Word Count: 9,224
Warnings: Mild descriptive imagery, no worse than anything seen on CSI. Rough language.
Summary: What effect did all of the hyper-light jumps and attacks have on Galactica herself? This story focuses on the engineering crew and thier tireless efforts to keep this legendary ship flying proudly to protect the civilian population.
Spoilers/Disclaimers: Not mine, just for fun!
-------94------- Chief Engineer, Major Peter Ryland, stood frowning over his jump engines. The cycle up was going smoothly, power was being transferred correctly, but something didn't quite sound right to him….
The pitch was too low.
He turned to monitor the power curve; a little bit low, but still well within tolerances. He glanced over at the field stabilization matrix and it looked normal as well.
They sound too slow.
Ryland, his chief mate, Captain Cassandra Jaynes, a recent refugee transplant from the destroyer-class ship, Predator, and an FTL engine officer were in the small, but all-important jump engine control room aboard the Battlestar Galactica.
"Fifteen seconds," reported his FTL engine specialist, Ensign Robert Doynel.
"I'm telling you Major, I don't see anything." Jaynes said in mild disgust to her superior. Ryland had been going on for a couple of hours about a `feeling'.
"Something's wrong, I can feel it and I can hear it." Ryland said for the umpteenth time. "It sounds as if the cycle-up is getting slower."
Jaynes went to the field coil control panel and ran a quick check. "Bobby, you see anything wrong with the field coils?"
"No, sir." The young ensign answered. The senior FTL officer, Lieutenant Jack Yohns, was aboard Colonial One assisting with a problem with their FTL engines. Actually, over a third of Ryland's five hundred and sixty-one person engineering crew were out assisting civilian ships during this harrowing experience, and that could cause some problems if this situation would continue for any length of time. He and his remaining staff hadn't slept in over two days. Some haven't in even longer. In that time the fleet of survivors had made ninety-three, now coming up on ninety-four coordinated jumps, just as the Cylons attack the fleet. Engineering definitely isn't the place to be screwing around with little or no rest.
Jump engine control is no exception. With the paramount importance of the jump engines, one minor slip could have catastrophic results with the amount of power and energy that's routed through this critical system.
The clock above them started flashing as the it went to zeros. "Time." Donyel reported un-necessarily. "CIC reporting confirmed DRADIS contact…
"Cylons." Donyel said with obvious frustration.
"Maybe next time, Bobby," Jaynes clasped her hand down on the man's shoulder.
Ryland went over the final checklist as he had ninety-three times before for the jump prep, then picked up the handset and dialed CIC.
"CIC, Officer of the Watch," came the steady voice of Lieutenant Gaeta.
"CIC. Engineering; jump engines on hot standby." Ryland reported for the ninety-fourth time.
"Thank you," Gaeta hung up abruptly. Ryland shook his head. On one account he was glad he wasn't up in CIC. On the other, he wasn't happy with this current set of circumstances in engineering.
Up until three days ago the Galactica's two jump engines had been used for a grand total of fourteen hours – combined. Now, after ninety-three jumps, they had run almost continuously for fifty-two hours and some warts were starting to show. Fortunately, a catastrophic event hadn't occurred. Ryland was getting the feeling that something bad was going to go down.
The ship-wide announcement beacon sounded. "All stations stand by to jump."
Ryland and Jaynes turned to the thick heavily darkened observation windows looking over the field effect coils that comprised Galactica's two jump engines. Each jump system was set side-by-side in a massive open bay at the lowest level in the engineering section. Each engine had two-hundred and fifty-six magnetic field manipulation coils set in two banks that spun around a core magnet one hundred meters long. Each bank had one hundred and twenty-eight over and under C-shaped coils.
Power was fed to the engines from several large power conduits attached at the front of the units then reaching for the ceiling ten meters above into the reactor room. There, the solid fuel mineral tylium was converted into two forms, plasma electricity for the jump engines, and for the ships' electrical requirements, and a combustible fuel source for the Galactica's mighty sub-light engines. The coils spun around the core creating an energy field that when discharged, `folded' space around the Galactica allowing it to instantaneously jump to a point several light years away. Nothing fancy to look at, but the simplistic looking devices had been saving their asses time and time again.
On the port side of the bay was `Jump One', an aging relic of a jump system, which was of the Version Two Jump System vintage, and was retrofitted for the Galactica from a fast-attack cruiser. Jump One was over ten years old, but had very few hours of use on it.
Jump Two was substantially newer. It was only eight months old, and only had an hour of test time on it. Jump Two was originally slated for install on the Battlestar Triton, but a new version jump engine was approved for use and the Galactica lucked her way into a Version Seven jump engine. Not that she'd ever need it, seeing as how Galactica hadn't jumped in over twenty years, but she was due for a replacement and somehow walked into it.
Ryland had figured it was there just for storage purposes until the full de-commissioning of Galactica. Jump Two had been shouldered the load for most of Galactica's jumps as it was responsible for sixty percent of the ships' faster than light capability.
The field coils lit up in an eerie blue light as the `go' signal was received from the helm in the CIC. The room around them seemed to start folding in upon itself as the jump effect began. Behind Ryland and Jaynes came a sharp warning chirp. The two started to turn but were caught mid rotation when time froze around them. A sudden bright light enveloped the senses as the ship passed from its current coordinates to its destination point some twenty-five light years away in an instant.
------95------ Jaynes nearly fell after the jump as her spin caused some disorientation. The fatigue from lack of sleep was starting to set in.
"What's that Doynel?" Ryland asked, moving to help his transplanted officer back to a level stance.
Doynel furiously played the consol in front of him. "Field matrix induction stabilizer jay-seven on Jump Two has failed." Reported Doynel. "Coil overload. Port inboard side, numbers - Two-oh-two, two- hundred and one ninety-eight have failed."
"Ahh, shit!" Jaynes exclaimed and slapped her hands together.
