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The Pegasus: Book 1 - Survival from Annihilation (rewrite)

By  Dean Thomas 

Word Count: 22,892
Date: 2004
Series: Mini
Rating: T
Category: AU
Pairing/Focus: Original Characters
Warnings:
Summary:   When I first wrote these stories in early 2004, I had postulated Helo being rescued from Caprica by the Battlestar PEGASUS shortly after the GALACTICA and the ragtag fleet made it’s escape from Ragnar Anchorage. With RDM keeping Helo down on Caprica for the time being, all of the stories had to be re-written. I hope that the rewrites will not take away from the reader any enjoyment that he/she may get from my stories about the PEGASUS......
Spoilers/Disclaimers:


CHAPTER ONE - Going to War.

The Cyrannus Star System. For thousands of years, the twelve tribes of Kobol had settled, and flourished on the twelve worlds. These worlds represented every creed and race of mankind. Only forty years previously, there was a threat to all of mankind - and it was from one of Man’s creations.

The Cylons were created to make life easier on mankind, but when the Cylons turned against their creators, millions of lives were lost before the Cylons had accepted the human armistice and left to find a world of their own. Now, the Cylons were about to return to where they were created, and to finish the task for which they had set themselves for.

The twelve colonies were defended by a well-equipped fleet of warships called battlestars. The Cylons knew that to eliminate humanity, they had to eliminate the fleet as well, and they planned to do precisely that......

While in one part of the Cyrannus System a certain battlestar had just gone through a decommissioning ceremony, another one had just returned from a fleet exercise. The crew of this particular battlestar had performed above expectations and was looking forward to some downtime after a week full of practice alerts and battle drills.

This particular battlestar was called the PEGASUS, and her commander was a legend during the last Cylon War. The commander was enjoying some off-duty time hosting a visitor to his ship and thought that he would let the duty officer take the PEGASUS to it’s rendezvous with it’s tender (support ship), after which most of the crew could enjoy some well-earned leave. He did not take much time off himself, but having this visitor paying him a visit would be the nearest thing to relaxation that he would allow himself to partake in for the moment. It never occurred to anyone - least of all the commander - that this would be the last time that anyone would be contemplating taking time off.

“Message from Fleet Headquarters”, a technician at the communications console called to the CIC duty officer, “Priority one confirmed, but it’s on an uncoded channel” . The duty officer’s eyes widened at that comment. Priority One messages generally went through a special encryption protocol. Then he wondered why the technician’s hands were shaking as he took the message form from her. After quickly reading it - it wasn’t long - he started to shake a little too. He went to the communicator and punched in the direct line to the commander’s cabin.

The phone in the commander’s cabin beeped. When he picked it up, he heard the voice of one of the Combat Information Center senior officers on the other end.

“Sorry to interrupt you, Commander, but there is a priority one message from Fleet Headquarters”, Captain Glen Sanders said over the communicator, “and Sir, it was transmitted in the clear”.

“Give it to me”, the voice at the other end of the line said, immediately understanding the importance of that last statement.

“It reads: To all Colonial Fleet Units, Cylon attack under way. This is no drill”.

“Set the ship at Condition One. I’m coming up to CIC”, the commander immediately ordered, “and inform the XO”.

The commander put down the commlink and looked over at the other person who was in his cabin.

“I’ve got to head up to CIC. You’d better see about getting back to your ship”, he said as he stood and put on his tunic.

“What is it, father?”, the other person - a young woman wearing the uniform of a pilot with the rank insignia identifying her as a lieutenant asked. She knew by the tone of her father’s voice that something was very wrong. His reply confirmed her impression.

“Just a notification from Fleet Ops that we are in a state of all-out war with the Cylons. We’d best get moving”.

The lieutenant looked stunned for a few seconds, then she stood followed her father out the door. Lieutenant Tricia Cain of the Battlestar TRITON needed to get back to her home battlestar while her father, Commander Garris Cain, took the Battlestar PEGASUS into battle.

The primary reason that she was on the PEGASUS was in order to pick up a new raptor and to ferry it back to the TRITON, but she had also been told by her Commander to take her time over the mission so that she could drop in and say hello to her father. It had been their first such reunion in months and they had been chatting - catching up on each other - when Captain Sanders had called and dropped the bombshell.

As Tricia headed to the port landing bay where the raptor she was due to take back to the TRITON was located, the alert klaxons sounded.

“All hands, Set Condition One. This is no drill, repeat, Set Condition One. This is no drill”, the P.A. sounded. All over the battlestar, the crew headed to action stations. As Commander Cain ran a tight ship, everyone knew exactly where to go and what to do - and to do so immediately. Everyone on board knew that the commander would expect nothing less - and the Lords of Kobol help the unfortunate soul who gave less than their best.

When Commander Cain made it up to the Combat Information Center, Colonel Geoffrey Tolen, the XO of the PEGASUS, walked onto CIC and up to him. Captain Sanders ran up to Cain as soon as he entered.

“Condition One set, Commander”, he said, “all deck are on full alert and CAG reports Silver Spar Wing readying for launch”.

“I see we’re changing course”, Cain commented, “so what’s the story, Captain?”, he asked Sanders.

“Fleet Headquarters had sent us an immediate follow-up to the original message. We are heading out at flank speed to rendezvous with the ATLANTIA, along with four other battlestars. Further orders will be forthcoming from the Task Force Commander”.

“Any further information on the battle so far?”, Cain asked further.

“So far, several of the colonies have reported thermonuclear detonations occurring over major population centers, plus the OLYMPIA Task force has moved off to engage a Cylon Task force reported in the vicinity of Virgon. It looks like a full-scale assault and the Cylons are holding nothing back”.

Cain frowned. The Battlestar OLYMPIA was the flagship of the task force that the TRITON was part of, along with the Battlestars ARGO, POSEIDON, ACROPOLIS, and BELLEPHON. He turned to one of the tactical officers manning the Core Command Console.

“Relay a message to the launch officer at the port landing bay. Have them inform Lieutenant Cain that transport to the TRITON is out of the question for the present time, and that she is to make herself available to the CAG for temporary assignment”.

“Yes, Commander”, the officer replied. Cain then went over and activated the ship’s P.A. system.

“This is the commander”, he started, “We have just received word from Fleet Headquarters that war has broken out. The Cylons are attacking with major force against the fleet, and our home planets. We are proceeding to join up with the ATLANTIA and four other battlestars in order to form a task force charged with fending off the attack. Stand to your posts and await further orders”.

He clicked off the P.A. and turned to face his X.O. He noticed that several persons in CIC had gone pale, but chose not to comment on it. He knew that his crew would do their job. The X.O. had just quickly scanned through the latest communications printouts.

“Any messages regarding the government?”, Cain asked Tolen. The X.O. shook his head. Cain shrugged. At the present moment, it was not all that relevant. In time of war, his ‘government’ was the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They would be responsible for the well-being of the President and the cabinet. For now, he had his orders from the JCS and it was to proceed to rendezvous with the Battlestar ATLANTIA.

“How soon before we meet up with the ATLANTIA, Colonel?”, Cain asked. Tolen quickly checked the navigation plot, then turned to face Cain.

“We will be at the rendezvous in one half-hour. According to the latest messages, Admiral Nagala had left Fleet HQ just before the assault started, and he had been ordered by Fleet Operations to divert from his original destination and to take command of the task force. The ATLANTIA is the nearest battlestar to him and he will be placing his flag on board there”.

Cain grunted an affirmative. Commander Wesley Anson prided himself on being the ATLANTIA’s commander, but when Admiral Nagala arrives on the ATLANTIA to take command of the Task Force, then Anson would have to defer to his authority. He was glad that in that circumstance, Nagala did not decide to plant his flag on the PEGASUS. He preferred being the one in charge here.

“How are we set up for battle, XO?”, Cain asked next.

“We’re all set, Commander, in regards to weapons and fighter complement, but our scheduled topping off of our fuel tanks from the AVALON had to be cancelled in order to make the rendezvous”, Tolen replied.

Tolen had been referring to the fleet tender AVALON which had the dual role of tanker and supply ship for the PEGASUS. The battlestar had been intending to refuel after recent fleet exercises. Now the war alert had drastically changed plans.

“We’re still okay for the short term though?”, Cain wanted to verify. Tolen nodded.

Just then, Sanders called to Cain from his console, “I’ve lost all contact with Fleet Headquarters. All channels including the secure scrambler frequencies are dead”.

CHAPTER TWO - Death of a fleet.

At the same time as Captain Sanders made his report regarding the loss of communications with Fleet Headquarters, over on the battlestar ATLANTIA, Admiral Nagala had just walked onto the CIC, after having rendezvoused and landed on the battlestar a few minutes earlier.

“Welcome aboard, Admiral”, Commander Wesley Anson announced.

“I wish circumstances could be better, Commander”, Nagala replied after briefly shaking hands with Anson, “my shuttle’s communications officer just reported to me that he has lost contact with Fleet Headquarters. Any luck with communications from the ATLANTIA?”. He had hoped that the communications loss was due to a glitch on his shuttle’s communicator.

“We lost contact around the same time, Admiral”, Anson replied, “Communications has so far failed to reestablish any link with Fleet Ops, or with Admiral Hendrix on the alpha scrambler”, Anson concluded, referring to the Head of the Colonial Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the unique communications encryption protocol allowing immediate contact with the JCS.

“You’d better get a status check on Fleet Headquarters and the Joint Chiefs, then”, Nagala replied, fearing the worst, “in any case, how many battlestars are heading to our rendezvous?”

“The PEGASUS will be here first. The others are converging in on our location and will be here shortly afterwards. All of them have reported that they are on full alert and ready to go once we meet up”, Anson replied.

“Excuse me, Commander”, the communications officer interrupted, “we are getting reports that the OLYMPIA and PROMETHEUS task forces are engaging enemy forces, but very little clear information is coming out except that we are taking substantial losses”.

Sighing, Nagala headed over to the communications center in order to read up on the communications intercepts. He knew that the OLYMPIA task force was near Virgon and that the PROMETHEUS task force had deployed around Geminon. But he needed more information on the disposition of all forces and directed the communications officer to try and ascertain the status of the other fleet units as soon as possible.

He listened to the various reports coming in from the various fleet units as his task force started to form up. The battle reports in the meantime showed that the OLYMPIA and PROMETHEUS task forces were being hit hard by the Cylons, with a number of battlestars being reported as destroyed. How many ships will we lose today?, Nagala silently asked himself.

His hopes were buoyed some as his task force’s battlestars joined up. The PEGASUS made the rendezvous first, followed by the other four battlestars that had been assigned to him. Just then, the communications officer walked up to him, looking extremely pale.

Its official, Admiral”, the communications officer quietly said into Nagala’’s ear as he passed a printed message to him. “Fleet Headquarters has been totally destroyed. None of the Chiefs of Staff got out in time. According to the chain of command, you’re now the ranking officer in the fleet.”

Nagala did not answer immediately. He looked blankly at the message informing him of the carnage wreaked so far upon the fleet, and the realization that now he was the senior officer. At last, he looked up at the communications officer.

“Very well, Ensign”, he replied. “Return to your post and stand by to transmit a priority one message to all fleet units.” The officer saluted and went back to his console.

“How bad is it, Admiral?” Commander Anson asked. Nagala handed the message over to him. Anson looked over the message without comment, and then looked up at him.

“Looks like you’re now the C-in-C, Admiral”, Anson said. “So what are your orders?”

“The ATLANTIA will now be the command ship for the entire Colonial Fleet, Commander”, Nagala announced. “What is her status?”“All systems operational and our strike wing is on full alert”, Anson announced.

“Good”, Nagala replied, turning to the Communications Officer. “Make this message to all Colonial Units on priority scrambler: ‘Am taking command of fleet after destruction of fleet headquarters. ATLANTIA will act as command ship for defense of Colonies. All Colonial Units acknowledge by same encryption protocol and deploy according to OpPlan Five. Nagala’”

As the Communications Officer proceeded to dispatch Nagala’’s message, Nagala activated the PA system and had the relay to the other battlestars in his task force activated.

“Attention, all task force personnel”, he communicated. “This is Admiral Nagala. With the destruction of Picon Fleet Headquarters, I have assumed fleet command. The ATLANTIA is now the command ship. Our mission is simple: Defend the Colonies at all costs. All of the fleet task forces have been deployed according to OpPlan Five to cover the various planets in the system. Our Task Force will be deploying to defend Caprica. Telemetry indicates a strong Cylon presence there. Stand to your posts and remember that the Colonies expect everyone in the fleet to do their duty. Nagala out¼¼”

Over in the Combat Information Center on the PEGASUS, Commander Cain listened to Nagala’s announcement. He turned to Colonel Tolen. Both knew that OpPlan Five was the code term for a full committal of every available fleet asset. By invoking that OpPlan, it meant that the Cylons were going all out and everything that the colonial military can muster was going to be needed.

“Colonel”, Cain ordered. “Inform the ATLANTIA that the PEGASUS is ready for immediate operations and have helm maintain our station in the task force.”

“Yes, Commander”, Tolen replied.

“Inform CAG to get his wing readied for immediate combat operations. When we run into those tin-head Cylons, I want us to be able to deploy instantly, understood?” Cain ordered. Tolen nodded and headed over to the Wing console.

Cain walked over to the plotting table. He looked down at the latest projections. The ATLANTIA task force was proceeding to the vicinity of Caprica, where telemetry indicated multiple thermonuclear blasts occurring planet side. There were reports of three Cylon Base Stars in the region of Caprica and the six battlestars of the ATLANTIA force were proceeding with all speed in order to give battle.

“CAG reports Silver Spar Wing ready for combat”, Tolen announced. “And all batteries report ready for action.”

“Good, because we have already lost thirty battlestars, according to the latest reports”, Cain replied, holding up a just-received message form. “Both of the task forces covering Virgon and Geminon have been taken out, and the other units are taking losses as well. The fleet drydocks and construction facilities on Tarturas have also been attacked”.

Tolen and most of the CIC personnel looked stunned. Those two task forces alone numbered twelve battlestars and they no longer existed. And with the fleet drydocks being hit, it would make things that much more difficult to maintain the fleet.

“It all adds up to the conclusion that the Cylons have achieved complete and total surprise. How did they manage to do it?”, Tolen asked,.

“How isn’t important at the moment. All that concerns us at the moment is that those tin-headed Cylons have done it. Our planets are being nuked, our fleet is getting hit hard, and casualties are going to be frakking high. I don’t know about you, Tolen, but I’m going to make those Cylon bastards pay for this attack!”” Cain exclaimed.

“Don’t worry, Commander”, Tolen replied. “We will.”

