Story Title: Earth 2010 - The Colonies of Kobol Reunited
Author's Name: Matt Manni
Word Count: 113,019
Series: Battlestar Galactica-Reimagined
Category: Sci Fi Action Stories
Pairing or Focus: ????
Summary: After years on the run from the Cylons, the fleet finally arrives at Earth in the year 2010.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Raptor 2 materialized from its jump and immediately initiated a dradis sweep. Lt. Elyssa DeAlma, call sign Poseidon studied her screen intently, her ECO eyeing his screen also. A planetary mass immediately was detected; a smaller satellite orbited the planet. “Poseidon, I have a bead on a small planetary mass, Equatorial radius of 1137 km. Mean density reads 2060 kg/m3.” Reported the ECO.
“Is that the only planet in the system?” DeAlma switched screens to get a better look at what the ECO was seeing himself.
“Negative…looks like we've got at least nine planetary bodies orbiting a yellow star measuring 696,000 km. There are numerous satellites thrown in to the mix. Great place for the toasters to hide a Basestar.”
“I don't think so…. We made a big jump. Do we have anything on coms?” Typing a series of keystrokes, a small beeping indicated that they indeed were receiving a broadcast.
“Holy Frak, I'm picking up a signal. It is not a voice, but something I can download. I'm not sure if we will be able to decipher on board, or something GALACTICA can do. I'm recording now, as well as getting a layout of this system.”
“I'm marking the coordinates. We're running low on fuel, let's jump back with what we have.” said Poseidon as she prepared her preflight for hyper-light jump. “You done back there yet?” asked Poseidon anxiously. “I want to get out of here.”
“Transmission completely downloaded, I'm ready anytime you are, Captain.” replied the ECO. With that, Raptor 2 jumped out the area back towards the fleet.
Six hours after landing aboard the GALACTICA, the transmissions recorded by Raptor 2 were fully analyzed. In the CIC, Admiral Adama and President Laura Roslin stood anxiously as they studied the COM officer's facial expression. He replayed the signal on his headset, and viewed the schematics on his screen several times. His face was ashen when he turned to Adama.
“Admiral, this transmission is visual. The above message gives a few simple facts about humanity and its knowledge; from left to right are numbers from one to ten, atoms including hydrogen and carbon, some interesting molecules, DNA. There is a diagram of a humanoid with description, basics of the solar system that Raptor 2 jumped into, and basics of the planet based telescope that sent this signal…Admiral this transmission states that it originates from Earth!”
“Good Lords,” gasped Roslin. “All this time searching…” her voice trailed off. Adama turned towards his XO. “Colonel Tigh set condition one throughout the ship, I want all ships in the fleet on alert with preset jump coordinates at the ready.”
“Admiral, you are going to send a recon patrol to confirm that this indeed is the star system that the 13th tribe fled to, are you not?”
“Madam President, we currently sit less than 50 light years from Raptor 2's last position in that system, with no idea how far behind us the Cylons are. Before I do anything I need to ensure we don't lead the Cylons to this location.” Turning back to the XO Adama orders the Cylon in custody escorted to CIC immediately.
Captain Matthew Lensherr and an obviously pregnant D'Anna Biers who wore manacles around her wrists only walked into the CIC in the company of two armed Marines. “Captain, I don't recall asking for you.” Said Adama, glancing up from a clipboard containing data. “It doesn't matter I suppose, it may be beneficial to what I'm about to say.” Adama proceeded to reveal what Raptor 2 had discovered. The crude diagram was shown to them both, as well as the message contained.
“You realize of course, Admiral that you must not lead the Cylons to this star system!” said D'Anna, looking uncomfortable. Adama turned towards the closest Marine and instructed him to remove her wrist shackles. Lt Russell Smith complied, and kept his hand on his holstered sidearm as a precaution.
“The Cylons had most of the information we had on the constellations leading to Earth thanks to Dr. Baltar. I think it's fair to say that they will eventually get to where we currently are.” said Adama.
“Admiral, you must lead them away from this location. If they reach Earth, then they will send every Basestar in the Galaxy to exterminate them. One lone Battlestar will not even delay the inevitable for a moment.”
“You have been with us for 6 months now and obviously will be bearing a half human child.” began the Admiral, stealing a glance at Lensherr. “You have been extremely cooperative, and have provided valuable intelligence on Cylon military protocol. From the Cylon viewpoint, what would you be doing if you were still with them at this very moment?”
“Despite your best attempts, we had always picked up some residual trail of the fleet's position. A colonial transponder detected faint but always there. By the time the raider would return to its base ship to report its finding the fleet would be gone by the time the base ship could jump to that location. It is time consuming, but eventually a trail is ultimately picked up.”
“So we're Fraked then!” interjected Lensherr. “Eventually they will track us to our current location!”
“Admiral would you be willing to accept a recommendation from the enemy?” said D'Anna ignoring her lover's outburst.
“Go on!” replied Adama gravely.
“I have no desire to be ‘boxed,' Admiral. I love Matthew and bear his child much to your chagrin. I would not wish to see either harmed. The Cylons are wrong when it comes to the human problem…their term, not mine. We fear that you will seek retribution on us for our near-extermination of your race, and perhaps someday you will when you have grown in numbers. I have aligned myself with your fight for survival. Your survival ensures my survival, as well as Matthew's and our unborn child. You must lead the Cylons away from our present position, and do so soon!”
“How do you propose we do that?” snapped President Roslin, her dislike and distrust for D'Anna evident.
“In the past, a Colonial transponder has always been your dead giveaway. For fleet accountability and security, each ship must have one, and keep it activated. This serves to expose your position as well. I suggest sending a ship on multiple jumps far away from this sector; upon completion of each jump, they would broadcast an amplified burst of transponder signal to simulate multiple Colonial vessels. This may lead the Cylons far enough away in the completely opposite direction of the system that Raptor 2 jumped to.”
“Why use a civilian ship, and not a more maneuverable Raptor?” asked Tigh.
“From my knowledge of Raptor systems, they lack a sufficient power source to boost the transponder transmission that a much larger vessel would easily produce. Remember, we have to amplify it further in order for it to appear that the entire fleet is making these jumps.” replied D'Anna.
After a few moments of silent reflection, Admiral Adama finally spoke. He looked intently at D'Anna, and using her name for the very first time since she came aboard, he spoke up. “D'Anna, I happen to agree with everything you just said, I can think of no other alternative for luring them away. At this time, I will lift my restrictions on your freedom aboard this ship. With the exception of critical areas such as flight bays, weapons lockers, engineering and the CIC, I will allow you access outside of your cell. From this moment on, you are no longer a prisoner. You obviously threw your lot in with us wretched humans,
and if not for your assistance back on that Cylon outpost, and subsequent assistance tactical-wise, we would not be here today.”
This revelation brought about a horrified glare from the President, who clearly did not like or trust the Cylon. Her professionalism kept her from speaking out on this issue until she had Adama in private and a word with him she would have.
“Captain Lensherr…I want you coordinating with Apollo on this. I am not throwing away one of the civilian ships, we are catastrophically close to being overcrowded as it is. Select a ship with the least population; temporarily assign them throughout the fleet until their ship returns.”
“Aye aye, sir…and thank you, sir!”
“Thank you for what Captain?” asked Adama.
“D'Anna's release, sir.”
Adama pushed his glasses up onto his forehead and wiped his eyes. “Captain, at this point, I think it's obvious where her loyalties lie. Athena too was held in custody for an even longer period. What the Cylons called a flawed series, I call hope for humanity. See that my good will isn't squandered, because if she isn't what we think her to be she will be air locked without hesitation.”
“D'Anna is the real deal. Admiral!” replied Lensherr coming to attention, snapping off a stiff salute.
“She had better be…for all our sakes.
“You know the drill, Starbuck…Raptor 3 will keep a tight fix on our location, Raptor 6 will stay fixed on Raptor 3, you will jump to the selected coordinates, deploy a drone and from there jump with the civilian ship to its first pre-selected coordinates. The civilian ship will release an amplified transponder burst at each jump. If there are any Cylons in the sector, they will pick up the trail and hopefully follow it.”
Lt. Kara Thrace; call sign Starbuck was already in her tight-fitting flight suit. Her long blond hair tied tightly in a ponytail. She was a viper pilot assigned to blue squadron, but for a mission of this importance she was chosen to fly the Raptor. She listened intently to Apollo's last minute instructions on her mission.
“After 12 successive jumps, I am to backtrack through my deployed drones and the two Raptors, Colonial transponders both switched off to avoid cross contaminating the false trail. You had better tell the Fraking Viper jocks to confirm identification through visual before pulling their little triggers. I will be seriously pissed if some hotshot sends any rounds downrange at me, or the civilian ship!”
“After you leave, all Colonial Transponders will be immediately shut off throughout the fleet. They are all in a tight formation around the GALACTICA, with all Viper squadrons flying a protective ring. Don't Frak up your plotted coordinates, if you're off then you will have no way to get back with us.”
“You just make sure your own pilots don't blow my ass out of the sky upon my arrival!” snapped Starbuck as she slipped her hands into her gloves, and stepped through the Raptor's hatch.
“And what a lovely ass it is Lieutenant, good hunting!” saluted Apollo.
Starbuck piloted her raptor away from the GALACTICA and rendezvoused with the civilian vessel Striker that was outfitted with amplification equipment for its mission. Both vessels jumped out of sight instantly. From that moment on, the fleet shut down all transponders, and went dead in space. The wait would be long.
Admiral William Adama studied the diagram allegedly sent from Earth. It offered no concrete clues as to how advanced they were, or when this signal was sent. He knew he would have to put a plan into operation from when they would reach Earth. He just could not jump into orbit and say, “we're here!” Would they be technologically advanced enough to even detect the approach of a Battlestar, much less one sitting in orbit? News of the fleet's proximity to Earth would have to be kept quiet from everyone who was not in the two-dozen or so personnel in the need to know category. Otherwise, he could risk a riot aboard every vessel due to people wanting to go down to earth. It was understandable they had been cramped into ships never intended for prolonged space flight, denied the basics of life they enjoyed on the 12 worlds, and then very briefly on New Caprica. No, he would have to plan meticulously; he was soon interrupted by a knock at the door.
“Enter.” He barked. President Roslin walked in; her green eyes stood out like sparkling emeralds from across the room, an extremely attractive and powerful woman. Right now, she was not very happy.
“I hope I'm not intruding, Admiral!”
“Nonsense, Madam President. I was informed that your shuttle had come aboard, and thought you might be stalking my way!”
“Pardon my bluntness, Laura…but I'm well aware that you are not in agreement with my decision to release D'Anna Biers to a more liberal span of freedom aboard my ship.”
“So we're now on a first name basis with that thing?”
“Laura…I'm very much aware of what you endured on New Caprica while in Cylon custody. I made a military decision, and you will have to abide by it. You and I made that compromise upon fleeing the holocaust. All decisions military are made by me. ”
“Fair enough Admiral, but don't think for a minute that I trust her, pregnant or not. Gods, why can't your pilots keep their dicks in their pants?” William Adama rarely heard Laura Roslin speak like that. He knew she was capable, but rarely had he heard it. He laughed loudly until a tear formed in his eye.
“Laura, she has been an incredible help, and if we pull off this plan of luring the Cylons away with a false trail than we will all be indebted to her.”
“Well I hope she isn't playing us Bill, because I don't need any excuse to airlock that Fraking toaster!” Adama produced a bottle of blue liquid and poured it into two small glasses. Handing one to Laura he took a sip. It was smooth going down, but packed one hell of a kick if drank too quickly. Laura rolled the liquid around in her glass, and then looked at Adama. “So do you think they have any decent booze on Earth?”
“I sincerely hope so!” laughed Adama.
“So here's my plan, Madam President…when we confirm which planet is Earth, I'm going to send the stealth raptor in on recon. I want to keep the fleet far enough away from the planet to prevent detection. The raptor will act like a vacuum sucking up all the transmissions from the planet and relaying them to the GALACTICA in order for us to evaluate their level of advancement.”
“Sounds good so far what are your plans for making our presence known?” asked Roslin.
“Most likely contact the planet's leader, providing there is one. If there are multiple leaderships, than I will have to consider other criteria. There won't be a Battlestar coming in for a flashy landing, if anything I would send an envoy, one military and one civilian…the civilian being you of course to meet with the leadership of Earth.
