Jumping into the shipyards near Tauron, the four ships of the mobile engineering group Red Demeter dock alongside the newly launched destroyer Achilles. Bristling with dozens of railguns, defensive batteries, and missile bays, the destroyer was meant to compliment the battlestar by offering protection against the hordes of enemy fighters and allowing the battlestar to go head to head against opposing capital ships. Major Myosha Huron coordinates the docking of the remaining ships and stands at the controls as the Lieutenant Colonel Styles excuses himself. Flipping her short chestnut hair off her brow, she raises the remaining ships in her group and waits for each to notify her that they are docked. With nearly 3500 personnel spread out in 4 small specialty freighters and escorts, their military convoy could easily be confused for a cheap salvage company. Lacking a magnificent fighter compliment or contingents of marines, 90% of their firearms were always secured in the armories. With three quarters of their crew maintenance or engineers, the vast majority of them were lying around in their bunks or working off their frustration in the gym. An eighteen month mission which was completed in six, everyone’s enthusiasm for a accomplishing the impossible left most drained and exhausted. As the last ship confirms their docking, Myosha signals the captain in his quarters and has her bridge crew stand down. From her right at the communications station, a meager console and chair alongside four other stations, Lieutenant Brea Lamos shakes her head and rolls her eyes as she speaks.
“Colonel Styles wants to see you in his quarters. He says not to release anyone on leave, ‘cause we’re not staying long. I’ll pass that on to the convoy.”
With a weighted nod, Myosha removes her headset and strides towards the door. Over her shoulder she throws out to her navigator Captain Braka.
“Caleb, you have the bridge until I return. Styles will want to keep everyone on their toes, so run drills…like something for fast deployment. I’ll leave that to your discretion. He’ll love to hear that. It’s probably why he’s summoning for me.”
Nodding, a crisp brown-haired officer rises and takes Myosha’s place at the helm. Out of place among the rough and grizzled flight deck crew, he carries a commanding and calming aura even with the simplest of tasks.
Leaving the bridge, Myosha travels fifty feet down the corridor and smacks the door panel. Many moments later, the captain releases the door, and it slides open. With his shirt in his hands, he sneers as if she’s supposed to be impressed with his middle-aged build laced with years with excessive consumption. Repressing her disgust and disdain, she waits patiently at the door despite his advances and motioning to enter. Holding up a glass of whisky, she shakes her head and refuses to accept the liquor. Reading his anger flashing across his face, she adjusts her stance and holds her ground. Downing the glass in two gulps, he slams down the glass and throws his shirt on.
“Well you and everyone else can stay on board while I go and confer with command on where they want us to take our salvage. We’re still on a communications blackout, so no unofficial comm-traffic until further notice. Run emergency drills ‘til I get back and cargo processing is complete. We’re only taking on a few thousand tons of supplies and munitions to Caprica. Everything is low priority but we’re the only ship heading there for a few days, and they’re tired of holding it in their secure zone. They’re putting it all on the Rhea and Coeus, and we’re dropping off our empties to make room. That’s why I had us rearrange everything before we left. I don’t want to be here any longer than we have to.”
Taking out her data reader, Myosha verifies the manifest the station sent, and notes a pallet ready for their ship.
Clearing her throat, Myosha checks off the cargo.
“There’s a mail and private parcel pallet ready for us to take on?”
Nodding the captain continues.
“Oh yah, that too. No one is to leave the ship, and no one calls home. I’ll be back in three hours. Got it?”
With a heavy sigh, Myosha nods.
“Aye. I’m running emergency departure drills, nothing too extreme, but we are spinning up our FTL. It won’t put excessive wear on it if you’re only going to be a few hours.”
She suppresses her tongue thinking he should only need two minutes with his Tauron whore. Despite having a wife and four kids on Caprica, he frequented the Tarnished Horn every time he came through this port. It was hardly a secret, and she even believed his wife had her own lover or two to counter his frequent tours away from home. Lavishing his lovers and family in gifts, they all got what they wanted from him in the end. Stepping aside as he exists, she follows a step behind him as he goes to the cargo bay. With the large cargo bay door swung wide, he strides through as they take off the empty cargo bins and make room for the mail pallet.
