Book 2 - Chapter 3
CHAPTER THREE: Making Plans for some Tyllium
Battlestar Pegasus: Combat Information Center
“A Cylon tyllium mining and refining operation”, Cain said as he watched the recordings taken from the raptor’s scanner platform, “sizeable setup too”.
“And regularly used by the toasters for quite some time, judging from the solium levels”, Tolen interjected.
“That’s definitely going to make things rather difficult”, Sanders said, “The frequency of the tanker visits, I mean”, he hastily added.
“Then let’s go down to the briefing room, talk to the raptor crew, and then get a plan made up. We need the fuel, and we also need to make sure that the toasters don’t get any more from it”, Cain decided, “And page Captain Syke. We’ll need his input”.
Battlestar Pegasus – Silver Spar wing Briefing Room
In the briefing room, Cain, Tolen, Syke, and Sanders were going over the results of the recon probe with Tricia and Gorde. After transmitting their data to Core Command when they jumped back to the battlestar, Tricia had landed the raptor back on board the Pegasus. Now, she and Gorde were taking the time to have a drink of water and a couple of crackers from a servitor in the back of the room while the three senior officers went over their scans. She would have preferred to take a shower, but it would have to wait until the debriefing was over and done with. Long coasting runs in a raptor, plus a close encounter with Cylon fighters made for a lot of perspiration. For his part, Gorde was sipping at his glass of water and stretching out on one of the chairs, just glad to relax for a few minutes.
“It was rather risky going in close to the refinery like that”, Syke said to Tricia in a tone of faint disapproval.
“We needed the data, CAG”, Tricia replied, “and it was a calculated risk, but it was one worth taking”.
“I have no problem with that, Lieutenant”, Commander Cain interjected, “Good work, both of you”.
“Thank you, Commander”, both Tricia and Gorde acknowledged. Syke was briefly annoyed as it seemed initially that Cain was indicating disapproval of his caution in his congratulations, but Tricia was right: the refinery needed to be investigated and Tricia did bring back the information.
At that moment, Captain Lance Voight, the CAG of the late Battlestar Pacifica’s strike wing – The Black Knights - walked into the briefing room. While Commander Cain talked with his daughter and Gorde, Sanders and Syke filled Voight in on the situation.
“So, we have toasters out here”, Voight concluded when he heard the news.
“Well, at least one of their sources for fuel”, Syke clarified, “and judging from its size and length of operation, a prime source at that”.
“Well, Cylon or not, tyllium is something we can definitely use”, Voight answered.
“That’s true, Captain Voight”, Tolen interjected, “We didn’t get all that we could have gotten at Molecay, thanks to our having to leave earlier than planned”.
“That’s something else for another time and place, X.O.”, Cain said, turning back from speaking with Gorde. Tolen got the message. There was the little problem of a traitor somewhere amongst those civilians who had been loading up the foodstuffs at Molecay. Everyone else had been accounted for, so amongst those hundred or so persons was the individual who had built that beacon to alert the Cylons and nearly caused the loss of the Pegasus as a result.
“So what do we do about this tyllium complex, Commander?”, Tolen asked, getting the subject back to the matter at hand.
“Now’s the time for some opinions”, Cain replied, “so what do you think, Comms?”
The main reason why Cain had Sanders appointed the number Three man on the Pegasus’ command staff was his grasp of understanding difficult situations and quickly coming up with viable solutions. It was a rare gift that Cain appreciated.
“We need whatever fuel that we can get, so I see that we have two choices: try to capture a tanker or two, or go straight in to the refinery and grab it from their storage silos”, Sanders suggested.
“Both choices risks compromising the secret of the existence of the Pegasus, Comms”, Syke cautioned, “So far, we were lucky both at Caprica, and at Molecay. But if we make a mistake now, we could have the whole Cylon war machine down on our heads”.
“Bring ‘em on”, Voight blurted out, “I prefer fighting to this running away”. Voight was still spoiling for payback after the loss of the Pacifica. Aggression was a good trait for a CAG to have, but it could not be allowed to blind the CAG to the practical matters at hand.
“We fight the battles that we can win, Lance”, Cain replied, “and until we can link up with the Galactica, we have to avoid drawing too much attention to ourselves. I don’t like it any more than you do, but that is our primary objective. Am I clear?” he concluded.
Voight looked at Cain. While Cain had been speaking in a conversational tone, his eyes were the color of ice.
“I understand, Commander”, Voight at last replied, “I just want to make the toasters pay for what they did to the Pacifica, not to mention the rest of the fleet and our home worlds”.