“And hope the 13th tribe welcomes its long lost brothers and sisters?” said Roslin taking another sip.
“Something like that.” smiled Adama.
In the CIC, passive Dradis sweeps confirmed the presence of every Colonial vessel in a tight formation around the aging Battlestar. All colonial transponders had been shut off, and the sweeps detected the presence of a space ship, but not its identification. Any sweep that produced a differing count would immediately trigger an alert of possible Cylon penetration. The fleet would remain dark until the return of the STRIKER and Starbuck's Raptor from their mission.
“Dradis report.” snapped the XO.
“Passive sweep is clear sir. All ships accounted for and in their assigned position. Viper squadrons all accounted for.” Replied Gaeta .
“Alright, enter it into the log. We must remain alert at all times people.” said Tigh walking across the bridge, a mug of steaming coffee in his hands. “We're looking at another 24 hours until the Raptor and STRIKER return. Stay Sharp!”
Jump number 11 went off identical to the first 10. Starbuck was getting stiff in her lower back. Long jumps like these were not necessarily brutal, but each jump had to be painstakingly checked, and rechecked. There was no room for any error whatsoever. All communications between the raptor and STRIKER were made possible by visual pulses of light using standardized sequences of short and long elements to represent the letters, numerals, punctuation and special characters of a message. There could be no wireless at all.
All chances of exposing themselves to nearby Cylons had to be aggressively fought at all times. This only added to mental fatigue.
“Frak is my back killing me, Helo.” complained Starbuck. Her Electronic Countermeasures Officer just cocked his head and smiled. “One more jump and we're clear to return Kara.” replied Karl Agathon, call sign Helo.
“This had better work! Gods forbid we lead the Cylons to Earth and they aren't advanced enough to defend themselves,” complained Starbuck. She was tired, but the survival of the fleet, and the 13th tribe on Earth depended on her doing her job without error. She waited the allotted time then signaled the STRIKER to prep for their 12th jump; she flashed them the coordinates, and awaited confirmation from the STRIKER numeral for numeral.
After a short pause the Striker's Captain repeated the jump coordinates, and synchronized times with the Raptor. As soon as they materialized in the new sector, the STRIKER transmitted an amplified signal burst simulating transponders for the entire Colonial fleet.
Dozens of light years away Leoben Conoy locks eyes with two of the Cavil models, all three Cylons had their hands in the thick computerized fluids that filled the control panel of the immense Basestar. “Are you picking the signal up also?” he said.
The Cavils looked at each other, then the one directly opposite Leoben spoke. “The signal is extremely faint, but even at maximum distance it has been identified as Colonial transponders.”
“Plotting an intercept course.” replied Leoben.
Lieutenants Mark Sarnex and Brendan Costanza sat in the seats of their stealth Vipers. The three Voram engines on each viper whined loudly as the prepared to be sent hurtling down the launch tubes. Normally white with red trim and squadron insignia, these Mark II Vipers were flat black, and the canopy was tinted slightly darker. These two Vipers were part of the ten Vipers newly built from materials obtained by the Cylon outpost months back. These fresh Vipers could not have come at a better time, for the GALACTICA was sorely short on combat ready Vipers. Very few were in better than ‘good' condition. There was no longer a manufacturing facility on Caprica that turned out Vipers by the hundreds, and there were very few Mark VII Vipers left either. With the help of the Pegasus deck gang, the GALACTICA was able to build a small-scale manufacturing plant. It went unused due to lack of materials to build a Viper. That all ended when the GALACTICA took out the Cylon outpost.
The Landing Signal Officer (LSO) after confirming that the Viper was set to launch threw the switch that activated the magnetic catapult, which throws the Viper out at a great speed. After clearing the GALACTICA, the two Vipers form up on each other and approach the Raptor on its port side. Opening a COM frequency, Sarnex contacts Athena. “Vipers 2212 and 2213 on your port wing, Athena.”
“Message received, Nightstalker. Stay on my eight o'clock and kick in the burn.” The three ships made their way free of the protection of Earth's moon and headed straight for Earth's orbit. The ships gently shuddered as the gravitational pull increased.
The beauty before her awed Sharon , a blue ocean, incredible landmasses, was this too good to be true she mused. Helo, her ECO and father of her half-human half Cylon child prepared his equipment, after doing the appropriate checks, he reports all is ready. Her dradis is clear, and she drops further into Earth's atmosphere. The two Vipers pull back and return to orbit.
“Sharon I'm beginning the scan, multiple transmissions via surface to orbit, most likely orbiting satellites; I have troposcatic transmissions and various other signals. The computer is recording them, and cataloging them by method of transmission.” Informed Helo.
“Very good, Dradis is clear; our current altitude is 30 km above the surface.
Captain Yu pulled his Chengdu J-50 fighter into a steep climb. The jets thundered and the energy coursing through his body was electric. He commanded the most powerful jet fighter ever conceived by Chinese design. Today was a live fire drill, and on each wing was located an air-to-air missile. His target would be a remote controlled Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19. He was to overtake and destroy the target.
“Hardly a worthy adversary, an antiquated Russian Mig from the 1950's.” thought Yu with a tinge of disgust. “Give me an American Raptor in my gun sights any day!” He banked hard and headed in the direction of the Mig, and increased his speed to Mach 2.
Yokota Airbase , Japan .
Colonel Paul Allen is briefed on the current situation in his backyard; he enters General Hayworth's office.
“General, our AWACS are tracking that new Chinese fighter they've been trying to keep quiet about. Looks like he is on some live fire drill over their coast. We have a track on him.”
“What do we have in the area?”
“We have four F-22's enroute to SK for a joint training session with one of their squadrons.”
“Those slant eyed bastards have been trying to rattle their sabers for some time now, they have a new toy and are trying to demonstrate its prowess by holding a live fire exercise that far out from…what's that base again, Jinzhou Airbase??”
“I'd like to send them a real fighter to test their mettle on. See how fast one of our Raptors sends one of their new toys in the drink!” laughed Allen.
“Keep an eye on them Paul, have the AWACS use their heads. We don't need a repeat of that 2001 business over the South China Sea.”
Athena had dropped further into Earth's atmosphere unchallenged. She was collecting extremely valuable and copious amounts of intelligence. She could have used two more Raptors to help. The dradis warning chirped in her ear. “What have you got Helo?”
“I have two contacts bearing 4.0 moving at high speed in our direction.”
“Have we been spotted?”
“Unknown, but target two is closing fast on target one. Wait…he launched a missile, its locked on target one…no effort is being made to evade the shot.”
“Oh Frak, what have we gotten ourselves into? Okay, start shutting down, we'll re-enter orbit and transmit what we have to GALACTICA.”
As the two prepared to leave the airspace Yu's missile streaked toward the Mig drone at high speed. It slammed into the port engine causing instant destruction. “Yes!” Yu through clenched teeth. The new missile was extraordinarily fast, much faster than what the rest of the air force currently had on their rails. He increased speed and turned left to avoid flying through the debris field. A glint at one o'clock high caught his attention; he was not alone out here. How did he not pick up an intruder on his radar, more importantly…why had the coastal defense radars not alerted him to the presence of another plane? He decided to take a closer look.
“Oh Frak we've been made!” yelled Helo. Incoming bogey, no doubt he must have got a visual on us!”
Athena swore silently to herself and pulled back hard on the yoke, putting as much space between her Raptor and that Earth plane as possible. She throttled up, and the Colonial Raptor started to race for the upper atmosphere. The Chinese fighter followed suit at Mach 2.5.
Yu's anger started to bubble to the surface as he pushed his fighter even faster on a steep vertical climb. The damned Americans he thought, they think they own every aspect of the skies, and dared to intrude on Chinese airspace, he thought. Why had he not been warned by the base, why are there no alert fighters coming to his aid? The Americans were spying on their new strike fighter, and this intruder was obviously a reconnaissance plane with stealth technology. He was not going to allow his top secret testing to reach the Pentagon. This American dog would not get home today. He was trespassing in sovereign Chinese air space; he would be well within his right to shoot it down. He opened up communications with the base.
“Strike prototype two to Golden Dragon, I have discovered unidentified surveillance plane monitoring exercises…he's making a break for it, I am in pursuit.”
The officer in charge at the Jinzhou Xialingzi Airbase, code named Golden Dragon was confused. Nothing had penetrated their defensive radar perimeter. Even an American Stealth plane would have produced an extremely short ‘glitch” that only the most season radar officer could possibly detect, and those were definitely on duty for that very reason with the testing of their newest aircraft. Security was paramount.
“Prototype 2, this is Golden Dragon, we have nothing on our radar. Can you confirm?”
“Golden Dragon, I have visual only, my radar is not picking them up. It is clearly an aircraft, black in color, two engine aircraft…extremely fast and attempting to flee.”
Shen was listening to every word of Yu's transmission. He banked his fighter and headed for Yu's last coordinates. He worried that Yu would do something rash and create an international incident, however if he was correct, than the intruder had provided justification for being shot down, thus creating an International Incident. He was three minutes out at his present speed.
“Helo what's our status?” asked Athena.
“He's still on our asses. I'm getting radar sweeps painting the skies, but it isn't locking on us. Our stealth is fully functioning… this bogey is tracking us by eye, we need to shake him.”
“Fraking humans are already leaving me with a bad impression.” muttered Athena as she increased her throttles, racing for the ceiling.
Yu's altimeter was climbing rapidly; he was already at 58,000 feet and climbing fast. The Chengdu J-50 had a maximum ceiling of 70,000 feet. The aircraft before him was accelerating even faster. He had one shot. His afterburners flared brighter as he continued to climb, his anger grew with every passing moment. “The arrogance of the American military learns a lesson this day, today the People's Republic of China reclaims its mantle of World Leader.” Yu did not hear the audible alarm, or red warning light indicating that he was pushing his aircraft to the extreme. He suffered from tunnel vision now; his only goal was to shoot down this American intruder. This was the instability in Yu's character that Shen feared. In a professional military unencumbered by party politics, Yu would never have been cleared to fly combat fighters.
He armed his one remaining missile, and fired. Yu was snapped back to reality when his aircraft shuddered in response to the loud bang he heard. It wasn't until now that Yu realized he could see the curvature of the earth, cloud cover gave way to faint glimpses of the stars, he was up way farther than his aircraft was rated for. The control panels in the cockpit lit up like a Christmas tree, an engine stall light flashed ominously.
“Oh Frak… incoming missile… incoming missile. That bogey got off a shot.” Yelled Helo.
“We need help here,” replied Athena as she opened her coms to contact the two stealth vipers still in orbit. “Krypter, krypter, krypter, Raptor 1 declaring an emergency.”
Nightstalker and Hotdog's vipers had already kicked into full burn at the first word of the distress signal from Raptor 1. They were already breaking the atmosphere and both pilots braced for atmospheric flight mode. Hotdog's dradis had detected the ascending Raptor, with a smaller aircraft in pursuit. “Nightstalker I have Raptor 1 on my dradis, looks like she encountered an Earth aircraft and is attempting evasion.”
“Roger Hotdog, lets get in there!”
Yu attempted three engine restarts without success, his fighter started to drop aft first. His panic level rising, he knew that at this altitude there would be no survival from that ejection. He prayed he could safely control his powerless descent and restart his engines. His prayers were soon answered, but not in the way he expected. His left wing had shorn off, which resulted in the beginning of a spin that he would not recover. He closed his eyes.
The Earth made missile was fired at near point blank range, but Helo deployed every countermeasure at his disposal. The missile struck one of them and detonated sending shrapnel in all directions. The Raptor took a hit to its underbelly. Audible warnings sounded throughout the cabin, the structure had been compromised, and Helo quickly attached a magnetic “plug” over the hole in the decking.
“Frak, I have too many warning lights lit up to attempt breeching the atmosphere, better to put down and reevaluate the damage before attempting space flight.” Informed Athena. She cut her speed and turned back towards the surface. “Find us a spot to put down, unless they have more birds in the air we should be able to evade radar.”
At this moment Shen was at better than Mach 2 on his approach. His only signal was a rapidly breaking up Chengdu J-50 falling to Earth. He later would find out that it was Yu's aircraft when the recovery teams would locate what was left of the wreckage. He noticed a trail of black smoke gradually descending. At the head of that trail was a large boxy aircraft. He too gave pursuit. The aircraft was fast departing Chinese airspace. If this was indeed an American Reconnaissance plane, it could not be allowed to leave with whatever footage it obtained, that order came direct from General Liang. He had no missiles, but he did have his guns. He switched on his targeting computer.