“Good work, keep it up until I return.”
Without looking back, he strides through the bay door and disappears into the station. With nothing else to do, she turns swiftly and returns to the bridge. With the bridge buzzing in activity, she settles into the command chair and begins reviewing the logs. Reading the emotions of her crewmates, she nods to each showing her compassion for the uselessness of the drills. Noticing their new recruit on the chatterbox, one of the many wireless communication systems on board, she nods to the person on the other line and signs off. Ensign Hera Guper, being unfortunate enough to get the worst assignment draw out of the academy, took the rear-end assignment of the fleet far better than Myosha would have in her boots. Caleb neatly marches to her side and pivot’s smartly into place.
“Major, everything is in order. I’ve chose the Aeneid Scenario. Its rather obscure, and no one ever runs that one.”
Myosha raises her dark eyebrow in surprise.
“A massive surprise attack by superior forces, with insufficient time to mount a coordinated response? Okay…I did say it was your discretion, but you should have chosen something more practical or likely, but I’m fine with that. The strange and unusual will break up the monotony of these drills. Who was Ensign Guper talking to on the comm?”
Nodding crisply, he inhales softly before speaking.
“I know the XO on the Achilles next door. She’s a friend of the family, known her since I was in grade school. She’s only a few years older than me, and we kept in touch. She called us; and I mentioned we were running drills, and she thought it would be great opportunity to coordinate between her crew and ours. She says they have very little practice in fleet ops with their new ship, so I gave her our emergency escape coordinates. I imagined it would be nice for our convoy to feel like members of the fleet, rather than trash haulers.”
Unable to suppress her chuckle, she nods in approval.
“Remind me to never piss off anyone in your family. On the bright side, once they release the news of our salvage and recovery, I think promotions are in order all around. I gave all of you high marks in your FITREPs. Now I imagine the captain will find some reason to keep me below him…probably his eternal desire to get me into his bunk.”
Myosha makes a gagging motion off the side of her chair in disgust, making the bridge erupt in a round of laughter and giggles, and Myosha suspends her foolery, realizing her conversation was far more public than she intended. Being the only female Caprican in the convoy, she had dodge and endure his never-ending advances. Though he had no issues retaining whores and one-night stands with any woman with a pulse, he claimed to only be interested in “pure” girls of Caprican descent.
Two hours into their drills, Myosha received word that the Rhea was buttoned up and ready to depart. With the last ship completely refueled and supplied, Myosha notes the time in her logs, and orders the final portion of their drill. With the bulkhead airlocks sealed, she runs the checklists for departure. With every previous drill ending before this point, she signals the Achilles as if she’s the flag ship. The scenario completes with numerous failures on both sides, and Myosha gives the reigns to the Achilles to show her people how it’s done.
Forty-five minutes in their last drill, as they are ending, sirens erupt and they look at each other in confusion. As they spin around checking the systems, Lieutenant Benders, the mousey and awkward blonde tactical officer screams out.
“DRADIS contact! Two unidentified capital ships just jumped in, and are on an attack angle to the docks! Missile launch! By the Gods! Radiological alarms! We got incoming nukes! This is not a drill!”
Ensign Guper yells out in terror followed by Lieutenant Bender’s terrified voice.
“The station’s computers are offline! We’ve lost release functions, we can’t undock!”
“Missile impact in 45 seconds!”
Besieged by the reports, Myosha’s eyes shoot every direction trying to process the situation. In the recesses of her mind, Myosha can’t believe the words bursting out from her mouth.
“Tell me the FTL is still spun-up.”
Seeing a nod from the beleaguered tactical officer, she signals Caleb on the wireless with the Achilles and the convoy before screaming out her fateful command.
As Lieutenant Colonel Styles casually strolls towards the docks with his arms filled with gifts and souvenirs from the station, he can’t understand why the claxons are screaming. As everyone is scrambling around him, he is suddenly overcome with the imminent danger to the station. Reaching an observation portal below his ship the Aporia, the captain witness the trails of hundreds of missiles inbound from the two unknown ships. Taking a deep breath he imagines making the run to his ship in no more than a minute, but his heart stops as his convoy and nearby destroyer suddenly disappear in a flash allowing the missiles to pass unhindered into the station moments later.
