Word Count: 2,588
Up on the Virgon Space Elevator, the humanoid Cylon known by the designation ‘Number One’ was standing in an observation room looking out a large clear plasti-steel window at the immensity of deep space. She looked impassive, but inside, she was seething with anger.
“Where are you?”, she snarled to herself. The recent events with the remnants of the Colonial Fleet had inflicted damage out of all proportion to their remaining numbers. While there had been intermittent contact with the main group of escapees – the Battlestar GALACTICA and the fifty-odd civilian ships that had escaped with her – the other groups had resorted to an increasingly successful guerilla war . Number One knew that once they were located, then the far superior strength of the Cylon forces would be able to finally crush the colonials. The only question was how to go about doing that.
“Number One”, a voice said behind her. She turned around. Another woman was approaching her – one of the Number Six models.
“I was expecting Seven “, One curtly informed her.
“He asked me to look over this latest plan of his for a second opinion”, Six replied, “considering how his other plans have not come to a successful fruition as of late, he wanted to see if there was anything that he may have missed”.
“And did he?”, One inquired.
“Not that I can see”, Six replied, holding out a data disc. Number One took it and placed it in a reader. She looked at it for a while, then nodded.
“It looks like a good plan”, One said at last, “but the other plans we have used were good as well. What makes you and Seven so sure that this one will work when the others failed?”
“Humanity is a social animal”, Six replied, “while their urge for survival is strong, so is their urge to unite their forces. With the rogue battlestar out there somewhere making it’s hit-and-run missions in concert with this other group that hit us recently, they have to be making frequent contact with each other”.
“We know that”, One replied exasperatingly, “The recon probe that reported the rogue battlestar and a fleet tender in the Eskedron System recently confirmed that”.
“The point is that they seem to meet to co-ordinate with each other before making an offensive. What we need to get them all together is to provide them with a target so big and attractive to them that they would be forced to strike together at the same time. Once they are all together in one place, then we will be in a position to eliminate them en-masse”.
“And the ‘attractive target’ will not be too obvious a trap?”, Number One asked.
“That’s the idea”, Number Six answered.
“Keep me informed on developments”, Number One ordered. The plan was a good one, and though it would take some time to implement, it was worth a try.
“By Your Command”, was the reply.
Out deep in uncharted space, the Battlestar PEGASUS was continuing its mission to track down and join up with the Battlestar GALACTICA and the convoy of ships it was protecting against the indefatigable Cylon war machine. The PEGASUS had recently taken care of a Cylon trap in the form of a disguised mine on an asteroid, and with the addition of a salvaged Cylon ship, had acquired extra materials and intelligence which would come in handy in countering the Cylons next move.
On the bridge of the PEGASUS, Captain Glen Sanders was pulling duty as Senior Officer of the Watch. Both Commander Garris Cain and the Executive Officer – Colonel Geoff Tolen – had said that they wanted to sack out for a while.
“Comms”, Lieutenant Annan said as she walked up to him, “We’re ready to dispatch the next set of recon probes”. Annan was the Junior Officer of the Watch, and in effect, Sanders’ protégé.
“How many?”, Sanders asked. Annan held up two fingers.
“Which sectors are they programmed to reconnoiter?”, Sanders asked next.
“Tairac and Hatari”, Annan replied.
Sanders looked at Annan without replying. He had picked up on Annan’s last comment. The Hatari Sector had not had any recon probes dispatched to it before, but that was not what he was thinking about. He had remembered Commander Cain talking to him earlier about a mission that had been dispatched to Hatari on the eve of the war. That mission involved his younger brother who was a viper pilot on a reserve warship that had been dispatched to the Hatari Sector on the eve of the war. He had thought that his brother had perished along with the rest of the fleet when the Cylons had made their sneak attack, but recent intelligence had indicated that there may be a chance of survivors.
“Captain?” Annan asked, jolting Sanders out of his thoughts.
“Right”, Sanders had replied, “dispatch them and let me know when they return. I take it that they have the standard security protocols activated?”
Annan nodded. The protocols Sanders had referred to were the IFF verify routines that would activate a self-destruct should the identity of any closing contacts be classified as hostile.
“Then let’s do it”, Sanders ordered. With that, Core Command activated the launch codes for the two modified reconnaissance probes. Both probes sped away from the PEGASUS, then made their FTL jumps to their respective destinations.