“And we will”, Cain assured him, “but we have to face the fact that even with your wing reinforcing us, a single battlestar would still be at a vast disadvantage. Once we find the Galactica, then we can start doing something more overtly. Until then, we have to keep the Pegasus intact”.
Cain really sympathized with Voight. He would love nothing better than to turn around and fight, but commanders were commanders because they thought with their heads, not other parts of their anatomy.
“If we decide to go for their tankers, what do we need to do?”, Voight asked, tacitly yielding to Cain’s argument.
“First, we need to get an idea of what it is we will be up against”, Cain replied. He turned to Sanders.
“Comms”, Cain asked Sanders, “What are the specs for that type of tanker that the toasters are using to transport their fuel?”
“According to the warbook”, Sanders replied, “if the specs have not changed from the original intelligence reports, that tanker is capable of holding twenty thousand liters of tyllium. Its crewed by three centurions and it has only a limited FTL capability. A little bit less than our raptors”.
“Which means that the recipient of the fuel would not be all that far away”, Tolen deduced, “so whether its destination is a Base Star or a squadron fueling depot, if they get a warning, then they will be on top of us in no time”.
“Then if nothing else”, Cain decided, “that complex must be destroyed. Getting extra fuel would be nice, but if all else fails, that complex gets taken out!”
“Won’t that alert the toasters to our existence?” Voight asked.
“If they don’t see who did it, then they won’t be sure exactly what happened. Besides, perhaps it is about time we started giving them at least a little payback”, Cain answered, smiling at Voight…
There were nods at that. They may have lost the big war, but if they could not change the outcome of that, then guerilla warfare with its hit-and-run tactics was the next best thing - at least until they linked up with the Galactica.
“Even if the toasters are not sure who’s doing this to them, they will start looking”, Tolen pointed out, “but that will divert their attention away from the Galactica, so it’s win-win either way”.
“And make the toasters’ tyllium stocks somewhat more difficult to maintain”, Sanders added, “they can’t have all that many facilities of this size, and the fact that it has been used a lot by them bears that little hypothesis out”.
“All right then”, Cain decided, “We devise a plan to at least try to get some of that tyllium, but regardless, we deny it to the enemy. Start drawing it up. Sheba and Newguy, get some sack time. You’re gonna need it, I think”. At that, Cain left the briefing room. Tricia and Gorde followed, then Tolen, leaving Sanders and both CAGs to start working out the details of the plan of attack.
Battlestar Pegasus – Commander’s Cabin
It was about three hours afterwards. Cain was relaxing in his quarters - a rare luxury for him - when his communicator beeped.
“Cain”, he answered.
“This is Captain Syke”, was the reply.
“What’s up, CAG?”, Cain asked as he got up out of the chair that he had been relaxing in.
“I think we have an attack plan ready for you to look at”, Syke replied, “Pointer came up with it. It’s risky, but it’s bold”.
“Right”, Cain replied, standing up and putting on his tunic, “I’ll see you down in the briefing room”.
Battlestar Pegasus – Silver Spar wing briefing room
When Cain got down to the briefing room, he found both Syke and Voight waiting for him.
“Okay then, Captain”, Cain said to Voight, “Bojay told me that you came up with the plan, so I’m listening”.
“Well, Commander”, Voight started, “we had thought about hi-jacking a tanker, but as the shipments seem to be on a very regular basis, it would attract attention. Immediately destroying the complex is definitely possible, but we won’t get any fuel out of it”.
“I know that, Captain”, Cain replied irritably, “so how can we get the fuel?”
“What I suggest, is that we hi-jack a tanker just after it tanks up and departs the complex”, Voight said, “Once we board and waste the toasters on board, we send the tanker back on autopilot to its destination”.
“Send a full tanker back to the toasters?” Cain asked, slightly confused.
“It won’t be just carrying fuel, Commander. As you may know, tyllium is very volatile. If something were to set off the tyllium when it reached its destination......” Voight tailed off.
Cain thought about it. Twenty thousand liters of tyllium exploding in either the midst of a base star or a fueling station would be cataclysmic! He smiled.
“That is an excellent idea, Captain Voight”, Cain replied, “but you won’t have much time to capture the tanker before it FTL’s. And you’ll have to destroy the toasters without destroying the on-board computer systems”.
“We’ll use a raptor manned with a boarding party of marines”, Syke said, “It’ll come up behind the tanker as it lifts off from the complex. They will hard-dock, kill the toasters, and then access the autopilot. Once we find out its destination and ETA, then we’ll set an explosive device for that time. If successful, then there won’t be many fueling shuttle trips for a while, enabling us to take the time to load up with all that we can carry before we destroy the complex itself”.
