent, Lt. David Travis (Trooper), were circling each other. Travis threw a punch that Masters ducked under, he was forced to hold back considerably, his enhanced reflexes made even the fastest moves made against him seem as slow as molasses. Still, he needed the exercise. Travis tried a spinning back kick, Masters brought up both arms and deflected the perfectly executed move, then countered with a double handed flat palm strike to his chest while he was still in mid air. Travis landed on his backside on the mat hard. Masters moved back into a ready stance, one foot forward and hands raised.

“Frak, Dragon, I thought I had you that time” he said using Masters call sign.

“Pretty close, I felt the breeze from your foot, by the way, you should bathe more often” he said holding his nose for a second. Travis shook his head and lunged quickly at the, what seemed to him, overconfident Captain. Masters, rolled onto his back and quickly placed his feet in Travis’s stomach, then flexing his legs lifted and tossed Travis over and behind him to land flatly on his back at the edge of the mat with a loud ‘thud’

“Damn Trooper, if you cant even take down an old and decrepit pilot like Dragon, maybe I should pick a new assistant CAG”. there standing over Travis’s head was the redheaded Captain and leader of the Golden Arrows, Captain Sassinak.

He just looked up at her.

“Sorry boss, I wont let it happen again” he answered back.

“Come on, were to be on the flight deck in 15, get your flight gear.”

“Yes Sir.” he said through a few gasps. And saluted up to her as he slowly climbed to his feet. ’45 minutes of this abuse was enough anyway’ he thought as he grabbed his towel and headed for the showers.

“I’ll get you next time Dragon” he said as he headed for the hatch.

“I’m sure you will” he answered as he pickup us his water bottle and sat on a nearby bench against the bulkhead. He was just taking a sip when Sever sat down next to him.

She leaned closer so noone else could hear.

“You really need to slow down, even I could barely keep up with some of your moves.”

“I know Mariko, but its getting harder. I react on reflex.”

“that’s fine while flying, but in here we need to be more careful.”

Masters knew she was right. Cyber-viral implants like theirs were legal on many worlds, as were most other forms of bioware. Implanted phones, radios, even watches, as well as glow-skin tattoo’s were very common. As were prosthetic limbs, eyes, and other organs. Other more lethal implants however were outlawed. The reflex and intelligence enhancing implants such as theirs were border line. Legal on some worlds, less so on others, but all strictly controlled, and monitored. People who used such devices were susceptible to something called ‘cyberpsycosis’.

A form of mental disorder similar to a superiority complex, but far worse. It could also make one feel invulnerable, or god like. Without regular treatment, which neither Masters or Sever could seek right now, one had to remain on constant alert to the trouble signs of going over the edge, where your ’humanity’ could slip away. Such cybernetics were once even thought to be a possible answer to the Cylon threat, with enhanced Warriors possessing artificial limbs and ‘jacked up’ reflexes. That was until one day one such experimental Warrior while off duty went on a rampage within a subway system on Tauron. 47 civilians died that day. After the suspect was taken away all he would say as to why he did it was,

“I just reach out and they all like, die”.

Ever since then all such projects were terminated. Only the barest of bioware was permitted on a single person, and then only with pre-screening, licensing, and constant psyche treatments. [ the fate of those warriors who had volunteered and been ’modified’ remained a closely guarded secret. Noone to this day but the presidential cabinet knew their location. ]

“I’ll try to be more careful. Lets hit the track for awhile.” he finally said.

Sever nodded in agreement, they would continue to watch each others back. Neither wanted to have Hawke remove them from duty just because they had been selected for the special flight duty of test pilots. It was the need to be able to push each craft to its utmost limit time and again that made the Implants a necessity. Without them, they could pass out in the severe stresses of fast maneuvers that the testing required. As well as keeping a mental record of each flight in total accuracy.

With that they jogged around the ‘track’ running through the series of long corridors of the Battlecruiser, using the down time provided by the addition of the Raptor to relax for a change.