Just then, a duty specialist called out “Attention on Deck!”. All turned and stood as Commander Garris Cain and Colonel Geoff Tolen walked into CIC.
“Captain Sanders”, Tolen called out, “Are the probes away?”.
“Yes, X.O.”, Sanders replied, “both have been dispatched”.
“Everything else okay on watch, Comms?”, Cain asked next. Sanders was aware that neither Cain nor Tolen had told the CIC personnel to resume their duty stations. All were still standing at attention.
“Forgive me for asking, Commander”, Sanders said politely, “But I was under the impression that you and the X.O. were off duty for this watch”. As the number three person in the chain of command, it was important for Sanders to know where Cain and Tolen were at all times.
“Well, we decided to do one more thing before sacking out”, Cain said with a smile as he and Tolen walked up to Sanders.
Sanders was surprised when Tolen unpinned his captain’s rank pins from his uniform. He was even more surprised with what happened next.
“We both went down to Quartermaster in order to quietly get a certain item. As you seem to have ears all over the PEGASUS, we both wanted to keep this secret until now”, Cain explained, nodding to Annan. Annan smiled, then turned on the P.A. system. Tolen then pulled out a piece of paper and began reading from it. His words reverberated over the PEGASUS.
“Attention to Orders. As of this date, under the authority of the Commanding Officer under Wartime conditions, Captain Glen Sanders is hereby field-promoted to the rank of Major, with all of the privileges and obligations that go with that rank. These orders to go into effect immediately”.
The CIC personnel applauded as Cain pinned on the new rank insignia to Sanders’ uniform. He then offered his hand to Sanders, who shook it. Annan turned off the P.A. and joined in the applause.
“Congratulations, Major Sanders”, Cain replied, “You have more than earned this rank”. Tolen then shook hands with Sanders.
“All right, everybody”, Cain then said to everyone assembled, “You can go back to work now. The X.O. and I have some serious sleep time to catch up on. I’m sure that the major will keep everything on an even keel”.
With that, both officers left CIC. Annan came up to Sanders and shook his hand.
“I just wanted to be the first of the low ranking pukes to congratulate you, Major”, Annan said, “but I do hope you realize that the wetting-down ceremony in the mess is going to be rather expensive for you…”.
Sanders laughed and nodded. Tradition dictated that newly promoted officers had to host a celebration in the o-club for their colleagues, and the higher the rank, the more lavish it had to be.
“Well, there’s time to get that sorted out”, Sanders replied, “but first, let’s finish off our watch, shall we?”.
Down in Silver Spar’s Squadron Ready Room, a conference was being held. It had been briefly interrupted by the public announcement of Sanders’ promotion, but now, it was back to business. The CAG of Silver Spar – Captain Gene Syke – was talking to his deputy, Lieutenant Tricia Cain. With them were the wing’s primary raptor crew – Ensign ‘Newguy’ Gorde and newly-promoted Chief Petty Officer ‘Snoopy’ Dundee, better known as ‘The Two Jasons’ as they both shared the same first name.
“That is one promotion that I whole-heartedly agree with”, Syke commented. The others nodded. They all knew that Sanders was one officer who went the extra mile in keeping the PEGASUS functioning. Both Cain and Tolen regarded him as a key member of the command staff.
“Anyway, Sheba”, Syke was saying to Tricia, “Getting back to business, I know that only having one raptor at Silver Spar’s disposal is pushing things a little with the recon section, but surely Hondo and Coffin are managing to keep things to a manageable level with the FLEET AVENGER?”
“CAG, I know that the Peregrine is filling in the gap okay, but the problem is that both Newguy and Snoopy having the only raptor out on frequent patrols is denying us the chance to have more backup crews properly trained to operate the raptor. We can’t have the Two Jasons doing it all the time”, Tricia replied.
Both Gorde and Dundee shared a look. They had been doing a lot of recon patrols as of late and with no other properly trained crews to give them a break, it was kind of a drain running patrols while teaching trainees how to operate a raptor. As a stopgap measure, trainees have been accompanying them on their missions for ‘on-the-job training’, but that did distract from their primary mission to some extent.
“Well, until we get more raptors – when and if the GOLIATH base starts making replacements – we make do with what we have”, Syke said, “It’s not ideal, I know, but the rooks we’ve got going out with Newguy and Snoopy should be able to pick things up. Once they’re up to speed, then things should ease up some”.