“Commander”, one of the communications techs reported, “We’ve lost contact with the AVALON. They were reporting that unidentified craft were approaching at high speed, then communications was abruptly cut off”.

Cain nodded. So their supply tender had been destroyed. Tolen did not need to be asked; he started running a check on alternative supply depots in the event that they would need reprovisioning. That would depend upon the outcome of the upcoming battle.

With the ATLANTIA leading, the six battlestars headed toward Caprica at flank speed. As well as the PEGASUS, the battlestars COLUMBIA, RYCON, SOLARIA, and PACIFICA were formed up in attack formation, all ships readied for action and their fighter wings ready for launch. Cain was pleased that his crew was doing their jobs quickly and well, despite the horrific news of the massive Cylon attack on the twelve worlds and the fleet. But something was nagging at Cain. Even with the element of surprise, the fleet should not be suffering this badly.

“How did we manage to lose a quarter of the fleet so quickly?”Cain asked himself. He was looking at the latest combat reports. Most of the reports were fragmented, but one message - from the Battlestar PROMETHEUS - was clear, but hard to understand. According to the message, the PROMETHEUS had suffered a complete power failure as she was preparing to engage a Cylon attack force over Geminon. No further messages from the PROMETHEUS had been received. Similar power loss messages had also been received from the other task forces.

For Tricia Cain, now sitting in the Silver Spar Wing ready room, things were really looking bleak. First, she had been informed that the PEGASUS’ raptors had been fully crewed - including the one that she had been assigned to take back to the TRITON. She had then informed the PEGASUS’ CAG that she was also qualified as a viper pilot, but was told that all of the available fighters were manned and that there was none to spare. So, she had been sitting in the ready room with other standby pilots, Then just now, she had been given the news that the task force in which the TRITON had been part of had been destroyed.

Frakk, she thought to herself. Her home battlestar had been destroyed, and she had no way to get into the fight! Well, she wasn’t doing any good just sitting here, thinking about the friends that she had just lost. She decided to head back up to the CIC. She had to make herself useful.

“Commander”, Captain Sanders announced from the Comscan (Combined Short/Long Range Scan) console. “The ATLANTIA is reporting that our task force is preparing to engage enemy forces over Caprica. We are to deploy to grid sector nine”

Just as Cain was preparing to order helm to set a new course, a shudder was felt throughout the battlestar. The lights flickered momentarily.

Next, his commlink buzzed. It was the chief engineering officer, Wyatt Thyssen.

“Commander” Thyssen announced. “We have a downed primary energizer unit. Our sub-light drive has been reduced in efficiency by forty percent. Also, we have lost half of our rear thrusters.”

Cain’s face tightened. They were preparing to deploy to attack and this had to happen. Frakk!

“How soon before you can get our sub-light drive and thrusters back to full power?” he asked.

“It will take an hour to get primary energizer ‘A’ back on line. Energizer ‘B’ is okay and the auxiliary unit has kicked in, so the FTL is still operational, Commander””, was the answer.

“Very well, you’d better get started. Comms!” Cain called to Sanders, using the popular call-sign for his position as the principal scanning officer and communicator on the secure channels. “Use the scrambler frequency. Contact the ATLANTIA and let Admiral Nagala know about our energizer difficulties.”

As Sanders proceeded to inform the ATLANTIA, Tricia walked onto CIC and reported to Colonel Tolen.

“Colonel”, she said while saluting, “Lieutenant Cain reporting availability for assignment”.

“CAG had nothing to offer you?”, Tolen asked, returning the salute. Tricia shook her head.

“Very well then, head over to assist at Core Command. I’m sure that they can use you”, Tolen ordered, referring to the area of CIC responsible for fighter deployments. Tricia saluted, then headed to her assigned post. Tolen thought that having an available pilot assist the technicians there would be the best thing to do.

Meanwhile, on board the ATLANTIA, Admiral Nagala had just dispatched an order over the scrambler ordering other colonial units to send reinforcements to Virgon and Geminon when he received the PEGASUS’ report regarding their energizer problems. He turned to his communications officer.

“Order the PACIFICA to hang back and cover the PEGASUS until her repairs are completed”, Nagala ordered. “And have the other battlestars re-arrange their deployment pattern around Caprica accordingly.”

“And where do you want us to head to, Admiral?”” Anson asked. Nagala pointed to a grid reference on the plot table.

“Here.”, Nagala announced. “We’ll be deployed to cover the northern hemisphere of Caprica with the RYCON until the PEGASUS gets her energizer back on line”.

“Do you wish to have the PACIFICA and PEGASUS deploy their fighters at least”, Anson asked. Nagala considered it, then shook his head.

“We’ll keep their wings in reserve for the time being. Besides, if the Cylons do come across the PEGASUS, they are going to need all the fighter support that they can get”.

“Admiral”, one of the scanner technicians announced. “Comscan telemetry shows what looks to be three squadrons of fighters heading toward the Southern Hemisphere of Caprica at high speed. No IFF. The SOLARIA and COLUMBIA will be the first to engage.”

Nagala nodded. Negative IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) could only mean that the incoming craft were hostile. Two battlestars should be enough to handle three squadrons. He thought about sending the RYCON over to assist, but realized that this could be a feint to draw off protection of the northern hemisphere of Caprica. He decided to keep deployments as they were.

A few minutes later, Nagala read the report that the Strike Wings of the SOLARIA and COLUMBIA had launched and were heading to intercept the incoming fighters. On the plot table, he saw that the wings were in attack formation and well positioned to intercept them before they could reach Caprica.

On board the PEGASUS, Cain read the reports coming in from the attack squadrons from the SOLARIA and COLUMBIA as they moved in to intercept the incoming Cylon squadrons. He silently cursed that his ship was for the moment unable to join in the strike, but knew that it would not help matters to make his displeasure plain for all to see. He knew that Thyssen was working as fast as he could to restore full power to the PEGASUS, and that Admiral Nagala’s decision not to have him commit his fighters made good tactical sense. And at least the PACIFICA would help out should any Cylon forces detect the crippled PEGASUS.

“Commander”, one of the specialists manning the communications console reported. “I’m getting a strange message from the CAGS of the SOLARIA and COLUMBIA wings.”

“Well, what is it, Specialist?” Cain asked as Tolen walked up to him.

“They have reported that all of their fighters have just lost power!” was the reply. “The fighters are just coasting out of control!”

“All of them?”, Cain asked incredulously, “how?”

“Commander!” one of the Comscan console operators interrupted him with a report. “One of the Cylon squadrons has just launched multiple missiles at the SOLARIA and COLUMBIA fighter wings!” A pause, then: “Comscan reports........all fighters destroyed!”

Tolen and Cain looked sharply at each other. Eighty Viper VII’s just ceased to exist! Both of them went back to the communications console.

“Are the SOLARIA and COLUMBIA doing anything?” Tolen asked.

“Both battlestars headed in to try and defend their fighters, but it was too late. Now that Cylon squadron is proceeding to.......... Now I’m getting reports that both battlestars are losing power!”

“My Lords of Kobol”, Cain quietly mouthed as he saw the telemetry report. Comscan’’s tactical display was now showing the attacking Cylon Squadron launching missiles at the SOLARIA and COLUMBIA. Neither battlestar was laying down suppressing fire!

Over on the ATLANTIA, Nagala was looking at his telemetry with horror. Several missiles were homing in on the helpless battlestars - and that they were all nukes. They were too far away to assist, and there was nothing that could be done. The missiles struck their targets, resulting in a massive explosion. After a few seconds, there was only spreading debris where two of the fleet’’s newest battlestars had once been.

Activity on the ATLANTIA CIC came to a halt as the crew looked upon the telemetry screens in stunned silence. It was broken by a report from another tactical officer.

“One Cylon squadron is breaking off and proceeding to our co-ordinates, Admiral. Another Cylon squadron is heading toward the PACIFICA’s position.”

“Recall our fighters immediately”, Nagala ordered, “prepare to withdraw”.

“But what about Caprica, Admiral?”, Anson asked.

“The Cylons are somehow able to shut down our ships and until we know how, we are cannon fodder”, Nagala replied, “now issue the recall to our wing before it’s too late”.

“Admiral”, ATLANTIA’s Core Command officer reported, “CAG reports their fighters going offline. They’re helpless!”.

On the PACIFICA, Commander Josh Hansen looked at the telemetry screen showing the incoming squadron, and the now-helpless strike wings from the ATLANTIA and RYCON getting blasted by missiles like a session of target practice.

“Deploy the PACIFICA to place her between the Cylon force and the PEGASUS. Have CAG launch his wing and head over to the PEGASUS immediately, along with our support shuttles”.

“And what about us?” the XO asked.

“The Cylons can shut us down somehow, but I’m not leaving the PEGASUS. Inform Admiral Nagala.”, Hansen ordered.

Over on the ATLANTIA, Nagala received Hansen’s report just after getting the word about the ATLANTIA’s squadrons getting destroyed. May the Lords of Kobol help us all, he thought.

“Commander Anson”, Nagala ordered. “Have Comms launch a message drone with full report on the battle so far. Do it before it’s too late. Launch our remaining craft and have them deploy away from the ATLANTIA and RYCON. Move!”

But as the last word left his lips, the lights started to flicker. The Damage Control Officer called in.

“We’re losing power, Admiral. I don’t know what’s happening!”

“Get all remaining fighters launched now!” Nagala screamed.

“We can’t, Admiral”, was the reply. “Not enough power in the launch bay, or the fighters for that matter! Everything is down except life support and communications”.

Nagala pounded his fist on the plotting table. Now the ATLANTIA was totally defenseless. Even more, that means that the life-pods could not be deployed. Abandoning ship was now out of the question. And now, even worse news

“RYCON reports similar power loss. No fighters got off!”, the communications officer reported.

“Raise the PACIFICA!”” Nagala ordered.

“Yes, Admiral,” Anson replied.

“What is the status of your ship?” Nagala asked Commander Hansen.

“So far, we’re okay, Admiral, but we have a Cylon squadron closing in on our position”, Hansen replied.

“You’d better get out of here now”, Nagala advised.

“We can’t just leave Caprica, Admiral, or the ATLANTIA and RYCON either”, Hansen objected.

“We have just lost two battlestars, in addition to nearly two hundred fighters. The ATLANTIA and RYCON are next, Commander”, Nagala reminded him.

Just then, Hansen noticed fluctuating power readings.

“We’re losing power, Admiral!” Hansen reported. “Cylon squadron is heading straight in.”

“The PEGASUS has still got power, Admiral”, Cain’’s voice came over the comm. “We’re launching to assist.”

“Belay that order, Commander Cain”, Nagala countermanded. “Activate your FTL drive and get the hell out of here. Acknowledge!”

“We just can’t leave you to the mercy of those tin-headed Cylons”, Cain objected.

“Don’t you understand, Garris?” Nagala replied. “The PACIFICA is between you and that Cylon squadron. Whatever they are using to disable us is being blocked by the PACIFICA. You have got to get the hell out of here, find out why we are losing power, fix it, and then get back into the fight! That is an order!”

Cain’s grip tightened up on the commlink, but he saw that Nagala was right. The telemetry screen showed incoming Cylon missiles homing on the RYCON and other Cylon fighters closing on the ATLANTIA.

“Colonel”, Cain ordered Tolen. “Stand the wing down from launch.” Tolen nodded and relayed the order to the CAG.

“Helm”, Cain ordered. “Activate the FTL and get us out of the combat zone. We don’t have much time.”

Over on the ATLANTIA, Nagala looked around at his bridge officers. They all knew what was coming.

“Transmit a message in the clear, Comms”, Nagala ordered. “Reads: ATLANTIA Task Force is under attack, loss of force imminent due to power loss inflicted on battlestars by Cylon attackers. Change your tactics accordingly, Nagala.”

As the Communications Officer transmitted the message, a tactical officer reported. “Incoming missiles are homing in on the ATLANTIA, Admiral. The RYCON has just been destroyed.” Nagala nodded. Nothing more could be done. Hopefully, Cain will be able to pull out the PEGASUS.

On the PACIFICA, Commander Hansen watched his telemetry screen as first the RYCON, then the ATLANTIA, succumbed to the multiple Cylon missile strike. The Cylon fighters were closing in on his battlestar now. But so far, the PEGASUS was staying hidden from the incoming fighters behind the inert PACIFICA.

“Garris”, Hansen communicated. “You’ve received our squadrons?”.

“Yes, Josh”, Cain quietly replied. “They are all on board and we are ready to jump. Frakk it, we just can’t leave you!”

“You’ve got no choice,‘Renegade’”, Hansen answered, using Cain’s viper callsign. “Stay and the PEGASUS will meet the same fate. Get out of here, find out what happened, and when you come back, make those tin-headed Cylons pay for what they did here!”

“We’’ve got five incoming missiles, Commander”, the Comscan operator reported to Hansen. “Comscan shows them to be nukes. So far, none are homing in on the PEGASUS.”

“Listen, Garris,” Hansen advised. “When the PACIFICA is hit, jump at that moment. The explosion will cover your departure.”

“Understood, PACIFICA”, Cain quietly replied. “And Josh, let your crew know that we will make the Cylons pay for this day.”

Cain turned to his helm officer. “Stand by to activate FTL on my mark. Are the co-ordinates set?”

“Yes, Commander”, Helm responded.

“Stand By”, Cain ordered as he watched the telemetry screens on the DRADIS console showing the Cylon missiles boring in on the PACIFICA.

On the PACIFICA, Hansen ordered Comms. “Transmit message on priority channel: ATLANTIA and all other battlestars in task force destroyed. Admiral Nagala killed. Next senior officer is to assume command.” He turned to his XO.

“If the Cylons intercept the communications, they will think that the PEGASUS was destroyed too, it will give them a chance”, Hansen said. With that, he sat back to await his fate.

As the missiles impacted on the helpless PACIFICA, Cain ordered. ““Jump!””

As the PACIFICA disintegrated under the massive flash of the Cylon nukes, the PEGASUS made the jump. The familiar, though not-to-be-liked gut-wrenching disorientation hit everyone as the PEGASUS flashed away from the glowing fireball that was the Battlestar PACIFICA.

CHAPTER THREE - Reprieve from Destruction

As the effects of the FTL-jump from Caprica wore off, Cain turned to his X.O.

“Where are we, Tolen?” Cain asked as the PEGASUS emerged from its impromptu FTL jump from Caprica (and the remnants of what was until recently the ATLANTIA task force). Tolen quickly scanned the navi-comp.

“We are on the far side of the Batwah Debris Field, Commander””, Tolen announced. “Comscan shows no vessels in this area, friendly or otherwise nearby.”

Batwah was the remnants of an asteroid that had broken up some years previously on the edge of the Cyrannus System. It was marked as a navigation hazard, and thus was avoided by most traffic. This exit point was one of several programmed into the navi-comp in the event of an emergency.