**************

Careful what you wish for

“Attention on DECK!” came the shout as Captain Sassinak and her wingman Lt. Travis entered the launch deck. The remnants of her demonstration squadron stood at attention in formation awaiting their commander. She walked in front of her unit, 32 total, but only a core of 20 were really from her original stunt team. Others had transferred in due to losses at battles since the fall of the Colonies. But all had been present at the attack on the Sentinel where they seemed to be picked up much sooner that they should have been.

Present also was Commander Hawke, Colonel Greenlee, Captain Rodo (with a security team), and Chiefs Hand and Bishop. The chiefs both held a converted Viper targeting scanner reprogrammed to send Cylon attack frequencies. Most of the unit was in a small back pack, (over one arm on jack due to his size) the main scanner held in one hand about the size of a motion scanner. Once Sassinak did a roll call of her men she and Travis stood in front of the assembly.

“All present and accounted for Sir!” she shouted to Hawke and saluted. He returned her Salute, then gave his orders.

“Stand at ease. Chiefs, run your scans.”

“Yes Sir,” they replied. Jack walked to the Vipers lining the bay. Even the ones in the launch tubes on ready status had been pulled out onto the deck. He would scan these. Chief Bishop activated his scanner and walked around the pilots waving the hand held emitter up and down back and forth. The men and women of the golden Arrows tried to look calm but suspected this was a means by which the humanoid Cylons could be detected, so some were nervous. Hoping that they would not be inadvertently identified as Cylon. Not knowing what the basis for the scan was. Bishop walked between the rows of men, from the back to the front. Jack was making progress as well, but with nothing that indicated Cylon technology.

Just as Bishop was sure there was nothing to be found as he had completed scanning the Arrows, he gave a brief wave of the scanner toward CAG and Travis not even thinking it was necessary, when the scanner let out a shrill squeal.

“what the Frak?” he said, all heard it, Hawke’s eyes locked onto Travis. He gave a hand signal and Rodo with his team aimed their gauze rifles at him.

“Whoa, Wait a second.” Travis was saying raising his hands. Bishop moved closer and waved the scanner again, the same shrill sound was repeated.

“Don’t move lieutenant.” Hawke was saying. Sassinak couldn’t believe it.

“Yes Sir,, I mean I wont Sir” he replied the fear obvious in his voice.

Bishop adjusted the scanner and moved it again over Travis’s body, up one side and down the other, as it got close to his left arm the squeal was heard again.

“It’s not him Sir,, it’s his suit” Bishop concluded. Hawke and Sassinak moved closer and Hawke reached for the pocket just below the GOLIATH patch on his upper arm. Then opened it. There stuck to the material was a small round flat ’button’ like wafer. Hawke pointed at it, bishop held the scanner next to it and there was the shrill sound louder than ever.

“That’s it alright” Bishop finally said.

Hawke’s face went into a frown that could curdle milk. Reached up and yanked the small disk right off taking a piece of the interior flap with it.

“Double check them. Then their Vipers. Then every shuttle on this Ship.” he finally shouted. The anger obvious in his voice. gripping the small coin like object in his fist. He forced himself calm again, but the fury still showed in his eyes.

“Can we scan the whole ship with this sort of system Jack?”

“From a ship yes Sir, The Peregrine would be best suited.” he answered.

“Get on it, I want to make sure the GOLIATH is clean of these things. Then see if there’s a way to scan Valhalla, then the whole Frakkin Colony as well.”

“Yes Sir, we understand. “ Jack said.

All of them did understand, from the pilots to his exec, Colonel Greenlee. They needed to remove any sign of Cylon influence among their people, and their means of protection. Hawke even had second thoughts about keeping the comatose version of ‘Ben’ alive, not to mention ’Ben’ himself. They might be safer with him on a slab than in a cell. Then there was the Ensign Hally matter. That too would need resolving.