Arriving only hundreds of feet apart, the five ships carefully spread out and recover. After an hour of cross-communication, Commander Doneatha Florus has Myosha and Caleb join her on the Achilles. A striking contrast to the convoy, the Achilles was everything that the Aporia was not. It was impeccably clean, fully functional, and had the entire crew in uniform per colonial regulations. After a short informal introduction, she leads them to the conference room, and sits down. The stress of their departure had taken a toll even for the seasoned crew. Taking a deep breath, Commander Florus begins.
“It took us 45 minutes to reboot our systems and clear out the viruses our attackers infected us with. Our people are making adjustments to the computer system to eliminate that vulnerability, but it is a major design flaw. They were able to completely infiltrate the command structure and practically forced the system to vent the atmosphere from the ship. We’re yanking out all of our wireless nodes, and pulling the circuit breakers on the ones we can’t forcibly remove. I understand you didn’t have that problem?”
Shaking her head, Myosha reviews her logs.
“We had an attempt to access our system, but most of the wireless systems in our convoy simply don’t work. Given enough time, they would have infected ours too. We haven’t linked up to any networks in the past 6 months, we’ve been on assignment.”
Nodding the captain sighs.
“Which brings me to my next question. Why here? It’s obvious we’re completely away from everything and everyone, but how did you pick this place? This was a red-line jump even for us.”
She watches suspiciously as Myosha and Caleb share a nervous glare between themselves. Clearing her throat, she waits for Myosha to speak first.
“Our mission was a secret. About nine months ago, a report came in of a weird sighting. A lone battlestar. It was sighted adrift in the nebula nearby. It took us two months to locate it, and four to get it fully operational. It had a major computer failure along with environmental completely offline. A dozen lifeboats were missing, but we never found any of them. We got the boat back online, reformatted the computers, and got her into a stable position. We hid her deep in the nebula so that no one could find her until they wanted her.”
Watching the commander shift uncomfortably in her chair, Myosha lets her loose-fitting uniform hide her rapid breathing and nervous sweat. She continues reluctantly.
“Our orders were hand-written. Someone was going to get a serious promotion for unveiling this find, and…no offence…we were hoping to get promoted off this frak’in convoy. Ironically, this frak’in convoy is the only reason we’re still alive.”
The commander, obviously relieved the mystery wasn’t criminally worse, sighs and breathes out.
“Well, I’ve lost about a 125 various personnel from the attack. Caleb told me you have an excess of personnel…mechanics and engineers?” Seeing Myosha’s heavy nod, she continues.
“Well, transfer about 200 to my ship, and we’ll get them spun up on our procedures. Wait…you said that Battlestar was parked in the nebula. Is she fully ready? Can we use her?”
Shrugging Myosha thinks about her orders, and realizes the pointlessness to keeping to them anymore.
“All she lacks is a crew, Commander.”
Commander Florus watches as Myosha hesitates getting into her bag. After several long minutes, she extracts a heavy mission folder and hands it over to the new ranking officer of her convoy.
“Commander Florus, I present to you one fully operational, completely restored, fully armed and ready Battlestar.”
Opening up the metal case, she extracts original design diagrams, schematics, efficiency reports, and pictures. As her mouth hangs agape, Myosha takes a deep breath and belches out the specifics.
“She’s a one-of-a-kind, experimental Galactica class. The predecessor of the Mercury class, she’s like the Pegasus, except the notable differences. The two outer fighter bay pods do not retract, but a third pod mounted underneath her is. It’s supposed to reduce the combat profile. She has 180 fighters on board, full weapon complement, minus nukes, and I didn’t bother counting how many old raptors were still there. I know it got recorded, but I never saw the number. She is supposed to have a crew complement of 2300, and the food stores are only at 30%. Right now, we have a large pallet of stores bound for Caprica, our 12 remaining months of food stores, not to mention the 2800 excess crewmen that are just lying around.”
Stunned into silence, the commander finally remembers to breathe and inhales sharply. Her hand brushes over the name of the ship laid out on the blueprints before her.“You found the Titanica?”