At that moment, the American AWACS plane had transmitted what they had witnessed to command at Yokota airbase. They were reporting the strange behavior of the Chinese fighter making an insane climb to the limits of Earth's atmosphere and firing a missile. They also reported its demise, and a second fighter entering the area. Yakutat command had diverted their squadron of F-22 Raptors from a training mission with South Korea 's air force, to the airspace immediately outside of Chinese control. A refueling tanker was dispatched to top off all four American planes.
The tone is Hello's voice indicated his anxiety. “We have another Earth aircraft on an intercept course, same signature as the one that fired on us.” Another signal had caught his attention; he was elated to see that they produced Colonial transponders. “Calvary has arrived Sharon , stealth vipers inbound!”
Nightstalker had the Chinese fighter on his Dradis and bore down mercilessly on him. He had no authorization to destroy the aircraft, but he could put the fear of the Gods into its pilot. His stealth viper invisible to any radar Earth possessed. Hotdog was positioned off Nightstalker's port wing high.
Shen was closing on the foreign aircraft, yet he was almost out of China 's air space, he would have to act fast. The first indication he had to something very wrong was the black blur that raced past the front of his aircraft. The turbulence he flew through almost ripped his nose clean off. Multiple warning lights and audible sounded through his cockpit. Once he regained complete control of his fighter, he started to scan the skies. He caught two unidentified aircraft at his 5 o'clock position, and turning fast, now almost completely on his 6'oclock position, a very perilous position for any fighter pilot to find himself in. He pushed his fighter into a high-speed dive and made for some cloud cover. The two strange aircraft caught up with him moments later; one on each side of his aircraft, both black, and the strangest shaped aircraft Shen had ever seen.
Hotdog dropped back and low while Nightstalker kicked in the burn and cut straight in front of Sheen's fighter causing massive turbulence. Shen rolled left and made a desperate dash for the Chinese coast. The vipers let him run and assumed a defensive position on each side of the damaged Raptor.
“Athena…. Nightstalker, what is your status?”
“I have a cabin breach, and numerous alarms going off. I have control, but I need to set her down somewhere fast. The shock of the explosion may have triggered the sensors in question, but I cannot run a full diagnostic test until I'm on the ground. The breach needs to be reinforced before I can attempt to break orbit.”
“Roger Raptor 1. There is a land mass close by for you to do a vertical landing, but we'll have to remain airborne. Get her down, and run your checks and repairs fast. That bogey will probably be back with friends,” said Nightstalker.
Unknown to the Colonial aircraft, the nearest land mass was South Korea . On an intercept course was four F-22 Raptors from the United State 's Air force sent to investigate what the AWACS had reported. Lieutenant Colonel Roger McElkenny was flying lead Raptor. He had already received word that the Chinese fighter had returned to the Chinese coastline after some erratic flying.
In the distance, he had noticed a black contrail. It was closing on the Korean peninsula, and as he got closer he noticed two smaller aircraft also, one on each side of the larger craft that was obviously damaged and trailing smoke. After reporting this to Yakutat, he flew closer and opened a frequency. “This is the United States Air force, calling unidentified aircraft approaching Korean Peninsula …identify yourselves.” Ordered McElkenny, call sign ‘Thunder.'
Sharon had turned around and glanced at Helo. “Are you Fraking kidding me?” was the only response.
“No, incoming aircraft are broadcasting to us to identify. Apparently we are entering restricted air space.” replied Helo.
“Oh for the love of the Gods, we don't have time for this. Have the stealth's run interference!”
Nightstalker had received the same message, and instructed Hotdog to alter course for the inbound Earth aircraft. “At least these guys came talking first.” Quipped Hotdog.
“Irrelevant Hotdog, we need to keep them busy so Athena can set down for repairs. Weapons are not free, but let's see what these guys can do.” The two vipers peeled off and flew towards the F-22s. Athena gently lowered the Raptor closer to the surface. Her scanners showed a remote terrain suitable to set down.
“This is Thunder, two aircraft heading on an intercept track, the third appears to be setting down, and it looks damaged. Stand by on weapons…do not fire until fired upon! All wings confirm!” The remaining three Raptors signaled their reply and proceeded cautiously. South Korean military forces had been alerted to the incoming aircraft that strangely defied radar detection. That would be their problem, he thought. McElkenny switched on his wing camera; he would have to get these two strange aircraft photographed. They were unlike anything he had seen before.
“Hotdog, break left, let's see if we can lead them away from Athena.” Ordered Nightstalker. Without reply, Lieutenant Brendan Costanza executed a sharp turn, and as predicted, two of the earth aircraft followed. The other two gave chase to Nightstalker.
Athena set the Raptor down on solid ground; the terrain was thankfully flat, but very rocky. Structures could be seen at least 60 miles out. With luck, they remained undetected to radar, and could evade discovery for a short period. Eventually the Earth people would send out an armed patrol. “Okay Helo, lets make this fast, I'll run the diagnostics, you get to patching that breach on both sides of the decking. I want no issues when we break orbit. I'm not concerned about depressurization if we were already in space when it happened, but I don't want to see it exacerbated when we try to break orbit.”
“Night, these guys are good. They are matching me turn for turn but not engaging. Pretty fast planes, but I still haven't poured it on yet.” Said Hotdog.
“Hold off on the burn, Hotdog. We need to hold their attention until Athena is ready to make a break for orbit.” Replied Nightstalker.
Thunder was amazed at the flying happening right before his eyes. He felt like the one being toyed with and it was a feeling he clearly did not like. He was getting some great digital shots of the strange aircraft, there were three engines, and the shape of the aircraft was bizarre. He was confounded why he could not get a radar lock on the aircraft. The thought of extra terrestrial briefly flashed through his mind, a thought he quickly dismissed, almost embarrassed to have even thought of such a thing.
The speed of the F-22 Raptor was highly classified, but it was better than Mach 2.5 and Thunder had accelerated to gain on the black colored aircraft. He matched Nightstalker's turn for turn. Lieutenant Mark Sarnex was highly impressed with his pursuer's skill. It was a shame he could not continue the chase, eventually the Earth ships would have to engage him, and he clearly did not want to face that scenario.
Lt. Sharon Valeri was familiar with every system on her Raptor. This new stealth Raptor however, was what you would call the “stripped down model.” Without a proper manufacturing plant and resources, the GALACTICA was limited in what she could reproduce in the way of Raptors. There were far many more systems involved than a Mark II Viper, and some systems normally found in a Raptor was missing from this new stealth Raptor. Her diagnostics went smoothly, and Helo had already made his repairs to the damage to the hull. The possibility of further damaging the breach upon escaping Earth orbit was limited.
“All right Helo, start preflight,” ordered Athena. The two began an abbreviated pre-flight check, they were sitting targets, and the sound of aircraft was unmistakably heading their way. In the distance, South Korean versions of the Black Hawk helicopter were flying at treetop levels in a search pattern. In time, they would be upon them.
“Nightstalker this is Athena, repairs made, and we're ready for take off. I'm about to have company, at least four rotary-powered aircraft will be on top of me within 5 minutes.”
“Message received, Raptor 1. Do not waste any time making orbit, our presence is already known; do not worry about the sonic booms. They can't track us, and will spend the rest of the day scratching their heads wondering who the hell we are.” replied Sarnex.
The stealth Raptor was soon airborne, and well within visual range of the helicopters searching for it; the instantly converged on the strange craft that continued to climb. Pulling back the yoke Sharon once again made a break for the upper atmosphere. Going to full power she quickly left the much slower helicopters in her wake. The series of sonic booms trailed her as she ascended.
Hotdog had caught the Raptor on his dradis. “Nightstalker, Raptor 1 is airborne and burning a hole in the sky, heading for the stars.”
“Time to end this Hotdog, make a break for orbit!” ordered Sarnex as he pulled back on the stick, his foot jamming the thruster pedal to the floor. Lieutenant Colonel McElkenny was awestruck by the maneuverability and speed of the unidentified flying object before him. He knew instantly that he would not catch the strange black plane now leaving the area. Nevertheless, where was he heading? They were already at 50,000 feet. Hotdog had slowed his Viper considerably, allowing two of the Earth fighters to come alongside him. He glanced over at the earth aircraft, clearly impressed by the design. He could see the black blast shield of the pilot's helmet clearly. He turned to the plane on his right, smiled, snapped out a salute and then waved goodbye as he kicked in the burners. The pilots of both planes would never forget this moment. In seconds, all three Colonial craft were out of visual range, and breaking free of Earth's gravity.
FROM THE ADAMA JOURNALS:
“Our first encounter with Earth was not at all what was expected, nor was the outcome pleasing to the President, or me. The stealth team was supposed to avoid all contact with the humans. Somehow, the Raptor was spotted and engaged by an Earth fighter plane. The Raptor was damaged, and the Earth fighter destroyed when it attempted to pursue the Raptor to a height that it was clearly not designed to operate in.
The stealth vipers were engaged, but not fired upon by Earth aircraft unlike the ones that engaged Lt. Valeri's reconnaissance mission. After a week of sorting through the intelligence gathered by the Raptor, it has been determined that Earth has multiple governments. From what we were able to gather the government that engaged the Raptor was a belligerent nation known as the People's Republic of China . Our Raptor was spotted in their air space, and their reaction was to shoot it down.
The Earth fighters (oddly enough categorized as F-22 Raptors) that engaged the Vipers were identified as military from the United State 's Air Force. We have determined that The United States is the most powerful government on Earth. Officially known as the United States of America , from the information via educational programming, and media transmissions we have concluded that the United States is the foremost power on the planet, and most advanced. However, their level of technology is far behind our own, as we feared. This world is factional, at war with itself. Currently there is no active warfare, but there are tensions amongst the ‘super powers.' A meeting of the Council of Twelve is scheduled for tomorrow where I will brief them on what we know of Earth. As of this moment, knowledge of Earth, and our proximity to it has been classified Top Secret. President Roslin has briefed the Council in a separate session, and I have been assured that each fully understands the gravity of keeping this information secret from the fleet for the time being.
The information gleaned from our recon has proven invaluable. While their advancement in space travel is very limited, it has been determined that they have formidable air and land forces. There are large segments of civil society, and I am cautiously optimistic about them. A more in-depth study would have to be made to determine how far behind us they actually are. This could only be conducted with cooperation from Earth's governments. With any Cylon pursuit led in the opposite direction, we have the time to spare to conduct that study without having to worry about looking over our shoulders.
The large conference room is host to the highest-ranking members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Air Force, the White House, DIA and various other agencies that do not exist. On the wall monitor is clear images of the black fighter craft at various angles taken by the wing cameras of all four F-22's. All four pilots attended as well. One photo obviously taken at a greater distance shows a less stream lined, and larger black aircraft.
“Gentlemen, our intelligence sources have confirmed that these planes are not Chinese, Russian, British, French or Israeli.” stated the four star general. “Those five countries listed outside of ourselves possess the most advanced aircraft in the world…and we cannot tie these photos to any of them. They defied our best efforts to track them via radar from our fighters, land based units and AWACS that were very close by. Apparently, one of China 's prototype fighters attempted to shoot the larger aircraft down and was disabled in the attempt. Our sources confirm that wreckage from that fighter has been found in very small amounts. The Chinese are saying nothing, predictably.”
“What are the chances of these three aircraft being extraterrestrial?” queried the White house liaison. Normally a question like that would have been laughed outside the room, but after hearing the testimony from the four F-22 pilots with impeccable records, and the camera footage, the possibilities were very real. Especially when all three black aircraft were visually seen entering the highest altitudes of Earth's atmosphere with no indication of stopping or deviating from their flight paths.
“I would normally hesitate to even respond to that kind of question, Mr. Thompson, but we aren't left with many credible answers. The facts are these; four United States military aircraft intercepted, verified, and photographed aircraft never before seen in any country's arsenal. Through Presidential directive, we have been assured that our base at Groom Lake in Nevada neither is testing, nor possesses such aircraft.” replied the unnamed General.
“So we have the very real possibility that these were…extraterrestrial?” Said the liaison from Defense Intelligence.