"Frak me!" Ryland scoffed. He made his way over to the phone on the bulkhead near the control panel, yanked it out and dialed CIC. "Bobby, cut power to Jump Two. Siphon off as much you can from the overflow cells and divert to main batteries." Doynel confirmed his orders.
"CIC, comm operator." Petty Officer Dualla answered.
"Dee, this is Ryland get me Actual please."
The line went dead for a moment. Ryland went back to studying the readouts on the damage. Pretty localized should be a quick fix. Sixty to ninety minutes tops.
He cupped his hand over the receiver. "Cas," Jaynes turned to her boss. "Get Thad up here, I've got to ask him some structural integrity questions." Jaynes nodded and went to the other phone. Although she was new to the team she fit in seamlessly, Ryland made a mental note for a commendation.
"This is the Commander," Adama answered.
"Commander, we have a serious problem back here," He could hear the groan of Colonel Tigh in the background. Ryland must be on the speaker. "Jump Two is down; I've lost an induction stabilizer and three field coils."
"That's a problem." Adama recognized. "How long will it take to fix?"
"Fortunately it's a localized problem, should only take about ninety minutes to repair and test, sir." Ryland reported
"Major, how will this affect our jump capabilities?"
Ryland wasn't looking forward to this. "It cuts our jump radius by sixty percent." He waited for the gruff response, but got nothing as he could hear Gaeta announcing the clock reset and the order for jump ninety-five preparation. "Sir, I recommend that once Jump Two is back on-line we take Jump One down and run a full diagnostic."
"What for?" Tigh demanded.
Idiot, Ryland thought. "It will give me a chance to see what systems are stressed on the engine and to prepare for any other failures with some preventative maintenance, sir.
"These engines haven't been run like this – ever. Crap like this is bound to happen. I can't even imagine what problems are occurring on civilian ships. I'm short-handed enough with a third of my staff out helping the civvies, so I'd rather err on the side of caution and give it a good going over right now in case this goes on for some time."
"Understood Major," Adama answered, agreeing wholeheartedly. "Those engines are definitely our top priority as they have been saving our asses for the last two plus days. Give me a progress report in one hour. Carry on. Adama out." Adama disconnected his end.
Ryland hung up his phone and ran his hand through his grimy sweaty hair, rubbed his neck and exhaled heavily. He looked at the control board yet again and at the accusing flashing red lights.
Alright, let's get it on, he thought.
"Alright. Bobby, Cas, get a team ready to pull those coils. I'll deal with the induction stabilizer. See if you can pull a few people from the sub-light engines to come and help." Both officers acknowledged and hurried off to their duties. Ryland went to his get his tool belt as the ship's carpenter, the person responsible for structural integrity and hull repairs, came into the jump engine control room.
Captain Thaddeus Mott was a big burly guy just over two meters tall. Although Ryland was nearly two meters himself and was broad shouldered, Mott made him look like a twig.
"What's up, Pete?" He asked in his big booming voice.
"Lords! Don't you come with a volume control?" Ryland teased his berthing mate. It was a running joke between the two friends. Mott worked around heavy loud machinery all day long and his deep booming baritone voice was his signature. Just as some singers can shatter a glass just by hitting the right frequency; Mott could crack hull plating with his voice.
Ryland adjusted his tool belt around his orange work jumper. "I probably should have asked this earlier, but what does all of this jumping around do to our framing and chassis?"
"Don't' worry, Pete," he crossed his arms. "I'm not." He nodded. "Galactica maybe over fifty years old, but as the old saying goes - Folks don't build `em like they used to." Mott said reassuringly.
Ryland nodded back with a thin smile. "I want you to keep a close eye on the area around the jump engines. There could be some molecular de-cohesion with the frequency of the jumps."
"Highly unlikely but," Mott got a cross look from his boss. "Understood, sir!" Mott saluted and left.
Ryland really wasn't done with him yet, but he let it go. Mott and his team were working on the port landing pod and reinforcing it after the first attack on Galactica. The nuclear detonation on the hull weakened one of the more important structures on the ship. The port landing pod was all that the Vipers and Raptors had at this point as the starboard pod was still sealed with large windows. Most of the deck crew was killed in the attack as CPO Tyrol had lost a lot of good men that day, but so had everyone else.
By the billions.
By the time that the power-down sequence was complete it was only ten minutes to the next jump. Jaynes had gotten all of the replacement parts together and they were waiting on several pallets near the access doors. He and Jaynes went and took a quick survey of the generator room three decks up and were back just in time for the pleasant announcement that the Cylons had found them yet again.
Ryland requested that they manually run the jump sequence since only one jump engine was active. As soon as the call came from CIC that all Vipers were aboard, they manually conducted the jump.
-----96----- Fortunately, no problems arose with only a single jump engine functioning. As soon as they were clear, Ryland and twelve other engineering team members swarmed Jump Two.
Ten people worked on replacing the damaged field coils. Ryland and a tech specialist worked quickly on the induction stabilizer control board. Basically, the stabilizer was a power relay and computer circuit board that regulated the flow of power into the field coils. The repair went quickly and in less than fifteen minutes the two were testing the new pathway and buttoning up the panel. Ryland left the tech to finish up and check on the coil replacement progress.
Getting the spent coils out was easy, you could be as rough as you wanted, but installing the new coils was a dicey operation that took several people handling the coil and slowly raising it into place. Jaynes wanted the coil contact points cleaned so that no left behind carbon scoring could potentially cause the same problem and that took the team right up to the next jump. For never serving aboard a Battlestar, Jaynes knew her stuff.
"Okay ladies and gents; Time!" Ryland shouted. "Out of the room. Make sure you clear yourself over the grounding plate when you leave." Ryland was referring to a static discharge plate just in front of the hatch. The plate released any low-level static charge that a person may have built up working around such a high magnetic field area. Theoretically a person could still hold a charge until the right conditions existed for them to discharge or become a `charge stopper' and receive a jolt that could kill a person quite easily. With as much juice that the jump engines needed and the field output of the coils to `fold' a ship the size of Galactica, such an event could occur just by walking across an exposed metal deck.
