Book 2 - Chapter 5
CHAPTER FIVE: Stocking up on Cylon Tylium
Battlestar Pegasus – Combat Information Center
"Mission Accomplished, Home Plate", Tricia communicated to the Pegasus as the raptor emerged from its jump to a position just ahead of the battlestar.
"You are clear to land, Raptor Zero-One", Annan replied from Core Command, "Well done, Sheba", she added, smiling. The duty personnel in CIC were smiling as well.
“Are all CAP’s back?” Tolen asked Annan. Annan nodded.
“Sheba, this is Alternate”, Tolen communicated to Tricia, “Expedite landing, we’re jumping as soon as you’re in”.
As the raptor made a fast landing down on the Port Bay deck, Colonel Tolen said, "Helm, make the jump". Immediately, the Helm officer initiated the sequence to activate the FTL.
The battlestar jumped into the system. The Pegasus was now in geostationary orbit directly over the refinery complex.
"Launch our fuel shuttles and fighter escort", Captain Sanders ordered to his launch officers after getting the confirmation of their position from the dradis console.
Down in both landing bays the fueling shuttles that had been ready for Tricia’s return immediately departed and headed down planet. One squadron from Black Knight wing launched out of the starboard bay launch tubes and took up screening positions around the Pegasus while one of Silver Spar wing’s squadrons escorted the fueling shuttles down to the surface of the planet.
While all this was happening, Tricia and Gorde headed up to CIC while the Marine contingent went to their own debriefing session. Commander Cain was waiting for them both.
"No problems, I take it?" Cain asked his daughter, after the CIC crew applauded both her and Gorde when they entered.
"Nothing that couldn't be handled", Tricia replied with a deadpan expression. Gorde did his best not to laugh at that classic understatement.
"So we have as much time as we like to take on the fuel", Cain said, "Well done both of you. Perhaps now we can start quickening up our search some for the Galactica... after we take care of that refinery, of course", he concluded.
"The first fuel shuttle had landed on the refinery and is now loading up with tyllium, Annan called out, "and the chemists who went down with that tanker have confirmed that the refined tyllium is of the highest purity. Looks like we hit the jackpot, Commander".
“Just so long as their suits and breathing apparatus continue to protect them against the solium, then I’ll be happy with whatever amount of fuel we get”, Cain replied.
Cain and Tolen smiled. The purity level was in direct proportion to efficiency of their engines. As the tyllium refining ability of the Pegasus herself was somewhat limited, there was a concern that the Cylon tyllium may not have been of a high enough quality to use without resulting in the degrading of their systems. That concern however was put to rest with the chemists' report.
The first few fuel shuttles would take on fuel destined for the primary fuel tanks on the Pegasus. Once that was done, then the storage tanks for the fighter wings would be topped off, and after that, every drop that they could put into containers for storage would be squeezed out of the refinery. Thanks to the success of Tricia’s mission, there was no time pressure, which was just as well as Tyllium was rather volatile, and did not take kindly to rough handling…
The fuel shuttles continued their ferrying of the fuel to the Pegasus. Cain decided to relax in his cabin for a while, leaving Tolen in charge. Tolen promised Cain that he would call him when the tankers had finished up. Cain returned to his cabin, stretched out on his day-bed, and immediately nodded off.
Battlestar Pegasus - Seven Hours Later
It seemed like he had only just closed his eyes when Tolen paged him. Cain answered the communicator.
"All shuttles now off-planet", Tolen reported. Over the last few hours, the Pegasus’ fuel tanks and fighter storage silos had been fully topped off, all of the spare storage spaces in the lower sections of both landing bays had been filled with extra storage tanks - now filled with fuel, and at last, the remaining fueling shuttles were carrying their last full tyllium loads back up to the battlestar.
It had initially amazed Tolen that the refinery had no protective measures at all - evidently, the Cylons thought that its isolation in this remote part of space was protection enough - so accessing it's storage tanks was no problem for the crews of the fueling shuttles. Tens of thousands of extra liters of the precious fuel had been taken aboard. So much, in fact, that the last loads would have to stay on board the shuttles until some of the fuel that had been loaded into the Pegasus' fuel tanks had been consumed.