Exactly what he would do, he would need to think about when he was calmer. Right now his temper was getting the better of him. His hand gripped the disk so tight now his knuckles were white. He paced as the rest of the scans were completed on the flight deck. No further disks were detected. He marveled that this tiny object almost brought about the death or capture of their entire squadron of Vipers. He Would Not allow that to happen again.

He thought about Ben again,,

“Captain Rodo, take Bishop down to the surface, scan Ben and his cell, make sure he’s not carrying one of these things.”

“Right away Sir.” he waved to Chief Bishop, then they headed for the airlock deck and got on his radio to flight control to request a shuttle be made ready for launch. The Tall Exec walked over to Hawke,

“All clear Sir, that must have been the only one.”

“Good, but how did it get on his uniform?, do a full debrief, I want to know his movements for at least a week prior to that mission.” String nodded and told Captain Sassinak to dismiss her team, except Travis.

***************************

Captain Rena (Chyna) Marro was tucked snugly between a bulkhead, and one of two main energizers in the engineering section of the WARLOCK. She along with Lt Pike and his tech gang were trying to fit a class 4 tylium burning fusion reactor into a compartment originally built to hold a tri-ionic one. A head ache at the best of times. These were not the best of times. Pike had promised their commander Colonel Lennox that he would have the Provider class tender ready for launch in just 14 more days. As they got into the ship and began trying to refit the systems they had run into more and more problems. Conduits and power lines were more corroded than he had expected. Many had burned out and even caused a small fire on the living deck.

Weapons repairs were proving equally as difficult. With the rail guns magnetic coils nearly useless they had to be pulled and stripped, nearly starting from scratch. Pike had tried to oversee their reconstruction, but a test burn of the thrusters had nearly proven fatal to the antiquated vessel. The forward port thrust port had exploded removing a section of the hull. He had completed the thruster repair, but that had left the rail guns in the hands of his less experienced teams, they had begun the refit, but static tests showed some coils were aligned the wrong way. They had to be pulled a second time.

If their schedule was to be met to rendezvous with the Battlestar PEGASUS to refuel them in 16 days, they would definitely need more help. He now had almost half of the ITHACA crew working like ants over the exterior and interior of the old ship.

“We have got to align these plasma conduits if were going to get this thing off the ground” Marro said to the young scrounger.

“Yes Sir, I know that, Poole and Coy are working on it, it’s the injectors that I’m worried about. We need to pull some from the Valhalla stores again.”

She said with a smile.

“You mean see if there’s a ship with compatible ones you can, ah, liberate”

He just grinned and lifted an eyebrow.

“I have no idea what you mean, Sir”

“Well don’t get caught this time, even Commander Landis is getting tired of your little supply runs, I don’t think were going to talk him out of charges next time”

“He’ll never know we were there, Sir”

“He better not. Now,” she pushed a set of optic cables into the control servos of the energizer. “how soon do you really think we can launch?”

He paused for an exhaustive period.

“with the extra crews we have now, I think we’ll still launch on time, the paint on the hull may still be wet, but we’ll launch Sir.”

“Good, if the Skipper has to sit dirt side for too much longer I think he’ll go crazy.”

“Him and me both Sir. I think this is the longest I’ve been on a planet my entire life. I’m a native “Elevatorian” you know.” Pike double checked that the power plant was tied into the bridge and secondary control sub systems,, then began a pressure test of the fuel flow lines.

“So that’s where your ’acquisition skills’ come from.” Marro said. Those that live and work on the Virgon Space Elevator often had to make due with what they had, or find ways to acquire what they needed. Pike just smiled in response. He had always felt that deep down, he was an engineer first, warrior second. But that didn’t mean he should deny himself some ’creature comforts’. others seemed content to just have what the service provided, but he always seemed to have his quarters (such as they were) a little bit more comfortable than the others. Need a new set of blankets,, ask Pike, want a copy of the last Triad championship games from Libron? Ask Pike, yes there was little he couldn’t find (or make if need be) to trade for whatever his ship and crew needed. A real asset at times like these.