Every walking surface fore of the engineering firewall was metal with a few carpeted exceptions. Aft of the firewall, a four meter thick bulkhead, over ninety percent of the walking surfaces were either covered in a rubber mat or made of a strong carbon fiber resin.
Ryland cleared his team and was the last man out of the jump engine room. He and Jaynes double-key locked the hatch just as the clock turned to zero. Doynel moved through the crowd and sat at his station.
"Damn! CIC reports…." Doynel started.
"That's enough of that, Bobby." Ryland said quietly. "How `bout something more constructive?"
"Aye, sir. Sorry, sir." Ryland waved him off. Doynel worked his panel adjusting the settings for the pending order to execute the jump.
One minute passed.
The ship suddenly lurched from exploding ordinance impacting on the hull. A few more direct hits, more powerful this time. Ryland exchanged a furtive glance with Jaynes as the emotions in the room began to escalate into panic mode.
"Ensign, has CIC plotted coordinates for the next jump?" Jaynes asked.
Doynel slid over to another station and accessed the navigational control computer. "Aye, sir, they have."
"Whaddya think?" Jaynes asked Ryland.
"Call up and ask. There's got….." a strong impact nearby threw everyone to the deck. Ryland scrambled to the phone.
Jaynes and Doynel ran a systems check; no damage. No injuries either from the large impact concussion.
"CIC, this is engineering, what's the hold up?" Ryland questioned Petty Officer Dualla
"Colonial One is having problems with its FTL systems," answered Dualla. Not much could hide the concern in her voice.
"Dee, patch me through to Colonial One." Ryland ordered.
He didn't have to wait long.
"This is Colonial One!" Their comm operator barked.
"Get me Lieutenant Yohns." Ryland shouted over another impact not quite as severe as the last.
"He's a bit busy right now."
What the hell!? Ryland looked at his receiver in mild shock at the temerity of the response. He put it back to his ear. "This is his boss, please put him on the line," Ryland said in child-like slowness.
"This is Yohns." Came the inpatient response.
"Jack, this is Ryland. Having any problems?" He said.
"Ohh – none that can't be cured by magically wiping out the entire Cylon race with a mere thought." Ryland chuckled. "FTL computer crashed am having to reboot on nearly every jump. This has been a real treat. Thanks for the assignment!"
"You're welcome. Now do your frakkin' job so we can get the hell outta here." Ryland shot back.
"All right, keep your shirt tucked in. We're ready to roll." Yohns hung up.
Another impact slammed them all to the deck again. This one was much closer. Alarm klaxons pierced the air as the lights flickered and faded out in the control room. Ryland was on his feet quickly and stepped on several crewmembers as he struggled to find a lamp. He got it on and quickly scanned the jump engine boards. By good design the system was on a battery backup so that a combat jump could be made quickly after main power was restored.
"Damn did you have to stomp on my chest?" Jaynes said.
"Then quit falling down, jackass!" Ryland kidded. "Main power is out."
"Can't do anything from here, we've got to get to main engineering control." Jaynes said after playing with the console.
"Four decks up. Let's go." Ryland grabbed a portable communicator clipped the microphone to his shoulder and the receiver to his belt. "Bobby, when main power comes back up don't wait for orders from CIC, punch it and get us the hell outta here."
Ryland and Jaynes climbed the four decks to the much more spacious main engineering control room in record time. When they got there, it wasn't a pretty sight. Emergency lighting had kicked in and the two wished it hadn't.
Just visible through the blue haze of smoke, bodies were strewn everywhere and the smell of burnt flesh was the prevailing odor. They both looked for Lieutenant Asno, who was in charge, and found her at the master control panel. Her hands and forearms were severely burnt and her work jacket was smoking from a large jolt of electricity. She was still working, although in obvious pain.
Ryland fumbled with his communicator through a few more direct hits, and got the walkie-talkie to access local wireless. "Medical emergency: Triage teams to main engineering control on the double!"
He gently pulled Asno away from the useless fried panel. "Lisa," she ignored him. "Lisa!" Ryland shouted. She came out of her crazed trance her eyes rolled and she collapsed in his arms. He laid her gently on the deck. He felt for a pulse; weak, and not a beat that anyone would dance to, but still kicking. The ship rattled with a few more hits.
We're sitting ducks. Ryland thought. "Cas, I need power now, or we're never getting out of here!"
"Primary power has been disrupted at the reactor distribution junction!" Jaynes unceremoniously rolled a body off of the main energizer monitor station. "Main energizers are still on, I'll have power back in ten…." Sparks arced from the panel in front of her.
Jaynes covered her eyes; she pulled back waved heavy smoke away from in front of her and turned to Ryland.
"We're finished." Jaynes said ominously.
Suddenly the ship came back to life.
Panels crackled and sparked as power was restored to the beleaguered system monitors. Ryland heard the jump engine cycle up and…
----97---- Ryland was picking himself up from the floor again which seemed to be a recurring theme that he would rather forego.
"That was rough," he said aloud rubbing a fresh bump on the back of his head.
"Damn, Bobby didn't wait did he?" Jaynes chuckled out of amazement, rather than actual joviality. "He initiated the jump before the inertial stabilizers fully kicked in!"
"Anyone need a power coupling replaced?" Mott's voice boomed from the hatchway as he entered the control room.
"Yeah! A few, by the looks of it." Ryland said. Some of the other less injured crew were attending to the more seriously injured. The phones started ringing.
"Cas, call Bobby and have them get back to work on the field coils." Ryland ordered. "What are you doing here?" He asked Mott.
"Power went down; I was in the reactor room looking for parts. I re- routed power to the secondary's manually." Ryland looked at Mott questioningly. It would take nearly super-human strength to re-route those systems by hand. "I had some help." Mott said with a smile.