“Captain Webber stated that he was close enough to the aircraft to witness the pilot salute and wave to him as he departed at high speed. The canopy was tinted, but he states that he could see a silhouette with a lighted helmet display those gestures. There were no other markings on the aircraft as these pictures that we had blown up to maximum display.”
“What about the Chinese fighter that got away?”
“Our AWACS tracked him moving at high speed back to China, most likely to Jinzhou Xialingzi Airbase.” informed a full Colonel. “I doubt the Chinese high command will comment one way or the other, especially to our inquiries. However, you can bet that pilot was seriously debriefed. They lost one of two prototypes of their newest strike fighter, they will want answers!”
The man from the White House gathered his papers and placed them in his briefcase. “I will inform the President of what we discussed here. If this is going where I think its going than I'm sure he will be taking part first hand in further discussions.” The President of the United States was a serious man, former military officer who was respected on both sides of the ideological platform. He was viewed as a breath of fresh air from the previous occupant of the White House, who presided over a very unpopular war that left the Middle East a simmering powder keg. His administration was working overtime to mend many fences.
The four star General stood. “Gentlemen I'm sure I don't need to insult your intelligence by reminding you of the secrecy of this meeting. We will be in touch!” With that, all men present returned to where they were assigned.
Conference chambers aboard Colonial 1.
Adama sat at the far end of the table listening intently to the many questions shot at him from one representative of the council after another.
“Admiral, what are your plans for contacting Earth's government?” asked the representative from Eloisa.
“The President and I have agreed that contact should be made with the leader of the United States of America . His title is also President, and according to our data, this government is the defector world leader. However, it is obvious there is dispute to that view from many of Earth's populous. Earth is not one united tribe as we suspected, but a mixture of races with separate borders and governments. We have identified five major powers, and many smaller ones. The United States sits at the top technologically, financially, and militarily.”
President Laura Roslin spoke next. “Distinguished members of the council, with our journey hopefully at an end we find ourselves facing a civilization not as advanced as our own. The 13th tribe of Kobol has not mastered space flight beyond their moon. I fear that we have not found an equal in our ability to repel the Cylons if they appear.”
“Surely we haven't traveled all this way, endured so much just to keep going?” asked the representative from Aerelon.
“No, absolutely not, though we cannot make any further determination on our future without discussion with the representatives from Earth.” replied Roslin.
Adama stood up. “Members of the council…we will be making contact with Earth's military through frequencies obtained and analyzed by the GALACTICA. They may regard the transmission as a hoax, and our research indicates that Earth's population isn't in the majority of believing life exists beyond themselves; a revealing level of arrogance, but one that can be overcome.”
“How so, Admiral?” asked the representative from Picon.
“The United States military appears very secretive; we have been able to learn about conspiracies about their military bases in the western half of their continent. Bases rumored to be harboring proof of extra terrestrial life and spacecraft. The base is referred to as Area 51 or Groom Lake . If a transmission from outside of Earth is broadcast to them, I doubt they will reveal it to their population. I plan to move the GALACTICA out from the protection of Earth's moon, and will forward the coordinates to them to satisfy their curiosity about the authenticity of the message they will receive.”
The President cut in, as Adama sat back down. “At that point, there should be no further doubt as to our existence, and we will request a meeting with their leadership, both civilian and military in a secure location. This will be an event unlike any they have encountered before, I'm guessing. I'm sure they will maintain extremely airtight security levels.” said Roslin.
“Who will go to meet with the Earth representatives?” asked the representative from Virgo.
“The GALACTICA's executive officer Colonel Tigh, one representative from the Council of Twelve, a Priest and I. We will travel by Raptor under viper escort to a secure location of their leadership's choosing.” Replied Roslin.
“Why so few, and why not the Admiral himself?” demanded the Picon representative.
“The Admiral will meet with the Earth Leadership at a future date, for security reasons I've asked, and he concurred to remain in orbit aboard the GALACTICA in the event of a Cylon appearance which is highly doubtful. The make-up of the representatives was deliberately kept small as to not overwhelm further what will already be an overwhelming experience for both of us.” Laura sat down and smiled; her green eyes flashed. She could not believe this moment had finally arrived. “Well if there are no further questions…May the Lords of Kobol bless us on our journey, and allow it to bear fruit.”
Lieutenant Elyssa DeAlma stretched out on her rack; she just finished her shift and was looking forward to some sleep. Athena was slipping into a crisp duty uniform as she prepared to start her day; pulling her hair back tightly into a military authorized ponytail. “Do you think you'll be making the return trip to Earth, Sharon?”
“I hope so,” she replied as she slipped into her highly polished boots. “My first experience was harrowing, but definitely one for the books. The assignments for Earth should be doled out at the 1400-hour briefing. I'm hoping to be in the rotation. Earth has to be one of the most beautiful planets I have ever seen, Elyssa. It gives Caprica a run for its money and far greater land masses.”
“What are the chances that colonization will precede smoothly?” she asked rhetorically. “From what we've seen their technology is far behind our own.”
“Yes, but they have a place to live, we do not! If we stay, there will be a serious adjustment period for both peoples.”
“For ground beneath my feet, fresh air to breath, and blue skies above my head…I don't care if the technology is one step above stone knives and caves.” laughed Poseidon. Switching off the lights, Sharon pulled the hatch shut and walked to the pilot's ready room.
Inside the ready room, Athena took a seat next to Helo as the CAG took to the podium. Pilots from both Silver Spar and Blue squadrons filled the room. Starbuck took a seat next to Lieutenant Nina Nintius, call sign Betty. “Afternoon Betty.” The two shared a history; both graduated from the academy and received their commissions at roughly the same time.
“You figure on getting the Earth assignment?” asked Starbuck.
“Well I am the best Raptor pilot in the fleet, it would make sense to want their best on the stick.” said Nina, a sly grin across her face. Humility was not her strongest trait; something that Starbuck appreciated and admired about her very much. The Admiral walked into the room and all pilots jumped to their feet as Apollo called them to attention.
“As you were people!” said Adama gesturing them to take their seats. “Are all my Viper pilots here?”
“Everyone not assigned to the CAP, Admiral.” replied Apollo.
Adama adjusted his glasses. “As you all know, we have maintained a position of cover on the far side of Earth's moon. We will soon be making contact with representatives of Earth's government to schedule a meeting between our representatives and theirs. This will be an extremely complex situation due to Earth's level of advancement. From what we have gathered, Earth has very limited space flight capability, and a majority held belief that they are the only intelligent life forms in the galaxy. Our presence may be viewed with a great degree of skepticism, but nothing that has not been planned for.”
The Admiral walked over to a side table, pouring himself a mug of coffee. Taking a long swig, he grimaced. “Glad to see the quality of pilot's coffee hasn't changed since I flew a Viper.” laughed Adama. He returned to the podium, and used a hand held device to activate a wall monitor that Apollo had prepared prior to his arrival.
“Our plan is to send a delegation down to a location of their choosing. Raptor 1 flown by Betty will transport the President, the XO, and a member of the Council of Twelve, a priest, and two armed Marines. Four Vipers from Blue squadron will escort the Raptor to the surface. Those pilots will be Apollo, Starbuck, Falcon and Falcon.”
Lensherr sat stone-faced in his chair. He was hoping that his squadron would be used in some capacity for this mission, or at the very least, he would be assigned to the detail himself.
Adama turned to Lensherr as if he was reading his mind. “Hephaestus, I want you on standby with Hotdog, Nightstalker, Peacemaker and Aslan. I do not expect a repeat of what happened with our first excursion down to the planet, but I want alert fighters ready to go at a moment's notice in the event something goes down. Blue squadron's sole mission is to defend the Raptor.”
“Aye aye, sir.” replied Hephaestus. “Sir, how do we expect to make contact with Earth?”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have to determine a way to communicate with the United States government. Nightstalker has done an exceptional job doubling as the Fleet's Intel officer, Lieutenant Sarnex will explain his plan for the days ahead…Lieutenant.”
“Thank you admiral, we have already identified the United States military airbase at Groom Lake as our primary point of contact. I will be using the stealth Raptor equipped with communications equipment to analyze their communications and report back to you on the optimum method of communicating with them.”
Four days later Mark Sarnex reconvenes the staff meeting regarding making contact with Earth.
“Admiral Adama, ladies and gentlemen, our analysis shows that the Groom Lake base uses a variety of communication methods over a wide frequency band. We do not believe that we can successfully communicate on their frequency hopping transmissions, nor have we been consistently successful in exploiting the algorhythms used in their scramblers. Obviously, we cannot tap into their land line communications, nor would we be successful with their multi-channel equipment since we don't know a number of things about their modalities…”
“What can we do, Lieutenant?” asked Adama.
“We eliminated several bands as being too active for our purposes, but we accidentally found one frequency outside their normal communication bands, hidden between several of their Dradis emitters; they call Dradis ‘Radar,' and this one frequency never changes. It is called the ‘Guard frequency,' and is seldom used. Fortunately, the primary language spoken is almost identical to our own, which they refer to as ‘English.' We still have some problems with their idiomatic speech however, but nothing that is insurmountable.”
“Is it a secure frequency, Lieutenant?”
“No, Admiral, no frequency is secure in and of itself…but we have secure communications all the time because the scramblers on the receivers and transmitters are synchronized, if they weren't the two radios would not understand each other. Obviously, we cannot synch our scramblers with theirs”
“Admiral we will broadcast in clear speech to the United States Groom Lake facility, and we believe that because of the frequency, and the presence of the transmitting Dradis on either side of their receiver, that our broadcast will be safe from prying ears. We will transmit to the stealth Raptor that in turn will relay the transmission on narrow beam to that frequency. We believe that the Groom Lake personnel monitor that frequency constantly so the message will get to their leadership.”
“Thank you Lieutenant, let's get to work then.”
At Groom Lake Military Installation, a top-secret military installation in Nevada a message is received. The command center at this unconventional Air Base is usually subdued. The United States Air Force does not deploy frontline units from this location; it is used primarily to test the latest aircraft. Groom Lake has other aliases, Area 51, Air Force Flight Test Center (Detachment 3), Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, and a host of others. The base itself has been subject to the imagination of many conspiracy theorists. Today, the conspiracy theories would increase by one if the public knew what was transpiring. The senior officers from the base were present.
Command Center at Groom Lake .
“The transmissions started six minutes ago, sir. How they got this frequency is unknown sir…technically, it does not exist, much like many other things at Groom Lake . We have the only transceivers in the world that operate at these frequencies; the FCC has not even allotted them yet. Even with that, we operate between two radars that effectively jam anyone who might be curious about what is happening there.”
“That doesn't fill me with warm and comforting feelings Colonel.” said the General as he walked over to the console. “Do we have the complete message?”
“Yes sir however I recommend listening to it in the secure room, this goes far beyond anything we've experienced at this base since its inception. I have personally made a written copy of the audio message. We have the only copy of the tape here. ” The two men and an audio technician removed themselves to “the bubble,” the most secure room in one of the most secure military installations anywhere in the world.
The technician began the tape. The transmission contained an eerie audio distortion as if originating from a great distance. “Attention United States Air Force installation at Groom Lake . This is Admiral William Adama; you are receiving this communication over your secure frequency from the Battlestar GALACTICA. This is not a hoax nor should you consider us a threat.” began the message. “You have already encountered our aircraft in the airspace between the Chinese mainland and the Korean Peninsula two weeks ago.” The two officers looked at each other and nodded, the pieces of a puzzle were being placed on the board. The transmission continued.
“The GALACTICA is a military vessel that is protecting 70 odd civilian ships seeking sanctuary currently in orbit on the far side of your moon, out of detection range of your planet. In order to verify the authenticity of this transmission, and our claims, I will provide you with coordinates for you to observe through one of your secure land based telescopes. At 2200 hours Pacific Time zone, two days from now time, you will be able to view the GALACTICA in Earth orbit. It has been verified that the United States of America is the premiere military power and government on the planet, and we propose a meeting at a location of your choosing between the President of our former colonies, and your own.”
The Colonel's face went ashen. “Did he say they were in orbit around the far side of the moon? This is a joke, General!”
“How do you propose the hacked a frequency that isn't supposed to exits Colonel? Not only are they transmitting on our frequency, they have just commented on that incident over China 2 weeks ago, something that has not been released to the public.”