Marro finished the connections she was working on then backed out of the compartment.

“I’ll let the Skipper know then that you think the situation is still under control.”

She returned his salute as she climbed out of the access hatch.

“Thank you Sir.”

After extricating herself from the tight confines (especially for her as she was larger than most humans) of the engine compartment she brushed off her uniform and headed for the bridge.

********************

Hawke had ordered a complete halt on all traffic going to and from the GOLIATH until the complete scan could be completed. Jack had spent the last day preparing the modified scanner that would allow a full all over scan of the entire ship. Then it had to be installed aboard the Peregrine. Everything was ready.

“I’ve tied the Cylon target scanner into your long bow antenna, that should give you the cleanest read, so if there’s anything to be found, that should do it Captain.” Jack informed the Peregrine C.O. over the ground crew comm.

“Thank you Jack. We’ll start with the interior of the bay itself. Just to be sure theirs nothing on the other shuttles.”

“Roger that.” came the reply.

“All systems are ready back here Dragon.” Spook was in the rear compartment and had the full electronics package powered up. He was not in the best of moods ever since finding out that Ens. Hally was in the brig, under guard. He had tried to see her but was turned away. Only the Commander could authorize visits, and his request was rejected. He had become very fond of Kristen, they had become closer than he had ever thought he could be. Just when he felt he may be able to commit to just a single woman, she gets taken from him. He had no illusions as to why she had been placed in confinement. Scuttlebutt was that she was being held on suspicion of being a Cylon.

He didn’t believe that for a second. He had been with her, intimately. Cylons may be able to copy our appearance, but he doubted they could program a replicant with our passion, our emotions. No, no matter what any test showed he knew she had to be human. He had to believe that no matter what. Whether it was from ego that he could be fooled by a robot, or from true depth of emotion, well that was debatable.

“Fire it up then Spook” Came the Captains reply.

Dragon sat in the cockpit watching the target display switch over to the Cylon frequency. The 3 dimensional image of the hanger appeared on the heads-up display of his visor. So far no active ping of a resonance disk came back. The white vertical line moved slowly from left to right across his field of vision indicating the progress of the scan. It passed over the shuttles, then the ‘fuel mules’, then the dropships. Then over the shrikes and Vipers. Finally completing the circle. They were all clean.

Both let out an audible sigh of relief.

“Increase power, lets try for the whole port side”

“Roger that, resetting system”

The hanger being in the retracted position in the center of the ship made doing the internal scan that much easier. Spook restarted the scan, the pulses of the Cylon sensor passed through the hulls going from bow to stern slowly, Spook and Dragon watching for the slightest hint of a return echo.

“Sir, what’s to keep us from picking up the disk found on Trooper?”

“It’s locked up in a lead vault in the research bay. Jack did a test with the hand held unit to make sure it couldn’t be detected even at close range.”

“then the GOLIATH is safe from it as long as it’s the only one.”

“Correct. Port side’s almost done. Get ready to reset to scan the starboard.”

“I copy. What happened on the surface? Did Ben have one of those disks?”

“Not that Captain Rodo could find. Even with a scanner. If he did, he may have planted it here aboard the GOLIATH.”

“No wonder the Commander wanted her scanned so badly”

“Exactly Lieutenant. Reset for another pass.”

“Confirmed, port side clean, ready to scan starboard.”

“Proceed.”

Both watched anxiously as the scan proceeded down the starboard (right) side of the ship. Dragon knew Colonel Greenlee was waiting for their preliminary report in C.I.C. and he wanted to be able to tell him the GOLIATH was free of any extra means by which the Cylons could detect them. Seconds passed, finally the scan cycle was complete. Nothing had been detected inside the ship. Dragon opened the external comm and called to the exec in C.I.C..

“Dragon to command, scan complete. Nothing to report. Request launch procedure.”

Roger that Peregrine 1, good to hear. Beginning launch cycle. Venting the bay.”