“All right then”, Cain answered. “Have Comscan continue its sweep of this area of space, and tell Engineering to expedite getting Primary Energizer ‘A’ back on line as soon as possible. The Auxiliary Energizer won’’t last long if we run into trouble.”

At that moment, the CAG of the PEGASUS Wing, Captain Eugene Syke (call-sign “Bojay”) came onto the CIC. He was bringing in another pilot who wore the insignia of the PACIFICA on his flight suit.

“Commander”, Syke announced. “This is the CAG of PACIFICA’’s Strike Wing, Captain Voight.” Cain looked at him briefly, and then extended his hand. Voight shook it.

“Normally, I’d say ‘Welcome’, Captain Voight”, Cain said, “But given the circumstances, maybe that word is not the appropriate one to say. Did Captain Syke get your fighters secured?”

“Yes, Commander”, Voight replied. “I’m glad that my pilots have a place to land. There are forty-two fighters from my wing, plus one raptor and five support shuttles in all. So what is the tactical situation at the moment?”

“Not good, Captain”, Cain replied. “The fleet is taking a battering and our planets are being nuked. To stand any chance of getting back into the fight, we have to figure out what the Cylons have been using to render our warships and fighter craft inoperative. Before Admiral Nagala and the ATLANTIA got taken out, he ordered me to withdraw” - spitting the word out - “and to try and make sure that the PEGASUS won’’t meet the same fate as the ATLANTIA when we go back into battle.”

At that moment, a communications technician came over with a message form. Cain took it and read it. He then waved Colonel Tolen over to where he and the two CAGS were standing.

“This message is from the Battlestar GALACTICA, Gentlemen”, Cain announced. “It reads: Am taking command of the Fleet. All Colonial Units are directed to proceed to Ragnar Anchorage for regrouping and counter-attack. Acknowledge receipt via same encryption protocol. Adama.”

“The GALACTICA was scheduled to be decommissioned today”, Tolen mused aloud. “So she won’t be in any shape to fight.”

“That’s why he’s heading to Ragnar”, Cain explained. “There’s a munitions reserve there, so the GALACTICA will be able to rearm herself. Adama’s still in the fight.”

“Do you wish to acknowledge transmission, Commander?” Tolen asked. At that moment, an alarm klaxon sounded. Sanders rushed over to the comscan console to see what caused the alert.

“Comscan shows a Cylon Squadron entering sector, Commander”, Captain Sanders announced. “They are on the far side of the asteroid field. I don’t think they have detected us yet.”“Go silent!” Cain ordered. “No electromagnetic emissions. Use the passive sensors only. If we make ourselves known before we can find out just what’’s been happening, we’ll be sitting ducks.”

The passive sensors, unlike the active sensors, did not put out any electromagnetic emissions. They were like an ‘ear’, listening for emissions of both electromagnetic and engine exhaust types.

After about five minutes, Comms announced. “Passive sensors detect the Cylon squadron moving out of range. It looks like they didn’t detect us.” Cain nodded.

“Comms”, Cain ordered Sanders. “Try to tap into their communications frequencies. We are going to need to know just what they are up to. For now, maintain communications silence.” He turned to Tolen. “Colonel, we are going to need to work out just how the Cylons got our fleet taken out. Put Tactical on it. I need answers and I need them soon.”

“There may already be an answer, Commander”, Sanders said as he walked up to Cain. “I’ve been intercepting transmissions from the GALACTICA. It seems that their principal attack squadron suffered the same fate as the rest of our task force, but the GALACTICA deployed a squadron of older Mark II Vipers into battle and they did not suffer the same fate. A handful of Mark VII’s from other units have also not been affected. The telemetry indicates that those particular ships were in need of systems overhauls”.

Cain looked at the printouts of the intercepted transmissions. “Good work, Comms”, he said. “Tolen”, Cain ordered next. “Get these printouts over to Tactical and see what they can make out of all of this.”

As Tolen went over to confer with the officers at the Tactical console, Cain turned to Syke and Voight.

“When was the last time your Strike Wings had a systems overhaul?” he asked them.

“Silver Spar Wing’s fighters had its last overhaul done about a month ago, Commander”, Syke replied. Voight echoed him in regards to his wing.

“Older ships and newer ships without recent upgrades immune from what got the rest destroyed”, Cain mused. “And the GALACTICA is still operational. Bill Adama didn’t believe in upgrading the GALACTICA’s systems”.

Adama believed in keeping his battlestar’s computers at the same primitive level as what they were during the First Cylon War while the rest of the fleet had had their systems upgraded - including the Battlestar PEGASUS.

“The GALACTICA was being decommissioned because of it’s lack of technology”, Syke commented, “talk about irony”.

“Complacency would be a better word, Captain”, Cain replied, “we were complacent enough to believe that the new technology upgrades in the fleet would be immune to infiltration. Bill Adama didn’t believe it. That’s what probably saved the GALACTICA”, Cain concluded. Both Voight and Syke nodded their agreement.

“Anyway, until we know just what systems upgrades got compromised by the Cylons, it would probably be a good idea to have all the fighters retrofitted with what systems they had earlier. At least that will give both Wings the ability to protect the PEGASUS. Have the crew chiefs start immediately”, Cain ordered. “Because we are going to need all the fighters we have operational and able to fight back if we’’re attacked.”

As both Captain Voight and Captain Syke left CIC in order to head down to the landing bays, Colonel Tolen came up.

“Here is a list of systems upgrades performed on the fleet within the last six months”, Tolen said, handing Cain a printout. “The common denominator between the upgrades done on both the fighters and our capital chips is Dr. Gaius Baltar’s enhanced navigation program.”

Cain looked over at the specs. Dr. Baltar had recently introduced a major upgrade to the CMP’s routines used in the inertial and active navigation systems employed on battlestars, support ships, and fighter craft. If this was the program that the Cylons did manage to exploit, it would answer a lot of questions.

“Have this program dumped and expunged from our systems”, Cain ordered. “And have the older program retrofitted. How long will this take?” he asked.

“According to Tactical”, Tolen answered,”the better part of a day. Both Strike Wings will also be grounded for that long until their systems have been retrofitted.”

“So we can’t make the rendezvous with the GALACTICA until this is done”, Cain concluded. “Very well, let’s get cracking. This will also give Engineering time to get the Primary Energizer up and running. I want the PEGASUS to be a hundred percent operational by the time we get to Ragnar, understood?”

“Yes, Commander”, Tolen acknowledged.

“And maintain communications silence. I don’t want the Cylons to know we’re here. If they get wind of our existence before out computers are retrofitted, we’re history”, Cain added.

With that, his CIC staff started to get the battlestar operational (and immune from the Cylon virus) as soon as possible.

Chapter Four - Assessing and Planning

The PEGASUS, after using the one day of down-time in order to get the damaged primary energizer fixed, and the older navigation programs retrofitted into the battlestar’s and the fighters onboard computers, was ready to proceed. Cain had the battlestar brought to Condition One.

“When we make the jump, don’t jump straight to Ragnar”, Cain informed Tolen, “have the PEGASUS jump to just within passive sensor range of the anchorage”.

Colonel Tolen had Sanders plot the new course and fed it to the Helm console. After the course plot was punched in, Colonel Tolen signaled the helmsmen to commence the jump.

“Jumping in 5....4....3.....2.....1......jump!”.

The familiar uncomfortable feeling washed over the crew as the PEGASUS FTL-ed to the selected co-ordinates just within passive sensor range of Ragnar Anchorage in order to get a first look at the situation. It was fortunate that he did because of what Sanders saw on his screens.

“Comscan telemetry shows two Cylon Base Stars and a lot of Cylon Fighters at Ragnar, Commander”, Sanders announced. “It looks like at least a hundred and fifty fighters in all”.

Cain silently breathed a sigh of relief. That piece of caution had paid off. If they had jumped to Ragnar, the deployed Cylon fighters would have attacked before the PEGASUS could have launched a single fighter.

“How are they deployed, Comms?” Cain asked Sanders. He still needed to know why the Cylons were here. Did they catch the GALACTICA or any of the ships that had made the rendezvous?

“The fighters are in a defensive screening pattern over their base stars only, Commander. No communications intercepts indicating a higher state of alert. Evidently, they have not picked us up on their scanners”, Sanders reported.

“Any sign of the GALACTICA, or other Colonial Forces?” Cain asked. The passive sensors would not be able to penetrate the Ion storm and reach the anchorage itself, but Cain reasoned that if the GALACTICA was docked at the anchorage, the Cylons would either be launching attacks through the storm, or would be deployed in a siege-formation.

“There are signs of a recent battle. Debris is from both sides, but mainly fighter craft - mostly Cylon. There are no sign of other ships or any debris fields from destroyed capital ships”, Sanders replied.

“So it looks like the GALACTICA got away with whomever made the rendezvous”, Tolen theorized.

“It looks like it”, Cain agreed. “Are you sure that the Cylons have not detected us?” Cain asked next.

“I’m sure, Commander”, was the reply from Sanders. “There is absolutely no sign of redeployment of their fighters, and no increase in their communications transmissions. So, do we engage these forces?”

Cain did like the idea of attacking these base stars a lot, but he realized that even if he did succeed, that would alert others to his presence, and one battlestar - even with two Strike Wings on board - would not last long should Cylon reinforcements find them.

“No”, he finally announced. “We need to see if there are other survivors from the fleet. The PEGASUS won’t last long alone, and we’re going to have to get a better picture of what’s been happening before we take on those base stars. Set an FTL-course for Caprica, Helm. We’ll start there.”

“Yes, Commander”, the helm officer acknowledged, “inputting plot co-ordinates for Caprica now”.

“What if there are Cylon forces still there, Commander?”, Tolen asked.

“We’ll jump to passive sensor range. If there are no contacts, we’ll head in on sublight drive, then we will launch raptors to check on the nearby colonies. Have Captain Syke prepare the raptors for launch”, Cain ordered.

As Tolen went over to Core Command in order to relay the order to Captain Syke, the helm officer reported, “co-ordinates punched in. Ready to jump at your order, Commander”.

“Very Well, Jump in 5....4....3.....2....1.....jump!”.

Chapter Five - Rescue and Resolve

After the PEGASUS made its FTL jump to Caprica, Captains Syke and Voight dispatched two Raptors each from their respective wings to quickly survey the nearer Colonies. The raptors were told to rendevous with the PEGASUS at Aires - instead of back here at Caprica - once their surveys had finished. They placed several medical shuttles on standby in case there were survivors to pick up. Tricia Cain volunteered to fly one of the raptor probes, but Captain Syke turned her down, saying that they already had full crews and that there was not a spare RSO (Raptor Systems Officer) for her to pair up with.

Commander Cain looked morosely at the view-screen as Sanders made his initial report from the passive sensors. No sign of any colonial ships - apart from destroyed derelicts and hulks drifting aimlessly - and the reports from the planet were worse. Virtually every single population center on the planet had been nuked. Radiation levels from the combined blasts were rising and soon it would reach a stage that any persons who had survived the initial attack would soon die of radiation poisoning. Similar reports had come from Raptors dispatched to Geminon, Tauron, and Picon. There were no transmissions or otherwise being picked up. The Cylons had done their work well, he thought bitterly.

Despite the apparent total destruction, Cain decided to head in and orbit Caprica at least. The passive sensors would be able to get a better picture of the situation from there. Once the PEGASUS entered orbit, he had Sanders power up active sensors and the communications technicians to listen for any survivors.

The initial picture was grim. The atmosphere was clouded over with debris from the multiple nuclear explosions, and all civilian television and communications signals were dead. The crewmen in CIC were similarly gloomy. Several quietly cried, particularly those whose homes were on Caprica. Everyone knew though that all of the colonies had suffered a similar fate.

“Commander”, one of the communications technicians suddenly announced. “I’m getting a PSB signal from the surface of Caprica. It’’s coming from an isolated area on the northern continent.”

A PSB was a Personal Survival Beacon. Colonial aircrews carried these as a means of getting rescued if their craft had crashed. So there was at least someone down there from the fleet, Cain thought to himself. Tolen walked over to the console to get further information regarding the beacon.

As the communications tech handed Tolen a printout showing the PSB’s transmission position, Cain walked over to Sanders, who was concentrating on the latest Comscan data.

“Are there any signs of a Cylon presence nearby, Comms?” Cain inquired. Sanders shook his head. “Negative, Commander. Looks like they just headed out once they completed their work here”, he quietly replied in a choked voice. Cain sympathized with Sander’s mood as Sanders was a Caprican, but he couldn’t afford to have his second-in-command distracted.

“Don’t bank on it, Comms”, Cain stated, “They’ll be back soon enough, so let’s get back to doing our jobs. Okay?”. Sanders nodded and headed back to his station, passing Tolen.

As Tolen came up to Cain with the PSB data in hand, Cain spoke to him.

“Dispatch a rescue shuttle to the source of the beacon, Colonel”, Cain ordered. “Then after whoever is down there is picked up and returned to the PEGASUS, have Helm set a course for Aries. We can quickly survey the rest of the Colonies from there, plus if the tin-heads return, we’ll be in a better tactical position.”

“Yes, Commander” Tolen acknowledged. He headed over to Core Command and had the PSB co-ordinates relayed to one of the ready-alert rescue shuttles. The shuttle pilot acknowledged the receipt of the information. Tolen then cleared the shuttle to launch. He watched the screen as the shuttle launched itself from the port bay and headed towards Caprica. An escort viper from Silver Spar Wing took up position beside the shuttle and together, they headed down to the surface of the nuked planet.

Down on the surface of Caprica, at the co-ordinates given to the shuttle, a young man in a variation of a colonial miliary uniform named Jason Gorde was trying to keep order among the people who were with him. The reason why he was in uniform was that he was a ROTC cadet, the only one left in the party who had had any military experience. A day or so earlier, There was another officer, a Raptor crewman named Lieutenant Atchison (call-sign Helo). He had given him a spare sidearm, some supplies and his Personal Survival Beacon.

The reason why Atchison was down-planet was that the raptor scout vehicle that he was on had to land for repairs. They had then encountered a lot of civilians who were trying to flee the nuked cities. After as many civilians as possible had been loaded aboard, Atchison had given up his seat on the raptor to Dr. Gaius Baltar himself. Then, after watching the raptor depart, he had sounded Gorde out and with his help, started getting the remaining people organized.

They had both set about organizing the group of people - some fifty of them - so that they could try and find food and get shelter. Atkinson had absent-mindedly activated his PSB, but he did not think that he would be rescued anytime soon, given the suddenness and intensity of the Cylon offensive. Both of them also knew that the radiation levels would soon rise to a lethal level, but military habits died hard and the first priority was getting these panicked civilians in order. Atchison had already shot one who had tried to jump onto the Raptor as it lifted off, and that at least had made it clear to the others that he was not to be crossed.