"Thank the Lords!" Ryland said emphatically.
He grabbed the nearest ringing phone. "Main engineering, Ryland."
"Major, what's your status down there?" Tigh asked, sounding relieved at the sound of Ryland's voice.
"We must have taken some kind of direct hit from something big…"
"It was five direct simultaneous strikes."
"…That'll do it. Anyhow," Ryland paused checking the mains. "Everything looks stable now. I'm assuming the jump went okay?"
"We got away, Major. Nice work."
"Could really use some medical assistance down here, I've got a lot of injured!" Ryland looked back at Asno who appeared conscious, but was shaking from shock.
"The main bulkhead entrance at the firewall was secure-shut after the power went down. Medical teams are stuck there." Tigh reported.
Ryland snapped his fingers at Mott. He came over to the main ship schematic on the master control table in the center of the room. Ryland pointed to the emergency doors. Mott nodded and ran off. "Captain Mott is on his way, Colonel."
"Good. How bad are we hurt?"
"It might take a day to pick up the pieces." Ryland said rubbing his forehead leaving char trail and blood stain from Lieutenant Asno on it. "With the main power distributor down it's going to make my life a helluva lot harder. I'm going to isolate the jump engines to direct feed off of the secondary reactor." Ryland knew that direct linking the jump engines to the secondary reactor was a big gamble as the jump engines can't handle that much raw power. There were ways to step the power down, but that means having to re-route the additional power elsewhere.
"Do you think that's a wise idea?" Tigh questioned.
"Don't see much of a choice. If something like this happens again, we're frakked." Silence on the other end as Tigh was thinking about it.
"All right, Major." Ryland sighed. "Do what you need to do to keep us up and running." Tigh hung up.
"Pete," Cas approached. "Mott says he's got the doors open."
"Good." Ryland felt a bit more relieved and Jaynes gave the same impression.
"Bobby, reports that he's got two coils replaced and the third might be done before the next jump."
"Tell him not to push it. We don't need any more injuries." Jaynes nodded. "I need you to take over up here and get this mess cleaned up. Re-route the secondary reactor to the jump engine power grid directly." He got a skeptical look from Jaynes. "Take the overflow and … I don't know," Ryland scratched his head and looked at a cut on his right hand. Bingo!
"Power up the starboard landing pod!"
"What? It's already got power?" Jaynes questioned.
"No, the museum and what-not was being run on low power. Power it all the way up. Launch tubes, fuel systems. The works. I want it all running."
"Museum?" Jaynes said with mild disgust. Ryland gave her and 'I'll explain later look. She threw her hands up. "I'm on it." Jaynes said with confidence.
Ryland left when the med teams arrived and headed back to jump control.
Back at jump control, it was thirteen minutes to jump. Ensign Doynel was herding everyone out of the field coil room. Ryland was pissed that Doynel was being too cautious.
"What the frak? You've still got a good ten minutes!" He yelled at the young ensign.
"It will take more than ten minutes to get squared away. We have to button up now and isolate the primary ground anyway. We'll have the new coil in place five minutes after jump and we can begin power-up sequence in ten." Doynel explained.
Ryland went to the observation windows and thought about it.
Doynel was right. He cautioned against pushing, and the ensign was doing his job.
"You're right, Bobby, my fault. I apologize."
"I heard we lost a few?" Doynel asked.
"We didn't lose anyone!" Ryland spat. Doynel took a step back at the fury in the major's voice.
Ryland shook his head and shrugged another apology. Doynel understood and patted his boss on the back. "Lisa Asno was critically injured, I don't know how….," he shook his head again and tried to dismiss the images of the carnage in main control room.
Doynel grimaced. He and Asno were close friends.
Doynel returned to the control station. "Spinning up FTL Jump One," he reported quietly. "Boss?" Ryland came over at his request. "There's a shitload more power here than I need. I'm going to have some problems with this. It might overload the grid. It's like I'm tied directly into the main reactor?"
"You are. Well at least a direct link to the secondary reactor." He sat next to the young man. "Just turn down the power flow, you should be okay."
Doynel adjusted the power regulation. The flow weakened as the starboard landing pod came to life and Doynel had to re-adjust the power flow again. He stabilized it just before the clock reached zeros for the ninety-seventh time.
---98--- Ninety seven went off without a hitch, a slight delay happened as a civilian ship, the Olympic Carrier, had a glitch in its navigation computer. The pilot had thought that he accidentally transmitted navigational computations and final coordinate confirmation in the clear. Meaning that the Cylons would know exactly where they had gone - instantly.
A post jump comm review was inconclusive.
Ryland and his team had the third coil replaced, and began power-up for testing. He certified the engine for use and told CIC they could plot a full jump for this cycle.
Jump One could wait a bit.
--99-- Jump One was powered down and released from use as power was re- directed to Jump Two. Most everyone that helped with the coil replacement moved back to their normal duties. Only two other tech specialists remained to run the diagnostics.
Jaynes came and checked on Ryland, Doynel and the remaining two crewmen. Jaynes reported to Ryland that Asno had third degree burns over forty percent of her body, and might not make it. One other crewman had second and third degree burns over eighty percent of his body and wasn't expected to live to the next jump.
"I've never lost anyone under my command." Ryland confessed.
"Hell, Peter, you're only what – thirty four/five?" Jaynes said re- directing the conversation after a minute of silence.
"I'll be thirty-five in three months."
"Damn, you've got to be one of the youngest Battlestar chief engineers in the fleet!" Jaynes said.
"I am the youngest, by five years." Ryland raised his eyebrows. "Fleet wanted me on the command track, but I pushed for the engineering track. My dad was an Admiral and he made sure I stayed put. He never thought I had the `intestinal fortitude' to be a Commander."
"You're third officer here; you make tough decisions everyday, Pete. You've been doing this for three years now, right? From what I've seen, you can more than handle yourself and corral senior ship commanders."