Cain thought about the plan. True, it was risky, but given their circumstances, it was the best idea that he had heard. Besides, this could also provide a great way to inflict some damage on additional Cylon assets without betraying outright the existence of the Pegasus.
“Very well, Captain, Then let’s do it!”, Cain approved.
Battlestar Pegasus – Silver Spar wing Briefing Room – Two hours later
Voight and Syke looked over at the party of Colonial Marines sitting in the briefing room. All were in their combat pressure suits, and were all well-armed. Just behind them, Tricia and Gorde were sitting quietly. At Syke’s they had volunteered to fly the Marines to the tanker. For a chance like this – both agreed – rest time can wait.
“We’ve equipped Lieutenant Cain’s raptor with a pressure lock and explosive ring”, Syke was saying to the Marines, “which will allow you to blast your way into the cockpit. Take out the toasters fast, and for frack’s sake, do not hit the instrument panels, or allow any of the toasters to disable anything either.
First Lieutenant Nate Howe - The commander of the Pegasus' Marine contingent - asked, “How close is the cockpit area to the tyllium storage tanks? I don’t like the idea of stray weapons fire causing an explosion”.
“According to our intel regarding that particular class of tanker, there is a substantial blast shield between the cockpit and the storage tanks”, Syke replied, “The primary concern is that the toasters may have a means to set off the tanks remotely. It will be hard, I know. Their cockpit is unpressurized, which means that your suits will hinder your movements somewhat”.
“We’ve trained in those suits quite thoroughly, Captain”, Howe assured him, “and I think that if Lieutenant Cain can get us over the cockpit okay, then we can do the rest”. Howe looked back at Tricia, who nodded.
“Then you’d better get going then. Based on the recon data we have, the next estimated time of a tanker fueling up will be in ninety minutes. Dismissed”, Syke concluded.
As the Marines headed out of the room to board the transport to the hangar bay, Syke walked along with Gorde and Tricia and boarded another transporter. Syke was giving last-minute instructions to them both.
“We’ve already placed a 50 kilogram Solenite warhead in your cargo bay. Once the tanker is secure, get it into the cockpit and set the detonation cycle for timed countdown, based upon the ETA time on the tanker autopilot. As a contingency, a remote detonation control relay is in the cockpit in the event it may be needed”.
“I just hope that the toasters aren’t ready for us, CAG”, Tricia replied. Syke shrugged. What could he say to that?
Tricia picked up her helmet from the floor of the transporter and held it as they sped along to the launch bay where the raptor was being prepared.
Battlestar Pegasus – Port Landing Bay Hanger Two
Both of the transporters quickly arrived at the hanger where Tricia’s raptor had been quickly refueled and prepared for the mission. The Marines egressed first and quickly boarded the raptor. While Gorde boarded after them and helped the Marines strap in, Tricia quickly gave the raptor an external once-over. Satisfied, she boarded her ship, walked past the seated marines - and the warhead, which was sitting in a protective container - then strapped into the pilots seat. For his part, Gorde made sure that the floor hatch leading to the just-installed telescoping airlock was secure, then he strapped into his own seat.
After Annan gave Tricia the all-clear for launch, Tricia quickly got the raptor powered up, and taxied it onto to the bay lift. The usual procedure of pumping the air out of the bay, then elevating the raptor up to the landing bay deck took place.
“This is Raptor Zero-One, We’re on the deck and ready to launch”, Tricia crisply communicated after she started up her engines and made sure that all of her instruments were indicating everything nominal. As this was not a recon mission, the call-sign for the raptor had changed.
“Core Command transferring control of Raptor Zero-One to pilot. Launch when ready”, was Annan’s reply.
With a smooth acceleration, the raptor exited the landing bay and headed out away from the Pegasus.
“FTL co-ordinates inputted into the navi-comp”, Gorde reported, “We’re set to jump at any time you’re ready”.
“All right, everyone”, Tricia announced to the marines, “commencing jump in 5.....4.....3.....2.....1......jump!
Raptor Zero-One – Vicinity of Cylon Tyllium Planet
The familiar uncomfortable feeling hit all of the occupants as the FTL jump to the moon orbiting the Cylon refinery planet took place. As the effects wore off, Tricia powered down the raptor.
“All right then”, she announced, “We’re now on silent mode. When the tanker lifts off, we’ll head to intercept. Lieutenant Howe, are your men ready?” she asked.
“Affirmative, pilot”, Howe crisply replied, “by the way, my call-sign while we are on this mission is Nebula-Six”. It was all business with him.
Now it was a matter of waiting. Tricia knew that when it was time to move, it would have to be quick. She hoped that the specs on the controls for the tanker were still accurate. Forty Years was a long time for a ship to stay unaltered…