Now, a day and a half after the raptor had left, Atchison surveyed the group of refugees. For the most part they had quieted down, but the sight of the mushroom clouds from the nuked cities, plus the fact that there had been no further news about the war, had started to depress them. Both Atchison and Gorde knew depression would be just as fatal in the long term, but with the threat of radiation poisoning slowly building up around them, it all seemed moot. Still, he was determined not to succumb to the same level of melancholy. It was a losing battle, particularly as thanks to the cloud cover from the mushroom clouds, the temperature was slowly dropping. Atchison absent-mindedly wondered if the climatic changes would kill them before the radiation. Sitting here was not going to help, so he had to do something. He called Gorde over for a conference.

“Cadet Gorde”, Helo had said to him , “There’s a chance that there might be other military survivors, or at least extra supplies. Plus there is going to be a better-than-even chance that Cylons are going to be landing on-planet in force to mop up any survivors. I’ve got to find out what is going on, so I’m leaving you what spare supplies I have, and the PSB. If any colonial forces pick it up, it will be up to you to get the civilians to safety.

“What about you, Lieutenant?”, Gorde asked next, “Striking out on your own under these conditions would be suicide”.

“Don’t worry about me”, he replied, “After all, we’re supposed to be the ones responsible for the civilians’ well-being. You just keep this group together here. Besides, I’ll need to locate more anti-radiation drugs. You’re in charge until I return”.

With that, Atchison stood, checked his side-arm, and tote-bag, which carried a small amount of food and medical supplies, then headed into a nearby wood. That was the last time Gorde saw him.

Gorde was sitting in front of a fire that he had made and he, along with the civilian refugees, were trying to keep warm. Some food from a nearby farmhouse had been found, and the farmhouse itself had been converted to a makeshift hospital. For his part, he took a bite from a bar of meat concentrate which was in the rest of the survival rations Helo had left him. It was a hell of away to die, he thought to himself, either at the hands of the Cylons directly, or indirectly from the aftermath of the attack. He was maintaining guard, but knew that when the Cylons eventually came, his one weapon would not last long......

Just then, the PSB suddenly beeped. It was beeping out an acknowledgment of his original signal! Gorde fired his sidearm into the air, getting the attention of the others. Gorde held up his sidearm, quieting the crowd, then reached in and pulled the PSB out in order to read off it’s screen. He smiled and looked at the crowd.

“Listen everyone¼¼ I’’m getting a signal from a rescue ship”, Gorde announced. “Everyone stand by. They’ll contact us any time now. Once it lands, we’ll be getting out of here. Take no belongings with you. And remember that the sick and injured go first.” The looks on the refugee’s faces immediately changed from resignation to hope. One of them headed over to the farmhouse in order to give the civilians quartered there the word.

“How soon before it arrives, Cadet?” one of the refugees asked above the now-hopeful crowd of voices.

“The acknowledgment signal is short range, so it’s coming from a ship close by. It will home in on this beacon. It should be any time now.”

The wait was short, but it seemed an eternity until one of the civilians shouted and pointed to the sky. There was a black spot rapidly growing larger. At the sight of the shuttle, everyone broke into a cheer. Rescue was coming!

Gorde held up his beacon and depressed a switch, sending out a signal informing the shuttle that it was in visual range. Just then, his portable transceiver hissed into life.

“This is Rescue One-Niner”, the voice said. “Identify, please.”

“Cadet Gorde, Colonial ROTC Flight Cadet Second Class”, he answered.

“How many people are with you, Cadet?” Shuttle 19 asked next.

“I have fifty civilians with me”, Gorde replied. “More than a few are injured.”

“Very well, Cadet”, was the reply. “I’m requesting a second shuttle from base to pick up all of your party. ETA to landing is in two minutes.”

One of the civilians smiled as the shuttle came into land, but it was for a different reason. A beautiful young woman, she had blond hair and was wearing a red dress. She had been quietly awaiting the termination of her body’s life signs, but with the advent of this rescue ship - evidently from a Colonial warship - she realized that she could still be useful as is.......

The shuttle landed in a cloud of dust. Gorde kept his firearm up on order to keep the crowd back. As the shuttle’s hatch opened up, they all cheered. Gorde walked over to the pilot who had just emerged and saluted.

“Cadet Gorde reporting, Sir”, he said. The pilot saluted back and stood aside as several medics emerged from the shuttle, “where may I ask did you come from?”, Gorde asked.

“This shuttle is courtesy of Commander Cain of the Battlestar PEGASUS”, the pilot replied with a smile, “We’ll be heading there once everyone is loaded aboard”.

“The most seriously injured are over in the farmhouse”, Gorde said to the medics, pointing to the dwelling. The med-techs nodded, and with their equipment, headed over to the farmhouse.

“The second shuttle has just been dispatched from the PEGASUS. It will be here in a few minutes”, the pilot informed Gorde, “Are there any others?” he asked.

“Not now”, Gorde replied, “but yesterday, an officer from the GALACTICA was with us. Lieutenant Atchison, call-sign Helo. He went out to reconnoiter, but he hasn’t returned”.

“Well, we can’t stay here too long waiting for him. There’s a good chance that we may end up getting some unwelcome Cylon attention very soon. Anyway, how did you end up here?”, the pilot asked next.

“My ROTC class was out on a field exercise not far from here when the war started. I got separated from the others and eventually ended up with this group of civilians. Lieutenant Atchison’s raptor arrived, and several civilians were taken aboard ”, Gorde explained, “ The lieutenant gave up his seat in order to get one more person on”.

The pilot’s eyes widened at Gorde’s statement.

“Why did he do that?”, the pilot asked.

“Well, before he headed out. I told him that I didn’t want him to leave, but he told me that when you wear the uniform of the Colonial Military, you had the task of taking a bullet for civilians, not the other way around”, Gorde said matter-of-factly.

The pilot did not answer. He gestured to the open hatch of the shuttle. Gorde shook his head.

“Not until the civilians are all aboard”, he said simply, “I may only be a cadet, but one thing I do know is that the civilians come first. Lieutenant Atchison wouldn’t have it any other way”.

At that same time, the med-techs came over to the shuttle taking the first bunch of wounded civilians with them. Gorde watched them get loaded onto the shuttle. While this was progressing, a second shuttle came into view. Gorde watched as the shuttle flew over and landed close to where the first shuttle lay. A couple of vipers flew close aerial cover. Gorde now knew that his party would all be saved. For the first time in a couple of days, he smiled, but the smile was short-lived as he remembered that Helo had missed his chance to be rescued.

The able-bodied civilians started to board the second shuttle. They had obeyed Gorde’s admonition about no baggage. Both shuttle crews quickly got the civilians settled in. Finally, the pilot of the first shuttle walked over to Gorde.

“They’re all on board, Mr. Gorde”, he said, “so are you ready to go now?”

“Are you sure we can’t stay and look for Lieutenant Atchison? Leaving him behind to the tender mercy of those tin-heads is something I don’t want to think about”, Gorde asked. The pilot shook his head.

“I passed the information about him along to the PEGASUS, but I got word from Core Command informing me that we must get your group of survivors off-planet ASAP, as the tin-heads could return at any time”. Gorde didn’t really care to hear that, but he knew that staying too long could invite disaster for everybody.

Gorde nodded his understanding, and with the pilot helping him, walked over to the shuttle and boarded it. He was strapped into a seat by a med tech as the pilot climbed in and started the take-off sequence.

As the shuttle powered up and lifted off the surface, the civilians broke into applause. The shuttle smoothly accelerated. As soon as the shuttle cleared the atmosphere, the med-techs started to treat their passengers. For his part, Gorde looked out the portal at the receding landscape and mouthed, “Sorry, Lieutenant”. He hoped that the PEGASUS could send out a search party or something else at least.....

During the short ride back up to the PEGASUS, a med-tech had given him some anti-radiation tablets that were also being passed on to the others. Gorde still felt a little nauseous, but all in all, he was a lot better off that when he was down-planet. The med-tech had recommended that he report to Sick Bay in order to get more substantive treatment.

“Mr. Gorde”, one of the shuttle crew said to Gorde, “there is a message for you from the PEGASUS. You are to report to Commander Cain as soon as we land. He is in CIC”.

Gorde looked at the med-tech, who nodded.

“You’re fixed up enough for that, Cadet”, the med-tech replied to Helo’s silent question, ”but as soon as you’re finished with the Commander, please report to Sick Bay”.

Gorde nodded his thanks, and the crewman headed back up to the shuttle’s cockpit while the med-tech went to help one of the rescued civilians. Gorde though was distracted by the view outside his viewport. He saw the impressive leviathan on the Battlestar PEGASUS getting larger and larger as the shuttle approached. It was a wonderful sight, seeing the immense warship, but Gorde wondered what had happened to the fleet in order for the Cylon attack to succeed.

Gorde’s shuttle was cleared to land on the Starboard landing bay while the other rescue shuttle headed over to the port bay. The pilot expertly brought the shuttle down onto the immense flight deck. After landing, the lift that the shuttle had alighted on lowered down to an empty hangar bay. The ceiling above the lowering lift closed and the bay started to repressurize. Gorde did not notice the landing bay pods starting to retract.

After repressurization was complete, the shuttle’s external hatch opened. Several medical orderlies from the PEGASUS sick bay brought guerneys on board and started loading the most seriously injured on them. They would be taken to Sick Bay for immediate treatment. Gorde hoped that all of them would survive. Some of them were in worse shape than they looked.

Just then, a feeling of nausea and disorientation came over him. He realized that the PEGASUS had just jumped. He also realized that the PEGASUS must have been waiting for his shuttle to land and did not waste any time after they arrived to do so.

“Cadet Gorde?”, an ensign asked. He had just walked on board the shuttle after the emergencey medical cases had been removed.

“That’s me, Sir”, he replied with a salute.

“I’m to escort you up to CIC. Commander Cain is expecting you”, the ensign informed him.

Nodding, Gorde stood up and followed the officer off the shuttle. Thanks to the first aid rendered to him, he was able to walk okay. The Ensign climbed into a transport car and Gorde sat down beside him. A quick trip to an express elevator followed, and within a few minutes, Gorde found himself in CIC.

“Flight Cadet Second Class Jason Gorde reporting to Commander Cain as ordered”, he said, saluting the middle-aged individual wearing the insignia of Commander.

“Glad to have you aboard, Cadet”, Cain replied, “Sorry for the abrupt jump, but we have a few things that we need to do. I would like to know what you were doing down there on Caprica though”.

Gorde took his time explaining about the last few days down on Caprica. He explained about the circumstances of the arrival of Atchison on Caprica when the raptor had to land in order for repairs to be carried out. He informed Cain that several civilians had been taken on board the raptor once it was fixed, and that Atchison had given up his seat to Dr. Gaius Baltar, as he thought that the GALACTICA could use his expertise. After Gorde had finished his debriefing, Cain nodded.

"Well, I have some good news for you, Cadet. The GALACTICA evidently survived its battle with the Cylons at Ragnar Anchorage, and has FTL-jumped out of this system with a number of other ships”, Cain informed him. “ For the bad news, after our rescue shuttles had picked up all of the persons with your party, one of the escort fighters did a quick fly-around of the vicinity of your ground co-ordinates. No other persons have been found alive. Definitely no trace of your Lieutenant Atchison”.

“Where are we now, Commander?” Gorde asked, wanting to change the subject.

“We’ve just made an FTL-jump to the vicinity of the Aires in order to do a quick check for survivors, rendezvous with our raptor probes, plus to salvage any usable material from some destroyed ships while we have the opportunity”, Cain said matter-of-factly.

“Well, I’m glad that you came along. I’m glad Lieutenant Atchison left me his PSB. I only hope that his raptor got back to the GALACTICA as well before it jumped”, Gorde replied.

“Atchison gave up his seat for Dr. Baltar himself, eh?” Cain asked rhetorically. “That was most gallant of him, but if he had known that it was Baltar’s CMP navigation program installed in our fighters and warships that the Cylons had evidently tapped into, would he have still done so?”

Gorde did not answer. Cain looked at him for a few seconds more, and then turned as Tolen came up to him.

“Commander, our salvage shuttles are commencing picking up what useful debris from the destroyed ships in our vicinity as they can. They are reporting that there is enough useable material, but it’s still an unpleasant business”, Tolen reported.

“War is unpleasant”, Cain retorted irritably, “and I think given the choice, they would rather stay alive and able to feel unpleasant than be dead. What about our reconnaissance scouts?” he asked.

“Recon patrols are picking up no more PSB signals either in space or on any of the other colonies”, Tolen announced. “We have picked up a handful of people from small interplanetary craft that were adrift - air taxis and private sky-yachts mostly - with perhaps forty civilians in all - but no major intact vessels, military or otherwise anywhere nearby. The good news though is that there are no indications of any Cylon presence here either.”

“For the moment”, Cain finished for him. “I can only surmise that the Cylons are letting the fallout from their attacks finish off any planetary survivors while they are busy elsewhere, then they’ll start to occupy the colonies and eradicate any survivors.”

“You mean with the GALACTICA, Commander?” Gorde asked. Cain nodded.

“It makes sense. Depending on how many other ships made the Ragnar rendezvous and escaped from the Cylons there, it means that the Cylons will want to try and hunt them down”, Cain explained.

“So what about the PEGASUS? Won’t they be after us as well?” Gorde asked.

Cain briefly explained how the destruction of the PACIFICA had masked his escape from the Cylons. It meant that for the moment, the PEGASUS was presumed destroyed, plus if any Cylon ships suddenly appeared nearby, the debris from the destroyed ships nearby should camouflage their presence. That gave them an advantage. But Gorde wondered what kind of advantage.

“Commander”, Gorde said. “Judging from what you have told me, the Cylons have rendered the Twelve Worlds unlivable. There’s nothing left for us here. With the exception of the GALACTICA and whoever else met up with her, our Fleet has been annihilated. So with all due respect Sir, what are we going to do now?”

“We’re going to make the Cylons pay, that’s what we are going to do!” Cain replied icily. “But we can’t do it alone, which means we are going to need to find the GALACTICA force first and foremost. Besides, that’s where we’ll find the Cylons, since they’re not here at the moment.”

Cain turned to his navigation officer. “Helm, once our shuttles and the raptor probes return, set a course for Molecay Anchorage.” As Helm replied to the order, Cain turned to the others. “We used up a fair amount of fuel going from here to there to here again. To find the GALACTICA, we’’re going to need every additional drop of fuel, and every extra round of ammunition from Molecay to support this ship indefinitely. Once stoked up, we head out to find the GALACTICA, and the Cylon bastards who destroyed our colonies.”