The General gestured the technician to continue the transmission. “As a military commander myself, I appreciate the fact that this may be above your authority and you will have to communicate with your civilian leadership in this matter. After verifying our presence in your orbit, you can communicate your intentions via this same frequency. We look forward to meeting with you in hopefully a secure location, and wish our existence to remain secret from the general population for the time being. We have actively sought your planet for almost two years with the belief that our two groups of people are of the same race that split apart over four millennia ago. I look forward to hearing from you at the appropriate time.”
“Colonel, get me Jack Crossen over at NASA on a secure line. I have no intention of going to the President with this until I see an orbiting spaceship.” said the General, who couldn't believe he was actually saying this.
Two days later in a secure room at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center , Edwards Air Force Base in CA the General from Groom Lake and Jack Crossen the Director of NASA met in secrecy. “Jack I've explained everything I know to you, and I'm sure you understand my need for verification before going to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with this. If this is a hoax, it could be a career ender, if not than we're looking at the first signs of life outside of that on this planet.” said the General grimly.
“Peter, you and I have known each other a very long time.” began Crossen. “Just by bringing me into the loop at this stage will frost enough cookies in the spook department. I have direct control of this base's observatory, and there will only be two people in the room looking out the scope…you and I. If this turns out not to be a hoax, than NASA will eventually be involved with this. I just hope we are the only two people on Earth looking at those coordinates when the time comes.”
“Are you ready, Jack?”
“I am. You have not been logged into the visitor's entry, and being in civilian clothes should raise no suspicions providing you don't come across someone you know here at Edward's.”
“Can't be helped right now, let's go!” The two walked out of the room and took a gold cart the quarter mile distance to the observatory. Two security police officers stood watch outside the entrance, but out of the main view from passersby as to not attract attention. The two men walked through the door, and secured it. Walking into the observatory chambers, the overhead lights dimmed and soon replaced by a soft red lighting. The night sky was beautiful, but the two men were not there to stargaze. The observatory was at the far end of the base, and lighting was not an issue.
2145 hours. 15 minutes to Showtime.
The telescope was programmed with coordinates provided by the alleged spacemen hiding behind the moon. The General felt slightly foolish, but he was confronted with information that nobody should have had access to. Looking through the lenses, a fantastic view of the stars filled the eyepiece.
Aboard the GALACTICA, Adama prepared to make his ship's presence known. A short hyperlight jump was planned. To avoid being detected cruising out from the far side of the moon by independent observatories or privately owned backyard telescopes aimed at the moon; he opted to “jump” to the selected coordinates. If nothing else, it would provide quite the show for the Air Force.
“30 seconds to jump, Admiral.” reported Gaeta .
“Excellent! Time to announce our arrival, Mr. Gaeta initiate jump.” ordered Adama.
At 2200 hours, a brilliant flash lit up the sky. An immense space ship appeared out of nowhere. The images captured by the telescope were downloaded immediately. The two men just stood there in silence. Thirty seconds later the ship disappeared.
“Jack, I need the original recordings. I have to get to Washington immediately and advise the President. You don't need me to tell you how secret this is!” Within an hour, the four star General from Groom Lake was enroute to Washington , DC aboard an Air Force Gulf Stream IV. The plane would be given priority landing at Andrews Air Force Base, and Marine 1, the Sikorsky VH-3D helicopter normally reserved for the President of The United States would be waiting on the tarmac for immediate liftoff upon his arrival.
Aboard Air Force 1 now heading for Nevada, the President, his National Security advisor, Joint Chief of Staff and the four-star General in command at Groom Lake sat in the President's private office.
“In order to avoid any speculation by the media, we've released information that I will be meeting with the Governor of NV in Las Vegas 90 miles from Groom Lake to discuss the issues regarding hazardous waste allegedly being produced by projects at Groom Lake .” The press corps will be contained in a part of the base far from the meeting point.” said the President.
“ Groom Lake or Area 51 as its better known is the most secure military installation in the world, Mr. President.” began the National Security Advisor. “There are no possibilities for aerial surveillance, or other intrusions. We will inform the press corps that you have retired for the evening, and we will then proceed to the meeting place via helicopter. It will take place at the installation that once housed the F-117 Nighthawk program back in the ‘70's. We expect the Defense Secretary to meet us on location.”
“What exactly are we expecting, General?” asked the President.
“A total of five aircraft sir! Four escort aircraft of the fighter variety, and some sort of shuttle that will contain the delegation. They advise us that there will be a two man armed security detachment assigned to the delegation. We will have close to a dozen armed secret service agents already there, as well as a dozen heavily armed Security Police posted on the airfield. Your own security detail will be with you at all times.”
“Will that come across as overkill?” Asked the commander in chief.
“Sir we have no idea what to expect. There is no way they could have faked what I saw with my own eyes, they accessed a frequency that does not exist in any FCC inventories, and admitted to being the unidentified aircraft involved in that China episode not long ago. My gut tells me this is the real deal, they aren't shouting their presence from the rooftops, and as a matter of fact they have gone to great lengths to maintain their secrecy.”
“Alright, we are facing a historic moment in our history, one that may change the course of life on Earth as we know it.” The plane carrying the Leader of the free world descended quietly into Nevada and landed at the controversial air base. It would be a long night.
Raptor 1 gently lifted off the deck and proceeded out the port flight pod of the GALACTICA. Her Viper escort formed up on both sides of her in the form a “V.”
Apollo keyed up his comline “All wings, once we have entered the atmosphere we will be modifying our formation to a defensive perimeter around the Raptor. Anything goes down and the Raptor will bug out, we fly protection and the alert Vipers will be launched.”
“Do you really think Earth has anything to throw at us that we wouldn't make short work of, Major?” laughed Falcon dismissively.
“Can the chatter, Falcon…we've been given our assignment. Let's just do our jobs.”
Laura Roslin sat in the rear of the cabin. The flight suit was rather large for her, and the clothes she would wear for this historic meeting sat folded neatly on her lap. A funny thought flashed through her head, she now would be able to get a change of clothes after two years of wearing the same 4-5 different outfits. She shook her head and laughed at the ridiculousness of the thought in the face of such a momentous occasion.
What would she say? She had planned for such a moment on too many nights lying wide-awake in bed. Less than 50,000 humans were all that remained of the human race spread across twelve colonies. Now they found the mythical planet Earth that was home to the lost 13th tribe of Kobol where humans numbered over 6.7 billion. Would we be welcome or feared? How would we adapt to a technology slightly primitive in comparison? How fast could we bring Earth technology on par with Colonial technology in the event of Cylon discovery? So many questions; she would be meeting with the President of the most technological, democratic and powerful country on the planet, but what of the other governments?
Aboard the GALACTICA Lensherr sat with D'Anna in the officer's quarters. They were alone, and he held her hands in his. “We finally reach Earth, something that might not have happened if not for your efforts, and you and I are stuck aboard this tin can in orbit around their moon. Even the view sucks!” Complained Lensherr.
D'Anna knew how to make Lensherr smile, she squeezed his hands, looking deeply into his eyes and said plainly “well you can take the Cylon out of the cellblock, but you can't take her to Earth!”
“What? That makes no Fraking sense!” laughed Lensherr.
“Exactly!” replied the pregnant Cylon.
Their privacy was shattered at the opening of the hatch. In walked Admiral Adama. “I hope I'm not interrupting anything, Captain?” asked the Admiral clearly not seeking a reply. He sat down next to D'Anna.
“And how is our resident Cylon feeling today?”
“I've had better days Admiral.” said D'Anna smiling. Lensherr looked perplexed at the exchange.
“I wanted to say I'm sorry for keeping you aboard, Captain. Much for the same reasons I myself am not going down to the surface yet.” said Adama. “I won't risk being planet side in the event of a Cylon appearance though I am sure that Tigh would be capable of handling that situation. I want my best pilots on board in the event something goes down.” He turned to D'Anna.
“Explaining you will be interesting. You are part of the instrument of our near destruction, yet here you are…a member of our fleet bearing a child.”
“Who says we need to explain D'Anna at all, Admiral?” asked Lensherr.
“Her identity is known throughout the fleet, word will get out eventually. If we are to settle upon Earth, we may have to confront the possibility that she may draw unwanted scrutiny.”
“Admiral, when things settle down, would you do us the honor of marrying us?” asked D'Anna much to both men's surprise. “I bear his child; I have thrown my lot in with your own. There is the very real possibility that my series has been boxed, and that I am the lone survivor. It looks like I have more in common with you humans than previously thought.” Adama smiled, and for the first time since D'Anna's arrival extended his hand to her.
“I would be honored, when that time comes,” replied the Admiral.
Dennis “Sky” Walker had just finished his shift. He was one of the newer Viper pilots assigned to Silver Spar squadron. Not a flashy or rambunctious fighter jock, but a serious young man whose flying and limited combat experience bordered on methodical. He did not care too much for the cockier pilots who prided themselves on flying by the seat of their pants. His call sign was Prometheus.
He strolled into the officer's rec and ordered a beer. Glancing around the room he spotted his squadron leader Hephaestus and fellow Spar Aslan. He pulled up a chair next to them. “Evening skipper, Aslan!
“Finally off CAP, Dennis?”
“Yes, too wired to sleep and thought I'd grab a beer and maybe a pyramid game. Looks like I'll have to settle for the beer.” replied Walker .
“Well you may want to grab some rack time, even though you aren't on alert status, you never know what's going to happen.” said Hephaestus.
“Yeah, the old man may mobilize all the squadrons for a Fraking ceremonial flyover!” laughed Aslan. The three continued in their conversation, and more laughter followed as the three pilots wound down their night.
Groom Lake; the former F-117 Nighthawk testing facilities
The President of the United States of America, his security detail and his entourage waited patiently outside the entrance of the large facility that sat at the edge of the inactive runway.
An Air Force Colonel received a message over his Bluetooth wireless radio attached to his ear. “Mr. President we're tracking five inbound aircraft entering the atmosphere along the agreed upon route. Their ETA is 15 minutes.”
“Thank you Colonel. I trust the honor guard is prepared?” The President had insisted over the gentle objections of his Joint Chief to have a twelve man honor guard detailed for the occasion. American and flags from the armed forces were positioned along the walkway from the runway to the building's entrance. The men and women assigned to this base understood secrecy, while this would most likely be the biggest event in history, they would remain true to their duty and remain silent.
Landing lights beneath the nose of the first two vipers activated illuminating the runway that was lit only with red bulbs marking the edges of the runway. They touched down effortlessly, and the strange craft seen previously in digital photos taken by the F-22 wing cams rolled to a stop before them. These planes were not black; they were white with red trim, obviously a fresh paint job for the occasion courtesy of Admiral Adama. The Raptor was next to land; it came down vertically and set down 100 yards from their escorts whose cockpits were now rising. The final two Vipers landed and came to a stop behind the Raptor. The four Viper pilots, clad in leather with side arms at their waist walked over to the Raptor hatch and stood at attention.
Inside the Raptor, with the exception of the two Marines and Lt. Nintius, the occupants changed out of their flight suits and into the attire, they brought along with them. Colonel Tigh was resplendent in his dress grays, and the three civilians were dressed in the best clothes they had in their possession. The President nodded to the Marine who opened the hatch. A cool breeze filled the cabin, something none of them had experienced since New Caprica. Colonel Tigh stepped out first, followed by the remainder of the party with the President bringing up the rear. Tigh returned the salute to Major Adama who stood at the bottom of the ramp leading off the Raptor.
The Viper pilots flanked their party as they walked towards the Earth delegation. Tigh eyed the honor guard and was highly impressed. He nodded to them, unsure of what Earth military custom was. The two parties stopped at a distance of six feet from each other. The base General stepped forward and snapped out a crisp salute to Tigh who quickly returned it, happy to see that both militaries shared at least one custom.
“I'm General Peter McAllister, commanding officer at Groom Lake ; United States Air force. Welcome to Earth…I'd like to present the President of the United States of America …Connor McGregor.” McGregor sidestepped in precise military fashion allowing the President to step forward with hand extended. Tigh took it, expecting that a civilian president was not saluted on Earth, the same as with the Colonies.
“Mr. President I'm Colonel Tigh, executive officer of the Battlestar GALACTICA. It is my honor to present the President of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol Laura Roslin.” Tigh stepped aside, and the two Presidents clasped hands.
“Welcome to Earth Madam President!” said McGregor smiling. “This is a momentous occasion.”