"When my promotion came through – for Major – Tigh thought that my Dad had something to do with it." Ryland smiled. "I asked too." Ryland took a swig from a water bottle that Jaynes had brought. "I thought the old man was going to strip me of rank and drum me out right then and there."
"Something amazing," Ryland turned to check on a beeping panel and made a couple of adjustments. "He told me that I got here on my own." He turned looked at Doynel through the observation window and gave a thumbs-up. "He also said that of all of the CE's that served under him, I would have been the only one that he would have trusted to come through in a pinch."
"Wow!" Jaynes said.
"Big time compliment from him: Never had one before, or after that again."
Doynel came back in from the coil room. "Jump One looks good boss, we're ready to roll. The only problem I see is a very slight fluctuation in coil number forty-three. I can yank it now or do it later. We've got one ready to go."
Ryland looked at the countdown.
"Can you get it that fast?"
"Caught a good break, it ended up spun facing down, it slides in and out. I could have it pulled, dropped in and tested in ten minutes."
"Do it." Ryland nodded. Doynel moved off.
Ten minutes goes by either very quickly or very slowly when you're sleep deprived. It goes by quickly when nothing important is going on, but when the shit hits the fan – ten minutes seems like an eternity.
The slow version of the ten minutes went by, and then some.
Ryland checked the clock and saw that there were just under six minutes left on the countdown. Doynel hadn't returned.
Jaynes went back to main engineering and Ryland went to check on the young officer.
"Let's go Bobby; we've got to start the spin-up sequence." Ryland clapped his hands together several times.
"Yes, sir, we're done here." Doynel shouted across the room. "Finish this up," he said to a tech and walked over to Ryland.
"Had a problem getting the newer coil to adapt to the old rail system, couple of modifications and she's in tight, sir."
"Good! Get back in the control room and fire `em up. I'll get everyone out."
Ryland clapped his hands together and shouted. "Move it folks, we've only got a minute or two." The two specialists came by. Ryland offered applause for their efforts and reminded them to check for missing tools.
"Oh, shit. I forgot a spanner." One of them said.
"If it's on the floor, leave it."
"I think I left it on the rack." He said sheepishly.
Ryland pursed his lips. "Go tell Ensign Doynel to hold the spin-up," he said to the other specialist.
"Aye, sir," she responded.
"You'll need help getting up there?" Ryland said and ushered the specialist back to the coil assembly.
Doynel's voice came over the intercom. "I started the sequence, Major. You've got thirty seconds."
Ryland waved as he helped the man up to get his tool. He retrieved it and slid down the access cover. The two made their way back to the bulkhead when the coils suddenly came to life.
Ryland's hair stood up. "SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!!" He screamed.
Ryland tried to grab the specialist to keep him from running, but he did anyway. The kid missed the grounding plate, stumbled and put his hands out to break his fall. Fortunately the kid had enough sense instead to tuck and roll through the hatchway. Ryland made it to the grounding plate and tried to reach for him. He had enough of a static charge built up already that Ryland got a good jolt from the man. The jump engines reached charge stage and began to release the field distortion wave.
Ryland just got the door closed in time as a bolt of electricity licked out from the core and electrified the hatchway. Ryland and the specialist were shot across the small room and slammed into an equipment locker.
-100- Doynel and the other specialist rushed over to Ryland after they secured from the jump.
"Major! Are you okay?" the ensign asked.
Ryland rolled to his back then flattened out. He slowly raised his hands to cover his eyes. He filled his chest with as much air as he could and held it there.
"AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" He screamed as hard and as loud as he could.
"Damnit that hurt!" He looked at his hands and found a couple of blackened finger nails. He went to run his hands through his hair, but found that he couldn't flatten it. "Lords! I feel like I'm itching to death!
Ryland took a physical inventory of himself. "How's Matice?" Ryland asked almost forgetting about the young man.
"He went into cardiac arrest, we got him on-line. I've got a med team inbound to take him to sick bay." Doynel reported.
"Why the hell were the jump engines activated so quickly?"
"Jump execution order came directly from CIC override." Doynel frowned.
"Lovely!" Ryland got up slowly as the room started spinning around him. Easy big guy.
Jaynes came bounding in. "Heard you has some excitement in here?"
Ryland gave her a nasty hand gesture as he picked up the phone and dialed CIC.
"CIC. This is the XO."
"Tigh! What the frak is going on up there!" Ryland yelled.
"Watch yourself, Major!" Tigh shot back.
"You sent another crewman of mine to medical, and damn near killed me as well!"
"The Cylons jumped right into the middle of us! We didn't even have time to get the Vipers out, we had to jump." Tigh explained.
"I'm disengaging jump control activation from CIC….."
"You can't do that, Major!"
"Yes. I. Can." Ryland said slowly. "I can because I've got people down here working on these high power transfer systems and we need a bit of notice before you go and give the order to fry us all like chickens!"
"That's not going to cut it Major. Your people should be out of the way before any of those systems go active during jump prep."
"Well! Your sorry ass isn't down here….."
Click. Tigh hung up.
"That drunk son-of-a BITCH!" Ryland slammed the receiver down. He looked around at Doynel, the other crewman and Jaynes. "Cas, you're in charge." She nodded. "I'm headed to CIC."
Ryland went to remove his tool belt, but decided he might need a weapon. He stormed out of the control room and headed forward. By the time he reached the firewall his anger subsided a bit, by the time he reached CIC, Tigh was no where to be found.
"Gaeta! Where the hell is the XO?" Ryland demanded.
Gaeta looked up in surprise as the Chief of Engineering was rarely spotted fore of the firewall when he was on duty.
"Umm. I believe that he and the Commander are in sick bay checking on the wounded, Major."
Ryland looked at the clock. Twenty-four minutes out.
"When do they usually get back to CIC before zeros?" Ryland asked.
"They're usually not gone too long, sir." Gaeta then looked to the port entry way as the two senior officers entered the CIC.