“Any idea where the GALACTICA is, Commander?” Gorde asked.

“We had intercepted Cylon transmissions during the long-range scan of Ragnar and decoded enough to find out that the GALACTICA and the other ships that had made the rendezvous had FTL-ed well past explored space. It is out there that we have to go. Now, I need to ask you what training level you reached in ROTC”.

“I was just starting my senior year, Commander,” Gorde replied, “I have been trained in Raptor Systems Operations, and after the field exercise that I was on was completed, I was then to be reclassified as a First Class Cadet and to start pilot training on the raptor”.

Well, for now, Cadet Gorde, you are now assigned to Silver Spar Wing. We have need of your RSO skills. You’re about to experience the reality of service life a little sooner than would otherwise be the case. Report to Captain Syke. He’s the Silver Spar CAG. Dismissed - and welcome aboard, Midshipman.” Gorde nodded, saluted, and then left CIC.

Gorde headed down to Sick Bay. He had absorbed a fair amount of radiation while he was down-planet which needed to be properly tended to, but the fact that Commander Cain had field-promoted him to Midshipman was a positive boost in itself. Normally, a ROTC cadet had to finish all four years before being appointed to the rank of Midshipman, but he found himself promoted faster than he thought! War is hell, but can also be quite good from promotion, he thought wryly....

The Sick Bay was busy treating a few of the civilians who had come up with him on the shuttle, but a Triage med-tech found time to get him promptly got him seen to. As he was letting the meds give him stronger medication to counter the effects of the recent radiation exposure, An officer walked in. It was Captain Syke, the PEGASUS’ CAG. He was with another officer- a female lieutenant. Syke talked with a med-tech in Triage. The tech pointed to where Gorde was sitting. Both officers walked up to him.

“You must be Gorde”, Syke said by way of greeting. As he still was wearing his ROTC cadet fatigue uniform, Syke didn’t have to be a mind-reader.

“Yes, Captain”, Helo replied. “I take it that you’re the CAG, Sir?” he asked. Syke nodded.

“Sorry for not standing or reporting to you earlier, Sir, but as you can see.....”,Gorde said apologetically, gesturing to the med-techs.

“I see. Well, according to the meds, you’’ll be fit for duty very soon. And we do have a Raptor berth ready for you in the wing”. He gestured to the other officer who was with him.

“Midshipman, I’d like to introduce you to the pilot assigned to your raptor”, Syke said, “Mr. Gorde, meet Sheba”.

“Sheba?” Gorde said as he shook her hand. “Is that your name or call-sign, Ma’am?”.

“It’s my call-sign”, was the answer. “My name is Tricia Cain”.

Gorde picked up on her last name. “You’re not related to.....?”, he asked.

“Yes, I am”, Tricia confirmed, “and like you, I’m on TDY as well”, she mentioned, pointing to the ROTC patch on his uniform.

Gorde noticed the TRITON patch on her uniform.

“Commander Cain told me that the GALACTICA survived”, Gorde replied, “but what about your ship, Ma’am?”.

“The TRITON no longer exists”, Tricia answered quietly, “along with the remainder of the fleet. We lost a lot of people over the last couple of days”.

“so I heard”, Gorde replied, “Helo....I mean, Lieutenant Atchison told me about what he saw earlier”.

“Time enough to mourn the dead later”, Skye said quietly, but firmly. “We all lost a lot of friends and family, but the best thing that we can do right now is to get ourselves ready to fight. Sheba”, Syke ordered, “as you’re the most senior of the raptor pilots, you are now the officer commanding the wing reconnaissance section. After you go to Quartermaster and draw a new uniform, you will need to get brought up to speed on the other raptors and their crews”.

“Yes, CAG”, Tricia replied, “but why a new uniform?”.

“You’re now part of the Battlestar PEGASUS, which means you’ll need to wear the appropriate unit insignia. I’m sure you know that Commander Cain runs a tight ship”, Syke replied dryly.

Tricia nodded. Given the new circumstances, it made no sense to continue wearing the insignia of the TRITON.

“As for you, Mr. Gorde”, Syke said, “as soon as you’re discharged, draw a new uniform as well and get settled into quarters. When you’re settled, report to Sheba. And try to come up with a call-sign by then as well”.

“Yes, CAG”, he acknowledged. Syke offered his hand to Gorde, who shook it.

“Welcome to Silver Spar Wing, Mr. Gorde”, Syke said. He turned and left Sick Bay. Tricia offered her hand to Gorde, who shook it as well.

“Looks like we’re definitely part of the PEGASUS now, Mr. Gorde”, Tricia said, “I’d better get going. I’ll see you later”.

With that, Tricia turned and walked out of Sick Bay.

Gorde idly wondered what kind of pilot Lt. Cain was. Sooner or later, he would find out. He would also be finding out very soon just how well he remembered his RSO instruction.....

CHAPTER SIX: Preparing for Reconnaissance

The next two days were spent with the PEGASUS heading towards Molecay Anchorage on sublight. The diminishing of intercepted Cylon communications was a hopeful sign, but Cain wanted to be sure that there would be no surprises. The decryption section was making use of the time to decode and read the intercepts. There was no indication at all that the Cylons knew about the existence of the PEGASUS, but there was no more vulnerable position for a battlestar than laying inert in dock during a refueling. Therefore, nothing could be left to chance.

Comscan had reported that several Cylon ships were heading to the twelve worlds - evidently starting their occupation - but so far, there was no sign of Cylon pursuit and the combat patrols had likewise reported no contact. All in all, it was encouraging, but Cain would not feel completely comfortable until after they had reprovisioned at Molecay.

By the end of his second day on board, Midshipman Gorde had been discharged from Sick Bay. Following the orders that Captain Syke had given to him, he had settled into one of the crew quarters that were in use by other pilots of Silver Spar Wing. While the pilots had given him a good welcome, Gorde didn’t quite feel the same camaraderie that had existed back down on Caprica with his fellow classmates in Cadet Barracks. Being the youngest and most junior ranking crewman in quarters probably didn’t help matters either.

He did go to Quartermaster and traded in his ROTC fatigues for a flight suit, then reported to Lt. Cain, who had set up her office in an annex just down from the main briefing room used by Silver Spar Wing. He knocked and entered.

“Hi, Gorde”, Tricia said by way of greeting, “so are you feeling better?”

“No problem, Ma’am”, Gorde replied., “I’m certified as fully fit for duty”.

Tricia gestured to a chair. Gorde went over and sat down.

“I don’t stand much on formality”, Tricia explained, “so you can address me by my call-sign, if you like. ‘Ma’am’ makes me sound rather old”.

“Thanks, Sheba”, Gorde replied. Both of them were wearing newly issued flight suits bearing a shoulder patch upon which was embroidered BATTLESTAR PEGASUS BSG-89, while the other shoulder bore the blue RAPTOR patch. Of course, Gorde’s collar insignia was different from hers: he wore the white diamond denoting a midshipman, while Tricia’s collar insignia was the silver diamond and two chevrons of a senior-grade Lieutenant. Tricia had the rest of her flight equipment laid out on a table nearby and ready for use.

“So how long have you been training in raptor systems?”, Tricia asked.

“All through my third year at ROTC”, Gorde explained, “ Last summer, I was on TDY on board the Battlestar ASTORIA for field training with Copper Keel Wing’s Recon Section. I ranked second in my training contingent after my tour there ended”.

“I understand that you were intending to go on to pilot training?” Tricia asked next.

“I scored pretty good on the raptor pilot simulator as well. Before I went on the field exercise, I had been told that I would be doing my Fourth Year summer training at RTW. However, the Cylons kind of messed up those plans”, Gorde explained, referring to the Raptor Training Wing which trained pilots to handle the scout craft.

“Well, now you and I are now the primary raptor crew for Silver Spar Wing, so your training will be on-the-job from here on out. I’ve been given a directive from Core Command to ready our raptor for a preliminary recon mission”, Tricia announced.

“Oh, where?”, Gorde asked with a smile. He picked up on the ‘our’ comment immediately. Tricia was already treating him as a peer rather than as a subordinate.

“We’re to scout ahead and check on the status of Molecay Anchorage”. Tricia answered, “That’s where the PEGASUS is heading to reprovision and refuel. Once done, then we can start our search for the GALACTICA in earnest”.

“When will this be, Sheba?”, Gorde wanted to know.

“In about two hours”, Tricia answered, “The PEGASUS will jump to a position that will put our raptor within jump range of the anchorage. If you hadn’t have been discharged from sick bay by then, I would have had to assign another crew. As it is”, she said with a smile, “now I can assign myself. You’d better get ready to head out. We’ll be launching almost as soon as the jump is complete”.

“Bearing in mind my lack of practical experience, Sheba, Why are you having me as your RSO?”, Gorde asked next.

“I know about the ASTORIA training program for raptor personnel. It’s tough. For you to rank second means that you have got what it takes. Besides, I don’t like breaking up the other crews”, Tricia explained, “so think of this as your post-graduation baptism of fire”, she concluded with a smile.

“Okay”,Gorde answered, standing up, “then I’ll see you down in the launch bay in two hours”.

“You know which ship we’re assigned to?”, Tricia called after him. Gorde, who had reached the door, turned around.

“Yeah”, he replied, “the assignments have already been posted in Crew Quarters”.

“Oh, by the way, what call-sign do you wish to use?”, Tricia asked.

“Well, since only Ensigns and above are supposed to have the neat call-signs, how about ‘Newguy’, for the time being?”, he suggested.

Tricia laughed at that. It was good to see that Gorde had a sense of humor.

“Okay, ‘Newguy’ it is. Hopefully by the time you make Ensign, you’ll have come up with a better name”.

With that, Gorde left the office and headed back up to quarters in order to prepare for the mission. After opening a file and punching in Gorde’s call-sign preference, Tricia took the time to go over the data she got from the warbook regarding Molecay. She wanted to be prepared as much as possible.

The two hours passed quickly as Gorde got prepared and Tricia absorbed the information from the warbook. Tricia was still reading notes when she took the transport to the launch bay. She saw that Gorde had already arrived and was doing the pre-flight check of the raptor. Tricia nodded in satisfaction. Gorde was indeed very competent. Like Tricia, Gorde did the check not because he did not trust the crew chief, but the crew chief was human, and humans had been known to make mistakes. This way, if anything went wrong, the flight crew would only have themselves to blame. The crew-chief on the ASTORIA had drilled that fact into his head during his tenure there and he had never forgotten it.

All of a sudden, the P.A. system announced, “Set Condition Two, FTL-Jump commencing in twenty seconds”.

“Here we go”, Gorde muttered to himself. Tricia also mentally prepared herself for the jump.

The P.A. sounded the final countdown, “5.....4.....3......2.....1.....jump!”

How can anyone get used to it?, Gorde wondered as the disorientation and nausea hit. True, it was brief, but it was frakking uncomfortable!

As the effects of the jump wore off, Sheba said “Let’s go”, and both boarded the raptor. While deck crew members left the bay and closed the hatches behind them, They strapped in, and Tricia powered up the craft’s electronics. Keying her communicator, she said, “Recon Probe One to Core Command, ready for launch procedure”. As the raptor was not designed to be flung out of a launch tube, clearance was vested not in the launch officer, but the Core Command duty operator.

Up in CIC, Commander Cain heard his daughter’s voice. He nodded to the operator manning Core Command.

“Core Command now moving recon probe to launch position”, the operator announced, pressing a control.

The deck which the raptor had been sitting on slowly raised while red lights flashed in the bay, signifying that the bay was depressurizing. By the time that the raptor had risen almost to the ceiling, the flashing red lights went solid red, signifying depressurization was complete. The ceiling then slid open. The raptor was lifted up to the level of the landing deck. They were now in the vacuum of space.

Tricia did a final check of the raptor’s instruments, then started up the raptor’s engines. She then keyed her communicator.

“Recon Probe One systems nominal, awaiting clearance for launch”, she said.

“Core Command transferring control to probe leader. Launch when ready”, was the reply.

Tricia expertly took the raptor up off the deck and propelled her craft out of the landing bay. She smoothly brought the raptor up to speed, accelerating away and ahead of the PEGASUS.

After a quick glance at the receding battlestar, Gorde keyed his internal communicator.

“Jump co-ordinates punched in, Sheba. You can jump when ready”, he reported.

“Well, Newguy. Let’s get this show on the road”, Tricia replied, “jumping in 5....4....3.....2....1.....jump!”.

In CIC, Commander Cain saw the flash of light as the raptor made the FTL-jump. He hoped that the recon probe would return soon with an ‘all-clear’. Until they returned, he kept the PEGASUS on Condition Two. This was no time to be complacent, he thought.

CHAPTER SEVEN: Trouble at Molecay

With a flash of light, the raptor exited it’s FTL-jump. Gorde quickly checked the navi-comp, then keyed his communicator.

“Confirmed exit co-ordinates, Sheba”, Gorde reported to Tricia, “Molecay Anchorage dead ahead”.

“Thanks, Newguy”, Tricia replied. She activated the passive sensors only - keeping all of the active systems on standby - mindful of Sykes’ warning about the possibility of Cylons waiting in ambush for ammo-and-fuel-starved Colonial warships.

Next, Tricia powered down her engines, putting the Raptor into drift mode. It was imperative that should there be any Cylon presence here, that they not be alerted to her presence. The recent deciphered Cylon intercepts made it clear that the Battlestar PEGASUS had been presumed destroyed along with the rest of the ATLANTIA task force. Commander Cain wanted everyone - especially the Cylons - to think that for the time being. So far, the passive sensors were reading no electromagnetic or ionic emissions from anywhere nearby, but that did not mean that there was not anyone there listening either......

Unlike Ragnar Anchorage - which lay in the eye of a large ion storm , Molecay Anchorage was built into a small asteroid. Commander Cain had chosen this anchorage for two reasons: first, it held both an munitions and fuel reserve as well as a provisions storage bay, and second, because it was one of the remotest depots that the Colonial military had established. The odds were reasonably good that the Cylons had not yet taken out Molecay, but Cain was taking no chances - hence his decision to send a Raptor ahead to scout the anchorage.

As the Raptor drifted closer to Molecay, Tricia and Gorde kept their eyes peeled on their sensors. If the PEGASUS was to last for any amount of time in deep space, getting extra supplies, food, and ammunition was going to be essential. With the loss of virtually all of the Colonial Fleet - including it’s support vessels, this was the only way to ensure that the Battlestar PEGASUS could last long enough to find the GALACTICA and whatever other vessels had survived the Cylon Holocaust.