Laura smiled and looked directly into McGregor's blue eyes. “Mr. President the honor is ours, we have searched for Earth for almost two years now in the hope of being granted sanctuary. I cannot express to you the depths of my joy at this moment.” The two leaders proceeded to introduce members of their entourage and finally moved indoors to a carefully prepared room. A long oaken conference table sat in the middle of the room with high backed chairs surrounding it. American flags tastefully adorned the walls, and a table of fresh fruit, vegetables and finger foods was close by. Glasses of water were at each seat.
The two Colonial Marines stood at attention behind Roslin who now started to feel uncomfortable at their proximity. These Marines stood at over six and a half feet tall, and were dressed in combat fatigues with rifles slung across their chest. President McGregor's civilian attired security detail blended into the background. There was no doubt that they too were heavily armed, with more security waiting behind the various doors in the event something happened. Laura turned to Tigh who understood her concerns. He instructed them to stand at ease near the food table. They removed their helmets and placed their rifles in a less conspicuous location.
“Mr. President…the people in this room, and currently in orbit are all that is left of our twelve worlds. We had almost been successfully exterminated as a race by beings known as the Cylons. We have been aggressively pursued across the universe by their warships. We number less than 50,000 men, women and children.” President McGregor listened intently to the attractive young woman from space.
“In full disclosure I must admit that we created the Cylons long ago. They became self-aware, and adapted. The Cylon War began as humanity's creation, the Cylons, turned on their ‘parents.' Their rebellion acts caused the deaths of millions.” said Roslin sadly.
“Where are these Cylons now?” asked McGregor, the impact of Roslin's admission now suddenly dawning on him.
“They have been led on a false trail through a very elaborate plan. They are hundreds, perhaps thousands of light years from this star system. We would not have led them here I assure you.” McGregor looked confused.
“Madam President you'll have to excuse me but this is all confusing. You say you've been on the run for two years, yet have traveled across entire star systems?”
Roslin nodded to Tigh who answered for her. “Mr. President, our technology is far ahead of Earth's current technology. Our propulsion allows us to “jump” vast distances in space in the blink of an eye.”
“We will have ample opportunity to explain at greater length and detail about our exodus from the Cylons. We believe the inhabitants of Earth are the long lost 13th tribe of the planet Kobol…our long lost brothers and sisters. Our journey has been long and punishing; we fervently wish to make Earth our home.”
“You have to realize that your existence will create some serious confusion amongst various religious groups that deeply believe that life began here on Earth.” said McGregor. “I always thought it was the height of arrogance to believe that only we on Earth could be the only intelligent life forms in this immense universe.”
The members of the Colonial delegation had remained silent allowing the two leaders to converse. Minister Malek from Libra spoke up. “Mr. President, if you are indeed the descendents of the 13th tribe than reunification is without question. It would be our responsibility to advance your technology to a degree that you could defend yourselves from a future Cylon attack.”
Roslin shot Malek a stern glance. She was not pleased that Malek had been chosen to be part of the delegation. He was a dangerous man, full of ambition. How a self-centered, egotistical man such as him could be voted onto the quorum in such overwhelming numbers always left Roslin wondering. This was not the time, this was the first of many meetings to come, and he was jumping the gun, putting too much on the table.
“Please excuse my minister, Mr. President, he gets ahead of himself,” explained Roslin, clearly leaving no ambiguity as to who would be holding discussions on behalf of the Colonies. Malek was clearly angered, but knew his place, for the moment. He did not like Laura Roslin; he thought her weak. After escaping New Caprica, he had envisioned running for President himself. His power base not yet established he bided his time.
“Your Battlestar, can it defend Earth against these Cylons?” asked the Joint Chief who until now sat quietly. Roslin gestured to Tigh who responded.
“General, the GALACTICA is the last surviving Colonial Battlestar. It is a warship capable of nuclear and conventional warfare. The fighter craft she houses are lethal. However, she is only one Battlestar. If the Cylons discover Earth, they will come en-masse. I have discussed this possibility with Admiral Adama and the President. One of our highest priorities is to share our technology with you, and utilize Earth's vast resources and industrial might to turn out space capable fighter craft, and resupply GALACTICA's weapons stores.”
“Gentlemen I realize we're starting to get ahead of ourselves, but I think I can safely say that it would be better off if our existence remained secret for the time being, until we can work out how we will go about revealing ourselves to Earth's population.” said Roslin.
“I fully agree Madam President. This has to be handled very delicately.” said McGregor.
“Mr. President, could I interest you in a trip to a Colonial Battlestar?” asked Roslin smiling.
“The possibility of me leaving the White House is difficult enough to do clandestinely, I can imagine the difficulty of me leaving for space!” laughed the President. “It's obvious we have much to discuss Madam President, and if you have no objections to some of my civilian and military advisors taking my place I think we can lay some decent ground work for this venture.”
“It is agreed then Mr. President!”
“This meeting is the first of many, and there are far too many issues to sort through, issues we haven't even thought of yet that will eventually come to light. I am the President of the most powerful country on the planet, but I am not the only world leader. The United Nations will without doubt be brought into our discussions, but only after you have determined to reveal yourselves to the world,” said McGregor.
The meeting at officially ended, and both groups mingled over pastries and coffee. The Colonials were served the freshest coffee and foods they have had in a very long time. One of American officers had obviously taken an interest in Lieutenant Thrace ; he had engaged her in conversation when he discovered that she too was a fighter pilot, though his time in the cockpit was long past.
“Lieutenant I understand you are the assistant squadron leader for your air wing.” said Colonel Hoffman, more statement than question.
“That is correct, Colonel. I see by your wings that you too are a pilot.” replied Starbuck.
“I used to fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon in my younger days, now I fly a desk at Groom Lake.” he joked. His eyes locked on the attractive young fighter pilot from space. He refilled her coffee and they sat down in two of the high backed chairs.
“You look far too young to be a paper-pusher, Colonel. I'm sure you still grip a mean stick.” said Kara flirtatiously. She noted that the middle-aged Colonel stole approving glances at her tight leather flight suit. The four Viper pilots maintained their flight suit in the event of an immediate lift off.
“I would be extremely interested in checking out one of your fighters, Lieutenant.” Tigh had caught this exchange and stepped into the conversation.
“Colonel, we would be more than happy to familiarize you with our Vipers, as I'm sure our pilots are extremely interested in learning about your own fighters, especially your Raptors. Did you know that the ship we flew down on is called a Raptor?”
“I didn't know that, sir. You are correct though, I have no doubt that our pilots and yours will soon be inseparable in checking out the other's birds. Replied Hoffman.
“But that will have to wait for another time, Colonel.” said General McAllister with the Joint Chief at his side. “There will be a group traveling to their Battlestar very soon, and if you're lucky you may be one of them.”
Starbuck had found herself hoping so, she had found Hoffman very attractive, and he obviously felt the same about her. This was far too much to digest for Hoffman. He was in the company of extra terrestrial life, with the possibility of actually traveling to their space ship that had sounded like an immense Aircraft Carrier in space. The conversations continued for a few more hours. It was now 0300 hours, and the two Presidents bade each other a good night. A secure communications frequency was established between Groom Lake and the GALACTICA. The Colonial delegation returned to the GALACTICA. A heavy agenda sat before both Presidents.
FROM THE ADAMA JOURNALS:
President Roslin and Tigh have returned reporting excellent progress with Earth's delegation on their first of hopefully many meetings. There is so much to wade through, and I cannot keep our proximity to Earth a secret for much longer. Word is bound to get out from a source I personally believe will turn out to be the minister from Libra; Jonas Malek. I believe the man has an agenda of his own, one that will eventually conflict with that of the fleet's.
The next meeting will take place aboard the GALACTICA. We will dispatch two Raptors to bring military officers and civilian advisors from the President's office up from the planet under cover of darkness. We have located every surveillance satellite not controlled by the United States and will be able to avoid their detection effortlessly.
President Roslin has acquired a large food and medical shipment generously offered by President McGregor. Four Raptors will be able to make the delivery over six round trips. This will be an incredible morale booster amongst the fleet for they have not had fresh foodstuffs or medicine in abundance in a long time. I marvel at their strength and willpower in the face of rationing of every kind since our escape from the Colonies. I for one look forward to some of the Earth Coffee that Tigh raved about upon his arrival. Damn his honesty for not ‘acquiring' a container prior to his departure.
We will have to determine how much technology to share with the United States . There are other nations upon the planet, not all of them as democratic as the United States of America . I am of the opinion that we are brothers to the entire planet, regardless of religion or government. If we are to make Earth our home (and that in itself comes with its own set of challenges), than we have to embrace all nations and elevate all technologies, not only for their benefit, but also for their protection in the event the Cylons finally discover Earth.
I have decided to introduce our resident Cylon to our Earth guests. If they are to understand our history with the Cylons, and brace for their eventual arrival than they might as well know who and what they can expect. Regarding D'Anna Biers, I now end this log to fulfill a promise made.
Matthew Lensherr stood smartly in his dress gray uniform, rope braid over the left shoulder, and medals in their proper place. Beside him stood the woman he loved, and mother of his unborn child. The ceremony took place in the port-landing bay, and meant to be a small and quiet affair. Members of the Silver Spar squadron had other ideas. Every pilot not on CAP was present, as where most crewmembers not on duty.
Lensherr was well liked, even if his betrothed was not. Many still considered her the enemy, but were present out of respect for their friend and fellow crewmember. Admiral Adama, also in dress grays stood at the podium before them.
“Since our escape from the Colonies and the Cylon tyranny we have had few moments of happiness or reasons for celebration. Today I have the distinct pleasure and honor of officiating at the wedding of Captain Matthew Lensherr and D'Anna Biers. As a Colonial flag officer and Commander of the Battlestar GALACTICA, I bring forth these two in the eyes of their peers, and before the Lords of Kobol in the lock of matrimony. May the child they will soon bring into this world be another step in human and Cylon relations for peace and prosperity. May the bond these two form be a beacon for our two races. If there are no objections, I will now pronounce you man and wife!” said Adama.
Lensherr smiled and took D'Anna in his arms and kissed her deeply. Congratulatory shouts of joy rang out through the throng of pilots. Lensherr was one of their own, and regardless of how they felt about his Cylon bride, they would support him. Not everyone was pleased though, Minister Malek despised the Cylons, and raged at how Adama sheltered and accepted that monstrosity. Even if she was responsible for the fleet obtaining desperately needed fuel and materials back on the Cylon outpost, her usefulness should have ended with a good flushing out the nearest airlock. This only solidified his position that Roslin was unfit for the presidency; she of all people should have personally flushed that vile thing out the airlock. Now she was brokering the unification between Earth and the Colonies. No, this would not do! He stormed off the deck and returned to his own ship to plan.
Lensherr turned towards his squadron, Aslan, Prometheus, Nightstalker, Photon, Hotdog, Peacemaker, Kraken and Sledgehammer, surrounded Lensherr. Of the group, only Mark Sarnex embraced D'Anna. The others acknowledged her, but none moved in to embrace her. She realized that acceptance would take a long time.
Adama shook Lensherr's hand and pulled him aside privately. “Captain, D'Anna is now the wife of a Colonial officer, she WILL be afforded the respect and courtesy due the wife of a Colonial officer. Whatever happens on Earth, D'Anna will now and forever more be a Colonial. Nothing can change that.” Lensherr knew the meaning behind the words. D'Anna was now protected.
The Earth delegation boarded Raptor 1 and 2 piloted respectively by Lt. Nina Nintius and Lt. Sharon Valeri. The Raptors departed Groom Lake under cover of darkness, and accelerated to the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere.
“Well gentlemen, congratulations on being the first visitors from Earth to board the Battlestar GALACTICA.” said Nintius over her shoulder. The men, all in properly fitting flight suits and helmets looked out the forward observation window. They were streaking towards the moon at high speed. The Apollo mission of the 1960's took a far greater time to reach her. As Nintius piloted the Raptor to the far side of the Moon, it soon became apparent that they were no longer alone. Dozens of ships filled the area, and one immense vessel dwarfed them all. They were approaching the last surviving Battlestar of the Colonial fleet. GALACTICA loomed majestically before them.
Nintius knew the impact of first impressions, and she was about to give the visitors from Earth their monies worth. She took the raptor on a slow approach towards the bow of the ship, gliding over the top and slowing further over the starboard flight pod. The silence was deafening in the cabin, as the men looked slack-jawed out the window.