"Are our shuttles out of blast range?" Cain asked. Tolen replied "Yes". Cain then told Tolen to give Sanders clearance to do one last thing before leaving the system.
"Okay, Comms", Tolen said, "Let CAG know that he's cleared to do it". Sanders nodded, then he keyed his communicator.
"Comms to Bojay", he communicated, "You're cleared to take it out".
“My pleasure, Comms”, Syke confirmed from his viper.
Syke switched his communicator to his squadron frequency, saying "All right, Silver Spar", he communicated, "head back to base. I’m releasing the payload now".
Syke thumbed a Button on his control column. From one of the hard points on the underside of the viper, a missile dropped off and fired up, streaking down to the planet below. Syke turned his viper around and headed back to the Pegasus. He was looking at his scanner monitoring the trajectory of the missile as it homed in on its target: the refinery.
The missile impacted squarely on target - directly in the midst of the refinery’s storage tanks. The remainder of the tyllium ignited from the missile explosion, causing a massive conflagration. The refinery blew up in a spectacular explosion. As it was consumed in the blast, the temperature of the initial fireball started subsidiary fires in the mine shafts below the complex. A large number of subsurface subsidiary explosions were picked up by the Pegasus' sensors.
"That’s one supply of fuel that the toasters won’t be able to make use of for a good long while", Tolen commented with satisfaction as he monitored the destruction from the main display console in the CIC.
"So where to now?" Sanders asked.
"We'd better get well away from here before the toasters come looking for their fuel", Tolen replied, "so set an FTL jump for the next sector as soon as we get all of our fighters back on board, Comms".
"Very good, X.O.", Sanders replied.
Cylon Refinery Planet – Thirty Hours Later
Tolen was right about the Cylons. Thirty hours after the Pegasus had departed the system, a conference was being held on a Cylon Base Star that was orbiting over the destroyed complex. Fires from the mine shafts were still blazing.
"So there’s nothing more you can tell us?" one of the humanoid Cylons asked another.
"No", was the reply, “There’s nothing left down there to provide any firm clues”.
The first humanoid thought about the circumstances of this mishap which ended up putting a Base Star out of action. Another version of him had been on board the Base Star that got badly damaged by the exploding tanker, and that version of him was killed in the explosion. That version’s consciousness had been transferred to another Cylon humanoid body on board another Base Star not far away – thanks to a resurrection ship that was nearby - and now he was being interrogated as to the cause of the disaster.
"I could almost believe that the tanker's cargo just spontaneously exploded if was not for one thing", the first humanoid said.
"And what is that?" a third Cylon humanoid asked.
"The fact that the refinery from where that tanker came from has also been destroyed. That, plus the fact that the tanker exploded at the moment where the Base Star was most vulnerable is too much of a co-incidence, I think", the first one answered.
"It is possible that it is all a co-incidence, but you’re right: the timing would seem to indicate otherwise", the second Cylon humanoid concurred, "so are there any indications at all as to whom - or what - caused this?"
"It could not be the Galactica, or any of the ships that the battlestar is protecting, according to our intelligence", the third Cylon humanoid replied, "and since we have no indication of any other surviving ships from the Human colonies at this time, we simply do not know".
"But if there are other enemies out there - human or otherwise - we have to find them", the first humanoid pointed out, “Before they can inflict more damage on us. The loss of this refinery is going to hit us hard”.
At that point, another humanoid Cylon walked in on the three. It was a Number Six model. 'She' had listened in on the conversation.
"Dividing our resources will be detrimental to our primary mission of hunting down the Galactica and the other ships", she opined.
"But if there are indeed others out there, or any other species that opposes us, they must be dealt with as well", the first humanoid Cylon restated.
"Unfortunately, I agree", the Number Six answered. Grimly, the other three nodded.