Ryland spun on his heels to face the senior commanders.
"Before you bash Colonel Tigh's head in, Major," Adama started before Ryland got a word out, "you should know that both of you are right." Adama stated much to Tigh's and Ryland's confusion.
"I don't need problems between the two of you," Adama started again. "As long as the Major has people working in the trenches, he has operational control over his engines. Safety is priority one. Understood?" Both men nodded in agreement to their commanding officer.
Tssss. Score one for the grease monkeys! Ryland thought.
"Why is the starboard landing bay powered up?" Adama asked.
"I wanted to tie the secondary reactor directly to the jump engines. I needed a place to send the extra juice." Ryland explained. "If the engines are being continuously run, it's best to keep power to them all the time instead of gating the power and turning them off and on. It lets the components to stay warm instead of cooling down, re- heating and causing more problems." Ryland explained.
"What if we need the secondary reactor?" Tigh asked.
"We just re-route power normally."
"So you're keeping the FTL system spinning at all times?" Adama asked.
"No." Ryland covered a yawn. "We don't start the spin up until three minutes out."
Suddenly the entire CIC went dead and dark.
"Report!" Adama, Tigh and Ryland barked simultaneously.
Lieutenant Gaeta activated the emergency lighting. "Main power forward of the engineering bulkhead has been disrupted. Power to the port pod has been interrupted as well."
"How far out are we?" Adama asked for the time check.
Gaeta turned to his analog clock over the tactical station. "Twenty- two minutes."
Ryland grabbed a handset.
"Comms are down." Dee reported.
Ryland hoped his wireless had the power to reach through the engineering firewall. "Ryland to engineering: Anyone got their ears on?" Static was his first reply. "Frak," he shook his head.
"Major Ryland, this is Jaynes, you copy?"
Ryland reached to his shoulder for his handset. "Hell yeah, I do. Give me a sit-rep."
"Main PTC coupling just fore of the firewall has polarized."
"Damn! That has to be replaced." Ryland said.
"How long?" Adama asked.
Ryland's laugh made Adama wince. "The better part of a day," Tigh went expressionless. "Somehow I'll get us out of this."
Ryland keyed his handset. "Captain, reroute power to the port landing pod through the beta-circuit couplings. Get Thad working on the main couplings ASAP."
"He's already there, boss" Jaynes responded.
"All right, I'll be there as soon as I can."
"Sirs, we don't have DRADIS or defensive capabilities with main power out." Gaeta reminded softly.
"Well, it will save us some bullets." Adama said dryly.
"Our jump, sir?" Gaeta asked. A bigger question mark than the guns.
They all turned to Ryland. "Call back to Ensign Doynel, he can manually input the jump coordinates to the auxiliary nav computer from jump control."
"Comms are down." Dee reminded softly.
"Not for long." Ryland keyed his handset. "Jaynes: Do you know how to do a manual patch off the power transfer center?"
"Umm, yeah. Its been a while though."
"Good enough, I guess." Ryland shrugged. "Run a jumper from the engineering comm control board to the ship-wide communications power grid."
"Okay! I got it now. Have it up in fifteen seconds." Jaynes reported.
"Internal comms will work, but wireless to the fleet will still be out." Ryland said.
"We can use a Raptor to communicate with the rest of the fleet." Tigh suggested.
"Do it." Adama said. "Time?"
"Twenty minutes." Gaeta reported.
"Shit." Ryland said aloud. "This is going to be kinda tight getting out of here."
"You said we could jump, Major." Tigh said accusingly.
"Jumping won't do us any good if I can't get the inertial dampening system functioning." Adama winced and nodded. "The IDG's and structural integrity field generators are fore of the firewall, along with the artificial gravity generators, so it can keep the ship balanced."
"How long before the artificial gravity generators spin down?" Adama asked.
"That's the only bright spot here." Ryland arched his eyebrows. "They have enough static power to spin for a good twelve to fourteen hours before we lose gravity." Adama shot Ryland a grave look. "We'll be outta here long before then." He reassured.
Tigh smirked. "We'll be dead long before that happens anyway."
Ryland leveled his gaze at the XO. "Do you ever have anything positive to say?"
"Nope, that's my job." Tigh smiled.
Ryland smiled back. "I've got to bolt. Any last minute instructions?"
"Pass the word to jump control - You've got the execution order." Adama ordered. "As soon as inertial dampening is within tolerance, don't wait for us to give the order."
Ryland nodded. "Just do it." Ryland wheeled and left CIC. He headed for the `Main Street' access hatch on E-deck.
Main Street was a nickname for the main corridor that ran centrally from the bow of the ship to the engineering firewall. This open corridor was used to transport large quantities of materials and oversized equipment from one end of the ship to the other. It was wide enough to accommodate two Raptors side-by-side with room to spare. In this case it allowed Ryland to cross roughly a thousand meters, via electric cart, in a tenth the time it would take him to run the distance.
The two seat cart rocketed the distance from the bow of the ship to the engineering firewall in less than a minute. Ryland locked the brakes and the rubber tires screeched on the deck surface in protest. He jumped out the passenger side and the cart's momentum carried itself into the bulkhead, with a loud thud. He quickly glanced back to appreciate the mark he left on the wall with a smile. He was always yelling at cart users for leaving the `beauty' marks, damn well knowing that it was him that left the vast majority of them.
Ryland climbed a deck to D level and came across Mott attempting to work some death-defying magic on the main power coupling.
Mott was supervising at this point as the lower half of the coupling was being worked out of its position.
"Don't be bashful, boys and girls!" Mott's voice boomed over the loud work zone. "It ain't going back in when we get it out!" He saw that the eight person team was struggling with two meter thick semi- circular joint. He jumped in and used his well-above average strength to bull the piece out of place. Mott caught his arm on one of the protruding power feeds and sliced himself pretty good. "Frak!"
Ryland jumped over the main energy feed line from engineering and grabbed a discarded work jersey, he quickly wrapped it around Mott's massive forearm. Mott looked at him in surprise.