“This thing is bigger than two Aircraft Carriers combined.” said Hoffman incredulously. “How in the name of God did you ever construct one of these?”
“Actually we built 120 of these. GALACTICA was the oldest Battlestar at 50 years and was one of the original twelve Battlestars built, one representing each colony. She was slated for decommissioning when the Cylons attacked.”
Nintius brought the Raptor in for approach on the port-landing bay. She glided in smoothly. Touching down on an elevator, the decking magnetized holding the Raptor in place as she was lowered into the hanger. Aboard Raptor 2, Athena had given her guests a similar tour resulting in the same awestruck responses.
A full Colonial honor guard lined the landing bay. Smartly dressed officers stood before flags of the Colonies and military standards. Admiral Adama stood at attention in full dress regalia. Colonel Tigh was at his side also in dress uniform, with a junior officer in CIC.
As the hatch of the Raptors opened the honor, detail came to attention. Out stepped members of the Earth delegation, awestruck at the immensity of the hanger they were standing in. The civilian and military officers outfitted in GALACTICA issued pressure suits for the flight into space, their change of clothes in carry on bags. General McAllister stopped at Admiral Adama and issued a crisp salute. “Permission to come aboard sir?”
“Permission granted, General. Welcome aboard the Battlestar GALACTICA.” came the reply. “Your delegation will be taken to officer's quarters to change out of those flight suits. I hope you enjoyed your trip.”
“I never dreamed of being an astronaut, Admiral. This whole experience is the capstone to a thirty year military career.” replied McAllister.
Thirty minutes later Admiral Adama played host to his guests from Earth. He gave them a tour of the immense Battlestar, answering their questions and giving a brief history on the Colonial military and its warships. Many questions had been asked about the Cylons, but all were deferred to later when they would be in session. Right now Adama was enjoying a rare pleasure, walking the halls of the mighty GALACTICA, and telling of her gallant history. The gigantic warship, far bigger than anything ever built or imagined in any of Earth's militaries, in particular captivated the delegation's military officers. Two hours later the parties had adjourned to the pilot's ready room, the only place large enough to accommodate the delegation. Space aboard the Battlestar, like every other ship in the fleet was at a premium. A massive conference room had long been converted into enlisted quarters.
Lensherr and his bride had been eating their lunch in the mess hall. They were enjoying a very rare dinner of fresh meat and vegetables that had originated on Earth. Fresh foods had been extremely scarce since New Caprica. Two of Silver Spar's younger pilots, Lieutenants Neil West and Dennis Walker soon joined them.
“Mind if we crash your party, skipper?” asked Walker not waiting for a reply as he placed his tray down on the metallic table.
D'Anna had been the first to reply. “By all means gentlemen do join us. You are they only brave souls to dare sit next to the good Captain and his Cylon bride.” There was no a trace of acrimony in her voice, just resignation that this is how it would be.
“Nobody braver than a Spar, lady!” smiled West stuffing a forkful of steak into his mouth.
“Indeed?” replied D'Anna. “Tell me Matthew…where did you find these young men?” asked D'Anna earnestly. “I could grow to like them!”
“Long story.” replied Lensherr.
“I'd like to hear it.” said D'Anna obviously not interested in changing the subject.
Lensherr leaned back in his seat closing his eyes. After finishing his meal, he told the story of how Prometheus and Aslan had come under his command.
Two months after the escape from the Colonies, the GALACTICA and her charges had cruised slowly through territories previously unexplored by Colonial spacecraft. Two weeks had passed since their last encounter with the Cylons. In the CIC, Commander Adama was looking over star charts with the navigation officer, the morning's solitude interrupted by a Dradis contact. Gaeta immediately identified the contact.
“Cylon Basestar just jumped into the quadrant; it's acquired the fleet and is launching fighters!”
“XO sound action stations. Have the fleet prepare to jump to emergency coordinates and launch the alert fighters to hold off those raiders.” ordered Adama. Colonel Tigh relayed the orders immediately, it would take the fleet a few minutes to spool up their FTL's and make the jump. The Alert fighters would provide the cover they would need in the meantime.
This soon after the attack on the Colonies and the fleet's escape Adama had mandated that vipers be in their launch tubes and prepped for take off at all times. The pilot's quarters were close by and the call for action stations brought them running to the launch bay. Each pilot scampered up into their cockpit as the powered up their systems.
Silver Spar squadron was on duty this morning, Captain Matthew Lensherr; call sign Hephaestus was the first pilot down the tubes and out into space. Raptor one piloted by Lt. Nina Nintius vectored his Mark II viper christened Nemesis towards the incoming raiders. Along with his assistant squadron leader Nightstalker, he was joined by Hotdog, Photon, Prometheus, Sledgehammer, Peacemaker, Lancelot, Bedlam and Aslan, joined him.
“Hephaestus-Raptor one…I have 42 Cylon raiders on an intercept course. The Basestar is hanging back. Distance 120, speed 4.5 and closing rapidly.” The colonial vipers were outnumbered four to one with more raiders expected. Blue squadron was immediately launched to augment the alert vipers.
“Commander Adama, ships jumping away.” reported Gaeta , his head cocked to the side as he received a message over his headset. “The fueling ship is reporting FTL failure, Commander. Their Captain reports that they are attempting to restart the system, but it will take 10 minutes!”
This was bad news; Adama could not afford to leave the lone fueling ship for the entire fleet. He would have to hold off the raiders and Basestar until they could jump away.
“Helm bring us about, position the GALACTICA between incoming raiders and the fueling ship…execute!” snapped Adama. The mighty Battlestar came up alongside the fueling ship shielding it from the incoming assault. As many as 500 Kinetic energy weapons positioned themselves to provide a solid wall of fire against anything that makes it by intercept fighters.
Hephaestus glanced down at his dradis. He had ten vipers ready to engage over forty raiders with at least 14 more vipers from Blue squadron on the ay to assist. Half a dozen vipers were down for repairs, and four were sent ahead aboard the Striker to the emergency jump location to provide protection until GALACTICA arrived. The entire GALACTICA's air wing numbered 34 vipers, but the pilots knew they were more than a match for any Cylon raider, no matter how many thrown against them.
“Hephaestus to all wings broken formation and engage incoming Cylon Raiders. Whatever gets through will have to be dealt with by Blue squadron and then the GALACTICA's engagement zone. The Basestar is still hanging back, but I'm expecting it to change at any moment. Conserve your ammo and take only sure shoots!” All wings had confirmed orders and went weapons free. “Raptor 1 we'll take it from here!”
Betty had used her maneuvering thrusters to pull far back from the impending field of battle. The Raptor kicked in its afterburners and headed back for GALACTICA. The first Cylon raider came into view, and a shield covering the cockpit had slid open, a red light painted Hephaestus' Mark II viper harmlessly. “They are still attempting to disable our computers, all systems still active.” said Lensherr as he opened fire on the raider. Taking a direct hit, it explodes on contact.
The pilots of Silver Spar squadron waded into the wall of Cylon raiders unchallenged. Unbeknown to them that the raiders had been instructed to ignore them and proceed straight for GALACTICA. The raiders flew maniacally, Colonial pilots working feverishly to destroy them.
“They're not engaging us skipper, what gives?” called out Aslan.
“The Raiders are heading for GALACTICA!” Lensherr switched to the scramble frequency between him and the communications officer in CIC. “GALACTICA-Hephaestus, be advised incoming raiders are ignoring us and heading your way.”
Apollo had been monitoring the chatter and was 2 minutes out from Silver Spar's location. “Hephaestus this is Apollo, take out what you can and leave the rest to us.”
“Message received Apollo!” replied Lensherr.
Prometheus had banked hard left and gave pursuit to a raider; he painted the target with his attack computer and fired a short burst. Another kill, this was almost too easy, something was not right here. He was new to the Colonial fleet, and had been assigned to the aging Battlestar on its last tour of duty before decommissioning. Dennis “Sky” Walker was fresh out of flight school and anxious to be assigned to a Mercury class Battlestar. When the last Mark VII Viper squadron was returning to Caprica, his own viper was held aboard for problems to one of the Voram engines. That engine problem most likely saved his life; a short time later, the entire squadron led by Major Jackson “Ripper” Spencer would be disabled through a Cylon computer virus, and then mercilessly picked off one by one. His Mark VII would be damaged beyond hope of repairs in the weeks that followed. He now flew the inferior and obsolete Mark II, but strangely did not mind. The Mark II was a classic, and he had a soft spot in his heart for the tried and true.
“Prometheus heads up, you've got a raider at four o'clock high!” yelled Aslan over the comline. The raider cut loose with a barrage that barely missed the canopy. The raiders were no longer passive but firing back now.
Tigh had just received word that the first wave bypassed Silver Spar squadron and were now engaging Blue squadron. The Fueling ship had made its repairs and had now started their jump prep. They were still vulnerable for five more minutes. A new Dradis contact, all hell was about to break out.
Hephaestus did a double take at his Dradis. The Cylon Basestar had disappeared. “Where the frak did it go? Does anyone have the Basestar on their dradis?” said Hephaestus.
“Negative skipper, my dradis is clear. Odds are it hauled ass to GALACTICA's location.” replied Nightstalker now pulling up on his leader's port wing.
“All wings return to GALACTICA!” ordered Lensherr.
Aboard GALACTICA all hell had indeed broke loose. The massive Cylon Basestar had jumped to within striking distance to the smaller Battlestar. Its remaining compliment of raiders launched and bore down on GALACTICA. A blistering wall of anti-aircraft fire filled the area, raiders dropped quickly as the GALACTICA's engagement field was now fully active.
The Basestar wasted little time in launching its own offensive. Missiles streaked down from the hubs on its central axis. GALACTICA had thrown up a massive amount of flak that intercepted many of the missiles; only one had struck a glancing blow on the Battlestar.
“XO recall our squadrons immediately. Weapons officer, arm all nuclear weapons.” Adama knew this could get bad fast and had to end it quickly. “Lt. Gaeta, inform the fueling ship to jump the moment their back online, we can't hold this defensive position long.” ordered Adama.
Blue squadron had blown a massive hole in the oncoming Raiders when the recall order came through. “Apollo to all wings we're getting a recall order from GALACTICA, combat landings authorized!”
Two Raiders were in pursuit of a single Mark VII viper. The pilot; Achilles was doing his best to shake them without success. His viper had taken two glancing hits and one direct hit to the port engine. “Krypter, krypter, krypter Achilles declaring an emergency; my port engine has taken a hit forcing me to shut it down, I have two on my six o'clock and I can't shake them.”
Falcon and Falcon responded immediately, Blue squadron prided themselves on being a tight knit squadron, far superior to any other squadron aboard GALACTICA, which they all knew was only one other. Falcon came in high on the raider' two o'clock position, he was by far the most aggressive pilot of either squadron; he had the most raider kills to prove it in the time since the assault on the Colonies and their retreat. He let loose a long burst stitching the raider across the top, scattering bits of biomechanical debris throughout the cosmos. “Frak you, sucker!” hissed Falcon.
Falcon was lining the raider up in his sights. The raider weaved back and forth making a targeting lock impossible. This raider was good and he did not have an unlimited amount of ammunition to try to lead him. Major Tony Bastain was relentless and stayed on the raider's six, waiting for it to make a mistake.
By now, GALACTICA had started firing her main guns at the approaching Basestar. Raiders attempted to get through her engagement zone unsuccessfully, but missiles from the Basestar were starting to make it through the deadly flak. “Helm keep adjusting our drift, I want the fueling tanker completely covered!” ordered Adama.
“Commander we have planes coming in, Achilles has declared an emergency and is being escorted in by Apollo and Starbuck. Silver spar is 1 minute out.” informed Gaeta .
“Inform the fighters to make haste, we need to get of here,” ordered Tigh.
Aslan, Lancelot and Prometheus were the farthest vipers out from GALACTICA when the recall orders came in. They had given chase to a heavy raider and its escort. Their flight path took them far outside of the safe approach to GALACTICA. The Cylon Basestar stood between them. Lancelot, much like Falcon was an aggressive pilot and saw the Basestar as an opportunity for retribution. He poured on the speed and took a direct approach in. Prometheus had pulled up alongside him.
“You have something in mind, Lancelot?” asked Walker .