“Hey Sheba”, Gorde asked Tricia, “If you don’t mind me asking, how did you end up on the same battlestar as your father? You told me that your base ship was the TRITON, but were you on leave or was it business that got you on board the PEGASUS?”

“It was actually both. It was an informal leave from my home battlestar to visit my father while officially being there to pick up a raptor to ferry back to the TRITON”, Sheba explained, “I had only been on board the PEGASUS for a short time when the attack occurred. With the immediate dispersal of the fleet, I had no way to return to the TRITON”, which was just as well as the TRITON was destroyed over Virgon along with the rest of the OLYMPIA task force in the opening round of the Cylon Offensive.

Gorde nodded without replying. Despite the almost off-hand way that Tricia had described her situation, she must have been frustrated when she could not return, and then devastated after finding out that she had lost a lot of good friends when the TRITON was destroyed.

“I would have thought that your father would have wanted to hold you back from flying scout missions, after what happened”, Gorde said next. It was the wrong thing to say.

“Commander Cain”, Sheba said, enunciating the rank, “and CAG knew what they’re doing when they selected us for this recon, Newguy. I have the highest rating of all of the raptor-qualified pilots at his disposal, plus he does not play favorites when it comes to combat. Understand?”, she concluded icily.

“Sorry”, Gorde said apologetically. Just then, his console started beeping.

“Heads up, Sheba”, Gorde announced, “We’ve got company. Bogey at Grid Reference Ten-Seven”.

A ‘bogey’ was pilot slang for unidentified contact. As their active systems were offline, they could not use their IFF in order to positively identify the contact, and Sykes’ order concerning communications silence was clear.

“Try to listen in on communications, Newguy”, Tricia ordered, “start frequency monitor”. Gorde nodded and activated the console that quickly scanned through all possible communications channels. The monitor quickly locked on and Gorde started his decryption routine.

“Damn!”, Gorde exclaimed, “the transmission is Cylon. Contact is now officially reclassified as a hostile”.

“Can you get any of what it’s saying?”, Tricia asked next.

“The decryption routine is running now. Give me a few seconds”, Gorde responded.

Despite the temptation, Tricia kept the Raptor’s systems powered down. She quickly used her navi comp in order to compute the Cylon ship’s trajectory.

“Okay, I got part of what it’s transmitting. It’s more-or-less saying ‘reporting no contact with any colonial forces in vicinity of Molecay”, Gorde reported.

“I’ve just checked it’s trajectory”, Sheba replied, “it looks like a routine patrol sweep. I wonder how often they do it?”, she wondered.

“It’s just FTL-ed”, Gorde announced, “so, do we report this?”, he asked next.

“Not yet, Newguy”, Tricia replied, “we have to see if the anchorage is intact first. Keep monitoring that frequency just in case our friend returns. If it is a regular patrol, then we’ll need to know it’s time-table”.

Gorde nodded and settled back into his seat. He was impressed with Tricia’s handling of the situation. For her part, Tricia kept the Raptor on course towards Molecay. The asteroid was dead ahead and their trajectory would allow them to do a low-energy scan of the complex. So far, Gorde had handled himself well, despite his youth, Tricia noted with satisfaction.

While Tricia and Gorde were approaching Molecay in coast mode, back on the Battlestar PEGASUS, Commander Cain was in conference with Colonel Tolen, Captain Sanders, Captain Syke, and Captain Voight. They were going over the last batch of communications intercepts from the Cylon Base Stars at Ragnar Anchorage.

“So, it’s confirmed”, Cain said, “The GALACTICA got away with some fifty civilian ships”.

“But got away where?”, Tolen asked, putting into words what Syke and Voight were thinking.

“The Cylons evidently are not sure”, Sanders replied, “but the intercepts indicate that the GALACTICA and the other ships at the rendezvous have definitely made a long-range jump out of charted space”.

“Bill Adama is not a man who would cut and run without a really good reason”, Cain said, “so I can only surmise that those other ships are full of refugees and are trying to find a place to hide from the Cylons in order to start again”.

“That makes sense”, Voight replied, “given how badly nuked out the colonies are”.

“But the problem with that scenario”,Cain pointed out, “is that the Cylons are very tenacious. They won’t just let them go. They will keep on looking until they find them, so we had better find them first”.

“Well, according to the warbook, if Molecay is intact, they should have all the extra supplies that we will need for the short to medium term at least”, Syke pointed out.

“True”, Cain replied, “So how long before we can expect any reply from our scout?”,

“Not for three hours, Commander”, Syke replied, “Lt. Cain has been briefed about her mission objectives, so I’m not worried yet, but if we have not received a communication within two hours after her expected contact time, then I’ll dispatch another raptor. I gave Lt. Cain strict orders to survey the area as quietly as possible”.

Cain nodded without answering. He had been so relieved that his daughter had been on board the PEGASUS when the Cylons attacked. From what he had discerned, the TRITON had been one of the first battlestars destroyed when the OLYMPIA task force had been attacked. Still, despite the luck of her being aboard the PEGASUS, he had to think of her as a Raptor pilot instead of his only child, which meant that scouting missions had to come before family. He knew that some persons thought that his dispatching of her on missions like this was a somewhat heartless act, but Tricia was a capable Raptor pilot - which was what the PEGASUS needed more. He excused the other officers and left the conference center to return to the CIC.

Up in CIC, the duty staff were busy monitoring the immediate space around them. So far, nothing had been detected, but given the suddenness of the Cylon ambush of the colonies, no one was taking any chances at all. Condition Two was still being maintained - the second highest state of alert. Without going to full action stations, they were as ready as they could be.

The waiting was harder on Tricia and Gorde than on the crew of the PEGASUS. After what seemed an interminable time drifting towards the asteroid where Molecay Anchorage was built, Sheba at last had Gorde run his initial sensor scan.

“Okay, Newguy”, Tricia said, “What do we have?”

Gorde had activated the low-energy active sensors. The Raptor - which was otherwise still powered down - was drifting directly over Molecay Anchorage. The sensors were doing a preliminary sweep of the complex.

“I’m picking up no life signs, no EM signatures, and there are no signs of any battle damage, or any ships docked there either. The anchorage evidently is intact”, Gorde replied.

The EM signatures that Gorde was referring to were the electromagnetic emissions that came from Cylon centurions. So far, so good.

“Any other contacts?”, Tricia asked next, referring to possible bogies or hostile ships in the area.

“Negative, Sheba”, Gorde answered, “I think that we can do a more active scan of the complex”, he recommended.

Tricia considered Gorde’s suggestion. True, there seemed to be no sign of hostiles at Molecay, but the recent Cylon patrol worried her. The key to the survival of the PEGASUS was not to be discovered while she was sitting idle taking on supplies. If the Cylons came in force while that was happening, then it was going to be goodbye to another battlestar. Still, she had to make a decision soon, and the time for her to return to the PEGASUS was fast approaching.....

“Okay, Newguy”, Tricia decided, “I’m powering up the platform, but keep your eyes glued to the sensors. If that Cylon patrol comes back, we’ll have to go silent real fast. Got it?”.

With the full sensor platform back on line, Gorde was able to do a more comprehensive scan of the Molecay Anchorage complex and the local airspace. After a minute of analyzing the scans, he breathed a sigh of relief.

“All previous scans confirmed. Molecay is undamaged, unoccupied, and full of goodies”, he announced. Just then, his sensor alarm activated.

“Go silent!”, he shouted. Tricia immediately powered down the platform. Gorde looked at his passive sensor system. It showed the re-emergence of the Cylon ship.

“Frakk, our nosey tin-headed friend is back again”, Trica stated, confirming the obvious. She started the tracking program. This patrol was following the same trajectory as the last time. The Cylon ship did a scan of local space and the complex without slowing down, then continued it’s flight path to the jump point position of the last Cylon ship - where it FTL-ed out of the area.

Tricia checked her chronometer against the time record of the last patrol. She nodded to herself, then turned to Gorde.

“That fighter precisely followed the same trajectory path as the one before”, Tricia said, “and the time spacing between the two was three hours and ten minutes”.

“Not much of a window”, Gorde sourly noted. Tricia agreed. The Cylons were playing it smart: not destroying the complex in order to attract colonial warships, but having patrols scanning it in a time frame that would not permit a re-provisioning. She had no doubt that if a Cylon ship managed to detect the PEGASUS here, then a task force of Base Stars would be the next arrivals - and they wouldn’t be coming for provisions.

“At least we weren’t detected. We’d better jump back to the PEGASUS”, Tricia announced, “Commander Cain is going to need to know about this”. Gorde agreed. True, the complex was intact, but if the Cylons were making frequent patrols, what could be done? He didn’t have an answer to that question. He could only hope that someone else on the PEGASUS would.

“Jump co-ordinates punched in for return”, Gorde said after the navi-comp accepted the new input.

“Okay, Newguy. Stand by to transmit a full report to the PEGASUS as soon as we jump back. Jumping in 5.....4.....3.....2.....1....jump!”

The raptor flashed out of the region of Molecay and appeared back in the vicinity of the PEGASUS. Gorde immediately began to transmit the information they had gathered.

“Recon Probe One has returned”, the Core Command Operator reported, “we’re getting telemetry from their sensors”.

Syke, who was up in CIC, breathed a sigh of relief. Another hour and he would have had to send out another raptor to find out what had happened. He sent a stand-down signal to the second raptor crew.

“Thank you for the report, Sheba”, Sanders communicated, after the data feed had finished transmitting, “You’re clear to land on Port Landing Bay”.

“Understood, Comms”, Sheba communicated back. Tricia had flown the raptor back to the PEGASUS after the jump without incident. With the clearance to land, Tricia brought the raptor down quickly, but expertly onto the deck. The elevator she had landed on lowered the raptor to the launch bay. After the bay was repressurized, both Tricia and Gorde powered down their systems and exited the raptor.

Both of them took a transported and headed over to the briefing room in order to make their report. Both of them found Commander Cain and Colonel Tolen waiting for them

As soon as they were seated, she started to make her report on her find at Molecay. With Gorde providing additional data, she filled them in on the Cylon patrol schedule over the anchorage.

“Not good”, Tolen said to Cain as they both absorbed the report, “We’ve got supplies, but we won’t have the time to get them without being detected”.

“Worse news too”, Sanders said as he walked into the briefing room and up to both of them, “Telemetry intercepts indicate that there are no other intact anchorages anywhere nearby”.

“So the Cylons make sure that this is the only place in the quadrant that vessels can go, setting a nice little trap”, Cain finished. All in all, replenishing at Molecay was not looking to be a good option.

“With what we have now, could we just start our search for the GALACTICA?”,Tricia asked.

“What we have would be good for a month. Without a precise idea of where the GALACTICA is, it would be suicide to even attempt it. We need to be able to sustain this battlestar, it’s crew, and more importantly our fighters indefinitely”, Cain answered.

“So what options does that leave us?”, Tolen asked.

“The only one I see is to take out that patrol ship before it can report our presence”, Cain replied.

“If that ship does not report in, then they will send other ships out to look for it”, Tolen pointed out.

“I know, Colonel”, Cain replied, “and it will all hinge on how long that patrol will be missed before a search is made, but if you have any better ideas, then I’m listening”.

Tolen did not reply. Neither did Sanders. Cain turned and headed over to the Wing control station.

“Have Captains Voight and Syke report to CIC with Lt. Cain and Midshipman Gorde. We’ve got a mission to plan”.

“Captain Syke is up in CIC, and I’ll put a page out for Captain Voight”, Sanders replied, leaving the room.

Sanders must have had very little trouble as both CAG’s entered the briefing room within five minutes, with Sanders following. A crew chief had also walked in, responding to a summons by Commander Cain.

After all were seated, Commander Cain asked Tricia to quickly fill Syke and Voight in on what was discovered at Molecay. When she was finished, both CAG’s did not look happy at all.

“Three hours and Ten Minutes”, Syke said, “That will give the PEGASUS time to dock and to begin loading, but not nearly enough time to get on board what we need”.

“Loading will take approximately five hours in all”, Chief George Krag stated to the assembled officers. Cain had brought Krag to the briefing as his loading crews would be the ones doing the actual supply transfer.

“You saw no signs of Cylon ships when you had your scanners full-up?”, Cain asked Gorde. Gorde shook his head.

“Comscan reports no sign of Cylon warships nearby either”, Sanders reported.

“That doesn’t matter”, Tolen pointed out, “They can FTL in from almost anywhere”.

“But it also means that if they’re not nearby, they won’t know precisely where they lost their patrol”, Cain pointed out, “so any ships they send out to look for it will have to follow their missing ship’s flight path in all from the beginning”.

“But it did make a routine communications message as it passed by Molecay”, Tricia pointed out, “which means that if they don’t receive the message, then they will know where to start looking”.

“You intercepted the communications messages from the patrols you monitored”, Cain said, “Do you think you could send out in it’s place a similar message?” he asked her.

Tricia cautiously nodded, but said, “The Cylons are not stupid, Commander. They periodically change their codes and frequencies. If I send a message out on the frequency they used, and it’s prefix codes have already changed, then it will be immediately detected as a ruse”.

“But if there were no Cylon capital ships on your scanners, then why did the Cylon patrol ship communicate at all?”, Voight asked next.

“Probably there are relay probes seeded throughout the sector”, Tricia answered, “so any signal could be relayed to it’s Base Star. The Cylons go in for redundancy, so it would be a logical precaution to radio reports - even for an FTL ship, so if it went missing, the Cylons have extra data to go on, even though it would take longer to get to it’s destination”.

“How soon before it’s FTL-jump did the patrol ship make it’s report?”, Cain asked Gorde.

“About thirty seconds, Commander”, was his response.

“If we attack and destroy the patrol craft before it makes it’s transmission, and if our bogus transmission was accepted, then that would buy us some time”, Cain said.

“We have to make sure that it can’t transmit at all when it enters the area”, Syke pointed out, “ and when - not if - it sees the PEGASUS when it scans the anchorage, it will send out an alert and try to jump out immediately”.

“It takes about fifteen seconds to come up with improvised FTL-jump co-ordinates, so we have to keep it constantly busy with evasive action so that it can’t jump. That means we have to do a mass deployment of both wings”, Voight added. He was hoping that his strike wing could get into the fight and try to even things with the Cylons for the destruction of the Battlestar PACIFICA.

“Then you both are directed to come up with an attack plan based on those necessities”, Cain announced, “We need those supplies and that’s the bottom line. We destroy that patrol ship, send out our own ‘all-well’ and hopefully, that will buy us enough time to get what we need and get out”.

Both Voight and Syke wanted to say something more, but Cain’s tone of voice indicated that he had made up his mind. Both CAG’s saluted and left the CIC.

“I hope that you’re right”, Tolen said sotto voce to Cain, “because a lot will be riding on timing, and assuming that the Cylons have not changed the code”.