"Don't need that acid you call blood corroding the new coupling!"
"Very funny, Pete. What's the word topside?" Mott ignored the deep gash and went back to work.
"Same ole-same ole! Execs don't know shit about the grease monkeys!"
Mott's chest thundered with laughter. "Back-ups are cut off to the SIF, you know." Mott commented as the team was working feverishly setting up the new patches.
"Don't worry about the rest of the ship, just get the SIF, inertial dampeners and artificial gravity power feeds back on-line. We can do the rest after the jump." Ryland ordered.
"That means we have to take the upper half of the coupling assembly off again!" Mott protested.
Ryland smiled broadly.
"Frak you, sir!"
Ryland turned to get to the main control room. Then he spun back. "Thad! Did you say that the back-ups were down as well?"
"Yup!" Mott replied with a massive grunt as the lower assembly was slid into place.
No power meant that the ship's moment of inertia would soon catch up to the IDS generators cycle-down. The Galactica had to be stopped dead or they'd all be squashed like grapes against the bulkheads.
He reached for his hand-set as a general announcement came over the intercom.
"Now hear this. Now hear this. System power failure fore of the engineering firewall. Countdown is at T-minus seventeen minutes." Dee announced.
"Jaynes?" He called over his walkie-talkie.
"Yes, sir," came her quick response.
"Get some power routed to the auxiliary helm control room, one deck above you. Call the Air Boss, Captain Kelly, and have him meet me there ASAP. He's the only one qualified to manual pilot this pig." Ryland ordered.
Ryland moved away from the work zone and through the main hatch to engineering. Here the ship breathed life under fully lit lights and lamps, and the smooth reverberation of the main reactors soothed his frayed nerves. Ryland took a moment to calm down then he made the climb six decks to the top of the ship.
Mike Kelly wasn't far behind Ryland in entering the auxiliary helm control. Ryland was just finishing up the power-up sequence.
"What's up, Major?"
"We need to stop Galactica dead." Ryland didn't need to look at Kelly's face.
"Are you nuts? If you stop the ship we're sitting ducks!"
"No time to argue Mike, just do it." He got up and extended an invitation to the helm control.
Kelly shrugged. "All right. Bells answering; all stop."
"Good. This way if the IDG completely fails before we restore power…."
"Oh, yeah. That's a good point." Kelly said.
Ryland shook his head. He grabbed the nearest handset and called to Ensign Doynel. "Robert, I need you up in aux helm control. Transfer all jump functions here. You can execute the jump better from here anyway." Ryland hung up. He went over the scenario in his head. Satisfied that he had all his bases covered…
"Now we wait," he said aloud.
"How long `til zeros?" Kelly asked.
"Now here this, now hear this. Four minutes on the clock."
"Ask and the Lords will answer." Ryland quipped.
"No guns, no Vipers and we're standing still." Kelly whistled. "Hell of a pickle, we're in."
Doynel entered the room and took up house at FTL control.
Ryland's speaker crackled to life. "Pete. It's Thad. I've got basic connections back and I'm starting to feed power into the system."
"Gotcha, Captain. Great work!"
"I want a vacation, not a commendation!"
Ryland and Kelly exchanged amused looks. "I'll see what I can arrange." Ryland said tongue-in-cheek.
Ryland keyed his mike. "Jaynes?"
"Sir," came her quick response.
"Can you see the SIF and gravity generators on-line signals?"
Momentary silence as Jaynes checked. "Not yet. It might take a minute or two."
"That was my thought as well," Ryland looked at his watch. "We're coming up on zeros, the minute it comes on-line you let me know."
The main comm unit buzzed, Ryland picked up. "Aux Helm."
"Major," it was Adama, "Raptors have picked up the Cylons, the fleet is executing jump one-hundred. They'll be in weapons range in two minutes."
"We'll be outta here in four." Ryland said confidently.
"I'm holding you to that, Peter." Adama hung up.
"Major!" Jaynes' excited voice came over his walkie-talkie. She sounded upset.
"No power yet," Ryland frowned. "I think I know why."
Ryland worked the problem too, but Jaynes probably had the answer. "Why?"
"The main breakers…"
"…Kicked. We have to reset them. SHIT!" Ryland pounded the consol in front of him. "I'll meet you there."
"Mike: As soon as the SIF reads forty percent start moving us. We can't jump until it reads at least ninety."
"Actually, ninety-seven percent, sir." Doynel said.
"Fasten your seat belts this going to be a bumpy ride!" Ryland ran out of the control room.
"DOWN LADDER, MAKE A HOLE!" He screamed as he slid down four decks to the reactor room.
Jaynes was already there priming the circuit breakers. "You got gravity; I've got SIF generators."
Suddenly the floor jumped beneath them. Ordinance impact.
Perfect. The Cylons were early.
The two furiously primed the hydraulic assist pump to literally throw the switch. Without the hydraulic oil, it would take super- human strength to complete the circuit connection. The pumps locked, fully charged and he and Jaynes began firing up the system.
Ryland could hear the whine of the power transfer. They waited to see if the system could handle the power flow. At reconnect the SIF field level and the inertial dampening systems were at thirty percent, but both steadily climbed to over forty in seconds.
"Fifty is go-no-go," Jaynes said quietly.
"Yup," Ryland answered. The needles quickly climbed past fifty steadily on their way to sixty. They both sighed in relief
"All right, I'm headed back up stairs for the jump." The ship lurched again from incoming fire and Ryland hit the deck.
"We should be moving by now?" Jaynes said. Alarms blared through the compartment.
"Come on, let's go."
Several more impacts greeted them on the way up to the control room. When they got there, Ryland almost packed it in from what he saw.
Mike Kelly was smoldering near the forward access hatch across the control room. Doynel was burnt pretty bad as well, but was admirably fighting through the pain attempting to bring the nav computer back on-line.
