Book 1 - Chapter 1
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 however, there was a threat to all of mankind - and it was from one of Man’s creations.
The Cylons – automaton robots - 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 first, and they planned to do precisely that...
Cyrannus System – Scorpio Colonial Fleet Yards – Bay 12
Now that the shakedown cruise was over, all that remained to be done before the newest battlestar addition to the Colonial Fleet was ready for its commissioning was some fine-tuning of various systems, and squads of civilian technicians who had accompanied the ship on the shakedown were busy doing just that.
The Mercury-class Battlestar Pegasus had just finished her two-week shakedown cruise and now that she had returned to the fleet yards – the massive fleet dock complex orbiting Scorpio that was the primary base for the Colonial (Home) Fleet - the battlestar’s commanding officer was busy making notes to herself as to the overall performance of her command.
Rear-Admiral Helena Cain smiled to herself as she took in the view in CIC. Various technical staff were busy doing their various chores while members of her bridge crew were overseeing their labors. Admiral Cain however was looking beyond them to a bulkhead at the rear of the room. Bare except for a shelf, she was picturing in her mind what was going to be there when the moment of the actual commissioning was completed. Two flags would be flanking the shelf: the battlestar’s flag and her own admiral’s flag. The latter would be placed in position after the commissioning ceremony and her own ceremony formalizing her command. The admiral’s flag was in her cabin folded away for the moment. The former flag was in another location, along with what would be going on the shelf.
“This is going to be something that I am really going to look forward to seeing you do, Garris”, Admiral Cain thought to herself smugly, “Your handing over of the Pegasus flag - and the sculpture – to me personally is really going to nail down the fact that the end of your time has now come. Oh how I am going to savor this!”
“You’re looking chipper, Helena”, a young blonde civilian technician said as she walked up to her, “Thinking happy thoughts about your shiny new battlestar?”
“Oh yes”, Admiral Cain said with a smile…
CHAPTER ONE - Going to War.
Cyrannus System - Vicinity of Planet Caprica
While in one part of the Cyrannus System a certain battlestar had just gone through its 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. In fact, this was one of the last scheduled fleet maneuvers that this battlestar would be involved in, before its own upcoming decommissioning a few weeks hence and the simultaneous formal acceptance and commissioning into the fleet of its Mercury-class replacement that would bear the same name: Pegasus.
The commander of the Columbia-class battlestar Pegasus was a legend during the last Cylon War. He was Admiral Cain’s older cousin and a certified war hero in his own right. Refusing an admiral’s flag of his own, he would be retiring from active service once the Pegasus was decommissioned and her Mercury-class replacement formally accepted into the fleet. However, unlike her sister-ship - the just-decommissioned battlestar Galactica - the Pegasus would not be turned into a museum ship, or transferred to the Colonial (Reserve) Fleet of mothballed battlestars which were based at Taturas. The Pegasus would be going to a civilian yard for scrapping. The commander did not want to still be on active duty when that happened, hence his decision to decline the Admiral’s flag and retire after all the formalities of decommissioning were completed…
The commander though was trying not to think of that at this time. At this moment he was enjoying some off-duty time hosting a visitor to his ship and had let the CIC duty officer take the Pegasus to her rendezvous with the fleet tender (support ship) Avalon, after which most of the crew could enjoy some well-earned leave. He did not take much time off himself, but having this guest on board paying him a visit would be the nearest thing to relaxation that he would allow himself to partake in for the moment before overseeing the preparations for decommissioning, and his own retirement. It never occurred to anyone at this time - least of all the commander - that this would be the last time that anyone would be contemplating taking any time off.
Up in CIC, the two items that Admiral Cain were coveting in her mind – the Pegasus flag and a porcelain Winged Horse sculpture encased in a glass cube – were still in place, and would remain so until the formal decommissioning ceremony was completed, after which the outgoing Commanding Officer would personally convey the items to the new ship bearing the same name as a tradition of continuance. It was not something that the commander was looking forward to having to do – particularly to a cousin he didn’t particularly care for - but fleet tradition demanded certain things. But in an instant, all thoughts of such peacetime fleet niceties were about to be thrown out the window…
Battlestar Pegasus – Combat Information Center
"Incoming message from Fleet Headquarters", a technician at the communications console called to the CIC duty officer, "Priority One confirmed, but it’s on an open channel".
The duty officer's eyes widened at that comment. Priority One messages generally went through a special encryption protocol, then sent over a secure TAC channel. 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.
Battlestar Pegasus – Commander’s Cabin
The phone on the desk beeped. When the commander picked it up, he heard the voice of one of the Combat Information Center's senior officers on the other end.
"Sorry to interrupt you, Commander, but there is a priority one message from Fleet Headquarters", Captain Glen Sanders – the Comscan (short for CIC Operations Manager, Sensors, Communications, And Navigation) officer and Number Three man on the Pegasus - said over the communicator, "and Sir, it was transmitted in the clear".
"Give it to me, Comms", 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, Comms. I'm coming up to CIC", the commander immediately ordered, "And inform the X.O. immediately".
The commander put down the phone 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, and then she stood and 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 Pegasus into battle.
The primary reason that she was on the Pegasus was in order to pick up a new raptor that had been mistakenly delivered there, and to ferry it over to the Triton, but she had also been told by her Commander to take her time over the assignment 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.
Battlestar Pegasus – Combat Information Center
When Commander Cain made it up to the Combat Information Center, Colonel Geoffrey Tolen - the Executive Officer of the Pegasus - walked onto CIC and up to him. Captain Sanders left the dradis console – where all incoming and outgoing tactical and strategic information for the battlestar was managed - came up to Cain as soon as he entered.
"Condition One set throughout the ship, Commander", he said, "all decks are on full alert and CAG reports All Silver Spar Wing squadrons readying for launch".
"I see we're changing course", Cain commented, "so what's the story, Comms?” 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 Battlestar Atlantia, along with four other battlestars making up a provisional task force. 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, Valkyrie, and Bellerophon. He turned to one of the tactical officers manning the Core Command Console. Core Command oversaw ship deployments from both of the battlestar’s immense landing bays.
"Relay a message to the port landing bay shooter”, Cain ordered, referring to the launch officer manning the port bay launch tubes. “Have him inform Lieutenant Cain that her return to the Triton is out of the question for the present time, and that she is to make herself available to the Pegasus CAG for temporary assignment."
"Yes, Commander", the officer – Lieutenant JG Ginnie Annan - replied. As she complied with Cain’s order, Cain went over to the dradis console in the center of CIC and activated the ships P.A. system.
"Attention all personnel, this is the commander", he started, "We have just received word from Picon 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 an interim 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 Colonel Tolen. 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, X.O.?” Cain asked. Tolen quickly checked the navigation plot, and then he turned to face Cain.
"We will be at the rendezvous in one half-hour. According to the latest messages, Admiral Nagala had just left Picon Fleet HQ before the assault started, and he has been ordered by Fleet Operations to divert from his original destination and to take command of our 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 Wes 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.
The Colonial (Home) Fleet consisted of 120 Battlestars which could be quickly deployed into twenty task forces of six battlestars each. In the event of war, various battlestars of the Reserve fleet would also be activated - those not out on mundane assignments like the escorting of civilian survey and colonization vessels outside the Cyrannus System – to augment the Home Fleet. However, the suddenness of this attack meant that only the Home Fleet’s battlestars were in a position to immediately repel the Cylons. Speaking of which…
"How are we set up for battle, XO?" Cain asked Tolen 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 the recent fleet exercise. 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, "Commander, I've lost all contact with Picon Fleet Headquarters. All channels including the secure scrambler frequencies are dead".