The lights on the hanger bay went dark, and claxons sounded in the empty bay. Seconds passed and the red lights indicating the bay had been spaced. Now the motors hummed that extended the hanger from the belly of the great ship. Once down it locked in place and space was before them. Dragon looked out the cockpit at the massive maw of the hanger, released the mag lock and retracted the landing gear.

“Core control transferred to dropship. Launch when ready” came the command from the flight officer Captain Winger.

“Launching” said Dragon as he pushed the throttles forward. They cleared the outer marker and he put the ship into a tight right bank. Cut the thrust and hit the reverse thrusters. They now sat just to port of the massive hull.

“Direct the scan to starboard only, I’ll keep her to that side for the full circle, let me know the instant we pick up a positive reaction.”

“Roger that Sir.”

The Peregrine then began a slow pass over the hull of the GOLIATH. For the next several minutes they moved to the bow, then around it and down the other side. Still there was no reaction from the scanners. Minutes seemed to stretch to hours, as they moved from one side to the other, then back behind the inert thrusters of the Battlecruiser. Then they did a dorsal pass, from stern to bow, then a ventral pass on a reverse course. Spiraling to cover every bit of the ship, the scanners penetrating to the very core of the vessel. Finally they completed the full pre-determined course and moved back to landing position on the outer marker.

“Peregrine 1 to GOLIATH. Scan complete, there’s not an inch we didn’t cover, and I am happy to report, we did not find a Frakkin thing”

“Roger that Peregrine, permission to land is here by given, and then, I’m buying”

Came Colonel Greenlee’s answer.

“on my way Sir” Dragon answered and gave the thrusters a nudge putting them back in the hanger bay. Wingers voice then came back on the line.

“Peregrine one, permission to land on pad alpha 6 is given”

That came as a surprise to Dragon. Pad alpha 6 is the one Jack had been trying to modify to house the Peregrine so it could be lowered to the launch deck.

“Confirm that flight, did you say pad alpha 6?”

“that an affirmative Dragon, pad alpha 6”

“Copy that. Alpha 6 it is” he guided the ship over the new pad, it was now the only one lit and shined with fresh paint. On the lower corner he thought he could just make out the words, “Dragons Lair”. the landing gear touched the deck and the mag locks took hold.

“Solid stow, stand by to retract pad.” came the flight officers voice.

Then the deck moved down into the depths of the hanger pod. Red light flashed their warning as the section of the deck lowered, the doors above them closed to make the hanger deck a solid platform once again. Then the Peregrine on its pad stopped. In front of them yellow lights moved like a filling glass up both sides of the huge doors that separated them from the rest of the launch bay. Once to the top the lights went green and the floods came on.

“Airlock pressurized Dragon.”

Spook reported seeing the atmosphere sensor go green in the RSO console. Then as he finished the shut down the bay door lifted upward to reveal Jack and his gang applauding as the Peregrine appeared for the first time on the launch deck. Even Dragon was smiling, this was no small accomplishment, and there next to Jack stood Sever and Hawke. They too were clapping and cheering. When the ship was shut down Masters and Giles climbed down from the Peregrine and walked over to share in the celebration. Seems with the completion of the hanger lift for the Peregrine, and the negative scan results that showed the GOLIATH was a bit safer, they finally had something to celebrate.

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Captain Rath had seen better days. Now in the cargo compartment of the Colonial Marine Command ship ‘Mako’ along with the surviving members of his crew, they were drifting unpowered on a course that would take them to the closest point to one of the GOLIATH’s probes jump points. They had given the engines a long burn to put them at speed before cutting power after their escape from the remains of their cutter the CHYMERA.

As he lay there unwashed and half starved he thought back to how they had made it this far. The Cylons had broken through the hatch into the bridge. Rents and tears in the armor plate of the door and bulkhead as they shot their way through.

“Blow the computers, NOW!” he shouted to his flight officer who was standing by the charges connected to the control station to the jump engine control system. Within a second a high pitched whine filled the deck and they all scrambled for cover. Just as the first centurion put his head through the hatch the charges detonated. Shrapnel and parts of the command computers flew everywhere.