"Robert! What happened?" Jaynes yelled.
"Overloaded system….got…to get…power re-rou…" Doynel hit the deck.
Ryland stood there frozen, staring at the shattered control room.
Game over. He thought.
Jaynes came back to Ryland after she determined that Doynel was going to live. Kelly was seriously hurt, but he was alive.
"Major! We've got to get back to jump control!" No response from the catatonic chief engineer. She hauled off and slapped him in the face.
"Major! Get back on-line!" She shouted inches from his face.
Ryland barely heard her or felt the slap. The explosions in the distance seemed parsecs away. Jaynes cocked back a fist, but Ryland caught it. Life flickered back into his eyes and he stared her down.
"I'll ignore that first slap, Captain."
Jaynes' shoulders slumped in relief and she nodded, glad to have him back.
"Call out the readouts on the inertial dampening field strength. I'll execute the jump." He turned quickly and left the battered room.
Ryland made it back to the FTL jump control where the engines were already hot and ready to go. A specialist said that Doynel instructed her to spin up the drives when the first salvo made contact with Galactica. Ryland keyed his mic on his shoulder.
"Eighty-two percent." A moment went by. Both Ryland and the specialist were thrown down by another hit, this time close to the engineering section. "Ninety-one percent!" Came the report. An interminable amount of time passed before Jaynes shouted over the walkie-talkie.
Jaynes watched the needle make its way to ninety-seven percent. "PUNCH IT!"
Ryland reached for the execute button, but was thrown across the room from a violent impact. He pushed the young specialist and half of her tools off of his head and staggered to his feet.
"Major! We're a GO!" Came Jaynes' urgent cry.
Ryland struggled to see where he was going. He ran hand over his forehead and found quite a bit of blood. There were five panels in his vision field. Ryland mentally shrugged and reached for the middle one.
He fell forward and blacked out.
Jump 240, Plus Seventeen Hours:
Ryland awoke in sick bay. Doc Cottle's tobacco tainted breath hovered over him.
"…ade two concussion, he'll be fine," Cottle's face was blurry but coming into focus as he was shining a light in his eyes to test his responsiveness. "I want him out of here as soon as he can stand, don't have the room to keep him up. What's next, nurse?" Cottle moved on.
Ryland reached for his forehead and felt a large bandage above his left eye. His forehead under it was very tender and felt a bit too soft.
"Well, it's about frakking time." Jaynes said.
"I take it we made it?" Ryland croaked.
"Barely," Jaynes said emphatically handing him some water. "Another second and we would have been goners from what I heard."
"How long…" Ryland trailed off.
"Almost four days."
"Yup," Jaynes nodded. "Didn't miss too much though, only another hundred and forty more jumps," she smiled slyly.
That got Ryland's attention. He gingerly sat upright cursing himself along the way. "How'd we do?"
"Just fine," Jaynes said nonchalantly, obviously lying. "After jump one-oh-one, Mott got the rest of the ship back on-line and Galactica didn't as much as bitch or gripe after that.
"This is one tough old bird we're flyin'." Jaynes looked around thoughtfully.
"They don't build em like they used to." Came the Commander's voice.
Jaynes spun and saluted Adama. "Sir."
Adama returned the salute and extended his hand. "I don't believe we've met, Captain…"
"Cassandra Jaynes, sir," she shook Adama's hand. "Picked up by the Celestra, I was CE aboard the Predator."
"Destroyer with Admiral Causland's battle-group," he regarded her thoughtfully. "Nice work with Pete going down. Not too many know enough about the older Battlestars to manage."
"Actually, I've never served aboard a Battlestar."
Adama rolled his eyes and stared at her over the rims of his glasses. He turned the same look on to Ryland, and he just shrugged. "Well then - Damn fine work nonetheless, Captain.
"If you'll excuse us?" Adama dismissed her.
Jaynes turned and left, Adama pulled the curtain closed behind him. He stood there silently for a moment, Ryland had a feeling he was about to get his ass chewed out.
Adama crossed his arms. "You lost a few back there, Chief."
Ryland looked away and closed his eyes. The images of Captain Kelly's and Lieutenant Asno's charred bodies along with the countless other casualties filled his mind. "I know," was all he could say.
"Get them out of your head, Pete. War is hell. Your father…Gil, should have taught you that."
Ryland turned back to his superior. "He did," he sighed heavily. "Some one else once told me, not directly though. Mourn the dead later." Adama nodded, acknowledging his own words. "I guess since I've nothing better to do right now, I'll mourn."
"Lisa Asno is going to be tough to replace. Hell, they all are." Adama said somberly. He gazed at the wall momentarily, then back to Ryland. "Someone once asked me if I knew what the heart of ship was…
Ryland snorted. "The engines?"
"Nope," Adama shook his head solemnly and sat on the edge of the bed. "Her Chief Engineer." Ryland gave him a quizzical look. "Good CE's are hard to come by, Major. One's that can keep a ship in one piece in the heat of battle; understand the urgency of it all and keeping calm in the face of imminent destruction are a rare breed.
"Sir, people died under my command, I don't think that showering me with praise…"
Adama cut him off. "Your father told me that he's never met a man that can accomplish so much with seemingly little effort. He called you a genius and was very proud of you, son." Ryland shifted uneasily in his bed. "Not only did you save this ship, but you saved the lives of over two thousand crew members so that they could continue to protect over forty-five thousand civilians.
"You gave tough orders, made sound decisions, and I can't be prouder. I know Gil would have been too. You don't have much to work with here. Patchwork jump engines, fifty-plus year old space frame, low-end of military technology - no one could have done better." Adama stood
"Get yourself better, Major. We need our heart to fuel the soul." Adama saluted and left.
Ryland sat there and weighed what Adama had said. He supposed he was right on some account. His father, and he himself, doubted what he would be able to do in a battle situation, but he found out how good he could be. His father and the academy taught him enough, but no lessons were as effective as learning who you are with death staring you down.