“I know that it’s a gamble, Colonel”, Cain replied, “but we do not have the luxury of playing it safe now. We do what we can and trust that we can get away with it”.

CHAPTER EIGHT: Molecay Anchorage

Three hours after they had been given their orders, both CAG’s were facing their pilots in the ready room. Syke spoke first, informing them about the situation at Molecay, and the Cylon patrol that had complicated matters.

“So that’s the situation”, Syke said in the squadron ready room, after filling them in. Normally holding no more than thirty pilots, all eighty-plus pilots of the PEGASUS and PACIFICA wings were crammed in to hear the briefing, with more than a few standing against the walls.

“In summation, it’s going to be an ambush plan using all of our fighters”, Voight said, “and everything is going to depend on us making sure that the patrol ship is destroyed without them getting an alert out”.

“How are we going to be deployed, Bojay?”, Lieutenant Keith Hayes (callsign ‘Chunks’), asked, “because we have to be unseen until the patrol ship makes it’s communication”.

“Silver Spar Wing will be deployed behind Molecay, Chunks”, Syke replied, “Sheba’s raptor will be on passive mode watching for the patrol ship. When she gives us the signal that the Cylon has entered the area, then the wing will attack. Newguy will at that moment jam the patrol ship’s frequencies”. As Syke had introduced Gorde to all of the assembled pilots at the outset of the briefing, everyone knew who he was talking about.

“At that point, Black Knight Wing (the call-sign for the PACIFICA’s wing) will start it’s attack just in front of the Cylon’s pre-set FTL co-ordinates” Voight announced. “We will be waiting in a powered down condition like Sheba’s raptor. We power up and cut off it’s route of escape. As mentioned earlier, we are all being deployed because we cannot take any chances on that patrol ship escaping, so keep it busy, and don’t give it time to calculate another jump”.

“Once that ship is destroyed - and it must be destroyed” Syke said, “both wings stay deployed in screening formation over Molecay. Because if Cylon reinforcements arrive, we will have to hold them off until the PEGASUS can get clear of the anchorage. And since the Cylons are likely to deploy a very large force, that means we will be in a world of hurt - got it?” , he finished.

The pilots were quiet. They were under no illusion what would happen if surprise was not achieved. Two strike wings would not last too long against an all-out Cylon attack.

“Very well”, Voight concluded, “Get to your fighters and stand by. Once the PEGASUS makes the jump to Molecay, we launch. Dismissed”.

The pilots stood and filed out of the ready room. Voight’s pilots headed over to the Starboard launch bay while Syke’s pilots moved towards to Port launch bay. Both Syke and Voight looked at each other, shrugged, then headed out to join their respective wings.

As the pilots of Silver Spar Wing boarded the crew trailers that would take them to the launch bay, Tricia turned to Gorde.

“Sorry that we’re not getting a break”, she said. Gorde shrugged. Rest was a luxury. Hopefully ,they would get back in one piece to enjoy it soon. For her part, Tricia was impressed with Gorde. Despite his inexperience, he stayed cool and alert throughout the recon mission.

The pilots of both wings headed to their transporters. All had been impressed by the seriousness of this mission. This time, no mistakes could be made.

Up in CIC, Cain and Tolen were getting status reports from throughout the battlestar. Syke had reported that both wings had been briefed and were heading to man their fighters. Krag reported that his team of loaders were ready with their equipment. The PEGASUS was now set to Condition One.

“FTL on-line and ready for execution” Sanders called to Cain, “co-ordinates set for Molecay”.

Cain nodded. Sanders had plotted the jump to take place at precisely the moment that the Cylon ship made it’s jump and to exit out directly over Molecay Anchorage.

After a couple of minutes, Core Command called Tolen over. After listening to the duty operator, Tolen reported to Cain that the pilots of both Strike Wings had already manned their fighters and were awaiting orders to launch.

Now, Cain was watching the master chronometer. If the Cylon patrol did not vary from it’s schedule, then it would jump out of Molecay when it reached zero. Now the chronometer was nearing the ten second mark.

“Stand by for FTL-jump in ten seconds..........mark!”, Sanders announced over the ship-wide PA system.

All over the PEGASUS, personnel sat down or otherwise braced for the disorientating effect of FTL travel. The pilots of Black Knight and Silver Spar Wings were seated in their fighters, ready for the launch officer to get them into the launch tubes and catapulted into space.

“Five.......Four.......Three........Two.........One..........Jump”, Sanders announced.

With a flash of light, the PEGASUS vanished from the section of space she had just occupied.

Almost instantly, another flash of light appeared directly over Molecay Anchorage. The PEGASUS emerged right at the correct co-ordinates.

As the effects of the jump wore off, the bridge crew raced into action. After verifying that the PEGASUS had indeed arrived at the right place, plus that the Cylon patrol ship had just departed (by scanning it’s ion trail residue), Cain nodded to Sanders.

Sanders went over to the wing control console and ordered, “All fighters and Raptor One, Launch!”.

Down in the launch tubes, the launch officers of both bays started the launch procedure and the fighters were quickly catapulted out from the PEGASUS. Silver Spar Wing, led by Captain Syke, headed to the far side of the asteroid. Black Knight Wing headed out to where the Ion trail ended. Tricia’s Raptor went to it’s pre-arranged co-ordinates. The clock was now ticking and they had three hours and ten minutes to get everything and everyone in place.

While the fighters were heading to their deployment areas, The Helm Officer was passing orders to the crewmen controlling the maneuvering thrusters on the PEGASUS. The docking hatch was set in the starboard landing bay and it was Helm’s job to match it up with the mating adapter at the tip of the anchorage. As the asteroid was small, it’s feeble gravitational field was easily countered by the expert touch of the helmsmen.

Gently, the massive battlestar was maneuvered into position. At their positions near the airlock, Chief Krag and his loading crew were standing by. They would head in to start loading up and transferring munitions and fuel. Close at hand were other persons - including most of the civilians that had been rescued by the PEGASUS. They had volunteered to help load in foodstuffs and other non-military items aboard.

One of the civilian volunteers - a very pretty blond woman - looked around at the waiting personnel with dispassionate interest. She knew that the PEGASUS had arrived at Molecay. Now, she had to try and do something so as not to prematurely alert the other people around her. An opportunity would present itself, she knew.....

With a shudder, the battlestar docked with Molecay Anchorage. Krag looked at the status indicator and saw that the docking seals were good. He checked the atmosphere meter and verified that there was equal pressure on both sides. He reported this to Cain over the communicator.

“Okay, Chief”, Cain authorized, “Let’s get this lady loaded up as fast as we can”.

Krag opened the airlock. Armed troops went in first and quickly verified that there was no one in the vicinity of the airlock and nothing suspicious nearby. Krag gestured with his thumb and his crew entered the station with their loaders and other tools.

As the various personnel entered Molecay Anchorage, Syke’s wing was reaching it’s deployment position on the far side of the asteroid from the entry co-ordinates of the Cylon patrol ship.

“Silver Spar Wing”, Syke communicated, “This is Group Leader. Power down your systems and wait for my order to execute”.

The forty fighters of Silver Spar Wing went into silent mode, hovering just above the surface of the asteroid. The asteroid would be a natural shield to the sensors of the patrol ship - at least when it made it’s exit from it’s FTL jump. Everything depended upon Sheba and Newguy watching from their Raptor.

In his viper, Voight heard the code signal informing him that Silver Spar Wing had reached it’s deployment area. His wing was widely dispersed just beyond the co-ordinates that the Cylon patrols used to make their FTL jump out of the area. Voight had to be careful to make sure that his fighters were powered right down. From a distance, they should look like space debris - and this part of space had plenty. Now, it was a waiting game. Both Voight and Syke prayed that the retrofitting of their fighters with the older navi comp program would stop them from meeting the same fate as hundreds of other pilots......

While both wings were laying in ambush for the expected re-appearance of the Cylon ship, the loading crews started on their task of collecting the supplies that they needed.

“We’re starting to collect the materiel now, Commander”, Chief Krag communicated to Commander Cain, “I’ve got extra crews working on clearing out additional storage space in the lower landing bay areas for the fuel pods”.

“Excellent, Chief”, Cain called back, “Magazines One and Two have got the space we need for the extra munitions load”.

“If we get every extra hand we have to assist, then we can get these stores loaded up within four hours”, Krag pointed out.

“Understood Chief, I’ll get you the extra manpower”, Cain assured him, “Cain out”.

Cain turned to Tolen, “Stand down from Condition One. Set Condition Two. Have Beta and Gamma Watches turn to and help Chief Krag load up. Keep Alpha Watch at their stations”.

“Yes, Commander” Tolen replied as Sanders walked up to him.

“Both Wings are in their deployment zones now, Colonel”, Sanders informed him.

“Okay, Comms”, Tolen acknowledged, “Let’s keep everyone alert and hopefully, we will get through this in one piece”.

Sanders nodded and returned to his station. This was going to be the hard part - waiting while the stores were being loaded. He hoped that the wings would be able to take care of that fighter. At the moment, the PEGASUS was in a disadvantageous tactical position.......

The commlink buzzed. Sanders picked it up and listened. He turned to Cain.

“It’s Chief Krag”, Sanders said, passing Cain the commlink.

“What’s up, Chief?”, Cain asked.

“We’ve just found thermonuclear warheads in one of the munitions storage silos, Commander. There are six of them and they are all in the twenty megaton range”, Krag informed him.

Cain and Tolen looked at each other.

“The warbook made no mention of nukes at Molecay, Commander”, Tolen said.

“Are there any delivery systems for those warheads, Chief?”, Cain asked Krag.

“Negative, Commander”, Krag replied, and none of the delivery ordinance on the PEGASUS is compatible with them either”.

The PEGASUS had as part of it’s armament missile mounted tactical battlefield nukes of the one-thru-fifteen kiloton range. Thermonuclear devices were not part of any armament due to it’s sheer overkill power. Devices of that type were only useful against stationary targets like population centers.....

“I can only speculate that these are old warheads left over from the first Cylon War, Commander” Krag said, “probably left here in case they were needed”.

“Actually, Chief”, Cain replied, “they might be useful. Can you arm them?”

“That’s not a problem, Commander”, Krag answered, “Why?” he asked next.

“When we leave, there will still be a lot of materiel here. I’d hate to have to leave it all for the Cylons to use, Chief...”, Cain said not-too-cryptically. Krag got the hint.

“I’ll take care of it, Commander. Krag out”.

While Krag’s technicians and the extra hands were loading up the fuel and munitions pods, the other group of volunteers were loading up on various containers that contained rations. Molecay was extremely well-stocked with food and water and the civilians were loading everything they could into the loaders that they had brought along with them.

The blonde woman was looking around at the storage areas trying to see what could be done. Being careful to avoid calling attention to her, Since the bays were large, there was no trouble slipping away from the main party. She had walked over to an office which was unoccupied and was inspecting a cargo manifest for the other storage bays seeing what could be useful - from her point of view. There had to be some way to alert her associates to the presence of the PEGASUS.....

“Excuse me, miss”, a crewman came up to her, “we really need you over in Bay Three. There are a lot of foodstuffs we need to get loaded before we can look at anything else”.

The woman saw that the crewman was alone, and though he was armed, his weapon was holstered. She quickly made a decision.

“Sorry”, she said, smiling at the crewman, who smiled back. “I noticed this manifest over here and was just seeing if there were other items that we could use”, she explained, pointing to the manifest, which she held out to him. The crewman looked at the offered list and reached out to take it. That was the last thing the crewman saw as the blonde woman grabbed his neck and squeezed. The crewman’s neck snapped, killing him instantly. The woman pulled the body across the deck and hid it behind a couple of crates outside the office, after stripping it of it’s jacket and cap. She thought about taking the sidearm, but decided that it would be more trouble than it was worth. Putting the clothing items on, and tucking her hair inside the cap, she picked up the checklist and started looking through it. From a distance, she looked like a crewman, which should avoid any other unpleasant distractions.

After a couple of minutes of scanning through the manifest, she found what could be useful. Checking her chronometer, she started going to where the manifest said that the items she wanted were. With luck, she thought, she could build something that will alert her colleagues to what was going on over here.

Nearby, oblivious to her presence, the other civilians were loading up case after case of foodstuffs and liquid refreshments onto loader carts. There was a wide variety of consumables and the crew members who were assisting wanted to have as much of it as possible. Nothing was more detrimental to morale than a monotonous diet.

While all this loading was happening, the blonde woman was making her plans.....

CHAPTER NINE: Unwelcome Attention

With the time for the expected return for the Cylon patrol approaching, Cain wanted a status check of the provisioning. He walked on over to the comscan console where Sanders was marking items down on a checklist.

“How’s the loading going, Comms?”, Cain asked Sanders. Sanders looked down at a checklist.

“We’ve topped up our fuel tanks and gotten five thousand additional liters of tylium so far stowed in the cleared areas in both landing bays, Commander”, Sanders said, checking his list, “and Magazine One is almost completely filled. Magazine Two should be filled within two hours maximum. The loading of foodstuffs is proceeding smoothly and we should be at full fuel and ammunition capacity around the same time”.

“I’m a little concerned about that much tylium stowed in the lower bay decks, Comms”, Cain remarked.

“Chief Krag’s boys have constructed stabilization braces for the pods, plus that area of the bays is pretty well protected”, Sanders pointed out.

“Any problems?”, Cain asked next.

“We seem to be missing a crewman: Specialist Wright. He was assigned to assist the civilian volunteers loading up the foodstuffs. He has not responded to any of our commlink inquiries for the past hour”, Sanders said.

“You send anyone out to look for him?”, Cain asked next.

“Not yet, Commander”, Sanders replied, “because everyone is committed to the loading of supplies. Some of the folk seem to think that his commlink may be malfunctioning”.

“I’d feel better if we could locate him, Comms, so detach a couple of people from whatever they’re doing and have them look for Wright”, Cain ordered. Sanders nodded and headed to a commlink.

“Commander”, one of the Tactical Officers called, “It’s nearly time for the patrol to re-emerge”.

“Get me both CAG’s on secure commlink”, Cain ordered. The officer came up with a headset.

“This is Cain”, he announced, “It’s nearly showtime. We still are a little under two hours short of full provisioning, so make sure you take that ship out, understood?”.

“Understood, Commander”, both CAG’s replied. Cain flipped off the headset and turned to Sanders, who had just finished relaying Cain’s order to search for the missing crewman.

“Let’s get our gun crews to stand to, Comms”, Cain ordered. Sanders nodded and activated the PA.

“Set Condition One for gun crews. Repeat: Set Condition One for gun crews”, he announced.