“You hear that you Frakkin tin-heads? Now were all stranded.”

A cruel smile crossed Captain Rath’s face.

“Centurion Hold!” came a woman’s voice from out in the corridor.

The centurions arm folded upward with a loud click as its weapons went to stand by.

Then the Woman’s voice returned.

“just what does that mean human?”

“It means we just destroyed this vessels only jump computer, and your ship along with the port bay no longer exists. Oh did I mention, we jumped to the galactic core just before making us completely immobile.”

“You wouldn’t do that, not without a means of escape.”

“In case you hadn’t noticed we don’t carry Vipers, our Shrikes escaped during your attack, and we have no other shuttles. Were here for the duration. And, by the way, in less than 30 minutes our Tylium tanks go up as well. Not even you can find all the charges in time.”

The number six at the door was amazed and afraid, she had never believed a human would be capable of such martyrdom.

“Centurion, open the hatch”

The tall automaton complied pushing the door open fully. The number six followed and entered the bridge looking for the humans. Seeing just 4 still alive crouched behind the consoles. Then she saw the navigation and helm stations. Ruined. The engineering displays, red lined, and critical. Implosion was inevitable at this point. Taking in all the displays at remarkable speeds. Damage control: life support failing, flight control: port hanger pod gone. Starboard hanger vented and damaged beyond repair. Except for one old type I shuttle.

‘The human had lied, they did have a means of escape. If they could get to it and it was still operational. “they can stay here and die a slow death then” she thought to herself.

“Centurion send a recall, have all units report to the starboard bay immediately.”

“By your command” came it’s response. Then they retreated leaving the Captain and his crew to die in the cutters fuel cells explosion.

His exec was the first to say anything.

“Did they just cut and run?”

“could be, lets find out.” Came Rath’s reply. Then he tossed a grenade out through the hatch. Shortly followed by an explosion. Then nothing.

“I guess they did.”

He came out from behind a console and moved to a weapons locker in the port bulkhead, punched in a release code and the door popped open. They started reaching for small arms and some more grenades as well as a couple of satchel charges. After they had all locked and loaded, they moved closer to the ruined hatch.

“ok, we need to get to cargo bay 7, between the main engines and in less than 25 minutes.”

Garab had to ask.

“Why there? shouldn’t we be trying to get to shuttle 1 before the tin heads do?”

“Wouldn’t do us any good, no more than it will do them, it only has half a load of fuel and no jump engines, we used those for some of our rabbit probes.”

“then what the Frak are we going to a cargo hold for? What about the escape pods?”

“those wont last long enough, but what’s in bay 7 will”

“What’s in bay 7?” his exec asked.

A big smile came over Rath’s face.

“A Manta, bay seven is the largest bay that opens into space. I had it parked in there, just in case.”

The others smiled as well. A Manta was a Marine command and control ship, used to transport troops and act as a ground command station during off-world action. It could maintain four squads of men for a month when fully provisioned. And many had jump capability. They had hoped their Captain had one of those.

“Before you ask, no the Mako does not have its jump engines.”

Their enthusiasm faltered, but it was better than blowing up with the CHYMERA.

They made their way through the ship, finding many of the crew dead, whole sections had been ripped open and exposed to space. Emergency bulkheads had closed. They did manage to find several survivors, almost 60 in all. He led them to the bay that held their only means of escape. Punched in a command code that would release the reinforced doors and give them access to the Mako. As burned beaten and bruised as they were they were happy to see it.

“Lets get aboard.”

That was days ago, perhaps weeks, it was hard for them to tell. Food and water was rationed immediately. For it to last long enough for them to reach a Rabbit probe scan point to be picked up by the GOLIATH it could take weeks, or even months if at all. All they could do was drift ever forward, and hope, and pray. They could be all be drifting into eternity in their own tomb if they weren’t found. Rath tried not to think of that as he drifted off to sleep again.

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