“The rooks are coming along nicely, CAG. A lot better than we expected”, Gorde ventured. Dundee nodded. Being a person who had also been field-trained, Dundee saw things from the same perspective as the new trainees, which helped a lot in getting the rooks up to speed.
“Well, that’s good”, Syke replied, “but when do you hope to have them mission qualified?” Gorde looked at Dundee, who held up two fingers. Gorde nodded.
“Two weeks at the latest, CAG”, Dundee replied confidently.
“That’s good”, Syke acknowledged, “because as soon as the rooks take over, I want you both to start working with Hondo and Coffin so that you can get up to speed on the AVENGER. I want experienced recon personnel to back them up”. Tricia had suggested this to Syke earlier and he thoroughly agreed with the suggestion. Both Gorde and Dundee nodded their understanding.
“Then I won’t be keeping you any longer”, Syke said, “You’d better hit the sack. I want you both fresh for tomorrow’s recon and training op”.
Both Jasons stood and walked out of the ready room. Tricia stood and closed the door and walked back to Syke.
“Gene”, Tricia began, “perhaps we should have argued more with the Commander over releasing those two raptors to Commander Hawke. Just relying on two raptors and the FLEET AVENGER stretches things somewhat for the PEGASUS”.
“Come on, Tricia”, Syke replied not unkindly, “You know your father better than me. Do you think that it could of done any good? Besides, the Old Man has a pretty good handle on the situation and if Hawke needs the raptors, it’s because he really needs them”.
“He told me that he could have used you on the GOLIATH, Gene”, Tricia reminded him, “so don’t be surprised if both of them start fighting over you”.
“Well, if I ever do get booted off the PEGASUS, I’m sure that Silver Spar will function well with you in command”, Syke said with a straight face. Tricia pouted at that.
“Well, I’d better get back to admin”, Tricia said, looking at her chronometer, “Jet is busy on the patrol rosters for the wing squadrons and I have to look them over”. Syke nodded. Ensign ‘Jet’ Vansen was an able administrator, but all such administrative processes needed to be vetted by either the CAG or the deputy CAG before they could go into effect.
“Make sure that you get your share of flight time too, Sheba”, Syke reminded her gently. While the deputy CAG did a lot more paperwork than flying, it was essential that she maintained her fighting edge in the event that the whole wing was called out.
Nodding, then winking at Syke, Tricia left the conference room. Syke looked at his watch. It was about time for him to go off watch. He thought about going to the o-club, but decided to cross on over to the other hangar deck and call in on Lance Voight, the CAG of Black Knight wing. He walked on over to the bulkhead and picked up a commlink.
Captain Voight was at that moment in the Black Knight Wing admin office going over the latest maintenance records from Chief Brubaker. ‘Bru’ was Voight’s closest friend in the wing and he did wonders in keeping the vipers in the wing functioning. He had heard the P.A. announce the promotion of Sanders to major with a small amount of unease. The last time the two of them had talked, Sanders had unintentionally annoyed him by using his call-sign as a term of address. Voight had made it clear to Sanders what he thought about that. Now that Sanders outranked him, he would be able to call him what he liked. He hoped that Sanders was not the vindictive type.
Just then, a buzz came from the commlink on his desk. He picked it up.
“Captain Voight”, he said into the commlink.
“Lance, it’s Gene”, the voice on the other line said, “you got a few minutes?” Voight knew that it was Syke calling.
“Yeah, I do, Gene”, Voight replied, “What’s up?”
“I just got off duty, but I wanted to chat to you about upcoming joint wing patrol assignments before hitting the sack. It won’t take long”, Syke replied.
“Okay”, Voight said, “Besides, our newly promoted Major Sanders will probably be wanting this data for Core Command as soon as possible”, he concluded half-jokingly.
“Well, when you’re a major, then you can start cracking the whip on captains, Lance”, Syke answered with a laugh, “until then, let’s get this over with, okay? I’ll be over there in ten minutes”.
“See you then, Gene”, Voight said. He hung up the commlink and settled back in his desk.
It was at that moment that the PEGASUS probes exited their respective FTL-jumps. Both of the probes went into immediate passive mode. As these probes’ primary mission was to discretely survey their assigned areas, care had to be maintained so that they would not attract any unwelcome attention…..