All over the PEGASUS, the weapons crews stood to their posts. If the Strike wings were successful, then they would not be needed. If not, then they were liable to be very busy very soon.......

At this same moment, deep within Molecay Anchorage, the blonde woman had acquired the items that she was looking for. In the back of bay seven, she assembled a power cell and a converted soil analyzer. She had made the conversions herself, turning the analyzer into a beacon. Now she needed an antenna of some kind. Once she found something that could be used, then she would be able to send out a signal on a specific frequency that her associates would be monitoring.

Meanwhile, up in the raptor, Gorde checked his chronometer.

“Expected emergence in ten seconds, Sheba”, Gorde announced.

Tricia nodded and monitored her sensors. The chronometer started ticking down.......five, four, three, two, one, zero!

With a flash of light, the Cylon patrol craft appeared. Tricia monitored it as it started to close in on Molecay. Within twenty seconds, it would start scanning the complex.

“Battle Plan, Execute!”, she announced into her commlink.

Syke and Voight heard Tricia’s signal. Syke called out to his wing “Let’s get him!”. At his command, the fighters of Silver Spar Wing powered up and started heading out around the asteroid.

In the Raptor, Tricia powered up her platform. Gorde immediately sent out jamming signals.

On the screen, Tricia noticed the Cylon ship abruptly change course. At that moment, Syke’s wing flew out from behind the asteroid and started firing at the Cylon ship. The Cylon ship turned and started flashing a beam at the fighters, but none of the incoming ships seemed to be affected. Syke breathed a sigh of relief.

“Okay, Silver Spar”, he called, “Looks like their dirty tricks aren’t working this time. Take him out!”.

The various fighters started firing their guns, forcing the Cylon ship to fly evasive. As long as they continued to do so, the Cylon ship could not make an improvised jump.

“The jamming is working, Sheba”, Gorde announced, “He’s not sending out anything”.

“Great”, Tricia replied.

Sheba noticed that the Cylon ship was trying to get to the pre-set co-ordinates since it could not do an improvised FTL-jump. She keyed her commlink to Captain Voight.

“Fox is heading for the coop”, she announced.

In his viper, Voight heard the signal. “Black Knights, Power up and engage!”.

At his command, the forty vipers which was all that was left of the Battlestar PACIFICA powered up and converged on the fleeing Cylon ship.

Down on the PEGASUS, Cain watched his viewscreen as the two viper wings squeezed the patrol ship into a pincer. It looked like the plan was working. The viewscreen showed two missiles launched from one of Silver Spar’s vipers. The first missile missed the Cylon ship. The second didn’t.

With a blazing flash of light, the Cylon Patrol ship disintegrated. Syke keyed his commlink.

“Nice shot, Chunks”, he communicated.

“Thanks, Bojay”, Lt. Hayes acknowledged.

“Newguy”, Syke called next, “send out the ‘all-well’ signal”.

“Sending”, Gorde acknowledged. To Tricia he whispered, “let’s hope that the codes they used before are still the current ones”.

“So say we all”, Tricia replied.

“This is Newguy to Silver Spar Group Leader. The message has been sent”, Gorde reported to Syke.

“Okay, everybody”, Syke communicated , “let’s hope for the best but prepare for the worst. We converge and fly in a screening pattern over the PEGASUS. Keep your eyes peeled. Trouble can emerge at any time”.

Back on the PEGASUS, Cain turned to Tolen. Both had been listening to the pilot chatter.

“Well, we just unzipped our fly. Let’s hope we can finish up before the tin-heads smell a rat”, he commented.

Tolen nodded and keyed his commlink.

“Krag, this is the XO”, he communicated, “we’ve taken out that patrol ship, but you’d better expedite”.

“Understood, Colonel”, Krag replied, “Oh, and please let the Commander know that his surprise package has been prepared”.

“Right Chief”, Tolen nodded, understanding what he meant.

In the anchorage, down In Bay Seven, the blonde woman heard about the destruction of the Cylon ship. She had taken the dead crewman’s commlink and had listened in to the battle. Now, it seemed that her efforts would be the last chance to stop the PEGASUS. She clipped in a long length of cable to the improvised beacon. Next, she started a timer, made from the dead crewman’s chronometer. The timer would activate the beacon within twenty minutes. This would give her time to mix back in to the crowd. If the effort was a failure, she would still be with the rest awaiting another opportunity. If it was successful, then she would awake in another body, ready to help hunt down the other escapees.

She stood up and exited the bay, removing the jacket and cap she had taken earlier from the now-dead crewman Wright..

While she was quickly but quietly joining the rest of the volunteers in Bay Three, two crewmen were looking around for Specialist Wright. They passed by the main group of workers and headed over to the next bay area.

“This place is huge”, Specialist Warner said to Petty Officer Brook, “Where would Wright goof off to?”

“You know him better than me, Warner”, Brook commented. He didn’t really care to do a search for a person who was likely goofing off work and he would enjoy reaming him out when he found him.....

“Weird smell”, Warner commented a few minutes later while walking past some crates outside a disused office near Bay Five, “it smells like someone didn’t make it to a bathroom in time”.

Brook noticed the bowel-ish odor too. It seemed to be coming from behind those crates. Any strange smell in a station was something to check out. He looked behind the crates, then drew back rapidly.

“Comms”, Brook communicated in a hoarse voice.

“Go ahead”, Sanders replied.

“This is Brook. I’ve found Wright. He’s dead!”. he sounded. At that, Warner paled. He looked around the corner of the crates, then abruptly tore away his glance, looking deathly pale.

“Where are you, Brook?”, Comms asked.

“Down near Bay Five”, Brook answered, “His neck has been broken and his body was hidden behind the crates. This is no accident, Sir”.

Comms turned to Colonel Tolen, who had been listening.

“Captain”, Tolen said, “get a security detachment down to Petty Officer Brook’s position now”.

“Brook”, Sanders communicated, “We’re sending down some security personnel to you. Stay where you are. PEGASUS out”.

Tolen picked up his commlink and communicated to Cain, who had gone down to the airlock in order to check on the loading progress.

“Commander”, Tolen reported, “We have a problem”.

“What??”, Sanders replied in a loud voice into another commlink, “Find it now!”.

Pale, Sanders put down his commlink and said “Colonel, Sheba reports that a signal is being transmitted on the Cylon patrol frequency. It’s in the form of a beacon and it’s originating from within the Anchorage!”

“Correction, Commander”, Tolen clarified, “we have a big problem”.

“Get the security detail in the anchorage to find that beacon. Get it shut down!”, Cain tersely ordered. This wasn’t good, he knew.

The civilians looked up in surprise as a heavily armed detachment of crewmen ran past them and headed over to Bay Five. The blonde woman realized that the body of the dead man must have been found, but it was too late, she thought to herself. The beacon would be transmitting by now and it should be responded to very soon.

The security team rushed into Bay Seven. They had a signal locator with them and quickly found the improvised transmitter. A quick burst with a rifle silenced the beacon.

“Commander”, the security chief reported, “the transmitter has been silenced”. Cain was relieved that it had been found, but since it had already sent out it’s signal, trouble could arrive at any moment.

“We’re out of time, Let’s get everyone off the anchorage, now”, Cain ordered, “Comms, sound the evacuation order!”.

As the announcement came over the PA system, everyone started moving toward the airlock, taking whatever extra they could in their hands. The civilians were escorted on board the PEGASUS first - where a head count was taken. Next, Krag’s men came on board, dumping their last-gotten goods just inside. While all this was happening, the alert went out to both Strike Wing’s fighters. Trouble could be expected at any moment.

“The moment that we cast off, we get our fighters back and immediately jump to those co-ordinates”, Tolen informed Sanders. Sanders nodded and headed over to FTL control. There was no time to lose.

Cain joined Tolen back in the CIC and while they were awaiting confirmation that the anchorage had been evacuated, they kept their eyes glued to the scanners.

“The security detachment wants to know if we should take Wright’s body”, Tolen asked.

“We don’t leave our dead behind, Colonel”, Cain replied, “tell them yes”.

Tolen relayed the order. The detachment had quickly wrapped the body in a piece of plastic and now four of them were carrying it with them back to the docking bay.

“We get enough stores on board?”, Cain asked Tolen.

“According to Chief and Comms, we have gotten pretty well stocked up on consumables, fuel, and materiel”, he replied, “I only hope that we haven’t left it too late”.

Down in the docking bay, the security detachment quickly got on board. After dropping Wright’s corpse in the airlock, the head of the detachment gave Krag a thumbs-up. Krag pressed the control panel that shut the hatch.

As the status panel flashed it’s SEALED message, Krag picked up his commlink.

“This is Chief Krag”, he communicated to CIC, “everyone is off the anchorage, and the airlock is sealed!”.

“Helm”, Cain ordered, “Disengage now, get us away from here!”

The helmsmen manipulated the controls, undocking the PEGASUS from Molecay. As the battlestar climbed away from the anchorage, Cain nodded to Sanders.

“All fighters, return to base. Commence immediate combat landing”, he communicated.

“You heard the order”, Syke said to both wings, “let’s get down there now!”.

As the fighters - and Tricia’s Raptor - started heading back to alight on the PEGASUS, Cain turned to Sanders.

“Comms, keep the gun crews on full alert until we jump”, he ordered, “and when the last fighter lands, retract the landing bays and prepare to make the jump”.

“Yes, Commander”, Sanders acknowledged.

So far, there was no sign of any hostile craft heading into the area, but Cain knew that it was only a matter of time. He turned to see Chief Krag, who had just arrived on the bridge.

“You got everything set, Chief?”, he asked Krag.

“Yes Commander”, he replied, “Here is the activation device”, he said, handing him a handset.

“The first switch fully arms the warheads”, Krag explained, “the second starts a thirty second countdown. Once started, it cannot be aborted. All six warheads will detonate at that moment”.

Cain turned his attention to the monitor screens and watched the Strike Wings land upon the landing bays. All of them had come in fast and landed hard, but there were no mishaps or crashes. Both wings had practiced combat landings repeatedly. The pilots would remain in their fighters until after the jump.

When all of the vipers and Sheba’s raptor had landed, Cain activated the arming switch. The thermonuclear warheads sitting in the anchorage were now primed for detonation.

The PEGASUS was rapidly pulling away from the anchorage. Cain was about to issue an order when the alarm klaxon sounded.

“We’ve got FTL-emergence directly over the anchorage” One of the technicians at the Comscan console announced, “My lords of Kobol, it’s a Base Star!”.

Beneath them, approximately eight klicks away, directly above the anchorage airlock, a large six-pronged leviathan emerged from it’s FTL. Cain didn’t hesitate. He thumbed the detonation button, starting the countdown. He then turned to his Weapons Officer.

“All topside batteries, open fire!”, he ordered. At his command, the missile launchers and main topside guns started firing their ordinance at the base star. The base star immediately started firing back.

“Landing Bays retracted”, Sanders announced, “we’re all clear to jump!”.

“Twenty-Five seconds to detonation”, Krag reported.

“We make the jump at T minus two seconds”, Cain announced, “Hold relative position to the anchorage. We have to keep that base star close to Molecay”.

As the helmsmen carried out his command, Sanders noticed that a missile had penetrated the suppression fire cordon. It was homing in on the PEGASUS.

“Incoming missile”, Sanders shouted. Two seconds later, a Cylon missile impacted on the hull of the PEGASUS. The battlestar shook as it absorbed the impact.

“Stand by to jump”, Tolen announced as he saw one of the missiles from the PEGASUS impact on the base star.

“They are launching fighters”, Sanders announced from his station. “At least seventy so far”.

On the DRADIS console, the close up views of the base star showed wave after wave of scimitar-shaped Cylon fighters deploying into attack formation.

“Ten seconds to detonation”, Krag announced.

“Stand by to make the jump. T minus two”, Cain announced.

The base star was firing more missiles as the fighters started to close in. As the chronometer reached ‘2', Cain sounded, “Jump”.

With a flash, the PEGASUS made the FTL-jump.

Two seconds later, another, more spectacular flash occurred as the six twenty-megaton nuclear warheads detonated directly beneath the Base Star, which had hardly moved from it’s position over the anchorage.

The electromagnetic pulse immediately knocked out the fighters that had launched from the base star. The base star itself was caught and bathed in the fireball of the massive nuclear explosion. The outline of the base star was momentarily visible, then the base star blew apart, unable to resist the massive conflagration of the detonation. The debris of the base star flew out, impaling the helpless fighters. Molecay Anchorage - and the Cylon Base Star that had responded to the beacon - had ceased to exist.

CHAPTER TEN: Epilogue

Somewhere, out in deep space, way beyond the Red Line, the impressive bulk of the Battlestar PEGASUS was cruising at it’s most economical speed. The repairs to the damage suffered from the base star had been repaired, the additional supplies salvaged from Molecay had been stowed away, and both wings were deploying fighters on regular patrols.

“Attention, all personnel”, Cain had announced over the P.A. after successfully making the escape, “We are now embarking on our new mission: to find the GALACTICA and the remaining ships of the Colonies. Once we find them - and we will - we will be able to strike back at the Cylons and to make them pay for what they have done to our home planets, the fleet, and our loved ones. The Cylons will not stop until they destroy us, which means that in order to survive we will have to destroy them. Keep this hope alive: we will prevail and we will defeat the Cylons. So say we all”.

Cain put down the P.A. mike and looked around the CIC at his crew. Their morale looked high at the moment, but he would have to work to keep it high through the uncertain time that lay ahead. They may be refugees, but they were also a military unit, and by the Lords of Kobol, he would make sure that they would never lose sight of that fact.

He had found the time to preside over a private funeral service for Specialist Wright, after which the body was cremated. Cain thought that it was best to keep the circumstances of his death a secret. The crew members who had found him, the security detachment, and the command staff who knew had been sworn to secrecy, But Cain did not forget the fact that Specialist Wright had been murdered, and that someone had built and activated that beacon. That meant that there was a traitor amongst them and as long as that person was at liberty, the Cylon threat would always hang over their heads. He hoped that he could find Adama - and the traitor - before it was too late.

And while Cain was thinking about all of this, over the debris that used to be Molecay Anchorage and a Cylon Base Star, another base star hovered. In one of it’s alcoves, several humanoids looked through the readouts from the scans.

“No knowing what happened?” asked one.

“No, Number Eight”, replied another, “There was no communication received since the beacon was responded to”.

“Any sign of debris other than the base star and the anchorage, Number Three?”, Number Eight asked.

“Nothing else found so far”, Number Three answered.

“So what do we do?”, Number Eight asked.

“Until we get more information on what occurred here, we still comply with the directive from Number One and concentrate on finding the humans who escaped from Ragnar”, Number Two said, walking into the alcove.

“By Your Command”, the other three replied.

END OF BOOK ONE