“We've been recalled, and our track will take us right by that Basestar. While their raiders are busy swarming about GALACTICA's engagement zone I say we inflict a little damage ourselves.” Replied Lancelot.
“Well as long as we have to go past the piece of felgercarb we might as well leave our calling cards.” chimed in Aslan, the most reckless of the trio. His reputation was fast gaining on the Battlestar, and not in the way that pleased the CAG. All three vipers closed on a tight formation to limit their dradis signature. Each pilot hoped that the Cylon Basestar was too preoccupied with GALACTICA to pick him up.
Hephaestus kept a count of the returning Spars on his Dradis screen while doing his best not to be blown out of the sky. He would be the last to land after his pilots, same for Apollo. Three spars were unaccounted for; he knew who two of them would be before even looking at transponder numbers. Lancelot and Aslan, his problem children. Lancelot was just cocky, but he had been a Viper pilot for years serving on at least three Battlestars. Aslan was recently assigned to Silver Spar squadron after Apollo told him that he did not want the brash young pilot. He did not know Junior Lieutenant Neil West very well, but the kid had guts and motivation, and had the makings of a great Viper pilot. The third missing pilot was a surprise, Junior Lt. Dennis Walker; call sign Prometheus, he was also unaccounted for.
Aboard GALACTICA the Cylon missiles were raining down and striking more hits, they could not withstand much more punishment. Vipers were coming in on combat landings and preparations to retract the pods were underway in order to jump.
“Commander, the fueling tanker signals their FTL's are back online and will jump in 30 seconds.” said Gaeta from his station.
“Thank you Lieutenant, how many of our fighters are onboard?”
“Almost all of Silver Spar squadron and half of Blue squadron, the Raiders are making them work for their landings.”
“Understood…I want the pods retracted the moment the last bird hits the deck and jump immediately! Patch me through to Hephaestus and Apollo.” ordered Adama.
“GALACTICA to flight leaders, stand by for GALACTICA actual.” came the call over the helmet coms worn by Apollo and Hephaestus. Both flight leaders knew this would be a “move your asses” message.
“GALACTICA actual to flight leaders…how are we coming out there gentlemen?”
Being the senior officer and flight leader, Apollo answered first. “The toasters are making it a bitch to land sir, but we're getting aboard one by one.”
“GALACTICA Actual…Hephaestus, I have three birds unaccounted for. My dradis gets intermittent signatures, but I can't get a lock on them.”
“I'll have GALACTICA's scanners try to pinpoint a location, but you need to get them aboard Captain, we cannot stay here!” warned Adama.
“Hephaestus receives Actual's message.” Frak thought Lensherr; these guys are killing me, a raider exploded at his four o'clock position courtesy of Apollo.
“You sleeping over there Hephaestus? Get your kids aboard and let's get the Frak out of here.”
The three pilots from Silver Spar were coming in hard and fast on the Basestar, if they had been picked up by the dradis it did not show. They encountered no interceptors or fire from the gigantic Basestar.
“Lancelot to Aslan and Prometheus, target the missile launchers on the center axis. If you're as low on ammo as I am then make every shot count and get the Frak out of the area. GALACTICA must be waiting on us.” Both pilots acknowledged the message and bore down on their targets. If they could score a hit on a missile before leaving its launcher, they might be able to trigger some serious damage to the Basestar by causing a chain reaction explosion.
“GALACTICA to Hephaestus, we've located three vipers making an apparent straphang run on the Basestar, Actual wants them corralled and aboard immediately.” Almost simultaneously, Hephaestus and Apollo did a 180-degree turn and took an indirect course for the Basestar. Each pilot emptied their magazines into separate launchers, Prometheus scored a direct hit on a missile prior to leaving the tube, which triggered a massive explosion. Almost immediately all Raiders reversed course back to the Basestar to defend it.
“Lets get out of here gentlemen and hope we did some damage.” said Lancelot as he put the thruster pedal to the floor. The three Vipers peeled off and sped for GALACTICA, the Basestar now filling the air with anti-aircraft fire in their wake.
“That got their attention.” yelled Aslan looking over his shoulder. The exploding missile had the desired effect in the Basestar; it triggered at least four more missiles to explode from within causing massive damage along the central axis.
The three Vipers picked up the wall of incoming Raiders and two Colonial Vipers approaching on a safer track. Hephaestus' unhappy voice filled their cockpits. “If you Fraking hotdogs are through perhaps you can get your asses back onboard GALACTICA so she can jump out of here.”
The two squadron leaders took position front and back of the three vipers, and poured on the speed for GALACTICA. If they were lucky, they would be able to avoid the incoming Raiders.
“Commander last five vipers on approach, they apparently did some serious damage to the Basestar, I'm picking up numerous explosions.” reported Gaeta .
“Helm bring us about 90 degrees starboard. Weapons, I want a full spread from the forward batteries brought to bear on the Basestar, target the center axis. Let's see if we can exacerbate the damage done by our rogue vipers.” said Adama giving Tigh a slight smile.
The pods had started to retract after the first of the tardy vipers had landed. Aslan took three bounces before coming to a complete stop. He snapped his forward landing gear and put three gouges into the deck. One by one, the remaining vipers safely landed and the landing bay was fully secured. With his hand fully on the jump key, Lt. Felix Gaeta awaited the order to jump away. GALACTICA had come about and was making for the Basestar that now started to fall back.
“Weapons…full spread, execute!” snapped Adama. A slight shudder could be felt as GALACTICA fired her forward batteries with devastating results. Three direct hits were scored on the Cylon Basestar's center axis. It began with a series of explosions, soon a fissure opened vertically on the center axis and a massive explosion sent the upper and lower sections of the once deadly Basestar in separate directions. A round of cheers and applause filled the CIC. A rare victory for a defeated humanity, all thanks to the courage if not lack of authority to attack by three members of Silver Spar squadron.
“Lieutenant Gaeta…. jump!”
Hephaestus could feel the burning gaze of one seriously ticked off deck chief behind him. Chief Tyrol was inspecting his damaged deck plates, Junior Lt Neil West at the position of attention to the left of Hephaestus. Apollo soon joined them.
“This felgercarb has to be straightened out Captain! How many Fraking times is this kid going to Frak up my deck with his half-assed landings? Now I have landing gear to reattach.” Tyrol was almost foaming at the mouth, Aslan had rubbed him the wrong way since he came aboard, and this was far from the first time that Tyrol 's deck gang would have to hammer out dents from Aslan's heavy landings.
Hephaestus had served in the Colonial service for ten years and suffered through his fair share of ass chewings. He usually made it a point to take the brunt for his pilots, and then dealt with them himself. This time Aslan was present, and would be bearing the brunt right along with him. Apollo spoke up.
“Captain Lensherr, I'm sure you have no objections to a temporary duty assignment for Lt. West to the deck gang. Chief Tyrol and I have decided to give our hotshot pilot here a taste of what it is like for the ‘knuckle draggers' to have to bust their asses to fix the decking after an avoidable heavy landing. Combat landings do not translate into crash landings, Lieutenant!” said the CAG now looking directly at Aslan.
“No objections sir.” replied Lensherr.
Tyrol jerked a thumb in Aslan's direction. “Get out of that duty uniform and don some coveralls Lieutenant, you'll be a ‘knuckle dragger' for the next 10 hours or so.” Aslan headed for the deck gang's locker room to change. Tyrol turned back to Hephaestus and laughed. “How is it you get assigned these wannabee hotshots, Matt?”
“Just lucky I guess.” replied Lensherr smiling. “Look I have no problem with detailing him over to you guys, he keeps coming in heavy and there has to be a price for it, but you got to admit the kid has balls. When was the last time you saw three Mark II Vipers do a straphang run on a Cylon Basestar?”
“I agree Matt, but don't let these guys know it…their egos are big enough already. Lancelot comes as no surprise; his ego writes checks his body cannot cash…only a matter of time before he bites off more than he can chew. Aslan…well you know that story already, but Prometheus …I had that kid pegged for a straight shooter.”
“I think all three of them were caught up in a situation that resulted in them following their senior officer. Lancelot made the call to straph, and they followed. Hey, the result was a destroyed Basestar, and a tremendous morale boost for the fleet. We need to take these victories where we can.” said Lensherr.
“You need to take that kid under your wing Hephaestus. We are on limited supplies and replacement parts. Gods only know when we'll reach Earth, but I do know that the Cylons are going to come after us with everything they've got, and I can't afford to have any of my planes down, understood?” asked Apollo.
“Aye aye sir, I'll keep him under control. Off the record, I think this kid will make an excellent Viper pilot. I see a bright future for him…as bright as we can possibly make it running for our lives with all that's left of humanity.”
Hephaestus retired to the officer's rec room to grab a beer; he was tired but could not bring himself to hit the rack for sleep yet. Prometheus and Lancelot were finishing their drinks at a table with Nina Nintius and Jenna St. Lynn , another Spar; call sign Kraken.
He pulled up a seat between Kraken who was smoking a cigar, and Nintius who held a half empty mug of Caprican Ale. Both women were off duty, and wore fatigue pants and thin cotton tank tops that barely contained their ample assets.
“Good afternoon Matthew!” purred Nintius. “What brings you to this den of iniquity?'
“Hot female pilots rumored to be buying us poor males endless rounds of beer.” replied Lensherr.
“Frak that rumor mill.” laughed Kraken “I think Betty and I need to be bought drinks by the endless perverts that inhabit this hell hole.” said Kraken looking at the leering Lancelot as she pulled her shirt collar higher up over firm breasts.
“No need to adjust yourself on my account, lass.” shot back Lancelot continuing to admire Kraken's revealing attire.
Hephaestus ignored the exchange and turned towards Prometheus. “Dennis that was some decent shooting, excellent idea to turn on your wing camera. You caught that missile before it cleared its launch tube.”
“Thank you sir, to be honest I don't even recall activating the camera.” replied Walker .
“Oh handsome and modest…what an adorable combination.” said Nina leveling her eyes on Prometheus.
“Well your well placed shots gave GALACTICA an opportunity to extract a little revenge. That is one less Basestar they'll be using to harass us.” said Lensherr. “I just thought I'd let you know that the efforts of you three, while unauthorized, are appreciated and will be remembered.”
“Is the old man gonna give us a promotion, skipper?” laughed Lancelot.
“Well at the very least it's worth a commendation and another round.” said Lensherr as he signaled another round to be brought to the table.
Lancelot just would not give up on Kraken; she was a very attractive woman with an incredibly fit body. She could drink, smoke and play pyramid with the best of the men, and her skill on the stick of a Raptor earned her respect from her peers. With more beers in him than he probably should he decided to push a little further.
“Come on darling, I know just the place for you and I to get some alone time.” He whispered in her ear, the stench of stale Caprican ale assaulting her nostrils. He was in close and ran his fingers across the low collar of her tank top and across the top of her breasts. A smile spread across her face, which in turn made Lancelot smile. He had long wanted to get in her flight suit from the moment she was assigned to GALACTICA.
“You want me up close and personal, stud?” she purred softly looking deep into his eyes.
“You're Fraking right I do!” replied the drunken Lancelot. Kraken smiled again and with a quick move downwards lifted the leg of Lancelot's chair straight out and up sending him sprawling to the floor, stunning him momentarily. Getting up she grabbed a hand-held Carbon Dioxide extinguisher off a wall mount and shoved the nozzle down the front of his pants and squeezed the trigger. Lancelot sobered up quickly as the frozen blast struck him deep into his manhood. Kraken reached out with her free hand and hoisted the stunned pilot to his feet by his shirt collar, kissing him full on the lips devoid of any passion, like marble scraping against steel.
“I like a man with balls Lance…just not frozen ones!” she dropped him to the floor as he clutched his groin and walked out triumphantly.
Nintius, Lensherr and Walker just exchanged silent glances. Nintius finally burst out laughing. “I love that girl, she has pure attitude.” Lensherr helped a dazed and uncomfortable Lancelot to his feet.
“Lords of fraking Kobol what goes through your mind?” exclaimed Lensherr.
“That is one fiery woman, skipper. Well worth the effort!” Lensherr just shook his head and left for his quarters. The short walk to the stateroom he shared with three other officers was what he called home. Normally a squadron leader would have his own stateroom aboard a Battlestar, but times had changed, privacy was not an option, and every available space utilized at its maximum potential. Stripping down to his shorts and tank top, Lensherr stretched out on his rack and soon was fast asleep.